Friday, August 26, 2016

Six Questions for Richa Gupta, Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Moledro

Moledro publishes poetry, fiction (to 1500 words), and art/photography created by high school and college students from around the world. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Richa Gupta: The reason I’ve come so far as a young writer is because of the acceptances I’ve received from other literary magazines. And I really want to give that opportunity to deserving young poets across the globe—because I know the power of a single acceptance: it can cement your confidence in yourself, and really increase your literary audience.


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

RG: Most important aspect of a submission: the message. What is the poem/story trying to convey? Why read it? We look for the touching, the emotional, the frightening. It should be memorable, and not an adaptation of another literary piece. And that’s another facet: the voice. We want to hear the writer’s voice shine through; it can be tempting to emulate another poet, but one’s true voice may be lost in the process. It’s always important to use an authentic persona, since that can really enhance the message and tone of a poem. And lastly, the image. Can your words paint a picture in our mind? A word of advice: think of your words as a paintbrush, and the mind of your readers as the canvas.


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

RG: Work that hasn’t been proofread. Grammatical and syntactical problems in an otherwise interesting piece can be very off-putting, not to mention irritating. It’s all right if you only submit a few lines of poetry—for we’d definitely prefer a short piece that has been proofread, to pages and pages of dangling modifiers and other grammatical issues.


SQF: How do you select works to appear in Moledro?

RG: Based on the answers in question two: the message, the voice, and the image. We want authentic, passionate voices that tell us something new.  None of our issues are themed, thereby giving submitters the opportunity to truly let their juices flow. The received poems/stories are distributed to the editors; the editors are given a final date to respond to the submission with an accept or reject. Based on the reasons given by each one, in addition to the general consensus, the poem is either accepted or rejected. In the rare occasion that the editors are completely split over a submission, I personally consult with the managing editor, and the two of us make a final decision.


SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?
  • (late) Ayn Rand: her philosophy of Objectivism intrigues me, and I’d definitely want to learn more about it.
  • (late) Isaac Asimov: his science fiction stories, which span over a vast range of topics, are terrific! I’d love to know where he got his inspiration from.
  • (cliché as this sounds) J. K. Rowling: Harry Potter is my childhood book… and, well, I’d just like to thank her for kindling my love of reading. 
SQF: What one question on this topic do you wish I'd asked that I didn't? And how would you answer it?

RG: I would go with: what are your future plans for Moledro?

Well, Moledro aims to publish every three months, and our second issue will be released in mid-June, 2016. Quite a few people have asked me about how long I’ll carry the magazine. And my answer is always the same: for as long as we can, for as long as we keep receiving fresh, exciting new submissions from budding writers.

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

Friday, August 19, 2016

Six Questions for A. A. Robinson, Editor, Spirit’s Tincture

Spirit’s Tincture publishes poetry, micro fiction and flash fiction in the speculative fiction genre, with a particular interest in classic fantasy. All submissions should include some element of fantasy. myth, fairy tale, or folklore. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

A. A. Robinson: Spirit's was started to provide a specific sort of content to our readers and to open another path to publication for our contributing writers.

There are relatively few paying markets for very short fiction.  Flash fiction is gaining popularity but micro fiction is still a hard sale. When your extra short fiction is also genre specific the places willing to consider it are even more limited. Fantasy and Science Fiction, in particular, are known for epic sagas but Spirit's Tincture was created to give readers the themes they love in the most concise form possible.

Lit mags have a long tradition of being a place where new and independent writers could find an audience; Increasingly  we see long standing markets moving away from unagented submissions. There is nothing inherently wrong with that but if unrepresented and fledgling authors are to continue having a voice new publications will have to step up and give them one.


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

AAR: The most important thing we look for is plot. It is difficult to tell a complete story in a limited number of words and it is tempting for writers to send us novel excerpts or short pieces that are all description or dialogue that goes nowhere. Something of significance needs to happen.

The second thing we do is judge whether or not the submission is thematically appropriate for our publication. Our submissions guidelines state that all work submitted should have some element of fantasy, fairy tale, myth, or folklore. Slipstream and genre crossing is welcome, but something that is strictly horror or strictly science fiction will be rejected.

