Empty Sink Publishing

Good Stories. Period.

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Welcome to Issue 9

We’ve been at this long enough now that, occasionally, I get questions like, “How do I get published in your magazine?” The easy answer to this question is, “Send us something that doesn’t suck.” But the real answer is more complicated. Thankfully, there are hundreds of articles on the Internet about how to get published in a literary and arts magazine, and I’m not going to rehash those points here. No, today, I’m going to show you the six easy steps to NOT getting published in our magazine—or any other, quite frankly.

Six Easy Steps to Publishing Failure

Step 1: Don’t read the magazine you’re submitting to.

Traditional advice is to actually take the time to read past issues of the magazine you’re submitting to. This helps you make sure that the magazine is a good fit for your style, tone, and subject matter. But you’re a busy, busy genius with a romantic sci-fi psychological thriller set in a suburban neighborhood that’s stuck in the 1950s—your brilliant work transcends genres, and any magazine would love to have it! So go ahead and submit it to “Pets Weekly.” You’ve got a dog in one of the scenes, and once they read it, they’ll be so impressed that they’ll change their entire format just to give you a monthly column. SUCCESS!

Step 2: Submission guidelines are for pussies. Ignore them.

You’ve heard it time and time again: read and follow submission guidelines. But you’re an artist, man. You don’t follow the rules. You’re a rebel—that’s, like, your whole shtick. So their submission guidelines say they don’t accept electronic submissions—then why do they have an email address? Silly publishers. Forget snail mail—just shoot them an email, wow them with a kickass cover letter, and they’re sure to make an exception. Hey, speaking of cover letters…

Step 3: Use your cover letter to show that you are funny/weird/awkward/pompous/racist.

One of your friends told you not to bother putting much in your cover letter, because most publishers don’t actually read them. Well, fuck that. You’re going to MAKE them read your cover letter. You’re going to write some brilliant prose in a barely-legible font so they HAVE to look at it. You’re going to intrigue them with your description of how you’re a lone wolf artist, someone who’s got a sense of humor so unique that nobody else finds it funny. You’re going to tell them about how Shakespeare was a hack and monkeys could write better than David Foster Wallace. And they’re going to LOVE it.

Step 4: Don’t waste time revising your story—much like what you left in the toilet this morning, it is perfect just the way it came out.

Look, let’s face it. You are a writer, that mythical beast who comes up with brilliant stories and shares them with the world for fun and profit. You don’t have time for revision, and besides, your first draft was perfect. You even ran spell-check on it, and it only found two errors! Other, less talented writers may need to revise their work to make it publishable, but you, my friend, are a freaking Mozart of words: everything that comes out of you is genius. Plus, you’ve got this great idea for a character study of a guy who works at McDonald’s, but dreams of becoming a famous writer—no use wasting time revising the story you just finished when you’ve got an even better one waiting in the wings of your imagination!

Step 5: Submit your work to as many places as humanly possible all at the same time.

Because your work is so wonderful, you know the first person who sees it is going to accept it. But why send it to just one magazine for consideration? Who are you to deny ALL of the magazines the opportunity to look at what you’ve created? Go ahead: send it to all of them, all at the same time, even if they specifically say they don’t accept simultaneous submissions. And even better—don’t tell them it’s a simultaneous submission. That way, when it inevitably gets picked up by Atlantic Monthly, you can send all the other schmucks an email saying, “BOOYAH! Off the market, bitches. IN YO FACE.”

Step 6: When the publisher sends you edits, tell them to fuck off.

Edits?!? To your brilliant piece of literature? That’s like giving Tom Wolfe fashion advice. If a publisher dares to approach you with proposed edits—even if those edits actually make your piece better—do the only logical thing: tell them your piece is awesome as it is, and they can either publish it unchanged or go screw themselves. Because nothing says “successful writer” like alienating the very people who can help you achieve that success!

So there you have it. If you too would like to fail in publishing, simply follow these six easy steps, and you’ll be not getting published in no time at all!

Without further ado, let me introduce you to the folks who decided not to follow this advice and found a home in this issue.

Our Editor’s Choice for this month goes to the short story, Confluence, by Brandon Madden. It’s very difficult to describe anything about this story without giving it away, but I can say one thing: this story will leave you questioning the very nature of what you think is reality. It’s an excellent story, and we’re very proud to feature it in this issue.



Brandon Madden — “Confluence” (Editor’s Choice)

Sean Padraic McCarthy — “Teeth”

Caleb Sarvis — “Thoreau in a Phone Booth”

Sushant Supriye — “The Fifth Direction”


M.M. Adjarian — Sister Moon

“Twenty Questions with author Alysha Kaye”


Claire Scott:

Colin James:

Doug Bolling:

Emily Strauss:

Joe Nicholas:

Gerard Sarnat:


W. Jack Savage — Three Images

David Klugman — The Prison of Forgotten Dreams

Jim Pollock— Girl Walking Her Pinata

Photography by Lis Anna-Langston


The Waiting Room, by Alysha Kaye

One Kick, by Chelsea Cain

One last note: get out your calendars, because we’ve got two dates for you to mark down. The first is Halloween, when we’ll have something special coming out by Strange Fish author and artist N. Piatkoski. The second is December 8, when we will release Issue 10. Issue 10 is going to be a big one. It’s where we will celebrate our one-year anniversary, and we’ll have both old and new contributors there for the party.

