05 January 2019

Short Memories: 2018 in Review

by John M. Floyd

Happy New Year! I realize I'm a little late, and that the new year's almost a week old now--but since it's my duty here at the SleuthSayers office to post a column every first, third, and fifth Saturday, and since December had five Saturdays, well, here I am again, and I'm finding that I'm not yet in a 2019 frame of mind.

Looking back, 2018 had its ups and downs, but on the literary front things held pretty steady. Readingwise, I consumed several good novels: Past Tense, Lee Child; The Reckoning, John Grisham; Bluff, Michael Kardos; The Outsider, Stephen King; Gravesend, William Boyle; Escape to the Biltmore, Patricia Gaddis; Blind Spot, Reed Farrell Coleman; Give-A-Damn Jones, Bill Pronzini; Elevation, Stephen King; and eleven books in the Hap & Leonard series by Joe R. Lansdale (I really like Joe Lansdale). Writingwise, I produced no novels of my own, just more short stories--and, as I did at the beginning of last year, I've put together some statistics on those.

The 2018 story board

According to my hi-tech method of recordkeeping (a three-ring binder I rescued from the office trashcan when I retired from IBM years ago), I had 32 stories published in magazines and anthologies this past year and 30 more appeared in a collection from my publisher Joe Lee, of Dogwood Press, in October. And if you're interested in short-story markets--especially mystery markets--I've also noted the publications that these stories appeared in. Here's my list:

"Scavenger Hunt"--Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Jan/Feb 2018 issue
"Lights Out"--Flash Bang Mysteries, Jan 2018
"Molly's Plan" (translation)--Inostrannaya Literatura, Jan 2018
"Two in the Bush"--Black Cat Mystery Magazine, Issue #2. 2018
"While You Were Out"--Flash Bang Mysteries, Spring 2018
"True Colors"--Kings River Life, April 14, 2018
"Mockingbird Thief"--Woman's World, April 18, 2018
"Cornbread Cookoff"--Woman's World, May 21, 2018
"Fun and Games"--Woman's World, June 11, 2018
"Runaway Bouquet"--Woman's World, June 25, 2018
"A Musical Clue"--Flash Bang Mysteries, Summer 2018
"Too Good to Be True"--Woman's World, July 16. 2018
"Diversions"--Black Cat Mystery Magazine, Issue #3, 2018
"The Blue Delta"--Sanctuary anthology, Darkhouse Books, July 2018
"Foreverglow"--The Strand Magazine, June-Oct 2018
"Easy as Pie"--Woman's World, August 8, 2018
"Lucy's Gold"--Saddlebag Dispatches, Spring/Summer 2018
"The Winslow Tunnel"--Bewildering Stories (serialized, Issues 767-768), 2018
"According to Luke"--Children of the Sky anthology, Aug 2018
"Home Delivery"--Woman's World, Aug 20, 2018
"The Music of Angels"--The Saturday Evening Post, Sep/Oct 2018
"Lightning"--Mystery Weekly, Sep 2018
"Frontier Justice"--Florida Happens (Bouchercon anthology), Sep 2018
"Half-Baked Plan"--Woman's World, Oct 1, 2018
"Gun Work"--The Best American Mystery Stories 2018, Oct 2, 2018
"Ye Olde Crime Scene"--Flash Bang Mysteries, Fall 2018
"Lucifer"--Under the Full Moon's Light anthology, Owl Hollow Press, Oct 2018
"Lucian's Cadillac"--The Strand Magazine, Oct 2018-Jan 2019
"Getting Out Alive"--Landfall anthology, Level Best Books, Nov 2018
"Cracking the Code"--Woman's World, Nov 19, 2018
"Annabelle"--Deep South Magazine, Nov 2018
"Disorganized Crime"--Woman's World, Nov 26, 2018

And . . .

The Barrens--a hardcover collection released Oct 30, 2018, by Dogwood Press. It includes two of my original stories ("Dawson's Curse" and "The Barrens") and 28 of my previously published stories.

NOTE: I also had two stories published in December--"On the Road With Mary Jo" in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and "Poetic Justice" in Woman's World--but I didn't count them here because the issue dates are Jan/Feb 2019 (EQMM) and January 7, 2019 (WW).

Behind-the-scenes numbers

Of my 62 stories that were published in 2018, 19 appeared in print magazines, 6 in print anthologies, 7 in online publications, and 30 in the collection mentioned above. Of the 32 stories published outside the collection, 28 went to paying markets, 24 to repeat markets, and 8 to new markets. One was selected for inclusion in Best American Mystery Stories and all the rest were unsolicited submissions. Genrewise, one story was a western, one was science fiction, one was fantasy, one was a romance, and 28 were mysteries (although some were cross-genre--mystery/western, mystery/fantasy, mystery/romance, etc.). Of those 32, 25 were original stories and 7 were reprints. As for settings, 17 took place in my home state of Mississippi and 15 were set elsewhere, and 16 were installments in a series (five different series, actually) and 16 were standalone stories. POVwise, 29 were third-person and 3 were first-person. Finally, 14 of the stories were less than 1000 words, 9 were between 1000 and 4000, and 9 were more than 4000.

As of this moment, 15 other stories have been accepted and will be published shortly and 36 more have been submitted and are sitting in various to-be-read queues and slush piles, awaiting a decision.

In the "alas and alack" department, I also received 28 rejections last year, from 17 different markets. Sad but true.


To any writer friends who might still be reading this post, how was 2018 for you? Did you sell a novel or a collection or a short story, or have one (or more) published? What great stories/novels did you read? Do you write an ongoing series, in either novels or stories? Do you have specific writing projects in progress, or upcoming in 2019? If you're a short-story writer, did you try to target only markets that pay professional rates?

Also, and selfishly: Do any of you know about mystery markets that I'm overlooking? As always, I try to check Sandra Seamans's wonderful blog My Little Corner regularly to find targets for my submissions. If you don't use that resource, you should!

That's it for this column, and for my literary memories of 2018. Best of luck to all of you, and may this new year be your best ever!


  1. As always an impressive total!

    Best wishes for the new year.

  2. John, I got a kick out of "On the Road with Mary Jo" in EQMM Jan/Feb 2019. Innovative and timely on the smart car front.

    As for me and series, I had "The Left Hand of Leonard" (6th in my 1660's Paris Underworld series) in AHMM Mar/Apr 2018, "The Chinese Box" (5th in my Shan Army/Golden Triangle series) in AHMM Sep/Oct 2018 and "Vet's Day" (11th in my Holiday Burglar series) in AHMM Nov/Dec 2018. I've gone mercenary in my old age, pretty much sticking with professional rates, however writing a 750 word $20 story for Flash Bang Magazine is a fun time. Other than that, you're too prolific for me to put my statistics up.

    Keep on writin'.

  3. My 2018 wrap-up was already in the SleuthSayers queue for Tuesday before I saw your post, John, and it probably won't be a surprise when you read it that our numbers are similar across the board. Though I'm writing much more crime fiction these days, I continue to sell work written in other genres as stories make their way through the submit/reject submit/reject submit/accept pipeline.

    And I've been spending more time on the editorial side of the desk, with two projects that should appear this year and one next year.

  4. Happy New Year to you too, Janice. I love your novels--keep up the great writing!

    RT, good to hear from you. I'm always in awe of your success at AHMM--congratulations! I have two more stories in a series coming up at AHMM (those should both be sometime this year), and--like you--I'm finding myself doing a lot more series stories than I used to. They really are great fun to work on. And thanks for your kind words, about my EQMM story--glad you liked it! That was another that was fun to write.

    Michael, I know all about that submit/reject pipeline. And it's been a great pleasure, these past few years, to have shared space with you in so many issues and anthologies. Looking forward to more of that, this year--and to reading your future stories.

  5. Hi John,

    Sixty-two published stories in one year is an amazing feat-way to go! How does one top that? Any blogs coming down the pike about how you made that happen? Happy 2019!


  6. Hey Lawrence--thanks for stopping in, here. Remember, 30 of those stories happened at one swoop, in a big collection of my short mystery stories, published this past fall. As for the others, there's no secret there--I just submitted a lot of stories to what I felt were appropriate markets, and was fortunate that some of those editors liked what I sent. Remember too that a lot of my submissions were rejected--but, as always, the person who gets the most no's usually also gets the most yeses.

    I love the quote I heard years ago (don't know who first said it): I can't guarantee that your story will be published if you submit it, but I CAN guarantee that it won't be published if you don't.

    Best to you in 2019, in all your literary endeavors!

  7. John

    Impressive as hell. Thanks so much for listing your rejections as well! Occasionally someone will say to me "I guess they buy all your stories now," and I just laugh sardonically.

  8. Rob, I bet I get more rejections than you or any of our friends ever did--but yes, we all get told, from time to time, that our babies are ugly. I'm just less sensitive to it now than I used to be. And--as Michael suggested in his comment--the key is to keep those stories circulating in spite of rejections. If they're good they'll eventually find a home.

    By the way, I still envy your (and RT's) record at AHMM. THAT's what's impressive.