The third thing we look for is innovation. Does the submission offer something other than the usual genre specific cliches? If it does really on things we see far too much of (vampires, werewolves, zombies) does it feature them in a new and unexpected way?


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

AAR: Racial prejudice, misogyny, and homophobia. This is the beautiful woman whose only purpose is to be a beautiful companion (and who may or may not even have a name). This is the villain whose dark skin tone are described as hideous or an indicator of evil. This is when male characters who deviate from hyper-masculinity are denigrated with homophobic slurs.

We have no issue with writers addressing these serious topics but when they are glorified in the text, or treated as admirable, they will result in an automatic rejection.

Submissions that, no matter how well written, indicate that the author has not read our submissions guidelines. Even the best literary realism would not be a good fit for our publication.


SQF: Will you publish a story previously published on an author’s website/blog?

AAR: Yes but we would consider it a reprint and not as previously unpublished.


SQF: Who are some of your favorite fantasy authors?

AAR: Personal favorites include Nnedi Okorafor, Yoon Ha Lee, Cat Rambo, and Tanith Lee. Tolkien, Rowling, Gaiman and the like go without saying.


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

AAR: What is so special about very short fiction?

A few things come to mind. You need only look to the popularity of vine videos and memes to see that many people are requiring their entertainment to be brief and easily accessible. Short forms such as micro fiction, drabbles, and twitter fiction are ways  to satisfy that desire while staying  attached to the written word. Popular entertainment is increasingly visual. Novels are often treated as screenplays yet to be converted. This disregards the fact that certain stories are best told, or can only be told, in text. Short fiction allows writers to experiment with a broad variety of ideas without the commitment of a longer form. This translates to more innovation, more risk taking, and ultimately more varied content for our readers. Short fiction is a win-win scenario for writers and readers. Writers can easily test ideas, experiment, and get feedback. Readers benefit from exciting new content that can fit easily into their schedule.

Ultimately, Spirit's Tincture promotes very short fiction because we would like to see people sharing short stories as readily as they would viral videos.

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

Friday, August 12, 2016

Six Questions for Tomovi Keoni, Founder/Editor-in-Chief, Heart & Mind Zine

Heart & Mind Zine publishes art from any genre/topic in the form of writing, images, audio, and video. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Tomovi Keoni: I started Heart & Mind Zine (HMZ), with the thought that publishers can better serve artists, and had one goal in mind:

To create a publication which is all inclusive, and transparent as possible.

It’s no secret that artists come in all forms, and express themselves in a multitude of ways, yet if you check through the hundreds of publisher listings you’ll find, again and again, restrictive guidelines which limit artists to a certain theme, genre, or media.  Limiting things further, the grand majority of publications accept written and image submissions only.  I thought to myself, “Isn’t this 2015!? Can’t we easily host media via website? Why is no one serving the bands, singers, dancers, street performers, directors, slam poets, rappers, etc.?” I searched for such a publisher, only to find that no such multi-media artistic publisher existed.  Musical artists are quarantined to music only sites such as BandCamp, SoundCloud, and ReverbNation which seek to profit from their work more than promote them.  Performers, and short film makers are stuck trying to promote work themselves which has been published on Youtube, Vine, or Vimeo. Writers have to search through dozens of publisher listings, reading samples and paying fees along the way, just to find a home for their piece. So I decided, if no one else wants to remedy these glaring problems, I will.

After that I got to work on crafting Heart & Mind Zine, creating the structure and guidelines in such a way that we would be able to host as much art as possible, and support artists rather than exploit them. Six months of reading, researching, and tinkering later I had the outline for HMZ, and began recruiting judges.  Another four months of speaking with the judges, and making final adjustments, we began accepting submissions for our first issue. I rely heavily on judges for their input and suggestions, HMZ is the product of a like-minded group of art enthusiasts (all of which are artists themselves), who want to help great art and artists share their work(s).


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

TK: Well, it would be difficult to narrow it down to just three things I look for, in fact, if you check our “Judging Process” page on the website, you’ll see an example of the scoring sheet we use when analyzing works of fiction. Those being originality, execution, flow, grammar, diction, and entertainment value. Each of these aspects are important to consider when reviewing fiction, and taking time to do so allows the judges to fully experience each piece they review.
Now, I realize I haven’t answered the question yet, so at the sake of belittling the importance of a multi-faceted review, here goes:

First and foremost, when I experience a piece of art, it must make me FEEL something, anything! Anger, disgust, love, entrancement, happiness, confusion, humor, the list goes on.  The difference between a piece of art and just another story, picture, or video is whether or not it makes you feel something. Art is meant to convey the artist’s intended emotion or idea, to everyone who examines their work. In this way, they can share their deepest thought and feelings with others.  So, if I examine any piece of art and am left with the same blank slate I approached it with, then the artist has failed to convey their message and it is not a good work of art.  There is a quote floating around that simplifies this thought “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable”- Cesar A. Cruz.

The second thing I look for, is the artists’ intent which should be clear from examining the piece alone; that is, without a little white card to tell me its intent. This is where the skilled artists and the amateurs are really separated.  It is hard to convey intent, but as I mentioned in my first point, the transfer of emotion and thought is the very thing that makes something art. This applies to written pieces too, if an author meant to tell a sad story but it comes off as humorous or melodramatic instead, they need to make some changes. Don’t get me wrong, little white cards in an art gallery usually serve to enrich the experience, but any onlooker should get the gist of the artist’s intent within a few minutes with their work.

Third, I need to hear the artist’s voice coming through their work. Sometimes I read a story and can see the outline of a writer’s workshop in it; while it’s structurally sound it lacks originality and passion. Artists, need to find their voice amid the standards and expectations of whatever media they’ve chosen.  This is perhaps the most difficult aspect for an aspiring artist, or author, to contend with (though it comes naturally to some). At the heart of things, artists just want to express themselves but now they have to do it in single space, Calibri font, in under 3000 words, with all the rules of grammar in mind. But if they can’t do this, so often the person examining the piece can’t pick up on their voice at all, and the intent of the piece is lost in the artistic ether.


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

TK: More than anything, sloppiness turns me off of a submission.  There a two reasons for this, first, as an editor, I don’t want to pick through a piece adding commas and changing verbiage. It takes a long time, and I always feel like I’m violating an author’s creation. I wouldn’t go to an art show start adding lines and color to paintings, yet so often writers submit pieces which are obviously rough drafts, and are asking me to do the equivalent.  Second, I am an editor in the sense that I want to help make a piece look its very best before publishing it, I am not interested in re-writing whole sentences so a story is readable.


SQF: Will Heart & Mind Zine publish a work published on a personal blog?

TK: Yes! Heart & Mind Zine is here to support great pieces of art and their artists, not limit them.  Artists retain the complete rights to their works, and we do not request first publication rights.  It doesn’t matter to me if you submit a story which already has a million hits on your blog, if you think HMZ is a good place to further promote it, then we’ll review it.


SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would they be and why?

TK: I would love to sit down with Brian K. Vaughn of Image Comics and discuss his current series titled Saga. His writing in this series is some of the best I’ve ever read, he maintains around a dozen main characters, in a trans-galactic story in which everything has depth, and manages to seem realistic and magical at the same time.  Every time I turn a page I’m not sure what I’ll read next, but then it makes perfect sense when I do. Of course I’d love to talk with Fiona Staples, who is the artist for this comic series too.

My next choice would be Stephen King (a unique choice, I know). I’m not a big fan of horror writing, so I’ve read only a few chapters of his gruesome novels.  However, my favorite series of all time is his seven book series The Dark Tower, which is a sci-fi/western with very little horror elements.  He started the first book of this series when he was in college in the 1970’s and didn’t finish the last book until the 2000’s.  In fact, many of the books he wrote in that time frame have some interaction in his The Dark Tower series.  It is truly a masterpiece of writing.  I mean, I have enough trouble keeping the stories I write consistent over the course of months, much less decades.

