FAQ with Team Iris!

Here's a rundown of some of the most frequently asked questions Team Iris receives. Have your own question? Send us a message via the contact form, send us an email, or tweet @creatingiris with #AskIris and we'll get right back to you. 

Q. Do you moderate submissions with rubrics?

A. No. We don't have a checklist of 'must-haves,' and we edit every accepted piece individually, so a few comma splices certainly won't disqualify a submission. We ask all staff readers to choose work that speaks to them first and foremost. 

Q. Are staff members allowed to submit to the magazine?

A. Staff members may submit to the magazine under a pseudonym, to preserve anonymity during the moderating process. So, their work is read blind just like everyone else's, and subject to the same discussions as others. Because we allow (encourage!) staff to absent themselves from moderating submissions that are triggering for them, we actually don't even notice when someone does not participate.* Fun fact: our former fiction editor Apolline Weibel holds the record for longest anonymous-staff-writer - we didn't know she was the author of her piece in the first issue of Iris until a week before the issue went live.

*This is very true. All a staff member needs to do is note 'cw' on the submission - no further explanation needed - and they are not required to read the work in question or participate in any discussions. We do not ask any questions because we take trigger/content warnings very seriously. 

Q. Do you accept a piece including violence/rape/death/drugs/_____.?

A. In general, the answer is no. We cannot accept pieces that portray sex or drug use because Iris is used as a teaching tool in schools, libraries, and youth groups. There's an expectation in those multi-age spaces that the writing be appropriate for the youngest of the bunch, which means that in terms of graphic content, the magazine is produced for readers slightly younger than our target 14-17 age range. 

Now, if the question is, 'can I talk about violence/rape/death/drugs/______?', the answer is a (hesitant) yes. We welcome pieces that talk about these important issues. We just can't print graphic violence or depictions of sex and drug use. If in doubt, send us an email. I don't bite and I generally reply within 24 hours!

Q. How do you feel about personal essays/creative-nonfiction-that-is-loosely-based-on-my-life?

A. Personally, I love creative nonfiction! Favorite genre. In the magazine, however, it gets a little tricky. If you are submitting a piece of creative nonfiction, please (a) let us know, and (b) tell us in writing that it's been fictionalized. In no way can we run a story in which the people who inspired the characters might recognize themselves. When in doubt, send me an email! 

Q. Do you have different standards for submissions by young authors?

A. No. Because everything is read blind, we do not know if the writer is under eighteen. However, if I notice that I am declining a young author, I do try to recommend other publications that might be a better fit.

Q. I want to bring Iris to my church/school/library/YMCA/etc. How do I do that?

A. Let your adult leader know about Iris and ask them for their contact info. Let them know that you will pass it along to me (or, if they want, have them reach out to me - HI I'M AMANDA, IT'S NICE TO MEET YOU - directly). I'll send them an email to introduce Iris and take it from there. They can email me at amanda(at)creatingiris(dot)org.

Q. I have an idea for you! How do I share it?

A. Use the form on our Contact page, or send me an email. Send me all your ideas, guys. Providing they fit within Iris's goals, we promise we'll do our best - manpower and finances permitting - to make them happen. 

Happy Mother's Day!

Team Iris is lucky to have an awesome mom-in-chief on our staff! Roseann (Amanda & Maria's mom) has a background in psychology, and she serves as our Editorial Board Advisor. When you write to us for advice, she's actually the one who answers you! She also maintains our list of resources for LGBTQ+ youth in need (for which she's always looking for suggestions!). She (and Amanda's dad!) has been an integral part of Iris from the very beginning, from offering ideas and suggestions to providing incredibly generous financial support. We are so very grateful to have her on our team!

If you have a mom or grandma, stepmom or godmother who's always been there for you, we hope you take a minute to thank her today. But we also know that Mother's Day can be a difficult one for many young people, for many different reasons.

So, please take a moment to thank an important lady in your life. It doesn't matter who she is; what matters is that you get to tell her what she means to you. After all, today is really about celebrating powerful, strong women who've made a difference in our lives. However you decide to celebrate today, take a minute to reflect and think on the women who have impacted you.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom - and to all the women who support our youth, thank you.

Joyeux Anniversaire, Marylou!

Today is our wonderful illustrator Marylou Mao's birthday! We're lucky to have her as part of our team, and to feature her beautiful work in Iris. Marylou, we hope that this year brings you nothing but exciting opportunities, fun challenges, and much happiness!

You should totally go wish Marylou a happy birthday, and check out her portfolio while you're at it!

New Submissions Manager!

As our reading period gets underway, we wanted to take the opportunity to explain our new submissions procedures! As always, you can find our  full guidelines for submission here.

Submitting to Iris is easy! Just send an email to creatingiris@gmail.com with your submission as an attachment. Please do not use this email address for anything other than submitting your work. We will simply not see your email in a timely manner. Because the script is automated, we check in on a weekly basis, but that's it. All questions regarding submissions should still be directed to submissions@creatingiris.org.

It is really important that your submission be sent as an attachment. And because we read submissions blind, we ask that you include only the title in the attachment itself. Please don't include your name or bio in the attachment! That goes in the email text. Please use the this cover letter as the text of your email.

