Monthly Archives: August 2008

Another Rejection, Another Submission.

That was a fast turnaround; TTB got its third rejection yesterday (no personal comments), less than 24 hours after it was submitted. I’ve sent it on to its next potential home already, which will probably have a somewhat longer turnaround time. Ah, well.  The Democratic National Convention played havoc with my writing this week, but at least I got the story out for consideration.  Twice.

So how about you?  What have you got outstanding, sitting in a slush pile?  How long has it been out there?


Oh, Wow.

I don’t have anything particularly intelligent to say about Barack Obama’s speech. Just, wow.

Start the Clock, Again.

I just submitted TTB to an online, semi-pro market; it’s just too long for most of the online markets that pay professional (SFWA) rates.  This particular market has published some terrific stories by new authors and award-winners; it is also known for a quick turnaround, so I’ll probably get an answer soon.

Excuse Me While I Take Another Vivarin.

While I was on vacation, Mike over at Everything Under the Sun gave me his “Time Management Award” as part of his response to Karen’s Weekend Assignment #228:  Design an Award.  This is proof positive that Mike and I have never met in real life.

Thanks, Mike!

Summer Sunday Stats #3

Summer Sunday Stats for today:

Miles run today: 10.05, in 1:30:45. I could feel the exhaustion in my legs before I’d gone half a mile, and it never really got better. I think it was from the TKD test yesterday — we had class first, cut a little short but still 45 minutes, and then the test was surprisingly intense (I have a couple of nice bruises on my shin from the sparring). Still, it was the longest run I’ve had in four weeks, and with the Chicago Half Marathon in three weeks and the World Wide Half Marathon a few weeks after that (not to mention the marathon at the beach in late November, not that I’ve decided anything, but still…), I need to get the long runs in more consistently.

Weather: Sunny and warm, but not too hot, even though I didn’t leave the house until after 9am. As perfect a day for a long run as you could ask for in August in Chicago. It would have been even better if I’d worn sunscreen.

What was playing on my iPod: I Should Be Writing #96, followed by Phedippidations #147. Mur Lafferty (ISBW’s host) is promoting her very cool superhero novel, Playing for Keeps, which is being published by Swarm Press. It’s already available on, but the official launch date is tomorrow (Aug. 25), and she’s asking anyone interesting in buying it to order it tomorrow on Amazon to move it up the Amazon charts. Other podcasting novelists, such as Scott Sigler and Matthew Wayne Selznick, have done this kind of Amazon run with some success, so first thing tomorrow, you know I’ll be on Amazon ordering my copy of PFK. Mur podcast Playing for Keeps earlier this year, and also released it as a series of PDFs; if you want to see what you’ll be getting, Mur has re-released the PDF (along with a new bonus short story in the same universe) in time for the launch of the print edition, and you can get it here. I originally read PFK in the PDF version, and I’m looking forward to re-reading it as a bound book; I’m mentioning it here because I’ve gotten a lot of inspiration from I Should Be Writing, and want to pay it back.

Words of Meet the Larssons written this week: 2,941 (up to today). That number surprised me when I added it up, but I think it’s correct. It’s been a decent week for writing, and I expect to get more done once school starts — on Wednesday for Unfocused Junior, and on Sept. 2 for Unfocused Girl (at The New School) — and they start going to bed at a reasonable hour again.

Other news: Junior’s cast came off on Friday! He’s a little nervous about the arm, but he has started wearing his Superman costume again, which is a terrific sign of normalcy (he wouldn’t wear it with the cast, because Superman would never have a broken arm, of course).

Finally, while I’m talking about new books, I should mention that John Scalzi’s latest sf novel, Zoe’s Tale, was released on Tuesday. I bought it that day and finished it Wednesday night, because Unfocused Girl was breathing down my neck to get her hands on it (those of you who know her will understand). It retells the events in his previous novel, The Last Colony, from the point of view of a 17-year-old girl, and is can be read as part of the Old Man’s War series or as a stand-alone novel. Not that Scalzi really needs my help promoting it, but I really enjoyed it. I think Unfocused Girl will, too, although now that she actually has it, she wants to finish the books she’s already working on first, including one of the Warriors novels and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; my guess is that she’ll finish the Warriors book and then start Zoe’s Tale, without worrying about finishing anything else, but we’ll see.

