One lone idea sparked my short story, “To Haunt the Daring Place.” I wanted to tell about the founding of a monastery that will feature in the ninth book of my Gael & Keir series.
That was all I had.
There was a monastery. It had an unusual founding. Gael and Keir would visit the place a hundred years (or two) later.
My logical self informed me that this was a slim spot to start from.
My storyteller self felt serenely sanguine. There was a story already present, hiding in my subconscious and ready to be revealed. All I needed to do was trust in its existence and tell it.
I mused upon my protagonist. He was a scholar and a mage, possessed of great world-wonder. He felt curious about everything, but he’d taken a break from the scholarship he loved to rebuild his fortunes, which were decimated by the troll wars. Now he was reclaiming his curiosity.
His name was Coehlin, and he was an especial fan of ancient North-lands philosophers such as Kleomedes the Younger and Aglaia of Seleucis.
I envisioned the story appearing in my collection, Tales of Old Giralliya.
The time period seemed to fit, and I envisioned a sort of fairy tale style for its telling.
But after I wrote the first scene, it was clear that I wasn’t using a fairy tale style at all. It wasn’t right for the story I wanted to tell. Nor would the length be comparable to that of the other stories in Tales of Old Giralliya. They fell in a range between 700 and 4,500 words. “To Haunt the Daring Place” would be at least 6,000 words, maybe more.
My next plan was to submit the story to SFF magazines.
I’d received a nice comment from a magazine editor when I submitted “Crossing the Naiad” to him. Recently I learned what a personal comment like that meant, aside from, ‘It’s good!’ It meant that he’d read the story all the way to its end. And editors don’t do that unless either: 1) they think they might buy the story for their magazine, or 2) they are enjoying the story so much that even though it is not right for their magazine, they can’t bear to stop.
That put my editor’s comment in a new perspective. Getting a story accepted seemed like it might truly be possible!
But as I wrote “To Haunt,” I began to worry that it would be too long for any magazine. Wasn’t 6,000 words the top limit for many? And it was becoming ever more certain that “To Haunt” was going to cross that 6K limit.
In fact, the first draft of “To Haunt” came in at 13,714 words. Yikes!
If 6,000 were the top edge, then my story was more than twice as long. Cutting it down a little to fit wouldn’t be feasible. But I could (and should) check that limit. Maybe my memory was wrong. Maybe, even if I remembered right, there might be a few magazines that would take a novelette. Or, if there weren’t any magazines that would, maybe there would be an anthology call permitting longer lengths.
What I really wanted was to get my story into a magazine with a circulation of thousands or an anthology with an editor possessing an established audience of thousands. The readers who read my work seem to love it. But their numbers are, as yet, few. I want readers who have never heard of me to have a chance at reading my stories.
So…is there a potential venue for “To Haunt the Daring Place”?
I checked the word limits for the top magazines, and many of them accept submissions up to 20K. A few specify 15K, and one 10K.
Obviously the 10K rag won’t work for “To Haunt,” but I have lots of options. Yay! I’m pretty thrilled about it.
The magical architectural element that leads to the founding of the monastery is indeed created in the events recounted in “To Haunt the Daring Place.” But the monastery itself? No. It’s never even mentioned.
But it will be a fun Easter egg for readers of both “To Haunt the Daring Place” and Book Nine of the Gael & Keir Adventures. I assure you that the architectural element is not something that can be missed!
Wish me luck in getting the story accepted. 😀