No news, nothing thrilling.

Normally I post here to inform the world of my pending publications and to share these glorious events with the world when they happen. This is all well and good, of course—I want people to read my stuff, right? and I want to celebrate my little victories, right? That’s what the website is for. But a problem arises, at least for this Minnesota girl, brought up to mumble about her successes with blood-red cheeks and the firm expectation that someone will ask her if she thinks she’s better than us now or when she’s going to write something important and shouldn’t she focus on her dissertation. Okay, so maybe that’s a different problem… but the one we’ll deal with today is the fact that, if I only share my victories, I start to feel like all I do around here is brag. And I hate bragging.

So. Today I shall discuss instead, Failure. Also known as every writer’s bad old friend: Rejection. 

As of this writing, after over two years of submitting my work, I have received 55 rejections, from about fifty different magazines of various kinds. Highbrow places, awesome spec fic mags, cool-kid journals, weird-kid journals: I’ve been turned down all over the place. According to Duotrope, my acceptance rate is about 15%. Duotrope says this is pretty good, comparatively, considering where I send stuff—a lot of magazines only accept 1% or less of their unsolicited submissions— but those are my stats.

All this to say that, though I do win the game of submissions-roulette now and then, I also lose some. Much more often than not—so often, in fact, that it’s just normal and not worth mentioning most of the time. Sure, whenever I send something out, I hope that I’ll get accepted. But I know the odds are not good, and at this point a form rejection (they’re mostly forms) is just a sad bunch of blips on my screen. One tiny little hope gets crushed, yes, but I try to make sure I have a bunch of others, at least four or five tiny little hopes out wandering the world all the time. I get a rejection, I file it, I move on.

Plus, as a submissions editor (a.k.a. slush reader), I’ve seen the other side of this game. I’ve rejected stories I thought were good but not great, and stories that were great but not a good fit. This, of course, is a subjective judgment, and my good might be someone else’s mindblowing, awesome, instant classic, whatever. The standard is not only very high but also very subjective. So it’s actually wrong to equate rejection with failure—a rejected story is not necessarily a failed story. Just a dart that hasn’t hit the bullseye yet, so the best thing to do is throw it again.

So, there. I am humble! relatable! Aren’t you glad we had this talk? But next week, I return to my usual braggadocio. Because if something good is happening, hell yeah, I’m gonna tell you all about it.

News & forthcomings

Lately I have signed a couple contracts for stories I’ve sold, which makes me seem like such a grown up that I feel compelled to tell you about it. First is “Slow,” set to appear in the April issue of Apex Magazine. You can see the cover art here, if you like. Considering that cover, my story, and Damien Angelica Walters’s Requiem, for Solo Cello, I’m beginning to think Apex has a thing for anthropomorphic art objects. A good thing! Obviously.

Second is “Empty Cars,” in the Blurring the Line horror anthology from Cohesion Press, edited by Marty Young. The full table of contents will be published in the not-too-distant future and the book itself will come out in the “third quarter” of the year. I think that means September. I could be wrong.

Third! and a new addition to the forthcoming roster! is “Sunfish,” a short story set in the north woods that the very cool people at Midwestern Gothic have accepted for their Summer issue. I promise no actual fish were harmed in the writing of the story. Or virtual or fictional fish. Okay, there are no fish in the story whatsoever.

One more bit of news: K. Tempest Bradford at was kind enough to read and review my story “Plural”; her column is here.

Words in, words out

One always hopes to have fabulous news to report, but, as for most mere mortals, some of my weeks are more thrilling and report-worthy than others. So, I must be honest: nothing big has happened to me, writing-wise, in the past couple of days.

And yet, isn’t the work really an incremental process? and isn’t the victory or progress really gained in those weeks and moments when one is inching along, putting words on the screen or paint on the canvas or numbers in the database or whatever, isn’t that the actual accomplishment and not the moment when someone else says “Good job”? So why not celebrate, or at least acknowledge, the work that goes on inbetween whatever moments of recognition one is fortunate enough to receive?

This also, conveniently, gives me something to post about on a semi-regular basis, when other things do not offer themselves.

So, in that spirit, I reveal the topic I will post about when I don’t have other stuff to post about. A status report, of sorts.

Words in:

  • I’ve been reading a lot about French balloonists and lighter-than-air flight in the 19th century. Also about anoxia.
  • Read the new issue of The Dark. Quality writing throughout, but I especially liked Sandra McDonald’s “Welcome to Argentia”. Such clean and masterful prose. And interesting to see a story in which the land is the main character.
  • I’ve been reading submissions for Apex Magazine for a few months now. It’s always a mixed bag—some stories I love, some I like, some that aren’t quite there yet. But it’s always interesting, always a privilege.

Words out:

  • In October I started this story about two teenaged girls trying to work things out with the devil. Finished it mid-January (after a few breaks) and have now picked it up again to edit. For some reason this one’s hard for me, can’t get my head around it. But I got a good feeling.
  • The diss grows, paragraph by paragraph. Currently I’m writing about the balloonists.

All right, my little audience. Hope your week is full of victories, large and small.