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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

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Salute to SVR

The magazine is complete. That means it’s time for me to get really sentimental and teary-eyed.

The release reading was a happy success! We were pleased to welcome several of our authors, such as Laura Oliver, Ashleigh Cowan, and Nicholas Cittadino (a counselor at Solano Community College!). And we were also happy to meet the artist of the image we chose as our cover, Rita Okusako!

You all had the opportunity to see the cover (in very tiny form) on the SVR release reading poster, but here it is in all its glory:

Before I end my last blog (sniff) I would like to extend a few thanks. Firstly, thank you to everyone who has been following along with our adventure via this blog, and put up with my jokes both good and bad. 

I would also like to thank all of those who worked so diligently on this magazine all semester long—including our editors, our advisor, our school’s graphics department, and the Sacramento-based binder that put together the pieces with such great care. (As well as many others that I'm sure I have neglected—when you're but one cog, it's hard to see the whole machine!) 

And I would lastly (but not leastly!) would like to extend a thank-you to everyone who submitted: we would not have a magazine without you.

The End

Friday, May 11, 2012

It's Almost Here!

Yes, one week from today we will be releasing the 29th issue of the Suisun Valley Review! It will be available for all to buy and read beginning at 2 o'clock next Friday (the 18th) at our release reading. I've been dropping regular hints about this reading over the last month or two, and even in its planning stages it's starting to look spectacular.

We have a good number of poems and stories to be read by a variety of people. Some will be read by our very own editors, but many will likely be read by their writers! Other things to look forward to are: the winner and honorable mention of the Quinton Duval Award in Creative Writing will be announced; Patricia Killelea will be joining us again, and will be reading poetry featured in this issue; and of course, the delicious, home-baked cookies!

On behalf of all the editors of the Suisun Valley Review, we hope to see you all there!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Burning the Midnight Oil

So to speak. Huge leaps have been made this week—all decisions were made regarding submissions, the narrative was decided, and now all that’s left are the millions of little tweaks and fine-tuning.

But these things take a lot of energy—and time. Our editors have to keep up with the fast pace of this class in addition to their other classes—and the pace of this week alone has been dizzying! A lot of time was spent on the narrative (i.e., the order all the pieces in the magazine go in); this was an interesting process that took a lot of time because there was a lot more to it than sticking any ole piece anywhere (my personal, very incorrect impression of ordering poems/stories in books or magazines prior to taking this class). But it’s not that we haven’t been putting in these kind of hours all along; it’s just that now it’s far more condensed, since it's our turn to be “down to the wire." The magazine needs to be out to print very soon!

We can’t rest there, though. After the manuscript goes to print, we need to organize the release event, a special release reading held on May 18, 2012 from 2-4pm. The authors and poets published in this year’s edition of the Suisun Valley Review have been invited to read their works. There will be a booth where you can purchase SVR No. 29 and a booth for—yes, I was telling the truth in an earlier post—cookies. (I’ve seen the current sign-ups for cookie baking. Come for SVR, stay for the cookies, because they will be amazing!)

Friday, April 27, 2012

“Even a Word Has a Story”

On Tuesday, Solano Community College was pleased to welcome Patricia Killelea. Ms. Killelea is a former Solano student who is also our poet feature for the 2012 edition of the Suisun Valley Review. It’s more of a homecoming than anything, really; not only is she a former student, but she has also been published in the Suisun Valley Review before!

For the first half of the hour, Killelea read to us from her book of poems: “Other Suns.” A Native American Studies doctoral student, Killelea incorporates Native American mythology and imagery in many of her poems, such as in “Report: Police Shoot Baby Deer in Oakland for No Reason.” (We were also treated to “Long Blue Coat,” which was the poem published in the Suisun Valley Review.) Her poems are also influenced by the natural world, particularly the marshes of northern California. When she reads aloud, she is so passionate that her shoulders rock with the words, punctuating phrases.

After the reading, she answered questions and spoke to many qualities of poetry. One of the most important qualities is sound: Killelea says, “Poems weren’t meant to be on paper,” for they began only as the spoken word, long before language was written. While she stresses that sound is not more important than the subject matter, it is a very important part of her poetry, and can even become the subject matter in some cases.

