Living the Fictional Dream

Erin M. Kinch’s musings upon the writing profession

Archive for the 'Rejection' Category

This Puts It in Perspective…

I just read this post over at Jennifer Jackson’s agent blog.

The highlights: Out of over 6,000 queries last year, this literary agent requested a mere 26 partials and manuscripts, and out of that, she only took on TWO new clients.

Really gives a little context, huh? Even when I do get this novel of mine revised to perfection, it’s still a crap shoot. But, like I’ve always said, I would be writing anyway, so I might as well put it out there (when it’s ready of course). But, man…

I guess Han said it best: “Never tell me the odds.”

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It’s That Time of Year Again

I don’t know what it is about summer. Maybe it’s the hot weather keeping us inside? Or maybe it’s a more relaxed daily schedule (it’s amazing how many non-school-related activities take hiatus in the summer)? Or maybe it’s the annual work lull (plenty to do, but no pressing deadlines or overtime)? Whatever it is, the past two years, my only short story submissions were in the summer. Last year, I submitted a piece in July (it was eventually rejected). And this summer (earlier this week, in fact!), I actually submitted two pieces. We’ll hope they recieve more love than last year’s offering did.

As much as things are busy and crazy, I have not abandoned writing completely. Lately, I have been tinkering around with novels. For some reason, short fiction plot bunnies have not been nibbling on my brain as much as they once did. But, I found a few older pieces that I like and have had fun polishing them up the past few days. And it whets my appetite for more. It’s amazing how much better a story can look when you haven’t read over it in a couple of years. (Well… sometimes. Other times you cringe more than you did whe you actually wrote it!)

Of course, having submissions out there somewhere immediately brings on that impulse to check one’s writing email account multiple times a day. (I didn’t check it for, like, six months, and now I’m checking it daily.) Of course, I don’t anticipate a response to either submission for a while. Optimistically, we’re looking at late September/early October. Ah, the life of a writer…

In this fit of writing activity, over the weekend I even went through my story page and made sure all the links were up-to-date (several of the e-zines had closed their doors… boo!). So, now, if you click on one of the remaining links, you can be assured that you will at least get where you’re going. So, check it out, if you’ve a mind to.

Happy writing, everyone! (And, if you’re not a writer, happy reading!)

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Publishing Updates

A lovely, thick envelope came for me in the mail the other day. I received it on my birthday, and what a great birthday treat it was. Inside the envelope was my contributor’s copy of ResAliens #5, complete with eye-catching cover art and printed pages full of good stories. The second story in this issue was a reprint of my vampire hunter story, “Not Your Kind of Heathen.”

I’ve always been fond of this story. Rachel is a vampire hunter, and her biggest weapon in the fight against the undead is her faith. However, just because she believes in God, that doesn’t mean she isn’t pissed as hell at Him. If you’d like to read a little more about the backstory of this tale, here’s the link to the blog entry I wrote about it when it was first published.

I have to say, though, that while the first e-publication was cool (even though now that e-zine is long gone), I’m much more excited about NYKoH’s appearance in ResAliens. I’ve enjoyed ResAliens since it was solely an e-zine, but the new print version is really awesome. You should definitely check it out! (And I have a story in issue #2, as well.)

In other news, I just heard that my story, “The Vote,” was selected for inclusion in Every Day Fiction’s third annual anthology. I’m very excited to be included. The previous two EDF anthologies were very well done and included lots of great stories by  excellent writers. I’m sure this one will be the same. At least one other writing group mate will be in the anthology, as well — Go, Writer’s Ink!

In rejection news, a weird little story that I sent out to a relatively big podcast market was rejected a couple of months ago. However, my thrill from that rejection was that instead of the standard form rejection (which I’d received several times), I actually got a personal rejection note from the editor. Not only did he say he liked the story (though it wasn’t exactly what they were looking for), but he told me to keep submitting. It felt like I finally got noticed by that market. Maybe, if I found something more up their alley, it would be a good time to try them again…

And now, to wind things up, here are a few links to other stories from the last few months that you might want to check out:

Now, if I could just find a little time amongst changing diapers, running after a toddler on the go, and taking care of a six-month-old, maybe 2011 will be a better year for me writing and submitting-wise. We’ll call it a goal!

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You Never Know…

A few weeks ago, I came across an anthology listing for which one of my stories was perfect (the concept was fairly unique). The only catch — apparently they did not take reprints. Though, the guidelines were a little confusing — nothing about reprints either way was listed on the page for that anthology, but on a different page all together. So, I decided to query, just in case.

Later that same day, I got a reply that said they did not accept reprints. A bummer, sure, but understandable. Then, a few weeks later, I got another message inviting me to send my story in for consideration!

I still don’t know if they will like my story, but they obviously decided they liked the sentence description of it in my query enough to look at it. That’s something!

The lesson I learned — if in doubt, go ahead and query. The worst they can say is no, and you never know if something good will come out of it.

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My Take…

There has been a lot of talking in the writers’ corner of the blog-o-sphere lately about professional markets, professional rates, and whether it’s worth it for a writer to send his or her stories out to lower paying markets.

