Monday, August 13, 2007


  • Magazine: LWOT
  • Editor(s): Ryan Ross
  • Pay rate: exposure
  • Description (from the editors): LWOT publishes the very best writing by the very best writers in Canada (and sometimes by Americans who pretend, in their cover letters, to be Canadian). We only publish fiction, though our understanding of the term fiction is pretty loose (and can be summed up, for the most part, by our title). Quite simply, if you're lying, it's fiction. (Takes all genres. More in guidelines.)
  • Submission Guidelines:

NOTE: Horror author D.L. Snell conducted the following interview to give writers a better idea of what the editors of this specific market are seeking; however, most editors are open to ideas outside of the preferences discussed here, as long as they fit the basic submission guidelines.

1) What authors do you enjoy and what is it about their writing that intrigues you?
Our editorial staff has pretty eclectic personal tastes, which is reflected in the kind of stories we like to publish (namely, anything). We read everything from John Updike and Thomas Pynchon, to Peter Straub and Bentley Little, and tend to be intrigued by technically proficient writing. That doesn’t necessarily mean dry and boring and straightforward, but prose that is--in some sense--easy to read. Like drinking a glass of milk, as opposed to drinking a glass of rock salt. For example, Lovecraft writes with amazing complexity, but still retains that milky smoothness. We’re also intrigued by absurd similes. The more absurd, the better.

2) What are your favorite genres? Which of these genres would you like to see incorporated into submissions to this market?
Our publishing mandate, set forth decades ago by founding editor George Ross, is summed up in our name: Lies, With Occasional Truth. If your piece is primarily lies based on some small bit of truth, we’ll publish it. It doesn’t matter if it’s horror, sci-fi, detective, fantasy, etc. Because we’re a literary magazine, it seems to scare off a lot of genre writers, but the fact is, literary stuff and genre stuff aren’t mutually exclusive. Anyone who argues that Lovecraft’s work isn’t proper literature is a cultural elitist, and should have the leather elbow pads torn from their tweed jacket.

3) What settings most intrigue you? Ordinary or exotic locales? Real or fantasy? Past, present, or future?
Personally, we think horror works best when it occurs in a familiar place. Surely you can write a wonderfully terrifying story that takes place in an imaginary world where marshmallows are domestic pets, and talking rainbows play third base for the Yankees, but horror seems to be a lot more effective when it’s applicable to everyday life. Something a reader can relate to. This, however, doesn’t limit you to writing about ghosts lurking in suburban two-car garages; one of the best recent horror books was Scott Smith’s “The Ruins,” which expertly maintained a sense of relativity while taking place in an exotic locale.

4) Explain the type of pacing you enjoy, e.g. slow building to fast, fast throughout, etc.
Because we’re an online publication we have strict limits on the length of stories we feature. We’ll very rarely go higher than 3,000 words, so that requires writers to quickly establish a setting, mood, and character. After reading the first paragraph, a reader should have a good sense of what direction you’re going to take them. As editors, reading hundreds of submissions every quarter, the first paragraph of a story often tells us everything we need to know.

5) What type of characters appeal to you the most? Any examples?
Once again, characters that are relatable. It’s hard to write an effective horror story with a protagonist that is difficult for a reader to identify with. While an ex-Navy Seal Milkman with pyrokinetic powers might seem like a fun character to write, it won’t be easy for a reader to find the common ground necessary for him/her to imagine themselves in their shoes, which, if you think about it, is what writing horror and suspense is all about. Writing horror and suspense is also all about having a thick, lustrous beard. Never forget that.

6) Horror and violence can be blatant a la Romero, or suggestive a la Hitchcock. Which one do you prefer and why?
Once again, we have very eclectic tastes. The original Dawn of the Dead is one of our favorite hangover cures, and our Managing Editor regularly reads submissions while listening to Bernard Herrmann’s classic score for Hitchock’s North by Northwest. A great horror story possesses a nice balance between shock and suspense; one should always lead into--and compliment--the other. Suspense can’t exist without first establishing the possibility of something shocking occurring. The two concepts, in this way, are inexorably intertwined. (Note to writers: awkward word-combinations like “inexorably intertwined” are frowned upon--and often mocked--by our editorial staff).

