WMBTSG Day Thirteen (Comment to this post to enter the drawing)

Welcome to day thirteen of the Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway. Today’s giveaway is A Cup of Comfort for Writers edited by Colleen Sell. Four copies of A Cup of Comfort for Writers with essays by Sage Cohen, Samantha Ducloux Waltz, Amy Mercer, and Lisa Romeo will be given away to four winners!

Book Description: As every writer knows, keeping the faith isn’t always easy. On those days when you find yourself literally at a loss for words, you may long for a little writer’s TLC. In A Cup of Comfort for Writers, you’ll meet more than fifty writers who, just like you, have faced down that empty page — and won — from a woman who enters an elite writing program at the age of forty, and proceeds to blow “the pros” away, to a man who wins his wife’s hand by writing her countless love letters. Whether you’re already published or as yet undiscovered, A Cup of Comfort for Writers will inspire you, motivate you, and fuel the fire that keeps you writing.

Sage Cohen: “Flow”

Sage Cohen is author of Writing the Life Poetic: An Invitation to Read and Write Poetry, forthcoming from Writer’s Digest Books, and the poetry collection Like the Heart, the World. Her poems and essays appear in journals and anthologies including Poetry Flash, Oregon Literary Review, The Oregonian, blueoregon.com and San Francisco Reader. In 2006, she won first prize in the Ghost Road Press poetry contest. Sage holds a MA in creative writing from New York University where she was awarded a New York Times Foundation fellowship. Visit her at Sage Said So.

Samantha Ducloux Waltz: “A New Point of View”

Samantha Ducloux Waltz is an award-winning freelance writer in Portland, Oregon. Her essays can be seen in the A Cup of Comfort series, the Chicken Soup For The Soul series, the Ultimate Series and a number of other anthologies, as well as The Rambler and The Christian Science Monitor. She is also published under Samantha Ducloux and Samellyn Wood. Visit her website, Paths of Thought, for more info.

Amy Mercer: “What Makes Me Whole”

Amy S. Mercer is a freelance writer living in Charleston, South Carolina with her husband and two sons. Her essays have been published in skirt! magazine, Diabetes Forecast and on Literary Mama. Amy is working on her MFA at Queens University and is the Blog Editor and columnist for Literary Mama as well as the Associate Editor and columnist for The Writer Mama e-zine. Read her blogs Chronic Mamas and Dreaming About Water.

Lisa Romeo: “I Remember Anna”
Lisa Romeo’s essay recounts how her devotion to the work of Anna Quindlen carried her through some lackluster writing jobs and eventually provided the impetus she needed to recast her writing career. Lisa now writes personal essay, memoir, humor, narrative nonfiction and poetry, and has been published in the New York Times, O-The Oprah Magazine, and many other magazines, literary journals and online venues. She is a frequent contributor to anthologies, including the upcoming Feed Me: Writers Dish on Food, Eating, Weight and Body Image (Ballantine Books, January 2009). Lisa holds an MFA degree from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine and lives in New Jersey with her husband and two sons. She is senior editor for a media industry website and is at work on a memoir of linked essays. Visit Lisa Romeo Writes. [Lisa posted an interview with me today, on her blog. I hope you will check it out.]


Today’s question: Have you ever written a personal essay and submitted it to an anthology? Why did you or why don’t you? (Don’t make me get on my soapbox about what a great opportunity this is…especially with anthologies like Cup of Comfort, where contributors often get to participate in group readings!) If you have submitted a personal essay to a anthology recently, please give yourself a big public pat on the back right here!

If this is your first post in the giveaway, please read “Da Rules.”

You may post your comments until midnight PST on September 13th.


30 Responses to “WMBTSG Day Thirteen (Comment to this post to enter the drawing)”

  1. 1 Maryann Miller September 13, 2008 at 6:13 am

    I have submitted personal essays to a couple of anthologies. One was Chicken Soup For the Gardeners Soul. I thought I had the best story for them, but alas, they did not accept it. Another piece I wrote about how it felt to become a grandmother was initially accepted for an anthology a long time ago, but ended up being cut from the project because of space – the anthology was running too long. UGH!

    Personal essays are relatively easy for me to write as I was a columnist for many years and wrote when my five children were young – the twins were three. I think I did it to save my sanity. I wrote a humorous column in the vein of Erma Bombeck and had plenty of nonsense in real life to draw from.

  2. 2 Amber September 13, 2008 at 6:31 am

    I’m not shy about submitting to anthologies. I think it’s a great way to have a story or essay showcased and lets me reach a new audience I may not have reached otherwise.

    The trick, I think, is matchmaking. If I am writing something new for an anthology is the idea unique or am I rehashing an idea or sentiment that hundreds of others are going to write about? If I have something set aside that’s already written could it be tweaked to match the theme more closely? Those are important questions to ask before submitting.

  3. 3 Tricia Grissom September 13, 2008 at 6:43 am

    No anthologies, but I sent out a short hail mary query with an essay to a New York online magazine called Babble.com. And they published it.

    If you have a good essay, you can jump query letters in a single bound and get instant publication. Yes, you must write it first, but it’s an instant all-access pass to success. My friend Alice just published in Cup of Comfort for Breast Cancer Survivors and she has a story pending for Chicken Soup.

    So anthologies are next for me. Watch out!

  4. 4 Kelli September 13, 2008 at 7:49 am

    Yes, I have! And it’s all because of WRITER MAMA. After I started reading your book, I found your blog and saw the post calling for submissions to this Cup of Comfort series. I had never written a personal essay before (I’ve really never written anything for publication before) so I knew it was a long shot, but the title of one of the volumes, “A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers”, inspired me.

    Although it was over four years ago that I first became a mother, the whole experience is still such a vivid memory…so life changing…so empowering…so defining. I knew I had a story to tell.

    SEVERAL drafts later, I submitted the essay…and unbelievably enough, it was selected for publication!!! My personal essay, “Welcome Home”, will appear in “A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers” to be released in April of next year…Honestly, I still can’t believe it.

    I’m not sure if you saw my comment awhile ago thanking you for posting that submission opportunity. I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise. Thanks again. 🙂

  5. 5 Meryl K. Evans September 13, 2008 at 7:52 am

    Jenna Glatzer had a wonderful idea — an anthology related to stories of strength in the after math of Hurricane Katrina. She wanted the writing community to do something to help the victims. The result is Stories of Strength with contributions from Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game author) and Wil Wheaton.

    My story about my father also joined the collection. Since Dad passed away last Christmas, I’m glad I had the opportunity to do something like this although I’ve never been a big on this kind of writing. Plus, the book came out a couple of years before his death. It allowed us to connect in a unique way.

    The entire book’s proceeds benefit disaster relief charities.

  6. 6 Angie Goodloe September 13, 2008 at 7:56 am

    Actually, I have never submitted to an anthology. I just read How to Become a Famous writer before you’re dead by Ariel Gore, she has a whole chapter on anthology submitting called ‘be an anthology slut’ – honestly I did not know much about how to submit your work to these publications until I read this book.
    I do plan attempting to submit an essay to one of these in the near future. I just checked out the Cup Of Comfort site- I am thinking about submitting an essay for ‘A Cup of Comfort for the Grieving Heart’- I could use a good cry.

  7. 7 rowena September 13, 2008 at 8:58 am

    I have never submitted an essay to any anthology. I’ve submitted poems or short stories to magazines or contests occasionally, but then I retreat into being busy and doing something else and never send out again. I’ve done this many times.

    I have a thing about publishing and being afraid. However, I have so many personal essays now that I write in my blog regularly. I wonder why I have never thought about trying to be published in an anthology.

  8. 8 anniegirl1138 September 13, 2008 at 9:08 am

    I have been urged to write about my late husband’s illness and widowhood/remarriage in more depth than I have gone into on my blog, and I shared a bit of my story with a writer who is just completing her manuscript on a problem solving technique she came up with and that I actually used during those dark times. She is the one who thinks I should forget about fiction right now and write a memoir.

    But it is hard to write about the early part of my journey and it seems like an intrusion into my late husband’s privacy. Couple that with the fact that I did not become a LifeTime movie saint of a wife during those times. I was angry, frustrated and very alone and reacted accordingly in the beginning and who wants to be warty for the world to see?

