What Questions would You ask the Editor of a Literary Magazine? #writing #fiction


Call for submissions First Line Magazine

The First Line Magazine

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, Elaine Chiew recently answered questions on writing.  Today I’m pleased to welcome David LaBounty from The First Line Magazine.

The First Line Magazine’s motto is as simple as it is commendable:

 The purpose of The First Line is to jump start the imagination–to help writers break through the block that is the blank page. Each issue contains short stories that stem from a common first line; it also provides a forum for discussing favorite first lines in literature. The First Line is an exercise in creativity for writers and a chance for readers to see how many different directions we can take when we start from the same place.

Feel free to leave your questions for David LaBounty in the comments section, and he might stop by to answer them.

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1. What drives The First Line Magazine? What are your plans for its future?

I used to say we started TFL to stave off middle-class malaise, but now I’ve come to look at it as a source of cheap entertainment. I want to create an enjoyable collection of stories, so that when I go back and look at an issue in the future (be it five months or five years), I’ll still be proud to have paid for those stories.

Our plans for the future are simply to keep on keepin’ on.

  2. What do you look for in a story you accept for publication?

Something that makes me forget I am an editor reading a submission. Stories that can do that almost always find their way into TFL. However, I am also on the lookout for diamonds in the rough – stories that sparkle, but need a little polish to make perfect.

  3. What would you like to see more of in the submissions to your magazine, and what would you like to see less?

I completely understand when editors spell out types of submissions they don’t like to see, but it seems so limiting. (How do you really know what you want until you read it?) I’ll give an example: I can usually tell when someone has tacked our first line onto one of their existing stories, which, in the early days, annoyed me. But then I read a wonderful story that was in no way inspired by our first line. I called the writer on it, and he sheepishly admitted to the crime. Then I took his story and started a new literary journal with it.

We only have two rules: start your story with our first line and don’t change it in any way. Beyond that I am open to anything. Even stories I would never publish can be entertaining for me to read for other reasons.

A Character's Writer's Block?

Publishing Stories in a Literary Magazine

4. What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published in a magazine?

Edit twice, submit once. Repeat (if rejected).

5.    Name 5 short stories that are your absolute favorite.

Stories I liked years ago, may or may not hold the same place in my heart today, and some I hated in my youth, speak to me now. Someone once asked me what my favorite song was of a band I love, and I answered: “The next one I hear.” My favorite short story is the one I read next that moves me.

6.    What was the last book/s you read? Would you recommend it to Daily (w)rite’s readers? Why or why not?

My book reading is just as eccentric as my short story tastes: plays, old Star Trek novels, baseball biographies, working-class mysteries – I also review books, so I am always receiving potential bestsellers to pass judgement on. I’ve recently, returned to my zining roots. There’s an unpolished passion in zining that still speaks to me, and I spend too much time swimming in hand-copied, saddle-stitched ephemera. I hesitate to make reading recommendations, unless I really know the person.

7.    What is your comment on the future of literary short stories and novels?

As long as people have the itch to write, and I don’t think that will ever go away, we’ll have plenty of short stories and novels to read. Who will read them? I have no idea.

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David published my story in the last issue, and we spent a few emails back and forth discussing changes. It was one of the best editorial collaborations I’ve ever had– David’s suggestions were insightful, and he was very open to new changes I made, always able to see the vision of the story. I’ve read the other stories in the issue, all beginning with the same line. It was fascinating to see the directions in which various authors have taken the prompt: get yourself a copy to enjoy the different journeys.

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The First Line Magazine submissions

David LaBounty

David LaBounty‘s name is attached to bad poetry, micro fiction, children’s stories and plays, and general interest articles for newspapers and magazines. He’s written stories for literary journals and essays for scholarly journals, and his book reviews have appeared in daily and weekly newspapers. When he isn’t filling zines with self-centered tripe, he edits and publishes Workers Write! and The First Line.

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Dear readers, do you read literary magazines? Like short stories? Have you heard of The First Line Magazine? If you write, do you submit to literary magazines? Been published? Do you have questions for David LaBounty?
If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion on short stories, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page!

Why do #Food and #Fiction Mesh So Well Together? #writing #foodfiction


As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, we had David Bumpus from the Lunch Ticket Magazine answering questions last week. Today I’m pleased to welcome Elaine Chiew,  award-winning author, and editor of the Cooked Up  anthology.

