Feel Like Starting Over? Come Explore Our “New Beginnings” Theme – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

It’s….September!

And that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It might mean back-to-school (either as a student yourself, a teacher, parent, or all three), meaning unchecked road rage in the form of crowded, bitchy carpool lanes; it could bring either a markedly busier or slower work pace for you, and September always serves as a lead-in to the holiday season and the harried, frantic conclusion to the year 2017.

*Side note about unchecked road rage- what in the name of Sam Hill is going on?! Not to sound like a disgruntled older woman, but I’m seriously alarmed at the amount of people just absolutely LOSING IT while in their cars. I saw some of the most God awful road rage, of all places, at the drive thru lane at Chik-Fil-A last week. One car cut another one off; sure, they shouldn’t have done that, but the reaction from the woman who was cut off was straight up disturbing. Her blood pressure had to have been close to heart attack level. It is NOT WORTH IT to engage ANYONE like that unless they’ve literally just snatched your newborn baby out of your vehicle. End of rant. *

Whether this year has been one of strife and struggle for you or one of success and triumph, time waits for no one. And the only direction it moves is forward.

Last night, my husband and I watched the movie “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightley. Its humor has more of a subdued, subtle dryness to it, giving it the perfect opportunity to be in the background and serve as the perfect backdrop to a realistically funny look at what the world might look like right before it ended. Dean (my husband) kept trying to figure this movie out; he was determined to break it down and find its hidden meaning and intent. He kept guessing that the ending would take a drastic turn and the world wouldn’t end at all – that the asteroid might narrowly miss earth, giving the movie “meaning.”

“No, no, no,” was my rebuttal. “The point is that it doesn’t matter how much time we have here or what we think we’re supposed to be doing. If it takes the end of the world for you to ‘find your purpose’ or if you think you need to go backpacking across Brazil in order to find yourself, then you very well could be missing out on the greatness that’s already in your life. In the end, we’ve all got what we need right in front of us. We’ve had the right tools all along, we just didn’t know how to use them. Changing your scenery won’t change your problems and it won’t change you. Being with those who love you and loving yourself are the keys to fulfillment.” (Now, don’t throw that back at me when I’m super stressed out and complain about the annoyances of day-to-day life. Ha!)

All of that being said, each day is an opportunity for us to begin again, to try harder, to live our lives a little better and be a little kinder to one another. Just because you’ve messed up, fallen down, cried in front of your boss, reacted in situations with cowardice or malice as opposed to bravery and kindness, doesn’t mean that you have to live tomorrow that way. Messing up is part of the journey, guys. You’re supposed to do that. You are supposed to bump your head – a lot – in order to find your way. And you’ll keep messing up until the day you die. That’s just what life is. It’s about realizing who and what you are, knowing your shortcomings and your strengths, and using this knowledge to not only better yourself, but hopefully those around you.

That brings me to the reason why I’ve chosen the themes I have for this fall: All of these themes hit close to home for the vast majority of us. If you don’t have one instance where you have faced adversity, wanted to start over, or actually did start over, or witnessed or experienced a good versus evil battle, then maybe you need to get out of your comfort zone.

I’ve received a lot of wonderful submissions. If I don’t get back with you five minutes after you’ve sent me an email, remember that I’m only one person. And chill out.

Here is the official theme schedule:

September: New Beginnings

October: Good VS Evil

November: Strength in the Face of Adversity

Okay, guys, now do your thing and I’ll do mine. Until next time…..

IMG_1440

Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. Or, hell, go ahead. 

Cheers, 

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk 

 

 

Advertisements

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

Wild Dreams – by DON TASSONE

Wild Dreams

 

His alarm went off precisely at six.  So did his coffee maker and TV.

CNN was playing on the flatscreen in his kitchen.  He scanned email and FaceBook as he sipped his coffee and chewed on a breakfast bar.  He had two more friend requests overnight.  He accepted them both.

He grabbed his laptop and stepped down the hallway to his office, where he traded online all day.  He took a break just before noon to run on his treadmill and down a protein shake for lunch.

At five, he decided to chat on FaceBook with a handful of his 462, now 464, friends.  Then he ordered dinner from his favorite Chinese restaurant.  A young man delivered it to his door.  He took the bag from him and nodded.  He had already paid and left a tip online.

He enjoyed chicken lo mien, egg rolls and hot oolong tea as he watched a movie on Netflix, relaxing in his recliner.

He was in bed by ten.  He drifted off to sleep and dreamed, as usual, about living in the wild.

