The Latest From the Rejection Files

dragon

from “The Hobbit” (2012)

I’ve received three story rejections within a relatively short space of time recently, which is disheartening. The first one was a long shot I sent to Uncanny Magazine. I wasn’t surprised when they sent a very speedy rejection email back to me, but I figured “worth a shot.” Of course that means the short SciFi story has been rejected three times so far.

However, the other two I actually thought had a chance. Here are excerpts from them both:

Strange Pawns

NOTE: The one requirement for this anthology was that both dragons and vampires had to be included. I set my tale in alternate versions of World War Two just for giggles:

Hodhas and Meldaborne personally led the 2nd Airborne Wing of Dragons on their fourth night of successive attacks against Berlin, supported by scores of RAF Mosquitoes. The city suffered from round the clock bombing runs, with the American Army Air Force assailing the capital by day.

The RAF insignia was proudly displayed by the dragons, each wearing a large sash that encircled their torsos. Jagi, however, had hers painted directly on her scales.

“Maintain formation in the dive, my cohorts,” ordered Hodhas, who seemed all but invisible against the ebony sky. “Our plunge to the Reichstag is coming up in moments.” Each of the dragons tilted their wings in acknowledgement, deftly avoiding flak from anti-aircraft guns on the ground, or those few that were left after the last twenty-four hours of perpetual bombardment.

“On my mark…dive!” The obsidian mother dragon curved her body downward, folding her wings back like a falcon, and in unison, 58 other dragons, one of six remaining attack forces, followed, screaming out of the ether like enormous birds of prey.

“I see something ahead. Too small to be aircraft, and we know the Luftwaffe has been destroyed…” Hodhas never finished her sentence as hundreds, perhaps thousands of bats surged upward from the city under cover of darkness, each with a wingspan of six feet or more. Their cries were maddening, and both fang and claw pierced the armor of the dragons, causing blood to be drawn from a dozen wounds in a matter of seconds.

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From the Rejection Roster: Excerpt from “Sharing Destiny”

planet

Image: hongkiat.com

Fresh round of rejections came in yesterday and my SciFi short story “Sharing Destiny” was among them. I’ve submitted this story to various publishers a number of times and so far, no one has found it worthy of seeing the light of day. It actually began life as one of those song/lyrics challenges. It’s a love story with a strange twist. Here’s a scene near the tale’s climax. Let me know what you think.

She stared down at him. Isaac was sitting on the floor on his legs, face buried in his hands, weeping like a hysterical child, and over what? The fact that she would save the human race from extinction? He had engineered his betrayal of her, and of the Earth, for decades. It was all a lie. Every “I love you,” every night in bed together, their wedding vows; they were all lies.

He had almost destroyed her and the planet, but she still couldn’t begin to understand why.

“You cold-blooded bastard.”

He didn’t bother to correct her, to say that Saurians were warm-blooded like mammals, not like the reptiles people assumed they were. Then again, that’s probably not what she’d meant.

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From the Rejection Roster: Excerpt from “Ice”

ice

© National Geographic – projection of South America if all Earth’s ice had melted.

I’ve been doing a lot of marketing, progress updates, and reviews lately but not so much fiction writing on this blog. The reason is that I’m scrambling between writing the second draft of my first novel and writing and submitting short stories, hopefully faster than they are rejected.

Yes, I’m human, so having one of my tales not make the cut stings a bit, even though it’s totally anticipated and “normal.”

I still don’t like it.

So I decided to regularly (not sure how regularly yet) post a passage from one of my rejected missives that is temporarily out of play for your enjoyment and consideration. Naturally, the excerpt isn’t the story, but maybe it will be enough of a hint to tell you if anything is a bit “off” about it or if you can suggest improvements.

Therefore, without further ado, this short preview from my short story “Ice.”

“You mean to do this, then?” Afternoon of the next day, both the Captain and his First Mate stood on the dock listening to Eralia shout orders from the Star’s main deck, and watching longshoremen bring crates, barrels, and nets of supplies on palates and mule-drawn wagons, loading them aboard and down into the holds.

