Posted in editor interviews

A Chat with Kevin Duffy of Bluemoose Books

bluemoose-books

Bluemoose Books is a UK based publisher and here’s my interview with co-owner, Kevin Duffy

What prompted you to launch Bluemoose Books and how long have you been in business?
Kevin Duffy-I won a national writing competition and was whisked down to London to meet the editorial director of Macmillan and an agent from Curtis Brown at The Ivy. It didn’t go well. The following year I read that all the big advances were going to Irish writers, so I became Irish and changed my name to Colm O’Driscoll, sent off the first three chapters and waited. Darley Anderson contacted me and signed me up. He wasn’t too disappointed that I wasn’t Irish. However, after 12 months he couldn’t get a publisher, humour not being in vogue and the rights reverted back to me. I moped for a bit complaining about how hard it is for new writers to get published and Hetha my wife said well, let’s do something about it, so we re-mortgaged the house and started Bluemoose. We published my novel ANTHILLS AND STARS and THE BRIDGE BETWEEN by Nathan Vanek and we’ve been publishing ever since 2006.

Tell us about some of the editors and staff who work at Bluemoose?
KD-We have four freelance editors. Hetha, Leonora Rustamova, who teaches and is an author too, her book STOP DON’T READ THIS has been sold to ITV productions, Lin Webb, who is just a brilliant editor and Pippa McCarthy, who used to write for Emmerdale and EastEnders. And then there is me, but I don’t edit.

Are there any upcoming titles you’re especially excited about and why?
KD-Our latest title is CAFÉ ASSASSIN by award winning Michael Stewart. Wonderful tale of betrayal and revenge. Here is a brilliant review in The Daily Mail. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/books/article-3002985/THRILLERS.html His debut novel KING CROW won The Guardian’s NOT THE BOOKER in 2011 and was a World Book Night recommended read. We’re also publishing THE SECRET TO NOT DROWNING by Colette Snowden in July which is an utterly brilliant story of how one woman copes with the emotional abuse in her marriage. A stunning book that very woman and man should read. It should win every prize going but probably won’t. Watch out for this book though, beautifully written.

What are you especially looking for right now? Is there any genre or style of book you’d love to publish but can’t seem to find?
KD-We’re always on the lookout for stories that are brilliantly told, engage and inspire the reader. We don’t publish children’s, short stories or poetry.

What are some of main reasons you reject a manuscript?
KD-We reject anything that is badly written and doesn’t engage and excite the reader, oh and if it tries to be too tricksy, all style over substance.

Do you ever give detailed reasons for rejection or encourage writers to resubmit based on any suggestions you offer?
KD-We don’t give detailed reasons for rejection but if we think the writer has something, we will encourage them to send us other work.

Bluemoose Books is an award winning Independent publisher
http://www.Bluemoosebooks.com @ofmooseandmen.

Posted in editor interviews, Meet The Editor

Meet The Editor-Shimmer

Here’s a new feature I’m launching on the site. I’ve always enjoyed reading about publications and especially like learning what they are and aren’t looking for. So hope you enjoy this debut with the editors of Shimmer.

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Tell us about yourselves and how Shimmer began?

Shimmer is Beth Wodzinski’s fault. She was critiquing a lot and kept seeing stories she liked more than were showing up in the pro magazines. The stories still needed a lot of work–but she had always been interested in editing… One tiny thing leads to another! “Not knowing any better was definitely part of it,” says Beth.

Mary Robinette Kowal was instrumental in the early days and became Shimmer’s first art director. She was also the one who instigated a print edition. E. Catherine Tobler responded to a call for slush readers in 2006. Reading slush led to editing stories, and that led to buying the stories themselves. One thing still leads to another…

What sort of stories do you publish?

Shimmer publishes stories of a speculative nature — science fiction and fantasy, generally with an emphasis on contemporary fantasy. We do skim into historical fantasy doings from time to time. Shimmer prefers stories that focus on their characters and show a full and complete journey.

You publish horror which I know is a tough genre to categorize. Any tips for writers thinking about sending you a horror story? What’s acceptable and what’s not?

Shimmer has dabbled in horror, but what one considers horror another might not. Stories we have published that might qualify are “Food My Father Feeds Me, Love My Husband Shows Me” (A.A. Balaskovits, #14) and “Girl, With Coin” (Damien Angelica Walters, #17), “Love in the Time of Vivisection” (Sunny Moraine , #17).

Shimmer always, no matter what genre, wants a story that is character-oriented. When it comes to horror, we are not a place to send splatterpunk or body horror. Shimmer tends toward psychological horror more than physical–even in “Vivisection,” the horror comes from the thought process, not what is happening to the body.

I know this is a tough question for editors, but if you had to pick one story that you’ve published, one that is the best example of the stories you look for, what would it be?

There is definitely a Shimmery ideal in the world, and if I had to narrow it to one story (focusing on the past year, to give readers a better idea of what we are currently into), I would say it’s K.M. Ferebee’s “The Earth and Everything Under” (#19). It is a story set in the real world, but with tethers into another. It has the lyrical language we tend to lean toward, and characters that change and grow over the course of the story.

Once a writer submits their story how long before they get a yes or no?

We usually respond to writers within three weeks. This is one reason we don’t take simultaneous submissions. Stories that go into the maybe stack can have a longer secondary wait–we always inform authors if the story is being held.

Do you ever give feedback on rejected stories or ask a writer to rewrite and resubmit?

We do try to give feedback with our rejections, though it isn’t as common as it used to be. Rewrite requests are also somewhat rare; if we see a story that is 99.9% Shimmery, and we have an idea how to add that extra something, we do ask for a rewrite, but even these do not guarantee a sale.

Are there any types of stories that you’d like to publish but never seem to find?

We would love to see more stories where women have agency, are shown as actual people, and aren’t used as rapey plot coupons. Stories where women ACT and DO and ARE. We would love to see more diverse stories; stories by and about people of color; stories featuring older protagonists; stories that are not focused on the US or the UK but take a broader look at the world and universe.

What about stories you don’t want to see or common mistakes writers make?

Stories we “don’t want to see” are hard to define; sometimes, we don’t know we’ll fall in love with a story until we see it. “Girl, With Coin” is a good example of that, as it doesn’t actually contain a solid speculative element. We hope writers won’t make the mistake of self-rejecting.

Common mistakes can generally be attributed to writers not reading the guidelines. We see a lot of writers shooting us every story in their inventory in rapid succession, without pausing to think if the story is a good fit for Shimmer. Persistence is awesome–it’s not repeated submissions that are a mistake, but unthinking submissions. Consider the market, read the market, you will improve your chances.

Posted in editor interviews

My Chat with Darlene Poier, Publisher of Pages of Stories

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 info@pagesofstories.com. 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.