Friday, April 20, 2018

Six Questions for the Senior Editors, Literary Mama

Literary Mama publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, books reviews, poetry, and more. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: What is the focus of Literary Mama?

Literary Mama: Literary Mama believes that all mothers have a story worth sharing and honors the many faces of motherhood by publishing work that celebrates the journey as well as the job. We celebrate the physical, psychological, intellectual, and spiritual processes of becoming a mother through words and images that may be so stark it hurts.

Our tagline—writing about the many faces of motherhood—probably says it best for the social media hashtags, but we take the word “faces” seriously. We recognize that motherhood is a lifelong process–our founding editors called it a birthing process—and that, in addition to the physical act of giving birth or completing an adoption, motherhood is psychological, intellectual, and spiritual. Literary Mama offers a venue for the exploration and contemplation of all these faces.


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

LM: We remain true to the type of work our founding editors began publishing in 2003: “that of superior craft and fresh voice. Our goal is to share stories that move readers from the outside to the inside, from observation to empathy, and we love it when our readers have the same take-your-breath-away reaction to a piece that we did.”


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

LM: Our editors are all volunteers and work on Literary Mama because they believe in its mission. However, we all have incredibly busy lives outside of the magazine, and we always appreciate the submissions that follow our guidelines to the letter. Those that do not are at risk of not being read at all. Additionally, submissions that arrive with unprofessional formatting or without a brief cover letter from the author definitely begin at a disadvantage.


SQF: Do you provide comments on submissions?

LM: Every submission receives an automated response upon receipt. Department editors send letters of acceptance or rejection within 3 to 12 weeks. Some pieces that don’t fit the mission are rejected outright. If a department likes a piece but thinks it needs revision, the editors will work with the author and provide extensive feedback. All pieces must be approved by our senior editors, who also may offer some feedback.


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

LM: What a great question! We decided to ask our staff, and like Literary Mama’s tagline of “honoring the many faces of motherhood,” in giving their input, our staff showed those many faces in the wide range of song suggestions!

Regina Spektor "Fidelity": “The first verse sounds like the essence of much of what we publish--and we all know that when it comes to mothering and writing, everybody *does* say that of course it's gonna get better.”

Natalie Merchant “Kind and Generous": “I selected this song not as a representation of Literary Mama's content, but as a representation of our gratitude to every contributor who pours their passion onto the page and then entrusts the LM staff to present their voice to our readers and beyond.”

I’m throwing in anything by Patty Griffin. Her voice is the vibe I get from LM.

Other suggestions:

Helen Reddy "I Am Woman"
Nick Drake “Fly
Tori Amos “Mother
Madness “Our House
Mazzy Star “She's My Baby
Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young “Teach Your Children
The Shirelles “Mama Said
Aretha Franklin “Respect
Louis Armstrong “What a Wonderful World


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

LM: 
Question: You'll be celebrating your 15th anniversary next fall. What keeps (and has kept) Literary Mama alive and healthy among the hundreds of literary journals?

Answer: As already noted, Literary Mama is, and has always been, a volunteer organization staffed by women who are passionate about motherhood and stories. Our current team hails from nearly 30 locations throughout the world and includes communications professionals, university professors, MFA students, writers, editors, copyeditors, photographers, and moms, but what we all have in common is a commitment to creating a quality magazine. Each department is dedicated to finding and working with strong mama writers to bring quality stories to the page. We believe this commitment will keep Literary Mama thriving for many years to come.

Thanks to the editors who provided input to these responses. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Six Questions for Chloe N. Clark, Teo Mungaray, and Hannah Cohen, Editors, Cotton Xenomorph

Cotton Xenomorph publishes poetry, flash fiction under 1,000 words, and visual art.
Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Cotton Xenomorph: We all wanted to start a litmag but, for individual reasons, hadn’t gotten around to it. It’s very difficult to start one alone because there’s so much involved. When we found out we all wanted to do it, we banded together to make Cotton Xenomorph. Our mission, besides publishing great work, was to reduce harmful language and practices in the community. We felt that this mission was especially needed in the current political environment.


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

CX: Following the guidelines is an especial delight to us. Because we don’t use Submittable, we rely on proper adherence to help us organize submissions. We also like to see a brief cover letter rather than a bio and a document with no “hello.” Lastly, while we don’t have a set aesthetic, we do NOT want to see anything with language of oppression or the male gaze.


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

CX: Language of oppression. We mention that all the time, and YET we regularly receive submissions that have the potential to harm others. Editor Teo also has an extreme dislike toward ellipses, excessive slashes, all-caps titles, and overly sentimental poems. Editor Chloe has a particular dislike for gory horror or horror that relies on physical violence to do its work and also poems that use abstraction to cover up lack of depth. Editor Hannah dislikes poems that go for style over substance and also poems that rely on shock value just to make a statement.


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

CX: Poetry, Poem-A-Day, Bellevue Literary Review, Assaracus, Glass, Occulum, Moonchild, Luna Luna, Third Point Press, Flash Fiction Online, Cosmonauts Avenue, Wyvern, Uncanny, Cheap Pop, Smokelong Quarterly, Adroit, Atlanta Review, Noble/Gas Qtrly, Yes Poetry, Kaveh Akbar’s twitter.


