rejection, submissions, Writing


There are a lot of services out there for writers, and one of the ones you may have seen floating about (or not!) is Duotrope. Duotrope is a website for writers and editors that facilitates finding markets to send your fiction, and tracking your fiction submissions. It has one of the most comprehensive lists of genre markets I’ve found online, compared to other sites that piecemeal lists of magazines, anthologies, and contests. It provides statistical analysis of your writing submissions, how long certain markets took to respond, whether you received an acceptance or a rejection, and how often you’ve sent submissions to a specific market, among other metrics.

I came across Duotrope years ago, probably in my earliest attempts to start submitting fiction, along with, which was my primary go-to. is a great alternative, because it’s free, and pretty up-to-date, and Ralan does a solid job of curating his list, which means you don’t get a lot of tiny, just-for-exposure markets cluttering up his site. He organizes by pay-scale (Pro, Semi, Pay) and additional market type (antho, books). Having worked with him from the magazine end back in the days of The Zombie Feed, I can say he’s rather cranky, but fair, and he didn’t give me too much trouble when we had to update a listing. Duotrope is more hands-off, submit a form, get it approved type deal. Ralan’s got a personal touch.

The catch with Duotrope is that it requires subscription, if you want to get beyond the week-long free trial. You can subscribe for $5/month or $50/year, the latter thereby saving you a month’s subscription fee for the upfront cost. For years, I would dip into Duotrope for a couple months, pay the $5 on a when-I-need-it basis in order to get access to their search feature (truly one of the exemplary elements of Duotrope is their searchability based on genre, length, pay-rate, and title (if you’re looking for a specific market)), and then dip out again. For years, it really wasn’t worth it to me to pay $50/year just to have a searchable market list. Ralan’s could pretty much serve my searching purposes, provided I didn’t mind scanning the black-background/white text website, and I’ve had plenty of luck finding good markets via his lists.

But then something changed. I actually started submitting. Before, I might submit one or two stories a year and really helicopter-mom them: I’d fret over them and wait, and wait, and wait, and query when necessary, and it was easy enough to track them from market to market and not get into trouble by accidentally resending a story to a market that had already rejected it. But a couple years ago, I started really submitting. In 2019, I had over nine stories out for submission at any given time, and let me tell you, that will mess with your mind. It’s like juggling: sometimes Story 3 that just come back will be perfect for X market, but you’ve already got Story 5 story at X market (for the past 40 days), and you need to query X market to see if Story 5 is still being reviewed, if it got bumped to a shortlist, or if they never received it and/or it got lost, and X market requires you to wait 7-10 days before submitting a new story, so… If you’re at all like me, beyond two stories, the multiple moving parts start getting impossible to keep track of efficiently. Stories come back rejected, but you forget about them because the next market on the list for them is currently occupied, or temporarily closed to submissions, or has a please-wait-after-rejection clause, so it languishes un-submitted, and then seven months later, you’re like OH CRAP, I could have had this out months ago…

I used to track my fiction entirely by hand, which worked for a while. I’d write a list of markets, their expected response times, and pay-grade in one column, and then rank them by priority, often considering which market might be the best fit (if not always the #1 best paying) for a given story. Today, this is what my hand-written tracking notebook looks like (which I still use and update as I submit, but being a hardcopy, it’s not easily searchable, and things get lost in the pages):

Scribbling, chaotic, multi-color notes.

Each story you put out there becomes its own vector for complexity, and if you don’t have a very, very good system for keeping track of what’s submitted/on-hold/rejected/accepted/lost, it’s going to be nearly impossible to be efficient about deciding where Story 9 goes when it’s ready to launch.

THIS is when I recommend spending the $5/mo on Duotrope.

My favorite feature of Duotrope is their submissions tracker. It keeps a record of your submittable stories (title, length, genre, sub-genre), and a record of every market you’ve tried that story at. Each time you submit, you just jump on Duotrope, add a new submission to the tracker, and voila-! It keeps track of a market’s expected response time (how long they say it’ll take), average response time (how long it has actually taken for other submitters), and when to expect a response. It will highlight a submission’s wait-time in red text if you’ve waited longer than the average time and might need to query. It will generate lists of where each submission has gone already, what it’s responses were, and whether it made a market’s shortlist. This, I find, is the most invaluable element of Duotrope, because it makes it easy to see a list of your current submissions and their various statuses all in one glance.

