Friday, February 27, 2015

Six Questions for Eric Allen Yankee and Caseyrenée Lopez, Co-Chief Editors for Spring 2015 Issue, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal

Twisted Vine is a biannual, innovative journal published by the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies graduate program at Western New Mexico State University. The magazine accepts fiction and poetry in all genres, creative nonfiction, and art, with a preference for cross genre works. Learn more here.

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

Caseyrenée Lopez: 

Quality. Well edited, revised prose and poetry give a polished experience to the reader. There is a certain level of professionalism about polished writing that always puts it on top of the "slush pile."

Innovation. Modern writing must work to subvert and play with old literary tropes. In this day and age, no one wants to read the same material that's been pushed for centuries. Everyone is unique and has a unique perspective, so let that voice shine and give us something that stops us in our tracks.

Interdisciplinary themes. Because Twisted Vine is published by the interdisciplinary studies department, we have a special affinity for work that transcends genre and form. Experimental and hybrid literature often works well within the interdisciplinary theme because it allows writers to have fun with words and form. We like fun.

Eric Allen Yankee:

Clarity.  If nothing makes sense then you need to revise until it does.

Purpose.  Is every line in the poem serving your overall purpose? Was each word carefully considered?  Does the finished product serve the purpose you had in mind when you envisioned the piece?

Feeling.  Make us feel something.  This feeling could be joy, anger, despair, love, etc.  It doesn't matter.  If you're not crying while you write your sad love story then it's just not that sad.


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

CL: Work that is unoriginal, demeaning to minorities (people of color, LGBTQ, women, etc.), explicit sexuality, and gratuitous violence are the big ones.

EAY: Don't give us something unless it is the best you believe it can be.


SQF: When are you opening submissions?

EAY: Twisted Vine is open for submissions until April 15, 2015, and will reopen in the fall.


SQF: What are the word limits for fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry?

EAY:

Prose: 4,500-5,000
Poetry: 10 page max


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

CL: "Keep Me Hanging On" By: Kim Wilde—with that hook and catchy 80s beat who can say no to Kim? No seriously, writers should relate because writing is so hard. Writing can torment your life in the most unfortunate ways—the words are never right, there's always room for revision, it's never complete. But no matter, rejection after rejection we keep hanging on.

EAY: “Suzanne” by Leonard Cohen

Why?  Because I want to see writing that gets me on its wavelength and makes me believe I was always its lover.


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

CL: What are Twisted Vine's plans for the future?

To become a leading arts journal and represent Interdisciplinary Studies across the board.

EAY:

What formats will Twisted Vine be available in?

Twisted Vine's spring 2015 edition will be online at twistedvine.org and will also mark the first time the Journal has appeared in ePub format!  We are also exploring print on demand options.

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

NEXT POST: 3/6—Six Questions for Caseyrenée Lopez, Editor, Crab Fat Literary Magazine

Friday, February 20, 2015

Six Questions for Maryam Piracha, Editor-in-Chief, The Missing Slate

The Missing Slate, based in Islamabad, Pakistan, publishes international visual art, literature (poetry, flash fiction to 1000 words, fiction to 7500 words), and articles (social commentary, op-eds, creative nonfiction).The magazine seeks to publish a diverse range of styles and voices and has published work from over 60 countries and translations from 20 languages. With a broad range of styles and a diverse readership, the magazine offers a home and platform to those not always in the mainstream. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Maryam Piracha: The Missing Slate was established to initiate a global conversation on literature and art, two areas that were rather under-developed in the magazine's originating country (Pakistan) when we first started. I had just wrapped up working with a writers' collective that focused on young South Asian writers and was looking for a change; my creative partner, Moeed Tariq, fresh from an arts collective, was looking at ways to develop a dialog with the country's artists and of bringing the work of more unknown artists to the light, much like I was for literature and essays. So The Missing Slate felt like the perfect vehicle for that. When we started, we didn't dream it would go as far as it was, though however much we've accomplished, we've always stuck to who we are and our original objective: the development of a cultural dialog irrespective of geography. With our joint focus on literature and the arts, we also prominently feature journalism and reportage on important socio-political and socio-cultural movements and issues around the world, conscious always to stay away from mainstream politics. We aren't newspapers and we cannot compete with the depth of their coverage, but what we can do (and have done) is provide reasoned arguments for issues that aren't always in the mainstream media or issues that were important once and have since fallen to the wayside.


