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By Lyndsaye Ruda

Every writer has means for inspiration that leads to their bestsellers. J.R.R. Tolkien was influenced by Norse Mythology. I can’t really blame him; it’s a very interesting subject. And if you read anything by Robert A. Heinlein you’ll notice a feline theme sprung from an obvious love for cats. I can’t really blame him either. On the subject of cats, let me tell you a little bit about where I get some of my inspiration.

 I am a big fan of BBC, especially a show called Big Cat Diary hosted by Jonathan Scott and Simon King. The show takes place in the Masai Mara in Kenya and features a group of lions, cheetahs and leopards. When I was first introduced to this show I didn’t know much about cheetahs and I have since learned a lot. I have fallen in love with these creatures, so much so that I have become a member of the Cheetah Conservation Fund. They are an amazing organization and if you don’t know anything about them I suggest you look into it. But that’s also why I’m here. I take the stories of cheetahs and the reality of the hardship that is their existence: the fact that their survival rate is so low they have roughly 9 cubs per litter so that the chances of even one of them surviving is better, yet many cheetah mums that live to be 9 years old may only raise 2-4 cubs in their lifetimes; the fact that lions, leopards and hyenas kill these creatures as easily as you can snap a twig; and the fact that despite being the fastest animal in the world, these creatures lose 90% of their food between being unable to catch them, or other predators stealing the kills. And you thought cheetahs were ferocious man killers didn’t you? Truth is, they’re less hearty than an ant who can be crushed beneath your foot and you still wonder how you didn’t injure it.

So my inspirations come from these types of stories. I write about fact in ways that I hope will save someone or something from pain. I am in the process of creating children’s stories about cheetahs so that they grow up learning the truth about these beautiful, helpless animals. I also write about pet grief. I have been through the trauma of losing furbabies and it’s not easy. I have been lucky enough to learn from these experiences and want to share my knowledge to help others who may be going through the same heartbreak.

But my writing collection is larger than that. The poetry that I write is easier to explain as most of them speak for themselves. I can find ways to create more impact and lead into surprise endings in short stories written through poems. It gives me an opportunity to write about things that I am unable to put into a full story.

I also write romantic fiction. I’m not talking about Harlequin kinds of stories (well, not full stories anyway *laugh*), but the kind that evoke a more sentimental attachment. Currently I am working on a novel called Language Beyond Words. This story is about an American who travels to Australia and falls in love with a man she meets down there. But his ways are mysterious (aren’t these stories always like that?) and she learns a different kind of life. When something tragic back home in America happens she has to make some hard decisions about her future. I started this story over 7 years ago and it really began as a challenge to learn a new culture and write about something a little more emotional.

I also like tragedy, so it was a good chance to work on writing something that drew the reader out. To be honest, what started the story was running into a friend that I hadn’t seen for some time because he had been in Australia for a few months. When he came back it was so good to see him and he looked so different. He instantly inspired the main character in the story as well as the experience he had just returned home from. The rest of it came from sitting down and writing. Most of my work is really that simple.

I sit down, and I write. I love the feeling of pencil, or pen, on paper. I’m not as big a fan of typing stories out from scratch, I usually have to write them out first, and transfer them later onto the computer. I’ve been writing for so long and most of the stories I write don’t start off with a plan, just a desire to write. I have more story ideas than I have written, and ideas for future creations. I’m lucky to have gotten this far, and the fact that there are people out there that actually want to read what I have to write makes me feel even more blessed.

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As we continue on in our Valentine’s Day series, I will pick up from where Den left off with what makes or breaks a love story with my take on looove scenes.

First, a brief history of my own looove scene writing: during a grad class, I was given the exhilarating assignment to write not just a love scene, but a full on sexxx scene. The writing was to be confined to roughly 300 words, most importantly, it was to be taken seriously. Furthermore, we had one week to complete it and on that day we were to read them aloud! Those British and their sense of humor, man.

