Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Six Questions for Jason Cook, Founding Editor, Fiddleblack

Fiddleblack’s mission is a basic path toward the discovery (and sometimes rediscovery) of literary and speculative works that eloquently capture what it means to know the finite bounds of self and place. Learn more here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

JC: Fiddleblack was started with the same impetus I think drives many small record labels. I was unable to find another press or journal focusing solely on the sort of material I enjoy writing and reading, so I felt the creative responsibility to build the space I could not find.


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

JC: I believe we carry a more technically specified mission statement than most other journals, and we tend to know rather quickly whether a submission will fit or not. At the top of the list, we look for a capable quality of writing, whether the piece demonstrates atmospheric elements, and whether the piece speaks to us in some transgressive manner. Our acceptances sometimes come to work that isn't quite a match-by-mission, yet it's a match-with-heart or something possibly inspiring to us, in terms of aesthetic deviation.


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

JC: Often we receive submissions that have not been informed in the least by our catalog. This includes stereotypical genre work, poetry, school papers, and so forth. Moreover, we're turned off by work with very boring, uneventful content. On occasion, we receive emails from authors close to our catalog with snippets from news articles, things that sound like Fiddleblack stories but are, of course, real life events. It's disappointing to see the number of authors submitting work that's wholly and drably imagined when all of society's daily machinations go on providing far more interesting, dreadful, lacerating ideas by the minute. 


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

JC: We almost never provide feedback for rejected submissions. On the rare occasion that we do, often the submitter is first being welcomed to submit again. There's enough specificity in our mission, catalog, podcast, and print books to spell out what it is that we're publishing. We don't believe any niggling comments may help. However, this is not to say an author cannot or should not first write in with a story idea, brief writing sample and so forth. Upon request, we may happily provide notes.


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

JC: Less so than writing, the process of driving Fiddleblack for myself, and for our associate editor Melissa Lewis, has taught quite a bit about art. The literary journal world is an overcrowded and anxious place made by its contemporary design to support the self-validation of many students and exploratory writers. I don't feel as though we have much common ground with that arena. Instead, our company's experience up until this point has more clearly revealed the shape of the publishing landscape, or at least our bettered opinion of it. Writing will go on reflecting people's fantasies. How (and where) publishing chooses to show those fantasies feels like the closer art to us.


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

JC: I thought you might ask where we see the press/journal going in five or so years. I try to pay attention to the goings-on at this level, with Night Train having closed, Mud Luscious closing, groups like PANK straddling the scene. There's a perception folks have of these journals, that they're fleeting, and in many cases I believe they are. The old-guard journals with academic ties have existed as they have because of their funding. Night Train endured from, I think, love. Many of the others seem to exist because they're perceived as cool, as a cool thing to be a part of or as a self-validating thing to have started. I'd like to believe we're small and controlled enough to shy away from trend-riding, economic hardship, and so forth. So I to say we'll be here, still pushing a handful of projects at a time, hopefully closer to our authors than ever.


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

NEXT POST: 8/2 -- Six Questions for Jeremiah Walton, Editor, Walking Is Still Honest

Sunday, July 28, 2013

August Schedule at Six Questions For. . .

Below are the August posts by date.

8/02—Six Questions for Jeremiah Walton, Editor, Walking Is Still Honest
8/06—Six Questions for Joy Crelin, Editor and Publisher, Betwixt
8/09—Six Questions for Bruce Bethke, Editor-in-Chief, Stupefying Stories
8/13—Six Questions for Jack Hill and Ana Maria, Editors, Crossed Out Magazine
8/16—Six Questions for Jamez Chang, Flash Fiction Editor, Counterexample Poetics
8/20—Six Questions for Bernie Mojzes and A.C. Wise, Editors, Unlikely Story
8/23—Six Questions for Darryl & Melissa Price, Editors, Olentangy Review
8/27—Six Questions for Annabelle Carvell and Carlotta Eden, Co-Founders/Editors, Synaesthesia Magazine
8/30—Six Questions for Alexander J. Smith and Adonis Leboho, Editors, Dead Beats


If you stop by, leave a comment for the editor/publisher. If you’re an editor or publisher and would like to participate, or know of a publisher who might be interested, please contact me at sixquestionsfor@gmail.com. Finally, please share this information with your subscribers, authors, Facebook and Twitter followers, and writing friends.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Six Questions for Lynne M. Thomas, Editor-in-Chief, and Michael Damian Thomas, Managing Editor, Apex Magazine

Apex Magazine publishes fiction to 5000 words, poetry and nonfiction in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Apex Magazine: We are looking for sparkling prose, interesting ideas, and heartrending emotion, preferably simultaneously. We want stories that make us, and our readers, feel. 


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

AM: Bad prose, generic ideas, an inability to create genuine emotion in the reader. Blatant manipulation, gratuitous violence or sex that does't make sense within the confines of the story and its thematic thrust, and sloppy writing tend to turn us off. 


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

AM: No. Our guidelines clearly state that we don't accept previously published fiction, and any reprints we may solicit cannot have been freely available on the web.


SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions 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?

AM: In general, we discourage authors from soliciting comments about rejections. We encourage writers submitting to Apex to make use of writers' workshops (often, convention-based workshops are very inexpensive), and writer groups or meetups to get feedback on their stories.

It really is a problem of sheer volume. We have hundreds of stories that come through our system, and we just don't have the time to provide individual critiques. 

The one exception is that if writers receive personalized rejections from the Editor-in-Chief, they may request clarification on the points raised in the personalized letter. But if you see "does not meet our needs at this time," that's really what it means. Send us a different story instead! 

There are lots of reasons why stories get rejected that may have nothing to do with the basic quality of the story. We reject a lot of stories that have absolutely nothing wrong with them, but just aren't to our taste. We may already have another story with similar themes or tropes in inventory. We may not be looking for that type of story because we just ran one in the previous months. 


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

AM: Finding amazing stories and sharing them with the world. We love that moment when we finish reading a submission and our reaction is "WOW." Those are the stories we buy.


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

AM: Q. What do you prefer to see in cover letters?

A. Keep it simple. Let the story speak for itself. Don't tell us what it's about!

Dear [look up the name of the CURRENT Editor-in-Chief of the market in question and spell it correctly]

Attached please find my story, "title" [x] words long. I have been previously published in [list pertinent credits if any] and [awards information if any]. 

 I hope that you enjoy it. 

Warmly,
 Writer!

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

NEXT POST: 7/30--Six Questions for Jason Cook, Founding Editor, Fiddleblack

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Six Questions for Judith Lawrence, Editor/Publisher, River Poets Journal

River Poets Journal publishes poetry, short stories, flash fiction, essays, short memoirs, novel excerpts, and art. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

JL: Nine years ago I became a member of a long running (initiated in the 70’s) writers group in Lambertville, NJ (River Poets), and was nominated as coordinator for the group a year later. The excellent work of some of the previously unpublished writers of the group inspired me to publish what in the beginning was a locally distributed newsletter to display our talents. In a relatively short time the newsletter evolved into the River Poets Journal, which opened to submissions locally, the US, and Internationally through word of mouth, and various listings online.


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

JL: A unique writers voice is what attracts me at first. Popular, stylistic, poetry/prose rarely captures my attention. Sometimes writing is over-learned in classes, or representative of the teacher’s or studied subject’s body of work. I like the rawness of the pure untarnished colloquial voice  in the reading. Having something to say is essential to me. That is to say, I’m not impressed with a great volume of rarely used words thrown together to impress the reader with the vast knowledge of the writer on command of English, tricks of writing, ancient history, or the places they’ve traveled. If it’s a place they traveled to, then take me to the room they stayed in, and teach me about the local ambience, the people, the experiences.  I want to be startled, drawn into the poem/story/memoir, even if it’s in the stillness, or the lines between the lines of the work. When writers ask what I’m looking for, my answer is most always a symbolic reference to the French movie, “Amelie.” There is a scene in which the main character grabs a blind man by the arm and propels him through the courtyard, commenting on all she sees as they walk together, until she deposits him in the village square, and he is suddenly transformed by her images. That’s what I look for. I want the writer to grab me by my lapel, take me on the journey, make me see what they see, feel what they feel, and care about it.


