17 March 2018

25 Years in Shorts

No, this isn't a post about Jimmy Buffett. But I'll tell you this: the topics of my SleuthSayers columns come from everywhere--books or stories I've read, movies I've seen, music or news I've heard, other writers I've talked with, etc.--and they're sometimes inspired by the columns written by my fellow bloggers at this site (probably because their ideas are better than mine). I was especially intrigued by some of the recent posts by Michael Bracken, Robert Lopresti, O'Neil De Noux, and others who've been reminiscing about their writing careers, their published works, and the way they'd marketed them. So, piggybacking on that subject, here's a quick look into the past . . .

I've been submitting short stories for publication for almost 25 years--longer than some of my colleagues but not nearly as long as others. Most of my stories have been mysteries, and while my so-called writing career is nothing remarkable, I've been able to reach a few of my goals: several awards, an Edgar nomination, two inclusions in Best American Mystery Stories, an appearance in Akashik Books' "noir" series, and the publication of half a dozen short-story collections.

I've also had some pretty crazy experiences with regard to submissions, sales, dealing with editors, etc,--but more about that in a minute.


As for frequency of publication, my hat's off to several of my fellow SleuthSayers for their many, many short stories in AHMM and EQMM. I'm especially impressed with Robert Lopresti's back-to-back stories in the three most recent issues of Hitchcock. I'm not yet up there with my heroes regarding the two Dell magazines: I've so far sold 16 stories to AH and two to EQ. And only once have I had stories in back-to-back issues of AHMM: May and June 1999, with a story in their March 1999 issue as well. I did, however, have stories in four consecutive issues of The Strand Magazine (from June 2016 to Sep 2017)--the Strand's published 16 of my stories--and after the upcoming issue of Black Cat Mystery Magazine I will have placed stories in the first three issues of BCMM. I've also been in the past six issues of Flash Bang Mysteries, I've had stories chosen for three consecutive Bouchercon anthologies, I've made Otto Penzler's top-50-mysteries list for the past four years, and between 2013 and 2015 I had five stories in the print edition of The Saturday Evening Post.

Though not primarily a mystery market, Woman's World has been kind to me as well--last week I sold them my 96th story there--and I've appeared in back-to-back issues of WW five different times. This is ancient history, but to those of you who remember the pubications, I had 17 stories and 20 poems in Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine, 8 stories and 17 poems in Mystery Time, 19 stories at Amazon Shorts, and 7 stories in Reader's Break. Other long-defunct markets that featured my stories include Murderous IntentOrchard Press Mysteries, Red Herring Mystery Magazine, Crimestalker CasebookEnigmaDetective Mystery StoriesHeist MagazineThe Rex Stout Journal, Desert Voices, Ancient PathsCrime & SuspenseAnterior Fiction QuarterlyDogwood Tales, and The Atlantean Press Review. (We won't talk about how many rejections I've received from the above publications, because I honestly don't know the number--but it's a big one. A lot higher than my number of acceptances.)

One last statistic: my collections of short fiction--Rainbow's End (2006), Midnight (2008), Clockwork (2010), Deception (2013), Fifty Mysteries (2015), Dreamland (2016), and The Barrens (coming in 2018)--contain a total of 240 different stories. As for novels, I've written four of them, all of which I like and two of which are out with an agent, but all of them, alas, remain unpublished. My heart's really in the short stuff.
Welcome surprises

In the icing-on-the-cake department, my story "Molly's Plan," which first appeared in the Strand, was chosen to be part of The New York Public Library's permanent digital collection, and another of my stories, "The Tenth Floor," was recently included in a 600-page book with 108 different authors from 11 countries, which is up for a Guinnesss World Record for the largest short-story anthology ever published. Several stories of mine have also been published in Braille and on audiotape, taught in high schools and colleges, and translated (last month) in Russia's leading literary journal, although I can't say any of those accomplishments were on my wish list. They were what we at IBM used to call "bluebirds": they just happened to fly in through the open window.

