My short story “Poisoned Pawn” was published today in Crime Factory #13. Cool cover art by Eric Beetner.
Posts Tagged ‘publishing’
I don’t know who Judy Blume is. From what I just read online, it sounds like she’s a fairly successful author. But I did like these two pieces of advice that she gave on how to handle it when your work gets rejected. I was talking to my friend Al awhile back, and his eyes seemed to open up when he heard one of my stories had been rejected 40 times. Yes, I think the only reason that I ever get accepted is that I send my stories out to a lot of different places. So that means a lot of rejections. It’s a drag, but I actually kind of expect to get rejected, so that softens the blow a little. (Note: my friend Al is a very talented writer, and I suspect his work gets accepted more quickly than mine!).
Anyway, here are the quotes. I like how she emphasizes the importance of just getting better:
On advising young writers about their careers
“It’s all about your determination, I think, as much as anything. There are a lot of people with talent, but it’s that determination. I mean, you know, I would cry when the rejections came in — the first couple of times, anyway — and I would go to sleep feeling down, but I would wake up in the morning optimistic and saying, ‘Well, maybe they didn’t like that one, but wait till they see what I’m going to do next.’ And I think you just have to keep going.
“You know what? The thing is that nobody writes unless they have to. So if you have to write because it’s inside you, then you will.”
For two years I received nothing but rejections. One magazine, Highlights for Children, sent a form letter with a list of possible reasons for rejection. “Does not win in competition with others,” was always checked off on mine. I still can’t look at a copy of Highlights without wincing.
I would go to sleep at night feeling that I’d never be published. But I’d wake up in the morning convinced I would be. Each time I sent a story or book off to a publisher, I would sit down and begin something new. I was learning more with each effort. I was determined. Determination and hard work are as important as talent.
Don’t let anyone discourage you! Yes, rejection and criticism hurt. Get used to it. Even when you’re published you’ll have to contend with less than glowing reviews. There is no writer who hasn’t suffered.
The other day a friend sent me a link to a blog entry entitled: “Have we been reading your submission for, like, a year?” Minna Proctor, editor-in-chief, The Literary Review, wrote the blog entry.
The Literary Review bills itself as “An International Journal of Contemporary Writing.” Frankly, I hadn’t heard of it before, but I just signed-up for a subscription. A few years back, when I started writing short stories, I decided I should read the journals and get a sense for what is being published. You can’t succeed at writing if don’t read (and read!).
Anyway, Minna’s post detailed the process that she and her staff go through when selecting stories to include in their journal. I found it really interesting and informative. On the plus side, every story is read and treated seriously. On the negative side, it can take over a year for a story to work its way through the review process.
Like most aspiring writers, I’ve sent stories to a lot of journals. And, of course, I’ve received a lot of rejections. I’ve also had stories accepted (I think seven or eight). I’m always rather amazed when a story is accepted, because I’ve been dubious that they are even read! But that’s the cynic in me. It’s nice to know that there are people out there like Minna.
Last Saturday night my good friend Greg Bardsley had a book launch at Kepler’s bookstore in Menlo Park for his new novel Cash Out. A good time was had by all! I’m a big fan of Greg’s work in general, and Cash Out specifically. Following is the review that I posted on Good Reads:
Cash Out is a wonderful combination of the bizarre, hysterical, and gruesome. I was first turned on to Greg Bardsley’s writing a few years ago when I read his short story “Upper Decking.” Amazing! He has a very distinct voice: funny, somewhat crime centric, off-beat characters, a little violence thrown in. I agree with another review that I could see Cash Out being turned into a movie. A future cult classic, like The Big Lebowski. Buy it. Read it.
In March, I wrote a post about The Review Review – an online publication that publishes articles and reviews about literary magazines. Since then I’ve discovered another source that does the same thing. It’s called NewPages.com. It has a wealth of information on literary journals, and other things. Here’s the site’s description:
News, information and guides to independent bookstores, independent publishers, literary magazines, alternative periodicals, independent record labels, alternative newsweeklies and more.
I’ve often wondered if people actually read the literary journals where I submit my stories. Apparently people do!
/ænˈtɪfəni/ Show Spelled[an-tif-uh-nee] Show IPA
noun, plural an·tiph·o·nies.
1. alternate or responsive singing by a choir in two divisions.
2. a psalm, verse, etc., so sung; antiphon.
3. a responsive musical utterance.
Chris Katsaropoulos’s excellent new novel, Antiphony, brings up two big questions. Can science identify a Final Theory that ties together everything; the ultimate secret of the universe? And, Does God exist?
The man who grapples with these questions is Theodore Reveil, “one of the leading lights in String Theory physics.” The book starts with Reveil in California, just before he is about to give a presentation at a conference called, the New International Perspectives on String Theory Symposium. The presentation will mark a pinnacle of sorts in the career of Mr. Reveil, but, unfortunately, he loses his notes. Flustered, rather than presenting the science-centered speech that he’d planned to give, he asks his audience:
What if the universe, instead of being a giant machine, as we have looked at it and studied it for the past three hundred years, is really a giant thought?
In other words, what if God truly does exist? Such speculation does not sit well with his colleagues.
