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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.


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