Maria Berardi’s work has appeared in local and national magazines and online (13 Magazine, Voca Femina, Mothering, The Opiate, getborn and most recently Twyckenham Notes). Berardi’s first collection, Cassandra Gifts, was published in 2013 by Turkey Buzzard Press, and is currently at work on a a collection called Pagan. Berardi lives in the Front Range foothills west of Denver at precisely 8,888 feet above sea level .Read More
Alyssa Hatmaker is a freelance games journalist who's working on a young adult horror novel in her elusive and flighty spare time. Her articles have been published at Destructoid, PC Gamer, Unwinnable, Rely on Horror, and elsewhere. When she's not writing about games or humans and their monsters, she's usually holed up in her kitchen baking with magick. You can follow her on Twitter @lyssness or visit her portfolio at amhatmaker.com.Read More
BY MEHRNOOSH TORBATNEJAD
Carmen Sandiego Reacts to the Travel Ban
No different than how she has always traveled,
knows to make a human less human
you call them by a thing that doesn't exist, so
she’s never in a space long enough to be deemed alien;
makes a game from the escape—
the elegant taunting of claiming your city her name
though elsewhere she was born; a turf intruder
with no passport, why apply for one if possession
only calcifies borders, if papers are the breadcrumb
trail always to capture; so instead she enters with the tip
of her color shadow, loots your country of everything
she doesn’t need; see, this is not about thievery,
this is the joy of reclaiming, the thrill of ripping smiles
from paintings, pocketing the heat from flames,
keys and music notes, what good is a native’s job
when you can take the recipes and controls;
you would think she, like the rest, was a holy grail,
the way patrollers lust after her with handcuffs and rope
when she retreats, off to Afghanistan or Iran, Mexico
and Morocco; tell me which one of you would even
reach for a map if it weren’t to chase her,
which one of you would mark a globe if not for the names
of do-not-fly lists; she knew long ago the rights
you inscribed do not include her, that immunity
is a delusion, so she alters her tone when you tap
her telephones, and gloats elusive when she doesn’t sound
metal detectors; so, call her villain, call her enemy
when this body is the one you cannot occupy;
call her criminal, call her spy, call her mastermind
when she outwits your agencies, and know
we are willing to forgive her felonies, knowing
what you call illegal is the act of fleeing an oppressor,
knowing what you call most wanted
is a pseudonym for unwanted;
so, a runaway sneering at despots for hobby
is the reprisal the rest of us have waited for,
so we marvel at the abduction of headwaters,
let her take the rivers, the ceilings and columns,
let her steal everything beneath the wide brim
of what was taken and renamed;
we pardon her; we know what it’s like
to hide but leave a trickling trace of what’s been sown,
we know the blood that she bleeds, she makes sure
to wear visible neck to toe like a trench coat
Mehrnoosh Torbatnejad was born and raised in New York. Her poetry has appeared in The Missing Slate, Passages North, HEArt Journal Online, Pinch Journal, and is forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly. She is the poetry editor for Noble / Gas Qtrly, and a Best of the Net, Pushchart Prize, and Best New Poets nominee. She currently lives in New York where she practices matrimonial law.
BY VALORIE K. RUIZ
Tracing the Path of the Moon
An owl’s wingspan can stretch up to five feet.
When I see the streak of tierra
over the park across the street
at just past midnight
I don’t question it.
But as the minutes
slide into grains of sand
and the cigarette caves to ash
I begin to wonder.
Maybe I’m reading too much
in the shadows between the trees
maybe age is stealing sight from my eyes
maybe it’s all tricks played by amber lights.
The cigarette tames me, keeping me outdoors long
enough for the shadow to return.
A five-foot-wide paint stroke along the sky
traces circles over my head.
When I hear the final hoot as the owl
dances beneath a hidden moon
There’s no need to question.
This message clear as the constellations I craft stories for.
All of these obsidian glimpsed futures are waiting
for nothing more than the illusion of time to bring them full circle.
Your eyelids flicker and I watch you lift, drift
on a sea carved by the corners of your mind.
The hum of your breath buzzes into a lantern,
a lit firefly flashing it’s gleam
against your parted smile. These new moon nights
I’m tempted to trap the floating radiance
in a jar carved from lightning by pixie hands. I think,
perhaps I could drape it around my neck, wear your fire
as a beam to navigate my way across thunderclap waves:
a storm raging nowhere but the waters
of my own mind. Instead I’m locked in the charm of its hover.
