Staff Spotlight

Get to know Mud Season Review staff members in an ongoing Q&A series. Learn more about their own writing as well as how they approach reading and reviewing submissions.

Olivia Box
Nonfiction Reader

Olivia Box
What made you want to read for Mud Season Review?

After moving to Vermont, I began searching for ways to get involved in the writing scene. One thing led to another, and I stumbled on Mud Season. I was really enamored with the title and began reading more.

How has reading for Mud Season Review informed your own work?

Every writer I’ve ever spoken with has said to read more of what you want to write, and being a reviewer for MSR has totally solidified that value that for me. Reading more CNF has made me more actively ask myself the questions I ask a submission, like: did this piece inform a new perspective, or what was the change? What was the overarching point? Why does this piece work?

What makes you want to send a submission to the editors for review?

It always comes down to the simple elements of storytelling (which are of course, hard to master and achieve). Maintaining a good story, a strong voice, and clarity. Too often I read well written submissions that don’t ever come to a more solid ending or point, and I’m left thinking, “They write beautifully, but—” …

What are you working on in your own writing practice?

Finishing things. I have been working on this piece about bees, ways of knowing, and pollination for months, circling back to the same few sections…

Cathy Beaudoin
Fiction Reader

Cathy Beaudoin
What made you want to read for Mud Season Review?

I joined MSR as a reader in 2015. At the time, I lived in Burlington, Vermont, and was an active member of the Burlington Writers Workshop. I was also in the middle of a transitioning from writing as an academic to writing fiction and nonfiction stories for literary journals. I knew if I volunteered as a fiction reader, it would force me to learn the nuances of the writing craft.

What do you write?

I write both fiction and creative nonfiction short stories. I started writing creative nonfiction because I wanted to document my journey as a blind woman. I knew there was endless medical information online. But stories about what it’s like to lose your vision as an adult are hard to come by. Once I was comfortable with my ability to write outside the world of academic research, I expanded into fiction. My fiction stories have dealt with issues such as immigration, war veterans and PTSD, homelessness, family, and the ways people cope with life.

What makes you want to send a submission up to the next level?

I’m looking for a story that makes me stop and think about something in a way I’ve never thought about before. Most of the time, that attribute is driven by a strong, unique voice. I want work that makes me think or feel something new or different. This sounds so simple, but I read submission after submission that may well be a cleanly written story but offers nothing new to think about. Touching someone’s soul with words is not easy to do. But the good writers, they know how to nail this.

What is your favorite thing about reading for MSR?

Selfishly, reading for MSR provides a constant reminder that if my writing is good enough, my stories will eventually get published. Also, being a reader helps me feel like I’m contributing to something bigger than myself. While I may be working alone most of the day, being a volunteer reader for MSR reminds me I am part of a community of writers and editors who are willing to donate valuable time to publishing good writing.