Inside IR: Meet Fiction Editor Joe Hiland

Clockwise from top left: Mark Twain, Ron Swanson, Sean Connery, Topper Hiland and Joe Hiland

It’s true, Fiction Editor Joe Hiland has discerning taste in literature, whisky, and canines, but he also has a soul. Despite his dry wit and carnivorous tendencies, Joe is a true Duke Silver: sensitive, compassionate, and as tender on the inside as a medium-rare steak. Read on to see for yourself.

JL: What is the last piece of writing that knocked the wind out of you?

JH: We usually think of writing knocking the wind out of us (or whatever image we want to use) when we read something for the first time, but it’s interesting when a familiar piece of writing knocks the wind out of you.  I recently had that experience with Bobbie Ann Mason’s story “Shiloh.”  I’ve read that story at least a dozen times, and I was rereading it the other day in preparation for a class I’m teaching.  I was taken aback by the precision of Mason’s language and the richness of even the simplest details in her story.  I’d forgotten the first line, and it caught me pleasantly off-guard during my reread:  “Leroy Moffitt’s wife, Norma Jean, is working on her pectorals.”   So much of what’s at stake in the story is encompassed in that simple opening line.

JL: What do you look for a good story to do?

Read more, after the jump!

Read more…

Notes Toward Apps To Reconnect Me (And/Or Other People) With (My) Childhood

Did you hear that the Paris Review now has its own iOS app? Here at the Indiana Review, we would also like to have our own iOS app, but, as winter approaches, we are still working on learning to make fire. Earlier this week, EIC Jen Luebbers got us really close to our goal of a warm workspace by leading group prayers to a horned god she learned about on Wikipedia and tearing up for kindling a set of felt-covered chapbooks her students had carefully bound last semester (poetry burns so well), but then a breeze came through the window and blew away the embers and now there is goat blood oxidizing across the walls of the office and nobody wants to clean it up. Recently I decided I don’t want to be an important literary figure anymore because I feel like continuing to do that “job” for the rest of my life will just involve me getting increasingly sadder and poorer and more self-involved until I die, so I’m auditioning new careers for myself now, and one thing I am maybe thinking about doing, especially in light of this new development from the Paris Review, is app designer, which seems like an important and potentially lucrative contemporary career and also still kind of “creative,” which is maybe important to my sense of self or what is left of it since my poetry collection “i noticed but it was too late and you were gone and i felt like i couldn’t do anything besides send an impotent text” was rejected by Muumuu House. Another thing I am considering being is a professional nostalgia facilitator, which is not actually a specific career yet but is only bound to become more and more important (and more importantly, lucrative) as Americans confronting the grim facts of contemporary reality retreat into nostalgia for their youth cultures (or earlier youth cultures) at younger and younger ages (I hear that Rookie is launching a new vertical for children who are preverbal but still can’t get over the fact that Freaks and Geeks was canceled after one season and Liz Phair did that album with the Matrix). Anyway, this week I “worked” on essaying both app design and nostalgia facilitation.

App that uses Google Maps API to require user, at a certain point in the middle of the afternoon, regardless of what “important” thing user is doing, to go outside for an hour. GPS functionality enables app to verify that user has gone outside; if user has not gone outside within five minutes of being asked or if user comes back inside more than five minutes before the hour time limit is up, app “takes away your toys” (randomly deletes entertainment apps from the user’s mobile device) and/or blocks access to user’s email and messaging apps (“time out” mode).

App for tablets that populates a high resolution three dimensional rendering of a beige shag carpet with a pile of Legos distributed through the weave of the carpet in randomly generated patterns of construction and deconstruction. User is not given functionality to build anything with the bricks because, given user’s age and general state of high anxiety and general state of low imagination, the pressure to build things with the digital bricks, so wonderful and infinite as a child, might seem frustrating or too much pressure or just pointless (designer does not want to inspire in user questions like “how can I monetize my lego creation?”). Instead of building, user, through multi-touch gestures and swipes, picks up the scattered bricks from the fake carpet and drags them into a large blue plastic receptacle for storage. User receives occasional achievement bonuses for particularly large drops. On having put away all the blocks, user is told by my mother’s voice, “Good job. Thanks!” and app is “put away” (locked by OS) until next day.

Read more…

Dating Around: On Simultaneous Submissions

In response to my last post on the advantages of submitting to literary contests, one reader asked:

Is sim-subbing to multiple contests a no-no?