***

Screen Shot 2016-07-20 at 7.01.25 PM

Don Tassone lives in Loveland, Ohio and teaches public relations at Xavier University in Cincinnati.  His stories have appeared in a range of literary magazines.  They’re posted at http://dontassone.com

Love, Life, and the Aftermath – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris [Coody]

February!

 

 

It’s the shortest month, the most romanticized month, and it’s also…just…a…month.

 

2017 was a false positive for the vast majority of us; what I mean is that we had inflated, unrealistic hopes of what the beginning of this New Year would bring.

 

 

2016 was hard on a lot of us for various reasons.

 

But our body clocks don’t understand or work like the calendar reads in terms of distress, healing, and even these new beginnings that we paint for ourselves.

 

The start of a new calendar year simply is what it is. Nothing more. Waiting for our circumstances to change, waiting for those clouds to part so we can see the figurative sun unfortunately relies on us and us alone.

 

Let all of this negativity, anger, frustration, and heartache fuel your writing. Write about it. Get it out of you and onto paper!

 

Which brings me to my next point: my personal life. 

 

So, how does one begin the healing process after the demise of a 12-year relationship?

 

I have no clue.

 

I have even less of a clue on how to handle it when there are two children in the mix who always see mommy crying.

 

Of course I’m sad. Of course I’m depressed.

 

Divorce is never easy…and I know it’s especially difficult for the so-called wounded party. That isn’t to say that the other person isn’t experiencing their own roller-coaster of emotions. I just, unfortunately, wouldn’t know.

 

It’s that day when your spouse comes to you in a moment of calmness and clarity, and tells you that they resolutely want a divorce, that you no longer make them happy, and that they don’t love you anymore that bubbles up in your mind’s eye over and over again. It’s impossible to shut out or to forget.

 

I am Daniel (Robin Williams’s character) in Mrs. Doubtfire. When he and Miranda (Sally Field) are standing there in the kitchen arguing, until she just can’t take it any longer and shouts out to him, “Daniel, it’s over! It’s…it’s over.”

 

He comes up with some solutions, all to which she shakes her head.

 

“But we love each other…Miranda? Right? We love each other.” And he says it with such sincerity and pain in his eyes.

 

She shakes her head. “I want a divorce.”

 

And just like that, it’s over.

 

When we (my spouse and I) had our discussion about the divorce, my response was, “You’re the love of my life.” I said it through teary eyes and with a strained voice as he simply said, “I’m sorry,” and walked out of the room.

 

Divorce “ruins” a lot of people – ruins may not be the right word, but it certainly smashes their world apart for a good amount of time.

 

A lot of people are never the same after their divorce; they put up walls that are unable to be climbed by others who attempt to get in and get to know the person while dating. Others do that and more; they turn to alcohol, drugs, any outlet they can get to that will relieve the absolute, utter devastation that the rejection of a divorce brings. This deep level of personal rejection can sit with someone for a very long time; it can stew, it can fester, and it can breed a lot of hate and anger. It can make a person go crazy. And it does.

 

The truly sad part about the majority of the people who are on my side of the glass, the hurt side, is that we don’t even hate our exes or soon-to-be-exes; not at all. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. We still love them and can’t seem to reconcile this cold, unfeeling person in front us who looks a lot like the person who used to love us and be there for us, with the one we knew in our not-too-distant pasts.

 

I remember how I felt any time I went through a break-up with a boyfriend while I was in college; I went through a myriad of emotions, including incessant crying and screaming into pillows before violently throwing things across the room in a torrent of anger.

 

But – it always would dissipate. I would always feel better pretty soon after all of that happened and would simply move on.

 

However; 12 years is different. 12 years, two children, many, many moves from apartments to houses, a dog, a life, and a wife who thought that this was her forever is different than a boyfriend-girlfriend relationship. Because I’d always blindly believed that he was “the one.” I really did. From the first night we met, I thought, this is it. That’s him.

 

Marriages go through their fair shares of ups and downs. It’s life. Especially with two children. It just is what it is.

 

I thought that this was just like any other time of our marriage that wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows…because life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. If it was, then that’s a lie. That’s not reality. Reality is that there are ups and downs, fights, times where you might look and think that the grass is greener on the other side. But it’s not. It’s just not.

 

“All that matters are the children.”

 

“Take care of yourself.”

 

“Don’t let him win.”

 

When I hear things like this, I think, what the hell are you saying to me? I don’t want advice. I don’t want canned, regurgitated garbage that’s applicable to every divorce where there are children involved.

 

My reality is that a little over a year and a half ago, I quit work so I could stay at home with my children full-time. Within this time, I finished my book, was picked up by a small publishing house and published, started this literary journal, and have met some amazing people along the way. I wanted to be the next great American writer. I guess the joke’s on me.

