Monthly Archives: September 2018

“Dreaming America” On Stage

Back in July I reviewed Dreaming America: Voices of Undocumented Youth in Maximum-Security Detention—a bi-lingual anthology of poetry, selected by the poet Seth Michelson from writing workshops he has conducted in the most restrictive detention center for undocumented, unaccompanied youth in the U.S. You can read that review here.

Last week drama students at the Charlottesville (Va.) High School staged a performance of Dreaming America, below. Definitely worth watching and sharing. The book itself a beautiful piece of literature that raises awareness as well as needed money. In an effort to secure legal defense for undocumented, unaccompanied youth, profits from sales of the book are donated directly to a legal defense fund for them.

A “Safe Space” for Submissions

Poets are invited to send submissions for This Safe Space, an up-and-coming online publication featuring poetry written by survivors of sexual assault. This Safe Space is for survivors to share their stories, struggles, successes, and setbacks through poetry.

Please send your work as a Word document, single-spaced, using 12-point font. Your name, email, and a title for each poem must be included on the document. If you would like to be published anonymously, please state “publish anonymously” below your contact information. No more than three poems can be submitted per author. Simultaneous submissions are allowed.

If your submission is accepted elsewhere, please notify This Safe Space immediately at and they will remove your work from consideration. Submissions will close on November 19. Editorial decisions will be made in December.

Submissions can be sent via email to In the subject line, please write “TSS: (your last name)” and note that any submissions not including this subject line may not be reviewed.

A small team of empathetic survivors will review all submissions and inform poets of submission status via email. For questions regarding submissions, feel free to contact us via email at

Deadline Extended! Win a Creative Retreat

Woven Tales Press literary and art competition deadline extended through Oct. 1!

The Elizabeth Sloan Tyler Memorial Award: Win a one-week stay in Woven Tales Press’ expanded 1909 charming cape in the legendary Hamptons in New York for eight nights.

The Hamptons have been a popular destination to writers from around the world; home to Peter Matthiessen, George Plimpton, Truman Capote, among other literary legends. The accommodations will be for two in a spacious four bedroom residence with full amenities. Only one block from NYC trains and Atlantic ocean beach.
More details here.

Bitter Suites Review by Lee Murray

I love these “mini reviews” by Lee Murray! It’s like a buffet of authors—take a little scoop to try it all and fill up on what you love. Not only did she review Bitter Suites, but also Night of 1,000 Beasts by Bram Stoker winner John Palisano, the anthology Cthulhu Deep Down Under Volume 2, speculative writer Kura Carpenter’s debut novel The Kingfisher’s Debt. and Kevin Berry’s third interactive fiction title Movie Mystery Madness.

Here is a clip of her review of Bitter Suites, but be sure to visit Lee Murray’s blog to read about all of these wonderful titles. Thank you, Lee!

Organizing Writing

One of the things I struggle with as a writer is organization, not of a single piece but of all the pieces. I tend to write on anything that can hold some words.

My desk is piled with snippets of poetry, sentence fragments, and story ideas. My phone and files… just ugh!

Last night I spent about four hours of precious work time looking for the mobi file for Bitter Suites so I could send it to someone. I searched my Google Drive and desktop files—no mobi. What the heck?!? I just had it in July when I uploaded it to KDP. I finally went to bed, frustrated.

This morning I woke up to a cold fact: if I am to be a successful writer it’s time for me to grow up and stop losing my work. I have to start treating my stories like intellectual property. I need to keep them safe, backed up and organized.

Turning to Google, I found lots of information on organizing a single piece of writing but nothing on organizing all your writing. I may be on my own here.

Anyone with any tips on best ways to keep tabs on your work, please feel free to drop some links in the comments.

“Where the Stars Rise” Wins Book of the Year

Congratulations to Laksa Media! Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction and Fantasy won Alberta Book Publishing’s Speculative Fiction Book of the Year! I’m proud to be involved in this project with my short story, Vanilla Rice.

Vanilla Rice is the birth story for the Bitter Suites universe. The rundown apartments where Yoshiko and Killian live for a year happens to be around the corner from the suicide hotel. You’ll note some similarities between the stories—mention of certain residents and painted over windows, among other things.

In Suite & Sour, the follow up to Bitter Suites, our ‘popped guy’ winds up at the apartments and Yoshiko (from Bitter Suites) and Katsue (from Vanilla Rice) not only meet, but have a pivotal friendship.


