Book Reviews

Little Bee

Little Bee by Chris Cleave is a haunting tale, based on a true story (with significant altered details), of astonishing courage, awareness, understanding, unforgiveness, and selflessness. The story unfolds gradually. The last section, with twists and reveals, is a page turner. Excerpt from the back of the book, “Author Q & A” section: “You mention that the book is, in some way, about ‘the horror of being alive in a world where atrocities happen.’ Are there particular human rights issues you’d like to call attention to? In the face of such monumental tragedy as is exposed in Little Bee, how can one person make a difference?” “. . . Evil is not going to be vanquished. Our job is to resist it, and to plant the seeds of further resistance so that goodness never entirely vanishes from the universe. There are degrees of resistance. It starts when you give a…

Places to submit

New Letters

New Letters magazine works to discover and publish the finest new writing, wherever it exists. That mission implies encouragement of writers just starting or those who deserve wider readership. By placing the emphasis on excellence, we best promote the cause of the literary arts and affirm their transforming qualities. Editorial decisions arise from three core questions: Is the writing intense; does it advance literary art; does it offer hope? New Letters’ Literary Awards for Writers, established in 1986, offers a total of $8,250 in prizes annually. The Awards program discovers and rewards new writers and encourages more established writers to try new genres or new work in competition. In recent years, New Letters has won a National Magazine Award, the magazine industry’s highest honor, received multiple Pushcart Prizes, often in a given year, and places selections often in The Best American Poetry, Essays, and other prize anthologies. “New Letters will continue to seek the best new…


Movie Magic . . . Prompt #474

~ “Men like my father cannot die. They are with me still, real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever.” How Green Was My Valley. Write about someone who lives on in you or someone you will never forget. ~ “We’ll always have Paris.” Casablanca. Write about something you will always have or something you no longer have and wish you still had it. ~ “I was to think of these days many times. Of Jem, and Dill . . . and Atticus. He would be in Jem’s room all night, and he would be there when Jem waked up in the morning, To Kill A Mockingbird. Write about someone who is always there for you. Or someone who needs you. ~ In Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, there’s a scene where Butch and Sundance run up a mountain to avoid the relentless posse, finding…

Guest Bloggers

Listen To Your Heart

Today’s guest blogger, Nancy Julien Kopp, has been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul books 22 times! Her story: A good many years ago, I submitted to a Chicken Soup for the Soul  book for the first time. The story was a simple one, a childhood memory, that I thought might work for the Fathers and Daughters book. Maybe. I hesitated to send it. Why? My pride told me it was impossible because rejection hurts a lot. Experience added that I hadn’t been writing very long, and the Chicken Soup editors received hundreds, maybe even a thousand or more, submissions for each book. My chances were pretty slim.  Reason stepped in and sneered at me as it said it was pointless to submit this story. What would it matter to the rest of the world? Then they laughed and I whimpered. All three had ganged up on me, and then a funny thing happened. My heart…


The Movies. . . Prompt #473

Today’s writing prompts are inspired from movies. ~ Thelma and Louise, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Little Miss Sunshine. Write about a road trip. ~ Dirty Dancing, Saturday Night Fever, Footloose. Write about how you learned to dance. ~ The Sting, two con men outcon a con. Write about a time you were tricked, or you tricked someone. ~Forrest Gump. Life is like a box of . . . [fill in the blank and continue writing].


What is memoir good for?

Writing is the way I try to make sense of my life, try to find meaning in accident, reasons why what happens happens. Sometimes just holding a pen in my hand and writing milk butter eggs sugar calms me. Truth is what I’m ultimately after—truth or clarity. Writing memoir is a way to figure out who you used to be and how you got to be who you are.  — Abigail Thomas, “Thinking about Memoir,” AARP magazine, July/August 2008

Book Reviews

All The Houses

All The Houses by Karen Olsson explores family relationships, Washington D.C., and the Iran-Contra Affair. Published in 2015, it’s especially timely in 2020, exploring the United States’ history with Iran.  Olsson expertly nudges the blurred lines between a father’s loyalty to the government and the conflicts within his family. She “writes about how Washington turns people into unnatural versions of themselves, how outside forces can warp family relationships, and how the familial nostalgia that sets in during early adulthood can prove counterproductive to actually becoming an adult.” Easy to read, entertaining, and informative.