The Story Behind The Story, “The Chemistry of You and Me” Evelyn Ehrlich

I wish I had a quirky story about how I got the idea for THE CHEMISTRY OF YOU AND ME, but the reality is, Cameron just walked into my head one day. I knew I wanted to build his story with the periodic table as the foundation, and after that, the characters and the non-linear plot unfolded on its own as I went through each element. Some chapters–like Lithium and Oxygen–were planned, while others, like Manganese, completely surprised me but made perfect sense once I wrote them down. It’s almost as if Cam’s story already existed out there in the ether, and my job was to find the pieces and figure it out.

-Evelyn Ehrlich, author of “The Chemistry of You and Me”

To purchase volume III, click here.

The Story Behind The Story, “Halfway From” by Shelli Cornelison

I was driving when the spark for this story happened. A helicopter flew over and I looked up to see if it was the medical helicopter, the local news, or a military chopper. For some reason that made me start thinking about how helicopters are used for great things, like medical rescues or dumping water on fires, but how they can also be frightening for some people. Specifically people with PTSD, people for whom the sound of chopper blades might be related to unpleasant memories. I started to wonder about the varying degrees of suffering caused by PTSD, which became thoughts about the multiple forms of mental illness and addiction (hello, welcome to the rabbit hole that is my mind). Suddenly, I had an image of Ray on the porch swing. This was the first time I got a supporting character before the main character. But when I realized I was seeing him through Dawn’s eyes, it was on. She had a story to tell.

-Shelli Cornelison, author of “Halfway From”


To order a copy of volume three, go here. 

The Story Behind The Story, “Valentine’s Day” by Claudia Classon

Who hasn’t suffered from unrequited love–particularly the long-suffering high school kind?  In tenth grade I remember one particularly frustrating crush I had on a guy a year older than me who ignored every signal I aimed his way.  Just when I decided he was too into himself to ever have a girlfriend, he started going out with a girl in his class. Grr.  I finally got over the jerk and he graduated and went off to college the next year.  But then at the end of my senior year he came back and started hanging out with our theatre crowd again and my crush re-bloomed.  You guessed it: nothing happened.  I couldn’t really move on until I left for college myself.  P.S. he WAS too into himself to have a girlfriend.  So there.

– Claudia Classon author of “Valentine’s Day”


To order a copy of volume three, go here

The Story Behind The Story, “Just a Matter of Time” by Charity Tahmaseb

I was pondering time management and all the clichés that go with it, in particular everyone has the same twenty-four hours in a day. Then I thought: what if we don’t? What if those whizzes at time management are actually stealing time from the rest of us, leaving us to wander about, wondering where we’d left our car keys.

I put that notion into a high school setting, where there always seems to be a few teens who can breeze through everything. The only reasonable explanation is they really do have more than twenty-four hours in each day.

-Charity Tahmaseb, author of “Just a Matter of Time”


To order a copy of volume three, go here

The Story Behind The Story, “Her Tree Boy Blaze” by Lina Branter

Three separate things inspired my story. The first was a story someone told me about their brief stint in a remote boarding school. Apparently there was an old, abandoned cabin in the woods where students would go to hook up. Then I began to think about first sexual encounters and how even if you give official consent, it can still feel violating. I actually wrote a story about this but it never really worked well so I shelved it. Then I saw a call for submissions for stories about the Green Man (a figure in different world mythologies that represents nature and fertility)  and I realized that was the missing element to my previous story! I needed a Green Man!

-Lina Branter, author of “Her Tree Boy Blaze” follow her @linagordaneer

To order a copy of volume three, go here.  


The Story Behind The Story, A Different Kind Of Cute

I wrote this story for my thesis when I was a grad student at The Solstice Program at Pine Manor College. It came to me during a workshop where we were writing down memories from our teen years. The memory that came to me was sophomore year, homecoming. I had a WICKED crush on a soccer player—this was during my chubby year—and he and I had been doing a little flirty flirt in the hallway and at a few of his games. Homecoming came up and through friends, I was told that he wanted to meet me there. I was so psyched!

So I got together to get ready and drive to homecoming with 19 other girls all at my house. I have a picture of us all, posed in my living room in front of the fireplace. A picture that has circulated FB and was part of our slideshow at the 20 year reunion. We are coiffed and grinning, especially me. I wore a strapless dress because with my new chubby body came big boobs and the dress was black so I felt hot for the first time since putting on the extra 30 from freshmen year.

