Thursday, 8 October 2015

Issue Seven

Issue 7 - October 2015

Cover by Aldrin Barter

Why I Want To Fuck David Cameron by G.A. Rice
The Great Fragmenting by Ewan Morrison
Norfolk and Broads by Mark Piggott
Swastika Boy by Ben Nardolilli
Media and Personal Interests by Ben Nardolilli
Better in the Flesh by Annabel Banks
Outsider by Annabel Banks
Emergency Surgery by Annabel Banks
And His Mouth Is Most Sweet by Jacqueline Stephens
Plastic by Jacqueline Stephens
My Mother Tells Me Of Her Near Death Experience by Jacqueline Stephens
The 7-Day Drug Addict Exercise and Weight Loss Program by Max Mundan
Thundering Down The Isles by Martin Shaw
I Hate Myself and Long For Death by Matthew J. Hall
Bulldog by Catherine Murphy
Sea Front by Joe Hakim
Democracy: a Poem by Anon
A48935CB by Russ Litten
Fourtold Chapter 7 by Ray Hyland

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Einstein's Beach House by Jacob M Appel

Well, here at TLC towers, we are all very proud of Issue 6 and the quality of the brilliantly edgy prose and poetry inside. Many thanks to our contributors for their support and patience (very late, we know!). Without you, The Literary Commune would not exist. Submissions for Issue 7, our anniversary issue, are now open and close on 18th September. As mentioned before, much as we love the submissions we regularly receive from our USA contributors, we would love to read more work from British writers. Get sending!

If you are a fan of the often quite quirky pieces we like to publish in TLC, then I would like to introduce you all to a fantastic book I have recently had the pleasure of reading. Einstein’s Beach House is a fascinating collection of short stories written and put together by renowned and often controversial US writer, physician, lawyer and licensed New York City tour guide, Jacob M Appel.

Einstein’s Beach House, named after one of the stories therein, is a straightforward and highly readable, yet, at the same time, richly complex and extremely clever collection of shorts that stayed with me long after I finished reading. The book’s intense mix of edgy modernity, magical realism, humour and, often, sadness is a prime example of why the short story form should never again be seen as the novel’s poor cousin.

In ‘Paracosmos’, we meet Leslie and Hugh, worried when their daughter, Evie, socially isolated by her unconventional, scientist father, adopts an invisible friend. Determined to persuade their daughter away from her fantasy, the couple soon find themselves drawn into Evie’s world, a whole fantasy family soon becoming a source of escapism for all of them. In ‘Sharing the Hostage’, a 42-year-old enjoying the first stages of a new relationship finds himself involved in a battle between his girlfriend, Maddie, and her ex as they fight over custody of Fred. The twist? Fred is a tortoise, loved and agonised over by his parents as much as any child might be. And, in the heart-breaking ‘The Rod of Asclepius’, 6-year-old Lauren grows up with a father determined to get revenge on the medical team who caused his wife’s death.

My favourite story in the collection, however, has to be ‘La Tristesse des Herissons’ in which we meet a young couple, both emerging from fragmented backgrounds, as they attempt to create the ideal family on which they have both missed out. He wants a dog, she wants a baby, so, in the end, they compromise, adopting a hedgehog whose subsequent battle with depression soon causes substantial cracks to appear in the foundations of this unusual family set-up.

If Raymond Carver and Isabelle Allende had a child, Jacob M Appel could be it. Throw in Franz Kafka, Chekhov and Gabriel Garcia Marquez as influential role models and Einstein’s Beach House is the result. This collection contains the kind of stories that will have most writers thinking 'I wish I could write like this' and, as a writer myself, I will definitely be exploring Appel’s work further. Einstein’s Beach House is available now from Amazon and other stockists. If you love short stories or simply want to improve your own writing, buy it. You won’t regret it.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Issue Six

Issue 6 - August 2015

Cover by Aldrin Barter

A Close Shave for Margaret Thatcher by G.A. Rice
With Relish by Chris Dungey
Gate Money by R.A. Allen
The Fantasy I Should Not Speak Of by Matthew J. Hall
What It Looks Like by Keith Lesmeister
I Can’t Be Held Accountable For the Fucked Up Shit You Do In Your Dreams by Max Mundan
A Horrible Truth by Jessica Klein
Clean by Jessica Klein
Next by Lance Nizami
Cowboys by Lance Nizami
Re: Drinking by Lance Nizami
Elixir by Mark J. Mitchell
Two-Part Invention by Mark J. Mitchell
Angels, Monsters, Superheroes by Andy Tu
Lucky by Jacqueline Grima
Fourtold Chapter 6 by Ray Hyland

Monday, 27 July 2015

Issue 6 Coming Soon! In the Meantime...

