Toasted Cheese 17:1

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The March 2017 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Holly Day, Liz Dolan, John Grey, Michael Paul Hogan, Salvatore Marici & Sam Payne; flash by Jenny T.H. Chiu, Becca B. Jenkins, Zack Peercy & Michael Snyder; and fiction by Michelle McMillan-Holifield, Gwenda Major, David McVey & Kathryn Pallant.

TC 17:1 also includes the Dead of Winter Writing Contest winning stories by Ellis Sinclair, Catherine J. Link & Red Lagoe.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Jesus and Magdalene by João Cerqueira, and Bill Lockwood reviews Sure Things and Last Chances by Lou Gaglia.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Theryn “Beaver” Fleming.

The cover image is by torbakhopper on Flickr, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

Toasted Cheese 16:4

The December 2016 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Darren C. Demaree, Rose Knapp, D.W. Moody & Timothy Pilgrim; flash by Timothy Bastek, Isaac Buckley, Lori Cramer, Travis Keys, Michelle S. Lee & Tim Love; and fiction by Nancy Christie, William Locke Hauser, Jay Merill & Dacia Price.

TC 16:4 also includes the fall Three Cheers and a Tiger Writing Contest winning stories by Robert Walton, Valerie Lunt, Christina De La Rocha & R.J. Snowberger.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Buried Gold by Bill Lockwood, and Bill Lockwood reviews The Last Cadillac by Nancy Sullivan.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Stephanie “Baker” Lenz.

The cover image is by H is for Home on Flickr, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

Toasted Cheese 16:3

The September 2016 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Richard Dinges, Marchell Dyon, Theresa Kelly, Marc Livanos, Lauren Scavo & Judith Taylor; flash by Jeff Bakkensen & Stephanie Gail; fiction by David E. Grubb, Kathy Mansfield, Michael Retzer & Gina Sakalarios-Rogers; and creative nonfiction by Autumn Shah.

TC 16:3 also includes the A Midsummer Tale Writing Contest winning stories by Sarah Evans, Heather Finnegan & Gail Webber.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Not For Art Nor Prayer by Darren C. Demaree.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Theryn “Beaver” Fleming.

The cover image is by Benny Mazur on Flickr, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

Toasted Cheese 16:2

The June 2016 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Colin Dardis, Bobbi Sinha-Morey & Diane Webster; flash by Andrew Bertaina, Jhilam Chattaraj, Greg Metcalf & Tara Roeder; and fiction by Sharon L. Dean, Karl Harshbarger, Isabel S. Miles & Steve Passey.

TC 16:2 also includes the Spring 2016 Three Cheers and a Tiger Writing Contest winning stories by Meredith Bateman, Brian Behr Valentine & Erin McDougall.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Feeding by Cody L. Stanford and Lou Gaglia reviews Crossing the Lines by Tony Press.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Stephanie “Baker” Lenz.

The cover image is by James on Flickr, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

Toasted Cheese 16:1

The March 2016 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Lana Bella, Jeff Burt, Theresa Kelly & Wern Hao See; flash by Melissa Ostrom & Sherry Welch; fiction by Brian Coughlan & Catherine Keenan; and creative nonfiction by Luanne Castle, Brett Peruzzi & Linda C. Wisniewski.

TC 16:1 also includes the 2015 Dead of Winter Writing Contest winning stories by Matthew Boyle, Robert James & John Howe.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Poor Advice (and Other Stories) by Lou Gaglia.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Theryn “Beaver” Fleming.

The cover image is by Roger Penguino on Flickr, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

Toasted Cheese 15:4

The December 2015 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Miki Byrne, Erin McIntosh, Sonnet Mondal & Lauren Scavo; flash by Paul Hetherington, Ajay Patri & Christina Sanders; fiction by James Butt, Kim Farleigh, Maithreyi Nandakumar & Deb Smith; and creative nonfiction by Theresa Kelly.

TC 15:4 also includes the Fall 2015 Three Cheers and a Tiger Writing Contest winning stories by Matthew Boyle, Mark Neyrinck & Clarissa Pattern.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews Undertow by Eric E. Wallace.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Theryn “Beaver” Fleming.

The cover image is by Allagash Brewing on Flickr, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

Toasted Cheese 15:3

The September 2015 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Jan Ball, Sean Lause, JoAnn LoSavio, Jonathan Shipley, Angela Inez Vargas, Diane Webster & Marne Grinolds Wilson; flash by F. C. Brown Cloud & Claire Polders; fiction by Melodie Corrigall, Ryan Dempsey, Matthew Everett, Melanie Griffin & Judy Salz; and creative nonfiction by Marsa Laird, Mary Lewis & Emily Pifer.

TC 15:3 also includes the A Midsummer Tale Writing Contest winning stories by David Thom, Anais Jay & Susan Shiney.

At Candle-Ends, Erin Bellavia reviews A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire and Shelley Carpenter reviews Orangutanka: A Story in Poems by Margarita Engle.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Stephanie “Baker” Lenz.

The cover image is by jeffreyw on Flickr, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

Toasted Cheese 15:2

The June 2015 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Carl Boon, Wayne F. Burke, Natasha S. Garnett, Lowell Jaeger, Erren Geraud Kelly & Kristina Spear; flash by Gretchen L. Dietz, Windy Lynn Harris, Jenny Irizary, Dorothy Mahoney & Roger McKnight; fiction by Rebecca T. Florisson, Louisa Adjoa Parker, Nancy Nau Sullivan & Bonnie Thompson; and creative nonfiction by Ron Riekki.