When I arrived at the dance, I saw him in the corner with his soccer friends and his little sister, who was in my algebra class, shuffled over and said that he wanted to dance with me. . . this was a boy who definitely was in a higher social stratosphere than me, and I was so nervous. A slow song came on and he and I locked eyes, like every teen movie from the 80s and 90s. We met in the middle of the dance floor and he wrapped me in his arms and we swayed together. . . and he gave me little (very wet) kisses on my bare neck. And then. . . .it’s kind of a blur when I look back, but I know there was the heavy stench of alcohol, and I know that he left the dance floor and returned, sweaty and smelling of both throw-up and alcohol.  I know there were slurred declarations of love and that he continued to wrap his arms and lips around me. . . in a way that required his sister to try and peel him off. . . I am pretty sure he was eventually escorted out of the dance. My one chance with my super crush was ruined. . . forever.  We never, ever spoke again for the rest of high school.

To order a copy of volume three, go here. (This is Hannah’s Amazon Author Page, which has all three volumes of Sucker.)

She is NO Sucker, Interview with Molly Cavanaugh, Senior Copyeditor Goddess

6 (somewhat) Random and 2 Serious Questions With Senior Editor Goddess Molly

1. Which story is your favorite from volume 2 and why? (I will not be offended if it isn’t mine J )

This is a tough one, obviously, because all the stories were so great, but since I guess I’m not allowed to say the Acknowledgments (even though there’s such a great shout-out to yours truly in it!), I think my favorite was “Do You Remember Fred?” It’s so hard-hitting, and it really packs in a lot into a very small space—I’m pretty sure it’s the shortest of any of the stories. And, though I wish it weren’t, it’s very realistic.

2. What song best describes your experience with editing stories for Sucker?

“Beautiful,” by Christina Aguilera, because a) wasn’t that a great song?, and b) I always hope the writers know we think their stories are beautiful in every single way, and that my critical words won’t bring them down! We’re just polishing already awesome work to help it stand out as the beautiful art it is.

3. You have detailed your journey with celiac disease on your (super funny and informative) blog Based On A Sprue Story. So, if I come to your house for dinner what would you make for me?

Thank you for the compliment on my blog! I never thought I’d get into blogging, but now I love it. Celiac disease translates to “gluten-free, not by choice.” Because I’m also vegetarian (that one is by choice), I might serve an Indian dinner (based on rice, legumes, and lots and lots of coconut milk); socca (a chickpea-flour pizza/flatbread thing sure to be the next foodie craze); or maybe pineapple fried rice with tofu—that’s on the menu for tonight! For dessert, maybe brownies, made with a blend of GF flours, or ice cream, which is usually GF unless it’s got chunks of glutenful cookies in it. Oh, and if what you’re really asking about is drinks, that’s easy: almost anything other than beer!

4. What advice do you have for writers who want to submit to us?

DO IT. But do it after you’ve given yourself some time to set aside your piece—for at least a few days—then reread and revise it. Ideally, get a second opinion or two from a friend. We love to help you edit, but considering how much competition there is for space, it’s best to come in with something already in good shape. Also, consider writing about male, bi/gay, or other-than-Caucasian characters. If you can do it well, you’ll really stand out in a sea of straight white girls. (No offense intended to straight white girls; I am one myself, after all.)

5. You are an editor by day (for pay!) as well as our editor. What has this career (so far) taught you about writing and publishing?

I’ve learned that everyone really does have an opinion on everything—even things you’d think nobody other than we copy-editing folks would care about, like commas or the spelling of the word tabbouleh (I work on a lot of cookbooks). You need to learn to tread carefully, and know when to cite an authority (the Chicago Manual of Style is God) and when to just let it go. Breaking the rules sometimes pays off. The fine line between “error” and “style” hasn’t become any clearer since I started; if anything it’s hazier.

6. Favorite punctuation mark and why?
Definitely parentheses (I guess that’s two marks). I’m not even going to try to count how many times I’ve used them in this interview, for example.

7. I make all the writers come up with a one-sentence tagline for their stories. Come up with a one-sentence tagline for your life so far.