    Also, I don’t usually find out about anthologies until it is too late to submit. I haven’t a clue where one looks for that kind of information and I am pretty certain that many of them are looking for that women’s magazine uplifting stuff rather than the reality of what it means to be a caretaker, watch someone die while still holding job a full-time job and being a defacto single mom and what it is really like to be a widow at a young age.

  9. 9 Cheryl M September 13, 2008 at 9:36 am

    I have written personal essays, but I have never submitted to an anthology. I’ve submitted a particular essay to print magazines and online magazines, but with no success. A personal essay is what initially inspired me to start writing and I’d really like the chance to publish it, but have not found a good fit. I’d love to submit it to an anthology, but how do you find ones on your subject to submit to?

  10. 10 Amie H September 13, 2008 at 10:53 am

    Yes, I need to put this on my writing to-do list. I love to write personal essays but I admit that I have not submitted to any anthologies. My lame excuses are A. When I look up the anthology topic (horse lover, dog lover, cat lover, pasta lover) my loves or experiences are not on the list. And B. I need to get over trying to be inspiring or comforting and just write my story and go from there. I should try one and maybe I’ll surprise myself.

  11. 11 Judy September 13, 2008 at 10:57 am

    I wrote a personal essay and submitted it for an anthology this summer. At this point it has made it to one the final fifty five. I am cautiously optimistic that it will be published. I have another personal essay in the works. I will submit it for another anthology soon. Fingers and toes crossed…

  12. 12 Cara September 13, 2008 at 11:30 am

    I was basking in the glow of the positive feedback I had gotten from my writing group on my latest personal essay.

    “You should submit it somewhere,” one woman said, “really.”

    But just where did someone submit personal essays? I spent the rest of the afternoon searching around on the internet and voila! I unearthed an entire collection of websites, ezines and print anthologies all looking for slice of life stories. What topics are they looking for?

    Well I’ve recently submitted or am in the process of submitting to: Twenty-Four Seven (caregiving), Baby-shaped Hole (miscarriages), The Ultimate Gardener (gardening, what else?), Cup of Comfort (fathers, grieving), Chicken Soup for the Soul (resolutions, cats, cancer, power moms), Traveling Mamas (travel stories), Bedpan Banter (hospital stories) and Lavanderia (laundry!).

    Chances are if you’re interested in something, there’s someone out there putting together an anthology on it.

    This summer I finally hit paydirt (in the figurative sense!) with two of my stories appearing in online collections, and one to appear in an anthology next spring. The moral of the story I think is to write about what you know best, and then learn to harness the power of Google to find those markets!

  13. 13 Adrienne September 13, 2008 at 11:32 am

    I love submitting personal essays to anthologies. I’ve been fortunate to having been accepted in about half a dozen ranging from small press anthologies to nationally distributed ones. There are so many ways of tracking calls for submissions (Poets and Writers, The Practical Writer, CRWOPPS, etc) that it’s easy to keep a few pieces in play at any given time. Anthologies are a great incentive for finishing draft essays created from writing classes or conferences, or as personal exercises. Personal essays are so popular these days that if an essay is rejected at an anthology, it may very well find a home at an online or print magazine. A lot of online magazines are publishing print- based “best of” anthologies, and I had the good luck to have an online essay selected for a small press print anthology that way – – talk about a piece of candy dropping in my lap. What I love most about anthologies (and online magazines) is that they have a much longer shelf life than a print magazine. I’ve had pieces published in print magazines only to have my work disappear from sight once the magazine’s next issue comes out. I’ve also walked into used book stores and found anthologies with my essays – – yippie! – – bringing my work to new readers, year after year. So, anthologies are great, and I wish there were more of them being done. I’ve never tried to Cup of…series, but maybe I will, one of these days.

  14. 14 marnini September 13, 2008 at 11:46 am

    I love writing personal essays. I have two that I thought about submitting to Guideposts or Angels on Earth. I always thought it would be great to try and submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul or Cup of Comfort, I am always inspired by the stories in their books.
    This book sounds great.I know I already one twice but I would sure love to win this won. If not I will be certain to pick it up.

