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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Some Good News!

 Just a short post to share my good news. I have made my second sale for the year - the first story, anyway. I sold an article to the NSW School Magazine a short time ago, on the subject of the Artemis program which will take us back to the moon, then Mars. That is very exciting too, and the issue is coming out in September, edited by the wonderful Geoffrey McSkimming, author of the Cairo Jim novels. It will be paid on publication, so a while to go still.

This sale is to the newest Ford Street Publishing anthology, Borderlands - Stories From The Edge. I have been lucky enough to have stories in the other three anthologies, and wanted to make sure this wouldn’t be the first time I got a rejection.

     These books are more or less aimed at schools. As a former English teacher I can tell you that they work well. There are stories in various subject areas - fantasy, crime fiction, etc. which gives teachers a choice. I used the books myself, as we had them in class sets. 

I am always asked for historical fiction. The first two stories were set in the 1960s, then the publisher, Paul Collins, asked me to write about bushrangers. So I wrote a story about the Eugowra gold robbery, which happened in 1862 and was witnessed by a 13 year old boy. Perfect for the planned readership! 

This time, Paul asked for a dual themed story. He wanted historical fiction again, so I offered a historical mystery. 

And this is where I really learned the idea of “kill your darlings”. My original idea was a story about Mark Twain’s visit to Melbourne in 1895. My hero was a boy who worked at the Atheneum Theatre, where Mark Twain gave a talk. The mystery solved was about a missing first edition book he had planned to give away as a prize after  the show. I wrote it…and rewrote it…and rewrote it… And it just didn’t work. Every time I rewrote it, I found something else wrong with it.

So, I dropped it, despite having an entire story I am never going to sell. A pity. I liked the idea, still like it, but it doesn’t work.

I wrote, instead, a story set fifty years after the Eugowra robbery. The young hero of the first story is now middle aged and is still telling his story at the pub, and people are buying him drinks, because there is a local legend that there is still some gold from the robbery hidden nearby by bushranger Frank Gardiner, who was exiled from Australia and went to live in the US. It’s based on an actual story that his American sons came back here to find the gold. It has been called a myth, but I like it. It’s seen from the viewpoint of another young hero. 

This story did work. It took me about four days to write, edit and submit it. It really does show the difference between a story that works and you enjoy writing and one you don’t. 

If you are a writer, have you had a similar experience?


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Congrats on the sale(s)! Very gratifying!

Hels said...

Well done!

Aiming books at schools is a blessed idea. That there are stories in various subject areas, be they fantasy, crime fiction etc, gives teachers a choice and expands the options for teens. As a concerned grandma, I know that getting them to read books is not easy at the moment.

AJ Blythe said...

Yay, Sue. Congratulations. It must be very gratifying to make it four for four.

Sue Bursztynski said...

Thanks, Debra! Always exciting to sell a story or article.

Thanks, Hels! These anthologies are great! Some of Australia’s top children’s and YA authors are in them. It is very useful for schools, though anyone can read it. I used to read stories from the first anthology with my classes. Ford Street Publishing is aimed at children and teens.

Thanks, Anita! I was very worried I wouldn’t make it this time and I think that would have happened if I had stuck with my original story. I figured if the story didn’t work for me, how could I expect Paul to like it? It was such a relief to get that acceptance email!

Sue Bursztynski said...

PS Anita, I can’t seem to access your web site, not sure why. Any link I click scrolls for a moment, then says it isn’t there.