Running the Gauntlet? Or Waiting at the Gallows?

I’ll be announcing some good news shortly (pretty much as soon as I can provide a link for it), but in the meantime I thought I’d post again with some thoughts on how things have been going this summer.

I’ve been writing. Actually, I’ve been re-writing. It started with Daukherville, but that mountain still seems steep to me. Ed at Eleven has reclaimed my attention, and for once the editing is going well. I’d love to have a draft finished by October, and it looks like it might actually happen.

Most importantly, it would be a real second draft, rather than yet another first draft. Have I learned how to edit? Has dedicating myself to shorter fiction served the purpose I’d hoped it would? Could be.

In the meantime, while I’ve fallen off my target of twelve stories in twelve months (I’ve hit four in six so far, so there’s still hope for catch-up), I still have three of the pieces out in the wind, awaiting rejection.

“Sprachlos” (a detective story involving literary forensics) has made it past the first readers at Cemetery Dancewhich is delightful news in and of itself. I continue to wait for the form rejection, but Brian James Freeman, the managing editor of all things Cemetery Dance-related, has told us that anything rejected from this point on will have been seen by all the editors. Holy fuckballs, Batman. For me, Cemetery Dance is nothing short of a pie-in-the-sky market that I’ve dreamed of seeing a story in for decades. That I’ve made it this far really and truly is an honor.

“Seal” (about a nice day on a lake) has been submitted to Ellen Datlow’s Kickstarter-funded anthology Fearful Symmetries. As of their last update, 20% of the stories have been rejected, 4% have been kicked up to Ellen Datlow herself, and 50% have at least been read. The editors have stated that they plan to have all responses sent out by the end of August.

Finally, I submitted my most recent story, “The Broker,” based on an idea Amanda gave me about two ne’er-do-wells and their real estate broker, to Midnight Echowhich could be considered the Australian equivalent to Cemetery Dance, for their ghost-themed issue #10.

All three were written this year, and I believe in them all. Whether the markets above take them or not, I have a lot of hope that I can sell these pieces and step away from the lead balloon of my self-publishing efforts.

In other news, I’ve also collaborated with a talented filmmaker, Brian Lillie, on a screenplay for a short film that we submitted to this year’s Shriekfest.

As far as reviews of books go, you might have noticed a drop-off in frequency (i.e., that they’ve pretty much stopped altogether). I’ve made the decision that to do them (and do them as I was, with no fear of posting negative reviews) is no longer professionally acceptable. I will still post a review if I read something I truly love, or if something is the work of an old master, no longer publishing, but my negative thoughts I will now keep to myself (and immediate friends, who no doubt will hear all my rants).

Also, I’ve been reading a ton of short stories from a lot of writers I like, but I haven’t been able to claim that I’ve finished many collections or anthologies or even magazines, as I tend to skip around like a madman. (Mandler asks: Do madmen skip around? I say: Ah, go fuck yourself.) I’m seeking out a lot of great voices that are new to me, and I’ve found a few (Sarah Langan, David Nickle, Laird Barron, Livia Llewellyn, Helen Marshall, and Nathan Ballingrud to name a few of my new favorites from the last year and a half or so), but I’m pretty much in the middle of all their books. I never desired to speed read, and I never made the effort to learn, so I still read rather embarrassingly slowly, probably just slightly faster than someone reading it aloud. Maybe that makes me a bit of a numbskull, but hey–I like sticking close to the words. I see little reason to rush through sentences.

So that’s where things stand. I’ll update as the rejections make their way in, but for now it looks like the waiting game is the game for me.

The waiting game … and the writing game.

I promised myself last year that I would never let the total number of rejections catch up to my number of submissions.

It’s a promise I’ve kept ever since.

Call it progress.

4 comments
  1. Aaron said:

    Hi there! Any word on your Cemetery Dance story yet? I’m still awaiting a response as well – apparently there are only 50 stories left awaiting acceptance or rejection. *heart pound*

  2. Kristopher Kelly said:

    Hi Aaron, thanks for stopping by — and congratulations on making the final 50!

    I’m still waiting to hear more, so I’m right there with you. Doesn’t look like there have been any rejections or responses sent since around mid-July, so I’m picturing the staff either on vacation, or arguing about the final cuts.

    Heart pound is right. I’m trying to stay pessimistic and not get my hopes up. Gonna be a tough final cut to survive.

    But good luck to you – and I promise I will post an update as soon as I hear anything.

    Whatever happens, final 50 in this pool for this magazine is quite an honor.

  3. Kristopher Kelly said:

    Out of curiosity, Aaron, how long have you been waiting? You in the over 200 days club? I’m up to 183 days (got my piece in right under the wire).

  4. Aaron said:

    Kristopher, I’m at 219 days right now (subbed December 27).

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