So. Apparently, it’s that time of year when writers begin posting lists of their 2014 award-eligible work. I like to think of it as the “Vote for Me, Vote For MEEEEE!” time, but in truth, my expectations of garnering any such nominations are not high — the amount of awesome work out there is staggering, and I probably only read a quarter of it. (That’s a lie. Maybe an 1/8?) I like looking at other people’s lists, though — it’s a great way to catch up on stuff you might have missed — and I figured I’d post one of my own. With commentary, because that’s how we do things around here.
“We Share the Dark” – Shock Totem – January 2014
I wrote the first draft of this story before I went to Clarion West and rewrote it afterwards to give it, you know, shape. I’ll tell you guys this much: “We Share the Dark” wasn’t an easy sell. I didn’t want to give up on it, as it had some of my very favorite things — ghosts, banter, peanut butter, personal fears — but I had received a discouraging amount of rejection slips. Positive ones, yes, but still rejections. I might not have sold it all, actually, but a friend of mine — the awesome Helen Marshall — suggested I try submitting it to a specific horror market. The market in question ended up being closed, but it made me look at my own story in a new light, as I hadn’t thought it was nearly dark enough to be of interest to any magazine that primarily focused on horror. So I tried Shock Totem, and much to my shock and delight, they wanted it.
So, yes. This is the story that taught me not to pre-reject.
“Such Lovely Teeth, Such Big Teeth” – Strange Horizons – March 2014
I’m particularly proud of this one. It turns out that I’m fond of many things that markets have grown exceptionally weary of: superheroes, for one. Zombies, for another. And, of course, fairy tale retellings. So it was pretty neat when I managed to sell my Little Red Riding Hood story, anyway.
Of course, the process of selling it was absolutely nerve-wracking. I had a good feeling about “Such Lovely Teeth, Such Big Teeth” while writing it — I was nervous, due to some of the subject matter, but I actually felt like I had a good chance with this one. Strange Horizons was the first magazine I submitted it to, and I was ecstatic when they said they were interested . . . only . . . they wanted a rewrite. Not unusual, and everything they wanted made sense, but the last story I got a rewrite request for (a zombie story, as a matter of fact) was ultimately passed on by a different market. It was, well. Crushing. So, the editors at SH were all super chill and supportive, and meanwhile, I’m having a nervous breakdown, thinking, “But what if you don’t like my rewrite? What if no one ever likes any of my rewrites? WHAT IF I NEVER GET PUBLISHED AGAIN?”
Thankfully, that didn’t happen. And I’m really happy with how the story turned out. Obviously, I have to do ALL the fairy tale rewrites now. (And, hopefully, I’ll have more to share with you on that score soon.)
“Caretaker” – Shimmer – November 2014
Since I already wrote about “Caretaker” this week, I won’t add too much here. I will say that having struggled to write flash in the past — or really, anything under 4,000 words — I was really happy to be successful here, especially since Shimmer isn’t exactly known for publishing flash fiction. I will also say that Lois Tilton called my story “rather obscure” in a way that actually didn’t sound like a completely terrible thing. I mean, saying it was a compliment would be a stretch, sure, but she didn’t shred it to pieces, either, which is always awesome. (She also gave some love to some of the other fantastic stories in this issue of Shimmer. You should check those out, if you have time.) Plus, I’m a pretty literal person and my writing has always been (possibly excessively) straightforward, so “Caretaker” is a bit of a surreal and obscure departure for me. In and of itself, that kind of felt like a win.