Out of the Gutter has been good to me. I can't say enough good things about the folks that run that ship.
Joe Clifford, a phenomenal writer himself, is a tough as nails editor. When he doesn't like a story, he says it. When he thinks a story needs work, he tells you. That was the case with The Mule.
It was a decent idea and when I sent it over to them, it was still just decent. Joe sent it back saying it was missing something.
I worked on it and what it was missing changed the story from a decent story to a pretty damn good one. I won't say what was added and what made the story from unpublishable to publishable but it was significant.
A lot of editors just accept or reject with no advice or criticism. Joe Clifford and Tom Pitts at Out of the Gutter, in my experience, really care about the craft and will send praise and criticism. The criticism is what I appreciate most.
The Out of the Gutter folks nominated my story, The Mule, for a Derringer Award. I am blown away by the honor. Read the story and send it good vibes.