On writing and submissions: When you are burned for being polite.

There is an important administrative and business side to writing. Editing and revisions do take up time, as do submissions — sending out short stories and poems to different literary magazines and journals. Some are traditional paper journals, some are online and others are a hybrid. Most publications have submission guidelines some more detailed than others. Back in the day you had to write to the magazine and journal and request along with a self addressed and stamped envelope just get basic information like word counts and submission dates. Also to get a sense of what type of writing they were looking for, it was often suggested that you should buy a sample issue. Many times I’d mail in a check, have it cashed and never receive it.  Others I found in bookstores.

The internet has made things easier to do this required research. Publications post their guidelines on line and give a statement of what they are looking for in their calls for submissions or have samples or some archives online. Going online to research publications — still does take time away from time from writing but again it is a required part of the publishing process.

Keeping track of submissions and different publications and submission history takes time and it helps to be organized about it. But it’s necessary — you cannot get clips or published without doing this work. Generally, whenever I receive a rejection, I do a review of the story or poem, and then try to figure out where and when next to submit. I try to stay on top of this but generally I fall behind.

In their guidelines, most publications will give you an estimate of how long they will keep/review work, re: “response time,” and allow you to query and withdraw — which is all completely acceptable.  If I think a response time is too long from publication guidelines then well I don’t submit — again it’s about doing your research. 

Since it is the beginning of the year, I sat down cleaning out my files — I had one submission over one (1) year old — so I wrote a very polite and courteous email asking to withdraw the story, even if it was still in a slush pile somewhere.

In return I got a vague email back saying it was still under review and they accept simultaneous submissions. So I wrote again requesting they please confirm the withdrawal of my story. Another email arrived saying that they don’t “do” withdrawals — because if I was chosen for publication the copyright would revert to me after three (3) months.

Since the publication raised the copyright issue (not me), I wrote again, politely asking for withdrawal, explaining I have a copyright on the story and could provide it if needed, and I also explained that copyright my work because of a previous issue with submissions, and I also have the policy of withdrawing my work after one (1) year — because of a dual acceptance without notification.

And to note, I never alleged any one wanted to steal my work in this withdrawal request or ever before. Usually I write this form withdrawal request email and I get a short email back confirming it, without a problem. Often, there is a short apology stating they made an error and the rejection should have been sent sooner, it was overlooked, etc.

Up to now all of the publications I’ve dealt with previously, have understood my request to withdraw, and they have been respectful to me, as I am of their submission rules — but this recent experience was just awful. And believe me, I’ve gotten some vicious rejections before but nothing like this — this was a burn plain and simple for no good reason what-so-ever.

The reply that I received in response from my second email/stating that I have copyright on the story and again how I wanted to withdraw it, etc., was rude and mean, and malicious and generally not called for. And I did write back, and told them as much and then thanked them for the confirmed withdrawal/rejection. This time, addressing my email reply to both the Editor in Chief and Fiction Editor by name — I’m unsure who was actually writing to me on this email correspondence/chain because they never signed their name.

To note, I am a female writer/feminist, and these two editors listed on the masthead are women — which also gives me pause, and makes me even sadder about the whole experience.

I’m not going to mention their names or the name of the publication/web site because they don’t deserve any kind of recognition: good, bad or indifferent.

What really strikes me — is that there are so many writers out there competing to have their work read and published — there is no reason to be mean and heartless to someone.

Sometimes it does take awhile to place a story or a poem but I’m glad they have “officially rejected me.” There is a better place for my short story, it my take me years to find it but I don’t care — I’m hoping there are better kindred spirits out there.

The mystery/female editor did write back another nasty email reply — I saw only the subject reply from my inbox: “We have over 30 years experience.”  I deleted the email unread and emptied the trash.  They can have the last word if they want, but I don’t need to read it — it can go into void.  Thirty (30) years should account for some basic courtesy.  Apparently even the most expensive and exclusive writing education cannot buy you that.

This past week, I checked their website.  There are only two (2) issues posted on their archive from November 2018 and December 2018 so the site has not been updated in a year. They do have a banner sign up saying that updates are underway, and perhaps they are — but the lapse of a year of postings for an online a magazine that does not claim to be an “annual” is troubling.

