Tag Archives: fiction

A Viral Tale of Revenge! Or Whatever.

Freshhell tagged me for a viral story, and I’m going to tag some of you. Before we get to my contribution, I’ve cut an pasted the rules and the story so far, with links to the participating authors.

The Rules:

Here’s what I would like to do. I want to create a story that branches out in a variety of different, unexpected ways. I don’t know how realistic it is, but that’s what I’m aiming for. Hopefully, at least one thread of the story can make a decent number of hops before it dies out.

If you are one of the carriers of this story virus (i.e. you have been tagged and choose to contribute to it), you will have one responsibility, in addition to contributing your own piece of the story: you will have to tag at least one person that continues your story thread. So, say you tag five people. If four people decide to not participate, it’s okay, as long as the fifth one does. And if all five participate, well that’s five interesting threads the story spins off into.

Not a requirement, but something your readers would appreciate: to help people trace your own particular thread of the narrative, it will be helpful if you include links to the chapters preceding yours.”

The Story:

The ground crunched beneath my feet. Besides my noisy footsteps, I heard only the sound of the gentle crackling fire behind me. Its faint orange light lazily revealed my immediate surroundings. Beyond the glow, there was total blackness. I whistled. I took the small rock I had been carrying and whipped it away from me, expecting a thud, crack or plop — but a soft yelp of a cry answered. (Splotchy)

“Crap! I forgot all about Monster,” I realized. “I must be drunker than I thought,” I spoke aloud to no one in particular, though an owl answered my drunken slur. Ever since my neighbors have been giving me grief for the way Monster chases their cats and poops in their lawn, I haven’t felt comfortable staying in my house. I’m pretty sure my landlady is thinking about evicting me, so I’ve decided to lay low for a while.

To the surprise of no one… (Freida Bee)

The night turned darker. A storm blew in. It was, in fact, a dark and stormy night. Too drunk to worry about Monster’s rock-inflicted head wound, I stumbled back to the campfire, where I found the ghosts of John Fante and Charles Bukowski roasting hot dogs, drinking whiskey and singing sad songs about women. The ghost of Fante whispered in my ear, tales of love and loss, and I found myself walking slowly down the trail to the river, where I suddenly found myself…(Lass)

Falling down an embankment. Instead of rolling into the river, I landed on what felt like a raft. I crawled around it, the storm pelting down on me, adhering my thin clothes to my body like a second, very wet, skin, and discovered that it was indeed a raft. I could feel the huge humps of the logs (smooth and barkless, unlike Monster, the cur!) that had been lashed together with a waxy hemp. A pretty decent job, from the looks of it. Not that I could see anything; the storm had rendered the night blacker than the farthest corner of a monster-filled closet. If I could find where it was tethered to the shore, I could cut it loose, leave this place and all these drunken hallucinations for good. Hell, I could even…..(FreshHell)

My bit:

… wreak my terrible vengeance on the people who had forced me into hiding in this crummy town, so small it didn’t merit a point on the map, so pointless that it didn’t even have a name.  The farmers who fought the surrounding land for a living just called it Town; the townies didn’t call it anything except “this shithole” or, if they were ambitious or lucky enough to leave, “that shithole.”

I had come to this shithole after running out on an arrest warrant back home in River.  I brought Monster, even though being so … distinctive, he made it harder to hide; I couldn’t just leave him behind.  The crooked judge who signed the warrant, the weaselly sheriff who swore out the complaint against me, and most particularly old man Berringer; I’ll get them all.

My plan unfolded before me, surprisingly simple.  With this raft, I would simply float down the filthy, slow-moving river to Springfield.  The backyards of both the judge and Berringer each extended down to the river; taking care of them would be easy.  The sheriff would be harder; even if he weren’t on duty, his home was on the other end of town.

No matter.  I’ll figure it out when the time comes.  They’ll pay for framing me for…

Tagged: GypsyScarlett, Ralfast, Chad, Jenifer, Amy.  No obligation on your part, except that if you don’t participate I’m told that bad luck will befall me within seven days.

