Meet our New Intern: Mary B. Sellers

My sweet-tooth for stories and books is entirely my mother’s doing. From the beginning, she ingrained in me the importance of make-believe; the easy, seductive escapism that goes along with a good book. My childhood library was a vast, impressive thing, which my mother also had a hand in making. On my last visit home, I climbed the winding staircase with the odd bend in its middle up to my old bedroom, where I remembered seeing these childhood books last.

I found them neatly stacked—tall and glossy with the hardcover’s requisite fierce laminate shine—on the old twin-sized trundle bed, their pages stuck shut by time and that species-specific dust bunny native only to suburbia.

I tried to be gentle as I sifted through them, rereading some entirely like Audrey Wood’s King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub, which I remember being one of my particular favorites as it was about a king who did just that—held court in his bathtub. Bubbles pop and soak marble floors while jesters make silly grimace-grins: I imagine it must have inspired from my then-toddler-self, a deep awe for the interdimensional aspects of the average-looking bathtub. Others, too, like Grandfather Twilight, about a kind old man who puts the moon in the sky after his evening walk each night; The Rainbabies, too—a classically structured folktale dealing in magic rain, the moon, and wishes coming true—depicted in careful sketching and pastel watercolors, soft and cool-toned.

The first time I “seriously” wrote anything was the summer my mother had her first manic episode (bipolar psychosis), and her first stint at the psych ward. It was the summer before eighth grade. It was also the last summer that my mother ever wrote anything seriously again. Specifically, I mean the book she’d started writing a few weeks after quitting her job as a speechwriter. I’d been beyond excited at the prospect of having a real-life author for a mother. I fantasized about this scenario, made sure to brag to my friends at school about it. My mother, the writer.

Because it was true, how it’d always been: my mother was the writer in the family; the reader, the dreamy girl who spent her teenage weekends with bent, seventies’ paperbacks. Looking back on photos of my mother as a teenager and young twenty-something, I see a pretty girl with olive skin and dark fly-away hair who seems to always be laughing with a book in hand. It’s the true sort of happiness that’s hard to fake. Bliss, joy, a silliness I’ve never seen on her. There’s light in those black eyes of hers, and the skin around her happy mouth is stretched tight and young with delight. I wish I’d known her then, could talk to that version of her now that I’m grown.

Originally from Jackson, MS, I now live and work in Seattle, WA, with my Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who I (nerdily) christened Daisy Buchanan after the leading lady in The Great Gatsby. (I’ve always loved her ‘beautiful little fool’ quote towards the beginning of the novel.) I currently am a part time children’s creative writing instructor for Pacifica Writers’ Workshop, a Split Lip Press nonfiction reader, and a freelance writer. Side hustles include: web development, selling on Poshmark, dog sitting, and trying to write a novel.

I graduated with a BA in English Literature from the University of Mississippi in 2013 and an MFA in Creative Writing with a Fiction emphasis from Louisiana State University in 2018, where I served as graduate prose editorial assistant for The Southern Review, social media editor for New Delta Review, and cohost for the Underpass Readers & Writers series. In 2018, my graduate thesis—a hybrid novel, Rapunzel Has Insomnia—was a finalist for the University of New Orleans Publishing Laboratory Prize.

My fiction, essays, articles, and reviews appear in Psychopomp Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Grimoire, Third Point Press, Sidereal Magazine, Crab Fat Magazine, Literary Orphans, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Dream Pop Press, The New Southern Fugitives, Click Magazine, Mississippi Magazine, Young Professionals of Seattle, and New Delta Review, among others.

For the past decade, I’ve attempted to keep at least one toe in the book publishing and literary worlds, which is why I have such eclectic work experiences: summer editorial assistantships for lifestyle magazines, an NYC-based literary agent, and a couple of online magazines, and Thacker Mountain Radio, a weekly radio show. Fresh out of college I even worked for Fat Possum Records, a record label located in my college town of Oxford, MS, while studying for the GRE and applying to 12 MFA programs. After being rejected from all 12 schools and subsequent identity crisis, I spent the next year working remotely as associate publisher for the small indie press Blooming Twig Books and freelance writing. They would later go on to be kind enough to publish my first collection of short stories, Shoulder Bones, in 2014.

