Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pushcart Nominations

Dear Friends,

The Normal School is happy to announce our nominees from 2009 for the Pushcart Prize:

"Chicago, 1988" by Beth Ann Fennelly
"Japanese Water Bomb," by Sandra Beasley

"The Accident," by Nick Arvin
"Assignment," by Rachel Cantor

"Where There Are No Doctors," by Jacqueline Lyons
"In Hickey's Havana," by Ben Miller

Please subscribe at or pick up a copy of TNS at your local bookstore (ask them to order it if they don't carry it) and read the pieces from Beasley, Miller, and Cantor. Our latest issue will be out in a few weeks!

Best Wishes,

Barry Normal

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Normal School Is Excited To Announce

The First Annual Normal Prize in Fiction and Nonfiction
Deadline for Submissions: Feb. 12, 2010

Fiction Prize: $1000 & Publication
Nonfiction Prize: $1000 & Publication

Final Judges
Fiction: Margot Livesey
Nonfiction: David Shields

  1. All submissions must be no more than 10,087 words, double-spaced, 12 pt. font, with numbered pages and NO IDENTIFYING INFORMATION ON MANUSCRIPT.
  2. Entry fee: $20 per submission. Checks MUST be made out to "The Normal School."
  3. All submissions must include 2 cover sheets (PLEASE SEE #'s 4 and 5).
  4. 1st cover sheet must include a) Title b) Genre c) Name of author d) 50 word biographical statement e) Mailing address f) Email address
  5. 2nd cover sheet must include a) Title of Work b) Genre *NO OTHER IDENTIFYING INFORMATION CAN APPEAR ON THIS COVER SHEET
  6. All submissions must be previously unpublished (print or electronic media).
  7. Simultaneous submissions ARE allowed as long as you notify editors should your piece be accepted elsewhere. Multiple submissions ARE allowed, but each submission must be accompanied by the entry fee.
  8. Manuscripts will not be returned. Please do not send your only copy. If you want verification that we have received your manuscript, please send a self-addressed, stamped postcard.
  9. All submissions MUST be addressed as follows:
The Normal School
Normal Prize Contest - "Genre"
5245 N. Backer Ave
M/S PB 98
California State University, Fresno
Fresno, CA 93740

All submissions must be postmarked between 12/1/2009 and 2/12/2010.
Please be sure to specify genre on envelope and cover sheet.
All entrants will receive a complimentary issue of The Normal School.
Winners will be announced before the Fall 2010 issue via email.
All entries will be considered for publication.

  • Payment of $20 USD made out to The Normal School.
  • Your manuscript (double-spaced, 12 pt. font, 10,087 words or fewer, and NO IDENTIFYING INFORMATION).
  • 2 cover sheets -- 1st with biography and address, 2nd with title and genre only.
Judging: All submissions will be read "blind" in an effort to ensure the most ethical contest possible. The final judge will not be sent the names of the finalists. Only their manuscripts, without identifying information, will be forwarded. The judge will then select 1 winner and 2-3 finalists in each genre. TNS will publish the contest winner and reserves the right to consider the finalists for publication as well.

In addition to abiding by the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses standards on ethical contests, The Normal School also specifically prohibits submissions from any current or recent students, staff, or faculty of California State University, Fresno. It also expressly prohibits submissions from family members of the outside judges.

If you have questions, please contact us at:

Good luck!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Do you have the write stuff?

Okay. Forgive me for that perfectly predictable pun. But if you write fiction and feel particularly ambitious this fine day, Stanford University is hiring a fiction writer. So, dust off the CV, turn off the Pantera Behind the Music on Youtube, and get your application in by December 4, 2009. For more info--courtesy of Academic Careers Online--here is the listing.

Break a leg!


Friday, November 6, 2009

Sneak Peak: Evolution of a Magazine Cover

Dear Normals,

Many of you have commented on how much you like our covers. Thanks. We like them a lot, too. Each one has been custom created for The Normal School by a different artist . Our Fall issue will be hitting the shelves soon. For a little sneak peak, take a look at the creative process of our latest cover artist, Jason Graham (a former Fresnite who now lives and works in Portland, Oregon). We're very excited to show Jason's work to the Normal masses. If you like what you see, let Jason know and support artists in your community. It matters.

And if you want to see the final cover, subscribe and see the Normal results!

Thanks. -- Barry Wayne Normal

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"You don't actually read these, do you?"

This is an actual, hand-written comment we found on an author's cover letter last week. To be fair, we're going to assume the author meant, "You don't actually read [cover letters], do you?" Not, "You don't actually read these [stories, essays, poems], do you?" Because the latter would be utterly ridiculous.

So, to answer this bold question quite honestly -- no. And yes. Yes and no. We read them AFTER deciding whether or not we like a piece, and we'll admit that a small fraction of our decision is based on the contents of the cover letter. Say, 1/200%. The other 99 199/200% is based on the writing. So, if you're not very good at math, you might think that cover letters are really important. And if you are good at math, include them anyway. We don't want to hear about the litter of kittens your Tabby just gave birth to, but we wouldn't mind seeing where you've been published (if you've been published) and whether or not it's a simultaneous submission.

Will we think less of you for addressing your cover letter to the generic "Fiction Editor" or "Poetry Editor"? No. Will we think you're kissing up if you address it to Steven Church, Alex Espinoza or Connie Hales? No. (Although we like kiss-ups.)

In short: Yes, include a cover letter. No, it's not going to make any difference as to whether or not we like your manuscript. Yes, we like kiss-ups. Does that help?

If you want any additional logistical info as to what to include, you might want to check out's "Cover Letter Advice." Thanks, We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Happy submitting!