Navigating the Seas of Submissions…

Sometimes, being a writer feels like you are riding out a storm in the middle of a turbulent sea. Waves are crashing over the bow, and you are sure you are going under any moment.

This week has been something like that. I made three submissions to one of my favorite markets, and all three were turned down. That happens. No problem…

…except these were all reprints, which had been published at least once each, and had already been through edits for those publications.

I realize that every editor is different and that what excites one reader may bore another, but it really knocked me back a step. Especially since this was coming from an editor that I’ve hardly ever failed to please. And now, it was three times in as many days.

Why am I telling you this?

  • To vent a little, I freely admit that…
  • To show that it happens to everyone at some point or another.
  • To get myself ready to send something out again–rejections are daunting, but you have to get past them.

Will I send her another reprint? Not for the foreseeable future…but that just means it is time to write something new.

When making a submission, there are several things to keep in mind:

  • Read the guidelines carefully, and follow them to the letter. Use the font they want. Format like they want. Even if you don’t see why it matters!
  • Provide the contact information they ask for. Don’t give a full list of credits unless they ask for it. Really.
  • Keep your query letter/submission email businesslike unless you have a relationship established with the editor from past correspondence. Even then, it doesn’t hurt to look professional.
  • Keep accurate records. Don’t forget what’s been sent where.
  • Don’t send a reprint unless they say they accept them. A lot of people don’t want leftovers.
  • Don’t send a story to multiple places at once. Even if they say it’s okay, no one wants to accept something only to find out it’s no longer available because someone else said “yes” first.
  • Don’t ask for a status report before the deadline for submissions. They will tell you when they’re ready–just work on something else while you wait.
  • Don’t respond to a rejection–especially with why they are wrong to pass on your story.
  • Keep writing.

Here’s to smooth sailing in the future!

Posted in About writing, The Writing Life, writing tips | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Year End/Beginning Post

The New Year has already proved itself a hectic wild child, but we will make the best of it. So this is my yearly “Here’s how I did and what I hope to do next” post.

First of all, my stats from last year:

Not too shabby on the percentage of acceptances vs. rejections, but compared to the number of subs from last year, it is a paltry beast. I hope to remedy that this year. Especially as I have requests for two poetry collections–but more on that later in the year.

The raw numbers don’t show the breakdown of the submissions, but I would feel safe in saying that the majority are flash horror pieces. After that comes poetry. So one of the things to focus on this year is variety. I know, I know–they say, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, “…but they also say, “variety is the spice of life,” and I am ready to make things a little spicier.

Since this isn’t my only resolution for the year, I will probably still be scatterbrained about updating the blogs, but I will try and be more consistent. Let me know in the comments if there is anything you particularly want to know.

Posted in About writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Midjourney to Wonder…

With all the hoopla about the AI art generators, I was intrigued to give them a try. So far, I’ve tried Midjourney and Wonder. I love one, and admit defeat with the other.

Midjourney, I don’t understand. It isn’t intuitive at all. I’ve seen lots of gorgeous results from lots of friends, but I can’t get anything particularly good out of it. I’m not giving up, but it will probably never be my go-to app.

On the other hand, Wonder is easy to use, and creates images I am (mostly) happy with.

For example. I used the prompt “Rapunzel’s tower with one window at the top and the witch standing at the base” for both programs. Both of them seemed to have trouble with the details, but came up with something.

Here’s the Midjourney result:

It’s an evocative image, but I obviously didn’t phrase it adequately to get what I was looking for.

Here’s the Wonder image I liked best:

Still not exactly what I asked for, but feels more illustrative to me. I personally like the cleaner lines. It looks more like the polished works others I know are creating in Midjourney.

I can see the appeal of the generators. I would probably never use them for anything more than inspirational images, but I can see potentially creating covers or promotional images once I really figure things out so that the results look professional.

Another thing I like about Wonder is the price. It may not be quite as flexible as Midjourney, but it is less than $30 for a lifetime upgrade, while the base package for Midjourney is $10 a month.

These are just a few of my personal thoughts on the programs. Your mileage may vary a LOT if you have an art background, for instance.

On the other hand, practice will probably help, as I tried the prompt “man with features reminiscent of a skeleton,” and I think I like Midjourney’s better. What do you think?



Though both are really creepy.

Just my exploration of the current trend. I think I will enjoy both programs until the next shiny catches my eye. I would love to hear from other users as to your experiences and tips.

Posted in resources | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Ahoy There, Matey!

Did ye think I’d forgot? Nay. I was navigating the frozen sea they call I35 on the way home from a successful sail upon the convention seas, but how could I forget to raise a glass to “Talk like a Pirate” Day? Ye know I love me some pirates!

It’s hard to believe that this fine holiday is less than thirty years old, but it was started in 1995 (though according to their own website, today marks the 20th anniversary. One o’ us is not good at tha countin’…or mebbe tha first few were practice.🤔 )

If ye be wantin’ t’ throw a little lingo into yer evenin’ celebrations, here’s a fine list o’ pirate talk to talk.

