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A seasoned piece in a seasoned journal

The Jewish Literary Journal has been publishing since 2013, “here to help foster and publicize the unique(ly) Jewish voice espoused through creative writing (they don’t call us people of the book for nothing!), including those that may be difficult to relate with if one is unfamiliar with the religion or culture.”

In their November issue, The Jewish Literary Journal will reprint one of my favorite pieces, Girl Feelings, originally published in Literary Mama in 2008. Trigger warnings all over this one, you guys: sexual abuse, a parent’s mental illness. Tread carefully.

How could I mother a girl? I’d been abused as a girl.
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A new piece in a new magazine: Survivor Lit.

Survivor Lit is a brand-new and very good magazine run by Kirsten Ott Palladino. I am thrilled to be involved, even in my small way, with a review of the new anthology, Whatever Gets You Through. Visit Survivor Lit for my work; stay for the rest of it.

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YTD Submissions, Acceptances, and Rejections: June, 2020

tally marksSubmissions:        87

Acceptances:          4

Rejections:            109

Good Rejections:   34

Publications              4

June turned out to be a mega-month for me, with three publications and what looks to be two more acceptances.

Ok, let’s call that 1.5.

1.25.

One of the acceptances is from a brand new magazine that will debut later this summer. Survivor Lit – does that not have me written all over it? I’m merely doing a book review, but I am pleased to be able review an anthology called Whatever Gets You Through: Twelve Survivors on Life After Sexual Assault. I gave the book a thumb’s up, particularly for the reader who is new to their recovery, or wondering if they are a survivor. (It could be quite triggering.)

The reason I put this piece at “.5” of an acceptance is that the editor has not given it the final-final OK. No counting those little chickies yet! 

The other publication given a partial point looks like it has a good chance, but a fairly significant revision has yet to be OK’d. The graphic to the right should give you hint about context.

FINALLY: a most excellent rejection on an essay from The Missouri Review, considered by some to be #15 in the county when it comes to literary nonfiction.

We were delighted to have the chance to consider “Goddess of Mercy! The Painful Durability of Addiction” for publication.

This piece was remarkable, you have a very compelling writing style that we all enjoyed in this piece. The contemporary allusions and journey made us, as readers, feel like we were experiencing someone’s modern adventure gone awry. However, the ending of the story made us feel as though more could have happened. Often in the short stories we most consider, endings that do not go the way our characters envisioned, or a lack of understanding keeps the reader asking questions long after having read it.

The Eds.
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The story behind “We Sharpened Our Needles on Stones.”

We Sharpened Our Needles on Stones is truly a different kind of fiction for me. I put myself firmly another’s shoes, to the point of using the first person. The basis for the piece came during my research trip to Thailand and Cambodia, last year.

The afternoon before I was to fly home from Thailand, I met with a group of three men at the Asian Network of People Who Use Drugs; aka: ANPUD– an organization I found on these inter-webs before leaving Seattle. I explained my book project, Crazy Medicine. The ANPUD staff made themselves available to me for an entire afternoon.

Entering the offices of an organization called People Who Use Drugs, I had no idea what to expect. I had explained in advance that I had no moral issues around whatever it was that they did; I just wouldn’t be doing any of it with them. The strongest thing they offered me was coffee.

The three men in the office knew as little about what to expect from me as I did about what to expect from them.  Quietly, graciously, each man opened up, sharing personal, political, and organizational stories.

The third to speak began, “I come from middle class family” – a phrase he used several times as he shared his story. He had given me a ruby.

Of course, it took the usual hundreds of revisions to churn out the piece that was finally printed in Spelk. Over the course those hundreds, certain elements of the other men’s stories filtered in, plus my own ideas. But I remain grateful to the ANPUD fellows for their honesty. openness, and willingness.

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By The Numbers: “We Sharpened Our Needles on Stones.”

We Sharpened Our Needles on Stones was not accepted until the 35th submission. You know what they say: 35th a charm.

needles-on-stones-2“We Sharpened Our Needles” was dismissed without comment some heavy-hitters such as Georgia Review and Cincinnati Review; I did, however receive a personal note from the fiction editor at the Redivider: “I hope you’ll consider submitting to us again in the future.” From the exciting Canadian magazine NUNUM, an unidentified darling sent many notes, plus “looking forward to seeing more of your work in the future.” Electric Literature extended the same kindness with their rejection.

I cannot say how pleased I am that this piece ran in Spelk – which means something like a sliver of wood from a fence that sticks in your palm. Spelk is considered one of the top places on the web for flash fiction. I am honored to be a part of this issue.