Interviewing fellow writer Jeanne Gassman

You use Jeanne’s Writing Desk primarily to list writing contests other writers can enter. This is providing a public benefit, both to writers seeking opportunities, and to the organizers of the contests.

How long have you been doing this? How frequently?

I started my blog in 2008, the same year I began an MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. At the time, I could find random lists in print of markets, grants, contests, etc., but there wasn’t much online, and it occurred to me that it would be really useful to have a central location to find these opportunities. In the beginning, most of my readers were friends, but that has expanded a lot over the years, and now, I don’t know most of the people who read my blog.
I update my blog once a week, usually on weekends.

Why? What do you see as the benefit to yourself?

The blog has had several benefits for me. As I stated above, I started this blog at the same time I began an MFA program. That degree required a massive amount of reading, and the blog was an easy place to keep track of the books I had read for my degree. (You can see that reading list on the right side of the blog.) Since I post so many calls for submission, I’ve also forged personal relationships with editors over the years, so that if I submit my work to them, they recognize my name. Because the blog has been around for quite a few years, editors often reach out to me, asking me to share information about their magazines, anthologies, or contests. And the blog has helped me familiarize myself with the slant and/or focus of various literary magazines, which makes it easier for me to target my own submissions.

Do you personally use these opportunities? If so, what wins can you boast of?

Certainly. If I see an opportunity that I believe is a good fit for my writing or career, I pursue it. I would say that many of my acceptances are the result of finding calls for submission to post on my blog. For example, I recently had an essay accepted by Clerestory Magazine, a market I posted on my blog a week ago. Last year, I published three poems in literary magazines and an anthology after finding the submission announcements to post on my blog. Several years ago, I received first place in the WOW! Flash Fiction Competition, a contest I originally posted on my blog. I have certain criteria for anything I post. Entry fees and/or submission fees should be reasonable. Contests should not base their prizes on the collection of entry fees. Guidelines should be clear and easy to understand.

Jeanne, tell us about your published books.

I have one published novel, BLOOD OF A STONE (Tuscany Press) that won an Independent Publishers Book Award in 2015 in the national category of religious fiction. Set in first century on the edges of the Roman Empire and the Jesus movement, BLOOD OF A STONE is a sweeping story of murder, betrayal, love, and the search for redemption.

I’ve also published short stories and poetry in several anthologies, including: Dear America: Reflections on Race (Geeky Press), Art in the Time of COVID-19 (San Fidele Press), Debris & Detritus: The Lesser Greek Gods Running Amok (Story Spring Publishing), and Sonoran Mirage (Writers Roundtable Phoenix).

What are you writing at the moment?

My novel-in-progress is titled THE DOUBLE SUN and is about a family of downwinders, people who contracted cancer from the atomic bomb tests in Nevada during the Cold War. My elevator pitch: Set during the Cold War, dedicated wife and mother Irene Wittman finds herself in a vicious fight against the US government when she discovers that her family are “downwinders” — victims of government-sanctioned nuclear fallout — but when long-held family secrets bubble to the surface, they threaten to destroy not only Irene’s quest for justice, but the entire Wittman family in the process. THE DOUBLE SUN is perfect for readers of Kate Moore’s RADIUM GIRLS: THE DARK STORY OF AMERICA’S SHINING WOMEN, Rebecca Makkai’s THE GREAT BELIEVERS, and Kristin Hannah’s THE FOUR WINDS.

As of this writing, I’m pleased to share that THE DOUBLE SUN has been longlisted for the First Pages Prize. The short list hasn’t been announced yet.

I give you a magic wand loaded with one wish, which cannot be of exclusive benefit to you. What do you wish for?

A solution and cure for climate change. I worry that we’re leaving a mess to our children and grandchildren.

Why should people visit your website. Um… what is it?

My website showcases my publications, awards, and includes information about my life and influences. I also share any upcoming events, although that has been inactive due to Covid. And there is a contact page if you would like to get in touch.

Life is too short for the seriousness it deserves. Can you write something to make me laugh?

I’m terrible at telling jokes, but I’ll share one I heard that I thought was cute.

Question: Why does Baby Yoda carry a nite light?

Answer: To light a path through the Darkside…and to go potty.

Thanks for inviting me to talk with you. It’s been fun.

Best,
Jeanne

Thank you for your visit, Jeanne. And people, anyone who visits Jeanne’s blog will be rewarded with regular announcements of contests and publishing opportunities.

About Dr Bob Rich

I am a professional grandfather. My main motivation is to transform society to create a sustainable world in which my grandchildren and their grandchildren in perpetuity can have a life, and a life worth living. This means reversing environmental idiocy that's now threatening us with extinction, and replacing culture of greed and conflict with one of compassion and cooperation.
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