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Friday Feature: Interview with Heather

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Kelsey Mars, editor of Heather.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

I prefer things that are a little strange or weird. I like the “shop of curiosities” vibe. A good example of this is Sociopaths In Love by Andersen Prunty or The Grownup by Gillian Flynn. I like a style that is so intimately unique, that is effortless in its expression. I don’t want to see the seams but rather, style should be like the magician’s sleight of hand.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

I’m deeply indebted to Paper Darts for the endless inspiration they’ve given me for years. That publication is like a lighthouse to me. I would not be putting out Heather if it weren’t for Paper Darts.

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

I don’t think writers who submit have to do anything when submitting to Heather, except to provide pieces that are genuine and distinct.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

I want Heather to be known for publishing things that might fall to the wayside with other publications for not being exactly right. I want to read all the other pieces that were turned down because the editor didn’t “get it.” I want you to read Heather and be thinking about a phrase all day, unable to get it out of your mind. Basically, I want it to be a ghost of everything that you tried to avoid because the unknown is spooky.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

Anything experimental that plays with form or isn’t necessarily a “traditional” narrative. That is, I want to publish more pieces like “Multiple Choice” by Maggie Cooper, which was published in our first issue. Paragraphs are very nice, but I want to see what we can do if we forget about paragraphs. I want to see all the fun things you wrote in the middle of the night when you couldn’t sleep.

What made you want to be an editor?

I deeply want to give voice to people who feel like they have none. I want a space for the things we’re too embarrassed to share or submit for publication. I want writers to embrace their authentic voice, instead of trying to replicate what they think a writer should sound like.

What kind of things do you write?

I write magical realism, science fiction, anything that doesn’t quite take place in the reality that is known to us. Rather, what I write takes place just slightly to the left of reality.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

Heather is a traditionally feminine name. I wanted something that sounded like the girl you grew up with, who became something much more than anyone expected. Also, the movie Heathers is extremely important cinema.

What inspired your aesthetic?

Arvida Bystrom, first and foremost. CR Fashion Book, Paper Magazine, Lady Gaga, the Lemonade album and Warsan Shire, Rookie Magazine, The Ardorous. That photo series “There Will Be Blood.” YM Magazine. Bystrom did a great photo series with young women’s hands, long acrylic nails and holding iPhones which had three missed calls from “world” or a text from “internet” reading “Love that we’ve been hanging out so much lately.” I just looked it up and it’s called “Depression Calls.” Arvida Bystrom is amazing.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I want to grow a community around the content we publish. Hopefully we gain a large enough readership to run contests that benefit the ACLU, Planned Parenthood and the Ali Forney Center. I also hope to publish an physical anthology soon for our first two issues.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

Friday Feature: Interview with Minola Review

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Robin Richardson, editor of Minola Review.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

We exclusively accept work from women, femme-identifying, and non-binary writers. We seek strong writing by otherwise marginalized writers, writing that tackles difficult issues with both eloquence, and guts. If you are writing from a desire for truth rather than from a place of ego, Minola Review may be the ideal home for your work.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

Public Pool, No Tokens, Cosmonauts Avenue, Room Magazine, Luna Luna Magazine, and CAROUSEL — a hybrid art and lit mag in which a supplement from Minola Review will be appearing in Spring 2017.

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

Follow the submission guidelines closely. Please do not follow up asking about the status of your submission. I respond to each and every one within the allotted three month time frame we specify on the submission page. Send strong, thoughtful work in its final draft, and please read the journal!

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

There are many feminist journals out there, and many offer high quality writing. Minola Review has a very specific editorial vision, which results in heavy-hitting, topical, and engagement works. We also release monthly, bite-sized issues of six pieces, making it easy to go through an issue in its entirety. The site is simple, slick, and visually clean. Everything we do in in service of the relationship between the reader and our writers.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

Poetry and fiction. Occasionally we accept a piece of non-fiction.

What made you want to be an editor?

I felt a need in the literary landscape, a safe and strong space for women in which we could share our stories with a feeling of support. It seemed the natural next step to create that space. It’s an absolute gift to be able to read and publish so many great pieces of writing.