I still utilitze often, because sometimes he gets faster tips from writers about market changes than Duotrope does (for example, if a favorite market is looking to start back up again, he may put a note on that listing), but Duotrope is my second brain for all submissions. I’ve yet to come across a market that was listed on Ralan that wasn’t listed on Duotrope also, but I like to cross-reference, and Ralan’s notes on a market can be helpful in deciding if it’s a worthy market to try for. I also still utilize my paper method of tracking, mostly for a place to compile itineraries, and then jotting down any personal rejection notes. But for juggling more than two submissions, Duotrope is an absolute life-saver and has saved me a lot of confusion and embarrassment.

What’s more, at the end of the year, I can generate a report that shows all my submissions for the year, or all my personal rejections for a year, or all my acceptances, or all my rejections, and that really helps me track my progress from year to year. In fact, last year, I used Duotrope’s tracker to compare my submission rate from 2019 to my all-time best from almost a decade before, and thanks to those reports, got a much better and more realistic view of how I’m doing in my career than I would have had just trying to guesstimate.

SO! TL;DR: If you’re currently submitting more than two or three stories at a time to various markets, and are starting to find it challenging to keep track of them, I would highly recommend Duotrope. If you’re only submitting one or two stories a year, it’s probably not necessary yet. Get yourself a good notebook for tracking and make use of for some top-tier listings. Note: is a genre list, so it won’t have many purely literary markets.

P.S. – A word of warning: If you’re still heavily utilizing the Writer’s Market annual book and you’re writing primarily genre fiction: cross-check. Writer’s Market was great before the internet, but nowadays, it seems to be out-of-date almost the instant its released. Many genre markets (and well-paying ones!) are online-only, and their submissions periods can change without warning. Some markets that exist at the beginning of the year when WM is published aren’t even around by mid-year. I highly, highly recommend–if you do use WM–make sure to check accuracy with Duotrope or (or, better yet, the market itself!) before submitting. You’ll save yourself (and the editors you want to impress) a lot of headache!

Girls in the Attic, Journal, Writing

It’s Just One of Those Nights…


It’s turning into one of those nights where I throw up my hands and say, “You know what? Screw it.” (Only with stronger language…) There are several reasons I’ve lost the thread tonight. Originally, a friend and I had a Write Club scheduled, but due to unexpectedly bad weather, we had to cancel, which left a blank in my evening that I should fill with writing, but instead, now lacks the one motivating factor I had counted on to keep me going (through no one’s fault but the stinkin’ weather’s!). I’m tired. It’s Friday, and it’s a mid-weekend, which means the hubby’s working tomorrow and Sunday, which means there is no weekend for me, either. It gets long. And tiring. And the kiddo was in fits tonight after not napping and my inability to pay 100% attention to him while giving some support to a friend on the phone (that still means about 75% attention on him, btw). It’s rainy and stormy. I’m tired. I just want to relax and read Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin and watch the latest episode of Project Runway and the next episode of Gotham and just…drink a beer and chill.

In concession to my writerly dreams, I will work for five minutes retyping a scene that needs to move forward. That is my token offering. For the rest of the night, I will indulge myself and relax, because sometimes I need that, too.

Daily Check-In, editing, journa, Writing

Small Victories

Today in Mommy-Land

Trying to get back on the blogging horse! This morning, Andy, the Little Man, and I went out with my good friend K— to breakfast at Parker’s Maple Barn (deeeeelicious). Little Man had tastes of pancake, non-spicy sausage, potato fries, and french toast, which he loved very much. While K— and I caught up, he and Andy walked around. My mother got him some itty bitty baby shoes with good soles on them, and now that he’s discovered walking outside (it’s been so beautiful, weather-wise lately!), he almost never wants to stop. He looks so big wearing shoes! Like a proper toddler, and not much of a baby at all.

Yesterday, we took him to the library park for the first time, and he rode on the baby swings (pretty fun), sat on a wobbly thing (with support–kind of fascinating), spun on a whirligig with Mom (okay, kinda weird), and slid down a slide with Daddy (NOT FUN AT ALL, WHY ARE YOU TORTURING MEEEEE?!) Then we went to Mine Falls in Nashua, and walked around for quite a while. It was so beautiful out, and it’s been spoiling me something rotten to have Andy around mid-week. We figure we’ll soak it up now, since come July, I probably won’t see him for a year. XD

We also bought a pint of kumquats to try, since we’ve always toyed with the idea of getting a kumquat plant, but weren’t sure if we’d like it. I’m pleased to report, we do! They’re very citrusy–like an orange-lemon combo–with quite a tart kick, but very sweet, edible rinds. I, personally, prefer to remove the rind, since it has a way of sticking around in my teeth after I’ve eaten it, but otherwise, they’re quite tasty.

Today in Writer-Land

As is always the case when Andy’s around these days, I didn’t get any writing done yesterday, though I did start the retyping of a short story I’m editing on Monday, so that’s making slow but measurable progress. I also found out that one of my short stories, “Snap,” is being held at a really nice little small press publication, so fingers crossed on that one! Got two other rejections yesterday and today (rawr…), but got them both resubmitted this afternoon (yay!).

In keeping with the title, my small victory is this: I counted my total rejections from 2014 and 2015 (so far), and last year I got a total of 19 rejections, and so far just within the first four months of 2015, I’ve gotten 21! Now, this may not seem like a victory, but it is, and I’ll tell you why: in previous years (prior to 2014), I’m not sure I even submitted fiction 19 times. So that’s Victory #1. And then on top of that, I’ve already topped my 2014 total submissions, so I’m doing better than last year!

Here’s a question: What metrics–writing-wise–do you find helpful to track/keep a record of?

I’ve determined I need to focus more on competing with myself when it comes to writing, rather than constantly measuring myself up against more successful authors. For one, it’s not a fair measurement, because I only see the good things going on for them, and oftentimes they’ve been in the field a lot longer than I have. For two, it takes the focus off the writing, which is really the only thing I have control over. So I’m doubling-down on self-awareness and trying to be mindful about the kinds of discouraging thoughts that pop into my head on a near-constant basis. I also want to start tracking my own process metrics (total submissions, for example). I’ve been considering metrics like personalized-to-form rejections ratio from markets I submit to often, maybe word count (though that’s tricky with editing, which is most of what I’m doing these days), maybe length of project (how long it takes from when I start a new story vs. if/when I finish editing and submit it), etc. So what works for you/what data do you find interesting to follow?

It's all about the Data...
It’s all about the Data…

baby, editing, rejection, submissions, Writing

Hot Potato

Today in Mommy-Land

Pretty standard day here in Mommy-Land, though I’m feeling much less hoarder-ish since I got the massive pile of laundry all tidied up Sunday. The Little Man took two naps–one about an hour and a half long (not bad), and one short forty-minute nap (meh) in bed. My mother also had a few minutes, so she watched him for a half-hour before his nap, which allowed me to get a little writing work started.

Also divided up the Little Man’s toys into three bins in the hopes that cycling through them from one day to the next will hold more of his interest. He’s quite inquisitive, but he exhausts things so quickly! We’ll see if the bin rotation helps.

Today in Writer-Land

Rejected. Rejected, rejected, rejected! *cries* Actually, I’m not super upset, but you know how it goes. I was really hoping this one would happen, especially since it’d gotten pushed up the editorial chain of command. But I did get a very nice and encouraging rejection notice, which I definitely appreciate (…as I wallow in self-pity).

“It was really, really good, but no thanks!”

That said, I got it right back out again like a hot potato, so the infinite game continues! (Ouch! It burns! Submit! Submit! Submit!)

Also got 650+ words of the second scene started for this month’s rewrite. Took me quite a bit of time–rereading Sunday’s work–to get my shoulders into the story, but I suspect that’s just from yesterday’s heavy-duty brainstorming. It left me a bit fuzzy-headed. Ah well, there’s always tomorrow. :)

Journal, Misc, Publishing/Editing, Writing

Dr. Eponymous & The Placebo Emporium

LM_InstaPro_Product Photo2It all started with a birthday gift for my little sister back some fifteen-odd years ago. My sister was really into the idea of becoming a vet, so for her birthday, my parents saved up a bunch of old medicine containers and filled them with tic-tacs, Pez, Skittles, and Chiclets to use as “medicine” for when we played vet. It was a great–and rather inexpensive–gift that we enjoyed the heck out of for months, carefully doling out tic-tacs to our stuffed animals (and, of course, eating them ourselves) and writing prescriptions, delighting in “curing” their faux aliments.

