One-Hour Flash: Kite Flyers

Hey, all, here’s another installment of one-hour flash. I’ve got a weird one for you this time. With these one-hour flash challenges, you get a prompt, usually a photo, and then you have sixty minutes to write something resembling a coherent story. Sometimes that prompt resonates, and you come up with something pretty workable. Sometimes it doesn’t and you struggle to come up with anything, and when you do, it’s, well, bizarre. This story is the latter. The prompt for this one, if I remember correctly, was a photo of big squid kite, and, as a horror author, my mind immediately latched on to . . . well, you’ll see.

Anyway, here’s a story called “Kite Flyers.”


Kite Flyers

They looked foolish. Samuel knew it, but at least the fog gave them some cover. It was probably better the few people in the park couldn’t see all the kite flyers clearly, anyway. Some of them only came out on this very special afternoon when the wind and the fog mixed, creating a sky full of swirling grey eddies and whorls.

Samuel stood on a hill, his kite in the air. It pulled at the spindle in his hands as it surged against the twine and the wind. He could just make it out in the fog, a wide canvas diamond with a vivid yellow cross. In the middle of that cross was a collection of Latin words culled from an ancient Christian manuscript, the Book of Lios. That particular book hadn’t been considered for entry into the Bible most Christians were familiar with. In fact, the church considered it witchcraft and had ordered most copies burned over five hundred years ago.

Samuel could see the shapes of other kites now, as each kite flyer took his or her place on one of the many low mounds surrounding a patch of reddish-brown clay. He knew the city had tried to grow grass in the patch for years with no luck. Nothing would take root there, not even weeds.

The wind picked up, and the fog thickened. Two events that any weather man would tell you were completely contradictory. Not on this afternoon. He looked up and saw other kites through the fog: a blue square with the Star of David in gold, a bright red triangle with the dharmachakra of Buddhism, and he could just make out the shape of a golden box kite painted with the interlocking spiral of the yin yang. He knew each of these kites, like his, bore text from works far older than the faiths they represented. Words that had been folded in to each faith and largely forgotten. Forgotten until today, when the kite flyers took to their mounds. He knew more kites lurked in the fog, some representing religions he recognized and some bearing strange sigils that belonged to faiths with few adherents. Few human adherents, anyway.

They all gathered on this day, their differences in doctrine and theology—no matter how acrimonious—set aside to focus on one goal. That goal had just taken flight, and its owner stood in the center of the mounds. The kite was massive, far larger than any single person should be able to handle—a great green monstrous thing, a floating octopoid head trailing dozens of streamers of bright pink canvas tentacles. The symbols on the great squid kite were a riot of strange angles and spikes. It hurt to look at them. It hurt even more to look at the kite flyer, even though he wore a great brown shapeless coat that covered most of his body. His proportions were oddly humped, and his stooped frame suggested something awful and ancient. He gripped his kite spindle—its twine a greasy pink like a length of stretched intestine—in gloved hands that had too few fingers or perhaps too many.

Samuel pulled his attention away from whoever flew the squid kite and focused on his own. He let out more string, moving his hands lower at the same time. His kite darted in the wind, moving back and forth. The box kite was the first kite to make contact. It snapped out the air, diving in low, its flyer clearly trying to pull his kite string across his target’s. The squid kite moved quickly to the left—against the wind—and the box kite missed its mark and smashed into the red clay in a tangle of canvas.

Samuel grimaced. One down.

More kites appeared in the air around the great squid, a riot of shapes, colors, and religious symbols on the wind. They dived in and out, their flyers trying desperately to smash their charges into the great floating orb of the squid or snap its string. They failed. The squid kite moved with unnatural speed and agility, avoiding the dive-bombing swarm of smaller kites. Its operator also snapped his kite’s streamers, the squid’s tentacles, up with surprising force, smashing enemy kites out of the air and sending them crashing to the ground.

