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

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

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

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

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

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

TIMELINE and GUIDELINES: 

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  • WE DO NOT publish books, book-length material, nor do we review books at this time.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

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

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

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

Happy writing!

I will talk to you soon,

 

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Kelly Fitzharris Coody,

Editor-in-Chief

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

Transport me. Make me believe.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Peace out, 

Keep doing what you do, 

zzzyy

Over and out, 

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief

Museum Girl – by Stacey Longenberger

Museum Girl

 

It’s like an old movie projector has switched on.

Soundless; blurry images of family and friends at birthday parties, Christmases, BBQ’s.  Nameless faces with funny hair and even funnier clothes waving at the camera.  Babies eating wrapping paper, mushing cakes.  Children jumping with joy over a gift.  Soccer games, dance recitals, school concerts, proms, graduations.  One image after another.  Just clips of everyday life.  Colorful but silent.

Then a faint whisper.  “She moved her head.”

Cold.  Why am I so cold?  What is that beeping?  That high pitched frantic beeping right by my ear.  What is that? 

“Her heart rate is racing.  How did this happen?”

“She’s been asleep for ages, how do I know?”

Two men are talking in harsh whispers.   Perhaps they’re trying not to disturb me but it’s too late.  What is that beeping?  It’s really annoying.  Am I in a hospital?

“Get Dr. Kelley!”

Yup, I’m in a hospital.  Why am I in a hospital and why do I feel frozen? I think my eyelids are frozen shut.  I can’t open my eyes!  “Her heart rate is still climbing.”  My heart?  I don’t feel my heart.  Wouldn’t I feel heart palpitations?  What has happened to me?  Why am I in the hospital?

“Dr. Kelley, It’s a miracle!  She’s woken up!”

“Are you certain?”

“Yes, sir.  Her neuro and cardiovascular monitors are going crazy.”

“Turn down the Vytronics machine.  We need to thaw her out.”

What is he talking about?

“Give her 220mg of Thiopental.  She needs to be sedated or the pain will be excruciating.”

Excruciating?  Why?  What’s happening to me? 

“Oh, Olivia.  I’ve dreamed of this day.”

The projector is back on.  I see a man’s face.  His smile is luminous.  He’s standing in front of a large canvas with brilliant colors.  An old woman now with a toothless grin sits before a birthday cake.  The man again on a beach.  Then the facade of a church.  A dog. A statue.  The man by an easel. His clothes covered in paint.  The images keep coming only to linger for a second and blur into the next until they fade to black.

Voices.  I hear voices.  “What’s her heart rate?”  “Eighty, sir.”  “Blood pressure?”  “One-ten over seventy.”  “Blood oxygen level?”  “Ninety-eight percent, sir.”  “Beautiful.  She’s coming along beautifully.”  Who’s coming along beautifully?  Me?  There are other noises around me.  A dull buzz of activity and whispers.  And light.  There is so much light behind my eyes.  I can feel a warmth that I want to embrace but can’t.  Touch.  Someone touched me.  Who is that?  There it is again.  More touches.  What is happening?  “Olivia.  Wake up and greet the world beautiful girl.”  Olivia.  That’s me.  I’m Olivia.  I open my eyes.  “Who are you?”  My question is addressed with loud whoops and clapping.  Noise.  So much noise.

People are shouting “it’s a miracle,” “amazing,” “astonishing,” and, “congratulations!”

I slowly look around and take in my surroundings.  I seem to be lying on a bed and there are a group of people to my right laughing and crying with happiness.  They’re hugging each other and staring at me with awe.  I don’t recognize one face amongst them.  I turn to my left and cannot believe my eyes.  Approximately four feet from where I lie is what looks like a clear, thick window.  Beyond that are movie theater rope partitions corralling possibly hundreds of people and they are all looking at me with amazement.  Their hand gestures and faces tell me they are making noise but I can’t hear them.  On the far wall behind them are paintings.  Large, beautiful canvases displayed on clean charcoal walls.  I recognize a Cezanne.  I turn my head back to the right and ask “Where am I?”  A man gently approaches and says “Oh, Olivia, Olivia, Olivia, it is such a pleasure to hear your voice.  Such a beautiful sound.”  This is the man I asked a minute ago who he was.  He has a kind face and is looking at me with so much love that I must know who he is.

But I don’t.

Do I have amnesia?

“I am Dr. Kelley, Olivia.  I have been taking care of you for a while now and I am so pleased to meet you.”

“For a while?  How long have I been here?  Is this a hospital?”

“No, we’re in a museum and we’ll tell you all you need to know in due time.   Right now I need to know how you feel.”

“How I feel?  I’m feeling freaked out right now, Doc.  Why am I in a museum?  Who are all these people?  Why are they staring at me?”

“That will all be explained but I need to know how you feel physically.  Any aches or pains, soreness or numbness, pins and needles, dizziness?”

