Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Adventures in Publishing

I’ve been submitting my short stories and poems to magazines for almost 20 years and one thing I’ve noticed is that some of the editors are the most disorganized monkeys in the jungle. While the regimented chimps are happily digging insects out of a tree stump for supper, the editor monkeys are still looking for their special bug-digging stick while picking nits off an associate chimp and baring their teeth at the intern. Here are a couple of the adventures I’ve had. I’m not using any real names because I’m not trying to throw anyone under the bus, just giving you a glimpse into my writing world.

I originally sent the first 20 pages of my collection of short horror stories, The Spaces between Your Screams, to a publisher about 9 years ago. I was supposed to hear back in 8 weeks. I finally received a response 10 months later. Not a good start to the process, but they asked to see the entire manuscript so I high-fived myself and mailed it off with a promise from them I would hear back within 6 months. I like to give people time so I didn’t ask for a status until a year had passed. I was informed then that they were behind in their reading but they would get to my manuscript ASAP. Another year passed and I received another assurance they were catching up. My days on Earth grew shorter and the Sun burned fuel toward its ultimate goal of becoming a neutron star, but my mail box stayed empty. After year 3 flew off the calendar into the ether I received this answer to my latest query: “We’ll be out of business within the month and have no record of receiving your manuscript.” Ooooookayyyy. Wooosh! Three years of my life down the crapper.

A few years ago I sent 4 poems to a professional horror magazine. The poetry editor said she liked all of them and passed them on to the chief editor for a final decision. Woohoo! 5 months went by with no more word so I sent a query. “Yeah, we’re going to use a couple of them. Let you know in a few weeks.” Cool. 6 more months go by. I begin to wonder if editors understand the passage of time. I query again. They decided to use 1 of the poems. Ok, I was hoping for multiples but anything is good because this is a professional magazine and I’ll get paid $15 which isn’t bad for a few lines of poetry. Say it with me: A few more months go by. I send another query and finally get the name of which poem they are using. Then I waited for the issue to be published. You guessed it: months go by and I go to the website to see if there are any announcements about upcoming issues. Lo and behold there is a picture of the current issue with my name on the front cover under the poetry section. 18 months to get 1 poem printed and he published it without telling me or paying me. One more email and a few weeks later I get my complimentary issue and a check for $15. I cook up a steak as an offering to God for the ordeal being over and do a jig not fit for human eyes. The magazine looks great and I vow to never submit to it again. However. It’s not over. His check bounces. And my bank charged me a $20 fee. What?! Once more into the email breach! I eventually got a money order for $35, but in lieu of an apology received, “hey, shit happens”. Uh huh, that’s true, but this was 2 YEARS worth of shit happening all over me! I still feel dirty.

I submitted 4 poems to an online magazine. A few weeks later I was informed by the poetry editor they would be using Poem #1 in “the next” issue. Since they come out monthly I didn’t have long to wait except, when it came out my poem was not in it. So I waited for the next issue and the next but no poem. I queried and was told it was scheduled for the “next” issue. Literally 3 minutes later I received another email that it was actually the issue after that. Fine. Apparently to them “next issue” of a monthly publication means “around 6 months from now”. I wait patiently for the day to arrive when I get an email that the chief editor has decided he doesn’t like Poem #1 so they’re going to use Poem #3. Let me get this straight Mr. Poetry Editor, I’ve been waiting for 180 days and in all that time you didn’t bother to clear your selection with the chief editor? And now you casually announce you’re using a poem I already sent out to someone else since you rejected it 5 months ago? Boom! That’s the sound of my head exploding. Excuse me while I pick up the pieces. I had to send an email withdrawing Poem #3 from the zine who was considering it, which thankfully they were fine with. Finally the day arrives and the issue comes out and there is Poem #3 in all its glory. A few days later I received an email from the poetry editor stating: “Just a reminder, this is the month for Poem #1”.

Give me strength.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Silver and Gold, Politicians and Insanity

Just when you think our politicians can’t be any more ignorant they grab a diamond-tipped shovel (paid for by our tax dollars) and furiously dig down to a new layer of stupidity. This new stratum, which paleontologists are calling the Dumbasstocene era, is where we find Georgia state legislator Bobby Franklin. He has proposed that all Georgia state taxes be paid only in gold or silver coins:

Pre-1965 silver coins, silver eagles, and gold eagles shall be the exclusive medium which the state shall use to make any payments whatsoever to any person or entity, whether private or governmental. Such coins shall be the exclusive medium which the state shall accept from any person or entity as payment of any obligation to the state including, without limitation, the payment of taxes; provided, however, that such coins and other forms of currency may be used in all other transactions within the state upon mutual consent of the parties of any such transaction.

Franklin’s argument is taken from the U.S Constitution, which has its words scrutinized by these whackjobs the way the paparazzi follow every move of Lindsay Lohan: no state shall "make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts.

I want in on this so I am proposing my own payment plans for specific kinds of debts:

All sports bets shall be paid off in Nutter Butters.

