This is just a short post to commend someone I think deserves an award for her ability to create tension and suspense. This person is MacAllister Stone, the overall owner and El Presidente for life of the Absolute Writers Water Cooler forum.

It all began with this thread in August –  The Great Absolute Write Spec Fiction Anthology! – in which members of the forums were invited to submit short stories to a speculative fiction anthology. MacAllister was announced as editor and submissions came in thick and fast. I sent in one submission which was Dances with Drums, my Waypoint based short story, and got a very quick rejection (comments were excellent world building, take a look at sentence level construction). The rules of the anthology allowed further submissions if you got rejected before the deadline so I dug out An Element of Desire – the vaguely erotic Urban Fantasyish piece I wrote because Erica Hayes dared me to do it on Twitter – and fired that off.

The response to that one was very positive (even though I feel it is a weaker story than Dances with Drums but then I am biased) and it made it through to the second round. The news at that point was that it now came down to space in the anthology – they had a word count limit and they were basically going to make every piece that made it to the second round fight it out, mano et mano, for the right to survive and take up some of that precious space.

And this is where the tension comes in… every person on the forums who got a piece through to the second round is now, as we speak, on tenterhooks. The announcement was made that anyone who gets an e-mail from the anthology is likely to have gotten one because they were rejected rather than accepted, then an announcement was made that some had been rejected and that more would be rejected soon and in the meantime the thread discussing the anthology has grown into a vast behemoth of a monster of a thread, spanning 60 pages and ranging in scope from serious topics like cover design of the anthology or what the submission process feels like to the bizarre trivia of dragon poetry.

Yes, you heard me. Poetry. About dragons. There was elf poetry too.

Oh, and someone threatened to bribe the editors with pints of Hobgoblin. This offended me because I did not think of that plan first.

Then the references to the Rocky Horror Picture show started and my brain decided that a holiday would be nice.

The latest news is that a final announcement will be made on Friday and with this there came the unearthly screech of nerves being tightened even more on the rack of anticipation. Every writer involved in this thing is nervous, dreading the inevitable rejection letter…

Now, my experience of other submissions to other places has been less tense than this. I write my piece, send it off and then forget about it until I get the rejection or acceptance. For some reason, possibly due to the constant reminders in the thread about it, this submission process is far more fraught.

This is why MacAllister Stone deserves some form of award for suspense and I vote that she is issued with one forthwith!

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