Mary Soon Lee's Mailbox Blues
Since I started submitting short stories in 1992, I have been obsessed
by my mail, listening out for mail vans and postal workers. I learned
that ninety-nine out of a hundred 9x12 inch envelopes contain
rejection letters (acceptances come in exciting small envelopes,
addressed and stamped by the magazines themselves). This page
contains recent mail anxieties, in reverse chronological order....
Many thanks to Christopher Reynaga for the beautiful
camel-and-mailbox artwork, and to
David Jackson for the logo!
writers' mail reports:
Other sites of interest to the mail-obsessed
4 September 2012: Green Hills Literary Lantern
My poem "Problems (Again)" has been accepted for the 2013 issue
of Green Hills Literary Lantern :-)
18 August 2012: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"On Reading Children's Books" was accepted yesterday by
the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and appeared in today's paper,
much to my delight.
6 August 2012: Curiosity, Main Street Rag, Progress Report
Early this morning, William, Andrew and I watched the Mars Science
Laboratory land the Curiosity rover on Mars :-)
I have also had two poems published in Main Street Rag;
the poems are titled "Autumn Fire" and "Half-Caste."
Lastly, a progress report: 35 poems written so far in 2012. Exercise:
48 gym visits so far this year.
9 July 2012: Progress Report
Progress report: 33 poems written so far in 2012. Exercise: 43 gym
visits so far this year.... This represents zero progress on the poem
front since June, which is due to William and Lucy having started
their long summer break. I don't expect to write any new poems except
during the week when they are doing summer camp, but I have revised a
slew of older poems.
7 June 2012: Concho River Review + Progress Report
My poem "Open Houses" has just been published by Concho
River Review :-) This is my fourth appearance in Concho
Progress report: 33 poems written so far in 2012. Exercise: 38 gym
visits so far this year.
1 May 2012: Progress Report
Poems: 24 written so far in 2012. Exercise: 28 gym visits so far this
There is something unsatisfactory in merely counting how many poems
I've written -- clearly good poems ought to count for more than bad
poems, but as I cannot sit down at the computer and command myself to
write a masterpiece (nice though that would be), I will stick with
the current method.
5 April 2012: Progress Report
Poems: 18 written so far in 2012. Exercise: 22 gym visits so far this
7 March 2012: Amber Miro
My friend Amber Miro, my childhood best friend and lifelong friend,
died yesterday. It seems unreal. The sky is blue, the sun
is shining, but she is dead.
6 March 2012: Progress Report
Poems: 15 written so far in 2012. Exercise: 16 gym visits so far this
As well as writing new poems, I have been going through my backlog of
poems, submitting some, revising some, and retiring others (i.e.
ceasing trying to get them published). I'm also reading other
people's poetry when I have spare time (hah!), and recently finished
T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets," which I greatly liked (four long poems
first published during World War II).
6 February 2012: Progress Report
Poems: 8 written so far in 2012. Exercise: 10 gym visits so far this
On the non-writing front, I have been greatly enjoying watching
William play basketball with his school's 7th grade team. I
am almost at the point of wanting to watch a professional basketball
game on TV as the school games are so much fun.
13 January 2012: Concho River Review
My poem "Open Houses" has just been accepted by Concho
River Review :-) This is my first acceptance of the year :-)
3 January 2012: Happy New Year!
Happy New Year! Looking back over 2011, I see that I wrote 66 poems,
equalling 2010's tally. I also succeeded in losing a little weight
and exercising more often (a total of 99 times -- if only I had gone
swimming or to the gym once more!)
For 2012, I am setting myself a goal of 52 poems, for a
one-poem-per-week average. I would also like to keep exercising and
to lose a few more pounds.
Our family had a happy and busy and companionable Christmas break, and
it is sad to think it probably won't be until next Christmas -- if
then -- that Andrew can take so much time off from work.
17 December 2011: Christmas Break
William and Lucy had their last day of school yesterday :-) I'd
like to report that this is the end of worrying about homework
and alarm clocks for two weeks, but William has been assigned
one essay. Still it is only one essay, so things are pretty close
2 December 2011: Progress Report
Poems: 63 written so far in 2011. Exercise: 81 gym visits in 2011,
12 swimming sessions.
