Friday, May 20, 2016

Six Questions for Christopher Schnieders, Founder/Editor in Chief, Intellectual Refuge

Intellectual Refuge publishes quality, original fiction and essays of 1500 to 3500 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Christopher Schnieders: You might say I started it out of frustration with the way the internet was affecting my writing time. Instead of writing, I was wasting time reading op-eds or other articles online. I wasn't contributing to the exchange of ideas or creating work as I always had.  Even more, I wasn't finding enough online material that interested me (probably wasn't looking in the right places).

Still, it was clear that the internet wasn't going anywhere. I decided to wade in and participate. Another factor was cost.  It's very inexpensive to run IR online, as opposed to print.

The initial idea was to create a blog and post my ideas with those dreaded, addicting op-eds. Quickly, it morphed into an online literary journal seeking to publish the work of others, and sometimes my work too. I know all too well how hard it can be to get published.  I also know there are many writers creating quality work that never sees the light of day. I wanted to create a place for them and it's worked so far.

The other thing I'll say is I was seeing sites with tons of content, tons of writing on the home page, everywhere. I have nothing against that, but wanted to create something that wasn't that.  I wanted something simple, showcasing one piece for a full week while each volume ran - then another piece for a full week after that, etc. Give the authors their due - and give them the copyright to their work.

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


  • Quality writing
  • Correct spelling and grammar
  • Unique story/perspective

I probably enjoy essays the most.

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

CS: Pornography that's not good. Too much unnecessary profanity.  Motivational spiritual stuff.  Beginning writing.  Poetry. I have built in sense for what fits in the journal.  I can usually tell it it's good for IR immediately.  Not always though... Sometimes I may dismiss a piece initially, then go back to it later and realize it’s brilliant. That happened with “Omega” by Zachary Woodard (Vol. 4)

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

CS: No.  I usually say nothing. I have an intense day job, so it can be challenging just to keep on top of the work we publish. It's a fact that I've ignored work we should have accepted because I spaced or didn't have the time or lost track of the email. I also hate the idea of rejecting someone’s writing. If it doesn’t work for me at the time, it doesn’t mean it’s not good. In the past few months, a writer rejected my acceptance because I offended the writer with my reply. It was a great work, but what can you do. Move on. Go forward. In the end, good writers will find other avenues, especially with the amount of online journals today.

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

CS: You always learn by reading and it's an honor to publish excellent writers. I've mostly learned there are some great writers who are slipping through the cracks and I hope publication in IR leads them to bigger and better places.  Also, if you want to write you must produce, you must write and keep writing.

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


Q: Is print dead, are books dead?  A. No way

Elsewise, I got nothing. We've been lucky to receive just enough high quality submissions to keep this going since 2011. Some of the works have not been great, but a majority meet the standard. You might also be surprised how few submissions we receive.

We made a call for submissions for Vol. 9 (via Twitter) and the work is coming in.  Intellectual Refuge lives to see another day...

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

Friday, May 13, 2016

Six Questions for A. E. Bayne, Editor-in-Chief, Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review

The Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review publishes poetry, flash fiction (250-500 words), short fiction to 1500 words, and essays and creative non-fiction to 1000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: How did FLAR come to be?

AE Bayne: Fredericksburg Literary Review was the brainchild of Susan Carter Morgan and Elizabeth Seaver of Water Street Writing and Art Studio, as well as YA author Steve Watkins (Down Sand Mountain, What Comes After, Juvie, and Great Falls - all from Candlewick Press).  Susan took the lead on the project, and the first volume was bound and printed as a made-to-order book in fall of 2013.  She also posted the entries online.  After the first volume came out, Susan decided to publish FLR exclusively online as a blog that accepted rolling submissions.  This continued through summer of 2014.

I was a published writer in the earlier editions of the review, as well as a features writer for a number of regional magazines.  In early spring of 2015 I approached Susan about possibly taking the lead on the publication and going in a different direction.  She was excited to hear my ideas for the review - a flip-magazine format, the addition of art submissions, panels of judges with writing and art experience, the addition of feature articles written from interviews I would conduct with regional writers and artists, and the opportunity to publish on-demand from our online hosting site.  Susan and I collaborated on the changes during fall 2015 with Susan acting as a consultant, while I acted as editor in chief.  After the fall 2015 edition, now dubbed Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review (FLAR), Susan decided she wanted more time to work on her letter press business through Water Street and I felt comfortable taking lead.

