Handle with Care

by Corey Ginsberg
100 words

First a finger arrived, jammed into a jewelry box in an unmarked white envelope.

Then on Tuesday, a package with "Handle with Care" stamped across the side showed up at Judy's cottage. Inside, an entire hand, bloated digits stained with blood, middle finger up.

Thursday, a tube with a fully extended arm wrapped in bubble paper arrived. A Timex on the wrist, stopped at
12:28—her birthday.

Saturday, when the UPS man pushed a tall narrow box onto her porch and asked her to sign for it, she scribbled help me on the sheet and hoped it wasn't too late.

Corey Ginsberg is an MFA candidate in nonfiction at
Florida International University. She is currently on the job market, so please hire her. She will write for food.

Parable 1

by G. David Schwartz
95 words

It is like the king who found himself alone at the boarder of his kingdom. When he heard the growling and prancing of a lion approach, the king prayed to be saved. He found the strength in himself to run to a tree as the lion gave chase. The king climbed out of the way just as the lion leaped. The king climbed higher and higher to avoid the stalking lion below. When he was near the top of the tree, an eagle that thought the king was invading her nest plucked out his eyes.

G. David Schwartz - the former president of Seedhouse, the online interfaith committee. Schwartz is the author of A Jewish Appraisal of Dialogue. Currently a volunteer at
Drake Hospital in Cincinnati, Schwartz continues to write. His new book, Midrash and Working Out Of The Book is now in stores or can be ordered.

It Won't Work, Melissa

by Apryl Fox
97 words

There was the time Melissa tried to get me into a singing career; there was that agent at the Billowing Pig, who knew someone in Hollywood who knew some casting director at American Idol and was looking for new faces. I don't care about
Hollywood. I care about reading books. So, Melissa, if you are reading this, no, I am not going to be an actress or a singer in Hollywood, no matter how well I sing. I'd rather learn how to make birds out of loose leaf paper. I'd rather learn how to make paper cranes.

Apryl Fox loves to write and currently resides in
North Carolina.


by Robert Scotellaro
66 words

He had a heart pickled in loss and other bitter brines. Its removal was simple—like lake ice cracking. From a sternum to a well they drew from. The Bible, which replaced it, had fly wing-thin white pages.

Nights, when his wife could not sleep, she'd lay her head on his chest—listen to her favorite passages, in lieu of crickets, banging away in the dark.

Robert Scotellaro's short fiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in: Dogzplot, Ghoti, mud luscious, 971 Menu, The Laurel Review, Storyscape, Battered Suitcase, Red Rock Review, Boston Literary Magazine, Macmillan collections and others. He is the author of several literary chapbooks, two books of poetry, and the recipient of Zone 3’s Rainmaker Award in Poetry. Born and raised in Manhattan , he currently lives in California with his wife and daughter.


The Wandering Eye of Harold Krapp

by Sabrina Stoessinger
100 words

Had the clerk at Ellis Island better penmanship, the Knapp family would have been spared generations of humiliation. Had Eugenia Krapp ignored the traditional practice of passing family names, her son may have escaped his formative years relatively unscathed. Had Harold exercised caution in pursuit of his tormentor (reciting the familiar “Hairy Crap” limerick) he would still have his eyesight.

The fourth escape of Harold's prosthetic eyeball proved exasperating and he immediately petitioned the local judge for a legal name change. To begin his life anew he would be Ignatius Patch; it was, after all, his favourite fictional literary character.

Sabrina realizes she misjudged Ottawa, Ontario upon their first meeting and is now willing to reconcile and give it a second chance.

Wood Pile Bird

by Edmund Sandoval
100 words

There's a turkey by the wood pile next to the splitting stump with the maul in it, blade heavy and dull. The turkey's dead. When I first saw it I thought it was a hawk - it was the feathers, dusky brown and white. My brother said, Nope, that's a turkey. Been there for months but nothing will eat it. Must've been sick.

I wanted to fling it into the field with the tall yellow grass. Grass that's spindly, cutting. I pick up the maul and wind up to hit the bird but my brother stops me. No, he says.

Edmund Sandoval likes running up hills in Southwest New Mexico and looking at the emptiness of the hills. He likes bourbon. He’s had stories in Hackwriters, Drunk and Lonely Men, Dogzplot and The Thieves Jargon.



by Tom Doughty
98 words

I call you to come over, knowing what a big deal it is to escape. People to mislead, arrangements to be made, tracks to be covered. I suspect the hassle is part of the allure, a penance for the sins about to be committed.