In the meantime, enjoy Issue 9, and remember: it’s easy to not get published, and nobody ever succeeded by doing what’s easy.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 10/6/2014


Welcome to Issue 8

About a year ago, during a beer-fueled brainstorming session, Adam and I conceived the idea for EmptySinkPublishing.com: an online arts and literary magazine for both aspiring and established authors and artists who are looking for an outlet that will take their careers, and our place in them, seriously.

We’ve written at length about how we do it. But why did we do it? That, we haven’t talked about much. After all, starting a magazine is no small task, and running one that publishes on a regular basis, on top of a regular eight-to-five job, is an even bigger task. And it isn’t like Adam and I don’t have other things to do: I’ve got a novel to finish editing and he’s working on a documentary. If we decided to abandon this project, it would give us both more time to concentrate on other, larger projects that, let’s be honest, have a better chance of reaping us financial rewards.

It isn’t like the world of independent online magazines is brimming with financial opportunity, and we’re not going to be on the cover of Publishers Weekly as some bastion of the new wave of publishing and writing—it ain’t gonna happen, even if we are doing things differently than all the other publishers out there.

So why did we do it, if not for fame and fortune? There’s two reasons:

  1. Because we wanted to
  2. Because we could

Do you know how little capital it takes to start a website? You can get a good website, domain name, hosting service, and CMS for less than a hundred dollars. How long did it take to design the website? Not long at all—we use a pre-made template focused on ease of translation to multiple devices. Our design time was limited so that we could focus on what was important to us: content.

What about getting people to submit—how much do ads cost? Well, they’re free, depending on where you go. Our most effective ads were placed, at no charge, on NewPages.com, and they have resulted in close to one thousand submissions over the past twelve months.

And what about publicity? Thanks to Facebook and Twitter, that’s free too, and we’ve spent a good part of the past twelve months growing our followings on both.

So the “how” was cheap and easy. We just needed the “why.” And at the end of the day, the “why” is that simple reason you hear from every child at some point in their lives: “because.”

We’re both good editors. We both like literature, poetry and art. And after several months of debating all different kinds of websites: author services, editing services, even, at one point, a website that would allow people to publish their own material no matter how bad or atrocious it was, we settled on a tried-and-true method that’s been around for over a century: the good old arts and literature magazine.

I’m not trying to brag here, but the fact is: most startup literary magazines don’t make it past the six-month mark, and we’re proud that we did. Because it isn’t easy. In the time I’ve spent working on this magazine, I probably could have written two novels.

But it’s worth every minute, for several simple reasons. One, it has given Adam and I the chance to work together again, which we enjoy—we make a great team. Two, it has introduced us to some of the finest talent the creative world has to offer. And three—and perhaps most importantly—we’re having a damn fine time doing it.

We hope you enjoy this issue. We’re going to introduce our features in a bit of a different format this time, so check out our full lineup for this issue below. But I do want to make note of the Editor’s Choice for this issue. N. Piatkoski has been with us since the beginning, delivering new issues of her black and white graphic novel, Strange Fish, every month. This month, she did something spectacular: she did the entire issue in color. And every inch of it is beautiful. I’ve loved Strange Fish from the very beginning, but seeing it in color is magical. Nicole is an incredible artist, our most consistent contributor, and we are honored to have our magazine associated with the work she’s doing. This issue of Strange Fish is not to be missed: read it once for the story, then look at it once more just for the artistry.

Be sure to come back for our ninth issue in October, and in the meantime, keep doing what you love.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 8/15/2014



Summer Afternoon, by Reese Scott

Release, by Mary Ann Cooper

The Man in Black, by Nels Hanson

The Release, by Karen Faris

The First Night, by P.K. Lauren


Voyage Around Lies, by Ìgbékèléolúwa Sàláwù

Nineteen Questions with Author L.T. Vargus, by E. Branden Hart


Yuan Changming:

Travis Naught:

Peter Bracking:

Jennifer Lagier:

Howie Good

Christopher Dovoric:


Three Images by Clint Van Inman

Three Images by W. Jack Savage

Three Images by Jack Galmitz

Strange Fish Issue 10, by N. Piatkoski (Editor’s Choice)


Half Way Home, by Hugh Howey

Casting Shadows Everywhere, by L.T. Vargus


Welcome to Issue 7

Last issue, we announced that in order to accomplish what we want with this magazine, we were moving to a bi-monthly format. I’m pleased to say the experiment worked. It has given both Adam and I more time to concentrate on all the various tasks that are necessary for a modern online magazine to both survive and thrive in what is quickly becoming an oversaturated market.

If you follow us on Twitter, you probably noticed an immediate change. We are now using our Twitter account not only to inform you about the incredible writing and art on our pages, but to also bring you publishing news on an (almost) daily basis. If you are a writer or artist who wants a quick way to see the big publishing news of the day, simply follow us @emptysinkpub and we’ll hook you up.

