Archive for the ‘short stories’ category

“Sweet Affton” has found a home

August 9, 2019

My 520-word story “Sweet Affton” has been accepted by Bended Genres Journal. It should appear in October.

You may recognize the reference in the title to Robert Burns’ pastoral poem “Sweet Afton.” My story is an anti-pastoral response to that, sparked in large part by the fact that when I was first married, we lived in Affton, Missouri, a pleasant suburb of St. Louis. The story is set in two-f Affton, though my depiction is grim (as any anti-pastoral work would be). I understand Burns’ poem was quickly mocked by others, more or less sparking the anti-pastoral movement, so my story is part of a fine tradition.

This piece is unlike most of my writing. The sentences are short and staccato. I drop the F-bomb (and not as an expletive) as well as use the words “an age of restive foment” and “curettage.” I reference a flattened squirrel. It’s not pretty.

But it seems to be just what Bended Genres wanted. I had only submitted it five days before the acceptance came.

“Three Small Words” finds a home

July 31, 2019

My story “Three Small Words” has been accepted by Adelaide Literary Magazine. It will appear in issue 27, which comes out next month in print and online. When it does, I’ll post a link.

This story is from my One-Match Fire universe, though it’s not part of the novel. Chronologically it takes place about a week before my story “Forest Succession” and speaks to what happens there.

thick-skinned report

July 16, 2019

I received two rejections last week.

One was a long-shot, and I was only surprised by the swiftness of the response. I had sent in the story almost on impulse, and I’m not too disappointed.

The other was a bit harder on the ego, but it makes sense.

I had written a fictionalized story of a time my wife joined me on a 5K. It was a disaster with a hilarious finish, and the story pretty much wrote itself. I was pleased with it and decided to send it to a likely market right away (rather than let the story gestate a while, which generally helps).

The likely market is one that accepted a story of mine recently (though it’s not published yet), and I seem to have a good rapport with the editor. It turns out, though, the publication has a policy that they won’t publish stories from the same writer in back-to-back issues. I would have to wait until both the upcoming issue and the one after that are published to have my latest story considered.

The editor also suggested that the story could be developed further. This was something that was in the back of my mind as I rushed it out the door. So I will let it gestate a while and see what comes of it.

something in the water?

June 18, 2019

I can’t account for it but in recent weeks I’ve been getting a lot of writing done. I noted that two weekends ago I had written a 4,800-word story (that I’ve since made a chapter in One-Match Fire), and now this most recent weekend I started and finished a first draft of a stand-alone short story.

I managed 1,900 words, and they cover the story fully. I still want to refine them so that they enhance the tone in several places, but overall, the story is written.

It’s based on an incident in my past running life, and it’s a comic tale with a surprising but inevitable ending. Just as with the other story, it seemed to write itself.

I have a publication in mind for it, and when I think it’s ready, I’ll submit it. but the story might work for different themes, so if I see a call that it could fit, I’ll probably send it along.

“Magic for Beantown” finds a home

May 22, 2019

This must be the good news week of the pendulum’s swing. I just learned that my story “Magic for Beantown” has been accepted by Aethlon and will appear in their next issue.

This is the story I’ve mentioned that may or may not have a leprechaun in it, and it’s the one that the editor had sent back to me twice for rewrites. (Another editor I know told me that the second request was a sign that he really wanted to use the story if he could get it in the shape he wanted.)

I have to format the story to the publication’s standards, which won’t be a problem, then send it back one last time.

I don’t know when the issue will come out, and it will be print only when it does. This is my third appearance in Aethlon, which kind of gives me warm fuzzies.

“Twilight of the Alpha Males” is up at Foliate Oak

May 1, 2019

My first bit of flash fiction, “Twilight of the Alpha Males,” is now up at Foliate Oak. It’s a nice publication*, and I’m pleased to be a part of this issue. The story speaks for itself, I think, and it was fun to write, once I came to understand it was whole at only 460 words.

I was “required” to provide a photo of myself, and what you see beside the story may or may not be recently taken and I may or may not still wear a beard and glasses. I also may or may not have less hair. And that may or may not be the best I can do for a smile.

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*Poets and Writers lists its circulation between 5,000 and 10,000, though how can you tell with a website that is free, and how can you estimate and then double your estimate and suggest you’re close?

Do you visit/use Poets and Writers? They had a forum that I used to visit and participate in, but like many forums, it was dominated by one or two contributors who seemed to sit in judgment and speak the “final word” on whatever topic was raised. The forum’s gone now.

seeking magic

April 15, 2019

So I’ve mentioned here a couple of times that I have been working on a story that may or may not have a leprechaun in it. (It’s not that I’m not sure. Rather, it’s that the reader must see the suggestion and decide. I do refer to this character as an “Irish demigod,” so I don’t think there will be much doubt.) Another character wants something and suspects his friend may be able to magically grant it to him, but he’s not specific enuf in his wish, with ensuing, edifying consequences.

I’d sent this story to a journal that had accepted two of my other pieces (including one of the OMF chapters) with reasonable hope. The editor sent it back asking for some revisions. And so I revised the story and resubmitted it. Then, amazingly, the editor sent it back a second time asking for more rewriting. I say amazing not that the editor was still not satisfied but that he seemed to like the story enuf to want to keep working with me to get it in the shape he wanted.

I won’t say I faced an existential crisis, but ’twas a puzzlement. Nearly all of my stories that have been accepted were taken “as is.” Only a handful of times have editors ever asked for any revisions, and those revisions were always minor. So I wasn’t sure what was inside the editor’s mind. Did he want me to fine tune the story with a few changed words and additional bits of punctuation? Or did he want to see something fundamentally different? Knowing which was critical to making the best of this second opportunity he was giving me.

So I turned to a friend who had for many years been an editor of a respected literary journal and presented my near-existential crisis. He and I traded emails for a few days as I told him my situation and he provided his suggestions. (Bottom line: any journal editor who is giving a writer a second chance at a rewrite really likes the story and wants to make it work.)

In the end I chose the fine-tuning approach. Among the points my friend and I discussed were the notions that you have to believe in your story and you have to gauge how much you want to see it published in the given journal. While I would be proud to see my piece in this journal, I leaned toward being satisfied with what I had written. And it’s not as though the two are mutually exclusive. It’s possible that the subtly revised story will meet the editor’s needs and find a home there.

I sent it back to the editor over the weekend with fingers crossed (which I suspect is very weak magic). His past responses have been months in coming, so I don’t think I’ll hear anything about the story’s fate for a while.

(And I’m sure you can see the parallels between my character’s wish for a magical solution and my own with this story.)