The Once and Future Hot Potato
1285 words long
It's been years, but I've still got it safe right here.
don't get caught with this fictionette
- 1,285 wds. long
Ha! I pun. This Friday's Fictionette is called "The Once and Future Hot Potato." Get it? "Don't get caught..." *Grooooan.*
It's about a kids' game, of course, but also about nostalgia and memory and divergent timelines. As always you can read the excerpt by following the link... and scrolling down to the text below the huuuuuge photo. (That's the original photo I used in this week's cover art, taken with my flip-phone at its highest quality photo setting. It's kind of blurry and very, very big.) If you want to read the whole thing, you should follow the links at the bottom of the excerpt to the PDF and the MP3. (Or just click them here.) If you are not already a subscriber to Friday Fictionettes, those pages will provide you with everything you need to become one with minimal fuss.
Meanwhile, over at my main writing gig, which is the writing and attempted selling of short fiction...
So I got a rejection letter today. This is not a surprise; I've been sending out a submission almost every day (yay!), and some of those markets are very quick to eliminate whatever it is they don't want. This particular market took about a day. They're the kind of place you send everything first, because if they say Yes you get a not-insignificant per-word pay rate in a prestigious professional magazine, and if they say No you won't be waiting long to find out.
No, the surprise was the paragraph added to the usual familiar form email, the paragraph reminding me to please in future use Standard Manuscript Format.
How embarrassing. I have been sending out manuscripts in Standard Manuscript Format for over twenty years now. I do not, by this time of my career, need to review an example. I'm more likely to err on the side of old-school Standard Manuscript Format by forgetting to change my underlines to italics or my Courier New to Times New Roman where a market specifically requests it. I was mortified to see that paragraph. Good Gods, what a newbie I must have looked.
Then I opened up the file I'd sent them, and was further mortified.
It was a mess, y'all. Both headers, the first-page header and the all-subsequent-pages header, were on the first page. Which was otherwise blank. Which was followed by nine other pages that were blank except for the all-subsequent-pages header. Which was followed by a page that was almost just as blank, but with the title. The next page had my byline. Then another blank page. Then, a page with just the first paragraph of the story.
Things didn't look normal until page 15, where the second paragraph of the story appeared and was followed by the third, fourth, and fifth paragraphs, and so forth, continuing as normal until the end of both story and document. But of course, by then, the damage was done. I'm amazed they read it at all (I am reasonably certain that they did).
Of course I looked like a newbie. What a total newbie mistake--to send along a manuscript file sight unseen.
So this is your Public Service Announcement, friends and colleagues: Before you hit SUBMIT, always open up the file and make sure the Manuscript is acceptably Formatted according to Standards.
(Also maybe don't make any changes in Open Office. Make all changes in Scrivener and recompile. Open Office is apparently notorious for terrible RTF support.)