The Masters Review Blog

Apr 6

New Voices: “Genealogy” by Nancy London

Today, we are proud to share the honorable mention from our Fall Fiction Contest, Nancy London’s “Genealogy.” In this breathtaking reverie, the narrator reflects on her life and the lives of her ancestors: “There’s no way to write about my ancestors without beginning with my legs.” read on.

So. Trickle down economics. Youngest girl and youngest boy meet in the middle, the air hot, smelling of the tar slowly melting the pavement. Shy maybe. By that time my mother had already put in her two years as a secretary after college and was getting restless, needing something, someone, and maybe he would do. She said once about their sex that he could make any body anybody melt and I liked that because certainly by the time I was old enough to witness their dynamics, she was a block of ice dense as a glacier, no melting for that babe.

ONE

There’s no way to write about my ancestors without beginning with my legs. I wanted the kind that ended somewhere under my armpits, but when I look at my legs, in a mirror, in a bathing suit, I see my Russian grandmother, my great-grandmother, all the mothers before them; the long chain of women back to that first awakening in Africa. Stretch. Move. Plant wide feet on the hot earth. Set a course north into Egypt and across the Red Sea into Persia. Stop and build homes, eat the dates hanging from palms like elongated nipples, the offering of oneself to another. Make love and create a long line of women with legs like timber. Cross the Caucasus into Russia. Feel how wet and fertile it is. Make homes, make babies. Make time to build community, gather herbs, brew medicines. Barefoot, toes always dirty, legs so fucking sturdy they could lift a calf. And when the soldiers came, watching their village go up in flames, babies thrown from second story windows, their bodies like small birds shot from slings; sending their daughters away on trains and ships with food wrapped in paper, with names sewn into clothing, with no language to say my heart is breaking, carrying grief like a stone on their backs, bending them to the task at hand, surviving until the red hot violence returned all they had brought to bloom back to the earth as ash, in smoke and silence.

What does this have to do with me, I ask, these legs that have run behind me for generations calling, Wait, don’t forget us! You need us!

What for? I sneer, getting ready to curl my bangs before the high school prom. Fuck off. I’m washing my wide feet and squeezing them into five inch heels. You’ll be sorry, they echo down the long corridor of my dreams. No I won’t, I yell back over my shoulder. But I’ve got good manners, so I stop and say, Okay, you have five minutes. Spill. And they say, First darling, sit down and have something cool to drink. Flex your little toesies. Remember this little piggy went to market? I roll my eyes. Please, I say, why do you haunt me, follow me, bust my long-limbed fantasy with a Russian peasant Yiddish-speaking thick-legged ancestor I never knew? Because, shaina maidelah, who do you think gave you your strength? How did you learn to stand your ground and hit back when your mother may her soul rest in peace felt free and happy to whack you across the mouth? How did you stand steady and fight back? Think about it. And how if you don’t mind me asking did you walk out of the house and never look back? Certainly not on your hands, darling girl.

To continue reading “Geneaology” click here.

Apr 3

Craft Essay: “On the Value of Experiencing Research” by Sara Lynn Burnett

Thinking about writing a story that’s set in a place you’ve never been? Check out today’s new Craft Essay from Sara Lynn Burnett: “On the Value of Experiencing Research.” Once you’ve finished, plan your trip! (Once we’ve finished social distancing, of course.) Read on:

If your character needs to go to a post office, (a building I’m wagering many of us haven’t been into in a long time), go to one.

When first entering the Caribbean hospitality industry I was handed Herman Wouk’s Don’t Stop the Carnival by a hotelier. It was a reverent sort of hand-off. Everyone in the industry on the islands seems to have read it to the point where “Don’t stop the carnival” is a term used without explanation and in reference to the novel’s plot to describe a hospitality situation where everything that could go wrong has gone wrong.

Don’t Stop the Carnival was published in 1965. It’s dated. It has problems. Its attitudes toward women, Caribbean people, and the LGBTQIA+ communities are antiquated and offensive. If it was positioned as an anthropological work of the US Virgin Islands, the publishers and publicists were wrong in doing so. Tiphanie Yanique was quoted in an essay in the New Yorker stating that her novel, Land of Love and Drowning, was penned in part as an answer to Wouk’s inaccurate portrayal of Virgin Islanders. So what is it about such an outmoded book that makes it so widely read by hoteliers, even today? While Wouk didn’t get island life right in his novel, he got hotel life right. Don’t Stop the Carnival is a tragicomedy about the illusionary paradise of running a hotel in the Caribbean and it is based off of Herman Wouk’s personal experience—he managed the Royal Mail Inn on Hassel Island in Saint Thomas.

