Editors' Blog

Winter Reflections

November 30, 2023

This autumn was a struggle for us in many ways.

We had to deal with the Amazon Pirates who tried to hijack our new magazine, Rushing Thru the Dark (see below). In the end, the magazine's price was corrected by Amazon, but not until we issued a "cease and desist" order to the pirates. Does this price gouging demonstrate a larger economic bias in the unfettered capitalism that seems to be trying to seize America?

Then James tried to somersault down a hill backwards in late October. He was alone, taking photographs in one of our local parks, paying more attention to what was in his camera lens than he was to where he put his feet. The first thing he checked when he landed was his camera. Then he noticed he was bleeding, so he got himself up and back to his vehicle, where he used his water bottle to wash the blood off to assess the damage. Without even contacting me about the problem first, he headed straight to the ER, where he was stitched up. Later, though, after he experienced fever and chills and his cheek swole like a chipmunk's, he went to the dentist only to discover that he had fractured a molar so badly in the fall that it had to be pulled.

James counts himself lucky that the fall did not have worse results, and he has fully recovered from the fall, thank goodness, but his little adventure set us back about two weeks in putting together our winter magazine, The Best of Choeofpleirn Press.

Perhaps it was because he was feeling a little more vulnerable himself, but James had a difficult time narrowing down the MANY poems selected by our dedicated readers and a few select contributors, which, unfortunately, also included many poems whose creators had NOT paid the Derick Burleson Poetry Contest fee, so he had to decide whether or not to include those who had not paid* among the ones we would publish in BoCP. I had to insist he narrow the field down to the usual 20 poems, but he could not do so, which is why we also had semi-finalist poems in this issue. 

To avoid this problem in the future, we will send out a survey to every contributor beginning in late 2024 in order to provide a list ONLY of those who have paid the required contest fees (or whose fees were waived by us).

Additionally, there are so many things we have to do to remain eligible for grants, even though we have yet to received ANY grant funds for the press in the two years we have been actively applying. So I dutifully updated our SAM.gov information in order to retain our Unique Entity ID required by many granters, but I forgot to put the initials "LLC" after the name of our company in the forms, so they rejected the renewed application, so, once everything for BoCP is finally finished, I have to retackle that whole confusing web of webpage forms again.

Lastly, we have asked Poets & Writers magazine to put our magazines on their literary magazine database, but they are balking at adding Rushing Thru the Dark, which focuses on drama, claiming that playwrights and screenwriters have their own professional organizations to support them, so that they see no need to support drama as a literary form. While it is true that New York City (P&W's national office location) has strong professional dramatic groups, and that Los Angeles has some strong screeenwriting guilds (who won their strike just this autumn), we have no such organizations in the state of Kansas nor, indeed, in most of the noncoastal states. Not that I want to sound like a country hick (I was raised on a farm in the Middle of Nowhere Kansas, though), it angers me that these "coastal elitists" (as my relatives like to call them) refuse to see that, just because their playwrights and screenwriters have access to professional organizations to produce their works, does not mean everyone does. In fact, Kansas can count many of its most creative people among the many who have created a "brain drain" here because they have left for either coast to ply their chosen careers. Our goal for Rushing Thru the Dark has been to help writers who might never have their works accepted for production on the coasts find other, smaller, more local groups to produce their works for them, which is why we donate two free copies per contributor of RTD to such groups. We are merely one conduit in that effort. Having gotten ridiculous feedback on my own screenplays from critics on the coasts who know nothing but stereotypes about Kansas, I believe RTD is a necessary venue that honors drama as the Mother of All Genres.

Other than all of those things, James continues to teach, so that we actually have SOME income, while I work on the press full-time. 

We know we are nothing without our outstanding contributors, even the ones who decide not to pay the contest fees. We understand the desire to be published, and we continue to publish only the best of the works we receive for each magazine.

To all creators everywhere, keep creating! The world needs your perspective, your creations.


*We invite many creators we meet on social media to submit work to us, promising to waive the contest fee if they do; we also waive the fees of contributors who do other things for us, like write reviews on LibraryThing or GoodReads, so I am not referring to those folks here.

