Entries tagged with “Bonnie ZoBell”.


by Bonnie ZoBell

David LaBounty is an editor by day and a playwright by night. LaBounty’s plays have appeared on stages both large and small, and with his wife, Robin, he runs Blue Cubicle Press, home of the literary magazines The First Line and Workers Write!, and the chapbook series, Overtime.

Bonnie ZoBellHi David. So glad you could leave your cubicle today long enough to talk to us.

David LaBounty: Hi, Bonnie. Actually, I was kicked out of my cube a few years ago, during the grand experiment of “working from home.” But it looks like many companies are recalling their home workers, trying to refill their cube farms. 

 BZ:  Overtime has an unusual theme that runs through all of the work it publishes. Could you tell us a little about that?

DL: We focus on stories and poems from the workplace. One of our literary journals, Workers Write!, is an annual collection of tales from a particular workplace. Overtime is a series of chapbooks—usually one long story each—where work is a central theme.

BZ:  To your knowledge, do any of the writers’ bosses get upset about their particular workplace being written about?

DL: Not yet, but I think (hope) the caveat that these are works of fiction–names and places have been changed—gives us some cover.

BZ:  Does Overtime have a philosophy?

DL: Not much in the way of a philosophy, but I think our mission is to document the history of work. How has work changed over the years? How has it stayed the same? What kind of work is not around anymore? But, first and foremost, we want to entertain.

 BZ:  What would you say your press is looking for in the way of fiction submissions?

DL:  We’re looking for stories that entertain, but that also educate people about jobs or work situations they may not know much about. The best stories are about situations that people can relate to. Most may not know what it’s like to work on a shrimp boat, but many people can relate to working a grueling job to escape an even worse personal pain.

BZ:  What mistakes do you see writers making who submit to Overtime?

 DL: Simple stories: I got up. I got dressed. I went to work. My boss yelled at me. I went home. The End. Sounds ridiculously straight forward, but we receive a lot of those types of submissions.

 BZ:  What’s your idea of a perfect submission?

DL: Anything that makes me forget I am an editor judging a story.

 BZ:  Name a few writers whose chapbooks you’ve published and tell us a few words about their chapbooks.

DL:  We’ve published two stories by Mickey Burriss: Hour 2: “I Wish I was Hosey Hitchcock,” a story about a boy in South Carolina in the 30s who befriends a cotton mill worker, and Hour 14: “Route 28,” about a young man who travels to Florida during the summer to try his hand as an ice cream truck driver in the 50s. Hour 29, our most recent issue, is Twenty-First Floor by Miha Mazzini, a story about a man who attempts to climb the corporate ladder one bathroom at a time.

BZ:  If you could put a fold-out in one of your chapbooks, who or what would it be of?

DL: I’d love to be able to include old WPA posters. Just love the artwork, the colors and fonts. I’m a graphics geek.

BZ: Talk a little about the production of your chapbooks. What size are they? How are they made? Perfect bound, stapled, or? How much color do you use? What is the page range of most of them?

DL: Overtime hours are 5×7, stapled, and handmade. The only color is the cover paper (ten colors that are cycled through). Most range from ten pages to forty in length.

  BZ:  Do you accept manuscripts all year round, or only during certain times of the year?

 DL: We accept submissions year round.

 BZ: Are you interested in chapbooks from new writers who haven’t had books or chapbooks published before?

 DL:  Yes, we are interested in new writers. I’d say 75% of the authors we’ve published hadn’t published a book or chapbook.  

 BZ:  Is it okay if the stories people submit for chapbooks have already been published? 

DL:  Yes, we’ve published a few chapbooks of previously published stories.

 BZ:  Thanks so much for talking to us today, David. May cubicle-workers everywhere get an extra day off next week!

