Help Me Help You

April 21, 2018

Over the past few days, I’ve noticed a sheer lack of respect, or even consideration, for other people. I know that can be a pretty broad statement, but several things have really stuck with me and it’s bugging me beyond belief.

At work (yes, I still have a day job unfortunately…) on Wednesday, we had a customer appreciation day. It was busy, and a lot of our regular customers were there. While they were slappin’ high fives and hugging the other employees, they barely brushed my hand instead of shaking it, didn’t look me in the eye, and walked on by. These are the people that ask for specific employees on the phone just to ask if something is in stock, as if I’m so stupid I can’t do it myself.

Did I do something to piss them off? Do they just not adapt to change? I mean, I’ve been there for two years!

So yesterday I took one of these guys’ order. He was patient while I was checking the computer for a specific item that we never sell. I found it, printed out his claim slip, and he made some comment about how I don’t cut him a deal like everyone else. Look, prices are prices, so sorry I don’t break the rules and take money off for a customer we only see once a week, if that.

What do these people expect? I know it’s a competitive market out there, but seriously…I didn’t personally decide to screw you over.

Last night, I’m at a fast food place. The employees clearly don’t want to be there doing their jobs. So a lot of customers were receiving food made incorrectly, waiting way too long, and not even getting the right things they ordered. When someone finally asked to talk to the manager, they had to wait for the lady to come out of her office, grumbling about it, and deal with the problem that never should have happened.

7 PM on a Friday is a busy time at any restaurant. They signed up for this job, and sure, people are allowed to have a bad day. But how hard is it, really? Just to listen, take an order, read it back, and give someone their receipt—none of these things happened!

This week, I won a few ebay auctions. All from the same seller, so I paid right away and eagerly awaited my shipment. It arrived today! I still don’t have positive feedback—why? Oh, that’s right, they’re waiting for my feedback to determine what they say about me. Not how it works, folks, but what do you care? Well guess what else—one of the items is wrong!

I am totally forgiving on this. Of all the auctions that person was running, every item was in the same packaging, and from the same product line (miniatures, of course). But still, were they in that much of a hurry that they couldn’t read a few simple words on the package?

I emailed, and hopefully will get a response today. Not to be cynical, but I highly doubt it. (I also requested positive feedback, so we’ll see how that goes.)

Why do I make mention of this? Well, I’m just sick of people not fulfilling their end of the bargain. I’m sick of people acting like no one else matters but them. What ever happened to working together? What about banding together in face of all the horrible things going on in the world today?

Yep, I’m going to relate this to the struggle of a writer. Behold.

Back in November, I submitted a story to a fairly large publication. They pay well, and have a large readership. More than that, their website is phenomenal. I mean really, how many online magazines have shitty websites? It really detracts from the experience.

But I digress. On January 28th, I received an email from them. My story is being held for the next round of scrutinizing! That’s awesome—it might get published in that magazine! Happy me.

The big thing to remember with this was that it might take up to three months to hear back. 90 days. That would be on or around April 28th, would it not? Sorry, I suck at math, but let’s go with that. And isn’t April 28th a week from today?

I still haven’t heard from them. I honestly don’t think I will.

Their submission guidelines basically say not to contact them unless they have said to do so. If they’re not interested, and they don’t say this directly, but pretty much, they won’t get back to you.

There are a metric ton of publications like this. I’m not kidding—ask any writer.

Rude. Irritating. And a definitely lack of respect for their writers. Look, you made us wait all this time, and you’re not going to give us the common decency to let us know you don’t want our stories? Fine, we’ll just let other people know how you treat hard working writers, and that it might not be worth their time an effort to submit to you.

Petty? Sure. Immature? Of course. But at least I’m helping others. And it’s more than I can say for a lot of these publications. Because I care about more than just myself—I care about helping others, and making sure they know what they’re getting into.

Because if not for others to help, how would we get along in this world? Not very well, and that’s what frightens me the most.