After overcoming the fear of reading something as personal as a sex scene aloud to a group of relative strangers, I discovered that a well-written love scene could do wonders to a story. Now I include love scenes in all of my writing! Outing at the zoo? Love scene. Political rally? Love scene. Dinner with boss? Love scene. (I’m lying.)

But while it’s easy to write a love scene, the difficulty comes in writing a good love scene. This, on the other hand, requires a balance of subtlety (but not too subtle!) and openness (but not too open!) and please, for all of our sake, free from metaphor. (I can only read one line of “her eyes were constellations” before putting the book down.) So, after writing and reading more love scenes, I have decided to browse my book collection to give you a brief list of what I find to be the things that work and don’t work. Here we go:

First, the good.

Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies (1930)

Key passage:

Adam undressed very quickly and got into bed; Nina more slowly arranged her clothes on the chair and fingering the ornaments on the chimney-piece with less than her usual self-possession. At last she put out the light.

            “Do you know,” she said, trembling slightly as she got into bed, “this is the first time this has happened to me?”

            “It’s great fun,” said Adam, “I promise you.”

            […]

            “Anyway, you’ve had some fun out of it, haven’t you… or haven’t you?” [said Adam]

            “Haven’t you?”

            “My dear, I never hated anything so much in my life… still, as long as you enjoyed it that’s something.”

Why it’s so good: Manages to show the typically hormone-driven anticipation of Adam in complete juxtaposition to the pure ennui Nina is feeling in preparation for the task. Furthermore, it’s compounded by her no-holds-bar admission that the entire act was repugnant. It is real and comical and perfect.

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)

Key passage:

There is something demoralizing about watching two people get more and more crazy about each other, especially when you are the only extra person in the room. […] I noticed, in the routine way you notice the color of somebody’s eyes, that Doreen’s breasts had popped out of her dress and were swinging out slightly like full brown melons as she circled belly-down on Lenny’s shoulder, thrashing her legs in the air and screeching, and then they both started to laugh and slow up, and Lenny was trying to bite Doreen’s hip through her skirt when I let myself out of the door before anything more could happen […]

Why it’s so good: The pure grit of a falsified, alcohol-induced potential lovemaking (or love flailing, for that matter) through the eyes of the observer, who happens to be the only observer. Oh, can you feel the awkwardness?

Jonathan Franzen, Freedom (2010)

Key passage: (Eh, this one’s a bit more explicit. Children, cover your eyes!)

[Patty is married to Walter but finds herself helplessly in love with his best friend, Richard]

Her new plan called for her to try very hard to forget the night before and pretend it hadn’t happened.

            One thing the new plan can safely be said not to have included was leaving lunch half-eaten on the table and then finding her jeans on the floor and the crotch of her bathing suit wedged painfully to one side while he banged her into ecstasy against the innocently papered wall of Dorothy’s old living room, in full daylight and as wide awake as a human could be. […] This seemed to her, in any case, the first time in her life she’d properly had sex. A real eye-opener, as it were. She was henceforth done for, though it took some time to know this.

Why it’s so good: I’m a huge fan of some real, honest to goodness writing. Anywhere an author can say “banged her into ecstasy” instead of some evasive, wishy-washy, did-they-or-didn’t-they metaphor makes for much, much better writing in my book.

Jennifer Egan, A Visit From The Goon Squad (2010)

Key passage:

Afterward, they lay on the rug for a long time. The candles started to sputter. Sasha saw the prickly shape of the bonsai silhouetted against the window near her head. All her excitement had seeped way, leaving behind a terrible sadness, an emptiness that felt violent, as if she’d been gouged. She tottered to her feet, hoping Alex would leave soon. He still had his shirt on.

Why it’s so good: Oooh, the sting of the devastating after-ness of it all. Egan is amazing at her characterizations, and this passage is a perfect example. The reader can feel the emotion of Sasha, can be enveloped in the banality of her experience. Furthermore, ending the section on “He still had his shirt on” is, to me, the only way to end. How casual! How blatantly unromantic! How true-to-life depressing!

