Alison Turner, one of our associate editors since the beginning, is heading a special section of prose titled “Invisible Labor.” This section will have its own category on Submittable for submissions and will be open only during the month of May.
“Despite flares of popularity in shows like Dirty Jobs (which, full disclosure, I have never seen), many of us couldn’t name the job titles of half of the work necessary to keep our society running, let alone what it might be like to do that work. How does the invisibility of labor occurring all around us affect how we view the world? This special section seeks prose that makes visible the work that is often overlooked. Please submit flash fiction, short stories, creative nonfiction, and hybrid pieces up to 4,000 words. Whether it’s odd (as in, unusual) jobs, secret or illicit jobs, jobs done in the dead of night, work performed by those whom society overlooks, labor that dominant voices do not perceive as work or… you tell us what we’re missing and why it matters.
Submissions open in May only in honor of International Workers’ Day and will be limited to 100. (Writing need not be politically affiliated, inspired, or directed, despite political histories of May Day). Submissions may re-open upon editor’s discretion.
Alison Turner was born in the mountains of Colorado, where she learned to spend large amounts of time outside. She has an MFA in fiction from Bennington College and is a PhD candidate in Literary Studies at the University of Denver. When she travels, she insists on visiting public libraries.
DW McKinney has taken over as the Creative Nonfiction Editor! She has been helping us as an associate editor over the past year.
“Submissions can be intellectual, humorous, personal, or anything else you can imagine, but they must be well-crafted beyond the first draft. I want to be knocked over by different perspectives on the usual topics, to be taught something new, and left thinking about your nonfiction for days afterward. But make every word count.”
DW McKinney is a roaming Californian who now lives in Nevada. She is the 2018 Hellebore Scholarship Award Honoree in Creative Nonfiction for her essay “Bitter Grief.” Her essays have appeared in Stoneboat, TAYO Literary Magazine, Cagibi, The Hellebore, and elsewhere. She has bylines in HelloGiggles and Elite Daily. DW also holds degrees in Biology and Anthropology and has previously taught English as a Second Language.
Emily Huso will be spearheading the Fiction department! Emily has been an assistant editor here for a few years now. This means she is in charge of all regular fiction submissions and will be developing her own section of Fiction.
Emily Huso received her BA in English at Walla Walla University and her MA in English with a creative writing emphasis at California State University, Chico, where she currently teaches a section of Beginning Creative Writing. Starting in Fall 2019, she will study fiction in the MFA program at University of Washington, Seattle. When she is not reading, writing, or thinking about reading and writing, Emily enjoys spending time with her family and fiancé, soaking up the California sunshine, and beachcombing for shells to add to her collection.
Jennifer Porter, the prose editor from the beginning, will be editing the Tillie Olsen Short Story Award section, choosing which twenty semi-finalists to send to the final judge, Valerie Fioravanti, and choosing from all entries any she wishes to publish and being the hands-off managing editor for all these talented women who’ve stepped up to the plate.
Congratulations to Grace Singh Smith! Her short story “Oshini” is one of the Best of the Net winning short stories for 2018. Head over to Best of the Net Anthology 2018 to read this fabulous story.
The Tishman Review is pleased to announce Valerie Fioravanti as the final judge of the 2019 Tillie Olsen Short Story Award. Fioravanti won the inaugural TOSSA contest as judged by the esteemed author Alice Mattison.
Valerie Fioravanti is the author of the linked collection of Brooklyn stories Garbage Night at the Opera from BkMk Press, which won the Chandra Prize for Short Fiction. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in many literary journals, including North American Review, Cimarron Review, and Hunger Mountain. Her work has received eight Pushcart Prize nominations and a Fulbright Fellowship to Italy. A New York City native, she lives in Sacramento, where she teaches workshops and coaches writers privately. Tillie Olsen is one of her favorite writers.
Tillie Olsen’s iconic story “I Stand Here Ironing” ends with, “So all that is in her will not bloom, but in how many does it? There is still enough left to live by. Only help her to know—help make it so there is cause for her to know—that she is more than this dress on the ironing board, helpless before the iron.” There are moments when we all feel helpless before the iron—and whether that state is transitory, entrenched, or epiphanic—it’s rich storytelling soil. Let go of social media’s rosy gloss and reveal the complexity of imperfect, workaday circumstances. Show me the beauty in faded blooms or the gentle moments that grace hardscrabble lives. ~Valerie Fioravanti
It’s that time of year again — time to announce our nominees for the annual Pushcart Prize. Our announcement is coming a bit late this year, as the dust is still settling on our website renovation. However, we are thrilled to have a clean, elegant new space to showcase our artists and their incredible work.