I take a second to self-evaluate.  I shake my head, no.  “Can you wiggle your toes?”  Good question. I give it a try and yes, I can wiggle my toes.  “How about your fingers now?”  I move my fingers but when I try to lift my arms to bring my hands up, I realize my wrists are restrained.  Dr. Kelly must have noticed because he calls for someone to remove my restraints.  “I’m so sorry, Olivia, but we didn’t know just what state you would wake up in.  We had to protect you from yourself.  Just in case.”

The restraints are removed and I slowly raise my arms up and down wiggling my fingers the whole time.  “Excellent,” says Dr. Kelley.  “We’ve had physical therapists working with you every day and it seems to have done the trick.”  I just stare at him.  I have no words right now.  I turn my head toward the crowd to my left and they all start waving, and smiling, and jumping for my attention.  I’m like an animal in a zoo.  Towards the front of the crowd, a child is holding up what looks like a poster sized iPad with “Welcome Back” written in a child’s handwriting on the screen.  There are flowers and hearts and rainbows all around the words.  The colors are so pure.  That device must have cost a fortune.

Welcome Back?  Where did I go?

I suddenly feel very tired. I also want to cry but I don’t cry in front of people.  Especially strangers and I am surrounded by strangers.  Not one face is familiar.  As I stare out at the crowd they start to fade away.  The glass window is slowly tinting until it is a black wall and I can no longer see the people.

“I think that’s enough for now.  Let’s close the exhibit for the rest of the day.”  Those words aren’t directed at me.  Dr. Kelley is giving directions to the group to my right.  I now notice they are all wearing lab coats.  My eyes are so heavy now that I can’t keep them open.  I wonder where I’ll wake up next time.

I am in my house.  It’s a mess as usual.  I’m walking through the rooms stepping over clothing, books, boxes from Amazon. Someday I’ll clean this up.  I’m carrying two coffees.  Both black.  One is in my favorite mug that I made in college.  I go out the back door.  The air is crisp but the sun is bright.  It’s the perfect fall morning.  Across the overgrown lawn I walk to our studio.  A converted two car garage, it’s our sanctuary.  I kick the door lightly with my foot and wait a beat until the door opens slowly to the outside.  First I see a tan hand with blotches of paint then a muscular forearm and then that smiling face.  Paul.

Paul.  I force open my eyes.  “Paul!”

“She’s awake!”

“Where’s Paul?”  I’m trying to sit up, but they have me restrained again.

“Please.  Take these things off.  Please.  I want to see my husband.  He’s probably worried about me.  Please.”

A young woman is just looking at me.  Her expression changes from wonderment to sympathy to a mask lacking any emotion.  “Dr. Kelley will be in momentarily.”  I suppose that was meant to appease me.  “I don’t care about Dr. Kelley.  I want my husband.  Paul.  Go get him.  Tell him I’m awake.  To hell with Dr. Kelley.”  She just ignores me and keeps staring.  “Boo!” I yell as I quickly raise my head and it startles her but doesn’t deter her gaze.  “What are you staring at?  You’re being terribly rude.”  Yelling now, I command, “Go get my husband!”

Dr. Kelley walks into the room.  “Good morning, Olivia!  How are you feeling today?”

I ignore his question.  “I was just telling Nurse Ratched here to get my husband.”

He looks at me quizzically. “She is not a nurse.”  He turns to the woman, “Why does she think your name is Ratched?”

“I don’t know.  Perhaps it’s a reference from her time.”  They speak like I’m an inanimate object and then both turn to stare at me.  I stare right back.  We have quite the contest until Dr. Kelley losses by saying, “This is Dr. Lona, my protégé.”  I look to her and with a sarcastic bent proclaim, “It’s so lovely to meet you.”

Dr. Kelley continues, “Dr. Lona has been helping me oversee your care for the past few years now and has done an exceptional job.”  Dr. Lona seems to blush as she nods her head in gratitude at his statement.

I, however, am startled by his statement.  He must have misspoken.

“Excuse me, years you say? She’s been caring for me for years?”

Both doctors look sheepish, as if something was said that shouldn’t have been.  Dr. Kelley tries to pass it off as unimportant, “Oh we’ll talk about that all later.  For now we need to get you up and moving.  We have a big day ahead of us.”  Dr. Kelley turns away, gestures, and a group of people walk in.  Three women and two men all in lab coats surround my bed.  One of the women sets to work removing my restraints.  One of the men then walks to the wall by the door they entered from and starts tapping on a screen.  It registers now that I am in the same place I woke up in before and the wall to the left of me is still black.  A noise from above grabs my attention and I peer up to see a robotic arm of some sort drop from the ceiling.  It looks like a small camera in the shape of one of my vacuum attachments.  It sweeps over me in one rapid movement and then retreats again to the ceiling.  A second later a detached voice announces, “All vitals are stable.”

“Excellent!”  That’s Dr. Kelley again.  “Now, let’s get her up.”

I have been mute since the pronouncement of a “big day,” but as I watch all these people reach for me seemingly to get me up, I start screaming.  Screaming from the very core of my being.  Deep, angry screams.  I have reached my breaking point and I want answers.

