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Del Sol Press is pleased to announce that JUST OFF ELYSIAN FIELDS by Woodlief Thomas has won the 2018 Del Sol Prize for First Novel.

Woodlief Thomas is a writer and teacher in Little Rock, Arkansas. He has also lived in New Orleans, Brooklyn, Mississippi, and Mexico. His writings have appeared in Armchair/Shotgun, Oxford American, The Progressive, In These Times, Nowhere, and Newfound.

Of the winning novel, Del Sol Press Editor in Chief Chris Stewart said, One is immediately drawn into the world of this novel and its characters, of which New Orleans is one. It is rich on every level and will haunt you. We are so pleased and proud to be the press to publish it.



By Susan Tekulve
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In this collection of twelve essays, Susan Tekulve explores the tasks we perform that earn us more than a paycheck. Tekulve's topics include the gathering of secret family stories; surviving a night of haggis and Scottish whisky; mothering a musician son; facing down two teenage gunmen, and caring for a dying mother. The key word in this collection is memory. Whether investigating common occurrences, or making narrative sense out of events for which there are very few words, these essays remind us that memories, and the shaping of them into stories, are the best kind of work. Susan's stories and essays have appeared in Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, New Letters, Best New Writing 2007, The Indiana Review, Denver Quarterly, Puerto del Sol, Prairie Schooner, North Dakota Quarterly, Connecticut Review, Beloit Fiction Journal, Crab Orchard Review, The Literary Review, Webdelsol, Black Warrior Review, and The Kansas City Star. An Associate Professor of English, she teaches in the BFA and MFA in creative writing programs at Converse College.

By Walt Cummins
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Walter Cummins learned very early on that the writer he knew as a person, no matter how well, is not the writer whose words he read. Even when the material is autobiographical, even based on incidents he has heard about in great detail, the written version is another reality and the voice or character experiencing the situations a much more complex being than the person who told him about them. So, what does it actually mean to know a writer?

By Richard Hacker
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Upon acquiring a powerful and coveted magical pen that enables its user to write himself or herself into the mind and soul of any historical personality, Reid and fellow alchemists known as "Inkers" wage a war in Earth's past from 3rd century Alexandria to 16th century South America in an effort to prevent the time-altered Incan Empire from destroying the America of the 21st century in a terrible nuclear conflict.

Once their missions are complete in the past, the alchemists must "die back" in order to break the link and return. Reid and fellow Inker, Jules McCullough, are therefore forced to learn they must be willing to die to save the future, and as often as possible.

By Rebecca Winterer
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Two teenage sisters--Bernadette, the explorer and skeptic; and Jane, the Christian optimist--engage in an unorthodox battle for the truth of their attack in the Australian bush. As they grow up, each seeks refuge in their own world: Bernadette in the maps and writings of the 19th century explorer Charles Stuart, Jane in her faith and teaching. Their parents, Audrey and Robert, unaware of what's happened, deal with their own break in the security of their marriage. Audrey copes by creating a button quilt, its patterns an intricate topography hinting at the family's secrets and betrayals. As the quilt grows and the years pass with the growing burden of what's unsaid and denied, each character bends the boundaries of time and memory to negotiate with the trauma that has separated them from themselves and each other... [ more on Amazon ]

By Reilly Michaels
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From 1743 Prussia to 2238 Dubai, the Pan Buddhist Democratic Union (PBDU) wages war to save humanity from being annihilated and replaced in the 21st century by a mad vision of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. PBDU member, Czarina Catherine II, joins forces with spellcrafter Zolo Bold as well as her younger self, the Princess Freddie von Anhalt, and together with World Maker Niccolo Paganini they face an implacable foe, the most brilliant mind to ever invent the future: Leonardo da Vinci--recast to the 21st century as Master Edison Godfellow, inventor and magician supreme.

"War of the World Makers" by Michaels is a dark science-fantasy with no delusions of grandeur. It is truly grand. [ more about this novel ]

By Walter Cummins
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Walter Cummins has published six previous short story collections: Witness, Where We Live, Local Music, The End of the Circle, The Lost Ones, Habitat: stories of bent realism. More than 100 of his stories, as well as memoirs, essays, and reviews, have appeared in magazines such as New Letters, Kansas Quarterly, Virginia Quarterly Review, Under the Sun, Arts & Letters, Confrontation, Bellevue Literary Review, Connecticut Review, The Laurel Review, Other Voices, Georgetown Review, Contrary, Sonora Review, Abiko Quarterly, Weber Studies, Midwest Quarterly, West Branch, South Carolina Review, Crosscurrents, Crescent Review, The MacGuffin, in book collections, and on the web. [ more books ]



Robert Olen Butler has published sixteen novels--The Alleys of Eden, Sun Dogs, Countrymen of Bones, On Distant Ground, Wabash, The Deuce, They Whisper, The Deep Green Sea, Mr. Spaceman, Fair Warning, Hell, A Small Hotel, The Hot Country, The Star of Istanbul, The Empire of Night, Perfume River—and six volumes of short fiction—Tabloid Dreams, Had a Good Time, Severance, Intercourse, Weegee Stories, and A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain which won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Butler has published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream, edited with an introduction by Janet Burroway.

In 2013 he became the seventeenth recipient of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature. He also won the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award. He has twice won a National Magazine Award in Fiction and has received two Pushcart Prizes. He has also received both a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. His stories have appeared widely in such publications as The New Yorker, Esquire, Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Zoetrope, The Paris Review, Granta, The Hudson Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, and The Sewanee Review. They have been chosen for inclusion in four annual editions of The Best American Short Stories, eight annual editions of New Stories from the South, several other major annual anthologies, and numerous college literature textbooks from such publishers as Simon & Schuster, Norton, Viking, Little Brown & Co., Houghton Mifflin, Oxford University Press, Prentice Hall, and Bedford/St.Martin and most recently in The New Granta Book of the American Short Story, edited by Richard Ford.

[ more ]

Some Words on the Revision Process

by Rebecca Winterer

Initially the most difficult part of the revision process leading up to publication was being asked to do it. I know how naïve that sounds now, but at the time I believed the manuscript I'd submitted was more or less finished. Once the editor had identified enough in my work that would interfere with a reader's enjoyment of the novel, it was clear to me that it wasn't finished and I had plenty of work ahead.

Some of the editor's feedback made sense to me and some didn't so I addressed the areas where we agreed, which wasn't as straightforward as that sounds since I was forced to analyze why feedback makes sense or doesn't, which meant I had to address my biases. In other words, I had to be especially diligent with regard to the feedback that didn't make sense to me. I promise you that to question one's choices and to truly consider whether something works is not easy. The danger is that, if you don't do this, you may unwittingly alienate readers as I did and subvert the potential of your work. Where aesthetics may differ, and the structure or form of a piece might be controversial, this is even more important to do. Throughout the revision process, I worked to clarify why I was making the choices I was and how to best implement them, more carefully keeping the reader's experience in mind. The editor naturally pointed out where I'd forgotten to do this.

Once I'd decided on a course and had begun to revise, I was faced with another challenge: my old writer self. Each time I reviewed a scene or chapter or considered a character or transition, I was faced with this earlier Rebecca, who'd confidently written certain things a certain way. It felt like I was dealing with a Rebecca who was a trickster, who left puzzles to be solved and gaps to be filled, who hinted at character behavior and inserted stand-in passages that hopefully the later Rebecca would find, decipher what they stood in for, and replace. I was dealing with a Rebecca who would happily overwrite a passage as much as underwrite it, and who tended towards generalities in language and action that were begging to be clarified. She was relentless: she would leave pages of narrative that would explain all you needed to know and not only be death-defyingly meaningful, but also death-defyingly dull and unreadable. Worse, sometimes she wasn't even a thing of the past. I could revise a passage one day that the next day had been sabotaged and in need of further revision. Worse still, I'm certain she's left problems that I wasn't able to recognize in my final review of the novel, graciously leaving me vulnerable to critics into eternity.

I will say, however, this earlier Rebecca wasn't malicious. I could see that she always tried to write and to tell the story well, and to be true to her characters, and, in fact, thankfully, was successful many times. Where the story flowed, the narrative tension was consistent, the language was clear, pace varied, the characters authentic, and the transitions seamless, I could see she was leaving the later Rebecca clues and models as how that could be done and even to remind this later Rebecca that it was doable.

My revision process wasn't exactly scientific, but it wasn't magic either. I annotated the novel and combined my list of issues with those of the editor and worked my way through and back and over again and again. I became more proficient at identifying where I'd set up roadblocks for the reader and better at understanding and implementing ways to clear the way. It wasn't standard. Some techniques you can study and some issues you mull over in the middle of the night and, if you're lucky, a solution will come. Some solutions are born from hours or days of frustration and hopelessness. Go figure.

Publication, of course, is the hard end to the revision process. Perspectives change. I expect you have to let bygones be bygones. Now all I hope is that my novel, THE SINGING SHIP, provides pleasure to those who read it. (Thank you to the editor at Del Sol Press, Christine Stewart, for her help along the way.)

Night Writer

We asked K.C. Aegis, whose novel BINDING PROGRAM placed third in the 2016 Del Sol Press First Novel Prize competition to share his first experience of writing. The 2017 Del Sol Press First Novel Prize closes May 15th. Learn more and submit your manuscript here: http://www.delsolpress.org/DSP-NovelCompetition.htm

When I was in the ninth grade, my English teacher gave me a failing grade. She handed it to me at the beginning of class--a story I had written--with a big red F scribbled on the front. Beneath this, she had written a single word: Plagiarism.


Writing the Other

Sadie Hoagland holds a PhD in Fiction from the University of Utah and an MA in Creative Writing-Fiction from UC Davis. Her work has appeared in Slush Pile Magazine, The Black Herald, MOJO, Alice Blue Review, Grist Journal, and The South Dakota Review, among others. Her novel, STRANGE CHILDREN, placed second in the Del Sol Press First Novel Prize this past summer. The story focuses on two sisters, Emma and Annalue, and takes place in a polygamist commune in the desert, where a 14-year-old boy and a 12-year-old girl fall in love, breaking religious law. They are caught, and a year later she gives birth to his father's child, while the boy commits murder four hundred miles away, a crime that will slowly unravel the community.

When I tell people that my novel, Strange Children, is about several characters coming-of-age in an isolated polygamist community, there are usually many follow-up questions. One of the most frequent is: Did you grow up in a polygamist community?



Del Sol Press is pleased to announce that THE SINGING SHIP by Rebecca Winterer has won the inaugural First Novel Prize for 2016.

Winterer has received fellowships at The Millay Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College and an MS in Physical Therapy from Columbia University. She has volunteered at the nonprofit Writing Center, 826 Valencia, taught creative writing at the Writing Salon, and is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Contest judge, the award-winning novelist Madison Smartt Bell, called the work, "breathtaking in its freshness, originality, and structural ingenuity."


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