Vestal Review publishes a semi-annual print magazine and has a web presence devoted to publishing flash fiction not longer than 500 words on a quarterly basis. The magazine accepts works in all genre except children's stories. Vestal Review has been published continuously since March 2000. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a story and why?
MB: Brevity, energy and drive. These are the essentials of flash fiction.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to question one and why?
MB: Cliches, mediocre executions, predictability. These factors sink the story. Publishing is a competitive business. You can't be just adequate and compelling. You need to stand out in the crowded field.
SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?
MB: Stories written for the sake of "surprise" endings. Easy way out such as a terminally ill character. Stories without a plot. Not following the guidelines.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?
MB: Only if a story has a potential. Comments are a tricky business. Some writers get defensive when getting them.
SQF: I read a comment by one editor who said she keeps a blacklist of authors who respond to a rejection in a less than professional manner. I'm sure you know what I mean. What do you want authors to know about the stories you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive?
MB: I don't keep any blacklists, though I do get my portion of "less than professional manners." I prefer that the writers don't enter into a discussion unless I asked them questions.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
MB: Why did you get into such an ungrateful business of editing?
I wish I knew. It's masochism, I guess. Or maybe just the desire to promote the art of fiction writing, particularly flash fiction writing.
Thank you, Mark. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
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