I'm James Maxey, the author of numerous novels of fantasy and science fiction. I use this site to discuss a wide range of topics, with a heavy emphasis on cranky, uninformed rants about politics and religion and other topics that polite people attempt to avoid. For anyone just wanting to read about my books, I maintain a second blog, The Prophet and the Dragon, where I keep the focus solely on my fiction. I also have a webpage where both blogs stream, with more information about all my books, at jamesmaxey.net.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

Long shot Hail Mary

Tonight, I sent my first ever submission to the New Yorker. A few months ago I wrote a story called "Silent as Dust" for the Codexwriters Halloween contest. This was my third time entering the contest. The first two years, I came in second place. In fact, I split second place one year with Tom Pendergrass, so if you are a glass half empty kind of person, I tied for third the first year. So, this year, I was hungry to win. I'm not positive why... it's not like there's money involved. The stories don't get published. (At least, not a guaranteed publication... several contest stories have gone on to sales at various outlets.) But, my short story output has waned over the years. I find, as I've become a better writer, I have a harder and harder time finding stories I can get excited about writing. Ten years ago, any idea I had seemed like a pretty good one. Now, if find I'm much more picky. There are professional writers who can sit down and write a story about just about anything. They could take the headings from the spam in their email boxes and find inspiration. I don't have that kind of drive. So, the Codex contests keep me cranking out short fiction. Of the four contests I've entered, I've sold two of the stories, one of them twice, and have faith that the other two will find a home eventually.

Silent as Dust was my submission this year to the contest. I had a vibe when I submitted it that it would probably win. It turned out to be a landslide. In the aftermath, I had half a dozen people tell me I should submit the story to some prestigious market like the New Yorker or Playboy. And, I figure, what have I got to lose? It turns out the New Yorker takes email submissions. It can't even claim I'm wasting postage.

Still, the New Yorker rejects about a thousand stories for every one they accept. Pretty lousy odds, but better than the lottery. And, I don't exactly write a lot of stories that would fit in the pages of the New Yorker... I'm not positive this one does either, but it's a quirky little ghost story with very subdued supernatural elements. It's a more likely fit than, say, Final Flight of the Blue Bee.

Speaking of Blue Bee, I got my copy of ESLI with the story in Russian. It's utterly bizarre to open a magazine and not even be able to read my own name. I can only recognize my story by the illustration and the copyright containing the Asimov's first publication acknowledgement. I hope it eventually appears online and I can translate it using babelfish.

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