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Laura Davids Todd
Posted on Monday, October 23, 2006 - 11:26 am:   

I submitted a story on Oct. 18 and got it back on Oct. 23. WHAT GIVES?? I estimate the story sat on a reader's desk for ONE DAY. I have been submitting stories for years to various markets and usually get them back in 2 months, maybe 4.

So I'm wondering: Is anyone actually READING my submissions? Or do they check to see if I'm a well-known name, read one or two lines and dump it back out?

Writers want to know!
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Monday, October 23, 2006 - 02:31 pm:   

Oh lord, I hope we don't go through this whole discussion again.

To answer your question, Ms. Todd, yes, someone is reading every submission we receive.

Here is a link to a discussion of this same subject from three years ago. I haven't re-read the discussion, but basically, the only thing that has changed since this thread first aired is that we're all three years older:

http://www.nightshadebooks.com/discus/messages/378/824.html?1086063888
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Charles Coleman Finlay
Posted on Monday, October 23, 2006 - 05:36 pm:   

Laura, at risk of going through the whole discussion again, no editor spends two to four months reading your sub; they let it sit around in a pile for two to four months, then read during part of one day. F&SF tries to read stories the same day they come in -- the idea is that it's more fair to writers to read them right away instead of letting them sit idle in a pile for a couple months. Assistant Editor John Joseph Adams has published a list of his slush pile survivors, so they not only read the stories that come in to slush, but they buy new writers who haven't been published before. Never enough of them to satisfy new writers, but that's a different issue. Believe me, as a pro writer, they're doing you a favor by getting back to you so quickly. You can turn the story around and try to sell it somewhere else.

Gordon, you're damned if you're fast, you're damned if you're slow. Remind me why anyone wants to be a magazine editor....
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Laura Davids Todd
Posted on Monday, October 23, 2006 - 06:14 pm:   

Ooops .... sorry! I owe you an apology and a big THANKS! I was just so shocked. It's just so opposite of what I've experienced all my life. (Actually I have just gotten back into writing recently after a long absence.)

Kind of like when a Boss actually says something nice and you don't know how to take such a surprise and you say "what's he up to?" So, THANKS.
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Sean Melican
Posted on Monday, October 23, 2006 - 07:31 pm:   

"Remind me why anyone wants to be a magazine editor...."

'Cause: "Money for nothin' and the chicks for free."
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - 09:42 am:   

Oh yeah? Well, what about we female editors? What do we get?
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - 10:52 am:   

Oh yeah? Well, what about we female editors? What do we get?

Fanboys?

And, Ellen, shouldn't that be "us female editors?" -- object of a preposition.

Matt Hughes
Majestrum
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Gregory Bernard Banks
Posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - 06:43 pm:   

Oh yeah? Well, what about we female editors? What do we get?

Well, to be fair, I'm sure there are female editors who "would" like" the same deal as the men, if you get my meaning...
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Tuesday, October 24, 2006 - 07:44 pm:   

Gregory:

You forgot to add "Not that there's anything wrong with that."

And, Ellen, sorry to have been a finger-pointer. Yet, breathes there an author with soul so dead that he does not yearn to correct a noted editor's grammar?

Matt Hughes
http://www.archonate.com/majestrum
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 05:52 am:   

It was in the news this week that the Council of English Teachers (or whatever the organization's name actually is) has decreed that grammar should be taught again. Teaching rules of grammar went out of favor in the 1970s, which is when I got my K-8 education.

Thank goodness that at least I got a great education in the metric system. Because, you know, by 2000 we'll all be using it.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 07:30 am:   

I was taught grammar (but not very thoroughly as I was never taught about gerunds). What was more interesting and fun and useful was being taught in 8th grade about Latin roots and how they influenced so much of English. That helped me figure out words that I wouldn't have otherwise understood.
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Michael Libling
Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 12:47 pm:   

I'm still mourning the death of the comma.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 01:44 pm:   

I still use the serial comma (as I was taught) before "and" and I use it when I feel it's necessary--more often by "hearing--I'll read a sentence aloud--than by strict rules...
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S. Hamm
Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 06:42 pm:   

One thing I can tell you. Hardly anyone knows how to punctuate a goddamned appositive, goddammit.
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Sean Melican
Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 07:10 pm:   

"One thing I can tell you. Hardly anyone knows how to punctuate a goddamned appositive, goddammit."

