by RK Biswas

Pamela Painter, the adjudicator of the 9th Rose Metal Press Short Short Chapbook Contest, in her
introduction to the prize-winning book, says: “Rosie Forrest’s
Ghost Box Evolution in Cadillac, Michigan evokes a startling, often dark, self-contained world. And each intriguing title sets a new tale into motion, unspooling with a mysterious languid intensity.”

Two points of note here, which immediately give an insight into the chapbook. First, “self-Ghost Boxcontained world,” and second, “intriguing title.” Rosie Forrest’s tightly woven stories are independent microcosms that begin to move from the story titles themselves. Taken as a whole they resemble polished spheres in the firmament. When you draw back, after scrutinizing each (and each story calls for close attention), you can see a larger pattern. Much like an astronomer’s figure of constellations. Or a child’s join-the-dots activity book. The latter comes to mind, because the protagonists of each tale are children and adolescents.

In the first story, Bless This Home, “something is forbidden,” and therefore “the four winds conspire like a pack of wolves.” A young girl at odds with her mother and her mother’s lover defies rules set down (by her mother) both for her and the tenant. But is she really being defiant or is her behavior an imitative response? And who does she really want to share her “brokenness” with?

In the second, the title story in the chapbook, a disquieting scene unfolds where innocence is supposed to run free. Three boys claim three abandoned box stores, creating rules about play, about use of play-space. This “space exceeded them, billowing against cinder blocks. It was hollow inside and this hollowness dwarfed their ruddy boyhood…” Space they create with their boyish imaginations, but end up diminishing their childhood.

The third story, Moonbone, is about siblings, Forrest’s own Hansel and Gretel, except that in hers, it is the girl who tries to show her angry older brother the way. A tender story of two lost children (lost, because of who and also what they have lost), and a grim, but benign mother (as against the evil stepmother of the fairytale) and the woods. Something shines, though, not a white pebble or stone, but a “moon bone,” something they must “never let go.”

In Where We Off To, Lulu Bee? A rather ridiculous scene unfolds around a mother with an age-wise inappropriate gift for her daughter. Except for one thing, the underlying pathos, which bring forth a wince; not a smile. The fifth story We’ll Go No More A Rowing has two friends from two distinctly dysfunctional families hiding away in an abandoned Church, with sinister possibilities.

Unmoored is one of the longer stories with a longer narrative arc. It’s a heartbreaking story, because the protagonist, a little boy, doesn’t know what the reader understands straightaway. The child tries to make sense, create new relationships, but in that still boat, he “feels naked, like a thrift store trinket on display.” Paper /Boy is an unusual story, more for its format than style.  On the surface a boy has written a note to a girl he likes. But the paper knows more about his actual thoughts than she will ever know, and like a mischievous ally lets us have a peak. What Happened On Wednesdays (As Told By Someone Who Probably wasn’t There) is a story about a game, a ghastly game, so cruelly adult that only the wild imaginations of children could think it up and make the rules. The sinister element begins from the title itself and doesn’t let go even after the story is told.

Gun Moll appears to be a make believe game carried over from Halloween, but its effects last far longer than normal. The Field, A Religion is a poignantly beautiful history of two families, one usurped from its home and the other not quite the usurper. Taps is about three adolescents in the snow, in the cold, on the shore of a frozen lake, but three is a crowd. Possum Kingdom is a story of two young girls who are sent to spend a summer with a distant relative and his wife, a couple living in impecunious circumstances, and how they cope with their disappointment. The last story He Showed Us a Road, is a touching, and yet also almost brutal picture of escape. It is at once every child’s nightmare and dream. One cannot help but wonder if our own parents too “had held opposite ends of a rope, and moved about…ensuring a taut line.”

The sentences in this collection are sharp. Chiseled to impale poems. There are recurring motifs and images, like lake and grass, road, and children left to fend for themselves, find their way through or back, which form a subliminal link between stories. One can read a story and then sit down with it and contemplate, at times returning to retrieve a meaning not observed at first. Like poetry, these prose pieces unfurl layer by layer. Projecting pictures in the air between eye and book. The pictures are not always clear. Often I felt the need to peer closely, and came away frustrated. There is an elusive quality to many of the stories, adding to their already weighty mystery. This is not a chapbook one can or should run through. The stories demand keen readers; those who are willing to give back to the narratives, sift them in their heads and make something new of the characters and the situations. And finally I am left with a quiet breathless feeling, as if I have been there and come back with the burrs of certain truths clinging on to me.

*          *          *


RK Biswas’s novel Culling Mynahs and Crows was published by Lifi Publications, India in January 2014. Authorspress, India published her short story collection—Breasts and Other Afflictions of Women—in December. Another story collection from Lifi Publications, New Delhi is due out in mid 2015. Biswas’s short fiction and poetry have been published in journals and anthologies, both in print and online, all over the world. Her poem Cleavage was long listed in the Bridport Poetry Prize in 2006 and also was a finalist in the Aesthetica Contest in 2010. In 2007, her storyAhalya’s Valhalla was among Story South’s notable stories of the net. Her poem Bones was a Pushcart Nominee from Cha: An Asian Literary Journal in 2010. In 2012 she won first prize in the Anam Cara Writer’s Retreat Short Story Contest. She blogs at

by Lori Sambol Brody


Your cell phone chirps to alert you of an incoming email.  Will it be an Evite from a friend, a notification from Netflix, or a response from a literary journal you’ve submitted to?  Upon checking your inbox, you see an e-mail “Lit Journal X re: [Lit Journal X] My Fabulous Story.”  Your heart beats double-time, your stomach feels like it’s full of fluttering birds. 

