Breath & Shadow
A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature
We are always looking for submissions! Please thoroughly read our "Submission Guidelines" below. If you have further questions, you may e-mail the Editor in Chief at BreathandShadow@gmail.com.
Breath & Shadow accepts work only from people with disabilities. We use the term "disability" broadly to encompass anyone with a physical, mental, emotional, cognitive, or sensory impairment that significantly affects one or more major life functions.
We know that friends, family members, and care providers of people with disabilities also have important things to say about their experience of disability. However, Breath & Shadow is a forum for people with disabilities to speak for ourselves. We hope that our allies will support this endeavor.
We strongly encourage writers from Maine to submit. Writing from the other New England states is also especially welcome. While we do invite and accept work from writers from all areas of the United States and internationally, authors from Maine and New England get first priority.
We accept writing from people of all ages, from children to seniors. We especially encourage youth to submit their work to Breath & Shadow. Young writers (21 and under) should include their age on their submission so we can judge their contribution appropriately. In some cases, mentoring and/or writing and editing assistance may be available to young writers.
Breath & Shadow needs your writing! Please note: We accept writing on any topic for poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, and drama; these pieces do not have to be "about" disability. However nonfiction, academic, and similar articles (profiles, interviews, opinion pieces) do have to relate to disability in some way.
Breath & Shadow seeks writing in the categories listed below. For all forms, please see the sections on "Notes and Tips," "Manuscript Preparation," "How to Send Your Work to Breath & Shadow," and "Timelines, Compensation, and Contracts" for further details.
Poetry: Any style, any subject matter. Traditional forms (couplets, sestinas, villanelles, haiku, sonnets) are welcomed, as are open, contemporary, or nontraditional forms (including rap and slam). Maximum of three poems per submission or up to 200 lines.
Starting in 2013, in addition to written work, poets may also
submit audio/video links to performances of their work. Youtube
and Soundcloud are preferred services, although we are open to other
Fiction: Any genre, any subject matter, including, but not limited to, "non-genre"/realism, magical realism, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, slipstream, suspense, experimental, and humor. 3000-word maximum.
Creative Nonfiction: Any subject matter, any style. Can include personal essays or memoirs on specific moments or issues in the author's life. A 3000-word maximum is encouraged, although outstanding longer pieces (up to 5000 words) may be considered.
Drama: Any topic or style, from absurdist to realist to whodunit. One-person shows and performance art also accepted. 3000 words maximum, but shorter is better. You may send a ten-minute play, a monologue, or an excerpt from a full-length play. If you are submitting an excerpt, such as a set of scenes from a two-act play, please include material that sets up the segment, such as the cast of characters and set, or a synopsis of action up to that point.
Nonfiction: The nonfiction category is wide open. We are especially seeking
• interviews or profiles of artists or writers with disabilities, leaders in the disability rights movement, or other individuals or organizations relevant to disability culture;
• reviews of books, performances, art installations, or other art and culture venues relating to people with disabilities;
• insightful commentary on trends or issues facing the disability community, including discussions of disability culture and disability studies, or how mainstream/nondisabled culture portrays or affects people with disabilities. A 3000-word maximum is encouraged, although longer pieces (up to 5000 words) will be considered. If you have an idea for a nonfiction article, we encourage you to query us before you write it.
Notes and Tips
• Keep in mind our name and focus: breath and shadow. We're particularly seeking work that speaks to living, beingness, inspiration, imagination, spirit, expiration, endings, movement of time, shadow sides, hiddenness, mystery, darkness, and casting new light on your subject.
• Send us material that is not appearing in nondisability and/or ableist culture. We love poetry, fiction, drama, and creative nonfiction that explores some aspect of the disability experience that is ignored by the mainstream.
• If your work is angry, hilarious, thought-provoking, offbeat, sensuous, revealing, luscious, controversial, poignant, insightful, sexy, quirky, or confounding, we want to see it. We want poetry that engages our emotions, fiction with memorable characters, drama that is surprising, and articles that engage our intellects. For Breath & Shadow, no subjects are taboo; no topic is off-limits (except those discussed below).
• Breath & Shadow will not publish any work that we deem ableist, sexist, racist, classist, ageist, sizeist, heterosexist, transphobic, exploitative of children, or in any other way exploitative, prejudiced, or offensive to specific groups of people, including slurs based on national origin or religion.
• Here are some other forms of writing we are not likely to publish:
- Stories of "inspiration" that focus primarily on people "overcoming" their disabilities or showing "courage" simply by existing with their disability.
- Singsongy rhyming "Hallmark-card"-like poems, or sugary poems or stories with obvious "morals."
- Medical articles.
- Stories about cures or miracle treatments.
Timelines, Compensation, and Contracts
• Please remember that we receive more submissions than we can publish. And not every piece of writing — even very good work — will be right for Breath & Shadow. If your work is not accepted the first time, don't give up. Keep writing! And try again.
• We will try to get back to you as soon as possible, however, we ask for your patience. We are busy and disabled, too. Please allow up to three or more months for a response. We regret that we cannot provide feedback or editorial suggestions on work we do not accept.
• Payment is upon publication. The pay scale is $5 - $15 for poetry, $15 - $25 for fiction, and $15 - $25 for nonfiction. In the future, as the journal grows, we hope to be able to pay more. In addition to publication and payment, Breath & Shadow will post links to contributors' work on other sites and to their Web site or e-mail address.
• Once your work has been accepted, we will e-mail you a contract for you to sign and mail back. Breath & Shadow asks for nonexclusive rights for one-time electronic publication and ongoing electronic archival publication.
