Writing–Cancelling “Someone To Hold”

English: A cancelled cross used for the cancel...

For the second time in my writing career, I’ve had a story cancelled on me.

“Someone to Hold” was accepted earlier this year for publication in a magazine. Last week I received notice that they were putting all of their magazines on hold and therefore, my story would not be published. They said they’d get back to me when their magazines go back into production and if the story is still available, they’ll take it again.

So, the question before me now is what should I do with this story?

I could hold onto it and hope they contact me again so I get that guaranteed magazine space and that guaranteed money.

Or, I could submit it somewhere else if I come across a place that would be a good fit.

Or, I could use it in the wrecked anthology that I blogged about earlier this week if I need it.

I guess it all depends on what would best serve the story. Leaving it to sit on my hard drive is not doing it any justice, so the idea of saving it for something that might not happen makes me a little nervous. I’d hate for this story to be wasted like that.

On the other hand, my track record for self-publishing isn’t exactly great. If I put this story in my anthology and publish it that way, there’s a good chance that it won’t get read anyway. However, it will be possible to read it. That’s not true if it’s hanging out, waiting to be submitted somewhere.

Speaking of, it’s possible that if I do come across some place to submit the story and it gets accepted, there’s going to be this nagging worry that I might be short changing myself by settling for another magazine/anthology when I should have just waited.

It’s amazing the knots I can tie myself into over things like this.

The one bright spot in this is that I have time. There’s no hurry to make a decision.

It’ll be a while before they get back to me about their magazines going back into production. It’s going to be longer than expected for me to get this anthology un-wrecked. I’m not actively searching for publications. This is not a pressing matter.

But it’s one that’s going to be lurking in the back of my mind.

Writing–And Then I Reconsider


I sold my first story of 2013 last week. Yay! “Someone to Hold” found a home!

And while I’m very excited about this as placing a story always gives me a satisfying rush because it’s public acknowledgement that I’m a real writer, it has given me pause on another project.

I’m seriously considering self-publishing another short story anthology. The anthology would use the seven stories I’ve been flogging around for a while that are ready to go plus five new stories written with the anthology in mind. It’d be set up like a sort of calendar. I like this idea. I thought it’d work for a late year release.

And then “Someone to Hold” found a home.

Immediately, I started wondering about the seven stories that are sitting there waiting to be sent out. Since Duotrope went paid and I can’t afford to use it, I haven’t made much of an effort to send any of them out. Now I’m wondering if I’m not selling them short by self-publishing them.

Aside from the fact that they’ll never know the joy of having someone other than myself finding them publishable, the honest fact is that even if I was paid a one-time token rate of ten bucks for one of the stories, that’s probably more than the whole anthology would make in a year (or more, if I’m going to be REALLY honest).

This anthology idea that I thought was so great is now being viewed in a different light, professionally, creatively, and monetarily. It’s amazing how one little success can throw a wrench in something else.

So now I have to make a decision. Do I want to try to sell these stories or do I want to go with the anthology idea? Which would be better for the stories? Which would be better for me? Do I want that victory rush? Or another project that collects change?

Right now I don’t know.

I’ve got a lot to consider.

Writing–Feeling That Magic

I always say that I’m a better rewriter than a writer, and for the most part that’s true. I’ve written about my love/hate relationship with first drafts and I try to get them done as quickly as possible so I can get on to the revision process, which I like and feel I’m better at.

However, I sometimes get it right the first time.

Hard to believe, I know, but it happens.

There are times when I get an idea for a short story, the idea comes so perfectly formed in my head that all I have to do is write it down. The only revising that happens are little tweaks and some polishing of grammar, word choice, and spelling and that’s it. Those are scary moments for me because I keep thinking I should be changing more, but I’m not seeing the problems. Eventually, after some worrying and mind-boggling, I give up and call the story done. I end up submitting it, thinking it’s a sure rejection.

Three stories that this has happened with have been accepted for publication.

“Land of the Voting Dead”, about a very unique polling place, came out in a rush and was in great shape when I finished it. It really did only need a few tweaks when I was done. Then I found an anthology I thought would be a perfect fit for it. Unfortunately, I was more than a few words short of the minimum word count. Surprisingly enough, after a few days thought, the scene I added to expand the work count came to me the same way the story did. It fit in perfectly with the rest of the story and the whole shebang got accepted.

“Sentries”, about plants used to deter unwanted visitors, was written with a specific anthology in mind. With the theme of the anthology in mind, I thought about what kind of story I could come up with that would fit it. There was no pressure; if I didn’t come up with a good idea, then I didn’t try to write anything for it. No big deal. Less than a week before the deadline, the idea came to me. I wrote it with the word count in mind, adding in a couple of scenes that weren’t in the original vision. Honestly, I didn’t know where I was going with them and thought for sure by the time I’d written the last word the whole thing was crap. I gave it a day and then read it again. Upon review, with a few small revisions, I found that it all worked and it ended up getting accepted to the anthology.

I almost got “Playing Chicken” right the first time. For the most part, the bulk of the story about a group of kids playing chicken with a ghost train and how it affected their lives, was right on. But there was one scene I just couldn’t get right. I knew how what I wanted it to, but I just wasn’t getting the job done. In the end, it took a couple of rewrites of that particular scene to get the clarity and effect I was going for. It paid off in the end, as the story got accepted to an anthology.

This phenomenon happened again last week. I got an idea for a flash-fiction story called “Someone To Hold” based on a superstition that if you leave a corpse’s eyes open, they’ll look for someone to take with them to the grave. I wrote the first draft of the story in a rush that I recognized. This story is mostly done. The revisions I’ll make will be superficial ones, polishing and tweaking to make it as perfect as I can get it. My hope is that I’ll be able to scrape up the entry fee money to submit it to a contest that I think it will do well in.

Then we’ll see if I really was feeling that first draft magic.