Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Interview with Christine Lajoie Golden of Golden Visions Magazine

Golden Visions Magazine is an online and print publication specializing in science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy and mild horror. We're honored to have editor Christine Lajoie Golden with us today for an insightful interview.

W1S1:  First off, how would you describe your role(s) at Golden Visions Magazine

Well, let me start off by saying that I started this little family run magazine because there seemed to be so few places willing to look at material by unknown writers. By this I mean all the big publishing houses want you to send in a physical manuscript (and with the spacing requests, etc.-- this meant tons of paper and ink), and a SASE (which is not a big expenditure) and you never knew if someone really read your material, or just skimmed a few paragraphs and tossed you in the 'slush pile'. Other sites either didn't pay anything, or had such a long response time that it seemed like you were waiting forever, and mostly for that dreaded rejection note...and they don't have the time or inclination to tell you 'why' they didn't accept your work.

Here, while we do reject 50-75 % of the material that we get, we try to offer some constructive criticism about why we weren't inclined to take a story...and yes, I've rejected several 'amazing' stories just because they weren't what we publish, which might be either genre based, or because the language was a bit iffy and the story was one that belonged to a more 'adult' site. We can't do that we every single submission, although we did at the beginning (because we had the time to do it then and subs were slower in getting to us). We try to read the entire story, but I must confess that I have had a few that were just so bad (and by bad I mean poorly written) that I just couldn't get past the first few lines. (that's when I skim and see if it gets better later rarely does.)

My role initially is pretty much doing everything...from reading each story, contacting authors with either suggestions or accepting or rejecting their sub, sending out contracts, doing the layout of the issue (both online and in print) helping proof the issues, paying the authors and mailing out magazines (when print issues were ordered) or sending out pdf copies when requested. Since we put out a quarterly publication in both print and online, and since both contained completely different stories, this was a lot of work. There's more, but I won't bore you with exact details.

I've since been fortunate to have an assistant who does the majority of the reading and even contacts the authors for me. Now I do the layout for the print issue, some artwork (oh yeah, I do a lot of that too, when I don't have something from a 'real' artist) and all the grunt work that comes with trying to put out a magazine. My husband does some reading for the contests, and makes several great suggestions for print issue, as well as paying all the bills that never seem to come out of the red. We do get some paying ads that help offset the costs, but we want to put out a magazine that folks can read, not an ad filled issue with a few stories tucked in for good measure. I have a Copy Editor that catches all the things that I miss (and at times that can be quite a lot), but basically it's just the four (sometimes five) of us that do what is needed to put out our quarterly offerings.

W1S1:  What are the top three things you look for in a story?

I like character driven stories...if an author creates a character(s) that I either love, hate, or can see come to life in the story, then I'm more forgiving if the story is slow to progress, or the plot is weak...but first and foremost I need to 'feel' something for the characters. A half-way believable plot (okay, now you're laughing...sci-fi and fantasy are the crux of our mags, so what do I mean by believable?)...but it's all in the way that the author presents the story. If it's written in a way that makes me forget that what they are writing about is impossible (at least according to the laws of physics and biology) then I'm a sucker for it. So I guess what I'm saying is that strong characters, a real plot and smooth writing style are the three things that I look for.

W1S1:  Typically, what makes the difference between a story's acceptance or rejection? 

Read the gall-darned submission guidelines! You wouldn't believe the stuff we get because folks don't take the time to read them! I specifically put that I DO NOT want stories about zombies because:
 1. I'm not a fan of those stories
 2. Very few folks seem to be able to write them well (I'm sick of reading gore about dismemberment and blood)
 3. I haven't found one that has a decent character driven story...heck, everyone I got made me cringe and reach for the delete button and a brown bag

While we accept only about 25-50% of the material we get, we try to explain why we didn't accept a story. The major reason for the majority of rejections is lack of a real plot...yeah, it's missing...MIA. Sometimes a story has a potentially interesting character, one that can pull a reader in...but it goes nowhere. NADA. John woke up, had breakfast, went to work, came home, and went to cares about that? Even if John is really an alien in human skin and lives in a rat infested basement eating wiggly things and flossing with electrical wire, unless he does SOMETHING, then the story has no plot. And with no don't have a story. You have an outline... a hint of a story...but you don't have a story.

If I see a story that has potential, but just isn't there yet, I'll suggest to the author that joining a critique group is helpful. After all, I am one person with specific tastes...and in a crit group you get lots of unique and different feedback. (some helpful...some not so much)

W1S1:  What fresh story ideas/themes/genres would you like to see submitted to Golden Visions Magazine this year?
Right now we are closed to regular subs, but our contest section is open. Lots of times they are theme based...but this one only has a picture to offer inspiration. To be perfectly honest, very little out there is fresh or new...writing is just about inventing a better mousetrap. In writing, the mouse is the reader and the author is the the author must offer his best 'cheese' in order to catch the editors attention.

W1S1:  Thanks, Christine!

So for all of you Write1Sub1ers out there who just might have a story to submit, go check out Golden Visions Magazine's contest guidelines here.

1 comment:

  1. I love the details offered here. Thanks for a great interview, Christine.