I reworked “Of Bones and Blades” and resubmitted it to Black Dragon, White Dragon. The opening lines of the response seemed promising:
Jeff, you’ve written a much better “story” here (in quotes because the original incarnation seemed to lack that “story” completeness), with a concrete resolution to why your protagonist is doing what he’s doing. You’ve answered the questions “what would happen if he succeeded?” and “what would happen if he failed?” neatly as well.
It was, however, another rejection. Apparently the editor didn’t quite buy the reasons for the protagonist’s actions (seeking powerful weapons to save his people from what he sees as imminent destruction) — “it just didn’t resonate with something that made me care about the conflict resolution the way the protagonist cares about it.”
Sometimes I don’t quite understand what people are looking for. Maybe it’s a difference in how people look at what makes something a “story.” I’ll buy his notion that the original version was incomplete; it was pretty much a fight scene and nothing else. But everything seems to lead to more questions the editor seems to think need answered. I’d argue that a story doesn’t tell everything in the world, especially a short story.
A tale is like a window on a moment in history. At some point, it ends. The world continues. You may have some idea of what led to the events described and perhaps some knowledge of what comes after, but there are a lot of things you don’t know and will never know. What happened to the family in “The Lottery” afterward? How was the prophecy of Prince Joshua’s twin infants fulfilled in Memory, Sorrow and Thorn? In a few words: It doesn’t matter.
In a tale about man is trying to keep his people safe, told from his point of view, what does it matter what sort of people they are, whether anyone outside would think they deserve saving? That’s not part of the tale; it’s a matter for another time and perspective. In this place and time, it’d be an intrusion.
At least, that’s my two cents (and probably overpriced at that).
I seem to get a lot of “close but no cigar” rejections. This time, it was for “Of Bones and Blades,” submitted to Black Dragon, White Dragon.
You were *that* close with this piece, since the dragon and sorcerer-warrior are top notch, both more original than anything I’ve yet seen, depicted frighteningly well in a battle with first-rate action and imagery. Where this piece failed is that it real is only a fight scene. How is the protagonist different at the end of the story? How is the environment different because of the protagonist’s actions? These are critical questions that cannot be answered after reading “Of Bones and Blades.”
I have a tendancy to put too much irrelevant information in my stories in the way of backstory and side details. I was trying to keep this one tight and close to the bone. Apparently I went too far in the other direction. It’s fairly glowing as far as rejections go, and it’s one of those things that makes me wonder if it worked so well, why not a rewrite request? It wouldn’t be hard to take this as the core and answer said questions. They’ve reported seeking rewrites from other pieces. Oh, well. The editor knows his business, and I’ll just leave him to it.
On the plus side, I was invited to send something else. Unlike Magic & Mechanica, I might just have another idea.
Sick me and sick kids have slowed the novel down some, as well:
Since last we met, “Where the Sun Don’t Shine” has been rejected by Triangulation and Fantasy Magazine. The Triangulation editor had some interesting comments about improving the story (as well as about the story in general, particularly “Wow. What a wonderfully messed-up idea.”). I’ve submitted this one to the Critters critique queue, so I think I’ll wait to see what comes of that one before I do anything else with this story.
Black Box has also rejected “Pains of Love,” which I kind of figured to be a long shot, anyway, but it was worth a try.
On the plus side, I got a “non-rejection” from Triangulation for “That Ain’t a Mosey.” He asked me to hold while he takes another look at it, possibly with a rewrite request to help move the action along faster. It’s far from a done deal; there’s a lot of “mays” and “mights” in there, but it at least gives me some hope I might find my way into my first anthology:
After all, given that it’s going to appear in a speculative fiction anthology with a theme that lends itself to tales of apocalypse, I think most readers are going to think “Zombie!” pretty quickly.
I’m keeping my fingers, toes, eyes and kidneys crossed.
Just finished Chapter 10 of the novel. Once I finish Chapter 11, I’ll be done with the first draft.
Then I start on the rewrite, which includes a prologue and two new chapters (some things that occurred to me while writing).
Got word from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine today that the story I sent them has passed Round 2 and is now on the short list in Round 3. Now I just have to wait three months to see if an editor wants it for his (or her) magazine.
I had some hopes for this, but I don’t know that I really expected it. Keep your fingers, toes and eyes crossed for me!
(Yes, I know I’m being kind of vague on the story specifics, but ASIM’s submission requirements make a point of stating just how important anonymity is to their process, and I certainly don’t want to do anything to jinx that at this point.)
UPDATE: In light of the comment below, I’ll go ahead and say the story is called “Dreadneck.” It’s a fantasy/steampunk setting.
UPDATE: finished another chapter today!
Got a message from Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine today stating that my story has passed Round 1 and is on to Round 2. If it makes it past that (I should know within three weeks), it goes to Round 3, where editors look at the pickings and see if they want to include it in whatever issue(s) they’re working on. If no one wants it, I get it back after about three months.
Even if it doesn’t work, at least I made it this far (I’m getting a little more mature about my rejections, I guess; don’t you just hate the way maturity sneaks up on you?).
I’ve also been accepted for another Freehold project from Carnifex Press, this one called Freehold: Cities. I’m going to take the character from the story I’m working on for Freehold: Twins – Beggars & Thieves and give some background in one of Freehold’s major cities.
And finally, the wife is out of town with the kids this week, so I hope to get an insane amount of writing done (as in, finished with the first draft):
I haven’t touched the novel in a few days because I’ve been kind of stuck on how to proceed, but the good news is I’ve figured that bit out.
Keep your fingers, toes, eyes, nostrils and kidneys crossed for me!
I wake up insanely early (insane to me, anyway) to get ready for work. My alarm usually goes off right in the middle of some interesting dreams, which quickly evaporate. Today was no exception, except I couldn’t get fragments of the dream out of my head. It slowly jelled into a series of scenes between a jailhouse interview and flashbacks. There’s no spec fic involved here — no fairies, aliens or even tap-dancing dust mites. I’m not entirely sure how to classify “A Time to Die” other than as general fiction, with perhaps some vague touches into the thriller and mystery categories.
The problem is, I’ve been so focused on fantasy, horror and sci-fi that I don’t have a clue where to market something like this, if it can even be sold.
And I’ve decided to adjust my word count goal for the novel first draft. The reason is because I won’t hit the 70,000 mark until I go back and write the prologue, but that will officially begin the rewrite, and once I begin the rewrite, my target goes up to 90,000+ (couple of new chapters probably, some added details).
So it’s not that I’m backing off what I want to write, I just think this is a better reflection of what I’m doing right now:
Finally finished the eighth chapter (of eleven) tonight. So I’m happy, even though I got a couple of rejections over the weekend — one from History is Dead for “That Ain’t a Mosey,” and from the Triangulation: End of Time anthology for “The Final Quarter.”