Welcome to Craft Talks. In this bi-monthly post, we’ll have a mini-interview with our own editors about craft, what they look for in submissions, and all things writing.
Today, I talked with Colleen Kearney Rich, Fiction Editor. She told me about her recent publication, Linda Hogan, and the delight of surprise in submissions.
1. Tell us about yourself and your position at Literary Mama.
I am a magazine editor and writer by day. I edit the alumni magazine at George Mason University in Virginia, where I also got my MFA. I have published a chapbook of flash fiction, Things You Won’t Tell Your Therapist (Finishing Line Press, 2019). I also have another chapbook coming out from A3 Press in 2021 that I’m really excited about. Titled Bunnyman Bridge, it is about a local urban legend and is kind of an artist’s book/zine. I love artist’s books.
I have worked at Literary Mama for a number of years, starting off in Book Reviews before moving to Fiction, where I am co-editor with Felicity Landa. I have three grown children and two granddaughters.
2. Is there a passage, sentence, or line of a poem that you absolutely adore? Why is it so good?
It is also poetry, this science, and I note how often scientific theories lead to the world of poetry and vision, theories telling us how atoms that were stars have been transformed into our living, breathing bodies. And in these theories, maybe they should be called stories, we begin to understand how we are each many people, including the stars we once were, and how we are in essence the earth and the universe, how what we do travels clear around the earth and returns. In a single moment of our living, there is our ancestral and personal history, our future, even our deaths planted in us and already growing toward their fulfillment.
– Linda Hogan, “Hearing Voices”
I really love this passage from an essay called “Hearing Voices” by Chickasaw poet Linda Hogan. I used this as the epigraph in one of my failed novels. She is writing about poetry, but I really believe it pertains to all storytelling and the timelessness of story. I really speaks to me about what making art is all about.
3. What do you look for in submissions? What type of writing grabs your attention?
I really enjoy innovative approaches to storytelling—writing that surprises me. We are fortunate to get a nice variety of pieces in our in box that highlight different aspects of the mothering experience. Voice is really important too. I really like tight stories in which every word matters. This may be because I’ve written a lot of flash, which are stories under 1,000 words. But I’ve found that if a story doesn’t work, it is often because the writer tried to do too much and lost the thread of the main story. In journalism, they call it “tight and bright,” and I think that is a great description.
One way Literary Mama differs from a lot of journals is our willingness to work with writers on revision if a story is close. Often these stories are just a tad overwritten and maybe didn’t stick the ending. By cutting a phrase or two and paring down descriptors, you would be surprised how quickly you can bring more energy to a story.
Read something you liked? Let us know in the comments!