Nobody likes me! Dealing with short story rejection

That’s what I got on Friday night.
After dinner with my in-laws, just before we left I went to the bathroom and checked my email and saw this:

Dear Mr. Hall,

Thank you for your submission. Unfortunately at this time, it does not meet our needs.


Slush Editor

For a moment, I was stunned. And then slowly progressed into feeling crushed.
The story that I had loved, conceptualized, written, cleaned up, edited, had numerous rounds of beta readers look over, and then finally mustered up my courage to send had been declared unfit. And the slush reader had done it with a form letter, no less.
My ego had just been sat upon… no, shat upon, by an elephant. My partner and I started the drive back to our house and halfway home, I broke the news to her.
“Oh no, that’s awful honey, I’m so sorry.”
“I just feel like it was a really good fit for that magazine, you know?”
“Maybe it just didn’t fit in with what they have planned for the next little bit…”
“That’s not something that slush readers usually are informed about. They’re kind of the first line against unsolicited submissions.”
“Yeah. They just decide whether something is ‘go’ or ‘no go’. So apparently to this person, this story was a ‘no go’.”

I tried not to let it get to me, not to erode some of the confidence that I had been feeling about this story. But there’s a lot that I have connected with this. After returning to writing in my 30’s, I feel the pressure of a ticking clock. I have goals and I work hard to achieve them.
But life also gets in the way. On top of that, I’ve had a long-standing battle with chronic depression that has the ability to drain the flavor from anything that I have passion for. This is what lead me to not even touch my first novel this year, to completely stop edits. It also killed my second novel midway through.
In the past couple months, I’ve been feeling a little better though, and I decided to pick through some old short stories that I had written and then set aside.
One was this one. And like a magic spell, I put all of my hopes and all of my intent into it as I put it out into the universe.
So I came home and tweeted this out:

And I got back some encouragement from some friends, which was all I really needed.

Here’s the thing, using the spell metaphor, this is among my first spells. I’m still a novice when it comes to threading my voice into the web of the world and making it change. If one of my threads is just slightly off, the spell won’t happen as intended. So no, while this post may have looked like a boo hoo pity party, it’s not. This is me saying, it’s okay. It’s one story and it was one market. I know every experienced writer out there is going to say, ‘so what? I eat rejections for breakfast!’ And my response is first, that’s a terrible breakfast, but secondly, that’s the attitude that every novice needs to have. And that’s why, early the following morning, I tweeted out this:

And it probably won’t be the last market I submit to for this particular story either. I’m hoping I get more than a form letter but I understand that magazines are overrun with folks like me. Folks who lob our thought-crap at them, and then look in dewy-eyed askance for acceptance.
So what am I doing? Writing another short story while I wait, lining up the next couple of markets (thanks to Duotrope for making it easy). And making plans for my novels, trying to get those behemoths rolling again.

Morning Cuppa – 04/06/13 – Short Fiction Saturday

Hope you all have a wonderful Saturday, enjoy these little treats as you head into your weekend.

  • shares Backscatter by Gregory Benford
    • She was cold, hurt, and doomed, but otherwise reasonably cheery.
      Erma said, Your suit indices are nominal but declining.
      “Seems a bit nippy out,” Claire said. She could feel the metabolism booster rippling through her, keeping pain at bay. Maybe it would help with the cold, too.
      Her helmet spotlight swept over the rough rock and the deep black glittered with tiny minerals. She killed the spot and looked up the steep incline. A frosty splendor of stars glimmered, outlining the peak she was climbing. Her breath huffed as she said, “Twenty-five meters to go.”
  • Beneath Ceaseless Skies released a new issue on Thursday, here’s The Crows Her Dragon’s Gate by Benjanun Sriduangkaew
    • Before the end there would be love-songs to a passion so fierce that the offspring of my body turned into suns; tales of our courtship a wildfire that scorched the world.
      The annals of heavens may not always be trusted. They were texts carefully edited, passed to chosen scholars; it did well to remind the warlords—and once empire dreams had come true, the monarchs calling themselves heaven’s sons—that above them reigned paradise, and above paradise an everlasting emperor.
      Much was elided and confused. But in the beginning, it was mostly that I was young.
  • Likewise, Apex Magazine also released a new issue this week. Here’s Dawn and the Maiden by Sofia Samatar.
    • My love is a river. My love is a brink. My love is the brink of an underground river. My love’s arms ripple like rivers in the moonlight when he unlocks the garden gate. He lifts the great beam and sets it in place. He bows to the Lady’s guests. These are three men, filthy with travel. Each has only one eye.
      My love has eyes of brown agate, eyes that flicker like hanging crystal. In the dark they are black, but their brownness glints when he stands beneath the lantern in the garden. My love waits for me beneath the lantern. He waits while I serve wine to the Lady’s guests. On my way to join him, I leave an offering of bracelets at the entrance to the Lady’s corridor.

