Get to know Lori Rader-Day for the reading Tuesday!

Lori Rader-Day is reading this Tuesday, November 4 at 5 pm at the Gage Gallery. Ms. Rader-Day is a Roosevelt University MFA graduate, so we are particularly excited about her success and reading. Here a few facts to help you get to know her a little better before the reading Tuesday…

Five Facts for your Friday about Lori Rader-Day

  1. New York Times bestselling author, Jodi Piccoult, picked Ms. Rader-Day’s short story for Good Housekeeping’s first short story contest in 2010. Lori Rader-Day’s first published book, The Black Hour, was published by the Seventh Street Press in 2014. She is also the recipient of the Chris O’Malley Prize in Fiction from The Madison Review, and has had stories published by TimeOut Chicago, Crab Orchard Review, and others.
  2. She grew up in central Indiana, but has lived in Chicago for a decade now and has become a staple in the literary community. She is the vice president of the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, a member of Sisters in Crime Chicagoland and the International Thriller Writers, was a member of the 2014 debut author class on the Debutante Ball blog, and frequently teaches students through StoryStudio Chicago.
  3. She finished the first draft of her second book, Little Pretty Things, in August. She wanted to finish it “before anything anyone says about my first book (good or bad) burrows into my brain and stops me cold.”
  4. She wrote the equivalent of two books during her three years at Roosevelt, and still wishes she had written more. “The best stuff I learned at Roosevelt had to do with discipline…You’ll never be sorry for writing more than you were assigned to write.”
  5. She wrote The Black Hour while working a full-time job. She is the Office of Communications Director at Northwestern University. She said that she “wrote the first draft between January 2010 and July 2011—and then spent another year revising and getting it right.” Sometimes writing during lunch breaks, before work or even 10,000 words on a cruise in the Caribbean because “That’s vacation to me—having time to write.”

Bonus fact: Ms. Rader-Day found her soundtrack to her second book in Lorde’s “Buzzcut Season”. She acknowledges that this makes her seem that she’s a teenage girl, but alas, she’s not, but admits that “I’m writing about some, and also some women who used to be teen girls and aren’t quite done with it.”

Be sure to stop by the Gage Gallery Tuesday, November 4 at 5 pm for the reading, refreshments being served at 4:30 pm.

One last fun fact, TUESDAY IS ELECTION DAY! Go vote. Only those with “I Voted” stickers will be allowed into the reading. (Not really, but maybe…)

Facts compiled from:

And a lovely email interview with Ms. Rader-Day.

Cassandra Morrison is a MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at Roosevelt University and serves as a reader/editor for issue 42 of Oyez Review.

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Lori Rader-Day reads next in the Reading Series on November 4 at the Gage Gallery. Stay tuned for more information about the Roosevelt MFA alum!

LRD Flyer

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Valeria Luiselli reading on Wednesday, October 15.

Valeria Luiselli is reading at the Gage Gallery on October 15 at 5:00 pm in collaboration with MAKE Literary Productions’ Lit & Luz Festival. We’re excited to welcome Ms. Luiselli, so here are a few facts to get to know her a bit better before Wednesday’s reading…

Five Facts for your Friday about Valeria Luiselli:

  1. Luiselli was just named one of the “5 under 35” by the National Book Foundation.
  2. She wrote a ballet libretto for the British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, which was performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center in 2010.
  3. She was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Africa, after traveling to India and Western Europe during her life, she now lives in New York City, teaching creative writing at Columbia University and pursuing a PhD in comparative literature. She first learned to speak in Spanish, but she learned to read and write in English.
  4. Faces in the Crowd was started in English and then predominantly written in Spanish, and finally translated back to English. “When I’m working on a book I always write, almost simultaneously, in two languages, and I always read in three or four different languages, until I reach a point where I have to just commit to one language,” Luiselli said.
  5. She writes both fiction and non-fiction, and published two books at one time this year, Faces in the Crowd, a novel, and Sidewalks, a collection of essays.

