The Oldest Living Middle-Aged Writer Survives Vacation

Traffic SignCompliments of Guest Blogger The Oldest Living Middle-Aged Writer      (aka Pat Childers)

August 22 near Cong, County Mayo  

First day Ireland. Staying at B&B in Cong where they filmed The Quiet Man. Unable to find John Wayne. Weather is actually quite lovely 70 F and mostly sunny.

August 22 near Cong, County Mayo

Conversation:
Me: I forgot they drive on the left here.
He: What?
Me: they drive on the left.
He: Here’s a map. Figure out where we’re going.
Me: No GPS?
He: What?
Me: I’ll figure it out.
He: Oh no a roundabout.
Me: Go straight.
He: What?
Me: That way (pointing)
He: Don’t point. Tell me.
Me: Ok go straight.
He: What?

That’s pretty much the way it’s gone so far

Day 1 into Day 2

Was spent exploring the republic of Ireland’s public health system. A scant 16 hours later we were very pleased to learn no blood clot in my leg, just massively swollen hematoma. Met a lot of nice people though. Spent time on a hospital gurney in the hallway, had blood test and vascular ultrasound and nice little doctor from Pakistan. Cost: 200 euros (260 US). I’m worth it.

Day 3

Can’t go to Cong without a trip to The Quiet Man Museum, not open weekends or noon to 1:00, or whenever they don’t feel like it. The main event is a replica of the cottage John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara moved into, with replica clothes if you feel up to reenacting the wedding night scene.

Cowlowres

Just a note to my Wisconsin friends and family — Ireland has the biggest, cleanest cows I’ve ever seen. It’s as if a cow washer appears before dawn to shine them up and then deposit them on little knolls facing the road. I’m sure this has a lot to do with the quality of the cheese too.

Day 4

castleDlowresCastles everywhere most built around 1140 to 1500. The homes are big and beautiful and the fences are made of rocks. No shoulders on the roads just solid rock fences.

The food has been great. You get a bowl of French fries with everything. I had a pork dinner on mashed potatoes with sides of boiled potatoes and a big bowl of French fries. My grandchildren would love it. Going to Kinvara tomorrow. My leg is getting better.

Day 5

Was a lot of rocks. Drove through the Burren which is a large mountain of rock with a bunch of rocks on top. Then they stack the rocks up and call them fences. But really they are just more piles of rocks.

BurrenrockslowresDay 6

We puttered around then went to Dunguire Castle in Kinvara for a banquet dinner and some Irish songs and poetry. The food was quite good. More potatoes with green beans and carrots and a chicken breast. Reminded me of every wedding I’ve ever been to. The sun came out and we took lots of castle sunset pictures.

Day 7

Was a lot of driving from Kinvara to Dingle Town on the aptly named Dingle Peninsula. The roads are wide enough to fit two small compact cars abreast as long as you don’t open the doors. On the sides are piles of rock fences covered with ivy and bushes. In the center of the road is a white line that marks where the edge of your right hand mirror can reach because you’re driving on the left. The object appears to be to drive as fast as possible maintaining a one-inch margin from the rocks on one side and 0 to one inch on the right. When a tour bus or large farm machinery approaches you grab the steering wheel with both hands and wet your pants.

Day 8

We dingled all over the peninsula today and saw many archeological sites as civilization dates from around 3000 bc here. People built houses called beehive huts completely out of rocks (what else?) that still stand today. It was a totally grey day but wild fuchsia bushes sit atop the rock walls that line the roads and add beautiful orange and red color to the probably bloodstained undergrowth. I will have to photoshop the sun into the pictures.

Day 9

We drove from the Dingle peninsula to Shannon. We had the displeasure of stopping for a bite to eat and toilet at a little place that advertised “burgers and hot pizza.” It was the Irish version of a 7/11. She said there was a toilet next door in the green building. I ordered a burger. She said they didn’t have any. No pizza either. They had hot little pies with a bit of gravy inside so we bought them both. What concerned me was the sign that said “food must be consumed within 90 minutes.” Or what, I thought? Anyway there was no green building, it was blue. And it was locked up. “I’ve been using that toilet all day,” she said. I still want to know what would have happened if we hadn’t eaten the pies in less than 90 minutes.

