Monthly Archives: May 2008

I’m a Real Writer Now.

I’m a real writer now because in today’s mail, I received my first rejection slip in 16 years. TTB was turned down by the first place I sent it. It was a very nice rejection: no specific comments, but it wasn’t a total form rejection, either.

I have to say that I’m impressed by the turnaround time. I mailed a 63-page manuscript on May 12, and the editor mailed the rejection on May 28. The guidelines said eight weeks, but it was more like two.

I’m neither surprised nor too unhappy about the rejection.  I don’t enjoy rejection, but it’s the first submission of my first complete work of fiction in 16 years — what do you think I expected to happen?

I’m going to do what I did when I got my first rejection slip on the first story I ever submitted:  turn it around and send it back out on Monday to another of the Big Three magazines, and while it’s out, I’ll review the research I’ve done on potential markets. The concern I have is that it may not be science fiction enough for the skiffy markets, but too genre for the non-genre markets.

Anyway, thanks to all of you who wrote to express your good wishes when I sent it out into the world. I’ll mail it out again on Monday, and let you all know what happens.

In other news, I know I haven’t posted much, and I owe Freshhell a response to her meme. I’ve been traveling for work and generally knocking myself out, so I haven’t had much time for discretionary writing. I hope to get more done this weekend and next week.


Skipping the Solider Field 10-Miler.

The Solider Field 10-Miler started half an hour ago, and I’m not there.  A couple of days ago, I made the decision to skip it.

First, last Saturday everyone was dragging, so we blew off Family Tae Kwon Do.  Unfocused GIrl is hoping to test for her yellow belt at the end of this session, and missing two classes in a row would almost guarantee that she wouldn’t be ready.

Second, I’m not ready for the race.  I could have run it anyway and treated it as a training run, but I wouldn’t have been racing, so what’s the point of blowing up our Saturday morning routine?  I’ll run 10 miles tomorrow, and find a Sunday race.  The North Shore Half Marathon is coming up in a few weeks, and I may run that.  I ran it last year; it’s a very nice course.

Rapture Ready.

An old friend of mine from high school, Daniel Radosh, has a new book out. Rapture Ready is described (on the website for the book) as:

Written with the perfect blend of amusement and respect, Rapture Ready! is an insightful, entertaining, and deeply weird journey through the often hidden world of Christian pop culture. This vast and influential subculture — a $7 billion industry and growing — can no longer be ignored by anyone who wants to understand the social, spiritual and political aspirations of evangelical Christians.

One section of the book appears to be based on an article in The New Yorker that Daniel wrote, profiling Tammy Bakker’s son, who is now a minister himself, albeit with a style that’s very different from what you’ll remember about his parents. It was a nicely balanced piece, not a hatchet job by a long shot, but Daniel didn’t suck up to his subject, either.

I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m about to order it on Amazon, and you can, too. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Thanks to Squidocto at Muss My Hair for cluing me in.

In Which I Set a Bad Example.

I have corrupted my children.

Unfocused Girl came home from school the other day and announced that she is writing a novel.

Junior immediately said that he had written a book, too, and showed it to us: small pieces of paper, covered in his crayon drawings, stapled together on the side.

Unfocused Girl has the higher word count (technically, Junior doesn’t have any “words” in his book at all, but I’m not going to nitpick), with several handwritten pages under her belt. UG’s WIP is about The Adventure Friends and the Sword of Destiny, called, appropriately enough, “The Adventure Friends and the Sword of Destiny.” I’ve read the first two chapters, and they’re quite good. It is “about a journey to find true peace for the school,” says UG. From what I’ve read so far, true peace comes through a large, jeweled sword.

“It doesn’t come through the large, jeweled sword,” UG says. “It just helped us find what really gives us true peace.”

I have no idea where this is going. Tune in again for further updates. I was kind of rooting for the sword, though, in a “Peace through Strength” sort of way. A “Pax Amici Audacis,” imposed by the Adventure Friends on the other students, but it looks like UG is planning to go in a different direction.

