Why Was My Short Story Rejected?

Dooley-Bio-PicWhen KS “Kaz” Augustin, Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly’s esteemed boss lady, approached me with an offer to be part of the editorial team, there was only one thing I wanted to do: provide a paid market for Science Fiction Romance in the short form. If writing a short story is difficult (and it is!), then writing a short story that manages to combine and balance the requirements for both science fiction AND romance genres is twice as challenging. No wonder, then, that the vast majority of the submissions are rejected.

Over the past nine issues, there has been one occasion when I failed to fall madly in love with a story (and so we didn’t publish one) and two occasions where I fell so madly in love that we published two stories that issue. Purchasing two stories stretches our budget quite a bit, so it requires me making puppy dog eyes and begging noises at Kaz. I’m lucky she’s a sucker for those things.

I think it might be helpful to those authors who wish to be published in our magazine if I go over the most common reasons that submitted stories are  rejected.

THE WRITING JUST ISN’T THERE…YET.

This category is (by far) the largest. We are absolutely open to new, as yet unpublished writers. I believe three of the eleven stories we’ve published so far have been from authors we were proud to debut. Lack of a publishing history means nothing to us. Lack of writing skills, however… We get many submissions that are just not fit to publish due to lack of craft, punctuation, grammar, etc. It might be the greatest story ever written, but if it’s riddled with typos, it’s going into the reject pile, fast. I encourage newer writers to submit their work to rigorous critique via beta readers, crit groups, etc, in order to bring writing skills up to a level where it’s the story I see, not the errors.

In this pile, also, are all the fantasy, paranormal, horror, etc, submissions we get. Instant rejection. Please read our submission guidelines under ‘submissions.’ on the home page of Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly.

WHAT’S AN ‘HEA?’ WHAT THE HELL IS AN ‘HFN?’

This is the second biggest category in the rejection pile. We get a lot of submissions from obviously skilled speculative short fiction writers, many with quite impressive publication histories. Unfortunately, they are unfamiliar with the required Happily Ever After or Happy For Now ending. The story must end on an upbeat for the Romance arc. It doesn’t have to be over-the-top; subtlety is a beautiful thing. But it MUST end happily and/or hopefully. I strongly urge the writers in this group to read our archived fiction.

WE DON’T NEED NO STINKIN’ SPECULATIVE ELEMENT…

1. Yes, you do! A large number of submissions in the reject pile are near-future scenarios that are, for the most part, indistinguishable from the contemporary world. Or the speculative element arrives far, far too late. In short, they’re not science fictional enough.

2. On the opposite side of the spectrum (but still in the same rejection pile) are those stories that start with a huge dump of world-building before the story even starts. We want stories that meld the romance and the science fiction seamlessly, and this means the SciFi never takes a back seat to the Romance. And vice versa.

I LOVE YOU. I’M JUST NOT IN LOVE WITH YOU.

It’s a good story, well-written, with all required elements present. I like it. Maybe I love it. But it didn’t make me say “Yes! Yes! This is the ONE! Thank you, Writing Gods, for letting me get my eyes on it!” It’s quite hard to explain this category other than it just didn’t capture and enrapture me enough. Or there might have been just one thing about it that lost me. One recent reason was that the heroine had absolutely no agency. Another rejection was because the relationship lacked passion (and I don’t mean sex). Another was that the characters were really great but the plot was a little too muddled. It’s hard to put the finger on exactly why a good story isn’t, in my personal opinion, one that we want to publish.

We have a general policy of not giving personalized feedback on stories. I do it occasionally, but I just don’t have the time to give feedback on all of them. Sorry. Hopefully, the above will help. And comments are open if anyone has any questions. Please do take a peek at our fiction archives. I hope you’ll love these stories as much as I do, and will give submitting authors a better idea of what we like.

Announcing Kaye Manro’s New Series, “Soul-Love”

Author Kaye Manro has launched a new, Earth-set sci-fi romance series called Soul-Love. The first novelette, ALMOST HOME: Nick and Krista Christmas, is now available.

Here’s the blurb:

Boston 1965

It is unseasonably warm for mid-December as musician Nick Zelmenis and the love of his life, ballet dancer Krista McBaine shop for a Christmas tree. They take time to share their special Soul-Love and to spend quality time together before Nick maps out a trip to Ohio on his Yamaha. He is going to visit his ageing grandmother for several days. Krista will visit her parents in Vermont at the same time. The two plan to be back in Boston and share Christmas Eve with each other and with a few close friends. But things never go as planned. The unpredictable changing winter weather causes major problems. Nick must reluctantly tap into his psychic abilities so he can try to get back home to Krista before a mammoth snowstorm hits Boston and the entire northeast with a vengeance.

***

Book two, REMEMBER HIM YESTERDAY, will release in mid-2016. Visit Kaye Manro’s site for more details!

20 Sci-Fi Romances That Should Be Adapted For TV

Outer Places compiled a list of 23 Science Fiction Books Being Adapted into TV Shows. Being an SF fan, I read the list. Unfortunately, only four of the books were written by women. And not only does the list include mostly white, male authors, there are three by John Scalzi and two by Stephen King. That’s not an embarrassment of riches—that’s just embarrassing.

I’m betting perilously few of these shows, if they make it to television, will feature female protagonists. Ladies, don’t you just love getting a big “F-you” from the television industry? Feels even better after, oh, say, the thousandth time.

Continue reading “20 Sci-Fi Romances That Should Be Adapted For TV”

Now Live: Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #9

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly #9 is now live! Enjoy over 100 pages of science fiction romance news, articles, reviews, and short stories!

Highlights from issue #9 include:

  • Spotlight: The Magic of Wisdom by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
  • Happily Every After is for Everyone by Lise MacTague
  • “Origin Stories” by Sara Kate Ellis
  • “Topography of Meringue” by Laurie N Meynig
  • SF Mistressworks: Linda Nagata’s VAST
  • Your Guide To Sci-Fi Romance Movies by Heather Massey
  • The A to SFR of Audiobooks, Part I by Veronica Scott
  • Multicultural Steampunk by Suna Dasi

Sci-Fi Romance Quarterly is free and available for download here. Thanks for your interest!

Happy Holidays!

Space Disco For All My Friends!

smirkyGreetings, Earthlings!

Dooley here, taking a break from wrapping presents, and looking forward to seeing the latest Star Wars installment with my family on Christmas Day. The original movie released in 1977  when I was a mere ten years old. I don’t think I saw it in the cinema, but I do remember people going crazy for it. And I remember the radio playing so many songs related to space and adventure and…love.

Space Disco it came to be called, and over the past few years I’ve been trying to hunt down some of those catchy tunes. Here are some of my faves. How many Science Fiction Romance tropes can *you* spot?

Automatic Lover by Dee D. Jackson:

I Lost my Heart to a Starship Trooper by Sarah Brightman and Hot Gossip:

Starship 109 by Mistral:

Magic Fly by Space:

Spacer by Sheila B. Devotion:

Do you have a favorite that I’ve missed? Let me know in comments.

Heather Massey’s Steampunk Cafe Presents: Alexis Hall’s PROSPERITY

I’m at the Coffee Time Romance Steampunk site blogging about my latest steampunk adventure, Alexis Hall’s PROSPERITY. While not a steampunk romance, the story has romantic elements that hold appeal for sci-fi romance fans. Find out why with my spoiler-free tags!