Okay, enough tooting of my own horn. The following is the goofy part of all this:

Weird tales

- Twice I've had stories appear in Woman's World under someone else's byline. Thankfully WW paid me and not the other writer, but it's strange to look at one of your own stories in print and see an unfamiliar name beside it. I never did find out whether the dastardly impostor liked my stories or not. Lesson #1: Once you sell a story and it's out of your hands, anything can happen.

- On three different occasions editors have contacted me asking to buy stories I sent them more than two years earlier. On two of those occasions I happily sold them the stories in question; on the third I had already given up and sold it someplace else. None of those editors ever explained why those submissions were still lingering in their records, and I didn't ask. My wife suspects they just fell behind the piano or the refrigerator and stayed there awhile, as some of our important papers at home tend to do.

- I have twice received acceptance letters for stories that I didn't write. In both cases I contacted the editors and said I wish this were me but it's not.

- I once published a short fantasy story, "Chain Reaction," in Star Magazine, and proudly appeared alongside accounts of alien kidnappings, Bigfoot sightings, and three-headed chickens. Lesson #2: If you've been paid, don't worry about it.

- I've had at least a dozen stories accepted by magazines that then promptly (before my stories could be published), went out of business.  See Lesson #1.

- Most of my stories seem to be in the 1000- to 4000-word (short story) range, but my three Derringer Awards were in the short-short, long story, and novelette categories. Yes, I know that doesn't make sense.

- I was once told by an editor that the 12-page story I'd submitted "should have ended on page 7."

- I've published poems in better-known markets like EQMMWriter's DigestGrit, The Lyric, Mobius, Capper's, Byline, Writers' JournalFarm & Ranch Living, etc.--BUT I've also published poems in Volcano QuarterlyThe Pipe Smoker's EpheremisBarbaric YawpHard Row to Hoe, Feh!, The Aardvark AdventurerBootsCreative JuicesAppalling Limericks, Tales of the Talisman, Nutrition Health ReviewMythic Delirium, SmileHadrosaur TalesOuter DarknessThe Shantytown AnomalyDecompositionsStarLineFirm NoncommittalACafeBreakThe Church Musician Today, The Pegasus ReviewBlind Man's RainbowKraxSophomore Jinx, And many other wild and crazy places. For the record, 31 of my poems appeared in Rural Heritage, 34 in Rhyme Time, 47 in Tucumcari Literary Review, 33 in Laughter Loaf, and 55 in Nuthouse. (Did I mention that my poetry is more lighthearted than profound? Bet you would've never guessed.) Anyhow, I challenge you to come up with more creative magazine names than some of those above.

- My short fiction has also appeared in publications with strange (and clever) names: Champagne ShiversMouth Full of BulletsShort Attention Span MysteriesAntipodean SF, Ethereal Gazette, Illya's HoneySimulacrumGathering StormMeet CuteScifantasticFireflies in Fruit Jars, Cenotaph, Thou Shalt Not, Dream International QuarterlySniplitsT-ZeroAfter DeathThe Norwegian AmericanLost WorldsFicta FabulaJust a MomentThirteenLines in the Sand, Phoebe, We've Been TrumpedHorror LibraryMatilda Ziegler Magazine for the BlindPebbles, Spring Fantasy, Eureka Literary MagazineSpinetinglerTrust & TreacheryPenny DreadfulSweet Tea and Afternoon TalesWriter's Block MagazineQuakes & StormsReadWriteLearn, Scavenger's Newsletter, NefariousShort Stuff for GrownupsListenThe Taj Mahal Review, Mindprints, Inostrannaya LiteraturaMad Dogs and Moonshine, and Yellow Sticky Notes.

- Years ago I was about to submit a story to AHMM, and at the last minute I asked my wife to read it first. She did, and said she thought I should change the ending. I changed it completely, sent it in, and it sold, Later, editor Linda Landrigan told me she bought it because of the ending. Lesson #3: When your spouse speaks, listen. Especially if she's smarter than you are.

- While most of my short stories are mystery/crime, I've also published 57 westerns, 20 romances, 103 SF/fantasy stories, and 23 "literary"/mainstream stories.

