How Not To Respond To Story Rejections aka Whalen Strikes Again

Writers, let’s let this be a write tip for this week, even though I’m not going to bother officially labelling and logo-ing it as such. There’s a writer I just rejected for an anthology I’m doing because he’s burned bridges all over town. How? By this kind of behavior here (my response, kinder than deserved is below it):

Some of you may have heard that there is going to be a Best of Raygun Revival anthology. Raygun Revival was an e-zine that ran on the Internet from 2006 to 2012 and featured space opera serials and short stories. Somebody by the name of Bryan Thomas Schmidt is putting the antho together and it will be published by Everyday Fiction Publishing, an outfit run by a Canadian by the name of Jordan Ellinger, who used to known as Jordan Lapp.

Schmidt had a novel serialized in Raygun after Lapp/Ellinger took it over, and is evidently a fellow who has been busy schmoozing with some name and some not-so name writers, getting them involved in anthologies he’s put together. He funded several of them through Kickstarter, the website that begs the public for money to pay for the cost of making books and movies. He’s going to be kickstarting for the Raygun anthology early in 2013, and the book will be published at the end of 2013.

I was a part for RGR about three of its six year existence. I had stories in about 20 issues. A dozen of them I later re-edited and turned into a novel, Jack Brand, which was published by Pill Hill Press in 2010.

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Along with writing stories for the ezine, I also worked as a “Slushmaster,” and in that capacity I would say I had considerable influence on the content of the publication. The Overlords of RGR, the three editors who founded the e-zine, (Johne Cook, L.S. King, and Paul Christian Glenn) made all the final decisions, of course, but I was one of those who had first crack at most of the submissions.

So here we are with a Best of Raygun Revival anthology being put together and, guess what? I’m not going to be in it. And neither are the Overlords, from what I gather. Why is this? you might ask. Well, for one thing, the original editors and publishers are not really involved in this project. The Overlords are evidently in a cryogenic state somewhere in a pod circling one of the moons of Mars. Darth Lapp/Ellinger has control of the publication currently, and Jabba the Schmidt seems not to be too much on the ball. He sent me an email Nov. 14 telling my story, “Kiss Me Now, Kill Me Later,” was “in final consideration” for inclusion in the anthology, which surprised the hell out of me since I had no idea there was going to be such a thing. I expressed my thanks for being in the running. His email requested I send him a copy of the manuscript of the story and I did so on Nov. 18, four days later after getting the email.

Needless to say I was pretty happy to be part of the book. But hours later, I got a response from Schmidt saying unfortunately “due to a kickstarter, I had very tight timeline and I finalized the table of contents Friday [Nov. 16]. It was decided not to include manuscripts I did not have, including yours.”

I’ve been a writer for a long time, now, and I have to say I was totally shocked to get a response like that. I’m not sure I totally believe it. But one thing is clear, the haste with which this thing is being thrown together doesn’t bode well for the proposed anthology. For one thing, the book purports to be a “best of” collection, but in fact, looking at the posting on Schmidt’s Website describing the book, it looks as if it will contain a smattering of stories from some of the original writers, and quite a few new stories by some “name” writers.


These are stories that never appeared in the e-zine by writers who never would have deigned to appear in the publication in its “golden age,” when it was fighting its heroic battle to survive. From 2006 to 2010 RGR hardly paid anything to its writers. We got involved because of love of the genre and because RGR was the only publication with its own particular brand and style. It was a one of a kind labor of love by people who cared.

Now writers like Dean Wesley Smith, Kristine Katherine Rush, Sarah Hoyt, and Mike Resnick, among others, are lined up to write new stories or contribute reprints. Where were they when RGR was barely getting enough submission to fill an issue?  The Overlords, I’m sure, would have been grateful for even a crumb of a story from one them back in the day.

Looking at this matter in a longer perspective, I should be glad not to be a part of this effort, but I’m not. I’m mad about the way my story was handled. And I’m kind of sad because the anthology seems more like an attempt to dig up RGR’s corpse and make a profit on the remains. My only hope is that the Overlords, wherever they are, rouse themselves from cryogenesis, overthrow Darth Lapp/Ellinger and Jabba the Schmidt, and someday soon put out a real “Best of RGR Anthology.”

My response and it’s kinder than deserved:

Let me make this VERY clear, John. I read tons of stories for this. I was very prepared to include yours. But then I was informed of numerous cases where you have posted these very types of posts talking out your ass and badmouthing editors, cursing them out, insulting them and insulting RGR and the people involved and told in no certain terms that EDF will not do an anthology with you involved. Having already finalized and sent your story request, I had no choice but to honestly say we had closed the TOC, which we did, without waiting for your story. But if it makes you feel any better, not that I care because you are clearly showing no respect for me or anyone else, we are not including serials and we are not including any reprints over 5k words. Yours is over 6k. Say what you want. I’ve worked hard to get where I am. I’ve earned the respect I’ve got. And frankly, no one owes you anything. You have made your bed. Lie in it. And understand that I’ll be posting this on my blog for industry folks as a prime example of the kind of unprofessionalism you’re known for.

Don’t be an asshat, people. It’s not worth it.

I leave you with the response from the publisher on Whalen’s blog:

  1. John,

    It was my call to exclude you from the magazine, and I did so not because you’ve sent us abusive e-mails in the past, or because you’ve accumulated quite a reputation for yourself among other editors (we do talk to each other), but because of one of your posts on this very blog ( ) where you implied that you weren’t a fan of the magazine as it was “under Ellinger”.

    I concluded from that post that you weren’t likely to be interested in the anthology and asked Bryan to go ahead without you.