"Remington" by Mark Grapengater (flickr.com/mgrap). Original link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mgrap/2261210942/in/photolist-4rPiey-37ASje-MUwf8-dXXLCh-bBSf6F-Wdari-8gQCTK-pJLZ1-BYpmP-dmn5g3-gHKpus-dSDBv9-5prNbT-5y4Y3Q-6SZGVh-81FxpK-6SVEgx-cR4sY9-dmn1gF-6SZGTJ-dmn4mz-878fHx-auJWRu-auGeC8-dmn5QX-8uXJ49-9DofZL-ezhHew-auGfwH-auGgqH-d59cyC-x13xS-auGgSz-ma1E7G-dmn929-dmn9aS-6ZA9Sv-dmn5qr-auGf58-6ZA9Mp-dF4Zk6-auJVsQ-qX6Mkb-rBDo5B-r6hX1j-rRNCAL-qNcJP1-rBDobt-6ZEaKL-85H5Ye

Behind the Editor’s Desk: An Interview with Siel Ju

by Lauren Eggert-Crowe

Siel Ju is the editor of Flash Flash Click, an online lit zine for fast fiction. Subscribers get a weekly flash prose piece delivered every Tuesday. The pieces range in style, tone, and content but all have a compelling narrative driving them, no matter how short. Some veer more towards the lyrical and sublime while others give the reader a sardonic slice-of-life from a first-person narrator. Siel has featured such authors as Wendy C. Ortiz, Catherine Daly, Lisa Cheby, Maureen Gibbon and Molly Fuller. I asked Siel a few questions about her job as editor of Flash Flash Click.

Why did you decide to start Flash Flash Click? 

The impetus came from feeling there was a big, untapped population of readers out there who weren’t being reached by the current literary marketplace. I have friends who are writers, but I also have many non-writer friends who are smart and literate — who might very well enjoy reading poems and stories but are completely unfamiliar with the world of literary journals. I think a lot of people don’t even know literary journals exist! So the idea was to start a lit zine that sent a short piece a week via email — tiny bits of prose that can be read easily on a smartphone — sort of like a gateway drug to entice “regular” people to become regular readers of contemporary fiction and poetry.

What sets Flash Flash Click apart from other online journals?

The weekly email format is the main difference. It’s a format and length people are used to reading as part of their day to day lives.

What qualities do you look for in submitted writing?

The piece has to hold my interest and give me some unexpected experience. Beyond that — Since Flash is a flash prose site, I look for pieces that have a sense of completion — pieces that feel like they are meant to stand on their own, versus pieces that read like excerpts of a bigger work. I also look for accessibility. Like I mentioned before, I want the pieces in Flash to be pieces that anyone — even someone who hasn’t read fiction in years — can have a personal connection with.

What are the most frequent cliches or overused themes you see in the pieces you reject?

Well, I’m always surprised by how writers make the usual unusual, so I don’t really have complaints about overused themes and cliches because whatever I complain about, I’m sure a writer will transform that very thing into an unexpected piece I end up loving. My pet peeves have more to do with getting work that’s clearly not ready — sloppy writing where verb tenses and points of view suddenly change mid-story (in a way that’s clearly not intentional), numerous grammar and punctuation errors (again of the unintentional sort), that sort of thing. You’d be surprised at what some people submit!

About what percentage of your featured work is solicited and what percentage is slush pile?

It’s about 50-50 right now, since Flash is just six months old and submissions are still ramping up. I expect in the next year or so, the percentage will shift quite a bit.

What are key things you’ve learned about being an editor since starting this project?

As an editor, I’ve learned that time management is really, really important! But I’ve actually learned a lot as a writer too — to submit often, to resubmit often, and to not take rejection so personally. I think before I started this project, I feared that when I submitted work again to a publication that had previously rejected me, that the editor there might feel disgruntled or put off by having to read more work from me. “Ugh,” I imagined them saying. “Not another story I’m gonna hate from this Siel person again.” Looking at this from the other side, I know this isn’t really how editors think. Well, at least I don’t. I look forward to seeing repeat names — and am curious about and excited to see what they’ve sent me this time around. It feels like an ongoing conversation —

For women who would like to start their own literary journal, what tips would you give them?

Figure out how much time and energy you really have to devote to the journal, then structure the journal so that it fits into that framework. There are many reasons why Flash Flash Click publishes just one 1000-words-or-fewer piece per week,  the limits of  time and energy being a primary one.

Subscribe to Flash Flash Click here!


Siel-Block-Wall-Partial-Desaturation-e1464745315481Siel Ju is a writer. Her novel-in-stories, Cake Time, is the winner of the 2015 Red Hen Press Fiction Manuscript Award and will be published in Spring 2017. Siel is also the author of two poetry chapbooks: Feelings Are Chemicals in Transit from Dancing Girl Press, and Might Club from Horse Less Press. Her stories and poems appear in ZYZZYVA, The Missouri Review (Poem of the Week), The Los Angeles Review, Denver Quarterly, and other places.