During my time in graduate school, I had the opportunity to live and workshop my writing abroad for one month in Prague, thanks to the 2016 Prague Summer Writers Program. Also, in 2017, I participated in the Sewanee Summer Writers Residency. Recently, my short story “The Other Mother” was second runner up in Psychopomp Magazine’s 2019 Short Fiction Contest. My personal essay “Inheritance: A Timeline” was nominated for a 2019 Best of the Net award, and my short story “Alice and the Moon” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


Mary B. Sellers lives and works in Seattle, WA, and is at work on her second book, a novel of autofiction. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Mississippi and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University. Most recently her writing has appeared in Psychopomp Magazine, Flash Fiction Magazine, Grimoire, Third Point Press, Sidereal Magazine, and Young Professionals of Seattle.

Shitty First Drafts Episode 4, Featuring Lance Dyzak, is Live!

Picture1Sundress Publications announces the fourth episode of the podcast, Shitty First Drafts. A podcast made for and by writers, the show playfully investigates the creative processes of different artists to determine how a finished draft gets its polish.

Lance Dyzak joins Brynn Martin and Stephanie Phillips to discuss his short story “Extra Innings,” based on a bizarre event he witnessed at a park while walking his dog, and the various forms it went through before reaching its completion.

lance-dyzak-headshot.jpgIn the end, though the event helped Dyzak write a good story, he took it out and cautions writers against “injecting weirdness for the sake of weirdness” they are afraid to write something that feels like it’s been done before. He says, “A lot of writers are afraid of writing a boring story [but] it’s all in the details.”

In this episode, we also discuss the enneagram test (he’s a 5w4), baseball puns, killing your darlings (or filing them away for another time), and the world of online forums.

Lance Dyzak is a Ph.D. student in fiction at the University of Tennessee, where he is writing his first novel. His work has previously appeared in Southwest Review, Southern Indiana ReviewNew Limestone Review, and Per Contra. He is also the co-director of the Only-Tenn-I-See Reading Series, set to kick off in September.

 

Robert Long Foreman Chosen for Publication from Sundress Publications

An image of the author Robert Long ForemanSundress Publications is pleased to announce the manuscript chosen from our inaugural fiction competition is Robert Long Foreman for his exquisite collection of short stories, I Am Here to Make Friends.

Of the collection judge Saba Razvi, author of In the Crocodile Gardens (Agape Editions) and four other collections, had this to say, “Robert Long Foreman has a particular knack for instigating a curiosity in readers about things they might not otherwise think to explore—guns, pigs, bug bites, childbirth, death dreams, and the strangest parts of human intuition. In his new collection I Am Here to Make Friends, Foreman captivates us with each story, keeping us guessing about what will happen next and how we will respond to the actions of characters that remind us of ourselves and our friends, and the choices we would make only in secret. In crisp, compelling prose, this fiction collection’s journey into the psyche is a multifaceted odyssey into the storytelling impulses and cravings that whisper within us in the quiet hours, and its uncanny allure keeps us turning page after page, anxious to know what revelry and revelations wait beyond each turn.”

Robert Long Foreman has won a Pushcart Prize and the hearts of his wife and daughters. His first book, Among Other Things, a collection of essays, was published by Pleiades Press in 2017. His first novel, Weird Pig, is coming from SEMO Press in 2020. His short stories and essays have appeared in magazines like Agni, Copper Nickel, Willow Springs, Crazyhorse, Electric Literature, and Barrelhouse. He lives in Kansas City.

We received a large number of impressive manuscripts for our very first fiction open reading period and are delighted to have found the first of many winning publications to come. 

Finalists

TURMERIC & SUGAR by Anna Vangala Jones
PATRIMONIUM by Angie Pelekidis
OUTSIDE OF NORMAL by Jessica Barksdale Inclan
FURTHER: A NOVELLA AND STORIES by Deb Jannerson
AFTER ANY NUMBER OF THINGS, WHAT’S ONE THING MORE? By Kimi Traube

Semi-Finalists

COLLECTIVE GRAVITIES by Chloe Clark
PEOPLE WANT TO LIVE by Farah Ali
COLD CIGAR SMELL  by Viviane Vives
TALES IN MAGHREBI LANDSCAPES by Mary Byrne
STRIPPED by Leah Griesmann
IN JOSAPHAT’S VALLEY by Joshua Bernstein

Look for I Am Here to Make Friends in March, 2020!

A 501(c)3 non-profit literary press collective founded in 2000, Sundress Publications is an entirely volunteer-run press that publishes chapbooks and full-length collections in both print and digital formats, and hosts numerous literary journals, an online reading series, and the Best of the Net Anthology.

