Welcome to the first in my series of interviews with magazine and anthology editors looking for short stories. I have been fortunate enough to have worked with editor, Cherie Jung on both fiction and non-fiction (interviews) She is a kind and patient editor and is open to a variety of mystery types and lengths. When I see the quality of the other work on the site, I am always humbled to have several stories in her archives! She is not running any contests at present, but submissions are generally open for fiction and non-fiction interviews with authors and more. Check out the guidelines–one word of caution–she is not likely to take anything over 4,000 words.
Here is what Cherie has to say:
- Please tell us a bit about the history of your magazine and about the magazine’s goals present day?
We began as a BBS (Bulletin Board System) a little over 30 years ago, where fans of mysteries and crime novels could chat with each other online by posting messages; a very unsophisticated version of today’s social media sites and forums. One of the most frequent comments was the lack of markets, at the time, for mystery genre short stories. There were the well established professional markets – Alfred Hitchcock and Ellery Queen – but those markets were very tight, and rightly so. In our naivety we thought, why don’t we just publish some mystery stories ourselves? So we began a quarterly print edition featuring a dozen or so short stories and several mystery-related non-fiction articles. Book reviews and time sensitive mystery news we published on the BBS and gradually our BBS transformed into the “website” form we use today. I regret not continuing the print version but in the aftermath of a stroke, I felt unable to continue to do the necessary work a print format requires so we shifted everything to an online format.
- What are you seeking in general and what especially delights you in a manuscript submission?
It may sound over simplistic, but we are looking for good stories. When we started, our editorial “first readers” were people who were not mystery fans per se. They were avid readers, but not devoted to only reading mysteries. Telling a good story (or writing one) is not as easy as it sounds. We wanted to present good stories that had a mystery element.
Long time readers will have noticed that our mystery and crime stories sometimes have an element of horror, or romance, or science fiction…even a cowboy/western flavor. One of my all-time favorite stories involved a crime victim discovered by some young kids. Sort of reminiscent of the British TV Midsomer Murders episode “Strangler’s Wood.” Not until the very end did the writer reveal that the victim was an alien from another planet. The story was so well written that the surprise identity of the victim didn’t detract from the story at all. In another story, about an abusive situation, as a reader, I believed the victim to be the abuser’s wife. The actual victim was his dog. I still recall those stories very vividly and I’ve read each of them more than a dozen times since their publication many years ago and their impact never diminishes. Those two writers wrote really good stories!
- What is an instant turn-off in a submission?
Excessive violence (graphic rape scenes), excessive profanity… We do not restrict our readership to “adults only” so we try to keep the stories within a mild to moderate range of violence (and profanity). Some of our stories do have profanity but we hope not in excess. We have a wide range of readers both locally and abroad. We have fans as far flung as Australia, Canada, India, Japan, the U.K., and South America. We also know that many, if not most, of our readers are in the 50-70 year old age bracket.
4.What are some of your favorite journals/magazines?
I think I might have to dodge this question a bit. I read several journals and magazines but none really come to mind as “favorites.” I do find a lot of enjoyment and interest in reading the previously published stories of the writers who are submitting stories or queries to us, and mention or provide a link to their other online published stories.
- How can writers contact you with questions and find out about special submission calls?
The most direct way is via email: firstname.lastname@example.org though via post is acceptable, too.P.O. Box 1938, Auburn, WA 9807-1938.
6.Is there anything else you would like to say to writers who are considering submitting to you?
Read some of the stories already published on omdb! to get a feel for what our readers like. Please read our writers guidelines. Yes, I know that since we are internet based we could publish short stories that are 8-10,000 words but our readers prefer stories that are 2-4,000 words in length. Also, this may sound obvious, but mystery and crime fiction doesn’t necessarily require a dead body.
In the TMI (too much information) category, I am notoriously slow but that is mainly due to ill health. Also, our original “staff” of 10 has dwindled to four and all are volunteers with busy lives and health issues of their own…and they are scattered throughout the U.S. and Canada. My husband also suggests that I should put “the editor is cranky.” (That would be me.)
Thank -you, Cherie!