Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Slice of Life for Writers

There is a new literary magazine called "Slice" out now which is the brainchild of two book editors, Maria Gagliano and Celia Johnson. They know how hard it is for new authors to break into the world of publishing so their mission is to "pave a space for these writers who may not have a platform but show the kind of talent that could be the substance of great works in the future. We are equally dedicated to celebrating established writers, whose work moves beyond the boundaries of writing to not only redefine literature, but to inspire new voices to grow." They came up with the idea for this magazine while they were both editors working together at Random House.

On their website, they proclaim that "Slice is a new literary magazine created to provide a forum for dynamic conversations between emerging and established authors." Their first issue was made available this past September. When putting together their first issue, they decided that established writers would help draw attention to the newer talents. So the inaugural issue spotlights Junot Díaz who's first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead Books), has been garnering praise from all of the major critics. Check out their very cool website.

The magazine is currently accepting material for their March, 2008 issue. The theme for article submissions is "Heroes." Slice magazine welcomes short fiction, nonfiction, and novellas for serialization. They are looking for anyone with a fresh voice and a compelling story to share but are not currently looking at experimental or "heavy-handed" genre fiction. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable as long as they are notified immediately if the work is selected for publication elsewhere. All submissions should be previously unpublished. All submissions must be submitted electronically, in the body of an email. Be sure to include detailed contact information. Please allow two to three months for them to reply to your submission. They are currently unable to pay for published material, but hope to reward writers by creating a wide audience of readers. Please send submissions to

Because they are a brand new magazine, it looks like they are cautiously testing the waters. Their publishing schedule is only twice a year in March and September. So submissions will probably be very high. But to anyone out there with short stories, please check them out. As they grow, hopefully they can expand their publishing schedule and eventually pay their writers.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Scary Mary

Last time I posted the Shining's recut trailer. A horror movie made to look like a sweet family comedy. This time I have the beloved Mary Poppins movie recut and called "Scary Mary."

The beauty of these recut movie trailers are how misleading they are. If you watch the Shining recut and expect a happy family drama, you are going to be incredibly surprised with the real movie. Similarly, if you expect a horror film with the Scary Mary trailer, finding yourself in a Disney musical would be quite a culture shock. So how does this relate to writing?

Have you ever read a book jacket and been excited about the story only to find the book didn't live up to the promises? Or the book cover has nothing to do with the story inside? I have had this happen several times, to the point where I wonder if the people designing the book packaging actually read the book they are working on.

And I thought this could also happen in the whole query process. Think about it, writing a good query letter is incredibly hard. Trying to make it as interesting as possible so we can snag an agent's attention is our entire objective. Sometimes you want to make it sexier, more unique, maybe more so than your actual book really is. But we have to be sure that the query letter lives up to the manuscript in order to avoid being misleading. Would we even know if we are being a little misleading in an attempt to get agent's attention in the first place? And is it ok to make it a little sexier than your actual book? Perhaps the tell tale sign is in the correlation of rejections to partials or fulls read. Maybe there is a sign in there.

I think my query letter lives up to my manuscript. I feel very comfortable about it. But then again, maybe I'm pulling a Scary Mary.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I left the copier jammed...

So, last night I was at the faculty office and needed to make a bunch of copies for class. The office has these new copiers that are, how do you say, um, ABSOLUTE CRAP! Every time I tried to make a copy, it would jam somewhere in some impenetrable nether region of copier hell and I would spend 10 minutes opening and shutting various different compartments over and over again before getting it to work only to find it jams 2 copies later! F**k me! Frustrated, I gave up and informed my work colleagues that I had jammed the copier. When I went back to my desk, this wonderful and memorable video was in my email, courtesy of my colleague. Thanks Jason!

