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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Haven’t Seen “Endgame” Yet and Other Updates

endgame

Promotional poster for “Avengers: Endgame” (2019)

No, I haven’t seen Avengers: Endgame yet, and unless I go with my sons and grandson, I probably won’t see it in the theater. Yes, I’ve heard it is THE film to see, blowing away all of the other Marvel superhero movies, so I’m certainly stoked. I know my ten-year-old grandson is stoked. Hopefully, if I see it while it’s in the theaters, I’ll find a way to sit through a three plus hour film without a potty break.

I’m not particularly interested in spoilers, but given various complaints about how last year’s Avengers: Infinity War ended, I did write a commentary with a few predictions, though of course, I wasn’t (very) seriously suggesting that my crystal ball was any better than all the others.

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Another Very Nice Rejection

It was actually sort of encouraging:

Thank you for submitting “The Demon in the Mask” to *****. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite meet the needs of our *****.

It’s an engaging story, with a satisfying arc, but we feel that it falls more within the realm of Fantasy than Horror.

Thanks for submitting, and best wishes for you and your work.

Still getting that “always the bridesmaid” feeling.

Quoting: Thanks for the Criticism

pliskin

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin – Found at the website promoting the book “The Light From Zion.”

Be resolved for the next two weeks to thank anyone who criticizes you.

Visualize yourself being able to do this with a sense of inner joy. Since you’re mentally prepared to do this, it will be much easier to implement.

-from Rabbi Zelig Pliskin’s Gateway to Self Knowledge, pp.184-6.

I suppose this one is good for me today, since when I checked my emails a little earlier, I found two rejections of my submitted short stories, one from a Christian speculative fiction magazine. That brings me up to about thirteen, including two stories that were rejected twice. The other periodical said that they had received more than 400 submissions, so I guess competition is pretty stiff out there. Well, at least people are reading my works before saying “No.” I love Rabbi Zelig’s commentaries, but I must say they aren’t always easy to accomplish.

A Very Nice Rejection

rejection

Screen capture of my latest rejection notice

This is what I came home to after a long and miserable work week yesterday. Oy.

On the other hand, it’s very polite and didn’t actually say my writing sucked, plus the editor was encouraging in inviting me to submit to them again.

I realized that all of the stories that have been rejected (three stories and four rejections, one tale was rejected twice) are still “in play” in the Authoring directory on my PC’s hard drive, so I created a separate “rejection” folder for them. I’ll probably rename it when I feel better about it, since it means these stories are once more available to submit.

Veteran science fiction author Steven Barnes on his blog sometimes gives out advice to struggling writers, and one piece of advice is don’t re-edit a story unless a publisher specifically requests it. So I probably (for now) won’t change any of the stories that have been sent back to me.

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Rejection Newbie

rejection

Found at “The Zweig Letter” – no image credit listed

Hi, James,

[Story Title] was well received here, but we have decided it’s not quite what we’re looking for in the [name of publication/anthology]. Thanks for submitting it to us, and best of luck with finding a good market for it.

[Name of Editor]

Dear James,

Thank you for sending us [Story Title]. We appreciate the chance to review it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us. Best of luck finding it a home elsewhere.

Things you might consider: The character is nice. The concept is familiar, but here there’s no real explanation of what happens. The backstory comes as something of an infodump.

Sincerely
[Name of Editor]

I’ve submitted eight short stories to various anthologies and periodicals during the month of April. The two quotes from above were emails I received from two separate sources rejecting…the same story.

That’s right. The same exact story was rejected twice within 24 hours.

To be fair, after I submitted it the first time, I waited weeks, and the response was actually very timely. I was waiting for a rejection of something. If you’re an author and you are sending in stories in response to an open submission, either it will be accepted or rejected. Rejection is inevitable.

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Falling and Bouncing

flat ball

Image: printactivities.com

I recently submitted an original story (one that hasn’t appeared on this blog) to a website that publishes flash fiction of a thousand words or less. Wow! Less than a thousand words for an entire story. That was a challenge.

I took a creative writing class in high school (back at the dawn of time when dinosaurs ruled the Earth), and we called those kinds of stories “short shorts”. You start writing a story as close to the ending as possible.

Anyway, I cranked out my story and it came out to just a few words shy of a thousand in the final draft.

I’ve noticed that when I write something for (potential) publication on another person’s site, I really have to go over the story again and again to shake out all the flaws. I’m a tad more lax when I’m posting my wee tales here on “Robots,” probably because I’m impatient and hey — I’m the site owner. I just want to write and press the “Publish” button.

So, I went over “Killing Juliet” repeatedly until I thought I had it in really good shape. Then I followed the publication instructions laid out on the publishing site I had found and sent it in.

Part of the instructions said it would take up to thirty days for a response, so I figured I wouldn’t hear back from anyone until the end of August.

When I woke up this morning, I was surprised to see an email from the publisher. Basically it was “interesting concept but not a good fit for us.”

I clicked “Reply,” typed the one word response “thanks,” and hit “Send.”

But I couldn’t leave it alone.

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