Thursday, June 30, 2011

A lil' Persistence.

Faithful readers of this blog and my work might remember a little short story called "Always Say Treat" which was first read by the host of Suspense Radio for its first Halloween special. I then sent it to The Horror Zine after reviewing their latest short story collection for Suspense Magazine. After it was accepted, Horror Zine editor Jeani Rector and I sort of became email buds. When she again started accepting submissions, I sent her a short story called "Super Powers," which was inspired by a story she'd written about a little girl hiding form her abusive father. Mine was about a little BOY, so take that, plagiarism police!

Anyway, she rejected it. Not a huge deal but somehow in the process we started an email conservation about online flaming wars. She'd never heard of that happy little phenomenon, which prompted me to say, "Really? In that case, I'm gonna write me up a scary story about it that'll know your socks off!"

Okay, I wasn't that cocky but the concept intrigued her and so I set about writing what would become one of the more difficult attempts I've ever made (at least since the last one). But I couldn't let her or myself down. I had to flesh out this idea until it resembled something original and interesting, two traits Jeani requires for the stories she accepts. Fortunately, I was embroiled in a flaming war at the time, so it turned out to be easier than it should have been.

In the meantime, Jeanni found herself swamped with requests form indie filmmakers to review their movies. I volunteered to help her with that as well. When I finally completed the first draft of what would eventually become "Flame101," I wasn't sure it worked. I went back and added more foreshadowing, cut out scenes that didn't pay off, and tightened the narrative as much as I could. The idea, that evil forces use human arrogance as a method of domination, is one that runs throughout much of my work, so this take on it had to be different, less obvious.

Because of the fact that she's been so swamped, it took her a while to respond to the submission, leaving me to wonder just how much I'd failed to deliver. Then I received the following email:

Hi Chris, sorry it has taken me so long to get to this.
I read Flame and I like it very much. It is highly original and inventive. You are able to create just the right pace of tension and intrigue.
Is this story still available? If so, would you be willing to work with me on some edits? Probably not a lot, but some. Let me know. If so, I can schedule you for November 2011. Sheesh, I am going to have to close submissions pretty soon for a while. I am glad you made it before I do.

To which I replied:

That story was written exclusively for you (and I'm not sucking up, I'm serious). I am always open to edits. I ain't be one of them peoples.


We can joke around like that, which is one of the reasons she's swiftly becoming my favorite person in the field. I'll post the link to the story when it's published, but that isn't really the point of this post. This is about the persistence required to get your work accepted. It's about not assuming that, just because one story was accepted, the next one is a shoe-in.

A lil' persistence pays off. Maybe not always, but in the meantime you'll get to watch movies you would never see whether you want to or not and then have to sit down and avoid harshness and negativity when writing a review.

Hey, wait a minute!



thehorrorzine said...

Christopher, you are awesome, and so is your talent.
Jeani Rector, Editor
The Horror Zine

c nadeau said...

Aw shucks!