The end of the year is fast approaching and the school vacation is
only two weeks away, so I have officially abandonned my goal of writing
a short story this year. On the plus side, I have written a
satisfying number of poems, have exercised more than in any other year
in my life, and my Christmas shopping is well underway :-)
17 November 2011: 21 Years
21 years ago, on 17 November 1990, Andrew and I came to the States.
We thought we would be here for 2 or 3 years, while Andrew did a
post-doc at MIT, but it looks as though we underestimated our stay :-)
Our children were born here. We bought a house. We became American
31 October 2011: Progress Report
Poems: 57 written so far in 2011. Exercise: 73 gym visits in 2011,
12 swimming sessions.
I have exceeded my goal for the year of writing 52 poems, but have
thus far failed to write a short story. Happy Halloween!
14 October 2011: Children's Books (Oppel + Collins)
Over the past month or so, I have been reading some books that William
also recently devoured, and I have liked them very much indeed. A
friend of ours gave William "Airborn" by Kenneth Oppel, which had a
beautiful drawing of an airship on the cover.
Blimps/airships/dirigibles were William's first passion. When he was
about four years old, we would regularly go to the big Carnegie
Library in Oakland to search for blimp books. Sometimes helpful
librarians would journey to the Stacks to fetch us old blimp books
that he hadn't seen. Although William's interests have diversified
since then, he was hooked by the cover, and read and loved "Airborn."
Intrigued, I followed suit. Sure enough, it was a great book --
beautifully written, with well-drawn characters, an engaging plot, and
a wonderful setting (at least to those of us with any fondness for
blimps) in a world where airships are the main form of long-distance
Next, William became hooked on Suzanne Collins's Hunger Games trilogy
... and I again followed suit. The first book ("The Hunger Games")
was an impressive, fast, entertaining read in a very dsytopian future
where children are pitted against other children in an annual
gladitorial fight to the death. The second book ("Catching Fire") was
good, but less innovative. The third book ("Mockingjay") was my
favorite of the trilogy. In it, Suzanne Collins widened the scope and
depth of the story. Without giving specifics, I will say that
"Mockingjay" shows the toll of warfare. There is a great deal of loss
to cope with. People die. Children die. Children are traumatized.
In context, all of this is appropriate, but nonetheless there was at
least one occasion when I wanted to yell at the author - "How could
you do that?" And other occasions when I was very moved by a touch of
softness amid the dark.
28 September 2011: Main Street Rag
I am very glad to report that
Main Street Rag
has accepted my poems "Autumn Fire" and "Half-Caste." "Autumn Fire"
in particular is a personal favorite of mine. These will be my
fourteenth and fifteenth poems to appear in Main Street Rag.
24 September 2011: Revisions
Now that William and Lucy have returned to school, I am trying to
set aside one day a week for writing. As well as writing a few
new poems, I have been busy revising older ones. It can be quite
satisfying to hack away at an old poem: lopping off lines,
adding new sections, playing with word choice. But at other times I
am frustrated by tiny corrections that feel necessary but
tedious, such as adding or deleting a comma, or merging two lines
into one. Still, it's usually better than doing the laundry :-)
18 September 2011: Lucy
Lucy had her seventh birthday party today. This important event was
held at the local Bounce U, where she and her classmates were
able to bounce, climb, slide and shriek. Lucy continues to be a
delight -- affectionate, kind, creative, animal-loving, energetic, and
perceptive. Often my favorite part of the day is reading her a
chapter at bedtime. We recently read and both enjoyed "The Secret
Garden," followed by "The Borrowers," and yesterday we began "All
Creatures Great and Small." All three are books that I read as a
child, and two of them I also read to William when he was younger.
11 September 2011: Remembering
Ten years ago, I was with William -- then two years old -- for his
second ever morning of preschool. Part way through the session,
the director of the preschool entered and told us that the school
was closing "because of the situation." Not sure what was going
on, I walked home with William. We didn't have a TV, but I listened
to the radio and sat with William, and heard about the 9/11 attacks.
I wish I could thank all the people who helped out that day and in
the days that followed: firefighters, police officers, paramedics,
doctors, nurses, ordinary people. I wish that all those who were
killed were still alive and sitting with those who love them.
2 September 2011: Progress report
Poems: 49 written so far in 2011. Exercise: 58 gym visits in 2011,
12 swimming sessions.
