Our Winter 2014-15 Issue is Now Available!

3D-cover-winter201415We are elated to announce that our staff-edited Winter 2014-15 Issue is available for purchase! Each year, two of our three issues are guest-edited by prominent writers who explore different personal visions, aesthetics, and literary circles, while the Winter Issue staff-edited.

The Winter Issue of Ploughshares features a diverse collection of poems, essays, and stories. The prose ranges from surreal humor–David Cameron’s “Mannequin,” about a man’s relationship with a life-size doll he buys to use the HOV lane–to tragedy, in Lisa Gruenberg’s essay on the experiences of her Viennese father and his family during the Holocaust. Sherrie Flick’s Plan B essay looks at the joy and rage of gardening, and Nancy Kang and Silvio Torres-Saillaint write an appreciation of the Dominican-American poet Rhina P. Espaillat.

The Winter Issue also features poetry by Philip Levine, Sherod Santos, Nalini Jones, Laurie Sewall, and Gary Young; an interview with Zacharis Award winner Roger Reeves; and work by the winners of our annual Emerging Writer’s Contest.

If you would like to read our Winter issue, and you aren’t already a subscriber, subscribe to Ploughshares today! You’ll get great reads, ideas for your own writing, and the ability to submit your work to us for free!

This issue is also available for Amazon Kindle.

You can purchase single copies of our issues or subscribe by visiting our website: www.pshares.org.

The Fall 2014 Issue is Now Available

403-Cover-frontWe are very excited to announce that our Fall 2014 issue has officially released today! Acclaimed novelist and short-story writer Percival Everett (Erasure, I Am Not Sidney Poitier) guest-edits this all-fiction issue.

As Everett writes in his introduction, the stories “range from so-called mimetic to so-called meta. I do not like such labels and I hope to undermine their use by putting these fine works together.” Authors experiment with everything from extensive footnotes to shifting points of view, and narratives run from a husband who can’t stop crying (Nick Arvin’s “The Crying Man”) to a super-sophisticated domestic robot learning the ways of a Japanese family (“I, Kitty,” by Karen Tei Yamashita). Featuring stories by Aimee Bender, Richard Bausch, and Edith Pearlman, this issue is an illustration of the adventurousness and variety of the short story in English today. The issue also features Jay Baron Nicorvo’s Plan B essay about surfing, and an appreciation of the early work of the poet Robert Duncan.

If you would like to read our Fall issue, and you aren’t already a subscriber, subscribe to Ploughshares today! You’ll get great reads, ideas for your own work, and the ability to submit your work for free!

You can purchase single copies of our issues or subscribe by visiting our website: www.pshares.org.

New Ploughshares Solo: Twice Eggs by Alexandra Johnson

Johnson-UPDcoverWe are thrilled to announce the publication of “Twice Eggs,” the latest Ploughshares Solo by Alexandra Johnson. The Ploughshares Solos series allows us to publish long stories and essays in a digital format. Recent Ploughshares Solos include “Small Country” by Patricia Grace King and “Portrait” by Kathleen Hill.Continue Reading

Writing in a Changing World: Craft, Readerships, and Social Media

breaking newsWhat do you wish your MFA program had taught you? How is the literary world—and media in general—changing? How should we change with it?

These are the questions that motivate Stephanie Vanderslice‘s work as a writer, professor, and HuffPost blogger. I heard Vanderslice speak at the International Great Writing Conference this June, where she tackled some controversial issues in the writing world: building readerships, taking ownership of one’s career trajectory, and teaching MFA courses on publishing and social media.

9780867095883_p0_v1_s260x420Vanderslice is the author of Rethinking Creative Writing: Programs and Practices that Work and Teaching Creative Writing to Undergraduates. She’s also the editor of Can It Really Be Taught? Resisting Lore in Creative Writing Pedagogy… And on top of all that, she’s published numerous essays and articles on the teaching of creative writing. Basically, if you’re a writer, an aspiring writer, or a teacher of writing, you want this “Writing Geek” in your feeds.

That’s why I threw some questions to Stephanie, with Ploughshares readers in mind. Take a look—and get to changing!

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“Let’s Get You an Agent”—An Agent’s How-to for Writers

an agent did you saySo—Eric Nelson is an agent with the Susan Rabiner Literary Agency.
His own blog, “How to Think Like Your Agent,” is full of quick, no-nonsense advice. Here, he lends our readers a special dose of it: how to get an agent, from an agent’s POV.

Check out his words to the wise below, then bookmark his blog for regular industry tips.

In which Eric Nelson reveals all. (Or 5 hott tips.)

so i should get one of theseEN: When I first switched from being an editor to being an agent, I Googled “how to get an agent” to see how this world looked from an author’s perspective.  I wasn’t impressed with the results. Most of them tell you to buy a book about agents, polish your proposal, and stay away from scams. That’s “good” advice, but it’s like telling you you’ll need a computer and possibly paper.

So let’s get you an agent the right way. Continue Reading

New Blog Feature: Writing Lessons

6198200268_55c24877b1We’re excited to announce a new feature for the Ploughshares Blog geared towards writing students: “Writing Lessons.”

In this feature writing students will discuss lessons learned, epiphanies about craft, and the challenges of studying writing. The exciting part of this feature is that we want to hear from you, writing students! What have you learned or discovered in your writing classes? Submissions are free, open, and accepted on a rolling basis.

Bonus: if we publish your “Writing Lessons” essay, we’ll give you a one-year subscription to Ploughshares literary journal. So put on your thinking caps and start writing!