Finally, I’d like to sit down with any author of a book on mythology.  I love the old stories of Gods and men and monsters, and so many of them were never written down until someone dedicated themselves to research oral traditions and write them down.  When I think about how long humanity has been telling stories, compared to the amount of time we’ve been writing them down, it makes my head reel.  How many great stories were never written down and are lost forever? The oldest writings we have are around 5,000 years old, written by the Sumerians, but it is thought that humanity itself is 1.8 million years old. Not even 1% of human history is recorded anywhere! A chance to speak with an author who has spent decades dredging up a single story from the past would be fantastic.  How intimately must they tell that tale, and how passionate must they be?


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

TK: I wish you’d asked me: “What do you look for in a publication?”

Whether I’m reading, or looking for a place to submit my own writing, I am choosy when it comes to spending my time with a publication.  I look for sites and zines which do not require large fees (in the writing world anything over $20 is exorbitant), while I understand a fee is a good tool to limit submissions to “serious writers only,” it also keeps out serious writers who can’t afford them.
 
Also, I rarely read or submit to themed publications.  Again, I understand the purpose is to appeal to a specific reader audience, but personally, I don’t want to buy a zine or go to a site, and read the same type of story page after page.  As a writer, themed publications often ask you to read their samples and then, if you don’t submit something that sounds just like their samples, you have no chance of getting published.  It limits creativity, and the last thing a writer wants to hear is “It’s good, but, make it more like this one because that’s what I like.” Don’t get me wrong, constructive criticism is a great way to improve writing, but when the only criticism is of personal interest, then the piece of writing is only being criticized subjectively and not objectively.

Finally, I look for publications which support their artists rather than exploit them.  If there are a lot of ads, or more information about the publishing team, and their endeavors, than the artists’, then I avoid engaging with them.  For publishers, marketing is hard, but they shouldn’t succumb to the temptation to market their editorial over their artists.

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


Friday, August 5, 2016

Six Questions for Andrea Walker, Jeff Santosuosso, Ryn Holmes, Editors, Panoply, A Literary Zine

Panoply publishes flash fiction and flash non-fiction to 500 words, and poetry. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Panoply: We felt a need to bring a wide range of voices and talents to the reading public, to focus on the writing, not the writer. We’ve been fortunate and are proud to have published writers in their debut to those who are highly accomplished and highly acclaimed. But we read 100% blind so that the writing takes center stage. Additionally, here in northwest Florida, there is a biennial publication which focuses its content on a local audience. We desired to bring the written form to and from a much wider audience.


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

Panoply: Creativity, mastery of craft, insight/shining a light on the human condition and the natural world.


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

Panoply:

  • Ordinary/cliché – show us something we haven’t seen.
  • Poor use of mechanics – poetry, and to a lesser degree, short prose, can be a revelation. That said, adhering to some constraints can illuminate!
  • Failure to follow guidelines. – this happens far too often and bogs us down. As editors, we’re not alone in this.

SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

Panoply: Generally, no, but we always encourage the submitter to submit again! Sometimes, it truly is just a matter of taste.


SQF: Based on your experience as an editor, what have you learned about writing?

Panoply: We’ve learned the value of careful editing, that it’s not only ok to take risks but incumbent on the writer to share his/her unique vision.


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

QUESTION: Do you orient Panoply to anything specific – in form, style, subject matter, voice, etc?

ANSWER: No, we deliberately chose a wide array, hence the name Panoply. Aside from gratuitous violence, religious dogma, and promotion of a specific political agenda, Panoply has no constraints on thematic or style focus. Far-ranging points of view are welcome. We find a place for all ages, genders, and cultural voices. We take pride in welcoming writers from all ages, experience levels, geographies, and most especially, voices. It’s a big planet. We like to show as much of its beauty as we find.


OTHER INFORMATION

We have a few editorial quirks. We read 100% blind, by choice. We publish no more than one piece per contributor, per issue. (In a few cases, we’ve asked a contributor to “reserve” a second piece for publication in an upcoming issue.) So far, we’ve informed all submitters of the status of their work after the Call for Submissions has closed.  That can attenuate the process for those who submit early. We realize that since we accept simultaneous submissions, this policy and timetable leaves us vulnerable. We’ve had some lovely work accepted by other publications before we could notify the submitter of our intention to publish the piece. Well, we’re pleased when for our submitters’ good news. Fortunately, we receive so much lovely work that losing a few each issue still gives us plenty of great work to showcase.

