• claudiaelangella

Week Five: Strides Toward Submissions for the Secret Project!

Grace Tinneny is a rising junior at Temple University and is one of the interns who joined the Secret Book Project around week three. She is an English and Criminal Justice double major who is planning on pursuing law after graduation.

In a situation almost exactly like Claudia’s (as described in her first blog post), I found myself moving back home with my family at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March. At that time, when I knew very little about the severity of the virus and the life-altering changes ahead, I anticipated being on a brief hiatus from college life while temporarily continuing my c

lasses online. As I left my North Philadelphia apartment, I told my roommates that I would be seeing them soon and only be home for around two weeks. To say that I was completely ignorant to the situation at that time is a vast understatement.

After my semester of online instruction ended in very early May, I found myself sitting at home with absolutely nothing to do. I was unemployed and eagerly searching for something to keep me entertained as the many unknowns of the future loomed. COVID-19 cases in Philadelphia and our surrounding counties began to peak, making it very difficult to see any sort of light at the end of the tunnel.

When Claudia, a very close friend of mine from high school, proposed the opportunity to work alongside her on this unique project (the first ever Toho anthology that compiles the best pieces of short fiction in Philly), I instantly agreed. Not only would working with Toho Publishing give me an exclusive opportunity to be extremely hands-on with a project as an intern, but it would also provide me with knowledge and experience that I know I could not receive elsewhere. While I never considered a future in publishing, I am so thrilled to be learning about the publishing process from start to finish with a team that consistently challenges and encourages me.

Our team meets virtually with Andrés (Toho Publishing’s founder) about once or twice a week to discuss what we are currently working on, to consider or suggest different ideas for the project, and to assign new tasks for that specific week. Online collaboration can be difficult at times, but it has proven to be an effective tool for this particular project. Andrés has been extremely helpful during our virtual conferences, as he allows us to be creative and brainstorm in our discussions while also acting as the realistic and experienced mentor. He has provided our team of interns with valuable information through his own personal experiences with Toho Publishing, including the process of publishing Toho Journal, along with his general knowledge of this industry.

My work thus far has mainly consisted of researching faculty from a handful of colleges and universities in the Philadelphia area. Philadelphia is home to a large number of institutions of higher education, which is why this task is so critical (we’re reaching out to all of them!) yet very time consuming. This week, however, I was tasked with writing this blog post and creating the submission form for the short story project. As Claudia solidifies email templates and individualized emails, and Becca continues the tedious job of researching faculty, I can sense that this Secret Book Project has not only taken true form, but is moving along at a great pace! It has been really amazing to watch the Secret Book Project progress so much during the short time that I have been involved.

I predict that huge strides will be made this week and that we will be very close, if not just about ready, to begin reaching out to local contacts and receiving submissions. I am so excited to see what the future holds for this project!