Friday, October 21, 2016

Six Questions for Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley, Editors, fingers comma toes

fingers comma toes is a new online journal for children and young adults publishing essays, short stories, micro stories, poetry, photography, visual arts and music. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Lola Elvy: The idea of fingers comma toes had originally been a suggestion from family members, made almost in passing. It had been in the back of my mind for months, if not well over a year, before I actually started to consider doing it in sincerity. The idea was to create a journal for children and young adults which was edited and run by children and young adults themselves, to create a space meant for authors and artists before the point of expertise or training. It seemed like a fun project, something completely new for me, and something that would be creatively stimulating and challenging. When I approached Tristan with my proposition in September, 2015, I had in truth already been considering it for months, already thinking that it would be a fun project to work on with him, as he and I had corresponded by then for quite some time, including about our shared interest in writing and reading. Looking back on it, fingers comma toes has been indeed fun, stimulating, and, at times, challenging, and it has been made even more enjoyable by the shared experience with Tristan and me working together.

Tristan Deeley: I'm not entirely sure if I had a reason for starting fingers comma toes. Lola suggested the idea of an online children's journal, and I agreed, without thinking at all of what she meant or what it would require, relying on my faith in her to make a good decision. Thinking back on it, I like the idea of being able to make something like this, something that could someday become big and important, that any child or young adult could share their mind and writing through.

SQF: In general, when reading a story/poem/essay, what’s often the first thing that grabs your attention?

Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: Generally, when reading a piece, one of the first things to grab our attention is the formatting: the layout on the page; italics; paragraph breaks; depiction of dialogue; the use of punctuation. Another thing that stands out upon first reading is the voice, whether the piece is written in first, second, or third person narrative. Each, we find, has its own distinct feel and tone, and serves its own artistic purpose.

SQF: When reading a story/poem/essay, what turns you off?

Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: One of the things we tend to dislike is when the writing itself feels forced. We find that sometimes writing can feel unnatural; the author tries too hard to make it into something that it's not, and as a result, the reader can feel a disconnect between the author and the written text. This happens sometimes, for example, when an author tries too hard to follow one of our themes, and the story/poem/essay ends up feeling somewhat limited by what is otherwise meant to be a creative topic. Our themes are not so much instructions for what to write about, rather than overarching ideas to tie together the stories we select and publish. While we do prefer it when the author interprets and reflects the theme in his/her writing, we much prefer reading something that loosely and creatively ties to the theme, rather than something that feels limited and constricted by the theme. We encourage authors to interpret our themes and reflect them in their own work as they feel fits their writing, rather than trying to force something that doesn't need to be.

SQF: Are submissions open to authors of any age?

Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: We intentionally avoided specifying any age boundaries, because we did not want to limit ourselves or others, and, as such, there is no strict minimum or maximum age. So far, in each of our two issues, we have had a youngest submitter of four years of age, and an oldest of twenty-five years of age. While this does not go to set a strict boundary as to the age restrictions, the journal remains intended for children and young adults (though exceptions may be made).

SQF: Who are some of your favorite authors?

Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: Jack London, Sam Rasnake, and David Sedaris.

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

Lola Elvy and Tristan Deeley: We wish you'd asked us more about our preferences regarding submissions for fingers comma toes in the future.

One thing we would hope for is to receive more diversity in our submissions. At the moment, the majority of our submitters are from New Zealand; we hope in the future to be able to receive submissions from children and young adults all across the globe. We also hope to receive more submissions of a wider variety. In our second issue, published August, 2016, we had our first piece of music, as well as some interesting art pieces. We hope to widen our range of submissions even further, to include perhaps more music and an even more eclectic selection of visual art and writing, as well as other forms of creative work by children and young adults.

