Latino Literature, Writing

Building A Writing Portfolio One Story at a Time
An Anthology of Poetry and Prose, Harvard College Press

Once in a while, one of my mom’s stories gets a hold of me and begs to be written. A few months ago, she told me of an experience she had. She saw spirits.

I wrote a blog post about it, but her story was more than seeing ghosts.  It’s what the story meant to her which begged for a longer look.

The idea of life and death, the spirit realm, and Mexican culture inspired me to create a short story about Mom’s experience.

An example of an ofrenda for Dia De Los Muertos

A couple of months ago I read about a call for submissions for fiction, non-fiction, and poetry entries from a debuting literary magazine, Palabritas out of Harvard. There was no submission fee and the post said that an editor would assist in the rewrites. What did I have to lose, except another ‘no’ response? And from Harvard!

One of my writing goals is to submit stories for publication, once a year. My main goal is to submit my manuscripts. To date, my manuscripts have been ‘liked’ but not ‘loved’ enough for a lit agent to take a risk of offering their representation. 

Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.

George Orwell

So, submitting short stories are something I do to develop my writing skills and to keep up my motivation. Published short stories add to my writing portfolio and that’s a good thing. To date, I’ve had three short stories published.

Short stories are a good way to write within a framework of an established work count, learn how to trim the fat and I do love receiving free feedback from an editor.

I took a chance and rewrote the blog post about Mom seeing ghosts and developed it into a short story.  Lucky was born.

On the day I posted, on a couple of Facebook groups I belong too, about how bad I felt from rejections of my manuscript,  along came an acceptance letter for Lucky.

The letter pulled me out of the doldrums and reinvigorated me. The editor requested revisions (twice) and the story was accepted. Last week the anthology was published. 

Yes, my story published, in a book, very nicely formatted and with a cover as you can see up there at the top. 

I’m so excited to be in this anthology alongside excellent poets and writers. It is these events that keep me going-and writing- for the long haul.

One of these days, one of my novels will be published. And I’ll celebrate and take a picture of that cover too. 

Chingonas, Strong Women, Wisdom, Writing

Five Steps to Finding the Right Publisher

AROHO Foundation

My cell phone screen saver has the dramatic backdrop of the mountains and mesas surrounding Ghost Ranch, just to cheer me up. I still have the AROHO retreat on the mind and the spirit of the women I met in my heart.

These women are “chingonas” “strong women,” in my book. They’re not strong because they were born that way, or Superwomen, but rather they became strong through failure, weakness, trials, and experiences that would defeat many. They learned from these challenges, gathered knowledge along the way, and shared that wisdom with others. That’s what makes them “chingonas.”

What I learned through these women helps me touch my AROHO experience and I hope assists you in some small way.

Each day we chose to attend 15 minute “Mind Stretches.” These were discussions on topics exploring craft, creative process, issues personal to women and publishing. Several of my past posts had to do with the craft of writing, such as Writing on the Edge but today’s post is about publishing.

“You think finding the right partner is a problem? Try finding the right publisher.” Kate Gale

This quote gives you a little insight into the witty personality and honesty of Kate Gale, PhD.  She is Managing Editor of Red Hen Press, Editor of the Los Angeles Review , Past President of PEN and President of the American Composers Forum, LA. She serves on the boards of A Room of Her Own Foundation and Poetry Society of America. She is author of five books of poetry and six librettos including Rio de Sangre, with composer Don Davis.

Kate Gale-Writer, Poet, Publisher
Kate Gale-Writer, Poet, Publisher

Kate’s bio shows us that the woman knows what she’s talking about when it involves writers, poets, and publishing. Her insights into the world of writers is priceless:

“…the most difficult part in getting one’s work out into the world is that you are a cave dweller if you are a writer. You have to come out of your cave, understand the world of editing, publishing, publicity, social media, and you have to talk to people. And you don’t know how. So you go back into the cave angry. And emerge later. Telling people how you aren’t appreciated. That doesn’t make them love you more. You start to seem misanthropic. Writers can be fun. Funny and fun. There is a lot you can learn from writers. About patience mostly.”

Now go grab a pen and notebook, it’s time for some interactive work to help you find the right publisher.

Answers these five questions:

  1. Who are you? Come on you can list more than three items. What are you passionate about? Keep writing until you get to the heart of you.
  2. What does  your story (novel, memoir, poem) want to say? What is your message? Keep writing until you find some universal themes.
  3. Who are the writers in your tribe (genre of writing)?
  • List 5-10 writers you love to read in your genre of writing (most of them have to had published in the last five years). Let’s say the writers/books you write about and love are in the historical fiction genre. Now:
  • What regional, national associations in this genre do you belong to?
  • Have you attended conferences, workshops, seminars in this genre?
  • Do you attend readings in this genre?

4.  Once you find your tribe (in #3), you need to find out how to open and get inside that door. The people you meet should be part of the tribe.

5.  Form connections with authors, editors, agents, publishers you meet in these settings.

  • Meet them one on one. Step out of your comfort zone.
  • Let them know how much their reading, presentation, or book meant to you.
  • Once inside the door, make yourself useful. Volunteer, hold an office, contribute in some way. Be a literary citizen.

Did you fill up at least one side of your paper? If you did, you’re on your way to finding the right publisher for your work. It’s a difficult road to walk as a writer, but with guidance it may be a whole lot easier. Happy travels and happier writing.