Story Beginnings

Last January, a friend sent me a link to a short-story contest through the American Philosophical Association. The story had to have a philosophical element, and winning entries would be published in Sci-Phi Online Magazine. I read their content, really liked what I saw, and wrote my first ever short story, “Last Call.”

Of course, it didn’t win. It was too fresh, like newly bottled wine. I’d never even tried to write a short story before. I let it age a while, then re-read it, made some revisions, and sent it out again. And again. And again. No luck.

After letting it sit for a few more months, I reviewed it again, made some additional changes and, last November, fired it off as a submission to my fiction class for critique by my classmates and our teacher. Wow! The feedback I received was fabulous, and oh so helpful! I also got lots of encouragement to resubmit.

So I did. In January, I sent it in to a small online magazine for consideration, listed my submission on Duotrope so I could track it, and moved on to something else. Several somethings else, in fact. At this point, I have five fiction short stories and one non-fiction essay, all of which are still in the process of refining and resubmitting.

A couple of weeks ago, I got word from one of my other queries that they had considered long and hard whether to publish another of my shorts (“Murder of Crows”), but in the end they selected someone else’s submission, though they wanted me to know it was really close. The editor said he enjoyed the piece, liked my writing style, and encouraged me to submit again. He looked forward to reading more of my work. After so many bland, “thanks but no thanks” rejections, that one felt good.

Last Wednesday I finally submitted a piece of my novel’s sequel to writing class and again got great feedback. The teacher said she could see that my influences were writers like Ursula Le Guin and Frank Herbert (awesome praise, that – I did a little happy dance right then in class). I came home and told Bobby. Understand, he’s been in on my novel’s development since day one, and is always there to hear each new scene as I complete it. So he wanted to know what everyone had to say. I opened my e-mail program to read him some of the comments from classmates and there it was.

My first acceptance. Apparently the most recent changes I made to “Last Call” got it picked up. The editor even said they “loved it.”

Oh, the happy dance this old(ish) writer can still do when properly motivated! I danced around the living room and down the hall, and with Bobby still laughing, I sat down to e-mail everyone I know.

Well, okay, a few close friends. All my writers’ groups. My Facebook friends. My family. And since then anyone would listen. Possibly even a few strangers. Really.

Can you tell I’m excited? (Perhaps this might explain that odd screaming sound you heard around 11:20 p.m. last Wednesday night?)

Now the contract is signed (did that this morning) and, though I don’t know when it will appear, I’ll pass on the publication’s name and link as soon as it’s a done deal, promise.

And so the story of my publishing career begins! Still dancin’ over here. I know I still have a long way to go. This is only a first step, but it feels so huge! I have no intention of letting up on the hard work and feel even more motivated than ever. (Gee, ya think?) But I’m happy to take the accomplishments when they come, and celebrate each and every one.