Thursday, November 29, 2007

Short Story Carousel

I’ve finished a big nonfiction project that I was working on, and before starting the next one on my list I’m going to take a bit of a break and look through my unsubmitted or rejected poetry and stories and try to get some of those out in the world for consideration. I’ve been so focused for the past 7 months that I’ve even neglected updating my fiction submission files, which I’m normally quite good at, and have not submitted any of my available poems or stories in quite a few months.

It looks like I have sixteen short stories that I could submit. Two of these have previously sold but ended up never being published. Interestingly, both are SF tales. One is “Floater,” which I wrote many years ago and which has been rejected by virtually everyone. It did sell once but that magazine folded before it could appear. The main problem with the tale is that it’s too long and the ending doesn’t hit with quite enough payoff. The second one is “Love in the Time of Cybersex,” which was written for and which sold to a nice anthology that ended up never being printed. I’ve sent this out a couple of other times to SF mags without luck. I think the story is a bit romantic for most of the SF readership, although it was perfect for the anthology’s guidelines.

To my thinking, the best story of the bunch is a microfiction piece called “An Affair of the Heart.” I can’t figure out why this hasn’t sold because everyone who has read it has laughed out loud and loved it, but it might be because it doesn’t really fit in any specific genre. It’s been submitted a lot of times but I’m not giving up on it. Another piece I really like is “Unicorn Lost,” which I’ve also submitted a bunch and which a writer friend of mine named David Lanoue referred to as the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s still unsold, likely because it is quite an experimental piece and also doesn’t easily fit into any particular genre.

The two most recent pieces are “Sundered Man,” which is a heroic fantasy retelling of Shakespeare, and a political story which will remain unnamed and which is probably way too perverted and sick to ever see print. I wrote the latter when I was completely wasted on Vodka, and if it is published it’ll be under a pseudonym. I’ve debated not submitting it at all, but dammit it does have some interesting things to say.

How about you? Do you have any stories you will never try to publish? Do you have any stories that you’re particularly fond of but which have never sold? Do you give up on stories after a few rejections, or do you keep sending them out into the world to sink or swim?

BTW, those glowing green eyes? We're pretty sure they're a big old coon who comes around most every night. Of course, who knows if he's really a coon or just masquerading as one.


Shauna Roberts said...

Every time one comes back, I send it out again. At one time, I was good about doing so immediately. With everything that's happened in the past couple of years, stories sometimes hang around for months before I send them out again.

There's one I've stopped sending out because even I really, really like it, nobody else does. I decided this week to pull it out and work on it again.

virtual nexus said...

I find it a help that you've picked up the issue of falling between the lines re genre; though guess some markets are more open to hybridization than others.

I've scrapped all the fiction I've written partly because of this.

Is ebook publishing a viable route or is that more along the lines of vanity publishing?

the walking man said...

I don't know, I have plenty of everything written but I truly don't care about the publishing. Blog the shorter pieces and just hold the rest. I guess it's mostly because I don't want to do the research and packaging necessary.

I know I can write and hold the attention of an audience and I guess that's pretty much all I ever wanted from this strange talent of ours.

But I have great respect for most of you who have much less free time than I do and go at it with fervor.

Good luck with your submissions Charles and everyone else with the desire for it.



Anonymous said...

The good thing is that you have those stories lying around. And you can write as many more as you want. I'd hammer them out and sooner or later someone is gonna want them.

As for that "coon" hanging at your house, you might wanna lock up your valuables.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I'm beginning to feel like Stuart Dybek, with less talent of course. From what I've heard, he'll sit on a story for years, until he's fully satisfied with it.

Bernita said...

I have been very timid about submitting.
Which is Not A Good Thing.

Michelle's Spell said...

It's funny, but the stuff I like best is the hardest to place sometimes. But I'm going to do a send-out today and see what I can do about that! I admire your filing system, Charles. I just now starting becoming even more anal about mine -- as a perpetually dishevelled person, I find that I really have to work to keep things together.

moonrat said...

awww. short stories are SO HARD. i love short stories and short story collections, but unfortunately consumer buyers really really like novels. short stories are a great way of building up a platform and a fanbase, so you should keep writing them, especially if the spirit moves you in a short story direction. but don't let the fact that they're not being picked up be disheartening. my press does do short story collections, but often the advance orders are so low that we have to dip really far into the red to even cover our print runs. it's only a commitment to literature that keeps us going, and most houses can't afford that kind of risk.

Erik Donald France said...

You are a disciplined machine, man. Wow.

I have a few things, a Detroit story that I like but is too long as is, some poetry and some micro-fiction, one that's good to go.

Charles Gramlich said...

Shauna, sounds like me, although I haven't been so good about getting them back out this past few months. I usually do at least minor revisions when they come back.

Julie, I think ebooks are certainly a reasonable outlet. However, they don't sell terribly well and aren't likely to make a lot of money. At least in my experience. I have three ebooks available on Fictionwise but they don't sell a lot and so far I've made no royalties from them. (I'm probably owed some but that's a different matter)

Mark, I wish sometimes I didn't care about publishing, but I'm afraid I do.

Wayne, that coon has several compatriots as well. We could be in deep trouble if they combine forces.

JR, as opposed to me sitting on a story for years because no one will take it.

Bernita, sending stuff out is tough, at least at first, but one gets in the swing after a while.

Michelle, I wonder why that is about the stories we like. Maybe we're so close to them that we can see nuances others don't?

Moonrat, I know. I love short stories myself and am almost always reading at least one collection. But they aren't that popular with most readers.

Erik, in some areas of my life I seem disciplined. IN others not so much. Good luck in getting your stories out.

