Regarding Literary Magazines

I’ve been trying to get work published in literary and speculative fiction magazines for the last 4 years. I imagine that it takes longer than 4 years for the average non-established author to finally “break through” and actually see his or her work in print. There’s a lot we writers need to get right before we finally see any kind of positive results. There’s much we need to take into consideration, like if our writing is even good enough to be published in the first place. (Then again, plenty of self-publishers skip that step–and no, I’m not singling out any specific authors; nor does this statement apply to all self-publishers either.)

Then, we need to invest lots of time into researching literary magazines and genres. This is the point I’m at now. I’ve figured out what genres I typically write within, and have singled out a wish list of literary magazines where I want to see my work. Many writers and authors post their literary magazine wish lists. It’s an interesting exercise, especially if you use the post to set a goal for yourself. Also, it’s helpful to other writers looking for magazines that are within their markets, and free publicity for literary magazines too.

I’ve already submitted 1-4 entries to a few of these magazines (and they were, unfortunately, not accepted). But the standard email always says to keep trying, so I try not to let the rejection get me down (it does sometimes, though). Still, I will continue to try to get published by these magazines until the acquisitions editor writes me his/herself and tells me to “knock it the hell off.” (I’m a glutton for punishment, I guess.)

My Literary/Speculative fiction Magazine Wish List

Camera Obscura
Paris Review (NOTE: not accepting work from unestablished authors. . .I am actually saving this one for later, because they will probably tell me to “knock it the hell off.”)
Midwestern Gothic
Bat City Review
River Styx
Fourteen Hills
Tin House
Glimmer Train
Ninth Letter
Bellevue Literary Review
Drunken Boat
Granta (for translations)
Black Wire Literary Magazine
Cease, Cows
Roadside Fiction (travel fiction)
Blackheart Magazine
Redhead magazine
Museum of Things I want to Forget
After Hours
Tephra Magazine (I’m unsure what is going on with this one, actually. . .the editor never got back to me about my story and it’s long past the date the debut issue was supposed to come out, and nothing has yet.)
Contemporary Literary Review
Literary Yard (for literary criticism)
The Gap-toothed Madness
Per Contra
Carte Blanche (lit. fic. or translations)
Matador Network (Travel writing)
Boulevard
Wet Ink (website link is not working. . .still, that doesn’t change that I’ve enjoyed this magazine’s publications in the past.)
The Sun
The Missouri Review

Literary Orphans
Penny Dreadful
Fictionvale
Swamp Biscuits and Tea
Ideomancer
Black Static
Strange Horizons
The Dragon and the Wolf
Cafe Irreal
Do Not Look at the Sun (on hiatus? I’m not sure what is going on at this one either. . .but their past issues are online still and a worth a read)
Margin  (Not sure if still in print)
Lore
Black Treacle
Crossed Genres
Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Lovecraft ezine
Fiction (Fiction inc.)
AGNI
Arcadia
Birkensnake
Blue Mesa Review
Bluestem (Karamu)
Caketrain
Pank Magazine
Tiny Hardcore Press (books)
The Colored Lens
Conjunctions
A Capella Zoo
Bourbon Penn
The Dragon and the Wolf (haven’t heard back from the editor yet, regarding whether or not submissions are still open. . .it’s another start-up literary magazine)
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Many of these literary magazines can be found via their names either on google, Facebook, or Twitter. Before you try to submit to them, I would suggest putting some time in reading previous issues. Likewise, if you’re just looking for some good summer reading material, all of these publications feature interesting fiction, art, and poetry. I wouldn’t be attempting to get my work in these publications if I didn’t enjoy what they publish.

 

 

 

 

 

Eye-Catching Book Covers

I saw this article in my Twitter #Discover feed nestled between an article about some busy-body Americans who fear that the Austrian tradition of the Krampus (link to a video of the annual Krampuslauf in Graz, Austria in case you are unfamiliar with Austrian traditions) is going to corrupt the children–because. . .the Devil, that’s why–and some anecdotal tweets about the best books of 2013. Between all this chaos of moral uproar and best of lists, I found Flavorwire’s “Best Book Covers of 2013“, which made me wonder if this year was really not that great of a year for book covers. Or maybe I just disagree with them on what the criteria are for a good book cover. Although, I’m not going to outright say that because I directly linked to them and I think that they have a right to an opinion, just as anyone else does. Also, I haven’t seen all the book covers of 2013, so maybe I can’t really say that this year was just not a good year for book covers. (But I kind of said it anyway, so oh well.)

But Flavorwire’s article has inspired me to write my own list of good book covers–as in, the book covers that would make me actually pick up a book and read the plot description or the first page. So this–Nikki’s list of Good Book Covers through the Ages (classic reprints and alternate covers also included)–now exists.

1.) No Saints or Angels, by Ivan Klima (English edition)

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Why this is a good cover:

There is something hauntingly beautiful about the angle at which the photo of this already hauntingly beautiful angel was taken. It’s also a great representation of Czech culture, with a little bit of irony thrown in (with some help from the title). But Klima’s (I don’t have a Czech keyboard, so I apologize for the misplaced accent) books usually have some interesting cover images. I don’t know if it is because I just like the Czechs’ visual preferences, or if perhaps the theme of the book itself makes these kind of cover image choices an option.

Another good book cover belongs to Klima’s Waiting for the Dark Waiting for the Light:

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The nude woman with a fit body aside, I think the photograph offers not only a lovely setting (old fashioned windows thrown open and that broad sill), but also the photographer has made good lighting and coloring choices and the pose of the model evokes really strong emotions in the viewer, considering it is a book cover. The model seems deep in thought and as though she is waiting for something–like she’s tormented by something, but also perhaps that she is anxious and on the look-out for something or someone that she expects to come. If the cover photo/image itself can make me speculate about what is going on in it, then I’m going to pick up the book. I expect the book to be an explanation of what is going on in the cover, or the cover somehow relating to the theme(s) of the book.

2.)Voluntary Madness: My Year Lost and Found in the Looney Bin, by Norah Vincent

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I picked this book up to read because I was writing a research paper on the differences between the various options we have for people with mental illness in the United States (spoiler alert: the best options are financially out of reach for a majority of people with mental illness). After going about 5 years since I’ve read this book, I still recall loving the cover. Even if the subject of the book was not relevant to a project I was doing or I didn’t have to read it for whatever reason, I still would have picked this book up and read it from cover to cover. I guess I like this cover because it is relevant–again–to the content of the book. It isn’t just a colorful gimmick intended to catch a book store browser’s eyes. It gives a visual point-of-reference to the settings explored within the book.

3.) The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath (Multiple editions)

2000 Harper Perennial Classics Modern Edition:

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2005 Harper Perennial Classics Modern Edition (I own this version):

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1971 Harper & Row Edition:

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While writing this, I’m recalling that I have a bit of a flare for the dramatics in my daily life, so of course these covers are going to be on my list. Why do these images visually appeal to me though? I guess the same could be observed about the lighting choices and the way that the 1971 edition photo was developed (I’m not a photographer and my friends who are well-versed in old-school photographic technique also only speak German. . .so I lack the proper terminology to describe this.) I guess I also like the choice of props and subjects represented within the photos. I like the distance expressed by the models in all the photos. It appears as though they seem to be hiding, or someplace distant that one must work hard to get to. Plath’s narration in the novel seems emotionally distant at times with a bit of insight thrown in every so often, but told in a way that you really must work and think over the words to get the full implication behind them (just my interpretation, feel free to disagree).

4.) A Great and Terrible Beauty and The Sweet Far Thing, by Libba Bray

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After I had graduated high school, I started reading solely literary fiction and the classics that I did not read in high school (with some adult fantasy and horror thrown in for good measure). If it weren’t for the cover image of the first book in this series (A Great and Terrible Beauty) I wouldn’t have read it, because it’s teen fiction. But I am a huge fan of this series now, even after stumbling upon it when I no longer considered myself a YA reader. The reasons why this cover is good are pretty obvious. The attention to historical detail and the pretty laces and corset are visually appealing. I’m not sure how relevant this is to the underlying theme of the series, but it gives a somewhat shallow point of reference to a piece of the wardrobe worn by some girls and women of that time period.

5.) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

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I suppose that without such a concept, such a book cover would never come into existence. But this is just a very unique cover image. I’m not sure how creative it is, but you can tell that an artist put a lot of work into it. It’s just gorgeous, creepy, and so explanatory at the same time.