Soon the clearing between the mounds was littered with downed kites and terror gnawed at Samuel’s belly. He had never seen so many fall so quickly. He let out enough twine to make his own attack but held off. There were still kites in the air: the Star of David still flew along with others he did not recognize. They were holding back, waiting. They had one more shot, one more massed attack. If they failed . . . He didn’t want to think about that. About what it meant to the world beyond the fog if all their kites fell and the great squid still flew.

It was time. He felt it, just as the other kite flyers must have. Attack now.

Samuel pulled hard on his spindle and his kite darted out of the fog, down toward the great squid. Others were doing the same, but this time they coordinated the assault, with equal numbers attacking the body of the great kite and its string. The squid juked in the air, avoiding all but one of its attackers. He saw a kite in the shape of great black crow slam into the squid and heard the sound of snapping kite spars. The squid shuddered but did not fall.

Samuel’s own kite now made contact, and its twine crossed the thick pink ribbon keeping the squid aloft. The spindle shuddered in his hands and it was nearly torn from his grasp. Then the sound of twine snapping echoed across the park. The squid’s line parted, and its operator stumbled backward with a shrill alien cry.

The great squid floated to the ground slowly, flattening out once it contacted the earth like a gob of mucous spat from the heavens. The remaining kites fell around it as their operators climbed down from their mounds. Samuel dropped the spindle and turned his back on the field of ruined kites. He would return in one year, on the day when the fog and the wind collide.


I warned you. Weird, right? The problem with this one is not so much that it’s a vignette or a scene; there’s actually kind of a story here. The problem is the concept is so preposterously strange (I’d even venture to call it silly) no one would publish it. Still, I’m amused by what my desperate brain came up with when given the chance to mix kites, of all things, and horror. Yep, the dreaded Cthulhu kite of doom. 🙂

If you’d like to check out the previous installments in the One-Hour Flash series, click the links below.

It Came From My Hard Drive! Part 5: Tough Charity

Time for another installment of It Came From My Hard Drive. These are short, high-fantasy vignettes I wrote for Goodman Games around ten years ago. They were used to introduce chapters in various RPG supplements I was working on at the time. This one comes from a book called Hero’s Handbook: Tieflings. If you haven’t been playing Dungeons & Dragons for most of your adult life, you’re likely wondering what the hell a tiefling is. Short answer: tieflings are folks who have a demon or a devil somewhere in their family lineage. In this book, we took the approach that every tiefling is descended from a powerful devil associated with one of the seven deadly sins. The idea is that a tiefling character would try to overcome the temptations and urges of their infernal blood and work toward becoming heroes.

Anyay, this short vignette introduces the chapter about tieflings descended from Mammon, the devil of greed.


Tough Charity

Tarro emptied the coin purse into his hand, curling six long fingers around the platinum coins. One hundred eighty gold pieces, he counted the gold equivalent of the platinum in his head. It took me thirty-four days to accumulate this money. The tiefling stared across Dhavosin’s main road to the squat temple of Elyr. A white-robed priest stood outside the plain brick walls with a wooden collection tray, entreating passersby to donate to the church. The money Tarro held in his hand, earned from adventuring, would feed and clothe the children and other destitute souls within the temple for most of the year. He scratched a spot between his horns, a spot that bore the invisible mark of Mammon, the great devil whose blood and avaricious nature were part of his being.

“Come on, lad,” Rodren said beside him. The stocky dwarven warrior was two feet shorter than Tarro but half again as wide. His ruddy, bearded face beamed up at the tiefling, his eyes full of pride and hope for his devil-tainted companion. “All you have to do is walk over there, put the money in the collection tray, and you’re done. It’s that easy.”

Tarro set off across the street, his dwarven companion in tow. “Are you sure this temple will use these funds appropriately?” he asked.

Rodren chuckled. “Tarro, it’s a temple of Elyr, the god of charity. “I don’t think the priests are like to run down to the nearest brothel with it.”

Tarro frowned but could think of nothing that would contradict Rodren’s appraisal of Elyr’s clergy.

