A True Cliché: It’s Darkest Before Dawn

As a writer, I often strive to avoid clichés. However, there are times when they are just necessary. The title of this blog post was one of them.

I’ve gotten over 100 rejections since I started sending stories out to publishes, but last week, and the week before, the stream of rejections was more intense. It was dark, and wore away at the thick skin I thought I had grown. Every morning, I woke up to at least one rejection in my inbox, and saw at least one more before bed.

Last Friday, I had three in morning and two more before bed. One of them was for a story I had really thought was going to get accepted. My thick skin had been pierced. I thought I was doomed to never be published again. I thought my writing sucked. I was a failure.

Saturday morning, I woke up to not one, but two acceptances. The first was saying Centum Press had accepted a story to their 100 Tails Anthology. The other was from book publisher expressing interest in a children’s manuscript I had sent them. I was and still am off-the-wall excited. I haven’t gotten a contract yet, so I don’t want to share any details, but I’m too excited to not saying anything at all.

The sun was finally starting to rise.

I did get one rejection Saturday, but nothing Sunday. Monday had a stream of rejections, which were thankfully tempered by an acceptance to Sick Lit Magazine. Tuesday, there were no rejections at all. Just an acceptance to Ink in Thirds.

Today? One personal rejection with a sentence of feedback that will help me revise the story, and one form rejection.

Since school got out for the summer, I’ve been sending at least one submission a day, sometimes as many as five. I’ve been constantly writing and revising. Whether its obsession or persistence, it’s working.

Things got darker for a little bit, but they the sun came up and washed away my doubts.

Jim Butcher, one of my favorite authors, said if your in a group being chased by a grizzly bear, you don’t have to be the fastest person, you just need to be faster than the guy next you. It may sound harsh, but the market is completely saturated with great stories. The writers who get overwhelmed by the rejections and slow down get eaten. The ones who keep writing and keep clicking that submit button get published.

I will not be eaten by the Grizzly of Despair.

I will keep running. I will keep writing. I will find homes for my stray stories!

And one of these days, I’ll actually get paid for them.

Write on!

©2016 Sara Codair

 

 

Half-Awake Thoughts on Publishing Short Fiction

This morning, I woke up to two rejections.

One was a form rejection from the Drabblecast for a flash piece called “The Largest Looser.” I just shrugged it off and started thinking about where to send it next. The flash story is hardly a month old been only been submitted to four places. I have plenty of other paying markets left to send it to.

The second was a rather encouraging personal rejection from Fantasy and Science Fiction for a piece titled “Berserker.” In fact, when I saw the words “The opening scene of this grabbed me and it held my attention to the end, and I think it’s an interesting premise,” I actual thought it was going to be an acceptance. Then came the dreaded “but” followed by a pretty justified reason for turning the story down. Fortunately, I think this is something another revision can fix, so maybe, the next time I submit it somewhere, it will get accepted.

I don’t revise every story after every rejection. Sometimes, a story gets rejected simply because it just doesn’t line up with what the editor wants to put in his or her issue. Sometimes it just isn’t the editors style. Writing is subjective. Different people like different kinds of stories. Editors are people. Just because one or two don’t like a story doesn’t mean its bad. However, when I get personal rejection from a well respected editor that compliments the story then makes a few suggestions, I certainly am going to revisit the story and give his suggestions some serious thoughts.

Fortunately, God, The Universe, and/or my own Hard Work softened the blow of waking up to a double rejection. My article, “Slow and Steady?” was published on Women On Writing’s The Muffin. The piece is a reflection on how an inpatient personality like mine can be both a gift and a curse when writing and publishing short fiction. Right now, the sprinter in me wants to resubmit both these stories without revising. While I might do that with the flash piece rejected by Drabblecast, My gut tells me its better to revise the longer piece rejected by Fantasy and Science Fiction. That piece has gotten a lot more rejections, and the number of pro-paying markets I can send it to is shrinking.

While Fantasy and Science Fiction is now another place I won’t be able to publish, I feel like I am starting to get a better sense of what they look for in a story. Sooner or later, there won’t be a dreaded “but” and “I’m going to pass on this one.” Until then, I’ll just keep swimming.

