A Word on Submissions, Women’s Writing Week…and the Pushcart Prize!

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Throw ALL THE RULES OUT; forget grammar, syntax, sentence diagramming (If you didn’t balk at sentence diagramming in school, then we cannot be friends), and I’d say spelling, but I kind of like a writer who can spell. But I will implore you to turn off or ignore that auto spell-check on Word or on your phones. It’s correct a lot of the time, but it also can distract you and suggest corrections that take away from your original intent.

Please, please KNOW that I don’t give a shit about what the literary magazines next-door are doing.

Oh, they publish monthly?

Okay, well we publish all the time.

They only accept X, Y , and Z?

This is Sick Lit Magazine. Not the next-door literary journal.

I don’t believe in automated DMs and automated rejection letters.

I also don’t believe that I’m somehow better than my contributors; if you spot a typo or an error in your work that we’ve published, SPEAK UP! E-mail me! I don’t give a shit who you are–you don’t have to be of the male gender to feel confident enough to reach out to me. STOP it with the self-doubt. PLEASE.

And like Prerna Bakshi, I, too, am a feminist. With that being said, I NEED to see more female contributors.

I can’t believe the lack of women who have sent in their work to me; I’ve read studies on it, et al, but to see it in real life is completely different.

It makes me upset.

One female contributor first sent me her AMAZING submission with the body of the e-mail stating, “I am keeping my expectations low, but here is my work.”

Do you know how many MEN have said ANYTHING remotely close to this?


And what’s even worse is that at least she had the gall to send something in, even if she was self-deprecating about it. Other women just sit back and think, she won’t publish this. 

This line of thinking HAS to end somewhere. 


I’m not saying these things to shame you. I want this to change; even if it only changes here at SLM, that’s okay with me. YOUR WRITING IS GOOD ENOUGH; we are all writers here. If your writing is rough, I will send back some proposed edits or guide you in the right direction and implore you to send in another piece of writing–this is more than just some quirky lit journal. This is a literary revolution. I don’t care how many rejections you’ve gotten; or how many “Jessica Faust”s sent you angry e-mails about how and why they hated your work.



Look, I know I’m mouthy, I curse a lot, and I can come across as tough or unfriendly, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Once I submitted a novel excerpt of mine to a “quirky” journal that described itself much like we describe ourselves here at SLM. They sent me the coldest rejection letter: “Um, no thanks.  Why don’t you take a moment to read some of the work we’ve published?”

I did.

And it was a bunch of discombobulated, half-legible, nonsensical bullshit.

Imagine an ENTIRE PAGE filled with 20 thousand words that don’t connect into one sentence. EVER.

That’s not quirky. That’s a literary 9th circle of hell.

Anyone can sit down and write a string of words. But how many people can convey that feeling of longing for someone so badly that it hurts, in that place down deep inside, the one where we feel nervousness, heat and passion? 

“She’s eating a caramel. I want to challenge that caramel to a street brawl for the right to be in her mouth. Be warned, delectable foe, my left hook is a funeral….She unwraps another one. Please stop, I don’t say. Quit chewing so enthusiastically, I don’t say. Get focused and analyze me, rip my inner-walls apart with dictionary words and textbook insight. Conversation is a plunge into affectionate waters. Let go and let me in.” – via Chris Milam’s “There is Wreckage” that we published on Friday, December 4th.

Now THAT is real.

THAT makes you FEEL something.

DON’T WRITE WHAT you THINK I want you to write; write what YOU WRITE.

Un-learn that regimented, grade school, mandated type of thinking that we are so programmed to gobble up and continue to implement into every facet of our lives; and on into adulthood.

I will help you to shatter that mold. And together, I think we are beginning to really see some signs of life here at SLM. Together, we are doing some amazing work.

I want to see more of it. I want to see less societal influence on our everyday behavior and the way we think as women; we aren’t basic bitches or whores or bitches with resting bitch face. 

Write what you really want to but have been afraid to; because of some fear that you may be called a name or exposed somehow. Write about how that bulge in his pants made you flutter and squirm. Write about the way you felt when he said your name. Write about violence and passion and write without hesitation. Put the words on paper and don’t look back. Write about that revenge fantasy you have but have never had the guts to say out loud. 

Shatter the mold with us.

***Our OPEN SUBMISSIONS CALL will officially close on DECEMBER 31st. (IF you have been previously published by us, then you may continue to submit during this time.) We will re-open for submissions again on January 31st, while we take the month to revamp the web site a bit and publish some experimental, edgy pieces that have been sort of waiting in the wings.***

PUSHCART PRIZE! So, as a new publication that just started publishing consistent work from writers (e.g., poetry, fiction, flash fiction, essays, etc.) in November, we missed the cutoff for this year’s nominations for the Pushcart Prize. HOWEVER, for those of you with whom I have spoken about being nominated for next year’s Pushcart Prize; that still stands. And, in fact, I will now announce who I have chosen so far

  1. Prerna Bakshi‘s collection of poetry, including “Coming Out, What Will be Left Behind?, Thirst, A recurring question, My grandparents’ letters and Gone and Buried.”

  2. Chris Milam‘s short story, “There is Wreckage.”

  3. Ron Gibson‘s poem, “After the Storm.”

CONGRATULATIONS!! There are still three spots left open that we have time to fill. I’m confident that between the pieces we have already published and our yet-to-be-published works, we’ll easily fill these three spots.

And a very huge congrats to our only Pushcart Prize nominee who was able to make it to post in time this year, ANNABEL BANKS’S story “Harmless.”

Congratulations on the nomination, Annabel! KEEP up your phenomenal work and that gracious, giving, energetic spirit of yours; I see some great things happening for you.

Don’t forget that next week is Women’s Fiction/Workplace Tell-All week, and the week after that is our Coming of Age week. KEEP SUBMITTING! We dig what we’re reading and publishing. Send all submissions to kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com 


Peace and love,


Kelly on behalf of SLM



3 Replies to “A Word on Submissions, Women’s Writing Week…and the Pushcart Prize!”

  1. I LOVED reading this!!!It almost made we want to write something, lol! Seriously we need more female submissions to every type of public offering. This is trend is prevalent in the world of visual art as well and it can be the most frustrating experience. Women have a voice that needs to be heard but women are indoctrinated to feel inferior. We are not inferior. We are, different in a most positive way. We are different because we have a history of striving through oppression and supporting the men in in our lives. Women are supportive of our children, husbands, and our public and religious leaders. This support should extend to each other. Thank you Kelly, for the invitation to submit to Sick Lit. It is a daily fight to overcome my own insecurities about my work just like so many artists engage in. Support from people and publications such as this make the fight manageable and possibly unnecessary in the future.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I couldn’t agree more! Enough with tearing each other down and more unnecessary discouraging of women in the arts. I’m out to change it. Fuck everyone else. If they want to applaud and condone misogyny, then they’re all assholes. We work so hard and are shut down twice as much. That won’t be happening here.

      Liked by 1 person

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