Mid-American Review’s Fineline Competition

6 Feb

On Market Monday I get to talk about my very first literary magazine crush.

When I first got serious about my writing—or to be more accurate, in the first phase of the very long process of getting serious about my writing—I’d often meet with my friend Kelly at a cafe-bakery in Durham, North Carolina, both of us toting a fat, Post-It-note-bedecked Writer’s Market and a handful of the latest literary magazines we’d sampled, to help each other figure out submissions. We’d talk favorite stories and essays, then move around some Post-Its, then eat salads scattered with candied pistachio nuts. Most distinctly I remember the slabs of fancy cake I’d bring home to share with the husband, and Mid-American Review.

I hugged an issue of Mid-American Review to my chest and declared it the first literary magazine I had read with rapture from cover-to-cover in one sitting. And as it happens, it’s the only literary magazine I have ever read that way. “If I could get published here,” I said then, tapping the cover…. Well, there was no reason to finish the sentence because this was the stuff of fantasy.

MARcover35_1.inddYou know where this is going, so I’ll spare you the details of how many years it took for me to feel confident enough to submit to MAR, then how many times I got a “this was so very close” rejection that made me soar then crash in the space of about 40 seconds… and just break for the finish line: In the fall of 2014, MAR published my micro “Three Things” as part of a special issue celebrating very short prose. I drafted it during my Daily Shorty year on March 18, and barely changed a word before I submitted it to MAR’s Fineline Competition. So I can’t say sweet writing-world-luck has never given me a kiss.

You can’t ask for a more respected magazine to be associated with, and you certainly can’t ask for kinder staff, who send friendly e-mails keeping you up on the publication process, and maintain a blog where they will do whatever they can to promote the authors in their pages. I listed the Fineline Competition on my micro and flash contest page, so a quick peek tells me the deadline is June 1. You’ve got plenty of time to polish three micros of 500 or fewer words. Good luck!

And now to check off the Market Monday boxes:

Do I like what MAR publishes? I’ve answered that, but here I’ll focus specifically on the Fineline micros they’ve published over the years. Unfortunately, MAR publishes very little work on their site, but they do have the 2013 Editors’ Choice micro, Anika L. Eide’s wonderful “Some Parents,”in their sample contents. And after spending far too much time playing Google, I’ve tracked down two other lovely Fineline pieces available online: Jennifer Cheng’s 2013 winning piece from her Letters to Mao; and Andrea Witzke Slot’s “Panoply,” which was published in the same issue as my “Three Things.” You will not find more impressive company for your own work.

Aesthetics? Up to now I’ve looked at markets that publish their work online, but MAR is a print journal. Like almost all print journals, they do a very nice job of presenting the published work. I love their blog, where they post bits and pieces to promote the writers they’ve published. Here’s an interview they did with me, for example. And do yourself a big favor and search their blog for “Pets with MAR.”

The last two are easy: Yes, they nominate their authors for awards; and the guidelines of a contest that lets me submit 3 pieces of micro fiction at once make me very happy indeed.

You just can’t do better than Mid-American Review. When I read any other literary magazine cover-to-cover in one sitting, I’ll be sure to let you know that you should submit there, too. In the meantime, if you’re a lucky Fineline winner or editors’ choice, let me know so I can congratulate you. Happy writing!

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2 Responses to “Mid-American Review’s Fineline Competition”

  1. Sarah February 13, 2017 at 7:56 PM #

    I loved reading your interview with MAR! I keep thinking about the “sleek and flexible brain” vs the brain that’s “too stiff in the knees.” I relate to the latter (and man, can we just stream Netflix?), but I’m also fascinated by the brain’s plasticity. Regrets fascinate me too, and I can’t believe they asked about not one but two regrets! Mouth full at the hypothetical family reunion reads like a micro–love it!

    • Claire Guyton February 14, 2017 at 2:10 PM #

      Ha! Thanks, Sarah! That MAR–they dangled regrets, regrets b/c they damn well know we writers carry buckets and buckets of regrets, and love to polish them to a high shine! They fascinate me, too, b/c they say so much about who we are NOW (and often NOTHING about who we were when we made whatever fateful decision we’re pining about). I wish I had brain plasticity but I think I might have left that behind a few years ago….

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