Good Monday Morning To You.
If you’ve written a short story and looking for a home for it, Pages of Stories might be of interest to you. Check out this interview with Darlene Poier, its publisher, to find out what she’s looking for-
This Writer’s Life (TWL)-Tell us about yourself, your publication and when it was launched?
Darlene Poier (DP)-Originally, Pages Of Stories was launched in April 2010 and we had quarterly publications thereafter until October 2011. We also publish a non-fiction annual magazine called Lest We Forget that publishes true stories of war. Our first issue had some fascinating stories about WWII, the Hungarian Revolution, India, Kenya and even included a story of Florence Nightingale. We’ve been on hiatus since January 2012 and will be ready to come back as Ficta Fabula in July 2013.
As for me, the road to publishing wasn’t a straight one. Growing up in a small town north of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada meant that winters were generally long and cold. I’ve never been one to manage cold weather so while my sisters played outside in the snow, I was always happier with a book in my hand and being taken off to many different kinds of worlds. My love for books never ended and I always knew that one day I would like to read for a living but I didn’t know how to manage that. In the meantime I worked in banking/finance/accounting and then moved over to computer programming. Somewhere in the mid to late ‘90s I thought that I would like to create a magazine of short fiction stories, but I wanted to make it available off the internet. I spoke with other magazine publishers who all told me that it was a strange idea and couldn’t be done. They were partially right, the technology wasn’t really there for this to happen. Later in 2008 a chance conversation with a friend brought the idea to the surface and in 2009 I started doing some research. As luck would have it, in October 2009 I was laid off from my IT job and with the package I was given I was able to start my dream of publishing a magazine of short fiction stories.
This hiatus has given me an opportunity to define what I want to do and what I’m passionate about. What I’ve discovered is that I’m passionate about bringing good fiction stories to the world. I’m a firm believer that fiction inspires creativity and imagination, which in turn leads to innovation. Innovation can be applied to any part of life as it is a cornerstone of society and helps us move forward.
My goal is to reach people everywhere and introduce them to ideas and possibilities.
TWL-What sort of stories do you publish? Are they genre type ones, or more literary, or even a mix?
DP-That’s a good question and one that required evaluation. I’ve published a fair amount of both although I can’t guarantee that it’s an even mix.
TWL-What do you consider a good short story?
DP-That’s a tough question and the answer is somewhat elusive. I believe that with enough time and effort every idea put down on paper can be made into a good story. I personally like such a wide variety of stories that it’s hard to put that into one sentence. I like stories that draw out some emotion from me or stories that challenge me at an intellectual level. I like stories that have happy endings and stories that take you by surprise. I once published a story where when I first read it I thought I had the whole thing figured out and then the very last sentence sent a shiver down my spine – and it wasn’t a happy ending.
TWL-Are characters or plot more important?
DP-It would depend on the story and how it’s written. If the character is so interesting that they could be doing anything and the reader is engaged and excited to go from paragraph to paragraph then the story is a success. I once published a story that was entirely a one-sided conversation and while you learned about 2 characters, you only heard from one. In other situations the plot was so engaging that the character development was secondary to making the story work. But the reality is that both are important and to make a story truly successful characters and plot need to be well thought out.
TWL-Are there any types of stories you’d like to see more of but seldom find?
DP-I’ve gotten a fairly wide variety but stories that use some sort of historical fact seen to be a pretty rare find.
TWL-What are some of the biggest mistakes you see writers making?
DP-I think many authors don’t go through the process of getting a story edited before submitting. Sometimes I’ve received what appears to be random thoughts written out that don’t have any kind of cohesiveness to them. Probably the other biggest mistake is that I’ve received stories that don’t fit the guidelines because the author hasn’t asked for guidelines. This magazine is all about well written fiction stories so we don’t accept essays or other non-fiction articles.
TWL-What are some common reasons for you to reject a story?
DP-If a story is going to take up too much time to edit or cost too much to edit, I won’t be publishing it. If a story has potential but either the character or the plot needs development, then I won’t publish it. If there are spelling mistakes or misuse of common words I’ll likely not publish it. I encourage each author to take their work seriously and professionally because inspiring creativity and imagination in the world takes a lot of work.
TWL-Any overall tips you can offer to short story writers?
DP-Excellent question! Yes, these are some of the guidelines that I give in my workshop.
1) Make sure you understand what the magazine is about before submitting your work.
2) Ask for guidelines and make sure you adhere to them.
3) Have someone else (preferably an editor) read over your work before sending it in.
4) Please remember that a “no” isn’t a personal rejection. There could be a variety of reasons the publisher/editor has given that response. If you really believe in your work then please persevere because the world deserves to have another good story out there.
TWL-And finally how does a writer submit their work to you, how long before they hear a yes or no, and how much do they get paid?
DP-After receiving the guidelines, an author can send their work as a word attachment in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Putting a message in the email would be a nice touch too! In this case as the deadline is April 30 so we’ll have our decisions made by the end of May. Each author will receive $100 CDN plus an electronic copy of the issue they are published in.