Friday, January 9, 2015

Six Questions for Marjorie Tesser, Editor, Mom Egg Review

MOM EGG REVIEW is an annual print collection of poetry, fiction, creative prose, and art that features work by writers who are mothers or who write about motherhood. The works explore diverse experiences of motherhood and examine the nexus of motherhood with other identities, cultural, political, and personal. Learn more here.

SQF: Who is the Mom Egg Review’s target audience?

Marjorie Tesser: I’d like to say it’s everyone who is or has had a mother!  While many of our readers are mothers, others are people who are interested in women’s experiences (including scholars of Women’s Studies) or people who appreciate the unique mix of styles and perspectives we publish.

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

MT: Ideas, expression, originality.  Ideas should be nuanced, considered, complex, interesting, and follow a logic (it can be an internal logic).  Expression: We love precise language, whether lyrical or plain-spoken. We love works that have pace, rhythm, music. We are fairly catholic in our tastes—free verse, mixed genre, formal or experimental work is fine if it works.  We appreciate the idiosyncratic: unusual subject matter, or an original take on a common experience.  If the poem or story elicits or deals honestly and insightfully (and unsentimentally) with emotion, that’s also a plus.

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

MT: Number one, and I think most of the other editors have noted this as well, is submitting without checking what type of work we publish.  We offer submitters the chance to purchase a copy of MER at a reduced price and we also post examples our website,  A quick look will show that if the work reads like a greeting card or a popular magazine article, it’s not for us! A second is ignoring submission guidelines, such as word count, formatting, and submitting through our portal on A guideline that’s sometimes overlooked is that if the submitter is not a mother, the piece must be focused on motherhood or have a central (not peripheral) character who is a mother.

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

MT: Unfortunately, the proportion of submissions to staff members precludes this, but there are times we wish we could.  Along with work from established artists, we receive many submissions from fledgling writers. Because of the journal’s focus, oftentimes the work submitted deals with subject matter that’s close to the writer’s personal life—children, illness, identity, loss.  Some are wonderful (many writers publish for their first time in Mom Egg Review and go on to stellar careers).  For those whose work is not right for our publication, we try to decline without dampening the creative spirit, in a way that shows respect and gratitude for having been trusted to read the work.

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

MT: That there are many ways to skin a cat!  (Just a saying—don’t hate me, cat people!). That “decline” is not rejection.  That it helps to know what kind of piece you’ve written and what publications are interested in that type of work.  That it’s important to support the entities that support my work.

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

MT: Question—Is there a secret way a writer can increase his or her chances of a piece being selected for Mom Egg Review?

Answer—If a piece is well-written and compelling (see question 3, above), that’s the main thing.  But because we are a niche, identity-based publication, we get many pieces on similar subject matter:  birth and miscarriage, child rearing, children and work, aging parents, etc.  Only a few pieces on each topic can be selected for any issue. It stands to reason that if one’s piece deals with motherhood in an unusual context (and is fabulously well-written) it has fewer competitors in a category and a bit of an edge in being chosen.

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

NEXT POST: 1/16—Six Questions for Rebeca Morales, Editor, The Milo Review

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