An update about the weather in Ireland. Generally the mornings are cool and cloudy except when the sun peeks through. Then it clouds over until it sprinkles. Suddenly the clouds dissipate and the sun comes out. Grab your camera and look for the rainbow. Oops too late. It’s cloudy again and warm. Take off your sweater. Your face flushes with perspiration just before a cold breeze makes you put your sweater back on. There’s the sun again, you sly dog. Stay there!! No it’s gone and a gentle rain begins to fall as you put your raincoat on. Time to eat breakfast.

Day 10

The final day of our vacation in southwest Ireland. They have gone a long way toward keeping the Irish culture intact here. The signs are usually in Gaelic and English but sometimes, just for fun, they’re just the old Irish and you are suddenly in limbo because these words are so strange you know somebody was kidding around when they made them up — Oifig an Phoist (post office) or Beag (little). Sadly I never did find the one for toilet.

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The Oldest Living Middle-Aged Writer lives in Midwestern flyover country with her dogs. There have been reported sightings of her husband. In between innings of the Cubs game she is working on her web site and can be contacted at pat@pjchilders.com.

“There’s a hole; there’s a hole in the bottom of the seat.”

Compliments of Guest Blogger, Jody Worsham aka The Medicare Mom
All rights reserved for Dr. Spock

MedicareMom

There was a time when all things laid on a car seat stayed there, sometimes for months. Sunglasses tossed on the seat would remain until, well, one of my sudden stops. An open bag of M&M’s would stay put until the last one was eaten. Of course all this is BS, Before Seat-belts.

With the passage of the seat-belt laws, all cars developed seat belt holes in otherwise perfectly good bench seats. The seat-belt slots housing the retractable seatbelt became the Black Holes of Inner Space. Eye glasses placed on the seat would disappear down the hole at the slightest turn. M&M’s would pour themselves into the never-ending abyss. Cell phones would slide ringing into the blackness.

Small children are now bribed by parents. “Honey, help Mommy find her glasses. Stick your hand down this hole and don’t worry if you feel something gooey, that’s probably the chocolate bar I lost when I turned the corner yesterday and not zombie brains.”

Others have used the black hole searches to occupy bored and starving children. “You can have all the gummy bears and M&M’s you can find in the seat-belt holes.” Still others use it to threaten misbehaving children. “If you don’t settle down, you’re going to have to search for lost pens in the blaaaaaaaaack hooooooole and it won’t be pretty.”

Like space black holes, you know the seat-belt hole is there; you just can’t see what’s in it. Nor can you prove the existences of anything that has entered the black hole. You saw your driver’s license slip into the black hole, but you can’t prove it to the nice policeman. Unless you have the long fingers of a concert pianist or a cooperative two-year-old, the chances of retrieving the item are slim.  Just pay the fine.

Anthropologists predict that in the future the first and second fingers of adults will grow to resemble pincers due to the continuous probing of the black seat-belt hole. Space ships will have the required seat belts as evidenced by Dr. Spock’s unique hand greeting.

Now when the children are singing that maddening never ending song “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea,” I will sing my own version.

“There’s a watch on the pen on the earring on the phone on the M&M’s, on the log in the hole in the bottom of the seat. There’s a hoooole, there’s a hooole, there’s a hole in the bottom of the seat.”

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Jody Worsham started officially writing humor when she became a mom again at age 61 to two children whose names are not Viagra and Cialis. Writing humor was cheaper than therapy, legal, and didn’t leave a hangover. She has been married to the same man for almost 50 years and he is not the father to any of the 8 (adopted) children. In fact, each of the seven children have a different father. Jody blogs at http://themedicaremom.blogspot.com/

Smarter, Faster, Cooler

Final Frontier

Thank you, George Takei

Ok, what does it take to teach an old dog new tricks? I have to ask, see, because I’m old enough to remember the days before computers, before cell phones, before the technology boom in all its glory.  And I have to admit, I am a pretty reluctant consumer, always hesitant to jump on the latest technology bandwagon.

I have my reasons of course.  Reason #1: As I recently admitted (It’s the Bomb), I have an addictive personality. It doesn’t take much, and I’m hooked.

For instance, many years ago now, there was this new mini-oven thing that ‘waved’ your food in less than a minute. I knew I would never want to be without it again, would not be able to imagine my life before it, would give up my full-sized oven before I’d give up this wave-your-food-fast-thing. So of course I resisted getting one. But you know where this is going…. Yes, this food waving thing now permanently resides in our tiny, galley kitchen and so what if does take up a huge portion of counter space? The floor is a perfectly good place to stir, chop, blend, though who cooks real food anymore? Not me!