Bonus Fact: While she was “pregnant and drunk on prenatal hormones,” as she describes it, she planted a tree in Mexico City next to a historic building, a tree that will grow to be huge. The two can’t coexist, so she’s convinced that if the tree keeps growing, and she is found out, she’ll be “imprisoned for harming the Mexican architectural patrimony.”

Be sure to stop by the Gage Gallery this Wednesday, October 15 at 5 pm for the reading, refreshments being served at 4:30 pm.

Facts complied from interviews found on:

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Five Facts about Salvador Plascencia

Salvador Plascencia is reading at the Gage Gallery on Monday, September 29 at 5:00 pm, and we’re very excited, so we’ve compiled a quick fact sheet to help you get to know Mr. Plascencia a little bit better:

Five Facts for your Friday about Salvador Plascencia

1. Guadalajara, Mexico was his hometown but he now lives in Los Angeles, California. He has said that as long as he is writing he will be in Los Angeles.

2. George Saunders was his mentor.
George Saunders was his teacher and mentor at Syracuse University where he received his MFA. Plascencia credits much of his unique character development to Saunders.
“He’s my teacher. I can’t say anything better than him. It’s the sophistication of not having a type of character but a really well-rounded, tough, shy, aggressive — everything that’s possible in a single character in a multi-dimensionality. That was the big George lesson. You don’t need to put up these characters that are archetypes. You need to break them down.”

3. Some readers thought he had included a code in his table of contents. He didn’t.
In People of Paper, the table of contents has various numbers of dots next to the chapter numbers. After publication many speculated that in true meta-fiction experimental fashion, it was a code. It was not. The dots signify the number of narrators in the chapter.

4. McSweeney’s published People of Paper in 2005 after rejections from most of the other major publishing houses.
Plascencia said that all the other major publishing houses rejected his book because they were afraid it wouldn’t sell. “What’s strange is that the companies that have the resources to take the risks don’t take them. Those who take them are some little independent like McSweeney’s. They take something on when they have very few resources.”

5. El Monte, one of the settings in People of Paper, was supposed to read like a love story to his hometown.
“Growing up, I loved my neighborhood, I loved my friends, I loved the community, and in a way I wanted to pay tribute to that, to El Monte. In a way it was always seen. It was on Cops a lot, it was a James Ellroy crime novel, but that wasn’t my El Monte.”

Bonus Fact: Check out the acknowledgements page at the end of People of Paper for a special thank you to someone important to the Roosevelt MFA Department.

Be sure to stop by Monday, September 29 at the Gage Gallery, 18 Michigan Avenue, refreshments being served at 4:30 pm, reading will begin at 5:00 pm.

These quotes came from a Bookslut Interview June 2006 by Angela Stubbs

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Don’t forget, you still have 6 days to submit your work for Oyez Review 42! Hurry!


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Roosevelt’s Reading Series for Fall is announced!

The seasons are changing, and one of our favorite things about Fall is the kick-off of the Roosevelt Reading Series! Each year the MFA program brings in writers that we feel are making a difference in the literary world. The series showcases authors reading their work in a relaxed environment for the public to meet some literary notables. The reading series has delivered, once again, a great lineup:

Salvador Plascencia, novelist, September 29
Salvador Plascencia was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He graduated with his MFA in fiction from Syracuse University. The recipient of a National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts Award in Fiction in 1996 and the Peter Neagoe Prize for Fiction in 2000. In 2001 he was awarded the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, its first fellow in fiction. His first published fiction appeared McSweeney’s Issue 12. McSweeney’s also published his first novel, People of Paper, in 2005. He now resides in Los Angeles, California.

