Monday, March 7, 2011

The Little Story That Could

A few years ago I wrote a regular short story for a themed anthology, but it didn't make the cut. Neither did the anthology, but that's another story.

The story was about a woman named Avery Carson. It was a procedural. I thought it had merit and kept tinkering with it, kept sending it out. No one liked it. I was liking it more and more. And I wanted to mark it off my list :)

After months of tinkering, submitting, rejection again and again, I put it away. I was involved with another project and didn't want to think about it any more.

Months later I pulled it out again. Ah, I knew the answer. I added a whole other layer to it, made it longer with a more complex plot. Instead of 3000 words or so, it grew to 5000-6000 words. Had a different title. Again tinker, submit, rejection. The same pattern. I put it away again.

Many months passed before I pulled it out again. I couldn't let go of Avery. And it was Avery, not the story. I chopped all the plot. What I had left was the core of Avery. I knew exactly who she was. And a 500-word flash story was born. With a new title. This was Avery's story, in a nutshell.

Again I sent it out. Again it came back. More than once. But I didn't put it away. And I didn't tinker. This was her story, and I had finally told it.

Every month or so I checked flash markets to see if I could find a fit. Nothing. I didn't believe the story really fit any genre. It definitely wasn't fantasy, scifi, historical, horror, slipstream, or romance. It was dark. There was crime. I tried all sorts of markets - mystery, flash only, even literary. I kept looking.

Last year, a new market opened - Dark Valentine Magazine. They were looking for dark fiction. They didn't care about genre as long as the story was dark. And they were open to flash fiction. Off it went.

They loved it. "Blues in the Night" was included in the premier issue last May.

And last week it was nominated for a Derringer Award for Best Flash Story by the Short Mystery Fiction Society.

So the little story that no one liked for years has gone on to be short-listed for an award in its category.

The moral to this little story is:
Never Give Up
Write the Best Story You Can
Believe In Your Work
Believe In Yourself

47 comments:

Joanne said...

Wow, congratulations! What a perfect story of determination and faith in our work taking it to great places. Raising my coffee cup in a toast to your WINNING the Derringer Award ... Cheers :)

Colette said...

Yeah!! Congratulations! Persistence wins every time!

Laura Eno said...

Woot! Congrats on the nomination!

VR Barkowski said...

Congratulations again, Carol! I was so thrilled to see your name on the Derringer list - you made my weekend. Sometimes I think perseverance is the hardest part of the battle.

Jennifer Shirk said...

Oh my gosh, FANTASTIC story and inspiration to never give up!
Mega congrats!!

Cat said...

Wow...congrats girl! I am so proud of you!!!!! :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Joanne - Well, it's not really a mystery, so we'll see.

Colette - I have plenty of that.

Laura - Thanks.

VR - Gotta hang tough.

Jennifer - Kind words always appreciated :)

Cat - Thanks.

Andrea Franco-Cook said...

Congratulations, Carol. What an inspiring story. Thanks for sharing it. Just another example of how persistence pays off. Best of luck with this.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, this is fabulous, Carol! Congratulations! Great lesson in persistence and in identifying what it is we love, and not being so attached to the rest of it. You spotted the gold, mined it, and it worked!

N. R. Williams said...

You're so right and a Big congratulations on the whole thing. I suspect I have given up on the publishing industry, that is why I'm concentrating on self pub now.
Nancy
N. R. Williams, The Treasures of Carmelidrium

BECKY said...

Congrats, Carol! What an awesome story to begin my week with! I'm so happy for you!

Maryann Miller said...

Congrats. I, too, believe that if a character and/or story just keeps pushing at you, it needs to be worked on until it finds the right path. I am so happy for your publication and your recognition.

lbdiamond said...

Ohmigosh!!! That's SO cool! :D Congrats!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's awesome, Carol! Yeah, sometimes we need to realize it's the characters not the story that moves us.

Elspeth Antonelli said...

Wow, Carol, this news is dance-on-the-ceiling fantastic. Good for you! Good for you on not giving up, good for you on knowing what worked and what didn't in your story and good for you for being nominated for an award.

Carol Kilgore said...

Andrea - I am persistent. Subborn. And tenacious.

Hart - It's nice for things to pay off from time to time.

Nancy - Publishing is changing. Who knows what will be the norm even a year from now.

Becky - Happy to have started your week off right :)

Maryann - Avery was one of those.

lbdiamond - Thanks.

Alex - This was one of those times.

Carol Kilgore said...

