Saturday, 20 February 2010

A Good Rejection

About a week ago, I submitted by dissertation piece - a short story of 6,500 words - to ParsecInk's new anthology, Triangulation: End of the Rainbow. It said on their website that they have never commisioned anything over 5,000 words, though they wouldn't rule it out. I decided to give it a bash.

After reading their previous anthology, Triangulation: Dark Glass, and listening to their very helpful podcasts, I knew they only published the best quality stuff. And these were people who knew what they were talking about, too.

After I had submitted the story, part of me knew it wouldn't quite cut it. But I was still pleased with the story overall, and had a shred of hope.

Today I recieved the rejection, which read:

Thanks for sending this story our way, but we've decided to pass. While we found the opening intriguing, the story moved too slowly for us. There's some good world building here, but it's faintly reminiscent of Children of Men (the movie) and not really novel enough (from our perspective) to carry a story of this length.

We wish you luck in placing this elsewhere and will be happy to consider other stories from you that fit our theme.

That last comment is good news. They obviously liked my writing, just not the story. I was glad that Steve Ramey was the Assistant Editor who got to look at my story, because he always posts about individual stories on his blog. Which meant I got a little bit more insight. On his blog he writes:

This starts out quite promisingly, with a hint of near future complication, but soon begins to stretch into a simpler tale that lacks the substance to support so many words. There’s some interesting world building, though it feels faintly reminiscent of Children of Men (the movie, at least). There’s not enough newness to carry the idea and not enough narrative to carry the length. Plot elements are a little obvious in places. The actual writing is good, often very good, and the voice engaging. Pass to second read.

Steve then goes on to talk about his 'pick of the slush pile'...

And this week’s slushy goes to — drum roll, please — Story 1. It’s too long for its idea, which is not really novel enough, but it features an intriguing hook, engaging voice, and smooth delivery that set it apart from the others this week.

So as far as rejections go, at least I know it was a good'un! And I've been given some things to think about. I have a few ideas how to improve my story, though I'm not quite sure what the obvious plot elements were, and would have been more than happy to have them pointed out to me. As far as the 'Children of Men' comparison goes, yes, it does have an extremely similar theme (not only to the film, but the book too, as well as Atwood's 'The Handmaid's Tale'), but I was hoping I had created an original angle. I guess I have to work on that too.

Monday, 15 February 2010

YA Literary Heroes for Girls

I have just read an article in the 2010 Jan/Feb/Mar issue of Mslexia (my favourite lit mag) called 'The new It Girls' (Deep in the heart of Young adult literature, a real, arse-kicking revolution is brewing. Could this be the rallying cry of a brave new feminist movement?).

It was a very insightful, logically written piece that contrasts the different portrayals of young women in the media and in fiction books. The article compares 'drippy' heroines like Twilight's Bella Swan to the strong heroines of many modern YA novels, such as Lyra in Pullman's Northen Lights and Katniss in The Hunger Games (a book I've seen mentioned in quite a few articles lately - I think I'll get hold of a copy).

The article looks back, too, at heroines such as Mary Lennox (The Secret Garden) and how strong female characters are not simply imitations of male characters, but assert themselves in their gender.

I found another heroine at the end of the article, though: the writer. This article was written by Leonara Craig Cohen, who is 17-years-old and studying English, Russian, Art and History of Art. She's written for The Guardian and The Times as well as various other places. And she's just SEVENTEEN.

My initial reaction was jealously, of course. Closely followed by admiration. Sometimes you don't have to look to fiction to find heroes for young women.

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Short-Story.Me : The Edge of Extinction

My sci-fi/fantasy flash fiction 'The Edge of Extinction' is up at Short-Story.Me today. It's on the front page as I write this, but I'll link to its own page so you can read the full story.

It had been four years since he’d seen his own kind alive. There was a white-hot explosion. He shielded his eyes with his arm, too little too late, and was thrown into the air. When he woke up, half his face had melted away and most of the flesh was gone from his arm. The sounds of war had silenced.


(image from

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Have All the Ideas Run Out?

I went to the cinema the other day to see the remake of 'The Wolfman'. It was very disappointing. Predictable and boring for the most part (though I did think the transformation scenes weren't bad, as you'd expect with modern technology). Thing is, it was never really a good idea, was it? Back in the day, it was a fresh idea. Now it's just a cliche.

All the trailers before the film were for remakes. A remake of the 1973 film 'The Crazies' - I haven't seen the original, but I knew of it. I'm going to watch the remake when it comes out, though I have a feeling its going to be one of those films where the trailer is the best part. And a remake of 'Clash of the Titans' is coming out soon, too. I loved the original. That stop-start animation had such a freaky quality to it. Much scarier than CGI realism in my opinion.

I don't see the point in remaking films. I really don't. I'm trying to think of a remake that's better than the original. Perhaps my brain is a bit too tired at the moment to think. Or perhaps there just aren't (m)any.

I wish the film industry would stop taking a film and shoving a load of new effects into it. I wish they would stop focusing on special effects, and start thinking up some new ideas.

Because, as with creative writing, you can have all the fancy effects you like, but it's the story that's the core of it. Without the story, everything else falls flat.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

A Day in the Life... #1

Perhaps I don't blog enough about my experiences as an editorial assistant. Seems that it might be something people would want to read about... (Correct me if I'm wrong!) I've written several more general posts about my job, such as 7 Weeks as an Editorial Assistant. Well, I've now been in my position for about three and a half months. And I'm feeling pretty settled.

I got to work at five past nine. I usually aim for nine o'clock, though as long as you're in before half nine and you do all your hours, no one seems to mind. I was late because I'm not a morning person and it takes every shred of my energy to drag myself out of bed. I feel pathetic saying that, because I only live down the road from where I work, so I set my alarm for quarter to eight. By anyone else's standards, that's already a lay-in!

I curse the traffic as I drive to work. If the traffic wasn't there, it would take me five minutes to drive. In the traffic, it takes me closer to twenty minutes. I plan to cycle to work in the summer.

I get in, and the first thing I do is check my emails. I usually have about ten new messages in the morning. The other editorial assistants say they can have up to fifty. I guess I haven't quite reached their level yet. This morning, I only had one email!

I spent most of the morning photocopying and circulating the paperwork for PCM on Thursday. PCM stands for... Project Commissioning Meeting... I think... I attend these meetings with the editors I work for.

Then I jumped on the train into London. I was meeting one of our authors with the Business editor I work for. But the author didn't show up! He had sent an email to Editor cancelling the meeting, but Editor didn't receive the email in time. Oh well. We had lunch in a cafe, anyway. I got the train back to base. At least I got out of the office for a bit.

For most of the rest of the day, I was finding replacement web links to go on one of our book's website. Web links to external sites often go out of date, so we have to make sure we keep up.

All of this was punctuated with lots of cups of tea. And one cookie. It's all about the cookie... Remember that.
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