Drum Roll Please…SICK LIT MAGAZINE’S 2017 PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEES ARE…..

This is the final, official, carved-in-wood, list of Sick Lit Magazine’s 2017 Pushcart Prize Nominees

**Precursor: if you were on this list previously and are now not, I apologize. Works from 2015 are not eligible for entry – and one person has been disqualified for plagiarism.**

The very mention of the two words, Pushcart Prize, makes most literary buffs, writers and readers alike, beam with pride and happiness, while others whisper on in the background. It’s an honor to be nominated – and we, here, at Sick Lit Magazine, are honored to have you as our writers and audience. To be candid, I wish we were allotted more than SIX total nominees per year. It seems like an awfully small amount compared to how many amazing pieces of writing cross my path all year long.

**One more precursor: those that I’ve promised a Pushcart nomination who have continued to send in groundbreaking work to us are being nominated for the prize, but for a different piece of writing. A piece from 2016 – the current calendar year.**

So, take a deep breath.

Exhale.

Sick Lit Magazine’s Official and Final List of Pushcart Prize Nominees for the Current Calendar Year (in Pushcart years, that’s 2017-) are as Follows: 

1. The Tale of the Cabbage Patch – by STEVE CARR

2. Shrink – by DAVID COOK

3. Sexism Doesn’t Exist / Unburying / “That’s so like a girl!” – by PRERNA BAKSHI

4. Atavistic Lipstick / Silversword / Counting / The Chase – (a 100-word story collection) by JEFFREY H TONEY , PhD

5. The Bus / Yellow Dinghy / Muesli / He Buys Me Flowers / Impersonator / The Sea (A Collection of Flash Fiction) – by KATE JONES

6. The Blind Policeman – by TESS WALSH

If  you get a chance, congratulate each and every one of our six nominees for the 2016 / 2017 Pushcart Prize season! This year, I haven’t had the chance to contact each nominee individually before this announcement, so if you’ve contributed to us, I hope you’re reading this.

 

 

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Atavistic Lipstick/Silversword/Counting/The Chase – by Jeffrey H Toney

A Collection by 

Jeffrey H Toney, PhD

Atavistic Lipstick

Stepping onto the grimy commuter bus, her beauty jolted me from my daily stupor.  Bright red vinyl facing benches held three passengers, one seat unoccupied next to her.  I joined her as we jerked towards the next stop.  Leaning against the window, warm dry air blew past her cheek gently tickled by a tiny tear trail.

“What’s wrong?”  My optimistic fool inquired.

We crashed hard, helpless passengers smacking onto hot metal bulging blisters borne from four tons colliding, her atavistic pop lipstick loam laced with blood, now crimson pin pricks on my glasses, salty on the tip of my tongue.


 

Silversword

 

She was my silversword, a distant cousin to the daisy.  Rare and delicate, slowly emerging from fecund volcanic ash, her beauty drew me in.  Her shiny veneer reflected the sun as if each leaf had been dipped in silver pools, a sly alien dot rooted in the Haleakalā landscape, the only place on earth where she could be.  Unlike the soft petals of her bright yellow cousin, hers had a sharp needlelike point that could draw blood upon the slightest touch.  Blossoming only once, a strict requirement of conditions must be met for creation.  I touched her, bleeding.  She laughed.

 


 

Counting

 

One.  Left foot tilting towards the right, head lunging for the staircase, saved by his right foot’s purchase on the glistening granite.

Two.  A deep breath filled his frail lungs, grateful for this momentary save.

Three.  Heart racing, pulsating at his temples, his toes.

Four.  He felt her close.  It will be OK.

Five.  His eyes connected with hers, blue, calm, inviting.

Six.  Leaning.  Reaching.  Empty space.  Despair.

Seven.  Touching.

Eight.  Electric darts, tiny, coalescing.

Nine.  Warmth.

Ten.  Home.

One.  I feel dizzy.  How did I get here?

Two.  She kissed him, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine times…Home.

 


 

The Chase

 

They had been chasing me for hours.  I was exhausted, terrified yet becoming numb.  I had almost escaped, if it weren’t for that damned feral cat’s scream, as I stepped on its tail bolting down the alleyway.  I found myself on the tenth floor of some godforsaken building, stinking of tobacco and wrongdoing, navigating rusty fire escapes.  They were on my heels every step of the way.  My heart pounding, I stood before door # 1 and door # 2.  What is this, somebody’s sick joke?  Let’s Make a Deal?  Opening door #2, I fell into the abyss, sweet relief.


***

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Dr. Toney has published scientific peer-reviewedarticles, news media opinion pieces as well as short fiction stories in O-Dark-Thirty, the literary journal of The Veterans Writing Project, The East Coast Literary Review and in Crack The Spine.  Recently, he was nominated for a PushcartPrize for his 100 word story, “The Quiet Raspberry Wormhole” published by Crack The Spine.  He serves as Provost and Vice Presidentfor Academic Affairs at Kean University. He volunteers and fundraises for charities such as Music For Relief,founded by Linkin Park, and the RFK Center for Human Rights.  He serves on the Steering Committee of theScience and Human Rights Coalition of the American Association for theAdvancement of Science (AAAS).  You canfollow him on Twitter @jefftoney, read his blog on The Huffington Post(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-jeffrey-h-toney/) and listen to his podcast about how anyone can contribute to human rights issues onTalk Nerdy with Cara Santa Maria (http://carasantamaria.com/podcast/jeffrey-toney).

[Jeffrey Toney (r) with Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda (l) at Relief Live, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Music For Relief at LA River Studios (November 14, 2015).  Music for Relief has raised over $7 million for survivors of multiple disasters across four continents including Hurricane Katrina, China’s Wenchuan earthquake, a cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, earthquakes in Haiti and Japan in 2010, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines; see: http://musicforrelief.org/disaster-relief-programs/]

 

What Makes an Editor, Well, an Editor?

August brings more than just scorching temperatures that belong in one of the 9 circles of hell: it also brings SLM! And, with that comes CONTEST WINNERS, a NEW PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEE, and….(wait for it)…Santino Prinzi’s Perceptions Theme! 

The other day, Melissa sent me a quote about writers that said something along the lines of: “Writers who write for an audience aren’t writers. It’s the ones who do it, who write with no audience in mind, who are true writers.”

If we were all singers, let’s say, we’d be upset at a lot of the overnight successes who use auto-tune, making tons of money, while the rest of us “singers” who possess an otherworldly talent and beautiful voices sit in a line, jump through hoops and remain unheard.

We’re all here to be a part of such a huge movement within literature, something bigger than any of us alone–where Melissa and I actually e-mail you back real words that we’ve typed. And then we go on to tell you what might make your work even better.

We’re real. We’re here. And we aren’t going anywhere. 

Get inspired today–know and understand that the more you write, the better it gets.

I want to propose to you an activity, an experiment: Write a ten-page story. 

The next morning, read it again from beginning to end, fixing things where you see the need for improvement. Continue this every day for an entire week. 

At the end of the week, I want you to compare your first copy to your final copy. Tell me how the activity went and share your work with me.  

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Aren’t people sick of reading about real housewives? A book that she didn’t even write? A real book sticks with you–it becomes your own personal mental movie that you can’t stand turning off. You can’t wait to get back to it.

That’s what we need more of in contemporary literature–danger, sexuality, thrills, humanity, struggles–laughs and cries. After my best friend of 13 years (Marisela Mitchley, who co-edited my book, Unhinged, with me) finished my book, she told me that it stuck with her for days. It made her cry, it made her laugh–and she didn’t see the plot twists coming. At all.

When she said that to me, so casually and off the cuff, I cried I was so happy.

There are charlatans in this business–but we’re coming to speak all of our truths and to take our business back. It’s going to be one hell of an August (and not just because it feels like hell outside)!