Elspeth - It took time. A lot of time. If I had your sheep, I might have shot them. This is Texas, you know :)

LR said...

I loved your story, Carol. Very well written.

I'm surprised it was rejected (some people have no taste). :)

I have one that keeps coming back too, but now you've inspired me to persist and send it again.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Nominated for a Derringer?! That's huge! Congratulations, Carol!

Lydia K said...

Seems like looking at a story with fresh eyes can do wonders. Congrats, Carol!

Summer Ross said...

Carol- I have something for you on my blog

Talli Roland said...

THAT IS FANTASTIC, CAROL!

I love hearing stories like this, because it proves that writing is about hard work and determination -- not just inspiration.

Massive congrats!

Anne R. Allen said...

And I guess a further piece of advice would be, "don't worry about genre--somebody may invent one for you." I love this. So nice to hear such positive news!

Holly Ruggiero said...

This is such an inspiring post. I love that once you knew it was right you stuck to it.

Congratulations on the nomination! Keep us updated.

Carol Kilgore said...

LR - Thanks for such kind words. It's all about the right market.

Elizabeth - Nah. A Derringer is a tiny little gun :)

Lydia - Yes. Fresh eyes are wonderful.

Summer - Ooh, cool. I'll be over.

Talli - Exactly so about hard work and determination.

Anne - Now wouldn't that be neat!

Holly - Once I chopped out all the plot, the lightbulb came on. All I had to do was tie the pieces of Avery together as minimally as possible.

The Golden Eagle said...

Congratulations! :)

What a great story.

Life 101 said...

Can you spell perseverance? Good job!

Theresa Milstein said...

Congratulations! I love learning about the story's journey. And I like your advice list!

Ann Best said...

I just commented on your post (a good one!) Why We Write.

Now I've just read this exciting post. That's awesome about the nomination! This kind of thing perks one up!! Congratulations!!!

It's so true. Never give up, write, and believe. Hooray for you!!

Blogger isn't very versatile, but at least the Page does work for awards.

BTW, I finally went over to your website, after reading your comment on Holly Ruggiero's post about the fact that you have your name on your website. I love your site! It's beautiful and looks informative. I've bookmarked it to come back to when I have more time.

Have a great week!!

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

What a great story of perseverance and believing in your characters. Congratulations! I hope you win the award,

notesfromnadir said...

That's great that you finally got the story published & now it's being nominated. Sure hope it wins!

Donna Hole said...

Awesome "story" about your story. Perserverance does pay off.

Congrats on the award.

......dhole

Carol Kilgore said...

Golden Eagle - Thanks.

Life 101 - I can with a good dictionary :)

Theresa - Not all my stories have a story, but this one sure did.

Ann - I'll go over and check last week's post. Thanks for visiting my website. I'm glad you'll go back. The beauty part goes to my web guru.

Jane - Thanks for the good wishes.

Lisa - And thank you, too.

Donna - It certainly does. Never give up.

Mason Canyon said...

This is wonderful Carol. Congratulations, way to go.

Mason
Thoughts in Progress

The Happy Whisk said...

Always always trust yourself. Good job.

Carol Kilgore said...

Mason - Thanks.

Happy Whisk - Trusting myself has turned into quite a journey.

The Happy Whisk said...

One of which you are doing a fantastic job with. Keep trusting yourself. You are amazing.

Linda Kage said...

Yay, Carol!! That's so cool. Congrats! Throwing virtual confetti!!

I love your moral too. Now you need that picture of the bird trying to swallow the frog and the frog holding onto the bird's neck!

Michelle Davidson Argyle said...

What a lovely, inspiring story! Thank you for sharing this. I'm happy to discover your blog. Happy Whisk sent me over here. :)

Carol Kilgore said...

Happy Whisk - Blushing.

Linda - Love confetti! Oh yeah...I like that picture.

Michelle - Thanks. I'm happy you're here!

Helen Ginger said...

Congratulations Carol! That is so exciting. Go Avery!

Clarissa Draper said...

Wow, that's so cool. You never gave up or changed the story more than you thought you should and it's picked up. Great. Congrats.

Carol Kilgore said...

Helen - Avery has had quite a ride.

Clarissa - Well, I changed it a lot over a few years, but once it reached the flash story, I didn't change it.

Janet, said...

Wow, that gives me hope. I've always said that persistence and patience is something that every writer has to have to make it.

Carol Kilgore said...

Janet - Never give up.

J.L. Campbell said...

Well done. This is proof of what perseverance can achieve.

Carol Kilgore said...

Thanks, J.L.