Welcome! I just returned from beautiful Door County, WI. After four days on the beach and watching beautiful sunsets over Green Bay, I’m not quite ready to be back in the world of rising COVID cases. But here I am, and onward I go.
I want to take this opportunity to highlight the journals that have published my work so far this year. Not just because they have published my stories, giving them a place in the wider world, but because they are journals with enthusiastic, dedicated, editors.
The hardest pill to swallow about any art form is that it is judged subjectively. Having been a professional dancer, I have felt the sting of that judgement since the age of 9. Perhaps, that is why I can look at the subjective judgement of those who are in a position to accept or reject my performance in the past and my stories in the present, objectively.
We all have personal tastes. On one hand, it is that simple. So, when faced with a rejection, as long as I’m confident my best effort was in play, I can allow that the reader simply didn’t like my story. I have read stories that I didn’t like, and it had nothing to do with the merit of the writing or the fact that many others thought it was the best thing they had ever read.
My current editing role at New Flash Fiction Review is different in three ways from the one I had at Bending Genres.
First, I’m a fiction editor at NFFR and I was a CNF reader at Bending Genres. I’m delighted that I have read both, but I have to admit I bend towards fiction.
Second, Bending Genres is always open for subs; therefore, the editors are always reading. Well, as long as there is something in the queue. And, trust me, at Bending Genres, there are always subs in the queue. NFFR has periods of open submissions. While this comes with several days of intense reading, it also gives the editor breaks throughout the year.
Third, NFFR holds an annual contest. (Contest issue is now live. Click here to read the winners and complete shortlist.) This summer was my first time ever reading for a contest. It was so exciting to be a part of selecting the shortlist that was sent off to our judge Tara Isabel Zambrano. I reached out to Tara, (fiction editor at Waxwing Mag.) and asked her to share her thoughts on judging contests. Here’s what she had to say.
Judging contests for me, is a lesson in reading and rereading, an introduction to new writers or writers I didn’t know about (after the results are announced because all the contests I’ve judged so far, have been blind) and an opportunity to connect and observe. It’s an honor, a responsibility not just to showcase the best work but also to be inspired from it.
Following are the journals who so kindly published my fiction, cnf, and poetry in the first seven months of 2021. I have reached out to the EICs or managing editors of these journals and asked them to comment on why they began their journal and the editorial process. Here are links to my stories, and subsequently the journals, along with the editors’ comments who were able to respond in the very short window I provided.
“Spaghetti Lives, Eldon, IA 1976”, Sledgehammer Lit, July 2021
I love Sledgehammer, and am honored to say I’ve had a CNF “How to Hew a Family” and this “Spaghetti Lives, Eldon, IA 1976” my first ever poem both appear in Sledgehammer. Next month, I’m featuring J. Archer Avary, founder of Sledgehammer for my In Conversation… interview. Be sure to tune in. Much will be discussed.
“Melting Ice” Bending Genres, June 2021
Bending Genres will always be special to me. My first published piece appeared in BG in December of 2019. That piece was selected for their anthology published in spring of 2020, and I was a CNF reader there for most of 2020. I contacted EIC Robert Vaughan and here’s what he had to say about the beginnings of BG and where it is today.
Bending Genres rose, like the Phoenix from the flames, in 2018, beginning with an online journal, and developing a rapid-fire educational branch. Since then, we have become:
22 Published Bending Genres Journal Issues with 10 editors and 3 tech support; inc. publishing our first BG Anthology (2019)
36 Bending Genres Weekend Workshops (various different topics/ teachers)
6 Bending Genres Retreats (two per year, except 2020)
24 Bending Genres Online RT Monthly courses
Grateful to everyone who has contributed, and been a part of our journey.
“Whose Nightmare Is This?” Rejection Letters, June 11, 2021
This is the riskiest piece I’ve submitted thus far. I’m very grateful to Rejection Letters for taking a chance on it, unwittingly publishing it on my birthday, and for my best acceptance letter yet. It simply read. “Fuck, dude. This got me. Accepted.” I asked founding editor D. T. Robbins how Rejection Letters began. Here’s what he had to say.
I keep doing it because it’s fun. I enjoy seeing good shit get out into the world. It’s rad that people care about it now, that it’s become its own thing with its own energy. I’d like to take all the credit for that but I think the true credit goes to the other editors — Kevin, Charlotee, Jaya, Danielle, M.M., and Lindsay.
“A Paranormal Dialogue” Janus Literary, June 2021
“A Paranormal Dialogue” was first shortlisted in Fractured Lit’s micro fiction contest 2020. I was thrilled when Janus Literary picked up this little thriller. EIC Janice Leagra had this to say about Janus Literary’s journey.