 

Some of my posts relating to my personal life have been rather middle-of-the-road and painted me as “the bigger person.” But I don’t know if I am this bigger person – I am sad, broken-hearted and desperately trying to crawl out of this hole that I am in.

 

I may not be okay right now, but I know that I will be in time.

 

And so will all of you, no matter what your current circumstances might bring you, no matter what you face each day as you walk out your front door, ready to face the world and give it your all.

 

We all face battles. But putting yourself out there – as you are – is the bravest thing that a soul can do.

Keep Writing.

Keep Submitting.

20170121_195022006_ios

Your Favorite Editor,

Kelly Fitzharris [Coody]

 

 

 

 

 

Well, Hello There! – NICOLE FORD THOMAS, new Senior Assistant Editor

Oh, hello! I’m Nicole Ford Thomas, the new Senior Assistant Editor here at Sick Lit Magazine! I was tasked with introducing myself to you wonderful folks. It’s no secret that Kelly has been up to her eyeballs in life-induced insanity the last few months, and has needed a hand to get Sick Lit back on its feet. As someone who believes there’s a strong need for what this magazine provides the literary world, I’m excited to be on the team, working alongside Kelly to restore Sick Lit to the mover-and-shaker we know it to be.

I’m a proud resident of the Buckeye State (O-H!) and share domestic bliss with my husband, two teenage daughters, three cats, and a big fluffy dog. I enjoy a good cup of coffee in the morning, and a good glass of wine in the evening. In a past life I was a florist, a certified personal trainer, and a bunch of other random stuff that has only resulted in a strange conglomeration of useless trivia bouncing around my head.

In this life, however, I am a writer. I returned to school recently to get a degree in English Composition. My end goal was to become a better writer, but I quickly learned that all I was becoming was a better zombie. That’s how I learned the number one rule of writing:

The way to become a better writer is to write more.

Oh, sure, I had fun writing a Sociology paper applying the theories of Karl Marx to Rocky Horror Picture Show, but college nearly killed my love of creative writing. And my sense of humor, really, which is a shame because I’m told it’s my best quality.

Am I digressing? I am. I’m sorry.

Look, the point I’m poorly making is that I’m new here, and I’m ready to jump in to help Sick Lit be at the top of its game again. I’m not going to lie to you; I often have no idea what I’m doing, but I highly suspect that no one really does. We all just work hard to do the best we can, hoping we don’t burn the place down.

That’s what I bring to the table, Sick Lit community. I’m going to do the best I can to assist Kelly in doing the best she can so we can do the best we can for you, our writers and readers, who are busy doing the best you can.

That’s what makes Sick Lit Magazine the best.

-Nicole Ford Thomas-

nicolenevermorepic

 

Moving on – Kelly Fitzharris, Editor-in-Chief

Sometimes we start out the New Year hungover, covered in glitter, in our own beds (somehow) having fallen asleep in party clothing.

 

Others, we abstain from that lifestyle altogether and don’t drink; so waking up on January the 1st  is like any other day for us, except for possible unspoken or unaddressed marital discontent.

 

It’s never an easy time.

 

Especially when you, yourself, are the recipient of said marital discontent that you were previously unaware of or not quite privy to, and also have two malleable children to take care of and comfort throughout this ordeal.

 

In short, a little over a week ago, my husband let me know that he wanted a divorce.

 

Please, please try and abstain from saying negative things about him or towards him at the time being. Just because one person is initiating the split doesn’t mean that they’re the ‘bad guy,’ so to speak. Although there’s a lot of pain and misunderstanding to go around during a time like this, negativity that is more-than-contagious, we are trying to keep everything as amicable and pleasant as we can.

 

Heartbreak is a crazy thing; it makes people go insane! It’s what makes one person throw their spouse’s clothes out on the lawn, find themselves feeling hostility that can manifest itself into unchecked rage, and can make a parent unwittingly pit their children against their mother or father. And much, much worse.

 

Or…on the other side of the coin, we can take a breath. We can step back and remember who we really are; that we pride ourselves on our humility, resilience, and are way stronger than anyone has ever given us credit for being. That there are people in our corner who not only like us, but love us, and believe in us.

 

So. All of that being said, I am here. I have a magazine to run. We have a T-shirt contest that I have to get out here on the site and let all of you vote on–hell, the entire graphic design department of Kean University in New Jersey has students who worked their TAILS off creating graphics for T-shirts for this web site, their competitive spirits helping them create the best designs they could, their professors spurring their creativity with encouragement and empowerment.

 

Although I’m not doing great at the moment, I won’t let this magazine die.

