Friday, April 28, 2017

Six Questions for Elizabeth Gibson, Editor, Foxglove Journal

Foxglove Journal publishes poems to 60 lines and fiction to 600 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Elizabeth Gibson: I began Foxglove in October 2016. It had been about five years since I started sending my own writing out to literary magazines, and in that time I had also been a section editor for a creative journal, Miracle Magazine. I wanted to use all that I had learnt about the publishing world to start my own platform for poetry and fiction. I chose the name Foxglove as it is a plant I find fascinating and because there is a folkloric feel to the word.


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

EG: Firstly, originality - much of the work I receive either deals with the same few ideas and cliches, or is clearly mimicking the style of a well-known writer. Every individual has their own worldview and I would like to see that, not one I've seen a hundred times. Secondly, honesty - the tales you tell don't have to be true but the sentiment should be real. If it isn't, it's very obvious. Finally, general respect, both in the writing itself and in the cover letter. Fortunately, Foxglove's submissions tend to be pretty respectful. It only takes a minute on the website, however, to find out what my name is and to read the guidelines as regards length of work, simsubs (I don't want them) and the number of pieces allowed.


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

EG: The glorification of smoking or drug abuse - I've had to turn away a couple of otherwise good submissions as a result of this. The promotion or glorification of animal cruelty. English that's poor to the point of being unreadable - if you're in the process of learning it as a second language, please try to get a native speaker to look over your work before sending it. Political ranting - by all means talk about important issues, but you should be able to tell the difference between a piece of creative writing and a personal rant. Finally, I can't believe I still have to say this but don't submit work that demeans women in awful ways. I can't get my head around the fact that someone would think any respectable journal, let alone one with a young, female editor, would publish some of the things I'm sent.


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

EG: As a linguist I am often on the move, hopping between the UK, France and Spain, and so being subscribed to physical magazines can be complicated. I therefore read a lot of online zines and journals - I love Sea Foam Mag, which combines words and images really well, and Sincerely Magazine, which has a gorgeous design. There's also Ink, Sweat and Tears, The Cadaverine, Severine, Myths of the Near Future, Picaroon Poetry... So many. There are also the Word Life sections of Now Then Sheffield and Now Then Manchester, the latter of which I am have recently begun to edit. They are a great way to discover new writing from the North of England and beyond.


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

EG: I've learnt a lot more than I had expected, even in just the four months that Foxglove has been going. I've noticed various mistakes that writers seem to make over and over and I've resolved to work on them in my own writing. For example, endings - I've received a number of poems that are powerful but fall flat in the last couple of lines, and it's made me realise how important nailing the ending is. I also feel that the whole Foxglove experience has helped me see my own work from a distance, and through a different lens - it's as if me the writer and me the editor are slightly different people, so if I read my work through my editing eyes, I can see how another person might interpret it.


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

EG: Perhaps what makes Foxglove different to other journals. At first, I didn't really know what it would be that would make my journal special or unique - I just followed my instincts and hoped that it would develop its own colour and flavour. Now, looking at it, I feel that what makes it a bit different is the photography element. I am a photographer as well as a writer and from the start it just seemed logical to me to accompany each poem or fiction piece with a relevant photo I had taken. However, as time has gone on, it seems this has become an integral part of Foxglove's identity, and many people have told me that they like it or that it's what attracted them to read or submit work to the journal. Sometimes the link between the writing and the image is apparent; sometimes it's more open to interpretation. I like to make people think more laterally or see things from a new angle.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Six Questions for Avery Myers, Editor-in-Chief, -Ology Journal

-Ology Journal publishes fiction, essays, and poetry to 2,500 words. Issues are themed. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Avery Myers: I started this magazine because I was bored. That's the honest answer! I know most people would give some poetic and beautiful response -- a look into the past, if you will -- but that wouldn't be the truth, coming from me. I started it as a young girl in high school, and since I'm still bored, I'm still rolling with it. -Ology Journal's historia is pretty lame.


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

AM: Creativity is a must!! I don't like to see carbon-copied-angst-prose on a daily basis. I don't think any of our submissions managers do either. I find myself gravitating to pieces that are made with love -- you can tell the difference between a piece that truly means something to the author, and a piece that they're shelling out in order to submit. And lastly, be personal. Metaphors are nice until the poem or story has no substance underneath it all. The words we use are important, but the meaning is even more so.


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

AM: The most common question I find myself asking when I read a piece is, "did this person even read the submissions page?" To me, it's the simplest, and really, the most polite thing to do. Why waste your own time in submitting, since you don't care to know what we're looking for? That's the surefire way to land yourself in the rejects pile.


SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and what is the first question you would ask each of them?

AM: My first would have to be C.S. Lewis. "'Till We Have Faces" is my favorite book ever written on this planet. I'd like to hear him tell his life story, even though I've read it. I just want to hear him talk. I'd love to sit with Homer, even though he was more of an orator, and I think I'd ask him, "What do you think life all adds up to?" Lastly, let's go with Harper Lee. I think I'd ask her, "Can you help me find my very own Atticus?" Ha!


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

AM: Truth be told, I don't read a lot of literature journals. I try not, because I have a tendency to get jealous and want to copy, which is never a good thing. But I love The Paris Review, and I think I can read it partly because there's no underlying competition between the two of us (TPR would clearly beat us in a fight.)


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

AM: I'd like to see you ask what makes a good poet. I know that the notion of "good" can be quite subjective, but I believe that in order to be a good writer, you need to not rush it. There's thousands of catty blog posts on the Internet, talking about how real writers work every day, all day, and if you're waiting for inspiration to strike, well...you're simply not a real writer. Reject this. My grandmother has been writing a book for 40 years about her time in Korea before the political schism. She called me last week to tell me she's sending me a draft soon (I've heard that before...). But what I've seen is truly beautiful, and from deep inside her heart. Don't push yourself into making something sub-par because you want to join the rat race of writers out there in the big, old world. This patience upon patience upon patience will make anyone good at their craft, no matter what it is.

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


Friday, April 14, 2017

Six Questions for Kelly Davio, Joe Ponepinto and Yi Shun Lai, Editors, Tahoma Literary Review

Tahoma Literary Review publishes poetry, fiction of 2,000-10,000 words, and nonfiction under 6,000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Joe Ponepinto: We started Tahoma Literary Review with three goals in mind: literary excellence, fair compensation for writers, and transparency in the publishing process. Regarding the first goal we feel we’ve made progress: work we’ve published in our first couple of years has appeared or been noted in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays, Best Small Fictions, Best Gay Fiction, and many other anthologies. The second and third are based on the idea that writers and editors can work collaboratively for our mutual benefit. For example, we use our submission fees to provide funds for compensation. We provide a ton of craft and business of writing advice. We post submission and payment stats for all issues.

Yi Shun Lai: We also believe very strongly in literary community, towards that end, we work to promote our writers long after the life of their publication with us.


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

JP: Intellectual challenge. Imagination. Fantastic, creative, precise language.

Kelly Davio: In poetry submissions, I’m looking for craftsmanship, a clear voice, and a fresh approach to the poem’s subject matter. There are plenty of perfectly good poems in the literary universe, but I’m looking for work that’s not merely good but also memorable.

YSL: Same in nonfiction: A new and unique perspective, sure. But, also, tight storytelling and that curious capability to take the reader with you on the journey you're taking in your work.


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

JP: Banal language and too much explanation. When a writer explains she takes away the challenge of a story, the sense of mystery that keeps a reader intrigued. I don’t want a lecture when I read a story, I want an experience.

KD: Heavy abstraction doesn’t do much for me. I also like to remind poets that experimental forms are termed “experimental” for a reason—experiments don’t always yield desirable results.

YSL: Florid description. Writing that's aware of itself. Pompousness.


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

JP: For fiction, we offer both a brief feedback option, and a full critique. But I sometimes comment on regular submissions as well. Probably about 60 percent of submissions in all. And I’m not reticent about letting writers know when their work has impressed me. I always let a writer know when a story has made it past the first round of reading.

KD: If a poem came close to being accepted, I always tell the writer.

YSL: Nonfiction operates the same as prose. (And, when I want to accept a work, there's usually a lot of editing that goes into the process before the piece reaches its final form.)


SQF: Will you publish work posted on an author’s website/blog?

All: No


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

JP: What’s the most fulfilling aspect of running a journal?

The results of the work: holding the printed journal, seeing our selections reproduced in anthologies, the recognition are all important, but for me, it’s knowing that many writers appreciate our publishing model. For every issue we produce I get dozens of thank yous from writers for my feedback, my willingness to engage, and for the openness with which we approach the journal process. Knowing that we’re on the right path really keeps me going.

KD: I’m going to piggyback on Joe’s above question, because it’s a great one. To me, the best part of running TLR is giving new poets a debut. I of course love and appreciate all of my authors, but giving a talented writer a first publication is a special treat for me.

YSL: What's your editing process like?

If a piece warrants editing, I get on the phone with the writer and talk through their intentions and potential edits, then I give the writer a few weeks alone with the piece, although I'm available to chat again if the writer wants. After, we'll talk over the changes again if the writer wants. The process is the same for flash nonfiction.