Although I seem to have become a twenty-something living in New York, I assure you it’s nothing at all like Girls.

8. Did you edit these questions as you read them?  J

Just a little. ;)

Parental Discretion Is Advised

DISCLAIMER: The following material contains adult subject matter. Parental discretion is advised.

I’m serious. Tell the kids under 18 to leave. 

Okay, here is what has been in my head lately:

Literary masturbation=Self-publishing

I did not come up with the GENIUS analogy, that self-publishing is akin to masturbation. That credit belongs to John Winters in one of my favorite articles called “I’m aself-publishing failure”. Read the article. Very helpful. Very inspiring.

I mentioned the idea of literary masturbation and referred to John Winter’s article in a recent blog, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

GET OUT OF THE ROOM, CHILDREN! This is about to get very adult.

I republished MSW recently, and it felt awesome. A self-induced pleasure, of the publishing kind. There was that build up that goes on while revising and editing and proofing and then—bam—I hit “publish” and a rush of sensations and emotions went through me. I was left with a sweet calm inside, a satisfied contentment.

See how this analogy is PERFECT?!

Doing this act of self-pleasure is so, so much easier today and so much more acceptable than 10 years ago when I self-published MSW the first time. Though, some still say it is something to be ashamed of. But we will get to those hater-folks later.

Self-publishing is EASY, and it FEELS GOOD (most of the time, but more on that in another blog post). It’s faster than regular publishing, and you have all the control (see how this analogy really is perfect?). Regular, traditional publishing, however, is not analogous to any kind of sex, at least not in my experience.


Simply put, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get laid than to get published. I think all of us in the biz can agree with that.

DISCLAIMER: This is based on MY experience. SO no HATE MAIL from people who have had an easy, swinging time with their book deal.

So, people of earth, listen up, ALL of you. Yeah, you who just finished that first or second draft of a manuscript and are combing through The Writer’s Market   or Agent Query, and, yeah, you, too, writer who has received numerous positive rejections from a major publisher. And you, who have an MFA and have been published in several anthologies and magazines and have an agent and are on your sixth manuscript, even YOU, you need to listen and listen carefully.

Getting that book published will be a nearly impossible feat. Traditional publishing is like to getting into Brown, 8.9 percent.


ACTUALLY, hold on. I just googled this, and it’s a whole lot worse than that.

“Statistics?  I’ve heard that only 0.03 percent of all manuscripts submitted in the publishing industry in the United States each year actually get published.  That means out of every 10,000 manuscripts which are submitted, only 3 are actually published.”


So, BAD NEWS, folks. Getting published is a whole lot harder than getting into BROWN.

Everyone reading, take a deep breath. I’m sorry to have killed that buzz you had from all of your accomplishments as a writer and all of your efforts climbing the hill towards a book deal. I share that buzz-kill myself.

I know this news is devastating to a writer. Any writer. Newbie or seasoned vet. It devastates ME!

We writers crave to be heard and seen, and we NEED that release of publishing. Our words released to the public. It’s a rush. It’s fantastic.

Thus, that is why the following statistic is not surprising:

Almost 400,000 books were self published in 2012 according to Bowker. And the number of Self-Published Titles Grows Nearly 60% in 2012 according to the website

AND. . . The number of self-published books has quadrupled from 2007 to now!

Now, about those hater-folks. . . Sure, many people who have solid careers as authors and writers claim that those of us who self-publish are narcissistic animals who don’t have the talent to earn the right of a publisher to consider us. I was reading a thread about us no-talent animals and couldn’t believe how ANGRY some people are about those of us who have self-published.

And to those people I say, I am not offended by your opinion. What you claim about us is true sometimes and in some cases. But, I would make the same claim to those in the non-self-published category. There are a lot of narcissistic animals who do get book deals and who have ZERO talent and who have definitely NOT earned the right to get published. Can we all say the word “celebrities”?

But this is not a post about being MAD at folks who hate on us self-published animals. Nor is this a blog lamenting the woes of a self-published author. Nor a post about hating celebrity authors. Some write damn fine stuff. Jamie Lee Curtis has a children’s book I really enjoy called, When I Was Little.

