Friday, April 18, 2008


Yesterday, I had one of the most gratifying experiences when it comes to the submission process--and it came out of a rejection.

Back in January, I submitted a story to the Our Shadows Speak anthology, a collection of dark fiction. Last night, I got this response:

six blocks east of mars:

I'm not accepting this because it'd probably make it harder to publish the novel you could make this into. It'd be very easy to turn the emancipated Chicago, the guilds and 'Bino into a sci-fi thriller. Just throw in a murder mystery or something and you have it made.

Your first chapter is pretty much all there. Send me something else to consider, and let me know when you write the book and sell it... I'll pick up a copy.


I've blogged about this before: I can count the amount of times I've responded to rejection letters and editors on one hand. They're very busy, and the last thing they want is some disgruntled/bad/hopeless writer telling them how stupid/silly/ignorant they are for not accepting their magnificent/wonderful/ground-breaking story.

But I felt compelled to respond, as I did last time. This is my response:

Mr. Crisler,

I suppose I should give (and should have given) you a full disclaimer: "The Snatcher" is indeed part of a larger piece, a collection of related short stories telling a linear narrative. Even more so, it's part of a story with a three-part arc, this one being the second, the first recently accepted for publication.

It's funny you suggest I throw in a murder mystery--it's already there, and is the body 'Bino Spectre snatches. I had hoped to write "The Snatcher" in a way that makes it stand alone, and on its own. Looks like I've failed.

Thank you for the kind words.

six blocks east of mars

I didn't really expect a response, but I got one:

six blocks east of mars,

I wouldn't consider it a failure at all; I've yet to write a complete work of longer than 5K words myself. 'The Snatcher' was interesting and entertaining on its own, but I'm looking at the bigger picture I see. I'm also looking out for my writers as well as my publication, and there's better things for you to do with 'The Snatcher' than sending it to me. I'd try to get some of that material in front of an agent and land a professional contract.

Got anything else for me, though? I do like your writing.

I didn't think I had anything for him, but decided I could tweak a story a bit and submit it. After all, he did ask, he did say he liked my writing, and the worst that could happen was a rejection. Here's my response and submission:

Mr. Crisler,

I understand that you're doing best for your publication and your contributors, and I believe my most current submission, "The Arrogant Patcher," would fit well with your Our Shadows Speak anthology. It is approximately 2,690 words in length, and I believe you will enjoy it even more than "The Snatcher." 

Again, in the interest of full disclosure, "The Arrogant Patcher" is a story arc in the collection of stories I mentioned earlier, but it is also a self-contained story that can and does stand alone. 

I would be honored if my story was published in an anthology conceived during an honorable time of your life. I would also be proud to tell others a soldier who did a tour in Afghanistan published a story of mine. 

I thank you for taking the time to read my consideration, and look forward to hearing from you.


six blocks east of mars

Putting political leanings and affiliations aside for a moment--I don't know what Lincoln Crisler saw or experienced in Afghanistan that gave him the idea for the anthology--and maybe I don't want to--but I do think it's interesting an editor wants to publish an anthology that came to him during a tour of duty. Here's his response:

six blocks east of mars,

Yes, yes, this works! Being that it's obviously sci-fi, I'll take it for Our Shadows Soar, not Our Shadows Speak.  Oh, and make sure and tell 'em I've been to Iraq and Korea, too ;-)


Done. I am quite pleased about this, for a few different reasons.

First, Lincoln Crisler seems to be an approachable and amiable editor, and that really hasn't been my experience the short time I've been doing this. Second, "The Arrogant Patcher" is the third and final arc of a story whose first arc will be published by down in the cellar June 1.

It's gratifying to know total strangers think I write well. It's just as gratifying to know my current writing style works, is effective for my story and characters, and is appreciated.


Kahnee said...

Congratulations on your stories acceptance! And I love the new look of your blog... Keep it coming

six blocks east of mars said...

Thanks, kahnee. I'm trying to procrastinate less and write more consistently, both fiction and non-fiction. No more excuses.

Lincoln Crisler said...

Dude. Just droppin' by. I get a kick out of popping in on people's blogs/message boards when they mention me... they never seem to expect it.

Big brother is watching.


six blocks east of mars said...


Thanks for dropping by. I saw you over on Shroud's forums, and immediately knew that letter had come from you. I agree with your post; there's nothing wrong with honesty and straightforwardness from an editor/publisher, especially when the underlying tone is respect. Looking forward to the anthology. Keep doing what you're doing.