Awards to Ploughshares Writers

Our congratulations to the following Ploughshares writers who work has been selected for these anthologies:

the o. henry prize stories 2013Best Stories: Jamie Quatro’s story “Sinkhole,” from the Spring 2012 issue edited by Nick Flynn, will appear in O. Henry Prize Stories 2013, selected by a prize jury of Lauren Groff, Edith Pearlman, and Jim Shepard. The anthology is due out September 2013, with Laura Furman as the series editor.

Best Stories Notables: Steve Almond’s story “Gondwana,” Matthew Neill Null’s story “Telemetry,” Timothy Schaffert’s Ploughshares Solo “Lady of the Burlesque Ballet,” and Megan Mayhew Bergman’s Ploughshares Solo “Phoenix” were named as notables by The Best American Stories 2013. The anthology was released this month, with Elizabeth Strout as the guest editor and Heidi Pitlor as the series editor.

Best Essays: Charles Baxter’s essay, “What Happens in Hell,” from the Fall 2012 issue edited by Patricia Hampl, has been selected for The Best American Essays 2013. The anthology was released this month, with Cheryl Strayed as the guest editor and Robert Atwan as the series editor.

bae2013Best Essays Notables: Mary Gordon’s essay “The Taste of Almonds,” was named as a notable by The Best American Essays 2013.

Best Poetry:  Major Jackson’s poem “Why I Write Poetry,” from the  Spring 2012 issue edited by Nick Flynn, has been selected for The Best American Poetry 2013. The anthology was released in September 2013, with Denise Duhamel as the guest editor and David Lehman as the series editor.

Pushcart: Eric Fair’s essay “Consequence” and Claudia Rankine’s poem “Excerpt from That Once Were Beautiful Children,” which both appeared in the Spring 2012 issue edited by Nick Flynn, and Charles Baxter’s essay, “What Happens in Hell,” from the Fall 2012 issue edited by Patricia Hampl, have been selected for The Pushcart Prize XXXVIII: Best of the Small Presses, which is due out November 2013 from Bill Henderson’s Pushcart Press.

 

Roundup: Social Media, Technology, and Innovation

In our Roundups segment, we’re looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009. We explore posts from our archives as well as other top literary magazines and websites, centered on a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.

We featured a post recently about literary magazine approaches to social media, and it got us thinking: How are writers being innovative with social media and technology? Enjoy this multi-faceted roundup.

From Ploughshares:

  • In our “Innovators in Lit” series we look at lit mags, editors, and writers on the edge. Here are our interviews with The Lit Pub, featherproof books, and an interview with Dzanc Books editor Matt Bell.

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Jamie Quatro On Her Story, “Sinkhole”

Cover O Henry Prize Stories 2013

Jamie Quatro’s story, “Sinkhole” first appeared in our Spring 2012 issue, guest edited by Nick Flynn. It will also be included in The O. Henry Prize Stories 2013, available September 2013. 

“Sinkhole” opens with these lines:

When the camp director introduces God, he reminds us the man is just an actor.

“His real name is Frank Collins,” the director says. “He lives in Knoxville and has a wife and three grown-up children.” He looks down at the little kids on the benches up front. “I want to make sure you know this, so you don’t get scared.”

God a.k.a. Frank Collins comes out from behind a screen set up at the front of the open-air gym. He’s wearing a dark navy sheriff’s costume. He’s short and muscular with a thick gray beard and buzz cut. He asks the little kids to get off the bench—they scramble onto the wood floor—then drags the bench forward and stands on it. He pulls a sheriff’s hat from behind his back, molds the brim, and sets the hat on his head. From where I’m sitting, fourth row, I can see the tips of his white sneakers sticking out from beneath his pant legs.

“The name’s God,” the sheriff says.Continue Reading

Roundup: We Are Family

In our Roundups segment, we’re looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009. We explore posts from our archives as well as other top literary magazines and websites, centered on a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.

Summer is here, and it’s the perfect time for family picnics, family barbecues, family visits, family… Writers, needless to say, have a long history of being inspired by family in many glorious and terrible ways. Here are some insights to remember (and some families to compare to) when you find yourself sighing heavily at the umpteenth outing.

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Roundup: Marketing Your Writing

In our Roundups segment, we’re looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009. We explore posts from our archives as well as other top literary magazines, centered on a certain theme to help you jump-start your week. This week we have posts on submitting and getting published.

What’s the trick? Twitter? A Facebook page? Hiring an agent? All of the above? What are the best ways to market your writing in an ever-competitive writing market? Our writers and writers from around the web divulge their marketing strategies and concerns.

