Friday, May 10, 2013

49 Writers Weekly Roundup


It was wonderful to see such a great turnout for both Debra Gwartney events on Monday. Twenty writers attended her brown bag lunch seminar on Publishing Nonfiction, and thirty of us gathered for the evening talk on Pitfalls of the Memoir. Debra was generous of her time and knowledge during her brief stay in Anchorage, and we appreciate the strong interest from our local community. Thank you again to Alaska Public Media, who hosted both events, enabling us to include more people than our classroom would accommodate.

For those of you who wanted to be there but had other commitments, here’s a quick roundup of key learning from Publishing Nonfiction. The literary journal is a good place to start: publish there to get your name out; there’s also a good chance that agents will come to you. You already know this, but remember to get a good feel for what a journal publishes before submitting, so you can be sure your writing is a good fit. (And for a book, know where you fit in the market.) When you’re toiling away at a longer piece of work, publishing something in a shorter form can be a welcome change of pace and a good way to boost your energy.

The top three are The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and The Atlantic Monthly. After that, the New York Times: Modern Love, Lives, Sunday Op-Ed. Try other newspapers too, including your local paper. The New York Times loves personal and travel narrative. One writer was contacted by them after she posted a piece to Amazon. Other publications worth pursuing:
  • The Sun (great place to publish but take a long time to decide)
  • Salon (doesn’t pay much but fabulous exposure)
  • Slate (they have a newer spin-off, XX Factor, which focuses on women’s issues)
  • The Rumpus (doesn’t pay at all, but everyone wants to be part of it)
  • The Nervous Breakdown (a lot of Debra’s students have been published there)
  • Brain, Child (sophisticated parenting pieces)
The three publishing nonfiction exclusively are Creative Nonfiction, River Teeth, and Fourth Genre. Debra’s three “terrific” literary journals are Granta (read their unsolicited guidelines carefully), Paris Review, and Tin House. Other worthy journals for nonfiction writers include N+1, Agni, Threepenny Review, Ecotone, and Orion.

Remember too there are a variety of options in Alaska. Emily Wall recently dedicated a guest post to Alaska's Literary Journals. There's the internationally respected Alaska Quarterly Review, the more recent arrival Cirque, Permafrost in Fairbanks, and others.

Become familiar with small press websites. Small presses often put out a call for anthologies. Debra recommends Seal Press, Kore Press, Graywolf Press, Milkweed Editions, Torrey House Press, and Hawthorne Press. Seal Press often publishes travel anthologies. Torrey House likes books about the West.

Contests are another good way to get your work out there. It’s read in a smaller pool and helps you get noticed in a different way. Plan on entering four a year. Poets & Writers lists contests on their website and in their magazine. You can also find contests at NewPages.com.

Conferences sometimes offer scholarships for free tuition. They’re a great way to meet agents, editors, and publishers. (Ask Eowyn Ivey about Kachemak Bay Writers Conference!) The Tin House Summer Writers Workshops in Portland are excellent.

This week we took delivery of a box of journals donated by Nancy Zafris, an eclectic selection from Agni to Zyzzyva. We’ll keep them in the bookcase at the classroom where they’ll be available when you come to classes this fall. Thank you, Nancy!

Next week: some nuggets from Pitfalls of the Memoir.

It’s official – you can now Pick, Click, and Give to 49 Writers when filing for your 2014 PFD! This year, we were eligible to apply for the first time, and our application has been accepted. When the time comes, we hope you’ll help us spread the word to family and friends, and consider giving this way yourself. A growth in individual gifts will help us to expand our programs and events—it’s hard to say no to some opportunities, but we are building our capacity slowly.

Congratulations to the winners of our final WYAK contest of the year. First place went to Alex Campbell for “Aiti,” Tiana Beaman took second place for “Hula Girl.” Thank you to everyone who submitted poems for consideration. You can read the winning entries at our WYAK website. We are most grateful to judge Erin Coughlin Hollowell for taking on this responsibility and providing our two young writers with a written critique of their work. Thanks also go to Stefanie Tatalias, our WYAK Coordinator, for organizing the contest.

Poetry Parley, always a free poetry event, is coming up this Wednesday, May 15, 7pm, Out North, 3800 Debarr Rd, featuring local poet Gretchen Diemer and “marquee” poet Benjamin Alire Saenz. Readers still sought for Saenz’s poems.

Thursday, May 16, 6pm, the Alaska Humanities Forum will host Dan Bigley and Debra McKinney, co-authors of the new book Beyond the Bear, which tells the incredible story of how Bigley "learned to live and love again" after being blinded by a brown bear that mauled him while he was fishing at the Russian River in July 2013. The authors will read short excerpts, then take questions and sign copies of their book. Light fare and libations will be served. 

Tuesday, May 21, 7pm at Jitters in Eagle River, the Alaska Writers Guild hosts editor Rebecca Goodrich, who will talk about First Lines and Sentences and how they can make or break your manuscript. AWG members are invited to submit the first 250 words of their work for critique for only $10 ($15 for non-members).

Tuesday, May 28, 4pm, at the UAA Campus Bookstore, Craig Mishler presents his new book, The Blind Man and the Loon:" The Story of a Tale. According to the University of Nebraska Press, in this book, folklorist Mishler goes back to 1827, tracing the story's emergence across Greenland and North America in manuscripts, books, and in the visual arts and other media such as film music, and dance theater.

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