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

CX: Those two are absolutely not welcome in CX. It falls under that male gaze thing we mentioned above. We also really don’t like the violent gaze, which, like the male gaze, relishes in violence toward subjects in the writing. We’ve had to put up a notice in our guidelines that animal harm will result in an instant rejection. Any gratuitous writing is a hard sell, honestly.


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

CX: Where do you go for inspiration for your own writing?

A: Editor Teo has a background in media studies, so he often watches films, tv shows, and music videos. He also goes back to his favorite poetry collections like Carl Phillips’ From the Devotions, and Frank Bidart’s Metaphysical Dog. Editor Hannah has recently started listening to true crime and comedy podcasts to give herself a mental break from reading and writing poetry. She also revisits works by Sylvia Plath, WB Yeats, and Louise Glück. Editor Chloe looks for inspiration in folklore scholarship and science. She also tries to read new work fairly constantly, so as to always hear new voices and ways of telling stories.

Thank you, Chloe, Teo, and Hannah. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Six Questions For Tara Laskowski, Editor, Smokelong Quarterly

Established in 2003, Smokelong Quarterly publishes previously unpublished flash fiction to 1000 words. When funding permits, it hosts the Kathy Fish Fellowship and writer-in-residence, a one-year fellowship for an emerging writer with a $500 award. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: I last interviewed you in January 2011. What are perhaps the biggest changes that SLQ has experienced since then?

Tara Laskowski: Oh! That was quite some time ago. A lot has changed, actually. Our web site went through a redesign a few years ago, thanks to a bunch of really generous folks who donated to our Kickstarter campaign. Our managing editor Christopher Allen also started our Global Flash series, where we publish flash fiction in other languages, with translations from guest editors. We've published stories in German, Spanish, Hebrew, and other languages. We're also hosting our first-ever flash fiction contest to celebrate our 15th year of publishing. This is open through May 20, 2018, and the grand prize is $1500.

What hasn't changed? We still are fortunate to get to publish some of the best flash fiction on the planet. Thank you to our contributors!


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

TL: 

  • Originality, both of subject and of style.
  • Confidence, by which I mean a confidence in the narrative. A sense that the writer has a handle on the story he or she is trying to tell and knows we're going somewhere.
  • Urgency. There's a reason we're reading this story. It not only needs to be told, but we need to finish reading it.

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

TL: Unnecessary words. Gimmicks.


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

TL: Erotica is tough, though in a recent issue we did publish a lot of sex stories. This was sort of a happy accident-we just happened to get a bunch of really good stories that had to do with sex. I think it would be hard to get something with a lot of violence in it past our editorial process. And humor in flash is really hard to do well. Most humorous flash just reads like a bad joke.


SQF: If Smokelong had a theme song, what would it be and why?

TL: Ok, this one stumped me, so I ran it by our editors, and we all agreed Tyrese Coleman had the best answer. "I don't think we'd have one. We'd be one of those modern shows that flash the name of the show and then, boom!, get right into it. We do flash...start in medias res. No reason for intros."


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

TL: What's the secret to SLQ's 15 years of success?

The staff. Our editors are simply amazing, smart, dedicated people that I'm grateful for every single day.

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

Friday, March 30, 2018

Six Questions for C.E. Lukather and Paul Garson., Editors, The Writing Disorder

The Writing Disorder: a literary journal publishes new fiction, nonfiction, poetry and artwork. “We have no specific guidelines regarding subject matter. Please send us your best work, whether it’s traditional, experimental or something else entirely. We enjoy reading all kinds of work.” Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

The Writing Disorder: We started this journal so we could publish more work by new writers, or writers having a difficult time getting published.


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

TWD: The first few pages of a story; its title; is the submission sent in the correct format.


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

TWD: When a writer tells us what his/her story is about in the cover letter (we don't require a cover letter).


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

TWD: An authentic voice.


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

TWD: If it’s good writing, we’ll publish it.


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

TWD: What is the most surprising/inspiring part of your job?

A: Every new submission we receive is an opportunity to discover new thoughts and ideas.


Thank you, C.E. and Paul. We all appreciate you taking time from your busy schedule to participate in this project.

SQF revisited - Clever Magazine

Begun in August of 1998, Clever Magazine prides itself as being a publication for the "neglected demographic." The magazine features essays, short stories, humor, recipes, travel, photo essays and more.

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

DK: Writing that fits the tone of our ezine: quality counts. We prefer careful writing—the writer has taken the time to spell check the piece, has thought about the composition, and has something interesting to say. We love stories with a subtle sense of humor or irony, no matter whether it's fiction or travel essay, dark humor is great, be sarcastic if you are good at it. We'll eat it up. Why, you ask? Why not, we're not on the Internet for the money or fame; we do this because we love the idea of publishing quality work. The longer we are around, the pickier we can be. Hopefully, writers who appear on our pages will appreciate the fact that being on Clever is worth bragging about.

Read the complete interview here.