Our Voices: Adopted People of Color

by Julayne Lee

Several years ago I attended a conference in Minnesota with overseas adopted Koreans. One of the evening events was a spoken word and poetry showcase featuring only adopted Korean artists. I had been to several poetry readings but this was the first one where our perspectives and experiences were centered. My friend who had gone to poetry readings with me leaned over and said, “This is for us.” It was special, unique and amplified our voices and lives.

I moved to Los Angeles a few years ago and participated in Writ Large Press’ first #90for90. When I heard they would host #90X90LA again in 2017, I knew I wanted to curate an event, and I wanted it to center adopted people of color. On a very hot Saturday afternoon in September, we gathered at Cielo gallery, and I hosted Our Voices: A Reading & Discussion with Adoptees of Color. We believe it to be the first ever poetry reading by adopted POC in Los Angeles, which featured Lynne Thompson, Dr. Michael Datcher and Yun-Sook Navarre. I had let the poets know they could read anything adoption related or not but the majority of what they chose to share was about adoption. It was a powerful experience for the poets and the audience, some of whom identify as adopted POC. For some, it was their first time being in an adoptee-centered environment. Continue reading


Six Rules to Write on a Budget

By Lisbeth Coiman

Taking the first steps into writing demands an immediate assessment of your finances. The cost of regularly submitting work for publication, attending conferences, or workshops, subscribing to publications, supplies, and other unforeseen expenses consume the usually limited resources of an unprepared emergent writer. Even those who live on writing have to approach their job with a thrifty mentality. Organization and careful planning are the fundamentals principles of writing on a budget.

1. Track every penny

I start my year with an expense tracker on an excel sheet. If your income this year barely makes it above poverty level, be thrifty and watch every penny. If you decide to report your writing as a business, it is mandatory that both income and expenses be carefully recorded for tax purposes. A spreadsheet is easy to prepare and must include mileage, supplies, gasoline, submissions, memberships, subscriptions, and can even cover charge to attend poetry readings. For a complete list of tax deductible items for writers see. Here is another. Continue reading


The year in publications has gotten off to a great start for Women Who Submit! Congratulations to everyone who had work published in January.

From Soleil David‘s “Seoul in October” at Cleaver:

If I could be anywhere
………..in the Fall
it would be Korea

walking rubberized pavement
………..to the top of Namsan Tower
surprised by snow in October

From Melissa Chadburn‘s “The Wounded Parts of People” at Shondaland:

Nobody needs to warn me about the wounded parts of people. There was that time I worked at a Level 12 residential treatment center for adolescent boys. It was called Mid-Valley Youth Center — a home for boys who stopped smelling like children. Some of us were fooled by this change in scent, by the wild sprites of hair off their face. Some days, we thought they were men. Their crude gestures, or refusals to eat, or to follow direction — we thought we were in a power struggle with them. Some judges even forgot they were boys, and gave them sterner sentences in places for men. The deal was, they could do more time at the treatment center with less restrictions, or less time at juvenile hall.

From “Never” by Li Yun Alvarado at Black Rabbit Review:

On the subway, three perfect
poofs frame flushed cheeks.
Lips pucker, sweet as stolen
fruit snacks. I make the rules

printed on purple sleeves.

From “Skin in the Game: An Open Letter to the Mostly White Parents in My Hometown on How to ‘Be the Change’ in 2018” by Hazel Kight Witham at Integrated Schools:

Many “What school are you sending your child to?” conversations start when the kids are just babies, or even before, in prenatal yoga classes or over dinner with friends. I imagine that by the time all those parents tour their local schools and glance at test scores they may have already made up their minds based on what someone else said. When or if they visit classrooms they may secretly they feel there are not enough kids that “look like my kid” attending the local traditional public school.

From “Spaghetti Western” by Lisbeth Coiman at Rabid Oak:

I never saw Henry Fonda kissing Claudia Cardinale in those dubbed spaghetti westerns of our Sunday afternoons, when the constant rotation of the fan made my father sleep with his eyes partially open and one of us always accidentally tripped on his foot and woke him up. Startled, he would reprimand in a loud voice: “Dejen de joder que estoy viendo la película.”

From Anita Gill‘s “Remaking the Rules: What a Nonfiction Writer Can Learn from a Novel” at The Woven Tale Press:

As a memoir writer, I’m embarking on a form more nascent than poetry and fiction. I cling dearly to the scant rules in this ever-growing genre, absorbing them as immutable commandments. Phillip Lopate, Vivian Gornick, Sven Birkerts, and others have established craft books on the memoir form. But here’s the challenge about relying on these writers and memoirs with literary acclaim: these craft books on writing originate from a homogenous Western group. We hold these craft rules to be self-evident, but what if they’re not? How do writers who do not hail solely from Western nations negotiate craft rules while still staying loyal to their voice?

