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.

Women Who Submit about town!

If you’re in L.A., don’t miss Lit Crawl tonight in North Hollywood! Three rounds of raucous literary goodness all over the neighborhood. You’ll find many events starring Women Who Submit!

Round 1

From 7 to 7:45 you have many choices to see Women Who Submit in action, including:

The Rumpus: Heartache and Whores: How We Write Sexuality, featuring WWS organizer Ashley Perez

Roots and Wings Project: Matriarch, featuring WWS organizer Ramona Pilar

The Dimes: Death and Other Funny Stories, featuring WWS member Marnie Goodfriend

Melrose Poetry Bureau featuring WWS member Linda Ravenswood

Round 2

From 8 to 8:45, the word party continues, with:

The Santa Monica Review, featuring Women Who Submit member Sandy Yang

Red Hen Press: Fowl Language featuring WWS member Siel Ju

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Claps and Cheers: Latinxs in Media Res

by Ramona Pilar

Claps and Cheers is a column dedicated to honoring pioneers and visionary storytellers who have forged their own path in their creative careers. This month we focus on honoring one’s own reality as seen through the work of Soraya Membreno, Vickie Vértiz, and Vanessa Angélica Villarreal.

I gotta be honest. At the risk of sounding snarky, I don’t like a lot of stuff right now. I mentioned this to a friend of mine the other day and he said, “But… you don’t like most things.” And yeah, it’s true. There isn’t a lot of stuff out there that I can say that I like, much less love and feel passionate about. The older I’ve gotten, the less connected I feel to the culture in which I live because I still don’t see myself reflected in it.

I used to be inspired by the concept of “paint[ing] my own reality,” this idea that if I don’t see myself reflected in the art and culture around me, it’s my job to produce it, to fill that niche. Keeping inspired, keeping focused, keeping in touch with what I now see as an idealistic philosophy has proven to be challenging, to say the least.  There’s the reality I want to create, and the one in which I have to live and work and try to earn money and sustain myself. More often than not, I find they are at odds with each other which makes it difficult to have faith in my ability to communicate a reality that I know exists, even if I don’t see it in the world around me.

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Annoucement: WWS Selected for CCI Grant

Women Who Submit is excited to announce that our WWS Los Angeles headquarters was selected out of 106 applicants to receive one of 14 Investing in Tomorrow Organizational Grants from Center for Cultural Innovation (CCI), a nonprofit organization awarding grants to individuals, organizations, and projects throughout California for the arts.

From the CCI press release:

The 2017 Investing in Tomorrow Organizational Grants program granted $105,000 to fourteen projects taking place throughout California. Each grant of $7,500 supports catalytic individual and institutional leadership at this time of tremendous social, economic, generational, demographic, and technological change. Continue reading

Claps & Cheers: ¡Viva la Hustle!

by Ramona Pilar

Claps and Cheers is a column dedicated to honoring pioneers and visionary storytellers who have forged their own path in their creative careers.

Leaving a solid, creative job, with fantastic health care and retirement plans to found your own creative business with no template is frightening. Not having a creative precursor on either side of one’s family, pursuing low-paying, artistic gigs with no long-term health or retirement benefits can be a hard sell both to family, friends, and especially to one’s self. I find myself in the throes of this conundrum and I know I’m not alone.

I have been fortunate enough and hashtag blessed to have found myself in the company of a community of creative hustlers who are eking out their own path in service of creating a life that serves both personal and professional needs.

I met Michelle Zamora when she was an undergrad at Cal State Los Angeles. She moved from Brownsville Texas in 2000 to study acting. We were both working on a theatre project with my roommate at the time (Selene Santiago), who was in graduate school at CSULA.

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Claps and Cheers: DIY Artista Gabriela López de Dennis

by Ramona Pilar

Claps and Cheers is a column dedicated to honoring pioneers and visionary storytellers who have forged their own path in their creative careers.

This month we focus on Gabriela López de Dennis, a writer, producer, artist, and Los Angeles native. A graduate of Otis College of Art and Design, López de Dennis has orchestrated a life that balances her creative career, artistic pursuits, family, and faith.

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Photo by: Keila López

López de Dennis has recently adapted her 2008 stage play Hoop Girls into a web series through Lone Stars Entertainment, a production studio of which she is Co-Founder, CEO, and Co-Creative Director. Below is an interview I conducted with her regarding Hoop Girls and other projects in which she is currently involved. 