UPDATE on Amazon Price Gouging

We're sorry to report that, even though we were promised by an Amazon customer service representative on Thursday, October 12th, that the price gouging would be removed and the correct price instituted by Saturday, no such change has occurred.

This morning, we spent three hours trying to chat with and then trying to talk to a slew of Amazon customer service reps without success.

Please help us get them to change the predatory price gouging for Rushing Thru the Dark, Autumn 2023, by clicking on the link shown in the photo above. You can get to the Amazon webpage through this link: https://www.amazon.com/Rushing-Thru-Dark-Autumn-2023/dp/B0CKTW24SX/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Rushing+Thru+the+Dark%2C+Autumn+2023&link_code=qs&qid=1697484188&sourceid=Mozilla-search&sr=8-1 

Please tell Amazon that the two predatory booksellers have jacked the price to 3.8X what it should be ($38.99), so that they need to fix the price and activate the Look Inside feature. 

We appreciate your assistance. Please urge your friends and family members to also file a complaint, so that, maybe, we can get the attention of a human being to fix the problem.


Experiment RTD Success!

To date, we have published our annual magazines through Amazon's KDP programming. However, that choice has come at a cost, since no local bookstores will carry books published solely on Amazon, so the only bookstores or gift shops we have been able to convince to sell our magazines have all required we purchase the magazines first, which we then ship to them. The outcome of such transactions is more expense for us.

Therefore, we decided this summer, after visiting with stores in Emporia, Kansas, to begin publishing our magazines through the same printer we use for our books, IngramSpark, despite the fact that Ingram is 10X harder to use than Amazon's KDP programming. We, nevertheless, want our contributors to reach world-wide audiences AND be able to buy the magazines their works are published in from their local bookstores.

This issue of Rushing Thru the Dark, Autumn 2023, then, was uploaded to IngramSpark on September 29th, finally approved for printing on October 9th, and is now available on a few online bookstores, like Barnes & Noble. However, shifty characters who pretend to "buy" books and resell them on Amazon have glommed onto RTD 2023, are are selling it for an astronomical price. Even though Amazon should have Ingram's full information about the book and have it offered, by now, for sale at its $38.99 price, with the ability to Look Inside the magazine activated, there is as of today, October 12th, no sign that Amazon is using Ingram's information or pricing. 

We have to wonder why. We have contacted Amazon's customer service, and they promise to rectify the situation within 48 hours.

Fingers crossed.

Autumn Calls

August 14, 2023

While James returns to campus today to begin, once again, earning money to keep the press afloat, our lights on, and food on the table, I decided to take some time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished thus far this year.

So far, we have published Coneflower Café, Spring 2023, and Glacial Hills Review, Summer 2023, and are beginning the processes of publishing Rushing Thru the Dark, Autumn 2023. We appreciate everyone who sends us manuscripts to consider publishing, since we would not have so much to choose from if we did not receive so many quality submissions.

We have also been busy publishing books.

Our first Kenneth Johnston Nonfiction Book Award went to Jacquelyn Shah’s Limited Engagement: A Way of Living. In her memoir, Shah recounts the significant events that led her to realize she could not count on anyone but herself in order for her to achieve the goals she desires, all of which also led her to oppose violence in any form. Shah’s daughter, Zarina, created the artwork for the cover of the book, which features a fairy, something Shah has long associated with her own grandmother, another strong woman.

Publishing Shah’s book, however, came with a steep learning curve for us, thus took us longer to get into print than previous books. Since we prefer to use IngramSpark’s publishing platform for our books in order to ensure that our books are available wherever readers buy books, we have to work with their automated systems more often than we do with real people. Since so many small bookstores despise Amazon because of the damage the marketing giant has done to so many small bookstores, we have to use Ingram, so that our writers can order books for readings and book signings from their local bookstores. Unfortunately, Ingram’s programming does not tolerate unembedded fonts, and the only way we could overcome this issue was to also subscribe to Adobe Pro, which costs us $17 a month to use.

