Friday, July 24, 2015

Six Questions for Sarah Frances Moran, Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Yellow Chair Review

Yellow Chair Review publishes poetry, flash fiction, non-fiction and art. Learn more here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Sarah Frances Moran: Sooo haven't told many people this, but in high school, at the dawn of the internet. I decided to put together a little email based zine.  It was called Dreams.  It was oh so cheesy, and I loved it.  I basically took submissions of any type of writing and placed them in an email newsletter that went out to those who had subscribed. I've had a desire ever since to do that again. I began seriously sending out my own work about 8 months ago and have encountered things I wanted to see done better.  I wanted YCR to be a place that's approachable, that responds quickly and does whatever it can to promote the work of its contributors.

I don't have an art degree, literature degree or any type of liberal arts degree.  I just appreciate words, and I feel strongly that it's important to hold space for people to get their art into the world.  I'd like to think that Yellow Chair Review represents a wide variety of artists, writers, poets.  I don't ever want to say that YCR is exclusive to any type of people, but I do want it to be a space that's welcoming and open to under-represented communities.  


SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

SFM: I don't really have a criteria.  I just simply want to be moved.  I want my brain provoked or my emotions punched.   A lot of editors list things they want and things they don't want, but I think it's hard to put yourself in a box however large that box is.  If I say I dislike rhyming poems, and then one comes through that's amazing, how do I know I haven't programmed my brain to dislike it?  I want to be open.   Most I love words.  I love when words are used like weapons to convey the complexities of our lives. Move me.


SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

SFM: Bad grammar and spelling.  A small mistake here and there is no big deal, but when the submission is riddled with mistakes it becomes a huge turn off.

Long wordy cover letters that attempt to explain the work.  The work should explain itself.  If it needs an explanation it's failing somewhere.


SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

SFM: Sometimes, especially if it's requested.  Those form rejections are tough, but unfortunately there isn't enough time for personal rejection responses for everyone.  I try to convey in those rejections that it's just a matter of not fitting for YCR.  I don't want to be a discouragement to anyone and hope that those whose work I pass on realize that's the opinion of one person.  Keep sending work out.


SQF: What is the “Rock the Chair Weekly Poetry Challenge"?

SFM: It's really just a simple weekly challenge.  The best poem of those sent for that week are published on YCR's Rock The Chair blog.  At the end of the year a print anthology of those poems will be put together and released in a perfect bound edition.   Eventually the plan is to have themed weeks and even guest editors choose the winning poem for certain weeks.


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

SFM: What does Yellow Chair Review see for its future?

World domination ;)

Thank you, Sarah. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Six Questions for Raquel Thorne, Managing Editor, cahoodaloodaling

cahoodaloodaling is a collaborative publication. Our quarterly issues are shaped by an eclectic staff and a revolving guest editor. We also have varying calls for submissions, based on either a theme or a style, and we love to see how our collaborators interpret them. As such, our issues are ever-changing and our style ever-evolving. Feel free to send us cross-media work, push the envelope, or even suggest an idea for a future issue or feature. We especially love collaborative work, but it is not a requirement for submissions. We are what you make us.  Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Raquel Thorne: Kate Hammerich and I wanted a fun, accessible, theme-based journal. Most themed issues seem to be in print and are more traditional in the media they accept.


SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

RT: 

  1. There has to be that “umph” factor. Because we do quarterly themes, we often see many similar pieces, and originality is key. During our submission call for “The Animal Becomes Us” issue we naturally received a mountain of dog poems, but “Ritual” by Elaine Wang and “An Old Dog Teaches My Dog to Swim” by Elizabeth Johnston both stood out for their uniqueness of language. We accept submissions of up to three pieces. Send three. Take a risk with at least one of them. 
  2. An unexpected ending.  I feel strongly about this. If I already know how a piece is going to end, why am I reading it? A great piece thumbs its nose at my expectations and takes me somewhere I wasn't expecting, be it a closing image in a poem or a plot twist in a short story.
  3. Authenticity. 

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?

RT:

  1. We read blind, and yet many submitters put their name on their file, or blatantly put all their contact information in their submission file. Guidelines should always be followed. 
  2. cahoodaloodaling is also often capitalized in people's cover letters. While it's certainly not the end of the world, as an editor I'm naturally charmed by those who have clearly read our guidelines and our “about us” sections and have picked up on the lack of capitalization. 
  3. Too much telling, not enough showing. 