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Unprofessionalism

November 20, 2016

Unprofessional. It’s a word no one likes to hear, especially when directed at themselves. Well, some people get a kick out of it, but that’s usually a false reaction, fake laughter used to cover up the pain of the reality that someone has just dumped on them worse than The Rock giving Mankind all those chairshots way back in ’99.

Ahem. Anyway.

No one likes to hear it, and no one wants to believe it’s true. But there are times when even the most depraved, the most “lower-rung” people need to shout it out, and let someone know. Or sometimes, let something know.

Like a publication, perhaps.

Don’t get me wrong, professionalism is rampant in the publishing industry. I would certainly hope that no publication would go to “print” if it wasn’t up to snuff, but the people behind it can sure have some unprofessional behaviors.

Some really shitty unprofessional behaviors.

I understand I’m at their mercy. I send them a story in the hopes that not only are they going to publish it and help boost my career by however much more it can with the people that read their magazine, but also in hopes that they’ll hand me money. I get it. I don’t have a lot of room to complain.

So why do I have to sit and wait with my mouth shut when they break their promises?

A very major, very well known science-fiction publication currently has a story of mine for consideration in an upcoming issue. One thing I love about them is they have a monitoring system, where I can see the progress on the story. Is it simply received? Is it under review? Has it been rejected? I can see with my own eyes the answer to that question! Holy fuck the future kicks ass!

They tell us writers to wait about two weeks before we get an answer. In worst case scenarios, it could take upwards of three months! I get it—a popular mag like that, especially one that pays as well as it does, and they’ll definitely have a massive slush pile to get through. Even with twenty first readers working around the clock, I can believe that they’ll have a lengthy wait.

Well, it’s been almost four months. Guess what the status on my story is?

Received.

Fucking received. They haven’t even opened it up and read it yet! And guess what? If I email them and follow the progress from that moment on, I guarantee that within 24 hours the progress will go from under review to rejected. Then they’ll send me a form letter without an apology, and move on.

Because fuck me, right?

Because I’m just a flyspeck in the grand scheme of science fiction, and they know it.

Because they’re unprofessional.

I’m tempted to email, and have been for some time. Oh no, I won’t be asking about the progress of my story. I’ll be telling them to just forget about it. I know and they know, before even reading the story, that their answer is going to be no.

Cynical? Damn straight. Honest and realistic? You better believe it. Irritated and frustrated? Of course I am.

Look, I get it. I’m no one. I’m not a well-known author that they’d be honored to publish. My story might be good, it might even be great. But I have to be realistic here. They haven’t bothered to look at it yet, so why would they give a flying rat’s ass about it now?

The same goes for a lot of publications, too. They hold on to your story forever, only to give you the most basic rejection letter. Reading some of the editor’s blogs from these magazines, however, I can only come to the conclusion that they’re more interested in people paying attention to them and the crazy, goofy, nerdy hobbies that they partake in than the magazine they’ve signed on to edit.

Unprofessional.

If I were editing a project, something I plan to do in the future, I wouldn’t make it about me. It’d be about the hard working authors who submit their stories to it. It’d be about the stories themselves, not the lines I’ve broken just to add my voice into the chorus of mewling people hoping to change something that isn’t even in need of fixing. It’d be about the entertainment that you, the reader, gets out of it.

Not me.

But hey, I can’t change that. I’ve recently decided that since the few publications available to me aren’t even acknowledging my existence, I’ve got to move on from short stories. I’ve got to move on to finishing the big works, and getting them out there.

I’ve got to make this matter, and say fuck you to the unprofessional assholes who’ve tried to keep me down.

Now, you’re probably wondering, what if one of those magazines does accept my story? What if they do eventually get back to me? What if something really bad happened, like a bad injury/illness/death? I’ll accept that, but you know what? I hope they understand they just need to maintain their promises. I’ve learned that there are some people just not worth your time when it comes to these things, and I really hope that list doesn’t keep growing.

“Why not just self-publish, Myke? Only you are in your own way in that case.”

