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  • WE DO NOT publish books, book-length material, nor do we review books at this time.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,

 

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Kelly Fitzharris Coody,

Editor-in-Chief

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Allow me to Introduce Myself – Nikki rae Spano, Assistant Editor

Hi friends! I’m Nikki, I’m new to the SLM team, and I’m excited to be here.

 

Let me introduce myself. I was born and raised in Staten Island, NY; I’m currently living by the beach in New Jersey, and I’m planning on moving somewhere far away in the spring. Where exactly? I don’t know yet. It’s part of the adventure.

I got my Bachelor’s degree in English Literature, with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, from Chestnut Hill College, which probably none of you have heard of. It’s a tiny college on the outskirts of Philadelphia and it’s notorious for looking like Hogwarts.

I graduated in 2015 and my mind was set: I was going to get an internship at a publishing company and work my way up to the title of Editor. I fluffed up my resume. I applied to every publishing company in NYC that you’ve ever heard of, and then some. I went to the mall and bought the perfect suit for job interviews but I never got to wear it. It’s still hanging on the back of my bedroom door at my parents’ house with the tags on it.

At some point during the process of applying and reading job descriptions of the position I thought I wanted to end up in, I realized that it wasn’t at all what I thought it was, so I gave up. I got a shitty retail job and quit that to move to Jersey with the woman I (stupidly) thought I’d spend the rest of my life with. I ended up in the restaurant industry—which, if we’re being honest, is soul-crushing.

So there I was, heartbroken, angry, and alone, working in a restaurant at the Jersey Shore in the dead of winter.

Creeping into my consciousness was the thought that there was nothing left for me in this place now that she was suddenly gone and marrying her ex on the west coast. (Still bitter. But that’s a different story for a different day.) It was then that Kelly tweeted that she wanted a creative counterpart to help revive Sick Lit Magazine. I sent a DM, and now here I am.

I strongly believe in the mission of SLM. Back in 2015 when my job applications were going ignored and my email inbox was piling up with rejections from literary magazines, I sent what I believed to be the best piece of flash fiction I’d ever written to SLM. It was my last hope. And for the first time, I was published, and I had something to be proud of. Now I get the chance to be that last glimmer of hope for another talented writer out there. I’m ecstatic to be able to keep the dream alive. Not only for great writers disillusioned by rejection, but for myself. I have a renewed sense of hope and purpose.

I can’t wait to work with Kelly and all of you to bring Sick Lit Magazine to its full potential.

 

Nikki rae Spano

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Listen up, Bitches: It’s 2018! New Writing Prompts, Submissions Questions Answered, and More…- Editor-in-Chief Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

Transport me. Make me believe.

Prompt # 1 (Running for the month of February): Write a story in which five characters (it doesn’t have to be exactly five) are trapped in a house or a building because of an emergency, such as a severe winter storm.

*Any submissions sent for this prompt must have TRAPPED in the subject line.*

Prompt # 2 (Running for the month of March):  Write a story that begins with your protagonist knocking on their ex’s front door.

*Any submissions sent for this prompt must have DOOR in the subject line.*

Prompt # 3 (Running for the month of April): Write a story that takes place at a rest stop and captures its limbo-like vibe.

*Any submissions sent for this prompt must have REST STOP in the subject line.*

**NOTE: The ‘FUTURE’ prompt is, at the moment, running sort of open-ended, so for those of you who are still emailing back and forth with me about your future piece, please note that this new prompt schedule will not affect your work. **

 

The first addition to the editorial team here at SLM is…drum roll…Nikki rae Spano. She’s coming onto the team as my Assistant Editor. She’s a brilliant writer, collaborator, and is dedicated to keeping SLM’s mission alive and reaching even more writers that might be stifled or have yet to find us. Look out for her editorial note, which is in the works.

We have a new submissions email! – the other one must be destroyed. Its backlog is slowly overwhelming and eroding the OCD portion in my brain. Email ALL submissions, submissions questions, and everything else to slmsubmissions@gmail.com.

