Caylee: Hey, Sydney! Welcome to the staff interview series. First question: What is your writing journey? Why did you start writing and what are you future writing aspirations?

Sydney: My writing journey started in fourth grade during all the preparations for the old FCAT writing test. My teacher would give us different writing prompts every week, and after a few weeks, I started to ask for prompts every other day and would crank out essay after essay. I liked adding a twist of creativity to the overall bland template taught in schools. But what made me want to pursue writing as a career was reading the Harry Potter series. Being able to connect to characters on a personal level and seeing how J.K. Rowling was able to weave a harmonious plot though seven different novels and enriching it with imagery, dialogue, characters, and symbolism inspired me to pursue writing as more than just a hobby.

Caylee: I remember reading the Harry Potter series for the first time and being similarly just enamored by the wizarding world. Do you continue to read that kind of writing now or do you like other genres? And I know this is a hard question to answer, but what is your favorite book that you’ve read recently?

Sydney: I can’t believe you asked me about my favorite book. I hope you know you’re getting like 3 answers for that. I like to read most genres, but I tend to mostly read fiction, flash fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and the occasional crime/mystery novel. Recently, my favorite book that I’ve read is The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton, but one of my all-time favorites is The Nix by Nathan Hill.

Caylee: I LOVE The Nix. Any kind of writing that has Norse mythology intertwined with reality, especially the ‘60s like Nathan Hill does, is always amazing. Okay, what’s your favorite word?

Sydney: Happiness.

Caylee: You’re so poetic. Also, I admire that you are able to choose a favorite word. I don’t think I could. Now another hard one: what is your spirit animal?

Sydney: I don’t know how to answer this. So naturally, I went on Google. I took several online quizzes to determine my spirit animal, but I didn’t agree with any of the results, so I looked up what spirit animal my personality type is, and I got Slow Loris and I liked it, so my spirit animal is now a Slow Loris. What’s your personality type?

Caylee: INFJ.

Sydney: It says you’re a wolf.

Caylee: I feel more like a Pomeranian.

Sydney: Quite mysterious. Powerful and independent but deeply value the affection of others. Do not open up to everyone and remain hard to read for most people. Value close personal relationships and deep connections.

Caylee: Wow. That’s intense. I feel like this website knows me. Okay, getting back on track: what is the best writing advice you’ve received?

Sydney: Best piece of writing advice I have ever gotten was to write every single day, whether it be 20 pages or 20 words. All that matters is you sit your ass in the chair and write.

Caylee: That is such great advice. Thank you for sitting down with me today, Sydney.

issue ii

Dear Readers and Writers,

We’re gearing up for issue ii, and we hope you’ll join us on our adventure! We’re running our submission period a little differently this time in order to give you the best possible editorial experience.

Our next submission period opens June 1, 2019 and closes August 1, 2019. Our response times will vary, but you can expect to hear from us approximately three to four months after you submit. This added response time will allow us the time we need read your submissions carefully.

For this submission period, we will be using Submittable, an online submissions software that allows us to streamline our process and eliminate any email domain difficulties. In May, under the submit tab, you will see the Submittable button. Click on the button and you will be brought to our Submittable page where you can submit your work within a few moments.

After careful thought, we have also decided to add a $2.00 (USD) submission fee. This submission fee will go towards supporting our editorial staff, funding our production costs, and growing the tiny journal so that we can expand our outreach and shed more light on the excellent writers we publish. Our fast track option proceeds will continue to go towards the Room to Read foundation.

We thank you for your continued support, and look forward to reading your submissions.

Caylee Weintraub
Founder & Editor in Chief

dollar store romeos, line breaks, and spirit animals: an interview with poet Lucy Wimmer


he was a dollar-store-Romeo

slick, cheap paperback

dog-earred pages yellowing,

smelling like cigarettes and


you picked him up because

his powder blue spine

showed signs

of cracking

and you keep band-aids

in your purse

ink stains fingers if you’re not

fast enough and

the first time he kissed you,

under parking-lot-luminance,

his face was warm and

your lips tasted like

dirty-dime soda-pop

sipped through thin pink straws

you took him home,

grease-stained pages fluttering

leather-jacket heartbeats racing

the air in the Cadillac was dusty and


you have black in your fingerprints

Lucy, “dime-piece” is amazing. I have so many questions. Okay: Where did you get your inspiration for this poem? What were some of the biggest challenges you faced when writing “dime-piece”? Did it takes tons of drafts to arrive at the final product or did the poem come to you fully formed?

