2 Super Sneaky Publishing Hacks I Discovered by Accident!

Publishing hack number one: Forget writing, let's make art! Mixed Media of weird faces on a Found Object, Copyright Rachel Teferet 2021

I recently discovered two sneaky publishing hacks for literary magazines, and I’ve been meaning to share them with you! My goodness, it has been a minute since I blogged. Like so many of you, my life was sort of rearranged over the past year and a half! It’s been kind of a bumpy ride. Before we get started, I want to acknowledge the craziness that has been the past while and to extend my deepest wishes that you were all doing OK out there in cyberspace. And that you are continuing to make time for your writing practice!

One of the things I’m getting back into is submitting work for publication. That definitely took a backseat over the pandemic! But I was able to submit some visual art, something that I like to do about once a year. My background is actually in painting, and it feels really nice to offer some of my artwork to literary magazines. 

On this round of submissions, I learned about two publishing hacks, and I’m excited to share them with you today so you can start using them too!

Super Sneaky Publishing Hack #1: Always Query, Even if You Think it’s Hopeless!

Ben Franklin knows all about publishing hacks. That's why this stencil on someone's house is showing him relaxing to a boombox.
Cool Ben Franklin graffiti spotted in Manayunk, Philadelphia. Be cool like Ben; always query!

One of the markets I submitted to is the New Reader Magazine, one of my favorite publications of all time. I’ve had a couple of poems published by them, and they always do an amazing job curating content and making it look beautiful. So I thought, why not submit some artwork!?

The only problem was, I didn’t hear back for months and months. I use Duotrope to track my submissions, and the number of days out was highlighted in red, letting me know it was either time to query or mark it as “never responded.”

Now, previous to this experience, I always thought it was a waste of time to query. It inevitably led to rejection or, worse, no response… which made me feel like an even bigger failure.

However, I knew this publication was really friendly and great to work with, so I wrote an email. When I didn’t get a response, I knew something was up, and I contacted their general email instead of the one I’d been using for the editor.

As it turns out, the publication had changed editors while I had submitted and had lost track of my work! The new editor found my submission and accepted three pieces right away! 

Lesson learned: ALWAYS query!

You can check out the beautiful issue (June 2021 | Vol. 4 Issue 14) here on NRM’s website!

Super Sneaky Publishing Hack #2: Submit Visual Art & Open the Back Door to Competitive Markets!

This next hack is a bit of a back door that I discovered as well. I have been submitting to Zoetic Press’s Non-Binary Review for a while, but my writing just never got in. I thought, why not try submitting some artwork?

Not only does this market pay well for artwork, but I also could see in Duotrope that they have low submission rates for this category, so my chances were way better.

In fact, not a ton of people submit artwork to literary magazines. It is WAY LESS competitive than poetry or fiction!

I’m pleased to say that I got a painting into issue #23, which you can purchase from Zoetic Press!

Now, because I’m in the “in“ crowd with Zoetic Press, I get early, exclusive submission calls from the publication before it goes out to everyone in the universe. And, I was invited to join a contributors-only Facebook group. So not only do I have a relationship with the journal at long last, but I also get first dibs on future submissions!

Lesson learned: submitting visual art can open doors.

If you’re an artist or like to doodle, consider submitting work! And if you don’t consider yourself to be artsy-fartsy? Then check out some of these hacks:

Hacks to turn your creative writing into artwork!

A public domain image with cut up words from Twilight, an example of a fun literary art project for a rainy day.

Even though I went to art school, I’m not one of those pretentious noses in the air, I’m so special painters. I deeply believe that everybody is creative and can make art.

Having trouble getting a short story or poem accepted? Running into writer’s block? Try some creative parallel fun with art-making… And then submit your artwork to increase your chances of acceptance!

Art ideas to hack publishing and creativity:

  1. Print out your story or poem. Then cut out each word or sentence, depending on how fancy you want to get. Break out some magazines and a glue stick, and make a crazy collage. Then paste your words over the artwork! Bam, you are a collage artist! Submit that cool thing!
  2. Find a book that you hate (I chose Twilight, don’t hate me!). Turn that book into a sculpture! Or, rip out pages, cut out interesting phrases and words, and do the collage exercise above. (See the video down below for more!) OR, make some blackout poetry (see photo below)!
  3. Sign up for an art class, either online or in-person! Create something fun that you never would’ve done on your own. Check out gel printing, scrapbooking, or a creative practice that uses found materials. Make something weird! Stamp, scribble, or paint your poetry onto it, then snap a picture and try submitting it!
Above is a really cool, anonymous “blackout” poem I found in a free poetry exchange board. Just another way to make a poem with visual flare.

