A Week of Writing: 3/7/22 to 3/13/22

One more week of writing in the books. Here’s how I did.

Words to Write By

I’ve used this quote before, but I like it, so here’s some writerly wisdom from W. Somerset Maugham.

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.” 

—W. Somerset Maugham

Go to social media—any platform will do—and search on “writing rules” or “how to write a novel”. You will come up with hundreds, if not thousands, of rules and regulations on how you must go about writing a novel, or writing for a specific genre, or how many adverbs and and exclamation points you can use. These proclamations will come from everyone from folks writing their first novel to people writing their fiftieth. Here’s the thing. These rules-makers are right about one thing. There are indeed rules for writing a novel. I’ll tell you what they are. Ready? They’re whatever it takes for you to complete a manuscript, get it revised, and get it out into the world. That’s it.

Now, some of my own writing rules coincide with the writing rules of others (that adverb and exclamation point thing, for example), and others do not (one of my finished novels has a prologue), but I have, for the most part, figured out what it takes for me to finish a novel—my rules, if you will. So, it’s okay to listen to other writers when they tell you how you should go about writing a novel, but if their rules don’t match up with yours, that’s okay too.

Short Story Submissions

An active and productive week in submission land.

  • Submissions Sent: 4
  • Rejections: 3
  • Acceptances: 2
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist/Hold: 0
  • Withdrawn: 0
  • Pending: 14
  • 2022 Total Subs: 23

Last week I sent 4 new submissions, collected 3 rejections, and received a pair of acceptances. That’s a pretty good week. One of the acceptances was from The Arcanist, and that story will be published later this week. The other is with a new publication, and I’ll share more info about that one in the near future. Of the three rejections, two were of the form variety, and the the third was a personal no. I still have 14 submissions pending (though two of those are novel subs). I also sent out two brand new stories this week, and I have high hopes for them.

Novel

Worked on revamping the outline to Hell’s Aquarium, and I’ll start writing new material for it soon. Had to deal with some real life issues that kept me away from my keyboard a bit more than I’d like, which has delayed my long-form fiction writing. That’s okay, though. Life happens. Everything’s fine, though, and I’m looking forward to writing new material in the very near future. 🙂

The Rejectonomicon

The second volume of THE REJECTONOMICON, my Q&A column over at Dark Matter Magazine, went live last week. You can read the latest article by clicking the banner below.

As always, I still need your questions. Here’s how to send them to me.

  1. Email your question to questions@rejectomancy.com.
  2. Put REJECTONOMICON in the subject line of the email.
  3. Write your question in the body of the email. Try to keep it brief.
  4. Please let me know if you’d like your first name published along with your question or if you’d like to remain anonymous.
  5. Please restrict your questions to the subjects of writing, submissions, and rejections. Those are pretty broad categories, though, and I’d be happy to field questions about my past career as a Tabletop RPG game designer/editor and media tie-in writer.

Got it? Then send me those questions!

Goals

Same as usual: send submissions and keep working on the outline for Hell’s Aquarium.


That was my week. How was yours?

From Draft to Acceptance: One Story’s Journey

I often talk about rejection on this blog. I mean, hell, it’s called rejectomancy, but I think acceptances can shed some light on how we as authors can and should deal with rejection. So lets look at the path one of my stories took from first draft to acceptance. How long did it take? How many times was it rejected? And, more importantly, what does it mean, if anything?

Part One: The Draft

Well, the first thing you gotta do with a story is, you know, write it. This particular piece was written in response to an open call from Flame Tree Publishing for their newsletter. They publish two flash pieces per newsletter with a wide array of sci-fi, horror, and mystery prompts. This particular prompt was memento mori. An idea came to be pretty quick, and I dashed off a 1,000-word tale. I liked what I had, I thought it fit the theme, an since I’ve been published in the newsletter a couple of times before, I thought I had a decent shot. .