Same reluctance occurred when the “smart” phone came out – which I finally got, oh, let’s say less than a year ago. Yes, I did without one all this time, watched people texting, taking good photos, reading their email, playing games on their phone, and I was satisfied with my antiquated little Samsung because I know myself. I knew once I had a smart phone, I’d pay any amount of money for its data package, it’s games, all the cool apps I could get. Deposit checks via my phone? Yes, yes, yes!

I may also have been the last writer to give up my trusty Corona typewriter for a desktop PC. One of the last to replace my PC with a laptop, or for that matter, to get a DVD player. Naturally, I haven’t given up my VCR and most of my videotapes. After all, I have some old movies, (e.g. New Leaf) that can’t be easily, or cheaply, replaced.

VCR

My beloved VCR

Which brings me to Reason #2: The cost!

You have to admit if you wait a little while until the popular “new thing” isn’t so popular anymore and until most of the kinks are out, you get a better deal. Ok, I know some of you (like you who willingly stand in line for the latest iPhone the minute it comes out) laugh at this idea. I know it’s unthinkable for you not to buy the newest technological wonder the second it’s released. Smarter, faster, cooler… you have to have it! If this is you, more power to you. But these new toys being as expensive as they are, I have to wonder, where do you get the $$?

See the reluctant consumer part of me always has to ask: why pay for cable when rabbit ears will do? Why pay for a phone that requires an expensive data package when you already have a computer and are paying for internet access? And aren’t DVD’s already passe? I can’t keep up! I don’t want to keep up! It’s going to cost me dearly!

As if it hasn’t already.

Sigh.

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De-Worming Norpie

Compliments of Guest Blogger, Timothy State

After five days of no hearing in his right ear, the sensation he is underwater, and a YouTube diagnosis, Norpie was convinced he had a worm take up habitation in his ear canal. At 9 p.m., I finally said, “We’re headed to the MinuteClinic.”

photo 1When we discovered the MinuteClinic was closed, and not open 24-hours like the Web said, we asked the Pharmacist on duty where we could find another urgent care center that is open late, or 24-hours.  We explained the worm situation.

Pharmacist response to Norpie’s hypothesis a worm is living in his ear. “I got 2 Prozac I could give you; that would make you feel better.”

Within 10 minutes, we were at another urgent care center.

photo 2Intake clerk: “Do you have a religious preference?”

Norpie: “Christian Scientist. Sort of ironic I’m at a medical clinic?”

Intake clerk: “What’s your emergency contact?”

Norpie: “The bald man next to me.””

Intake Nurse

@norpsforkncork “I think I have a worm in my ear.”

Norpie indicated he would pay cash, and she offered him a 49% discount. After the insurance triage, he was swiftly taken to a treatment room where he was hooked up to machines.

photo 4

Norpie in the cuff

[#TwitterBan. Details of the examination are lost; the Doctor swiftly shut my social media down.]

“Do you think he is dying?” I ask the doctor in reference to the worm Norpie thinks has taken shelter in his ear canal.

“Seriously,” the doctor said, “Seven a.m., 42 year old Asian guy who ate vegetables and rice. Non-smoker. Had a full on heart attack. Right here.” She shakes her head in disbelief and walks out of the room.

Diagnosis: No worm, just fluid.

The diagnosis was devastating to Norpie, after learning how the ear is supposed to drain to the back of the throat.

The doctor called in a prescription that she said would help reduce inflammation, and help the fluid drain.

photo 2(1)PharmacybasketsWe head off to our CVS to get the script, hopeful that we might also get free Prozac.

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The videos + the story “De-Worming Norpie” can be viewed on Storify where it was ‘trending’ on Twitter.

Timothy State is Associate Vice President for Alumni Programs at Lake Forest College. On the side, photography, writing, swimming, and biking are his things.

It’s The Bomb

AddictionsI’m clearly an addict. First it was reading, then cigarettes, then alcohol, then cars, then men, then writing, then fast cars, then fast men, then women, then fast women, then more reading, writing…. Ok, I embellish some. Ok, maybe a lot (and I’m not telling 🙂 ) Sorry. It’s the fiction writer in me. But I have always been a reader and a writer, in love with words.

