A Downer and a Conundrum

When I started this blog, I was looking forward to charting the ups and downs of a nascent writing career. I should have considered that there were likely to be more downs than ups!

Last week’s Downer. I see on Submittable.com that a potential publisher has declined my novel manuscript. It’s been that way for a week now, so it doesn’t look like I’m getting an email rejection at all. It would be wonderful to get a hint as to why this novel ‘is not for them,’ but I know publishers are not in the business of critiquing hundreds of novels a week. Decisions have to be made. Yes or no. No.

This week’s Conundrum. I had high hopes for a short story I sent to Apex Magazine. On September 14th, I got an encouraging email informing me that my submission had been forwarded to Editor Sigrid Ellis “for further consideration”. That sounded promising, and I was keeping my fingers crossed. But I see on Apex’s submission page that the Editor-in-Chief is now Jason Sizemore. Uh-oh. An entry by him on the magazine’s blog dated September 18th informs me that he took over four days after my story landed on Ms. Ellis’ desk. He will be honouring Sigrid’s commitments. Sadly, I have no such commitment. Although the whole process is electronic, I cannot help but envision a large cardboard box full of stories that Ms. Ellis was supposed to read going in the dumpster as Mr. Sizemore rearranges the office. I’d guess my chances of hearing anything further on that one are slim. So how long do I wait before sending it somewhere else? Sigh.

This morning’s mini-downer. My entry in Apex’s “Steal the Spotlight” contest didn’t win. Well, duh. They had nearly three hundred entries in my category. Mine was dashed off in under an hour, a wonderful frenzy of writing that had me leap off the couch when the final pre-writing concept gelled in my head. I’m not a horror kind of guy, but my tongue-in-cheek micro-story about mind-controlling lab rats was a hoot to write, and I was surprised to find I was doing it entirely in dialogue. Normally, I’m sparing with dialogue, but it seemed to fit the tale. Normally I’m sparing with hyphens, too, but I see a sentence there that’s practically a hyphoon!

Coming up soon, the Secret Agent Contest, which will see the first 250 words of my novel subjected to an acid test. Also, I learned to write a logline, a one or two sentence summary of a novel intended for the eyes of an editor or agent. That makes it very different from the kind of blurb you might use to tempt readers. Despite my ongoing doubts about whether my book will appeal more to adults or kids, I am entering it as Middle-Grade.

In the next week or so, I hope to hear back from my youngest Beta-reader on whether Avians is the kind of thing his classmates would want to read. Looking forward to hearing from him, but I wonder what he will make of the fact that most of my characters are female. Will he feel alienated or intrigued?

After that, a blue-pencil session with my freelance editor Samantha Beiko, courtesy of the Manitoba Writers Guild. I’m torn. I could take her the first pages of my sequel novel. I’m still messing with them, so some direction might be helpful. Or I could take her the story that is MIA at Apex, and get her ideas on how to tune it up before submitting it somewhere else.

I may be down, but I’m not out!

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