Short Story to Gamut


A couple weeks ago, in my summer update, I wrote about how 2016 hadn’t really panned out the way I’d hoped. It hasn’t been a bad year at all. In fact, production-wise, I feel like I’ve written some of the best fiction of my life. And while I haven’t had much to announce this year, some of that production is paying off.

I’m thrilled to announce Gamut, a new literary magazine, has accepted a short story of mine. I can’t stress the previous sentence’s verb enough.

An acceptance from any market is a great thing. It’s acknowledgement for hard work and dedication, not to mention passion for a piece. It says you did something right, but more than that, it says someone else believes in the story as much as you do. And now the story has an avenue to reach other readers.

But contributing to Gamut is a whole different accomplishment. Not only is Gamut an amazing project (and I’ll get to that in a moment) that is the brainchild of some people I hold in high regard, but it’s also a professional market.

If you’re keeping score, it’s my first professional market sale. So it’s meaningful to me because it demonstrates progress.

Just to give you an idea how competitive professional markets are, Gamut took 300 submissions in August. From that, they accepted 11 stories. That’s a 3.66% acceptance rate. In other words, if this were a creative writing class and Gamut editors were the teacher, people who scored a 96%, which is an A everywhere I’m aware of, would go home with an F.

These markets always have to turn away really good work, and I’m extremely grateful to the people at Gamut for giving my story an opportunity.

So what’s this story about?

It’s about love, loss, shattered hopes and dreams, grief, and family. In less abstract terms, it’s about a world where the dead haunt the ones who loved them. Invariably, they return to be an ever-present, physical reminder that they are gone, and their families have to decide whether to hold on or let go. It is called “The Last Family Pillar.”

I feel strongly about this story. To me, it’s meaningful and powerful, and I hope that, when Gamut publishes it sometime in 2017 (the exact date isn’t set yet), you check it out and agree.

You said you were going to talk about Gamut.

Right. Thanks. I am sincerely excited to see this project launch.

In addition to Gamut being a professional market that insists on authors being paid fairly for their work (an ideal that has seemingly been lost in the publishing industry), Gamut aims to publish work that bridges the gap between genre and literary fiction. It’s a rare thing these days to marry the literary communities, but during a time when straight science fiction and urban fantasy are so popular, Gamut believes we’re in a golden age for dark fiction. I couldn’t agree more, and the paradox in publishing is most publishers want to put out whatever is popular so they can limit their risk, but they all hope to lead the market. We need publishers who are willing to invest in a movement and pull it in their direction. That’s what Gamut is doing. It’s providing a lucrative avenue for talented authors to find reinforcement and a place to grow. It’s an arrowhead we can get behind.

Furthermore, they read blind. That may seem like an oxymoron. We weren’t asked to submit our stories in braille. Let me explain.

Before you submit to Gamut, they require you to remove all identifying information from your manuscript. This ensures they judge the story entirely on its own merit, not the credentials or past successes of the author. Stephen King or George R. R. Martin could submit, and their names wouldn’t do them a lick of good.

In short, Gamut is paying the best rates for the best work from the best authors. Period. It doesn’t matter who you are. Only your work matters. And in that pursuit, Gamut hopes to promote diversity in literature. What they’re doing is already working: in the first class, 6 out of the 11 stories were written by female authors. This is a genre that is often criticized for promoting only male authors. Gamut is proving the ladies can write dark, too, and that is as good a reason as any to check out their first issue in January.

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