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Denise Hill

First Lines for 2016

November 11, 2015
Written by
snoopy typingThe First Line literary magazine is built on the premise of jump-starting writers' imaginations. The publication provides the first line for writers and accepts fiction and non-fiction submissions for each issue based on that unique first line. Since 1999, readers have been able to enjoy a wealth of creativity that stems from these common start points. Recently, the first line held a contest for - First Lines! They received over 1,000 entries and selected four to use as the first lines for 2016:

Spring: “Unfortunately, there is no mistake,” she said, closing the file. (Submitted by Julia Offen)
Summer: By the fifteenth month of the drought, the lake no longer held her secrets. (Submitted by Julie Thi Underhill)
Fall: Mrs. Morrison was too busy to die. (Submitted by Victoria Phelps)
Winter: In the six years I spent tracking David Addley, it never occurred to me that he didn’t exist. (Submitted by Aysha Akhtar)

"But wait," says Editor David LaBounty, "there’s more. We felt several sentences that were submitted as first lines would have made great last lines, and since we needed a last line for the third issue of The Last Line, we decided to pick one more sentence. We chose the following to be the last line for the 2016 issue."

Issue 3 of The Last Line: It was hard to accept that from now on everyone would look at her differently. (Submitted by Adele Gammon)

In case you weren't sure, The Last Line annual lit mag is the same concept, only flipped: writers are provided with the last line as their prompt.

No excuses writers: you've been prompted!

Changes at Florida Review

November 10, 2015
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jocelyn bartkeviciusThe Florida Review writes: "After seven years of distinguished leadership, Jocelyn Bartkevicius [pictured] is stepping down from the editorship to pursue her own writing projects." Jocelyn will see issue 39.2 to press and has made selections to be included in 40.1, making a smooth transition to the new editor, Lisa Roney, writer, teacher, and author of the recently published Serious Darling: Creative Writing in Four Genres.
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campbellGlimmer Train has just chosen the winning stories for their August Short Story Award for New Writers. This competition is held three times a year and is open to all writers whose fiction has not appeared in a print publication with a circulation greater than 5000. The next Short Story Award competition will take place in January/February. Glimmer Train’s monthly submission calendar may be viewed here.

1st place goes to A. Campbell of New Haven, CT [pictured], who wins $1500 for “On Fleek/Fleek On.” This story will be published in Issue 98 of Glimmer Train Stories. This will be the author’s first fiction publication.

2nd place goes to Mary Kate Varnau of Carbondale, IL for “Supernova.” This story will also appear in a future issue of Glimmer Train Stories, increasing her prize from $500 to $700.

3rd place goes to René Houtrides of Jackson Heights, NY. She wins $300 for “Senior Spring.”

A PDF of the Top 25 winners can be found here.
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driftwood press 24Some lit mags are able to feature a writer or two by providing an interview with authors whose works appear in the issue. For Driftwood Press Literary Magazine, amazingly, this 'feature' is standard.

Every contributor has the opportunity to include answers to some questions: When did you write this piece? What inspired this piece? Are any of its themes inspired by your own life? What part of this piece was conceived of first? Is there anything unique about your personal writing process? Who are some of your favorite authors? Which authors influenced this piece? What drew you to Driftwood Press?

In addition to a number of stock questions, there are also some which are tailored to the author or to the selected work, showing good editorial/interviewer sensibilities in eliciting information of interest to readers.

This is a remarkable feature in any magazine, adding informative and educational content to the reading. For writers looking for insight into the craft of other writers, and for readers looking for insight into their analysis and interpretation, a magazine full of these interviews is a boon. This is a publication I would recommend highly to teachers looking for accessible (and FREE) resources for students both in writing and literature courses. Getting a full scope of contemporary literature in a single source doesn't get much better than this.
Written by
amanda silberlingExcepted from "Afterglow" by Amanda Silberling:
I built a home in the shadow of a body,
raised myself to learn why time never stops
moving so slowly. How only I can turn it
back. Waking up feels ten cents short.
I can slip down the drain like a fallen coin.
Read the whole poem and hear it read by the poet on decomP magazinE.

Cutthroat Mentoring

October 27, 2015
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cutthroatCutthroat Literary Magazine offers month-long and six-week-long one-on-one mentorships in a number of genres. "This is much cheaper than a writers conference or a writing program," the magazine touts, with a refundable fee if the mentor fails to fulfill his/her contract. The mentorships include submitting work, getting close read feedback ("extensive written critical comments and suggestions"), and being able to interact via e-mail within each week of the mentorship to ask questions and submit new works or resubmit revised works. Visit the Cutthroat website to read more specifics, inlcluding fees. The writing mentors include:

POETRY: Patricia Smith, Richard Jackson, Joy Harjo, Pam Uschuk, Doug Anderson, Marilyn Kallet, Annie Finch, William Pitt Root

SHORT STORY: Donley Watt, Lorian Hemingway, Darlin' Neal, William Luvaas, Melissa Pritchard, Beth Alvarado

MEMOIR: Joy Harjo, Doug Anderson, Beth Alvarado

MIXED GENRE: Sean Thomas Dougherty

ESSAYS: Linda Hogan

NOVEL: Donley Watt

SCREENPLAY: Steve Barancik
Written by
apple valley reviewThis one made me smile out loud. Here's an excerpt from Megan Taylor's essay "The Lottery":
And my grandmother says, “The lottery’s the highest it’s ever been. I asked my hairdresser to pick up an extra ticket for me. And I know just what I’ll do if we win.”

