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

Advertisements

Breaking my Silence and my Happy Mask – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Author

All the Things I’m NOT Supposed to Say – so be it, I’m biting the fucking hand that feeds. – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Author of Unhinged

 

I won’t and can’t apologize for the minor editing errors that slipped through the literary cracks; not when I look at the whole of the process that was writing, editing, and taking on the responsibility for “professionally editing” my own manuscript, with the help of my longtime friend, Marisela Mitchley. (Despite what was promised to me by my publishers in my contract.)

Yes, I got a damning review over the weekend of my book, Unhinged.

(Psst: please, no need tell me over and over again that “you are going to get these bad reviews, Kelly,” because I KNOW THAT. I have a few things I need to address.)

The “errors” that were called out in said review aren’t actually even grammatical errors – to so confidently call out a writer for “assaulting the English language” and for “possessing bad grammatical skills” warrants a manuscript that is consistently poorly written, by a writer who uses the wrong “your” or “there” and doesn’t understand how commas or semicolons work. Not a few sentences ending in prepositions. Or for the way I used the word “idler.” To say that M.B.Reviewer has grossly exaggerated her assessment of my literary abilities is putting it lightly.

Sitting in my author’s seat is very frustrating; I’m not allowed to defend myself. It comes across as whiny, defensive, and flags me, by proxy, as weak and thin-skinned, along with possessing an inability to take constructive criticism, not to mention it pegging me as difficult to work with, when that could not be further from the truth.

What I consider to be an assault on the English language are words like, “obvs,” “OMG,” and “guyliner” not only existing in pop culture, but being added to the Oxford Dictionary. THAT is an assault.

You may read the review here: Review on Amazon of Unhinged

According to the Oxford Dictionary, ending a sentence with a preposition is “not a grammatical error.” And, according to http://www.dictionary.com/browse/idle, the way I used the word “idler” in the prologue is 100% correct. The statements that this review made about my abilities as a writer are defamatory, unnecessary, and flat out bogus.

A successful constructive critical review might look something like this: Coody’s book provided great literary insight into a different type of protagonist, giving the reader layers to peel back as they discover different aspects of Agnes’s personality and background. While, at times, Agnes is a character I can identify with and root for, there are other times that I feel Agnes is written to be too aggressive, detracting from the main plot and story-line, making the reader side with those around her who are out to get her. But, then, at the same time, is Coody attempting to make an overarching statement about how a protagonist doesn’t always need to be someone we identify with? While a few minor typographical errors made their way into print, they weren’t enough to distract me from the story and the characters. Unhinged is a solid, thrilling, unique book. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the way the book ended, and feel that it could do with a bit of revision, it’s nothing that a second and/or third edition wouldn’t be able to address and/or fix. Overall, Unhinged is one hell of a psychological thriller that will stay with you long after you read it.

Here’s the other part:

I’d love to share a story with you.

No, not a fictitious one; not an anecdotal, humorous holiday tale, either. But I’d like to share with you the ridiculously unprofessional process I endured and underwent with the publishing of my first book, Unhinged.

I was saddled with an editor whom shall remain nameless and gender-less in order to protect their identity. This person broke my book; they made unnecessary changes according to their style and/or taste, added errors and sentences that made no sense with the story, and repeatedly asked me to dumb my book down for the readers.

To be frank, I tried my hardest with the shit I was shoveled and I’m not the least bit sorry that more than a few shitty bits of grammar edged past the editing process and made their way into the final manuscript.

This has been an optimal outcome for me: through dedication and hard work, my friend and I made my book a cohesive, solid manuscript in a short amount of time, after playing clean up with what nameless editor had done to my manuscript. (One example: they changed Rolling Stones to Rolling Stone’s.)

Given this unforgivable lack of knowledge, competency, and professionalism, this editor was “let go” from “their” position at said contracted editing company.

NOW, mind you, I, like my good friend Marisela Mitchley, am not given to brevity. So stay with me.