7) In fiction and in life, what do you find most horrific?
The fact that Dan Brown makes a living by writing books. Every aspiring writer should take solace in the fact that, no matter how inexperienced they might be, no matter how much they might struggle, it’s still very likely that they’re a better writer than Dan Brown. We are also horrified by coral snakes.

8) What are the top three things submitters to this market should avoid?
The greatest mistake that writers make when they submit their material is sending a first draft. First drafts, more often than not, aren’t very readable. After writing that last sentence of your story, you need to let it cool off for a while: a month or two, preferably. You need this new perspective in order to begin the process of chiseling away the excess material (of which there is inevitably a whole lot). When we read submissions, we can often tell, after a paragraph or two, whether a writer is sending us his first or seventh draft. Going back to that milk analogy, a first draft is like the warm, curdled stuff that comes directly from a cow’s udder, and a seventh draft is like the cold, delicious, pasteurized stuff that you drink with chocolate chip cookies.

The other two things that submitters should avoid are coral snakes and high-interest loans.

9) What are your top three pet peeves as an editor?
Because we are all writers ourselves, we have a great deal of patience with the submissions we receive. We know what it’s like to put the time and effort into producing a piece of fiction, and how nerve-racking it can be to send it out. Again, we really appreciate when writers send us their highest quality work (once again, we’re urging you to write your seven drafts). Our true pet peeves, as literary-types, are completely unrelated to process of managing the world’s greatest fiction magazine. They include: the proliferation of Dan Brown paperbacks, the misuse of the semi-colon, and lurking evil of Margaret Atwood’s Longpen.

10) What quality are you seeking most in submissions to this market?
Besides the generic answers that apply to just about everything (originality, innovation, spelling), an important thing that a lot of writers often overlook is humor. A dark, morbid, humorless tale is very, very difficult to pull off. There are few writers around--even popular novelists (see Koontz, Dean R.)--who can effectively pull this off, and even fewer readers want to spend their time wading through something relentlessly gloomy. A lot of beginning writers tend to get bogged down in a kind of over-seriousness, perhaps afraid that a little levity will compromise their work. In fact, it’s the opposite. A little bit of humor can often inflate a sense of terror. We’re not talking about banana-cream pies to the face, but maybe a tone of light-heartedness that can balance out the elements of horror. Joss Whedon does this quite well, and it’s the reason he’s one of the most popular television/film/comic book writers around?

11) Any last advice for submitters to this market?
We’ve been complaining for months that we haven’t been getting enough genre stuff, and because we’re all such horror fans, getting some good, quirky, scary stories into our next issue is our number one priority. Also, because we’re Canadian, we show a blatant bias towards writers north of the border, and, as well, to stories that somehow incorporate beavers, maple syrup, and universal health care coverage. We’re also biased towards writers with thick, lustrous beards. So, if you have one, send a picture along with your submissions.

D.L. Snell is an Affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association, a graduate of Pacific University's Creative Writing program, and an editor for Permuted Press. Snell's first novel, ROSES OF BLOOD ON BARBWIRE VINES, pits vampires against mutating zombies in a post-apocalyptic setting. David Moody, author of the Autumn series, calls it "violent and visceral...beautiful and erotic," and Jonathan Maberry, author of Ghost Road Blues, says, "[I]t has all the ingredients needed to satisfy even the most jaded fan of horror fiction." For more information and to read sample chapters, visit

This article may be freely reprinted in any e-zine, newsletter, newspaper, magazine, website, etc. as long as all links and this message remain intact, as well as Snell's byline and bio. The formatting may be adjusted to fit the venue, but the content of the article must not be altered without written permission from D.L. Snell.


Anonymous said...

Why the snide coment about Atwood's LongPen invention?? You mention Dean Koontz in the interview. I see he has done a number of LongPen events--because he doesn't fly! Norman Mailer at age 84 just did an event at the Edinburg Book Festival via the LongPen becuase he was too ill to appear in person. 700 people showed up. And what's wrong with saving carbon emmissions from diminished airplane travel? This invention can bring authors and events to places they otherwise wouldn't go. How in the world can you call that "evil"?

Anonymous said...

I think the Margaret Atwood comment was meant as a joke but either way don't you think the LongPen is a tad ridiculous? If she was looking to save carbon emissions she might want to get into a business that doesn't chop down trees. Sure, Norman Mailer had a good reason for not flying but what's wrong with Dean Koontz that he can't fly?