Follow-up Interview with Tina Pollick

Back in December, I joined Tina Pollick as a guest on her blog for a three-part interview series about Spark: A Creative Anthology. Today, Tina invited me back for a follow-up to that series. Read the whole interview on!

Tina Pollick: Where do you see Spark a year from now? In two years? In five years?

Brian Lewis: In a year, Spark: A Creative Anthology will have four volumes in print, and we’ll be working on the fifth. I’ll have proof to someone besides myself that my vision is realistic and truly beneficial to writers! I have already spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars believing in this project, and the payoff for me will be to have others truly believe in it, too. I expect that I will always be covering costs and contributing financially to make Spark work, but in a year I hope to be moving toward the possibility of breaking even. (read more…)

Tina Pollick: What have you learned about the publishing industry, and what have you learned about getting an anthology off the ground?

Brian Lewis: One of the most amazing things I’ve learned is that outside of the “Big Publishing Houses,” the writing and publishing industries are much more collaborative and much less competitive than I believed. I’ve had great and very supportive conversations with staff at Writer’s Digest and Poets & Writers Magazine, telephone chats with executives at The Office of Letters and Light (the organization that hosts NaNoWriMo each year), and friendly interactions with dozens of professional authors who turn out to just be normal, good people. I have received support, encouragement, and even cross-promotion from the staff of Shadow Road Quarterly and Unstuck, both of which are publications I mentioned in our last interview.  (read more…)

Read full interview at!

Announcing Contest One: “Spark”

See the contest page for full details or to learn how to enter!



Your writing prompt for this contest is the single word spark. Contest One awards prizes for poetry and prose.

Prose includes both fiction and creative nonfiction, but we have not divided the category further because we believe that well-written creative nonfiction should tell a story so well that the result is indistinguishable from fiction.

Poetry includes all styles, meters, and rhyme schemes, or may be free-form.


Volume II Mockup

Grand Prize

We will award one Grand Prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Grand Prize winners will receive:

Second Place

We will award one Second Place prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Second Place winners will receive:

  • US$100.00
  • One-year subscription to Duotrope
  • Lifetime Premium Membership at Scribophile

Third Place

We will award one Third Place prize for poetry, and one for prose. Each of the two Third Place winners will receive:

  • One-year subscription to Duotrope
  • One-year Premium Membership at Scribophile


This contest is not endorsed, sponsored by, or affiliated with Duotrope. This prize was selected by Spark as a tool we admire and feel would be useful to contest winners, as it has been to us.

The Lifetime and One-year Scribophile Premium Memberships were donated by Scribophile.

“Ask the Editor” Interview with Tina Pollick – Part 3: Responses to Reader Questions

This week, I’m off visiting Tina Pollick as a guest on her blog for a three-part interview series about Spark: A Creative Anthology. Part 1 was “Interview with editor Brian Lewis.” Part 2 featured a discussion with some of the authors and poets to be published upcoming volumes of Spark. In today’s final installment, I answer questions posed by Tina’s readers. See my answers at!

Tina Pollick: What do you look for in a story—or a poem? Why?

Brian Lewis: It’s interesting that you say “story” and not just “submission”—and that’s actually important, because what we’re looking for is a story. Spark is looking for great writing that tells a compelling story, regardless of length. Even very short pieces, like flash fiction, should tell a story, though there will certainly be fewer dramatic elements developed than we’d see in a longer piece or novel. The presence of “story” is what distinguishes flash fiction from “vignette.” (read more…)

Tina Pollick: Do you provide comments when you reject a story?

Brian Lewis: We try to provide comments with every rejection. There have only been a few times where we really had nothing to say other than “No.” [. . .] When possible, we also provide suggestions for improvement.  (read more…)

Read the responses to these and other questions at!

“Ask the Editor” Interview with Tina Pollick – Part 2: Ask the Writers

This week, I’m off visiting Tina Pollick as a guest on her blog for a three-part interview series about Spark: A Creative Anthology. Part 1 was “Interview with editor Brian Lewis.” Part 2, posted today, features a discussion with some of the authors and poets already accepted for publication in upcoming volumes of Spark. Be sure to join us for the whole discussion at!