After “Rookie Editor” soiled my manuscript, I looked over the PDF that was about to be sent to print, “Ready-to-go!” The further I read, the worse it got. Rookie Editor fucking annihilated my book, ADDING IN grammatical errors, changing my correct grammar to incorrect.

Guess what I was given as an alternative to “Rookie Editor?”

NOTHING. A half-hearted, ‘I’ll try,’ from the CEO of the contracted editing company, whose email to me was RIDDLED with typos, which I politely turned down. I was also given the same offer by the men who own the publishing company which published my book. They said the same thing, ‘This isn’t really my area, but I can give it a try.’ 

WHAT THE FUCK? 

At this point in the process, I’d become so jaded and disillusioned with not only the publishing process, but with everyone’s lack of concern and competency who were the supposed “experts” and “professionals” surrounding me, when it came to my book.

So, guess what I did? Guess what I had to do?

Not trusting the two people who freely admitted that they would probably fuck up my book even more, I enlisted the help of an old college friend. We were initially given two weeks, which was extended to about six. the fact that we were able to fix all of the many, many added typos, grammatical problems, and more than a few apostrophe problems, along with editing it the way it should have been done the first time around is nothing short of a miracle.

As for the remark in this review regarding the book’s premise being “not so unique?” This book is based on my life. Yes, I’ve mixed fiction in with it, but the premise is my life. Me. I don’t know how much more unique I could have gotten than that.

I’ll tell you something, though: despite the few “errors” that you feel discredit me as a writer, I am a damn good writer, I am proud of the book, and I have excellent grammar.

(“errors” = they aren’t, by definition, grammatical errors)

I’m not an idiot, guys. Some of you have even told me that you hated thrillers and that’s why you weren’t a big fan of my book–then, two weeks later, I saw that you posted something about how much you love thrillers.

This week has been a hard one for me. Forgive me, but my family has lost two important people; two close, dear, family friends, and it has thrown a crack into our foundation. So, in between the daily sexual harassment I deal with, along with the hypercritical stone-throwing pertaining to my literary merit, I am grieving, and am so, so deeply sad for my friends and their families during this time, along with feeling violated and stepped on for a long time now.

Don’t worry though: I love proving people wrong. I’m actively working on The Undoing.

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

(Just to show you another instance of utter incompetency on my publishers’ part, when they first listed Unhinged on Amazon for sale, they added a hyphen to my name. This is a pseudonym, for God’s sake. I don’t have a hyphenated name, nor have I ever. My legal name is Kelly Marie Coody, because I changed my name after I was married 9 years ago.)

Anyone else asking themselves, ‘What the *CUSS WORD* is going on?!’ I am. So are a lot of women right now. – Kelly Fitzharris Coody

For starters, let me be clear: since my last post, things have gotten much, much worse in terms of cyber bullying and trolling. 

 

“My blood pressure has stayed at heart-attack level for days.”

“I have actually gotten sick over this.”

“I can’t be online right now…for my own mental health and sanity.”

[Actual Facebook feed quotes from two women and from one man.]

“So glad to be rid of this imaginary white privilege!”

“The red states are sane. The blue ones, I’ve named, “dumbfuckistan.”

“What did you do? Why are so many people mad at you? What did you do?”

[Actual Facebook quotes from men. Two of them avid Trump supporters, one just kind of clueless in a lost-puppy sort of way.]

What, in God’s name, IS going on? Unwarranted trolling has been happening on my page for quite some time now, pretty much right when my book was released, but it was all vulgar in its content. (Sexually explicit kind of vulgar). 

Now, it’s all become violent, threatening, and disturbingly mean. And, I might add, it’s all coming from my fellow Americans. Isn’t that something? That we’re so torn apart by politics that we are dividing ourselves from one another and isolating others left and right. We’re blocking each other, telling them we hate them, and we’re even screaming at people who are on the same side. WHAT THE FUCK?

Having been on the receiving end of a lot of misdirected hate from a lot of misguided men and women, something IS, indeed, going on.

My apologies for this letter being as brief as it is. I have come down with a cold. And for my sanity’s sake, I need to lie down again.

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

SLM meets Oasis – a tale of time travel, nonsense, and Gee Charlie Middleton, Kate Jones, Jamie Andrews and me, Kelly Fitzharris Coody

Part I : Time Travel in Manchester

“Okay, Gee, we’re here – let’s get going – it’s about to get dark. My mum’s house is just ’round that bend,” I said, hugging my coat tight, pointing in the direction of my childhood home.

Gee took in a good huff of air. Then she coughed. “It smells rather bad here; it’s smelly, innit?”

“You and smells! Just ignore it, Gee – you’ll get used to it. Ugh, always so posh.”

Gee swung her designer handbag around as if on cue. I scoffed as we walked on, crunching over leaves and moss.

We trudged to my mum’s house, the sun setting above the trees.

“You know…Gee…the original Gallagher house is somewhere around here, remember?” My eyes lit up as I asked the question.

“Ah, shush! We’re too busy for that nonsense. Let’s get on with it — I’m tired.”

“Okay, geez. Don’t be a grouch.”

“You’re the grouch.”

Before we knew it, we were standing on the front steps of my house. As we walked in, the warmth and the smell of dinner in the stove usurped us. “‘Ey, Mum! Be down in a sec!” I called as Gee raced me up the stairs and into my childhood room.

“Well, this is it!” I said.

“You’ve got a lot of Oasis posters in here.”

“What? Who didn’t when they were a pre-teen?”

“I’m just saying – I mean – you’ve got more than anyone I’ve ever met. And I consider myself an Oasis fan, too. It’s like you’ve got bloody Liam wallpaper!” she said, breaking into a hearty laugh.

“Oh, judge away, Gee!” I scoffed.

“What’s this?” asked Gee as she poked around the bedroom’s corners and crevices. “Oh my God – I can’t believe this piece of crap is still here!” she said, gesturing to a 1980s MAC laptop that weighed about as much as the two of us put together.

“It’s like an antique!” Gee giggled. She slowly lifted the top of the laptop – mostly because it was so damn heavy – and as she did so, a loud crack of thunder startled the both of us, eliciting shrieks and making us jump before giggling nervously.

We turned around to look out the windows.

“Aaaaaah!!!” we screamed in unison as we jumped into each other’s arms.

“What in the bloody hell are the two of you doing here?” I asked.

“Yeah! You almost gave me a bloody conniption,” agreed Gee.

There sat Kate Jones and Jamie Andrews, bouncing around on my quilted, childhood bed, looking quite befuddled themselves.

“We dunno,” Jamie said. “It’s your story, Kelly. I was bout to go grab a pint meself – you, Kate?”

“Eh, was walkin’ round – saw the storm and thought I’d see what the two of them were up to,” she replied, bouncing on the bed. “But I’m not sure why I’m here either, now that you mention it, Jamie. And bloody hell, Kelly, what’s with the posters?”

“See? It’s so bad!” Gee said.

I huffed and crossed my arms.

“Oh, well. Wanna go grab a pint instead?” Jamie asked Kate, bouncing on the bed in return.

“I just need a break from being so bloody serious all the time,” Kate said.

Jamie scratched his head. “I know what you mean, Kate — ” he laid back on the bed and let out a long sigh. “Quite comfy, ain’t it? Would be better with a pint.”

“Would be,” said Kate. “I’m just so tired of all this bloody feminism on Sick Lit Magazine. BO-RING!”

Jamie replied by making an exaggerated gagging noise.

“Oh, shut up, Jamie,” I said.

“You’ve got a tape player!” Kate squealed, bouncing off the bed and over to it on my shelf, pressing play.

‘Rocking Chair’ by Oasis started playing.

“I like this one,” Jamie said.

“So do I!” Gee agreed.

“It’s okay,” Kate said.

“I love it!” I squealed.

We all started singing along. “It’s hard enough being alone, sitting here by the phone, waiting for my memories to come and play. it’s hard enough sitting there, rockin in your rockin chair!!”

I turned around to notice Gee fiddling with the laptop.

