Back in 2006, when I first started writing with the actual goal of getting published, my first two attempts were accepted. I was over the freaking moon. The first story was accepted for a collection called Moonlight and Roses, and the second for a collection of paranormal themed gay fiction (the working title escapes me).
Neither happened. They were both for the same publisher, and though I got paid for the first story—I was a paid author!—the publisher folded, and that was the end of that.
Well, except it wasn’t.
That first story for that first anthology got championed by its editors and a couple of years later found a new name and a new home, but that’s a tale for another day. The second story?
The second story had some of the worst luck of any story I’ve ever written.
It was called “Last Call,” and it was about Mark Ward, a gay private eye (ish) who happened to be both gifted with magic and the seventh son of a seventh son, which added to his power. And a demon hires him to find out who is trying to kill said demon.
The problem with “Last Call” was that it was kind of a specific story. It was about a gay guy, it was a paranormal, and it was a bit of a mystery. And while I continued to seek out new calls for submission and I wrote new stories for those calls (and had successes), I could not find a freaking home for this story. I had ideas for three sequels to the story, with the same character, but I didn’t work too hard on them given I couldn’t find a home for the first story in the first place.
Years went by. Seriously, years. It took half a decade of “Last Call” sitting in a folder, unloved, sent to a few calls that I thought might work (one a mystery anthology, one a contest, among others) and every time it was refused. Often it was declined with a very friendly letter telling me that it was a great story and had a really cool vibe, but it didn’t suit the anthology as a whole.
As far as rejections go, those are the best, by the way.
Then, in 2011, I saw a note for a call for paranormal mysteries. The thing was, it wasn’t for a gay publisher. I hemmed, and hawed, and then did a mental shrug and sent it in. I wasn’t going to pre-reject myself on the basis of a queer story.
The editor liked it. And that’s how, after six years, “Last Call” got a home in Mortis Operandi. It was released almost three years ago to the day, December 16th, 2012. It was also the first time I was published in a collection that wasn’t specifically queer in theme (something I’ve only managed once more since). It was a fantastic reminder that a gay character didn’t only belong in a gay book, and it made me so damn happy. Also, I learned not to give up on a story if it was quirky or strange. It might be mine for a long haul, but it was still worth writing.
As for Mark Ward…I should probably do some work on those sequel stories, eh?