Heart of Flesh publishes poetry, flash fiction, short stories, narrative nonfiction, visual art, and photography. “Heart of Flesh is a biannual, online literary journal that seeks quality writing and art with a Christian element. We are not a typical “Christian fiction” journal. We believe God’s truth as written in the Bible can be found in both the secular and the non-secular, in nearly every work of literature and every part of the human condition. We accept work from both Christians and non-Christians from all over the world.” Read the complete guidelines here.
SQF: Why did you start this magazine?
Veronica McDonald: A few reasons: I know there are a lot of Christian writers out there that experience a spiritual struggle in writing. Writing for the world as Christians means hovering somewhere between the pull of darkness and the light of Christ. And if they're not writing Christian fiction, they often don't know where they fit in, or even if they should be writing at all. As a writer, and as a new Christian, I can totally relate. I wanted to create a space for them to showcase work that doesn't fit neatly into the Christian category. I've also come across a lot of non-believers that are drawn to Christianity or have a view of Christianity that influences their writing. I wanted a place for their work as well. Having both believers' and nonbelievers' voices
gives readers different viewpoints to consider.
Another reason, which is the most important, is that I wanted to find a way to glorify God. I love Jesus. I love the Bible. And I love writers, artists, and the creative world. My goal is to bring everything together and wait for God to use it in any way He wants. I know He can turn anything into good for His kingdom, and I pray He does with this journal. I don't know what that will look like exactly, but I'm excited to find out.
SQF: What are the top three things you look for in a submission and why?
- It must have a Christian theme. This is the point of the journal, so it's crucial.
- Good voice and command of language. I'd rather a writer use simple language in a meaningful way, with a great voice, than a writer who throws the whole spectrum of his or her vocabulary at me with no real presence of the person behind the words.
- Imagery and metaphors that pop. I love unusual imagery, as long as it is consistent and relevant. I think when dealing with Christianity especially it is easy to use the same language, symbols, and metaphors over and over again (because they fit well and are usually from the
- Bible itself). So I love when people find new ways to describe the Christian experience, or a new way to play with these metaphors.
SQF: What most often turns you off to a submission?
VM: Besides the obvious — obscene sex and violence, and excessive swearing—I probably won't accept work that preaches to the reader. Subtlety is key. Also, anything that twists the gospel or blatantly mocks Jesus; I don't mind when someone wrestles with Him, but mocking leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s)/stanza(s) of a submission?
VM: I love anything unexpected or surreal. Or even something funny. Just get my attention. I want to be pulled in almost instantly.
SQF: What types of submissions would you like to receive more of?
VM: I would love to receive more flash fiction (700 words or less), visual art, and narrative nonfiction. I love poetry and short stories, but I don't get nearly enough of the others, and when I do, they're often very powerful and emotional.
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?
VM: What if a work isn't obviously “Christian,” should it still be submitted?
Absolutely! Honestly, sometimes I don't know what I'm looking for until I find it. And I love to be surprised.
Thank you, Veronica. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.