Online Memoir Summit from Village Writing School: Going on now, and it’s free!!!

All right, if you don’t have something to do this weekend, and you’re interested in Memoir and Creative Nonfiction, or you just want to listen to  some very cool and inspirational writing videos by some knowledgeable and admirably-published writers, MFA teachers, and industry insiders, here’s your gig.  And you don’t even have to pay for it.  Unbelievable.

What: Village Writing School Memoir Summit

When:  This weekend

Where: Your home computer

How: By Youtube video

Why: Because it’s the exact same type of presentation you get from going to a writer’s conference, without the travel time and the price tag of $100 to $400.

Submissions Challenge Month Three: Accepting the hard work of writing; rejection statistics of the month

By the end of the month, I had run through my budget for submitting and was only submitting to free markets.

Submission Tracker 3It is now that I begin to see the real hard work of writing.  I mean, in order to get 22 submissions in 30 days, I had to pretty much work on the submissions challenge every weekend day and some nights.  Kindof like grad school.

Actually, it was grad school which made me believe I could do this.  It was clear from finishing grad school that if I was disciplined, I could carve a good 15 to 20 hours of writing/reading/thinking time out of the average work week, with short bursts of up to 40 to 50 hours in seven days.  Deciding to apply that kind of work load to writing was just the next step.

This month I have made 22 submissions.  I received two “warmer” rejections, each with an invitation to resubmit, from literary magazines.  I received five “stone cold” rejections, with one flash fiction piece getting a quick rejection twice.  I wrote “what’s wrong with this story” on its line on the submission tracker and stopped submitting it for the moment.

I did not get a request of any type from any of the four #pitchwars mentors I queried.  Although I’m sure I’m not alone, it was a disappointment.  Made me feel like back when I was in 7th grade, and I wasn’t one of the popular girls. Perhaps I will try again next year.  To the organization’s credit, they didn’t charge me or any other contestant anything, which given some of the other contest fees could be seen as quite generous.

Last month I wrote that I was willing to pay to make submissions and enter contests.  I spent $73 submitting stories this month, mostly for three contests.  In addition, I paid $8.50 for the Literistic List of the Month, which was pretty helpful.  During the second half of the month, I saw several more contests I might have entered. But it just cost too much. By the end of the month, I had run through my budget for submitting and was only submitting to free markets.  We get paid on the first of the month around here.  I had to cut back.

So, to sum up the stats:  9/22 to 10/22

Submissions:  22

Personal or warmer rejections: 2

Stone Cold rejections: 9, including the four from #pitchwars

Still in submission:  23, including six emailed and website-form submissions and 17 with Submittable.

Next month’s goal will be the original first month goal again:  30 submissions in 30 days.

And no, I am not doing NaNoWriMo.   I’m doing my submissions challenge until I get an agent or enough street cred that I’ve got editors who’ll just look at my work.

I admit this may take a while.


This from The Paris Review: Is Literature Dead?

David L. Ulin, a professor of literature at USC, wrote this reflection after he was informed of the matter by his 15 year old son, who admitted that The Great Gatsby had some phenominal writing in it, but still, claimed Lit to be deceased.

Having just written about the experience of reading literature with my own 15 year old, I had to wonder: why had my son not claimed the same thing? He clearly is less interested in reading than Ulin’s son Noah, requiring reminders and cajoling to get school assignments read, and never, as Noah apparently has, reading a book voluntarily. Yet my son, Andrew, wouldn’t say literature is dead. Perhaps because he reads for comprehension, generally not philosophically to determine whether the text is living or not, or perhaps because his dad is not a literature person, but a classicist, which, I surmise, is a little bit more intimidating. Assailing Classics would be obvious — Dead Languages are Dead, Dad! But his father, having heard all these arguments regularly on any given street corner, and having, withal, a rather techy nature– would be ready for him.