And that's it! We can't wait to read your work!

Call for Submissions!

We are excited to open submissions for our third issue, themed 'change'! We seek high-quality fiction, poetry, and artwork that engage with our theme and feature LGBTQAI aspects! We're also pleased that we will welcome submissions from young authors beginning with this issue.

Please download our official call for more information, and visit our submissions page to learn how our submission procedures have changed. 

As always, thank you for your support and for sharing your work with us!

The second issue of Iris is now available!

We are so excited to finally share the latest issue of Iris: A Magazine of New Writing for LGBTQ+ Young Adults. It features fiction, poetry, and illustrations (by zeeloo) that engage with LGBT+ themes. Too often, YA literature marginalizes the queer spectrum - Iris aims to fill that void. 

The theme of this issue is “Histories,” and inside you’ll find works that explore that theme from incredibly varied perspectives. Our cover art, by the talented Natalya Bakay, features Ethel Waters, a famous lesbian African-American jazz singer. The issue also features illustrations by Marylou Mao.

We are especially excited to announce that this is the first issue to feature a young author! We are so glad to say that we will begin accepting submissions from young contributors for our next issue!

We hope you enjoy the magazine. All pieces in the magazine appear because their creators wanted you to read and see them - our contributors donate their talent, and we are so grateful to them for their generosity.

Happy reading!!

Second issue to be released!

To our Iris family:

The second issue of Iris, 'Histories,' will be released Tuesday, 14 April! We are excited to share it with you and so very grateful to our wonderful contributors. However, given our quietness on social media and the site, we felt you deserved more than just a surprise announcement. We are posting this letter to apologize for - and explain - the months of silence here at Creating Iris.

The reasons for our absence from the web are many. We had a lot of difficulties to overcome in these past months, as well as some happy things that, unfortunately, distracted us from Iris. Members of team Iris have started graduate programs and college; embarked on gap years; lost jobs; found new jobs; etc. There simply wasn’t time to devote to Iris when there were so many other responsibilities putting pressure on us, and we did not want to release an issue that was not the best it could be. Technological problems with our email manager compounded the difficulty and added to our apparent lack of communication, as we have learned that over the course of a server change, we lost some emails, never received others, and discovered that some emails we’d thought were sent actually never went through.

We are very excited to release the second issue, and we hope that you enjoy it! We apologize so sincerely to our wonderful contributors who have trusted us with their work and treated us with such respect, patience, and understanding.

We are especially excited to announce that this issue is the first to feature writing by a young author. Beginning with the next submissions cycle, we will accept submissions from writers under the age of eighteen. This change in our policy is the product of a lot of research into publishing conventions and an investment in a more robust submissions manager. More information will follow in the coming weeks. However, we are so excited to publish writing by the young people for whom we write.

Iris is, as it always has been, made possible by our wonderful contributors and staff, who give so generously of their time and talents. Thank you for your support, patience, and love. We look forward to being much, much more active, and getting to know you all all over again.

With love and gratitude,
Amanda, Bex
and all of team Iris

Meet Team Iris: Illinois Safe Schools Alliance Edition!

I'm really excited to be tabling, with our awesome staff writer Maria, at the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance's spring Youth Summit tomorrow in downtown Chicago! If you'll be attending the summit, please stop by and say hi! We are so looking forward to meeting some of the young activists whose passion for social justice inspires us. 

We should be pretty easy to find; just look for the pennant banner that reads 'IRIS'! Our fantastic design team has made bookmarks for you take home, and info cards for you to bring to your sponsoring teacher. 

You might remember that our first issue was inspired by the following quote from e.e. cummings: It takes courage to grow up and become who you truly are. Tomorrow, we'll be asking the teens who inspire us - at the conference and virtually - to answer the question, 'who are you becoming?' At the summit, participants will be able to write their answers on tiny chalkboards; we'll take photos of each reply and post them to Instagram. Follow Creating Iris at @creatingiris and our fearless leader at @amandacivitello to keep up. All of our posts - and those of our readers around the world - will be tagged with #iris_asks (#iris-asks on Tumblr). We hope you'll join in! 

If you'll be at the summit tomorrow, please stop by and say hello! We'd love to meet you!

Iris 1.2 Deadline is THREE weeks away!

Consider this your friendly reminder that the deadline for submissions for Iris, volume 1, issue 2, 'histories,' is fast approaching! 

The deadline for submissions of fiction and poetry is 21 March 2014. 

The deadline for submissions of artwork is 7 April 2014.

We hope you'll consider sharing your work with Iris

Out Chicago with Scott Duff

Over the weekend, I was lucky to be a guest of Out Chicago with Scott Duff, a new Sunday show on WCPT, Chicago's Progressive Talk Radio. It was a fantastic opportunity to share Iris with a community of local activists for whom youth advocacy is a major concern. It's immensely gratifying to us whenever we find a message of encouragement from a reader who not only sees the potential but the necessity of Iris. However, it means the absolute world to us when we hear, 'I wish I'd had this when I was younger.'