Welcome to Reads & Eats!

Exploring American food, showcasing new writers, and more

Hello, everyone! Some of you are here from my old newsletter. I’m switching it up a little bit for the foreseeable future, and I hope you will stay with me. You’ll still get news on where I’m appearing, but I have some new things to share with you.

Here’s what to expect going forward.

What is it about mac ‘n’ cheese?

First, I’m going to share my strange obsession with American food with you. Why do I call it a strange obsession? Well, I grew up in a home where my mom cooked beautiful, four-course meals every night for dinner, and still! I adore one-pot meals like tuna casserole over everything.

I mean! The snacks in my home country of Taiwan check all my boxes—savory, varietal, meaty, super-sweet, textured—and I still can’t let go of my predilection for nuclear-orange-colored, cheese-flavored snacks.

In short, the food I grew up with is the stuff of dreams, and yet, there is so much about American food I love and want to understand.

So I’ll be using some of the reporting, researching, and writing skills I’ve picked up over the years to take deep dives into things like macaroni and cheese; soft-serve ice cream; probably casseroles again; and yes, even egg rolls, because guess what? That sh*t is straight-up American, people. (Also, the club sandwich. I feel a deep need to understand the club sandwich and its many, many layers of bread.)

Me and Dave Grohl

Second! Last year I expressed a serious desire to become the Dave Grohl of the writing world. What does that mean? Pretty frequently, Dave Grohl, lead singer of the Foo Fighters, invites random people up on stage to perform with the band. Like, from the audience.

These people are predictably thrilled to bits. They cannot believe their luck. But the real magic, I think, comes when they leave. They are sky-high. They have played with the big dogs. Their futures will never be the same, because Dave Grohl gave them confidence by sharing his space with them.

I have some experience with this. In my past as an editor at literary magazines, I have published people who have never been published before. Watching these people then go on to robust publishing lives is the best. I want to do it again, by sharing my Dave-Grohl stage: Every month, this newsletter will also feature a space for a new or emerging voice in writing. This writer will get paid.

If you are new to publishing and BIPOC, disabled, neuro-atypical, LGBTQIA+, or otherwise under-represented (for “new to publishing,” please read “published five or fewer times, and never in book form”), please send me an email with an essay or a short story (750 words or fewer) related to food pasted into the body. Here is the email address: readseats@gmail.com

I will pay you for your work ($100 for now, via Venmo or PayPal only) and am buying First Internet and Online Rights only. (The rights revert to you once I’m done.) I will also work with you to edit it if the piece needs it, so you get the experience of working with a pro editor (my LinkedIn profile is here) and you get paid. There is no reading fee, but I can only accept up to 25 submissions per month. If you submit and I’ve reached my cap, you will get an auto-reply. Please submit the following month.

If you are not new to publishing and BIPOC, disabled, neuro-atypical, LGBTQIA+, or otherwise underrepresented—don’t submit. Please. There are a million other places you can publish. Trust me.

When will this all happen?

The deadline for submissions each month is the 8th or until I reach 25 submissions in my inbox.

I’m looking for the first issue to go out August 30, 2020. That will give me time to write the first column and also to select and work with my first guest columnist. (The first issue’s deadline is August 8.)

I’m really, really excited. I hope you are, too.

Whoa, why is there a paywall when your newsletter used to be free?

Your fee helps me to keep on editing people’s work and publishing them without getting the dreaded volunteer fatigue. (Work is time, and time is money. That goes for whether you’re a plumber, a lawyer, or a writer and editor. Many editors at literary magazines aren’t paid at all. It’s time to break that cycle.)

I also want the people who publish with me to know that creative work is worth something. Finally, your fee also helps me to keep on producing readable, informative content. How fun is that?

I do want as many people’s eyeballs on new writers’ work as possible, so their content will always be available without a paywall. (Paying subscribers will get a newsletter that features both my work and the contributor’s work.)

Thank you so much for reading! I look forward to hearing from you if you have comments or questions.

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