Here is a preview.

Tina Pollick: My guests for this preview are John Stocks, j.lewis and George Wells. Thank you for joining me.


Writers have different sources of inspiration. I was wondering: What inspired you to write your first story, poem, or book?

John Stocks: A teacher at secondary school encouraged me to contribute to an anthology of creative writing, which was produced by the school. In doing so they planted a seed that has only recently grown into a committed programme of work with people in my local community, leading community workshops and enabling others to experience the therapeutic beauty of reflective and creative self-expression, and the thrill of being published. The latest incarnation of this magazine, GANDA, Diverse Visions, launched in Sheffield, UK, in the last week of November.

j.lewis: The first poem I remember writing was about Robin Hood and Maid Miriam, inspired by reading a book about Robin Hood from the school library. I was eight years old, the poem was 3 or 4 pages long, and my mother didn’t believe I could have possibly written it. I was crushed and elated.

George Wells: I was told that I could write throughout all of elementary and high-school, and enrolled in a course in college. I didn’t finish a story in that class, only a few sketches. The project for the semester was to be a novel. I freaked out and dropped the class. I didn’t write another word of fiction for over ten years, but even then I couldn’t continue. I finally started to write seriously when I turned forty. I didn’t finish that story, but it’s still in my archives, and I hope to get back to it one of these days. I think more than anything, I needed the age and wisdom to say, “Why not?” and not be afraid anymore.

Tina Pollick: I, for one, am glad that you decided to write again, George. If you could choose one writer as a mentor, who would it be?

George Wells: Just one? Annie Dillard, Annie Proulx, Fannie Flagg are constant favorites, but the writer that always blew me away was Kurt Vonnegut. He hit all emotions in his writing, consistently, and in every story. In fact, I remember confronting my English teacher in my junior year of high-school, asking him why Breakfast of Champions wasn’t required reading. He laughed, and told me that he’d lose his job if he were to put that on the list.

I think that reading early on is a huge asset. Some stories that we read as children or young adults really stick with us. In some ways those books influence what kind of writers we may become.

Tina Pollick: j.lewis, you’re a poet, what other poets have influenced your writing? 

j.lewis: Carl Sandburg was the first poet I read that wrote in free verse, and that freed me from the notion that all poetry had to rhyme and be rigidly metered to be good. e. e. cummings made a strong case for lower case, and I have adopted that for the majority of what I write.

Tina Pollick: George, have any writers influenced your writing?

George Wells: Annie Dillard, Annie Proulx, Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Coupland. For dialog, I think that John Sayles has taught me the most about realistic conversations that are cleaner than real life without sounding false.

Tina Pollick: If you don’t mind, I’d like to get a little personal. What writers or works have influenced your life?

George Wells: For the Time Being, by Annie Dillard. I’ve read it so many times that the book has fallen apart. It seems random at first, but I love walking with her on her spiritual journey. It also has one of my favorite quotes, “For the world is as glorious as ever, and exalting, but for credibility’s sake let’s start with the bad news.” Douglas Coupland’sLife after God spoke to my own search for God, and I’ve read that many times as well.

Tina Pollick: And j.lewis, a slight twist on the same question: are there any poems or poets that have influenced your life?

j.lewis: Arthur H. King, one of the most intelligent, educated people I have had the pleasure to know, had an uncanny ability to make me feel simultaneously utterly ignorant, yet totally capable of being his equal.  He exposed me to the concept of “literary trash”, which he defined as any writing that was not honest, or that attempted to manipulate the reader into a desired response. By extension, he made it clear that manipulating other people in everyday life was equally inexcusable.

Tina Pollick: Thank you, John, j.lewis, and George for being my guests. Interesting and thought provoking answers. I look forward to finishing this conversation on my blog, where we will be joined by other Spark authors.

