Friday, October 15, 2021

Six Questions for Gabby, Editor, Orangepeel Literary and Visual Arts Magazine

orangepeel publishes fiction and creative non-fiction to 2,500 words, poetry, recipes, comics, and visual arts. “We will consider work in various languages. In the case of written work, we ask that an English translation is provided.” Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: Why did you start this magazine?


Gabby: The final project for my college publishing course was to create an online literary magazine and publish an issue. I've worked on literary magazines since I was in high school, so I was very excited to build orangepeel from the ground up and choose a direction for it that's personally meaningful. We were only supposed to have 15 pages of content for the assignment, but op's first issue ended up with around 50!



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


Gabby: 

1. Memorability. orangepeel's big thing is introducing memorable pieces, so we take our time when making decisions on submissions. If an editor thinks a lot about a piece before we give the final word, that definitely helps it toward a "yes." It's really hard to define what makes something memorable. For me, the first thing that comes to mind is the sensory experience of a piece and if I feel immersed in it while reading. That's kind of related to the next thing, which is...


2. Purpose. I like to gain something from a piece. It doesn't have to be a grand life lesson or anything; it could be something as simple as an emotion. But my favorite pieces, the ones that I'm thinking of as I write this, zap me away to a very specific moment, place, and feeling. You can tell when someone cares about what their piece is granting to others.


3. Literary skill. I'm comfortable as an editor, so I can deal with fixing a piece's grammar and spelling issues. If a writer has a way with words, describes things uniquely, and has noticeably put effort and consideration into a piece, it would be hard not to accept that! I personally like writers who think literarily and want to present a specific sentiment in a uniquely beautiful or provocative way.



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


Gabby: It's always easier to articulate what you don't like than what you do, so I have a few pet peeves to share. My biggest one is when a piece beats you over the head with a message. I really respect subtlety and pieces that make you think rather than ones that basically go, "The moral is: ..." or something. I have faith in orangepeel's readers to figure a piece's meaning out for themselves. On the other hand, I've also gotten pieces that are very self-serving and don't seem to be written for any audience. If it's all events with no introspection or deeper commentary, there's not much the editorial staff can do with that. Another pet peeve is cliches. Sometimes I like pieces that deconstruct things like that, but most often I read ones that use something really uncreative as their mic drop moment, so to speak, which gets an instant rejection from me. When I can tell that someone is writing more to fulfill an expectation of what a story or poem is and less so because they have something unique to express, I am always going to pass on that work. My last one would be that I can't deal with unrealistic dialogue!



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


Gabby: In my experience editing and assessing written work, I've found that people put effort into creating a hooky beginning yet don't carry that same energy into the rest of the piece. I like consistency, so I often compare the first and last lines and make sure they seem like they belong to the same work. While looking through accepted pieces from orangepeel's last issue, I've noticed that a lot of them begin by establishing the setting or occasion of the piece, so maybe that's something I subconsciously gravitate toward!



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


Gabby: It's hard to get me to accept a piece about a breakup or falling out with someone. I'm sorry but most of those that I've read, while they may have said a lot about the writer's emotions and personal experience, have come off as not being self-aware in the slightest. It would also be near impossible for me to consider a work in which someone is forcing archaic language for aesthetic reasons. While that's not inherently bad, it's not what orangepeel is about. Finally, orangepeel isn't really interested in humor, sarcasm, or parody. I have been on the fence about accepting a couple of very funny pieces, but ultimately decided that they didn't fit the overall goal of my publication.



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


Gabby: A question that I have asked on every editorial staff I've been on is, "How should I weigh grammar and spelling errors in an otherwise strong piece?" I've gotten different answers every time! Like I mentioned earlier, my philosophy for orangepeel is that if there's a great sentiment in there, I'll put in the work to clean a piece up. It's my job as an editor, after all. I feel passionately about this because I don't want anyone to be discouraged from submitting their work to orangepeel if they are less confident about writing in English.


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

Friday, October 8, 2021

Six Questions for Kelaine Conochan, Editor-in-Chief, The Prompt Magazine

The Prompt Magazine publishes creative pieces (writing, video, artwork, audio, etc.) based on a prompt posted every two weeks. Learn more here.


SQF: Why did you start this magazine?


Kelaine Conochan:There are so many people like us. People who are creative and smart, with ideas but no place to put them. People who want to improve at writing, who want to share their ideas but who sometimes need a little kick to get started. 


When we started The Prompt, it was our way of pulling together a collective of creative people who were looking for both an audience AND a community of fellow writers to provide them with feedback, energy, and a sense of belonging. Your work is important. Your ideas are important. Your stories, poems, essays, and voice—they're all important.


We wanted to encourage people to create original works from a place of passion and in their own voice. That's the main thrust. 



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


KC: I'm generally looking for voice, perspective, and originality.


When a writer has a distinct and strong voice, they can animate even the most mundane things. Some writers can make drinking a cup of coffee seem like the most extraordinary, beautiful experience of a lifetime. Just putting words on a page is not memorable. I love writers who try to make them sing.


I know it's a rude, almost accusatory question, but I love to read back what I've written and ask myself "SO WHAT?" Your perspective should answer that question definitively. What are you bringing to your story or essay that is unique or important? Why are you sharing this idea? Why should a reader care? Give the readers a new perspective that only YOU can give.


Originality rings true through both voice and perspective. But seriously, I don't want to read the same thing over and over. I don't want your voice to sound like everyone else's. I don't want the same regurgitated story. Give me something new, fresh, and different. 



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


KC: When it lacks a thoughtful structure. You know when you review something and you can just tell that the person who wrote it didn't bother to read it over before sending? It's meandering and unclear. The sentences and paragraphs exist without any logical order or build. As an editor, I'm delighted to fix typos and grammatical issues or to suggest tweaks that will strengthen a piece, but no one wants to clean up someone else's mess. 



SQF: Is there a preferred length to written/audio visual works?


KC: We're pretty flexible with our lengths. Some pieces are just a few lines of prose or poetry, or a clever Incomplete and Growing List. Others are a few thousand words. But most are in our sweet spot of under 1,000 words.


For a writer's first work on The Prompt, we are generally looking for 400-700 word submissions. Once a writer has established themselves within our community, that's when we can be a little more flexible with the parameters. 



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


KC: The hardest of hard sells is people asking for link-backs, or "freelance writers" who just happen to want to talk about their great experience with a product or service. The Prompt is a bunch of creative hipsters. We want something with a soul. Maaaan, get that corporate drivel out of here!



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


KC: I wish you'd have asked why people should submit their works to The Prompt. And my answer is this. 


If you've wanted to surround yourself with creative people who can help you write with better quality and quantity, that's our whole thing. We vote on a weekly prompt to help our writers get ideas and inspiration. We have an optional weekly video meeting so that people can exchange ideas and feedback. We support and care about each other. Our goal is not just to write and publish amazing work, but to make our writers and readers feel connected to The Prompt. We have some incredible people who write for The Prompt... why not you?


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


Friday, October 1, 2021

Six Questions for Deryck N. Robertson, Editor-in-Chief, Paddler Press

“We are looking for poems that are not overly long, and would also enjoy and encourage micro-poetry. If you’re not sure, send it along anyway.” Painting, sketches, mixed media, and photography are also accepted. Issues are themed. Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: Why did you start this magazine?


Deryck Robertson: I started this magazine because I had this idea of honouring Tom Thomson, the famed Canadian painter and paddler, by publishing a collection of works inspired by and dedicated to him on the anniversary of his mysterious death, July 8.  A one-off publication would have worked, but I felt led to keep it going.  We aim to publish (in print) quarterly, with our next publication due out in early October.  As a teacher, I've read a lot of student work and there have been some poems that stop me in my tracks.  I want to be able to share that kind of work with the world. Having a print copy available is also important to me.  Holding words in my hand and being able to share with others is something I love.



