update to the chapbook update

Motivated by writing this post yesterday, I started searching for more opportunities to submit my chapbook for publication. After not finding any contests currently available – I could find lots for collections, but not chapbooks – I started looking through the Poets & Writers database of small presses that publish poetry.

I was looking for presses that are currently open for unsolicited chapbook manuscripts, but had to wade through broken links, the almost inevitable changes in schedules due to COVID, and the unfortunate number of presses that seem to have disappeared since they had listed with Poets & Writers two to three years ago.

I did manage to find what seemed to be a good match. The database said they accepted unsolicited manuscripts from September through December, but, when I visited the press’s site, I found out that they had moved up their open reading to the summer and were closing to submissions September 6. So, as it was September 5th, I stopped searching and got to work on the submission.

Given that I had the manuscript in my google docs, you might think that it would be relatively quick and easy to get the submission in, but it actually took a couple of hours. The press preferred a .docx in 5.5×8.5 inch format. I admit that I don’t know Word as well as google docs. I got the page format changed relatively easily, but struggled a bit to get the margins the proper size. I usually write short to medium length lines, but there were some lines long enough that they didn’t fit with the smaller pages. In some instances, I wound up changing my lineations. For the handful of multi-page poems, I had to be mindful of the page breaks to make sure that they weren’t falling in awkward places. I was grateful that there is an easy way to update the table of contents, as it changed considerably.

In the end, I was able to complete the submission yesterday, so, at least, I didn’t send on the very last day! It took a while, but I learned some new Word skills.

And the next time some press wants a 5.5×8.5 inch format, I’ll be ready.

chapbook update

This spring, I entered my chapbook manuscript in eight contests. So far, I’ve received five rejections, although I was a semi-finalist in one of them, which is encouraging, even though it is still a rejection. I expect to hear back from the other three sometime this month or next.

I did another round of revisions and have entered this newest version to one (knowingly virtually impossible to be accepted by) press. I have two other contests in mind, but should probably get myself motivated to search for others.

As long as we are on the topic of things I should do, I should also try to do some journal submissions. While I have made some strides in improving my poetry, I am still a neophyte when it comes to the world of publishing. Trying to choose among hundreds of journals which are most likely to consider the kind of poetry I write is perplexing. Sometimes, it’s easy to figure out where not to send something, such as the contest that wanted you to prove you had read all their requirements by quoting your favorite rap lyric in the cover letter – and I don’t know any rap lyrics. Most often, you read a sampler from the journal and try to guess if they might like your work. Because there are usually reading fees involved, it helps to try to figure out which journals are most likely to be interested. With so much else going on, I have trouble getting myself motivated to slog through lists and databases and spend time following all the different rules for submission, knowing that then you are looking at waiting periods of various lengths and most likely a bunch of rejection emails.

Still, if you want to be published…

Time to get to work.

chapbook update

In a too-rare burst of energy in the late-winter/early spring, I finished, workshopped, edited, and submitted to contests an expanded version of the chapbook that had been a finalist in a 2017/18 contest with QuillsEdge Press. By the way, part of being a finalist was inclusion in an anthology, IN TRANSITION, which was published in conjunction with the winning chapbook, Skin Gin, which is available here.

The rejections from that batch of submissions have started to roll in. I’ve received two so far, although I did make semi-finalist in the CutBank/University of Montana contest. While being named a finalist or semi-finalist is still a loss in real terms, it is encouraging to know that your entry has been well-received by some part of the reading team. I have six contests from which I am awaiting notification, but, the odds are that they will be rejections, so I am gearing up for another batch of submissions.

A dear and generous poet-friend recently did a close reading of the manuscript and I have done another round of revisions. There is one poem that has changed significantly enough that I’m workshopping it with my local poetry circle. After those revisions, I’ll be looking for more contests and open reading periods for the next batch of submissions.

Back when I was starting to think about the possibility of publishing a book, I set the age of sixty as a goal. I will turn sixty in October, so I’m definitely not going to have a book in print by my sixtieth birthday.

For now, I’ll hold out hope for the book while I’m sixty, although maybe I should make the mental move to in my sixties, so there is less chance of being disappointed.

If I do get an acceptance, you can read all about it here, although it’s possible that you may hear my excited screams first!

Hair – and a poem – and a prompt

One of the pandemic topics that has gotten a surprising amount of media time here in the United States is what people are doing with their hair without having access to hair salons. Celebrities and politicians face scrutiny if they appear well-coiffed. Did they break the rules and call in a professional? Are they sheltering in place with someone who can manage to trim hair? Did they manage to give themselves a haircut? Are they wearing a stylish headband only to keep their bangs from falling into their eyes?