What kind of things do you write?

I’ve published a few collections of poetry, and have a memoir currently out on submission in North America. Next up will be a novel. Also write the odd essay or piece of criticism.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

Katherine Minola of Taming of the Shrew.

What inspired your aesthetic?

A desire for beauty and simplicity, a journal that appeals to the eye as much as to the literary sensibility, and that is not bogged down by bells and whistles.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

To dismantle patriarchy.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

Friday Feature: Interview with Syntax & Salt

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Ani King, editor in chief of Syntax & Salt: Stories, A Journal of Magical Realism.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

While I think we have pretty eclectic tastes at Syntax & Salt, we definitely lean towards literary works with a strong, defined voice. Ken Liu, Catherynne Valente, Kelly Link, Karen Russell, Nnedi Okorafor, Isabel Allende, to name a very few, are among some of our overall favorites who have incredible flexibility with their tone and style.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

This is bound to be an incredibly long list, but in particular I love publications that always manage to attract and publish the unique or surprising. I try to read a variety: well-established publications like Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld, Apex, Fairy Tale Review, and Tor.com; equally wonderful magazines that are still on the road becoming more well known, such as Strangelet, Axolotl, Sick Lit, Spilled Milk, or Inklette. There’s so much out there to admire, with the ability to easily set up online now.

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

Following submission guidelines is always a plus, but also taking the extra time to make sure a story is really ready to be submitted. Get critical feedback — often there are small plot holes that another reader might catch. Make sure characters have agency and purpose and don’t exist merely as a story device. Bend the rules, throw away old tired tropes.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We strive for an array of voices and styles, rather than intentionally looking for an issue theme. I believe in the two issues we’ve put out there is at least one story for most readers to love, if not more. I hope too that the art is visually arresting.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

I would love to see much, much more work from underrepresented communities, particularly women of color, LGBTQA writers, and stories from differently-abled persons. I believe that the literary community as a whole has an obligation to provide a place for these voices to be heard, and to eschew accepting stories that instead fetishize or appropriate from these groups.

What made you want to be an editor?

It wasn’t something I expected to happen, but in the case of Syntax & Salt, it happened I think because the magazine was my baby, and when the incredible group of writers that I run it with sat down to talk through it, likely the deciding factor was my deep control freak nature.

In all seriousness though, I really enjoy the detail work involved: layout and site design, working with the authors to make sure we’ve got everything right, choosing or creating the art, and enthusiastically promoting the work we feature. I feel incredibly fortunate to have the world’s greatest managing editor (Hi, Chelsea!), and the best readers who love magical realism.

What kind of things do you write?

For the most part I write short speculative fiction. I enjoy experimental forms and flash fiction quite a bit, though I’ve been turning my hand to poetry and plotting some longer works. I always have at least ten plates in the air, and I’m hoping to complete a collection of short stories this year that will stay together.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

I’m a very prose-driven reader, and I think that syntax, like salt, can be the difference between a bland read, or a perfectly seasoned one.

What inspired your aesthetic?

The whole S&S staff and I have been in a writing group together for almost two years, and we found ourselves driven to read and write a lot of magical realism. At some point we realized that the next natural step was to provide a home for others to do the same.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I aim to publish excellent stories and provide a home for the new, the weird, the old reimagined, and for first time authors, to give them a great experience in submitting and working through the editorial process.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

Friday Feature: Interview with Amber Taliancich Allen

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Amber Taliancich Allen, editor of Whiskey Island.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

Whiskey Island has a history of leaning toward an experimental aesthetic. I personally love works that are a little rough around the edges, not afraid to be a little messy. Strange and beautiful pieces that strive to go beyond traditional narratives.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

I’ve been a longtime admirer of Gigantic Sequins, The Pinch, Sundog Lit, Brevity, and River Teeth. I’ve just recently stumbled upon a newer nonfiction online journal, too, which features quarterly themed issues — Proximity Magazine.

