Hey, What if we Just Started Over? – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Coody

Hear me out.  I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently.

I know I’ve (we’ve) had lots of “almost shutting down” forks in the road, submissions email changes, editorial staffing and contributor changes, and a lot of confusion about themes, no themes, what status your work is in at the moment, etc, etc, etc ….. And you can basically just continue that ellipsis until infinity. Some of that comes with the whole “online-indie-lit-mag” territory. I’m simplifying some really important points, then I will promptly move it to our submissions guidelines page and we will move forward from there.

Here are some guidelines-slash-pointers moving forward with the new SLM: 

  1. FORGET past submissions that you never heard back from me or any other editor about. Just put it on a metaphorical (or maybe an actual) shelf for now. Otherwise, we’re all going to be chasing our tails forever. No thanks.
  2. If you submit and you don’t hear back from me, dude, you’ve got to relax. Do not chase me down on Facebook, Twitter, insert other social media here, or send e-mails to my personal e-mail. It’s just NOT okay. I have children, i.e., a family, too, just like you. I am busy trying my damnedest to make their childhood great and I also work a full-time job so I can put food on the table.
  3. Most definitely don’t establish a great working relationship with me and then post disparaging comments about the web site and how SLM is suddenly “the worst.” Dude, guess what? It’s still literally just me. It is me who is approving that comment you wrote. And it sucks. Don’t do it. Write me an e-mail. And don’t be a jerk.
  4. Don’t take advantage of my openness and generosity. If you send me plagiarized work and I publish it, I WILL find out about it.
  5. Basically, let’s wipe the damn slate clean and start writing again.

One more really important thing that I must touch on before we get to the fun part: 

TIMELINE and GUIDELINES: 

  • I don’t know when I will get back to you after you submit your work. It could be that same day. It might be a month later. If a really, really long time has passed, it’s safe to assume that it didn’t quite work.
  • WE DO NOT publish books, book-length material, nor do we review books at this time.
  • We DO accept simultaneous submissions and reprinted material.

Now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I want from you and here’s where I want you to send it: 

  • I know, I know, yet another new email. Just think of it as an official way to wipe the slate clean: kmfitzharris@gmail.com
  • What do I want? I still want originality, I still want writing that is genuine, sincere, and writing that is specific to the genre of YOU (meaning write what you write, not what you think I want you to write).
  • What do I look for in your submissions email? Be yourself. Don’t try to pitch me your writing or sell it to me – you are good enough just as you are. Be candid and tell me what’s up and why you’re submitting your work to me. You can either put your submission in the body of your email or attach it as a word doc. Please, no PDFs.
  • Word count: Unless it’s a Gone-Girl caliber page-turning suspenseful roller-coaster ride, for the love of God and all things holy, don’t send me 30 pages. Honestly, don’t send 20! Unless I get lost reading your work and can’t even tell what page I’m on, which is awesome, those are way too long for an online literary magazine. And it takes time away from other submissions I could be reading.
  • Genre / type of work: Really, anything and everything. Poetry, fiction, prose-poetry, erasure poetry, abstract art, photography, fan art for this magazine, a series of cool old letters that you found in a drawer in your attic, an op-ed, a personal essay, non-fiction, LGBTQ, flash fiction, fan fiction.

Have fun writing and be sure to submit your work to me at kmfitzharris@gmail.com

Happy writing!

I will talk to you soon,

 

IMG_5716

Kelly Fitzharris Coody,

Editor-in-Chief

Advertisements

Important Updates, Announcements, and More About Submissions! – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

MAN, you guys are KILLING IT with these submissions – and I’m not exaggerating. The pieces I’ve been accepting are all SO DIFFERENT from one another, but they’re poignant, fresh, and remind me of the reason I started Sick Lit Magazine just about two years ago.

Nicole Ford Thomas has not “left the building” – she and I are still working closely together here at SLM. She’s now the Creative Director, where I let her spread her wings and expand her mind, allowing her ideas and her imagination to grow and flourish. This brings me to my next point: Nicole will be writing a regular column for SLM called Letters From Left Field. 

