Category Archives: Literature

I’m writing literature

Grey Sparrow – “Packing the Wound”

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Hey Everybody, here is another story that I love.  This piece is titled “Packing the Wound,” and is about the trials and tribulations of post surgery home-care.  Frankly, it’s disgusting, and more than being about the horrible things that a human body does to a person, this is a story of the love it takes for someone to care for such a human body.  (Totally incidentally, and maybe I’m a fool to tell it here, but David Sedaris wrote a similar piece, “Old Faithful.”  I only discovered this after the fact, while reading When You Are Engulfed In Flames.)   Anyways, despite the wretchedness of the content, this was an emotional story for me, and I think that it’s found a great home in Grey Sparrow (a little publication that I’ve had my sights on for some time).

Please read this story, please share the link, it’s a pretty cool accomplishment for me and I hope that you enjoy it.

You can also buy the print version of this magazine – a decision I highly recommend making.  They cost about fifteen bucks after shipping and handling and you’ll be supporting an amazing publication.  Just contact the editors, and request the Summer 2012 issue.

Grey Sparrow offers a “National Treasure” series in the arts and features writing by a Pulitzer Prize writer for most issues and/or a national treasure from a country outside the United States. Emerging and established voices are welcome.  The journal is the recipient of the “Best New Journal” award in 2011 granted at the MLA Convention by the CELJ in Los Angeles.

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Townsend Walker, Associate Editor, is a writer living in San Francisco.  During a career in finance he published three books on foreign exchange, derivatives, and portfolio management.  His stories have been published in over fifty literary journals and included in six anthologies.  Two were nominated for the PEN/O. Henry Award.  Four stories were performed at the New Short Fiction Series in Hollywood.  His website is townsendwalker.com.
Diane Smith, BA, MSE, Principal Editor and Founder of Grey Sparrow Press, a 501[c]3 nonprofit corporation, was born in the United States. She retired from child welfare after twenty years of service and writes about the homeless, refugees, the poor, the diminishing middle class, healthcare; those who have little visibility or power in society.  She has garnered awards for her writing in Canada, England, and the United States.  She has not become a recognizable name in the literary world.

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Inwood Indiana – “Pyromaniacs, Bored and Young” (different story, same name)

I have another story out titled “Pyromaniacs, Bored and Young.”  In this lovely little tale, the protagonist and two of his friends use fire to burn stuff.  Like the other piece that was published under the same title, this is an early Ben Leib masterpiece.  I hope that you guys dig it.  Unfortunately, this piece was mistakenly published under my birth name, but if you order a copy and check out page 335 of Inwood Indiana’s Summer 2012 issue, Harvest Time, then you can find out who I really am.

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Inwood Indiana Press is the smallest press in the world. They are officially located at latitude 41.318 and longitude -86.203 but they don’t have an office so you can’t find them. Inwood is, by census data, “a populated place,” which makes it less than a town and more than an empty lot.

Strange things happen in Inwood Indiana. Things come up missing, people see things and the old lady on the corner seemed to have secrets. This publication is the place to tell your stories, or shroud them in prose. We are interested in all things unusual. We are especially interested in poems and stories set in small towns.

Note from the editor: My name is Glenn Lyvers and I am the editor of Poetry Quarterly magazine. Inwood Indiana is a private publication that I produce personally. There is no set schedule for publication, and submissions are always open.

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Picayune (and Retort Magazine) – “Pyromaniacs, Bored and Young”


“Pyromaniacs, Bored and Young” is a touching little tale about a group of teenagers who like to set things on fire.  As is the case with most of my work, it is culled from personal experience.  I really like this story, though it was one of the first shorts that I’d written – so it’s an early Ben Leib piece.  Also, if you grew up in Petaluma, this one might be particularly interesting. Picayune Magazine is a lovely little publication based at New Mexico Highlands University.  They produce a beautiful magazine over there, but unfortunately their limited operations budget ($500 per issue – I honestly don’t see how they keep it going, but bravo to them) precludes printing any extra issues.  They make a few for staff, one each for contributors, and that is it, making this one of the scarcest of Ben Leib publications.  That said, the issue in which the story appeared is unavailable. But, please read on, because there’s a little story to tell here…



When this piece was accepted at Picayune, I do what I always do – I withdrew the submission from the other publications concurrently considering the work.  One of those publications happened to be Retort Magazine.

