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(Re)Tweets While Drinking Scotch And Reading Submissions


    I am not a good protagonist.

    Over on the right there, you’ll see seven days coming up of “SmokeLong Quarterly submissions.” What’s that? Well, at SmokeLong, we publish both the Quarterly and Weekly stories. For every week, we have a different editor read, whether a guest or someone on the staff. Since we started doing the Weeklies, I’ve tried to take at least one week every quarter. The submissions that come in from November 7–13 will be mine, mine, all mine. I’ll choose one from among those submissions to be published first as the Weekly on January 3, and then in the Quarterly on March 27. Whee! In honor of that, I thought I’d re-post here a guest post that appeared on Pank Blog after my first go-round doing the weekly reading (I was tweeting as @smokelong at the time). Hope it helps. And looking forward to finding a new favorite story that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. So go submit. And hopefully I’ll be back soonish with a post on improv. The last few weeks have been good improv weeks.

    Tweets While Drinking Scotch And Reading Submissions

    An old friend asked me recently what we’re looking for in stories we accept for SmokeLong Quarterly. Since we’ve changed to a rotating editor on a weekly basis, it’s a little different. I can’t speak for every editor, but here are some tweets I made over the course of three nights drinking scotch and reading submissions. Most of these are of the “Do NOT” variety, but a few, at least, are of the “Yes, please” variety.

    And again: scotch was being consumed. Also note: the piece I refer to as accidentally rejecting? That’s the piece I wound up choosing for our first installment of SmokeLong Weekly. Woo!

    Havin’ a wee dram o’ scotch, reading submissions. 7:26 PM Dec 2nd from web

    @ryancall My wee dram is gone. Another? Maybe so. 7:55 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Fucking hell. I just sent a rejection to the wrong person. One downside to an online submission center: too easy to click the wrong link. 7:46 PM Dec 2nd from web

    tip to writers: don’t have a typo in your first sentence. or your title. gives eds a quick reason to say “nope.”

    Thankfully, writer of piece wrongly rejected is very cool. Piece still under consideration (and I really, really like it). 8:16 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Tip 2: Don’t refer to another writer in the first sentence of your story. Tonight’s references so far: Tao Lin (barf) and Alice Munro. 8:19 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Jesus, ANOTHER misspelling in the first sentence. “Thank you, but no.” 8:20 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Tip mothafucking 3: read the guidelines. If we say we publish stories under 1000 words, don’t send a 5000-word story. 8:24 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Realization: at the best of times, I can be a dick. When drinking wee drams o’ scotch and reading subs? I can be a serious dick. 8:29 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Tip 4: unless submitting to Bulwer-Lytton, don’t use all caps on things like BOOM. 8:31 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Tip 5: (and this may just be me) In a flash… it’s never necessary to give a character’s full (first and last name). 8:32 PM Dec 2nd from web

    second “wee dram” is gone. I’d like a third, but I’d hate myself tomorrow. 8:33 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Tip 6: I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure “thus” isn’t a word that ever does much for a flash. 8:34 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Tip 7: busses are kisses. If you mean the vehicle, it’s buses. If it’s important enough to have in your title, you should know the diff. 8:49 PM Dec 2nd from web

    switched from wee drams and reading subs to cold Chinese and reading subs. Let’s see if my asshole quotient goes down. 8:55 PM Dec 2nd from web

    Okay. Churned through over a week’s worth of subs. I think that’s good for tonight. 9:19 PM Dec 2nd from web

    reading subs again. today’s tip #1: A cat should never be the main character. 9:53 AM Dec 3rd from web

    Tip #2: I try to read blind. Putting your contact info right in the field for the story itself makes this impossible. 10:17 AM Dec 3rd from web

    Tip #3: Putting “The End” at the end of your flash? Not really necessary. Also not necessary in a sub? Copyright notice. 10:21 AM Dec 3rd from web

    Tip #4: Check your email provider’s settings to make sure that communications from mags you submit to aren’t being sent to your spam folder. 10:27 AM Dec 3rd from web

    @beanglish There are, of course, exceptions to every rule. 🙂 11:00 AM Dec 3rd from web in reply to beanglish

    scotch and subs again tonight. 7:48 PM Dec 6th from web

    sub tips again (at least when I’m the reader): starting a story Every day, every month, every x amount of time… almost never works for me. 7:49 PM Dec 6th from web

    tip 2) (not a negative) Drop me in scene fast, please. 7:50 PM Dec 6th from web

    3) Be explicit. Show, don’t tell blah blah blah, but seriously… capture the single event w/in the larger series and just rock it, k? 7:53 PM Dec 6th from web

    expanding on #3, some cool stuff happening in some of the subs, but related at too great a distance. get in there and bleed. 7:59 PM Dec 6th from web

    4) Metaphors? A million times stronger than similes. 8:00 PM Dec 6th from web

    And, of course, as a writer, I break all these rules myself. When it’s intentional: good. When it’s not: I should know better. 8:02 PM Dec 6th from web

    5) OK, this is picky. But I really don’t like exclamation points in fiction. Let the words exclaim for themselves. 8:04 PM Dec 6th from web

    6) Pop culture in lit fic can be great. But… don’t hang the whole story on a song/movie/whatever. 8:10 PM Dec 6th from web

    7) confusing “your” for “you’re” in tweets? maybe borderline acceptable. In submissions? No. 8:23 PM Dec 6th from web

    driving home from dropping off kids, saw a woman hitchhiking outside a cemetery. on 99, which, but for the cemetery, is prostitution street. 8:23 PM Dec 6th from web

    (that last not a tip, obviously. just grabbed my attention.) 8:24 PM Dec 6th from web

    unfair to submitters: reading subs the night after reading Pasha Malla’s “The Slough.” Because that? is fucking brilliant work right there. 8:27 PM Dec 6th from web

    8) For God’s sake, love your characters: 8:31 PM Dec 6th from web

    Ooh! Just read one I really like! 8:34 PM Dec 6th from web

    9) You’re a writer, you have a good vocabulary. Got it. No need to show off. 8:35 PM Dec 6th from web

    10) (hugely subjective) If you’re writing prose poetry, can you sing it? Dance? Howl? Can’t? Re-write. Sing/howl/dance anew. 8:44 PM Dec 6th from web

    11) Ennui is my day job. Not really interested in reading/publishing it once I clock out. 8:45 PM Dec 6th from web

    12) Oh, for God’s sake. Using an online sub form? Make sure your email is right. Just got 3 delivery failure messages. 8:51 PM Dec 6th from web

    For God’s sake again (not even labeling this a tip): First sentence, two typos. 8:52 PM Dec 6th from web

    Also: I’d reject Steph Meyer a million times given the chance. And yet, she accounted for 16% of book sales last year, so what do I know? 8:56 PM Dec 6th from web

    @shaindelr Absolutely. The painfully bad ones are easy. The good, but not good enough ones are brutal. 8:58 PM Dec 6th from web in reply to shaindelr

    13) Not sure why, but re-imagined fairy tales almost never work. 9:21 PM Dec 6th from web

    14) Ever notice that friends look bored when you talk about your adventures on drugs? Yeah. So do editors. 9:24 PM Dec 6th from web

    @pankmagazine I think the good but not great may be more common than the obviously bad, in fact. 9:28 PM Dec 6th from web in reply to pankmagazine

    The sad fact: when one reads 100 submissions and can only accept 1, one must read with an eye to rejecting, not accepting. Sorry. 9:36 PM Dec 6th from web

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