Monday, October 4, 2010

Six Questions for M. Lynam Fitzpatrick, Managing Editor, The Linnet's Wings

The Linnet's Wings publishes creative non-fiction to 1500 words, poetry in all forms, flash fiction to 1000 words, micro fiction to 400 words, and story stories to 7000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

MLF: I have a passion for design and literature, Jim, and the opportunity presented itself when I started to work with a web developer in 2006.  At that time, I was living in Edgeworthstown, in Co. Longford, and uploading my own writing onto the Zoetrope Virtual Studio for critique and review. 

Edgeworthstown and its surrounding areas have nurtured and played host to some of the great writers of the past. The likes of Maria Edgeworth, Lord Byron, Oliver Goldsmith, Jonathan Swift, Anthony Trollope, Padraig Colom and as I walked the boreens (bridle paths) around the area, I used to wonder if there was something special in the air down the years that ignited the voices—a bit of fancy, Jim.

Also while polishing my own craft (still in practice here:)) I met-up with some other passionate writers and editors on Zoetrope. Some who joined me in the venture, and others who very kindly took a chance and allowed us to publish up their work. I'm glad to say that three years on, our original team has grown and we've continued to build in a positive fashion; it's been small steps for us but they've been well executed :).  

Our aim today on The Linnet's Wings is to showcase writers and artists whose work stimulates and challenges the sensibility and imagination of its readers, and to provide a seedbed of inspiration for writer/artists and readers both.

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

MLF: Of course there is the unwritten agreement between writer and editor regarding any submission, and it is that the story they submit will have proper grammar and syntax.  However, the knowledge of same is no good on its own, and naturally a story should have a beginning, middle, an end, and a plot.  But I want to read a story that stays with me, and allows me to visualize the characters and place. For me, good use of metaphor is important. An understanding of language, ie: good word choice that moves the plot forward—a good rich vocabulary, but one that fits the context, and also a strong consistent voice. 

I love the use of device:  letter; list; memoir; etc. these can add to the creative flow and take the story out of a conventional setting.  

Shakespeare explored all plots, so when I read, I'm reading stories that have been retold time, and time again. This makes it difficult for writers to pull away from a slush pile. However it's possible to do it with good use of device, metaphor, and language that's rich in imagery—I know I'm repeating myself—but it's done, in film, and in poetry; a script writer writes to a template, a sonneteer uses a template. And the skillful use of their device allows them to get under the skin of the plot, the characters, the tone and place. 

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?

MLF: It just might not fit our vision for the quarter. We may have reached our quota, and while fitting our criteria, there may be another five stories ahead of it that we'd prefer to use. We have space for about 40,000 words and once she's full we can't stretch her.

SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?

MLF: A character that's marked with an emotion that is developed in a disciplined fashion—back to good word choice and layering ie: use of device.  Also as a reader I need to empathize, in some fashion, even with the most horrible characters.

SQF: Will you publish a story an author posted on a personal blog?

MLF: Yes, I will. If the work is good enough and meets our standards we'll publish it and be pleased to get it!

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

MLF: What steps do we take once a submission reaches us and what does it take to produce a quality magazine? 

All submissions come into my inbox here in the office in Dromod. On receiving them I forward them through to our review team for the quarter in question, and within a week of receipt I reply to the mail. 

We accept subs throughout the year, but we have specific reading periods, for example;  for autumn we'll read for the first two weeks in Sept. During this time, each editor has an opportunity to voice an opinion or critique a story/poem/cnf.  Every submission we receive is read, and during these two weeks we design a story board around our submissions; this gives us an opportunity to see the flow-of-work as our readers will receive it, in their print copy—what works and what doesn't for our final presentation.

By now our web template is built, and she's placed in our design office for photo and art suggestions. 

We then send out acceptance and rejection letters to our contributors. 

On acceptance our writers are asked to proof their work again and send it back to us. It then goes for copy.

Once in copy, we proof for mistakes (we'll nearly always find something, and that's fine, as we'll always miss something as well ) and we might make some suggestions regarding their presentation, however we will not disturb voice, in any way, shape or form.  We then send the proof copy back for our contributors' approval. Once we have that, the work goes up to our desktop publisher where she's prepared for digital and print upload. And then lastly cover templates are fixed for publishing.  A proof copy is then ordered and sent to an editor for review, on their acceptance we put her live. 

As with most literary zines none of our team is paid, we don't pay our contributors, but we know the time and work that goes into creating a good story and poem, so we give it our best this end to ensure a polished product.  

Thanks for the invitation and opportunity Jim, it was much appreciated.

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

NEXT POST: 10/6--Six Questions for Raquel D. Bailey, Founding Editor, Lyrical Passion Poetry E-Zine 

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