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I did my best to withdraw the piece from Retort.  I searched their website, found four different email addresses to which I might address my withdrawal, and the Mailer Demon bounced all four emails back to me.  I didn’t know how to get in touch with their staff, and did not realize that they were in the process of revising their submissions procedures and reverting to an online submission manager. I gave up.  I figured, what are the chances?  What is the likelihood that this one publication will also accept the story?  It was a risk, because I’d promised Picayune that they would be the temporary rights holders, and the sole publishers.  But I just figured that, were Retort to contact me, I would be able to explain my situation and withdraw the submission at that time. Retort Magazine, which, despite all of this confusion, is actually a publication that I’m quite fond of, did accept my piece.  What they did not do was notify me that the piece had been accepted, nor did they notify me when when the story went live. That said, “Pyromaniacs” was available to read online for quite some time. Unfortunately, since release of that piece, Retort has become defunct – it’s a genuine loss, as the publication was airing work that I saw as truly daring and artistic (and not just my own).


Retort Magazine publishes both fiction and nonfiction.  Retort has published some of the world’s best known artists and writers, but is also a platform for new and emerging writers and artists.  They favor the cutting edge over the blunt of the handle, the avant-garde over backward walking, the delinquent imagination over the hammered economic mind.


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UPDATE:  Sadly Retort Magazine has closed down.  In the words of the magazine’s Editor, Brentley Frazer: 12.5 years. Enjoyed a huge readership in the 00′s. Broke some ground (and a bunch of rules). Had a good time mostly. Would have loved to grow it into something huge, like an alternative to the old school greats that have become a parody of their former glorious selves. Retort stayed truly independent, never even applied for a government grant. I refuse to read government endorsed literature or view government endorsed art. Rest assured, the only propaganda you were exposed to while reading Retort was my personal agenda to champion the creative spirit of my fellow humans. Have a nice life. best Brentley

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Perceptions – “Nineteenth and Valencia”

“Nineteenth and Valencia” is a rumination in a hip café about what an utter loser I’d become – which essentially means that it’s the story of at least one seventh of my adult life.  It takes place in the wake of graduate school, at a time when I’m really struggling not to be a pile of shit.  But seriously, it’s a really funny piece, I adore it, and you should read it.  More importantly, the magazine, “Perceptions,” is worthy of purchase regardless of my presence.  Not only is my story featured alongside the work of some genuinely talented authors and artists, the book itself is an art piece – hands down the most beautiful periodical that I’ve been printed in.  Issues are $15 a copy.  Checks can be written out to Perceptions, and sent to the following address:

Mt. Hood Community College

Humanities Division c\o Megan Jones

26000 SE Stark St, Gresham, OR 97080.

Ask for the 2011-2012 issue.

Perceptions: A Magazine of the Arts has appeared annually since 1969. The magazine is produced by students who register for WR247, The Literary Publication, a three term class.

In the fall, students solicit submissions from the campus community and the outside community. After submissions are received, students read and choose which works would best reflect their chosen vision of the magazine. Working with a student from the graphic design program and the printing technology program, the design, paper and over-all look of the magazine is decided. The students continue to work as a team for the next two terms. During the winter term students work with the printing technology class who take the graphic designer’s plans and implement them. The contributors are contacted and invited to read their works at a reception that the students plan for early spring term. Awards are given for the best poem, best prose and best artwork, and the students choose these award winning works.

Although the staff is small, Perceptions reaches other programs on campus, involving other students not inclined to literature and the arts, to be exposed and participate in literary publication. The graphic design student is given first hand experience in working as part of a team to produce a design for the magazine. Printing technology has always used Perceptions as a project as part of the second year of the program.

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Spilling Ink Review – “The Last Dignified Transaction”

“The Last Dignified Transaction” is about the rewards inherent in being a university teaching assistant, and then going on to work as a waiter… and then having to serve your former students.  As for dignity, well, I think I’ve got some left.  This publication originates in Glasgow, so hooray for me because I’m oversea (and by the way, I hell of want to visit Glasgow).

Spilling Ink Review is a  quarterly e-journal. They’re a troupe of professional writers and readers that shares a passion for the written word as well as compassion for new and established writers looking for an innovative platform. Their aim is to create an environment where the unexpected can thrive, where the serious and the humorous can sit comfortably side-by-side, and where we can celebrate both the process and the product of creative writing.

Update:  I regrettably must report that Spilling Ink Review is now defunct.  The magazine is permanently closed, and their website URL is available for purchase.