That period should be a colon and the aitch lower case. :-)
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 07:33 pm:   

I still have people tell me that I shouldn't begin a sentence with a conjunction, an idea I find extremely outmoded.

It was outmoded in Dickens's time.

"Marley was dead: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. Scrooge signed it. And Scrooge's name was good upon `Change, for anything he chose to put his hand to."

Matt Hughes
Majestrum
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Matt Hughes
Posted on Wednesday, October 25, 2006 - 10:43 pm:   

Sam:

That's how we progress. Otherwise we'd all be incising cuneiform onto waxed boards.


Matt Hughes
Majestrum
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Sean Melican
Posted on Thursday, October 26, 2006 - 07:54 am:   

Sam,

I don't remember all the grammatical terms (I don't need them any more than I need to know the names of woods to build a birdhouse: as long as I know the structural properties, I don't care if its pine, oak or maple; in this instance, the names are convenient shortcuts for describing a set of properties.) but while the second sentence functions fine on its own (subject, predicate, et cetera, although the double profanity is redundant) the first sentence lacks an explanation (object is the technical term, I think) for what that 'one thing' is. Imagine if you'd uttered only the first statement without the second. The first sentence isn't really a sentence at all; it serves only as an emphasis to the second.

Sean
master of appositives (which is incidentally my blood type) and paranthetical statments (which Mr. Van Gelder doesn't like, even though Mr. Delany gets away with it all the time)
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, October 26, 2006 - 09:30 am:   

I don't like them when they're overused.
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Charles Coleman Finlay
Posted on Thursday, October 26, 2006 - 02:31 pm:   

When was the last time Delany appeared in F&SF?
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Thursday, October 26, 2006 - 03:26 pm:   

I think it was 1977. Chip doesn't write much short fiction anymore.
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Charles Coleman Finlay
Posted on Thursday, October 26, 2006 - 04:34 pm:   

Probably because there's not as much room for the parenthetical statements.
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Sean Melican
Posted on Thursday, October 26, 2006 - 07:04 pm:   

Sheesh. Make one comment and get dumped on like toilet water. (The toilet water was clear, of course, except for the dead fly that had somehow expired directly over the open bowl.)

He did write _Atlantis_, which is short-ish fiction. And good. No -ish.
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Sean Melican
Posted on Friday, October 27, 2006 - 05:13 pm:   

Seems appropriate:

http://comics.com/comics/dilbert/index.html

Really, it could go in any of the threads.
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David Marshall
Posted on Saturday, October 28, 2006 - 11:44 pm:   

Gerunds are insectivorous mammals native to sub-Saharan Africa. Their use in anything is illegal, as they are an endangered species.

Please, help Save The Gerund. Don't let them go the way of the Dodo, the Great Awk, and/or the Comma.

(Please feel free to hunt down any stray Parentheses or Metrics, as they are nasty little vermin.)
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Amy Sterling Casil
Posted on Sunday, October 29, 2006 - 08:46 am:   

>>It was in the news this week that the Council of English Teachers (or whatever the organization's name actually is) has decreed that grammar should be taught again. Teaching rules of grammar went out of favor in the 1970s, which is when I got my K-8 education. >>

I also went to school in the 70's -- and what's worse, I was taught. I just forgot.
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Lars Thorsen
Posted on Thursday, February 01, 2007 - 04:20 pm:   

The editor and publisher actually posted! Gadzooks forsooth Watson ! Perhaps this portends an actual submission is pending.

re: Laura , The art of being accepted may rest more heavily with what the editor cares to read in style and content than that of whom the writer thinks is the audience.

I am of course, open to suggestions; as Robert A. used to say, It's the_way I tell the story that makes the difference.

Diminish that part, expand this section, add more math, use less math, can we have more dialogue please?, or the reverse. Do the editiors readers ever offer suggestions? Perhaps that isn't done much anymore as there is such a flood of submissions the grooming of writers is no longer a necessary evil in the publishing business. :-)
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David A Kimmel
Posted on Monday, May 21, 2007 - 05:41 pm:   

Just wanted to drop a note to say thank you to Gordon and the gang for providing such a wonderful outlet for us aspiring writers to submit to. (After receiving my very first rejection letter today, I can now officially include myself in the "aspiring writers" club.)

