Friday, March 22, 2019

Six Questions For Kevin Brennan, Editor, The Disappointed Housewife

The Disappointed Housewife seeks fiction, essays, and poetry – along with unclassifiable writings, photos, and drawings – that stretch genre definitions, break the rules, challenge readers, and bend their brains, all while maintaining the highest levels of style and substance.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Kevin Brennan: I noticed over the years that much of the material coming out in literary journals sticks to pretty traditional genres, forms, and structures and doesn’t take chances in a way that art probably should. To my mind, especially with the freedom that comes from all the technology we have now, writers might be encouraged to try something different instead of reinventing the wheel. I started The Disappointed Housewife as a way to invite writers to stretch their wings and expand their boundaries.


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

KB:
1) A different approach. Whether in fiction, poetry, or essays, I’m looking for a different slant or technique, a different sound, or even mashups that play with form and offer readers something unexpected.

2) Creative and/or playful use of language. English is dope!

3) Humor. It’s always surprising to me that writers don’t use a lot of humor in their work, and I’d like to see more of it. Not yuck-yuck comedy but instead more of a view of the world through a distorted lens. I publish a lot of stories with a humorous slant, but it’s not easy to find on a regular basis.


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

KB: I don’t often accept a piece when it’s obvious that the writer didn’t consult the submission guidelines. Usually it involves length. I get a lot of stories that are over 3000 words, but our top limit is 2000 and I prefer shorter than that. Frankly, I think online readers are interested in a short, efficient, effective story rather than more traditional, longer prose. The medium isn’t the greatest for long reads, in my opinion.

I also have to reject a lot of work because it’s not “offbeat” enough. There are plenty of outlets for traditional writing, so when someone sends us stories or poems that really belong somewhere else, I’ll have to pass. 


SQF: Is it really that important to read the submission guidelines? Many of them are long and boring.

KB: Extremely important. You learn a lot about a literary journal from the guidelines. I spell it all out in mine. Send me something different. Break the mold. Do something you haven’t seen in a hundred other places. Make it fresh.


SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

KB: I don’t have a lot of predetermined hard sells, though genre writing of any kind will have a tough time with us if it doesn’t do something different with the form. In other words, I’ll consider erotica, crime, romance, sci-fi, or almost anything else if it blows up the usual conventions and does something unique.

I’m not interested in violence though. A lot of writers tend toward using violence as a way of dramatizing conflict or building tension, but it’s usually too easy and not well done. Humor trumps violence at The Disappointed Housewife.


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

KB: “Considering that you’re looking for unique, innovative, idiosyncratic writing, how much of it do you actually find and publish?”

Good question! And the answer is that I’m always surprised and delighted when something that really fills our bill comes in, and it comes in pretty frequently. It brings me huge pleasure when I see a piece that seems to say, “This sounds different, doesn’t play by the rules, and takes you someplace you can’t predict, but it’s art.”

I’m also happy to have learned, over the past year of editing The Disappointed Housewife, that there are a lot of writers out there trying to do something different and new—many more than I might have thought—and it’s rewarding to give them a place to publish where they don’t have to worry about the usual conventions.

When you browse The Disappointed Housewife, I’ll wager you’ll find stuff you wouldn’t find anywhere else.

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

Friday, March 15, 2019

Six Questions for Gerald So, Editor, The Five-Two

The Five-Two publishes poetry to 60 lines in the crime genre. Any form of poetry is acceptable, including free verse and prose poems. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What an interesting premise—a poetry-only magazine in the crime genre. How did you come up with the idea?

Gerald So: The idea began in 2007 with writer Alex Echevarria Roman, who noticed my poetry on the Web and my work as fiction editor for Kevin Burton Smith's Thrilling Detective Web Site. Alex asked if I'd ever considered a magazine for crime poetry. I said I hadn't but would start, and recruited some friends as co-editors: Patrick Shawn Bagley, Reed Farrel Coleman, Sarah Cortez, Richie Narvaez, and Anthony Rainone.

From 2008 to 2011, we published four print volumes of The Lineup: Poems on Crime and received positive feedback from those who submitted poetry and bought the books--back issues still available at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/geraldso. Production costs, though, kept us from publishing more than annually. In June 2011, my co-editors simultaneously got busy with other projects, and after some consideration, I decided to end the series.

Wanting to further prove the concept of crime poetry, I debuted The Five-Two's weekly all-original poetry format on September 12, 2011, including a YouTube video reading of each poem, annual ebook collections sold through Amazon's Kindle Store, and commentary posts each day of National Poetry Month (April). I like that the Web and its features make The Five-Two a year-round, topical, and interactive publication.


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

GS: Personality, topicality, and scope. I want the poet to be genuinely invested in the poem. Submissions don't have to be autobiographical, but I want to see why this particular poet is the best person to write this particular poem. I try for some topicality to keep the site relevant, to show that poets are responding to current injustices, big or small. I want poems to have enough scope to reach readers beyond the poets themselves. Go too broad, though, and a poem becomes less relatable to readers.


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

GS: A glaring lack of any of the three elements above. I think crime poetry calls for more freshness than crime fiction does. Another turn-off is disregard for the submission guidelines.


SQF: What do you look for in the opening stanzas of a submission?

GS: Confidence and a command of the poem's use of language.


SQF: If The Five-Two had a theme song, what would it be and why?

GS: I want to write or have an original theme song written, now that you ask, but with a time crunch, can I borrow Mike Post's Hill Street Blues theme? Its steadiness and heart reflect The Five-Two's frequency. Variations in tempo or rendition can take it to a dark place or a sad place. I hope The Five-Two's poetry has the same range.


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

GS: Given The Five-Two's frequency, how long can I keep it up?

I had no idea going in, nor do I now. As long as there is wrongdoing, and poets are moved to write about it and submit, I'll be here as long as I can be.

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

Friday, March 8, 2019

Six Questions for Gessy Alvarez, Founder and Editor, Digging Through the Fat

Digging Through the Fat "showcases prose, poetry, and visual arts from emerging and established creative folks throughout the year. We also periodically publish personal essays, interviews, reviews, artworks, and links to published works.

We welcome submissions from ALL. We especially want to encourage more submissions from women and non-binary writers, writers of color, and the LGBTQIA community. " Learn more here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Gessy Alvarez: The magazine evolved from a blog that I created while I was in graduate school. This was the early 2000s, and even though blogs were flourishing on the internet, the literary establishment was still on the fence about online publishing. Grad school was useful because it showed me what I didn't want to become. I wanted to break free from the usual literary avenues and take risks, and the internet offered some freedom. A huge part of writing is failing at writing, so I thought what if I figure out a way to communicate with struggling artists out there and support their creations. In 2010, I established a new blog, Digging Through The Fat: ripping out the heart. In 2013, I began interviewing folks whose writings were featured in online journals. And in 2014, we made our first call for submissions for prose and poetry. We will be debuting the winner of our 2018 chapbook competition, Awabi by Mandy-Suzanne Wong, at AWP 2019. We are also working on a new season of our podcast, Digging Through with Gessy Alvarez.


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

GA: Our contributors come from different backgrounds. Some are established, others emerging. We mean it when we say: "We like experiments and even failures. We relish in the avant-garde. We want to encourage risks and redefine narrative."

Here are our top three things: A high level of commitment to a literary vision, a playful, conscious (or unconscious) use of narrative structures, and a memorable voice.


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

GA: Writing that relies on stereotypes or takes shortcuts through flat characterization. It's always apparent when the writing is self-conscious, inhibited, and/or cliché.


SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

GA: Nothing is a hard sell if you believe in it. We have to believe that you are giving us your best work. Some editors shy away from work that plays with grammar and structure, or that is graphic, profane, or controversial. All that matters to us is that it's a good story with substantive, artistic intentions. If you employ hateful, derogatory, and offensive language, or demean your characters or readers, your work will not rise to the top.


SQF: If Digging Through the Fat had a theme song, what would it be and why?

GA: Oh gosh, that's a good question. "Suck My Left One" by Bikini Kill comes to mind immediately with "Total Eclipse of the Heart" by Bonnie Tyler a close second. We are inspired by a DIY/punk/feminist aesthetic and the romantic, bombastic courage of marginalized artists from 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?

GA: What is one piece of advice you can give?

Don't waste your time looking for answers. Appreciate the ticking clock and live it up.

