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Inheritance, the new book by Dennis Finocchiaro, details the life of his grandfather, Rosario “Charlie” Finocchiaro, from 1920s Philadelphia to World War II, all the way up through his retirement in Havertown. I sat down with Dennis to ask him a few questions about the upcoming memoir to learn everything from his process to what his family thinks of the new project.

Many people hear the stories from their grandparents, but not many take the time to actually put the stories down on paper. What made you decide to do it?

Well, it all started out as a graduate school project. I’ve always been a fiction writer but had to take a nonfiction class, which meant stepping out of my comfort zone (something I think everyone should do from time to time). I was having trouble coming up with something to write about when we had a family party and my grandfather told one of his famous stories. When he finished everyone was laughing and that was when the idea hit me. So I brought a camera over one day and recorded our conversation.

How did he feel about having a camera recording what he was saying? 

I thought he would feel awkward, but he acted like it was an audience. He was VERY comfortable talking in front of a camera. I was surprised.

What was the most fascinating thing you learned from this experience?

Probably some of the war stories. I never had any idea of what he’d been through. The most surprising was the story he told about an attack on a harbor and the huge explosions that took place when a tanker was hit. But I don’t want to give too much away.

Your story is written in less of a linear, chronological fashion, and more of a jump-around kind of way. Would you say this symbolizes the way we remember our own pasts? What was the inspiration behind writing in this way?

At first I tried doing it chronologically, but that ended up in the trash. It took a few tries before I figured out the best way to do it. I wrote it in the same way people tell stories. They jump around, and a story will sometimes trigger a totally unrelated story. And yes, it definitely is written in the way we remember our own histories.

Did you ever find it difficult to write so personally about someone so close to you?

Not at all. I guess as comfortable as he was in front of the camera, I was at the laptop. I asked permission on a few items that people said, of course, to make sure they didn’t mind.

I think the hard part was refraining from putting him up on a pedestal. I didn’t want him to sound like a saint, because he wasn’t. He had his negatives, just like anyone. As a matter of fact, in the first draft I turned in, the main comments were that it was too positive, too much of an “I love my grandfather” story. So I talked to a few people who would remember some of the negatives and added to it.

Has becoming so in depth with your grandfather’s past help you to understand your own life more? Have you discovered parallels?

Wow… that’s a tough question. His life was so different from what I’ve gone through. He was a contractor; I’m a professor and writer. He went to war, and we don’t really have wars that have that aura of importance like WWII, you know? But knowing his past really taught me a lot about him that I never would have known otherwise.

How do you think this story can inspire others?

I think it’s really important to sit down and get to know our elders. They are a major part of our history and everyone I talk to since the book came out says “I wish I’d done this with my grandparents.” And hell, I did it with one, and still regret not doing the same with all of them before it was too late. But if my dad and uncle learned things about him they didn’t know, then of course I think everyone should do something similar. Even if it isn’t with a camera, even if they just take them out for lunch, or tea, or whatever. Get to know them before it’s too late!

Finally, how has your family responded to the project?

They adore it. Part of the epilogue I wrote even has my uncle’s email that he wrote after reading it while he was writing my grandfather’s eulogy. As a matter of fact, the daughter of one of my grandfather’s cousins wrote my dad and said how amazing of an idea this was. Then she shared some of her own stories about her dad, so I guess it’s already inspiring some people.

Inheritance is a publication by WragsInk and is Dennis Finocchiaro’s third publication, following The Z Word and Capturing a Moment. The book can be purchased on Amazon. If you’re in the Philadelphia area, be sure to look for upcoming promotional appearances for this and other WragsInk publications.

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Yesterday, on the unseasonably warm April day in Philadelphia, I cleaned out my closets. Or, really, I cleaned the clothing racks that hold my wardrobe, since I don’t actually *have* closets (the downside of living in what used to be a warehouse). This is a relatively annual ritual, something I do around this time every year. Spring-cleaning, as they say. Out with the old and unworn (or worn too much), in with the new and fresh. As my past roommates can attest, I used to be terrible at this activity, clinging on to clothes well past their due date, ones that I hadn’t worn in months and wouldn’t wear for months, if ever again, just for the possibility that maybe (just maybe) there would be the off-chance that I’d wear it again. Someday. In the future. Assuming I’d still be the same size, that is. (Read: not happening.) In any case, I like to think in recent years I’ve gotten better. For instance, today I managed to rid myself of plenty of old clothes, being diligent and restrictive to what would constitute my new spring and summer wardrobe. It left me feeling freer, lighter, infinitely less cluttered. My bedroom itself looks like it just took a large breath, as if the life it once had was finally flowing through it again.

