Monday, January 13, 2014

Submission Process

I'm getting to the point of jumping off a cliff... I mean, I'm going to be sending out stories and queries in 2014 so it seems fitting to dedicate a blog post to talk about the submission process.

Which means I can talk about the submission process. Yay!

After you have written the awesome story of amazingness and edited it to a shiny glean that rivals the sun, well then it's time to figure out where and how to submit the story. That is the fun part right? (I forget which part is considered the fun part at times...)

Finding Places
Time for some research. Internet has made it easier, or so I've heard. There are ways to search, google, and a few web sites dedicated to this endeavor that will come in handy. Check out the different publishers available and looked around their sites. Read some of the stories they have published. It helps to read more than a few because you want to see if what you write seems like a good fit for what the location looks for in stories. They also have the guidelines for that but seeing what already got the seal of approval will also help. Think they are right for you? Make note of that.

Read Guidelines
Yes, most have listed somewhere their guidelines. On this page is often some of the general things the publisher is looking for which includes genre, story lengths and even some little hints at what they either like or what will be a really hard sell to them. They also list exactly how to submit. Most have online submissions available through different formats (email or their own online form) but there are still a few that have a preference to the printed and mail out variety. Most also will list formatting tips, which is really helpful. Read them and then, maybe read them again just in case. We all make mistakes but it helps to try and put your best foot forward and really, having worked with a small publisher a little, it's amazing how many ignore guidelines. Don't let that be you.

Tracking Tools
These are great to have but like any tool have to make sure you use them as just that and don't obsess. I've only got one story out right now but must admit already within the last 10 days I have checked my email and the tracker site I'm using way too much.

Duotrope - This is what I think I first used a few years ago to find places to submit, back when the web site was free. But I never used the tracking aspect as I only sent out a couple things back then as that was all the way back in 2009. It still seems like a great site to use even though I don't have access to it at this point. Maybe someday I'll have the funds for such. It sure was a good search location for open publications to submit back then and I imagine there is much it offers now. (

The Grinder - I am using this site now. It's a search place for finding publications to submit and has the option to track submissions. I signed up and have tracked the one story that I've submitted twice so far this year. It's nice. I like the layout, being able to see the different reports on the main page and the graph on each publishers page. Seems a handy place to keep track of things and bonus for me (and those using it), the site is free. (

Excel - And I have my own excel sheet for submitting just to make sure I don't lose track where I have submitted, when and what responses I receive. I even have the ones from 2009 on it still. I got mostly form rejections and the one personal rejection that came with a note was from someone that gave comments to all submissions. But I have the information still, which is good. I currently have a page for places I'd like to submit where I mark down how many stories I submit to them. Then I have a page where I list my stories, where I want to submit, what date I submit to them, when I hear back and what the result is (form, personal, etc). Might need a second sheet for that once I get sending a lot more out but right now it's small. I try to list at least 3 places to submit per story but that will also increase in the foreseeable future. And I might need a new page when I get to the novel query submission process with agents and such involved.

But it's all exciting. And I'm a little more productive in other aspects so far this year too. I've gotten together a schedule for the week so I can work on short stories, novels and editing. It's working out even with my works schedule being a bit unreliable (people calling in sick and such). While I only have one story out so far, I have 4 that I'm getting ready and hope to have out by the end of the month. And I'm using a google doc excel thing someone else created (Thank You) to keep track of words written each day. 2014 is looking promising.

Have you submitted any stories recently?
Do you use any tools to track submissions?
If so, which do you prefer?

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Hanging a Lantern

You know something is not quite right, some fact is going to raise readers' eyebrows in question but at the same time, you want it in the novel. What do you do? One solution is to hang a lantern on it.

This is a topic that I heard on Writing Excuses. It was mentioned a few times, like in season 7 and a few others. I listened to a bunch on the long drives to Wyoming and Utah so the seasons blur after 10-20 hours of podcasts. But the point is, they are where I heard the term. Now what does it mean?

Hanging a Lantern
This is the act where a moment is in place in fiction/film/theater/etc where something could break the reader's willingness to suspend belief. There is something that doesn't seem accurate or believable but needs to be there anyways (or the creator wants it for any particular reason). Instead of doing it anyways and hoping for the best, this option means putting a light on it for a quick moment before moving on. Show the reader it is questionable, then move on from there.

Action scene where person does unbelievable tricks in order to survive, then looks back and asks how they managed to do that.

Shakespeare in a play mentioning that if something like that were to be done on a stage, the character would find it improbable.

Jeff Dunham in his act where he has the puppets point out what is required for them to talk and such. Or the Spanish scene where he doesn't "speak' the same language as them.

For more check out here:

What does this all mean for us?

Well, there are times when you don't want to lose the readers suspension of disbelief but there is that one element you want to keep. Instead of changing the story in order to make sure it all works on the right wave length, the option exists to hang a lantern on the issue. But there is probably a limit somewhere as to how much you can do in one story (pending genre and tone) unless you're writing Horror Movie 10.

I have one so far where I might use a lantern. It's a situation where a character really likes a type of movie but because of his past, he's sensitive to even things like fireworks going off. So, I struggled a bit with wanting to keep the character's medical/psychological issue in place but also not lose the way he meets the love interest. And in this case. It may just end up with him or someone pointing out that it's odd he likes those movies considering.  That is my lantern.

Okay this is one too, lol. A friend said the crane looked out of place but since it seemed fitting for this topic, I named the picture "Out of Place Crane". Nice lantern right? ;-)

What about you? 
Ever use a lantern (or lampshade) in a story?