The home page for author Eric J. Juneau

Asimov’s Now Accepts Electronic Submissions

Asimov’s, the premiere science fiction magazine, is now accepting electronic submissions. One of the big three down, two to go (Analog, and F&SF).

Oh boy, Asimov’s, I hope you know what you’re getting into. If you thought you got slush before… wait’ll they get a load of me.

“Submit her?  I am going to destrooooy her.”

The Final Word on The Shine Journal

I sent my last blog entry to said editor of The Shine Journal. As you could read, it wasn’t an apology, it wasn’t a redaction. It was a re-evaluation. I don’t know what I was expecting for a response, if I was expecting one at all, but I would have liked it to be a bit more magnanimous than it was. Her tone was extremely defensive and proud. Maybe it’s all the Lamebook I’ve been reading, but it feels like adolescent behavior–can’t leave an issue alone, attacks all forms of disparagement, always has to have the last word, uses too many exclamation points

The first thing she said was that she doesn’t send any contract information because it’s already there on the website to read. So the onus is on me to find all this stuff? You can’t remind the reader? You can’t even include a link to where this info is? Aren’t you the one who’s supposed to be paying me? Is it the employee’s job to find out how he’s going to get paid? Or is it the employer’s job to indicate how he will be paid? I know which job sounds better.

I don’t get what I said that was so insulting. The Shine Journal was plenty big for me… until a bigger magazine came along. Surely these people don’t believe they’re the biggest fish in the pond. They might act like you are, but if you have a simultaneous submissions policy, you have to expect this sort of thing to happen. And I might note that the big fish all have contracts. Does she know that not having contracts is not the norm? That not having contracts is kind of dangerous? That the whole point of contracts is to protect both the author and editor legally? And she said “I won’t help you out-read for yourself”. What does that even mean?

Before I regretted my words and the result they brought. Now I really don’t care if I’m blacklisted. This is not the sort of people I want to work with. And further justifies the decision I made. I have no regrets about putting The Shine Journal on my ignore list. I’m done with this immature back and forth. And that’s my final word on the subject.

Aftermath With The Shine Journal

I may have made a mistake. A big one. Maybe.

This refers to the last post I made where I compared “The Shine Journal” and “Sorcerous Signals”. First, I want to say why I said what I said. To me, the name of the name game is to get published. To get published you have to get noticed. You get noticed by getting into the big magazines. To get into the big magazines, you get into the small ones first. At least that’s my battle plan. The purpose of this blog is to track my progress and leave an account of what I did or how I did it. However, in doing so, I may have seriously sabotaged my ambitions. I made… a ‘boo-boo’.

What I wrote about “The Shine Journal” offended someone at… “The Shine Journal”. The editor wrote back to me, cited some lines I had written that described said magazine as being unprofessional. She told me that I should not judge the credibility of a magazine based on how it responds to acceptances, and should have been grateful for the acceptance. She said that “The Shine Journal” has been online three years, won awards, and was putting together a “best of” anthology. She said she does not send out contracts because she does not want to waste paper. She closed by saying that I was blacklisted from ever submitting to “The Shine Journal” again.

Of course, I never expected said person to come to this site. I always wrote this blog as if no one was reading. And unless I’ve got my Google Analytics set up wrong, no one is. The site got only 26 visits last month. Total. And yet, this one entry found its way to the editor of “The Shine Journal”. If I had published it a day later, maybe she never would have seen it. But it doesn’t matter.

What I’m saying is–everything you write on the Internet is there for everyone to see. You must expect that everyone is reading it. And thus, you must be careful of what you say. Visit Lamebook for some real life examples. A writer’s tool is his words and words can hurt. Perhaps using the word “legit” was incorrect. I did not mean to imply that “The Shine Journal” was a scam site. I’m sure it is not.

But words tell the truth, and I, as a fiction writer, have a duty to tell the truth. I never sought to besmirch “The Shine Journal”. What I did was I make an opinion. I had to make a judgement call and I called it like I saw it. That “The Shine Journal” would read such an entry, not to mention take action on it, never entered my mind. And it shouldn’t.

