Bonnie ZoBellPart 8 of Flash Fiction Chronicles’ ongoing series, “Creating and Publishing a Flash Chapbook” by Bonnie ZoBell.”  Click HERE to find links to the entire series which includes articles and interviews by Bonnie ZoBell and Marko Fong.

by Bonnie ZoBell 

The following is an interview of Tammy Lynne Stoner, Fiction Editor and Vice President of the Board of Directors for Gertrude Press, who tells us about the fiction chapbooks they have available and what might increase your chances for interesting her in your own. Tammy comes from a background in publishing at the Advocate and OUT magazines and Alyson Books, where she was the Book Production Manager and an editor. Currently, she teaches college and as the Fiction Editor for Gertrude Press, looks for unusual writing with a strong voice. As a writer and artist, her work has appeared on bathroom walls, as tattoos, and in print. In 2012, she was nominated for a Million Writers Award for her story “Because There Is a Story to Tell” in Unshod Quills. In addition, she was offered a Summer Literary Seminar Fellowship to Kenya, and created the cover art for an issue of the New England Review.

Bonnie ZoBell:  Hi, Tammy. Thanks so much for helping us to find out more about your press.

Tammy Lynne StonerTammy Lynne Stoner:  Thanks for the interest!

BZ:  Does Gertrude Press have a philosophy?

TLS: Our philosophy is to continue to be a place where the queer voices of new and established writers and artists can be heard and supported.

 BZ:  What would you say the press is looking for in the way of fiction chapbook submissions?

TLS: The writers don’t have to be queer, but the aesthetic does – bent and from the undercurrents. I look for unique, strong voices that show me a new world or a new way to look at this one.

 BZ:  What mistakes do you see writers making who submit to Gertrude Press?

 TLS:  Oftentimes you can read when someone is writing for ego (fame, attention, to be fancy!) or writing for art – at Gertrude, we’re looking for art.

BZ:  What’s your idea of a perfect submission?

TLS:  Rule-abiding – double-spaced, no name on the content pages, etc. – with those lovely “holy shit!” moments. The perfect submission is one that has probably been workshopped or edited at least five times before being submitted – but it reads and feels easy.

 BZ:  Name a few fiction writers Gertrude Press has published and tell us a few words about their chapbooks.

TLS:  Last year we published Schlomo Steel’s fiction collection If I Go Now, which is a trippy, lyrical, street-wise, daring collection about people in motion and people unable to move. This was our first chapbook to have a four-color cover – and it couldn’t have happened for a more vibrant collection!

This year’s winner is Loren Arthur Moreno, who has a fascinating connection to Gertrude. He was chosen as a runner up in last year’s chapbook contest and was also published by the editor before me for inclusion in our journal. Then this year, in our blind contest, he was chosen by both me and our chapbook slush reader. Unlike Steel, who writes short, manic, cerebral tales, Moreno’s work is subtle and emotional. His chapbook, Aaron & Keoni, has this controlled, understated beauty to it that I love! It will be out in the next few months.

BZ:  If you could put a fold-out in one of your chapbooks, who or what would it be of?

TLS: Hmmm… maybe patches with quotes from the work in Gertrude stitched on them? Or iron-ons that could be ironed to clothing.

BZ: Talk a little about the production of Gertrude Press fiction chapbooks. What size are they? How are they made? Perfect bound, stapled, or? How much color do you use? What is the page range of most of them?

TLS:  Our chapbooks typically range from 22-32 pages with 4-color covers, stapled.

 BZ:  Do you accept manuscripts all year round, or only during certain times of the year?

 TLS:  The chapbook contest is open between September 15 and May 15.

 BZ: Is Gertrude Press interested in fiction chapbooks from new writers who haven’t had books or chapbooks published before?

 TLS:  We are interested in compelling, solid writing – whether the writer is new or has a laundry list of publications.

 BZ:  How many stories in the chapbooks submitted to you do you like to see already published?

TLS:  For us, it’s about the quality. It doesn’t matter whether the pieces have been published before although sometimes, honestly, it does make them carry a bit more weight.

 BZ:  Would you like to add any other advice or tips to writers trying to get their fiction chapbooks published?

TLS:  Make sure your collection has a cohesive component to it – we’ve gotten in some stellar submissions that don’t work as a UNIT. And for the love of all that is holy, check for typos.

 BZ:  We really appreciate all this information on flash chapbooks, Tammy. Thanks for your time.

 TLS: Thanks – and have a lovely day!

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 Bonnie ZoBell’s fiction chapbook THE WHACK-JOB GIRLS is forthcoming with Monkey Puzzle Press in March 2013 and her short story collection WHAT HAPPENED HERE is forthcoming with Press 53 in spring 2014. She’s received an NEA, the Capricorn Novel Award, a PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, and a spot on Wigleaf’s Top 50. Her work has appeared in Night Train, The Greensboro Review, New Plains Review, PANK, Connotation Press, and elsewhereShe received an MFA from Columbia, currently teaches at San Diego Mesa College, and is Associate Editor of The Northville Review. More of her work can be found at www.bonniezobell.com.