Bonnie ZoBell___________________________

Bonnie ZoBell’s fiction chapbook The Whack-Job Girls with Monkey Puzzle Press was released in March 2013 and her short story collection WHAT HAPPENED HERE is forthcoming with Press 53 in spring 2014. She’s received an NEA fellowship for her fiction, teaches at San Diego Mesa College, and is Associate Editor of The Northville Review. For more information, visit www.bonniezobell.com.

by Bonnie ZoBell

Randall Brown, founder and managing editor of Matter Press, teaches at Rosemont College’s MFA in Creative Writing Program. He is the author of the award-winning collection Mad to Live (Flume Press, 2008), his essay on (very) short fiction appears in The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction: Tips from Editors, Teachers, and Writers in the Field, and he appears in the Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction (W. W. Norton, 2010). He blogs regularly at FlashFiction.Net and is the founder and managing editor of Matter Press and its Journal of Compressed Creative Arts.

 Bonnie ZoBell:  So glad you finally had time to talk. You’ve got a lot going on over at Matter Press.

 Randall Brown:  Thanks for this opportunity. Matter Press has an online journal, the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, a blog that is currently publishing writers’ top five lists, and the press itself, which recently published Tara Laskowski’s book of dark etiquette Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons. The journal publishes condensed fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry each Monday—and a visual arts series each Wednesday. Also, as a fundraiser for the press, we just published A Pocket Guide to Flash Fiction, a 300+ page guidebook that provides various ways to make writing flash!

 BZ:  Does Matter Press have a philosophy?

 RB: Here is Matter Press’s mission statement: Matter Press is a community-based, non-profit 501(c)(3) literary press that publishes an online literary journal (The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts), manages an annual short prose chapbook contest, and supports a regular reading series. Matter Press focuses on supporting emerging and established authors working with condensed forms of fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and visual arts.

 BZ:  What would you say your press is looking for in the way of fiction chapbook submissions?

 RB: To get the press started, Matter Press solicited some favorite writers for chapbook submissions, including Kathy Fish, Jeff Landon, Carol Guess, and Tara Laskowski. The press’s first open reading choice, Karen Dietrich’s Girl Years, was a collection of creative nonfiction flash. During the open reading period, Matter Press is looking for a prose collection (prose poetry, fiction, and/or creative nonfiction), 25–40 pages, each piece under 600 words. Individual pieces in the manuscript may have appeared in journals, both in print and online, as long as the entire collection itself is unpublished.

 BZ:  What mistakes do you see writers making who submit to Matter Press?

 RB:  As a submissions’ reader, teacher, workshop participant, editor, and lover of flash fiction, I might have read 20,000 or more flash fiction pieces. The most common mistake I see is for writers not to think about all those other flash fiction pieces that have come before a reader’s eyes. Something surprising and different and exciting (yet organic to the piece) is sometimes missing from submissions.

 BZ:  What’s your idea of a perfect submission for a fiction chapbook?

 RB:  Formatting, formatting, formatting. So many chapbooks have odd formatting, with stories appearing at the end of another story, spaces after every paragraph, font changes, and the like. Perfectly formatted chapbooks. That’s what Matter Press is looking for.

 BZ:  Name a few writers whose fiction chapbooks Matter Press has published and tell us a few words about their chapbooks.

 RB: Kathy Fish’s Wild Life, undomesticated flash fiction; Jeff Landon’s Truck Dance, semi-short stories; Carol Guess’s Index of Placebo Effects, two women, a plane crash, and too many cameras; Karen Dietrich’s Girl Years, where memory and imagination intersect; and Tara Laskowski’s Modern Manners for Your Inner Demons, the way people conduct themselves in situations that Emily Post would never write about.

 BZ:  If you could put a fold-out in one of your chapbooks, who or what would it be of?

 RB: Like a centerfold fold-out? I like the moment before the big bang as a metaphor for the press, so something like that. Maybe it explodes a little when you pull it out.

 BZ: Talk a little about the production of your Matter Press’s fiction chapbooks. 