I’d much rather trace the spirals of your floating Sun.
Watch the firefly that needs no external light.
Remedy for Codepency
/the first time i orgasmed/ with you my stained glass eyes shattered/ beneath your sol-bright gaze/ breaking me into a puddle/ of mosaic geometrics unable to be puzzle-pieced/ back into the mural i resiliently crafted/ i spilled honey/ luring the residents of the anthill beyond the swell of your home/ begging the Mother Queen with her millions of eggs/ to gift me her unborn/ swallowing their potential/ anendorfic treatment to remove this lovesickness/ this oxytocin bond/ sometimes too much/
The dragonfly enters my room
Glass wings prism moonlight
Across my eyes and I’m shifting between
Recognition and the unknown of his flutter
The dragonfly whispers orders to remain still
He is the snake doctor who’ll stitch together
My endings to each new beginning
I am a rag muñeca waiting to be quilted together
The dragonfly is holed away in my mind
Lodged in the corners where he breathes
Fires to keep himself warm
Where he lives still—
Flapping memories into blank pages
Valorie K. Ruiz is a Xicana writer fascinated by language and the magic it evokes. She currently
lives in San Diego, and she is assistant flash fiction editor for Homology Lit.
Quinn Lui is a Chinese-Canadian student and writer attending the University of Toronto. At this very moment, they are probably loitering in a bookstore, spending too much money on bubble tea, or listening to their plants converse with the moon. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in L'Éphémère Review, Synaesthesia Magazine, Occulum, TERSE Journal, and others. You can find them @flowercryptid on Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.Read More
Vanessa Maki is a queer writer,artist & other things. She’s full of black girl magic & has no apologizes for that. Her work has appeared in various places like Entropy, Rising Phoenix Press, Sad Girl Review & others. She is also forthcoming in a variety of places. She’s founder/EIC of rose quartz journal, interview editor for Tiny Flames Press, columnist for terse journal & regular contributor for Vessel Press. She enjoys self publishing chapbooks. Her experimental chapbook “social media isn’t what’s killed me” will be released by Vessel Press in 2019. Follow her twitter & visit her site.
Ann V. DeVilbiss has had work in BOAAT, Crab Orchard Review, The Maine Review, Pangyrus, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2017 Betty Gabehart Prize in poetry and an Emerging Artist Award from the Kentucky Arts Council. She lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky.
Stephanie Tom is a Chinese-American poet and a rising freshman at Cornell University. A Pushcart Prize nominee, her poetry has either appeared or is forthcoming in Rising Phoenix Review, the Blueshift Journal, Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among other places. In addition, she has previously been recognized by the national Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the International Torrance Legacy Creativity Awards, and the international Save the Earth Poetry Contest.
Cameron Morse lives with his wife Lili and son Theodore in Blue Springs, Missouri. He was diagnosed with a glioblastoma in 2014. With a 14.6 month life expectancy, he entered the Creative Writing program at the University of Missouri—Kansas City and, in 2018, graduated with an M.F.A. His poems have been published in over 100 different magazines, including New Letters, Bridge Eight, and South Dakota Review. His first collection, Fall Risk, won Glass Lyre Press’s 2018 Best Book Award. His second, Father Me Again, is available from Spartan Press.
Kailey Tedesco's books She Used to be on a Milk Carton (April Gloaming Publications) and These Ghosts of Mine, Siamese (Dancing Girl Press) are both forthcoming. She is the editor-in-chief of a Rag Queen Periodical and a performing member of the NYC Poetry Brothel. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. You can find her poetry featured or forthcoming in Prelude, Prick of the Spindle, Bellevue Literary Review, Vanilla Sex Magazine, and more. For more information, please visit kaileytedesco.com.
Nicole Yurcaba, an Instructor of English at Bridgewater College, is an amalgam of otherness: a poet, an essayist, a goth (yes, with a lowercase “g,” a Ukrainian-American. In an effort to dispel negative stereotypes of goths and other subculture members, Yurcaba’s poetry often focuses on subculture aesthetic, Slavic mythology and culture, death positive aesthetics, and landscapes. Her poems have appeared in such places as The Atlanta Review, Chariton Review, West Trade Review, The Lindenwood Review, Artemis, and many other online and print journals.Read More
Ronnie Pope is currently based in the strange land of Wales, UK.Read More
Talulah Brown graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a bachelor of arts in May 2018, and is from Los Angeles, California but currently lives in New York.Read More
BY LISA MARIE BASILE
Wild Words is an everyday, accessible, friendly series of how-tos around publishing, writing, and creating. It’s a response to the many inbox queries we get around writing (a lot of our readers come here for the literature, and also want to write!). There is no way these entries can be totally comprehensive, but it’s aimed to provide a general overview of any given topic. Feel free to leave questions (and additional advice!) in the comments below or tweet us at @lunalunamag.
