Rejection? I’ve Got Your Rejection, Right Here

Rejection at any level sucks, right?

You see someone you’re attracted to and ask them out, and you get the thanks but no thanks response. You interview for your dream job, and they go with someone else. You raise your hand to give a high five and you’re left hanging. All of it sucks. But the kind of rejection I’m talking about has to do with writing.

Your writing.

Your creation.

Your soul.

We, as writers, are an odd flock. I mean, surely you’ve realized that by now. And if you haven’t, you will. There is no denying it. No other vocation requires people to spend hour upon hour in solitary confinement locked away inside their heads, their own worlds, talking with people who don’t exist anywhere else but on paper.

Dutifully, we pound out words and sentences to bring these people, places, and things alive. We agonize with our characters, don’t we? We feel them at the worst and champion them at their best. At times, we will them to make decisions, but once fully evolved, they have minds of their own, becoming unwieldy bits of bothersome fodder to our tale. (It is magic, by the way, when that happens)

For some writers, it is enough to begin writing.

For others, it is enough to finish the first short story.

And others still it is enough to finish their first novel.

But for others, there is a need to be published, to let the world judge their work.

And it’s to the last group, I’m speaking. Writing is incredibly personal. Why? Because it’s flecks of ourselves, our pain, love, hopes, dreams sprinkled across the page for everyone to see. It’s a glimpse into our innermost secrets, the locked inner chambers of our minds and hearts.

And that’s why it hurts in a very personal way when we have our writing criticized and rejected. It matters not if it comes from our fellow contemporaries, our writers in arms, the ones who are supposed to be helping us improve and grow as writers. It hurts, even more, when our writing is rejected by the insurmountable wall of the publishing industry.

It is important to realize how brave we are as writers. It took a lot to bleed on the page for the sake of our art, to agonize over the wording, the tone, and mastering the proper voice. It took even more courage to submit a story to a publication with the hope we would earn the right to appear in print.

Some writers might say, “Oh, that’s such a shame.”

Others might say, “Tough tittie, deal with it.”

I’m kind of in the middle. I’ve been on the receiving end of brutal rejections, which stung for quite a while. I have amassed quite an impressive array of rejection letters from magazines, journals, anthologies, agents, and publishers alike. If you’ve been wading through the trenches of fiction publishing, I’m sure you have too
The important lesson learned–and it’s a hard one to swallow–is rejection is part of the writer’s growth. It truly is.

Think of the rejection as the publication saying right now, at this point in time, with this story, in this shape, the answer is no. It doesn’t mean you can’t write. It doesn’t mean the story sucks. It means, right now, it’s a no. So, leave the story to simmer, go back over it with a fine-toothed comb and submit it again.

The first rejection is always the hardest. For me, it took me about a week to get back to it. The writing I mean. Submitting again took me a little longer. But it became a rallying point. Other writers get rejected. Everyone does. It’s part of the game.

I’m incredibly stubborn. Ask anyone who knows me. I have Scottish, Irish, and German blood running through my veins. The only person more stubborn than me is my mother, the daughter of a U.S. Army Colonel. I didn’t let it deter me. When the rejection came in, I took it to heart and buckled down. It drove me to write better and to come up with better ideas. I began to read books on writing and incorporate things to improve. I read about how to better focus my query letter and how to word it so they would have a hard time saying no.

I began to submit more pieces, and although I received even more rejections, they didn’t sting as much, and I started to wear each one as a rite of passage.

Don’t let rejections get in the way of what you love.

So, join me. Wear your scars proudly and keep writing and keep submitting. The acceptances will start coming.

Never stop.

And always remember to write ON!

Being a writer isn’t about trying to win

Being a writer isn’t about trying to win.

So why do so many writers act like it is, guarding their experiences, both good and bad, like they are state secrets? Or worse yet, piling on unwarranted criticism on fledgling writers trying to find their ‘writer legs’.

Whether I’m editing a piece for a client or a friend, I’m always encouraging. Writing is a very solitary volition, hours invested in discovering the proper voice for the piece, getting the dialog to crackle, and bringing the setting alive with engaging characters. All of us, no matter how vast our publishing history is, need some kind of validation, whether from a friend’s comments after giving it a read or a family member. But nothing compares to those comments from contemporaries, the other solitary souls wringing out their fears and dreams within the pages of their manuscript just like we are.

Think about it.

