Archive for the ‘anthology’ Category

Shortlist – The Masters Review Volume VII Judged by Rebecca Makkai

We are proud to announce the shortlist for our seventh printed anthology, judged this year by the illustrious Rebecca Makkai. These thirty stories and essays represent outstanding work by emerging writers. Makkai will select ten from this list to appear in the printed anthology. Stay tuned for the finalists announcement next month! Thank you to all of the wonderful writers who submitted to this years’ anthology. It was a pleasure to read your work.

The Masters Review Volume VII Shortlist

“Life-Giving Doubt” by Ian Belknap

“The Process” by Rebekah Bergman

“Signs of Damage” by Stacy Trautwein Burns

“Summers With Dedushka” by Philip Brunst

“Rogue Particles” by Laura Demers

“The Marchioness” by Corey Flintoff

“Ben Franklin” by Kelly Flowers

“These Are My People” by Steve Fox

“Residential Units” by Marcie Friedman

“Questions for Anesthesiologists” by Robert Glick

“Little Room” by Carrie Grinstead

“Pilgrimage” by Rebecca Gummere

“Ships Made of Stone” by Sarah Helen

“We the Mothers” by Kathleen Hansen

“Doctor, Doctor, Doctor” by Blair Lee

“The Mouse and the Elephant” by Nichole LeFebvre

“Waiting” by Donna Marsh

“Why Do Voles Fall in Love?” by Una McDonnell

“Cristeros” by Bonard Molina

“Shrove Tuesday” by Jeanne Panfely

“Humane Dispatch” by Matt Plass

“Ghost Print” by Anna Reeser

“Imperative” by Beth Richards

“The Sand Nests” by Emma Sloley

“It Goes Both Ways” by Kate Simonian

“The Words to Say It” by Rosanna Staffa

“The Dumpling Makers” by Kristina Ten

“Kamikaze Dressed in Light” by Sophia Terazawa

“The Collectors of Anguish” by Andrea Uptmor

“Closer Than They Appear” by Marylin Warner

The Masters Review Volume VII – Last Week To Submit!

This is the last week to submit to our seventh annual print anthology, judged this year by Rebecca Makkai. Each year, we publish a collection of the best emerging authors writing fiction and nonfiction today. The ten writers selected will earn a total of $5000, publication, and exposure to top editors and agents across the country. See our anthology page for all the details. Submit by March 31.

<<Submit Here>>

Submissions Are Open: The Masters Review Volume VII Judged by Rebecca Makkai

Every year The Masters Review produces a print anthology that showcases the best emerging writers in the fiction and nonfiction genres. Our goal is to provide a platform for the very best new talent, and to help promising writers on their path to literary success. Ten stories and essays will be selected for our anthology, which will be distributed to agents and editors across the country. Authors will also be awarded a total of $5000. This year, we are honored to be working with the marvelous Rebecca Makkai, who will select the ten anthology finalists from a shortlist of thirty. Read all about the anthology here, and submit by March 31!

Submission Guidelines:


REBECCA MAKKAI is the award-winning author of the novels The Hundred-Year House and The Borrower and the short story collection Music for Wartime. She has won a Chicago Writers Association Award, an NEA Fellowship, and a Pushcard Prize, among other honors. She lives in Chicago and has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, Tin House, and Northwestern Univeristy. She is currently part of the faculty for the MFA program at Sierra Nevada college. Her next novel, The Great Believers, is forthcoming in June.


<<Submit Here>>

The Masters Review Volume VI Is Here!

Happy December, everyone. We could not be more thrilled to have The Masters Review Volume VI with stories selected by Roxane Gay in hand this month. Physical copies have found their homes with readers, and there is nothing more rewarding than getting positive feedback on these ten stories by incredible emerging writers. If you’re interested in ordering a copy of your own, you can do so here. We are so excited that we wanted to share the collection’s first story, “A Man Stands Tall” by Gabriel Moseley, with you here.

Roxane Gay had this to say about Gabriel’s story: “And the audacity of the ending, the fierceness of it, made me put the stack of stories and essays down and just stare out the window at the clouds. A few minutes later I read the story again, and again and my goodness, my appreciation for the work only grew. If I could put into words how that story has made me feel since I first read it, that is what I would say every time I am asked what I am looking for.”

