Friday, January 24, 2020

Six Questions for Garnet Juniper Sanford and Logan S. Seidl, Editors, The Vitni Review

The Vitni Review publishes poetry, fiction/creative nonfiction to 7,500 words—including flash— and book reviews. “Our intention is to publish writing that pushes against convention, which challenges, subverts, or skillfully manipulates tradition, and which serves to advance the understanding of human culture and experience via interesting metaphors, exciting diction, and engaging content.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Garnet & Logan: We had wanted to collaborate on a project of this nature for quite some time, while we were studying in the MFA program at the University of Nevada-Reno. We wanted to participate in giving light to work by artists who are historically under- or misrepresented in literature. We’re also hoping to publish some local poets and writers, and even hope to have a prize of some sort for Nevada writers.


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

G: I like to be either excited by a piece, or made to go cry in the bathroom for a couple of minutes. I guess you could say I prefer a piece exhibit a degree of emotional daring.

L: I would say a unique sense of voice is important. I also think a good submission ought to end as strongly as it begins.


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

L: Clichés, stock ideas, sexism, closed-minded-ness.

G: Stereotypes (especially gendered ones), gratuitous violence against women and minorities, and unfortunately-conceived sex scenes.


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

L: Imagery is one of the things I look for the most, particularly with poetry. In fiction, point-of-view is important, and character development.

G: I like an opening that makes me think, or even shocks me. I like pieces that open right in the thick of it, demanding attention to themselves through language, tone, form, etc. I also like openings that draw you in sneakily and make you complacent before wrecking your shit later.


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

G & L: If we’re talking about submissions we absolutely won’t take, we aren’t really looking for fan fiction or any kind of writing that doesn’t serve a literary purpose or in some way move its genre forward. We’re fairly open-minded when it comes to content and form, but we absolutely suggest writers consider our mission when submitting.


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

G & L: How about “What other projects are you interested in pursuing?” At The Vitni Review, we’re hoping to expand our publication capabilities to accommodate translations and full manuscripts. We’d also like to have more of an impact on our local arts community as we grow, as we think it’s important to support local writers. The prize for Nevada writers mentioned earlier is one possible element of this particular goal.

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

Friday, January 17, 2020

Six Questions for Desmond White, Editor-in-Chief, Rune Bear

Rune Bear publishes fiction and poetry up to 300 words with elements of the strange, surreal, supernatural, and speculative. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Desmond White: I was inspired by the 60 Second Film Festival and their love for small content, huge impact. I wanted to create (another) home for flashy prose and poetry; a place where great ideas could exist without being stretched to unnecessarily high word counts.

Back in 2017, I started talking to my wife and some literary accomplices in California and we came up with some fundamental ideas: we’d make a literary magazine with weekly content and a quarterly contest, and the focus would be genre pieces like science fiction and horror.


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

 DW: I look for:

  1. An original idea, hopefully delightfully interesting and twisted.
  2. A concise, sublime delivery. Our magazine’s frugal word requirement demands high attention to word choice and methodology. The challenge is to be as beautiful and economic as a haiku.
  3. Completeness. The narrative needs to be trimmed and truncated, sure, but that doesn’t mean a piece can’t hint at a full story. I want to feel like the best part made it to writing; the rest can unfold in the imaginative world between and beyond the lines. 

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

DW: Since Rune Bear wants to welcome new and aspiring writers, our editors are not typically deterred by poorly crafted submission letters or manuscript formatting. However, I am turned off by arrogance. Sometimes a writer will send us their work with lines like “this poem is part of a collection that will change the world” or “I hope you choose to collaborate with me.” One contributor wrote that their poetry is “undoubtedly of great importance.” I do not think that’s what Neil Gaiman meant when he said: “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like.” Humility, friendliness, and confidence are the submitting writer’s greatest assets, but not self-bloat and arrogance.


SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?

DW: Although I can be puckish, I’m a quiet person who prefers good conversationalists over raucous, bombastic characters. I’d have been intimidated by the famous sleepover at Villa Diodati where Frankenstein was conceived. My ideal dinner mates would be Flannery O’Connor, an older, gentler Mark Twain, and Umberto Eco. I can only imagine the stories.


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

DW: I’m not worried about sex, although I take a Thomas C. Foster approach to love-making. Explicit sex should be about everything but sex. For example, let’s say someone submits a piece about a succubus who seduces a guy at a bar. It’s likely the editors will feel like this has been done before and not be very engaged in the work’s conventional lustiness. But if the author twists our expectations, such as revealing that he was an incubus all along, and she used her muggle wiles to seduce the unseducable, we might be more interested. I guess I embedded the hard sell in my anecdote. We want to avoid petrified fossils. The ‘this has all been done before’ feeling that accompanies tropes that do not break from previous renditions.