Can’t believe I left off J.C.  Montgomery and G.L. Drummond, so I’m tagging them now.

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This Is The End.

No, not a post about the Incredible Shrinking Global Economy (please, I just had dinner!).  I just finished the first draft of Meet the Larssons.  Here’s how it ends:

THE END

Sorry, I should have posted a spoiler alert.  It’s been 10 months, 104,258 words, and a whole lot of unattractive whining, but I made it.  Now all I have to do is restructure the plot, rewrite most of it, and edit out the stupid parts.  Can o’ corn.

I finished a novel.  Heh.

According to Scrivener, it will be 462 pages when I print it out; it would be 277 pages if printed as a paperback.

Hey, I said if.

Sorry, I’m a little giddy, and mind-boggingly tired.  In a few weeks, I’ll come back to it, and realize that of the 104,258 words, about 85,000 of them will be full of suck, but for now, I’m going to pretend that it’s all brilliant.  Brilliant!

Now I’m going to have a glass of wine with Mrs. Unfocused in celebration of, well, me.

In case you’re interested, here’s what I was listening to when I wrote the final chapter:  Up From the Ground Below, by M Shanghai String Band, the best original bluegrass music being performed today (as far as I know, anyway), and excellent music to finish a novel by.

It has been a busy week and a half, which is why I haven’t posted in a while, but I’m sure you’ve all enjoyed the break.  I’ll try to catch up over the weekend.  Meanwhile, have you been keeping up with the Absolute Write October Blog Chain?

TMI.

I have two stories out on submission right now, to two different markets.  I sent “Dear Mr. President” out at the end of July to an online magazine; its submission guidelines say that writers should not expect a response for at least three months.  I hardly think about this story at all; I’ll start wondering about it if I don’t have a response in another month or so.

I sent TTB to a different market.  This outlet does not provide any guideline for response time; instead, it provides detailed statistics, like Duotrope, but counting every single submission and response.  I can check the numbers, and see that for short story submissions, they sent their most recent response on Sunday of last week, and the earliest story submitted that has not yet been rejected or accepted was submitted back in June; the average time for a rejection is just over a week, but the average time for acceptance is four months.

If I hit REFRESH, maybe the statistics will update.  Not this time, at least, not for responses, but four more short stories have been submitted since the last time I checked!  More competition!  Arg!

This is ridiculous.  When the editor has reviewed my story, and has made a decision about my story, I’ll get an email.  Finding out when the last response was sent out to someone doesn’t tell me anything, because if I don’t have an email, then it wasn’t sent to me.

REFRESH.  Nothing.  Crap.

Thanks for the detailed statistics.  In addition to getting me to push that damn button like a lab rat trying for cheese, those numbers have given me something worse than a jammed right index finger (REFRESH – ow!):  hope.  See, the average rejection time is just over a week.  The editor has had TTB for 24 days.  So is TTB an outlier?  So damn long that it takes a while to turn it down?  Or is it possible that it’s been shortlisted, and weighed against the other stories coming in?

REFRESH.  Ow.  Nothing.  Crap.

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.

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.

If I Hate Editing So Much, Why Am I Doing So Much of It?

I took my fourth — and what I think is my last — pass through TTB today and dumped it on Mrs. Unfocused for a final proofread. Once she’s done with that (or sooner, if she tells me she can’t stand to read it again), I’m going to type in the changes and send it out. I think I’ve caught all the typos, tied off the loose ends, cut what could be cut and added what needed to be added, and I am thoroughly sick of the whole process (thus my prior post, I Hate Editing and I Must Be Almost Done Editing), so any further revision would just be pointless mutilation. Which I am wholeheartedly against.

I now have the final title for TTB, and have kissed the working title of “Test Tube Beneficiary” good-bye; I got the title right last night, after trying several that were just awful.

I had to stop myself on several occasions today from making picky word choice edits and just stick to fixing glaring errors. How much editing is too much? The answer, at least for this story: one more minute than I have spent so far.