October Updates

Happy Halloween!

It has been a long and busy couple of months. I’m in the process of filling out graduate school applications once more. Three of the schools I’m applying to are outside the US–two schools in Canada and one school in the UK (and a fourth program I’m applying to is State-side). I learned from some of the researchers at Koobi Fora this summer that graduate programs outside the US are more likely to have terminal master’s programs in the field of paleoanthropology than US schools are, and I’m hoping that getting a master’s degree will make it easier for me to get into a PhD program in the future. The four schools I’m applying to (in total) all have programs and faculty that would be great to work with, and I’m excited to be making this attempt once more.

I started working for an environmental consulting company in September, which I’ve been really excited about. I wanted to get more comfortable doing field work in preparation for graduate studies, particularly where I might be leading undergraduates out on excursions in the future. It would be nice to have the confidence that I can search for things without getting lost in the wilderness… So far I’ve only worked on one field project because I pulled a muscle that put me out of hiking shape for about a month. It’s been a bummer, but at least I’ve had plenty of time to communicate with grad school professors and work on my applications.

Writing has been a bit slow still, but I am still working on my Woodcutters novella and hope to complete that this year. I am also still working on my orc novel.

I also got a pretty sweet rejection from Tor.com for a story I submitted to them about a year and a half ago (I submitted this story in January of 2016 and just heard back last week) that included some feedback. Most magazine rejections do not include feedback, and it was a treat to learn what I had done well and what was lacking in my submission. Not everything described in this letter will make sense without reading the story, but I wanted to share what I learned.

Dear Mx. Seeley,

Thanks so much for submitting to Tor.com, and for your long patience while we evaluated your story. Unfortunately, “Phantasmal Rot” is not quite right for us. We received an unprecedented volume of great submissions, and we’ve been tasked with choosing only a few. Most of what we let go concerns taste or style rather than quality.

This is a unique premise and I hope you’ve written more in this world. There seem to be all kinds of promises made in the story: the description of a single page and its importance to the spell; the moment the supervisor takes off her gloves; and the revelation that the author’s name has gone missing. It didn’t seem like the narrative chased any of its own potential, however, and instead ended with a somewhat mundane fix. I was expecting more from the masterful foreshadowing, so the ending felt abrupt. Another editorial team might respond differently to your story, so I wish you the best of luck placing it elsewhere. 

Best,
Tor.com Submissions Staff

Though this story wasn’t quite right for this Tor.com editor in its present form, it was very encouraging to learn that the premise I created for this particular story might have some more potential that I can expand on and work with than I had previously considered.

To all my readers–you are awesome. It’s not always easy to understand the twists and turns in our life’s courses sometimes or to recognize worthwhile opportunities among the curve balls, but I hope you also have moments of discovering new potential in an old, abrupt, or abandoned story in your life that didn’t go quite as planned.

Stay awesome, and keep writing!

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Sarah E. Seeley is a fantasy and horror author, and an affiliate member of the Horror Writers Association. She has a bachelor’s degree in geology and loves exploring the science of human origins.

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