Janus Literary, as an online magazine, happened by accident. I originally only intended for it to be an annual or biannual themed anthology competition. I had purely selfish intentions: I wanted to see more of the stories that I like out in the world. There was much surprising support and excitement in the Twitter writing community surrounding the inaugural sea-themed anthology. I attribute much of that to my stellar editorial team, who are a group of experienced, well-talented, and respected writers. I think people were eager and happy to send us their work because they knew these writers would take great care with their words. After the success of the first anthology, I decided to turn Janus Literary into a full-fledged online literary magazine. So here we are. This is a passion project for me. I’m a late-blooming writer from a working class background. I and my team are motivated to feature emerging voices of all ages and backgrounds. We like stories that feature attention to craft and that may embrace risk-taking and experimentation and a blending of story-telling media, including pictures and audio. Stories with a cross-cultural focus are very interesting to us. We are also open to genre writing told from a slant. Take that well-crafted risk, be it fiction, cnf, or poetry, and send us your work.
“How to Hew a Family” Sledgehammer Lit, May 11, 2021
“My Mother’s Home” talking about strawberries all of the time, April 6, 2021
talking about strawberries all of the time is a beautiful Canadian based journal, and one that I’m happy to say I have been published in. Its founder, Malcolm Curtis, was a delight to work with. If you haven’t seen this journal, or submitted to it, be sure to give it a looksee. I think you’ll like what you find.
“What Blooms” New Flash Fiction Review, April 2021
NFFR is where my second published piece “Pigs Die” appeared, and where I received my first nomination for Best Microfictions 2020. I found myself drawn to the aesthetic of NFFR, and connected with fellow Iowans on the staff. I enjoy being a part of the editorial team at NFFR under managing editor Al Kratz. I asked Al to give me a some insight into his role at NFFR and here is what he said.
I like being the Managing Editor at New Flash Fiction Review because I believe in continuing Meg Pokrass’ vision of supporting flash fiction and trying to find the things that can make it new. There’s not a huge difference for me in Managing Editor vs. Editor because we have a great team of collaborating editors with fairly similar visions. As ME, I get to guide some of the close decisions on those things that generally come down to personal preferences. We always have a lot of different things we could do, but I get to pick which ones I’m excited about spending our limited resource of time on.
“The Ins and Outs” The Daily Drunk Magazine, February 20, 2021
I was doing my happy dance when, pulsing with cyber-energy, The Daily Drunk accepted this story. Here’s what EIC Shawn Berman had to say about the founding of The Daily Drunk.
I started The Daily Drunk last march. I needed something to keep my mind off of everything happening at the time. I noticed there was a lack of online spaces for people to share their fun/pop-culture writing. I never thought DD would take off like it did. I’m super glad people have resonated with the magazine. What keeps me going is knowing that DD can keep growing! We are doing print anthologies/books, launching podcasts, and expanding our staff soon. I’m trying to keep the place as fun and inclusive as possible.
“A Great Blue” Small Gratitudes, jmww literary, January 19, 2021.
If you haven’t read Small Gratitudes at jmww, you should. It’s soul food.
Featured Story by a young writer.
Last fall I was asked to guest lecture for an upper level lit class at an area college. In closing the class, I offered the students the opportunity to submit to my blog and have a flash or cnf published on The Burning Hearth. The first of three students’ pieces appears below. It is a creative non-fiction titled “An Absence of Tears” and was written by Nicole Tessmer. Nicole and I worked together on her piece for months, and what appears here is Nicole’s fourth rewrite. While I have suggested that she put it aside and revisit it again when she is older with more life behind her, I’m amazed at the distance between where her story began and where it is today. Kudos to Nicole for taking herself and her writing to unknown places.
Nicole Tessmer is a junior at Wisconsin Lutheran College. She is double majoring in English with a writing emphasis and Communication. Check out her poetry account on Instagram, sun.flowerstories, to read more of her writing.
I hope you have enjoyed this month’s The Burning Hearth. Rereading it, I’m so grateful to all those editors out there who selected my work for their journals and lit. mags. It has already been a very successful year for me and I can’t thank all those who have supported me enough. This fall I will be woodshedding to do concentrated work on a novel, and hopefully some related flash pieces that will be part of a novel as well.
In just a couple of days time, I hope you will stop back to view my In Conversation Interview with Karen Jones. Karen, a fellow editor at NFFR, and I will be talking about editing and her writing. Until then, stay safe and well.