Post #29 – Do I or Don’t I?

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7/12/18

The 2018 Golden Nib contest of the Virginia Writers Club is upon us. Chapter level entries were due by June 30. The winners from each chapter are judged and sent on to the state level by August 13, with the winners announced at the annual meeting in November.

As mentioned in Post #8, I question the rationale for submitting to this contest. On the one hand, there is the chance of being dubbed an “award winning author.” On the other hand, winning means I can’t submit that story to another market, unless the market accepts reprints, because the Virginia Writers Club asks for first publication rights. The problem is the Club hasn’t published the winning stories in years, not even as a PDF on the Club’s website.

One of the reasons I joined the Club last year when I did was to submit to this contest. I feel I’ve gained so much more by joining the Club while the contest has diminished in importance. I’m reluctant to give up first publication rights when there is no guarantee of publication.

When I addressed this issue previously, I noted becoming an award winning author doesn’t get me closer to my goal of being a member of the SFWA. If that truly is my goal, then other possible accolades are irrelevant.

An additional factor to weigh when submitting is the story length. The limit for the Golden Nib contest is 3500 words. That’s fairly short for the stories I write. One thought I had was to write the story I mentioned in Post #22 that fit a specific call for submissions, the deadline for which was the end of June. If I could have hammered that out in June, I expected it to be 3500 or less. That story likely is too specific to the call for submissions to submit to other markets. While I had the story idea, unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to write it. I focused on my novella instead.

The contest has three categories: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. A Club member may submit one work in each. So what did I do?

First, I submitted a poem. It’s the only poem I’ve written since high school, and I’ve never submitted it anywhere.

Next, I submitted a nonfiction piece, again, my only one to this point. I’ve submitted this piece a couple of times and received the corresponding rejections. It’s currently out at a market that accepts simultaneous submission, so I decided to submit it to the contest as well. If it’s selected by either venue, I’ll withdraw from the other.

What about the fiction category? I decided not to submit. The choice was made easy for two reasons. I either didn’t have a story short enough to fit, or for those that were short enough, they currently are under consideration at markets that do not accept simultaneous submission. As I mentioned in Post #24, read and reread the submission guidelines.

Let me know in the comments if you think I should have tried harder to submit a fiction piece (i.e. write a specific story for the contest), publication rights be damned.

Photo credit: qimono via Pixabay

Post #28 – 2Q18 Update

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7/5/18

Unlike last quarter, I always intended this quarterly recap post to have a positive tone. That’s attributable to my having made my first paid sale! Details are below, but first here are my numbers for the second quarter of 2018.

Words written = 9550

Submissions = 43

Rejections = 40

Acceptances = 1!

I already updated the Publications page of this site, but I never officially announced my first sale from last quarter. My middle grade story “Cramping Your Style” will appear in the Fall 2018 issue of Stinkwaves Magazine. This is a non-paying market, but it now holds a special place for me as my first ever acceptance.

As for this quarter’s paid acceptance, my story “Temporally Out of Service” will appear in the January 2019 issue of Broadswords and Blasters. This also is a semi-pro market.

Regardless, I am ecstatic these stories found a home. “Temporally Out of Service” was the first story I ever started writing, though the second story I ever finished. After several rejections, I revised it to account for the many things I’d learned about writing in the interim. I think those changes made it a better story and lead to its acceptance at Broadswords and Blasters.

“Cramping Your Style” was the first middle grade story I attempted. The idea came to me one early morning while on a run, which is when I do a lot of the plotting for my stories.

Now that I’ve patted myself on the back, I should talk about my other numbers for the quarter. I didn’t have quite as productive a quarter based on word count. My goal still was 12,500 words to remain on pace to write 50,000 words for the year. Luckily, since I exceeded my goal in the first quarter, I’m still ahead overall for the first half of the year at 26,950 words.

The submissions and rejections were about twice that of last quarter. The market’s I submitted to had fast response times, and I had three new stories in circulation.

At the same time, I stopped submitting four stories. One, obviously, because it was accepted. The other three are tied together, so much so I plan to combine them into one novella. Tor has a call for 20,000-40,000 word novellas starting at the end of this month. My three stories combined originally equaled only about 11,000 words. However, the third of the trilogy was a 1000 flash fiction piece, my first ever one of those. The feedback from my beta readers on that one was the idea was good, but it was all exposition. They weren’t wrong, so I decided to expand that piece into a fully developed story in hopes of reaching the 20,000 word minimum.

That’s where the majority of my words this quarter wound up. Indeed, 7500 words went to that story whereas the rest were spread across two flash fiction pieces and one nonfiction (essay) piece. I didn’t start writing those 7500 words until Memorial Day weekend, but I got them out over the next month. I’ll try to stop back loading my quarters to take the pressure off.

For this coming quarter, I’m debating how to proceed. I have a story idea that met a call for submission, but that call ended June 30. The story is based on one of the flash fiction pieces I began submitting this past quarter. Do I still write it and see if another market will take it?

The other short story idea I have is one I’d like to collaborate on with one of my beta readers. I plan to take the first stab at it but haven’t started. I think that’s what I’ll attempt next.

Then, if I don’t get distracted by one or more calls for submissions, I think I’ll turn back to children’s manuscripts. It’s been awhile since I wrote one of those, and the ideas are piling up.

And, of course, I need to edit the story for Tor and send it to my beta readers. That story stands at 18,500 words currently. I’m hoping during the first edit I can eat up most of the remaining 1,500 words needed to get to Tor’s minimum.

A big thanks to all my followers who are along with me on this journey. My first paid sale is a huge milestone. Next up is my first professional sale. Hopefully, that’s sooner rather than later.

Photo credit: geralt via Pixabay