My personal literary journey

Dear readers and writers,

It’s been quite a while since my last post, but I am starting this blog back up again.  I wanted to explain why I started this blog in the first place and tell you my story of diving into the online literary world thus far.

I began this blog as a project for a seminar called Literary Life at UCLA, where I am currently finishing my senior year. Our professor, Mona Simpson, who is a well-known bestselling novelist, wanted to her students to engage in the literary world in some way, whether through attending readings, joining a  book club, or writing for a journal. She was concerned that many English majors study and read great authors during their time in college and then move on with their lives, letting go of their passions for literature and writing. Thus, she asked each of us to start a project that showed our commitment to a “literary life” that we could continue beyond the class and even beyond graduation. With graduation fast approaching, I’ve realized the importance of continuing to pursue my love for writing. One of the ways I will be doing so is by posting regularly to this website, to share with fellow readers and writers the neat literary journals I’ve found online.

I started this website because I wanted to be able to submit my own writing to the literary journals that I am reviewing, and also so that it could become a resource for other emerging writers who are interested in finding places to publish their work. I am excited to share with you that my plan has been a success: I will be published in one of the literary journals that I reviewed, The Blue Lake Review, this upcoming May!

Starting in November, I sent out three of my short stories to a total of six different journals. The majority of those I discovered from working on this blog.  I received a few rejections, which I expected. But one of them is what Julia Glassman would call an encouraging rejection, telling me that the editor liked part of my story, but that it wasn’t right for their journal at the time. And only a few days later, I heard back from the Blue Lake Review letting me know that my short story “U-Turns Are Not Permitted” had been accepted!

Before this my only creative writing publications have been in UCLA’s literary journal, Westwind. Of course, I was pleased to be published there, too, but I wanted to expand my publications beyond my school’s community, which I have now accomplished.

I’m not posting this story just to brag. Instead, I hope other emerging writers take inspiration from it. Doing research on the places where you submit beforehand and revising your story several times (in my case, I probably had written at least 4 or 5 drafts of it) can make all the difference. I hope that all of you not-yet-published writers continue to follow my blog to find journals where you can submit your work. Also, I hope that you keep on writing. In my opinion, as long as you write and you believe in yourself as a writer, that makes you one. But being published is also very satisfying and is a worthy goal to pursue. Happy writing, and please check back soon for more reviews, interviews, and writing advice!

-Molly Montgomery, LitBloom Founder and Author

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An Interview With Julia Glassman, Emerging Writer

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Julia Glassman is a writer and the official Writing Librarian at UCLA. She received a MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop and a Master’s in Library and Information Science from UCLA. Her first novel, Other Life Forms, was published by Dinah Press in 2012. Her work has appeared in various journals, including the Missouri Review and MonkeyBicycle.net.

Q: When did you start submitting to literary journals? How did you choose which ones?

JG: I started submitting the seriously my senior year of college. I used the CLMP Guide [Council of Literary Magazines and Presses]. I looked at the ratios of submissions to acceptances and applied to ones with the most acceptances, so my submissions were random and haphazard at first. I submitted to a sports magazine by accident and only found out when they sent me a rejection letter. Eventually, after months and months, I hit a bullseye when I had a flash fiction piece published in Monkey Bicycle.

Q: How many rejections did you get approximately versus acceptances? How did you deal with the rejection?

JG: I don’t know how many exactly because I throw away rejections. I think it’s a terrible idea to save them, and I would rather not think about them. If I had to guess, I would say I received around 100 rejections in the 2-3 years I submitted short stories. I do log them onto a spreadsheet so I don’t submit to the same place twice.

The one exception is when I get encouraging rejections- the complimentary ones I keep. Around one in ten rejections I get are encouraging. The best are requests for more writing.

Q: What was a publication that you were proud of during your early period of submissions?

JG: My first full-length piece that was published in the Missouri Review. Whenever I had doubts about a story, I would just throw it away, but with this story I pushed through and finished it. I was happy with it, and then it got published. So in the end it ended up being an omen for me, a success story that gave me the confidence I needed to keep going.

Q: Fast Forward to today. Where are you now in your writing career?

JG: I am simultaneously pushing for major publications and embracing self-publications. I’m getting ready to send off a YA novel to agents. But at the same time, I’ve really fallen in love with zines, so I’ve been writing zines and getting involved in zine culture. I’m trying to make it in the literary scene, but also I’m working in the home-grown literary world.

[For those of you who don’t know, zines are do-it-yourself, handmade publications that readers and writers circulate locally. They are similar to chapbooks or pamphlets. There are zines in all sorts of genres, including poetry, prose, or even gardening. For more information about zines in your area or online (E-zines), check out this website.]

Q: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers, especially ones entering the world of literary journals?

JG: Don’t tie up your identity in becoming a rich and famous writer. If you feel like you won’t arrive as a writer until you publish a bestseller, or if you hear others tell you this, don’t listen to them. You can be a writer without being a bestselling author. You can submit to journals and self-publish. Zines are a great way of getting your writing out there, and any sort of self-publication will remind you of why you love writing so much in the first place.

Q: What are your favorite journals (print and online) and zines?

JG: The print journal Unstuck; 5 chapters, which serializes short stories into five parts and publishes each part on a different day of the week; As for zines, most prose zines contain personal essays, and there are not a lot of fiction zines. But one good fiction zine is Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet.