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.

A Week of Writing: 11/19/18 to 11/25/18

Hey, all, here’s another week of writerly workings.

Words to Write By

This week I return, once again, to the hallowed wisdom of Stephen King.

“Sometimes you have to go on when you don’t feel like it, and sometimes you’re doing good work when it feels like all you’re managing is to shovel shit from a sitting position.”

― Stephen King

I love this quote because it exposes the often brutal truth of the writing experience. Well, for me anyway. Yeah, sure, there are times when I feel like stardust and sunshine are flowing from my fingertips onto the page, but that’s pretty rare to be honest. On the other hand, the shoveling shit thing? The writing when I don’t feel like it? That I am very familiar with. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m not great at judging my own work, especially when I’m churning out the first draft. That feeling of the unknown, of god, I hope this isn’t total garbage, can really color my emotions when I’m creating. Despite those emotions, I have to do what Stephen King says. I have to go on, and I usually do. Invariably, when I go back and read what I’ve written the next day, it’s never as bad as I feared. Hell, sometimes it’s even pretty good.

The Novel

I finished the first draft of my project for Privateer Press and sent it off. This week, I’ll dive back in to revisions on Late Risers while I wait for notes from Privateer. I’d like to finish revisions of the novel by the end of the year. I think that’s doable.

Short Stories

Like last week, I was pressing to finish my project for Privateer Press. Add to that the Thanksgiving holiday, and, well, I didn’t get much done with submissions. Despite that, it was a pretty good week.

  • Submissions Sent: 1
  • Rejections: 0
  • Acceptances: 2
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

So, the one submission and pair of acceptances put me at 113 submissions for the year and 18 acceptances (I’ve since received a 19th). I’m still at 97 rejections for the year, but I have 10 submissions pending, so I should break that 100 mark in the next week or two.

The Blog

Again, sadly, just one blog post last week. I’m back on track, though, so count on at least two this week.

11/20/18: A Week of Writing: 11/12/18 to 11/18/18

The usual weekly update on submissions, rejections, acceptances, and other writerly things.

Goals

It’s back to work on the novel and maybe finish up a new short story or two.

Submission Spotlight

This week I’d like to call your attention to the latest flash fiction contest from The Molotov Cocktail. This one is called Phantom Flash, and here’s a bit about what they’re looking for:

Time to get weird. The Phantom Flash contest focuses on the strange and surreal, on the otherworldly and unsettling, on the things that just don’t have any rational explanation. Let your minds wander to the darkest corners of your imagination, where the fluidity of dreams pours over concrete realities. The parameters for this contest are as boundless as the cosmos.

Final deadline on this one is 1/31/19. Full submission details in the link below.

Phantom Flash Guidelines


That was my week. How was yours?

A Week of Writing: 11/12/18 to 11/18/18

Late again and missing a week, but I’m back on track with another weekly writing update.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from comedian, actor, producer, and writer Carol Leifer.

“As a writer, the worst thing you can do is work in an environment of fear of rejection.”

—Carol Leifer

I think it’s important for a writer to envision every story they send out getting accepted and published, and, at the same time, accepting there’s likely going to be a rejection or two (or ten) along the way. Carol Leifer’s quote resonates with me because while you have to expect rejections, you can’t let the prospect of getting rejected keep you from writing and submitting your work or submitting your work to the best and toughest markets. You have to keep writing, keep submitting, and come to an understanding that rejection is just a part of the process. It helps you get better, it helps you find the best markets for your work, and it helps you develop that thick skin every creative person needs. In my opinion, that’s nothing to fear.

The Novel

Revisions on my novel Late Risers is on hold for a bit while I work on a project for Privateer Press. Last week, I wrote 10,000 words on that project. I’d like to tell you more about it, and I will soon, but for now I’ll just say it’s nice to step back into a familiar story. 🙂

Short Stories

With the new project for Privateer Press and a few other things, I didn’t get a lot done submission-wise last week.

