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The Suisun Valley Review was established as a way for the students of Solano Community College to learn the art and craft of editing a literary journal while putting together their own magazine once a year. Since the first issue was published in 1981, student editors have collaborated on over thirty issues of SVR, carefully selecting the contents from new and established writers from across the U.S. and abroad. The students are also directly involved with creating the overall design aesthetic and narrative of each issue. Each spring, all of their hard work and endless creative energy is repaid with a bound collection of prose and poetry, sold and kept as a testament to sleepless nights.
SVR's 2014 Submission Guidelines

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The votes are in, and we are waist-deep in layout issues. The time has come for conversations of potentially cutting accepted pieces, of what our table of contents will look like, what our acceptance/rejection letters will be.

Friday is our deadline to get our manuscript over to graphics for printing. In a week and a half we should have our book, completed and jacketed. In less than three weeks we will be giving our reading.

We. Are. Close.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There are only a few pieces left to discuss, and then we are on to design and the construction of the guts of the magazine.

This is a good thing, because we have a week and-a-half to put our book together.

At this point, the question arises: will it be possible to count all of the gray hairs that will be created before the end of this?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Winding Up To Wind Down

With five weeks left in the semester, until the SVR reading, things have officially become hectic. Our reading schedule has had the editors pushing through roughly four-hundred pieces in the last two weeks so that they may be voted on and discussed. With many pieces being more than one typed page (not to mention the short fiction, which often runs five + pages), the number of pages we have perused is, conservatively, double the number of submissions.

Not that this is meant to be a complaint - not by any stretch of the imagination. Instead, it is meant to come by way of explanation for the recent and sudden drop-off in entries made to the SVR blog. Pretty much everything we are doing in class is too sensitive to post online (I can't say, today X and XX pieces got in, as there is always a possibility that the piece won't make it into the final book, for a variety of reasons - and I can't very well say Y and Z pieces were rejected either, and while I could say today, seven pieces got in. Such entries would be very boring and short, just as would a slew of updates about how the editors were talking to and interacting with each other twice a week.

That said, all in all, the editors are getting along, and the collective machine has been oiled quite well at this point.

There will definitely be more entries before the end of this semester, and at least one after the end, but there will not be many. Though there are not very many followers (compared to the potential audience this blog is meant to reach, that is) to whom this last message is addressed, it shall stand for posterity, as this is the second year of the SVR blog, and the second year it is falling into the same pitfall here at the end. Perhaps the next editor to take control of the keyboard will be able to glean something from the emerging pattern, and keep history from repeating itself in 2011.

Here's hoping,


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Crunch Time

The SVR class is on spring break, which is now half over. The majority of our reading gets done over these few days, and when we get back we will be waist deep in discussion pretty much for the foreseeable future.

It's the kind of exhilarating stress that makes one understand why we evolved the capacity to stress in the first place.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Discussion: Day One

Our first day of discussion, and already we are at each other's throats like ravenous dogs.

In our first piece up for discussion, editors took a personal stand for and against the poem, as though it were their own. We quickly devolved from an educated, well spoken conversation about the merits of a piece of literature, into something like a barroom conversation after three pitchers of beer.

And yet, this is good. we, as editors, are not here to like each other, or even agree with each other very much (indeed, the slimness of our magazine is a testament to how little we actually will end up agreeing). It is good that we are not shy about speaking to each other, being as frank and honest as possible. With practice will come the deftness and tact necessary to keep feelings from being too hurt or crushed. In the next few weeks thin skins will thicken, and we will fall into a groove that will allow us to move through pieces efficiently and productively.

This level of personal and emotional attachment is what is going to make, always makes, SVR a great magazine. And Kudos to the dissenters who stuck to their guns during our revote – not jumping aboard the bandwagon is the hand-holding company to emotional attachment, the real bastion of individual voice in our (not so) little publishing world.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

SVR Gets A Visitor

Today Stephen D. Gutierrez, the first of our two featured writers came to the campus to give a reading from his new book, Live From Fresno y Los, a collection of short stories. Gutierrez is an award winning writer, and the head of the creative writing department at Cal State East Bay.

