What’s new? Well, quite a lot–over on my website! If you haven’t yet visited the refurbished http://ErikaDreifus.com, please do so. I think that you’ll like what you see.
The summer is speeding by–there’s so much to do before I take up teaching college students again (which will happen right before the next newsletter goes out!) and before my debut poetry collection launches in early November. (Remain calm, Erika!)
Here’s wishing all of us an amazing August,
2. ARTICLE/LESSONS LEARNED: WE LOVE WE LOVE ANDERSON COOPER
We Love WE LOVE ANDERSON COOPER
Q&A with R. L. Maizes
When I learned that my friend R.L. Maizes had a short-story collection in the publishing pipeline, I couldn’t wait to obtain an advance copy and prepare a Q&A for this newsletter. And when I read the book (WE LOVE ANDERSON COOPER, just published by Celadon Books), I wasn’t at all disappointed.
R.L. Maizes was born and raised in Queens, New York, and now lives in Boulder County, Colorado. Maizes’s short stories have aired on National Public Radio and have appeared in the literary magazines ELECTRIC LITERATURE, WITNESS, BELLEVUE LITERARY REVIEW, SLICE, and BLACKBIRD, among others. Her essays have been published in THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, LILITH, and elsewhere.
Maizes is an alumna of the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Tin House Summer Workshop. Her work has received Honorable Mention in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open contest, has been a finalist in numerous other national contests, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. WE LOVE ANDERSON COOPER is her first book.
Please welcome R.L. Maizes!
ERIKA DREIFUS (ED): First things first: We’re friends, so I know what “R.L.” stands for. Why the choice to use initials rather than your full name (or at least, your first name and last name) for the byline?
R.L. MAIZES (RLM): I didn’t want my gender to be one of the first things people considered, consciously or subconsciously, in deciding whether to read my work. I wanted them to take the work on its merits.
ED: You thank a lot of people and programs in your acknowledgments section, but some readers may find it notable that you do not have an MFA degree. (Also: You don’t live in New York!!!) Please tell us a bit about your path to becoming a published author.
RLM: I’ve always wanted to write, but I was discouraged by my family, so I chose a different career path. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized I didn’t want my life to go by without at least trying to become a writer. So I began to write. Poorly. But I got advice at a reading from an author who explained that you have to write a lot and to write badly to eventually become good at it.
After that, I wrote every day after work. I joined a writing group. There’s a great writing school in Denver called Lighthouse Writers Workshop, and I took classes there. I also worked one on one with a writing coach, Laura Pritchett, a wonderful writer and teacher, and with developmental editors. I attended summer workshops at places like Sewanee and Bread Loaf. I piled up a mountain of rejections. Gradually, I improved.
ED: Short-story writers are often told (and discover) that it’s difficult to acquire agent representation for a collection, that story collections typically “don’t sell” to big publishers. Please tell us a bit about how you connected with your agent [Victoria Sanders], and about the deal with Celadon, a new-ish division of Macmillan Books.
RLM: While many agents aren’t open to short story collections, some are, and a few actively look for collections. If you read Publishers Marketplace you’ll find that short story collections sell regularly, though not as often as novels. It helps if you have a novel to go with your collection.
I didn’t have any connection to my agent before I queried her. As far as I know, she’d never sold a short story collection before. But she’s the perfect agent for my book because she loved it and was ready to champion it. My novel, OTHER PEOPLE’S PETS, sold together with the collection to Celadon Books.
Agents and editors at publishing houses want to fall in love with books and to usher those books into the world. Write the best book you can, whether it’s a collection or a novel, and put it before agents. Then engage in good luck rituals because, as in everything in life, succeeding in publishing takes a fair bit of luck. Personally I wear a red string around my wrist. Don’t ask. [Editor’s Note: I won’t ask, but I’m familiar with at least one red-string tradition: https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/ask-the-expert-red-string-bracelet/. As for the Publishers Marketplace item mentioned above, we’ll return to that in the “Featured Resource” below.]