Website: www.sundresspublications.com      Facebook: sundresspublications
Email: sundresspublications@gmail.com          Twitter: @SundressPub

Meet Our New Editorial Intern: Jacquelyn Scott

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I was raised in Jefferson City, Tennessee, which is about 40 miles north from where my ancestors were forced off their land for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I grew up in the wilds of my mountains. Hiking and camping, I sometimes traced my way from the Ramsey Cascades to the Whaley-Big Greenbriar Cemetery, where my family is buried. I used to stand in the middle of that cemetery and look down at the headstones, thinking about my relatives beneath me. One headstone reads, “S.B. Whaley.” I imagine her name was Sarah Beth and question if she, too, felt confined by her gender.

There are ruins of an old school on the trail to my ancestors’ graves. I wonder: if there wasn’t a national park, if that school still stood, if my family still lived there, would I have learned the names of Jhumpa Lahiri, Carmen Machado, ZZ Packer, or Aimee Bender? Would I have found my love of writing Appalachia and Appalachian women through a feminist lens? As Carmen Machado wrote, “I have heard all of the stories about girls like me, and I am unafraid to make more of them.”

I am not a traditional student. I took my time returning to college after I graduated from high school, instead searching for a career path in medicine and psychology, and when I moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee for community college, I came back thinking I would major in nursing and try to write on the side. However, I felt unhappy and constrained because I wasn’t learning the craft of writing like I really wanted. Miranda July once wrote, “But, like ivy, we grow where there is room for us,” and I always found room in literature. When I transferred to my university, I changed my major to creative writing, where I could study how to represent women like me in an artful and literary way.

While pursuing my undergraduate degree, I discovered a passion for literary citizenship. I worked my way up from a fiction reader to the assistant editor at my university’s literary magazine, the Sequoya Review, and started working at the writing center as a peer tutor, helping other students become better writers, both academically and creatively, improving my own writing in the process. In addition, I volunteered as a reader for several literary magazines, such as upstreet, Spark, Ember, and Zetetic, and now, as I pursue my Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from The University of Tennessee (Go Vols!), I am honored to intern for Sundress PublicationsI look forward to learning the publishing side of the literary world where I have made my home.


Jacquelyn Scott is a student at The University of Tennessee where she is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. Her work has appeared in The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature and The Write Launch. Find her on Twitter @jacquelynlscott.

The Wardrobe is Looking for Books that Honor National Suicide Prevention Week

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As a part of Sundress’s ongoing commitment to providing a platform for marginalized voices, Sundress Publications is accepting submissions in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week (September 8–14).

We at Sundress hope to champion writers whose work helps to break the stigma of mental health issues and highlights the very human struggles that can lead to thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts, and suicide survivors. We are looking for submissions that challenge the misconceptions surrounding suicide and that work to shed some light the silent struggle.

Authors or publishers of books published in any genre in the past twelve months may submit to The Wardrobe. To do so, please forward an electronic copy of the book (PDFs preferred), author bio, photo of the cover, and a link to the publisher’s website to The Wardrobe’s email with the subject line “Suicide Prevention.” In addition, we request that one print copy be mailed to Sundress Academy for the Arts, ATTN: The Wardrobe, 195 Tobby Hollow Lane, Knoxville, TN 37931.

Submissions to The Wardrobe will remain eligible for this “Best Dressed” selection for one year. Hard copies will become a permanent part of the Sundress Academy for the Arts library and be made available for review by our editors and/or affiliate journals.

For the complete details and rules, please see The Wardrobe website.

 

Sundress Announces the First Two Episodes of the New Podcast, Shitty First Drafts

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Sundress Publications announces the first two episodes of a new podcast, Shitty First Drafts. A podcast made for and by writers, the show playfully investigates the creative processes of different artists to determine how a finished draft gets its polish.

In the podcast’s first episode, Stephanie Phillips and Brynn Martin are joined by writer Jeremy Michael Reed. Currently living in Knoxville and having finished up his Ph.D. in poetry in early May, Jeremy shares that he didn’t always plan on being a writer or even to study it in school. Of the two poems he shares during the episode, one an early piece of writing from his undergraduate years and the other a more polished piece from graduate school, both touch on Jeremy’s childhood in Michigan, his family, and memory.