“A Man Stands Tall” by Gabriel Moseley



By the time the boy neared home, the sun was already sinking toward the snow-dusted ridge of the Bitterroot Mountains. He walked through the meadow slowly, cradling his right hand with his left. The cameraman, dressed all in black, followed the boy like a distant shadow—always present, but unobtrusive. The sound of wood chopping echoed through the valley. When he got closer to the log cabin, the boy paused. He rubbed away the last trace of tears from his eyes and slid his injured hand beneath his sleeve.

As the boy approached, Tom raised and swung his axe in one smooth motion, splitting the log below into two even chunks. The boy stood there, waiting, but Tom said nothing. He set another log on the chopping block, without looking at his son. He had already chopped more than enough wood for the day, but he wanted to teach his son a lesson.

“Sorry I’m late,” Ajay said.

“Sorry doesn’t chop wood.”

The cameraman circled around them with soft, measured steps, adjusting the angle of his shot. They did not pay attention to his movements. After three months of being on the show, of living under near constant observation, they had gotten better at pretending that the cameramen were no more remarkable than dirt.

“I’ll chop twice my share tomorrow,” Ajay said, keeping his arm behind him.

“Where were you?”

“Playing in the foothills. We lost track of time.”

“Don’t let it happen again,” Tom said. He lifted the axe over his shoulder, resting the wooden haft against his neck. “You understand me?”

Ajay nodded.

“Good. Go help your mother with dinner.”

As his son climbed up the steps to their log cabin, Tom’s expression softened. One of the main reasons he’d wanted to be on Homesteaders in the first place was to toughen up his son. The idea of the show was simple: three modern families uproot and live for six months like genuine Montana pioneers. No competition, no reality show scripted fakery, no one-on-one confessions to the cameras—just well-documented rustic living. And it was already doing his son good. Instead of staring at screens all day, his son, his chubby, fourteen-year-old, videogame-addicted son, was now exploring the wilderness, with real friends. The Duke boys were polite and they were athletes—they were not digital avatars. Not zeros and ones. Thanks to the show, Ajay’s face was already less soft, his arms less bat-winged, his skin a darker shade of pale.

Tom heaved the axe, pulling force from deep in his legs. He felt the intense yet simple pleasure of the thing as the log cracked apart and the bit of the blade sank deep into the chopping block. At a physical level, it was better than anything from his normal line of work, selling Audis. This was different—something he felt with his bones. With his newly calloused hands. He stared out at the horizon, at the humbling immensity of the distant mountains, and he listened. He listened to the steady hum of crickets, to the quiet rush of the stream cutting through the woods behind his cabin. He could already smell the rabbit stew being cooked inside. Rabbits he had trapped and skinned himself. Vegetables he had grown on his own land.

To continue reading “A Man Stands Tall” click here.

The Masters Review Volume VI – Introduction by Roxane Gay

Our sixth anthology of outstanding work by emerging writers, with stories selected by Roxane Gay, publishes in October and is available for pre-order. We are so excited, we couldn’t wait until next month to share Roxane Gay’s wonderful introduction to these ten awesome tales. We are so grateful to have worked with Roxane Gay on this volume, and we can’t wait to share it with you.

“And though I rarely am interested in stories about sad white people in sad marriages, there was one such story that absolutely made me forget I ever said I was not interested in such stories.”

When I am judging a literary contest, I am often asked what I am looking for in a good short story or essay. I offer up the kinds of work I am not really interested in reading—stories about college students, stories about writers, stories about sad white people in sad marriages, stories about addiction, stories about cancer. This probably seems overly prescriptive but when you read a certain kind of story too many times, you develop emotional callouses. The only thing that heals those emotional callouses is a great writing that offers up something refreshing and unexpected, whether it’s a writing style or a unique character or a rich sense of place or an unforgettable plot.

I am looking for writing that I will continue thinking about long after I have finished reading, for writing I want to read over and over again, for writing that will always stay with me. As I read the stories and essays for The Master’s Review Volume VI, I took my time. I read most of them while on book tour, on airplanes, and the stories I loved most were those that made me forget that I was in the middle of an exhausting tour on yet another terrible flight.

In “A Man Stands Tall,” I loved the premise, of a family doing one of those reality competitions where people pretend to live in a different time, without the comforts of modernity. The writing was crisp and precise and as the story proceeded, I kept wondering how it would all end, and then when I got to the end, I lost my breath, literally. I gasped, staring at the page, unsure of what I had just read and so I re-read it to see if I had misunderstood. I had not. And the audacity of the ending, the fierceness of it, made me put the stack of stories and essays down and just stare out the window at the clouds. A few minutes later I read the story again, and again and my goodness, my appreciation for the work only grew. If I could put into words how that story has made me feel since I first read it, that is what I would say every time I am asked what I am looking for.

