Friday, December 3, 2021

Six Questions for Jonah Marlow Bradenday, Editor, Rock Salt Journal

Rock Salt Journal publishes fiction, nonfiction and visual arts. “We celebrate the unusual, but also the usual that masks its depth in familiarity.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Jonah Marlow Bradenday: All my favorite authors focus on simple rural character relationships in their works. These characters aren’t heroic or villainous. They’re more grounded in reality, specifically the day-to-day disasters that seem insignificant in comparison to more epic stories. The neighbors are wickedly nosy, the town council has become entrenched in its archaic ways, the newcomers are only too happy to move in next door. I love this type of writing and want to share it with others to the best of my ability, so as my home state is Maine, a New England-based magazine seemed the logical thing to invest my time in.

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

JMB: The first thing I look for in a piece of writing is its relation to New England. This doesn’t mean I won’t publish stories set elsewhere. I will if they’re excellent, but the quickest way to grab my attention is a clear understanding of our guidelines. Besides that, I look for grubbiness in character and setting alike. All the best protagonists wear unwashed jeans and oversized snow boots. Also, emotional depth makes me happy.

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

JMB: I don’t like unnecessary sexualization. If sex is obviously important to your piece’s premise, great, but if the waitress’s breasts are supple just for supple’s sake, I probably won’t finish your story.

SQF: What do you look for in the opening paragraph(s)/stanza(s) of a submission?

JMB: The opening stanza should represent the content and quality of the piece as a whole. I look for sentences that are fun to read aloud and vivid visual descriptions.

SQF: Many editors list erotica, or sex for sex sake, as hard sells. What are hard sells for your publication?

JMB: Again, unnecessary sexualization is a hard sell for me, but I also lean away from hard fantasy and stories where next to nothing actually happens. This is not to say I don’t love character-heavy writing. Just make sure you could describe the plot using verbs other than: “thinks,” “thinking,” or “thought.” Also, a dab of fantasy can be lovely.

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

JMB: What types of endings do you prefer? To answer this, I’d say that a lot of submissions I receive are strong up until the last bit, and then they just kind of end without giving much of a reveal or final realization. The ending of a story is what I’ll remember, so I like them to add something rather than only serve as a drawstring. Keep me thinking about your writing as long as you can.

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

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