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

With this tiny bit of activity, I’m at 112 submission and 97 rejections for the year. It would be nice to end the year with 100 rejections and 20 acceptances (currently at 17).

The Blog

Just one blog posts last week.

11/16/18: Submissions: No Accounting for Taste

In this post, I take a look at how editorial taste can influence rejections and acceptances.

Goals

I’m going to finish up my current project with Privateer Press this week, do that Thanksgiving thing, and then get back to work on the novel.

Story Spotlight

My flash fiction story “The Last Scar” was published by Trembling with Fear last week, and you can read it for free by clicking the link below.

“The Last Scar”


That was my week. How was yours?

Submissions: No Accounting for Taste

The old saying goes one person’s trash is another person’s treasure. That’s applicable to a wide variety of creative endeavors, and writing is no exception. What I mean is that when you send out submissions, whether or not you get published is due to a number of factors. The two biggest are write a good story and make sure that story is appropriate for the market. Another important one, I think, is editorial preference. Even if you nail the first two elements (good story and good for the market), the person reading your story has to, you know, like it, and that is a pretty subjective thing. Let me see if I can illustrate the point with some of my own submissions.

The chart below includes eight stories and five markets – two pro markets, two semi-pro markets, and one token market. I send a lot of stories to these five publishers and they all generally publish the same type of material, namely speculative fiction that includes, fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. I also end up sending the same story to these markets after one or more of them rejects it. Take a look.

Pro 1 Pro 2 Semi-Pro  1 Semi-Pro 2 Token 1
Story 1 Accepted Rejected
Story 2 Rejected Rejected Accepted Rejected
Story 3 Accepted Rejected Rejected
Story 4 Rejected Accepted
Story 5 Accepted Rejected Rejected
Story 6 Accepted Rejected
Story 7 Accepted Rejected
Story 8 Rejected Accepted

I’m not using the names of the stories or the names of the markets because I don’t want to give the impression that any of these publishers are wrong for rejecting my stories or right for accepting them. This is just a sampling of my submissions to illustrate my point that editorial preference (which is neither right nor wrong) plays a role in getting published.

If editorial preference plays a significant role, how do you improve your chances of acceptance? Well, that’s where submission targeting comes in. For starters, you should read sample stories from the magazine, which’ll give you a good idea of the content the editors like. That said, I find once I start getting responses from editors in the form of rejections or acceptances, I can really drill down on their preferences (especially if they’re kind enough to give me some feedback).

Sometimes you hit the mark right off the bat. For example, pro market 1 and semi-pro market 2 accepted the first stories I sent them, and that helped me narrow down what to send them next. The result? I’ve been accepted by both markets a number of times. On the other side of that coin are pro market 2 and semi-pro market 1. I had seven and ten stories rejected by those markets respectively before I broke through. The stories they accepted had a very specific style and that told me A LOT about what I should be sending these publishers.

The take away here, for me at least, is there’s no exact formula, no foolproof plan to getting a story accepted. You have to commit to perfecting your style and craft, be diligent with your research, and, yes, accept a fair amount of trial and error. In addition, don’t give up on a market just because they’ve rejected you a bunch. It might be that you simply haven’t sent them the right story yet.


Thoughts on editorial preference? Tell me about them in the comments.

A Week of Writing: 10/29/18 to 11/4/18

Another Tuesday update. Here’s the writing week that was.

Words to Write By

This week’s quote comes from heralded science fiction author Larry Niven.

You learn by writing short stories. Keep writing short stories. The money’s in novels, but writing short stories keeps your writing lean and pointed.

– Larry Niven

I wrote a lot of short stories before I attempted a novel, and I agree with Larry Niven’s quote. Short stories do keep your writing lean. For me, a lot of that comes from the word count limits you’re have to deal with when submitting short fiction. Generally, that means anything longer than 5,000 words is a tough sell. I also write a lot of flash fiction, limiting myself to just 1,000 words. I think the most important skill I’ve learned in writing short stories is to get to the point as quickly as possible. That’s a handy skill when it comes to writing novels, and, I find, helps me keep my story moving. Of course, with flash especially, you also learn to remove everything that is not essential from a story, which is a skill that translates very well to novels.

