Publishing 101 with BJ Muntain, part two:Querying

So what is querying?

Querying is trying to sell an agent (or publisher) on your book. You do this by sending a query letter. Some agents only want the query letter, some want a synopsis, some want to see the first 5, 10, 50 pages. Send them what their guidelines say they want to see.

A query letter is a creative business letter. It’s a business letter because you want to do business with the agent. It’s creative because you are selling your creativity, and effective selling takes creativity. You want your query letter to entice the agent to read your novel.

When querying, DO:

  • Read and follow the guidelines.
  • Address the query letter to the agent’s name. Agents cringe at “Dear Agent”. You don’t want the agent’s first impression of you to be cringe-worthy.
  • Make a good impression.
  • Keep the query letter to one page, double-spaced. That’s about 250 words. Even if you’re e-mailing the query.
  • Hook the agent. Use the three main points: Character’s goal, character’s obstacles (conflict), and the consequences of their success or failure (what are they risking?)
  • Be polite and professional.
  • Write the best query letter you can. (More on that below.)


  • Never send attachments, unless they specifically ask for them. If they want to see pages, they’ll usually ask you to cut and paste your pages into the body of the e-mail.
  • And don’t send the same e-mail to a lot of people. If the agent sees a lot of other agents in the subject line, or if they see that they were bcc’d (and people can tell if you’ve bcc’d them), they’re going to find it easier to reject you.

Query letters are a skill that needs to be developed – a good skill, because they help you figure out what is important in your novel, and gives you focus.

Luckily, the Query Shark (a.k.a. Janet Reid) has been critiquing and helping people with their queries for years. Read all 270+ queries and critiques she’s done there, because each is like a tutorial on what to do and what not to do. She isn’t posting as much these days, because she only wants to cover new problems or ideas. So if you don’t see your problem in the archive, send your query letter to her, and see if she’ll cover it in a future post.

For general information and questions about the publishing industry, Janet Reid is generous with her time and advice. She’s been working in the business for quite awhile, and she has a very straight-forward and straight-minded view of the industry. Read her back posts – she posts every day. You can start with her Publishing 101 category, then go down the list of categories on the left and the topics on the right, and see if you can answer your question. Or, you know, ask her. If she hasn’t covered it already, she might cover it in a future blog post. I highly recommend her blog.

A note on rejections

Rejection is a fact of life in this business. An agent can get upwards of 100 queries per day. They will request to read the rest of the novel about 1% of the time. Of that 1%, they won’t even sign half of them. They already have clients who take up most of their time. Unless they’re new to the game, they’re very choosy over what other clients they will take on. Understand that you will be rejected. Try to gather at least 100 rejections before you give up. Expect them. Celebrate them, because a rejection means you were brave enough to query – then send out another query letter.

Some people get tired of the rejections, and that’s normal. Some will decide to self-publish instead, and that’s a valid business strategy – as long as they look at it as a business strategy. It’s not an easy way to make money. You work for every sale. But if you’re prepared to put in all the work, and to put out the best product you can, then it is one way to go. Here’s a good take on Yog’s rule for self-publishers, according to John Scalzi’s Yog’s Law and Self-Publishing: “While in the process of self-publishing, money and rights are controlled by the writer.”

Do NOT get discouraged. Don’t get desperate. Don’t grasp at straws. Those straws are most likely to be the scammers that prey on desperate writers. NO ONE can guarantee you a legitimate publishing contract. If someone does guarantee this, run away. Run away very fast. Because, most likely, they’re offering you something you pay for, and it’s not going to help one little bit.

Vanity presses (which are completely separate from self-publishing or other form of publishing, no matter what the vanity presses themselves say) will charge you to publish your work. Or they’ll force you to pay for marketing. Or they’ll insist you pay fees of some sort. You pay them, AND give them control over your work. In traditional publishing, YOU get paid. In self-publishing, you control everything you pay for. With a vanity press (and these are described on Writer Beware and Preditors & Editors), you pay them to control you.

