“Inclement Weather” published in The Storyteller Magazine

My short story, “Inclement Weather”, is now appearing in the current issue of The Storyteller: A Writer’s Magazine.  What a thrill!

This story came out of a unique writing opportunity and a great book of writing prompts.  Several years ago when I was a teaching assistant working at an elementary school, I had two months off during the summer, and spent one of those months in Denver visiting my family.  My routine was to spend mornings writing, and the rest of the day visiting.  I’d brought with me a favorite book, The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1001 Prompts to Ignite Your Fiction, and used many of the prompts to write short stories.  This was one of them.

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Over the years, I revised it many times and struggled to find markets for my humorous, slightly romantic story.  Eventually I submitted it to the Writer’s Digest Annual Writing Competition in the Genre Short Story category.  (This is typical of my questionable habit of starting high, in a competitive arena, and if I don’t get a positive response, I know it still needs work.)  And I got no response.  I revisited it a year later, and something occurred to me about a change that was happening with the main character, so I clarified and emphasized that change and felt that I’d improved the whole story.

With this new enthusiasm, I went back to the Writer’s Market books and the internet to find a potential home for my story.  My writing style isn’t the most in-demand.  I don’t write in some of the more popular genres, such as paranormal, thrillers, mysteries or science fiction.  I think my stories could be considered a mixture of women’s fiction with a touch of romance, and on the corny side, definitely tough to find markets for.  So I was excited to find The Storyteller listed in the 2013 Novel and Short Story Writer’s Market as a publisher who was specifically looking for wholesome writing.  “We accept all genres, but please remember this is a family magazine and submit accordingly.”

The Storyteller is listed in the 101 Best of the Magazine Markets for 2006-2011, and The Best of the Magazine Markets for Writers 2009-2011. Harvard University has now included the Storyteller in their publication, Magazines for Libraries. It is a world wide publication.

Screenshot - 30-Jul-2013 , 6_35_11 AM Storyteller home pgHere is the brief summary I included on the cover letter for “Inclement Weather”:

All Robert wanted was to come in out of the rain for a few minutes, but the next thing he knew, he was in a shouting match with a complete stranger.  Over a period of less than fifteen minutes, however, the conflict in the dress shop caused a significant change inside him which transformed a faltering element of his personality.  He left a  much taller man with a delightful woman on his arm.

You can buy this and other issues of The Storyteller by going to their website and clicking on “Shop with Us”.  To order this issue, choose the Single Issue option, and select April, May, June.

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Writing Contests

Since I seem to be motivated by deadlines, I have been using contests to force me to get my homeless writing projects out the door. I like the limitations on word counts and time imposed by the deadlines. Contests also inspire me to brainstorm, outline, draft, write, edit, rewrite and submit a brand-new story or essay in a relatively short period of time.

Alas, however, the contest judges don’t usually reciprocate positive vibes back to me. Within the first six months of this year, I submitted 7 contest entries to 4 different contests. Within the past few weeks I have learned that none of my first 6 entries has been deemed worthy of even an honourable mention. And this surprises me, not because my writing is so good, but because statistically it seemed to me that if I submitted a lot of entries to one contest, I’d have a good chance of winning at least the booby prize.

Sad Boy

And I didn’t just slap these things together, either. I’d written most of them before I found out about the contest, and had already revised them several times. Then I revised them again for the contest. I hate to admit it, but I was so sure of my success in one contest that when I won nothing, I was angry (a rare emotion for me in my writing world). And I wasn’t just angry, I went so far as to conclude that the only logical explanation for not winning was that there was favoritism, and the “popular” writers won. (Hmm, am I back in junior high school again, agonizing over not being in the “cool” group?)

I guess I figured that if I put an extra amount of work into them, my entries would succeed. But no, it isn’t that simple. I am still a newbie, I know, and I have a lot to learn. I adored the stories that won in one children’s writing contest, and am anxious to read the winning entries of the others so I can get a feel for what the judges were looking for, and how my piece could be even better.

One nice thing is that I can look back over the past six months and feel satisfaction at all the writing time I logged, as well as the focused effort. It’s funny how enjoyable the hard work of writing is, compared to many other kinds of hard work (like shopping for clothes—aargh!).

And my work was not wasted. Those pieces are better by far than they originally were, and they are ready to be submitted elsewhere. I see that I am succeeding in one of my writing goals, which is to have a pool of work to choose from for the next call for submissions, or the next exciting market I find out about. Just the thought of sending something out excites me, because there’s always the possibility that someone will be interested.

Also what bubbles up from my memory as I lick my wounds are the many words of encouragement and quotations I’ve read in books, magazines or websites for writers. Rejection and discouragement are part of the writing life. It is not an exact science like engineering, but a subjective art. One editor will like a book that another editor passes over. The moods of a judge and the publishing world in general are subject to change. My job is to keep writing what is important to me and what fills me with joy.

Oh! What’s this package in this morning’s snail mail? My prize for contest entry number 7? No, but it is a reminder to never give up. A contributor copy of a book anthology containing my 173-word essay, and proof that someone found my words worth printing!