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Almost Success - The "Mixed Feelings" Thread

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Davian Aw
(@davian-aw)
Active Member
Posts: 24

This one almost broke my heart; from Liminal:

"The story is excellent, but it's not quite right for us. Thanks for the read -- I loved the emotional depth and complexity of this piece, and the multi-layered protagonists felt rounded and real."

wotf017

This story has been getting a lot of similar rejections where editors say they loved it, but no. wotf014

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Posted : May 30, 2017 2:25 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

This one almost broke my heart; from Liminal:

"The story is excellent, but it's not quite right for us. Thanks for the read -- I loved the emotional depth and complexity of this piece, and the multi-layered protagonists felt rounded and real."

wotf017

This story has been getting a lot of similar rejections where editors say they loved it, but no. wotf014

wotf030 I get it, Davian. Those are always rough. wotf005

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : May 30, 2017 4:53 pm
Davian Aw
(@davian-aw)
Active Member
Posts: 24

aww, thanks. XD

At least when rejections tell me about the things they didn't like, I have something to work on before resubmitting. But with these, there's nothing to go on. This and another story keep getting really close - including being shortlisted two or three times - so I know they're good, but they're proving near-impossible to sell.

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Posted : May 30, 2017 7:20 pm
amoskalik
(@amoskalik)
Silver Member
Posts: 438

aww, thanks. XD

At least when rejections tell me about the things they didn't like, I have something to work on before resubmitting. But with these, there's nothing to go on. This and another story keep getting really close - including being shortlisted two or three times - so I know they're good, but they're proving near-impossible to sell.

Just keep sending it out until it sells. When you get rejections like that it just means you haven't found the right market at the right time. In fact the more places you send a quality story like that before it sells, the better, because you are making a good impression in multiple markets and therefore they are more likely to take a closer look at your next offering.

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Posted : May 31, 2017 2:45 am
Bartleby
(@bartleby)
Active Member
Posts: 7

This one almost broke my heart; from Liminal:

"The story is excellent, but it's not quite right for us. Thanks for the read -- I loved the emotional depth and complexity of this piece, and the multi-layered protagonists felt rounded and real."

wotf017

This story has been getting a lot of similar rejections where editors say they loved it, but no. wotf014

Geez.

I half-expect someone to post a letter saying, "This is the greatest story I've ever read. You are probably the reincarnation of Shakespeare. But unfortunately this wasn't quite right for us."

R x 1
HM x 2
SHM x 1

My publications: https://ebookofthenewsun.wordpress.com/fiction/
My blog on futurism and other weird stuff: https://ebookofthenewsun.wordpress.com/blog/

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Posted : September 23, 2017 8:55 pm
Morgan
(@morgan-broadhead)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 131

I've sent several stories out to Flash Fiction Online this year. None have been accepted yet, but I've received personal feedback on two of them. In my last one, Suzanne Vincent emailed to say my story made it into the final round of reviews, wasn't selected, but if I was interested, she'd be happy to send me staff comments about the story during their discussions. I was totally THRILLED! It took about a week for her to gather them together, edit them for anonymity, etc. and get them over to me. I'll use them to revise the story before sending it on to the next market, but not until AFTER I've turned in my WOTF story this week! lol

~Morgan

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

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Posted : September 25, 2017 3:18 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

I've sent several stories out to Flash Fiction Online this year. None have been accepted yet, but I've received personal feedback on two of them. In my last one, Suzanne Vincent emailed to say my story made it into the final round of reviews, wasn't selected, but if I was interested, she'd be happy to send me staff comments about the story during their discussions. I was totally THRILLED! It took about a week for her to gather them together, edit them for anonymity, etc. and get them over to me. I'll use them to revise the story before sending it on to the next market, but not until AFTER I've turned in my WOTF story this week! lol

~Morgan

I had the same experience with FFO and was just delighted.

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : September 25, 2017 4:10 am
MattDovey
(@mattdovey)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 183

For those of you getting final rounds, "so close!", etc., this Twitter thread from Apex's Lesley Connor is important reading.

