Editor’s Notes: October 2011

donna talarico in viking hat and beer goddess t-shirt

This month's silly shirt is my Beer Goddess shirt, a tee I bought at the annual Great Brews from Across America Beer Fest many years ago. Two years ago, I detracted attention from the shirt by donning a colorful viking hat. Coincidentally, I met my current boyfriend that day. Yep. While dressed like this.

October is my favorite month, mostly because I adore orange and prefer pumpkin-flavored craft beer to any other seasonal on tap. I love the chilly air and the changing of the leaves—I live in one of the best states for fall foliage!—and I hop on every haunted hayride and enter, at my own risk, as many haunted houses as possible between now and November. I love to be scared. (Even when the result is a chainsaw-wielding masked man sending me straight onto a stranger’s lap, snuggled into his shoulder for the rest of the hayride—and then meeting his wife, who was sitting to his right the whole time, when we arrived back at the farm.)

What terrifies you? I mean, really frightens you to the point where you triple-check that closet door and, perhaps, force yourself to stay awake, in fear of slipping into a horrifying nightmare? For a young Ben Jolivet, it was the Time-Life Mysteries of the Unknown commercials. When I first read the intro of Ben’s essay, I reflected on this startling image: a pencil drawing of an alien with an egg-shaped head and really large, oval eyes—but the kicker was that sketches drawn by others who had experienced close encounters looked—dunt, dunt, duh!—Exactly. The. Same. I, too, grew up in the 80s and got the heebie-jeebies from these haunting ads—but Ben’s experience was a tad bit more complicated. And we’re glad he wrote about it–a very fitting essay for October.  >> Read The Thing That Worked.

Halloween may not be until the very last day of my favorite month, but we’re leaving the proverbial porch light on all through October—we hope you’ll find this issue a bagful of literary goodies (no calories, no razors).

Also In This Issue

Creative Nonfiction

In addition to Ben’s 80s commercials, this month’s issue pours with nostalgia. Mary-Colleen Jenkins opens up boxes of her past and talks about a dying art in “Flat Rate Archives”, while in “What to Do When You Grow Tired of Everything”, Marti Trgovich parts ways with meaningful items while consolidating belongings. Alvin Burstein, in “How I Got to Be None of the Above”, reminisces about his Orthodox Jewish youth, while Amalia Pistilli Conrad tells a gripping story of mental illness in an unorthodox way in “1968: Chaos and Turmoil,  in the Streets, in our Bedroom”. Vanessa Chastain Rivas grapples with being a “Perfectionist” in an essay of the same name. Finally, in “Reading the Feminine Mystique in Norman Mailer’s Home”, Deirdre Sinnott spends time reflecting during a week-long retreat at the literary icon’s house—the same week his wife, Norris Church Mailer passes away.

Interviews and Reviews

Interviews Editor Amye Archer talks with memoirist Beverly Donofrio (Riding in Cars with Boys). You’ll learn what Bev thinks of today’s memoir—and how she really feels about James Frey. Guest contributor V.E. Duncan interviews mensah demary about his Hippocampus essay “Depressive Episodes” (June). (V.E. was so intrigued by the piece she just had to learn more!) And, Pauline M. Campos reviews Chitoka Webb’s memoir, Something Inside Me: How to Hang on to Heaven When You Are Going Through Hell.


Also in this issue we officially debut our enhanced article section with two departments: The Writing Life and Craft (not to be confused with the craft beers I mentioned in my opening sentence). In her craft article, Donna Steiner reminds us to write for ourselves first. Two contributors give us a glimpse into The Writing Life. Will Henderson introduces us to his writing journey—which began with crayons and a wall– while Lisa Ahn takes us along as she observes Lake Eola in Orlando, Fla.

New This Issue

Reader engagement is one of signature attributes. We enhance that this issue with the introduction of {prompts}, a monthly writing prompt for the Hippocampus audience. A selection of submitted CNF shorts will appear in the following month’s issue, where a new assignment will also appear. Also new this issue is Insider Tips, a recurring series in which members of our reading panel and editorial staff share advice about submitting to Hippocampus Magazine. We hope you find this helpful! The first Q & A style advice column is from Lori M. Myers.

Last Issue Notes

The Most Memorable story for September 2011 was a close call. Lori M. Myer’s “Word” resonated with our readers and spawned lots of heartfelt comments; definitely made an emotional impact. The story was also happily shared many times on Facebook. Nicole Oquendo’s “Urns” received the most Facebook activity, while Anika Fajardo’s “Playing Poohsticks” drew a significant amount of traffic and social media buzz. The winner of last month’s title, however, goes to a repeat winner. Nathan Evans’ “Firsts” received the most comments, as well as drew the most original page views. Nathan also was our first Most Memorable winner for his May 2011 essay, “Vaseline”. Nathan will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.

Next Issue Notes

November will be so super exciting! The winners of the Remember in November Contest for Creative Nonfiction will be announced and published–finalists have been selected (and will be notified individually very soon)! Plus, the first edition of {prompts] will appear.

Once again, thanks for reading and interacting with Hippocampus! Here’s to a month full of spicy beer, scary movies and colorful leaves! And fresh creative nonfiction.


Donna Talarico

P.S. What is YOUR favorite Oktoberfest-ish beer? Do tell!

P.P.S. Oh. My. Goodness. Ben, don’t click here.

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