A restful Japanese garden at the Huntington in California

If necessary, contemplate this restful Japanese garden to aid in relaxed breathing

A few hours ago, I got back from a camping trip in the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. I’ve been entirely off the grid for the past four days — the only news I’ve seen from the outside world was whatever was printed in the copy of Two-Lane Livin’ (“Your Home Grown Guide to Simple Living”) that we used to start camp fires. Needless to say, I saw a lot more about making apple butter than I did about the state of Machine of Death submissions.

When I left at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning, there were something like 850 submissions. When I got back a few hours ago, there were well over 1200. And I mean well over. When I got the final estimates from Ryan and David, I was pretty blown away. We’ll share a final, clean number (as well as other interesting info) as soon as it’s available. But for right now, everybody can take a couple deep breaths. You deserve them.

Clearly there were lots and lots of people who didn’t want to miss out on being considered for the second volume, and that’s amazing and flattering and humbling. It’s a huge thrill for us to know that so many people want to be involved with a project we love so much! But although this is the finish for you guys, it’s really the start for us. We want to give all these submissions the attention they deserve, so we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. Fun, engaging, one-of-a-kind work that we wouldn’t trade for anything… But, yes, still work. So how can you help us now?

Let your story speak for itself as it is! It’s natural to want your story to be the best that it can be. But the deadline has passed, so we ask that you don’t send us new versions with corrected typos. Just like everybody else, you worked very hard on your story. And just like everybody else, your story isn’t perfect. We know that, and it’s okay. It creates a lot of extra work for us if there are multiple versions of a story in our inbox. So please trust us to judge your story on its merits, and not on its proofreading.

Only query if you have reason to believe something has gone wrong. If you have reason to believe we haven’t gotten your story (for instance, if your email program told you that your submission wasn’t delivered) then please query us and we’ll sort out what happened. But if you just want to double check, then we’d ask you first to take a couple more deep breaths. Ask yourself if you’re querying about a real problem or just an imaginary fear. As much as we love hearing from our writers and fans, our time is better reading your stories and dealing with real problems.

A note about the auto-responder: We set up an auto-responder to send an automatic answer to every submission. A lot of people didn’t get this response. That doesn’t mean we didn’t get your story — it probably just means the auto-responder was clogged up. We’ve checked up on several people so far who were concerned when they didn’t get an auto-responder email. We had every single one of the stories safe and sound. So again, we ask that you only query if you have positive evidence that there might be a problem!

And please, be patient! The earliest that we’ll be responding to anybody about the status of their story is October. If you don’t hear anything before October 31 — that’s totally normal. But if November 1 rolls around and you haven’t heard anything… First, check your spam folder. Second, make sure you’re checking the same email account that you provided us on your submission. Third, check this website for any updates in case we changed the notification deadline. If we have, then continue to be patient. In other words: please don’t query about the status of your story until you are SURE that you should have heard something.

Check this website for new information. Folks have also been asking if the number of submissions we’ve received means that anything different might happen. We don’t know yet! We haven’t made any decisions — this just happened a couple days ago. But we will always update on this site if any of our plans change. So if you’re curious about the future of Machine of Death, then please keep checking www.machineofdeath.net. There will be lots more to share with you over the coming months!

Keep the creativity flowing! We think it’s amazing that so many people want to be involved with Machine of Death — and some folks have even been asking us if there will be a third volume. That’s something else we don’t know yet. We have lots and lots to do before we make that decision. But there are hundreds of other anthologies and magazines and websites all looking for submissions right now. Now that you’ve got your creative juices flowing — go find them! It makes waiting all the easier if you’ve got another project to be excited about in the meantime!