There are also a lot of stories of hairdressers delivering hair color to clients and giving them instructions on how to apply it – from at least six feet (two meters) away, of course.

Some people, though, are letting their hair grow naturally, revealing their hair color which they themselves may not have seen in decades.

Maybe a few will embrace the natural look. That has always been my choice.

Back in 2016, Silver Birch Press was doing a series called “My Mane Memories” with poets submitting work about their hair. One of the poems they chose was mine: “Crowning Glory” which I will also copy below.

Crowning Glory
by Joanne Corey

“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory…” Proverbs 16:31*

Friends recognize me
in a crowded theater
down the street
across the restaurant
among the congregation

Strangers comment
how beautiful
how they wish
theirs looked the same

I smile
remember the first silver
that appeared
among the brown
before I was in high school
multiplied after my daughters were born
until at fifty just a bit
of brown was left

Then I let it grow
past my shoulders
down my back
in silver waves
finally

*Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

By the way, Silver Birch Press is offering a free kindle version of their May poetry anthology from May first through fifth. Details here:  https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/free-kindle-version-of-may-poetry-anthology-5-1-5-5-2020/

In this time of pandemic, they have also revived their themed series on their blog. Right now, they are soliciting poems/short prose on wearing a mask:  https://silverbirchpress.wordpress.com/2020/05/01/call-for-submissions-wearing-a-mask-poetry-prose-series/

Welcome back, Silver Birch Press!

 

 

JC’s Confessions #7

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

Poets are supposed to submit work to journals or publishers on a consistent basis. I confess that I have not been doing this. Not even close. Other than a few stabs at Rattle’s Poets Respond series, which only takes submissions written within the last week on news items and is a very, very, very long-shot, I have only done one submission this year, which I did because a poet-friend asked me to do. (I am not counting poems published in Binghamton Poetry Project anthologies because they are not a competitive venue.)

Given how complicated these last months have been, I suppose it is understandable that I haven’t been submitting for publication. I confess that I find the process of figuring out to whom to submit which poem daunting and incredibly time-consuming. I get nervous about the formatting requirements, which never seem to be the same among different publications. I also need to be in a mindset that can take a lot of rejection, because the vast majority of submissions will be rejected.

The result of all this is that it is even more difficult than before to get motivated to work on submissions. Not publishing also erodes my already fragile sense that I am a poet – or, at least, a poet good enough to be published.

Which makes it harder to get motivated to submit and adds to my lack of confidence, and so on and so on…

Later in the fall, I may/will have more time to devote to writing and poetry. Will I be able to get my act together to do submissions?

I don’t know.

Stay tuned.

the demise of More

I was perturbed a couple of months ago to receive a copy of Everyday with Rachel Ray when I had been expecting More magazine. There was a letter enclosed, saying that More had ceased publishing and that my subscription had been transferred.

I was not amused.

I didn’t feel that Rachel Ray was a a good substitute, so I contacted the publisher to cancel it, but the larger upset was the loss of More.

More was designed for middle-aged women, featuring articles and interviews on more serious topics than most similar magazines. While there were also pieces on fashion, they acknowledged that women in their forties, fifties, and sixties should be themselves, and not try to emulate the look of someone in their twenties or thirties.

It was refreshing.

Maybe I cursed it, though.

I had submitted a personal essay to them which I had submitted to several other magazines over the course of years. I think More makes the fourth magazine to which I submitted it that stopped publishing, three of them before they officially rejected my manuscript.

Perhaps, someday, I’ll give up and post my essay here, instead.

At least, I have control over the content – and possible demise – of Top of JC’s Mind.

News from submissions

On Monday, I posted about putting in my first poetry submissions of 2016 and promised that you would be among the first to know if I got an acceptance.

I am pleased to announce that Silver Birch Press has accepted my poem “Crowning Glory” as part of their upcoming “My Mane Memories” series.

Poet-friends, submissions are open through Feb. 29. The call for submissions is here. Unlike many publishers, Silver Birch Press accepts previously published work. Short prose (up to 300 words) is also part of the series.

I will post the link here at Top of JC’s Mind when my poem appears. You’ll also be treated to a new photo featuring my silver mane!

First poetry submissions of the year

I managed to get my act together to do two poetry submissions today, my first of 2016. I have had a poem published this year, though, which you can find here.

I submitted my poem “Crowning Glory” to Silver Birch Press in response to their call for submissions for the “My Mane Memories” series.  Silver Birch is looking for poetry and short prose pieces about your hair. It was a lot of fun to write! Submissions are open through the end of February, so there is time to participate if you like.

I also submitted four poems to The Tishman Review. I had submitted to them last year and received positive feedback, although not an acceptance. They encouraged me to submit again and I finally have. They read blind, though, so they won’t know that I have submitted again until they have decided whether or not to accept. I’m hoping to have chosen the best matches for their editorial preferences. Unlike most of the journals to which I choose to submit, Tishman has a fee to submit, $3 for 90 day response per set of 3-4 poems, or $6 for a two-week response. However, if they accept your work, you do get paid. I’m figuring that if I do ever get paid, I can consider myself a professional poet, instead of just a published one. 😉

So the wait is on. If I get an acceptance, you will be among the first to know!

Publication Party!

Yesterday, Sappho’s Circle, a newly formed local women’s poetry workshop, had our first publication party. What this means is that members gathered with laptops – and snacks – to work on submitting our poems to publications.

Our leader Heather has access to lots of great resources to help us choose among the hundreds of venues available. She also has lots of experience, having been published in many different journals over the years. She has even been nominated for a Pushcart Prize!

I decided to send a submission to Eunoia Review which publishes two pieces (poems, fiction, creative non-fiction) online daily. Bonus: I am now following them on WordPress, so I will get a daily digest from them.

This submission was a bit different from the type I usually do. It was high-volume – ten poems in one submission; the most I had ever submitted at once was five. You could submit both unpublished and previously published work.  You were not allowed, though, to submit anything that was under consideration elsewhere. Usually, that would be a non-starter for me, who appreciates the flexibility of simultaneous submissions, but the timing was right as I had very little that was still out for consideration. Eunoia Review also makes up for the stricture with an incredibly rapid turnaround time, usually under 24 hours!

So I spent the bulk of the session yesterday assembling ten poems to submit, starting with the six I had prepared in anticipation of the publication party and adding four others, three of which were previously published. I hit send just a few minutes before we wrapped up the party at 4:00.

By evening, I had an answer!  I’m pleased to announce that Eunoia Review will be publishing my poem “The Last Night” sometime in early January, 2016. There will no doubt be an excited post here at Top of JC’s Mind with the link when it becomes available!

Now, I have lots of thank yous to send out. First, to Ian of Eunoia Review for reading my submission and accepting “The Last Night.” To my poet friends at Binghamton Poetry Project, Sappho’s Circle, and Bunn Hill Poets, all of whom were a huge help in revisions of this poem, which has gone through more drafts than any other poem I have ever written. And a huge THANK YOU to Heather for her support and for helping me to find a good home for “The Last Night.”

I urge everyone to check out Eunoia Review and follow them. There’s so much great stuff there to read, with more added daily. I’m so honored that I will be part of it!

an encouraging rejection

When I was in Hawai’i, I spent a considerable amount of time searching for literary journals that might publish my work and choosing, formatting, and submitting poems to them.

Some of you may have seen my recent excited, squealing post over an acceptance that came from those submissions and my crazed rush to withdraw the three accepted poems from other journals to which they had been submitted.

I am nearly always submitting to journals that allow simultaneous submissions to avoid having to wait months to find out an editor has rejected a poem before being free to send it elsewhere, but the protocol is to promptly withdraw a poem from other journals if it is accepted.

Most of the time, I submit to journals that don’t charge reading fees, but I did submit a set of four poems to a journal that does charge a reading fee and offers personal, expedited feedback for a slightly higher fee, which I decided to do, as I haven’t had much experience in hearing criticism from an editor’s point of view. On the bright side, this journal also pays cash for poems they accept, which is somewhat unusual. It’s more common not to be paid or to be given a copy or copies of the journal, if it is print rather than electronic.

I sent en email over the weekend withdrawing the accepted poems and today (Tuesday) got feedback from that journal’s editor, who obviously had not seen my withdrawal notice. Under the circumstances, I’m grateful that she didn’t accept any of the poems! She did give very specific and helpful criticism and was very encouraging about my submitting to their journal in the future.

Her criticism of the poem in which she was most interested  – and which she invited me to revise and re-submit directly to her for consideration, which I can’t do because it is one of the ones that will be published by Wilderness House Literary Review this fall – was actually addressed in an earlier draft. I need to talk to some of my poet friends and see if it would be too forward of me to send the earlier draft to her to see if it addresses her criticism adequately. It’s dicey because I can’t offer it to her for consideration anymore.

Another way in which this journal is different is that they read blind, meaning that the poems are submitted without any reference to the author. For a new poet like me, it saves me from an editor seeing my file and saying “Who the heck is this?” So to receive encouragement to send more of my work was very validating, knowing that the editor didn’t know whether or not I was someone who published regularly or had a writing degree. She didn’t think I was a rank amateur.

When you get a typical “thank you but your work does not fit our needs at the present time,” you wonder if maybe the editor is rolling his eyes and thinking you are totally out of your depth.

But, at least today, an encouraging rejection is a confidence booster.