So, I still think I had every right to withdraw my work. Editors whatever their credentials, MFA graduates or not, and/or volunteering their time — should not give you a hard time or mock you because you make a request that’s administrative in nature.

As a writer you deserve a certain amount of courtesy and respect when it comes to your work. If you want to pull it, it should be your right to pull it for whatever reason.

Especially if you are being polite and respectful — which I was.




The Gift of Jane Austen and on sending thank you notes.

There is something about serendipity especially when its random.  Sort of like when you run into someone you haven’t seen in a long time — you both are happy to see each other again and have time to sit for a chat and a coffee and a visit.  Or someone reaches out to you and you are able to make plans — sometimes the spontaneous part of it works out.

It’s like a gift.

Although not always, especially today I’m finding that people are very busy — sometimes too busy to email or text back a reply and when they do it’s usually that they cannot make time to see you.  Work and children are difficult, and I’m a caretaker for an elderly parent and less able to make plans as well so it’s understandable but still isolating and overwhelming sometimes.

The flurry of activities around the holidays are over.  We had two visits with extended family between Christmas and New Years, one went forward the other cancelled due to illness.  This weekend I’ll be packing up Rudolph and the holiday decorations — or at least starting the process while taking care of my mum, who is ill, what we thought was a sinus infection has gotten worse to the point I think it may actually be a version of the Flu, but she is on meds and doing a little better and will go into her doctor next week which was already scheduled.  Between holiday clean up and regular chores I’ve yet to write my thank you notes.

Sadly thank you notes are sort of going into the realm of the outdated and most people feel they are no longer required.  At work I think it’s acceptable to send a nicely composed thank you note over email when I cannot thank someone in person, but  while I’ve maybe sent a quick thank you text, I’ve always followed up with a proper written note.  This year there aren’t that many to send and they will be done this weekend.

I did receive some lovely Jane Austen-related gifts this year.  From my Janeite friend, a Jane Austen Rubber Duck — carrying a copy of Pond and Prejudice.


From an extended family member, that visited us just before New Years, a lovely illustrated copy of Jane Austen’s letters, selected and introduced by Penelope Hughes-Hallett, which is actually a reprint of an edition/previously published in 1990 and titled: My Dear Cassandra.  This is a very lovely book, I’m not sure how she knew I love Jane Austen, I think perhaps because I gave one of her daughters a copy of Pride and Prejudice many years ago.


Finally, a Jane Austen candle from Paddywax in Nashville, Tennessee in the United States.  This was from my aunt, and I was very surprised that she included this in my gift and when I texted her she said my cousin thought I would like it.  I’m thinking my cousin remembered because I mentioned the upcoming Jane Austen tea at Thanksgiving and they shopped soon after.


And I still have to sit down and write this proper thank you note along with two others, although my aunt does not have my cousins write them.  My younger cousin just turned legal age (21) and my aunt threw him a party, and afterward, she sent out pre-printed notes, he did not even sign his name.  So I gave him a small booklet/book for Christmas with guides to writing notes, including thank you notes but also sympathy notes and notes for birthdays and special occasions.  I think everyone should have this basic knowledge and ability or at least be able to reference it when needed.  I did give a similar book to his sister — who selected the candle for me — back when she was younger, and now he has one and that’s it.  Serendipity takes over.

Digression: Rose Parade float  ‘Years of Hope, Years of Courage’  celebrates centennial of the 19th Amendment ratification via the National Women’s History Alliance.

Text via the newsletter of the National Women’s History Alliance — “A Special Kick-off Celebrating the Centennial of the Women Suffrage Movement…

Join the hundreds of millions throughout our country and the world to witness the special kick-off celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Women in the Unites Winning the Right to vote.    

Rose Parade float ‘Years of Hope, Years of Courage’ celebrates centennial of the 19th Amendment ratification

On Jan. 1, look for Ms. Liberty in the Rose Parade. You can’t miss her; she’s 30 feet tall, wearing a “Votes for Women” sash, and her tablet has the 19th Amendment, the amendment that women fought hard to win in order to vote, like “real” citizens.

Women will be front and center in this parade: the city of South Pasadena also has a suffrage-themed float, and the Tournament of Roses Association itself is led by Laura Farber. She’s a dynamic leader — the third woman and first Latina as its president.

