How strict is the competition of slots in the upcoming 2017 collection Fantasy from the Rock? Well, I own the company, and I didn’t get in.
Yeah, process that! Anyone who thinks there’s any favoritism here at Engen Books has another thing coming, and should read the sad, sad story of Matthew LeDrew: failed Fantasy from the Rock applicant. 😉
I’m very hands-off with the collection. My philosophy on running a business has always been “hire amazing people and stay the heck out of their way.” Erin Vance and Ellen Curtis are amazing editors and authors, and I try very hard to stand back and let them do what they do best during the story-selection and editing process. So when we had a meeting to discuss the first wave of applicants last week, that was the first time I’d learned my contribution had been “yellow lighted,” our term for “in danger of being rejected.”
In fairness to them, they were right to do so. They didn’t reject it on the basis of quality (they claim), they did it on basis of “this isn’t Fantasy.” Which is fair: I am not, by and large, a fantasy author, and in trying to be one for this collection I missed the mark. But that said, now there’s an issue: usually when a story is stuck being ‘yellow lighted’ I have to come in and be the decider, and I couldn’t very well do that. How would we solve this problem?
The way we solve every problem around the Engen Bullpen: we told lies! To be specific, we contacted young Sam Bauer (who debuted in last year’s Sci-Fi from the Rock to great acclaim) and blatantly lied to him, making up a story about how we were grid-locked dealing with a random submission.
Now Sam is a very smart fellow, so he had some questions. Like: “How does a panel of three become gridlocked?” To which I made up a second lie, that we had some sort of electoral-college type system (we do not). Satisfied, I sent him my story (sans credit) and told him to to give me his honest thoughts.
Sam proceeded to eviscerate the story, grammar, point-of-view and tense issues, made some insightful analysis into my character through his feelings about the text, and concluded with the final nail in my coffin: “Oh, and this isn’t Fantasy.”
… all the while Ellen and Erin were reading along with me and laughing maniacally “I love this kid! OMG he’s right, you do do that! I LOVE this kid!!”
A thus ended Matthew LeDrew’s hopes of being a successful applicant to Fantasy from the Rock. I hear Sam Bauer has submitted though… we’ll see how that goes 😉 .
In all seriousness, I’m sure that tale will see print someday, in some form. And when the acceptance / condolence letters go out on on January 7 2017, if you didn’t make it, take solace in knowing you’re in good company and that the competition was rough. There are a lot of great entries and Ellen and Erin are working diligently to make it our best collection yet, so keep at it, rework and re-edit if need be (I know I will be), and most importantly of all —
Never Look Back 🙂