The funny thing is that the placebo-effect is actually quite strong. A couple of years ago, my husband (currently finishing up med-school himself) found an article regarding “the placebo-effect” that showed not only that placebos do–in fact–make a measurable, positive impact on people. More surprising than that, however, was the finding that even when you know what you’ve been given is just a placebo, it still creates a placebo-effect. You can take a tic-tac, for example, and say “If I take this, I’ll feel better,” and lo and behold! You just might. Might, of course, is the key word. It’s not actually changing anything in and of itself, but the brain is a powerful (and apparently suggestible) organ.

SocialEase_TPk_ProductImage2 copy
A number of years ago I decided to play with the placebo-effect myself, and used a little antique glass bottle wrapped in a Post-It Note for “Productivity Pills.” I put white Tic-Tacs in it, and whenever I was feeling sluggish, or didn’t want to write, or didn’t want to focus at my day-job, I’d pop a “pill” and get back to work. Did the Tic-Tac actually do anything? No, of course not! Well, it may have made my breath a little minty fresh, but otherwise, no. However, popping one from that silly little bottle reminded me that I was supposed to be focusing on getting stuff done, and I got a LOT of writing and work stuff done during those years. Beyond that, it was just seriously fun and made me smile.

Which got me thinking–what if I could make little snake-oil bottles for all the various “writerly ailments” I suffered from? Things like writer’s block, or self-doubt, or rejection blues? When I really got to thinking about it, there were tons of “ailments,” so I decided to start making those snake-oil “cures” for them under two brands: Lucky Muse and Dr. Eponymous.

DrE_RutRemedy_PourLucky Muse is the snarky, snake-oil, cheater’s brand–the “cures” that promise instant success, brilliant prose, loads of money, and all without really having to work at it, because who wouldn’t love a book deal to fall into their laps? Dr. Eponymous is a bit more serious (though still quite snarky, because–hey, it’s me.) writerly ailments for those committed to improving their craft and surviving the day-to-day pains and aches of being a writer.

I’ve also created a few that are for a general audience, which I had a ton of fun giving as gifts this Christmas.

With a little prodding, I’ve finally opened an Etsy shop (called, what else? The Placebo Emporium!) where I sell some of these silly things, and I must say, I’m having a wonderful time! I’ve got quite a list of new “cures” to get designed and put up there, mostly for my own growing apothecary than anything else! Curious? Check out The Placebo Emporium here! Any particular writerly “cures” you’d like to see? Let me know!


Author Interview, Publishing/Editing, Three Questions, Writing, Zombies: More Recent Dead

THREE QUESTIONS: Jacques L. Condor (Maka Tai Meh)

ZombiesMoreRecentDead_coverJacques L. Condor (also known as Maka Tai Meh) has written one of the spookiest tales in this collection, and one of the hardest to put down. “Those Beneath the Bog” is a story of culture and spirituality running up against deadly secrets of the past. Prunie and her husband Martin are hunting for moose along with her aunts, an uncle, and several other members of her aunts’ home town. The hunt is difficult, and leads them at last to the shores of Rabbit Lake, where there are rumored to be not only moose aplenty, but also dark, evil spirits lurking in the sink hole at the center of the lake’s northern bog. But when Aunt Rosie prophecies the death of two of their hunting party, will the others listen? And if they don’t, will two be the only ones who die?

This story is super chilling. On my tight time-schedule with the Little Guy, I saw the page count on this one and thought there was no way I’d be able to gather enough minutes to read the whole thing, but I’m telling you: two pages in, and you won’t be able to stop even if you wanted to. Mr. Condor’s descriptions of Rabbit Lake and the truly terrifying creatures lurking there will have you shivering even in the summer heat. Spooky and delightful, this is one not to miss!

Prepare yourself for the coming apocalypse and save yourself a copy of Zombies: More Recent Dead before it’s released in September! You can pre-order a copy from Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, IndieBound, or Amazon.

