Friday, June 21, 2019

Six Questions for Mette Jolly and Philippa Hall, Editors, Funny Pearls

Funny Pearls publishes cartoons, short stories and funny takes on life written by women worldwide. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?


Mette Jolly: I was looking for funny, short pieces to read online. Anything, a humorous dating series, short stories, cartoons. Something to read during breaks instead of online news and gossip. Admittedly, I may have been looking in the wrong places, nonetheless, I couldn’t find what I was looking for and decided to try and create it. I imagined that if I was looking for it, others might be too.

Philippa Hall: It was Mette’s idea, but I was thrilled when she asked me to join her in this venture. I have always used humour as a coping strategy for life and, like Mette, love the idea of a platform showcasing the funniness of women. I think that a lot of women underestimate how funny they are.


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



MJ: The submission has to make me laugh, or at least smile a lot. Originality is appreciated too as is a tidy, well-structured piece. But I love nothing more than a line that makes me laugh every time I think of it.

PH: Obviously our top requirement is that it has an element of humour. I don’t necessarily expect to be rolling on the floor laughing, but I must smile at some point during the reading. The topic itself may be amusing or the story may be written in a humorous way, even though the subject matter is dark. Or the narrative voice may have a wryness to it. Secondly, for me, good prose is a joy. I love words and have huge admiration for writers who can produce textured language. Thirdly, originality. If you have a fresh idea or a new way of telling a classic story, you will always engage your reader.



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



MJ: We don’t often receive anything that seriously turns me off. But I don’t like banal musing or cliché of any sort, be it in story, expression or even single words. Also, submissions, which are mean-spirited or in which characters have been created purely so that the writer can trash them. That I do find off-putting. 


PH: Laziness. Laziness in all its forms. When a writer hasn’t proofread or bothered to fix basic mistakes or hasn’t pushed themselves to work towards perfecting the writing. That is often manifested, as Mette says, in resorting to clichés – predictable ideas, hackneyed turns of phrase, or falling back on the easy option.


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


MJ: I think the list you mention applies to our website too although we haven’t received very much of that sort of thing. In addition, anything with a particular political angle tends to be a hard sell with our audience. Presumably because they visit the site precisely in order to get a break from all that.  Finally, stories that make the reader struggle through several pages to get to the point are unsuitable for an online format. Don’t get me wrong, a twist at the end can be great, but it mustn’t be the only point of the story.

PH: Sex can provide a great deal of humour in life, so I’m surprised we don’t get more stories about sex! Erotica is different though. Erotica and humour are perhaps not ideal bedfellows – yes, I know what I did there! – so we don’t get a lot of submissions which include blatant eroticism. I’m not sure that there is anything we deliberately use as a hard sell but there certainly are two topics which women seem to enjoy writing about: food and diet; romance and dating.


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


MJ:Greg’s Theme’ from the movie ‘Little Fockers.’

PH: The theme song from ‘Thoroughly Modern Millie’. It’s funny but it’s also about being fearless as a woman. That song always lifts my heart.




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

MJ: Perhaps you could have asked why we only accept writing by women.

The answer is that we felt women were poorly represented in the humour genre. I would like to stress that we have no empirical basis for making this claim, it was a feeling, rather than a scientifically established fact. But many female writers have since told us they never thought they could be funny or that they had been told specifically that women aren’t funny. The latter is obviously nonsense.

Another widespread misconception is that only women enjoy humour by women. That’s nonsense too as our male readership would testify.

PH: Since we only accept submissions from women, I wish you’d asked whether our magazine is intended only for women. The answer to that is ‘no’. We have a broad readership and do not market Funny Pearls at a primarily female readership. Everybody needs a laugh!

