Archive for May, 2015

Like many writers, I’ve sent stories, articles and poems out to magazines and anthologies – then heard nothing. The response time posted on the publisher’s website has long since passed, and I wonder do I query them about the status of my submission or just wait.

My solution has always been to give the publisher some extra time, then send a polite inquiry along the lines of: “I’m just checking to make sure you received my submission, [insert a title here]. If it was received, would you tell me the status of [insert title] so I can keep my submission records up to date. Thanks for your time.” I then add a salutation of some sort and my name.

First, I want to  make sure the publication actually received my submission. I know some publications have an automatic “We got it” email which is sent to the email from which a submission came. But not every publication chooses to send such a response. Before I huff and puff about the tardiness of the publication’s response time, I need to make certain they’ve actually received my manuscript.

Second, I want to check on the status of the submission. Perhaps, they’ve made a decision and either have forgotten to send me that rejection or acceptance email, or they sent it once and it was lost in the ether (or my spam box). Maybe, their personal life has become complicated due to illness, work, family responsibilities, etc., and they’re behind on reading and responding to submissions. If this is the case, then it becomes my decision whether to leave the submission with them, or to withdraw the manuscript and send it elsewhere.

Third, if the publication is going belly-up (a colorful way of saying they’re going to close), then I can move on and send the manuscript out to another publisher. I’ve even received an email with this sad information accompanied by note from the editor suggesting another market which might like my manuscript.

By the way, everything in this post and in the article I’ll be linking to at the end holds true for illustrators, too. I recently inquired after 4 illustrations, and heard promptly back from the publishers. All 4 will be used (and I’ll be paid for them). The reasons for the delay in responding varied, but the reasons were the usual things in life which delay each of us from creative endeavors.

I hope you enjoy another point of view about when to inquire in: The Art of Submission: Inquiring After Our Work by Emily Lackey (as posted by She Writes).

Keep writing and keep reading. (Maybe even read one of my books!)

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I enjoy short stories – I love to write and read them. Which is why I’ve published 2 collections of short fiction: Owl Light and The Greener Forest, and why I’m delighted to be editing an anthology (along with my marvelous co-editor), called Hides the Dark Tower for Pole to Pole Publishing.

I know many readers prefer novels, and I enjoy reading novels, too. That said, I encourage readers to pick up a short fiction collection and discover reading short stories is like having a bowl of candy – it’s hard to eat (or read) just one!

As for writers, short fiction is both fun to write and an excellent writing exercise. The length restrictions force a writer to be selective in his words, number of characters, complexity of storyline, etc.

I found an interesting article on short fiction in the online magazine Cracked Eye.

How about you? Do you read short fiction?

Here are the links for those who want to know more about Pole to Pole Publishing or Hides the Dark Tower.

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       In two writing groups (to which I belong),  I discovered lots of Facebook and email chatter asking what an editor really wants in submissions for a themed anthology. I think the anthology which began this discussion is one I’m currently editing (along with another writer-editor). So I’m taking this opportunity to talk about what editors want (at least the editors of projects I’ve worked on).
     When editors announce the guidelines for a themed anthology, we list exactly what we were looking for. No games. No tricks. It’s a themed anthology, so address the theme!
     Using the themed anthology I’m currently selecting stories for as an example: The editors of Hides the Dark Tower have rejected dozens of marvelous stories that failed to include a tower or tower-like structure. That said, we’ve taken stories in which authors found a creative take on the theme (a lighthouse and towering circus structure for example). The first images which pop into your mind (Tower of Babel, Rapunzel, a castle tower, etc.) also popped into the minds of other writers. Perhaps your take on those quick-to-pop-into-the-head ideas is so unique and marvelous that no one else has submitted something similar – but be assured we’ve received many stories on Babel, Rapunzel, and castles.
     As to length, the story needs to be the length necessary to tell the tale. If the story fulfills its mission in 500-words or 5,000-words or anything in between, then it’s the correct length. Many writers have ignored the 5,000-word limit set for Hides the Dark Tower. The other editor and I will usually read the first 2 pages, then look at the last page (or 2). If the story seems compelling, we’ll ask a writer to shorten the length and re-submit. Some of those re-submits have been accepted, some have not. But if the over-5,000-word tale doesn’t “grab” us in those few pages – it is rejected without a complete read.
     Though it sounds terrible, the reality is editors are looking for not only reasons to accept your story (professional presentation, thematically appropriate, correct word length, good writing, unique and interesting story, etc.), but also reasons to reject the story (weird font, off theme, too long or short, poor writing, inconsistent point of view, over-used ideas, 2-dimensional characters, etc.)
     Give your story the best chance possible by eliminating the reasons for an editor to reject it! Read the guidelines for the anthology or magazine (believe me, a science-fiction magazine doesn’t want to see a fantasy story, a paranormal romance magazine doesn’t want to read a slasher tale, etc.) – so magazines often have a thematic vibe, too. Then, just follow directions.
     Lastly, write a fabulous story!
     One other thing about themed anthologies: Themed anthos are great writing prompts! I’ve found in my own writing, trying to create a unique take on a theme has often pushed me to write a story which I might otherwise not have written. Many of those stories don’t make it into the anthology which was the impetus for the tale (they’re often completed and polished after the deadline). But most of them have made it into another anthology or speculative magazine.
     Best of luck to any of you wading into the world of anthologies, whether as a writer or an editor (or maybe both). And for you readers, anthologies are one of the best ways to read the kind of stories you enjoy while being introduced to new writers.
     Want to show some love for my blog? Visit my Amazon page and buy one of my books.
     Interested in learning more about Pole to Pole Publishing or Hides the Dark Tower?
     Happy reading and writing!

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One of the most exciting and scary things an author has to do is the “Author Talk.”

I’ve been to many “Author Talks.” Some were so wonderful, I recommend attending this author’s events to fellow readers/writers (Sherman Alexie, Neil Gaiman, and Alice Hoffman come to mind). Some were so awful, I recommend not attending this author’s events to fellow readers/writers. (No, I’m not going to name names). Most were just “okay.”

Which beings me to a good article by Matthew Dicks, Re-imagining the Author Talk in Three Parts, published in Huffington Post. I hope you find the article as informative as I did. Here’s the link.

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