The short answer:

No! (= Not a no-no = Sim-subbing a go-go)

Indiana Review‘s policy for simultaneous submissions, whether to be considered for a prize or regular publication, is:

We’ll take ’em.

IF, however, your piece is accepted by another journal or contest, we ask that you inform us immediately. We will shed a single tear, then send you our congratulations and remove your piece from consideration.

We publish only previously unpublished work, and we award prizes to previously un-awarded work.

Occasionally, our editors and readers fall in love with a poem or story or essay. We start imagining our future together, envisioning those words at home between the covers of the next Indiana Review. We propose publication—sure that this writer will say yes!–only to find out that the work has been promised to another.

As if the editors of literary journals don’t suffer enough.

Feel free to send out your work to multiple journals, but please tell us as soon as your work is accepted elsewhere. Quit playing games with our hearts. Tell us straight—we can take it.

What this means for simultaneously submitting to contests:

If you submit to and then withdraw from a contest after your work has been under consideration, Indiana Review cannot refund your reading fee.

If you break up with us, we can’t refund you for the cost of our first date.

Therefore, before you submit the same work to multiple contests, which usually involve reading fees, you must weigh your costs and benefits and decide for yourself if it’s worth it.

Take a look at my previous post discussing the advantages—and risks—of submitting to contests (and this smart post over at The Review Review), and consider submitting to Indiana Review‘s 2012 Fiction Prize, judged by Dana Johnson.

We understand you want to keep your options open. We don’t have to be exclusive from the start. If you give us a chance though, we promise we’ll treat you right.

An Interview With Dana Johnson

We’re just past the halfway point of our submissions period for Indiana Review’s 2012 Fiction Prize, which will be judged by Dana Johnson, author of Elsewhere, California and Break Any Woman Down.  If you’re unfamiliar with Dana’s work, you should put down that copy of IR (just for a little bit) and pick up one of her books.

Recently, I got the chance to ask Dana a few questions about the many ways stories can succeed and fail, and about the importance of literary journals like IR.  My favorite line from her responses:  “I don’t have the patience for stories that are clever but have no heart.”

I’m going to have that printed on my business cards.

Here’s the entire interview with Dana:

Read more…

Indiana Review’s Selection Process, Demystified

Over the past few weeks, Indiana Review’s genre editors have posted about what they look for in poems, stories, and essays in terms of craft. These posts have elicited several questions from readers about the nuts and bolts of selection process itself—that is, how, logistically, we go about deciding what to publish in Indiana Review. I hope to begin to address those questions in this post.

Being an editor is the best job in the world. There are few things more exhilarating to me than “discovering” an incredible piece in the slush pile, especially if it is the author’s first-ever publication. There is something really magical about finding that poem or story or essay, reading it over and over again, discussing it at length at a selection meeting, hoping it gets voted in, seeing it on its way through the long, long production process, and then finally getting to send the print journal out into the world.

Maybe this enchantment has something to do with the fact that here, at Indiana Review, our editors and readers are all aspiring and emerging writers, too. We are continually putting ourselves in the exact same situation as the writers who submit to Indiana Review (if you’re reading this post, I’m guessing you’re probably one of them). That is to say, most of us here on staff have been rejected time and time again, and we know how extraordinarily special (and rare!) it is if/ when one of our poems or stories is accepted for publication.

That said, the more I engage in dialogue with editors at other literary journals, the more I realize the selection process varies widely from publication to publication. It is my hope that this post will make what we do here at Indiana Review more transparent to our submitters, subscribers, and everyone and anyone who is interested in how we practice a democratic selection process.

What happens to my submission?

When a writer submits to Indiana Review, her submission is first read by the Editor, Associate Editor, or genre editor. And read again. And again. Yes, it’s true that the majority of pieces (probably around 98-99 percent of the submissions we receive) don’t make it past this point. If a paper submission is rejected, a rejection notice is put in the SASE and put in intern logout box.  Intern logs submission out of our database and mail the SASE. If an online submission is rejected, the editor selects the “reject” function in our online submission manager, and an electronic notification is sent to the submitter’s inbox.

But don’t get discouraged! There is also a potentially happy ending to this story.  When an editor finds a piece that she or he thinks might be a great fit for Indiana Review, the editor places it in “the box.” “The box” refers to the group of about twenty poems or 8-10 stories that will be discussed at the selection meeting any given week. In addition to the work that is culled from the slush pile, the genre editor might also include work from a writer that she or he has solicited.

Once the box of work to be discussed at that week’s selection meeting has “been set,” the work is made available for readers.

Read more after the jump!

Read more…