I have to admit to being more than a bit concerned about how quickly I received the letter, but after reading the posts here and in the previous thread, my concerns have been alleviated. Knowing that my story was indeed thoroughly reviewed (at least to the point where it was deemed not suitable for publication at F&SF), I'm actually appreciative of the fast turnaround.

Upon doing some further research, and finding that getting a "just didn't work for me" actually meant JJA read all the way through it before passing, makes me feel even better about my submission.

Now all I have to do is think of another story, write it, submit it...and wait four days. ;-)

Thanks again for all you do!
David
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Sam Wilson
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 12:26 pm:   

Started writing my story JUNE 5, finished it JULY 31 and mailed it to F&SF that day. Got a bounce letter saying they had 500 similar stories in inventory and had arbitrarily decided to make the cutoff with my submission; received the rejection letter JUNE 4. Saved me the trouble of writing the story. :-)
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Sam Wilson
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 01:06 pm:   

Seriously, about 4 years ago I submitted a 12,000 worder to F&SF. The story was NOT TOLD IN SEQUENCE; in fact, you would have to read the story carefully to know the plot. Or at least skim major sections of it.

Got a rejection letter with 10 days, including mail time.

Rejection letter gave a brief synopsis of the plot.

Folks, somebody at F&SF IS reading the submissions. I've never been published there, nobody there owes me money, I haven't kidnapped anybody's pet cat.

My theory: ever see the Twilight Zone episode where the guy finds a stopwatch that, when you stop it, stops time? The folks at F&SF must have one. (The episode ends when the guy accidentally breaks the stopwatch, causing the world around him to permanently become frozen in ti
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Marguerite Reed
Posted on Sunday, November 18, 2007 - 05:24 pm:   

I adore grammar, myself.
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Bronwyn Elko
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 09:11 am:   

Marquerite: I adore grammar when it flows naturally, without my having to think about it. Those times when I have to work at it are painfully slow. . . like pulling teeth with greasy pliers.

As John Gardner once said, language is composed of infinitely slippery stuff.

Sam: Your story about submitting to F&SF is pretty typical, I think. Most magazines I've submitted to give very specific details about the story in their rejection letters. Only once do I recall receiving a series of bizarre responses that lasted over a year. I'd submitted two stories to the same mag, six months apart; I received back the exact same rejection letter for _both_ stories. Inquiring about the status of second story, I was mailed the same rejection letter for the third time! I believe there was some sort of office shuffle going on.
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Gregory Bernard Banks
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 10:24 am:   

>>Most magazines I've submitted to give very specific details about the story in their rejection letters.<<

Funny, I've more often than not found the reverse to be true, although I think the more they like a rejected story, the more likely they are to be specific about the reasons for the rejection.
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Sam Wilson
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 10:42 am:   

Bronwyn

Hi again! My Volume VIII buddy!

F&SF is terrific, of course---the writing game is tough. When a writer starts out the stories are rejected because, basically, they suck, even if one has talent. As one gains a certain skill level through practice one can still face rejection because the story, while not bad, doesn't "meet our needs."

And it's all subjective. Nick DiChario's "The Winterberry", for instance, didn't win a Writers of the Future prize (though it was a finalist) but was nominated for a Hugo and included in The Best Alternate History Stories of the Century. I had a story rejected by 9 big-deal mags and anthologies and it was picked for a Year's Best Anthology.

I follow the advice of Ambrose Bierce, in The Devil's Dictionary:

"PERSEVERANCE, n.
A lowly virtue whereby mediocrity achieves an inglorious success."

:-)
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Bronwyn Elko
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 11:17 am:   

Sam:

Ditto. Writing's tough, period. Sometimes I wish I could stop torturing myself . . . .

Yeah, selection of stories is mostly subjective. No blame there-- I'd do the same thing if I were an editor. One man's hell is another man's heaven. That's why I think it's pointless to slant a story toward anyone (an editor or some imaginary readership) in particular. All you can do is follow your own unique obsessions . . . hope someone else finds them interesting.

Having said that, I haven't submitted a short story in years. Once the frigging novel's done, I got a couple short stories I want to write.
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Bill Gleason
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 01:30 pm:   

Actually, the comma is alive and well. See, there went one! And there went another! They took a hit from the serial killers, sure, but they're learning to adapt. Many of them have taken to wearing knit hats with a pom-pom on top so they can pass as semi-colons.

(Parenthetically, I'm told it is easier to pass AS a semi-colon than it is to pass THROUGH one.)

Other commas have taken up hang-gliding in an attempt to pass as apostrophes, but apostrophes can be pretty possessive about their airspace and react violently to the comma chameleons.

Still, we need have no fear that the comma will leave us any time soon. In fact, the doc I'm working on now might almost be called a comma preserve. I'm gonna need the BIG red pen. It's time to thin the herd.
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Jason K. Chapman
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 02:24 pm:   

What an entertaining bit of comma-dy!
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Bill Gleason
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 03:53 pm:   

Pssst. C'mere. Wanna know the real secret to writing? It was taught to me by an illiterate cave-dwelling monk. So maybe he was wrong. But anyway, he said, "Write the punctuation first."

At first, this made no sense to me. But I dwelt (parenthetically/and/or dwelled) on it for some time (which actually is redundant, since you can't dwell on anything for no time, parenthetically speaking) and saw at last what the filthy troglodyte preacher had been trying to tell me, and here it is:

Writing is simply the insertion of clumsy blocks of text (artfully, hopefully, parenthetically) inserted into the punctuatory confinement grid. If you have punctuatory stability, you can pretty much infest it with any sort of prosaic vomit and the grid will ensure literary success.

I usually start with periods, but have had some success beginning with commas, since they have structural flexibility, whereas periods are fairly firm and ungiving; but, of course, that is their rightful place as the cornerstones of punctuation. Semi-colons, such as the one just shown, serve as convenient compartmentalizers for much of the writer's poorly directed drivel, but should be used only sparingly, and only with adult supervision. (Under no circumstances should they be used parenthetically.)
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ccfinlay
Posted on Monday, November 19, 2007 - 04:40 pm:   

"Write the punctuation first."

Ah, April 2001, thy influence lingers still.
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S. Hamm
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 01:24 am:   

Chas.,

Too hip for the room.

S.
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Marguerite Reed
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 04:35 am:   

No kidding; I didn't get that one at all.
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ccfinlay
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 05:23 am:   

S.,

I'm a little young, but I guess I already need a hip replacement.

M.,

The April 2001 issue of F&SF was screwed up by the printer, who was using new software: all the punctuation was omitted from the issue, and it was sent out to bookstores and subscribers that way. I'll loan you my copy sometime (or I'm pretty sure F&SF still has some extra copies for sale) -- it's amusing. Not so much to G.V.G at the time, I suspect, but...
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Gordon Van Gelder
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 07:31 am:   

It wasn't all the punctuation---only the periods were omitted from the issue. Commas, question marks, etc., were all fine.

We posted all of the missing periods on the Website in hopes of being helpful.

And no, it wasn't very funny until after the printer made amends.
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Clint Harris
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 08:06 am:   

I like grammar too. She bakes them cookies and gives great big ol' hugs. :-)
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ccfinlay
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 08:54 am:   

My bad. I should've just mentioned periods and then come to a full stop
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ccfinlay
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 08:58 am:   

And courtesy of the Wayback Machine: http://www.sfsite.com/fsf/dots.htm
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Jason K. Chapman
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 10:05 am:   

My bad. I should've just mentioned periods and then come to a full stop

So, periodically, you'd sentence us to a British term.
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Clint Harris
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 10:12 am:   

Know your British alpha-bet, from haitch to zed. :-)
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Lee S.
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 11:23 am:   

ccfinley (Charles ?),

That doesn't seem to go anywhere...
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ccfinlay
Posted on Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 11:26 am:   

Whoops. That's the original webpage. Here's the Wayback version: http://web.archive.org/web/20010306041314/www.sfsite.com/fsf/dots.htm

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