I should add that as an ally of and advocate for #saferlit, our magazine rejects the glorification of gender violence, rape culture, and any discrimination against minorities and the disadvantaged. Preferably, the pieces we select will use the fantastic and speculative to reflect on the state of things today, whether its political, social, or just the human condition. And in this reflection, conflicts can arise that touch on difficult subjects: genocide, self-harm, toxic philosophies, etc. But we do not want to promote any ideology or thought-concept that truly seeks to harm, destroy, or negate anyone who has been historically oppressed or silenced. For example, sending us a piece that involves racism against fey (you can tell I’ve binged Carnival Row) is acceptable if the racism is shown to be ignorance, delusion, and darkness. But any endorsement or promotion of racism is a hard no.


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

DW: Why flash fiction and not larger works?

There are a few practical reasons why we pursue 300 words or less.

(1) It’s easier on the editors to read through the slush pile in a timely manner and discuss pieces.

(2) It’s easier on the reader to submit original work if it’s short and sweet. No one feels compelled to submit a 10,000-word story to a magazine that, sadly, cannot afford to pay its contributors.

(3) With so much content on the internet, reader attention spans have dwindled (including mine). But everyone has time to read a paragraph of prose or a stanza of poetry.

But there are some other reasons that pertain to literary loftiness. 

(1) Brevity is a noteworthy skill in a storyteller.

(2) Smallness allows ideas to be expressed without being stretched to abnormal lengths. Our writers can play around with a clever concept and execute it without unnecessary extension. Saves some brow-sweat.

(3) As a Jedi Master once opined: “Size matters not.”

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



Friday, January 10, 2020

Six Questions for Alice Rose and Nicola Bourne, Editors, Clover & White

Clover & White publishes poetry to 1 page, flash fiction of 200-500 words, and short stories of 500-2,000 words. “We are particularly interested in work by unpublished, emerging and underrepresented writers.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Clover & White: As emerging writers ourselves, we wanted to give a platform to other emerging writers. Our goal is to offer exposure to writers at the beginning of their career as well as making them feel welcomed into the writing community. If an acceptance from us is the drive a writer needs to have more confidence in their own craft then we’ve really achieved what we are hoping for.


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

C&W:

  1. We are looking for individuality and new voices. We aren’t asking you to reinvent the wheel but any kind of narrative or characters that aren’t stereotypical or clique, we LOVE. An example of this is a fab short story we published by Claire Lawrence called ‘Love Under A Halo’. It isn’t too often you get to read about two old age pensioners finding lesbian love but this was that, and it was wonderful.
  2. Another thing we look for is the strength of the piece on its own. The piece shouldn't be part of a collection or larger piece that needs explaining.  It needs to leave an impact in the small space it contacts.
  3. We love work (especially poetry and flash) which almost emulates some of the most well-known work being published right now, but adds it’s own take. If you’re going to use a dated format, you’ve got to put a modern theme on it.

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

C&W: Although we are actively seeking under-represented writers, we are only ever accepting or declining pieces based on merit alone. Therefore, we prefer polished pieces – i.e. not a first draft. It is often clear who has edited and redrafted a piece and who has not. Anything that we feel has been done endless times before will turn us off to a submission, if you are comparing love to a rose or summers day, it won't be for us.


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

C&W: I’m sure it’s been said a dozen times by countless editors but we do get a lot of submissions and therefore, anything that immediately hooks our attention will do the same to our readers. We often read a lot of poetry which is great at this but less so for flash fiction and short stories. Our tip would be to begin the piece in the middle of the action, drop your reader right into the excitement. If you think your piece begins to dwindle, look to make some cuts.


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

C&W: Anything that isn't saying something or reflecting on a wider issue is going to be a hard sell for us.  And yes, erotica would fall under that heading for us.


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

C&W: ‘If you could give some advice to an emerging writer, what would it be?’ Remember that writing is a craft/skill that needs to be honed, the only way to get better is to write and rewrite, and to read the types of writing you want to write. You can’t expect to sit at a piano and know how to compose, you have to practice.

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

Friday, January 3, 2020

Six Questions for Heather Bartlett, Founder/Editor, Hoxie Gorge Review

Hoxie Gorge Review is a new online literary journal, committed to publishing innovative poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by both emerging and established contemporary writers. Based at the State University of New York at Cortland, Hoxie Gorge aims to provide a platform for writing that is urgent and engaging. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Heather Bartlett: I’ve long wanted to edit a literary magazine. Hoxie Gorge Review was born out of that long held desire, as well as a desire to create opportunity for exceptional students in the writing program at SUNY Cortland. Our aim with Hoxie Gorge is to carve out a place in the literary conversation. We wanted to create a platform to showcase outstanding writing. We wanted to place emerging writers right alongside established writers. We wanted to become a space for important and incisive voices.


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

HB:
1. Voice – we’re looking for work with a strong and distinct voice.
2. Tension – what’s at stake? What keeps us invested and moving through this work?
3. Surprise – we want to find something or end up somewhere we were not expecting.


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

HB: Submissions that are not thoughtfully crafted. We are turned off of a submission when it is clear that the writer didn’t care enough about their work to read our submission guidelines, or to proofread for grammar and typos before submitting. This is not to say that the occasional typo will keep us from reading; I know all too well how easy it is to spot typos immediately after clicking “submit.” But when a writer doesn’t take care with their submission, it will be hard for us to be pushed to invest in it.


