Friday, November 8, 2019

Six Questions for Fred Charles and Annie James Thomas, Editors, Loud Coffee Press

Loud Coffee Press publishes flash fiction (99 to 1,000 words), poetry, and art. “Since its inception in 2019, Loud Coffee Press has sought flash fiction, poetry, and art that loosely combine elements of coffee and music. That's not to say our stories are about coffee and music - these components can either whisper in a story or scream as loud as the author prefers.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Loud Coffee Press: The driving force behind Loud Coffee Press was our desire to create a writing outlet that gives back. We (Fred and Annie) are active in writing communities on multiple social media outlets, in our local communities, and online forums. We have a passion to share outstanding talent with the world and offer a platform to those around us. Do we believe in fate? Maybe. Annie always held a desire to start a literary magazine and Fred had run a literary magazine in the past. Starting this one was as easy as it was hard; coming up with the concept was the unique part. Loud Coffee Press was born out of a shared love for coffee and music… and, of course, writing.


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

LCP: First, we want to be wowed with creativity and boldness, and we don’t shy away from experimental works. Second, pieces that amuse and entertain us will almost always garner a fast read. Lightness in tone or theme can be helpful, although it’s not always necessary. We don’t take ourselves too seriously, and our chosen pieces, though polished and reflective of excellent writing, tend to be on the entertaining end of the spectrum. Finally, we want the story to carry strong emotion, contain the twist that’s key to flash fiction, and continue to resonate after we’ve put it down.


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

LCP: We have unique submission guidelines so we encourage submitters to read them. If you catch us in a good mood, we might be willing to overlook some guideline mistakes for the sake of a fantastic piece. However, our most significant turn-offs come in the form of bland, generic stories, pieces that don’t contain a story arc, or topics that are derivative of current trends. We love music-focused submissions, but we often have to deny a great piece because it could potentially violate copyright law with quoted song lyrics.


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

LCP: Draw us right in. We want to be dazzled with the opening lines of anything we receive. Make us question our beliefs about writing. Allow us to feel what the writer felt as those words first came to life. Most importantly, drop us in at a critical point. In flash fiction, it’s often said that during revisions, a writer can eliminate their first, if not the first and second paragraphs and still have a solid opening scene.


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

Loud Coffee Press avoids anything gratuitous that does not serve the story. We’ll consider almost anything if it’s key to telling an utterly compelling story. But, if it’s an especially heavy topic, it probably has to work a little harder to prove it’s worth in our magazine. Like we said, we tend towards the lighter and more amusing. We also draw hard lines with stories that intentionally shame, or we think would be offensive to the general population.


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

LCP: What makes us different from the sea of literary magazines that already exist? We like to think we stand out with our theme. All of our submissions have some hint of coffee or music. We’re also working on a second arm of our journal, called our “Jam Session,” where we invite writers and artists to “play in our sandbox.” Here, we work as a community to build an interactive world based on each other’s writing. Additionally, we interact heavily with our writing community via social media, contests, and blog posts. Finally, we, Fred and Annie, work as a cohesive team, continually building inspiration to take Loud Coffee Press to new and exciting places.

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

Friday, November 1, 2019

Six Questions for Sean Sam, Ligeia Magazine

Ligeia Magazine publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction (creative nonfiction and reviews) to 2,000 words, and art. Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: How did you come to be a part of this magazine?

Sean Sam: It started with a meeting at a diner with Matt Lee, my fiction co-editor. We both had thought of the idea of starting a webzine before we met, and when it came up again, we decided to do it for the experience and community.


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

SS: Originality of subject matter and focus. An interesting or unusual voice. And a willingness to take chances. These usually signal that the author has developed their own style.


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

SS: Usually, I give most writing a good chance. Not following guidelines will usually bias a normally stoic editor against a piece though. Then again, no one likes to read or has time for guidelines. 


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

SS: It’s an interesting question. Since we’ve been doing this, I’ve seen quite a few works that have a strong opening and then fizzle out. Aside from voice and technique, the most important aspect of an opening is that it creates enough drive to carry a complete story. This is something I don't see discussed that often.


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

SS: For our fiction and nonfiction section, we don’t have any issues with most content. One of the things we wanted to do was publish things that other people are squeamish about. It’s not the content, but how it’s presented or framed (satire or subversion). 


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

SS: How important is design for a lit site? For us, the design was really important. If people feel like their work won’t be presented well on a site, they’re less likely to send. They’re also less likely to stick around and read.