When you were growing up and your mom and dad said you’d done well on a test or in a game, it didn’t mean the same as hearing those things from a teacher, a student or a fellow teammate or coach. Those people toiling with you day in and day out knew what it took to produce on the field and in the classroom. They were there with you in the trenches.

It’s the same for writers.

Hearing your mom say what you’ve written is the greatest thing ever, is not the same as a fellow writer saying those same words, particularly if they have some publishing credits to their name.

All of us, who take up the pen to pour ourselves on the page, should help each other. There is nothing more rewarding then helping a fellow author by leaving a review, editing a piece, or providing encouragement.

Doesn’t take much.

A few words.

A few minutes.

It can mean the world to a struggling author.




Help Please!

I’m writing the fourth book in my middle-grade mystery series ‘Mad Maggie Dupree’ and need help with a title.

Maggie Dupree lives on the grounds of the Sillwater Psychiatric Hospital. Her dad is the new hospital administrator. She and her family had to move and live on the grounds as part of her dad’s new job.

While placing coins on the railroad tracks, waiting for the train to run over them, pushing them flat, Maggie and her friends stumble across a homeless man living in a nearby abandoned box car.  When they try to follow him, they find a $50.00 bill scattered by the railroad tracks. Following him into a dilapidated supply tunnel, they find a necklace that looks like the same kind a mean spirited carny at the Darke County Fair had worn a few nights before along with empty money bags from the Stillwater Bank.

As they begin to investigate, an odd looking young boy starts to appear at random times. Always wearing the same brown striped shirt, his face pale but marred by dark smudges, he never speaks, only watching them.

Ideas on a title?


Writing a Series

I’ve written a number of series and each one has tugged at my heart in different ways. I’m currently working on the fourth book in the Mad Maggie Dupree series. The first two books are under contract with Clean Reads Publishing. The first book was released June 26th of this year. The second, entitled ‘Mad Maggie Dupree and The Wood Witch’ will be out October 30th, 2018. The third book, ‘Mad Maggie and the Lost Gifts’ was just submitted with Clean Reads.

I’ve written a number of posts about my writing technique. I’m definitely not a plotter nor a planner, so it’s been interesting keeping things moving forward from book to book keeping them connected.

I keep notes on each book and combine them into one word document to keep names, places, dates, and occurrences straight as I’m writing. It’s been a lifesaver.

How do others handle writing series?

Mad Maggie and the Lost Gifts

I’m currently editing the third book in the Mad Maggie Dupree series. Right now, it’s title is Mad Maggie Dupree and the Lost Gifts, but it might change as I go through the manuscript. The title has already changed twice, so it might very well change a third time.

Unlike the first two books (Mad Maggie Dupree and Mad Maggie Dupree and the Wood Witch) which already had titles even before I finished the rough draft, the third book is being a little ornery. It’s not that I haven’t liked the working titles I’ve used (Mad Maggie Dupree and the Forgotten, Mad Maggie Dupree and the Dark Spirits) it’s just it doesn’t feel quite right.

Once I finish the editing pass, and a get the internal voices to agree on the title, I’ll submit it to Clean Reads and hope they pick it up to continue Mad Maggie’s adventures.

Bats in the Belfry



David J. Gibbs

@Copyright 2014




It wasn’t something she liked to talk about, certainly not at her advanced age. They would send her to the loony bin for sure. And that brat Andrew would smile, as he wheeled her in. No she wouldn’t let that happen. But, there was no denying that something was happening. And it was something that she couldn’t readily explain away or even control.

Ida had been born just south of the 20th century mark and witnessed war swallow the known world twice over. She had witnessed a level of poor she had once thought impossible and had endured hunger leaving her too weak to move. She had witnessed three assassination attempts of presidents, two of which were successful. She remembered being a little girl and the world stopping as the Titanic took a nose dive to the depths. Ida remembered being scared when the astronauts died on the launching pad in that terrible fire and then just a few short years later, being so excited when Neil Armstrong took his giant leap for all mankind.

She could recall all of it, but somehow the more time that passed the less real it seemed. It was as if she became more and more removed from it each time she thought about those things. There were even times when she almost questioned whether it had happened or not. And still other times when she felt the things around her were whisper thin. It was almost as if she could push her hand through the lamp on the end table or her book would fall to the floor, her hands suddenly unable to grasp it. And it was that in part which made her start to begin wondering about how fragile a state of mind could be.

Could there be too much whispering?

When she had been a young girl, she remembered her Aunt Lottie and how her parents had whispered about the aged woman behind her back. They would constantly talk about how they didn’t think she was safe by herself out on the farm being so far away from neighbors and doctors. It was the same small farm Lottie had been born on, and the same one both of her parents were buried on, but that didn’t matter when there were bats in the belfry.

