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As an editor, I love receiving emails from enthusiastic, potential contributors who are looking for advice regarding how to hone their craft and really get their work out there. It’s refreshing to get an email from someone genuinely seeking answers about what they can do to become a better writer.

For example, I recently received an email from an individual asking if I could provide him with any tips or resources (or both) that would help him improve his writing and in turn get his work seen and read by others. Below is an excerpt of the email I sent to this aspiring young author. I hope that if there are any other young writers out there who are working hard to perfect their skills, you will find this information helpful.

Dear [Writer],

First and foremost, the best piece of advice I can offer is a shared bit of knowledge my favorite Creative Writing professor bestowed upon me my sophomore year in college. If you want to be a better writer, you’re going to need to write. You need to write a lot. You need to write every day. Scribble a short story, a poem, an essay, it doesn’t matter because 99% of the time it’s going to be crap anyway. But the only way to become a better writer is to write. If you want to be a great writer, you need to write and you need to learn how to proof-read. Go write your crappy short story and then proof-read that sucker and highlight the pieces you like. Re-write it. Proof-read it again. Highlight some more. Re-write. Proof-read. Highlight. Do this until the entire page is covered in the highlighter color of your choice and maybe, just maybe, you’ll have something that’s worth somebody’s time to read. If you really want to write, if it is the burning passion of your soul, you need to be willing to embrace the fact that this is how you will be spending the majority of your time. Re-writing crap. 

Word for word that is the most straight-forward and honest advice anyone has ever given me. I truly believe every word of it with all of my heart.

Another bit of advice I can offer you is to tell you to get involved. There are classes, groups, workshops and conferences all over the place out there. All you have to do is look and have the guts to give it a try. Whether you’re a published or unpublished writer, I understand the thought of attending something like a conference can be intimidating. The experience itself can be frustrating. But you’ll never know unless you try. Newpages recently released their updated guide to some of the best conferences in the country. Give ’em all a look and see if you can find something to your liking.

A conference or small group gives you the opportunity to share your work with others and receive feedback. You get to brainstorm with other writers who can offer a fresh perspective, pick up other tips and tricks from old pros, figure out what direction you really want to take your work. Getting involved and associating with other writers (I know we tend to be a reclusive bunch) is one of the greatest favors you could ever do yourself.

Back to Newpages. NewPages.com is my go to source for literary magazines and all things writing-related.In fact, Decades Review is listed on NewPages but I’m sure you already knew that.

They’re a great source for researching writing conferences, creative writing programs and publishers. They list creative writing programs from across the country, contests, calls for submissions from top-notch magazines like BoothCarveand The Chatahoochee Review and new hot-shot literary journals like The Boiler, Cruel Garters  and Nichethey even have a place where you can get your own blog listed, here.

So if you are really looking to get your work out there and into the hands and hearts of others NewPages has you covered, all you have to do is work up the guts to submit. From one writer to another, this is the best advice I can give you. I hope it helps.

Paige Edenfield, Poetry Editor
Decades Review

 

Decades Review accepts submissions year-round. We are currently reading for our October, 2013 issue. All submissions may be sent to decadesreview@gmail.com. You can review the submission guidelines here.

 

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One of the best ways to find inspiration is by browsing the work of others. In photography this is especially true. Looking through photography blogs can offer a fresh perspective and give you a ton of new ideas to work with.

Get inspired with some of the best photography blogs on WordPress.