 RB: We usually publish 9 X 6, but we did do a 6 X 9, and the press has recently finished A Pocket Guide to Flash Fiction (as a fundraising project) that is paperback sized. We generally have color covers but black & white interiors. They are perfect bound, unless they are too tiny and need to be stapled. The page range for the open reading period is 25-40 pages.

  BZ:  Do you accept manuscripts all year round, or only during certain times of the year?

 RB:  Just during the open reading period. The next one isn’t for awhile: September 2014.

  BZ: Is Matter Press interested in in fiction chapbooks from new writers who haven’t had books or chapbooks published before?

 RB:  Matter Press is interested in new writers, but it sure helps sales if the writer has a network of some interested readers.

 BZ:  How many stories in the chapbooks submitted to you do you like to see already published? 

 RB: It’s not a consideration at all.

 BZ:  I really appreciate this, Randall! As a newish press, Matter Press is very strong with work by some great writers. Our readers will be grateful to know what you have to say.

 __________________________________Bonnie ZoBell

Bonnie ZoBell’s fiction chapbook The Whack-Job Girls with Monkey Puzzle Press was released in March 2013 and her short story collection WHAT HAPPENED HERE is forthcoming with Press 53 in spring 2014. She’s received an NEA fellowship for her fiction, teaches at San Diego Mesa College, and is Associate Editor of The Northville Review. For more information, visit www.bonniezobell.com.

by Karen NelsonKaren Nelson Outdoor

I love September because I can go all month singing Green Day’s “Wake Me Up When September Ends“.   (The 9/11 Tribute video is gripping.)  If you slept through any of Flash Fiction Chronicles’ great articles on the writing craft, here’s a recap – and wake up!

We had some pointed advice from Jim Harrington to help us refine our writing through Word Choice (be specific!) and using Inciting Incident and Character Arc to add dimension.  Jim takes apart some sample writing to really examine the nuts and bolts of a piece, and I think you’ll find more than a few ideas for improving your work.

Ever revisit a favorite book and find it, somehow, lacking?  You’re not alone.  In “Writing Ruined My Reading” Sara Crysl Akhtar shares her struggles with Asimov, but finds a redeeming genre that will surprise you.

Beth Lee-Browning gets us digging into our journals and discovering our own potential with “If You Build It, They Will Come“.  Her highlights are worth another look.  (Go ahead, I’ve already clicked on them 4 times… )

•    Savor life – live with humor, joy, and passion.  Use feelings as fuel for creativity and creation.
•    Make something of yourself – do something, be something, make something.  Be who you are and continue to strive to become who you were meant to be.  Don’t be afraid to try, don’t be afraid to fail, and don’t be afraid to succeed.
•    Accept yourself – be yourself, trust yourself, be childlike, own and understand your relationships, be aware and follow your instincts, be accountable, and last but not least, be kind to yourself.
•    Have faith – ask for and accept help, be teachable, life is spiritual, art is spiritual and it is healing. Follow your dreams and treat them as real.
•    We commune through art – when we create from the heart and not from the ego we experience a clarity of purpose and feelings of joy.

INTERVIEWS

For people who like writing, authors sure love to talk!  And FFC has visited with some of the best in the business.  Check out these conversations with industry professionals, and gain insight on the world of publishing…

UNCOV/RD: Susan O’Neill – author of Don’t Mean Nothing

Roxanne Gay – Tiny Hardcore Press

Sumanth Prabhaker – Madras Press

Milo James Fowler – EDF’s Top Author for August

BOOK REVIEWS

Success for one is success for all, and FFC loves to celebrate our colleagues’ success!  Our own Bonnie ZoBell burst into 2013 with her collection of stories The Whack-Job Girls (Monkey Puzzle Press).

“Respect. This is the bedrock of all the stories in Bonnie Zobell’s “Whack-Job Girls.” Her characters demand it, regardless of their situation, social standing and ethos. In fact, ZoBell’s characters come across as people who would sooner hit the reader with a hammer than be pitied.” – Rumjhum K. Biswas

Linda Simone-Wastila shares her thoughts on why Elliot Sanders’ Distance was one of the finest short stories she read this year.  Take a moment as she walks you through the author’s expert use of voice, tension, detail, and theme.

