Saturday, October 17, 2020

The Turtle Moves Slowly But It Moves

It hardly seems possible that it was five years ago this month that I started Terrapin Books! And yet our Open Reading period #10 ended on August 31. There's cause for celebration. Each year the number of submissions increases and the quality of those submissions goes up. I accepted four outstanding manuscripts during the August reading period. I also accepted the first two titles for our new Redux Series for poets with a previous Terrapin title.

I wish I could take more manuscripts for publication, but I want to give careful attention to each poet and each book. That means carefully editing each manuscript and going through multiple back and forths during revision and proofreading. There is also a good deal of time that goes into cover design. I look forward to working with the four new Terrapin poets and the two returning poets.

Since starting Terrapin Books, I've published 24 single author collections:

Neil Carpathios, Confessions of a Captured Angel
Lynne Knight, The Persistence of Longing
Jessica de Koninck, Cutting Room
Christine Stewart-Nunez, Bluewords Greening
Patricia Clark, The Canopy
Carolyn Miller, Route 66 and Its Sorrows
Susanna Lang, Travel Notes from the River Styx
Hayden Saunier, How to Wear This Body
Michelle Menting, Leaves Surface Like Skin
Karen Paul Holmes, No Such Thing as Distance
Geraldine Connolly, Aileron
Michael T. Young, The Infinite Doctrine of Water
Lisa Bellamy, The Northway
Paige Riehl, Suspension
Gary J. Whitehead, Strange What Rises
Ann Fisher-Wirth, The Bones of Winter Birds
Sarah Wetzel, The Davids Inside David
David Graham, The Honey of Earth
Kory Wells, Sugar Fix
Dion O’Reilly, Ghost Dogs
Ann Keniston, Somatic
Yvonne Zipter, Kissing the Long Face of the Greyhound 
Heather Swan, A Kinship with Ash

In addition, the first title in our Redux series has just been published. This will be followed by the second title in February:
Patricia Clark, Self-Portrait with a Million Dollars 
Hayden Saunier, A Cartography of Home (forthcoming)

Terrapin expects to publish the four recently accepted manuscripts in 2021. Look for new books by the following poets:

Robin Rosen Chang
Meghan Sterling
Jeff Ewing
Diane LeBlanc

While our main focus is on single-author collections, we’ve also published three anthologies:
The Doll Collection, ed. Diane Lockward
The Book of Donuts, eds. Jason Lee Brown and Shanie Latham
A Constellation of Kisses, ed. Diane Lockward

And we've published three craft books:
The Crafty Poet: A Portable Workshop
The Crafty Poet II: A Portable Workshop
The Practicing Poet: Writing Beyond the Basics

A fourth craft book is underway but still very embryonic.

Terrapin looks forward to continuing to publish poetry books.We pride ourselves on the quality of our books and the beauty of their covers. We also pride ourselves on the collaborative relationship we try to build with each poet.

We hold two open reading periods each year. Our next open reading period will be January 24 - February 28, 2021. Guidelines are posted at the website. Perhaps you’ll join our list of poets?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Summer Journals 2020

Get your mailbox ready to receive good news.

It's that time of year again. During the summer months, many of us have more time to write and submit, but quite a few journals close their doors to submissions for the summer. Do not despair. There are still many journals that do read during the summer and some that read only during the summer. This is a list of those journals, all print. I'm happy to add print journals to this list, but please do not send me online journals to add.

Journals come and go and guidelines and reading periods change, so be sure to check websites. I have updated this list within the last few days. But please let me know of any errors or changes you find.
I've added links for your convenience. I've also indicated the number of issues per year, the submission period dates, which journals accept simultaneous submissions, and which ones require snail mail submissions. Almost all of the journals have now switched to online submissions.

If no dates are given, the journal reads all year.

Good luck!