Valeria Luiselli, novelist and essayist, October 15
Valeria Luiselli was born in Mexico City and grew up in South Africa. Her novels and essays have been translated into many languages and her work has appeared in publications including the New York Times, Granta, and McSweeney’s. Some of her recent projects include a ballet libretto for the choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, performed by the New York City Ballet in Lincoln Center in 2010; a pedestrian sound installation for the Serpentine Gallery in London; and a novella in installments for workers in a juice factory in Mexico. She lives in New York City.This event is presented in conjunction with MAKE Literary Productions’s Lit & Luz Festival.

Lori Rader-Day, novelist, November 4
Lori Rader-Day is a graduate of the Roosevelt University MFA program and is the author of the mystery The Black Hour (Seventh Street Books, 2014). She was born and raised in central Indiana, and now lives in Chicago. Her fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, The Madison Review, and others.

Tim Kinsella, novelist and featherproof books editor, November 18
Tim Kinsella has an MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. His first novel, The Karaoke Singer’s Guide to Self-Defense was published in 2011. He also is the CEO of featherproof books, which is an independent book publisher housed at Roosevelt University.

MFA Fall Graduates, December 1
Roosevelt University’s Fall MFA graduates will read from their works in celebration of their commencement.

The readings are held at The Gage Gallery at 18 S. Michigan Ave. and are free and open to the public. Readings are from 5:00-6:00 p.m., and refreshments begin at 4:30 p.m.

This semester we’re also excited that Roosevelt’s St. Clair Drake Center is hosting the essayist Ta-Nahisi Coates, October 9. Ta-Nehisi Coates is the senior editor and writer for the Atlantic and journalist-in-residence, School of Journalism, City University of New York, will discuss “The Case for Reparations.” Coates has been called “the young James Joyce of the hip hop generation.” The free event will begin at 5 p.m. in the Auditorium Library.

Stay tuned for more updates on the writers before their readings, and for other great opportunities we find around campus and around town.

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Submissions Now Open!

Readers and Writers:

Submissions are now open for Vol. 42 of Oyez Review, which will be published early in 2015. We’re seeking original, unpublished work: Literary fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, and artwork.

Our Submittable page is here. Our complete submission guidelines can be found here.

Happy writing, y’all. Let’s do this.

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The Beauty of the Byline

Our humble little blog rolls along…

Today, Oyez Review reader/editor Phyllis Lodge offers notes about bylines and publishing.

You recently completed a piece of creative nonfiction, poetry, fiction, or artwork that you’d love to showcase. You do some online research and browse through various literary marketplaces.

One way your creative spark is fanned into a flame is through readers. You’ve been published, or you want to be published. Identifying quality reviews and journals, places that are proper fits for your work, is the ticket. For the writers who travel through the self-publishing route, you’re paying for readership. That’s fine in some cases. Yet you may soon discover this option is painstaking and frustrating. Yes, you can pay organizations to print and bind your work. Or, you can keep honing your craft and find the right editor and publisher to give you a home. There are editors and publishers seeking you, the artist, as eagerly as you’re seeking them. If what you have produced is unique, well-written, and captivating, a journal will want to showcase you. This is a point of pride for the editors of Oyez Review.

Oyez Review is gearing up for its newest submission period (starting August 1st). Seek out our guidelines. Whichever journal or periodical you consider demands that you adhere and read their guidelines. By not doing this, you’re all but assuring that your work won’t be accepted. We love submissions, but we’re no exception to this rule.

You want to have your work out there in the world. You want the beauty of the byline. Keep reading, keep editing, keep crafting, and perhaps Oyez Review can be your future home.

Phyllis Lodge is an MFA Candidate at Roosevelt University, and served as an editor/reader for Oyez Review 41.

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Terrible Cover Letters: A List of Do’s and Don’ts

You may glance at this title and think “C’mon, really? With writing, editing, reading, submitting, and so on, what’s the big deal about a cover letter?” Brendan Delaney is back to provide some sound advice. Cover letters matter. Seriously, take heed. 

 1.) Don’t make your bio a lyrical essay. If you’ve never been published before, just tell us. 

2.) Do address a specific editor if you haven’t met him/her in person and have been encouraged to submit. 