You show up out of breath, saying it wasn’t easy getting out, hair disheveled, face and chest flushed. You look like you just rolled out of bed after a polite marital missionary fuck. Maybe you did. You certainly have the scent of excitement wafting from you. Fresh for me or just warmed up leftovers?

Tom Doughty spends too much time inside his own head. He doesn’t see it as that big a deal but family and friends keep encouraging him to, “get out, have some fun, find a nice girl and settle down. . .You’re not getting any younger you know.”

Those Nights

by Ethel Rohan
100 words

The couple at table nineteen want to send back their dinner. The guy is pale, slight, with chiseled features. I've brought home worse.

He says, "the first and last time I get duck."

The woman, greasy hair, skin, tongue, says, "way too much cinnamon in my mousaka."

They don't want anything else, just the check for their wine.

I lift the plates, cross my arms. "Did you want to try swapping?"

"Excuse me?" she says.

He smiles.

I carry their plates out the front of the restaurant and into the cool air, drawn to the streetlight and its buttery cast.

Born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, Ethel Rohan now lives in San Francisco. She received her MFA in fiction from Mills College, CA. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from several literary magazines including Cantaraville; SUB-LIT; Word Riot; Prick of the Spindle; Identity Theory; and mud luscious. She is a brazen chocoholic. Her blog is www.straightfromtheheartinmyhip.blogspot.com.

On the Porch

by M. Stowe
100 words

Charlie stands under the pale porch light. “Your mom dumped me on her coffee break, kid. I’m leaving for Austin in the morning.”

In the darkness of the hall, hair up and glasses on, she is the image of her mother. “You stink.”

“Been drinking.”

She pulls her robe tightly around her neck. “Were you in my room last night?”

Charlie spits into the withered azaleas. “I want you to come with me.”

The wrong response will bring him through the door. His anger is quick.

“Pick me up at seven.” She closes the door and listens for his footsteps.

M. Stowe is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. His work has appeared in Peeks & Valleys, Riverwind, and decomP.

How I Talk to Myself

by Eric Bennett
100 words

I write letters, sorry so few. The telephone just doesn’t work for me, too many flying verbs. I’ll remain in vocal exile.

I miss our hip action, our 1988 love. But, I’m terrified of our 1996 anger.

I misplaced everything; you gave me everything. And now, I can’t remember where anything is.

The crows in the front yard heckled me. So, I left, left, and left. I left the shot glasses we bought in Vegas and the towels we stole from that dive on 66. I left our cat.

I still talk to you, but you don’t answer. Not anymore.

Eric Bennett lives in New York with his wife and four children. He loves trees without leaves, the silence between previews at a movie theatre, and writing short stories. His work appears or is forthcoming in Why Vandalism?, Gloom Cupboard, Bartleby Snopes, Smokebox, Apt, decomP magazinE, The Battered Suitcase, Dogmatika, Up the Staircase, and Dogzplot blogspot.


by Tom Lassiter
99 words

Molly sets her menu aside and orders blueberry pancakes “with crispy edges” she’ll drown in maple syrup. At 10, she’s sure in her wants and unafraid to ask.

“The same,” I tell the waiter.

Molly hunts among the crayons in a tin bucket and chooses red, the color of her hair. She turns to the fairy princess outlined on her place mat. We breakfast every Saturday morning, then do whatever strikes us. On Sunday, I return her to her mother.

The crayon, flickering like a sparrow’s wing, pauses.

“Come home.”

“Oh, sweetie, I--”


Yes, yes, but how?

Tom Lassiter lives in South Florida. His work has appeared in Tropic magazine, New Times, many newspapers, and at verbsap.com.

Love Lost

D.E. Fredd
72 words

If you won’t lead, I can’t follow. Therefore I lie awake, a Newtonian body at rest, motionless, stagnating in the doldrums, choked by a Sargasso Sea of hopelessness, waiting for gravity to pull me into your universe,

Failing that, my fervent wish is to decay then disintegrate into a fine powder and, caught by the prevailing breezes, track you down as Stanley did Dr. Livingston. Whereupon, we shall become one, I presume.

D. E. Fredd—lives in Townsend , Massachusetts . He has had fiction and poetry published in several journals and reviews including the Boston Literary Magazine, Connecticut Review, The Pedestal, Storyglossia, SNReview, eclectica and Menda City. Poetry has appeared in the Paumanok and Paris Reviews. He received the Theodore Hoepfner Award given by the Southern Humanities Review for the best short fiction of 2005 and was a 2006 Ontario Award Finalist. He won the 2006 Black River Chapbook Competition and received a 2007 Pushcart Special Mention Award. He has been included in the Million Writers Award of Notable Stories for 2005, 2006 and 2007. A novel, Exiled to Moab, published by Six Gallery Press will debut in 2009.