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

JL: Self-indulgent poetry, normally beginning each sentence with I. Poems/Prose about nothing. Shock poems/prose with un-necessary profanity. A lack of rhythm, lack of lyricism, metaphor, in poetry/prose. Gimmicky poems/prose. Over-sentimental poems/prose best meant for family/loved ones/greeting cards. Quirky formatting impossible to use in a journal with space constrictions. Not proofing sufficiently, although if the poem/prose is brilliant, I’m happy to suggest minor edits.


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

JL: If I see the writer has potential, I always provide comments. I can be a bit lax to responding to all of the rejected submissions in a timely manner. Although I never want to hold a piece of work hostage, the amount of work required for each issue takes months to prepare for. A good deal of work is with correspondence.


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

JL: Good writers abound. I’m thrilled when I find an unpublished writer who definitely should have been published, and that River Poets Journal is the first literary magazine that was intelligent and fortunate enough to recognize and showcase their talent. ;-0.  Also, due to the volume of work I review, I have become a better writer myself.


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

JL: Why we do what we do?

Something I ask myself all the time, due to the amount of work involved, but if it became necessary to give this up, I might be delaying the lowering of my coffin, just so I could release that next amazing issue. It is a kind of insanity.

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

NEXT POST: 7/26--Six Questions for Lynne M. Thomas, Editor-in-Chief, and Michael Damian Thomas, Managing Editor, Apex Magazine

Friday, July 19, 2013

Six Questions for Hydra M. Star, Editor, Infernal Ink Magazine

Infernal Ink Magazine is a different sort of a literary magazine, in that we are focused on publishing extremely dark and violent fiction and poetry, of all genres. We favor pieces with erotic, sexual, or humorous aspects, but love anything that disquiets the minds of our readers. Read the complete guidelines here.


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

HMS: Sex, gore, and blasphemy.

Those three elements sum up fairly well what Infernal Ink is all about, but a story need not have all three. Blasphemy or gore on their own can be enough to sell me on story, but it helps greatly if it also has an erotic element. I will always favor the stories that do. Also, blasphemy need not be of the religious or serious sort. There are plenty of other sacred cows in our society and culture to barbecue besides religion and often satire is the best way to get the grill burning.

We want to be a home for the sorts of stories many other horror and dark fiction publishes would reject because they go too far, aren’t appropriate for younger readers, or might otherwise offend. We want to offend uptight and morally rigid people. It makes up happy when we do.


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

HMS: There really isn’t any common mistake multiple would-be contributors have made that turns me off. A few of them have needed to learn how to better format their stories, but I’m far more laid back when it comes to that sort of thing than many other editors. I can clear the formatting on a piece with just a few clicks of my mouse. It’s no big deal and such little work. It does not greatly bother me.

I’d say the one thing that has turned me off the most has been the few people who have told me too much about the story before I had chance to read it. I don’t ask for a synopsis to be included with story submissions for a reason. I like to read stories the way a reader of the magazine will, with no knowledge of where the story is going.


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

HMS: We accept reprints, of all types. So, that is not a problem. I may ask the contributor to remove the post from their blog, if I know about it. Writers who are submitting pieces that have been included in their blog should be prepared to do this, with or without me asking them.


SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions 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?

HMS: Most of the rejection letters I send out are sent solely because the piece didn’t fit well with the basic theme of the magazine. These rejections aren’t a reflection of the author’s skill as a writer.

We get a lot of horror or dark fiction submissions that are lacking in gore or sex. If there is enough of a “creepy factor” with these kinds of submission, sometimes, I will take them, but by and large most of what I reject are nicely written non-extreme horror stories. I, also, reject quite a bit of erotica that lacks any sort of horror or supernatural elements that would make it acceptable for a mostly horror market.

I’ll usually send the author a note stating exactly why their story is not a good fit for us, explain what it was lacking to make it right for us. Sometimes, I won’t. It really depends on the story and how far off the mark it was. In a few cases, I will include a link to another magazine, either run by a friend or one edited by someone I have worked with in the past, if I believe the story I am rejecting will be a better fit with them. A couple of writers have been accepted into these magazines and had work I had rejected published with them.

Additionally, I’ve had a handful of authors send me a second or even third submissions after a reject or ask me questions about their rejection. I welcome this. I really don’t mind extended interaction with authors, as long as it’s not argumentative and I feel I’m sharing things with them that might aid them. Of course, everyone has a different opinion on what will and won’t aid a writer, that is fine. I have a block feature on my email I’m not shy about using, if communications go in a hostile direction. I don’t waste time on such negativity.


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

HMS: Meeting new and up-and-coming writers and getting to read their work, often times, before anyone else.


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

HMS: These have all been great question, but I would ask myself about read time. Understanding what the read time is for any market is important. Also, rather or not to expect a reply, if the piece is not accepted. I, personally, find it rather callous and unprofessional not to send a reply to all submissions. Even if it is just a form letter or a two line note, I think editors should send out something letting the author know the status of their submission.

There are, naturally, glitches with any email system and delays that cannot be avoided, but I aim for a 100% reply rate on all submissions and a read time of three weeks or less. Usually, our read time is much less than three weeks. I would encourage any writer who has not heard back from me after a month or more to email me to inquiry about their submission.

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

NEXT POST: 7/23--Six Questions for Judith Lawrence, Editor/Publisher, River Poets Journal



Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Six Questions for Emily Wenstrom, Founder and Editor, wordhaus

Wordhaus is a weekly publication containing new stories in romance, mystery/thriller and sci-fi/fantasy. 

At wordhaus, we're just nuts for a good story. So we figured we’d get some, and share them with all our friends. Good stories. Fun stories. Stories that can go straight to your email or RSS, travel with you in your e-reader or tablet. Hip modern techie stories. It's a new digital age out there writers--let's work together to claim a little piece of it. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

EW: I felt very strongly that publishing can do a better job of trying new things to make the most of the tools of the digital age to connect writers and readers. I slowly started to form an idea of what a digital-age, web-based short story zine could look like--something that covered popular genres instead of heady literary content, something that was easy for average readers to access, and also took advantage of its online platform to promote its authors and help them build a reader base. Following after the blog model, it posts a piece of content weekly. As the idea filled out and I could not find anything else trying out my model, it finally occurred to me to try it myself. 


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

EW:
  1. The first thing I check is that guidelines were followed -- that this story fits in one of my genres (romance, mystery/thriller, sci-fi/fantasy) and is under the 2,000 max word count. 
  2. Clean writing--this covers everything from grammar and spelling to a clear plot. You'd be surprised how often I read stories only to find there is no climax, or no conclusion.
  3. A main character that you want to root for.


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

EW: Sloppy submissions. My publication may be new and small, but I can still tell if a writer bothered to clean up their draft before submitting. 

Submissions that don't follow guidelines. I can tell if a writer followed guidelines before I even open it--we ask writers to include their story's genre in the subject line. When I see a writer didn't do this, I expect to find other oversights and sloppiness in the story, too. 

Stories outside of our publication's parameters. We print stories up to 2000 words, in the genres of romance, mystery/thriller, and sci-fi/fantasy. It felt like a pretty broad range of content, but I still get a fair amount of submissions outside of that, from people who clearly did not take the time to see what wordhaus is about. 


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

EW: Generally not. Just because a story is not right for wordhaus does not mean it is wrong. 


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

EW: So much! I've learned a lot about clarity in plot points, the power of a sympathetic main character, and just how important those submission guidelines can be. The most surprising thing I've learned is the power of the first line--I've come to think of a story's first line similarly to how I think of a news article lede. It's a critical pivotal point where a reader decides to read a story or passes on to something else. Online attention spans are short!


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

EW: How can writers submit stories to wordhaus?

For wordhaus, we look for stories up to 2,000 words in length in the genres of romance, mystery/thriller, and sci-fi/fantasy. Email submissions to wordhauspub@gmail.com, with your name, title, and full story directly in the email body. Include the genre of story you are submitting in your subject line. 


