Friday, June 23, 2017

Six Questions for Danielle Lowrey, Editor-in-Chief, 500 Miles Magazine

500 Miles Magazine publishes fiction, poetry, nonfiction, previously published works, and art. "We love writing that makes us laugh. We want our bellies to hurt. But sometimes we want our imaginations to wander. We love fantasy, getting lost in worlds beyond our own created by others. Write with a young adult slant? Love it! Enjoy creating experimental pieces or exploring wacky characters? So do we! Send us your weird, your funny, your happy, your fantasy, we will love and cherish them all.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this zine? 

Danielle Lowrey: I love words. I can't help myself. If I'm not writing, or reading, or talking about books, or thinking about books, then I'm lost. So when I tried starting a writing career for myself, in very small ways, I was disheartened. My writing style isn't conventional. I'll wake up in the middle of the night and a character will come to me, instantly questioning her current situation because she actually thinks it would be a great idea to go pick up a guy she's been crushing on at a complete stranger's funeral. Who publishes a short story like that? As rejection letters for my non-conventional pieces started rolling in, I realized I had no idea who published work like that and saw a hole in the market. If other writers are writing weird/non-conventional work, their pieces need a home, just like mine did. So I decided to start 500 Miles Magazine. I LOVE reading all these wonderful and insane submissions that come our way. I root for all our submitters to find that perfect home for their one special piece. Because that's what it's all about right? And through interacting with our authors, I've found the market gap 500 Miles was created to fill is still totally there, but at least it's a bit smaller than I thought.

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

  1. Weirdness, in a good way. I know it's a vague answer, subject to personal bias, but I like weird things. Like, what if you pulled up your carpet and found a complete replica of your world, but it's mirrored and upside-down? 
  2. Funny. Outside of handling words in some fashion, laughing is my favorite past-time. If I'm going to tell a stranger they need to read 500 Miles and mean it, I need to tell them it'll make them laugh; bring them joy in some way. 
  3. Intrigue/well-written. If I can't stay inside your piece and stay captivated and enthralled by it, then what would make me think I can convince my readers to read it? But just because I personally feel an author's work doesn't fulfill #3, that doesn't mean the work is bad. It just means I honestly don't think it's a good fit for our magazine. 

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

DL: Unnecessary violence, erotica, S&M, haughtiness, and truly terrible writing.

SQF: Will you publish a submission an author posted on a personal blog?  

DL: Of course! At the end of the day we're all just writers trying to get our work out there, get recognition for it, and maybe one day get paid to write. Who am I to stop a writer from trying to achieve this goal because they're trying to self-promote? I only ask that if you submit a piece from your blog that you hide the piece from view while you submit it to us and until after you hear back from us. If we reject you, no harm no foul. You can just unhide your piece. If we accept your work, please keep the piece hidden until the issue you'll be published in comes out. Once the issue comes out, please let people know the piece is now published in 500 Miles Magazine, just as we'll let our readers know your piece was originally published on your blog.

SQF: What do you want authors to know about the submissions you reject and how authors should respond? Along this same idea, do you mind if authors reply with polite questions about the comments they receive? 

DL: I want authors with rejected submissions to know that I'm a writer too. I completely understand that sinking feeling or rise of utter frustration that comes from opening an email saying your work just didn't make the cut. So I don't reject anything lightly. I'm also not going to lie to an author. If I say, 'your work isn't a good fit for our magazine at this time,' there's no secret code hidden in there. I'm not trying to trick you, I don't secretly think your work is bad. I honestly mean, that in shaping our current issue, I didn't feel your piece meshed well with the rest of the magazine. Having said that, please don't re-submit something to us in the hopes it'll be a better fit for the next issue. If I just HAVE to have a piece from you, I'm not above contacting you and begging.

As far as polite questions go, I think it's important to remember that 500 Miles is crazy small at this point, which can be both good and bad for writers. The good thing is that I've personally read and taken notes on every piece. The bad thing is that there's only so much reading a small team can do. The last thing I want is for our inbox to get so overwhelmed with questions, we spend more time responding to them than fulfilling our actual purpose, which is reading submissions to create the next issue. So I'd say if you  have a few questions, that's totally fine. I'll be more than happy to answer them the best I can, but please be sparing with the amount you ask. Also, since answering questions isn't the top priority of the magazine, please be patient. We're not going to respond right away, and I don't want that freaking anyone out. On the same note, don't keep sending me reminder or inquiry emails because I haven't gotten back to you by when you wanted. I try really hard to be a nice and flexible person, but if you hound me, there's a really good chance I won't respond to you out of spite. I love this magazine, but it's not my whole life.

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

DL: I'm not quite sure what question I would create here, but there is one last thing I'd really like writers and readers to know about 500 Miles. We have a resources section on our website that I highly encourage writers to take advantage of. I got the idea from The Redheaded Stepchild. Looking at all the magazines authors had been rejected from, really helped me broaden my magazine submission search. Sometimes it's hard to find the right home for a piece. Hopefully, by seeing the magazines our authors have been published in, it will help writers find more magazines that could be a good fit for their work.

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

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