Note: deadlines listed at the end as per usual, clickable and updated.
But first, today, since I seem to be drawing closer to my goal, I thought I would start by revisiting some of my personal history behind my current goal of 100 rejections. It's a history of not quite making it or giving up too soon or life getting in the way. What happens to many of us creatives I suppose.
I've always loved reading and writing from early on. There's some book I cannot recall the title of, but it was a prefect creative, artistic journal with lots of open-ended, dreamy exercises that I remember toying with at an early age. Not to mention playing with my siblings in the various yards of each house my family moved into based on whatever latest deal my mother found. We pretended to travel into fantastic worlds while explore the amazing environment of Oregon. And lots of imagination-based gaming and whatnot with my friends. In elementary school, I smothered journals with words and pictures for my teachers, in particular Mr. Covey, with maps of fantastical lands, mind working through how I would immerse myself in those places.
I won an elementary school essay writing contest at one point, snagging grand prize. A whole set of massive, shiny, gold-flaked encyclopedias and dictionaries was an awesome prize at the time. I joined a writing conference for young writers which pushed me to develop my immersive writing further; the only sketch I remember is this piece set in the jungle with a leopard that drew a lot on the suspense and darkness of Ray Bradbury's The Illustrated Man. I read stacks of books, played a ton of games, and felt poetic about the world. In high school, I was writing a ton of rhythmic poetry and I joined a slam poetry event once wearing the perfect grungy beatnik style get-up, an experience I carried into college. Landed me on the front page of the newspaper.
Later on, I won an essay writing contest in community college. After a year of community college, I traveled around Europe for five months, and wrote a ton of poetry and story sketches, immersing myself in scenes that I would use later in a few university writing courses, in particular one on meshing multi-media with writing, and with a travel writing course. Plenty of writing and literature courses, but the best was the KIDD intensive writing program, during which I worked on a thesis project related to Japan-USA relations, implementing character studies, social studies, relationship issues, and language issues. That program was such a wonderful experience, joining forces with the other writers in my group. I won 3rd place for fiction for a story (novel excerpt) I wrote called Lost Woman. It included Japanese language and dealt with feminist and international culture clashes. I believe it was 5000-7000 words. They paid about $100. Most I'd ever been paid for my writing.
At the time, I thought I'd done a lot. Looking back, I could've done so much more. But regardless, it was a terrific experience. I dropped the ball for a while after.
I wrote scattered poems about ghosts and loneliness in my neighborhood in greater Tokyo, since lost along with everything before 2012, I believe. From 2012 or so I started reading more speculative fiction, especially the online magazines. Eventually, a friend invited me to join his writing group and we tried out some NaNoWriMo writing and other writing. It was great. So much motivation and I now have 3-5 novels I need to fix up and send out. I even pitched two of those novels to agents at the Willamette Writers Conference in 2017. There was a lot of interest. I just needed to send them samples!
Then I got back home. The difficulty of balancing work and having a family and writing landed on me, and I never got those samples sent out. Then family life worsened and a sudden child custody battle and divorce tore apart my life. I pushed through the battle to make sure my children would have a father and I pushed through the recovery phase using workouts and DJing to try and stay focused and forward-thinking. Finally, I got back to writing and submitting to Writers of the Future from 2019. Rejections, even though I was putting in the work and the stories were great. I knew I had good writing on my hands so I kept at it. I also knew I'd need an extra push, so I found Wulf Moon's writing group on the Writers of the Future forum. And after seeing another writer mention such a challenge to write more (I believe it was Eric Witchey), I pushed myself to try and make at least 100 submissions in 2020. I assumed they would be rejections, but that act of submitting would push me to revise and create more anyway, much as workouts and DJing had pushed me to crawl out of my dark hole of broken family and destroyed fatherhood.
I want everyone to consider how important pushing through rejections to keep submitting can be. If I had continued doing that from 2005 until now, I certainly would have been a happier person, realizing my dreams, instead of crawling back toward them while trying to meet basic needs.
