Amateur

   Word Count 5644

                              

You too can be a writer in a few short days with no prior experience.  That is what is known as a hook – something to pull the reader in.  How does one become a published author, you ask?  Quick answer – Short Humour, a British online publisher, will take anything meeting the description in the title.  “Before the Wright Brothers were famous for flying, they had a South Pacific clothing factory called ‘Two Wrights Makes Sarong’”.  Short Humour has now published 46 of my gems, starting with Marital Dialogues, and includes the smart car series.  You could also try a Portland Old Boys (a once a month breakfast group) talk.  For example, “Mad(ison) Men” from one of those talks appeared in Wilderness House.  This is an adaptation and expansion of one of those talks.  My story of being in an Oregon Hospital And Science University balance study “Balance”, is a story that I’m trying to place and the basis for a talk at POB.

Per title, I’m definitely an amateur.  Until I took a useless (for me) online writing course last year, the last previous time I had any writing instruction was college freshman English.  So far, I have received no money for writing, despite having theoretical possible payments.  Receiving money was complicated by not having Paypal.  Because this is a hobby, not being paid is not a problem.  I spend a little money, but it is much cheaper than collecting cars.  My main expense is going to happy hour with my editor when I’m accepted or published.  I’d be broke if I went to happy hour whenever I’m rejected.  

In order of importance, I want to express my ideas, do it well, and get published.  I don’t want to write something purely to get published. 

I’m not a real writer, but I play one on the internet.  That explains a lot of what follows.

In the spring of 2014 while on a work party in Tryon State Park in Oregon with a colleague, I wondered what we would do when we could no longer do the physical things that we were doing.  At that time I was frequently lame, literally.  He didn’t have a plan B.  I decided I wanted to write.  A little later I was impressed / depressed / inspired by Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild” –  impressed by her writing and her journey, depressed by her problems and how little I had done compared to her and inspired to write myself.  I was then more determined to write and also to explore my past and embark on some adventure.  This is foreshadowing.

“Wild” is a perfect Oprah Book.  It has loss – divorce, mother dying – hardship – the Pacific Crest Trail hike with bad boots – regret – drugs and promiscuity all followed by a happy ending – new husband and writing success.

Physical adventures are limited by creaky joints and a fondness for easy chairs and flush toilets.  I have written some memoir things and I found out why an old flame dumped me.   I wrote “Mad(ison) Men” about a high school reunion, “Behind The Portland State College Bowl” about the PSC record setting team, and “Freedom” about an encounter with baby goats, have found a home, but at Wilderness House in Western Massachusetts of all places.  “I Won’t Take Manhattan” about my time at Kansas State University 1968-69 ended up in Synchronized Chaos. “Birthday” tells what I know about a member of the folk-rock group “The Association” who died by overdose.  Wilderness House didn’t like my fiction as much as the memoirs.  To protect the privacy of the old flames the stories about them uses all pseudonyms including that of the author.

Now for the back-story.  A few years ago I was selected for the second round of Oregonian community columnist.  After a feud with the editor, I quit in the middle.  I had written some things in 1996 and 1999.  My artsy friends were not impressed, but they are dead now.  My original writing may have been inspired by competition with my sister, the mystery novelist.  The 1996 stuff was so old that I had to get our computer expert to open the files.  At the time I wrote the old stories I must have been very bloody-minded – they cover death, suicide and mutilation with a little biography of non-existent people.  Before then I had written my company newsletter in the 1980s and 1990s.  It was supposed to sell my software and services, but I grew tired of that and mostly did jokes and commentary.  From 1998 to the present I have volunteered at a bookstore which introduced me to a lot of writing, good and bad.

I started re-editing and completing the old stories with my live-in editor Sharon and writing “Wild” related stories and then I looked up publishers on the internet.  After the first 3,000 vanity press entries (possible literary license to lie), I found a listing of literary journals.  The more approachable can be the training wheels or training bras for new writers.  My first sources had no information about the acceptance rate, so they didn’t help much.  After seeing suggestions to use Duotrope, I got a source of more likely journals. 

“Literary” means few want to read it.

 There are three major categories for literary journals – creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry.  Minor categories include audio, video and art.  “Creative non-fiction” does not mean farm reports.  I mostly submitted fiction.  Lengths include blogs, 50 word stories, and more commonly flash (usually a thousand words or less, but sometimes more creative such as 1234 or less), short story, novella / novelette and book length.  Some are specialized such as horror, women, LGBQT, travel, regional, whatever, but most are general.  Format requirements are all over the place.   Mostly you don’t pay to submit and they don’t pay for your stories.  Simultaneous submissions are the norm, but multiple bundled submissions per journal are not.  The majority of publishing is on line.  Most journals won’t accept something that has appeared elsewhere.  There are more than 5,000 journals and they are mostly minor publishers that go in and out of business.

I started to submit.  Hardly any journals want paper submissions.  The major methods are Submittable (a program some magazines subscribe to), other minor submission programs, attached files to emails and embedded stories within emails.

My initial submissions were the “Wild” related and my old stories.  I had good luck with old stuff; all of my old completed stories have been accepted for publication, but very bad luck with the “Wild” stories initially.   Now Potluck has published “Wildest” (then in Short Humour) and “Mild’ which is also in the Dirty Pool in a longer and better form.  To be safe, “Mild” was also put in Short Humour. “Professor Haines On Cheryl Strayed’s Wild”, which appears in Down In The Dirt, is mostly a hatchet job on Oprah nation.

“Bike Killer”, one of the first things that I wrote in the 1990s, was also the first to be accepted.  Hash magazine was to publish it in December of 2014, then March and then July.  I’ve given up on them and Duotrope declared them defunct, but Nugget Tales and then Yellow Mama took it later – the Yellow Mama editor had a bad history with bicycles.  Of the other early stories “Elevator” (500 suicides) went to Insert then Yellow Mama, and “Leg” (extreme daddy issues) went to Insert then Down In The Dirt; “Tapes” (prelude to suicide) went to Potluck and “Better Living Through Electronics” (nerd life) went to Potluck and then Wilderness House after their suggested revisions; “A Life Examined” (a reprobate’s last words) was picked up by “Fiction On The Web”, and “Soul” (does it exist?) was published in two pieces in  Oblong and Wi-Files.  The second part was accepted by Oblong, before the first was accepted by Wi-Files.  Soul was made in two pieces because I wanted both parts to be flash.  The unified pieces are now in Down In The Dirt.  After falling a little short of the Guinness Book Of Records for rejections, a cleaned up version of the very gross original “Mirrors” (a more feasible Stepford Wives) was published by AWS then Down In The Dirt and “Cats’ Religion” was published by Dual Coast after I added a better ending.  My first version of “Mirrors” was quite risqué and was never published.

Most of those stories have had a second life either because the initial publication is gone, or just because I could get away with it. 

Many reviews were good, but “A Life Examined” was criticized by a reader because there was no character development.  The publisher agreed that character development is not always realistic.  My example of misuse of character development would be for Hannibal Lecter becoming vegan.

Potluck, which gave a lot of initial support is closed now.  The last thing of mine that they took was “Half”, a story based on my second favorite way to die.  Oblong was declared dead, but still has my story up.  Insert has had a checkered life.  Wi-Files does not respond well.  Stories in Dual Coast can only be read by buying the magazine and I try to avoid that.

Individual journal acceptance rates vary from 0 to 100% according to Duotrope.  Duotrope wisely asserts that 0% acceptance rates are based on inadequate data and high acceptance rates could be exaggerations.

Rejection in writing submissions is not nearly as bad as in relationships.  Some are encouraging, most are boilerplate and a few are insulting.  You may be rejected because you submitted to the wrong place, or your story is just no good.  One rejection was from a mistaken submission to a lesbian porn magazine.   I tend to think of those with high acceptance rates as sluts, and the ones with low acceptance rates as prudes, but I would never let a publication know that.  I tried a lot of things to aid my writing.  An online writing class, a professional editor and a critique meeting were largely wastes of time.  I got some help from my live in editor, comments from friends and potential publishers and growing a beard.  Despite the comments, I don’t resemble Santa Claus – I’m not the least bit jolly.  A big help was finding Duotrope for $5 a month that tells you about most literary journals and approximately how long it takes to get a response and how likely a submission is to be accepted.