In my quest for more road maps on what to expect from the industry I came across another 1965 novel, Hotel, by British-born, Canadian-raised Arthur Hailey. Again, I was impressed by the accuracy of the hospitality world (and saddened at how little has changed in 55 years). Hailey describes in astounding detail and weaves into his narrative things that only people who have worked in hotels would know. How did he do it? It turns out that he did it the same way that Herman Wouk did. He lived it.

Both authors didn’t just read books about their chosen subjects as research, they went and experienced it for themselves and that authenticity with regards to the hospitality industry shows. Hotel is the story of an independent hotel in New Orleans, the St. Gregory, but it comes to life through the endless months Hailey spent during his research phase living in the Royal York in Toronto (now The Fairmont Royal York Hotel). The general manager agreed to give Hailey unprecedented access, so he moved into the hotel, interviewed and shadowed employees, read 27 books on hospitality while he was there, and conducted a thorough survey of every last detail throughout the entire thousand-plus room historic building. He did all of this before sitting down to write Hotel, which ended up being his first commercially successful novel.

The window into that world he provided, the accuracy of it, made him a bestseller, so he did it again with Airport and then Wheels. With Wheels he was welcomed behind the scenes at General Motors and Chrysler in order to research the automotive industry where those who observed him said that his interview speed was slow, just one or two people a day, which I like to think is because he was listening carefully, extracting information and details, following tangents that speak to the truth of the interviewee. And he did it all of it without a notebook. In a 1971 article by June Callwood Arthur Hailey says “I keep my hands in sight and empty. Nothing stops the flow of information faster than a notebook, particularly if the discussion is on some sensitive area.” Callwood continues her observation of his methodology: “Later that night, stretched out on his hotel bed, he uses a hand-held, battery-powered dictating machine to put down every detail he can remember—descriptions of the location, décor in the office or home, the noise level, everything.”

Arthur Hailey’s novels were so successful he ended up in a $4-million-dollar house in a Caribbean nation I once worked at a hotel in: The Bahamas. He had a powerboat named after his wife, Shelia, also an author and whose sole novel was titled I Married a Bestseller. Hotel spent 48 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List, Airport—65. Formulaic and mass market? Probably. Well researched? Absolutely.

In today’s connected world it’s all too easy to google whatever it is we want to know, and I for one am thankful for that. But if there’s a lesson that these two novels have taught me, as dated and out of touch as they are in so many ways, it’s the value of going the extra mile when researching and how that effort breathes authenticity into your writing. These two novels are 55 years old, but I’ve read and reread them both within the last two years because they spoke to the things I’m experiencing now while working in hotels. It’s the value of a primary source over a Wikipedia article. It’s the nuance.

If your character needs to go to a post office, (a building I’m wagering many of us haven’t been into in a long time), go to one. What does it smell like? What has been dropped on the floor? What stamps were issued during the month / year your scene takes place? Talk to the person behind the counter. Ask them about their job. Ask them about the people who come through those doors. I promise you’ll find more there in observation and conversation than you ever will online and it’s those details that brings stories to life.

by Sara Lynn Burnett

Apr 1

2020 Flash Fiction Contest Judged by Sherrie Flick Now Open!

Our annual Flash Fiction Contest is now open for submissions! We’re looking for your very best stories under 1,000 words—and the winner receives $3000! This year’s contest is judged by the spectacular Sherrie Flick, who will be selecting the finalists from a shortlist chosen by our editors. Full details below:

Submit Today!

submit

JUDGING

Sherrie Flick is the author of the novel Reconsidering Happiness and two short story collections, Whiskey, Etc. and Thank Your Lucky Stars. Her fiction has appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Flash Fiction Forward, New Sudden Fiction, and New Micro, as well as Ploughshares, New World Writing, and Wigleaf. Her awards include fellowships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. She served as series editor for The Best Small Fictions 2018 and is co-editor for Flash Fiction America, an anthology forthcoming from W.W. Norton. (Photo credit: Richard Kelly)

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

  • Winner receives $3000 and publication
  • Second and third place prizes are $300 and $200 respectively and publication
  • Stories under 1000 words
  • $20 entry fee allows up to two stories (each under 1000 words) – if submitting two stories, please put them both in a SINGLE document
  • Previously unpublished stories only
  • Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed
  • Emerging writers only (We are interested in offering a larger platform to new writers. Self-published writers and writers with story collections and novels with a small circulation are welcome to submit.)
  • International submissions allowed
  • Deadline: May 31st, 2020
  • Please no identifying information on your story
  • All stories are considered for publication
  • Dazzle us
  • To view a list of our most commonly asked questions regarding submitting to The Masters Review, please see our FAQ page


submit

Mar 30

Interview with the Winner: Becca Anderson

In early February, we published Becca Anderson’s prize-winning “Ghost Story,” selected by Tope Folarin as the winner of our Summer Short Story Award for New Writers. Today, we are excited to share with you her interview, in which we discuss her writing process and the inspiration for this powerful short story.

To start, congratulations! “Ghost Story” was selected by Tope Folarin as the grand prize winner for our 2019 Summer Short Story Award. It’s been published for almost two months, now. What was it like for you to win this award?

When I got the news, I had just boarded an extremely delayed flight. I only had enough time to reply to the email, text my parents, text a friend, and then I had to go into airplane mode. I think I spent the entire flight staring down at the e-mail telling me that I’d won. By the time I landed I’d convinced myself that some kind of mix-up had happened, and I would find an email correcting the mistake. Luckily, that wasn’t the case! The story has been up for nearly two months, now, and I’ve had some wonderful conversation with both people I know and strangers who have read it and liked it enough to reach out. It truly has been the biggest event in my writing career so far.

In Tope’s introduction to “Ghost Story”, he called it a “fantastic, moving story,” one that “calmly leads you along, and then you realize what’s happening, and it’s too late to protect yourself.” I think this is the perfect description for this piece, one that mirrors the narrator’s own experience in the story. What was it that first drew you to this narrative?

For the past six years or so, I have been trying to find my way into a story where Bigfoot plays a pivotal role. “Ghost Story” is the most recent—and definitely most successful—failure in that quest. The original idea took place about twenty years after the last time Riley and Mia saw one another. I made it maybe a page before I started thinking about what caused their parting. It went from third person to first before settling into second. I became extremely interested in the idea of a flash-forward operating in the place of a flashback. As I was writing, I started to think about the story working like an interrogation, one where Mia is both the questioner and the questioned. I often find myself caught in circular thinking patterns—what if I’d done this or said that or went here?—that ultimately change nothing. I think a lot of us do. We all make choices that, while seemingly small in the moment, change the trajectories of our lives. The tragedy comes when we go over the same things again and again, as if that can somehow set things right.

One thing we pride ourselves on is sharing the work of emerging writers, like yourself. Who are the emerging writers you’ve been following? Whose work should we all be paying attention to? Any great new stories you’ve read recently?

I’ve been reading a lot of novels lately and have let my short story reading slip! One of my favorites, though, is “Children of a Careless God” by Elizabeth Gonzalez James. It was published in the most recent issue of The Idaho Review. It’s about four cats living in an apartment after their owner suddenly dies, and it is absolutely beautiful. I believe she has a book coming out in the not-so-distant future as well! I’d also shout out Jacqui Reiko Teruya (most recently in Passages North and CRAFT) and Ariel Delgado Dixon (work featured in The Greensboro Review and Kenyon Review). They’ve both had work published here in The Masters Review as well.

I ask this in all my interviews, because I’m fascinated by all the weird habits we pick up along the way. What does your writing process look like? A student of mine recently told me when he writes, he’s always got his guitar in his lap, and he’ll strum chords whenever he’s stuck. Another said she composes out loud while walking around her apartment. So for you, what do you do while writing?

It’s funny. Two weeks ago, I would’ve told you that my writing process generally involves me, my laptop, and a coffeeshop, library, or café somewhere in town. I’ve traditionally had enormous trouble writing at home. There’s always something to be cleaned or tidied, laundry that needs doing, food that needs cooking…a million and a half little things that have absolutely nothing to do with getting words on a page. Right now, in this moment of social distancing and self-isolation, I’m having to learn new habits. Namely, staying at my desk and telling myself I can call my mother back later, just like I would if I had gone out somewhere. The main habit I have with writing, though, is to stagger it with reading. I think of it like stretching before a run. If your muscles aren’t warmed up, you’re not going to have a great time. I don’t necessarily read a lot—maybe ten or twenty pages from a novel or a single short story—but I find my own words come much easier after having read someone else’s.

As a writer from Wisconsin myself (UW-Madison alumnus, with a sister who graduated from UW-Eau Claire), I’m so interested in your novel-in-progress! Anything you can share with us on that front?

Oh, hey! It’s always fun to meet another Wisconsinite out in the wild! My young adult novel-in-progress is about Cal, a sixteen-year old, who comes to live with her estranged maternal grandmother in the far north of Wisconsin. She soon learns she’s descended from a long line of practicing witches. It’s still coming together, so I don’t want to go into too much detail! But, as anyone who has talked to me in-person for more than five minutes would tell you, I am more than happy to talk about the setting:

I’m someone who is very much in love with the Great Lakes and the states that surround them, specifically Michigan and Superior. The northern Midwest is, I think, a place largely ignored in pop culture. We’re often dismissed as Flyover States. However, I think it’s a region absolutely ripe for strangeness and story. When I think of the Midwest, I think of plains and cornfields that go out to the horizon, or forests that tangle for hundreds of miles, or lakes that reach up and swallow ocean-class ships whole. Lake Superior is littered with shipwrecks that are almost perfectly preserved due to the cold temperature of the water. It’s so frigid that not even bacteria can survive.

