The Camel Saloon primarily publishes previously unpublished poetry. Prose pieces of under a thousand words and other material will also be considered. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
RS: I look for dialog, place and time. To me, dialog has to carry and tell the story. I don't want long dense paragraphs of exposition. Let me hear what's happening. And I want to have a definite sense of place--if the story is placed in Chicago, take me on the el, show me around the town, name the streets and bars and how Lake Michigan bangs against the shore. Tell me what time it is, the season and the year. In short, I want to know who I am with, where I am, and when it is.
SQF: What are the top three reasons a submission is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?
RS: Condescension of tone, arrogance of language, self-absorption in detail. Stuffed shirts and the arty, pretentious types can find a home at a different joint. I'll take honesty over art, and blood on the floor over fine wine on the palate any time.
SQF: What other common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?
RS: Stories that don't contain colors, that never mention the weather, that have no context to outside events in the world at large. Life doesn't happen in a vacuum, what's going on around the story? And do not tell me about dreams, that is story-killer, period. So is anything about cats. Those creatures are banned from the Saloon.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
RS: I don't comment when the submission is completely not a fit. I get out of the conversation as quick as I can with a no thanks, mumble, good luck elsewhere. If it's close, I'll suggest two or three areas that could turn the no into a yes. In those cases, I'll invite a re-write.
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
RS: I've learned that I have no clue to what the audience will like. Almost all of the most popular pieces in the Saloon come as a complete surprise to me.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
RS: The question would be: Why don't you allow cats in the Saloon? But if I told the answer, they'd use it to find a way in. So no go on the revelation routine.
Thank you, Russell. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.
NEXT POST: 4/9--Six Questions For Mary J. Levine, Senior Editor, Anobium