Lucy and William went back to school on Tuesday. Having written
nothing since June, I wrote two poems this week. I have much to catch
up on. Poems came back over the summer, but I only sent out a few. I
have poems that I wrote in June that have yet to be submitted for the
first time. Then there is a stack of non-writing tasks, of which the
most urgent and the most enjoyable is preparing for Lucy's seventh
birthday, which is coming up soon.
20 August 2011: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
My poem "Before" is in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and also in
edition. I found out yesterday afternoon that the poem had been
accepted, and I am very happy to be in the Post-Gazette again (this is
my ninth poem that they've published).
9 August 2011: Yellowstone
We went on vacation to Yellowstone and it was excellent. We hiked,
swam, rafted, rode horses, and sat in hot springs. We saw bison, elk,
antelope, deer, osprey, bald eagles, bears, and I saw a wolf while the
rest of my family were asleep. We went on a trip organized by Austin
Lehman, and they did a fantastic job. It was very nice to be with
three other families (for a total of 9 children including our two).
The guides were wonderful. Matty K, one of our guides, carried Lucy
for a mile -- mostly uphill -- to get her to a doctor when she had a
very bad nosebleed. And it is quite delightful to hike for a couple
of miles and then be served delicious fruit before finishing the hike.
I think it's the best vacation we've had in twenty years.
27 July 2011: Main Street Rag
My poems "On the Shelf" and "Aloud" have just been published in the
Main Street Rag.
The second of the two poems is about reading aloud to William
and was written in May 2010, when I was still reading to him
fairly regularly, though not at the many-books-a-day rate of
his early childhood. I love reading to him, but it has become a
much rarer event over the past year. On the plus side -- and it is a
big plus -- it is a delight to see him reading to himself. He
nearly always brings emergency reading material with him,
sometimes cartoon books, sometimes fiction, and reads in the car,
while eating breakfast, etc.
20 July 2011: Much Ado About a Mouse
One afternoon I spotted a dead mouse lying outside near our house. I
was unhappy, but not too unhappy -- I expect there to be mice outside,
though I prefer not to meet them. The following morning I found a
dead mouse in my hall -- inside my house! -- near the front door. I
was very unhappy indeed, and had to put on a double layer of gloves
before I could pick up the small gray lump and drop it into a jar to
get rid of it. Later, I saw a live mouse hopping across the floor
near my office. I panicked and ran upstairs. Perhaps I screamed. I
do not like live mice in my house. I do not like them at all. I do
not like them with green eggs and ham.... Eventually, with two overly
interested cats nearby, I dealt with the mouse. Then a very kind
friend came and installed a clever cat-safe mouse trap that he
invented, plus the man who looks after the mouse baits outside our
house replenished them and added one new mouse bait (and plugged up
some holes in our mortar). For a couple more days, I inched around
the house, anticipating terrifying rodent encounters at every turn.
But we have had no more mice sightings, dead or alive. And long may
it stay that way....
8 July 2011: Progress report
Poems: 47 written so far in 2011. Exercise: 48 gym visits in 2011,
12 swimming sessions.
I wrote a few more poems in the closing days of the school year, but
have written no poetry (or short stories!) since William and Lucy
started summer break. I am very much enjoying the relaxed pace of
most of our days; yesterday, I felt almost indignant when I had to get
up early for a dentist appointment.... Lucy has had her first few
swimming lessons, which she greatly enjoyed, and we had quite a few
friends over for July 4th.
22 June 2011: Summer :-)
Two weeks in, I can report that I am enjoying summer break :-) We
went to Walt Disney World for a family vacation, and almost had a
great time. Specifically, we had a great start to our stay
there, but then William caught a stomach bug and spent the end of
the trip being sick in the hotel room, while Andrew and I took
turns taking Lucy to the Magic Kingdom and Epcot. Now we are
home and having a laid-back week. Our biggest excitement will
be taking Lucy for her first swimming lesson in several years --
she is, in fact, very excited about this.
8 June 2011: Summer :-)
It's official. William and Lucy are now on summer break :-) :-) :-)
School ended at midday and afterwards we had twelve children at our
house to celebrate (pizza, cookies, lemonade and many flavors of ice
cream). Now we are just settling into our first evening. Hooray!
31 May 2011: Progress report
Poems: 42 written so far in 2011. Exercise: 39 gym visits in 2011,
12 swimming sessions.