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

Friday, March 1, 2019

Six Questions for Marcus Myers and Brian Clifton, Co-Founding Editors, Bear Review

[Note: While a co-founding editor, Brian Clifton is no longer an active editor of Bear Review; he’s pursuing his PhD right now; currently the co-editors are Marcus Myers, Haines Eason, Andrew Reeves and Ruth Williams.]
Bear Review publishes fiction and nonfiction to 500 words on a biannual basis. Submissions are not limited by genre. Read the complete guidelines here.

We charge $3.00 per submission; each author whose work is accepted for publication will automatically enter our annual editor’s prize (details forthcoming).


SQF: Why did you start this magazine? 

Bear Review: After completing our MFA degrees in 2014, editors Brian Clifton and Marcus Myers decided to launch a literary magazine for poems and micro prose (as poets, we’re biased toward compressed forms/genres) because we felt the impulse to both participate in literary discourse, and also to provide a platform from which others who were, like us, new to the conversation, might participate as well. We wanted to construct an online space where emerging voices might find expression alongside established and acclaimed ones.


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

BR: Literary competence, originality and urgency of expression. By literary competence, we mean an understanding of genre and its tradition. By originality, we mean the piece is aware of what’s already been done (in terms of trope and subject) and makes it new or entirely different. By urgency of expression we mean what’s at stake, or why does what the poet or writer says need to be said?


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

BR: Any number of things might turn us off: sloppy, lazy or incoherent syntax; an uninteresting use of language; cliché imagery or figurative language; overwrought pieces that have more special effects than substance; unfinished pieces; not following our submission guidelines.


SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s)/stanza(s) of a submission?

BR: Language or voice that’s electric or edgy; a live-wire or gorgeous image/figure; an amusing or interesting juxtaposition; a clear situation or real-world scenario (often a piece fails because it doesn’t give or refer to a human location or context; the beginning of a piece needs to be grounded in the real so the reader can locate real-world referents); a balance between concision and description (lucid details and/or vibrant imagery).


SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

BR: Experimentation for experimentation’s sake. If the piece obviously won’t come across clearly to our readers, we’re likely to consider it unreadable or inaccessible and pass on it. Experimental writing needs to balance experimentation with nods to tradition, to the genres and forms other authors in the rich history of literature in English have already established. That’s not to say we don’t appreciate a writer’s efforts to estrange what’s commonplace, to put an original spin on a trope or subject, or to subvert or complicate the tradition in some way.


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

BR: How does your name reflect your journal’s values and overall mission? The “Bear” in Bear Review fits with the startling, unpredictable kind of reading experience we hope to provide to our audience. Once while hiking in Arkansas, founding co-editor Marcus Myers found himself face-to-face with a black bear. The experience first scared and then thrilled him. When he and Brian Clifton started the journal, they agreed that great literature at first appeared frightening or disconcerting before giving way to something true and beautiful. Ideally, Bear Review strives to find pieces that are so alive on the page—so urgent and skilled in their unique expression—they might raise the tiny hairs on the backs of their readers’ necks—at least at first.

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


Friday, February 22, 2019

Six Questions for Derek McMillan, Editor, Worthing Flash

Worthing Flash publishes flash fiction under 1,000 words. Learn more here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine? 



Derek McMillan: It was started after an event at Chichester Festival where three writers talked about flash fiction. It was to encourage Worthing residents to try their hand at flash fiction. Since its inception, I have received contributions mainly from Worthing but also from India, Nigeria, New Zealand and the United States.


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

DM: 

  • Every word should count.
  • It should be a story not a vignette.
  • It does need to be in English (mea culpa, you might say). 

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

DM:

  • Poor grammar except where it is intentional to establish character. 
  • Wasted words. 
  • Too many characters. 

SQF: What magazines/zines do you read on a “regular” basis?

DM: Page and Spine, Everyday Fiction, Fictive Dreams, 101 Words, Paragraph Planet 


SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication? 

DM: Pornography would not be acceptable but well-written, literate erotica would be.


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

DM: Why do you write?

I enjoy reading and I have been writing stories since I got an old Remington typewriter from my sister when I was ten. This meant readers didn't have to struggle with my handwriting to read my work. I think we are surrounded by flash fiction. This includes everything from jokes about "a man who walked into a bar" to the parables in the Bible to my story about why I started writing. I love stories.

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