Tips from the Editors: Poetry

While I myself am a perfectionist at heart, sometimes so much so that it is my absolute detriment, I have come to learn that imperfection in poetry is where beauty often abounds.  As I have read through the submissions for our next un-themed issue (and as I am still reading – if you haven’t heard back yet don’t worry, I’m still wading through the submissions pool) I have noticed that the moments that grab me are the unexpected ones.  My breath catches when I read a line that makes no sense yet makes perfect sense or a stanza that stops me so that I can examine each word once more.  These are the moments that could be seen as imperfect in a poem, but that in the wild and unruly world of modern poetry create the spark that fans a thought or a word into a fiery work of art.

I can’t say that I really understood this concept until I took a poetry class in my final semester of my undergraduate degree.  Up until this point poetry seemed like something to be admired from afar and handled with crisp white gloves and feather dusters – something to be kept behind glass and not messed with for fear of breaking something as fragile as a sonnet or a villanelle.  I realized in this poetry class, however, that the fragility of poetry is a myth that I taught myself as I fed my poetic imagination a steady diet of classical poetry.  While I greatly admire classic forms and structure, I realize now that my favorite poems are those that play with structure just enough to leave me guessing what comes next or that switch the form up just enough that it’s fresh and exciting.  While knowing all the rules is important in writing poetry, it’s knowing when to break them, when to bring in the imperfections, that makes a poem magnificent.

So my tip to you, dear reader, is this: mess around with your word choice, your syntax, your synonyms and metaphors.  Don’t just admire the poetry canon from afar, dive in and make ripples everywhere your mind travels.  Perfection is overrated, anyway, and beauty lies in the crumpled up moments that you were about to throw away with yesterday’s newspaper but decided to take one more look at.  There’s beauty in catastrophe.



poetry editor

Submissions are Closed & Happy New Year!

As we wrap up 2017, we are also wrapping up submissions here at borrowed solace.  It’s been a crazy year launching the journal and releasing our very first issue, and it’s crazy to think that we are already closing down submissions for our second issue!  We are so pleased with how everything has been going thus far and couldn’t be here without each and every one of you reading this.  This round we received so many submissions and had more visitors to than ever.  With your help, the journal is truly starting to take off!

Stay tuned for more – our second edition will be coming out in late spring 2018 and then our third (!!) issue will come out in fall 2018.  We’re constantly thinking of ways to grow borrowed solace and have lots of ideas in the works.

Thanks for a fantastic year, a great second round of submissions, and, once again, thank you so much for submitting and entrusting us with your words!  It’s a big decision, sending your work out into the world, and we so appreciate your thinking of us when doing so.  We’re excited for whats to come and are excited to have you along for the ride. Here’s to the New Year!

Tips from the Editors: Nonfiction

What Makes Creative Nonfiction Good? The (1/4) Creativity

One of the things that makes nonfiction such a compelling genre is the role that truth and reality play in it. Fiction can be anything you want, but nonfiction must be based on real events, people, or experiences. This may sound like a limitation to most, but it has always been a benefit when correctly used.

As we established, nonfiction is built upon the truth. However, memory is not perfect. There will be details that are forgotten, qualities changed, and conversations manipulated. As much as an author may try, these changes in composition are inevitable. These faults are due to the fluid nature of memory. Whenever we recollect something our brain is constantly changing it as it tries to recall.

When you sit down and start remembering interactions to write about it may be difficult at first. Slowly it will come back, and you will be able to recall the memory entirely. Well, most of it. There will most likely be patches that are vague, or pieces missing. How was the room laid out? What was that person wearing? These holes are perfect areas to utilize the creative part of nonfiction. They allow a little wiggle room for the author to play around and immerse the reader in the experience they had. Though the scene may not be accurate to the reality that occurred, it is accurate to your memory of reality (memoir is the best for this, journalistic pieces are tricky and should be as close to reality as possible).

The next time you have trouble remembering something exactly as it happened, understand that it is an opportunity to explore the creative craft and steep the reader in your experience of reality, rather than a limitation.


Nicole Taylor

nonfiction editor

Tips From the Editors: Art & Photography

I am a writer by night, a painter by early morning, an editor for both the journal and for Great River Learning by day, and a half exhausted pigeon by mid-evening. But nonetheless I like to use art as a writer to become inspired. Writing is a form of art, yes, very true, but all art in my opinion has its own unique beauty and value to it. I paint on canvas, one of my many hobbies. I like to paint with acrylics and create abstract forms to see where my mind and creative hand lead me. It honestly, and quite frankly, usually leads to something horrible.  A second grader could do much better than I.  Yet all art, and writing, only take a little bit of talent and imagination, but also lots of practice and hard work. 