Two Peas in a Pod: The Writer and Antique Dealer

Two Peas in a Pod: The Writer and Antique Dealer

By Sara Codair

 

My mom is an antique dealer, and has been since I was about three years old. She choose that line of work so she could have a flexible work schedule that allowed her to earn money without taking too much time away from me. She was always able to pick me up from school and be the mom that drove my friends and me everywhere, and in the summer, I went to work with her.
We would spend our Saturday mornings trolling from one yard-sale to another, searching for treasures that she could make a profit on.2012-05-28 11.01.36 During the week, we would antique all over the five New England states. When she started, she sold in a publication called the Antique Trader. That allowed her to sell things nationally for higher prices than someone could get in a store, and by the time I was in elementary school, Ebay made her work much more profitable. Now, she could take a piece that sold for $20 in a New Hampshire shop, and sell it to someone in California, Japan or Germany for $200.

I never fully embraced the business myself, but it left me with a keen eye for undervalued items.
I can usually tell when one person’s trash would be treasure to someone else, and I can spot connections between her success as an antique dealer and my journey as an emerging writer.

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Persistence and faith pay off.

My mother has always been a devout catholic, and persistent when it comes to supporting her family. We were never rich, but I never went without. Whenever money got tight, my mom would keep searching through shops until she found something that she could sell to pay the bills. Even now, with me out of the house and my dad on the verge of retirement, she is still going strong. This week, she was getting overwhelmed with vet bills and expensive car repairs. Just when she thought she wasn’t going to be able to pay everything off, she found and purchased an Elvis Presley dress for $10. She put it on Ebay, expecting it to sell for a couple hundred. When the auction ended, the high bid was over $2,000, which was more than enough to cover the veterinary and mechanical bills.

When it comes to my writing, the rejections can be overwhelming. No matter how tough it gets, I have to keep swimming against the tide. I keep revising and submitting, believing that eventually, something will get accepted. Last week, I was starting to get down and doubt myself. I thought if I saw another “Thank you for submitting ___. Unfortunately…” I was going to chuck whatever device I was reading on across the room. While I was out to eat with my mom and a friend, I took a trip to the restroom. While I was waiting in line, I refreshed my email on my phone. There was a response from Women On Writing in my inbox, telling me my story had made the top ten in their contest. This means the story will definitely get published, and I will get paid for it. I still don’t know if I am a runner up who is getting a $25 amazon card, or one of the top three who gets a cash prize. Either way, it will be the most money I have gotten for a story so far.

No matter what happens, I need to keep going and believe that things will fall into place, sooner or later. Faith is important whether it is in a higher power, numbers, or both.

Just because several people reject something, doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there who wants it.

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The glasses sat on Etsy for months. They sold in a few hours at Todd Farm.

This morning, I met my parents at a local flea market called Todd Farm. We filled our shared table with items that had languished on internet markets like Etsy and Ebay without selling, no matter how low we dropped the price. It was refreshing to see the items fly off the table, especially when the customers didn’t even try to haggle. By the time the unseasonable cold winds drove me from the field, my boxes were nearly empty and my wallet was full of cash.

It reminded me of how my favorite authors got dozens of rejections, in some cases, more than 100 rejections, before having their books become bestsellers, and how some short stories get accepted to pro markets after being rejected by dozens of other publications. I have some stories nearing ten rejections, but my experiences with the flea market renew my hope that sooner or later, they will sell.

Writing and antiquing aren’t all that different. They both deal in stories. They both deal with rejections. They both offer rewards for those who are persistent enough to withstand the rejections and just keep searching for the next Kodak moment.

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Submission Talk: Multiple Flashes in one Document

Hello followers and fellow writers!

Instead of a traditional post, today I have a question that I hope will propt a discussion in the comments section:

When you come across publications whose guidelines say things like “Send up to three flashes in one document” or send “For flash fiction, please send three pieces, all pasted into one document,” do you usually wait until you have three? or just send one? If you send two or three, do you select pieces that are drastically different from one another? or pieces that are thematically similar? Why?

Have you eve had something accepted from this kind of submissions? If so, so they accept everything or just one story?

