Thursday, September 15, 2011

Six Questions for Kristin Ginger, Editor, YoYoMagazine

**With input from co-editors Amber Ginsburg and Rebecca Keller

"We are interested in all kinds of work, including that which can be easily categorized and that which defies labels; we publish a variety of sculpture, installations, poetry, prose poetry, fiction, photography, nonfiction, socially-engaged research, essays, editorials, interdisciplinary creations and art of all stripes and varieties." Read the complete guidelines here.


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

AG: Because we publish art, poetry, and narrative (fiction and nonfiction), our definition of a story is very open. It can be made of images (static or moving), sounds, or words. We look for original interpretations of a subject.

KG: We hope to find fresh voices with insightful takes on challenging topics; we’re particularly interested in artistic collaborations and socially engaged pieces.

RK: I’m also drawn in by an interesting topic or connection, something I didn’t know before, or haven’t seen before, or a poetic or surprising juxtaposition or combination. We are interdisciplinary--if you are using words and images and research together in interesting ways, I am very likely to want to work with you--even if we need to do some editorial work together to bring the piece to stronger focus.


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

KG: Spelling and grammar should be a given. Poor writing is the first and most immediate turn off, probably followed by immature or tired takes on a common subject.

AG: Trite metaphors!

RK: Or people who really, truly don’t get it, haven’t read the magazine, or keep sending emails saying they don’t understand our premise and then submit multiple things anyway.


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

KG: Sadly, contemporary attention spans are short, and anything in a story that isn’t absolutely necessary starts to weigh it down. Take the time you need to express the story, but no more than that--brevity is usually better than verbosity. Having said that, of course, there are exceptions; we’re always open to longer short stories that, as Amber says, are a slow simmer.

RK: There are also people whose works are really trying to make a broad/generalized (as opposed to individual and specific) political or social point, and are trying to do it though fiction—this is very tough to do and often these fall into allegory or moralizing. So am I being contradictory to say I love it when it is done well, and stories poetry etc. connect to larger political or cultural issues? The devil is in the execution, I guess. But we also publish non-fiction, essays, and other things that are not easily categorized, which is something I love about YoYo.

AG: The three of us, with divergent practices and creative focuses, are almost always in agreement about not only submissions but areas of concern. We each blind edit a work, and while our suggestions might differ slightly, VERY OFTEN all three of us spot the same sentence, visual placement or other concern in a work. It has been curious and quite remarkable. 



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

RK: A sense of a convincing, and interesting, inner life: If a character HAS character and intelligence.

KG: Strong dialogue.


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?

KG: We believe that stories we reject might very well find a home elsewhere; different publications have different missions. We hope that authors realize a rejection from us is just saying that their work doesn’t fit our vision for this issue, not that we don’t think it should be published by others. Rejection is part of the game. It’s important to get used to it in any artistic profession, and rudeness in response to a rejection only confirms that the rejection was deserved. We are happy to correspond with authors regarding their work--we often have extended email conversations about submissions, both those that were and those that weren’t accepted.

RK: I don’t think we’ve had too many of those so far...but people need to behave with maturity. But, as Kristin says, we have had extended email conversations with submitters--I like to think they were helpful.

AG: Agreed.


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

AG: How is your publication different from other publications? 

RK: I second that--because we have a unique structure that is responsive and iterative; each issue builds on a conversation and upon other works.

Thank you, Amber, Rebecca, and Kristin. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

NEXT POST: 9/19--Six Questions for Dena Rash Guzman, Editor, Unshod Quills

Monday, September 12, 2011

Six Questions for Tyler Gobble and Layne Ransom, Editors, Stoked Journal

Stoked publishes literary poetry, fiction, and nonfiction, as well as interviews and book reviews. Read the complete guidelines here.


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

SJ: RELENTLESS ENERGY, FUN and PUNCTUATION


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

SJ:
  1. The writer is afraid, like seriously scared, and won't get his/her head out from under the pillow to be like WOO and make us wanna believe in magic.
  2. Story/poem is full of moons and birds and dead white dudes, all just sitting around half-asleep.
  3. A lack of understanding of The Punctuation Balance principles, like too many ////// or not even one semicolon -- WUZZZZZ IN THE WORLD IS UP WITH THAT?


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

SJ:
  1. bad sense of self, like ugh I'm a fat kid, or a voice that rolls over itself
  2. obvious lack of editing/revising
  3. that bullshit where the writer includes blurbs from his/her buddies or videos of him/her reading poems which fill up four times as much room as the two poems he/she sent.


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

SJ: ACTION is cool. Make them move, I mean really MAKE THEM MOVE. Also, dynamite and big arms. Also also, we like sexiness but can't really admit that respectably. oopz.


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?

SJ: I like talking to people. It's no fun being stoked alone.


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

TG: A/S/L?
22/M/My Parents' House

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

NEXT POST: 9/15--Six Questions for Kristin Ginger, Editor, YoYoMagazine

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Six Questions for Gay Degani, Editor, Flash Fiction Chronicles

Flash Fiction Chronicles is interested in helping fiction writers create high-quality flash fiction. Learn more here.


SQF: What is Flash Fiction Chronicles?

GD: Flash Fiction Chronicles comes out of Every Day Publishing whose flagship site is Every Day Fiction. It was originally conceived as a blog, an adjunct to the forum that already exists there and the triumvirate at EDP, Camille, Jordan, and Steven, posted on that forum they needed someone to oversee the blog. I was standing in the back row and when no one volunteered, I decided, oh well, why not? It can't be that big a deal the mediate a blog that others will write.

That had been the concept, to give writers who were published at EDF and who participated in the forum a place to write about writing and, yes, link to their stories. So with that in mind, I said yes. Haha! That was over two years ago, and we've turned into something quite different. This happened because they told me I could do anything I wanted: carte blanche, and because although some of the great writers at EDF put up posts, it didn't take me long to realize that if I didn't actively solicit, I would be the only one writing. Thus we morphed from a plain do-it-when-you-want blog to a controlled substance with a mission statement.

Our goal is to help in the growth of quality flash fiction for writers and readers online and in print. This site is dedicated to the discussion of the art and craft of flash fiction, fiction in general, and the issues of writing, marketing, and publishing today.

Amazing what happens when you draft one of those!


SQF: FFC includes articles about flash fiction. What are you looking for in an article submission?

GD: We're very open. We've had to be because it seems most writers of fiction are not tuning up their computers daily to write non-fiction articles. However, we've been very lucky with our contributors and found that just about anything that has to do with the writing life--on the page and off--can work. My ideal article would be around a thousand words (just like a flash) and explore some aspect of craft or writing experience that has the possibility of getting some writer out there in the ether excited about writing or give him or her an answer to a craft problem. We have a list of suggestions for article topics on our About/Submit page. You'll also find our submission manager there from Submishmash. So easy for us and so easy for writers.


SQF: What are the main reasons an article is rejected?

GD: Lack of self-editing. In the beginning, I was willing to help edit any piece that had a kernel of an idea but as we've grown, I find taking the time to do that more and more difficult even with our added staff of Michelle Reale, Jim Harrington, and Erin Kelly. So many people have great ideas, but they don't follow through to a polished article. We also will occasionally get fiction which shows me that many writers, usually new, don't investigate the venues they send to.


SQF: Should writers query before sending an article?

GD: A query isn't necessary and sometimes annoying. I've had writers send me query after query and never deliver the article. I'd rather have a finished, polished, and proof-read article submitted through our sub-manager than to take the time to answer queries. And as we grow we are becoming more and more selective even though we've expanded our publishing from two days a week to three. However, nothing is lost by sending something to us. We want to read it and our acceptance rate is still high.


SQF: Do you provide feedback for rejected articles?

GD: We do. If the article has a good idea, but just needs more info or a slightly different slant so it works for flash, we encourage writers to do that. We accept almost all rewritten articles. We like the effort writers make, and we know that sometimes it takes more than one trip through a piece of writing to get it where it needs to be.


SQF: Besides articles, what other materials will readers find on your site?

GD: Ahhhhhh, well. Now you are talking. With a staff, we've been able to expand some of our features. For example, you, Jim, have helped us tremendously by becoming our Markets editor organizing the different venues by word count. This is an incredible help for those of us who end up with a lot of shorter pieces. Duotrope--as wonderful as it is--can be somewhat cumbersome for flash writers. We also have lists of "havens" for encouragement and motivation as well as "communities" that encourage writers with prompts and feedback. And speaking of prompts, my favorite job is posting our Daily Prompt feature which contains ten random words and a quotation to jump start a writer's day. The wonderful thing about the Daily Prompt is that it's led us to our annual String of 10 Contest.