With submissions for this period now closed, we have some fantastic short stories and poems to look at this week in anticipation of the release of Issue 6 on 1st August. Some really edgy and very clever stuff submitted this time and this issue is going to be a great read. What we did notice, however, was that, after the success of our ‘Brit Lit’ issue, there was a distinct lack this month of submissions from this side of the Atlantic. More submissions from Brits please!

In the meantime, to keep your writer’s brains occupied in between issues of TLC, we have decided to do some book reviews right here on the blog and we have already got some great reads lined up to recommend!

This week, our friends at Orenda Books will be releasing the Kindle version of the fantastic and beautifully-written How to be Brave, the debut novel of UK-based author and previous winner of the Glass Woman Prize, Louise Beech. Shortlisted for the 2014 Luke Bitmead Bursary, How to be Brave tells the story of Natalie who turns to the magical power of storytelling when her daughter Rose is diagnosed with life-threatening Type-1 diabetes.

Feeling desperate and helpless when Rose pushes her away, Natalie attempts to reach out to her daughter by telling her the story of her grandfather, Colin, who survived 50 days on a lifeboat after his merchant navy ship was bombed in the Second World War. Using her grandfather’s diary as a guide, Natalie immerses herself and her daughter in Colin’s world, the ghostly visions she has of a man in a brown suit becoming more and more real to her as the story progresses. Is Colin helping Natalie and Rose through their time of crisis from beyond the grave?

The Kindle version of How to be Brave is available on Amazon from this Thursday, 30th July and the paperback version will be released in September. Follow Louise Beech on Twitter @Louisewriter.

Next time, I will be looking at a fantastic collection of short stories from one of our friends in the US. Watch this space for more details!

Monday, 6 July 2015

New Member of the TLC Team!

Hi, my name is Jacqui and I wanted to introduce myself as the newest member of The Literary Commune’s editorial team. Over the next few weeks, I will be finding my way around the submissions folder and am very much looking forward to reading some of the great work that you guys have been sending in. I will also be keeping our blog updated so any ideas for interviews or too-good-to-miss writing-related news, leave a comment!

To tell you a bit about myself, I have been writing for a long time and have had my creative work published in Acorn Magazine, on Jacqui Bennett Writer’s Bureau website and on Literally Stories. My unpublished novel Coming Second was shortlisted for the 2014 Luke Bitmead Bursary. I am currently studying for an MA in Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University and also work as Student Editor-in-Chief of the university’s online magazine Humanity Hallows. When not writing, I am a busy mum-of-three and a big music fan.

So, on to TLC business! Our submission window for Issue 6 is open until 18th July so if you have a fantastic story or poem that you’d like us to read for this issue, please send it to asap! Make sure you read our Submissions Policy first to give you an idea of the kind of stuff we like to read. The rules are not set in stone, so if you have a brilliant idea and are not sure if it will suit us, feel free to ask! Once the submission window is closed, we will be in touch and Issue 6 will be published on 1st August.

Also don’t forget you can advertise in TLC for a very reasonable price. So, if you, or anyone you know, has a book, film or music project that the world (or, at least, the TLC community) needs to know about, see our advertising page or drop us a line for more info to

Looking forward to getting to know you all and don't forget to 'like' us on Facebook!

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Submission for Issue 6 are now open

We're looking for submissions for our sixth issue, published on 1 August 2015. There is no "theme" as yet, but we're seeking prose, poetry and articles with a raw, urban theme. Submissions close on 18 July 2015, and we will notify successful contributors shortly afterwards.

Please read our Submissions Policy before submitting work to us. Your piece of work may well be fantastic, but it probably won't be right for The Literary Commune and we'd be unable to publish it.

Thanks in advance for your interest. We're all looking forward to reading your submissions, even the ones we cannot publish.