Thank you!

I had been working through a heartbreak by writing poem after failed poem, none of them truly capturing the dirt, the beauty, the crude-oil kind of longing I felt. One day in class, I misheard someone and thought they had said, “dollar-store Romeo.” I wrote it down in my notes. Months later, I found the note and realized it was the catalyst I needed. I spent another month working on it, whispering the words over and over to myself, letting new words come to me.

dime-piece was a challenge simply because I knew it was the poem I had been working toward, and I needed every word to be perfect. Thankfully, I love this poem and had so much fun working on it that it never seemed challenging. Because I knew this poem was important, I felt no need to rush it, and this allowed each word to surface when it needed to.

I’m not a poet myself, but I’ve heard a lot of my friends talking about the struggle of line breaks. In “dime-piece” you have a really interesting line break at the end when you put the word “still” in its own line. Why did you decide to put a line break there and what’s your strategy for line breaks in general?

I isolated “still” because of the heaviness that it conveys in both the line that comes before, and the line that follows. Still can reference an absence of motion, as in, the air in the Cadillac lacks movement, it sits within the car, around the subjects. Still also references the time passed, the feelings trapped within the narrator, even after the events of the poem are a distant memory. I think, really, this word is the most important moment in the poem.

Line breaks are really cool. They can change the whole meaning and feel and flow of a poem. My best advice in terms of line-breaks (and my own strategy) is to just play around with them. Often, pieces of poems, or entire poems, come to me in one sitting, but the first draft is almost never the final draft. It is important to spend time with each word, each moment within a poem, to say it outloud, again and again, to understand how it feels. Once each word is understood, the line breaks truly come naturally.

When you’re having trouble writing, what are some things that you do to get the words flowing again?

I love being outside and being still and silent out there is a great way to make myself think about words. It is really easy to get caught up in thinking about things that don’t really matter much, and being quiet and simply sitting for a while is a great way to redirect my brain energy into creating.

Writing is also a coping mechanism for me, so if I am going through something difficult, heartbreaking, anxiety-inducing (etc.), I often turn to writing. It helps me both organize and work through feelings, but also it provides a sort of escape.

What experiences have helped you become a better writer?

My mom read to me as a child, and we often listen to books on tape during long car rides. I have always loved stories and reading and I think this love and obsession and life-long involvement with stories is my greatest asset in terms of writing.

I have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for probably six years. NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write 50,000 words in the month of November. I have never written 50,000 words, but I have always reached the goal that I have set for myself. This is an awesome way to become a better writer because it forces you to simply write without concern for the quality of your words. My biggest challenge as a writer is actually making myself write creatively (I do journal every night, so I am at least writing something every day) and this program is a great way to make myself write.

I also want to give a shout-out to the writing teachers and professors I have had who tear my writing apart in order to build it back stronger. This is the BEST.

I’m so impressed that you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for six years. That’s amazing. Okay. So, you talked about your writing teachers and professors and their influence on your development as a writer. What’s one of the best pieces of writing advice you’ve heard from one your teachers?

I remember in the seventh grade, my English teacher told me that it is ok to start a sentence with the word “and.” This may seem like a minor moment, but it opened up the world of writing to me in a new way. I felt freer to write in a way that makes sense to me, to play around with language and words and sentences. Writing rules are important sometimes, but it is an art form and an artistic practice and rules don’t have to be followed!!

I’m so glad you said that. Finding the balance between which rules you follow and which rules you break seems so essential to the development of a writer’s voice. What authors have you read that helped you find your voice? Have you read anything lately that blew your mind?

I recently read The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy and it was so achingly beautiful and heartbreaking and tore me apart, and made me want to write again. Another book I’ve read recently is Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi. I had a pretty cool experience while I was reading this one -- I fell asleep reading it and had a dream that I was able to speak and write in Nafisi’s style. I woke up feeling so ready to write.

Finally, what’s your spirit animal and why?

My middle name is Sophronia, which means “wisdom,” so my family says that my spirit animal is an owl. When my parents were on the way to the hospital for my sister to be born, an owl flew in front of the car and a frog (my brother’s spirit animal) hopped across the road at the same time.

What a beautiful answer. Thank you so much, Lucy. Best of luck in your writing career.