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

NEXT POST: 7/19--Six Questions for Hydra M. Star, Editor, Infernal Ink Magazine

Friday, July 12, 2013

Six Questions for Terrie Leigh Relf, Editor of Bloodbond

Bloodbond is a new, bi-annual magazine that publishes short stories, poems, articles, reviews and interviews related to vampires, werewolves, and shape shifters, with special interest in those stories that include a science fiction element. Read the complete guidelines here.


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

TLR: The top three things often shift for me. In general, however, I will look at the author to determine if I’ve read anything by them in the past and/or if they’ve been published by other publications I’ve edited. I like to assist new writers, so if it’s someone I’m working with, that’s also something I look for. We do like to have regular contributors for obvious reasons. What are those obvious reasons? We already know we like their brain matter!

The second thing would be the story itself. Do I like it and/or would our readership like it? There are some stories that may not grab me personally, but I still know they would appeal to our audience. I also might choose something that is unusual. Does that make sense? 

Probably the main reason I’ll accept a story, poem and/or article is that indefinable something (often defined after pondering. . .) that coalesces in my body-mind. Does the writing give me chills? Does it freak me out? Does it cause me to pause? Does it gross me out? Does it inspire me? Is it clever? Do I wish I wrote it? And so forth and so on. . .


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

TLR: There are several and they can all probably be categorized into three columns with permeable membranes. I’ll let you (or your readers) create the columns, so here are the contents (in non-hierarchical order): 1. The submitter clearly hasn’t read the guidelines, or if they have, they don’t believe the guidelines apply to them; 2. The submitter hasn’t read an issue (note: We’re currently focusing on issue 1, so this doesn’t apply to Bloodbond, but it does to the other publications I edited for Sam’s Dot Publishing.); 3. The submitter doesn’t proofread, edit, or use correct document formatting; 4. The story needs revising; 5. While stories (or poems) don’t necessarily need to make sense, there needs to be some ground (or a space tether hooked to a Mother Ship) or entrance to the piece (preferably not too large of an obstacle course); 6. The submission is from someone who spams us regularly; 7. The submission is from someone who is high maintenance (i.e., acts as if I work for them, which I do, in a sense, but I think you know what I mean, and if not, ask me!); 8. The poem (or short story) is really a novel in disguise and so I encourage them to handle it accordingly; 9. The submission is an unsolicited revision (and I haven’t been encouraging. . .) and it’s still not grabbing me; 10. While the proverbial everyone is entitled to have an off day or two (or even three), if I kindly decline your offerings, please respond in kind. Remember Patrick Swayze in Road House!; and 11. Because I prefer odd numbers. . .In the case of articles and other non-fiction submissions, I’m a stickler for citations and other professional writing accoutrements. 


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

TLR: Sometimes. It depends on the space-time continuum, though. For example, if someone submits a story to me and it’s not a good fit, I may recommend another publication. If the submission doesn’t resonate with the guidelines at all, I will usually include a note about reviewing our guidelines. I know that some people may read the guidelines and believe their work is a good fit when it’s not. I’ve done this before myself and always appreciate a note from the editor. If the submission needs a lot of editing, and I think it might be a good fit, then I ask the submitter to please take care of that and resubmit. Some people are more than happy to do this, while others don’t respond at all. Sometimes, when I decline a work, if I do so because I’m confused, I will inform the submitter of this. Occasionally, I’ll go back-and-forth with writers about their work without ever having published them. It’s nice to talk shop!

The guidelines are there for a reason. . .I can be persuaded, on occasion, to stretch them a bit, however.


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

TLR: It’s possible. It would, of course, depend on several factors. Since we’re only planning to publish a few reprints per year, if that, it would need to fill a niche or be something I begged the author to submit for consideration. When I beg, which is rare, that would definitely constitute grounds. Alban Lake is going to have an e-version of Bloodbond, so the fact that it’s already online wouldn’t slide in under the radar in that regard. 

A possible exception would be if it could be classified as a “Letter to the Editor.” While we don’t pay for those, we do appreciate them!


SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions 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?

