Tag Archives: short stories

Summer Sunday Stats #4: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Hope you’re having a good long weekend.  We’ve been pretty laid back here at Stately Unfocused Manor; we had some friends over for dinner on Saturday, and mostly just hung out yesterday.  School started for Junior on Wednesday; Unfocused Girl starts at her new school (now with extra distance from home!) tomorrow.  I can’t believe she’s going into second grade.  I hope the new school works out — it’s a new building with great facilities, but a school isn’t just a building, and it’s going to be a big change from the Montessori program we’re used to.

Miles run:  11.75 miles, in 1:51:08.  I took it slowly, because I’ve added a lot of weekday miles lately and was kind of wiped, and because it was really hot — I finished my entire water bottle at the turnaround point.  The important thing was to get my long run mileage up from 10 — the Chicago Half Marathon is in two weeks, and while I’m not looking to set a PR, I don’t want to feel as unprepared as I did last year.

Weather:  Sunny and hot. ‘Nuff said.

What was on my iPod:  J.C. Hutchins’s Ultracreatives Interview #4, C.C Chapman’s Accident Hash #273, and Black Lab’s album See the Sun.

How’s the writing going?  I’m so glad you asked.  I wrote 899 words of Meet the Larssons (87,776 and counting).  I was distracted by the Democratic National Convention (anyone remember that?  Denver?  Speeches?  Anyone?  Bueller?) and by a short story that wanted to be written.  I’m trying to keep the short story — I don’t have a good working title for it yet, so let’s just call it “Secretary-General” for now — to under 5,000 words, which would fit within the guidelines of most s.f. markets, and is about right for the story anyway.  So far, it’s at 3,656 words, all written this week.  I probably wrote the last 2,000 words on Friday; the Mrs. went to bed early, and I stayed up late.  I know that I shouldn’t let myself get distracted by other ideas while I’m working on the novel, that I should just write them down and get back to work on MTL until the first draft is done.  I try, I really do, although that kind of mental discipline doesn’t come easily to me.  When an idea is just an idea, I can put it aside; I email myself a note about it, with “Idea” in the subject line, and I can forget about it.  Sometimes, though, like TTB and now SG, I get more than just an idea, I get the whole story in my head, and in order to get it down so I don’t lose it, I essentially have to just write the damn thing.  It doesn’t mean the story’s good, or really complete, but it does mean that I have trouble focusing on anything else until I get it down.

Rather than comment on the selection of Gov. Palin as McCain’s running mate (is he pandering to the religious right or to Hillary voters?  It’s a mystery!) or Hurricane Gustav’s advance on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, since those topics are being more thoroughly hashed out elsewhere, I’ll leave you with the hysterical Large Hadron Rap:

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?

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.

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!

1,423 Words Written, of the Wrong Thing.

I wrote 503 words of Meet the Larssons today, again all on the train to and from the office. I still haven’t gotten through the dreaded scene, although I just learned something interesting connecting one character to another, so that’s fun.

After I put the kids to bed (the Mrs. was out at the house of one of the neighbors for one of those parties where women try to sell each other things; I don’t begin to understand those parties, but that’s off topic; for tonight, I’ll just say that I’m glad the Mrs. got out with some friends, which doesn’t happen much), I sat down to write. Did I open up MTL and start work again, under calmer circumstances than the Metra allows?

I did not. Instead, I started frantically typing up a short horror story I thought of at lunch. I wrote 1,423 words of that story tonight, which is at least half of the entire first draft (I estimate the final story will be 2500-3000 words). It’s sort of a Lovecraftian pastiche.

Yeah, I know: distracted by another shiny object. Sometimes, though, you just have to get the ideas out of your head.


I got 505 words written on Meet the Larssons today, all on the train. One of the things that’s been holding me back is the dread of writing a particular scene, involving a social situation in which I have next to no experience. So I changed the circumstances just enough that while it’s still awkward, I’m better able to put my head into the protagonist’s circumstances and think through his actions and reactions.

I have also finished revising the science fiction story I mentioned in this post, and submitted it to an online market. I caught Mrs. Unfocused chuckling a couple of times while she read it for the first time this evening, so I have some hope after all.

In other news, we did not win the Mega Millions lottery tonight, which means I need to go to work tomorrow.

Oops. I Finished a Short Story.

I didn’t mean to, honest. A few months ago, I started writing a short story by emailing a few paragraphs to myself on my Blackberry while I waited for my sandwich at Cosi’s. Over the course of a month or two, I emailed half a dozen bits to myself while standing in line to buy lunch or other mundane tasks. Then I lost interest.

Tonight, I opened it up to see where it was. I finished the job of importing the emails into Scrivener, and realized I was just about done. So I took half an hour (hey, it’s my birthday) and finished it.

The first draft of “Dear Mr. President” is 2,080 words long. I’ll try to finish revisions by Sunday night, and submit it Sunday night or Monday morning. There are a few online markets that I think I’ll try; I don’t plan to shoot for the moon with this one, but I won’t consider non-paying markets until I’ve run out of paying options.

Is it my best work? No, probably not. But I think it’s a fun little alternate history story, and there might be a place for it somewhere. I don’t have as much invested in it as I did in “Test Tube Beneficiaries” (no response yet to the second submission, but thanks for asking), which I hope means I won’t need to go through six sets of revisions before I can let it go.

But how about that? When I sat down tonight, I had no plans to work on this story at all, and now I’ve gone and finished the first draft. What the hell, though; it’s my birthday. Yay, me.

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.

Fly Free, TTB!

This morning I stopped at the post office (how quaint!) to submit, by snail mail, the story formerly known as “Test Tube Beneficiary” to one of the Big Three science fiction magazines. The magazine’s guidelines say they respond within about eight weeks; adding a few days on either end for the mail, I should get a response sometime around the week of July 14, which also happens to be right around my birthday.

Considering the odds against TTB getting accepted, I concede that the mailing was poorly timed.

I finished the typing in the last rounds of edits late last night (the Mrs. and I both prefer marking up hard copy), wrote the cover letter, and then fussed for 45 minutes over getting labels printed for the big envelope and the SASE. When I was finally done, Mrs. Unfocused remarked on the fact that I was wearing my Converse Chuck Taylor high-tops (not one of my original pairs from 1987, but a pair I bought last year for an 80s-themed party), which I hardly ever wear. “Great,” I said. “Now I have an official authorial superstition: whenever I’m about to finish a story or a novel, I’ll have to find my Chuck Ts and make sure I’m wearing them for the big finish.”

On reflection, though, I think that should only apply if the magazine to which I submitted TTB this morning accepts it. There’s no reason to start a superstition over a rejection.