In order of preference, my favorite journals – 1.Publish me (a few), 2.Allow simultaneous submissions (most), 3.Have no format requirements (many), 4. Respond quickly (some), 5.have both kinds of publications – paper and free online (Down In The Dirt), 6.Encourage reader feedback (Fiction On The Web), 7.Add good artwork (Yellow Mama, Literally Stories, Story Shack), 8.Advertise your stories (many on Twitter), and 9.Allow multiple submissions (a few).

 The ideas come from a number of places.  I could imagine that my wife left (“Deal” in Fiction On The Web, then Down In The Dirt), someone accidently kills someone and ends up killing three more (“Trigger” also in FOTW)), how we are tricked into wars in Asia (“War” first in the defunct Subtopian, then in Down In The Dirt), or how to demean talk shows (multiple stories).  After reading a horror anthology while in Yuma Arizona, I wrote three horror stories.  “Nightmare Or Zombie – You Choose” is in Jitter Press, “Marriage” is in Penny Shorts and Yellow Mama; and “Violators” was in AWS and now in Yellow Mama. 

“Here” is the fictional biography of a self help guru that originated in the idea that “Are we there yet?” is too negative.  It was followed by two other stories that make up the Vernonia Trilogy (I like the sound of the name of that Oregon town), Eagle (a happy rock story) and Spenser (first Libertarian president – they called it Spencer).  All three were in AWS and are now hard to place orphans. 

Yellow Mama (named after the electric chair in Alabama) is a favorite publisher and has taken the majority of things that I have submitted to them.  The editor and I are a mutual appreciation society.  My most recent stories there are Shower Of Power (problem house), Dig (the story of murders in a park) and Cell (variation on an old joke which first appeared in Nugget Tales).

The process varies.  “Mild” was written in my head while working in local Tryon Park.  “Trigger” started with a simple crime and became a puzzle to turn into a story.  Sometimes I have a list of plot points and I’m finished when I use them up.  Humor arrives unannounced.

My only problems are plot, characters, exposition, grammar and dialogue.  Sometimes the characters tell their stories directly and sometimes there is exposition.  There is no consistent point of view.  The characters are mostly middle aged, somewhat educated white people.  The protagonist frequently resembles me – about forty years old and tall (these are total lies – But Raymond Chandler didn’t look like Philip Marlowe either).  Unlike me, he is usually a stupid man who makes bad choices.  Sometimes I foolishly write in a woman’s voice.

Main male protagonists are frequently named Duke because family legend has it that my father wanted to name me that after his favorite dog Duke, but my mother prevailed with a name that was close to Duke.  Duke Hanley is something of an everyman alter ego that gets in situations that I wouldn’t.  Main female protagonists are usually named Sally because the three closest women to me have or had names starting with “S”.

I usually try not to tell too much with the titles – “Reprieve”, “Old”, “Trigger”. 

Sharon, my live in editor, does editing for grammar that Word doesn’t find and problems with flow or sequence.  I usually ignore most other criticism because I’m always right, and mostly avoid figures of speech, adverbs, adjectives – I’m a minimalist.  Things are only described if relevant to the story.  Richard Heby of the Beechwood Review introduced me to Chekhov’s Gun, a good bit of advice.

After cleaning up the stories from the 1990’s and the “Wild” stories, I branched into relationship / soap opera stories, polemics, memoirs, horror, speculative fiction, essays, humor and you-name-it.  All fiction starts with “what if”.  After some initial success, I had a long dry spell, but now things have picked up again.  Overall rejection rates are about 90% and I’m competing with literature majors.     I was hot at Potluck, Fiction On The Web, Insert, AWS, Bitchin’ Kitsch, Nugget Tales and Subtopian, each of which has published at least a couple of stories.  Now they are defunct, no longer supporters or told me not to submit.  FOTW is an exception in that it recently took the orphan story “SHORT”.  Oddly many, maybe most, of my stories are in UK publications.  Before and after Subtopian, I had no luck with Northwest publishers.  I have two approaches to submitting now – either start off with publishers most likely to accept or ones which are fastest to respond.  In a couple of cases, stories have been written in two parts and the shorter second part was published first.  My general approach when I was actively writing was to submit to two journals and do another submission for each rejection.  Sometimes, but not usually, I rewrite after a rejection.  When accepted, I withdraw all other submissions.  Four stories have been accepted twice because of poor record keeping.  Sometimes new journals, such as Potluck may have been more accepting because they have not had a lot of submissions yet.