Circle Straight Back by Noel Sloboda just went on my must-read list… if only for the intriguing idea of selling secrets in an online auction.  Don’t miss Andree Robinson-Neal’s fascinating commentary on this unusual book.

Of course, when submitting your flash piece for publication, you want it to look its best.  EveryDayFiction offers these insider tips that will get you that much closer to sharing your work.

The month wound up with a little fun, in Top 10 Reasons to Write Flash Fiction.  Our staff collected their favorites, but we’re still hearing from you on your best – or craziest – reasons to write flash.  Leave yours in the comment section – we’d love to hear it!  And now that September has ended, get ready for a fabulous Fall at Flash Fiction Chronicles!

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Karen Nelson is a writer and teacher in Southwest Missouri, specializing in educational and nonfiction works. She is a staff writer for Flash Fiction Chronicles, Curriculum Coordinator for Goldminds Publishing, author of four books and numerous stories and articles, and serves on the boards of various writing and literacy organizations.  When staring at a computer screen gets to be too much, Karen wanders outside to her chickens, rabbits, and miniature horse, who are always good for gaining perspective.

 

 

 by Bonnie ZoBell

Sumanth_prabhaker

 Sumanth Prabhaker is a graduate of the University of North Carolina Wilmington MFA program and the founding editor of Madras Press, a publisher of short fiction whose catalog includes work by Donald Barthelme, Aimee Bender, Alfred Hitchcock, Kelly Lin, and others. He is the author of the novella A Mere Pittance.

Bonnie ZoBellHello, Sumanth. Thanks for agreeing to the interview. I was very interested to  read about your press online because it’s run a little differently than others.

Sumanth Prabhaker:  Thanks, Bonnie.

 BZ:  I’m impressed and curious to hear that you donate your proceeds to non-profit organizations chosen by your authors. How did that get started? I’d love to hear a about how this works. Are the organizations your authors pick common ones, or have you gotten some unusual ones?

SP:  That always was one of the goals of this project, both to remove ourselves from unreasonable financial expectations and to do something small and nice with whatever profit was made, and I’ve been really happy with how it’s gone so far. Much of our content is donated by very generous authors, and I work with them editing and designing on a volunteer basis. In the end we pay for the books to be printed and for a few administrative and marketing costs, and what’s left after that is donated to a non-profit organization, which we offer our authors the chance to select.

The organizations themselves encompass a really wide range of interests, from environmental protection to medical research to advocacy and human services. One of them, the Theodore Payne Foundation, has a hotline that you can call, and you tell them your location, and they tell you how to get to the closest wildflower field. Another one is Blue Marble Dreams, which a few years ago opened Rwanda’s first ice cream parlor.

 BZ:  Does Madras Press have a philosophy?

SP:  Kind of? We try to produce books that are pleasing to look at and hold, and that are fun to read, and don’t cost very much, and are found at good bookstores and absent from bad ones. I don’t know if that’s a philosophy, but those are the most important aspects to our editorial approach, anyway.

 BZ:  What would you say Madras Press is looking for in the way of fiction chapbook submissions?

MPLogo_BlueBrown

SP:  We’re always looking for good literary fiction, and the body of work we’ve published so far is indicative of the kinds of stories we like. However, right now we have a few particular initiatives that we’re looking more actively for, including food writing and stories about eating, works in translation, and murder mysteries. Or combinations of those — I hadn’t thought of that before!

 The format of our titles (small and thin) and our lack of institutional history allow us to be extremely flexible about the nature of our content, and so we welcome new ideas.

 BZ:  What mistakes do you see writers making who submit to you?

 SP:  Since we’re not in a position of any authority, I don’t think of other authors in terms of mistakes or successes. I guess, if anything, it would be a mistake to get discouraged at all if we end up deciding to pass on a manuscript because the conversation, for us, is so much more about identifying the resources required to be the right publisher for a certain piece than it is about “acceptance” or “rejection.”

