May, June, July 2012 – Rejections

In February this year I shared a round of rejections with you, and as per many of subsequent blog posts, my submissions have slowed since May so not surprisingly my rejections are more spaced out as a result.

With that in mind, I’m sharing my May, June, and July 2012 rejections so you can see how it’s been going. The list is newest rejection to oldest, but I don’t think it matters.

  • Coriumpersonal rejection

My note on Corium: Prior to this rejection, I had 3 pieces I had to withdraw (Jan, April,  July) because stories were picked up by other journals. This time, even though I didn’t mention it, I subbed the piece exclusively, no sim-subs elsewhere. It wasn’t quite a fit, but I admire Lauren Becker, the editor, so I need to find a piece she likes. My quest continues.

  • The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts
  • – personal rejection
  • Juked
  • Matchbook
  • Gargoyle – personal rejection

My note on Gargoyle: This was my first experience submitting to Gargoyle. Mad, mad props to Richard Peabody, the editor, who has been doing his thing on Gargoyle for decades. How he has time to send personal rejection notes is a mystery to me given that he’s getting hundreds of submissions in the brief window he opens once a year in preparation for the following year’s edition of the magazine.

  • Sycamore Review
  • Right Hand Pointing – personal rejection
  • Flywheel Magazine – personal rejection
  • Quarterly West
  • A Public Space

My note on A Public Space: Sent inquiry after 6 months on status. No reply. Re-sent inquiry one month later (at 7 month wait period.) Personal reply received that they were backlogged on reading and my piece was still under consideration. Standard rejection form sent two months later. Total wait time: 9 months.

  • Booth: A Journal
  • Camroc Press – personal rejection
  • AGNI
  • Fringe
  • The Collagist
  • Hobart (print)
  • Diagram – personal rejection
  • The Prose Poem Project
  • Dark Sky Magazine – personal rejection
  • Salamander
  • Gigantic – personal rejection
  • This Great Society
  • Bellvue Literary Review
  • Kenyon Review
  • Juked

There you have it, make of it what you will. As for me, I continue to be very pleased with the level of personal engagement I have with many editors and I just keep on doing what I can to get the work out there.

What else is there for a writer to do anyway? You just have to keep at it, day by day.

If you have a favorite journal you’ve been hitting up, an editor you admire, a journal that maybe didn’t treat you as you would have liked, or a ridiculous wait period followed by a standard form rejection, feel free to share any and all in the comments (you know the drill, people!)


Four Writing Goals To Ponder

I'm searching for my path as a writer (although this is really a pic of me hiking in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia)

Short story writing is incredibly satisfying and – relatively speaking – immediately gratifying. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what’s happened for me this year in my short story writing career, and I’m happy to report more than a few pieces were accepted and published, with several more on the way. (If you’d like to read any, pls check out my Published Stories page)

But when I say “short story writing career” I will qualify it somewhat. I am a short story writer, but I have a job too, unrelated to my writing, which pays the bills. My short stories have all been published for free, meaning I have not paid anything to the journal doing the reading, or the editorial time and guidance I have received from generous (usually volunteer) staff nor have they paid me for the content I contributed. Just so there is no misunderstanding, I’m not suggesting anything about the arrangements – I’m more than fine with how everything has turned out. I’m excited and proud to be able to say “I’ve been published” by a discerning group of editors.

I continue to submit my work to journals with the hopes new editors will discover my writings and they will be willing to publish my stories. It’s still extremely exciting to me each and every time a piece is accepted.

Since the end of the calendar year is drawing nearer, I’ve started to think about my goals for next year and I’m stuck a bit. I know some of you who read my blog regularly write short stories too, or write novels or books, I’m curious to get your thoughts.

     First, I’m thinking I should start targetting specific journals and create a “hit list” of places where I’d like to have my work appear. I’ve done that to a certain degree this year by closely examining editorial guidelines and reading as much sample work as I could before submitting a piece to a journal. But that’s a bit backwards to the strategy I’m suggesting. If I come up with a “hit list” I’m thinking the story I write would need to be tailored to the editorial style of the journal I choose to target – before I ever write the piece. I don’t know if this is possible, but it’s a thought.

