A Quiet Courage is an online literary journal that publishes compelling, poignant, memorable, and well-written microfiction and poetry in 100 words or less. A Quiet Courage specializes in tiny words with resonance and impact. Read the full submission guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Clara Ray Rusinek Klein: A lot of reasons. None that would really be of any interest or benefit to anyone who’s thinking about submitting something. It doesn’t really matter why I started this literary journal, I just want to focus on the writing. The writing is what matters.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
CK: There isn’t a top three. I just publish whatever I like and whatever I consider to be the best out of what people submit.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
CK: A lot of things. But don’t let this turn you away from submitting, don’t let this discourage you from submitting.
Horribly formatted pieces, with a lot of typos, errors, and really bad spelling and/or punctuation, pieces that haven’t been edited. Pieces that have “&” instead of the word “and”. Submissions that don’t bother with any greeting or don’t even address the editor at all, or that get my name or gender wrong or even get the name of the journal wrong. Submissions obviously over the very clearly stated word count limit. Submissions that say “Dear sir or madam”, which shows they haven’t even really looked at the journal and don’t even know who the editor is let alone know the gender of the editor. At least say “Dear Editor” instead of “Dear sir or madam”. Submissions that are sent almost immediately or very soon after a previous submission was rejected. You can only submit once a month, but people have ignored this. Also, submissions that are really, really horrific quality, submissions that aren’t well written at all. Submissions that don’t even make any sense at all. Biographies that are really long, too long, and sometimes even longer than the submission itself. Bios have to be 100 words maximum and they have to be professional. Lack of any biography at all is another thing. Unprofessional, irrelevant, and/or amateurish biographies are another thing that bothers me. Also, pieces submitted without titles. Pieces have to be submitted with titles, it gets annoying to be asking for titles after a submission’s been made. I can’t publish a piece without a title.
Furthermore, and this is something that keeps coming up, it really bothers me when people don’t even bother to at least take the time to say the bare minimum basic courtesy of “Thank you” when I do the work of publishing their writing. People who never even acknowledge the publication of their writing at all really bother me. Such people are very memorable, and not in a good way. I’ll be really unlikely to publish their writing ever again in the future. Not even at least saying “Thank you” to any editor who goes to the trouble and time and effort of publishing your work is a surefire way to give yourself a bad name and to be very memorable to editors.
Additionally it bothers me when people send totally inappropriate and even really offensive submissions that would obviously never be published in A Quiet Courage, let alone in any other reputable literary journal or magazine.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
CK: No. We don’t want to spend time doing that. But we’re polite and try to be encouraging.
A lot of the time we know immediately that a submission isn’t something we want to publish, but sometimes another market will come to mind, and then we’ll suggest that they might like to submit there. Suggesting another market is rather rare though.
SQF: Why a 100 word limit?
CK: I like really short pieces that tell the most story in the fewest amount of words possible and the fewest amount of words necessary. I like pieces that seem bigger than their words, pieces that seem more than their words. Less is more. Cut needless words. I think 100 words or less is a good maximum limit that’s big enough to pack a good story in without becoming really verbose or boring. You can write a story in 100 words or less that’s really good and impactful, and you can also make a really good poem that tells a good story in 100 words or less. I like stories that choose and use every single word carefully and precisely to further the story and to reveal more about the story and characters. I just like the really short tiny pieces that don’t go on and on. Make it count, make it have impact that resonates in the reader’s mind and echoes in the white space around the page. I like pieces that don’t waste a single word.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
CK: I don’t know, there isn’t one right now, although I’ll probably think of something else later when it’s too late and this has already been posted.
Thank you, Clara. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.