see them flinging out the banner

Two highlights, lately ...
1} Having my book short-listed for the ReLit Awards (people like me don't win things like this, but it's nice to make the last heat) and

2} coming home from holidays (and no internet access) to see my essay Bike Chain in the new (online) issue of Knee-Jerk. I need a new author photo though ... in that one I look like I just woke up.

* * * * *

At the same time, I still get to trade in all sorts of grubby low notes, such as these with the editor of the Portland Review:
From: DJ Berger
To: Sarah Marshall

Hi Sarah,

Back in May 2010 I received the following ...

> From: "Editor, Portland Review"
> Date: Wednesday, May 12, 2010 6:26 pm
> Subject: Re: Your Submission to Portland Review

> Dear DJ Berger,
> We enjoyed and would like to include your piece "The Roof" in
> the upcoming issue of *Portland Review*. If it still available, please send
> an electronic copy in response to this email*, *along with a very short (100-
> word max) bio. We apologize for the excruciating wait, we've been spending
> too much of our time fighting budget cuts, etc.* *
> Attached is the letter we normally send back with the SASE. Feel
> free to sign it and send back a scan of it (or use e-signature).
> Chris Cottrell
> Editor, Portland Review
> 503-725-4533
> PO BOX 347
> Portland, OR
> 97207-0347

I subsequently signed the contract, returned it, and sent along the story text and bio.

Then I heard nothing. For a year.

Would you please tell me if this story was published or not?

Thank you.


From: Sarah Marshall
To: DJ Berger

Hi DJ,

Please accept my apologies for this. The Portland Review is run on a more or less ridiculous system that gives it a new editor-in-chief every year or so, so the editor-in-chief who accepted your piece left his position immediately afterwards. It was then taken over by Jackie Treiber, and I just took over five days ago. I'm currently in the process of figuring out all these niggling little remainders left over by my predecessors, so I'm glad you contacted me about this. (In the future, however, I'd prefer it if you send an email to the portland review gmail account, since unlike my predecessors I plan on actually answering all the emails I receive.) Please send your piece to us and I'll take a look at it as soon as possible, and get back to you within the week.


From: DJ Berger
To: Sarah Marshall
Date: Tuesday, 21/06/2011

Hi Sarah,

I understand. I just need to know ... something. Especially since it's been accepted by your magazine once already.

I'm attaching the same piece, called 'The Roof', as a pdf.

The accompanying illustration is my own.

Thanks for addressing this.


and then ... silencio. No word. That one week turning into ten.

So, to recap: I submitted a story, it was accepted, I fulfilled all further requests (digital text, bio, contract, etc), but it was never printed (to my knowledge), and I was never told why, so I asked about it, and I was given assurances, and those assurances turned out to be crap.

And I'm done fucking around. I mean, come on. I understand that publishing is a tough racket and writers have all the bargaining power (and sympathy) of Christians in the Colosseum but ... come on. We had a fucking contract. After that there's only one question: either you exist or you don't.


  1. Oooh, that's crappy, man. No good. I will send positive energy your way in regards to your submission and resubmission. Shame on them. You should email that person a link to this blog, and title the email "For your perusal, in case you still are checking your emails". Maybe that would get some response!

  2. Oh yeah, and congratulations on the other two things.... that is GREAT!

  3. You gotta forget Sarah Marshall DJB


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