“Gee! No! Not in this storm!” I yelled.

“Why not? Also, just curious, how the hell does this thing still work? It’s 2016.”

“Nevermind that! Wait, how the hell do you know how to operate a computer in MS-DOS mode? You’re the youngest out of all of us!”

“Don’t mind that, Kelly! So many questions!” Gee rolled her eyes at me.

Thunder crashed again, this time louder, outside the windows, making all four of us jump.

Jamie screamed.

“Jamie, you sound like a little girl,” Kate whispered.

“Why are we all hugging?” I asked, realizing we’d all clung to each other at the sound of the thunder.

“Dunno – nothin’ – didn’t scream like a girl. That was clearly Kelly,” Jamie said, clearing his throat and brushing off his shirt as he straightened his posture. “I’m fine. Not scared.”

Another clap of thunder.

Jamie squealed.

“Oh, shut up!” Jamie huffed at no one in particular.

“Ugh! Gee, what’ve you done?” I asked. The computer screen flashed off and on like mad.

“I swear I didn’t do anything! I haven’t touched it!”

A particularly long flash of lightning started…and continued…while Jamie and I screamed. Gee and Kate just looked at one another and shrugged.

“Whoa, what the fuck is goin on?” Kate asked, as the computer shook and gurgled. “How the hell does a computer gurgle?”

The room spun and shook, Jamie cursing the city of Manchester and my bedroom alike, while Gee clutched her Gucci bag with a death grip, while I frantically whispered, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home!!”

In another flash of lightning, the room and sky settled.

“Jamie’s hair looks terrible,” whispered Gee.

“Gee! Shush!”

“My God, so does yours, Kelly!” she said.

“Well, what about Kate, huh?” I asked.

“She  looks amazing. Just look at ‘er! Perfect!”

Jamie rubbed his head and groaned. Kate found her way back to the bed and asked, “Dear Lord, what happened?”

I looked out of the window.

“Guys…I think…I think we…”

“My phone won’t work!” Jamie whined.

“Mine either,” Gee said. “I’ve got like negative bars or something. Strange.”

I gasped. “Oh my God! Look at the bedroom!” I shouted.

“Hm, looks quite nice,” Kate said.

“No, don’t you see? All the Oasis posters! They’re…they’re….gone!”

“Thank God,” Gee said under her breath.

“‘Ya got a decorator in here, finally – thank bloody hell,” Jamie muttered.

“No, wankers! We’ve gone back in time!” I shouted. “Take a smell out the window, will you? I bet it’s a lot less rancid.”

All three went to the window and cracked it open before pulling it open all the way and taking in a nice, long breath of air.

They smiled and nodded to one another.

“Right that is.”

“She’s right.”

“Much less rancid. You’re right.”

“Look at the calendar on the wall!!” I screamed.

“It’s a Garfield calendar. Am I supposed to like it or something?” asked Gee, still clutching her Gucci bag.

“No! Look at the date!”

“Oh, bloody hell, it’s October 4th, 1990! It’s all Kelly’s fault!” Jamie yelled, arms flailing in the air.

“It’s not! Gee was the one messing with the computer!” I yelled back.

“Gee…!!” said Jamie.

“Wait, wait a second…” Gee said, “We can use this to our advantage! Don’t you see?”

“No!” we all grumbled in unison.

“Shit. It’s back to landlines and video stores and..and…” Jamie stuttered, his lips turning white.

“It’ll be okay,” Kate said to him. “Snap out of it Jamie!”

He wouldn’t stop mumbling, “Video stores…bloody video stores…no internet..we’re fucked, we’re so fucked…”

Gee slapped him across the face.

He was startled, then quickly grateful as he shook his head around. “Right, then,” he began, “So, where to?”

Gee said, “The original Gallagher house is only a few blocks from here.”

I lit up.

Jamie and Kate both groaned.

“We can go and meet Liam and Noel and mum Gallagher!” I squealed.

“Must we…?” countered Kate.

“Yes!” we all yelled back in reply.

