Kings and Angels

I’m blogging from a Burger King in Ohio. I love wireless Internet access. Last night I crossed the 20,000 word mark on the new novel and that feels great. The book is zipping along nicely and seems much more polished than my previous rough draft attempts. That’s not to say this one isn’t going to need a healthy dose of revising when its done, but I don’t think I’ll have to throw everything out and start at page one like I have in the past.

Another interesting milestone in my career came last week. My second submission of the year was something I’d never done before: a reprint. I queried Mysterical-E about my first published mystery story called Angel Eyes. The story was published in 2002 in a tiny little magazine called Detective Mystery Stories that has a circulation of about 25 I think. The version that was published was the fifth or sixth totally new version of that story I had written, originally called Of Blood and Angels. The story behind the story begins though, in 1998.

I was living at home and working as an administrative assistant for General Motors and hadn’t written anything in a very long time. One day I was sitting in the car sleeping while waiting for my sister to get done from work and the Kiss song Heavens on Fire came on the radio. Because I was in that weird half-coma, half-awake, dreamy state, the song gave me an interesting vision. I began seeing angels jumping out of Heaven with their feet on fire. After that I started thinking about why an angel would leave Heaven if he could. And then I started thinking about whose job it would be to find these angels who skip out on Heaven. And then a story was born.

I wrote the first half of a story about angel bounty hunters at work the next day and took it home to my mom. She hadn’t read much of the stuff I’d written previously and I didn’t really think she’d like this one, but she came into my room later and told me she really liked it and that I should finish it. So I finished it the next day at work and after polishing it up a bit sent it out to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magzine and then Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine where it was rejected by both. That set off a four year process of revising and rewriting and submitting. According to my submission log between 1998 and 2002 I submitted the story to 12 magazines (including Shots, Thrilling Detective, and Plots with Guns) under three different titles before it was accepted.

Since then, the story has remained one of my favorites. It’s the first real, substantial story I ever wrote and it’s the first story I ever rewrote. It has many flaws but there are gleams of brilliance here and there and I still like the central idea (not the original angel bounty hunters idea, of course). So lately I’ve been thinking about getting that story a wider audience. I’ve had it posted on my personal website for a while but that doesn’t really count. Then I saw that Gerald So had two of his earlier stories reprinted by Mysterical-E so I thought I’d see if they were interested in mine. I’m not sure if ME was around when I was originally submitting the story but it never made it on my radar. I queried the editor a few days ago and he responded that he was interested in considering the story so I sent it off and should hear back shortly I imagine.

How do you all feel about your first stories and would you ever update them or seek to reprint them somewhere?