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Editor Interview: Liquid Imagination Ezine

Q: Describe what you publish in 25 characters or less.

A: Fic/poetry with art

Q: What other current publications (or publishers) do you admire most?

A: There are many markets out there, both in print and online, and both paying and for-the-love, that are top-notch quality publications. Silverblade and Aurora Wolf are two of the premiere fantasy-related markets on the web, and the quality of the fiction and the aesthetics of the sites are continually impressive.
Perhaps my favorite print publication is Morpheus Tales out of the UK. Like Liquid Imagination, they include artwork with selected stories, but whereas LI utilizes pre-existing art that accents a certain story or poem well, Morpheus Tales employs artists who create original pieces for their fiction. I have never been less than amazed by Morpheus Tales' presentation.

Q: If you publish writing, who are your favorite writers? If you publish art, who are your favorite artists?

A: We publish such a wide range of fiction that there aren't specific writers whom I would say we emulate. As the fiction editor, I can say that my favorite speculative authors are H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Ray Bradbury, Dan Simmons and the like, so many of the horror and sci-fi tales I accept tend to follow the paths these past masters have traversed so expertly.
I'll be the first to admit that poetry is not my strong suit (other than Yeats, I don't read it), but our poetry editor Chrissy Davis does a phenomenal job in that department.

Q: What sets your publication apart from others that publish similar material?

A: Several things: First, all of the fiction, both speculative and literary, and poetry we accept are accompanied by several pieces of art. Our staff scours the web looking for the perfect paintings, illustrations, and photographs to augment the writing, and the writing adds an new layer of meaning to the pre-existing artwork. Furthermore, every story is read aloud by radio personality Bob Eccles, and each poem is accompanied by an original piece of music created and performed by Brandon Rucker. Previous contributors have praised LI for presenting their stories and poems in such diverse types of media, from words on a page to amazing pieces of art, from a dramatic audio rendering to a moving piece of acoustic guitar in the background.

Q: What is the best advice you can give people who are considering submitting work to your publication?

A: First, make sure you have at least a rudimentary grasp of grammar and spelling. As editor, I obviously do not mind working with an author in this regard, and in LI's infancy I would spend long hours perfecting a poorly edited submission if I felt the story itself was good enough, but now that we have achieved some success and the submissions are more frequent and of higher quality, I do not have the time to walk a writer through the basics.
Second, give us intensity and awe. The story must pack some kind of emotional impact, whether that emotion is terror, laughter, sadness, or eye-widening wonder. A story can be written by the most talented author in the world, but without intensity and emotion, the story is flat and uninteresting.

Q: Describe the ideal submission.

A: I accept a vast array of stories, but ideally? It would be 2-5K words, with a main character that the reader both cares and roots for. Whatever central emotion is at the heart of the story would be prominent and intense. A horror story should chill my spine, a humor piece should make me laugh out loud more than once. It would be void of cliches, exposition and unnecessary adverbs. I'm not a stickler for any specific formatting, but the manuscript would be professional in appearance and show signs that it was proofread more than once for typos and editing errors; an unprofessional submission shows a lack of respect for both the craft and the market to which it is being submitted. I also don't believe that pre-established "rules" of fiction have to be adhered to; rules are meant to be broken in the interest of originality, but this does not include sloppy writing.

More than anything, the submission will stick with me and make me want to read it several times for the sheer enjoyment of the piece.

Q: What do submitters most often get wrong about your submissions process?

A: Like I said, the formatting is not a big deal to me. I don't understand when a market demands submissions in .rtf with 12-point Arial font and no paragraph breaks and seven specific pieces of information included in the top left corner and no straight quotation marks, etc. The story is all that matters to me.
That being said, the most common errors that turn me off about submissions are poor use of grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Proofread your work, and learn when it is appropriate to use a comma! I have rejected wonderful stories before because it would have taken me hours to edit all the mistakes.

Q: How much do you want to know about the person submitting to you?

A: None of this matters to me. If accepted, I will ask for a short bio, but publication credits are not important to me. I absolutely love publishing first time authors. Likewise, a writer with a hundred credits to his name is capable of writing a story that doesn't interest me personally. I would just rather not know.
That being said, a sincere, polite greeting with the submission email does put me in a better state of mind when reading the actual story! I'm only human.

Q: If you publish writing, how much of a piece do you read before making the decision to reject it?

A: In the beginning, I used to read every piece to the end, but now that I receive many more submissions, I will stop reading a story if it is obvious to me that I will not be accepting it due to either poor writing or an uninteresting story. This is rare though. I am a firm believer in workshopping with a contributor if I think the story shows great potential, so I will usually read a questionable story to the end in the hopes that it has an ending incredible enough to warrant some one-on-one work with the writer.

Q: What additional evaluations, if any, does a piece go through before it is accepted?

A: The piece will be read and edited by myself and two others (John "JAM" Miller and Sue Babcock), but I have the final say on acceptances and rejections, at least for the main fiction page of each issue. Occasionally LI will have contests, in which case several editors will discuss and vote on the winners.
Since I never know how many quality submissions I will receive each month, and there is no set limit to how many or few stories I take, I usually place potential acceptances on a short list and revisit them when it is time for final selections for an issue.

Q: What is a day in the life of an editor like for you?

A: Since I am also trying to have a successful writing career of my own (aren't most editors?) I don't read submissions every day. But when it is time for me to check the slushpile and get to work, I read the subs in order of submittance. I will read through the story once and get a general idea of how it affects me emotionally. Stories I enjoy will be revisited a second time in a few days to see if they hold up over time. If it makes the cut for the short list, I will then notify the contributor. Once final cuts are made, I will discuss any editorial suggestions I may have over a certain story with the writer, and final selections will be made accordingly. So it is basically a three-step process. It does consume quite a bit of time, but seeing the finished product every issue and hearing back from elated contributors makes every second worth it.

Q: How important do you feel it is for publishers to embrace modern technologies?

A: I am slowly beginning to understand the importance of utilizing today's technology. John "JAM" Miller, the brains behind LI's concept, has always found the best way to do this, including his ideas to incorporate audio and music into our issues. I was very anti-My Space and Facebook for a long time, but after using these services to market my own work, I now understand how beneficial social networking sites can be when trying to inform the masses of your product. Behind JAM's innovative and plotting mind, I can see LI as a forerunner in the newest and most original uses of technology.
Despite the fact that I will forever be a hands-on reader, preferring the touch of paper over a hand-held electric device when reading, I understand that ebooks are an integral part of fiction's future, and I will not hesitate to use these products to market LI and try to attract new readers.