Once you're at that level, it's not a lack of skill or competence; it's just taste and magazine style. You are good enough: the magazines aren't big enough. You're almost there, so keep pushing.

Golden Pen winner v32 (2016)
Stories | About | Facebook | Twitter

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Posted : September 25, 2017 8:54 pm
Morgan
(@morgan-broadhead)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 131

For those of you getting final rounds, "so close!", etc., this Twitter thread from Apex's Lesley Connor is important reading.

Once you're at that level, it's not a lack of skill or competence; it's just taste and magazine style. You are good enough: the magazines aren't big enough. You're almost there, so keep pushing.

That was a good read, Matt. Thanks for posting. "Three strikes and you're out" seems like a pretty lame attitude for any writer to have. I mean, why would anyone limit himself like that? Anyone who understands the markets should understand how competitive they are -- tons of submissions with very limited space for the issues. That's just basic supply and demand.

I was so ecstatic when I started getting personal rejections and notes from the editors and slush readers, especially when they started offering specific advice on how to strengthen my stories. And that little comment at the end that says, "Please keep sending us your stories." Priceless encouragement right there.

If your stories keep showing up during final reviews again and again, an editor's going to look at them and say, "This guy's consistently good enough and he's got more than one story in him. Let's publish him." At least, in my own mind that's how it's going to happen; I'm not published anywhere yet. lol

~Morgan

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

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Posted : September 26, 2017 12:11 am
MattDovey
(@mattdovey)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 183

If your stories keep showing up during final reviews again and again, an editor's going to look at them and say, "This guy's consistently good enough and he's got more than one story in him. Let's publish him." At least, in my own mind that's how it's going to happen; I'm not published anywhere yet. lol

I'm going to disagree here, but with good reason. Editors will never, ever publish you out of pity: they will only publish you when the story is good enough and right for them. And the reason it's important I disagree is that one day soon the brain weasels will start to whisper "they only published you because they felt sorry for you... you're not really good enough..." and these are VICIOUS LIES, as with all brain weasel whisperings. Once you're published, it's because that story was so awesome they couldn't let it go, and they were compelled to give you money for the right to be the ones to show it off to the world. Ain't no pity involved.

But if your stories keep showing up during final reviews again and again, you're increasing your odds that one of them will be the right story for a market. Once you're writing at a pro-level (which it sounds like you are), submitting becomes a lottery--have they just accepted something similar or not*? Has it caught them in the right mood? Has it just been squeezed out by a sudden influx of incredible stories?--and all you can do is keep entering, over and over. Keep writing stories, because every one of them is a ticket.

*funny story: I once had two rejections in a row from Shimmer (for two different stories, obvs) that said "Yeah, we liked it, but we're about to publish/just published this other similar story..." and pointed at the same story both times. Like, goddamn. But in happier news, author of said story is a friend and particularly awesome, so it's hard to feel a grudge. And in even happier news, one of the said rejected stories just got accepted at Arsenika, so y'know. Keep entering that lottery Smile

Golden Pen winner v32 (2016)
Stories | About | Facebook | Twitter

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Posted : September 29, 2017 2:23 am
Jeremyteg
(@jeremyteg)
Bronze Member
Posts: 63

I'm going to disagree here, but with good reason. Editors will never, ever publish you out of pity: they will only publish you when the story is good enough and right for them. And the reason it's important I disagree is that one day soon the brain weasels will start to whisper "they only published you because they felt sorry for you... you're not really good enough..." and these are VICIOUS LIES, as with all brain weasel whisperings. Once you're published, it's because that story was so awesome they couldn't let it go, and they were compelled to give you money for the right to be the ones to show it off to the world. Ain't no pity involved.

