Friday, June 13, 2014

Six Questions for The Editors at Lunch Ticket

Lunch Ticket is a biannual journal published by the MFA community of Antioch University of Los Angeles, a program that is devoted to the education of literary artists, community engagement, and the pursuit of social justice. The magazine publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, writing for young people, poetry, translation and visual arts. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Rachael Warecki – Fiction Genre Editor

An interesting beginning. A piece should grab my attention in the first page, ideally with the first sentence. This doesn't mean things have to explode or someone has to die, but I should have a sense of your story's conflict and who your protagonist is by the end of the first page. I'll usually give a piece two pages before I call it quits, but if an author hasn't done the necessary work in those first two pages, I'll have neither the compulsion nor the time to invest myself in that piece any further.

A story told in a unique way. We've received plenty of pieces that lack one or more basic story elements—most notably, plot, or in some cases, an ending. I don't believe that "literary fiction" and "plot" are mutually exclusive. Slice of life stories can work, but they have to be told in a unique or powerful way: maybe the voice is incredibly strong, or the author is particularly adept at deploying beautiful and original figurative language. The same goes for stories that tend to lean on tropes. I've seen a lot of stories about young, unrequited love, usually from a male point of view, or about the gradual end of a relationship, or about coming of age in a small town. These stories can be told well, and I'm not going to vote to reject them out of hand, but many of these trope-stories don't distinguish themselves enough from the twenty other similar stories we receive over the course of a week.

Professionalism. That means your piece has been proofread for spelling, grammar, and syntax errors; your story has been revised and polished; your submission follows our stated guidelines; and your cover letter contains more than just some number that I assume is your story's word count. It also means that you're familiar with our mission as a social justice publication. We're pretty open-minded in terms of genre, but we stay away from work that seems to promote or sympathize with racist, sexist, homophobic, etc. viewpoints.

Michael Passafiume & Candace Butler – Poetry Genre Editors

  1. Is the material and/or the voice fresh?
  2. Is the poem well-written (use of grammar/language, its structure, etc.)?
  3. Is the poem universal and understandable beyond whatever vision the author had in mind?

Poetry is tricky in that what speaks to me as a reader may not speak to someone else and vice versa. I like strong voices with a unique take on subject matter. I want Lunch Ticket readers to have an experience they’re not getting at other literary websites, and publishing compelling work is one way to win them over.

SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

Haneen Oriqat – Writing for Young People Genre Editor

Unoriginality and confusion quickly push me away from a submission. Specifically within the Writing for Young People genre, I look for what stands out in a story that makes it different than other YA stories. As for confusion, there's nothing more difficult than trying to grasp for some type of understanding when reading a story that uses experimental writing without answers or direction. I have to keep my audience in mind with my genre.

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

LT: We don't accept previously published work, and Lunch Ticket defines this as previously published.

SQF: What are the biggest challenges to publishing a biannual magazine?

David Bumpus – Editor-in-Chief

For us in particular, as a student-run magazine, I would say that it's keeping a staff of nearly 40 members on top of the production schedule: each of my staff members is not only working on Lunch Ticket as a volunteer, but is also balancing school and often one or two jobs on top of that as well. Working on Lunch Ticket, and actually producing the final issue of the magazine, is then really an act of love and dedication for the literary community. This is also amplified by the fact that our biannual issues come out during the last days of each semester, when everyone is in some combination of trying to graduate, compile manuscripts, or prepare for the upcoming residency.

SQF: What advice can you offer authors hoping to publish their work in Lunch Ticket?

Jennifer McCharen – Translation Genre Editor

Read Lunch Ticket, of course. Also get to know Antioch, because the work that's important to the institution trickles down to a great extent to the students curating the journal. Social justice, broadly defined.

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

Rachael Warecki – Fiction Genre Editor

I wish you'd asked about our decision-making process, because that's something I'm always curious about when it comes to submitting my own work. The Fiction team is comprised of four hard-working readers, myself included. We're assigned pieces as soon as they come through Submittable, and I ask my team to read, vote, and comment on a certain number of pieces each week. Submissions are read blindly. After the pieces are read, I start an email discussion thread for those pieces that have one or more advocates within the team. We then choose to accept, decline, or hold those pieces for further discussion. Although we try to respond to our submitting authors as soon as possible, we do want to make sure that every piece is thoroughly considered. Even the pieces we decline relatively quickly have at least four paragraphs of rationale backing up that editorial decision, and I never make decisions without the full input of the team. We want our submitters to know that we love reading your work, we're honored that you're trusting us with it, and that even if we decline one of your pieces, you may have another story that's a better match for our team's tastes.

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

NEXT POST: 6/20--Six Questions for Amanda Hamilton, Editor-in-Chief, Blue Monday Review

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