In conclusion, perhaps what makes a good book cover is ultimately subjective and not something that can be organized into a tight, marketing formula. Yes, colors definitely affect a person’s attitude toward a book. But, if the book deals with a somber or solemn plot/theme, perhaps yellow and red would not be appropriate for the book. Furthermore, what makes a good book cover completely depends upon the audience the author is writing for. Many of my selections were intended to appeal to a more solemn, less excitable audience. I don’t think it would be appropriate for The Bell Jar to have the same color scheme as any of the cover editions of Naked Lunch, for example, because both novels are written in completely different tones. Many of the book covers I see often do not reflect upon the actual tone of the book, and so this confusion created by a cover that doesn’t relate to the story or capture the tone of the narrator very well leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth. I can think of some really great books that were written in a somber, slow tone, but featured colors that inspire excitement and anxiousness in the viewer (like my edition of Love in the Asylum, ordered online because I was interested in the theme and the story, featuring a very red cover). Also, many bibliophiles just gravitate toward visually stunning covers. To them (and to me), everything about the book (the writing within it, the cover, the inside of the jacket, and the font and layout of the pages) is a part of a work of art.

The Article that Funded my Trip to a Black/Death Metal Festival in Belgium is Up

You can read it here.

At the last minute, we decided that I would write an article about why students at my university who will be studying abroad through our sibling schools program should consider Masaryk University in the Czech Republic. However, I did take two trips to Gent and Brussels while in Belgium and did some cultural/aesthetic sight-seeing, so I was perfectly equipped to write an article about why you should go to Belgium/what there is to do in Belgium. But if you are interested in reading about my trip to Belgium, I have a blog entry about it here.

I Just Lost an Entire Blog Post Despite saving it as a Draft

I spent a rather sizable chunk of time writing a post this morning. I have limited time and so if there happened to be a way to get that time back so that I could do something more productive with it, I would do so. Situations like this make me want to stop using WordPress, or “rage-quit” the blog if you will. Apparently though, if you have more than one blog (like me), there’s a risk that WordPress might forget which blog you specified for the post to go to when you hit “publish post” and just pull something like, “un_known post” or “we forgot where you said you wanted this to go.” Well, don’t do what I did. Don’t say “Okay, I’ll just save this as a draft then and try to redirect it to its rightful home from under my drafts page.” No! Big mistake. Even though, I waited for the screen to confirm that it was indeed saved, when I got to my drafts page I couldn’t find the post. It had vanished.

This has happened to me at least three times, and it’s a reason why I don’t update my blog as often, because of stupid technical derps like this that eat up my time and force me to have to conclude that I just wasted an hour trying to update my blog and have nothing to show for it. It’s time to move on to one of my 8 billion other projects I’m working on or else just resign myself to doing homework. I really don’t have time for stuff like this.

Anyway, I’m just going to do a short recap of what I actually wanted to post, since it pertains to my last blog entry and my future blog entries.

1.) I’m not doing the second part of the Liebster Awards. I’ve had a gut feeling ever since I first saw this thing floating around that this award is just fictional and it’s basically the WordPress/blogger version of a chain letter. I appreciate that someone thought my blog was awesome and wanted it to be recognized and thought this was a great way to network with people. But I don’t have time to fulfill the demands of this “award”. Also, I’m noticing that most bloggers view this as spam, so I’m not going to bother them with it. Yes, I decided at first I would try to do it because there are also a lot of bloggers out there who use this chain letter as a means of networking, and I see no issue with networking. In fact, I think the one good thing about the “Liebster Award” is that it got more bloggers to network. But I can find other ways to network that are in line with my current goals. And speaking of goals. . .

2.) I’m going to temporarily abandon this blog for the next 5 weeks to work on another blog that I’m doing for my Professional Writing 4160 course. It’s going to be about my experiences with Czech beer. There will also be beer suggestions and information about where you can get these beers if you ever travel to Czech Republic are happening to be planning a trip. I will put up another post when I have my first entry up so that you guys can find the blog.

3.) I’m also working on numerous translation projects. Still. I’ve got a project with Jewish, German-speaking writers from Prague who were in the same literary circle as Kafka and Max Brod. I’m still working on my Belphegor and other death metal/black metal German language interviews that I’m translating to English. You can view the results as I finish them here.

4.) I’m thinking what I don’t get done for the Prague Writers project will be going into my proposal for a Fulbright Research grant. I’m also dealing with that now and trying to get a translation internship abroad though AIESEC. To do both of these things, involves a lot of back-and-forth with representative from both of these programs.

