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The lift I needed

June 19, 2009

I confess, despite knowing the late speculative element made “Glow Baby” a WotF long shot, the flat rejection left me wondering about the story’s quality.  After all, it was the second story I submitted to Clarion SD (along with “Leech Run”) and was soundly rejected from Strange Horizons.  Of course I know how tough the Clarion competition is and SH is a tough market (what pro market isn’t?).

I wasn’t really down on the story, but I was questioning.  I needed feedback deeper than a form rejection.  I thought about sending it to OSC’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, or Asimov’s, but even a close call there might warrant no more than a dismissive strip of paper or email. I had already passed the story through Critters and OWW seemed unlikely to produce many more useful gems (my two stories there have accumulated only two reviews each).  So where to go?  The bar.

Baen’s Bar, to be exact.  I hadn’t put anything there in a month or so.  I’m still hammering the kinks out of “Leech Run” based on their suggestions.  My other Bar graduate, “Secondhand Rush” is in the bin for WotF’s third quarter.  So I posted GB late last night and sat back to await comments.

While I value comments from every Bar Fly, the slush editors are always the comments I tremble over.  Gary Cuba sounded off on GB today.  Like the post title says, it was the boost I needed.

I won’t plaster his comments here, but I will share a quote or two.  First he said he wanted to stop reading after 200 words, then 500 words, then after 1000…(gulp), but he didn’t.  Why not?  He wasn’t sure; maybe it was “some sort of subtle tension” or “just the quality of the writing, which [he] thought was very good”, or “the slow but incessant churning of a millwheel, cracking husks of wheat, revealing more and more of the protag’s character (as well as her aunt’s) via her old memories” (my favorite), or the setting, or something else. Whatever it was, he did read to the end.  He felt the last half was “super” and liked the ending and the story as a whole.

I would go so far as to say that this may be one of those rare stories that stick with me for a while.

He agreed with something I decided a while ago: this story must be accepted in (pretty much) the form it has achieved.  The beginning can’t endure a lot of hack and slash or even reconstructive surgery.

One other thing Gary mentioned was that he thinks the story falls into the horror genre…”the best kind of horror”.  This was news to me, though others had suggested it brushed the edges.  I intend to leave “Glow Baby” at the Bar for a while, but I may eventually have to start seeking a horror market for it.  I don’t usually read horror, let alone write it, so I’m not sure where I might place a subtle horror story like this.  Market suggestions are most welcome.

In the meantime, I guess it’s back to the keyboard.  These stories aren’t going to write/edit/critique/rewrite/outline themselves.


3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2009 4:12 am

    Yeah, Strange Horizons is tough. I didn’t get anything like a personal rejection from them until the third story I’d sent (which they loved the imagery/writing, but apparently the story over all wasn’t for them, sigh).

    Many sf markets will consider horror, so just check the guidelines. Also while it may not be accepting submissions right now, Weird Tales loves strange stories with a horror feel and often seem to publish things that are on the edges of genre that I image other pubs wouldn’t consider. So check when they’ll be accepting subs again and maybe keep it in mind? (I think they pay 3cents a word…)

  2. September 24, 2009 1:44 pm

    I realize this topic is months old, but I’m not afraid of a little threadomancy. 🙂 Though I’ve done my share of commenting on the Bar, I haven’t read the tale in question. You may know me as steffenwolf over there, though other factors have eclipsed my usual critiquing time so I haven’t made it over there as often as I’d like in recent months.

    What I did want to say, even though I haven’t read the story, is that you should try Pseudopod. They are a horror podcast market, and their tastes in horror is extremely varied, from body horror to monsters, ro psychological, to dystopic SF. If anyone can view it as horror, it has a chance there. And they’re not afraid of publishing beginners, that is where I made my very first fiction sale, and the editorial staff all seem to be very cool people. They don’t pay pro rates ($100 flat for short stories), but they do take reprints. So even if you don’t send it to them right away, you can think about sending it to them after you’ve published it somewhere else. 🙂

    Anyway, see you around!

  3. September 24, 2009 1:54 pm

    Uh, that last comment was also me, not Anthony. I would delete it but I’m not sure how!

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