Category Archives: Stories

SuperStars Writing Seminars: A Week of Unlearning

I didn’t figure out I was at SuperStars–not to learn, but to unlearn–until the morning of the second day. Sawing through an English muffin that I expected to have the consistency of a pumice stone, and eyeing the leathery ham under my eggs—I did not expect my eggs Benedict to meet the expectations James A. Owen had stoked. There were also potatoes that looked like usual hotel potatoes. I expected them to be as exciting as stale French fries—because that’s usually how hotel potatoes taste—like potatoes that could have been average, except they’ve sat under a heat lamp all morning and now they’ve become a thing to avoid, or face the wrath of reeking potato breath.

But I wanted to like it. For the first time someone had set me up to want to like something I was pretty sure I wouldn’t. See, James told us the story about the best eggs Benedict he’d ever eaten. How the waiter had sold him the meal by telling him it was the house specialty. How the chef baked a batch of English muffins every fifteen minutes, just so the bread would be fresh. How he raised the chickens and gathered the eggs just that morning. How the chef named the pig. How the chef used a family recipe that had been passed down for generations…yada, yada, yada. Passed down recipes? He had me. I’m in.

I tried the potatoes first. They were not stale, in fact, they were delicious—and I’m picky about potatoes. I ate two more and eyed the eggs Benedict, still unsure.

Eventually I hacked at the muffin again once the sauce had loosened the pumice-like bread. I released my earlier hunch that I’d be let down and lowered the barriers to allow for the possibility of a good experience.

Damn. I liked it. It was the best eggs Benedict I’d ever had. Pay no attention to the fact that this was the first eggs Benedict I’d ever had. Pay attention to the fact I hate ham, but was happily eating it as part of my meal anyway. I’m not crazy about poached eggs, but I’m pretty sure I chased around every last bite and swabbed my potatoes around the plate to be sure I got all the yoke. Yeah, it wasn’t the same eggs James had talked about in his story, but my brain didn’t care.

Thankfully I snapped a picture of my life changing Eggs Benedict. Actually, honestly, my first thought was boobs. After spending the week before with Meghan, that's all I could think about. Or, seriously, it does kinda look like a plate of boobs.

Thankfully I snapped a picture of my life-changing eggs Benedict. Actually, honestly, my first thought was boobs. After spending the week before with Meghan, that’s all I could think about. Or, seriously, it does kinda look like a plate of boobs. Delicious, tasty boobs.

James pointed out that he didn’t tell me he hoped we’d like it, or that he’d tried to instruct the staff to recreate it, but was limited to the resources at hand. Or that it wasn’t his best and he wished he had something better for us—any writers find these excuses familiar?

He’d set my expectations high even though it was possible I’d have reservations. He didn’t ask me if I had a ham aversion. He did pull my plate away because it didn’t have paprika like he’d promised it would. The hotel staff remade the eggs for us because they wanted them to be perfect after they’d heard the talk (we found out later we were the only group who had their entire meal re-made—so this was not a gimmick).

This was a lesson in positive psychology that I’d forgotten I knew. Instead I’d allowed myself to fall into the trap to expect less and be pleasantly surprised when I was given something more. I’d even done it with the breakfast. When I found out what eggs Benedict actually were, I thought, “crap, I’m going to hate it.” Then I was subjected to a talk about how I was going to love them. He set me up by making me want to love it, just by telling me the lengths the chef in his story had gone to make it great for me. And it changed the way I viewed it. Instead of focusing on the negative of the meal, eventually with each bite I only saw the positive.

As writers we’re taught to never say we love our work out loud. That we’re to remain humble and let others do the praising. Otherwise it looks like we’re boasting or too confident. Plus, if we set up expectations that a story is going to be awesome and it doesn’t meet that expectation we’ll be left looking foolish. Also not to confuse boasting with comparing or telling someone “my work is better than ____’s work” that’s called being a jerk and not the same thing. I think writers confuse the advice and somewhere along the way it became more common to downplay, even tear apart other’s or our own talent publicly.