Thankfully, Ida had been quiet about those certain little things and so no one was the wiser. Well no one, save herself. And she wasn’t foolish enough to think that she would be able to outlast the darkness she knew to be coming. But for now, she was in control.

She could still cook a meal and not be too worried she would burn the house down. Honestly though, if it did burn down, as long she was in it, she didn’t care. It was hers, bought and paid for, well before Lyndon had made his appearance in the White House, and it would remain hers, until she was no more. Yes, and then Andrew could gut it or sell it or do whatever he damn well pleased with it.

Ida looked up at the small framed picture of her late husband Edward, or Eddie, as she had fondly called him. In the picture he sat on an old wooden barrel beside a split rail fence, one foot resting on another smaller barrel, both arms crossed on one of his knees. He clutched a worn cowboy hat in his hand and had a wry smile crossing his face. She’d always wished he would’ve waited for her to sit down on the barrel beside him before the photographer had taken the picture, but he was in too much of a hurry.

Smiling, she turned on the gas for the stove and then lit it with a diamond tip kitchen match. Andrew always insisted on having her use one of those butane lighting sticks, but she thought they were unsafe. As the blue ring of flame danced around the burner, she shook the match out and then put the kettle of water on it.

The wind always tended to catch the south corner of the house and whisper through almost constantly. The incessant handfuls of sand that were wrought with the wind’s venom had worn the wooden shingles along that part of the house to an almost impossible smoothness. The whispers were music to her ears and she longed for more of it each and every day.

She knew that Andrew had never liked it on The Point while growing up. He had hated the sand and the wind, but mostly he had hated the isolation. He had hated her and his father for keeping him in such a place. As if they were punishing him for something he had done. It had so little to do with him that he probably wouldn’t understand even if she tried to explain it to him.

It was more than a little frustrating that a place that had always held an allure to her couldn’t be understood by her own son. The thrill she felt each time the sun fell to the sea’s edge and spilled color across the sky. The way she felt when she watched the lightning crash to the sea, the flickering light show making the sea spark and the clouds glow. The ebb and flow of the tides each and every day and the way the sea would take away sand in one storm season only to deposit three times as much sand the following season. It was all something wonderful to her. It was as if each day was a secret slideshow for her and her alone.

Ida breathed with this place.

It was her air.

It was her.

She knew that she was but a fraction of the person she had been thirty, forty, fifty years earlier but she was still more than able to take care of herself. God she hated when one of the snooty visiting nurses would say things like ‘hey you’re really with it’ to her. The typical comments that might seem like compliments by the person saying them were always like quiet daggers in a dark room. ‘No bats in the belfry’. ‘No rust upstairs with this one’. ‘Oh you seem sharp as a tack darlin’. She’d like to show her a tack a time or two as much poking and prodding the nurses did all over her. Ida never understood how if her hands or elbows ached why they needed to check her feet or listen to her heart.

She had always had nervous hands. A smile burrowed across the weathered landscape of her face as she thought of Eddie again. He had always asked her if she had ants in her pants because of the way she would tug at the hems of her dresses or pick at her fingers. She had been so embarrassed when he commented on it, that first night at the mixer. He’d been dead almost thirty years now, but she could feel him with her every step of the way, even more so lately it seemed. It was odd how many voices she heard on that same wind each night. His was one of them.

Her hands kneaded themselves atop each other as if they were somehow separate beings from her body, moving atop her quilted throw which covered her legs. Even they couldn’t keep her from thinking the thoughts that kept her company on days like this. Actually more and more lately, it wasn’t just days like this. It was almost every day.

The days no longer held much difference to them. They were becoming more and more, one long strange voyage, through which she walked. She didn’t go anywhere and had very few visitors. She spent long hours just sitting on her porch and watching the tides as they would come in and then softly shuffle out just as easily and was more than content.

She hated when her son came to visit, because he was only interested in where she had her money and what she planned to do with it and oh yeah by the way did you forget to sign the power of attorney forms and did you finalize the updated last will and testament?  If she had her way, she’d leave it all to the damned seagulls that cried across her small finger of beach.

She knew Andrew was going to sell it all when he had the chance. Developers had been after her eleven acres of The Point, for as long as she could remember, always raising their price to something they felt she couldn’t possible refuse. Ida never failed to surprise them. Oh sure, she’d listen to them. Her mother raised her to be polite. But once they were done with their folding easels and big glossy pictures and gave her the bottom line, she always politely thanked them for their interest and then showed them the door.