This is post about WHY I chose to and still do, to a certain extent, self-publish. . . even though for all of these 10 years that I’ve been out there I have had an agent, had work published in lit. mags, newspapers, etc. . .even though I have the resume and experience that would indicate a book deal is around the corner. Even though I still very much want and am striving to be published by a traditional publisher. And by the way, there are a lot of us, like me, who have many years, decades into this business and have not reaped the equal and opposite rewards that both experience and talent warrant in EVER OTHER F*$KING PROFESSION.

Yes, I do think I am (somewhat) talented, and finally, I feel and know and understand that talent alone is not what helps you get a book deal. The elusive market is an enormous factor.

Look, it’s been wizards, vampires, and porn for the last decade. My shit doesn’t line up with that. But this could be the year of voicey, contemporary YA fiction. A girl can only dream.

Years ago, when I won the first place award from WD self-pub contest a few folks likened me to the next Judy Blume. I thought, wow, my dreams are coming true because (like many YA writers in my age bracket) when I was nine and reading Judy Blume, I felt, in my whole body, that some day I would write books like hers and people would love those books—I would become a real author.

And it looked like I was on that path ten years ago, when I hit publish and sold over a thousand books pretty quickly and got an agent. . .

While I still am on the path and haven’t arrived at the destination, I have continued to self-publish.

Why am I replaying this tune on self-publishing? Because I republished MSW as a ten year anniversary gift to myself. The original had a lot of errors, and I wanted to clean it up and make it look prettier. I did this republish solely por moi. The decision is a little like a choice for cosmetic surgery. Like a facelift or Botox. While I haven’t done either of those yet, never say never, and I don’t judge those who do. I suppose that this choice really was narcissistic. But it also was for the small group of readers who continue to email me about my Maddie books and who are rooting for me.

The feeling I got when I republished MSW. . .  was good. I mean that good.  Sorry, but it’s true. IT felt SOOOO good.

To republish it using ten years of wisdom was very cathartic. No, I didn’t rewrite the entire thing like I wanted to, that wasn’t my intention. But I gave it a face-lift, so I could feel really good about it being out there. Because, believe it or not, that book continues to sell!

AND. . . That is why, after receiving over 50 rejections for my short story anthology Big, Fat, Broken Hearts a few years ago, I decided to self-publish a literary anthology that would feature my (rejected) short fiction as well as all those other writers out there who were in need of that good feeling that publishing gives.

In just a little over a week, I will self-publish again (along with my staff). Sucker Literary, volume 3. And it will feel DAMNED GOOD!

But guess what, so will getting a book deal. And I don’t think that the two are mutually exclusive.

So keep writing and keep climbing the mountain. But don’t be afraid to take care of yourself once in awhile.














Bullied and alone, Ainsley seeks refuge in the arms of a strange boy. Time is slipping away for overachieving Sadie Lin, but reigniting an old flame might help. Scarred by a pressuring ex, Alexandra finally faces the rain. “Pasty and chubby” Charlotte makes a public play for the “Tan and Smooth” king. The beautiful girl in the black, lacy push-up bra says that it’s time for Brenn to stop lying . . . at least to herself. A halfway house is no home for Dawn—or is it? How will Dana survive knowing everyone at school thinks she’s a monster, when they just may be right? JJ and her crush finally get a moment alone—at his girlfriend’s hottest party of the year. Sixteen-year old Sarah prepares for her first day of school by chaining up her Mamí in her bedroom. Alyssa’s life is a well-rehearsed ballet until a tragedy sends her hurtling towards a fall. Loving a boy is as simple as chemistry . . . unless that boy is an unstable element.

Eleven stories that delve into the depths of our experience—driven by fierce and untouched love that makes us seek, lose, fear, desire, long, reflect, survive, steal, protect, fall, and confess.

Book Trailer

Twitter: @suckerlitmag

Sucker Literary Volume 3

Available April 15, 2014

Add it on Goodreads!

Founding Editor:

Hannah R. Goodman


The H8TE Lilliam Rivera

Valentine’s Day Claudia Classon 

Halfway From Shelli Cornelison

Her Tree Boy Blaze Lina Branter

How To Fall Kacey Vanderkarr 

If it Rains Kristina Wojtaszek

Black Lacy  Kimberly Kreines

Superpower Mary Malhotra 

The Chemistry of You and Me Evelyn Ehrlich

Just a Matter of Time Charity Tahmaseb

A Different Kind of Cute Hannah R. Goodman