Asheville Poetry Review—3x—Jan. 15-July 15

Atlanta Review—2x—no June or Dec

Bat City Review—1x—July 1-Nov 1

Beloit Poetry Journal—2x—June 1-Aug 31

Black Warrior Review—2x—June 1-Sept 1

Briar Cliff Review—1x—all year

Cimarron Review—4x


Cream City Review—2x—Aug 1-Nov 1

The Florida Review—2x—Aug 1-May 31 (subscribers all year)

The Fourth River—1x—opens July 1—Dec 1

Grist—1x—May 15--Aug 15
snail mail
no sim

Hayden’s Ferry—2x—opens for submissions August 1

Hudson Review—4x—April 1-June 30 (all year if a subscriber)
snail mail
no sim

via email attachment or Submittable
(prefers no sim but will take)
 snail mail

metrical only

Michigan Quarterly Review—4x--August 1--Nov 30

Minnesota Review—2x—August 1–November 1

Missouri Review—4x--all year

The Mom Egg—1x—May 1—July 15

Naugatuck River Review—2x—July 1-Sept 1
for the winter issue

Nimrod—2x—Jan 1-Nov 30

Pinyon—2x--all year August 1—Dec 1

Pleiades—2x—June 1--July 1

Ploughshares—3x—June 1 to January 15

Poetry—11x--all year

The Raleigh Review—2x—opens July 1—Oct 1


Redactions—2x—by email–all year

Rhino—1x—April 1-July 31

River Styx—3x—May 1 thru Feb 1

via email

Salt Hill—2x—July 15—Sept 1
month of July
via email

Saw Palm—1x—opens July 1
must have a Florida connection

Southern Humanities Review—4x—Aug 24-Nov 1
snail mail or via their website

Sugar House Review—2x—opened May 31

Tahoma Literary Review—3x—now thru July 31

32 Poems—2x

snail mail

Washington Square Review—2x—Aug 1-Oct 15

Monday, April 27, 2020

Helping Your Manuscript Submission Make a Good First Impression

In the almost-five years since I started Terrapin Books, I’ve read a lot of submissions. I hold two open reading periods each year and have the same guidelines for both. I’ve made those guidelines as specific and clear as I can, but I keep finding the same errors in the submissions. So I thought it might be useful to share some of my thoughts on making your submission look good. These suggestions are based on my experiences at Terrapin.

First, it should go without saying that you need to read and follow the Guidelines. But it’s quite clear that some people really don’t bother reading the guidelines. Guidelines vary from press to press, so you must read them each time you submit. My press wants your identifying information on the manuscript, but some presses specify that you should not include it. Be sure you know what each press wants and then provide it. Include everything that the guidelines ask for. I ask for a 4-6 sentence description of what the manuscript is about. Each submission period I receive a number of submissions that omit this information. Don’t be that person.

Most guidelines ask for a cover letter. Yours should be written in first person, friendly but not overly familiar. Be sure you correctly name the press you’re submitting to. When I read a cover letter in which the writer says she’s happy to submit her manuscript to Red Hen Press, well, I get a bit of a laugh, but I think the writer would be happier not making that mistake. Make sure your letter is accurate and directed to the publisher you are submitting to. Be sure to spell the publisher’s name correctly. I wish I had a dollar for each time I’m addressed as Diane Lockwood instead of Lockward. I don’t hold that against anyone. There’s no penalty, but it does suggest that you’re careless when you get the publisher’s name wrong. Do not include your age. I’m amazed by how many poets include this information—and it’s always from an older poet who seems to be apologizing for having grown old or bragging about the advanced years. Just omit that detail. Let it be your little secret.

Most guidelines also ask for a bio. If you are adding the bio after the cover letter, it should be in third person. Keep it brief, maybe one healthy paragraph. Include titles of books you’ve previously published. Be sure to include the name of the press for each title. If you omit that information, you may give the impression that you don’t want to reveal who published your previous collections. (If you’ve published many books, include the most recent 2 or 3.) Include the names of 3-4 journals that have published your work. Do not include an extensive list. Select the best journals, the ones you’re most proud of. And please, I’m begging you, do not brag about or even mention how many publications you’ve had in journals. This kind of bragging is just unattractive and unnecessary. Please also be sure not to say that you have been “widely” or “extensively” published. Do not refer the publisher to your website for additional information. And most especially don’t tell the publisher that she can find your bio at your website. The publisher isn’t going to go in search of your bio. Provide it with your submission.

Regarding the manuscript itself, do not put a copyright symbol anywhere on your manuscript. This implies that you fear the publisher/editor might steal your work. Your manuscript is automatically copyrighted once your name is on it. Don’t offend the publisher! And don’t look like an amateur.

Do not include any decorative flourishes such as clipart or photos. Use one consistent font throughout the manuscript. Do not use a script font! Poem titles may be larger but poems should all be the same size font. Use black ink, no colors. The publisher isn’t interested in fancy formatting.

Put one space after a period. If you persist in inserting two spaces, you will make yourself look outdated. Since the invention of the computer, one space has been the convention. Two spaces is just wrong as well as outdated.

Once you have prepared your submission according to the publisher’s guidelines, check and double check. Then kiss your manuscript goodbye and wish it luck as you press that Submit button.

Terrapin Books will be open for submissions of full-length poetry collections from August 1 thru August 31. Please be sure to read the Guidelines (of course!) and the FAQs.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Terrapin Books: Upcoming Open Reading Period

Terrapin Books will open for submissions of full-length poetry manuscripts on January 24 and will remain open thru February 29, 2020. We look forward to reading many fine submissions.
Our Guidelines are as follows:
Submit a manuscript of approximately 40-55 poems for a book of approximately 90-110 pages (count includes poems, front and back matter, blank pages, and section pages).

Include contact information on title page (we do not read anonymous submissions). Use one inch margins all around.

Do not use all caps for poem titles.

Include Table of Contents.

Include page numbers.

Include Acknowledgments Page that lists journals and poem titles. Format as a list indicating which poems appeared in which journal. Do not format in paragraph form. Please note that we allow a maximum of 6 poems from a previously published chapbook(s). Regardless of the number of chapbooks, it’s no more than a total of 6 chapbook poems. Poems previously published in a chapbook should be indicated as such on the Acknowledgments page. Include title of poem and title of chapbook.

In cover letter area include a brief bio and a 4-6 sentence description of your manuscript—in your own words. Do not send a blurb.

We recommend that 25-50% of the poems have been previously published. More is fine.

Simultaneous submission is acceptable but please withdraw your manuscript immediately if it's accepted elsewhere.

We strongly suggest that you peruse at least one book from Terrapin Books before submitting. We suggest that you do this with any press before you submit.


Terrapin Books is committed to publishing outstanding books of poetry by outstanding poets. We intend to fully support our poets. We will edit your manuscript and work with you on revisions. We expect our poets to actively engage in promoting their books. We require our poets to maintain a dedicated website and to be a member of Facebook.

Our books are 6 x 9, paperback, color cover, printed spine.

We are committed to publishing accepted titles within approximately six months of acceptance. We do not maintain a long list of books-in-waiting.

We offer a standard contract, a generous number of author copies, a substantial discount on additional copies purchased by author, and a royalty payment.

Please note that we are unable to accept submissions from outside the US.

All submissions must be made thru our Submittable page.

Our guidelines and link to Submittable may also be found on our website.

We are happy to respond to questions, but please read our FAQs before asking as your answer may be found there.

Friday, December 20, 2019

Yes, Virginia

Each Christmas I like to revisit the following essay from the The Sun. My grandmother read it to me many years ago. I've always remembered it. If you don't already know this piece, I hope you'll enjoy it. I also hope you'll have a Merry Christmas if that's what you're celebrating. And I hope you'll have a wonderful New Year. Thank you for being a Blogalicious reader.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's The Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial on September 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history's most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

Here's Virginia's letter:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


Here's the reply:

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except what they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Friday, December 6, 2019

A Constellation of Kisses Buzzing at The Hive Poetry Collective

Click for Amazon
Recently Dion O'Reilly invited me to be interviewed on her podcast, "The Hive Poetry Collective." We spent 50 minutes talking about my new anthology, A Constellation of Kisses. I read a few of my own poems and we talked about Terrapin Books and the anthology. The end of the program included Danusha Laméris reading "The Kissing Disease," her poem from the anthology. Then Dion read "Birdman," her own poem from the book.