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

Friday, October 14, 2016

Six Questions for Sam (Samantha) Rose, Editor, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine

Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine publishes all forms of poetry and fiction to 1000 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Sam Rose: I used to frequent an online forum called The Young Writers Society (YWS), and the owner Nate created a journal, which was open to submissions from the YWS community. He used for this and as they are a print-on-demand operation, it occurred to me that I could do something similar. It seemed like it would be a lot of fun to read people's submissions, choose the best ones and put a book together. That's when I started my old literary magazine Blinking Cursor. I stopped Blinking Cursor after a few issues, as I felt I didn't have enough time for it. But months later I sat at my desk at my day job doodling, and I drew something that sort of looked like a cat peering around a wall. A peeking cat, you might say. That was when the logo for the magazine was created, and, missing the fun of creating and editing a magazine, I started up again with a new venture. Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine in July 2013.

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

SR: The first thing I look for is someone who has followed the guidelines. It sounds really boring and obvious, but I do get sent odd things, for example reams and reams of poetry - basically someone sending me an entire book of poetry, when I only want three pieces. Or stories that are over the word limit, or sent as a PDF so I can't paste them into a document. Having to chase people for their bios once they've been accepted isn't ideal either, so I can't stress how important it is to follow the guidelines. There aren't that many of them.

The second thing I look for in a submission is poetry with feeling. I like something I can relate to, something that pulls me in emotionally.

I don't look for much specific in terms of content or style, though I suppose I do favour the contemporary, and free verse. Good spelling and grammar is a must - it's fair enough that poetry challenges ordinary rules of grammar, but the wrong spelling of a word, or apostrophes missing, or typos, just makes it look like someone's hammered out their submission in five minutes and doesn't really care about it. And if they don't care about it, why should I? So I'd say take care, and proofread!

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

SR: Forced rhyming. Bad poems about cats. I do accept good cat poems and stories - I've published a few of them. But I don't know if some people assume I only want poems about cats - that's not the case at all, and a quick skim of one of the issues will prove that. I'll accept a poem or story if it's good - cats or no cats! I'd rather not receive a poorly-written poem just for the sake of it being about a cat.

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

SR: No. Sometimes if I'm absolutely blown away or want to comment on something in particular, I'll add an extra line or two in my reply when I accept something. I think if I feel that strongly it's always nice to brighten someone's day with a compliment. But generally I just send a standard reply, whether accepting or rejecting. It would be great to be able to comment on everything, but I work my day job full time and am studying for my MA Creative Writing part time - unfortunately there are only so many hours in the day!

SQF: You recently published the first issue of The Creative Truth ( How is this different from PCPM?

SR: The Creative Truth publishes non-fiction rather than poetry and fiction. My aim with TCT is more along the lines of personal essays and memoirs - I want to know about difficulties people have overcome, about pivotal points in their lives, and how they have been shaped by their experiences. I want to know their deep feelings or even secrets, and they can wrap these up in however much truth or embellishment they feel comfortable with. While PCPM is mostly poetry, TCT is all about truth and empathy. And because of that it's even more of a privilege to be able to read the work people submit. I really appreciate everything that people choose to share with me.

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

SR: Another question I'd like to answer would be "What should writers do in their cover letters when they submit to you?" And I would say that a cover letter doesn't have to be long, or list all your great achievements. I'm more bothered about the quality of your work than how many other magazines you've been published in or any prizes you've been nominated for. But please at least say hello to me! Sometimes submissions come through with no cover letter at all, and just poems sent as attachments. So please send a bio in your cover letter as requested in the guidelines, and say hello! It's not difficult to find out my name - 'Dear sirs' is fine I guess, but it doesn't take long to research and find out I'm not a sir. Saying 'Hello, my name is Hamish, please find my submissions attached and a bio below' is all it takes. Much better than saying nothing at all!

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

Friday, October 7, 2016

Six Questions for David Steffen, Editor, Diabolical Plots

Diabolical Plots publishes fiction to 3500 words in the science fiction, fantasy and horror genres. All works must have a speculative element. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

David Steffen: Diabolical Plots as a publication started back in 2008.  I hadn't yet sold my first story, and I kept hearing how writers are supposed to have some kind of online presence.  At the time I was barely on social media, and so it seemed like I was expected to set up a blog, but at the time I thought blogs were pretty much all people talking about themselves (I have, of course, realized since then that there are many blogs that aren't just me-fests, but that was my impression at the time).  I wasn't really that interested in writing about myself all the time, so I had pretty much written that idea off until I read Juliette Wade's blog, TalkToYoUniverse.  Juliette didn't just sit around and talk about herself, she went out of her way to actively engage readers and writers in conversations about fiction.  This got me very excited, and I decided that I would try to use a blog-style format to try to engage in the conversation with readers and writers.  I started by finding some well-known authors to interview, books to review, articles about writing and etc.

The goal of the magazine remains the same as it did in those early days, though the exact content has shifted over time.  It's been a long-term desire to publish original fiction on Diabolical Plots, and in 2015 that finally became financially feasible, and I've just finished picking the final lineup for year three of original fiction--now with a higher word limit and with two stories published per month.

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

1.  Does it make me care?
Part of this is that the beginning has to pique my interest as a reader.  A short story of this length can't waste space--a big expository lump is going to kill the pacing and the reader interest.  And there has to be something to keep the reader reading--humor or empathy for the character or some kind of intellectual puzzle, something to keep that reader reading.  I like a pretty wide variety of types of stories, so "make me care" is a very broad statement, but when I'm considering each story in slush I am closely examining my reaction to it.  When I read the beginning do I care if I read the rest?  When I read the middle of the story am I looking forward to the ending?  After I've finished it, is it something that I would recommend excitedly to another reader?  These are all questions I ask myself as I'm considering whether to hold the story for the final round or not.

2.  Does it stick the ending?
Of course, for me to make it to the ending, you have to pull off #1 reasonably well.  But, the ending is one of the most important things as well--it should tie everything together, give some resolution to the plot and themes explored in the short story, ideally ending with a really memorable final sentence.  Best endings are ones which aren't the obvious ending, but ones which make sense in retrospect.

3.  Does it feel like something new?
You will hear that "there are no new stories".  And to some extent that's true.  But there are still stories that "feel" newer than others--that cover new ground in some way, exploring a familiar story from an unexpected angle. I have a great love for weird fiction--I love to read a story that's going along in a seemingly straightforward fashion and then something comes along that's completely unexpected that flips the whole thing on its head.

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

DS: Overexplaining is probably the next biggest turnoff.  If you spend 500 words at the beginning of the story describing the setting, or describing the magic system, or describing the orbital mechanics of a satellite, before something actually happens, that's going to be a problem holding my interest.  If the reader needs to know these things, it works much better if it can be worked in as events rather than explanatory narration.

If the story appears to be one of my peeves is another big turnoff.  I am so tired of serial killer stories.  And stories that are entirely about a person killing their spouse or child because of annoying personal habits.  Zombie or vampire stories can be a hard sell, but humor is probably more likely to pull those off for me than straight tellings because I think humor has better chance of feeling fresh.  If a story seems like one of those things at the beginning, then my opinion is already sour as the story starts and I might start skimming extra early--I can be turned around, but it takes a lot more at that point.

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

DS: Rarely.  Last year I was much more likely to provide personal comments.  Since last submission window I acquired my first Smartphone.  This tool helped remarkably in keeping up with slushreading--I could read a couple stories as I was waiting for the dogs to use the lawn, or when waiting for takeout food to be ready, or any number of other small moments in the day.  The big downside to slushreading on the phone, though, is that I despise typing on a touchscreen.  So I'm much less likely to type out a personal comment casually, and so probably will only do so if I feel that I have a very clear idea of what kept me from holding the story that I think might be of specific use to the author.  This time most of the "held for further consideration" notices were even form letters, for the same reason (though it is important to me to give personal rejections to all stories that were held).

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

1.  Ferrett Steinmetz--he has so many good short stories, and he's the writer of the AMAZING books:  FLEX and THE FLUX, which may be my favorite books of all time (a wide open magic system that includes both bureaucromancy and videogamemancy, wonderful fully-fleshed characters, and epic scale).

2.  Brandon Sanderson--he consistently knocks it out of the park in particular with his worldbuilding and his interesting magic systems.

3.  Caroline M. Yoachim--She has an incredible number of short stories and they are ALL SO GOOD.  She is also super nice and I'm sure it would be a great time.

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

DS:  "What should I put in my cover letter?"

It might, at first glance, seem a little bit odd that I am suggesting this question.  While the Diabolical Plots submission system does ask for a cover letter, because the submissions are judged blindly and I am the only editorial staff member that means that the cover letter is read by no one until the final fate of the submission is decided and therefore it has no effect whatsoever on the choice.

So why did I suggest the question?  Because a lot of people write short story cover letters quite badly.  And, to other short story publications, the cover letter may be read before the submission and may give the staff some initial impression.

Things to think about:
1.  Watch for copy-paste errors.  It doesn't look great if you send a story to me addressed to Lynne Thomas, or which offers a story to Liminal Stories, or which has the wrong story title.
2.  Don't summarize your story.  Short stories are not submitted like novels--a short story is short enough that at the vast majority of markets a summary is not expected.  On the rare occasion that a market's guidelines ask for a summary, of course you should provide one, but otherwise leave it off.
3.  Don't list things that aren't positive--for instance, listing a personal rejection to another market (it's still a rejection after all).
4.  Don't make it too long. I've seen some cover letters that were 1000 words long.  That's way too long--it should be a few sentences to cover the basics.

The best cover letter is pretty brief, possibly even terse.  Just include the word count, story title, and maybe a few of your best sales if you feel they are impressive enough.  If you don't have any publications to list, don't sweat it--don't try to invent things to make yourself sound impressive.  We've all got to start better, and if your story's good, it's good.

(I personally am also fond of cover letters that make jokes or are silly just to break things up a bit, but I'm not sure I'd advise that in general unless you have some sense of the editor's attitude toward such things)

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

Friday, September 30, 2016

Six Questions for Sarah Page and Elizabeth Pinborough, Editors, Young Ravens Literary Review

Young Ravens Literary Review publishes fiction and nonfiction (to ten pages), visual art, and poetry of all flavors. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Sarah and Elizabeth: We started this magazine because we believe creativity is cyclical, one dream feeding into another. So to nourish our own creativity we celebrate the unique creative visions of others with the hope that all our combined fantasias will flare against each other and exalt us on our common journey through existence.  As we say in our masthead, “We are the hungry ones who cast our souls to the edge of the universe in our never-ending migration for creative nourishment. Our name is inspired by Psalm 147:9: ‘He giveth to the beast his food, and to the young ravens which cry.’”

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


Specificity: We want work that explores a central idea, main metaphors, or powerful imagery rather than a collection of random ideas and scattered images that barely interconnect.

Newness: No tired clichés. We want work that teaches us to view the world on a new and startling slant of thought.

Cohesive ending: We want works that are not too abrupt in their conclusion, but tie together all the thematic loose threads.

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

YRLR: Graphic violence, erotic material, and submissions that ignore our issue theme, which is easily viewable on our submission guidelines page.

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

YRLR: Not usually, unless we think there is potential in a revision. In that case we will include our editorial notes and invite the author to revise and resubmit.

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

YRLR: Definitely Carole King’s song “Wasn’t born to follow!” King’s steady, sure melody takes listeners on a journey into a prismatic wilderness where the singer discovers “colors that no one knows the name of,” and gains a vision of herself unencumbered by the false trappings society has told her she needs to become her truest self.

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

What would you like to see more of in your submissions?

Raven art!

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

Friday, September 23, 2016

Six Questions for Lucy Johnson McDowall, Executive Editor, The Quarterday Review

"Quarterday is international literary magazine committed to promoting and preserving prosody in classical, metrical, and other traditional forms, including long and epic poetry, welcoming submissions from both emerging and established poets. We seek to publish the best English language poetry from around the world." Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Lucy Johnson McDowall: I can only say that my desire to start Quarterday came from a deep-seated sense of emotional masochism.

To expand: Quarterday began as a project in my writer's community in response to the classical poets — the formalists — complaining there were hardly any markets for classical verse and particularly long and rare-form poetry. Most literary publications didn't have the editorial skill to judge a good formal poem from a bad one, and in a good many places, writing a sonnet or a villanelle or a pantoum was considered a kind of parlor trick by clever scholars rather than real literary art.  Additionally, songwriters — lyricists — were being universally ignored or even dismissed as poets completely with no or scant mention of their contribution to prosody.

Secondly, after a century of free verse dominating poetry, it's becoming clear that poets are not writing classical verse. Poets are also not writing epic or long poetry because publishers wanted shorter pieces.  The long narrative poem is dying as an art form the vital force of metrical poetry is becoming lost to history.  Compounding the issue is the fact that the few classical publications that exist have restricted subject matter.  The scarcity and restrictive nature of the existing markets means that the pulsing blood beat of the English language that makes real poetry — transgression, truth, beauty, love, money, power, crime, sex, politics, religion, violence, social commentary, blood, tears, rants, freedom, restraint, darkness and light — is being carefully sanitised out of the body of metrical poetry.  What remains is an editorial preference somewhat anemic, technically skillful execution of words without any of the soul that makes real poetry. What Quarterday tries to do is to take the primal emotion we associate with free verse and place it under metrical restraint: the idea is that when you place the flow of words under some pressure of form the result is a greater emotional force.

Thirdly, the QDR sprung from the idea that language, poetry, and prosody, in general, should be a rejoicing of language. We should be clever in its use. We should delight in it. There's a disturbing school of thought that lays down rules that you can't place an adjective after a noun, that you can't use Middle English or arcane diction (why ever not? It's fun, dammit, like everything else, you just have to do it well). There's also widespread, and erroneous belief that the Poet's 'voice' rather than the narrative is all. Balderdash and poppycock. Overfocus on the 'voice' leads to a kind of literary narcissism. The rules of narrative poetry are the same for narrative fiction, even if the speaker is a real person or even the Poet themselves. Quarterday is your antidote to all that — a bubbling witchy caldron of antidote. Or poison. After all, we've carried everything transgressive stanzas about a man's Pygmalion-like obsession with a sex doll, to a sonnet from a dominatrix about flogging her sexual submissive, to a tortured, violent pantoum about two men locked in an unhealthy relationship. We've also featured the sublime translations of the 19th Century German romantics, light verse about Godwin's Law, and haiku featuring burned sausages, and a ghazal about censorship.  Quarterday began, and still is, a journal which seeks to nurture a real creative environment in which poets can preserve, and experiment with, classicism.

Finally, because myth and narrative, the tale, the story, is everything in a good poem. The journey, in fact, hence the subtitle to our journal, The Poetry of Mythic Journeys. Quarterday takes a lot of modernist formalism, but we also have a sizable body of poets who revel in their gothic and Romantic sides. We showcase writers who explore the mythologies of the cultures from which they come, poets whose realism is magical and whose magical is real, poets who revel in the earth conscious, indigenous, and mythic subject matter, poets who write fantasy fibs and sci-fi sonnets.  We take the fantastic as well as the sober; we take the arcane alongside the mundane, and I think there's room for this in any healthy classical poetry scene.  For this reason, our issues are themed around the four ancient Celtic quarter days, but as those festivals typically celebrated a vast range of human experience and seasonal change, we can usually find a poem will find in one or other. For example, May (Beltane) celebrates positive themes of sex and sexuality, love and marriage — but it also carries other meanings, such as pastoral farming. So your pet or animal poems would go in the May issue.  Samhain is the best known of the Celtic festivals as the commercial holiday of Halloween, but as the Celtic and Aztec Day of the Dead, the issue also comes at a time when we remember the military and civilian dead. And so alongside ghost story poetic narratives, we also have pages dedicated to war poetry. We've grouped these seasonal themes in our submission, and the idea is that humanity is still linked to the world we live in by the natural world and the turn of the seasons.

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


1. It is the tale, not he/she who tells it. The Narrative is everything. The poem must tell a story, offer insight, reveal a character, demonstrate a turn of thought.

2. Does the form chosen follow function?  If you are writing about an obsession or futility, the villanelle or sestina might lend itself to those themes. But why would you choose the free verse to write about a bondage session with your — sorry, the narrator's — lover? Choose iambics for that, or a form which has liquid freedom but has poetic handcuffs slapped on it.  Writing about a horse? Consider the galloping meter of dactylic tetrameter. Narrating a heroic journey where the hero ends up back home? Consider the heroic sonnet crown as a fitting form for your story (and good luck, they're very tricky).

3. A perfect marriage of passion and form, emotion and restraint. This means the poet has to maintain a great deal of discipline in their writing. If you understand how this passage from Kahlil Gibran's novel The Prophet pertains to classical poetry, then we want to read your verse:
"Your reason and your passions are your rudder and sails of your seafaring soul, if either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own in reason and move in passion."

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

LJM: Ah. The sh*t list. Okay. You asked for it.

Number one on this list is the poet failing to read the submission guidance and failing the submissions form to submit.  We have a style guide and a submissions form that we really need poets to follow, all for back-end editorial reasons, and a submissions form, all set out so that you can get your poems into our house style with a few minutes extra work (which saves hours of our time when we assemble the magazine). The other reason why we ask you to use the submissions form is that unlike specialist magazines, we take every classical form in existence, and it's impossible to be experts on all of them. Asking the poet to identify the form and place notes on any variations allows us a starting point for classical assessment, and it also allows us to run the work by experts if the poetry form chosen is exceptionally rare. There are very sound editorial reasons for our submission process being the way it is, and most of them come back to "the editor is a very busy woman and has almost no money to do this, so don't make it hard for her".

Number two is the poet not reading the publication. It's not as if we're asking you to buy it. It's free, free I tell you.  In your cover letter, we ask you to tell us what you like or don't like about the publication. We want to see evidence that you've read it (that's why we ask you to tell us what you liked or didn't like about the journal in your cover letter). If you just write 'I really like your mag and read it all the time' I'm going to suspect you're just bullshitting me. If you write "I've enjoyed some of the modernist sonnets by Poet X but the arcane language in those awful gothic sonnet crowns in the Imbolc issue really wigs me out..." it's a sign you've engaged with us and are not just publication-credit chasing. A cover letter showing how you’re engaging with our publication — even one which offers constructive critique — makes us feel less alone in the universe and creates a sense of excitement about reading your work.

Number three is sending us a free verse poem and trying to pretend it's a variation on a classical form. I love free verse. I read it, occasionally I might be caught writing it, some of my favorite poets are free-versers. Folks, we’re trying to kick start a classical revival.  A five-line free verse thingy instead of a tanka, a three-word 'haiku', three paragraphs of prose poetry and calling it a 'sonnet.' No. Don't do that. If you want to send us free verse, place it in your six poem limit, and send us five classical and one free verse. We have taken exceptional free verse before, and we'll do it again. Please don't send a free verse to a classical journal under the pretense of a classical poem. Just don't.

Number four — rigid adherence to form with no real passion. Just as inattention to form will get your work rejected, so too will lack of everything that makes a poem a poem rather than a technical performance in meter or syllable counting. I want to listen to the finished symphony, not your musical scales.

Number five — do we really need to say it? Sexism, racism, trans or homophobia, and hate speech (including taking a potshot at someone’s religion or political opinion), obscenity or graphic violence with no narrative purpose.   And no, that does not mean we will not accept transgressive poetry where the narrator is a hateful, hate-filled person. That does not mean we won’t publish political or religious satire of literary merit. That does not mean we won’t publish a smutty comedy or moving piece of erotica. The question you should ask always is ‘what’s the story, here?’

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

LJM: Quarterday works a little bit differently from other literary publications. Each poem is read and discussed by an editorial board, and we don't have 'screeners.'  This means I, as the executive editor, read every poem that comes in.  After the last issue, it became clear that our poets were partners in preserving rare and ancient forms of poetry, and we were all working together to try and restore these forms to fresh English usage. Not fossils, but living breathing lizards and birds. Think of us as a hideous poetic Jurassic Park, an island of living myth and monsters. We realized that to help our poets reach levels of competence in their chosen forms we needed to start giving constructive technical feedback. We have no money. Almost no time. So where we can, we give the feedback.