Now, the bad.

It should be noted that while I’ve read the following books, I have since given them away (I like to donate books that I know I will never in my lifetime read again), so I’m doing this on memory.

Ernest Hemingway, For Whom The Bell Tolls (1940)

Why it sucks: My experience with this book was that on the whole I didn’t dig it, but the love scenes were particularly bad. They followed the rules of precisely the things I don’t like: most particularly, evasiveness. JUST GET TO THE POINT. The passage that sticks out in my mind the most is this moment when Robert Jordan and the young fling, Maria, find themselves in a sleeping bag outside of the cave/compound/thing. They are freezing (because it’s snowing, and they are lying in it) so Robert Jordan gets this girl to snuggle with him (probably nakey), thought nothing is really said of what they are doing, more or less implied. This is even more frustrating because of Robert Jordan’s incessant gloating of his sexual prowess throughout most of the initial pages (initial being the first 300 pages; this is Hemingway, after all). Points for getting the girl into your sleeping bag in a snowstorm instead of the much dryer, much more practical cave, Robert Jordan, you devil.

How it can be improved: Less dancey-dance, more to the point. Just tell us what’s going on. We’re all adults here.

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre (1847)

(I know I’ll get some shit for this, let me say that I didn’t hate the novel, and I see where the feminist principles in it lie and yes it was ahead of its time etc., etc.)

Why it sucks: The scene I recall for this purpose is directly after Mr. Rochester throws himself into a state of marriage proposal to Jane, despite having just told her of his betrothed status to a one Blache Ingram. My issue is the language used in the scene and directly after, where while we as the reader are sure that nothing actually happens between the two, Brontë uses language as a tool for seduction. I would find this more effective if the obvious thing actually had occurred. Observe the following key lines as examples. Emphasis made on the most euphemistic. They are all taken from the same scene:

“Come to me—come to me entirely now,” said he; and added, in his deepest tone, speaking in my ear as his cheek was laid on mine, “Make my happiness—I will make yours.”

And if I had loved him less I should have thought his accent and look of exultation savage; but, sitting by him, roused from the nightmare of parting— called to the paradise of union—I thought only of the bliss given me to drink in so abundant a flow. Again and again he said, “Are you happy, Jane?” And again and again I answered, “Yes.”

But what had befallen the night? The moon was not yet set, and we were all inshadow: I could scarcely see my master’s face, near as I was. And what ailed the chestnut tree? It writhed and groaned; while wind roared in the laurel walk, and came sweeping over us.

“Hasten to take off your wet things,” said he; “and before you go, good-night—good-night, my darling!”

Mr. Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it, to ask if I was safe and tranquil: and that was comfort, that was strength for anything.

How it can be improved: Either tantalize me with words and have some sort of actual love scene, or don’t do it at all. Plus, it’s borderline metaphorical / symbolic. How you lead me on, Ms. Brontë!

Stephanie Meyer, Twilight: Breaking Dawn (2008)

Why it sucks: My frustration with this has nothing to do with Bella falling for a vampire (I encourage dating outside of one’s race!) and everything to do with Meyer’s frustrating insistence that Bella and Edward mustn’t have “relations” before they’re married, so much so that when it finally does happen, the author uses blatant agenda pushing themes at how beyond wonderful the whole thing is.

How it can be improved: Make it a bit more realistic? If the two are going to wait until marriage, fine, but at least let’s discuss the overall awkwardness and their more than likely incompatible sexual chemistry, instead of impossibly over-the-top metaphors. I realize this is a vampire story, but sex is still sex.

Every Romance Novel Ever Created

Why it sucks: This goes without saying based on what I’ve already mentioned I hate about bad love scenes. Metaphorical? Check. Symbolism? Check. Fabio-type of man dressed as a Native American set to pose as the sex symbol meant to get our loins warm? Check, check, check, and check.