TC 15:2 also includes the Spring Three Cheers and a Tiger Writing Contest winning stories by Sarah R. Clayville, Urvashi Bohra & Tara Kenway.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews The Scholar,The Sphinx, and the Fang of Fenrir by A.R. Cook, A.R. Cook reviews Thirty Seconds by Heather MacPherson and Salvatore Marici reviews Temporary Champions by Darren C. Demaree.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Stephanie “Baker” Lenz.

The cover image is by Kimberly Appels, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

Toasted Cheese 15:1

The March 2015 issue of Toasted Cheese features poetry by Holly Day, John Grey & Anne Britting Oleson; flash by Jill Boyles, Bradley Sides & Christopher T. White and fiction by Louis M. Abbey, Arika Elizenberry, Lane Kareska, Daniel Nazer, Marlene Olin, Jonathan Pauls & Tony Press.

TC 15:1 also includes the 2014 Dead of Winter Writing Contest winning stories by Erin McDougall, John Howe & Amelia Diamond.

At Candle-Ends, Shelley Carpenter reviews The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle & Work to Do by Bob Zeanah and A.R. Cook reviews Swish Swirl & Sniff by Salvatore Marici.

This issue’s Snark Zone is by Stephanie “Baker” Lenz & Theryn “Beaver” Fleming.

The cover image is by Benny’s Chop House, with additional photos by photographers around the world, all of whom have generously made their work available for use under Creative Commons licenses. Please click through and check out their photostreams.

Congratulations to all. Happy reading!

How to Write a Book Review (and How to Request One)

Absolute Blank

By Shelley Carpenter (Harpspeed)

Mindset:

I think one of the important components in writing a book review is mindset. One needs to be open minded to reading books that they may not typically read. Professional editors and writers may have the option of choosing the books they review with the added perk of a salary. At Toasted Cheese and many other literary journals the editors and writers review books for the joy of it and to support fellow writers. It is a labor of love.

Revving Up before Reading:

Another practice I follow is to learn about the author before reading his/her book. I visit blogs, social media, and websites. Knowing something about the author makes the reading a more personal experience and may help later when it is time to write the review and the short biography that follows. I also look in the Toasted Cheese archives to see if there are submissions and links to other writing. It is like taking a test drive before driving cross-country.

Mindfulness:

The task also requires mindfulness. Before I open a book that is slotted for review, I always ask: What makes this a good book? This is a great question particularly if one is reviewing a book that is outside of their writing or reading genre(s). Giving myself an assigned question truly helps to focus on the task. Within the context of the question there are three sub-parts that I consider: What is this book about? This relates to genre, character and plot, the general information that most reviews contain. What do I notice within the text? This refers to style, language, theme, vocabulary, etc. a.k.a. the writer’s toolbox. Lastly, what do I notice beyond the story? Does it relate to the real world in any way? Are there comparisons or contrasts that can be drawn?

Another name for this practice is active reading. Meanwhile, I’m annotating the copy—I’m circling, underlining, highlighting, and writing notes in the margins. I also attach sticky notes on the pages that answer my question(s). By the time I finish reading, there are usually a dozen or more colored notes sticking out of the copy.

I take my time with every book and collection of poetry and stories and when I’ve finished reading and annotating, I let the words simmer in my mind for days before my fingers touch the keyboard. This is how I begin.

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan/Flickr (CC-by)

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan/Flickr (CC-by)

By Theryn Fleming (Beaver)

Tips for Writing a Review for Toasted Cheese:

  • Keep in mind Candle-Ends is our way of connecting the TC community with the literary journal. We’re looking for positive/neutral reviews that support the writers in our community.
  • We’re ok with fluffy, but not with false praise. Be honest, but kind.
  • We know one of the reasons writers hesitate to write reviews is they’re unsure how to handle reviewing a book they didn’t love unequivocally. Here are some suggestions:
    • Describe the book. For a novel, tell readers about the key characters, the gist of the plot, the setting. For short stories or poetry, give readers an overview of the types of stories or poems they can anticipate. Write about the overall theme of the book. Describe the writer’s style.
    • Let the book speak for itself. Include representative quotes in your review so readers can see what to expect and judge for themselves.
    • Highlight the the book’s strengths.
    • Sandwich criticism between praise. If there is a weakness you think is important to mention, put it in the middle. Start with a positive and end with a positive.
  • A brief mention of why you personally related to the book is fine, but don’t digress too much. Keep the focus on the content of the book.
  • Provide a brief biography of the author as well as links to their website and/or social media accounts.
  • Please mention if you have a personal connection to the author.

Tips for Requesting a Review from Toasted Cheese:

  • Requests for reviews should be sent to our reviews editor at reviews@toasted-cheese.com
  • Be sure to mention the author’s connection to Toasted Cheese (please note: we only review books by writers with a pre-existing connection to TC).
  • Author or publisher must be able to provide a digital and/or print copy of the book to the reviewer.
  • Indicate your willingness to write a review. Not only is it good karma to reciprocate, but requesting authors who write a review will be moved to the front of the queue.