Gather Around, Guys. You Might Want to Read This One Sitting Down. SLM is Closing. – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

Loss, Life, and the Aftermath

I’m hopelessly transparent in all of my editor’s letters. I owe it to you guys; the ones who are putting your hearts and souls into your submissions. You’re baring everything to me on the blank page and in the bodies of your emails.

My husband is more of a private person than I am. He doesn’t quite understand the fact that I need to share my pain, my loss, and my grief in order to truly heal.

Back in June I suffered a miscarriage.

I am currently suffering from another miscarriage.

Two losses this close together are two too many. I can’t even begin to explain to you the myriad of emotions and hormonal fluctuations I’m going through – there are times when I flat-out feel like I’m losing my mind. That, coupled with the workload of SLM, the fact that it’s grown into something that’s beyond me is something that I can no longer control.

Honestly, as I combed through submissions and saw that about 90% of them were addressed to Nicole, I slammed my laptop shut and I think I even went so far as to scream into a pillow. Here I was working my tail off, yet again, trying to revive the magazine, working all alone, and I couldn’t even get any submissions that were addressed to me. I make no money doing this, guys. Nicole didn’t make any money. Melissa didn’t make any money. This was absolutely a passion project; and if I don’t even recognize the magazine I worked so hard to create, then it’s no longer fun. It hasn’t been fun for a long time. The accessibility aspect that I strove so hard to uphold; the fact that I wanted that open line of communication between the writer and the editor somehow made me into everyone’s favorite doormat. That’s not who I am. That’s not why I created SLM. I could go on and on and on and on, but the point of this letter is to convey to all of you that I’m officially closing up shop. 

To those of you who have been with me from the beginning: Kate Jones, C. C. O’Hanlon, Gene Farmer, Chris Iacono, Tom Gumbert, Nicole Ford Thomas, Scott Thomas Outlar, Melissa Libbey, Jayne Martin, Steve Carr, Dee Lean, Mickie Bolling-Burke, Katie Lewington, Steve Cooper, Sebnem Sanders, Don Tassone, David Cook, Jamie Andrews, and so many, many more of you that I know I forgot to name because I’m literally thinking off the top of my head at the moment: Thank you. You were my biggest cheerleaders. You all believed in what I did and wanted to be that change on the literary horizon with SLM.

And to those of you whom I wrote an acceptance letter to: I’m truly sorry. This is a ship that is simply not navigable by one person. I thought I could start things back up and it would be just like riding a bike, that everything would click and I’d get back into a groove. But that wasn’t the case. Those acceptances I sent meant that I saw brilliance in your work and I still see brilliance in it and potential in you. I’m just so sorry that I can’t be the one to display your work. 

After a long talk with Nicole, we named all the things that were going on in my life that were out of my control, that were stressing me and pushing me to my boiling point. Having two (almost) back-to-back miscarriages has done a number on my body and my mind and it has been the most god-awful, harrowing experience I’ve ever gone through.

I’m remarried to a wonderful, wonderful man who loves me and my children and would do anything for me.

But it doesn’t erase the horrible year I’ve had. It doesn’t mean that I don’t get a pang deep inside my chest of sadness every time I have to hand my kids over to my ex-husband. NO mother wants to see their own children only 50% of the time. That part will never get easier, I’m afraid.

There are still many aspects from the divorce that I’m bitter about and I’m angry about. I might always be bitter when it comes up. Who knows? A lot of wrong was done to me. I was stepped on a lot. And then there were those of you who either stayed with me during that time or who left as the world as I’d known it crumbled around me. That speaks louder than any words you might muster up as an excuse.

I’m not just a caveat for your limelight and a bullet point for your resume or a passionate letter-writer when you need a recommendation. I’m a real person who has real, devastating, life-altering issues going on at the moment. I’m a writer, too. I had a book published about a year ago.

To those of you who are regular readers and contributors, who know me well, and who care: I’m sorry. I truly am. You are the ones I was doing this for. Even the new contributors who have taken the time to comb through this site and find out what I’m really about and wrote about it in their emails: I was doing this for you, too. And I’m sorry.

I’ve poured my heart, my passion, my creativity into this web site and devoted countless hours to this project. It includes so much work that it’s laughable how simple some people think it is. I created this web site. I bought its domain name. I go through every submission and read it and contact that writer myself. After that, I have to go into the web site, format that writer’s work, ensure (maybe this is the fifth or sixth time) that there are no typos or grammatical or punctuation errors, insert their author photo and bio, put a category with it, choose a cover photo, and then I can schedule it for publishing. I also have to send the writer an email letting them know the date and the time that their work will show up on the web site. It’s work. It’s a lot of damn work. And it’s too much to be doing alone. At the moment there are over a hundred unanswered emails in the submissions inbox and it makes me CRAZY. I can’t do it anymore. And I certainly can’t do it alone.

I need to close this down and do something for myself for a while.

Nicole and I are very good friends. She no longer works for the magazine in an editorial capacity and hasn’t in a long time. So I meant  no disrespect toward her as I told you that when I saw all the submissions were addressed to her, that I sort of lost my shit. We talk frequently – and we also can’t ever seem to get off the phone with one another – because we’re essentially the same person. Our friendship and working relationship mean a great deal to me and whenever I start up something in the future, you might see her there with me.

But as of right now I need to do right by myself and take this albatross off of my shoulders and remove it from the string it’s attached to around my neck.

I need to do some work on myself and stop trying to distract myself away from my feelings.

More than likely, I will keep the same web site, but the URL will change. I’m a writer. I need to get back to my roots and I need to do so in order to stay sane.

Feel free to leave any and all comments, concerns, and questions below. I invite your input. Please. This is the one time you should speak freely.

Again, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we couldn’t make it work. I’ve failed a lot in 2017 – but that doesn’t mean that I’m a failure. It means that I dared to take a leap of faith. I dared to do what no one else was willing to do and I failed. But if success isn’t a destination, then neither is failure. It doesn’t mean that you won’t see me again in another capacity. It means that this isn’t the creative outlet that I set out for it to be any more.

Thank all of you for your support.

Signing off,

Over and out,

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

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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…..

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

Cheers, 

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk 

 

 

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,

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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.

***

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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.

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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-

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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? 

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