You may address your submissions to me or to Nikki. As far as all of the submissions currently stuck in my personal inbox, if you’ve yet to hear back from me, re-send it to he new address. If we’ve been in touch, hang tight. My children bring regularly bring home severe colds and/or flus, and I am suffering from one of those two things at the moment. (Great, right? Just what I need.)

Unfortunately, I wasn’t joking. The old submissions email has been accidentally, maliciously destroyed by yours truly.  This is not necessarily a bad thing; it’s meant that I’ve had more time to spend with submissions, writers, photographers, and artists on how the post will look on the web site, and it has given me more time to tailor it and whatnot.

What I’m about to say in this next paragraph is REALLY IMPORTANT: IF you have submitted to the future theme SPECIFICALLY and have not heard one peep back from me yet, email me again, PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! The other day I accidentally archived things that weren’t meant to be archived. And, sometimes gmail likes to bury submissions in the spam / junk folder. I’m serious about this. I’m not asking you to pester me to the point of harassment, because I can and will probably lose my shit. But an email or 2 checking in on your future submission IF you’ve not heard anything would actually be extremely appreciated by me.

The only thing holding you back is YOU. I don’t care how cliche that is. I genuinely mean it. If your work needs guidance or help to make it shine, let’s work on it together. But don’t give up. If you write: if you derive joy, happiness, contentment, catharsis, or anything that’s slightly above a neutral emotion, then you’re a writer and you matter. You are apart of a community and you do belong.

NOW is the time to polish your work — every piece I publish from January the 1st up until right before the deadline is ELIGIBLE TO BE NOMINATED by me, by SLM, for the Pushcart Prize. My entries, which are limited to 6 per year, have to be postmarked by, at the very latest, December the 1st. The window for me to get them SLM’s entries for 2018 is from October the 1st until December the 1st and I take these nominations seriously.

I have a renewed sense of hope, excitement and passion for this magazine. And I hope you do too.

A few things: Heads up! There might (this means there will inevitably be) be more than a few template / layout changes to the site before I find one I like. Switching it up helps me to find the best way to reach you guys and to find out what sort of template you find the most aesthetically pleasing while being easily navigable.

We hope that the prompts inspire and/or excite you, that the content and the vibe here at SLM becomes infectious, and that you guys are looking forward to getting to work. Because we’re sure as hell excited. Here’s to moving forward.

Peace out, 

Keep doing what you do, 

zzzyy

Over and out, 

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief

An Unexpected Loss. – Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief

I measured at about 8 weeks, 5 days when we went in for our first sonogram. My husband and I saw our baby moving around on the screen, heard the heartbeat, then saw the doctor measure the heartbeat. We’d cried tears of relief, let out breaths of relief, because of our previous miscarriage and the despair and hardship that that had brought us.

Two weeks after our first sonogram, we went to see the perinatologist (this is a specialist you go to if your pregnancy is considered high risk). This was where we learned that our baby had stopped growing and had no heartbeat. At that time, I was 12 weeks pregnant. We were shocked. We were extremely upset. I went in for surgery two days later, on December the 7th, and now here I am.

I didn’t realize how far they were putting me under for the procedure. I was in and out of it for a few days. After everything wore off (finally), the sadness and reality set in: it all really happened.

Sure, I can sit here and look over the past year from December of 2016 to December of 2017 and decide that nothing is fair and that I’m mad at the world and that I want to give up.

The truth is that I am devastated; I am sad. There are a lot of days where I don’t know what to do with myself and I feel like I’m going crazy. I don’t know that there’s a right or a wrong way to cope with this type of loss. I don’t know that there is a right or a wrong way to grieve this type of death. But it’s so difficult. Grief, sadness, and tragedy are unpopular topics and emotions and so it’s hard to find others who have experienced the same thing. No one wants to talk about a tragic, unexpected loss like this.

For a while I tried busying myself with arduous, complex tasks that took up hours of my time so that I was distracted and so that I was busy. All it did was delay my grief. It didn’t make it go away. On top of the immense sadness that this type of unexpected tragedy brings, my hormones have shifted dramatically since the loss of the baby, once again making my emotions even harder to diagnose, much less deal with. Being a writer, one of the ways I deal with emotions is to write about them. It’s sometimes the only outlet that I have.