We are in the process of creating a hardback copy of Limited Engagement through Ingram, but their communication with publishers is weak, at best, so what would take only a few days with Amazon’s KDP takes weeks, even months, with Ingram. Yet we persist because we want our writers to be able to purchase their books locally, not just online.

Easier to publish, but also not without their challenges, were the winner and finalist for the Jonathan Holden Poetry Chapbook Award for 2023. Vivienne Shalom’s The Truth Is, the winner chosen by judge Anita Skeen, uses a photo taken of her family at Coney Island on the cover. The poem, “Coney Island Photograph,” describes her family’s visit to this famous funland with a cousin visiting from the old country.

Because we started the tradition in 2022, we also published the finalist’s book, Consider the Gravity, by Linda Enders. Linda’s husband, Bernd, painted the image of a rose shedding a petal on a table just for the cover of this book. The painting is based on the title poem “Consider the Gravity,” where a couple sheds their clothes as easily as a rose drops its petal, creating “turbulence in the atmosphere/[and] a twinkle in the eye that,/…/became you and I.”

My personal favorite of Enders’ poems, though, is “The Soul Again,” where the poet compares the human soul to the human body with “the body fortif[ying] itself to avoid the final call,” but the soul, more playful with the energy of a child confined in school, “listens for the bell to ring.”

Early August found us on the road, visiting groups of writers and artists in Emporia, Kansas, and two stores that carry our books and magazines. We greatly enjoyed meeting up with our loyal photography contributor Karen Colstrom and her husband, Scott, for lunch in Emporia, since she was the one who introduced us to the store managers who are selling our publications.

We realized after that visit that we need to expand our reach considerably, so we have brainstormed economic ways of doing so, including considering creating a quarterly newsletter.

Feel free to contact us a choeofpleirnpress@gmail.com to tell us what kinds of information you would like to hear in such a newsletter. 

If your local bookstore does not carry our books, let us know that, too, so we can contact them to let them know about the wonderful books and magazines we publish.

As always, we greatly appreciate all of our readers and contributors’ support.

Cheers, Ruth


Word Is Spreading

June 2023 was a particularly busy month for us. We not only had to attend two major family functions, which seems to be a lot as we readjust to life post-COVID, but also were inundated with submissions--a good thing if you publish literary magazines, but a time consuming process for those of us who insist on remaining hands-on instead of relying on programming like Submittable to do that work for us.

We want our contributors' experiences to be positive ones because they are trusting us with their precious creations, and, as writers and photographers ourselves, we understand how important those creations are to the people who have conceived, shaped, and brought them to fruition.

However, we also find our press is rejected, time and time again, for grants. We thought getting our own creations rejected by other editors was disheartening enough, but being rejected outright for every grant we have applied for over the last two years--even by those granting agencies that often reduce the amounts they give just to be able to give to more nonprofits--is almost crushing. 

We continually hope creators will be generous enough to enter our creative contests, which helps us pay monetary prizes to the winners, but too many creators in America are as cash-strapped as we are, so we understand those who do not pay those modest fees.

Few people realize how much publishing costs these days, most assuming that an $18.99 price at Amazon means we get all that money for our magazines or books, but that is simply not the case. We price our books and magazines so that we only receive $1 from each one sold--every other bit of cost goes to the middle guys and the printers. As a nonprofit company, we feel we should not be in the business just to make money.

We are here to bring human beings together, to show how cooperation and understanding can enhance all our lives. We strive to bring more beauty into the world, not draw blood for the sake of profits. 

If you find value in that effort and can afford to do so, please seriously consider donating to Choeofpleirn Press. See our Donate webpage for how to do just that.

A Quick Guide to Formatting Manuscripts for Choeofpleirn Press

May 10, 2023

  

We know it can be annoying when literary magazines have unique manuscript requirements. We get it. So please realize that what follows helps us if and when we choose to publish your manuscripts. Time saved for us means we have more time to read more manuscripts.

 

1.       Double-spacing is unnecessary. While it is traditional to double-space manuscripts for submission, such a convention was only necessary when editors wanted to handwrite comments between lines, so the tradition is no longer important or necessary. For us, it just becomes another thing about your manuscript we have to change.