- The second story I sold to AHMM ("Careers") was less than 1000 words; the third story I sold to them ("Hardison Park") was more than 10,000 words.

- I have twice been paid in advance for short stories not yet written. (That doesn't happen often--at least not to me.)

- One of my stories, "The Early Death of Pinto Bishop," came within two weeks of being filmed. The cast and crew were on board, the screenplay was polished and ready, locations had been arranged, I was told to invite friends to the set, original music had been written for it (I still have the CD), and suddenly everything stopped and everyone went home. Sad but true. Lesson #4: Don't trust the movie business.

- I once won a $30 gift certificate to Amazon in a contest for 26-word stories whose words had to begin with each letter of the alphabet, in order. My story, called "Misson: Ambushable" was Assassin Bob Carter deftly eased forward, gun hidden in jacket, keeping low, making not one peep. Quietly Robert said, to unaware victim: "Welcome. Xpected you." ZAP. (Hey, what did you expect, in 26 words? Fine literature?)

- I've never published a story written in present tense. I don't mind reading them, but when it comes to my own writing, I guess I prefer the old "once upon a time" approach.

- One of my stories, "A Thousand Words" (Pleiades), has been reprinted seven times; two other stories, "Newton's Law" (Reader's Break) and "Saving Mrs. Hapwell" (Dogwood Tales Magazine), have been reprinted six times each; and at least four of my stories have been reprinted five times each. Lesson #5: Recycle.

- I once sent the same story to two different publications at the same time, then sent another story to two other publications as the same time. As it turned out, one of the two places I'd sent the first story accepted it, and one of the two places I'd sent the second story accepted that one. So all was well; I just sent withdrawal letters to the two markets that hadn't yet responded. BUT it made me think: What if both those first two places had wanted that first story, or if both the second two places had wanted the second one? I would've had to withdraw an already accepted story, which isn't the best way to get on an editor's good side. This is not really a lesson because everyone's mileage will vary, but ever since that time, I've been reluctant to simultaneously submit my work.

- My payment for one of my early story sales was a lifetime subscription to the magazine.

- When my publisher (Joe Lee, of Dogwood Press) and I were having trouble coming up with a title for my fourth collection of short fiction (Joe has usually given those books the same title as one of the included stories), we solved the problem this way: we changed the name of an as-yet-unpublished story to "Deception," included it in the collection, and made that the title of the book as well. Lesson #6: Think outside the book-box.

- One of my stories in the Strand ("Bennigan's Key," 5000 words) featured only one character and had no dialogue.

- My longest published short story ("Denny's Mountain," Amazon Shorts) was 18,000 words. My shortest ("Mum's the Word," Flashshots) was 55 words.

- At our local Kroger store, I once went through the checkout line with three copies of a magazine that contained one of my mystery stories. The checker said, around a wad of chewing gum, "You got three of these." I told her I knew that. "But they're three of the same issue," she said. "I know," I replied. "Actually"--I stood up a little straighter and lifted my chin--"I have a story in this issue." She gave me a long, blank look and said, "That'll be $4.80." Lesson #7: You're probably not as big a deal as you think you are.

- One of my stories, "The Garden Club," was written start-to-finish between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. in a room at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, after I woke up sick and feverish and couldn't get back to sleep. I submitted it as soon as I got home from the trip, and the first editor I sent it to bought it. In the acceptance letter she said it had the best ending she and her staff had read in twenty years.

- A producer who was planning to film one of my stories called me and said he needed a logline for it, for marketing purposes. I said I didn't know what a logline was. He told me to find and read an old copy of TV Guide, and hung up. I found a copy in a back closet, and one of the entries said something like "Little Joe confesses to Hoss and Adam that he's fallen in love with an Indian girl." Understanding dawned, and I came up with what I thought was an effective logline. The producer even liked it. But the movie never got made. See Lesson #4.

- I once sold a story called "Wheels of Fortune" to an Australian magazine that published only on CD-ROM, and was required to read my story aloud and send it to them as a recording. I still have the magazine-on-CD that they later mailed to me, but I have never listened to my story.