Killelea prefers writing poetry over writing fiction prose; she feels more comfortable in this condensed form. But she doesn’t feel far from stories, because poems have stories just as prose does. She told us, “Even a word has a story.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Great Split

I am of the opinion that half of us SVR editors live in Japan, and half of us live in France. (Actually, we’re all living in California, but metaphorically speaking, when it comes to what we perceive to be great literature, we’re on different continents.)

To date, we have voted on several packets, and the number of pieces that are most likely going into the magazine are currently, well, three. The number of pieces that might go into the magazine are around a dozen. The number of pieces we have rejected are significantly and apologetically larger. Even though we have still a great many more submissions to review, we don’t appear to be agreeing on very much. So, what do we do?

When we vote for pieces to go into the magazine, we inevitably end up with three categories: “yes” pieces, “maybe” pieces, and our least-favorite category, “no” pieces. If we don’t have enough “yes” pieces, we will dip into the “maybe” category, considering first the pieces with the highest number of yes votes. SVR editors have never before needed to do this—this might be our first year!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

From the Horse's Mouth

Yes, that is the sound of tumbleweed you hear. There's not much to report, because we're students as well as editors - and it's spring break. No classes, nothing new, nothing to report. Just the reading, which is fun for us, but boring for you to hear about.

So in anticipation of this most potentially-boring blog week, we decided to prepare a few lines. I asked a few of my fellow editors to pen, type, carve, or stamp a few words about what being an editor, being a part of the magazine and this whole process, is like for them. Here's what they came up with:

I feel like a judge from American Idol. If Randy and Simon had a bastard child, I would be that child.

I'm a wine-and-dine sort of editor. You've gotta take me to dinner, feed me, make me laugh—you know. Basics.

As a past Editor of the Suisun Valley Review, I feel as though I have learned not only about being an editor, but also how to communicate ideas effectively and evaluate literary craft in a way that can only be supported through this classroom model. It's all about learning what it means to take on the role and responsibilities of an editor because the students are publishing a real magazine by the end of Spring.

Being a part of SVR has introduced me to a wonderful world of literature that I never knew about and never want to leave.

Five truths: it's hard; it's easy; it's fun; it's humbling; it's one of the coolest things I've ever done. But one thing is certain: the editing process, for me, with this magazine, will never be frightfully devoid of chocolate. Or good poems. And that's pretty cool.

As a writer, it is really interesting and beneficial to see how work is received by the editors. I have learned as an editor to be critical of each piece while still being able to appreciate it, and I've found that balance to be quite delicate. I have also been floored by the quality of the work that has been submitted to our magazine and I have fallen in love with a few pieces already.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Progress on the Cover Front

You’ve already heard that we were working on our internal layout some weeks ago. Well, the truth is, we couldn’t do much more on that front until we took a huge step with the cover layout. This week, we took that step:

The 2012 Suisun Valley Review has a cover image!

There’s still a lot to do before our cover will be ready for print, but this was the biggest job to do. And what a chore it was! We got so many great art submissions this season. We made a dozen cover mocks or so, of several different images, but we could only choose one. Our cover image choices ranged from silly and whimsical to elegant and majestic.

Once we got all the most popular choices together, we had to sit down and vote. We voted once to get our top five, a second time to get our top three, and a third time to get our top one.

What was our top one?

You’ll have to wait until the magazine is published!

(Oooh, I hate cliffhangers, too! Sorry, folks.)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Down to the Wire

This has been another exciting week! On Tuesday, Solano Community College welcomed Clive Rosengren. He read to us from his new book, Murder Unscripted, and took questions afterwards; in doing so, he shared some interesting insights. He lauded writing groups, saying that they’re good pressure to keep you going, and they catch typos. Rosengren himself is a member of a writing group he dubbed the “Monday Mayhem.”

Further along in the hour, Rosengren discussed some parallels he found between acting and writing. What do the two have in common? Instinct. He also shared that he writes cinematically: he likes to form pictures in his mind as he writes; he wants to visualize things as they unfold.

And of course, the other exciting aspect of this week is that it’s been the last week for submissions! We will be accepting submissions until tomorrow at midnight. (You should know I'm working very hard to bite back a coach-to-pumpkin joke.) And so, as we’re down to the wire (for submissions, at least—we’ve still got over a month to go for the magazine to be finished!), I present to you my top three reasons why you should submit before the photo finish:

1. You have nothing to lose! Submission is free. And if you’re accepted, you’ll receive two free contributor’s copies of the Suisun Valley Review.
2. There’s a really cool release reading at the end of all this. If you’re accepted, you’re invited to read your work aloud at this awesome reading. And if you’re not accepted, you’re still invited!
3. Getting tired of my maddening puns? Write something funny and submit it. Show me what real humor’s all about!