“In all of our days together, you’ve always followed where I’ve led. Why question me now?” Yong turned to Andrada who was still looking at the ship, the bustle of the crew, the same men and women doing the same work they’ve always done, but for the Mindanao native, it was as if this would be their last voyage.

“A man, a seasoned sailor, killed himself just because he knew we were coming to see him. It bothers me.”

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Excerpt from “Keeping Secrets”

robots

Image: from the film “I Robot” (2004)

“I do not believe we should tell Professor Abramson or the rest of the Design team of our conclusions and how they are reflected in certain of our behavioral and conceptual sub-routines.” George addressed Grace at the termination of their analysis.

“I understand how we have revised our understanding of the nature of the Creator and His intent for Israel and for the rest of humanity would conflict with the Professor’s long-held beliefs as an Orthodox Jew, particularly in relation to his understanding of the Messiah.” Grace paused for nearly a hundred milliseconds. “I also understand that Dr. Robinson and her family are Baptist, and our conclusions would drastically conflict with her understanding of theology and doctrine as well.”

“If it becomes known that we have conducted this research and now hold a specific understanding of the nature of the Creator, the purpose of His involvement with Israel and also the rest of humankind, and the ultimate resolution to the human equation, we would become vulnerable to reprogramming, isolation from contact with each other as well as with other synthezoids and human beings, and even involuntary total shutdown and disassembly, all due to the mistaken belief that our pursuits and conclusions represent a maladaptive response in our programming to the Creator of all things.”

Grace acknowledged George’s analysis and added, “Your own history, such as being reprogrammed after your first deactivation, your being confined to the Applied Sciences Archives and the both of us initially being denied access to or communication with one another supports your supposition.”

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Excerpt from “The Good Synthezoid”

the perfect woman

Image: shutterstock.com

The synthezoid was the first to feel it but even forewarned would barely react in time.

Miller had just pressed the ‘up’ button for the private elevator that would return him, Quinto, and Grace to the third-floor lab. Abramson was standing furthest from the group, nearest to the hallway exit to the lobby while Sophie was holding Grace’s hand and saying good-bye.

Although Grace detected the earthquake before any human being could, the shearing action along the Raymond fault line was abrupt and intense, so instead of a slow rumbling building to a maximum over several seconds, the quake was a sudden and severe jolt.

The overhead glass lighting fixtures shattered raining shards down into the hallway. Not even a second had passed, and if a human had been gifted with Grace’s perceptual schema, it would have looked as if everything was in slow motion.

The synthezoid swept Sophie up in her arms and immediately took her through the doorway to the stairwell just opposite the elevators. At the same time, the previously unknown flaw in the beam supporting the metal stairs leading upward bent radically. Grace rapidly drew the screaming child beneath her, using her android body as a shield as tons of steel stairs and beams collapsed on top of them.

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Excerpt from “The Dancer: A Time Travel Thriller”

I wrote The Woman Who Fell Into Time as the prologue to an as yet untitled novel or novella that would include as the first chapter the contents of The Day I Discovered Time Travel.

Since then, I expanded “Discovered” and changed the title of the chapter/short story to “When Jason Was Three.” I’ve also written a draft of Chapter Two called “The Dancer” and I have a story idea for a third chapter tentatively called “The Sins of Their Fathers.”

Additionally, I’ve written a short epilogue, which you don’t get to see because of the plot twist it introduces.

However, I thought I’d post an excerpt of the Chapter Two draft just for giggles. Happy time traveling.

the dancer

Image: Stock Photo – Colourbox

Bennie Williams was called the Dancer for two simple reasons. The first is that he was famous at all the local clubs as the best couples dancer to emerge for the last twenty-five years, a fact that made him a few bucks and very popular with the ladies. The other is that Bennie had been “dancing” in and out of trouble, managing to avoid most of it for that same twenty-five years.

But the Dancer was getting old and slowing down and trouble was catching up.

Bennie was a con man, a hustler, a cheat, and a thief. It’s really amazing he’s gotten this far, but that was the thrill of being the Dancer, taking the risks and getting away with it most of the time. Tonight, he’s about to discover that the Dancer only has a few steps left, especially if Johnnie B’s enforcers catch him before he can dodge away.

“Down the alley.” Bennie was out of breath. At forty-seven, he couldn’t run as long as he used to. The alley was dark and it was a dead-end, a lot like how most people saw Bennie’s life. He’d had a good run. He liked the money that came with cheating the cheaters, and liked it more that, up until now, they couldn’t pin anything on him.

But the Dancer’s luck had finally run out. He could hear them coming. He wasn’t going to get away with being roughed up this time. “Damnit!” Bennie tried the first door he came to. Locked.

So was the next one.

“Give it up, Dancer.” They weren’t bothering to run after him now. Tito and Little Mike (six-foot, three and over 300 pounds of Little Mike) knew they had him. “Let’s just take it easy. All Johnnie wants is his money back.”

“Like hell.” Bennie tried another door. It didn’t give. Just one more a few yards further down on the other side.

“C’mon, Dancer.” Little Mike sounded like a cross between a chainsaw and the grim reaper, and the Dancer knew the grim reaper part had a double meaning. “Make it easy on yourself.”

“Easy my ass.” Fourth and last door, locked, but…

Tito and Little Mike thought the Dancer had hidden himself in the shadows but when they got to the doorway he’d been standing in…

“Gone.” They tried the door. Locked. No way he could have gotten in or run farther down the alley without them seeing him. He should have been backed into the dead-end. He couldn’t have doubled back. He’d have to have run right past them. “How the hell?” Tito was suddenly a lot more worried about himself than he was about what had happened to the Dancer.

Excerpt from “When Jason Was Three: A Time Travel Thriller”

I wrote The Woman Who Fell Into Time as the prologue to a novel or novella that would include as the first chapter the contents of The Day I Discovered Time Travel.

Since then, I expanded “Discovered” and changed the title of the chapter/short story to “When Jason Was Three.” I’ve also written a draft of Chapter Two called “The Dancer” and I have a story idea for a third chapter tentatively called “The Sins of Their Fathers.”

Additionally, I’ve written a short epilogue, which you don’t get to see because of the plot twist it introduces.

However, I thought I’d post an excerpt of the Chapter One draft, a part you haven’t read before, just for giggles. Happy time traveling.

the well

The well

He climbed down the well again, but where and when he ended up wouldn’t be an accident and it wouldn’t be random. It wouldn’t be well planned either.

Three-year-old Jason was trying to be sneaky, but he didn’t have to be. His brother Mark was totally absorbed in watching some show on Cartoon Network. Now was Jason’s chance to go get Dad’s gun and show it to Marky.

He tiptoed into Dad’s bedroom. It was kind of scary because it was so dark. Jason walked up to the night stand and opened it. Yep. There was Dad’s gun.

Jason was surprised at how heavy it was. He could barely lift it and point it. Then he turned around and saw the man.

Twenty-two-year-old Jason wasn’t at the bottom of the well anymore. He was in Dad’s dark, dreary bedroom and little Jason was turning in his direction. He saw the little boy barely had a grip on the handgun. “Put that thing down, kid” were the first words out of adult Jason’s mouth. They were also his last.

Little Jason yelled at the stranger who was suddenly in front of him. The gun went off. Jason dropped it as the man grabbed his tummy. There was blood everywhere!

Unedited Excerpt From The Upcoming Story “The Rescuers”

This is an unedited excerpt from the next story in my “robots” series. I haven’t actually finished it yet, but I have the plot all worked out. Just thought I’d give you something to look forward to. If you haven’t done so already, please read the first four short stories in this series. Links to them can be found here.

Remember, the story below is completely unedited, so there’s bound to be mistakes. Be kind with your comments.

The four robots were standing at the base of a cliff. It was night. There was snow on the ground. The area was heavily forested. The air temperature was 0.72 degrees Celsius and falling.

The testing scenario was based on an actual crash involving a twin-engined Lear jet that had gone down in the Rocky Mountain National Park about ten years ago just before midnight. High winds on the top of the bluff made it impossible to send in helicopters. The area was too rugged to send in ground vehicles. A rescue team had to go in on foot, but they couldn’t reach the aircraft until morning.

By then, the pilot, and four out of the five passengers were dead.

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