Every issue of Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine includes a fun contest. They print a picture, and writers are challenged to come up with a 250 word maximum story inspired by or based on the picture. Winners get $25.00. The winning story and the names of the runners up are printed in the next issue. I’m proud to say I was a runner up in the latest contest, with my name in the issue pictured here.
Best of all, it was the most fun I’ve had writing in a long time–a great break from revising, editing, marketing. And even that small bit of recognition gives me the emotional boost to keep going, to do more, to seek out more opportunities. And to encourage all my fellow short story and/or mystery writers to do the same.
I’m excited. My story, “The Wannabe”, is now out in the latest Guppy anthology, Fishy Business. While not quite a “30-Year Story“, it was at least a 10-year story. Still, I kept at it. I kept at it because I had faith in the story. I also had friends along the way who helped. An actress I know helped me shape the “cattle call” scene. I also did research into how long it takes to render a person unconscious by choking and how long they will stay passed out once the airway is cleared. Mostly, I kept submitting. While the story came close to acceptance several times, it never made the final cut. Until the call for the latest Guppy anthology went out, that is. Even then, it was a year between acceptance and the publication of the anthology. But so what? In the meantime, I kept working on and submitting other pieces, plus editing, revising and publishing the second edition of my poetry book, Fault Lines. As writers, we accept the realities of publishing, which include delays and disappointments. But we also get to enjoy the successes and victories. One of the unexpected joys of working on this anthology was getting to know the other 21 contributors, the coordinator and others involved. Sure, I’d seen their names and read their posts on the group list, and even met a couple of them in person at Bouchercon. But this collaborative experience in a small group focused on one project proved delightful. And it’s one more experience to add to this, my writing life.
After a long slog, I’ve finally issued the second edition of my poetry collection, Fault Lines. Perhaps it took longer than it should have. Perhaps it took exactly as long as it needed. There were three things that slowed down the process. One was my own foot-dragging when it came to the hard work. And my foot dragging came from two impulses: fear (that I wouldn’t be up to the task) and a simple dread of the drudgery of endless editing and proofreading. A second cause was the steep learning curve, in regards to cover design, formattting, uploading, dealing with ISBNs, vendors and all the rest. While there are hundreds, if not thousands, of books, articles and blogs available to teach me all this, none of them were quite adequate for the job. There was always some missing step, or fuzzy explanation, combined with the fact that it all changes by the minute and much of what I read no longer applied. The third factor was my own near-perfectionism. I really wanted to get it right this time, and not end up with the typos, omissions and other issues with the first edition. I wanted a product I could be proud of, now and into the future. Of course, with all my efforts, there are still a few things I now would change, a few steps I would (will) do differently next time. That just means I’ve learned something (well, many things, actually). Hooray! Anything I learn, any hard work, just better prepares me for the next challenge. So, here it is. I hope you like it.