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Friday Feature: Interview with Jenn Monroe

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 Jenn Monroe, Editor in Chief of Extract(s).

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

For us it is about poems and stories that stick with us, that make us stop and think when we first read them, and are still spinning around in our heads and hearts long after. We don’t usually publish “genre” fiction, but that doesn’t mean we wouldn’t if someone sent us a piece that really resonated with our editors. We’ve been accused of having an “obsession with death,” but I think that we have been fortunate to have been sent pieces that tackle the darker aspects of human existence with beauty and authenticity. We like courage. We like writers who are willing to take a risk.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

There are so many I’m not sure I even know where to begin. Radius Lit is consistently amazing. NonBinary Review is using a new platform and publishes gorgeous issues. Big Lucks always packs their issues with so many terrific, energetic voices. All three are run by writers I admire and respect a great deal, so it is no surprise these come up first for me.

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

Read the blog. Sincerely. There is no better way to find out what we dig than by reading what we’ve already published. This, of course, is the first rule of sending out work, right? Do your research.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We publish something new Monday-Friday every week of the year — mostly. I don’t think there are many journals/editors foolish enough to take on that kind of project.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

We would love to get more work from people of color and from LGBTQ writers. We would like to get more submissions from writers in other countries. We want the blog to make people think about many issues from as many perspectives as we can find. I am always grateful when a writer sends work to us, and I try to make sure I say so, even if we are declining a piece.

What made you want to be an editor?

I’m a poet and a teacher, but also a HUGE fan of great writers. I wanted to play a part in getting great voices out into the world. I wanted to connect wonderful people to other wonderful people. I wanted to help build a community where people support one another, instead of being in competition with one another.

What kind of things do you write?

I write poems about relationships, mostly, my own with my family and friends, with nature, with the world. I write poems about love and loss and doubt and grief. I write about birds. I write blog posts about becoming a mom after age 40 and trying to figure out how that is supposed to work.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

We knew we wanted to play on the idea of getting a small bite, a small sampling, every day at our blog. That grew into the idea of a “daily dose,” that reading great writing is great medicine, and from there we came up with Extract(s).

What inspired your aesthetic?

When this started we (co-founder Christopher J. Anderson and I) were teaching at a funky little creative arts college in New Hampshire that had a young faculty and a vibrant visiting writer series. We also had both recently finished our MFAs, and were excited about the contemporary writers we had spent time studying and studying with. We recently expanded the editorial staff to keep that aesthetic fresh and eclectic.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I want to use it to build community. I want it to be a launch pad for new and emerging writers. I want it to be a home that our contributors feel welcome to return to (many have). I want it to be a place readers know they can find great pieces of literature that will make them think and feel and connect.


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

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Friday Feature: Interview with Clara Ray Rusinek Klein

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 Clara Ray Rusinek Klein, Founder and Editor in Chief of A Quiet Courage Journal.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

There isn’t any one particular or specific style that’s preferred. I just like whatever I like, the same as everybody else. Everybody has their own things they like and dislike and creative writing is highly, highly subjective. Pretty much 100% completely and totally subjective. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, and vice versa.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

There aren’t any specific magazines in particular; we’re always looking at a lot of websites and reading a lot of different sources.

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

Follow the submission guidelines.

Be courteous and be professional.

Only send writing that’s 100 words or less. We don’t publish anything that’s over 100 words, so it’s a total waste of time sending in anything that’s over 100 words and expecting it to be published, period. You’d be surprised how many people have ignored the very clearly stated word count limit. It’s arrogant to expect that we’re going to publish your writing regardless of the fact that you’ve ignored the guidelines and the very clearly stated word count limit.

Addressing your submissions appropriately is a plus. While it won’t increase your chances of being published, it does make a much better first impression than saying “Dear sir” or “Dear sirs” or even saying nothing at all and just dashing off a random submission just for the heck of it. That’s really irritating and unprofessional and shows you don’t take writing and submitting seriously. Addressing your submissions inappropriately (or not at all) already gives a bad first impression immediately as soon as I open the email, and a bad first impression’s going to make it highly unlikely that your submission will be published at all.

