Wednesday, December 28, 2011

One Decade, One Story - or how One Thing Leads to Another

This is the journey of one of my stories and its ripple effect over the last decade. It’s not the story that has earned me the most money (that honor goes to ‘Mississippi Pearl’) but it is one of my favorites.

I wrote “Some Things Don’t Wash Off” back in 2001. It was originally intended to be part of an anthology with a couple other writers I admired and met through the old Dark Tales message boards – the stories were all to be set at this out-in-the-boonies roadhouse full of strange characters and strange goings-on. The project never got off the ground, so I eventually submitted it to a pro-paying (at the time) online horror zine called Gothic.Net. The editor there liked it, but felt it wasn’t quite right for them. He asked me to send something else. Meanwhile, I had decided to attend the 2002 World Horror Conference in Chicago – mainly because it was in driving distance, and also it was a great chance to meet some of the folks I’d met through the Dark Tales boards. The conference was holding a short story contest sponsored by Weird Tales, so I submitted the story there. Long story short, I won the short story contest and won a hundred bucks.

I submitted “The Apple Tree Man” to Gothic.net due to the editor liking “Some Things...” and asking for something else. He accepted this other story and paid $250 for it.

A bit later, Darrel Schweitzer from Weird Tales contacted me and said they’d like to include “Some Things...” in an upcoming issue for which they paid me another $90.

Later that year, I attended the World Fantasy Convention, since it was practically in my backyard (Minneapolis) and there, the legendary George Scithers cornered me and asked why I hadn’t sent anything else yet to Weird Tales. I sorta fibbed and said I was working on something just for them (although the story I soon came up with was eventually rejected by them. But it was still nice to be asked for something from Mr. Scithers!)

In 2006, one of the attendees of WHC2002 remembered me and “Some Things...”, so when he noticed a call for Minnesota writers who had published professionally, he sent me an email about it. I submitted my story “Leave No Wake” to the Resort to Murder antho and it was accepted. I got to appear alongside some bestselling authors like William Kent Krueger and Ellen Hart. We even went on a mini-tour around the Twin Cities, which was much fun and a great experience. I also got on the invite list for the annual Write of Spring shindig hosted by the Once Upon a Crime bookstore in Minneapolis. (I have a story forthcoming in their Writes of Spring antho, which should be out in April). But I wouldn’t have seen that call for stories if it hadn’t been for the bloke who had remembered me and my story from the 2002 WHC.

In 2007 I sold “Some Things...” to Pseudopod for $100, and they did a wonderful audio version of it. (Click on the link for a listen!)

In 2009, I used “Some Things...” as my writing sample for the Speculative Literature Foundation’s Gulliver Travel & Research Grant and won. I received $800 for that in 2010. I got the pleasure to help judge the next year’s entries for the grant, and this year I get to help judge for their Older Writer’s Grant.

In 2010, I included “Some Things...” in my short story collection Bait and Other Stories.

“Some Things Don’t Wash Off” has had a nice decade, and has led to some other nice writing gigs. So to you folks who are in the early stages of your writing ventures, remember that if you have a good story, it doesn’t have to just die on the vine of the first publication that accepts it. Sometimes you need to help it back on its feet, blow the dust off, and encourage it to keep on jogging along.

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