The first mission of FLAR has always been to provide a space for writers in the Fredericksburg region to share their poems, creative nonfiction, and short fiction.  With the addition of visual arts, FLAR now offers a platform for our regional artists to share their work with the world, as well.  Also part of our mission is to connect writers and artists from around Virginia to people in our region, and with our outreach through submission sites like New Pages, Review Review, and Duotrope, we are also extending our collaboration to writers and artists around the world.  These are dynamic times for our magazine, and every new contact we make allows us to share the wealth of creative talent in Fredericksburg and beyond.

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

AEB: You would think that working with a panel of literary judges would make specifics difficult to pin down, but in many cases we agree on the quality of the work that is chosen.  Since we don't use guiding themes to choose work, we look for a strong clear voice with a keen eye toward the intended audience.  We look for word craft and fluidity of language.  We also look for universal themes that would resonate with many readers.

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

AEB: We tend to vote "no" unanimously when pieces are overly internalized, self-indulgent, cliché, or sentimental.  While typos don't necessarily negate a piece right off the bat, if the piece is weak and has typos one wonders if much attention to detail was paid by the writer.

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

AEB: No, we don't provide comments due to the small staff and large volume of submissions; however, we do let people know if their submissions were accepted as soon as we have all voted, and I will send emails out after the deadline for those pieces we did not accept to let the writers know they are released for further publication.

SQF: If FLAR had a theme song, what would it be and why?

AEB: "Sun Models" by Odesza

This song always puts a smile on my face and FLAR does the same. Both are hopeful, joyful, and full of artistry.  It is my sincere pleasure to promote writers and artists creating moving and important work.  The process is inspiring, as is the song.

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

AEB: I think a good question might be: How is your publication relevant in today's over-saturated online publication market?

My answer would be that through it's outreach and mission of connecting Fredericksburg, Virginia to the world, and vice versa, FLAR becomes relevant because it serves to promote creativity, craft and artistry across geographical divides.  Not only do we seek to share our regional voices, but we also hope to spread the voices of others living in other climes with other life experiences infusing their work.  We are both village and global community at once.

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

Friday, May 6, 2016

Six Questions for Patrick Crerand and Kurt Wilt, Founding Editors, Lightning Key Review

Lightning Key Review is open to all genres and seeks great work that grounds itself primarily in narrative: traditional, experimental, lyrical, pataphysical—just so the writing is powerful and no longer than 700 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Lightning Key Review: Kurt Wilt and I had started a writers' group in Tampa that met under the philosophy of short, imagistic narratives regardless of genre.  Everyone brought in a page of work, and that's what we emphasized because we write that way ourselves and love that kind of writing.

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

LKR: We look for short, imagistic narratives.  Pretty simple.  Narrative doesn't have to mean full-blown story though.  We're game for looser, even lyrical narratives.  There has to be a hint of a story though.  The imagery has to be strong throughout.  And the length is just for the sake of time.  It's hard to read long pieces on-line.  Plus, we both like the form of the flash narrative and the prose poem and, of course, poetry.

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

LKR: Work that doesn't have its feet on the ground.  We all have feelings and theories and philosophies, but when those are unmoored from anything physical in a piece of writing, my brain just turns off and I'm not reading much more.

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

LKR: Not normally.  It's not out of a sense of coldness but one of finality.  If we rejected a piece, it's because we didn't think it worked.  That's hugely arbitrary and subjective, but they call it "submission" for a reason.  I write and get rejected and feel a tinge of pain when it happens just like everyone else.  If we made comments, it might give false hope to a writer whose work did not gel with our aesthetic.  I think that rejection is an important concept to grasp and then let go of.  Sometimes people won't like your work, and there's not much you can do to convince them otherwise.  In fact, it'd almost be worse if you did because you're cheating your work.  The work should do the convincing.  The upside to this is that sometimes I like a piece for arbitrary reasons and accept it.  No one asks why when you accept a piece because the writer assumes correctly you liked something in there.  The same is true for rejection.  Keep submitting it.  Someone else out there might have a place for it.  We are by no means the ultimate authority in quality, but we know what we like.

SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?

LKR: Kurt Vonnegut, Flannery O'Connor, and maybe James Thurber.  I think they all have a unique perspective on the absurd.  I'd stand a chance for a good drink with Thurber and Vonnegut there.  O'Connor would chastise everyone.  Actually I think they'd probably hate each other, and I'd be caught in the middle with a forlorn expression on my face, dodging withering comments.  I'm not sure if they ever did meet since they overlap a bit, but I can't see them getting along too well.  Still to be a fly on the wall, even an insulted fly...

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

LKR: Nothing I can think of.  Thanks!

