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I’m glad (and maybe a bit relieved) to say that I finished the fifth draft of “Hag.” There still needs to be one more pass to look for typos and tweak my word choices, but it’s really almost ready. In a few more days, I’ll begin submitting to publications.

Everybody has their own way of deciding where to submit, and in what order. Should you submit first to the high-class markets? To the ones that pay best? Should you take a chance on lesser markets, or look for anthologies? Someone could run seminars on the subject. (And they probably do, honestly.)

My approach to this has changed over the past few years. It used to be that I was really chasing the traditional publishing route. I would spend hours combing through market listings, comparing the word rates and what kind of work they were looking for and how long the stories could be. At the end of it, I would put together a list and when I had a short story to submit I would go down in order, rejection after rejection.

The unfortunate thing is that I don’t write that much short fiction, so my list always seems to be out of date when I actually go to use it. Markets might have theme lists, or limited submissions windows, or they try to do a rights grab just because you submitted to them.

So these days, my submission process is a lot less formal. First, I look to see if the market is even open to submissions. Next, I check their guidelines to see whether my story would be a good fit for their approach. No point submitting to markets that don’t publish fantasy. Finally, I see what their word count is. I’m constantly finding that my work is too long for their needs.

Here’s where I confess that, like a lot of writers, I under-sell myself. Knowing how tough the competition will be, I skip the top markets and try first for the medium and lesser magazines. I also tend to give up after one or two rejections. Those are bad habits. I really should be pushing myself harder if I want to get any recognition.

With “Hag,” especially, the story is a little more substantial than my usual. When I’m ready, I’m going to aim for the top — as long as they are open to submissions, that is. I’m going to keep trying longer than a couple of weeks before I give up.

What do you mean, August is too late for making resolutions??


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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“Hag” is the short story I’m currently working on. I’ve mentioned that, but it’s possible not everyone knows what I mean by saying that my main character is a hag.

Probably the most familiar usage of “hag” is as a synonym for a witch. It can also be used to insult a woman by implying she is ill-tempered and/or appears old and wrinkly. In folklore from the British Isles, a hag was a kind of evil fairy. Peg Powler and Jenny Greenteeth are two well known hags from folk stories.

Night Hags were believed to fly around at night. They would sit on people’s chests and cause them to have terrible nightmares. When they woke up, they couldn’t move. Sleep paralysis is a real thing, and it’s thought that stories about Night Hags was an attempt to explain it.

River Hags were cannibals who lived in lakes and rivers. They were said to lurk near the shore and snatch up children who strayed too close to the bank. These folk tales are clearly cautionary, intended to warn children away from the danger of drowning.

In other cases, hags were believed to control the weather. They were blamed for causing bad storms in winter. Some others are thought to be diminished forms of ancient Celtic goddesses, who would sometimes disguise themselves as old women.

As for my story, the hags of Dolarus Swamp are River Hags. Long ago, they banded together with human wizards to defeat a demonic empire. The demons are still imprisoned beneath the waters of the swamp, and the hags are responsible for keeping them there. Like the goddesses of old, they have shape-changing powers and can impersonate any creature that lives in the swamp.

I also worked in the child-snatching thing, in a different way. Some of the humans who live near the swamp would abandon unwanted children there. They believed the hags would eat the children. Instead, the hags adopted the kids and performed a series of rituals that transformed them into new hags. So even though they did not have children, the race of hags could go on defending the Dolarus Swamp.

Working with folklore is lots of fun. When editors eventually see this story, and remember the legend of cannibal hags, I hope they will be surprised by how I used the material.


Have you read one of my books? Then it would be great for you to leave a review! Meanwhile, if you’d like to learn more about me and my work, check out my web siteFacebook, Instagram and/or Twitter.

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