Along with that, we’re starting our own advice column called Ask The Redheads – When in Doubt? Bitch it out! All questions will be anonymous and will be posted on the site with both mine and Nicole’s input. Any advice questions should be sent to sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com with “Ask The Redheads” in the subject line. You’ll be notified if we pick your question to be featured and also (for a few, select scenarios) enlist a group of your peers help Nicole and myself in our advice to you.

So, now, along with fresh poetry and fiction, we’ll be providing even more fun content for you to delve into!

I’m going to start posting some of your pieces for our “New Beginnings” theme either tomorrow or over the long weekend, so you’ll have something exciting and new to read. I woke up earlier this week with two fairly painful infections (of course, right? Why wouldn’t I? Ha!); I’ve received antibiotics and am hoping to be on the mend by Saturday. If not, I’ll start posting your work on Sunday.  Don’t worry, guys. We’ll get everything up and running soon.

To some of you who haven’t received a response yet: bear with me. I will get to you, I promise.

Who’s excited?

Who’s ready to write again, and actually enjoy it this time? As I’ve said before, throw out that “literary agent jargon” that’s peddled as “Professional advice.”

If I’m being completely candid, I want you to forget EVERYTHING and write me a bold, passionate piece (and then of course, send it to sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com) and if nothing else, your enthusiasm and love for writing will shine through.

Be on the lookout for Nicole’s New Column, Our Advice Column, and some excellent prose and poetry.

Nicole and I sort of have an affinity for all things “fall.” We’re excited for these next few issues and what’s to come for all of us here at SLM!

 

IMG_5716

Cheers, guys! And good luck submitting!

Kelly

(Above: a photo of me ‘at the office’)

 

 

Calling All Writers! Step “Write” up and get yourself some SLM Announcements! – Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief

Here’s to Life, Literature, and bringing the spirit of SLM back!

 

Sometimes, we’re trying so hard to open a figurative closed door in our lives that we fail to look behind us to see a brand-new, shining, glassed-in sun-room. Forget that old window analogy; this time after God has closed the door, he’s opened up the entire back of your house.

The past is done; it’s gone. We cannot change it, nor can we live there. This is why it’s so important to live in the here and the now and to do your best to see that rainbow while you’re stuck in the mud.

I’m sure you’ve noticed my name change up above – I’M MARRIED! And it is a happy time for me and my family. Soon, I’ll be Kelly Faulk.

Onto the magazine!

I will officially be re-opening shop so to speak for submissions starting NOW and staying open until the end of October of 2017 for short prose (just don’t send me 30 pages) and poetry.

I do have a few themes up my sleeve:

Good VS Evil

New Beginnings

Strength in the face of Adversity 

 

You may begin to submit to any or ALL of these themes as soon as you are ready to do so to: sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com

*Now, remember: When submitting your work to the magazine, please, please, PLEASE, write the genre and theme somewhere in or on your email, write to me as yourself, and be as frank or as candid as you’d like.

Reminder: I want YOUR work. Write as YOU; write what you write best and write the hell out of it.

My mission and my intent have never been to conform to the rest of the literary world; on the contrary, I want to serve as a guide, a mentor, a coach, and a voice of reason in a world filled with chaos and closed doors. Unless I suspect you *might* be a serial killer aside from your day job, I usually make every effort to email you back as soon as I can and to provide you with my enthusiastic feedback, critiques, praises, what have you.

I’m starting this fall with a clean slate and a fresh outlook. If you’ve sent in work before and it’s gone unnoticed and you feel that it’s good and fits one of the themes, send it again. This year has scrambled us all up a bit to say the least. So let’s just start over.

Here’s to new beginnings, a brighter tomorrow, and the freedom to express ourselves.