Feel free to try some of these ideas. The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll have some fun. You might also beat writer’s block, create something funky to submit to a literary magazine, and get your foot in the door.

Take a few minutes to see the terrible, artistic things my friends and I have done to books!

Keep on Writing! And Creating!

I’ve gotten really down lately about how competitive it is to get your work published as a writer. I mean, it just gets brutal sometimes. I recently had a long spat of rejections, and Duotrope let me know that my acceptance rate was still higher than average. I don’t know if it was trying to cheer me up, but it definitely just made me more depressed.

Putting your work out there is great. I mean, it’s important. I try and make time to do it every month and submit a lot of work in batches. But I always have to remind myself that publishing isn’t the reason why I write or create. I do it because it’s fun and I like it! I feel like if I lose sight of that, the game is all over, and I’ve lost.

How do you keep your creative spark going strong? How do you keep up submitting work to publications? Let us know in the comments below!

Shortlisted for the Funny Pearls Contest! “Alphabet of Ants”

“Create a Magic Story!” With Magnetic Poetry from NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and Harry Potter 🙂

It’s my great privilege to announce that my short story, “Alphabet of Ants,” was shortlisted this January for the Funny Pearls 2020 Short Story Competition. Funny Pearls is a delightful lit mag dedicated to women’s humor, and it’s an honor to be a part of the magic.

The story is about what happens when intergalactic insects haunt your bathroom. You can listen to me read it below, or check it out at Funny Pearls: https://funnypearls.com/2021/01/alphabet-of-ants/

I’m whispering a little bit because it’s early and my husband is still sleeping, haha 🙂 Enjoy the listen!

Big thanks goes out to my writing teacher, mentor, and friend, Rachel Howard, for editing the piece. A shout out also goes out to my critique buddies on Scribophile. Go writing community!

Funny Pearls is a wonderful market to submit to. The editor, Mette, is a pleasure to work with and an incredible editor. This has been one of my favorite magazines, and I’m so honored to have gotten in. You can check out the short story competition on Duotrope.

Aw, ants are kind of cute close up!

More Literary Good News!

Also this month, I have a piece of artwork that was accepted by the NonBinary Review, a project of Zoetic Press. The work will appear in their next issue with an apocalypse theme. This was a tough market to get into, with only about an 8% acceptance rate, so I was very pleased that my work will be appearing in the next issue. I’ll let you know when it’s live!

I also had the delight of helping host the Sierra Writer’s Conference last week, as well as live Tweeting the event. Once the event recordings of the workshops are up, I’ll post about that too so you can check it out!

Talk about alien insects! 🙂

That’s all for me! Please let me know in the comments how you liked “Alphabet of Ants” and what you have been up to in your writing life!

THIS WEEKEND: Sierra Writer’s VIRTUAL Conference with James McBride and Dr. Bettina Love! February 5th & 6th, Just $30 or Less—Join me!

From last year’s conference: Introducing my hero NaNoWriMo Director Grant Faulkner in 2020!

This year, I am honored and delighted to help MC the Sierra Writer’s Virtual Conference. I have attended every year, and each time, I get so much out of it between the inspiring speakers and skills-boosting workshops. THIS WEEKEND, the keynote speakers are not to be missed: you can catch both James McBride and Dr. Bettina Love for just $30 or less!

Getting my signed copy of Driving in Cars with Homeless Men: Stories
by the insanely talented Katie Wisel in 2020! Photo credit: Tom Durkin

Featured Speakers: James McBride and Dr. Bettina Love

This year, the conference features two nationally renown authors you won’t want to miss:

James McBride is an award-winning author, musician, and screenwriter. His landmark memoir, The Color of Water, published in 1996, has sold millions of copies and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller list. Considered an American classic, it is read in schools and universities across the United States.

From McBride’s website, http://www.jamesmcbride.com/bio/

Dr. Bettina L. Love is an award-winning author and the Athletic Association Endowed Professor at the University of Georgia. She is one of the field’s most esteemed educational researchers. Her writing, research, teaching, and activism meet at the intersection of race, education, abolition, and Black joy….

She is the author of the books We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom and Hip Hop’s Li’l Sistas Speak: Negotiating Hip Hop Identities and Politics in the New South. Her work has appeared in numerous books and journals, including the English Journal, Urban Education, The Urban Review, and the Journal of LGBT Youth. 

