Ever stuck your foot or hand into ice cold water and held it there, feeling the numbness of the aftershock? How about the whacky idea of a polar plunge – your whole body into an icy lake – can you imagine what that must feel like? Believe it or not, that’s the exact sensation the editors of Cold Creek Review were going for when they named their online publication. “We wanted to focus on literature and art that makes you feel paralyzed,” Editor-in-Chief for Poetry and Nonfiction Amber D. Tran tells me. “We imagine reading and reviewing our featured pieces leaves you with a sense of frozen time, like you were being submerged in a body of ice-cold water.”
Right now, as we enter the peak of summer in the Midwest, this sounds like a great way to escape the heat: submerged in an online journal of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, art and photography. But, Tran warns me, “Cold Creek Review is not your ordinary journal. It publishes pieces with distressing themes. If a reader wants to feel challenged, they should consider reading Cold Creek Review.”
Indeed, the submission guidelines specify that, though the editors will consider all styles, they “are partial to submissions that demonstrate examples of troubled emotion.” This includes “work that invigorates a feeling of melancholy long after finishing the piece and anything that makes us do more than think. We want your submission to leave us paralyzed and distressed. We challenge you to alarm us.”
Cold Creek Review is released quarterly, but there is also another biannual publication called The Shallows, which "separates itself from the theme of the troubled and the paralyzed,” the editors explain. “All submissions chosen for The Shallows are paired with an interview between the editor who chose to publish the submission and the writer/artist responsible for the submission.” The theme for each issue of The Shallows will be posted on the website.
With two issues already in publication, Cold Creek Review is off to a good start. The collaborative effort of Amber D. Tran, Jane Pearson, and Sheena Bove, it was Tran’s desire since college to start a literary journal. A published novelist herself (Moon River, Little Creek Books, 2016), Tran was motivated by her love for the creative arts to start Cold Creek Review. A fan of the darker and more disturbing themes, Tran wanted to focus on atypical work. Her goal was to publish pieces that bring about mystery and often pain.
Alongside Tran is Jane Pearson, who is currently working on her master’s in business administration. She is a frequent reader and edits material on the side. And Sheena Bove, who has a master’s in human-computer interaction and is an avid digital and traditional artist. She designs t-shirts, paints, and works closely with user experience.
Writers who are interested in submitting works can expect thorough consideration. Tran reviews the submissions first, and then she hands them off to Pearson and/or Bove. The editors meet once every two weeks to review submissions. Together, the three discuss each submission individually, making sure that all parts of the submission are considered and understood. Typically, Tran makes the final decision on poetry and nonfiction, Pearson for fiction, and Bove for art; sometimes, if a piece speaks to an editor, they can override a decision for publication if it is outside their jurisdiction. The day after the meeting, Tran compiles all submissions and responds to the writers.
Cold Creek Review accepts submissions on a rolling basis, and Tran emphasizes to writers: “If you feel like you have a dark piece that may not be suitable for other journals, please send it to us!”