First Pshares Single Published! Longer stories available in eBook formats

Over the years, Ploughshares has sometimes received longer submissions that were difficult to publish due to space considerations in the print issue. Pshares Singles is an eBook series for these lengthier stories and essays, selected by our editors. A new Single will be published every month, available for download on your Kindle or Nook. (If you do not have a Kindle or Nook device, you can download apps for smart phones, tablets, and computers.)

We are very excited to announce the publication of our very first Pshares Single, Lady of the Burlesque Ballet!

In a topsy-turvy ragtime era of side-shows and bamboozlers, Irish Maupin goes from street urchin to burlesque star. Plucked from the streets as a girl and fattened up for candy-factory advertising, she navigates a sensational career around heart-break and loneliness, gaining and losing hundreds of pounds, manipulated by the men around her even as she defies them. From acclaimed Nebraska author Timothy Schaffert, this inaugural Pshares Single is a surreal adult fairy tale about obesity, murder, and how we change our bodies to meet the needs of others.

Available for $1.99 on Kindle and Nook

Here’s a brief excerpt from the story:

            “Now don’t you worry,” the matron told Irish as she led her from the office and back down the hall. “They’re going to love who you turn out to be.”


            “The men. The men in there. The executives. They’ll love you.”

            “No, I mean, who do I turn out to be?”

            “Don’t you worry about that, darling,” the matron said. She stopped and took Irish by the shoulders, smiling big. She spoke slowly. “Who you turn out to be will be far, far better than anyone you ever were. I promise. Haven’t you always been able to trust me?”

            And who are you? she wanted to ask. I’ve trusted you?

Interested in submitting a story for the series?

If you have a longer story or essay—roughly 6,000 to 25,000 words—please read our guidelines and submit online. Make sure you select “Pshares Singles: Long Story/Novella” from the dropdown box under “genre.”

Hearing Voices: Women Versing Life presents Natalie Diaz & When My Brother Was an Aztec

I happened to read Natalie Diaz’s book When My Brother Was an Aztec (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) on July Fourth, and it was a surreal experience. I live on small lake in Massachusetts, and as the neighbors blasted the sky with exploding light I wondered about the Wampanoags who lived here before us, what happened to them, so I looked it up. It’s ugly, of course. I’m not here to patronize you with a history lecture about the brutality of manifest destiny in action, though, and neither is Diaz.

Instead, When My Brother Was an Aztec offers a portrait of life on the Mojave reservation today, and it’s bright with color, coral and turquoise, the red of apples, and every kind of hunger. She shows us cans of government food, handed-down clothes, alcoholism, drug addiction, and lost limbs— the place where history has brought us.

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Former Ploughshares editor Don Lee reading at Harvard Bookstore

On July 24th, 2012, Don Lee read from his new novel, The Collective, at Harvard Bookstore in Cambridge, MA in an event co-sponsored by Ploughshares. Lee was the editor of Ploughshares for 19 years!

Rachel Cass, Marketing Manager Harvard Bookstore, introduced Lee. Here’s the gist, from his website:

Don Lee is the author most recently of the novel The Collective. He is also the author of the novel Wrack and Ruin, which was a finalist for the Thurber Prizethe novel Country of Origin, which won an American Book Award, the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, and a Mixed Media Watch Image Award for Outstanding Fiction; and the story collection Yellow, which won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the Members Choice Award from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. All of his books have been published by W. W. Norton.Continue Reading

Literary Boroughs #10: Asheville, North Carolina

The Literary Boroughs series will explore little-known and well-known literary communities across the country and world and show that while literary culture can exist online without regard to geographic location, it also continues to thrive locally. Posts are by no means exhaustive and we encourage our readers to contribute in the comment section. The series will run on our blog from May 2012 until AWP13 in Boston. Please enjoy the tenth post on Asheville, North Carolina by Catherine Campbell. -Andrea Martucci, Ploughshares Managing Editor

Asheville, the “Paris of the South,” is home to thousands of artists, including painters, dancers, sculptors and writers. The mountain town has been called both a “freak capital” and “the torn notch of the Bible Belt,” while also voted as one of the “Top 10 Most Beautiful Places in America” and one of the top seven places to live.

The city feels like a retreat from anywhere. Writers come here to take time with their craft, study and establish their art. Some people just want to kick back with a book after hiking all day. With its city conveniences nestled in a pastoral setting, it offers a great spot for both.

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John Ashbery

I came early in the evening to lower Manhattan, more than an hour before the showcase reading that night at Poets House. I came to browse the showcase shelves and to meet a friend and share a bit of supper near the Hudson. I came early to see familiar faces and to be sure of a seat. The weather was hot and close, and the breeze and low shade near the river were cool. The food was good and conversation easy, and what was to come might be less so.

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Blurbese: “quiet”

I’m not usually one to pick on my own, but for illustrative purposes only there’s a line to which I’d like to draw your attention from Anne Gray Fischer’s most recent “Women In Trouble” column:

The stakes are perhaps too low in this quiet novel for it to qualify as a “saga.” 

