Tag Archives: Editors


It is my distinct pleasure to announce that I have FINISHED Fragile Gods, my first completed fantasy novel (first draft only).

Though I missed my original deadline (Christmas of 2009), I did meet my revised deadline, which was June 1st, 2010.

Are you going to try to publish it?

I’m going to send queries and samples see if I get any bites.

It would be naive to assume it will automatically be published, or even represented.

Even award-winning books selling over 400,000 copies will be rejected when the author’s name is unrecognized.

And 99% of the recent success stories I’ve heard for newly published authors involve stalking agents or editors at conventions in order to buy them lunch…not impressing them with an anonymous manuscript. 

So you’re done with this book?

Not even close. There’s a lot more polish required before I’ll be satisfied.

Are you going to take us all out for lunch when you’re rich and famous?

 Sure. But less than 1% of novelists EVER turn a profit. It took me 1 year to write FRAGILE GODS, so if I sold it for a $15,000 advance, BEFORE TAXES, that’s a pretty crummy yearly salary, even assuming I could do it annually. The gulf between “finished book” and “rich & famous” is wider than the Gulf of Mexico. But I’ll make you a deal…even if I sell one book, I’ll take you out for lunch.

Do you want me to read it?

I want everyone to read it who is willing. But I prefer that: 

  1. You regularly read fantasy/scifi, or at least popular fiction of some kind
  2. You fully intend on actually reading it (within a week or so), not setting the printout on a shelf somewhere
    1. That may sound harsh, but I’m completely un-offended by NOT offering to read. People are busy, and I guarantee you that *I* have no desire to read the work of amateur writers. Why should you? But it does get my hopes up of getting feedback and criticism when someone offers to read, and you have to understand that for me, this is a major project and one of my deliverables is obtaining tangible feedback from my alpha readers.

So what’s your next project?

I am considering going one of three directions.

  1. Get more practice writing short stories
  2. Write a science fiction novel called Music of the Spheres, which so far is about a soldier who was ordered to kill a baby after a space battle, and has refused the order and is now on the run from his commanders
  3. Write my non-fiction book: Accelerate the Progress of Mankind (by using your turn-signal), which is all about boosting world efficiency by making tiny common sense decisions, such as using your turn-signal, or deciding what to order BEFORE you get to the front of the line, or using both doorways of a double-door.

Playing to an empty auditorium

Busy?The single most energizing thing for me as a writer is having my work read. You can tell me it sucks or you can tell me it blew your mind; either way, I feel connected with you. Either way, I have motivation to sit down and fix the problems you presented (even if I’m cussing the day you were born), or try to deliver more of what you liked.

I don’t particularly mind not having my work read, except that it’s hard to stay focused and motivated for sustained periods. I am jealous of writers who blog about the latest fixes their editors discussed, whereas I’m finding my way mostly in the dark. But if I see a friend or coworker who hasn’t read my work, I don’t think, HEY! What a jerk, why haven’t you read my story yet?

I don’t get angry or frustrated about that; it really doesn’t affect me. Some people don’t read, some don’t read fantasy/sci fi, and some are just waiting for me to hit it big. That’s fine.

I do get frustrated when people ask for my work and then don’t read it, either for days, or weeks, or months at a time. I know intellectually it’s not personal. I’m told that it isn’t related to the quality of the writing.

But the most common excuse simply isn’t plausible: “I don’t have time.”

Unless you’re in a high pressure civil service field like firefighting or law enforcement, are getting married (or divorced) imminently, or have had some other life-altering change, I seriously doubt that you “don’t have time”.

I’m a bit of a workaholic myself…I’ll stay late and come in early. Even at home, I engage in any number of not-quite-play projects like learning guitar, making videos, designing websites, and of course writing. But I’ll be the first to admit I sat on my ass playing video games or watching tv a significant portion of the weekend.

I can recall just four times in my life I “didn’t have time”.

  1. In high school, there was a period I taught Sunday School, was in two choirs, held a part time job, was in band and in a play, attended chess club, and sundry other church and after-school activities. Even then, I still had time to read and write things between activities, even if I wasn’t home often.
  2. In Army Basic Training, we started with 15 minutes of free time (if we were well-behaved and lucky). Even then, you could stay up reading/writing after lights out, provided you used the red lens on your flashlight (the red glow would not wake people whereas the white would).
  3. Summers in college, there were a few conferences I worked round-the-clock, literally awakened by my pager, worked all day, and the last thing I did before bed was work-related, grabbing showers and meals whenever I could meanwhile. These usually lasted two or three days to a week.
  4. Certain parts of the shift rotation in law enforcement left very little time for doing much more than sleeping and going back to work. This happened every two weeks for three/four days each.

These were the times I was at my absolute busiest in my whole life, doing nothing but working, eating, and sleeping. Even then, I still had time to read scripture or fiction or letters, or any manuscripts a friend might hand me.

Even if I hand you fifty pages of text, it likely wouldn’t take you more than ten minutes to finish it all…less than a smoke break, or the time during commercials of a 30-minute sitcom, etc. Most of the portions I submit are significantly smaller.

Let’s be honest…it’s not that you ‘don’t have time’, which as you can see is one of the flimsiest excuses ever invented, it’s that you chose not to. What you do with your time is your own decision. But why offer to read my work if you aren’t going to? That just leaves me craving feedback that never materializes.

If you ask me to do something and I haven’t done it, it isn’t because I don’t have time. It’s because I goofed off instead.

