Apex Magazine August 2010 CoverRejection.  Yes, that dreaded word. Sometimes it is a toss-up as to which part of your life it is most devastating. In relationships, it is emotionally crushing and leaves little pieces of your heart scattered all around an empty apartment (can you tell I’ve been there…more often than I care to admit on this blog). But then there is the rejection writers get; those notes, sometimes form, sometimes personalized that you can’t help but feel that it isn’t just a rejection of your work but of you and everything stand for – your heart, your soul, your sweat, even your mother for ever giving birth to you. Okay, maybe it isn’t quite that bad, but on bad days, and we all have them, it is tough to claw out of the, “I’m a talentless hack” thinking and get back to writing, and even more importantly submitting.

But rejection can be more than that. There have been times, I’ve found it affirming. No, not affirming of my “I’m a talentless hack” thinking but that I’m getting there. I’m submitting and it isn’t half bad, and even if it didn’t get published SOMEONE took the time to read it, think about it and send me a note back. I thought it might be nice to share some of my rejection with you – the gut-churning maybe-I-should-stick-to-policy days, but also the times when a reader or editor has really stepped forward and given their time and effort to not just grow their publication, but to grow writers.

So…my first rejection submitted to you: Apex Magazine – Martel Sardina, Submissions Editor (Submitted – January 25, 2010.  Response – February 3, 2010)

Thank you for submitting “The Grand Hoax” to Apex Magazine.

Due to the volume of manuscripts received each day, we now respond to most submissions via this form. Unfortunately, I’ve decided to pass on this story. Listed below are the most frequent reasons we reject a submission. Any marked reasons means your story fits into that category. I’ve also included any comments I made while reading your story in the hopes that some of them may prove helpful.

[ ] Does not have an adequate science fiction element

[X] Does not have an adequate horror element

[ ] Fails to hold interest

[ ] Poorly edited manuscript

[X] Other

Reading Note:

This piece lacks the emotional connection that could make the subject matter horrific. The ending comes too quickly.

Also, out of curiosity, how were Oprah & Geraldo able to live past the year 2133? You need to either explain that or remove that sentence all together.

Best of luck placing this story elsewhere, and please feel free to submit again.


After reviewing the notes in the rejection and re-reading my story, I have to admit, I had a “Holy Smoke’s Batman!” moment and realized that the criticisms were absolutely right. I was definitely missing the “emotional connection” and I was writing my characters at “arms length.” And the presence of Oprah and Geraldo was a logic whole big enough to drive the Enterprise through (and for all you geeks out there, I’m talking about the (NCC-1701-D). So right now, I’m working to correct those issues and send this story out again soon. It is going to be all the better. Thank you Martel Sardina.

About the author

DayAlMohamed Day Al-Mohamed is author of the Young Adult novel, “Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn.” She is also co-editor for the anthology, “Trust & Treachery” from Dark Quest Books. In addition to speculative fiction, she also writes comics and film scripts. She is an active member of the Cat Vacuuming Society of Northern Virginia Writing Group, of Women in Film and Video, and a graduate of the VONA/Voices Writing Workshop.