May was an abnormally productive month for me. I wrote 21 poems, half
my tally for the year so far. In addition, I revised a dozen older
poems. This activity spurt was partly due to having fewer
disruptions, and partly because I have been trying to settle down and
write before the long summer vacation starts. I do not expect to get
much -- if any -- writing done over the summer. Last summer I managed
one, yes, one poem over the summer break. Maybe this year I can
25 May 2011: Home
It is almost the three-year anniversary of our move to our current
house, and I am very happy in it. The back yard is particularly
appealing now that the warm weather is just starting and everything is
green. William and Lucy and I are spending more time outdoors; often
we eat our supper outside while it is still light. (I love the long
evenings of May, June, and July.) We have made few changes to the
inside of the house, but we did get magnificent bookshelves made for
my office, plus we had the living room nicely repainted and new lights
installed in it last year. I would be happy to keep living here for
thirty years :-)
19 May 2011: Concho River Review
My poem "Numbers" has just been published in Concho
River Review :-) Alas, a line was omitted from the first
stanza. Just in case anyone out there is puzzling over this, the
first stanza should read:
She craves the vague and willful ignorance
of those who would say, with easy charm,
that the glass before her is half empty,
the glass her date filled
twenty-eight minutes ago,
and, which, four swallows later,
stands five eighths consumed.
Three weeks from now, William and Lucy (and I) will be enjoying
the first day of their summer vacation!
17 May 2011: Sequences
Now that the total number of poems I have written is in the hundreds,
I can see that there are topics I return to, such as (surprise,
surprise) writing about William and Lucy. This is usually accidental,
but sometimes I find it satisfying to deliberately create a group of
poems that go together. The first sequence I created was back when I
was just switching over from mostly-writing-short-stories to
mostly-writing-poetry, when I wrote a short sequence about Household
Appliances. Sometimes I add to a sequence months or even years after
I started it (e.g. I still occasionally add to the Household
Appliances sequence), and sometimes a sequence never gets very far at
all. I have one sequence with just three poems in it, which has so
far stubbornly refused to yield a fourth poem. Maybe that should be
my writing challenge for the rest of the day....
9 May 2011: Improvements
So far, I am happy to report that May is going better than April in
our household. Everyone is healthy. Summer is well on its way. Our
air conditioning is working. Nothing is dripping in my office. And I
have written 7 poems since May 1st :-)
1 May 2011: Progress Report
Poems: 21 written so far in 2011. Exercise: 30 gym visits in 2011,
10 swimming sessions.
April was a rather disrupted month. First Lucy was ill for a week
with strep throat, then William was ill for a week with, yes, strep
throat. When we tried to turn on our air conditioning due to
unseasonably warm weather, it didn't work. My office has a drip,
which we have been trying to stop, but no luck so far -- I have three
bowls catching drips behind me as I type this. But we are all
basically well; we hosted a small but lively Easter egg hunt (10
over-excited children rushing around); I am eager for summer.
22 April 2011: William
William (my son) is 12 years old today. In about half an hour three
of his friends will arrive, and the four of them will all play
computer games together, after which we will go out for a fondue
supper. William has been home all week with strep throat, but happily
seems better today -- which is a school holiday -- if a bit tired,
partly because he got up early to open his presents.... Of course,
I am biased, but I think William has grown up to be a remarkably nice
12 April 2011: Yuri Gagarin
Here's to the memory of Yuri Gagarin, who, fifty years ago today,
became the first human in space when he orbited the Earth.
On the home front, this will be Lucy's second day missing school
due to a fever.
4 April 2011: Progress report
Another month, another progress report. I have now written 16 poems
in 2011, and both of my current favorites for the year-to-date were
written in March. (I note, however, that I sometimes like a poem when
I first write it, then decide on later reading that it is worse than I
thought, so my opinion of the March poems may deteriorate over time.)
On the exercise front, I have been to the gym 24 times and swum 9
times. I wrote no new poems during the two weeks of William and
Lucy's spring break, which bodes badly for the longer summer break.
And looking back through my records, I have just uncovered the ugly
truth that I wrote exactly one new poem during the twelve weeks of
last year's summer break. Ack! Maybe I can manage two poems this
summer break :-)
23 March 2011: England
We returned yesterday evening from a brief 5-night visit to England.
We would have preferred to stay longer, but we needed to be there for
a particular date (my mother-in-law's 70th birthday) and had to
squeeze the visit between Andrew's work commitments. Nonetheless we
had time to see many, many relatives who had gathered for the birthday
celebration. I think William and Lucy particularly enjoyed playing with
their cousins. The birthday event took place in Bath, and while we
were in Bath we did the most predictable tourist activity and visited
the remains of the Roman baths. We also spent one night in
Bournemouth where we saw Andrew's dad and the house that he grew up
in. On the final night, we stayed at an airport hotel, and I was very
grateful to my sister and my best friend from my childhood who both
traveled to the hotel so that I could see them over supper. A good,
but busy trip.
12 March 2011: Spring Break
Today is the first day of William and Lucy's spring break, and
in our own corner of the world all is going well. The sun is
shining, the sky is blue, William has no homework for the next
16 days. Beyond our corner (Libya, Japan) clearly things are
worse. I don't think I have anything more profound to say
than that I am very sorry that the earthquake struck Japan,
and I hope their recovery efforts go as well as possible.
5 March 2011: Progress report
Once again it is time to assess my progress so far this year. On the
writing front, I have written 11 poems in 2011. On the exercise
front, I have exercised at the gym 16 times and swum 8 times. Plenty
of room for improvement on both fronts, but it could be worse. And at
least I no longer have any dental work pending. My final filling
in the batch of three filling-replacements took place on Monday.
22 February 2011: Snow Day
It is a snow day here in Pittsburgh. William yelled with delight at
the news that he didn't have to go to school :-) Even shoveling has
been okay, as it is so bright and beautiful outside.
17 February 2011: Demotion
Yesterday I set myself the task of demoting ten poems, i.e. flagging
them as ones not to be submitted to magazines. If I like a poem, I
will keep on trying to find it a home, but those I am less
enthusiastic about get only a few tries at publication before I demote
them. A few poems never get sent out at all. Today I tallied up all
the poems in my do-not-submit pile, and found there are 135! Egads!
11 February 2011: Concho River Review
My poem "Numbers" has been accepted by Concho
River Review :-) This will be my third appearance there. The
timing of the acceptance was particularly good, as I have been feeling
rather dejected due to minor dental woes. In January, I learned that
three of my elderly fillings needed to be replaced. Two of them have
been replaced thus far, with one more to follow, and I am temporarily
restricted to soft food.
7 February 2011: Progress report
Alas, the Steelers lost the Super Bowl :-( And on this gloomy day, it
is time to measure my progress so far this year against my good
intentions. On the writing front, I have written 8 poems so far in
2011, which is satisfactory. Of course, it would have been nice if I
felt that any of the poems were stunningly brilliant, but at least I
like some of them. On the exercise front, I have exercised at the gym
nine times and swum five times, which is better than last year, but I
would like to do better.
25 January 2011: All clear
I get anxious about medical problems, both real and potential, so
I am very happy to report that this morning I had my annual mammogram
and all was well.
24 January 2011: Pittsburgh's Going to the Super Bowl
14 January 2011: In Memoriam, Ann Cecil
Today I learned that Ann Cecil died earlier this week. Ann Cecil was
the person who welcomed me to the Pittsburgh science fiction community
back in 1993, and she was always intelligent, witty and kind. She was
a major force in Pittsburgh fandom, both in PARSEC and the associated annual
I am very sorry indeed that she has died.
3 January 2011: Resolutions
I am repeating my poetry-writing goal from last year of 52 poems (an
average of a poem a week). I shall also try to write at least 1 short
story: it is over five years since I last wrote a short story and I
am nervous about returning to prose.
I am also going to try to be fitter. Last year I tried to swim
twice a week, but failed rather spectacularly -- averaging little
better than one swim a month.
So here we are, 3 days into the new year, and I have managed to swim
once and to write one poem. The trick will be to sustain this past
the end of January. Happy New Year!
21 December 2010: 5 AM
My poem "Monongahela River" appeared in 5 AM #32 :-)
16 December 2010: The books I've enjoyed reading aloud this year
Today is William and Lucy's last day of school before the winter
break, and so probably my last uninterrupted computer time for a
couple of weeks. So I thought I would take the opportunity to mention
the books that I've most enjoyed reading aloud to them this year.
William is now in 6th grade, and I don't get nearly as much chance to
read aloud to him as I would like, but this summer I had the great
pleasure of starting to read him the Aubrey and Maturin Napoleonic-era
nautical novels by Patrick O'Brian, and we are now on the fourth book
in the series. Earlier in the year I read him "All Things Wise and
Wonderful" by James Herriot, autobiographical stories of a vet's life
("All Things Wise and Wonderful" is circa 1940s.)