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Digital Americana – “The Best of the Terrible Lies”

You would have to spend some money to read this one, but it would cost you less than one dollar, which doesn’t seem too steep in today’s market. And the magazine looks amazing. “The Best of the Terrible Lies” is a story about a teenager who likes to tell lies. And he chooses to tell them in class. I’m proud to have it appear in the Spring/Summer 2012 issue of Digital Americana.

Digital Americana Magazine (DAM) is the world’s first literary & culture journal made for tablets. It’s ten parts literary and ten parts culture. If you like to read, why waste your money on other 99¢ magazines or apps when you could already be reading DAM? We love what we do and we hope that you do to.

The issue that my piece appears in is titled Arise.  It is the Spring/Summer issue of Digital and can be purchased in print.

Digital Americana’s website.

Digital Americana’s Blog.

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About Digital Americana:

Digital Americana crosses the literary arts with American culture and a state-of-the-art publishing mindset. Since 2010, it has functioned as an independent & interactive journal of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, art, & criticism. Digital Americana seeks to publish writers and artists that have showcased a unique American sensibility, experience, or theme in their work.

The first version of the Digital Americana Magazine (DAM 1.0) app was accepted into and released amongst the first-round of iPad App Store apps (available on launch-day of the first iPad 4/2010) — earning the distinction of being of the first magazines made for tablet devices, and the first literary magazine made explicitly for the iPad. In April 2011, we completely redesigned the app, adding new features such as in-app purchasing, and began to also offer issues in print (via MagCloud). In May 2012 we became part of Apple’s Newsstand store (DAM 2.0). In early October 2012 we introduced a new interactive “redact” function to our redesigned iPad app (DAM 3.0) with the release of our Fall—2012 Redact issue. With this “redact” toolset readers are able to create erasure poetry instantly from any page of any issue in the app. During this time we also relaunched the design & functionality of our iPhone magazine app, by creating a completely custom vertical layout that enhances the experience of reading an issue, which runs on a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Our Fall—2012 issue was the first issue to be formatted this way.

In all aspects of our mission: of the art, literary content, culture, design, and journalism featured within our pages—our hope for Digital Americana is that it will be seen as the sum of its parts—a uniquely modern and American experience.
Issues are currently released seasonally. Submission guidelines can be found here. Recent news & press can be found here.


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Black Market Review – “The Staging Ground”

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Hello friends.  I have some good news.  Another story has been published and is available to read for free online.  The story is titled “The Staging Ground” and is about bad neighbors and the problems that they cause me.  I mean, these neighbors were really assholes.  And the entire feud takes place in or around the laundry room.  I mean, seriously, fuck them.  Why wouldn’t they let me do my laundry in peace.  And I was an agoraphobic level shut in, so it was a match made in hell.  I really like this story and am proud to announce that The Black Market Review has picked it up.

The Black Market Review is edited exclusively by Creative Writing undergraduate and postgraduate students at Edge Hill University.  Thank you for the opportunity BMR.

Black Market Review operated out of Edge Hill University, but most recent visits to the site seem to indicate that the publication has become defunct. I am happy that “The Staging Ground” currently lives on the site’s archives and hope that it continues to do so indefinitely.  Edge Hill’s campus address is St Helen’s Rd, Ormskirk, Lancashire L39 4QP, United Kingdom.   Here’s to intercontinental publication credits.  Thank you, UK!

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Milk Sugar – “Vengeance is a Speechless Clown”

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The piece is titled “Vengeance is a Speechless Clown,” and the publication is Milk Sugar. “Vengeance Is a Speechless Clown” is an epic saga about revenge, artistry, and the things that drive us in life.  It’s also about a clown who is totally fucking pissed off.  Chasity Thomas and the lovely folks at Milk Sugar saw fit to include it in their February/ March issue alongside some truly talented authors.

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Update:  Unfortunately I must report that Milk Sugar, as a publication, is now defunct – a bit of news that saddens me, as I genuinely enjoyed what they were putting out into the world.  In the words of their editor, Chastity Thomas:

“Milk Sugar will officially end with Issue 22 in December. It has been a blast editing this journal and putting out into the world the work of some truly talented people. I’ve enjoyed everything I read, even the work that was a bit out there and those that were not chosen to appear. The journal started off shaky as I learned the process of rejecting people (which is really hard by the way), figuring out how to choose what works would best go together and simple stuff like how many writers to feature in each issue. I’m glad that people seemed to enjoy what were doing here. We even reached over 250 followers on Facebook, no small feat! These last two issues continue to showcase some great work. So please, buckle down and read an entry or two.