2.      Use only embeddable fonts. Embedding fonts is vital for publication programming, otherwise fonts change and print can actually warp and move differently across a page as it migrates from computer to computer—even if those computers are using the exact same word processing programming. Since the Almighty Windows does not allow all fonts to embed in Word, which is the programming we use to format our magazines and books, we ask that you avoid using old fonts like Times New Roman and Arial. We prefer easy to read serif fonts like Georgia or Garamond, both of which embed nicely. Realize that, if you create unique poetry using word shapes, you must embed your fonts to ensure that the design you create translates to other computers. Here’s how: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/benefits-of-embedding-custom-fonts-cb3982aa-ea76-4323-b008-86670f222dbc.

3.      Separate poems and chapters with page breaks. Do not use page breaks in the middle of long poems or the latter half of the poem might not get published.

4.      Be conscious of line lengths in poetry. Every magazine and book has to have a mirror margin with a gutter—meaning that the part of the book bound together to forma spine has to be accounted for, which means most manuscripts get shoved to one side by about half an inch. If your longest line of a poem stretches all the way across the page, that will either mean we will have to put part of the line below or shrink the whole poem to fit it on the page, especially if you are trying to create a specific pattern in the poem.

5.      Use Increase Indent on short poems. Realize that short lines shoved to the left look sparse and often uninviting, so don’t be afraid to use the Increase Indent tool in Paragraphing to move the whole poem over an inch or so.

6.      Inspect your document. Unbeknownst to most writers, we can perform archeology on your texts by displaying Formatting marks. The tiny circles that denote spaces show the age of your text because the most recent Word just uses dots. We highly recommend inspecting your own manuscripts before you send them for potential publication because it allows you to change old manuscript formatting marks, which tell an editor that you have been working on a manuscript for a long time. Here is how to display formatting marks on your works, so you can eliminate unnecessary spacing (which is the bane of publishing editors everywhere): https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/show-or-hide-tab-marks-in-word-84a53213-5d02-404a-b022-09cae1a3958b Make certain you show everything, from spaces to paragraph marks and any hidden text; the easiest way is to select “Show all formatting marks.”


March 11, 2022

Pasting up the magazines is probably my favorite part of editing four annual literary journals.

 

We’re currently working on Coneflower Café, Spring 2022. As fiction editor, I had to read 50 stories to decide which ones to print. We narrowed it down to 14, but then one writer informed us she had her story accepted elsewhere. That news was not surprising, since it was one of the three strongest stories we received this year, but we still have a few others that are strong, one of which I believe could become as important to American literature as “The Yellow Wallpaper” has been.

 

The paste up process is actually quite complex. I start with one Word file of all the stories in it, and go through them with a fine tooth comb because all kinds of wonky editing ends up in some stories that have obviously had many iterations, some of which leave behind evidence of some of their earlier Word formations. This part is kind of like archaeology because my Show Editing Marks feature of Word 365 uncovers spacing differences from more recent and some very old (in computing years) programming. I have to eliminate any old word processing mark ups and replace them with 365 ones in order to prevent the program from going rogue once I save it as a pdf file for publishing.

 

Once I have excavated all the fiction, I add the Contributors’ Notes pages, which also requires a lot of fine tuning, since some writers’ biographies definitely show old programming code, since most simply build onto their old biographies each time they submit.

 

Then I add the poetry and artworks. The poetry is a whole new dig because some poets like fancy indentations, but I can actually tell how old some parts of some poems are by their editing mark ups, so I get a glimpse into the writing process of many of the poets—learning what parts they started with that they kept in later revisions.

 

The artworks are usually more straightforward to add, but Word can get tricky with them, especially if I put a photo of a piece on the same page as a poem or the end of a story, which I have done more often in this issue, simply because we have SO MUCH to include in it. In looking at our first full draft of the magazine this morning, one photo went cockeyed on us, so I have to find out why it did that.

