a sale, reprint, and a tangent on tenacity

Sale! My story “The Burned House” has been accepted at the magazine Tales of the Unanticipated. Publication date TBA.

Also, “The Moon Will Look Strange,” which appeared in Black Static #16, is going to be reprinted in The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror #2, edited by Paula Guran, out this August. I’ve mentioned that elsewhere, but not here.

That’s two sales to American markets in the last month or two! For whatever reason, only UK editors have bought my fiction up to now. I am not certain why this is the case, and while this does allow me to say, “Hey, I am just like Jimi Hendrix!”, which is kind of a good line (despite my being nothing like Jimi Hendrix), I’d rather sell fiction on both sides of the Atlantic.

Wait, here is a story to warm the cockles of aspiring writers’ hearts. I did make an American sale once, sort of, long ago. About 8 1/2 years ago I placed a story with a small US publication which then was orphaned in some kind of Editor Drama, and the person who bought the story was deposed and the new editor didn’t like my story and I was offered an insultingly small kill fee for my troubles. Did I accept the insultingly small kill fee? Of course I did. Hey, we writers don’t make much money as it is–we can be venal lot, and I wasn’t getting paid much for the story in the first place. I actually thought the sentiment was kind of classy and, you know, it was enough to buy myself a decent lunch. EXCEPT THEY NEVER PAID IT. I never heard from them again and the magazine never put out another issue.

The story, however, “The Last Reel,” was eventually picked up by the delightful David Longhorn at the excellent Supernatural Tales, where it appeared in 2006. (Yes, that’s four years after the beginning of this story and a good five years after I wrote it. While that’s not typical, it’s also not terribly unusual. This is why people tell you that building a writing career is a slow process.) And then Steve Jones bought it for inclusion in The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #18 in 2007, and people really liked the story, and it was even under option for a while for a film. Did I mention the magazine that reneged on publishing it was never heard from again?

I think the moral of that story is clear, which is that American editors don’t like my fiction   success is the best revenge you shouldn’t give up on a story you believe in, or on your writing in general. Do I follow this rule? Nah, I give up all the time. Well, not so much anymore, but I used to. The trouble is, it can be hard to tell whether you’re deluded and a story just isn’t working or whether you just haven’t encountered the right editor and/or audience yet. (Just because you’re persistent doesn’t actually mean you’re any good.) And it can be hard to keep going in the face of yawning indifference. Maybe that’s why some writers seem to enjoy making enemies! It’s probably easier and more fun to fight a nemesis.

3 thoughts on “a sale, reprint, and a tangent on tenacity

  1. Three years after it’s published, I stumble upon Best New Horror 2008……instantly, I enjoy reading the author intro to “These Things We Have Always Known”, not to mention the story itself. I looked you up via Google (if you can’t find it on Google, it doesn’t exist), and followed the trail of bread crumbs here. I just wanted to say that I enjoy your writing, and look forward to reading your next work. Thank you for sharing with the world. 🙂 Oh, and Irish cats are always fussy…not sure why.

  2. Wow, thanks so much. Hearing from readers who enjoy the things I write is absolutely the best thing of all. I hope if you track down any of my other fiction you enjoy it too!

    That’s good to know about Irish cats 🙂 …I’ll keep that in mind in case I accidentally acquire any more (aren’t they ALL acquired by accident?).

    1. I’ll definitely keep looking around. Unlike a lot of writers featured in anthologies, your work tickled my fancy enough to want to read more of. I myself have delved into the writing world, but unless fan fiction about wicked witches happens to be one of your guilty pleasures, I doubt you’ll ever hear of me.

      And yes, I have 3 accidental acquisitions of my own, though they’re just the standard American versions- too lazy to be fussy. I’ve considered writing about the lives of my cats, but then, that would be an awfully short story…..

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