TLR: When I decline work, I do want the submitters to know why. I may not go into gory detail about it, but I have in the past, when prompted. Some nice dialogues and cyber relationships have developed from these types of queries! How do I want the authors to respond? Politely, of course. I do appreciate some sort of response, and usually receive one. It can be something as simple as responding with a “Thank you for considering, and I’ll submit something again soon”, to a “Would you please let me know which aspects weren’t in keeping with your guidelines as I did read them.” Be yourself, but be polite and proactive. If an author were to write something like “I’ve been rejected over and over by you. Why won’t you ever accept my work!?” (which someone did write more than once. . .), and if they are dedicated to working on the craft, I may launch into a polite professor-esque commentary. Some people say I’m too nice, but hey, I do this because I love it! I suppose this balances out the fact that other people think I’m way too intimidating! Regardless of how people perceive me, I am willing to provide a somewhat detailed response when queried. Patience, however, is necessary, as these types of responses usually take the back-burner to reading slush and compiling issues.


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

TLR: This is one of those questions that I always ask when interviewing! I also offer an extra credit assignment to my students: What did you learn in English 240 that wasn’t measured in the traditional fashion? Another version of this prompt might be this: What did you REALLY learn in this class?

I’m not avoiding your question, just applauding it. . .Unfortunately, I can’t think of anything right now that wouldn’t necessitate an article in response! Now that I’ve thought further, I might ask me what I want to see more of. Response: I want more science fiction tropes, as I’m becoming inundated with contemporary urban tropes, skillfully wrought as they are. I’m also not interested in receiving more rehashes of typical storylines and/or characters. If someone wants to retell Dracula, then please do it from a fresh perspective with enough back-story to situate it. Since Bloodbond, is going to feature shapeshifters, remember that vampires are only one type. Delve into folklore! 

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

NEXT POST: 7/16--Six Questions for Emily Wenstrom, Founder and Editor, wordhaus

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Six Questions for Josh Hess, Publisher, Decades Review

Decades Review accepts poetry, prose, photography and art. Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Josh Hess: Decades Review was started as a side project, by Josh Hess, to promote local expressions of writing and visual art in the state of Kentucky. However, by Issue Three, the online literary magazine had expanded at such a fast pace that it was practically world-wide. If I had a chance to start it over, I wouldn't have it any other way. It has become such an important part of my life, and I love the magazine and all of its contributors and readers.


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

JH: The very first thing I look for is originality. I look at each poem and I think about how often or not other people may write about what I am reading. What does this mean to the contributor? What does this mean to me? These are questions I ask myself when I read submissions. I want to read something that I know others can relate to. That is the most important part. I also look for an in-depth meaning. What I publish reflects the overall outlook of Decades Review. If I am publishing poems and prose that have no meaning, I feel that our reader level would drop. My goal is to keep Decades Review packed with meaningful poems that entice the user. Good grammar and sentence structure is also very important. You have no idea how many users send submissions that appear to be un-edited. It's difficult for readers to read a poem that they are unable to understand due to the poor sentence structure of the writer.


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

JH: The biggest factor would be the contributor's failed attempt to follow the submission guidelines. If I receive a submission that does not follow the guidelines, that is an immediate turn away. Always. If you cannot take a moment to read our guidelines, then you are unfortunately wasting our time and your own. We also see a lot of submissions that are not very clear or sometimes lacking in creativity. Almost as if it were forced. We feel that writing should come to you, not the other way around.


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

JH: No. I always encourage the contributor to submit again at any time. I rarely ever provide feedback or send comments. I have been rejected many times, and most of us have. I would rather hear "This was not for us" as opposed to "You should have done THIS...". Most contributors are not looking for negative feedback. Personally, I feel that a lot of literary journals try to provide advice but they are doing so in a negative way. I never want to make any contributors feel insecure about their writing.


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

JH: Writing is difficult. Not everyone is the same. Not everyone writes the same, either. Writing for the sake of your own personal expression is often how you create significant, mind-blowing pieces. Write for yourself and never for an audience. If you're lucky, you'll write something that is easily related to by any reader. 


