A Week of Writing: 12/17/18 to 12/23/18

I’m late with the update for obvious reasons, but even with the holiday in full swing, I did manage a few writing-related endeavors.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from George R.R. Martin.

“Some writers enjoy writing, I am told. Not me. I enjoy having written.”

– George R.R. Martin

This quote might surprise some folks, but I’ll bet a fair number of authors would say Martin’s quote accurately describes them. It often describes me, and though there are times when I do enjoy the raw creative act of writing, there are plenty of times I don’t. That said, I think it’s important to note that even writers who don’t always enjoy writing probably still feel the need to write, the compulsion to tell that story or work on that novel. Then, when the writing is done, and you manage to publish something, that feeling of genuine accomplishment is pretty great.  I know chasing that “having-written” high is part of what focuses and sharpens my own efforts and keeps me plugging along through the endless revisions and rejections.

The Novel

I’m nearing the end of my last revision for Late Risers before I ship it off to my agent. As I said in my last update, I’m doing a fair amount of polishing with the language, much of which revolves around removing problem words and phrases. Last time, I spoke about overusing was, were, wasn’t, and weren’t, but those are only a few of the literary goblins that end up on the chopping block. For example, I also hunt down seemingly innocuous adverbs that add nothing to a sentence. I’m talking about words like still, now, just, up, down, around, behind, and so on. Of course, sometimes you need these words and some did survive the cut (often in dialog), but like any word on my hit list, they had to prove their worth.

Short Stories

Again, with the holiday, just a little activity here.

  • Submissions Sent: 1
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

That submission put me at 118 for the year and the rejection was number 99. I did receive rejection number 100 this morning, and I’ll post a full breakdown on that particular milestone in the new year.

The Blog

One blog posts last week.

12/18/18: A Week of Writing: 12/10/18 to 12/16/18

The usual weekly writing update.

Goals

Just one goal. Finish the final revision of Late Risers.


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 12/10/18 to 12/16/18

Another update on the writing week that was.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from Edgar Rice Burroughs.

If you write one story, it may be bad; if you write a hundred, you have the odds in your favor.

– Edgar Rice Burroughs

This is pretty much my writing and submission philosophy in a nutshell. I’ve written a lot of stories, and some of them are very bad. That said, even the bad ones taught me something, something I could apply to the next story and make it a little bit better. Those incremental improvements add up over time, and now if I write, say five stories, one is bad, three are mediocre, and one of them might be publishable. Still working on that ratio.

The Novel

I’m still in the middle of the final revision of my novel Late Risers and it’s going well. I’m primarily focusing on cleaning up the language, adding clarity and simply sharpening the prose. I find this is largely a process of subtraction, and I have a hit list of words, phrases, and other stuff that’ll get the chop. For example, I often overuse the “was” sentence construction, which can create unwanted distance, especially in action scenes. So, I search for every instance of was, wasn’t, were, and weren’t, and see if I can’t find a more descriptive (and active) verb. Of course, was is a perfectly fine word to use, and my novel still has plenty of them, but those that remain have earned their keep.

Short Stories

A little more submission activity last week than the week before.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 4
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

The four rejection last week put me at 98 for the year. So, getting close to my 100-rejection goal. Here are my current stats for 2018:

  • Submissions – 117
  • Acceptances – 19
  • Rejections – 98

I’d like to hit 120/20/100 for the year, and I have about two weeks to pull that off.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

12/10/18: A Week of Writing: 12/3/18 to 12/9/18

The usual weekly writing update.

12/14/18: A New Rejection Record

This past year I set a number of personal submissions and rejection records. This post details one – most rejection by a single publisher.

Goals

Keep pushing on that final revision of Late Risers for the hand-off to my agent at the end of the month.


That was my week. How was yours?

A New Rejection Record

I’ve written a couple of posts on my various rejections records, lists of dubious achievements in number, speed, and type of rejections. Because I send out so many submissions, it should come as no surprise that a lot of these records don’t stand for long. Today, I’d like to share a new rejection record with you and tell you why this particular record is a source of motivation rather than a source of frustration.

The record I recently broke (multiple times) was for most rejections from a single publisher. My old record was nine (9). Before I get to the new record, there are some honorable mentions I’d like to discuss.

  • Honorable Mention #1 – Rejections 8; Acceptances 1
  • Honorable Mention #2 – Rejections 10; Acceptances 1

As you can see, after a healthy number of rejections (even a short-lived record-setter) I finally broke through with these publishers. One is a pro market and the other is semi-pro. The reason I mention these two is to encourage folks not to give up on a market just because they’ve been rejected a bunch. Sometimes you have to keep trying until you find the right story. I managed to do that with these two markets, and it’s a highlight of my year.

Now, on to the record.

My new record for most rejections by a single publisher is . . . SIXTEEN (16).

I know, some of you are  thinking, goddamn, take a hint! I might think that too, but let me tell you why I keep trying.

First, this is a professional market with a very low acceptance rate. As with most top-tier markets, they’re tough to crack even with a good story. I know that kind of sounds like an excuse, but I’ve seen editors from similar markets publicly state they turn away quality stories all the time for a myriad of (good) reasons. (Another reason you shouldn’t give up on a market or story, but more on that below).

Second, my rejections from this publisher are getting “better.” Earlier in the year, after a bunch of standard form rejections, I received a second-round rejection (sort an upper-tier rejection), and my last rejection was a short-list rejection, which means I was at least within spitting distance of publication. I’d call that progress.