 

My next step is to create a Contents page. I will end up creating two different versions because the first draft is for the print-on-demand programming at Amazon KDP, which is fickle, but this Contents page has to include actual page numbers, since this version of the magazine will be printed for those who buy it. Making certain the page numbers on the Contents page stay the same as I upload to KDP is the biggest issue with their programming, since it often adds blank pages, and sometimes stretches out works that only take up one page to two, all of which changes the page numbers within the work, so that the Contents page numbers do not match up.

 

After I get our draft of the magazine uploaded and accepted by the KDP programming, we have to wait two weeks to get our proof copies from Amazon to make certain nothing drastic has changed.

 

During that time, I convert the magazine from a print book into an ebook, which means creating hot links from the title of the work on the Contents page that will take readers directly to the work within the magazine. All of our contributors get free copies of the ebook of the magazine in which they appear as our small way of thanking them for contributing to our press. We also sell the ebook version of each magazine on this website.

 

Once both versions of each magazine is complete, I email all of our contributors to give them their free editions and to provide the link to the Amazon book, since many of them prefer print copies to ebooks. We try our best to keep each print-on-demand copy of our magazines to less than $25, but please realize that our press only makes about $1.50 out of each magazine sale on Amazon, although it still seems to be the best venue for getting our magazines out to the world.

 

While the process has many steps, I still cannot believe my job is to work with so many great creators--writers, artists, and photographers, and I look forward to introducing our new fiction—either a collection of short fiction or a novel—contest later this year.

Cheers, Ruth

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November 20, 2021

We have had a busy month. 

Once the finalists and winners were determined for our five creative awards, we were able to put together our final literary journal of the year, The Best of Choeofpleirn Press, which is now on sale through our Bookstore tab and on Amazon as a print-on-demant paperback, which looks great (if we do say so ourselves) as a coffee table book to stimulate conversations about the various works included.

Winners and finalists for the five Awards are also listed in the Bookstore tab, so be certain to take a look.

Then we had to decide which six works were the best pieces of literature that we could nominate for the coveted Pushcart Prize in literature. Unfortunately, the Pushcart does not recognize drama as a category of literature yet, but we nominated the following works for the best literary quality works we published this year in poetry, fiction, and nonfiction:

Poetry

My Daughter’s New Life, Gary Metras (Glacial Hills Review)

My Second Class in Prison, Diane Kendig (Coneflower Café)

 

Short Fiction

Affirmative Action, Richard Marranca (Coneflower Café)

Sandals in the Snow, Madeline Wise (Coneflower Café)

 

Nonfiction

The Cat’s Pajamas, David P. Anderson (Glacial Hills Review)

I Don’t Play the Viola Anymore, Lauren Skaggs (Glacial Hills Review)

While only two of these works were not considered in our creative contests for the Best of Choeofpleirn Press 2021, the rest were, so we feel honored to have had such great works of literature sent to us for consideration for publication this year.

We are already looking forward to 2022 and our first poetry chapbook contest, and are ruminating about when to add a short fiction collection contest to the mix.

We both hope you all have a safe and happy holiday season. Keep writing!

Cheers, Ruth and James

Co-editors, Choeofpleirn Press

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October 22, 2021

Since we do not qualify for grants given to small presses because we began as an LLC, we are currently jumping through the necessary hoops to become a non-profit literary press.

We are also finalizing the awards for the five creative categories, but we have a tie for poetry, so might end up giving out two awards for the top two poems.

All going well, we will be able to announce the results to the winners by November 10th, and send out checks soon after.

We have also added the lists of contributors below each literary journal in the Bookstore, just in case you or your friends are looking for a particular creator's works.

Whatever you do, keep writing!

Cheers, Ruth

Co-Editor

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September 30, 2021

Ten plays and one screenplay were published in our Autumn 2021 issue of Rushing Thru the Dark.

Formatting plays is almost completely opposite of how screenplays are formatted, supposedly so professionals in those fields can easily recognize one from the other. However, the complex formatting delayed our production of the magazine by approximately a week.

Coupled with some poems that had some strange formats themselves, this literary magazine was more of an aesthetic challenge than the first two magazines.

