Vern Miller helps writers jump-start their publishing dreams.
The Lisle resident is publisher and editor of the "Fifth Wednesday Journal," a biannual literary publication based in Lisle. The nationally known magazine draws submissions from around the world.
The latest issue, its sixth, is due out in stores Wednesday, April 28. It should be available at The Nook on Main Street in Lisle and at Anderson's Bookshops in Naperville and Downers Grove.
The 200-page journal is a good read in short snatches of time because it includes short fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and black-and-white photography.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, the first fifth Wednesday this year, Miller will bring his publication to the Lisle Library, 777 Front St., for a discussion on literature, writing and publishing. (Of numerical interest, an average year has four months that contain a fifth Wednesday.)
Contributing editors and poets Daniel Libman and Molly McNett, a married couple with two children, will speak on finding time to write. Illinois poets John Bradley from Northern Illinois University and Donna Pucciari of Wheaton will read poetry from a past journal.
"We have published from submissions from 26 countries to date and over 200 different poets and writers," Miller said. "Our reach grows to the whole community of good and better writers."
The new issue will feature the poetry of Reginald Gibbons, Marge Piercy and Marianne Boruch; short stories by Michael Ravitch and Dale Kushner; essays by Celia Bland and Greg Bathon.
A good piece of fiction, short essay or poem shares with its reader the human experience. In a technological and mechanical world, the written word adds beauty and warmth. Words develop ideas, define emotions and add perspective. Within poetry, words dance, spin and fly.
With so many words to choose from and an infinite number of ways to string them together, practice helps to avoid fluff and expand a person's writing skills.
"Fifth Wednesday Journal" gives a new writer an opportunity. All submissions are first read blind by two of the journal's authorized readers.
"I strip away all identification so our readers have no knowledge of who wrote the piece," Miller explained. "If good enough to publish, the piece goes on to an editor for consideration. Only when the final selections are made for publication, do I go back to the name and profile of the writer. If I find that person has never published, boy that is as happy as we can get. I love it when we can say we discovered this writer."
Miller said his process judges on literary merit and is fair to each writer.
"Everyone gets an equal chance," Miller said. "Your piece will not be pushed aside because someone with a big name sent in a piece."
Every issue has different guest editors to keep the journal fresh and open to new ideas. Each journal reflects a wide spectrum of styles and structures.
A submission must be an original, unpublished work in English. Submission details are at fifthwednesdayjournal.org.
Miller has his pulse on the literary scene. He created a list of local writing and publishing opportunities for our readers.
1. "Fifth Wednesday Journal" is at fifthwednesdayjournal.org.
2. Rivulets is a Naperville-based journal of poetry and prose published by the Naperville Writers Group, which meets at North Central College. The Web site is napervillewritersgroup.org.
3. Seeding the Snow is for women writers interested in nature. It is at SeedingtheSnow.net.
4. A Prairie Journal is an online publication of poetry, essays, fiction and photography. View it at aprairiejournal.com.
5. RHINO is an Evanston-based literary publication featuring poetry, short stories and translations. It is at rhinopoetry.org.
6. River Oak Review is out of Elmhurst College for both established and emerging writers. It is at riveroakreview.org.
7. After Hours is a biannual magazine based in Oak Park with a Chicago flavor. Check out afterhourspress.com.
8. Sport Literate has a broad definition of sports told in prose, poetry and interview. It is running a contest with cash prizes at this time. Details are at sportliterate.org.
9. Hotel Amerika is an eclectic literary magazine of poetry, fiction and nonfiction based at Columbia College in Chicago. It is at hotelamerika.net.
10. Duotrope's Digest at duotrope.com, New Pages at newpages.com and CRWROPPS at poetryresourcepage.com are three resources to directories of magazines, contests and opportunities.
11. The Windy City Chapter of the Romance Writers of America meets at the Lisle Library and at the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce meeting room. Details are at windycityrwa.org.
12. Writing classes are at: the Morton Arboretum, details are at mortonarb.org under natural history; community and other colleges; and public libraries, which offer writing classes and support local writing groups.
Courses can be very helpful to new writers and those keeping a family memoir journal, Miller said. For those who want to start their own writers group, Miller recommends eight to 12 members as the ideal size. Creative writers need to practice their skills just like athletes. It is only impossible when you stop trying.
The current Lisle Big Read selection is "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett, a first-time author now on best-seller lists. She credits the writers group she belongs to with helping her realize her dream.
"Fifth Wednesday Journal" began in the Lisle community because Miller knew people in the area were interested in literature and writing. The program at the Lisle Library will capitalize on that interest and, in the process, kick off National Poetry Month that begins Thursday, April 1.