Man, oh man, I loved these commercials when they first aired! I am so glad we can see them whenever we want on YouTube. I have to say my all time favorite Terry Tate quotes that I used to go around saying all the time:

1. Break was over 15 minutes ago, Bitch!

2. You can't cut the cheese whereever you please! That's just nasty!

3. You can't make a pass and pinch Pablo's ass!

Ah, the good old days! Well, although I did jam the copier, at least I told everyone I did it. But we all know those office slackers that drive you crazy. Like the faculty member who left a dirty cup of rancid nastiness on the faculty desk for me to find. Errrrr. Or the person who farted in the stairwell above me even though they could hear me coming up so that I walked into the evil stank of his ass. Where's Terry when you need him.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

I am Writer hear me Roar...

Lisa Kenney has a great meme today about what are her five writing strengths. Unfortunately she then tagged me for it and I found myself at a loss. I really don't know if I could come up with five things that I would consider a strength in my writing. Why? Because I don't think I've been proven on any of it yet.

If you were to ask me what were my five strengths as a lawyer I could answer quickly and surely. I am an excellent legal draftsman (if you need a contract, I'm your man, er - you know what I mean), I am an excellent negotiater, I am extremely no nonsense, I can be intimidating (important in certain situations), and I can be quite compassionate (important in others). And I know these are my strengths from all my years of working and peformance reviews and promotions, etc. But creative writing? I honestly don't know that I can answer this. How can I with no publication credits to my name yet?

Maybe this is where my analytical, black and white mind fails me. Where I feel it would be somehow wrong to list strengths when they have not been proven to me as such. This is not some form of humble pie, cause humble isn't really in my vocabulary. Just how my weird brain thinks on things.

So what can I say that has been proven to my satisfaction? This is what I came up with.

1. I have very thick skin. Not only is thick skin essential for surviving as a writer, but it is proven to repel wrinkles and stretch marks.

2. I am a meticulous researcher. If I have a character chewing gum, rest assured that I would have researched the exact type of gum, from flavor to appearance and who made them at what period of time, and the exact composition of the gum including what particular sapodilla tree in Central America the latex sap came from. No one scratches their ass or picks their nose in my WIP without me researching it first. I take my ass scratching very seriously.

3. I learn more about my craft from reading others all the time. Lisa said this too and I completely agree. How can you write if you don't read? I say this to my students who are afraid of writing. For them, since they are writing academic papers, I always remind them to read the paper or news magazines and journals every day so that their writing will improve. Right now, I think alot of them only read the National Enquirer or nothing at all, if their papers are any indication of their reading.

4. I enjoy editing. I really do. I love tightening and tightening and tightening - sort of like a plastic surgeon on Joan Rivers face...

5. I enjoy writing. This is clearly a proven strength for a writer, right? I mean I'm not saying I do it well, I'm just saying I enjoy it. Love it actually. Writing feels good even during the times when it can be incredibly hard and frustrating. When all you have is one sentence out of hours of writing. It still feels great. And that's all I have to say about that.

To tag or not to tag, that is the question. Last time I did a blanket tag, not many played and I was deemed a spoilsport by some. But I like being a spoilsport so I think I shall blanket you all again! And as always, play if you want to or if you are like Charles at Razored Zen, you can always wear your "repel all tags" cloak. I hear it is pretty effective.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Walk on By

The last picture writing exercise was so successful my goal is now to do one every week. I was really amazed at the comments that came up last time which ranged from dark, to sweet, and from the profound to the hysterically funny.

So technically, I'm a bit early to be doing another image, but this isn't a writing exercise as much as one to provoke some thought. As you can see, it is a hard picture to look away from.

Walk on By
Copyright by Creativity+

When I came across this picture, it stopped me dead. I was moved by immense pity and by something akin to shame and remorse. Have I been one of those to walk on by? Did I turn a deaf ear to his pleas for spare change? Did I wrinkle my nose in disgust? Did I pretend not to see him? He is in every city and every country of the world. We all know of one just like him or her.

I wondered what his name might be, who he once was, what was his story? I wondered if once he had people who had cared for him. Where were they, what happened? Did he once have a house and family and dreams that all died, leaving him alone in the world?

His story whispers in my ear steadily whenever I stare at his picture. And I find myself talking to him. I wish I could buy you a decent meal. I wish I could give you a helping hand. But there are so many of you out there. What is the best way to help you all? I wish I knew.

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