Shaun M
The Literary Commune

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Issue Five

Issue Five - June 2015

Cover by Aldrin Barter

Our BritLit Special, featuring a full colour cover by Aldrin Barter, though these copies are limited to subscribers and selected outlets.

Televisions in Heaven by Ewan Morrison
Arcadia Planitia by Joe Hakim
Remembrance by Jeremy Young
White Field Green Sheep by Jeremy Young
Funny Money by Thomas McColl
Open Mic by Thomas McColl
Unfolded Tongue by Yuxing Xia
Love Disjointed by J.S. Watts
A Process by Terence Corless
The Siren in the Palace by Terence Corless
Waterlow Sunrise by Mark Piggott
Diversity by Shaun Stafford
Sore Losers by Ian Parris
Julia’s Joy by DJ Tyrer
Wally by Martin Knight
Fourtold Chapter 5 by Ray Hyland
Have Faith … in yourself by Mike Williams

Monday, 1 June 2015

A note about Twitter

We generally post up-to-date information on Twitter, and you might note that we don't seem to follow many people. Mainly, on Twitter we follow authors we've published or are due to publish, and venues/locations/outlets where you can find copies of The Literary Commune. Please don't be offended if you follow us and we don't follow you back. Our Twitter guy, Neil, still reviews the feeds of everyone who follows us on a regular basis, to see what's happening in the wider world of writing. It just makes it easier for us to instantly see tweets from writers we've published and venues who promote us if we don't follow everyone.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Issue 5 murmurs and rumours

Whilst submissions are still open for Issue 5, our BritLit issue, we can confirm some of the headlining writers who will be appearing.

  • Ewan Morrison, Scottish author and screenwriter, has given us "Televisions in Heaven". It made us smile.
  • Mark Piggott, author and journalist, has given us "Waterlow Sunrise", an intriguing short.
  • Martin Knight, British author and co-founder of London Books, gives us "Wally", a typically British short.

As well as these respected writers, we also have confirmed shorts from Joe Hakim, Shaun Stafford and Terence Corless, as well as poetry from Jeremy Young and Thomas McColl, and a closing piece from singer/songwriter Mike Williams. We will also be continuing with Ray Hyland's "Fourtold".

But rest assured, there is still space for further work. Issue 5 will be our biggest yet (60 pages or more), so if you've written poetry or prose, or an article, feel free to send it in to us. Submissions officially close on 18 May.

Want a copy of our BritLit issue? Take a look at our subscriptions page and drop us a line.

Monday, 6 April 2015

Subscriptions and Donations

The Literary Commune is free. We make that clear on the front of each issue. There may come a time when we will seek to charge readers for purchasing our litzine, but at the moment that isn't the case, and even when that does happen, we will endeavour to keep our price low, so that just costs are covered. However, there is a cost in producing the litzine each month. Our altruistic team dig deep into their own pockets to scrape together the paper, the ink, the envelopes and the stamps to ensure that each issue is sent out to all of you lovely readers.

You can help - if you want to. The button below is our "subscription" button. For £12 a year (£25 for non-UK), you can ensure that you get a copy of each issue of The Literary Commune the moment it comes out. If you manage to pick up a copy of TLC from one of our outlets, it will cost you nothing. If you feel you'd like to make a small donation, you can do that. All funds "donated" through our subscription button will be ploughed back into producing our litzine. Paper, it does grow on trees, but it costs money. Toner ink soon runs out. Envelopes and stamps ensure that our litzine remains a paper one, and not something you can only get online. We want to keep the ethos of our litzine alive, and you can help. You can become part of the Commune.

Subscriptions & Donations

Remember, you're not obliged to subscribe, whether you've been receiving copies in the past or whether you've only just asked for a copy. We will still give them away. But we have this dream - a dream where everyone who contributes to The Literary Commune, both writers and readers, has a vested interest in our future.

Whether you choose to subscribe, donate or just be an avid reader and supporter, know that you will always be part of our Commune.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Submissions for Issue 5

The submission window for Issue 5 opened on 1 April, and closes on 18 May. Issue 5 will be our BritLit special, and so we'd particularly like to hear from British writers. However, we will still be able to squeeze in one or two contributions from writers who aren't British. As always with submissions, if we can't get you in this issue, we might want to take your work for a following issue, so keep an eye on your inbox.

We have a better email filing system for submissions now, so everyone will get an acknowledgement that your submission has been received, and we will let everyone know whether or not their work has been accepted. This didn't happen in the past, so apologies to all people who have previously submitted work.

Please read our Submissions Policy before submitting work to us. Your piece of work may well be fantastic, but it probably won't be right for The Literary Commune and we'd be unable to publish it.

Thanks in advance for your interest. We're all looking forward to reading your submissions, even the ones we cannot publish.

Shaun M
The Literary Commune

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Issue Four

Issue Four - April 2015

Cover by Cat Williams

Our US Special, featuring poets and writers mostly from the United States. Issue Four is also the first issue to feature a colour cover, though these are limited to subscribers and selected outlets.

The Need To Know by Fred Russell
Reality’s Graveyard by Fiada Fey
Silent Night  by Thomas Elson
After Bukowski by Mitchell Krockmalnik Grabois
Around The School by Richard King Perkins II
Things the Bent Woman Sees by Richard King Perkins II
Pretty Autumn Sunset by James Croal Jackson
Headache – Internal Bleeding by James Croal Jackson
There Won’t Be Any People in Heaven by Kevin Heaton
Amnesty by Kevin Heaton
The Teacher by Joan McNerney
The History Professor by Joan McNerney
Fourtold chapter 4 by Ray Hyland
You Can’t Miss It by Frederick Pollack
Warp by Frederick Pollack
Pavement by Kenneth P Gurney
There For Me By Paul Lewellan
The Stuff of Fairy Dust by Karen Wright

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Submissions for Issue Four are closed

Submissions for the April issue of The Literary Commune are now closed. Well, they actually closed on the 18th, so apologies for this late notice. 

We've had scores of submissions, mostly from the US (which was a pleasant surprise), so we're intending for Issue Four to have a US-theme. Let's call it our US special. Some have already been selected and the contributors notified, but there is still space in the issue, so we're going through the process of looking at the shortlist. The standard of submissions was very high, so our job is quite difficult. I expect it'll be a few days before we notify contributors one way or the other. We're just sorry that we don't have enough space to publish everything. Some of you may receive an invitation to allow us to keep your work on file, possibly for publication in a future issue of The Literary Commune. If you accept that invitation, you still have the option of submitting your work to other publications in the meantime.

We will endeavour to get copies of Issue Four out to the US as soon as possible, but naturally it will travel by snail-mail, and it may be a few weeks (apparently, according to the Royal Mail website) before it reaches your shores. If any of you know of anywhere that would like to carry a few copies (a bohemian bookshop, for example) get in touch with us, and we'll send a few copies to them.

I have to say that, as editor of The Literary Commune, I'm pleased to see it spread across the water to the US. Of course, we're a UK-based litzine, and we treasure contributions from UK writers, but there are no borders when it comes to literature. We had our Ireland special in Issue Two, which really upped our game, and I'm hoping that our US special will increase interest in TLC.

Submissions for Issue Five open on 1st April and will run through until 18th May. We're particularly keen to hear from British writers, and have ourselves a BritLit special. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Like us on Facebook

If you haven't already, you should pay a visit to our Facebook page (if you're a Facebooker, that is). We like to see who likes us, and it's also the best way to see the most up-to-date information about The Literary Commune.

You can also get involved by sending us a photograph of yourself reading The Literary Commune. And if you're a writer, it would be great to see you holding a copy of the issue your contribution featured in.

Be part of The Literary Commune and show your support.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Interview with Shaun Stafford

Shaun, your short “Incessant” featured in Issue One of TLC, and we had one of your poems, “Mummy, Mummy, Where Are You?” in Issue Two. Where do you get your inspiration from to write such things?

Well, “Incessant” was inspired by my own neighbours and my own frustrations at listening to their incessant and banal attempts to call their cat in. The poem just came to me one morning, about 4am, when I woke from a diabetic hypo. My mind works like that. And those quick-fire inspirations really do work well with short things such as stories and poems.

How would you define your writing style and what genre does it fit into?

I started off writing thrillers, but nothing was successful. My earliest book, “die Stunde X”, is alternative history – it’s my bestseller.  I wrote it in 1994 or 1995. Now, I mainly concentrate on transgressive stuff – people who are not decent members of society. “Besotted” was probably my most controversial book, but “Maggie’s Children” is, I guess, equally as fucked up.

Tell us how you write, how you get focused onto the task.

For “Besotted”, I tried to become Benjamin Beerenwinkel. I don’t mean that I got cancer or that I became fascinated with underaged teenage girls, but I wrote books and I drank alcohol. Lots of things that happen in “Besotted” actually happened to me. The mugging, the bizarre situation of chatting to a pair of transsexuals in a pub (happened to me in my village pub), and one or two of the characters are compounds of people I know.  For “Besotted”, getting drunk was the best way to write. Strangely, when I wrote “Maggie’s Children”, which is about an alcoholic former teacher, I barely drank. I don’t sit down and say, “I’ve got to write 2,000 words” because some nights, some days, that just won’t happen. But I am able to sit down in a pub with my laptop or my pen and notepad, and bang out, say, 5,000 words in a couple of hours when the inspiration gets to me.

What are you working on at the moment?

The problem is, I’ve got so many novels that are perhaps two or three chapters in, I’m not sure which one to focus on. I have one story, “One Eight”, which is a futuristic story about cloning, which I might endeavour to finish in 2015. I will definitely finish the sequel to “Blood Money”. And I always try to knock out a short story every month. Writer’s masturbation. Even if it’s too shit to show anyone, I’ve still written something.

Who is your favourite writer, the one you admire the most, the one who inspired you to be become a writer even?

Chuck Palahniuk inspired me to start writing more transgressive stuff. I wrote “The Journal” after I read “Fight Club”. But I really dig Martin Amis, and obviously Steinbeck and Bukowski. A friend of mine, Tom Gaffigan, advised me to get into Steinbeck (I’m ashamed to say that I wasn’t into him until fairly recently) and the way he dealt with characterisations inspired me when it came to writing “Besotted” and “Maggie’s Children”.  Guilty pleasure is Andy McNab (though I rather think he has a ghost writer), but then there is nothing wrong in having a guilty pleasure. I don’t think any writer inspired me to become a writer myself. But naturally, every book I read and enjoy is an influence and inspiration, and there have undoubtedly been too many to mention here.

Bizarre snap questions time (currently or favourite):-

Currently drinking?  A can of Carling lager.                        
Currently eating?  Pringles – Sour Cream and Onion.
Currently reading?  I’m reading “Of Men and Monsters”, an old sci-fi novel.
Currently listening to?  The Style Council - "Shout To The Top".
Currently driving?  Ha, you taking the piss? The last car I owned was a Saab 93 Aero. I rather suspect I won’t be driving anything that flash when I can drive again.

What do you think of low-budget magazines such as The Literary Commune, and the role they have to play in helping lesser-known writers to get their work “out there”?

Lots of unpublished writers have no audience for their shorts or poems. Yeah, the Kindle means your stuff is “out there” but in some instances, you’ll be lucky to sell a handful of copies of your stuff, mostly to your family and friends. Something like The Literary Commune means that your work gets out there to 100-200 people. And a writer, to be fair, doesn’t care how many people read their stuff, just so long as a handful of strangers do. That’s the key thing. If a stranger reads your stuff and nods his or her head and thinks to themselves, “Yeah, man, I really dig that.”

Any advice or encouragement you would give to other writers, whether their stuff is being read or being hidden away in a bottom drawer somewhere?

Read lots of books. You can’t possibly write unless you enjoy reading. Develop your own style, your own voice. Trust me, you won’t have it when you start writing, but you will once you’ve written a few things. Practice makes perfect. And never, ever, ever give up. If you enjoy writing, trust me, you will, with practice, hone your craft and people will start to enjoy reading your stuff. Oh, and don’t write because you want to be a millionaire. That’s never going to happen. Write because you have to write. Write because it’s in your blood. Write because if you don’t write, you feel that you’re nothing. Take inspiration from everything in life, good and bad. Having one of your characters tell an anecdote, one that’s happened to you or to someone you know, makes them seem more real. And never, ever, ever give up. Oh, I said that already. But yeah, if you enjoy writing, just write, and eventually, get your stuff read by people. Grow a pair of balls and hand your stuff to someone. Someone like The Literary Commune.

Ha, thanks, Shaun. Just don’t write about us in your next book!