I’m naturally a positive person. I don’t like to focus on the negative for too long or I think I’ll shrivel up and spiral into depression. Writing is a difficult profession to avoid negativity. Daily rejections? Critiques? Reviews? Other jealous writers? The field is seeded with land mines of negativity. I’m full of positivity and when I realized the status quo is humility, I quickly shut up about my accomplishments and funneled all that energy into my friends’ work. When I come across writers I love who write stories I love, I become the biggest cheerleader for them. But never for myself. And when I hear them retelling the awesome way I got here, I do my part to downplay, to be humble, to shift focus. Because I don’t want to be a jerk, or set expectations too high.

While I ate my eggs Benedict and made “do not cry” “do not cry” my mantra for the rest of the weekend, I realized I was not there to learn or to continually mess up my mascara with the influx of overwhelming emotion. I’d heard every one of those lectures before. I’d probably heard most of them twice. I was at SuperStars to unlearn in the best way possible. I already feel like the stronger writer I was meant to be all along.

I’m a huge fan of unlearning. After I was diagnosed with dyslexia, I had to unlearn what I’d been taught and re-learn in a way that fit how my brain would process information more accurately. After I suffered extensive nerve damage and was paralyzed, I had to unlearn the way my muscles were taught to move and re-learn how to walk. And when my son was diagnosed with a medical condition, I had to unlearn that I’d done something to cause it, or that I could find some “natural” way to make him better, but accept and relearn to trust the medical professionals to fix the problem and prevent excessive hospital visits.

Every time I was not told I could do it, or that it was even possible. I had to grasp at my own belief that it could be done. If you think something isn’t possible then it isn’t. If you believe you’ve reached the top then you’ll never go any further. There is always, always an opportunity for improvement, even a very small one. Maybe not in the way you think, but some other way. Raise the bar.

This was exactly the best message to receive right now. For me, it was perfect. Actually, I guess I can tell the real story now. I didn’t ever sign up for the eggs Benedict. Around December I got a message from Nancy Greene (one of the SuperStars coordinators) telling me I’d gotten in. It was already booked up and people were waiting at the gate for an open seat. I checked with her several times to be sure there wasn’t a mistake. I didn’t sign up for it. I was sure. Because at the time I signed up I didn’t want to spend too much money, so I didn’t sign up for any of the “extras.” Nope, she said, no mistake. Before I would have given the spot to someone else (actually I was still considering doing that all up until that morning), but lately, since my parents house burned down and last week I’d just come back from a week of taking care of Meghan after her mastectomy—I’d learned to not ignore the universe telling me I needed to pay attention to something.

Should writers bother to go to SuperStars? What if the writer all ready knows it all? What if the workshop is a waste of money? Sure, that’s fair to ask. Since everyone always wants to know what’s at this workshop for them I’ll give a run down of options and reasons writers should go.

If you’re new to the business side of writing, go to SuperStars to learn about the basics: secrets of the writing world (copyediting mistakes to avoid, how to not be a jerk), how to be successful at a Con, what editors are looking for, common traps to avoid.

If you’ve been around for a while and been actively involved by sending stories out consistently, or shopping for an agent then go for the intermediate information: negotiating contracts, IP/trademark/copyright law, how to read a contract, what to ask for in a movie option or how to make money in Hollywood, what to look for in an agent or editor; do you even need one? How about an entire weekend of helping you weigh the options of traditional publishing vs. self or indie publishing? They’ll have that, too.

But if you feel jaded and/or depressed–maybe you’ve done it all and have nowhere to go except to continue to sell and convince people you’re here in the business to stay either until you die or they take out a restraining order on you–then go for the unlearning past negative thinking. Go for the positive energy. Go for the unexplainable feeling that you finally feel like you’ve found home carved from a rock in the middle of a desert, where there is an amazing supply of fresh water and food.

Feed your writing soul. Go to SuperStars. Seriously, just go. If not for the best eggs Benedict you’ll ever have, or the endless inside jokes on purple unicorn, then go because they’ve got people waiting to initiate you into the tribe. If you’ve been looking for a place to feel you belong, then stop. I found it for you.

