Friday, January 23, 2015

Six Questions for Arvind Radhakrishnan, Editor-in-Chief, The Bangalore Review

The Bangalore Review publishes flash fiction to 800 words, short fiction and essays of 800-2500 words, poetry, and artwork/photography. "We also accept longer essays (5000 -8000 words), preferably on literature, art, philosophy and film theory." Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Arvind Radhakrishnan: 

  1. Originality
  2. Lucidity and a good review of existing literature on the subject.
  3. The writer's passion for the subject. This is a big plus for me. I just need to read a couple of paragraphs to discern this.

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

AR: Badly researched and badly written stuff. Content is important, no doubt. But so is style. I get turned off when writers are rambling, using very long sentences that head nowhere. I detest that. Brevity has its charm too.


SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog? 

AR: Yes, though this would be a very rare occurrence.


SQF: Who are some of your favorite authors?

AR: This is a tough one. I read a lot of stuff related to literature, paintings and philosophy. So here you go...Proust, Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Flaubert, Gide, Turgenev, Nabokov, Thomas Mann, Anthony Kenny, Russel, Gombrich, Roger Fry, Kenneth Clark and many others.


SQF: What is the best part of being an editor?

AR: Reading first time writers. This is most definitely the best part of the job for me. Nothing can beat the enjoyment of encouraging new talent. This is the primary reason I started The Bangalore Review.


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

AR: What is your take on the reading culture of today's youth? I must say that it is sharply declining (at least in my country India).The youngsters seem to prefer trashy novels with silly plot lines and shallow intellectual content. Many of these youngsters are not reading good writers (classics included).This decline in tastes is a very serious concern for me.

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

NEXT POST: 1/30—Six Questions for Lorraine Sears, Managing Editor, The Oddville Press

Friday, January 16, 2015

Six Questions for Rebeca Morales, Editor, The Milo Review

The Milo Review, an online and print quarterly, publishes short fiction, novel excerpts, poetry, essays, original art, and narrative nonfiction to 9500 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Rebeca Morales: We look for work that is well-crafted, emotionally engaging, and/or presents a unique perspective.


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

RM: Craft is of primary consideration, but we do respond warmly to a personalized submission. If an author or artist includes a salutation and references one or two of our stories or poems it goes a long way. We have requested additional material from authors simply on the basis of a thoughtful query.

Please don't be rude, or defensive. That should be self-evident, but I'm surprised at the number of submissions that include bizarre statements like, "if you don't like this, it's your loss." Very strange. It's fine to feel that way, but some things are better left unsaid.


SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog? 

RM: We prefer original pieces, but we will consider almost any work that we find compelling and feel merits a wider audience.


SQF: Do you provide comments when rejecting a piece?

RM: Occasionally, especially if we already have a relationship with a writer. Also, if a submission is not quite a fit, but the piece is well-crafted, we ask to read more.


SQF: What magazines/e-zines do you read most often?

RM: The Iowa Review, The Paris Review, Scientific American, New York Times Magazine, Glimmer Train, Kweli Journal, Narrative


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

RM: Why do you do this?

We do this because there are dozens and dozens of wonderful, unique, inspiring, brilliant, provocative voices out there that need a forum. Agents ask writers about their platform, where they've been published, who knows about them, who they're connected to. We want them to say, The Milo Review. We are inspired by the legacy of Christina L. Ward, who passed away in 2012, a wonderful agent and a champion of fine writing.

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

NEXT POST: 1/23—Six Questions for Arvind Radhakrishnan, Editor-in-Chief, The Bangalore Review


Friday, January 9, 2015

Six Questions for Marjorie Tesser, Editor, Mom Egg Review

MOM EGG REVIEW is an annual print collection of poetry, fiction, creative prose, and art that features work by writers who are mothers or who write about motherhood. The works explore diverse experiences of motherhood and examine the nexus of motherhood with other identities, cultural, political, and personal. Learn more here.

SQF: Who is the Mom Egg Review’s target audience?

Marjorie Tesser: I’d like to say it’s everyone who is or has had a mother!  While many of our readers are mothers, others are people who are interested in women’s experiences (including scholars of Women’s Studies) or people who appreciate the unique mix of styles and perspectives we publish.


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

MT: Ideas, expression, originality.  Ideas should be nuanced, considered, complex, interesting, and follow a logic (it can be an internal logic).  Expression: We love precise language, whether lyrical or plain-spoken. We love works that have pace, rhythm, music. We are fairly catholic in our tastes—free verse, mixed genre, formal or experimental work is fine if it works.  We appreciate the idiosyncratic: unusual subject matter, or an original take on a common experience.  If the poem or story elicits or deals honestly and insightfully (and unsentimentally) with emotion, that’s also a plus.


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

MT: Number one, and I think most of the other editors have noted this as well, is submitting without checking what type of work we publish.  We offer submitters the chance to purchase a copy of MER at a reduced price and we also post examples our website, www.momeggreview.com.  A quick look will show that if the work reads like a greeting card or a popular magazine article, it’s not for us! A second is ignoring submission guidelines, such as word count, formatting, and submitting through our portal on submittable.com. A guideline that’s sometimes overlooked is that if the submitter is not a mother, the piece must be focused on motherhood or have a central (not peripheral) character who is a mother.


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

MT: Unfortunately, the proportion of submissions to staff members precludes this, but there are times we wish we could.  Along with work from established artists, we receive many submissions from fledgling writers. Because of the journal’s focus, oftentimes the work submitted deals with subject matter that’s close to the writer’s personal life—children, illness, identity, loss.  Some are wonderful (many writers publish for their first time in Mom Egg Review and go on to stellar careers).  For those whose work is not right for our publication, we try to decline without dampening the creative spirit, in a way that shows respect and gratitude for having been trusted to read the work.


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

MT: That there are many ways to skin a cat!  (Just a saying—don’t hate me, cat people!). That “decline” is not rejection.  That it helps to know what kind of piece you’ve written and what publications are interested in that type of work.  That it’s important to support the entities that support my work.


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

MT: Question—Is there a secret way a writer can increase his or her chances of a piece being selected for Mom Egg Review?

Answer—If a piece is well-written and compelling (see question 3, above), that’s the main thing.  But because we are a niche, identity-based publication, we get many pieces on similar subject matter:  birth and miscarriage, child rearing, children and work, aging parents, etc.  Only a few pieces on each topic can be selected for any issue. It stands to reason that if one’s piece deals with motherhood in an unusual context (and is fabulously well-written) it has fewer competitors in a category and a bit of an edge in being chosen.

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

NEXT POST: 1/16—Six Questions for Rebeca Morales, Editor, The Milo Review

Friday, December 19, 2014

Six Questions for Rebecca Starks, Editor-in-Chief, Mud Season Review


Mud Season Review is an international literary journal run by members of the Burlington Writers Workshop. Each issue of its monthly online journal features one work of fiction, one of nonfiction (both up to 7,000 words), one portfolio of poetry and art. “We seek deeply human work that will teach us something about life, but also about the craft of writing or visual art; work that is original in its approach and opens up new ways of perceiving the world.” Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Rebecca Starks: 

  1. A strong voice—for me that indicates earned wisdom, something like James Joyce’s “out of how deep a life does it spring.” That life could be experiential, or stem from reading, but in either case it should be both well-considered and empathic.
  2. A view from elsewhere—a unique perspective, with some element of risk or challenge.
  3. That it be fully realized—that it have a point, whether or not it has a plot (as William Trevor says of the short story).


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

RS: Shallowness on any level, from verbal to moral: clich├ęs, irony standing in for empathy, unconsidered assumptions. Mistakes don’t bother me—that’s what editors are for—unless they seem to stem from carelessness or a lack of effort.


SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog? 

RS: No, we want publication in our journal to constitute the first real “making public” of an author’s work. But if a work is shared among friends for feedback, in a limited way, that would not count as publication for us. And an author can always post the work on their personal blog ninety days after we have published it.

The one exception to this rule is art: we will still consider artwork that has been posted on a personal blog.


SQF: Readers unfamiliar with Vermont may not know about mud season. What is it? Is there a relationship between mud season and Mud Season Review?

RS: Mud Season is the early spring, throughout New England: the time when the accumulated snow begins to melt and everything turns to mud. Cars have been known to sink halfway down into dirt roads. People have “mud rooms” for taking off their boots before entering the house. It has countless poems named after it—e.g., “Mud Season” by Jane Kenyon, “Two Tramps In Mud Time” by Robert Frost.

We think of it as a creative season: the time when frozen experience begins to thaw into inspiration, ideas take shape, first drafts turn into final drafts. It’s a messy, unfinished time—and then we want the publication itself to feel celebratory of the finished work that comes out of this inner, private, painstaking work: spring proper.


SQF: What is the best part of being an editor?

RS: I love working with writers to get their work into its best shape: both the work we accept and the work that is sent us as a “feedback request.” I think all our editors have enjoyed both that and getting to know the contributors through our interviews.

And of course sending acceptances—I’m not sure it ever balances out the feeling of sending out rejections, but it feels very good to send good news to someone whose work you feel you’ve “found” and can help promote. And I love discussing submissions with the Mud Season staff—as a group we have eclectic taste, and it’s all the more rewarding when we converge on a piece.


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

RS: I’m drawn to one of the other questions I’ve seen on this blog: “Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?”

What I’ve learned is that it’s no good rationalizing, as a writer: the poem, the story, the essay—they have to work. Readers feel the flat lines, they puzzle over plot or characters that feel under-motivated, they are really looking for something in some way transformative. Once you realize that real people are reading what you’ve written—taking it very seriously, debating it, wanting to root for it—you realize that what you send out has to be able to stand up to that. You don’t abandon the work—you go back and finish it.

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

NEXT POST: 1/9—Six Questions for Marjorie Tesser, Editor, Mom Egg Review