Monday, March 29, 2010

My Favorite Rejection Slip

From Amazing Stories, many moons ago:

Dear Norman:

I'm sorry to tell you that "Return of the Shroud" does not meet our magazine's needs. Although the story is well written, its survival is heavily dependant on graphic description. We are looking for a different kind of horror story. A kind more driven by plot. A kind less concerned with torture, slashed wrists, amputated digits in teriyaki sauce, human hearts imbedded with scissors, cryptic references to "dark things," and other grisly descriptive passages.

If you have any horror pieces that are built more on suspense and chills versus graphic blood and gore, we'd be interested in looking at them. Your story format was interesting and creative, and you write with a good ear.

Editor X

I have to say I love this reject -- especially the laundry list of my literary sins. Add to that the editor's last comment ("you write with a good ear") and I was tempted to send a reply riffing off Robert Bloch's infamous comment about writing with the heart of a young boy. Thanks for saying I write with a good ear, I wanted to say. I keep it in a jar on my desk.

I resisted temptation. I didn't do that.

Instead, I sent "Return of the Shroud" to David Sutton and Stephen Jones. They bought it for Dark Voices -- severed digits, teriyaki sauce, and all. Then I wrote and submitted another story to Amazing called "Eighty-Eight Sins." They bought that one, and commissioned a painting by John Rheaume to go along with it. (Click around on John's gallery page and you can find it -- look for the evil little Buddha guy in the third row.)

I liked the painting a lot. It's hanging in my living room.

The rejection slip is on display, too. I had it framed, and it's on my office wall...just another reminder to keep punching.