- After my first submission to the Strand (the story was "The Proposal," the first one I ever sold them), editor Andrew Gulli phoned me and said he liked the story, but his staff was unfamiliar with the kind of poison I had used. I told him that was because it wasn't real--I made it up. He paused just long enough to really scare me, then said, "Okay." Lesson #8: If something in your story just won't work, invent something that will.

- More than 90% of my published stories were written in third-person POV.

- I appeared in every issue of the magazine Mystery Time from 1994 until its demise in 2002 (17 issues).

- One of my short stories was rejected almost two dozen times. I later heard that a national magazine was looking for Christmas stories, so I changed the setting of my oft-rejected story from summer to winter, included gloves and icicles and Christmas lights and gifts and carols, and sold it for much more than I would've made at any of the previously-attempted markets. Lesson #9: Don't give up.

And that's that. If you would, let me know about some of your own strange experiences, in dealing with editors or writing stories or novels or marketing them. What are some of the most unusual or notable things you've had happen to you, as a writer?

Lesson #10 (to myself): Don't write such a long column, next time . . .


  1. Wow. I'm going to have to re-read this a couple times to make sure I'm not missing anything. Your skills are amazing. So is your tenacity.

  2. You must be one of the most productive short story writers ever- and not just in the mystery genre.

  3. This is amazing, John. You write more stories in a year (and sell them) than I've written in my entire life. And three consecutive issues of AHHM...wow.

    Three consecutive issues of Black Cat, too. I wasn't even sure they were still operating. Their website hasn't been updated since last September, the Wildside Press website has only a subscription link, and their Facebook page has NO CONTENT by any members of their staff. Practically everything on the page is from Sleuthsayers bloggers: you, Art, Barb...

    I love your story about waiting two years to hear from an editor. I think my present record is 19 months for a rejection...but I have a story coming up in the next issue of AHHM that I submitted in 2015 and sold about a year later.

  4. Okay, this is not going to go over well, but it's the truth. I had a regular gig with a magazine called ComputorEdge in the 1990s. Sold them seven stories in a row, under my name Mel Campbell, and they paid well, around $1000 per. For the 7th, they had to phone me about a small change, and were shocked to find out that I was female. That was the last story they took. I think they felt I had 'tricked' them somehow.
    I use my full name now. Thank goodness it's 2018!
    John, you are my literary hero, as you well know - an inspiration to us all.

  5. While I also have stories in the first three issues of Black Cat Mystery Magazine, my longest streak is 29 consecutive issues of True Story. I'll likely not see a streak that long in the future.

  6. John, you never cease to amaze me — but this post isn’t merely amazing ... it’s mind-boggling. Congratulations once again on all you’ve accomplished, and congratulations in advance on all that’s still to come!

  7. O'Neil, you are a true friend: if you do re-read this loooooong post two times, it's going to take up most of your Saturday. I first intended to jot down just a few of my weird writing experiences, and discovered I've had too many of them.

    Janice, you are too kind. You are of course one of those folks I was thinking of, when I mentioned the fact that several SleuthSayers were so well represented in AHMM and EQMM. I love your shorts AND your novels.

    Steve, those three consecutive AHMMs were Rob, not me. The closest I came to that was 3 stories within 4 months, in the late 90s. As for Black Cat, I just sold them a fourth story the other day, and so did Liz Zelvin and Rob, I think. I've really enjoyed that magazine and I hope they're able to continue for a long time. Congrats on your upcoming story at AHMM--I look forward to reading it.

    Whoa, Melodie, that's a scary thing, if they suddenly chose to stop publishing you because of that. I've never been able to understand that kind of thinking. A good story is a good story--how could the gender of the author matter at ALL? And thank you so, for your kind words. YOU are the inspiration--everyone loves humor, and everyone respects those who write really good humor. It's hard to do well.

    Michael, I congratulate you on that 29-story run. It's great to find a publication you feel comfortable writing for. I never tried True Story--wish I had. Thanks for the comment!

  8. Hey Josh--thank you, my friend. I might mention, here, that I see the name Josh Pachter ALL the time, on the covers and inside these magazines and anthologies, and even more often in the last few months, it seems. Your success at EQMM is especially evident. Keep it up!