I love comments! For every comment you leave a writer will think a positive thought, unlearn negative ones, and find their tribe.

As a side note, someone in the SuperStars Writing Seminar Facebook group posted this great video on positive psychology and how people can use it to start being happier and healthier. It reminded me a lot of how I felt after the 100 Days of Good Karma project Meghan and I did (which was really a 100 plus days of posting the positive messages we’d learned each day). I think since then I’ve viewed the world in a more positive light.

Things Fall Apart

There are days where things fall apart. I work hard to make something work only to get multiple signs from all angles that maybe I should let it go. I’ve had this happen a number of times.

For example:

Busting my buns to get to a play date, despite a broken down car, bad directions, and fussing baby who’s missed a nap—then when I arrive the kid we’re set to play with is super sick with chicken pox or something equally annoying. Yes, that’s something I’d like to know before agreeing to a play date, thanks.


Doing everything I could to get a job promotion, despite failed hard drives putting together the paperwork, shady interactions with potential bosses, and staining my dress shirt right before the interview. Then when I get the job, find out it’s for less pay and more hours. Not exactly the promotion it was advertised to be.

In either case, the universe is trying to warn me against something and I’m so determined that these are just hoops to test my strength (sometimes they are), but a lot of the time it’s exactly what it is: a huge blinking caution sign.

I ran up against one of these caution signs this weekend. I absolutely can’t believe I’m going to blog about shoes, but here it goes.

When I had my son about seven years ago, I had some major nerve damage. Long story short, I had to do several months of physical therapy to re-learn how to walk (I had the ability to stand, but the signals to pick up my legs and set them back down was not activating). Maybe someday I’ll blog about it, but not today. (A year later I had to do another year of PT, for a re-occurrence of the same problem—again another blog post). During the course of the PT, my physical therapist explained that I should wear a certain type of shoe for my safety. I just don’t have the same muscle control as I did before in my legs. And I could never really walk in a heel to begin with . So I need shoes with tons of grip, wider bottom for stability, and preferably something that supports around the heel, so I don’t have to fight for balance (not a slip on, not a flip-flop, not a pump).

I got rid of my worst offenders (Good-bye Dansko). I figured I’d get by and cheat with the rest. I wore my dress shoes so infrequently, I figured I’d walk carefully and slowly and make it work.

I was born without the girl shoe obsession gene. I don’t really like to shop, especially for shoes.

Then this last year, my black dress shoes stopped cutting it. The leather has become so stretched out; it’s hard to wear. So I thought rather than buy new shoes, I’d use my Eddie Bauer gift card and buy a new dress and a new skirt. I only owned one dress before and no skirts. I swapped out my black shoes and thought I should start wearing my brown dress shoes instead. My daughter begged me to wear my new skirt around town and I did.

The black shoes are too stretched out and I’m sliding around in them. The foot bed of my sandals (which are fifteen years old) are crumbling and falling apart between my toes. And I thought I was being smart to save money by re-discovering my brown shoes, but they fell apart while I was walking around the house. No, really. They LITERALLY fell apart. I’m not mis-using the word literally. I’m not creating a hyperbole. Here is a photo of my brown Clarks shoes:

I was just walking and the rubber started crumbling

I was just walking and the rubber started crumbling. My husband is holding the shoes in these photos (in case you’re creeped out by my incredibly manly hands 🙂


Here is an angle where you can see a string of hair. Excuse me while I go sweep the floor again...

Here is an angle where you can see a string of hair. Excuse me while I go sweep the floor again…


So you can see, for once, I’m not exaggerating.

Things fall apart. Stories I’ve spent months perfecting don’t sell, despite the personal rejections piling up. Plotlines lose their logic and stop making sense, the kids get sick when I have a deadline, and I settle for last minute get-togethers with friends than the planned out parties we used to throw. It’s like I’m duck tapping a plastic chair together that is not safe to sit in anyway, or scrambling to keep a paper tablecloth from blowing away in the wind. Maybe I need a new chair. Maybe the table underneath is fine. Maybe that story that won’t sell is not my best and I have to dig deeper.