The Apostle Islands, the setting for my novel, are in Lake Superior just off Wisconsin’s northernmost shore. They’re formed of twenty-two forested shores, and only the largest of them, Madeline Island, maintains a permanent population. The rest are protected by the National Park. The islands are made of a brown-red sandstone and intricate sea-caves. In the summer, the area in inundated with campers and kayakers. But it’s in the winter when the islands really shine. The groundwater seeps out of the sandstone shores to form truly elaborate and breathtaking ice-caves. The lake freezes so thickly that the ferry to Madeline can’t break through, and a four-mile ice road marked by felled evergreens is built until the spring thaw sets in.

The real question is how could I not write about witches living there?

 

Mar 29

Last Day to Submit: The Masters Review Anthology IX Judged by Rick Bass Closes at Midnight!

Time is running out! Get those stories and essays polished and submitted by midnight PT for consideration in this year’s anthology! The ten winners each receive a $500 prize, in addition to a copy of the book their piece is published in. This year’s contest is judged by the one and only Rick Bass. Don’t miss out!

$5000 Awarded!

submit

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:
  • Previously unpublished works of fiction and narrative nonfiction only
  • Up to 7000 words
  • We accept simultaneous submissions as long as work is withdrawn if it is accepted elsewhere
  • Multiple submissions are allowed
  • International submissions allowed
  • Writers must not have published a novel-length work at the time of submission (authors of short story collections and self-published titles can submit as can authors with work with a low distribution, about 5000 copies)
  • Standard formatting please (double-spaced, 12 pt font, pages numbered)
  • $20 reading fee
  • Submissions are not limited to writers in the US. All English-language submissions are welcome
  • Writers who have earned an Anthology Prize before and whose work appears in our printed book cannot submit to this category but are welcome to send us work in other open categories.

RICK BASS is the author of over 30 books of fiction and nonfiction, and a winner of the 2016 Story Prize. He lives in Montana, where he is the founding board  member of the Yaak Valley Forest Council. His stories, articles and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Narrative, Men’s Journal, Esquire, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Harper’s, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Tin House, Zoetrope, Orion, and numerous other periodicals.

Mar 28

April Deadlines: 10 Contests and Prizes Available This Month

The slowly improving weather doesn’t quite matter when we’re still stuck inside, but what better way to alleviate your boredom than to enter these contests? Pour your passion and emotion (or even your irritation) into your writing, and never give up! The show will go on!

Nimrod Literary Awards

These awards, the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction and the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, are presented by Nimrod International Journal through the University of Tulsa. Contestants should enter 3-10 pages of poetry, or up to 7500 words of prose. The winner of each category will receive $2000, publication, and a trip to Tulsa for the Awards Ceremony and Writing Conference in October! Details here.

Entry Fee: $20 Deadline: April 1

The Orison Prizes in Poetry and Fiction

Every year Orison Books accepts submissions of full-length poetry and fiction manuscripts between December and April, and this year’s window is closing fast! Fiction entries may be novellas, novels, or collections of short stories and flash fiction, but they must be a minimum of 30,000 words. Poetry entries may be between 50 and 100 pages. Katie Ford is judging poetry, Samrat Upadhyay is judging fiction, and the winners of each genre receive $1500, publication, and a standard royalties contract. Check it out!

Entry Fee: $30 Deadline: April 1

Waterston Desert Writing Prize

Inspired by author and poet Ellen Waterston, this prize provides financial and other support to writers whose work reflects a connection to the desert. The Waterston Desert Prize recognizes one writer with $2500, a reading and reception, and a residency at Summer Lake, OR. Applicants need to provide a biographical statement, a proposal, and a writing sample. Submission guidelines here.

Entry Fee: FREE Deadline: April 1

Don and Gee Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting

If you think you have that movie magic, now’s your chance! This contest awards up to five $35,000 fellowships to amateur screenwriters, who are allowed to enter up to three original screenplays no longer than 160 pages. Fellowship winners are expected to complete at least one original feature film screenplay during the Fellowship year. Do it!

