My style of writing is a bit more action-oriented than, say, literary-oriented. Those aren't technically opposite ends of the writing spectrum but, as my neuroscientist friend, Ben, said, "They are negatively correlated."
The more prestigious speculative fiction magazines tend to lean literary. They like the ethereal, the non-literal, they like when a story is more an analogy for the character's emotional journey. I write about shit that actually happens. I've read a ton of literary stuff that I loved, much of it made me jealous, wishing I could write like these brilliant authors. Ultimately, I've had to be honest with myself and realize that's just not who I am, not what I write.
It makes it hard to get published in monthly magazines. But, fortunately for me, there is a type of periodical out there that leans more toward action stories, and that's anthologies.
Wait, does something have to come out periodically for it to be a periodical? Because many of these anthologies come out randomly/
Okay, just checked the online dictionary, it says that "at regularly occurring intervals" is one definition of periodically, but another is "from time to time; occasionally."
Now that we're done with today's vocabulary lesson...
I saw a military horror anthology had an open call, titled Last Stand. They wanted military guys (and gals) making an Alamo-style last stand against some sort of monsters. I wrote a story about special forces in space who are called Star Jumpers who find an abandoned spaceship on a course for Earth and quickly realize it's abandoned because monstrous aliens killed the crew and if they get to Earth, they're going to kill everyone there. The marines have to make a last stand against them to save Earth. I aimed for 5,000 words, but it got away from me and wound up being 9,000.
I sent it off. A month later I got a kindly worded email saying they liked it, but no sale.
There are almost no magazines out there that take 9,000 word stories. Of those that do, none of them are interested in straight-up soldiers vs. alien monsters action. I had no where else to try to sell the story. I moved it to my trunked stories folder, ready to forget about it.
The next day I see that Black Infinity magazine has an open call: the editor is looking for one more story to fill out the next issue. It has to be a science fiction story dealing with abandoned spacecraft.
Huh. Sure, okay, I might as well throw Star Jumpers at them.
And the editor liked it. So, "Star Jumpers" will be appearing in the next issue of Black Infinity magazine.