Meself, I have always been partial t’ pirates. From watching Blackbeard’s Ghost as a wee lass to rooting for Jack Sparrow and his mates in the Pirates of The Caribbean franchise, pirates have had a favored spot in me heart.

And it reflects in me work, don’t it? I’ve got several offerings in tha pirate realm:

Ye remember that one, with tha flyin’ Elven pirates, don’cha? If not, ye might want t’ take a look here to refresh yer mind. And, if ye still don’t recall–mebbe ya haven’t read it and should remedy that situation. 😜

Fer some reason, me pirates tend t’ ride tha skies rather than tha water. Fer example, here:

Lots o’ pirate shenanigans in that one. A fine anthology iffn I do say so meself.

And there were those dreaded days when Marc Gunn was in the hands o’ Black Jack Murphy and we worked out these here songs to help him escape. He smuggled out these pages about the ordeal as well:

It’s about time fer me t’ go lift that glass, me hearty–but Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day t’ ye one and all.

Posted in Promotions, Reference Material | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That’s embarrassing…

With my desk generally looking like this, it shouldn’t be surprising to me that I sometimes procrastinate about getting anything done…but not to have posted since last June is a bit much.

To be honest, there were a lot of months there when I didn’t do much beyond my Ladies of Horror flash pieces. A lot of hectic things between then and now…including several out of state trips and the loss of my dearest Elf. But a lot of good stuff too. I got Pixie in my life.

She has been very helpful in getting me past Elf’s loss. But a bit distracting…

I haven’t been writing as much as I should this year–but I was revitalized by ArmadilloCon, and I’ve written three new short stories since then (in the last month, in other words.) Two of them have already been accepted. One of those is already in print.

One of the markets that I HAVE been submitting a lot of material to is Fiction4All, which has several imprints I’ve been accepted to. This UK publisher is filling the hole left by Horrified’s disappearance into the ether. Great people to work with, and fast payments, which is always nice.

Here are this year’s numbers to date:


So…the numbers aren’t anywhere near as massive as last year’s, but I think that the quality may generally be higher. I’ve been getting a lot of books in the mail as publications come out.

Still working on the fitness too…

Still trying to get back to the pace I was doing…did something to my foot in June and still painful to get more than 3k a day, so slowly adding miles–though the medals keep coming in

This is a chaotic update, but it’s been a moment. I am going to do my best not to let it be so long before the next one. But honestly…what can you expect from a desk that still looks like this…

Posted in About writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Still Slammed…But Loving It

No apparently salacious bar graph this time, just the hard numbers. A bit crooked, but what can I say?

These are my stats as of yesterday for the year, and you can see I have been submitting like a hummingbird hits the flowers–here, there, and everywhere. Some results have been great, some have been not what I would have liked. I’ve got some good stories that can’t seem to find their forever home, and others that I didn’t think ever would now have. Several of those 184 rejections later became acceptances, as nothing gets to wallow in self-pity. Almost everything gets chucked out the door again within a week. Unless it’s been rejected so many times I finally let it rest for a while.

Last year, I was lucky to get my 12 Ladies of Horror flash pieces done. This year I’ve made 316 submissions before the year is half over. And while working on self at the same time. I’ve lost over 10 pounds since March through Noom and walked 26.5 miles of a 46.4 virtual challenge in 18 days.

It’s amazing to me what a good year this has been so far after the debacle of 2020. I feel like my work is improving on so many levels, even if the new stuff is getting rejected as much as the old homeless stuff.

  • I have been accepted into SFWA and HWA, as well as joining the SFPA.
    • I have sold two of my 300 word contest flash pieces that didn’t make the cut to other markets.
    • I have been a finalist twice in the Crystal Lake Publishing monthly flash contest.
    • I have been in the voting gallery for the London Photo festival twice this year.
    • I have written dozens of new poems, several flash pieces, and at least one new short story.
    • I have attended my first in-person faire in over a year.
    • I have begun revisiting my WIPs in my head and hope to get at least a couple polished up.

Even looking at the list makes me tired! But in a fantastic way. I can’t believe how well the year is going. How about yours? Leave me a list in the comments so I can cheer on your successes!

Posted in The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Quarterly Update (Why I Haven’t Been Around Much…)

I always make these huge, sweeping goals. Like do a blog post every week on each of the four blogs… Yeah, that didn’t happen.

But another goal for the year I am DETERMINED to achieve, and that is at least one sub a day. And that’s going pretty well. In fact, in February, I upped my game to TWO subs a day. And this month, I am shooting for THREE subs a day. (But I have promised myself not to up it every month. That could get ridiculous…)

Anyway, I am proud of my progress, and though it isn’t quite the end of the quarter, I thought I would share the Year to Date totals:

Submissions: 157 (not counting today, because I am procrastinating and haven’t done any yet.)

Rejections: 70

Acceptances: 10

Publications: 5 — One of those being Startling Stories (Amazon link), which I’m particularly proud of…

Still working on moving the rejections and acceptances closer to center, but all and all, not too shabby. It’s barely halfway through March after all.

So far, a majority of my submissions have been old pieces looking for homes, but I have had several brand-new poems accepted, and there is a new short story making the rounds.

Plus, I’ve sent things to Analog, Apex Magazine and Rattle, so it’s not just For the Love markets this year.

