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.

 

 

 

 

 

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I Wish I could be Traveling right now

I can’t travel right now though. I’m supposed to be staying in St. Louis at least until the end of May 2014. Hopefully, there are no sudden issues with my graduating in the spring. I just need to finish up my BA in German with a minor in English and a professional writing certificate, then I can go on to either an internship abroad or teaching English in Europe. I’m working on a blog about Czech beer for my Special Topics in Writing: Writing in the Professional World course. I figured if I am qualified to talk about anything in Czech Republic, I am most qualified to talk about its beer, since beer is cheaper than water there. (Although, I probably drank far more coffee, cappuccino, and espresso during my year in Brno than I did beer. . .another beverage that I miss and makes me feel nostalgic about my time there.) So here I am, sitting around avoiding biology homework and feeling nostalgic for Czech beer and sights.

You can check out the beer blog here.

At least, I am working on my book again. I keep thinking that it would be easier to work on my book in Czech Republic because I require Czech sources for it, since it is partially set in Czech Republic, and partially set in Austria. But when I took over the first 30 typed Word pages to work on in Brno, I found myself preferring to focus on short stories instead. (And then during winter holiday break while I was in Norway visiting friends, all I wanted to do was work on the rewrite of my on-going fantasy project–the first draft of that, I wrote during my exchange year in Austria 2010-2011.) I am such a fickle writer. I’ve tried getting my priorities straight, but my mind doesn’t seem to want to do that. I rebel against myself. I tell myself that I must work on Mind Terrorist and my mind says, “No.” Or, I tell myself that I must work on biology homework and my mind says, “No. I want to work on Mind Terrorist.”

Maybe if a miracle occurs, by the next blog update on my main blog I will have my priorities straight. But that’s highly unlikely. My boyfriend is visiting during holiday break, and I envision that I won’t be able to get on here and update (because I’m working on the Czech beer blog for a class this semester and the last post for that will be in December, and I am also going to be translating two new interviews for my metal in translation blog). But my boyfriend will be visiting here around that time from Czech Republic. Well, he should be. . .

The Kind of Dilemma that can only Arise from being Scatter-brained and unable to make a Decision

There’s a quote from Virginia Woolf that describes me very strongly:

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.” (from her diary on May 11th, 1920)

I’m in the doubt stage currently. I feel like if I could just get over my doubt of my current project and finish part II that I would go on writing parts III and IV smoothly and then the editing process could begin and I would finally have SOMETHING to show to publishers (that isn’t a teenager’s first attempt at figuring out how to construct a novel). But the more time I spend not focusing on my piece, the more my mind wanders and I begin to contemplate new projects. Also, I’m kind of risking damning myself anytime I attempt to write a short story. Thus far, half of my short story attempts in the past two years surpassed 12k words and could go even longer to form a novel. So I had to put the project on hold in favor of my current two projects.

This is what my workload looks like (concerning novels and compilations, I won’t even list the unfinished short stories sitting on/around/in my desk at the moment):

Mind Terrorist

Main Character/inspiration: Lenore, a voice of a character in my head who happened to be the loudest when it came time to write a short story for my Short Story writing course last spring.

Plot Synopsis: Lenore is an American expat living in Austria who is having a very serious breakdown. She is convinced that a specific man has found a way into her mind and found a way to control her thoughts and sexual desires and that he is seeing all of her thoughts. The problem is that she does not know who it is, and is suspicious of any man she comes across because even if they found a way to placate her and convince her that they are not the ones inside her mind, that this could just be another mind trick. Lenore, needing a holiday, is invited to spend the weekend partying with two musician friends in Prague and she accepts. But during the train ride through Austria to Prague, she realizes that perhaps it could be her friends who have been reaching into her thoughts.

Themes: Coping with sexual assault/rape, alcoholism, mental illness, mental illness and sexual trauma, travel, Central European culture and history

Status: I shopped this around in its original form as a short story. It was considered for 3 months to be printed by an American literary magazine, but in the end they declined it because they felt that the word count was too long to be a short story, and that the story needed to continue. When I turned it in to my teacher, she said basically the same thing. . .so here I am trying to finish this novel.

But doubt creeped in and I started a new project while I was dealing with writer’s block:

Short Story Compilation (“The Sea Monster’s Bride” and other Stories)

I found myself writing a lot about love and mental illness in the last six months, and aside from my novel, I’m beginning to move past this fixation. However, mental illness and love are and probably will always be recurring themes in my writing for personal reasons. This particular short story compilation has a focus on love within institutional settings between someone who society has deemed to be mentally ill and someone who isn’t but may be missing some important things. I would like to release it on smashwords, but I’d like to first get some of the stories published in literary magazines and therefore attract publicity and more public interest for the short story compilation in the first place.

