Things To Know If You Want To Publish in Literary Magazines

The Sarcastic Muse

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll start this off by saying: I am not a master of getting published in literary magazines. Rather it’s probably more accurate to say that I’m an expert in getting rejected by them. But there are a few things I’ve learned along the way that may be of use to you—whether you’re a literary writer or a genre writer or somewhere in between. Reading the fine print, familiarizing yourself with your chosen venue of publication, drafting cover and query letters—all of these things will bring you one step closer to seeing your name in print.

And besides, there are a ton of opportunities out there for writers—you just need to know where to look.

Cover Letters

Most literary journals require a cover letter. I’ve noticed that some of the speculative fiction magazines are more lenient about this, but as a habit, I send them one, too. Cover letters are not…

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Perfectionist Writer Problems: You May Be a Perfectionist If . . .

The Sarcastic Muse

Perfectionist Writer Problems: You May Be a Perfectionist If . . .I was chatting with Chris last week about my novel issues. Yes, with my thesis looming over my head I’m having, of all things, novel issues. I am not a fire and forget kind of writer. I’m an agonize over every word even when I know I’ll probably burn the draft in a fiery pit of doom kind of writer. Perfectionists are an odd sort, and the longer I hang around the writer corner of the internet, the clearer it is to me that the writing world is full of them. *Waves at all fellow perfectionists*

The sarcastic muse has struck me this week, so below I’ve amassed a list of some perfectionist problems. At least the ones that are familiar to me.

Disclaimer: I can’t speak for all perfectionists. Also, some points may dually apply to self-proclaimed non-perfectionists, too. (Imperfectionists?)

You may be a perfectionist if . . .

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Writing Tip: Can’t Get a Character to Talk? Get a Thesis

So I have been . . . absent. Sort of. By absent, I mostly mean that I have not been posting much on this blog. If you follow the Sarcastic Muse, then you probably catch me over there once a week or so. (I attempt to write coherent posts about editing and such. Conclusive evidence that any of it is useful cannot be provided.)

But I’ve got to get back on board with this writing gig, so I’m here to dazzle you all with my tales of interesting . . . okay, no, interesting probably isn’t the right word.

To be fair, I have been writing lately. I have been writing a lot, a lot, a lot.

About Estonian poetry.

(Thesis.)

Shh . . .  Don't tell her I'm here. Image: (c) Michelle Mueller

Shh . . . Don’t tell her I’m here.
(This is not the character in question.)
Image: (c) Michelle Mueller

Somewhere in the midst of my research, I finally started reading a book I’ve been deliberately not reading for two years. Mostly because I had it only in Estonian, and let’s just say this is not the kind of topic you want to read in a foreign language unless you have an affinity for headaches and a desire to kill things. Needless to say, I realized that perhaps the author — in all his talk of signs and signifiers and structure of the text (see Juri Lotman for more details) — was on to something. Something that I could actually use for my novel. (Thesis? What thesis?)

And the novel I’d had percolating in my head for a year and a half came tumbling forward at full speed, as if it had been parked in a garage somewhere in the back of my brain and had suddenly been hit with dynamite. Yes, almost two years ago, I started a (rather bad) novel about . . . stuff. It was sort of a fantasy, sort of a sci-fi novel. Actually, the fact that I can’t tell you exactly what it was about should raise a red flag. That’s why I stuffed it in the mental garage in the first place.

But it had a character I liked loved got along with. One that I wanted to give the right story. She just didn’t seem to know what her story was yet. Which was fine. I’m patient understanding capable of attempting to accommodate characters. I had other projects, anyway.

Well . . . characters are vindictive. We all know that. I shouldn’t really be surprised by what my own are capable of given that they are born from the strange, spinning dark hole I call my mind. But this one? She’d been quiet for a year and a half. The second my thesis had a definitive deadline with an end in sight, I couldn’t get her to stop talking. She’s still talking. (Note: she can’t even talk — she’s mute.)

(That doesn’t stop her.)

(Seriously, I have been having strange dreams lately.)

She’s been so loud for the past week that I had to actually stop writing the thesis to appease her.

(Yes, yes, I’m back to working on the thesis now.)

So there you have it. I have answered the problems of writers everywhere. Having trouble writing your novel? Don’t know where it’s going? Characters not talking?

Step One: Start writing a thesis.
Step Two: Procrastinate.
Step Three: Get serious about completing it. Try to stay on task.
Step Four: Problem solved. (You’ll just have different ones.)


Have any instances you can share when the characters kept interfering with your everyday life?