We have learned so much about putting together a gorgeous printed magazine. All (Coneflower Cafe, Glacial Hills Review, and Rushing Thru the Dark) are available through Amazon as print-on-demand books, which really highlights the intense colors in some of the artwork. While we try to keep the print-on-demand copies as affordable as possible (around $25), that usually means we make less than a $1 off of each Amazon sale because of the high costs of printing these days.

So we also work really hard to create the ebook version of our magazines, so that they are also attractive and easily navigable, not to mention highly affordable at $6 per issue through our website's Bookstore.

Once we know who has won in each creative category, we can begin pasting up our final issue for the year, The Best of Choeofpleirn Press, Winter 2021. The poetry judge has many poems to consider, but we hope to know soon.

Thank you for your interest in Choeofpleirn Press' literary magazines! Keep reading and writing!

Cheers, Ruth

Drama Editor

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July 6, 2021


In addition to advertising in Poets & Writers and on Facebook and Twitter when we started soliciting work for Coneflower Café, we wrote many of the universities and colleges in the Great Plains and Midwest, targeting the graduate students in English and creative writing. Originally, I was thinking that Coneflower Café may be more of a regional journal.

Only a few submissions came from Oklahoma and Kansas. To our surprise, we began getting submissions from New England, California, and North Carolina. The graduate students we targeted apparently didn’t want to submit their work to a young journal because of our lack of prestige.

All total, twenty-eight poets appeared in Coneflower Café, seventeen of whom have published one or more collections of poetry. Brian Daldorph, one representative poet,  edits his own magazine, Coal City Review.  Carol Hamilton has published widely and has poems in many other journals. 

Seven fiction writers appeared in Coneflower Café, five of whom have published books.  Daniel Coshnear’s latest fiction collection, Separation Anxiety, will be published in October of this year. Eleanor Lerman’s most recent novel, Watkins Glen, was published in June. Each one of our fiction writers is widely published.

We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of work, both poetry and fiction, submitted to Coneflower Café. We didn’t know what to expect as a journal just opening its doors. We were also happy to see that some of the writers who appeared in Coneflower Café thought enough of our press to submit to Glacial Hills Review, our summer journal.

We have since expanded where we advertise by joining CLMP and adding a call for submissions there for our autumn journal, Rushing Thru the Dark

I look forward to the remaining journals that we will publish this year. 


James P. Cooper, Co-editor

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June 30, 2021

Half a year gone. But what a great demi-year it has been!

As planned, we launched Choeofpleirn Press in August 2020. As college English professors, writers, and editors, we want to encourage all writers to produce their best work, and we chose starting a small, private literary press to help us accomplish that goal.

The only advertising we did for our new press was through Poets & Writers and Facebook, but we still ended up with many great story, poetry, and art submissions for our premier issue of Coneflower Cafe. As writers, we hate not hearing back from potential publishers for ages, so we did our best to promptly review, select, and respond to the works that were submitted, publishing our first literary journal on March 11, 2021.

Similarly, we received many interesting works of poetry, nonfiction, and art for our premier issue of the Glacial Hills Review, which we published earlier this month on June 12, 2021.

We have already received several one-act plays and a couple of screenplays for Rushing Thru the Dark, which will appear in early September, 2021.

The only real error we have made along this journey is not realizing we needed ISSN numbers for each magazine. Instead, we thought we had to use ISBN numbers, which we now know are reserved for books--one-off publications, instead of serial publications. Had we known, we would have saved ourselves $250 because ISBN numbers cost $125 each, but ISSN numbers are free through the Library of Congress.

Once we learned we should be have ISSN numbers for each annual journal, we looked back over the many journals we have worked for over the last 30+ years and saw that most only used ISSN numbers occasionally, a mystery we are not likely to crack. The only reasonable rationale is that ISSN numbers were not invented until the 1970s, and, even though I was the person responsible for copyrighting each issue of the Kansas Quarterly in the early 1980s, for instance, the magazine apparently was not assigned an ISSN number until after my tenure with the journal.

We live and we learn. Possibly the reason we live is to share the wisdom we learn along the way.

Whatever you do, keep writing!

Ruth J. Heflin, Co-Editor