Friday, March 24, 2017

Six Questions for Diane D. Gillette and A. A. Malina, Editors, Cat on a Leash Review

Cat on a Leash Review publishes flash fiction under 1,000 words and short fiction of 1,000 to 2,500 words. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Diane Gillette: It was something I wanted to do for a very long time, but it was a daunting task to start on my own. When A. A. Malina and I started our writing partnership I brought up that it was a dream of mine. From there, we started sharing ideas and realized we had a similar vision of what this literary magazine could be.

A. A.: Starting a literary magazine wasn't even on my radar until I met Diane, but when she mentioned she wanted to, I was immediately intrigued. Our shared passion for fiction made this a perfect partnership.


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

D: We look for a lasting impression from the stories that we accept. It needs to be something that we keep thinking about long after we finish reading it.

A: We’re also looking for fresh approaches to storytelling. It can be a story we’ve heard before, but told in a way that surprises us.

D: We also really appreciate crisp, well-revised manuscripts.

A: Yeah, it’s common for writers to get eager and send a story out before it’s undergone enough revisions. We’ve turned away several stories that had a lot of potential, but just weren’t ready to be published yet. We often encourage writers to send us revisions of stories that we liked, though.


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

D: Stories that seem too familiar, such as the classic love story, hard-boiled detective story, coming of age story, etc.

A: We also turn away anything that has blatant misogyny, racism, homophobia, etc., if it doesn’t serve a purpose in the story. For instance, it’s fine if it’s used to develop a character, but not if it’s just there for shock value or to demonstrate the author’s own bigotry.


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

D: We don’t usually have the time to offer comments, unfortunately, but occasionally when we feel a story has a lot of potential and we want the author to know there were aspects of the story we enjoyed, we will give a personalized rejection with encouragement to re-submit.


SQF: You recently published your first issue. What advice would offer someone considering starting their own publication?

D:  I wouldn’t recommend trying to do this on your own.  We found out early on that it is a lot of work, but fortunately we had each other to lean on and pick up the slack when one us got to busy with the rest of our life.  Having a partner you can count on makes this much more manageable.

A: It’s also a good idea to start during a vacation or break, so that you have plenty of time to work on it without distraction.

D: Oh, and set realistic deadlines.  Give yourself enough time to actually get plenty of submissions and choose qualities ones.  And don’t forget to use social media to your advantage!


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

A: Well one aspect we didn’t cover was how we came up with the name of the literary magazine. We thought of it one day after going to a summer fest together. I was taking advantage of Diane’s air conditioning and endless supply of La Croix, talking about how I had tried to walk my cat, Nomar, on a leash the other day.

D: Then I suggested we call our lit mag Cat on a Leash Review.

A: I’d had the exact same thought at that moment, so it was immediately settled. Nomar became something of our mascot after that, particularly since he’s so photogenic.

D: Not that we’re crazy cat ladies or anything.

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




Friday, March 17, 2017

Six Questions for David Jensen, Senior Editor, Chantwood Magazine

Chantwood Magazine publishes fiction from 100 to 7,500 words, poetry of 1 to 2 pages, and Artwork. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

David Jensen: Chantwood Magazine was founded for two reasons. As undergraduate students, submitting to literary magazines always felt intimidating because it seemed like everything within them was written by MFA-holding writers with healthy resumes. It almost seemed like you couldn’t get published unless you already had several published works to your name.

Because of this, we wanted Chantwood to be a magazine that anyone could be published in. We take every submission blind; a submission doesn’t receive any special treatment. Each piece has to speak for itself. We’ve published authors with numerous credits to their name, and we’ve published authors who haven’t been published before.

As for the second reason, we think that the world could always use more creative writing. If we can inspire people to write or help authors share their work, then we must be doing something right.


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

DJ: For me, the biggest thing I need from a submission is some sort of emotional connection. And by that, I don’t mean beautiful, flowing language – that can add to a piece if it’s done well, but it doesn’t make the piece. Whether it’s through comedy, passion, or pain, I want a piece that makes me care about the story and the people involved.

Another thing that I look for is whether or not the authors have done their homework, meaning they checked their grammar and read our submissions guidelines. It’s pretty obvious when someone doesn’t bother to do it, and it’s majorly off-putting.

Third and finally, I look to be entertained. Simple enough, yes, but it really does matter. A story could be emotional as any, but if it’s a boring read, then it’s unlikely to make the cut. If a story can hook me and make me feel like it was worth the read, then it’s one I’ll recommend publishing.


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

DJ: Poor grammar is the bane of my existence. I understand having the occasional error, especially in a longer fiction piece. However, if I can’t get through the first page without finding a dozen run-on sentences and misspelled words in an age where AutoCorrect exists, I won’t want to read the rest of it. If the author doesn’t care enough about their work to make sure it’s spelled right, then why should I care?


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

DJ: It’s rare for us to provide comments on specific pieces, but it does happen on occasion, usually if the submitter specifically asks for a response of some sort. We don’t take these requests into account until after we’ve read their work in order to maintain blind submissions as best as possible.


SQF: What advice would you offer to a new writer hoping to be published in Chantwood Magazine?

DJ: First, I would say to not just submit to us; submit to as many places as you can find. You never know who will love or hate your work. Second, read the submission guidelines!!! I cannot stress enough how important this is. Make sure that our magazine is a good fit for your writing. Finally, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get in. Being a writer myself as well as an editor, I know how frustrating it is to get rejected. Keep submitting and putting your work out into the world; you will eventually find your voice, and no one can silence you.