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


DR: One, I love poems that tell stories, whether directly or implied, because stories connect us. No matter where we're from, we share many of the same experiences and in that we find commonalities. Two, I like shorter poems.  Maybe it's because I can have a short attention span at times.  Sometimes, poems can simply be too long and then, for me, the story can gets lost.  Again, it depends.  If the story writing is engaging, length isn't an issue.  Three, I look for beauty.  That is hard to quantify, because it can mean different things.  It could be a line, or an image that just hits me the right way that makes me stop and re-read.  I'm also a fan of humour.



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


DR: Anything that would require a content or trigger warning.  Two would be overly flowery writing.  Three would be anything that would be considered hateful.  Not following instructions (e.g., not sending the bio when you submit, not sending social media handles) just makes life difficult.  If I like the piece, but have to send emails requesting information that I should already have makes me cranky and less likely to work with the author.  The odd spelling mistake is no biggie for me.  I've been guilty of that myself.



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


DR: I want to get that yeah! moment that really draws me in.  Set the scene and make me want to keep reading. I want to make a connection right away.



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


DR: Definitely those.  Violence is another.  As a teacher of Grade 7 students, I would also include f-bombs and other potentially offensive language meant to be edgy.



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


DR: Do you accept work by unpublished writers?


Definitely.  We are thrilled to be able to publish someone for the first time and have done so in our first publication, Canoe Lake Memories and will be in our next volume, Roots & Wings.  We encourage writers to put themselves out there and share their work with the world by submitting to us.  I hope that even if we can't use a piece, our feedback and encouragement to keep going is received positively and the offer to submit again is accepted.


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

Friday, September 24, 2021

Six Questions for Nathaniel Mellor, Editor, Pigeon Review

Pigeon Review publishes short fiction to 3,000 words, flash fiction to 1,000 words, micro-fiction to 300 words, and art. “Sometimes the moments that impact us the most are the quiet ones. The ones we didn't realize were happening and didn't know had ended. These are the stories we want.“ Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: How did you become involved with this magazine?


Nathaniel Mellor: I’m one of the co-creators, actually! My partner and I had the idea for a literary and art magazine years ago, but didn’t think we had the experience or knowledge to start one. Now that we’ve worked in galleries, been published, and had shows, we figured we could give it the proper time, respect, and knowledge it deserves. 



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


NM: (I’m writing this as if the question means “Top three things you look for in an accepted submission. If you mean in the submission itself, then I look for how long the story is, if the writer sent a bio, and if the story is written in English.) The unexpected. I personally like things in stories that are unexpected, whether it’s a theme, plot, ending, character, or some anachronistic device the writer has used. I don’t love twist endings, but when they’re done well, I’m happy to see it.


I also look for word usage. I enjoy stories that have a slightly peculiar word choice. I find that it slows me down in a good way, allowing me to better enjoy the story. We often see this with writers who don’t speak/read English as a first language.


The last thing I look at is the way the narrative is created. Is there any/too much implausibility in the story? Is it honest? Do the characters act in a consistent way? Is the story itself displaying a negative message? Does it promote violence/bigotry/supremacy even by accident (taking satire into account).



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


NM: I try to place the story over the quality of writing, mainly because we receive a number of stories from people who don’t speak or write English natively. It can be extremely difficult learning to speak a new language, but learning the complexities of the written language can often be harder, in my experience.


That being said, I won’t accept a story (even if the story itself is amazing), if the writing quality isn’t close to the quality already published.


I also won’t publish stories with outright misogyny (especially if the writer doesn’t seem to realize they’re being a misogynist), racism, intense trauma (sexual or physical), that doesn’t serve a purpose and is only there for shock value or to create a “powerful” backstory. 



