Monday, August 31, 2009

Don Draper: "Icon of Masculinity-in-Crisis for the 21st Century"

Thank you, John Curry, for sharing this “Mad Men” article from the Chronicle Review/The Chronicle for Higher Education:

“And now comes Don Draper, icon of masculinity-in-crisis for the 21st century. Don is in pain, yes, and hurting himself, too (for all his spectacular emotional reserve). But he is also different. No tears or blood on that impeccably pressed suit. No close ties to other men. What is it that makes this odd blend of Jay Gatsby, American Gigolo, and the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit so captivating a figure for today?”

Read on here.

I Took a Blog Stay-cation and All I Got Was This Lousy T-shirt

Actually, I didn’t even get a T-shirt. But I got a little extra time to spend with my novel. I’m trying to come up with a draft of the ending chapters, and it’s hard straddling that line between pushing through and relaxing enough to let things arise on their own.

It was interesting that blogging turns out to be exactly like so much of life on the internet: I missed it terribly even as I barely noticed its absence from my life. What does that mean?

ISO Scary Sea Stories

Having just read the excellent (and highly recommended) In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, a nonfiction account of an attack on a whaleship in the early 19th century,this call for submissions caught my eye. (The Essex attack was the basis for Moby-Dick.)

The Bitter End: Tales of Nautical Terror
Edited by Jessy Marie Roberts
Email your submission to Please put SUBMISSION: THE BITTER END in the subject line of your email, followed by the title of the story.

We are looking for scary stories that take place on ships, boats, rafts, anything - as long as the setting is on - or in - or under - the ocean (or land-locked bodies of water or lakes). Traditional monsters (werewolves, vampires, witches, mummies, ghosts, etc.) are welcome if presented in a new and interesting way. The setting (at sea) must be integral to plot development.

Stories can be realistic or fantastical. They can take place at any time - past, present, future, alternate. We are looking for a good variety of unique and terrifying sea stories. We are looking for short stories 500-5,000 words in length.

Please do not send stories with a strong religious theme. Also, please do not send rape/torture stories, anything 'x' rated or pornographic, pet mutilation tales, fiction about child abuse and/or pedophilia, or submissions that denigrate any race, gender or sexual orientation.

Submissions will be accepted until Saturday, October 31, 2009. We will not make final selections until the end of the submission period. Responses will be sent by November 30, 2009. Please do not query about the status of your submission until December 1, 2009. We will send notification that we received your story within one week of submission. If you do not receive acknowledgement of your submission, please resend.

Reading: Breathless in Bombay

From my friends at the fabulous Gettysburg Review, an event recommendation:

The Gandhi Memorial Center presents:

Murzban F. Shroff

Shortlisted for the 2009 Commonwealth Prize

Thursday, September 3, 2009
6:30pm - refreshments
7:00pm - Address and reading by author
followed by Q & A and book signing

(RSVP to by Sept 1)

Breathless in Bombay (St. Martin's Press Griffin Original, February 2008) is a collection of stories as diverse as the city itself. The author, two-time Pushcart nominee, Murzban F. Shroff believes that the spirit of a city lives through its characters and Breathless in Bombay is made up of stories of many lives, many aspirations and the emotions that affect the lives and the livelihoods of the city. From taxi drivers to tycoons, Breathless in Bombay peels away the city's layers by allowing its tradition and personality to unfold through its tales, one citizen at a time. From the laundry wallas' water shortage problems and the fear of displacement, to the efforts of a taxi driver to exploit the tricks of his trade and make ends meet, to the heart-warming relationship of a carriage driver and his horse in the light of an increasingly automotive world, each of Breathless in Bombay's stories is richly crafted and arranged in front of the grand chaotic backdrop of life that is Bombay. Shroff's love for his hometown shines through, as does his deep understanding of its challenges and problems. His words give readers an insider's view of this pulsating, vibrant city. In turn, the reader comes to care for the characters presented in these stories.

Murzban F. Shroff is a Bombay born writer. His stories have been published in over twenty literary journals in the United States including the Gettysburg Review, the Louisville Review and the Minnesota Review. He is currently at work on a novel.
Gandhi Memorial Center
4748 Western Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20816

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blog Vacation

I'm going to take a few days off from blogging--nothing wrong, just a break. Until later...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Work in Progress: Dreamweaver, or How to Harness Your Subconscious

I’m not a touchy-feely, New Age, hippie type, and yet I fully believe in the power of the subconscious when it comes to writing. How else to explain that magical moment when you figure out the next move in your story, or suddenly see something about the character that surprises you? (One of my favorite writing teachers used to say, “Write until something surprises you.” That’s maybe the best, most succinct writing advice I’ve ever heard, so of course I’ve stolen it and recite it like a wild parrot in my classes.)

The only problem with the subconscious is, well, our lack of control over it (duh). You can sit and sit—you can take a walk—you can go cook something and pretend you’re not dwelling upon that tangly writing problem, and yes, during all this, you can be quite confident that your subconscious is working away. But—it’s doing so on its own schedule. There are rarely immediate answers, and that’s just the way it is.

Or is it?

This technique does not work 100 percent of the time, but it does work enough to become a “trick” that I recommend, and a strategy that I trust for tough writing problems.

The scenario: You’re stuck in your project. You’ve been thinking and working and trying to write your way through, but nothing is working. You’ve tried stepping away for walks and so forth, but you still can’t figure out what the piece needs. Here’s what you do:

1. Make sure there’s a notepad/pen by your bed.

2. Choose a night when you don’t have to get up early or at the demand of an alarm clock the next morning.

3. Go to bed at a time when you’re able to have a few moments or so to think before dropping off.

4. During this dropping off time, think about your writing problem. Don’t try to solve it, just run through it in your mind (gently, not obsessively—we’re not trying to cause insomnia!)

4a. If you overshoot and wake up in the night, unable to sleep b/c you were obsessive, use that time to think—gently!—about your writing problem.

5. Wake up as naturally as possible—no alarm, no nagging voices—and as you return to the world, think about your writing problem in a drifty, gentle way. Let yourself take a while—15-20 minutes. You must avoid those internal and external nagging voices!

6. Here’s the magic: nine times out of ten you will see the resolution to your problem, or at the least, a way in.

7. Write down your ideas on the notepad and congratulate yourself on your brilliance.

I suppose some people would then advise that in the ideal world, you would go to your writing immediately, but I don’t find that to be necessary. These ideas are so solid and so right that they will stick with you for quite a while. And it’s helpful to have the conscious brain working on the details.

And now, after clearing up a few irritating and lingering personal-life projects, I plan to tackle the ending chapters to the draft of my novel, which I figured out by using the process above.

(P.S. O, Punishing Gods of Writing Hubris, please don’t think that I’m bragging, and OBVIOUSLY I know it will harder to do this than that breezy sentence implies, and yes, I know that this ending in my head will shift and I will despair that I’m a know-nothing and so on…in short, please-please-PLEASE don’t punish me for what may seem to be hubris!)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Better than Jaws...

…it’s Anna Leahy’s award-winning shark poem:

She entered this contest posted on this very blog! Congratulations, Anna!

Breasts: You Know You Have Something to Say about Them

InkSpotter Publishing is looking for submissions for an anthology (Wait a Minute, I Have to Take Off My Bra) celebrating the most female of body parts, the breasts. From light-hearted memories of the first buds of puberty to heart wrenching accounts of breast cancer, these stories will run the gamut of experiences and emotions.

Unpublished submissions are welcome from both women and men. Maximum 3,000 words for both fiction and non-fiction. Poems are also welcome, though a limited number will be used (no specific length requirements, but please, no epics).

We are NOT looking for salacious material. Please keep your submissions tasteful. Think in terms of what you would want your young daughter (or niece) to be able to read.

Send your submissions in the body of an email (absolutely no attachments) to with "Submission for Wait a Minute" in the subject line.

You may also submit via postal mail to:
InkSpotter Publishing
163 Main Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3M 1B3

If you require confirmation of receipt, include either a stamped postcard or your email address (preferred).

Deadline for submissions is October 31, 2009.

Manuscripts will not be returned. Do not send your only copy.

Writers chosen for the anthology will be entitled to a share of profits. Part of the proceeds will be donated to a breast cancer charity in Canada.

Goooooaaaalllll! Soccer Poetry Sought

Note that previously published soccer poems are acceptable:

Looking for original soccer poetry for a reading in connection with the Kicking and Screening Soccer Film Festival in Washington, D.C. in October.

Submission Guidelines: 2-4 poems on the subject of the game of soccer. No jingles or limericks. If your poem it chosen, it is not necessary to be present for the reading, but you will be properly credited at the reading. If any of your poems have been published, be sure to include the pertinent information.

If you know of soccer poems by others, please let us know.

