Pure Escape: Skiing, Sun, and Beyond Centauri

The daily ski report told of fast turns and corduroy slopes. The sun clawed through a carpet of fog, melting away clouds and revealing an endless blue sky. In a word: perfection–a day made for escape, for forgetting about deadlines and worries.

A stop at the post office confirmed the day’s promise: the winter edition of Beyond Centauri–packed with sci fi and fantasy stories (along with my contribution, Stinky Feet For Dinner)–waited for me. My escape was complete.

New Moon Publishes Young Writers

New Moon Girls is an online community and magazine where girls create and share poetry, artwork, videos, and more; chat together; and learn. All in a fully moderated, educational environment designed to build self-esteem and positive body image.

Love to write? Share all your fabulous fiction here! Publish your newest creations, or get advice on works-in-progress. And read great stories by other New Moon Girls!”

New pubs for young writers and digital stories

Cuckoo Quarterly: “Hello and welcome to the newly hatched Cuckoo Quarterly! We’re an online literary magazine designed by and for young writers, a haven from the trials of school or college where you can let your creative juices flow… and in turn sample the creative outpourings of other like-minded individuals. We also want to show you what other young writers have created – and to see what you’ve been writing too.”

First Inkling: “First Inkling is more than an international literary magazine and online bibliophile hotspot. First Inkling is a snapshot of a generation. Through the prose, verse, and in-depth interviews of tomorrow’s preeminent writers, First Inkling explores the cultural, intellectual, and political ethos of their world. First Inkling is a visionary print and online medium dedicated to seeking out the most talented student authors in the English language, and publishing their work alongside criticism from the most important writers of our age. ”

New digital short works series for Penguin: “Penguin is launching a digital series of exclusive short works called Penguin Shorts, releasing nine titles by authors including Helen Dunmore, Toby Young and Colm Toibin.”

Miscellanea for short-story lovers

Spirited: “Leap Books has summoned some big names in fiction to help put together 13 ghostly stories to support a good cause, with all proceeds to be donated to 826 National. 826 offers free after-school tutoring, workshops, and in-school programs because they believe that ‘strong writing skills are fundamental to future success.'”

From the Daily Telegraph: Over 20 unpublished stories by Anthony Burgess discovered in archive – “A collection of unpublished stories and scripts written by A Clockwork   Orange’s Anthony Burgess have been found in the author’s archives.”

A Year of Flash: May 2010 – May 2011: “If you’re new to our site, what you will find is the result of a year’s worth of creative labor and love — on the part of 176 artists and authors who contributed over 1,500 flashes, poems and art.”

The Redwing’s Nest: “The Redwing’s Nest is looking for art and writing from children, pre-school through 8th grade, from around the world.”

4 Ways to Make Every Word Count: “Getting the full value out of every word you write is especially important when it comes to the short story. The key is to recognize the power of a single well-chosen word, and trust it to do its work. As a rule, the more economically you use language, the more powerfully you will deliver your message. Here are four techniques to help you make each word count.”

Drollerie Press Closes and Other News

I have some sad news to share: Drollerie Press–home to mythic fiction–is closing up shop. Read about it here.

And other bits and pieces from the writing world:

Literary Journal Submissions 101 – “To submit your latest short story, essay or poem, you’ll need a cover letter—which is much different from a query. Use these tips from inside a creative writing program to help your letter make the grade.”

How to Let Plot Guide Your Short Story – “The short story is the art of abbreviation. We aren’t dealing with the panorama of life as we might be in a novel. We’re focused. If the novel is the art of the gaze, the short story is the art of the glance. The short story’s illumination must be sudden and should suggest an ongoing life, not present it in full. A short story must immediately pull the reader out of her world and drop her into the world of the story. There’s little time for setup. We begin when everything but the action is over—at the edge of the cliff.”

Kids’Magination Magazine Submission Guidelines – “Kids’Magination Magazine, where kids can enjoy learning and reading, is open for submissions of short stories, flash and microfiction. We want stories suitable for 9 to 14 year-olds – stories that will excite the reader found in all kids, of all ages, youth and adult.”

Pongo Teen Writing –  “The Pongo Teen Writing Project is a volunteer, nonprofit program for teens who are on the streets, in jail, or in other ways leading difficult lives. We love to help young people express themselves through poetry, especially teens who have never written before. (And we want to share our teaching techniques with caring adults.”

Hunger Mountain 2012 Submission Calls and Ebook Publishers

Calling all YA writers: check out Bethany’s blog posting for an update on Hunger Mountain’s writing needs – “Jan-March 2012: The Mystery & Magic of Identity – Hunger Mountain is actively seeking submissions for the Winter 2012 issue The Mystery and Magic of Identity.” Click here for all the info.

And I just came across Books to Go, an ebook publisher of short stories (YA and older, all genres). More and more electronic publishers are moving into the short story world, so I plan to put together a list of these publishers for Word Crushes soon. Stay tuned.

