Friday, May 22, 2020

Six Questions for Han and Gary, Editors, Lunate

Lunate publishes flash fiction, short fiction to 2,000 words, and poetry. “No genre limitations, but our inclination is towards serious, thematically rich, adult work.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Han and Gary: Lunate sprang from our desire to see a broader range of serious, intelligent, emotionally sensitive 'literary fiction' in the flash world. We were a little tired of seeing stories with, say, a strong whiff of misogyny about them; and, likewise, childs-eye-view pieces, which were little more than slices of misery porn about broken homes and broken people, with no real interest in the narrative impetus or the possibilities of language. So, we decided to make our own space where like-minded writers could find a home for their work.

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

We look for different things.

Han
  • Interesting and inventive use of language .
  • A gripping story - preferably something that strays away from the tropes of Death, Divorce, Dementia.
  • Humour - A story doesn't have to be side-splittingly funny; it might just be a single moment of wry observation contained within a more sombre narrative, but I can't stand stories which are morose. 
Gary:
  • A properly clean manuscript. No missing words (we get a lot of that), typos, grammatical issues. We do state that we'll happily clean up minor errors etc, but if there is messy punctuation throughout, we have to say no. If I see an opening sentence like "Laura folded her camping chair and walked back to car...", I'm already doubtful about what might follow.
  • Story. That might be a two thousand word extensive, event-driven narrative, or it might be the drug-fuelled fancies of an astronomer as he contemplates life, the universe and, well, vegetables (see: our Lunate 500 Competition winner The First Man On the Moon by Rosie Garland), but it must be A Story. Three quarters of works we decline are not so much stories, as thoughts: first person, contemplative pieces, invariably bleak but also static in that respect. We're yet to receive a submission of that type where the close, inward recollection surprises with a jumping-off into something unexpected, is humorously self-deprecating or enlivening for the reader. We like it when characters caught in those situations turn the narrative mirror on themselves: become the reader, almost. That’s generous writing when it happens.
  • Style. Inventive wordplay, nicely managed or a very simple, economical prose style (its elegance a result of its ease.) A one thousand word piece where every word earns its place. (Again we receive so many two thousand word pieces where we find ourselves becoming bogged down in the thick, overly detailed dialogue. Cut!) I've read much of our published work aloud - it's often that expertly crafted.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?

Han: Child's eye-view. It has its place, but more often than not it gives a piece a twee/claustrophobic edge that puts me off completely.

Gary: Domestic dysfunction: we get a lot of stories about divorce, from both women and men. The bitter tone of these stories is so overpowering and the narrative so battering, there's simply nowhere for the reader to go. They're a tract, rather than a story, and they rarely surprise. We understand that people need to write from experience, but very often it feels like the writer is simply too close to the material and, as a result, the tone options do narrow: overwrought, morose, claustrophobic. We published a flash called Birth Story by Andrea Holck, narrated by a pregnant woman as her waters break while answering the door to - and meeting for the first time - her recently deceased partner's mother. It is emotionally devastating, has a 'twist' you don't spot coming, and it's laugh-out-loud funny. All that in five hundred words - it can be done!


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

Han: A gripping plot point and clear narrative voice - I know, I know, who doesn't want that, right? But I really don't think it can be overstated. Grab your reader from the off. Especially if we have had a flurry of submissions, I want to be seized and invested from the off.

Gary: Probably language. Are there four lines, say, that are just really nicely, economically delivered? The rest can follow.


SQF: What is the Lunate 500 Competition?

H&G: Our Lunate 500 competition is a flash contest for pieces of 500 words or less on a theme of our choosing. The shortlist is compiled by both of us, and then sent to a guest judge. We counted down that shortlist over fifteen days in February: twelve highly commended pieces, and then a third, second, and winner. We were blown away by the response. People really liked the format and they loved the work. We're biased, for sure, but the shortlist was just exceptional - so much craft and invention.


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

If you'd asked us which authors we most admire, we would have answered in a variety of ways depending on the day, the lunar cycle, and how much caffeine we'd each had, but for a rough idea, today we will say:

Han:
Tayari Jones
Banana Yoshimoto
Cho Nam-Ju

Gary:
John Irving
Gwendoline Riley
Helen McClory

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

Friday, May 15, 2020

Six Questions for The Editor, 3 Moon Publishing

3 Moon Publishing Literary Magazine publishes “previously unpublished, original work. We accept poetry, prose, essays, short memoirs, (grief memoirs in particular,) short stories [to 3,000 words] that fit the horror/sci-fi/spec fic theme, music, art, photography, and spoken word.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

3 Moon Publishing: If I'm being honest, anxiety. I had some time off and wanted to start a project. So I did.


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

3MP: It really needs to hook me right away, be it story, memoir or poetry. It also needs to be emotive. I want the trauma you've been carrying for years. I want conflict and struggle. Because if you're writing that you're still standing. You've survived. Simultaneously, I love weird spec fic and stuff that's just another level of abstract. Is that three? Maybe.


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

3MP: Rhyming. While I adore it as a skill some have and have mastered, I will almost never choose a poem that rhymes.


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

3MP: Like I said, I need hooks - something to really grab my attention and make me take notice. I get that this is an abstract sort of subjective thing, but I'm being honest. 


SQF: What other services does 3 Moon Publishing offer authors?

3MP: Editing, beta reading, audio book recording, and transcription. 


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

3MP: Wow that's weird to think about. I guess maybe my history with poetry...? I've been writing my whole life and was freelancing at 17. But I dont technically have an education in it so I always feel like my work is trash because I dont have 'MFA' next to my name.

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

Friday, May 8, 2020

Six Questions for Nuala O'Connor, Editor, Splonk

Splonk publishes flash fiction to 500 words, microfiction to 100 words, and Irish language flash to 500 words. Read the complete guidelines here - http://splonk.ie/index.php/submit/

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Nuala O’Connor: I’m passionate about flash fiction. I saw a gap that needed to be filled, and I was able to fill it: Ireland had no dedicated flash fiction journal and there was also an opening for an outlet for flash written in Ireland’s first official language, Irish.


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

NO: We are a team at Splonk, with varying tastes, and we offer a fair rating system when choosing the pieces for each issue – each editor weighs their picks 1 to 10, then we weigh the finalists – so the range of published work tends to be broad.
  1. For myself, I want originality in language. Clichéd phrases as titles make me roll my eyes. Clichéd phrases in the body of the flash also irritate me. 
  2. I also want freshness in the spirit of the flash. I like unusual concepts, settings and situations. Few people write the mundane well. Those who do, do it knowingly and with skill and, often, humour.
  3. Lastly, I am not too hung up on plot – I enjoy flashes that are prose poem-like, or vignette style. As long as there is beauty and originality, that’s fine with me.

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

NO:
  • Clichés.
  • Bad, unimaginative titles.
  • Tracts of non-fictiony information.
  • Rants on any topic.
  • The author’s name on the manuscript.
  • Track changes, complete with editorial comments, visible on the manuscript.
  • People who have clearly never read flash.
  • People who have clearly never read Splonk to see what kind of work our team goes for.
  • Poems with line breaks. (Prose poem-like pieces are fine.)
  • Typos. One is forgivable, repeated typos are not.
  • Clipart on the manuscript.

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

NO: 
  • Harsh sexism.
  • Homophobia.
  • Nasty sex.
  • Excessive violence.
  • Racism.
  • Mundanity in situation and/or language.

SQF: If you could have a meal with three authors—living or dead—who would they be and why?

NO: 

  1. Flannery O’Connor – I love her dark humour, she was a genius. Her dialogue is a masterclass. I would just love to hear her hold forth about anything.
  2. James Joyce – if I could get him warmed up enough to speak, we might have a good natter about the colloquialisms of our hometown, Dublin.
  3. Emily Dickinson – she might be quiet at first but, again, if I could get her to speak, I hope we might talk about writing and baking, two things we both love.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

NO: What do we want to see at Splonk right now? (We welcome work from anywhere in the world.)

We’d like to see more microfiction, please.

We want all of the stories we read to have one or more of the following: emotional punch, humour, darkness, vivid language, an odd structure. We like experimental work, straight narratives, language-driven flash, historical, futuristic, post-apocalyptic, weird, quirky, ‘normal’, melancholic, and happy work. 

Send us whatever you’ve got, but please avoid clichés! See – and follow! – our submission guidelines.

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


Friday, May 1, 2020

Six Questions for Harry Leeds, Editor-in-Chief/Fiction Editor, MumberMag

MumberMag publishes fiction/poetry/nonfiction/translation that is good enough to share with your family or friends or secret friends on the internet. We pay our writers and attract excellent talent. Work with us! Read the complete guidelines here.
   
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Harry Leeds: I wanted to read a sleek magazine you can read on your lunch break at work, because in my current reality that’s the only time I have to read for pleasure. And I imagine, many others. I feel like paying writers makes our authors feel accomplished. I was a luddite for a while in terms of digital literature and the future. But I decided to embrace it. THE FUTURE IS HERE. 


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

HL: Tell me something I don’t know. By far the vast majority of submissions are either cliched or simply telling a story I’ve heard a million times before. I read because I want to learn something new. If I wanted to have my convictions reinforced I’d watch network TV. 

Making America mature. I was talking with a friend, and we felt that one thing we really want is for America to become an adult. Come on, America. If you can grow the minds of our readers, then you are something we want.

Be really predictable and forgettable. Yeah, cause we don’t get enough of that. Just kidding.

Ah yes, and though we are very open to everyone, we do try to keep things diverse. But quality is the #1 thing we’re looking for.


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

HL: If there’s something that’s like, really questionable about the whole situation. I had one person send a story and then send another e-mail through a pseudonym saying that someone had been copying their stories and submitting them to online literary magazines without their permission. A quick google search proved these two people were in fact one and the same. We did not publish that story.

The piece has no heart. So many submissions try to imitate some other author or poet, or are written to gain points in a workshop or something. If something is written with soul we will know, and we can clean up the little things in the editing process.