Lucy is in Kindergarten, and I read aloud to her quite a bit. In the
day, we usually read short picture books, but at bedtime I read her
chapters from longer works. This year I read her eight Mary Plain
books (childhood favorites of mine, written by Gwynedd Rae, and now,
alas, out of print). I also particularly enjoyed reading her four
books by Jill Tomlinson about different animals growing up. This year
we revisited Tomlinson's books about aardvarks, otters, gorillas, and
penguins (each of which we had previously read three times before).
I've also had fun reading her some children's poetry, including
A. A. Milne's two collections and one by Hilaire Belloc.
9 December 2010: The books I've enjoyed most this year
We're approaching the end of 2010, and I thought I'd mention
the books I've most enjoyed reading so far this year:
In January, I read my first book by Michael Connelly, "The Black
Echo," the start of his series about detective Harry Bosch. Less than
a year later, I have read ten Harry Bosch books, despite my (evidently
pathetic) efforts to ration them. This is a dark, intelligently
written, compelling series.
"Out Stealing Horses" by Per Petterson. A beautifully written,
beautifully translated novel set in Norway, narrated by an elderly man
settling in a remote forest, who also describes a summer he spent with
his father. The book conveys a love for its characters and the
landscape, and is very bittersweet.
"The Path Through the Trees" by Christopher Milne (son of
A. A. Milne), his second autobiographical book. While I found this
one notch less fascinating than its prequel ("The Enchanted Places"),
it is a moving, thought-provoking book.
"The Help," by Kathryn Stockett, an excellent novel about the
relationship between the black women and their white employers in
1960s Mississippi. As one would expect, some sections were upsetting,
but I managed not to cry during the story -- only to weep as I read
the author's afterword.
"The Unbearable Lightness of Scones," by Alexander McCall Smith. I am
a fan of Alexander McCall Smith's books, especially his "No. 1 Ladies'
Detective Agency" series. "The Unbearable Lightness of Scones" is
part of another entertaining series ("44, Scotland Street"), which was
written in daily installments for a Scottish newspaper. I
particularly liked the sections involving the dog, Cyril.
"The Name of the Wind," by Patrick Rothfuss, the lengthy and most
entertaining first installment in his epic fantasy "The Kingkiller
Chronicle." I would be lying if I said this was my favorite fantasy
work of all time (which remains a contest between Ursula K. Le Guin's
Earthsea books and Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings.") But I haven't
enjoyed a fantasy book as much in a long time. I have pre-ordered the
second installment from Amazon....
1 December 2010: 5 AM
I am happy to report that 5AM
accepted my poem "Monongahela River." This is a fairly recent poem,
written in September 2009. On the non-writing front, we have a little
snow here in Pittsburgh, and I feel that Christmas is approaching too
fast. The Christmas school break is my favorite time of year, but I
am not yet ready for it: no cards written, not enough presents bought,
25 November 2010: Thanksgiving
Happy Thanksgiving :-)
22 November 2010: Fictionwise
Today I received a royalty check from Fictionwise, who have
twenty-two of my short stories available for download. I sold
Fictionwise reprint rights to these stories between 2000 and 2003, and
now it seems very strange both to get these (small!) occasional
payments and also to think that someone out there is reading my
fiction. For the past five years, I've only written poetry. Next
year I hope to write at least one story as well as fifty-two poems.
16 November 2010: Market precedence and rejection notes
Editors are busy and I understand the need for form rejections, so I
always appreciate it when someone comments on my submission.
Yesterday I received a friendly and encouraging note from River
Styx. It was my first submission to them, but I made a note in my
file to try them again next year. I have a lengthy list of markets,
which I attempt to prioritize -- factors such as being a local
publication or sending me positive feedback give a magazine higher
priority; being very slow to respond gives them lower priority.
Charging reading fees eliminates a market from consideration
altogether (although perhaps I ought to relax that constraint and
submit to a few contests despite their charging reading fees).
5 November 2010: Hayakawa Publishing
Fifteen years ago, my short story "Ebb Tide" appeared in F&SF.
Since then the story has been reprinted nine times, including Czech,
Danish, Dutch, German, Italian, Japanese and Spanish translations.
