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Supporting the Craft and Business of Excellent Writing
Volume 11, Number 9: October 2014
Editor: Erika Dreifus
Copyright (c) 2014 Erika Dreifus


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1. Editor’s Note: What’s New
2. Article/Lessons Learned
3. Featured Resource
4. Upcoming/Ongoing Contests, Competitions, and Other Opportunities
5. Submission Alerts!!!
6. Blog Notes
7. Newsletter Matters
Greetings, practicing writers:

It has been a busy time in every way. Mostly, it has all been good. Over at Fig Tree Books (http://figtreebooks.net), we’ve just announced our inaugural list. I’ve been observing the Jewish New Year with loved ones. And I’ve been celebrating new books by several friends (including Sara Lippmann’s DOLL PALACE, which you’ll learn more about shortly).

Over this past weekend, however, I learned that David (D.G.) Myers, a writer and critic I came to know and admire via Twitter, had passed away. I had been dreading this news, which we all knew was coming. I hope that you will all take some time over the next days, weeks, and months to learn about David and his work. A few good starting points:

“A Commonplace Blog”

“Reading Maketh a Full Man”

And coming soon: an online festschrift organized by Patrick Kurp. I will share it on my Facebook author page and on Twitter when it is available.

Now, on with the issue.

All best,

Dire Stories from a Delightful Writer: An Interview with Sara Lippmann

by Erika Dreifus

I am especially happy to present this Q&A to you. Sara Lippmann is one of the bright lights of my own writing life, another one of those tremendously gifted writers — and tremendously generous friends — whom I’ve been lucky to get to know since moving (back) to New York City in 2007. I was thrilled to hear that Dock Street Press would be publishing her short-story collection, DOLL PALACE, and I immediately asked Sara if I could spotlight her work in this space.

Sara Lippmann earned a BA from Brown and an MFA from The New School. She has written for magazines, taught college English, and currently co-hosts the Sunday Salon, a monthly reading series at Jimmy’s 43 in New York’s East Village. She is the recipient of a 2012 Fellowship in Fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her work has appeared in TUPELO QUARTERLY, JOYLAND, MR. BELLER’S NEIGHBORHOOD, PANK, SLICE MAGAZINE and elsewhere. Raised outside of Philadelphia, she lives with her husband and children in Brooklyn.

Please welcome Sara Lippmann!

ERIKA DREIFUS (ED): Sara, you are literally one of the nicest, most generous, and most gracious people I know. And yet, I’m often telling you that I find some of your stories “creepy” (“in a good way!” I always hasten to add). For instance, I’ve said repeatedly that the ending of one of your stories ["Everyone Has Your Best Interests At Heart"] leaves me as troubled as does the conclusion of Joyce Carol Oates’s famous “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?” To what do you attribute your talent for literary creepiness?

SARA LIPPMANN (SL): Thank you, Erika, for your kind words. That’s how I feel about you! The resources you provide via The Practicing Writer are remarkable. As a longstanding reader, I am regularly blown away by the incredible gems you find and generously share with the literary community. From your newsletter to your author interviews, book reviews, criticism, through all that you do to support fellow writers: we are so grateful.

As for your question: the short answer is I don’t know. I write what interests me, plain and simple, what strums my curiosity and pains my heart, what I struggle to understand. Is that creepy? Not for me. Maybe sometimes what I write is not what one might expect, whatever that means. I get that I’m not exactly an intimidating presence, but God kill me before exiling me to the land of sprites and toadstools. I really don’t see any psychical/physical disconnect. As a reader, my literary tastes have always skewed dark. I like to play around with cultural dictates of innocence and menace. Perhaps it comes from a deeply suburban upbringing, one I know well: the characters/notions/ beliefs of purported safety are always the most terrifying. Tenderness lies outside that frame. In the story you mention, I don’t know that the obvious creep is the creeper. And that’s the thing. Who is ever safe?

ED: DOLL PALACE is being published by a relatively new publisher, Dock Street Press. How did you and your manuscript connect with Dock Street Press?

SL: It was kind of a dream. I’d just put together the manuscript, sent it to a contest or two, a couple of agents (who were encouraging, but the novel, where was the NOVEL, they wanted to know) when Dock Street emailed me out of the blue. They were a new press based in Seattle and somehow had found my stories on the Internet (which still kind of amazes me, that this actually happens) and wanted to know if I had a collection. DSP specializes in narrative that’s not always the smoothest to swallow — and they are devoted to nurturing emerging writers — so it was the perfect match.