I thought a lot about it, whether or not I should reconsider what I post, my blogging style, in case someone doesn’t what I have to say. Someone with power. But that would be a policy based on fear, not on knowledge. I don’t believe I did anything wrong. I told the truth. I thought the way “The Shine Journal” handled my acceptance was not as professional as “Sorcerous Signals” did. I did not feel that they regarded me as an author, just as a contributor. I did not receive any form of contract or instruction on how I would be paid.

Think about it. If you have two job offers for the same position–one sends you a nice e-mail welcoming you to the company, here’s the company website, here’s a copy of our application policy, here’s a map of the campus, you go here to sign in, there’ll be a 2 hour tutorial before you meet your boss–and another e-mail that just says “you’re hired, see you on Thursday”. Which one sounds like the better job?

So I stand by what I said, although I’ve recast it here. You can disagree with it. You can take action on it. But you cannot and will not affect what I have to say. I find it ironic that the editor of a literary journal couldn’t handle criticism. I believe I made the right decision, both in which magazine to go with, and how I conduct myself on my blog. I can’t let the potential opposition stop me from saying what I want, as long as I’m honest and composed.

So what have we learned? Am I going to stop talking about my experiences with magazines and how they make me feel? Well… I don’t know. I’m definitely going to think more carefully about how I word my criticism, not just for the sake of my own career, but because word selection is an important skill in a writer, and should not be taken lightly.

Midwest Literary Magazine Is Helpful

While I was busy helping my wife poop out a tax deduction, I garnered a few rejections in the e-mail box, natch. One of those came from the Midwest Literary Magazine for Vampire Family Story. They gave me one of the most complete personal rejections I’ve ever received. He told me what he liked and didn’t like. AND he gave me a recommendation on where next to send it to.

This is a good sign. The more personal the rejections get, the closer you are to being thought about by an editor for selected. Plus a recommendation is already a +5 to acceptance. The hard part is trimming the story. When I was done with one run-through, I discovered I had trimmed almost a thousand words (keyword:almost), a large portion of which is in the beginning. You know what they always say, get to the story faster. But now I’m trying to trim that last little bit so I can squeak out under half a grand, because A) it’s important to have goals and B) this opens up more opportunities for submissions.

I went through that story with the scythe of the grim reaper, cutting out everything that wasn’t the story. And I mean everything–asides, narrative information, adverbs, metaphors, unnecessary dialogue tags–and now I’m down to 5,022 words. This is the part that sucks. I’m scraping for words to cut, trying to reword sentences, and desperately searching for any little junk words that can be killed.

And the interesting thing is this is coming from a story that was previously 6,000 words, and I thought was finished. I thought it couldn’t be revised any more. But I was able to cut 17% of the text. Just goes to show no work of art is ever finished, only abandoned.

Is the story better for it? I’m not sure, my scope is too close to tell. But I think overall, the story has improved if for nothing else than adding a more mature voice and better word selection. Maybe I made a mistake in cutting so much of the beginning, perhaps I’ve ruined the pacing. But if I want to make this saleable, I need to open it up for a literary audience and kill my darlings.

Yearly Rant Against Scalzi

Seems like everyone’s talking about John Scalzi’s rant against Black Matrix press – a short story junket that pays $0.005 cents per word. In one corner, Scalzi calls this a pittance, an insult, and encourages his followers never to submit your work to such a magazine that values your words so poorly. In the other corner is everyone else in the world who is not John Scalzi.

It seems like Scalzi says one stupid thing each year, like he’s handing out judgement to the commoners. Last year it was his justification for blog tyranny, and his idea that his blog was private property. This year, it’s like Van Halen declaring every other musician in the world should only play arenas.

It seems like sometimes he forgets that not every writer is at his level. The simple fact is we are not all John Scalzi. And we never will be. Scalzi is a “genius” writer, and those people are born, not made. Their success cannot be duplicated. Should that preclude us from ever trying? No. As someone once said, “It would be mighty quiet in the forest if the only birds that sung were those that sung best.” (paraphrased).