ED: Which of the stories in this collection was most challenging to write? What made it so, and, looking back now, how do you think you managed to make the story happen?
RLM: “Ghost Dogs” is about a woman who has lost hope and was very hard to write. A colleague who read an early draft told me it lacked contrast. She compared the story to a painting that is so dark you can’t make out the images. Following her advice, I found ways to lighten up the story. In some cases that meant flashing back to times in the main character’s life when she was surrounded by love.
ED: Which of the stories in this collection was most satisfying to write? Why?
RLM: “A Cat Called Grievous” was very satisfying to write. It’s full of dark humor, and I took a lot of risks with the story that I think paid off.
ED: The characters and situations of the 11 stories in this book are diverse in lots of ways. I notice, though, that interspersed among them are a few (I’m thinking here mainly of “The Infidelity of Judah Maccabee,” the flash piece “L’Chaim,” “Yiddish Lessons,” and the title story “We Love Anderson Cooper”) that might accurately be described as “Jewish stories.” Or course, “Jewish stories” aren’t monolithic themselves, as these stories illustrate nicely. But here’s something that applies across this subset of stories: If you were to remove their Jewish qualities/content (ritual, textual allusions, language, etc.), I don’t see how they could exist on their own. Again, we’re friends, and so I know that you come from a Jewish background. How do you perceive that background as influencing your work?
RLM: I take issue with the phrase “Jewish stories” because it makes stories that are about people of other faiths or no faith normative, when those stories also locate characters in specific cultural settings. That said, when I write characters who are Jewish and put them in culturally Jewish settings, such as a bar mitzvah or Hanukkah celebration, I’m able to draw on a long and complex history and a set of traditions that I know intimately because I grew up as an Orthodox Jew. I think that lends a richness to the stories, and in some ways those stories are easier for me to write. I also grew up reading authors such as Philip Roth, Chaim Potok, Bernard Malamud, Elie Wiesel, Saul Bellow, and I.B. Singer, and those writers influenced my work. I wish women were included that list, but there weren’t many books by women who were Jewish in our house, which is a crime and takes me back to your first question.
ED: Anything else you’d like to share?
RLM: Whatever your age, you can begin writing. WE LOVE ANDERSON COOPER is my first book, and I’m old enough that I no longer qualify for most emerging writer awards. My age didn’t come up with my agent or publisher. The work was what interested them.
ED: Thank you so much, R.L., and congratulations again on your marvelous book.
For more information about R.L. Maizes’s new story collection, please visit https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250304070.
3. FEATURED RESOURCE: PUBLISHERS MARKETPLACE
In this month’s Q&A, R.L. Maizes references Publishers Marketplace, a self-described “marketplace for publishing professionals.” Many of that site’s features require a paid subscription to access, but daily newsletters, and some other items (for starters, reviewers and critics might take note of the “Book Buzz” samplers), are available free of charge.
4. UPCOMING/ONGOING CONTESTS, COMPETITIONS, AND OTHER OPPORTUNITIES OF INTEREST
TONI BEAUCHAMP PRIZE IN CRITICAL ART WRITING
Deadline: September 15, 2019
Judge: Jessica Lynne
“Surveying the scope of critical art writing today, the board, advisory board, and editors of Gulf Coast recognize the significant lack of venues and support for young and mid-career writers working across the United States. The Toni Beauchamp Prize in Critical Art Writing seeks to address this lacuna by bringing exposure to writers who are dealing with the spirit of the age and unafraid to ask difficult questions…. The Beauchamp Prize will consider submissions of work that has been written (or published) within the last year. A variety of creative approaches and formats to writing on the visual arts are encouraged, and can include thematic essays, exhibition reviews and scholarly essays.” Prizes: “one first place prize of $3,000 dollars and two runners up awarded $1,000 each. Prize winners will be featured in GC’s printed journal, as well as online.”
BRILLIANT FLASH FICTION CONTEST
Deadline: September 1, 2019 (midnight MST)
Judge: Kathy Fish
Seeks flash fiction (maximum: 300 words, excluding title). Prompt: “Feed Us.” Prizes: $100/$30/$20.
