Friday, June 25, 2010

Six Questions for Amanda Raczkowski and Joseph Reed, Editors, Caketrain Journal and Press

Caketrain Journal and Press publishes poems, fiction, creative nonfiction, and visual art. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

CJP: After completing our undergraduate degrees, we wanted to stay connected to the literary world and felt that starting Caketrain would fulfill our desire to be part of a support system for the literary community. Whether we're providing an outlet for a new voice or working with writers to further their craft, we aim to lend a hand to fellow artists.

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

CJP: Language, language, language. Caketrain looks for pieces that push the limits of language. The thing that grips us in a good piece of writing isn't the plot or narrative arc. We are interested in the unique character of the writing itself; when a piece works for us, the singular sequence of words and sounds are a perfected formula, and the emotions that are emitted by them are the result.

SQF: What are the top three reasons a story is rejected, other than not fitting into your answers to the above question and why?

CJP: Caketrain does have a very specific vision and that causes the majority of pieces to not be selected for publication. Pieces are more frequently rejected for not being a stylistic fit, regardless of their other merits, than for any other reason. Many times a writer is close to our editorial vision, but we may not feel the connection to the work; when this happens, we will frequently encourage further submissions from that writer. And of course, there are also the simpler reasons why a piece is not accepted – grammar errors, failure to follow guidelines, etc. -- but these are fewer and further between.

SQF: What is it about the characters in a story that makes them pop off the page and grab hold of you?

CJP: We do not necessarily focus on character as much as narrative voice, but we do tend to be attracted to characters that are sympathetic if a bit strange.

SQF: Your guidelines state you do not accept previously published stories. Does this include works an author posted on a personal blog?

CJP: Publishing one's own work on a personal blog could be considered self-publishing and we don't want to negate the culture surrounding self-publication as a valid form of publishing; on the other hand, a piece on a personal blog has not been "curated" by an editor before, and there's a school of thought that suggests that this curative act is what "publication" really amounts to. So it's complicated. We have not encountered this situation often, but when we do, we try to evaluate each circumstance on its own terms.

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

CJP: If we were to give submitters advice it would be to familiarize yourself with the journal you want to publish your work. Doing the preliminary research is sure to increase your chances of publication.

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

NEXT POST: 6/28--Six Questions for Steve Himmer, Editor, Necessary Fiction

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