I loved the entire interview, but I especially loved the closing part, so I asked Dion if she could extract that part from the longer interview  and she kindly did so for a 13-minute program.

Danusha's poem was written for the anthology. In “The Kissing Disease,” the poet takes us back to high school, to those first precious, delicious kisses—and, for some, the mononucleosis that results when desire "enters the blood.” Here's the poem:

The Kissing Disease

Isn’t that what they called it? The fever
you could catch from pressing your lips
to the lips of another in the dark corner
of the gym after the game, or later,
lying down in the rough bramble
of the field. Wasn’t that how it began?
And didn’t it lead to a long malaise—
a month in bed, swollen glands
of the neck? You had to sip hot fluids,
eat crackers laced with salt, lie down
until it passed. What a way to meet
the god of want, slack deity who slips
into the back of your throat, microscopic
germ. The way we learn desire
is a contagion cast from one body
to the next. Something you contract
by getting close enough to inhale
the whiff of musk rising from her
like a lick of flame. Or from feeling
his shirt shake beneath your palm—
the dizzy of his heart. Bitter particle,
trick spore. Microbe hidden
in the volcano of the mouth.
Malady of the young, virus
of the tonsil, the tongue. What
can we say of how it enters the blood,
scorches a path through the veins,
sickens us with hunger, shapes
the course of what’s to com

Dion's poem is a revision of a poem she wrote years ago. “Birdman” is about her pet of 40 years, a parrot with one damaged wing. Dion addresses her bird as "my little green man," and describes him as “full of loathing” and wearing a “plumed suit the color of lawn.” Here's the poem:


Every morning, my Amazon parrot greets me
as he has since the day I bought him
for ten bucks on a dusty road
with his downcast rage and broken wing.

Hello Birdman, I say, and from his iron cage
he chirps like a telephone, lowers his yellow head,
so I can scratch the down beneath his pin feathers,
lift him to my lips for a clucky kiss.

For over four decades, he’s hated
first my boyfriends, then my husbands, three dogs, and a cat.
On the October morning when I carried my swaddled
twins into the sunroom and set them in the bassinet,
he watched with one yellow eye, tilted his head,
raked the air with his screams. Oh, he’s full of loathing,
my little green man.

How could he have known— as he flew
above the milpas in Hermosillo, before some kid
shot off his wing—that for the rest of his life,
he would live with a giant companion looming
over him with heavy bones and fleshy claws.

And how could I have known my prince
would fill a space in the chaos
three inches wide and eight inches long, that he would
kiss me at dawn with his Bakelite beak and
dry tongue— wear a plumed suit the color of lawn.

Interspersed between the readings, the two poets talk about poems and love, the strange turns both take.

I am delighted to have these two wonderful poems included along with 105 other poems in A Constellation of Kisses.

Both poets have forthcoming collections. Danusha's second book, Bonfire Opera, will be published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in spring 2020. Dion's debut collection, Ghost Dogs, will be published by Terrapin Books in mid-February 2020.

You can (and should!) listen to the short podcast here. Then you should get the whole book. And while you're at it, get some for your friends. A Constellation of Kisses makes an excellent gift for the poets in your life.

Listen to the full interview here.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Finding the Right Cover Art for Your Poetry Book

I like to work collaboratively with my Terrapin poets on cover design. Once a manuscript has been accepted, I ask the poet if he or she has any initial ideas in mind. Some know immediately what they want and have already selected a piece of art. If I like it too, we go with it. Other poets have no idea, but most are somewhere in between. That’s when we begin the hunt for the perfect cover. The hunt usually takes some time, but it’s an enjoyable, exciting process. Following is a Q&A with Kory Wells whose poetry collection, Sugar Fix, was recently published by Terrapin Books. I’ve invited Kory to talk with me about our search for her perfect cover.

