Wednesday, October 05, 2022

It's Been How Long?


by Sybil Johnson

I was catching up on old SinC and MWA newsletters this week when I noticed, in one of them, that a fellow author was celebrating 10 years since their first story was published. I couldn’t remember when my first story came out. I didn’t know if I should be celebrating something. All I knew was that it was before 2014 when my first book, Fatal Brushstroke, was published. So I consulted my trusty list of all the stories I’ve ever written. I keep track of when I finished the story, where I’ve submitted it, who has rejected it and who has accepted it.

To my surprise my short story, “Family Business”, came out in the premiere issue of Crimson Dagger magazine, a very short-lived ezine, in 2005. I hadn’t realized it has been 17 years! This was not the first short story I’d written, just the first one accepted for publication. My first story was “The Power of Prayer”, which got an Honorable Mention in a Writer’s Digest Writing Competition in the Genre Short Story category. That one was published in the premiere issue of another ezine, Silver Moon Magazine, which was also very short-lived. At that point, I remember wondering if I was a bit of a jinx.

“Family Business” introduced the main character in my Aurora Anderson mystery series. I had been working on Fatal Brushstroke for a while when I decided to write this one. I used it as a way to practice plotting and work on my main character. It took about a year and lots of submissions to various markets for it to find its home.

I’ve had a few more short stories published since then. I only got paid for one of them, which seems to be fairly common. I received $50 from Spinetingler Magazine to publish my story, “Meet Market”. That was pretty darn exciting.

Things have changed since 2005. Writers no longer have to physically send in copies of their stories or novels with an SASE. Everything seems to be done via email or online submission these days. That’s quite a time saver plus we get to save a few trees.

A lot of online magazines have come and gone. Spinetingler closed a while back. Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock are still around, thank goodness, though now you submit things online. I’ve yet to crack that market. Hoping to some day.

I have a couple short stories out for consideration to anthologies right now and I just finished book 6 in my series, which I will be self-publishing. Lots of other ideas going through my head for stories. All I have to do is sit down in my chair and write them. Easier said than done, but well worth the effort.

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