PUBLISHING


by Jim Harrington

jimharrington2

Markets added

Editor Interview Added

Contest added

View the complete markets list here.
View the complete resources page here.

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Jim Harrington began writing fiction in 2007 and has agonized over the form ever since. His stories have appeared in Every Day Fiction, Liquid Imagination, Ink Sweat and Tears, Near to the Knuckle, Flashes in the Dark, and others. He serves as the Managing Editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles. Jim’s Six Questions For . . . blog provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” You can read more of his stories at http://jpharrington.blogspot.com.

by Christopher Bowen

Christopher Bowen

I was first introduced to the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography’s publishing when I downloaded a free pdf of a book by Chicago local, Ben Tanzer. It was a book based on his thoughts while jogging.

Years later, I found myself part of a reading in Chicago through Curbside Splendor, where I met Ben, had coffee, and discussed CCLaP and Jason Pettus.

 

CCLaP

The design work in CCLaP’s books is phenomenal. And their website boasts multiple free pdfs of titles—something I had tried as a chapbook publisher, but executed here very well just by the sheer numbers in their line. I believe this is not only extremely innovative, but an important note to the literary community.

When I returned to Cleveland, I wrote Jason and requested an ARC pdf of one of their most recent titles, Four Sparks Fall, by T.A. Noonan.

foursparksfallcover400

A novella of a coming-of-age story between two teenage twin girls, Four Sparks Fall will catch you off-guard. As one of the sisters reconciles her friendship with her twin while preparing to leave for an acclaimed prep school, the story is told from the two perspectives of one leaving, of one behind. It’s difficult at first to decipher their individual voices this way (as one’s thoughts are in italics, the other’s grounded in unitalicized paragraphs) but as twins doesn’t this make sense?

The story goes and the pages turn, you see these two distinct young women for who they are, who they were to each other, and for what they may become from “the biggest small town in the world,” Baton Rouge.

T.A. introduces us to a slew of mutual friends: the boy who comes between the twin sisters, the parting gifts these two girls leave for each other  in reconciliation, hope for the future, a new diary.

What I found really entrancing about this novella was its seriousness about adult issues given to teenagers. They ‘inherit’ the problems of their Baton Rouge adults and parents. How do we escape our past? How do we reconcile for the future, even with the things we are born into? Part dark, young adult literature, part smart, literary process, Four Sparks Fall is just that. It’s about sparks that have fallen, the lost optimism and innocence of youth, and the story of twins, Geminis, meant for distant, distinct places in our universe.

If you get the chance, I would definitely meander over to the CCLaP website and browse their catalog. Find this book, download it (it’s free) and enjoy. Chicago has a lot to offer the literary world.

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Christopher Bowen is an Ohio author and culinary chef. His recently-released personal fiction chapbook, We Were Giants, is available from the publisher, Sunnyoutside Press. He blogs at burningriver.info.

By Andree Robinson-Neal

Andree Robinson-Neal

Back in January, Bonnie ZoBell interviewed Pure Slush founding editor Matt Potter and because FFC readers were interested in learning more about him and the Pure Slush chapbooks and authors, your intrepid FFC staffers grabbed Matt and threw a few more questions at him. Also, a number of his authors from the Year in Stories series came along for the ride.

First off, let’s hear from Matt:

So Matt, what was the seed for the idea of the Year in Stories project?

I was reflecting on my wish to have Pure Slush publish a book a month in 2013, and realizing very early in the year that this was not going to happen. I first thought one story a day, 365 writers … and then thought, no. But 31 writers each taking the same day of the month, allows writers to develop longer stories across a wider arc. And it snowballed very quickly from there, and the next day, I think, I sent emails asking writers to be involved.

We are now about halfway through the project; has it gone as you envisioned?

As of April, there were 92 stories yet to be submitted and signed off, so while 2014 June Vol. 6 was released in early April, 273 of the 365 stories have been written and accepted. Parts have been more difficult – writers saying “Hey, I need to change something in a story I submitted some time ago” – while other parts have been easier. Five of the 31 writers have finished all their stories, with a few not far behind. Some however, are still only half way through writing all their stories. How best to approach these writers and hurry them along is individual, and a challenge. Sometimes it feels a little like I’m cracking a whip.

Have there been any surprises?

The biggest surprise is the unprompted diversity in stories and styles. Each story cycle really is different from all the others. If I was to do this again (and I’m not) I would start even earlier, 10 months earlier rather than seven months earlier.

What hints (topic ideas, voice, etc.) can you give the readers (and perhaps those who would like to contribute their writing) to your next project?

Come prepared to work on your stories. If a requirement is that the stories be written in the present tense, then write them in the present tense! Keep to deadlines and communicate with the editor. Once the twelve 2014 volumes are complete, I will be returning to 2 smaller projects I have put on hold for much of the last year.