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

DJ: Well, you may have wondered about the origin of our magazine’s name. It’s based off a line from Beowulf which mentions a chant-wood being used. This is what’s called a “kenning,” which is a compound phrase with a metaphorical meaning—the chant-wood is a harp, a simple piece of wood used to produce a beautiful sound.

Having this as our magazine’s name has a dual meaning. Not only do we hope to publish beautiful stories in the simple form of words on paper, but we also hope that those stories push our readers to look for the deeper meanings. After all, in this world, nothing is ever as it seems…

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


Friday, March 10, 2017

Six Questions for Euan, Founder/Editor, Structo Magazine

Structo publishes fiction up to 3,000 words and poetry in all genres, alongside essays and interviews with authors and others. Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Euan: I worked on a film journal throughout my time at university and after graduation I realised that I missed the experience of working on a magazine. Literature had always been very important to me, and starting a literary magazine seemed like the perfect way to merge those two interests. Nine years and 17 issues of Structo later, I'm pretty sure I was right.


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

Euan: The first and most important thing is that it compels us to continue reading. This can be accomplished in many ways—a well-drawn character, sparky dialogue, an intriguing question or statement dropped in the first few paragraphs—but every piece we publish has something of the sort. On the poetry front, verse should have a flow, unless halting text is necessary to communicate meaning. Finally, an interesting or unusual viewpoint is always welcome, be it that of the writer themselves or of the narrative or poetic voice.


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

Euan: Overly elaborate prose or verse. Thesaurus writing gets very old, very quickly. It's also very hard to keep an open mind in the face of more than a couple of spelling mistakes on the first page.


SQF: What magazines/zines do you read on a “regular” basis?

Euan: On the literary magazine front: Popshot, Firewords Quarterly, The New Yorker and Barrelhouse. Also a shout-out to our fellow Nederlanders Versal, who will be coming back into print later this year after a few years away from publishing.


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

Euan: That it's relatively easy to write a competent story, and that competent, soulless stories are the worst.


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

Euan: The first question, on why I started the magazine, is an interesting one, but I think even more interesting would be: why do you continue to publish the magazine? Working for a literary magazine on a voluntary basis can be rather thankless at times, as after the excitement of the first few issues comes the realisation that most of an editor's job is administration. It takes something more to keep the issues coming, and for me it's working with other people, both the writers I interact with day-by-day and the team that has grown up around Structo and Structo Press.

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

Friday, March 3, 2017

Six Questions for Jo Simmonds, Editor, The Fiction Pool

The Fiction Pool publishes flash fiction to 1,000 words, short stories to 2,500 words, and poetry to one page. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Jo Simmonds: I worked as a volunteer reader for PANK magazine a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I wanted to see if I could start a quirky rebellious online magazine which had a mainstream atmosphere.

As a writer seeking publication in literary journals I also wanted to find out what it is like from the other side of the desk as an editor. There's no substitute for first hand experience in my view and I learnt a great deal from the first moment I began publishing.


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

JS:

  • A great first sentence with a good hook.

  • Different in some way to stand out next to other journals online.

  • Well written and edited. If it's ready to go it will save me time.

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

JS:

  • A bad covering email - my name has been misspelt or no biography has been included. Only in truly exceptional circumstances will I look past that.

  • Any of my guidelines being flouted.

  • Poorly written or edited stories or poetry.

  • People not even looking at one story on the site to research before submitting. I can tell!

  • If I have just published a flash featuring a lonely girl in a bad relationship I may not want to publish another one for a while. 

  • If you don't do social media I won't reject on this basis but it may be a deal breaker if I'm not sure about your submission. 

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

JS: No. I send a regulation email which is the same in all cases bar those submissions I consider to be exceptional but misplaced.


SQF: What magazines/zines do you read on a “regular” basis?

JS: Mslexia, The Lonely Crowd, Structo, PANK magazine, and The Incubator amongst others. Although I work part-time and I'm volunteer editor on this magazine so my reading time has been reduced.


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

JS: I wish you had asked me what advice I would give to writers. I wish I had said be determined and never give up if you are getting the slightest hint of success. And most of all, I wish I could take my own advice!

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


Friday, February 24, 2017

Six Questions for Elizabeth O. Smith, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief, Helios Quarterly Magazine

Helios Quarterly Magazine publishes micro fiction of exactly 100 words (Drabble), flash fiction of 500-1,000 words, short stories of 1,001-1,500 words, serial stories up to 10,000 words, poetry, nonfiction, reviews, and artworks/photography in the genres of science fiction, horror and fantasy. Issues are themed. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Elizabeth Smith: To contribute to the tradition of great speculative fiction magazines and uplift marginalized voices.


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

ES: Brevity, bite, and backstory.


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

ES: Ignoring the word count limitations and/or theme.


SQF: If you could have dinner with three authors, who would the be?

ES: Edgar Allen Poe, Toni Morrison, and Ray Bradbury


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

ES: Writers often write to impress the editor(s) or follow a theme strictly in hopes of having a higher chance of being published.


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

ES: Why submit to literary magazines in the first place? I believe short fiction makes you a better writer. And, for the magazines that offer feedback, free critique to apply on a broader scale.

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