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

MP: The top three things we look for in submissions, irrespective of genre (essay, poetry or fiction), is the purpose of the piece and context of the world it embodies, its underlying message and the quality of the prose itself. We also like to publish material that is international and yet true to its inherent nature, basically not international for the sake of being international. It must tell a story, a real story that we as editors can identify with. It must have purpose, a reason for existing that shines through in the quality of prose.


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

MP: The thing that turns me off the most in a submission is firstly aesthetics—there is nothing more insulting, I feel, than writers failing to research the past material we've published and thinking that we're a free-for-all collective willing to publish anything. I would advise writers to be respectful of the time editors take to read through their submissions. Though we cannot afford to pay for submissions, something we are actively trying to change, we do provide a very diverse readership and have helped further the careers of many poets, writers and journalists whom we've had the privilege to publish. So be aware of what you submit, is the message. The other thing that puts me off is when it's a carelessly put together piece, where (in the case of fiction) the plot lines are going nowhere, characters are insufficiently developed, and it's such an overall mess. There might be an underlying message but when it's lost beneath so much muck, and it's clear the author hasn't tried too hard (hello typos and shoddy grammar), there can be nothing more off-putting. A lot of this can be avoided by reading through the magazine and getting the feel of what we do. If it feels like the writer (or poet or essayist) hasn't tried very hard, I think: why should we? We're invested in the careers of the talent we publish but expect some investment in return.


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

MP: We try to be as specific as possible on why a piece was rejected and when we ran our first paying competition, wrote back to each of the people we read whose submissions did not make the cut, with feedback on why the piece didn't work. Due to the volume of pieces we receive, I acknowledge that this isn't always possible, but we try our hardest to write back at least a line or two of feedback of why a piece was rejected and what could be done to improve it.


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

MP: I have the privilege of being a writer and an editor, which I think has informed my abilities as an editor as much as it has on writing and being a writer. I graduated with a Masters in Creative Writing from Lancaster University (as have a number of staff on the editorial team, with related degrees), and was writing for at least nine years before I started editing the work of others. I think, for me personally, coming into the process as a writer first and an editor second has helped remind me of what it's like as an emerging writer, the work one puts in, where the sensitive areas are, how to deal with writers when they can't seem to see past their block (especially in the case of editing essays). It's helped make me a better editor. On the writing aspects of it, I look at the things that Maryam, the editor, would pick up and tweak accordingly, I'm not sure if that fully answers your question, though!


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

MP: It's interesting how this interview has gone to the heart of things. I'm not sure what I'd add into this, though I would speak to the importance of journals that encourage artistic and creative expression, across the world. There are only a handful of them currently and though that does create a niche market, it also speaks to the current status of publishing. I might ask whether we pay our contributors for the work they send us, a sensitive topic no doubt. As I've said above, we don't financially remunerate our talent, though we do try and get the word out about their work, collaborating with other magazines when required, reaching out to publishers and literature festivals (many of which we also live tweet and cover). As a non-profit, we're seeking donations in the attempt to get to the stage where we can offer a financial compensation for the hard work and due diligence any writer shows their work, and we're hopeful that we will reach the stage where all that is possible (and more). But for now, The Missing Slate offers a home to voices not often heard.

