Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Rejection Project - S.P. Miskowski

My relationship with S.P. Miskowski goes back to my first published book with Omnium Gatherum. She's a force in Dark Fiction. She edited the wonderful LITTLE VISIBLE DELIGHT where your's truly has a cool story, so needless to say, I don't associate her with rejection. But I asked her about it all the same. Here's what she said:

My first story publication, in a small press magazine, happened in the late 1980s. From 1993-2008 I worked in theater, and then returned to writing short stories. The technology for submitting stories has changed but my approach remains the same. And most of my stories have been published. Here's my best advice.

Edit your work mercilessly. Aim to write your best story, every time. Give your manuscript to a trusted colleague, for notes. Edit again. Proofread the final draft. Keep the cover letter simple and direct. Don't brag or embellish. Be polite. Only submit work after taking a look at the editor's previous publications. Know your editor's interests. Don't send cosmic horror to an editor who prefers bizarro, or vice versa. This is the best way to avoid rejection.

And a certain amount of rejection is inevitable. It's part of a writer's life. You're not a writer if you can't cope with rejection. I don't have a ritual or habit regarding rejection, except to take it in stride and keep going.

Write back to the editor who rejected your work and say thanks for considering it and best wishes on the anthology or magazine. Never argue with the editor's decision. He does not have to choose your work, or recognize your talent. He doesn't have to give you notes to help you improve the story. It isn't his job to invest in you. It's your job to write fiction people want to publish.

Don't dwell on rejection. Get back to work, on something new. Set aside the rejected story until you can read it objectively. Then see if you need to make more changes to improve the story. Find another publication suitable for the story, and submit it.

That's all. Keep writing. Keep getting published and/or rejected. Only submit your best work, and submit it to an appropriate market. Be professional in all of your interactions with editors. Expect nothing. Your role as a writer is nothing. The story at hand is everything.

Good luck!


S.P. Miskowski's four-book series, the Skillute Cycle, is published by Omnium Gatherum. Two of the books were finalists for Shirley Jackson Awards. Her stories have appeared in Black Static, Supernatural Tales, Other Voices, and Identity Theory, and in the anthologies October Dreams II and Little Visible Delight. She has stories forthcoming in the anthologies Cassilda's Song, The Hyde Hotel, and The Leaves of a Necronomicon. She's the recipient of a Swarthout Award and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Rejection Project - Robert DiBella

Robert DiBella
Today we hear from Robert DiBella a published author and an old friend of mine. We met through Rainstorm Press, the first publisher who ever sent me an acceptance letter and the force behind Robert's two published novels. His new book TEN NAMES just came out. I asked him about rejection and got this:


Robert: Rejection is not easy. I thought the hardest part of writings would be actually finishing the novel. Once it was done I felt that I worked too hard on it for people not to like it. The first challenge a writer faces (after finishing their work) is that hard reality. For every one yes that you get there a thousand no's. 

I must have sent query letters to hundreds of publishers and lit agents. I sent out so many that one publisher responded "Mr. DiBella we write children's books... Why did you send us this?" They were right for not taking it, like ten people got shot in chapter one alone, my story wasn't a children's book. 

I'm a big believer in the cliche what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, with every rejection letter and no reply your writing skin gets tougher. My advice to new writers is always to stay the course. In the digital age there are so many small presses and agents looking for e-books and other outlets to sell novels. Somewhere out there is an agent or a publisher whose gonna love your story. 

I was referred to Rainstorm Press by a good friend in college. When I called up the publisher and asked about my query he said it's a cool story and we're gonna pick it up. I was so excited, I was never the kind of kid who read books, let alone write one. Now I was getting published!! It was a bit over whelming, all the rejections made that moment feel that much better. Getting published really kind of changed my life, it opened up a new world of opportunities and I also love to read now! 

Rainstorm Press just published Ten Names, the sequel to my first novel. Check it out on Amazon and Barnes and Nobles website. 



Wednesday, May 13, 2015

THE FINGER TRAP - Cover Reveal

When the only way out is deeper in...

Coming this Fall from Jolly Fish Press - THE FINGER TRAP, the first Tony Flaner mystery.

Check out this cover!

Tony Flaner is a malingering part-time comedian, full-time sarcastic, who’s never had it hard, and never finished a thing in his life. He’s had twelve years to prepare for his divorce and didn’t. He had his entire life to choose a career and hasn’t. Now time’s up, and he’s in a world of trouble. But it gets worse. A first date and a drunken party ends with Tony facing prison for the murder of a girl he hardly knew.

Other than that, it was a pretty great party.

To save himself, wise-cracking Tony must discover who the mysterious girl was, what she was involved in, and what the hell she saw in him in the first place. Their lives are linked together at the ends of a Chinese finger trap, like life and death, friends and enemies, arugula quiche and pigs knuckles.

An adult comic detective noir — murder and mayhem, cops and robbers, poisons and puppets, sarcasm, social commentary and a mid-life Peter Pan crisis we can all admire.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rejection Project - Max Booth III

Max Booth III
As I mentioned in last week’s Blog Mansion I’m exploring the phenomenon of rejection among writers. I contacted a slew of authors and presented them with some seed questions to get them thinking about their rejections. They could either take the questions as prompts or answer them straight up.

To get you an idea of the questions and to start with a bang, I bring you the very busy and scary Max Booth III.

Max Booth III is the author of Toxicity and The Mind is a Razorblade. He’s the Editor-in-Chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and an ongoing columnist at LitReactor and Slush Pile Heroes. He works as a hotel night auditor in a small town outside San Antonio, TX. Follow him on Twitter @GiveMeYourTeeth and visit him at

How do you deal with rejection? Do you have a ritual? Do you save your rejections? Keep count?

I’ve been a diehard Chicago Cubs fan all my life, so I think this has helped numb me from rejection. Rejection is simply one of the necessities of being a writer. Even the best porn star in the world can’t get it up every scene, you know? You just have to keep practicing. I do not save my rejections, no. Maybe I should, then I wouldn’t accidentally submit the same story twice to certain markets. I think maybe I’m developing an early case of Alzheimer’s. It’s in my family, so why not. It’s a better explanation than me just being an idiot. 

What was the best rejection you ever received?

I collect two to three rejections every month, so it’s hard to keep track. I don’t know if I would qualify any of them as “best”, though. The more I think about it, I’d say the best rejection I’ve ever gotten was from Post Mortem Press. I submitted my novel, Toxicity, to them, and they eventually passed. So I rewrote it a few times and made it a novel worth reading, then sent it again. Bam. Accepted. What I’m saying is, the best rejections are those that motivate you to improve. 

What was the worst rejection you ever received?

Probably the time Nightmare rejected me in like twenty minutes. One day they will love me.

Strangest/most memorable reason for rejection?

You know how we include our cell phone numbers in our cover letters never expecting editors to call us? Well guess what? Yeah. This lunatic calls me up one day and rants for twenty minutes about how first-person stories are ruining the world of writing, Guy says any respectable editor will never accept a story written in first-person. Obviously this editor was Anthony Giangregorio. And yeah, I laughed a whole lot when I inserted the word “editor” in the previous sentence.

What are you shopping now?

A little bit of gold buried in a lot of shit.