The float’s name is “Years of Hope, Years of Courage,” and the motto is “Upon their shoulders, we won the vote. Upon our shoulders, we protect the vote. We celebrate and build for the future.” For nearly 100 years before 1920, women who knew they’d never live long enough to vote dedicated their lives to making sure their descendants could… whether they were women or people of color of both genders. Considering their sacrifice, voting in any election is an imperative; responsibility,  In 2020, it is vital.

Today, thanks to the efforts of a small but mighty group of women led by Nan Johnson, a retired professor at Rochester University in New York, the dream of having a Rose Parade float honoring women’s suffrage has become a reality. It is also a dream come true for many ardent women’s history and rights activists. Ms. Johnson and too many people to name got the float project rolling, while Martha Wheelock — a board member of the National Women’s History Alliance, a 501c3 — has been the liaison so that the donations for the float are tax-deductible.

As the float passes by or appears on your TV screen, look for 100 women (and a few men) from throughout the nation walking in period attire behind it, along with with notable people riding on it.

Dolores Huerta will be on the float, joined by descendants of heroes like Ida B. Wells, Susan B. Anthony, Harriett Tubman, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass. Like the Statue of Liberty, they will wear the sash of gold, purple and white — the colors of the US Women’s suffrage movement.

The Out-Walkers are  following the float in a tradition started by Alice Paul in 1913. Alice, along with Lucy Burns, organized the first march down Pennsylvania Avenue to draw attention to the fact that only one-half of US citizens could vote: men. Women were expected to not be seen in public, let alone marching in a parade. Horrors! And voting? Poppycock — that was for men only.

Because of racist laws in some states, not all women were able to vote in 1920. Pasadena Celebrates 2020 is an intersectional tribute to those who were prevented from voting in the past and represents a determined commitment to helping to secure the right to vote for all in the future. 

PS …The float number with be #24.
If you’d like to donate to help with float expenses and/or help decorate the Suffrage float, go to pasadenacelebrates2020.org.

PPS … Live on Green! is Free for families at 300 E. Green Street; from December 28 through December 31. Activities for everyone. For hours and dates, visit liveongreenpasadena.com. The National Women’s History Alliance will have a table there. We would love to share the experience with you.” 

Digression: Past the holiday rush!

Today, I was back at the post office and the holiday decorations are mostly down.

Previously, I did want to post and share this but never found the time — I thought it was fun the way the “faux wall” looked like a fireplace next to the older post office boxes.

And I did mention it to the new clerk, he said he would pass along word of my admiration and I think he started about a month or so ago — either he is covering until January or he bid in for the slot.

The chain pharmacies too are moving over the winter holiday stock — whatever is left of it.  Not all of the prices are that marked down — at least not yet.  Some have put out stock for Valentine’s Day — okay, and others candy for Easter — sorry but it is much too early!


The Wickhams: Christmas at Pemberly — another lovely Holiday Play.

With the success of: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberly — playwrights Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon wrote not really a sequel but another chapter.  On Sunday December 15, 2019, another Janeite friend and I, attended a lively performance, again at the Merrimack Repertory Theatre in Lowell, Massachusetts.

This time the plot centers on the Wickhams — Lydia and ahh yes the man himself but I will not stray into spoilers but to note this play also incorporates storylines from below stairs, about Mrs. Reynolds the housekeeper and a few other staff members — perhaps the authors are taking cue from the popularity of Downton Abbey and it’s both upstairs/downstairs characters and plot lines.

A lot of Jane Austen fair is watered down, and many scholars lament some of the Jane Austen Universe spin offs in novels, that are often now adapted for television, or just the poorly adapted  teleplays being produced for Christmas on the Hallmark Channel here in the US.  Hallmark has definitely been cranking out the movies to belie the competition and raiding some Jane Austen classics in the most superficial way in the name of having the largest number of new movies for consumers.

It is wise here to note, more is not always the best thing — quality over quantity, etc.

This play is a fresh take on things and where navigating the Wickhams and devising a satisfying plot line and resolution can be in the most honest terms difficult to impossible — especially to please all degrees of Austen readers — personally I thought it was most enjoyable.  It was a nice a break in the middle of hectic holiday preparations.