Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective

Have you ever had a story that you know has potential, but try as you might you just can’t get it accepted?

I’ve been pitching one of my short stories, a Lovecraftian sci-fi piece, to various editors since I wrote it in 2008. Among the form rejections there were a few personalised responses, where the editor was kind enough to tell me why my story didn’t make the cut. Each time, I thanked them and took the story back and reworked it, all along convinced that my story idea was solid, and if I could just get the right angle, I would have a winner. Persistence paid off, and as the months went by the rejections were more and more favourable. Finally, my story made one magazine’s short list. I was on cloud nine.

But, as P.G. Wodehouse wrote in Very Good, Jeeves, “Fate was quietly slipping the lead into the boxing-glove”. A few weeks later the editor informed me that the magazine was ceasing publication. I was frustrated, but saw it as an opportunity to pull the story back and take another good look at it. However, it had already gone through nine significant edits, and I felt I was too close to the story to see what might be done to make it more marketable. I needed a fresh set of eyes.

Fortunately, I had recently joined a local writing group, so I submitted my story to them. We met last night, and I got four fresh perspectives on my story – what works, and what doesn’t. Their advice and reactions were very insightful, and they have given me ideas that I probably would never have considered – like trimming the story still further into a flash fiction piece, which might suit the single theme a bit better. Some of them even wanted to see it again. This experience renewed my enthusiasm, which is probably what I needed most of all.

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Something else to chew on…

Work continues, and now I’ve added another project: A new roleplaying module to be run at Cangames, the local gaming convention. I run a game every year, and writing a module has almost become a ritual for me. The added benefit is that not only can I playtest the adventure, I also come out of it with a product that I can show to publishers. The story I’m developing has a fair number of twists and turns, and I’m not at all sure that I’ll be able to run an uncut version in my allotted four hour slot, but I’ll try.

In the meantime, I thought I would post the cover and link to a module I wrote several years ago. It was good fun, and I hope you enjoy it!

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Switching Gears

Progress on the novel continues, but I’m in a bit of a slow patch at the moment. To keep myself occupied, I’m returning to some short stories I wrote some time ago, and revising them for submission to some new publishers I’ve heard about. As a matter of practice, I try to have at least two pieces of work under consideration somewhere at any given time. This keeps me motivated because I’m always in a bit of a state of anticipation, but it also gives me a sense of efficacy because my work isn’t collecting metaphorical dust on my memory stick.

I like to think that this sort of gear-switching helps all of my work, because I’m always thinking about something I’ve written, and ideas I have for one piece can always be used for something else if they don’t quite fit. A rising tide lifts all boats, sort of thing.

I’m still moving forward, just at a different pace.

Just a Little Teaser…

Last year I submitted a roleplaying game module (that’s an interactive story for readers out there who haven’t tried roleplaying games before) to a nice company called Expeditious Retreat Press. They were nice enough to buy my work, and within a few weeks it will finally be available in electronic and print format.

This is very exciting for me, as I’ve been an avid roleplayer for more than 25 years, and I’ve always dreamed of getting published in that industry. The module cover was recently posted on their blog – I thought I would share it here:

Very exciting times!