2018 Was a Banner Year: A Look Back & A Look Ahead — from the editor

kevin, rebecca and donna holding rebeccas book

I’ve gotten away from adding an editor’s note with each new issue, but I will kick off the new year with one!

Since our first issue in May 2011, Hippocampus Magazine has been growing steadily. First the online magazine, then an annual creative nonfiction writing conference. In 2018, we celebrated another major milestone: our small press division launched its first two single-author books!

Key Moments of 2018

Perhaps what I’m most proud of this year is bringing two books to market. It was an absolute delight to work with Rebecca Fish Ewan and Sam Chiarelli. When you start a new press, someone has to be the first. And, for an author, that could be scary. These two authors put their faith in us, in me. I consider that an incredible honor, and I am thrilled to have played a part at getting these two amazing books out into the world, and thrilled they are the two books that will pave the way for others. It was also a joy to work with designers Lindsay Smuck and Jocelyn Park, who brought these books to life with their creative vision and skill.

donna, sam, and kevin, with sam's book and dinosaur bones behind us

As I reflect back on the last 12 months, I am overjoyed and proud and all-the-feels about all that we’ve done.

More Hippo Highlights from 2018

story slam winners hipocamp 2018

  • AWP off-site reading with Under the Gum Tree, Riverteeth and Fourth Genre – Tampa, Florida – March
  • Released By the Forces of Gravity by Rebecca Fish Ewan (BFOG) – June
  • Launch party for BFOG in Tempe, Arizona, where the author presently lives – June
  • Launch party for BFOG in Berkeley, California, where the author grew up and where the book took place – June
  • HippoCamp: A Conference for Creative Nonfiction Writers – our fourth one! – August
  • Hippocampus and Under the Gum Tree reading in Sacramento, CA with our contributors Risa Nye, Joey Garcia, and Dorothy Rice – October
  • Released Dig: A Personal Prehistoric Journey by Sam Chiarelli – November
  • Launch party for Dig at the Everhart Museum in Scranton, PA – November
  • 10 issues!
  • Announcement of contributors for Air: A Radio Anthology
  • Call for submissions for three new anthologies: diners, small town papers, mom and pop shops. (The latter two are still open until March 15)


In addition, we worked with several great interns, welcomed new volunteer staff members, were fortunate enough to appear on some awesome podcasts (ASJA, CNF Pod, Brevity) or be featured in some local and industry blogs and publications.

We also were so excited to see many of our past contributors (and staff members) release books this year — or announce their forthcoming books — including Lisa Romeo, Sandra Gail Lambert, Reema Zaman, Paul Crenshaw, Karen Babine, Steph Auteri, Amy Fish, A.A. Weiss, Huda Al-Marashi, Suzanne Farrell Smith, Anika Fajardo, Amye Archer — and if I am leaving anyone out, email me! I’m writing this from memory during a residency program! In fact, we see so many success stories that we re-launched our Contributor Updates column so we can more regularly share good news!

What’s to Come in 2019

We look forward to reading YOUR work:

cover of air - A looks looks like a radio towerBeginning in 2019, to give more lead time between issues, we’re going bi-monthly, with two single issues ending the year. So, Jan/Feb, March/April, May/June, July/Aug, Sept/Oct, Nov (contest), and Dec (theme). Each new month (meaning also the second month of our double-issues) will feature new writing life and craft columns and reviews.

Like hundreds of other magazines, presses, writing programs, author services companies, and literary organizations, we’re looking forward to heading to AWP in Portland, Oregon this year. This conference is always one of the highlights of our year because we often get to meet our contributors face-to-face for the first time, as well as reconnect with folks that we only get to see at AWP.

We’re also looking forward to the launch of Air: A Radio Anthology, a project that was put on hold a bit as we spent 2018 working on By the Forces of Gravity and Dig. You can now pre-order our new collection, and it will officially be released in late March. (We’ll have copies at AWP!)

In the late winter/early spring, we’ll also announce our line-up for the 2019/2020 book publishing schedule.

In the spring, we’ll open up submissions for our annual Remember in November Contest in Creative Nonfiction. And, as of 2019, we’re moving our annual theme issue from July to December, so this spring we’ll also announce our theme!

In the summer of 2019, we’ll celebrate our 100th issue, and we’ll have something fun planned for that!

We also plan to attend more book fairs and festivals since we now have a tangible product to showcase.

Finally, this August, we’ll hold our fifth annual conference for creative nonfiction writers, HippoCamp, in Lancaster, PA. Save the date: Aug. 23-25! Registration begins in February. And our keynote announcement(s) are coming soon, too!

BONUS: We’ll also be unveiling some new in-person and online learning opportunities!


A Heartfelt Thanks & Real Talk

tony and pamela from hippocampus at awp 2016

Hippocampus has an excellent and dedicated team of volunteers. Without them, our publication would not be possible. Thank you to our team of readers and editors, some who’ve been with us since the beginning! Your belief in me and willingness to join me on this adventure means the world. Over the past couple years, we’ve introduced section editor and social media editor positions, which has been an amazing addition to our team.

I don’t often share the behind-the-scenes, personal feelings online much. But we’re a family here, right? So time to open up about some personal challenges and concerns. As most people know, running a literary magazine is a labor of love, fueled by personal funds and lots of heart. We’ve seen some literary organizations evolve, scale back, or close over the past few years. I often think about the future of Hippocampus. Let me be more honest here. What I meant to say is that I often stress about the future of Hippocampus.

Challenges will continue to affect free, online publications like ours — it’s certainly a delicate balancing act working a full-time day job, while trying to keep this passion project going. To be honest, this sacrifice of time and money is sometimes hard to explain, especially to those in my life outside the literary world (and, sometimes, my partner); I often justify putting savings or portions of my paycheck into Hippocampus because we don’t have children (yet?) — so you could say I consider this magazine to be my dependent!

You could also say giving in this capacity to the writing community is my form of literary citizenship, and it continues to be the most rewarding thing I’ve done and that I do. While it’s not a revenue-generating endeavor (yet!), the payment, for me, continues to be the joy of sharing stories. The joy of readers relating to these true stories. The joy of seeing writers we’ve published go on to sign book deals, begin teaching careers, lead their own magazines or events, and other successes. The joy of making new friends, near and far. THAT is what keeps me going. THAT is what keeps me excited.

It is my hope, my wish that our conference and new small press will eventually help fund the magazine, which is still the life-blood of what we do. I keep reminding myself that it always takes a few years for any business endeavor, literary or otherwise, to see a return. And I think our day is coming soon. I truly do. While our wallet and resources may be stretched thin, our heart and soul is exploding with all the feels. Whenever I think of giving up, YOU keep me going. Thank you for the support over the years, and thank you for your support heading into another year of memorable creative nonfiction.


All the best for a productive 2019!

Donna Talarico, Founder & Publisher


Extra! Extra!

Here’s a video from the launch party for By the Forces of Gravity, an amazing illustrated memoir told in free verse:


And here’s a video from Sam’s launch party:


Photos, from top to bottom:

  • Kevin Beerman, Rebecca Fish Ewan, and Donna Talarico in Tempe, Arizona, June 2018
  • Donna Talarico, Sam Chiarelli, and Kevin Beerman in Scranton, Pennsylvania, November 2018
  • HippoCamp 2018 Story Slam winners and production team: Jim Breslin, Rae Pagliarulo, Carla Wilson, Elane Johnson, Allison K Williams, Donna Talarico, Terry Heyman
  • Cover of Air
  • Long-time staff members (and former contributors!) Anthony J. Mohr and Pamela Ramos Langley at AWP 2016 in LA

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