With the polemics I tried to make a political or social point in a fictional setting.  Besides “War”, Subtopian took “Reprieve” which suggests that our survival as a race may depend on 90% of the people dying (they made great art work for the story).  “*lr*d” suggests that we picked the wrong god, “Do Nothing” applauds governmental inaction and Intelligent Design (questions about the intelligence) went to Potluck then Down In The Dirt. “ATTACK” (Nugget Tales, then Synchronized Chaos) wonders about the wisdom of being the world’s cop.  “Californication” (Nugget Tales then Synchronized Chaos) riffs on a recent article suggesting massive future movement from California to Oregon.  I messed up with “Candidates’ Diary”.  Bitchin’ Kitsch objected to grammar in a diary.  I rewrote it and resubmitted to BK.  Then I rethought the absurdity of editing language in a diary and withdrew it and sent it to Short Humour.  I should have had one version in BK and another in Short Humour.  I got my first acceptance in Australia for “Short” in Ariel Chart, but they pulled it from publication.  There will be no more submissions to BK or AC.

Two of the speculative stories are “What” (nominated for a Pushcart) which is about hearing problems and appears in the first edition of Beechwood Review, and “Dark” which is beverage fan fiction in Potluck.

“Deal” (accommodation in Fiction On The Web then Down In The Dirt), “Prodigal Father” (sudden grandfatherhood in Synchronized Chaos), “Swingers” (daisy chain relationships in AWS, then Red Fez), Jen” (bad romance in Nugget Tales, then Down In The Dirt) and “Switch” (the player gets played in Bitchin’ Kitch, later in Red Fez) are the relationship stories.

“Old” is a magic/tragedy/humor/romance hybrid which appeared in Fiction On the Web.

“smart car” (Fiction On The Web) is about a car which is not only smart, but emotional.  After “smart car” got favorable comments, I started writing sequels and kept going until I had fifteen episodes.  FOTW was disinterested so I moved them to Nugget Tales.  In some order, Corner Bar took an edited version of the whole series, there was an unauthorized Russian version and Short Humour took all of the episodes.

“Scenes” (AWS, then Down In The Dirt) and “Die” (Bitchin’ Kitsch) are contemplations about mortality.

By this time, I’d run out of categories and specific plots that I wanted to handle, and just did whatever occurred to me.

I wouldn’t write young adult, romance, rocket ships, cops, private detectives, time travel, vampires or werewolves without a $10,000,000 advance.  I won’t spend much time on research, but I did a little for “*lr*d”, “Coots” (Bitchin’ Kitsch then Short Humour) and “Intelligent Design”.  Sometimes I use my experience in insurance, mathematics, rejection, music (big song collection and talented live in musician) and hiking in the stories.  Stories which strongly reflect their location are usually set in Oregon, which is my home.  My fascination with the evolution of cars affects my writing.  As an old man, my nearness to death is reflected in many stories.

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A quick look at my submissions shows around fifty of the publications to which I submitted are now either on hiatus or defunct according to Duotrope, the main publication that covers literary journals.  Around seven of the journals that had accepted my stories are defunct.  I regret the loss of some because the artwork that went with the stories is no longer available.  The first of the publication deaths was Subtopian, which quit responding to any inquiries and then disappeared after taking “War” and “Reprieve”.  I miss their art work. Scarlet Leaf, my second Canadian publisher after AWS, took Reprieve and Down in the Dirt took War.  Many publishers have a short life span I have learned, and getting accepted may mean that your story won’t be available long or at all.

Despite getting most of my leads from Duotrope, not all of my publishers are listed there.  Insert, Swings And Roundabouts and Nugget Tales were not in Duotrope.  S&R and Nugget Tales were good leads that I got from becoming a twit (@dougiamm), except that both are dead now.  Insert, after publishing a couple of my stories, went on hiatus, but has restarted lately.