“Yes, we’ve got to meet them before they become famous!” I agreed.

“Famous pricks,” Jamie said dryly.

“Oh, Jamie, come now!” chided Kate.

“Shit, shit! We look out of place – see? Everyone’s got bad hair and they’re all wearing flannel!” I whined, gesturing out the window to all of he people milling about on the streets.

“Hey, I’m wearing flannel!” Jamie said.

“And his hair is terrible,” Gee whispered again.

“Enough with the hair, Gee!” I grumbled.

“I heard that, too!” Jamie said. “My girlfriend is going to kill me!”

“Your girlfriend? I’m bloody married!” I shouted back.

“And I haven’t even been born yet,” said Gee. “Shit.”

“Wait, wait, wait! We’ve gone 26 years back in time and you’re telling me that our only plan is to go to the bloody Gallagher house?” Kate asked.

“Yeah. What? Why? What did you have in mind?” I asked.

“Bloody hell. Something better than that,” she scoffed.

We shrugged. “Shall we be off, then?”

*

At the Gallagher House 

*

“Gee, you knock on the door!” I said.

“No, I’m too nervous! You do it!”

“You!”

“No, you!”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” said Kate, elbowing her way in between us and rapping loudly on the front door. “There. Cripes.”

“I can hear my heartbeat in my ears,” Gee whispered.

“I know. My hands are so sweaty it’s, like, embarrassing,” I whispered back.

“Oh, my beautiful, bloody girlfriend,” Jamie moaned in the background.

We all sighed.

“My beautiful, Norwegian girlfriend!” he sobbed.

“SSh!” Gee yelled.

“Just a moment!” a voice called to us from inside the house.

“Mum Gallagher!” Gee and I said in unison. We squealed.

Then, she opened the door. I wiped sweat from my forehead with my sleeve.

“‘ello there. What can I do for ‘ya?” she asked.

“Noel!” yelled Gee. “Noel!”

I cleared my throat and stepped in front of Gee. “Sorry, she’s um, she’s, well, you know – anyhow we’re here to see Noel.”

“Well, then, come on in! Noel! Guests!” she called.

“Liam!” Gee yelled.

“Shut up!” I said softly, poking her in the side with my elbow.

Liam mumbled in our direction.

“What the fuck did he say?” Kate asked.

“Yeah, he needs subtitles,” quipped Jamie.

Noel trotted down the stairs, a vision in jeans and red Adidas sneakers. Gee gasped.

“Will this bloke need subtitles too?” Jamie whispered.

“Sh!” Gee chided.

“We are in Manchester, guys,” I said.

They nodded in agreement to one another, saying, “Ah, yeah, right.”

“Who the fuck are these lot?” Noel asked, breezing past us.

“Just for the record, I don’t want to be here!” Jamie shouted, raising his hand from the back of the group.

“I, too, am against this!” said Kate.

“You – the really short one – ginger – what’s your deal? And your gorgeous friend?” asked Noel.

“Ginger? That’s all I get?” I asked.

“We’re here to warn you!” Gee said.

“Warn me? Sod off,” Noel said.

At that exact moment, Gee’s iPhone began buzzing before her ringtone went berserk.

“I thought your phone wasn’t working!” I yelled through gritted teeth.

“Fuck, it is now!” she whisper-yelled back at me through equally gritted teeth.

“Phone? What’s about a phone?” Liam asked from his place at the kitchen table.

“Nothing! Nothing at all! That’s just, um, Gee’s…umm….umm…pocket Atari!” I shouted.

Liam shrugged. “Pocket Atari – must be rich, you lot. How many quid did it set you back? Quite a few, I reckon.”

He and Noel laughed.

We laughed back nervously.

When Mum Gallagher had completely left the room and we knew she was out of earshot, Gee started talking to Noel. She grabbed him by both shoulders.

“Noel – you’re going to write a song called Wonderwall. Ya gotta like add more guitar stuff in it so it’s harder to play. I get so sick of hearing it when I’m at University. And Liam, you’re going to do some crystal meth. I think. It turns out fine, though.”