BZ:  What’s your idea of a perfect fiction chapbook submission?

SP:  One of the less tangible questions we ask ourselves while reviewing manuscripts is whether a story merits its own front and back cover, or at least whether its ideal reading experience requires isolating it from advertisements or other stories. It’s not something that’s easy to qualify, but you often can sense that feeling right away, and the stories we’ve published so far are ones that seem to thrive in the single-volume environment that we create for them.

BZ:  Name a few writers whose chapbooks Madras Press has published and tell us a few words about their chapbooks.

SP:  One of my favorite titles we’ve published is the story A Manual for Sons by Donald Barthelme. It first appeared in The New Yorker, like much of Barthelme’s short fiction, was later included in his novel The Dead Father, as a sort of book within the book, and was eventually anthologized  in his Sixty Stories omnibus. And that uncertainty of what to do about the story, a weird homily on manhood and patricide, really appealed to me. We’re always interested in stories that suffer under the infrastructure of trade publishing (magazine word count limits, conventional book trim sizes), and in finding ways to build a book around the story rather than the other way around.

Another of our classic reprints is a story by Kelly Link called Stone Animals, for which we asked some of her peers, colleagues, critics, and fans to contribute illustrations for our edition — Daniel Handler, Ursula K. Le Guin, Arthur Phillips, and many others. We had the interior pages printed offset and the covers letterpress printed, half in blue and half in brown, and the final product is pretty neat.

 BZ:  If you could put a fold-out in one of your fiction chapbooks, who or what would it be of?

SP:  I’ve always wanted to do that! Almost every other limitation that our shoestring budget imposes on us is totally fine with me, but I get so sad when it comes to manufacturing and we have these little ideas and they end up costing too much.

The other day I was thinking it would be a good idea to devote some space in every book where you could print reviews from the author’s family. A foldout would be perfect for that; you could put a family photo on one side and an apologetic note from your mom on the other side.

 BZ: Talk a little about the production of Madras Press’s fiction chapbooks. What size are they? How are they made? Perfect bound, stapled, or? How much color do you use? What is the page range of most of them?

SP:  All of our titles are small square paperbacks, 5×5, about the size of CD cases. So far they are black and white, but we’re hoping to print in full color someday. Approximately 25 – 75 manuscript pages is about right for us.

 BZ:  Do you accept manuscripts all year round, or only during certain times of the year?

 SP:  Anytime. But we like to read slowly and multiple times, so it often will take us several months to make up our minds about new manuscripts.

  BZ: Is Madras Press interested in fiction chapbooks from new writers who haven’t had books or chapbooks published before?

 SP:  Yes!

 BZ:  How many stories in the chapbooks submitted to you do you like to see already published? 

SP:  That depends on so many things — where the stories were previously published, how available they are now, what the author’s reasons are for wanting to re-publish, etc. Some of our titles comprise 100% previously published material, others are reprints of works that currently appear in print in trade publications, and others are 100% new material.

 BZ:  Thanks so much for the interview, Sumanth. It’s nice to hear about a press that with such altruistic leanings.

 ___________________________

Bonnie ZoBell

Bonnie ZoBell’s fiction chapbook The Whack-Job Girls with Monkey Puzzle Press was released in March 2013 and her short story collection WHAT HAPPENED HERE is forthcoming with Press 53 in spring 2014. She’s received an NEA fellowship for her fiction, teaches at San Diego Mesa College, and is Associate Editor of The Northville Review. For more information, visit www.bonniezobell.com.

by Bonnie ZoBell

 

Roxane Gay lives and writes in the Midwest. She is the publisher of Tiny Hardcore Press.

Bonnie ZoBellThanks for agreeing to talk today, Roxane. PANK Little Books and TINY Hardcore Press have both been such wonderful presses. 

Roxane Gay:  It’s my pleasure.