  15. 15 Celestial Goldfish September 13, 2008 at 11:53 am

    Can I scream out a resounding, “Yes!” here? I’ve submitted to about five anthologies now, and I was accepted on my second try. That book, The Ultimate Cat Lover, just came out. I received my contributor’s copy a week ago and my first-ever writer’s paycheck yesterday. So yes, I am very excited. I feel like I can say I’m a writer now, with tax paperwork to back that up!

    Why did I submit my personal essay? Well, a big motivator for me was reading Writer Mama. That may sound like a kiss-up, but it’s the truth. I read that book at the end of last year and knew I wanted to make personal essay publication part of my writing goals for 2008. Since I love cats and have a ton of cat stories, The Ultimate Cat Lover was a perfect fit. I’ll continue to make essay submissions as I find the right markets, too. These anthologies are very competitive, and that makes it feel even better to make it in.

  16. 16 Mary Jo C. September 13, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Whew! Reading all these posts from you fine mamas has my opinion of submitting to anthologies mixed. I can totally feel for MaryAnn and anniegirl.

    Writing essays has been such a struggle for me. For one it is so raw and exposing, to have that work rejected would be much more personal than say, a nonfiction article. And, I tend to ramble and lose focus. I am studying different books, sites and workshops on essay writing to overcome this hurdle.

    But like anniegirl and Cheryl say, it’s hard to find a match for what we’re writing. I have some deep, even dark things I’d like to share and find a market for, if I got up the nerve.

    So, no I have not submitted to an anthology, though I throughly enjoy reading them! Esp. this giveaway. Which of us writers couldn’t use a cup of comfort? (Maybe with a splash of Kahlua??)

  17. 17 Laura September 13, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I have never submitted to a personal anthology, yet. However, personal essays are what I am most comfortable writing. The first two articles I submitted were to Guideposts, a national Christian magazine, and a year afterwards, I got an email from an editor. One of those articles, a personal essay in the What Prayer Can Do section, was published in August 2007.

    While I am currently working on two other essays for Guideposts (they prefer completed works to be submitted), I think that I should consider trying a personal essay for an anthology. It’s time for me to stretch my wings a little.

  18. 18 Christine Zibas September 13, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I haven’t submitted anything to an anthology, but a good friend of mine had hers successfully published with a group of LA writers, so I know this can be a great vehicle for showcasing your talent.

    This is my first post on this blog. I learned of your site through Gather.com, which is a great social network for readers and writers. One thing I really appreciate is learning about other women’s writing aspirations and challenges. Sometimes I (and other new writers) aren’t even aware of the resources out there. As women, we are using to sharing and supporting, and the writing craft is no different.

  19. 19 Jen September 13, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    I love writing and submitting personal essays to anthologies.

    A few years ago I got lucky right away and was published in two anthologies on two totally different subjects (women’s adventures at sea for one, transforming lives for the other). I had the privilege of participating in a series of readings for each and enjoyed every second.

    I then took a break from anthology and magazine writing to focus on getting my family going.

    I started writing again in the last year or so and have written a few new personal essays, three of which I’ve submitted to three different anthologies. I’m waiting to hear from each place and am crossing my fingers that “no news is good news” for the time being!

    My plan for this year is to keep submitting personal essays to anthologies until I have a recent acceptance under my belt, come heck or high water. 🙂

  20. 20 anna September 13, 2008 at 5:40 pm

    Absolutely, yes . . . and in fact, my submission was quite recent. Thanks to a link I found via the “writing road” blog roll, I found the Pearl Girls Anthology, call for entries. So I submitted one of my personal essays, which is a memoir story of my family’s accident when we lived in Africa. In this accident my father died and my mother was paralyzed, after which she managed to raise us four not- alwways- angelic children, by herself. She is, needless to say, an inspiration to us all as we walk this road of faith as women of God!

  21. 21 krysk September 13, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    Congrats to everyone who has submitted and been published, I would love to follow in your footsteps! I have written a ton of personal essays and then filed them safely away on my hard drive. I don’t know why I have never submitted – actually I guess I didn’t know that anthologies had open calls for submissions – and then I also didn’t know that there were so many anthology collections around. I will definitely pay more attention to these opportunities in the future and who knows maybe by this time next year I will have “bragging rights”!

  22. 22 Katrina September 13, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    Wow! All of the successes I read in the previous responses should be motivation to submit some essays! I have a half dozen or so in various stages of incompleteness and I confess that, whereas in nonfiction I find my throughline easily, my essays always seem bog down in the middle. Finding the throughline to the end is foggy; I feel like I’m trying to find my way home using a map for the wrong state. And it’s easy to set them aside when I have paying gigs to accomplish. Yet, I dislike unfinished business, so I’d like to see one of them through to submission/publication.

  23. 23 KristyG September 13, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    I have not submitted any personal essays, but I have thought about it a lot. While I find it is very enjoyable to write, it does make me feel a little “exposed” when putting yourself out there on such a personal level. It’s the confidence hurdle again. But, thank you Christina for giving us so much to think about. I have learned a lot over the last two weeks!

  24. 24 Christine September 13, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    I have never submitted a personal essay although I have written several! I took a class on the personal essay in college. I wrote a fantastic essay I was quite proud of. I think I exercised some personal ghosts in the writing process. At the time I had visions of finding publication and receiving rave reviews. I found it not that long ago and I must say it is quite terrible. But I will not be deterred. I so enjoyed writing personal essays and would enjoy trying again. I’ll put this on the list of things to do!

  25. 25 Abbey September 13, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    I have several half-written personal essays, but none that are finished enough to submit for publication. I think since these stories are so personal, I’m ultra-critical of my writing because I want to correctly capture the experience, emotions, etc.

    I need a little “umph” to finish these and submit. They are doing no good sitting in my hard drive!

  26. 26 Tammy E September 13, 2008 at 9:56 pm

    I never thought about submitting a personal essay to an anthology. I assumed the essays were all previously published somewhere else.

    Wow, reading the comments from others on this post has been inspiring and informative. Actually, something very exciting happened around our house that might make a great essay.

    So, no I haven’t submitted an essay to any anthologies yet, but I will in the near future.

    While I’m waiting to win the Cup of Comfort for Writers, I think I’ll take Mary Jo’s advice and splash a little kahlua in a cup for the evening.

  27. 27 Rosemary Lombard September 13, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    I haven’t yet submitted a personal essay to a genuine anthology, but recently submitted one to what might be called an anthology’s cousin. It’s not a stand-alone collection or series of similar collections, but rather takes the form of a journal that shifts topics issue by issue. (A librarian would catalog an anthology series as a book and the journal as a serial; the type of content can be the same.) I had an unpublished piece that happened to fit their topic, so why not? I added a brief preface to the story that clarified the way it fit the topic. We’ll see if the publishers think so. If they don’t, maybe it’s time to look for a genuine anthology!

  28. 28 Sarah K. September 13, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    As I am new to trying to write for publication, I have just recently submitted my first personal essay. Whether it will be accepted or not, I am still waiting to hear. (I’m keeping my fingers crossed.) I find personal essays very exciting to write…it is so much like journaling (which I love!) but instead of writing just for my own pleasure I get to share something that is important to me with others.

  29. 29 Terri Elders September 14, 2008 at 10:24 am

    Just about two years ago I decided to submit to Chicken Soup for the Soul: Celebrating Brothers and Sisters. I wrote a funny tale of how I saved my little brother from disgracing our family at a church Easter pageant. My story, Easter Bloomers, was accepted and my brother, who is now in his mid-sixties, was jubilant. Since then I have had three additional Chicken Soup acceptances, including Tribute to Moms, Life Lessons for Living the Law of Attraction and the upcoming Divorce and Recovery. I also have stories appearing in The Ultimate Christmas, My Dad is My Hero, and Cup of Comfort for New Mothers and Cup of Comfort for Adoptive Families. It’s a delight to have my relatives and friends enjoy the tales of my life’s adventures, to see my byline and to cash those checks!

  1. 1 WMBTSG Day 13: And the winners are… « The Writer Mama Riffs Trackback on September 14, 2008 at 9:02 pm
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