HUBERT BUTLER ESSAY PRIZE
Deadline: September 2, 2019
Judges: Roy Foster, Nicholas Grene, Eva Hoffman
“The Hubert Butler Essay Prize (a first prize of £1,000 and two second prizes of £500) is intended to encourage the art of essay-writing with a European dimension and to expand interest in Butler’s work. The subject for the 2019 essay prize is: ‘Where does a citizen of the world belong?'” NB: “The author must be over 18, and be a citizen of the European Union.”
GRANADA WRITERS IN RESIDENCE PROGRAMME
Deadline: September 20, 2019
“Granada UNESCO City of Literature, which depends on Granada City Council’s Department for the Arts, in partnership with the University of Granada (through its University Extension Unit, International Development Unit, and Social Responsibility, Equality and Inclusion Unit), is launching a new international Granada Writers in Residence Programme. The purpose of this programme is to strengthen international partnerships in the arts sector in general and in the field of writing in particular, which is one of the main objectives set by the city of Granada as a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN).” This program is for “emerging writers, residing in any country in whichever language they write” (in this case, “emerging” seems to mean “having published at least one book and no more than five [prose fiction, essays, poetry, etc.], excluding self-publishing”). What’s offered: “A month’s stay (30 nights) in Granada for two writers, between 1 November and 1 December 2019. Granada UNESCO City of Literature will cover the travelling expenses of each of the writers selected. The University of Granada will arrange and cover the costs of accommodation for the two writers. Each will have their own room with full board at the university’s hall of residence for visitors (Corrala de Santiago). Granada UNESCO City of Literature and the University of Granada will provide the writers in residence with opportunities to participate in the city’s literary life, arranging contacts with local writers, involvement in workshops, teaching activities, and so on.” NB: Knowledge of Spanish appears to be required.
JACK GRAPES POETRY PRIZE
Deadline: August 31, 2019
Contest for unpublished poetry (no simultaneous submissions). Prizes: “3 WINNERS will receive $250 each, plus publication. 6 FINALISTS will receive $75 each, plus publication.”
HEADWAY QUARTERLY SUMMER 2019 WRITING CONTEST
Deadline: August 15, 2019
“We are pleased to announce that submissions are now open for our second writing contest. The winter contest was such a success that we have decided to make this a biannual event! For round two, we’re introducing a twist. Entries should explore the theme of color–whatever that means to you–but should also be limited to 350 words in length. All genres welcome. We’re excited to see what you come up with. Sometimes, less is more.” Prizes: “The winning submission will receive a cash prize of $100 and will be published in the fifth digital issue of Headway Quarterly, coming in early September. Three runners up will also be chosen, receiving a small prize and the option to be published in the same issue.” (HT http://twitter.com/duotrope.)
Deadline: September 17, 2019 (5pm EST)
“The Hodder Fellowship will be given to artists of exceptional promise to pursue independent projects at Princeton University during the academic year. Potential Hodder Fellows are composers, choreographers, performance artists, visual artists, writers, or other kinds of artists or humanists who have ‘much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts’; they are selected more ‘for promise than for performance.’ Given the strength of the applicant pool, most successful Fellows have published a first book or have similar achievements in their own fields; the Hodder is designed to provide Fellows with the ‘studious leisure’ to undertake significant new work.” NB: “Hodder Fellows spend an academic year at Princeton, but no formal teaching is involved. An $83,000 stipend is provided for this 10-month appointment as a Visiting Fellow. Fellowships are not intended to fund work leading to an advanced degree. One need not be a U.S. citizen to apply.” NB: For another opportunity at Princeton University, consult the guidelines for the Princeton Arts Fellowships: http://arts.princeton.edu/fellowships/princeton-arts-fellowship/, applications for which also close on September 17, 2019.