With these factors in mind, I’ll continue to submit to this market because I have a better idea of the type of story they want, and my chances at publication are better than they’ve ever been (still not great, but better). Again, I’m telling you this because rejections don’t necessarily mean you should give up on a market (or a story, for that matter). If you’re working on and refining your craft (and your submission targeting), then keep trying, keep submitting, and you might find the right story to crack that tough market.

If you’d like to see my other rejections records, check out these posts.

I’v broken a few more records this year, so look for an updated list of my rejectomantic achievements in 2019.


Got a rejection record you’d like to share? Tell me about it in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 12/3/18 to 12/9/18

Another weekly update on my writing woes and wins.

Words to Write By

This week it’s another does of wisdom from Elmore Leonard.

All the information you need can be given in dialogue.

― Elmore Leonard

I like this quote because it’s how I generally write. I use a lot of dialog, and it’s my favorite way of conveying the story and plot going on around the characters. Generally, I avoid long passages of exposition, but that’s not to say all exposition is bad. This is more of a stylistic preference. Of course, if your dialog is thinly disguised exposition, that’s not gonna work either. The characters need to sound natural and authentic when they’re talking to each other, and I think if it’s done right, you can deliver a lot of info to the reader without them even knowing what you’re up to.

The Novel

This week, I’m returning to Late Risers. I’ve addressed most of the big problems (I hope), and this next revision pass will largely be cleanup. I’ll work on fixing the little inconsistencies in the story as well as sharpening up the writing. Then I’m gonna give the manuscript to my agent, cross my fingers and toes, and hope for the best.

Short Stories

Not exactly a banner week for submissions, but I did manage to get one new story written and submitted.

  • Submissions Sent: 1
  • Rejections: 0
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 1

One submissions puts me at 115 for the year. I’ve really slowed down this last month, but I’d like to hit 120 submissions before the new year. The shortlist letter I received is from a publisher that’s new to me, and it’s for one of my longer short stories. That’s be a nice one to end the year on if it comes through.

The Blog

Just one blog post last week. As with submissions, my blogging output has suffered a bit in the last month.

12/4/18: Submissions Statement: November 2018

My monthly report card for submissions, acceptances, and publications.

Goals

I’m back to work on Late Risers and pushing to squeak out a few more submissions.

Acts of War: Stormbreak

I sent in the final draft of the first part of my project for Privateer Press. It’s called Acts of War: Stormbreak and it will complete the story I started in the novels Flashpoint and Aftershock. We’re telling the story in this third installment in a unique way, and here’s more about that from Privateer:

Beginning with the upcoming Winter Rampage event kicking off in January 2019, the ongoing contest for control of Llael will continue—and the shape of the Iron Kingdoms to come will be decided by you, the players. Connecting the Winter Rampage, the spring narrative league, and culminating at a final climactic event at Lock & Load 2019, the Stormbreak storyline continues the Acts of War series penned by Aeryn Rudel (Flashpoint, Aftershock) and will conclude the saga of the liberation of Llael. Written in four parts, the Stormbreak fiction will be published online for free, setting the scene for each of the Organized Play events that it covers. Key factors reported by the players of each event will not only influence the next event but the storyline itself, as Rudel reactively writes each of the segments following the Organized Play events to illustrate the changing world and the shifting storyline based on player feedback. Ultimately, Llael’s destiny will be revealed, and the player-driven outcomes of events will decide the fate of key characters featured in the storyline, including whether or not they survive the final battle and what form, if any, they may take in future battles of WARMACHINE and HORDES. We’ll also see in the introduction of a new technology that will change the shape of warfare in the Iron Kingdoms, forever. (If you’ve read Watery Graves by Chris Jackson or “The Devil’s in the Details” by Miles Holmes, begin speculation…now!)

Full details here. Keep an eye on the blog for more information about Stormbreak.


That was my week. How was yours?

Submission Statement: November 2018

November is in the books, so let’s see how I did with submissions for the month.

November 2018 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 8
  • Rejections: 5
  • Acceptances: 3
  • Publications: 1

Eight submissions for November. Not too bad. That puts me at 115 submissions for the year. The rejections and acceptances put me at 94 and 19 respectively. Yes, if you’ve seen any of my recent Tweets about rejections, my numbers were off. I miscounted the number of rejections I had. Thought I was closer to one hundred. There’s a chance I won’t even hit 100 rejections for the year now, which, oddly, kind of bums me out.

Rejections

Just five rejections for October.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 3
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 2
  • Personal Rejections: 0

Nothing too exciting here. Three standards and a couple of upper-tier rejections.

Spotlight Rejection

The spotlight rejection for November comes from one of my favorite markets, one that is now back in action after a long hiatus.

Dear Aeryn, 

Thank you for submitting [story title]. We appreciate your interest in [publisher]. 

Unfortunately, it is not quite right for us. Best of luck placing it elsewhere. 

This is a very standard form rejection, so there’s not much to talk about here. I’m just thrilled I can send submissions to these folks again.

Acceptances

Three acceptances is a good number, and all were special in their own way. The first was for a story I really like that has gotten close a number of times, but has never found a home, until now. It ended up with a newer publisher, but one that pays a pro rate. The second acceptance is for a story that was actually accepted earlier in the year, and then the publisher closed before it was published. It was nice to find that one a spot again. Finally, the third story is a reprint that will gain new life with a new publisher (one of my favorites).

Publications

One publication in November, which is free to read online.

“The Last Scar”

Published by Trembling With Fear (free to read)


And that was my November. Tell me about yours.