She heard a car door shut and knew the nurse was about to make an appearance. It was Thursday, so that would mean it was Mary Jane that would be coming through the door. The woman was one of the more pleasant ones that the service sent out.

A large smiling woman dressed in white stepped through the door and said, “Well good morning Ms. Ida. I brought you the paper from your stoop.”

“Morning,” Ida said, resting her elbows on the arms of her chair, her eyes looking out at the ocean. “Thank you.”

“You’re looking well this morning. Did you eat anything yet?”

“I had something earlier. Was just waiting on the kettle to warm up for some tea.”

Mary Jane nodded her head and said, “I’ll just tidy up a little bit and then we can do your blood pressure and other things while you drink you tea. How about that?”

The question came in a voice that sounded like the woman was talking to a toddler. Ida nodded, hoping that the conversation would end so that Mary Jane could finish up quicker and get out of the house faster.

“My goodness but that wind is sure whipping out there. ‘Bout blew me off the bridge coming across to see you today,” Mary Jane said, as she went into the other room. The sounds of her putting things away could be heard, as Ida continued to stare out the window. The sunlight was making the small ripples sparkle. She loved when that happened. Mary Jane was right the wind was definitely talking plenty outside.

Just then, she heard footsteps coming up to the porch and for a minute and Ida wondered if Mary Jane had brought some help. But that thought quickly went to the wayside, as she suddenly recognized the footfalls. She heard the spring creaking as the storm door opened to the screened in porch. Ida heard him dutifully wiping his feet on the small worn welcome mat. She knew it was Eddie coming up the steps. She knew it for certain in her heart. She had heard him follow the same routine hundreds of times before.

It was him.

Mary Jane’s humming came to her as Ida waited for the doorknob to turn and her Eddie to walk through the door. He hadn’t turned that doorknob in three decades and although part of her knew he couldn’t be there, another part of her that had been listening to the whispering wind all this time, knew he was there none the less.

Her heart shuddered with that sweet ache, as the doorknob turned and she watched Eddie step into the room. He was so handsome, always had been. She’d oftentimes wondered how she managed to hold onto someone with such dashing good looks. Ida knew she was no looker. She was a Plain Jane if there ever was one. Her sister Marie had always had the boys fawning over her, but not Ida. Not until Eddie walked into her life that is.

“Hey there Peaches,” he said, his voice hinting at laughter just below the surface. He tossed his worn hat onto the table beside her. She loved when he called her Peaches. It was his pet name for her.

She could only smile.

“What do you say we take a walk?  Weather’s nice and the water looks beautiful. It always is this time of year. We shouldn’t waste the day now should we?”

She could only nod, as she reached for his outstretched hand. It was so warm, and rough from labor, just as it always had been. They left together side by side and stepped down from the screened in porch. The pair headed for the sparkles in the water.

“I’ve missed you,” she said, her voice almost a whisper.

“Well I’m right here. No reason to miss me now when I’m right here with you Peaches.”

They stumbled down over the rise of the dune and she could feel the water kiss her toes. Her one hand pulled her dress up so it wouldn’t get too wet, while her other held on to Eddie’s hand for dear life. The wind still talked to them as they walked through the shallow water near the shore. They walked through the shimmering water that glittered with the sunlight. The sun warmed water teased her feet as they walked together. Lost upon the pair, the wind continued to lash out across the sandy expanse of beach with even more strength.


“I can’t believe the wind finally died down,” Mary Jane said a little loudly from the other room, so that Ida could hear it.

She grouped the magazines together neatly and tucked them into the side pocket of the Lay-z-Boy chair by the television before trying again, “Miss Ida that wind finally gave up I think.”

She walked into the small sunroom just inside the screened in porch. It was Miss Ida’s favorite spot in the house. Mary Jane saw her sitting in the chair, her cane with four rubber feet stood dutifully at her side.

“Miss Ida?” she asked, with no response.

It was eerily quiet with the wind completely gone. Mary Jane had never known The Point to be this quiet. It was always windy, always.

As she moved closer, she heard a few drops of water tap against the floor. She knew that Miss Ida was prone to fall asleep and reached out to gently rouse her, when she saw the water dripping from her bare feet. The bottom few inches of her nightgown were wet as well.