And then you open the email.

You reread it.

Congratulations!  Lit Journal X wants to publish your story!

After celebrating with chocolate, champagne, or 50 year old whiskey, what do you do next?  I’ve put together a checklist to ensure I thank Lit Journal X, notify other publications to which I’ve submitted my story, and, upon publication, market the story.

Before the Story Is Published

  • Send a thank you note to Lit Journal X, addressing it to the editor who sent the acceptance, expressing how excited you are about seeing “My Fabulous Story” in that journal.  Because of course you are.  You wouldn’t have sent it to that journal if you wouldn’t be excited.  Sometimes the editor will need you to confirm that your piece is still available, that you agree with the intellectual property rights you are giving them, and provide a biography.  Timely provide that information to the editor.
  • Immediately withdraw “My Fabulous Story” from consideration from all other literary journals, following the instructions on Submittable or on the journal’s website if the journal accepts e-mail or snail mail submissions or has their own submission manager.  Since you keep track of all your submissions on a list or spreadsheet, it should be easy for you to do.  Tell the journals that the piece has been accepted elsewhere, thank them for their consideration of the story, and let them know that you’re looking forward to their next issue.  Most of the editors for literary journals don’t get paid for their work, and it’s nice to let them know how much we appreciate their dedication to publishing our stories.
  • Lit Journal X may send you suggested edits, questions, or proofs.  Make sure you timely follow up with them.

On Publication Day

  • When you see your piece published, send an e-mail to the editors you have been working with thanking them again for including your piece in the new issue of Lit Journal X.  You should read the issue – or at least a portion of it – and mention to the editors something you liked, another story or poem or the look of the journal.  This is not only about supporting the writing and publishing community – of which you are a part – but also recognizing the hard work of the editors who usually dedicate their time as a labor of love.
  • Market “My Fabulous Story.”  You should modify your endeavors to fit your specific circumstances.  For example:
  • Post one notification each on Facebook and Twitter (you don’t want to annoy anyone by constant promotions).
  • Send e-mails to friends who are (amazingly enough) not on social media or do not regularly check their Facebook pages.
  • Post an entry on your blog regarding the publication of “My Fabulous Story” and update your blog’s publication list.
  • Submit news of your publication to Pamelyn Castro’s Flash Fiction Flash Newsletter (to subscribe send an email to
  • Send a “yahoo” email to the Internet Writing Workshop list serv, which posts publishing successes once a week on its blog (; to join see ).
  • If you are involved in a community author’s group, notify the group of your publication.  (Our local library has a local author’s group with a Facebook page.)
  • Thank anyone who responds positively to your story.  Contrary advice exists on re-Tweeting positive Tweets concerning your story.  Most of the writers I follow do it, although I have read articles that re-Tweeting these comments is a breach of etiquette or bragging.  Re-Tweet if you are comfortable doing so.  I usually do since it appears to be socially acceptable in my Twitter-sphere.
  • If you receive negative feedback to your story, you can either ignore or respond briefly with a note thanking them for reading and giving you constructive criticism.  Do not engage a dialogue with your critiquers or belittle them.

And what if Lit Journal X has rejected your piece?  I have a list for that as well.  After drowning your sorrows with chocolate, champagne, or 50 year old whiskey:

  • Send a quick note to Lit Journal X thanking the editor for considering your piece.  Most journals put considerable time into reading your piece and “Your Fabulous Story” has gone through multiple readers.  Where the editor has given you encouragement or feedback – one journal, in rejecting my story, sent me reader’s notations – mention this in your email.  Editors are writers too and don’t like rejecting work: they know you have sweated (metaphorical) blood over your story.
  • Note on your submission spreadsheet that your story was rejected.  Specifically note if you received any encouragement, feedback, or if the journal asked you to send more work.  While the latter may seem like a form rejection, that request is sincere.  In the future, when you have a piece perfect for that journal, you can note in your cover letter, “Thank you for your encouragement on my piece ‘My Fabulous Story’” or “Thank you for your feedback on ‘My Fabulous Story.’  I made revisions pursuant to your suggestions and it was accepted elsewhere.”
  • Take a look at “My Fabulous Story.”  Was any of the feedback helpful?  Do you feel like it needs another revision?  If so, revise it or set it aside for revision.
  • If your story doesn’t need revisions, send it to two other journals in the same “tier” as Lit Journal X.

These are the steps I follow and can be modified for your purposes.  What do you do?


