Friday, June 29, 2018

SQF revisited - With Painted Words

With Painted Words publishes poetry and fiction to 1000 words. Each month the publisher provides an image for authors to use as the inspiration for their works. Art works may also be submitted to be used as a monthly prompt. With Painted Words ranked #10 in the fictionzine category of the 2010 Preditors and Editors Poll.


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

JF: Creativity in approach to the inspiration artwork is a must. With Painted Words is slightly different from other publications in that there is a very clear and direct ‘prompt’ for the story which means that each writer is starting with something in common.

Read the complete interview here.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Six Questions for Cathy Evans, Editor, pennyshorts

pennyshorts publishes fiction of 1,000 to 10,000 words in all genre (except children’s lit). Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Cathy Evans: pennyshorts is a website (rather than a magazine) which makes shorts stories of all genres available for free download. I started it because I've been part of three different writing groups over the past 15 years, listening to amazingly fresh and original short stories which more often than not ended up mouldering away in hard drives, with no natural home. pennyshorts is an easy and accessible way to connect short story writers with readers.


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

CE: I want a fresh, original voice and competent writing. I want to feature writers who will show me all that's required for me to inhabit their story and no more. Knowing what to withhold is key: I love writing that allows me to do the heavy lifting myself, thank you very much.


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

CE: Gratuitous sex, violence and miseryporn. So the kid dies in your story? Make me care.


SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s) of a submission?

CE: Competence! I can tell within the first paragraph if I'm in a safe pair of hands.


SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

CE: These kind of submissions are usually very poorly written and, well... boring. If I received something that was well-written and not gratuitous, I'd publish it.


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

CE: What's the worst submission you ever received?

A story about a depressed abattoir worker who vents his frustration on his dog. He sexually abuses the poor creature and then beats it to death. 'Nuff said.

If you have any other questions, I'd love to hear from you.

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

Friday, June 15, 2018

Six Questions for Emma Wood, Editor, Stone Soup

Stone Soup publishes fiction, poetry, art, and book reviews created by children aged 13 and under. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Emma Wood: I didn't start it! I joined the team about a year ago, though, because I strongly believe that children's writing and art deserves its own magazine. Children are wildly creative in ways we often dismiss. We say our magazine is "for kids by kids," but I truly think it is for everyone. The kids who submit to us are producing some incredible work. 


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

EW: 
1. Originality: What excites me most about children's writing and art is when it's clearly the product of a young and unfettered imagination that's still uninfluenced by what it thinks literature or art "should" be. I look for the unconventional, the weird thing that doesn't seem like it's trying to be a traditional short story or poem.

2. Thoughtfulness: Reading a lot of work by kids, I do often find that writing or art can feel dashed off. This doesn't have to do with spelling or grammar in writing or "neatness" in art—I don't care about that—but with the amount of time and thought that appears to have gone into realizing the piece.

3. Not another horse story: This is related to originality, but I do find there are certain "types" of stories that crop up a lot. If it's done really well, I definitely will accept it, but when I see "horse" or "ballet," among other frequent topics, I start reading with skepticism—though I try not to!


SQF: What should writers/artists keep in mind when creating a piece to send to Stone Soup?

EW:
Re: writing

Length doesn't matter. Sometimes our best stories are really really short.

Dialogue is difficult! Really scrutinize your dialogue before submitting, or think about how you can get the same information across with less speaking. 

Re: visual art

We're excited to publish art of all mediums--photography, collage, painting as well as video and music on our website. 


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

EW: No, I don't. I would love to but it's too time-consuming. Maybe if Stone Soup were my full-time job, I could, but alas.


SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph/stanza of a submission?

EW: Unusual language that demands my attention. 


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

SS: Can you tell me more about being an editor?

EW: I'm not sure anyone's "qualified" to be an editor in the sense that everyone has bad days and good days as well as personal biases that affect how you read submissions, and whether you accept them. I strive to be aware of my personal preferences and to give work that is definitely outside of my wheelhouse (science fiction, for example) the benefit of the doubt whenever I can—whether that means saving it to reread or asking colleague for their opinion.

In general, it's exhilarating and an honor to be able to discover the strange, exciting artistic work kids are doing.

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

Friday, June 8, 2018

Six Questions for Beth Burrell and Rudri Bhatt Patel, Co-Founders/ Editors, The Sunlight Press

The Sunlight Press publishes personal essays of 650-1,000 words, flash fiction under 1,000 words, fiction under 2,000 words, poetry, reviews, Artists on Craft reflections, and photography. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this journal?

The Sunlight Press: We are both writers and met online working for another journal. We loved the idea of collaborating on our own site and offering a place for new and established voices. It’s been a blast creating a new venue for writers and artists, and getting to know them and their work. We also wanted to create a space where writers aren’t left wondering about the status of their submission. Valuing a writer’s work means acknowledging receipt and also responding with an acceptance/rejection within 4 weeks of a submission. At The Sunlight Press, work doesn’t slip into a black hole.

We also were drawn to the concept of light and dark -- and our hope that at the darkest times we turn toward light. How we all inhabit and navigate those spaces intrigues us. We like to hear about how epiphanies arrive in unexpected places.


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

TSP: We look for lyrical writing and a compelling narrative in all our work. Surprise endings are acceptable if they are earned. We also look for voice and authenticity, and the question that should drive a piece - Why should the reader care about this essay, story, book review, or poem?


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

TSP: Poor writing, lack of proofreading, and not adhering to our submission guidelines, all influence how we view a piece. Work well beyond our word limits (please see our guidelines) and not enough effort to elevate the personal to a universal experience.