Jamie and Kate rolled their eyes.

“We’re from the future!” I whisper-screamed, hands cupped around my mouth. “From 2016! And there’s this app called Twitter – and — ” I was cut off by Noel.

“What the fuck is an app?” he asked.

“She’s telling the truth!” Gee interjected.

“Your first album, Definitely Maybe, is going to come out in 1994; and track six is called Supersonic. Okay, I’d be chuffed if you’d change that dog’s name from Elsa to Stella to avoid making me look stupid on Twitter. Please.”

Noel and Liam just looked at each other, dumbfounded. Incredulous.

“Yes, in 2016,” Gee said.

“Chuffed, eh?” asked Noel. “You sound like an American.”

“Nevermind that!” Gee cried. “You have to listen to us! So, Liam, you’re going to hit your brother here with a chair – or, is it the other way around? – no matter, you’re going to be beating the shit out of each other a lot. But it’s worth it! So worth it!”

They looked at one another and shrugged again.

“Don’t listen to the critics about Be Here Now!” I yelled. “It’s a damn good record!”

“Her accent sounds fake,” said Liam to Noel, “Right? If you’re really from the future, prove it.”

Gee pulled out her iPhone. Or pocket Atari. Whatever.

It began to blink just like the old laptop in my room had…then we heard the thunder.

“Quick! You’ve got to come with us!” Gee shouted.

“Where?” they asked in unison.

“Back to the future, boys!” I said, as the house rumbled and shook around us.

Kate asked, “Oh, is that why they end up looking so young in the future?!”

Jamie only shrugged.

TO BE CONTINUED….

2727257489_aea6106dc5_o

***

This wacky story came from a string of tweets  between myself (Kelly) and Gee Charlie Middleton on Twitter this morning. I thought it would only be fitting if I used some SLM contributors as characters. Stay tuned for more! **Life is tough – we all see a lot of dark, bad things and have a lot of dark, bad days – writing something nonsensical and hilarious helps me to reset my brain and hopefully yours, too.**

What Makes Someone a “Real Writer” Any More Than, Well, You? – Kelly Fitzharris Coody, Editor in Chief

“Writers, by trade, tend to be more self-deprecating about their work than any other art form that exists.” 

Make no mistake, it is just as much of an art form as is painting or music. The inundation of ghost writers and self-help books topping the charts, so to speak, becoming NY Times Bestsellers, is what is killing our art form. We, the ones in the literary trenches, at SLM are here to revive it. And to spread the word that just because a person holds the title of Editor or Agent, does not give them the power to discredit your work. You don’t need a million degrees in literature or an intense session with a literary Yoda to truly “become one” with the art of writing.

I’d be lying if I said that I had the time, patience and stamina to read every single piece that crosses my path, and appreciate it for what it is, or, to even be able to see it from the writer’s perspective. Because I can’t. Hence the problem with perspective.

Shit happens. We aren’t perfect. We go through trying times and miscommunicate – but just because Melissa and I are usually quick to respond and to schedule your work, I don’t like that this is being taken advantage of by some of you. It makes me feel unappreciated and frustrated. I’m sure Melissa can agree.

From now on, the pace of things will be MUCH, MUCH SLOWER here at SLM – as I am still a full-time stay at home mom, to children who are growing up and who need parenting, who have extracurriculars, I have a husband and a marriage to sustain, and my book has just gone live in the past few weeks, giving me a lot of issues and exciting things to deal with.

Melissa is teaching FIVE (again, FIVE! Cinq! 5!!!) college classes this semester AND working a second job. She is busting her ASS trying to keep up with everything and give me a break from submissions so that I don’t go insane. I’ll be jumping back in this week, but it will be slowly.

We want to continue to love what we do here – not begrudge it or view it as a burden. It’s what we are working hard RIGHT NOW to avoid – in the future. If  we don’t take control over our own literary journal, it can swallow us up and force us to close up shop.

For now, onward and upward!

