For who will mourn the Outcast’s death?

I’m feeling like an Outcast today.

For those in the know (all two of you, if I’m lucky), the title is an excerpt from a poem I wrote years ago, entitled (imaginatively enough) The Outcast. And No, it’s not some pitiful cry for attention.

I’m feeling this way because of The Black Door. The Canberra Speculative Fiction Guild have put out a series of well-produced, high-quality anthologies over the last couple of years. The latest is Encounters, to which I submitted my woefully ill-fated story.

Now don’t get me wrong, I think The Black Door is an excellent story, it has strong characterisation, explores the main character’s past in reasonable detail, has squeamish, psychological elements, and ends on a discordant note of mystery and possibility. It is a little long (4300 words), I will grant that much, but other than that, I like the way it unfolds.

Despite a lazy day spent with Ange, I have taken time this evening to peruse a few other writers blogs from around Australia, as I am wont to do (always good to keep an eye on the competition). In this mini-roundup of writerly events in these people’s lives, I have come to understand that the majority of these people had stories accepted by the CSFG anthology.

Which makes me think, given the patchy output of these guys, and in some cases, a fairly unstellar list of publication credits, that either because of my outcastual status as an outsider, I’m finding it tough to break the inner circle, or else horror, even well-written horror, is a difficult sell in today’s SF field. Because of an incidental case of towering ego, I tend to believe the latter.

So in that case, with horror being a little hard to push in speculative fiction markets, it leaves me wondering whether I am aiming for the correct publications. I think my first broadside of submissions was sporadic at best with the targeting. I now realise my particular brand of genre writing needs a little more care in selling.

These sentiments have been confirmed by other neophites from the Southern Horror newsgroup.

So now, I am re-evaluating my markets. I have already crept into Borderlands, although they are not specifically horror. Dark Animus is next on my list. I already have Midnight on the Jetty with them, and am hopeful of its success, given the quality of some stories in DA issue 6.

There are some Australian zines I won’t even consider now – such as Fables & Reflections, ASIM (unless I come up with something quirky, like IAN again) and probably ORB. I was also going to submit something to the Superliminal anthology, but again, the emphasis there is Science Fiction, and my current range of stories couldn’t be considered very Sci-Fi-y.

In this vein, I have subbed Firewall v1.1 to the Chizine short story comp, worth a prize and publication if I place 1st to 3rd. Chizine (Chiaroscuro mag) is a US prozine I’m keen to crack. Firewall was (and still is) with Ticonderoga Online, but they haven’t answered any of my queries in weeks, so I can only presume they are not interested, or else consumed with other things. Again, Ticonderoga, while they have given me some great feedback on Firewall previously, is a market I seem reasonably unsuited for. I don’t think I’m suitably ‘gonzo’ enough, but with some quirky stories on the horizon, who knows?