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For those of you who have submitted so far and those who are planning to submit, here are a few hints. Let some words to the wise . . .

First: Not to be rude, but I don't care. I don't care how many places you've published. I don't care how many degrees you have. I don't care how many awards you've won. All I care about is the quality of your story. Work on that and you'll impress me. And, while you're working, keep these things in mind:

You're using an word processor, NOT a typewriter. You don't have to hit the Enter key after each line. The application or the email you're using will word wrap automatically. Hit the Enter key only when you want to finish a paragraph. If you don't, the software I use assigns a paragraph mark to each line of your text. To format that, I would have to remove each superfluous paragraph mark. Here's a newsflash: I don't. Slush pile.

As a furtherance to the previous caveat: PLEASE use at most two carriage returns between paragraphs. That way, I only need to remove one of them to format the piece to HTML. More than two won't automatically send your work to the slush pile, but it does add a strike to your count (see below).

I love baseball. I love writing. Because I love them both, I usually allow three strikes for any submission. Here are a few of the strikes I call:

Proofreading errors: omitting a word, misusing a word form, noun-verb number agreement, other unnecessary grammar errors (not sentence fragments that are used for effect). Each of these gets a strike. Three and your work is out.

Unnecessary paragraphing (more than two carriage returns between paragraphs; see above): This generally travels through the document and counts as only one strike.

Using spaces or tabs for paragraph indents: This is unnecessary and annoying. Follow the two-carriage return request and please use "block paragraphing." If you use spaces or tabs, that's one strike. If you do, and you vary the number of spaces or tabs, that's two strikes.

Follow these suggestions and you'll avoid having your work sent to the slush pile. Follow them all, and you'll avoid getting strikes. Just one more hint: the fewer strikes, the better chance for publication (one is better than two).



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