Those of you who may not know, my first book has been published and is live and available for purchase through a number of retailers. *This is not a shameless plug – I have published through a very, very small, independent press and am genuinely excited to hear your feedback on my book.*

Buy A Copy Directly From Snow Leopard Publishing!

My Author Page on Facebook

Melissa and I sort of run on fumes most days, as we are hopeless multitaskers, spinning multiple plates in the air at all times.

Happy October! I sadly looked on as all my peers shared photos of their children at various pumpkin patches across the country – and wondered when the hell it became a tradition or a mandated thing that upon crossing over into the month of October, Pumpkin Patch children photos MUST BE TAKEN! AND SHARED!!

Anyway, this month we see two themes: Dr. Jeff Toney PhD’s EPIPHANY and Paul Beckman’s It began in an elevator…

Melissa and I, a few months ago, both wrote to these themes as a workshop. I’m starting to think we should share, what do you think?

**LOOK OUT FOR OUR OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT VERY SOON FOR PUSHCART PRIZE NOMINEES FOR SICK LIT MAGAZINE FOR 2017!!!***

Cheers, guys,

peace and love,

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

 

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR – DECEMBER, VOL. 1, ISSUE 3.

Kelly Coody on rejections, why she stands behind her authors and why she wants to kick some ass.

December’s Letter from the Editor

Kelly Fitzharris Coody

As you may have noticed, SLM has become quite theme-happy as of late. It’s been a hell of a lot of fun–we’ve expanded our team, publishing talented writers’ excellent, diverse work, officially dubbing SLM an “eclectic and quirky” publication.

Bravo to all of my “Poetry Week” poets and my “Flash Fiction Week” writers!

Since November’s open-submissions-call was such a success, I’ve decided to keep it open through December 31st. Submit to: kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com

I will get to the themes in just a minute. (I know, I know, I’m keeping you in suspense; but I really do have a few important things to say.)

Once when I was 15, on the way to the movies with some friends, the mom driving us there asked, “What’s your name?”

“Mary,” answered the girl to my right.

“No, no, not you. The mouthy one. You! What’s your name?” she asked, meeting my gaze in the rear view mirror.

“Kelly. Kelly Fitzharris. Why?” My voice was steady. My red hair was in its natural state of glossy curls that day as I cocked my head calmly to the side at her question.

Now it’s no big secret that I’m mouthy! I’m passionate and I believe in what we’re doing here, both for authors and for  writing. With the sky as our limit, we are crafting truly brilliant and one-of-a-kind literature that our readers feel a kinship with.

I’ve never been one to “go with the flow” or recede from our cruel world like a shrinking violet. I’ve been questioning the world around me and my own existence since I was old enough to utter my first words; snot-nosed, mop of red hair, chubby legs, clutching a teddy bear. I’d ask my dad, “How long has God been here?”

58782_10100316842586790_6344944_n

He’d reply, “God always was.”

To which I then sat and quietly pondered the possibility of eternity.

As I grew, my questioning of authority became constant: “But why do we have to draw it that way?”

“Why? Why not?”

“Tell me why. Tell me why not.”

You can see why I despise automated rejection letters, canned company jargon, why I quit my job at a large corporation as a peon making no money despite my good degree, and why I chose to start Sick Lit Magazine in the first place.

Featured Image -- 111

I quit my job at the end of August to stay at home with my kids; I’ve never done the Stay-at-Home-Mom thing before. Being a parent can make you wallow in self-doubt—it’s hard not to get stuck there. And the same can be said for us creatives and us writers. If you’re a fiction writer, especially, all you see, hear about and read about is “What NOT to do,” “Why Your Writing Sucks,” etc, etc, etc….

Here are a few gems I’ve found over the last few years:

  • Don’t use adverbs. (Well, why don’t you go fuck yourself?)
  • No longer is it acceptable for a book to “get good” ten pages in. (Courtesy of Writer’s Digest. Thank you for this amazingly shitty advice!)

Am I the only one sitting here thinking, “WHAT THE HELL?”

Whoever makes these lists must also own the publishing industry and control whose work gets seen and heard and whose does not.

