Archive for December, 2005

12/29/05: David’s Index for 2005

Novel words written: 6,004
Short story words written: 10,992
Notes, outline, and synopsis words written: 8,794
Blog words written: 33,428
Total words written: 59,218

New stories written: 2
Existing stories revised: 2

Short story submissions sent: 23
Responses received: 22
Acceptances: 4 (1 pro, 1 semi-pro, 2 reprints)
Rejections: 12
Other responses: 6 (4 rewrite requests, 2 markets closed)
Awaiting response: 4

Short stories published: 9 (6 new, 3 reprints)

Major award nominations: 0
Minor award nominations: 1
Awards won: 0

Novel editing hours: 69.5
Novels submitted: 1
Novels awaiting response: 1

Happy New Year!

12/28/05: I guess I’m shallow

Somewhere in my webbish peregrinations the other day I came across an appreciation of John Kessel’s “The Baum Plan for Financial Independence”. The appreciation includes this statement:

“A casual reader might have read this story: Two trashy people ride in a strange subway to an even stranger terminal where they are given tons of cash. That casual reader would, in my opinion, really miss out on some great layers of this deceptively simple story.”

Well, that’s how I read it. Although this story has been highly praised, and was in at least one Year’s Best volume, I thought it was rather lame. The main character takes harly any independent action — he is literally led by the hand through much of the story — but he is sent on an amazing journey and in the end he is, as it says above, given tons of cash. Which he accepts. The end. Whoopee. I guess I’m shallow. It may be that, as the appreciation says, there’s more to the story. But most of the Oz references went over my head, since I’ve never read that series. And the socio-economic allegories some other readers have found weren’t apparent or didn’t work for me. If there really was a lesson to be learned about the Haves gaining their wealth from the sweat of the brows of the Have-Nots, why did the main character simply acquiesce to the system? What some see as his “moment of epiphany” at the end of the story fails for me because he does not take any action as a result of his epiphany, nor is there any implication that he will do so in the future — which means that I don’t even consider it an epiphany. I guess what I’m trying to say is… well, I’m a simple guy, and I like my stories simple. It’s not that I’m incapable of appreciating a finely turned description or a reference to an older story; some of my favorite stories (and some — or even most — of my stories) are riffs on older stories by obscure authors. But for me, if a story doesn’t work at the first, most basic level, I’m not going to stick around to see if it has hidden depths. I didn’t like “What I Didn’t See” either. But that’s a rant for another day.

12/15/05: Mixed bag

Today’s mail brought a nice holiday card from Dell Magazines (I guess I am a member of their “stable” now, neigh whinny) and a 281-day bounce from Realms of Fantasy (281 days for a couple of sentences scribbled on my cover letter, grr). That story’s off to Fantasy. Also today I found a nice mention of my Tales of the Unanticipated story “A Book is a Journey” in Richard Horton’s newsgroup. It’s only a partial sentence, but a nice mention is much better than what I’ve been getting lately and it’s extremely welcome. I spent the first part of this week at a managers’ offsite in Hood River, helping to present a workshop on Agile Programming Techniques. It wasn’t terribly difficult or stressful, but I find that I am… intellectually exhausted, I guess you would say. I haven’t been able to accomplish much of anything today, either at work or at home. I did manage to unpack my bag, at least, which I don’t always do right away after returning from a trip. There’s been a bit of a re-org at work, and effective Monday I am no longer assigned full-time to the project that has been eating so much of my life lately (I got home at 8pm last Wednesday, 10pm Friday). Mind you, there are still quite a number of design decisions to be made and meetings to attend, but now someone else is the dedicated lead on that project and will be doing all of the heavy lifting while I’m supposed to be concentrating on another project. The new project is a return to something I’ve spent a lot of time on in the past and I enjoy working with those people. It is still going to be a lot of work, but the deadline is much farther away and I hope it won’t be quite so intense.

12/14/05: Potlatch 15 Taste of Clarion West Writers’ Workshops

A Taste of Clarion West The Potlatch 15 science fiction convention, which will be held February 24-26, 2006 in Seattle, Washington, will be holding a short story workshop. Workshops are a great way to get feedback on a story. Perhaps more important, they are a great way to learn about what makes stories succeed and fail in general, through the process of critiquing others’ work and comparing your critiques with others’. They’re a great way to meet other writers, and work with a couple of professionals in the field. Finally, if you’re considering applying for Clarion West ( they should give you a small inkling of what the Clarion West workshop process is like. Journeyman Writers’ Workshop This year for the first time we are experimenting with a Journeyman workshop. We envision it as a tool for recharging and refocusing more advanced writers. Perhaps you have a sale or two but feel as if you’ve lost steam; maybe you’re a Clarion West graduate who’s looking to get back to writing after years on other projects, or are just looking to add new tools to your kit. This is the workshop for you, with like-level participants. Since this an experiment we don’t know what demand is like. Please let us know as early as possible if you want to participate; this workshop will only be held if there’s enough interest. Please check the Potlatch 15 website ( for more information, including updates on workshop instructors, and workshop availability status. If you have any questions, email me at