Whatever excuses I make for having done nothing much from 2005 to 2014, it was a mistake. Since 2005, I haven't received any wins to speak of, not really, but the energy I've put in this year, has helped me get closer and closer to my primary dream of sharing my fantastical worlds and stories with the public at large.
8/29, Community Chest Contest (Pacifica Literary Review), ~5,000 words (up to 3 poems), $350, Genre: General, one winner per contest category (fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction), Theme: no theme but slighly favors entries dealing with our current reality in some manner
8/31, The SLF $500 Diverse Writers and $500 Diverse Worlds Grants; these are two different grants; to apply provide a ~500-word description of projects, a ~5000-word writing sample, a bibliography of previously published work if any, and for the Diverse Writers grant only provide a brief statement of what aspect of your background relates to diversity; Application Process: Send the 3-4 items listed above to our diversity grant jury as attached .doc files, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a brief cover letter with your name and contact info (e-mail, phone in case of emergency), and please note which grant(s) you’re applying for; Note: "Writers may apply for either or both grants. Please note: your project does not need to center on identity issues. We also do not expect or want work that simply attempts to check off all the boxes in a tokenistic way, but rather are looking for writing that offers deep characterization, complex cultural landscapes, and strong literary quality overall."
8/31, Strange Horizons (Mexico Issue), ~4000, 10¢/word, Genre: any speculative, Note: only for Indigenous people in Mexico, Mexican people, and people of Mexican origin
9/1 or early September, A Multiplicity of Stories, 900-10,000 words, $100CAD/story ($50CAD reprints), Genre/Theme: various spec/various interests that include city planning, climate change, possible futures, and alt history
8/12-9/4 Uncanny Magazine, 750-6000 words, 10¢/word, Genre: SF/F Wants: "intricate, experimental stories and poems with gorgeous prose, verve, and imagination that elicit strong emotions and challenge beliefs. Uncanny believes there’s still plenty of room in the genre for tales that make you feel." Note: currently closed to poetry.
9/4, On the Premises Short Story Contest 36, 1000-5000 words, prize money (1st $220, 2nd $160, 3rd $120, HM $60), Theme: Smell, Genre: any except children’s and gross horror, https://onthepremises.com/current-contest/
8/30-9/5, Matthew Ward Pay it Forward Writing Competition (Grimdark Magazine), ~4000 words, Genre: grimdark (SF/F), 1st Place = 7¢/word (AUS), Note: only eligibile if you haven't sold a short story that pays more than token (~US$100) or royalty only (also no published novelists)
8/28-9/20, 2000-4000 words, 8¢/word, Genre: Horror, Theme: Terrifying Ghosts, Reprints OK, Simultaneous OK, Multiple OK, Note: send stories to email@example.com and "include Terrifying Ghosts in the subject header of your submission email," Note: subscribe to Flame Tree's newsletter for advance notice of these submission windows
9/22, Reckoning: 5th Issue, ~20,000 words, 8¢/word ($30/page for poems), Genre: SF/F/General, Theme: enivironmental justic, Simultaneous OK, Poetry OK (prefer multiple 3-5 poems <10 pages, but send only one if longer)
7/1-9/30, WotF Q4, ~17000 words (aim for 3000-10,000), 8¢/word, prize money (1st $1000, 2nd $750, 3rd $500, annual grand $5000, plus Hollywood workshop; semi-finalists get feedback), Genre: F/SF, Note: contest for new writers w/o 4+ pro-level publications; the forum is very helpful, especially the Super Secrets thread; free workshop available on website
8/10-10/11 Dream Foundry Contest, Words ~10,000, prize (1st $1000, 2nd $500, 3rd $200), Note: contest for new writers (have published 4000 words or less, earned $320 or less from those words and never been nominated for a major award), Note: winners are not published but do receive critiques along with the financial reward