 

I may be slow-going for a while…for a long while…but, I am actively working on putting the T-shirt designs in a post for you to vote on, while making ALL of the designs available to purchase.

As the late and great David Bowie sang, “The planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do…” in the song Space Oddity. In other words, he’s saying that things happen that are out of our control.

Can you hear me, Major Tom? 

20161231_190540858_ios

Let’s Talk about Unhinged… – MARISELA I. MITCHLEY

I suppose that propriety demands certain things be left unsaid, and though it doesn’t come naturally, I try my best to bite my tongue. I’ve had to dislodge my foot from my own mouth more times than I can remember, but I think that as I get older, I am learning how to more deliberately walk the line between, “Oh shit,” and, “Pertinent.” I ardently hope that this “little” tangent falls under the latter heading.

 

First of all, I have known and been Kelly’s friend for just over 13 years now. I cannot say whether I was the first to read Unhinged, but I was lucky enough to know it in its original inception as a short story titled The Girl in the Angora Sweater. I think one of the reasons she feels comfortable sharing parts of her soul with me is because we share a lot of the same demons. I, too, know how easy it is to become lost in the seemingly infinite mental quagmire of self-doubt, self-loathing, and self-defeating thoughts. When I am stuck and can’t see the forest for the trees, she is there to keep me focused and on track. When all she sees for miles around are the hyper-critical sneers of others who seem to judge her as harshly as she judges herself, I step in to offer words of encouragement: “It’s mostly in your head; you’re making it worse than it is,” as well as the ever-helpful, “Fuck those people, you just keep doing your thing.”

 

So at this point, at the risk of saying too much—as I am wont to do—I must step in and address the literary elephant in the room.

 

I helped her edit Unhinged. I am not an editor by trade or training but I do enjoy writing, and when my dear friend needed help, I felt compelled to do my utmost to ensure the success of her first novel. Mind you—most of my help came in the form of encouragement and motherly orders to persevere. I read the original short story in its unfinished entirety, and snippets of the book here and there, but remember that this process unfolded over the course of years. I didn’t see anything like a completed manuscript until sometime in early 2016. Even then, I didn’t read the entire thing. I wanted to read, and hold, the actual physical copy.

 

As her publication date neared, though, she was so excited. She sent me the first five chapters as a teaser. I couldn’t bear to deflate her enthusiasm, so I started reading during the lulls at work. Eventually, as I got further into the story and found a few more errors than I was comfortable with, those lulls lengthened into breaks, and eventually full-blown work stoppage. As far as I knew, this manuscript was print-ready. I dared not say anything that might make her unnecessarily frantic so close to publication, especially if there was nothing to be done. However, I finally came across an error that, while small, I knew would incite the wrath of grammar-Nazis and casual weekend readers alike: “Rolling Stone’s.” I pointed it out to her and she was horrified, swearing not to have written it herself. So I flipped back through my emails and the documents folder on my laptop, looking for an earlier draft. Sure enough, the apostrophe had been added between the original version and this “print-ready” copy.

 

Up to this point, I had seen other smaller errors which I swore I couldn’t remember reading before, but I just chalked them up to human error and the fact that I am not Data (from Star Trek—come on guys). I now realized something was grievously amiss and, by some miracle of circumstance, learned that it was not too late to put a pause on printing. So she halted the entire thing and I rooted around in my life to make the time to read the rest of Part One.

 

The errors were many, but mostly small things; things a good editor should have caught, but might have been forgiven by a generous client. When I asked her about said editor, I got an earful. This person (who shall remain nameless and genderless for the sake of anonymity) was responsible for inserting the apostrophe into Rolling Stones as well as screwing up the text’s consistency (I cannot even attempt to count the number of times I saw the lower-case formatted “mom” or “dad” mixed in with the unjustifiably mismatched “Mom” or “Dad”—instances where the word(s) did NOT appear at the beginning of a sentence). Like I said, these errors were startlingly many, but forgivably small, and we combed through the entirety of Part One relatively quickly. Part Two, however, was a whole other animal.

 

At this point, we both realized that the editor contracted by her publishers had all but skimmed the second half of the book and given a completely unfounded thumbs-up to the print department. We were astounded, dumbfounded, flabbergasted, and aghast—ALL of those things. Sometimes all at once, others in quick succession. Formatting inconsistencies, continuity errors, oversights in punctuation and typography. You name it, we found it.