Some of us are just trying to get a nose into the writing world. One of those ways is by submitting to small fiction markets. Even Stephen King advises this in “On Writing”. Because if the small fiction markets take notice of you, then the semi-pro markets might. If the semi-pro markets take notice, then the pro markets might.

Not all of us make pro the first try-out. You got to serve your time as equipment manager, then maybe you make JV, then maybe you make varsity, then maybe college ball, then maybe pro. And punctuating all those “maybe”s is the eternal question – are you good enough for the level you want to play at? And Scalzi forgets that. He also forgets that not all of us are doing this for a career. He forgets how few pro markets are really out there, and how selective they are. And not all of us can write a story knowing it’s guaranteed to be selected for publication. Scalzi’s name is known and people will pick up a magazine if his name is in it because A) he’s an excellent writer and B) he has a large following, that leads to click-throughs.

Scalzi’s not really a short story writer, and he’s claimed as such. Scalzi’s a better novelist, and he chooses to be a better novelist. It’s like a professional baseball player criticizing a softball league. So I’m not sure where he gets off handing off judgement to this magazine for its piddly pay rate. Assuming he has listed every short story he’s ever wrote, I’ve already written more short stories than him, and I haven’t had one published yet. There’s a ton of magazines out there that pay nothing. And I’m sure I would/could be rejected by even them! But I don’t submit to them because I agree with his philosophy that you should get paid for your work.

I also agree with Jim C. Hines that he submits to the pro markets because he wants to be read. I would forego any sort of money if it meant that I would be read by many people. But before you can be read, you must be accepted. The reason I submit to the token markets is that, for me, it’s about filling out the resume. Each step brings me that much closer to being heard.

Daikaijuzine Rejection

Daikaijuzine rejected Avatar yesterday. Normally, I wouldn’t write about this, but their rejection came in the form of a limerick. That’s right, a limerick.

A story transcending the mass—
we hoped that we’d found it at last,
but page-turning plot
is something it’s not
we’re sorry—we’ll just have to pass.

Now, if I were a lesser man, I’d be angry about this. It seems insulting to me, in a childish way. This is not a response I’d expect from a professional magazine. Would you? I read it as saying “I had hoped to find a transcendant story, but your story did not have a page-turning plot, so I will pass”. That in itself sounds pretty bad. When you put it in a sing-songy poem, it sounds even worse. I wonder if they get a lot of flak from more immature writers about the insulting nature of this rejection. Me? I just move onto the next magazine. I don’t have time to get into debates about something that doesn’t matter.

More RFDRs for BHS (and other initials)

Two more requests for RFDRs this weekend (RFDR is Critter talk for I’m willing to suffer through your novel for a load of credits, as opposed to plinking away at the first 2,000-word story I see in the queue each week). This means about 5 or so people will have looked at my novel at varying scopes (that is, if they all complete it). This is a good thing, but it also means I have to suffer through a few of their novels myself.

Meantime, got an idea for a short story. Might be writing it after I finish composing the Mermaid Story outline. After that, I’m not sure if I’m going to do something with the remaining short stories or start Black Hole Son draft 3. That depends on where people are at with BHS RFDRs.

No word from Hub, so screw them. Onto the next big thing. Avatar must be free.

No Hub

Still working on refining the Mermaid Story outline. In the meantime, I’m checking up on my short story submissions. “Thicker Than Water” got rejected from Shiny, no big deal there, and now it’s off to its next destination. Fairy Kingdom is at Electric Spec, no word expected until July. Avatar is still rotting away at Hub, and it’s expired its allotted time according to both itself and Duotrope/Ralan’s.

So I sent my first “what’s the status of my story” query. Initially, I wasn’t sure what to say, but my vast experience in cover letters asking for employment has taught me to be short and sweet. And especially in this business, there’s no reason to say anything other than what you want. No flowery speech about how I love your magazine, or angry rants on how unresponsive and slow they are, even compared to the rest of the industry. Nope, just inquiring the status of my story, sent on so-and-so date, please respond.

