Now Then, Where Was I?

Not a lot of blog posting lately, though (as usual when I go silent on here) that doesn’t mean life came to a complete halt. So what have I been up to?

Since before Thanksgiving I’ve been sick off and on. Mostly on. I rarely get sick, so this was pretty frustrating. Every little hint of recovery was followed by another setback. Ended up going to the doctor twice, and trying four different prescriptions and a shopping basket full of over-the-counter meds. Mostly better now, but I’m definitely not going to rush back to full activity. Still taking it easy as far as exercise, and making sure to sleep every night.

Been writing pretty steadily. For every early morning session I’ve missed (making sure to get enough sleep), I’ve managed to add an evening session (skipping my workout), and continued my most important Sunday writing marathons. I spent much of the last month or so crafting something to order for a themed, invitation-only anthology. Now, getting an invitation doesn’t mean your story definitely gets accepted, and I know there are plenty of other really strong writers who were also invited to submit. So I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that one. The good news is that I was able to create one of my best stories ever, and learned a lot from the process, both writing “to order” and following specific notes and suggestions from the editor.

Aside from that, I have at least two stories “short listed” in submission. Being short listed can mean just about anything, from “Your story is among six from which we’ll choose five to publish,” to “Our slush readers forwarded us 25 stories this month, from which we’ll choose three.” In other words, sometimes being short listed means your odds are really high, and other times it means they’re better than they were when you first submitted, but still not a sure thing. I’ve been short listed many times before and ended up rejected (or seen the magazine fold before they published any of the stories they were choosing from), so I’m hopeful, but not getting carried away. The best news is that this seems to be happening more and more often. A much higher percentage of my stories is making is past the slush pile and into the hands of the top editors.

It’s also fun to check out Duotrope’s listings for the markets where you’ve submitted, and see where they are in terms of dealing with their slush pile. If a magazine has had a story of mine for 30 days, and you can see on Duotrope that the same magazine is rejecting a bunch of stories they’ve only had for 10 or 15 or 20 days, then you can guess that they’ve seen your story (since they generally read things oldest to newest) and that this is roughly equivalent to making it past the slush reader. Some magazines never tell you “our slush readers are recommending your story to the top editor” or “you’ve been shortlisted,” but you can sort of figure it out by reading the tea leaves on Duotrope. If you’re a writer submitting stories to open markets, and you’re not checking out, you really should be.

Last writing news is that I’m trying to put together another story for a different themed anthology, but this one’s open, not invitation. It’ll be tough to get something done on time (the deadline’s not too far off) but I’m still working on it.

Other than that, I’ve been reading an awful lot, but two of my recent books have been over 1,000 pages each so a lot of pages read doesn’t translate to a lot of books read. I’ll start posting reviews again soon. I’m really looking forward to taking on a few 200-300 pages books!

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