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Stand down, reality stars of America–(psst–your incessant backstabbing and screaming is actually depressing us.) I don’t want to read your book written by a ghostwriter. I want to read a real book.

ONTO OUR WINNING THEMES! (I have not contacted the winners beforehand, so check this out!!)

  1. Jeffrey H Toney, PhD’s EPIPHANY (October)

2. Paul Beckman’s, it began in an elevator… (October)

3. Carrie Redway’s Drought (November)

4. Carrie Redway’s Ancestral Gems (November)

5. Ani Keaten’s Photograph (December)

6. Penny Barratt’s AMBIGUITY (December)

 

Please congratulate our contest winners and begin submitting to these themes as soon as you have the inspiration to do so. All of our web site “Submissions” guidelines will be updated after this letter to reflect the new themes and recognize our winners.

One more exciting winner! And our new Pushcart Prize nominee is….drum-roll please…JEFFREY H TONEY, Phd! He won our newly empty slot for his breathtaking, mold-shattering 100-word story collection, which I will be publishing alongside this letter. Please congratulate him and take some time out of your day to read and let yourself become engulfed in the stories.

It’s what writing is all about. It’s about loving what you do and taking the time to love what others do; not tearing each other down. It’s about lifting each other up.

“A boss who leads without a loyal following isn’t leading–they’re just taking a walk.” 

I read this earlier and mulled it over a few thousand times in my head. When Melissa officially came on board in June, I made sure she knew that she was a partner, collaborator and a strength; she was welcomed with open arms.

No matter how bad I’ve been feeling, how down I can get, it never hurts to get a friendly tap on the shoulder to remind me why I’m doing this. And to remember that “success isn’t a place.” 

What we all bring to the table is bravery. The courage to write our own stories, our own truths, and attach our names to them and share them with the world.

If that’s not mold-shattering, then I don’t know what is.

Keep on keeping on, guys. Because Melissa and I will. Even as we balance teaching (Melissa) and graduate school (me). We can do this. And if you have doubts, just remember that even Van Gogh half-assed a few things. For starters, he only cut off one of his ears. (This is a joke.) So when you feel down, at your lowest, or misunderstood, think of Van Gogh. And think of how much you’ve accomplished. (And you did it all without cutting off an ear. Or two.)

Cheers,

Peace and love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

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Restless? Angry? Tired? Well, then! Come sit next to us.

(Your daily dose of inspiration, brought to you SLM-style)

 

Welcome to 2016, guys!

My last letter wasn’t positive or uplifting—and I won’t apologize for that. Pretend I’m a man, just for a second. And then re-read my letter.

WOMEN: stop apologizing for being who you are. Stop, stop, stop. Stop apologizing for writing—or saying a curse word—or for speaking. 

Women’s equality is NOT: expecting our reproductive organs to vanish or become perfect—it’s not relinquishing the proper amount of time for maternity/paternity leave, telling a female coworker she should “smile more” or calling a female coworker a moron because she giggled.

Tell me something.

Why is it that statistics show women to be scholastically superior to their male counterparts, yet as adults, we are paid less than they are and pre-judged in job interviews to “know less” than these same male counterparts?

Women writers suffer from a similar disservice. Guess who tends to subconsciously self-censor as we write? WOMEN. Why? Because we’re programmed to. WHY? Countless reasons. We’re worried about being “exposed” or “called out.” We’re worried we’ll be perceived the wrong way; we’re worried about speculation.

“Don’t publish this under my name, Kelly. It will leave me exposed.”

But all the cis gender males write unapologetically, often boastful. Oh, hello double-standard. I didn’t realize you transcended the boundaries of literature, too. Get the fuck out of here!

You know what, ladies? You know what I say? FUCK THAT.

Men are more likely to get in car accidents than women, get behind the wheel and drive recklessly, yet the myth of the “terrible women drivers” prevails! How does it do that? I mean, even despite those masculine, hiked-up, vehicle insurance premiums?

Hmmm…

ONTO our WINNING THEMES for 2016!!

