By November 2016, my backlog of unpublished stories was growing. Those rejected were scrutinized, revised and sent out again to another potential journal. By the end of that year and a total of 150 submission, I had 16 acceptances. Those published were mostly microfiction (100 words or less) or flash fiction (under 1,000 words). Two of them were fictionalized scenes from everyday life: Perfect Square of Sky appeared in The Flash Fiction Press and was based on a trip to the dentist; Forget-Me-Pops, in ZeroFlash, harkened back to my days as a copywriter. I used to write radio commercials, so I called on that experience to produce ad copy for a fake breakfast cereal. Sadly, at this writing, both those journals no longer publish new issues.
Five years ago, pre-Covid, my story Tasting Apples at the Edge of Epidemic was published. Aside from it’s prophetic nature, this may have been the first story where I started with a twist already in mind. To this point, my storytelling style was to go wherever the writing took me. This one was calculated from the get-go: the story’s narrator laments about his wife, but her fate is not what the reader is lead to believe. The story sprung from an annual apple tasting at our local garden supply store. My speculative brain engaged and projected the event into a future where… well, where we are in ’20-21 with the pandemic. Goes without saying that those apple tastings have been cancelled in recent years, just as my story foretold.
The other published story, Barbarism, was the first of many 50-word microfictions to come. I enjoy the challenge of creating a complete, satisfying scene in an exact word count. Thankfully, there are a number of publications out there that look for these tiny tales.
Less than a year had gone by since I started writing pretty much every day. I was really into flash fiction by then; virtually all the stuff I was cranking out was 500 words or less. Monocle is for M was 500, Surf Guitar was 100 and Spat was 350. With these publishing opportunities under my belt, I was sharing a new story to my writing group practically every week.
At the same time I was having issues tracking all of my submissions. I was keeping an Excel spreadsheet (which eventually became The Short List) and trying to log those few acceptances along with the many, many, many, many, many rejections. I vividly remember the “personal note” from an editor, telling me that I had duplicated a story submission and that he didn’t like it the first time he read it.Continue reading
On The Nose was my first attempt at nonfiction and might still be my best CNF so far. I was starting to embrace this “writing thing” and toted a notebook and pen with me wherever I went. Perhaps that’s why “On The Nose” was good, because I was documenting my treatment of skin cancer as it happened. The subject was also approached with humor, which, I think, was why it was accepted for publication rather quickly.
In November 2015 my first piece of speculative fiction was published. I didn’t know it at the time, but a trend would be set that has continued for five years. Most of the 60+ published stories I’ve written fall into genres like science fiction, fantasy, horror or just plain weird . The Middle Box is about a “doctor” who specializes in weight loss and has an unsettling method to help his patients achieve their goals. His patients are mostly female and we learn that the good doctor is also quite attracted to the full-figured women he treats. Reading it now I see many flaws, but the inherent creepiness remains. That is what I still strive to achieve in writing this kind of story.
This month marks the 5th anniversary of two published stories. Deep Pools of Tepid Remorse was my first ever published story. It tells the tale of a muralist and a journalist and how street art brought them together. g.lentz follows an eccentric-looking woman and a man who she fascinates. Both stories were great motivators as each was accepted for publication after only a couple submissions. They also showed me that while writing is a solo effort, revisions need the feedback of other writers. I had recently joined a writers group and members’ feedback had helped make these stories much better.