Before using any services, check them on the websites above. In fact, check everyone through those websites before doing business with them.

Also: Never respond to rejections. Take note of them, keep track of them, then ignore them. Don’t even send a ‘thank you’. ESPECIALLY do not argue with the agent or otherwise insult them. That is not going to help you get published, and it might actually hurt your chances.

Some further thoughts on scams

Read that list of steps again. Just about the ONLY steps you can skip in this list are 2) and 3): querying agents and revising to their suggestions. It is possible to query publishers on your own. Don’t look for other ways to skip a step. Don’t look for an easy way. There isn’t one.

If you come across a service that will do your querying for you, run away. They’ll take your money, send off a few form queries, and get rejected 99.999% of the time BECAUSE they are a query service and not the author. Agents hate those ‘services’.

Or a ‘publisher’ that says they’ll put your book in front of agents or big publishers – sure, they can send the books to the publishers or agents, but they can’t force them to read them. And publishers and agents will not read books sent by those ‘publishers’. (This used to be a promise made by vanity presses.)

You CAN pay for editors yourself. That’s perfectly legitimate. Find a good one, check them through Preditors & Editors under Editing & Software, and ask for references.

The money flows towards the author. Remember that. If anyone tries to charge you something, take a step back and think about it. Incidentals like postage and photocopying on your behalf are okay (but only once you’re already that agent’s client). Anything else – check it out carefully.




BJ Muntain’s website:

BJ’s Twitter:

BJ’s Facebook:

Publishing 101 with BJ Muntain

This week I asked my good friend BJ Muntain to come in and share a bit of her experience in the publishing world with you all! Since BJ has a wealth of great knowledge, her guest post will be in two parts, shared this week and next week. Hope you enjoy!


Publishing 101 

with BJ Muntain 

I recently read a blog post about a query service, on Janet Reid’s excellent publishing industry blog, and I had a huge Aha! moment.

People just starting out don’t know enough about the publishing industry, so they are easy prey for such ‘services.’ Unfortunately, the only thing these services are able to do is take a writer’s money.

The one thing to keep in mind is, the number one rule of dealing with the publishing industry is the adage known as ‘Yog’s Law’: The money flows TO the writer.

I’m not talking about self-publishing. That’s a huge area, and not where my experience lies. I’m talking about traditional publishing. I’m also talking fiction (and memoirs, which are treated like fiction in the publishing process). Non-fiction has a few differences in the query process, which you’ll need to research separately.

Here’s a quick guide to how the publishing industry really works:

  • Author writes a novel. Then revises it. Then edits it. Then takes more training, and revises again. Then learns something new, and revises again. And again, ad nauseum, until the novel is the absolutely best it can be. Author may even hire an editor to help.
  • Author then sends queries to agents. (See below for information on queries.)
  • Agent may respond in one of three ways: 1. asking to read more, 2. offering representation, or 3. rejecting the query. Rejections are far more common than the other responses. Some agents will suggest revisions, in which case you can send it back to them for a second chance (called an R&R – Revise and Resend).
  • Once Agent offers representation, there will probably be more editing and revising.
  • Agent will send the novel to publishers that might be interested. Publishers will either reject or accept the novel.
  • Then there’s THE CONTRACT negotiations – which, if Agent is good, won’t be as scary as it sounds.
  • Then Publisher will go through it, and the author will have more revisions and editing to do.
  • By this time, the author is now working on the next novel. Or the next. Or even the next.
  • In a couple years after the contract is signed, the novel will be published and the author will be busy doing marketing and publicity in order to sell it. While writing the next novel.

Yes. I said TWO years. Publishers often have all their publishing spots scheduled for two years by the time they buy yours, and editing takes time. Some publishing houses may work quicker. Most smaller publishing houses will accept your submission without an agent. Most of the big ones will not.

While you can possibly skip numbers 3 and 4 by not seeking an agent, don’t try any other shortcuts. By the way, ‘not seeking an agent’ is not a shortcut. Be prepared for a lot of work.

So why do you need an agent?

First, if you want to sell your novel to a large publisher, you almost always need an agent. There are a few large publishers and many smaller ones that will accept unagented novels, but it’s still a good idea to have an agent.

There’s a lot of work that goes into selling a novel. Some agents will help you edit your book. They mediate between the publisher and the author, making sure the author is getting paid and the publisher is getting the revisions on time. They make sure both parties are living up to the contract they negotiated.

Because agents know contracts. They know what to look for in a contract. They know how to make sure a contract is fair – and they’re the ones who will do your negotiating for you. Unless you are a publishing lawyer, it can be pretty complicated to negotiate your own contract. And an agent can get you a better advance than you can get yourself.

And all an agent wants from the deal is 15% of the money you make. That may seem like a lot, but if an agent can get you a bigger advance AND make sure you’re not selling your soul and your first born along with your novel, it’s definitely worth it.

If you don’t have an agent, get a publishing lawyer (or someone well-versed in publishing contracts) to go over everything before you sign. Signing without understanding what you’re signing can get your career stuck in cement-hard muck. Someone who knows the publishing industry will know what needs to be in a contract for it to be fair for the client. There are horror stories about non-publishing lawyers being asked to go over publishing contracts, objecting to things that are industry standard while allowing grievous harm to be done to their client in other areas.

An agent is worth their 15%.

Some tips on choosing agents to query

Research agents. Make sure they’re the people you want representing you.

Unfortunately, there are some bad agents and bad publishers out there, and some real crooks. Here are the three most important links you’ll find:

  • Preditors & Editors – Always take any agent (and their agency) through the site, to see if there are any warnings. Publishers, too, and any other person or business you plan on doing business with. If there are no warnings, then they’re probably okay. If the site says the agent or agency is recommended, they’re a great choice. P&E doesn’t give recommendations easily. They have a lot more information there, too, about writing, publishing, and so forth.
  • The Absolute Write Water Cooler, specifically their CheckBewares, Recommendations & Background Check forum
    • Note: most agents and businesses listed here will be treated with suspicion at first. Read all the posts on an agent or publisher right to the end, because once an agent or publisher gets to be better known, the suspicions fade (or, if the agent/agency/publisher is really bad, you’ll find proof.)
  • Writer Beware — This service, housed on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America website, is headed by Victoria Strauss and is supported by other writing organizations. You’ll only find the bad agents, agencies, publishers, and services here, so chances are you won’t find the agent you’re looking for – and that’s good. Victoria and the others are very passionate about their work, even so far as to be sued by the unscrupulous people they’ve outed. I have the highest regard for Victoria.

You also want to research agents to make sure they’re a good fit for your novel. And if you’re thorough, you might have a better chance at attracting them.

Places to find out more about an agent and their needs are:

  • Their blogs
  • Their agency’s website
  • Writers’ Digest – especially if you can find a recent interview.
  • Other interviews on blogs, etc. – Search by the agent’s name. If it’s not a unique name, add ‘literary agent’ to your search.

Find every agent’s and agency’s submission guidelines, and follow those guidelines when querying. If you’re going directly to publishers, then find the publisher’s guidelines. Publishers that don’t accept unagented submissions might make it difficult to find their guidelines, and they’ll only say something like, “We’re sorry, but we only accept manuscript submissions from agents.” Agents know how to submit to those publishers, so they don’t need to put the guidelines on their website.


BJ Muntain’s website:

BJ’s Twitter:


BJ’s Facebook:

HORROR MONTH: What is Horror?

Are you, hapless surfers of the internet, prepared for a month of monsters, blood and deep, dark terror? Are you ready for….