Morning Cuppa – 03/23/13 – Short Fiction Saturday!

Good Saturday morning my droogies, I hope that you’re well rested this fine Saturday. My respite was cut short by an obnoxious cat that demanded food RIGHT NOW GODDAMIT NO MORE SLEEPEEE! This is Puce. She is awful. puce

  •  An excerpt from The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu is available on Tor
    • When out-of-shape IT technician Roen woke up and started hearing voices in his head, he naturally assumed he was losing it.He wasn’t.He now has a passenger in his brain – an ancient alien life-form called Tao, whose race crash-landed on Earth before the first fish crawled out of the oceans.
  • Let’s Take This Viral” by Rich Larson is featured over on Lightspeed Magazine
    • Default hadn’t been down in the nocturns for some time, probably half an orbit, but he had just dissolved the geneshare contract with his now-ex-lover and needed to get completely fucking perforated to take his mind off things. His lift was full of revelers all laughing and widecasting the same synthesized whalesong from Old Old Earth. Ancient aquatic groans were currently vogue, so Default grudgingly let his aural implants synchronize to it.


Morning Cuppa – 03/16/13 – Short Fiction Saturday

This daylight savings thing is still leaving me a disheveled mess, I haven’t been able to get my act together all week! Anyways, here’s a few free shorts for your Saturday (just about to be afternoon…).

  • Sing by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
    • Dirk wants to learn how to sing like the natives, but they have no word for singing nor a concept of it. Until Dirk tries to show a young child her people’s beautiful music. Intrigued, she offers to help—only to discover that teaching Dirk to sing could cost her everything.
  • The Hanging Game by Helen Marshall
    • Sometimes a game, even a sacred game, can have far-reaching consequences. In bear country young Skye learns just how far she is willing to go to play the game properly in order carry on the traditions that came before her and will most likely continue long after she is gone.
  • The Fairy Library by Tim Pratt
    • Emily Yuan, anesthetized by the day’s events, drifted into her apartment, volitionless as a cloud. Her housemate Cece sat on the couch and, without looking up from the glowing tablet in her hands, said, “How was work, Em?”


Morning Cuppa – 03/02/13 – Short Fiction Saturday

This week’s short fiction features a trio of stories, sci-fi and horror, full steam ahead. So grab a cuppa something warm and prepare to be delighted!

  • The Memory Coder by Jessica Brody from’s free fiction this week.
    • When a security breach is detected, the Memory Restoration Department is called upon to do what they do best: make you forget. But with every memory that’s taken out, a new one must be installed in its place. It’s a job that requires skill, artistry, discretion, and flawless proficiency in the language of memories. That’s why only the best programmers in the world are recruited to work for the department. But diving too far into another person’s memories is a dangerous endeavor. And for some, the temptation is just too strong.
  • Nightmare Magazine pulls one from the crypt with Norman Partridge’s Blackbirds
    • On an August morning in the summer of 1960, a man dressed in black shattered the kitchen window at the Peterson home. The house was empty.
      Major Peterson was at the base, writing a report on the importance of preparedness in the peacetime army. Mrs. Peterson was shopping for groceries. Their daughter Tracy was doing volunteer work at the local hospital.
  • Zebulon Vance Sings the Alphabet Songs of Love by Merrie Haskell is up to peruse from the fine folks at Apex Magazine
    • The noon show is the three-hour 1858 Booth production. The most fashionable historical war remains the First American Civil. Whenever FACfans discover that Lincoln’s assassin played Horatio, they simply must come and gawk at this titillating replica of their favorite villain playing no one’s favorite character.