This feeling is indescribable. A story of mine, “The Frontman’s Journey,” is now published and available in both print and digital versions in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. An excerpt is available at AHMM’s site.
That publication, along with Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, are the gold standards of short mystery fiction. I’ve been sending stories to both magazines for nearly 30 years. The clear lessons for every writer who feels that the ultimate goal is to be traditionally published:
1) Never give up.
2) Be open to criticism. Get a beta reader who is interested in your writing (not always the case in workshops) and who isn’t afraid to give you an honest opinion. My highly-trusted beta reader needed only to say one word to make me do some rethinking: “Ack!” But be able to listen to your instincts and heart enough to know when to take a critique to heart, and when to thank the critic but do your own thing anyway.
3) Be willing to put the work into it. The creative part is fun. The honing, shaping, and umpteenth revision are not. Not for me, anyway.
4) Never give up. And I repeat,
5) Never give up.