 

  1. Kate Jones: INVISIBILITY (FEBRUARY, 2016)
  2. WOMEN’S WRITING MONTH (MARCH, 2016)
  3. Hillary Umland: LETTING GO (APRIL, 2016)
  4. Gene Farmer: NOSTALGIA (MAY, 2016)
  5. Christopher Iacono: FIRST LOVE (JUNE, 2016)
  6. Rob True: THE JOURNEY (JULY, 2016)
  7. Tino Prinzi: PERCEPTIONS (AUGUST, 2016)
  8. @voimaoy: WHAT IF? (SEPTEMBER, 2016)

 

That’s right, guys. An entire MONTH. Get yourself some. Submit, submit, submit. Now is your time; it’s everyone’s time. Write from your gut; write like your life depends on it. But never, never sell out or change who you are or how you write for anyone. Ever.

Oh, one last thing I almost forgot to mention. THE LAST TWO PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEES FOR 2016.

 

  1. OWEN CLAYBORN, “DUTY OF CARE”
  2. CHUMKI SHARMA’S COLLECTION OF POETRY, including “Making Room for Light/Dirt Builds a World/Adjourned Sine Die/The Disappearing Act/Rescue Operation/Futile/Writer’s Block/Stranger in an Autumn Forest”

Everyone, make sure to congratulate the hell out of Owen Clayborn and Chumki Sharma for their outstanding work! And, please, keep congratulating our other nominees: Annabel Banks, Kate Jones, Prerna Bakshi, Chris Milam and Ron Gibson.

Who’s ready to start fucking writing?! I am. I can’t wait to see your submissions when we re-open on January 31st, 2016.

A FEW SMALL GUIDELINES: All I ask is that you please put the theme you’re submitting to in the subject line of your e-mail. And if you’re not submitting to a theme, then just write “non-themed submission.” 

Make sure you’re sending them to kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com since I changed the submissions e-mail address. 

Happy New Year, readers, writers and Sick Lit Mag enthusiasts. You rock. We kinda like having you around.

Peace and love,

Cheers!

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

Editor

Sick Lit Magazine

 

*Landscape photography courtesy of Brian Michael Barbeito*

 

Happy Fucking New Year. (Just Kidding. I love you guys.)

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I’m sure a lot of you make resolutions; I don’t. I do the opposite since I’m perpetually in a state of self-loathing and self-criticism that seems to run on a loop. So I want to mess up and not hate myself for it.

Sometimes the hardest person to forgive is yourself.

I’m never too proud to admit that I battle my own demons every day. I don’t always win–and that’s okay.

I’m just sick of the masses demanding eternal optimism and unwavering positivism–e.g., if I post on, say, Facebook, that I’m having a shitty day, I’ll immediately get three to four comments from people saying how negative I always seem to be. And then said people will make their own posts about how they “CAN’T STAND” seeing negative posts ALL OVER Facebook.

Guess who else can’t stand negativity?

Robots!

I’m human. I’m not afraid to admit that I’m human.

And, by the way, who gives a shit about my Facebook status?! This is what defines us and our background noise now?

Tsk, tsk, tsk. 

I will apologize for my sparse presence during the holidays–the internet eluded me during our five-day Carnival Cruise to Cozumel (despite the fact that I paid $70) and I now have what’s termed “land-sickness.” The worst things to do when one has land sickness is to sit still, read, write, etc.

HA!

While my husband was relentlessly searching the cruise ship for me as the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, to no avail, and ended up counting down the evening alone and rang in 2016 watching everyone around him hug and kiss, I was in the ladies’ room throwing my guts up before falling asleep on the toilet seat. I made my way back to our room by 1:30 A.M., covered in my own vomit.

I’m not telling you this to be funny.

 

I’m sad because I realized that I’m still just a dumb kid myself while out on this cruise. I’m sad because I’ve realized how truly different I am than the people and loved ones who surround me.

They like to go, go, go while I like to sit, sit, sit.

I tire easily.

