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-Long Beach, CA: An Interview with Chapter Leads Desiree Kannel and Rachael Rifkin

How would you describe your city and your local literary community?

We like to say that Long Beach is a “little ‘big’ city.” We have a big and diverse population and lots of very different communities. In fact, LB was named one of the most diverse cities in the US according to the last census. A fact we are very proud of.

LB has a lot going on in the literary world. It isn’t hard to find a poetry reading, someone doing a book launch, or even a critique group. Independent businesses like coffee shops and book stores like to support LB writers and welcome small groups to do events such as readings or workshops. Continue reading

Highlight on WWS-NYC: An Interview with Chapter Lead, Kirsten Major

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

Kirsten Major: New York is a big-little city. We are 8 million in number, but the literary scene is small–everyone is about 1 person away from everyone else. Sharing air with literary giants is not uncommon. The five boroughs, plus Jersey City, plus Long Island reading scene is endless. My fantasy day job would be to be the Bill Cunningham of the literati, on my bike every night with a camera around my neck, on my way to a reading somewhere to take pictures of my world.

WWS: How did you hear of Women Who Submit, and why were you drawn to start a WWS chapter in your area?

KM: It just gets so. Darned. Hard. To keep putting yourself out there. Leland Cheuk, who wrote The Misadventures of Sulliver Pong, has written about this beautifully, persevering in the face of unstinting rejection. And also, it is mighty easy to have dedicated writing time co-opted by sending my work out if I haven’t in a while. Above all, it’s lonely. I am pretty active on Twitter so one day I put it out there, “Is there any one who knows if there are submissions parties? Is this a thing?” And someone sent me the WWS Twitter handle and I thought, that’s for me. It was absolutely key that Ashaki Jackson, co-founder, had a training session, coached me about attracting people and then worked her own NYC-based network of poets at Cave Canem,to help me get started. The national organization has supported me at every level and that keeps me going. Continue reading

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

Learning Your Audience: The Benefits of Submitting to Literary Journals, Grants, and Residencies (Even If You Don’t Get In!)

by Rachael Warecki

Two years ago, I decided I needed to focus my submission process. I’d received acceptances from some wonderful journals, but I’m ambitious as hell and I wanted to take my writing and submission goals to the next level. Around the same time, I also decided to apply for grants and residencies, so I started to target my submissions and applications more strategically.

As I’ve written previously, this approach has had some success, mostly in the form of personal rejections. But the editorial notes and feedback have given me more than just warm, fuzzy feelings of validation—they’ve given me a better sense of my most receptive audience. In the two years since I decided to submit more strategically, I’ve discovered that my writing seems to appeal mostly to editors and directors who are women. The judges and editors who’ve written me the warmest rejections have identified as women or represented women-centric organizations, or both.

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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.