Friday, April 20, 2018

Six Questions for the Senior Editors, Literary Mama

Literary Mama publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, books reviews, poetry, and more. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What is the focus of Literary Mama?

Literary Mama: Literary Mama believes that all mothers have a story worth sharing and honors the many faces of motherhood by publishing work that celebrates the journey as well as the job. We celebrate the physical, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual processes of becoming a mother through words and images that may be so stark it hurts.

Our tagline—writing about the many faces of motherhood—probably says it best for the social media hashtags, but we take the word “faces” seriously. We recognize that motherhood is a lifelong process–our founding editors called it a birthing process—and that, in addition to the physical act of giving birth or completing an adoption, motherhood is psychological, intellectual, and spiritual. Literary Mama offers a venue for the exploration and contemplation of all these faces.

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

LM: We remain true to the type of work our founding editors began publishing in 2003: “that of superior craft and fresh voice. Our goal is to share stories that move readers from the outside to the inside, from observation to empathy, and we love it when our readers have the same take-your-breath-away reaction to a piece that we did.”

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

LM: Our editors are all volunteers and work on Literary Mama because they believe in its mission. However, we all have incredibly busy lives outside of the magazine, and we always appreciate the submissions that follow our guidelines to the letter. Those that do not are at risk of not being read at all. Additionally, submissions that arrive with unprofessional formatting or without a brief cover letter from the author definitely begin at a disadvantage.

SQF: Do you provide comments on submissions?

LM: Every submission receives an automated response upon receipt. Department editors send letters of acceptance or rejection within 3 to 12 weeks. Some pieces that don’t fit the mission are rejected outright. If a department likes a piece but thinks it needs revision, the editors will work with the author and provide extensive feedback. All pieces must be approved by our senior editors, who also may offer some feedback.

SQF: If Literary Mama had a theme song, what would it be and why?

LM: What a great question! We decided to ask our staff, and like Literary Mama’s tagline of “honoring the many faces of motherhood,” in giving their input, our staff showed those many faces in the wide range of song suggestions!

Regina Spektor "Fidelity": “The first verse sounds like the essence of much of what we publish--and we all know that when it comes to mothering and writing, everybody *does* say that of course it's gonna get better.”

Natalie Merchant “Kind and Generous": “I selected this song not as a representation of Literary Mama's content, but as a representation of our gratitude to every contributor who pours their passion onto the page and then entrusts the LM staff to present their voice to our readers and beyond.”

I’m throwing in anything by Patty Griffin. Her voice is the vibe I get from LM.

Other suggestions:

Helen Reddy "I Am Woman"
Nick Drake “Fly
Tori Amos “Mother
Madness “Our House
Mazzy Star “She's My Baby
Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young “Teach Your Children
The Shirelles “Mama Said
Aretha Franklin “Respect
Louis Armstrong “What a Wonderful World

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

Question: You'll be celebrating your 15th anniversary next fall. What keeps (and has kept) Literary Mama alive and healthy among the hundreds of literary journals?

Answer: As already noted, Literary Mama is, and has always been, a volunteer organization staffed by women who are passionate about motherhood and stories. Our current team hails from nearly 30 locations throughout the world and includes communications professionals, university professors, MFA students, writers, editors, copyeditors, photographers, and moms, but what we all have in common is a commitment to creating a quality magazine. Each department is dedicated to finding and working with strong mama writers to bring quality stories to the page. We believe this commitment will keep Literary Mama thriving for many years to come.

Thanks to the editors who provided input to these responses. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

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