I did. Don’t you remember? Surely you downloaded or purchased one of my stories, and then left a nice review for it, right? Sure you did.

Just get over it, right? Just deal with it. No one wants to hear my bitching. I get it, sure I do. But don’t make a promise and then expect everyone to bend over and back away.

It’s a strange life I’ve chosen. I’ve gotten used to the let-downs, but trust me, it doesn’t mean I have to like it. And that is professional on my behalf.

Updates

October 30, 2016

There have been some good things going on lately. A few bad, too, but isn’t that par for the course? I’m not on top of the world, but things are looking up, so I’ll take that as a win.

The Good:

-The poll that I’m in is going very well. Thanks to everyone who has voted for me! I appreciate the assistance and support. It’s good to know that so many people believe in me. Even if I don’t win, I know I’ve got more than enough love from all of you, and you’ve got mine as well.

-Some publications that I’ve submitted to are taking longer than usual to get back to me. I know that this doesn’t necessarily mean anything and I really shouldn’t get my hopes up, it’s nice to think that they’re deliberating over my work. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get that long awaited email very, very soon and have a new reason to dance on top of a table.

-A year or so ago, I wrote a story that was basically my realistic take on He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. You all know how much I love MOTU, and I really love the sword & sorcery aspect to it, not to mention the sci-fantasy twist. I’ve written a lot of stuff like that, but never anything inspired so directly by it. By realistic, I mean that it’s going to have much more adult themes, and more understanding of how and why things are the way they are other than simply to sell toys.

Well, the story ended on an ambiguous note. Apparently, no one wanted it because it doesn’t slap you in the face and tell you directly what happens at the end. Yep, you read that correctly: publishers think that you’re an idiot and need me to hold your hand and tell you straight up what’s going on.

So I decided to make this into a serialized story. As of now, there will be 7 parts to it. I’ve been busting ass on part 2, and am almost done…but every day I say I’ll finish it, and life happens. Could today be the day? I hope so—it’ll allow me to get the rest of it done as well!

-Lots of people have been interested in my Halloween story! The sheer amount of exposure I’ve got with it is amazing! But maybe you could support a struggling author? It’s only $.99, folks!

The Bad:

-A publication has had my story since June 27th. They haven’t even opened it and looked at it yet. Come on, this is one of the biggest and most well-known pubs in the USA. You can find it at any chain bookstore, fer cryin’ out loud! I know they’ll say know (yeah yeah, so what if I’m cynical?), but why make me wait so long? Unprofessional, I say. Feh!

-I don’t have as much time to write as I’d like. Typical, but I’m trying so hard to do it and life just keeps getting in the way.

-I haven’t even started looking at getting “In the Pale Moonlight” published. A friend was supposed to be reading it, but she hasn’t said word one about it. I really need to get off my arse and just do it!

That’s all. I’m happy and working, but need to get it moving a little better. Wish me luck, and stay awesome!

Desperation<Antsy

September 27, 2016

Early in 2015, I got desperate.

My job wasn’t working out very well, and my boss thought that changing departments would help my case. It had the potential to do so, but I had no desire to be there. Aside from that, I wasn’t working typical 8 hour shifts at 40 hours a week, but anywhere from 8-12 hours a day for as many hours a week as I could cram in.

I hated it!

Not to mention, my debt was terrible. I had no discernable or legal way of getting it taken care of in the next ten years, if that. The clock was ticking and I was hurting. Of course I looked for new jobs like you wouldn’t believe, but I had to find a way to get that immediate, quick burst of extra money.

Well hey, I’m a writer, so I figured, why not write a story or two that might actually sell? I mean, I’ve been trying to sell stories for money for a while now, but if I pay attention to what the high paying markets are accepting, I’m sure to get published and make some moolah, right?

Yeah, no.

I searched for the greatest science fiction short stories of all time. Many lists came up, but most of the stories were the same, albeit in different slots. I bought several issues of current sci-fi magazines, and checked out what was popular online. A few things stood out to me, so I took some notes.