The Elyran priest saw them coming, and his eyes widened in alarm. It wasn’t every day a tiefling warlock and a dwarven warrior paid a visit to the poor house. “My good sirs,” the priest said and bowed, his voice trembling. “Blessings of Elyr upon you.”

“Good day to you, your Holiness,” Rodren said, using a title meant for a high priest on what was obviously a simple lay cleric. “My friend has an offering he’d like to make.”

“Oh?” the priest said and cast a critical eye on the horned, scaly tiefling standing in front of him, grimacing, as if in pain. “Elyr is always glad to accept charity . . . from anyone.”

Tarro grunted in reply and glanced at the collection tray. Eight copper pennies and two silver stars rested on its worn surface, not nearly enough to feed the orphans and other poor folk who lived in the temple. He thrust his hand out, causing the priest to jerk back, likely expecting some dire enchantment from the black-robed tiefling.

“Here,” Tarro said through clenched teeth and opened his fist. Platinum coins fell onto the collection tray with a clatter.

The priest’s eyes grew huge and round at the sight of the money. “Elyr bless you, my son! What would possess you to part with so much?”

Tarro opened his mouth to reply, but Rodren answered for him. “Don’t mind the horns and scales, your Holiness. Tarro’s a good sort, and he likes to give back now and then. It’s good for the soul. Right, Tarro?”

“Absolutely.” Tarro said, unable to look away from the mound of platinum on the collection tray. Finally, he smiled up at the Elyran priest, flashing a mouthful of crooked fangs. “Can I get a receipt?”


If you’d like to check out the other vignette’s in this series, click here:

  1. It Came from My Hard Drive! Part 1 – The High Road
  2. It Came From My Hard Drive! Part 2 – The Challenge
  3. It Came from My Hard Drive! Part 3 – A Red Night
  4. It Came From My Hard Drive! Part 4 – A Pointed Education

Ranks of the Rejected: Andrew Bourelle

This time on Ranks of the Rejected I spoke with an author who directly inspired me to get off my ass and start submitting stories on a regular basis. I met Andrew Bourelle through his brother Ed Bourelle, a friend and colleague, and we started trading stories about six years ago. Not only did Andrew give me great feedback on my work, his dogged persistence in the face of rejection is part of what inspired me to start this blog. In fact, whenever I tell a story about a “writer friend” to demonstrate some point about not letting rejections get to you, half the time I’m talking about Andrew.

Folks, this guy is the poster child for sticking to your guns, working on your craft, and not letting rejections slow you down. His perseverance (and oodles of talent) have resulted in some well deserved success over the last couple of years, and I couldn’t be happier for him. So check out the interview below, absorb the wisdom therein, and then go read Andrew’s stuff.


1) What genres do you typically write? Do you have a favorite? If so, what about that genre draws you to it?

 My writing tends to be pretty varied, I think. I’ve published stories in literary journals, and I’ve published genre stories as well: mystery, horror, science fiction, etc. I’ve never really been able to confine myself to one genre. I don’t stop myself and say, “Wait, you’re a literary writer—you can’t write a post-apocalyptic monster story.” If I have an idea, I write it. And if I think the story is halfway decent, I make some attempt to find a place to publish it.

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot of mystery/thriller fiction. I love to be surprised by what I read, and mysteries and thrillers are built to surprise readers. I like to put my foot on the gas and take readers for a fun ride. I’m working on mystery/thriller novel that’s giving me a chance to do that.

2) You recently published your first novel, Heavy Metal. Tell us a little about how that book came together and how you went about the business of getting it published.

I wrote Heavy Metal as an experiment to see if I could write a novel. It’s a coming-of-age story set in the late 1980s. The main character is contemplating suicide, and in many ways the book is a character study. But I also wanted the narrative to pull readers in and keep them engaged. The novel has been described as suspenseful, intense, heartbreaking—which are all adjectives I’m happy with.