Those of you who’ve been slinking around here for a while know that I love Halloween. I love celebrating the dark and the bad, at least once a year. Usually I do a villain theme month, because their Halloween costumes are much more popular. And who gets remembered from our favorite Halloween silver “screamers”? Not the idiot teenagers, but the giant, hulking monsters carrying pointy things. This year, I decided to go a bit more directly thematic and really get down into the nitty-gritty of Halloween. So I present to you: horror month!

But what is horror?

Everyone “knows” what horror is intuitively, but what is it on a psychological level?

“Fear” is one of the most basic emotions, to the point where there’s argument as to whether or not it’s an actual emotion and not something along the lines of an instinct. Emotions are not just feelings in big scary psychology land: emotions are associated with behavioral and physiological states. There are many different theories of emotion, and I don’t think anyone else wants to hear about all of them. The basic low-down on fear is that it’s a  motivational state aroused by specific stimuli that give rise to defensive behaviors or escape.

Where fear comes from is a great mystery of psychology, and many of the sub disciplines of psychology have their own theories. Fear has some roots in specific structures in the brain, and of course, specific neuro-chemicals like adrenaline that trigger the fight/flight response. There is also evidence that fear can be taught. One of the most famous pieces of evidence that fear can be taught is the Little Albert experiment, in which John B. Watson taught a small child to fear everything white and fluffy–including things as innocuous as a teddy bear or a bunny rabbit. Fear is believed to have an evolutionary component. Evolutionary psychologists believe that fear kept people away from potential dangers, like snakes and spiders and heights.

Psychologists have found that horror films create actual feelings of fear in people, trigger same reactions as an actually potentially dangerous stimuli (ie: a snake). So why do people like horror, since it triggers this fear response? Well…it’s all in perspective. Horror movies released for a wide audience work because, for whatever reason, people have similar fears (like ghosts, or being stabbed to death by Michael Myers. No? Just me? Okay). Humans are hard-wired to be tuned to fear and danger. According to evolutionary psychologists, it’s how we adapted and survived to new environments. Here’s the kicker: evidence suggests that different people secrete and respond to different chemicals in response to fear. Fear typically releases, as mentioned above, adrenaline (think fight/flight/freeze response) as well as dopamine. Some people are more sensitive to dopamine. Dopamine is the happy neurochemical, and secretes in many situations, including, fun fact, when people eat chocolate. Do people more sensitive to dopamine like horror movies better, or people less sensitive to dopamine? I couldn’t find any research suggesting which way it went, but if you can, feel free to let me know in the comments.

There are some more humanistic and social psychology theories to do with why people like horror movies. Some psychologists suggest that horror movies provide a safe environment to experiment with their deep dark fears, and that surviving these fears gives people a sense of confidence.

This must be those dopamine people, because after a horror movie I’m looking in all the shadows to make sure no ghosts are hiding in my room. After I watched the The Fourth Kind, I couldn’t sleep because I was pretty sure aliens were coming to butt probe me. That’s books too. Suffer the Children? I couldn’t look at a kid for a month.

I digress.

I think the social psychologists have one of the best theories as to why people like horror: it creates a social bonding experience. People are social creatures: we like dealing with our fears together. This has roots in the other theories I mentioned above, I believe. People get a sense of confidence from showing that they conquered their fears in front of their friends. In the olden times, if someone saw a big scary snake they probably called their friends to come help them kill that sucker. Humans use other humans to deal with their fear.

I need to digress again and give you some anecdotal evidence. I remember when I went to see the first Paranormal Activity film in the theater on Halloween. I was late too, so I had even less of an idea what was going on. Everyone in that theater was in sync. We laughed at the boringness of 90% of the movie together, and stood in shock together when that scary demon lady jumped at the camera (spoilers?). And then, right as the credits were rolling, we heard little drops on the floor and the saddest voice in the world sigh “oh, my skittles.”

The whole theater burst out laughing. We were united.

