Photograph copyright Rhonda Parrish


Photograph copyright Rhonda ParrishI chose that image to go with this post because to me it feels cold and rather desolate. I think that’s as good a way as any to visualise disappointment, which is what this is all about.


Disappointment is buying a paperback copy of a gorgeous anthology you believe contains one of your stories, tearing open the package and turning the book over to look at the back cover, where all the contributors names are listed and not finding your own. Disappointment is opening the book and running trembling fingers down the table of contents, scanning for your name, the name of your story and finding nothing. Which is precisely what happened to me a couple weeks ago.

Disappointment sucks. It sucks so much that I decided I needed to take a step back before I blogged about it, because I didn’t want this to turn into a rant or some such thing. I’m not sure what the point of it is, actually, except perhaps catharsis.

A couple years ago one of my stories was accepted for inclusion in the aforementioned anthology. Full disclosure: I never signed a contract. As it was a non-paying market I wasn’t completely surprised by that, lots of small markets (especially ones who don’t pay) don’t seem to have contracts. Anyway, I digress.

I assumed, weirdly enough, that my story, which was accepted to the anthology, was included in the anthology. I blogged about the publication, I added it to my list of Publications on my website and I, eventually, picked up a copy of the book to add it to my ego shelf.

So, not only was my story not included, but I spent money to find that out. Not loads of money, but that’s hardly the point, is it?

Now, to be fair, the story that was accepted isn’t my finest. In fact, if it hadn’t made it into that anthology it would have been trunked, but since it was accepted into the anthology… *sigh*

Anyway. I wouldn’t have been super disappointed if the editors had dropped me an email to say ‘Hey, sorry but we’re not going to include this story after all.’ But they didn’t.

I don’t know if my story being left out was an oversight (the production didn’t seem super organised) or intentional, but either way? It fucking sucks.

All it would have taken was an email, ya know?

Anyway, since it wasn’t actually accepted elsewhere and because I’m feeling particularly… somethingy (defiant, maybe?) today, here’s the story that got unaccepted to an anthology:

True to Life

It started when Shion friended me on Facebook. How awesome is that? I thought. Someone liked her story well enough to create a profile for her. As her creator, I was overjoyed as I clicked accept on the request.

Shion stayed perfectly in-character. Even the applications she added seemed right. No Words with Friends or Slots of course (she was barely-literate and the daughter of a compulsive gambler), but her years spent working real farms hadn’t turned her off Farmville. She excelled at it, building her farm to epic proportions. I mean, as epic as a pixilated farm can be.

A few days later when Raven added me on Twitter I returned the favor. Huh, I thought, this pretending to be my characters thing must be contagious.

It wasn’t until Twilyte invited me to join her mafia family that I knew something was wrong. Very wrong. I’d written plenty about her, the thing was, I hadn’t published any of it. Hadn’t even sent any out. She was a rather cheesy character who I simultaneously loved and was embarrassed by, so I’d never even told anyone about her.

Still, someone had found out about her somehow. I scanned my computer for spyware and viruses, using several different programs for each, just in case. I didn’t find anything. I wracked my brain to think of who could have seen anything with her in it on accident; a file open on my laptop, for example. But I live alone and tend to be a bit of an urban hermit. I couldn’t remember the last time someone other than the pizza delivery man had been in my apartment. It just didn’t make sense.

Then Shion sent me a message asking for my credit card number to buy things on Farmville. At first I was outraged, but then I figured it must be a joke. I wrote back ‘Ha ha, I guess as your creator I owe you an allowance or something.’ Shion replied with one word: Exactly.

I was not amused.

Raven was driving me crazy on Twitter. He never tweeted anything worth reading, just lists of peoples names with an #ff tag on the end. Not only on Fridays either, which would be annoying enough, but everyday. I tried to explain that he was spamming and no one wanted to follow a spammer, but he just said “Haters gotta hate” and kept doing it. I tried to unfollow him but I kept getting the ‘Whoops, something has gone wrong’ error message.