Getting Started: Navigating the world of short stories

(The following is a guest post from Madeleine Swann, who joins Word Crushes from England. It you click on her name, you’ll see that Maddie and I share the same taste in WordPress themes. Great minds think alike? -Erin)

I’m a fairly new writer. I’ve had some articles and short stories published but I’ve still got a long way to go and I appreciate how hard it is to get started. Perhaps this sounds as though I should live in a commune but I really think it’s important for writers, especially other new and confused ones, to share what they’ve learned, so this is for you. Join my wild ride!

When I send off short stories I can spend a very long time looking through endless lists of magazines and websites that publish them, and one place I go to is The Short Story . A few of the publications are no longer with us but enough are, and there are sections full of advice and competitions as well. Some people may disagree with this but I’m quite dubious of anything asking for entry money so I tend to avoid those. Plus I have no money. Don’t forget of course to purchase The Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook, it’s invaluable.

Set up a website and join social networking. Most people already have, but if you haven’t I can’t tell you how useful I’ve found it. Through Facebook I started talking to a comic publisher, and now I’ve got a horror story coming out with them at the end of the year. If you have a website it can make you look so much more professional (or alternative, whichever your preferred aesthetic). I made a couple of comedy adverts for my site and put them on youtube, mostly to amuse myself but also to let people see my personality, which is hugely important. Just remember, if you put a photo of yourself on your homepage make sure you don’t look insane, unless that’s your intention.

I’ve heard this so many times I need to say it just to be sure you all know too: conflict needs to be set up for your character fairly early on. Beautiful description is great but readers appreciate it more when they’re dying to find out what happens. I always try to make sure the opening line of everything I write has a huge impact, even in a small way; people decide whether to continue reading at all based on those first few words.

I’m not a fan of how-to books at all but I found How NOT to Write a Novel by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark very useful and very funny. At first I was embarrassed at reading all my mistakes laid bare, but once you get over the initial cringe it’s full of great tips, and the principals mostly work for short stories too. I tend to get a coke in a pub to do research because I need noise to think – I know, weirdo – and I was laughing out loud. People were looking.

I always think getting involved with local things is a great idea. We have an arts festival in Essex and I’m doing three different performances. Sometimes you might have to be pushy and I know it doesn’t suit everyone, but you really never know who’ll see you or who you’ll get talking to. If you make a fool of yourself, it’ll at least be a memory you and your friends can laugh about.

Lastly, have other people read your stuff. Maybe even read it aloud to people – people who won’t just say ‘that’s good.’ You need to grit your teeth and let it be read by someone you know is honest. There are tons of online workshops, so join a free one. I personally use Critique Circle.

So here we are; my thoughts on getting started in writing. Hopefully you’ve found it dizzyingly informative, but if you have any helpful suggestions for me I’d really like to hear them because sharing is the way of caring. Or something.

Wait… There’s more: a few useful links:

http://newpages.com/literary-magazines/
http://www.pw.org/literary_magazines?apage=*
http://andromeda.rutgers.edu/~lcrew/pbonline.html
http://www.duotrope.com/listallmarkets.aspx
http://litlist.net/online_journals
http://www.litmags.org/list.php

Teen Voices: Where young writers speak though print

I was thrilled when Sarah Binning, Marketing Coordinator for Teen Voices, emailed me, saying that Word Crushes had caught her attention. She wondered if I would be willing to help spread the word about Teen Voices. And, of course, I’d be happy to. So here’s the scoop:

Teen Voices is an intensive journalism mentoring and leadership development program for teen girls in Boston whose mission is to support and educate teen girls to amplify their voices and create social change through media.

2011 marked its 20th year of print publication. To commemorate this achievement, the cover of the Spring/Summer issue featured twenty faces of readers and teen editors of Teen Voices to showcase the diversity of readers. Additionally, it held a “20 under 20” short story competition for teen girls (check out the winners here).

Through the Teen Voices program, girls create an internationally distributed print and online alternative magazine reaching 45,000 readers worldwide and receiving more than 200,000 annual page-views from 175 countries. And it remains the only alternative magazine by and for teen girls in the nation.

Ezine weaves tapestry of excellent writing: Interview with YARN editor

 “‘I want to be abducted by aliens,’ Attison said as he shoveled a spoonful of tuna into his mouth.” From:  Swamp Monster Bonanza By Michele Tallarita

“The 7-11 is empty, so I count the hairs on the third finger of my left hand.” From: Stubb  By Arthur Slade

“Any minute Ms. Morris will call the girls up on stage.  The cattle call.” From: In the Spotlight by Emily S. Deibel

Whew! Does it get any better than that? First lines that pull you in, making the computer screen disappear until all you see is a story unfolding word by word. Yet, this is exactly what I’ve come to expect from YARN–an online magazine packed with essays, poems, and fiction for teens. And YARN never fails to deliver.