Nugget Tales was my go to publisher not only because they encourage me, but they have art, a list of blog likes and reader comments.  They must have a truly international readership from their base in Manchester England, because the blogger likes come from Africa and Asia as well as the U.S. and Europe. Nugget Tales has been the place for of my multiple story series.  “Californication” had five episodes published, but was orphaned.  The aforementioned “smart car” has fifteen episodes.  “Cell” (torture – now in Yellow Mama) published there was one of my short stories with twist ending, similar to “Dark And Stormy” (gothic – now In Short Humour).  My attempt to get the insect horror story “Fly” into another journal for Halloween didn’t work, but Nugget Tales took it.  Now Commuter Lit has it.

The Californication series allows me to vent about the wretched writing in our local newspaper, the Oregonian.  The Oregonian is probably only one example of the horrors in mass media.  The newspaper seems to have decided that “affect” and “effect” need to be eliminated and replaced by “impact”.  It is apparent to them that all group names must be followed by “community”.  There is no longer any such thing as “scientists”; there is only “the scientific community”.  Likewise, there are no “problems” or “mistakes”, only “issues”.  And. Clauses. Are. Gone. Replaced. By.  Short.  Choppy.  Sentences.  Beginning.  With.  Conjunctions.  Somehow the undefined, overused “People Of Color” shows political correctness, while “Colored People” shows racism.  Am I a “person of color” if I’m pink-brown-white and have an aboriginal ancestor?  To be clear, it is the term to which I object.  Sometime “pre” was converted to “early” from its original meaning “before”.  “Hopefully” is used hopelessly.

My inner curmudgeon believes that these changes are consciously or otherwise meant to lower the level of intelligence of Americans and create a non-judgmental society.  It is a part of the abhorrence of competition, the “everybody gets a participation trophy” cabal, and a movement from using writing to convey knowledge to using it to avoid clarity.

Rudolf Flesch, creator of the Flesch Test (not as much fun as it sounds) to measure readability is largely to blame.  He wrote a formula which emphasized short sentences with short words for ease of reading.  As an actuary I had to write contracts which got good Flesch scores.  I suspect that media use something like that to produce low grade prose.   

The preceding rant was sponsored by @dougiamm.  We now return you to your regularly scheduled story. 

Writing sequels follows the Hollywood pattern of lowering production costs and continuing a winner until it dies at the box office.

Swings And Roundabouts took the short sci-fi series “Ray”, “New Mexico” and “Worldwide” then died.  Now the series is in Down In The Dirt.

“Court” about religion shopping has an interesting history.  It was turned down by Donut Factory, a publisher in Berkeley across the San Francisco Bay from where we used to live in Marin, but then they reversed themselves.  That was the only time a decision has changed without an intervention by me.  In the meantime, Story Shack had accepted it.  After some back and forth, I found that both could publish it because Story Shack (my first Netherlands publisher) is strictly online and Donut Factory is strictly paper.  Another first is that I will consult with an artist for the Story Shack publication.  My second Story Shack publication was “Spin”, a spin on classic science fiction, “The Day The Earth Stood Still”.

Down In The Dirt is a favorite .  They have both of my stories under a pseudonym and took “Meds”, a crime story, “Sensate” (a stab at new age) and “Asteroid”, the unification of the Swings And Roundabout series.  “Asteroid” appeared in an eponymous paper magazine of theirs.  After AWS died, they took “Testament” (legal humor).  At one point in 2014, I thought that my writing would be done that year.  Down In The Dirt books including some of my stories will be published until 2019 on paper, which extends my writing to four plus years.  Some of their future issues will have two stories of mine, and all of my online stories in Down In The Dirt will appear in one to three magazines.

“Gate”, one of the stories in in Synchronized Chaos, opens up a secret society.

Probably because I met a Sasquatch on Mt. Hood (I have a picture to prove it), I wrote series of six interviews called “Prime” with abominable snowmen (they prefer Angwin) which appeared in Occulum with good art.  I surprised they took it because I’m not their kind of writer.  Because Occulum may not continue, the “Prime” episodes 1-6 are in Short Humour.