If you’re a writer or an artist or a filmmaker, you’re probably saying “all this is well and good Kelsey, but what’s the scariest? How do I make my audience pee themselves?”

That’s a loaded question, hypothetical artsy fartsy people. Everyone is scared of similar things, yeah, but in different ways. I think, if you really want to freak people out, you need to violate the laws of nature. All my research has suggested that, if you want people to be afraid, throw in a spider or a snake or something. But if you want people to really fear horror to their core, make that spider giant. People are very imaginative, but like the natural world to have rules and order. Yes, this includes our fictional universes (see: Tolkien). This is because the human mind loves to categorize and sort things. Things that violate the laws of nature are scary because our brain doesn’t know how to sort it. It calls into question everything we’ve already sorted/

You need some theories on how this works? More theories? Okay! People who actually don’t want to scare people (I know, what?) with their art or robotic creations consider the Uncanny Valley Hypothesis, put forward by Masahiro Mori. The Uncanny Valley Hypothesis suggests that the closer something comes to human, but doesn’t quite get there (ie: violates laws of nature of what a human should look like) will repulse and horrify people. This theory has been applied to robots, zombies, computer animation, and moving stuffed animals.

If you can name me one horror story that doesn’t violate the laws of nature, I’ll give you a prize.

Flash Friday: Ganymede

Ganymede’s hands shook as he lowered the jewelled pitcher to the lip of Apollo’s goblet. The ambrosia’s scent was still heady after thirty years on Mount Olympus. The liquid splashed over the goblet onto the sun god’s hand.

“Forgive me, my lord!” Ganymede cried, jumping back as if stung by a wasp.

Apollo raised his eyebrow, not getting up from his throne. “Why do you jump like this, Ganymede?”

Ganymede never realised that Apollo knew his name. “I spilled your beverage, my lord.”

Apollo laughed, “Come now boy. I will drink ambrosia forever, what’s a few drops?”

Apollo’s voice sounded like his father’s. His voice brought back memories of dark rooms and broken bones. Spilled drops of blood.

“Not a thing, my lord, not a thing.” Apollo watched, confused, as Ganymede set the pitcher beside his goblet and walked away. Ganymede felt the sun on his face as he left the throne room and stepped out onto the balcony over looking the earth.

Thirty years and he still could not forget Zeus’s voice, long after the god had grown tired of him and his forever youthful body. Long after Zeus stopped taking him to the dark room where not even Helios could see them. The sun stung his eyes.

His hands still shook, thirty years later.

(Looks like I was a day late–sorry friends! More on Ganymede on Monday)

God bless,

Kelsey J.

On Character Sheets

I’ve heard writers from all levels and all genres (except maybe poetry) praise the character sheet. “All hail the ultimate characterization resource,” they cry, waving sheets of paper and tablets in the air, “for it shall guide us through the dark times of writers block!” I myself have recently turned to character sheets, as I found myself stuck with writing my short stories.

My feelings are mixed.

They were very helpful…for stories where I didn’t have clear pictures of each character in my head. For the ones where I did, I found them tedious. I found that it didn’t inspire me to know about a character’s childhood, for example, when I already knew how their present was unfolding. I also found that most character sheets were made for novel length work, which they are extremely helpful for by the way, but this didn’t help me with my short work. I found myself Frankensteining the sheet I was using to pick out what was most useful. Not that I’m lazy (spoiler alert: I really can be) but I wished there was a specific sheet to use.

What about you guys? Do you like character sheets? What kind of work do you use them for? Let me know in the comments or on twitter or send me an email at!

God bless,

Kelsey J.