Also, don’t capitalize the first letter of every line of your piece or pieces when it doesn’t need to be capitalized, and don’t use the “&” symbol in your pieces instead of the word “and.” Use the actual word “and,” write it out, don’t use the “&” symbol, it’s just annoying.

Don’t have horrific and unreadable formatting.

Rhyming poetry is really highly unlikely to be accepted.

Don’t send unreadable, unpreviewable, and/or unopenable attachments. It’s annoying and irritating to have to ask submitters to resubmit their attachments. Also, remember to actually attach your attachments. Don’t make me have to ask you to resend because you forgot to actually attach your writing to your submissions email.

Don’t send submissions without titles or submissions called “Untitled.” We can’t publish pieces without titles and it’s irritating to have to ask you to resend your pieces with titles included.

Don’t send another or multiple more submissions immediately after your first was declined. Wait a minimum of one month before submitting again.

Don’t send highly religious and/or highly sentimental pieces, it’s just not what we publish.

Poetry and other writing that doesn’t follow the rules of punctuation and capitalization is unlikely to be accepted. Only send poetry and other writing that’s punctuated and capitalized correctly in the exact right places where it should be.

Give a good first impression. Show that you actually care about the journal that you’re submitting to and you’re not just dashing off another submission without even bothering to at least take the time to even look around the journal at all.

Don’t make your attached Word documents uneditable and don’t put a copyright notice with each of your pieces. We need to edit your pieces and we’re not out to steal your writing. Professional editors aren’t out to steal your writing.

Send well edited, professionally formatted submissions. If I have to do a lot of editing before I can even think about publishing a piece, it won’t be published. Don’t make me do more work.

Don’t send offensive, inappropriate pieces, they’ll never be published.

Flattery won’t increase your chances of being published.

And don’t make the editor feel like they’re just being used for just another publication credit. It shows the submitter couldn’t care less and has no real interest in the place they’re submitting to.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We only publish pieces that are 100 words or less, and there aren’t too many other places that are doing that.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

We’ve been getting only a ton of poetry lately, we’d like more microfiction stories. We’d like more 100 word stories and also more microfiction that’s less than 100 words. Just send us more microfiction in general. Send us your absolute best, most excellent writing that’s 100 words or less.

What made you want to be an editor?

It’s hard to answer — it’s hard to say any one specific or particular thing. It was a lot of different things I guess.

What kind of things do you write?

Microfiction, micropoetry, fiction, poetry, short stories once in a while sometimes.

I really like microfiction, especially 100 word stories, and also stories and poetry that are less than 100 words, so that’s mainly what I’ve been writing lately.

(By the way, just in case anyone’s interested, a full list of current publications can be found here.)

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

I like the idea of quiet courage, of having a quiet courage.

What inspired your aesthetic?

I don’t have a specific answer, I don’t know that A Quiet Courage even has any particular specific aesthetic. Everybody’s going to see the journal in their own way anyway, everybody’s going to see everything differently.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I don’t have a specific answer right now; I’m not sure how to answer. I just want to focus on the writing — the writing’s what’s important.


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 David Ulnar-Slew

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 David Ulnar-Slew (also known as Edward Sullivan), an editor of Aphelion and Editor-in-Chief of Cheapjack Pulp.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

Answering that in a straight-forward manner would be like picking one ice cream flavor or one beer. I love to be entertained. Give me something the last person didn’t. You should make me feel something. If you can make me laugh that is great, but make me cry sometimes too. Scare me or offend me. Offending me is outstanding from an editorial point of view. You should make me feel something deeply. Of course crossing lines is still possible, don’t spread meaningless hate or perpetuate violence on the innocent. Beyond that tell a love story, create a hero, spin a tragic tale, hit someone with a cream pie, or write kinky, bisexual bizarro erotica. Just don’t bore me; I don’t have time to be bored, life is too short.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

I grew up reading Asimov’s and Analog. I also had a subscription to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I read anything I could get my hands on really. There are now so many good venues for the written word due to the internet. Ultimately I admire anyone who keeps the written word alive and allows new talent somewhere to craft their passion for literary creation. I started Cheapjack for that reason and to fill a need to entertain.

