Cindy Rosmus, Editor of Yellow Mama is this month’s guest! She reveals the true colors–that is, what’s wanted on the pages of Yellow Mama in this beyond-the-guidelines interview. She was fun to work with! Happy Halloween to everyone and good luck submitting.
Here is the link to the Halloween Issue:
Joan:Please tell us a bit about the history of your magazine and about the magazine’s goals present day? Particularly, can you define how your magazine differs from other crime magazines out there?
Cindy: Back in late 2006 publisher Kenneth James Crist (also Grand Wazoo of our parent ‘zineBlack Petals) had a brainstorm about doing a different type of e-zine. BP publishes traditional horror/sci fi, but we wanted to focus on noir, crime fiction, bizarro. But not just those genres; we also hoped each issue might have something for everybody: mainstream, literary, horror, inspirational. Like, the same issue that featured a lesbian PI vigilante tale might have a story about a boy with psychic healing powers. Or a story featuring an anti-Christ figure would appear right after a dysfunctional coming-of-age piece. You’re never sure what each issue will contain. Our first issue came out in February 2007, and we’ve been going strong ever since. One thing that makes us stand out from other crime ‘zines is our awesome artwork, customized for individual stories. Some artists, like Sean O’Keefe, Mike Kerins, Kevin Duncan, LA Barlow, and Steve Cartwright, have been with us for many years. We also have fantastic, newer artists doing illos for us. Assistant Art Director Ann Marie Rhiel did our current August cover.
Joan:What are you seeking in general and what especially delights you in a manuscript submission?
Cindy: We really love getting down-and-dirty, pull-no-punches noir and crime stories, with realistic dialogue. Call it like you see it; don’t hold back. There’s no room in noir for the PC crap that’s been creeping into the market, these days. Sure, you have to draw the line somewhere. But a good writer will know when.
And yes, we’re open to other genres, but the majority will be noir/crime/psychological horror. We don’t like fantasy, romance, and especially not erotica. I hate erotica. Graphic sex is fine, as long as it’s part of the story. And hopefully, somebody gets killed.
At YM we publish stories up to 3500 words (sometimes longer, if you query, first), but I’m a Flash Fiction freak! Every issue of YM features at least 3 FF stories under 700 words.
Joan: What is an instant turn-off in a submission?
Cindy: There are two big YM no-no’s: animal abuse, and blasphemy/sacrilege. And some potential contributors send both. I’m a stickler for reading guidelines. But even after reading ours, writers will still send offensive stuff, saying, “I don’t think my story violates your guidelines, but . . .” Sometimes I’m reading a submission, and the minute the narrator’s dog barks, or cat jumps up on the counter, I know what’s coming. By the end of the story, that poor animal will be disemboweled, or beheaded. Don’t send stories like that!
What also turns me off are stories bogged down by too much narrative and self-indulgent imagery. Both stop the action and draw attention to how clever the writer feels he’s being. Don’t make the editor cringe. A clean, concise story with razor-sharp dialogue will impress me, not a whole slew of metaphors.
Joan: What are some of your favorite journals/magazines?
Cindy: My absolute favorite is Shotgun Honey. SH publishes the best crime fiction ever, and all stories are under 700 words! That’s the perfect length. I also love Megazine, a totally cool ‘zine based in Jersey City, NJ, and Gemini, which sponsors annual Short Story/Flash Fiction/Poetry Contests.
Joan: How can writers contact you with questions and find out about submission calls?
Cindy: Writers can email me at email@example.com. They can also contact me on Facebook under Yellow Mama Webzine. I’m always reading fiction/poetry submissions, and often post close-out dates for certain issues on our FB page. Most issues are generic, but our special-themed issues (Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day) are spectacular! Halloween is especially creepy; Christmas runs the gamut from inspirational to psycho Santas; Valentine’s Day showcases the thin line between love and hate (and how sometimes they’re the same!).
Joan: Is there anything else you would like to say to writers who are considering submitting to you?
Cindy:Read the guidelines! And edit your work. Don’t submit a story with typos in the very first paragraph.
Also, don’t forget your cover letter. A simple “Hi, I’m ____ ____, please consider my story/poem, see short bio below, etc.,” is cool. Don’t include a synopsis of the story in your email. And make sure your bio is short. Listing a zillion publications won’t sway me. Your work should speak for itself.
Thank you, Cindy!