In the second episode of Shitty First Drafts, Samantha Edmonds joins Stephanie Phillips and Brynn Martin to talk about her process as a fiction writer. After finishing up her MFA in fiction this spring, Sam is headed to pursue her Ph.D. in the fall at the University of Missouri. While on the podcast, Sam discusses her broad range of publications from essays and short stories to Buzzfeed listicles. The pieces she shares during the episode are two versions of the same flash fiction story about a man who falls in love with the moon with such intensity that he decides he wants to pull it down from the sky.

reed_authorpicJeremy Michael Reed holds a Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee. His poems and essays are published in Oxidant|Engine, Still: The Journal, Valparaiso Poetry Review, and elsewhere, including the anthology Bright Bones: Contemporary Montana Writing. He’s an associate editor for Sundress Publications, and he will join the faculty of Westminster College in Fulton, MO in fall 2019. You can find more of his work at jeremymichaelreed.com

thumbnail.jpegSamantha Edmonds is the author of the fiction chapbook Pretty to Think So, forthcoming from Selcouth Station Press in 2019. Her fiction and nonfiction appear in such journals as The Rumpus, Mississippi Review, Black Warrior Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, LitHub, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among others. She serves as the Fiction Editor for Doubleback Review and the Community Outreach Director for Sundress Academy for the Arts. She currently lives in Knoxville, where earned her MFA from the University of Tennessee. She’ll be starting a Ph.D. in Creative Writing at the University of Missouri in the fall. Visit her online at www.samanthaedmonds.com

The Wardrobe is Looking for Books that Honor National Hispanic Heritage Month

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As a part of our mission to extol writers and people of all cultural backgrounds, Sundress Publications is accepting submissions that honor National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15–October 15).

We are looking for work that celebrates the histories, cultures, and contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. National Hispanic Heritage Month works to pay tribute to the ways that Hispanic and Latinx Americans have enriched American culture, and we at Sundress Publications are seeking works that lend a voice to these diverse cultural contributions and histories.

Authors or publishers of books published in the past twelve months may submit to The Wardrobe. To do so, please forward an electronic copy of the book (PDFs preferred), author bio, photo of the cover, and a link to the publisher’s website to The Wardrobe’s email with the subject line “Hispanic Heritage.” In addition, we request that one print copy be mailed to Sundress Academy for the Arts, ATTN: The Wardrobe, 195 Tobby Hollow Lane, Knoxville, TN 37931.

Submissions to The Wardrobe will remain eligible for this “Best Dressed” selection for one year. Hard copies will become a permanent part of the Sundress Academy for the Arts library and be made available for review by our editors and/or affiliate journals.

For the complete details and rules, please see The Wardrobe website.

Sundress Announces the Release of a New Podcast, Shitty First Drafts

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Sundress Publications announces the release of a new podcast, Shitty First Drafts. A podcast made for and by writers, the show playfully investigates the creative processes of different artists to determine how a finished draft gets its polish.

Shitty First Drafts, hosted by writers Brynn Martin and Stephanie Lee Phillips, aims to demystify the writing process through conversation and a good sense of humor. During each episode, a guest writer is asked to share an older piece of writing—whether it’s an early draft of a current work or something scrawled in a high school notebook—juxtaposed against a newer, polished piece. While the show is centered around writing and drafting, it also seeks insight into the evolution of writers over time and how that affects the way they approach the page, revision, and getting shit done. SFD plans to interview writers of different genres, experience, and style, while asking the same question: how do you get from the shitty first draft to the final one?

 

brynnBrynn Martin is a Kansas native living in Knoxville, where she received her MFA in poetry from the University of Tennessee. She now works as the Literary Arts Director for Sundress Academy for the Arts. Her poetry has appeared in or is forthcoming from Contrary Magazine, Yes, Poetry, Rogue Agent, and Crab Orchard Review.

 

 

Stephanie Lee Phillips is a writer and photographer from Tennessee currently working stephanieat her alma mater and hanging out with mostly poets. She has a BFA in English from the University of Tennessee and an MA in fiction from the University of Southern Mississippi’s Center for Writers program. Currently living in Knoxville, TN, she works closely with the local literary non-profit Sundress Academy for the Arts and serves as art editor for the online literary journal, Stirring. Her fiction appears in Entropy Magazine.

 

 

Sundress Releases Wind on the Moon by Katie Burgess

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Sundress Releases Wind on the Moon by Katie Burgess

wind on the moon coverSundress Publications announces the 2019 release of Wind on the Moon by Katie Burgess, our 2018 Chapbook Competition winner. The stories in Wind on the Moon fit together seamlessly, creating a world that’s as real to us readers as it is enchanted with love and grief.

Katie Burgess uses playful form and familiar tales to distill the most complex family dynamics: a daughter reckons with her mother meeting her lover in the language of a math textbook. Adam and Eve become a husband and wife who “always did encourage each other’s bad behavior.” In the final story, the act of writing conflates with the creation of the universe, our narrator critiquing the work of a god: “I liked how in your first draft everything revolved around the Earth. That makes a lot more sense if the people there are going to be important.” And Burgess shows us the importance of all people, encouraging empathy and the desire to get to know every character, every person, no matter how insignificant they may seem at first. Burgess writes with an honesty so clear it aches. Wind on the Moon is one of those chapbooks you can’t wait to share with everyone you love.

Of the work, George Singleton, author of Staff Picks said, “I’ve never read in the literary biographies how Lydia Davis and Donald Barthelme hooked up, but the result is clear: Katie Burgess. Wind on the Moon is an amazing collection of short, jaundice-eyed, hilarious, sly, insightful, intelligent stories that the world needs now. One problem: This collection needs to be about ten times as long. These characters are human, human, human. They navigate in times that are increasingly disconcerting. They triumph and/or fail. I don’t know when I last read a collection of stories that made me think, ‘Yes! Yes, yes, yes! Exactly.’”

And Diane Roberts, author of Tribal: College Football and the Secret Heart of America said, “From the guys who faked the moon landing to what really went down in the Garden of Eden back in the day, Katie Burgess’s sly and sharp stories take you on a trip through the secret soul of America. Her prose shines like polished steel and cuts like an obsidian blade. She’s as funny as David Sedaris and twice as bold, giving God editorial advice and taking down the college industrial complex. Burgess is a writer on her way up. Read her now and be cooler than your friends!”Katie Burgess Author Photo

Katie Burgess holds a PhD in creative writing from Florida State and is editor-in-chief of Emrys Journal. Her writing has appeared in The RumpusNew Orleans ReviewSmokeLong Quarterly, and Reductress, among others. Her essay, “Rahab’s Thread,” was listed as “notable” in Best American Essays 2014 and was anthologized in Southern Sin: True Stories of the Sultry South and Women Behaving Badly (In Fact Books).

Download Wind on the Moon for free today!

 

Sundress Releases Manticore: Hybrid Writing from Hybrid Identities

Sundress Releases Manticore: Hybrid Writing from Hybrid Identities
edited by Nicole Oquendo

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Sundress Publications announces the release of Manticore: Hybrid Writing from Hybrid Identities, an anthology edited by Nicole Oquendo. The anthology features the work of Jennifer E. Hudgens, Nic Campeotto, Nina Sudhakar, and Emily Corwin, along with over two-dozen writers and artists tasked with uniquely articulating what it means to occupy a hybrid identity.

In these poems, narratives, photographs, and striking hybrids of genre, Manticore compellingly reveals the ways in which the seemingly unified self is composed of infinite ways of being in the world. The anthology is not only populated with beautiful, multimodal works of art, but also includes statements by each contributor about how they conceptualize and are inspired by the notion of hybridity. Though not all of Manticore’s pieces are explicitly presented as autobiographical works of nonfiction, they each offer the honesty and vulnerability of the intensely personal. The result is an intimate, powerful, and visually striking collection that is as unique as its talented group of contributors.

“Hybridity, for me, has always equated to possibility, and the creative work I enjoy most inhabits multiple genres at once. Within the last few years, growing and changing along with the labels that make up my identity—nonbinary, disabled, queer, Latinx, brujx, and so much more—I have discovered there is a glorious intersection of identity and form when it comes to the creation of work outside the boundaries of what is traditionally accepted. In gathering the work for this anthology, I wanted to focus on hybrid identities and the hybrid work these identities inspire, and I believe this collection—in the form of various media, highlighting both the truth and what is imagined—is a fantastic representation of what we can do when we embrace possibility with ferocity.” -Nicole Oquendo, Editor

Manticore is as surprising as it is lovely; exquisite, gut-wrenching hybridities that capture what it is to be outside. This collection of stories, poems, and images will captivate readers—its venom heady and delightful as it is deadly. A monstrous kind of magic is afoot here.” – M.R. Sheffield, author of Marvels

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Nicole Oquendo is a writer and visual artist that combines these elements to craftmultimodal nonfiction, poetry, and fiction, as well as translations of these forms. Their work can be found in literary journals like BOAAT, CutBank, DIAGRAM, and Gulf Stream, among others. They are the author of the hybrid memoir Telomeres, as well as five chapbooks, including their most recent, Space Baby: Episodes I-III.

The anthology is available for free download HERE.