From “Why I Read Books by Women of Color” by Noriko Nakada at My Lit Box:

These books by women of color showed me how to defy convention and call out to a world in a new voice. These are the books I want to read, and these are the books I want to write. In early morning hours, written my own stories of growing up multiracial in rural America with a trilogy of memoirs, and with my reading, I’ve settled on a more reasonable 24 books per year. When I select titles, I consciously lean toward women of color.

From Kelly Shire‘s “The Great Unknown” at the Coachella Review:

Mostly, I’m excited by these hours alone with my dad, by this weekday break from the routines of eighth grade. I call myself a daddy’s girl, feel a lick of pleasure whenever I annoy my mom by taking his side when she or my grandparents mentions his name. Besides the rock stars I dream of dating, he is my favorite person in the world, and he’s finally back after nearly a year of being gone, of being somewhere out in the great unknown. 

Last but not least, check out Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo reading her poem “Las Peregrinas” on the BWOMS podcast!


Behind The Editor’s Desk: Muriel Leung

by Lauren Eggert-Crowe

Our main priority at Women Who Submit is uplifting the voices of writers who are historically marginalized in arts and letters. We believe in practicing Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality, which means we look beyond gender discrimination and work for the liberation of women who are at the intersections of various oppressive systems of power, such as white supremacy & anti-Black racism, homophobia, classism and ableism. We value racial justice and economic justice as an essential part of our mission to center the art and literature of the most underserved and overlooked writers.

That’s why we love journals like Apogee, a beautiful online/print magazine that prioritizes writers of color. From their Mission Statement:

Apogee is a journal of literature and art that engages with identity politics, including but not limited to: race, gender, sexuality, class, ability, and intersectional identities. We are a biannual print publication featuring fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art. Our goals are twofold: to publish fresh work that interrogates the status quo, and to provide a platform for underrepresented voices, prioritizing artists and writers of color.

The word “apogee” denotes the point in an object’s orbit that is farthest from the center. Our mission combines literary aesthetic with political activism. We believe that by elevating underrepresented literary voices we can effect real change: change in readers’ attitudes, change in writers’ positions in literature, and broader change in society.

Muriel Leung is the poetry editor at Apogee, and also a member of Women Who Submit who has read at our various events, such as LitCrawl and the L.A. Times Festival of Books. We interviewed her about her work at Apogee:

Continue reading

7 Ways for Women Writers to Make 2018 a Stronger, Kinder, More Kick-Ass Year

by Danielle Mitchell

Tip 1:

Make new friends. Surround yourself with good people digitally & physically. You can make friends on social media by interacting through comments and re-tweets, you can make new friends IRL by attending a workshop, or asking an acquaintance you admire out for coffee. I’ve reached an age where I’ve begun to think making new friends is close to impossible, or at least improbable. But it only takes one new exciting connection to renew your faith in friendships. Open yourself to making that connection. Continue reading


As we say goodbye to 2017, we share one final round of applause to the women who were published in December.

From Anna Graham Hunter‘s “I Publicly Accused of Harassment. Take It From Me, It’s Not Easy to Report Sexual Misconduct” at the Los Angeles Times:

Judging from an avalanche of think pieces, my friend’s concerns are common — many believe the pendulum is swinging too far in the accusers’ direction, or that the #MeToo movement is becoming a witch hunt. But the process of bringing sexual harassment stories to light is still a tedious mess.

From Marya Summers‘ “Where Wind Belongs” at Tiferet:

I am named for the wind, which is driven to discover cracks and stir emptiness. Wind ventures wherever it can, slides into places people have forgotten. It shakes, scatters, uncovers, and upturns. It is equally fond of blackness and brilliance. If there is space to be filled, wind will work its way there. A wistful breeze blows when wind dreams of settling down.

From “The Human Cost of the Ghost Economy” by Melissa Chadburn at Longreads:

There is a story about an invisible hand that guides the free market. There is a story about ghosts. There is a story about a ghost economy. The distance between the main employer, the company that hires the temp agency, and the worker who fulfills these gigs, allows for the same type of casual cruelty that is exchanged between people who meet on online dating apps.

From Mahin Ibrahim‘s “How I Used My Hijab to Hide – And Why I Don’t Anymore” at Narratively:

This was no American locker room. Instead of women changing, we walked straight into a group of Turkish women in a circle, dancing, clapping their hands, and shaking everything Allah gave them. One woman yodeled while another clucked her tongue, in what seemed like a festive femininity dance. The women were of all shapes and ages. Some had the build of sumo wrestlers, others resembled tiny fairies.

All were completely naked.

