Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Six Questions for Larry Lonsby and Dayne Edmondson, Founders/Editors, Beyond Imagination

Beyond Imagination is a digital literary magazine dedicated to all forms of fiction, be it short stories, short-shorts, or poetry. The magazine also features book reviews, interviews with authors and advice articles related to publishing or writing fiction. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Beyond Imagination: We started Beyond Imagination because we want to help authors. I (Dayne) published my first fantasy novel, Blood and Shadows, in August 2013 and knew first-hand how difficult it could be to promote a book on the Internet. So, one day we got the idea for a magazine that didn't just feature one particular genre of fiction, such as science fiction/fantasy, but promoted All forms of fiction. We believe that all forms of fiction have merit and that there is a story for everyone. Beyond Imagination seeks to bring the work of talented authors to readers in the form of prose (short stories, short-shorts), poems, book reviews and author interviews. It's basically free promotion, as we don't charge anything to submit - we're doing this to give authors another avenue of promotion.


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

BI:
  1. We look for a story that makes us feel something. Whether that is horror or laughter or suspense, it has to be engaging. An engaging story will have a better chance of connecting with readers, which in turn causes them to connect with the author on social media, by reading their blog or buying their other published works.
  2. We look for interesting characters. We want the story to make us actually care about the characters and whether they live or die or have a happy ending, etc. One story in particular, which will be in the first issue of our magazine, is a horror story, but the way the author built the character really hooked us. We immediately asked the author if they had other stories featuring that character or other characters set in that world to possibly do a serialization with.
  3. We look for interesting concepts. An interesting concept could be a different take on Cinderella. For example, what if she were evil, and everything she did in the traditional fairytale we all know was really with ill intentions? That story will be in our first issue. Other unique stories that don't just rehash the same tropes of their genre are what we seek.

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

BI: Honestly, a lot of grammatical errors and plot holes or incomplete endings will turn us off pretty quick. We don't expect people to have their stories completely edited, but at the same time, we only proofread the stories before publication, to make sure everything is spelled correctly and grammatically sound. We don't have the time to "fix" a story with lengthy edits, so if it doesn't read clearly, it's a big turn off.

A boring story will cause us to toss it around among the team to get some differing perspectives. What might be boring to one member might be interesting to another. Or another member of the team may have a different perspective on a story. That has happened a few times in going through the initial round of submissions in late 2013.


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

BI: We generally say it's just not a good fit for us and provide a brief summation of what in general we didn't like. We don't want to bash authors in any way, so we might say something like "too many grammatical errors, plot holes" or "needs a better hook" or "didn't interest us." Just because a story doesn't fit for us doesn't mean it may not fit in another publication, so we aim for our comments to help them improve the story so that it may be accepted somewhere eventually.


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

BI: We've learned that stories come in all shapes and sizes. We've also learned that there are such a huge variety of topics that go outside of the genre norms that authors can explore. Going through the submissions, we've learned a lot about our own writing, ways to improve it, ways of looking at the world differently, which is reflected in our writing.


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

BI: One question that wasn't asked and I wish had been was "How did you choose the name of your magazine?" We chose the name of our magazine because when an idea is created by an author it exists solely in their imagination. That setting, those characters, that story exists only in their mind. But when an author takes that leap beyond the boundaries of their mind, essentially going beyond their imagination, and writes that story down, they are sharing something special with the world. No two stories are exactly the same, because each has a unique imagination fueling it.

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


NEXT POST: 4/18--Six Questions for Erin Maggard McClelland and Chris McClelland, Editors, The Provo Canyon Review

Friday, April 11, 2014

Six Questions for David Gray and Mary Gearhart-Gray, Editors, 4 Star Stories

 4 Star Stories publishes science fiction and fantasy stories between 1000 and 5,000 words. Submissions over 5,000 words and up to 10,000 words are serialized in consecutive issues.  Read the complete guidelines here.

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

4 Star Stories:
  1. Exciting stories featuring an original idea or a different slant on an old idea.
  2. Credible, engaging characters.
  3. Interesting, well-plotted stories

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

4SS: Submissions that are not in a standard template. We prefer submissions to be in RTF (Rich Text Format).

Submissions that have not been spellchecked and/or contain grammar or punctuation errors not enclosed in direct quotes.

Derivative stories. Fantasy stories are particularly susceptible to this problem. Write about what you know. It is usually painfully obvious when you don't. If you don't know something, ask someone who does know it.

Show, don't tell. The most common mistake beginning writers make is they tell you what is happening rather than showing you.


SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important than character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important.

4SS: Plot and character are equally important because deficiency in either one can ruin a story.


SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission in 4 Star Stories?

4SS: The same advice that any editor would give them: you can't be published if you do not submit stories. Send us your story.


SQF: What magazines do you read most often? 

4SS: Daily newspaper, "Discover" magazine. I read a lot of history and watch a lot of History Channel on cable TV.


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

4SS: What is another common mistake beginning writers make? Everyone thinks their writing is sacrosanct. Believe me, I know. I'm just as bad as any other writer. Be open to the editor's suggestions. Remember that he/she wants you to turn out a good story as much as you do. The difference is the editor can actually make your story better. Good luck, and keep those submissions coming.

