Thursday, August 28, 2008

First Book Contest Scamming Stacey Lynn Brown

I heard about Stacey Lynn Brown's fiasco with a first book contest when she contacted me directly at my non-profit press, C&R Press, to see if we would be interested in helping out. We have a full schedule of authors already set to go for the next 12 months. Our first DeNovo winner, Michelle Bitting's Good Friday Kiss. Our 2007 Open Series winner, Jon Veinberg's The Speed Limit of Clouds. Our first anthology, Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes. And we're already taking submissions for the 2008 DeNovo (first book) contest as well as the 2008 Open Series. Plus even though we're not actually asking for unsolicited work, it's coming in by the truckloads and some of it is so good, it's hard to say no too, even though we're not yet operating in the black.

But we were moved by her story, and most importantly, moved by her fine book which already came with terrific blurbs from Naomi Shihab Nye, Major Jackson, and Rodney Jones (which we will use in full, without rearranging, cutting, or altering in any way). In short, we're taking it and we'll squeeze it into our already overburdened schedule in order to have it out around January 2009 such that she doesn't have to cancel her readings and other engagements that were made back when she thought her prize-winning book was coming out. She's incredibly brave for taking on a publisher--any publisher--in the small po-biz world where it feels like the poet has a water pistol and the editors have M-60s. And I feel incredibly lucky that my press was recommended to her and that she felt good enough about C&R Press to trust us with Cradle Song, a powerful work that we are proud to publish, promote, and support.

Thank you Stacey.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

MIA for too long

Geez, you'd think moving wouldn't take it out of you for a month, but it does. The good news is that I've been writing a lot. The bad news is that it isn't working out. The project? A historically-based poetry book with persona poems. I had about fifty-five pages done but decided it simply wasn't coming together as much as I'd like. A few years ago, I'd have made the book work, or at least put enough time into it to make it "work." These days? I don't know if it's publishing sense, maturity, practicality, or something else, but I'm okay now with trashing it. I used to be desperately in love with every word I wrote. Now? I freed up some hard drive space and felt good about it.

Try it yourself. Take a piece of writing that isn't going well and trash it. Crumple it into a ball and throw it at the furthest trash can you can see. Or put the file in a folder marked "Do Not Open Until Xmas." Or delete it.

Don't be afraid to start over. Don't be afraid to try something new. If you're not failing often, you probably aren't taking any risks in your writing.