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

Every editor will tell you should have some format which is at least a little neat when you submit. Use spellcheck at the very least — if you can’t be bothered to at least run a quick little program then why should I be bothered to read it? Other than that, open well. I know in the first paragraph whether I want to keep going or not. The decision to keep reading comes initially after a few hundred words, then is validated after a few thousand with anything longer than flash fiction. You need a good hook.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

We only aspire to entertain. There is no deep sociopolitical or ideological agenda. I recruit writers to write content for one purpose and one purpose only: to pull the everyday person out of their life for a few moments and give them a little vacation of the mind. It is neatly packaged and easily consumable. There is a time and a place for deep literary meaning that will change the world — it is not at my magazine. We are here to titillate, humor, scare, excite, and console. The experience offered has no agenda other than to give you a story to amuse your mind for a little while.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

My kingdom for a romance writer! I know speculative fiction writers, and all around decent writers, who can cross genres quite well in every other genre. A good romance writer would be worth their weight in gold. It is an art form unto itself. They seem to be everywhere sometimes, but this is just not true — all the best don’t seem to want to write short stories for a reimagined pulp mag. They would rather write novels and I can’t blame them. They are some of the most prolific writers of any genre as a group.

What made you want to be an editor?

I didn’t. I fought it tooth and nail. After taking the leap late in life to start writing again, I was put in a position where if I wanted to have certain things I had grown to love at a publication I wrote for continue I had to do it myself. I thought I was going to be a train wreck. I soon found out that I wasn’t half bad — not good, mind you, just not half bad.

My developmental and substantive editing skills are pretty good. I am a hell of a big picture guy. I lean on others for copy edits quite a bit though, because as a reader stories often turn to almost film in my mind. I have to slow down my eye speed to catch many copy edit mistakes. I can do this if I have to, but I prefer not to because at heart I am an artist who is mostly petulant child inside. I just keep doing this because it keeps others producing and I get first peeks at great works, kind of like film critics getting sneak previews.

What kind of things do you write?

I write speculative fiction under my own name and use it for nonfiction as well. Increasingly I have leaned toward putting my horror, science fiction and fantasy under my pseudonym — the benefits should be obvious. If you search any arrangement of Ed Sullivan, you won’t get me anytime soon. If you search David Ulnar-Slew, well then it is all me!

I will write anything I guess. I had to write romance once recently to fill a deadline. It wasn’t awesome, but it was okay. It entertained sufficiently, others could have done better perhaps.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

I found it on the internet after searching for an antiquated term that had an interesting way of catching the eye. It also had to mean something common and entertaining that had no highfalutin connections. I knew I wanted to bring back the pulp aesthetic.

What inspired your aesthetic?

Pulps. Penny Dreadfuls. Bad movies. Soft core porn. Saturday morning monster movies. Any TV at 1am. All the things that are not full of themselves. The people who just wanted to create, so they took a chance and threw something out there. Some of them fail miserably, but some grab the brass ring even though they were not even supposed to be in the race.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

I hope we keep going. I hope I build so much momentum that when I die someone else keeps doing it. I want people to come back over and over each time an issue is released to be entertained. They should laugh, cry, get angry, and even possibly get offended a bit. I want to be a place where stories that may not have been told otherwise find a place and an audience. I want to entertain and amuse and I want to give others the opportunity to do so as well.


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 Penguin Review Co-Editors

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 Tom Pugh and Rebecca Brown, co-editors of Penguin Review — a yearly print literary magazine at Youngstown State University.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

T: I wouldn’t say that I prefer one type of work over another, but I feel strongest suited to edit nonfiction.

R: Since Penguin Review publishes work by YSU undergraduates, I tend to prefer a certain quality of work above a particular style. I think one of the great things about Penguin Review is that we publish all different kinds of work.

What other literary magazines do you admire?

T: I admire Jenny and Akron University’s Rubbertop Review. I also think that Paris Review, Georgia Review, Antioch, and Harpers are fantastic.

R: Right now I really love Little River, The Newer York, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Electric Cereal, Everyday Genius, and Girls Get Busy, just to name a few.

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

T: Practice their craft. Write as much as possible (I understand that daily can be a challenge). Join workshops with people that enjoy things other than what you write. Sometimes, they give you the best outside advice. Listen to any advice. Yes, haters will hate. Don’t listen to that. Also don’t listen to the extreme gushers (though it’s occasionally nice to hear gushing). If someone points out a flaw or so, look at your work. No one writes perfectly on the first draft. After doing that and editing, submit, submit, and submit some more. You have to submit before something can be accepted anywhere.

R: Send us your best work. Make sure it’s edited. Have other people read it and make changes. Send us multiple pieces — we publish up to 1,500 words of prose or 5 pages of poetry, so if you send us multiple pieces it increases your chances.

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

T: Penguin Review is Youngstown State’s only yearly print literary magazine. We publish the work of undergraduates, which makes for less of an overwhelming feeling of “Will I have to submit against people working on higher education degrees etc.” We publish artwork, nonfiction, fiction, poetry, and excerpts from screenplays — the latter is something that I haven’t seen done with many (or any) local college literary journals. I may be very wrong though.

R: Penguin Review is run solely by YSU students and only publishes the work of YSU undergraduates. This gives us a unique opportunity to capture a snapshot of the university each year, which is an incredible opportunity.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

T: Great question. This is something that I have discussed many times with staff members. We accept poetry, fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and art. That said, I would love to see someone submit a page of a created comic. Maybe it could even be a page from a graphic novel they’re working on. That would be different. That would be cool.

R: Submissions that grab my attention from the very beginning and don’t let go. Pieces that punch me in the gut repeatedly and unapologetically. Literature and art that is intelligent and fragile, bold and repulsive. I like work that creates a visceral reaction in the reader.

What made you want to be an editor?

T: Well, I like a challenge. Before I became editor of Penguin Review, I knew two things about the magazine. The things I knew: Penguin Review is a literary magazine on YSU’s campus and that I had a couple on my bookshelf that I read and enjoyed. Some of my friends worked on the staff of Penguin Review in previous years. This was different though. Everyone from the previous year was gone. I was jumping in as an editor and had to build a brand new staff.

R: I love having the opportunity to bring new work into the world — it’s a privilege to publish someone for the first time and to be a part of the process as a collection of individual submissions come together to create a new, greater work.

What kind of things do you write?

T: I write creative nonfiction essays. Most of the essays that I write are about my childhoods and my family. I come from a large family, so I have a lot to write about.

R: I mainly write narrative poetry in experimental forms. I’ve also been experimenting with surrealism and prose poetry lately.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

T: Penguin Review had been around for 48 years when I took over as editor. It was named already. However, there was a year when the staff decided they didn’t want to be associated with anything that had the name of the sports teams, so they just called the magazine The Review. It was during the 70’s.

R: Penguin Review got its name in 1964! I wish I knew how the editors chose the name, but unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to ask.

What inspired your aesthetic?

T: The overall look of the magazine is the result of our wonderful layout designer/co-editor, Rebecca Brown. She looked at the past two issues of Penguin Review and some other literary journals and came up with the design after hours and hours of work. She did a great job.

R: My personal aesthetic is inspired by my life experiences and the world around me. Growing up in Youngstown has been a major influence. I’m also inspired by writers like Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Gertrude Stein, and Dalton Day.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

T: Next semester and the Spring ’15 issue are my last at Youngstown State University. I know that I am leaving the magazine in very capable hands.

I hope that what was built by the entire staff over the past two and a half years continues getting bigger and better. I want Penguin Review to continue being a place that students in all fields can feel safe sending their work to. Blood, sweat, and tears go into each piece that is sent to us and it is important that each person submitting knows that we at the very least care about their work enough to read/edit/judge it. I want Penguin Review to continue on as an undergraduate magazine. This university needs multiple voices and undergraduates deserve for their voices to be heard.

To see Penguin Review being entered in contests for collegiate literary magazines and winning would be an amazing feeling. It would be a testament not only to what the staffs of the past two and a half years have built, but to the legacy of Penguin Review. I want to come back in fifty years for a 100th anniversary Penguin Review launch party. I will be 80 and I will find any way possible to make it to that event.