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

Friday, June 14, 2019

Six Questions for Grey Wolf, General Editor, AHF Magazine

AHF Magazine publishes short fiction, including flash, author interviews, essays on writing alternate history, book reviews, and more. “AHF Magazine is dedicated to promoting alternate history and the associated genres of Science Fiction, Steampunk, Historical Fiction and Fantasy.” Read the complete guidelines here. AHF Magazine is published quarterly, and the quick URL is www.ahfmagazine.com.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Grey Wolf: The idea came to me walking to work one morning (I do gardening to earn my day-by-day money). I realised that while the AHF website was a good resource for writers to promote published books, I was not providing an avenue for people to promote their new work, or broad ideas. I had previously published 10 issues of Innovate Magazine and 9 (then) of The Wolfian, and the idea of a magazine dedicated to alternate history (and associated genres) strongly appealed. It has always been a passion of mine, and I have always enjoyed reading and helping other people with their writing in the genre (on discussion boards etc). I thought it would be something valuable I could do for writers, whether they were published or not.


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

GW: Although it might sound a bit pedantic, one thing I look for is compliance with the submission guidelines - sent to editor@wolfianpress.com, specifying it as a submission to AHF Magazine, and telling me something about it in the submission email.

I also look for an interesting start to the piece, that sucks me in and at the same time anchors me in the genre or sub-genre that the piece is about. Because we take submissions from science fiction to urban fantasy, it is useful for the editor to be able to get into the right mindset to assess a piece from early on. While I accept some pieces have twists late on that change expectations, most do not, but it can be confusing not knowing whether I am reading alternate history, historical fiction, or historical fantasy.

I guess a third thing I look for is sensible internal formatting - it is not vital to adhere to the guidelines as to font and line spacing, as I can change those, but I look for the submission to be spaced properly, with breaks clearly signaled and the style to be constant throughout.


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

GW: Bad English - I realise it is not everyone's first language, but if the submission does not make sense, or reads very awkwardly we won't be publishing it. If it is poetry, we might contact the poet and query the problems we have. But if it is prose, we will generally decline it. After all, while anyone can make allowances for writing as a second language, it is the readers who are going to be reading it, and wondering what it is.

Please don't take that to mean we don't want submissions from people whose second language is English - we have had fantastic stories from people around the world. All we mean is that the translation, or the art of writing in a second language, has to be of an acceptable standard to publish.


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

GW: A catch - I think it is that simple; we look for something to draw us in. If it doesn't draw us in, then it probably won't draw the readers in. Drag us into the story on the first page, make us want to carry on reading. We will almost always read a submission to the end, but the difference between the "YES!" pile and the "It got better as it went on" pile is the initial catch. If the reader isn't invested in the story from early on, they will probably skip it when reading the magazine, and the more submissions we get per issue, the less space we have for stories which end well, but don't initially drag you in, because the less patience the reader will have for those.


SQF: Is it really necessary to read the guidelines? Many are long and boring.

GW: Well, if I think a submitter has not read the guidelines, any email replying to their submission will ask them to read the guidelines and agree to them. We might ask this anyway, but we will certainly ask it if we feel that the submitter has not read the guidelines. Either way, you're going to be asked to agree to the guidelines, so it's best to read them!

I don't know what I can do about anyone finding them boring - it's difficult making them exciting! But they are the evolved guidelines from quite a few years' experience publishing magazines. The submitter certainly needs to understand the copyright aspects and that we do not pay. That a submitter is free to use the piece elsewhere, subject to conditions, is the quid pro quo of our not paying for submissions.


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

GW: I guess it would be a question on controversial things - such as sex, magic, using real people as characters etc.

AHF Magazine is aimed for a broad, general audience, so while we have nothing against erotica we won't publish it. But some stories include sex, and this is fine - with the proviso that under Amazon's Terms and Conditions we have to flag this up as an issue of the magazine for over 18's only.
Our primary focus is alternate history, though we include historical fantasy and urban fantasy among the genres we will publish. Within these genres, magic is fine as long as its presence and use keeps the story within those genres.

The use of real people from the past as characters in alternate history is fine (within reason). Using living people is much more problematic - it occurs on a lot of discussion boards, but there is a grey area as to whether that counts as "published". Publishing a story which includes a living person used as a fictional character is a dangerous area for a publisher. If they feature in a by-the-by fashion that does not defame them, we might wave it past. But in general we would approach this would supreme caution.