Interview with Henry Baum

Henry Baum and the
Self-Publishing Review

"I really do want to improve the attitude towards self-publishing – it’s not just a delusion to justify not getting published traditionally. I have been published traditionally. So I understand the difference between traditional publishing and not. I think the new wave of self-publishing opens up incredible doors that weren’t possible before and I’m fine with being an advocate for what that offers, rather than hitting it big immediately with a mainstream publisher." - HB

It's been said that those who can, do, and those who can't, teach/review/edit/agent/find other ways to dump on those who can.

I didn't say it's true; I said it's been said. Usually by people who get bad reviews or can't find an agent.

It certainly isn't true in 36-year-old Henry Baum's case. Not only does he not dump on anyone, but Baum--indie rock musician, songwriter, professional blogger and web content writer, novelist, and creator of the relatively new website Self-Publishing Review (SPR)--certainly can.

His recent novel, North of Sunset, was listed in Entertainment Weekly as the #1 self-published novel. He's had agents. He's had publishers (Canongate and Hachette Litteratures, The Golden Calf's Another Sky Press).

So, clearly, this L.A. native is doing something right with his writing, but the sad truth is that it often takes more than good writing for most to find, and keep, a publisher. When it doesn't work out, for whatever reason, many authors with something good to sell will very likely, at some point, turn to self-publishing.

Unfortunately, there's a seemingly indestructible stigma attached to self-published work. All self-published work. However well-written or however strong the story, if the author self-published, having that work taken seriously is a not-so-pretty challenge, and making money off of it is --


Baum, however, doesn't think the stigma is indestructible, necessarily, and will do what he can to erode it with the help of SPR.

The Self-Publishing Review has a growing list of contributors who, along with Baum, conduct author interviews, submit insightful --and sometimes painfully honest--commentary, and review self-published work (the good and the bad). The site also provides a wealth of advice, resources, links, and marketing tools for the self-published author.

And people are reading it.

"I've been happy," Baum says of traffic to the new site, whose biggest day thus far saw around 400 hits. He adds that an average day's traffic hovers around 100 - 150 unique hits per day, with anywhere from 300-400 page views.

"People are sticking around and reading. It's been growing steadily and people have been linking to different posts around the blogosphere, so things are happening quickly," he says.

The attention the site is receiving may have something to do with a changing trend in publishing, one even the New York Times sees happening. Motoko Rich, in an article for Books section, writes, "Louise Burke, publisher of Pocket Books, said publishers now trawl for new material by looking at reader comments about self-published books sold online. Self-publishing, she said, is 'no longer a dirty word.'”

Says Baum, "I think the Self-Publishing Review’s come at a good time, because a fair amount of the stigma is fading."

Visit his website and you'll discover his reason for being so unbelievably positive. One article written by Baum links to a piece from The Atlantic, in which political blogger Andrew Sullivan writes, "The future is obviously print-on-demand, and writers in the future will make their names first on the web. With e-distribution and e-books, writers will soon be able to put this incompetent and often philistine racket behind us."

Another SPR article, also written by Baum, praises the distribution and readership possibilities open to self-published work with the advent of the Espresso Book Machine:

"[T]he Espresso Book Machine could revolutionize how people buy books and how people regard print on demand, so it is a significant development for publishing on the whole."

While self-publishing may be on its way to being taken seriously, it's not fully there yet. Baum, in the following interview, discusses his decision to self-publish and how he plans to help revolutionize the perception of self-published writing.


Tuesday Shorts: Do you think authors who self-publish should first try the traditional agent-query route?

Henry Baum: It depends on the book and depends on the patience of the writer. If you’re releasing a non-fiction book that’s very topical then you should think about self-publishing. If you’ve written something that deserves to be published but would have a hard time finding a publisher – I’m thinking of a book I reviewed recently called Broken Bulbs, which would have a hard time aside from a chapbook house – then self-publishing makes sense.

But if you’re looking to start a career and want the furthest reach possible, you’re going to want to find an agent and go the traditional route. As Frank Daniels has written on the SPR site, the paradigm is shifting where self-publishing is becoming legit, but having a book in every Barnes and Noble, Borders, etc. is the best way to sell a book – especially if you’re combining it with all the online marketing stuff that self-publishers do.

