How to travel as a writer.

Someone on Facebook asked for information about maximizing time when on a research trip for a novel. What ho!

  1. Set a time every day to FaceTime or Skype with your children.
  2. Have something else going on. For example, I practice Tai Chi. I knew that there would be a lot of parks where the Chinese community practiced in the early mornings. I made a point to be in the neighborhood park by 6am. I met so many caring locals. They told me great places to eat and insider tips about the city that your characters need to know. One also helped me figure out which neighborhood in Bangkok my main character would live in.
  3. Spend more time on your book than seeing the sights. Limit sight seeing to elements that appear in the book.
  4. Write or edit on the plane. You write; food arrives. Tea arrives. Life doesn’t get better–until your kids arrive!
  5. Use your computer rather than a notebook. On days I used my notebook, I was too exhausted to transfer my notes. Still haven’t.
  6. Go to a library. My novel is set in the mid-90s. In the 90s, no newspaper in Cambodia published on-line. I went to the library at the Hun Sen University and read bound, back issues of newspapers.

Bon Voyage!

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By the Numbers: “A Distressing State of Purity.”

Rosie Goldstein
Goodness!

Let us first take note that the image the magazine Literary Orphans chose is far sexier than I am enjoying.

Over the past two years, my latest publication, the flash fiction piece “A Distressing Sate of Purity” was rejected thirty-one times before finding a spectacular home at Literary Orphans. One of those thirty-one rejections came from the literary magazine for which I am now a reader, Vestal Review. In May of 2017, a VR Editor Who Shall Not Be Named wrote on my rejection that “A Distressing Sate of Purity” was “an interesting story except for the ending.” Traitor!

Due to Vestal’s response, I sent “Purity” to a magazine which offered editor feedback for $4. Read below. (Some parts are redacted because they reveal critical plot points.)

Though ostensibly flash, the piece seems to be interested in telling a modern fable; that is, a piece that feel a little bit bigger, more allegorical, more omniscient in the telling. Usually flash focuses on a single concentrated moment told in detail, with an intense focus on the language, but this piece skips time and the narrative voice stays large. That style is not to my particular taste. What I prefer to capture me in flash is the language: a dense focus on the line and the energy brought about by a particular rhythm and line of tension in the prose.

I think the most interesting part of Rosie’s character is something that wasn’t quite exploded enough: she seems to want to {REDACTED}, and she figures out a situation in which she can and yet {REDACTED}. Why is that? I’d like to see that story zero in on a moment of interaction with {REDACTED} — right now it’s mostly told, and I’d like to loosen the narrative grip on the piece and see a moment of confusion or ambiguity in Rosie’s education.

I took my $4-advice to heart. And worked my ending. And kept submitting.

By the Numbers: “The Summers of Carefully”

 

Writing flash as I do, it strikes me that the number of words in a piece only slightly exceeds the number of times I have to submit before the piece is accepted.

Alle’s famed comic hyperbole strikes again; The word count for The Summers of Carefully is 286. Right Hand Pointing was its 40th submission.

puppy swimmingCarefully was inspired by a facebook question from a fellow writer: “You guys, how do lifeguards smell?” Without hesitation, I posted that which I made up: “Lifeguards smell like the wind and dead fish.” Then I edited to add, “But not enough to matter.”

Like I said, 40th submission. There were a number of re-writes in there. One–when Cousin Traci arrived–bumped the piece from under 50 words to its current length. That revision did not *pop* the way many ideas do for me. I remember staring at the first paragraph for a long time. It was so boring.  Cara on the beach with only her fantasies. She needed a foil. A square foil.

I started submitting it. I got some good feedback–including one lovely rejection from Tahoma Review, and another excellent note from The Vestal Review. But I never felt the piece was the best it could be. Twice, I stopped submitting so as to work on it.

The second time I sent it to its room, I called on the ineffable Carole L. Glickfeld, with whom I work when my fiction flummoxes me. At that point, the puppy was a one-liner. “They watched him rescue a puppy. Awwwwww.” Remi was not yet identified. The puppy-lifeguard was an amorphous “he.” (Really bad choice; really bad. Never do that again. Never, never, never.)

puppy elf
Puppy Elf writes for you.

Carole was curious about the puppy. “Not enough coming from the puppy.” I worked on the puppy part and then put it away for awhile. Weeks later, I re-read it in preparation for sending to Right Hand Pointing. I forgot I made the change! It was as if the puppy elves did the work for me. How kind!

 

A New Video for an Old Essay

One of my favorite essays, The Brass Ring, published in Creative Nonfiction Magazine in the 1990s. The Euonia Review (I can’t pronounce that, either) re-published it in 2016.

I’m having so much fun making trailers for my new publications that I’ve moved on to fluffing the old pubs. Enjoy! But don’t forget to come back here to read the essay.

My New Position: Senior Nonfiction Editor at jmww!

scrabble-tiles-906404_1920Well-y well-y well-y! If we have been paying attention, in January, jmww published m’essay Round Down. They had an open position as the senior nonfiction editor, and boy, did I snap up that application.

Writers: please do send me your work. Use the jmww Submissions page (scroll to the bottom). Make sure to address your cover letter to me. Mention that you are a subscriber to About Childhood. I will treat you well.

As you read About Childhood, you probably understand the ethos of what I look for in nonfiction. In case you need a nutshell:

Alle looks for essays with exquisitely observed moments lived by captivating characters, all firmly based in the agreed-upon reality. The combination must lead to endings that satisfy the story as well tapping into universal truths.

Go read the nice things they said about me

 

 

Movie! Movie! I’m a quarter-finalist!

screencraft-contest-

Congratulations! You are officially a quarter-finalist

in the 2017 ScreenCraft Cinematic Short Story Contest!

 

Came the e-mail, precisely as above; centered and everything. There were over 1.400 entries. Now were are 500. I will need your good wishes.

How I Got That Story:

Last fall, I received one of those emails writers get, yadada yadada contest yadada. This announcement was different in that they were looking for short stories to adapt into feature films. You could enter for free, or pay $39 for feedback.

I plunked down the $39 and one of my favorite stories, I Wanted Ten (currently on submission at 8 different literary magazines). The feedback was completely positive, so I questioned the value of the exchange, then forgot about it until I received the big news note today.

I would love it if you could hold your breath with me until the semi-finalists are announced on February 14th. heart

 

Rounding Down “Round Down”

jmwwI began “Round Down” at least a hundred years ago – okay, probably fifteen years ago – in a Hugo House class taught by Brangien Davis on writing humor. I hoped it would be a funny little piece about cheating in eighth grade. I titled it “The Rhenquist ‘B’ Incident.”

No one wanted it. No one gave me any feed back. It was “Dear Writer: NO” the whole way. I found the first traction with it when I began to go deeper, when I found the bravery to explore the weight that a family legacy of cheating had on me.

“Round Down” as it stands now visited the submission boxes of 24 magazine since I began tracking submission and rejections, three years ago. I have no idea how many rejections it faced when the sad sucker was in the form of “The Rhenquist ‘B’ Incident.”

Thanks so much to Jen at jmww for recognizing my brilliance.