  • Trevor Saylor is a photographer from the Northern Midwest region. Most of his photography takes place around the US and it is evident that Trevor is passionate about capturing the beauty of life in his photographs. Although Trevor has an impressive stable of cameras, some of my favorite shots have been taken with his iPhone.  http://trevor365photo.wordpress.com/
  • How you view life, will shine through your photography in more ways than one. The woman behind the blog at PhotosbyShew clearly has a passion for life. Each of her photos is a spectacular display of the natural beauty found in everyday life. This zest and enthusiasm never fails to shine through her photography; my day is always brighter when I give this blog a visit. http://photosbyshew.wordpress.com/
  • Michael Lypinski photographs the world. His photography is real, candid and alive. Check out his breath-taking work here. http://blog.lypinski.com/
  • Debra Shepherd is a talented photographer in South Africa who photographs an eclectic mix of subjects. Her photography never fails to inspire and offers an up close and fascinating look from her unique view of the world. http://filmisawesomesauce.wordpress.com/
  • Eric Erlenbusch is fairly new to the world of photography and informs visitors in his bio that he’s still discovering his style. In my humble opinion, that’s a fact you would never be aware of once you’ve browsed his work. Eric photographs a lot of the fabulous landscape around his current residing place of Park City, Utah and has recently completed a 2 month road trip taking photographs along the west coast. This entire blog is a must see but if you don’t take the time to admire his Oregon photographs, you’re just missing out. http://ericephoto.wordpress.com/

-Paige Edenfield, Decades Review

Simply put, a poetry slam is the competitive art of performance poetry. Established as a means to heighten public interest in poetry readings, slam has evolved into an international art form emphasizing audience involvement and poetic excellence.

Slams attract audiences not only in urban centers like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, but also in areas as distant as Singapore or as remote as Fargo, North Dakota. They are held in bars, bookstores, coffeehouses, universities, street corners, and theaters.

If poetry is to become a part of the general reader’s life, it must do so in variety and abundance, on both the page and the stage and all the media in between.

Poetry slams are not for the faint of heart. If you go to a slam and stick around long enough, you’ll probably hear a poem you like. Or a poem you loath. Or a poem that changes your mind or your underwear. You decide. With that said, here is a powerful example of what you’re more than likely to find should you ever decide to attend a slam.

Neil Hilborn is a slam poet with OCD. His love poem “OCD” was recorded (by Button Poetry) at an event in Rustbelt earlier this year. Hillborn says the tics “are an intentional performance, but they are also my actual tics. Sometimes in performance they become real.” At the line “I leave the door unlocked,” brace yourselves, because your heart is going to drop through your stomach.

 

Paige Edenfield, Poetry Editor
Decades Review

Sometimes, after reading all those ‘literary’ magazines like the Kenyon Review and Tin House, you start to get sick of stories about real life.  I don’t want to read about little Timmy’s encounter with the divorce lawyer, you tell your spouse, I want to read about alien space pirates!   (Not surprising, she gives you a strange look.)

If you’ve been craving some science fiction, then search no further:  here is a compilation of the top five free sci-fi sites on the web.

5. Daily Science Fiction (www.dailysciencefiction.com)

 

With over two hundred free stories—all speculative, of course—this magazine is sure to have something that tickles your fancy.  If you become a dedicated reader, consider donating to their Kickstarter.  It ends in a couple days, and all the proceeds go towards paying writers!

4. Fiction Vortex (www.fictionvortex.com)

Despite launching only a few months ago, Fiction Vortex has taken off quite impressively.  All of their published stories are free, and many of them are plain genre-bridging awesomeness.  After you’ve read a couple stories, make sure to vote for your favorite in their monthly Reader’s Choice Awards.

3. Waylines (www.waylinesmagazine.com)

Although all the magazines on this list make great reads, this one also provides an excellent viewing experience.  You see, Waylines offers speculative fiction in the form of stories and short films.  I know you’re skeptical, but check out K-Michel Parandi’s “From the Future With Love.”   It’s a very cool film that creates a dystopian future with a corporate police force.

2. Flash Fiction Online (www.flashfictiononline.com)

Ignore the boring name.  This site is chock-full of fantastic stories that are the perfect size for that otherwise useless ten minute coffee break.  In fact, I’d rank this magazine higher if the editors didn’t also publish other genres (like fantasy and, god forbid, literary). But, considering that this is a science fiction list, I’m afraid I can’t do that.