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

I think writers really need to do the work, the research. The more you know about what a journal likes, then the more likely you are to truly understand whether or not your piece would be a good fit. If I come across a piece that I feel like compares in tone or structure or even narrative to something I’ve written, then I pay attention to where it was published, and then I add that journal to my list of places to submit my own work to. Not only does it increase your odds of getting accepted if you know you aesthetically align with the place you’re submitting to, but it just really saves everyone time, in the end.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

That’s a hard question. I think we all set out with similar intentions, and I think, in the end, we all reach our goals. We find pieces we believe truly represent the best of the best in the types of writing we love. For us, we focus on language and voice and character and works that sometimes rely less on traditional narratives, and I think we really pay attention to how we curate each issue. The works must stand as strongly together as they do alone. And I think one of the things I love the most about our latest issue, Issue 67, is that sometimes it’s hard to tell what genre a piece is unless you reference the TOC.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

I love lyrical, experimental essays. As for fiction, I’m from the south. I grew up reading Faulkner and Welty, and so sometimes I’m less interested in plot. I want voices that will stick with me. Language that will haunt or mesmerize or make me stop everything and question my life choices because it’s just that damn beautiful.

What made you want to be an editor?

I think it was just something I sort of fell into. I started at the bottom. I was a reader, and I didn’t quite know what I was doing, then. But then I worked my way up and fell in love with the process, as a whole. I think the curating, though, is my favorite part.

What kind of things do you write?

I write essays and fiction. Both seem to explore themes of womanhood, especially in the south, and my growing concerns with one day becoming a mother.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

There’s a peninsula in Cleveland called Whiskey Island.  I’ve never been, but I hear there’s a bar. I hear there’s actually whiskey there.

What inspired your aesthetic?

I’ve always liked things a little strange. In my first year of college, I took a British modern lit class, and the second I read Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, I suddenly had this different outlook on how one can approach storytelling and writing. I learned it was okay to break the “rules.” But lately, I’ve been reading a lot of essay collections, and Amy Leach’s Things that Are has definitely inspired my recent work.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I think what I want most is to be able to share the wonderful pieces these writers send us. In the end, we’re all writers. We’re all playing the same game. I know what it’s like to sit on the other side of that computer. And so, I think I also want to ensure I create a worthy home for those pieces. Do them justice, so to speak.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

Friday Feature: Interview with Rebecca Ligon

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Rebecca Ligon, Editor in Chief of Rubbertop Review.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

I’m personally open to most any style of work, but I do appreciate experimental work.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

I admired Jellyfish, H_NGM_N, Banango Street, PHANTOM, jubilat, ILK, and Bone Bouquet, among others.

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

If you’re sending out simultaneous submissions, keep track of where you send your work, and if you receive an acceptance, send withdrawals to the other publications as soon as possible. It’s okay to want to celebrate! It’s exciting! But you don’t want to leave editors in a difficult position by sending them a late withdrawal notice. You want to leave people with a positive impression of you and your work in case you decide to submit to them again later on.

Also, try not to overthink what you send. By all means, send what you consider to be your best work. But if your heart is telling you YES and your brain is telling you NO, maybe because your work is more experimental, or you feel like the poem won’t be appreciated, listen to that YES and just do it. Even if your work isn’t accepted, you’re putting yourself out there, and that’s important.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

I think our current editorial staff has a wide variety of preferences when it comes to style and content, so it’s interesting to see what they choose to accept for an issue. I think we’re distinctive in that our only firm criteria is that we select what we consider the best work for publication. We might have two very different aesthetics running simultaneously in one issue. I find that unexpectedness and variety compelling.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

We would love to receive — and publish — more creative nonfiction submissions. We think it’s a fascinating genre, and while we receive at least 70-80 fiction and poetry submissions per reading period, we don’t receive nearly as many nonfiction submissions.

What made you want to be an editor?

While I’m passionate about writing, I’m equally passionate about reading. Editing gives me the opportunity to read the work of writers from all over the world and open my mind to new ideas. It’s always interesting to see what people care about, what they’re preoccupied with, what they’re trying to accomplish through their work.

What kind of things do you write?