[. . . ]

Grandma has wanted to win the lottery for as long as I can remember.

“What’s that?” I ask.

“I’ll give you the money to run an ad with tire prices so low that the competition won’t know what to do! They’ll be scratching their heads, saying, ‘Where did she get tires at those prices? How can she sell them so low?’ And customers will be coming in left and right! You’ll have to beat them off with a stick. It’ll be such fun.”

I’m excited then, too, thinking of pissing off the competition. Getting even. It’s not the high road, but it makes me smile just the same.

Read the rest and more from Taylor and others in the fall 2015 issue of Apple Valley Review online.

What Allegro Looks For

October 29, 2015
Written by
allegro headerKnowing what an editor is looking for in submisisons can also help readers understand what they will encounter on the pages (print or electronic) of a literary publication.

UK-based Allegro Poetry Magazine publishes online by founding editor and British poet, Sally Long, who explains to writers what she is looking for in submissions. "I aim to publish the best poetry in Allegro and so I have no preference for any particular form of poetry." That said, she did offer some qualities she looks for in a good "fit" for Allegro: poems that evoke place or time; strong characterizations of people-focused works; striking images; well-used language; well-crafted formal poetry - which Long notes she sees too little of and would welcome more; and poems that skillfully use rhyme and half-rhyme - also a form she would welcome more of.

Allegro publishes two themed issues per year, the latest from September is themed "Japanese," while the remainder of the issues during the year are open to general submissions.
Written by
American Life in Poetry: Column 552

Many of the poems that have survived for hundreds if not thousands of years perfectly capture a single vivid moment. There’s an entire season packed into this very short poem by Ed Ochester, from his recent book, Sugar Run Road. Ed Ochester lives in Pennsylvania.


Crows, crows, crows, crows
then the slow flapaway over the hill
and the dead oak is naked

We do not accept unsolicited submissions. American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2015 by Ed Ochester, “Fall,” from Sugar Run Road, (Autumn House Press, 2015). Poem reprinted by permission of Ed Ochester and the publisher. Introduction copyright © 2015 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006.
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Bringing literary frontiers and emerging voices to readers around the globe, New Zealand based Headland is a quarterly publication of literary short fiction and creative non-fiction available on Kindle.

JillianFounding Editors Liesl Nunns & Laura McNeur comment on their motivation for starting up a literary magazine, “We wanted to create a journal that gives voice to aspiring writers alongside established authors, offering a platform for first-time publication. New Zealand is home to remarkable literary talent, and Headland is a springboard for writers to explore and develop their potential, and showcase their early-career works.”

To support this focus on new writers, the editors offer this encouraging insight on their submissions page: “If we are umm-ing and aah-ing over whether to select your piece, it may just tip the balance in its favour if we know that we have the opportunity to introduce a new voice and, hopefully, make someone’s day.”

Choosing the name Headland, the editors meld both their local and global interests, “We wanted a name that invoked a very New Zealand sense of place and also looked outward to the rest of the world. For us, Headland not only does this, it touches on the limb writers go out on when they submit, on the experience readers have when lost in a good story, compelled to finish, and the place where the story lingers long after the last word is read."

Readers who come to the publication can already find great variety among the three issues of published authors. “We're very upfront about the fact that we publish what we love,” say the editors. “Readers can expect to find stories that they'll remember. Stories that take them places, and works that strike a chord in some way."

Some featured authors include Alex Reece Abbott, Michelle Elvy, Nod Ghosh, Heather McQuillan, Sian Robyns, Trish Harris, Rupa Maitra, Patrick Pink, Bonnie Etherington, Becca Joyce, Ignacio Bayardo Peña, and Jillian Sullivan [pictured]. The editors will soon be announcing their Best Story, and Best Story by an Unpublished Author for 2015. Headland will also feature a few contributors on their blog for each issue, exploring a different aspect of writing.

Headland accepts short literary fiction and creative non-fiction pieces between 2000-5000 words. The next deadline is Friday 11 December 2015. The editors plan to run another special issue featuring flash fiction alongside their regular content. Submissions are accepted by e-mail.

We welcome any/all Feedback.