IOWA SHORT FICTION AND JOHN SIMMONS SHORT FICTION AWARD
Submissions: August 1-September 30 (postmarked)
“Any writer who has not previously published a volume of prose fiction is eligible to enter the competition. Previously entered manuscripts that have been revised may be resubmitted. Writers are still eligible if they have published a volume of poetry or any work in a language other than English or if they have self-published a work in a small print run. Writers are still eligible if they are living abroad or are non-US citizens writing in English. Current University of Iowa students are not eligible. The manuscript must be a collection of short stories in English of at least 150 word-processed, double-spaced pages. We do not accept e-mail submissions. The manuscript may include a cover page, contents page, etc., but these are not required. The author’s name can be on every page but this is not required. Stories previously published in periodicals are eligible for inclusion.” NB: “Award-winning manuscripts will be published by the University of Iowa Press under the Press’s standard contract.”
JAN MICHALSKI FOUNDATION RESIDENCIES
Deadline: September 15, 2019
Stays at this Switzerland-based residency program may last two weeks, one month, two months, three months, or six months. “There are no age or nationality restrictions,” and “beginners are accepted.” NB: “Residents’ travel costs to and from their home address will be covered by the Foundation. Residents are granted a monthly allowance of CHF 1200. The Foundation provides breakfast and lunch for residents and the village has a small grocery shop.”
JOHN MONTAGUE INTERNATIONAL POETRY FELLOWSHIP
Deadline: August 18, 2019
Open to “poets working in English from outside Ireland. The Poetry Fellow must have at least two full-length collections of poetry published.” Details: “The fellowship requires the poet to reside in Cork for twelve weeks and find time to work on their own writing. The poetry fellow would arrive in late January and depart late April. The fellow would contribute a public reading and a four-morning poetry masterclass to the Cork International Poetry Festival. During their twelve week stay they would provide a 5-credit workshop with the creative writing department of University College Cork. Their mentoring duties would consist of devoting two hours each, per week, to two Cork poets over eight weeks (32 hours total). They will be welcomed into the literary and social life of the city where they will have the opportunity to network with resident established writers. They would present a farewell public reading at the Boole Library of University College Cork.” NB: “The successful fellow would receive a monthly stipend of €2000, totalling €6,000 and self-catering accommodation. The costs of economy air travel to and from Cork would also be covered.”
VERNA MARION NUGENT CHAPBOOK CONTEST
Deadline: September 3, 2019
“Portland Review welcomes emerging writers to submit fiction and nonfiction for the 2019 Verna Marion Nugent chapbook contest. The winner will receive $500 and publication as a chapbook included inside our Labor issue. The contest judge will be announced shortly.” The contest theme is “Invisible Labor”: “Writers may interpret this in various ways, but submissions that do not fit this theme will be declined.” No simultaneous submissions. NB: “We define emerging writers as those who have not yet published a book at the time of submission (excluding self-published books). Additionally, writers should not have published work in major online outlets at the time of submission. We understand this term is slippery in definition and anticipate writers at various stages of emerging. Writers will be asked to submit a short statement of how they meet this qualification.”
HELEN SCHAIBLE INTERNATIONAL SONNET CONTEST
Deadline: September 1, 2019 (postmarked)
Contest welcomes submissions in two categories: traditional sonnet (Shakespearean or Petrarchan) and modern sonnet. Prizes for both categories: “First Prize: $50. Second Prize: $35. Third Prize: $15. Three Honorable Mentions, Unranked.”
5. SUBMISSION ALERTS!!!
Re-opening for submissions on August 1: BLACKBIRD, “an online journal of literature and the arts.” Payment: “after publication.” https://blackbird.vcu.edu/v18n1/new.shtml
Also on August 1: THE BALTIMORE REVIEW will reopen for submissions (and will remain open until November 30). “Payment for general submissions is Web exposure and a copy of the compilation in which the author’s work appears. In addition, we are now able to provide contributors with a small payment for their work ($40 Amazon gift certificate or $40 through PayPal, if preferred). We hope to continue this as long as funding is available.” http://baltimorereview.org/index.php
Also with an August 1 re-open date: WEST BRANCH, “a thrice-yearly magazine of poetry, fiction, essays, and reviews.” Payment: “$50 per submission of poetry, $10/page of printed prose with a maximum payment of $100, and $.05/word of online prose with a maximum payment of $100. Additionally, we provide each contributor with two copies of the issue in which his/her work appears and a one-year subscription to West Branch.” NB: “Book reviews are typically arranged by assignment, and we publish only poetry reviews. If you are interested in writing reviews, please query with a sample. Our pay rate for reviewing is highly competitive.” http://westbranch.blogs.bucknell.edu.
