Our Writers' Guidelines
Quail Bell is committed to all that is imaginary, nostalgic, and otherworldly. That means the magical, the historical, the quirky, and the just plain weird. Our voice is witty and off-beat (even sarcastic at times)--never dry. Our staff strives to create a publication that is constantly informative, entertaining, and beautiful. We are selective about the topics we cover. After all, we're not just another fairytale rag. We'd like to think of ourselves as an edgy neo-fairytale* magazine that only occasionally dips into the cutesy. With all that in mind, if you are interested in contributing written content (stories, articles, essays, reviews, satire, etc.) to QB, please abide by the following guidelines:
• Get the topic right. We are not your average, general audience consumer magazine. Take a look at our content and you'll notice that what we run is a little...esoteric. Like-minded publications we recommend are Bust, Gothic Beauty, Cricket, Nylon, Vice, The Cyberpunk Apocalypse, RVA Magazine, Fairies, Fae, and Faerie. We are not, however, a carbon-copy of any of these magazines. There are plenty of differences between ours and theirs. Get to know what we run before you pitch an idea or submit a story!
• Be confident in your writer's voice. Get a little kooky. We like creativity, strangeness, sarcasm, and street smarts. We don't like stilted, boring voices that remind us of our least favorite grade school teachers.
• Check your grammar, mechanics, spelling, and overall flow. Avoid the passive voice except for rare points of emphasis or 'old-timey' elegance. Also be sure to vary your sentence structure so your piece isn't full of all super-long, medium, or super-short sentences. Mix it up! Your story should make sense and read well. We automatically reject any piece that has more than 5 typos. We're the only ones allowed to make mistakes! (Joke.)
• Always check your facts and double-check your sources. Be sure that your properly quoted people. Don't make up crap, unless you're writing a work of fiction. Do your research. Please maintain your journalistic integrity or steer clear of us.
Check out our full submission guidelines!
*Yeah, that's super-pretentious. Sorry.
The Leaf Fairy
By Luna Lark
A print of this piece is available in our Etsy shop.
By Holly Day
the giants sleep as the snow comes down
covering their lumbering bodies in sheets
of frozen white. their warm breath
carves holes in the unbroken
rolling hills, melts snow into runoff.
the giants sleep as the village children
come to explore the new snow-covered hills
drag heavy sleds up to the highest peaks
perch on broad shoulders, rounded hips, the tips
of bulbous noses, before hurling themselves into the air
crashing against the stunted trees down below.
when spring comes, the giants will awake
shake free the last bits of melting ice
before pushing up against the ground to stand.
they’ll see the fires of the nearby village
hold serious, heated discussions on whether to destroy
the tiny houses, the tiny people, or just ignore
the miniature urban landscape entirely
and go back to their own colossal homes, their monstrous families waiting
in the mountaintops, hidden by banks of billowing clouds
far, far away.
From One Blade of Grass to Another
By Christine Stoddard
If I loved you like you loved me, we'd have quite a love, the love of yesteryear.
And if the snags learned to speak and sing, maybe then I'd accept your diamond ring.
But you are a bear and I am a bee, so there's no use in climbing up that tree.
I'm poised to sting and turn your paws red as fire if you threaten to climb any higher.
You roar and growl and whimper in the night, yet such sounds will not bring me nearer.
What tale would we tell if Juliet had resisted Romeo or Isolt resisted Tristan?
If Guinevere had resisted Lancelot, Round Table stories wouldn't have been bought
from musty bookshelves in the back of labyrinthine shops or bins of discount films.
Empty all the kilns, smash the pottery, curse art and sculpture—I am not your creation.
By Michael Fontana
I’ve always had a thing for tomboys. That would explain the first girl that made an impression on me, round about nine years old, dragging me forcibly into a mud puddle and trying to pull down my pants. The rest kind of went that way as well. Fast forward into high school and the loveliest little tomboy there, brown hair in layers, cropped to the base of her ears, lots of denim, lots of down, and the funniest way of tickling me so that I collapsed into her arms where she purred into my ear. Amazing how that worked. Next thing you know we were without a stitch on the floor of the high school darkroom, pictures drying out above us while clipped to clotheslines, while we undulated and writhed, the janitors outside our door oblivious.
Which brings me to now: Forty-something and pursued by one Juanita, she of Arabica colored skin, she of jeans and sweatshirts, she of handmade jewelry, she of gray hair cropped close to the skull, an afterthought of surviving breast cancer. I was not the boy I used to be when the tomboys once pursued me. I was now a little round in the middle, not terribly but enough for me to notice, thinning hair, graying beard, a tree-trunk’s worth of lines around the eyes like to tell my age for me.
We met at a Unity Church for heaven’s sake. No pun intended. You know the drill: faintly New Age in orientation, all join hands and love each other, no conception of sin or evil, just a driven belief in the immaculate perfection of the universe and its plan for us. Not God but Spirit. I arrived in my folding chair there because I had been distinctly without any spiritual orientation for a long time. I purchased a Marianne Williamson CD on meditation and that was fine but not personal enough. Personal meant other people around me. I was growing isolated and beginning to talk to myself, worse yet answering myself, and recognized this as an issue.
So I put on my best Hawaiian shirt, a pair of khaki shorts, and some flip flops. I wasn’t about to attend any church that would require more ornate dress, as if what one wore bore any relation to higher powers. I took my chair in back, nodded into the hymnal they provided, when all of a sudden I experienced a tap on my shoulder. I looked up into the emerald eyes of she whom I would come to call Juanita.
