Monthly Archives: May 2011

An acceptance – Midwestern Gothic

Normally the South has the market cornered on gothic, but the folks at Midwestern Gothic are working to change them.  Glad I could help out with my story “Rooster Stew.” 

Not sure when Rooster Stew will go live but rest assured I’ll keep you posted here.  Thanks to Robert and readers who read the piece and gave it the thumbs up.

This story originally formed a smallish chapter of a novel manuscript.  I edited it somewhat to make it a better stand-alone piece.  The storyline is fictional, of course, but elements in it are straight memory dumps from childhood, making this story as personal a piece as I have out there in the world.  It makes me not a little nervous, frankly, that this is so.

“Rooster Stew” was rejected 6 times before finding a home.

A personalized rejection from my end – Rejections #161 & 162 – Witness and Electric Literature

Electric Literature thanks me &tc., but I have a personal connection to this form rejection.  A couple years ago when Electric Literature was just starting out  and I was a writer for TeleRead, they were looking for publicity and contacted me and I wrote a couple pieces on their project, including one piece that was not favorable to the story/animation in question, but very complimentary of what Electric Literature was trying to do.  I was in touch with the co-Editors, and they seemed like nice guys.

So, a couple years later, I have a piece I think might work for them.  I write them.  Before, when I was spreading the good word, they’d get back to me within hours.  Now, nothing.  Well, fair enough, I decide.  Guess I shouldn’t be trying to jump the queue that way.  So I send them my story like anyone else, though I do mention our past connection in the cover letter.

Was I trying to use a personal connection to help get published?  Hell yes, I was. 

Little that it mattered.  After a standard 192-day wait, I got the standard auto-reject, with nary a word of my past word-spreading on their behalf.

No question, having connections helps in getting published.  But not all connections were created equal.  The tenuous ones – like as not they help not at all.

Meanwhile, Witness admired many elements of my work, but have decided the manuscript isn’t right for them.

Rejections #155, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160 – Ninth Letter, Juked, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Mixer, Chizine, The Collagist

Kinda bummed about the rejection from Beneath Ceaseless Skies – I really want in there.  Well, next time.  The editor liked the story, but found there were too many modern elements to fit in with the magazine.  Know your markets, I guess.

Steven Owen, Editor at Mixer Publishing, had a number of nice things to say about the piece I submitted, but ultimately found the characterization of the main character too sentimental.  An interesting critique and not one I can recall getting before, so I’m considering in some depth what he meant.

The editors at Chizine consider my story interesting and well-written, but not for them, after consideration.

Ninth Letter is sorry the submission isn’t for them.

Juked appreciated the read, but are sorry to say they won’t be able to use the piece.

The Collagist is unable to use the fiction I submitted.  So unable, in fact, that their auto-responder sent me the same email twice.

Rejections #153 & 154 – Allegory and Post Road

Got a nice personal note from the assistant editor at Allegory, J.E. Taylor.  He felt it was a good story overall, but too much telling, not enough showing.

Post Road appreciates the opportunity &tc, but overall the submission was not a right fit.

The Nebraska Panhandle, 1988 is up at Numero Cinq

My essay about a summer childhood afternoon is up at Numero Cinq.  Douglas Glover has this to say about it:

  Here’s a lovely addition to the growing list of Numéro Cinq “Childhood” essays from Court Merrigan who grew up in Nebraska and lives just across the state line in Wyoming. Court was raised on a farm. He has that authentic Western voice, a voice bred in the  dirt and heat and the smell of oil from the farm machines and the chink of irrigation pipes and sound of distant thunder (farmers watch the sky far more than city folk). I have a fondness for the piece based on personal history—the first story I published was about a hail storm on the farm where I grew up. Court’s father towers over this story, his laugh, his exhortations and his reading. What’s really particular and authentic here is that father, Catholic, Jesuit-trained, literate, and wise. He’s appeared before on NC, just in passing,  in Court’s “What it’s like living here.”

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Brad Green for reading several early versions of this essay and pronouncing them – thankfully – DOA.  I found this piece as difficult to write as anything I’ve ever done, and I ran a real risk of real embarrassment in those early attempts if Brad hadn’t been there to save the day. 

Thanks also to Douglas Glover for asking for the piece, and then publishing it once he had it.

Please head on over to Numero Cinq and have a look.  Thanks.

Rejections #151 & 152 – Apex & Orion

Apex Magazine regrets to inform me that my story does not currently meet their needs. They do wish me future writing success, however.

Orion thanks me, but did not find a place for my piece in their magazine.

Does a personal note from the New Yorker count as an acceptance?

Wait – is this even a personal note? 

We’re sorry to say that this manuscript is not right for us, in spite of its evident merit. This is very confident writing here. Unfortunately, we are receiving so many submissions that it is impossible for us to reply more specifically.  We thank you for the chance to consider your work.”

Does that “hallo” indicate a personal touch, or just the intern making a typo on the auto-send list?  What “obvious” merit, I’d like to know.  And isn’t all writing submitted to The New Yorker, aka The Holy Grail of All Things Writerly, confident?

Who knows.  Also, it doesn’t count.  Rejection #150 it is.

Rejections #146, 147, 148, 149 – Necessary Fiction, Used Furniture Review, Ascent, Shimmer

The editor at Shimmer, E. Catherine Tobler, included a nice note with her rejection that included a very useful comment on the story.  She encourages me to try Shimmer again.  I appreciate the kind words, and I will.

Steve, the editor at Necessary Fiction, also included some very useful comments on the submitted story in his rejection note.  His points are frankly spot on, and in fact I’m going to rewrite the story in question with these suggestions in mind.  It’s great when an editor does some editing, rather than just hitting the auto-reject button; it means (I think) that your story has some legs, you just have to get it over the hump.  Steve also wishes me luck.  Thanks, Steve. 

Ascent appreciates the opportunity, but my submission is not right for them.

Used Furniture Review wants me to know that my submission isn’t “bad;” it just isn’t what they are looking for.

An acceptance! – PANK

After a rewrite, PANK is going to take my story “The Cloud Factory.” for the September issue.  As noted on the Failure page, PANK has previously rejected 6 stories of mine.  So I’m pretty damn happy to finally have scaled that citadel. 

 “The Cloud Factory” was rejected 11 times before finding a home.

Rejections #144 & 145 – Electric Spec & Storyglossia

Electric Spec enjoyed my story, which made it to the final round of the decision-making process.  Unfortunately, there was not room in the issue for the piece.

I am gratified to have a story make it that far.  Nonetheless, a rejection remains a rejection.

Meanwhile, Storyglossia appreciates the opportunity, but has not selected the piece.