Update: Submissions Closed! – by Nikki rae Spano

Here’s the deal: Kelly started a new job which has taken up most of her time, and I’ve fallen behind on, well, everything.

While I’m thrilled at the volume of submissions SLM is getting, I’m simply drowning.

As you can see, it’s nearly April and I’m still working on publishing stories from the January and February prompts. My brain is chaotic. The schedule is fucked. (Pardon my vulgarity, but it is what it is.)

Basically, I have to temporarily close submissions until I can get through whatever is already in my inbox, publish what needs to be published, and catch my damn breath.

Anything sent in will be deleted immediately until submissions reopen.

Thanks for understanding.

Keep writing.

Nikki rae Spano


What’s the deal with these themes?! – Kelly Coody, Editor in Chief

Let’s talk. 


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!


Peace and Love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody




Guess Who’s Here to Stay? I am – Senior Editor, Melissa Libbey

Happy August, Sick Lit Magazine Readers!


It has been a lot of fun this summer. Kelly and I have done a lot of work (as you can already see), but we are doing even more work behind the scenes to get you excited about this fall and what’s to come.

We have some awesome themes coming your way and I am excited to read all of the submissions that we receive in the upcoming months!

I took a small vacation to Denver, Colorado. I saw a concert at Red Rocks amphitheater and just enjoyed the views and food of a great city. It was just the getaway I needed to come back home with fresh, new energy for creativity with the site as well as with my own writing.

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I am happy to announce that I have accepted some teaching jobs for this fall. I will be teaching at three different colleges. My English degree is finally coming in handy! But I couldn’t have done it without all of you. Working with all of our contributors on editing and revising your work has really prepared for working with young writers and teaching composition.

I’m excited to be in front of the classroom this fall, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be sitting behind my computer screen reading all of your work! Kelly and I have some exciting things happening in our future; but we both promised that SLM will be better than it ever has been.

I’m not sure if most of you know this, but Kelly and I don’t get paid for this job.

We both do it because we love your writing and want to get the word out about great writing. We are writers ourselves and we both believe that writing is a practice. You only get better at the craft by reading good writing and practicing your own personal style as much as you can.

I have to apologize for some of the posts in July. As you know, Kelly was sick for a good part of the month. I didn’t want her to worry about a thing, so I took over everything. I wasn’t too familiar with scheduling the posts. Kelly tried to walk me through it, but I did make some minor mistakes and I apologize to anyone who felt that their formatting or writing was off. I learned as I went along but I was so happy to hear that Kelly started feeling better and she once again took over.

Speaking of Kelly, I am excited to announce that our Editor-In-Chief Kelly Coody is now a published author! Her novel, Unhinged, is now on sale. http://www.snowleopardpublishing.com/#!product-page/iil1o/5a59ddcb-8bf2-0dda-e03e-52f63c22cf35

I pre-ordered my copy and it should hopefully be here soon so I can start reading it. You all should order it too and maybe we can do a little Q & A session with her.

One of the reasons I have decided to stay on at SLM after my internship is because of the sense of community that this site has. I love seeing everyone encourage fellow writers on Twitter and by commenting on their stories on the site. PLEASE DO MORE OF THIS!

As writers, we love feedback. Kelly and I always try to give everyone feedback.

We encourage you to do that for each other. Read a poem that you like? Retweet it! Read an awesome fiction piece? Leave a comment for the author. This is what creates a sense of community and togetherness. Kelly focuses on the Twitter page while I run the Instagram. Give us a shout out. Leave a comment if you like a certain piece. Tell us what you love about it. That’s why we do this!

That’s why we work on the weekends and read emails when our significant others tell us to go to sleep. We love doing this, we want you all to be a part of it!

Enough of that, how about we celebrate August’s theme, Santino Prinzi’s Perceptions?!

I have loved this theme so far. We have gotten so many submissions and I love how everyone has taken this theme and ran with it. Everyone looks at the idea of “perceptions” differently and that has been the best part of reading the submissions.

When I think of the theme perceptions, I think of a dream. The way we perceive things in our everyday lives is just the way our minds handle things when we are conscious. But our subconscious has a way of viewing things differently, in example, our dreams.

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I can go nights without remembering a single dream. Then there are nights when I can’t stop thinking about what happened in my dream. Sometimes I try to decode different things that happened or people who popped up. I tend to dream about people I haven’t seen in years, which is very weird to me.

After thinking about this month’s theme some of my dreams came to mind. I thought about writing about them. What a great story some of my dreams could make. But then I decided against it. There are just some dreams that I don’t want to visualize ever again. The good thing about dreams is that we have the ability to wake up from it and forget it ever happened.

Have a great month everyone!


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Melissa Libbey

Senior Editor

The Best Medicine is SLM…Or So I’ve Heard – Kelly Coody, Editor in Chief

A word on submissions: if we tell you that we love your work, that’s not an automated reply. We’re actually typing that e-mail to you after we’ve read your piece with a fine-toothed comb; we’re telling you that we love it, meaning we want to see more of you and your submissions. We kind of love our repeat contributors here at SLM. 

Which brings me to my next point:

Are you a writer?

This isn’t a trick question; nor does it exist to elicit vague answers. It’s either an emphatic yes or a no.


Think: do you love it–is it what truly makes you happy?

If you can confidently answer yes to that question, then you are a writer. Everyone has a story to tell–and only you can tell it. Your voice, your story and your passion all deserve a fighting chance.

We are the vehicle for that fighting chance, that previously untold story, and that spirited piece of writing that might need a few revisions.

Let rejections strengthen you, not plague you with self-doubt or encourage you to give up. As an experiment, if you receive a rejection within the next week, read it all the way through. Then take a deep breath. And find your silver lining; find a reason to smile.

The world is still our playground–as adults, we always seem to forget that along the way.

When you strip away everything, when you’re left lying in bed trying to fall asleep at night, that’s when the realization can hit you: the only person you’re meant to be while you’re on this earth is you.

Embrace that.

Shake off the bad days, string of bad days, bad moods, or whatever has you down. Rest. Wake up to a new start; make yourself a strong cup of coffee or tea and take in everything about this new day. This blank slate. Step outside–literally and figuratively. Step forward. Abandon previous writing “Do’s and Don’t’s” and write the Story of You. Stay true to your writing style and you’ll find your place.

WOMEN: I am seeing signs of life and I LOVE IT!

Sexism still exist and runs rampant, although there are plenty of folks lining up to debate that notion with me.

It pervades boundaries it should never be able to, and is perpetuated by this endless social media-powered society, giving EVERYONE a voice, an opinion, a criticism, safe behind their computers, tablets, laptops or phones.

Make no mistake — misogyny is still here — it’s just sneakier, actually more vicious than before, well-planned and regurgitated by the masses. Remember #restingbitchface or #basicbitch?

Here at SLM, we value, support, encourage and appreciate our very talented writers–who happen to be women. Don’t doubt your every move or second guess a piece of your writing, thinking it might be too provocative.

Part of the reason I’m here, the reason we exist, is to level the playing field. We can accomplish anything–we can conquer and overcome. We refuse to corroborate double standards, delusional stereotypes or archaic notions of feminism and what it should look like or what it should be.

Last night, my daughter sat with me as I worked on the web site, and we both read Jayne Martin’s piece, Together aloud. After the first few lines, my eight-year-old smiled wide and said, “I like this already!”

After we finished reading it, Nikki looked at me and asked, “Why did they have to pretend?”

“Because they weren’t allowed to be who they were.”

“That makes me sad. Everyone should get to be whoever they are!” she shouted.

“Let’s re-read the last line though: what does it make you feel?”

“That picture really is perfect. The path ahead. They’re together,” she said.

I told Jayne via e-mail on Friday that her writing was the epitome of what we’re about here at SLM. Her short story was so powerful, so poignant and truthful that not only did my daughter understand the story, but it made her feel something. [I should note here that Nikki is in her school’s Gifted and Talented program and reads at a high middle-school, early high-school level]. See her below, dancing like no one’s watching.



Let’s all dance like no one’s watching and write like no one’s criticizing. And give your work a fighting chance to be seen. To be read. And to make someone feel something.


Peace and Love,

Editor in Chief

Kelly Fitzharris Coody


*Send all submissions, questions and inquiries to: sicklitsubmissions@gmail.com* Or, visit our Submissions page, here: SUBMISSIONS

P.S.: Happy Father’s Day! The featured image is of my late Grandpa Fitzharris, who passed in 2006. Rest in Peace, Grandpa. Happy Father’s Day!

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.


Peace and Love, SLM team 🙂


Your loving editor,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

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We’ve received so many excellent submissions–meaning this will be a truly poem-filled week.

We kicked it off with Prerna Bakshi’s emotional, beautiful and, at times, painful collection of poetry. Because life is that way.

And we dig poetry that sheds light on this reality and is unafraid to expose itself.

I found my love of poetry in a Chilean poetry class I took as a last-minute elective while I was studying journalism as a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin. I loved it before that; I even wrote a poem entitled, “Actress,” when I was an angsty adolescent at the age of 15 that won second place in a random contest; but it wasn’t until college that I truly understood poetry.

This week we are here to display it in all forms and facets; whether it be a haiku, sonnet or abstract, we want to showcase the most talented poets of our time (which is now, in 2015) and make our readers think beyond the simple written word. (Not that fiction or news stories are simple; poetry is almost like a literary puzzle.)

We’re still in our open-submissions-call time-frame, so get your poetry to me at coodykelly@yahoo.com ASAP.

And to everyone, remember, you have until the 30th to get your work in. 

Among the poets we will be publishing throughout the week will be: Prerna Bakshi, Josie Alford, Owen Clayborn, Jamie Andrews, Kanika Katyal and Christopher Iacono and many more to come.

Peace and love,

-Kelly on behalf of SLM-