Archive for the ‘For fun’ Category

Writers With Literary Siblings

Keeping it in the family! Here’s a list of writers with siblings who also write.

A cozy house

The Brontë Sisters – The oldest and perhaps the most famous of literary siblings, The Brontë Sisters include Charlotte, Emily, and Anne who authored the titles Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, respectively. The sisters published and funded several volumes of poetry and wrote novels under male pseudonyms. Jane Eyre was an immediate success, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall also sold well, but Wuthering Heights didn’t see critical acclaim until later. The Brontë Sisters remain a favorite among critics and readers as a literary family with talent to boot.

Jacob and Wilhlem Grimm – We owe these literary siblings, better known as The Grimm Brothers, many thanks for their beloved Grimm’s Fairy Tales, published in 1812. The work was initially criticized as not being suitable for children, with classics such as “Snow White” and “Hansel and Gretel” changed so that the wicked mother became a wicked stepmother in later volumes. The stories have undergone many changes and iterations throughout the years, but remain stalwarts of children’s literature.

David and Amy Sedaris – This well-known and funny pair co-authored many plays under the name “The Talent Family.” Separately, these siblings are equally prolific. David Sedaris’s essay collections have sold millions of copies worldwide, and are known for featuring autobiographical material. David was a regular contributor to This American Life, where much of his early success can be attributed. Amy’s writing includes a monthly advice column in The Believer, co-authorship with Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello, and a guide to entertaining titled Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. The cover of her book, Simple Times: Crafts for Poor People! can be made into a hat.

Benjamin and Jen Percy – Jen Percy has won a number of awards for her writing, including first place in American Short Fiction’s Story Contest, a Pushcart Prize, and NEA fellowship. She is currently a Truman Capote Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and received an Iowa arts fellowship from the nonfiction writing program. She wrote the book Demon Camp, which was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. Ben Percy’s most recent novel The Dead Lands is a post-apocalyptic re-imagining of the Lewis and Clark journey. He is also the author of Red Moon, The Wilding, and the story collection Refresh, Refresh. His honors include an NEA fellowship, the Whiting Writers’ Award, two Pushcart Prizes, the Plimpton Prize, and inclusion in Best American Short Stories and Best American Comics. And there’s more.  We interviewed Ben Percy, here.

Karen and Kent Russell – Karen Russell’s story collections St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in The Lemon Grove and her novel Swamplandia saw much popular and critical success. She is the recipient of a MacArthur Genius Fellowship, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, was a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35, a New Yorker 20 under 40, and won the Young Lions Fiction Award. Her brother, Kent Russell, who is new to the literary scene, recently published a book of essays titled, I’m Am Sorry to Think I Have Raised A Timid Son. The collection debuted to excellent reviews: “A surprising, beautiful book, at once tough and tender, hilarious and dark, and above all, deeply original,” says NPR, and from Vanity Fair, “A ludicrously smart, tragicomic man-on-the-edge memoir in essays.” Quite a pair!

Lev and Austin Grossman – Lev Grossman is a familiar name around here. He judged the third volume of our anthology, which recently won an INDIEFAB silver medal for best short story collection and is available for purchase, here. Lev’s bestselling The Magician’s trilogy has been published in over twenty-five countries. Lev also wrote the novels Warp and Codex and is a book critic for Time Magazine. His twin brother, Austin Grossman, is a novelist and game designer. His books include Soon I Will Be Invincible, YOU, and Crooked, forthcoming in 2015. Soon I Will Be Invincible was nominated for the 2007 John Sargent Sr. First Novel Prize. His writing has also appeared in Granta, the Wall Street Journal, and the New York Times.

Did you know… Pauline Esther Friedman and Esther Pauline Friedman (also known as Dear Abby and Ann Landers) are famous identical twins and advice columnists. Both sisters are famous for the Dear Abby and Ask Ann Landers columns.

Which literary siblings do you know? Share with us in the comments!

Our Favorite Literary References in Cartoons

Summer is here, kids are home, and the cartoons are on. Don’t change the channel just yet. There’s something for everyone.

The Simpsons

Known for literary references, The Simpsons have so many in fact, it’s hard to pick just one. Here are a few of our favorites:

114057_franzen-chabonMichael Chabon: You can’t make this stuff up.
Jonathan Franzen: Maybe you can’t.
Michael Chabon: That’s it, Franzen! I think your nose needs some corrections!

113829_amytanLisa: Ms. Tan, I loved the Joy Luck Club. It really showed me how the mother-daughter bond can triumph over adversity.
Amy Tan: No, that’s not what I meant at all, you couldn’t have gotten it more wrong.
Lisa: But…
Amy Tan: Please, just sit down. I’m embarrassed for both of us.

gravitys rainbowLisa: “You’re reading Gravity’s Rainbow?”
Gymnast: “Re-reading it.”

philip rothNo description needed. (Note the Breadloaf pun.)

 Family Guy

tumblr_nabr2m5rUC1so87hoo1_500Chris: Mom! Dad! The T.V.’s broken.
Peter: Actually, Chris, I got rid of our television. This is our new bookshelf, and I think you’ll find it has more channels than any T.V. we ever owned.
Chris: I want to watch The Walking Dead!
Peter: Then I shall read to you from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Meg: I want to watch New Girl.
Peter: Perhaps you’d like to hear about Jane Eyre, who felt quite the new girl at Rochester’s Thornbury Hall.
Chris: How about Game of Thrones?
Peter: Instead I shall read to you from… Game of Thrones.

FamilyGuy-TrumanCapoteRobber: Give me all your money
Quagmire: Okay, okay
Robber: You have a white wallet?
Quagmire: Yeah, just like Truman Capote
Robber: Who’s Truman Capote?
Quagmire: What a surprise, the mugger’s never heard of Truman Capote… there’s a library card in there! Use it!

