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Posts Tagged ‘poetry submissions’

Please Submit Your Poetry

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 15, 2012

Hi all! As the poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review, I’m always on the lookout for decent poetry submissions. Our next issue — Spring 2012 — is shaping up nicely, but I could still use some poems by one or two more poets. So, please go to the site. Read what’s there to get a feel for the publication, read the guidelines, and then please consider submitting some of your work. Thanks.

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RRR Listed By Poets and Writers

Posted by Scott Holstad on February 8, 2012

Ray’s Road Review is now listed in Poets & Writers Literary Magazines Database. Very cool!

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Publication Success

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 28, 2012

I had a poem accepted for inclusion in The Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee, to be published by the Texas Review Press. This means a lot to me, because it’s been 25 years’ of frustration in trying to get publication recognition in my home state of Tennessee. I’ve been wildly successful getting published around the world, in 26 countries and five languages, but Tennessee’s never been very kind to me. So, this is a nice gift.

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New Poetry At Ray’s Road Review!

Posted by Scott Holstad on January 3, 2012

Hey! Check out some fantastic new poems by Kenneth Pobo, Howie Good, and Robert Lietz in the Winter 2012 issue of Ray’s Road Review. The new issue is out; read it & submit!

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New Poetry at Ray’s Road Review!

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 5, 2011

Hey! Check out some great new poems by Tom Sheehan, Gale Acuff & S. Arthur Murray at Ray’s Road Review: http://raysroadreview.com/. The Fall 2011 issue up and running. Please read and submit!

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Basic Tips on Magazine Submissions

Posted by Scott Holstad on October 2, 2011

Before I begin my rant, let me say that much of what is here can apply to book publisher submissions as well. Now, the first tip I want to give should be so obvious, it’s not funny, but it’s astonishingly ignored by many submitting work to magazines: read the damn submission guidelines. They’re there for a reason; it’s not accidental.  As someone who’s been in the writing and editing business for over two decades and as the current poetry editor for Ray’s Road Review, I’ve compiled a list of what I think are fairly generous (by many traditional standards) submission guidelines poets should follow when submitting work to RRR. For instance, while I won’t consider simultaneous submissions like many magazines and for many reasons, I will consider previously published material with credits, unlike many magazines. That seems fair to me. You would be astonished at how many submissions I get which do not follow the guidelines. It’s a very large percentage. Some of these follow some of the guidelines, while some don’t at all. I usually trash these, as most editors would. If you don’t respect your craft and if you don’t respect the business (for that’s what it is) of publication and if you don’t respect the publisher enough to follow basic guidelines, you won’t earn a dime of respect in return — and why should you! Show yourself and the editors some respect, and do it the right way.

The next points I want to make will actually probably mirror the current RRR guidelines, but they’re so basic, I want to just throw them out there.

Don’t submit work and request critical feedback in response. You’re attempting to pass yourself off as a professional writer trying to get work published for the world to see. You’re doing a job. If you want critiques, go to an MFA program somewhere and get them there. I’m not a damn MFA program and I’m not going to waste hours of valuable time critiquing people’s work for them, and certainly not for free! I didn’t work to get three degrees so I could just give away my knowledge and experience. I’ve taught seminars and workshops, classes too. If this is what you want, go in that direction. If you’re submitting work to a magazine, you’re telling the editors you’re a professional (or at least an aspiring professional) writer with work to review seriously. Got it?

Getting published is a job. Just like when you’re trying to get a paying job, proof the heck out of your cover letter/email AND your poems/work. This is your one chance to make a first impression, so why do you want to come off as an illiterate dumbass??? I can’t tell you how many submissions I get that are chock full of misspelled words (clearly unintentional), missing commas, periods, hyphens, apostrophes, etc., etc. It’s mind boggling. I don’t necessarily knock these ones out of contention, but it makes me wonder how serious the writer is about our magazine and about the craft of writing and business of publication. My guess is, if you’re sloppy trying to get published, generally you won’t, just as your sloppy resume or cover letter will typically kill your job chances.

Another tip: editors usually remember assholes and idiots. And some of them blacklist these people. If a magazine doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions and you send the same work to multiple magazines, and if this work gets accepted by more than one publication, what are you going to do? Let two magazines print the same poems? Get ready for being blacklisted all over the place if that is found out. I learned this lesson the hard way many years ago, early in my writing career, when I submitted the same poems to two very fine university literary reviews, only to have both accept my poems. Imagine my embarrassment when I wrote the second one that contacted me accepting my work to tell them another magazine got it first. Needless to say, I haven’t appeared in either magazine since. Editors remember. Don’t lie, don’t misrepresent, don’t make stuff up. If you’re not heavily published or don’t have certain credits, be open about it. I’ll take work from total beginners, if the quality of work merits it. And those writers with astonishingly great credits don’t merit exceptional consideration either. Everyone’s on a level playing field with me. Let your work do your talking for you. Be honest.