Entrants must currently be enrolled in an MFA program, an undergraduate writing program, a summer conference, or residency, or have been enrolled in one of these programs in the past 6 months. Please submit up to 500 words about something you have recently learned about writing or being a writer. Submissions will be accepted on a rolling basis, and will be considered for publication in the month after they are received (so if you submit June 1-30, you will be considered for publication in July).

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Roundup: Getting Published

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.

You’ve heard it before. To get published, first you must submit. And submit. And submit.

But how do you go about doing it, and what does each journal look for? We’ve compiled posts from some of the top literary magazines and what each has to say about submission.

  • If you want to publish in Ploughshares, start by taking these tips from Sarah Banse.
  • On rejection slips, The Review Review says, “You may set fire to rejection slips, show them proudly to your friends, use them as coasters for consolatory margaritas, but do not write anything in response.”

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Related content:

  1. Roundup: All You Need is Love (and a Good Story)
  2. Roundup: Craft
  3. Roundup: Women’s Voices
  4. Roundup: Conversations and Collaborations Among Writers
  5. Roundup: Writing Centers

Round-Up: Holiday Nostalgia

Part of the sharing that comes with the holiday season is that beautiful and funny thing nostalgia. Think back to when your were just a kid, back to when the holiday season was more than consumer sales and bustling about the kitchen with a turkey baster in one hand. It was a time when the air was static with the electricity of the possible – where people could be kind for no reason and only good things happened. In the realm of childhood, magic was possible.

In the spirit of the season, we’ve put together a roundup of our fondest childhood remembrances of the holiday season. And, of course, we hope that you have an absolutely wonderful holiday filled with magic, and if applicable, wonder.

And for the Muppet version of what we’ll be doing Friday at 5pm:


Andrea and her grandmother

ANDREA MARTUCCI, Managing Editor: One year, when I was about six and living in New Jersey, I remember going into NYC to see the Rockettes at the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. My older sister and I wore special faux-velvet dresses, which were purchased for the occasion. I was in heaven because I loved dressing up, but I seem to remember my tomboy sister being less than thrilled.

A couple years later, I asked for a Sega for Christmas. I shook every wrapped present and chanted “Sega” until I opened it to reveal that it wasn’t a Sega. I still do this sometimes on Christmas. I never got a Sega, which is probably a good thing because instead of spending my time playing video games I spent a lot of time reading. This ended up being good for my career. (But if I had gotten a Sega, maybe I’d be a video game designer today. We’ll never know what could have been.)

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A Ploughshares Guide to #AWP12 Chicago

Sarah Stetson, former intern and current Ploughshares reader, bravely manning our table in 2011.

AWP 2012 in Chicago is fast approaching, and boy, are we excited! AWP is an annual conference organized by Associated Writing Programs where writers, small and big presses, literary magazines, and writing programs gather to talk about writing, reading, and submitting. Apparently this will be the biggest AWP conference yet, with 10,000 attendees.

We hope you find the information gathered here helpful in planning your AWP trip. This is by no means a comprehensive guide, but it’s just enough to get you pumped pre-trip without exhausting you.

General information and social media help

For the most comprehensive list of what’s going on at AWP on- and off-site, it’s best to visit the official Associated Writing Programs website here. If you’re on Twitter, you should also follow @AWPWriter (official) and @AWPTweets (unofficial). Putting a permanent search in your Twitter application for hashtag #AWP12 will keep you up-to-date on other happenings from attendees. (Oh, and follow us too @Pshares [if you haven’t already], because I’ll be tweeting AWP related things all week.)

“Required” Reading pre-conference

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An Interview with former Ploughshares Senior Reader Kate Flaherty

Until recently, Kate Flaherty was our Senior Reader for fiction. We sat down and talked to her over e-mail about literary magazines, reading slush, and her own work.

Ploughshares: Tell us a little about your literary life – what were the first important books for you, when did you start writing?

Kate Flaherty: Wow. Those are big questions. Where to begin? When I was seven, my parents gave me this blank bound book with a cover that read “The Nothing Book” in that big bubble ’70s writing—it was sort of a joke, like so much of the weird junk you could buy in the ’70s—pet rocks, little plastic Snoopy statues that read “World’s Greatest Tennis Player,” commemorative liquor bottles in the shape of the U.S.S. Constitution. That sort of thing. But I didn’t get the joke, I was just excited to have an actual bound book that I could write in. In one day I filled up “The Nothing Book” with my first story. I can’t remember what the story was about—I wish I still had it—but unsurprisingly I do remember that it was all about me.

As far as important books, that’s tough to narrow down. Growing up I read everything I could get my hands on. I lived in a small town and the library was in this little refurbished house—the children’s section was in the basement—and I vowed to read every book in it. I didn’t actually fulfill that goal—I got bogged down with the Hardy Boys and all those sports books by Matt Christopher—but I made a pretty serious dent. And down the street was this woman who sold books out of her house—my mom would walk me over and I could get all sorts of books—the kind with cloth covers and full color illustrations a la N.C. Wyeth—for only a quarter. I read all these old series like Bobbsey Twins and Honey Bunch and The Happy Hollisters where everyone said “Land sakes!” or “Golly!” and all the old people had gout or lumbago. I still read everything I can get my hands on and my taste is pretty egalitarian. I love trash and treasure—in the past two weeks I’ve read Francine Prose’s new novel, a biography of Lady Idina Sackville, and memoirs by Andre Dubus III, Alexandra Fuller, Keith Richards, and Steven Tyler (and if you’re looking for recommendations, the Dubus memoir is remarkable, as was Keith Richards’ Life, which says a lot since I’m not much of a Rolling Stones fan).

I love getting lost in a novel, I can be both impressed and befuddled by poetry, but biography and memoir are always at the top of my list.

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