Looney Tunes

latest In the “Abominable Snowman” the snowman acts as a direct reference to Lenny in Of Mice and Men.

Hyde-and-HareIn “Hyde and Hare” Bugs lives through a retelling of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Deduce+you+say And don’t forget Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Watson.

If you’re looking for more ways in which cartoons utilize or reference literary fiction, check out this Buzzfeed list of 16 Fancy Literary Techniques Explained by Disney. Ahhh, summer.

Cover Art for Our Favorite Stories

Novels often get the makeover treatment. Publishers redesign covers for paperback releases, anniversary and special volumes, and to update outdated imagery. Artists also love the challenge, and commonly produce alternative cover art for their favorite books. But what of the short story? Those special gems we treasure so much? We decided to make cover art for some of our favorites, and have included a song we feel best suits the mood, tone, or subject of the story below. Enjoy!


“The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson debuted  in 1948 in The New Yorker and was an instant hit among readers. It received the largest number of letters to the magazine than any other story at the time and it’s easy to see why. Jackson went on to become an authoritative voice on the dark and sinister and has many bestsellers to her name. Read “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson here.

Accompanied song: “The Killing Type” by Amanda Palmer

ceiling“The Ceiling” by Kevin Brockmeier is on almost everyone’s favorite short stories list. It won the O. Henry Prize in 2002 for Best Short Story and is about an object that appears in the sky that grows ever closer. The townspeople call it “the ceiling” and you can read about it here.

Accompanied song: “The Wilhelm Scream” by James Scream

Unicorn peel off from silver paper background“Ponies” by Kij Johnson was published by Tor in 2010 and won the Nebula Award for Best Short Story that year. In “Ponies” Barbara is invited to a “cutting out” party for her talking unicorn. As you can probably guess, Barbara and her pony, Sunny, are in for more than they bargained for. You can read “Ponies” by Kij Johnson, here.

Accompanied song: “You Gotta Suffer A Lot to Be Happy” by Sunny & Share Love You

St Lucy's“St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised by Wolves” by Karen Russell was originally published in Granta and is the titular story for her first collection. In this piece, a group of girls who spent their childhood raised by wolves is sent away to live with nuns so they can transition into young women. Russell’s imaginative stories and beautiful writing have made her a favorite among short story readers. Read “St. Lucy’s Home For Girls Raised by Wolves” here.

Accompanied song: “Running With The Wolves” by AURORA

Kim Winternheimer

Infographic: An Emotional Guide to Your Submittable Status

With the announcement of our shortlist extension yesterday, we thought we’d put together a helpful infographic to show you that we totally get it. Waiting to hear back is the worst.

An Emotional Guide_Submittable copy

Porcupines and Pumpkins — A Happy Halloween Mashup

You can thank us later.


The best of the summer months has arrived and our brains are still full from all the glorious Short Story Month content we produced last month. In light of the truly great original fiction, interviews, and essays we published in May, we’re taking this first week in June to relax, recap, and enjoy the lighter side of life. Toward that aim, I give you:


Let the Puppets from Glove and Boots Fix Your Grammar

Can we please discuss the Kelsey Grammer photo on the wall in the background?! Ha.

Friday is For Fooling Around

Friday is for fooling around, so lets. Here are four smile-worthy (and lit-related) things to enjoy at the end of the week.

for friday(Sweatshirt can be found here. Socks, here.)

Bring on the weekend.

Track Your Submissions!

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Here’s a useful sheet for tracking submissions. A helpful column for when your story was born (submitted) and whether it lived or died (was accepted or rejected).

Live, dammit!

Access the pdf with more lines for living and dying, here: Submissions Sheet

Digital Collections – The Harry Ransom Center

Former US poet laureate Billy Collins has joined the ranks of such initialed luminaries as E.E. Cummings and T.S. Eliot with sale of his archives to the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. “The collections assembled [at the Ransom Center] document the work of some of our finest writers and artists and provide unprecedented access to the creative process while also helping us understand the historical moment out of which this work emerged.” In addition to recent additions such as Collins’, the humanity research library and museum’s holdings also include notebooks, personal effects, paper scraps, and more by Williams Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound, Anne Sexton, and Dylan Thomas.

Whether a writer or a reader, it is always interesting to check out the unedited, raw feed of literary genius, whether it is typewritten pages (here, a page from Don DeLillo’s first draft for Underworld) or the handwritten notes and doodles of authors such as David Foster Wallace, whose Pale King drafts have been digitized for endless scrutiny. (Notice how he takes the time to write out by hand the front matter legalese at the beginning of one of his drafts.) Peep a hand-written letter that Edgar Allan Poe sent to a man named George Bush or check out Blood Book, a creepy scrapbook of Freemason imagery and writings from Evelyn Waugh’s personal library. It looks, frankly, super metal. M_WAU_GAR_003v_582px (more…)

Friday is For Fooling Around: Cats in Bookshelves



tumblr_myqwovtk5y1rnovx3o1_500— Now go read, write, and enjoy your weekend world.


Feeling Rejected?

short-story copyThe old adage goes misery loves company, and you know, we don’t disagree. Sometimes it’s nice to know you aren’t alone in the rejection-sphere, and besides, looking into the value of your rejections can often improve the quality of your new work.

Enter, RejectionWiki. Hokey names aside, this web page has a hearty catalog of literary magazines and journals with copies of their rejection notices. Many of them are organized by tier so you can cross reference your rejection from say, PANK, and find out if you received the standard rejection or a higher tiered personalized response.

Lets take a look at