Now my addictions have reached new heights: to the FB word game, Lexulous. Which like my other addictions, got me the first time out, now totaling more than 2200 games.. I can’t seem to turn away from it, though why I would want to is beyond me.

See, this word game has got a UK dictionary, which is the bomb. Ever hear of Ch? Qi? Qa? Ky? All perfectly wonderful UK words! Which is a big deal to me, because when I was addicted to board games, I was always swearing something like these were words, and the U.S. dictionary was always disagreeing. Now that I’m playing a word game with a UK dictionary, well what can I say but oh joy!

Of course Lex isn’t perfect. First, you can only play this game with your FB friends, so if you don’t join the ‘club,’ you can’t play. Which is very junior high, a place I don’t care to go back to. Second, it’s quite temperamental and changeable (for the simple sake of change, no less), and when it’s totally out of sorts, might be unavailable for the entire day!

But I’ll say this, unlike some of my other addictions, it’s not harmful to me or to others (unless I’m playing Lex while driving – not!), nor is it selfish or jealous. If I want to play a little Wordscraper or Candy Crush, for instance, it doesn’t get angry and shut down. Plus I have friends who like Lex as much, or nearly as much, as I do. Which makes life a little easier than if they scorned it, ya know?

Plus it’s free. No upkeep. No ashes. No cleaning up after. No arguments. No woozy head. No rejections, proofreading, or revisions— just pure word play!

Best of all, Lex has tiles the cats can’t walk across or place their little butts on. Ah, heaven!

So…game on?

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We can be FB friends if you want to play Lex with me. You can also find me at https://www.facebook.com/sjpstories.  (Yes, the shameless promoting begins – ugh!)

Calling All Guest Bloggers

I could have been writing

I should have been shopping my book!

To blog or not to blog? This is the question I pose to you today: Guest blogging.

Yes, I’m looking to feature writers on my blog.

I started some Fridays ago with writers I know pretty well. But I don’t need to know you well at all, or know you at all. And you don’t need to have a blog. You just need to an idea in search of an audience.  J

Why?  For you – well, possible new readers of course, and a chance to plug your blog, if you have one (again, not a requirement).

For me – I need to work on shopping my book. Plain and simple. And since I can’t seem to do that and blog at the same time.

Here’s the deal:

1.     You choose any subject you want to write about. Pretty good deal, eh? Or if you need ideas, just ask.  I am happy to give writing prompts.

2.     Exception: I’m not accepting poetry. Sorry.  When it comes to poetry, I’m the first to admit I’m a poor judge.

3.     Humor most welcome.

4.     Word count – generally no more than 500 words (Ok, I might make an exception.)

5.     Submit to firegut1@gmail.com on Wednesday for my Friday afternoon post.

The post will be under your name, and of course, all rights belong to you. They always do anyway, just being reassuring that you know that I know….:)

Thanks! I hope this will be the beginning of a beautiful writing/blogging relationship!

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Ps. Feel free to pass this message on to your friends, readers, bloggers and other writers.

Week One of My Not Blogging Anymore

She's getting existential again

I recently decided I needed time and energy to work on my book of stories. So I decided not to blog for a while and posted a call for writers one and all to come be guest bloggers. Of course bloggers know what’s in it for them. But for me, well basically, with guests writing my blog, I could keep it alive while I do what I have to do to get my bloody book published. Selfish? Self-serving? Yes I think so too.

The thing is, it’s not my nature to be so selfishly motivated. In fact it’s a well-documented fact from studies taken at work that I am highly altruistic. Yes, we’ve had consultants in to study each of us, and that’s what I am. Caring, compassionate, ready and willing to help others. But not lately, apparently.

Lately, I’m only thinking about me and my unmet goals. Then today I woke up with a backache, and head full of “what am I doing all this for” angst.  Which if you think about it, is a really good question, which I’ve been asking myself all day.

By “all this” I mean:

  • Creating a website
  • Creating a blog
  • Thinking about my blog
  • Thinking about my book then thinking what to write next for my blog     
  • Thinking about the fact that I’m only writing blog posts
  • Thinking about my book of stories
  • Thinking about my book and how I haven’t done a thing towards getting it published
  • Thinking about the fact that I’m not writing fiction anymore or doing anything to get my book pubished – then sitting down and writing a blog post (instead). Sigh.