At first she thought Miss Ida may have had an accident, but she knew that wasn’t the case almost immediately. She could smell the salt water. But that wasn’t what chilled her to the core. First was the weathered hat on the table. She knew it wasn’t there when she had come in just a few minutes earlier. The second was the wet sandy footprints that came in from the screened in porch.

There were two sets of them.

She picked up the phone and dialed Andrew’s number. As she waited for him to answer, Mary Jane looked up at the framed picture on the wall. In it, Ida was leaning against Eddie’s shoulder and they were sitting on two old wooden barrels. Her arm was tucked inside of his, and his large hands held a heavy saw. There was something that struck her about the photograph, but she couldn’t say exactly why. Something about it seemed different.

And then, the wind finally mercifully began to pick up again, whispering around the edges of the house.

Rejection and the Delayed Ice Pick to the Heart

I’m not going to lie. Being a writer is a singular experience. It’s one of the most redeeming things I’ve ever done. Creating something out of nothing and coming up with an engaging piece with memorable characters is incredible.

That’s the good side of it.

The other side of that coin is part of being a writer is putting up with a lot of crap.

Now, I’m not one of those whiny writers who think they’ve written the greatest work of fiction the planet has ever known and I’m also not the type to gripe about being rejected. I’ve posted on my blog before about rejection and how it’s part of the growth of a writer. No one will ever have a 100% placement rate. It’s impossible. Okay, okay, so the writer who self-publishes or submits to a free webzine might experience a 100% acceptance rate, but for the paying market it’s just not going to happen.

Which brings me to my next point.

Part of being a writer is also being treating submissions and publisher queries like a business. Keeping track of what manuscript was sent where and the associated feedback to help improve it for the next publication or agent is time consuming but necessary. You never want to send the same query to the same agent multiple times after they’ve rejected your piece.

It’s amateurish.

While tracking submissions, most publications will have a line or two in their guidelines that state something like “If you haven’t heard from us after four weeks, assume we’re not interested. This does not shine on your skill as a writer but rather that the piece doesn’t meet our needs at this time.” Every writer on the planet has read something along those lines.

Well, I submitted my short story ‘Devil’s Acre’ to a particular publication that had something similar above and after four weeks I marked it as ‘Did Not Respond’ and went on to submit it to other publications. Those kind of submissions are essentially rejections without the in your face, direct narrative in their reply.

Fast forward nineteen months. I received a rejection letter from the same publication for my story. Not five months, which would be a month beyond their stated guidelines, but an entire year and a half beyond it.

At that point, why bother sending anything to the authors?

Like I said, delayed ice pick to the heart.


After it gets picked up by another publication, do you think I should send something five years after the date I submitted it to them telling them it was picked up. Do you think they’d be as confused as I was receiving their rejection letter?

Smile and keep writing!


There are Superheroes Among Us

Who doesn’t love a good superhero movie? The idea of having super strength, super speed, invisibility, or my personal favorite, the ability to fly, all sound incredible don’t they? Who wouldn’t want to have a super power?

Well, I’ve got news for you. If you’ve ever put words to paper, you are a superhero. Just think about it for a minute. You create people, places and things and make them do any number of things. You control their words, interactions, actions, reactions, mistakes, successes and their emotions, consequences, punishments or rewards. If that isn’t a superpower, I don’t know what is.



You have the ultimate superpower. Your only limitation? Your imagination.

So, pick up those pens and go forth into the ether and create that world where pavement can be spread across the ground like a sheet and be a superhero.

You don’t need a cape.




Dead of Winter

It’s always so rewarding when a writer gets his acceptance letter from a publication. After so many rejections, to have one publisher see something in the writer’s work, it’s a stamp of approval that yes, all your effort and your work has merit.

What makes it even nicer is when a publisher continues to promote the book and do everything in their power to sell copies. Mighty Quill Books continues to push the anthology entitled Dead of Winter a year after it’s publication date. They continue to spend money on advertising (I see the Amazon ads frequently to the side as I’m browsing) and they have offered two new covers to garner interest and renew sales.

This is the latest cover they just released yesterday and it’s bolstered sales already. DeadofWinter_NewSmall.jpg

If you’re interested, my story ‘Spotlight’ is featured alongside some pretty amazing authors and some great stories. My piece is about the true reason we started celebrating Thanksgiving. Let’s just say it’s not for the reasons we’ve all been led to believe.

In closing, I’d just like to say it’s refreshing to see a publisher take such interest in making a publication so successful. Kudos to Mighty Quill books!

Happy reading and for those fellow authors out there, happy writing!