Cultivating Urgency

Today was busy. Besides my usual writing, I laid out an article and graphics for a magazine and then wrote up a business spotlight for another magazine. I’m not doing it for the bylines or freelance fees (though I appreciate both). I’m doing it for the deadlines.

Working from home it’s too easy to let life crowd in and steal my writing time. I need to start working at 8 a.m. Yesterday I had a phone conversation that lasted until 8:46 before I noticed the time. I said I was late for work and excused myself.

I can crowd a lot of activity in an hour, and it’s one of my biggest flaws. To stay disciplined, and focused, I need to treat my writing with a corporate mindset. I have a schedule, a lunch hour and a break. If there are dishes in my sink, they stay there until after 5.

I hope doing some freelance work on the side will help me stay in that deadlines mindset. All week I had the magazine layout worrying at me. I had to download and learn a new software program. I haven’t laid out anything but a few books since I stopped publishing the Panhandle Focus. I was nervous.

And it worked wonders. All week I’ve worked my schedule. I had to make a plan to fit my deadlines. I stayed on track, except for the 46 minutes when I was distracted on the phone. Don’t tell my boss!

NonBinary Review Seeks Submissions

NonBinary Review is seeking submissions of poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and art for two of their forthcoming issues. They pay .01 per word for fiction and nonfiction, a flat fee of $10 per poem and $25 per piece of visual art. Work published online earns a flat fee of $15. The issues they seek work for are…

Issue #19: Dante’s Inferno (closes 10/24/2018)

Issue #20: Books of Blood by Clive Barker (Vol. 1-3) (closes 1/23/2019)

From their website: We prefer work where the connection to the theme is clear– think “literary fanfic.” Loosely connected submissions (something based on a theme, emotion, or atmosphere in the work) are less likely to find a spot in each issue’s line-up.

Click here for more details.

Life As Writer: Day One

The first time I tried to treat my writing like a day job, I failed. I did everything but write. It was hard for me to justify sitting at home doing exactly what I love. I filled my days with worthy projects so that I could earn writing time. I never did.

Today I spent a lot of the day organizing my projects, catching up mentally and preparing myself. I settled into the mindset that I am not earning my writing time but rather fulfilling my purpose. This is no longer something I stay up late to do. This is what I do.

Last night I gave a family a ride to help them get their car fixed. During the small talk, the mom asked what I did for a living.

“As of tomorrow, I write,” I said. My mind wasn’t on the conversation at all. I was thinking of dinner, what I had to do before bed and getting these strangers to their destination.

“Oh, does that make a good living?”

“It’s not about making a living,” I said. “It’s about living.”

My words, spoken without thought, kept rattling around in my brain long after. The truth of them settled through me. This is no game—no distraction to keep me busy. Writing is the only thing I do that feels like it matters.

Up until now, everything I’ve written has been squeezed in between chaotic minutes. In the early days of reporting for a weekly paper in New Jersey I would drag my three babies to the interviews and write the articles on my knees, nursing one boy while the other clung to my back.

When the muse struck hot, I’d stay up until almost dawn to catch her and then go into the day on two or three hours of sleep. It wasn’t about fame or piles of royalties—it was about the words that pile up in my head until they leave room for nothing else. I had to get them out before they suffocated me.

Today, I’ve been granted the precious gift of time to let the words flow as they will. Because of the support of my amazing husband and family, I can allow myself to be on fire and burn with my muses. They can run rampant through my mind, leaving fragile lines of ink the only evidence of their passing.

Day One as a full time writer and I am filled with the heat of daydreams given permission to live. The possibilities drench me, washing the world off of my skin so I can enter a new one unencumbered. The pages stretch out like an eternal sand for my feet to mark new maps. I wander under the night sky of my mind, letting the internal starshine guide my path.

Today, I don’t write to make a living. I write to live.

Interviewed by Loren Rhoads

I recently had the honor of being interviewed by Loren Rhoads for her blog. Loren has a number of books published, her most recent, 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die, has caught my eye. I do love a good (or bad) cemetery!

199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die is a vividly illustrated full-color hardcover from Black Dog & Leventhal Books and is available from AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound and your local bookstore. You can read more about Loren Rhoads and her wonderful books here.

I had fun chatting with Loren about Bitter Suites and how it came to be written… and I even got to share a little bit about what I’m working on now. You can read this lovely interview on her blog at 5 Questions for Angela Yuriko Smith.

Thank you, Loren, for taking the time to learn more about Bitter Suites!