This starts off with a good piece of news for me but it's not about me, so do persevere. I've just heard that Ellery Queen will be publishing my short, "A Death", my fourth in that magazine. I've always found the editors of EQMM very open-minded and receptive to new ideas, but I know a lot of people have problems with the magazine and its sister publication AHMM. So I'm interested to hear from other writers what their experiences have been.

EQMM has accepted one of my stories which was so left-field that our next port of call was going to be McSweeney's. They accepted another which included some very strong violence and a discussion of the relative merits of Eminem, The Beastie Boys and Vanilla Ice. None of the stories they've bought from me have been traditional mysteries. On the other hand, I will say that the one rule I've stuck to is avoiding bad language - this isn't usually a major part of my work so I haven't found it difficult.

But what experiences have you had? Or have you simply never submitted, never thought they'd consider your work, etc?

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I've only submitted one story to EQMM, and received a nice rejection letter for my trouble. I struck gold with my third submission to AHMM, and my only short to date ("Counting Coup") with them saw publication in their November, 2006 issue.

To be frank, I *love* the short story venue. Love it. I think more authors ought to spend more time both writing and attempting to master this form. However, I find that between my day gig, the (far-more-lucrative) non-fiction books on which I've been working over the past three years, and the historical mystery that I have been researching/drafting of late, the shorts have pretty much fallen by the way-side for me.

This is in part because the rate of return on the pay you receive forces me to prioritize them lower than the other work, which pays so much better. After all, the days when an author such as F. Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway could finance a whole half-year of work on a novel with a good-paying short story are long gone (and if you're wondering how their demise came about, the answer is that TV killed them).

All that said, I've got a sequel for "Counting Coup" on the drawing board, with a pretty good hook for an ending, so in my "spare time" I'll likely get it up and running and sent to Linda at AHMM before I chance to run into her at Bouchercon in September. After all, short stories are a lot of fun to write.

All the Best-

I agree Brian, for the fledgling author, writing stories is a good way of developing and those payments seem generous. Once you're established the payment isn't enough on its own. I write stories partly because of the pleasure (you're right on that, too - I think it energizes the rest of your writing) and partly because it helps you reach a wider audience.
Wasn't it Mark Twain who said, "If you want a novel, give me six weeks, if you want a novella, three months, but a short story will take me six months"? I might not have gotten that quote completely correct, but I think you get the idea. Shorts take a lot of work.

I can't help but wonder about the idea of using the same characters in both one's novels and one's short stories. After all, Hammett did it with the Continental Op (and less so with Spade), Chandler with Marlowe (cobbling together the content of several short stories into longer works, "cannibalizing" them, he called it), Christie with Poirot, and so on.

I don't really work that way (yet). The shorts I've done have been intended as shorts, and the characters I've used were intended for the short form: sharply drawn and quickly set so as to not get in the way of the narrative.

Your Mileage May Vary.
I got into AHMM on my first try, EQMM on my third. In both cases, I had a good feeling the story would be accepted because it seemed to fit within the magazine's guidelines, but also stray a bit. "Boy Inside the Man," for example, is barely 2000 words and judging from reader responses, has a very open ending to the point of confusion (though it seemed pretty straightforward to me, but I'm the writer, what do I know?) "Politics and Poker" is probably the most plot-driven story I've written and as a result, the structure plus the setting made me think it would work for AHMM. But up until then, none of the stuff I'd written was either good enough or a good fit for the magazines, so I never submitted them. And I've had a story rejected by AHMM since then - a good thing, in hindsight, because it didn't work.

I've not written a short story in quite a while - damn freelancing - but when I have something that pings that gut feeling, off it will go to Dell's offices. And even speaking as a former fiction editor who took online submissions, I like that they are old school. Hell, I really liked that I could hand-deliver my stories.
Speaking as a fan of your work since I read that potato story of yours back in Shred of Evidence, I can honestly say that I wish you would hurry the hell up and get prolific, Weinman.
Brian raises the point about using characters from your novels in short stories and vice versa. After writing "For the Dogs" I wanted to use Dan Borowski again (that book is partly based on The Nibelungenlied, Dan was the Dietrich character, who also went on to be the hero in several other works of literature - so it had a nice resonance). I got to use him in the end in "Retrospective", the story for which I was lucky enough to get shortlisted for the CWA Short Story Award. He's not even the main character in that story, but ironically, I was able to flesh out his character in the short story in a way I hadn't been able to do with the book.

I think this is often the case, that the smaller canvas allows greater depth. Short stories get a bad rep because it's so easy for people to write a weak one and send it out into the world, but writing a good one is tough, which is what that Mark Twain quote is about, I suppose. I certainly get as much, if not more, satisfaction from finishing a short I'm pleased with than I do from finishing a novel.


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