— David Levine, Workshop Coordinator

How To Submit: 1. Complete an SF, Fantasy, or Horror short story (maximum 7500 words). No fragments; no novel chapters; no poetry. One submission per person. 2. Proofread it carefully. Make sure it represents the best you can do. 3. Print it out in standard manuscript format (see for more information). Fasten the manuscript with a paper clip. 4. Write a cover letter with a short (1-2 pages) writer’s bio. Have you published before? Have you been to other writer’s workshops? Are you part of a writer’s group? Are you new to writing? What are your hopes and expectations for writing in the future? Be sure to include your mailing address, and your email address if you have one. Please specify which workshop — Taste of Clarion West or Journeyman Workshop — you wish to participate in. If you’re interested in the Journeyman workshop, please let me know whether you’d like to participate in the Taste of Clarion West workshop if the Journeyman workshop is not held. 5. Send the manuscript and cover letter, along with a check or money order for $10 to cover copying and postage, to:

Potlatch 15 Writers’ Workshop
c/o David D. Levine
1905 SE 43rd Ave.
Portland, OR 97215

Make checks payable to David D. Levine. –> All submissions must be RECEIVED by January 15, 2006. <–

12/11/05: Name That Language

So I was doing a Google search on my own name, as one does, and Google turned up this page on a mysterious site known only by a number. The page is about “The Tale of the Golden Eagle” and it has two reader comments. One reader gives the story a grade of 5, the other a 4. I can’t even figure out what language the page is in, never mind what it says. The Xerox language guesser thinks it’s Estonian. But there doesn’t seem to be any automated Estonian to English translator on the web. I’ve tried Romanian, Slovenian, and Serbian translators and none of them can extract any meaning from it. Can anyone reading this tell me what it says?

12/6/05: Tale’s in the mail

And “Titanium Mike Saves the Day” goes off to Analog. On to the next thing. Has anyone else noticed that short stories in standard manuscript format weigh just about one ounce per thousand words?

12/5/05: Done?

Finally got a chance to sit down and finish the edits on the Titanium Mike story, and I got through to the end. It’s about 200 words longer than it was, and I’m not 100% convinced I’m done with the edits. I shall sleep on it.

12/3/05: Voom

Whoa, how did it get to be {Friday, December, Smofcon, Christmas, 2007} so quickly? Thanksgiving was swell. We stayed in Portland Thursday evening and had a fantastic dinner at the home of our friends Paul and Debbie, then hit the road fairly early on Friday for the Vancouver square dance fly-in. Had a great time enjoying the hospitality of our friends Will and Grant and hanging out with square dance friends from all over, returning to Portland on Monday. I was supposed to go to Sunnyvale (for some entirely explicable reason I’m always tempted to say “Sunnydale” instead) for business on Tuesday, but when I got home Monday night I had a phone message that the trip was postponed to Thursday. So I went to work as usual on Tuesday to find a sh*t storm of major proportions. My boss had been out of town for two weeks, and apparently several serious problems that had been simmering for some time, and which he might have been able to defuse if he’d been there, burst open on Monday — people screaming at each other and all kinds of mean nasty ugly stuff. Glad I missed it. But I didn’t miss the aftermath, which is still unfolding. None of the serious issues are my fault, but some of the repercussions will affect me. Probably some people will be shifted to different projects. One of the consequences was that the person who was supposed to go with me to Sunnyvale was diverted to another trip. But then, when he had cancelled his Sunnyvale tickets and was in the process of scheduling the other trip, he was told that the other trip was off. So I had to go to Sunnyvale by myself while the other person just stayed back at the office. I was really worried about this trip, because the weather forecast called for a major snow storm to hit Portland that day. I packed with the assumption that I might have to stay in the Bay Area for a day or two. But, apart from the fact that I had to get up at 4am to catch my flight, everything went smoothly. My meeting in Sunnyvale was intense and productive and I got home by 8pm. I had a busy day at work today (Friday) and went from there straight to Smofcon, the convention-runners’ convention, which is in Portland this year. Kate and I hung out with SMOF friends, had dinner with Arthur Aldridge, then participated in the traditional Friday night icebreaker. This year’s icebreaker was to re-enact the Orycon hotel search (with all the Portland hotels disguised behind names such as Trantor Hilton and Towers and Innsmouth Hotel at the Docks) in fifteen minutes. Amusingly, my team selected the same hotel the actual Orycon did, and for pretty much the same reasons. Martin Easterbrook suggested we write our press release as a pastiche of “The Raven,” and we whomped out three verses of pretty good faux Poe (Paux?) in about five minutes. You can see it, along with another poem from one of the other teams, here. The writing, unfortunately, hasn’t been going well. I’ve been making fitful progress on the rewrite of the Titanium Mike story, but I haven’t sold anything since February. Several stories have been published in the last couple months, but there have been few reviews and most of those have been bad (one poster on the Asimov’s message board said he wanted to slap me). I’m hoping for some better news in the December Locus. And there’s still no word on the novel. The editor said he hoped to look at the rewrite in December, so I’ll bug him fairly shortly if I don’t hear something soon. Well. Anyway. More Smofcon this weekend, and that should be fun. And I don’t have any more work-related travel until December 12! (Unless I have to go to Sunnyvale again next week, but I think I should be able to avoid that.)