From Noriko Nakada‘s “Open Gym” at East Jasmine Review:

A Saturday afternoon. I was running up and down a court with girls from my high school basketball team. It felt good to be there, on a court in our small town’s Mormon temple’s open gym. But we could feel the end too. Graduation was right around the corner, and after years of playing hoops together, we knew this could be our last chance to share a court. We didn’t let them break the girls up. We knew how pick up games worked. Most of the time guys ignore girls on their teams, never pass to you or let you bring the ball up the court. They probably thought we’d be easy prey, so when we said we wanted to play together, they agreed.

From “Ode to the Man inside and the Letter he will not get because he was transferred to a new prison on Tuesday last” by Hazel Kight Witham at The Rising Phoenix Review:

He who they said did
what he did not do

He who lost world and life and home
myth of freedom too

From Ryane Nicole Granados‘ “Why We All Need a Parenting Village” at LA Parent:

My need for a parenting village became clear when I found myself sitting in my son’s school valet line belting out the lyrics to Barbara Streisand’s “People.” The chorus of horns behind me was drowned out by my off-key karaoke: “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world!” I was sleep deprived, coming off a slew of stressful doctor appointments for my middle son, and I had decided it was best that I pick up in valet since I had worn the same shirt for three days in a row.

Congratulations to Li Yun Alvarado whose poem, “Poe Park,” was published in Asterix Journal‘s December issue!

Congratulations to Carla Sameth whose essay, “Stand Up Mom,” was published in Brain Teen 2018!

Happy New Year and Happy Publishing!

2017 in Review for Women Who Submit

With only three days left in 2017, it’s time to look back over the past year and take stock of how far we’ve come. It’s been a banner year for Women Who Submit, and we are excited about the year ahead. If 2017 is any indicator, 2018 is going to be a productive, shimmering year.

This year, Women Who Submit added chapters in three cities. Welcome, Westside Los Angeles, San Antonio and Women & Non-Binary Writers Who Submit- Houston!

We also were awarded our first grant! WWS will use funding from the Center for Cultural Innovation for accessible public programming and submission parties during 2018 to conclude with the publication of a WWS anthology celebrating a year of submissions and acceptances to be released in early 2019 in partnership with Jamii Publishing, an Inland Empire indie press focused on fostering community and celebrating women writers of color.

Many WWS members and organizers participated in Writ Large Press’s 90×90, a groundbreaking cultural and literary festival of 90 events in 90 days, aiming to “celebrate, investigate and activate” with readings, music, performances, and conversations. WWS hosted our August Submission Party and Orientation at Cielo Galleries as part of 90×90, and presented our Submission Strategies workshop.

For the third year in a row, WWS participated in Lit Crawl.  Following up on our previous year’s Lit Crawl events of Hitting Send and The Rejection Game, we presented Accepted, which celebrated the work that WWS members had submitted during submission parties and for which they got publication acceptance.

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo wrote Ten Kind Suggestions for Being a Literary Citizen, which Entropy chose as one of their favorite nonfiction pieces of 2017.

Ramona Pilar wrote The Power of No, reminding all of us writers to listen to our inner voices and draw the boundaries that protect our work and our hearts.

Just like in previous years, WWS was out in full force at AWP in Washington, D.C. Our members presented on 12 panels, 11 readings, and 4 book signings!

Many of our members and organizers attended the Latino Arts Network first Gathering of Latina Writers at Plaza de la Raza.

We were also active on panels and readings at the L.A. Times Festival of Books in April.

We hosted our annual Submission Blitz both online and locally in Los Angeles.

Individually, we each had a memorable year. Here, some of our members and organizers share what they are proud of from 2017:

Tisha Reichle: I FINALLY submitted my novel to the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. And I started a PhD program. Two dreams in progress!

Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo: I think I’m most proud of being able to travel with my book and present at universities and talk to young poets and writers, especially writers of color, and encourage them to celebrate where they come from, their homes, their languages, their families. That’s been HUGE.

Second to that, I’m proud of being selected as the first Poet in the Parks by Poetry Foundation and National Parks Arts Foundation, hanging in Gettysburg and starting a new poetry project on what makes an American hero.

Mahin Ibrahim: I would say getting published after my 40+ rejections, thx to the women I met through WWS! I joined WWS this year.

Anita Gill: For me it’s two things: being nominated for an AWP Intro Award through my MFA program and getting into a writing residency at Vermont Studio Center come next year.

Lisa Cheby: Publication of a 2nd poem in Tabula Poetica: Poetry at Chapman University and of my essay about the Women’s March in Entropy, and a poem in Lady Liberty Lit!

Noriko Nakada: Being short-listed for the 2040 prize with Through Eyes Like Mine was a big one for me. Oh, and the milestone of 100 passes! Woo hoo!