 BZ:  I just read on PANK’s website that Tiny Hardcore Press will absorb PANK Books in January of 2014 and that good things will come of this. Through our correspondence you indicate that THC has already absorbed PANK Little Books. If that’s already true, I’m going to go ahead and just talk about Tiny Hardcore Press below. What made you decide to merge the two, and how will this be better?

RG:  It’s mostly a logistical merge. It simply makes more sense for me to have two of my editorial projects, and certainly the ones I spend the most time on, under the same banner. This will also allow me to cede some of the distribution responsibilities for the books, to my PANK co-editor, M. Bartley Seigel, who handles PANK’s distribution.  I’m also in the process of hiring an editor to handle the manuscript work with writers. I’ll still be involved in the role of publisher, handling the financial end of the press. Ultimately, Tiny Hardcore Press is now an imprint of PANK.

We just want great writing. We don’t care where it comes from.

BZ:  Does Tiny Hardcore Press have a philosophy?

RG: I’m looking for great books that might not get a chance to thrive elsewhere.

 BZ:  What would you say Tiny Hardcore Press is looking for in the way of fiction chapbook submissions?

RG:  I tend to enjoy realism or gritty realism and writing that will move me and make me think.

 BZ:  What mistakes do you see writers making who submit fiction chapbooks?

 RG: Far too many writers send book projects into the world before they are ready. There seems to be a lot of pressure for writers to “have a book” without considering that perhaps it’s better to have a good book.

 BZ:  What’s Tiny Hardcore Press’s idea of a perfect fiction chapbook submission?

RG: I’m definitely not looking for perfection and think it’s dangerous to imagine that there could be a perfect submission because then you close yourself off to so much writing that is flawed but deeply memorable.

Far too many writers send book projects into the world before they are ready. There seems to be a lot of pressure for writers to “have a book” without considering that perhaps it’s better to have a good book.

 BZ:  Name a few writers whose fiction chapbooks Tiny Hardcore Press has published and tell us a few words about their chapbooks.

RG: We’ve published books by xTx, Robb Todd, Brandi Wells, Casey Hannan, Frank Hinton, and James Tadd Adcox, to name a few. Their books are each worlds unto themselves. Each of these writers has created stories that are raw and honest and human and that’s all you can ask from a book.

BZ:  If you could put a fold-out in one of your fiction chapbooks, who or what would it be of?

RG: A diagram of the human heart.

 BZ: Talk a little about the production of Tiny Hardcore Press’s fiction chapbooks. Will this change now that the two presses have merged? What size are they? How are they made? Perfect bound, stapled, or? How much color do you use? What is the page range of most of them?

RG: Production processes won’t change. The books are all 4.25” x 5.5” and perfect bound. The covers are all full color and the interiors are black and white. I originally did the design myself.  I use a freelance designer for the books now. The last several books have been done by the wonderful Alban Fischer. I have them printed through David McNamara who runs Sunnyoutside/Cloudy Outside.

 BZ:  Do you accept manuscripts all year round, or only during certain times of the year?

 RG: We are closed to submissions for the foreseeable future.

 BZ: Is Tiny Hardcore Press interested in fiction chapbooks from new writers who haven’t had books or chapbooks published before?

 RG:  Absolutely. We just want great writing. We don’t care where it comes from.

 BZ:  How many stories in the chapbooks submitted to you do you like to see already published? 

RG:  I have no particular preference, but the more the merrier.

 BZ:  I appreciate these answers, Roxane, and learning about the two presses merging. It’s great to hear from you since you’ve published some high-quality fiction chapbooks.

________________________

Bonnie ZoBell

Bonnie ZoBell’s fiction chapbook The Whack-Job Girls with Monkey Puzzle Press was released in March 2013 and her short story collection WHAT HAPPENED HERE is forthcoming with Press 53 in spring 2014. She’s received an NEA fellowship for her fiction, teaches at San Diego Mesa College, and is Associate Editor of The Northville Review. For more information, visit www.bonniezobell.com.