This anthology includes stories from names like Ben Okri and Chitra Bannerjee Divakaruni, and is an absolutely delightful read, because it is all about Food, Food, and more Food. Food is one of my favorite topics– one of my pleasures in reading a book is finding the description of (an often unfamiliar, and sometimes only too familiar) food or a meal, and to languish in the deliciousness of it.

Feel free to leave your questions for Elaine in the comments section, and she might stop by to answer them.

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Do you love Food Fiction?

Cooked Up: Food Fiction from around the World

1. Tell us about your writing journey. When and how did you start writing fiction?

In 2005, I began writing after I had my first child, probably due to an avalanche of maternal hormones (After years in the investment banking industry which sapped me of fellow feeling or the ability to feel anything, this rush was unexpectedly welcome).

2. What aspect of writing a short story do you find tough, and which one do you find easy? Why?   

Each aspect is an element in an organic whole, and thus, I find it depends on each story. In some stories, the voice comes immediately (Leng Lui for Pretty Lady) so it felt deceptively easy. In others, the ending takes awhile to come around (one that feels true to the story and its characters, what’s called “earned” — e.g. Run of the Molars.

3. What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published?

Try online litmags but read them first (widely and frequently). Support the community.

4. Name any 5 short stories that are your absolute favorite.

This switches around, because when you reread at different points in your life, different things speak to you. If I were to teach a short story course though, I’d always include:

a. Lorrie Moore’s. People Like That Are The Only People Here.
b. Alice Munro’s Floating Bridge
c. Haruki Murakami’s The Ice Man
d. Raymond Carver’s A Small, Good Thing.
e. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien

5. Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? What’s your recommended cure?

Two tried and true methods:
1. Work on something new. But make sure you come back to yr block.
2. Walk. Make tea. Cook. The mind does not stop working just because the fingers stop typing.

6. Tell us more about the anthology you edited: Cooked Up. Is there a target audience? Why do food and fiction mesh so well together?

Cooked Up is for anyone who loves food and anyone who loves short stories. People open up whenever there is talk about food. Food especially enhances story-telling. Food is so ever and omni-present in our lives, as is story-telling. We eat to live, but likewise, we tell stories in order not just to make sense of our world, but also to live.  We aren’t properly human unless we tell stories, from early cave-dwellers onwards.   No surprise either that a lot of people’s earliest memories are of food and of someone (possibly a parent/grandparent/relative/carer) telling them a story even as they are being fed.  I’m constantly amazed that even the most unapproachable or taciturn of humans smile and have something to say about their favourite foods, and the act of explaining why that is their favourite food is already a telling of a story.

7. How did you go about compiling the anthology? What did you have in mind when you chose the stories to go into the collection?

I solicited emerging literary talents whose work I admired (some of whom I’d interacted with on social media) and others whom I wrote to out of the blue (one, I chased up by attending an event he was speaking at and then pitching the anthology to him on the spot!) I was looking for stories where food as a theme is front and central (or highlighted its significance and cultural meaning), stories where food acted as trigger, signifier, enabler of story. But in the end, it had to be about the story. The story was paramount.

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Editor: Cooked up: Food Fiction from around the world

Elaine Chiew: Editor, Author

 

Elaine Chiew is a London-based writer and her stories have won the Bridport Prize, been shortlisted in the BBC Opening Lines (2015), MsLexia (2014) and Fish Short Stories Competitions (2012), among others, and published in anthologies and literary magazines (most recently, in Unthology 7 (Unthank Books, 2015).

She is the editor and organiser of Cooked Up: Food Fiction From Around the World (New Internationalist, 2015).

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Are you a foodie? Do you love food fiction? Any food-related short story or novel that resonated with you? Why do You think Food and Fiction might go well together? Why does food succeed in bridging barriers and forging connections? Want to share the recipe for a comfort food? (I admit to taking comfort in food when I’m stressed– would love a few recipes from around the world!)
If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion on food and stories, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page!
If you want more blog friendships, join our Cherished Blogfest— more than a 100 bloggers are taking part!

What Makes An #Editor publish a Short #Story in a #Literary #Magazine? #writing


Stories in the Lunch Ticket Magazine

Lunch Ticket Magazine

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog, Melissa De Villiers recently answered questions on her writing.  Today I’m pleased to welcome David Bumpus from the Lunch Ticket Magazine. Feel free to leave your questions for him in the comments section, and he might stop by to answer them.

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1. What drives Lunch Ticket? What are the plans for its future?