What Two Days Worth of Slush Looks Like.

I’m still nosing around at the editors’ blog at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s website. This post is a little stale, but still interesting: it’s a picture of two days’ worth of slush submissions.

Somewhere, in a stack that looks just like that, sits TTB. And, if you’ve submitted anything as a hardcopy recently, there sits your story, too.

Dialogue Contest!

Because he is a masochist, blogging agent Nathan Bransford is holding a contest: post up to 250 words of dialogue and related description in the comments to the post before 5pm Pacific time on Wednesday, May 21, 2008. Nathan is the sole judge. Fame and fabulous prizes await the winner of (insert trumpet fanfare here):

The Preposterously Magnificent Dialogue Challenge

I’ve already posted my entry. I believe it’s comment no. 118. Nathan’s going to have a lot of reading to do.

Spring Sunday Stats, #2

The kids are in the tub, so I only have a few minutes to post before someone starts crying or splashing (or spitting water onto someone else’s butt — sorry for the interruption).

Weather: Sunny and cool (around 55 at 11am when I went out for a run). Gusts blowing west from the lake down Irving Park Road like a wind tunnel.

Miles run: 9.74, in 1:30:31. That’s slow for me, even these days, and I’m not sure why. I got a lot of sleep, had a decent breakfast, and felt pretty good, but I just didn’t have any speed in me today. The Solider Field 10-Miler is next Saturday, and I am not anticipating a PR. I’m hoping to do better than I did today, though.

What I played on my iPod during my run: I Should Be Writing #90, Geek Fu Action Grip Morning Show Lite After Dark #12, and Phedippidations #140 — yes, it was a Mostly Mur run.

Words written on Meet the Larssons: 2,220! That takes me over 75K, to 75,945 words. For the first weekend in quite a while, I took a significant chuck of time and sat my butt in front of the MacBook and just wrote. For about two hours, I turned off my internet connection, shut down Mail and Firefox and any application other than Scrivener and iTunes, played tunes from a large mixed playlist I have of songs I know well enough that they can serve as background music (mostly 70s and 80s supergroups like Styx and Rush, lots and lots of Zevon, some Johnny Cash and Jimmy Buffett for variety), and just wrote. I got up once to use the bathroom, and once to put on socks because my feet were cold, but otherwise stayed planted in the chair. It felt damn good. Mrs. Unfocused took the kids out for most of the day, so I had time to get in my run, do some work for my paying job, and still do solid time on the novel. She’s a saint.

All that, and two blog posts. I feel productive as hell. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have children to wash.

Hatin’ the Slope? Really?

In high school, I had a button I used to wear pinned to my long black overcoat (and yes, I am thankful every day that I graduated high school long before high school students were profiled as dangerous for wearing too much black) that read “I am now the person I swore I’d never become.” I wore it with a sense of what I believed to be subtle irony, because I was, y’know, in high school; when did I swear not to become a science fiction-reading, angst-ridden, Pink Floyd-quoting high school student, third grade?

I wore that button, along with half a bottle of hair gel and my Chuckie-Ts, to an eighties-themed benefit last year, and it was neither subtle nor ironic; I am, in fact, the person I swore I’d never become: a suit-wearing, mortgage-paying, big firm lawyer. But I’m also pretty happy with the way things have turned out – the wife, the kids, the house, the neighborhood, even the job (most of the time) — which leads to the inescapable conclusion that when I was 16, I didn’t know jack shit. Big surprise: 16-year-old boy generally clueless. Alert the media.

I’m reminiscing about my misspent youth because of an article in this morning’s paper. Apparently, everyone in New York hates my old neighborhood. At least, that’s the premise of an article in today’s New York Times, Park Slope: Where Is the Love? (Only in the Times; anyone else would have said, “Where’s the Love?” but it seems the NYT hates contractions almost as much as New Yorkers hate the Slope.) According to the article, Park Slope — so named because it is the neighborhood downhill from Brooklyn’s Prospect Park — has been taken over by obnoxious yuppies and stroller pushing, latte drinking, tavern invading mothers.