Entry Fee: $63 Deadline: April 9

Cowles Poetry Book Prize

In honor of Vern Cowles, a man who loved literature, Southeast Missouri State University Press offers this prize for an unpublished poetry manuscript. It is open to any living poet writing in English, age 18 or older, and the manuscript only needs to be 48-100 pages! First place receives $2000, publication and distribution, and receives 30 copies of their book. Get started!

Entry Fee: $25 Deadline: April 10

New Ohio Review Contest

All three of the New Ohio Review’s contests are ending this month, so enter now if you want to receive one of the three $1500 first-place prizes! Lauren Groff is judging the fiction section, Ada Limón is judging the poetry section, and Ira Sukrungruang is judging the nonfiction applicants. All of the winners and a selection of the runners up will be published! See more here.

Entry Fee: $22 Deadline: April 15

The 2020 Gulf Coast Prize

Here is an opportunity for all writers, as Gulf Coast’s contest rewards authors in nonfiction, fiction, and poetry! Emma Copley Eisenberg judges nonfiction, Daniel Peña judges fiction, and Kazim Ali judges poetry. The winner in each category receives $1500, and two honorable mentions in each category also receive $250. Make sure you submit to the correct category! Check it out here.

Entry Fee: $23 Deadline: April 16

Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

Named after the first director of the University of Pittsburgh Press, this prize is offered for a first full-length book of poems! The winner receives a $5000 cash award as well as publication under the Pitt Poetry Series. The winner will be announced in the fall, so get the process started now! Learn more here!

Entry Fee: $25 Deadline: April 30

CRAFT Short Fiction Prize

This journal wants your best fiction – stories that explore craft, stories that linger, and stories that feel fresh and new- and they’re willing to put their money where their mouth is! Judged by the wonderful Alexander Chee, the top three stories will be selected for publication in CRAFT, and they will receive $2000, $500, and $300 respectively. The absolute maximum length for these entries is 5000 words, but simultaneous submissions are allowed. Do it!

Entry Fee: $20 Deadline: April 30

Pro Forma Contest

Grist is looking for authors who make the most of structures in writing, creating an interesting opportunity to play with form and function! Submissions can be fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, or any other form of literary expression. Judged by Joy Priest, first-place wins $1200 and publication in the journal. Don’t miss it!

Entry Fee: $18 Deadline: April 30

by Kimberly Guerin

 

Mar 26

New Voices Revisited: “The Monsters” by Paul Crenshaw

In celebration of what would have been Opening Day for Major League Baseball (which I mentioned last year is my favorite day of the year), in today’s New Voices Revisited, we look back at Paul Crenshaw’s “The Monsters”, originally published on The Masters Review in April 2018. In “The Monsters” there is one very unusual team: vampires play the outfield; the pitcher is a werewolf; the catcher is a frankenstein; the shortstop is a satyr; and the coach is, of course, a minotaur. However, they are still, after all this, just kids.

The second and third basemen were both Bigfoots. The shortstop was a satyr. They whipped the ball around the infield so fast you couldn’t follow it, then, as if to remind us they were only children, the third baseman made a fart noise with his hand under his arm while the satyr splashed through a puddle behind the dugout.

“They’re monsters,” Miles told me, but I didn’t believe him because no one believes in monsters, even when they’ve seen them before.

We were getting ready for his first game. This was just after Miles’s father left. No note. Gave Miles his old baseball glove, but the webbing was torn out, which was Rick right down to the worn leather.

I’d heard of the Monsters already, but I thought they were just big kids. Last year, there’d been a pitcher for the Summerfield Rattlers who was already shaving. He looked to be seventeen, at least. Miles is twelve. You can’t put a seventeen year old pitching against sixth graders. They grow so fast those few years, and change so much. Their voices deepen. They start shaving. It’s a serious disadvantage.

But from what the other Little League mothers had told us, the opposing teams were already at a serious disadvantage. The Monsters had won their first four games by an average of fifty runs. None of the games went past the third inning before the umpire invoked the slaughter rule.

Of course we heard this from the other mothers, because most of the fathers didn’t make the practices. They’d be there for the games if they could, but never the practices. Rick used to come to T-ball games, and when he wasn’t depressed he would play catch with Miles in the back yard, but at practices it was mostly us mothers sitting in the hot sun fanning ourselves.

“There’s a team,” Judy McGruder said, when the last cool days of May hadn’t yet melted into July, “that is made up of monsters.”

“What do you mean monsters?” Sarah Smith-Canton said.

We had been talking about the men who’d left us and maybe she meant monsters in that way. Or she meant big kids, like how late in the year Charlotte and Raleigh-Durham pool all the best players for the Little League World Series.

“Monsters,” Judy McGruder said. “Vampires, werewolves, mummies. Picture Lon Chaney or Bela Lugosi.”

