Monday, June 27, 2011

Six Questions for Kara Ferguson, Editor, Midnight Screaming

"Midnight Screaming is currently looking for poetry, flash, and short fiction that is strange and unusual. We like odd, creepy, terrifying, unnerving, and spine tingling stories that are hard to categorize. The editor is especially fond of stories with a bit of humor, sarcasm, or satire. While we will publish horror, we're not impressed with horror which includes graphic violence and blood and guts for shock value. We are not interested in erotica." Read the complete guidelines here.

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

KF: A story needs to draw me in instantly. We only publish stories up to 3,000 words so the hook has to happen quickly! I like writers who have found their voice and are comfortable in their storytelling. It's easy to spot someone who's struggling with that because the writing feels forced. Everything in Midnight Screaming must have a dark element. It's our thing, that's what we do.

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

KF: Submission guidelines, submission guidelines, and did I mention submission guidelines? Aside from that, graphic violence and gore for the shock value of it. I also reject poetry that doesn't use punctuation. Sometimes, the writing is just bad, but honestly I don't see that too often these days. Oh, and single spacing flash and short stories. I spend all day looking at computer screens. My eyes simply cannot take pages of text that aren't double spaced.

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

KF: Some people just don't proof read. I get stories where there are two or three typos in the first paragraph. Titles can sour me to a story too. The title is the first impression, make it a good one. Untitled, or "You can call it whatever you want" is not acceptable.

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

KF: Only when I really liked the story, but I didn't feel it fit the magazine by not being dark at all, or dark enough. Something along those lines. Honestly, I just do not have the time to give comments on submissions. I wish I did.

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

KF: The first draft is never good enough. Work with a writers' group. Don't take it personally when you get rejected. Don't flood a market with everything you've ever written, it's annoying.

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

KF: Hmm, I don't know. These were all great questions! Maybe something about how to market yourself, or networking. To which I would respond: Take advantage of social networking, but stay professional because we might read what you put out there. Go to conventions and conferences! Meet people, make them remember you (in a good way), rub elbows and make connections, and don't be afraid to tell us you met us somewhere. Unless you didn't, that would be bad!

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

NEXT POST: 6/30--Six Questions for Zack Wentz, Editor, New Dead Families

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