I'd like to second Matt on this. Editors don't buy stuff that they don't love. They get a heaping pile of submissions, especially at the major magazines, and they only--ONLY--publish the very best and most fitting. I have let myself indulge in "you're not really good enough" brain weaselery, and it is entirely destructive to the creative process. If you're getting close-but-no-cigar personal rejections, that's awesome, and means that your story is probably good enough, but hasn't found the right editor yet. When it does finally sell, it will be because the story aligned with an editor's taste at just the right time and in just the right way.

Moral of the story: submit, submit, submit!

R x 2
HM x 2
SHM x 4
First Place Q1 Vol 34!
The Broken Karwaneer in Beneath Ceaseless Skies Vol. #231.
blog

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Posted : October 1, 2017 11:13 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

Got a personal rejection from F&SF last night. That’s pretty delightful, for me. I got a form rejection from them a few months ago on a different story. I still want that first sale, of course, but like you guys said, this means I’m on the right track. Just keep writing, finishing, and submitting!

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : October 2, 2017 3:23 am
Morgan
(@morgan-broadhead)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 131

Got a personal rejection from F&SF last night. That’s pretty delightful, for me. I got a form rejection from them a few months ago on a different story. I still want that first sale, of course, but like you guys said, this means I’m on the right track. Just keep writing, finishing, and submitting!

That's fantastic! They are such a hard nut to crack, so the fact that Charlie gave you a personal rejection is really saying something.

~Morgan

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

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Posted : October 9, 2017 5:34 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

Thank you! It took a lot of explaining for my husband to understand why I was so excited about this rejection! I’m trying to work on the story based on the feedback I got, and will submit elsewhere.

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : October 9, 2017 6:15 am
Chris533
(@chris533)
Active Member
Posts: 12

Got a personal rejection from F&SF last night. That’s pretty delightful, for me. I got a form rejection from them a few months ago on a different story. I still want that first sale, of course, but like you guys said, this means I’m on the right track. Just keep writing, finishing, and submitting!

That's awesome. I got a personal rejection from them a couple years ago - for the story I got an HM in with WOTF. After the HM I started rewriting it - but then two other great story ideas have pushed it to the back burner - but someday I'll get to it! I figure I'm only getting better at this writing thing, so maybe I'll be good enough to salvage it eventually (I love the concept - and believe deeply in the underlying message - but it's a hard story to tell well)

Vol.34-Q2 HM
Vol.35-Q1 R

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Posted : October 16, 2017 4:00 am
Reigheena
(@reigheena)
Bronze Member
Posts: 69

Just met my goal of 25 rejections for the year. Still have 4 outstanding, and I'll probably send this one back out once I figure out the next place its going.
Out of that I got 6 personals, which is more than last year! Yay progress!

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Posted : October 20, 2017 4:50 pm
Ishmael
(@ishmael)
Gold Member
Posts: 793

A certain writing saga of mine has been going on so long I can't remember what thread it was in. You may recall I mentioned decling publication of a story that had been, in my view, excessively re-written by a pro editor?

Well the editor asked me to take another shot at it myself, which I did, incorporating most of the editorial suggestions but in my own words, turning it into a cohesive whole that was probably better than we'd started with. I was pleased with it.

After lengthy to and fro, the editor said a contract would be on its way when one more person had looked at the story. After more delay I received another rewritten version, excising a lot of what I like to think of as my style and substituting expressions I'd never use. This story was apparently now ready.

But it wasn't. In fact it would have embarrassed me. So I replied 'Forget it,' more or less. Thanks but no thanks. Again.

In the final analysis I am the custodian of my own reputation, though I'm quite aware my literary profile is so low that to call it 'my reputation' is more than somewhat vainglorious. But I like to think of myself as a wordsmith, a craftsman, writing beautiful prose, creating art. My work needs editing, not ghost writing.

Of course I enjoy the luxury of not needing the money. Therefore I'm not sure whether I'd recommend similar behaviour to somone who did. But who knows? Maybe one of you, one day, will benefit from the stubbornness of an old fool.

wotf013

1 x SF, 2 x SHM, 11 x HM, WotF batting average .583
Blog The View From Sliabh Mannan.