Unfocused Girl is working on her novel, The Adventure Friends and the Sword of Destiny, and just asked me if I was working on my novel, too.  That’s a reminder that instead of dragging out this post all afternoon, I should be writing.

Summer Vacation Stats, Part 2.

Freshhell reminded me about They Might Be Giants’ “813 Mile Car Trip.” Here it is, in all its puppetoliciousness:

We sang that song a lot during our drive.

Our Tae Kwon Do yellow belt test is over. I passed outright — it’s the third time I’ve earned my yellow belt in TKD in the last 15 years, so I would have had no excuse for failing. Our instructor wants Unfocused Girl to redo self defense technique number 3 in the first class of the next session; a lot of the white belt kids have to redo even more of the test, so that isn’t bad. She knows the technique; to the extent she flubbed it during the test, I think it was just a combination of nerves and a partner (a kid from a different class) who didn’t know what he was doing. She’ll nail it at the next class and get her yellow belt, too. I think this is the first time she’s really had to work hard over time to achieve something, and she did a great job.

Back to the stats:

Number of years in a row the Atlantic Ocean has tried to take my son on our last day at the beach: 2. This year, I carried junior out into the water about up to my waist, past what had been, for most of the previous 11 days, past the break point. I misjudged it, and we were right where the waves curl over and start to crash down. I saw a big one coming, started back to the sand, and held Junior up to keep his head above water. Big mistake. When the wave came, I was already off balance, and got knocked over, and I lost my grip on Junior. It only took me a few seconds to find him in floating in the water and grab him, but it really shook me up. He handled it well, though, and wanted to go back in soon after.

And yes, Unfocused Junior was able to play in the sand and go into the water, even with his cast. We used a terrific cast cover, and while it meant he couldn’t use his right hand for much, he still had a lot of beachy fun. It also forced us to try a few things in the area other than the beach, so that he wasn’t wearing the cover every day, which was neat.

And finally, the running.

Miles run during vacation: 38, including five training runs of 6.1, 6.64, 5.23, 7.71, and 6.11 miles, respectively, and two 5K races (3.1 miles each). My goal here was to do well enough in one of the 5Ks to win an age group medal; these are small races, and it isn’t as though any of us are truly elite runners, so I thought I had a shot. In the first race (the first Sunday of our vacation, after we’d been there a week), last summer I was seventh in my age group; this year I came in fourth. There was a rainstorm during the race which slowed everybody down, so while my time was a little slower than last year’s, I don’t think it helped or hurt my relative showing.

In the second race, the morning of the day we left the beach, I used some strategery. It was a combined 5K and 10K; last year, I ran the 10K. These races are part of a series; for the people who are at the beach all summer, there is one race each weekend for eleven weeks, and the people who run them all are ranked for the whole series. If you’re competing in the series, you have to run the 10K, and of the three guys in my age group who finished ahead of me in the first race, two of them were definitely competing in the series.

I, of course, ran the 5K. My plan worked, and even though I came in one second slower than my 5K PR, I won my age group, the first time I’ve ever won any kind of athletic competition. Apparently, the secret is finding a race that the really fast people aren’t running. I didn’t get any better; I just arranged it so my competition was worse. I’m not complaining, and a win is a win and I feel pretty damn good about it, but I can’t pretend it’s because all of the sudden I got so much better.

Yes, I’m bragging. Sorry; I’m still a little giddy. I wore the medal (over the race t-shirt) for the first 200 or so miles on the drive home before I put it away. Next year, Unfocused Girl wants to run one of the 5Ks with me; we’ll have to work on her endurance, but it’ll be a lot of fun. Meantime, the local running store at the beach is sponsoring a marathon on the Saturday before Thanksgiving…

Summer Vacation Stats, Part 1.

Unfocused Girl and I are testing for our yellow belts in Tae Kwon Do this morning, so I may have to split this post in two to get something up before we head out. Seems reasonable, since I’m covering a two-week vacation.