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

NEXT POST: 2/27—Six Questions for Eric Allen Yankee and Caseyrenée Lopez, Co-Chief Editors for Spring 2015 Issue, Twisted Vine Literary Arts Journal

Friday, February 13, 2015

Six Questions for Sarah Baker, et. al., Editors, Small Po[r]tions

Editors: Sarah Baker, Breka Blakeslee, Laura Burgher, Lynarra Featherly, Aimee Harrison & Travis Sharp

Small Po[r]tions publishes short[er] work (to 1,000 words) and multi/intermedia art. Each issue has a print component with a focus on book arts and an online component featuring selections from the print issue along with media work. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Small Portions: We were not totally delusional; or perhaps, just the right amount of delusional. The rich world of small presses looked like it had space for what we had to offer, and whether the demand was actually there or not, we knew there was an opening for our tastes. The amazing community we are a part of exists because other people like us have been brave enough to take up their delusions from time to time. We wanted to be a part of this world. We were students writing and writing and wanting to try something different—to try our hand at creation, DIY publishing, stitching and designing. And most importantly, to find a decentered way to be part of this field, and learn how to spend time loving and presenting another's work as editors and publishers.


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


SP: 

  1. Sonic attention to language embedded in (mis)used forms
  2. A balance between new and nuanced
  3. A first line that leads to the end without allowing us to look away

We are interested in ways of grappling with language and themes that are underrepresented in other journals. We love the places where language is skewed, queered, embodied, and made strange.


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


SP: An overly authorial voice telling a direct story with more attention to narrative or plot than language. Although, of course, this type of question is hard to answer completely honestly, as choice in anything we like happens more by instinct.


SQF: Does Small Po[r]tions specialize in a particular genre?


SP: Officially, we do not. We hoped from the start that we could include prose, poetry and new media in equal measure. We do still prefer works that exist in a middle space and are hoping to include more prose and multimedia works in upcoming issues.


SQF: If Small Po[r]tions had a theme song, what would it be and why?


SP: All the Small Things by Blink 182. Could it really be anything else?


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

SP: “How do we handle working between online and print issues?”

Our printing capabilities are limited to small-sized black Risograph prints, so many of our distinctions between online and print publications are made based on size and color constraints. However, we feel that print publications still offer distinct graphic, editorial, and material possibilities, whereas online publications are what most people actually see. While they offer different possibilities, they are both part of the cohesive whole of the journal and are used in a particular way to showcase the work to its highest potential.

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

NEXT POST: 2/20—Six Questions for Maryam Piracha, Editor-in-Chief, The Missing Slate

Friday, February 6, 2015

Six Questions for Meg Pokrass, Founder and Managing Editor, New Flash Fiction Review

New Flash Fiction Review is a flash fiction magazine run by writers and teachers of the form. "We love flash fiction more than feels sane, and we intend to publish pieces which move us in some inexplicable way. We want to see mighty little worlds in your stories. We want your work to wake us up so we don’t need that fifth cup of coffee.” Stories should be no longer than 1000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Meg Pokrass: I started it because I have been an editor for other journals for nearly 6 years and it felt like time to do something of my own. Originally, I was an editor for Smokelong Quarterly, and then later, I became an associate editor for Frederick Barthelme’s New World Writing. I suppose, it just felt like time to do my own thing. I wanted to have more effect on what was or wasn’t published, and I wanted the focus to be flash which is what I write and love.


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

MP: Originality in how a story is told. What we long for is an emotional tug, urgency, passion. What is the point of reading something that doesn’t make us feel? We want to feel swept away. We want to fall in love.


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

MP: 

  • A piece that feels like an underdeveloped short story instead of flash 
  • Imitative writing
  • A feeling one is reading a story that has been done again and again, with nothing new to add, no new insight.

SQF: What is Flash Fix-It?

MP: It is a fancy name for my own offering for editorial feedback. Writers can contact me directly for mentoring, editing, or as an as-needed creative coach. I have done this for quite some time and love doing so.


SQF: If New Flash Fiction Review had a theme song, what would it be and why?

MP: Simple Feeling by The Heartless Bastards.


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

MP: Who are the other editors on staff?

Tiff Holland, Sr. Editor
Pamela Painter, Features Editor
James Thomas, Consulting Editor

A dream team, I feel!

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

NEXT POST: 2/13—Six Questions for Sarah Baker, et. al., Editors, Small Po[r]tions