Now, within this project I started writing a short story which takes place in a Victorian workhouse, and then later an asylum. The narrator has a romantic relationship with Satan (or she thinks she does) and this is why she is in an asylum. I’ve realized after rewriting it that this story could not be told in its entirety in just a short story, and that since she is in her late teens and I have the opportunity, I’d like to send her to a haunted finishing school in Scotland and extend her narrative into a book series. This is my Darling series, which I posted about earlier this week. Now, I have three projects going because I am still missing a short story since I’ve had to pull Darling from the compilation. Mind Terrorist only has 15,000 words, and I want it to at least have 30k. But these are just the projects I’ve started fairly recently.

During my time on Mibba two years ago, I completed an internet fantasy serial story. My readers on Mibba really liked it and I have been asked to expand each weekly section into a full chapter. I’ve been doing that since 2011, and have ended up splitting the book in half so that now there are two books–both from different points-of-view. The story line is done. The rough draft is written. I am just editing this now and going back and rewriting some passages so that they connect more smoothly and there are less plotholes. I even have an idea for the sequel to each of the points-of-view, a book that combines both by making one of my narrators have a bigger part in the life of the character who shall be narrating. But it’s a fantasy project: imaginary world, intricate religious and cultural beliefs, and a political system, and all. My senior year of college is not a good time to embark on such an endeavor. Though, I will admit that when I’m frustrated with Lenore and writing short stories and queries to literary magazines, I find myself editing my fantasy novel, designing costumes for my main characters, and even writing new scenes. This is a particularly bad habit for me, because it’s taking away from me time that I would be spending working on my projects that I’d like to get done before the end of 2014, when I’ve told myself that this fantasy novel could not reasonably be finished at least until 2016 if I put all my free time into it, and should just focus on one thing at a time.

But no, I don’t listen to myself. I’m too scatter-brained to listen to myself. There are too many voices inside of my mind for me to listen to, and as a result I’m having trouble picking which one I’m going to listen to when it comes to my writing projects.

 

How to Stay Creative and Passionate about your Writing despite Rejection or a Sudden Onset of Writer’s Block

I am by no means at the professional level at this point, but I do get a lot of compliments on how professionally written and well organized my short stories and writing is when I turn something in. I am a perfectionist, first of all. I don’t just wait until the end of a piece to edit, I edit as I go along in the rough draft. (Generally, I would advise against doing that though–especially if you are in a creative slump–because sometimes, I damn myself in the creative process by being too choosy with my words and thus causing myself to lose a thought that could have been literary “gold”.) My only critique of myself is that I wish I could I write more freely–you know–without holding back so much. But that is easier said than done for me, especially now, because I am writing a piece on self-editing. Anyway, now that the bad things are out of the way, I will explain to you what I think the good qualities of my self-editing and general writing technique are, and suggest (but don’t insist) that if you are having troubles organizing your writing or having your writing understood by your readers, that you try these suggestions.

(I will mention that I am extremely scatter-brained, so I keep track of this process by envisioning it in the form of a check list, so I will also share my process here in the form of a check list.)

The point within the piece I  would be at when I’d break out this list would be right after writing the last sentence of my rough draft. Generally, I tend to write my rough draft with pen on paper  in a bound journal or on loose-leaf notebook paper. (Journals are my favorite options, because they are portable and there’s no risk of losing pages, so if I am sitting in the cafe waiting for my boyfriend or a friend to meet me for coffee and I have an urge to write something then I can just take my journal out and get some work done on a story while I wait.)

1.) Shut the notebook or set aside the stack of papers and do something else that isn’t writing or writing-related for at least 20 minutes to an hour. Chances are, I’ve just spent 3 or so hours writing this story out–intensely debating whether or not to include a sentence, scratching boring words out and replacing them with better words, and pausing to re-read the paragraph or scene I’ve just written and deciding to add some more details to that scene in the liner notes. Constructing a mere rough draft for me is as intense as editing the final draft, if not more intense at times when I am unsure about where the direction of the story should go because I am writing based on a character’s voice which has been haunting me at random times of the day when I should be doing something else other than writing. After 3 hours of this vigorous self-doubt and creative process, I need a bit of a break before I come back to the project. I also like to clear my mind and approach it from a less hostile point-of-view when it comes time to re-write and turn the story into something publishable. Sometimes, I even wait a day or two before I return to the writing out of a lack of free time or just my not feeling the piece at the moment.