Whether you’re looking to publish poetry, an essay, a researched piece, or a book, here are some of my responses to the questions we’re asked all the time. We hope it helps!
You are already a writer.
One of the things I hear the most is, "I'm not a writer yet, but I'd like to be." But my darling, quiet that voice because—and may I be struck by lightening if I am wrong—yes, yes you are a writer. If you write, you're a writer. That might sound like a platitude, but consider this: Have you ever looked upon a beautiful piece of art, a painting perhaps, sitting in your friend's living room and thought, "well, it's not in a museum, so you're not an artist"? I doubt it.
The same goes for writers. There's this all-too-common myth that a writer isn't initiated into the dark mansion of writerly glory until published (see mantras like "publish or perish" or even well-meaning terms like "emerging writer"). You can very much be a writer without publishing credit.
Step one: Get out of your head. Save your head for the page. Your art comes first; everything else is secondary. Being a writer is less important than writing. So, just write and the rest will come into place.
Now, there's a caveat to all that.
Writing is not always glamorous; you have to put in the work.
Writing is often said to be lonely. It's not just an over-romanticization of the archetype of the writer (as we fall upon the chaise, in solitude, our poems clamouring in our chests), it's honestly a fact. Writing is one thing. Publishing is another, so in a way, being a professional writer is half craft half business. We’re alone at home, sitting in a dressing gown, downing coffee, and hitting “submit" over and over again.
Publishing is made up of all the unglamorous, sometimes uncomfortable parts we don't want to think about: formatting a manuscript, submitting to magazines and journals, attaching files, updating your "accepted" and "declined" excel sheets. It's all very Virgo, my friends.
There are a sea of opportunities out there; finding them is your job.
So how do you find journals or magazines? To start, social media is a wonderful resource. You can start by searching 'literary journal' or 'poetry magazine’ on Twitter or Instagram’s search bar. Then, read the journal. Yep, actually read it. Does the work resonate with you? Does the journal's niche work well with your voice? Does the journal stand for what you believe in? Do they take risks on style and genre? Do they make a point to welcome diverse writers?
Make lists of writers you admire. Who are they? Where have they published? You can see this by looking at their bios or Googling their names. (Most published works come with a bio (biography) of the writer.
Another easy way to find literary journals is by perusing your local bookshop; most indie stores have a dedicated literary magazine section. One of my favorite resources for literary journals (in this case, most are English-speaking ones) is at Entropy Magazine. They do an amazing service to writers by finding open submissions and separating them into journals, presses, and genres.
Facebook has some great groups, as well. Search "poetry writers" or "fiction writers" or "memoir writers" under groups and see what comes up. If you're familiar with #TheBinders, there are groups dedicated to poetry binders — aka, women, gender variant and nonbinary writers who write and submit poetry.
Engage with others, read their work, ask for recommendations to literary journals and follow their submissions policy.
13 AESTHETICALLY BEAUTIFUL LITERARY JOURNALS TO SUBMIT TO & READ
The beautiful thing about the Internet is that you have at your disposal hundreds of literary journals and magazines—as well as their "submit" or "contact" information. This will list what they’re looking for and how to send it in.
Look for those words on any literary magazine site, and you'll find out how to submit your work, too. Follow the rules. Don't attach a whole book, for example, if they ask for 3 poems only. Seriously. This inspires ire and bloodlust in some editors. Now, no one is waiting around for you to make a mistake, and you don’t have to stay awake at night quaking in your sheets ober understandable errors that happen, but do read the submissions policy and adhere to it in the most basic of ways.
Make lists of journals or magazines or presses that you like, take note of their publication schedules, and prep. Then, you wait. This is the sexy part (not true).
What is a “pitch?”
If you're trying to submit your writing to magazines (especially nonfiction or essays), you'll want to know there are usually two ways to go about this: You can pitch (aka send a clear idea) an editor directly (you can find emails for editors on social media or by going onto LinkedIn) and then wait for confirmation and the assignment, or you can write a whole piece and send it to a magazine via whatever submissions policy they state.
