Friday, November 17, 2017

Six Questions for David Walker and Joey Gould, Editors, Golden Walkman Magazine

Golden Walkman Magazine is an audio-produced product that publishes poetry of any length and fiction/non-fiction/craft essays to 3,000 words. They also provide occasional music prompts, called Dialogue Submissions, in which authors respond to an original piece of music and once a year run an (Audio) Chapbook Competition. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

David Walker: I love the idea of a literary magazine; it feels so communal. A collection of writers who often have never met working in concert with each other to create one piece of art, whether in print or online - there’s few things if anything else like it in the world. I specifically got hooked on the idea of making it a podcast because that’s what I’ve been obsessed with for the past six or seven years. The thought of listening to a literary magazine on my commute to work or while folding laundry or on my morning runs was too cool to pass up. I also find that I have a very weird mix of aesthetics in writing that I like and having them all under one roof was an itch of mine that wasn’t being scratched. I figured this was the best way to champion the writing I admire.


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

DW: For one, imagery. I’m not sure what it is about a unique sensory description of a common anything that makes my synapses fire, but I’m a sucker for any submission that makes me see something in my life a new way. Voice is also incredibly important to me. I want to feel like the writing is from someone I could pick out from a crowd. Don’t give me a story anyone could tell; give me the story only you could. And the last one is going to sound knit-picky of me, but I need to feel like you’ve read our guidelines. As a writer who submits to journals on a regular basis, I scour every punctuation mark of the guidelines because I know that someone took the time to set up Gmail inbox filters and coordinate blind readers to ensure the quickest, most equitable shot at publication for hopeful contributors possible. Not following any one of the guidelines could easily undermine those mechanisms or simply put the editors in a less favorable mood when trying to split hairs on two equally great poems.


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

DW: Perpetuation of rape culture, racism, stereotyping of any kind, hate speech, explicit sexual content that seems to serve  only the basest of purposes, and anything that has the aura of manifesto writing. Beyond that, clichés & lack of interesting language.


SQF: Where did the idea for the Dialogue Submissions come from?

DW: I think music is such a dynamic art form. It can have such a profound impact on our emotions. When I found that I was occasionally using music to inspire my own writing, I thought it would fit perfectly with the audio nature of our magazine. Now we don’t only offer a venue for writers to showcase their talent, we connect artists of different mediums in a cycle of inspiration. These Dialogue Submissions are one of my favorite parts of running this magazine because I get to witness firsthand the multitude of ways different writers interpret a single piece of music, and it reminds me just how much talent exists in the world.


SQF: You also offer a manuscript service. Is this limited to chapbooks? Poetry and prose?

DW: Right now, yes. Because we refuse to deviate from our commitment to present art aurally and we haven’t tackled a book-length project yet, we have to see how things go. Our first chapbook contest closed in July, and we will begin production soon; that’s when we’ll know more about our abilities and limitations. We would love to expand our scope and begin accepting full-length collections down the road, so we will keep you posted.


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

DW: What new ideas for the magazine have you been toying around with? I definitely think the podcast format offers so much unique potential. Interviews, for instance, would fit in pretty naturally. I also think we could feature work on current events in the weeks between our monthly issues, since most podcasts are published on a weekly basis anyways. I really just want this magazine to be an inclusive space for a variety of artistic opportunities, and I think we’ve only begun to explore. We’d also love to become a paying market and collaborate more with other journals. Writers have a wonderful community and it behooves us to be good citizens. We’re looking to run events at festivals like the Massachusetts Poetry Festival and work with others to hold discussions about writing. For instance, we just recorded an episode of The Literary Whip, a podcast aimed at illuminating where the line is between acceptances and rejections at lit mags. I learned as much from actually articulating my judgment as anyone who listens to it might.

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

Friday, November 10, 2017

Six Questions for Sarah Leavesley, Editor, V. Press

V. Press publishes poetry and flash fiction pamphlets/collections by UK authors currently residing in the UK. Read the complete guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this press?

Sarah Leavesley: Starting the press was something that developed organically. I’d set up a blog for a female poetry collaboration. We were booked for a poetry gig at a significant UK poetry festival (Ledbury) and someone said why don’t we have a book to sell at it…the rest as they say is history. I set up the company and fellow collaborator Ruth Stacey helped me to put together that first chapbook.