Number of days of vacation, departure to return: 16

Number of those days spent traveling or preparing for travel (packing, closing up the house, etc.): 4. We drove to the beach this year, ignoring the conventional wisdom to leave early by leaving late and driving into the night. We weren’t comfortable trying to do the entire 813-mile route all in one day this year; next year, we will. The kids will be a little older and better able to handle it, and we’ll be more confident ourselves. We also used one of our own cars, Mrs. Unfocused’s Mercury Sable, instead of renting a minivan, which is what we did the last time we drove. It wasn’t as comfortable, but it was about $1000 cheaper just by saving the rental, not to mention the better gas mileage from the sedan.

Number of dishwashers at our family beach house: 2 — Mrs. Unfocused and me.

Number of days spent practicing Tae Kwon Do:  almost all of them.  We bought a couple of gym mats and hauled out our pads.  Taking a two-week vacation right before our test could have really blown our chances of passing, but we worked pretty hard, especially Unfocused Girl.  No guarantees, but I’m confident we’ll both do well.

Breaking News!  It’s Joe Biden!  GREAT choice for veep!

Okay, more about me.  Where was I?

Number of words of Meet the Larssons written: 1898.  It’s not quite what I had planned, but I had a lot of things I wanted to do, and the vacation was about spending time with my family, not hiding in a cave by myself to write.  Also, the beach house doesn’t have a cave.  I’ve written more since.

The running stats will have to wait for after the test.

We’re Back.

We got home from the beach Sunday night; overall, it was a great vacation. I’m trying (not terribly successfully) to get my head back into my job. I’ll post in detail over the weekend.

Chillin’ at the Beach.

We got here Sunday night after 13 hours of driving, split over Saturday and Sunday. The kids were great, even though we skipped renting a minivan and did the trip in Mrs. Unfocused’s Sable. We went to the beach with our friends the S family yesterday, and went hiking with them in the state park this afternoon. We got a little turned around, so our hike was about an hour longer than we planned, but everyone handled it well.

I got in a six mile run this morning, mostly on the boardwalk, before the heat went from hot to brutal. I’m registered for a 5K here this weekend, so I’d better get used to the heat.

So far I’ve spent less than an hour each day on my Blackberry or on the phone, which has been very, very pleasant. I wrote 723 words of Meet the Larssons yesterday, and 361 words tonight, so I feel like I’m getting the novel back on track.

But the coolest thing is that this afternoon, the martial arts mats we ordered arrived. Unfocused Girl and I are testing for our yellow belts the Saturday after we get home, so I promised her we would practice while we’re here. We brought pads and plastic rebreakable boards with us from home, and ordered two 4-by-8 mats from a nearly manufacturer, and set them up on the screened-in porch in back. The Unfocused Do Jhang is open for business. Unfocused Girl has a wicked roundhouse kick, but for the test, she needs to break her board with a side kick, which she finds much harder to execute. We’ll practice kicks and forms and the other components of the test every day while we’re here.

It’s a little different vacation than we usually have, but all in a good way.

Going on Vacation!

I’ve been pretty silent this past week, and with good reason: we’re going on vacation, and we’ve been knocking ourselves out getting other things done so we can go on the trip. At the office, I moved a lot of backed-up projects off the dime, and at home, the Mrs. and I were up until 3am taming the paper monster. We won, but not without cost.

Junior got his new, smaller, lighter, waterproof cast today – he picked orange, a color he has never expressed any interest in before, which is odd. The docs were concerned about our impending departure for the beach, since the cast isn’t sandproof, but it’s too late now — they should’ve said something four weeks ago, when the Mrs. first told them about the trip. We’ll have to make do with the cast cover and cross our fingers the kid doesn’t get sand in his cast — I can’t imagine anything too much worse.

Finally, “Test Tube Beneficairies” has earned its second rejection slip. It came in yesterday; I was glad to have the response before our trip. I don’t think I’m going to bother sending it to the third of the major SF magazines, since it really doesn’t seem like the editor’s kind of thing. Instead, it’s time to start looking at on-line markets. There are a few paying markets that will take a 13,000 word submission; if none of those pan out, well, I’ll just have to see.

Vacation! Whoo-hoo!