1. The Writing Question: Do you have an element of writing (plotting, characters, world-building, dialogue, etc.) that comes more easily to you than others? Any you find particularly difficult?

For me, it’s the the dialogue. I have been a people watcher for 70 plus years. I love to listen to the way people talk, their accents, their use of colloquial words and phrases, and my mind stores them all away. Also, I was a professional actor for fifty-odd years before I came to writing, and for an actor, dialogue is the first clue to your character.

The most difficult thing for me is plotting. It is almost always drudgery for me.

2. The Zombie Question: What is your favorite work of zombie fiction (literary, film, comic, etc.)?

At age 86, I am probably the grandfather of all the other authors in this collection. I came into the world of zombies in the 1940’s during the Second World War, when America sent troops to the Caribbean and Central America, and they brought back stories of zombies. My two favorites are antique films: Bob Hope, Paulette Goddard, and Gail Sondergard in “The Cat and the Canary” and the utterly terrifying performance of Boris Karloff in “I Walked With a Zombie”. Incidentally, there was never any talk of “brains” and eating human flesh in the early zombie world of film and literature.

3. The Random Question: Where is one place you think everyone should have the chance to visit in their lifetime?

That’s easy. Alaska and the Yukon and the northern portions of British Columbia. IT is such a different world, and the many cultures of the aboriginals are a source of inspiration to any visitor.
Jacques L. Condor (Maka Tai Meh, his given First Nations tribal name) is a French-Canadian Native American of the Abenaki-Mesquaki tribes. He has lived in major cities, small towns, and bush villages in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest for fifty-plus years. He taught at schools, colleges, museums, and on reserves about the culture, history, and arts of his tribes for twenty years as part of the federal government’s Indian education programs. Now 85, Condor writes short stories and novellas based on the legends and tales of both Natives and the “oldtime” sourdoughs and pioneers. He has published five books on Alaska. Recently, his work appeared in five anthologies: Icefloes, Northwest Passages, A Cascadian Odyssey, Queer Dimensions, Queer Gothic Tales, and Dead North.

Author Interview, Journal, Publishing/Editing, Three Questions, Writing, Zombies: More Recent Dead


ZombiesMoreRecentDead_coverIf you’re tired of all the modern-day twists on zombies and want something eerie from a deeper past, look no further than “What Still Abides” by Marie Brennan. Set in pre-Christian England among druids and runes, Brennan weaves a chilling tale of death gone wrong. When a corpse refuses to stay down in his grave, the strongest magics and warriors come to the ruling eorl’s aid. But can anything be stronger than Death itself?

This story is chock full of mood and atmosphere; I dare anyone to turn the page on this one without feeling the chill of the  moorish winds.

Prepare yourself for the coming apocalypse and save yourself a copy of Zombies: More Recent Dead before it’s released in September! You can pre-order a copy from Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books, IndieBound, or Amazon.

1. The Writing Question: What is your typical writing routine? Do you write every day, some days, only when inspired?

I’m a night owl, and always have been. It’s like my brain turns on at ten p.m. Since I’m lucky enough to write full-time (thanks to the support of a gainfully employed husband), this means I work at night, usually going to bed somewhere between one and three a.m. When I’m working on a novel, I write nearly every day, with a minimum wordcount I have to hit before I let myself stop for the night. In between novel drafts, though, it’s much more hit-or-miss.

2. The Zombie Question: What enticed you to writing this zombie story?

“What Still Abides” is inspired by the English folksong “John Barleycorn,” which is one giant metaphor about the making of beer. The last line is “and we shall drink his blood!” — i.e. the beer — but that made me look back at all the lyrics about the awful, violent things they did to try and kill John Barleycorn, and ask myself what would happen if I took them literally . . . .

3. The Random Question: What other projects do you have forthcoming that you’d like to share with us?

I’m currently writing Chains and Memory, the sequel to an urban fantasy called Lies and Prophecy that I published in 2012. That will be out in early 2015, around the same time as Voyage of the Basilisk, the third of the Memoirs of Lady Trent.

Marie Brennan is the author of nine novels, including the series Memoirs of Lady Trent: A Natural History of Dragons, The Tropic of Serpents, and the upcoming Voyage of the Basilisk, as well as more than forty short stories. A Natural History of Dragons is a finalist for the 2014 World Fantasy Award. More information can be found at