I was on a masters at the time, I didn’t want to self-publish outside of that collaboration and I had two solo collections with other publishers, so I didn’t do anything more with the press for about a year.  But, after I finished my masters, I had more time and was looking for a new project that would excite me. I’d also reached a stage where I’d been more widely published and had a number of books out with various presses myself. The confidence, editorial input and writing development that being published had given me was amazing. I wanted to be able to offer that to other poets and help to get great work out to readers.

V. Press opened a submissions window, and I took it from there. Because of her workload and commitments, Ruth, wasn’t able to continue in an active editing role. But she agreed to stay on and take charge of design, as well as being my main port of call for advice or when I need a second opinion.

The scope and range of what we publish has evolved a great deal since that first chapbook. I’m also a fiction writer and reader, and V. Press widened its range to also include flash fiction in 2015. Again, this was something that developed organically out of  both my own writing and reading interests and the literary environment at the time.


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

SL: Talent, uniqueness, crafting. I’ve rattled that off somewhat glibly because if I think too long or try to define these too precisely, it would be a phd-length essay and still not feel like a full satisfactory answer!  In essence with the first two, I want to feel so excited or gripped  or taken over by the work that I have to keep reading on. Perhaps because these two qualities are more intangible and harder to define than crafting, I think these are also the most crucial. To some extent, crafting can be learned and polishing applied afterwards. It’s much harder (maybe even impossible?) to make something technically competent stand out from the rest without there being talent or uniqueness there in the first place. I think this is also important when considering submissions from writers who aren’t privileged in terms of time or money to spend on writing courses or feedback. That said, I think reading widely is an important part of this, and increasingly less financially restrictive with growing online resources. It’s also one of many good arguments for maintaining and treasuring our libraries.


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

SL: Rudeness, as in life in general. Fortunately, I don’t get that very much with submissions. I think making a good submission, or ‘pitch’, is an art in itself, and one I know I don’t always get right myself. As editors go, therefore, I’m probably fairly tolerant and do prefer to focus on the quality of the actual work submitted. But, if I turn that question on its head and say what’s more likely to set a good environment to start reading that quality work in, following submission guidelines is a big one – and one that’s probably even more crucial for the number of editors who have said the same numerous times before. Likewise with not addressing me as dear sir, or a blanket submission ccing numerous other presses…


SQF: What are the next steps after a manuscript is accepted for publication?

SL: This very much depends on the manuscript. Some need more and some less editorial discussion and input from me. The key word for me here though is discussion. I’m fairly hands on, but it is a two-way process. For me, it’s about bringing the best out of the manuscript and presenting it in the best way for the work itself, within the author’s own style and voice.

I also have to typeset the manuscript – putting into house font and style etc. This usually happens after most of the editorial input. But it may happen earlier or during that process if it’s needed in order to tie down page-length of the finished pamphlet/book.

I do believe in nurturing talent. So, occasionally, I won’t take on a submission but I will offer some free feedback and/or mentoring with the hope that this might lead to a manuscript that V. Press can then publish. This is becoming more and more difficult though because of the time and work involved in doing that.


SQF: When you look into your crystal ball, what do you see in V. Press’s future?

SL: Now that is the one thing that I still need – a crystal ball that works, and one that I can manage to hold onto without breaking! Seriously though, we live in a fast-changing world and one that requires fast adaptation. V. Press has already moved from one pamphlet in our first year to three in 2015, five titles in 2016 and nine scheduled for 2017. That is a lot of work, and some risk, on all fronts. We are – inevitably – constrained by time, energy and financial resources. I currently do all the editing and admin on my own, while Ruth Stacey creates our beautiful poetry cover designs. Maintaining quality for our readers, doing the best for V. Press authors and remaining financially feasible/sustainable are my main motivators and aims. The exact nature of this is constantly evolving, as it has to.


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

SL: Is the love and demand for poetry and books dying? My answer – no. In fact, both have  probably even increased; it’s just that the nature of this,  and the ways of best meeting that love and demand, are constantly changing.