Of course, I’m not writing this to discuss my wardrobe. (A collective sigh of relief from the audience.) I’m writing because as I was de-cluttering and breathing new life into my apartment, I got to thinking about the current novel-length writing project that I’ve been working on since January and, it can be said, still have a ways to go on. It’s the one piece of writing that has consumed my thoughts for months. Sixty thousand words in, I’ve hit the proverbial wall. Though I’d say it’s a small one, small because I haven’t crashed into it headlong yet, small because it’s more of a turbulent bounce than a scrap-the-whole-project obstacle. It’s more of a mini hurdle. I won’t bore you with the specifics, as I assume if you’re reading this it means you’re taking a break from your own writing, or thinking about your own writing, or anxiously awaiting the time you can get back to your writing, etc. Suffice it to say, my issue has to do with chronology and timing and all that fun stuff that could, frustratingly enough, make or break the entire thing.

But as I was on my “out with the old” tirade, I had a thought. Perhaps what I’d needed all along with my wardrobe was a bit of perspective. A stronger voice to say, “No, Alisha, you won’t wear that green dress you’ve clung to since college. You know why? Because it no longer works for you. And it probably still has remnants of a 2009 keg party, for that matter.” A voice to argue down the notion to hold out hope for the day in which the green dress will finally “work” again. Because it won’t. It will just hang there, dying a slow death, unworn and fading, until I finally do give it away, frustrated that I hadn’t months before when I should have. 

Which brings me back to my story. I’ve written before about realizing when things no longer work and accepting the challenge of changing your story (small or drastically so). What I discovered today was that my piece needed was a bit of spring-cleaning. A slightly more awakened perspective. A change in my thought process. And with this new, revitalized sense of being, I answered my own question about what I should change in my story. It is, in the long run, a simple change, and one that will be easy to fix (thankfully), but is, as I realize it now, incredibly necessary.

So this is what I leave you with: like the clutter that we hang on to in our lives and in our apartments, such is the clutter that we keep with us in our writing. We may not realize it until the decision is made to rid of it, but afterwards we wonder why on earth we kept it for so long to begin with.

I propose a challenge. Take your story. Whatever isn’t working, whatever it is you’re fighting so hard to make right, instead of being witness to the words you’ve written slowly dying on the page, breathe a little life into your story by taking a chance. By this I mean, look at it differently and change what’s not working. With any luck, you’ll open up the doors to something completely new and exciting, something you wouldn’t have even considered a few weeks ago. As for the old stuff, unlike clothes (unless you have big closets, in which case I’m envious), you can always save it and come back to it some other time, though I think you’ll find you were right by cleaning it out in the first place.

As always, you can follow me @alishakathryn.

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The Greatest Love

Story Ever Told

(in My Opinion)

by Dennis Finocchiaro

Love stories come and go. Most anyone can say they cried reading The Notebook. And let’s face it, The Princess Bride is probably the actual greatest love story ever told, or we can at least agree to disagree. But whenever I think of true love, I think of a small segment of my favorite book of all time, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Of course, these days, everyone has heard of the book because it’s now a movie, or they’re just finding out the movie is based on a book as they read these words. Surprise! (This surprise is only for the misinformed, and I doubt that includes people who end up on this blog). But no, while this book is about the love between a mother and son and in no way romantic, a story within the story is the absolute purest form of love ever created.

I am writing about, of course, the fairy tale Oscar’s dad tells him, of The Sixth Borough.

In this tale, there was once a sixth borough of New York, an island that nobody remembers. Every year they had a big party, the climax being when a man famous for jumping would jump the small amount of water between NYC and this sixth borough. Once year, he finds he can’t make it across. And the next, he jumps and lands in deeper water. At first, the people think the logical: the jumped is getting old. But he insists he has not lost any of his jump (haha) and so they measure the distance only to find that the island is moving away from New York City.

And, of course, this doesn’t sound romantic at all, does it? The story continues past this celebration to two children, a boy and a girl, who are in love. The boy lives in the sixth borough and the girl across the small amount of water. They chat through cups on a string, which of course is absolutely adorable in and of itself. But as the island escapes the mainland, they have to keep adding to the line.