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From Ploughshares:

Roundup: Writing advice, tips, and lists

As we look forward to updating the Ploughshares blog for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009.  Our roundups explore the archives and gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.  This week we have posts on with writing advice, tips, and lists.

Last week we saw someone tweet this collection of writing rules from famous writers.  We loved the lists of rules so much, this week we gathered posts that contain writing advice and tips (some in list form).

Weekly Roundup: Revision

As we look forward to updating the Ploughshares blog for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009.  Our weekly roundups explore the archives and gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.  This week’s theme: revision.

If you are still a young writer, like me, revision may be intimidating.  More experienced writers may struggle with when to stop revising.  Fortunately, our guest bloggers are here to help!

  • For those just learning to revise or any who would would like to take a fresh look, Eric Weinstein posts about his introduction to revision (re-visioning a piece) and discusses the inherent pros and cons in “Which a Minute Will Reverse”.

Weekly Roundup: Inspiration

As we look forward to updating the Ploughshares blog for the new year, we’re also looking back at all the great posts since the blog started in 2009.  This week we’re introducing a new roundup post that explores the archives.  Each Monday we’ll gather past posts around a certain theme to help you jump-start your week.  This week’s theme: inspiration.

Jamie Quatro explored the question of how ideas come to writers in her series of First Draft interviews with fiction writers, poets, playwrights, and nonfiction writers.  The answers from the writers she spoke with varied widely.  Some highlights:

  • Timothy Liu explains “I can prepare myself for a poem to come to me, just like a memorable dream, but I can’t force it to happen.”
  • Lia Purpura tells Quatro about stopping in the middle of teaching a class to scribble down a poem as it came to her.
  • Young Jean Lee asks herself “What’s the last play in the world I would ever want to write?”  Then she writes that play.

If reading writers’ ruminations on their process doesn’t inspire you, try Rachel Kadish’s suggestion: panic and musical improvisation.

Speaking of music, James Scott writes about how he uses music to inspire and remember the emotions of a piece in his post “Non-Writing Things That Nevertheless Help Me Write: Music.”

If you need any suggestions for your own writing playlist, David S. MacLean has kindly provided his favorites in his post “Writing Soundtrack: A Step-by-Step Playlist.”

Sometimes the greatest obstacle to our writing is the world’s best procrastination tool: the internet.  Discover why reading on the internet may be eroding our focus in Carol Keeley’s post “The Conceit of Wisdom.”

Follow up with Jamie Quatro’s tips on how to avoid the lure of internet addiction in her post “How Do You Get Past the Sirens?”

Where do your ideas come from?  What techniques do you use to open yourself up to these ideas?  Tell us your thoughts on inspiration in the comments below.

Image by http://www.planetofsuccess.com/blog/

One More Swing of the Club

When I sat down to write this piece—my last post for Ploughshares—I knew I wanted to bookend my stint as guest-blogger with another yoga/writing essay. I wanted to talk about writerly humility; specifically, how I’ve come to a better understanding of humility through Child’s pose. I figured I’d describe the pose first—face down, toes touching, knees spread, arms stretched forward—and tell you how the posture enters into a typical yoga practice (often as our starting place; always a posture to which we can return, at any time during our practice, to rest and re-connect with the breath).

I would then go on to describe how I feel when I’m in a challenging posture—Standing Splits, say, or Warrior 3—and know I’m going to fall out: muscles burning, balance faltering, my legs and arms shaking. This is when I get into Child’s pose, and it feels good, but often what’s in my head is: you just failed. You’re not as good at yoga as the others in this class. You need to get stronger, push harder. Take this short rest, but when you get back up, you’re going to do better.

As many times as I’ve had these kinds of thoughts in Child’s pose, it was only when I began to write this post that I realized this is the way I think. That Child’s pose isn’t, in fact, a pose at all, but a non-yogic break from the “real” postures. A failure.

E.M. Forster famously said: How do I know what I think until I see what I say?

Is this what I think?

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The Center for Fiction: “Away from the Rum Shop and Billiard Room”

The Center for Fiction, 2nd floor reading room

June 21, 2012, New York City. I’ve just spent the afternoon in meetings at the Grove/Atlantic offices near Union Square. Now I’m trying to hail a cab—no way am I riding the subway in this heat—to take me to The Center for Fiction, where Harper Perennial’s Cal Morgan and his wife Cassie are going to introduce me to Noreen Tomassi, the Center’s director. I’ve heard the Center has a writers’ studio with workspace available 24/7. I want to check it out, see if it’s something I might like to take advantage of on my increasingly frequent trips up to the city. I’m also curious about the Center’s history, which dates back to the early 1800s and includes names like Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Oliver Wendell Holmes.

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