Lisa Larsen said monsters couldn’t be any worse than the men she dated, and we all laughed, then went back to watching the shadows of our boys stretch out, making them seem smaller than they were.

Miles heard about the Monsters from the other kids, who heard about them from the men who won’t even come to practice. He told me this sitting at the kitchen counter with a glass of milk and a PB and J. His glasses had fogged over after coming inside from the heat. His hands were so smooth it hurt me. The house was empty without his father there, and I wondered where Rick had gone, if he was trying out for some Single A team again, knowing he wouldn’t make it. Sometimes at night I listed the names of towns he might be in. I wondered when he might turn up again.

To read the rest of “The Monsters” click here.

Mar 25

Introducing our Flash Fiction Contest Judge: Sherrie Flick!

The 2020 Flash Fiction Contest opens next week, and The Masters Review is excited to share that this year’s guest judge is none other than Sherrie Flick! Sherrie will be selecting the three winning stories from a shortlist chosen by our editors. The grand-prize winning author receives $3000!

Submissions are open from April 1 – May 31!

The Flash Fiction Contest will run from April 1st to May 31st. The winning writer will be awarded $3000 and publication on The Masters Review. Second and third place will be awarded $300 and $200, respectively, as well as publication in The Masters Review. So here it is: a home for your very best small fiction.

Sherrie Flick is the author of the novel Reconsidering Happiness and two short story collections, Whiskey, Etc. and Thank Your Lucky Stars. Her fiction has appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Flash Fiction Forward, New Sudden Fiction, and New Micro, as well as Ploughshares, New World Writing, and Wigleaf. Her awards include fellowships from Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Atlantic Center for the Arts. She served as series editor for The Best Small Fictions 2018 and is co-editor for Flash Fiction America, an anthology forthcoming from W.W. Norton. (Photo credit: Richard Kelly)

Submissions open on Wednesday! Submit up to 1,000 words of your best flash fiction. Fifteen stories will be selected for the shortlist and Sherrie Flick will select the winners. See our Flash Fiction page for information on previous contests.


SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:

  • Winner receives $3000 and publication
  • Second and third place prizes are $300 and $200 respectively and publication
  • Stories under 1,000 words
  • $20 entry fee allows up to two stories – if submitting two stories, please put them both in a SINGLE document.
  • Previously unpublished stories only
  • Simultaneous and multiple submissions allowed
  • Emerging writers only (We are interested in offering a larger platform to new writers. Self-published writers and writers with story collections and novels with a small circulation are welcome to submit.)
  • International submissions allowed
  • Deadline: May 31st, 2020
  • Please no identifying information on your story
  • All stories are considered for publication
  • Dazzle us
  • To view a list of our most commonly asked questions regarding submitting to The Masters Review, please see our FAQ page.
Mar 22

One Week Left! The Deadline to Submit to The Masters Review IX is 3/29!

You heard right, folks! The deadline to submit to our ninth anthology is NEXT SUNDAY, March 29th, at Midnight! You’ve got 7 days to polish up those manuscripts and get your best 7,000 words to us for consideration for our annual print anthology. This year’s contest is judged by the excellent Rick Bass. The ten winners each receive a $500 prize, in addition to a copy of the book their piece is published in. Full details below!

$5000 Awarded!

submit

Add to Calendar

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES:
  • Previously unpublished works of fiction and narrative nonfiction only
  • Up to 7000 words
  • We accept simultaneous submissions as long as work is withdrawn if it is accepted elsewhere
  • Multiple submissions are allowed
  • International submissions allowed
  • Writers must not have published a novel-length work at the time of submission (authors of short story collections and self-published titles can submit as can authors with work with a low distribution, about 5000 copies)
  • Standard formatting please (double-spaced, 12 pt font, pages numbered)
  • $20 reading fee
  • Submissions are not limited to writers in the US. All English-language submissions are welcome
  • Writers who have earned an Anthology Prize before and whose work appears in our printed book cannot submit to this category but are welcome to send us work in other open categories.

RICK BASS is the author of over 30 books of fiction and nonfiction, and a winner of the 2016 Story Prize. He lives in Montana, where he is the founding board  member of the Yaak Valley Forest Council. His stories, articles and essays have appeared in The Paris Review, The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, Narrative, Men’s Journal, Esquire, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Harper’s, New York Times Sunday Magazine, Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine, Boston Globe, the Washington Post, Tin House, Zoetrope, Orion, and numerous other periodicals.

Mar 20

New Writing on the Net: March 2020

While we’re all in quarantine, why not a good reading list to tide us over for a little while? Here are a few of our favorite new stories and essays published around the net over the past month!