Lunch Ticket is Antioch University Los Angeles’ literary magazine, and as such is bound to uphold AULA’s mission to promote social justice by publishing without hesitation meritorious work written by underrepresented and underprivileged voices with the hope that getting their words out into the world will help enact change. As for its future, we’ve been tasked by the university to be the best magazine we possibly can while maintaining that mission. As a relatively new publication though—we’re only just entering our third year of being online—we feel like we’ve only recently finally established ourselves in the literary journal landscape, and we hope that future editors will carry the magazine forward towards realizing its full potential.

2. What do you look for in a story you accept for publication?

In pieces of any genre, we look for mastery of craft and an awareness of social justice. But by mastery of craft—since that’s a pretty general and nondescriptive term—I mean not only that the sentences are meticulously shaped, but that the writer demonstrates a clear understanding of and mastery over the form of their piece: that the structure is well-designed and compliments the function and intention of the piece; that the author doesn’t give in to any overused and diluted tropes; that every detail and nuance is charged with purpose. We want pieces that are fresh and original and have a sense of urgency about what they need to say.

3. What would you like to see more of in the submissions to your magazine, and what would you like to see less?

We like pieces that challenge the status quo, both on the page and off. We want pieces that make us question the way we think and feel, and also challenge our expectations of certain genres. We want less pieces that assume and uphold norms and normative modes of thinking. We want less pieces that follow well-worn grooves. We want pieces that challenge our assumptions, that promote progressive modes of thinking.

4. What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published in a magazine?

Focus on your craft first: make sure your writing is clear and crisp, and that everything you do is purposeful and contributes to the piece as a whole. Secondly, read the magazines you want to be published in, and then submit what you think would be a good fit. Every magazine has their aesthetic preferences, and you have to send them what they’re looking for if you want to be published by them: it’s unlikely that if you write realist literary fiction you’ll be published in a genre magazine, or if you write experimental poetry you’ll be accepted by a more traditional publication. Submit to the markets that publish what you write, and only after you’ve taken the time to familiarize yourself with them.

5. Please link us to three of your favourite pieces on Lunch Ticket.

I can’t play favourites unfortunately, but I can provide links to a few pieces I found particularly powerful and that I think fully capitalized on our mission:
1. Days 2. Poetics of Resistance 3. Self Portrait: Chicken Dinner 4. Three Thai Poems 5. Weird Gelatinous Things.

6. What is your comment on the future of literary magazines?

It’s hard to say what the future of literary magazines will be because there are so many changes happening so rapidly. I do think that digital publications will continue to outnumber and outgrow print publications though, and that this could potentially create a market that will change not according to the desires of those who can fund the biggest magazines but whose changes will be dictated by the wants of the readers: having the ability to create and share publications has never before been so easily or widely practiced, and never have independent publications been able to have as wide a readership or reach. Because of this, publications can orbit whatever flag they plant in whatever territory or niche they want, and I think the readers will now determine who flourishes and who won’t in a way we haven’t seen before. We no longer have to only read what’s being published by the big names who tell us what we should read because they’re the only ones who are publishing anything: we can seek out what we want to read, because someone out there is publishing it. And if not, then you can create and share your own publication.

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Lunch Ticket Magazine: David Bumpus

David Bumpus: Lunch Ticket

David Bumpus holds an MFA in Fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles. As an undergraduate, he studied Mathematics and Philosophy at St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. For a year and a half, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of Lunch Ticket, Antioch’s literary journal committed to promoting social justice. He is also a sponsored motorcycle racer.

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Dear readers, do you read literary magazines? Like short stories? Have you heard of the Lunch Ticket? If you write, do you submit to literary magazines? Been published? Do you have questions for David Bumpus?
If you’re reading this, do not have a blog, and want to join the discussion on short stories, head over to Daily (w)rite’s Facebook page!

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: P for Postponement is not an option


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: P for Postponement is not an option

Provided by: Jemima Pett, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge: P for Postponement was not an option

#atozchallenge: P for Postponement was not an option

     I sit on me front porch, thinkin’ Sunday morning thoughts, when they drive up, the two fat coppers.

     Where’s Moses?, the taller of the two hooks his finger on his belt, and don’t waste our time.

     Only Moses I know, I tell them, parted the Red Sea.

      No punchin’ the toadstool around me. Moses he turn me ‘to a fairy if I squeal. Better put out for coppers than Moses.

       My nose bust next second, one long whine in me ears, blood on me mouth, warm ‘n icky. Usual stuff.

       The other copper, sliding behind, he throw me against the porch wall. You wan’  to do them Moses you’self? Where’s you’ gi’lf’iend?

