If BlackDenimLit had a VIDA count…

Since we are so small, we’re not part of the VIDA count, but we intend to pay attention to this important metric. If you are a woman in the literary arts, please know that we are listening. Here is where we are at as of the “acceptances sent” from 2/21/14 through 5/5/14:

stats

Progress?

  • May 5, 2014: 19.23% cumulative for 2014 Yes~!
  • Apr 9, 2014: 15.79% cumulative for 2014

Call to Action~!

As always, we are calling women for and and at

Dear Writer, OMG, That happened?? Most uninteresting, try again. J/K, we’re really just mean editors. Go away.

So many writers draw on what they know and then are trapped by it, failing to use it as inspiration to get on with it–to get to the good part. Successful fiction has thought of any reader questions and already answers the ones that are worth answering.

Let’s say two editors read the new Ken Liu piece from the slush pile and are amazed. They both approve the award-winning author’s latest and, still on a high, move to the next piece. This one is by another of their favorite authors, who (for the purpose of this fictitious exercise) is fictitious. Unlike Ken Liu. Soon the editors are perplexed over this new piece about “Tim, the Boy Who Thought About the Circus.”

The first editor has questions by the end of the piece, about the character. The facts are all here. But when does this take place? Had the circus ever been around before? Was the strong man really gay? Why were there hyenas but not tigers? What did it all smell like? Didn’t Tim get dust in his eye? Did he want to join? Did he have any empathy for the poor animals or maybe the carnies? Did they really have small hands (the carnies)? Would it be better if one escapes (the animals)? Maybe leaves a scar? Maybe a carny leaves a scar? Is it ‘carny’ or ‘carney’…?

So much for the first addled editor.

The second editor reads all about Tim, but instead thinks, “Boy, that Ken guy is an awesome writer… I bet he gets all the girls.” And then he votes Tim off the table completely.

As an author, you got one shot with a reader. Don’t waste it. If you haven’t worked out the reader experience–anticipated reader questions and answer the ones that are worth answering–by the time you submit it, your story is probably a miss.

Is there worthwhile genre literature?

Absolutely. Purists can try to pigeonhole genre fiction, but in the end successful material both speaks to human condition and resonates with the reader. Writers like Ken Liu are injecting fresh authenticity into a medium that, frankly, on the genre side can trend to the silly and on the literature side can appear introspective and stuffy. In the end, if a writer offers something of lasting artistic merit then we’ll read it, genre or not.

Just like Lily

Re-reading http://treehousemag.com/2013/11/25/just-like-lily/ from Susan Rukeyser. I appreciate the economy and elegance of the portrait made “for Frida” Kahlo. Lily lives in the ideal, “everything contained” even anger, but finds that there is a outside that, unlike the artist, she is free to access. Highly recommended.

Treehouse

Susan Rukeyser

for Frida

The Broken Column

Every day, Lily’s kidnappers left food on the table. Today was a small stack of tamales, each wrapped and tied in corn husk, and guava nectar in a glass greased with fingerprints. Next to the food, as always, was the book. On the day she was locked in here, a note on the book said: OPEN. But she didn’t, not until today.

For the first few days of her captivity, Lily rarely left the mattress. She thought she’d been drugged. She fell into blurry sleep, then soundless black, free of memory. Surfacing at last, as if from underwater, she saw another note near the book: SPEAK.

Today Lily sat at the table and considered the blue walls. They reminded her of the view from her childhood bedroom, its glimpse of the Long Island Sound. Those were noisy years, her parents’ arguments drowning out all else. Some…

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Another loss means nothing. Give me your worst, life. I can take it.

I did not win a competition in which 25 winners were selected from 6000 entrants. Less than half a percent chance. You know what? There are 5975 people who can say the same thing. You know what we’ll be doing tonight? Writing.

Editor Feedback

Write down what your reader needs, no more, no less. Reading should be textured, but not obscure. Henry James could make an entire paragraph out of a single sentence. The reader is completely sensory deprived of the story until the words show the way. If a reader were practiced, then James’ prose could be followed and appreciated for its economy and elegance.

First issue is ready~!

For your consideration, we’ve completed our first issue of the online magazine, “Black Denim Lit,” offering one story to start off the monthly schedule. We plan twice-annual print anthologies. The cover page is here: online with direct links to the story here: [ Online | PDF | EPUB | MOBI ] … Enjoy.

Welcome~!

About: Black Denim Lit welcomes thoughtful writers, new and established. Open to genre fiction but favor “Literary, Non-Genre” & “Sci-Fi/Fantasy” Visit http://www.bdlit.com
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Mission: Why “Black Denim”…? In work clothes, black denim is a less pretentious than khaki and more understated than blue jeans. This typifies the tone of writing style that appeals to us: grounded, approachable and unassuming. Don’t get us wrong–bring the grit, complexity, humor and strength. We look at a lot of genre work after all. But our tastes consider that “lasting artistic merit” can emerge from almost anywhere.

Description: Black Denim Lit welcomes thoughtful writers, new and established. Without entering into a debate as to what qualifies as “literary,” we are looking for fiction up to 7,500 words that has unique and lasting artistic merit. We may consider novelettes up to 17,500 words on a case by case basis.