The Novel

I’m still working through the third revision, and I’ve fixed a couple of big problems. The best thing about this current revisions is that it’s revealed to me how to fix two or three of the major issues with the book, and that’ll be my focus for the next go-around. The tough part of this whole process, for me, is that clawing urgency to get the book finished, get it out there, get it done. But that won’t serve me in the long run, and sending out a half-finished manuscript is certainly not a path to anything resembling success.

Short Stories

I got back on track with submissions last week, and I’m making good progress this week too.

  • Submissions Sent: 3
  • Rejections: 4
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 0
  • Shortlist: 0

The three submissions last week put me at a grand total of 108 for the year (I’m up to 111 as of today). All the rejections last week came from the same market at the same time, which I was more or less expecting.

The Blog

Two blog posts last week.

10/22/18: A Week of Writing: 10/22/18 to 10/28/18

The usual weekly writing report.

10/26/18: Submission Statement: October 2018

My monthly report card for all things submissions.

Goals

The usual. Keep plugging away at the current revision and send more short stories out.

Submission Spotlight

This week I’d like to draw your attention to a horror market that has just reopened their doors for submissions. After a long hiatus, Shock Totem is back in action. I have very fond memories of this market because I cut my flash fiction teeth on their bi-weekly one-hour flash fiction challenge, participating over fifty times. Many of the stories I threw together in an hour have gone on to publication, and I’m thrilled to see Shock Totem reborn and accepting submissions again. Shock Totem is a pro market that accepts works up to 5,000 words (they also take reprints). Full submission guidelines in the link below.

Shock Totem Submission Guidelines


That was my week. How was yours?

Submission Statement: October 2018

October has come and gone, and here are my submission endeavors for the month.

October 2018 Report Card

  • Submissions Sent: 10
  • Rejections: 11
  • Acceptances: 0
  • Publications: 3

Ten submissions is solid, and it puts me at 106 for the year. Lots of rejections this month, and for the first time in a while, no acceptances.

Rejections

Eleven rejections for October.

  • Standard Form Rejections: 8
  • Upper-Tier Form Rejections: 2
  • Personal Rejections: 1

As usual, lots of standard form rejections with a smattering of upper-tier and personal.

Spotlight Rejection

The spotlight rejection for October comes from a big market I really hope to crack some day.

Dear Aeryn, 

Thank you for sending us [story title] for consideration. 

We appreciate the opportunity to read your work, but unfortunately this one isn’t for us. 

Please note we received more than 1,750 submissions for approximately 20 slots, which means a lot of very, very good stories are not making the cut. (There are even some great stories that just aren’t right for our market.) 

Please keep on writing, revising, and submitting to the very best markets you can find. It can be an arduous journey, but a fulfilling and rewarding one as well. And with each new story you write, you’re honing your craft. No effort at your writing desk is ever wasted.

We wish you the very best of luck with your work. 

Some of you won’t have much difficulty figuring out which market this rejection comes from, but I shared it because of the submission numbers the editor included. This is a good example of the kind of odds you’re sometimes up against with pro markets. Here we’re looking at 20 slots for a whopping 1,750 submissions. That’s around a one-percent acceptance rate. As the editor points out, this means very good and even great stories are going to be rejected. It’s good to keep that in mind when you’re submitting to big markets so those form rejections don’t bum you out too much.

Publications

Three publications in October, the first of which is free to read online.

“When the Lights Go On”

Published by The Arcanist (free to read)

“Burning Man”

Published by Havok Magazine

“Time Waits for One Man”

Published by Factor Four Magazine

 


And that was my October. Tell me about yours.