How it can be improved: I offer no reasonable suggestion. People love this stuff.

If you’ve stuck with me until the end of this, I thank you. My opinions are in no way concrete facts nor should they be the way you choose to write your own love scenes. If you agree with me, however, you’re a gem.

Alisha, a.k.a. HettieJones, is a writer living in Philadelphia, PA. Look for her short story, “The Letter,” in the upcoming Anthology Philly. You can follow her @alishakathryn. All reasons as to why she was wrong in the above post can be left below in the comment section.

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The Greatest Love

Story Ever Told

(in My Opinion)

by Dennis Finocchiaro

Love stories come and go. Most anyone can say they cried reading The Notebook. And let’s face it, The Princess Bride is probably the actual greatest love story ever told, or we can at least agree to disagree. But whenever I think of true love, I think of a small segment of my favorite book of all time, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Of course, these days, everyone has heard of the book because it’s now a movie, or they’re just finding out the movie is based on a book as they read these words. Surprise! (This surprise is only for the misinformed, and I doubt that includes people who end up on this blog). But no, while this book is about the love between a mother and son and in no way romantic, a story within the story is the absolute purest form of love ever created.

I am writing about, of course, the fairy tale Oscar’s dad tells him, of The Sixth Borough.

In this tale, there was once a sixth borough of New York, an island that nobody remembers. Every year they had a big party, the climax being when a man famous for jumping would jump the small amount of water between NYC and this sixth borough. Once year, he finds he can’t make it across. And the next, he jumps and lands in deeper water. At first, the people think the logical: the jumped is getting old. But he insists he has not lost any of his jump (haha) and so they measure the distance only to find that the island is moving away from New York City.

And, of course, this doesn’t sound romantic at all, does it? The story continues past this celebration to two children, a boy and a girl, who are in love. The boy lives in the sixth borough and the girl across the small amount of water. They chat through cups on a string, which of course is absolutely adorable in and of itself. But as the island escapes the mainland, they have to keep adding to the line.

The string from his yo-yo.

The pull from her talking baby doll.

The list goes on. The two kids slowly destroy everything they love just so that they continue talking until, one day, they realize it’s going to end. The boy asks the girl to say “I love you” into her can and captures the words on his end, sealing the cup and placing it on a shelf so that, to this day, as the sixth borough has ended up in Antartica, “On a frozen shelf, in a closet frozen shut, is a can with a voice inside it.”

Why do I think this is the greatest love story of all time? Maybe I don’t, maybe I just absolutely adore it and couldn’t think of another story that gave me the same feeling as this one. But whenever I think of the sixth borough, I get chills. I even went to NYC once and took pictures that reminded me of the tale. Jonathan Safran Foer told a hell of a story in ELIC, but he also made up this fairy tale that made me fall in love with New York and the romantic side of the city. The purity of the love between these two children is described with the diction of a master, and hell, maybe I just have a soft spot for fairy tales.

But then again, there’s always those terrible moments in novels, and let’s face it, not everyone can write a good love story. Vonnegut, for instance, is without a doubt one of my favorite writers. But his stories tended to sway from romance, which was smart. He knew his genre and what worked with his stories; but one of his greatest unrecognized traits was that he avoided what he knew didn’t work. Brilliant. But not everyone is as intelligent as that; ask anyone who reads the Twilight books.

They are my example of romance that doesn’t work for me. And trust me, it’s not the teen angst aspect of the story, I eat that shit up when it’s well-written. But those books were just plain terrible. I know it’s become cliché to make fun of them, but the writing isn’t even any good. Many people ask me how I can love Harry Potter but hate Twilight, and that’s so simple: it’s the writing. J.K. Rowling is one hell of a writer. Her imagery creates moments in my mind out of things that are purely fiction. Like I know what a thestral is, right? But her words describe it and I imagine it. That’s what’s missing from all of the scenes, not just the love scenes, in the Twilight saga.