As I wrote it, I didn’t really think about how it could be labeled or marketed. I just wrote the story that was coming out of me. However, when it came time to find an agent or publisher, no one really seemed to know what to do with it. Is it a literary novel? A Young Adult novel? I didn’t care how it was categorized. I just wanted to write a book that might resonate with readers. But I imagine most agents took one look at the query letter and said, “Eh, I don’t know how to sell this.”

After a few years of failing to find an agent to represent the book, I pretty much gave up hope of ever seeing the book in print. Then it occurred to me that literary publishers often hold contests and publish the winning manuscripts. It’s one way that story collections and literary books that don’t seem to fit into easy commercial categories find a publisher. I figured I’d give it a shot. It ended up winning one of the first contests I entered—the Autumn House Fiction Prize. I’ve read past winners of the prize and am honored and humbled to be in their company. I think my editor told me there were more than 500 submissions. Somehow, from that pool, Heavy Metal was selected to be one of a dozen or so finalists, and the final judge, William Lychack (the author of a wonderful coming-of-age novel called The Wasp Eater), picked it as the winner. I always thought if the right person would just read the book, they would want to publish it. That’s essentially what happened; it just took longer than I thought to find the right person to read it.

3) Your story “Y Is for Yangchuan Lizard” was recently chosen for inclusion in The Best American Mystery Stories 2018. This is your second go-around in the anthology, and I know your last story led to something pretty cool. Tell us a bit about that.

A story of mine called “Cowboy Justice” was picked to be in The Best American Mystery Stories 2015, which by itself is one of the highlights of my writing career. But it also opened up a really interesting door for me. James Patterson was the guest editor that year and picked the final selection of stories. Around the time the anthology was coming out, his people contacted me and said he was getting ready to launch a new series of short thrillers, called BookShots, and wanted to know if I was interested in coauthoring something with him.

We worked on a short thriller called The Pretender, which was published in 2016 in Triple Threat, a collection of three of his BookShots. The Pretender is also available as a downloadable audio book. It’s a fun story about a retired diamond thief who can’t outrun his past. It was an extraordinary experience to work with James Patterson, and I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity.

4) Okay, this blog is called Rejectomancy, so tell us about your first rejection letter or the first one that had a significant impact on you as a writer.

I think my first rejection came in high school. My teacher knew I liked to write and passed along information about a “short short story” competition. (I wish I could remember what journal held the contest, but I’ve forgotten.) I think the stories had to be 250 words or fewer. I wrote something and sent it in, knowing 100-percent that I wouldn’t win. But the act of sending something out seemed really important to me, like I was telling the universe that I wanted to be a writer.

In some ways, receiving the form rejection was validating to me. No one laughed at me. No one said, “Are you crazy, kid? You’re out of your league!” I got the same form rejection all the other real writers got. I have no idea if they took my story all that seriously, but it at least felt like they had.

 5) Got a favorite rejection? Memorable, funny, just straight-up weird?

The worst rejections are the personal ones where an editor’s critique of the story is unhelpful. I recently received a rejection where the editor said that the “tense shifts were distracting.” I thought, “Oh, there are tense shifts in there? What a rookie mistake.” I carefully reread the story and there weren’t any tense problems. I thought, “Did you copy the text from your last rejection into my rejection by mistake? Did you even read my story?”

On the other hand, there have been times where editors have made editorial suggestions that turned out to be valuable. I remember my short story “Little Healers” was rejected by Pseudopod, and the editor made a note about a problem he had with the story. I hadn’t noticed the issue before, but once it had been pointed out to me, I agreed with the assessment. I revised the story and sent it elsewhere. It was published in the anthology Swords & Steam Short Stories and was listed as an honorable mention for Ellen Datlow’s Best Horror of the Year. If it wasn’t for the rejection, I might never have seen the problem.

6) What’s the toughest part of rejection for you? Pro tips for dealing with it?

I think one of the keys to not letting rejections get to you is to have plenty of stuff out there under consideration. If you only have one or two stories that you have under consideration at one time, then a rejection can feel like a real setback. But if you’ve got 10 or 12 stories under consideration at 15 to 20 different publications, then you always have stuff in circulation. A single rejection doesn’t hurt much because you have other stories under consideration at the same time.