The ten stories I selected for this anthology all moved me in that same way, where I either gasped or my heart pounded or my mind was simply blown by the story the writer had created. Take “Gormley,” for example. This is not the kind of story I am typically drawn to but the writing was delicate and careful and so perfectly matched to the setting. I was immersed in the world of the story and did not want to emerge from it. I felt the same way about “Confessions about a Lady in Waiting,” the title of which becomes doubly brilliant when you get to the end of the story. There was such an unexpected turn of events just past the middle of the story, and throughout, so much lush detail about the royal court, the king and queen, the women who served them in all ways.


Two Weeks Left! The Masters Review Anthology Judged by Roxane Gay – Closes March 31

There are only two short weeks left to submit to The Masters Review Volume VI, judged by the ever-wonderful Roxane Gay. Ten emerging fiction and nonfiction writers will be selected for our printed anthology, which will be nationally distributed and exposed to top agents, editors, and authors across the country. Authors will earn $5000 in prizes. So, go for it, and send us those stories and essays of 8000 words or less to us by midnight (PST) on March 31.Check out our submissions guidelines here. Of, if you’re ready, go ahead and submit.

| | | SUBMIT HERE | | |


Author Interview: “Cough” by Jonathan Durbin

Our fifth anthology published in October, and we are conducting a series of interviews with each of the ten authors whose stories it features. Today, it is our pleasure to share an interview with Jonathan Durbin, whose story “Cough” impressed us with its precision. Here, Durbin chats with us about his careful craftsmanship—this piece went through about fifteen drafts before he submitted it—and how fiction can be “a reflection on a particular emotional state.”

“I tend to know my titles before I start, which is another way of saying that I know what emotion I’m trying to distill.”

Your story, “Cough,” is set just after 9/11. The protagonist lives in downtown Manhattan, and the story itself takes place over the course of a weekend he spends at a love interest’s country house. Now, I know that you lived in New York during that time, as well, and I am curious about your writing process. How long after 2001 did you begin to write “Cough” and how did the distance from these events (or lack of it) affect the story?

I wrote “Cough” earlier this year, but I’d been thinking about the story for much longer. Lately I’ve been interested in using stories to evoke a kind of suspended time—trying to describe the unsettling, distended way moments pass following a tragedy. That’s what I was aiming for here. If I was going to address September 11, it felt important for me to discuss it in an oblique way, more as an element of context than the focal point of the narrative. Having some distance from that time, personally, was critical to the story’s angle of approach. September 11 is still so immediate, so present, I worried it would drown out the story’s possibilities, and I wanted to get at something quieter and more intimate. I wouldn’t have been able to write it had the real-life events been fresher in my mind. Some degree of separation was necessary, a quality I hope the story mirrors. I wanted “Cough” to be a reflection on a particular emotional state.

How many drafts did this story go through? Were there any huge changes from the first draft to the last?

When it came to the writing, I remember “Cough” being fairly straightforward—I didn’t struggle with keeping an even tone, the way I sometimes do—but I see now that it went through around fifteen drafts before I submitted it. There weren’t significant changes, but I did do a lot of work on a line-language level. For me, the challenge was to make the story’s affect flat, but not boring, which meant plenty of tweaking. In contrast, the story I’d been working on previous to “Cough” is absurdly overheated, told in excruciatingly long sentences, and uses plenty of figurative language. It’s terrible. I started “Cough” the night I finished the first draft of that other story, almost immediately afterward. Writing “Cough” was like having an allergic reaction.


Author Interview: “Alkali Lake” by Katie Young Foster

The fifth volume of our anthology, with stories selected by Amy Hempel, published on October 1, and is now available for purchase. To celebrate, we are running a series of interviews with each of the ten wonderful authors whose stories are featured in the collection. Today, we talk to Katie Young Foster, whose story “Alkali Lake” stunned us with its expertly crafted and carefully researched prose. In this tale, Eva is caught off guard when her two estranged granddaughters appear at her front door. It is impossible to track down their mother, and the rambunctious girls won’t tell Eva anything. Eva decides to take the girls ice fishing, a family tradition. Just in case (but mostly to help keep them in line) she ties each of them to a tree beside the lake, allowing enough slack for them to play on the ice.


