Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Books, galleys and outlines

Went to The Book Barn in Longview Saturday - it's a nice second-hand book store (there's no Half Price Books that I know of in East Texas).
I've been there before, but my wife hadn't. She was a little dubious, but as it turned out, she found a bunch of children's books she can use (she's an early childhood education major at Texas A&M-Commerce). She was very happy.
I picked up a good selection: "Tau Zero" by Poul Anderson, "To Sail Beyond the Sunset" by Robert Heinlein (I had this book once, but it got wet and ruined in storage), "Stand on Zanzibar" by John Brunner (I tried to read this book when I was 12, but just couldn't make it), and Arthur C. Clarke's autobiography "Astounding Days".
We later went to the Longview Books a Million. My wife wanted to go because there were some new books she was interested in. I couldn't think of any new release I wanted, but I was somewhat surprised to see Gardner's 20 year compilation "The Best of the Best" anthology on the shelf. It has a publication date of February 2005 and the earliest date I had seen for its release was Jan. 25. Insofar as Saturday was Jan. 22 I was surprised to find it; BAM must have put their copy on the shelf as soon as it arrived.
Of course, I snatched it right up. Saturday night I was on the Asimov's discussion board and Gardner mentioned the book was due out any time now. I posted that I had just picked up my copy. Someone else also later said they found it at their local BAM. They must have put their books right out when they got them.
Anyway, its right up on my shelf now with my other YBSFs.
Sunday I wrote 1,940 words of the first draft of a new story, "The Dragon's Puzzle Box". It's plot is tangential to the story told in "The Cast Iron Dybbuk", the story that ASIM has bought to run this summer.
It's probably 2/3 through. I had to stop and outline the ending. Monday morning I had to cover a meeting that was interrupted for an executive session. I put the time in the hallway to use tweaking that outline.
At any given time I have stories in all stages of development. I have stories ranging in completion from finished first draft to only the first paragraph. I seem to work best when I take a story, mix it up, and then leave it aside to rise for a while - like sourdough.
The story I sold to Asimov's, "A Rocket for the Republic", had three months between finished first draft and completion. One big reason for that was that I moved and changed jobs in the interim. But when I finally finished the story, I did think it had come out pretty good. I remember thinking when I dropped it in the mail, "this is my best shot so far for Gardner." And of course, he did accept it.
I have one story, "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes", that's been sitting in a first draft form 4 1/2 months. But it's time travel and alternate history - two of the hardest things to sell - so I thought I'd give it the longest time to rise.
I should have been a baker, I guess.
Monday I got the galley for "Rocket" in the mail from Asimov's. I've laid it aside to look at over the weekend. I don't have to have it back to the magazine until Feb. 11, so I've got time.
Right now I have 21 stories in 21 slush piles. That's a lot of sourdough.

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This is one of my best ever alternate histories.