In February (2015, natch), I wrote two stories. Well, more than that, but two specifically for this purpose. One I wasn’t happy with, and haven’t touched. But the other, I was just certain it would be the moneymaker, the contest winner, the Hugo nominee, the claim to fame.

Nope.

I’ve been sending that thing out for practically nine months now (funny how immediate need for money doesn’t start attempting to happen until almost a year after we start it!). There have been some nibbles, some lingering interest, but nothing really. A contest gave it an honorable mention, but let’s face it, honorable mentions don’t pay the bills.

Now look, you’re probably yelling at your monitor now that I shouldn’t be writing just for money. It’s a labor of love, right? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is what I went to college for. This is what I want to do for a living. I love writing, I’ll never give it up, but if I can call this a profession as opposed to the hobby I barely have time for, I’ll be a happy Myke.

So you’re thinking, Myke, you’ve written stuff like this before. Why beat a dead horse into the ground again? This isn’t Donald Trump vs. Hilary Clinton. Definitely not Fox News, ABC news, CBS news, or NBC news. There’s no need for this Kardashian kind of stuff!

There’s a publication that this story has been submitted to for several months now. I can’t argue that they’re going slow because A)They pay very well, and B)They have an open submission period. Still, I’m afraid that I’m going to be sitting here waiting, only to receive a “Sorry, but no” when something else, anything else, could have happened.

Maybe that’s just wishful thinking. Maybe I’m right. Or maybe they’ll email me today to tell me congrats! Whatever the case, I’m getting antsy.

I don’t want this dream to die. Hopefully, they’re not killing it.

Several weeks ago, I received an email.  It was one of those emails that you’re always dreading opening, but more than relieved when you do.  The news in there was not fame and fortune, but a potential doorway to those things was opened.  Yes ladies and gentlemen, someone wrote to tell me they wanted my story.

I’m always happy by this.  The payoff was $10, but hey, it’s a sale!  Another listing for my writing resume, another name for editors to notice when they are deciding whether I am worth publishing or not.  I mean, they’re looking at the quality of my writing more than anything, of course, but I have a feeling that the more publications one has, an editor opens their eyes just that much more.  Or not…but that’s not the purpose of this.

The point it, I was elated.  More than thrilled.  It was a story that I highly doubted would ever get published.  It was a publication that had turned me down numerous times.  It was $10 that I can use to…huh.  Well, I’ll figure that out later.

So I went ahead and email the editor back.  Sure, I said, I’d love to be published by you!  Please let me know if I need to do anything, or just sit tight.

And since then, I have been.

I haven’t heard back from him.  That was early July.  Today is September 2.  I mean, he hasn’t even email to apologize for the wait, maybe let me know that he’s hella busy and will sent a contract, or news, or money, or whatever, when he has time?

Nope.  Nothing.  At all.

And it isn’t just this one.  There are contests I’ve applied to.  Anthologies, that had strict deadlines.  I even had a rewrite request, back in May.  Well, where’s the “Please hold tight while we continue reviewing, we are busy as hell right now”?  I did get one of those, but that was late June.  So far, nothing!

I know, I know.  If you want an answer now, then it is a resounding NO.  But I’d like an answer sometime…hell, just an acknowledgment.

I get it.  Editors are people too.  They don’t always edit their online magazine as their only job.  In fact, they’re lucky to even focus on it more than once a week.  Don’t you just think it’s rather…rude to leave people hanging like this?

I know there are others out there who agree with me.  One of the worst things is not knowing whether or not you should submit your story to another publication.  Because let me tell you, waiting on pins and needles for up to six months (sometimes more!) just to hear a bullshit “we are sorry but this does not fit our needs at the current moment” blowoff is, well, bullshit.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am perfectly willing and able to wait.  But when it’s obvious they never even looked at it, it’s obvious they couldn’t give two shits about you or your story, what are we doing this for?

Because we love it.  And no one can take that away, no matter how long you have to wait.

Still, I’d love an answer…