Monday, July 11, 2011

Six Questions for Rycke Foreman, Executive Chef, 69 Flavors of Paranoia

69 Flavors of Paranoia publishes short stories (2,500 words or less preferred, will consider up to 3,500) and flash fiction under 1,000 words. Genres accepted include horror, urban-fantasy, slipstream, and speculative. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

RF: Well, we've started 69FoP twice, so I hope ya got a few minutes...

The first time we put the tasty old beast together was in August 1996, when all the right ingredients just sorta collided simultaneously. It was just before the internet really took hold of the world, and as the old timers may remember, getting published back then was hell. Hell, finding horror friendly publications was a hell of its own back then. Anyway, the horror market was trying to grow, but half-a-dozen magazines that had accepted stories of mine had folded before publication, and a few other writers I knew were grumbling about the same thing, so I thought the genre was sputtering.

At the same time, (my wife) Miranda's longtime dream of becoming a graphic artist was coming into focus, and both of us were looking for a place to hone our skills. Within months, 69 Flavors of Paranoia was born. It lasted for three years, then folded on issue #13, shafting a bunch of writers the way I was shafted by many other mags. (Sorry guys!)

Then, almost a decade later, I mentioned that I'd been thinking a lot about 69FoP. Miranda giggled and said she'd been thinking the same thing. Somehow, we managed to put it all together in about 3 months, and launched the online version of 69FoP thirteen years to the day from our original release date. We've been going strong ever since...but then again, the new Menu #13 is coming up soon...

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

RF: I want to be entertained. I do look for good writing and strong story elements, too, but the most important factor is to entertain me!

I've taken a few stories that would have otherwise been rejected, just because they were so completely entertaining, in spite of their flaws. I've also accepted a couple of stories that were well-written enough for me to get past their lackluster story. But mostly, it takes all three.

*A strong opening sentence should get an honorable mention here. Compel me to keep reading!

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

RF: First are stories that read like synopses--the authors tell the stories instead of showing them. In those shorts, we the readers get all the action, all the events, but we never feel the drama on a gut level; we never get sent on the characters' emotional journeys, which is what most good fiction is about.

Second are "first draft" manuscripts, full of typos, misspellings, excessive verbiage, bad grammar, over- or under-punctuation and more. Editors aren't there to clean the entire house, they're there to give the white glove treatment and find the occasional plate stuffed under the couch cushion.

The third no-no is in some ways related to the second: sloppy writing. This could be anything from invoking deus ex machina to wild character inconsistencies to downright (unintentional) contradiction, and almost half of the stories we receive have them. That really drives me crazy!

SQF: Approximately what percentage of your submissions do you accept?

RF: I'll have to guess here, but I'd say we accept about one out of every seven short stories on slow months, and maybe one in twelve when inundated with heavy submissions.

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

RF: We'd consider it. It would have to be removed from that blog, or at least radically altered for its appearance in 69FoP, but sure.

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

Q: "Do you make fun of your contributors behind their backs?"

A: Of course not. All of our contributors are wonderful people who work hard to perfect their craft and entertain our readers to the best of their abilities, and we would never invoke harsh words upon them. Okay, that oughtta hold those little assholes for a while. Wait, is this mic still on...?

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

NEXT POST: 7/14--Six Questions for John Carr Walker, Editor, Publisher, Trachodon

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