16 January 2019

Ellery and I


by Robert Lopresti

This is going to be a short one because I don't have a lot to say.  What I don't have a lot to say about is that I have a short story in the January/February 2019 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery magazine.

Naturally I am delighted by this fact, but I am not going to spend a lot of time discussing it because, 1) I have an essay up at the EQMM blog doing just that, and 2) "Please Do Not Disturb" is flash fiction, less than 700 words long, so how much can I say about it?  It would be ridiculous to write something longer than the story I am writing about.  (Only English professors get away with that.)

Stirling Castle, a mile from the hotel that inspired my story.
So, let's talk instead about my long, somewhat rocky relationship with EQMM.  I discovered it in high school, after I had already been hooked by Alfred Hitchcock''s Mystery Magazine.  (They were not yet sister, er, brother, magazines yet, by the way, having different publishers.)  EQMM has the greater reputation but I have always preferred AHMM, probably because it shaped my sense of what a story should be.

And, logically enough, I have been much more successful in selling to the magazine I prefer.

The first time I ever sent a story to a publisher was 1976.  I was in graduate school but somehow managed to find time to write a mystery tale.  Naturally I sent it to EQMM.  They sent it back faster that a rabid radioactive skunk, because it was awful.  Don't ask to see it now.  As Robert Benchley said about his diary, no one will read it as long as I have a bullet in my rifle.

I then sent it to Hitchcock's, which showed excellent taste by rejecting it as well.  I finally made it into print in 1979 with a story in Mike Shayne'Mystery Magazine, and scored in Hitchcock's two years after that.

Ellery Queen stayed out of my reach,  but I persisted.  Boy did I persist.  "The Shanty Drummer"  broke the drought, appearing in the August 2009 issue.  That's right.  It took thirty-three years.  It was my seventy-seventh submission there

The second sale took only five years.  "The Accessory" graced the June 2014 issue   And now only four years later here I am again.  Apparently their resistance is weakening, slightly.

So, you can see this as a story of determination and persistence triumphing, or the advantage of being too dumb to know when you're beaten.  I'll take either one.

I'm going to stop now because this column will be longer than "Please Do Not Disturb" if I go on much

20 comments:

  1. This is going to be a short one because I don't have a lot to say. What I don't have a lot to say about is CONGRATULATIONS!

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  2. Yay, Rob! I’m glad to see you back in EQMM again!

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  3. Congratulations, Rob! I look forward to checking it out.

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  4. It can be a long road with many twists and staying on the road is the trick.

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  5. Congratulations on your story. I admire anyone who can do a story in under 1000 words!

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  6. Congrats, Rob. I loved this story.

    And O'Neil, nice poetry ;-)

    My current status with Ellery Queen is 33 rejections. I've sold a few stories to Alfred, but nowhere near as many as I'd like. Now that they're sister publications, you'd think they'd respond to stories at about the same rate, but I usually get a rejection from EQMM in 2 to 3 months tops, and Alfred often takes up to a year. Actually, there's probably a future blog on one of those occurrences.

    I haven't seen numbers in several years, but does EQMM receive fewer submissions?

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  7. Congratulations!
    And, 33 years? Rob, you give me hope - I haven't cracked EQMM yet, but now I have fresh reason to try!

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  8. Thanks for the kind words, folks. I hope you enjoy my story. If yo don't, hey, it won't waste too much of your time.

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  9. Rob, in addition to being patient (for years!) and consistently becoming a better writer (for years!) it appears having a good sense of humor helps. Write on and prosper, bro.

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  10. "So, you can see this as a story of determination and persistence triumphing, or the advantage of being too dumb to know when you're beaten. I'll take either one." So will I! Great advice for writers. Thanks Rob!

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  11. Congrats! I loved the story too.
    -Bob D.

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  12. I came to Ellery Queen after years of reading AHMM and became a fan right away. I hope the editors read this blog, because it’s important for them to know that readers, such as I, think the quality of the fiction both magazines publish is superb. Here’s to more Lopresti appearances.
    -Bob D.

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  13. Again, thanks to all. Glad you enjoyed my little brainchild.

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  14. Congratulations, Rob!! Loved the story. Here's to many more EQMM acceptances! (And it's good to once again be alongside you in an issue!)

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  15. For us short story writers EQMM is like Everest. I've subbed three stories to AHMM and been pubbed twice. I confess, with the tales of rejection I've heard about EQMM, I have not ever even bothered to submit.

    Your tale of perseverance is heartening.

    Quite a hill to climb, Rob. Congrats!

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  16. I am truly inspired by you. Thanks for helping this frustrated writer stick to it.

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  17. Thanks, John and Brian. Drive, you humble me. Please write back when you have successes to share!

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