Short Story Rejections And Manuscript Plans

Last month’s update was all about the heady, heights of getting a poem accepted by Ink Sweat & Tears. This the rejections have been rolling in, and by rolling in, I mean there were two of them. One poetry rejection, and another polite decline for my short story ‘The House on Lime Street.’ The poetry submission was a simultaneous submission, so the poems are out elsewhere and I’m going to let those run their course before attempting any major edits and resubmitting elsewhere. ‘The House on Lime Street’ is another matter. This is rejection number nine for that particular story and it’s been through a number of edits each time. However, since the last redraft, I had a short story professionally edited by the fantastic Debbi Voisey and she passed on some particular hand tips for strengthening my short fiction. Along with a three am wake up, curtsey of my 9 and 1/2 month-old daughter, I’ve cobbled together what I believe to be a reasonable plan to make this piece into a publishable story. Tuesday is the deadline for the Bridport Prize so I’m hoping to have it ready to go out by then, and if it gets thrown back again, I can celebrate having the tenacity and stubbornness to rack up ten rejections on the same story. 

At the moment I seem to be in the middle of a hectic writing phase. Yesterday I hit 15,000 words of my current novel after not working on it for a couple of weeks post holiday. I wrote 20,000 words in March and April but I found that I’d managed to skip from one major event to the next and missed all the connecting bits, so I’ve returned to the start to fill those in. 

Last weekend was the Stafford Literature Festival where I read as part of their poetry event. There were some fantastic networking opportunities, and I had some time to kill before the readings, as I accidently turned up an hour early. I met the director of Fawn Press and found out that they have June submission window for poetry pamphlets. This is fantastic timing as my pamphlet ‘Stone Tongued’ (previously called Water, Witches and Women) is really close to being finished. I now need to polish up the poems and decide what order they should go in, before sending it off for judgement. If you’re wondering where the inspiration for this collection came from, I stumbled across the story of Kathryn Garner who was tried and found innocent of witchcraft in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. She’s not mentioned in my blogpost about the history of Shropshire witchcraft as I wasn’t able to track down any of the source material for myself, but I did write her into a poem which was published by Riverbed Review. I then started looking for other women in history and myth that had been mistreated in an attempt to give their voices a place to be heard. 

Putting together a manuscript has the added bonus of giving me chance to review all the poems that are going into it. I’ve not sent out any poetry submission this month, (I’ve only sent off one submission full stop), so I will be checking the Robin Houghton spreadsheet of poetry journals to see who I can start throwing poems at. I’ve allocating the first two wees of June as poetry weeks, so I don’t run myself into the ground trying to finish this short-story and get poems sent off to journals. 

With two poetry events to attend next week (The Button Warehouse -Wednesday 01/06/2022, and Shrewsbury Poetry – 02/06/2022) I know I need to pace myself. Wonderfully, I’ve actually got a ten minute set at the Shrewsbury’s Poetry zoom so time needs to be allowed to plan which poems I want to read. 

Ten minutes is quite a long time for a poet… I could read so many different poems!

Keep an eye out for a post in the next couple of days, because I’ve been experimenting with poems and visa-print again. This time I’ve taken my poem ‘When The Muse Spits Blood’ and paired it with one of my sketches to make 50 postcards. This will be a limited run, numbered and signed, to accompany copies of my collection that are purchased directly through myself. I’ve been pointed in the direction of a handy shop feature that I might be able to implement on this site so redirecting people to Amazon isn’t my only choice. Alongside the new postcards, I’ve invested in some lovely tissue paper, and branded stickers to make deliveries a bit prettier which I will showcase for you all as soon as it all turns up. 

Until then, I wish you all productive and enjoyable weekends. Please do stop by in the comments below and let me know of your current writing projects and triumphs. If you’ve had a poem or short story published, feel free to share it. For now, I have a hill to go and climb. 

When The Muse Spits Blood

These gums are splinter strewn with pencil shards
from musing on ideas,
chewing the fat,
picking bones from the meat of a thought
until it sits on the page just right
stripped to sinew,
muscles drawn tight
pure power
in a few dangerous words.

Universe On AutoSave #DVerseProsery

The coffee was cold, and the machine broken. Gabriel checked the plug, tried wiggling it in the socket and swore as the thing zapped him.
‘Smooth brother.’ Raphael stood with his head still bent over the control panel across the room. ‘If you’re done playing around, I need you to check these stability levels.’ He waved at a series of flashing lights.
‘Why call them that?’ Gabriel sucked the burn on his finger and edged towards the controls. ‘There’s nothing stable about this realm. Why bother keeping things ticking over. Why not fix it all, or simply hit the kill switch?’
Raphael’s brow tightened.
‘I prefer keeping in mind, even the possibility, that existence has its own reason for being. We’re here to keep the others from tampering.’
‘Makes more sense to let them.’
‘No brother, there is no sense in endings at all.’

I prefer keeping in mind even the possibility that existence has its own reason for being.

Wisława Szymborska, ‘Possibilities

Tonight’s line for the prosery prompt was chosen by Merril, and is perhaps one of my favourite, ever, prompts. 144 words doesn’t feel like quite enough for this wonderful line, so I might have to come back to it later on and work this into a longer piece because ideas have been sparked, and it would be a shame to let them fizzle out.