Since we cull submissions via email (we don’t use Submittable), it is important that writers pay attention to the guidelines. Also, please read the type of pieces we publish before submitting work. We avoid work that is too message-driven, that veers toward the preachy. Typically, we do not accept openly religious or political work. Our goal is to offer readers an outlet on the internet with provocative and quality writing apart from the rapid-fire 24-hour news cycle.


SQF: What magazines/zines do you read on a “regular” basis?

TSP: 
Full Grown People
Rumpus
Catapult
Slate
Flash Fiction Online
Motherwell
Granta
Hippocampus
Literary Hub
The New Yorker
Creative Nonfiction
NYT Magazine
NYT Book Review
Grown and Flown


SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

TSP: As stated above, work that is driven by politics or specific religious beliefs. Views on particular current events or popular ideas also have plenty of outlets on the internet.

That being said, we understand and appreciate the spiritual in people’s lives, and indeed on the About page of our website include: “We want to hear the ways people turn toward light and hope, whether it is through the arts, culture, spirituality, or humor...” This doesn’t mean the writer turns a piece into a soapbox about a particular view, but rather engages the reader with craft and an authentic voice.


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

TSP: Why did you choose to become a nonprofit journal?

We believe strongly in enriching the literary community and mean this quite literally. We believe writers should be paid for their work. From the outset we envisioned a personal financial investment in our journal and a commitment to achieve nonprofit status. Being a nonprofit means we can offer donors a tax deduction for their contributions and we may seek grant funding. While becoming a nonprofit has meant additional administrative work, we are thrilled at the potential of raising funds, continuing to pay writers and artists for their work, and if lucky, setting up scholarships for college-bound teens pursuing careers in the arts.


CURRENT THEMED ISSUE: Your Tech Life

The Sunlight Press editors are accepting submissions for this themed issue through July 31, 2018. Send essays, fiction and poetry. Word counts are included on the guidelines page. One winning recipient will receive $75.00 in addition to the regular acceptance fee ($25.00). Learn more here.

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

Friday, June 1, 2018

Six Questions for Toom Bucksaw, Editor, Soft Cartel Magazine

Soft Cartel publishes fiction, analysis/reviews, nonfiction, poetry and art. “we like experimental, rule breaking, and we like plain english too, but most importantly, we like well written stories that leave an impression. give us something worth remembering." Read the complete guidelines here.

Why did you start this magazine?

Toom Bucksaw: there were other founders i can't speak for who aren't with the site anymore, but for me, what i wanted to create with Soft Cartel was a laidback space where as few people as possible would be afraid to send their material. too many times i personally find the guidelines of other sites confusing, willfully nonsensical, and uptight. mandated cover letters, page numbers, header formatting, and weird restrictions on what types of things they'll consider (no rhyming poetry, for example), so that what they're looking for is an extremely narrow sliver of content that's a pain in the ass to prepare for them in the way they want to read it. Soft Cartel is a place where you drop a .docx file in an email, say hi (or not), press send, and have a very decent chance of getting a lot of eyes on your work. this results in a smorgasbord of stuff on our site that keeps our output fairly unpredictable.


What are the top three things you look for in a submission?

TB:

1. i love reading writing from someone who knows the english language intimately and can really sculpt with it, not just writing a story down on a page the way it would be spoken to someone. written word has a lot more potential than being a transcription of a campfire story.

2. bold, ballsy lines. i always go back to one of my favorite poems we've published, "spraycans or barbarism" by based mountain (who is currently an editor on the site, chosen mostly because whoever writes a poem like this really understands us), which begins with the line "so i had a few mongols around". how exactly does one "have a few mongols around"? what does that mean? it means the narrator has a bunch of mongols around him. i give it an A+.

3. i like to feel that what i'm receiving is something only you could have made. deeply idiosyncratic stuff is one of the chief things i look for. this doesn't mean everything we publish is one-of-a-kind, but our most prized publications really are one-of-a-kind.


What most often turns you off to a submission?

TB: the death of a story in our inbox is most usually because the person, to my eyes, doesn't have a very strong grasp of what makes a sentence pleasurable to read. this is entirely subjective, and i'm not an expert in good sentences either, but you don't have to be in order to know that you've read a bad one. good prose is almost musical. the same goes for poetry. poetry that's clumsy to read, even if it isn't metered, isn't going to last long in our inbox. referring to the 1st thing i look for in a submission, i like writers who know how to turn a phrase.


What do you look for in opening paragraph/stanzas of a submission?

TB: readers need to be hooked, and this goes doubly for editors who are going through an inbox that hasn't been curated by other editors. if reading your story is a chore from the beginning, typically it's going to remain a chore through the middle and the end. this doesn't mean that slow burners aren't welcome, but if your story starts with somebody waking up and making a cup of coffee, you're going to have a hard time getting a grip on me.


SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

TB: besides erotica, political works are a very hard sell. we aim to keep softcartel.com an apolitical zone. we don't research our authors to find out what they've said, but if they send us something that is more political tract than it is art, or if a political message is the overriding theme, regardless of alignment, its chances are virtually nil.


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

TB: what does a reply from Soft Cartel look like?

we say on our site that we don't send form emails, which is true, and means that we don't have a set of acceptance and rejection emails that we copy and paste to people. we type each email out and include comments about the piece, especially if it was rejected. the other editor, based mountain, is definitely a lot better at personal correspondence than i am, but overall we try to include comments about the piece, suggestions, and if it was declined, usually an invitation to revise it and try it again.

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