There are days when I can’t even watch the TV with the sound on or listen to music. I go through my feelings of grief sometimes all at once, sometimes in a circle, and sometimes I just feel numb altogether. I’m not moving through the stages in a linear fashion. Some days are better than others. And some days I just don’t want to get out of bed. Some days it’s hard just being alone – and I’ve never, ever been like that. I used to enjoy time to myself. Now, for some reason, it makes everything feel too real to bear. The silence is deafening and the thoughts fraught with guilt, anger, and despair are too loud to bear.  I stay in my pajamas most of the time. I try and avoid conversations when I can. I’m not myself.

I have really amazing friends and an amazing family who have all been here for me. I received phone calls, cards, gift cards, letters, and even a friend who drove hours to stay with me for a few days. Another friend came over and cooked lunch and vacuumed. Everything everyone has done for myself, my husband, and my two kids is much appreciated.

Thanks for reading, guys.

Kelly

 

Is SLM Back? What’s the Deal Here? Submissions UPDATES. – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

I recently (today, actually) got a submission to our FUTURE writing prompt from SLM regular, Don Tassone; and it brightened up my entire weekend the minute it landed in my inbox.

So, that being said, let me address a few of your comments, questions, and concerns on a broader scale for you.

  1. Is SLM back? 

Yes. And no. I have discarded the format I used while Melissa and Nicole worked for me. I am going back to small scale submissions sent to me at kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com and I no longer can stomach checking sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com because, as I’ve previously told you guys, I’m back running SLM solo once again, and it’s a beast. I had to delist the magazine from Duotrope just to try and cut some of the submissions to a workable load for one person.

I’ve also scratched the previous theme schedule in favor of the new writing prompt. It’s so specific that I don’t think I’m going to get any simultaneous submissions or withdrawals or anything.

Any emails that address previous submissions, will be, unfortunately, discarded for my health and sanity. Sorry not sorry, this is the new SLM.  In order to truly, truly move forward I have to keep my head up and stop looking behind me.

 2. What’s with the themes? 

Okay. I addressed this in Question number 1, but I will address it again. The old theme schedule that I’d proposed before I completely lost it while working alone and threatened to close up shop altogether is GONE. Forget it, scrap it, I’m sorry.

I can’t run the magazine solo like I did while I had interns, senior editors, assistant editors and junior editors.

It’s a different animal.

Bear with me.

3. Okay. I’ve submitted my work to the FUTURE writing prompt but still haven’t heard back. What gives? 

I’m in the woes of my first trimester, so, again, bear with me as I traverse this shaky terrain. I’m hopelessly listless most days, too nauseous to function, taking two naps a day as the baby growing inside me triples in size in three weeks’ time.

At 33, my body is going through a whole lot of change and leaving me tired and groggy.

This doesn’t mean that I’m not receiving your submissions. If you’re sending crap to sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com, then, no, I’m not getting it and I don’t really care. I cannot, for the life of me, manage two emails for one magazine.

Part of the reason you guys don’t hear back from me immediately is because I don’t have an automated response system; I don’t believe in that. I believe in a tailored, individualized response for each submission, as each submission is inherently unique.

4. What’s this new direction about for SLM? What can I expect?

Well, I’ve been through a lot in the last year or so. A lot. I’ve changed a lot, as has my day to day existence. I’m remarried, pregnant, and also split custody of my beautiful children from my previous marriage. Only seeing my kids 50% of the time is excruciating. Watching them walk out my front door every Sunday makes me die inside a little as I see my five year-old son’s blonde head bob down the sidewalk and as I see my nine year-old (who’s nearly as tall as me) listlessly wave goodbye to me and smile at me with her hormonal, sideways grin that says, Don’t worry. Stop being sad. We’re fine. 

But are they fine? What has the last year done to them?

I’ll never know. My parents are still together. This isn’t to say that divorce is a bad thing. Absolutely not. I would have never met my current husband, whom I love and cherish more than I ever knew myself capable of loving and cherishing another human being. But that’s not to say that just because I’ve found someone with whom I’m sublimely happy that it erases all the bad that was done to me and that it makes my children whole again. My kids are still bright lights on this earth who make me so, so happy; but they have also built up walls that sometimes I can’t even scale.