Here’s another tip: most publications appreciate “serious” bios, as opposed to someone bragging about their life philosophies or how much pot they smoke. Send a bio that represents you, but in a professional way — don’t look like a total idiot.

A final tip. Make sure you send current contact info, and make sure to check your mail/email regularly. I’m frustrated right now because I want to publish two poems by a poet who won’t respond to repeated emails requesting a bio — any bio — and a couple of minor grammatical corrections. You can’t imagine how maddening it is to have your issue held up for publication by an asshole writer who won’t respond to editors!

I could go on, but I’ve got other things to get to, so I’ll close by reminding readers of this blog that competition is fierce out there. Everyone thinks they’re a poet/writer these days. Even though there are many magazines publishing literary work, it still behooves you to enhance your chances of acceptance by adhering to submission guidelines, following basic common sense and rules of submitting. At RRR, our acceptance percentage is 8.8%, which might sound low, but it’s actually a bit higher than your standard university-based literary review. Still, with us, then, that means that fewer than one in 10 submissions is accepted. You’re going head to head with other writers and you’ve got to impress editors, so don’t be an idiot and do your best and in doing so, best of luck to you.

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Sorry For My Absence

Posted by Scott Holstad on July 11, 2011

Hi there. I’m sorry for my extended absence since the last time I posted. I have not been feeling well at all, for the most part. At all. I won’t go into all of my various afflictions, but one that has played a prominent role in my life for the past year was just diagnosed in May as Trigeminal Neuralgia, also known unofficially as “The Suicide Disease” as it is commonly thought to be the most severely painful illness/condition known to mankind. Yeah, good times. Trust me when I state that I would not ever wish my last year on my worst enemy. Yep.

Thursday I had an appointment with my pain management specialist. Naturally, I had to wait for what seemed like hours before I got to see him, but he’s a good doctor and he cares, so I’ll cut him some slack. I’m being scheduled for another Stellate Ganglion Block surgical procedure quite soon. It’s just being used as an occasional temporary pain blocking procedure. The next step will be my having to undergo a Radiofrequency Thermal Rhizotomy surgery. All of this to avoid the one procedure all of the doctors, specialists and neurosurgeons go out of their way to avoid — the MVD brain surgery. Apparently, a few too many people die as a result of that surgery for medical professionals to feel really good about going in that direction. The irony is that is the only treatment option that actually is a cure for TN — the other options are just temporary pain blockers, and that’s all. It’s quite frustrating. If I ever have to go that route, I’ll be put on Big Boy medication that makes Morphine look flat out silly, Fentanyl being the first and foremost. Massively addictive and 100 times more potent that Morphine, allegedly. And, by all accounts, getting off of Fentanyl and others like it is much worse than getting off Heroin. Would really like to avoid this. Of course, I’ve been trying to avoid being put on Fentanyl just as I currently am, as I live today, prior to even thinking about MVD surgery. It would be completely disabling, although in truth, TN itself is largely disabling, so I guess it’s a trade off….

Well, enough whining about that. Actually, I’m not trying to whine, merely explain. This topic is on my mind for several reasons, but as it relates to this blog because I feel like I’m neglecting my editing duties at Ray’s Road Review, the online literary journal where I serve as poetry editor. My buddy and RRR founder, Chris Duncan, graciously cuts me slack on this, but I still feel not only an obligation but a desire to work on poetry submissions. It’s one of the few creative outlets I currently have.

Meanwhile, I’ve got some big stuff going on in my private life. Complications, frustrations, other health problems too, as I indicated, and this morning, yet another doctor appointment. It gets tiring, but we all have our own crosses to bear, do we not? So, I just wanted to write something, to touch base with those few of you who know I’m here in blogland, and who care. I do appreciate it. Cheers!

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The New Internet Writing “Experts”

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 30, 2011

Well, I guess this will be my first “rant” of my new blog. Maybe not a rant, but instead just a bitching session….