There’s even more in the works that it would be premature to mention, but I can tell you that Adam and I are both excited about the future and hope to have some big announcements for you over the next few issues.

In the meantime, the best thing about this change is that it has given us time to fill our pages with even more quality writing and art. This issue is jam-packed, so let’s get right to it.

In Fiction, Montana Grae’s Between Stops takes us on a subway ride and reminds us why we need to keep our eyes (and ears) open to the world around us. Kristen Keckler examines what it’s like to lose both people and things in Collectors. Sarah Gignac’s Savage Cut forces us to stare into the void at the end of life. And Tony Kicinski’s Shirt Tale, with its very unconventional protagonist, will make you ponder the origin of the clothes hanging in your closet.

We have two entries in our Reality section this month. In Where Dead People Live, Bill Vernon explores the nature of death and dying through the eyes of an aging protagonist. M. M. Adjarian’s What Abides also examines the nature of youth and makes you ask the question: do you really know who your parents are?

There is no shortage of poetry in this issue. Eric Jensen, who previously appeared in our second issue, provides a glimpse into the joys of enlightenment and the fleeting nature of inspiration with Awaken and Santa Barbara. Christopher Mulrooney’s poems might be short, but the images he paints and the feelings he inspires in just a few words are masterful. Jennifer Lessey’s Time Travelers will make you reconsider humanity’s place in the universe, while Jena McLaurin’s Voices will force you to marvel at the universe we take for granted every day. Finally, Volodymyr Bilyk comes to us from Ukraine, sharing his unique voice and verse amidst the chaos that most of us only read about, or see on television.

In our visual selection, two heavyweights from past issues return. Glenn Halak, who was featured in our second issue, brings his electrified canvas back with Axiom. And Lance Copeland, who was Editor’s Choice in our sixth issue, returns with his magnificent painting style (and I guarantee, at least one of these paintings has the potential to haunt your nightmares). Also included is the newest installment of N. Piatkoski’s graphic novel Strange Fish; if you have not been keeping up, make sure to go back into our archives and get caught up.

It’s also been a good couple of months for books. In this issue, I review Jacob M. Appel’s The Biology of Luck. I was honored to have the opportunity to interview Dr. Appel, and the full interview is included in this issue as well. In addition, I was happy to receive an ARC of R.M. Ridley’s debut novel, and the first in his White Dragon Black series, Tomorrow Wendell, and my full review appears in this issue.

Our Editor’s Choice for Issue 7 is from our visual selection. Holly Day’s Dusk Brings the Ninja almost won just for the title alone. But do me a favor. Look at this piece without looking at the caption. Take it in. Try to figure out what you’re looking at. Then read the caption, which also tells you how the image was created, and you’ll see exactly why we chose to honor this piece.

We are very proud of this issue, and hope you enjoy it. We’ll be back in August: in the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out our Twitter feed @emptysinkpub, and if you have a piece of news from the world of the arts that you think we should share, send it our way. The best way we can promote the arts is to spread the word about them, and Empty Sink Publishing is thrilled that we are able to do so.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 6/8/2014

Welcome to Issue 6

Welcome to Issue 6 of Empty Sink Publishing.

About two years ago, I started working out for the first time in my adult life. I’d gotten so fat that getting out of the car was a chore. Going up one flight of stairs left me out of breath. So, I decided to do something about it.

Today, fitness is a part of my daily life, and it’s taught me a great many lessons that I can apply elsewhere. Case in point: running. When I started working out, I couldn’t run more than fifty yards or so without getting so winded I had to stop and catch my breath. So I didn’t focus on running too much. It felt like failure, and I don’t like failure.

Fast-forward a year. I was reaping the benefits of daily exercise, and for the first time in over fifteen years, I ran a mile without stopping. More of a jog, really, but let’s not get bogged down in semantics here. And it felt good. So I started incorporating running into my exercise routine.

I found that no matter how often I ran I couldn’t go more than a mile without having to stop and catch my breath. I’d go running three times a week and never saw any improvement over that damn mile. So I talked to my trainer about it. He watched me run for a minute or so and then said two words that changed it all: “Slow down.”

I was going too fast. You can’t sprint in a marathon. You’ve got to take it slow. And when I took his advice, within a week, I’d jumped up to a mile and a half without stopping. Then two miles. And about three weeks ago, I managed a 5K without stopping: the longest distance I’d ever run in my life.

I know now that with a little practice and work, I can go much farther than a 5K. And all it took was slowing down a little bit and realizing that sprinting may feel good, but if you’re in it for the long haul—if you want to get that 26.2—you have to slow down.

The point? Here at Empty Sink Publishing, we’ve been sprinting for six months straight. And it has been awesome. We’ve seen some of the best writing, art and photography that emerging artists and authors have to offer, and we’ve been honored to publish it.

But the pace is grueling, and it isn’t sustainable. And we’re in this for the long haul. We’re going to hit that 26.2 come hell or high water. Empty Sink Publishing ain’t no flash in the pan.

So as of this month, we are making a formatting change. Empty Sink Publishing will no longer be a monthly magazine. Instead, we’re moving to a bi-monthly format. The next issue of Empty Sink Publishing will come out the first week in June. The issue after that will be out in August, with the next following in October.