We’re listed in Duotrope and in Poets & Writers magazine. We plan to nominate for the Pushcart Prize at the end of 2016.

Thank you, Andrea, Jeff and Ryn. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Six Questions for Georgia Knapp, Michael McClelland and Simon Williamson, Editors, On The Veranda

On the Veranda publishes fiction and creative nonfiction of 400-2,000 words, and poetry, all specific to the Southern United States. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

OVLJ: The three editors of OVLJ have lived and traveled all over the world, but somehow we have ended up in middle Georgia. What we've found in the South is incredibly strong literary heritage, but few current outlets for genuine Southern writing. What people forget is that Southern writing has historically been quite subversive. We wanted to provide an outlet for this kind of writing - beautifully written pieces that push the envelope in terms of content, style, and even genre. This journal also gives us the chance to discover and become acquainted with emerging southern writers and, as writers ourselves, that was a pretty big incentive for starting the journal.


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

OVLJ: Well, first would be - Does it relate to the South or Southern identity in some way? The Southern connection can be subtle or tangential, but it has to be there.

Second - Is it wonderful? We mean both kinds of wonderful - is the piece absolutely amazing and does it fill us with wonder? The South is a place full of hidden magic, and we like to receive submissions that serve as a conduit to that magic (we mean magic in the "new and interesting" rather than the "sword and sorcery" sense here, though we are happy to receive fabulist and speculative pieces).

Third - While we love dramatic and tragic pieces, all three of us are always on the lookout for something that makes us laugh. Even the most serious of Southern writers have incredible senses of humor. Classic Southern writers like Flannery O'Connor and Zora Neale Hurston are incredibly funny while being searingly tragic, as are contemporary Southern writers like Jesmyn Ward and Karen Russell.


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

OVLJ: We're pretty open minded, but submissions that are littered with errors really turn us off, as do pieces that so obviously do not fit our guidelines. As a Southern journal, we understand that many explorations of Southern identity involve discussions about race, gender, and sexuality, and that characters therein often need to say and do things that are controversial in order to serve the story. We're open to considering these pieces, but we're pretty good at deciphering when a piece is just outright sexist, racist, homophobic, etc. Obviously such pieces are immediately chucked into our trash pile.


SQF: Do you provide comments when you reject a submission?

OVLJ: We do not, and that is because we respect our peers. We trust that the writers who submit to us are confident in their work. Therefore, a "no" from us is not a judgement on quality, it is a question of fit. We have a small amount of space to fill and we spend a lot of time debating what to include. We will often ask for more work from writers whose work is close but not quite a fit for us. Sometimes we will ask a writer if revisions are possible for pieces that just need a little
something added or subtracted, but we try not to be overly prescriptive.


SQF: If On the Veranda had a theme song, what would it be and why?

OVLJ: Though our tastes in literature often align, our taste in music often does not. Georgia can most often be found weeping openly to Broadway songs, while Mike is awkwardly obsessed with both country music and Celine Dion. Simon is currently in his third month of a David Bowie vigil and shows no signs of stopping. If we were to pick one song for the journal, it would probably have to be "Midnight Train to Georgia," though we would debate whether it should be the classic Gladys Knight version or the cover from 30 Rock.


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

OVLJ: The Question: What do we see in the future for On the Veranda?

The Answer: Hopefully, a collaboration with Beyoncé (she's from the South!). Beyond that, we aim to keep highlighting great Southern work. The more great material we get, the more we'll grow. In the meantime, we'd love to meet and chat with as many writers as possible. So please connect with us via email (ontheverandaliteraryjournal@gmail.com), Twitter (@ontheverandalit), and Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/On-the-Veranda-Literary-Journal-1187787301263746/). We'll also be at AWP next year in some capacity (probably drinking Mint Juleps at the bar) so come find us there!

Thank you, Georgia, Michael and Simon. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

Thank you! We're all big fans of the Six Questions blog!