  9. John, even if you stopped writing now, I wouldn't live long enough to catch up with you. Kudos on your success.

    My only submission for your weird name magazine competition would be my rejected Woman's World magazine rewrite which got published in Swimming Kangaroo. Based on the editor;s name and the title of the (now out of print) magazine, I thought I'd gone international. Turns out it was based in Texas.

  10. By the way, Akashic books isn't spelled Akashik. (Good grief.) My apologies.

  11. RT, I love it--Swimming Kangaroo. Yep, that's a better name than any of my publications.

    I think it's interesting that many of the names here at SleuthSayers were known to me long before I met some of you, through your many stories in these publications (especially AHMM, in your case). Keep up the great work!

  12. John, I am in awe.

    Oh, about your lessons #2 and 4. Elmore Leonard once complained about what the movies had done to one of his books.

    Donald Westlake replied, "Dutch, did the check clear?"

  13. Thanks, Rob. I am in awe of your output at AHMM.

    I love the reply to Leonard. I think it was John Grisham who once said that if you're lucky enough to have a movie made of one of your novels, just take the money and back away from the project and let someone else do the work. I'm not sure he wrote the screenplays for any of them. (I once thought he had, for , but now I believe it was just based on one of his unpublished manuscripts, and someone else wrote the script.)

    What's surprising to me is that so many of Dutch's adaptations turned out well (Hombre, Get Shorty, 3:10 to Yuma, Out of Sight, etc.)

  14. I'm going to print out your blog post & read it whenever I get discouraged!

    I had a weird experience recently, kind of the opposite of a "bluebird" at least right now. Last year I wrote a story & entered it in a contest. This particular contest happens three times a year, is free to enter, & has one winner who is paid in cash. So, my story didn't win. I received a very apologetic R letter saying something like, "Dear Elizabeth, please don't be discouraged," blah, blah, "If you would like to read the winning story," & a url. I did & the story that won the contest, beat mine fair & square. Actually it totally kicked my butt.

    So the contest happened again in the fall & I didn't enter because I hadn't written anything. The middle of January I get an email from the editor inviting me to enter the contest again ... so I scribbled up another story which was really good. Sent it in & found out another story won ... it's good, but I think mine is better.

    So, I think I will be able to sell the one I wrote elsewhere & probably for more $ than the contest prize would have been. That invite might have been a bluebird in disguise.

  15. Great piece. And congratulations on all your successes.

  16. Liz, you're right--it probably was a blessing in disguise.

    I truly don't like contests. I won one once (a fairly small cash prize) and have placed in a few others, but I got to thinking the same way you're saying you did: I could publish those stories elsewhere in a good publication and get paid more for them--AND the odds are actually better of my doing that than of my winning first place in a contest. But my main reason for avoiding contests is the entry fee--I'm pleased to hear that the one you entered didn't charge anything.

    Good luck with the story!

  17. To Robert Petyo--Thank you so much. I appreciate your stopping by.

  18. Thank you John. I won two writing contests before, one paid a very small cash prize plus merchandise, the other paid merchandise only. When I first started trying to write, in the 1990s, I paid an entry fee once or twice but soon decided that was a waste of money when I was already possibly wasting time.

  19. Liz, contests have several disadvantages, in my view. (1) They only want original stories, which are of course prime fodder for the better publlcations; (2) they often take a long time to respond; (3) they seldom pay well; (4) the odds that you could publish in a respectable market are usually better than the odds of winning first place in a contest; and (5)--as we discussed--they often charge entry fees. I won't say I won't ever enter another contest--but it'd have to be a really attractive one. (My opinion only.)

  20. John,

    I agree with you about contests. I entered and won a number of them when I was still teaching, but I skip them these days for the reasons you mentioned. Congrats on all the remarkable success you've had as a writer. Very impressive!

