Just want to share with our SUCKER fans and friends this beautiful review of volume 2 by Arianne St. Clare.
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Just want to share with our SUCKER fans and friends this beautiful review of volume 2 by Arianne St. Clare.
SUCKER LITERARY WILL JOIN Paper Lantern Lit, YARN, figment, Red 14 Films, SMITH PUBLICITY, Open book Publicity, The RoundTable Podcast at “SO YOU WANT TO BE A YA WRITER?” cocktail party at AWP in Boston. Join us!
Hi Folks!! Alyssa here. Sucker Literary has a new logo:
Thanksgiving Day, I get an email saying we need to update the logo, “like now”. Of course, I got right on it.
I love colors, so I knew the lolli had to pop a bit more and also be able to stand alone. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. Threw in the rainbow, replaced the background with pure white, and added Sucker Literary. Next we had to find the right font and the right placement. Should Sucker Literary be placed on the bottom? On the top? Across the lolli? On a diagonal? Options, Options. And than on the 7th try and the 7th day, the new Sucker Literary logo was born!!!!
While we get volume 2 of Sucker Literary together, I figured it was time to get a new look, (try) to establish a brand, if you will. Our signature lollipop is now incorporated into the new look. We are trying to work on a logo right now, too. For now, take a look-see at some of the ideas for our logo below…and look around at the site. We are, as always, a work-in-progress!
Below are some snapshots of the logo in progress….
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,
Today I am a guest blogger on YA writer and poet E. Kristin Anderson’s Blog. You should check it out!
Dear High School, Thanks for being so sucky. Love, H
As an adult, I thank God that I’m not one of those people who look back at high school and think those were the golden years. If I had peaked in high school, my writing life today sure would be different.
So thank you high school for sucking the big one.
The moment I stepped through those double doors and onto the worn but well waxed linoleum floors of MHS, the odd school smell of stale cigarettes mixed with scrambled eggs floating around me, inspiration in the form of humiliation began.
That first month of high school was particularly horrific; I lost my two bffs, my boyfriend, and the freshmen class president election, all by October 1. I might have been the most hated girl at MHS for the month of September 1989.
To read the rest go to E. Kristin Anderson’s blog.
We writers are very sensitive about…well, everything : ) But mostly, we are sensitive about our work. And that’s why when we give one another feedback, we need to choose the kindest approach.
I prefer a certain approach when giving feedback. This approach was further reinforced by Meg Kearney to me when I was a student at Solstice: When faced with having to criticize another writer’s work, choose kindness over harsh criticism. What this really boils down to is tone, use a kind tone when responding to a writer’s work.
I think that sometimes when we read a piece and are asked for feedback, our own mood is really the determining factor in our tone and approach. My advice is this: if you find yourself irritated with the writer’s work, take a breath and walk away before you compose your feedback; you might choose harshness as oppose to kindness.
Helpful Versus Hurtful
Recently I read a feedback sheet from one of the Sucker Staff Readers (don’t worry, I’m not naming names). Anyway, this feedback sheet was very useful, and I agreed with all of the commentary, including that, ultimately, we have to reject the piece. What I made me pause while reading was the tone of some of the criticism.
For me, there is a helpful way to tell someone their piece isn’t very good, and then there’s a way that will just result in a writer getting defensive, which means they won’t “hear” the feedback.
It’s About The Delivery
While I think it’s helpful to tell a writer that their piece, well, bored me, I don’t think it’s helpful to add insult to injury in the form of an added metaphor or hyperbole: “Your story bored me out of my mind…The story was so long winded, I prayed for the end to come soon.” Or, “this story is SO pointless” and “the characters were SO poorly developed, that I actually hated them”. Other cringe-worthy comments I’ve seen are: “The writing in this story is VERY corny and VERY lazy.”
There’s nothing wrong with any of the above criticism…except the tone is kind of mean. The very’s and so’s in all caps could be interpreted as yelling, so this writer might feel reprimanded rather than constructively criticized. The use of the phrases “your story bored me out of my mind” and “I prayed for the end to come soon” are borderline cruel. : ( A better way to say the same thing is: “I didn’t find myself turning the pages quickly while reading. Some of the paragraphs of description seemed too long, and I wanted to get to the action faster.”
Doesn’t that sound nicer? Isn’t that more helpful?
Antidote: BE SPECIFIC (and, yes, I’m yelling : )
Being specific in your feedback actually can change the tone from harsh to helpful because you are providing the writer with concrete evidence to support your opinion. If you just say that the piece was “filled with corny language and lazy writing”, the writer will probably take that to mean the whole thing plain sucks. If you tell the writer what parts were corny or even just provide an example of the corny writing, than they might just feel empowered to fix the problem: “The dialogue was corny because it used words like “golly” and “gee whiz”. Likewise, if you say the writing is lazy, point out exactly what parts were lazy, and, furthermore, explain what lazy means: Do you mean there’s an over use of certain words? That the writer chooses to “tell” rather than “show”? Does the writing have too much clichéd language or need more careful and exact word choice?
Bottom line, when you give feedback, be specific and point to the writing to support your comments, that way your commentary comes across as based on evidence in the writing and not a more subjective place…like your mood.
Encourage Rather Than Discourage
Ultimately when you read someone’s work and provide criticism, you want to encourage rather than discourage. Tone is what really makes the difference with this; constructive tone rather than destructive tone is crucial.
Our staff of readers are doing the very best they can to be kind and encouraging to our submitters, but sometimes I think we all forget or don’t notice our tone…Tone is subtle but super important in any form of communication and especially in writing. We don’t have inflection of voice or facial expressions to assist us in conveying our intended tone, so you have to choose your words very, VERY carefully. : )
*We all at Sucker are trying our best to provide submitters with constructive feedback, and we appreciate your patience with us as we respond to your work. Responses to submissions will begin after May 1st.
Like most of you, my time is limited by the many responsibilities in my life. .. I have been squeezing in moments for SUCKER…Yesterday, I spent an hour trying to get a photo of me with a sucker lollypop so I can include it in the magazine. And then the other day after work, I sped off to Purgatory chasm to a get a shot for one of the stories…the road was closed, but I knew I had to get the photo. So I parked and I ran to edge of the cliff and there was a man there, and I thought I was going to get abducted! But I had to get the photo! In 4.5 seconds, I got 100 photos…and then I raced to pick my kids up from school…I couldn’t sleep that night knowing I did not get the best shot and thinking of the next story I can match a photo to…
This has been a great opportunity for me. I get to photograph, which has become a passion in my life, a side a me that I haven’t had a chance to explore in the last nine years…
I’m having fun. When Hannah came to me with this idea, I was shocked and surprised. I had no idea she had been brewing this in that head of hers, but I knew if anyone could do this, Hannah could and I was thrilled when she suggested I come along for the ride.
As we have said before in blog posts, we value being transparent to the writers who submit to us. We told you awhile back what we are looking for in submissions. Now, we want you to know why and how we accept or reject your work.
Not too long ago I was in the thick of a very long journey–trying to get an agent. I received a total of about 50 rejections in the past year (and in all the years total of my “career” as a writer, I’ve received hundreds). Many of these rejections were lovely in that the rejector spoke quite highly of my writing. However, I usually walked away scratching my head and asking, “Okay…you like my work. But you rejected me. And in the letter there’s nothing, well, negative. Nothing about the WHY of it all. Was it sale-ability? Was it subject matter?”
So when I created SUCKER, I vowed to be as forthright as possible in my rejections. I vowed this because I realized that in my own journey, I would get a rejection and feel powerless, hopeless because there wasn’t anything to work off of. So as I developed SUCKER, I thought I’m no longer powerless if I make the conscious choice to be the change I want to be. So maybe I can’t receive a rejection that is informative…But maybe I can give one.
Side bar: I got myself a YES recently. : ) It took years and years of hard work and sacrifice, and it will now require even more of that. So when I think about my entire journey into the world of publishing–as both writer and editor–I realize that the easiest part, the effortless, feel-good part is that now I get to offer writers something to work off of when they receive that “no”. I get to offer a possibility. When you offer feedback, you offer hope, and that’s all a writer needs.
Below is the criteria sheet that our SUCKER staff readers use when they receive a submission. They do not make the final decision about stories–I read their thoughts and then take a look at the piece myself for the final decision.
CRITERIA FOR ACCEPTING OR MENTORING SUBMISSIONS
Definitions to know:
1. YA Fiction=stories which feature a protagonist that is 14-21 and are told from that perspective–not an adult looking back.
2. Showing versus telling= TELLING: “She went to Starbucks and told the barista off and then went home and sat in her room thinking about how sad she was.” SHOWING: “Fuck you,” Stacey told the crooked looking Barista behind the register. “What the hell do you know, you asswipe?” Then she grabbed her coffee and stalked off, forgetting to stop at the condiment bar and get her sugar. She ran out of the coffee shop and almost tripped as she approached her car, tears flooding her face…
*Showing=action, dialogue, movement. Telling=none of those three things. Notice “went” versus “ran”. You see more in showing than you do in telling.
Directions: Please answer “yes” or “no” to these questions and add comments to support. Cut and paste examples from the story with page numbers if necessary.
TITLE OF THIS PIECE IS:
10. Is there an edge to this piece (maybe the voice is gritty or rough, maybe the subjects dealt with are sex, sexuality, drugs, imperfect relationships, etc.)?
11. ULTIMATELY, DO YOU THINK WE SHOULD:
*Your response is…..and you feel this way because….