An astonishing number of literary magazines nowadays say they’re looking for fantasy (or, as some phrase it, apocalyptic, fabulist, magic realist, paranormal, science fiction, supernatural, or weird stories.)
Although I’ve never been much into fantasizing, from time to time I toy with an idea just to see if I can pull it off. When Sisyphus Literary Journal invited stories with a theme of “truth”, I dug up one of those ideas, polished it, and tried a few titles (“Mona Lisa” and “The Miraculous Camera”.)
It’s a takeoff on a very old fable, and I finally chose a title that’s a broad hint to that origin — albeit most readers may not pick up on the hint until the final paragraph.
I sent “The Geppetto Camera” off in mid-June, expecting to hear nothing before their mid-September deadline. But they accepted it before I could even think about offering it elsewhere, and it’s out now. You can read it by clicking ==>>here
I spent the summer of 1951 zigzagging across the United States in my Model A Ford, aiming to have visited every one of the (then) 48 states before fetching up to begin my junior year at Cornell.
I worked my way, finding a few days’ work here and there — until I hit a strikebound South.
It’s a story I’ve told friends for years. I finally decided to write it out and get it published. Sheepshead Review in Wisconsin liked it, and you can read it on page 65 of their Summer 2021 issue ==>>here
or maybe to avoid skimming through five dozen online pages read on this blog, ==>>here
I had the idea in January, 2013: Two women, both widowed young, have been housemates for two decades. Then the one who owns the house decides to re-marry; the other has to make new plans. I sent her to Montana, trolling.
In retrospect, it wasn’t very polished; after trying two magazines, I set it aside. A year ago I resurrected it, and did some re-writing. It’s now one I really like.
So do others. I got several we-liked-it-but-aren’t-accepting-it responses (those are frustrating: encouraging but disappointing) before finally WayWords Literary Journal took it for its issue themed “connections”.
It’s out today. This is one of the few magazines that doesn’t co-publish online; they want you to buy the paperback or Kindle edition. You can, at Amazon. But you can read it at my blog, ==>>here
Most literary magazines publish stories within a few weeks or perhaps a month of acceptance. Until now, the wild outlier in my experience was Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, which accepted my Rescue within four days of submission — and then took ten months to publish it online.
Record broken: The Bookends Review accepted my Doctor’s Orders last September 17, and published it today, 10 1/2 months later! When they sent me a heads-up last week, I had to go back in my files to remember the story.
In both cases I knew it would be a long wait, but didn’t anticipate how long it would seem. In the future, I’ll give preference to those with shorter turnarounds. Samuel Beckett’s characters made him famous by waiting for something that never happens, but I’m not that patient.
Anyway, you can read it now online ==>>here
Or right ==>>at this blog
Often I’m unsure, a few months after completing a story, where the idea originated. In the case of “His Child,” I remember only that a magazine—which did NOT ultimately accept my story—wanted something “loosely based upon the concept of a pause, of silence as an action, as something empty that adds to what is there, of the emptiness someone leaves in a room. . .”
We had friends whom we visited in their home at Lake George in upstate New York. I’m sure that’s the venue I imagined. The rest is . . . imagination.
You can read it in the new edition of Remington Review. You’ll have to tab in to page 12, the first prose piece in this volume. Go to==>>
OR (easier) read right here==>>
In the spring of 2020, the magazine Halfway Down the Stairs invited pieces on the theme “upside down.” They had already published one of my stories, so I was ready to try writing something to their theme.
I looked out the window, where a house sparrow was trying to solve a bird feeder. Bingo.
In a near-record 24 days they politely declined it; they had in mind ways the pandemic had upset lives. Undaunted, I tweaked and renamed it, and began sending it to others. After a year of more rejections, Open Door Magazine wrote this week that they wanted to publish what was now “The Mighty Sparrow,” not only as the lead piece in the July online Issue 10, but also in their October print anthology.
You can download (free) Issue 10 ==>>here
Or read “The Mighty Sparrow” ==>>here
We were well into the coronavirus shutdown when the idea came to me: Suppose a couple came to a retirement community (like the one where I live) explicitly to enjoy — separately — the huge variety of activities offered. And then suppose the pandemic forced them into close quarters, on each other’s nerves?
Flora Fiction, one of America’s literary magazines that still are printed as well as online, invited submissions for its Summer 2021 issue on the theme of ‘Freedom’. They had already published one of my earlier stories; this one sounded like a good fit. You can read it online ==>>here (but that gets you to a huge PDF for a cumbersome move to page 57, so) it’s probably easier to read ==>>here
When Caustic Frolic, which published my short story “Adoptees” a year ago, announced that their theme for Spring 2021 would be “Retrospect”, I had an entry already in mind. I find daily joy in an electronic picture frame daughter Emily prepared for Brad, and which is now mine. It has a lifetime’s photos in a thin package; I called the resulting piece “In Surreal Time”. You can read it now (command/control-plus will enlarge the type) in the new issue
Or of course read it ==>>right here:
I read you four stories this afternoon. Thinking some might want to re-read them,
I thought I’d make them easy to find right here at my blog:
Find Keepsakes, that Ursula and I read to you, ==>>here
Find For Unpolished Beauty, ranching near the High Sierra, ==>>here
Find Time Passing, emphasizing a place called November Falls, ==>>here
And find Strawberries, baking a pie for a lost husband, ==>>here
For a replay of my reading (helped by Ursula Korzenik, go ==>>here
Enjoy! And thanks for giving me an audience!
Usually, when a half-dozen or so magazines have turned down one of my stories, I go back to see if I can improve it. Usually, the story is accepted on my next round of offerings. Once in a while, I have another go at improvement, but then I may stubbornly think it’s a good story and keep sending it out until some second- or third-tier magazine likes it.
My “Gigolo” set a record, turned down seven dozen times (!) before Goat’s Milk Magazine, a Canadian online litmag, accepted it.
They published it with some typos, including my name (!), but you can read it at their website, here==>>
Or at mine, right here==>>