I don’t pretend to understand how this is different from any other upscale neighborhood in post-Giuliani New York, but I haven’t lived there (except for a couple of summers during college) in 20 years, so what do I know? What I do know is that darn near anybody — even me, at age 16 — could have looked at the changes in the neighborhood from 1976, when I moved to 6th Street, to 1985, when I turned 16, and predicted at least some of what’s happened to the ‘hood. By 1985, every block on Seventh Avenue (the main commercial strip, at least then) had a storefront real estate agency, and every other block had a little grocery store with a salad bar. The Associated supermarket hadn’t yet converted to a D’agostino’s, but you just knew something like it was coming. An upmarket pizza place opened up — I think it was called The Berkeley Kitchen — and was definitely a step above the other local pizza joints (it closed within a year or two; it seemed mysterious at the time, but the restaurant business ain’t easy, so there was probably nothing sinister about it). And then, there was the fern bar. Goddamn fern bar.

Look, we were teenagers. The number of neighborhood bars that would let us in could be counted on one finger of one hand, and that was because most nights we were the only customers. We never had more than a beer or two, because the woman who owned the place was nice, if a little dotty, and we didn’t want to abuse her hospitality; she probably wouldn’t have sold us any more than that, anyway, but I don’t think anyone ever pushed the issue.

But back to the fern bar. I think it was on the corner of Union Street and Seventh Ave., and I can’t for the life of me remember what was there before then, but around 1985 some bozo opened up a fancy-looking bar with great big ferns, in planters, visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Words like “yuppie scum” were tossed around a lot in the mid-eighties, and they were used in connection with the bar. My little group of friends vowed we would never patronize the soul-sucking place, and as far as I know, none of us ever did. I don’t even know whether it’s still around.

So we could have predicted the yuppie takeover of the Slope. I don’t know how bad that is; I understand that there are some excellent restaurants on Fifth Avenue now; Fifth was a commercial wasteland when I was a kid. I’m sure a lot of the grittiness I remember is long gone, but I was mugged a couple of times as a teenager, and if Park Slope has benefited from the general decline in crime in New York, that’s nothing to be sorry for.

I don’t get back to Brooklyn much. My mother moved out of the city back in 1999, and my father’s place is too small for us to stay in, so when we get to town for a social visit, we stay at a hotel in Manhattan; prices being what they are, we haven’t done that in a while. I’d like to go back there sometime soon and show the kids around. I just won’t take them to the fern bar.

Such a Deal!

I get an offer, and I pass the savings on to YOU!

Last week, I saw on the editor’s blog at The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction that they were giving copies of the June issue to bloggers in exchange for a commitment to blog about it. I sent an email asking to participate, but they ran out of copies (I was three or four days late, apparently). The next day, I received the following email:

Dear Sir or Madam:

Recently you contacted us about our free issue offer for bloggers. Unfortunately, we ran out of the promotional copies before you contacted us.

If you’d still like to give our magazine a try, we have arranged a special promotion for you. For bloggers only, we have posted a special discount subscription offer. Here are links to the offer:

Regular offer:


This offer is available ONLY through these links and we have not published the links elsewhere. But if you like the magazine, please feel free to put these links in your blogs so as to extend the offer to people who read your blogs.

This is a limited time offer and when it ends, it will not be available again.

So there you go. Looks to me like the one-year rate is about seven bucks less than the usual subscription rate. If you like your science fiction printed on dead trees and delivered to your door by a human, this may be the deal for you.

I haven’t decided whether or not to take advantage of it myself. It was only last summer that I was able to part with the ginormous moving box full of science fiction magazines from the years I subscribed to the Big Three, 1985 through around 1995. Mrs. Unfocused would not, I think, take kindly to me starting the collection all over again. But it is a tempting offer…

I’ve Got No Mail!

Technically, that isn’t true.  Two bills, three catalogs, one magazine, and several random flyers were delivered to our mailbox today.  But no response to TTB.

It’s going to be a long eight weeks.