When I was submitting stories early on, I would only have one or two that I believed in, and I’d submit those to one publication each, even if simultaneous submissions were allowed. Then I’d wait however many months for a response and be bummed when a rejection rolled in. The key for me was writing more stories, getting more out there under consideration, and not putting too much hope in any one submission.

7) Plug away. Tells us about some of your recent projects and why we should run out and buy them.

You mentioned my story “Y Is for Yangchuan Lizard” is coming out in this year’s volume of The Best American Mystery Stories, which will be published in October. I was unbelievably excited when I got the news. The table of contents includes authors like T.C. Boyle, Lee Child, Michael Connelly, Joyce Carol Oates—writers I’ve read, admired, and learned from.

Another big publication on the horizon is a second project with James Patterson. Texas Ranger, a novel he and I coauthored, is scheduled to be released in August. It was a lot of fun to work on. I recently received an ARC, and it was a real thrill to see my name on the cover with James Patterson. I can’t wait to see the novel in bookstores!

  


Andrew Bourelle is the author of the novel Heavy Metal. His short stories, poems, and comics (illustrated by his brother Ed Bourelle) have been published in journals and anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories, D Is for Dinosaur, Equus, Florida Review, Heavy Feather Review, Prime Number Magazine, The Molotov Cocktail, Weirdbook Magazine, and Whitefish Review. You can follow him on Twitter at @AndrewBourelle.

 

Evolution of a Short Author Bio

About two years ago, I wrote a blog post outlining how to write a 50-word author bio, or at least how I write one. I mentioned in that post that an author bio is a living thing and should change and grow as you change and grow as a writer. Well, let’s take a look at that bio-building process and see how my 50-word bio has transformed in the last two years (and how it might change again in the future).

Like last time, my short author bio will include the following elements:

  • Basic details
  • Accomplishments
  • Where to go/buy

Basic Details

The who, what, and where. Like I said in the first post, keep potentially sensitive data out of your bio. No need to give all the identity thieves in the world a head start by plastering your phone number and address all over the place.

Here are my basic details in 2016:

Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington.

And, uh, here are my basic details now:

Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington.

Yep, I still live in the same place, so no changes here. I guess I could say something like novelist instead of freelance writer, but with only two novels under my belt and a lot more short story and gaming credits, writer just feels more accurate.

Also, like I said in the first post, I’ve decided to reveal the city I live in. In a big city like Seattle, I don’t feel like there’s much risk there, but I could make it more vague by saying something like the Pacific Northwest.

Accomplishments

This is where you let folks know about the cool stuff you’ve written and published. Like everything in this bio, you should keep it short and to the point. List a few of your more prominent publications, awards, and the like.

My accomplishments look like this in 2016:

His short fiction has appeared in The Devilfish Review, Evil Girlfriend Media, and The Molotov Cocktail.

Here’s what I’ve been going with recently:

His second novel, Aftershock, was recently published by Privateer Press.

Obviously, the big change from 2016 to 2018 is I’ve published a couple of novels with Privateer Press. I chose to mention the second and most recent novel because it implies I’ve written more than one without, you know, listing them both. Now, when I publish the third novel this year, I might go with something like: He is the author of the Acts of War trilogy. That would also leave me plenty of room if I wanted to list another significant publication.

Yeah, I could have listed some of my more recent short story publications, a few of which are with pro markets, but I think the novel is more significant. It also allows me to trim some words I’ll use elsewhere.

Where to Go/Buy

If folks like your work enough to actually read the bio at the end of your story, definitely give them a link to click so they can check out more of your stuff. Blogs, websites, even things like Amazon author pages are all possibilities.

In 2016, my where to go/buy looks like this:

Learn more about Aeryn and his work on his blog at www.rejectomancy.com.

Here’s what it looks like now:

Aeryn occasionally offers dubious advice on the subjects of writing and rejection (mostly rejection) on his blog at www.rejectomancy.com.

