FIRST, A THANK YOU
First, an enormous suckerlicious “thank you” to the best staff of readers an editor could ask for. Open Door Day readers included: Joey Lee (special consultant to Sucker), Miranda Cain (copy editor/reader), Molly Cavanaugh (copy editor/reader), Kathleen Ingraham (editorial assistant), Susan Zall (reader), Heather Talty (reader), and Shannon Alexander (reader). These folks are talented writers in their own right and exquisitely insightful critical readers. Without their responses to the stories, I would never have had the courage to listen to my inner voice that cried YAY or NAY to a piece. Validation from them was priceless. Thank you all a million times over.
Also, thank you to the writers who submitted to this Open Door Day : ) I know how difficult it is to put yourself out there (over and over sometimes) and I just want to say, keep doing it.
SECOND, WHO WE ARE ACCEPTING
We had close to 40 submissions and 2 have been accepted. Our process was intense over the last few weeks. The staff and l read all of the submissions, and instead of filling out feedback sheets as we do for our regular submission period, the staff had to respond to 3 critique questions about character development, plot, and voice. If they LOVED a piece, they had to give their quick pitch why we should publish it.
After receiving the responses, I put the submissions into piles of YAY and NAY.
Initially, after collecting everyone’s responses, the pile of YAYs was made up of 10 pieces. The problem I found was that many of the YAYs had bits, parts, or sections that were fantastic or had concept or ideas that were unusual or edgy/compelling, but the entire piece didn’t necessarily come together in a satisfying way for me. For open door day, I didn’t want to accept stories that would need any revisions other than grammar or formatting. So when I looked at the pile of ten, I had to take out any that required content (plot or character development) tweaks, even if those tweaks were relatively minor.
I don’t know about my staff readers, but sometimes I think I initially YAY-ed a piece that really wasn’t a full on YAY because, in comparison to other pieces, it was great, but when I looked at it individually, it wasn’t quite there yet. Quite a few pieces just didn’t feel self-contained. We accept excerpts, but they must be totally self-contained, and that can be a challenge for any writer.
We are accepting The Missing Ingredient by Paul Heinz and Do You Remember Fred by Kelly Samuels. Both are stories that I read straight through, without pause. Both stayed with in that satisfying way a great read can. Both have voice and style…I could go on and on. Congrats to Paul and Kelly for making it into volume two.
THIRD, WHY THIS IS VERY, VERY HARD FOR ME
I have found that this whole literary enterprise is a lot harder than I thought it would be…not the reading or mentoring, not the getting a staff together that is talented and strong… No, the hard part is the same hard part that agents and publishers face finding pieces that are gems…not almost-gems but already-gems. Couple that with my absolute terror about having to reject someone …and I kind of have little break downs before I send out the acceptance and rejection letters.
‘CAUSE I MAKE THE RULES, I CAN BREAK THEM
For several reasons…I’m going to mentor a few folks from this open door round. I’ve requested 4 of the submitters to mentor with us for volume three. Those writers’ stories stayed with us after we read them, but there were parts that needed some further fine-tuning, and I really hate saying no when I’m truly on the fence.
Also, two other writers submitted great work, but their pieces were excerpts of novels that didn’t strike me as stand-alone. I’m inviting those two folks to submit another self-contained piece for a round of mentoring (if needed) for volume three.
I believe in SUCKER….it feeds my passion for writing and reading YA….it really goes back to the vision I had of a literary enterprise/literary anthology/magazine that would focus on my kind of YA…grit and humor and irony and voice and style and risk…authentic to the teenage experience. Until I have reason to stop, no matter the challenges of time and space, SUCKER LIVES!!!!
Volume 3 submissions will open on Feb 1. Please, please send us your most polished and sparkly work.
Peace and lollies,