I didn't cheer. I didn't run through the streets, kissing perfect strangers. I just kind of sat there slack-jawed, staring at the e-mail. My wife probably thought I'd gotten a death notification.
But no: I'd sold a short story. And yes, I was happy--just having trouble believing it.
To understand why one sale should shock me so, we have to go into history. Don't worry, it won't hurt.
Shortly after turning 18, I started submitting short stories. At first, they went one by one to Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine, which these days is called Asimov's Science Fiction. There were and are plenty of other magazines that print (or post online, these days) short stories, but Asimov's was the first one I read, and I was stuck on appearing there first. Just so you know, that's a stupid way to do it, then and now.
I wrote dozens and dozens of short stories. I took a course on writing them; bought dozens of books about writing; and I read hundreds of the short stories of others. I also got smart enough to send each story to every market I could find.
By the way, thanks to Linda Nagata, my teacher in that correspondence course. It was in the snail mail days. The story she helped me improve was "Grocery Purgatory", a tale of disappearances set in a small town grocery store. Read all about her here: https://mythicisland.com/
None were ever published. I came close later on, with favorable and personal rejection letters. Eventually I discarded the ones clearly written in desperation--some of them were real stinkers--while revising and improving the ones that showed promise. But no final sale.
Here's the thing: short stories of mine have been published. Some were holiday themed tales, part of Christmas inserts in the three weekly papers that published my humor column. They were not in the habit of publishing fiction, and if I hadn't already been on the staff it wouldn't have happened ... so they didn't really count.
In 2011 my first novel, Storm Chaser, came out. I wrote several short stories featuring the characters from the book, intending to give them away to promote the book itself. But when I told my publisher about it, they suggested selling them together, as a collection. That's how Storm Chaser Shorts came about: They're published, and they're short stories, but it seemed to me again that I had a bit of an unfair advantage, compared to cold selling a single story to a publisher who didn't know me.
Three anthologies carry my stories, but they were by invite, and I think they also don't count.
The point is, it had become personal.
(Oh, and as usual, all those can be found on our website and here, on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO.) Always be closing.
As time went by, I boiled down the publishable stories to six, always waiting there in my master submission log. I had submitted my first short story in the summer of 1980.
So you see, when I received an e-mail from Alban Lake Publishing, telling me they were buying a story for one of their periodicals, I had been trying to sell to a magazine for thirty-nine years.
The story is "Coming Attractions", the bones of which I first wrote three decades ago. Revised many times and workshopped with Linda Nagata, it's hardly recognizable from the original (which was twice as long).
I'll give out more information when I get it, but my new publisher's website is here:
After almost four decades, I'll have a short story published in a magazine. Well, e-magazine. Let's just say periodical. After a summer of everything breaking and a long week of sinus infection, this small step is very good news, indeed.
Now: On to selling the rest of them!