Yep, it’s essentially the same, but did you notice my oh-so-clever and self-deprecating humor? Doesn’t that make you feel sorry for me/want to check out my blog? 🙂 All kidding aside, I think injecting a little of your personality into your bio is a good thing. But a little dab’ll do ya. Like any of the sections in a 50-word bio, keep it short.

The Finished Bio

Okay, let’s looks at the final product.

Here’s 2016:

Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington. His short fiction has appeared in The Devilfish Review, Evil Girlfriend Media, and The Molotov Cocktail. Learn more about Aeryn and his work on his blog at www.rejectomancy.com.

And here’s 2018:

Aeryn Rudel is a freelance writer from Seattle, Washington. His second novel, Aftershock, was recently published by Privateer Press. Aeryn occasionally offers dubious advice on the subjects of writing and rejection (mostly rejection) on his blog at www.rejectomancy.com.

My 2016 bio is 37 words long, and my 2018 bio is 38. So I’m still well under the 50-word limit. That gives me plenty of room to expand in the future, and I’ve earmarked those extra words for the accomplishments section when I have something else I want to share/point folks at.


How has your author bio changed over your writing career? Tell me about it in the comments.

Swings & Misses II: The Rejection Streak

If you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, you know rejections don’t generally bother me. I accept them as just part and parcel with the whole writing gig, a necessary aspect of improving at the craft. One writer friend even described my apparent immunity to the rejection blues as my writerly super power. (Why can’t it be some kind of spidey sense about which markets will accept my stories?) Well, damn it if I didn’t go and find my kryptonite. It’s not any one rejection or any specific type of rejection. It’s, uh, 27 rejections in a row.

Yes, friends, I have hit the longest rejection streak in my writing career. It doesn’t cover a large stretch of time, only a couple of months, but goddamn if it doesn’t feel like years. Despite the temptation to turn this post in to a woe-is-me affair, that’s not my style (or my brand), so I’m gonna engage my aforementioned anti-rejection super power and do these things instead.

  1. Send more submissions. I’m a firm believe in ABS. No, not anti-lock breaking systems (though, those are good too). I mean Always Be Submitting. Yep, I find one of the best cures for the rejection blues is to get those stories right back out there, especially if they’re getting “good” rejections, which leads me to my next point.
  2. Apply rejectomancy. As you know, rejectomancy is the arcane practice of trying to divine what a rejection means. It’s also the practice of staying objective about rejections. They’re not personal, they don’t (always) mean you’ve written a bad story, and sometimes they can tell you if a story has legs but just needs a different market. So, even though 27 is a lot of rejections, it includes a lot of good rejections: personal rejections and higher tier rejections from pro markets. In other words, it doesn’t hurt to look for the silver lining.
  3. Write more stuff. If your current batch of stories isn’t landing (for whatever reason), then get started on the next batch, hopefully after you’ve learned a few things from all the rejections you’ve received. Even if you feel like your current stories are fine and their forever homes are just around the corner, working on, and more importantly, finishing new material can be a nice confidence booster. Continuing to create when you’re dealing with a little adversity is a good skill to develop and maintain.
  4. Get a little help from my friends. Writing can be a lonely business, and it’s easy to feel isolated and alone when you’re dealing with a rough patch. That’s why I think it’s really important to surround yourself with supportive writer pals. There’s a couple of reasons for this. One, it’s always nice to get a little pep talk (or a much-needed kick in the ass) here and there from people who know you and your work. Two, it’s vitally important, in my opinion, to see that other writers are going through the same things you are. Now, I’m not talking about schadenfreude (being happy about someone else’s setbacks is a dick move). It’s about solidarity and understanding that rejection and maybe even the dreaded rejection streak is not unique to YOU. Lots of writers suffers through these things at some point.

That’s how I deal with the rejection blues: submit more, write more, apply rejectomancy, and get a little help from my friends. I have no doubt these practices will see me through to my next acceptance, at which point I’ll wonder why I was being such a whiner in the first place. 🙂

Until next time, stay positive and happy writing.