10/31, Chiral Mad 5, ~5000 words (poetry: ~50 lines, up to 5 poems), 6¢/word (poems:$1/line) Theme: The End Is The Beginning / The Beginning Is The End, Note: for underrepresented demographic only, "If you are not part of an underrepresented demographic (POC, LGBTQIA+, female), please do not submit at this time, but feel free to send recommendations", Note: proceeds go to BLM
11/1 Weird Christams Flash Fiction Contest (3rd annual), ~350 words, prize money (1st=$50, 2nd=$25,10+HMs=$5, Genre: SpecFic/SF/F/H/Humor/Weird, Reprints: query, Note: accepts narrative poetry, multiple entries OK
8/7-12/26, Campfire Macabre (Cemetery Media Gates), 500-1200 words, 8¢/word, Genre: Horror, Theme: Cemetery Chillers, Spook Houses, Supernatural Slashers, Witchcraft, Within the Woods, Simultaneous OK, Multiple OK (submit 1 story per theme, up to 5 stories)
8/27-12/31, THE MODERN DEITY’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING HUMANITY, DERELICT, and WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE (three anthologies from Zombies Need Brains LLC), 7500 words, 8¢/words + royalties, Theme 1: urban fantasy w/ a god/deity, Theme 2: SF/F about abandoned ships, Theme 3: SF/F about colliding cultures, Sub to firstname.lastname@example.org w/ name of anthology and title of story submitted, Multiple OK (separate emails), Reprints/Simultaneous NO
Submission Deadlines in August and Beyond (pay 1-4¢/word USD or equivalent)
8/30, Heartwreck: Romantic Disasters at Sea, 2000-5000 words, 2¢/word, Seeking personal essays and creative memoir about love gone wrong at sea
8/15-8/31, Apparition Literary Magazine, 1000-5000 words, 3¢/word, Genre: Speculative/Fantasy/SF/Horror/ Literary, Theme: Satisfaction
8/31, Spawn: Weird Horror Tales About Pregnancy, Birth and Babies, 1500-5000 words (not strict), 6c (AUD) per word, Genre: speculative, Theme: body horror related to pregnancy/birth/babies, Note: for Australian writers only, Reprints OK (sort of)
11/30, Women Destroy Retro Science Fiction, 750-1500 ($10) or 1501-2500 words ($15), Genre/Theme: retro-futurism with a female filled world of impossible wonders, Note: Women authors only (Transwomen authors accepted because transwomen are women)
Publications Open for Submission (No specified deadline; pay 5-20¢/word USD or equivalent)
TEMP CLOSED: Addition Magazine, 1000-5000 words, 8¢/word, Theme: Rebuild, Genre: General/SF, Note: if no response in 14 days assume they rejected the story
Analog Science Fiction and Fact, ~20,000 (8-10 cents/word), 40k-80k serials (6 cents/word), poetry ($1/line), 4000-word fact articles (9 cents/word), Genre: SF, Multiple Yes
Apex Magazine, ~7500 words, 8 cents/word, Genre: F/SF/Horror
Smokelong Quarterly, ~1000 words, $50/piece, Genre: Literary, Simultaneous OK, Notes on what they want: language that surprises and excites, narratives that strive toward something other than a final punch line or twist, pieces that add up to something, often (but not necessarily always) something profound or emotionally resonant honest work that feels as if it has far more purpose than a writer wanting to write a story
Dark Moon Digest, opens on the 1st every month and closes when full 1500-7000 words, 3¢/word, Genre: Horror (complex, creepy, like Twilight Zone or Black Mirror, Simultaneous OK
Perpetual Motion Machine, ~1500 words, $25/story, Genre: Horror (same as Dark Moon above)
Bourbon Penn, 2000-7500 words, 2¢/word, Genre: speculative (odd/imaginative ones), especially slipstream/cross-genre/magic realism/absurdist/surreal
Duotrope, same as above, a submission tracker and market database that requires a paid subscription for full usage, may go into a bit more depth than Grinder though not by much based on my brief trial subscription
Need motivation for the submission game?
Submission Tetris: An Analytic Approach by Laurence Raphael Brothers, a brief but useful consideration of what and where to submit in the submissions game from SFWA
Also, great advice at these links below
Charlie Jane Anders' advice: chapters from her forthcoming non-fiction book Never Say You Can't Survive with new chapters released every Tuesday
Delilah S. Dawson's page of links, including her advice on how to get published
And here, more links