There are plans for something new online in 2015, and another large print project in 2016 … so stay tuned. And in the meantime, Pure Slush is still accepting submissions for online publication in 2014. The theme is travel, and you can find details here: http://pureslush.webs.com/themessubmissions.htm#831675008

The Year in Stories would not have been possible if it weren’t for the authors who, well, wrote stories. We asked a few questions and here are the thoughtful responses from some of this year’s writers:

Why did you want to be a part of this project?

Mandy Nichol: First off it’s a terrific concept, and Matt is fabulous to work with. I usually write very short stories, so to continue to write about the same characters, to get to know them more than I usually would, seemed like a great way to push beyond my normal. I’ve always played it pretty safe and felt it was time to have a peep over the parapet. Now there’s no way I’m jumping out of an aeroplane but with this project I thought hey, this could be my leap into the blue yonder.

Shane Simmons: Quite simply, I noticed the initial posting on the Pure Slush Facebook page, which outlined the idea for the project and was calling for participants. My first thought was “I love this idea!” My second thought was that it seemed ridiculously ambitious! A single person (Matt Potter of Pure Slush) collating and editing THREE HUNDRED AND SIXTY FIVE STORIES himself (!) but the opportunity to get involved alongside thirty other creative minds, all working on this mammoth project was the huge attraction.

What’s been the toughest challenge?

Vanessa ParisFor me, the toughest challenge has been maintaining the narrative while ensuring each individual story can stand alone. It’s harder than I expected, because each time I start a new month, I have to think, “Okay, what do I have to make sure is included – or at least implied – or risk losing the reader?” Sometimes it’s easy stuff, like making it clear that two characters are in a romantic relationship, but other details are more subtle. In those cases, not only does it have to be conveyed again, you have to find a new way to do it so it doesn’t get redundant over the course of months. Also, there were points where I wished I could go back and tweak a detail or two from previous months, so it would work better with the month I was working on, but that wasn’t possible.

Jessica McHugh: I’ve encountered a handful of challenges along the way, but I think I’m experiencing the toughest right now, at the end. I’ve written the last two stories in my serial, but I haven’t revised them yet, partly because I don’t want to let go. Unlike most short stories, the serial allowed me to spend as much time with my main character, Edward McKenzie, as I do with novel characters. I know him. I care about him. Edward was plucked from a failed piece I wrote when I was nineteen, and after so many revisions that still led to rejections, I thought I might never have the chance to introduce him to the public. But thanks to 2014: A Year in Stories, he’s experienced more than ‘a day in the sun.’ It gave me the opportunity to explore his personality so much more, and I’m incredibly grateful for that. It going to be tough saying goodbye.

Was there a point where you thought “I must be crazy for agreeing to do this?”

Michael Webb: Towards the end of the project, it got more difficult to come up with events for each story that were plausible and compelling in and of themselves while still furthering the overall yearlong growth of the characters. It was like playing chess against multiple opponents at once.

What, if any, affect has this project had on your writing?

John Wentworth Chapin: I thought this would be a side project. It’s not. It’s a tremendous project, and it has swelled like a gas to fill its container: 2014. I am excited to see where it ends up. Moral of the story: be prepared.

Lynn Beighley: I’m more of a short story writer than a novelist, and while these are essentially connected short stories, there is a feel of the novel about them. I’m learning.

What was the best piece of advice you received from Matt about your work through this project?

Gill Hoffs: I wish I could remember – to be honest, I usually absorb what Matt says so it’s hard to bear particular comments in mind.  When I first worked with him he sent me a lengthy email full of tips and advice which I printed off, highlighted, and taped inside my workbook.  I used to tell Matt working with him was like a mini-MFA!

But wait! There’s more!

Each writer answered all of these probing questions; Matt will be posting the full interviews soon so keep an eye on Pure Slush and his blog for details.

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Andreé Robinson-Neal got bit by the writing bug back in the late 1970s while watching Rod Serling and reading Ray Bradbury–both of whom are everyday inspirations; although she has worked in education for more than a quarter-century, she has never been cured of her penchant for speculative fiction. Find some of her flash fiction at starvingartist.com. She writes under the name AR Neal, who will hopefully one day be identified as a famous NaNoWriMo participant.

 

by Jim Harrington

jimharrington2

Added Markets

New Contests

View the complete markets list here.
View the complete resources page here.

______________________

Jim Harrington began writing fiction in 2007 and has agonized over the form ever since. His stories have appeared in Every Day Fiction, Liquid Imagination, Ink Sweat and Tears, Near to the Knuckle, Flashes in the Dark, and others. He serves as the Managing Editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles. Jim’s Six Questions For . . . blog provides editors and publishers a place to “tell it like it is.” You can read more of his stories at http://jpharrington.blogspot.com.

 

submittable-logo-02

I recently sat down with Michael Fitzgerald of Submittable to talk about the service and business, alongside his personal writing. While it’s been a long path for the company, I believe there are key insights in the interview and Michael’s path to help entrepreneurs and artists alike.

MF

Christopher Bowen: Thanks for giving me some of your time, Michael.  For those not aware of it, could you give a brief history of Submittable over the last five or so years?