 

 

 

What I’m Learning from Freelancing on Elance

I decided I would try out one job on Elance to see how I like it. Thus far, I’m really enjoying the assignment I took on. I’m writing 5 articles about guitars–something I’m genuinely passionate about–and it’s been a good exercise in making me feel like less of a writing failure. Also, it’s been good for motivating me to write at least 1,000 words a day. But after this assignment, I don’t know if I want to take on anymore jobs at Elance.

I’ve been looking for any follow-up assignments that would be similar to this one. But so far, all I’m finding are people looking for ghost writers to write their e-books, and it’s making me lose faith in the e-book author community. Do any of you write your own books?! I scrolled through 7 pages of lazy e-book “authors” (and I use that term, author, very lightly, because so many of them don’t even have a story layout for you to go by and just expect you to do all the work for $85). If I really want to sit down and write a 20k 50 Shades of Grey style romance in e-book format, I would do so and sell it under my own name and take the profit for myself. It would be better in the long-term if I am really going to devote the amount of time it takes to write a book THAT WOULD ACTUALLY SELL if I did it for me, instead of someone who wants to give me a pay-out of $85 and wants me to have it done in 6 months. Um no. That’s not how writing a book works. Try again.

I’m not finding any assignments similar to what I’m doing now, just these propositions to get cheap freelancers to write books for people who would then market themselves as authors. Since I’m considering e-publishing my book when I am finished with it and if I don’t find a traditional publisher for it, I’m fairly active in the e-publishing community. If I read a good e-book, I like to promote it and help the author out. But seeing this is disheartening and making me honestly question an author before I actually help them out, because I have absolutely ZERO respect for people who market themselves as something they are not. (And no, you’re not an author and you have no right to call yourself that if you didn’t write your own book and I won’t read your book, because marketing someone else’s work as your own is dishonest and cheating.) It is insulting to me that I put in all this time on my book because it is an act of love and something I am very passionate about, as are most other people who write for a living, and there are people out there who approach this industry as a way of making “easy money” and can’t even be bothered with penning their own works.

Anyway, this isn’t just about how many fakes there are out there marketing themselves as authors. I actually wanted to write a pretty good review of my experiences so far with Elance, for anyone who is considering trying the site out. I originally signed up on Elance for translation jobs, but there aren’t a lot of translations for the particular skills I have (I do German to English and English to German translation). Or, if I do find a job in that area, they are asking for a native German speaker (and I understand why, because American universities have such low standards for how much formal training you actually need in order to get a Bachelor’s degree in foreign language, that a lot of the majors I’ve met who haven’t spent any time abroad for real-life language practice are not equipped to do certain translations) and refuse anyone other than that, no matter if you have the credentials or a very good portfolio. They just won’t even look at your proposal. The translation thing hasn’t really been working out on Elance for me.

But if I could find more jobs similar to what I’m doing now (in-depth informative content writing jobs for around the same amount of money I’m being per article), I’d totally be content with Elance. I’m not finding that though. I’m really disappointed with the types of jobs I’m finding there. There are so many firms that want you to write 10 articles in a very small amount of time for only $1-$5 per article, and I just don’t think that’s worth it. If you want me to write 10 articles in a day, you need to pay me more than $5 per article, especially if you want something that’s more than 500 words and you require extensive research into the subject. Research takes time and if I have to do 10 of these in a day, it’s just not happening. . .especially not a $1 per article (and I’m not exaggerating, the pay is really that low).

My experience with Elance ultimately has clued me in to what society seems to think of freelancers. They seem to think we’re gullible, desperate sods who would do huge amounts of work for basically free. But it hasn’t been an entirely negative experience. There are some good jobs on there occasionally, but they do get claimed pretty fast.

“Having too Many Ideas sometimes Equals Having no Ideas at all”

I’m kind of borrowing this topic from somebody else. Someone on helpmewrite.co posted this idea as something they would want to write, and I’ll totally support them and read their take on it when they write their version. But this statement is just so true to my personal experience as a writer–and in particular my experience with writing in the last 3 months. I feel like oftentimes I’m stuck because I have too many ideas and too many projects going. I think I’ve been going on and on about being split between my short story project, my novel “Mind Terrorist”, and my fantasy project. (Oh, and let’s not forget my scholarly project of translating a Belphegor Interview.) I wish I could multitask to the scale of being able to write multiple projects simultaneously.