Part Two: The Revision

As with all my new stories, I sent this one to my critique partners for an in-depth review. I got some excellent notes and revised the story accordingly. I don’t remember the revision being particularly in-depth. Just a few minor plot points to shore up. After the revisions, I proofread the piece, formatted it, and got it read for submission. I started the story on 7/20/21 and I had a submittable draft on 8/6/21. As you’ll see below, I didn’t waste any time.

Part Three: The Submissions

I submitted the story to the Flame Tree Publishing newsletter on 8/6/2021. It was rejected on 9/1/2021. Now, this is not surprising. The Flame Tree newsletter gets a lot of submissions for a grand total of two slots, so you’re up against some pretty stiff competition. Still, I thought I had a pretty good story on my hands, so I started looking for other places to send it. The second submission was to a new semi-pro market, one I knew nothing about. They paid a decent rate and looked like a professional outfit. I submitted there on 9/8/21 and was rejected on 9/21/21. Strike two! I set my sights a bit higher for the next submission and sent the story to a pro market on 9/29/21, and it made it all the way to the final round of consideration but was ultimately rejected on 10/31/21 with a very nice personal note. Galvanized by my close but no cigar, I sent the story to another pro market on 11/7/21. Unfortunately, they were less enthused about the tale and rejected it with a form letter on 11/24/21. Still, I had high hopes for the story, so I sent it to another pro market on 12/20/21. The months passed, I sent out other submissions, celebrated a new year, and then, a few days ago, on 3/8/22, I received an acceptance. Yay, happy ending.

Part Four: The Publication

Ah, the fun part. This story will be published on 3/18/22, and I’ll certainly point all of you at it so you can read it and see which of the five editors who read the story you agree with. 🙂

What Have We Learned?

So, what is there to learn here? A few things. One, I knew this story was pretty good when I finished it. It had a unique take on a familiar theme and premise, and I thought that might fly with some pro publishers. It almost did with one and absolutely did with another. Trust that instinct. It’s not always wrong, and if you have faith in a story, keep sending it out. Second, as you can see, two pro markets and a semi-pro market rejected the story. Editorial taste is a thing, and it can be the difference between acceptance and rejection many times. Even a story I thought was sellable, and it turned out it was, was still rejected four times. Be patient, even good stories get rejected, sometimes a lot more than four times.


Thought on this story’s journey? Care to share an acceptance tale of your own? Tell me about it in the comments.

Weeks of Writing: 2/21/22 to 3/6/22

Another couple weeks of catch-up here. Let’s see how I did.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from novelist Mercedes Lackey.

I always work from an outline, so I know all the of the broad events and some of the finer details before I begin writing the book. 

― Mercedes Lackey

Mercedes lackey and I are kindred souls in this regard. I am a definite plotter, and my thirty-chapter outlines hit all the major events in the novel. Chapter is a bit of a misnomer, though, as what I really do is outline story beats. They often end up at chapter-length, but sometimes they’re a bit shorter or they may comprise two or more chapters. Where Mercedes Lackey and I differ is the finer details. I don’t generally put those into an outline. I kind of like to “pants” those. It’s a discovery process for me. I definitely want to have the big pivotal events figured out ahead of time and a roadmap for how I get from the beginning of the novel to the end, but the little things I like to figure out along the way. Now, of course, there isn’t a right way to outline. The right way, of course, is the way that gets you a completed novel, and that’s gonna differ for just about every author.

Short Story Submissions

I’ve been pretty active with subs in the last two weeks.