I’ve just finally got to speak up about a topic I first noticed popping up online here several years ago, and I’ve seen this topic and this issue and these people I’m about to address become more and more common everywhere I go online, no matter what blogging site or on Twitter or FB, Xanga, Blogger, and yeah, now even here on WordPress. The topic is the New Internet Writing “Experts.” The thing that once amused me and now irritates the shit out of me is that virtually NONE of them are qualified in any way to pass themselves off as writing experts in any sense of the word — and yet they do. Again, once amusing. Now, pretty much insulting to those of us who have put the blood, sweat, time and tears in, and who have actually accomplished something significant, thereby making US experts…. Yeah, insulting.

I first noticed this trend several years ago on a different blogging site. An online friend I’d never met IRL had just finished a graduate degree in English and knew for a fact that they were an amazing writer and were naturally, just like every other human being on earth, working on a novel which would, of course, be accepted by an agent and eventually published based on the reality of its immediately recognizable quality due to this person’s substantial writing prowess and gifts. Yep. Never had published a thing ever, but started writing more and more frequently about the art of writing, both poems and fiction. Novels. Amusing. Cute. Darling. Then, however, the blogs started to focus on the art of submitting work to agents, on how to find agents, how to get them to consider if not accept you and your work and ultimately represent you to publishers. Bear in mind this person had never even had an agent respond to one of their increasingly frantic and frustrated queries, let alone request an entire manuscript, let alone agree to represent this person. Never. Having had a damn agent and having had an agent represent me and MY ACTUAL REAL IN REAL LIFE BOOKS THAT GOT PUBLISHED IN REAL LIFE WITH ROYALTIES AND EVERYTHING IN REAL LIFE, I kind of felt like I knew just a tad bit more than this person did and kind of thought that they were being a bit presumptuous, even arrogant, in literally trying to pass themself off as an expert of sorts, never having accomplished what they were advising other people about. It was not a diary about their efforts, mind you. It was honest to God advice from someone who Clearly Knows What They Are Talking About. Uh huh.

I know I’m bordering on sounding very snobbish, but I’m going to get worse, so if you’re getting put off by my tone or attitude now, just move on, cause I’m about to get much worse.

OK, I kept following this person, remaining friendly, but getting increasingly annoyed, as they had no basis whatsoever for passing themself off as an expert in anything regarding publishing. None. However, just two or three years ago, I started seeing a few other people writing similar blogs. To my horror. On how to write novels. On how to write sci fi. On how to write horror. On how to get published. On how to get an agent. On the best publishers to pursue. And not ONE of them had ever had one single book published! Indeed, most — the vast majority — never even had an article, essay, poem, short story, novel excerpt — anything — published at all! That’s not ballsy, that’s galling! Fast forward. Go anywhere on Facebook or Twitter or any blogging site now and you’ll find what I see now every single day, and that is a Twitter feed or a FB fan page dedicated to some “writer” who dispenses wisdom and advice left and right, yet who has NEVER PUBLISHED ANYTHING IN THEIR DAMN LIVES!!! Excuse me, but WTF???

1) What gives these assholes the right to even THINK they can be viewed as experts and should be writing advice blogs, etc.? None of them are even successful at what they’re advising others on! Hell, if they followed their own advice, based on their personal results, they’d never get published and would remain frustrated novelist wannabees, which actually, is exactly the case.

2) Why would anyone listen to a literal non-expert, an anti-expert even, give advice on something they’re totally inexperienced at, a failure at, or have no idea what their talking about in general? The thing that has shocked me is how — and why??? — so many of the people develop large followings!!! I actually intentionally follow one of these people on Twitter. Recent college grad. Knows everything. Working on a novel. Soon to be as successful as Anne Rice of Steven King. Developed a huge following and even a FB fan page. And yet, she has NEVER published a damn thing in her young life!!! WTF???

3) If an aspiring writer were seeking writing and publishing advice, and seriously at that, why on earth would they go to an utter novice, if not a downright failure? Why wouldn’t they seek out experienced, successful veterans for literal, real world advice based on hard work, knowledge and success? I honestly do not understand. Yet I’m apparently in the minority on this, because in my exploring my new blogging world here on WordPress, I was saddened and then irritated to find So.Many.”Writers.”Giving.Writing/Publishing.Advice.Who’d.Never.Published.Anything.In.Their.Lives!!! Again, but WTF?