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Posted : November 10, 2017 9:39 pm
Martin L. Shoemaker
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Platinum Member Contributor
Posts: 1750

In the final analysis I am the custodian of my own reputation, though I'm quite aware my literary profile is so low that to call it 'my reputation' is more than somewhat vainglorious. But I like to think of myself as a wordsmith, a craftsman, writing beautiful prose, creating art. My work needs editing, not ghost writing.

Of course I enjoy the luxury of not needing the money. Therefore I'm not sure whether I'd recommend similar behaviour to somone who did. But who knows? Maybe one of you, one day, will benefit from the stubbornness of an old fool.

It's your name on the story. It should be your words in the story.

http://Shoemaker.Space
Other worlds from award-winning author Martin L. Shoemaker
WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.
NNiNN

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Posted : November 10, 2017 10:58 pm
Ishmael
(@ishmael)
Gold Member
Posts: 793

Thanks, Martin. That was pretty much my thinking.

I have to say that I've encountered a huge variety of editorial philosophies and degrees of intervention, even in my short career. The first time I encountered a strongly interventionist editor I was quite taken aback. "No, no," I said, "you've not understood the story at all." In the end I agreed to more changes than I was really happy with just because I was so desperate to be published.

The thing was, nobody had given me any idea of what to expect. I wonder if a thread discussing editorial licence would be useful, or whether they're all so different that no guidance is really possible?

1 x SF, 2 x SHM, 11 x HM, WotF batting average .583
Blog The View From Sliabh Mannan.

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Posted : November 10, 2017 11:22 pm
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

Good on you, Ishmael. wotf007 wotf009 Getting published isn't worth it if the story gets ruined in the process.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : November 11, 2017 1:09 am
Martin L. Shoemaker
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Platinum Member Contributor
Posts: 1750

The thing was, nobody had given me any idea of what to expect. I wonder if a thread discussing editorial licence would be useful, or whether they're all so different that no guidance is really possible?

Or maybe two. I'm launching them now.

http://Shoemaker.Space
Other worlds from award-winning author Martin L. Shoemaker
WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.
NNiNN

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Posted : November 11, 2017 2:19 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

Just got an interesting personal from Podcastle:

For the most part I like this story. My main problem is its slight tendency to over-explain things, which spoils the pacing for me. In particular, I think you could stand to trust the reader to infer a little more of Cers internal state, rather than showing us every thought he has, especially at the end.

Not sure how to feel about this one. I usually get rejections because I don't explain enough of my characters' internal thoughts.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : February 15, 2018 10:07 pm
jficke13
(@jficke13)
Bronze Member
Posts: 80

Just got an interesting personal from Podcastle:

For the most part I like this story. My main problem is its slight tendency to over-explain things, which spoils the pacing for me. In particular, I think you could stand to trust the reader to infer a little more of Cers internal state, rather than showing us every thought he has, especially at the end.

Not sure how to feel about this one. I usually get rejections because I don't explain enough of my characters' internal thoughts.

Maybe because it's an audio market, they put a tighter emphasis on pacing than another market might have?

HM x2, Vol. 34 Q4 - 3rd. http://www.jonficke.com

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Posted : February 16, 2018 12:07 am
Disgruntled Peony
(@disgruntledpeony)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1115

Just got an interesting personal from Podcastle:

For the most part I like this story. My main problem is its slight tendency to over-explain things, which spoils the pacing for me. In particular, I think you could stand to trust the reader to infer a little more of Cers internal state, rather than showing us every thought he has, especially at the end.

Not sure how to feel about this one. I usually get rejections because I don't explain enough of my characters' internal thoughts.

It's possible. I'm thinking I'll look the story over and see if there's any fat I feel comfortable trimming today. I haven't read this one over since I submitted it to WotF. (It's my finalist, actually.)

Maybe because it's an audio market, they put a tighter emphasis on pacing than another market might have?

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales

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Posted : February 16, 2018 1:48 am
RETreasure
(@rschibler)
Silver Star Member
Posts: 743

Got what I’m calling a second tier rejection from Analg today, after over 100 days. I was invited to resubmit with something else, so I’m calling it a win! For a bare novice like me, the little signs are really encouraging.