Have you ever thought about why you want to publish your blog, novel, play, art piece, book of stories?  For money? Readers? Fame? I don’t know about you, but when I wrote my stories, I didn’t think about who would read them, who would publish or buy them. I just wrote them because they asked to be written.

Isn’t the writing itself the point, the pleasure, the ache, the fulfillment?  Isn’t it a complete thing unto itself? Shouldn’t it be?  Or is this what we’ve been conditioned to think?

Ok, call this my dark side, my down side, or as blogger BitterBen would say, my bitter side. I don’t think so. I think I’m simply having an existential crisis. As in, thinking about ALL the arts, I can’t help but ask myself: why bother?

Sure it’s great to create, but then what? Why look for publishers, art exhibitions, theaters to produce your play?  Who’s reading? Who’s appraising? Who’s watching and what does it matter? Why do artists need others to care when it’s the making of the art that should matter?

So I woke up today thinking these thoughts that were in the back of  my mind all week, then I thought about me thinking these thoughts, and this went on and on throughout the day, until finally, hallelujah! night arrived and I could bury my thoughts in front of the TV.

I’ll snap out of this frame of mind, I’m sure. On the up side, the post by my humorous guest blogger, Pat Childers, was a smashing success. And there’s more coming by Pat, who has graciously agreed to help me. She doesn’t work with me anymore, so she hasn’t gone through the series of studies about our selves (preferred work styles, personality stuff, matches to our jobs, etc), but anyone who knows Pat knows her studies would reveal her to be Witty, Urbane, Humane.

Meanwhile, I continue to debate whether to publish my book or just post my stories on my website in case someone – anyone – wants to read them. Whatever.

So that’s it – week one of my not blogging anymore. Who knows what week two will bring. More angst, or perhaps a simple plague of locusts.

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Calling All Writers!

Calling All Writers – Guest Bloggers Welcome!

Calling All Writers

To guest blog or not to guest blog? That is the question.

Yes, I’m looking to feature writers on my blog. If you didn’t see Friday’s post by guest blogger Pat Childers, Questions from the Oldest Living Middle-Aged Blogger, you might want to check it out.

I know Pat pretty well. We used to work together – she always lightened the day with her wit and humor – but I don’t need to know you well, or know you at all. And you don’t need to have a blog. You just need to have an idea in search of an audience.

Why?  For you – well, more readers, new readers, great fame (ha!) and a chance to plug your blog, if you have one (again, not a requirement).

For me – I need to work on my book now. Plain and simple. And since I can’t seem to do that and blog at the same time, and I’d like to keep this blog active until I can work on it again, well, you can see the problem.

Here’s the deal:

1.     You choose any subject you want to write about. Good deal, eh?  Or as Pat said to me, dangerous. Well I love danger! (One exception: no poetry please. When it comes to poetry, I’m the first to admit I’m a dangerously poor judge.)

2.  Word count –try to keep under 600 words. This is not a hard and fast rule, but desirable, as the gurus of blogs say they should stay under 350 words. But what do they know, eh? I’ve read my great blogs that are much longer such as Fransi Weinstein, Bitter Ben and many others.

3.    Submit to firegut1@gmail.com no later than on Wednesdays for my Friday afternoon posts. Word docs or docx please.

The post will be under your name, and of course, all rights belong to you. They always do anyway, just being reassuring that you know that I know…:)

Ok, that’s it for now. So think about it, then submit! This could be the beginning of a beautiful writing/blogging relationship….

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Ps. Feel free to pass this message on to your readers and other writers.

My Success…What a Mess

I could have been writing

Blogger Fransi Weinstein (Three Hundred Sixty-Five) recently posted: “Yesterday’s Word Press Daily Prompt really caught my eye. The theme? “Success.” “Tell us about a time where everything you’d hoped would happen actually did.” And she did, quite eloquently.