Listen to me people, especially those of you who think I sound an awful lot like some stuck up asshole right about now. I own a car. It needs servicing sometimes. When I go to the garage, I don’t tell the mechanic – who is trained and experienced – how to do his job, nor do I advise him on it. I furthermore don’t go into the waiting lounge and tell everyone else there how to get their cars fixed. Nor do I go online and dispense mechanical advice. I don’t do this because I don’t know what the fuck I’m talking about, I’ve never done it before, and I leave the expertise to those who are actual experts. I also don’t assume others out there will want to come listen to me or read my advice on mechanics or advice on how to get their cars serviced or fixed, etc., cause I’m not enough of an idiot or asshole to assume I know what I’m talking about when I don’t, and frankly, I probably wouldn’t think too much of anyone who wanted MY input or advice on something I’d never done before! Isn’t that logical? It sure is to me. Ditto lawyers, doctors, stock brokers, etc. I went to law school, did you know that? I HATED it and dropped out before finishing (although I do have three other degrees in other areas). I’m not arrogant enough to sit here and pretend to be a legal expert and dispense legal advice on a blog or on Twitter or to even think about establishing some FB fan page. And if I did do that, it would not only be a disservice to those poor saps listening to me, but an absolute deep sign of disrespect to those actual lawyers out there who busted their asses putting in the time and hard work and competing with each other to actually succeed at their vocation. Doesn’t that make sense??? It does to me.

IMO, the same can and should hold true to writers. I’ve had 15 books published. I’ve had zillions of poems, short stories, essays, articles, etc., etc., published in hundreds of magazines in at least 26 countries and five languages. Because of this, I’m a longtime member of PEN and the Authors Guild, which are discriminating organizations, in that not everyone who writes a poem or manuscript can join or can/will be invited to join. You have to have proven yourself; you have to have accomplished something (ie, having had a book published, at a minimum).

Let me tell you something else. I didn’t go to college, get my English degree, sit down for the summer and type out “x” number of words per day for three months and then declare my novel finished and ready for obvious and immediate publication. Cause that’s not how it works for most anyone in the Real World. (Idiots!) After I got my undergrad degree, I moved from Knoxville TN to Phoenix to become a “writer.”  I learned quite quickly, as I was blissfully naive — like so many apparently are — that you have to sell a hell of a lot of poems and stories in order to survive as a writer! Indeed, if you don’t know this, you should, but the vast, vast majority of magazines — especially in America — don’t pay anything! You only get a contributor copy. (I’ve always had good luck with Irish and Australian magazines, in terms of them paying actual money…) So, this became my life, because I was dedicated to my craft. I found a job working at an insurance company. 12 hours a day, six days a week, plus one Sunday a month. Basically 12 hours a day for about 28 days a month. For $5.56 an hour. With my proud new English degree in hand. And it was a recession, so I was frankly glad to have a damn job! I worked my freaking ASS off 12 hours a day, 28 days a month for slave wages, and then I went back to my shithole apartment in the ghetto (cause $5.56/hour doesn’t go far), and I wrote. I wrote for a minimum of two hours per night, and then prepared submissions to magazines and publishers for an additional one hour minimum per night. My goal was 10 finished poems per night, 5 new magazine submissions per night — minimum. And those three hours of my night dedicated to honing my craft, at becoming a writer, at succeeding, at becoming published — those three hours were minimum!!! I can’t tell you how many times I stayed up for many, many hours writing and writing and writing, so that I got perhaps three hours of sleep per night, over and over. Yet during this time, I was writing hundreds of poems, some short stories, a few articles, etc., and I had my work submitted out to well over 100 magazines at any given time, and I kept seriously anal records of my submissions, because I also learned quite quickly how you can get blacklisted if you screw up (ie, send out simultaneous submissions and having the same work appear in two magazines simultaneously — yeah, that’s MAJOR and, yeah, a lot of “writers” don’t bother thinking about that…). So, I worked 12 hour days 28 days a month, and I wrote what was more realistically for about 5+ hours a day, seven days a week, holidays included, and I did this for DECADES!!! Even some years later, when I moved over to L.A. to go to grad school, cause I was sick of living in the ghetto and working for $5.56 an hour, even when I was a full time grad school student paying out of state tuition which required me to work THREE part time jobs of up to 20 hours each (such as tutoring in the writing lab), AND teaching writing classes (plural, not just one per semester) AND doing volunteer work to give myself legitimate resume “fodder” (ie, volunteer copy editing for the local newspaper), AND while I was in the process of getting married and all that entails, AND while I was finding the time and energy to go out partying with my new grad school pals, I STILL committed myself to writing a minimum of three hours a day, seven days a week, always and forever, so that two years later, when I graduated as the top student at the largest university in the state of California, complete with my 4.0 GPA, my scholarships, my grants, my teaching experience, my publishing and newspaper experience, my acceptances into four PhD programs complete with free rides (which I sadly did not take advantage of), I was perhaps most proud of the fact that I had by then had a solid 5 collections of poems published, all due to my busting my freakin ass every single day, about 35 hours a day (or so it seemed), and not taking anything for granted. I busted my freaking ASS! Fast forward. Good work, good job, good pay. Long hard hours. Including one still famous 150+ hour week I put in to win my company a contract resulting in 225,000 new immediate customers in one day! (I slept for one hour/night under my desk.) I just about killed myself doing that, and you know what? All that time (except for that 150 hour week) I put in my three hours of writing — minimum — per day, seven days a week. 10 poems a day, 5 new magazine submissions a day. I’m going to stop now, cause I hope you’re getting the picture. I did this every single day for some 15 straight years, and I have never pretended to be the best poet or writer out there — I know I’m not — but I’ll be damned if anyone was going to outwork me because I was determined to do whatever it took to become as good a writer as possible AND as successful (if publishing is your measuring stick) a writer as possible. So, I’ve put in my dues. And I’ve been very successful. And I know how to get published. I’m a better “getting published” writer than actual writer, if that makes any sense.