Lisbeth Coiman: I’m very proud of my self-published debut memoir, I Asked the Blue Heron. It took all I had financially and emotionally to put out, but I did. After so many years, I finally let my story go into the world.

Carla Sameth: Very proud of getting a story out in the magazine, Brain, Teen and two others in anthologies, getting two poetry scholarship/fellowships and just pushing ahead in my writing, in spite of rejections and life’s challenges.

Danielle Moody: In the past year (thanks in large part to WWS submission meetings) I’ve submitted more work than in the previous 15 years of my writing life.

Melissa Chadburn: This is so great, seems like every year in review I could only see what I have not yet accomplished but this year I have some things to be proud of. I got my first big contract with a print magazine doing an investigative piece on a topic that is very close to my heart and mind, it’s the type of journalism I’ve always wanted to pursue and with a few false starts I finally got both a grant and a magazine to agree to publish.

Also, I spent a lot of time digging through LMU’s archives while researching for an article. One day I called my Beloved and said, “this campus is beautiful and one day I’m going to teach here.” Sure enough just before this year ended I got a contract to teach two classes at LMU.

Elline Lipkin: I’d say a handful of poems published, but most proud of making it up through the slush pile and into Calyx this year — a journal I’ve always admired. Plus, did a one-month poetry Daily Grind and submitted my manuscript to two contests this fall. I know it’s not ready, but committing to send it out got me closer to getting it into shape at long last. And getting/doing the CA Writing Residency through Yefe Nof!

LiYun Alvarado: I planned and executed a book party for my chapbook collection “Words or Water” – which felt huge for this first time mom whose little one was born 10 days after the book arrived and who was almost 9 months old for the book party

Kate Maruyama: I’m proud I got through the roughest year of my life, but still managed to finish a rewrite on a novel which is now out to editors. I’m also proud I was able to help Writ Large Press’s 90x90LA in small ways with a number of events, (and grateful as it kept me moving forward and because it was a beautiful thing to witness.)

Arielle Silver: What I’m most proud of is keeping my nose to the grindstone since 2014, and then giving myself complete permission to rest all sense of ambition and drive when, around Halloween, the grindstone let up. I haven’t run from the exhaustion. I haven’t chastised myself. I’ve missed emails. I may have disappointed some. I have flipped aimlessly through books, sat and watched movies with the kids, and gotten enough sleep every night. Right now, that is what I am most proud of.

JE Lee: 1) submitted my first manuscript of poems “Not My White Savior” (pub. date March 2018); 2) accepted to Las Dos Brujas Writer’s Workshops which i learned about through Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo (thank you SO much!!!!!); 3) hosted a poetry reading of adopted POC during #90X90LA which has launched into a writing workshop

Deborah Edler Brown: This has been a hard year with a lot of losses. But one of the things I am proud of is finally joining WWS. Even though I’ve only come to two meetings, they reminded me that I am so much more than someone’s teacher and put the words “writing career” back into my vocabulary in a way they have not been since I left journalism. I am also proud of the quiet way my pieces are calling to one another, asking to be books. Thank you all for holding this space and writing new horizons. I hope to have more to share next year.

Barbara Berg: Proud to have two poems in Gayle Brandeis‘s lady/liberty/lit and to have finally met her! Also glad to be part of WWS LA and WWS West LA and two other writing groups that keep me writing and submitting.

Désirée Zamorano: Proud of being invited this year to so many venues, including the Pomegranate reading series [hosted by WWS organizer Lauren Eggert-Crowe]. Also happy about an essay in Catapult, a short story in Taste, and a short story out in a collection that’s gotten national attention. Really happy to be part of a writing group that’s inspiring and motivating.

Rachael Warecki: Getting into Ragdale, winning the Tiferet Prize for Fiction, and querying my novel — all submitted while at WWS parties!

Lauren Eggert-Crowe: I published two essays that had been in my head for years. I hosted a release party for my fourth chapbook, Bitches of the Drought, and I was proud to feature WWS members and friends Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Ramona Pilar, Kate Durbin and Siel Ju alongside me. The chapbook sales raised $450 for Planned Parenthood, SisterSong, and the Coalition of Humane Immigrant Rights. I also applied to Hedgebrook!

Ramona Pilar: Proud of? Not giving up. Continually finding ways to find a new way. Getting closer to a sense of voice.

Jamie Moore: I’m most proud of taking the risks of getting my work out there, even when the larger project is still in progress. I’m proud of taking advice, and submitting to Hedgebrook and the Nervous Breakdown. I’m proud of helping support a group of women writers in Fresno! I’m proud of my friends for leading the way!

Congratulations, writers! Looking forward to rocking 2018 with all of you.