From Love’s website, https://bettinalove.com/about/

Workshops to Hone Your Writing

  1. Devi S. Laskar, author of The Atlas of Reds and Blues and winner of the 2020 Crook’s Corner Book Prize| Amassing the Tide. A workshop on establishing a voice and a sustainable writing practice
  2. Kim Culbertson, one of my favorite YA authors of all time and a super inspiring speaker and craft teacher| The World You Build for Them
  3. Catharine Bramkamp, vivacious author and outstanding promoter of books | Authentic Promotion
  4. Sands Hall, author of Reclaiming My Decade Lost in Scientology and one of my favorite teachers of all time!| Empowering Your Characters: Including When That Character Is Yourself
  5. …And many more!

Every year, Kim Culbertson’s talk inspires me to live an authentic writer’s life. I’ve also had the pleasure of taking multiple workshops and intensives with the outstanding Sands Hall, who always brings my skill up to a new level after her classes. I highly recommend catching all the workshops you can!

I’m Leading the Flash Fiction Critique Workshop!

There is also a great selection of critique groups you can join to receive feedback on your work. From poetry to fiction, take your work to the next level.

I’ll be leading the flash fiction critique group. Here’s the down low:

Join us for the art of the super-compressed story, the short short, nanofiction, or microfiction. We’ll have a good time building our craft by critiquing each other’s work in a safe space. All genres welcome. Please bring a flash fiction piece, your virtual red pen, and a sense of adventure!

Read more and register for your critique group at https://sierrawritersconference.org/critique-sessions/

Join Us for the Conference!

The nice thing about going virtual is that you can join from anywhere. Like my mother-in-law, who will be tuning in from snowy Boston! How cool is that?

You can find more info about the conference here: https://sierrawritersconference.org/home-2/

And you can buy your tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sierra-writers-conference-2021-tickets-129057292837

Prices:

  • $10 for Friday, February 5th registration
  • $20 for Saturday, February 6th registration
  • $30 for both Friday, February 5th & Saturday, February 6th
  • $30 for Critique workshop Friday, February 5th registration
  • Attendees will be sent the conference URL via email on Thursday, February 4th.

Remember, critique sessions are an extra $30 on Friday, and space is limited! So sign up right away if you are interested. You’ll see the extra option to purchase a critique spot on your registration.

Me buying books at last year’s conference. And yes, those are Rey Star Wars earrings! Photo credit: Tom Durkin

I hope to see you there at the conference, writing friends! Let us know in the comments if you plan on attending.

Want more? Check out my blog on last year’s conference!

My Top 10 YA Fantasy Books of All Time

Ready to enrich your reading list? I recently presented at the Writer’s Resources Meetup on my top 10 YA fantasy books of all time. Read on for some books that might surprise you!

Top Ten YA Fantasy Books of All Time! Video from the January Writer’s Resources Meetup

List of Top 10 YA Fantasy Books Not to Miss:

The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley is one of my all time favorite books!

The Hero and the Crown (Damar, #2)The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my favorite book when I was 12, and it remains my favorite book of all time! I must have re-read it at least 10 or 20 times throughout my life, and it’s awesome every time 🙂

View all my reviews
  1. The Hero and the Crown, Robin McKinley. Newberry Winner: My #1 fav book of all time! I reread this book almost every year.
  2. A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle: Classic.
  3. The Earthsea series (especially #2, The Tombs of Atuan), Ursula Le Guin: Masterful storytelling at its best.
  4. The Hobbit + Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkien: Old school classic.
  5. Harry Potter, J. K. Rowling: Modern Classic
  6. The Abhorsen Series by Garth Nix, starting with Sabriel: One of the most original YA fantasy series. I’m surprised more folks haven’t read it. On par with Harry Potter in my opinion.
  7. The Valdemar Series by Mercedes Lackey (start with By the Sword): One of my favorites as a kid. Not all the books in the series hold up to the test of time, but By the Sword is one of the best!
  8. The Wheel of Time Series, Robert Jordan: Not strictly YA but loved by many a teen and adult. Weighing in with 14 books well over a thousand pages each, the series is a commitment but well worth it.
  9. Strange the Dreamer, Laini Taylor: a contemporary soon to be classic. One of the best of the latest YA fantasy novels I’ve stumbled across.
  10. City of Brass, S.A. Chakraborty (The Daevabad Trilogy #1): Not strictly YA but it could be considered in the category. A historical fantasy with rich world building, political intrigue, and character development that can’t be beat!