I’m pretty sure the universe is trying to tell me to let the world crumble a bit. And then search the remains, because something interesting/more beneficial/more healthy always comes out of the pieces. Instead of holding on to the old things around me (keeping status quo), it’s time to take action. It’s time to go the directions I’m being pointed toward.

And it’s time to buy a new pair of shoes.

We love comments! Every time you leave a comment something someone tried to make work that didn’t will turn out to be better than originally planned.



The Day I Was Accidentally Racist

UPDATE: Another friend has joined us in our humiliation. Rebecca Birch bravely has shared her story about The Day She Was Accidentally Religiously Offensive. 

My friend Andrea Stewart just wrote this amazing blog post titled: The Day I Was Accidentally Sexist and before you read my story you should probably read hers and get some context for why I’m sharing my story. I thought it was extremely brave of her to tell this story (even though she was totally not being sexist and it was an innocent mistake–which I believe because she is my friend and I refuse the idea she was sexist for that one innocent moment). I’ve forever wanted to write about a similar experience and I’ve never had the courage, because I was so very afraid of being judged.

First of all, I believe we all have these moments that we wish we could take back, do differently, or just spend the extra second to observe a little closer before speaking or acting. And here’s mine:

It was my second year of college and my boyfriend (now husband) and I met after a class. When I found him, he was talking with a friend of ours who was on exchange from Africa getting an Agriculture degree. We were all hungry and decided to go to a restaurant downtown and chat some more. He was interested in talking with us about our experiences on growing up in agriculture families. We decided on a Chinese food restaurant–of which I’m an addict.

We sat at our table immersed in a nice meandering conversation where I mostly quizzed my friend on Africa. I’d never been outside of about a two-hundren mile radius at the time and Africa was on my bucket list, a place I’d fantasized about as a child. Aside from the water we got when we first sat down, our waitress hadn’t returned. It had now been a while and we’d not given our orders. Noticing this, I gathered up our menus and set them on the edge of the table as a hint.

We continued talking, at this point I was more interested in the conversation to care about the service just yet. When I ran out of water I set my cup to the side, hoping it would be noticed and refilled. I worked in a restaurant when I was in high school and I remembered how hard it was sometimes to know if someone wanted to be bothered. I loved it when the cup was easy to access.

More conversation and still no hint of service. All our glasses were drained now and I was fiddling with my backpack wondering if it would be rude to pull out a snack. I have a poor concept of time, something I was told later in graduate school is a side effect of dyslexia, so fifteen minutes could have gone by or an hour–I’m not really sure. All I knew was that I was hungry and thirsty. I started glancing around the restaurant looking for our waitress when I saw a woman walking by with a pitcher in her hand. She set the pitcher at the window to the kitchen where the waitresses pick up the plates. She headed back toward us. I flagged her down, first attempting to make eye contact, then holding up an curled index finger and wagging it.

She kept on walking by headed to the large table where there was obviously a party of some type going on. The group was alternating between English and some Asian language that I didn’t recognize. Up to this point I’d only really heard Cambodian (Khmer) and Mandarin (I think more of a Beijing dialect that a few local families spoke where I grew up). We had very little diversity in the small community where I was raised.

She passed our table and I whipped around and called out “Excuse me! Excuse me, Miss!” to get her attention. I was really polite, but also there was probably some desperation in my voice since I was hungry and thirsty.

She turned around and blinked at me and I held up my water glass. “Can we get more water?” She gave me a confused look and I added. “Also I think we’re ready to order.” I felt sort of proud that I was helping everyone at our table.

The conversation at the table stopped, while our African friend examined me with a look of horror as the girl explained, “I don’t work here.”

Immediately our friend leaned in and asked. “Did you think she was our waitress because she was Asian? We’re in a Chinese food restaurant so you assume anyone who’s Asian must be a waitress?”

“No.” I fumbled around for the best explanation and all of them seemed to point to the fact I was an awful human. “She had a pitcher. I saw her walking with a pitcher.”

I kept my voice low, but then thought maybe I should be a bit louder so the girl would hear me and know why I’d made the mistake.