I succeeded with my first effort at Literally Stories with “The Dumb”, my parody of bad Stephen King, and followed that up with “When Planets Miss” (a riff on 1950s sci fi), “Cat Of Hanley” (part of the reanimation series),” Nose” (bonkers show business) and “Better” (flames “reality” shows).  “Better” (from Nugget Tales) was offered in parental guidance to LS but they took the sanitized version as did Down In The Dirt.

The Hanley reanimations series is scattered.  The first three episodes are in Fiction On The Web, the fourth is in Literally Stories and the last is in Synchronized Chaos.

Potluck had supported me early, but had not accepted anything lately until “Half”, the story of a limited life.

Rejections are usually not a problem.  One publisher wanted correct grammar in dialogue, which made no sense to me, and then I got a rejection from them based largely on comma placement in a very short story, even though two humans and Word had accepted the placement of commas.  I had no idea about the value of the story other than the alleged excess or deficiency of commas.  It was a comma-dy that left me comma-tose.   I made it clear that they would hear nothing more from me, when I should have withdrawn quietly.  I subsequently apologized for my churlishness.

“Brave New Word”, a possibly humorous approach to rejection which referenced the Terminator obliquely is in 365 Tomorrows.

When I just want to get something published and I have a bit of humor sitting around, I send it to Short Humour.  I thought I might be overdoing it, and then heard that the publisher was welcoming the one hundredth publication from one of their authors.

Of my horror stories “Shower of Power” is a version of haunted house stories and “Dig” a murderous turn on my park stewardship, which have been accepted by Yellow Mama (the nickname of the Alabama electric chair).

“House” in Scarlet Leaf is a multi-genre story with crime, sex and humor 

“The Other Side Of This Life” is a break from genre themes which ended up in Scarlet Leaf.  “Dump” about the future of a bad unnamed president was hard to place because most journals were not fond of political fiction.  It ended in Eskimo Pi after many rejections.  Eskimo Pi has not cared for anything else from me.  “Ubik” was inspired by a story and movie that I remembered from more than fifty years ago.  The alien plant genre is fairly small, but I wanted to do it.  “Ubik” (Storyland) doesn’t resemble the plants in “Day Of The Triffids” much beyond being alien plants, but that was my plan.  “I Dream Of Satan” (Soft Cartel) opens up romantic disaster and lost nightmares.  Soft Cartel also took my somewhat autobiographical story of love and loss “Final Frontier”.  Wagon of India accepted “I Dream Of Satan” after Soft Cartel did.  Wagon did not do reprints and I really wanted my first Asian publication, so I wrote a similar story “Universal Journey” which Wagon then accepted.

Finding the Canadian Dirty Pool turned out well.  Before they took a break, they published “Mild” as mentioned, “Pass” about the pain of choosing a password, and “Bomb” which introduces Jimbo Bomb.

“Vigilant” in Literally Stories is narrated by a new superhero, the Curmudgeon and is based on the peeves of the author.  Commuter Lit also took it.  “Here”, one of the Vernonia Trilogy that was in the defunct AWS, is in Scarlet Leaf.

 “Barberian” based on a haircut became a very short rom-com in the third issue of Furtive Dalliance.  It was my third try at FD and it seems to be the charm.  “My Kind Of Town”, meta fiction about a horror writer’s inspiration is in Down In The Dirt.  The horror “Welcome” is in Commuter Lit. “Amnesia” in Wilderness House is based on my real amnesia and the metaphorical cases throughout history.  “Licorice” was once split into two stories, but has been consolidated and published in Medium.  It is my version of “Lost World”, but with extrasensory perception and without dinosaurs.  The last two are the only ones never published anywhere yet.  While searching for a new plot, I found that someone had requested a sequel to Literally Story’s “When Planets Miss.  That led to the earth’s survivors landing on Renn in “Extraterrestrial”, also in Literally Stories.  I combined those two LS stories into “Three Planets” which are in Cafe Lit and Eskimo Pie.

“Barberian” will also get a brief 10 minute show in the annual “Flash Flood” online show of flash fiction.