The String of 10 Contest happens every February. This is the only week we post the same string of ten words and a quotation every day and ask writers to send us their 250 word stories. We have a guest judge who selects the top three stories. Prizes include publication for First Place at Every Day Fiction and a chance (if chosen by the readers and staff at EDF) to be in the Best of Every Day Fiction anthology while Second and Third are published at Flash Fiction Chronicles. All three winners are interviewed at FFC.

We also plan to reinvent our Fabulous Flash feature with Erin Kelly discovering and discussing great flash on-line and we are launching Michelle's Reale's Slant, her personal interviews with writers, editors, and publishers. These two features will be in addition to our two other regular monthly columns, Aubrey Hirsch's First Mondays and Rumjhum Biswas' Rumjhum's Ruminations.

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

NEXT POST: 9/12--Six Questions for Tyler Gobble and Layne Ransom, Editors, Stoked Journal

Monday, September 5, 2011

Six Questions for Anne M. Stickel, Editor, Black Petals

Published quarterly, Black Petals is about the dark side of Science Fiction, and the bizarre and unusual in Horror. We publish short fiction, novel excerpts, poetry, and illustrations. We review books too. Read the complete guidelines here.


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

AS: Scary or supernatural elements are best because that's what we're about, but it is perfectly okay for the story to have a happy ending or erotic content. We even had one tale that ended with a recipe! A color-coded system is used to categorize an accepted story with a phrase to summarize content when listed for editing/illustrating purposes:

Violet = violence, the undead, monsters 
Black = end-of-the-world, tragic lovers 
Green = eerie forces of nature
Blue = science fiction, space aliens 
Pink = ghosts, strange gods, demons 
Red = psychosis, the surreal

Since stories are illustrated, they should spark an artist's imagination too.

A unique style or at least clear writing (with as few typos/grammos as possible) pleases us. Otherwise, too much time goes into copyediting versus content. Willingness to work with the editor is a must, even for poets. Editor Crist manages the art and web posting.


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

AS: When an author submits a piece showing lack of basic mastery of the English language, especially when our posted guidelines have been ignored, and punctuation is hit and miss, the work is likely to be rejected, regardless of content. Always query first.

The story content is merely mainstream, and the speculative element is missing.

The author fails to return the release allowing us to publish the piece, especially if they then tell us that, oh, by the way, it was a simultaneous submission and has been accepted elsewhere.


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

AS: Four-letter words are allowed, but not when other words would work better...and they usually do. Using words like 'that' and 'made his way' to the point of distraction is another pet peeve, as is the use of periods where commas (or semicolons) belong and vice versa. The biggest problem, though, is failure to read our posted guidelines and sending us a double-spaced story in the wrong font, especially if the title is in a different font from the body of the text. I once read a book on writing stating that somewhere out there is an editor who will take a piece, no matter what: sorry, not me.


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

AS: Usually the comments are brief, since writers are easily offended by being told the detailed reasons for rejection. BP doesn't reject very many stories because we're on the lookout for new voices. Sometimes an author will ask for reasons, and then we go into more detail. Sometimes a story makes it all the way into the 'zine and an author then asks to have it removed because they don't want their stuff out there for personal reasons or suddenly decide they don't like anyone editing them (warts and all). Most are happy with the editing and online appearance (courtesy of webmaster-coeditor K. Crist).


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

AS: Virtually all of our readers are writers too, and many of them teach creative writing. Most of us writers take ourselves way too seriously and fail to have any fun doing it. BP is a for-love-of venue, which is why I enjoy it so much, and have met many unsung but highly accomplished writers (none of them 'famous', but many of them multiply-published). I see the editing as my volunteer job, the way others see working in a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Really, though, writing is an addiction, and I love hanging out with the other addicts. I expect them all to surpass me, and I want to see them shine bright enough to inspire the next generation of writing readers.


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

AS:
Q: How do you like working with other editors?
A: Nothing beats working with one's soul mates.

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

NEXT POST: 9/8--Six Questions for Gay Degani, Editor, Flash Fiction Chronicles