  21. How kind of you, Jacqueline--thank you, and thanks for visiting SleuthSayers.

    I always feel a little guilty about my attitude toward contests--so many of my writer friends submit constantly to contests, whether fee-driven or fee-free--but I usually consider them to be (as Liz mentioned) a waste of time. If a story is contest-worthy, I'd rather submit it to a paying market.

  22. John, congrats on 25 years! Just the other day, a friend of mine and I were facebooking (is that a word now?) each other about stories we'd sold to markets that went out of business before we could be published, as well as companies we'd worked for that had likewise gone "blooey!"

  23. Thanks, Jeff! I've actually been writing longer than that, but it took me awhile to build up the courage to submit something to a publication. That's what started in late 1993 and early '94--so it hasn't been quite 25 years, but almost.

    As for those long-lost markets, I'm convinced my stories killed some of them. A few places seemed to be going fine until I started selling to them. Sigh.

    And yes, I suppose Facebook can be a verb. Baptists seem to think fellowship is. (After the meeting we'll go outside and fellowship.)

    Always good to hear from you, old friend. Thanks again.

  24. Wow, wow, wow, wow.
    John, you are always a lesson to me in productivity, quality, and sales.
    Thanks for a great - and inspiring - post.

  25. Eve, how kind of you. Thanks so much! This was an easy column to write, because it required no research--I just had to remember things that happened to me over the years.

    Take care!

  26. Whoa! You are an inspiration to so many of us.

  27. Hey Deborah! Many thanks. If you saw how I procrastinate and fiddle around with some of these stories, I wouldn't be very inspiring to anybody--but I somehow finally get them finished and out the door.

    Hope you and your writing are doing well. Stay in touch!

  28. Really interesting article, John. What a fantastic career so far. Among many other things, I now really want to read "Garden Club" and see that ending.

  29. Hey John,

    1. You are an inspiration.
    2. You must be incredibly organized to have all of this data at your fingertips.
    3. Holy Toledo, prolific much?
    4. You need to write a book on writing + selling. You could include excerpts of your own works as examples. I'd buy it!

    Fascinating post. I'm looking forward to reading some of the stories that you mention. Thanks so much for sharing! :-)


  30. Your fine column suggests that "patience and fortitude" are right up there with "writing skills" for short story authors! I too have had a story accepted where the publication went belly-up before it could be published. That story is still wandering around, looking for a new home. I have another that was accepted August 2016 that I desperately hope will be printed before the publication goes down for the third time. I send an inquiry every six months or so and am told "yes, it's coming . . ."

  31. Thanks, Bill -- You're another of those friends whose stories I always enjoy (and I seem to be seeing a lot of them lately). As for the "The Garden Club," it was reprinted in my second book, Midnight, and isn't even really a mystery. I'll find the manuscript and send it to you.

    Thanks so much, Sati. I'm not organized in daily life, but I do try to keep up with all this publication stuff--mainly because I try to recycle my stories when possible, and to do that I have to know exactly when and where something previously appeared. And I'll sure contact you if ever I put this stuff into book form! Hugs back!

    Vicki, I think all this HAS taught me to be more patient. (Consider how long we writers have to wait, sometimes, to get responses.) As for fortitude and perseverance, I've said before that I think some of these editors bought my stories because I just wore them down and kept sending them story after story until they gave in. Good luck to you with those stories-in-limbo. I feel your pain! Thanks for stopping by, here.

  32. I want to be you when I grow up.

    Speaking of long waiting times... I wrote a book-length romance and sent it off to Harlequin. I had an agent at the time. HQ liked it. It got sent on to a series of rounds of meetings where they do 'cuts'. I got a letter 6 months later that it made the first cut. Then about 6 months later I got another letter, Congrats, it made the second cut. Then came the rejection. It didn't make the third and last cut. That process took 18 months and in the meantime they asked that I don't sub to anyone else. That experience prompted me to start writing short stories. For me those typically go out into the world and live or die fairly quickly. I have 17 stories in WW and it's my aspiration to share an issue with you. :)

    Speaking of how the magazine owns your story, the editors changed the color of my character's dress in WW once from blue to green. It wasn't a holiday issue of any kind..no rhyme or reason. That was the only change. Strange business this publishing.