Each year, our contributors astonish us with writing we just want to share with everyone we meet. This past publication year was no exception. Keep reading to meet our Pushcart Prize nominees!
Jeremy Schnotala has an MFA in creative writing from Western Michigan University. He lives with his husband in Grand Rapids, MI where he has taught English and creative writing and directed theater in the public schools for twenty-five years. He was shortlisted last year for contests at Writers@Work, Woven Tale Press, New Rivers Press, and The Masters Review, and recently won the Saints and Sinners 2018 Literary Festival fiction contest and The Tishman Review 2018 Tillie Olsen Short Story Award. Other recent work can be seen in Temenos Literary Journal, Beecher’s Magazine, Chagrin River Review, SHANTIH Journal, and others. He has forthcoming work in New Rivers Press and New Ohio Review. More information at schnotala.com.
Melanie Pierce recently graduated with an MFA in Creative Writing at Stony Brook University, where she taught undergraduate creative writing and was Assistant Editor for TSR: The Southampton Review. Her fiction has appeared in The Tishman Review, The Southampton Review, and Newtown Literary, and she has been a resident at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. After stints living in Taiwan and New York City, she relocated to Kansas City. She is at work on a novel.
Eric Maroney is the author of two books of non-fiction, Religious Syncretism (2006), Canterbury Press and The Other Zions (2010), Roman & Littlefield. His mixed genre book, The Torah Sutras, Andalus Books, will be published in 2019. His short fiction has appeared in over twenty literary journals and publications. He is a regular fiction and non-fiction reviewer for Colorado Review. He works at Cornell University, and lives in the hills outside of Ithaca, New York, with his wife and two children.
Currently, David works as a project manager for an e-learning company in Evanston, Illinois, where he completed his masters in journalism at Northwestern University. In 2013, his report on the ongoing identification process for war victims of the Balkans conflict was published by the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) and continues to be used as an educational resource by the International Commission on Missing Persons. He is also at work pitching a novel about a 1970s street gang, as well as researching a true crime book about the victims of John Wayne Gacy.
Before becoming a writer Elizabeth was a waitress, a pollster, an Avon lady, and an opera singer. She lives with her family in Oakland, California, and she is currently writing her second novel, a magical realism western about her great-grandfather. You can read more at http://www.elizabethgonzalezjames.com, or on Twitter @unefemmejames.
Allison Darcy is currently an MFA Fiction candidate at North Carolina State University. She is grateful to have stories, essays, and poems in such publications as Jewish Currents, Nat. Brut, and Poetica Magazine. She holds an MA in Religion from Duke University, where she focused on lived Jewish practice at the intersections of race, gender, and secularity. In her non-writing time, Allison works with Jewish youth, plays endless rounds of fetch with her new puppy Freyja, and goes to circus school.
We at The Tishman Review are pleased to announce our nominees for the 2019 Best Small Fictions anthology. We are so proud of all our contributors. Keep reading to meet this year’s nominees!
Jackie Aleksandrovich lives, writes, and will likely die out in the Northwest. A handful of their work has been published in Thin Air Magazine, OROBORO, and Foglifter Journal.
What is the best piece of writing advice you have received?
The writing advice I’ve found to be most useful is just write, write often. Write as often as you think you possibly can, even the most minute and fleeting thought, see to it that it’s written. Write even if what you think you’re writing is garbage. Just keep writing. You’ll get better.
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Deborah Elderhorst is an Australian-Canadian writer of literary fiction and creative nonfiction. Her work has appeared in the anthology Trace (Clover Press-Visible Ink, Australia) and in the New Zealand journal Phantom Billstickers Café Reader. She was a finalist in the Writers’ Union of Canada 25th Annual Short Prose Competition for Emerging Writers and received an honorable mention in the 44th New Millennium Writing Awards. Deborah lives in Toronto, where she works as an editor.
What do you do to overcome writer’s block?
Crossing over from fiction into hybrid forms of nonfiction—lyrical essays, prose poems, visual essays—afforded me a creative jolt when I felt stuck on a project. In granting myself permission to experiment with forms that were new to me, I recovered that sense of playfulness and excitement about writing that often yields the best and most surprising results. I felt like an alchemist. Far from turning me away from fiction permanently, this gave me new energy for my stalled project.