Continue to Part 3: Responses to Reader Questions

An Open Letter To Our Friends


Quote startI am committed to the idea that all contributors should be paid for their writing—whether they are experienced professionals or first-time submitters.Quote end  
— Brian Lewis, Editor-in-Chief

Dear Friend,

As Spark: A Creative Anthology enters the final hours of its Kickstarter fundraiser, please consider pledging a dollar or two and sharing the link with others. A pledge as low as $1 helps us reach our goal, and just $4 secures you an eBook copy of Volume I. Higher pledges come with rewards such as personal critiques and copies of the original artwork we will be using for the covers of our first volumes. Remember: Kickstarter operates on an “all or nothing” model: if we do not reach (or exceed) our goal, no pledges are collected and we get nothing.

Spark was founded with the goal of providing a high-quality market where emerging writers are published alongside established authors and poets. To maintain that high quality, I am committed to the idea that every contributor should be paid for their writing—whether they are experienced professionals or first-time submitters.

Unfortunately, while I am funding this project myself, I am only able to offer token and semi-professional payments. That’s just not enough. When you choose to support Spark: A Creative Anthology, not only are you getting great writing, you enable Spark to pay its contributors the professional rates I know they deserve.

Please take a minute to watch and share our Project Update video on Kickstarter or YouTube, read and share one of the recent news articles about Spark, and make your pledge at today.

Brian Lewis, Editor-in-Chief
Spark: A Creative Anthology

“Ask the Editor” Interview with Tina Pollick – Part 1

This week, I’m off visiting Tina Pollick as a guest on her blog for a three-part interview series about Spark: A Creative Anthology. Be sure to read the whole “Interview with editor Brian Lewis” at!

Here’s a quick excerpt.

Tina Pollick: Are there any publications or publishers that you admire?

Brian Lewis: Without hesitation, I’d say Stupefying Stories from Rampant Loon Press, edited by Bruce Bethke. There are handful of living writers who can say they’ve influenced writing or culture; I can’t think of any, besides Bruce, who have had such an influence on writing and culture that not only did the term they coined become part of our lexicon, but the whole concept became completely detached from and disassociated with the original writer. The term? Cyberpunk.

Now, with Stupefying Stories, Bruce Bethke is mapping the future of publishing through this direct-to-eBook monthly anthology, foregoing the expensive and inefficient traditional publishing model in favor of what is, in his view, the best way to distribute new fiction.

I’m also somewhat enamored with Unstuck and Shadow Road Quarterly. Unstuck is a “kindred spirit” publication in that they actively seek to publish emerging authors alongside established professionals; the cross-genre focus of their annual print & eBook release is “literary fiction with elements of the fantastic, the futuristic, or the surreal.” Similarly, Shadow Road Quarterly seeks literature without genre boundaries, is an online anthology accepting “writing that has, at its heart, characters that speak to us or experiences that echo through our minds even after the piece is finished.”

Shadow Road Quarterly is where I found To The River by George Wells, which I quickly solicited for reprint inSpark: A Creative Anthology, Volume III.

These three publications in particular, though there are several more, are important to me because they prove that there is still an interest in and demand for great short literature—and that there are still writers producing it.

Read more at …

Continue to Part 2: Ask the Writers

Continue to Part 3: Responses to Reader Questions

Join the Spark team as a Staff Reader / Screener!

To help us keep up with the positive response to Spark and process submissions in a timely manner, we seek two Staff Readers to join us immediately. This is an unpaid, volunteer position (as is Editor-in-Chief), but it may be listed on your resume/C.V. or used as a reference.

See the full job listing for details and to learn how to apply!

Now Accepting Submissions for Volume I (April/May 2013)

Spark is now accepting Poetry, Flash Fiction, Short Stories, and Creative Non-Fiction submissions for all genres for its April/May 2013 volume! View Submission Guidelines or submit your work now.

Please be sure to track your submissions and report your response times at Duotrope.

We are also accepting cover art proposals: see Artwork Submission Guidelines for details.