This new publishing schedule will give us more time to connect with readers, promote our authors, and read all of the wonderful submissions that have been coming our way over the past six months. For you “Strange Fish” addicts, not to worry. We still intend to publish a new issue every month. Two months is too long to be away from Kevin and Sophie.

We’re excited about the new format, as it will allow us to push the boundaries of what we’re trying to do. We have a pretty good idea where the finish line is for us, and we’ve got a very long road ahead. So it’s time for us to slow down a little bit to make sure we get there in one piece.

Now: on to Issue 6.

In Fiction, Ian Brooks explores the life of the seventeen-year cicada in, “Dawn of Cicada Time.” Jason Graff opens the old wounds of a war vet in “Next Homecoming.” Susan Beale’s “Poker” will make you question the similarities between life and a game of chance. And James Hanna brings us the second installment in the tale of Ol’ Pomeroy, “Pomeroy and the Rights of Man.”

Moneta Goldsmith returns to our poetry section with, “Interrobang,” a poem that will make you wonder just who that mountain really thinks he is. Reese Scott examines the strange memory of beauty in “Leslie’s Teeth,” and Richard Fein’s poems, “A Change of Subway Seats” and “Maiden Voyage” highlight the complicated nature of things both mundane and fantastic. Finally, Drew Pisarra returns with “Inappropriate Interview,” a hilarious look at a hiring manager’s worst nightmare.

The artists appearing in our visual section this month are, in a word, outstanding. Clinton Van Inman’s beautiful paintings cast a new perspective on familiar scenery, and Italian artist Fabio Sassi’s “Scraps” turn trash into treasure. And of course we have the new issue of N. Piatkoski’s graphic novel, “Strange Fish,” in which Kevin makes the startling accusation that the crew is more normal than they think they are.

For the first time, we have two Editor’s Choices this month, and for the first time, one of them is a visual submission. Lance Copeland’s paintings breathtakingly blend the modern collective subconscious with the techniques of the old masters. Trust me: you will want one of these paintings on your wall. And Ewa Bronowicz’s short story, “Luminita,” is a heartbreaking tale of old-school racism and new-world redemption.

We hope you’ll enjoy this issue of Empty Sink Publishing. Whether you read it all at once or over the course of the next two months, just remember one thing: take it slow. You’ll get more mileage out of it if you do.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 4/7/2014

Welcome to Issue 5 of Empty Sink Publishing


Before I get into the content of this issue, let’s talk about movie adaptations.

In February, the long-awaited movie adaptation of Mark Helprin’s classic novel, “Winter’s Tale,” hit theaters and didn’t make much of a splash, at least from the box office earnings perspective. Many fans of the book lamented that the movie cut out a majority of the plot, many of the most notable characters and basically distilled the seven-hundred-page epic into a saccharine love story and a thinly veiled parable about the battle between good and evil.

I’ve got four words for those fans: what did you expect?

Please note: “Winter’s Tale” is one of my favorite novels of all time. It’s one of the best books written in the twentieth century. If you haven’t read it, you should go read it now. Well, not right now—wait until you’ve finished this issue of Empty Sink Publishing. Then read it to your heart’s content.

But let’s be real: Hollywood rarely accomplishes the same magic with a film adaptation that the author accomplished in the original work. And usually, there’s no way they could. If producers had decided to make a true-to-the-book adaptation of “Winter’s Tale,” it would have been over ten hours long, would have cost several hundred million dollars, and I would have loved every minute of it. All the fans of the original novel would have loved it. And you know who else would have loved it? NOBODY. Because the magic of reading a book like “Winter’s Tale” tends to get lost on people who haven’t read the book before seeing it’s screen translation.

Even the best film adaptations of novels—“Fight Club,” “The Godfather,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” “American Psycho”—all have their detractors. And for most people, the book is where the true magic lies—the film is simply a surrogate that you use when you need your fix. The difference is that other people—people who haven’t read the books—actually enjoyed those films.

The point is, if Hollywood completely craps on one of your favorite books with a less-than-stellar adaptation, don’t be surprised, and don’t complain. After all, to paraphrase the immortal Frank Zappa, they’re only in it for the money. Although, if I had the ear of Hollywood, I would make one suggestion: look to the short story for inspiration for your films. It’s been done and done well before. Brokeback Mountain, The Birds, The Most Dangerous Game (which has inspired more than a dozen movies on its own)—all of these great films are adapted from short stories. Short stories are a fertile ground for Hollywood to plow. We’ve even had some stellar candidates here on Empty Sink Publishing: Terry Davis’s Merry and Joe would make an excellent film, as would James Hanna’s Call Me Pomeroy. And the best thing about them? You could make a two-hour film without having to cut out a single thing.


On to Issue 5.

In our fiction section this issue, Walter Plotz returns with Latchkey Kid, a suspenseful story about what happens when a child gets left to his not-so-nice devices. We continue the thrills with Simon Says by Cheska Lynn, a unique tale that combines geocaching with…well, you’ll have to read to find out. Moneta Goldsmith also returns this issue with Dance Dance Evolution, a story about a brief, explosive celebration of life that we can all identify with.