           Why cops look more ‘n more like we these days? This one got a missing front tooth. It make his words come all funny.

            He take Angela, Moses do, I want to tell them, ‘n she go with him.

        Every Sunday Angela she take me to church, Be a good man, Jerry, she say, let the Lord save you. You ne’er took a life, the Lord He forgive you, ask for His mercy.

 

Last night she run, not with a good man, but Moses. Moses of stick-ups ‘n blagging, pimp, cop-killer, Mac daddy that drive around Sunday e’enings high on shrooms, or eatin’ coke, lookin’ for bitches to rape.

         Postpon’ment is not an option, Moses say, his big fancy words, you got one life. Take what you want.

         I wanna tell these coppers all that. But what’s the point? She make me wear the mushroom suit every time I do her, there’s the truth of it. Angela want his big brawny spawn, not mine. I’m puny, she say. Some more, these coppers don’t do their jobs, oughta patted me down before slammin’ me.

         I pull out the nine Moses thrown at me last nite, laughin’ in my face, ‘n I fire, once, twice. I fall back, more whine in me ears. The nine it hit me back, but it drop them sure. Then I sit me down, and watch the red slide outta their mean little heads. Ne’er bust a cap, and now this.

        Moses he got it right. Always a first time, and live only once. I’m havin’ me some different Sunday morning thoughts. With a nine, I’m as tall as Moses.  The Lord can save me no more, Angela. I’m comin’ for you.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? What associations do mushrooms have for you?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: I for It was too good to be true


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.
Writing prompt: It was too good to be true…

Provided by: Vidya Sury, friend, fellow writer, and one of the magnificent Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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#atozchallenge :I for it was too good to be true

#atozchallenge :I for it was too good to be true

            That year Sam found his first grey hair, he picked up the habit of talking in phrases he’d read in books.

         A man can be destroyed but not defeated, he would say, or Your children are not your children, or, God never made a promise that was too good to be true; as if those phrases would fend off the years.

            His wife wondered if had taken up with a girlfriend. He practised yoga, downed wheatgrass and celery juice, gave away his bottles of expensive wine, turned vegan.

              He sat entire evenings in his study, the lights ablaze, staring at the paintings on the wall: amorous couples, flowers, children. So much life, such beauty, and there he sat, not growing any longer, decaying that very moment.

When his wife asked him why he sat so quiet, It’s called meditation, he said, you should try it some time. The best things in life are free.

The year they diagnosed him with diabetes, he did not speak to his wife for a week.

In three words I can sum up everything I know about life: it goes on, he said afterwards,  and doubled the exercise, halved his food. He soon looked like his shadow self. His wife protested. It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not, he said, and munched on more lettuce. His eyes sank into their sockets, ready to go to sleep, his skin wrinkled like of a man twice his age and yet he ploughed on.

I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens, he said to anyone who asked how he was. But you’re not dying, they said. You begin to die the minute you’re born, Sam withdrew into his study, where a treadmill now took pride of place.

That day they took him to the hospital, short of breath and chanting, Death is nothing at all, it does not count, he had jogged ten kilometers. His wife walked with him as they wheeled him into surgery, Do shut up, Sam, she said.

If you want me again, look for me under your boot soles. He closed his eyes and smiled. Play it, Sam, his wife said, Play it again, but he did not hear her.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Do you ever wonder about aging, death? Why, why not?

#AtoZchallenge #flashfiction: D for Damnation awaited her, if…


As part of the A to Z Challenge,  through the month of April I’ll be posting a story a day based on photographs by Joseph T. Richardson and prompts given to me by blog-friends.

   Writing prompt: Damnation awaited her, if…

Provided by: Mary Wallace, friend, fellow blogger, and one of the Magnificient Seven of #TeamDamyanti

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Damnation awaited her, if...

Damnation awaited her, if..

     When Lilith opened the door, she wished she’d worn a better dress. The paisley she’d saved for the New Moon Day perhaps, cinched at the waist and flared below, which made her look delicate, a woman a man could smile at, ask out. Marry, even get with child.

What else was a man good for, besides making a woman with child?

He stood, left thumb hooked in the pocket of his jeans, smiling down at her. It fit him well, as did the smile on his shapely lips under his cowboy hat. Who wore cowboy hats these days? Lost wanderers in open-topped blue Mustangs, apparently. She saw it parked outside the gate. It stood like an obedient steed, shiny, as if it had just rolled out of the workshop. A car from another age, just like the man, who asked her whether he could use her phone.