“Don’t touch me!  I want to know right now who all of you are, where are we, why am I here and Where. Is. My. Husband?!”

I go to sit up, because I just realized that I can, and the room spins.  Hands to my head I lie back down and take deep breaths.  The room is silent except for my heavy breathing.  They are all just staring at me.  Again I am an animal in a zoo.  Then I notice Dr. Kelley and Dr. Lona whispering to each other.  That makes me nervous.  I slowly start to sit up again and the spinning isn’t so bad.  I hear gasps at my movement.  I need to remain calm and appear rational or they’ll drug me again.  Now that I am sitting up I can feel a port of some sort in my back.

“Please.  Please.  I need answers.  Put yourselves in my place.  Wouldn’t you want answers?”

This seems to bewilder them as if their ever being in my place would defy logic.

I can actually see the cogs turning by their expressions.  As they mull over my plea to their humanity, I look around the room.  It’s an utterly stark white space and I immediately loathe every square inch.  Except for the now black window, the space is so white that it appears seamless.  You can hardly tell where the floor and ceiling end and the walls begin.  It’s like being inside a white bubble.

“Are we in a bubble?”

That seems to break their meditation.

Dr. Lona is the one to respond, “We are in a bubble of sort within a museum.  We are here as part of a performance art exhibit.

Dr. Kelley continues with, “Now that is all that we are at liberty to tell you right now.  Cooperate with us and very soon you will have all the information you need.  Now what we need is for you to be a good girl and allow us to help you.”

He says this with a smile on his face and I want to smack it right off him.  My first instinct is to rip into him for his condescending words but I know as much as I hate this man, I need him.  I’ll have to find Paul on my own and I have to get out of here to do it.

Then something occurs to me, “Can I have my cell phone please?”  All the Coats look at each other with amused smiles.  Dr. Lona responds with “Your cell phone won’t help you here.”  “No I have Verizon.  I usually get great reception.  May I have it please?”  Again the amused but confused stares.  Stay calm, stay calm, stay calm.  I chant this to myself while I stay focused on my breathing.  Dr. Kelley claps his hands, “okay that’s enough of that.  Let’s get you up.”  He leads the way over toward me and the rest of the Coats follow.

I’m incredibly frightened but continue my chant as they reach for me.  I cringe from their touch but they are not deterred.  Within seconds my feet touch the immaculate floor.  I’m being held up by two Coats with one under each arm.  I look down and see their feet next to my bare ones.  I notice that someone has given me a fabulous pedicure and that their shoes are rather odd.  Must be European or something.  “Can you take a step?” the Coat under my right arm asks.  I look at his face for the first time.  He has very interesting facial hair in that he has lines shaved into his beard.  Three stripes on each cheek and no mustache.  The beard is closely shaved and ends at his jaw line.  “Vanilla Ice used to do that to his eyebrows.”  Striped beard just looks at me confused.  I clear my throat, look to my feet and take a step.  And then another and another.  I go to lift my arms from the Coat’s clutches and, after a gesture of approval from Dr. Kelley, they allow it but remain by my side.  I take a few steps and feel good if just a little bit stiff.  Nothing a good yoga class couldn’t help.  Paul will help me.  We always do yoga together.  Thoughts of Paul make me want to cry but I will not cry in front of these people.  Stay calm, stay calm, stay calm.  My mantra for today.

After a few more independent steps I stop and look at them.  “Remarkable.  You are an absolute miracle and I must say I’m feeling awfully proud.  Like a father watching his child take her first steps.”  Again I want to smack Dr. Kelley across his smug face but I don’t.  I just follow my mantra and stay silent.  For the first time I take a good look at him.  At all of them.  They are all very well groomed.  The colors of their hair appear natural but incredibly vibrant.  Like HD hair.  No grey, no frizz.  Their skin is flawless and luminous but appear free of makeup.  Even the women.  No makeup just natural flawless beauty.  Their clothing under their lab coats is peculiar.  Very tailored and perhaps seamless though I’m not close enough to confirm that.  I look down at my own clothing aware of it for the first time.  I’m in a snowy white form fitting bodysuit.  I can’t identify a seam or stitch anywhere.  I run my hands down my torso and the hand of the fabric is like nothing I’ve ever felt before.  It must be some amazing silk, cashmere, cotton blend or something.  I wonder if L.L. Bean carries this.

The Coats have all been patient.  Just watching me take everything in.  “Now Olivia, you’ve already met me of course and Dr. Lona but let me introduce you to rest of your team.”  He gestures to the two Coats who helped me walk.  He says Striped Beard’s name is Dr. Dax and the woman is Dr. Beckett.  “They’ve been in charge of your physical therapy and are the main reason you are able to walk today.”  He looks at me expectantly.  I guess this is where I’m supposed to say thank you.  “Thanks.”

They both smile and nod while Dr.  Beckett also chimes in with, “You are very welcome.  It’s been fascinating.  We’ve learned so much.”