• Please edit, spell-check, and proofread your manuscript as thoroughly as possible before you send it. (If this is not your strong point, find a friend to help.) You might also want to check out our Style Sheet by clicking here. If your work has tremendous promise, great appeal, or showcases an underrepresented viewpoint — especially for new writers and youth — we may be willing to work with you to get your piece up to publishable standards. However, our time and energy is limited, so we cannot promise this for most submissions.
• Please send only finished work — this means final drafts. Do not send first or second drafts. Wait to send your submission until you have worked on it and are sure it is as good as it can be. After you have sent a submission, do not send a revision or a "new, proofread" version of the same submission. We receive hundreds of submissions and we cannot keep track of more than one copy of a given piece. Subsequent copies of the same revision will be deleted. If we want a revision of your work, we will ask you for it.
• Fiction, poetry, and drama submissions do not have to specifically mention or be "about" disability; we believe that the author's experience of disability — her/his "disability sensibility" — will come through in the work, regardless of its subject. This is also true for certain types of creative nonfiction. Obviously, for commentary, reviews, interviews, and the like, the disability angle is central.
• We encourage submissions of original (new) material. However, outstanding previously published work is accepted. If you submit a piece that's been published before, please indicate the name and date of its first publication and that you are the copyright owner. Simultaneously submitted work is not accepted.
How to Send Your Work to Breath & Shadow
• All submissions should be sent to email@example.com.
• Copy and PASTE your submission into the BODY (message part) of the e-mail. Attachments will NOT be read.
• Send only one submission per e-mail, except in the case of poetry. (For poetry, paste up to 3 poems in the same e-mail; make sure that they each have a title and are obviously separated from each other. PLEASE USE asterisks or some sort of break between poems as it would be extremely helpful for the editors.)
• In the subject line of your e-mail, write "Submission," then your name, the type of submission (poetry, short story, book review, etc.), and the title of the work. For example: Submission, Joe Writer, humor essay, "Ostomy Etiquette." For poetry submissions simply list the number of poems you are sending, not their titles. Example: Submission, Josephine Poetess, poems, 3.
• In addition to your story, article, or poem, please include the following in your e-mail:
- your name;
- the nature of your disability (You don't have to go into detail, although you can if you want. Primarily we want to know that you identify as having a disability and, if you're comfortable, what sort of disability you have, e.g., blindness, CP, CFIDS, schizophrenia, Deaf, cognitive/brain injury, etc.);
- a back-up e-mail address (if you have one);
- your phone number;
- your mailing address;
- if you are 21 or under, tell us your age;
- a biography of 30-50 words. This is anything you want readers to know about you and may include previous publications, your Web sites, and your e-mail address. If your manuscript does not discuss your disability, please indicate something about your disability in your bio.
• Rules for formatting your submission. If you are sending by AOL, simply format as you normally would, with bold, italics, etc. If you are not an AOL member, we STRONGLY PREFER submissions sent in PLAIN TEXT. To indicate formatting use _underlines_ around words to be italicized and *asterisks* around words to be bolded. Single space your manuscript. Please make sure to use double carriage returns between paragraphs or stanzas. If you have other formatting needs, please include an explanatory note in your e-mail. If you absolutely must send your submission in HTML (if your ISP makes it impossible to send text any other way), we will do our best to slog through the electronic noise.
• Writers, go easy on our eyes! Please do not use colored backgrounds or colored text. We prefer basic black-on-white. Also, please do not include any pictures or graphics in your email. We also ask that you use a basic, sans serif font, like Geneva, size 12 or above, and do not use italics, underlining, or bold unless it is a relevant part of your text (for instance, italicizing the title of a book). Submissions that do not follow these guidelines will be returned, unread.
Sample of Manuscript Preparation
(Note: This shows how to format your submission. It is NOT necessarily a suggestion of how or what to write!)
Subject: Submission, Ima Riter, fiction, "Blue Note"
My name is Ima Riter. I heard about Breath & Shadow from the Disability Writer list-serv. My address is 12345 Main St., Ahhtsberg, OH 00010. In addition to the e-mail address above, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-555-0000.
Here is my bio:
Ima Riter is a poet and fiction writer. Her poetry has appeared in _Zow!_, _Crackle_, and _Snappitude_ magazine. This will be her first fiction publication. Ima lives in Arizona with her partner, Jamie, and her goofy assistance dog, Rufus. E-mail her at email@example.com.
My fiction submission, "Blue Note," is below. It has not been previously published.
Walking into the bar, Franc said, "Ow!" He made a mental note to request a softer bar. Then he decided to make a physical note as well. Franc took out the note pad in his pocket. It was blue. He wrote, "softer bar," and put it back in his pocket. That's when he noticed that the pianist was playing red-hot jazz from the movie _Red Hot Potato Salad_.
"Can we get some drinks here?" he bellowed to the waitress. He *hated* slow service. It was almost as bad as hard bars.
"What can I get ya?" the waitress snapped pink chewing gum in Franc's face.
"I'll have a Blue Hawaiian," he mumbled.
The waitress noticed Franc's missing foot. "What happened to your foot?" she said, fascinated.
"I banged it into the bar," Franc growled. "You gotta get a softer bar here. This is ridiculous."
"No, I mean the other one." The waitress stuck her chewing gum behind her ear.
"Oh my God!" Franc shrieked, looking down. "It was there when I left this morning!"
"Yeah, yeah," said the waitress, shuffling off.
Franc smiled to himself as he heard the piano play its last long, blue note.