Check in and Check Out - CTS Contributors

Congratulations to David Rawding, who recently signed a contract with Red Adept Publishing to publish his first novel "Taking on Water," a Crime/Thriller Novel set in Coastal New England. 

Neil Brown's collection of short stories, "Disfigured Liberty" is now available! 

"Some of the best literature and short stories to come out of contemporary British fiction. Tales of family feud, psychological horror, love stories, urban drama, and gothic romance will move you to tears, will shock you, will compel you to read them again and again."

Big news from Patty Somlo! Cherry Castle Publishing will be releasing her next book "Hairway to Heaven Stories" in January 2017. This collection will include "Horn Man," a story originally seen in Crack the Spine!

Arthur Davis' story "Conversations in Black" was nominated by the editors of Calliope for the Pushcart Prize! And did we mention that Calliope is the official publication of the Writers' Special Interest Group of American Mensa, LtdMany congratulations!

"The Roadkill Collection," by Jon Sindell is now available! 

"Funny, insightful, heartbreaking, ironic, the forty–nine flash stories in The Roadkill Collection glimpse herds of humans crossing life’s roadway—and no one crosses that road unharmed. Graced with compassion and laced with sharp humor, this diverse collection leaves burning rubber all over the road."

Mara Buck has been busy and very successful lately! Check out her recent work in Degenerates Anthology: Voices for PeaceApocrypha and Abstractions, Blue Fifth Review, and upcoming in Sisters Born, Sisters Found: Anthology, and Arcana: The Tarot Poetry Anthology.

Congratulations to Scott Laudati on the publication of his poetry collection, "Hawaiian Shirts in the Electric Chair.

Pushcart Prize Nominees

We recently sent off our picks for Crack the Spine's Pushcart Prize Nominees. Check out our selections below and see if your favorites made the list...

"Mrs. Daley's Diamond Ring"
Published in Issue 95
Published in Spring 2014 Anthology

"Half a World Away" (Formerly entitled 'Commando') by Erin Wilcox
Published in Issue 117
Coming Soon in Fall 2014 Anthology

"The Climber's Crux" by David Rawding
Published in Issue 111
Published in Summer 2014 Anthology

Wordsmith Interview - T.A. Stanley

T. A. Stanley
Age: 25
Brooklyn, NY
Currently working toward my Master's in a Humanities degree focused on Gender Politics

The Writer

How long have you been writing? 
On and off since I could write at all. Only been taking it seriously in the last year or so.

Do you have a specific writing style? 
Right now my voice is in flash fiction with a tendency towards magical realism and other fantastic elements.

Do you write full-time? 
Nope. I go to school and also work in a bakery as a manager/barista. Gotta pay the bills.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer? 
Finding time to revise the short things I jot down.  I tend to write something quickly, think it's crap and then never take the time to come back to it. It takes courage to face the crap and find the good in order to revise it and make it worth people's time.

The Work

“A Guide on Loving Him” is about a woman lying down in bed next to a man she loves. She reflects on his back and how much she loves him.

Is there a main theme or message in this piece? 
I guess I was just trying to interrogate that line between love and obsession and the violent tendencies that both instill in a person.

What inspired "A Guide on Loving Him?" 
A specific relationship. But also most of my relationships up until recently. And just how crazy it can make you feel when someone gives up on you with no explanation and you're left just wanting them to face you.

Tell us about another project you have published or are currently working on. 
This piece is part of an ongoing project of flash fiction pieces, some of which are complete and others that are in the beginning stages. They have a running theme involving the violence of passionate emotions such as love, but also the violences attended to womanhood and the feminine/masculine gender binary.

What inspired this work? My studies in graduate school as well as my lived experiences as a woman who has been raped, had an abortion, and fallen for too many men who didn't understand or care about the significance of the those events in my life.

Where/When can we find this work? Belleville Park Pages was kind enough to publish one piece online and one piece in print (Pages 27). It's a great independent publication, definitely worth checking out. 

The Methods

How often do you write? 
Way too infrequently.

What are your thoughts on writing at a computer vs. writing longhand? 
I generally write first drafts longhand and revise on the computer. I get too distracted on the computer to allow for my creative side to come through in a first draft, but it does make revising much easier.

What is your usual starting point for a piece? 
I'm usually inspired by some sensation in my body that is connected to an emotion or a memory. I try to figure out how best to describe that sensation and what it means for it to be connected to that emotion or memory. Not always, but that is often a place where I start.

How do you react to editorial rejections of your work? 
Usually I can shrug them off pretty easily. I know it's part of the process and no ones work is perfect for everywhere. Sometimes if I thought the journal was an especially good fit I'll feel a bit down for a couple days, but usually I just roll with it and keep submitting.

How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication? 
Well since I'm still pretty new to this I jump around screaming for a bit and feel so honored that someone out there found any merit in what I have to say. Just eternally grateful to start feeling accepted into something so beautiful.

The Madness

What is your favorite book? 
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

Who is your favorite author? 
I never feel like I've read enough of an author's canon to merit picking one as a favorite. I can say that the one that has been the most inspirational to my recent work is Mercè Rodoreda

What is your favorite word? 

Who would play you in the film of your life? 
Michelle Williams, please.

What’s in that cup on your desk? 
Usually either water or coffee with cream, no sugar.

Rain or Sunshine? 

Cats or Dogs? 
Cats (or both)

Pen or Pencil? 

Additional Reading on T.A. Stanley

Twitter profile: @tessie613
Instagram: @ladytstanz

Issue 135

Role reversal relegates our reality, 
Reckons how we traverse the labyrinth of our sanity,
Telling us the untold secrets of love, lust, and life.