“Well, good for you,” is my response.  Perhaps not the most gracious but I really don’t care.

“Next over here we have Cheryl who is your massage therapist and Daniel and Tracey who are in charge of your grooming and personal hygiene.”

I smile and start to say thank you when they all gasp.  “Her first smile!  Oh, how beautiful!” exclaims Daniel.  He does a little clap bouncing thing and both him and Cheryl are beaming with delight.  “Yes, yes, she truly is beautiful but we need to get moving now.  The exhibit will open shortly.”

“Of course, Dr. Kelley.” Daniel moves to a wall where a screen appears at his approach.  He taps a few times and walks away.  The screen fades away.  You would never know one was there.  This place is pretty high tech.  Now the door opens and two men in white seamless jumpsuits (similar to mine but with a baggier industrial-like fit) walk in carrying a large white chair.  They set it down and pick up the bed I had been lying on and walk out. A second later they return with a white table.  They move both the chair and table close to the black window in the center of the room.  They leave and return for a third time with an easel, a canvas, and a box full of paint and art supplies.  At these items it is my turn to gasp.  I recognize that easel.  It’s mine.  My parents bought it for me when I got into art school.

“Why do you have my easel?”

“Oh good, you remember,” says Dr. Lona.  “We weren’t sure how your memories of such things would be.”

“Of course I remember.  Now, why do you have it?”

“We have a lot of your property here at the museum.  It’s all part of the exhibition.  Speaking of which, it’s going to open any minute.  Daniel, do you have her clothing?”

“Yes, right here, Dr. Lona.”  In his hands are a folded stack of clothes.  He places them on the table.  “Do you remember these?” he asks me as he holds up my favorite yellow sweatshirt and then my favorite beat up Levi’s.

“Yes, of course.”

“Would you like to put them on?”

Yes, yes I do. Tears return to my eyes as I see my clothes.  Maybe this means I’m on my way out of here.  It seems like they have to get to work at whatever exhibit they’re talking about anyway.  I walk over to Daniel and eagerly retrieve my clothes.  “Where can I change?”

“Oh sugar, we’ve all seen it all.  Don’t be shy.”

“No, I would like privacy please.  Where can I change?”  Daniel frowns with compassion, but Dr. Kelley speaks, “We cannot give you privacy.  You will change here and please do so quickly.  We are running out of time.”

“I don’t care about your time constraints, Dr.  Kelley, I want privacy.”  My cool is slowly becoming unraveled.  Dr. Kelley and Dr. Lona share a look that makes me nervous.  The “she’s not cooperating again” look.  “Okay, okay.”  I turn my back so then at least I don’t have to see them but quickly realize I don’t know how to take this bodysuit off.  There aren’t any buttons, zippers, velcro, nothing.   Then Daniel throws a tip over my shoulder, “You just pull at the neck and it will open down the front.”  I do as instructed and amazingly, the fabric splits down the middle.  Kind of a shame though. The fabric is so beautiful.  As if reading my mind, Daniel tells me, “The fibers have memory and will mend themselves after you step out.”

I step out and hold up the bodysuit by the shoulders and right before my eyes the fibers mesh back together.  “Quickly, please.”  Dr. Kelley breaks my amazement.  I slowly fold up the bodysuit and place it on the table.  Then I reach for my clothing and find my favorite comfy bra and cotton thong.  I bought them at Target so long ago it’s embarrassing but they are so comfortable.  I put them on, enjoying the waves of frustration I feel coming from Dr. Kelley.  Then my jeans and sweatshirt.  I’m looking for socks and shoes when Dr. Lona asks, “You like to paint bare foot, don’t you?”

“Yes, usually, but I need shoes to walk out of here.”

“You’re not walking out of here.”

“I don’t understand.  Don’t you all have to get to work on some exhibit or something?”

“Olivia, you are the exhibit.”  With that the black window changes to clear and reveals a mob of people.

Just like the last time, I can see the mob’s excitement but not hear it.  There are several of those poster iPad signs.  I walk towards the glass and their excitement grows.  I can see now that they’re not iPads after all.  At least not a kind I’ve ever seen.  They’re flexible.  Actually being waved and waving with the movement and the colors are as vivid as any I’ve ever applied to canvas.  I’m right up to the glass now.  I put my hands up to touch it.  It’s cold and hard and it anchors me.  What I’m seeing is so surreal.

“Welcome Back, Olivia!”

“Happy Re-Birthday, Olivia!”

And then the most confusing of them all, “Welcome to 2517!”

I’m sweating. I feel light-headed and nauseous.

“Are they a part of the exhibit also?”  I point to the crowd.  I’m wondering if we’re all being filmed or something.  Is there another crowd somewhere else watching all of us?  It’s all so bizarre but there must be a rational explanation.

Dr. Kelley shakes his head, “No, Olivia.  What Dr. Lona said is true.  You are the exhibit.  We are in the Art & Science Museum of North America.  You personify the beauty that is created when art and science combine.  You are incredibly famous and all these people are here to see you because you woke up.”