The Walls Whistle – Flash Fiction #DVersePoets

They bought the house new, especially to avoid these sorts of things.
There is nothing behind the wall, except a space where the wind whistles, and it always whistles. Even on still days, when the plastic windmills in the neighbour’s garden don’t clatter, and Gregory Mutt’s union jack is slummed around its flagpole, the wind whistles!
‘I don’t quite understand what you want?’ the contractor explained. ‘There’s nothing to explain where a draught would be getting in, and we’ve checked all your external walls.’
‘Listen though!’ Jenny hauled him through the kitchen by the front of his shirt, pressed her face to the lilac paint. ‘It’s whistling now!’
The contractor stared at her, wide eyed, and a little sweaty.
‘Aye,’ he croaked, ‘I hear it.’
She yanked him closer.
‘You will,’ she said, quiet now. ‘You will be the one to make it stop.’

It’s the end of a long day and I still have words to write for NaNoWriMo, but I’m taking a little break to pop over to the dVersePub and see what delights they have in store for tonight’s prompt. They’ve yet to dissapoint!

Plan Gone To Ancient Crete #FlashFiction #WritingPrompt

Grinning, the newsreader finished his story and muttered something half-funny to the reporter next to him. Edmund muted the sound and redialled Atlas, flicking crumbs off his armchair as the phone rang.
‘Heyyyyyy mateyyy…’ Atlas’ voice trailed off.
‘Problems with your connection?’ Edmund asked. The newsreader handed over to the hot weather guy, Edmund tried to remember his name, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. Something like Phil, or maybe Mark.
‘Yeah, the line’s bad and I-’ Atlas broke off. ‘Look mate, I’m sorry I hung up on you, I didn’t mean to answer the call, I was dealing with a bank robbery and I forgot my phone was in the suit.’
‘Bet everyone still came out alive though.’
There was a pause. Edmund tracked the weatherman as he indicated high pressure coming in from the west.
‘You ran headfirst into a train Ed. What did you think was going to happen? The way Tulis tells it, you damn near split your skull like an egg.’
‘Bruised noggin’, nothing more. Stopped the train.’
‘And killed every, single passenger on board.’
‘Most were dead already. Didn’t do them no harm really.’
The weatherman was wrapping up, the camera panning back to the newsreader.
‘Heard you got some certificate,’ Edmund said. The newsreader was grinning again, all teeth and thin lips. Atlas had thin lips, thin nose too, and beady little eyes. A wonder anyone trusted him. Beady eyes were better than a monster out of myth.
‘It’s the Nobel Peace Prize, not a certificate.’
‘Papers, paper,’ Edmund shrugged.
‘It’s not- ah forget it. Look I got to get going, I’ve still got reports to fill out and the league wants me to drop by once I’m done here.’
‘What about?’
‘I- er- I’m not sure.’
Edmund tapped his finger against the chair and sucked in a breath.
‘They want you to deal with me,’ he guessed.
‘No, no, I’m sure it’s not that.’
He pressed the off button, listened to the empty apartment around him.
‘Ed?’
He kept listening.
‘Ed?’
‘Hey Atlas,’ he said quietly. ‘I think someone’s here.’


Image by Artie_Navarre from Pixabay

Write a 350 word story in the adventure genre. It’s about a superhero and should include a certificate. Also use the sentence ‘Sorry I hung up on you
I didn’t mean to answer the call.’ Bonus prompt: Your character is fearless to the point of stupidity.

https://thestoryshack.com/tools/writing-prompt-generator/

It’s been a while since I made use of one of the writing prompts from The Story Shack, mostly because I’ve been writing more poetry than flash fiction over the past couple of years. I think a little variation is good to stretch to writing muscles however.

I’d love to hear any feedback you have on how this format reads. I’m still trying to get to grips with the new block editor so any comments will be greatly appreciated.

Beyond The Past And After Hours #Prosery

‘He existed once you know?’

Janet turned from her monitor, squinted into the gloom.

‘Who now?’ she asked. The hands on the wall clock glowed faintly. Half-seven, closing time was long past and James was still bent over the archive’s central table.

‘This,’ he said, and circled his hand over the papers in front of him, ‘this all belonged to someone who existed. Now all that’s left to mark his existence are cargo lists, household receipts, and half a letter to his land agent.’

‘That’s more than some have,’ Janet shrugged.

‘But how can someone be boiled down to so little? We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of time and know less than was once understood.’

‘We work with what we have.’

‘But it’s not enough!’

‘It must be. We can’t turn back time, only save what remains.’  


I’ve spent most of today going through history books, journals, and archive online materials to write a post about the history of witchcraft in Shropshire, so I’m feeling a little nostalgic for my time in archives among old letters and documents. For those of you interested in Early Modern history I’ve included the link here.

I do wonder what it will be like for historians hundreds of years from now. If blogs will help with reconstructing the past, or if the overload of information will cause more chaos that clarity. Perhaps something will happen to destroy all the electronically archived information, and we will return to a world of paper and ink. If we are remembered, will it be accurately?