- From "The Game" by Caseyrenée Lopez

Tell us what you think of our latest issue by using the comment form at the bottom of this page!

Issue 135 Contributors

Jhaki M.S. Landgrebe
Jhaki is an accidental teacher by trade and an artist and writer by otherwise. Her birthplace in the Midwest was a conservative start to a life of wander. She’s recently settled down and commutes between Sweden and South Dakota. Her artwork and publications can be found at

Frazer Merritt
Frazer Merritt is a Literature & Mythology student at the University of Essex in England. He spent two years in India working on a travelogue that details his wanderings. Frazer has previously published op-eds in newspapers and magazines, along with essays in his university’s academic journal.

Justin C. Staley
Justin C. Staley is a reader, writer, and burger aficionado. His fiction has appeared in Big Muddy and Helicon. He recently finished his first novel and currently teaches writing at DePaul University in Chicago.

Tim Tomlinson
Tim Tomlinson is a co-founder of New York Writers Workshop, and co-author of its popular text, "The Portable MFA in Creative Writing."  He has lived and taught in many places throughout the world, including the UK, Italy, China, the Philippines, and Thailand.  His fiction and poetry appear or are forthcoming in numerous venues, including The Blue Lyra Review, Caribbean Vistas, Coachella Review, Soundings Review, and in the anthologies "Long Island Noir" (Akashic Books), "Fast Food Fiction" (Anvil, the Philippines), and United Verses (China).  He is a Master Teacher of Writing in NYU's Global Liberal Studies program.  

Thos. West
Thos. West holds a Master's in Literature from Oxford University, and spent his formative years in a town twice voted the worst in England. His poetry and criticism has been published in The Oxonian Review and the

Caseyrenee Lopez
Caseyrenee Lopez is a queer writer living in the Deep South with her spouse and fur family. She is the founding editor of Crab Fat Literary Magazine and is also currently working on her Master's in English and Writing.

Ariella Carmell
Ariella Carmell dwells in Southern California, where she is Editor-in-Chief of her high school literary magazine and Head Copy Editor of the newspaper. A Foyle Commended Poet of the Year, as well as regionally recognized by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, she has had work published in Canvas Literary Journal, The F Bomb, TeenInk, and several more places.

Wordsmith Interview - Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier

Karen Boissonneault-Gauthier 
Location: Ontario, Canada
Education: Degrees in Journalism & Photography

The Writer

Do you have a specific writing style? 
Style is a relative thing isn’t it? I try to write the way I speak. If you say I write like I speak, then I must speak with style.

What is your ultimate goal as a writer? 
Setting a goal has never been tremendously important to me. Usually if I set a goal, it comes easily. It’s more of a challenge to keep working and see just how much I actually do achieve. It’s like a surprise; usually far greater than any goal I would have set for myself. Still, I guess I’d be lying if I didn’t say some kind of goal isn’t in the back of my mind.

The Work

Photograph/Visual Art piece entitled “Blue Eye."

What inspired this work? 
This is the eye of my husky.  The icy blue eyes of this dog always look right through you, as if he’s ready to make a meal out of you. The reality is, he is a gentle heart and spirit. You can never judge anyone’s character by appearances. Similarly, I can never judge a good shot until I really see all of its nuances. It just comes through, seeping through the lens.

How long did it take you to complete this piece? 
Two days. 

Anything else you’d like to share about your work in Crack the Spine?  
I’ve shot cover art approximately six times for Crack the Spine. All of the visual art pieces have a specific focal point and vibe about them, which I find really interesting. It simply presents itself to me. I set up very few shots because that holds no challenge. Daily life is real, it’s beautiful, and it’s messy. The mood of a piece, the undeniable lighting possibilities and the story within the image is what I look for. I just hope I find it again and again.

Tell us about another project you have published or are currently working on.
I write a monthly column called “Karma Obscura” for Zen Dixie Magazine. I shoot cover art for Zen Dixie as well. Sometimes I dabble in poetry, like my poem “The Gathering” for Silver Birch Press or “Permitted” for Scotland’s Dactyl Zine. In January 2015, Vine Leaves Literary Journal will feature three of my visual art pieces, giving me the cover as well.

What inspired this work? 
No creative ceiling!

Where can we find this work? 

The Methods

Where do you write? 
In a room with lots of distractions.

What time of day or night makes you most productive as a writer? 
Creatively, the night provides better working conditions for me. A bowl of popcorn doesn’t hurt either.

What are your thoughts on writing at a computer vs. writing longhand? 
I’ve done both, but poetry comes through better writing longhand. My columns and stories need a computer. 

How do you react to editorial rejections of your work? 
I quickly move on and search for other opportunities. 

How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication? 
Happy Dance. (It’s not pretty.)

The Madness

What is your favorite book? 
"The Death of Vishnu" by Manil Suri. It’s so visually and colorfully written. I have affection for books that are written in a way I would never form sentences too. 

What’s in that cup on your desk? 
Either hot tea with slices of ginger. (if I want to be healthy) or coffee mixed with chai and French vanilla powder. (if I want something sweet) It’s always in a larger than life mug.

What is the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? 
A wedding, funerals, births, the smile behind the gold medal, eyes turning from angry to sorry, soldier homecomings, and my kid’s faces. That’s the hardest question ever! I’ve left everything out.

Rain or Sunshine? 
Today? Yes please and thank you. 

Cats or Dogs? 
Dogs ~ Just one.

Beer or Wine? 

The Beatles or The Rolling Stones? 
No singing wrinkles

Additional Reading on Karen

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