“Eva tethered her granddaughters to two trees on the banks of Alkali Lake. She fastened the eleven-year-old to an ash tree, and the ten-year-old to an elem.”

We always like to ask our authors: what inspired the idea for “Alkali Lake” and how long did it take to develop? Did you outline first, do research, etc.?

At eighty-seven years old, my grandpa still drives the thirty miles to Merritt Dam in the Sandhills of Nebraska on mild winter days to go ice fishing. There is a spot on the lake the locals call “Hoffman Flats,” which was named after him. That’s where he drills his fishing holes. In the past, he’s tied a rope to his waist and looped it around a tree on shore in case he falls through the ice, because he doesn’t know how to swim. This particular anecdote, which came to me as a family aside, inspired the first line of “Alkali Lake.” The story came out of me very quickly, which is unusual, because often I sweat through each line. I’ve written about Eva, Lauren and Kathy before, so their personalities were very clear to me from the get-go. Once I started, the story took several months to develop, though I chiseled away on edits for over a year.

You grew up in Nebraska, where “Alkali Lake” is set. The story includes many very minute details, from the particulars of ice fishing to the specifics of the landscape. Did you do a lot of research for this story, or was much of it based on personal knowledge and experience?

Much of the story is based on my own knowledge of the Sandhills. I did, however, consult my dad on various fishing terminologies. We went back and forth on whether walleye or crawpee would be more abundant in an alkaline lake, and I ended up looking it up in this great old tome called The Nebraska Sand Hills: The Human Landscape by Charles Barron McIntosh. The region itself is very pristine and vibrant—hundreds of miles of grass-covered sand dunes, constant wind, the bones of dead animals, barbed wire fencing. The town I grew up in is two and a half hours from the nearest Walmart. Most people only experience the I-80 portion of Nebraska, which I hear is monotonous. I like to tell people to head north. We have rivers and hiking and solitude, and several great waterfalls. It’s the best place in our country to see stars because of the absence of light pollution. There’s a Star Party every August.


Author Interview – “The Pirates of Penance” by Eliza Robertson

Our fifth anthology drops in October. In anticipation, we are rolling out a series of interviews with each of the ten stellar emerging authors whose stories Amy Hempel selected for publication. First up: Eliza Robertson, whose story “The Pirates of Penance” is set in England, Poland, and Switzerland. It delves deep into the often-veiled nature of hostility in female relationships. The narrator, after a recent split with her husband, is invited home for Christmas by a female colleague whom she had, until then, politely despised.

author interview ER

“So while men compete in the open, in fun or with fists, women do so silently, our hostility spreading like green mold over shoes at the back of a closet.”

We always like to ask our authors: what inspired the idea for your story and how long did it take to develop? Did you outline first, go through many drafts, etc.?

I had been thinking a lot about female hostility: the general phenomenon of it, as well as how it’s manifested in my own life. So I pushed a scenario to the extreme, where the character recognizes the absurdity of her resentment and her feelings begin to turn in on themselves. I’m a fan of absurdity in stories for this reason. It pulls all the curtains down.

I’d say it took a few weeks for the idea to develop. The material facts of the story became clear after a visit to Poland in November. Then I started gathering details and writing them down. I didn’t outline though. I never outline! Sometimes to my detriment.

“The Pirates of Penance” is set all over Europe: London, England; Łódź, Poland; Interlaken, Switzerland. It displays an intimate knowledge of the geography and cultures of these three places (as shown through the eyes of our narrator, an American woman). I wondered: how did you do research for this story, or do some of these details come from your own travels?

This time, the cities did come from my own travels. They don’t always. I’ve been living in the UK for a few years, so London is pretty familiar. I visited my friend last summer in Switzerland. (She was there for work.) Last November, my boyfriend read at a poetry festival in Łódź, and I tagged along. Since coming here for grad school, I have been militantly seeing as much of Europe as possible.

What is your writing process like? (Do you write at a specific time of day / in a particular setting / on the computer or by hand, etc.)

I typically write in the morning, from home, on a laptop. If I know an important scene is coming, and I am not sure how to get it right, I draft on paper, then transcribe it to the document. Sometimes I light mood candles or incense.

What are some of your favorite stories?