“I woke up.”

They all nod.  I turn my back on them and stare back out at the people.  One little girl is waving at me so fervently that I have to wave back.  When I do the crowd goes crazy.  My vision is getting blurry.  I’m sweating so much that my clothes are sticking to me.  My hands are back up on the cold glass and I lean my forehead on it but that doesn’t help.

I know I’m going down.

I’m back on the bed.  At least I think I am.  I don’t want to open my eyes yet.  I hear whispers, but can’t make out what they’re saying and nor do I care.  Maybe if I keep my eyes closed long enough I’ll sink into oblivion and away from this nightmare.

“She’s waking up.”

Crap.  How did they know?

“You gave us quite the scare there, Olivia.”

I don’t answer.  If I ignore them maybe they’ll go away.  Someone pulls my left eyelid back and I flinch at the sudden intrusion of light.  I rock my head and raise my hands to ward off the prodding fingers.

“Leave me alone.  Please, just leave me alone.  I just want to go home.  I just want to see Paul.  I don’t understand why this is happening to me.”  I can’t hold back the tears anymore.  I cry quietly rolling into the fetal position.  I am so lonely and confused.  No one touches me.  No one says anything but I know they are there.  Watching.  Observing.  Analyzing.  I can feel the heavy gaze of their judgment.

Time passes.  I don’t know how much but I’m empty of tears.  I feel as if I’m drifting off to sleep and I am thankful.  At least in my dreams I can be home.  I can be with Paul.

“Olivia, I think it’s time for us to talk.  We underestimated how disturbing this all would be for you.  You displayed minimal brain activity all through your coma so we assumed that if you ever woke up, we would be dealing with a woman of minimal mental competence.”

I don’t respond.  I just want to sleep.  I just want my dreams.  Remarkably, they take the hint.  Dr. Kelley ushers the team out but not before he lets me know they will be back tomorrow.

I’m driving our Jeep.  Paul drank too much otherwise he would be driving.  He hates when I drive.  He’s passed out in the passenger seat with his head resting against the window.  I’m singing along to John Mellencamp and driving up the dark, narrow, winding road toward our neighborhood.  There is a glow at the top of the hill we’re climbing; mere seconds later, headlights are speeding right toward us.

I have no time to react before the horrifying noise leads to blackness.

I awake with a scream.

What was that?  Were we in an accident?  Is that what happened?  Is Paul dead?  My heart is pounding and I start crying again.  That must be why he’s not here.

The door opens and Dr. Lona walks in.  “Hello Olivia.  Are you alright?  Did you have a bad dream?”

I sit up to face her.  “Paul is dead, isn’t he?”

Her usual mask turns sympathetic and she slowly nods her head.  My comprehension is slow but her expression doesn’t change.  Paul is dead.  My cries explode into wails.  Hands to my head, I violently shake it, incredulous with grief.  “No!  Nooo!  That can’t be true!  He said he would never leave me!  My parents left me!  He said he never would!  Nooooo!”  My screams echo through the otherwise silent room.  My body is shaking with the grief; the pain.  Tears and snot are streaming down my face.  “I’ll give you some time.”  From her tone I can tell she’s uncomfortable.

She leaves the room where my heart has been ripped out and now taints the immaculate floor.

I must have cried myself to sleep.  My hair is being smoothed in a soothing, rhythmic motion and it brings some comfort.  My mother used to do that to me as a child.  I just lie still and try to focus on the gentle touch.  I pretend the hand belongs to my mother, my guardian angel, and she’s come to help me understand all this.

A few minutes pass and I hear Dr. Kelley’s voice ask, “Is she awake?”  The hand startles and then withdraws.

“Yes.”

So Dr. Lona is my angel.

“Has she spoken?”

“No.  Dr. Kelley, I would like to be the one to explain the situation to Olivia.  I think she might respond better if it’s one on one, woman to woman.”

There’s silence for a few beats before he responds with, “Very well then.  You will be observed however; so choose your words carefully.”

A few seconds later I hear, “He’s gone now.  Please open your eyes.”

I don’t.  I’m not ready to face the music yet.  A few moments pass.

“Olivia, please open your eyes.  I have a lot to tell you and much of it is rather complicated so I need to know you are truly hearing me.”

I don’t want to truly hear her.  Now that I know about Paul, I have no interest in what she has to say.

“Olivia, I have a letter for you from Paul.”

My eyes fly open and I quickly sit up.  “I thought that would get your attention.”

”Let me see it,” I say while holding out my hand.

“I need to explain some things first.  This letter won’t make sense unless I do.”

I nod in response and then say, “Okay, go ahead.”

“On January 1st, 2017, you and Paul were in a car accident.  The woman in the car that hit you was drunk, had a fight with her boyfriend, got in her car and drove off.  It was a head-on collision.  She died instantly.  You and Paul both sustained terrible, life-threatening injuries.  You fell into a coma.  Paul eventually gained consciousness and after many surgeries and hundreds of hours of physical therapy was healthy and strong enough to leave the hospital.”

