Carolina VonKampen

Editor. Reader. Writer.

Category: blog posts (page 1 of 4)

Flash Fiction Roundup: 12 Stories From 12 Lit Mags

In February, I made a concerted effort to read more lit mags. I didn’t quite reach my goal of reading a different one every day, but I did find 12 stories that resonated with me for one reason or another. Enjoy this flash fiction roundup from around the internet!

1. “Imperfect” by Sudha Balagopal in Lost Balloon

This flash fiction centers around a girl at a Catholic school who embarrassingly doesn’t have clean shirts and has to keep borrowing shirts from the rich girl, Pia. The characterization is good, and the narrative neatly arcs to a satisfying ending. I love the line “I want to learn how how to faint” because I have thought that, too.

Read it here.

2. “Shapeless” by Chloe Clark in bad pony

I love how this story took a turn pretty quickly with the line: “Your baby’s a golem.” I love being surprised! I dig the emotional potency of the piece balanced with its slightly speculative/magical realism slant.

Read it here.

3. “Water is My Favorite Color” by Anna O’Brien in Cold Creek Review

I kinda love this story. The main character is fleshed out and real; I feel like I understand her even though I’m 20 years younger. The images throughout the story—water and watercolors and her kids’ color names—are well done and effective. I love how this mysterious Lindy character’s storyline twists at the end, revealing she’s not as perfect as she seems; in the last moments of the story, she’s both pitiful and still slightly unsympathetic.

Read it here.

4. “My Sister’s Aquarium” by Jennifer Todhunter in Cease, Cows

I adore the twist we get right away when we realize that her sister is an aquarium instead of holding an aquarium. That twist is the draw for me; I enjoy the rest of the dialogue and story, and the ending delivers.

Read it here.

5. “The City of Four Million Husbands” by Gillian Ramos in Cotton Xenomorph

Come for the title, stay for the realistic and relatable character that you either are or know. This story is the embodiment of the “girl who falls in love with everyone” character; Ramos crafts a dynamic character throughout a well-paced story.

Read it here.

6. “Sick Girls” by Lauren Becker in CHEAP POP

It’s short, but this story does some interesting things with relationships with others (especially when everyone in the friend group is dying) and relationships with food and body.

Read it here.

7. “Boston” by Matt Carlin in The Sea Letter

Here we have an interesting story about mask as mask, then as metaphor, then as shocking reality. I love the ending on this one.

Read it here.

8. “Take and Give” by Lauren Becker in Jellyfish Review

I like this one for a few reasons: First, the relationship between the narrator and her sister feels real. Second, the turn in the story felt unexpected, even though it’s echoed in the title; it’s an interesting turn because it makes that sister relationship so much more real—only siblings know exactly how to drive each other crazy. I love that the title hints at this twist, but doesn’t give it away.

Read it here.

9. “Now That the Circus Has Shut Down, the Human Cannonball Looks for Work” by Meghan Phillips in Wigleaf

This flash fiction captures how many of us Millennials feel when searching for a new job or at the beginning of our careers. I love the quick, witty prose: Lines like “She works on a cover letter, but isn’t sure how to talk about herself without exclamation points” and “Quick learner—She wasn’t always the Human Cannonball” are perfect.

Read it here.

10. “The Candle Farmers” by Rebecca Harrison in Paper Darts

Not only does this story have a super interesting and metaphorically rich concept, but it’s also got a good storyline and ending. I love the imagery of candle fields, and the story feels emotionally complete.

Read it here.

11. “Insomnia” by Hannah Rahimi in Carve

This story feels so real and genuine. There are lines in here that I love, like: “Gentleness tends to make me cry because it usually means someone has detected something breakable in me that I didn’t know was there. At least the camera’s off.”

Read it here.

12. “Story of a Witch” by R.A. Matteson in The Molotov Cocktail

I love how Matteson plays with the stereotypical flat characters of “witch” and “hero” here; she subverts them in an way that speaks to the current #MeToo movement and adds to the conversation.

Read it here.

Which story (or stories) did you like the most, and why? Tell me in the comments!

Why I Use Inbox Zero

I hate those red notification flags on my iPhone apps. I hate them. They make me feel like I haven’t tidied up every single aspect of my life.

That’s not the main reason I do inbox zero to control my email, but it’s definitely a contributing factor.

What is inbox zero, anyway? For me, it means that the ideal state of my email inbox is zero emails in it, including read messages. Continue reading

Your Career Column: Here’s How You Find an Internship

So you think you want to be an intern? Great idea—an internship can help you earn college credit, gain real-world experience in your career field, make connections with people in your line of work, and figure out whether you really want to do this type of work once you get out of college.

But finding internships that are relevant to your career interests isn’t always easy, especially if you can’t afford to move outside your home state or the area you attend college. Luckily, I’ve got a few tips and tricks you can use to find an internship near you: Continue reading

I Read Lit Mags Most Days for a Month—Here’s What I Learned

At the beginning of February, I challenged myself to read selections from one lit mag every day for the entire month. As with most goals, I didn’t end up reading lit mags *every* day, but I did read a sampling. Here’s what I learned from this reading challenge: Continue reading

6 Books by ACES 2018 Presenters to Add to Your To-Read List

As an editor, writer, and book lover, I’m always looking for excuses to buy and read new books. I’ll be attending the ACES 2018 editing conference in Chicago this year, so I decided to find out whether any of the people presenting sessions had recently published books. Surprise surprise, they have! Some books are related directly to the presenters’ ACES sessions, and some aren’t. Here are six books by ACES 2018 presenters to add to your to-read list before attending their sessions in April: Continue reading

Reflections on Copy Editing My First Full-Length Book Manuscript

In January, I copy edited my first full book manuscript. Naturally, it was an exciting moment for me as an editor. I had prepared for the edit for a few months, but I didn’t know quite what to expect when I sat down to copy edit 46,000 words within one week for the first time. I learned a few things that will make my next book project easier to tackle.

Here’s what I learned (and some things I wish I did) while copy editing my first book manuscript: Continue reading

I’m Actually Going to Read Lit Mags This Month

I have a confession to make: Since November, I’ve been regularly submitting the few pieces of my writing that are polished enough to send into the world to lit mags. But rarely, so rarely, have I actually…read…lit mags.

It’s terrible. Around 75 percent of lit mag submission guidelines suggest that writers read the magazine to get an idea of what the editors like. This makes sense. But I haven’t done it.

I have no excuses, really. I like reading, I intend to support lit mags, and I want to find the best places for my writing.

So I’ve decided that in February, it’s time to actually read lit mags. Continue reading

19 Books I Just Had to Buy in the United Kingdom

Bookstores are my weakness, and quite unfortunately, I was recently subjected to several tempting multi-level, well-stocked London bookstores. Reader, it was terrible. As I threw more and more books into my arms (and eventually into shopping baskets), I tried to think of some constraints to narrow down which books I would allow myself to buy. I decided upon a few rules to guide my British book buying:

  1. I could buy books that weren’t available in the United States yet.
  2. I could buy books that had sucky U.S. editions but fabulous U.K. editions.
  3. I could buy books that were significantly cheaper in the United Kingdom than the American Amazon prices.
  4. I was required to buy the complete volumes of Roald Dahl’s short stories, because gah.

Continue reading

8 Bookstagram Collections Readers Should Have on Instagram

If you’re a social media savvy reader, there’s a good chance you’ve discovered the world of #bookstagram, a community of book lovers on Instagram. Bookstagram is a bit overwhelming; there are so many readers with such diverse tastes and aesthetics that it’s hard to keep track of your favorite reviewers, book recommendations, and more. Enter Instagram’s private collections bookstagram collections

Not only can you save photos on Instagram, but you can also sort your saved photos into collections. This is useful for readers because it reminds you why you saved yet another photo of a book: Did you want to read that book? Did you like the composition of the photo itself? Or did you want to read more of that bookstagrammer’s reading recommendations? Here are some collections that readers should make and utilize on bookstagram: Continue reading

Editors Can’t Be Perfectionists

I just finished copy editing my first full book manuscript. After I had read through the entire thing, I was searching for “their” to check agreement, and I came across a sentence that was missing a word.

I stared at my computer in horror and blathered incoherent noises for a minute.

Later, as I was doing a final scroll-through of the Word document, I spotted an “every” that should have been “ever.” Oh no! I fixed it, obviously, but the negative thoughts rushed into my head: The manuscript is probably riddled with errors—egregious, noticeable errors—and I will be found out and never trusted with a book manuscript again. I’ll be stuck editing blogs until I go blind.

But then I remembered a very important lesson that I’ve had to teach my perfectionist self: Editors can’t be perfectionists. Continue reading

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