March 2020

So what kind of progress have I made on the website update?

  • I changed my little Cthulhu divider so that it better matches the new site design.
  • I decided I hate this new design and really wish I could go back to the old one, lol. Oh, well, what can you do? Change is inevitable.

On the writing front, I’ve finished my second new short story of the year and sent it out into the world. The first of my stories to be produced as a podcast should be in production soon, and I’ll let you know when it’s released for your listening pleasure. Not too long after that, another of my stories will be available at a different podcast. I’ll keep you updated!

While it’s great when I have good writing news to share, writing really tends to be one or two acceptances followed by long, difficult droughts of rejection. An average acceptance rate for a writer of genre short fiction is 3-5%. Think about that. That means the average is that you need to send a story out 50 times before it is accepted. That’s a lot of work, especially when “sending it out” doesn’t just mean popping off a new email. A lot of publishers have special formatting guidelines, which means you’ll probably be making small tweaks—or major formatting changes—at least 1 out of every five times you send it out. Worse still there aren’t even 50 pro-paying markets for horror, which means your odds of professional publication in a horror magazine are even more stacked against you (and I believe it’s the same situation for scifi).

To make matters worse, you experience a lot of “false starts.” You send out works to publishers, and then they close. This has already happened once this year, as I sent a story to Factor Four Magazine, waited a few months, and then received an email saying they were shutting down and releasing all stories.

I appreciated their email notification, though, because most sudden closings end up ghosting the writer.

These ghostings generally fall into two subsets. The first are those that I like to call seagulls: they put out a call and vanish. I had four last year. I subbed works and heard nothing back. I queried and received no response. Eventually their social media goes dark (or hasn’t been updated in the last 18 months).

Then there are the stringers. They sometimes start out like seagulls, just vanishing off the face of the earth, but then, like the undead, they resurrect to give an update. What happens from here on out is what distinguishes a stringer from an unexpected hiatus. With an unexpected hiatus, a publisher runs into problems, maybe disappears for a while, then returns and gets everyone updated and get back to work, accepting and rejecting work and meeting their commitments. For the record, I’m totally fine with unexpected hiatus. Life happens. But stringers pop up with an update. Then they vanish for a little while again. Then they pop back up with an update . . . then vanish . . . then update . . . Stringers seem to live lives that are a series of unfortunate events. Unfortunately, this keeps people hanging on, because they want to give the publisher the benefit of the doubt. Nobody wants to kick someone when they are already down, but where do you draw the line? I had two of these last year (and one publisher is still doing this; I’ve pulled my stories, but others are still hanging on and waiting).

If you’d like a more in-depth look at the state of genre publishing, check out the following link. It’s a very good and thorough analysis: #SFF2020: The State of Genre Magazines

On the reading front, I’m still on track with my participation in #500Stories500Nights. I’ve even added a few new podcasts to my regular “reading” list. I don’t know what the deal is with the Gallery of Curiosities podcast list, if it’s my reader or what, but almost all of their older stories appear in my podcast reader with the same date (12-31-16). So until I get through the back catalog, we must deal with a little confusion.

February 2020 #500Stories500Nights

  • Feb 1: “Space Samurai,” by Rachelle D. Lawrence (Space Squid
  • Feb 2: “Chasing A.I.M.E.,” by Sean Patrick Hazlett (Overcast 36)
  • Feb 3: “Elo Havel,” by Brian Evenson (Nightmare Magazine podcast, 1-15-20)
  • Feb 4: “Do Not Resuscitate,” by Dan Fields (Nocturnal Transmissions 57)
  • Feb 5: “Mr. Jinkies,” by Brandon Faircloth (Nocturnal Transmissions 58)
  • Feb 6: “No Signal,” by Larry Fessenden (Tales From Beyond the Pale 16)
  • Feb 7: “Not the End Yet,” by Nicole Flattery (Electric Lit 1-29-20)
  • Feb 8: “Decay,” by Richard Saxon (Nocturnal Transmissions 55)
  • Feb 9: “Symbios,” by A Konrath (Nocturnal Transmissions 1; NOTE: This story DEVASTATED me. The deep dread, sadness, and profound sorrow I felt while listening to this one were feelings not evoked by a mere “story” in a very long time. I know part of it is I’m a dog nut, so maybe the story won’t break you as bad, but it really hit me right in the feels. Well done, A Konrath. Well done!)
  • Feb 10: “Help,” by Hailey Piper (Tales to Terrify 411)
  • Feb 11: “The Repossession Man,” by Evan Osborne (Nocturnal Transmissions 7)
  • Feb 12: “The Galactic Tourist Industrial Complex,” by Tobias S. Buckell (LeVar Burton Reads 5-14-19)
  • Feb 13: “Tunnels,” by Brian Trent (Podcasts from 3F-Third Flatiron 12-20-19)
  • Feb 14: “Hierarchy,” by Patrick Meegan (Nocturnal Transmissions 9)
  • Feb 15: “Void Song,” by Travis Heermann (Tales to Terrify 418)
  • Feb 16: “Eight O’clock in the Morning,” by Ray Nelson
  • Feb 17: “The Happiest Place,” by Kevin Wabaunsee (Pseudopod 661)
  • Feb 18: “Trick-or-Treat in Hell,” by Robert Jeschonek (Tales to Terrify 405)
  • Feb 19: “1884,” by Michael Grey (Nocturnal Transmissions 2)
  • Feb 20: “The Boyproof Watch,” by John Longenbaugh (Gallery of Curiosities 12-31-16)
  • Feb 21: “The Yellow Wallpaper,” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (I read it for class, but I’m listing it because it’s one of my favorite stories, right up there with “The Lottery.”
  • Feb 22: “Grizzelka’s Bridegroom,” by Mary E. Lowd (Overcast 122)
  • Feb 23: “Mud,” by Salinda Tyson (Podcasts from 3F-Third Flatiron)
  • Feb 24: “The Call of Cthulhu,” Lovecraft (Nocturnal Transmissions 4 & 5)
  • Feb 25: “Food Chain,” by April Snellings (Tales From Beyond the Pale 8)
  • Feb 26: “At Lorn Hall,” by Ramsey Campbell (Night Magazine Podcast 11-28-12)
  • Feb 27: “Night on the High Desert,” by Connie Vigil Platt (Podcasts from 3F, 10-4-18)
  • Feb 28: “Animal Cruelty,” by Martin Smith (Nocturnal Transmissions 10)
  • Feb 29: “The Lake Manawaka Meat Lover,” by Sheldon Birnie Kyle (The Wicked Library 903)

That’s it for this month! Until next month, Stay Spooky!