I’m convulsed with laughter at my own arguments and I don’t know if anyone else will find this funny. But Dr. Ulin, your son is a reader and a thinker and be grateful. Anyone who reads Lord of the Flies voluntarily while at camp has a potential for a future in letters. Of course, what that future will be will depend on technology. Be grateful nevertheless. Two out of my three sons inherited dyslexia from my mother in law.  It’s been tough. And fifteen year olds are generally rebellious and difficult. When Noah is 18 or 20, he’ll be a different person.

How to Write a Cover Letter for a Submission of Completed work, and do you put a Salutation in the Cover Letter Blank on Submittable?

So, getting down to the submissions for the Query Challenge.  On Submittable, on most (not all) of the forms they ask you for a cover letter and you have to type it into the blank.  My standard cover letter is:


(one to two sentences about the work I am submitting and what the theme or intent of the work is)

(standard bio paragraph, which right now is most-noted publications plus professional affiliations and biggest current project, my novel)

(standard paragraph thanking them for considering the work)


But what should the salutation be?

“Dear Editor”

“Dear Editorial Team”

“Dear (name of editor I looked up on their masthead)

“Dear (name of journal)

or … nothing, just go into the letter.

Any thoughts?


Gulf Coast Contest for Short Prose and link to a how-to on writing short

Gulf Coast Prize for Short Prose

Prose can include fiction, essay, creative non-fiction, or prose poem.  Deadline has been extended to August 31st, 2018, according to editor Justin Jannice.

Your entry(ies)  must be less than 500 words. You can enter as many as three pieces.  Entry fee:  $18, and includes a year’s subscription to the magazine.   First prize, $1000 with $250 going to an unnamed number of honorable mentions.  Judge will be Laura Van Der Berg, author of The Third Hotel and Find Me.

Since I used to live in Houston, I thought this was a great opportunity.  But I pause at the entry fee — though contests always have had entry fees — and then I realize the real kicker.  I don’t think I’ve written anything less than 500 words.  In the last week, trying to write short, I wrote three pieces of less than 800 words, but under 500, no, I couldn’t come up with something that short.

I wonder what would happen to my story “Poochie Pie” if I cut about 200 words of its 700?

Does anyone else have trouble writing short?  OPEN: a journal of arts and letters just published an ironically long piece by Kent H. Dixon on how to write short, and it’s about as helpful as anything I’ve seen on the subject.  Honorable mention to Dixon on the part about dandelions.  If you want to read that part first, however, you’ll have to skip to the end.

Let us call this Day One of the Query Challenge … and should you pay to submit your work?

Or day 2.  I managed to make two submissions yesterday afternoon and so, if today is day 2,  now I am ahead!  The goal will be 15 submissions before September 22; however, I am secretly wondering if I can get higher.

Making these subs means getting used to Submittable, which they didn’t have back before I was teaching, ten years ago when I used to send stuff to literary magazines by mail, or sometimes email.  Seems like every small press uses it.

It’s a help, but a hinderance.  A lot of places charge money to submit!!!

In the old days, the creed of the freelance writer was you never pay anyone for anything.  But in the modern day, I guess, things are lightening up?  Anyone have an opinion?


Five Links to Lists of Creative Non Fiction Markets

I am coming back to blogging again now after our move to Fort Collins, Colorado. Colorado is, quite possibly, the promised land, but that’s another post. I am aware that it is pretty much time to start the new Query Challenge.  Tomorrow.  In order to gear myself up, inspire myself, and give myself some ideas, I will put in here five links to Creative Nonfiction and Essay markets:

From BookFox: Ranking of Literary Nonfiction Markets:  Not technically Creative Nonfiction, but Essay Markets, but there’s a lot of crossover

50 plus markets for Creative Nonfiction from University of New Mexico which are mostly literary magazines

10 Essay Markets from Writer’s Weekly — a totally different sort of market here; more commercial journals

Writing to Heal’s List of Essay Markets — Eclectic and categorized by subgenre

And my own list from last October :  Five Lists of Places to Submit Your Personal Essays

On your marks … get ready … submit!