When I went out to meet them during AWP [the annual meeting of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs] it only solidified and strengthened this feeling. Dane Bahr and his crew are everything a debut author could hope for and more. They have been extremely thoughtful and hands-on. DOLL PALACE is not exactly a warm and fuzzy book, so I thank my lucky stars they took the chance on me.

ED: How did you decide which stories to include in the collection? And the order in which they appear?

SL: Initially, when I first started thinking about the collection, I included a lot of really short stuff, micros, flash, etc. Many of those pieces fell out. I wanted the book to gel not just thematically but to adhere to a cumulative logic, so that — hopefully — there is an overarching build driven by the order. It took some time to get there. Dane has this wonderful saying (that I’m about to screw up) about how putting together a collection is like arranging the quintessential album, so he was really instructive in pointing out the stories that hit the same one note. We tried to eliminate that kind of repetition, anything that would fall flat or have a dulling effect, and only include the stories that added new beats. I was working in a pretty narrow set of themes, so obviously there is substantial thematic overlap, but the hope is that the stories resonate through the harmony and dissonance of juxtaposition. I cut and swapped. One of my favorite stories, for example, is not here because it did not bring anything new; if anything, it detracted from and muted the others.

The order, too, took some fiddling. Early on in the process I had a funny talk with a friend who rated each story on what she called “a dire scale” from 1-5, 5 being the direst. I tried not to place the 5s next to one another. The final story also changed. Though I guess it’s all relative, the new ending is less bleak than the one I’d placed last originally — perhaps, it’s the most hopeful of the lot.

ED: I love that — the idea of a “dire scale” — I guess I can get used to thinking “dire” rather than “creepy.” Now, here’s something [else] that may sound a little odd: Another characteristic that strikes me about your stories is how many of them are set within the Mid-Atlantic region. And they present a far more nuanced portrait of this part of the country than some readers may expect. These are stories spanning Brighton Beach and Bed-Stuy, Brigantine and Bucks County. There are stories set at the beach and stories set in the city. One story takes place on a highway between Manhattan and the Westchester suburbs. (And the stories that do take place elsewhere–out West or in Florida–seem to feature characters only temporarily located in those more distant venues.) To what extent were you conscious of this “regional” element as the collection evolved?

SL: With a few exceptions, the bulk of the settings are settings I know. Knowing this much — not necessarily the specifics of an invented place but the general geography — helps to root my imagination. I wish it were otherwise; if only I could be a writer that creates utterly believable, fully realized worlds out of thin air, absent of all reference points, but (maybe it’s the journalist in me?) with fiction, where everything is unknown and there are infinite possible sunsets to follow, setting is often my one certainty. It makes the process somehow less daunting. If I know this one thing, I tell myself, I’m okay.

I never set out to stake any claim as a regional writer, but it’s true, when it came down to shaping the collection, I cut out most of the stories located outside the Tri-State area. This is my stomping ground, for better and worse. The sensibility is tied to there. Often these settings arrive with the intended mood already built-in, they embody the push and pull of desire, lack, excess, transience, complacency, the ache and budding cognizance that a place has seen its day, that its moment has passed, nothing is what it was.

ED: What’s your greatest hope for DOLL PALACE as it makes its way into the world?

SL: To be read. To have readers — to have people on the other end — who connect with the book. If a light goes off somewhere for someone, if that person pauses and sits up and looks around and says, Yes! Then I’ve done my job. And if that person is moved to tell a friend, and that person tells another friend, well, that’s icing.

ED: Anything else you’d like to share?

SL: Be wary of clueless first time authors issuing unsolicited advice! (Editor’s note: Sara is NOT clueless!)

That said, writers shopping manuscripts, take heart: It will happen. There is more than one path to publication. Believe in yourself and what you’ve done. It’s easy to get caught up in industry talk, marketplace, trends, agents, etc. but writing is humble business. Be a mensch. Do the work. One word, then another. That’s what matters. We may live in an age of Amazon, of conglomerates, where words like branding and platform are commonplace, but we also live in an age where more and more thoughtful small presses like Dock Street are cropping up, demanding your time and attention. I can’t underline enough how thankful I am to be working with people committed to putting out compelling work regardless of commercial whims — that just really cares about making solid, good-looking books. Books that make you feel. Books that, hopefully, make you think.