TS: Did you try to get The Golden Calf published through traditional methods?

HB: Yeah, I did. I’ve had many agents in my life. An agent took on a novel I wrote before TGC called “Dishwasher” – which she wanted to title “Dishboy,” because it was “funkier,” which signifies my relationship with agents. That book was a sort of slacker/Bukowski novel. It didn’t sell and I wrote The Golden Calf, which was a better book, but the agent hated it. She sent it out begrudgingly and it got rejected. I remember one rejection clearly: “I cannot see a market for a novel that is slight and lacking in any meaningful message.” I started submitting the book myself to small publishers and Soft Skull took it on. It was their first full-color, perfect-bound book. They’d been printing up at Kinko’s at that point.

TS: What did you find most frustrating when trying to deal with the
mainstream publishing industry?

HB: That they wouldn’t take me on seeing that I was a writer of possible promise and that maybe my best work would be three books down the line. You know, nurture a career, rather than try to make an immediate profit on one book. Which is unfair pressure and not how art evolves. Ever, in any medium.

TS: Why do you think mainstream publishers aren't picking up the truly good work that ultimately gets self-published?

HB: Well, I’ll give publishers a little benefit of the doubt. Of course, they worry about marketability and that’s a shame, but also there are more people writing than ever before – along with fewer people reading. That’s a tough combination, so someone’s going to have to be left out. To be honest, I don’t work in an editor’s office, so maybe there are people who are championing more-challenging work but they’re getting talked down by “the suits.” And then publishing gets blamed on the whole, sort of like self-publishing gets blamed for the worst writers, not the exceptions.

That, or people are just very bad at recognizing good writing – which is very possible.

TS: Did you hear from any publishers or agents after the publication of the EW article listing North of Sunset at #1?

HB: I actually got the dream letter based on that Entertainment Weekly article. A very high-profile agent sent me a request to represent the novel sight unseen. Which was amazing. Then again, I didn’t have the greatest contact with him. Literally never talked to him on the phone, so the book was totally treated as a product. He sent it to 10 or 15 places and it didn’t find a taker. I’ve come right up to the edge of getting a book deal and I’ve been lucky in some regards, but I’ve never gotten a major break.

TS: What was it that finally prompted you to create the Self Publishing
Review? There must have been a "that's it" moment.

HB: My “that’s it” moment was, “Fuck it, I have to do everything myself.” I’m working on a novel and I just don’t have the heart or will to go through the query process again. Perhaps I don’t have the same ambition of “making it” anymore. And this novel has some of the issues of North of Sunset – it’s not in any one genre. NoS was partly crime, partly literary. The new novel is partly science fiction, but I’m not a science fiction writer, and it’s not a traditional science fiction novel. So I foresee a lot of the same rejection notes that I’ve gotten for other books.

There’s a whole new world for book marketing than there was when I first self-published only two years ago. So I wanted to start the site that I wished existed when I self-published years ago. Taking self-publishing seriously as a legitimate way to get the word out.

I’d become so jaded to publishing that I wanted a way to start thinking about the topic again. I’d lost some serious faith in publishing, even in writing itself, as it had been unfaithful to me. But I think self-publishing is a great development because a writer like me, a writer who doesn’t suck, can have an outlet even if no one decides to take the book on.

TS: Are you still working on being published in the traditional way?

HB: No. It would be great if my next novel got picked up by a publisher after it was self-published – because I want the traditional distribution. But I’m not going to submit the book to agents or editors. Querying is boring, frustrating, and often a waste of time. And if somehow the novel did get picked up after being self-published that’s an extra story to tell about the book.

TS: How much time do you spend on the website, and what are you doing when you're not tending to it? (What's your day job? How do you find time to review books and work and take care of the website and make music?)

HB: I try to get in five or so posts a week. And I’ve tried to find new writers to write posts as well. I’ve had some great people involved with the site so far. Normally, I write web content and blog professionally for sites all over the web. That was another impetus for starting a professional site. Instead of having to hustle for freelance work, I could create a site of my own – a topic I care about and I think is fulfilling a need online. Of course, I probably won’t make much money from the site, but at least it’s a possibility.

TS: Who else writes for SPR?

HB: A number of different self-published writers. Frank Daniels has a great, but brutal, piece about going from Lulu to Harper Perennial. Chris Meeks, who I’d met online because his book was also in Entertainment Weekly. I’d built up great relationships with other writers by self-publishing, which was proof enough to me that it’s a valid enterprise. He knew some other writers who’ve also contributed. Francis Hamit, a historical fiction writer, is writing pieces he’s going to collect in a book on book marketing in the future.