 

Now, I understand and fully agree with the sentiment that in the end, beginning, and throughout the process, it is first and foremost the writer’s responsibility to make sure the story makes sense, that all changes to previous drafts have been implemented throughout the ENTIRE manuscript, that the book’s geography and timeline make sense, etc. But on the other hand, when that same author has spent years looking at the same manuscript—going back and forth, keeping some changes and rejecting others, editing and re-editing for errors in typography, spelling, syntax, continuity, consistence, grammar, punctuation, and formatting—it is more than understandable for certain things to slip through the cracks. With a 100k+ word manuscript, even 1% of the entire work is still more than 1,000 errors—if we’re equating errors to word count, which is not really now it works.

 

So yes, it is ultimately Kelly’s job to ensure that her book is in ship shape before it goes to print. But if that were easy to do, editors wouldn’t exist, let alone receive a tidy little paycheck at the end of the day. Everyone needs help, even the masters of their craft, and EVERYONE improves as time passes. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work. You create, you err, you identify, you fix. Then you move on and try to do better next time. So when we dove into the second part of Unhinged, expecting approximately the same amount and sort of errors as littered the first part, we were dumbstruck to discover that this half of the book had seemingly NOT BEEN TOUCHED by an editor, except for a few notes here and there where we found unjustifiable, unnecessary, absolutely perplexing, and seemingly token revisions. After a few days of reading, I felt—and still feel—very firmly that this editor gave the second part of the book no more than a cursory glance. I can only speculate as to this person’s reasons for such shoddy workmanship, but I won’t do that here because most of it is unfounded and fired by sheer bias and outrage.

 

But then, on top of the litany of mistakes this editor tacked onto her manuscript, Kelly’s publishers offered nothing in the way of actual reparations. Despite the contract she had signed, that THEY had offered, she was not made whole. Instead, she received some sort of half-hearted, half-assed, completely transparent apology in which one of the publishing partners offered to take a look at the manuscript for her, even though he admitted up-front that this was not his area of expertise. Now I’m sorry, but that’s just bullshit. You don’t open a business, advertise a professional service that you charge people money for, and then duck out of holding up your end of the deal when it becomes apparent that—because you did not thoroughly vet your subcontractor—your client’s livelihood has been all but T-boned. In fact, if you operate a small, nascent, independent business which cannot afford to make such mistakes, then you work double-time to a) make sure such expensive errors don’t get made in the first place, and b) fix all such errors so that your completely satisfied clients have no other thought but to rave about your company, which will hopefully increase business and profits. You don’t say, “I’m so sorry and I understand that it’s our fault, but we can’t make it right because we’re just getting started and that will cost more to fix than we can afford to spend. Maybe I could look at it for you even though I have however many other responsibilities associated with running my own business, along with however many OTHER clients who need my attention as much as you do.”

 

All of that is to say: Kelly did not get what her publishers promised her. The editor they hired to do the job phoned it in. No—scratch that; that editor cut a perfectly good cord connecting the mouthpiece to the actual mechanism and said, “Here, I upgraded it for you. Now you have a cordless phone.” Newsflash: That’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.

 

So I helped her. Out of necessity, we stretched the initial two week timeline into six, and at the end of the entire process, we were dazed and exhausted and sick to death of the manuscript. I don’t wonder that more than a few errors made it past us, and I’m so thankful that the first run won’t be the only run.

 

And that is the story behind the printing of Unhinged.

 

Now, I didn’t go off on a tangent just to complain, or to beg forgiveness for editing oversights, or to excuse those errors that made it through to print and ask the reader to try and get over it. I wrote this in an effort to inform you of the fairly bumpy and unplotted road we traversed in order to ready this book for public consumption. I wrote it because the thought finally occurred to me that perhaps some people might gain insight (of debatable value) from a behind-the-scenes look at our uphill struggle to edit the book.

 

Every reader is free to think what he or she will of the finished product; your criticisms and opinions are your own. And while they may hurt our egos, feelings, and sense of worth (especially if they are well-founded), even the negative criticisms are valuable and appreciated. In order to grow and improve, an artist must receive input—both good and bad. But in the end, even having taken such considerations into account, I still felt it necessary to tell our story. Let it color how you assess and judge the book or don’t take it into account at all. That is your choice as the reader and I leave it to you.

 

But I would be remiss if I did not at least mention the catalyst for this epic spiel. You will find it here, in the form of an Amazon review, the writer of which I trusted was more than capable of supporting his or her criticisms. This person’s words hurt a great deal because when I read them, I felt like I had let my friend down by overlooking such glaring errors—among many others. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was just off, so I finally decided to look into these errors again. As it turns out, “idler” is a form of the adjective “idle.” In fact, “idle” is only defined as an adjective or verb (not a noun), and “idler” is a strange word. It does stand out to me and I remember reading and being struck by it many times before. But I also distinctly remember giving it the “ok,” because it’s a correct use of the word. Just because something sounds strange to my own ears and is not commonly used does not make it incorrect, and I cannot in good conscience allow my personal preferences to color someone else’s voice. So I chose not to omit it during the editing process.

