After letting it sit on my hard drive for a year or so, I decided to see if I could find a publisher for a story of mine, Crowded. Crowded was originally written for a competition held by Strand Bookstore, which it did not win. Although I was proud of the piece, I wasn’t expecting it to win. It was a romance writing contest, and I tend to dwell on insecurities and complications rather than passion and drama. Despite the fact that I’ve been happily dating the same guy for six years, I am an incredibly unromantic person, and it’s difficult to summon an energy that just isn’t in me most of the time.
Besides that, it had a stupid title. Before I renamed it, it was called Avery Today. I don’t know why I called it that. The main character is named Avery and there’s some stuff about time, but it’s not a good title at all.
Once the title issue was fixed, I decided to see if any literary magazines would be interested in it. After all, I had been sending Angelhands, Kondrati 2.0 and Hematoma out to every place I could think of, to no avail. Why not see if one of my other stories would fare better?
To decide, I pulled up a document that I use to keep track of my submissions. Like Crowded, Hematoma is also about relationships. It had been rejected about ten times already, but a few of the publishers invited me to send more work. One publisher, Verdad Magazine, asked to spend more time with the piece before ultimately rejecting it. This probably meant that the editor liked it enough to consider it, so I sent them Crowded to consider. Then, being busy with student teaching and homework, I forgot about it for a little while.
Time passed, and I got an email from Verdad Magazine. I have trained myself to expect rejection, so when I started reading the email it took a minute for it to register that Crowded had been accepted for publication. Only not quite. The editor wanted me to change a few things first.
This was a first for me. I am not an experienced professional author. Crowded will be only my fourth published story. I have only once had an editor change anything about my work, and that was for an article, not a story. I have never been asked to make the change myself. When I received the request, I was immediately prepared to go through with it. The editor suggested that I change the ending so that it included an image. The rest of the story relied heavily on imagery, but the ending wrapped it up in a pat and cutesy way that didn’t work with the rest of the story. Once this was pointed out, I was all for it. Part of me felt like I shouldn’t be so quick to change my work, but the editor was right, the end would have been improved by changing imagery. Besides that, I wanted it to be published. I’m willing to make changes as long as they don’t damage the heart of the story, and in this case, the change just made things better. I wasn’t sure for about a week if they actually wanted to publish my piece or if they were just being sweethearts and telling me how to improve, but in the end, it was finally confirmed…
Crowded, a short story about a dude with social anxiety taking a girl out on a date at a book store, will be published in the Spring 2013 issue of Verdad Magazine!
I recently submitted Angelhands to Clarkesworld Magazine, a fantasy/sci-fi magazine. After submitting, I discovered something truly amazing about this magazine. I’m not talking about the content, which is entirely excellent, and which you can check out on your own. No, I’m talking about that little word circled in red on my poorly-done MS Paint edit above. If you can’t see it, the word is queue.
A queue. Can you believe it? This is a magazine that tells the reader exactly when it can expect a response, and lets you track the progress. How cool is that? I’ve been submitting my work for about three years now, and I’ve never seen anything like that before. I’ve seen submission managers that let you check on your story, but all they ever say is “received”, “accepted”, or “declined”. There’s no in-between. I never expected any kind of in-between. Until now.
When I first submitted my story, two days ago, it was #66. Now it’s #38. Therefore, I can reasonably assume that I’ll be getting a reply in the next few days. Because this magazine doesn’t accept simultaneous submissions, this is important to know. The more information that I have to aid my planning, the better.
This queue is fantastic, and I thank Clarkesworld for providing it. Whether or not you accept my work, you guys are rocketsauce awesome.
Image Copyright Nanowrimo.org.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is the brainchild of Chris Baty. It’s an event in which you write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. Every year since 1999, thousands of people have signed up for this challenge. Many of them came out of it with a first draft of a novel on their hard drive. Some, such as Amelia Atwater-Rhodes, even turned their first draft into a book deal. Pounding out a novel in just a month might seem daunting, but don’t despair! There are simple guidelines which can help you make it to the finish line without too much heartache.
1,667 words a day…or not?
Seasoned NaNo’ers know 1,667 as the magic number—the number of words you have to write per week if you want to make it to 50,000 in thirty days. If you’re a methodical person with a predictable schedule, this strategy is your winning ticket. But what if your life is more scattered? What if Sunday is the only day you can see your boyfriend, Monday you have classes from from dawn until dusk and a graveyard shift at K-Mart, and then on Tuesday you have nothing to do? Everyone has a different schedule, and you have to figure out a pace that works well for you. This isn’t an excuse to fall behind. Some people thrive on the mad dash to the finish line, and write 50,000 words in a week, but most people can’t do this, and it isn’t healthy to try. Work on your novel whenever you can, but don’t sweat it if one day you write 3,000 words and the next day you only write 500.
Before trying out NaNoWriMo for the first time, many people wonder whether they should outline the plots of their stories, or develop their characters extensively before the start of NaNoWriMo. There are as many different answers to this question as there are participants. Some people love the planning stages. They map out everything about their story before they write a single word. For some of those people, that works great. For others, too many planning can kill their love for a story, or make them freeze up at the thought of committing their ideas to paper. Not planning anything also has mixed results. Some people write best by learning what their story is about as they go. Others need direction, or they get stuck. Most people work best with a strategy that’s somewhere in the middle. You should know something about your story, but not everything. You know, for example, that your main character is a dragon slayer who has no idea what to do when faced with robot dragons. You don’t know that he’s going to fall in love with one of the robot dragons. Know what works for you!
Your Social Network
Some people undertake NaNoWriMo with a group of friends, and rely on each other for support throughout the process. They meet up for write-ins, have contests to see who can wrote the most over the span of ten minutes or an hour, help each other develop plots and characters, commiserate, and cheer each other on. If your friends aren’t doing NaNoWriMo, encourage them to join you. If they’re not interested, all is not lost—there’s still a number of ways to connect with fellow NaNo’ers. The NaNoWriMo.org website has an incredible forum where one can gain support, and municipal liaisons in various locations all over the world organize write-ins, parties, and other events to get you writing and to help you meet other people who are doing the same. To find a municipal liason near you, click here.
It can be tempting to dedicate every waking moment to NaNoWriMo, and many participants will urge you to do so. You may have to cancel social engagements in favor of your novel, and you may have to spend less time on other hobbies. Remember, though, that NaNoWriMo is not more important than your life. It is not more important than your five-year anniversary with your wife. It is not more important than taking your son to the dentist. It is not more important than going to work or going to school. It is not more important than eating healthy food, getting regular exercise, and getting enough sleep. NaNoWriMo should be fun, and it should be challenging, but it should not consume your life.