When the book isn’t focused on the big questions, we’re asked to closely examine the mundane aspects of life. Reveil on the toilet. Reveil in his car. Reveil reading his work email. In the hands of a lesser writer, these scenes may have been banal, but they were actually my favorite part of the book. I enjoyed following Reveil as he “revealed” his day-to-day life. But I also think something more was going on. The scenes reminded me of something that the author Haruki Murakami says he tries to do in his work: “I like details very much. Tolstoy wanted to write the total description; my description is focused on a very small area. When you describe the details of small things, your focus gets closer and closer, and the opposite of Tolstoy happens—it gets more unrealistic. That’s what I want to do. The closer it gets, the less real it gets. That’s my style.” Katsaropoulos pulls us in very closely, and as a result it gives the reader a sense that things are not in balance. In fact, to me the novel shows Reveil as he slowly slips into madness. Or does he? Maybe he can just see something that the rest of us can’t – the truth.
Katsaropoulos has a beautiful and easy-to-read writing style. I breezed through the novel like a long short story. A big thumbs up from me, and I’m looking forward to seeing what this author has up his sleeve next.
The prose in Al Riske’s first novel, Sabrina’s Window, is clear and simple and elevates the book into something truly wonderful. He’s apparently an advocate of the Iceberg Theory of writing, where what is left unsaid is often more important than what Riske chooses to tell us.
The story revolves around two characters: Joshua (a 17-year old boy) and Sabrina (a 31-year old woman). The book begins when Joshua accidentally breaks the window of Sabrina’s home in Taos, New Mexico. They soon form a somewhat unlikely friendship; platonic, yes, but also with hints that there is a desire on both sides to cross over to something more. Sabrina becomes something of a mentor for Joshua, a guide into the confusing world of adulthood. The book frequently changes perspectives, so in one section you follow Joshua, then Sabrina, then the two together, then Joshua again, etc. I’ve always been a fan of this type of narrative, and it works very well here.
Sabrina’s Window is actually Riske’s second book. His first, Precarious, was a collection of short stories. Like a lot of very good writers, Riske’s work has a distinctive stamp. There is often a young man (really a boy) who struggles as he enters adulthood. He’s often mystified by women. Riske’s young men are typically smart, sincere, interested in writing, and perhaps conflicted when it comes to religion. Ah, but it’s Riske’s women who I find more interesting! They’re strong, independent, often sexually bold, and blessed with razor-sharp intellects. They remind me of the female leads in the romantic comedies from the 1940′s. Riske is clearly a man who loves women, and it comes through in his writing.
So a big thumbs up from me. And I’m definitely looking forward to what Mr. Riske comes up with next.
Posted in Short Story Reviews, tagged Fence, fiction, Kenyon Review, New Orleans Review, One Story, Ploughshares, publishing, reading, Segue, short story, The Review Review, writing on March 25, 2012 | 2 Comments »
As another example, many sections of Mark Richardson’s short story, “Black String Bikini” are written as flash-forwards, insights into things that will happen, that change the perception of what is happening, if not for the characters, at least for the reader.
The mention was short, but sweet for me, and although I was happy to see it, I was even happier to learn about The Review Review. The online publication has articles and reviews of literary journals. Becky Tuch (pic), the founding editor, writes that she created The Review Review as “merely a way to guide writers toward the journals that most interest them.”
A few years ago, when I started sending stories to literary journals, I decided that I would become more familiar with them. I’ve since subscribed to a number of journals, including One Story, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, New Orleans Review, and Fence. I ‘ve really enjoyed them, and plan to subscribe to more. Hopefully, the suggestions I’ll get from Tuch’s magazine will help guide me toward interesting reads.
What is the fastest way to create marital discord? Have only one iPad.
My wife and I have two young children, and as a result at night we’re often stuck at home. And since we’re stuck we’d find ourselves wanting to surf the web on our favorite little computing device. We typically get along great (my wife and I), but who got access to the iPad created fireworks. Our solution? We bought a second one, an iPad 2. Yes, we helped Apple have a blowout quarter, and I just bought a new iPhone 4S, so I helped with the current quarter as well.
The new iPad 2 coincided with the re-upping of my New Yorker subscription. It had lapsed for a few months. For a couple of weeks now, I’ve gotten the magazine on my iPad, and I’m trying to decide if I like this format. I know, this is not a new topic. People have been writing about hardcopy vs. online for years. I’m a news junky, and I get nearly all my news online. I used to love buying the newspaper, but now can’t imagine doing so. But maybe a magazine is different? Here is a very quick list of my pro’s and cons.
- The online magazine arrives sooner (Monday, instead of Thursday for the hard copy).
- No recycling.
- Last night I read the Fiction story, and they offered an audio version recorded by the author. That was cool. (The problem is if you move the text by mistake – which I did – you have to go all the way back to the beginning of the recording. So halfway through I just switched to reading).
- Everything is archived! I have easy access to past issues of the magazine.
- I suspect that all the reading I do online is hurting my eyes. Or maybe it’s just because I’m getting old.
- When I download an issue, does it eat up memory on the iPad? I’m not sure. Maybe it lives in the cloud.
- There is something nice about holding the actual magazine. And it’s a lot easier to share with someone else.
Okay, so the list isn’t very comprehensive, but it reflects where I’m at now. More research required. If you’re interested in getting the New Yorker app for your iPad, this video by Jason Schwartzman does a good job of explaining the features. And it’s very funny!