Tag Archives: TTB

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!

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.

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.

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.

What Jammed Up TTB?

I started “Test Tube Beneficiary” on January 13, 2008, by creating a project for it in Scrivener and typing out the basic idea for the problem facing the protagonist, and the solution. I thought it would be fairly short, and relatively easy to write — a nice diversion from the novel when I needed a break.

I finished the first draft on March 22. It came in at 12,210 words, firmly in “novelette” territory, at least according to the categories recognized by the SFWA. After my second pass through it, it dropped to 12,100. After I made changes based on suggestions from Mrs. Unfocused and more of my own edits, it grew slightly, to 12,400 words.

That’s where things stood when I printed it out on April 29, for the final proofread. I went through it over the next couple of days, made a dozen or so picky changes, and handed it to Mrs. Unfocused.

She read through it on Saturday afternoon. When she was done, she asked me a question about the actions of one of the supporting characters. She didn’t understand the motivation of this character, because if he did what I had him do in the story, shouldn’t he also do X? Having that character do X, unfortunately, would have required me to completely change the ending, and would have defeated one of the core goals I had for the story.

The problem was that she was absolutely correct. I had taken a shortcut: to avoid going through a lot of rigamarole that wouldn’t be any fun to write and might be boring to read, I had forced one of my characters to do something completely contrary to his interests, and then refused to carry that behavior through to its logical conclusion. It had nagged at me a little when I did it, but I didn’t think too much about it, and who was going to notice, anyway?

My wife, apparently. It wasn’t until her third reading of the story, but it was obvious once she asked the question that another reader could certainly have the same question the first time through. I had to drag myself kicking and screaming to the decision, but I finally made up my mind that I had to change the character’s actions in the story in order to preserve the ending, which meant writing out the rigamarole I wanted to avoid.

Sunday night I plugged another 800 words into the middle of the story; it’s now at 13,200 words. I now need to go back through it and fix all the places where those changes ripple through, which I will try to get done this weekend.

The thing that bothers me the most is that if this is what I’m going through with TTB, the editing process for Meet the Larssons is going to really, really suck.

Spring Sunday Stats.

Weather in Chicago: warm (mid- to upper 60s) and sunny, the first weekend day in God knows how long with decent weather.

Miles run: 7.85 (according to my Polar RS400), in 1:04:13. That’s my longest run in months. I’m still not running regularly enough, either to keep the screaming heebeejeebees out of my brain or to be ready for the Solider Field 10 Miler in three weeks, but I’ll get there.

What I played on my iPod Mini during the run: Seventh Son, Book One – Descent, by J.C. Hutchins, Chapter 16 and part of Chapter 17.

Words written on Meet the Larssons this weekend: As one of the characters in Seventh Son says, “Two words: Jack and shit.” A combination of distractions, nice weather, actual legal work for which I am paid, a sudden realization that I needed to add a scene to Test Tube Beneficiary before it could be called done, and suddenly the weekend is over. I’m traveling to California for business tomorrow, which means I may have time to get a couple of hours of uninterrupted writing, or quite possibly, none at all.

Short stories submitted to professional markets: Umm, none. The edit formerly known as “final” is done, on paper, and just needs to be typed in. The problem is that the new scene has almost certainly generated changes that ripple through the rest of the story, which means that I need to do one more edit. Damn, damn, damn. Damn.

Hours of fun with the kids: Around 7 today. Junior and I were on our own all morning, and then all four of us spent the late afternoon in the backyard, before dinner and getting the kids ready for bed. Unfocused Girl and I worked on the tae kwon do form for our yellow belt test, coming up at the end of this session of classes at the Y, and Mrs. Unfocused joined in, while Junior held up a pad and demanded that we all punch it. All in all, a pretty darn good day. Yesterday was pretty good, too. I love spring.

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.