“Parisian Honeymoon” by Ross Feeler | Electric Literature, February 26

In a previous marriage, I’d been forced into couple’s counseling. The bonding strategies described had made no difference in that relationship, but, determined not to fail again, I had recently revisited some of my therapist’s advice. If you feel like you’re losing the battle, she said, take off your armor and hand your enemy a weapon. Vulnerability and openness solve more problems than emotional warfare ever can.

“Dead Rabbits” by Ryan Jones | Split Lip Magazine, March 20

Michael got in my car. His eyes were bloodshot and he had his hair straightened over his face like the kids that used to take those selfies on MySpace. I forgot how skinny he was, and that reminded me of the rumors. When I first met him, he’d been this chubby sixth-grader who drew cartoons of rabbits at recess.

“The Trouble With Talking” by Sherry Morris | Barren Magazine, March 18

Now she’s talking about the cosmetic surgery place. The free consultation included complimentary chai-lattes. Her favourite. A sign. Since losing all that weight from those diet pills she found online, her nipples reach her belly button. She offers to show me if I’m in any doubt. I shake my head.

‘I’m only twenty-five,’ she says. ‘I need to fix this. Before another husband.’

‘Another one?’ I say.

‘A better one,’ she says.

“God in the Bathroom” by Frances Salter| The Fiction Pool, March 13

I’m here because the Church of England is scaling up its crisis communications team following a six-month period of unprecedented scandals and cock-ups: God does Twitter now, but he badly needs a copywriter. This was the subsidised housing option. I’ve signed a years’ contract on both the job and the room. I think I’m the fulfilment of a diversity quota, for both.

“Mirror Girls” by Kira Bell | Southeast Review, March 3

Some weeks later, when it becomes clear that our respective shrinking and growing will not stop on its own, the doctor puts us on special diets. My sister eats to gain weight. Her list of recommended foods is full of protein shakes, bananas, cheeses, and breads. Snacks throughout the day.

Meanwhile, I am told to cut out fatty foods, bread, pasta, dairy. I swear off sugar. The doctors are very invested in my weight loss. They bring in nutritionists and do blood tests. They find us interesting insomuch as we are twins, but I am the one they mutter about, concerned, like my body is a problem to fix, a mystery to crack. I hold my protruding stomach in the waiting room and hope they solve it.

Curated by Cole Meyer

Mar 18

The Masters Review Volume VIII – Introduction by Kate Bernheimer + We’re on Amazon!

That’s right! You can now buy The Masters Review Volume VIII on Amazon! To celebrate, we’re sharing Kate Bernheimer’s wonderful introduction to our eighth volume with you all today. And be sure to get your submissions in to our ninth volume, which is only open for another twelve days!

Get your copy of The Masters Review Volume VIII from Amazon today! And don’t forgot to submit to our ninth volume, judged by Rick Bass: just under two weeks remain! Full details can be found here.

The Masters Review is a publication that relishes the fine art of writing in which we encounter form, technique, and story handled with dexterity, handled with grace. I appreciated all of the manuscripts sent to me for consideration by The Masters Review because I trust the editors to be very fine readers of craft. We know we are in the company of excellent readers when we pick up a copy of The Masters Review. Its editors and editorial staff work painstakingly to find beautifully and bravely written work whose authors respect the tradition and future of that mysterious technology still known to us as “writing.” So I knew I could read the wonderful packet of manuscripts sent to me to consider for this special volume not as a writer scrutinizing technique, but as I prefer to read stories: simply to read them.

I don’t drive like an engineer, eat cake like a baker, or go to the Egypt Room at the Met like a sarcographer.  And most of the time, I read like a reader. When I am on the city bus, in a hospital waiting room, or at a diner, I read. I pass the time in company with someone I never have met, who has considered questions and situations I like to consider or never have considered. I read to enter humanity’s big questions, to marvel at somebody else’s way of understanding the world, to feel less alone. Even (gasp!) to be entertained. Who was it who said there is no such thing as guilty pleasure reading, there is only reading? It may have been me who said this, in a class recently, but I’m uncertain of this! In any case, I agree.

Of course, as a practitioner of an art form—storytelling—I read widely and often. I appreciate well-timed paragraph breaks, parallel sentence structure, and surprising word choices. I adore how duration and interiority can operate so variously depending on who’s done the writing that’s printed in font inside of the book that I hold. But that’s not how I read when I read as a reader. I read to read. I read for inspiration as a reader most of all, not for inspiration as a writer. I am a reader first. I read out of curiosity about my fellow human, who has imagined a difficult or beautiful or beautifully difficult world. I read to know what is possible, impossible, true.

