Getting back on the short story submission train

Confession time folks. I haven’t submitted a new short story to any literary magazine since Xmas 2016. At that time, I submitted a cyberpunk short story which, as of writing this, will be the basis for a future novel. The story is still under consideration by that magazine (yes, it can take this long, and sometimes even longer), and it’s officially the story that has taken the longest to get a response. The fact remains though: since then, I haven’t submitted any other short story nor have I written a new one. Now, I’m about to submit two: a flash fiction one and a short one, both written more than a year ago.

The reason? I was too busy editing and revising my novels. Too busy submitting my first novel to agents. Too busy wrapping my head around promotion and marketing strategies for my self-published work. Too busy with a new job. Too busy with parents’ health problems. Too busy in general.

I started drafting both stories way back in 2016. Late spring, if my memory serves me. Nothing new since then. I don’t think I’m going through a dry spell (God, I hope not). It’s just that I’ve focused on longer stories than short ones. I don’t know if I’ll work on another short piece any time soon (at some point, I probably will, perhaps a teaser prequel to one of my novels), but for the time being I feel I should focus on novels. Especially now that I’ve had a taste of the turbulent waters of self-publishing.

So for me, submitting these two stories is a big deal. Wish me luck, folks. I’ve set the bar high for both.

Many thanks to all those who read earlier and badly written versions of this story, and provided me with precious feedback.

The Grinder

Some of you (if not all of you)  have at one point or another submitted a story to a magazine. Those more experienced may have suggested to you a site called Duotrope. So was I. I’m not a member there, though it’s easy to see how well-built the site is. It’s been a while now since Duotrope started charging money for its service. I’m here to let you know of an alternative submission tracker/magazine database.

I use a submission tracker called the “The Grinder” (you can find it here) . The site is still in beta and it has been on beta since I first used it, almost two years ago. It may look very simple,  if you are used to Duotrope, but it delivers exactly what it advertises. Did I mention it’s free? The owners have been working to maintain it and keep it up to date with as many fiction literary magazines or at least as many as users submit to them. It’s not an easy task, considering the amount of literary magazines out there. Not to mention the ones that come and go. Currently,  the Grinder lists magazines for fiction only, but they are trying to start listing magazines for non-fiction and poetry. It’s still unclear when they will have made such listings available. When I talked to them about it, they said they were working on it. Oh,  yes,  did I mention their support is very helpful? I often suggest magazines to them, and they get back to me within the day with a comment, a redirect (if they had already listed said magazine), or a simple thanks.

How does it work? Simple. Register with a valid email address and start exploring for a suitable magazine. There are two ways to search for a suitable home for your story.
You can either search directly by name (if you know the name of the magazine you’re interested in) or you can make an advanced search. For the latter,  you can set the parameters according to what kind of magazine you’re trying to find (genre, style, type of story, length in thousands of words,  response time, market qualifications, etc). You can also exclude certain magazines,  which is very helpful if one of your stories is already under consideration by a magazine which refuses to read more than one story per writer at any time. Once you click on search, you will get a list of magazines that matches your criteria. Click on the listing you like or think it’s suitable for you and you’ll be taken to a more detailed view. There you will find information about the payment the magazine offers (though that is something you may or may not have set as a parameter for your search),  about the minimum and maximum response time, the percentage of acceptance said magazine has, and a brief note taken directly from each magazine about what they want to read. At the lower half of the page,  a chart will display the amount of acceptances/rejections vs time (in days). The red bars show rejections, their height represents their amount, whereas the green bars indicate acceptances. If you submit something to said magazine, you will see it as a purple dot on the chart, but only after you have listed your submission to the Grinder. Which means you can track your submissions with it. There are links to the magazine’s page, as well as their submission guidelines.

Once you submit a piece to a magazine, make sure to click on Log Submission. If you have already added a story, you can choose it from the drop down menu (“Please select a piece”). If not, you can enter it then (title,  word count etc). That way the statistical information about the magazine will be more accurate for the rest of us 🙂

At the top of every page in the Grinder to the right, there’s a link that reads My Dashboard. There you can track your submissions, your profile, and your stories. Just click on Manage Pieces, then Add Piece, and you will be asked to enter some information about the story (title, word count, etc). Click Add Piece,  and that’s it.

Obviously I haven’t gone through every available option at the Grinder. I will probably get back on this at a later point with more information and perhaps some images. Perhaps I could contact the moderators and they can provide me with more information about it. I do hope it helps you with your submissions, especially if you’re looking for an alternative to Duotrope (and a free one). If you know any other similar sites, please let me know. I’m thinking of starting a separate page here with resources for writers, and the more submissions trackers or any other kind of resources and tools we have in one place, the better it will be for the readers.

Second short story now available

My short story titled When Hades Felt is now available for everyone to read. It’s a story where a wife’s death triggers events in her husband’s life, after a woman dressed in black shows up at his doorstep, claiming to be able to do the impossible (this sentence was actually the pitch/hook I used in my cover letter, by the way). You can find it at but please, have a look at the stories, poems and essays the other authors have contributed or read some of the other stuff the magazine has to offer from past issues. I should also warn you that the story is just over 5000 words long, so it may be time-consuming. I should also point out that I write dark-ish fantasy, perhaps borderline with horror (though I’m not experienced with the Horror genre), so since the editor’s description of the story in their main page is “dark and disturbing”, this story may not be your cup of tea. I just hope that by ‘disturbing’ the editor meant ‘depressing’ rather than ‘annoying’, lol 😛

Also, it’s one of the toughest stories I ever tackled and the only one so far that I had to re-write entire sections (namely, the whole last scene). And by rewriting I mean deleting and never looking back at thousands upon thousands of words; if I remember correctly, I rewrote it more than 5 times. Even now that I read the published story, I still frown at a few points. You’ll be the judge of whether the story is good or not. All I know is that even though it’s only been 7  months since I wrote it, my style has changed considerably since then.

This is also sort of a milestone for me, as this is the first story I got paid for and although it’s only a token payment, it’s still the first one. Hopefully, others will follow as well.

Other than that, in a month or two I expect my other short story, the one that inspired me to write the novel I’m currently working on, to be published by Voluted Tales, an Australian literary magazine.

I had to withdraw my fourth story from the magazine I had sent it for review, since they never responded to my follow-up emails. I think the magazine may have stopped operating. So, off to make some more edits to that story and find a new home for it.

If you have any comments about it, please don’t hesitate to post them below in the comment section.