Ah, yes, the “quiet novel”; the quagmire of literary publishing.Continue Reading

Andrew Ladd wins AWP Novel Award: A Q & A with one of our own

Ploughshares is thrilled to announce that the winner of the AWP Award for the novel is none other than our beloved book reviews editor, Andrew Ladd. The award is part of the AWP Award Series, an annual competition for new, outstanding book-length work in the genres of the novel, creative nonfiction, poetry, and short stories. Andrew Ladd’s winning manuscript is entitled What Ends. Judge Kathryn Davis called his work a “remarkable, haunting novel,” in which “’time isn’t passing, it’s circling,’ and the story of one family’s life on a Hebridean island becomes an apocalyptic vision of what it means to live in time, that ‘blink of stone on a giant sea.'” We talked with Andrew about his writing process, the excitement of a first publication, and plans for the future.

Ploughshares: First of all, congratulations on this incredible honor. Can you tell us a little about What Ends, the novel that won you this award?

Andrew Ladd: What Ends is set on a fictional island in the Hebrides, a real archipelago of more than a hundred off the west coast of Scotland. In the past, many of the Hebrides held thriving communities of fishers and crofters — small-scale farmers — but in recent years their populations have dwindled and on some islands disappeared completely. What Ends traces about thirty years in one of these vanishing communities, focusing in particular on one family, the Continue Reading

Goddard College: Talking with Writers about Teaching (Part 2)

My friends and colleagues Darcey Steinke and Douglas A. Martin and I all got together one afternoon during a break from the Goddard College MFA low-residency program where we all teach to talk about the MFA degree in general, what we feel is different about Goddard and  how teaching one-on-one informs us as writers and teachers. Our first and longer video, posted last week, deals with letter writing, writing as community, classroom vs. the worldroom and doing what you’re good at as a writer. This video delves into working with students, hybrid texts, and our mutual love for Denis Johnson.

The video was made in the cottage at Goddard, which used to be the President’s quarters and now serves as housing for the faculty and guests during residency sessions. It was, of course, very hot that day and we put seltzer and figs and cheese and crackers on the table which none of us, I don’t think, ever took.


Darcey Steinke is the author of the memoir Easter Everywhere (Bloomsbury 2007, New York Times Notable) and the novels, Milk (Bloomsbury 2005), Jesus Saves (Grove/Atlantic, 1997), Suicide Blonde (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1992), and Up Through the Water (Doubleday, 1989, New York Times Notable). With Rick Moody, she edited Joyful Noise: The New Testament Revisited (Little, Brown 1997). Her books have been translated into ten languages. Her novel Milk was translated into French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. Nonfiction has appeared, among other places, in The New York Times MagazineThe Boston ReviewVogueSpin MagazineWashington PostChicago Tribune, and the Guardian (London). Her web-story “Blindspot” was a part of the 2000 Whitney Biennial. She has been both a Henry Hoyns and a Stegner Fellow and Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi, and has taught most recently at Columbia School of the Arts and Barnard College.

Douglas A. Martin is the author of three novels, most recently Once You Back (Seven Stories Press). Other books include: They Change the Subject, stories;Your Body Figured, a lyric narrative, and In the Time of Assignments, poems.


Pshares Singles Launches in just ONE week with “Lady of the Burlesque Ballet”

Timothy Schaffert‘s “Lady of the Burlesque Ballet,” our very FIRST Pshares Single, will be available just one week from today! You can get your very own digital copy for just $1.99 on the Kindle or Nook.


In a topsy-turvy ragtime era of side-shows and bamboozlers, Irish Maupin goes from street urchin to burlesque star. Plucked from the streets as a girl and fattened up for candy-factory advertising, she navigates a sensational career around heart-break and loneliness, gaining and losing hundreds of pounds, manipulated by the men around her even as she defies them. From acclaimed Nebraska author Timothy Schaffert, this inaugural Pshares Single is a surreal adult fairy tale about obesity, murder, and how we change our bodies to meet the needs of others.

We’ll give you the links when the Single is live!

PS: We are accepting submissions for future Pshares Singles. Visit our website for details.


Hearing Voices: Women Versing Life presents Qiu Jin

What fascinates me most about Qiu Jin is the near absence of her work in America, especially considering our love of a rebel and a martyr.  Sure, if you Google her name, several sites will offer a version of the same information: Qiu Jin lived from 1875 to 1907. Her family was wealthy, she had an arranged marriage at the age of twenty-one, and she had two children. Her feet were bound, she was a prolific writer in several genres including poetry, and she became a revolutionary. At the age of thirty-two she was beheaded for plotting an uprising against the Qing Dynasty.

After reading these tidbits, I was anxious to find out more about Qiu Jin and scoured my inter-library loan system for biographies, and while I did find brief listings in books such as Herstory: Women Who Changed the World, there were no complete biographies.

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