Archive for July, 2003

7/23/03: Survived critique

Word count: 20881 Three hundred and some new words tonight. Not a lot, but at least I’m back to work on the novel after three weeks off with the short story. Working on a scene of pain and terror with the doctor, Reason. Also taking the opportunity to answer some questions about how and when the aliens use telepathy vs. other means of communication. Got the first five chapters critiqued this weekend. Responses were generally positive; a number of specific issues were raised. Some were problems I already knew about (aliens not alien enough, Jason’s motivations rather weak), others were technical issues and easily fixed (offhand mention of fusion power should be replaced with something having more manageable social consequences, should give Jason a different gun and he needs to clean it himself), a few were surprises (need to clarify that relationships are different in the future, aliens’ name is too similar to a recent TV show, aliens’ corporate structure should reflect their different society). Everyone was disappointed I brought a short story rather than a new novel chapter. I shall not fail them next time! So: my goal now is to prevent my friends from drinking beer! To do this I only have to write a thousand words a week. Doesn’t seem all that hard after doing over 4000 words last week. (Which was overdoing it… my hands were a little cold and tingly for several days after finishing that burst of effort. Scary! But they seem to be better now.) It’s tempting to go back and try to fix the problems identified in the critique now. But in the interests of maintaining forward momentum on this draft, I’m going to stay the current course and keep writing until I get to the end. Then I’ll go back and do all the critiques in a big editing pass. Is this mad?

7/18/03: Break’s over, back on your head

Word count: 20519 Just finished the short story — 6500 words in 3 weeks (no wonder I’m tired!). It’s kind of old-fashioned and hokey, but that might be OK for the planned market. I’m sending it to critique tomorrow, and then it’s back to work on the novel.

7/13/03: Short story break

Word count: 20519 No work on the novel since the last entry, but I have written 2200 words of what’s going to be a 5-7k short story (which I need to finish this week, ack). It’s going well, but since I just finished introducing the main characters I know I’m going to have to do some serious cutting when this draft gets done. After a long dry spell with no responses at all to the stories I had out, I received three rejections in as many days. All were encouraging personal rejects from major markets. For example: “Good to see something by you again, and thanks for letting me see [this]. This is well-crafted and entertaining, but it’s not really for us, and so I’m going to pass on it. Of course, let me see more when you have it. Best, Gardner.” When I was first starting out, I got cold, impersonal form rejections and I was frustrated because they told me that the story had been rejected but not why. Now I get warm, cheery personal rejections… that tell me that the story has been rejected but not why. The more things change… I also sent off a query to an anthology where I’d been waiting a long time for a response. Turns out the ToC for the antho has been finalized, though I never received a rejection and the ToC was posted only on the publisher’s message board, not on their main web site. Annoyingly, this is the second time this particular story has gotten turned down without receiving a rejection. But I just sent it off again… its 13th cover letter, on July 13th, and it’s a horror story, so that’s bound to be good luck. Did get some good news on Friday, though: my story “Fear of Widths,” originally published in the anthology Land/Space, has been reprinted on the website Infinity Plus, and I received a CD of the audio version of my story “The Tale of the Golden Eagle” from I don’t know who read the story, but it’s a great performance. (He did mispronounce the name of the main character, Denali Eu, as “eyu” rather than “yew”. But that’s a minor point.)