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

Friday, October 25, 2019

Six Questions for Susan Alexander, Co-Founder and Julie McArthur, Editor, Agnes and True

Agnes and True publishes short fiction of 500-5,000 words. “Agnes and True is a Canadian online literary journal. As such, we are dedicated to providing a place for the work of Canadian writers, both established and emerging. While we accept submissions from outside Canada, we do place an emphasis on works of fiction that exhibit a Canadian sensibility.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Agnes and True: Journals that champion fiction written from a distinctly Canadian perspective are relatively few. I co-founded Agnes and True to be that kind of journal.


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

A&T: 

  1. Unique story. I love stories that feel new, not familiar or reminiscent of something I’ve read before. Characters, storyline, setting, voice, style, tone—all or some of these may contribute to what feels unique.
  2. Emotional reaction. This can be any strong emotion—fear, sadness, elation, anger, regret, guilt—that is evoked during, and sometimes after a read. When a story has a lasting impression days later that means something.
  3. Solid technique. This will show itself in many aspects of a story—grammar, sentence structure, dialogue, flow, and tone. When you know the rules, you can break them with confidence, and that’s recognizable to editors.

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

Julie: A promising early draft with a noticeable lack of revisions. An under-revised story often signals that a writer is more interested in publishing than developing their craft. An ending that seems tacked on is another sign that a story needs more work. Submissions to literary journals shouldn’t require a line-by-line copy edit or substantive editing.

I like this excerpt from Last Night in Twisted River by John Irving, a conversation between a student and his professor:

“I’m into writing, not rewriting… I only like the creative part.”
“But rewriting is writing… sometimes, rewriting is the most creative part”

Susan: A piece of fiction that is journalistic or reads as an account, rather than as a tale. A story that lacks insight or tries too hard to exhibit insight.


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

A&T: I want to care… enough to continue reading. I might be spurred on by a unique voice or tone. It may be a setting that I want to spend more time in. A strong emotion that has been elicited may pique my interest. Perhaps it’s a character that draws me in, who I want to get to know.

It’s not always easy to pinpoint what will grab or interest a reader from the get go, as it can often be personal to individual readers. Sometimes the best stories are a slow burn. I also like a beginning to bring up questions that I want answered (e.g., Why is that character doing that? Where is this happening? Where am I?)




SQF: If Agnes and True had a theme song what would it be and why?

A&T: Carry It On,” by Buffy Sainte-Marie. Because it’s uplifting and realistic at the same time. It celebrates life and inspires us to leave something good for the next generation, and that’s how I feel about writing. I like to think that the best authors write for the future and not just for the gratification of the moment.


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

A&T: What 4 submission tips can you offer to new writers?

  1. Know who you are submitting to. Many literary journals have their own aesthetic and voice, not to mention genre they publish. Research to find journals that are a good fit for your work or particular story. There’s no point sending your experimental fantasy flash to a magazine that primarily publishes long-form, first-person narratives. 
  2. Read and follow guidelines. Every literary magazine or journal has submission guidelines. They will cover everything from mission statements, formatting, cover letters, submission periods, and response times—take the five minutes to read these, so that your submission is guaranteed to be read. Even if you have submitted to a journal in the past, read guidelines again as requirements often change over time.
  3. Keep your cover letter short and sweet. Address your letter to the appropriate editor (fiction or poetry) and only include a publication history and/or bio if asked for in the guidelines. It really needn’t be more than a few lines. Exclude any reference to your story—inspiration or synopsis or past rejections—allowing it to speak for itself.
  4. Practice patience and perseverance. Once you’ve sent a piece out, forget about it and continue on your current work(s) in progress. I like to think of submitting as the business behind the craft—where your focus should be. Responses often take six months or longer, so there’s no point waiting by the mailbox or checking Submittable every other day. Take classes, read, start or join a writing workshop—stay busy while your work is out in the world.
Thank you, Susan and Julie. We all appreciate your taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Six Questions for Veronica McDonald, Editor, Heart of Flesh Literary Journal


Heart of Flesh publishes poetry, flash fiction, short stories, narrative nonfiction, visual art, and photography. “Heart of Flesh is a biannual, online literary journal that seeks quality writing and art with a Christian element. We are not a typical “Christian fiction” journal. We believe God’s truth as written in the Bible can be found in both the secular and the non-secular, in nearly every work of literature and every part of the human condition. We accept work from both Christians and non-Christians from all over the world.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Veronica McDonald: A few reasons: I know there are a lot of Christian writers out there that experience a spiritual struggle in writing. Writing for the world as Christians means hovering somewhere between the pull of darkness and the light of Christ. And if they're not writing Christian fiction, they often don't know where they fit in, or even if they should be writing at all. As a writer, and as a new Christian, I can totally relate. I wanted to create a space for them to showcase work that doesn't fit neatly into the Christian category. I've also come across a lot of non-believers that are drawn to Christianity or have a view of Christianity that influences their writing. I wanted a place for their work as well. Having both believers' and nonbelievers' voices
gives readers different viewpoints to consider.

Another reason, which is the most important, is that I wanted to find a way to glorify God. I  love Jesus. I love the Bible. And I love writers, artists, and the creative world. My goal is to bring everything together and wait for God to use it in any way He wants. I know He can turn anything into good for His kingdom, and I pray He does with this journal. I don't know what that will look like exactly, but I'm excited to find out.


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

VM:

  1. It must have a Christian theme. This is the point of the journal, so it's crucial.
  2. Good voice and command of language. I'd rather a writer use simple language in a meaningful way, with a great voice, than a writer who throws the whole spectrum of his or her vocabulary at me with no real presence of the person behind the words.
  3. Imagery and metaphors that pop. I love unusual imagery, as long as it is consistent and relevant. I think when dealing with Christianity especially it is easy to use the same language, symbols, and metaphors over and over again (because they fit well and are usually from the
  4. Bible itself). So I love when people find new ways to describe the Christian experience, or a new way to play with these metaphors.

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

VM: Besides the obvious — obscene sex and violence, and excessive swearing—I probably won't accept work that preaches to the reader. Subtlety is key. Also, anything that twists the gospel or blatantly mocks Jesus; I don't mind when someone wrestles with Him, but mocking leaves a bad taste in my mouth.


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

VM: I love anything unexpected or surreal. Or even something funny. Just get my attention. I want to be pulled in almost instantly.


SQF: What types of submissions would you like to receive more of?

VM: I would love to receive more flash fiction (700 words or less), visual art, and narrative nonfiction. I love poetry and short stories, but I don't get nearly enough of the others, and when I do, they're often very powerful and emotional.


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

VM: What if a work isn't obviously “Christian,” should it still be submitted?

Absolutely! Honestly, sometimes I don't know what I'm looking for until I find it. And I love to be surprised.

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

Friday, October 11, 2019

Six Questions for Barrett Warner, Editor, Free State Review

Free State Review is a twice-a-year print publication containing prose of 500-3000 words, poetry, personal essays, and one-minute plays. Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Barrett Warner: A vibrant pace, whether the art is dense or airy. As a reader, I want to have to jog a little to catch the bus. I’m not looking for a story to give me a reason to live, breathe, chuckle—I have plenty of those reasons already—but what I yearn is to be thrilled, to be jumped up a notch in spirit by character, scene, plot, swerves, and images.


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

BW: Objectifying language and lifeless caricature, and an author who can’t get out of the way of his creation. Most of the works I read are very passable, but the voice doesn’t balance, or the plot overwhelms the characters, or the narrative and lyric threads are so weak that images must do all the heavy lifting. What I feel I most get, and turn down, are fantastic ideas full of dreams but lacking in the qualities to produce a stupendous poem or short story.


SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog? 

BW: Generally, no, but once or twice in each issue we will reprint a blog if it hits one of our emerging themes right between the eyes. In this regard, we’ve also published Facebook conversations, and Twitter exchanges. But this is seldom.


SQF: Your submission page requests no more oyster poems be sent. Are there other topics/themes you see much too often?

BW: One of our One-Minute Play contributors, Caitlin Saylor Stephens, recently observed: “An oyster leads a dreadful, but exciting life.” We are all about dreadful and exciting, so yes, please write to that quality in people, but leave the oysters in the shoals. They’ve important filtering work to do.


SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?

BW: Keith Douglas, a soldier poet in WWII. First, he was known for throwing a great dinner party out of k-rations, but more importantly, his poems of “extro-spection” open a magic door which Sylvia Plath would later walk through. I’d also like to dine with anyone from the Dark Room Collective…Major Jackson, Sharan Strange, Tracy K. Smith…so many incredible poets. I’ve been trying to master figurative language my whole life and I’d be angling to jack a vowel from one of these greats. Lastly, I would love to crack some loaves with Flannery O’Connor. There once was a time when writers also knew about farm life and I like to visit that era from time to time.


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

BW: Do we have a brand? Regrettably, yes. It’s all about totally limited omniscience, something too opaque to describe, but we’re serious about this. It’s in so much of what we publish. We don’t want work that is highly dependent on concepts. We don’t want work full of explanations. We don’t even like the use of the word “because.” We want writers who leave a space for the reader to form her own conclusions without having conclusions shoved at her. We want dramatic tension that isn’t always based on a power struggle between two characters. We want the amber feeling that lingers in some enervated space between the painting and the viewer. We want music to be so much more than the trick of its melody.

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