I got a bit of unexpected good news in my inbox last night. It seems that one of my short pieces has garnered an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Writers of the Future contest. It’s somewhat bittersweet, since this is my third submission to the contest since I started submitting anything anywhere, but the only one that’s been acknowledged as received.
And as my period of eligibility is rapidly diminishing (save the month, whoo hoo!), it feels pretty damn good to make any kind of cut at all.
A good number of my friends have entered this contest over the years, and more than a few have won. Another largish group has also garnered Honorable Mentions, and I’m humbled to be in their company.
Before folks get too excited, I’m not rushing to rebrand myself as “award-winning.” I’ve already got a bunch of trophies around the house for work in the hobby games industry, and for the fourth quarter of the contest I’ll likely be joined by a hundred-odd others. The reason I’m writing today is because of which story it is, and it’s provenance.
It’s my happy family torturer story, my longest short work to date (Hearts of Iron doesn’t really count) and the one that’s been “out” the longest. When this story hits an editor’s desk, it tends to stay there for a while (once for over 9 months). It’s the first story I ever got editorial comments on, and I’ve gotten quite a few. It’s the first professional work I attempted in first person, and one of the most personal stories in my stable.
It’s about a boy’s relationship with his father, and I couldn’t have written it without digging deep into my own.
As protagonists go, writing about a terrified 8 year old boy was one of the more challenging things I’ve ever done. This is not YA, not by a long shot. This is grown-up stuff all the way, and sooner or later, I’m going to have to dig even deeper and expand it to novel-length, weeptastic fiction.
So what’s next, you might ask? Well I’m glad you ask, because this story’s going right back out. It’s length is such that it’s somewhat hard to place, but there are a few markets I’ve been keeping in my back pocket. Besides, I’ve got a book contract to fulfill, 3 1/2 novels already sitting on the “shelf” and the rest of my short portfolio to deal with.
And there are a few more words I can add to the cover letter now. I hear those carry some weight with editors these days.
So other than this blog post, I’m going to spend perhaps another 30 minutes on this story in 2013, and use this rush of acceptance to really power through on the word count. Oh, and I’m entering the contest again, while I still can. Because I’ve got an even better story for them this time…
P.S. This was not the news I spoke of last week. That’s still coming up, and I think when you read about it you’ll be just as happy as I am!