     Second, I’m unsure if I should attempt to get published a second time by journals who have already published me? Sometimes when I look at a short story writer’s credits, I see for some people they are published some % of the time in a “pet journal” where they keep re-appearing. For some people, I’ve seen up to 20-30% of their pub credits appearing in the same place, or places. I don’t know if this is a good thing? On the one hand, it’s wonderful to have a great relationship with editors who like you and like your work; on the other hand, shouldn’t writers give others a chance to have their work appear in their favorite journal too?

     Third, most of the work I’ve gotten published this year is micro-fiction (usually 500 words or less), flash fiction (1000 words or less), or slightly longer than flash-length (over 1000 words but for me personally,under 2000 words.) I’m considering the possibility of investing more time and energy into individual stories and writing longer stories. The concern with this strategy is probably obvious: longer stories are much harder to place. Also it’s rare for me to read stories that are more than 8-10 pages online, so I’m not sure how large the audience is for these long stories either. (Stephen King’s comments about the state of the short story still ring in my head…)

     Fourth, I wonder about the possibility of writing a novel. There. I said it. The thought terrifies me, and I’ve successfully put it off up until now, but late at night when I ponder how to achieve my goal of expanding my reading audience, it does seem like something I should entertain, and possibly plan, and possibly execute.

What are your goals as a writer? If you’ve been published, online or elsewhere, how have your goals changed over time? Thanks in advance for sharing thoughts on the matter!

Trolling the Web – A Few Finds

Sometimes the best way to get inspiration for writing a story is to read a story. Great stories leap up in front of you and insinuate themselves into your brain; especially when the ending satisfies.

In my random trolling of small press journals, here are a few worth sharing:

Black Stones a story about an angel and a dying woman. Short and beautifully written by Amy Bonnaffons. Found at the Kenyon Review Online.

The Cloud Factory a gritty story about a drug dealer and his friend, who take a ride into the Wyoming countryside. Gut wrenching text by Court Merrigan. Found at the PANK Magazine site.

The Food of Love a charming short-short about love and loss by Liz Haigh. Found at Boston Literary Magazine.

What online stories have you enjoyed? Post the links in the comments section, even if it is your own story.

Waiting takes a long time – for a writer

Short story writers who submit their work to small press magazines are waiting. And waiting.

What are they waiting for, you ask?

An answer from the magazine they submitted their story to, all those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks and months ago.

A short story writer can expect to wait anywhere from 24 hours to many months to get a reply, it all depends on the staff of the magazine they chose for their submission.  In some cases, magazines may have a group of readers who will turn around replies with lightning fast efficiency. Still others, like Glimmer Train, rely on the dedication of two sisters who read all submissions (I still don’t know how they handle all of their sub volumes…) and it takes a bit longer.

My own personal experience is that anderbo will generally get me a reply on a submission within 48 hours.  That’s impressive! Of course in my case, all of my submissions have been rejected. It may be that acceptances take longer – I don’t know.

I can typically rely on Everyday Fiction to turn around my submissions within 60-90 days, and they give writers a valuable bonus for waiting – two or three of their readers will provide written feedback on the story you sent. 

A great source of information on waiting periods is Duotrope Digest. They offer a free service to writers to sign up and report when you have submitted a piece to a journal, and then report when you hear back on the submission. This information is compiled for each magazine in their massive database, and they even show % acceptances vs. declines so you have an understanding of your chances when you submit.

Finally, and I’m sure that this must be the exception to the rule, one of my submissions was accepted for publication within hours of its submission! It should be said that I had the fabulous good fortune of having the editor read my entry and the piece was flash fiction, less than 1000 words.

So what should you do while you are waiting to hear back on your short story submissions? I have a few suggestions:

  1. Completely forget you submitted the story and go for a walk on the beach/out to dinner with friends/pet your dog-cat-fish-iguana-etc.
  2. Write another story while you wait. While you are at it, write two.
  3. Submit your story to a second magazine – as long as they both accept simultaneous submission.
  4. Enter your submission information into Duotrope Digest, to help other short story writers know what they are in for, in terms of the wait.
  5. Write your new blog entry