The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy, #1)The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I just finished all the sweet sweet 20 hours of the audiobook production of City of Brass, and I literally can’t stop freaking out. This book is right up there with my favorites like Strange the Dreamer. Fantastic character development, exquisite world building, and insane plot twists to the max! This is probably my favorite book of the year. Can’t wait to read the next one!

View all my reviews
Sabriel by Garth Nix is one of my favorite YA Fantasy books of all time!

With all the chaos of the world, it was delightful to take a break and share my favorite books of all time with friends. Are any of these titles on your bookshelves? What YA Fantasy books would you put on your list? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Also, stay tuned! I have some good publishing news coming your way soon 🙂

New Mom-Approved (but NSFW!) Poem Published!

A screenshot of my poem from "Current," which you can read on page 15 here: https://edition.pagesuite.com/html5/reader/production/default.aspx?pubname=&edid=2e3a30b9-2196-436d-9fee-7b9318125d3b

New wacky poem up at Current, a project of The Union, which is my local newspaper. I thought for sure this would get rejected—after all, so many F bombs! But while this piece of literary goodness might not be safe for work, my mom loves it.

In fact, I wrote this one about four years ago and have been trying to get it published for ages. But it turns out most literary journals don’t appreciate curse words like my mom does, haha!

This acceptance comes at a wonderful time for me, actually. I’ve been sending out short stories and my poetry chapbooks like a mad woman, but so far, I just have a big old pile of rejections 😦 To top it off, with the stress of everything, I haven’t been writing every day (though I have been getting in a little here and there).  I hope this marks a turn for the awesome for my writing.

So, at long last, my ode to my bargain-shopping, swears-like-a-sailor mama is up for the world to enjoy. Check out the full magazine for free at Current 2020. I’m on page 15.

Thanks for reading, and let us know how your creative adventures are going in the comments below ❤ 

Publishing Workshop + Hanging with Grant Faulkner @ the Sierra Writers Conference <3

Introducing my hero Grant Faulkner at the writing conference!

 

Why come to a writing conference? To light a fire under your desk chair, meet amazing people—and most of all, give back to the writing community. I was invited to teach a workshop on publishing this past weekend at the Sierra Writer’s Conference, and I got back so much more than I gave.

 

 

For me, a major highlight was introducing keynote speaker Grant Faulkner, Executive Director of NaNoWriMo—while wearing my 2019 winner’s t-shirt and an incandescent Viking hat. Huzzah!

I’ve been obsessed with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, since 2012, and have been a volunteer for years. I’ve written over 145,000 words over the course of many crazy Novembers!

Without NaNoWriMo, I would not be the writer I am today. Connecting with Grant and thanking him for everything he’s done for me and the NaNoWriMo community was amazing.

 

 

 

 

It was also totally rad to get my yearly pep talk at Kim Culbertson’s workshop on scene work, and I couldn’t believe it when Kim attended my workshop afterward! I’ve been going to Kim’s classes for years because she’s so inspiring, and she wrote one of my favorite books of all time, “The Possibility of Now.” I don’t even have words to say it all cool was, which is saying something 🙂

 

My workshop on publishing short stories and poems was totally packed, and those who participated said they got a lot out of it. I was TOTALLY NERVOUS, but it was a great crowd, and once I got into it, we had a lot of fun. I was so happy to give back to a community that has given me so much. I hope everyone who took my class gets published, and soon!

I overcame some editing blocks I was having during Sands Hall’s workshop on scene, and then became a fashion designer for aliens during a humor workshop with Kimberly Bateman.

 

Fashion show of humor! Best Workshop EVER!

For an after-party, I went to a mind-blowing reading with Pam Houston and her student, Kate Wisel, both of whom knocked my socks off.

 

NEW BOOKS by Pam Houston and Kate Wisel

 

 

 

Incredible, inspiring, amazing weekend. If you’ve never gone to a writing conference, I can’t recommend it enough. It will give you the spark of inspiration you need to defeat your inner critic. I never thought I would be here, helping other writers to realize their dreams. I couldn’t have done it without all the other writers who have and continue to inspire me to kick butt and write my novel ❤ ❤ ❤

Did you go to the conference? Let us know how you liked it in the comments below—and if you’d like to do a social share, let us know your platforms and handles, and we’ll all follow you back! #writingcommunity #4ever