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

JH: What makes you want to keep Decades Review alive? I would have to say that there is nothing more pleasing than offers such as this one right now. You came to me and asked me to answer these questions for you. I am very grateful that you did. I want to have a hand in this community that we have formed, even if it isn't a big impact in the long run. I want to look at these sites and see all of the wonderful words that are contributed from around the world. That alone makes every part of this worth it. 

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


NEXT POST: 7/12--Six Questions for Terrie Leigh Relf, Editor of Bloodbond 

Friday, July 5, 2013

Six Questions for Sofia, Editor, Cecile's Writers Magazine

Cecile’s Writers’ Foundation is a nonprofit organisation We are about to launch a free digital magazine where intercultural authors can publish their work. The editors accept flash fiction to 1000 words, short stories to 15000 words, novel excerpts to 6000 words and personal essays/memoirs to 6000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Sofia: The top three things I look for in a submission are:

If the author has any affinity with interculturalism, and I mean any, however small the author might think they are intercultural; but there needs to be a clear explanation of why they are intercultural. 

The next two reasons sound a bit clichéd, but I look for writing that has both a smooth flow and a good story.


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

Sofia: 
  1. The authors have not read the submission guidelines and/or submit without conforming to them.
  2. A weak story: such as gaps in the plot, wrong facts, superficial characters and so on. 
  3. The last one is when the spelling and the grammar make for an annoying read. I understand that writers might have a small amount of typos, or grammatical issues; but having spelling, punctuation and/or grammatical mistakes, which make a story hard to read, will result in the story being rejected. It’s a shame, not because the stories are bad, but because I have a lot of stories to read, and if I can't read them, we will reject them.


SQF: Which of the following statements is true and why? Plot is more important than character. Character is more important than plot. Plot and character are equally important. 

Sofia: Plot and character are equally important, but so is good writing.


SQF: What advice can you offer new authors hoping to publish their first submission?

Sofia: Check the guidelines and adhere to them; edit your work to the best of your abilities; and then cross your fingers, if it’s good, it’ll probably be accepted.


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

Sofia: How to spell correctly. I know I keep on going on and on about spelling, but I used to be a terrible speller. I personally have to work very hard at my spelling; it’s part of being polite to the editors (and readers) to at least make an effort to be easily comprehensible. 


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

Sofia: Personally, I would really have liked a question like: Has your reading style changed since becoming an editor? To which my answer is: Yes and no. Yes, because since I learned to edit, I’m able to spot mistakes easier, and I’m able to know exactly why I like or don't like a piece of writing. No because I can turn the editor switch off, so I can easily enjoy a book without mentally editing it.


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

Six Questions for Josh Hess, Publisher, Decades Review

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Six Questions for Changming Yuan, Editor-in-Chief, Poetry Pacific

Poetry Pacific publishes poetry on a quarterly schedule. Learn more here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

CY: On the Remembrance Day of last year, we started Poetry Pacific almost impulsively just to enrich Allen Qing Yuan, our 2nd-generation editor's literary experience as a teenager poet and enforce his application to a top business school in Canada, although i have always wanted to establish a publishing house of my own.


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

CY: They are 'short, richly suggestive, and truly lyric,' which we believe to be the three most important defining features of fine poetry. 


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

CY: Spelling mistakes, lack of 'poetic elements,' and/or unwarranted lengths. 


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

CY: No. 


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

CY: For one thing, we have learned that as writers, we can never be  too careful with our own writing processes. Also, poetry writing and publishing is an extremely personal and subjective 'business.' Last but not least, poetry authors could/might (have) become very famous as a result of a series of lucky encounters rather than consistent quality in some cases. 


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

CY: For instance, what is your vision/plan/objective for the journal? And my answer would be: we wish to upgrade it into a major platform to promote poetic/cultural exchange between English and Chinese. Another question I wish you had asked is: what difficulties/challenges are you facing as an editor/publisher? - Of course, the lack of funds, manpower, and technical support. I hope to live and function normally at least for another ten years to write, and to publish... 

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

NEXT POST: 7/5--Six Questions for Sofia, Editor, Cecile's Writers Magazine