And so the ten stories in this volume have been selected for publication because I loved reading them. They kept me good company. I think you will love reading them too. These are stories about people engaged in struggles and triumphs that are in turn surprising and familiar, in turn sad and sweet, in turn funny and grave. A lot of emotions you have had or wondered about, you will find in these pages. I was really impressed by the whole packet of stories sent to me by The Master Review, and there wasn’t a story in the entire packet that I didn’t read and feel something about as I read. These are the stories that drew me most to re-read them, and this is why they appear in the book.

Because when you read, you begin at the title, I want to list in alphabetical order each title that caught my attention immediately, and made me want to read the story’s first sentence, and then the next, and the next, and the next . . . these are the words that began my journey as a reader through these stories. Relish this series: “American Crusader,” “An English Woman and an Arab Man Walk into a Bar,” “Chlorine,” “Electric Guests,” “Face to Face,” “Fear,” “June,” “Lida,” “Paper Boats,” “Quiet Guest.” These words, in the words of one of their authors, “release their heedless fragrance into the perilous air.” Perilous air! The air of a story, the air that we breathe.

Congratulations to the writers, and welcome, readers.

Kate Bernheimer

Guest Judge

 

 

Mar 16

New Voices: “And Then?” by Sara Brody

Introducing our newest edition to our New Voices catalog: “And Then?” by Sara Brody! The breathless, almost childlike voice of Brody’s narrator asks the reader, what does it take for us to admit to others what we don’t want to admit to ourselves? What are we willing to sacrifice for happiness?

Cutting my hair hadn’t worked at school, no one believed I was a boy, they already knew I was a girl, there was no escaping it, so they called me a dyke. And though I hadn’t heard it before, though certainly it was spoken with meanness, I had an immediate sense that it was true, I figured it meant I was a girl who wanted to do the things boys did, and I was glad to have a word for that, a word that captured me, I even liked it.

Because I cannot stand to hear about Paige’s problems, I tell her about Vesna Vulović, who fell 33,000 feet and survived. “Imagine!” I say. I feel a real swooping in my chest, but Paige doesn’t like the story, I can tell. What part is bad? Does the thought of all that tumbling through clouds give her nausea? Or maybe it’s the loneliness that makes her look so dreary, how Vesna was a sole survivor, wedged against the plane’s fuselage by a food cart while gravity tore everyone else into the sky. Paige! I want to say. Stop being an idiot, stop talking about your boyfriend, I know life’s hard and some women are luckier than others.

We come here sometimes, to this bar on Courtland Avenue, to be anonymous, because people know us at Jolene’s. We’re here now, drinking too much in the garden. Paige lights one of my cigarettes and says, “Shut up, don’t tell me this, I’m flying to Mexico in three days.”

“Well, sit in the back,” I say. “In a middle seat. It’s your best chance.”

“That sounds uncomfortable,” she says. “I’ll just die.”

She looks like she wants to die. I feel like dying, sort of. I think I should tell her a joke, try to make her smile, but maybe I’m not really interested in that, maybe it’s too late for that, maybe I’ve known her too long, over a year now, that’s way too long. So I just say, “Vesna didn’t remember falling. She woke up, days later, from a coma, an amnesiac, and the last thing she remembered was greeting passengers as they boarded the flight.”

“Can you please stop?” Paige says, and for the first time in a while, I look at her. Sometimes I forget to look at people when they talk, or at least I think so, because I don’t remember easily what anyone looks like. I don’t know how often Paige ever looks at me. Either we’re trading off, looking only when the other looks away, or else her eyes are always doing this, fixing on her drink, fixing on some point in the distance, never on my face. “I love to travel,” she says. “So I don’t want to hear about planes that get blown up.”

“Croatian nationalists. A briefcase bomb.” I take a slug of my vodka tonic, ice clinking against the glass. “Anyway, it’s fine,” I say. “We can talk about something else.”

But in truth, it’s not fine. In truth, I sometimes hate her. Last time she stayed over, she shook me awake late at night and said, “Lily, you’re talking in your sleep, you’re flopping around, you woke me up, who are you talking to, what are you dreaming about?” And at first my heart soared, she was asking about my dreams! I wondered if we were finally in love. I wondered if now she would leave Jonah, which is a stupid name for a boyfriend, a stupid name for a boy, whale food, runaway prophet, why did his parents name him after someone so unreliable, why did Paige give herself to someone like that? And as these thoughts flooded me, my hope drained, so I said, “Who do you think I’m talking to, dreaming about? Your boyfriend! He asked where you are, and I said, She’s at a sleepover with me, Lily, you know, her friend you haven’t met, we fucked half the night so she’s too tired to talk, but she’s doing great, don’t worry.”

To continue reading “And Then?” click here.