Diane Lockward: Most poets begin to imagine a cover for their book as soon as the manuscript is accepted. When you learned that Terrapin Books had accepted your manuscript, what cover images came into your head? What expectations did you have for your cover?

Kory Wells: While I was still revising the manuscript, I had the idea that I might like the cover to include or somehow suggest an image of a red velvet cake, after one of the poems in the collection. I'd also caught a bit of inspiration from the photography of Jill Wellington, whose stock images I've used to promote some individual poem publications on social media. 

Despite these ideas, at the very beginning of the process with Terrapin, I was trying to keep my expectations largely in check! I'd had some frustrations working with the publisher of my chapbook to arrive at a cover we both liked. For Sugar Fix, I was thrilled that you wanted my ideas and confident that even though I might not get my first pick, I’d ultimately get a cover I was happy with since Terrapin has consistently produced attractive books. Of course your covers are on your website, but I'd purchased several Terrapin titles before I ever submitted to you. As an author, I think it's imperative to know a press produces a book you'll be proud of.

Diane: How did you go about searching for a good image?

Kory: First of all, I pulled books of all genres from my shelves to consider what really stood out to me. I realized I wasn't against using a photo, but I gravitated more toward some sort of painting or collage.

Next I made a private Pinterest board to share with you some of these images and other cover ideas. I made notes on what I liked about certain covers: the collage on Cecilia Woloch's Carpathia, the fonts and whimsy of Kim Sunée's A Mouthful of Stars, and the intriguing surreal painting on Ashley Seitz Kramer's Museum of Distance, just to name a few. Although my cover doesn't look particularly like any of these, I see now how they informed our path.

Diane: I recall that the first image we seriously considered for the cover of Sugar Fix was a single slice of red velvet cake on a plate floating in air. It initially seemed perfect for your book which several times references red velvet cake. We both loved that image. I enhanced the colors, then muted them. I worked up several sample covers. You did too, but we ended up not using the image. Tell us why we had to abandon it.

Kory: I am quite taken with the work of Charles Keiger, and as you say, his red velvet cake was so tempting to use. On his blog he even says that the painting to him is about nostalgia and longing, two themes that  occur in Sugar Fix. Ultimately, though, the image didn't pass my gut check. Although some of the poems in the book turn toward darkness, the painting felt too moody for the collection as a whole. Some might consider this a poor aesthetic, but I wanted a cover that simply made me feel happy when I looked at it.

Diane: I recall that you next zeroed in on the art of Janet Hill. What attracted you to her work?

Kory: I'd discovered Janet Hill not too long ago when I was adding images to my Pinterest board "The Art of Reading," paintings that show people engaged with books. To me, much of Hill's work is a delightful combination of romantic and quirky; they feel vintage and yet contemporary. Her paintings have a charm that seems very Southern (although Hill lives in Ontario) and are at times darkly comic. I like to think all those same descriptions apply to Sugar Fix.

Diane: You found a kitchen image by Janet Hill that we liked, but I felt it was too similar to the cover of another book that Terrapin had just published. Then there was another one we liked, but when I contacted the artist we learned that it was no longer available. How did we finally arrive at the image we used?

Kory: I confess I still think about that evocative kitchen scene with a teal refrigerator (teal is my favorite color)! But I totally understood Terrapin's need for a different look. I used Canva to make mock-ups of our two final choices, printed and trimmed them to actual book size, and road-tested on my family members. You made some mock-ups with your cover software. Neither of us could argue with the results: the coconut cake on that vibrant green background caught everyone's eye!

Diane: Once we’d settled on the image and obtained the artist’s permission to use it, how did we arrive at the final design?

Kory: The painting itself more or less pointed us to the position of the title and other text; I think deciding the font for the cover was the most important decision. All along I'd leaned toward a script, and you sent several choices. Again, I was printing out options and laying them on the kitchen table to "live with" for a bit. The back cover was all yours—and though the graphic element is a rose, it's delightfully close to a buttercream rose!

Sugar Fix is available at Amazon, B&N, and the Terrapin bookstore.

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