Lori Sambol Brody lives in the mountains of Southern California.  Her short fiction has been published in Tin House Flash Fridays, New Orleans Review, WhiskeyPaper, alice blue review, Atticus Review, and elsewhere.  Her first piece of non-fiction is forthcoming in Pithead Chapel and she will be participating in the chose-your-own-adventure at Lockjaw Magazine.  She can be found on Twitter at @LoriSambolBrody.


by Jim Harrington

jimharrington2Markets Added

Market Change


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

by Jim Harrington


Markets Added

Other Updates

  • Devilfish Review is now a paying market ($, 800, quarterly) Open to most fiction / prefers speculative – visit siteview guidelines
  • Story Shack, The (1500, daily) Open to most fiction / ON HIATUS
  • Kazka Press (1,000, monthly) Speculative fiction / CEASED PUBLICATION
  • one forty fiction (140 characters, varies) CLOSED PERMANENTLY


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

by Cameron Filas


Have you ever submitted something and then later forgot how long ago you did so? Where you actually submitted to? Whether or not you should have heard back after three weeks or three months? How many times you have previously submitted this piece?

The idea that we are smart enough to keep track of all this in our heads is often prevalent at the beginning of our writing escapades. At some point however we forget the minute details of each item sent out or heard back from. It is for this reason that many authors track their submissions and why you should start if you don’t already. It’s mundane work, I know, but essential to staying on top of things.

There are as many ways to track your submissions as there are writers. Common methods include keeping files in manila folders, using notecards, various online tracking systems, and of course the generic yet eloquent spreadsheet.

I prefer spreadsheets for the ability to create my own tracking system that can be easily edited, sorted, color-coded, and added to without fuss. Notecards and other hard copy systems must be tediously hand written and filed and do not allow you to simply click to sort. This is not to say these tracking systems do not have value, only that they are slightly archaic in today’s technology-infused world and lack the ease that comes with electronic tracking.

More important than the type of tracking system used however, are the items being tracked for each manuscript or submission.

Some people are admittedly anal-retentive when it comes to this process. I know authors who create a different spreadsheet for each individual piece’s submission history, each publisher submitted to, or sometimes both. This amount of detail is certainly not necessary for keeping a simple organized log. At a minimum a tracking system should include the information necessary to identify the submission in question. Here are some examples of data that can be recorded:

  • Title
  • Word Count
  • No.# (the number of times you’ve submitted this piece)
  • Publication (submitted to)
  • Sim Sub? (are simultaneous submissions permitted?)
  • Date Submitted
  • Expected Response Date (if given by the publication)
  • Response Date
  • Response/Result (accepted, rejected, rewrite requested, etc.)
  • Wait Until (some venues don’t want you to submit again for a while)
  • Fee (to submit, if any)
  • Pay (if paid publication, amount earned)

Not all of these items may be of importance to you or what you hope to achieve with your writing. Regardless, tracking more information rather than less may prove to be of some benefit in the future. You may even begin to notice trends in your writing or submissions. Perhaps you discover using the data that you mainly write flash-fiction less than 1,000 words and submit to mostly horror venues. And maybe all of your horror submissions are getting rejected while every humor piece you’ve written was accepted within a week! This could be used to assess your own strengths and weaknesses as a writer.

Another great benefit of tracking your submissions is that you can easily monitor your writing goals. You know, those things you swear you’re going to do every New Year’s Eve? Do you want to submit at least three pieces each month? Should you always have five items minimum pending a decision? Do you want to submit a story of every genre at least once? With a system that you actually use (that’s key here) you’ll have no trouble tracking these things.

You’ll also be able to stay on top of your simultaneous submissions. There’s nothing worse than submitting a story, and then later discovering you had already submitted it somewhere else that doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions. Just as bad is forgetting to notify one publisher when someone else picks up your story.

And you know how you’ve always wanted an author website, or for someone to write your biography someday? Yeah, you’re going to be glad you used a tracking system then. Using your spreadsheet you could quickly find when and where all of your publications appeared.

Once you begin tracking your submissions, don’t become discouraged if you notice a trend of rejections. This is just part of the writing process! Many authors, even famous ones, experienced countless rejections before their masterpieces were finally understood for what they were. And I’m sure those famous authors were submission tracking masters, probably.

There are a plethora of articles on the internet which painstakingly examine what the best submission tracking systems are, the “must-have” items that should be recorded, and the various reasons all writers should track their work. The tips provided here are not meant to be the perfect solution but instead a gentle shove in the right direction. So go forth and track, my fellow writers!

*If you’re uneasy about actually sitting down and creating a spreadsheet from scratch, or too lazy, please feel free to download the example Microsoft Word Excel spreadsheet I created (Submission_Tracking_Workbook) based on the Writers Write method. This spreadsheet includes directions which explain how it has been formatted and what to input.


Cameron Filas is an avid reader and novice author of short fiction and other various work. Though he has enjoyed writing from a very young age, he has only recently begun a serious pursuit of the craft. Cameron lives in Mesa, AZ, with his girlfriend, a dog, and a demon cat who he is pretty sure is plotting to kill him. You can visit his corner of the web at


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