Instead of “Failure”, let’s call it “lack of success”:

Thank you for offering your story [Woman’s Best Friend] to Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show.  We’re sorry to tell you that we will not be using it; you are free to submit it elsewhere.
The Editors

Hey! It’s working again!

ipod_blackI finally got the iPod to sync with my computer and update my songs library.

This is bad because it erased the customized playlists I’ve carried with me for years. (All good things must come to an end and be reproduced if worthy, though.)

It’s GOOD because now I can finally get podcasts at work and in the car. Especially podcasts by and for writers.

If any aspiring writers happen by this blog, there are two I recommend above all others:

The Odyssey SF/F Writing Workshop (particular to my genres, of course). The sound quality isn’t always great, and the biggest disappointment is that there aren’t more of these. But the advice from a variety of editors and successful writers is “fantabulous”.

A less formal but probably more entertaining podcasts is “Writing Excuses“. One of the three hosts is Brandon Sanderson; obviously I’m a fanboy of his work so far. This also leans towards my preferred genres (two of the hosts write fantasy and horror).

I thought this was worth posting also as a quick follow-up to my pseudo “why Apple?” rant.

I now officially have an Apple product that’s working. (Mostly.)

Minor Career Milestone

This marks the first time I’ve had two stories simultaneously submitted for consideration/publication.

This is a tangible measure that I have been taking my writing more seriously and devoting more time to it than ever before. It may still be years before editors recognize my genius I am published, but it will no longer be for laziness, lack of trying, or procrastination.

Unfortunately, I don’t think I have any other works close enough to submission quality to try and get a third out before one of these two comes back. But that’s okay, too.

It worked…

addictedRather than quitting World of Warcraft cold turkey (which I have done before, but it didn’t stick in the long run), I have instead tried the the route of discipline:

Simply playing less.

It worked. When I feel the urge to game, I will attempt to scratch the itch by playing much more cyclical one-player games instead. I don’t know how others feel, but for me single player games don’t cut it anymore; I just get bored with seeing the same content over and over. Cheats, mods, savefile editors and such can add a certain additional replay value, but those grow stale even more quickly than the original game.

So then I pace the apartment. I check chess.com compulsively every five minutes. I watch *gasp* television. (Streaming with no commercials, still, though.)

And then eventually…I get bored enough to write.


I wrote for some 7 or 8 hours Saturday and another 4 on Sunday. Furthermore, I managed a personal first: Diving directly into another story while the ink from my last project is still drying.

I considered putting up another poll to ask what you want to read next, having now (re)finished Perfect Justice. But then I’d want to give the poll time to gather enough info — the last one took about ten days before all votes were in, and even then I only garnered nine votes in total.

Instead, I decided merely to write the next story.

For those who are keeping up with me, I’ll go ahead and tell you the next one is going to be Second Chances; you can read the synopsis over on the sidebar.

I will also introduce you to a new project on my idea board:

Road Rage is about a guy so frustrated and angered by the idiotic and dangerous ways of rude drivers that he finally decides to do something about it. But he isn’t content with merely taking your license. Violate his rules, and he’ll be taking your life.


yousuckRemember the goal with submitting Woman’s Best Friend? I was going to have so many other balls in the air by March (when a reply was due) that I’d almost forgotten about this story, thus let the circle of new submissions continue unabated.

Well, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction got back to me early. REALLY early. Barely 30% into my next story, I got their reply in the mail.

It says:

Dear Mr. Peters:

Thank you for submitting “Woman’s Best Friend,” but I’m going to pass on it. This tale didn’t grab my interest, I’m afraid. Good luck to you with this one, and thanks again for sending it our way.”

Remember the stage fright I described when I painstakingly formatted this baby, addressed the envelope and so forth?

Smackdown! “You’re no good, kid!”

Megan (unintentially) added salt to this fresh wound by unwittingly and hopefully asking, “Pass it on to who?” (That should’ve been “to whom,” but nevermind.)  Not pass it on to someone, pass on it, I explained to her.

Past rejection letters have been phrased very generally, and my first one even encouraged me to send more work. They’re usually signed “the editors” and use the less blunt pronoun, “we”. This note (though perfectly professional by industry standards) came across to me as:

Why did you waste my time with this lousy story? I personally found it quite boring. I’d rather watch grass grow, or paint dry…or better yet, race the growth of grass against the drying of the paint and take bets on each. I can’t tell you it isn’t right for us at this time, or that I want to see more work. Maybe when you finally write something interesting, you’ll have a career as a novelist. Until then, I try to keep my desk full of compelling stories, and clearly you don’t have one.

That’s all very extreme, of course, and the editor said no such thing. But that’s the flavor rejection takes. It hurts mostly because — even if this IS just a form letter — it isn’t phrased generally enough for me to assume that I may have formatted wrong, have irreconcilable grammatical errors, or be too similar to four stories they just ran. It says quite clearly, “didn’t grab my interest.”

Well <foul expletive deleted>.

Here’s the problem being a writer, too:


I begin the story behind the curtain; I’ve never read ONE WORD of it without knowing how the scene and story would end. I have no idea how much suspense it creates — or doesn’t create. I have no idea how scary it is — or isn’t. I have no idea how interesting it is — or isn’t. (I’m sure the masters know, but I don’t yet have enough experience.)

This is where I must rely on friendly readers to be test subjects, and to be brutally honest. A co-worker said this story “started slow” — that’s the closest thing I have to a fix for this story being uninteresting so far.

What else could improve it? I realize having already finished it, some of you are already behind the curtain with this one, but you at least had one first impression I never got.

What can I do to make it more gripping?