Two space stories, were written about the same time, “Space Force vs. Space Squids” in response to the new publication “Space Force” and “Brave Newt World” inspired by watching the third version of “The Thing From Another World”.  “Brave Newt World” was read at a Synchronized Chaos meeting in Portland and was published therein.  By mistake, “Space Force vs. Space Squids” was published there also.  The story that I started to write for the Synchonized Chaos reading ended up being “smart car 16 – Unification”.

“Inpler” (the future of the English language – Potato Soup), Altared States (partly autobiographical romance gone bad – in Bull & Cross, my first Spanish publication), “Interview” (god talks – in Café Lit) and “Balance” (Wilderness House) are my recent efforts.  My quest for getting reprints continues “Switch” and “Jen” and “Gate” (Written Tales), “Half” (Down In The Dirt), “Do Nothing” (Eskimo Pie) “A Life Examined” (Yellow Mama), “Dark” (Commuter Lit) and “Ubik” ( Corner Bar).

Sam Kandej has been a huge help.  He set up blog https://doug.car.blog/ which includes all of my writing under my name and two others that have some of my writing: https://tale.code.blog/ with “Final Frontier”, “Lessons” and “I Dream Of Satan” and https://flashfiction.ir/ with “Bike Killer”, Cat of “Hanley” and “What?”.

From reading a lot of short stories on the internet, I perceive that there are two basic kinds of stories.  There are stories with a plot.  Those are my kind.  There are stories with feelings and ambience.  Those are not my kind.  Despite my preference for writing stories with a plot, I can enjoy reading either kind.

Some might say “I can’t choose my favorite story.  It’s like choosing my favorite child.”  I can choose.  “Old” is my favorite story, because it connects to places that I know and has a lot of different things going on.  I wouldn’t write something I didn’t like, but “Old” touches more bases than the rest.

Some submission facts:

 “Prodigal Father” took 2 minutes to be accepted at Synchronized Chaos and 3 days to be published.

When “Soul” was accepted at Oblong I was surprised to find out I was a British writer.

With a couple of exceptions, publishers have not offered a chance to rewrite after a rejection.

Wifiles published one of my stories without letting me know it was accepted.

One publisher was rejecting so many stories, my rejection showed up in junk mail.

I made a mistake of submitting to the prestigious local publication “Tin House” which I later learned had a Duotrope acceptance rate of .15% or one in 667.

I was surprised that my insider story about the record setting Portland State College Bowl team couldn’t find a local taker on the fiftieth anniversary of that event.  This writer is largely without publication in his own region to paraphrase.

Most stories are not inspired by the intended publisher.  An exception is “Open Letter To Cheryl Strayed” (Beechwood Review Issue 2).  It seemed ideal for Black Heart, which was looking for open letters to writers.  Two hundred or so days later I got a form rejection.  At that, I withdrew my other submission, “Coots”.  “Open Letter” ended up also being accepted at Bread and Beauty after 1285 days, a surprise and a record for me.

Some favorite authors – P.D. James, Jim Thompson, Dashiell Hammett, Stephen King and one “new guy” Dennis Lehane.

Writer Anecdotes:  The title “1984” was chosen by reversing the digits in the year it was written.  Sue Grafton named her hometown Santa Teresa in homage to Ross MacDonald’s fictional Santa Teresa (the real Santa Barbara).  Jim Thompson said there is only one plot “Things are not as they seem.”  Dashiell Hammett was the real thing, Raymond Chandler was not.  Neither was nice.   Ross MacDonald and P. D. James were different from most of the other mystery writers in that their stories went way beyond solving a mystery.  Stephen King can write faster than I can read.  After reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s work, H. Ryder Haggard claimed he could do better and wrote “She” and “King Solomon’s Mines”.

According to Duotrope I have 180 acceptances, 5 pending, 129 withdrawals, 8 never responded and 333 rejections (7/15/2019).  These numbers do not cover some magazines not listed in Duotrope, such as Insert and Nugget Tales.  I think of acceptances as hits, withdrawals as walks and rejections as strikeouts.  I’m not good at sports analogies.

My goal is to publish the “Doug Book” of collected writings without paying anyone to do it.  I don’t know if I have a novel in me, since I can’t get up to 1,000 words a day very often, but am slowly working on the Vernonia trilogy involving a fictional president, guru and rocker.  The one about the guru (“Here”), and the one about the rocker (Eagle) are serialized in AWS.  I’m planning to pull a Hollywood and do some sequels, starting with “Smart Car 2”.  I’d like to find a collaborator, a real writer to implement my wonderful ideas, or maybe quit.