I never used to be like this. I never used to be any of these things. But shit happens and wounds run deep. A doctor gives you the GARDASIL vaccine and it ruins your brain forever in conjunction with a job that leaves you with PTSD. Then you find yourself pregnant with a girl, getting married, moving and changing jobs and buying a house. All at 23 years old. You thwart panic attacks 24 hours a day. You worry about the baby that barely moves inside your stomach.

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“You have so much to be happy about,” everyone tells you. You know this. How could they think that you don’t know this? But you can’t help the turmoil that is swirling inside your brain.

Sure, I can tell you all about the dolphin encounter I had with my children. I can tell you about the laughs and the fun times; but the “aha moment” that kept rearing its ugly head was one that screamed that deep down, I am sad. I am hopelessly, inconsolably, bottomless pit-like sad.  And drinking myself into oblivion until I blacked out on a public toilet was no way to deal with it.

I’m the kind of person who will raise hell when I see a problem—I will fight for you to no end. Meaning when I see you self-destructing, I will speak up and speak up and speak up until something happens.

But it doesn’t mean that I’m not fighting back tears. It doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt when I see you hurting. It doesn’t mean that I’m positioning myself as somehow “better” than you or acting pious.

But the point is this: someone who has faced complete sadness and hopelessness cannot stand to see other people in this same state, because they know how awful it is. I am that person.

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Soon I’ll be announcing our “winning themes” for the coming months for submissions when they reopen on January 31st.

I promise I’ll get to it.

It’s just that we got off the boat Saturday morning and I’m still walking sideways and about to barf any moment, my insides swaying like mad.

I will give you one hint: we are having another Women’s Writing Week, which has been decided by me. I truly hope to see more women submitting their writing; and without the self-deprecating e-mails to go with it. I mean, if you must, then you must. I’d rather see some men send me some self-deprecating e-mails. Then we’d be even.

Then I will pick six themes that have been either DMed or Tweeted or e-mailed to me and announce them in a couple of weeks. Or maybe this week. I have to give you guys time to prepare your work, too.

Peace and love,

Cheers!

Kelly Coody/ SLM

(send all submissions starting January 31st to kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com)

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Coming of Age Week, Another Pushcart Prize Nominee, and more…

What are you all about at Sick Lit Magazine? I don’t get it. 

We are about feminism, equality, inclusion and have a continued focus on making strides as a human race toward erasing lines and hierarchies. We support the LGBTQ community, WOMEN, along with all races and religions. I don’t care if you’re black, white, Hindu, Pagan–we’re all breathing the same air, walking on the same Earth and striving toward (hopefully) the same goals. I want health and prosperity for myself and family, but also for my neighbors and fellow humans, no matter their “race” or “religion.”

We may be starting small, but that’s how all things must begin. We’re also about encouraging and coaching writers; we find the rare, few gems on that beach full of broken glass and jagged rocks. It’s what we’re good at. 

We’re the first literary journal/magazine to actually stir up EXCITEMENT among our writers and readers about themes, fiction, poetry, etc. And that’s part of what I set out to do originally–I want to make reading and writing exciting again–it should be!

We are the first to TALK TO and ENGAGE WITH our writers. We are the first to develop such a strong and loyal following after only TWO MONTHS in existence. And this is no coincident or accident–I am a human being, too. I am a writer, too.

I know what it is to feel sad and hopeless. I know what it is to be a depressed creative-type and have no one to appreciate or understand your work. I appreciate ALL of your work. Because you are fucking talented. 

If I’ve seemed off or quiet since Thursday, December 10th, it’s because I have been. Some personal, family issues have come to a head and for lack of a better expression, shit has hit the fan in some important areas of my life. So my heart is broken and I am not myself at the time. In fact, all day Thursday, as I was getting e-mails about what I needed to fix on certain pieces, I was wiping away tears and in between phone calls and telling my two small children that I was fine.

I am not fine. And It’s okay to admit that sometimes. I’m tired of pretending–and I don’t have to pretend with you guys. 