He gave a moving reading, choosing a pair of stories that showcased the range of his voice, skill, and vision. The reading was given to a full conference room, which was pleasing to see, as art and literature are not always high on the list of priorities of students here at SCC. I am sure there were a number of people there who had never been to a reading before, who hopefully had their interest piqued by the content of Gutierrez’ work, and who will now at least make an effort to attend readings they hear about – if not going so far as to seek them out.

After the reading, Gutierrez came to the SVR class meeting for some intensive Q&A from our editors. He answered every question openly and honestly, sharing his experiences and (some of) his hardships with us, occasionally cracking an egg over our heads. He gave good advice to those of us who are writers, and it was a good chance for the editors to see a skilled craftsman talk about himself and his work. It provided a glimpse into the seriousness of writing and publishing, the reality of the world we are working in.

Stephen D. Gutierrez

Having someone who is recognized as, indeed, makes his living off that recognition, come sit and talk face to face with us definitely brought home the way what we are doing is important more than just in personal terms of fun or fulfillment or a grade, but to writers who depend on literary magazines for legitimization and validation.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Cover Fiasco #1

This entry is numbered because there will assuredly be more than one cover fiasco.

Today we were trying to narrow down some of our choices/nominations for the cover. There were fourteen separate images nominated as potential cover pieces - far too many to reasonably work with and have productive conversations about.

So, on Monday we decided to go home and rank our top five potential cover images so we could come to a consensus about which images we should be focusing our attention on. If there were any images not previously nominated that we wanted nominated, we were to nominate them via our class wiki by today's class so they could be included in this initial screening (we are nowhere near selecting our cover image - the deadline for cover submissions isn't until next week).

When we got to class, however, there was some confusion about how many were supposed to be ranked, and exactly how the process was going to work. In an attempt to alleviate said confusion, we ended up ranking all fourteen nominations.

Each editor had a list of fourteen titles in front of him or her, with a number corresponding to first choice for cover image, second choice, and so on. We then went down the list of titles and had everyone vote according to their ranking system (i.e. how many people have picture X as their first choice? How many as their second choice? etc.) We then assigned each vote a score acording to its position on our grid (the math was this: the number of votes multiplied by their corresponding rank - so five votes for first choice would result in a total of five points, while two votes for thirteenth place would result in a score of twenty-six). The totals were then added up, tallied like golf scores, with the lowest number representing the most generalized agreement and desirability of the image.

(Here's what all that actually looks like)

But that picture was taken after two hours' (half an hour beyond our class runtime) worth of tallying. We had to recount our votes more times than the 2004 presidential elections. We could not get our numbers to match up. Each row and each column needed to have a number of votes equal to the number of editors present. It seemed an impossible task.

The problem was one of two things: either we, as a class, were not paying attention to what we were doing, and were not voting consistently, or we were giving in to what amounts to peer pressure - no one wants to be a loner; if half the class obviously doesn't like an image as their first or second choice, it becomes hard for some to go against that grain, to put their lonesome hand up in what feels like opposition to the group.

Probably it was a mixture of both.

Any way we look at it though, today was a wonderful learning and growing experience for our editors. It was not in any way productive (the results were figured out by a couple individuals who stayed far beyond our scheduled meet time, and the bulk of the editors do not yet have the results), and that is the reality of working on a magazine.

If we, as a group, are not constantly on the ball, nothing gets done. It is in our hands.
We need to be prepared, every day, to discuss and review everything on the block for the day. We need to be actively interested in the day's proceedings. We are not in a regular classroom, with regular classroom dynamics. We run the class, and if we don't, then we fail.

This was an eye opening day as to how real the situation we are in is, and it was amazing to watch us figure out our errors and begin to correct them. Just thank who or whatever it is you thank in moments like these that fiasco number one happened so early that it did not throw us very far off schedule.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Good Things Happening

A student from the film/tv production class on campus came in today. She is doing a piece on SVR. She shot some photos and video of the class, and then interviewed several of our editors. I am not sure exactly what the project is going to be, but I am excited to see how it turns out.

We will post the final film here as soon as we get a copy.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Warming Up

Today was a continuation of our conversation on craft. We are working through a practice packet of poems selected by the editors, discussing them as if they were actual submissions to the magazine, so when the time comes for us to open envelopes and our email box and begin reviewing in earnest, we are already oiled and functioning, ready to move.

We are picking the process up quickly. For many of the editors this is the first time entering into a critical discussion of a piece of art. It is definitely a challenge (both individual and group) to go from being totally green to being skilled enough (and confident enough in those skills) to make decisions about whether or not a story or poem or image is worthy of publication.

Discussion today was long (we only discussed one poem) and while we struggled a little to find ways to articulate our reasons for our thoughts on the poem as clearly as we were trying to, there were definitely moments when we were speaking to the poem, and that is a beautiful first step.

Our Editors in Discussion:

What’s funny is that this was our first discussion, about a piece not even really up for review, and emotions were welling around the room. We were almost perfectly split between those who were invested in the merits of the piece, and those who thought the merits were outweighed by, let's say, a general looseness to the piece. The Yesses and No’s argued for a good third of our class time, and for a while it actually felt as though the fate of the poem was resting on the outcome of the argument. It was a glimpse of, for those editors who haven’t glimpsed it before, the way we as editors are going to repeatedly turn on and snarl at each other every Monday and Wednesday.

I personally can’t wait for more.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Productivity update #1

Hopefully I'll come up with better titles for these kinds of updates in the future.

Today was very productive. We got the campus fairly well plastered with our call for submission posters. Hopefully the posters (with flier tear-offs so people don't have to even write anything down) will generate a healthy amount of submissions from the community surrounding us. As SVR gains weight and clout, it becomes more important than ever for us to make sure the 'S' in 'SVR' is still submitting.

Beyond posters, we got our on-campus display put up today as well. We actually have a large, prominent display up year-round in the Humanities building, and every year it gets to get torn down and rebuilt to reflect the new editors. It's an interesting tradition, as the end result is often a precursor to the aesthetic of the as yet completely unassembled magazine.

Her's this year's:

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


We got our first run of posters today: excitement.

2010 SVR now has a physical presence beyond the classroom. This week will begin the stapling, thumbtacking, and taping of our marketing campaign. Walls and bulletin boards and window-fronts, here we come.

It's a nice design, too - posted below as a new page element - check it out.

Monday, February 8, 2010

2010: SVR Blog, Year 2

Hello Reader!

This is the blog for the English 58 class at Solano Community College, the class associated with the literary magazine, Suisun Valley Review. The motivation and idea behind it (the blog) is to expose prospective students to the insides of a class meant to expose them to the insides of the publishing world, specifically literary publishing (as is implied, I'm sure, by the term literary magazine).

Entries will probably be a mix of reportage of the progress of the class (both the magazine itself, and the progress of the staff as a group of editors), pictures of us as we work and/or argue, editorial accounts of the cocktail of emotions that must be swallowed at the end of a hard week's voting, as well as updates on deadlines, events, and pretty much anything else we can come up with (within limits of relevance, if not reason).

As for what's occurred so far this year - not much. It is only the third real week, and the editors are still getting to know each other. Most of our concerns have been around establishing voting parameters and getting our advertising up and doing stuff for us. We won't actually begin reviewing submissions for a while yet, so for now we're just wetting the field to keep the dust down later.

Anyways, before I sign off (I promise, here and now, that I won't say "sign off" again this year. Sorry) I'd like to thank all the previous editors of SVR for establishing a quality magazine that carries a real pleasurable heft of responsibility with it from year to year. I would especially like to thank last year, 2009's staff for establishing several precedents (this blog being one of them) which have since turned our little mag into a real presence. So: Thank you all, for leaving lights and a path. 2010 won't disappoint.