I was sitting at the lunch table at work going through my personal email when I saw the words “Story Acceptance” in the subject line of an email!! My heart started pounding and my face flushed as I opened the email. Yes! It said my story had been accepted and they will be publishing it in the April edition of the Magazine! Youth Imagination Magazine is publishing my story! This has been a long road.
Here is the story of the story…(yeah, like that makes any sense!)
Almost 2 years ago I finished writing a very rough draft of a manuscript for a novel. 99k words long. I was ready for a break from the long form. Also I realized that the manuscript in my hand was a hot mess. I’m not really sure if it is actually salvageable. The idea of going back and revising 99k words was daunting, to put it mildly. My thought was to practice honing my skills on a few short stories, which is much less daunting.
I began with a story of cliff dwellers and dragons. It was okay but didn’t sparkle. I really like some elements of the story, but it needs more work. Probably a complete rewrite.
I had an idea for a kid who fought a troll, but that wasn’t enough for a story, not an interesting one anyway. I carried the idea in my head for several weeks. Slowly, a personality began forming in my head. Names wandered aimlessly in my brain. The idea percolated in the brain broth. (Gross!)
I read a thing on a neighborhood app where a young man had broken into a man’s house. Come to find out the young man had autism. His home was under renovation which stressed him out, so he left in the middle of the night and walked a few miles away and went into someone’s house. I began to wonder, what the boy with autism was thinking about when he went into the house. Why that house? I went on with my life, but that story stuck with me for more than a year.
I teach, so I’ve worked with many kids with Autism. They are all different, all special. They are often misunderstood and underappreciated for their abilities. I have met some pretty amazing kids! I started to wonder.
Sometimes kids with Autism seem to “live in their own little world” as people say. Well no, they live in our world, but a more lively one. What if they see things we can’t? SNAP! That was it! That was my story! Everything started clicking into place! I asked more questions of myself. Why do they often flap their hands? Why do non-verbal kids make the sounds they do? Why special kids sometimes stop in the hall for no apparent reason? (I answered this one in the story, but had to cut it out later.) I wrote the story.
Somehow dragons crept into this story too. I think I have a problem! Anyhow, I kind of liked the story.
I took it to my writing group to see what they had to say about the story. I passed copies around and several of them read it. They gave me a few pointers. They told me they loved the personality of the characters and the idea was novel. A dear friend in the group, Beverly, who is our resident editor, helped me delve deep into it. So I took it home and made changes. I learned and grew. (What grew? My Writing Craft grew. Okay, for some crazy reason I am picturing the writing craft personified as a monster that is slowly growing. Y’all it is scary in this brain of mine!)
I read this two pages at a time to the group. They gave me more feedback–changes to make it better. They also liked it!
I was told by both groups that this story had potential. I am forever indebted to the people in both groups for all the encouragement. I don’t have a great deal of confidence on my own, just hopes, dreams and determination.
I revised it again. Then I let it sit for a few weeks. I went back and made some more tweaks and edits.
Mary Robinette Kowal said on the Podcast Writing Excuses that you should start submitting to your dream publishers first. She once published something with a smaller magazine and later learned her dream magazine would have published it if they had been asked first.
So I sent it off to Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine, knowing full well that there was no way my first story would be accepted by my dream publisher. I waited for the rejection letter for I don’t know how long. A few days, a few weeks? It came faster than I anticipated. It was indeed a rejection, but now I was part of the club of people who had put themselves out there and got rejected. I accepted it happily.
I posted my rejection on Twitter as my badge of honor. Someone on twitter pointed out to me that the rejection had come from Charles Finley, THE editor, not an assistant. This meant that my story had made it through the slush pile! I was floored! IT WHAT!? That was more than I dreamed!
I sent my story out again and again. I’ll spare you the details. I sent it out to magazines that would qualify me for the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). To no avail.
One day while wandering through Twitter World, I saw a post by Charles Finley recommending an editor in New York. I decided it couldn’t hurt to email her. I found out how much she charges and decided the learning experience I could gain was worth the cost. I sent my story to her and got a one page response with feedback. She was right on all counts. I made changes and sent out my story again. Each time my story got rejected, I looked back at my story and made edits.
I read it to some of my students. They gave me positive feedback. I still tweaked things here and there. I made cuts and tightened the prose.
The problem was that I was submitting to magazines with adult audiences. My story is not edgy, dark, or sophisticated. My story is fun, full of wonder and friendship. The ideal audience for this story is youth. So I sent it to Youth Imagination because they seemed to be a great fit for my story. And…Whalah! They love it! Story Accepted!
I am forever grateful that they have accepted my story. This magazine is online so you can bet that I’m going to post a link to the story in the magazine once it is released. Youth Imagination posts artwork with each story, so I am really excited to see what art piece will be paired with my story.
Now… I just have to finish graduate school (August 2019) and I’ll be ready to write more stories and more blog posts!
April 20th is when I should have the link to the story for you. EEEK!
Happy Reading Everyone!