Cheers,

dkweddingggggggg

Kelly

September: Let’s walk, talk, and de-stress – Kelly Coody, Editor in Chief

Want To Cut in the Submissions Line? Here are a Few Tips –

 

We are not your cookie-cutter magazine; the things I’m about to share with you are only applicable to your submissions to us here at SLM.

  1. The more we get to know about you in your email, the better! That not only tells us about you as an individual and as a writer, but puts your writing and/or art into context for us.
  2. The more specific you are in the subject line, the quicker we’ll be to open the email. (e.g., specify the theme you’re submitting to, genre, etc.)
  3. If you’re already a reader of SLM, tell us that! If we talked on Facebook via the “Facebook Messenger App” or whatever the hell that is, Twitter, either through Tweets or DMs, or have had ANY sort of interaction, mention it in your email!!! I can’t stress this enough – due to wacky usernames on Twitter, I have no way of putting it together that you’re @RandoWriter and that we Tweet back and forth all the time, therefore making my tone automatically seem cold to you.
  4. Embrace the culture here — we love the process of engaging with you. If you’ve been rejected 5,000 times and hate everyone, again, TELL ME THAT! I’m not every other editor. We are not every other magazine.
  5. Forget about trying to sound professional in your email; be yourself. If your attached artwork, story/stories, or poems have an interesting backstory or are close to your heart, this is all stuff we’d like to know.
  6. There’s no way you can get too personal in your email to us – well, yes there is, but never mind that for now- I was once rejected by an agent for mentioning how nice her curly hair looked in comparison to my ’80’s hair band-look when I rolled out of bed in the morning – and then, said agent went on to post a long letter about what crosses the line and what doesn’t. I felt like an idiot, sitting there reading that, with my cheeks stinging.
  7. Throw away your “industry-standards” rule-book or guidebook and be real. and know that both myself AND Melissa are writers just like you and that we occasionally wear our hearts on our sleeves as well.
  8. As hard as Melissa has worked with me to monetize this web site, it takes time (a long time, apparently) for us to see any money, let alone a profit, so understand that we work hard – nights, weekends, and sometimes at the expense of our health, sanity and families, in order to make sure SLM happens every day – and all without seeing a dime. Unless one catches our eye from the couch cushions – but that’s more likely to happen than the former. If you get a grouchy or grumpy email from one of us, be patient. We are still only human, after all. We’re not perfect.

Every writer has a unique process and style. Embrace that. Un-learn what you’ve been “told” to think and, instead, work with us as we all re-train our brains how to think.

Writing and reading alike need to be thought of as an adventure again, as fun, like it used to be. I’m here to revive and breathe fresh air back into a decaying, atrophying contemporary literature scene where everyone seems to be perpetually angry or perpetually snobby, eager for any reason to figuratively click the “no” button in response to our work.

I want you to have FUN writing to these upcoming themes – not plagued by doubt the whole time you’re writing, afraid you’re wasting your time. You are not wasting your time – we sincerely NEED writing for all six of our upcoming themes.

Here are our themes: (Note, we’ve chosen two per month starting in October to give you a choice!)

September: Voima Oy’s WHAT IF?

October: Jeffrey H Toney , PhD’s EPIPHANY, OR Paul Beckman’s It Began in an Elevator…

November: Carrie Redway’s ANCESTRAL GEMS or Carrie Redway’s DROUGHT

December: Penny Barratt’s AMBIGUITY or Ani Keaten’s PHOTOGRAPH

I also need to acknowledge the elephant in the room. {He’s starving – hang on – I keep forgetting about him…} We have a new staff member here at SLM! Welcome Justin Hunter to the editing team and congratulate him! Justin won an Assistant Editor position here with us because of his persistence, eagerness and tenacity. He will do a fantastic job here helping Melissa and me with SLM’s submissions process, social media, and he will be another friendly face who’s eager to learn more about you and the way we operate here.

Say hello, especially if you’re a regular contributor, get to know him – and continue to get to know Melissa, especially if you haven’t already – they are both insanely talented and I feel so lucky to have them both on my team at SLM. 