I have submissions out to publications in Ireland, England, and Australia for sure, and maybe a couple of other countries. (Already had a flash piece accepted for a British market — $27 for 336 words.)

One thing I’ve found interesting is that most of the acceptances came after a few tweaks to the old piece I had submitted. Gives me hope that more of the unpublished stuff just needs a bit of polish here and there.

And now, I am off to make those submissions for the day so I can get back to the current edit for Horrified.

Posted in The Writing Life | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Busy Little Bee, Me!

It’s been a fruitful week. I’ve been maintaining my self-instituted pace of at least one sub a day, and I am almost out of old pieces that have never found a home, so it will soon be writing everyday as well.

Right now, I am finishing up an edit for one publisher and need to get back to one for the other. When those are done, I can focus on new materials.

I have also been writing a poem a day, but most of those are just for me–though I have submitted one of them, and I quite like another and will probably send it out soon.

I hope to soon have The Conn-Mann Chronicles available in this charming indie bookstore, Dragon’s Lair Artist Emporium, in Canada. The website looks amazing. (I’ve already ordered a tea tin.)

And, except for skipping a RieView last week because I couldn’t decide what to talk about, I’ve been keeping up with the blogs.

2021 is looking a whole lot better than 2020. (Though I will say this about last year–since my only sales were the Etsy bookmarks, and I remembered to write down my tax account info when I HAD to file online last year, I got my sales taxes in on time and they were under $10 without the $50 late penalty I usually have to pay…)

Back to work now.

Posted in About writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Time For the Yearly Wrap Up Post…

And that just about sums things up.

It wasn’t that nothing got done last year. I did get Strangers released for 13 O’Clock, and Forest of Bones (paid link) edited for Mocha Memoirs. Aside from that, pretty much nothing for the year.

I got my Ladies of Horror flashes done, and signed a contract with Dragon Moon Press to reprint four of my out-of-print books. Aside from that…not much.

I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo this year for the first time in at least five. I didn’t finish any Poetry Month challenges. I just didn’t.

Looking back at my submission records, I found it wasn’t only 2020 that was lacking. There wasn’t much submitted in 2019 either…but there was the trip to Ireland and the surgery, so there were a few mitigating circumstances.

Still, it won’t do THIS year. Things are needing to ramp up again. And, so far, they are on track. I have almost finished my first edit of the year for Mocha Memoirs. I have sold my first story of the year–and been paid for it–and I have submitted at least once a day so far.

How is your year going so far? 😉

Posted in About writing, The Writing Life | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Folk Tale Research Share

My schedule is all off kilter these days, but in my sorting, I came across some notes from a class I took on Folk Tales, and I thought that they might be of interest to some of my readers. 🙂 This is all I have at the moment, so some of the details may be sketchy…

Folk Tales are stories told by human beings in the context of everyday life which usually have been handed down to the present storyteller.

These texts follow conventions of form and style and do not strive for originality. These fit well with everyday experience.


  1. History — genetics, birth, growth, adaptation
  2. Form — syntax — “grammar” of tales
  3. Meaning — What is the message of the tale?
  4. Function — What purpose does the tale serve?

Two main aspects of tales: Textual and Conceptual

6 Points which stimulate questions; shared characteristics:

  1. Folk tales are artistic behaviors
  2. They tend to be formulaic
  3. They adapt to fit context
  4. They are products of social acts in natural context
  5. They are intimately related to real live of inhabitants
  6. They are usually employed in moments of celebration and/or disjunction

Folk Tale types:

  1. Fairy Tales
  2. Novellas — adventures, long, travel world plane
  3. “Hero” tales — tend to cycles
  4. “Sage” — legends
  5. Origin/explanatory tales
  6. Myths
  7. Animal tales
  8. Fables — make a point
  9. Jokes

4 Clarification Schemes:

  1. Stith Thompson — above list of types
  2. Linda Degh — 3 Types: 1. Tales; 2. Legends; 3) True Experience
  3. Roger Abraham — Continuum
  4. William Bascom’s Scheme — most useful (but no details in the notes…)

Axel Alrik’s 14 Epic Laws of Folk Tales:

  1. Patterning:
    1. parallelism
    2. contrast
    3. inversion
    4. chiasmas
    5. framing
  2. Repetition:
    1. internal redundancy
    2. incremental repetition
  3. Law of 3: Euro-centric pattern of triple occurrences
  4. Contrast: Sharply contrasting binary structures
  5. Twins: Paired characters/ Groups of characters
  6. First/Final positioning: two positions of most import
  7. Two-to-a-Scene: French scenes with two characters interacting
  8. Law of Opening and Closing: Beginning and End calm
  9. Unity of Plot: Continuous interrelated storyline
  10. Single-Strandedness: Few sidetracks to the main thrust of plot
  11. Concentration on leading character’s POV
  12. Tableau scenes: Highlight important events
  13. Character Revealed in Action: Seen not discussed
  14. Own logic: Tale is true to its inner self

We will continue this discussion later. 🙂

Posted in About writing, Reference Material, Worldbuilding | Tagged , , | Leave a comment