If writers had been held to these ridiculous rules 50, 60, 70 years ago, books like Catch-22 by Joseph Heller  would have never been published. Or my favorite novel, Rebecca, by Daphne Dumaurier, would have been veritably tossed out the window by some kid in a suit, sitting tall, proud and brave behind their laptop. Why are we now expected to dumb our writing down and follow guidelines that only exist because of numbers and sales?

Back on December 4, 2014, I received an automated rejection letter from literary agent Jessica Faust from the agency BookEnds. You can bet your sweet ass I wrote back to this automated letter, asking as nicely as I could, and I will actually quote myself here, saying, “I know you’re insanely busy. But I would love some tips on how to present myself in a better light. Sincerely, Kelly Fitzharris.”

Jessica Faust wrote back an irritable letter that might as well have included an audible huff of disgust at the beginning. It starts with: “I’ve been writing about just this on the blog.”

The blog? Is this akin to the “The” in The Bible? 

It gets better. I continue her letter below: 

“I think though your idea is interesting, but your writing, not just the summarizing, didn’t feel that strong to me. In my mind it gave me the idea that your book might not be strongly written. If you wrote it fast my suggestion is that it might not be ready to submit and instead needs 30 days, or longer, of revisions before its ready.”

These are direct quotes; and I left her grammatical errors in there on purpose. That last line just kills me—its instead of it’s? And you’re the person in charge of my literary destiny?

It’s so maddening. It’s enough to make you want to throw your computer or punch your laptop screen—or, like our most recent contributor, Dee Lean, did, delete your entire hard drive.

This is why I started Sick Lit Magazine. I’m so fucking tired of this—I hate these rules. I hate that we’re made to hate our own writing. How is fitting into some sort of impossible mold groundbreaking or unique? Or extraordinary? At all? 

At Sick Lit Magazine, I am creating an environment like no other editor has done before me. I am no Jessica Faust; nor do I ever want to be.

And, guess what?

Dee Lean, who was actually told her writing was “hideous,” has gotten a ton of likes, and more reads and views on her Flash Fiction Week piece, “Fire,” than most of our other offerings.

Through believing in one another, we are fostering a community of powerful creativity that then leads to true literary excellence, in all forms. 

To be able to write in an environment that celebrates you rather than one that picks you apart and only provides DESTRUCTIVE criticism, is why I am here. And I will always, always, always stand proudly behind my authors.

OKAY, ONTO THEMES FOR DECEMBER!

The week following Thanksgiving will be Sick Lit Magazine’s first-ever genre-specific theme, which is: Tragedy and/or Comedy! I chose this genre because it encompasses other themes, such as revenge, romance and even tragic comedy (or tragicomedy for those of you out there who are inherently cooler than I am).

The second week of December, we will be running two themes (for obvious reasons): Women’s fiction & the writing genre of the Workplace Tell-All. For Workplace Tell-all submissions, you MAY SUBMIT ANONYMOUSLY AND SUBSTITUTE COMPANY AND INDIVIDUAL NAMES. 

For the third week, our theme will focus on Coming of Age. Feel free to interpret this loosely–You may see it as difficulties and challenges faced during adolescence, but it can also be interpreted as the struggles, pain and beauty of adult life that we face every day. 

I expect to see all of you challenge yourselves and submit during these three weeks! This includes all forms of writing, poetry and art pieces or photography. I can’t wait to see what you guys come up with. Oh, and please state the genre of your submission in the subject line.

11110575_10105929673004640_3749572555757803823_n

***Very important: During this time, you can continue to submit your regular, non-themed work to me. Again, my goal is to put out a special edition issue for January. But as of right now, I’m enjoying scheduling them during our “off-weeks” to give our readers some unique pieces to delve into.***

Come join the party and our publishing revolution. 

Drop me a line at kelly.fitzharris@gmail.com

Cheers!

Peace and love,

-Kelly on behalf of SLM-

(And like I said to our regular contributor, Hillary Umland, “Let’s kick some ass!!!”)

IMG_0873