The latter is risky for one reason: You run the risk of writing and writing without it having a home. That said, you should be writing about what you want to write about—so even if it's rejected, you'll return to the drawing board because you believe in it.
Pitching editors seems scary, right? This is probably the question I'm asked most often: Should I pitch an editor? Will they ignore me if I've never published before? Why would they want to hear from me?
The answer is a bummer but most editors are super busy and many pitches don't get responses (there’s just limited bandwidth); however—a succinct, clear, well-developed pitch may yield a response. Editors appreciate pitches because it allows them to work with you—to calibrate an idea and ensure the piece covers the topic in the way they envision.
Pitches should include a well-developed idea, a reason why you're the one who should write the piece (keep this relevant, quick, and professional) and a sentence or two about why it would work for their publication. Here are some excellent tips.
To reiterate: Just because it can be difficult to get a response doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. Writers deal with this, and although it’s not ideal, it usually doesn’t reflect on you (if you wrote a good pitch).
A website and social media presence is helpful.
Many writers loathe the idea of having to step away from the writing desk to maintain a digital persona. I have a love/hate relationship with it. For one, it builds community and allows me to meet hundreds of talented writers. It's also become a source of support for me as a person, when used appropriately (aka not letting it consume my life). However, it can be distracting, narcissistic, and one-dimensional. We are, at times, reduced to parts of ourselves online—we are seen in fractions, and this can get us wrapped up in all the wrong sorts of ideas. Then there's the issue of imposter syndrome. When you see all the others writers online being amazing and publishing everywhere and getting retweets, you might wonder: Am I good enough?
(Yes. There is space for everyone (a glorious truth no troll can take away from any of us!), and that space is what makes writing such a beautiful experience. Everyone starts somewhere. Let the Internet be a place of support and inspiration for you, but don't let it distract from your art. You're a writer; brand is not the main priority.)
That said, an author website (with a short bio, a picture, and some contact details) can go a long way. Don't worry about it being sparse at first. Your bio can be "XYZ is a writer from New York City." It's not embarrassing if it’s short, there's no rush to fill it up with details, and there's no competition. Be you, write, and the rest will unfold. You can build websites at Weebly, Squarespace, Wix, and even Tumblr. (We use Squarespace and love it—and my personal website is on Squarespace as well).
What about pay-to-play or self-publishing?
Ever see those commercials or website pop-ups, "Publish a book for only $79.99!"? In 99% of cases, you won't pay to get published. Your publisher will take on your work for free. Here’s the deal with vanity presses (aka vanity publisher, subsidy publisher or hybrid publisher): They typically ask writers (and in some cases agents) to subsidize a portion or all of the fee that it takes to put a book into the world. Some are straight-up shams designed to fuck people over and prey on a lack of knowledge, while others are working presses that are transparent about their fees. Here’s a very basic look at the variants within the hybrid publishing model.
There have been plenty of debates around whether this is okay or not, and lots of wonderful writers have worked with vanity presses before; still, others maintain that it’s not for them.
Generally speaking, most established magazines or presses will publish your work or book out of love for it, not for money.
So what about self-publishing a book?
Poets & Writers offers great information around this option here. The fact is, some writers love the autonomy and creative power they get when publishing their own work. Many writers would prefer not to self-publish, too, and if you put your ear to the ground you'll hear lots of contradictory talk, everything from "self-publishing isn't really publishing," to "Why would I want someone else in control of my manuscript?"
Many writers who are simply experimenting and want to carry a book with them to local readings might want to self-publish. Maybe they want sell their work on Amazon directly or on Etsy. Many writers may feel disenfranchised by the publishing scene or disheartedned by rejection. Many might just like the process of creating their own work.
There is still very much a stigma around self-publishing, but it's important to stay contexual and progressive when it comes to art. People should feel empowered to create as they'd like. It's hard world out there for writers, and no one needs to be shamed for their choice. That said, it's important to weigh the options.
A press or magazine will usually help promote your work and do the leg work when it comes to design and formatting; you'll also be joining a family of other writers. That's invaluable!
No matter what—self-published or not—the post-publication stage is key: You’ll want to share your work.
My work is published!—now what?
It's time to promote it! Remember that most smaller presses have very limited budgets; you'll still be expected to reach out to reviewers and do a lot of the work when it comes to promotion. I've noticed that a lot of writers are concerned about seeming self-obsessed or gauche when it comes to promoting.