The U.S. has this other ill-conceived notion that everything always has to be POSITIVE and HAPPY. And if it’s not and said person expresses sadness or negativity, said person is weak and attention-seeking.

I don’t quite remember when this started, but all it has done is make people who are sad, sadder, because they have no one to corroborate their own experiences or feelings. Friends are supposed to mirror a healthy reflection of yourself back to you; and also be there to say, “Hey! Me too!” when you tell them that you have a weird, lonely freckle on the bottom of your left foot. Or, to empathize with you when something really sad happened. That kind of bond has been, well, kind of killed.

Facebook is one of the places I can name as being “bullying” when someone posts a negative thought or health condition.

Why…why on Earth would you kick someone when they’re down?? 

Twitter is a whole different animal. I love Twitter. It’s always been fun, engaging and has truly allowed me to network.


 

ANYWAY, back to the topic at hand. I can’t think of a better way to ring in Sick Lit Magazine’s “Coming of Age Week” than having an infestation of head lice break out in our 2600 square foot, carpeted home, with two children and a dog. If you’ve ever wondered what hell might be like, it’s somewhere between 10 loads of laundry and anti-lice shampoo.

So between that and my three-year-old son’s recurring staph infections, my seven-year-old daughter’s three-month-long bouts of bronchitis and my husband’s job change, I’m feeling a little overwhelmed and…gross. And itchy. And non-human (And not in a cool, glittery, vampire way. More like a smelly chimp with bugs kind of way.)

So if you’re feeling grouchy this holiday season, just think of me and the two identical holes I ripped in my new jeans the first time I put them on the other day. You’ll feel better in no time ;).

But in all honesty, this is what life is like. Sometimes so many ridiculous things happen in a row that we have to just sit back and laugh.

I read an article recently that said, “Quit waiting for your kids to be ‘a little older’ or for ‘what’s coming next.’ This is now. You can either hate it or embrace that you have a toddler and find the joyful moments.”  This applies to SO MANY areas of our lives, guys, not just with having a toddler: things will be better when…. If I can just get through this, then…

How many of us have been guilty of thinking this way?

I know I have.

Fuck that line of thinking. This is now. This is today. And we get to choose how we live.

So, welcome to Coming of Age Week. To mix things up, SLM staffer Cori Hackworth decided to turn the tables on me and wear the interviewer hat this time. So, below, check out our glorious interview. And after that, stay tuned for our 4th Pushcart Prize nominee. 

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Corinne Hackworth: What was your favorite outfit in middle school?

Kelly Coody:  Oh God, that spans three years of dressing in the ’90s. One outfit that sticks out in my mind that I LOVED was wearing black tights with these faded denim shorts over them with a black, short sleeved, jersey (that’s a material) turtleneck top. It sounds awful, but I remember it looking spectacular. So there was that; and a lot of crop tops and Calvin Klein.

CH: What is the first book that changed you?

KC: Definitely when I first read the book “Rebecca” by Daphne DuMaurier. I became swept up into this novel more than I ever had with any novel before; and that’s coming from an avid reader. I remember thinking, “Now that is how you write a compelling story. I want to be like that.”  Oh, and guess what, Writer’s Digest? This book took a bit more than ten pages in to “get good.” 

CH: If you could be a bird, which bird would you be?

KC: Hmm…birds are freakishly smart creatures, which makes them both intriguing and terrifying (don’t ever buy a Cockatoo). I’d be a Cockatiel–they’re sweet birds, they can talk, and they have cute little orange cheeks.

CH: What is your quest?

KC: Well, at the moment my quest at Sick Lit Magazine is to try and open everyone’s minds and get them back into the passion and spirit of writing, instead of focusing on all of these “HOW TO SELL YOUR NOVEL” articles spouting bullshit. I have to comment, though, how surprised I am at all of these literary journals with SUCH STRICT formatting requirements. This is the ADULT WORLD of literature–what are you, a grade-school teacher? WHY do you insist on 1-inch margins?? That shit drives me crazy.

Largely, though, I want to inspire people and change the way we view ourselves and our work as writers. Enough with all the snarky comments and pretentious editors focusing on being pedantic. Lighten up and look at the spirit of the work in front of you, not the fucking 1-inch margins. Christ. 

CH: What is your karaoke “go to?”

KC: As a former actor and singer, I’m sort of embarrassed to admit that I haven’t Karaoked since I was in college and at a Korean bar, singing a Linkin Park song at 1 A.M. And, then, as though that wasn’t enough, I insisted on rapping the ENTIRE song ‘Bombs over Baghdad’ by Outkast to the guy who drove me back to my dorm. SO EMBARRASSING. I’m pretty sure I slurred, “Yeah, well, there’s plenty more where THAT came from,” as I sloshed my way up to my dorm room.

CH: Black or blue ink?

KC: Black. Unless the blue pen writes really well.

CH: What is the first thing you pack for a weekend away?

KC: Twenty-five outfits that are ALL for the climate of where I live, rather than the climate I’m travelling to. EVERY. TIME.

CH: Least used Crayon: Black or White?

KC: White.

CH: What’s your stupid human trick?

KC: My double-jointed fingers and elbows–and the fact that I can click my heels in the air. And my tap-dancing.

CH: What was the moment in life that shocked you the most?

KC: The first time I got [inexplicably] ill from the Gardasil vaccine that my OB-GYN INSISTED that I get and how I was treated by the world of health care afterwards. And pretty much every adult moment in my life thereafter.

CH: Where are your car keys….right NOW?

KC: I hope they’re in my briefcase. If not, then Jackson’s probably got them in his sweaty little palms, clutching them while he sleeps.

CH: Who is your favorite vampire?

KC: Oh, damn, no, the vampire question! After much thought and consideration, I have to say Lestat from Interview with the Vampire. His character is charismatic, manipulative and delightfully evil.

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CH: What’s worse: wet socks, or water running up your forearms when you wash your hands?

KC: Wet socks!!

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AND…ONTO OUR FOURTH NOMINEE FOR THE PUSHCART PRIZE:

(DRUM ROLL PLEASE…)

Congratulations to our very own KATE JONES for her short piece of fiction titled, “Taking up Space.” 

And, honestly, congrats and hats off to all of the women who submitted and participated in SLM’s first-ever Women’s Writing Week. It felt the way it was supposed to feel; like a celebration. And since it turned out to be such a success and inspired so many people, we WILL be definitely having another Women’s Writing Week.

So let’s recap our Pushcart Prize nominees thus far! (Remember, there are two spots left open!)

Pushcart Prize nominees for 2015:

  1. Annabel Banks, “Harmless”

Pushcart Prize nominees for 2016:

  1. Prerna Bakshi’s collection of poetry, “Coming Out, What will be left behind?, Thirst, A recurring question, My grandparents’ letters and Gone and buried”
  2. Chris Milam, “There is Wreckage”
  3. Ron Gibson “After the Storm”
  4. Kate Jones “Taking up Space”

***OPEN SUBMISSIONS close just around the corner, on December 31st. Make sure to get your work to me in time; but even if you don’t, we’ll re-open for submissions at the end of January. And as I’ve said a hundred times, WRITE WHAT YOU WRITE. But write without boundaries. And send all submissions, questions, etc, to kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com

Cheers!

Peace and Love during this Holiday Season,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody / SLM

 PS: Know that I am getting to each and every one of your e-mails, even if I’m a little slow to respond. I appreciate all of you–all of your brilliant words, your brave submissions and your SPIRIT. Sick Lit Magazine is what it is because of the content that we publish. MY WRITERS AND SOON-TO-BE-PUBLISHED WRITERS FUCKING ROCK. If anyone thinks otherwise, they can shove it. 

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

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?

ZERO.

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. 

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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.

I AM NOT THOSE PEOPLE.

I WANT YOU TO WRITE. I WANT YOU TO LIVE.

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,

Cheers!

Kelly on behalf of SLM

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