Write Like Tigger

I grew up with Winnie the Pooh, so when I saw The Te of Piglet I had a “shut up and take my money” moment. I love Piglet. My stuffed Piglet is my oldest friend. If I see something Piglet at the store, I buy it (or turn into a five year old and pester my partner until he does). I also have a healthy interest in world religions and philosophies, so the book seemed to be a win-win. Benjamin Hoff kept a great deal of the whimsy of A. A. Milne’s original work, and wrote parts as though he was having a dialogue with dear Piglet. However, I was disappointed with how much he put down Tigger. I think, while Piglet has many virtues, he doesn’t have much of a place in writing. Instead, I feel writers should write like Tigger. But Kelsey, you ask, why would a hyper active tiger be a good model for writing? If we wrote like Tigger, wouldn’t we get next to nothing done?

Not so, my friends!
Keeping with the whimsical theme, I will begin to explain this concept with rhyming and pictures.
pooh 2 You may want to write like Pooh, but there are things that Pooh forgets to do. If Pooh sat down to write a story, I imagine he would find it boring, or he’d get distracted and wander away, perhaps in search of a donkey grey.
eeyore 2
If you want to write like Eeyore, you better step away from the keyboard, for Eeyore often loses things, like ideas, or his tail on it’s string. He also tends to get depressed, and doesn’t like to leave the nest.
piglet 2
Writing like poor Piglet would be the worst, filled with so much fear threatening to burst, he’d probably like to try and write, but  become filled with terrible fright, too afraid to show his work, afraid of critics that on the internet lurk, Piglet may be full of truth, but to write like him would be like pulling a tooth. Yes, to write like Piglet would be sad, but don’t worry, it’s not all bad!
tigger 2
Write like Tigger, enthusiastic and proud, don’t be afraid to get a little loud, learn every day and observe your friends, and you’ll find you’ll write stories to the end!

Tigger, of all the characters, shows the most zest for life and adventure. Tigger is not afraid to do what he wants—even if he winds up doing it alone. As writers, we must love life, or at the very least, love aspects of the world around us. Do you want to read a story written with no enthusiasm? Then don’t. At the same time, we cannot be afraid to be alone. I’ve written before about how writing isn’t purely solitary, but a writer must be prepared for some degree of loneliness. If Pooh and Piglet (mostly Rabbit, to be honest) don’t want to join Tigger on his adventures, then Tigger goes alone. Writing is your adventure, don’t be afraid to walk some parts of the path alone.

Tigger is passionate and cares deeply about his friends. A writer should care deeply about their work. They should show pride, show love, show displeasure. Work you don’t care about won’t gain any readers. It’s like having a conversation with a friend who’s only half awake.

Tigger appears to be kind of a joyful idiot. However, despite his joyful and oblivious exterior, he has keen observations. For example, Tigger always seems to notice how Eeyore feels–even if Tigger’s attempts to ‘help’ Eeyore often go terribly wrong. Writers need keen observations to succeed. As a writer, you will have to find ways to explain behavior, ways to describe people, places and things.
Tigger is not afraid to admit when he fails, and he gets back up. For example, in The Tigger Movie, Tigger gets low when he realizes that he truly is the only one of his kind.
Tigger also freely admits when he screws up, with some prompting occasionally.

In your writing career, you are going to fail. I’m 21 and I already have failed projects and rejections under my belt. Most writers, more than I can summarize here, say they fail 97% of the time. But what seperates writers from the aspirers is that determination to get back up. That determination to admit, I failed. I’m low.

It’s okay to be low. Everyone goes there. And it is really okay to fail. Literally everyone has.
What matters is the ability to bounce back.
I made a pinterest board to go with this post! 

Making of: A Love Song for Robby

The Making Of: A Love Song for Robby
The Beginning
   I was 13 when I picked up some Isaac Asimov books at a garage
sale in Regina, SK…and I was HOOKED. After a few short stories, robots now rivaled mutants as my favourite science fiction creature. Mutants, in my mind, work in science fiction as either a representative of science gone wrong or how the lowest people in our society are currently treated (see: X-Men or the Chyrsalids)
Robots can also be an expression of science gone wrong…as well as a comment on the place of the working class, on the place of technology in a future society (or our own), what it means to be human/conscious/have a soul…
I wish I could say that that was the main inspiration for Robby…but if you’ve been
following PTSDiaries you could probably guess that it isn’t. For those of you who are new or who haven”t been following PTSDiaries, I’m a survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by my ex-boyfriend. I don’t remember how exactly those two elements came together because I wrote “A Love Song for Robby” (“Robby”) when I was 16. I imagine it was during one of my male friend’s conversations about sex-bots or my friends impassioned ideas to change the world or during a news report. I do remember thinking: would it be easier for society if pedohiles had an inanimate object to take out their urges on? Who would get
it? How would it work? Would it actually stop the offending, or just act like a band-aid?With those ideas, I was off and running.
Despite my experience, I wanted to write a story about a young boy being abused by a family member. It is an unfortunate fact that the perpetrators of most child abuse is someone known to the victim, most often the parent. I didn’t want to get that squicky, so I made the abuser the brother of my main character, Andy.
I wanted my main character to be a boy after I disliked the first draft of the story where I made Andy a girl. The more research I did, the more I wanted to write about a male. In my research, I realized that male victims of sexual
abuse don’t have a platform to speak out, and due to toxic standards of masculinity, were often silent for years and years and years. I wanted to tell their story, because I felt that mine, as a sexually abused girl, had already been told.
I wanted to make my story about a boy and his robot and sexual abuse believable, sensitive and most of all, touching heartwarming (bad choice of word, there). I watched several documentaries about abuse, and found several websites that helped me make “Robby” accurate. Here are the best ones:
I also researched robotics as I rewrote and rewrote the story. I was particularly interested in the Uncanny Valley hypothesis ( in terms of how human I wanted to make Robby. The Uncanny Valley Hypothesis basically postulates that the closer a robot comes to being human the creepier it becomes. The exception, of course, are robots indistinguishable from humans, but that comes with it’s own set of problems. I decided to make Robby very cartoon-like, much like these robots:
I also researched how sex bot technology was advancing, (Very well, evidently: 

). Of course, more important than finding a robot to bang is the ethics behind such robots. I found these two links in my last re-write. Though it may feel cheap, these experts can explain the complex ethics behind robots built for sexual gratification.

Of course, research can only do so much.. (and should, because most of this research left me wanting to shower)
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve rewritten “Robby” or edited “Robby” or considered smashing “Robby”.  The first big edit was after the first time I presented the story in Creative Writing Club way back in high school. The second was after I found it again after a computer crash and had to rewrite it from the halfway point. The third was after sharing it with my adult writing group, the phantasts. The fourth is ongoing—since my story was edited before the contest, and then more edits for it were suggested, I’m counting both under “contest edits”.
Publication Attempts
If there is a science fiction market, I’ve sent Robby to it. I’ve sent it to anthologies, I’ve sent it to magazines. This is over a period of six years. The first time Robby came even close to published (ie: not a form rejection) was when I sent it to L. Ron Hubbard’s  Writers of the Future contest, where it placed as an honorable mention. After this, I sent it to the In Places Between Contest, where it made the top ten (ending up winning) and was published. FINALLY.
But not quite.
The judges of the contest gave me some very excellent feedback, and recommended trying to publish it further. I already made a cool one hundred twenty five and got the thing published. Am I going to push it further? You bet. I want as many people as possible to see this story, and hopefully touch some hearts in the process.
The moral of the story
Robby and I have had a 5 year journey together. No matter how young or how old you are, the journey to publication is long, hard and full of rewrites. Most importantly, it’s never ending. Is it worth it? For freaking sure. Nothing is more rewarding than seeing your work in print and receiving positive regard from your peers. Nothing is more rewarding than people telling you that they loved your work. Moral: Determination is worth it. All of this is worth it.
Keep writing.
God Bless,
Kelsey J.
I made a companion pinterest board here: