This is a story about a story that was accepted three times but almost but not quite ended up nowhere.
My flash fiction piece, “Apparition on the Threshold,” was born out of an exercise in my Writers Studio Intermediate Class in 2014. (My thanks to Writers Studio teacher Janelle Drumwright for providing encouragement and guidance that helped me develop the exercise into a publishable piece.) It’s an imagistic piece born out of some memories and/or imaginings from my childhood.
I started submitting “Apparition on the Threshold” for publication in late 2015. On February 18, 2016, I was notified that my piece had been accepted by an online journal called Mystic Illuminations. (Strangely enough, it was the same day I learned that my day job of over 20 years was going away, perhaps an omen of rockier times ahead on all fronts.) Here’s what the nice people at Mystic Illuminations had to say:
We truly enjoyed your work and found that it fits beautifully within the scope of our journal. We would like to include “Apparition on the Threshold” in our next issue of Mystic Illuminations.
I acknowledged this with a thank you and sent polite notices to five other places to whom I had submitted the piece, informing them that I needed to withdraw it from consideration.
The folks at Mystic Illuminations were friendly and helpful, and set up an interview with me at The Writers Lens which was a lot of fun to do.
I waited patiently for word on when the next issue would appear. Mystic Illuminations was a beautifully designed, graphics heavy site. I imagined that was what accounted for the delay, which stretched from weeks into many months.
In June of 2016, I was informed that the next issue was definitely in the works, and I was invited to update the bio I had sent in months earlier.
In October, I was surprised to find that a new issue of Mystic Illuminations had gone online … but with my piece missing in action. I sent a “What’s the deal?” query and was told somewhat apologetically that Mystic Illuminations had published an all-poetry issue, and they had forgotten to tell me my fiction piece would be held for the next issue.
Another year ticked by. Other stories of mine were submitted to other places, many rejected, some accepted. In December 2017, I received an email from Mystic Illuminations, regretfully informing me that no other issues were liable to be published. I was encouraged to try my story elsewhere.
So my piece had been in limbo for nearly two years. I was determined not to let it die in obscurity. I send it out to some other places.
It didn’t take long. The Zodiac Review informed me of their acceptance of the piece on December 28, 2017. It was one of the kindest acceptance letters I’ve received:
It’s a superior, polished piece worthy of a loftier venue than ours. We know that because two of us, owners of some 100 years of experience in writing, speaking and communications, can’t find anything “wrong” with it. Or any opportunity to suggest an improvement or make a correction. We’d like to publish it in our next issue, out in April-May.
Naturally, I was delighted. My piece had found a wonderful new home. What could go wrong? I notified a half dozen or so other journals that I had to withdraw the piece for consideration. Surely this would be the last time I would need to do that.
Here’s the point where this little chronicle might seem to defy belief. On January 31, 2018, I received this notice from my friends at The Zodiac Review:
Sorry to report that we have decided to discontinue publishing The Zodiac Review. Thanks for submitting. Best of luck to you in all things.
Reeling a bit and wondering if my piece was cursed, I … and really, what other option does one have? … rolled up my sleeves and tried again. I sent the piece out again into the world, tactfully approaching some of the journals I had previously withdrawn from, explaining my situation and hoping they might be charmed by my saga of the little piece with the big Voodoo whammy on it.
On March 23, two days after I had resubmitted it to them, I received word from esteemed journal Ghost Parachute (which I know of because it published work by a writer friend, Lilian Vercauteren) that “Apparition on the Threshold” had been accepted, for the third and let us hope final time.
It’s slated to go online on or around May 1st, with artwork created especially for my piece.
So has “Apparition on the Threshold” found its forever home? Stay tuned for May 1st, and we shall see. Whether the piece is actually worthy of such drama is another question, one I’ll leave to my readers to decide.
One final note. A website called Duotrope.com has proven to be invaluable for me. Duotrope provides a search function to help you find the most appropriate journals to send your fiction or poetry to. It also has a tracking feature to help you remember where and when you submitted your material … something that was essential in helping me navigate the journey of “Apparition on the Threshold.” The site requires a reasonable annual fee but is worth it.