But our friend was examining the table where the girl sat down. Our friend explained to me that the family was speaking Korean and then grinned, shaking his head, more in pity than in amusement.

I wanted to crawl under the table and die, right there. I froze, no words or intelligent explanations forming. My face heated, I swallowed against my heart beating in my throat as if it wanted to escape as badly as I did. I wanted to explain that the girl had a pitcher again, so he’d understand my context. But he didn’t seem to take this as a reasonable explanation, so I stewed over other answers in my head to make me seem less racist, all of which I was afraid to say out loud because what if it made me look even more like and idiot trying to explain it away?

I was enrolled in a Multicultural and Gender Studies class and we were currently learning how sometimes explaining away and reasoning dug a hole revealing more racism, prejudice, assumptions, and sexist thoughts/ideas. My boyfriend wasn’t saying anything (He’s never done well in situations of conflict), so I had no idea how my little incident really looked. My only judge was our friend who seemed pretty shocked I’d flagged down a lady of Asian decent and expected her to be our waitress simply because we were in an Asian food establishment. I wanted to offer up that I grew up in a town with two Chinese food restaurants and most of the waitresses were white (because we didn’t have a lot of diversity–so I didn’t assume she worked here based on her race), I also wanted to explain that I often get stopped in Mexican restaurants by people asking me to clear their plates, get water, or order (since then I’ve also been stopped at an Indian restaurant, because I also look Middle Eastern). But again all those explanations and little asides would have been flawed, it didn’t excuse the fact I’d done it, that I couldn’t reason away since NOBODY else saw she walked by with the pitcher. For the love of chocolate, did anyone see she had a water pitcher???!!!

So somewhere out there I hope someone else at that restaurant saw the same thing I did and will confirm for me that I’m in fact not making a racist conclusion. And if that poor lady I mistook for a waitress is reading, then I’m so sorry. Even though I think I said it then, I don’t remember if I did. Although amusing when it has happened to me, deep down it’s not pleasant that someone drew a conclusion based on the color of my skin, hair, or features.

(PS and for those who have flipped to my About page to see a picture of me. I do look totally white, and yes that means I do get a white privilege pass most of the time. In case you’re wondering, or it makes a difference on how racist I am, I’m part Native American Indian (Shoshone–Wyoming area), Portuguese, and yes I have a great-grandmother who immigrated from England about a week after the titanic sank. My maiden name is apparently on some sort of terrorist watch list (it’s a Middle Eastern last name and I got stopped in airports pre 9/11 before I took my husband’s name. I’ve been detained at boarder crossings to verify my passport/heritage. I tan really well in the summer). I’ve been racial profiled and it makes me so upset I did it to someone else.

I love comments! Please share your equally horrifying, embarrassing moments or just heckle me in mine. 


The Tooth Fairy Wants to Hurt You

This was written by Tina Gower who is really me, but more sophisticated and writes science fiction and fantasy in her spare time.

The Tooth Fairy Wants to Hurt You 

Good morning fellow aspiring mythical creature psychologists and blog followers.

In past installments of this column we’ve discussed the suicidal tendencies of Santa Claus, evidence of the Easter Bunny’s spiral into dementia, and Humpty Dumpty’s recovery from self-mutilating behaviors.  In this week’s edition I’m going to profile one of our newest potential dangers in the magical realm: the Tooth Fairy.

The idea to dissect the personality of the Tooth Fairy came to me while describing her to my nephew. He had a toothache and wanted to know what would happen if it fell out. When I described the strange fantastical creature sneaking into his room to steal a body part in exchange for money, his eyes grew to the size of the promised quarters that fairy would leave him, and the corners of his lips quivered. I too became concerned, realizing what trickery had been pulled on the unsuspecting public. In an attempt to calm him, I backpedaled a bit and really played up the money part. As he calculated the potential secret bank in his mouth, I began assembling a worrisome profile.

