Barb Caffrey's Blog

Writing the Elfyverse . . . and beyond

Writers of the Future bounces 3rd quarter story.

with 4 comments

Folks, some nights are beyond frustrating, and this is one of them.

The story I sent to WotF in the 3rd quarter is a Joey Maverick tale set in my late husband’s universe, with mostly his characters — this is the second tale, and for this one I’d added a great deal of things (more plot layers, a few new characters, deepening of the characters already there, some internal monologue).  And were Michael alive, it would’ve been Michael who’d sent this in (providing he wrote all this in, of course), and I’d have been the one checking the MSS — meaning I’d have caught stuff that apparently got by me this time.

All I was told was that my story (based on Michael’s “Maverick” universe) “didn’t go in double-spaced” (I thought it had; I know they want traditional MSS format, which is what I use constantly) and I noticed on the page they sent back (which indeed wasn’t double-spaced, though I haven’t a clue why at this remove) that it had the wrong header — which I know I fixed.  I was on my Mom’s computer at that point, not mine (Mom has air conditioning, and I don’t), and I know Mom’s computer can do some odd things to formatting.  That’s probably what happened to the headers  (I checked, but probably saw what I wanted to see; this is a failing).  But as for the double-spacing, I haven’t a clue.  Because I do know better.

At any rate, this is probably the best story I have ever sent them, and because of these two things, the story itself wasn’t considered.   I don’t blame them for this, because they get so many stories, they’re going to have to kick stuff out however they can — they once bounced “Trouble with Elfs” because they said the “protagonists’ ages (were) too young,” because they were teens, even though I’ve seen stories about teens in the WotF anthology before and probably will again.  That one frustrated me even more than this one, because it was perfectly formatted; fortunately, the story eventually sold in 2007.  (I sent it to WotF in 2004, long before Michael passed away.)

I sent them something for the September 30th ending quarter, but I have no hopes for that story (which means it’ll probably be the one that finally breaks through, right?) — this was the one I had the hopes for, not that one.

It frustrates me beyond belief to be thought of as someone who didn’t do her homework; I always double-space my manuscripts, from the start, and when I got the print-out off the printer, I looked at it — I’d checked.  It printed out double-spaced fine, for me.   I still have the copy I printed out, for comparison; it is double-spaced throughout.

Mind, I believe I will place “Joey Maverick: On Westmount Station” quickly, so all is not lost. 

But for a writer who’s doing her damndest to be professional in all her dealings, stupid crap like this bugs me.  It truly does.   And the only good thing stuff like this does is to remind me to check the formatting four or five times in short stories, and perhaps wait on the story a day if I have that time; you can call this a hard-won insight if you’d like, though I’m still mad as Hell at myself for not seeing this when I sent it in.

Written by Barb Caffrey

November 12, 2010 at 7:23 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Hey Barb – it happens to the best of us. My very first wotf entry in fact. My printer botched the last two pages, thereby ommitting the ending of the story. It received an honorable mention. And it drove me insane for a week. What if it was better than an honorable mention but that’s all t hey could because the story was missing the ENDING. Got some new grey hair over that one. Never again. And yes I did check the printout page by page before I sent it — too bad I reveresed my file copy with my submission copy.

    So yes, I feel your pain.


    November 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    • Thanks, Dawn. I’m sorry this happened to you also. I’m wondering if I did the same thing — reverse _my_ copy for theirs, as the one I had was spaced properly (as it is my default solution for spacing — 12 point Times New Roman, double-spaced). I checked my print-out also and that’s why this was so frustrating — also, because it’s a story I finished up for Michael, I was carrying a bit of extra angst as I feel so strongly about Michael’s work staying alive and getting the best chance to be seen.

      To receive an honorable mention when your ending is missing — man. I’m with you that you may well have won the thing had they only _seen_ the ending. (Or at least been a published finalist.)

      All we can do is keep on trying. But some days are harder than others.

      Barb Caffrey

      November 14, 2010 at 4:44 am

  2. You did hear what happened when I first submitted Corruptor to the publisher, right?

    The formatting was so screwed up that it chopped everything to bits. She liked the first pages (prologue) but from there it was a complete wreck. She asked me to stop using the auto-format function on my computer (I didn’t know what that was at the time) and resubmit it.

    Thankfully she read it the day I sent it and contracted the thing. But it was still embarrassing, especially considering how often I had listened to Eric Flint complain about people who don’t format properly when submitting to the 163x stories…


    November 15, 2010 at 9:07 am

    • I had to go look for the whole “AutoFormat” thing, Jason — I’ve never used anything beyond Windows XP and that one, fortunately, is one I automatically turned right off. I am used to going in and setting things up manually because I’ve been using word processors for years; still, it’s possible that the computer glitched somehow and decided that I needed a different format on the print job and I just didn’t catch it.

      I’m sorry that happened to you and I agree that it is a cautionary tale. But I’m glad your publisher at Twilight Times Books asked for a re-submit and that you were able to figure out what happened there. (Were you using Vista, or had XP glitched on you?)

      As for Eric Flint, I haven’t heard/seen anything about people formatting things wrong for 163x (1632 and beyond) in years, though as I’ve rejoined the Bar I may, and soon. 😉 But I know that when I worked as editor for the Written Word, we had all sorts of formatting coming in. I would only throw it out when there were nonsensical characters or if it looked like they’d written it in HTML with no reason whatsoever for it, but I threw out stories if they were sent in anything besides RTF or .doc format. (Open Office I accepted, too, but I rarely got any of those at that point — this was all between 2007 and January of ’09.) I’d send ’em back to the contributor, though, and ask them to read the guidelines next time, which called for RTF or .doc format — actually, I’d usually ask Ace Masters, who owned the site, to do that (as he preferred to do that rather than me, though I sometimes communicated directly with writers, too).

      Barb Caffrey

      November 15, 2010 at 5:58 pm

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