Siel is the recipient of a residency from The Anderson Center at Tower View and Vermont Studio Center; she holds a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. She is the editor of Flash Flash Click, a weekly email lit zine for fast fiction. 

Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, or email her at emailsiel at gmail dot com.

Photo by Rachael Warecki

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A WWS PUBLICATION ROUND UP FOR JULY

The summer has not slowed down the members of Women Who Submit who have accumulated yet another impressive list of literary awards and publication acceptances.

Lauren Eggert-Crowe had three poems published in Angels Flight Literary West. From “Never Shop Thirsty:”

My heart is a hole I want
to stuff with bread

so I go to our Trader
Joe’s for the first time

since you left. Rearranged
shelves are enough to bring it on.

More good news: Lauren‘s fourth chapbook, “Bitches of the Drought,” was selected as a finalist in the Sundress Publications Chapbook contest judged by Staci R. Schoenfeld.

From Arielle Silver‘s “Stepmothers: From Sinister Stereotype to Contemporary Counter-Narratives,” the featured cover story in Lilith Magazine‘s Summer 2016 issue:

When parents tell stories from their personal history, the stories fold into the family’s folklore. Parents share childhood memories with their children, and the history knits into the fabric of the children’s understanding of who they are and where they came from. Yet, when I became a stepmother — a singularly unique type of outsider who, arguably, disturbs the established family harmony by her mere presence — I was surprised to find the girls asking me to share my stories.

Arielle also received The Poet’s Billow Bermuda Triangle Prize for “Sunday Morning.” From the piece:

You, deep in dreams, hoarded three corners of comforter. I, too, steal things unknowingly, myopic in my dreams. I, too, leave you shivering. These little meannesses, unintended, we soften with pillows and heartbeat.

From Antonia Crane‘s “Cannibalistic Feminism in UnREAL” in Tabu on Medium:

Sarah Gertrude Shapiro’s meta-reality TV show, UnREAL flips the script entirely. Shapiro’s strong feminist voice and interest in racial conflict and non-heteronormative tropes is loud and clear on and off script: in scenes and through her characters, her feminist agenda is working overtime, reducing the male gaze to a fine spray.

From Melissa Chadburn‘s “Inside a South L.A. Union Hall, a Tool for Saving Money – and for Fighting Predatory Payday Lenders” at Zocalo Public Square:

The union’s emphasis on financial literacy, and its support of cundinas, is designed to counter payday lenders that are all too prevalent today, especially in poorer parts of Los Angeles. Dr. Steven Graves, a professor of geography at California State University, Northridge, has mapped the prevalence of payday lenders across L.A. Low-income areas with a high percentage of African American and Latino residents have many more payday lenders than other neighborhoods. Graves has mapped 50 payday lenders just in South Los Angeles.

From Li Yun Alvarado‘s “Pulse Puertorriqueno: An Elegy in Collage” at The Brillantina Project:

Mateen knew who he went to slaughter. We know this now. New Republic’s egregious oversight gives the impression that a general LGBTQ crowd was targeted. Well, it wasn’t. This is Step One of “the people-of-color erasure”…

If you missed Jay O’Shea‘s TedxUCLA talk “Beyond Winning” presented last May, check out the link posted this month!

Congratulations to Ashley Perez and Rachael Warecki who were both accepted into residencies at the Vermont Studio Center!

Congrats also go out to Hong-My Basrai who was offered a book contract for her memoir and to Leilani Squire who was invited to write a review of Al Gore’s “The Assault on Reason” for Bookscover2cover.

Congratulations to Iris De Anda whose poem “this is how you cross the border” will be translated into Italian under the title “Sotto il cielo di Lampedusa” and published by Rayuela in Italy in an upcoming anthology about migration. Iris‘ poem “no espanish here” will also be featured in El Tecolote Anthology.

A big WWS applause for new member Sofia Rose Smith whose poem “Dance Floor” was accepted to Glass Poetry Journal.

And finally, congratulations to Tanya Ko-hong who had two poems published in Korean publications. Here’s a sample:

거실 천장까지 쌓여 있는 나무를 봐 
  저 벌거숭이 나무가 마루가 되려면 
  드는 돈도 시간도 엄청나대 
  기다란 생참나무 뻗어 있는 모양 

  아—― 꼭 죽은 코끼리가 누워 있는 것 같아

 

Happy August!
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So you want to be a writer, Mija?!

by Iris De Anda

On the lower shelf of my bookcase, there is a row full of journals spanning the years of my writing attempts. A self portrait of a young girl at the age of 13, who took pen to paper on the bedroom floor. What began as stream of consciousness turned into wannabe poetry by the age of 15, when I ventured into my first open mic at a coffee shop in Alhambra, CA. Some girl approached me afterwards and said something about my words meaning something to her. I was perplexed and inspired, and I didn’t do another open mic for about 3 years. Always reading, always writing, never sharing was my silent motto.

