Friday, January 3, 2014

Six Questions for Dave Morehouse, Editor in Chief, Postcard Poems and Prose

The editors of Postcard Poems and Prose lean toward poetry and flash fiction but will consider anything that is well crafted. Artwork is also accepted. "We are seeking cleverness in a unique format. Think in terms of 4-16 line poems or up to 190 words of prose." Read the complete guidelines here

SQF: Why did you start this magazine? 

Dave Morehouse: People’s lives are hectic - frenetic to the point that ‘curling up with a good book’ is understood to be a luxury rather than an evening activity.  We want readers to be able to discover art, prose, and poetry in 90 seconds or so. We want the experience to be great and we want visitors/readers to be able to learn more about the authors and artists who create the work. We also want visitors to find a quirky smattering hidden somewhere in each feature.  Something that makes them smile – or at least takes their mind away from frantic life for a moment. 


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

DM: 
  1. The writing and voice are the most important components in any submission. Authors shouldn’t feel like they have to open with a knife to the MC’s throat. That stated, they only have a couple hundred words to tell the story and fit our regular feature format so prose needs to be gripping. We like humorous or clever twists as long as they aren’t overly contrived. Poetry needs to be language-rich, contemporary, and accessible.
  2. We are suckers for a brief, respectful cover letter. It’s great to see publication credits but they never have any bearing as to whether or not a piece is accepted. (See #1.)
  3. Art, if there is any, needs to be in 300 DPI or better resolution. We publish in 637 pixel widths. If the submitted jpg is too small the resolution suffers when we scale it up for publication.


SQF: What turns you off to a submission? 

DM: The typical turnoffs for prose submissions are poor grammar and obvious first drafts in need of revision. Tired clichés in stories that don’t hook and then hold the reader are generally rejected. We do, however, take interesting stories, make editing suggestions, and send them back to the author. If the author agrees with our suggestions we will go ahead and publish the edited version.

Huge poetry turnoffs are sing-song rhyme and love clichés. We will publish end line rhyme but our preference leans to well-written free verse. We also won’t publish experiments written for the sake of experiment. We like accessible poems that are rich in concept and language. We are open to prose poems but not haiku. We appreciate good haiku but feel there are many other markets for that genre. It’s not a niche we are trying to address.


SQF: PP&P is an online magazine. Have you considered creating printed versions of the cards?  

DM: Our first print anthology is slated for March of 2014. It will be a ‘best of’ collection. The staff, all three of us, is still arguing over the format and layout. Many, if not most, of our audience are authors and part of the reason they visit us online is to learn more about the magazine’s contributors. Our author bios are expansive and often much longer than the feature story. We would want our anthology to remain true to that concept. We owe our very existence to authors and artists and we work hard to show readers their creative and quirky sides. We feel it makes us more personal. Our readers think so too. 


SQF: You run four contests each year. Please tell us a little about them.

DM: All contests have been free to enter and have paid prize money to the winners.

In March we ran a fiction contest. Authors had to write to a picture prompt. Three winners were chosen and we played Rock-Paper-Scissors to determine which among them would receive the prize money. We try to be different. It helps us stand out in the vast sea of online magazines. We sent out comments to each entrant.

In late spring, that’s May in these parts, we ran a poetry contest. We gave poets a choice of two pictures to use as inspiration. We published a winner and two honorable mention poems. Prize money went to the winner. The downside - readers cried out en masse for the Rock-Paper-Scissors system or something quirky for future contests.

The 26th of June was the deadline for our “drawkcaB Fiction Contest” held in connection with National Fiction Day. The theme for the contest was “Backward”. Entries had to relate to the theme in some manner. We interwove some strangeness in this one. Word count needed to be 194 words or less, first prize was a gift card in the amount of $26.22, and – yes – we brought back the Rock-Paper-Scissors. This contest had overwhelming response and we only wrote comments for fifty entries, which were selected at random. We felt bad that we simply didn’t have time to respond to each author personally.

We are currently advertising our Fiction4ADay Contest. It will be held on November 1st. Authors will discover the theme and guidelines at midnight and have 24 hours to write, revise, edit, and submit an entry. Insomniacs should have the edge here. Like the other contests, entry is free and there is prize money for the winner. We have details tabbed on the home page of the magazine.


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

DM: If you were to ask, “Are there any thoughts for expansion of Postcard Poems and Prose?” that would make our day. As previously noted, many of our readers are also authors; authors who write short stories but not flash fiction. Beginning in November of 2013 we will publish one short piece of fiction per month. Word counts need to be in the 3-5K range. Narratives, especially first person narratives, will find it harder to get published. Third-person concept stories with strong characters will stand a much better chance finding a spot in our magazine.

Another question you might ask is, “How do you feel about being a part of Six Questions?”  We would answer that we feel honored to participate. We also feel grateful enough to say, “Thanks, Jim. This is a great project that authors will find useful.” 


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

NEXT POST: 1/7--Six Questions for Lee Costello, Editor, Microscenes

5 comments:

  1. Thanks again, Jim. It's great that you are able to provide authors an inside look at the publishing process. This is one time when knowing how the sausage is made is a plus. Cheers from the staff at Postcard Poems and Prose.

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  2. Well, that was fun! Dave, I would say you've succeeded wildly with PP&P.

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    1. Thanks so much for your kindness, Kathleen. You folks at EDP set the bar high for the rest of us. Cheers.

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  3. A great insight into Postcard Poems & Prose. I'm honoured to have had some work published there! :)

    marion

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  4. We are always happy to see something flop in over the electronic transom from you, Marion. The honor has always been ours and the beneficiaries have always been our readers. Thanks for your kind words.

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