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

RT: Rarely.


SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

RT: Being an editor has made me a more active reader. Receiving hundreds of submissions a quarter, I pick up on writing trends, newer clich├ęs, and writing-gimmicks more than I had in the past.


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

RT: Does cahoodaloodaling ever ask for edits?

Rarely. We receive more worthy work than we can publish a quarter—it's easier to go with the polished piece than the diamond in the rough. That being said, if a piece is submitted earlier in our submission calls, we have time to consider edits. A piece which needs edits but is submitted close to our deadline will receive an automatic pass.

Thank you, Raquel. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.


Friday, July 10, 2015

Six Questions for Christine Gosnay, Founding & Nonfiction Editor, The Cossack Review

The Cossack Review publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Christine Gosnay: TCR began as a response to the lack of meaningful, persistent writing in literary magazines and journals. This is not to say there was no such work out there; rather, I wanted to unify and publish specifically that kind of work. I’m sure that many magazines begin this way, with editors who aspire to publish the type or style of work they believe merits more attention than it gets. Accordingly, we end up with a lot of publications, which is a really good thing. 


SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

CG: The easiest thing to notice and to look for is capable writing. And since we’re tuned in to work that is meaningful and searching, the next thing we tend to appreciate is significance—what the piece explores or exposes, how it approaches meaning and experience and thought. If I have to choose just one more thing, I would say that we look for work that’s nuanced, surprising. Surprises happen in many ways—form, figurative language, the narrative, etc. The nicest surprises are usually nowhere near the “end.”


SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

CG: A writer who has not followed our simple guidelines; a story that has not been proofread; lazy writing that serves no purpose; macho stories about macho guys; cookie-cutter poetry; nonfiction that tells a story without the benefit of insight or exposition. 


SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

CG: If time and motivation allow, we provide comments, especially if the piece was under serious consideration. The volume of submissions usually precludes our doing so, otherwise.


SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

CG: I’ve learned that we are all poor readers of our own work, especially in a creative phase. A few years ago I heard Rob Spillman, the editor of Tin House, issue a wise injunction: if you’re in the midst of a creative spell, if you’re generative, don’t send out work. Do something creative, keep writing. Wait and send work to magazines when you’re far enough away from its locus to see what you’ve written, effectively, for the first time. In other words, submit when you’re feeling administrative. I think that’s wonderful advice. I follow it, always. It hints at another thing that occurs to me, that I think is mostly true, and even though it’s seems the opposite of what I’ve just said about us being poor readers of our own work, it isn’t: a writer can and should spend more time alone with his or her own words. As you mature and hone in on your motivations, you become a unique audience to what you’ve written. At that stage, you can’t be replaced by contemporary drift, by the zeitgeist, by style, or even by readers you trust. 


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

CG: “What’s in store for TCR in the future?”

We’re doubling our publication schedule and redesigning our website to include more archived work and a blog. Our next projects include annual chapbook-style issues, a reading series, and more interviews with writers we like and with past contributors. 

Thank you, Christine. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Six Questions for Aurore Lebas, Editor and Publisher, Brilliant Flash Fiction

BRILLIANT Flash Fiction publishes works to 1000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Aurore Lebas: It is a dream come true for me. I love writing and editing. For more background, see Brilliant Flash Fiction ‘Equality’ Writing Competition.


SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?

AL: To my mind, flash fiction should ideally have a brilliant "flash" of revelation or inspiration (or humor) that stays with the reader. To quote "What Editors Want" (in The Review Review): "The editor wants nothing more than to read something so fresh and powerful and polished there is no question it must be in the journal."


SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

AL: Too many adjectives and adverbs.


SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

AL: Yes. Just because one story is rejected, another might not be. I try not to discourage writers from trying again.


SQF: You also have regular, entry-free contests. What would you like us to know about them?

AL: The contests are meant to be fun, and a means of having your writing evaluated by some very well-qualified judges. Contests with entry fees are like playing the lottery—I have wasted too much money on them myself and wanted our competitions to be different.


SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

AL: Brilliant Flash Fiction aims to work with the writers who submit their work. If any author has questions before sending a submission or contest entry, he or she should not hesitate to contact us by email.

Thank you. Aurore. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.