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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Six Questions for Owen Vince, Managing Editor, PYRAMID Editions

PYRAMID Editions publishes single-author pamphlets of experimental poetry by authors aged 30 and under. Read the complete guidelines here—and follow us on Twitter @pyramideditions. We published our first pamphlet (Objects of Desire, by Sophie Essex) in December, and our second pamphlet, Tractography by SJ Fowler, will be released this Spring. We have four more coming after that, and a launch event in early December in London.

SQF: Why did you start this press?

Owen Vince: Until last year I was co-running a print magazine, HARK, which unfortunately came to an end. I wasn't quite ready to give up on editing and I missed developing my own projects and doing work that “gave back” to poetry. By and by, I know a lot of friends and colleagues in the states and in the UK who are fearlessly committed to putting writing they like out there in the world. I took their beautiful recklessness as a cue and just went for it. And I have a fantastic designer, Penny Elliott, because she is able to solve the myriad problems I manage to create for myself, and has given the pamphlets a very distinctive aesthetic.

Stylistically, I guess I wanted to create a space specifically for younger writers who are doing more experimental work, as there need to be more quality outlets for that in the UK. I also wanted to prioritise good design and to really drive the aesthetics of print. Often, poets are told that they have to be patient and just “wait” for the right time to put physical poems out there. I'm not fond of this attitude, of the gradual drip drip accretion of recognition, because it strengthens the position of gatekeepers and really limits the range of new and alternative poetries. So in that sense, we're about a certain “considered recklessness”. I take a lot of cues from the booming cassette label community, and labels like Sacred Tapes and J&C who are putting out these strange, short run cassettes of just off the wall music, daring music. I wanted to have that for poetry.

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

OV: Firstly, I'm interested in specificity; in the almost microscopic analysis of an object or experience in poetry. I look for detail and the clever manipulation of language to describe details.

Secondly, a compelling and engaging theme. We have this “three poem” format because we want poets to examine a single idea in detail, and from different angles. I get really excited about themes related to architecture, the body, the histories of the senses, film. I loved Sophie's pamphlet (Objects of Desire) because she was exploring female sexuality in an adroit and surreal way; our next pamphlet, Tractography by SJ Fowler, is looking at neuroscience. Others are going to look at TV and the Soviet Union, the artist's model, “dirt”, and the Antarctic.

Thirdly, imagery. I want to see a kind of collage rather than look at a narrative, if that makes sense. I want it to be kaleidoscopic.

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

OV: Lack of clarity of theme, lack of detail, more often than anything else. I'm not especially interested in poetries about broad concepts such as “memory”, for example, or poems which are really just anecdotes. I really want to emphasise how much I get excited about detail and explicitly experimental languages. But I hate to say what turns me off poetry because it's so specific to each submission.

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

OV: It depends. Sometimes a “no” has no formal, communicable “reason” for being a “no”. I just don't like the poems, whereas I'm pretty sure somebody else would. If the poet is particularly new to writing or really asks for some feedback, then I'll give it. I don't personally expect it myself, because I also know how much work it is for editors. I have RSI from typing as it is. Help.

SQF: Who are a few of your favorite poets, and what is it you like about their works?

OV: I am a huge fan of Toby Martinez de las Rivas. He is a sort of linguistic apocalypse - violent, dense, but also extremely expressionistic and lyrical. When I got my hands on Terror (released in 2014 with Faber) I was literally changed by it. Poetry was just a different thing to me after that. Where are you Toby? Poetry needs you!

At the moment, I am reading a lot of Denise Levertov, and CD Wright. Levertov and Wright are just the kind of poets I read and say, “this”. I'm also going to quickly say that Doug Jones (he has a new collection, London and Norfolk Poems out with Veer books) and Katherine Osborne (likewise, with her Fire Sign from Electric Cereal last year) are just at the top of their games and also lovely people.

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

OV: Sure - “why do you only publish poets under 30?”.

I'd say that you read a lot of press submission guidelines that say, “must have a track record of publications with Serious literary magazines” (okay I don't know if they actually say 'serious', but they certainly imply it). This view becomes increasingly dominant. Poetry can mature, sure, but imagine looking at a sculptor like Lynn Chadwick and saying, Lynn, we're only going to look at the sculptures you made after you hit 50. What about the early things? His sculptures were different at every stage in his life. And so at each stage in your life you think and live and write differently. So you need a space, an echo chamber, to let those different languages appear and percolate, and it doesn't just have to be online. Otherwise you get these very dense traditional poetic spheres swallowing up these already very crowded, limited stomping grounds. I want people to look at the work of young writers and be challenged and transformed by it. I want you to be as excited as I am!

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