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.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

That's a record.

When it comes to submissions, the slowest are essentially open-ended, because you will find magazines that never get back to you. I once sent a story to Weird Tales and never heard back at all. I've had one story THAT WAS ULTIMATELY PUBLISHED take a year to get a response on. (I had crossed it off my submissions log.)
I DO have a new record for the fastest response - last night I sent a story to Neo-Opsis (a new market for me) at about 11 p.m. I found the rejection in my e-mail when I got to work at 8 a.m.
I've had some electronic rejections take as little as 24 hours in the past, but this is a record!
I went to the post office this afternoon and bought some IRCs (they had to order them especially for me). The next story I send to Neo-Opsis is going postal. Reject that overnight! HAH!

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

What's Floating Out There...

After working all weekend to get caught up on submissions, I think as of today I have 20 spinning around. I got two back yesterday from Sheila Williams at Asimov's. I haven't seen today's mail.

I sent one off to ASIM, and also asked if the publication of "The Cast Iron Dybbuk" is on track. Zara Baxter said the editor for that issue (ASIM uses different editors for different issues) should be getting things together in March for that June issue.

I've gotten 2,400 words written since Saturday on a completely new story. I also did a major rewrite on an old one called "The Queen of Guilty Pleasures".

Friday, January 14, 2005

The return of John Travers

BTW, "Double Crossing the Styx" features the same character, John Travers, who is in the story "I Got You" that was published by Bewildering Stories in May 2004.

"Styx" is a prequel, however. It's clear from a reference to his upcoming posting to the Starship Jarvinen that it takes place before the events of "I Got You" - insofar as "I Got You" takes place on the Jarvinen and the story ends with the Jarvinen's destruction.

I got two acceptances today via e-mail. Jerry Wright at Bewildering Stories has picked up "Won't You Come Home, Bill Buckley?", and Jayme Blaschke at RevolutionSF has accepted "Dialogue".

And "Dialogue" is a prequel to the first story I ever had published at RevSF, "Silvern", which ran in June 2003. Blaschke noticed that.

I have to cover a pair of basketball games in a city 45 miles away. Yesterday morning my pickup got stuck in the mud in my yard when I was leaving for work, and I had some trouble getting it going. I had to place boards under the back wheels. While stumbling around the truck, I twisted my knee in the soft mud.
I'm really having trouble getting around, and I also have to cover an athletic event Saturday, a power-lifting meet.


Thursday, January 13, 2005

Nice Year So Fasr

Well, 2005 has gotten off to a fairly good start. I left 2004 with three checks all due to me - and they've all come in.
I got a small check from Alienskin mag for the flash piece, "They Call It Time", right after New Year, on Jan. 3. My check from Asimov's for the story they're running later this year. "A Rocket for the Republic", arrived last Saturday, Jan. 8. And I got the check from Continuum for my story, "Double Crossing the Styx", yesterday (Wednesday, Jan. 12).
All three payments are "firsts" of a kind. The Alienskin payment is the first money I ever got for a story, period The Asimov's check is the first pro payment. The Continuum piece is the first story that's actually debuted in a print publication.
Total for all three: $265. Unfortunately, I had to use some of the money to visit a local doctor on Tuesday. I had a cold starting in December, and by the new year I think the cold pretty much cleared up, but I'm afraid it left behind some respiratory irritation.
Monday while I was having lunch with my wife, I started to choke while I was talking, like I was having throat and chest spasms. That night when I came home after shooting a basketball game, I had a vicious coughing fit there I almost had trouble breathing.
I saw the doctor Tuesday morning. The diagnosis is bronchitis. He have me antibiotics and said I should still take my regular cold medicine.
I need to get back to writing, I've got story ideas and outlines piling up.
Continuum sent three authors' copies of the magazine - first time I've seen that.
Hopefully the antibiotics will clear the chest up and I'll be back to my old cantankerous self soon.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Getting All Caught Up

Wow, I haven't had a chance to update this blog since Christmas Eve. But when you're really busy, you just have to set priorities and let some things drop.
Needless to say, like with so many people, there's a lot of planning to do in conjunction with Christmas. Things were especially strained this year because Patricia sprained her back around the middle of the month. It was touch and go whether she'd have to go see a doctor. The crisis passed, but not without a lot of rest, with the result that I had to finish the Christmas shopping. I got the last of the presents bought on the Monday before Christmas. (Remember, the nearest shopping mall is 45 miles away in Tyler).
Patricia was able to wrap all the gifts up, and I got them to the local office supply store by the Thursday before Christmas - not quite in time to get there by Christmas Day, but close enough. I was happy we came as close as we did, all things considered.
We spent the Christmas weekend visiting; her mother on Christmas Day, and her father Dec. 26 (her parents are divorced). Mom lives in Dallas and dad lives in Cedar Hill. We drove the round trip both days - over 400 miles. Again, a lot of work - but worth it.
Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to take much of a break. The local basketball teams played in a tournament Monday through Wednesday after Christmas in a town 85 miles away. I had to make the round trip 3 days in a row. I did have Thursday off, and then had more games to cover Friday (New Year's Eve).
At midnight, I had to attend the swearing-in of the new county sheriff. Boy, was I wiped New Year's Day!
After all this hustle and bustle and running around, I got pretty run down and have been battling the flu ever since. Of course, this is the time of the year when lots of people have the flu - but I guess I'm frustrated because I know I pretty much had it coming because of the pace I've had to keep up.
Have there been any science fiction developments recently? Well, Monday I got a check for $5 from Alienskin magazine for my flash piece they ran, "They Call It Time". Not much, but note: It's the first actual payment I have ever gotten for a story! I photocopies the check before I cashed it, and used it to buy a frozen pizza and a TV dinner. So there!
Bill Rupp at Continuum Science Fiction says they should have the fall 2004 issue printed by now (running a little late, but that's par for the course for these small publications). The table of contents is up on his web site. My story, "Double Crossing the Styx", is listed. If and when I get a copy of the magazine, it will mark my first ink and paper publication. Another small check should be on the way.
Referring back to those basketball games, I DID have time between games to scribble notes and outlines in a pad, so I did get some science fiction work done. I worked up a full 2-page outline for a story idea I've been kicking around for a while, "The Devil Woman of Mars vs. the P.A.R.T.Y. Animals of Texas " (P.A.R.T.Y. standing for Provisional Army - Republic of Texas Youth). Something screwball and cowpunk and fun.
Otherwise, the only thing I've written recently was that story "Rockets and Reindeer" I posted on Christmas Eve. I just about did it to keep in shape because I knew I would have a fallow period here.
Well, I have to work on some other submissions. Oh, by the way, today's my birthday. I'm 48.

Whatever happened to that old Sunbelt?

By LOU ANTONELLI Managing Editor It’s rained almost daily for the past four months. The ground is saturated; walking across grass is lik...