Left only my knowledge of the severely disturbed I’d gained while watching Snapped, a cable T.V. true crime show, I conducted some Internet research. I concluded we all have a propensity towards some mental weakness that usually presents itself in stressful times. We don’t all need to be diagnosed and medicated; it’s just useful to identify what proclivities we fall back on in a vulnerable state.

Children and parents capitalize on these neuroses. They receive toys due to St. Nicholas’ difficulty controlling his manic impulses, and delight in the forgetfulness of the Easter Bunny taking items and leaving them in odd places around the yard. The abuse of the fragile mental state of the Tooth Fairy is no different.

The Tooth Fairy is an obsessive-compulsive personality. The disorder is anxiety based, so she’s surely developed spasms or a twitch.  She undoubtedly has a tooth ring in her nose, because what self-respecting bone collector wouldn’t put an example of her finest compendium on her face somewhere.  She leaves money in the place of a coveted trophy, which means she feels compelled to keep things equal and fair. This is the most interesting aspect of her personality. If she feels things are imbalanced in some way, there is a chance that her obsession could lead to depression or fits of anger. Due to the evidence of her cheerful productivity worldwide I’m afraid it’s the latter.

Then there’s the problem of what she might be doing with all these teeth. Adding all the children in the world for generations means there is either an unnoticed mountain sized pile of baby teeth or she assimilates her collection in some other craft project. In past conversations with my colleagues, we believed she made them into necklaces, bracelets, earrings, and other fine jewelry, but I never truly divulged what I feared most. Since I don’t see many women proudly wearing baby teeth necklaces and matching earrings, she’s more likely grinding the bones and sculpting them into tea sets.

She’s possibly drawn to extracurricular activities that feed into her rage, while also fostering her love for children. So, she regularly attends little league games and ballet dance recitals.

Now that we have a clear profile of our subject, and where we might instruct the local law enforcement to capture her, we need to address the level of risk.

I suspect she’s armed, probably with a dental tool of some type, like the small hook scrapper the hygienist uses to remove plaque. The fairy also may create a weapon with the battery-operated drill she uses for grinding her collections into dust for her fine china. And I don’t think I need to stress that deep down the Tooth Fairy wants to hurt you. Each time she enters a home, the one thing that keeps her from killing us all in our sleep is the reciprocity she feels when we leave her our children’s teeth.

This does not mean that she cannot be rehabilitated. We have the ability in applied behavioral and cognitive therapies to channel her urges and deliver her back to society as a loving and cherished member of our mythical creature community. Once restrained and approached, I think she’d welcome the help if she knew it was available to her. We’d need to assure her that she is still adored and we would keep her recovery confidential, closing her records from public knowledge. I’d only refer to her by the initials T.F. in blog posts updating the treatment of her psychosis.

There are, of course, medications available for her particular disorder, but as my regular blog followers know, I don’t actually have a degree in psychology. Although, I do read the occasional self-help book, I’ve gathered the majority of my wisdom from CSI and crime novels. Until the American Psychological Association recognizes our profession, we will be limited in available treatments. And psychologists don’t usually prescribe medication; psychiatrists do, as one helpful commenter pointed out last month. I’m quite pleased that WiFi is now available under bridges, so trolls can join our discussions.

Thank you for reading the blog! If you leave a comment today we are giving away free mouthwash in a pepper spray can and floss, both items that will come in handy to capture our latest wanted creature. Looking forward to our next post where I’ve prepared a list of popular cartoon characters for members to match to their respective diagnoses. Winner will receive a copy of my upcoming book:  Why Grimm’s Fairy Tales had it Right – A Haunting Look into the Troubled Minds of our Most Beloved Fairy Tales. 

And as always, remember the three M’s: Mythical, Magical, or Maniacal?


Dr.* Phil Jones

Amateur Mythical Psychologist

Google University Graduate

27 Mythical Minds Saved (and counting!)

* – Honorary Doctorate bestowed by Jim Dyson from Jim’s Big Blog of Layman’s Psychology, January 2012.


I love comments! Every comment gets us one step closer to catching that dangerous creature. 