2.) Re-read, re-read, and re-read some more. I would suggest re-reading it 2 or 3 times. However, I sometimes end up re-reading a rough draft about 10-12 times and finding myself staring for large amounts of time at a particular scene that either bothers me or strikes me as the possible focal point of my story.

Concerning the scene that bothers you, you may be tempted to take it out. DON’T DO THAT. Don’t be too hasty. Let it stay there for a while, at least until the 2nd or 3rd re-write–and if you still don’t like it then, take it out of the document and put it aside for later. On one of those rainy days when you have the day off and feel like writing but have no ideas, you could always flip through some of these rejected scenes and find a way to re-work it into a new short story. I say, let a potentially unnecessary scene stick around in case you happen to find a way to re-work it and make it work better with your story. About 8 out of 10 times, I’ve found a way how to re-work a scene that was bothering me so that it actually added something to the story instead of being either redundant or irrelevant, and there have been very few occasions when I’ve had to completely scrap an unused scene or story fragment. Typically, they get turned into something different and better on one of those rainy days.

Concerning the scene that sticks out to you, I’d like you to take a special interest in that scene now, and keep it in mind when you start re-writing, particularly if you are writing a story that is intended to have a central theme. The subject matter or action of that scene just may be the theme you are looking for.

3.) Find your computer and open up a new word processing document. Start typing what you’ve just written, keeping a careful eye on what exactly you have written in your notebook/journal. Now would be a good time to work out where your liner notes and “carrots” should go in the story. This step would also be a good time to decide between the two adjectives you’ve written down to describe the hair of the woman who has entered the cafe and will end up being trouble for the narrator and other such sentences involving adjectives and descriptions.

4.) At this point, you should have a full story with a beginning, middle, and end typed in a word document. Hopefully, you were able to do this before the day ended. If not, well don’t fret. Typically, it takes me two or three sessions at the computer to type out my 1st formal draft. (Note: I consider a rough draft to be Draft 0, so the first draft to me would actually be the typed version of the rough draft including your liner notes and after-thoughts.) Now, this fourth step has a few micro-steps within it, so I will list the micro-steps individually. But they are all a part of the 4th check on my check list.

  • Re-read what you typed either earlier that day, the day before, week before, or however long you’ve waited between the 3rd and 4th steps. Never under-estimate the necessity to re-read your work multiple times. Your eyes and your brain do not always work perfectly in sync together every time you read something, and you may have missed a typo or a place where you accidentally hit the space bar twice or something. (Also, our brains tend to do a nifty thing where it will just fill in the missing letter of a word we may have mistyped subconsciously, without us even realizing that it did so.)
  • Try moving some sentences around if you find yourself confused or unsatisfied with the narrative of your story.  It could be that your second sentence might make an even better beginning sentence to your story.
  • Remove words, which don’t affect the meaning of the statement ,  that you see too much in the story (like “but”, “however”, “just”, “likely”, to name a few “problem” words I often come across when peer-editing other people’s work in writing workshops and writing courses). There are other better and more interesting words out there. Broaden your narration palette.
  • Look out for dangling modifiers and misleading use of pronouns! Sure, that particular description about a tussle between a Hungarian countess, two Austrian Ladies, and all of the Countess’ chamber maids may have made complete sense to you, because you can see it in your head. You dreamed it that Saturday night of the hiking trip to Čachtice where you envisioned such a situation taking place. But the description of the incident may involve the usage of far too many pronouns or far too many proper nouns. In cases like this, where you are looking for a perfect balance between pronouns and proper noun usage while at the same making sure that the description makes sense to your readers, it is a good thing to re-read and re-read and re-read, and maybe even send that section to a beta reader or two. In the writing workshops and peer-editing sessions I’ve participated, I nearly always encounter a draft that contains confusing pronoun usage in a complex scenario. It’s just something I would say definitely look out for, particularly if you are writing something with a lot of action.

5.) Final Re-read (at least, until I receive a response from a literary magazine 6 months later letting me know as a courtesy that it was rejected because it just wasn’t a “good enough fit” for the magazine): at this point, I will re-read what I’ve corrected and maybe continue to change some words around. A work is never really “perfect” or finished for me. I need to just stop myself at some point and force myself to move onto another project, because I have literally re-written a few narratives and short stories about 20 or so times. This happens to my stories that I have put in a massive amount of time, effort, and passion, and they have been rejected by numerous literary magazines. I would like to think that I’m getting better at rejection, but I feel like rejection is just making me more obsessive about my revision process.