It’s Pi Day! VIDA takes action…

VIDA recently released their annual count, which charts the number of female and male writers in major literary publications. I’ve pasted an email send from their list today, in hopes some BigOther readers might participate in pressuring these publications to fix these numbers!


It’s March 14 – happy Pi Day! In honor of our 2012 Count pies, VIDA is celebrating with a national day of email-writing and phone-calling and more. We’re hoping that everyone in our community will join in so we can make our voices HEARD.

This year, we’ve listed contact info for every publication we Count on the bottom left corner of every 2012 pie (

From Amy King’s “Mic Check Redux” 2012 Count introduction: “[…] we hope that you will help extend the conversation by contacting individual publications to let them know of your appreciation or disappointment regarding their inclusion, or lack of, female writers in their publications.”

Today, VIDA invites you to join us in calling/writing/typing/faxing/gluesticking in order to question, prod, poke, and/or thank the editors and publications who deserve it most.

Please spread this call far and wide!


To Contact:
Holly Burdorff
Operations Director
VIDA: Women in Literary Arts


Guest Post: The Next Big Thing…Kate Durbin

Davis tagged me…


What is the working title of the book?

Kept Women

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was inspired by the reality TV show The Girls Next Door, the show Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, the show Cribs, the language of crime scene investigations, and the language of decorating magazines.

I also was inspired by chalk outline drawings at murder scenes.

What genre does your book fall under?
Prose poetry / conceptual writing / tabloid

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
There are no actors.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
Kept Women is a poem-tour of the Playboy mansion, a search for the missing bodies of Hugh Hefner’s former girlfriends.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
About a month

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
There is a rabbit vibrator and two bottles of OPI nail polish.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
My chapbook was just published by Insert Blanc Press.

Writers I am tagging.

Bianca Stone

Joseph Mosconi

Jon Rutzmoser

Guest Post: The Next Big Thing…Jose Perez Beduya

Thanks, Davis Schneiderman, for inviting me here to participate.

What is the working title of the book?

Throngfrom &NOW Books, winner of the Madeline P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Award.

Throng_Cover-front only2

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Guest Post: The Next Big Thing…from Cris Mazza

Thanks,  Davis Schneiderman, for inviting me here to participate.  It seems your energy, enthusiasm and playfulness have pulled me along in your wake for a while now. How many times have we given readings together, yet I’m still out there in the audience cracking up when you perform? We also wrote a piece together about this new era of author do-it-yourself book promotion. Since I’m a guest here on Big Other, I’ll refer anyone who doesn’t know what’s going on back to your post to explain the game.

You know as well as anyone that book-promotion is one of my anti-talents. I suck at it. It’s almost like taking someone who has played a lot of flag football tournaments and putting her into a rugby game. I don’t know how to get the ball, but then when I suddenly have it, I don’t know what to do with it, and all too soon I’m underneath a big pile of other people.  

What is the working title of the book?
The working title was Leave Her Alone, but the title became Something Wrong With Her.  The book also has a subtitle (being a memoirish type of thing, they always seem to need one), but I’ve been having trouble having the subtitle come directly from my mouth (or fingers) to another’s ear (or eyes).  I’m going to have to get past this (and my aversion is part of what the book’s about).  But here’s the cover:


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‘The Next Big Thing’ Meme and Some Writers Who Helped Me Un-Think It

It’s been a long time since my last BigOther post, but I hope to make up for it, a bit, in the next week or three. My apologies for the somewhat promotional aspect of this post, yet, as you’ll see, that bit is built into the topic.

I also would like to extend the invite for any other BigOther contributors to join in, and post your own entry, if you like.


When the first invitation to participate in the author-promotion meme called “The Next Big Thing…” hit my inbox, my first reaction was to offer a kind, “No thanks.” When the second came, less than an hour later, I took a closer look.

The idea is simple: an author completes and posts a self-interview, tags writers who will do the same interview approximately one week later. The loving vibes spread, as a Chicago-writer friend noted to me via email, in the form of a “Ponzi promotion.”

Yep, it’s a chain letter, sort of. While I have never been one for chain letters, this is not a chain where you must engage in a private act of letter-writing futility nor simply forward the special offer from Bill Gates to beta-test his email service.

No, you self-promote; mention how you picked up the chain and whom you’ve tagged for future glory. I suppose the entire roster of participants eventually raises the level of the discourse from crass self-promotion to a thing everyone cool is doing. I imagine the space where that line changes, from one reader or participant to the next, remains open to serious debate. I wondered, as I sent out my invitation for a future tag to a slate of writers I admire — some of whom chose not to play — whether others would perceive this enterprise as either an opportunity to promote their work unbounded by the usual accusations of self-promotion, or a thing too close to the stigma of many self-published or vanity enterprises.

Of course, I realize that’s it 2013, and an active social network presence is essential for most writers. And yet, I’m 38 and no stranger to this internet-thing-that-lets-you-do-stuff-on-computers, but I have noticed a near-constant talking point of many writers of my generation and older: Anxiety with the intensity of social networking expectations for promotion of one’s own work, with curmudgeonly recourse to J.D. Salinger-style laments about privacy and the almost-fascist importance of “the work.”

I share this anxiety only to the extent that I also lament the amount of time I spend staring at screens, and often feel unable to put them down, and therefore wish that there were ways to minimize this screen time when “working it” for a new book. It’s not that I think I am missing out on some exciting happening in my own yard late at night (raccoon family, let’s just agree to disagree), or that I am taking time away from my children, it’s just that my entire sense of “relaxation” is geared almost entirely to electronic pursuits.

I suspect I am not alone.

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Guest Post by Laura Szumowski

In The New York Stories, I came up with 40 illustrations to go along with Ben Tanzer’s collection of short stories. Each of the 17 stories has an illustrated chapter head plus one additional illustration, both inspired by the content and subject matter of the story. I also added six full-color illustrations throughout the book to highlight particularly vivid images from the text, and to convey the overarching themes of the book.

While I consider this project separate from my larger body of work, illustrating The New York Stories took me down a new path, artistically. Continue reading