Happy New Year! My latest flash fiction publications, “afterglow” and “Dialing Islands,” are published this morning in MacQueen’s Quinterly. Both are free to read online. Here are the openings of both stories:
She wonders aloud what his orgasms are like. He lacks the clarity to inhabit what just happened, but he wants to try before the sweat dries. He shuts his eyes, and reopens them defiantly. No, darkness makes it easier to fill the void with anything but the present. And he wants to linger.Read story online in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Issue 6
Clyde. I always call you first. Your home number was the second I memorized after my own. You sat atop all favorites on the speed dial of every phone I’ve owned. You’ll call back, even if I leave another empty voicemail. “Heeey, it’s Clyde. Leave a message at the…” Beep. I breathe. I can’t. Someone needs to listen.Read story online in MacQueen’s Quinterly, Issue 6
How did these stories find a home?
My efforts for “afterglow”:
- ~300 words
- 1 draft
- 8 submissions
- 5 rejections, 1 encouraging rejection
- 2 withdrawals
My efforts for “Dialing Islands”:
- ~700 words
- 2 drafts
- 3 submissions
- 1 rejection
- 1 withdrawal
These are very lucky numbers; I have some stories at 30+ submissions and 5+ drafts. I chalk these publications to previously working with the talented and thoughtful editor, Clare MacQueen, and having a sense of what she might like.
Read on about my process.
“afterglow”—Inspired by a Vulgar Prompt
I drafted “afterglow” in June 2020 after reading a call from PRISM international for their “VULGAR” theme. Rather than going crass, I felt like being contrarian and writing about the tender moments of an orgasm. I knew it was a long shot for the theme, but thought it was a fun challenge nonetheless. Calls for themed submissions are just as useful for what they inspire as what gets published.
While expecting my PRISM international submission to take a few months, I submitted to flash fiction markets that had sent encouraging rejections before.
Vestal Review rejection, October 2020
15-day form rejection:
To Arthur Klepchukov,
Thank you for sending us “afterglow.” Unfortunately we won’t be able to use this work for Vestal Review. We receive many well-written, compelling stories but can take only a limited number because we come out twice a year with only 10-15 stories each issue, which means a 2% acceptance rate. We wish you the best of luck in placing your story elsewhere.
SmokeLong Quarterly rejection, October 2020
5-day form rejection:
Thank you for your submission of “afterglow” to SmokeLong Quarterly. We gave your work careful consideration. Though we are not accepting it for publication, we hope you find a better fit for it elsewhere.
Thanks again for trusting us with your work, and thank you for reading SmokeLong Quarterly.
All the best,
The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts rejection, October 2020
8-day form rejection:
Dear Arthur Klepchukov:
Thank you for sending us “afterglow.” Unfortunately, we decided not to send it to the next round of consideration.
Randall Brown, Managing Editor
Journal of Compressed Creative Arts
Matter Press, a non-profit 501(c)(3) literary press
PRISM international rejection, October 2020
123-day form rejection:
Thank you for sending “afterglow” to PRISM international. Our editorial board read your work for PRISM’s upcoming issues. Unfortunately, after careful consideration, we will not be accepting your submission.
We receive many excellent submissions, and are unable to publish them all. It is worth noting that a rejection is not necessarily a reflection on the quality of your work, as there are many things that factor into our decisions, including the composition of each issue as a whole. We are grateful to you for sharing your work with us.
I was disappointed, but not surprised. Next, I sent “afterglow” to jmmw, where I haven’t submitted before but whose recent flash I enjoyed.
jmmw rejection, November 2020
36-day encouraging rejection:
Thank you for sending us ‘afterglow.’ We appreciated the chance to read it. Although there was a lot to like here, it didn’t quite come together for us in the end, and we regret to pass. Although we’re sorry we don’t have better news at this time, consider submitting to us again in the future!
Thanks again for thinking of us. Best of luck with this!
The editors at jmww
In December, I submitted to Wigleaf and Pidgeonholes as they hadn’t read my work in a while.
I also thought of Clare MacQueen, who I had three excellent early publication experiences with in 2018 as part of KYSO Flash. Clare’s new publication, MacQueen’s Quinterly, had a contest seeking submissions in August that would have been an excellent fit for “afterglow.” Unfortunately, the contest required exclusive submissions and PRISM international still hadn’t responded. Now that “afterglow” was available, I submitted it and two other pieces—similar to my work that Clare previously published—as part of MacQueen’s Quinterly open submissions period.
“Dialing Islands”—Filling the Emptiness of Missed Calls and Silent Voicemails
Sometimes all I need is someone to pick up and listen. But after a few missed calls, my ego aches this gentle ache that I shouldn’t take personally, but I do. Rather than shying away from that lonely feeling, I dove into it in “Dialing Islands.”
2020 left many chances to make calls and plenty of reasons to not pick up. My phone time dwindled but not my desire to reconnect. I drafted this story in the summer and sat on it for months. I liked the feeling it captured but doubted if it was ready. Did it needed more words and grounding to make it more concrete? A few sanity checks with four different writing friends resolved my hesitation. So I began submitting the second draft in December.
I sent it to SmokeLong Quarterly and Pidgeonholes, based on past encouraging rejections. Like “afterglow” above, I thought it might be the kind of story Clare MacQueen would enjoy, so I sent it to MacQueen’s Quinterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly rejection, December 2020
1-day form rejection
Thank you for your submission of ‘Dialing Islands’ to SmokeLong Quarterly. We gave your work careful consideration. Though we are not accepting it for publication, we hope you find a better fit for it elsewhere.
Thanks again for trusting us with your work, and thank you for reading SmokeLong Quarterly. Our story archive is available free to read online.
All the best,
Acceptances from MacQueen’s Quinterly, December 2020
Heartfelt thanks for brightening my morning with a trio of lyrical stories. Just my cuppa tea! :-) I enjoyed reading them all, and I would be so pleased to publish this pair:
“afterglow” and “Dialing Islands”
In order to access the publishing agreement… [ redacted for brevity ]
I look forward to presenting your stories to our readers soon. Again, thanks so much for publishing with MacQ! :-)
Wishing you and yours
a safe and happy holiday season,
I was delighted that Clare enjoyed my latest submission. In fact, the third story of this submission was also accepted before the end of 2020 by another journal—details forthcoming. According to MacQueen’s Quinterly statistics, these acceptances were 2 of 386 submissions.
I withdrew my submissions from Wigleaf and Pidgeonholes and will send them new flash in the future.
The MacQueen’s Quinterly contract was thorough and straightforward. There were no surprises after reviewing similar contracts for Clare’s previous publication, KYSO Flash.
Two emails of minor edits later, both “afterglow” and “Dialing Islands” were ready. As when we worked on stories for KYSO Flash, I appreciated how Clare’s editorial questions made me think. Her close reading can make me reconsider the impact of relatively minor but significant details, like the use of em dashes to establish a detached and distinct tone. This is one of the reasons I love working with literary journals and thoughtful editors; they’ll amplify things that even the best critique partners can miss.
Our previous work is online here:
Submit and share your victories
Learn to submit with my free submission resources: