02 April 2022

Coming Attractions


Those of us who write short fiction know we have to keep records of what happens to our stories--facts about submissions, rejections, acceptances, withdrawals, publications, etc. In my case, these notes about what, where, and when are sometimes written on paper and sometimes on the computer, but eventually they wind up consolidated into a huge file that I can access and update. I use it in several ways, one of which is to know when to send an inquiry about the status of a submission. Another is to have previous-publication info to pass along to editors when I submit to markets that consider reprints. 

My point is, accurate records are a must--and since I send out a lot of stories, I wind up adding to my submission/rejection/acceptance/publication lists pretty often. One thing I don't look at often, though, is my list of stories that are forthcoming. By that I mean stories that have already been accepted but have not yet been published. I know I should check it regularly, because that's the fun list, and gives you a feeling sort of like the one you get when you're a kid looking forward to Christmas morning. But the truth is, when a story's sold I tend to forget about it until I see it appear in the publication.

A recent example: A few weeks ago I found out that one of my stories--a mystery called "Crockett's Pond" that had been accepted long ago by Mystery Tribune---had been published last fall in their August/September 2021 issue. I never knew a thing about it. I found out about its publication only by emailing the magazine last month and asking when my story'd be out. They told me it had already been published, and even though they were kind about my asking, I still felt a little like Rodney Dangerfield. I kept picturing them as the goodhearted policeman who locates the wandering mental patient and helps him shuffle back to the ward. In my defense, though, the magazine never notified me about it and didn't send me an author's copy. How was I to know it'd been published? Anyhow, I later found some information about that issue at Amazon, and moved that story from my "forthcoming" file to my "published" file, and order was restored to the universe. Such is life. (I still haven't seen the issue itself.)

Having said all that, this incident made me take a careful and overdue look at that file of my forthcoming stories, and since I had a SleuthSayers column coming due and didn't have a subject in mind for it . . .. well, here's my list. On the offchance that you might be interested in this kind of thing, the following are the magazines and anthologies (and one collection; more about that later) that are scheduled to include my stories in the foreseeable future:

Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine -- "The Deacon's Game"

Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine -- "Going the Distance," "The POD Squad," "The Donovan Gang," "The Zeller Files," "The Dollhouse" 

Black Cat Mystery Magazine -- "From the Hill to the Park," "A Cold Day in Helena"

Woman's World -- "Gert and Ernie"

Mystery Magazine --  "Pocket Change," "In-Laws and Outlaws," "Quick Stop," "The Magnolia Thief," "A Bad Hare Day" 

Mysterical-E -- "Gas Pains"

Sherlock Holmes Mystery Magazine -- "The Three Little Biggs," "Fishing for Clues"

Fiction on the Web -- "Survival"

Full Metal Horror, Vol. IV -- "Jennifer's Magic"

The Fantastical -- "The Messenger"

Professor Feiff's Compleat Pocket Guide to Xenobiology -- "Under the Monument"

MysteryRat's Maze podcast -- "Santa's Helper"

Mickey Finn, Vol. 3 -- "Burying Oliver"

More Groovy Gumshoes (1960s PIs) -- "Summer in the City"

Get Up Offa That Thing (songs by James Brown) -- "Shadygrove"

Shamus winners anthology -- "Mustang Sally"

(I Just) Died in Your Arms (inspired by One-Hit Wonders) -- "Dancing in the Moonlight"

Prohibition Peepers (1920s/30s PIs) -- "River Road"

Selected Stories (collection by VKN Publishing, Moscow) -- "The Outside World," "Saving Grace," "Business Class," "The Music of Angels," "Calculus 1" 

SleuthSayers crime anthology -- "Bourbon and Water"

Edgar and Shamus Go Golden (Golden-Age PIs) -- "Old Money"

Mickey Finn, Vol. 4 -- "A Surprise for Digger Wade"

NOTE 1: Not included are several acceptances to places that I suspect are now defunct. (If you happen to see a publication in my list that's no longer around and I just haven't heard about it, please let me know.) 

NOTE 2: Because of recent Russia/Ukraine events, I'm now doubtful that the Selected Stories book will ever be published. I do not, however, plan to refund the advance.

How about you? Do you have stories of yours that have been accepted and are anxiously awaiting the light of day? Do you keep a close eye on those?

By the way, a word of thanks to Michael Bracken for his great post at SleuthSayers this past Tuesday, part of which inspired me to write this one. Specifically, he said in that column that those who have stories in the AHMM submission queue will live forever. I imagine that applies also to those in their "accepted but not yet published" queue, because in both cases there's a considerable wait for the final result. 

In closing . . . sincere congratulations to my fellow writers (some of whom are SleuthSayers) whose stories have recently been selected for best-of anthologies or have won or been nominated for major awards. 

To those and to everyone else also, keep writing! 


  1. Wow, John. An impressive list, especially since your stories in the wings are about half my total output.

    Records, yes. I love Excel spreadsheets because they're so flexible. I used them for grading when I taught because they were more adaptable than the existing programs at the time. Looking at my short story submissions, I see 447 rejections since I began submitting. Forty-three sales, nine not yet published.

    Two of those will appear this month, one in Groovy Gumshoes with you, and one in the MWA's Crime Hits Home. Full Automatic will come out in Lawyers, Guns and Money, a Warren Zevon collection Art Taylor and Libby Cudmore are editing, this June, and another is in the Sleuthsayers collection along with yours. Like you, I don't know publication dates for most of the others, but I think Mickey Finn 3 will be out late this year. And I have a story in Prohibition Peepers with you.

    I'm waiting to hear about nine more and working on three others. That's my excuse for not practicing piano...

  2. Steve, I probably should use Excel spreadsheets. I think they remind me too much of real work. My main records are in a simple Word file on the computer called "Story list," in several sections: stories available to send out, stories sent but not yet heard from, stories accepted but not yet published, stories published, etc., along with dates of submission, rejection, acceptance, withdrawal, rewrites, publication, and so forth. Complicated and probably unreadable except by me. As for rejections, I don't keep track of how many, but there are MANY, probably way more than your 447.

    As for upcoming stories, looking forward to being with you in Mickey Finn 3 and Prohibition Peepers--those were both fun stories to write--but I won't be in Groovy Gumshoes. I somehow let that deadline come and go without submitting anything. I got my act together in time for MORE Groovy Gumshoes, though. (I'm finding that PI stores are a lot of fun to write.) I think MoreGG is coming out next year, along with several of the other anthologies I'll be in. Long time to wait!

    Good luck to you on those stories of yours that are out there and awaiting decisions. That at least makes it fun to check email every day, right?

    Thanks as always for the observations!!

  3. Your output never ceases to amaze me, John!

    I don't know if it's the COVID-increased demands of my day job or encroaching senility or what, but I've written very little fiction over the last year or so. I do have a few things in assorted pipelines, including stories forthcoming in AHMM and BCMM, Art Taylor's Warren Zevon anthology and Michael Bracken's Mickey Finn 4, plus I think I have a story in One-Hit Wonders (although I haven't received official confirmation of that) and I will as usual have the title story in my own next "inspired by" anthology, which will be Paranoia Blues: Crime Fiction Inspired by the Songs of Paul Simon, coming from Down and Out in October or November of this year.

    You keep doing you, John! You give the rest of us a Holy Grail to aspire to!

    1. You're too kind, Josh. I remain amazed that you have time to write any of your own stories, considering the time you've spent editing anthologies lately. I'm especially looking forward to reading the stories in your Paul Simon-inspired antho and Art's Warren Zevon project.

      As for AHMM (and EQMM too), the way I find out if one of my accepted stories is coming up there, I look in the "next issue" writeup that's always featured when a new issue's announced. But I'm told that's not foolproof.

      Thanks as always, my friend!

  4. I'm uncertain what stories I have coming out in the near future, but I have a good handle on the anthologies:

    Groovy Gumshoes (April 11, 2022)

    Mickey Finn 3 (December 2022)

    More Groovy Gumshoes (April 2023)

    Mickey Finn 4 (December 2023)

    Prohibition Peepers (tentative 2023)

    Private Dicks and Disco Balls (tentative 2023)

    SleuthSayers anthology (in progress, no publisher yet)

    Guns + Tacos season 4 (individual novellas July-December, with paperbacks late December 2022 or early January 2023)

    A yet-to-be-announced project (last half 2023)

    1. Thanks, Michael--It's helpful to know the publication dates of those anthologies. I needed something to look forward to! Congrats on all those projects, AND the stories you have forthcoming, AND all your recent nominations. You're a busy man.

      (December 2023?? That's some distant planning, for sure.)

  5. Well, I don't have "any" forthcoming publications right now, but it is great to know I'm going to live forever anyway!! Eleven months, two days, and counting

    1. You're right--you're immortal as long as you have something in the queue, Elizabeth. I hope that'll turn out to be an acceptance instead of a rejection. (I just got an AHMM rejection yesterday!)

      Keep sending out those stories--If you do, you'll have plenty of forthcoming publications soon.

  6. Impressive stats, as always, John. Congrats! Lots of great reading coming up for your fans.

    1. Thanks, Karen. Not sure how many fans I have, but it's true there's a lot of reading coming up.

      I only just realized, since Michael posted his proposed dates for the anthologies, that at least three of my forthcoming stories'll be in 2023. Boy that sounds like a long long time from now . . .

      Take care, and thanks again.

  7. I don't write/sell/place that many stories, John, but I do keep track of my acceptances and rejections. A file I call "The Slush Factory." I have one story that was accepted about five years ago that will come out (and maybe pay!) if the anthology ever does! I have a couple that were accepted where the book/magazine vanished without a trace. (No contracts yet, thankfully!) Like an old buddy of mine used to say "keep on plugging away."

    1. Sorry, Jeff, I was asleep at the switch. Thanks for the comment! The Slush Factory is a good name for that kind of file.

      Man, five years is a long time to wait for an anthology--but it'll be something to look forward to. As for acceptances that never result in a publication, I know what you mean. My stories have killed many a magazine--I'd submit 'em, sell 'em, and then hear the news that the publications have put all four feet in the air. Only good thing about that, I guess, is that when it happens, you now have a new and unpublished story to send out to market. It is indeed a crazy business.

      Yep, keep pluggin', and keep me informed!

  8. John, I'm excited to see that you have so many stories in the pipeline -- lots of good reading ahead! And it's interesting to see the variety of markets where you have work coming out from. Happy writing!


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