Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Potomac Review Day

Three items, all concerning local literary journal Potomac Review:

Check out this new feature on the Potomac Review blog, where the editors discuss why a submitted story made it to the “maybe” pile but didn’t move into the “yes” pile. And, for a change of pace, writer Mary Akers gets to respond!

In Part II, editor Julie Wakeman-Linn writes:

Format: Length is a problem. For a short story of 7,000 words to be published in our 150-page or less literary journal, we would have to love every scene, every page (as we do love every one of our past, present, and future stories). Julie asks: Could it be trimmed?

Mary answers: I wrote this as part of a linked collection with an ocean theme. So it’s a complete story, yes, but intended to be part of a larger whole as well. Length is a tough issue all the way around because many (most?) literary magazines prefer work around 4,000 words—understandable, given their space considerations, but book publishers prefer stories in collections that are closer to the 7,000-10,000-word range. So, what’s a poor writer to do? Write for the mags? Or write for the book? I was hoping, I guess, that the historical tone would afford me a little more story space with readers.

Part I starts here. Thanks, Potomac Review, for giving us some insight into this mysterious process.

UPDATE: Here's Part III,, and check back for more in a few days:

I have in my hands a copy of Issue 46, which contains lots of good stuff. I especially liked the story that won the review’s contest, “Beauty and Health for Life” by Irene Keliher, about an overweight thirteen-year-old girl staying with her father and his new girlfriend, who is starving for attention.

Here’s a small excerpt from the middle of the story:

“Josie read an article [in a women’s magazine] that proclaimed: Beauty and Health for Life! All The Secrets You Need! The plethora of tools dazed her—brushes, tweezers, glosses, sticks, tubes, bangles, wax. The closest thing she owned to this was bubblegum flavored chapstick. The same article featured a daily yoga routine and pictures of vegetables. These can’t be all the secrets, Josie thought.”

Ordering info here.

And speaking of contests, The Potomac Review sent me this announcement about its upcoming poetry contest, including the exciting news that the prize money has been upped significantly:

The Potomac Review is changing the Poetry Contest First Prize money from $500 to $1,000!

We searched the crevices of our couches and cars, pushed the change return on all vending machines we walked by, and did some experimental highway panhandling at the juncture of I-495 and I-295, and now you can win our biggest poetry prize ever with one ridiculously good poem! Second Prize and Third Prize are still $250 and $125, and the entry fee is $18. Send up to 3 unpublished poems (5 pages max). Deadline is February 1st.

We are also offering one more wrinkle to our contests: you can submit your poems electronically. Under the genre on our online submission, choose “content.” You will still have to send us the entry fee in the mail to be considered for the prize contest. Check our website for guidelines. The final judge will be Nancy Naomi Carlson, who is an editor for Tupelo Press and an instructor at The Writer's Center in Bethesda.


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