 

And as to the other error this reviewer chose to showcase—ending a sentence with a preposition—I adamantly maintain that such uses of the written and spoken word are justifiable and should not need to be defended in the first place. Personally, I do agree that if at all possible, one should avoid or severely limit such instances.

 

Once more, with feeling: I, personally, do not like to end my sentences with a preposition if I can avoid it. Of course, that assumes the fact that I am always conscious of writing with better grammar than I speak (which I am not, because I am fallible and I accept my mistakes, loathsome thought they may be).

 

BUT—language is a living, breathing thing; it changes and grows to suit the needs and demands who we who use it. If it didn’t, God only knows how we would communicate today. Through a series of grunts and signs and visual cues? There are some things I feel I will never be able to get behind, like officially adding widely used popular words like “manscape” and “YOLO” to the English dictionary. But on the other side of that argument, without incorporating new words and the novel use of old words, any language would be woefully unequipped to adequately express and articulate the ever-changing world or our lives within it (if you’ve ever “googled” anything, you’ll know what I mean). It was not so long ago (1954) that the “like” vs “as” debate entered the public arena in the form of a Winston cigarette ad. Who has the power to exercise absolute judgment on such matters? I, for instance, adamantly support my purposeful and deliberate decision to start certain sentences with “and,” “so,” “or,” or “but,” because in some cases, it just works.

 

Of course, some rules should be adhered to, because otherwise how could one ever hope to govern the eloquent and proper use of written language? And in the same vein, it would be all too easy to defend and completely dismiss poor writing with the individual, purposeful choice argument.

 

But I fail to understand how one can conclude with supreme certainty that an author has inexcusably assaulted the English language and committed an indeterminate number of grammatical sins when one refuses to accept or even entertain the idea of language as a fluid and changeful thing. Nor do I understand how one can draw such a broad conclusion without first securing an absolutely unassailable argument. This Amazon reviewer does not have such an argument.

 

Like I said before, what I feel matters most is that we tried. We didn’t just slap something together, throw a cover on it, and call it worthy of purchase and consumption. We tried the best we could and if errors are present, trust that they will be remedied in subsequent printings (insofar as they do not begin to re-write the book). And if you don’t like the story, or think the writing is sloppy, or have any number of other valid criticisms, that is your prerogative as the consumer. You may choose to read another of Kelly’s books or not. But regardless of your ultimate decision in the matter, I do hope that you don’t issue final judgment upon Kelly—or any author—because of how you felt about ONE of her books. Especially if that book happens to be her first.

 

In closing, please, PLEASE, allow me to emphasize: I don’t expect a free pass because language is adaptable and everyone has their own writing style. No one should simply excuse the style of the book or any aspect of it they dislike simply because the editing choices we made were deliberate, calculated, and suited to our own personal tastes. What I am saying is that these reviews matter, especially for new authors. If they didn’t, Amazon would not have recently shored up the rules they have in place to fight the fake ones.

 

So, in light of the fact that in an ideal world, reviews should exist to provide a necessarily biased but hopefully accurate assessment of a product’s usefulness, the purpose of this entire tirade is simply to implore you, the consumer, to review and communicate with discernment, honesty, and objectivity. To break it down to the barest of bones: I don’t personally like goat’s milk. But I will NOT, under ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, allow my opinion to color my four year old daughter’s impression of it before she has even tried it for herself. To offer any sort of negative input might affect her ultimate opinion; and in the very worst of scenarios, it could very well affect how she approaches all new foods for the rest of her life. I will tell her what I can to give her an idea of what it will be like, but I will try not shape her opinion before it even exists.

 

And finally, if you don’t take anything else away from this rant (which I genuinely hope was not a massive waste of your time), I hope you DO go away with this one sentiment: We’re human, y’all; sometimes we fuck up, and sometimes we fix it. People can and do change, often for the better. Everyone deserves a second chance (sometimes more) or the benefit of the doubt. Be kind, and be open-minded.

 

Peace out.

M. I. Mitchley.

What is a Woman’s Worth? – by KIM D. BAILEY

What is a Woman’s Worth?

By Kim D. Bailey

 

With all that’s going on this week after the election, this question bears asking and answering, with gritty insight and truth.

Many of my female friends are feeling betrayed at this juncture in our American journey. I won’t go into the politics of this too much, except to say that we have a President-elect who does not instill, for our national identity as women, a respect for us. Nor does he practice any respect for women on a personal level.

With that said, I want to address the women, and some of our brothers out there who are feeling lost and frightened by this new reality that is upon us.

Aside from the obviously egregious responses and actions being made by this new administration to race, freedom of religion, cultural diversity, and LGBTQ issues, our sense of worth as women has been compromised by the electoral vote of Donald Trump as the next president of the United States of America.

Those of us who are voicing these concerns are being met with deflating rhetoric. We are being told to calm down, get over it, give him a chance to show he’s not so bad, and sometimes—we are being told we don’t even have a right to voice our thoughts and feelings because we are intrinsically flawed in our thinking and feeling.

We are being called horrific names. Cunt, Whore, Slut, Stupid, Libtard, Bitch. We are being attacked at the very core of who we are—as women—for having an opinion outside the collective conscience of those who either voted for the PE or who abstained from voting altogether.

The latter is a dismally large number, by the way.

Of those who voted for the PE, many were women. Our sisters, mothers, aunts, nieces, daughters, cousins, grandmothers, and friends. Their reasons are their own—as we all have a right to vote for whom we choose—but their responses to our outrage is just as harmful as that of their male counterparts.

None of these responses reflect any truth as to our actual worth.

Women have fought long and hard for the rights and responsibilities that our male counterparts have enjoyed and born out. We were even behind African American men in the right to vote, not obtaining this right on a national level until 1920, over 70 years after the Seneca Falls Convention in 1848, the first women’s rights convention.

Nearly 170 years later, many of us voted for Hillary Clinton. In fact, the numbers are coming in, and in the popular vote, Ms. Clinton received upwards of 2 million more votes than did Donald Trump. More women voted for her than did men. Many women who voted for her are college educated to some degree.

As with any election, there is a winner and a loser. So, in this case, more than half of all those who voted in this election are grieving the loss.

But it isn’t just about losing.

For the first time in our history, a woman ran for president of our country. As a lifelong politician and public servant, Ms. Clinton was a strong candidate, especially in her demeanor, experience, and ability to work in a bipartisan manner for the good of the whole.

Therefore, many of us are grieving not just a loss, but the loss of a lifelong dream we have held that a woman could president of our nation and do a good job—as well, if not better—than any man.

We are hurting. We see this loss as a setback, because in so many ways, it is.

Not only did Clinton lose, she lost to a man who openly espoused sexual harassment as a normal part of his day-to-day life. He is also facing charges of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and even sexual molestation of a minor. In addition, he has been charged with fraud (racketeering) related to his failed Trump University business, he has somehow managed to avoid paying taxes for years (of which he brags), and he is in the process of building a cabinet that encompasses known Anti-Semite(s), a VP who is openly and harshly opposed to Roe vs. Wade and LGBTQ rights, and even includes his grown children as part of his special team. By the way, this a clear conflict of interest as they will continue to run his private businesses while he leads the country—with their assistance.

What were Clinton’s sins? The vitriol against her flaws, as opposed to his, was disproportionately astonishing. Emails. Being unlikable. Not smiling. Being hard and firm, even an evil bitch. Being part of an established form of government that people were sick and tired of supporting.

Being a woman.

Yes, I said it. Being a woman.

Our country voted for a misogynistic, criminal, unethical, and racist man over an imperfect woman.

I’ve heard some of my male friends—who I believe are well-intentioned and who believe they mean no harm—say that if it were only a different woman, maybe Elizabeth Warren for example, who had been chosen for the nomination to run for president by either major party, a woman may have made history this election year.

Beside being a crock of shit, this has become a tired refrain that diminishes reality and insults us further as women. The hard truth is, our country wasn’t ready for a female to lead.

Back to us, we are now in a reactionary dance. When we express ourselves, we are being attacked from so many sides, imploring us to accept what is.  We are being told we still don’t measure up.

When we are admonished for our opinions and feelings, we are hurt, and sometimes our response is anger and pain.

The root of this anger and pain, however, lies in abject fear on all sides.

Men see us as a threat. They truly do. Even when they deny it, there is a niggling sense of intimidation in most men’s minds that we are overcoming and surpassing them at alarming rates. For a society that has been rooted in patriarchy, this is a tough pill to swallow. Their fear became woefully evident in the results of the election. And this was supported by women who believe that men are to hold the power because they are indeed the stronger sex.

Women who did not vote for him are reacting to all manner of attacks and berating comments out of fear as well. We are afraid we will never be taken seriously, respected, or honored. We are quite certain that we shall never be fully heard.

When you stand in your own silence for so long, only hearing the echo of your voice off the canyon walls when you shout your worth to the universe, it’s hard to accept other’s reprimands and not-so-gentle advice to calm down. It’s even more difficult to be told to shut the fuck up.