The poetry section waxes philosophical this month. Greth Barredo’s Concept explores the way our minds can manipulate the world around us, while Desiree Jung’s The Science toys with the idea of just how ridiculous our exploration of that world can be. Christy Hall takes us to the other side of the pond with four poems that recall the landscape, the sights and the sounds of the British Isles, and Lee Slonimsky examines the science of nature in his poetry.

Leigh Spong is back with her final installment of photography, which will leave you with the unmistakable sense that beauty can be found in the most desperate of places. And of course, we’ve got the new issue of Strange Fish, by N. Piatkoski. Strange Fish is running at an electric pace now: the characters are in place, the blood is flowing, and Kevin, as always, is fabulous. If you’ve missed the first four issues, check them out in our archives, and then come along for the ride—it’s going to be a wild one.

In this issue, we’re doing something new. Frequent contributor James Hanna’s novel, The Siege, was recently released by Sand Hill Review Press. You can read my review of The Siege as well as an interview with Mr. Hanna in this issue. We’re grateful to James for his time, for the opportunity to read an advance copy of his novel and for sharing Pomeroy with us and the world. Read about all of those things in the interview, where Mr. Hanna sheds light on his life as a correctional officer, his writing habits and his time roaming the wilds of Australia.

This month’s Editor’s Choice is Actuary’s Alphabet, by John Delacourt. Mr. Delacourt does something special with this piece that is exactly the kind of thing we’re looking for at Empty Sink Publishing. I’m not going to ruin it by telling you what it is, but as long as you remember your ABCs, you’ll figure it out. It’s a short piece, but it packs a punch, and I dare you to try to use the same method in a piece of your own writing with such convincing results.

So sit back and enjoy another issue of Empty Sink Publishing. And remember: If Hollywood craps on your favorite book, try not to step in it. You’ll ruin the book.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 3/6/2014

Welcome to Issue 4 of Empty Sink Publishing

When Adam and I first began discussing this venture about six months ago, we knew we wanted to publish the best literature, poetry, non-fiction and art we could find. But we also wanted to do something different. Our goal was to interact with artists and authors on a level not typical of the literary and arts magazines currently on the market. Art is a personal endeavor, and we wanted to make the publication process personal for the artist as well.

To do that, we did two things. First, we decided that we would offer authors edits to their pieces if we accepted them for publication. This has turned out to be a great decision. While it takes time, it has allowed us to work with authors to help them refine and, in some cases, re-engineer their stories. Many of the stories you see on our site involved back and forth between the author, me, and Adam, and for many of our authors, this gives them an opportunity at peer review of their work that they are unable to find elsewhere. It has also given us the opportunity to establish working relationships with some of the best up-and-coming authors out there today.

Second, we wanted to promote the artists and authors that we published. Not just by using social media to promote the work published at Empty Sink Publishing, but to promote other works that they have published, or, in the case of visual and spoken-word artists, linking to their upcoming shows so that our audience knows when and where they can see live shows by artists that we have published on the site.

This cross-promotion has been successful. Last month, we received word from Issue 1 artist Otha “Vakseen” Davis III that someone had come to one of his gallery openings in Los Angeles and let him know that they heard about it from the Empty Sink Twitter feed (@EmptySinkPub).

This was just one person. They didn’t buy one of Otha’s paintings, and they didn’t offer to be his patron and pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars a year so he could spend his time making art. They just heard about his show—from us—and wanted to see it.

And for us, that meant one thing: mission accomplished. If our promotional activities reach just one person who wouldn’t have known about an artist’s show, or a poetry slam, or a spoken-word competition, and prompts them to leave their house and go see this art they never would have seen otherwise, then we have done what we set out to do. And we’ll continue doing it as long as you keep reading and submitting.

Now, on to Issue 4.

Our Fiction section this month explores death, politics, and love. In – in beginning, Nikki Vogel turns a Biblical tale of betrayal on its head, with enough Yiddish to make you plotz. Waiting, by Hannah McKinnon, weaves the tale of a girl who isn’t what she seems, waiting for something—or someone—on a beach. Grocery List, by Ken Mootz, is exactly that—a grocery list—but one that will make you consider what happened right before it was written. And James Hanna, author of Call Me Pomeroy, returns to Empty Sink Publishing with A Second, Less-Capable Head, a satire that skewers the political left, right, and everything in between.

In this month’s poetry section, Laura Close explores the compulsions of love and life in The E-mail and It is Pleasant and Imitates Illusion. Valentina Cano turns inward and exposes life’s little insecurities with Fourth Grade, Lost Birthday, and 11/16/12. M.A. Schaffner makes the ordinary anything but in In-Ground Ornamental Pool, Lagomorph Circuit, and Ongoing Development, and C.S. Fuqua elevates the mundane to miraculous in Rattler and Weekly Call.

Finally, we have some old and new in our Visual section. Jack Savage returns with his action-hero name and some amazing art. Leigh Spong is back with a collection of photos that will make you rethink what you’d normally consider trash. New to Empty Sink Publishing is Joel Seckleman, UK photographer and founder of RecordedSoul, who shares some of the beauty and despair he’s privy to across the pond. Finally, N. Piatkoski’s Strange Fish is back with its forth issue. Will Sophie wake from her drug-induced coma? Will Kevin continue to be fabulous (of course he will!)? Will Jeff find enough booze to continue his battle against his liver? You’ll have to read this issue to find out.