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

Friday, November 3, 2017

Six Questions for David L. White, Editor-in-Chief, SHANTIH Journal


SHANTIH Journal publishes fiction/nonfiction of 1,000 to 10,000 words, flash prose under 1,000 words, poetry, drama, and art & photography. All works should explore the concept of peace in the 21st century. Read the complete guideline here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

David White: Way back in 1998, I began my teaching career at Desert Vista High School, located in a suburb of Phoenix, Arizona. Back then, the school was in its early years, and so every teacher was expected to take on a club or sport. Since the idea of being athletic has always filled me with nausea, I took up being a co-sponsor of the literary magazine club. Between 1998 and 2015, I sponsored the Desert Vista Literary Magazine. Out of a need to save money, and with the advent of the internet, the club eventually stopped making a physical magazine and began creating an online literary magazine that still continues today. During my last year working there, the club came up with a great idea: hey! What if we made a literary magazine with a global reach and focus? Logistically, we had to wait until students graduated in order to create a new online literary magazine, independent of the school. Once we got started, other former students joined our endeavor. They’ve all gone on to become teachers, writers, musicians, graphic designers, lawyers, and self-made entrepreneurs with an ever-continuing love for literature. It’s been a joy working with my students in a larger arena. Not that they’re students anymore—this is a co-equal prospect, with all of us committed to bringing good art to its best light.


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

DW:

1. Is it moving?
2. Is it thought-provoking?
3. Is it original and new?


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

DW: I’m still a little protective of my former-students / editorial staff (even though many of them are in their thirties now), and so I don’t like work that is filled with offensive language or sexual subject matter. Any hint of misogyny or bigotry and it’s over.

Beyond that, I don’t like work that hasn’t been polished. Editing is, in my opinion, more important than oxygen. I also have a visceral and violent reaction to saccharine prose and work filled with clichés and dead metaphors.


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

DW: Not usually. Many times our rejections have more to do with personal taste than anything, and, in many respects, there’s no accounting for taste. Also, sometimes a good piece just doesn’t fit a current need. So a rejection isn’t even a comment on worthiness and should never be taken as discouragement.


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

DW: There are quite a few: Prairie Schooner, Thrush Poetry Journal, The Cincinnati Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Salamander, Tahoma Literary Review, PRISM international. Our design and layout editor is a big fan of Ninth Letter. I like The Adroit Journal. Iron Horse is good, too. So many.

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

DW: Why is the magazine called SHANTIH Journal?

SHANTIH Journal, like the original high-school magazine What the Thunder Said, has a number of meanings. SHANTIH is, of course, the famous last lines of “What the Thunder Said” the ending of Eliot’s The Waste Land, which then mirrors the ending of most of our editors’ high school careers and the beginnings of their new lives. It also refers to the fundamental question of the end of that poem: what does peace mean in our contemporary world? Is peace possible? If so, what would that look like? My hope is that all of the work submitted to our journal responds to these fundamental questions. We live in a world that very much needs peace – personal peace, societal peace, political peace, global peace.

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

Friday, October 27, 2017

Six Questions for Nancy Adimora, Founding Editor, AFREADA

AFREADA is an online literary magazine, featuring original short stories from emerging writers across the Continent. We live for the well-crafted narratives and effortless reads that speak to our daily realities as Africans at home and abroad. We publish short fiction and visual arts. Read the complete submission guidelines here.

SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Nancy Adimora: AFREADA is an online literary magazine focused on African stories from across the continent and diaspora. I started the magazine because I was coming across exceptional asotries on people’s personal blogs and I thought that it would be great to have a central platform where avid readers could travel across the continent through beautifully crafted stories.


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

NA: We always look for originality The story (plot and characters) has to be believable, and we also look for some sort of intentionality, with sentences and words used to describe scenes.


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

NA: Multiple exclamation marks or letters to put emphasis on tone. e.g. Hurry UP!!!!!!! Or Hurryyyy Uppppp! < this is unacceptable, lol.


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

NA: We always try to give individual feedback where possible, but this all depends on the volume of submissions we’ve received.


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

NA: I’ve learnt that writing doesn’t need to follow any particular format. Our focus isn't on the technical ability to write. It's on the story. I’ve learnt that writers should have the freedom to write in whatever way comes naturally because we’ve seen the most beautiful and unforgettable stories emerge from the most simple sentences/dialogues.


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

NA: What does the name AFREADA mean? How did you come up with it? 

AFREADA is a fusion of the two words, ‘Africa’ and ‘Reader’. Not only does it reflect our focus on Africa, but also our ambition to include the ‘reader' into the literary space. There’s so many conversations about writers but not enough about the individuals who fund the publishing industry. So whilst we love writers and appreciate and honour their contribution to our platform, we’re on a mission to share their work with as many readers as possible.