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

HB: We want to be pulled in right away, so we’re looking for those three things –voice, tension, and some element of surprise to propel us forward into the piece.


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

HB: Yes, erotica, sex for sex sake, violence for violence sake, these are all hard sells for us. But the biggest hard sell is work that doesn’t contribute anything new to the conversation. We don’t have to reinvent the coming of age story or the memoir essay to do that, but we do want work that is unique in some way – coming at it from a place we weren’t expecting or showing us something we hadn’t seen in the same way before.


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

HB: What’s it like, starting and editing a literary magazine?

It is a labor of love

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

Friday, December 20, 2019

Six Questions for Emma Kalson, Editor, Fudoki Magazine

Fudoki Magazine is an online flash fiction publication for folklore, fairy tales, myths, fables, fantasy and legends and showcases new writers and seasoned authors alike. We want stories to engage and enthrall! Read our complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Emma Kalson: I’m a huge fan of storytelling and have fond memories of my grandmother’s fantastical tales at bedtime, or rainy lunchtimes at primary school when one of the lunch ladies entertained us with her stories. We tend to think of fairy stories as for children but add in ghost stories around a campfire or people gathering to lampoon the political chief of the day without getting themselves arrested and storytelling and those tales become much bigger than the words themselves. They’re about binding communities together, recognising ourselves and others and so much more. We don’t really tell tales so much now and I know some of my grandmother’s stories are lost forever because they weren’t written down—as adults it’s very easy to get wrapped up in every day life and forget these stories we’ve had passed on to us, so Fudoki Magazine is in large part about recording stories and letting us pass them around. The name comes from fudoki, which were reports to the monarchy in Japan in the eighth century and these reports included the oral tales told, as a form of preventing them from being lost to history.


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

EK: Fully formed stories—flash fiction is an artform and isn’t just a cut-off longer piece. Whilst it can’t fit in the same level of detail as a longer story, that’s down to the skill of the writer.

Something that grabs me and is original for Fudoki Magazine—whilst there’s some excellent writing out there, it doesn’t always excite me. As editor, I get to curate a body of work and if it doesn’t excite me or elicit emotion in the right way, I don’t feel that would fully represent what I’m trying to do with Fudoki Magazine. I’m also conscious of variety, so if I have very similar stories submitted in a single reading period, I will only choose one.

A polished piece—the occasional typo isn’t an issue, but if the pacing isn’t right or there’s word repetition I’ll pick up on it very quickly. If I think there’s something in the piece, I may send it back to the author and request they work on it, but that’s the exception as I only have so many hours in a day. I do have ‘tips for submission’ (https://fudokimagazine.com/tips/) on the website and the best piece of advice I can ever give is to read your story out loud or better still, get someone else to do it or your word processing software. When we read our own work back, particularly whilst it’s fresh, we’ll read what we think it says, not what it actually says. Reading it out loud is a great way to switch up the pacing and replace a few words, which can turn a good story great with very little effort.


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

EK: When you can tell the author doesn’t care—although that sounds hard to do with a set submission form, I do mostly pick up on it. An author bio is a chance to shine and I ask for social media accounts, so I can promote the author and hopefully find them a few new fans. If an author pastes all their details in the story box, when it specifically states not to, or puts all their social media in the bio box, rather than the right place or their bio hasn’t been well-crafted, I feel that they’re treating me as one more another venue for their story, rather than it being a mutually beneficial arrangement with another human being. And follow-up emails… nearly all authors I deal with are absolutely lovely but there’s an occasional one where I’ll make a mental note not to deal with them again, however good their story is. Fudoki Magazine is a project borne of passion and I guard that passion really carefully!


SQF: Is it really necessary to read the guidelines? They’re often long and boring.

EK: Yes! Read the guidelines. Always read the guidelines. Publishers have them for a reason. And with Fudoki Magazine, the guidelines form part of the author-publisher agreement, so it’s essential to know what you’re signing up to.

It’s a matter of scale, too. The workload for 100 submissions is very different for that of 10. I email every single author and with those who are successful, there can be a thread of communication. The easier an author makes my life, the more my sanity remains intact!


SQF: If Fudoki Magazine had a theme song, what would it be and why?

EK: Gosh, this is a hard question! I listen to a ridiculous amount of music and don’t think I could pick one thing. Something by Arcade Fire, The Waterboys or Wolf Alice, perhaps. As an anthology album, I’d pick UNKLE’s The Road. It’s in two parts and there’s a remixed work as well, so it’s an evolving piece of art.


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

EK: What does a rejection mean for an author? Story rejections are universally viewed as terrible events, but they’re not. The first thing is to consider that no one author has a 100% acceptance rate; your writing won’t appeal to every editor every time. The joy of different publications is their variety. Editors pick what’s right for them and whereas one editor may dislike your piece, it’s another publications gain… keep submitting.

More importantly, submitting your work means putting yourself out there—if you don’t submit your work, you won’t receive rejections, but you won’t receive acceptances either. So that ‘no’ is something to be congratulated: putting your work out into the world is a brave thing to do.

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