  • Submissions Sent: 7
  • Rejections: 5
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist/Hold: 0
  • Withdrawn: 0
  • Pending: 14
  • 2022 Total Subs: 21

A combination of finishing up some new pieces and getting others back via rejections resulted in a fairly active two weeks. Seven more submissions gives me 21 for the year, and I need to be somewhere around 27 to stay on pace for 100. There’s plenty of days left in March to get out six more subs, and I’m finishing up two =new pieces that should put me over the hump. Five rejections, all of the form variety, also came in in the last couple of weeks. Other than that, not much else to report. I have hopes for some of the stories that are pending, but don’t I always? 🙂

Novel

So, in the last two weeks, I have read through the 35,000 words of Hell’s Aquarium, the novel I set aside in 2016. I don’t usually say this about my own work, but I think this is good book (my critique partners agree). I still have to write acts two and three, though. There are some things I’m going to need to revise, however. I wrote this portion of the novel back in 2016, and, well, the world has changed a lot since then. Let’s just say that certain events in my my book currently hit a little too close to home for readers in 2022, so I’ll need to make a few changes. They’re not major changes, but they are necessary. Anyway, I’m reworking the outline at the moment, and I think I’ll actually start adding new words to the manuscript next week.

The Rejectonomicon

Once more, let me draw your attention to my new Q&A column, THE REJECTONOMICON, over at Dark Matter Magazine and invite you to submit questions about submissions, rejections, and writing in general.

The first article went up a few weeks ago, and the next will go up later this month. Check out that first article by clicking the link in the banner below.

So, how do you submit questions to me? Easy. Here are the submission guidelines.

  1. Email your question to questions@rejectomancy.com.
  2. Put REJECTONOMICON in the subject line of the email.
  3. Write your question in the body of the email. Try to keep it relatively brief. Around a paragraph.
  4. Please let me know if you’d like your first name published along with your question or if you’d like to remain anonymous.
  5. Please restrict your questions to the subjects of writing, submissions, and rejections. Those are pretty broad categories, though, and I’d be happy to field questions about my past career as a TTRPG game designer/editor and media tie-in writer.
  6. I might make very slight edits to your questions but only to fix obvious typos and whatnot.
  7. If I choose your question for an installment of THE REJECTONOMICON, I’ll respond via email and let you know.

Got it? Then send me those questions! 🙂

Goals

Goals this week are finish up short stories, send submissions, and keep working on revising the outline for Hell’s Aquarium.


That was my week. How was yours?

Aeryn’s Archives – Acts of War: Aftershock

Last week, we discussed the first novel I wrote for Privateer Press, so now we’re going to discuss the second. Acts of War: Aftershock is the direct sequel to Acts of War: Flashpoint, and, you guessed it, the second book in the Acts of War trilogy. This is without doubt my favorite of the novels I’ve written for Privateer. Before we get into why, check out this bad-ass cover by Néstor Ossandón. (Seriously, folk, check him out. His stuff is ridiculously good.)

War Has Come Again to Llael

On the heels of inflicting defeat on the Khadorans at Riversmet, Lord General Coleman Stryker marches deep into enemy territory for a major assault. But he is unprepared for a massive Khadoran counterstrike. Empress Ayn Vanar and Supreme Kommandant Irusk send their nation’s most fearsome warcasters to retaliate against the invaders. Hope comes in the form of Ashlynn d’Elyse, warcaster and leader of the Llaelese Resistance, a woman with no love for Cygnar but who could make a powerful ally. Along with Asheth Magnus, Stryker’s enemy-turned-ally, this unlikely team must fight on despite being outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and cornered with only their wits and a few warjacks to save their cause from annihilation. 

I had so much fun with this one. In the first novel I was finding my footing with the characters, especially Magnus and Stryker, in this one, though, I really got comfortable with my heroes, and I think that comes across on the page (it certainly does in the reviews!). The addition of warcaster, sword master, and Llaelese noble Ashlyn d’Elyse was just icing on the cake. I LOVE this character, and she’s a bit of an archetype for characters I’ve written in my own works. One interesting fact about this book is that I wrote the first draft, all 105,000 words of it in exactly 60 days. That’s the fastest I’ve ever written a first draft. Another interesting fact about this book is that I blogged the entire process of writing the first draft (and beyond), once a week, including snippets of the prose in progress, art, and anecdotes. So, if you have any interest in really getting an in-depth look at my novel-writing progress, well, here you go. 🙂