I go to say something but she holds up her hand to stop me.  “I will explain.  He was able to leave but he hardly ever left your side.  He just sat at the side of your bed and talked to you, read to you, sang to you.  Friends and family encouraged him to try and get on with his life but he wouldn’t hear it.  He was your advocate and oversaw every part of your care.  He spoke to doctor after doctor, researcher after researcher, looking for a way to wake you up.  Your injuries healed but you kept sleeping.  By then he was almost ruined financially.  Paying for your care and his medical bills was crippling.  He had to start working again so he brought his art supplies into your hospital room.  You were his muse and he painted you over and over again.  He would post his work on social media and write about you to help raise money for your care.  Then a journalist for the New York Times wrote an article about you two and you both became famous.  It was such a romantic love story and the world loved it.  You both became recognized globally as talented artists and Paul was able to sell both of your works.  A film documentary followed that won an Oscar.  After that, money wasn’t an issue.  Everyone capable of investing in art wanted to own a piece of either yours or Paul’s work.  Through all this he hardly left your side.  If he had to be away it was never for more than a day or two.  This went on for years…….”

At this I held up my hand.  “Please stop for a moment.  This is all a lot to take in.”  My head is spinning.  I just want to run away; but where would I go?

“How many years?” I ask.

“We’re about three years into the story.”

Three years?

“I have so much more to tell you.  Are you ready?”

I’m not but I nod anyway.

“In 2021, Paul partnered with a doctor he became very friendly with to create a foundation that funds research dedicated to helping coma victims.  They would have dinners that cost thousands of dollars a plate and auction off your artwork, his own, and others donated by artists looking to make a name for themselves.  Work with the foundation kept Paul very busy and he wasn’t able to be with you as frequently.  By 2025 he was only coming on Sundays.  But he would still talk to you and read and sing.  He would always tell you how much he loved you and missed you and would beg you to open your eyes.  But in 2026, his relationship with his partner, Dr. Drizell, changed and they became romantically involved.  Once that became public knowledge……”

I tune her out.  Romantically involved. 

She announced that like she was announcing the weather.  If there was anything left of my heart, it has now gone up in smoke.  Smoke is going to rise up my esophagus and out my nostrils.  The image makes me giggle and Dr. Lona stops talking.  My giggle escalates to full on laughter.

“You said he was dead.  Which is it?  Is he dead or did he leave me for another woman?”  The idea of either one is so absurd it’s funny.  Morbidly funny.

“Both.”

My laughing stops and tears prick my eyes.

“As I was saying,” Dr. Lona continues, “the public was outraged.  They didn’t care that you had been in a coma for nine years and showed no sign of coming out of it, they wanted the love story.  But Paul had lost hope and Dr. Drizell seemed to hasten that for him.  She herself was a brilliant neurologist and you had been studied by the best in the world.  None of them were optimistic that you were ever going to wake up.  Then when Dr. Drizell became pregnant, he legally signed your care over to the foundation and him and Dr. Drizell left the country.  They lived in relative isolation in Sweden for 20 years, raising two children, before they were both killed in a car accident.”  She stops and stares at me.  It’s like she just tied that story up with a neat bow.  So matter of fact.  “Karma can be a real bitch,” she says and smiles.

Am I supposed to be happy that he died in a car accident in Sweden with his mistress?  My emotions can’t move that fast.  He is, or was, the love of my life.  The tears are just streaming down my face as I stare back at her.

I feel an overwhelming weight of sadness that literally pushes me to fall forward.  I almost hit the floor but Dr. Lona catches me.  “Whoa, are you alright?  I know it’s a lot to take in but we have a lot more to go over.”

“I’m done.  I don’t want to hear anymore.  Just give me the letter and get out.”

I’m sitting on the bed again with my hand out ready for the letter.  She sits back down and looks away as she says, “Unfortunately, I can’t do that.  I have been directed to give you the complete story.  You need to hear it and accept it so that we can move on with the exhibit.”

“The exhibit!” I yell.  “Screw the exhibit!  I don’t care about or even wish to be a part of any exhibit!”

“I’m sorry, Olivia, but you don’t have a choice.”

“Of course I have a choice!  I’m a human being and an American citizen.  I have rights!”

“The United States of America, as you remember it, no longer exists.”

I look at her in utter disbelief.

“Please just let me continue.  When Paul signed your care over to the Foundation he also stepped down as the head of the Foundation.  The new head was a brilliant man though he lacked a lot in the way of scruples.  His name was Dr. Lyle and he basically sold you to science.  He teamed up with a company that was researching the science of Cryonics.  This company was looking to unlock the key to immortality through freezing.  For years while you slept, they experimented on animals but when it was time to experiment on a human being, you were offered up.  You were frozen at the age of fifty-five and haven’t aged a day since.”

Fifty-five?  That can’t be right.

“I’m 35.”

Dr. Lona sighs in frustration at my lack of comprehension.

“You were 35 when you were in the car accident.  You were in a coma for twenty years before you were put on the Vytronics machine.”

She pauses and stares at me perhaps to let that sink in.

“What year is it now?”

She continues to stare.  She looks torn like she’s not sure if she should tell me.

“Just tell me!”

She jumps from the rage in my voice then sighs.

“Olivia, I will tell you but what you need to focus on is how important you are.  You, Olivia, are an absolute miracle cherished and loved by millions of people.”

“I don’t care.  I never asked for any of this.  What year is it?”

“Today is June 24th, 2517. You’ve been asleep and frozen for five hundred years.”

She says this with a smile and tears in her eyes.  She reaches forward and places her hand on mine and looks at me like a mother would her child.  I pull my hand away and start laughing again because she must be either joking or out of her mind.

“2517?  You can’t be serious?  2517, ha, ha, ha, ha !  Are we in space?  Is this museum on Mars?  Ha, ha, ha,ha….”

She gives me a hurtful look that morphs to very serious.  “No, we are on Earth but my sister lives on a new development station just a few hundred miles from Mars.  Not my cup of tea though.”

She’s straight faced and business-like.  The doctor is back in.  “Now that you know the year, here is the rest of what I am charged with telling you: The Olivia Phoenix Foundation still exists and the head of the board is Dr. Kelley.  He has been the head of the board and your legal guardian for the past eighty years.  For twenty of the past eighty you have been on permanent exhibit here at the museum.  Your awakening has created a scientific marvel; and it’s brought an exciting, revelatory element to the exhibit. And the Foundation’s board as well as the museum’s board are overjoyed about all the possibilities.”

“The possibilities,” I repeat.

“Oh yes, Olivia.  The possibilities.”

# # #

Sick Lit Photo

Stacey Longenberger is a south shore Long Island girl, born and bred.  She left a career in fashion to stay home with her three kids and doesn’t regret it one bit.  Stacey loves to read and when she’s not reading, she’s creating a story in her head.  Every now and then, she writes one down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

  1. Is SLM back? 

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

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

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

 2. What’s with the themes? 

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

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

It’s a different animal.

Bear with me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, what does that mean for the magazine?

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

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

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

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

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

Over and out, 

my beautiful readers and writers 😉 

zzzyy

Kelly Fitzharris Faulk, Editor-in-Chief 

Remains – by Amanda McLeod

Remains

The first time I woke up after, I headed out to the well like I did every morning. I was surprised to find the well full of stars. You couldn’t drink stars when I went to sleep. The stars were in the sky then. But the world is different now.

Now, the sky is filled with other things I don’t recognise; and around those things smaller things wheel and skim like the insects used to around the porch light at night. I still put the light on each night. I don’t know why. I haven’t seen anyone since I woke up. Where everyone went is a mystery, but I suspect it has something to do with the things in the sky.

I still am not sure how it happened. I went to sleep, then woke up, just as I always do, only I woke up to this instead of the world I was expecting. I’m not sure how much time passed while I was asleep but the forest had come back which suggests several hundred years. The house still stood, though somewhat rickety, and the concrete well remained, full of stars instead of water. Although time has clearly marched on without me, I feel as though I have gone back in it rather than forward.

Plants have reclaimed much of what was taken from them, and in turn animals have followed. I suspect, given my solitude and the strange happenings in the sky, that this planet was left to heal itself. It has done a spectacular job, and what anomalies I have noticed, such as the well of stars, are not unpleasant. As to myself being the only person here, I was already old when I went to sleep and I had no family and few friends. I believe I was simply overlooked.

My daily existence is as simple now as it was before. I wake in the morning and go to the well, where I draw the stars I need for my day. Then I set about the routine of staying alive; fixing and repairing, growing and nurturing, harvesting and storing. I try to learn from the unknown mistakes of a past that passed me by. I make myself part of this place, a strand in the web rather than an apex predator. When I am out foraging, I sometimes see animals. Some I know, and some are slightly foreign, as evolution slowly works its magic. By unspoken treaty we live in harmony; both they and I neither fear nor are feared.

I am unsure whether anyone knows I am here. I would like to believe those things in the sky are aware of my presence. Should they come for me, however, I do not believe I would go. The universe out there feels too big. The familiar strangeness of this place is comforting. Should it ever come to that, I will tell them politely that I wish to stay here, and I will advise them to leave this world alone, as it finds new ways to heal old wounds. If they return, they will need to bring with them a different way of knowing, lest this become a circle. Perhaps it will happen while I am alive, perhaps never. Either way, I will spend my last days in this wild beautiful place, drinking from my well of stars.