In the following intervew, YA Consultant and Reader Lourdes Keochgerien discusses how YARN got its start, types of stories she is looking for, and what to expect in the future:

What inspired YARN? How did it get its start?  

Back in the winter of 2008, Kerri Majors, co-editor, started writing a short story for young adults. After a little online research, she discovered how few venues exist for such writing. That story became a novel, so she didn’t wind up needing a YA literary journal, but ever since then, she’s wanted to start a journal that featured YA writing. After talking about it on-and-off with writer friends like Shannon, co-founder/co-editor of YARN, Kerri decided it was time to make the dream a reality in the summer of 2009.

What do you look for in a story? Are there any specific types of stories or plots that you wish writers would send you?

The story should be for a teen audience and honestly portray situations this audience can relate to, without losing their respect along the way. It’s also important that the story ring true, reel us in from the first words, and keep our interest from sentence to sentence. There is no one way to do this, of course, and we want stories that are as quirky and unique as possible. And people say writing YA is easy!

Believe it or not, despite the popularity of sci-fi, fantasy, and steampunk in YA novels, we don’t see many short stories in those genres.

Why would you pass on a story?

We’ve passed on stories for many reasons: sometimes it was because they were more for a children’s or adult audience, and sometimes it was because the story wasn’t well enough thought out, and still other times it was because, well, it just didn’t float our boat. This is a very subjective process, and because we’re all writers ourselves, we know how frustrating it can be. The important thing for writers to remember is to keep working on their craft, and keep sending out their work.

What do you enjoy the most about editing YARN?

All the editors can agree that one of the most wonderful things about editing YARN is discovering new talent, adult and teen, and helping those writers shape their stories into publishable work. We are very hands-on editors, willing to work with a writer who has promise. With teen writers especially, it’s exciting to see exuberance in their prose. The love they have for reading and writing will live on for a very long time.

Who are some of your favorite authors and why?

There are so many wonderful YA writers today, it is difficult to narrow the list down to a few. All the authors that we have had the opportunity to interview and publish can be found on our favorites list including: Barry Lyga, Malinda Lo, Pete Hautman, Allen Zadoff, Arthur Slade, Mitali Perkins, and Tina Ferraro just to name a few. Each author offers such an unique prespective on adolescence with heart, humor, and honestly.

Anything new coming to YARN this year?

Well, we don’t want to give away all our secrets, but we can tell you that we will have new short stories by Kody Keplinger and John M. Cusick, an interview with Gail Giles, new editors’ blogs, and of course, new publications from the brightest new fiction, non-fiction, and poetry writers in YA.

New Christian YA Market Looking For Submissions

Untapped–a new imprint and magazine for Christian teens and tweens from Written World Communications–is on the hunt for outstanding fiction and non-fiction writers.

In the following interview, Executive Editor Christina Harris (Untapped.mag@gmail.com) discusses what she’s looking for, her favorite writers, and plans for the publication of the imprint’s first novel and magazine.

What do you look for in a story? Are there any specific types of stories or plots that you wish writers would send you? 

Strong author voice, logical and original plots fit for the YA audience, and real characters. I’m a huge fan of YA speculative and I wish there were more out there in that genre that are better than the average or just non-occult. Saying that, I also would love to receive pretty much anything, be it set as wild west or contemporary, that fits my criteria that I mentioned before. It is definitely hard to find.

Why would you pass on a story? 

Weak voice, bad writing style, “bunny trails” in the plot, lack of conflict in the story, stories that are “written down” for YA teens (I cannot tell you how many times I’ve seen submissions that are geared toward too young of an audience), and the immoral depicted as good. (Please don’t send me something about a Christian Vampire or Witch! Although there can be evil vampires and witches if it’s part of the plot.)

What do you enjoy the most about editing? 

Exploring another soul’s unique God given gift. I get to be the first to review something that someone poured their heart into and I can help them live their dream of getting the manuscript published. It also makes that the hardest part of my job here because if I find I can’t publish it, I (because I also love to write fiction) know how it is to devote so much time and then find out your story won’t take off or that the entire novel needs a rewrite.

Who are some of your favorite authors and why? Favorite short stories? Is there a story (or two) that was completely unforgettable… changed your life or outlook in some way? 

Even though I’ve said I love speculative fiction, there is one book that always sticks in my mind that is not speculative at all: The Blue Castle by L.M. Montegomery. Most people haven’t heard of this novel, but I picked that little book up and couldn’t put it down until the end. Set in the early twentieth century, the story is about Delancy Stirling who is 29 and an old maid. She never really lived life. One day when she finds out she only has a year to live, she throws caution to the wind and even asks a man to marry her! I laughed, got angry with the characters who treated her unfairly, and cried for Delancy during her adventures. The ending is absolutely beautiful!

Anything new coming to Untapped this year? 

We’re hoping to release for the first time a magazine and also publish our first novel.