Still 25%

I retrieved A Midsummer Tale entries for Theryn yesterday. What happens is that an editor who isn’t a judge of a particular contest gets the entries for the judge(s). Usually Theryn does this but since she judges AMT, another editor removes the identifying info from submissions and puts them into a Google Drive folder to share with her.

We had a round number and large pool of submissions so I could do some math off the top of my head when gathering the entries. Like I wrote about in my recent editorial, we had a contest entry from a female author which included a cover letter claiming we would delete and disregard the entry, which the author believed we wouldn’t like. Not true. Never true.

Beyond that, a simple count proved my ongoing statement that simply following directions gets you ahead of 25% of contest entries. With AMT 2017, 24% of entries were disqualified for being attachments. Some of the entrants who had attached entries said in their cover letters that they had found us on a contest listing site — which we love to hear — but then they didn’t read our all-caps NO ATTACHMENTS demand, maybe because they didn’t visit our site.

If we also DQed the stories that didn’t tell us whether the story was fiction or creative non-fiction, we would have between 5-10 stories left. Out of the original number of submissions, that’s tragic.

I found several entries that followed all of the guidelines, especially near the end of the submissions. This made me very happy. I love knowing that there are plenty of writers out there who were willing to jump through our hoops (as some writers have replied when receiving rejections).

All we want is for a story to stay inside the word count parameters, fit the theme, come in on time, and not have any attachments. It goes without saying that simultaneous submissions are also a no-no. Those might be “hoops” but they’re low-standing giant hula hoops, not elevated, flaming, oscillating hoops that are the size of an earring.

FWIW our entries came from all around the world. That’s something else I love to see.

Keep writing, keep submitting, and read the rules!

Into the garbage chute, fly boy

“Oh! This’ll impress you – I’m actually in the Abnormal Psychology textbook. Obviously my family is so proud. Keep in mind though, I’m a PEZ dispenser and I’m in the abnormal psychology textbook.

Who says you can’t have it all?”


With being sick since mid November, the holidays, and all things political and pop culture making the news, I’d forgotten about the essay I wrote for the December issue of TCLJ: Strive Toward the Light.

I knew what I wanted to write and once I got the structure set up, the essay worked. I sent it to Theryn around the 29th and hoped that her suggested changes would be few, both because of the time involved and because I hoped that it would be good enough. Her only comment was that she was glad I’d written it.

I assumed that it was the topic: one where we fall on the same side of the political divide. Then when I saw it posted, I remembered: I had written an ode to Princess Leia.

What I put in the article was true: she was my first heroine. I saw a woman on the screen, not much older than I was, who was leading a rebellion. Who looked at evil and didn’t blink. Who showed the slightest fear only when alone in a prison cell with a group of males wielding a torture device. That was the kind of girl I wanted to be.

Of course I had other heroines, some fictional (Wonder Woman) and some real (Gloria Steinem; I gave inspiring women’s lib speeches to the empty living room while pounding the coffee table) but none ever quite lived up to Leia. I was Leia for Halloween; I never went as Steinem, although that would’ve been awesome.

Continue reading


As I read the last batch of May submissions for Toasted Cheese, I was moved to tweet about what I was reading:

PLEASE grammar-/spell-check what you submit for publication. No matter how good it is, at a certain point I say “enough” w/errors #amediting

Another tip for #submissions: don’t use unreadable/small font in the body of your submission. We read on mobile devices ya know. #amediting

Given the volume of #submissions that @toasted_cheese receives, we can’t give feedback. We do have free forums for fb. #amwriting #amediting

Please don’t quote “Aladdin” in your fiction like it’s original. Esp when it’s a good story & you don’t need to do it. #amwriting #amediting

We also had a writer ask us not to notify her if the submission was rejected. That’s not our policy. You will always be notified about the status of your submission. I tweeted about that one when I saw it and linked to our piece about writing fears.

Except for the last one, these are things I see very commonly in submissions (several each month). As for the last one, I’ve caught people lifting from films, books, history, you name it. It only really bugs me when the story is strong and doesn’t need the crutch. For the record, the piece that used the Aladdin line (with one noun switch), made my shortlist. I wonder if the writer even realizes it happened.

I had a really high percentage of submissions make my first cut (just over 40%) and there’s usually a second cut before the month’s notification letters are sent out (once Theryn and I confer on our picks). Because we have a new issue this month, we’ll send notifications for the previous month’s submissions ASAP, which may be a little later to your inbox than we like. But we’re working on it very hard.

Damn, that’s a line from Amadeus.