From the File of Nice Rejection Letters

I received a nice rejection letter last week by email. Contents below:

Dear Renee,

We thank you for submitting your story, "Her Own Private Idaho," to Electric Literature, though it was not chosen for publication in our journal.

We are committed to publishing short stories by both new and more established writers, and hope that you will consider sending us your best work in the future.


Electric Literature


Just wanted to let you know that a reader said there was "something really nice about this writing" and described it as "fluid, easy to read."
Thank you for sharing your work with us.


On Wed, Jan 6, 2010 at 12:54 AM, renee simms wrote:

Attached please find my story "Her Own Private Idaho". Thanks for reading my work.

Renee Simms


Something about that personal note at the end, made it easier to accept and sent me back to my rejection letter folder to find the "nice" letters I've received through the years:

Some were just short handwritten notes:

And some were a bit longer:

But each was a nice surprise in a process that can wear on the nerves. Look for pics of more letters in a following post....

From Huffington Post's "Gulf Oil Spill: Animals in Peril"

Good Things Happening in AZ

I went with my kids to the candlelight vigil and protest against AZ's immigration law held last night at the state capitol building in Phoenix. Rev. Al Sharpton led a march from Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church to the capitol where several hundred people were already gathered with signs, candles, American flags, collage art, makeshift jail cells. A woman I didn't know thanked me for coming and said that she really appreciated the support of my family. Local writers were up in the crowd. I saw the efforts of poets Mark Haunschild and Fernando Perez who have provided a space for children and adults at the protests to use paint and markers to leave handprints and visual artwork against SB 1070.

I saw the Los Suns jerseys that the Phoenix Suns wore last night in their game against the Spurs. Sharpton was wearing a jersey when he spoke last night.

This week the city councils of Tucson and Flagstaff have voted to sue the state over SB 1070.

Last Friday, the documentary "9500 Liberty" premiered at Harkins Valley Art Theater on Mill Avenue in Tempe. According to the filmmaker's press release, "the documentary is about a Virginia county's short mandate requiring officers to question people they had cause to suspect were undocumented immigrants. The Prince William County mandate was repealed in two months due to negative economic, legal and public safety impacts." The documentary is playing all this week.

Speaking of documentaries, on Saturday, May 8th from 5:30-7:30 pm at Civic Park Space, 424 N. Central in downtown Phoenix, there's a screening of the film "A Village Called Versailles." From the press release:

Welcome to Versailles, New Orleans––home to the densest ethnic Vietnamese population outside of Vietnam. For over 30 years, its residents lived a quiet existence on the edge of New Orleans. But then came Hurricane Katrina, the immense garbage piles and the shocking discovery of a toxic landfill planned in their neighborhood. Watch as they fight back, turning a devastating disaster into a catalyst for change and a chance to build a better future. Independent Lens is like an independent film festival that introduces new documentaries and dramas made by independent thinkers: filmmakers who are taking creative risks, calling their own shots and finding untold stories in unexpected places.
And today at Civic Park Space I will be taking part in Poetry Central where several Phoenix Union High School students will get the opportunity to write poetry on themes of war and peace in response to paintings created by Vietnamese Children. It's part of the Vietnamese Children's Art Project that you can read about here.

Quotes: Ron Carlson

I've been reading Ron Carlson stories this week and loving every minute of it. Here's an excerpt from the story, "A Kind of Flying":

"It's quiet in the store today. I can count sparrows on the wire across the road. My advice! She smiled yesterday when I told her. Just get married. Have a friend sing your favorite song at the wedding. Marriage, she said, what is it? Well, I said, it's not life on a cake. It's a bird taking your head in his beak and you walk the sky. It's marriage. Sometimes it pinches like a bird's mouth, but it's definitely flying, it's definitely a kind of flying."
--from Plan B for the Middle Class. Copyright Ron Carlson 1992.


Artwork from Copyright Paul Foreman.

I'm dealing with a lot of clutter lately.
Cluttered schedule.
cluttered desk.
cluttered house.
cluttered mind.
And yet in the far reaches of my messy life lurks the last draft of the last story that I want to complete. It bubbles up every now and then--what a tease. If I can make it through all of the work events, birthday parties, soccer practices, baseball games, etcetera, I will finish the story. "Ssh," is what I'll say if you dare interrupt.