Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Six Questions for Emily Wenstrom, Founder and Editor, wordhaus

Wordhaus is a weekly publication containing new stories in romance, mystery/thriller and sci-fi/fantasy. 

At wordhaus, we're just nuts for a good story. So we figured we’d get some, and share them with all our friends. Good stories. Fun stories. Stories that can go straight to your email or RSS, travel with you in your e-reader or tablet. Hip modern techie stories. It's a new digital age out there writers--let's work together to claim a little piece of it. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

EW: I felt very strongly that publishing can do a better job of trying new things to make the most of the tools of the digital age to connect writers and readers. I slowly started to form an idea of what a digital-age, web-based short story zine could look like--something that covered popular genres instead of heady literary content, something that was easy for average readers to access, and also took advantage of its online platform to promote its authors and help them build a reader base. Following after the blog model, it posts a piece of content weekly. As the idea filled out and I could not find anything else trying out my model, it finally occurred to me to try it myself. 

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

  1. The first thing I check is that guidelines were followed -- that this story fits in one of my genres (romance, mystery/thriller, sci-fi/fantasy) and is under the 2,000 max word count. 
  2. Clean writing--this covers everything from grammar and spelling to a clear plot. You'd be surprised how often I read stories only to find there is no climax, or no conclusion.
  3. A main character that you want to root for.

SQF: What common mistakes do you encounter that turn you off to a submission?

EW: Sloppy submissions. My publication may be new and small, but I can still tell if a writer bothered to clean up their draft before submitting. 

Submissions that don't follow guidelines. I can tell if a writer followed guidelines before I even open it--we ask writers to include their story's genre in the subject line. When I see a writer didn't do this, I expect to find other oversights and sloppiness in the story, too. 

Stories outside of our publication's parameters. We print stories up to 2000 words, in the genres of romance, mystery/thriller, and sci-fi/fantasy. It felt like a pretty broad range of content, but I still get a fair amount of submissions outside of that, from people who clearly did not take the time to see what wordhaus is about. 

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

EW: Generally not. Just because a story is not right for wordhaus does not mean it is wrong. 

SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

EW: So much! I've learned a lot about clarity in plot points, the power of a sympathetic main character, and just how important those submission guidelines can be. The most surprising thing I've learned is the power of the first line--I've come to think of a story's first line similarly to how I think of a news article lede. It's a critical pivotal point where a reader decides to read a story or passes on to something else. Online attention spans are short!

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

EW: How can writers submit stories to wordhaus?

For wordhaus, we look for stories up to 2,000 words in length in the genres of romance, mystery/thriller, and sci-fi/fantasy. Email submissions to wordhauspub@gmail.com, with your name, title, and full story directly in the email body. Include the genre of story you are submitting in your subject line. 

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

NEXT POST: 7/19--Six Questions for Hydra M. Star, Editor, Infernal Ink Magazine

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