Becca Spence Dobias, Fiction Editor

What do you look for in a story you upvote for publication?

I want to be hooked right away. In a short story, I should have an idea of the conflict within the first paragraph. Many stories try to be a “slice of life” but that usually doesn’t work for me with short stories unless it’s a really unique world or character.

What would you like to see more of in the submissions to Inlandia, and what would you like to see less?

I’d love to see more Inland Empire specific fiction! Give me all the strip malls, Baker’s, and warehouses! Give me less violence against women. It’s not edgy or interesting.

What tips would you give unpublished writers who are trying to get their first story or group of poems published in a literary journal?

Have someone read your story before you submit it. Make sure it’s someone who will give you constructive feedback. Listen to that feedback! We hear a lot of advice about persistence in submitting, and that’s important, but persistence in revision is important first. Learn all you can about craft. Read tons of good writing. Keep improving.

What writing projects are you working on now?

I’m working on the third round of developmental edits for my novel. I crowdfunded with Inkshares and got 750 preorders in 60 days, so now they’re putting out my book. It’s great because I was able to demonstrate that there’s an audience for my book, and now I get the traditional publisher experience–in-depth editing, cover design, and marketing. It’s tough to crowdfund, and the editing process is grueling, but I know I’ll have a fantastic book at the end of it. I’m also working on the final pieces of putting together our second annual Writing Bloc anthology. Writing Bloc is a unique community. It’s wonderfully supportive and cooperative. We really want to support indie authors.

What else do you do that brings you joy?

My children are incredible! I also lead outdoor classes for young children with an organization called Tinkergarten. Lately the banjo is bringing me a ton of joy too!

What book have you read recently that you think would be helpful to emergent writers? What book have you read recently that you love and are recommending to all your friends?

I think all writers should read Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Some fantastic fiction I’ve read lately includes Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L Sanchez, and Southernmost by Silas House. They all have wonderfully immersive prose that brings you right into a world within the larger world of the US. That’s what I want to see for the Inland Empire.

Table of Contents