Monday, November 23, 2009

Sporadic At Best

It seems my posting here is becoming fewer and further between efforts. I'm sorry about that.

I've also not written anything in quite sometime, but my mind is still ticking over with how I'm going to improve the first draft of Inner Voice - I'm excited by that.

So with one week left to go before the submission deadline for Dark Pages Volume 1, I'm still reading madly. I think I'm averaging around 20-30 short stories a week which is pretty good for me on top of normal life. I'm guessing around 11th of December everyone who submitted will have an answer of some sort on how their masterpiece has faired in regards to it being held over for further consideration or the dreaded rejection.

Myself and the staff at Blade Red Press have been blown away with the response and the quality of the work writers from all over the world have sent to us for consideration. It has been truly staggering. With the number of anthologies I've seen this year having to extend their submission deadlines due to a lack of response or a lack of quality work, I consider myself extremely lucky to have been inundated with exceptional stories from so many brilliant authors, both known and emerging.

It was only the other day I commented to Blade Red that we could easily publish Dark Pages volumes 1, 2 & 3 from the stories I've read. An embarrassment of riches is an understatement.

If you've not received a hold request yet, or if you don't receive one, please don't feel slighted. Decisions are becoming extremely tough for me now. I'm reading good stories that I have to weigh up against all the good stories I've already found a hold place for. This is the best reason to always submit early when targeting an anthology.

Allow me to give a hypothetical example that may well have been the case at some stage last year, but has, thankfully, not been my specific experience (yet): imagine I receive a real kick-arse story about vampires. It has well rounded characters, lots of conflict, on both a personal level and in the supernatural action arena, and has a unique hook. I've received this story a week after submissions opened and instantly put it in my possibles list. Three weeks before submissions close, I get another very good vampire story. This author has obviously taken the extra time to have the story critiqued and polished. It is good but it doesn't disturb quite as much as the first one. With reluctance, I place it in my probably not folder which doesn't mean it's dead by a long shot. The following day, I receive two more vampire stories of which one is better than vampire tale number two and the other is not bad either (if I hadn't received the other three, it would have been a contender).

At this point (because I'm mindful of author's hating to wait for responses) I need to make a decision on what to keep. I go back and read the very first story I decided to hold and because it's been a while since I first put it away, I regain the wonder I felt when I first read it, and yet it retains that feeling of an old friend, something I've read and appreciated before. I know it's going to be hard to top. With reluctance I send out rejections to all the other vampire stories. (you can change vampire for any common theme/trope: circus, dolls, ghosts, evil child, werewolf, etc, etc)

Don't get me wrong, if another vampire story arrives that is mindblowingly original (it could happen), then the first story could still be dislodged. I've not sent an acceptance letter to anyone. My possibles list is very fluid and will remain so until at least a week after submissions close, but I'm not reading as an editor at the moment (at least not first and foremost). I'm sliding over typos or awkward sentence structure and mentally replacing it with something that sounds a little better and moving on. I work through submissions purely with my readers hat on. The good point about that is I'm allowing myself to fall into the world you are creating. I'm doing my best to allow myself to be swept away with your words. I'm giving you the reigns - if you don't take hold and drive me to somewhere believable and disturbing, then the piece doesn't make the hold list. If you do, then the editorial hat comes into play and you're judged against whatever else I have already set aside. Then you still may not make the hold list - many good stories fall into this category already :c(

So I say again, the big lesson here, is to submit early and submit your very best the first time. Unfortunately, everything is subjective from there.


  1. Judging by the submissions that have come in the last week, it's only going to get harder! ;)

  2. Excellent news--I think...;c)

  3. I don't envy you: a scenario like that would have driven me to drink by now!

    Still, part of me does think it sounds fun ; )

  4. Oh, to be a fly on the wall and watch you put each story through its paces.

  5. Yeah, I don't envy you either-- except for reading all that awesome stuff. The decision, though, not so much.

    Still, it's going to be awesome. I'm so glad it's been such a great reading experience, even if it's stressful. Mostly because I'm selfish, and it means I'll get to read amazingness when it's out :D

  6. Nat - I'm looking forward to the drinking part once it out sells all previous anthologies ever released....

    Jamie - no real process at the moment, at least not to start with. I really am happy to just sit with my reader hat on and allow writers to move me.

    Katey - I'll say it again - I am blown away with the exceptional tales I've been able to read so far. It's been a bummer that I've had to say no to some good friends of mine but they're in good company. Most people would be staggered by some of the people I've said no to - the good people at Blade Red Press have done a double take on some of the people I've said no to.

    This is all about the stories. I don't consider who wrote what - I don't care - until I've got to say no and then I look at who wrote it. I probably shouldn't but I'm a writer as well and I know the disappointment each and everyone feels on getting that rejection, so I share some of that pain by taking note of the author's name and where they're from. It is of no help to everyone that I feel this way on every story I say no to, but there you go, I can't help it.

  7. Yeah, that would definitely bum me out, telling people I know (and know write excellent fiction, at that) no. But you're so, so right, and this just ups my belief that this is going to be brilliant-- it's about the stories. It always should be, it always will be, when it's good. Bless you, man. Pain is worth it, in this case. :D