The site is looking for contributors so please contact the site if you’re interested.

TS: What do you ultimately hope to do with the website? The dream goal.

HB: Well, I’d love to be able to sell some copies of my next novel through the site, as well as other writers’ books. And I’d love for the site to make some money. If I can’t make a living writing fiction, I can make some money off of writing about the industry Yes, I have a profit motive. I’d love to devote my time to something I care about, rather than some of the mind-numbing web content I have to write day to day (If any of my employers read this, I’m not talking about your project, I’m talking about the other ones).

Eventually, I’d like to have a network of these sites – a music review site as well. I play and record music by myself and I’m active in communities online where people do the same, so I’d like to start a site for people who home record. Maybe indie film as well because the technology’s coming along where people can make professional quality movies for cheap. But I’d need some serious help writing sites like that because I’m not much of a gear head.

Aside from my self-serving goals, the main manifesto of the Self-Publishing Review is sincere: to help get self-publishing taken seriously as a totally legitimate route, not a place for the pathetic and under-talented. There’s great writing being self-published and crappy books as well – same with traditional publishing. Only for some reason with self-publishing the crap represents self-publishing on the whole. But with Youtube, Wikipedia, blogs – all self-publishing platforms to some degree - people are much more amenable to the process. I think the Self-Publishing Review’s come at a good time, because a fair amount of the stigma is fading.

TS: While there are certainly a number of worthwhile self-published books, there are probably ten times more not quite ready for public consumption. It's for this reason that most big-name reviewers won't even look at self-published work, which leads to that work not being introduced to the public except in the small circles a self-published writer can afford to market to, which then leads to the writer not making enough money with her or his self-published work to be able to afford to not work and sit home and write another book... Do you see any end this seemingly hopeless cycle?

HB: I don’t think it’s snobbery at all to not review self-published books. There are already too many traditionally-published books and reviewers have to draw the line somewhere. But I think as the stigma fades about self-publishers, reviewers will start reviewing those books that get good reviews other places – litblogs and the like. And there’s an increasing number of places that are amenable to reviewing self-published works. When North of Sunset came out, there were around five blogs devoted to self-publishing, now there are 50 and counting.

The real problem I see is not reviews, because even the worst book can get a good review, but the fact that self-published books can’t be found in bookstores. People really do need to pick up a book, flip through it, feel it, to decide to buy a book – even if they might buy the book later online. I’ve got high hopes for the Kindle and ebook readers becoming more commonplace – not just as a publishing issue, but an environmental issue. It’s stupid that so much printed paper goes to waste. And that could be a major thing to help promote ebooks.

TS: What are you doing to promote your website?

HB: Like I’ve said, I have contacts with other self-published writers, so they’re helping to spread the word. I’ve emailed every site owner affiliated with self-publishing. I’ve submitted the site to a mind-numbing number of directories. I add posts to social networks. This stuff is my normal job - writing and promoting content – so I’m just doing it for my own site. The site is relatively new and it’s already getting a good amount of traffic.

TS: What genres of self-published work does the site review? Is it limited to novels, or will you also look at poetry, plays, etc.?

HB: Ideally, I’d like to review everything. Including get rich quick ebooks people are hocking all over the place. Which is why I’d like to bring new writers and reviewers on board. To be honest, my window into fiction is limited. For instance, I just reviewed a romance-based novel. It wasn’t a full-fledged romance novel, but it had some qualities. And I’ve never read a romance novel before, so I couldn’t quite review the novel as it related to the history of romance writing. So I’d like to find some authorities of different genres.

TS: What should authors expect when they send their work to SPR for review?

HB: That reviews are going to be tough, but I’ll never rip into a book mercilessly. I don’t see the point in that. Also, my taste in fiction is a bit darker and I don’t have a great interest in mainstream writing. That said, I can appreciate something when it’s page-turning, when it does what it sets out to do very well. So I don’t judge stuff on whether or not it’s literary, which is a kind of genre in itself, but if it succeeds at what it’s trying to do. We have a growing stable of reviewers so I’ll farm something out if it’s really not my boat.

TS: What three things should every self-published author know?

HB: 1) Don’t expect to sell a lot of books. 2) That doesn’t matter because connecting with new readers – however many – is the goal.
3) There’s no shame or defeat in self-publishing if you satisfy #2.

Many thanks to Henry for taking the time to answer so many questions, which were followed by follow-ups which were then followed by follow-up follow-ups. - KT