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  • WE DO NOT publish books, book-length material, nor do we review books at this time.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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What’s the deal with these themes?! – Kelly Coody, Editor in Chief

Let’s talk. 

Themes.

It started over the 2015-2016 holiday season when I got on a creative whim and started with flash fiction week, then poetry week, then women’s writing week, and so on and so on.

Then I turned it over to you guys to decide some themes – I turned it into a contest where each winning theme would be a month long and would be named after the winners. (Kate Jones’s Invisibility Theme, Santino Prinzi’s Perceptions Theme, Voima Oy’s What if? theme, Chris Iacono’s First Love Theme, Rob True’s The Journey Theme, etc, etc.)

The upcoming themes are undoubtedly more specific and difficult. The upcoming themes (October of 2016 through December of 2016) were also chosen by a contest and will be named after the winners just like before.

Why have I chosen such “difficult themes?”

Remember that editor’s letter where I said that I view SLM like the continuation of My So-Called Life’s Liberty Lit? It’s an episode where the substitute comes into the classroom, shakes up the way they think about writing and changes their minds; and their hearts. First, he strips everyone’s writing down to bare bones. Then he builds them back up, has them fine tune it.

That’s what I’m doing.

I started out by having you throw away the rule-book and write from your heart. Then, I added in some themes to guide you. Now, I’m choosing themes that will challenge you.

If you think of some classic / common archetypes in literature, though, such as love, war, a journey, good versus evil, the initiation, the fall, coming of age, honoring your historical past, alienation / ostracism,  etc, our upcoming winning themes ALL can fall under one of these broader archetypes in one way or another.

October: Jeffrey H Toney , PhD’s Epiphany (this is already a classic archetype in themes, but can be a sub-type of coming of age, loss of innocence, survival of the fittest, struggle with self, the power of love, the power of nature, etc.)

October: Paul Beckman’s writing prompt: It began in an elevator (Not a classic archetype, but one hell of a writing prompt. If you get writer’s block, this is a great one to go with.)

November: Carrie Redway’s Ancestral Gems (A sub-type of honoring your historical past, struggle with self, the fall, initiation, etc.)

November: Carrie Redway’s Drought (A sub-type of Alienation / Isolation, the power of nature, the struggle with nature, struggle with self, the fall, war, good vs. evil, disillusionment, etc.)

December: Penny Barratt’s Ambiguity (A sub-type of anything, really; loss of innocence, disillusionment with life, good vs. evil, tolerance of the atypical)

December: Ani Keaten’s Photograph  (Love, war, the effect of scientific progress [technological advances], historical past, family, struggle with self, disillusionment with life, etc.)

We’ve chosen two per month to give you guys a choice; that way, if your writing doesn’t fall into, let’s say, the EPIPHANY category for October, you can submit to Paul Beckman’s writing prompt.

I didn’t do this to make it more complicated; I did this to add choice and variety–to add color.

But based on our recent submissions drought, I’m starting to think there are a few things I need to clarify or ask for your feedback on.

An archetype is an archetype — it’s just a thing — my book can fall under struggle with self, good vs. evil, coming of age, loss of innocence, and many more. Think of it in broader terms, not the word, but the multiple meanings the word holds.

Also, forgive me for deviating a bit here, but why is it important to stick to a “classical archetype?” Why not do something different? It almost feels as if someone read all the books that have inhabited schools’ assigned reading lists for the past two decades and then chose story-line archetypes based on those books.

So many of the books that were “assigned reading” were books that I deemed highly inappropriate for my age group. Ahem, Huckelberry Finn, Tom Sawyer, The Scarlet Letter? 

Also: there is so much censorship out there just for the sake of censorship. I read a list yesterday of literary journals that were considered “inclusive.” Apparently using curse words is something that serves to disqualify us from being considered inclusive? I’m not sure how saying the word damn does this, or who gets to say what the rules are, but we are open-minded and open for submissions.

In order to put an end to our submissions drought, as of now we are running a contest for BEST SUBMISSION in each theme category! We will be picking SIX WINNERS and naming them along with all SIX of our Pushcart Prize Nominees next month.

OCTOBER: Epiphany OR It began in an elevator…

NOVEMBER: Ancestral Gems OR Drought

DECEMBER: Photograph OR Ambiguity

Send all submissions to sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com and specify your theme in the subject line. Just as a refresher, we are open to all types of submissions, including fiction, flash fiction, poetry, essays, art and photography.

I can’t wait to read your submissions!

Let’s get inspired today!

Cheers,

Peace and Love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

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Submissions? Yes, please.

I know, I know, I originally said we were closed to all non-solicited submissions until January 31st. I changed my mind. We have a themed month coming up, Kate Jones’s “Invisibility” theme for February. If you know anything about me or SLM, you’ll know that I will encourage you to interpret this loosely, much like I interpret the bible (haha?). Invisibility can be the way you feel when you’re hurting or depressed; the way that people seem to flee when they see you coming and you’re in a bad mood. It can also be the way we’re treated as women sometimes, especially when it comes to the workplace and our children. It can be interpreted into a horror story. Invisibility is such a great theme because it encompasses SO MANY other themes. So, at this time, if you have not been invited to submit or have not been previously published by SLM, you MAY SUBMIT FOR THE THEME OF INVISIBILITY. (Please send all submissions to me directly at kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com )

It may sound comical, but I got my latest bit of writing inspiration from an episode of Arthur that my kids were watching yesterday. One of the characters, Sue Ellen, met the author of Coraline.

He told her that everyone has a story to tell; everyone’s story is unique.

She had a concern. “But some people don’t like it.”

“Not everyone will like your story,” he said. So true. “But your story still needs to be told. It needs to be heard. And it will eventually find the right audience.”

I was standing in the kitchen scrubbing old oatmeal out of not one, but THREE bowls (hell might be cleaning old oatmeal out of bowls, I’m fairly certain) when I heard this, not thinking much of it.

But the more that it sank in, the more riled up I got.

I woke up this morning with the words still stuck in my head.

As a writer myself (and journalist and editor), I’m GREAT at inspiring you guys to send in your writing and boosting you up. However, am I so great at doing the same for myself? Not really. When I see the numbers that my own fiction gets compared to some of yours, I can’t lie and say that it doesn’t bother me or discourage me, as silly as that may sound.

There’s never a rhyme or reason necessarily when a piece of art, poetry, fiction, etc, gets hardly any views versus getting a lot of views.

Most often, the hardest advice to follow is your own.

Give me a piece of writing that came from the heart that needs a few semicolons instead of commas ANY DAY over a piece of over-edited, mass-marketed CRAP. I’m serious. When I call myself the editor, I’m not saying that to self-glorify. I edit a lot of the work that you read on here; and that’s OKAY. That’s how it’s supposed to be. Don’t call yourself an editor if all you did was copy and paste it and ADD typos. (It’s happened to me.)

ALL OF YOU are contributors to a truly one-of-a-kind, passionate, transparent publication that is unapologetic for what it is. And I continuously find myself humbled and honored to be at the receiving end of your submissions. As I’ve said a million times and will say a million times more, I don’t understand the editors who seem like they hate their jobs. When my inbox is inundated with submissions, I am happy. That means that things are going well.

Having too much content to choose from is a gift from the gods! It’s not a burden. And the moment that it becomes a burden is the moment that I think the editor job is no longer the right job for you. It’s true. Even for me.

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Peace and Love, SLM team 🙂

Cheers!

Your loving editor,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

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