V34: R,HM,R
V35: HM,R,R,HM
V36: R,HM,HM,SHM
V37: HM,SF,SHM,SHM
V38: F, SHM, P, P
Available for critiques - PM for availability.
www.rebeccaetreasure.com

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Posted : February 28, 2018 3:32 am
Martin L. Shoemaker
(@martin-l-shoemaker)
Platinum Member Contributor
Posts: 1750

Got what I’m calling a second tier rejection from Analg today, after over 100 days. I was invited to resubmit with something else, so I’m calling it a win! For a bare novice like me, the little signs are really encouraging.

He means it. When an editor says that, they always mean it. Keep going!

http://Shoemaker.Space
Other worlds from award-winning author Martin L. Shoemaker
WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE! WRITE!
SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT! SUBMIT!
REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT! REPEAT!
Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience. Patience.
NNiNN

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Posted : April 12, 2018 11:59 am
Morgan
(@morgan-broadhead)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 131

Dang! So close!
I had a story that was being held for consideration by a semi-pro magazine. I sent them a follow-up after their deadline had passed for getting back to me. The editor told me it's a strong story; they just can't use it at this time. But . . . he also said if the story hasn't sold by September, to please let him know if it's still available for consideration in their Fall issue. Never been so excited about a rejection before!

~Morgan

"If you can do it for joy, you can do it forever."
- Stephen King
Drop me a line at https://morganbroadhead.com

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Posted : June 25, 2018 4:29 am
LDWriter2
(@ldwriter2)
Gold Star Member
Posts: 1267

Finally I can post something here.

Sent in a very short story to one market. Got back a reply that basically said I almost made it. My story was among those that made it through to the final choice.They think my writing is good and stated in stronger terms than usual to send in another story,

Only one problem. It's not a market I usually send in to so besides wanting really short stories (A Flash of Words) I don't know them. And I can not recall which story I sent them. I checked my sent E-mail file but because of a mix up a few weeks ago most of those were deleted. I might have found it but it was under a different name. Beyond that there is nothing.

Working on turning Lead into Gold.
Four HMs From WotF
The latest was Q1'12
HM-quarter 4 Volume 32
One HM for another contest
published in Strange New Worlds Ten.
Another HM http://onthepremises.com/minis/mini_18.html

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Posted : September 9, 2018 10:12 am
mikewyantjr
(@mikewyantjr)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 177

Finally I can post something here.

Sent in a very short story to one market. Got back a reply that basically said I almost made it. My story was among those that made it through to the final choice.They think my writing is good and stated in stronger terms than usual to send in another story,

Only one problem. It's not a market I usually send in to so besides wanting really short stories (A Flash of Words) I don't know them. And I can not recall which story I sent them. I checked my sent E-mail file but because of a mix up a few weeks ago most of those were deleted. I might have found it but it was under a different name. Beyond that there is nothing.

Congrats and... crap?

That last bit is why I started using The Grinder at all. My own system for tracking submissions was getting clunkier by the submission. Highly recommend giving it a try if you haven't already.

WotF Results:

R:6
HM:12
sHM:0
SF:1
F:0
Last: HM, Q1 v38

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Posted : September 11, 2018 6:53 am
mikewyantjr
(@mikewyantjr)
Bronze Star Member
Posts: 177

Dang! So close!
I had a story that was being held for consideration by a semi-pro magazine. I sent them a follow-up after their deadline had passed for getting back to me. The editor told me it's a strong story; they just can't use it at this time. But . . . he also said if the story hasn't sold by September, to please let him know if it's still available for consideration in their Fall issue. Never been so excited about a rejection before!

~Morgan

So... did you let him know (or sell it already)?

WotF Results:

R:6
HM:12
sHM:0
SF:1
F:0
Last: HM, Q1 v38

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Posted : September 11, 2018 6:54 am
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