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

HL: An author who has voice. If the voice is clear, developed, mature, that is a good sign. We want poetry that is new, and true, and different, and good. Our poetry editor D.A. Powell can spot a good poem a mile away. So send good ones.


SQF: You recently published your first issue. What surprised you the most about achieving this goal?

HL: It took a really long time to get the website up and running and designed well. Once we got that, the rest fell into place.


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

HL: What are you spending your $1,200 government bailout check on?

A: Paying our writers.

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

Friday, April 24, 2020

Six Questions for Cendrine Marrouat and David Ellis, Co-Founders/Editors, Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal

Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal is a family-friendly, digital magazine that publishes poetry to 1,500 words. The editors are particularly interested in poetry that is stimulating, optimistic, confident, uplifting and inspirational. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Cendrine: At the beginning of last year, David and I started discussing our frustrations with the negativity we saw around us and the elitist and selective stances adopted by many poetry journals. We realized that those journals spent more time reviewing a poet’s publishing history and celebrity status than looking at his or her poems.

As poets interested in inspiring and uplifting others, we wanted to change the situation. We wanted to give every poet a chance to be featured. His or her experience or publishing history did not matter.

Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal was born a few days later.

David: Cendrine and I write and publish so much inspirational poetry between us that it was inevitable that our paths should cross with each other. In a world that sorely needs the healing touch of inspirational words and since we saw that a lot of other journals weren’t covering this type of poetry, we thought we would specialise in it exclusively. Our mission was to be a positive force that would allow people to express themselves and give readers a good reason to read the poetry we feature because of the beneficial effect that it will have on them.


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

Cendrine: David and I rarely disagree when it comes to deciding what will make it into an issue. The submissions we refuse often display the following: complexity, lack of positive message, and typos / grammatical errors.

David: Cendrine is very right, we do see eye to eye on lots of poems that come through our doors. I would say that I am keen to see poems that end up exploring a journey and take us to unique places. I like to see pieces that can be personal in nature, yet we can find common comparisons in our own lives too and empathise with the situation that the poet is writing about. Finally, negative subject matter may be considered but only if we learn a life lesson, with the piece ending in an uplifting and positive way at the end.


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

Cendrine: What turns me off the most is the long lists of achievements that we receive in lieu of simple bios. I want to know who the poets are first and foremost.

David: I’m not happy to see meandering thoughts, if you are writing a prose poem then there has to be a focused purpose, brevity and a musicality to the words that you write. Furthermore, we do get some submissions where the poet tries to give us reasons as to why specifically their poem is inspirational, positive or uplifting but it is clear to us that their poem is not inspirational at all to readers themselves. We have had submissions that are extremely abstract, with no way of fathoming out the message within or even including things like references to politics (which we don’t allow) when they say they are not doing that. Better to be honest with yourself about your poems, be sure that the message is inspirational and closely follow our submission guidelines before sending poems to us.


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

Cendrine: I never focus on the opening part, otherwise I would say no to 90% of the submissions we receive. From experience, I know that a majority of poems have to be read until the end to make complete sense.

David: Yes, as far as I’m concerned anything goes at the beginning, I’m not particularly looking for anything in particular, so long as the poem sets the scene and resolves itself well, then it has an excellent chance of being selected by us for publication.


SQF: You have a separate section for works by poets aged 13-16. What advice can you offer this group to help them get published, perhaps for the first time?

Cendrine: I would tell them the same thing I would tell an adult. Write about the things that make you happy. However, if you must write about a difficult experience, include the lesson you learnt. Think about the positive impact you want to have on your readers.

Also, make sure that you read the submission guidelines carefully.

David: I would say be confident in your own abilities. See if there are any other poets or writers that you yourself aspire to be like and write with them in mind as your inspiration. You will only find your own unique voice by writing often and being true to yourself. Be sure to edit your work thoroughly and read it aloud to your family and friends. Get their feedback, make any necessary adjustments to improve the flow of your poems and then be proud to submit your work to help inspire other young people like yourself.


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

Cendrine: “Is Auroras & Blossoms Poetry Journal the only project that David and you have been working on together?”

David and I have a great working relationship and friendship. We support and push each other out of our comfort zone all the time. We also exchange ideas daily.

Our constant conversations have led us to create our own show (Poetry Really Matters) and co-author a series of guides for authors and writers of all levels. We have other plans, so we are far from done!  

David: Thank you Cendrine, we have so much to offer the world when it comes to inspirational material! My question would be this:- “What is one of the most important pieces of advice that you can give poets right now who want to submit to literary magazines?” For me, this would be to make sure that you purchase and read at least one issue (but preferably more!) of the magazines you are looking to send submissions to, as you will gain valuable insight into their submission processes. Do not copy what the other poets have written but make sure to appreciate the qualities that make their entries stand out, in terms of overall message and style. Ensure that these same qualities are present in the pieces that you choose to submit to the magazines that you want to be featured in.

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

Cendrine: Thank you for this wonderful opportunity!

David: We’ve both had tremendous fun being here and we hope that your readers will submit to us with new found confidence! Thank you for your time Jim, we sincerely appreciate it :)