When A Story Is Bejected … er, REJECTED #amwriting

Before I forget: This is the first of the month, so there’s a new story on the Hot Flashes page.

Now. The first thing you do when you have a story bejected is The Bejection Dance. Get that out of the way first off.

Here’s a link to The Bejection Dance, which I originally posted on my old WEBLAHG. It was just like this blog except … well … except nothing. When I started this blog, it was supposed to be all professional and nothing but business, but that kind of fell by the wayside, and now it’s almost as random as the old site. ALL RIGHT, IT’S JUST AS RANDOM — ARE YOU HAPPY? HUH?

I wrote a story for a themed anthology, and it wasn’t accepted. It was, in other words, bejected. Bejected is just like rejected, but you’re also dejected. And everybody knows that r + d = b. So.

The anthology is of stories that all begin with the line, “No shit, there I was.” As you can imagine, a speculative fiction story beginning with that line could go pretty much anywhere. But the editor apparently didn’t want to go where I went, so the story was declined.

I once went to a panel of anthology editors, one of whom shared the insight of a magazine editor who said she could always tell when a themed anthology was about to come out by the number of submissions she got with the same element in common.

So the second thing to do is rewrite the story so that editor wouldn’t know it was a reject from a themed anthology. In this case, that’s easy.

Here’s the current first line:

rewrite“No shit, there I was.” Mrs. DiMarco flicked the hand holding her cigarette, spilling ashes on her fish sandwich and fries. “Dammit!”

So I’ll change it to:

“I’ll tell you what happened.” Mrs. DiMarco flicked the hand holding her cigarette, spilling ashes on her fish sandwich and fries. “Dammit!”

And I’ll send it somewhere else. And, eventually, I’ll sell it. And then I’ll do The Asseptince Dance.

A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Rewrite the first sentence of a short story without changing the meaning of the paragraph.


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I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “When A Story Is Bejected … er, REJECTED #amwriting

  1. Jane

    February 1, 2016 at 7:56am

    A real challenge, changing one’s first sentence. It only sets ypur tone, emphasis, and half your character’s baxk srouty.
    Ok. I meant backstory. Squirrel just climbed into my lap.
    unoh her she comes again…………….

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 1, 2016 at 8:37am

      Baxk srouty should totally be a thing!

      I actually like the new first sentence better, although it was the required first sentence that sparked the story.

  2. Dan

    February 1, 2016 at 7:58am

    Sounds like a great little sequence. Good luck 🙂

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 1, 2016 at 8:49am

      Thanks, Dan. I’ll sell or place it, by and by. This is my third Mr. Sugar and Mrs. DiMarco story — eventually, I’ll have enough for a collection! “Mr. Sugar vs The Martians” is in one of my own collections, “Mr. Sugar vs The Cake Thief” is in MARDI GRAS MURDER by Mystery And Horror LLC, and now this one is a-lookin’ fer a home. It’ll happen.

  3. Patricia Stoltey

    February 1, 2016 at 2:29pm

    I love the variety of posts on your blog, Marian. I’ve been bejected from time to time, so it helps to learn that some folks can deal with bejection with humor and a little dance. 😀

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 1, 2016 at 2:37pm

      Glad I could help, Patricia. It always shocks kids when I speak to a class and tell them getting published once does NOT mean you’ll always get published and never bejected ever after!

  4. A.C. Flory

    February 2, 2016 at 4:09am

    I know this is going to sound horribly dumb but…why not self publish your own book of shorts?

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 2, 2016 at 8:58am

      Not dumb at all, Meeka! I’ve self-published four collections of my short stories: LONNIE, ME AND THE HOUND OF HELL; THE KING OF CHEROKEE CREEK, TURTLE FEATHERS, and MA’S MONTHLY HOT FLASHES 2002-2007. As Nick said in A Thousand Clowns (one of my favorite movies of all time), “You want to be your own boss. Trouble is, you don’t pay yourself anything.” 😉 So I sell as many stories as I can. I’ve made more money from any one of my sales to Marion Zimmer Bradley’s publications than I’ve made from all my self-published stories.

  5. Alana

    February 2, 2016 at 6:27am

    Your bejection dance would probably throw out my back. Instead, I’ll stick to rewriting. Try try again. Well, first I have to try for the first time. I admire authors. I haven’t even begun my journey of learning about rejection.

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 2, 2016 at 9:03am

      Go for it, Alana! Bejection hurts your feels for a little bit, but there are plenty of markets for resubmission. I wouldn’t even do a rewrite after one rejection, but this one had a specific tailoring for a specific market. The only thing I’ll rewrite at this point is to remove that tailoring. It was a natural fit for Mrs. DiMarco, but she has plenty of cuss words at her disposal. Mr. Sugar says that Mrs. DiMarco has the bluest language and the deadliest throwing arm in the neighborhood.

  6. Nate Wilson

    February 2, 2016 at 8:16am

    No shit, there I was. Ready to comment on Marian’s post, when I remembered my company’s social media policy likely would harangue me for using mild profanity. So I decided I’d wait till I got home to comment.

    I’ll tell you what happened. I got home, and never even stepped in the room with my computer. Not till now.

    And shit, here I am. May you have more reason for asseptince dances than bejected ones from here on in.

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 2, 2016 at 9:06am

      @Nate ~Popeye laughing~ Thanks! From your mouth to God’s ear, buddy.

  7. Holly Jahangiri

    February 4, 2016 at 9:05am

    Oh, dear oh dear oh dear!! I would have brought the cookies and wine and come to the dance, had I realized sooner that it wasn’t THE dance, but a NEW dance! I am so glad you don’t wallow TOO long in your bejectedness, but rather turn it into a party.

    How funny what the editor said! Oh, goodness, yes – I was just thinking, the other day, how people don’t even realize how obvious some things are in the aggregate. Good on you for making a few tweaks so your story will stand out from the “No shit, there I was” crowd.

    I am terribly curious, now – I can’t wait to read it!

    • Author

      Marian Allen

      February 4, 2016 at 9:55am

      Thanks, Holly! I’ve sold enough stories to not let rejections get me down, unless I really have my heart set on a particular sale. I think you would love Mr. Sugar and Mrs. DiMarco. They’re super fun to write! He’s a neutered gay white Persian cat and she’s a foul-mouthed widow (human) who lives down the street. They have a story in Lonnie, Me and the Hound of Hell and one in Mardi Gras Murder.

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