Two Sides of The Slush Pile

While I was revising my second book, The Supper Club (update on that soon), I spent a lot of time last year reading and writing short stories and poetry. I wasn’t quite ready to delve into the next novel, and I wanted to sharpen some skills and exercise writerly muscles I hadn’t used in a while, so I wrote poems and short stories, flash fiction and prose poems.

In the second half of 2013, I began to submit work to literary magazines, something I haven’t really done since graduate school. My recent experience with literary journals was from the opposite side of the slush pile–with Conclave: A Journal of Character, the literary magazine I founded back in 2008.

You can read the Foreword from the first issue of Conclave on my tumblr account. But I wanted to quote one part of it here:

“When we decided to create Conclave: A Journal of Character, we knew that our focus would be on character-driven writing and photography, so we sought out a name for our literary magazine that would reflect the assembly of all those characters, as well as the artists and writers who dream them up. We chose conclave because it means a gathering, a private chamber, a room that may be locked. It has the Latin roots of com(meaning “with” or “together”) and clavis (meaning “key”).”

With a really wonderful volunteer staff of more than 20 people, we put out two issue before I came to the decision to sell the magazine. I was spending more time editing than writing, and I wanted to be writing. While I loved having a place to publish these great character-driven works, I didn’t really have the time to keep it going. Fortunately I sold the magazine to a brilliant writer who had been published in our first issue, Savannah Thorne.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Conclave recently because Electric Velocipede published its final issue this month. Founding editor John Klima published 27 issues of the award-winning journal for more than 12 years before he decided that it was time to cease publication. You can read John’s final editorial note here.


Magazines like Electric Velocipede and Sybil’s Garage inspired me to start Conclave in the first place. I understand the kind of sacrifice and dedication Matthew Kressel and John put into their issue, the same kind of energy that Savannah devotes to Conclave today. When it boils down to it, most of these journal and magazines, online and in print are labors of literary love.

Savannah has done an amazing job with Conclave, better than I could have done. With the help of many of the editors from our first issue (Tom Gill, Michael von Glahn, Rebecca Kyle, and others), she has built upon the idea of a literary magazine with a character focus, and Conclave continues to feature new and seasoned writers and terrific photographers. Their work is full of provocative, powerful, unforgettable characters. I’m so proud to be a part of its history, and I’m really excited to see where she takes Conclave into the future.

You can buy the current issue in electronic and print format on Amazon, and I encourage my writer-friends to check out their guidelines.

After submitting, I’ve finally started to receive notices of acceptance. This year, I’ll have work forthcoming in Abyss & Apex, Fickle Muses, Mythic Delirium, Scheherezade’s Bequest, and hopefully more to be announced soon!

This month, I have one poem, “Daughters of Melisseus” in Abyss & Apex, and two poems, “For collectors not children” and “Singing the Dirge” in Fickle Muses.

I’m excited to publish shorter writing as I get to work on book #3, and it’s nice to be able to point people to my work online. Plus poetry is a passion of mine–the evocative imagery, the music of the words, the rhythm of the lines. Reading poetry is such a joy; and writing it…is like being engulfed in a sensuous maelstrom of language.