Some editors have said it’s not worth it to target for-the-love markets just to get a credit in your cover letter, because no credits are better than meaningless credits.

Personally, I’m not so sure about that. Time and time again, I’ve seen writers that I know get that first credit and, after that, the acceptances start flying in (at least in comparison to before that first credit).

It happened to me that way, too. I spent 10 months submitting story after story, all of which were flat out rejected. Finally, in November of 2007, my story was accepted into Sporty Spec: Games of the Fantastic.

Then, after I started sending out stories with that forthcoming publication in my cover letter, I got several more stories accepted in quick succession (A Thousand Faces and Every Day Fiction were the next two acceptances, though it took longer for my stories to appear in some markets than others.)

Maybe it is not the credit, but some kind of critical mass. Maybe the reason the first acceptance comes is because the writer has finally reached a publishable point in their growth as a writer. I wouldn’t disbelieve that notion.

Then again, maybe there is something about that first credit that marks you as serious about the work, even if it is just in an editor’s subconscious. Or maybe it’s a combination of the two.

Either way, I know that I’m happy to have credits with smaller ‘zines on my cover letter, and I think that I’ve learned a lot from the markets I’ve been published in. I’ve learned about relating to editors, editing my work, proofs, and standing up for my story when there are technical difficulties. In addition to all that, I’ve gotten to see my stories in print (both electronic and hard copy), and I’ve made writer friends who have taught me a lot in their own ways.

Over all, I’m happy. Sure, larger paychecks would be nice, but I never believed I would earn money doing this, so I’ve never been overly concerned about that.

The key, I think, to keep moving forward with your writing career is not to stay on the lower levels for too long. I do think you hit what you aim for, and the better paying markets are the ones with the most readers and the ones with the most prestige (which, to me, are more important than money). If you never aim for those markets, you can never be published there.

To quote one of my favorite movies, “Your odds go up when you file an application.”

As soon as I had a few small credits under my belt, I started targeting the larger professional markets with my stories. I still haven’t cracked one, but I continue to hope. And my rejections for some of them (as I mentioned in a previous entry) have gotten a little more personal, so I think I’m making progress.

If I were giving advice to a new writer starting out, I would say aim as high as you want. But, if the pro markets reject you at first, target some of the smaller ones until you get that first credit or two. Learn how things work. Earn a publishing credit or two. But never stop aiming high. If you only tarket token and for-the-love markets, that’s the only place you’ll ever be published. If you aim higher and you work on honing your craft, I think you have as good a shot as anyone else at getting there.

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Breaking into the Professional Markets

My writing group had its annual planning meeting earlier this week. This meeting is when we select what projects and activities we want to pursue during the year ahead. Most of the time, it’s the usual stuff — crits, meetings, write-ins, the prompts contest… This year, we decided to add something new to the mix.

In lieu of our usual themed short story collection challenge (which was cancelled for lack of participation this year), we are going to try to work on writing stories for and submitting stories to the professional markets.

I’m really excited about the idea. I’ve been sending stories to some of the professional markets for a while now. I got a couple of personal rejections with compliments of my writing style from one market in that category (well, it’s a pro market if your story is under a certain word count… so it’s not one of the big three or anything), which was thrilling to me, but all the others have been the typical form rejections. It would be awesome if I could finally break into one of the bigger markets.

Not that I don’t love all of the smaller ‘zines that I’ve been a part of. I love each and every one of them. I’m grateful that they published my stories, and I’m happy to have been a part of them. The ones that have print versions, too, are in a special place on my bookshelf.

But, wouldn’t it be awesome to get both the larger paycheck and the larger readership that comes along with publishing in a professional market?

I hope that I have enough time to devote to this project over the next year, because, if it succeeds, I think it would take this hobby of mine to the next level. I wonder if Daddy will be willing to take on baby duty a little more often so I have time to write between coming home from work and bedtime…

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Dilemma

So, I have this story that I would really like to see published somewhere (of course, I’d like to see all my stories published, but I think this one is a particularly good one). The big strike against it is it’s length. I’ve cut thousands of words since my first draft and it’s where I think it needs to be to tell the story, but it’s still around 8K.

Yesterday, I actually had some time to look through open anthology markets, and I found one that seems perfect, except for one thing. The theme of my story and the theme of the anthology match. And they will look at stories up to 10K. However, the problem is the genre. They want something with a horror slant, and my story is really more urban fantasy.

Should I send it to them?

Part of me says, “Go ahead and send it. The worst they can say is no, and who knows? Maybe you’ll get lucky, and they’ll love it despite the slight difference from what they wanted.” However, the other part of me says, “Don’t even bother. It’s not what they want, so they’ll reject it right away. What’s the point in sending something out for a sure rejections and tying it up so that you can’t send it elsewhere except as a simultaneous submission?”

Eh… I guess I’ll have to think on this a little longer…

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Bad Timing

Murphy’s Law strikes again. I haven’t gotten a story accepted in a few months (mostly because my submission and writing output have been down due to pregnancy and baby-related things), but, of course, during the time that our little girl has been in the NICU, two acceptances arrived.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to be accepted, but, for one of them, the timing turned out to be disappointing.

First, though, let me say that a superhero flash piece that I wrote, “Frigid,” is going to appear in Every Day Fiction on August 21. And, look, my name is mentioned in the Table of Contents blurb. That’s a first! I’m excited to be back in EDF, as it’s one of my favorite short fiction publications.

The other acceptance didn’t work out so well. I won’t mention the name of the publication, but they emailed me on July 22 to accept my story for the August issue. To appear in that issue, I had to return the contract to them by July 29.

Maybe it’s just me, but what a short response window! Maybe I’m just used to most publications who accept you for months in advance? If only they’d accepted me for the September issue or something…

I won’t complain about their editorial policies. I understand, they have to do what’s best for their publication. And, I’m sure that they deal with story acceptances where they author disappears on them on a regular basis. I’ve read policies for dealing with that in many publications’ guidelines. So, from the editor’s perspective, I understand why they had to rescind their acceptance of my story.

On a personal level, though, I’m bummed. It’s frustrating that one of my few acceptances this year was rescinded because I was spending so much time at the hospital with my little girl that all my writing stuff (and most of my email in general) got left by the wayside. (Not that I would change a decision that I made — Summerlyn is the most important thing right now, and she’s doing really, really well. We’re hoping she’ll be home soon!)

The other thing that’s disappointing is the particular story in question that was rescinded. This story is cursed, I think. It was nearly accepted several times, but not. Then, the first time it was actually accepted, the ‘zine folded before they could published it. Now, it’s accepted again and then due to timing will still not be published. **sigh** Maybe I should give up on it!

While I have no hard feelings for the publication in question, I will say that this experience has made me appreciate EDF’s contract-on-submission method a lot more. It makes things so easy at the end of the process. There is no question that the story can be included in the issue in question and acceptances go off without a hitch.

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Getting the Submission Ball Rolling Again

I didn’t end up actually writing at my writing group’s write-in last night (hmm… how many times can I get a form of the word “write” into one sentence?). But, I’m pleased with the way I spent my two hours.

I dug back into my pool of rejected stories and found new markets to target them to. My writing group makes goals for writing-related tasks that we will hold each other accountable for accomplishing between meetings. My goal for the next meeting was to submit a story. I did one better last night and submitted two. Go me!

Lack of writing (be that because of work, the baby, or just a stellar lack of motivation) is one reason that my publications have tapered off so since January. But, the other reason is that I have not kept on top of my rejections. The best thing to do is get a rejection and send the story right back out again (or, if needed, revise and then submit again, depending of the story). It’s important to keep stories in circulation!

Add these two stories to the two that I submitted at the end of May, and now I have four stories making the rounds again. It’s definitely progress! Perhaps the end of the year will hold a few more publications for me than the beginning has. If one of the four were accepted, I would call it a win.

And, in the meantime, no matter what happens with those four stories, I do have two upcoming publications to look forward to. I will have a story (”The Last Ball at Concord House”) in the first issue of 10Flash later this summer, and one of the later issues of A Thousand Faces this year will feature a superhero short story that I wrote last year (”Dinner for Three” — a story that can loosely be termed a sequel to “Bridge Club”).

Oh, and speaking of superhero fiction, the new issue of A Thousand Faces is available, and it features an amusing flash piece from writing group mate, Jens. It is even set in Fort Worth! Give it a look when you have some time.

Happy writing and submitting, every one!

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Tids and Bits

Sorry for disappearing on you guys for a week. I caught this horrible crud last week and it laid me low for a long time. I’m only just now finally feeling sort of normal and getting back into the swing of work, and I’m still suffering from the lingering cough and runny nose. It really sucks being sick when you’re pregnant — you’re not allowed any of the good meds!

But, enough about that boring stuff. Let’s talk about writing. :-)

When I logged into my email account after having been down for so long, I was rewarded with one acceptance and one rejection. It was nice that they balanced each other out!

A very strange story (about superheroes and vomit, of all things) was rejected. I wasn’t surprised. There were some really stomach churning descriptions in there (yes… I wrote it under the influence of first trimester morning sickness!). Now I have to look at it again (if I can find the stomach for it) and see if there is something revisable in that mess. I liked it at the time, but now… I’m not so sure. Maybe it’s because I’m now past all that nausea?

On the happier side of things, I wrote a little ghost story flash called “The Last Ball at Concord House,” and it will be published in the inaugural issue of 10Flash. I’m excited about that — it’s really neat to be part of a brand new ‘zine. And congrats to K.C. for all the work she’s been putting into it! I think it’s going to be a really fun publication!

And, speaking of K.C., if you’re interested in writing flash, you should read this post over on her blog. I enjoyed it a lot.

Finally, this is a little late, but my writing group mate Alex had a story published on Every Day Fiction earlier this week. It’s called, “The Squeeze.” It’s very short, and the ending will make you laugh.

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