Moving on from painting, what we receive is mainly photography submissions, which is great! Since we receive so many photography submission, I would like to provide one tip for photographers that will help give their art a higher chance of acceptance. I recently just bought a Fujifilm Instant Camera, with the old style Polaroid film. As soon as you take the picture, with a click and a crackle slides out the blank white slice of film and you can watch the picture appear without a black light. The first photo I took was of my beautiful curvy pug and  made me realize the lighting, her position, and the background. 

I notice the background in photos probably the most. When I can view a photo from several angles of zooming in or out and side to side that is what makes a photo successfully and gives it a really high change of getting selected to get published by this journal.  Why is setting the scene and utilizing angles the most important tip you might ask? My philosophy is that art should be viewed and used to put in front of people’s eyes so that they can’t miss the beauty of the photographer’s eye that can capture a stunning moment like a child at the end of a dark tunnel bathed in sunlight, or a bush of roses. These two photos had the light, position, and background to make one gaze upon the images with wonder.

Art is fun, so be creative, be open minded, and look for what catches your eye because everyone interprets art a little different.


Nicole McConnell

executive/art editor

The 411: Poetry

*As we prepare to open submissions for issue two (!), our first unthemed journal, we want to give you the inside scoop on what each of our editors are looking for in their respective genres.  Stay tuned for a guest post from each editor!*

So what do I look for in poetry?  That question initially seemed harder to answer without a theme than with one, but I have realized that is not the case.  Good writing is good writing, regardless of theme.

When you submit poetry to borrowed solace, submit your best work.  Yes, that means to follow our submission guidelines and make sure your poems align with what we at borrowed solace represent, but that also means that your submissions should come from the heart.  Sometimes that means a poem written about something you are passionate about, or other times the topic is an event that happened to you, but it should always be something heartfelt and real.

Send me poems that are heart-wrenching, that make me laugh out loud while I’m reading.  Send me poems that experiment with all the things that make up a poem but that never let go of a some sort of universal truth or understanding about the world.  Explore with your words, and make me delight in your journey.  Send your best most provocative work!



The 411: Nonfiction

*As we prepare to open submissions for issue two (!), our first unthemed journal, we want to give you the inside scoop on what each of our editors are looking for in their respective genres.  Stay tuned for a guest post from each editor!*

Though this upcoming issue is without a theme, that doesn’t mean that “anything goes” for submissions; it simply means that I have a wider lens of view. There is still a goal I keep in mind while selecting submissions for nonfiction– to maintain a standard of literary excellence and beauty.

I want pieces that captivate the senses with vivid imagery, pieces that tell the unfettered truth in compelling ways, and pieces that engage the mind with harrowing tales of reality. Creative nonfiction is unique in this way as it operates in truth and reality, but becomes functional literary material when it is infused with careful crafting. Send forth your flash pieces, your short memoirs, your essays, and your moments in time! I look forward to reading them!


-Nicole Taylor

The 411: Fiction

*As we prepare to open submissions for issue two (!), our first unthemed journal, we want to give you the inside scoop on what each of our editors are looking for in their respective genres.  Stay tuned for a guest post from each editor!*

What am I looking for in fiction? There’s no theme this go around so I’m not looking for anything too specific.

You know what that means?

That means I want anything and everything. I want to feel. To laugh. I want pieces that grip into me and refuse to let go until I‘ve reached the very last word on the very last page. I want to be afraid. To be sad. I want to be stunned to the verge of speechlessness.

I want it all.

Submit what moves you, submit those pieces you’re passionate about, be it genre, literary, or flash…heck I’ll take a thousand two sentence stories—that was a joke, please don’t send in a thousand (I would like to survive to the next journal edition.) Let’s say up to fifty per person…yeah, that seems more reasonable—submit it all.



The 411: Art

*As we prepare to open submissions for issue two (!), our first unthemed journal, we want to give you the inside scoop on what each of our editors are looking for in their respective genres.  Stay tuned for a guest post from each editor!*


Hello happy artists and photographers! I can’t wait for what you will submit for our non-themed journal; and am excited to see what you come up with. I am looking for art that will do two things: one, take my breath away, and two, inspire me.  I’m hoping to find art that has a personality and pictures that want to make me write a thousand words. I want the readers and viewers and onlookers of borrowed solace to appreciate art, stop to look, study, and be amazed. We welcome the inspiring, moving, gasping kind of art for our upcoming journal, and I can’t wait to see what comes my way!


-Nicole McConnell


One Week!

*Check the blog for updates and the inside scoop on where we’re at with the upcoming edition of the journal!*

One week! One week! One week!

I think that’s all us editors can think about lately as a week from now, Hinterlands will be coming to a metaphorical newsstand near you.

We so appreciate your support in this monumental endeavor we’ve taken on to create a literary journal for those in need of solace.  And while we are certainly looking ahead to when Hinterlands comes out next week, we are also looking ahead to our next un-themed issue and are looking forward to starting the submission process all over again.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all of your support!  We are so very excited for what’s to come in just one short week!