Skip to main content

Editing the Horror Story

Remember that story I blogged about a while back? The one I wrote with the goal of creating a gender-neutral/gender-undisclosed protagonist

Well, I submitted it to a literary magazine online, and it was accepted for their next anthology. 

The litmag is called Smoking Pen Press. For inclusion in their next anthology, I will receive a bit of money and a copy of the published book. I'll blog again when it goes live, I suppose. 

I've won contests and had submissions accepted before, but I'm writing about this one now because I've never done any of that with short stories. I don't consider myself very good at short stories. For the story I submitted, titled "River Road," I just had a whim to sit down and write a short story -- even gave myself a wordcount of 2,000-ish -- with the conceit of seeing if I could be deliberately vague about the protagonist's gender. When it turned out better than expected, I figured, what the hell? and submitted it. 

The acceptance came in the middle of a string of bad days. It was a welcome reminder that sometimes I write things that, for whatever reason, other people like. I'm not sure I consider it much of an accomplishment, considering how much the rest of my life resembles this box in terms of how well I'm keeping it together. And/or of how much you'd trust that box to behave like a functional adult. 

Image result for cardboard box held together

I've had a decent amount of success with poetry submissions and contests. If I cared enough and/or had enough money to burn on submission fees, I could probably do a lot better. (That would also require me to re-read my poems without wanting to die in a fire. Poetry is a bit...personal.)

But perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised that someone liked one of my short stories. Horror, after all, is the one short story genre I always seem to have liked and been OK at. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the power my short horror stories seemed to have over the imaginations of my friends. I have Poe and Lovecraft and Stephen King and a few other horror greats' collections. I like reading horror shorts more than most other genres. Horror presents a diverse array of tales but also provides a pretty solid framework which an incompetent plotter like me can work with more easily. 

Whether I'd class this one as pure horror, I don't know. It has a murder! A killer! Even a ghost. It feels more "ghost story" than horror, but again, you know, with the murdering. Even though the supernatural elements are minimal, it wouldn't feel out of place in a horror collection. 

In any case, I just completed the first round of revision requests from Smoking Pen Press, and I hope to finish the process soon. My attitude towards submitting was, "Meh," but the revising process had me in heaps and piles of nerves. I needn't have been so concerned. 

Anyway, that's my brag for the month out of the way. I wrote a thing. People liked the thing. Now the people who liked the thing are going to publish the thing. Woo-hoo. 


  1. Wohoo congrats! I feel I am horrible at short stories as well, I just don't know how they work... maybe I should try just sitting down and writing one like you did. :) Anyway that's so cool!

    1. Thanks!

      Yeah, I guess it's hard to get better without practice. I doubt I could replicate this feat if I tried to write another short tale, but there's no harm in trying.


Post a Comment

Comments make me happy, so leave lots! :) I will usually reply to each one, so click Notify Me to read my replies.

Popular posts from this blog

What if Iago was a Woman?

For all that I'm a theatre major, I hardly ever talk about acting on this blog. But this project is so cool and fantastic and awesome and wicked that I just have to take a minute and tell you about it. What if Iago was a woman? For those of you who don't know, Iago is a villain in Shakespeare's tragedy Othello. He is considered one of the worst, most evil antagonists in all of Shakespeare.  Plot summary: Othello is a Moor, which in those days referred to someone from Africa. He, a black man, marries Desdemona, a white woman. Society flips its shit, but they can't exactly do anything because he's the General of the Venetian navy and there's a war on. Desdemona, unable to stay with her angry father, goes with Othello to Cyprus, which is in rebellion. A storm sinks the enemy navy and our good guys arrive safely. Iago, though, is not happy. Because Othello passed him over for promotion (and assorted other reasons that all amount to "I just want to fuck sh

Missing people around the holidays

This winter is highly unusual for many of us because of the pandemic. The holidays are often a trauma trigger in any case, beyond the simple stress of preparing the celebrations. For example, some people have bad memories of spending holidays with abusive people, while others have to deal with the grief of experiencing their first holiday without a deceased loved one.  This winter, so many people are spending their holidays sick or without those who have died from COVID-19. One of my friends used to make and boost threads about being kind to yourself around the holidays, geared towards those for whom the season is a grief/trauma anniversary. This year, my grandfather died. Later this year, that friend died. Every time I think of all the people who didn't survive 2020, I think of them and how fucking unfair that feels. In 2020, we weren't able to hold a funeral for my grandfather. The social rituals around death, designed to help us deal with it, have been disrupted. Distance is

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faïza Guène, a YA Book By A Young Author

Review time! Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow is a young adult novel by a young adult, so I was very interested to read it. There's also a #MuslimShelfSpace tag going around, and this review is a nod to that. The idea is that there's been a lot of stereotypes and anti-Muslim sentiment spread around, so buying and boosting books about and by Muslims can help educate people and break down harmful stereotypes.  The author is French with an Algerian background, and  Guène  wrote Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow when she was in her late teens. Although the novel is not autobiographical, she shares many things with its main character. Doria, like her creator, is the child of immigrants and lives in poor suburban housing projects.   Guène   wrote that she realized girls like herself weren't really represented in books, and felt that Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow was a way to tell the stories of people in the suburbs who are ignored by the elites of French literature. Plot: Life Sucks, Until It Doesn