Week 1 Update Week 8 Update Week 15 Update Week 22 Update 
Week 2 Update Week 9 Update Week 16 Update Week 23 Update 
Week 3 Update Week 10 Update Week 17 Update Week 24 Update  
Week 4 Update Week 11 Update Week 18 Update Week 25 Update  
Week 5 Update Week 12 Update Week 19 Update Week 26 Update  
Week 6 Update Week 13 Update Week 20 Update Week 27 & 28 Update  
Week 7 Update Week 14 Update Week 21 Update 

 


Questions about this book? Or questions about writing media tie-in, especially for tabletop game companies? Feel free to ask in the comments, and I’ll try to impart what little knowledge I possess. 🙂

Submissions Statement: February 2022

Technically, February is not over, but I’ve put in all the writerly work I’m gonna for the month. So here’s how I did.

February 2022 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 6
  • Rejections: 4
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Further Consideration/Shortlist: 0

That, my friends, is what you call an uneventful month. Six submissions puts me at 16 for the year, which an average of 8 per month. That places me just a tad off-pace for my yearly goal of one-hundred. Other than a smattering of rejections, not much else happened. The month was primarily devoted to figuring out what I needed to do with my novel, which I did, so I’ll chalk that up as a win.

Rejections

Four rejections in February.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 2
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 1
  • Personal Rejections: 1

Nothing too special in any of the rejections. The personal rejection had some good feedback, which I’ll put to use in the next revision of that particular story. I recently published a blog post about the specific editorial feedback I tend to get, and it includes some of the notes from this particular rejection. You can check that out here. The other rejections where just your garden-variety form rejection from pro markets.

The Rejectonomicon

I shall, once more, point you toward my new Q&A column, THE REJECTONOMICON, over at Dark Matter Magazine and invite you to submit questions about submissions, rejections, and writing in general.

The first article went up last month. Check out that first article by clicking the link in the banner below.

So, how do you submit questions to me? Easy. Here are the submission guidelines.

  1. Email your question to questions@rejectomancy.com.
  2. Put REJECTONOMICON in the subject line of the email.
  3. Write your question in the body of the email. Try to keep it relatively brief. Around a paragraph.
  4. Please let me know if you’d like your first name published along with your question or if you’d like to remain anonymous.
  5. Please restrict your questions to the subjects of writing, submissions, and rejections. Those are pretty broad categories, though, and I’d be happy to field questions about my past career as a TTRPG game designer/editor and media tie-in writer.
  6. I might make very slight edits to your questions but only to fix obvious typos and whatnot.
  7. If I choose your question for an installment of THE REJECTONOMICON, I’ll respond via email and let you know.

I’m getting some great questions, but I need more, so send ’em in! 🙂


And that was February. How was your month?

Aeryn’s Archives – Act of War: Flashpoint

It’s probably about time I talk about the novels I’ve written for Privateer Press in a more detail. I mean, I’m always telling you people I have written novels, so I guess it’s time to put my cards on the table. Today, I’m going to talk a bit about the first novel I wrote for Privateer after I left the company and began working with them in a freelance capacity. It’s the first in a trilogy called Acts of War, and it’s titled Flashpoint. Here’s the snazzy cover.

So, what’s the book about? Well. here’s the back cover text.

An Untrustworthy Ally Is More Dangerous Than a Known Enemy

Lord General Coleman Stryker is one of the greatest heroes of the Iron Kingdoms. As a warcaster, Stryker leads the armies of Cygnar and commands the power of the mighty steam-powered automatons known as warjacks.

Chosen by his king to liberate the conquered lands of Llael from Cygnar’s long-standing enemy, the Empire of Khador, Stryker finds himself forced to work with one of his bitter enemies—the exiled mercenary Asheth Magnus, a man to whom Cygnar’s king owes his life. Unchecked, Magnus could easily betray Stryker, undermine the mission, or even bring Cygnar to its knees. But to claim victory for his king, Stryker will have to find a way to put his faith in a man he can’t trust.

