Adventures in short stories

Here we are in the New Year, and for blog #2 (check me out sticking to my New Year’s resolutions) I’m going to talk a little bit about short stories.

For anyone visiting my website you will see a great many short story selections on that tab. That is a moving target. I placed a bunch of short stories last year and not all have seen print yet so there will be more into 2017. I do not intend to slow the pace.

That being said I also have had to deal with a wide swath of timing for answers back on submissions. Some people respond very quickly, at times within a day. That’s both good and bad. Every time I send a submission out there’s an unspoken hope/expectation that surely this one will be accepted…until I hear back. In a one day turnaround that idea is quickly shattered and then I have to go searching for another submission call for the story.

Then there is the other spectrum, people who take months to respond back. The hard part here is that each one of these short story calls are people who are doing this (usually) in addition to some sort of day job, and likely on a shoestring budget. Therefore it is to be expected that they can’t just turn stories around on a dime, and I’d always rather they take their time and consider my prose as deeply as I considered it when I wrote it rather than just dash off a response. However, on the flip side, small calls can also go dark without warning and I am never sure if I’m not getting a reply because they’re still working through their submissions or if they have shut down and not let anyone know. Often Facebook and places like the Submission Grinder can be helpful to know how the other authors in my situation are faring. I had one call that the expected reply time came and went, emails went unanswered, Facebook posts went unanswered and so I gave up. Fortunately for that story it was quickly snatched up by another call on the next submission. It’s a fine balance. You don’t want to annoy the people but you also don’t want your story sitting around if it’s never going to have a chance.

I try not to bug people and usually try to chalk up long lead times to not seeing that story for a while and moving on. The best way to move on is to write more stories. That way whenever the first one comes back, if rejected or the place goes under, then I have not sat around waiting for an answer. Just as we authors want the time for the story so too do the publishers need the time as well and answering a lot of emails won’t help. However, sometimes I can’t help myself! J

The other, sadder situation is when a story is accepted and then the publisher can’t continue with a project. That just happened to me one day shy of the year that I first submitted the story. It was sad because the project was awesome and the stories he curated looked amazing, but life intervened for whatever reason and he couldn’t move forward. I was very excited about that project but now that story is looking for another home. C’est la vie.

I’ll keep writing them and I’ll keep subbing them and the landscape will always be changing. That’s the nature of the beast. But what a fun beast it is. I really do enjoy writing short stories and have no intention of stopping.


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