Lately, I’ve been working on a series of persona poems. Some of them appeared in my graduate thesis, but I’m trying to expand them into a chapbook-length manuscript. I usually write about relationships and their strangeness and complexity.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

Rubbertop Review is a tribute to The Akros Review, which was a previous publication of the University of Akron. It’s also a tribute to Akron and the Rustbelt.

What inspired your aesthetic?

For our last few issues, we’ve been aesthetically inspired by the city. Our cover art reflects that. Content-wise, we’re all over the place, but we typically gravitate towards work that explores an emotional truth in a fresh and unexpected way.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

We hope to publish the best work we can and inspire more people to read, and write, and submit their own work. If someone picks up one of our issues and reads something and feels inspired to read more or sit down and write something of their own, I feel we’ve accomplished what we set out to do.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

Friday Feature: Interview with Gabriella Pishotti

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Gabriella Pishotti, editor of Calliope.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

I love reading fiction, especially fiction with characters you could almost swear were real people.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

Just this past winter I began reading some of the Belt Books, specifically Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology. It’s a collection of stories from a variety of writers in the Cleveland area who capture the city and its many different flavors. If you’re from around the area I highly recommend it!

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

Revise. The best works we receive (so often the ones that get published) are the ones that are in at least their second or third draft. Those that really demonstrate knowledge of the form also usually do better. For example, we tend to publish creative nonfiction pieces that contain several different elements of creative nonfiction — research, personal connection, an over-arching, larger idea — rather than just one of these.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We have a history of working with judges who are well-known in their field, and so I think it’s exciting to be able to advertise that these women and men are the ones actually reading the work students submit and making the final decision.  Just this past year we had David Giffels, who’s written for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal (not to mention MTV’s Beavis and Butt-Head) judge for our creative nonfiction category, so that was exciting. Our magazine’s also over sixty years old, so I think our long history also plays a part in making us distinctive.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

We really want to start collecting more drama pieces for next year. We host the category every year but never get enough submissions to be able to publish it as its own category, so I’d really love to see more writing submitted in this genre. I’d also like to really see more artwork published in mediums other than photography. We receive a lot of photography every year — which is great! — but we know artists work with a variety of other forms too and we accept all of them — one year we had a papier-mâché mask place as an award winner!

What made you want to be an editor?

There were a lot of reasons I wanted to take on the role of editor for Calliope. First off, as a writer myself I love having the opportunity to be able to read the works of others, and I think it’s really important for undergraduate writers especially to have a place where they can share their work, so I wanted to become a part of this. I also had been editor of my high school’s literary magazine, and I just fell in love with the process of working with a variety of different writing and art forms and having the opportunity to help present them to others. I also really enjoyed the process of designing my magazine in high school too, so I was excited to continue working with the layout of the Calliope in college.

What kind of things do you write?

As a writing major I’ve luckily had the chance to experiment with all forms of writing — fiction, creative nonfiction, and most recently poetry. When I’m writing just for fun I usually prefer fiction, as I love developing and breathing life into characters, but I’ve recently taken more of an interest in the other two genres as well. I had the opportunity last semester to complete a larger creative nonfiction piece for my senior project, and it really showed me how much fun the research aspect of writing can be and how as a writer you can literally explore anything you want and challenge yourself to turn it into art.

So I guess the best answer would be: I like to write everything.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

The name, Calliope, is for the Greek muse of music and epic poetry.

What inspired your aesthetic?

I’d like to think that our magazine has a very modern aesthetic as we usually receive work dealing with very timely themes and ideas. However I think the best description of our magazine is that it’s also very adaptable, each addition having its own unique flavor to it. Our cover page changes each year, always featuring one of the pieces of artwork we’ve chosen to publish, and usually its a piece that captures the trend of the work published as a whole. For example, this year we received a lot of submissions relating to the themes of growth and nature, and so our cover featured a close-up of a flower.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I hope for our magazine to continue in its esteemed status as being a publication where it’s an honor to be published. We really do strive to publish the best undergraduate writers and artists, and I hope that I have managed to preserve this reputation. I think us reaching out to other schools and encouraging submissions from more than just our own campus really helps with this.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.

