I’ve been having a bit of a rough run with submissions recently, so I was excited to receive an acceptance for a short story that I though would never find a home. It was a bit silly, a bit rude, and a bit controversial (for me). You will be able to read that in the 250th Issue of Antipodean SF – published next month. Don’t worry, I’ll post the link when it goes up.
This week also marked the end of daylight savings, which for me translates to going to be an hour later, but waking up at exactly the same time. So, while I’ve been exhausted at work, it’s meant I’ve spent an hour in bed each morning thinking about what writing project I’m going to work on next.
There are two vying for attention; a novella that wants to become a novel, and a brand-new novel that I started working on two weeks ago. There is part of me thinking that perhaps I could work on both? They are quite different, and I seem to be able to alternate quite nicely between then when thinking about them, so why shouldn’t it be so when I write them?
The weather has cooled down, so I’m spending more of my weekends inside. I think a couple of writing projects might be just what I need.
The table of contents has been released, so I can finally let you know that my story ‘Bleed’ will be published in the upcoming edition of Midnight Echo magazine (the magazine of the Australasian Horror Writers Association). I am so excited by this because I desperately wanted to be in edition #13.
Bleed has a special place for me, because it is one of the few allegories I’ve written. It was inspired by a previous workplace where my boss sent an email at about 4pm on Sunday afternoon to get my team’s opinion on something unimportant. By the time I got into work at 7:30am on Monday everyone else had responded. I realised this was the way people lived now, and I didn’t like it. I believe that my time is my time, but then again, my time is also writing time, so maybe I’m more protective of it than most?
The whole team has been made redundant now, so the crazy hours and rapid response did little to save any of us. I’ll have to send them all a copy when the story comes out.
I have to confess that my phone line got fixed much sooner than they told me, so I’ve been online for a while. But September was a busy month, so I decided to take it off. I’m sure everyone can relate to that.
Some exciting things happened in September, not only did the princess turn 10, but I got two stories accepted! I won’t say any more until the contracts are in, but they certainly reminded me that I need to send off more stuff, more often. Stories won’t get accepted if they are only present inside my computer.
I also started a new job, so that took up a lot of my head-space, but I’m starting to get used to it now and my mind is starting to wander again when I’m on the bus. There are two main stories that I keep returning to, so I think the next step is to choose one to be next year’s JanNoWriMo. Or who knows, maybe I’ll even get into NaNoWriMo this year?
So thank you for sticking with me regular readers (I know who you are!) and expect to see me back here every Sunday as usual.
As I have confessed in earlier posts, I’ve not been subbing much this year. Partially due to my focus on my novels, and partially because I’m being lazy (if I’m honest). But I’m pleased to say that I have had a short story accepted this year, and it has just been published by Stupefying Stories.
I have a bit of a soft spot for this story, it spilled out one night, all in one go, and had me in its clutches from about 8:30pm until 11pm. I still remember sitting on the lounge, computer balanced on my lap, thinking I really should be getting to bed. I’m glad I didn’t because otherwise it might have sat on my ‘stories to be finished’ pile forever.
As much as I had fun with it, I know it is not to everyone’s taste. It has been through both of my writers groups with lovers and haters, more so than any of my other stories. The first time I showed it to the world one person in the group said that it wasn’t working on any level and I should give up on it.
I don’t like that kind of advice, so I ignored it. And a fortunate thing too, because I really enjoyed playing with this story and it was quite different from my usual style. No, it won’t change the world, and you won’t learn anything from the lead character’s journey, but hopefully it will make you smile, and I think that is enough.
So I hope you enjoy Stanhope’s Finest, and I’m grateful that the editors at Stupefying Stories have the same quirky sense of humour that I do!
Something I read over and over in books about writing is the advice that you should write for your market. The suggestion is that you should read your target market and then write a story specifically for them. Or find an anthology and write a story which caters to exactly what they are looking for.
I don’t think this is always good advice.
If you have a zombie chick lit romance story bumping around in your head, and you find a chick lit zombie anthology seeking submissions, by all means write it. But if you force out a story just to get into the anthology, make sure it is up to your usual standard (assuming that standard is good, if you normally write badly then try to write a bit above your usual standard).
If you end up writing a bad (or worse, *boring*) story, and you miss out on the target market, then you may be stuck with an unsellable story. Even if you re-write it to fix all the boring bits, you might struggle to find another market that is looking for a zombie chick lit romance.
That’s why I think it is much better to write the stories you want to write, and then find markets for them. This is not to say that you should try to squeeze your sci fi story into a fantasy magazine, or to blindly send out your stories without knowing your target markets. Both these moves are big no-no’s in the mission to get yourself published. Rather, after you have finished writing the story that wants to be written, read widely and find the publisher who can give that story a home.
Having said all that, I must confess that two weeks ago I wrote a flash fiction story specifically for 100 Stories for Queensland, and was excited to see that it has been selected for the anthology! But as I said, if the story comes, write it, if you have to force it, maybe look the other way.
I talked of clusters of fortune a while back, and just to underscore the veracity of that statement I just want to share with you that I have another story accepted! (Yay) So in a little over a month I have had three pieces accepted.
I would love to be able to say that it is due to some cunning new marketing solution that I’m applying, but the truth is it is just a good turn of luck. We all have them, they turn in different directions and this month it turned the right way for me. Now if I can just push it a bit longer and get one of my novels picked up…
To share my latest coup, check out the Terminal Earth Anthology. This is a US anthology about the end of the world, and I’m pretty excited to read what others are writing on the topic. Just in case you don’t know, I have a soft spot for the December 2012 end of the world theory (I know, doesn’t everyone?!), and despite the ticking clock on how soon I can get all these 2012 stories published, I keep writing them!
Beyond Black is the first 2012 story to be picked up, but I hope it will not be the last. I have at least one piece of flash fiction (under 1,000 words) and a novel that need to find a home before December 2012. The novel is fast becoming a candidate for my first web self-publication.
But putting the end of the world aside for a moment, it is important to remember that the best way to become a published writer is to keep sending your work out! It won’t get published if no one ever sees it. I guess I should also mention that actually finishing stories is pretty vital to getting published as well, but that is a topic for another post 🙂
A while back I talked of rejection, inspired by a short story I particularly liked being turned down yet again. The funny thing is the first time I sent it out to the potential publisher they held onto it for ages and then ‘regretfully rejected’ it. The next two rejections were outright, if they could have e-spat on it they would have.
Last month the story got accepted. But not only did it get accepted, the editors claimed to have ‘loved’ the piece (cool). How funny that with no difference in the manuscript one publisher can see nothing but faults, and another ‘gets’ the story and likes it. This is a classic example of what I’ve been rabbiting on about for so long now; you have to keep plugging away until you find the right reader. If you like your story someone else will as well.
Now I wouldn’t be a real writer if I didn’t admit to being superstitious, so I’ll tell you neither the short story title nor the publisher name until I get the contract 🙂 But suffice it to say that when you do get the yes, it doesn’t make the pain of all the “no’s” go away, but it does remind you why you keep suffering through them.
The fact is you have three options for publication;
Get others to publish your work
Publish it yourself
Given that a lot of us are trying for the first option, it means those who do the publishing have a lot of options. A **LOT** of options. So when they put out a call for submissions (and even when they don’t) they have hundreds or thousands of pieces to choose from.
Most publishers will also insist on no multiple or simultaneous submissions (that is, you need to wait for them to reject/accept your story before you can submit another, and what you submit must not be on offer to any other publisher). This can mean your story can take years to do the rounds, and for a novel, double that.
The longest I’ve ever waited for a publisher to get back to me (not including those who just didn’t get back to me) is twelve months. Others in my writers group have waited two years. I wrote a virus story which I sent off to a magazine, six months before the movie ‘Outbreak’ was released. Suddenly my story got rejected saying it had already been done. Not six months earlier when I sent it! Grrrr.
I think all writers have at some point fantasised about the day when they can pick and choose their publisher, especially after a nine month wait with only a form letter rejection at the end. But the reality is, there are thousands of writers out there trying to get published. I actually heard a publisher once lament that there seemed to be more people writing books than reading them. So if you decided to hold a grudge against everyone who left you waiting too long, you would end up with the entire publishing community on your black list.
So I guess what I’m trying to say is the waiting game is part of the writing game, and it is probably this more than anything that sends so many people to ebooks as an alternative. But, to those of you who are currently going through this, take heart in fact that the length of your wait is not indicative of your chance at success. Some of my acceptances came in the same week I submitted them, while just as many others have taken well over three months. The key is keep writing, if you have lots of stories circulating, then the wait is not so obvious.
For some strange reason writing rejections always come in groups. I find I manage to shrug off the first one pretty easily. But the second one, which always follows just 24 short hours afterwards, always delivers a bigger blow than it should (especially when the reason for rejection is that the reader believes it is too hard to find a 100 year old oak tree in Australia. Never mind there are heaps of 100 year old oak trees here, never mind that I never said the story was set in Australia. Never mind it’s not even important to the story. Not bitter, not bitter, not bitter…). We won’t even talk about what the third rejection does (and you always know that one is less than a week away). That is the cluster rule of writing.
But there is an upside.
Acceptances, too, come in groups. I told you of the recent hold request. Just a day after that I had a story accepted. Irrational superstition forbade me to tell you about it until all the pieces of paper were signed and the proofs approved. But the excitement of receiving good news so hot on the heels of good news is as uplifting as the second rejection is crushing. It makes you believe there is a future for your writing after all.
I’d like to say that is why we do it. Why writers write. But the truth is we write because there are stories in our heads that haunt us until we put them on paper and give them to others to read. It is a personal exorcism. The frustrating part is how difficult it is to get your babies read.
So please, read abundantly, read openly and read dangerously. You never know where you might go or what you might learn. And the more people read, the more magazines will print stories and the more clusters of acceptances I will get in my inbox!