Just Threw Out My Old Rejection Letters
Just threw out my folder containing all my print rejection slips. Given how so many are now coming in via e-mail and I deleted all of those, I didn't see the point in keeping the print ones.
I did read through them once for old time's sake. Here're some tidbits y'all might be interested in...
*My first rejection slip from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction and was dated September 11, 2001. Pretty ominous. It was for a short story called "Slave Raid," set in a world I devised after reading S.M. Stirling's Draka novels. Basically vampires (and their half-human bastards, the "halflings") have taken over the Earth and enslaved humanity, with resistance continuing in orbit and on the Moon. I hadn't yet read the novel Footfall, which shows just how dangerous any power with control of orbit can be to people on the ground.
(I should also have paid closer attention to the scene in The Stone Dogs where the Alliance for Democracy's last general, in control of the AfD's sleeper ship and asteroid bases, tells the Draka, who've won in the Earth-Moon system, "we're standing over your head, Snake.")
I might go over that world once more and rework it to make it more technically plausible and more sensible, but I've got a lot of other projects going on these days.
*Most of the ones from The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction were signed by John Joseph Adams, who was then the editorial assistant. The later ones had different names, while I started seeing JJA's name on various other projects, including anthologies he was soliciting content for and other magazines (like Nightmare Magazine and Lightspeed Magazine) that I submitted fiction to. I didn't need to hit up his Wikipedia page to see he'd changed jobs.
*The rejection slip for my Norse horror story "Nicor," which I may make available for Kindle if I cannot find a publisher soon, was signed by Gordon Van Gelder. The Gordon Van Gelder, the actual editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I don't know if "Nicor" escaped the slush pile that day, but considering how "Nicor" is one of my better stories (I actually sold it to a print magazine Flashing Swords, which paid me but shut down before it could publish), I'd like to think so.
*An early version of my Lovecraftian-horror-in-the-Ottoman-Empire story "The Beast of the Bosporus" was rejected by JJA. He said there was good writing there and recommended I submit it to Paradox, a now-defunct magazine of historical and alternate-historical fiction. It's now under consideration by Alt Hist, a similar market, and this one will be Kindle fodder if AH doesn't want it.
*Some of my rejection slips came from Sci Fiction, a defunct webzine of science fiction run by the Sci Fi Channel and overseen by none other than Ellen Datlow.
*I got personalized print rejection letters from Weird Tales that, among other things, pointed out problems with formatting as well as problems with the story itself. They were signed by an editorial team that included George Scithers, whom I corresponded with via e-mail a great deal. It was a bit of a shock to find out he had died. The fact he was willing to talk to me and offer advice despite being so much higher on the food chain reflects well on him.
Maybe I should call this post "All The Famous People Who Signed My Rejection Slips," in homage to my earlier post entitled "All The Famous People I've Met" that covers all the people I've met as a newspaper reporter. Or maybe "Who's Who In Speculative Fiction Today"? :)
(If any of you all read this, I'm not griping about getting rejected. I'm just feeling a touch nostalgic.)