Lana Gramlich said...

Personally I love your story, "Goodies." Great title on that one! No mention of your upcoming book signing here? *goes into publicity agent mode*

ATTENTION! Charles will be having a book signing for the entire Talera series at 6:30pm on Jan. 14th at the Slidell branch of the St. Tammany Parish Library system. Be there or be square!

Anonymous said...

Good heavens, Charles. Time to call out the posse and have them coons cauterized.
By the way, if you had a feed turned on there, it would make it real easy for common folk like me to read your blog. Check out FEEDBURNER. It's free and it's good.

Anonymous said...

Hey ignore that feed thingy. That's just me being stupid. I finally worked out what the feed icon is doing in the address line.

Now, back to those coons . . .

Danette Haworth said...

I have a few stories making the rounds to literary mags. All markets have their shortcomings, and a couple things that make literary print mags hard to submit to is that most of them operate on the school year and a lot of them don't accept simultaneous submissions. It takes a long time to make the rounds.

Sidney said...

Sometimes things just don't stick. I have one story that I think is pretty good but it never sold. Haven't sent it around since the '80s. I place a story fairly recently that was a rewrite of an older story. I probably let it sit around too long.

virtual nexus said...

That's what I wondered re ebooks.

btw I picked up a comment on a blog that there is a small laptop out there which already looks set to make kindle obsolete; plus mobile (cell phone) book downloads are coming in.

Leigh Russell said...

I don't think ebooks and downloads will ever replace books. The reading market is shrinking due to competition from other pursuits - TV, DVD, computer games, etc. but for people who read, there's nothing like a book, is there?

Getting published is very exciting, but the real buzz is writing. Now I've started, I don't think I'll ever stop. Of course having a publisher has completely changed the whole experience, for me, but when I'm writing, the only thing in my head is the story needing to be written.

Travis Cody said...

I submitted a couple of stories about 15 years ago. One I got back unopened and the other got a form rejection. I never did much work to improve them and haven't submitted them anywhere else.

I have had two poems published under a pseudonym in those big book anthologies. That was a trip to see my work actually in print. But then I felt stupid because it wasn't my name on the work.

That's probably why I've never considered myself an actual published poet.

Ello - Ellen Oh said...

Awsome for you that you finished. I wish you good luck on the stories. I have a story now in submission so we will see if it is or isn't sellable.

Charles Gramlich said...

Lana, thanks. I will definetely make more mention of this as it approaches in time. Yeah, "Goodies" was a fun story. It was published in an anthology called "Small Bites."

Wayne, the coons are getting less and less scared of us too. Pretty soon they'll be knocking on the doors.

Danette, I've noticed that about lit mags, which makes it hard for me because my work follows the school year and I have the least time to search out mags and get up subs during the school term.

Sidney, yeah, hard to understand why some things stick and others do not. No accounting for tastes.

Julie, I'm sure, especially if the Kindle sells well, that there'll quickly be improvements. I'll eventually get something like this but I can't see it ever replacing books for me.

Leigh, nothing will ever replace books for me. At least I can't imagine it. I think I've gone through cycles of "buzzing" in my career. First writing itself was the buzz, but then I began needing publication. That became the buzz, but nowdays I'm back to the writing again.

Travis, why not try those pieces again somewhere. The first two pieces that I wrote that I thought were worth publishing did eventually get published, but not on the first few tries.

Ello, here's hoping for you.

Chris Eldin said...

I've been thinking about your question.
I have an "ideas" folder that I like to play with. And tons of things which will probably never see the outside of a hard drive.

But there are two picture books I have faith in. I've been working very hard on them. Both have ideas which haven't been done before, so the challenge becomes (of course) crafting it well enough. If these don't sell after I've given my all, I'm going to self-publish for my children. These are my first two official writings, and they initiated me into the world of writing.

Great topic, again!

Travis Erwin said...

I have been a bit lacks in senind stories out as well. I have a few that I doubt will ever sell but I send them nonetheless.

virtual nexus said...

In relation to what church lady said, I've heard of a couple of people besides myself who've self-published and then had the work picked up by larger interested concerns. Wish CL all the best with the children's books.

Charles Gramlich said...

Church Lady, Good luck with the two projects. At the begininng at least, for most all of us, the only person who believes is ourselves. Sometimes we begin to convert a few others over time but it's still most important that we believe ourselves.

Travis Erwin, I sent out a couple like that these past few days, stories I doubt will sell but neverthless they are out there.

Julie, that's a good point. It does happen, sometimes with spectacular results.

Jo said...

Charles, most of the great writers wrote their best stuff when they were wasted on vodka, or something like it.

I think Leigh Russell's comment is true - the reading market is shrinking, and more people are reading non-fiction. But don't give up.

Steve Malley said...

Have you ever tried the yWriter submission program from spacejock? It's pretty handy for tracking which story's been where, how many days it's been out, etc...

virtual nexus said...


I just picked up your comment on mine on how to get round blog posts.

I've been thinking about this - do you reckon there's an optimum word count for main blog post, (esp if you've been staring at a screen yourself all day) - to speed things up? Worth a post in itself?
Appreciate this touches all sorts of random issues.

Donnetta said...

Well, I love your writing--and I love short stories--so, I say, hang in there and keep submitting watchyagot. And keep writing more in the meantime.

Charles Gramlich said...

Josie, looks to me like as more people read nonfiction it becomes more like fiction, more focused on entertainment value.

Steve Malley, I haven't but I have a pretty process set up for myself if I just would check it. I let it go too long between checks sometimes.

Julie, my recent posts have been fairly long but I think shorter posts of a couple or three paragraphs are best.

Donnetta, thanks. :)