The only currency accepted on the World Poker Tour shall be Topps baseball cards (no doubles).

Sales tax will be paid in sarcasm. Irony will not be accepted.

Capital gains will be made in the form of a tune sung in two-part harmony and written by the songwriter of the investor’s choice.

Payments for gasoline shall be rendered in post-it notes with dollar signs drawn on and the words “Legal Tender in the United States of Larry”.

Remuneration for jury duty will be your choice of chocolate, wine or illegal pharmaceuticals.

From this point forward doctor and hospital bills will be paid in hats, caps, fedoras, chapeaus and the occasional fez.

Restaurant tips can be given on the sliding scale of Chicken-in-a-Biskit, Ritz crackers, oyster crackers and unsalted saltines.

I don’t think any of this is constitutional but it makes as much sense as the garbage proposed by our elected officials.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Unfriending 2011

I have a bone to pick with 2011. We’re less than 2 weeks into this splashy new year and already I have an ear infection, had to have a tooth pulled and discovered my car is leaking coolant. What the hell 2011? What could I possibly have done to you in 12 days to treat me this way?

I admit I didn't ring you in with a lot of enthusiasm (falling asleep watching Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), but damn it I was tired. And 2010 took one more kick at my backside with my cat dying so I wasn't in a party mood. I can’t believe you’re going to be this vindictive.

I was going to invite you over so we could talk about how things needed to be different than with your predecessor, but now my Spam a la Granny Clampett will be saved for some other shapeless universal entity. That imported Estonian table wine will stay corked as well so put away your glass and drink your own cheap booze.

There were such plans for us, 2011. You were going to get me a permanent job with benefits, one of those cloth bags with the dollar sign on it filled with hundred dollar bills was going to fall from the sky onto my porch like a stork delivering a newborn. Then I would use the money to get out of debt and be able to quit delivering the morning rag in 14 degree weather and snow covered roads. It was going to be me and you buddy, just like a Hope/Crosby road movie; having adventures, cracking wise and meeting beautiful women.

Now it has come to this. In only a few days you've proven untrustworthy and a little mean. The good news for me is I’m almost over my ear ache, my tooth crater is healing nicely and by the end of the week my car will be repaired.

And then I will fuck you up.

I’m coming for you, 2011. For the next 11 and a half months I will be chewing gum and kicking ass and I’m all out of Juicy Fruit.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stealing Ideas from Letterman and Leno

These are real classified ads put in a free local paper. Business names and phone numbers have been faked, but the body of the ads was taken directly from the Community Courier:

Bob’s Dog Kennel sale: Maltese, Yorkiepoo, Shihtzu, Maltipoo, Cocker, Westie, Lhasapoo. Lifetime War 555-555-5555

First of all, there is a whole lotta “poo” being sold at this kennel. Sounds like the health inspector might want to pay them a visit. Secondly, I didn’t realize poodles were such hound dogs. Apparently they’ll do it with any breed available. Also coming soon its interspecies mating! Introducing Tabby Catpoos, hamsterpoos and the exotic poison dart frogpoos.

Lastly, they’re offering a “Lifetime War”. Hey, I just wanted to buy a dog and you’re declaring War on me? For the rest of my life? You can take my debit card but you’ll never take my PortugueseWaterDogPoo! Cry havoc and let slip the ChineseCrestedPoos of war! Rommel you magnificent schnauzerpoo, I read your book!

Hit by a truck? Disfigured or Disabled recently by commercial vehicle? You need our “9 step action plan”. No recovery, no fee. Call 1-888-555-5555

What a great opening sentence, but how many people do you figure are reading the classified ads that meet this criteria? I can hear the phone calls they receive:

“Hello, Schmuck and Schmuck law offices. Were you hit by a truck?”
“No, my neighbor’s cockapoo bit me.”
“Sorry we can’t help you.”

“Hello, Schmuck and Schmuck law offices. Were you hit by a truck?”
“I want to sue my landlord for . . .”
“Sorry we only do truck disfigurements.”

Damn it! When will our classified ad start paying off? Doesn’t anyone in this county ever walk in front of a dump truck? There must be a borough tree removal vehicle somewhere with a body wrapped around the rear axle.

Arizona Land Liquidation starting $89/mo, $0 down/$0 interest! 1 and 2 ½ acre ranch lots, 1 hour from Tucson! NO CREDIT CHECK, Guaranteed Financing. Money Back Guarantee! Call 1-888-555-5555

The state of Arizona is going out of business! Everything must go! It’s the biggest contiguous state liquidation sale in our history! We’re crazzzzyyyyy! Don’t have a dime for a down payment? No problem! Don’t want to pay interest? No Problem! Bankrupt? Buried in credit card debt? Living in a dumpster behind Walmart? No problem! We want to sell you land! We will finance anyone, any amount at Wacky Earl’s Arizona Liquidation sale! Come on down!

Apologies to Letterman and Leno.