Cat on a Leash Review publishes flash fiction under 1,000 words and short fiction of 1,000 to 2,500 words. Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Diane Gillette: It was something I wanted to do for a very long time, but it was a daunting task to start on my own. When A. A. Malina and I started our writing partnership I brought up that it was a dream of mine. From there, we started sharing ideas and realized we had a similar vision of what this literary magazine could be.
A. A.: Starting a literary magazine wasn't even on my radar until I met Diane, but when she mentioned she wanted to, I was immediately intrigued. Our shared passion for fiction made this a perfect partnership.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
D: We look for a lasting impression from the stories that we accept. It needs to be something that we keep thinking about long after we finish reading it.
A: We’re also looking for fresh approaches to storytelling. It can be a story we’ve heard before, but told in a way that surprises us.
D: We also really appreciate crisp, well-revised manuscripts.
A: Yeah, it’s common for writers to get eager and send a story out before it’s undergone enough revisions. We’ve turned away several stories that had a lot of potential, but just weren’t ready to be published yet. We often encourage writers to send us revisions of stories that we liked, though.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
D: Stories that seem too familiar, such as the classic love story, hard-boiled detective story, coming of age story, etc.
A: We also turn away anything that has blatant misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc., if it doesn’t serve a purpose in the story. For instance, it’s fine if it’s used to develop a character, but not if it’s just there for shock value or to demonstrate the author’s own bigotry.
SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?
D: We don’t usually have the time to offer comments, unfortunately, but occasionally when we feel a story has a lot of potential and we want the author to know there were aspects of the story we enjoyed, we will give a personalized rejection with encouragement to re-submit.
SQF: You recently published your first issue. What advice would offer someone considering starting their own publication?
D: I wouldn’t recommend trying to do this on your own. We found out early on that it is a lot of work, but fortunately we had each other to lean on and pick up the slack when one us got to busy with the rest of our life. Having a partner you can count on makes this much more manageable.
A: It’s also a good idea to start during a vacation or break, so that you have plenty of time to work on it without distraction.
D: Oh, and set realistic deadlines. Give yourself enough time to actually get plenty of submissions and choose qualities ones. And don’t forget to use social media to your advantage!
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
A: Well one aspect we didn’t cover was how we came up with the name of the literary magazine. We thought of it one day after going to a summer fest together. I was taking advantage of Diane’s air conditioning and endless supply of La Croix, talking about how I had tried to walk my cat, Nomar, on a leash the other day.
D: Then I suggested we call our lit mag Cat on a Leash Review.
A: I’d had the exact same thought at that moment, so it was immediately settled. Nomar became something of our mascot after that, particularly since he’s so photogenic.
D: Not that we’re crazy cat ladies or anything.
Thank you, Diane and A. A.. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.