Spy in the Slushpile #12: City. River. Tree

Spy in the Slushpile #12 City. River. Tree.

Psssst! Over here! 

Notebooking Daily snuck agents into the offices of your favorite literary magazines to bring you—the potential submitter—the sweet low down, the inside track, the full two scoops of raisins. Everything you need to know to make as successful of a submission as possible will be here, but remember that the number one rule to putting your best foot forward is to take the time to read the journal you're submitting to and FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES. This is vital to show the editors that you respect their time and effort, and because some journals will reject submissions that don't extend the simple courtesy of following guidelines, without even reading it—and no one wants that.

Today we check in with our spy who hit the offices of the literary magazine City. River. Tree. 

Our dossier: 

City. River. Tree. is an online journal of short prose that also publishes yearly print anthologies. Modest, their 'About Us' page is a cheeky "This isn’t about us. Can you tell a story? Is it good? We’re here." A paying market, they pay  0.02 USD/word ($2 min, $10 max), with the length of stories they accept being 500 words maximum. They read email submissions all year via email. The best advice I can ever give for potential submitters is READ THE MAGAZINE. It is vital. Can you imagine your writing in that context? Next to the pieces that you're reading, would your piece fit in? 

Our spy is back from their 'unspecified hiatus' and they're back to half-assing it! We see you in that groot costume. You're not blending in. But nevertheless, we're glad to have our spy back and on the job! Today they've infiltrated the offices of the online literary journal City. River. Tree. and returned with some information that you may find helpful in guiding your potential future submission. 
1) Is there any genre, topic, theme or stylistic that you are surprised you don't see more of, or that you would like to see more of? For instance prose poems, stories about organized sports (or one in particular), non-conventional family narratives, non-standard typography, alternate history, high sci-fi, hybrid pieces utilizing white space... 
TL;DR I wouldn't kick these submissions out of bed for eating crackers. (updateable, if the interview results in an unwanted flux of submissions)
On our submissions page we have asked for what we call “pictographs.” Our version of a “pictograph” is a story told through the use of simple, hand-drawn, pictures or symbols. It’s similar to hieroglyphics, but ours is cooler.
2) Hard sells—and not just the standard (though very important) "don't send hateful, misogynist, racist etc" work. Is there a plot, trope, character, motif, idiom or even phrase you would like people to think twice about before using? One that you see a ton, or that stick out when you're reading, in a negative way for whatever reason.
TL;DR Hard sells.
We get overtly religious submissions, though we have accepted some, that’s definitely a hard sell for us.
3) To your tastes, how would you describe the sort of "experimental" writing you seek? The idea of categorizing experimental or avant-garde writing is very slippery, as it means different things to different people, and it can even change over time from the same person's perspective. So in this moment, allowing that tomorrow you may feel differently and we won't hold you to it, what are you looking for in experimental writing? Is there a 'soft line' where it begins to lose meaning or goes too far (say, where you think the author/artist's intentions are subverted or hurt by the radical level of experimentation—of course allowing exceptions, we're not issuing challenges here), or perhaps a 1-10 scale with 10 fully embracing the avant-garde and 1 wanting no part of it at all. 
TL;DR The journal's place on the spectrum of 'experimental'.
The story must be clear. We encourage a liberal use of experimentation, but we must understand what is happening. If we can’t, we don’t publish. Keep it simple, stupid — not you of course.
4) If you could speak directly to a potential submitter as a voice in their head, like their 'submission conscience', neither angel nor devil but bookish nerd that wants the person to have the best chance with their submission as possible, what would you want them to be sure to do or consider when submitting? 
TL;DR Please consider this when submitting.
Please put the body of your story in the email and don’t send attachments! 
5) What do you think differentiates prose poetry from flash fiction (or micro fiction), with the caveat that of course there will be exceptions to all 'rules' in writing, so it's something of a soft 'line' by nature.
For us, there is absolutely no difference. It’s a rose with a different name.

6) What other journals do you really enjoy reading, or do you feel especially akin to?
The Wall Street Journal is a literary must!

7) What three things/aspects/characteristics on the writing level would you say are especially effective or prominent in most ideal submissions?  

Clarity of the language. Clarity of the story. Clarity of the characters. Is that too simplistic? I think not.

8) I want a submission to make me _____. Rank the following into three tiers: 1) most important, 2) somewhat important, 3) a nice addition/indifferent. Cry, Laugh, Think, Relate to it, Reread it for nuance, Ruminate on the message, Read it aloud (so I can better appreciate its sound), ______ (something of your own).

Here’s a leaderboard of what’s important to us: 1) Laugh 2) Cry 3) Think about it/ponder message 4) Read aloud to relish in the language 5) Relate to it 6) Reread it for nuance. The story becomes something almost tangible when it evokes an emotional response. 


The editors were onto our spy from the start, they were rusty from all of their time off afterall—I mean, come on, Groot? However, they returned with the goods so who are we to complain? Hopefully these answers and links have been helpful in helping future submitters select their pieces. This has been another installment from the Spy in the Slushpile.