Archive for the ‘short stories’ category

something of a problem

January 14, 2016

So I’m having something of a problem with one of my accepted-but-not-yet-published stories. I wrote several months ago about my story “Twice Blest” being accepted at a certain magazine. That edition was supposed to appear in early November. Then I received an email from the editor saying it would appear shortly after Thanksgiving.

To date, the newest edition of the publication has not yet appeared. I have written to the editor three times and to the magazine’s general email address. No response at all. I found the magazine on Facebook and posted a query there then found the editor on Facebook and sent her a message asking the status. No response at all.

My fear is that something significant has happened that has prevented the editor/magazine from going forward. That would be unfortunate for all involved, of course, and I don’t want to come across as callous or uncaring. But not knowing anything is uncomfortable for me as well.

I contacted a friend of mine who is an editor of a different publication and asked him if this signified anything. He suggested that I wait it out for a while. It was his idea that I try to reach the editor/publication through social media, and I was glad to give that a try.

Ultimately, though, I have to decide if I should withdraw my story from consideration so I can start sending it around elsewhere. And if I can’t get a response at all to my status queries, can I be sure that anyone there will even receive a withdrawal notice from me? Might I get the story accepted elsewhere and then find this original publication has come back to life and already published it?

Has this kind of thing ever happened to you? What would you do?

Over, Under, Through

December 21, 2015

Despite my frettings and moanings here about being unable to write or to finish anything I start, I can report that I have finished a first draft of my Fathers and Sons story “Over, Under, Through.” I know. I’m amazed too. (More than amazed since I reached first-draft stage in a month, if this evidence can be believed.)

It’s a good story, self contained yet fully integrated to the cycle. It reflects on failed relationships between fathers and sons as they have been creeping through the stories, and it sets up what may be the climax of the cycle (to come a bit later in the sequence).

Of course, it isn’t finished yet. It’s a first draft, but it is solid. I’ve got down about 2,400 words, with about that many more words in notes that I need to plunder for whatever might contribute. There are two significant points in the notes that I know I need to fit in, more in the way of character development than plot or theme work, but good points nonetheless. After that, I’ll let the story simmer in the pot, as I do with most of them, to come back later with a fresh eye and see what strengths can be strengthened and weaknesses removed. It’s a slow method but a method that works for me.

And in the mean time what I really need to do is embark on a read through of all of the stories of the cycle, in chronological sequence, to get my bearings for the remainder I must write and to see how I can cross pollinate betwixt them. I’m beginning to think I can see an end to the writing part of this cycle. Whatever will I do with my humble self once these stories are complete?

Currently reading: The Sandcastle by Iris Murdoch. You may recall me stating some time ago that I am re-reading Murdoch’s entire fiction production from start to finish, this novel being her third. I picked up this book several weeks ago at a used bookstore here in Kansas City, in the basement where the popular novels are generally kept; I was surprised to find her there. The book is filled with the handwritten notes — in both pencil and ink — of a previous reader, so the store owner let me have it for a buck. I can’t read a word of the notes. The handwriting is florid but not so much that I can’t make out most of the letters. I think whatever was written was done in some language other than English. The book itself (published in 1968) is an British copy and says boldly “Not for sale in the U.S.A.” Sometime in its life the book crossed the Atlantic and probably bopped around for a while before landing in the basement of a bookstore in the middle of the country, waiting to finally fall into my hands. I’ve only read a few chapters so far, and Murdoch is busy with her rapid-fire introduction of characters. Not much plot yet, but it’s a welcome change to read an author whose work requires attention and even effort (rather than the more common sensational stuff that “grabs” you from the first page).

lonely no more

December 8, 2015

My short story “Been Lonely So Long” has been accepted for publication in The Nassau Review. I submitted in response to their call for works relating to “the lies we tell ourselves.” I thought it might fit that theme, and the editors agreed.

The story is a musing on the nature of compassion and in this case, how we dodge it while telling ourselves we aren’t. It’s also narrated almost wholly in 1st person plural, which was intentional and thematic.

This is another one-off story. It’s not connected to my Fathers and Sons cycle, nor are the characters connected to anyone/anything else I’ve written about before. It does include running as a major component however.

I don’t know when the story will appear, but it does appear that it will only appear in print. It’s an annual publication, so it may be next year at this time before it comes out. I don’t know; I’ll have to do some digging about that and let you know.

“Twice Blest” has found a home

October 6, 2015

My Fathers and Sons story “Twice Blest” has been accepted for the winter 2016 issue of [redacted}.

I had submitted it in response to their call for stories under 3,000 words on the theme of family. Of course, my Fathers and Sons stories are all about family, and at a lean 1,300 words, “Twice Blest” certainly met their length requirement. I’ve written about this story here on the humble blog a few times, perhaps most fully here. The title comes from The Merchant of Venice, specifically from the well known Quality of Mercy speech. The story is set in the spring of 1968, which is not necessary to know to read the story, but it does give a deeper meaning to some cryptic statements by the father. When the inevitable collection is published, this will be the first in the chronology of the stories but, as I envision it now, the second story in the collection.

I don’t know exactly when the winter issue will be published*, but it will be online, so I’ll link to it when that happens. This is the fifth of my Fathers and Sons stories to be published and my twenty-first short story to be published.

Always nice to put good news on the blog.

*Update: I re-read the acceptance email and learned that the next issue is scheduled to be published on November 14, 2015. So, that’s good.

*Further Update: As of January 14, 2016, I still do not know the publication status of this magazine or my story.

“Travel Light” travels again

September 8, 2015

My previously published story “Travel Light” (Penduline Press, 2013) has been accepted for reprinting in an upcoming issue of If and Only If Journal. Specifically, it will appear in Issue 3, which means sometime next year.

If and Only If is an online magazine that features creative work about body image and eating disorders. Certainly my character, Chris Newton, can fall into that category.

I have a few stories on submission here and there. Mostly I’m getting nicely worded rejections, but it’s nice also to get the occasional acceptance.

“Been Lonely” been busy

April 23, 2015

I got another rejection this week for my story “Been Lonely So Long.” (I actually do remember making this submission.) Once again, it was a personalized, very encouraging rejection email. The editor took the time to tell me that my story had made the short list, and they even published those of us on that list on their web page.

“About 10 percent of more than 300 entries made the shortlist. At that level, all of the pieces were in some way well written, entertaining, innovative or insightful. Although the following pieces did not make the cut, we’d like to acknowledge the writers here for their compelling work. It was a close call. Thank you to everyone for submitting.”

(Then they spelled my name wrong. Oops.)

The editor encouraged me to submit again (when the window opens), which is always a warm fuzzy.

Apparently “Been Lonely So Long” is a good story. I can think of one or two mags I ought to inflict it upon. I may even do that.

so I got a rejection . . .

April 6, 2015

. . . which means I apparently made a submission. The story is “Been Lonely So Long.” It’s a one-off. It’s not part of the Fathers and Sons universe at all. It was just something I tossed together based very loosely on a group of people I sort of know, heavily fictionalized, and set in a different city. Yes, it involves runners. And beer.

It is narrated in first person plural, and I did that not for the novelty but for thematic reasons. (Basically, it’s easier to avoid responsibility by being part of a group than by being an individual. It’s my musing on the nature of charity. Sometimes I think that is my big theme.)

I had forgotten that I had submitted it, though I had done so less than a month ago. Oh well. But it was a very nice, personal rejection letter. The editor said my story came close to acceptance, and he encouraged me to submit to the journal again (when their submission window opens next time). Such encouragement is nice, but as I said, it’s a one-off piece. I don’t have anything else with such a thematic structural build to it. I’m sure I’ll write something that crafty again sometime, but for now, it’s all I have.


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