Send poems as a Word attachment to:

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yes, The New Yorker

Jared Gottlieb, one of my talented Johns Hopkins students, passed along this Twitter trail of what it’s like to write non-fiction for The New Yorker…not all peaches and cream, apparently, at least not according to journalist Dan Baum.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

First, a little about the job of New Yorker staff writer. “Staff writer” is a bit of a misnomer, as you’re not an employee,

But rather a contractor. So there’s no health insurance, no 401K, and most of all, no guarantee of a job beyond one year.

My gig was a straight dollars-for-words arrangement: 30,000 words a year for $90,000. And the contract was year-to-


Mad Men: Get Your Fix Before Sunday

Mad Men fans (and if you’re not, it’s high time to become one!): Check out Slate magazine’s weekly recap of the episodes. Smart people talking about a very smart show.

Also, I highly recommend the Vanity Fair article about the show and creator Matthew Weiner:

“A scene-setting anecdote everyone in the Mad Men orbit tells is how Weiner came onto the set one day and focused on some pieces of fruit he said were too large and shiny and perfectly formed; produce in the early 60s—period produce—wasn’t pumped up. Get smaller, dumpier fruit, he ordered. (Depending on who was telling me the story, from cast members to network executives, the offending produce morphed from apples to oranges to bananas, but Amy Wells, the set decorator, said definitively: it was apples.) In a similar vein, the show’s prop masters have been plagued by the steroidal dimensions of contemporary American pastry whenever a Sterling Cooper secretary needs to pick up a Danish from the coffee cart.”

Shameful confession: I also read about Farrah in the same issue.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Does the Pastelogram Come in Baby Blue?

Poet Marianne Moore was hired to help Ford Motor Company come up with a name for their new car model. Read the amusing tale in this New York Times article:

"Throughout the fall and winter of 1955, Moore’s steady stream of suggestions arrived at Ford: “the Ford Silver Sword,” “Intelligent Bullet,” “the Ford FabergĂ©,” “Mongoose Civique,” “Anticipator,” “Pastelogram,” “Astranaut” and, the highest flight of fancy, “Utopian Turtletop.”"

Writing + Alcohol = ?

Do writers drink more than regular folk? Why? Dr. Sue explores the issue at Buzz, Balls & Hype:

"Scientists have proposed that people turn to both books and alcohol as escape from unbearable experiences; that writing is so isolating and terrifying that many writers need to self-medicate just to push themselves through the work; and even that genes for creativity and addiction may be linked."

Read the whole piece here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Work in Progress: My New Life as a Slasher

Several weeks ago, my class was discussing a short-short story that I love, and that I love to use in classes for its intense compactness: “Children of Strikers,” by Fred Chappell. It’s not online, but it’s about two poor kids, squabbling as they walk along a river located in a mill town. When the girl says she’s found a baby’s foot on the ground, and the boy becomes excited with the horrific possibilities of what may have happened. The girl then admits that it’s a doll’s foot, and as they examine it, we sense the true difficulties and challenges of their lives in this grim milieu.

Here’s a paragraph from the introduction to Chappell’s book, Moments of Light, written by Annie Dillard:

“In 'Children of Strikers,' Chappell makes manifest, vividly and subtly, the real and grave nature of human suffering. This is a brilliant story whose narrative gradually uncovers its own locus. We wake, as the children wake, to the import of what they have found by the roadside; but we know, as they do not, what it means about the world. The many layers of this story separate the reader from pain while forcing him, unaware, to seek it out at the center of the narrative riddle, and forcing him to find it, accidentally as it were, at the center of human experience.”

Anyway…a great story, and the class had a good discussion about it. We strayed into wondering how the author had written such a tight piece: was it one of those perfect vision gift stories that flows out (that’s certainly how it reads)? Or, someone suggested, might it be a story that was originally 30 pages, distilled down to these four pages?

I don’t know—Mr. Chappell, I’m happy to hear the story behind the story!—but personally, I was taken with the idea that this was a story of distillation. As hard as that is to write, it’s more achievable than the perfect vision gift story. Combine this line of thinking with a later class we had that focused on revision techniques—and a long conversation about Stephen King’s proclamation from On Writing that the second draft equals the first draft minus 10 percent: I decided to go back to some of my older, unpublished stories to see if I could chop them by half and distill them down to some newer, more intense essence.

The jury’s still out on whether I could do all that, but I must say that the first story I tackled ended up getting slashed by 2372 words (that’s 44 percent, Mr. King!). I ditched an extended metaphor that I had been too attached too earlier that now seemed obviously forced and that had overtaken the story. The piece is tighter and more intense without it. In a few weeks I’ll reread it and see if I notice any gaping holes or missing background, but I rather think I won’t. As I like to say, Readers like to see what’s happening, not what already happened.

It helped in this case that I wanted to enter the piece in a contest that had a specific word length, so I suggest making a numeric goal, somewhere around half to a third of the word count, and that way you’ll have something to think about when you find yourself getting too attached to the words.

I’m partway through another piece, and there’s something absolutely empowering about taking that red pen and slashing through words, sentences, and paragraphs. It’s humbling to see that all these polished words are unnecessary. It’s like cleaning a closet and discovering underneath all that clutter, that pair of boots that you always loved but had forgotten about.

I highly recommend this exercise. It’s addictively satisfying. Who knows? By the time I’m done with this, I may even manage to cut something down into a haiku.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Is It Mean to Laugh at Someone's Book Review?

I have nothing against Pat Conroy, who seems like a very generous writer—and I admit that I listened to Prince of Tides, enthralled, as miles melted away on a loooonng cross-country drive—but I still laughed at this Washington Post review:

“When I was on Page 322 of Pat Conroy's 514-page new novel, "South of Broad," I began to feel that the characters were crying a lot, which wouldn't have bothered me if the characters were children. They're not. So, I began noting in the margins each time an adult let loose with the waterworks. The finding? Characters cry, sob, tear, weep, wail and well up on the following pages: 322, 330, 340, 354, 367, 382, 393, 395, 396, 403, 418, 419, 420, 429, 439, 440, 444, 448 (twice), 452, 462, 463, 465, 466, 467, 477, 490 (twice) and 493. In addition to the main players in the novel, Meryl Streep is tearful on Page 447 and God weeps on Page 476. Bear in mind, these are only the tears I tracked in the last 200 pages of the tale.”

[All is not lost, though, as the review ends with a favorable assessment: “I should note that even though I felt stage-managed by Conroy's heavy hand, I still turned the pages with relish. Conroy is an immensely gifted stylist, and there are passages in the novel that are lush and beautiful and precise. No one can describe a tide or a sunset with his lyricism and exactitude.”]

Journal Discovery: Memoir (and)

While poking around, I came across the journal Memoir (and) which looks pretty interesting, both reading-wise and submission-wise. I like the mission statement:

“Our mission is to publish traditional as well as nontraditional forms of nonfiction allied with memoir. This includes, but is not limited to, autobiography, diary, personal and critical essay, reportage, autobiographical fiction, alternative histories, “flash memoir,” narrative poetry or “poemoir” (it’s okay to groan, we did) and graphic memoir.”

And I found this statement in the submission section to be oddly comforting:

“No submission is too unusual or traditional to be considered for publication.”

Check it out here.

Food + Writing = Great Opportunity

The Duncan Eat-Write Fellowship Fellowship will be awarded to an author writing a cookbook or work of fiction or nonfiction that involves a love of food or healthful eating. This Fellowship provides a residency in the Writers’ Colony Culinary Suite equipped with full test kitchen. The Culinary Suite and test kitchen were designed, sponsored by and featured in Renovation Home Magazine.

The Duncan Eat-Write Fellowship is a two-week fellowship entitling the recipient to free residency at the Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow in the historic arts village of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Each resident has a private suite with writing space, private bath, wireless and/or cable hook-up, uninterrupted writing time, dinner prepared five nights a week and served in our community dining room, the camaraderie of other professional writers when you want it, and a fully stocked community kitchen for breakfast and lunch.

Residencies may be scheduled through December 10, 2009 only, and may be split into two separate stays. Fellows may elect to stay additional time at the reduced rate of $315 a week.

Please note: This Fellowship will be awarded on a rolling entry basis, so applicants are encouraged to apply early. Final application date for entry to be postmarked is September 10. Fellowship applications must be accompanied by a non-refundable $35 application fee. The Fellowship will be awarded no later than September 30, for fellowships to be scheduled through December 10, 2009.

For more info and to apply, please visit:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Mad Men: Maybe This Is Why the Writing Is So Great...

Steve pointed me to a great article in The Wall Street Journal about “Mad Men” (the fabulous AMC show that resumes on Sunday night at 10 pm…get your martinis ready!). “The Women Behind ‘Mad Men’” talks about how the show’s writing team is comprised of nine writers, and seven of them are women.

