Welcome to the next installment of Night Walk Wednesday, where I’ll talk about the submission journey of a story from my upcoming flash fiction anthology Night Walk & Other Dark Paths. The first story we’re going to discuss is “Things That Grow.”
“Things That Grow”, like the vast majority of my flash fiction, began life in a one-hour writing competition/exercise. I’ve been doing these exercises with various writing groups for almost ten years, and in them, I’ve produced well over a hundred stories. To date, I’ve published 49 stories that originated in these frantic one-hour scribble-fests. Most were published as flash, though a few were expanded into short stories, and one is even the basis for a novel.
If I remember correctly, the photo prompt for the flash fiction exercise was a field of pumpkins or gourds with a red barn in the background. I immediately went into horror mode and decided to play with the ideas of weird growing things and, uh, people who grow weird growing things. The result is one of my better horror flash pieces, I think. It’s primarily a young man recounting things from his childhood about a man who “has a way with things that grow.” When he’s older, the true horror of what’s been going on is revealed, and he decides to do something about it.
Out of the gate, I felt I had a pretty good story on my hands. Though it was rejected a fair amount, it was shortlisted by a number of pro markets and received some glowing praise. As usual, good story does not automatically mean instant sale, and I sent this one around a lot before I sold it. One of the shortlist rejections offered some solid revision advice, and I think that ultimately helped sell the piece.
It took me two years and eight submissions to sell “Things That Grow.” That’s longer than usual for me. If I have a sellable flash piece, I often place it within four submissions or thereabouts. I continued submitting this one because it kept getting so close and the feedback was so good. My perseverance paid off, and I sold “Things That Grow” to Flame Tree Press for their newsletter. Yay. Happy ending. 🙂
The Molotov Cocktail has released this story as a promotional preview for Night Walk, and you can read it right here.
If you enjoyed the submission journey of “Things That Grow”, consider checking out its 39 siblings in Night Walk & Other Dark Paths, which you can preorder in print and eBook by clicking the cover below.