So many of the responses we continue to receive are various forms of gaslighting, which as described by Oxford Dictionaries, is a verb: manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

We see it and hear it every day. Our female friends are saying, “There must be something wrong with me.” Or they say, “I’m sorry, but, maybe I’m not thinking this out like I should…,” when they question this continued status quo. When hit with a barrage of gaslighting, or overt verbal abuse, many of us fold back into ourselves and believe the lie. We return to that place where we think we are asking, even expecting, too much to be heard and validated.

My call to action today to all women is not to give into this lie.

We must gather our strength and courage, more than ever now, and continue to stand for our worth.

Our worth is intrinsic. It does not rely on our abilities to “do a man’s job” well. Women are equally worthy as men to inhabit any space in this world. We need to embrace that worth and reiterate it to the world over and over until it becomes an unquestionable fact.

So, enough with the rhetoric.

If you feel your feet slipping on the icy slopes of the lie that we are not as capable and worthy, remind yourself that you are so much more than what others want you to believe. Do not back down under chastisement or shame for speaking out. Do not allow anyone—man or woman—to make you question your truth and your place in this world.

Pull out the threads of the tapestry that is the lie and weave your own. Then cover yourself in this fabric of authenticity.

WE as women are worthy, simply because we ARE. Once we believe that, there will be no stopping us.

***

14333716_870680583031597_4043572962659965536_n

Kim Bailey Deal writes Women’s Fiction, short stories, poetry, and nonfiction. She has written two novels, now in revision. She authors a weekly column and is former Social Media Manager for www.five2onemagazine.com. Kim has several works published, including in Firefly Magazine Issue #3, on Writersdigest.com, Pilcrow & Dagger, Tuck Magazine, The Scarlet Leaf Review, Madness Muse Magazine, Drunk Monkeys, and forthcoming publications in Sick Lit Magazine, The Magnitizdat Literary, and Firefly Magazine Issue #8. A mother of four, she lives near Chattanooga, TN. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @kimbaileydeal and her blog at www.kimbaileydeal.net

Announcements, Themes, T-shirt contests and More! – Kelly Fitzharris Coody

I know I’ve been posting a lot of editorial notes here lately, but it’s been a nice place to be able to vent.

That being said, I’ve been meaning to post announcements about the previous theme schedule and what’s to come at SLM.

SO, here’s what I’ve decided for now: Melissa is busting her butt, and unfortunately won’t be able to devote as much time to the magazine until after the holidays.

Everything will still happen, guys, just PLEASE bear with me while we go through somewhat of a transition. We will pick up on JANUARY 9th with the themes, picking up with Paul Beckman’s It Began in an Elevator, and go from there.

If we have sent you an email telling you we’ve accepted your work, then we’ve accepted your work. Once I schedule it for publication, you’ll get a personal email from me telling you the exact date and time of publication. I apologize for the delay in getting this information out to all of you, but I woke up with the nastiest cold-slash-flu-thing-virus-that’s-making-its-rounds-in-my-house this morning and have been buried under a mountain of stress on top of that.

Melissa and I were both due a sabbatical – they just so happened to coincide with one another. When I get the finalists from Kean University’s graphic design department for our t-shirt contest, I will post them and you guys will be able to cast votes for your favorites.

There are still good things in store, guys. Just hang in there.

Kelly

 

she is lion face, i am lemon face – by ZACHARY M HODSON

she is lion face, i am lemon face

beneath a slim lick of ice

the koi want you to know they have not died this winter

you had already budgeted several hundred dollars for next spring

which you can now spend on moscato instead

 

ms lion face was sickened by my poem about refusing the advances of a woman with daddy issues

it was not at all what she was looking for

she spat her burdened tongue in my general direction three even times

stroking clean a perceived vice of misogyny

 

i wrinkled my face

recalling the times i wrote hateful things about my mother on paper airplanes

& threw them at her

 

when the pucker settled

all i could think about were the koi under the surface

still there

still alive

still gobbling water bugs while ms lion face skated by in a huff

 

spring will bring the thaw soon enough

you will exhale an epiphanic oh yeah

ms lion face will still not care

***

zachary-m-hodson-headshot

Zachary M Hodson is a multi-genre artist based out of Kansas City, MO. Holding a B.S of Psychology with a minor in Creative Writing from the University of Central Missouri, he has spent the last decade focused equally on poetry, music and music/sports journalism. His writing has been featured in many print and online outlets, including but not limited to Euphony Journal, Leveler Poetry, The Literary Nest, Future’s Trading, Skidrow Penthouse, Royals Blue and The Deli Magazine.