As the war against Khador and its own fierce commanders looms, Stryker’s success or failure will become the flashpoint that determines the fate of the Iron Kingdoms.

That’s a whole bunch of names and places and stuff, huh? Well, the reason for that is this is a media tie-in novel, which, if you’re unfamiliar, is just a novel that’s based on an IP where fiction is not its primary expression. Often times, that primary expressions is a video game. a movie, a TV show, a comic book, or, in this case, a tabletop miniature game. Being a media tie-in book, all the major characters mentioned in the sell text are not my creations, they are existing characters that are represented as playable figures in the game of WARMACHINE. Sure, I put my own spin on their personalities, and the book is written in my style and voice, but, at the end of the day, this book belongs to Privateer Press, not to me. I am absolutely fine with that, by the way. It’s the name of the game in media tie-in, and I was paid well, and I got to write two more books. I still write for Privateer Press, though I’m more focused on their new sci-fi setting WARCASTER, and I’m having a blast with that. That said, I wouldn’t mind returning to the steam-powered fantasy world of the Iron Kingdoms one of these days. 🙂


Questions about writing media tie-in, especially for tabletop game companies? Feel free to ask me in the comments, and I’ll try to impart what little knowledge I possess. 🙂

A Week of Writing: 2/14/22 to 2/20/22

One more week of writerly doings. Let’s take a look.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from George Orwell

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout with some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

― George Orwell

Now, this quote seems dire, I’ll admit, but it brings up an important point: the act of creation is not necessarily a joyful one for all authors. There are a number of famous examples. You only have to do a quick Google search to find the authors who struggle mightily with the process. You’ll be surprised at some of the big names (I was). Me? I’m somewhere in between. I have my moments where I enjoy the process, and then I have moments where it’s absolute torture. Revision, especially, is a demon-plagued experience. Something I touched on in my last weekly update. Still, those demons do drive you on, and they keep you pumping out the words and the stories. That said, I wouldn’t mind a visit from the authorial angels every now and then. The demons have kind of overstayed their welcome. 🙂

Short Story Submissions

Just two more submission sent last week.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 1
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist/Hold: 0
  • Withdrawn: 0
  • Pending: 14
  • 2022 Total Subs: 14

Two more subs last week gives me 14 for the year. I need 4 more by the end of the month to stay on pace for 100. Doable, but it’s a short month. If I miss it by a sub or two, I can make it up in March. Only one rejection last week, a 206-day personal no that offered some good feedback. I’m gonna let that feedback marinate, and then revise the piece. Other than that, it was a pretty slow week for subs. I did sign a contract with On Spec Magazine for my story “The Downer”, and I got paid, so that was a nice little bonus.

Novel

Well, I’ve come to a decision. I’m going to put Hell to Play on the back burner and return to a novel I started back in 2016 called Hell’s Aquarium. I’ve got about 30,000 words of the book, and last week I polished up the first chapter for a first-chapter contest. I really like how it turned out, and I’m excited about diving back into the novel. Not sure when I’m gonna start that. Next week, likely. This week, I’m gonna read through what I’ve already written, go over the outline, and put together a plan of attack. I really am looking forward to returning to this novel, and that, friends, is a good feeling. 🙂

The Rejectonomicon

I want to again draw your attention to my new Q&A column, THE REJECTONOMICON, over at Dark Matter Magazine and invite you to submit questions about submissions, rejections, and writing in general.

The first article went up a few weeks ago, and we’ll be doing these on a bi-monthly basis. Check out that first article by clicking the link in the banner below.

So, how do you submit questions to me? Easy. Here are the submission guidelines.

  1. Email your question to questions@rejectomancy.com.
  2. Put REJECTONOMICON in the subject line of the email.
  3. Write your question in the body of the email. Try to keep it relatively brief. Around a paragraph.
  4. Please let me know if you’d like your first name published along with your question or if you’d like to remain anonymous.
  5. Please restrict your questions to the subjects of writing, submissions, and rejections. Those are pretty broad categories, though, and I’d be happy to field questions about my past career as a TTRPG game designer/editor and media tie-in writer.
  6. I might make very slight edits to your questions but only to fix obvious typos and whatnot.
  7. If I choose your question for an installment of THE REJECTONOMICON, I’ll respond via email and let you know.

