December’s WWS New Member Orientation and Tips for Self-Care

by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

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Andrea Gutierrez has been published in make/shift, Mujeres de Maiz, Bitch, Huizache, On She Goes, and has previously edited for make/shift, Drunken Boat, and Los Angeles Review of Books.

Our next WWS New Member Orientation and Submission Party is set for Saturday, December 9th from 10am-2pm at 5481 Santa Monica Blvd 90029. We will begin at 10am with a one-hour workshop on self-care from WWS member and chingona, Andrea Gutierrez, who recently co-led a workshop on self-care at the 2017 Thinking Its Presence conference at the Poetry Center in Tucson, AZ. The workshop will be followed by breakout sessions from 11am-11:30am for a WWS orientation for new members and goal setting for current members. We will be submitting in real time from 11:30am-2pm. If you are looking for places to submit, check out this list of current open calls from Entropy.

New this month, we are gifting up to $200 worth of individual grants to WWS members to help offset the burden of submission fees thanks to the Center for Cultural Innovation selecting WWS for an Investing in Tomorrow grant. Submission fee grants will be given in $25 and $50 amounts and will be based on need. These grants are for current members, but don’t worry, to become a member, all you have to do is show up. New members will be eligible for a grant at our next public meeting in February.

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Ten Kind Suggestions for Being a Literary Citizen

by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

1. Read

The most important way to contribute to a community of writers is to read their writing. Buy and read the books and journals of those around you, those you admire, those who you wish to work with, those you call friend or wish to call friend. Of course, we can’t buy every book, but if you can’t buy it, then borrow it from a friend or the library (And by the way, support your local libraries! They do important work for the community’s children and families). We are writers; it’s what we do; it’s what we work for. Show your appreciation for others by knowing their work.

2. Share

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Use social media to share what you’ve been reading and help promote other writers’ work, readings, or events. I like to post photos of my current reads to Twitter and Instagram with #amreading and tag the author if I can. As someone whose first book debuted a year ago, I know it gives me all the warm, happy feels to see my book in a reader’s hands on social media, and I want to give that feeling back. Also, it helps promote their work and possibly gain them more readers and followers. I also like to share photos of events I’m at, especially if they are women, women of color, and writers of color centric events because we need to be archiving more. I think it’s important to capture these moments, and say, yes, these writers were here; their work is important; you should know these writers.

It costs nothing to share what you’re reading or the events you’re attending on social media, so why not give freely and widely? Continue reading

June WWS Orientation & Two Book Releases

by Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

Saturday, June 10th from 11am-3pm, Women Who Submit will host a public orientation and submission party at Art Share LA in the Arts District with free parking for attendees. Every other month, WWS hosts a public orientation and submission party for women and nonbinary writers in order to welcome new members to join our organization and learn about our mission and submission strategies in a comfortable, supportive and open environment. We will also have a round table discussion on strategies for applying to residencies and workshops.

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WWS Poetry Submission Blitz

By Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo

In honor of National Poetry Month, Women Who Submit is hosting a Poetry Submission Blitz on April 9, 2017 from 12pm-3pm at the Arts District Brewing Company. A submission blitz is a call to writers to submit their well-crafted and cared for work en masse to tier one literary journals that historically have shown gender disparities in their publications. A submission blitz is a call to action.

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Highlight on WWS-Las Vegas: An Interview with Chapter Lead, Jocelyn Paige Kelly

Women Who Submit: How would you describe your city and your local literary community?

Jocelyn Paige Kelly: Vegas is becoming a vibrant literary community. We have very supportive local bookstores that showcase local authors: The Writer’s Block and Books or Books.

There are also lots of opportunities for poets. We have three paying markets for poets: Desert Companion, Downtown Zen magazine, and Helen: A Literary Magazine. There are numerous open mics, a local slam team (Battle Born, named after the state motto), and readings that go on throughout each month. A few local groups have also started to sponsor awards and contest for local poets as well. We also have our first Clark County Poet Laureate Bruce Isaacson who does a lot to support the local poetry scene.

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The Art of Submitting to Writing Contests

by Tammy Delatorre

It was the first writing contest I had placed in. I was in the seventh grade. Our English teacher had forced us to write haikus and entered them—with a brief mention of this in class—into a statewide contest. On a field trip, we would find out the winners.

Cut to: We’re crowding into an auditorium, the good meal of a tuna sandwich and milk swimming in my belly. I was looking forward to a fun bus ride home, when a woman on stage announced I had won honorable mention for my haiku. Having heard my name, I looked around. People were waving me onstage. In a daze, I went up and accepted my ribbon.

For the most part, every writing contest I’ve placed in thereafter goes pretty much the same way. Bleary-eyed incredibility. I won. Are you sure?

Over the years, I have learned many lessons about entering writing contests, and chief among them is 1) you don’t have to believe you have the best submission out there to win. I know this from entering more than 100 contests and having placed more than 10 times, which brings me to another lesson: 1b) people who win contests typically submit a lot.

The next contest of note: I was a sophomore in college. There was a call to write an essay or poem about friendship. I was a poor student and needed the money. I had a best friend at the time (although I eventually lost her). She was my inspiration to write an embarrassingly bad poem that won $500. This brings me to another very important lesson: 2) the subject material should be extraordinarily important to the writer. I loved that best friend. I might have even been in love with her, the emotions so stirring it brought others to see the value in my piece.

One contest was local, sponsored by the Ventura County Writers Club. My short story placed third, won $120, and ran in the Ventura County Star. A writer I admired (Thaddeus Rutkowski) saw my story and asked to run it in the literary magazine, Many Mountains Moving, for which he served as editor. The lesson here: 3) size doesn’t matter; all types of contests can help in the advancement of a writing career. It was the first time I was called to read as a recognized author, not just part of a workshop or requirement for my MFA.

