James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater County series

UPDATED: Another DOGS Request


Well, just got word that that’s a big negatory from Bantam/RH, and so, back to the editor’s list.

DOGS will yet find a home—as of this writing it’s still out to Penguin, so we also still have that chance at being picked up. No worries—rejections are but stepping stones to an eventual yes!


News today from my agent at Inkling Literary, Michelle L Johnson: an editor at Random House has requested DOGS OF PARSONS HOLLOW! With the MS out to two of the big houses right now, I’d say its chances of being picked up just increased quite a bit.

As in the old parable of the farmer and his son’s broken leg, however: it’s good news that RH and Penguin have both requested the MS, right? Maybe. It’s bad news that Simon & Schuster rejected it back in December, right? Maybe. Only time and perspective can reveal the true implications of any given event or occurrence. For the moment, of course, this news feels less ‘maybe’ than great, and another important step on the path to… somewhere.

No ‘maybe’ about it in that the RH news came as a wonderful way to balance out the next message I received, this one regarding a short story rejection: ‘Release into Prayer,’ which is part of THE NIGHT I PRAYED TO ELVIS COLLECTION, got passed over by Ecotone. No big whoop—my fiction submission file, a spreadsheet I’ve been keeping since 2006, has over 200 unique entries, of which ‘only’ about 10% have been marked YES—that’s one out of 10. Which is not bad.

Speaking of stories, out of the 14 different pieces I sent out in late 2012, half have not yet reported, six have been rejected, and one has been picked up by Fiction365. So, again, even if none of the other seven land, it’s still respectable to get one story chosen out of that many.

Anytime anything goes out the door, the odds are long. To get into print these days via traditional channels and means, you have to hit the mark in a number of different ways: with luck, with tenacity, with strong writing that grabs the right editor in the right way at just the right moment that they need a piece of writing like yours. That’s the element you really have no control over, and a reason stories that are otherwise worthy get rejected—they simply aren’t right for the needs of that editor at that particular moment. Or maybe he or she had a bad morning. Or there’s a few typos you missed, or worse. Or, yeah, maybe the writing isn’t there. In any case, it’s a hard and humbling game fraught with mystery (except when you get notes back on a rejection, of course, which isn’t often).
The takeaway: Whether we’re talking about placing a story, attracting a small press, getting an agent, or that agent in turn getting MS requests from editors, the lesson here is to keep trying, and to not let any one particular rejection on a given pitch or piece be the death knell of your hard-won self confidence. Both houses looking at DOGS may yet say no, but the fact that it’s getting read at this level is a tremendous achievement. No matter what happens from here, I already feel terribly gratified and accomplished with how far Michelle and I’ve gone (so far) with DOGS OF PARSONS HOLLOW.

About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest book, a story collection called The Year They Canceled Christmas, releases in November 2017.

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