Got it? Then send me those questions! 🙂

Goals

Goals this week are finish up short stories, send submissions, and come up with a game plan for Hell’s Aquarium. 


That was my week. How was yours?

What Are They Saying: Analyzing My Editorial Feedback

When you’ve collected as many rejections as I have, you read A LOT of editor and first-reader feedback. I’m never one to put much stock in isolated feedback from a single source, but when you do this long enough, you start to see some patterns. Certain phrases repeated about your work. These, often as not, highlight your strengths as a writer and some of your weaknesses too.

Just for fun, let’s see what editors and first readers say about my work. I’ll only include feedback and comments from rejections because, well, when a story is accepted, I like to think I’ve focused on my strengths and held my weaknesses at bay. Not to mention, any feedback I get on an accepted story is universally good (I mean, they are buying the thing, right?) I should also note that most of the comments below come from shortlist or final-round rejections, which, in my experience, is when an editor is most likely to provide feedback.

The Good Stuff

So, what positives are mentioned about my work in a rejection? Well, different editors tend to like different things (shocking, right?) but a couple comments pop up with some regularlity.

Clear & Concise

I see these two mentioned a lot in regard to both my prose and my characters (sometimes the plot as well). Here are some examples:

  1. Writing was clear and concise, and the author has a distinct voice . . .
  2. I appreciated the clear character motivations . . .
  3. While we loved the clear prose . . .

My prose is not fancy or lyrical. It’s to the point, generally uncluttered, and easy to follow. These editor comments would seem to back that up. I’ve also seen comments like this in positive reviews. Now, it must be said, an editor looking for a story with beautiful language is likely not gonna dig my work, and that’s fine. I’ll actually look for some mention of “poetic” or “lyrical” prose in a publisher guidelines, and if I find them, then it’s a pretty safe assumption my work won’t be a great fit.

Good Action

When my stories include action, it’s often called out as a positive, as you can see below.

  1. . . . the author seems to have a fondness for battle segments, as these were where the author’s talents clearly shined.
  2. I appreciated the clear character motivations and the dinosaur hunting action.
  3. Readers generally liked the action and the ideas here.
  4. The paper ninja was cool and the action was exciting . . .

Yeah, no surprise here. I can write an action scene. I cut my writer teeth on media tie-in set in a war-torn steampunk world filled with steam-powered robots, mechanikal weaponry, and people engaged in near constant combat. In addition, I’ve spent a fair amount of time doing things like the SCA and HEMA, so I know my way around a melee weapon and generally how the flow of a fight should look and feel.

Stuff That Needs Work

Okay, now the not-so-fun stuff. When editors and readers choose to offer constructive criticism on my work, there are a couple of things I see on a fairly regular basis. Most editors are good about pairing the good with the needs work, and you’ll see some of the positives repeated below along with the things the editor or reader believed needed work.

Trouble Connecting to Characters

When my stories have issues and those issues are called out, I see this one a fair bit. The reader might have trouble connecting emotionally with the protagonist. Here are what those comments looks like.

  1. However, I found a lack of personal connection to the characters . . .
  2. While clearly a physically tough guy, the protag doesn’t present as a well-rounded character with a possibility of change. For example, he doesn’t seem to have any regrets about the atrocious acts he’s committed or even the sense that he’s open to another kind of life.
  3. It’s a solid piece, with some good characters and good tension. Unfortunately, by the end, I’m afraid it just didn’t “grab” me the way it might have. I’ve been sitting here thinking why not, and it occurs to me that I never really connected with Wyatt. Maybe if it had been first-person instead of third-person.
  4. While we loved the clear prose and the interesting scenario that you presented, I would have liked to see this story delve a lot deeper into McGrath’s personal faith, as well as the personal faith of the pilgrims (rather than simply their outward expressions of it) so that we can fully understand and appreciate the conclusion McGrath comes to in the final lines.