******************************************************************

The listing of my writing got easier with a website https://sites.google.com/site/aberrantword/ , blog https://doug.car.blog/ and a twit handle @dougiamm.

An earlier version was in AWS (defunct). AWS said the sequel was more like a blog. Good idea. From now on, I will update this occasionally.

Starting 11/29/2019 the change log will here at the end to make my life easy:

11/29/2019 Welcome is in Spillwords, Testament will appear in Wilderness House. Both are reprints.

12/27/2019 Short and Altared States appear in Written Tales

12/30/2019 Bhopal 2 accepted at Yellow Mama Industrial catastrophe

1/21/2020 Intimate accepted at World Of Myth Cybersexuals / Sex Robots work action

1/22/2020 Comparo in Short Humour and Old in Scarlet Leaf male literature vs. female

2/1/2020 Interview accepted Synchronized Chaos reprint

1/30/2020 Killer accepted Detritus Final Girl

2/14/2020 Woke Up Man rejects Nirvana for secular world

4/5/2020 Sam Kandej takes the very short wine associated story Optimism

for Short Tales

4/6/2020 Die reprint accepted by Down In The Dirt

4/8/2020 Trigger accepted by Dark Dossier (3rd publication)

4/11/2020 The Other Side Of This Life accepted by Cafe Lit

4/28/2020 Found And Lost (possibly an erotic fantasy of 100 words accepted by Detritus)

4/28/2020 Serial a greatly expanded version of “Killer” accepted by Yellow Mama accepted subject to changes

4/30/2020 Down In The Dirt accepts “Woke Up” in a few hours.

5/13/2020 Dark Dossier accepts “Meds” (3rd time) for Issue 49

5/20/2020 World Of Myth accepts reprint “Spin”

6/4/2020 Spillwords accepts “Reprieve”

6/9/2020 Down In The Dirt accepts “Intimate” in a few hours (after I submit 2nd time with attachment)

6/13/2020 Daily Drunk accepts “Funerunreal” after several other submissions. “Transformer” still hasn’t been accepted. “Trash Poem” has been submitted to the only likely journal, Trashheap Zine, and I’m waiting for Detritus to open for a drabble.

6/18/2020 Teleport accepts “Asteroid” after a rewrite. Added descriptions and made it clear that Bane was narrator.

6/20/2020 World of Myth accepts “Asteroid” as a two parter.

7/2/2020 A Story in 100 Words accepts “Found And Lost” drabble

7/3/2020 Down In The Dirt accepts “Funerunreal”

7/4/2020 Yellow Mama takes “Mortuary” for Valentine’s Day 2021

7/10/2020 Down In The Dirt accepts “Altarred States”

7/15/2020 Down In The Dirt accepts “Spin”

7/17/2020 Short Humour accepts / publishes “Run”

7/31/2020 Raven Cage accepts “Licorice”

8/2/2020 The Daily Drunk accepts and publishes “A Cat Who”

8/5/2020 Patricia’s Pen Sunday Writing Challenge accepts “Freedom”

8/7/2020 Short Humour accepts and publishes “A Cat Who”

8/10/2020 Synchronized Chaos accepts “Final Frontier”

8/11/2020 Written Tales accepts and publishes “Bomb”

8/20/2020 Spillwords accepts “Swingers”

8/23/2020 Written Tales accepts and publishes “Transformer”

8/23/20 Short Humour accepts and publishes “Cell”

9/1/2020 Dark Dossier accepts “Together Again” for its November issue

9/2/2020 Written Tales accepts “Fly”

9/3/2020 Crepe & Penn accepts “Amnesia”

9/11/2020 Eskimo Pie accepts “Space Force And Corona” for November 2020

9/14/2020 Short Humour accepts and published “Son Of Simon”

9/14/2020 Terror House accepts “Adair” for publication in November

9/17/2020 Down In The Dirt accepts “Son Of Simon” for publication 9/18/2020

2 thoughts on “Amateur

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