But I’ll tell you, my story’s been rotting there for almost a year, and I’ve gotten nothing back. That’s not cool. And in the meantime, I could be sending it to other magazines. It’s just a matter of odds – I could’ve sent it to four or five other magazines in the time that it’s been there. This magazine is not kind to the new writer, so if they don’t respond by the end of the week, it’s next in line.

Doggonnit, People Like Me

I got another request to do a novel exchange, this time with an actually published author. Granted he’s from Spain, and English isn’t his first language (or second), but I’m quite happy that, if my wife ever finishes her Kathy Reichs’ books, I’ll have four pairs of eyes looking at it. This is good, because it means people are interested in reading it. And if people are interested, maybe publishers will see that too. Hopefully, I get thoughtful reviews and critiques. It’s not easy slogging through 140,000 words.

Vampire Family Story was submitted to Hungur Magazine – an anthology of vampire stories. It’s 2,000 words over the submission limit, so I’m wondering if I’ll be cancelled out just for that. 4,000 is not a very long short story. But rules are rules. It’s disappointing, because its the only all-vampire magazine that I know of. Besides a vampire chronicle, I don’t know where to send it. Is it horror? Dark fantasy? Regular fantasy? A children’s story? It widens and narrows my options at the same time. I could just throw stuff at the window until it sticks, but that lengthens the submission process, as I’m just taking shots in the dark. Such is the life of an amateur.

I made a GoodReads profile, after John Scalzi said something about his. It’s just something fun to do in-between compile times, and, unlike LibraryThing, there’s no 200 book limit. However, I don’t like that it makes you pick editions instead of book covers, which may not have the right cover (or a cover I like). So I’m not ready to switch my right-rail widget just yet, but I think I will someday.

In happier news, I got a bunch of new books. The bookstore never has what I want, but I found John Scalzi’s The Last Colony and Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. I’ve already read Little Brother, but I think that book is so important that I wanted a copy for my kids (although, now that I think about it, all the tech that makes the book so special will probably be outdated by then, but hopefully the principles will still be the same). But none of these make good research for my next novel. Fortunately, the library had one book I was looking for (Blue World by Jack Vance). And another (The Drowned World by J.G. Ballard) I ordered from Amazon (along with Jim C. Hines’s The Stepsister Scheme, which I’m much looking forward to). There’s one more left that I think I should get, but the library says its on order. So I’ll wait until I’ve exhausted these before I buy it.

Where am I at? (For the 0 people who care)

Short stories: I’ve finished Fairy Kingdom and sent to to Flash Fiction Online. We just passed the min time for expecting a reply, so hopefully I should know something soon. Revising White Mage story was a pain in the ass, because of all the restructuring, and I’m wondering whether I improved the story or nerfed it. It feels like its less than it was now, but maybe that’s because there’s too much here for a short story. I’m working on Vampire Family story now, which is getting too mixed for me to figure out what to do. And Avatar continues to languish in Hub-land.

While I’m on the subject I just want to say that I really hate writing short stories. I wish someone could tell me how to make a short story writer out of a novel writer.

Black Hole Son: Draft 2 is done, and now ready for the door open. I’ve printed out a copy to give to my wife, and two people on Critters have volunteered to RFDR it. This makes me happy (but it also likely means I’m going to get an influx of information that will just confuse me and nerf the story like White Mage Story). I hope most of the feedback is technical. Also I found out there’s some book called “Deader Still” that also uses “object memory”, only they call it (and I don’t if this is the technical name) “psychometry”. Nothing new under the sun.

Other: It’s time to start researching for Mermaid story. Problem is, the library has none of the books I need for this. And this is a major metropolitan area. It makes me disappointed – I thought the library had a good selection. Besides that, reading lots of Gaiman lately – Graveyard Book, Sandman, Fragile Things.