Here's the cold hard truth: No one will read your work if you don't advocate for it from conception to page to submission to promotion. Period.
So how do you go about getting people to read your work? A good rule of thumb is this: Promote your work, and everyone else's, too. You can’t just drop one link to your poem and expect engagement. You have to take part, encourage others, share ideas. Go to literary readings if you can, join online groups for writers, share links, read magazines, and engage. Tweet your work and someone else’s. It’s like being at a dinner party; are you only going to talk about yourself? How boring would that be? Join the larger conversation, be yourself, care about others, and the rest comes naturally. Be human; people read humans. There's no greater secret to this.
…but privilege is a thing, right?
Sometimes writers have it hard. They might work stressful, full-time jobs or lack finances; they raise families, they have chronic health conditions, or they are disenfranchised in ways you or I can't imagine. Many are systemically silenced. Others can't attend fancy writing workshops usually and sometimes they can't even access conferences due to inaccessibility!
Recognizing privilege, and a lack thereof, is very important. This is why it's important to help other writers succeed; you never know their situation, and you never know what they've gone through to get where they are.
There will be times when privilege plays into publishing: expensive degrees in writing, Instagram shots of pricy workshops and writer retreats—it's all out there. If this is you, recognizing it is important. If it's not, then know that you're not alone. Despite money, connections, and all the time in the world to write, there's one universal truth: Talent usually rises to the top. Do your best work. Edit it. Rewrite it. Write it again. And put your heart into it. Don't rush it.
Now, onto questions from our readers:
"How do I quite the voice that tells me I'm a shitty writer?"
That voice is like the sea. It is natural. It ebbs and flows, it pulls in and crashes to shore, and it pulls back. It intersects with our culture, use of social media, how we were raised, our mental health, our social life, and our internalized responses. That’s heavy, so don’t think you’re alone in this. That voice is an albatross to many.
Sometimes it's a deep blue, high tide, sometimes it's low, low enough for you to see your feet down there on the sand through the turquoise. This is what it means to write. There are days when you don't want to, don't feel the need to, don't feel like it means anything. When you doubt your ability or purpose.
Why write when others are already so talented? Why am I not as good? Why does this suck?
The sea often yields surprises. What happens when one day the waves don't stop? Will you ignore it? Will you say it's too overwhelming—or will you say it's necessary and beautiful?
Very few writers truly think they are god's gift to humankind; sure, there's ego out there, but it's usually driven by insecurity. Even the best feel it. It's chronic, and can be seriously limiting. However, you have to push past it. Turn the insecurity into fuel. Acknowledge it and let it pass.
You have to know that your relationship to your work (and your personal, very real reason for creating it) is more important than your mood on any given day, more important than what other people are doing, and more important than the ego. Write because you feel the need to, and trust, as you edit and develop it, that it is a thing of beauty. From there, decide whether you want to share it with the world.
The idea of something being shitty is usually predicated on ideas around how it will be received; so, write it for you, and you alone. The voice will happen. Just move through it. And don't beat yourself up for the sea change. Your voice will be there, and then go, and then come—what you choose to do, despite it, is what matters. Choose your work. It deserves love.
When your work is done, celebrate it. Get a drink, print it, decorate a little altar to it, and light a candle for your success. Focus on manifesting that spirit and resilience in your future projects. Grow your garden slowly, and with love—for all the darkness and light that comes with it.
Lisa Marie Basile is the founding creative director of Luna Luna Magazine—a digital diary of literature, magical living and idea. She is the author of "Light Magic for Dark Times," a modern grimoire of inspired rituals and daily practices. She's also the author of a few poetry collections, including the forthcoming "Nympholepsy." Her work encounters the intersection of ritual and wellness, chronic illness, magic, overcoming trauma, and creativity, and she has written for The New York Times, Narratively, Grimoire Magazine, Sabat Magazine, The Establishment, Refinery 29, Bust, Hello Giggles, and more. Lisa Marie earned a Masters degree in Writing from The New School and studied literature and psychology as an undergraduate at Pace University.
Trista Edwards is an associate editor at Luna Luna Magazine. She is also the curator and editor of the anthology, Till The Tide: An Anthology of Mermaid Poetry (Sundress Publications, 2015). You can read her poems at 32 Poems, Quail Bell Magazine, Moonchild Magazine, The Adroit Journal, The Boiler, Queen Mob's Tea House, Bad Pony, Occulum, and more. She creates magickal candles at her company, Marvel + Moon.Read More