Our Editor’s Choice for this month is “The Straight Woman’s Guide to Feminism,” by Deborah A. Miller-Collins. Very few authors are able to tell a convincing story using the second-person point of view, but Ms. Miller-Collins is able to pull it off and paint a vibrant picture that pulls you into the scene like a magnet. We would love to see more people writing in this point of view, but the truth is, very few can, and we’re proud to publish “The Straight Woman’s Guide to Feminism” as an example of an author who got it right.

So, please, enjoy Issue 4 of Empty Sink Publishing. And if you find something you like, share it. You might just turn someone on to something they never would have seen otherwise—and that is the most vibrant joy of sharing art with the world.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 2/4/2014

Welcome to Issue 3 of Empty Sink Publishing

A few weeks after our first issue was released, our friends at The Unavoidable Drudge podcast asked me to come on and talk about what we’re doing at Empty Sink Publishing. I’ve been listening to The Unavoidable Drudge for a while now—it’s a great podcast, and when the guys have a guest on, you know it’s going to be interesting.

Which begged the question: what the hell was I going to talk to them about? Sure, there’s a lot I could say about the work we do putting this magazine together every month, but quite frankly, most of it’s a little boring. We spend hours reading through submissions, then working with authors to edit them. Adam toils away building our social media presence, and I work getting everything up and formatted for publication. Yes, we both enjoy the work, but when you sit down and describe it to someone, they tend to get this glazed-over look in their eyes that makes it clear they’re ready for a new topic.

Fortunately, The Drudge guys are pros—they know how to ask all the right questions to get at the guts of any topic. And what I found during the interview—and still find true when I listen to it again—is that my favorite part was when I got to talk about what our contributors were doing. Because that’s the most interesting—and rewarding—part of all we do.

During the podcast, we talked about some of the great works we’ve been able to publish so far. Kurt Newton and Walter Savage—both of whom return in this issue—got a mention, as well as James Hannah, whose story, “Call Me Pomeroy,” was our first Editor’s Choice, and who will be back next issue with some fantastic political satire.

Throughout the interview, we kept coming back to the contributors—what it’s like working with them, what we’re looking for, and how successful people have been in giving that to us. We’ve gotten some incredible works so far. For anyone interested in submitting to us, you now have three issues worth of material to comb through before deciding whether or not your piece will be a good fit. Whether it’s visual, poetry, fiction or non-fiction, our tastes are wide-ranging, but I think if you look back on what’s been published so far, you’ll see a discernible pattern in what we’ve chosen.

All that being said, Issue 3 is jam-packed with greatness. This month, our fiction section is dominated by flash—stories that are less than or right around one thousand words. Ron Morita (The Lawyer), Eric Nicholson (The Gift) and Alysa Chesler (Third Ear) all tell convincing stories, with beginnings, middles, and endings, in the space of just a few paragraphs. Same goes for Moneta Goldsmith, who returns from last month with new fiction (Separate Tables and To the Reader it May Concern). Finally, for those of you who prefer longer fiction, Suanne Schafer’s The Penis Problem explores the relationship between a middle-aged woman and her adoptive son, who is the only man in the history of the world who complained about his penis being too big.

Kurt Newton is back this month with more absurdly humorous poetry—if you liked Hot Tub Abortion Clinic from Issue 2, you’ll love Car Bomb Lovers and The Gun Show in this issue. Claire Scott tackles cooking for the dysfunctional family in A New Cookbook, and brings science into the bedroom with Red Shift. Finally, Moneta Goldsmith also has some poetry in this issue: more on that later.

In our reality section, Prosenjit Chaudhury takes us all to India in Journeys in a Small Town, a narrative non-fiction piece that will draw you in from the first sentence. And, in anticipation of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Eric Jensen explores the economic origins of and potential solutions to racism in Race, Class, and Society.

Our media section finally gets the dose of photography we’ve all been craving with photographs by Leigh Spong. If you like her work, she’ll be back for the next two issues. We also have some thrilling pieces by Walter Savage, who answered our plea for more of his work after we originally published him in Issue 2. Finally, Ariel Emerald presents us with the door to another world with Let Me In, a haunting piece that explores darkness among beauty.

N. Piatkoski’s graphic novel, Strange Fish, is back with Issue 3. In this month’s installment, the gang finds themselves rooming next to fascists in an Ohio motel. How do our protagonists deal with these unsavory characters? You’ll have to read to find out, but I guarantee—much like the fascists, you won’t see it coming.

Our Editor’s Choice for this month goes to the poem The Gates of Sleep, by Moneta Goldsmith. Mr. Goldsmith has two other poems published in this issue: Hyena vs. Wildebeest and To Asphyixiate . . . But The Gates of Sleep is an epic masterpiece that explores the world through the panoptic lens of the bystander. It is a brilliant poem, and we are honored to publish it in this issue.

