SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Raquel Thorne: Kate Hammerich and I wanted a fun, accessible, theme-based journal. Most themed issues seem to be in print and are more traditional in the media they accept.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
- There has to be that “umph” factor. Because we do quarterly themes, we often see many similar pieces, and originality is key. During our submission call for “The Animal Becomes Us” issue we naturally received a mountain of dog poems, but “Ritual” by Elaine Wang and “An Old Dog Teaches My Dog to Swim” by Elizabeth Johnston both stood out for their uniqueness of language. We accept submissions of up to three pieces. Send three. Take a risk with at least one of them.
- An unexpected ending. I feel strongly about this. If I already know how a piece is going to end, why am I reading it? A great piece thumbs its nose at my expectations and takes me somewhere I wasn't expecting, be it a closing image in a poem or a plot twist in a short story.
SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?
- We read blind, and yet many submitters put their name on their file, or blatantly put all their contact information in their submission file. Guidelines should always be followed.
- cahoodaloodaling is also often capitalized in people's cover letters. While it's certainly not the end of the world, as an editor I'm naturally charmed by those who have clearly read our guidelines and our “about us” sections and have picked up on the lack of capitalization.
- Too much telling, not enough showing.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?
RT: Being an editor has made me a more active reader. Receiving hundreds of submissions a quarter, I pick up on writing trends, newer clichés, and writing-gimmicks more than I had in the past.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
RT: Does cahoodaloodaling ever ask for edits?
Rarely. We receive more worthy work than we can publish a quarter—it's easier to go with the polished piece than the diamond in the rough. That being said, if a piece is submitted earlier in our submission calls, we have time to consider edits. A piece which needs edits but is submitted close to our deadline will receive an automatic pass.
Thank you, Raquel. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.