    Jody Lebel

  33. Hey Jody! You're too kind, of course--I appreciate your taking the time to chime in!

    I'm with you, on the wait-time for shorts rather than novels. Most places respond pretty quickly, and the ones that don't are sometimes worth the wait. I too hope we'll one day be in a WW issue together--they've been good to both of us.

    As for ediiting these stories, I'm convinced that editors sometimes change things just because they can. My content rarely gets changed, but my titles sure do--guess that's just the way things are.

    Best always to you, and thanks again. Keep up the good work!

  34. I don't think I ever knew about the film version of THE EARLY DEATH OF PINTO BISHOP. That would have been really amazing to see!

    I know it's been a genuine pleasure working with you on PINTO as well as WATCHED and your contribution to the FLASH AND BANG anthology from the Short Mystery Fiction Society. You're a darn-tootin' living treasure!

  35. Congrats on a great career, John!

  36. Hi Jay! You never knew about it because it never came to pass. I think it would've been fun, though. Thank you for the kind words, about my two Untreed stories--they're among my favorites, plus the one in the Flash Bang anthology. Thanks for putting up with me!

    Rusty, many thanks. I appreciate your stopping by, here!

  37. John, you are an inspiration to us all, for both your quality and your quantity! Keep on writing!

  38. Thank you, Alan--that's kind of you. Keep in touch!

  39. An inspiration for what you've sold; what you've weathered in rejections, but resubmitted; and, for the grace and beauty of your words.

  40. Debra, how sweet of you! I don't know about the inspiring part, but i have truly weathered a lot of rejections. (Got one earlier today!) Best always, my friend--hope all's well with you. Thanks again.

  41. Thanks for this post, and for all your posts on publishing short stories, which have been a great encouragement. I started submitting stories to Woman's World after I read one of your blog posts mentioning it, so thanks in part to you, I now have had four Woman's World mini-mysteries, along with a few anthology appearances. You've made a difference in my writing career.

  42. Leone, congratulations on your success at Woman's World--those mysteries are fun to write, aren't they? Thank you for this comment--I'm pleased that I helped launch your interest in writing short stories! Best to you in ALL your writing endeavors.

  43. John, I don't know what I'm more impressed with--how prolific your are or your ability to remember where all your stories went. Sadly, I don't have either talent. I've read your guide to writing for WW, and try to follow it closely. No success so far, but I'm at least on the right track. Your track record is truly amazing and inspiring. Thanks for sharing all of your writing history.

  44. Hey Susan! Thanks for stopping in, here, and thank you for your (too-) kind words. The only reason I keep up with where everything goes (and when) is that I like to try to resell my stories whenever possible, and you have to know that kind of information to do that.

    As for WW, keep trying! They recently changed up a bit and are now requesting stories that are more "cozy," so keep that in mind, too. And keep publishing those others as well--I've always loved your stories.

    Thanks again.

  45. Impressive, John. On the other hand, I've been impressed since the first story of yours that I read. But I've got you beat on one count. My shortest story was 6 words. "I missed her. Shot him instead." Keep up the good work!

  46. Craig, thanks so much. The truth is, you have me beat on many counts, but I especially like that 6-word story! A surprise ending, after only six words?!?!

    Take care, my friend. Hope to see you in Florida.

  47. I love the story about the Kroger check-out clerk the best. It reminded me not to take myself to seriously! I'm so impressed with your career, John, and most especially how much joy you find in the process of writing these stories. Good luck with the novels!


  48. Hey, John, your accomplishments are awesomely awesome. Hell, man, I feel privileged to write on the same planet as you.

  49. Hey Susan! Yep, the Kroger checker put me in my place pretty fast, there.

    Thank you for the kind words, but if I recall, you've recently had several books published, some of them nonfiction and one fiction. You can do it all!! Keep up the great writing!

  50. Earl, you are too kind. Many thanks for stopping in at SleuthSayers.

    BTW, I was reading stories by Earl Staggs long, long ago--and I even submitted a few of mine to you and Babs Lakey at Futures! I've learned a lot from you, old friend!


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