“City of Boys” by Beth Nugent is one of my all-time supreme favorites. “Cocktail Party” in the same collection is also great.

Really anything by Lorrie Moore, but “People Like that are the Only People Here,” gets me every time. So does Amy Hempel’s “In the Cemetery where Al Jolson is Buried”—her wit and timing are superhuman. I read that she used to regularly watch stand-up.

Your debut collection Wallflowers came out about two years ago from Bloomsbury to wide acclaim! Is “The Pirates of Penance” part of another collection that is in the works? If so, how is it similar to (/different from) you first?

I’m working on a novel right now, so that will be next. But every now and then I’ve had some downtime between drafts, and I’ve been accumulating a few stories. I haven’t thought about how they might fit together yet, but I didn’t with Wallflowers either. Not at first. I do think with Wallflowers I was aggressively exploring language and form. Which isn’t to say I am not still exploring, but the experiments may be less obvious.

Are there any other fun facts you would like us to know about “The Pirates of Penance”?

Hmmmmmm. I can’t think of any facts about the story, but it may amuse you to know that on dining out in Łódź, after wine, with encouragement from Sophie Collins, a poet whose first collection is coming out with Penguin next year, I stole a water glass from a restaurant because I admired the look of it. It was designed to look like a crumpled cup. I’m not proud, but I left a big tip.

Interviewed by Sadye Teiser

eliza robertson photo smllEliza Robertson was born in Vancouver and grew up on Vancouver Island. She attended the creative writing programs at the University of Victoria and the University of East Anglia, where she received the 2011 Man Booker Scholarship. In 2013, she co-won the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. Her first collection, Wallflowers, was shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award, the Danuta Gleed Short Story Prize, the East Anglia Book Award, and selected as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. In 2015, she was named by Joseph Boyden as one of five emerging writers for the Writers’ Trust Five x Five program. She lives in England.

Thank You, Submitters!

Typewriter Thank You

Thank you to everyone who submitted to The Masters Review Volume V. We are blown away by the number of outstanding stories and essays we received, and we look forward to reviewing all of them. We will announce the shortlist of forty pieces, to be passed on to judge Amy Hempel, as soon as possible. Thank you again, submitters!

Less Than One Week Left to Submit! The Masters Review Anthology – $5000 Awarded

There is less than one week left to submit to The Masters Review Volume V, judged by Amy Hempel! Submissions are open to all writers of fiction and narrative nonfiction who have not yet published a novel-length work. $5000 awarded. Ten winners will be published nationally and become part of an exclusive mailing to editors, agents and publishers. So put the final polish on those stories and essays and send them our way! We can’t wait to read them.

judge banner announcement_Vol 5


The Masters Review Volume V Judge – Amy Hempel

We’re so pleased to introduce the judge for our fifth volume! Every year The Masters Review opens submissions to produce our anthology, a collection of ten stories written by today’s best emerging writers. Our aim is showcase ten authors who we believe will continue to produce great work. This year Amy Hempel will select the winners. This printed collection serves as a wonderful endorsement, allowing us to share new writers with a growing readership, which includes editors, agents, and established authors across the country.

AMY HEMPEL is the author of the story collections Reasons to Live, At the Gates of the Animal Kingdom, Tumble Home, and The Dog of the Marriage. The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel was one of The New York Times’ Ten Best Books of The Year. Amy Hempel received a Guggenheim Fellowship and an inaugural fellowship from the United States Artists Foundation. She won the Rea Award for the Short Story and received the PEN/Malamud Award for Short Fiction. In 2015, Hempel received the John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence. Her stories have appeared in Harper’s, GQ, Vanity Fair, among many others, and have been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Pushcart Prize, to name a few. She teaches for the MFA program through Bennington College.

$5000 awarded :: Submissions open January 15th.

Submission Guidelines:

Publication, national distribution, and exposure to over 50 editors and agents.


“I read your issues like clockwork! I’m a literary agent, and there’s such a great cast of emerging writers on this site that I’m always checking in to see if there’s anyone who might be looking for representation for longer form work.” –VICTORIA MARINI, GELFMAN SCHNEIDER / ICM PARTNERS

“If these are the voices we’ll be hearing from, American literature has an awful lot to look forward to.” –RAMONA AUSUBEL, author of No One is Here Except All of Us and A Guide to Being Born

“The future of literature.” –Reader’s Favorite

To learn more about the anthology, click here.