As always, thanks for reading, thanks for contributing, and thanks for giving us something to talk about.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 1/6/2013

Welcome to Issue 2 of Empty Sink Publishing

This issue of Empty Sink Publishing is dedicated to Chris Garson. Chris was a good friend of mine who inspired me to become a better writer, reader, and person in general. Without his inspiration and guidance, I can say with full confidence that I never would have thought to start a literary magazine. Chris died on November 28, 2012. This issue is my thank you to him for all the good he did and continues to do.

Allow me to paraphrase the Bard for a moment: To offend, or not to offend. That is the question. Whether ‘tis nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of people who are pissed off by something you wrote, or said, or did, or to take arms against those who take life too damn seriously, and by opposing them, to piss them off some more.

When picking our selections for this issue, we had to make a decision about publishing a particular piece that we knew would piss some people off—maybe even some of you who are reading this right now. I’m not going to tell you which piece it is, though you will no doubt figure it out when perusing the titles in our tables of contents. But we had to decide: as a fledgling literary magazine, is it worth alienating some of our readers in order to publish what we think is an excellent example of humor at its darkest?

We decided that yes, yes it was. Controversial art, in its many shapes and forms, is only controversial if the observer is allowed to confront it head on. And what is controversial today may be considered passé tomorrow, but only if it is allowed to exist in an observable form today.

In addition, we are convinced that it is not our job to determine what is and isn’t offensive. That’s your job. Our job is to find art that we believe is worth sharing with a larger group of people and to publish that art, regardless of who it might anger or upset, and regardless of whether it will turn a group of readers away from our site. Because we know there are others, like us, who will read these works and will want more, because they don’t know where else to go to find them.

You have been warned.

In the meantime, we’ve got a great lineup for Issue 2. For those of you who enjoyed the first part of Terry Davis’s Merry and Joe, the conclusion appears in this issue. In blood in the dirt, F.X. James juxtaposes a grisly crime scene with the failing marriage of a small-town cop. Michael Christani’s Tell It to the Lord forces the reader to re-evaluate honor and death, and Dorianne Emmerton writes about a very unconventional participant in the ever-evolving art of war in The Sad Saga of the War Vet.

In the poetry section, you’ll find two notable entries from poet Kurt Newton. If you enjoy his work, come back next month for Issue 3, where we will publish two more of his poems. Drew Pisarra’s Satan’s Brew begs the question: what’s really going on in your favorite canine’s head? In The Wind and the Mountain, Gene Goldfarb spins a tale of opportunities lost, and Glen Armstrong’s A Brief History of the End will make you question what exactly would be going through your head when the shit goes down and the world is consumed in flames around you.

For those of you suffering from a turkey hangover, how about some seafood? Head to the reality section, where Moneta Goldsmith instructs you on The Least Cruel Method for Cooking Crabs. We are very pleased to be working with Mr. Goldsmith and will feature more of his work in Issue 3.

Check out our media section for works by Glenn Halak, Walter Savage, and Tamny Gilmore. We continue to be impressed by the quality of media works we’ve received from our contributors. If we had the means, we would open a gallery dedicated to hanging these pieces on a wall for all to see—they are that good.

Finally, the much-anticipated second issue of N. Piatkoski’s graphic novel, Strange Fish, appears in this issue. If you haven’t yet read the first issue, you can get it from our archives here. Strange Fish is weird and wonderful, and there is truly nothing like it in print right now. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have.

Our Editor’s Choice for this month goes to the short story Fugue, by Elizabeth Brown. Originally, we were going to serialize Fugue—it’s a long story, and we thought it would work well spread across multiple issues. But after a second read, I realized that Fugue is a story that must be read in a single sitting. The relationship between the protagonists of the story is too complex and multi-layered to be divided in two. It is a modern reinterpretation of the classical story of star-crossed lovers, and we are very proud to be publishing it in its entirety in this issue.

As an aside, thank you to both the contributors and readers who have made our first two issues a success. We hope you enjoy what you find in Issue 2. And if you are offended by what you read, feel free to send your slings and arrows our way. We shall suffer them with pride.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 12/4/2013

Welcome to Issue 1

Welcome to the first issue of Empty Sink Publishing.

When publisher Adam Dubbin and I originally came up with the idea for Empty Sink Publishing, we had a singular goal: to publish content that could not find a home anywhere else on the web. The problem was, we needed people to submit that content.

We reached out to family and friends. We put up daily calls for submissions on Twitter. We sent messages to random people who were somehow our Facebook friends. There was barely a trickle of submissions, and while we were seeing some good stuff, we didn’t think we had enough to produce a magazine.

We had discussions about what would happen if nobody submitted anything. Both of us have written stories that have never been published anywhere—we thought about publishing those using pseudonyms to make it look like other people were writing for the magazine. Then one night, beer in hand, I stumbled onto NewPages.com. They allow magazines that don’t charge reading fees to place free calls for submissions in their classified section. Five minutes later, I had ours submitted.

The ad went up on September 16. Within less than five hours, we had ten submissions. In the next three days, we had forty more. And as I write this, we are closing in on almost two hundred submissions, and we already have content approved for our second and third issues.