Thank you to everyone who has already submitted!

(P.S.: I’m not kidding about how cool that release reading is. There will be cookies. Delicious, home-baked cookies. It's an SVR tradition that the editors bake for the occasion.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Super Features

It’s a bird, it’s a plane—(it’s way too cheesy?)

This is probably the most exciting week we’ve had thus far (and the ante is only going up from here!). Each year, we have a featured author or poet who graciously does an interview with us; we publish both the interview and an original work or works from the author/poet in the Suisun Valley Review.

This week, we finalized the plans for Mr. Clive Rosengren to visit. A mystery author and established actor, Rosengren will be at Solano Community College next week, on March 27, 2012, from 12:30 to 1:30. We’re really looking forward to meeting him and hearing what he has to say about his latest book, Murder Unscripted, writing, publishing, and anything in-between.

In April, we also hope to meet our second feature for the spring 2012 issue, Ms. Patricia Killelea. Killelea is a poet who graduated from our very own Solano Community College once upon a time. She has a volume of poetry called Other Suns, and will also have an interview and original pieces published in this year’s edition of the Suisun Valley Review.

Meanwhile, next week we will begin our discussions of this year’s submissions! (See, didn’t I say it would only get more exciting from here?) Send in your submissions before it’s too late—there’s one week left! We accept submissions of short fiction, poetry, and art. (I know you talented people are out there reading this. I can feel your vibes through the computer screen.)

If you would like to know more about our features, click here for Clive Rosengren’s website and here for Patricia Killelea’s.

If you would like to submit, please send your work or works to Submission guidelines may be found here.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Progress on the Layout Front

Over the last few weeks, some of our graphics-savvy editors took the time to put together mock layouts (in other words, possible ways that we could format our magazine). There were a wide variety of colors, fonts, spacing and alignments.

This last Monday, the committee assigned to designing the layout of the inside of the magazine (go Team Innards!) put together a semi-final draft of what our layout could/should/might look like. It incorporated ideas from all of the mocks that were previously submitted.

Then we threw the semi-final mock onto the big screen for the rest of the editors to review. They had some additional suggestions, but for the most part, everyone seemed to like what had been done. We will give the layout one more pass before we all give it the salutary nod of completion and turn our focus to something else.

There’s still going to be some continual, inevitable tweaking of the internal layout throughout the next two months, so the job’s not “done” done. However, we’re confident that the final layout will be satisfying and pristine. And maybe a teensy bit flashy, but that will depend on the colors we choose, which will likely be taken from the cover. That will be one of our foci for next week: picking out which of our art submissions we think might be good cover choices.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The "R" Word

One of our tasks over the last week and a half was to complete the drafting of the 2012 rejection letter. Rejection. That word really sucks. Writing (and sending!) rejection letters is the least pleasurable part of editing the magazine, but it’s also the most necessary.

“Lit mags reject good stuff all the time.” I heard that phrase half a dozen times from the writer’s perspective. It’s stranger to hear its cousin, “You will reject pieces you love.” When we look away from the literature involved and look at the numbers, we have to admit the inevitability. We are a modest magazine, receiving several hundred submissions in a given season, but that’s still several hundred more than you can fit in a magazine of roughly seventy pages.

It’s like trying not to spend your entire living at the bookstore. “Ooh, that one, and that one, and that one, and that one...!” – and then looking at your checkbook, realizing your budget only covers a tenth, or maybe a twentieth of the books you want to buy.

Putting books back on the shelf is disheartening, and so is rejecting stories, poetry or artwork. But in the end, once you’ve painstakingly narrowed your choices down to a number that won’t break the bank, you know you’re left with the best you could buy (or publish).

We greatly esteem the pieces we publish (else, why would we publish them?) but we also greatly appreciate everything we reject, because every writer took a risk and put themselves out there. Great, good, bad, indifferent: none are immune from rejection, but we’re glad they were all sent in. If you submitted a piece, thank you.

If you haven’t, our submission guidelines can be found here, and we hope you’ll consider doing so!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Papers, Glues, and Threads

(I was going to add “oh my!” at the end, but I opted against it. What do you think – are the Wizard of Oz puns dead?)