Yesterday I received a letter from the Japanese publisher (Hayakawa
Publishing) saying they would like to reprint "Ebb Tide" in a
paperback edition of their anthology. I am delighted that this story
will be appearing again :-)
30 October 2010: The Fourth River
My poem "No One Could Love It" has just been published in The Fourth River, Issue 7,
Autumn 2010. The Fourth River is published within walking
distance of our house at Chatham University -- indeed I will be
walking over to Chatham University on Tuesday as it is where I go to vote.
28 October 2010: Slow replies
A few days ago I mentioned that I was querying two places about poems
submitted a long time ago. Today I heard back from The Carolina
Quarterly, who sent a very friendly form rejection apologizing for
slow response times (and they were indeed slow -- over a year in my
case). The rejection came in the SASE that I sent with my original
submission, so it may be just a coincidence that I had queried them
recently. In any event, I am glad to have the poems freed up,
and the wording of the form rejection took the sting out of it.
22 October 2010: Online or snail-mail?
When I first noticed magazines offering -- or sometimes even requiring
-- online submissions rather than old-fashioned snail-mail
manuscripts, I was distinctly unenthusiastic. While my resistance has
been whittled away, it is still a small inconvenience to find the
files for different poems, bundle them up into a set, and then save
the poems in whatever form a magazine requires. But it is extremely
handy to be able to check the status of a submission online (a feature
offered by most places accepting online submissions). I have two
batches of poems that I am querying at the moment, both submitted via
the US Postal Service, and it could take months before I receive a
reply saying they never received the manuscripts, or rejected them, or
(unlikely) are still considering them over a year later.
16 October 2010: Atlanta Review
My poem "Details" is in the Fall/Winter 2010 issue of the Atlanta Review :-) This is my
third appearance in The Atlanta Review.... When I first
started writing, I used to be less eager to submit to publications
that had accepted me in the past. I can't remember my reasoning
very well -- and it wasn't very good reasoning anyhow! -- but I
wanted to try to be published in many different places, rather
than appearing many times in a few places. Now if I like a magazine,
then I am delighted to appear there repeatedly.
5 October 2010: Iodine Poetry Journal
My poem "A Fabric Album" has been published by Iodine Poetry Journal
:-) Since I last updated this mailbox page, I have also met my
self-imposed goal of writing 52 poems in 2010 -- I wanted to average
at least a poem a week over the course of the year. Even though that
still leaves me as one of the least productive writers in existence,
it is the most productive I have been since Lucy was born.
18 September 2010: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
My poem "Inside the Suits," accepted for reprinting two days ago, has
now indeed appeared
in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Hooray :-) This poem was first
published by Main
Also, I have had more good news to report than usual this month, but,
in case it isn't obvious, I get far more rejections than acceptances.
Since I usually submit five poems in a batch, even if one poem is accepted,
there are typically four poems that get rejected at the same time.
17 September 2010: Unexpected possible reprint
This morning I received email requesting permission to reprint my poem
Mall-Fever in an educational series for English as a second
language (the poem first appeared in Atlanta Review). It's
satisfying to think that the poem -- which is definitely on the light
side -- may end up serving a useful purpose.
16 September 2010: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
John Allison of the
phoned to accept my
poem "Inside the Suits," which was first published by
Main Street Rag
a couple of months ago. I am delighted that the poem will be
reprinted and I am particularly pleased that it will be in the
13 September 2010: Lucy
Lucy is six years old today, and, as usual, a delight, very excited
and very enthusiastic about everything (including her presents) :-)
9 September 2010: Main Street Rag acceptances
In my previous message, I mentioned that I had only made one
submission in the past two and a half months. Today I heard back that
Main Street Rag
is accepting my poems "On the Shelf" and "Aloud" :-) They have
published eleven of my earlier poems, and I am very happy that they
will be publishing these two, especially as "Aloud" is a personal
favorite of mine.
Inevitably, I do have favorites among my poems and stories. Some of
those favorites fare well, e.g. "Aloud," which was accepted on its
second try. Others spend ages trying to find a home..... N.B. Now
that William and Lucy are back at school, I have managed to write a
few new poems, revise half a dozen older poems, and to send out more
31 August 2010: Back to school
William and Lucy returned to school this morning; William is entering
6th grade and Lucy is starting Kindergarten. I spent a few minutes
with Lucy in her classroom, but once she started chatting to a friend,
she was completely absorbed. She is very outgoing and I think she
will have a great year.... On the writing front, I am about to tackle
five sets of poetry rejections that piled up over the summer. I have
only made one submission in the past two and a half months (to a
magazine I like that has published me several times) and need to get
back into the routine of writing, revising, and submitting.