People keep telling me I really need to prioritize to regain control of my writing project situation. Well, people, it’s harder for me than you think. I am genuinely trying to stick to the checklist I wrote last month (first priority: Mind Terrorist, second priority: short stories anthology, third priority: Fantasy project). But I have a new idea every day and writing it out is extremely enticing!

A lot of the time, I end up getting frustrating with my lack of an ability to concentrate (because I’m torn between two projects) and just mess around on Facebook or look for new blogs. The good news though, is that I wrote myself out of the predicament I was talking about yesterday in “Mind Terrorist”. The bad news is that I’m now suddenly also torn between writing another short story for my short story anthology and working on “Mind Terrorist”.

But what do you think? Do you think you can have too many ideas sometimes?

The Summer of Frustration: My Summer of Striving to Write Realistic Mental Illness, Professional first Translation Projects, and Getting Myself Interested in my own writing again

I feel like I’m stuck in a rut when it comes to my writing. I have to admit that I haven’t been able to move the plot line of Mind Terrorist forward because I just feel iffy about the scene I’m currently writing. In it, Lenore has wandered away from a bar and her friends and gotten herself lost in Prague. She gets picked up by the police in the city park and tries to evade arrest by running. (For those of you just passing by, I should mention that Lenore is no ordinary special flower. She’s just had a mental breakdown and is trekking through Europe intending to kill the man she believes is controlling her thoughts. Her friends know this and this is why the police were called.) I’m hesitant about finishing this scene, because afterwards I’m unsure where the story is going. I can’t decide if I want her to spend a night in jail or spend the night with her friends (who have become more pushy and less patient with her). It’s too early in the book for her to land in the hospital. I don’t want this to be a hospital novel, because I feel like the niche market for books about people struggling with mental illness is overpopulated by narrators in mental institutions and psych wards–I mean, that’s the most obvious place you’d look when you want to find people who are mentally ill. But the reality of the situation (and I’m more interested in my book being realistic and believable) is that the police would probably take her to the hospital, and the hospital would try to find a way to keep her since she is such an extreme danger to herself and others.

I’ve kind of switched gears this summer because of the frustration I’m having with the plot of Mind Terrorist. I’m finishing a translation project I started for a friend. My friend asked me to translate a few German language interviews with two bands we really like to English so that she could read the interview. I’m fortunate to be in contact with one of the interviewees, so if I have any uncertainties about his intended meaning of a statement or if I have trouble interpreting the mood of the conversation (the first and third parts are a round table discussion between three people), I can just run the question by him. Of course, I don’t want to irritate him–he is busy–but I am striving to translate it so that the original meaning and message of the articles are not lost. (That happens sometimes with more experienced translators, and since this is my first major translation project, I know I’m not a seasoned professional yet and I don’t want to mess it up!)

The other project I’ve switched gears to is a long-running fantasy project that I have no immediate plans to publish, but that I work on between major projects or when I’m feeling demotivated about my current project. This summer, I intend to hammer out one of the major details of my fantasy world: the fashion. Luckily, I found a doll designing template on http://www.dolldivine.com for the Showtime series, “The Tudors” that features gowns and clothing visually similar to what I envisioned for my fantasy series. Also, the template is not so strict that I have to make things exactly in the way that designers of that time period would have done them, it allows me to take various clothing details from the period and mix and match them into the kind of outfit I was envisioning. I feel like I’m wasting a lot of time doing this, but the clothing worn by my characters is a lot of the times important to the central plot. (For example, one of my female characters helps free another from the dungeons by switching clothes with her.) However, I need to minimize the amount of time I’m spending on Doll Divine making dolls, because I found myself spending the entire afternoon yesterday just making duplicate outfits for one of my characters for a certain part of the book when she is probably going to be in her nightgown about 70% of the time. I think my next mini-maintenance project for my fantasy novel will be sorting out my world’s religious practices and customs, because I’m finding this is another hole in my world that I can’t visualize through what I’ve already written.

So where do you think I should go with Mind Terrorist? I’d love to hear opinions from people in the comments, especially if they have any experience dealing with severely mentally ill people. My problem is that I don’t want the story to suddenly become unrealistic, but I also don’t want it to turn into a hospital novel. Confining Lenore to a hospital would halt the action of the story dead in its tracks.  But again, telling a realistic story is also very important to me!