ED: Thank you, Sara. Every best wish to you as your collection meets the world. My thanks to Dock Street Press, too, for the advance galley.

Please visit http://dockstreetpress.com/portfolio-item/doll-palace/ to learn more about Sara’s brilliant book!
As suggested above, there’s so much to learn — about literature and about life — from D.G. Myers’s “A Commonplace Blog”:


A Public Space (APS) Emerging Writer Fellowships
Deadline: October 15, 2014

“We are pleased to announce that applications are now open for the 2015 Emerging Writer F ellowships. Under this project, three emerging writers will be selected for six-month fellowships.” Fellowships include: a mentorship from an established author who has previously contributed to A Public Space; publication in the magazine; contributor’s payment of $1,000; free workspace in our Brooklyn offices (optional). “Please note that applicants from all across the world are encouraged to apply for these fellowships, and that the residency in our offices is an optional element. We are only able to consider submissions in English.” NB: “Our focus when reviewing applications will be on finding writers who have not yet published or been contracted to write a book-length work and who would benefit from the time, space, and editorial attention the fellowships offer.” ED note: Since the guidelines stipulate that a short story or an essay must be submitted as part of the application, I surmise that this is not an opportunity for poets. (h/t http://twitter.com/likaluca)
Brooklyn Non-fiction Prize
Deadline: November 15, 2014

“The Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize, a cash award of $500, will be awarded to the best Brooklyn-focused non-fiction essay which is set in Brooklyn and is about Brooklyn and/or Brooklyn people/characters.We are seeking compelling Brooklyn stories from writers with a broad range of backgrounds and ages who can render Brooklyn’s rich soul and intangible qualities through the writer’s actual experiences in Brooklyn. From the collection of selected Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize submissions, five authors will be selected to read from their work and discuss their Brooklyn stories with the audience at our December 2014 event. The exact date/time and venue will be announced later. These stories and several other submitted stories will be published on the Brooklyn Film and Arts Festival website and made available to the public.”
Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) Funding Opportunities
Deadlines: Depending on the award, deadlines fall between October 10, 2014, and December 31, 2014

A variety of funding opportunities will facilitate participation in the next CCCC Convention (scheduled for March 2015 in Tampa, Florida). Check the website for more information and specific application instructions.
Emory University Creative Writing Fellowships
Deadline: November 1, 2014 (received)

Two-year fellowships (one in poetry and one in fiction) are available beginning fall 2015. “Load 2-1, all workshops; $30,000 salary, and health benefits.” For both positions, candidates must have an MFA or PhD (past five years) and creative-writing teaching experience. See the website for more information about each position.
Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholarship
Deadline: October 15, 2014 (received)

“The American poet Amy Lowell died in 1925. Her will established an annual scholarship to support travel abroad for gifted American-born poets.” NB: “The award for the 2015-2016 Scholarship year should be in the area of $54,000. The recipient must agree to spend the year abroad, as the will requires.”
Jane Lumley Prize
Deadline: November 30, 2014

“The Jane Lumley Prize is awarded annually to a writer who has yet not published a full length book of poetry or prose. The prize alternates each year between prose and poetry, and the inaugural year will seek to recognize the brilliance of an exceptional piece of poetry. The winner, selected by our editor, will receive a prize of $300 and will be featured in Issue 6 [of HERMENEUTIC CHAOS], to be published in January 2015. Publication will also be awarded to the first two semi-finalists. In addition, all the entries will be considered for publication.
THE LYRIC College Poetry Contest
Deadline: December 1, 2014

This competition is “directed toward undergraduates enrolled full time in an American or Canadian college or university.” Awards a $500 first prize and $100 second prize. “Poems must be original and unpublished, 39 lines or less, written in English in traditional forms, preferably with regular scansion and rhyme.”
Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize
Submissions: October 1-31, 2014

“The Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize is awarded annually to a previously completed, unpublished and original fiction manuscript of over 50,000 words. The winning author receives $5,000 and a Black Balloon Publishing book deal.” (via http://writingcareer.com)
OurStoryProject.org “Stories of Resilience” Writing Contest
Deadline: October 20, 2014
Final judge: Adriana Trigiani