The string from his yo-yo.

The pull from her talking baby doll.

The list goes on. The two kids slowly destroy everything they love just so that they continue talking until, one day, they realize it’s going to end. The boy asks the girl to say “I love you” into her can and captures the words on his end, sealing the cup and placing it on a shelf so that, to this day, as the sixth borough has ended up in Antartica, “On a frozen shelf, in a closet frozen shut, is a can with a voice inside it.”

Why do I think this is the greatest love story of all time? Maybe I don’t, maybe I just absolutely adore it and couldn’t think of another story that gave me the same feeling as this one. But whenever I think of the sixth borough, I get chills. I even went to NYC once and took pictures that reminded me of the tale. Jonathan Safran Foer told a hell of a story in ELIC, but he also made up this fairy tale that made me fall in love with New York and the romantic side of the city. The purity of the love between these two children is described with the diction of a master, and hell, maybe I just have a soft spot for fairy tales.

But then again, there’s always those terrible moments in novels, and let’s face it, not everyone can write a good love story. Vonnegut, for instance, is without a doubt one of my favorite writers. But his stories tended to sway from romance, which was smart. He knew his genre and what worked with his stories; but one of his greatest unrecognized traits was that he avoided what he knew didn’t work. Brilliant. But not everyone is as intelligent as that; ask anyone who reads the Twilight books.

They are my example of romance that doesn’t work for me. And trust me, it’s not the teen angst aspect of the story, I eat that shit up when it’s well-written. But those books were just plain terrible. I know it’s become cliché to make fun of them, but the writing isn’t even any good. Many people ask me how I can love Harry Potter but hate Twilight, and that’s so simple: it’s the writing. J.K. Rowling is one hell of a writer. Her imagery creates moments in my mind out of things that are purely fiction. Like I know what a thestral is, right? But her words describe it and I imagine it. That’s what’s missing from all of the scenes, not just the love scenes, in the Twilight saga.

I can willingly admit I am a fan of a romantic novel. Nick Hornby has written a few that I love. Caprice Crane has, too. But they are artists, working words into stories that grab the reader and pull them in. Twilight just didn’t do that for me. I could never understand Bella’s love for a vampire, nor could I see the attraction. And trust me, I’ve even admittedly read books like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember (would anyone believe me if I claimed they were read for a class?), and as embarrassing as it is, I will admit that I fell in love with the characters. Jamie Sullivan from the latter was written with such a love of life and a purity that I couldn’t help but adore her.

That’s what was missing with Bella Swan and her boys. There was no real reason to care about them, to connect with them or to even want Bella to clearly be with either Jacob or Edward. Readers chose a side with no real reason. Or because they thought one actor was cuter than the other.

So there you have it; I admit, I enjoy a nice, mushy, well-written love story sometimes, but it has to have some literary merit. Is there anything wrong with that?

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Ahh, February. The month of looove. For some, it’s that special time when you curl up with the one you care about (or a book) and whisper sweet nothings to him or her (or it, a book), take him or her out to dinner (or it, the book, though I’ll say, it need not be a special occasion for me to take my book out to dinner). For others, it’s just another month in the long stretch of winter when we’re forced to plan our immediate futures and more importantly, spring shopping, around a groundhog. In some cases, it’s both. (Come onnn February, how can I possibly sit through an extra day of you this year?)

Whether you love it or you hate it, February holds that key day that has the ability to be somewhat fun, but mostly very annoying, all at the same time. You’ve guessed it: it’s Valentine’s Day. In honor of the special looove day, Den and I have teamed up to present something special to you. No, it’s not flowers, or chocolate, or lingerie. Though we thought about it.

Instead, we present to you our first-and-probably-last-ever-edition of: What It Takes To Write A Really Freakin’ Good Love Story (Or Scene), And How (Unfortunately) Possible It Is To Really Suck At It.

Check back Monday and Tuesday for Parts 1 and 2 of our series, as Den tackles the beautiful, sappy, mushy love, and I go in for, well, the other stuff.

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By Shawn Proctor

“I hate writing, I love having written.”
―Dorothy Parker

For many writers the thrill and pride of a finished work, refined and polished, motivates them. They feel pride in the accomplishment. Like Dorothy Parker, they are happiest looking at their body of published work.

Not me.

My stories divide into two categories: published and active. When a story has been committed to print part of me celebrates that it has been completed, part mourns its loss because I know what happens next. The piece goes out into the world to readers. It is not mine anymore. And other stories, ones I am still writing and editing, take its place. Like a friend who has moved far away, the story becomes less familiar over time until one day I no longer feel connected to it. The spark of inspiration vanishes. I can revisit the story, see its merits and flaws, but the experience is as a reader, not as a writer.

Active stories, like Anthology Philly’s “Heartwood,” excerpted from my unpublished novel The Sugarmaker’s Son, stay a part of my active imagination. I ponder them in quiet moments. I see reflections of their narrative arc when I read fiction or watch a movie. They are companions and friends.

My favorite moments as a writer come from the rush of finishing a first draft, the struggle of revision, and the craft of editing. Each stage presents a different challenge and reward. It’s the thrill of finding the just right detail or turn of phrase that keeps me writing. But I don’t hate “having written,” as Ms. Parker says. Publication ends my attachment to older stories. It clears space in my mind for the next short story, the next novel, the next character who will tiptoe close and begin to whisper.

Shawn Proctor is one of the authors from the upcoming book Anthology Philly. He can be followed on his blog and his twitter is @shawnproctor.

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Why I Love My Typewriter

Wragsthinks blogger Dennis Finocchiaro will be discussing his love of typewriters and why he thinks they’re making a resurgence. Here’s a little teaser video, a special news piece that ran on CBS last Sunday.

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After having just written my twenty-thousandth word in my novel, part of me feels like I should have a petite celebration. It is a time for celebration: last year at this time I couldn’t imagine writing this many words, let alone completing a one-hundred-thousand-word manuscript. Instead I’m stuck, still feeling the latent effects of my Writer’s Guilt Hangover. You see, this is my second attempt at a first novel. After having written nearly sixty thousand words in a first draft, I did something many seasoned writers and college professors tell you not to do: I shelved the thing. Allow me to explain.

If you’ve ever been through an M.F.A. course, or if you’ve talked to a self-righteous or inexperienced writer (or both embodied in one person, a phenomenon that is, unfortunately, not that rare) you’ll know that the last thing you should do is quit your novel, especially if you’re more than, say, 40 or 50k into it. A few months ago, I’d agree whole-heartedly. I’d have been one of the inexperienced self-righteous Master’s students spewing some kind of “Keep going! You can do it! If you quit you’ll never finish anything!” adage. Oh, how we grow.

I’ve now realized that saying that to a talented yet struggling writer can be more detrimental than helpful. (Or perhaps I just figured this out now while every other inexperienced/self-righteous/M.F.A student knew this already… we writers are a conniving bunch, aren’t we?) But let’s think about this. Truthfully, if you’re that far in to it, it does seem to only make sense to keep pushing through, fix whatever problems there are and at least finish the damn thing.

  But what about the instances when your baby turns into a behemoth without a plot and with too many characters? What about when the problems that you’ve known were there all along become irrevocable? Or even worse, what if you lose the passion you once had for it? After all, when you decide to write a novel, you’re doing it because you have something to say, right? There’s no “Oh, I have this half-assed idea that I’m only semi-interested in.” Of course not. There’s rarely a plan without passion. (If this is the case, you should probably question your career choice. Unless you’re an ex-politician or B-rated actor, I suppose.) There is, however, the far more common passion without a plan. And that’s what we, as writers, need to work through.

What I’ve realized with my writing style: I’m a character gal. I love my characters. I know everything about them. I think about them: what they would think in certain situations, how they would act, what they would feel, what they would say. The problem that occurs for me: I focus so much on my characters that I completely neglect a plot. In my story, because I had lost the plan (or, if I’m going to be completely honest with myself, only had a vague idea of a plan to begin with) I in turn began to lose the passion.

It didn’t happen all at once; in fact it was quite gradual. It’s almost like being in a relationship with one person while fantasizing about someone else; I found myself drawing up new characters and (for the first time) forming a plot that actually made sense, though it had nothing to do with my current one. I dismissed the stray thoughts and continued pushing forward with my original story, writing another thirty thousand words of dialogue, character portrayals, and even a few racy scenes in an effort to add spice to what was quickly becoming inconsequential dribble. It was to no avail, and did nothing more than add another limb to my story that didn’t really connect with anything else. Still though, in the back of mind all I could think of was what my group of writer friends would say. They’d been with me, reading and editing and giving feedback on this story for months. I knew they wouldn’t let me “quit.”

Then one day, I got over it. It kind of just happened. I hadn’t written anything for a few days, and what’s worse, I had turned apathetic towards what I’d created, having no idea where to go with it. So, I let my guilt go almost completely. But before I told anyone, I began writing. The first ten thousand came easily, and after that I knew I had more momentum than I’d ever had with the first story. Many of the characters from the original molded themselves into my new characters, but as it stands, the new characters couldn’t be as fully thought out without the first round of characters to draw from.

Finally, riding on the confidence of that early writing surge, I told my friends. I let them each know individually, nervously over explaining and over gesticulating in an effort to win their approval and avoid the disappointed faces and forced encouragement to “Keep going!” because “It’s good! You can fix the problems!” What I received from them in return was an overwhelming sigh of relief: they were just as pleased that I was moving on from the story as I was. One lovely but honest friend said, “Not to offend, but I think you came to the end of your rope with that one.” Which was exactly what I needed to hear. The next day I put my old story in its own folder, where one day I may return to it, and moved on with my new one.

One final thing, from one struggling writer to another: being a writer is not easy, as most of you already know. It is lonely, it is time-consuming, it is stressful. But the reality is, if you’ve resided yourself to being a writer, you already love it, and you don’t need me to remind you of that. I’m not saying to bow out at the first sign of trouble. If that were the case, no one would be published (I guess except for F. Scott and the many others who wrote while relatively wasted).

The point is to recognize when trouble is occurring, and assess the damage. Can you still fix it? More importantly, do you want to still fix it? Only you know the answer. Don’t let the guilt get to you, because this is your story. Would you rather complete something you don’t really like, or take a few more months (or years) to finish something you truly care about? My advice: don’t waste your time with a ship that has already sailed. Break up with it. Chances are, it won’t call to beg you back, and if your friends are any good at all, they’ll be pleased to see it gone, too. Remind yourself that you were never that happy when it was around anyway, and move on to the one that sends you bouquets of roses when you least expect it.

Alisha Ebling is a writer and blogger living in Philadelphia. You can read her blog at http://open.salon.com/blog/hettiejones and follow her @alishakathryn.

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or My Method on Being Published: Slow Drinking & Fast Women

By T. Fox Dunham

Dennis requested that I write an article about my success as an author, in support of our upcoming anthology. I am the author of the story, The Realm of Ever Dusk and Dawn, and I’m proud to be a part of this anthology with Philadelphia’s best authors.

In the previous fifteen months, over seventy of my short stories have been accepted for publication in international magazines, journals and anthologies in print, online and eBook form. One of the reasons for my success is that I adhere to professional protocol when submitting my manuscripts. Below, I share these techniques.

Alas, the sad truth is that the majority of editors do not read manuscripts to accept – they read to reject. Now don’t blame them. For many editors, this noble, literary pursuit to provide a forum for writing is a labor of love and not profit. Most editors must work a day job and have limited time to spend on the maintenance of a journal. This is why it’s even more important that authors respect and honor editors for their sacrifice and not waste their time and energy.

The larger the submission pile and the later the hour, the more critical the editor often becomes in removing work from his or her reading queue. However, there are still editors that maintain their patience, and I admire them for it. A journal that receives a couple hundred submissions a month means that there is less time and energy to review each submission; thus editors will often be quicker to reject. This is complicated when you have a review committee and a process that requires confirmation on the first steps towards entering those golden gates of acceptance. So, the more desirable the market because of pay rates and circulation, the more precise the author needs to be with respecting the individual guidelines and general market protocol.

An editor’s patience is further diminished by authors who don’t respect the guidelines, and the more popular the market, the more bad manuscripts they receive. On a bad day, an editor or reader can reject on the first transgression, even if it’s an innocent mistake. There’s an old term: The First Shall be the Last.

If you follow these suggestions, you will demonstrate that you are a professional author and you respect the market. That is the best way to be published. Because of too many inconsiderate submissions, markets are beginning a trend in declining simultaneous submissions and even charging reading fees to keep up with the overflow of work. This makes it harder on the rest of us. With the new industry trend for online submissions, it’s even easier for inconsiderate authors to just carpet bomb every journal or anthology listed under Horror on Duotrope, without respect or consideration for the market’s guidelines or editorial needs. By doing this, authors are just building a bad reputation for themselves and making it harder on the rest of us. I’ve seen markets shut down because of frustrated editors who deserve better. Rampant head noogies to anyone guilty of this unprofessional practice.

First and foremost, if you act professionally, follow standard and individual protocol for submissions and treat the market with respect, you will be seen and treated as a professional. This is the most important axiom an author can follow to be successfully published.

Read market’s previous publications to get an idea of their individual, editorial needs. This is the most important guideline for marketing and submitting. Beyond naming their intended genre and sub-genre, editors have a specific voice for their publication. This voice can only be found through actually reading the market. Now, I know it can get expensive to buy sample copies or subscriptions for every market, but try to read it best as you can. Often, markets will place sample work online for you to read or offer writer’s copies at a cheaper price.

Make sure your manuscript is formatted to the individual guidelines of the market. Every market has a set of listed guidelines. Most often they’re basically the same, based on standard manuscript format: 12pt serif font, double spaced, etc. Examples of the standard manuscript can be found online. However, there are often variations based on the needs and taste of the editors. Online markets may request variations, such as no indents and to apply hard returns between paragraphs. Study the guideline’s page on the website or in the print magazine to comply with all specified formatting. Double-check to make sure you’ve covered all points. Also, it is important to follow the particular methods for setting words in italics, bold or other effects in the text. Some markets have no issue, and you can set the text effect normally; other markets may request you underline words you wish to italicize or use some other means to set off the word. Not all markets use the same word processing software, so follow their instructions.

Here is a link to a guide for general industry format of a short story submission.

Be clear and brief in your cover letters. If possible, address the letter to the appropriate editor or editors, which can usually be found on the website under Masthead. List the title, word count and any other required information in the first paragraph. Write any additional information below that paragraph and keep it brief. Don’t summarize your story or try to sell it through your cover letter. Let your story speak for itself. List your previous publications and a brief bio, along with your required contact information. You’d be amazed at how many manuscripts are submitted without the proper contact information, not even a real name or address. If you’re using a byline, list it, but use your real name for all contact information. I sometimes will list my editorial decision for sending a particular story, based on stories I read while researching the market. This shows that you have respected the market. Editors often pass out cookies for that and sigh in relief.

Proof read your manuscript several times before submitting. It also helps to have friends proof read also. I am fortunate to have a few special ladies who read all my manuscripts for errors. They are vital to my work, as my proofing often suffers because of my fatigue from my cancer treatment. After a few proofs, read the story from the last paragraph up, thus preventing you from getting sucked into the story’s narrative where you glance over mistakes because your mind assumes what’s supposed to be there. Read aloud also, so you can hear how the story flows. You’re probably not going to find all your errors, but try to get most of them. An editor can quickly spot a manuscript that has not been proof read, and that shows a lack of consideration for their time. Some will have the patience to keep reading, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Submit through the appropriate medium listed on the website. Editors vary in their protocols for submissions. Most have online submission systems where you can upload a file then copy in a cover letter. Others ask for an email submission with the manuscript attached as a specific file type—doc, rtf—to the email. Or they ask that you copy the story into the email below the cover letter. The best way to be instantly rejected is to disregard the market’s individual submission protocol. Again, not all markets use the same publishing software, so it is important that you save the manuscript as the requested file type or copy it as per the system provided.

And now, the stomach clenching part. Patience. Once a submission is out, it’s time to wait. This is where my time fishing with my grandfather as a boy and my work in the herb gardens has provided me valuable training. Certain markets, especially annual or popular forums, can take up to over a year to respond. You may begin to worry that your submission was not received; fortunately, editors are polite enough to send a confirmation email. Online submission systems will often keep you informed as to the status of your manuscript. Be patient. Markets often list their estimated read and selection time. Once that time is up, it is appropriate for the author to send a query to the status of the manuscript. Whatever the time is, I usually add a third. So if they say three months for a response, I’ll often add one more month to the time then possibly query. With online networks such as Duotrope, you can review if your market has had any activity in responding to manuscripts, which is why more authors need to record their responses, even if they’re rejections. It helps us all.

Most markets allow you simultaneous submissions to help with long wait times. Always make sure to check if simultaneous submissions are allowed and if you need to list it as such in your cover letter. Recording your submissions through Duotrope will also notify you if the market does not accept simultaneous submissions. Try not to do more than three.