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


NEXT POST: 4/15--Six Questions for Larry Lonsby and Dayne Edmondson, Founders/Editors, Beyond Imagination

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Six Questions for Arjun Choudhuri, General Editor, The Four Quarters Magazine

The Four Quarters Magazine publishes literary prose, poetry (visual and written), essays, artwork, book reviews and more. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Arjun Choudhuri: Because I felt it was necessary. And as time goes by, I find that the necessity that had evoked this attempt on our part has now grown into a compulsion. I simply can’t imagine a world where there is no TFQM. 


SQF: In general, what do you look for in a submission and why?

AC: Language. Good language. Goosebump birthing, clever, precise language. That is primary, and then there is the knot of ideas and expression embedded in the text. Also, since all our issues are thematic, we also look for submissions that somehow fit, and fit near-perfectly, in the scheme we have designed for the issue at hand. This makes it very difficult, of course, to sort through so many subs every quarter. But we follow this pattern with necessary intent.


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

AC: Bad grammar. And an even worse cover letter. And, of course, badly formatted word files.


SQF: How would you describe the perfect story/poem/essay (assuming there is such a thing)?

AC: There is no such thing, of course. But then, that is what I believe.


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

AC: Writing requires a lot of reading. One must essentially read at least ten times more than one aims to write. Mere control over language means nothing, or even the 'writer-ly' impulse that people feel has taken over their senses, and thoughts. Also, when I say reading, I do not only mean the reading of a book, or many books, which is essential, of course. I also mean 'reading' as in the perceiving and reacting of the surrounding texts of one's immediate or ancillary cultures by the individual. But that is a very obvious thing to say, I realise. But, then again, this is what I have learnt over the years as a student of literary studies. My work as the editor of the magazine has only served to teach me the immense truth behind this.  


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

AC: I wish you'd have asked about what we plan to do in the future with the magazine. But you didn't. So I will leave it aside, and answer it when you ask me that. Maybe sometime soon? 

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


NEXT POST: 4/11--Six Questions for David Gray and Mary Gearhart-Gray, Editors, 4 Star Stories

Friday, April 4, 2014

Six Questions for Al Kaspar, Editor-in-Chief, Uncharted Frontier EZine

Uncharted Frontier publishes fiction, poetry, and some photography/art by yet to be discovered talent. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Al Kaspar:

1. Cleanly formatted documents/files. I can't stress enough how important this is and can affect submission acceptance. Because we release mainly to a mobile audience, we have a strict styling format that we have to follow. We do all the hard work in this regard, but sending us a submission that has 3 different fonts, excessive paragraph spacing "for dramatic effect," etc. is never a good thing. We've literally had to turn down a decent story or two because the effort to reformat it would hit our deadlines.

A tip for writers thinking about using fonts, spacing, multi-colors (need I go on?): DON'T. Let your story be the central piece of drama. Everything else will get in the way.

2. Semi-professional presentation. This includes everything from minimal typos (I understand we all aren't editors and can't get everything) to a good grasp of grammar and punctuation. Again, we're not looking for professionally edited submissions (again, that's our job), but I can spot a submission immediately that an author hasn't bothered to proofread. We also have one piece stuck to the wall in the office that had the worst grammar and punctuation I've ever seen. It's creator had a professional writer's bio, but the submission didn't reflect this at all. It looked like they took a play, and pasted it to look like a story. We still try to see who can read it aloud to the end without laughing. To date, no one has.

Another tip for writers: You submissions reflect you as a writer. Be professional, even to the smallest publication, treat them (and your submission) with respect. You never know who will pick up our (or any other) EZine and read it, and it could open up opportunities for you if you do things right.

3. DAMN. GOOD. STORY. This is the most important of my three suggestions, because in the end a good story can always win out. It's a skill to tell a good tale in 3-5 pages, and it's easily the best part of my job when I get a story that has me saying, "Damn I want more!" by the end of it.

To sum up: Always check the submission guidelines, pay attention to the monthly theme, be professional, and believe in your story!


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

AK: Bad grammar and punctuation. Especially if you send me an author by-line full of credits. It shows unprofessionalism and carelessness. If you're not quite comfortable with English grammar, I guarantee you probably know a friend or a relative who is. Have them go through it for you and help you improve it (I suggest this anyway, it's always good to have another pair of eyes on your work).


SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important than character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important. 

AK: Plot and Character are equally important: A one-line plot can sound awesome on paper. But if I don't care about the characters that this plot involves, I won't make it past the first chapter. I do lean (slightly) towards the "Great characters can carry not-so-great plot," but I do think you need a good mix of both.


SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission in Uncharted Frontier?

AK: PLEASE read our submission guidelines. We don't ask for much, and we can tell right away when people don't. Don't end up "in the pile."

Also, read a few past issues to see the kind of things we've published. They're free after all, so you have nothing to lose, and it will only help your chances.


SQF: You look to publish pieces by the undiscovered. Do you work with the writers/artists if pieces aren’t quite ready?

AK: We'd like to think we could, but we're limited on time. In over a year of operation, everything that has been sent our way has been completed.


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

AK: What advice do you have for those who have never published a piece of art/writing/photography before and are considering your publication for submission?

Answer: DO IT! As long as you follow the guidelines for submissions, your piece will get a fair shot. And if we do reject your piece, we'll give you a reason why so you know for the future. Sometimes it's just not the right issue for the piece, and we'll tell you to resubmit.

You really have nothing to lose, and there's nothing like seeing a story you wrote, a picture you took, or a piece of art that you created online for all to see.

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

NEXT POST: 4/8--Six Questions for Arjun Choudhuri, General Editor, The Four Quarters Magazine