Friday, November 15, 2019

Six Questions for Nikki Dudley and Trini Decombe, Editors, streetcake magazine

streetcake magazine publishes experimental fiction of up to 2,500 words, poetry, photography, and artwork four times yearly. Read the complete guidelines here.

streetcake also run the streetcake experimental writing prize for 18-26 year olds, supported by the Arts Council England.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

streetcake: When we started the magazine in 2008, it was in response to finding very few places to submit experimental writing for ourselves. The more we thought about it, the more we liked the idea of providing an avenue for people with a more experimental style to be published, whether they were completely unpublished or had been writing and being published for many years. Luckily, there are loads more presses and magazines these days, which we’re really pleased to see.



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

streetcake: We both like slightly different things but generally agree on the following:

  • The language must draw us in and make us feel or think differently
  • The writing and imagery need to be strong, even if the overall content is discordant or fragmented 
  • If you can surprise us or make us laugh, you get extra credit!

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

streetcake: We might have different opinions on this too! Though perhaps we would both say gratuitously sexual or violent content without any reason or purpose, work propagating hate against particular groups, and much less seriously, very traditional pieces since we specialise in experimental writing. Therefore, lots of rhyming and clichéd images don’t generally work for us.


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

streetcake: Something that draws us in. It might be the choice of language, a piece of dialogue, the way the work is presented visually – if you can grab us with something unusual, thought-provoking, funny or beautiful from the start, we go along the journey with you. We generally don’t love over-explanation of ideas, characters or story, especially at the start of a piece. Just like with a literary agent, we want to jump right into your story or poem headfirst.


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

Nikki: I would say something by Arcade Fire or The White Stripes because every time their albums have been released, you never knew what you were going to get. They were/are always experimenting and hopefully, when people read streetcake, they feel at least a fraction of that. Not sure I can choose a particular song, more an ideology!

Trini: Maybe something by a punk band, NOFX, or The Strokes maybe… All of them are quite thought-provoking and that’s what we aim for with streetcake. 



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


streetcake: Perhaps what do we love most about editing streetcake? We would say receiving things in our inbox that are exciting and fun to read, that push the boundaries or sometimes even make us wish we’d written them! We’ve also built up a great network of writers and other organisations/presses now and it’s great when someone actually knows who we are, what we represent or what we do. Experimental writing is important to us and we want to share it in the hopes that we can continue to read more of it!

Our next issue is due out in Jan 2020 so please submit. You can also purchase our 2019 prize anthology on our site: www.streetcakemagazine.com

Thanks for having us on the blog, Jim.

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

Six Questions for Jen Webb, Editor, Meniscus Literary Journal

Meniscus publishes poetry, flash fiction to 500 words, and prose to 3,000 words. “Meniscus is named for the curve that forms at the top surface of a container of liquid. The curve is caused by surface tension, which not only holds the fluid in, but also allows the passage of objects through the surface. It creates uncertainty for anyone attempting a precise measurement because of the parallax effect. The combination of tension, openness and uncertainty can be read as an analogy for creative writing.” Read the complete guidelines here.

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

Jen Webb: I am a part of the executive of the Australasian Association of Writing Programs (AAWP), and about a decade ago some members began suggesting that this organisation expand its publishing beyond the scholarly journal TEXT (textjournal.com.au) to a literary journal. Since I was then on the publishing subcommittee of the AAWP, I followed up this suggestion with my fellow sub-committee members, and we launched the first issue in 2013.


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

JW:

  1. A fresh approach; a ‘well made’ poem or story that doesn’t introduce a fresh way of narrating, structuring, organising etc doesn’t particularly interest us. Go beyond the initial impulse to write about a particular topic or idea, and see where that takes you (ideally, it takes the story out of the ordinary, the ‘already-known’, the obvious, the easy mark).
  2. The quality of the writing; we don’t mind in the least if your syntax is experimental, but you need to be in control of the lines, phrases, sentences. Read your work out loud; listen to the rhythms; proofread it carefully; have a beta reader who can read it for you and give you feedback before you submit it.
  3. The ‘voice’ of the piece. Is it credible? Does it capture my attention? Is this a voice I want to hear more of, to spend time with?

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

JW: Poorly written work; work that is clichéd, or obvious; over-elaborated work that has unnecessary flourishes or complexities; work that relies too much on a joke or twist; work that is didactic; work that promulgates racism or sexism, or that uses such -isms without thought, nuance or critical engagement.



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

JW: We respond to writing that is of quality in terms of style, voice, content and approach; an opening line that literally opens up the piece; if in addition  but we are also open to experimental writing, even if it doesn’t entirely work.


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

JW: Hard sell: I take it by this you mean it is hard for writers to ‘sell’ it to the editors. For us, it’s any work that matches the criteria above about what ‘turns me off’ in a submission. We are relaxed about content and form; we just want the writing to be good / engaging / surprising / experimenting / thoughtful / consoling / etc


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

n/a

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

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.