Wanderings

Anything you dream is fiction,
and anything you accomplish is science,
the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction.
- Ray Bradbury
July 29th, 2004

Abyss & Apex

I withdrew “Speed Trap” from A&A today and mailed it off to Neverary. A&A is in deep do with their slush process. They won’t use Smeerp when the obviously need it or something like it. Several major markets have stopped taking email submissions due to spam in the slush boxes. I don’t know why nobody wants Smeerp – its a natural and it works well at Astounding Stories.

“Speed Trap” is one of my favorite stories, but the ending is weak. I submitted it to Neverary today which makes 9 times out. That has to be about the limit. I have done major rewrites on it in the mean time, so it is not the same story that has been rejected before, but I am guessing that it is time to trunk it.

One interesting thing about “Speed Trap” is that I had it at Ideomancer for 58 days and their slush system imploded. I withdrew it from Ideomancer and sent it in to A&A and then 57 days later their slush system imploded. I hope Neverary has a good backup of their hard disk.

It’s time to finish the rewrite on “Unplugged” so I have a story to send to Neverary when “Speed Trap” is rejected.






July 29th, 2004

Lone Star and The Last Big Herd

Yesterday, I wrote a 2800 word short for Lone Star Stories about a herd of Mammoths passing through Texas. Eric Marin nixed it the next day. This will teach me never to write for a specialty market. Now I have to trunk it after just one submission.

Here’s what Eric wrote: 

Thank you for submitting “The Last Big Herd” to _Lone Star Stories_.Unfortunately, this story just didn’t draw me in, so I’m going to pass on it. I welcome additional work from you, and I wish you the best of luck placing this tale elsewhere.

I guess it’s back to the more compelling ideas even if they are harder to write.

Stories like “The Last Big Herd” write themselves. I wrote it mostly in a about two hours yesterday, even though I had the outline done for several weeks. I didn’t want to work on it, but Eric’s instantaneous response time is too attractive.

In other news, Aleta at Abyss & Apex, has posted to the Rumor Mill that A&A has fudged their computer system and they can’t access their submissions. One of my stories has languished there for about two months and I think that they lost it.

I guess it’s time to send it out to Neverary.






July 27th, 2004

Waiting

I am still waiting (56 days) to hear from Abyss & Apex. I wrote to Aleta Daknis on day 45 and she promised to look into it, but I’ve heard nothing. I will query on August 1 to the editorial address with a copy to Aleta.

8 Stories out averaging 21 days. I sent out 4 around the first of July and I should hear from those soon. These are all weak stories and should be rejected. I would hope that perhaps one of them will be accepted.

I have to write some more. I am just about finished with the Western story, but it seems sort of ordinary – it’s spec-fic, but not spec-fic enough. I’ve sold all the strong stories and I need to replace them in the queue.

 






July 27th, 2004

Frogs in Aspic

I wrote up “Frogs in Aspic” and sent it in to Glimmer Train. I sent it to Carlos first. What I like about Carlos is that he only sys nice things about my stories and he is so detail oriented that he gets every last typo.

I had the idea of Frogs in Aspic on my honeymoon, 31 years ago. Erica and I stayed at The Colony in Kennebunkport, Maine. George Bush Sr. had breakfast there on sundays with his asshole kid Dubyou.

It was one of thos places where all meals were included with the room. Every meal featured lobster. (Lobster omelets for breakfast.) At dinner they had Lobster aspic. I had never had aspic before and I didn’t like it. I was trying to put the hotel out of business, though, by having seconds of everything. I ate 6 lobsters once for lunch. I ate the aspic.

That night I had a nightmare. I dreamed that they served aspic with little green frogs in it that wiggled as you ate them. I dreamed the whole recipe and I have retained that dream as one of my weirder ones.

I wrote up the recipe yesterday, put a minimal story line around it and wound up with about 1400 words. After Carlos checked it, it went off to Glimmer Train. When GT rejects it, I don’t know where I’ll send it. It’s not Genre – just very odd.

 






July 23rd, 2004

Ernst Max Illustrations

Ernst Max Illustrations

This was blogged by Bruce Sterling at Wired. The illustration will go well with one of the stories that I have been thinking about. I love the book “Tea With the Black Dragon” by R. A. MacAvoy and I wanted to write something similar. ATSOISE hacked the first story in the Leah series, but I would like to continue with Leah’s magical Bear/Lover and an adventure in Fairyland to rescue a stolen baby.






July 22nd, 2004

Astounding Stories

There’s a whole pack of stories in Smeerp this morning. Arthur is going to have his work cut out for him. There’s a few action stories that I skimmed and I like action plots.

When I try to read the ‘zines I notice a lot of adolescent angst characters. There is always a world-weary young person who is extremely reasonable in an adolescent way. This person confronts unreasonable events and the story ends with an “Awful Realization” about something hidden.