3.) Don’t include bumper sticker slogans like “Art isn’t competition.” We’ve seen them all. Everyone’s seen them all. 

4.) Do provide ALL relevant contact information. This includes your full name, address, telephone number, and e-mail address. We would like to reach you as soon as we accept your piece. Having this information up front makes it easier for everyone. You want to be notified ASAP, right? 

5.) Don’t use first-person in your bio. 

6.) Do use first-person in your cover letter, though. “Brendan is very excited to submit to your magazine” just sounds weird. 

7.) Don’t skip the cover letter. C’mon now. 

8.) Don’t use double negatives in your cover letter. If we’re judging your grammar in your letter, we won’t have high hopes for your actual submission.

9.) Don’t list every single publication you’ve had. Do tell us the main journals you’ve been featured in, though, or the ones you’re most proud of, or your most recent ones. 

10.) Don’t write your cover letter by hand on personalized stationary if you’re submitting via snail mail. We appreciate lovely handwriting and cat-themed letterheads, but be professional. Type. 

11.) Don’t describe your work as “anything-esque.” We all have our inspirations. But we want to read your work for what it is, and we won’t be swayed if it’s “Bukowski-esque” or “Alice Munroe-esque.” Let us be the judge. 

12.) In fact, don’t describe your work at all. We’re writers. We’re readers. Trust us to figure out what your work is doing.

13.) Don’t include blurbs about your work from other writers. Even if it’s Stephen King. 

14.) Do submit your work early and often, and if you are rejected, remember that tastes differ. A different set of eyes at a different publication may see your work in ways we don’t. Everyone is human, and tastes aren’t uniform throughout the literary world. 

Brendan Delaney is an MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at Roosevelt University. He served as a reader/editor for Issue 41 of Oyez Review, and will serve as the student editor/intern this fall for Issue 42. 

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The New Angst

Today, Oyez Review 41 reader/forthcoming fall intern Brendan Delaney explores common tropes in submissions and how to make one’s polished work stand out. Brendan will have another post here next week; stay tuned.

A staggering number of submissions use technology as a casual theme for a loss of humanity. “Technology is killing us” is a new trope. Of course, there are valuable things to be said about disillusionment and depression related to an ultra-connected digital culture, but creative works that have substance and subtlety on this topic are harder to find. We pride ourselves as editors to look dispassionately and wholeheartedly at an individual poem or story, yet we read hundreds of pieces in a very short time, and it’s impossible not to be affected by the sheer volume of what we read.

So when the first twenty poems I review are all about how no one goes to the library anymore and kids would rather fiddle with video games than play outside, my reaction becomes “so what?” I become hostile to the work I’m reading. We all know it’s important to set yourself apart in language and structure in whatever creative piece you’re submitting. It’s even more important to have something unique to say. Think about your topics. No, really think about it. Too often, creative works feature surface-level meditations on given subjects.

We crave submissions with fresh perspectives. Write a poem about a couple at a romantic dinner, their faces buried in their phones, not talking to each other or making any eye contact. Instead of leaving it at this voyeuristic perspective, take the reader closer. Show the couple texting each other from across the table, a private language that connects rather than alienates. It is this last part, where technology and humanity are complicated by their relationship, and harsh conclusions are not drawn. Don’t be afraid to be funny, wacky, or happy in your submissions. I would jump out of my chair if I read a polished work about the positive effects of technology and our connected culture.

Literary journals like Oyez Review need and want to stand out. There are many ways in which we strive to do this, but the biggest factor is unique content. Most submissions seem to be about depression and angst. If you want to stand out, dare your work to smile.

Brendan Delaney is an MFA Candidate in Creative Writing at Roosevelt University. He served as a reader/editor for Issue 41 of Oyez Review, and will serve as the student editor/intern this fall for Issue 42. He hails from Baltimore, loves basketball, and appreciates a rousing discourse about Jimmy Butler’s defense.


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