14 August 2010: Slowest rejection
In what I think is my slowest-ever rejection, I received a slip from
The Plastic Tower saying that they had unearthed a couple of
boxes of mislabeled submissions. My submission returned to me seven
and a bit years after I sent it. Since then the magazine has been put
on indefinite hiatus :-(
Speaking of slow, I am doing a very poor job of keeping up-to-date
with this mailbox page over the summer. But I am very much enjoying
the company of William, Lucy and our two kittens.
10 July 2010: Main Street Rag
I received my contributor's copy of Main Street Rag,
Volume 15, Number 3, Summer 2010, containing my poems "Inside the
Suits" and "It's a Small World" :-)
17 June 2010: Kittens
We adopted two eleven-week old kittens on Sunday. They are brothers,
both ginger and white, and both exceedingly cute :-)
4 June 2010: Summer Break
William and Lucy finish school for the summer this afternoon, and I am
very, very much looking forward to turning off our alarm clocks,
relaxing, and having more time with William and Lucy. On the
downside, I expect to switch from a writer of low productivity to one
of near-zero productivity over the summer....
18 May 2010: Voted
I just voted in the primaries. If you are eligible to vote, try to do
11 May 2010: iPad
Andrew (my husband) gave me an iPad!!! And it arrived today :-)
So far it seems a very lovely device, and I am looking forward
to getting to know it better.
1 May 2010: Ship of Fools
My poem "Christmas News" was published by Ship of Fools :-)
On the non-writing front, we are hoping to get a kitten in about a month,
an event we are eagerly anticipating.
31 Mar 2010: England + Paris
Yesterday we returned from a 10-day family vacation to England and
Paris. Lucy and I hadn't been to England for nearly five years, so
friends and relatives skipped straight from the 2005-baby-Lucy edition
to the 2010-5-year-old Lucy. (Andrew and William have been to England
more frequently.) We saw Andrew's father, mother, mother's husband,
sister, brother-in-law, niece and nephew, plus my sister and some of
my family friends, so there was much catching up. We also played
on Bournemouth beach, toured the H.M.S. Victory (Nelson's flagship),
and Lucy and I rode the London Eye.
Toward the end, we caught the train through the Channel Tunnel to
Paris, where we spent a day sightseeing. Lucy and William climbed
to the second level of the Eiffel Tower (equivalent to climbing to
the 43rd floor of a skyscraper) with impressive ease and only a
few complaints from Lucy, then we rode a boat along the Seine,
and ran around outside Notre Dame. Overall, a very successful
but exhausting trip.
18 March 2010: Ship of Fools
My poem "Christmas News" was accepted by Ship of Fools :-)
And on the weather front, although the snow stayed through the start of
March, it has finally disappeared from our yard and a few
crocuses have surfaced.
18 February 2010: Iodine Poetry Journal
My poem "A Fabric Album" was accepted by Iodine Poetry Journal :-)
On the weather front, we still have a LOT of snow around, and I am
wondering if I will get to see the grass in our yard before March.
9 February 2010: Snow
I see it has been nearly a month since I updated this webpage, and
once again the weather is on my mind. We have had about two feet of
snow here, and I have spent about four hours shoveling. People can
now walk along our stretch of sidewalk, and my car is now able to
drive away from our house. But I don't plan to start driving until
the streets are safer (unless we have an emergency). We have been
fortunate: our electricity, gas, water, and even internet have all
stayed in operation. Last night I woke up at 4AM, hearing voices in
our back yard; it turned out to be the electric company restoring
service to some less fortunate people. The forecast says we can
expect about another 6 inches of snow in the next 24 hours, so I shall
keep my fingers crossed that everything keeps on working!
10 January 2010: Weather
It feels as though it has been below freezing here in Pittsburgh
for weeks, but apart from snow coating everything, things
continue much as usual. William and Lucy have only had one snow
day and no snow delays. However, my husband had considerable
difficulty flying to England. For a start, his flight didn't
make it to England, but was diverted to Scotland. From there he
had to first travel to a different Scottish city, then catch a
flight to England. His return flight took off from the correct
airport, but left six hours late.... Although I would appreciate
some warmer days, the snow makes our backyard look completely
beautiful.... A belated Happy New Year to anyone reading this!
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