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

Friday, October 20, 2017

Six Questions for Christopher Moriarty and Keri Moriarty, Co-founders/Editors, Bunbury Magazine

Bunbury Magazine publishes flash fiction to 250 words, short stories to 1,000 words, poems to 40 lines, articles to 1,500 words, reviews to 500 words, and artwork/photography. Read the complete guidelines here.


SQF: Why did you start this magazine?

Christopher: We started this magazine as a way to showcase grass roots creativity and give meaningful feedback to writers. As writers ourselves, submitting to magazines for publication, we felt that the feedback we were offered about our writing was either not constructive - a lot of 'yes, we love it's or 'this piece is not quite for us's with no further explanations - or it was non-existent completely. The feedback is a crucial

Keri: What he said basically. We, as writers, were fed up to the back teeth of either one word responses from publishers or of being told that our work was very publishable but not quite what they were looking for. Like many things, for me it was born of frustration and passion.


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

Keri: Number one for me is the hook. If I'm not grabbed in the first three sentences, I find it difficult to invest in the rest of the piece.

Use of language, how the narrative is woven throughout the piece and if the storytelling is consistently strong with good pacing. All of those come under one banner for me because you can't really have one without either of the other two.

The third is, probably predictably, a good ending.

Christopher: I agree with everything Keri has just said completely, naturally! I like to see something different in a piece - a poem that subverts a concrete form of poetry, a short story that turns tropes of narrative on their heads.

I also like good characters in a piece. It is the people both behind and on the page that will carry a piece and help the reader invest. If the characters are not strong, the piece can fall apart completely.

I also like to see writers that can stick to the briefs outlined in our submissions guidelines. With all the work we do with writers, we are always trying to help them develop their work and how they go about it. If they can stick to briefs - word counts, piece counts - they will stand a better chance when it comes to competitions and trying to turn their passion into a profession.


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

Keri: Not following the guidelines which are accessible on the website (www.bunburymagazine.com) under the 'Submit to Us' page. It may sound harsh but they're there for a reason and it's a big thing for me if they aren't followed. Poor spelling and grammar is up there for me too. I'm dyslexic myself so I know the challenges written language has to offer but if I'm at the stage where I think a piece of mine is ready to go out into the world, I ask people to proofread (I know rather a few pedants, always handy!) because I know that I'll probably have mucked it up somewhere along the line. It's a difficult one but important.

One more thing that turns me off a submission is rude cover emails. This really is more of a pet peeve but writing is such a personal thing, so to get such impersonal emails with just the work attached or the words 'Consider this/these pieces', really isn't the way forward. I'm not saying I want a groveling email filled with platitudes or a bio as long as my arm but please and thanks are always welcome.

Christopher: To reiterate what Keri has just said, grammar and spelling are key in a successful submission. At the end of the day, we can edit a piece but we will not proofread. Sending a piece that is full of errors in spelling and grammar shows a lack of editing and the piece being unprepared for submissions.


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

Keri: We don't on out and out rejections, for instance, those not within guidelines but we do with pieces we do decide against. This way, the people who submit to us get constructive criticism and are able to improve their work.

Christopher: We do, yes. We want to help develop writers and what they do. We give feedback on everything we consider for each issue. That way, writers who have pieces accepted know what they are doing right and can continue to do so and writers who have pieces accepted know their own areas for development and can target their efforts to improve.


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

Keri: I tend to read a lot of books and poetry collections of various sizes from poets and authors as we also attend a lot of book launches and spoken word events as well as running our own and a writing group.

Christopher: I read a lot of graphic novels and comics. At the moment I am ploughing through both the Marvel stuff and The Walking Dead. In terms of lit mags, I prefer to read a cross-section of many different zines such as Blink Ink and The Misty Review.


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

Keri: I wish you'd asked how we came to name the magazine 'Bunbury'.

My answer would be that it is a reference to Oscar Wilde's work. It stands for escapism of all kinds.

Christopher: I wish you'd have asked why we do not just focus on one form of writing, such as poetry, and feature a wide variety of content.

My answer would be that we try and have something for everyone. We know that some people like poetry, some prefer short stories, some like looking at art and photography. There are a few out there who like it all! We try to cater for everyone and bring as many people into the Bunbury family as possible.

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