It reminds me of a time when I saw Carlos Santana in concert. He let a guest guitarist do a few songs and the guy went into Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Chile”. Carlos was standing at the side of the stage smoking a cigarette. I saw him shake his head and I could read his lips as he spoke to the bass player. “I hate this shit”, he said. I feel like Carlos.






July 22nd, 2004

"On Writing" by Stephen King

I bought “On Writing” by Stephen King for a quarter last sunday and it was a good read. It only took two evenings of bad TV to read it.

Mr. King and I have entirely too much in common. I will never be a best selling writer, but I kept on finding strange overlaps in experiences and influences. We have much not in common, as well, such as smoking, alcoholism and drug addiction (I am too cheap to spend my cash an any of these things). We both were affected early by Forest J Ackerman’s monster magazines. I was crazy about them – so was King. We both tried to write like Ray Bradbury for a while. I never got over it, although King moved on. Lots of little things like that.

I am not sure that we would get along, but I feel that I understand him much better after reading the book.

I want to write like Ray Bradbury, but with characters like Fritz Leiber’s, but I want themes like Murray Leinster, but with a voice like Robert Heinlein.

I don’t want to write like King. His prose flows extremely well and you can zip though one of his books in a day or so, but I don’t like what he does to his characters. He seems to manipulate them from a distance and the characters act like his personal puppets. You never get the idea that they have free will or think outside their little boxes. I have only read a couple of King books, so maybe I am wrong here.






July 19th, 2004

Very nice rejection

I received a very cool rejection from Lon Prater at Neverary. I never really tried this market before because it is almost always closed. He said some nice things:

Thanks for sending me this story.  It held my attention throughout and some of the swashbuckling elements–even the humor at the end–reminded me favorably of Dumas.

 

That said, I’m sorry to inform you that I am going to pass on this one.  The story is very close, and probably spot-on perfect for a venue such as Adventure Fiction Online, SDO Fantasy, or maybe even Black Gate (if you can stomach the long wait time at BG.)  I think the thing that pushed this over the edge for me into non-buy territory was more a matter of personal taste. Specifically, a lot of the action seemed too Hollywood-predictable, and also (again a matter of personal taste) your sentences seemed too uniform in structure.  I tend to buy stories with more of a mixture of structures, for what it’s worth.

All things considered, you obviously know how to pen a decent yarn.  I’d be happy to see more from you this reading period, if you have anything you think might suit Neverary.

I haven’t read Dumas since I was 14. I did like The Man in the Iron Mask best, though and that’s the sort of feel I was going for in this story. Unfortunately, SDO fantasy and AFO have already nixed this one. Maybe I’ll send it into Black Gate for a year or two. NOT!

 

Ilenna will have to wait a while before she can see her namesake in print. I need to research who can publish this. I hate to send it out to a free site, but that way I don’t have to worry about it any more.

 

I need to strike here while the fire is hot. Neverary closes soon and I don’t have anything to send him. I hope A&A rejects the Speed Trap story and I can send it off to Neverary.

 






July 15th, 2004

Post Funeral depression

So I pop a book on tape into the truck’s cassette player. It’s Koontz’s “Fear Nothing”. It starts out with a guy waiting for his Father to die of cancer and then the Father dies and then the body is stolen.

Dad had a closed casket. I never saw the body. Was it in there?

It’s a good thing I’m not as nutsy as my brothers.

The moral of this is not to buy an unknown book on tape even if it is only $2 at a garage sale. I’m hooked, though. Koontz is a powerful writer even if he is a kook. I have to finish the stupid book. I bought the sequal – Seize the Night – at the same time. It looks like another 25 hours or so of this nut.

Funerals are strange things, full of politics and theatre. The Ladies of the DAR did a service for Dad that was right out of Stephen King. There were DAR Ladies, none younger than 80, with faces from Norman Rockwell who sadly read a proclamation. They all wore sports type running shoes, which I thought was odd.

My cousin who I hadn’t seen in forty years, showed up, but we think he was there to sell the cemetery plots that my Uncle left in his will to my father. Plots at Oak hill cemetery, especially up in the old section where my family rest, go for thousands of dollars.

When one of my friend’s father died, I went to help plant him. It was the middle of the winter and bitter cold. My friend lives within walking distance of the cemetery, but never showed up to help me bury Dad. I’m a little upset by this.

Oak Hill cemetry is a cool place. Dad’s plot is about 20 feet from the artist Edward Hopper. Ben Hecht is down the path a little near where his collaborator Charles McCarther is buried. Helen Hayes is right there, too. Carson McCullers is only a few feet away. Grahams, Polhemuses, Galbraiths and Demerests fill the plots around him. All his ancestors, aunts and uncles and cousins going back 250 years are there. Dad is in good company. I might be there someday.