I can willingly admit I am a fan of a romantic novel. Nick Hornby has written a few that I love. Caprice Crane has, too. But they are artists, working words into stories that grab the reader and pull them in. Twilight just didn’t do that for me. I could never understand Bella’s love for a vampire, nor could I see the attraction. And trust me, I’ve even admittedly read books like The Notebook and A Walk to Remember (would anyone believe me if I claimed they were read for a class?), and as embarrassing as it is, I will admit that I fell in love with the characters. Jamie Sullivan from the latter was written with such a love of life and a purity that I couldn’t help but adore her.

That’s what was missing with Bella Swan and her boys. There was no real reason to care about them, to connect with them or to even want Bella to clearly be with either Jacob or Edward. Readers chose a side with no real reason. Or because they thought one actor was cuter than the other.

So there you have it; I admit, I enjoy a nice, mushy, well-written love story sometimes, but it has to have some literary merit. Is there anything wrong with that?

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Why I Love My Typewriter

Wragsthinks blogger Dennis Finocchiaro will be discussing his love of typewriters and why he thinks they’re making a resurgence. Here’s a little teaser video, a special news piece that ran on CBS last Sunday.

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By Sara Martin

Today, I’m riffing on a post that Angela Marchesani wrote last week about “Writing In the Zone.” She captured some of my favorite tips for harnessing creativity, so I’m going to give you some guidelines for applying these in your own work.

One of Angela’s tricks is “faux blogging,” or what she calls flogging. While the creative process does often feel unrelenting and brutal, flogging in this context is purely figurative. It’s like blogging, but to an audience of one: yourself.

So what’s the difference between flogging and journaling? Structure. Successful blogs have an overarching purpose. Consistency attracts readers. It can show up in subject matter, narrative voice, posting frequency or length, but readers are drawn to blogs that regularly deliver.

My number one tip for flogging is to develop some themes.When you’re writing for yourself, establishing consistency attracts a valuable resource: ideas. I have over 40 flogs, each dedicated to its own topic. Some are simple lists, others are written in paragraphs, others are more stream of consciousness. I’ve discovered the more homes you provide for different ideas, the more they come to visit (it’s an “if you build it, they will come” phenomenon).

For example, one of my flogs is called “Isness.” I started this one after reading a book about mindfulness. The author advised pausing a few times a day to accept your life exactly as it is. Whenever I see that document on my list, it reminds me to be patient when my day isn’t happening like I think it should. Just seeing the name Isness encourages me to take a minute and write along that theme. I probably contribute new entries to 3-4 flogs every day. Reviewing my list conjures new ideas throughout the week.

This might sound overwhelming, but I’ve slowly built my flog collection over the last two or three years. And I consistently combine similar flogs or prune the ones I no longer find inspiring. I’m a big fan of Google Docs for organizing. Each flog is its own document, accessible easily from “the cloud,” which I imagine is a large warehouse somewhere outside Silicon Valley. Google Docs is as convenient as email, so it’s a regular part of my routine.

Having themes improves your personal writing in three ways:

1. It sparks new ideas. As I mentioned above, a list of themes has the effect of motivating your brain to write from different perspectives.

2. It makes you prolific. The more themes I have, the more I write. It’s like having a big closet — you tend to fill the space you’re given.

3. Your writing is easier to navigate.The structure provided by themes helps you remember what you’ve written in the past and find old ideas. Many of my ideas take months or years to germinate. When I finally decide to use them in a published work, it helps to compare notes from early passages.

I’m sure my approach to flogging is different than Angela’s, as every writer uses tools in their own way. But before her post, I’d never drawn the comparison between my private writing and blogging.

My flogs have been very useful over the years. I credit them for curing writer’s block on many occasions. It’s been illuminating to step back and examine why they work so well. Flogging is a way to make room for new ideas. Build some themes they will come.