As you can see, I don’t always stick the landing with my protagonists. Some of this comes down to editorial taste, of course, but I think all four of these comments highlight real issue in each story. I listen to feedback that resonates with me, and I took the advice of the editors on the second and third comments, revised the stories accordingly, and sold both soon after.

Wrong(ish) Genre

Oh, wow, do I run into this one a lot. It’s not really an issue with my writing per se. It has more to do with my submission targeting and the kinds of stories I tend to write.

  1. This is a bit more dark urban fantasy than horror. The tension is solidly developed, but we’re missing the concurrent dread.
  2. We really enjoyed this one, Aeryn, but ultimately we decided that it reads more like a supernatural thriller than dark sci-fi, and therefore doesn’t quite fit what we’re looking for at this time.
  3. I like the story, but I think it seems like a better fit for our sister publication, which specializes in fantasy.

Yeah, so a lot of my work is what the second editor called a supernatural thriller, which feature elements of sci-fi, horror, and even fantasy. So they can be a tough sell to a market that specializes in one genre–not horror enough for the horror markets and not sci-fi enough for the sci-fi markets. I sold all three of these pieces to markets that publish broadly speculative stories. (I wish there were more of those.)


Of course, these are not the only things said about my work (good or bad), but they’re the most common. As I said earlier, some of this comes down to editorial taste, and I’ve sold stories that were rejected for unrelatable characters to an editor that thought the characters were very relatable. Still, when you see certain feedback pop up regularly, it’s time to reevaluate how you’re going about constructing your stories. I know I can write compelling characters that a reader can connect with, but I can also get caught up in other elements of the story, such as the action, the premise, and the plot and give my protagonists short shrift. It’s one of my writerly blind spots. I need to work on that, and I am. Conversely, I’m gonna keep writing my clear, straightforward prose and solid action scenes. 🙂

What feedback do you see on a regular basis about your own work? If you care to share, tell me about it in the comments.

Weeks of Writing: 1/31/22 to 2/13/22

Let’s do some weekly writerly catch-up.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from E.B White. 

“It is no sign of weakness or defeat that your manuscript ends up in need of major surgery. This is common in all writing and among the best of writers.”

–E.B. White

I am struggling mightily with a novel revision at the moment (more on that below), and this quote kind of sums up how I’m feeling. You see, it’s hard not to view it as a sign of weakness and defeat because the novel needs A LOT of revision. It needs more revision than any book I’ve written. It’s also quite easily the best book I’ve written. That’s a real motherfucker of a combo. The book is on the operating table, ready for that major surgery E.B. White mentioned, but I feel less like a surgeon and more like a butcher. cleaving meat and bone instead of making precise cuts. I know I’m not alone in my predicament. I don’t think there’s an author alive who hasn’t stood back from a manuscript at one point and said, “Okay, now what?” Ultimately, I have to make a decision, and I will.

Short Story Submissions

Pretty slow going in submission land for the past couple of weeks.

  • Submissions Sent: 2
  • Rejections: 2
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist/Hold: 0
  • Withdrawn: 0
  • Pending: 13
  • 2022 Total Subs: 12

I’ve sent only two submissions in the last couple of weeks. I’ve got some new stories in the works–one that’s nearly finished–that’ll bump up my submission numbers in the second half of the month, though. Only two rejections in February so far, both form letters. One took six days, the other four months. This is my first submission (and rejection) with both markets, so it’s hard to say if these response times are typical. Other than the two rejections, not much happening on the submission front. I definitely expect to hear back on a few this week, especially a couple to pro markets whose response times are predictable and fast approaching.

A dozen subs for the year is a little off my pace. I need nine a month, more or less, to reach one hundred for the year. So, I’ll need to send out another six submission before February draws to a close.