The Trouble with Tribbles (and Rejection)

I started watching Star Trek when I was ten. The thing is, I would have watched it sooner, only we didn’t get that channel. Once we finally moved to an area that got CBS, my life changed. Up to that point, I only had Star Wars to keep my creative mind flowing and my parents indulged me with the required Ewok stuffed animal toy I cherished until the day I lost it. Anyway, Star Trek was the show that actually stimulated my sudden appetite for reading. If it had Data on the cover then I probably read it.

The first episode I watched was the Trouble with Tribbles, from the classic Star Trek series. This was before the internet, so I didn’t know that so many people actually hated that episode, but I loved it. Those silly tribbles were so cute, I didn’t really understand the trouble with them, the more tribbles the merrier. After that first episode, I penned my first (incredibly bad, as in bada$$) fan fiction story based in the Star Trek world.  So in a way we now have Star Trek to blame for my delusions of grandeur that I might one day write fiction that sells.

About a year ago, I stopped writing non-fiction and engaged full thrusters on writing fiction and, knowing it will take years, didn’t really get too concerned when I didn’t even get a bite on my first few attempts.

The first rejection is like that first furry, darling, unexplainable tribble. “Isn’t this little guy cute! Hey, my first tribble, I mean rejection! Wonder what he’s doing here? You must have rolled into the wrong inbox.” Then you turn around and there’s ten tribbles, er rejections, none of them bothersome, just sort of amazed so many can rack up on one story and still have more opportunities out there. Then there are so many rejections you start to avoid sending the story out in fear of getting too many tribbles. You start to wonder what makes them fodder for tribble feed.

The tribbles have ruined my ability to see rejections clearly and reasonably.  The editor sends something like this:

Writer –

Thank you for sending your story to (name of magazine). We have reviewed over a hundred amazing submissions for this issue and your story was no exception. However, we feel it is not a good fit for our publication. Good luck in the future with this story. Keep writing and we look forward to your next submission.

And my brain only sees:

Writer –

Thank you for sending your story to (name of magazine). We have reviewed over a hundred amazing submissions for this issue and your story was no exception. However, we feel it is not a good fit for our publication. Good luck in the future with this story. Keep writing and we look forward to your next submission.

When I stare long enough the tribbles really mess with me and a hidden message appears:

Writer –

Thank you for sending your story to (name of magazine). We have reviewed over a hundred amazing submissions for this issue and your story was no exception. However, we feel it is not a good fit for our publication. Good luck in the future with this story. Keep writing and we look forward to your next submission.

Which is just wrong. Even the ones that are much more personal, telling me how close I was or praising the story make me feel really happy at first, until I remember it’s another tribble destined to multiply.

I think rejection letters would motivate me if they had some sort of insult attached that I could work really hard to prove wrong.  Something like:


This was voted the worst submission this month. We posted it in the water cooler room to remind all the editors what we’ve spared them from. We don’t think you’ll ever sell this story or any other in at least three years, or until you take a basic level writing class.  Thanks for the laughs.

We look forward to your next submission.


I’ve started to panic and panic makes my imagination run wild. I see a list of reviews next to my future novels.

See what Editors are saying about Tina Smith’s work:

“Wasn’t a good fit.”
-Hacks Magazine

“Not quite right for our publication.”
-Magazine of Mediocre

“Didn’t win me over.”
Rejection Weekly

“Couldn’t hold my interest.”
Daily Doubt

I’m a psychologist, so I was sure I could reframe my thinking on rejection. I wish I could think like other writers that rejection doesn’t mean I’m not awesome yet. I could be close and just need more stories out to up my chances.

But working on more stories doesn’t cure my fear of rejection. Thinking of rejections as a stepping-stone to an awesome sale doesn’t really help either. Ignoring the rejections definitely doesn’t work. Even thinking of rejections as adorable fuzzy rodent-like balls of cuddle hasn’t worked so far.

Now I finally see the trouble with tribbles, you get enough of them and they can start doing some damage. Some can even alter your self esteem by their sheer crushing volume. The problem is, it takes those balls (you know tribbles) to get anywhere worth traveling, so bring them on.

I love comments. Every time you leave a comment a poor deserving starving writer sells a story.