***

Amanda McLeod Headshot

**Amanda wrote this piece of fiction for SLM’s writing prompt for 2017: You wake up 500 years in the future. Describe what you see, hear, smell, and how the passage of time has changed your surroundings. Be creative. Be different. Be daring.**

Amanda McLeod is a writer and artist, currently based on the east coast of Australia. Her fiction has appeared in Sick Lit Magazine, The Scarlet Leaf Review, OJAL: Open Journal Of Arts And Letters, and elsewhere. She enjoys good coffee, rainy nights, being outside, and almost anything to do with cheese. Her plans for the future include finishing her novel and publishing a children’s book.

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

zzzyy

Life, The Magazine, and a Job Opportunity – Editor-in-Chief, Kelly Fitzharris Faulk

Hey, guys!

I’m checking in to let you know that today my mother is undergoing extensive back surgery and that I’m going to be sort of in and out as much as I can be.

The themes are still running, I’ll post your pieces as soon as I am able to, but if I’m not back with you right away, it’s because I’m indisposed. I’m hoping to be able to schedule some more work tonight – but if I can’t, I don’t want you to worry. It will happen.

Unrelated side note: I am actively looking for an employee whose sole purpose at SLM will be to establish, create, and accurately procure some sort of running, longstanding site monetization. Monetizing this thing will not only help with staff momentum and motivation, but also eventually get us to a place where we might be able to pay our writers. For the past two years, this has been my passion project – it will continue to be a passion project – I’ll just have more time to devote to it if I’m able to somehow make the money I’ve invested in it back.

Now: I’m accessible and communicate freely with my writers because that’s who I am, first, and because I truly enjoy it. That being said, I dislike being blind copied on a submission that’s going out to about 40 other publications. Now, this isn’t to say that we don’t accept simultaneous submissions, because of course we do. But if you have scoured Duotrope and Poets & Writers and picked us because we seem like an easy place to be published, then we are not for you.

I LIVE for the emails I receive where a writer talks to me person-to-person. My regular contributors / artists / writers all talk to me that way, referencing different editorials I’ve posted, checking in with me, as I check in with them as well – this isn’t some fly by night publication. I’m building SLM in a way that brings back the writer – editor connection, not the other way around. We are NOT every other journal / lit mag / whatever hipster term is popular for this – what Editor Z loves, possibly an attached cover letter (WTF?! Is this a job interview?!), strict margins, strict professionalism in the body of the email, and basically a carbon copy of every other submission that they accept, IS NOT what I expect, nor is it what I want. Would you like to know why? Because that’s not what a true talent for writing is all about. The vast majority of us are NOT type A personalities who organize everything to death and drool over formatting.

If an editor is rejecting work solely based on that criteria, then I’m HAPPY to receive all the great work that they’re missing out on. I don’t know when writing became such a standardized, marginalized game of favorites; and who deemed what type of writing is supposed to be “right” and what’s supposed to be “wrong.” That very line of thinking goes against everything that we writers stand for; because writing is an art. Art doesn’t live within the margins, literally and figuratively.

Our tagline, Bringing the real. Keeping the weird. isn’t what you might think it is. It means that we’re ALL WEIRD. Who is normal? What is normal? (I’ll give you a clue: there is no normal.) I want you to be yourself (hence the real) and I want you to write what you love to write (hence the weird).

I want to (and try to) stress this in as many of my editorial notes as I possibly can, because we have enough site traffic and wonderful pieces of writing and art that a lot of my mission statements (or whatever you want to call it) sort of get lost in the mix.

Nicole summed it up pretty well in the Submissions FAQ when she said: What we’re NOT: Easy Access. That is true, definitely. It’s true because I may see greatness in something that every other editor has passed on; and I can also see through a piece of writing that lacks spirit and passion. And I’ll tell you another thing: after being published here, for some strange, magical reason, suddenly, other editors begin to publish the writers that I feature here.

Editors need to take their jobs a little more seriously – because, like it or not, we are a gateway to exposure; and that sometimes means you’re a writer’s last and/or only hope.

I can’t promise you guys that I’m going to singlehandedly change the entire literary landscape. But I can promise you this: as long as I’m here, I will work as hard as I can to be that change that we writers all need so desperately (while I’m working here at SLM). This doesn’t always mean that I’m going to respond to your submission vomiting sunshine and rainbows. A lot of times, I’ll send you back a page of your work with markups and tell you to get to work. Writing is a process. It’s a lot of trial and error and without personal growth, your writing becomes stagnant.

On “Career Day” at Bluewater Elementary in Niceville Florida, I was in second grade, eight years old, and a regular visitor at the school’s library. As an avid reader and consumer of content, content, content, I knew where I wanted to be in this world.

My entire class had to give their answer to the question of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” After listening to answers like ballerina, football player, fireman, police officer, actor, model, and many, many others, I was the last to answer.

“Well, Kelly Marie, what is it that you want to do when you grow up?”

I cleared my throat. “I’d like to be a part of the media.”

My teacher chuckled. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, I want to be part of the media. I want to write. I want to be a part of it in my own way.”

And, well, here I am.

Keep submitting.

Keep writing.

Be patient with me.

zzzyy

Cheers,

Kelly