Tag Archive: fantasy

Quick Response

So, there’s good news and bad news and more good news, with regards to the short story I submitted last week.

First, the good news: I received a response from the publisher to which I submitted my story.  That’s a pretty impressive response time.  I didn’t expect an answer, one way or the other, for another week at best.

The bad news, though, is one you can probably guess: the story was rejected for publication.  This comes as no surprise.  Although the market to which I had submitted was one that I knew best (having been a long-time reader of that magazine) and thus one which I felt this story was well-suited (not because I read the magazine, but because I feel the story is similar in tone to other stories published in that magazine), I also knew that this top-tier market was one that is notoriously difficult to break into.  They have very high standards, and they receive a lot of submissions.

The other good news is not really so much good news as it is positive spin.  The response was not merely a form rejection.  It’s a short, polite, and professional reply, for which I’m appreciative.  On Jay Lake’s Hierarchy of Editorial Responses, I believe this counts as a “neutral rejection”, which is second-from-the-bottom (a better response, in other words, than a rejection with a negative comment).  But, as I said, it was politely written, and ended with a wish of good luck in finding the story a home, which had an ameliorating effect.

What remains, now, is to take the story, dust it back off, and find someone else to submit it to.  Luckily I have another market picked out.  For this one, though, I expect a much longer wait time for a response, because the market in question is actually a contest (one with a fairly prestigious history), so I wouldn’t expect a reply until the contest close date was over.  In some ways, getting this first rejection may have been the better option, because this story might be particularly well-suited to the needs of this contest.

If the story does not do well at the contest, then it’s back to the drawing board.  Generally, you dust yourself off and move on, but it will take some thinking before I can submit to another market after this contest.  That’s because the story in question is a sliver over 12,000 words long – novela length, by SFWA standards – but there are relatively few markets for fantasy fiction that accept works of that length ( can count those I know of on one hand), and roughly zero paying markets will accept a serialized novela.  So, even though the story is quite good (in my opinion, of course), the chances of it seeing the light of day diminish rapidly with each rejection.

One lesson, of course: write shorter stories.  Easier said than done.  I like the complex interplay of themes (it’s how I roll), and the shorter the story, the less you can do in that regard.  The corollary: maybe I should be a novelist instead.

Oh, wait.

The Next Story

Well, I said I would try to start work on my next story pretty soon, and I have fulfilled that promise.  I’ve started some preliminary work on a short story that I’m calling “What Happened in August Valley”.  I’ve got a character list, most of a small plot outline, and about 500 words of prose written.  It’s a semi-autobiographical story that’s heavily altered with some contemporary fantasy mojo.

And that fact makes me wonder.  I can imagine a world in which both this story and the story I just submitted both get published.  That story is also a contemporary fantasy.  If both of my first two published stories are contemporary fantasy, do I threaten to typecast myself as a purely contemporary fantasy writer?

I suspect that the answer is no: two short stories do not a career make nor, for that matter, a trend.  And the splashes I’m likely to make with either story, in the event they are published, will be small at first.  So, that thought is a relief.  Because I don’t want to write just contemporary fantasy.  I want to write epic fantasy, and heroic fantasy, and maybe even occassionally some space opera and science fiction.

So… I’m toying with some very preliminary ideas for my third story… it’s a bit early to think about that, but so it is.  I don’t have a plot, just a milieu in mind, but that one, if I do it, will mix things up a bit for my writing resume.

In the meantime, I have this story I’ve started writing.  It’s proving a little bit tricky.  I have what I think is a nice opening.  I know what the closing line will be.  But… I’m struggling with the climactic moment.  The problem is that the story is loosely based on some events that actually happened to me (events that were, in fact, a little surreal).  But in real life there was no climactic turning point.  (And in real life no one died.  Don’t worry.  The character who dies was volunteered to that fate by the person on whom the character is based, in the same conversation with that friend when he suggested I turn those events into a story.)

I’ll figure it out, hopefully, in the end – though it will be slow going because my focus, right now, is on other, more time-pressing things.  But hopefully, when I do finish it,  it will be as fun a read as the real events were to live through.