In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’d received a “please wait” response to a short story I’d submitted. Unfortunately, the story was rejected but I’m still seeing this as a positive outcome because it wasn’t rejected immediately. As it stands, I’ve dusted the story off and sent it out into the world once again.
This is something you have to get used to as a writer. Rejection happens. It doesn’t mean a story is bad. Perhaps the editor who read it wasn’t in the right mood for it, or wasn’t the right person for it. David, my editor for Wolf Unleashed, has talked about how a story can be great but only if it matches the tastes and styles of the editor who accepts it. He’s told me an anecdote about how he rejected a novel submission but told the author to go and talk to a different editor who he thought it would be better suited for. That other editor later thanked him because the story was a perfect fit for them.
Sometimes a story can be great but not quite right for the theme of the anthology or magazine it’s submitted for. Sometimes it could be great but too similar to another story that the editor has committed to publish and they want to have more variety. Sometimes a story is good but the other stories submitted were just slightly better.
As a writer, you have to develop a thick skin and just keep submitting. If a story gets rejected a couple of hundred times then it’s probably time to either do a major rewrite or move on to something else, but a story getting rejected once, twice, or even ten times doesn’t mean you should give up on it.
I have already resubmitted the story that was rejected and if it gets rejected again, I’ll submit it again. Either I’ll find the right place to send it eventually or I’ll have got another story ready to go out in its place that I might have better luck with. I just have to keep trying and so should you. Every writer gets rejected. Every successful writer doesn’t let that stop them.
I’ve submitted a short story this weekend. It’s one I’m very proud of so I hope it is received well. This is the third time I’ve tried sending the story out. The first time, I received a form rejection, the second time I received a personalised rejection, so hopefully this continuing trend of improvement means that the third response will be an acceptance. Who knows? I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
I have next week booked off work and since all my wonderful travel plans are cancelled due to plague, I intend to spend some of the time working on my writing. I have edits for the third book in the Shadows of Tomorrow trilogy to go through. Edits are never the most fun part of writing a book for me, but they are important so my plan is to spend some of every day working through those to get it done.
I also have the second draft of the fourth Codename Omega book to finish. I’m nearly done, but there’s a plot thread from near the beginning that sort of trails off. I need to try and tidy that up a little bit before I let someone else read the story. This fourth book is a little different from the first three in the series in a way that was a lot of fun to write and that I hope will be a lot of fun for other people to read.
I may not be able to use the time they way I’d intended, but at least I can use it productively, in between trying to get exercise despite social distancing restrictions. I’m trying to make the best of things, which is all we really can do.
I am spending the next five days at a writer’s retreat and I plan to get a lot of words done. I’m not restricting myself to a single project or setting myself a specific word count target but I do have a few goals of things I want to achieve in the upcoming week.
Polish the short story Circle of Memories and submit it somewhere.
Write something of Ridiculously Long and Complicated Urban Fantasy Thing. This story has been stalled far too long and I really want to get back into it so I’m going to read back over some of the previous writing to try and get things moving again. Even a few hundred words will be something.
Write the next chapter of The Third Way. This is a WIP on AO3 that’s been hiatus for far too long and people keep asking if it’s abandoned. I want to make it somewhat less dead.
Write a significant portion of the second draft of the fourth Codename Omega book. I finished the first draft ages ago, so now it’s time to go back through it and see if I can do anything about that slow chunk in the middle where I had no idea how I was going to get my character out of the trouble I’d got him into and it starts to drag. I also need to work in the dramatic backstory reveal I discovered during a random bit of writing after I’d finished the first draft. I don’t expect to finish the second draft in a week, but I can make good headway into it.
See if the as yet unnamed potential sequel to Wolf Unleashed can be made to go anywhere.
If I have time, write a few hundred words on one of the many other half-written beginnings of stories I have floating around.
The Codename Omega book is probably the most critical of these, but we’ll see how it goes. I will be posting word count and other progress updates as I go along. Wish me luck.
Long ago, the village of Shrind sacrificed people to the monsters in the forest. Now the howling has started again, and a village elder has chosen Parton to be the next sacrifice.
Left to die for having shared a kiss with the elder’s son, Parton receives more compassion from the supposed monster than from those who had been his friends and neighbours. In the heart of the woods, learning to accept himself may be a harder lesson than learning to accept the monster.
A Monster’s Kindness is now available for pre-order. UK link, US link. The book is officially released on 19th Oct.
For some reason the cover art isn’t showing up yet on the Amazon page.
For some reason, the UK Amazon is offering the paperback of Wolf Unleashed for only £1.36. This is a massive discount. I don’t know why they’ve dropped the price so much, but if you wanted to buy a copy of the paperback, apparently now is the time.
I got some good news this week. A while ago, I sent the third book of the Shadows of Tomorrow trilogy off to the publisher. This week, I got a response and they have accepted it. I had hoped that they would, especially given that they published the first two books in that trilogy and even produced an audio book of Shadows of Tomorrow, but I still wasn’t sure. The contract I signed for the other books only gave them first rights of refusal on the book, not any sort of guarantee that they would publish it.
It would have been really awkward if they’d said no at this point, because finding a publisher for the third book in a trilogy that’s already had two books published would have been a real challenge. Anyone I approach would probably wonder why I wasn’t going with the publisher of the first two, so I’m really glad that I don’t have to be in that position.
We’re a long way from the book coming out, which I’m sure will upset one of my coworkers who has been asking for news about this book’s publication since about five minutes after she finished reading the second book. It takes a while for a book to go through the publishing process, with all the stages of editing that involves, but I will keep the blog updated as I get more news. Watch this space.
I finished the first draft of the next Codename Omega book a while ago and I took a break to give myself some distance, so that I could come back to the story with fresh eyes. The problem is that I’m now struggling to find the inspiration to pick it up again when there are other shiny, new stories I could be writing.
This is a problem I have, because I always find the first draft the most fun part of the writing experience, as it’s the part where I’m figuring out the story and see how it all works. A second draft is an essential part of the process, but it’s more about fixing things, and I know with this book that that’s a large chunk in the middle that will need strengthening in a serious way. It will either need to be given more emotional impact or trimmed down so that the section doesn’t last as long. Or both.
I’m hoping that by publicly admitting on my blog that I need to get on with the next draft will nudge me into doing just that. After all, the book will never be finished unless I sit down and work on it, and I do want it to be finished because I had a lot of fun with a shift in perspectives in this book, compared to the rest of the series. I want to see how other people react to this change.
But I can’t publish it for readers until I’ve finished the writing process.
So this is a message to myself: get on with draft two.