By the time I was heading to college I decided to stick to this feeling by choosing the forests of UC Santa Cruz as my backdrop to pursue a creative writing degree. What I walked into was an academic nightmare, with most of my professors being white men who preferred textbook to teatro. I was all east Los Angeles and nothing like Dickenson, porque soy De Anda. I decided getting into debt for a writing degree was not very punk rock, so I withdrew from school just 1 year before graduation. I felt the creativity being drained out of me with revisions that made no sense to me. They say you have to flesh out your words. I thought, I have spilt myself onto the page. My skin is exposed with all words a mess and on fire, you cannot contain this burning. All this work for the paper that designates I get to write on other papers from this moment forward. I withdrew with my spirit still intact and my writing as horrible as ever.

A little over a decade passed, I became a mother, a holistic health practitioner, but the words never left. I continued to create and at the age of 33, I was invited by some friends to be part of a poetry reading at their gallery in my hometown of El Sereno just miles from the coffeeshop of my youth. This was the summer of yes and the rest is herstory. The match had been lit and something ignited in me. Looking at those journals collecting dust the thought came that a book could be made from all of those somethings, so I began to piece together a manuscript. I remember stringing the poems together across the screen with a feeling, I had no clue what I was doing, but I didn’t care because it felt real.

Step 1 create a press: Los Writers Underground
Step 2 come up with the title before drifting to sleep: Codeswitch: Fires from Mi Corazon
Step 3 lose your manuscript in the mail
Step 4 print 1080 copies, sell 780 copies to your friends, online, local bookstores, colleges, poetry road trips, etc.

Repeat, no edits allowed. I am a lazy writer, if the words don’t come out as rushing rivers I ignore them. So when the water rises, I put pen to paper and answer the call. I do not have my MFA, my BS is in Natural Health. I will not follow the rules because along the way the words have followed me. I am a heartist, I follow the palabra and the wind, ehecahtl has never failed me. Words are our Medicine, so long as we create from the fires within the rest falls into place. As each letter precedes the next, so too do our stories and it is our duty to share them even if they come out tongue parched and our voices shaking. We need to hear from every corner of every bedroom from every girl. Something is sure to reach someone somewhere.


Iris-de-anda-bio16Iris De Anda is a Guanaca Tapatia poet who hosts The Writers Underground Open Mic at the Eastside Cafe every third Thursday of the month. Author of CODESWITCH: Fires From Mi Corazon. www.irisdeanda.com.

Claps and Cheers: Aya de Leon interviewed by Toni Ann Johnson

The first time I saw Aya was during graduate school at Antioch University Los Angeles. I noticed her immediately because she’s taller than most (while I’m shorter than most), and she has beautiful, long dreadlocks. Her intelligence, however (she’s a Harvard graduate), was the attribute that would remind me of who she was once we left campus and communicated from our respective locations for the rest of the semester. (Ours was a “low-residency” program.) During online conferences I’d read her posts and think: Oh yeah, that’s Aya, the really smart woman.

 

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Aya de Leon – Author – Activist – Faculty – Mom – Really Smart Woman

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7 Steps I Took to Find my Literary Agent

by Siel Ju

This article was first published at sielju.com on June 14, 2016. It is reposted with permission from the author. 

It’s gotten a bit better now, but I used to be a really terrible procrastinator. I did everything I didn’t need to do while procrastinating on the one thing I purportedly really, really wanted to do: write. Then I complained about how I had no time to write.

Best way to procrastinate on writing while clinging to your identity as a writer: Do things vaguely related to writing that don’t actually require you to write. (Remember that Ze Frank video? Take on tasks that give you “the illusion that you’re getting closer to the thing you’re trying to avoid.”)

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Women Who Submit Stands with #BlackLivesMatter: Resources for Awareness, Unity and Healing

Women Who Submit stands in solidarity with the #blacklivesmatter movement as we work for equality and visibility of not just women writers but all marginalized people. As we each individually and as a collective search for ways to help the movement, we share the following collection of articles, interviews, poems and videos that we have found helpful in this dark time. We hope you find them helpful too. Continue reading

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Finding the Power in Submission

by Lisa Cheby

After my father died when I was ten, I watched my mother, who had been a stay-at-home mom, struggle with returning to the workforce while avoiding managing her grief. At the time, I only saw the struggle and deduced my job in life was to never depend on anyone else. This somehow translated into a reluctance to ask for anything from anyone. Through college and film school, I embraced autonomy, working summers to pay tuition on my own, coordinating moves within Florida then to New York City and Los Angeles on my own, paying my bills on my own, finding jobs on my own, buying a home on my own, and traveling on my own.

In her book Shakti Woman, Vicki Noble writes how the taboo of menstruation and women’s bodies paired with women’s conditioning to deny the Dark Goddess in themselves leads women to view autonomy as unacceptable and, quoting Sylvia Perera, devours their “sense of willed potency and value” (30). With all this autonomy, with all my effort to create a life where I depended on no one, I wondered why I still felt devoid of “willed potency and value.” Rather than empowered, I was disconnected and inhibited. Continue reading