“In recognition of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, you are invited to add your voice to Stories of Resilience. The contest is seeking submissions that reflect the broad impact of abuse. Contribute your story, personal essay or poem for consideration.” There will be a first prize of $500 and two additional prizes of $100 apiece. “Winners will be published in Hope Grows Here, Volume II. Additional entries may also be selected for publication.” (via https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/crwropps-b/info)
The Russell Prize
Submissions: October 20-November 2, 2014 (received)

“Named after Gale A. Russell & Gloria Baker-Russell, the parents of Two Sylvias Press’s cofounder Kelli Russell Agodon (who helped support her as a young poet), The Russell Prize was created to assist and support a poet who has not yet published his/her first full collection of poems or chapbook. The prize consists of a $500 cash prize and small medallion (sticking to Two Sylvias Press’ belief that poets deserve trophies and medals) and given to a poet of exceptional talent and merit who has not yet received recognition in the publishing world.” NB: “This prize has been created for no other reason than to pass along some good energy (and money) to a poet without a first book or chapbook. We know how hard the early stages can be for poets, and we want to tell you that we believe in you.”
Reminder: My very own employer, Fig Tree Books LLC (FTB), “publishes and promotes high quality, commercially viable novels that chronicle and enlighten the unique American Jewish experience. We are passionate about discovering new voices, as well as expanding the audience for established authors. It is our hope that we will be able to offer fiction that speaks to the beautiful and sometimes challenging mosaic of the many poignant American Jewish experiences (AJE). We accept agented and unrepresented manuscripts and pay competitive advances and standard royalties. All of our books will be available in print and e-format, and promoted using a combination of traditional and social media approaches.” Visit our website, http://FigTreeBooks.net, to learn more about us.
From RATTLE : “We’re currently seeking submissions Japanese forms for our Spring 2015 issue. The poems may be any style or length, but must be written in a traditional or adapted Japanese form: haiku, tanks, renga, haibun, etc. Since some of these forms are very short, please feel free to submit up to four *pages* of poems rather than the usual four poems. We might also be interested in essays on the contemporary use of Japanese forms. For more information, see our call for submissions page. To submit poems or essays, just follow the regular guidelines and note which (or all) should be considered for the tribute. It’s fine to send poems and essays at the same time. We’re not picky. The deadline for this issue is October 15th, 2014.” NB: RATTLE has already announced future themes on/tributes to “New Yorkers” (summer 2015 issue) and “Scientists” (fall 2015). Check http://www.rattle.com/poetry/submissions/calls/ for info. Pays: “Contributors receive $50 and a complimentary one-year subscription to the magazine. All submissions are automatically considered for the annual Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, a $500 prize judged by the editors.”
Until 11:59 p.m. (Atlanta, Georgia time) on October 20, 2014, Robert Lee Brewer will be accepting pitches for articles in the 2016 WRITER’S MARKET. “So, what do I prefer? The best way to figure that out is to read a recent edition or two….Anyone familiar with the book will know that I’m looking for articles that will help freelancers find more success from a business perspective. Previous articles have tackled queries, book proposals, taxes, record keeping, business management, and more. If you’re an experienced source and can interview other sources, that is ideal. However, I’m unlikely to assign featured interviews with writers (as I tend to tackle those myself). I’m also not interested in articles on the craft of writing. While I think those pieces are extremely valuable, they’re just not a good fit….If you’re in doubt, go ahead and pitch it.” Pays: “[W]e do pay competitive rates for freelance articles. However, I don’t discuss those rates until the piece is assigned.” The full call is available at http://blog.writersmarket.com/whats-new/call-for-submissions-2016-writers-market NB: Brewer has posted a similar call for pitches for the next POET’S MARKET, with a slightly earlier deadline (October 15): http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/call-for-submissions-2016-poets-market.
VIRGINIA QUARTERLY REVIEW reads fiction, poetry, and nonfiction submissions from October 1 to November 15. “We also read nonfiction pitches from June 15 to December 1.” Pays: “For poetry, we pay $200 per poem; for poems longer than 50 lines, the payment is higher. For prose, we generally pay approximately 25 cents per word, depending on length. For investigative reporting, we pay at a higher rate, sometimes including pre-approved travel expenses.” http://www.vqronline.org/about-vqr/submissions
“To celebrate twenty years of publication, CRAB ORCHARD REVIEW is seeking submissions for our Summer/Fall 2015 issue focusing on writing inspired or informed by the experiences, observations, and/or cultural and historical events of the following topic: ’20 Years: Writing About 1995-2015.’ We are open to work that covers any of the ways our world and ourselves have changed due to the advancements, setbacks, tragedies, and triumphs of the last twenty years. All submissions should be original, unpublished poetry, fiction, or literary nonfiction in English. Please inquire before submitting any translations.” The submission period for this issue will run from October 1 through November 10, 2014. Pays: “Writers whose work is selected will receive $25 (US) per magazine page ($50 minimum for poetry; $100 minimum for prose) and two copies of the issue.” http://craborchardreview.siu.edu/special.html
ROOM, “Canada’s oldest literary journal by and about women,” invites submissions for its summer 2015 “open” issue until October 31, 2014. Pays: “We pay $50 for up to 2 pages, $60 for 3 pages, $80 for 4 pages, $100 for 5 pages, $120 for 6+ pages, and $250 for cover art. Contributors also receive two copies of the issue in which the work appears and a year’s subscription to ROOM.” See http://www.roommagazine.com for more info.
Also Canada-based, CARTE BLANCHE has reopened for submissions. “Our mandate is to provide a venue for narrative of all forms from fiction and nonfiction, to poetry and photo essays.” The submission window closes January 1, 2015. Pays: “a modest honorarium.” Visit http://carte-blanche.org for more information.
“SYCAMORE REVIEW is looking for original poetry, fiction, non-fiction and art….We accept unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. Please query for art and book reviews. At this time we are not able to accept outside interviews, previously published works (except for translations) or genre pieces (conventional science fiction, romance, horror, etc.).” They reopened for submissions on September 1, and they’ll remain open until March 31. See http://www.sycamorereview.com/submissions/ for more info. (h/t Alan Jankowski, http://authorsdb.com/authors-directory/1824-alan-w-jankowski)
CINCINNATI REVIEW reopened for submissions in August and will remain open until April 15. Check the guidelines for details on poetry, fiction, nonfiction, reviews, and translations. NB: “We are currently seeking long forms in poetry and prose.” Pays: $25/page for prose; $30/page for poetry. See http://cincinnatireview.com/#/submissions/guidelines
SHENANDOAH reoepened for online submissions in fiction, reviews, and nonfiction on September 22, and will do the same for flash fiction and poetry on October 1 (as of that latter date, poetry and prose may also be submitted via postal mail). Queries are recommended for reviews and interviews. Payment: “will coincide with publication.” http://shenandoahliterary.org/submissions/
The newsletter is published just once each month, but there’s *always* something new at our Practicing Writing blog: fresh market news, current contest and job listings, links to writing-related articles, newly-discovered craft and business resources, and so much more. Regular blog features include:

–Monday Markets for Writers
–Wednesday Work-in-Progress
–Friday Finds for Writers
–Sunday Sentence

Please visit, and comment! http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writer.

And for those of you practicing writers who are interested in matters of specifically Jewish literary/cultural interest, please also visit My Machberet (http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/my-machberet). (For the curious, “machberet” is the Hebrew word for “notebook”.)

Recent posts there include:

–From My Bookshelf: On Bittersweet Place, a Novel by Ronna Wineberg
–Pre-Shabbat Jewish Literary Links
–On “Holocaust Fiction”
Information contained in THE PRACTICING WRITER is collected from many sources, with the purpose of providing general references. It is researched to the best of our ability but readers should verify information when necessary and appropriate. THE PRACTICING WRITER and its editor/publisher disclaim any liability for the use of information contained within. Thank you for subscribing.
For updates and additional opportunity listings between newsletters, please check in with our “Practicing Writing” blog, http://www.erikadreifus.com/blogs/practicing-writing.
ABOUT THE EDITOR: Based in New York City, Erika Dreifus is the author of QUIET AMERICANS: STORIES, which is an American Library Association Sophie Brody Medal Honor Title for outstanding achievement in Jewish literature. A member of the advisory board for J JOURNAL: NEW WRITING ON JUSTICE, she has taught for Harvard University, the Cambridge (Mass.) Center for Adult Education, and the low-residency MFA programs in creative writing at Lesley University and the Northwest Institute for Literary Arts. In August 2014, Erika joined Fig Tree Books as Media Editor. Please visit http://www.erikadreifus.com to learn more about Erika’s work, and go directly to http://www.erikadreifus.com/quiet-americans/book-clubs/ to arrange for her to visit your book club!
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