Welcome to Night Walk Wednesday, where I talk about the submission journey of a story from my flash fiction anthology Night Walk & Other Dark Paths. This week’s tale is “Far Shores and Ancient Graves.”
Another one-hour flash fiction success story, “Far Shores and Ancient Graves” is maybe one my favorite flash pieces. I remember the prompt for this one because, well, I posted it. Here it is:
Pretty simple and pretty grim, but boy did it get the ol’ imagination fired up. My mind immediately went to the remains from ancient battle sites like Visby and, uh, zombies, because, well, I’m me. 🙂 This is kind of an odd one for flash because the narrative device I used is tough to do in a short space and more suited to a short story or even a novella. That said, sometimes when you try something you maybe shouldn’t with a new story, you end up with a piece that works BECAUSE you took that risk.
Some folks say you can’t sell zombie stories anymore (or vampires or werewolves or any overused trope). While there are certainly markets that don’t want to see zombie stores, there are plenty of markets that will consider them. Thing is, what you can’t sell are zombie stories that are retreads of The Walking Dead or Night of the Living Dead. You have to come at zombies from a new angle, something that slaps a fresh coat of paint on a well-worn trope. My secret sauce in “Far Shores & Ancient Graves” is Vikings and the question of how long a zombified corpse stays lively or un-lively. The story jumps back and forth between an 8th-century Viking raid that goes horrifically wrong and a pair of archeologists in the modern day examining some curious remains. The story never uses the term zombie, which is something that, oddly, seems to help when you’re shopping a zombie story (or vampire or werewolf).
When I finished “Far Shores and Ancient Graves” and cleaned it up, I thought I had a pretty saleable piece on my hands. I submitted it to two of the better flash fiction markets, and it was promptly rejected. Then I took a shot with NewMyths, a market that had rejected me ten times previously. I honestly didn’t expect anything other than rejection number eleven, but to my delight and surprise, they liked the story and bought it. So, the moral of this submission story is a) don’t be afraid to write zombies stories as long as you give them a twist and b) don’t give up on a publisher even if they’ve rejected you (a lot) previously.
I subbed this story three times, and as you can see, I received all three decisions (two no’s and a yes) within the span of just three months. That’s much quicker than usual in terms of the time the story spent under consideration. The number of submissions is about average for a flash fiction story I end up selling.
If you enjoyed the submission journey of “Far Shores and Ancient Graves”, check out its 39 siblings in Night Walk & Other Dark Paths, which you can order in print and eBook by clicking the cover below.
I remember this story, and it was SO good. I’ve got your anthology on the TBR shelf. I know, it doesn’t help for reviews, but it’s a purchase. I KNOW how good your stories are, and I’m glad to hear the final version of that one is here. I’ll enjoy your tweaks.
Thank you so much for picking up a copy of NIGHT WALK (and for the kinds words in general). I didn’t have to tweak “Far Shores and Ancient Graves” too much. It’s one of the few I think I got right from the get-go. 🙂