Friday Feature: Interview with Arian Cato

Each week, the editors of Jenny Magazine sit down with either fellow literary magazine editors or past Jenny contributors for short interviews. This week’s interview is with Arian Cato, Editor in Chief of Brev Spread.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

We don’t outright exclude from consideration any specific genre or style, but personally genre fiction and anything hinting at making a buck as a primary motive are at the bottom of the list, more so the latter than the former. I am currently trying to bridge the gap between the magazine and the journal, the academic type whose worth is first determined by the words “peer reviewed” before making it to any other chopping block, not seeing that the point of publication is to universalize and in doing so, imposing onto any historical situation a new array of peers. I am starting to think that the “peer reviewed” label is effectively putting a hood over critical thinking of the very term that precedes all else, that is, the “peer.” Of course, we need standards, and we need reassurances, but if every editor stated her standards in the open and was morally upright, then perhaps we could finally banish this trend for validation that slows down the communal working through of fearless projects.

Of course there is a huge problem even before this concern for the peer, namely the dwindling of the respect and venues for the humanities (see the many PhD graduates who are struggling to find a job that should rightly be theirs, were money not an issue), but it still shocks me how few even get past stereotypes to get around to submitting their theoretical works. Naturally, we won’t be lending the weight of many an established publication out there, but here I must insist that one’s theoretical work is pointless if it doesn’t brave the times in order to void part of it in the name of some eventual present that they can incorporate themselves under, and further. With that said, I do hope to see in our inbox many more translations and theoretical works.

As to stories and poetry, we ask for critically refined works that have spent a long time under the red ink and in thought, while also keeping one ligature in the heart. We started years ago as an organ for transplanting into everyone new capillaries through which the heart can beat, but now I would love to see the brain struggle with the immense weight of our heritage. This can be said as to “styles of works”: To hell with your intuition, I want to see that intuition worked to the bone.

Other than that, we are also in a lot of need for visual art. We would love to have willing artists illustrate passages from certain submissions.

What can a writer do to increase chances of being accepted?

Work that has been worked, and that makes us work. A constant in my tastes is the love for front-to-back cohesive structures that afford plenty of discoveries upon rereads. Another one is the use of wordplay, not for the sake of wit or bravado or showing off, but for the sake of theme development and the emotional instigation at the end of every piece. You can be as funny and as smart as you want, but it won’t even be for naught if it doesn’t get past the author. We live at and in a time, and I want us all to start reckoning with the fact of the other — otherwise, submit elsewhere or keep your works to yourself. Thematically, then, works that deal with community and the public are of course some of the more urgent works.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We are very personal, and starting with our name, we are also philosophically inclined. Brev is basically managed by two people, and I respond to all of our correspondences. For the first 14 issues I workshopped many of the pieces that I saw fit for bringing up into any shortlists, and even now I am more than happy to give a piece some sort of editorial review if anyone asks and if the piece is exciting enough. Whereas before we were completely open, now we are a bit more selective with our time and publications, exercising a much more engaged and self-conscious approach to our craft. This said, I must add to the first two traits: We care a lot about the potential and personality of each submission and contributor.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

Translations from Japanese, Korean, Filipino, and Central and Southeastern Europe; theoretical works on contemporary philosophy (particularly those in the wakes of Marx and Lacan); long stories; rhyme poetry and epics; and illustrations for each.

The other key member here would like RPG proposals and treatments, which I think is a fantastic idea.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

We started as a print-at-home small publication distributed by hand at select places, so “Brev” was picked to suggest the concision of each issue. It is also meant to allude to bravery, since we saw ourselves as a sort of guerrilla avant-garde of the small magazine. As to the form of the publication, we situate ourselves out of the magazine and journal binary by calling ourselves a “spread,” which is reminiscent of the idea of the broadsheet and the miscellanea, since initially we asked our readers on our site to print out our small issues themselves and to spread them at will.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

New worlds and the appropriate words.

Brev Spread can be found on both Facebook and Twitter.


Are you a past Jenny contributor or an editor at a literary magazine and interested in an interview? Send us an email.