There’s so much good stuff if you’re a “Mad Man” fan (including a fun sidebar about how much fashion designers love this show), but this is downright depressing:

"According to the Directors Guild of America, the labor union that represents film and television directors, about 13% of its 8,000 directors are female. Women comprised 23% of television writers during the 2007 to 2008 prime-time season, a 12 percentage point decrease from the same period a year earlier. Nearly 80% of TV programs in the 2007 to 2008 prime-time season had no women writers, according to a study by Martha Lauzen, executive director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University."

And I thought the publishing world was tough for women writers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Richard Russo at Politics & Prose

Too bad Steve will have to miss this; Richard Russo is one of his favorite writers. From the Politics & Prose newsletter:

Wednesday, August 12, 7 p.m.
Richard Russo
That Old Cape Magic
Griffin, in mid-middle-age, has achieved everything he envisioned for himself and his wife. Driving to the Cape for a wedding, he revisits the site of his honeymoon and his happy childhood summers. A year later, everything has changed. The latest novel from the award-winning writer is another masterpiece of storytelling.

Politics & Prose Bookstore
5015 Connecticut Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 364-1919
More information here.

(If I were a truly good wife, I guess I’d order a signed copy of the book for him, huh?)

Pitch Poet's Market

A call for submissions for journalists and poets, from Robert Lee Brewer, editor of Poet's Market:

Accepting article pitches for 2011 Poet's Market until September 1, 2009.

In body of e-mail, please outline your article idea and include a short bio. Send an e-mail with the subject line 2011 Poet's Market Query to

Please reference the 2010 Poet's Market to get an idea of what articles I've accepted in the past. I'm mostly interested in business/marketing related pieces, but craft-related articles are fine, too. I am NOT interested in poet interviews, profiles, etc.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Guest in Progress: Lyn Riddle

Lyn Riddle is a fiction writing student in the Converse College Low-Residency MFA Program, working on a very promising novel. She’s also an experienced editor and journalist, and because her comments about concise writing in our Converse workshop were so helpful, she was asked to bring into our class a list of tips for keeping writing lean and muscular.

I was cleaning up my office—more like beating back the clutter rather than a real cleaning!—and I came across a copy of her tips and was reminded again how absolutely on-target this advice is. Though this list is geared to freelance writers working for the newspapers she edits, it offers much wisdom for creative writers, too.

If you doubt the relevance of journalism to creative writing, let me—oh so concisely!— say one word: Hemingway.

Guidelines for freelance writers

The Journal newspapers hope to offer readers stories they can’t find anywhere else. That doesn’t necessarily mean the subject matter has not been written about – it means the reporting must be incisive, deep and detailed. That is the true difference between us and the daily papers: We offer more information about the things readers want to know. This is an important mission

Some pointers:

Let the story tell itself. Sad stories are best written in simple prose. Let the situation drive the reader’s emotions. Not your writing. All too often reporters try to cover up sloppy reporting with stylish phrases. It never works. Don’t use a lot of adjectives or adverbs. Tell it simply, but with detail. Find out the breed of dog and its name. The special tree in the yard – what kind is it?

Don’t empty your notebook into the computer. Use only the information that advances the story. Don’t tell something just because you know it. A homicide detective’s pet name for his daughter is unlikely to be needed in a story about a murder investigation. It’s mildly interesting that a gritty investigator has a sweet name for his child but it bogs down the reader with information he does not need.

The lede is the most important thing you write. Make sure it tells the reader something he does not know. Avoid the easy way out. Sue Smith remembers the day her daughter died. Well, of course she does. Describe that day. Often your lede resides in the second sentence you wrote. Try this and see. You’ll be surprised.

The best stories answer one question, and the best questions are those that no matter the answer it’s still a story. Keep your focus on that question. Another way to say this is to write a headline for your story. Stick with only the information that applies to that headline.

Avoid loaded words such as only or just

Use active verbs.

Watch for clichés.

Quotes add spice to the story. They should be short. Avoid quoting someone as saying something you’ve just paraphrased.

Be clear. Simple. Direct. Precise. Pick the right word.

Look for redundancies in your copy. They are there, believe me.

Anecdotes infuse stories, but make sure they are telling.

Watch for unnecessary prepositional phrases. Usually the ones stuck on the end of sentences are not needed.

“Currently” is never needed. As is anything but “said.” Avoid people pointing out, explaining, exclaiming and especially those who are quick to point out. Also, people do not laugh words, although they might laugh as they say something.

Strip the word “that” from most sentences. She said that her house burned down.
In an effort to and in order to are simply not needed. Lop them off.