“CHERRY TREE welcomes submissions of poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and literary shade. We read manuscripts between August 1 and October 1, submitted electronically via Submittable. We only consider original, unpublished work. For accepted work, we purchase First North American serial rights. Payment is $20 per contributor and two contributors’ copies.” (NB: Last year, CHERRY TREE did not charge writers Submittable fees to send work for journal consideration; I’m anticipating that the same will be true this year, but I won’t know for sure until submissions open.) https://www.washcoll.edu/centers/lithouse/cherry-tree/
THIRD POINT PRESS remains open for poetry and fiction submissions until August 14. (These will be considered for Issue 14, to be published September 25). Pays: “We pay $10/contributor via PayPal.” https://www.thirdpointpress.com/
From Lonely Cryptid Media: August 15 is the deadline for submissions for an anthology project titled FIREWEED: STORIES FROM THE REVOLUTION. “We accept all works related to the current political moment, whether explicitly or implicitly. Of particular interest are works which celebrate resistance, provide catharsis, imagine positive (and even utopic) futures, provide inspiration for activists and revolutionaries, and otherwise uplift us during a time of deep sadness. Works do not need to be specific to the context of the United States. Non-English works may be accepted on a case-by-case basis. We accept all genres, with a particular fondness for Speculative/Science Fiction, fantasy, mystery, and romance.” They’re looking for poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction, and visual art. “We are interested in highlighting and elevating underrepresented voices of all kinds and we strongly desire work from artists and writers from marginalized groups including those from non-privileged racial, sexual, gender, national, religious, and ability backgrounds.” Pays: “Each work will receive a flat payment of $25 upon acceptance, plus 1% of sales in the first month.” NB: “We may purchase one-time and reprint rights on a case-by-case basis, but we are focusing on first publication for this anthology. Please indicate if your works has ever been published in any market before. As always, you must have the legal ability to sell your work to us.” (Found this one via http://twitter.com/Duotrope.) https://lonelycryptidmedia.com/2019/07/14/call-for-submissions-fireweed-stories-from-the-revolution/
From APT: “In the nearly six decades since Rachel Carson wrote Silent Spring, we have, on whole, walked the road to disaster. We have continued to use toxic chemicals in the quest for ever-greater consumption. We have burned fossil fuels in such quantities that we have altered the temperature of the planet’s air and water. We have deforested and overfished and overhunted and overdeveloped. We have pushed other species to the brink of extinction and beyond. In the name of progress, we have undone millions of years of change in a matter of centuries. But still, the choice is ours to make. Millions of people–scientists, conservationists, elected officials, activists, and those who simply choose to take action–make the choice to follow the other road each day. Their path is not paved and the walk is not easy. And that’s exactly why we must follow them. For apt’s tenth print issue, we are seeking to publish fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, and comics that address climate change, the defining challenge of our lifetime. It is, of course, not the only major, systemic issue we face and, for many, it is not the most important issue in day-to-day lives marked by injustice and inequality in a system that privileges the few. But it is an issue that touches nearly everyone and that permeates our systems, exacerbates inequality, and sharpens injustice.” NB: “As always, we seek longer work for our print issues in order to publish and promote narratives that engage deeply with a subject and take time to explore it fully. For this issue, we will also read shorter work (5,000 words minimum for prose, 1,000 words/100 lines/7 pages minimum for poetry) that falls within our theme. If you have work that comes close to these constraints but doesn’t quite meet them, submit it and we’ll figure out the rest. We also welcome a wide range of forms, genres, and the genreless. If you’re submitting something that doesn’t fit neatly into a classification, select the Hybrid category.” Pays: “Authors included in the issue will receive a $50 payment and a copy of the issue.” Deadline: August 31, 2019. http://apt.aforementionedproductions.com/