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

Friday, June 7, 2019

Six Questions for Genevieve Kersten and Eric Andrew Newman, Editors, Okay Donkey Magazine

Okay Donkey publishes poetry and flash fiction to 1,500 words. “Our donkey likes to read the odd, the off-kilter, and the just plain weird. If it has animals in it, even better. The donkey likes to read about animals.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Eric & Genevieve: Since we're both writers ourselves, Eric of flash fiction and Genevieve of poetry, we've already been a part of the lit community for a few years. Eric has also worked as reader for a lit journal and loved getting to read new submissions every week.

There's just so much great, weird writing out there, we wanted to be a part of sharing it with the wider world.


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

E&G: First, it has to be weird, surreal or bizarre. Realism has its place, but it’s not here. We love the experimental.

We also love micros, whether it’s micro poetry or micro fiction. Although, there is a high bar for micros as you have so few words to make an impact.

Finally, we like a strong narrative. When some folks hear that we want weird, surreal, and/or experimental stuff, they throw narrative out the window. But we still want to see our stories and poems hang together in a cohesive way.


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

E&G: The obvious ones: racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia. We feel that hate has no place in the lit community. We want to be welcoming to all people and have as many diverse voices as possible.


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

E&G: Yes, it’s disrespectful to the publication not to read the submission guidelines. Luckily, our submission guidelines are pretty simple! One piece of flash fiction or poetry at a time, and the flash fiction should be under 1,500. As such, we tend not to like it when people send us three poems at once, or a 2,000 word story.


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

E&G: Like a lot of folks, graphic sex and/or graphic violence that seems gratuitous or exploitative are hard sells for us, especially violence against women or cruelty to animals.


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

E&G: Submission fees! We're committed to be a submission fee free magazine for as long as we're running. Unfortunately, this means we'll most likely be unable to pay our contributors, but it's really important to us that submitting to our magazine is free and accessible for everyone

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

Friday, May 31, 2019

Six Questions for Audrey Bowers, Editor-in-Chief, Brave Voices Magazine

Brave Voices Magazine publishes poetry, creative non-fiction, fiction, flash fiction and art. “Brave Voices Magazine is a literary and art magazine dedicated to sharing the human experience.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Audrey Bowers: I started Brave Voices because I was very interested in becoming an editor and seeing what exactly running a magazine of my own would look like.


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

AB: I look for stories that are brave, honest, and make me feel something. I think these three things are what make me enjoy writing. I like seeing the nitty gritty beautiful mess that is someone else's life experience.


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

AB: First of all, if the work or person is racist, sexist, homophobic, or otherwise hateful. I also don't like seeing submissions where you can tell that someone didn't put any time or effort into it. The work doesn't have to be perfect, but I need to see some effort and I like when there's something at stake.


SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraphs/stanzas of a submission?

AB: I look for interesting images or themes. Tell me about you. Tell me about your cat. Tell me about whatever you'd like, but make it compelling.


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

AB: Brave by Sara Bareilles.


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

AB: What does bravery mean to you? To me bravery means doing the thing you know you're meant to do, even if it terrifies you.

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

Friday, May 24, 2019

Six Questions for David Jordan, Editor, Crossways

Crossways publishes poetry and short fiction to 3,000 words. “Although we will read anything (almost), we especially want to hear from new and emerging writers who are looking to break into the world of published authors. Our aim is to publish lots of poetry with some short fiction.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

David Jordan: To publish quality writing from Ireland and around the world. It is very satisfying to say yes to people and to publish their work, and being involved in the literary world, even in a small way, is great.





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

DJ: 

  • Instant appeal. The writing needs to jump out of the page at me. This is because I don’t have time to study every submission. 
  • Music / Form. Because I believe that music and rhythm play a huge role in literary writing. 
  • Imagination. For the same reason. 



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

DJ: Where the writer doesn’t provide a bio. Or if the introductory email is poorly written.




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

DJ: Power. Energy. Music. Imagination. Craftsmanship. Style. 





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

DJ: Anything overtly political that verges on propaganda.




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

DJ: What is the one thing you would say to those wishing to submit to your magazine?

Read the submission guidelines. Don’t be lazy or think you are above them.

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