Submission Statement: January 2018

January has come and gone, and here’s my first submission statement for 2018. A very productive month, and since this level of production will likely be the norm this year (I hope), I’m changing the format of these posts so you don’t have read the same rejections over and over again. 🙂

Okay, first, here are the raw stats:

January 2018 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 20
  • Rejections: 15
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0

I sent, to put it mildly, a fuck-ton of submissions in December. (Yes, that the proper industry term.) That’s mostly because I finished a bunch of new stories. Though productive, it was a disappointing month in one obvious way. I was hoping for at least one acceptance out of the pile of submissions I sent, but it was not to be. Hopefully, my efforts will bear fruit in February.

Rejections

Yep, a whole bunch of these. It’s not all bad news, though. I’m focused primarily on pro markets now, and though they are tough to crack, some of the rejections I’ve received tell me I’m at least getting in the ballpark. Here’s a breakdown on the types of rejections I received in January.

  • Standard Form Rejection: 5
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejection: 5
  • Personal Rejections: 5

Like I said earlier, I’m not going to show you every rejection. Hell, you’ve probably seen most of the form rejections anyway. Instead, I’ll just show you a few highlights from the month. Oh, and you’ll notice I’ve stopped using XXX to hide the story title and the name of the publication. That’s because the combo of “submission” and “XXX” come up pretty frequently in Google searches that, uh, have nothing to do with writing. I can’t imagine how disappointed those folks must be when they end up on my blog.

Highlight Rejection 1: Sent 12/27/2017; Rejected 1/25/2018

Thank you for considering [publication] for your story [story title].

Though several of our staff members enjoyed the story, it did not receive enough votes to make it to the third and final round of voting. We wish you the best of luck finding a home for this story elsewhere and hope you will consider us for future submissions. 

This is a higher-tier form rejection and a good one. Here’s why. I’ve been trying to crack this pro market for a while, and this is the closest I’ve gotten to an acceptance. Sure, close-but-no-cigar rejections can be disappointing, but this gives me some indication of the type of story they are more likely to publish (in addition to reading the stories they offer on their site). It’s good data, and armed with that info, I feel like I can better dial in the type of submissions I send to this market.

Highlight Rejection 2: Sent 1/8/2018; Rejected 1/17/2018

Thank you for sending [story title] to [publication]. We enjoyed this story, but unfortunately, it’s not quite right for us. We have to reject many good stories for a variety of reasons unrelated to their quality. We wish you the best in finding this a good home and look forward to your next submission. 

We loved this story’s core concept, but we felt it lost steam once things fell back on [ending plot point]. 

This is a type of personal rejection I’ve seen with some regularity with pro markets. It’s a standard or upper-tier form rejection with an added note from the editor. As you can see, they liked the central concept of the story but weren’t crazy about the ending. This is good feedback (always appreciated), and I’ll file it away for a possible revision.

Highlight Rejection 3: Sent 1/12/2018; Rejected 1/22/2018

Thank you for giving me a chance to read [story title]. I thought this was a clever premise and had some really fun moments in it, even if overall the story didn’t quite win me over as a good fit for the magazine. Although I’m going to have to pass on it for [publication], I wish you best of luck finding the right market for it and hope that you’ll try us again with your next story. 

Okay, the best of the bunch. This is a rejection with an editor’s note from one of my bucket-list publishers. If I apply a little rejectomancy (can’t help it), part of the reason for the rejection (the not a good fit part) might be that I sent a story with strong horror undertones to a magazine that primarily publishes fantasy and sci-fi. The story has some sci-fi elements and a liberal dose of dark humor, but if I’m honest with myself, that’s just the crunchy candy shell on what is essentially a light horror story. Anyway, this tells me (along with two other rejections in the same vein) that the story might have legs if I can find the right market for it. Oh, and I will absolutely send my next (more appropriate) story to this publisher.


And that’s January. How was your month?