I am so excited to announce that “The Herd” has been
accepted by Water~Stone Review for the 2013 issue.
Let me tell you about “The Herd.”
In August of 2010, Scott and I took the kids camping near Taylor’s Falls. We went to the beach at Lake O’ the Dalles in Interstate Park. Scott and I settled ourselves in the shade and the kids played in the water as far from us as they could get without leaving the swim area.
There was a very strange man on the beach. I won’t say too much about him because he features prominently in “The Herd.” This man was making everyone on the beach nervous, though he wasn’t doing anything dangerous or illegal. One weird thing he kept doing: he would take a Budweiser out of his cooler, take a swig and spit the beer into the sand beside his towel. Then, after drinking about half a can, he’d pour the rest into the sand. A few minutes later, he’d get a new can, open it, swig and spit.
A woman and her daughter approached me and Scott. She told us the man was making her and other parents nervous. She was going up to the parking lot and asked us to watch her in case the man followed her. We agreed, of course—a sort of neighborhood watch without the neighborhood.
I won’t tell you how this day ended, because I want you to read “The Herd” in Water~Stone Review, but it was the creepiest encounter I’ve ever had, and we still talk about from time to time.
This just had to become a story. The event tumbled around in the back of my mind for months. I wrote a few beginnings that were all scrapped without regret. I had the idea of working in omniscient point of view, but the story wasn’t getting anywhere. Then Richard Bausch came to Hamline. He read “One Hour In the History of Love,” and said that he wrote it in the omniscient because hardly anyone is writing in the omniscient anymore. It was a challenge he wanted to take on. (I’m paraphrasing, of course.)
I don’t understand the mysteries of the subconscious, but hearing Bausch read that story was a catalyst. Alchemy occurred and the story began to take shape in my mind.
Some months later, Scott and I went to Colorado. I wrote “The Herd” while he was off taking photographs. “The Herd” is one of those stories that came out fully formed—a rare and glorious experience! But, it was a year in the making. I spent twelve months doing all the heavy lifting in my mind before I sat down to write.
Back home, I did some minor revisions and submitted it to the Summer Writing Workshops that Hamline offers every year. That year, Ben Percy was the fiction instructor. That was July 2011. I did some more tightening and changed the ending to up the tension after that workshop. Then I started submitting it.
Since the fall of 2011, “The Herd” has gone through:
Submission to journals/contests: 23
Withdrawals from journals: 11
Positive rejections**: 1
Contest nomination***: 1
Contest finalist: 1
Time from first submission to acceptance: about 19 months
“The Herd” was birthed that creepy day on the beach in August of 2010. It will see print in October of 2013. What does it take to get a story published? A lot!
* No+ means they reject the story but encourage me to submit again
** Positive rejection means I received a personalized note of encouragement from an editor
*** This contest required stories not be under consideration elsewhere, so I withdrew “The Herd” from 6 journals, something I regretted since I did not win the contest. The other withdrawals came after “The Herd” was accepted by Water~Stone.
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