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Writer In Progress

May - A Wild Month of Success and Failure

Posted by Rob Smales on June 3, 2012 at 9:45 AM

Hi everyone.

I know I skipped posting here last month, but I didn't get any complaints, so I figure it was alright with you folks. One month without my babbling - probably a pretty good thing. But here's what's been happening since that last post. It's been busy here.

Vamplit - The Friday Flash has continued to be written, though it's now going to a different place. All the Vamplit writers moved to a site called Dark Media City, which is the closed social network behind the monthly E-zine, Dark Media. Whereas on Vamplit the site was open, and anyone could go see our work, Dark Media City  requires membership to read our posts. I was a little bummed out about that, but then they told us about their contest. Every week our work would be voted on by Dark Media members, and the winner would be published in the next issue of Dark Media, a fairly popular free E-zine. Four winners per month, four flash pieces published from our group. 

Guess who won the first week? 

Here's a link to my story, Let Them Eat Cake, in the June issue of Dark Media. A few people have shared it to Twitter and Facebook already, and I'm pretty happy about it.

Scarlett River Press - The people at Scarlett River put out an anthology of horse stories to help support the Hilltop Haven Equine Rescue - every dime not going to cover the printing costs is earmarked for helping those horses, many of whom have been rescued from abuse and neglect. I am very proud to have had my story, Justice have been a part of this project, and have to thank my friend Laura for helping me with so much of the technical info about horses. Thank God I know someone who actually runs a farm!

Thank you Laura.

The anthology, Scarlet Whispers, is available on Amazon in both print and Kindle formats, and I was beyond pleased to discover that we made it to #5 on Amazon's 'Hot New Releases: Best Anthologies' list. 

This just in - I just checked the list as I was writing this, and we've moved up to #2! I'll continue this post after I change my shorts - this is a fantastic showing for a brand new publisher with their first book!

Dangers Untold - Mutes  was accepted into the Dangers Untold anthology. Jennifer Brozek, the woman in charge of the project required some serious editing, but she loved the story. The editing was due to my inexperience and the fact that rather than taking any writing courses I'm learning by the 'trial by fire' method, and she was very helpful with it. I'm quite pleased that the story was accepted - the rate being paid for stories in this book will allow me to join the Horror Writers Association as an Affiliate Member, allowing me to claim to be a writer for the HWA. There are many benefits to being an HWA member, and I'm looking forward to being able to add my affiliation to my story submissions with pride.

Dark Moon Books - My story It's Not What You Think was in issue #11 of Dark Eclipse in the month of May, and Finders Keepers is in issue #12 this month. This month, though, I got a special treat. My story is in one of the anchor positions - the first story in the book. This means it's the first one people will see, and if you go to Amazon and check the book out, Finders Keepers forms the sample they use to hook in new readers.

Can you say proud?  I can.


Okay-- all that was the good news. Now...

Post Mortem Press - These fine people, a publisher with quite a good reputation, had put out a call for work for a new anthology of theirs called The Ghost Is The Machine, a collection of stories about haunted machines and technology. I'd been holding onto an idea for a story for better than a year that matched this perfectly, so I got right to work. It went downhill from there.

I had the whole month, and it took me three weeks just to get the 1st draft completed. They requested stories from 2,000 to 7,000 words in length, but my story, Photo Finish, came out to just over 10,000! I started to edit it down, but a 30% story reduction is a daunting thing, and I was in a panic about editing the story right out of the damn thing.  

I had one quick blessing in the middle of all this - my friend Paul out in California offered to give it a read and help point out weak spots in the story and places where I had edited it to death. This was terrific - I had been beating my head against the thing so hard and for so long I really couldn't even see it any more. He was a great help, and with his help I believe I was able to turn out a decent story of 7,500 words.

Thank you Paul.

Now it goes downhill again. I had until 11:59 pm on the 31st to submit the story, and during that last few days I wound up with some health issues that just slowed me down. It wound up being a sprint to the finish, like something you'd see in a movie: me feverishly pounding on the keys as fast as I could while keeping one eye on the clock, trying to turn out the story edits, get them all formatted, snap out a cover letterand get it all in the email before midnight. Due to some technical glitches, the story went out at 12:03 am. One day late.

I sent a note the next day to check on it, and to apologize, but lo and behold, magic had hapened! I was apparently sending it to the West Coast, and their receipt showed a 9:03 pm  time stamp! It was like the story went back in time and actually arrived before I sent it!

Amazing! Terrific! Wonderful!

And then, last night, I actually opened my copy if the file I sent to them.

Disaster.

I had been in such a rush to send it off I never checked the saved file. If I had, then I would have fixed all the auto-formatting I have my Scrivener program do while I work in it, and the story would have matched Post Mortem's submission guidelines. I thought it did, when I sent it. But I forgot to check.

Headers where they wanted none. Page counts where they had wanted none. A lack of indenting where they specifically requested a 1/4 inch indent. And the damn thing was still 500 words over their stated maximum.

So here I sit, calmly awaiting my rejection letter, drafting an apology note for the entire mess. I would still love to work with Post Mortem Press in the future, and I'd rather they knew I was just in a gigantic hurry than simply assume I'm incapable of following their stated directions.  I think I'll sit down and write up an article I can try to send to some writer's blogs, one aimed at newer writers explaining the real need to take your time and pay attention to detail. And follow Submission Guidelines.

I have a couple of back-up places to send Photo Finish, so hopefully it's not a total loss.

Paul, thanks again for your help. I'll most likely be tapping you again for some proof reading. Still up for it?


Well, that's it for this month's update. Last month was a bit of a wild ride, and a lot of fun. I have more fun planned for this month, more anthologies and magazines I plan to submit to... I just think I need to take it a little more carefully.

If you've read this far, congratulations! You have some serious stick-to-it-iveness!


Talk to you later!

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