BTW, if you haven’t heard, there’s rumor going around that we are to be having a t-shirt design competition that starts in September, where YOU, the READERS are going to cast votes to choose the winning design. I am so excited about this – it’s new to us – and to the Kean University design students. This will undoubtedly challenge and enlighten all of us and I can’t wait for the process to begin, alongside our literary theme schedule. [Big thanks to Dr. Toney, once again!]

Great things are in store, guys – and it’s still only the beginning. 

Cheers, guys.

kellyphoto7

What’s the deal with these themes?! – Kelly Coody, Editor in Chief

Let’s talk. 

Themes.

It started over the 2015-2016 holiday season when I got on a creative whim and started with flash fiction week, then poetry week, then women’s writing week, and so on and so on.

Then I turned it over to you guys to decide some themes – I turned it into a contest where each winning theme would be a month long and would be named after the winners. (Kate Jones’s Invisibility Theme, Santino Prinzi’s Perceptions Theme, Voima Oy’s What if? theme, Chris Iacono’s First Love Theme, Rob True’s The Journey Theme, etc, etc.)

The upcoming themes are undoubtedly more specific and difficult. The upcoming themes (October of 2016 through December of 2016) were also chosen by a contest and will be named after the winners just like before.

Why have I chosen such “difficult themes?”

Remember that editor’s letter where I said that I view SLM like the continuation of My So-Called Life’s Liberty Lit? It’s an episode where the substitute comes into the classroom, shakes up the way they think about writing and changes their minds; and their hearts. First, he strips everyone’s writing down to bare bones. Then he builds them back up, has them fine tune it.

That’s what I’m doing.

I started out by having you throw away the rule-book and write from your heart. Then, I added in some themes to guide you. Now, I’m choosing themes that will challenge you.

If you think of some classic / common archetypes in literature, though, such as love, war, a journey, good versus evil, the initiation, the fall, coming of age, honoring your historical past, alienation / ostracism,  etc, our upcoming winning themes ALL can fall under one of these broader archetypes in one way or another.

October: Jeffrey H Toney , PhD’s Epiphany (this is already a classic archetype in themes, but can be a sub-type of coming of age, loss of innocence, survival of the fittest, struggle with self, the power of love, the power of nature, etc.)

October: Paul Beckman’s writing prompt: It began in an elevator (Not a classic archetype, but one hell of a writing prompt. If you get writer’s block, this is a great one to go with.)

November: Carrie Redway’s Ancestral Gems (A sub-type of honoring your historical past, struggle with self, the fall, initiation, etc.)

November: Carrie Redway’s Drought (A sub-type of Alienation / Isolation, the power of nature, the struggle with nature, struggle with self, the fall, war, good vs. evil, disillusionment, etc.)

December: Penny Barratt’s Ambiguity (A sub-type of anything, really; loss of innocence, disillusionment with life, good vs. evil, tolerance of the atypical)

December: Ani Keaten’s Photograph  (Love, war, the effect of scientific progress [technological advances], historical past, family, struggle with self, disillusionment with life, etc.)

We’ve chosen two per month to give you guys a choice; that way, if your writing doesn’t fall into, let’s say, the EPIPHANY category for October, you can submit to Paul Beckman’s writing prompt.

I didn’t do this to make it more complicated; I did this to add choice and variety–to add color.

But based on our recent submissions drought, I’m starting to think there are a few things I need to clarify or ask for your feedback on.

An archetype is an archetype — it’s just a thing — my book can fall under struggle with self, good vs. evil, coming of age, loss of innocence, and many more. Think of it in broader terms, not the word, but the multiple meanings the word holds.

Also, forgive me for deviating a bit here, but why is it important to stick to a “classical archetype?” Why not do something different? It almost feels as if someone read all the books that have inhabited schools’ assigned reading lists for the past two decades and then chose story-line archetypes based on those books.

So many of the books that were “assigned reading” were books that I deemed highly inappropriate for my age group. Ahem, Huckelberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, The Scarlet Letter? 