– Chasity Thomas, Editor in chief”

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About Milk Sugar:

Milk Sugar is a literary journal that was formed with the creative writer in mind. We want to provide a forum where writers feel free to express their creative ide in an environment that actually promotes creativity and not the status quo.  Milk Sugar is not meant to be your typical literary journal, hence the name. There are no delusions of grandeur here, just good, solid and creative writing. We want the erotic, the fantastical, the existential, the dirt the grime and most of all the ultimate beauty that is a well written piece. Allow us the privilege of finding out who you are through your work.

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Corner Club Press – “The Writing Group”

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The Corner Club Press has been kind enough to accept my story “The Writing Group.” It is to be found on page 93 of the January 2012 issue of their journal, which is, unfortunately, temporarily unavailable. This piece is unfairly subjective look at a fellow writer, but is more about the narrator’s inability to escape the monastic solitude of authorhood.  It is about a man whose personal struggles make him unsympathetic to a fellow sufferer. It’s curmudgeonly and mean and an editor once described it as frighteningly solipsistic, but it’s a great read. Each issue of the Corner Club Press is released as a free PDF download, and they’re awesome.

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About Corner Club Press:

The creation of The Corner Club Press is actually an impulsive endeavor of ours. Being an editor for The Oddville Press, it’s always been at the back of my mind to create my own magazine, but I never had a reason to start. For one thing, finding people on-line and then actually trusting them to get things done is a harrowing thought. For another thing, I had no idea how to go about doing it. Of course, having experience in the realm of two magazines has answered those questions for me, but even then I had nobody to start a magazine with. Then in my ENGL 2250 class, I met three other people who were interested in creative writing. The name “Corner Club” actually comes from Christopher Selmek, writer of Augusta’s local Verge. He coined the term because all four of us sat in the corner of our ENGL 2250 classroom, constantly exchanging humorous anecdotes over the days’ lessons. We quickly formed a friendship, then bonded one night during a study session.

But it was Daphne and I who bonded even faster because of our fervent love for the written word and Daphne’s own shared interest in being part of a magazine. As for Greg Tredore, he is someone we impulsively added because of his experience with a literary magazine and having an MFA in Creative Writing. We figured he’d be a great mentor to us, and thus far, he is.

Even though two members of the “Corner Club” are not as of yet active in the creation of this magazine, the name wouldn’t exist without their friendship. And that’s what Daphne and I want this magazine to be about: friendship. Not necessarily stories of friendship or anything of that sort, but we aim to provide a friendly, flexible magazine for writers to submit to. I consider myself more of a novelist, so the short stories I did write often had difficulties finding magazines because many magazines want shorter works and there are few magazines that accept longer works. We also didn’t want to limit our magazine to any particular theme or genre because we want as many submissions as possible. So submit away!

Amber Forbes, Founder

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Midwest Literary Magazine – “Eliza’s Body as Sacrament of the Grace I Sunk From”

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My story “Eliza’s Body as Sacrament of the Grace I Sunk From” originally appeared on page 61 of the September issue of Midwest Literary Magazine, which was titled “Broken Spades.”  This is a story that I love to this day, and that people really seemed to dig.  That might be at least in part due to the explicit and detailed pornography contained therein.  The story is a lamentation on a semi-functional relationship that didn’t ultimately pan out, but that coasted for a while on sex alone.  It’s also about a dumb kid who doesn’t have the slightest idea what he’s doing – either in bed, or in life.

There were some complications when publishing this story.  For example,the Midwest Literary Magazine did not read my cover letter closely, so my birth name was used rather than my pen name.  I attempted to inform the editor of this, and the mistake could have been amended before the release of the print journal, but I did not hear back from the staff.  They did not contact me when the story went live, nor when the print issue was released.  That was all right, because I really wanted this piece to see the light of day, and I highly doubt that any other publication would have taken a look at it.  So I remain grateful to Midwest Literary Magazine.  Nevertheless, it was due to business practices like this that the Midwest Literary Magazine began to receive some very bad press – mostly generated by justifiably disgruntled authors.  The magazine has since become defunct.  For quite a while after the closing of the publication, the story was still available to read or to purchase online, but alas, those links have inevitably closed as well.  Now if you attempt to visit the website, you will come across a garage door repair advertiblog.

Maybe the piece will one day be read again by human eyes.  Only time will tell.

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