First ever. If it’s the first, it’s the first. Ever.

“Over” connotes physical space. Use "more than."

And numbers don’t jump, they increase. Basketball players and high jumpers jump.

About: Lyn Riddle
began her journalism career at the Rock Springs Daily Rocket Miner on the high desert of Wyoming. In the years since, she has worked at the Los Angeles Herald Examiner in California and the Greenville Piedmont and The Greenville News in South Carolina. She spent 15 years as a freelance writer for publications such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek and Readers Digest then went back to The Greenville News as projects editor and city editor. She is now editor of Community Journals' weekly newspapers in Greenville and Spartanburg, South Carolina, and the author of four books of true crime: ASHES TO ASHES, OVERKILL, FAMILY BLOOD and FIRST WE KILL MY HUSBAND, all published by Kensington Books. She teaches journalism at Furman University and is working on an MFA in creative writing from Converse College. Her work appears at and

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Get Out of Town: Awards for Study-Abroad Writing Programs

The University of New Orleans, the pioneer in writing programs abroad, is pleased to announce the sixth annual writing contest for study-abroad, Summer, 2010. This year the contest is co-sponsored by The Normal School, who will judge the entries and publish the winners. Full fee waivers, including housing allowance, will be granted to one writer each in the genres of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction. Partial awards and honorable mentions may also be granted. Winners may attend any of UNO's 2010 study-abroad writing programs:
--Writing Workshops in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
--Writing Workshops in Montpellier
--The Ezra Pound Center for Literature, Dorf Tirol, Italy

Visit website for information and to pay entry fee:

Please note that these are the complete guidelines. Queries are not necessary. Note that we have greatly simplified the submission and payment process this year.

Submission Deadline: January 31, 2010.

Eligibility: Anyone writing in English who has not yet published a book of 45 pages or more in the genre of application, except faculty and administrators employed by the University of New Orleans.

Entry Fee: An entry fee of $25 must be paid for each submission. Fees can only be paid online using the link below.

Submission Format: The submission process is entirely electronic. No paper manuscripts will be accepted. To submit your entry, go to the submission module on the UNO Press site (

Multiple Submissions: Applicants may submit multiple applications in one or more genres, however each application must be complete with entry fee. Payment for multiple submissions may be made in aggregate (see below), but each submission must be uploaded separately at the submission site.

Submission Limits and Format: Prose submissions should not exceed 4500 words (about 15 pages double spaced). Poetry submissions should not exceed 5 pages and may include a maximum of 3 poems. The submitted work must be unpublished at the time of submission, though it may be under consideration. The author's name must not appear anywhere in the work, including in headers or footers.

Acknowledgments: Acknowledgments by email query only. Each applicant will be emailed a list of winners when the contest has been decided, around the end of March.

Questions and comments may be emailed to

They Want the Poems No One Else Did

A home for your rejected poems:

The Redheaded Stepchild is open for submissions for the month of August. We only accept poems that have been rejected by other magazines. We do not accept previously published work. We do, however, accept simultaneous submissions, but please inform us immediately if your work is accepted somewhere else.

For more information, visit

Submit 3-5 poems that have been rejected elsewhere with the names of the magazines that rejected the poems.

We do not accept email attachments; therefore, in the body of your email, please include the following:
--a brief bio
--3-5 poems
--the publication(s) that rejected the poems

Send your submission to

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Elizabeth Strout, Stand-Up Comic?

Today’s Washington Post ran an excellent profile of Elizabeth Strout, exploring where Olive Kitteridge came from—the book and the character.

Enticing excerpt:

“By 1994, [Strout] had published a number of stories, but she had also begun to have a distressing feeling that "something wasn't happening" in her work -- that she was "holding back on telling truths."

“She wasn't sure exactly what these were. So she signed up for a stand-up comedy class to find out.

“"I thought: That's a real pressure cooker. You've got your audience right there and you're responsible for them directly," she says, explaining this strange and, to her, terrifying impulse. "What would come out of my mouth?"

“What came out, as Strout stood onstage at an East Side comedy club at the conclusion of the stand-up course, turned out to be a stream of jokes making fun of her New England roots. And she knew that, in her writing, she needed to go back home.”

Read the rest of Bob Thompson’s article here.

Monday, August 3, 2009

"14 Cows for America"

I defy anyone to read this short, Wall Street Journal book review of the children’s book 14 Cows for America, about a Maasai village that gave America a gift of 14 sacred cows after 9/11, without getting teary. It sounds like a lovely book.


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.