Archive for the ‘submission update’ Category

analyzing mirror self-recognition

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Well, it’s that time of the year when we look back and forward in the same instant. No wonder we drink.

This year I focused on marketing my short fiction, learning new forms (twitter fiction, flash fiction) and learning to manage book length projects.

It was a good year in terms of sheer number of publications, a good year in terms of adapting to new forms, and a not quite so good year with book length projects.

The stats:

Short stories (including Flash)

Submissions = 158
Acceptances = 18

to paying markets = 9

New stories written = 37 give or take a couple

Twitter Fictions

Submissions = 24
Acceptances = 11

to paying markets = 3

Twitters written = 51


Completed = 1
Sold = 0

My goals for the upcoming year are:

1. Write and submit one story per week (Write1Sub1)

2. Publish at least 20 short stories, at least two professional markets.

3. Revise and submit fantasy novel

4. Put out the best possible Triangulation anthology.


Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to friends and family and colleagues who read this blog. Let’s make 2011 something special, shall we?


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The Light Ray has become a reality over at Write1Sub1. If you’re intimidated by a story a week, check out the story a month option. Simon describes it well in his blog entry.

I spent the weekend writing a refreshing little ditty for Liberty Hall and reading Triangulation: Last Contact submission stories that had already been first-read by other editors. We’re already up to 37 submissions and I’ve rejected 10. Another four or five are being read by full staff. Hopefully we’ll have one or two accepts by next week.

So far I’ve been very impressed by the level of the prose. I don’t think a single story has been badly written. About half of the submissions have been reprints. We’re being very selective with reprints this year, since that has been a criticism of past issues. I’m sure we’ll end up taking a few, most likely from fairly “name” authors, and only if they’re really good.

What about the others, you ask? It’s been interesting. Last year we saw a great many stories that began with a startling hook before devolving into less interesting backstory. This year I’ve seen one, maybe two of those. No, a larger issue so far this year is the lack of genre indicators early in the story.  As a science fiction, fantasy and (a little) horror antho, we’re very sensitive to this issue. Our readers want well written genre stories, with definable story arc and are generally less patient with stories that depend primarily on glistening prose and emotional spaces. We want ambitious idea and competent or better character and prose.

Ideal examples from last year’s collection would include Tinatsu Wallace’s “A Womb of My Own” and Jaime Lee Moyer’s “Commander Perry’s Mystic Wonders Show”. Both stories utilize strong literary technique in service of their equally strong ideas; Science Fiction in Wallace’s case and modern fantasy for Moyer.

Don’t get me wrong. We loved every single story we published. Each editor, I imagine has a favorite or two (my blog, my faves above), but we all liked them or they didn’t get in. In my next post, I’ll run through each story and highlight exactly what we liked.

Medieval illustration of a Christian scribe wr...

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In personal news, today I finished up chapter 4 of the fantasy novel. I’m working through a character motivation issue for chapter 5, but hope to write again tomorrow. I polished and submitted three flash fictions to literary markets. Finally, I received a page proof for my Daily Science Fiction story, which will appear on December 21. I hope you will read it, and post your compliments/complaints (I value both) to their Facebook Page.

My latest twitter fiction appeared at trapeze magazine over the weekend and I had one appear at Seedpod last week.

Well, off to bed for now. Wishing you a good night.

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Howard Phillips Lovecraft

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I felt busy today, but didn’t really get much done in the way of writing.

1. Strange Horizons rejected my flash “A Clockwork Clef” after 72 days. It stung a bit as this is probably the best flash I’ve written to date. I bucked up and sent it out again.

2. Eschatology Journal accepted my flash “A Clockwork Clef” after 1 hour. This is a market that takes Lovecraft-inspired stuff as well as the apocalyptic. My flash is the latter, inspired (obviously enough) by the opening of A Clockwork Orange. The story was written from a Prosetry prompt provided by Moon Milk Review a few months back.

3. Discussed general world concepts for my “Golden Heart of the World” serial I plan to write as part of the Write1Sub1 Challenge in 2011. I’m pretty hyped about it at this point, and need to do some background reading before the new year.

4. Posted my Triangulation slush reactions to the Slushy blog entry. Hopefully the authors will get some good out of this. It does me some good to comment in detail on stories we receive, but I imagine the extent of my comments will decline as we get busier. We’re up to 10 submissions already. Five of them are reprints. We plan on taking very few reprints this year. We may hold on to a few until we get a sense of what the crop of original fiction will look like, but I’m not planning on quick accepts for reprints.

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Short Story

Open for business

last contact

Today, we opened to submissions for Triangulation: Last Contact. While I’m excited to be co-editing the anthology this year, it does remind me of just how much work I have ahead of me, particularly with my commitment to Write1Sub1. It’s mainly going to be a matter of being efficient, which has not been my strong suit of late. That will change because it has to.

A Slush drink

Oooh Slushy

We’ve switched to a new submission system this year (the good folks at submishmash), and I’ll be changing the way I do the SlushyAward. Last year I would read in batches and blog once a week on the experience. I would award a Slushy to the “best” of the week’s slush stories based on my admittedly subjective analysis. Since I plan on reading at a steady pace this year, I’ll blog in smaller batches (as small as one). Instead of a Slushy Award, I’m going to try out the Slush-o-meter, which will rank a story on a scale of 1 to 10, with higher rankings indicating a story that has come close to achieving what I believe it set out to achieve. This doesn’t necessarily indicate that it’s appropriate for the anthology, but I’m hoping it may provide authors with some indication of how their story comes across that divide between minds. Hopefully I’ll be able to include some helpful advice to indicate what worked and didn’t work for me, at least in broad strokes. As before, I will identify story by genre and word count so as to maintain privacy while still making it possible for an author to identify their story discussion, should they wish to do so.

We’ll see how it goes. I figure critiquing slush is a good exercise for me as a writer, and I know how valuable feedback can be to a writer. I’ve been told I give good crit.

Now to update my writing/reading progress for the day.

1. Read stories at Show Me Your Lits.

2. Added 1430 words to the fantasy novel (finally!).  Ironically, what seems to be holding me back the most is my attempt to scavenge prose from the prior version. I’m probably better off just typing onto a blank page, which is ironic since that used to stop me cold. This flash fiction stuff has been a boon in that regard.

3. Submitted a short story and micro fiction to SLAB, a literary journal put out by a local university.

4. Submitted a three line story to SoftCopy. I hope you’ll head over there and Like it if you’re so inclined (i.e. if you do like it, for example – posted as Steve Ramey).

5. Sent a compromise opening for my “Dog Days” story to be published at State of Imagination. Editor was happy with it. (Editors are cool people, right?)

July 12, 2006, Alan DeNiro & Theodora Goss at ...

Theodora Goss, image by gavingrant via Flickr

Finally, a shout out to Theodora Goss. A few precise words about writing. A wonderful perspective and another reason to join us at Write1Sub1 if you’re serious about becoming a writer.

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Auguste Deter. Alois Alzheimer's patient in No...

Abject Contemplation

Well, it’s been a while and a lot of muck has oozed under the bridge, but I’m back. For the next few weeks I plan to use this forum as external validation for my daily writing. If I do not produce enough for a given day, feel free to heckle mercilessly.

First, a sales update, and it’s altogether too much like the economy.  There are a few glimmers of good news, but it’s mostly depressing. To the good, I was featured over at trapeze magazine in October. They published not one, not two, but three tweets and an interview. Thanks to Jessica Otto for offering me a chance to bare my tiny talents in public. I also won their first annual Halloween tweet contest.

My story for Daily Science Fiction has not yet appeared, but it should soon. I’ve been impressed with their selections. The quality is a bit uneven, but what can we expect for a story almost every day? I especially like that they’ve published a wide variety in subject and approach. If you don’t already, you should subscribe to their feed. A story a day keeps Alzheimers away (one can hope).

The bad news is that I’ve not placed anything else, despite many submissions. I’ve now been aggressively marketing my work for one year:

  • 171 submissions (this includes twitter as well as short story subs)
  • 22 acceptances
  • current accept rate is 14.57% (some subs have not been decided).

I have stories at Strange Horizons and A Fly in Amber that I’m relatively hopeful for, but everything else is the usual crap shoot.

For the past month I’ve been participating in weekly flash challenges at Show Me Your Lits and Liberty Hall. In each case, one writes a story in 90 minutes based on a set of prompts, then posts them on a private website for comments. This has been a positive experience and has kept me writing through this difficult time.

Difficult, did I say? Why, yes, now that you ask. It started with my failure to make the top three at Writers of the Future. Shortly thereafter we heard from our agent that she does not feel she can market our fantasy novel as it stands. This was followed by news that Sue’s book is not selling up to publisher expectation, despite numerous excellent reviews and tireless promotion from Jackson Kaguri. Then, my suggestion for a continuing series based around New Castle history and heritage  was turned down by Edge of Propinquity.

Is it any wonder I’ve had difficulty bringing passion to my work lately? Fortunately, my insanely stubborn resolve has begun to surface again and I’m now:

1. reworking the fantasy in a more traditional epic fantasy vein. It’s definitely more along the lines our agent suggests. I started chapter 3 today.

2. plotting a new story for the Writers of the Future contest. I plan to finish the rough draft by December 1 and workshop/polish it prior to the Dec 31 submission date.

3.  Polishing stories from the flash challenges and sending the better ones to market (I’ve

submitted 3 so far)

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4. Reading from a classics list. Current project is Pride

and Prejudice by Jane Austin. I’m a third through and I gotta tell you, it’s a bunch of names squawking at each other right now. I’m not compelled. The last couple chapters have begun to pull me in, though, so maybe…

I’ve also accepted a challenge to write and submit a story a week in 2011. If I can’t improve enough to sell my stuff on merit, maybe I can wear them (editors) down.

Bamboo slivers make wonderful motivational tools

Tune in tomorrow for an update of my projects. If I’m not making the sort of progress I should be making, I trust you’ll hold my feet to the fire and ridicule me roundly.

Three Cheers for Ramey!

If I am making my goals, give me a little encouragement,  okay?

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After a looooong wait, it’s finally official. The three finalists for the Writers of the Future 2nd quarter have been announced.

Close inspection of these names will reveal that mine is not among them. I received a call from Joni at WOTF yesterday letting me know my story had not made the top three. She sounded more disappointed than I did. Anyway, it’s a relief to know and I can now move on to something else.

The cool thing about this list is that it contains two folks from Australia, Patty Jansen and Benn Mann. Patty was a finalist last quarter too, so it’s fitting that she would move to top three this time.  I wish all three winners well and vow to submit an even better story next quarter.

Failure sucks, but the only way not to end in failure, is to pick oneself up and try again.

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I’ve been waiting to update submissions until I had a response from Writers of the Future and Flash Fiction Online. Writers of the Future decision is going to be a few more weeks, apparently, but I got a form rejection from Flash Fiction Online this week, followed a few days later by an answer to my query about it. It seems they’re very backlogged right now. My story made it out of slush, but not to the final winnowing. Disappointing, but that’s the writing life. On to the next market.

The good news is that my acceptance rate is now 17%. Mitigating the improvement somewhat is the fact I’ve been placing a lot of twitter fiction in the last couple months. I’m now one of the more prolific twits at Thaumotrope and trapeze magazine and have one coming up in Quinc and possibly a few other places. It’s ironic since twitter fiction was the area in which I had the most difficulty in my flash fiction boot camp. Well, if rejection is the bread of a writer’s life, irony is probably the butter.

To continue the metaphor in my typically laborious fashion: Acceptance is water and I’m getting darned thirsty. I did at least whet my whistle since last update, though.

A Conversation With Mother has appeared in Flash Me Magazine (which is going on hiatus now — I wonder what part of the meal that represents?)

On the Other Hand, Abomination has appeared at Short-story.Me.

What’s in a Name will appear in Daily Flash 2011.

Monster Freshly Minted has appeared in Everyday Weirdness.

The E.T. in Aisle Three has appeared at Abandoned Towers.

Beauty and the Butler has appeared in Every Day Fiction (to mediocre reviews, alas).

It Takes a Town is now available at Anthology Builder.

Appearances has appeared at Sillymess.

Implications of a Grand Unified Theory: A Love Story has been published by The Fifth Di.. in their September issue.

I’ve also had twitter fiction at Thaumatrope and trapeze magazine. In fact I’m going to be the featured twitter fiction writer for trapeze in October. Three pieces and an interview at the end of the month. That makes me happy 🙂

However, I’m disappointed that I’ve not been able to place my more ambitious fictions to more prestigious markets. It’s nice to find a home for “Implications…”, but there’s a lot more where that came from. Truth is, though, that my real fault lies in not writing more new fiction. I’ve been concentrating on quick-fix micro and flash, when I should be working harder on longer pieces too.

The story at Writers of the Future is 11,000 words. It helps to know I can carry off that length. In my quest to become versatile, I want to become proficient at every length.

Well, off to do some more waiting. I have stories overdue at Aberrant Dreams, Weird Tales (but who doesn’t?), Echo Ink Review, Tin House, Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine, Daily Science Fiction, and Nanoism. Hopefully one or two of those will come through and up my happy dose.

You are now free to move about the cabin.

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