How to Get Accepted By Glimmer Train (as of Winter 2015)


I enjoy reading issues of Glimmer Train, and this one in particular had some great offerings. Even the stories I disliked the most had something worthwhile to provide. I can find short stories in many places, but the ones in Glimmer Train reveal the best path to a first ever publishing. Here are my previous reviews, from the worst story to the best:

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Glimmer Train Winter 2015: “Transit,” by Gillian Burnes


We end the Winter 2015 issue of Glimmer Train as we began it— with a globe-hopping look at how every life interconnects. And, would you believe it, it’s even more plotless than “Number 41” was! That’s not all bad. Like I said, some stories move along by theme instead of plot. And in a couple of those stories, theme’s all you got. I loved “Number 41” like a comfort pillow. “Transit”’s more like bubble wrap… fun and cozy, to be sure, but not as substantial or even as appealing as such a pillow.

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Glimmer Train Winter 2015: “If She Doesn’t Answer” by David Ebenbach

On occasion, you need to reclaim your love of reading. It’s easy to get bogged down in what you’re supposed to read, or what’s good for you to read. You forget why you even bother in the first place. Unlike other, good Glimmer Train offerings, “If She Doesn’t Answer” fills me with the urge to scream and tell the world how fuckin’ great this story is. That’s hard to do when writing a reasoned critique. So imagine me typing all this with my hair on fire, my eyes bulging, and my fingers quicker than lightning, if you want to get a sense of how this short story excites me.

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Glimmer Train Winter 2015: “Dumb Down,” by Hugh Burkhart

Any writer will tell you how hard it is to make good art, but some aspects of the craft are easier than others. Let’s say you want to tell a traditional tempted-by-old-flame story, like “Dumb Down” does. How do you convince your audience that this hot lady is worth committing infidelity over? Simple: don’t describe the wife at all! Hard to get upset over the betrayal of someone you barely know. Allison, the wife of protagonist Dave, only has an arched eyebrow as a defining character trait. “There was a time when that was all she would have to do to get me to ravish her right there…” (Burkhart, 202) muses Dave. Now Dave has his eye on Kerry Pigeon, wife (former?) of college friend Hal. In our first look at Kerry, we see her “Barefoot in worn jeans and a T-shirt, blond hair tousled… she was more woman than any of the college girls I’d been with, sensual in a way they could never be,” (Burkhart, 204). Yeah, there’s no way “eyebrow not as sexy as before” can compete with that.

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Glimmer Train Winter 2015: “What It Means To Rush,” by Natasha Tamate Weiss


Don’t let anyone tell you that authors can’t connect with people different to them. I now have “What It Means To Rush” as proof that a writer’s greatest tool is empathy. The author, Natasha Tamate Weiss, has a different gender, ethnicity, environment, and childhood than me. Yet her short story captured my experiences as a kid on a long road trip across America. The subdued breakfasts at motels, the desperate glances out the car window to find something interesting, the conversations with oversharing strangers, the bored/annoying brother, the desperation to find suitable food late at night… Weiss explores vacation hallmarks familiar to me, but she expands on them with sharp metaphors and two bookends that transform “What It Means To Rush” into more than a travelogue. Am I positive now because I spent these last few weeks workshopping amateur class offerings? Well, maybe… maybe I’m learning to appreciate how hard it is to write well.

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Glimmer Train Winter 2015: “Ghostly Seduction” by Chuck Tingle


I know. I know! Yes, I just read one of the early works of that Chuck Tingle, the popular author behind esteemed classics Gay T-Rex Law Firm Executive Boner, Pounded By The Pound: Turned Gay By The Socioeconomic Implications of Britain Leaving the European Union, and the unforgettable Pokebutt Go: Pounded By ‘Em All. And here he is, in an old issue of Glimmer Train. He’s gotta pay the bills somehow, I suppose. I’ve never read any of Tingle’s books before. They seemed like novelty items. But I can tell you, straight away, that this Glimmer Train submission is his finest work. Why? Well, it got published in Glimmer Train, of course! No, but beyond that: this story’s exquisite mastery of metaphor reveals how much wisdom a writer can convey in such elegant and (dare I say it?) tight prose.

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Glimmer Train Winter 2015: “Keller’s Ranch,” by Ming Holden


“Keller’s Ranch” discusses a lot of things, yet hardly anything at all. The story shares a lot of traits with Glimmer Train’s other occasional meandering, self-indulgent, plotless offerings. But, in contrast, there’s no pretentiousness in this one. “Keller’s Ranch” does tap into a truth about life, as sloppy as this truth ends up on the page.

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