Not really, no. So why do I have a new dragon story that I’m giving away to my readers? Check out the trailer and get your free copy, but be sure to come back and get the story behind the story.
So what’s the story behind the story?
I was recently invited, by the editors at WMG Publishing, to participate in a unique and interesting experience not many authors get a chance to do. They sent invitations to a select number of writers to gather on the Oregon coast, having written stories to specification beforehand. Each of the seven editors came with the task of putting together an anthology for the Fiction River series, and each anthology had a theme. The interesting part is that we all had the opportunity to read all the stories in advance and witness the editing process in action as the editors evaluated and made their choices.
Strip me naked, slice me up, and don’t spare the lemon juice.
Writing is an intimate, soul-baring exercise in vulnerability and every writer, upon submitting their work, struggles through doubt, tortured with curiosity to know what the editor thinks of their piece and, if it gets rejected, why. Hardly anyone ever gets that particular curiosity satisfied. We put the rejection slip on the stack, or burn it, or paper our walls with it, but we rarely know the reasons or circumstances under which it was issued.
So it was refreshing, enlightening, and freeing to realize there are a myriad of reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the writing. To all the writers out there with a collection of rejections—really, REALLY, don’t take it personally. Hone your craft and send out your best work, but don’t beat yourself up over rejections. Many of the stories that got rejected over the course of my week on the coast were top-notch stories that simply fell afoul of an editor’s personal taste or hit the editor’s desk at an inopportune moment. For example, one story involved a pretty intense hospital situation and the editor had just suffered the loss of a dear friend who died in the hospital.
What does all this have to do with dragons?
So one of the editors, Allyson Longuera, asked for dragon stories. She wanted us to get inside the dragon’s head, explore the dragon viewpoint, feel the dragon and bring it to life. I thought I had written just what she was looking for. I had fun with Beneath Babylon and ended up really liking the story, and I had high hopes that Allyson would like it too, but there was something about Allyson I didn’t know, and that destroyed any chance of this story getting into her anthology. Allyson hates horror.
While I don’t consider Beneath Babylon to be a horror story, it does draw upon some elements of the genre to set the tone. I had lunch with Allyson the day after the story got rejected, and she told me that she was reading and enjoying right up to the point when it started looking like a slasher film.
“There’s no way you could have known that about me,” she said. “The story itself is a good one and you shouldn’t have any problem finding an audience for it.”
That’s great and all, but what do I do with a dragon?
“What markets would you suggest?” I asked. “This is totally outside my usual type of story and I have no idea where to take it.”
“Do you have a following, a group of regular readers?”
I told her about my reader’s group, those who’ve signed up for my email list to get bonuses and regular updates.
“Why don’t you use the story as a way to connect with them? Tell them about your experience here with me and the other editors at WMG and make a gift of the story to them, a show of thanks for their support.”
It sounded like an excellent idea to me, so that’s what I’ve done. If you’re already a member of my reader’s group, you’ll receive a download link by email for your free story. If you’re not yet a member, join us and get your free copy. You’ll also get a free book, What Leads A Man To Murder.
I really appreciate the readers who accompany and support me on my writer’s journey, and it is my fervent hope that I bring something of value to them as well—moments of enjoyment, insight, or emotional stimulation, fragments of truth or beauty, the hopeful resonance of the power of story.