Category: On writing


Announcing our 2016 Siskiyou Prize judge!

By Midge Raymond,

We are delighted to announce our 2016 Siskiyou Prize judge: JoeAnn Hart.

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JoeAnn Hart is the author of two novels, Addled (Little Brown, 2007) and Float (Ashland Creek Press, 2013). Her essays, articles, and short fiction have appeared in a wide variety of literary journals and national publications, including Orion, NewfoundTerrain.org, and the Boston Globe Magazine. JoeAnn’s work has won a number of awards, including the PEN New England Discovery Award in Fiction.

JoeAnn’s work has been praised as “witty, profound, and beautifully observed” (Margot Livesey), “joyful and troubling, hilarious and somber, evocative, and introspective” (Necessary Fiction), and “very funny and very moving” (Booklist). Her novel Float, writes the Cape Ann Beacon, is “a stellar model of eco-literature.” JoeAnn is currently working on a play with strong environmental themes, and she is a contributor to EcoLit Books.

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The Siskiyou Prize will open on September 1, 2016, and will close on December 31. Please visit the Siskiyou Prize website for complete details.

Call for Submissions: Writing for Animals Nonfiction Anthology

By John Yunker,

Ashland Creek Press is currently accepting nonfiction submissions for a new anthology, Writing for Animals: An anthology for writers and instructors to educate and inspire.

From Franz Kafka’s Report to the Academy to Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are Completely Beside Ourselves, animals have played a central role in literature. Increasingly, writers are playing a central role in advancing awareness of animal issues through the written word.

And yet little has been written about the process of writing about animals—from crafting point of view to voice. Writers who hope to raise awareness face many questions and choices in their work, from how to educate without being didactic to how to develop animals as characters for an audience that still views them as ingredients. We hope to address these issues and more with a new collection of articles, by writers and for writers—but most of all, for the animals.

We seek articles from authors and educators about the process of writing about animals in literature.* Our focus is on including a mix of instructional and inspirational articles to help readers not only improve their work but be inspired to keep at it. Articles may be previously published and should not exceed 10,000 words.

There is no deadline at this time; we will accept submissions on a rolling basis until further notice. Accepted submissions will receive a stipend of $100 plus a copy of the finished book upon publication.

*Please note that this is a collection of instructional articles about the craft of writing. We will NOT be publishing animal stories or personal essays, only articles that deal specifically with the art and craft of writing about animals.

Areas of interest include:

  • Anthropomorphism and writing from the animal’s point of view
  • The rethinking of animal-centric idioms (such as “fish out of water” or “kill two birds with one stone”)
  • How to elevate animals from “set pieces” to “characters” in your writing
  • How to address violence toward animals
  • Animal rescue themes
  • Animals and “personhood”
  • The “animal turn” and what it means for animal-centric literature
  • Animals in children’s literature

For all submissions, please include (in a single document) the entire essay and an author bio listing all publishing credits, awards, and experience. Include a valid e-mail address, mailing address, and phone number.

And, just to be clear, we are not looking for essays about animals. We are looking for articles about writing about animals.

All submissions must be made using Submittable.

 

Cat Editors: Two ACP authors and their feline muses

By Midge Raymond,

Last year, I began a blog series called Cat Editors, after noticing that I am not the only writer with a feline companion who is always in the middle of the writing action. (Below is my editor and our General Manager, Theo.)

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Several of our beloved Ashland Creek Press authors also have cat editors — among them Mindy Mejia, author of The Dragon Keeper and the mystery novel EVERYTHING YOU WANT ME TO BE, forthcoming this November from Emily Bestler Books; and Jean Ryan, author of the story collection Survival Skills.

Click here to learn more about Mindy and and her hardworking editor Dusty:

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And click here to learn more about Jean and her devoted editor Tango:

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And, if you’re a writer with a cat editor in your life and you’d like to share the joy, feel free to send me a note!

Announcing the Siskiyou Prize winner and finalists

By Midge Raymond,

We are delighted to announce Jennifer Boyden has won the 2015 Siskiyou Prize for her novel THE CHIEF OF RALLY TREE.

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Of THE CHIEF OF RALLY TREE, judge Ann Pancake writes: “Inventive, smart, and often hilariously funny, The Chief of Rally Tree delivers a social critique both searing and sly.”

Jennifer Boyden is the author of two books of poetry, The Declarable Future (University of Wisconsin Press, 2013), winner of The Four Lakes Prize in Poetry; and The Mouths of Grazing Things (University of Wisconsin Press, 2010), winner of The Brittingham Prize in Poetry. She is a recipient of the PEN Northwest Wilderness Writing Residency and has taught writing and literature courses at a variety of places, including Suzhou University in China, The Sitka Center for Arts and Ecology, Whitman College, and at various workshops. On the faculty of Eastern Oregon University’s low-residency MFA program, Jennifer also works for an environmental nonprofit in the San Juan Islands. She lives in Friday Harbor, Washington.