So ok, let me begin by saying I know I’m lucky to have had success in my passion: writing short stories. Let me also say, unlike Fransi, my success has been sketchy, plus I have never made much money at it. In fact, just for fun, let’s do the math:

In-coming:

  • New Millennium Short-Story Story Contest: $1000
  • Illinois Arts Council Fellowship: $5000
  • Illinois Arts Council Grant: $500
  • Some literary mag, don’t remember which: $50 (I’m not counting the copies I received in lieu of payment, the typical literary mag ‘payment’)
  • Part-time teaching adult ed in creative writing: around $300 a semester – yes, 300 – not a typo. (I feel I need to count this, even though I am not a teacher at heart, nor a very good one, but it seemed to be part of my passion while I was doing it.)

Out-going:

  • B.A. (English & Psych) $$$$
  • M.A. (English) $$$$$$$$$$

The total, of course, is a total bust. But who’s counting?

I’m not. Honestly, who regrets getting an education? Especially when loans are finally paid off.  🙂

So, back to the subject at hand: my passion for writing short stories. Long story short, my love of short stories began with J. D. Salinger’s Nine Stories. One read, and I was hooked. Then when I was in college and majoring in Psychology, my love of literature drove me to accumulate hours in English. I just needed a few more hours and I’d have a double major.

Ah, but all that extra reading! Did I have energy and time for it? Then one day I discovered they offered a Creative Writing Workshop. Well, ever since I was a kid, stories seemed to pop into my head. I had written some stories, though none of them had really ‘gone’ anywhere. Still, why not? I thought. What did I have to lose but perhaps my pride? One or two semesters of this, and I’d have my double major.

Looking back, I see it was no accident that I ‘happened’ to choose a college that offered a writing course (in those days, college writing courses were few and far between). And there I met an amazing writing instructor, and ended up writing a story that was published in a fine literary magazine before I graduated.

And here’s where the tale twists. This first published story got a lot of praise. Success, right? Follow the momentum, follow the passion, keep on writing, right? Well before you can dedicate yourself to your passion, you have believe in it.

One part of me always knew I was a writer. Another part of me – well how to put it – was scattered. Not focused. Not sure what to do with this first success, which a large part of me did not really believe I could ever duplicate.

So I directed my energy elsewhere: raising my family, making money, etc. Oh sure, every once in a while, I couldn’t stop myself from writing a story. But despite my early success, these efforts rarely came to anything. And I guess I thought of these writing efforts as just a creative outlet, a pipe dream, or simply an anomaly.

So, that’s the short of it. Although I started making up stories from an early age, I allowed a lack of belief in myself to get in my way. In fact, I didn’t really start focusing on my passion until somewhere in my 40’s when, kids grown, husband removed from the scene, I remembered I had one.

But that’s another story…. 🙂

Buck Up and Take It

 

Rejection Sucks          It hurts. I admit it.

Over the years that I’ve been writing and submitting my stories for publication, I’ve received hundreds if not thousands of rejection letters and emails, and I’m still not immune to the sting of rejection.

I have enough rejections to line the walls of my dining room. Stuff like, “not for us,” “thanks for submitting, but we’ve decided….” or the worst one: “not funny and not fair.” Yikes!

It’s hard enough to put yourself and your work ‘out there.’ Still, rejection comes with the territory. And of course, one can always rewrite (or not) and re-submit someplace else, move the story to an archive file, join a writing group, or simply rationalize: They wouldn’t know a good story if it hit them in the arse.

In my heart of hearts, I’ve never quite believed that once your writing has reached a certain level of competence, it’s a matter of taste. Still, this is what other (more accomplished) writers have been telling me.

And then this happened:

My story 13 Rules recently won first prize in the short-short story writing contest run by  New Millennium Writings. At the same time that I submitted 13 Rules to NMW, I submitted it along with two other flash fictions to Fiction Attic Press. (Yes, multiple submissions are ok, particularly if a publication’s guidelines say it is.)

When 13 Rules won, I was so bowled over I forgot to notify Fiction Attic and withdraw it from their consideration. Bet you can guess what happened next….

A few weeks after I won the NMW fiction contest, Fiction Attic emailed me to say it wanted to publish two of the three flash fictions I submitted – and the one they didn’t want was – ta da! – 13 Rules.

Which just goes to show:

1)    One man’s meat is another man’s poison.

2)    After a certain level of competence, it really is just a matter of taste.

Of course all of us who have had our work rejected are in really good company. Here are 30 famous authors whose works were rejected (repeatedly, and sometimes rudely) by publishers

p.s. Coward that I am, I never did tell Fiction Attic the story they rejected just won 1st prize somewhere else.

🙂