Sara Martin is an artist and writer based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Her blog provides a weekly dose of artistic wisdom and creativity how-to. Learn to maximize your creative life at modernsentiment.com/blog. She can be followed on Twitter @sara_c_martin

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or My Method on Being Published: Slow Drinking & Fast Women

By T. Fox Dunham

Dennis requested that I write an article about my success as an author, in support of our upcoming anthology. I am the author of the story, The Realm of Ever Dusk and Dawn, and I’m proud to be a part of this anthology with Philadelphia’s best authors.

In the previous fifteen months, over seventy of my short stories have been accepted for publication in international magazines, journals and anthologies in print, online and eBook form. One of the reasons for my success is that I adhere to professional protocol when submitting my manuscripts. Below, I share these techniques.

Alas, the sad truth is that the majority of editors do not read manuscripts to accept – they read to reject. Now don’t blame them. For many editors, this noble, literary pursuit to provide a forum for writing is a labor of love and not profit. Most editors must work a day job and have limited time to spend on the maintenance of a journal. This is why it’s even more important that authors respect and honor editors for their sacrifice and not waste their time and energy.

The larger the submission pile and the later the hour, the more critical the editor often becomes in removing work from his or her reading queue. However, there are still editors that maintain their patience, and I admire them for it. A journal that receives a couple hundred submissions a month means that there is less time and energy to review each submission; thus editors will often be quicker to reject. This is complicated when you have a review committee and a process that requires confirmation on the first steps towards entering those golden gates of acceptance. So, the more desirable the market because of pay rates and circulation, the more precise the author needs to be with respecting the individual guidelines and general market protocol.

An editor’s patience is further diminished by authors who don’t respect the guidelines, and the more popular the market, the more bad manuscripts they receive. On a bad day, an editor or reader can reject on the first transgression, even if it’s an innocent mistake. There’s an old term: The First Shall be the Last.

If you follow these suggestions, you will demonstrate that you are a professional author and you respect the market. That is the best way to be published. Because of too many inconsiderate submissions, markets are beginning a trend in declining simultaneous submissions and even charging reading fees to keep up with the overflow of work. This makes it harder on the rest of us. With the new industry trend for online submissions, it’s even easier for inconsiderate authors to just carpet bomb every journal or anthology listed under Horror on Duotrope, without respect or consideration for the market’s guidelines or editorial needs. By doing this, authors are just building a bad reputation for themselves and making it harder on the rest of us. I’ve seen markets shut down because of frustrated editors who deserve better. Rampant head noogies to anyone guilty of this unprofessional practice.

First and foremost, if you act professionally, follow standard and individual protocol for submissions and treat the market with respect, you will be seen and treated as a professional. This is the most important axiom an author can follow to be successfully published.

Read market’s previous publications to get an idea of their individual, editorial needs. This is the most important guideline for marketing and submitting. Beyond naming their intended genre and sub-genre, editors have a specific voice for their publication. This voice can only be found through actually reading the market. Now, I know it can get expensive to buy sample copies or subscriptions for every market, but try to read it best as you can. Often, markets will place sample work online for you to read or offer writer’s copies at a cheaper price.

Make sure your manuscript is formatted to the individual guidelines of the market. Every market has a set of listed guidelines. Most often they’re basically the same, based on standard manuscript format: 12pt serif font, double spaced, etc. Examples of the standard manuscript can be found online. However, there are often variations based on the needs and taste of the editors. Online markets may request variations, such as no indents and to apply hard returns between paragraphs. Study the guideline’s page on the website or in the print magazine to comply with all specified formatting. Double-check to make sure you’ve covered all points. Also, it is important to follow the particular methods for setting words in italics, bold or other effects in the text. Some markets have no issue, and you can set the text effect normally; other markets may request you underline words you wish to italicize or use some other means to set off the word. Not all markets use the same word processing software, so follow their instructions.

Here is a link to a guide for general industry format of a short story submission.

Be clear and brief in your cover letters. If possible, address the letter to the appropriate editor or editors, which can usually be found on the website under Masthead. List the title, word count and any other required information in the first paragraph. Write any additional information below that paragraph and keep it brief. Don’t summarize your story or try to sell it through your cover letter. Let your story speak for itself. List your previous publications and a brief bio, along with your required contact information. You’d be amazed at how many manuscripts are submitted without the proper contact information, not even a real name or address. If you’re using a byline, list it, but use your real name for all contact information. I sometimes will list my editorial decision for sending a particular story, based on stories I read while researching the market. This shows that you have respected the market. Editors often pass out cookies for that and sigh in relief.

Proof read your manuscript several times before submitting. It also helps to have friends proof read also. I am fortunate to have a few special ladies who read all my manuscripts for errors. They are vital to my work, as my proofing often suffers because of my fatigue from my cancer treatment. After a few proofs, read the story from the last paragraph up, thus preventing you from getting sucked into the story’s narrative where you glance over mistakes because your mind assumes what’s supposed to be there. Read aloud also, so you can hear how the story flows. You’re probably not going to find all your errors, but try to get most of them. An editor can quickly spot a manuscript that has not been proof read, and that shows a lack of consideration for their time. Some will have the patience to keep reading, but I wouldn’t count on it.

Submit through the appropriate medium listed on the website. Editors vary in their protocols for submissions. Most have online submission systems where you can upload a file then copy in a cover letter. Others ask for an email submission with the manuscript attached as a specific file type—doc, rtf—to the email. Or they ask that you copy the story into the email below the cover letter. The best way to be instantly rejected is to disregard the market’s individual submission protocol. Again, not all markets use the same publishing software, so it is important that you save the manuscript as the requested file type or copy it as per the system provided.

And now, the stomach clenching part. Patience. Once a submission is out, it’s time to wait. This is where my time fishing with my grandfather as a boy and my work in the herb gardens has provided me valuable training. Certain markets, especially annual or popular forums, can take up to over a year to respond. You may begin to worry that your submission was not received; fortunately, editors are polite enough to send a confirmation email. Online submission systems will often keep you informed as to the status of your manuscript. Be patient. Markets often list their estimated read and selection time. Once that time is up, it is appropriate for the author to send a query to the status of the manuscript. Whatever the time is, I usually add a third. So if they say three months for a response, I’ll often add one more month to the time then possibly query. With online networks such as Duotrope, you can review if your market has had any activity in responding to manuscripts, which is why more authors need to record their responses, even if they’re rejections. It helps us all.

Most markets allow you simultaneous submissions to help with long wait times. Always make sure to check if simultaneous submissions are allowed and if you need to list it as such in your cover letter. Recording your submissions through Duotrope will also notify you if the market does not accept simultaneous submissions. Try not to do more than three.

I know these seem pragmatic and straight forward, but you’d be amazed at how many authors ignore this protocol. Reputation in the writing industry goes first before a submission. In the online age, word of perfidy and lack of professionalism can spread quickly, thus blacklisting you. Following these steps shows respect and consideration to editors, who often volunteer their labor for a love of writing. They provide a forum where new authors can build their careers. If you act like a professional, you will be perceived as a professional. You will be published.

T. Fox Dunham resides outside of Philadelphia PA. He’s published in over sixty international journals and anthologies and was a finalist in the Copper Nickel Annual Short Story Contest for his story, The Lady Comes in the Night. He’s a cancer survivor. He is currently finishing his first novel, The Adam & Eve Experiment. His friends call him fox, being his totem animal, and his motto is: Wrecking civilization one story at a time. http://www.facebook.com/tfoxdunham

Also, check out Anthology Philly, which has one of T. Fox Dunham’s stories.

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Check out this cool video about some writer’s quirks. What are the odd things you do while writing? Tell us as a comment.

 

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