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


NM: How quickly the story grabs my attention, how quickly the writer is able to build a world, and how outright understandable the opening paragraph is. If it’s a paragraph I have to go back and read two or three times, it makes me wary of the clarity of the rest of the story.



SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors (living or dead), who would they be and why?


NM: 

1st. Marcus Aurelias. (Although not a writer and only wrote one book which was published years after his death, I like to think he’d be a writer if born in more recent times.)

2nd. Simone Weil. 

3rd. Truman Capote.



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


NM: Do you enjoy what you’re doing?


A: When we began this journal, I wanted to grow it into something massive, and this was only four short months ago. My time involvement went from a few hours a month to more than sixty hours this past month. And as with nearly all literary journals, it doesn’t pay.


So this idea of enjoyment is something I think about often. Why do something if we don’t enjoy it? We go to a job we don’t enjoy because we need the money it offers. Sometimes we spend time with our family even if they drive us up a wall, sapping our enjoyment away.


Running a literary magazine has its ups and downs. Website work is always a headache. Remembering to tweet, usually at some point in the middle of the night, is a pain. And sending rejections is honestly heart-breaking because I’ve been on the other side many, many times, and I want to say “yes” to everyone.


At the end of the day, I find I do enjoy it. I enjoy creating this space for people to show their art and their stories. I enjoy being able to help people’s careers, whether they’re full-fledged writers or they’re just beginning. And I think I do it because in some small way I hope I’m making the world a better place, even if only slightly, by helping beautiful work see the light. And in a world like today’s, just a little more beauty is never a bad thing. 


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

Friday, September 17, 2021

Six Questions for LaShawn Wanak, Editor, GigaNotoSaurus

GigaNotoSaurus publishes one longish (5,000 to 25,000 words) fantasy or science fiction story monthly. “Send us that story you really believe in–the one, maybe, that quickly ran out of places to submit it to because it’s so long.” Read the completed guidelines here.


SQF: Why did you start this magazine?


LaShawn Wanak: Ann Leckie originally started the magazine and handles the more business side of the magazine. I took over as submission editor in 2019. What drew me to the editing position was that it only publishes one story per month, which worked well with my workload with the dayjob and my own writing. 



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


LW: Usually it's just two things that I look for in a submission.


  1. Does it get my attention? I love stories that surprise me and pull me in. It's hard for me to nail down what exactly that means, but stories that subvert the status quo or usual tropes. But then again, even a story that leans on a trope can still catch my attention if it's written well. If a story makes me think, or makes me see things in a new way, or if it makes me happy

  2. Does it fit Giganotosaurus's style? I would say that our style leans more towards the literary that have fun with dialogue and wordplay, or that contains lush worldbuilding. 



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


LW: Make sure the submission has been spell-checked and edited well. I don't mind a few misspellings here and there, but any story that has numerous spelling and grammatical errors will pull me out of the reading experience. I'm not a fan of violence or harm being done for shock value, or women, people of color, or queer characters who are very passive within the story. 



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


LW: I tend to read broadly, so I like a large number of styles. I like turns of phrases, or situations that make me go, "Oo, this is a strange situation. Let's see how far it will go." My rule of thumb is that if a story doesn't pull me in in the first five pages, then its chances of capturing me at all goes down significantly. If you're wondering what has gotten my attention in the past, reading through our previous issues will give you an idea.



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


LW: I'm not huge into blood and gore for the sake of it.  Also, stories that have violence against women and/or children, or the topic of slavery are a very, very hard sell for me, unless they're done really really well. 



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


LW: Let's go the opposite of your previous question. What would catch my interest then?


I also love stories that use genre to delve into conversations about identity, race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, religion, etc. 

The past few issues had stories that meditated on the nature of grief, mainly because I was going through a hard time and those stories spoke to me. But we've also published stories that are downright goofy.


So basically, if I love a story, I publish it, and I hope that other people will benefit from reading that story as well.


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