For a while I avoided publications that ask this because I didn’t to handle it. However, this week, I got brave and submitted a few documents containing three very different flashes and one with some thematically similar stories.  Anyways, I would love to hear about your experiences!

p.s. If you are wondering why there is a picture of zucchini on here, it is because there are multiple fruits growing on the same plant, just like multiple submissions hanging out in one document. Will they motivate the owner to care for the plant and encourage them all to grow? or will they kill each other with competition?

Sunlight Filters through the Fog of Rejection

I know rejections are part of being a writer, but when they come in waves, they can be hard to take, especially when I know I gave 110% to a piece.

Getting two stories on nonpaying e-zines boosted my confidence for a while, but the subsequent  slew of rejections from paying markets was starting to erode it. I’ve gotten at least five rejections in the past three days.

I can deal with quick rejections, but the ones that really hurt are the ones that told me I was close. We enjoyed your story, but

  • you didn’t make the final cut
  • You didn’t get enough votes to get into the third and final round of voting
  • I loved x, y and z about it, but have to pass anyways because we have so many submissions

They make me feel like I am wandering around in pea soup fog, within sight of the lighthouse, but unable to find the harbor entrance.

Fortunately, there are flickers of sunlight slipping through the haze of rejection.

Yesterday, I found out I am a finalist for a writing contest I entered in December. Over 200 hundred have been eliminated leaving the judges with 50 to sort through. I’ve been told the top 20 will get prizes(cash or gift cards), and the top ten published.

Today, I returned from work to find ten new emails appeared in my inbox during my 15 minute commute. They were mostly twitter notifications that came around as a result of winning Cracked Flash competition for the second week in a row. I suspect there is some magic in their prompts and time limit that brings out the best in me. I’m always surprised to see what I can do with three hundred words on a Saturday. Even though there is no prize for winning, it is a welcome reminder that someone likes my writing. And that gives me hope that if I keep at it long enough, I will eventually break into the paying markets.

Thank you to the good people that run Cracked Flash.

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Here is the winning story:

The Phoenix

By Sara Codair

We all knew he was going to set himself on fire, and we were right. Henry and I just never imagined how our son, Dane, would go up in flames.

It happened over summer vacation. The sun was scorching and the black top was so hot you could cook stir fry on it. Dane was angry. The wheels on his favorite skate board had melted. His face was beat red, aching with sunburn. So when Billy Jones tried to steal his Nintendo DS, he just lost and burst into flames.

The medical examiner said it was spontaneous combustion, but he wasn’t there when it happened. He didn’t see his son out on the street raising a fist to punch a kid twice his size, just go up in flames when the sun hit his fist. He didn’t see how quick the body blackened. He didn’t see the naked baby screaming in the ashes – a baby that looked exactly how the burning boy had looked twelve years earlier.

The papers said all that was left of Dane was a charred skeleton. They don’t know about the infant that wakes me every night crying for milk or to get his diaper changed. No one knows save Henry, and no one else can know. Not even my mother.

We’re already packing. Henry has an apartment picked out across the country, and a buddy at work who can hack the system and get baby Dane a fake birth certificate and social security number. I don’t know what Henry told his friend, just that it wasn’t the truth.
Like a phoenix, Dane was reborn from his ashes, starting life anew. So we, too, would start over, in a new town where no one knew our names.

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Adjunct and Writer

I write fiction, and I teach. That pretty much sums up my life during the school year. In the summer, I write even more and spend insane amounts of time outside.

Being adjunct can be tough because I have drive a lot and don’t get benefits,  but I am fortunate enough to have a part-time tutoring job that adds some stability to the mix.

Furthermore, adjuncting supports my writing habit without stifling it. I get summers off and a weird schedule, leaving me plenty of time to type up the stories overloading my brain, revise them obsessively them send them off places and practice copious amounts of rejectomancy.

I’ve only been trying to publish my short fiction for a few months, so I’m happy to say I’ve had three pieces published so far.

The first, “Above the Influence”, was published by Mashstories.com.

Constellation Run and Un-Rung were published on 101words.org.

The others are forthcoming from Fantasy Crossing and Sick Lit Magazine.

I’ll post links to them when they are available!

Follow my blog for insight into the life of a writer/teacher, tips on writing, and tips on teaching. I may post the occasional story or vignette too.

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