So, what does that mean for the magazine?

It means patience. It means trust in me that I have every writer’s best interest at heart. SLM is not, nor will it ever be, easy access. I expect every one of you to work for what you want in terms of your writing capabilities. I can not peddle writing that I deem to be sub-par or lacking in creativity just because you’ve written me a flashy submission.

When I say ‘Bringing the Real,’ I mean exactly that. Stop putting on a stupid show in your submission email and copying a literary agent’s template as you write to me. I can spot that stuff a million miles away and, well, being that I’m in the early stages of pregnancy, it sort of makes my gag reflex go a little crazy.

If you think that copying from a template will get you far in this magazine, you are wrong.

I’d rather read a spirited piece of work that needs some semicolons and paragraph breaks than a watered down, over-edited, overworked piece of prose that makes me fall asleep multiple times before I even reach its middle.

If you like anything you’ve read in my editorial note thus far, then this might be the home for your writing. Drop me a line at kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com – come shake up the literary horizon with me.

Over and out, 

my beautiful readers and writers 😉 

zzzyy

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief 

Guess Who’s Back, B – Words?! (I’m trying not to offend anyone by my use of colorful language.) I’m back. But in a Whole New Way… – Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief

I’m back.

In a brand new way.

I’m changing these loose, broad themes to a very specific writing prompt that I want to be tailored to this publication, this web site, and something that wants a home right here.

13 Approachable Literary Journals – Courtesy of Authors Publish : If you’d like, check out this wildly WRONG account of what this web site thinks we do, thinks we are, and thinks we’re about. They obviously have not combed through all of my editorials like my dedicated, longtime SLMers have and continue to do as they see my life unfold and change, like a piece of pottery that’s in the process of being sculpted.

I don’t mind being listed on other web sites. It’s always interesting to see and read someone else’s interpretation of what I’m trying to do here at SLM and what I strive to do in the literary world at large.

Amanda McLeod, a longtime contributor and brilliant fiction writer of SLM’s, responded that she was sad to hear that she was the SINGLE contributor to my new writing prompt that I’m running until the end of the calendar year. You may read about it here: SUBMISSIONS & SUBMISSIONS FAQ

Or here: Okay, Let’s Try a Reboot, So to Speak – Editor’s Letter, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

I told her that I was the opposite of sad, because I’d just finished reading her story. She’d taken the time to look over the new writing prompt and pour out a completely original, mind-blowing story that seamlessly blended the theme in it without being overt or blatant. I was actually extremely happy about all of this. Earlier today, Duotrope took my magazine off of their database because they had a disagreement with me. How ridiculous is that? There have been a WHOLE lot of changes, but I’ve also seen a whole lot of truth about who people really are and what they’re really here for.

Amanda is here for SLM. She is not seeking a few minutes of some glorified rush. She believes in my mission to ultimately revive and restore modern literature by breaking down arbitrary limitations and stale, indelibly rigid standards and margin specifications that we, creatives, we writers, are supposed to mindlessly adhere to as though we’ve somehow become accountants.

We writers are much like abstract painters.

We don’t write within the lines.

We don’t like “one inch margin” rules. It makes us cringe with a fear that writing has now been dumbed down to some sort of menial office-like task.

Here, at SLM, it has not. I’m changing how I run things, yes. But I have not forgotten why I began this publication and I am not finished sticking it to the man just yet.

Although ‘Authors Publish’ said that there was little writers would gain from being published by a fledgling, neophyte lit mag like myself, I beg to DIFFER. I nominate for the Pushcart Prize yearly. I have seen MANY, MANY, too many to name and to count, of my writers and contributors go on to publish their books, get featured and published in print anthologies, and blow everyone away.

My own book was published by a small, independent publishing company up in Delaware about a year ago (Snow Leopard Publishing, LLC) – and I was featured in a poetry anthology called Dandelions in a Vase of Roses that was released around the same time as my book.

I am a writer.

I am your advocate.

