Read the story of how 3Elements Review came to be

Read the story of how 3Elements Review came to be
(Image credit: Marlon Fowler)

Mikaela Shea Fowler is the founder and editor-in-chief of one the sleekest and smartest new journals to grace the literary world: 3Elements Review. Not only is the idea behind it incredible and inspiring (each submission cycle asks writers and artists to create a work based on an assigned three elements) but each issue is gorgeously put together by Marlon Fowler, Mikaela’s husband. Read my interview with Mikaela after the jump and be sure to submit to them before June 1st!


How did 3Elements Review come into existence?

 I’d been wanting to start a literary journal for a few years, but I wanted to do something unique. A few years ago, I was complaining that I didn’t know what to write (typical writer, right?), and he (my husband) gave me three elements that had to be in my story. We started doing this exercise each time I felt I didn’t have anything to write and it worked.  

 I recently finished the coursework for my MFA in fiction writing and after talking publishing with different professors and taking a course on fiction writers and publishing, I felt much more knowledgeable and better prepared to start a journal of my own.

 What work goes into producing this quarterly?

First, we blast a call for submissions through email, Facebook, Twitter, posters, and various websites. We vote on pieces as they come in, but try to wait until the end to accept pieces, as many people wait until the last day to submit, and we want to make sure we publish the best of the best.

After submissions close, we make final decisions about what will be in the issue, edit the pieces for major grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors, and put them in an order that feels right. My husband, Marlon, is the design guru, and he puts the issue together. We then proofread many times, because we’re all a bit nutty about having no errors. We want the issue to look professional and we want the writers to be proud to have their work in our journal.

(Image design by Marlon Fowler)

(Image design by Marlon Fowler)

 What are some of the trials and tribulations you face in publishing it?

The biggest problem we have is that many submitters do not read the guidelines! We get so many submissions without the elements in them. This results in an automatic decline, which doesn’t feel good for the writer, or us.

Another small thing is that people write their bios in first-person, which creates a lot of work for us when we compile the bios and place them at the end of the issue. I can’t tell you how many bios I’ve had to rewrite and spiffy up.

We’ve had a couple of submitters who want to make major edits to their pieces after we have already accepted one version. Most magazines I’ve worked with don’t allow this, and it creates a lot more work on our end. Imagine if every writer we accepted wanted to rewrite their piece!

 Who or what inspires you?

C.J., Parker, and Marlon inspire me, because running a literary journal is no easy task, but we share the workload and have a lot of fun doing it. I couldn’t have chosen a better group of people to share this experience with.

 What do you look for in the stories you publish?

We want stories to be in the moment rather than backstory. We want to feel something once we’re done reading and think about the characters long after we’ve finished. We want to encounter new ways of seeing things.

 What three words would you use to describe 3Elements Review?

Unique writing challenge.

 What can we look forward to in the future?

 We’re going to do a “best of the year” issue after our fourth issue comes out in July. We are going to hold contests in October, most likely for fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. We are also launching a teen version of 3Elements to give teenagers a platform for their work. Those are just a few of things we have up our sleeves!

A little more about Mikaela Shea Fowler…  

(Image credit: Mikaela Shea Fowler)

(Image credit: Mikaela Shea Fowler)

Mikaela Shea is in her thesis hours of her MFA at Columbia College Chicago. She has published stories in Midwestern Gothic, Foliate Oak Literary Journal, Hypertext Magazine, Paragraph Planet, Columbia College’s annual Story Week Reader, as well as a children’s book at the State Historical Society of Iowa. Mikaela is currently writing a novel and is Editor-in-Chief of 3Elements Review and 3Elements Review: Teen Writers.

Filed under: Interviews

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