Michael Fitzgerald: Thanks, Chris. I appreciate your interest.

History: My partners, Bruce and John, and I were friends through our day jobs as software developers. In 2008, Bruce and I were bored and thought starting a company together would help. (We had previously worked on a film together about people who climb mountains with letters on them.) So we went out to lunch one day and made a list of things that we thought sucked. One of them was the various ways you send out work. We didn’t know exactly how to fix it, but we came up with the name “Submishmash” because we thought it described the crappiness of the existing process, and we started writing code that afternoon.

We went in the wrong direction for about a year.

During this time, our friend John joined us. He’s a musician and an incredible developer. By early 2010, we had the first version of Submittable (then still  Submishmash). It started to get some traction with literary and academic publishers. Then we just kept working and working (we didn’t really pay ourselves until 2012) and added video and audio transcoding, worked to make the UI better and better. We added the ability to share among multiple people and multi-file usage which is great for poetry. We basically just asked the people using it how to make it better and did whatever they told us.

Also, in 2012,  we applied and were accepted into arguably the most elite start-up accelerator, YCombinator. It was an amazing experience. YCombinator helped launch Dropbox, Airbnb, and a few other billion-dollar companies. They really got us to focus and grow up a little as a company. Before that it was all pretty much by the seat of our pants. No one was being paid and the company was always inches away from combustion. We’re on a much more solid foundation now. We have an office and 10 employees.

CB: You’re a writer yourself. How did this concept develop for you and how do you handle or separate your life as an author from that as a ‘techie’ or business owner?

MF: I don’t really separate my life as an author or developer or business owner. In the beginning, I used to try to turn things on and off, but slowly it became apparent all these things are more or less the same process. You’re making things that didn’t exist. You’re trying to get strangers to spend time with your thing and hopefully pay you so you can keep the thing going. You’re living without any kind of safety net. It’s all the same process.

 I remember when I finished my first novel, Radiant Days, I was completely exhilarated for the first few days, but then it began to dawn on me that no one actually asked me to write it. This was a sort of blunt and obvious thing that just wasn’t crystal clear until I had the 400 or so pages in my hand and the words “The End” typed on the last page.

I’ve also since realized that the best business minds are similar to artists. Most truly successful business people are total freaks. Before starting Submittable, I assumed “business” meant playing around in Excel sheets and honing insincere marketing slogans. I assumed I needed an MBA to start a company, but it’s a little known secret in Silicon Valley that MBAs actually suck at starting companies. They’re good at working within large companies, they’re good with asking bullshit questions that make you feel like they know something you don’t, but ultimately they are horrible at making something out of nothing. Starting a company is a weird, personal, and organic process. You’re doing it with no money, no support, no marketing budget. It’s just you and your friends in your basement desperately trying to get a stranger to give you a dollar for this weird thing you may have spent years working on. You have to be constantly resourceful. You have to thrive on rejection. You have to be, not just comfortable, but enthusiastically working in the face of almost certain failure.

Incidentally, the most successful artists generally have a bit of business savvy.

Also, after trying both, I’m finding both art and start-ups are horrible ways to make money.

Regarding the “idea”: I knew as a writer (and previously an editor at Cutbank and having started a magazine in college) that the existing process sucked a little and that as electronic communication became ubiquitous, the problem was going to get bigger and bigger. Also, any developer understood that cloud computing was going to make processes like this less and less expensive.

CB: Where do you see Submittable headed to in the future?

MF: With Submittable, we’re going to keep adding new features while desperately trying to keep the UI simple and hopefully beautiful.

But the biggest thing on the horizon is Submishmash… an intergalactic creative content marketplace that will allow creators to sell anything they make.

CB: Where do you see your writing headed?

MF: I’ve continued to publish fiction and non-fiction here and there, but my big project is a non-fiction book called Startdown. It’s mostly about the process of starting a company in the middle of nowhere. (We live in Montana.) The nuts and bolts: how to create a life that lets you work on something for 2-3 years without going bankrupt, how and when to raise capital, how to hire (and fire) people in a small town where everyone knows each other. How and when to get an office. The aim of the book is to show people how to do it outside existing tech and financial hubs like Silicon Valley or New York.

Also, I’ve found a new appreciation for “writing” in the process of building Submittable. Writing well is so undervalued in our world, oddly enough, especially by writers. I think there’s a huge opportunity to infuse art into what we traditionally call the “business world.” “Content marketing” has become kind of a bullshitty buzzword. The vision isn’t to have poets doing marketing as much as to make businesses understand that eclectic and interesting writing has a huge value to them. Businesses can gain so much from demonstrating personality. An example would be to have a poet or novelist on staff at a shoe company, but not to write a blog post about the company’s innovative new lacing system, but about some general and interesting story like the history of the high heel.

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Bowen

Christopher Bowen is an Ohio author and culinary chef. His recently-released personal fiction chapbook, We Were Giants, is available from the publisher, Sunnyoutside Press. He blogs at burningriver.info.

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