R: I hope that Penguin Review continues to publish absolutely incredible work from YSU undergraduates. Even more, I hope that as an organization we can encourage writers at YSU to find their niche and to continue to develop their voice.

You can find Penguin Review on Twitter and Facebook.


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 Barry Skelhorn

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 Barry Skelhorn, editor of Sanitarium Magazine — a monthly horror magazine based in the United Kingdom.

What style of work do you prefer, if any?

I have to say my preference has changed since releasing the first issue of Sanitarium back in 2012. Before, I would gravitate towards such works as M.R. James, James Herbert, King and Barker — a bit of a mix, but apart from that I wouldn’t venture off that path.

Recently, however, I have started to deviate from said path, picking up the odd new work here and there. One such niche is the Bizarro; “Motherfucking Sharks” is one that I am currently reading and for the short sharp shocks it gives you — the payoff is great. I am looking forward to reading more off the beaten track. 

What other literary magazines do you admire?

Straight off the bat I have to say the work that Nightmare Magazine, Apex and Black Static are doing for the horror fiction world is great. One that I have picked up all back issues of was the Fog Horn which has just closed its doors due to the nature of the (Apple) Newsstand.

Their model was sound, pay above the rates to get the best in the business, sell to those who love the stories — rinse and repeat. However with the app store being what it is — well I won’t bore you with the details. The guys have a great blog post which covers why they have closed and it is well worth a read.

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

Keep writing and submitting — it is that simple. We have had many submissions from writers who when they get the dreaded rejection notice, they keep on ploughing through. One such writer sent in several stories and they were nearly there. After the third rejection, we get this story that came through and here’s a point to note — we never read the cover note or who the story is by first time round.

This story hit us and it was an instant yes. So the email flew out the door and we were lucky enough to pick it up before anyone else (we are happy for our submitters to submit elsewhere if they want).

What do you feel makes your journal distinctive?

Sanitarium Magazine set out to be a place for the stories that didn’t feel at home elsewhere. Like an Aunt or Uncle that just seemed a little off when they came to stay. We are the home from the broken, the tired and the horrific — you never know what is going to be behind that case file.

What types of submissions are on your wish list?

A great setting, character, pacing and darkness.

But to be honest, there are many stories that I love and I still go back and read them from back issues. I don’t think there is the “perfect story” and I don’t really want there to be one, otherwise you are always comparing it to the others that come along.

What made you want to be an editor?

Okay, here is my little dirty secret — I’m not an editor (in the true sense of the word). Yes I go through and proofread the stories and tinker a little, but all in all the stories are near as dammit to the story that the writer wanted to tell.

I created Sanitarium Magazine because back in 2012 there wasn’t a great deal to read that was accessible on Kindle / iPad / iPhone whilst commuting to work. I found short stories were great for short stops on the train, during the journey I had enough time for a beginning, middle and an end to the tale unfolding before me. So I sat down, wrote a wish list and went for it.

What kind of things do you write?

I have written a couple of collections which were okay, but as I said before “Keep on writing.” That is one piece of advice that I haven’t followed due to the amount of time Sanitarium takes up (in a good way). But I have a fondness for ghost stories — that is one thing that I always seem to go back to. I have an idea for volume III of “Tales from the Horsham Ghost Society” and I may revisit it soon.

Where did you get the name of your magazine?

The name just popped in one day and it wouldn’t go away. As soon as I started with the name the whole concept of the magazine unfolded and we were off to the races.

What inspired your aesthetic?

Once I had the name, the wish list the rest quickly followed. I love the idea of having an ever expanding building that behind each door is a person with a case number and a story to tell. We are working on artwork and non-fiction work which will tell the story of the Sanitarium and its history.

With regards to the execution, I have a background in IT with some graphic design so playing around with a few options until it started to feel right.

We have had a slight change in the cover art from issue 20. Moving away from the models with scratched out eyes to the artwork of Kevin Spencer with his striking works. We are also working on a new “enhanced magazine” version for the iPad which will be out on the 31st of October.

What do you hope to accomplish with your magazine?

Showcasing more and more up-and-coming writers, moving into a paying market and generally getting people into a brand of horror fiction that they never even knew existed let alone like.

You can find Sanitarium Magazine on Twitter and Facebook.