  9. Good listing from a master. As for me, a few short story reprints published in 2018. Three novels published. Two novels coming out in 2019, along with some short stories.

  10. O'Neil -- That's kind of you, but to publish five novels in the space of two years is the real feat. And I'm with you, on submitting and publishing those reprints of stories. That makes sense, and sometimes it's just a case of looking hard enough for the right market.

    Thanks as always, my friend. Hope you have a great year!

  11. John:

    Another amazing year. I am always in awe of your productivity. One year of yours looks the match of my whole writing career. Well done, my friend.

    For my part, I had three stories published in 2018. The flash fiction piece "Cleopatran Cocktails" in EQMM March/April issue, "The House in Glamaig's Shadow" in Malice 13: Mystery Most Geographical, and "Kutsenko's Cage" in Curiosites 3. In terms of work not yet published, I sold 2 additional stories to EQMM, another to AHMM, one to the revived Black Mask Magazine and finished a draft of a novel, so not a bad year. 2019 will be made if I can find an agent for the book.

    Keep up the amazing work, John.

    Best, Bill

  12. Hey Bill! I see you're targeting anthologies as well--for some reason many of our writer friends neglect those, and they're great markets. And your track record at EQ and AH is something I know you are (and should be) proud of--it's always fun to see your name in those pages. An interesting point: both you and Rob Lopresti have recently published VERY short stories in EQMM. It's valuable to know that when those flash/short-short pieces are good enough, they can grace the pages of the more prestigious magazines.

    Good luck on the agent search--please keep me posted.

    And thanks so much for the comment and for your kind words. Much appreciated!

  13. Hi John. I had two stories published in an anthology in 2018. A third was accepted to another anthology, but the project was canceled. Since then I've found some new markets, but I don't know if my work is a good fit for them. I have one out for rejection now. I won't submit to non-paying markets, it's amazing how many of those are out there.

  14. Elizabeth, I too have placed stories in anthologies that never saw the light of day--but most do, thank goodness, and they remain a good market for shorts. As for not knowing whether some stories are a good fit for some places, my policy there is to try them and see--sometimes markets need and accept stories that might be a little different from their usual fare.

    Regarding nonpaying markets, I sometimes send stories there if I know the editors, and if they story is a reprint. I tend to agree with you if it's an original story. I try to save those for paying magazines/anthologies.

    Thanks for the thoughts!

  15. You never cease to amaze me, John, not just with the quantity of work you produce, but also — and perhaps more importantly — with the quality.

    Since you're asking, I had a very productive year — probably my best ever — but not even close to being in your league. I had two stories and three translations in EQMM, plus stories in AHMM, Mystery Weekly, and the Malice Domestic and Chesapeake Sisters in Crime anthologies. Also half a dozen reprints, a number of guest blog posts ... and I edited The Man Who Read Mysteries: The Short Fiction of William Brittain (Crippen & Landru) and co-edited The Misadventures of Ellery Queen (Wildside Press) and the Dutch edition of Amsterdam Noir (Ambo|Anthos).

    So I haven't been slacking, but you and Michael Bracken remain the masters!

  16. Massively intimidated, overwhelmed, wondering about my whole purpose in life... Excuse me while I go curl up in a ball with a bourbon and water for a while.
    But seriously, congratulations, John. Wow...

  17. Josh, you are too kind, as usual. I will say again that you, David Dean, and Doug Allyn remain my heroes at EQMM, and I'm proud that you're also my friends. As for your record this past year, I'm impressed by your editing gigs as well as your writing, and I seem to recall that you have more anthologies in the works for next year! Keep up the good work!!

    Eve and Deborah, thanks so much. I remember that I've shared space with both of you, also, in magazines and anthologies, and hope we'll do it again soon. Thanks for the comments!!

  18. This piece is now linked to our SMFS blog.

  19. Thank you, Kevin. Happy New Year to you too, old friend.

  20. I'll sing the praises of anthologies: I've mainly been published in the small-press kind! :)

  21. Small or big, Jeff, the anthology market's a great place to market your stories. A story that might not be a good fit for the paying magazines might be perfect for a themed anthology. The trick is to find out about anthology "calls for submission," via Google or My Little Corner or Ralan's or wherever, and then get the story in before the deadline. The chances of publication can sometimes be much better than those at magazines, because--if your story does fit--the often-narrow submission window can cut down considerably on the competition; most folks won't know about the "call" or won't have or be able to write a story that fits soon enough to beat the deadline. And there's the added advantage of having your story appear in a book alongside fellow writers who might be fairly well-known authors. You might not get rich that way, but you probably won't get rich writing for magazines either.

    Thanks for the comment!


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