Novel

Progress on the revision of Hell to Play has stalled, mostly because I’ve hit a rough patch, and I’m not sure how to proceed. It’s not writer’s block, per se, it’s more I know what I need to do, but I’m not sure the best way to do it. Analysis paralysis is probably closer to what I’m dealing with. I’ve never failed to revise a novel, but let me tell you, this one has turned into a real bear. I’m at that point where I’m wondering it it’s not better to move on, write a new book, and come back to this one when I’m in a better frame of mind. I feel like I’m just spinning my wheels at this point, and that’s an awful feeling. What I might be struggling with is the fact that I’m approaching this is a revision, when what I’m really dealing with is a rewrite. That’s new for me.

I have not been idle on the novel front entirely, though. I’m still shopping my other novel, Late Risers, which I did manage to revise successfully, with a number of indie publishers. Hoping to hear back soon from one of them.

The Rejectonomicon

I want to again draw your attention to my new Q&A column, THE REJECTONOMICON, over at Dark Matter Magazine and invite you to submit questions about submissions, rejections, and writing in general.

The first article went up a few weeks ago, and we’ll be doing these on a bi-monthly basis. Check out that first article by clicking the link in the banner below.

So, how do you submit questions to me? Easy. Here are the submission guidelines.

  1. Email your question to questions@rejectomancy.com.
  2. Put REJECTONOMICON in the subject line of the email.
  3. Write your question in the body of the email. Try to keep it relatively brief. Around a paragraph.
  4. Please let me know if you’d like your first name published along with your question or if you’d like to remain anonymous.
  5. Please restrict your questions to the subjects of writing, submissions, and rejections. Those are pretty broad categories, though, and I’d be happy to field questions about my past career as a TTRPG game designer/editor and media tie-in writer.
  6. I might make very slight edits to your questions but only to fix obvious typos and whatnot.
  7. If I choose your question for an installment of THE REJECTONOMICON, I’ll respond via email and let you know.

Got it? Then send me those questions! 🙂

Goals

Goals this week are finish up short stories, send submissions, and figure out what the fuck I’m gonna do about my novel.


Those were my weeks. How were yours?

Aeryn’s Archives: Dragon #427 (My D&D Swansong)

Looking back over my published credits, there’s one that sticks out, a bittersweet entry in my 15-plus years of professional writing. It’s the final article I published with Wizards of the Coast for Dungeons & Dragons, and it happened in September of 2013, in Dragon #427.

My article in this issue (which is also the cover image) is titled “The Lost World.” It’s described in the table of contents thusly: We brush away the dust of ages and reveal primordial beasts that lived before the rise of dinosaurs, or after their extinction. I’m a huge dinosaur and prehistoric animal nerd, and this article indulged my love of ancient critters and, hopefully, gave Dungeon Masters some interesting new monsters to work with. The article includes 4e stats for creatures like gorgonopsids (called urdrakes), sea scorpions, and various prehistoric mammals (called urbeasts). It was a fun article to write and seemed a fitting swansong for my final contribution to 4e Dungeons & Dragons.

So, why was this my last article? Well, if you look at the date of this issue of Dragon, you’ll see it’s September of 2013. In under a year’s time, a new version of D&D would be released. The new edition, 5e, would make the game more popular than ever and change the way the game was designed in many ways. Both Dragon and Dungeon magazines went by the wayside, and since the bulk of my contributions were in those publications, so did my work for WotC. In addition, my position at Privateer Press as publications manager was leaving me less and less time for extracurricular activities, and, what time I did have, I wanted to spend on writing fiction. I’m in no way bitter or upset with how things turned out. Writing for Wizards was a bucket list accomplishment, and I have nothing but fond memories of the five years or so I was writing official D&D content. I worked with fantastic editors, got sneak peeks at awesome upcoming games and content (Dark Sun!), and I learned a lot about writing and game design.

Anyway, if you’d like to check out this issue of Dragon, just click the cover image above. This issue and a bunch more are still for sale out at DriveThruRPG.

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