Friday, March 25, 2011

Six Questions for Cynthia Reeser, Editor-in-Chief/Founder, Prick of the Spindle

From the website:

"Prick of the Spindle publishes poetry, fiction (from flash to novella-length), drama, creative and academic nonfiction, and literary reviews. Though we do not publish genre fiction, we are open to different forms. These may be more traditional, but infused with freshness and innovation; or experimental but not chaotic: if it is chaos in complete freedom of form you are aiming at, envelop it within some structure, even if it is only the structure of meaning." Read the complete guidelines here.

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

CR: I'd have to say quality of writing, originality, and strong character development are the primary things Prick of the Spindle editors look for when reading a story. Other things are important of course, like pacing and narrative development. These elements tend to make a better story and result in a tale that flows and sustains that suspension of disbelief that is so important when reading any narrative. If a story draws you in so that you forget you are reading a story, you know you're on to something good. 

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

CR: A lot of stories we reject tend to be too heavy-handed, too slow or sludgy, or simply unfinished. There are few things more frustrating than reading something that is relatively interesting or well-developed that simply stops--without an ending or somehow lacking resolution.

SQF: What other mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a story?

CR: Grammar errors, sloppy editing mistakes, and lack of spark are among the biggest turn-offs. Other things, like poor pacing and inadequate story or character development, can hurt a story's chances for publication.

SQF: What is the best part of being an editor?

 CR: For me, the best part of being an editor is the chance to discover work from writers who have potential but may not have published before or who may be relatively new to writing for publication. Another bonus is the opportunity to help writers develop work that holds potential but that needs editorial guidance to really make it shine.

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?

CR: I also keep a blacklist. It became clear that this was necessary pretty early on in the journal's history. Rude or abusive responses and blatant disregard for submission guidelines (such as excessive submitting) are the easiest ways to ensure you make it to our blacklist and never get published by Prick of the Spindle. It always amazes me how some people take rejection so personally, when we have taken the time to read and consider their work--and we are volunteering our time. If I could tell prospective authors anything about how to respond, I would advise them to take rejection gracefully, realize that their work may have merit but may simply not be right for us, and to realize that there is always room for improvement. Continue to work on your writing. Read the journal you are submitting to before you submit anything. While we often provide specific feedback as to why a piece is rejected with our responses, I always welcome questions about why a particular work was deemed unfit. I appreciate a professional attitude--not surprisingly, it often corresponds with writers who are dedicated to the craft and not the ego. 

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

CR: I understand that Prick of the Spindle was the first literary journal available as a Kindle magazine through Amazon. Do you feel you are reaching a different audience with the Kindle versus with the journal online?

Why yes, Jim, thank you for asking. From the feedback I have heard from Kindle subscribers and readers of the online journal, I notice that having the journal available for the Kindle has allowed our authors' work to reach an expanded audience. It's all about getting great literature out to the people.

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

NEXT POST: 3/28--

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