Also: there is so much censorship out there just for the sake of censorship. I read a list yesterday of literary journals that were considered “inclusive.” Apparently using curse words is something that serves to disqualify us from being considered inclusive? I’m not sure how saying the word damn does this, or who gets to say what the rules are, but we are open-minded and open for submissions.

In order to put an end to our submissions drought, as of now we are running a contest for BEST SUBMISSION in each theme category! We will be picking SIX WINNERS and naming them along with all SIX of our Pushcart Prize Nominees next month.

OCTOBER: Epiphany OR It began in an elevator…

NOVEMBER: Ancestral Gems OR Drought

DECEMBER: Photograph OR Ambiguity

Send all submissions to sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com and specify your theme in the subject line. Just as a refresher, we are open to all types of submissions, including fiction, flash fiction, poetry, essays, art and photography.

I can’t wait to read your submissions!

Let’s get inspired today!

Cheers,

Peace and Love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

kellyphoto7

 

 

Submissions: FAQs, Deadlines and What’s Really Up

‘Tis a new year. ‘Tis the time to revamp and re-explain the submissions process. I understand it can be a bit confusing when I have monthly themes going on for most of 2016. I’m not trying to make it difficult; readers and writers alike tend to get excited when there are themes happening, so I wanted to try this as an experiment.

 

 

  1. I don’t understand how to write to a theme. How do I do that? It makes me feel so intimidated. 

 

Well, then, get the theme’s idea out of your head. Wipe that slate clean and write what YOU write and write it well. Send it in (in a word doc PLEASE ::SMILEY FACE::) to me directly at kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com

2. I want to submit to a theme, but what are they? When are they? Can I submit to a later one now? What the hell? 

All valid questions, all valid concerns. Here is the theme schedule:

February: INVISIBILITY (chosen by contributor Kate Jones)

March: WOMEN’S WRITING MONTH (chosen by…me?)

April: LETTING GO (chosen by contributor Hillary Umland)

May: NOSTALGIA (chosen by contributor Gene Farmer)

June: FIRST LOVE (chosen by contributor Christopher Iacono)

July: THE JOURNEY (chosen by contributor Rob True)

August: PERCEPTIONS (chosen by Tino Prinzi)

September: WHAT IF? (chosen by @voimaoy)

You may submit to any of these themes starting January 31st until February 28th. I like to take things one month at a time. SO, I will implore you to submit for WOMEN’S WRITING MONTH and INVISIBILITY MONTH starting NOW. All I need you to do is write the theme you are contributing to in the headline.

March 15th we will re-open for submissions and stay open for an amount of time that is for now TBD, during which time you may also submit to all remaining themes.

3. Do you have a word-count limit? What about margins, etc? 

Dear Lord. We don’t have any of that shit. I refuse to stifle my artists’ creativity by setting stupid margin specifications. Ridiculous. And as for word count, it depends on the piece of work, honestly, man. Flash fiction is really popular with our writers and readers, but then again, so is regular fiction. So, write what YOU write. Attachments are fine. I don’t mind PDFs, but be prepared to send me a word doc of the same thing if we are going to publish you.

4. So, what kind of work do you publish? 

Fiction, non-fiction, essays, poetry, abstract poetry, art. Here at Sick Lit Magazine, we make it our mission for the sky to be our limit. We can do anything when we break down these walls that have been superimposed upon us our entire lives. Fuck formatting. Fuck margins. Throw it out the window and write what other people won’t. Write things that scare you and excite you.

5. Why submit to you? 

Why not? We get international traffic and have an amazing network of supportive writers and artists; and I stand behind all of my writers’ work. It may be diverse as hell, but it should be that way. I am a liberal feminist to the core.

Listen, if you’re a writer, you have a burning talent inside you that needs to get out. Put a pen to paper or put your hands on a keyboard and just go–and don’t censor yourself–not even for a second. The minute you do, you won’t do justice to your characters or your story.

