Tag Archives: reviews

Open Call Closing Feb 29

Sunspot Literary Journal is dedicated to amplifying diverse multinational voices. We offer an Editor’s Prize of $50 for the annual edition. Artwork selected for a cover will be paid $20. Visit SunspotLit.com to download digital editions for free.

All types of prose from flash fiction and poetry to stories and essays, including scripts and screenplays, are welcome. We also accept long-form, novelette, and novella length works. Translations welcome, especially with access to the piece in the author’s original language.

One piece per prose submission, including poetry; two works of visual art per submission.

Use the General form for prose from 501 to 3,500 words. Flash fiction and works longer than 3,500 words must be submitted through one of the other forms. If they are submitted through the General form, they will be declined unread.

Using the Fast Flux (two-week turnaround or less)? Select the correct fee option to avoid delays.

All submissions must be unpublished (except on a personal blog). Simultaneous submissions welcome. Submit as many times as you like.

Closes February 29, 2020 at midnight.

Book Review: Fever Dream / Take Heart by Valyntina Grenier

I first had the pleasure of encountering Valyntina Grenier’s work through Sunspot Literary Journal’s Single Word contest. Since then, this talented artist was picked up by Cathexis North West Press.

Fever Dream / Take Heart is a doubled poetry book. Two chapbooks have been produced in a flip-book format. Bound in the  tête-bêche style, Fever Dream and Take Heart provide two forays through this poet’s feverishly delicious style.

Lifting off from nature, Grenier leaps intuitively between images that comment on humanity’s impact on the climate, corrosive politics, and all that is ferociously feminine. 

Leap anywhere into these works and emerge with your senses swollen and your will to enact change fortified with iron.

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Valyntina Grenier is a poet and visual artist living in Tucson, Arizona. She was born in Lancaster, California, and educated at The University of California, Berkeley, and St. Mary’s College, Moraga. Graduating with an MFA in poetry, she is self-taught as a painter, installation and Neon artist. In both language and visual art, she pushes the boundaries of representation and abstraction to create a vantage from which to view violence and prejudice. An LGBTQIA artist and activist, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Lana Turner, High Shelf Press, JuxtaProse, Sunspot Lit, Bat City Review and The Impossible Beast: Poems of Queer Eroticism. Find her at valyntinagrenier.com or Insta @valyntinagrenier.

Soulful Book Offering Gifts from the Ocean

Sweet LifeI’ve been following the journey of a particular book called The Sweet Life from creation through to its final version. The book, which offers up gifts that originate deep within the ocean, is fascinating.

It started years ago when a group of women were called to travel to various places around the world. They set up sacred stone circles in many places, and the sites can be visited by readers who want to experience the journey themselves.

The book is now available on Amazon for those who want to hear from the very special beings who protect our planet and all humans on it. Guaranteed to be a deeply moving read, and perfect for book clubs.

Tin House to Close; Sunspot to Open

books-2158737_1920June of 2019 will see the last Tin House literary magazine roll off the presses. After twenty years publishing original fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, Tin House is saying goodbye.

The move was done in the face of mounting costs associated with print publishing. Rob Spillman, the co-founder and editor, is moving on to other areas. The closing brings an end to a very long stretch of quality contributions to the literary arena.

While some new works will still be published on Tin House’s website, the loss of yet another print publication is difficult for writers. Much of the industry still gives more weight to credits in print publications, so the loss of even one magazine can be bad news.

There is a bright spot, however. Sunspot Literary Magazine is launching in January of 2019. For the first year, one print edition will be published. The magazine hopes to add additional print editions in subsequent years.

Meanwhile, digital editions are scheduled for every quarter. The founder is also considering adding frequent special editions that focus on a single author or a single category.

The magazine’s mission is to “change the world through words,” and is open to new and established authors and artists. Submissions of short stories, flash fiction, poetry, essays, art, interviews, and reviews of books, movies and galleries are being accepted through Sunspot’s Submittable portal.

This is an excellent opportunity to be heard and to enact the change you want to see.

Wind, Waves, and Wonder: Where Dolphins Walk

Where dolphins walk_CoverToday is the first day you can buy Where Dolphins Walk. This memoir from a commercial airline pilot who has traveled the world brings a level of thoughtfulness and meaning to how we move through the world…not only while traveling, but in our daily lives.

With profound consideration and lively stops in a number of the world’s most beautiful countries, Douglas Andrew Keehn gives readers a global cultural tour. The weight of his experiences happen in South America, where he eventually lived for a time before returning to the US.

Throughout his journeys and the book, Keehn returns time and again to the message conveyed by the subtitle: A Memoir of Bridging National Lifestyles, Positive Change, and the Powers of Silence. 

Destined to become the modern-day A Year in Provence for South America’s many jewels, Where Dolphins Walk connects readers with the global harmony that Keehn so clearly feels is not only possible, but is present for everyone who wishes to engage respectfully with other cultures.

Read this over the holidays, and you’ll know exactly where you want to go for your vacations…and possibly for the rest of your life.

Keen CockpitDouglas Andrew Keehn was an avid saltwater angler and deckhand as a teenager. Born in NYC, he was raised in the Chelsea section of Manhattan. He began flying at age seventeen, and has been a flight officer for a major commercial airline for thirty-three years.

After crossing numerous U.S., Canadian, and Mexican cities, his travels shifted south to Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, Peru, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. He resided in Florianopolis, SC, Brazil for more than six years.