In another competition, River Styx Schlafly Beer Micro-Brew Micro-Fiction Contest, my piece, “Gifts from My Mother,” won a case of beer along with $1500. The story was less than 300 words. I’d been writing a lot of flash fiction and thinking, why am I wasting my time writing these short pieces? This brought me to another lesson, a variation on the size-doesn’t-matter theme: 4) short pieces have immense value. My roommate at the time loved beer; he drank the alcoholic portion of my winnings. I was happy to share.

I found out River Styx was hosting a reading in St. Louis, Missouri. I excitedly offered the editor to fly out from LA to participate. He said, but you’ll spend half your winnings to just come out here. I let him talk me out of it. In truth, I really wanted to go and had always regretted not doing it, so…  6) if you’re fortunate enough to win a contest, always find a way to perform a reading of your winning work—to honor the work, to celebrate your success, to tell the universe, Thank you! Thank you so much!

At that point in my writing, a friend of mine mentioned she’d met a great teacher who taught personal essay. I had no desire to write personal essay, but a couple other lessons that have helped in my overall development as a writer and eventually led to other contest successes were…  7) always be on the lookout for a good writing mentor, and 8) try not to limit the kind of writing you say you’re going to do, are willing to do, or are good or not good at… Try all kinds of writing. One type informs the other.

So I took the class. That personal essay mentor, Taffy Brodesser-Akner, told me a lot of things. Chief among them: 9) professional writers get paid to write, and in a side comment when reviewing one of my essays: 10) I think you’ve had an interesting life. For me, that was probably the most earth-shattering lesson of all. I didn’t know that people might find my life interesting. At the time, my life—full of family secrets—was something to hide, not publish.

I went home and searched my journals and notebooks. I’d been writing about my life all my life, so why not try to write something remarkably personal? I wrote “Out of the Swollen Sea,” which went on to be selected by author Cheryl Strayed as the winner of the 2015 Payton Prize and published on therumpus.net.

But when I first finished that essay, Taffy’s important words rang in my ears (see #9). If my mentor had inspired me to write a piece so personal, how could I let her down and submit it to venues that would pay me nil, nada, zilch? So I thought, how could I get paid for this piece? What did I think this piece was worth?

Those questions led me to a submission strategy and an experiment of sorts. If you’d like to learn about it, come to the February Submission Party hosted by Women Who Submit, Saturday, February 13 at the Libros Schmibros: Lending Library & Bookshop (1711 Mariachi Plaza de los Angele, Los Angeles, California 90033). I will be leading a discussion on successful strategies for submitting to writing contests and share my “Anatomy of a Submission.”


bb5bc3b5-4e1f-41a2-8c80-d8277c6407baTammy Delatorre is a writer living in Los Angeles. In previous lives, she’s worked for a Nobel-prize-winning biochemist; helped to build and race a solar car that won the World Solar Challenge in Australia; and danced the hula despite being teased of stiff hips. Her essay, “Out of the Swollen Sea,” was selected by Cheryl Strayed as the winner of the 2015 Payton Prize, and her most recent essay, “Diving Lessons,” won the 2015 Slippery Elm Prose Contest. More of her stories and essays can be found on her website: www.tammydelatorre.com.

Women Who Crawl: Laura Warrell on Reading at Lit Crawl L.A.

by Laura Warrell

Women Who Submit rocked this year’s Lit Crawl L.A., an annual street festival where thousands of book lovers hustle from one North Hollywood venue to the next to hear local authors read their work. As a new member of WWS, I was honored when group co-founder Xochitl-Julisa Bermejo invited me to read at the event this year, a feeling that deepened as I listened to the powerhouse line-up of women writers with whom I shared the stage. Lit Crawl gave me the opportunity to once again hear Lisa Cheby read from her chapbook, Love Lessons from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, including a poem nominated for a Pushcart prize. Iris De Anda’s delicate delivery of her poems only heightened their intensity, while Ashaki M. Jackson’s poems were as bracing as they were profound. The prose writers, Tisha Reichle and Vicki Vertiz, rounded out the line-up sharing poignant and compelling stories that captivated the audience. I read a brand-new essay–one I had never shared–but knew the safest place to make a debut was among friends of WWS.

In an effort to emulate WWS meetings, each reader began by listing the publications to which she had submitted her work and was immediately cheered on by the audience (at meetings, each member announces the moment she presses “send” and submits her work to literary journals and contests as everyone in the room applauds). Unlike WWS meetings, we cheered with plastic hand clappers, which made a normally subdued event feel more like a celebration. Though the reading took place on the patio of the Eclectic Restaurant, the noise from the busy dining room and street could not overpower the readers’ voices or the audience’s applause. Passersby stopped to listen, snap pictures and join an already packed house.

The Lit Crawl reading was one of the best of my writing life. At first, I was nervous to take part because my essay explored one of the most difficult moments in my failed marriage. Not only did I feel vulnerable sharing such a personal story, especially a painful one, but I also worried whether the new piece was “working.” The rousing applause after I finished reading was encouragement enough. But even more fantastic was the support I received from my fellow WWS members, like Tisha who beamed at me when I walked off the stage and said, “You killed it.”

Which brings me to what is most special about Women Who Submit: community. All writers need places where they can feel supported to take chances in their work and brave the challenges of an artistic life. But for women writers, who tend to be less assertive in building their careers, the support may be even more crucial. For that, WWS is priceless.


-1A recent transplant to Los Angeles from Boston, Laura Warrell has been published in Salon.com, Racialicious.com, The Writer and other publications. She spends most of her days hustling to one of three adjunct teaching positions to fill amazing young minds with literature and writing prompts. The other days, she thanks God for never having to endure another New England winter.