At this stage, our staff is small that the degree of feedback received depends on how early the poet submits.  We accept and typeset each issue as we go.  If you get your work in early in a reading period (again, listed on the submissions page) we'll be able to provide detailed feedback where we reject, and you may be asked to revise it and resubmit it.  Usually right before the end of the reading period, we get a stack of submissions which means all we're doing is voting with scant comment — that's when we send out the form rejections. So the key is to work with us, we're only human with many calls on our time. In late January, April, July, and October, we're just too busy trying to get the journal together and edited to give the feedback you need.  However, if you submit your Halloween poetry in, say, late August or early September we’ll be in a better position to offer feedback on your work.

SQF: What advice can you offer poets wanting to be published in Quarterday for the first time?

LJM: We've published people with doctorates in poetry, we’ve published professors of creative writing and English Literature, we’ve published award-winning poets with dozens of collections to their name and hundreds of publication credits ...  and we've published people who've sent us the very first poem they've ever written. We don’t care. Your poem must be a real poem, full of emotional force and satisfy the requirements of your chosen form. You have to start submitting your classical poetry somewhere, and we think you should start with us.

Know your forms. Study masters of the form in the English language. Join a critique group.  Practice, practice practice. Have a friend scan the meter, read it aloud. If coming to us with East Asian forms, make sure that you understand what the classical requirements of Asian forms are (don't send us a 13 syllable haiku, or a tanka with four lines).

A lot of free-verse poets gravitate towards us with Asian-form poetry, which is syllabic and not constrained by meter and rhyme. Good routes in for a free-verse poet are haibun and prose poetry. Please note these forms are not flash fiction by another name. If sending us a haibun (strongly preferred) the haiku at the end must be a classical 5-7-5 haiku that satisfies all the elements of a haiku. Some also come to us with blank verse, another good route in.

Everyone's going to more well-known forms like sonnets and villanelles these days.  Quarterday likes to carry a variety of forms, so try something that will surprise us. We've recently had poets send us rare Welsh syllabic forms, which was wonderful because it means poets, knowing there is a market for them, are starting to write in them again. Find that rare form and make sure it fits what you’re writing about, or try using rarely-seen versions of a form, such as a sonnet crown. The submissions form allows you to add notes to the form you've chosen, and we do go and research the forms we've never seen before and place editorial notes. The idea is that Quarterday becomes a showcase for these forms, and encourages poets to try writing in them.

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

LJM: Do we review poetry collections, journals, and primers?

Yes, we do, and there are lots of reasons why you should send us an Advance Review Copy (ARC) of your chapbook, collection, poetry writing how-to or your literary journal. Book reviews are placed on our website and featured reviews are also published in the print edition. We review both classical and free verse poetry, and our reviewers are ranked among Amazon Top Reviewers, and are experienced critics.

We don’t (nor will we ever) charge a fee for submitting a poem to the Quarterday Review, but we do charge a reasonable reading fee for our review service (roughly a tenth of the cost a review service like Kirkus). You will receive a genuine review with both positive and critical comment, and your money goes straight to covering the costs of Quarterday, and eventually to paying our contributors — a long term goal of ours is to be a professional rate paying market and that money must come from somewhere. We will consider reducing or waiving the reading fee in the case of self-published poets who can evidence very low or no incomes.  We review randomly-purchased poetry as well, and there’s no way of telling (our reviewers work blind) which reviews are unsolicited and not paid for, or solicited with a reading fee. Everyone gets treated the same.

We never publish reviews of poetry we cannot recommend. This means that if we don’t like your poetry, you’ll get private feedback and not a public gutting. We craft our reviews so that you have quotable sections for your website and front cover of your book. For solicited reviews we give the publisher a final veto on the review before we go to press. The fee also pays for our reviewers’ time in case the publisher exercises their veto.

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