The two prize finalists are the novel THE PLACE WITH NO NAME, by José María Merino, translated from the Spanish by Elizabeth Polli, and the essay collection THE SHAPE OF MERCY: ESSAYING THE GEOGRAPHY OF HOME by Alison Townsend.

The semifinalists are NOT TILL WE ARE LOST: REFLECTIONS ON EDUCATION, COMMUNICATION, AND SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION by William Homestead and THE PTEROPOD GANG by Nancy Lord.

The Siskiyou Prize is named for the Klamath-Siskiyou region of northern California and southern Oregon, one of the most diverse eco-regions in the world. The annual award is open to unpublished, full-length prose manuscripts, including novels, memoirs, short story collections, and essay collections. The winner receives a cash award of $1,000, a residency at PLAYA, and an offer of publication by Ashland Creek Press.

Thanks to all who submitted to the prize for your support of environmental literature. For more information, and to learn about next year’s prize, visit SiskiyouPrize.com.

How to get published

By Midge Raymond,

That’s a nice, attention-grabbing headline, but if course it’s nearly impossible to write a post that will fulfill this promise. That’s because every agent and every editor has his or her own interests, tastes, and moods — and a writer can never in a million years predict what those might be. As published writers know, what may be rejected by one editor is another’s dream novel, and vice versa.

I have noticed, however, over the years I’ve been an editor, that there are several reasons writers get rejected that have nothing to do with the writer or the writing, and these haven’t changed in the almost two decades I’ve been in publishing. I often find that among the best ways to learn about how to get published is to learn what not to do.

So here’s a handy list of what to avoid when you’re ready to seek an agent or publisher.

1. Inappropriate submissions. This may seem all too obvious, but it happens all the time. The number-one reason writers get rejected, whether by literary magazines or literary agents, is that they submit inappropriate material, such as sending fiction to a poetry magazine or a children’s book to an agent who doesn’t represent children’s books. Always do your research — it takes time, but in the end, it saves time. Even a quick visit to the Ashland Creek Press website reveals we seek work on the themes of the environment, ecology, and wildlife. Yet we still receive submissions that have nothing to do with our niche — including children’s books and poetry, which we specifically note we don’t publish. What this means is that a writer has spent a lot of time sending us something that will never get read — and this is time much better spent researching and sending work to someone who is actually able to consider it. (For some great advice from a literary agent’s POV, check out this interview with agent Lucy Carson.)

2. Not following guidelines. As writers ourselves, we know that guidelines can be extremely frustrating…it seems that every editor wants a different format (name on the first page only, name omitted from manuscript, numbers in the upper right corner, numbers on the lower left, and on and on). But guidelines exist for a reason, not just to drive writers insane. For example, our guidelines for the Among Animals short fiction anthology are pretty simple — we ask for stories within a specific theme and word count, and we aren’t fussy about the font or where your page numbers appear — and these guidelines aren’t random. We ask for short stories featuring animal-human interactions because that’s what the anthology is about. We ask for a certain word count because that fulfills our vision of the book. Still, we get emails from writers asking if they can submit nonfiction instead (to which we must say no — not to be difficult but because it’s an anthology of fiction), or if stories can be longer or shorter than our guidelines (to which we say yes — we’re glad to read your very short story or your very long one, but we will warn you that it may not be the right fit, given what our vision is).

3. Being unprofessional. Don’t, for example, address an editor with “Yo” (yes, this has actually happened to us). We’re actually pretty easily amused, so stuff like this doesn’t bother us much — but I’m guessing this would cause a great many busy editors and agents to hit the delete button automatically (and who can blame them?). Take the extra thirty seconds to find an editor’s or agent’s name, and use it rather than “Dear Editor” or “Yo.” It shows us that you’ve taken the time to figure out who we are, and this makes us want to spend the time getting to know who you are.

4. Sloppy work. The best submissions are a writer’s best work — and this is something that’s always obvious right off the bat. It’s easy to tell when a writer has submitted a first draft; it reads like one. So be sure that your project is not only complete but edited, polished, and represents the very best you have to offer. Many editors and agents are happy to read another draft, if they’re intrigued enough by what you submit, but often you only have one chance to make a good impression, so take your time.

5. Impatience. Again, as writers ourselves, we submit to journals, agents, and editors — and then we wait. And wait. And often wait some more. It’s what writers do. Please try to understand that editors and agents often receive thousands of submissions every week, and imagine trying to stay on top of that amount of email (or regular mail). It’s overwhelming. As a very small press, we are always overwhelmed, which is why we warn writers that submissions often several months to review. So when you submit, always check to see if editors or agents indicate response times in their guidelines, and then be patient. Don’t send follow-up emails unless you’ve waited well past the normal response time, and if you do follow up, be kind and polite and understanding when you inquire about the status of your work. Publishing is, in so many ways, a business based on relationships, and as a writer you’ll want to be known as someone who’s not only professional but personable.

There are so many other factors that go in to getting published — among them great writing, the right market, a good platform, and pure luck — and writers only have control of some of these things. But one thing we all have the power to do is to respect the time of those who are reading our work … and this can take you a good part of the way.