So, the question I’ve been asking myself is this. Why in the HELL would anyone, anywhere on earth want to willingly subscribe to blogs or follow tweets by twits passing themselves off as writing “experts” when so many of them have not accomplished a single thing of their own? Why aren’t they seeking successful writers out, like myself (but please don’t — that’s NOT an open invite!) and others who have labored under extreme conditions to achieve the level of expertise and success that they have? I don’t want legal advice from a law school drop out. I don’t want stock market advice from some ponzi schemer. Why do you want writing and publishing advice from a total loser? A failure? A reject? What’s the damn point? Where’s the logic behind that? Frankly, I’m at the point now where I do indeed get extremely insulted when I come across the blogs and websites of these so-called writers who claim to be writers based solely on the fact that they have written a manuscript — unpublished (or, now some of them are “real” writers because they do have books out — self-published on Lulu or other places, places where they haven’t had to compete against others, where they haven’t had to prove themselves and their talent — how convenient…) — where they have the audacity to pass themselves off not only as a writing/publishing “expert” but even as a writer in general. Cause I’d wager that, oh, about 100% of them have NOT put in the efforts I have, or even substantial efforts others have, who ARE successful and who have paid their dues and who do know what the hell they’re talking about! Yeah, it’s insulting to me and to my sacrifices I’ve made for decades, some of which are quite possibility contributing to seriously deteriorating health. I’ve frankly driven myself way too hard for far too long and while I have been successful, I’m now at a point where I’m weighing things in my mind — was it worth it? Was it worth these illnesses, these health “problems,” this quite likely shortened lifespan. And I’ve got to say, most of the time I say yes, it was worth it. And I’m sorry, but I am NOT going to give these fuckers who haven’t done crap in their lives to merit anything at all a free pass to allow them to have the nerve to give writing and publishing advice when I have dedicated and quite possibly even ultimately given my very life for my craft, for my vocation, for my profession, for my passion — not some damn hobby I take up during the fucking summer one year so that I can now say I Know It All and I’ll impart my wisdom to thousands of others. Yeah, it’s insulting. So, if anyone out there reads this and if you are man or woman enough to admit you are guilty of perpetuating this type of fraud, please stop to consider things, and please start to consider maybe putting in just one third of the time and effort I have over my lifetime to pay my freakin’ dues and to achieve success in this field. Please stop turning a cute little summer hobby where you have tortured your fingers by typing (I wrote longhand…) a few hours a day into some appearance of expertise and success.  Cause that’s bullshit. If you’re remotely capable of honesty, you’ll admit that and do more actual writing and do less writing ABOUT writing.

I guess that’s my rant for the day.

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New Poetry at Ray’s Road Review!

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 27, 2011

Hey poetry lovers: the literary publication for which I am the poetry editor — Ray’s Road Review — has just published several poems by noted poet and author, Clifton Snider.  Very glad to have him on board.  Please go check his poems out at:  http://raysroadreview.com/poetry-2/clifton-snidor/ and while there, read Val Nieman’s poems in the current issue too.  If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also check out the archives, where the Spring issue’s poets are hiding — Alan Catlin, Corey Mesler, and Lisa Zaran.  Hey, check out ALL of the stuff in the mag — fiction, nonfiction, poetry and photography.  Then, feel free to consider submitting something of your own!  (Oh, maybe you could pass this announcement on to others who might be interested.  Thanks.)

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