1. Perihelion (www.perihelionsf.com)

An absolute treasure trove of all things futuristic, Perihelion offers its newest issues online for free viewing (print issues are also available for purchase).  This is hardcore sci-fi at its best: the submission guidelines states that “the science and/or technology must be integral to the story.”  Woo yeah—this is as good as it gets.  I recommend Tom Doyle’s short story, A.I. Oh!, which is one of the funniest pieces I’ve read in a long time.

If you haven’t noticed, we do like the occasional sci-fi piece here at Decades Review.  Feel free to submit one!

Connor Cook, Decades Review Prose Editor

©Decades Review

Got lit? Art? Decades Review wants to milk you for everything you’ve got! The editors are busy preparing the next issue of Decades Review due out in time for changing weather, yards full of crunchy leaves, family gatherings and the closing of the year.

We want you to show us something we’ve seen a million times, make it unrecognizable; hijack our attention. We feast on well-rounded characters, drink deeply from sensorial details and devour thought provoking photography and art. Thrill us with your linguistic gymnastics.

We believe in honoring work that speaks out, seeks answers and refuses to sit still for long. We strive to entertain, and mostly share voices as diverse as there are raindrops in a summer storm.

Submissions are accepted on a rolling basis, however, the deadline to appear in the October 2013 issue is September 15, 2013. Send us your best proof-read short stories, flash-fiction, poetry and artwork. We do not prefer a particular style, instead focusing on work in any style that demonstrates originality and attention to craft.

Please read the submission guidelines before sending submissions to Decades Review at: decadesreview@gmail.com

Compiled and Edited by Travis Kurowski Literary Non-Fiction, Trade Paperback Original ISBN 978-0-9840405-7-5 7 x 10 in. / 416 pages

Compiled and Edited by Travis Kurowski
Literary Non-Fiction, Trade Paperback Original
ISBN 978-0-9840405-7-5
7 x 10 in. / 416 pages

 Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine brings together a conversation that has lit a rhetorical fire under editors, writers and readers.

The book in its entirety is a sudden inspiration to the masses of young editors who want to start their own magazine, regardless of the obstacles they may have to overcome. Highlighting the importance of the reading masses, Kurowski reminds us that though readership may determine the life-span of a given magazine, it is the writers who ultimately control it. This is enough to fill any aspiring or veteran editor with hope.

Paper Dreams is a rich, collective history of an evolving medium featuring essays and interviews by and with literary icons (Pierre Bayle, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Monroe and Ezra Pound) and influential contemporaries (Frederick Barthelme, T.C. Boyle, Roxane Gay, Herbert Leibowitz, Rick Moody, Speer Morgan, Jay Neugeboren, Jim Shepard, Laura van den Berg, and dozens of others), all of which illustrates the significance of what has become a longstanding creative pillar and cultural linchpin of American society.

The literary magazine has endured a century of change but it has always endured. Paper Dreams is a comprehensive, must-have resource for everyone in the writing community-from publishers, editors and writers to educators, book stores and librarians, Paper Dreams is a living testament to the resilience of the literary magazine and the people who make them possible.

It’s The American Dream in a nutshell.

Beyond description of how important this piece of literary history truly is, every editor, writer and reader should have a copy for his/her own personal library and one to carry around for the day you come across a young, aspiring editor/writer on the brink of giving up on contributing to the resurrection of the literary magazine.

You can purchase your own copy of Paper Dreams here.

In our own attempts to keep the world of literary magazines alive, Decades Review accepts submissions on a rolling basis. Check out the guidelines for submitting to Decades Review, here.

 

-Paige Edenfield, Decades Review

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Photographers are invited to submit their work to Decades Review for a chance to have their artistic visions featured in the upcoming issue.

A great photograph tells a story. But it tells a slightly different story to every person who views it.

We ask that you submit a series or selection of your best work to appear within a collection of remarkable images and words. Subject matter is open but you may review the complete submission guidelines at: Decades Review.

Photographers whose work is selected will be featured both in the magazine and on this blog. Please submit all photography/artwork to: decadesreview@gmail.com

If you have any questions regarding submissions to the magazine, please email Josh Hess at: mr.joshhess@gmail.com

We look forward to viewing your work!