Meanwhile, back on Facebook, Twilyte had created a group that said if 10,000 people joined I would publish a book of stories about her. I sent her a message explaining I had no intention of doing that. Half-elven assassins are cliché and over-done, I said. My 872 members say otherwise, was her response.

The final straw came by way of Dakari’s friend request. Dakari was still a work in progress. A nebulous character I hadn’t quite nailed down yet. I thought a lot about him, but no far hadn’t written a word. Perhaps, I thought, it could be a coincidence, a similar name. Sadly, a visit to his profile put that hope to rest.

It was Dakari, all right. My Dakari. His information was only half filled-in, but there was no room for doubt. I thought I must be going crazy. I e-mailed a friend and asked her to look at their pages, just to make sure I wasn’t imagining them. I wasn’t. She saw them all just fine. In fact, she became member #1632 of Twilyte’s group.

I checked my internet history to make sure I hadn’t made the profiles myself and forgotten. Like, because I was sleepwalking or dissociating or something. No such luck.

Then Dakari became my friend on Facebook even though I hadn’t accepted his request. Almost immediately he started sending me messages and posting on my wall, demanding I write his story. That’s when things began to snowball.

Shion saw his comments on my wall and joined the conversation, insisting I write the sequel to her story before beginning Dakari’s. Raven, who had recently joined Facebook in addition to Twitter, became enraged at that idea because he thought my time would be better spent with him. Meanwhile, Twilyte kept updating me on how many members were in her group.

Ironically, perhaps, all the time I could have spent writing about those guys went to scrubbing their rants off my wall and replying to @s on Twitter. I tried ignoring them but they wouldn’t stop and it was driving people away. People I didn’t want to alienate. Fans, publishers, my agent.

Michael friended me on livejournal today. He was a character in a stand-alone short story, but now he has a fantastic idea on how to tie that into a novel. And I have to write it. Of course.

I’m going mad, assuming I’m not there already and it’s obvious there is only one solution to my problem, one way to regain some control over my life and my writing. It makes me sad, though. I know I’ll be able to keep in touch with most of my friends through other means, but I’m really going to miss @God_Damn_Batman.


P.S. I don’t know if there’s a moral to this story, all I know is that it sucked.



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13 thoughts on “Unaccepted?”

  1. Well the anthology-acceptance-that-wasn’t-story totally SUCKS. 🙁 I think you could have a thousand publishing credits and that would still SUCK.

    But, I loved your story. It made me laugh. Kazka press has a writing theme for next month–this seems perfect for it.

  2. Sorry to hear about that – there is FAR too much of this sort of thing. Too many publishers and magazines (and agents) that can’t seem to master even basic communication. Or politeness. I speak as someone who has just pulled a novel from a publisher as they’ve done next to nothing with it in eighteen months. They genrally claim they’re too busy. Hah! Try being a writer and having a full-time job, right?

  3. Ugh Rhonda that sucks. So sorry to hear it. I’ve run into my fair share of amateur editors and you just want to shake them–best work or no, it’s your work, and should be treated as such. So unprofessional. But I wouldn’t trunk it yet, or perhaps turn it into a free download or somesuch? There’s always a way to use a good story.

  4. Yeah, it sucks, but it happens. One of the first things I learned about the world of publications is never count a publication ’til it’s published. Too many things can go wrong between acceptance and publication.

    It would have been nice if the editors told you that they were dropping your story from the antho, but some editors are bad about communicating bad news like that. You’re right, all it would have taken was an e-mail, but some can’t be bothered to send one.

    Look at it this way: if it was a non-paying market, you’re not out any money!

    1. Look at it this way: if it was a non-paying market, you’re not out any money!

      Except the $25 I spent to buy a copy of the anthology.

  5. Well, I COULD have said it’s all part of the business of publications, that it’s only business, and don’t take it personally.

    However, I do know the sting of having something “unaccepted”. It is disappointing. It does hurt.

    Maybe in your case it was simply an oversight. Things do fall through the cracks on occasion.

    1. Yeah, I don’t know if it fell through a crack or someone made a deliberate decision somewhere and just didn’t tell me. As you say though, it sucks either way.

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