Thank you, Joe, Kelly and Shun Lai. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.


Friday, April 7, 2017

Six Questions for Roger and Janet Carden, Editors, Crimson Streets

"Crimson Streets is looking for fiction with a focus on action and atmosphere over characterization. Stories can fall into the adventure, aviation, detective/mystery, fantasy, hard-boiled, gangster, horror/occult, masked vigilante, noir, railroad, romance/spicy, and war genres.” The editors prefer fiction in the 800 to 6,000 word range. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Janet Carden: My husband (who is the Publisher) was looking for something creative to work on and had an idea about an online publication that would publish short noir/pulp stories.  I have been a big Ellery Queen fan so I easily got caught up in the idea.  We really just wanted to provide a place for novice writers or not “well established” writers to publish their pulp fiction stories.  I'm happy to say that we’ve been doing that and gotten a lot of praise from writers and readers for providing that venue.

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

JC: I look for pacing, action and having a “pulp” feel.  Our ideal story is less than 6000 words.  That’s a small amount of space in which to draw in the reader, so pacing and action are essential.  We are a pulp/noir zine; so obviously stories need to have a pulp feel.  We do offer stories from many genres (adventure, horror, masked vigilante, and gangland among them) but it’s all written in a pulp style.  


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

JC: If a person doesn’t even introduce themselves in their submission email, that’s an immediate turn off.  Once I start reading if there is an inference of non-consensual sex or gratuitous gore I will stop reading and reject the submission. 


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

JC: Roger’s answer is “The Peter Gunn Theme” he said, “…because Peter Gunn Theme!” lol.  As for me, I honestly couldn’t say.


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

JC: I’ve got to be honest again and say that I don’t have a lot of time to read other magazines or zines.  Both Roger and I work full time and Crimson Streets is a part time “off hours” gig.  Between those two things and all the other mundane life events, that doesn’t leave a lot of time for pleasure reading.  I do enjoy some graphic novels from time to time.  


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

JC: I think a great question would be “what’s the thing you most enjoy OR dislike about working on your publication?”  My answer is that I really enjoy getting to read such a vast array of interesting stories in my job as Editor.  There have been so many stories that I have instantly “fallen” for because of how well written they are and how they leave me with that “Wow!” feeling. 

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

Friday, March 31, 2017

Six Questions for Shloka Shankar, Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Sonic Boom

Sonic Boom publishes experimental poetry, Japanese short-forms including haiku, senryu, and tanka, flash fiction/hybrids/haibun, and visual art in a plethora of media. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Shloka Shankar: I turned to creative writing rather tentatively in my twentieth year, and wrote morbid poetry. I never saw myself as a poet, but it was cathartic, if not anything else. I started doing some research and decided to put myself on the literary map. I began experimenting with different forms along the way, including Japanese short-forms and found poetry, and contemplated starting a journal of my own. I didn’t know if I was being overly ambitious, what with my half-baked knowledge and a few dozen publication credits.

I envisioned for Sonic Boom to provide a platform that would showcase all forms of the written word, without genre distinctions. I wanted the amalgamation of the “mainstream,” the contemporary, and the bizarrely, yet accessible experimental forms of work.


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

SS: Freshness. A strong voice. A risk taker.

What will always stand out in a piece of writing, poem, or artwork is its freshness. Tell us what we know in ways we never thought possible or imagined, in a voice that is uniquely yours, rid of artificiality, clichés, and the “need” to impress. Blend genres, invent your own rules, metre, or form, and, most importantly, be true to your craft.


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

SS: Writers who submit their work without having read our submission guidelines and past issues. We know it can get tiresome to read all the journals out there, but if it’s not a right fit for us, why bother at all?

We are all human and none of us claims to be infallible, so we ignore most spelling errors, but bad grammar and awful sentence constructions make us feel queasy.


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

SS: I try to provide comments and suggestions wherever possible, especially if a piece could possibly find a home elsewhere, or if it truly just wasn’t for us at that time. There’s no such thing as a polite rejection, but we try our best to soften the blow.


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

SS: I enjoy reading Right Hand Pointing, Otoliths, Failed Haiku, the other bunny, The Wanderer, Otata, Bones, Poetry WTF?!, NOON: journal of the short poem, and many other fine journals.


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

SS: What are your future plans for Sonic Boom?

We hope to launch Sonic Boom Press later this year and are eagerly looking forward to publishing chapbooks and e-books by some of our most favourite writers and authors. We will also be coming out with a “best of” early next year.

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