The modern literary world is filled with either staunch, rigid detail-obsessive freaks who have no clue what it is to write and to be rejected over and over again. On the other hand, it’s also running rampant with random “hipster-esque” publications that are trying way too hard to be someone who has five facial piercings and wears elbow patches on all of their suit jackets (I know hipsters. I lived in Austin, Texas, for over six years). You don’t need an edgy, blue-black hairstyle that’s cut diagonally to be published here. You don’t need an armful of tattoos. You don’t need an arsenal of posers.

You only need to be you.

Signing off,

Over and out,

zzzyy

Your Favorite Editor-in-Chief,

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

 

After Much Thought, I’ve Made up my Mind – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

After I read all of the outpouring of support and kind words from Twitter, Facebook, the submissions email, my personal email, Facebook comments and messages, and every other way that one can communicate under the sun, I began to rethink my decision to close SLM.

But the fact still remains that this magazine is simply not able to be run by one person anymore. I have to face my feelings. I have to grieve my recent losses and focus my attention back on my family, rather than constantly fretting about the state of the submissions email, and having anxiety about the fact that it’s backed up beyond belief.

My emotional, hormonal, and physical well being are a top priority right now. And I can’t do that while I’m still singlehandedly trying to steer this ship and continually falling behind.

I do need to get back to my own writing; I have to in order to cultivate its originality, growth, and excellence. I’m no good to you guys as an editor or a writing coach if I continuously neglect my own craft. The two things go hand-in-hand. One doesn’t exist without the other.

And I need my time to heal. If given the proper open-ended time-frame and stress-free, no-expectations freedom about my recovery, I’ll bounce back quicker and be stronger than ever.

I LOVE what I’ve been able to do for your confidence as writers. I LOVE how much I’ve meant to you guys as an unbiased, open and honest publication that lived and breathed passion for the art of writing and for the purpose of saving modern literature.

I’m not leaving.

I will implore you guys, the ones who I consider to be my friends, to please stay in touch with me. Before you know it, I’ll be back to scheming with Nicole, trailblazing through the literary world once again. SLM might be going away for a bit, but the results of it and the confidence it has instilled in each one of you will never go away. My personal email is kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com – and, as I said before, whatever venture I’m going onto next will, more than likely, end up on this URL one way or another. Stay tuned. Keep in touch. I need to get myself well before I can truly, passionately be your advocate, your coach, and the best platform for your writing.

I treasure all of you. All of our emails, even the ones where we might have exchanged heated words (ha, it happened more than you can imagine! Writer-on-writer arguments?! They are epic!) have been the best learning experience for me as an editor and it has all made me a better one.

At heart, more than just a writer, I am a passionate creator.

Don’t look at this as a goodbye – rather, try and look at it as I have been, as a “See you later.” Or look at it as a “To be continued…” because that’s what it truly is.

Thank you guys for being the true spirit and talent behind SLM.

Prerna Bakshi, Voima Oy, Carrie Redway, Kate Murdoch, Ani Keaten, Paul Beckman, Rob True, Santino Prinzi, Penny Barratt, Lee Hamblin, Bibi Hamblin, Terence Hannum, Brian Vlasak, Ani King, Tabatha Stirling, Toby Penney, Pete Langman, C.C. Russell, Jason Jackson, Stephanie Hutton, Chloe Moloney, both Steve Cooper and Steve Campbell, Dan Diehn, Dan Flore III, Samantha Carr, Mil Ana, Caroline Giles, Matthew J. Lawler, Mike Zone, Monica Flegg, Annabelle Banks, Brian Michael Barbeito, and so many, many, many more of you – THANK YOU. Even though I’ve fallen out of touch with Jeffrey H Toney, PhD of Kean University, I still extend a warm thank you for his belief in my mission here and for his willingness to help out and offer suggestions, solutions, and contest ideas.

Even if you and I ended on “bad terms,” please know that they’re not bad in my eyes. Every connection I made through this venture happened for a reason. In this business, sometimes all we have is each other.

But now is the time for me to sever my ties and switch up my approach.

Stay in touch. I intend to.

Signing off once again – for the final time –

Over and out,

zzzyy

Kelly