The Road to TQR

On the heels of the announcement that my chapbook sold out, another bit of cheer-inducing news arrived in my inbox:  My short story “Camera Obscura” has been accepted to TQR Stories.

TQR (Total Quality Reading) has a unique and exciting process called “public vetting.”  Instead of remaining unaware of the internal workings of the magazine once your story (Capital, or Cap) arrives, the writer (Venture Capitalist, or VC) is invited to read along in the discussion forum as the staff decides which stories go up to the next level, and which get rejected (port holed).

As you might have noticed, TQR has its own vocabulary based on the tagline: “Stories Are Our Business.”  Everything that occurs within the pages of TQR follows the meta-paradigm that “TQR is a corporate mainframe exclusive to the Internet whose mission is to maximize investor exposure to quality narratives through innovative Web platforms and in-house promotion.”

You really have to read through their site to understand completely, but in short, TQR uses a corporate business model.

I was afforded the opportunity to read the staff’s comments and see what they liked an didn’t like, to see what they accepted to the next level and what they rejected.  Part of the excitement is discovering whether or not the staff (a collection of alternate-reality avatars) rips your story a new a-hole.  And yes, some stories get torn to shreds.

But that didn’t happen to my story.  In fact, on the second level of deliberation (called The Terminal),  Guy LaFloor penned what may be the best review  I’ve ever received:



Dear Mr. Anthony J. Rapino,

I like this Camera Obscura thing. I even wikipedia’d it. But seeing the images of these lonely shacks (some quite nice) did not compare to this story which wove the mystery of capturing the essence of something, taking it some place, and representing it, yet again, upside-down with some greater meaning, and alcoholism, and humor. Your story did it, Anthony. Quite nicely. I’m ruminating on the floaty parts that were strange and disorienting, but not so much that I lost the thread of the story. Because these esoteric bits were balanced by clipped, quick scenes of the very simple, the very basic, but the very layered actions between character and character, and character and past, and character and addiction, and character and obsession. Thrown between this was humor—subtle at times, blunt at others—but always surprising and with perfect timing.

We got a great character with a problem, a goal (though not stated), and a history. All in under 5000 words. All you need really. And this dude, this Hank, had a voice that took the reverence out of a piece that could very easily get lost in its own crazy imaginings, its own insane reverie with the floating and the watery luminescence and the mysterious godly creatures. Where some writers would make the mistake to try to match this unworldly holiness with blessed language and oh-too-holy verbal genuflections, we got Hank who said things like, “I want to sleep and vomit.”

It was Cheever’s swimmer who handed me this night-cap, but by the time I got to the end I realized I had just swallowed Cortazar’s axolotl.

I am reading this again. You can’t stop me.

Cap goes up.



And this was merely an acceptance to the final round of deliberation  (The Executive Suite).  Honestly, if my story was rejected after this, I didn’t even care.  I did my happy dance.

Then, two days ago, I got the e-mail and found my story, along with one other, was accepted for publication in TQR.  Good news for sure.  There’s still an editing pass to make before the piece is published, but I’ll be sure to let you all know when that happens.

If this wasn’t enough good news for one day, only hours later I was informed that another piece had been held elsewhere for voting.

Fingers are crossed.

8 thoughts on “The Road to TQR”

  1. Fantastic news. CONGRATULATIONS. And I got Uprooted at the weekend and read it on the train and it freaked me out. I adore stories where realities split.

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