The incredible response we’ve received has caused us to reevaluate our mission, and it is this: Empty Sink Publishing will cultivate the written word and visual arts through publication, promotion, and by establishing a collaborative community for our contributors. For those following us on Twitter and Facebook, over the next few days, you’ll see a post highlighting each individual author, artist, and contributor as part of our promotional platform. Artists and authors who are accepted for publication will also be invited to our Facebook Contributors’ page, a closed group forum that will allow Empty Sink contributors to discuss the writing business, promote their work, and collaborate on future endeavors.

We’re very excited to be here, we’re thrilled at the response we’ve gotten, and we look forward to seeing more of what our contributors have to offer to the world.

Now, on to the first issue.

In our Fiction section, you’ll find a wide range of stories—there’s something for everyone here. There’s avant-garde literature in the tradition of Ben Marcus with Rafe Posey’s A Newcomer’s Guide to the Dog Villages. For a little humor, check out Walter Plotz’s story about disgruntled workers at a greeting card factory, Angry Bear. George Dila’s The Cello Player will make you ponder opportunities lost, while Titus Green’s Situation Room assures you that the new political bosses of the future will be the same as the old bosses we have now. If you like epic family stories, then check out the first part of Terry Davis’s Merry and Joe—the second part will be published on December 4 in our second issue. Finally, we have Call Me Pomeroy, by three-time Pushcart nominee James Hanna. More on that one later.

In our Reality section, read Amanda Silva’s creative non-fiction Branded for an unconventional look at the relationship between desire and tattoos. If you like poetry, we have works from poets Leslie Bell (who contemplates the fickleness of youth in The Bottle), Justine Johnston Hemmestad (whose haunting Exile will force you to contemplate the fickleness of life, in general), William Doreski (with Our Backyard Scrolls and Blue on Blue), Mitchell Grabois (who evaluates the value of the Internet in Time), and Tim Suermondt (who, as far as we know, is the only person on Earth who has written a poem about Jesus playing basketball in the late Seventies). In addition, if you’re looking for something to read besides EmptySinkPublishing.com, check out Connor FitzGerald’s review of Freedom, by Jeremy Griffith. It might just change your life.

We don’t just concentrate on the written word, however. We’re also publishing some incredible pieces in our Visual section. Artists Dani Orchard, Otha Davis III, and Tammy Ruggles each have beautiful entries, and there’s also mixed media offerings from Richard Baldasty—the enigmatic Snake—and Arizona Ocean, a joint effort by Travis Naught and Jennifer Barnes. Finally, we are very excited to publish the first part of Strange Fish, a graphic novel by N. Piatkoski. Strange Fish is a brilliant graphic novel that examines pop culture, pop technology, and the fine line between good and disgusting. The art is gorgeous, and there’s a misogynistic penguin as well—there’s a little something for everyone is what I’m trying to say.

Before you start reading, let me tell you a little more about Call Me Pomeroy. Each month, I will choose a piece as “Editor’s Choice.” These will be the pieces that stand out to me most in each issue—the pieces that not only speak to me, but that show me something I’ve never seen before. This month’s Editor’s Choice is Call Me Pomeroy, by James Hanna. I knew we had something special within the first two pages of this epic tale about a homeless vet who gets mixed up in the Occupy Protests of 2011. By the time I finished it, I knew we had to publish it—that we would be LUCKY to publish it. And we are—its irreverent, misogynistic narrator forces us all to look more closely at politics and life in general. As you read the story, think about which character’s actions would most closely resemble your own in the same situation. You may be surprised—and disappointed—by the answer. And despite all this, it is absolutely hilarious. If you don’t laugh out loud at least three different times during Call Me Pomeroy, seek medical attention immediately.

I know this has been a long intro, but I wanted to properly set the stage for the great works we have in this issue. We are proud that our contributors allowed us to publish their work, and we look forward to everything else we have in store for you in coming issues. In the meantime, keep reading, keep submitting, and most of all, enjoy the first issue of Empty Sink Publishing.

—E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor, 11/4/2013

Deadline for Issue 1 Has Passed

As of today, the submissions deadline for issue one of Empty Sink Publishing has passed. All submissions received after this date will be considered for future issues of the magazine.

The good news is that we received an overwhelming number of submissions for issue one–so many that we already have great content lined up for issues two and three. So while submissions are still more than welcome, please understand that accepted works may be published several months after the initial acceptance.

The great news is that we have some incredible stuff lined up for the first issue. You’ll read fiction about disgruntled workers at a greeting card company and a homeless man with delusions of grandeur (huge delusions, if you get what I’m saying, nudge nudge, wink wink). You’ll read poetry about the one time Jesus took the basketball court and drained two hundred straight shots, as well as what happens when a discovery to rival the Dead Sea Scrolls shows up in a suburban backyard. And you’ll see some truly amazing visual art: watercolors, collages, and mixed media all have a place in the first issue. And finally, you’ll get to see the wonder that is “Strange Fish,” the new graphic novel from N. Piatkoski!

Come back on November 4th to see what we have in store. And keep the submissions coming! The talent we’ve seen is amazing, and we’re proud to be associated with all our contributors–and we can’t wait to introduce you to them.

–E. Branden Hart, Executive Editor

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