Any suit-wearing moron can string words together in an e-mail and make it sound cheery and half-way motivational. But how many people can convey emotions in a way that make your cheeks flush?

I am here at Sick Lit Magazine to bring REAL writing and REAL literature back into the hands of the public; not mass-marketed, watered-down bullshit that they pedal from “Writer’s Digest.” A recent piece of advice from them to get published was: “No longer is it acceptable for a book to ‘get good’ ten pages in.” Following this advice, we wouldn’t have any of our classics that we know and love today. Following this advice, Catch-22 is out. And how many would-be classics are being passed over because of this line of thinking?

Write with passion, write what you’ve always wanted to, write with soul and stand behind your work.

If I am not a big fan of what you’ve sent me (I’m a real person, I e-mail back, I promise), I’ll tell you edits I’d propose and ask you what else you’ve got. I’m not other literary journals.

 

If you have any other questions, feel free to send them to my e-mail, which again is kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com

Cheers,

Peace and Love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

FullSizeRender (47)

Submissions? Yes, please.

I know, I know, I originally said we were closed to all non-solicited submissions until January 31st. I changed my mind. We have a themed month coming up, Kate Jones’s “Invisibility” theme for February. If you know anything about me or SLM, you’ll know that I will encourage you to interpret this loosely, much like I interpret the bible (haha?). Invisibility can be the way you feel when you’re hurting or depressed; the way that people seem to flee when they see you coming and you’re in a bad mood. It can also be the way we’re treated as women sometimes, especially when it comes to the workplace and our children. It can be interpreted into a horror story. Invisibility is such a great theme because it encompasses SO MANY other themes. So, at this time, if you have not been invited to submit or have not been previously published by SLM, you MAY SUBMIT FOR THE THEME OF INVISIBILITY. (Please send all submissions to me directly at kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com )

It may sound comical, but I got my latest bit of writing inspiration from an episode of Arthur that my kids were watching yesterday. One of the characters, Sue Ellen, met the author of Coraline.

He told her that everyone has a story to tell; everyone’s story is unique.

She had a concern. “But some people don’t like it.”

“Not everyone will like your story,” he said. So true. “But your story still needs to be told. It needs to be heard. And it will eventually find the right audience.”

I was standing in the kitchen scrubbing old oatmeal out of not one, but THREE bowls (hell might be cleaning old oatmeal out of bowls, I’m fairly certain) when I heard this, not thinking much of it.

But the more that it sank in, the more riled up I got.

I woke up this morning with the words still stuck in my head.

As a writer myself (and journalist and editor), I’m GREAT at inspiring you guys to send in your writing and boosting you up. However, am I so great at doing the same for myself? Not really. When I see the numbers that my own fiction gets compared to some of yours, I can’t lie and say that it doesn’t bother me or discourage me, as silly as that may sound.

There’s never a rhyme or reason necessarily when a piece of art, poetry, fiction, etc, gets hardly any views versus getting a lot of views.

Most often, the hardest advice to follow is your own.

Give me a piece of writing that came from the heart that needs a few semicolons instead of commas ANY DAY over a piece of over-edited, mass-marketed CRAP. I’m serious. When I call myself the editor, I’m not saying that to self-glorify. I edit a lot of the work that you read on here; and that’s OKAY. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Don’t call yourself an editor if all you did was copy and paste it and ADD typos. (It’s happened to me.)

ALL OF YOU are contributors to a truly one-of-a-kind, passionate, transparent publication that is unapologetic for what it is. And I continuously find myself humbled and honored to be at the receiving end of your submissions. As I’ve said a million times and will say a million times more, I don’t understand the editors who seem like they hate their jobs. When my inbox is inundated with submissions, I am happy. That means that things are going well.

Having too much content to choose from is a gift from the gods! It’s not a burden. And the moment that it becomes a burden is the moment that I think the editor job is no longer the right job for you. It’s true. Even for me.

***

Peace and Love, SLM team 🙂

Cheers!

Your loving editor,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

FullSizeRender (47)