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  • John M. Campbell

Blind Slush Panel Approves of My Story

I attended the MileHiCon science fiction convention in Denver last weekend. Attendees were treated to the first snowfall of the season. Unfortunately, I hadn't put my snow tires on my car by then, so I endured a white-knuckle ride home Saturday night on the slick roads.

My personal highlight of the convention was the Blind Slush Panel session hosted by acclaimed short story author James Van Pelt. I was among the authors who submitted the first page of their novel or short story to be read in front of a panel of authors, editors, and agents. The panelists would listen to the submission and raise their hand when they would have stopped reading and gone on to the next story in their pile. If the majority of the panelists raised their hands, the reading would stop. Then the panelists would explain what about the story caused them to raise their hand or keep on reading.

The session illustrates what writers face when trying to get their works published. The explanations show the elements a story needs from the first page onward to get published—and what to avoid.

This year, I submitted the first page of my short story, "Uncross the Stars," a humorous story of a zombie actor intent on winning the role he was reborn to play: an undead Professor Moriarty, the villain in a new Sherlock Holmes movie. Could he beat out Benedict Cumberbatch in zombie makeup for the part?

The panel loved the humor and worldmaking in the story, and by the end of the first page, no one had raised their hand! It was the first time in three tries that one of my unpublished stories made it through this gauntlet unscathed. Of course, from my previous submissions I learned what the editors objected to in my writing, which allowed me to correct those issues in my latest story.

Happily, "Uncross the Stars" is due to appear in print later this month as part of the Inner Workings anthology published by Calendar of Fools Publishing. I appreciate the vote of confidence from the MileHiCon Blind Slush Panel.

Click here for more about Inner Workings.

Denver MileHiCon science fiction convention
Inner Workings Anthology by Calendar of Fools

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