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Seth D. Slater has contributed to the Chicago Quarterly Review, New Madrid: Journal of Contemporary Literature, Metonym, Le Scat Noir, and The Tishman Review. Slater was a recent AWP finalist for best novel excerpt and teaches Writing and Rhetoric at San Diego State University.
What does your writing process look like?
There’s nothing like forward motion. I pace or drive my stories into existence, the spirit translating asphalt miles or circled-steps into motion outside myself. After I get the gist, after I tread a cerebral rut that feels out my trajectory of thought, I sit down at my desk and drink heavily-sugared coffee (because I don’t have enough cavities) and I blast music that hand-holds my current tempo of thought.
Desmond White’s satire and speculative fiction has appeared in HeartWood, Ghost Parachute, Whatever Our Souls, Rue Scribe, Ink & Voices, Kasma, The Tishman Review, and others. His piece “House Divided” was recently featured in Z Publishing’s America’s Emerging Writers. A native of California, Des has lived in Indonesia, Venezuela, China, and the “independent Republic” of Texas. He has an MLA from Houston Baptist University, where he founded the student magazine Writ in Water. These days he teaches high school in Colorado and runs a flash-fiction-focused website called Rune Bear. See more at www.desmondwrite.com or @desmondwrite.
Where or what time of day do you write best?
Famously, Ernest Hemingway wrote in the morning from “first light” to noon. For those of us who work the 9 to 5 (as a teacher, 7 to 3), Hemingway might not inspire so much as demotivate. Coming home from a day’s work, with kids and cats and bills, and the brain completely oatmeal—who has the time for anything?
Instead, I draw inspiration from Terry Pratchett, who dreamed of story at work, and wrote four hundred words at home. Every day. Until he finished his novel. So where or when do I find the time? Wherever. Whenever. But I write every day, hopefully at my dining room table, but sometimes on a notepad in a faculty meeting, or right before the first bell.
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“Write naked. That means to write what you would never say.
Write in blood. As if ink is so precious you can’t waste it.
Write in exile, as if you are never going to get home again, and you have to call back every detail.”
—Denis Johnson’s “Three Rules To Write By”
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Tips to help you succeed with your short story at TTR:
1. If a story has been declined without a request for revision, please do not send it again, even if it has been a number of years. Submittable has a button to click on that pulls up, in seconds, all of the submissions by any one author. Inevitably, one of us remembers the story.
2. We are currently not interested in stories that focus on the POV of a male who is afflicted with toxic masculinity. We’re not interested in spending time inside this type of person’s head. However, a story in which toxic males are present and there is pushback against this attitude and behavior will be considered. A fine example of this is the 2018 winner of the Tillie Olsen Short Story Award, which you can read on our website.
3. We are not interested in stories that are not cognizant of language when referencing American Indians and are not truly authentic to their experiences. Comparing American Indians to animals (even if trying to elucidate the government’s racist policies), writing about their spiritual or religious beliefs or cultural practices when you have only researched this from afar, writing in their POV and when the character becomes violent saying something like it is their “Indian blood” coming out, and so forth, are big no-no’s at TTR. Some stories told by American Indians are considered sacred to them and not to be shared outside the tribe. If you are non-indigenous and have worked hard to be authentic (and not just by reading books written by white people) and have vetted your story with a number of important people within the tribe you are writing about (if you are writing about the tribe’s cultural and spiritual practices and beliefs), please feel free to send it.
4. See number two but insert a racist or homophobic POV.
5. Please do not send angry, defiant, defensive, demeaning, rude cover letters. If you don’t like our submission guidelines or our hard work to be inclusive to all peoples, send your story somewhere else.
6. We won’t publish you story if there is objectification of women within it. This is when the story focuses on women’s physical attractiveness and describes women according to how a male judges their body and appearance. Sometimes these narratives will compare women to animals. In these stories, often the male characters are then described according to their character and personality traits but not their physical appearance. Sometimes the main character is not the stereotypical toxic male, but this objectification sneaks into the narrative. See number two about toxic masculinity and the need for pushback against this.