Author Interview: Mark Noce

Mark NoceLast week, I posted a book review for the second title in a historical series by Mark Noce. The first two titles are Between Two Fires and Dark Winds Rising. Both feature Queen Branwen of Wales, an original empowered woman!

Today the author has been kind enough to answer a few questions. So, here we go!

MC: Hi Laine, and thanks so much for having me here!

How would your advice for new writers differ from advice you would offer writers who have been in the game for a while?

Hmm. My advice would be…don’t take too much advice. I’m not saying that there isn’t a lot of good advice out there, but it’s crucial for each author to find what works for them, and what doesn’t. Experiment, trying things, learn the hard way. It’s what I do. Try writer’s conferences, creative writing groups, online forums, and see what speaks to you.

As for the writing itself, I adhere to Ray Bradbury’s advice to write a lot and often, otherwise, “if you only write a few things, you’re doomed.”

When you take a break from writing, is it a full and total break or is your mind constantly parsing the world for fodder? What does that parsing look like? How does it make you feel as an artist? As a human being?

I dream about writing (seriously I do), so I’m not sure that I ever really do take a break. Writers are readers, so if you feel you need a break, make sure to plug your time with as much reading as you can. It’s grist for the mill, and there’s so much good stuff out there to enjoy. Writing’s work, but it’s fun too. So long as you keep it fun, you won’t want a break from it.

From your perspective as an author, what do you feel is the biggest challenge to the publishing industry today? Is there a way to solve that challenge?

There are plenty of challenges, but it wouldn’t be worthwhile if it was easy either. One of the big challenges is simply getting your message heard through all the white noise that fills everyone’s everyday lives. When you promote a book or even get your novel into someone’s hands you probably still don’t have their full attention, i.e. the TV is on, they’re multitasking at work, their kids are interrupting them, etc. All you can really do is try to connect with them right from the get go with those first few lines so that they make the conscious choice to dive into your story. It’s part skill, part luck, part faith.

What books are you currently reading?

Everything! There’s nothing I won’t read. I try to read about 3-4 books a week (and during the summer I try to reread some of my favorites). I’ve been diving into history books lately, fiction and nonfiction. Stuff by James Jones, George Orwell, and even Katharine Hepburn (yes, you read that last part right).

Which authors do you think are underappreciated in the current market, and why? (The authors do not have to be living.)

It’s difficult to say, as you never know what books are being loved in people’s homes across the world, but aren’t bestsellers. I’m a big Lawrence Durrell fan, so if you haven’t read Justine or any of the Alexandrian quartet, you’re in for a treat.

Which new writers do you find most interesting, and why?

One book that really blew me away this year was Cherie Reich’s stories entitled People of Foxwick. If you enjoy fantasy, check it out. When I read it, I was shocked that a major press hadn’t picked it up yet, it’s that good.

Finding the discipline to keep writing can be tough. Which “get writing” techniques are most effective for you?

Everyone is different. If you do something 60 days in a row though, it typically becomes a habit. Then you simply do it without thinking. Also, it’s key to develop your own regimen. For me, I write on weekdays, but give myself weekends off to read and absorb life. By Monday I’m always chomping at the bit to get writing again.

Dark Winds RisingCan you give us a sneak peek into your current project?

Sure, I’ve got lots. The sequel in my Queen Branwen series, Dark Winds Rising, came out this month, but I’ve got two manuscripts for two different series already with my agent. One is set during the Viking age and another in WWII London. They both feature female protagonists, and I’m really excited to get these out there with publishers.

Do feel free to tell me anything else you think people should know about you, the book, the writing lifestyle, or your process.

I love writing, especially historical fiction. I work by day as a tech writer in Silicon Valley, and when I’m not writing, I’m with my wife raising my kids. My little redheads are great, but looking after them makes writing and the corporate world look easy by comparison. 😉

I hope you enjoy Dark Winds Rising, and I look forward to connecting with all of you. Please feel free to drop me a line at marknoce.com any time. Thanks!

Book Review: Dark Winds Rising by Mark Noce

Dark Winds Rising by Mark Noce. St. Martin’s Press, December 2017.

DarkWindRising_FBCover_onsaleFinally, finally, the wait is over! You can–if you haven’t already–get a copy of Dark Winds Rising, the second in the epic historical series about a Welsh queen who stepped into her power in order to help her people.

The first book in the series is Between Two Fires. That work shows Queen Branwen’s strength of intellect and the strength of her heart as she accepts that the man she married is not her true love.

Now, in Dark Winds Rising, she must face the Queen of the Picts when raiders land on the shores of Wales. A mysterious assassin intent on killing her young son haunts her trail as she moves between different areas. The leaders of various areas would rather maintain their petty feuds with each other than join forces against the enemy, so the queen has her hands full.

Oh, and by the way, she’s pregnant. Provides a whole new angle on that modern mom thing, right? Even though sometimes young kids make it feel like Pictish raiders are marauding through your home!

Well, Queen Branwen never shirks her duty to her people or her country. Although taking her son with her on the road exposes them both to additional dangers, the assassin leaves her no choice.

The scenes in camp between her and her husband, Artagan, are some of the best in this book. They show the real dynamics between men and women during the medieval times while providing Branwen with enough room to move in her own direction.Dark Winds Rising

 

Plus, the touching moments with the family are heightened outside stone walls. Readers participate in very warm and moving interactions between parents and children. And yet the tension never gives way, which of course gives those intimate scenes all the more impact.

This second title in the series is pitch perfect from front to back. You won’t a single place where you lose interest or where you feel lost. You will be thoroughly immersed in Branwen’s world, her time, and the rugged beauty of Wales.