July 12th, 2004

Passing of my Father

In the Duke’s Left Eye, I use a story that my Father told me as bedtime story when I was very small. Dad took the old Phillip of Macedonia story about the archer and made it suitable for a small boy. I took the basic premise from Dad’s story and wrote the story that is now waiting at Neverary.

Dad died July 11 in the early morning hours. He was fading fast and having trouble breathing. A pain therapist gave him something to help him rest and I think it may have suppressed Dad’s breathing enough so that he just passed away in his sleep. I am grateful to the anonymous pain therapist who helped my father into a gentle good night. The cancer gave him great pain and he had not been very lucid for weeks.

I was in the hospital with Dad. I was trying to read a novelette by Algys Budries, but Dad’s labored breathing made it hard to concentrate. Dad, yelled out “Mom!” and opened his eyes. He was calling my mother (dad called her Mom, too). I said told him that she had gone home for some rest and would be back soon. “Larry?” he asked, meaning my brother. “No, it’s me, Dad.” I said. “Keith” he agreed. He had to use the commode, but he forgot that he had a catheter. “You’ve got a catheter, Dad,” I explained. “You don’t have to get up. Just relax and let ‘er rip.” He put his head back and laughed. It was the first chuckle that I had heard from him in a while.

Dad fell back to sleep and we never spoke again. My last words to my Dad were “Let ‘er Rip.” There was no great philosophy or unsaid emotions. Our last conversation was about having to pee. Dad and I didn’t have heartfelt conversations. We both try to be stoic and suppress our emotions. “Let ‘er Rip” is a man’s phrase. It is full of action and a positive approach to living and dying. It is as good a final word as I can think of. I think Dad would agree. It makes for a good story.

Joseph Lawrence Graham July 5, 1921 – July 11, 2004

“Let ‘er Ripâ€�






July 8th, 2004

Reviews

I am thinking about doing some Audio Book reviews. JJ Adams has been doing Audio reviews and finding an audience, so I can get through on his leavings.

Since I am addicted to Audio Books, it is a natural for me.

Recent books:

Thief of Time by Terry Pratchett

One More for the Road by Ray Bradbury

Have Spacesuit Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein

Farmer In the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein

Most of these have been out a few years, but I will have to wait until I get review copies before I do the new stuff.






July 7th, 2004

Ilenna Stories

I have a generic heroine named Ilenna. She appears in Le Choix des Armes (Amazing Heroes II), Through the Stone Gate (High Fantasy Online), The Duke’s Left Eye (currently submitted and waiting), The Heart of a Hero (incomplete), The Stones of Ymir (written, but not stand-alone, yet), Danger Well Met (needs a good polish), The Spirit of Stone (incomplete).

My plan is to string these stories together to make a novel. There are three different Ilenna’s, though. I have a young (12 years old) Ilenna in three stories. I have an older (17-18) rebel living in the city in two stories. I have the 30 something Ilenna helping in a rebellion in two stories. This sounds like three separate women. Three novels? I have half a dozen ideas outlined and an arc for at least one of the novels.

My main problem is the lack of a hero. I started the Ilenna character as a foil to a Fafhrd type sailor. In the original story (from around 1985) she is around 14 and the older sailor adopts her. There cannot be any romance, though, so I have to wait until she is older before she meets the sailor. The older Ilenna meets a criminal who goes through a stone gateway between worlds (as in Witch World) and he is the character in Through the Stone Gate and The Duke’s Left Eye. I need a stronger hero than Fafhrd, though.






July 7th, 2004

The Duke’s Left Eye

I sent a story out to SDO Fantasy last month. They notify by the publish date, which was 7/1. I never received anything. I was going to send my usually snotty sarcastic query missive, when I realized that I misspelled my email address in the body of the RTF file. I sent an apology and asked the editor to resend my rejection, hoping for something that might help the story. A form reject came back.

I went over the story. It’s called the Duke’s Left Eye. I discovered numerous typos and grammatical errors. I had originally sent it to Arthur for a quick edit, but I guess he didn’t really work too hard on it. Carlos does a better job, but lately he has had computer problems.

I cut 500 words from the story and then added 700 more to fill out some of the thinner places. It’s into Neverary now. The editor at Neverary gave me nice feedback on the last one I sent him. (The Thoat) and I took his advice and rewrote parts of that story.

The Duke’s Left Eye is a story my Father told me when I was small boy. I found the story of the archer Astor who wrote on his arrow “Phillip’s Left Eye” and actually put out the Greek king’s left eye. My father studied Greek mythology in college. Astor was hanged, but in my father’s story, the archer was rewarded by the king for his skill, even though he shot out the King’s eye. My father is very sick with cancer right now and I’d like to get the story published before he dies. In my version of the story, the archer kills the Duke and turns the course of the battle. I think, though, that my father’s version is the better one.