The Under Ground Writing Project

Making writers right since 2008.

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Rejection Collection Challenge!

Posted by Jenny Maloney on July 1, 2013 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (1)

All right guys, we're officially six months down in 2013. Halfway there. 

Who has rejections? Lay 'em on me. 

I have, well, I have a lot. Which would be depressing except that there are a lot more personal rejections in the pile this year. A lot more saying "Please try us again." And some of them from some pretty damn awesome magazines. So, that's heartening. 

How's about you?

Non-Fiction Publication: Dog Attack

Posted by Ali on May 30, 2013 at 12:30 PM Comments comments (0)

About a year and a half ago, my dog and I were attacked during a walk. I wrote an article about it and it just went up on xoJane today. They have a format that features personal stories, they call them "It Happened To Me" and I felt like it'd be the perfect format for the story.


I'm excited to have it up, though, sadly, have noticed a few typos I didn't catch before submission. If you're going to click over, I'll warn you - it gets a bit gorey both in the text and in the included pictures.


If you click over, please take a minute to drop a note in the comments section of the article.

The Truth About Rejection Letters

Posted by Ali on January 11, 2013 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (0)

In a timely happy accident, I just stumbled on a fun piece about rejection letters over at Shimmer magazine. Tagline: "All rejection letters are written by badgers." Now, go read it.

Happy Friday!

The 2013 Rejection Collection Challenge!!

Posted by Jenny Maloney on December 31, 2012 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)

First off:

Happy New Years Eve!

(Everyone make sure to drive safely.) 

As you all know, 'tis that time of year again. That time when we're all promising to hunker down and finish that novel. We're gonna write more words - Better Words. This year is the year! 

Well, if your goal is to get published this year, I am re-instigating the UGWP Rejection Collection Challenge!

For those of you new to the Rejection Collection Challenge, here is the 4-1-1:

Submit your work to magazines, agents, or publishers throughout the year. If you collect three rejection letters - or one rejection letter and one ACCEPTANCE LETTER OF AWESOMENESS -  I will cook you a baked good of some kind (cookies, brownies, cakes, etc.) if you are a member of UGWP that I see in real life. If you are a website member you will get a Bragging Rights Post and cyber-baked-goods that you'll have to use your imagination to consume.

That's it. Pretty straightforward, huh?

I know, I know. Some of you are asking: Why are we getting props for rejections? Doesn't that just prove we're losers? 

NO! If you get rejections it proves that you are being brave, bold, and showing faith in your work. It means you are putting yourself out there. It means that you believe your work is good enough for people who are not your loving parents to read. That is something to be celebrated. 

It's also the only way to ever, ever get published. No editor is going to walk up to you on the street and say, "Hey, you look like a brilliant writer. I should publish you. What do you have languishing on your hard drive?"

If you won't take my word for it, here's a great article from The Review Review on how submission phobia holds writers back. Don't be one of those writers. Be one of the badass submitting writers. Show no fear.

And if you're successful at rejection, we'll brag about you. 

Duotrope: Story Inspirations

Posted by Ali on September 27, 2012 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

You already know Duotrope is a handy place to find markets for submitting your work.  What you might not know is that it's also a treasure trove of story ideas.  One of the fun things about writing is playing with perspectives.  You look at something and think, "How can I look at it in a little bit different way?"  It's kind of like macro photography, you zoom in at a unique angle and even though you're showing something people have seen before, it looks a little different.

If you go to Duotrope and look at the Calendar, you'll see lists of ideas that markets are looking for.  Some are pretty standard, like "Dragons."  Others are more interesting blends:

Cthulhu and Fairy Tales

Alternate Zombie History

"And You Think Razor Wire Will Keep Me Out?"

Interestingly, there seem to be a lot of markets looking for a combination of fairy tales and horror themes.  Go figure.

So, the next time you're trying to  figure out something to write about, cruise the Calendar and see what strikes you.  Lots of writing prompts floating around there, and you know for a fact there's a market looking for precisely what you're about to write.

Submitting Short Stories

Posted by Jenny Maloney on September 24, 2012 at 8:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Tucked away in a file on my computer is a folder titled "Submittable Short Stories." This is where I stash the short stories that I feel are good enough to be published. I've edited them. I've fiddled. Polished. Rewritten seven or eight times in some cases. They're as ready to go as I can make them.


From there, I hit Duotrope. If you have never been to Duotrope - or if you've been there and haven't created an account - you need to go there and you need to create an account. This is THE most comprehensive database of literary magazines and anthologies anywhere. If you've been hunting for places to send your'll be blown away by the amount of data available on this website. Plus, it's free. They do ask for donations and if you can spare a few bucks to keep them free, please do so. It's well worth it.


Cool things that you can see on Duotrope: payment scales, whether or not a magazine accepts simultaneous submissions, whether or not a magazine is currently accepting submissions, online vs print periodicals, and the acceptance/rejection stats based on reports to Duotrope. And Duotrope tracks all of your submissions for you don't need that Excel spreadsheet - though you can export your submission information if you feel the need for a backup.


On Duotrope, I've made up a list of favorites. These are the magazines that I want to (and will) be published in. I poke through them and see if any of the stories that are currently in my "Submittable" folder would be appropriate for these magazines. I can't afford subscriptions - but I do read any available stories or excerpts they post online. I do buy copies of lit magazines when I have the chance and funds. And I do read yearly Best Of anthologies to read the best of the best, and what magazines are publishing them. So I think I've got a pretty good gauge on who is putting out what and where.


Once I've got a place to submit to - or sometimes several places to submit to - I figure out whether or not they accept online submissions. For online submissions, let me tell you the other place that you're gonna need an account: Submittable. This is the website used by a lot of the literary magazines. The good news is, that if you have an account with Submittable, you don't have to enter your personal information (name, address, etc) on a form every time. Submittable saves all that stuff for you...and it offers another place to track your submissions.


Then I hit send. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.


I also keep printed copies of the submittable short stories so that I don't have to print them out every time. At least five copies of each - I'm realistic when it comes to getting rejections...five is actually an optimistic number. That way I can focus on putting together a cover letter, which I do try to personalize. My bio paragraph is pretty much the same, but in the first paragraph I try to be more personable. (Hayden's Ferry Review once thanked me for that.) Then I slap the cover letter on, and mail off the stories.


When the rejections come in, I track them on Duotrope - which has an option to label a rejection as personal or form. I see if that story was a simultaneous submission, and if it was, I turn around and send it to another magazine that accepts simultaneous submissions.


And a note on simultaneous submissions - I send one story out to a lot of magazines. I shoot for at least ten at a time. You just can't predict outcomes. A story that received a personalized rejection from The Atlantic (one of the best places in the world to have your story published) has received three form rejection letters from other magazines. You have to give your work its best chance. If the magazine says they accept simultaneous submissions, then by all means take them up on their offer. Life is too short to wait for two years - no exaggeration - for a magazine to get back to you.


After I've submitted to as many stories as I can to as many relevant places as I can, then I wait. And wait. And sometimes I get a rockin' acceptance letter...or a rockin' rejection letter...or a lousy form rejection letter. Once a story has hit a low-submission point (where it's only being looked at by one or two magazines) then it's time to send it out again.


Another thing that I try to do is tier my submissions. There are magazines that I really, really, really wanna be published in someday. Sometimes it's because the magazines are prestigious - and sometimes I just dig what some mags are putting out and want to be among the writers published in that magazine. Those magazines get my best work first.


How do you submit your work? Are there any good places you've come across that are helpful for writers submitting? Any hints on the best way to track down literary agents...I haven't gotten heavily into researching that yet, but I'll let you know when I do.


P.S. Also The ReviewReview is a wonderful website that breaks down the literary reviews and what they publish. It's awesome.

R is for Rejection

Posted by Ali on September 6, 2012 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (5)

Believe it or not, this is a happy post.  In past years, Jenny has put out a challenge to the group.  It's a simple challenge:

Rule 1: Get three rejections from publishers.

Rule 2: One acceptance = two rejections.

Rule 3: If you get your three, Jenny bakes you cookies :)  If you don't, no cookies :(

In the past, when this challenge was announced, some people didn't get it.  To paraphrase one person: "Why try to get rejections?  That's dumb.  You should only count acceptances."

Nope, counting rejections is AWESOME.  Look, you can write a fantabulous story.  It's wonderful.  It's your masterpiece.  You can send that story out.  You can't make somebody publish it.  The acceptance part is beyond your control.  Submitting is within your control.  So, counting rejections is basically counting submissions.  Counting rejections is saying, "You're doing what you can to get that piece published."  It's counting the part of the process you have direct control over. 

This year, the challenge isn't officially on.  However, the other day I made the decision to go for it anyway.  I've been a slacker and haven't submitted anything in longer than I care to say.  That should change.  Thus, between now and the end of the year, it's my goal to get three rejections.

I know there's not much of 2012 left, but anybody up for joining me?

Ten is the Magic Number

Posted by Ali on August 15, 2012 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (2)

For some reason, I have a propensity for ten page chapters.  I work on a rough draft and as I type, I write out the arc of the chapter, bring it to a close, and notice the page count.  I am remarkably consistent.  10 pages, 9 pages, 11 pages, 10...


I have been working on revising a novel to submit to the gang, in full, at the end of the month.  So far, my revision has included about three new, from-scratch chapters as I rearrange events and completely change how certain events get conveyed.  Guess how long my new chapters have been?


Today, I ended up working on a chapter away from my home computer.  Since I didn't have my file with me, I finished the chapter on a new file.  I didn't remember how many pages I had already, so I wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to break my pattern.  In the new file, I changed the spacing from double to single in an effort to help me write a longer chapter by skewing the visual cue of how much text fit on a page.  Then, I focused on writing a chapter that was as fleshed out and developed as possible.  I finished the chapter all in single spaced font and felt very pleased with myself because I felt I had stretched my length.


I got home and copied/pasted the new file into the master file.  I adjusted the spacing to make everything consistent.  Then I looked at page count.  Yep, you guessed it, 10.  Weird.


What patterns have  you noticed about your writing?  What comes out consistently and subconsciously?  Have you ever been able to break your pattern?

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