Our teacher/advisor said our energy was a little low. Well, we were talking about paper, which is a topic that most people don’t find very invigorating. (Although, I’m pretty sure there were at least some of us that were secretly fascinated, but too embarrassed to admit it.)

As a class and as a group of editors, we are slowly starting to learn (or re-learn) just how much there is to making a magazine. When he said we would be making every little decision, he meant every little decision. Paper types. Glue types. Thread types. What shape do we want the magazine to be? What texture do we want the paper to have?

Several of these aspects are controlled by time and budget, thereby being out of our control. But there are details – right down to the page number’s position, font, color and size – that are entirely up to us. There is already some discussion amongst us as to page layout; it will be interesting to see what all of our thirty-odd personalities come up with! (And, more importantly, more excitingly, what we choose in the end for the final product.)

Friday, February 24, 2012

How To Read (Like An Editor)

One of the topics that has most dominated this week’s classes is how to read the poems and stories we receive. In conjunction with this discussion, we’re also discussing: what is a poem, and what is a short story?

The answer seems obvious, but it’s more open-ended than many of us realized. We all come equipped with different perceptions (none of them inherently incorrect) of what literature really is, just based off of our own reading experiences and preferences. The key to reading like an editor is focusing on the craft of the poem or story, and less on whether or not we like (dislike, love, or hate) what the poem or story is about.

This is what we’re practicing in the interim before we start the real deal: we have our class reader (a packet of poems and short stories that we chose from literary magazines) and we have our practice packets. We use the mock packets to practice voting on pieces, as well as practice how we go about discussing them.

Next week, we will be continuing our practice rounds, but we’ll also be talking about censorship. Is censorship ever okay, and do we always know when we’re doing it? It’s another “obvious” topic that will likely open many doors to interesting and eye-opening conversation.

Submission Guidelines for 2012

For your convenience, here are the submission guidelines for 2012. All necessary information is listed, but should you have any questions, do not hesitate to email us! We look forward to your submissions.

SVR is primarily a literary magazine and accepts literary submissions in poetry, prose and fiction. Submissions should be accompanied by
(1) a cover letter including the contributor’s name, address, phone number, & email,
(2) two or three lines of biographical information,
(3) an appropriately sized S.A.S.E. for author notification if not submitted electronically.
If the contributor is an SCC student, please indicate as such. (SCC student-status is not required for publication in SVR.) Simultaneous submissions are amenable as long as they are indicated as such. Editors will respond in approximately four to six weeks after receipt of submissions. Successful submissions in prose and fiction typically do not exceed 2,500 words. Due to volume received, literary work will not be returned.

SVR also accepts submissions in photography, fine art, and 3-D art.
Images of visual submissions must be submitted via email, preferably at 300 ppi in Tiff or JPG formats. An image may be selected for the cover of the magazine unless the artist requests otherwise. A maximum of three works per artist or photographer may be submitted. SVR publishes images in full color.

Authors and artists of accepted submissions receive two copies of the magazine gratis. Authors and artists will be invited to present their work at a publication release to occur mid-May at the Solano Community College Library. Current SCC students who wish also to be considered for the Quinton Duval Award in Creative Writing must state in the cover letter that they are current SCC students.

Submissions may be mailed to the address below.
Suisun Valley Review, English Dept/Humanities, Solano Community College, 4000 Suisun Valley Road, Fairfield, CA 94534

Electronic Submissions and correspondence may be emailed to:

Saturday, February 18, 2012

SVR 2012 is alive!

Welcome to the 2012 blog of Solano Community College’s very own Suisun Valley Review! We are once again open for another semester of literary celebration through publishing. We have a team of faces new and old ready to review all submissions with the care and consideration that each piece of prose, verse, and art deserves. For submission guidelines, check out our Facebook or tumblr pages!

We’re currently in the process of getting to know the magazine, each other, and how our voting process is going to work. We have a sizable number of returning editors, but a lot of us are completely new, so it’s going to be important for us to get this system down. We have a bit of time left to do so, though; after all, even though we would love to get a steady stream of submissions throughout the next few weeks (hint hint) we know that the majority of our submissions are received between mid-March and March’s end.

Our other main focus is getting the word out! We’re distributing posters like the one you see above, sending fliers out, social networking, and doing fun projects like the display case.


(You might think that being trapped in a display case would be disconcerting, but she's got SVR - she's fiiiiine!)

All done:

We hope to see you all submit – you have nothing to lose!