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Claps and Cheers: The Power of No

by Ramona Pilar, Editor Claps & Cheers

This past January, writer and cultural critic Roxane Gay made the decision to pull her upcoming book How to be Heard from publishing with TED Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

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Noted author and “bad feminist,” Roxane Gay

The reason: not wanting to be published by the same publisher that would give Milo Yiannopolous, noted far-right writer and cultural instigator, a platform.

From a statement she gave to BuzzFeed News:

“I was supposed to turn the book in this month and I kept thinking about how egregious it is to give someone like Milo a platform for his blunt, inelegant hate and provocation. I just couldn’t bring myself to turn the book in. My editor emailed me last week and I kept staring at that email in my inbox and finally over the weekend I asked my agent to pull the book… I can’t in good conscience let them publish it while they also publish Milo.”

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WWS at AWP17

Are you feeling anxious just yet about this year’s AWP conference? Not to worry because we have a guide to all events where you can find the happy, shining faces of Women Who Submit and friends. And while you are combing the bookfair, be sure to find us at booth 975 with Roar Feminist Magazine and Dandelion Review to pick up an “I submitted!” button and to add your name to the WWS daily giveaway. It will include one WWS tote with books, chapbooks, and zines from our members including copies of Posada: Offerings of Wintess and Refuge (Sundress Publications 2016) by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo, Gent/Re Place Ing (Write Large Press 2016) by Jessica Ceballos Campbell, Surveillance (Write Large Press 2016) by Ashaki M. Jackson, Cake Time (Red Hen Press 2017) by Siel Ju, Excavation (Future Tense Books 2014) by Wendy C. Ortiz, Wrestling Alligators (Martin Brown Publishers 2016) by Diane Sherlock, Traci Traci Love Fest, a collection of poems from L.A. poets writing in support of poet, performer and community activist Traci Kato Kiriyama as she battles breast cancer and more!

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Plus, don’t forget to reread this piece by Lauren Eggert-Crowe for reminders on how to stay happy and healthy over the next week, and we recommend checking out Entropy’s guide if you are looking for avenues of resistance and action. Continue reading

Claps and Cheers: The Power of Niche-tivism

by Ramona Pilar
Header Photo by Caden Crawford

Too often the reader repeats the question to the writer in the form of a command: You have shown me the problem, now show me the solution. But the writer can not save us — only show us we need saving. The writer is not a savior, but a blessing. The solution must come from community rising, writing is communion —shared sustenance. – Dominique Matti on Medium

There are people who find the power and energy to found and organize marches, coalitions, and movements. There are those who, on the daily-weekly-monthly-yearly, take up the mantle to carry those actions forward. Actions with specific intent, fueled by a passion to effect change, to correct imbalances, to adjust societal subluxations in order address the pains that have affected how we, as a symbiotic organism, function.

These folks are the shining beacons of a seemingly disconnected group of people with similar values who have been feeling the need to be “a part of something,” who want to “make change” but don’t know how to start. Who don’t know how to rally. Who don’t know how to find faith in themselves to harness that league of extraordinary doers to heed the call to action and revolt. Who don’t know how to conjure up the elements that lead to a moment – or series of moments – that would definitely make the biopic or before-battle speech.

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2016 in Review with Encouraging Words from Sara Novic for 2017

by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

2016 began with the establishment of the WWS Leadership Team who worked together on debut presentations for AWP16, BinderCon Los Angeles, and MixedRemix Festival. Thanks to our WWS Chapter Director, Ashaki Jackson, we welcomed new chapters in New York City, NY, Grand Forks, ND, Seattle, WA, and Oaxaca City, MX as well as other locations across the country. In September, we celebrated our 3rd Annual WWS Submission Blitz  where over 100 women participated remotely and submitted to top tier journals with over 20 women joining the LA meet up at the Faculty Bar. We held five private submission parties hosted by LA members, and new this year, we held our bimonthly new member orientations at different art and literary centers across the city. In February we met at Libros Schmibros in Boyle Heights with guest speaker, Tammy Delatorre, who shared strategies for contest submissions, April was dA Center for the Arts in Pomona with Cati Porter talking about directing Inlandia Institute and creating Poemeleon, a journal of poetry, June was  Antioch University in Culver City with Pamela Redmond Satran speaking about the road to becoming a successful professional writer, October was Beyond Baroque Literary/Arts Center in Venice Beach with Siel Ju sharing tips for finding an agent, and finally this month at Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park, Sara Novic skyped in from Cincinnati, OH to talk about writing and activism post election. Continue reading