They had those cellphone things these days, not that she had used them, but youngsters like him did. Odd. Not many lived in the old ways. It suited her though. She had just taken a bath, the house smelled good, of soup and incense, and her own fragrance.

She invited him in, giving her hips that subtle, extra, swing. Even in her plain cotton skirt, the drab garb she wore to hide her true self, she knew how to make male eyes stare– her long, shining hair that stroked her hips drew their gaze, and once they looked at her, they did not resist. Could not. Her body retained its shape from centuries ago, that was the way of her kind, and she was the mother of her kind. The Baalat.

Damnation awaited her, if she gave in, did not resist the call. But too long in her exile she had waited for just such a one.

After she was done with him, she would build another wall behind the house, lay him there in splendor, and build around him. She would give birth right outside the new wall, and her daughters would rise to fight again. She would not return to Adam or Eden, she had never bowed to an Adam’s son, would not start now. She would not bow to God’s will. God was a man, was he not?

 The farm boy stood making his call. Behind him, concealed with heavy drapes, loomed the old wall, its bricks gaping, mortar cracked in places. Lilith grinned, coiling her hair into a black-gold snake, waiting to strike.

She didn’t see that the man smiled too, into the phone. She didn’t see that his palm held a fist-sized, sapphire-colored, glittering rock. Lot’s salt, large enough to turn an Angel or Demon into a pile of ashes.

She did not know, and refused to accept, man’s dominion over woman.

And like all women, she paid for it.

~~~~~

Are you taking part in the A to Z challenge? Do you read or write fiction? Ever write based on a prompt? Have you read of the legend of Lilith?

What Makes An #Editor publish a Short Story in a #Literary #Magazine?


A Character's Writer's Block?

Publishing Stories in a Literary Magazine

As part of my ongoing guest post series in this blog,  Suchen Christine Lim, one of Singapore’s best known authors, spoke to us about her writing journey  before the holidays. Today, Scott Bryson, the editor of Cigale Literary Magazine answers questions on what leads him to choose a short story for his publication.  Feel free to leave your questions for him in the comments section, and he might stop by to answer them.

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1.      What led you to establish Cigale Literary magazine? What are your plans for its future?

I hoped to connect readers with new and emerging writers and to help those
writers begin a career in the literary arts. I saw a need for a publication that emphasized literature as a tradition, where writers who are also avid readers could contribute to a literary conversation. In the future I hope to publish translations and maybe poetry. I also hope to go to print and pay my authors.

2.      What do you look for in a story you accept for publication?
I look for good writing and an interesting tale. I like works that expand my perspectives on humanity and look out to a wider world.
3.      What would you like to see more of in the submissions to your magazine, and what would you like to see less of?

I would like to see more writing that is challenging and shows an urgency
in speaking about universal human themes. I would also like to see more
writing from a third person narrative and some that is genre bending.
I would like to see less writing told from the first person and less that
is the author’s personal history, unless that personal history reveals
some wider truth about the human experience.

4.  To a lot of readers, literary fiction is boring writing. How can
writers engage more readers with their literary work?

Literary fiction is meant to provide perspective and challenge the reader.
It is meant to be difficult. But the more you read it the more enjoyable
it becomes.

5.      What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story published in a magazine?
  • Keep polishing your work, as it might not be ready when you first finish it.
  • Make sure you follow the submission instructions from the magazine.
  • Have a general understanding of the magazine and what they usually lookfor. Even magazines that say they don’t look for anything in particular have something in mind.
  • Read, read, and read.
  • But mostly, getting published is luck.
6.      Name 5 short stories that are your absolute favorite.

1. The Spider Thread – Ryunosuke Akutagawa
2. Poor People – Fydor Dostoyevsky
3. A Hunger Artist – Franz Kafka
4. The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl – Ray Bradbury
5. Frost and Fire – Ray Bradbury

7.      What was the last book/ short story you read? Would you recommend it to my readers, and why or why not?

I recently finished A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. Yes I would
recommend this to your readers as a classic of English Literature. In many
ways it is like some short stories I receive but Burgess makes a larger
point than showing the reader violent acts of a youth.

Cigale Literary Magazine

Cigale Literary Magazine was founded in September 2011 as an online literary magazine to publish the works of new and existing authors. It is a quarterly online literary journal featuring powerful new voices in the genres of short fiction, flash fiction fiction, and literary criticism/reviews.

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Have you sent you stories for publication in a journal or magazine? What has been your experience of publication? Do you have story submission questions for Scott?