“POETRY ON PLANES is a project currently in progress, the first in a series of anthologies that will feature the work of 99 poets — both established and emerging — from around the world. We are soliciting original works that were, ideally, written while the author was travelling on a commercial airliner. And each work — be it serious or whimsical — should reflect the sort of thoughts people have while looking out the window at clouds and the earth below. People on planes will be reading Poetry on Planes, and it helps if they can relate to what’s on the page.” Appears to be open to previously published work. Pays: “50 euros, or the equivalent in dollars/pounds/lira/yen/rupee/etc., as well as a copy of the book. But we think this is a good idea that hopefully will sell better than the usual book of poetry. If so, you’ll get… more. But it’s also an experiment, so how much more is yet to be determined… with all 99 contributors getting an equal share, of course.” Deadline: September 1, 2019. https://poetryonplanes.com/
Also with a deadline of September 1, 2019: Australia-based GRIFFITH REVIEW’s call for submissions for an issue on the theme “Matters of Trust”: “From our first experiences to our last, institutions structure our world — through education and medicine to politics, justice, civics and religion. But in recent years even the most entrenched of institutions are seemingly on the edge of implosion. Either through deliberate political attacks or as an effect of wider disruption, new social forces have issued a comprehensive challenge to the established order. Does this new uncertainty mark a profound loss of trust in how our society is organised and how it operates? Might this be an opportunity for thorough-going reform to regain lost legitimacy, or does it mark an end-point for a social structure that is no longer tenable in the twenty-first century? Can institutions adapt? Can trust be rebuilt? Or will new forms of social organisation eventuate from this gathering sense of crisis? Griffith Review seeks new work that reveals the ways our institutions are transforming, reshaping, renewing. We seek work that explores the change that is already underway, and what needs to happen next so our economic and social systems can meet the needs of a future society that is shaping up to be radically different from our own.” Payment: “Fees are negotiated by word length, except for contributors employed by universities who, are paid a flat fee. Once we’ve agreed to publish and negotiated any editing changes, you will be sent a contract and payment will be made within twenty-one days of returning a completed version along with an invoice.” https://griffithreview.com/
PORTLAND REVIEW “is excited to welcome submissions of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, art, and mixed-genre works for its 2020 themed anthology, LABOR.” About the theme: “We are thinking about labor as work or employment, and how it relates to the body and the self. But we don’t just want stories about working; we want to read about labor in all its forms: physical, emotional, invisible, and theoretical. How does labor influence the self and our orientation to the world? How does the self influence labor? We want to see examinations of labor as breathing, as birth, as historical movement, as formation, blood and germs, the gig, empathy, art, opposition, reciprocal energy, exploitation, werq, family-making, beasts of burden, language, and monetization.” Payment: $30 per contributor, plus a print copy. Deadline: September 2, 2019. http://portlandreview.org/
“Launched in December 2018, MIDNIGHT & INDIGO is a new literary platform dedicated to publishing short fiction and narrative essays by Black female writers.” The next issue’s deadline is September 8. Payment: $50 for short stories accepted for online publication, $75 for short stories accepted for the literary journal, $30 for essays. NB: They are also looking for book reviews by Black women authors. “Due to the nature of our platform, reviews focused on book within the literary fiction genre will have a better chance of getting published.” Payment is $30. The review guidelines also indicate that “We are looking to hire an in-house writer for an on-going assignment. The candidate may be chosen from this pool.” https://midnightindigo.submittable.com/submit
Posted by Morgan Jerkins on Twitter in July: “I’m the new Senior Editor at @zoramag /@Medium. If you’re a WOC, pitch me reportage, profiles, cultural criticism, op-eds, personal essays, interviews, + political commentary. We pay well, trust me.” Her email is in the tweet; keep reading and you’ll see an additional note for book editors and publicists: “We run excerpts too. Get in touch!” https://twitter.com/MorganJerkins/status/1150775270841995265