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Blog | February 12, 2015

Book Review Lessons #6 by Lucy Biederman

For my final column, I will offer some suggestions for moving forward from publishing your first or your first few book reviews, and some general thoughts on book reviewing.

This week in my online travels I discovered some items of interest for book reviewers: a searchable feature on Poets and Writers for book review markets, and some advice for the prospective book reviewer at Queen Mob’s Teahouse from the dependably excellent Reb Livingston.

And here are two stray thoughts, that didn’t seem to merit entire columns of their own, but that I think are important nonetheless:

If someone sends you a review copy, you are

Blog | February 5, 2015

Book Review Lessons #5: Morality and the Reviewer by Lucy Biederman

The first poetry reviews I published were at a review blog. The last review I wrote for the site was for a poetry book that had received unilaterally glowing reviews. There were things I loved about the book, and things I had reservations and questions about. I was honest in my review: I pointed out what I didn’t like about the book in addition to adding to the praise it had received elsewhere.

The morning the review went up, the author of the book sent me a friends request on Facebook. No sooner had I accepted the request did the author write on my wall telling me, in no uncertain

Blog | February 3, 2015

Notes From Elsewhere: The Cost of Writing, Harper Lee + More

Greetings, Rioters. This week is primarily about the struggle and the hustle within our writing lives, but we’ve got some fun stuff too. Let’s get started.

Seems like everyone has thoughts on the Ann Bauer Salon essay about how her husband supports her writing life. Me? Here’s the short version: Chronic illnesses prevent me from holding a “regular” job, so I’m working around my health instead of a 9-5. The mister, who also does various creative things (including writing), is the one who has to work full-time (and then some) to support us and our two kids — for not a lot of

Blog | January 29, 2015

Book Review Lessons #4 by Lucy Biederman

The good thing about sending out a book review for possible publication is that the rejection rate for book reviews is very low. There have been some strange publication scenarios (which I will go into next week) and very strong editing suggestions, but of the dozens of reviews I have submitted, none has ever gotten outright rejected (yet). Editors of literary journals usually seem excited to get a book review, and they are often looking to add a new book reviewer to their regular stable of reviewers.

So where do you send your review? One possibility is to send it to a journal or site that has already

Blog | January 22, 2015

Book Review Lessons #3 by Lucy Biederman

Some of Henry James’s first publications were book reviews in the North American Review and the Nation, and, though he didn’t even receive a byline, it was probably clear to anyone who read them that these were composed by no ordinary brain. As James’s great biographer Leon Edel puts it, “The young critic was not intimated by greatness. What is important for him is his search for a viable theory of fiction.”

One of the many reasons I look up to James as a reviewer is because he could not be intimidated—not by greatness (Dickens), or friendship (William Dean Howells), popularity (Harriet Beecher Stowe), or notoriety

Blog | January 21, 2015

Notes From Elsewhere: National Readathon Day + Shedloads of Wisdom

Shedloads of Wisdom: That’s what we all want, right? A bit of wisdom in our lives, particularly when it pertains to our profession? Let’s get right into this week’s Notes From Elsewhere, Rioters.

This Saturday is National Readathon Day, where people are encouraged to make time to read from noon-4pm in their respective time zones. There’s a charitable element as well, if you’re interested. Or if you need an excuse for telling your household to leave you alone for four hours: “It’s for a good cause!”

How about some essays?

I really enjoyed “Changeling” by Stephen Policoff at The Rumpus about health, myth, and when

Blog | January 16, 2015

Book Reviewing Lessons #2 by Lucy Biederman

Welcome back to Book Reviewing Lessons. If all went according to plan this week, you have selected a book to review. If not, don’t panic. Since last week, I thought of two other ways to find books to review:

The websites of independent bookstores often have Staff Picks, or tend to highlight interesting small press books. Or you might have chapbooks lying around that you bought out of guilt, social pressure, or confusion, and have never gotten around to reading. Chapbooks seem to have a longer statute of limitations when it comes to reviews, so even if the chapbooks in your possession were published several years ago, look

Blog | January 12, 2015

Five Reasons Writers Hate List Articles by Christopher Dale

For about a year now, I’ve been writing essays and articles — generally between 1,000-2,000 words — and am fortunate to have enjoyed some initial success placing them. To build upon this momentum, I decided to try my hand at a few list articles. “There’s certainly a market for it,” I reasoned. “The damn things are everywhere.”

Somewhere between numbers 6 and 7 of the resulting “Top Ten Ways to Use Facebook to Actually Strengthen Friendships,” I felt like I was typing in mud. Despite knowing it would almost certainly get placed somewhere (and it did), I absolutely hated it. I felt like

Blog | January 8, 2015

[New Column!] Book Reviewing Lessons by Lucy Biederman

When I was young and knew very little, on my first attempt to get an MFA in creative writing, a professor rounded up us unpublished grad students and lobbed at us what was intended to be an insider tip: “Write book reviews.” It’s easier to publish book reviews than it is to publish creative work, he explained, and that way you get your foot in the door.

I puzzled over this advice for literally years. How do you just “write book reviews”? Choosing an appropriate book to review (and do you buy it? Do you ask the publisher for a review copy?), writing the review in

Blog | January 4, 2015

Notes From Elsewhere: 2014 Lists, Writer Profiles + More

Greetings all! And Happy New Year. Why don’t we round up a few End of 2014 lists that caught my eye? Besides those, we’ve got a few other odds and ends, so let’s get to it.

At The Butter, Roxane Gay has “An Incomplete List of Interesting Moments From 2014 Reviews, Profiles, Etc.”

I always enjoy reading The Millions’ Year in Reading series, and Garth Risk Hallberg’s contribution this year is not only full of interesting-sounding books, but it’s a lovely tribute to his father.

Carolyn at Autostraddle has a great list of Top 10 Queer and Feminist Books of 2014, including Janet Mock, Daisy Hernández, and Women in

Blog | December 17, 2014

“Dear Writing” by Matt Pucci

Dear Writing,

Don’t take this wrong, but… well… sometimes I really hate you.

For a start, you force me to get me up, every morning—way earlier than anyone in their right mind would want to get up—sniff through the pile of clothes by my bed, get dressed and walk to a nearby café, where I’ll spend the next few hours in your company. You make me sit down, which is bad for my health, apparently. You make me drink coffee, which stains my teeth and sends me a bit loopy if I have too much. (Okay, you don’t make me

Blog | December 16, 2014

Notes From Elsewhere: Good Essays, Call For Writers + More

Submit through here.

Hello Rioters! Happy… Tuesday? Yeah, why not! Tuesday, December 16th seems like just as good of a day as any to celebrate, so let’s get to our first order of business for the Word Riot blog.

As charmingly old news as you may find my infrequent Notes From Elsewhere updates, it’s not entirely the Sara Show around here, and we’re looking to expand the blog.

How the blog shapes up around here will likely be an evolving process, but use the above link to either submit original content or pitch any ideas you have for ongoing

Blog | December 6, 2014

Notes From Elsewhere: Writing PoC, eComics, Submissions + More

Greetings, Rioters. If you’re out protesting this weekend, try to stay safe. Let’s jump right into some reading material that caught my attention over the past few weeks, shall we?

Speaking Ferguson, here are two poems by Danez Smith: “Not An Elegy For Mike Brown” and “Alternate Names for Black Boys.”

You may have heard through writers like Ashley Ford and Maureen Johnson that the Ferguson library stayed open even when the schools were closed, and that they were short on funds. Within just a few days, people donated over $175,000 to the library, and they are now able to hire another full-time staff member.

Blog | November 7, 2014

Notes From Elsewhere: Quick Bookish Links for Your Weekend

Hello friends! Just a few links to see you into your weekend because I’m behind on life and haven’t been reading as much as I’d like to be. Nevertheless, let’s get to it.

Roxane Gay is the judge for this year’s Kore Press Short Fiction Award. The deadline is February 15, 2015.

And in longform nonfiction news, Jill Abramson is forming a startup company with Steven Brill:

Writers will be paid advances around $100,000 to produce stories that will be longer than long magazine articles but shorter than books, she said. There will be “one perfect whale of a story” each

Blog | October 24, 2014

Notes From Elsewhere: Small Press News, Feminist Reading + More

We have a lot of kick-ass ladies and reading suggestions in this Notes From Elsewhere, so let’s get to it, and then you can go back to sorting your Halloween plans.

Speaking of Halloween, would you like some spooooooky stories to read? Emily Temple at Flavorwire has a shedload for you.

Also at Flavorwire: 28 Feminist Writers on Books Every Man Should Read. (Also, people in general, I would venture.)

And from Alison Herman: “‘Women as Supporting Characters Is a Problem:’ NY Comic Con Panels Take on Strong Female Characters and Trans Themes.”

And speaking of writing about women, let me squeeze in another mention of my favorite