“You’re new here, aren’t you?” She asked, already fully aware of the answer.
I for some reason became too choked to speak.
She took advantage of this lapse in voice. “Come join me, won’t you?”
She didn’t await my answer but gently tugged me by the elbow to standing, then to walking, until I arrived at the folding chair next to hers, hers already held in place by a Laurel Burch handbag. I plunked down next to her. The other women in the rows, for there were far more women than men and most of the men already appeared to be taken by some of these copious women, gave her a glare like to peck her eyes out. To this she merely smiled, triumphant and white-toothed, and then gave my hand a squeeze for good measure. I recognized the squeeze from other tomboys past. She had staked her claim on me with just that rapid and solitary gesture.
When the service ended, I made to leave. I shook her hand, thanked her for her hospitality, and turned on my heel toward the door. Again, the gentle pluck of my elbow like a bow-string.
“You can’t leave before the potluck,” she said.
“But I didn’t bring anything,” I said.
“That’s okay, there’s always more than enough. You’ll stay.”
So I stayed.
The food was all fine, a minimal amount of meat and lots of greens and grains. The conversation fluttered around me a lot, especially as yet another single woman approached. Trouble was, when a new one approached, Juanita would immediately insert herself into the conversation.
“I found him seated all by his lonesome in back,” she said, like a verbal code for the branding of ownership she had placed upon me.
Finally the other women gave up as quickly as they approached. She had made her stand.
I returned to the church again the following Sunday, and the Sunday following that, always intercepted at the door by a waiting Juanita, who guided me next to her. I finally worked up the gumption to explain to her that I was a lone wolf by nature, a bit of a lie but useful in such cases, when she cut me off at the proverbial pass, no pun intended.
“Would you like to have dinner some time?” She asked.
I was a wretched bachelor, lost after my second divorce, used to dinners of rotisserie chicken and granola. So this sounded like manna from heaven. Still, I put up minimal resistance. “Like what?”
“Like let me cook for you. I love to cook,” she said.
So I acquiesced.
I arrived at her house the Friday evening next, fresh out of work at my desk, the air conditioning huffing and puffing in my compact car, trolling down rural lanes until her tiny house emerged on the right hand side. It was brick, which for some reason surprised me as masculine until I recalled her general tomboyishness. I knocked on the door and heard a cat mewling behind it. Then Juanita opened up and motioned me inside.
Bowls and bowls of cat food adorned the floor, some of the food actually outside the bowls and directly occupying tiles. The rest of the kitchen was a pandemonium of felines, on the counters, on the floor, one even tracing circles inside the overhead light fixture. This set me back on my heels and seeking for an exit.
“I can come back at a better time,” I said.
“There’s no time like the present,” she said in response and guided me by elbow to a cushioned seat at a two-person table.
I sat there and grew more concerned about the abundance of cats. Fur wafted through the air, unfettered by body. I imagined it landing in the soup, collecting in my sinuses. I sneezed and took that as further evidence that my fears were well-founded.
“I really need to go,” I said. “I think I’m allergic to cats.”
“Oh nonsense,” she said, a hint of irritation creeping into her words. She pushed me down firmly by the shoulder back into my seat. “The food will be ready anon.”
So I waited, growing twitchy with the further intrusion of cats, now some sidling up to my socks and leaving their pollination on the tops. One hopped up into my lap and purred as if asleep face first in a saucer of heavy cream. It licked my hand with a sandpapery tongue and that was enough to bring me to hives. I lifted it up, set it down on the floor, and stood up. The cat then hopped up on the table and sniffed at the little platters of food Juanita had already set out. It proceeded to feast on a meatball, which I assumed held little or no actual meat at all.
“I really need to leave,” I said again, this time moving toward the door instead of malingering by the chair.
“But you can’t,” she said. “I’ve worked so hard on this meal.”
“I’m allergic,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
I shook her hand and then made for the door. Then the hand on the elbow, guiding me toward her.
“At least give me a kiss goodbye,” she said.
Oh sure, and then the crystalline tears formed in her eyes and suddenly she was not very tomboyish at all, which was the real downer about the situation: the cats were too much feminine, the tears too much feminine, all of it wrong, wrong, wrong for what I had come to expect from her.
Which was the problem in a nutshell: I had come to expect clichéd behavior from her, tomboy behavior, when in fact she was not a cliché, despite all the cats. She was a real, breathing human being, full and mature. I was behaving like I was back in the mud puddle with my pants being pulled down. I could make a choice here, which I did. I returned to the table and ate my tofu pot roast.
Which was actually damned good.
Showering with my Cat
By Lisa Pellegrini
Come, sweet kitty.
Do me this favor,
for your waitress,
for the one who spoils you--
even in dreams.
Kitty squirms in my arms
as the steam dampens
her patchy black and orange fur.
Whiskers flick water droplets
across the tile wall.
Kitty’s green eyes bulge out
like peridots about to squeeze
forth from her face.
Kitty’s tail smacks my face.
That’ll show me.
what is this?
Sandpaper tongue is licking my cheek.
I open my eyes.
What do I see?
Kitty plopped on the pillow beside me!
Alas, it was merely a dream.
All is well.
Kitty is still my best
and forever friend.