7. Sometimes we still see stories where the characters are stereotypes. Don’t send those.
8. Make sure your main character has a problem or dilemma they need to try and resolve in the story. This makes your story interesting and engaging. We aren’t interested in pieces that are just descriptions of someone’s life. The short story is an art form and all readers expect writers to honor this form, no matter how experimental the work, no matter how young the reader or modern the reader or old the reader. The number one complaint amongst readers from all walks of life that have been staff at TTR is lack of narrative arc. Make sure the character’s problem becomes apparent to some degree by page 2. This is called “tension.” A narrative arc is what makes a piece, a short story. How this is done is open to an enormous amount of leeway. Read William Maxwell’s short story “The Thistles in Sweden” which is seemingly about nothing, but is in fact, a short story.
9. If you send us fantasy, science fiction, or historical fiction, please make sure the story is focused on character development rather than plot. For historical fiction, please be cognizant of language.
10. Do not front load your story with exposition and backstory. Start your story as soon as possible to when the tension (see above) enters the character’s life.
11. The stories we publish at TTR have what we consider to be substance. Substance makes us respond either emotionally or intellectually or both. Substance has weight, even in humor.
12. Be careful not to send us stories that are for children. We get a surprising number of good stories that are suited to children and teenagers and not adults. The focus in the story is only on what children concern themselves with. While important to children or teenagers, the concerns are boring to adults. This is a tricky balance. But see “The Gun Rack” by WA Polf in TTR October 2016 and “The Cigarette Thieves” by Renee Macalino Rutledge in TTR April 2017 for examples of a main character that is a child, but the story appeals to adult readers. Also, Flannery O’Connor’s “The Lame Shall Enter First” and Edward P. Jones’s short stories often have juvenile characters but are written for adults. Maybe one way to analyze this is to think about how shallow the story is; the more shallow the less likey to engage an adult.
13. Did we say character, character, character? Fleshy and whole. Alive on the page.
14. We do care about language usage at the sentence-level. Prose that appears wrought with the need for line edits will be declined. Numerous typos and grammatical errors are off-putting.
15. Finally, make sure your story knows what it is about. Is it a victim of thematic hoarding? Our heads are spinning. Does it need a spring cleaning? Too much clutter with plot lines, characters, themes, makes for a messy story that still reads as if it doesn’t know why it exists yet. Take the time to find out. The shorter the story, the tighter the focus.
16. These recommendations are very specific to TTR. There are lots of journals publishing fabulous stories and they may or may not disagree with us entirely or in certain areas. This makes for a thriving, committed, and passionate literary world. Seek out the publishers and editors who will appreciate your stories.
Lee Kvern is the Canadian award-winning author of short stories and novels. Her short stories in recent collection 7 Ways To Sunday have garnered the national CBC Literary Award, Western Magazine Award, Hazel Hilles Memorial Short Fiction Prize, and the Howard ‘O’ Hagan Award. Afterall was selected for Canada Reads (Regional), and nominated for Alberta Books Awards. The Matter of Sylvie was nominated for Alberta Book Awards and the Ottawa Relit Award. Her work has been produced for CBC Radio, published in Event, Descant, Air Canada enRoute, The Tishman Review, subTerrain, and Globe&Mail.
Grace Singh Smith’s fiction and nonfiction is forthcoming or has appeared in AGNI, Santa Monica Review, Cleaver, Aster(ix), The Texas Review, and The Tishman Review. Her short story “Oshini” was a semi-finalist and special mention for the Tillie Olsen Short Story Award 2017 (The Tishman Review) and her short story “The Promotion” was cited as Notable in Best American Short Stories 2016. A native of Assam, India, she now lives in Santa Monica with her husband and handsome editorial support animal, a yellow lab named Samson. Grace holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and, in another life, is the spokesperson for Santa Monica College. She is finishing (!) her first novel Goddess of Spiders.
Rashaun J. Allen, a current Vermont Studio Center Resident, holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from SUNY Stony Brook where he was a twice recipient of the Southampton Graduate Arts Excellence in Service Award and the first Fulbright scholar in the program’s history. He has independently published poetry chapbooks: A Walk Through Brooklyn and In The Moment that became Top 10th and 11th Amazon Best Sellers in African American Poetry. He has been published in TSR: The Southampton Review, The Tishman Review, Rigorous, Auburn Avenue and Poui. He also has a Steinberg Essay Contest Finalist forthcoming in Fourth Genre. When not writing or thinking about writing, he runs just to cross the finish line screaming. Find more of his work at www.rashaunjallen.com.