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 Annotated Sample Story

Here is a sample for readers who want to see the kind of stories they can expect in each issue of Rosebud. We've also annotated this piece for the benefit of writers interested in knowing what we look for in submissions during our selection process.

Robert Wake
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Writer’s name should be prominent. Need phone and e-mail for contact if accepted, but also include address in case the manuscript is separated from the SASE


This title is OK. A good title will stand out in the Table of Contents, a great title gets on the front or back covers of the magazine. We are in the business of selling magazines. If a title or the name of an author (or something about author that makes him or her unique) will help do this, the chances of the pieces being accepted are increased.

Restless in the bed of his father’s childhood, Michael awoke to the Wisconsin summer.

We know where we are, who the character is and even get a little background. We are into the story very quickly.

A neighborhood rumor was circulating: two hot-air balloons would be launched that morning in the park.

Foreshadowing that something out of the ordinary will take place.

Michael, even half-asleep, knew the skies were clear. He had stayed the night with his Grandmother Booth, on Saukfield’s east side, just off Otter Lake on La Salle Avenue. The house was small, built sturdily of sandstone blocks and cedar shingles, but crooked somehow, as if one edge of the foundation were sinking into the geraniums. An enormous burr oak towered above the garage and hid the sun.

Enough significant descriptive detail to make the image vivid.

Michael imagined his father waking up when he was Michael’s age, listening to the clank of basement pipes below, and following with ten-year-old eyes the arc of a garden sprinkler outside the window.

“Sleepyhead,” whispered Grandmother Booth from the bedroom doorway. “You’ll wish you were at the park.”

Dialogue gets this happening here and now for the reader.

In dim morning light his grandmother seemed weightless, her robe a billow of smoke. Her skin was talcum white and smelled of Ivory soap. Michael tried to recall a dream, but the details were lost and the fearful momentum had dissolved. His dreams were visited frequently by dogs. Sometimes playful, sometimes rabid, the dogs changed from dream to dream. Sometimes the dogs talked. An Alaskan malamute said to Michael, “Come run with me and we’ll circle the lake.” In another dream a bullmastiff — black as a storm cloud — sunk its teeth into Michael’s testicles. He awoke in the middle of the night, a phantom pain searing his groin. “I once wet my bed,” his mother told him. “I dreamt I was flying, floating over rooftops and trees, and then suddenly falling like a rock. Dreams are carnival rides.”

Suggestive, that the events have meaning beyond their literal significance. This gets the reader thinking and tells an editor something will be happening on different levels that makes for rich reading.