I know these seem pragmatic and straight forward, but you’d be amazed at how many authors ignore this protocol. Reputation in the writing industry goes first before a submission. In the online age, word of perfidy and lack of professionalism can spread quickly, thus blacklisting you. Following these steps shows respect and consideration to editors, who often volunteer their labor for a love of writing. They provide a forum where new authors can build their careers. If you act like a professional, you will be perceived as a professional. You will be published.

T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia PA. He’s published in over sixty international journals and anthologies and was a finalist in the Copper Nickel Annual Short Story Contest for his story, The Lady Comes in the Night. He’s a cancer survivor. He is currently finishing his first novel, The Adam & Eve Experiment. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. http://www.facebook.com/tfoxdunham

Also, check out Anthology Philly, which has one of T. Fox Dunham’s stories.

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Check out this cool video about some writer’s quirks. What are the odd things you do while writing? Tell us as a comment.

 

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By Matt Kelly

In the winter of 2010 I was living with a married couple I knew. I had no job and spent most of my time submitting resumes to various companies, watching movies and wasting time on the internet. It was in this bored digging that I decided to read Jim Henson’s Wikipedia page (as I sometimes do). While reading it I realized that the twenty year anniversary of his death was going to be that May.

I immediately called my friend Jonathan London. He runs a website called Geekscape.net where I had written a few articles previously. I told him about what I discovered and asked if I could please write a Eulogy for Jim Henson. Knowing that I was a huge Muppet fan he allowed me to write the article. I put all my time into writing this farewell letter to one of the most inspiring people.

The article was released on May 14th, 2010 and it did a little traffic but nothing out of the ordinary. Since it was something I was super proud of I decided to submit the article to IMDb. That Monday I woke up to go to work (obviously I eventually found a job) and found multiple posts on my facebook wall that simply said “Go on IMDb Right now!”. On their hit list I had been the top listed article. I checked tweetdeck and searched Jim Henson to find literally hundreds of people tweeting my article.

It was around this time I started to take my blog Pure Mattitude more seriously. I started focusing on writing more relatable stuff. A year later I wrote an article called 10 Fucked Up Movies to Play During A Party and I posted it on reddit.com. The next morning I saw that my blog had been viewed over 7,000 times in 24 hours and it said the traffic was coming from slashfilm.com. The following day Slashfilm submitted my article to IMDb.com and my views went as high as 18,000 views (still the highest traffic of anything I’ve ever written). A week later Slashfilm also promoted my article Horror Movies That Ruined Everyday Activities and that month IMDb promoted my articles It’s Suckie Being Duckie and What Your Favorite Muppet Says About You.

What was the secret to my success? How did I get a blog with only 32 subscribers to have 60,000 views? I could talk about social media. I could say that it’s just posting articles on facebook, twitter and sites like reddit. It wouldn’t be a lie, per say. That’s how the articles were first seen, but the honest advice and truth comes from a story I read in Rolling Stone Magazine a few years ago.

Rolling Stone did a special issue of the 100 greatest musicians of all time. For each artist a DIFFERENT artist did a write up on them. For the write up on the Beastie Boys, Run (of Run DMC) told a story of the first time he toured with the Beastie Boys. He told of the Beasties opening for Run DMC and Public Enemy in this nightclub in Alabama. Run had been convinced that these “three jewish white boys would get killed by all the brothers in the audience”, but instead was shocked at the fact that the whole audience loved them. He explained it as an example of “Real Respects Real”. The Beastie Boys weren’t white kids pretending to be Black, they were white kids being white and rapping about stuff like Beer and White Castle Burgers.

Audiences aren’t stupid. If you pretend to be someone you’re not the audience will know. For every article that succeeded there are 50 that did terribly. However, when I was talking about Muppets and horror movies that audience knew I was a legitimate fan and I quickly earned their respect. Real respects real.

Never give up and never allow negative responses bring you down. In the last year of podcasting I’ve only ever had one comment/review on my show and it was insanely negative. There was a point I wanted to just pack up and quit. I had to remember that it’s easier to criticize something than it is to praise it.

If you write what you know and constantly talk about things passions, you will always find success in blogging.

Matt Kelly writes for Geekscape and on his blog Pure Mattitude. He also runs the Saint Mort Show Podcast and tweets through his day. He’s also crazy awesome, just for the record.

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