Halfway Home

Passed the 50,000 word mark in MARE NUBIUM, after finally realizing that I’d started the last chapter in the wrong point of view and going back to re-work it. What I probably should’ve done is just inserted a note to the effect of “rework this” and pressed on, but it seemed too big an issue to leave unresolved.

It’s a wonder I finish anything. According to my 100K goal, I’m halfway through with the novel; who knows if the final version will be 90K or 120K, but it will be a wonder if I finish.

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Trinoc*coN Report

Today I made it to the last bit of Trinoc*coN, the local Raleigh-Durham SF&F convention.

I caught the tail end of a panel on whether Harry Potter is destined to become a literary classic (the panelists and audience were each about evenly split between “yes” and “maybe”), then was on a panel about the paranormal in fiction and nonfiction. We had an interesting discussion amongst ourselves until a few audience members straggled in … but such is the hazard of Sunday morning panels.

I moderated a panel on SF’s broken technological promises, which was okay … but I’m not a very good moderator. The panel was entitled “Where’s My Flying Car?” and one of the panelists took that rather literally — he brought a nice PowerPoint slideshow about flying cars, which we all enjoyed, but we spent so much time on actual flying cars that we didn’t get to discuss some of the broader promises SF has made.

The highlight was seeing Hank Davis and Laura Haywood-Cory, both from the main office of Baen Books. (Laura got me on the guest list in the first place.) Hank was on the “Flying Car” panel, and as the most widely read of all of us he kept us firmly anchored in the genre. Laura did a great job moderating the very enjoyable panel on Southern Fandom.

This year’s Trinoc*coN was a small affair, a “relaxacon” as it’s known — more laid back and less programming-intense than usual — but very well done and I was pleased to be invited to be a part of it. Kudos and thanks to all the organizers and volunteers!

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Finally — 45,000

I had such a good streak going of nearly 5,000 words a week, and then July hit and my writing time dropped to almost nil. First was the weekend in northern Virginia for the wedding, then a few nights of Vacation Bible School prep, then the weekend in Massanutten for the family reunion, and then this last week doing Vacation Bible School nearly every night and most of the day on Saturday.

At least I’m a few words closer to the goal for now. This being “vacation week” (so to speak, it’s a working vacation for me), it remains to be seen how much writing I’ll get done. But at least I’m still moving in the right direction.

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Nicest (and most frustrating) Rejection Ever

If you ever wondered how close you can come without scoring in this game of darts called writing, the rejection e-mail I got yesterday should give you some idea. I’ve redacted the name of the editor and the magazine:

Dear Gray,

This is one of the moments in which I do not enjoy being an editor. After much consideration, _____ will not be using “She Walks Among Them at Night,” and you are free to submit it elsewhere.

As to why we did not accept “She Walks Among Them at Night,” I believe it just became a matter of preference with the limited spots we have. I normally give advice at this point concerning items that were issues for us during the consideration period, but I have nothing for this story. It is well written and engaging.

“She Walks Among Them at Night” was a fantastic read, and thank you for letting us spend so much time with it. I wish I had better news after the lengthy consideration, and I wish you the best of luck with this piece.

Submission Editor

I think they felt bad for holding the story for over six months. Now, to find another venue where it might fit.

Who knew encouragement could be so frustrating?



I was feeling pretty good until I popped in to the Codex Writers Group forum and saw that another member received the same rejection — with only the name of the story changed — a couple of days ago. Now it looks to me like a “standard” form rejection they crank out whenever they hold a story for a long time.

Frustrating, indeed.

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Forty Thousand

Is it strange to count the progress on my novel in 5,000-word increments? Maybe, but I’m doing it anyway.

As of tonight, MARE NUBIUM is a little over 40,000 words long — which, as my writing friend Eric James Stone pointed out on his blog, is the length criterion for status as a “novel.” However, since there’s also the story criterion — i.e., a story that’s complete and hopefully coherent — I’m not there yet.

But it feels good to be making progress!

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Above the Event Horizon …

If I’ve read the counter correctly, this will be my 100th blog post. And what better way to celebrate passing the century mark of this semi-sense (i.e., mostly nonsense) than to post a link to Tales of the Talisman, the current issue of which arrived in my mailbox this week and contains my flash fiction story, “Above the Event Horizon at the End of Time.”

I was pleased that one of my writing friends, Rick Novy, also has a story in this issue. His “The Great Basilisk Race” is good story that doesn’t follow the “everything works out fine” formula: the main character makes a difficult choice and then has to live with the consequences. I give him kudos for not giving in to the temptation to wrap things up too neatly — it made his story much more realistic than others I’ve seen.

As for my story, well … as flash fiction, at least it has the virtue of being short. 😉

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A Unique Idea that Wasn't

Found out this week that the “direct deposit” tax idea that was the foundation of my March 2007 Ornery American essay was actually published in the Summer 1993 issue of The Whole Earth Review. Ain’t that a kick in the teeth?

It was a prediction made by Kevin Kelly as part of an “Unthinkable Futures” piece he wrote with Brian Eno:

Software gains allow a certain portion of taxes to fall to the discretion of the payer. John Public can assign X amount of his taxes toward one service, to the exclusion of another. It’s a second vote that politicians watch closely.

I saw it this past Thursday, quoted on Futurismic. The Futurismic story referenced a BoingBoing piece I’d seen earlier in the week, but the quote didn’t appear in the BB item.

An online version of the original item is found here. My essay is at this link.

I went back into my archives and found the original version of my essay: I wrote it in February 1996. So even though the essay was over a decade old before I polished it enough to be publishable, the central idea was older and put forward by someone not me. Which goes to show that many people can have the same idea at close to the same time, but not everyone will do the same thing with it.

Still, my teeth hurt a little.

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Not as much progress as hoped on MARE NUBIUM — but considering last week was packed with something almost every night, writing time was extremely limited. Here was the run-down:

– Tuesday, choir practice (a standing appointment until we take a break after Independence Day)
– Wednesday, Cary Public Art Advisory Board
– Thursday, Triangle Filmmakers’ Special Interest Group (not that I make films, but it’s fun)
– Friday, Vacation Bible School training session
– Saturday, graduation party for four young-uns from the church
– Sunday, the usual plus a Special Called Business Meeting

Then today I spend half the day burning up very expensive gasoline going all over Cary and back and forth to the Baen office in Wake Forest. It seems I spent the other half standing at the counter in the Post Office while they tried to figure out the International Reply Coupons I was cashing in to send responses back to a couple of authors.

So, given all that, I don’t feel so bad that I only made it to a little over 33,000 words. I’m calling that one-third complete, and right now I feel pretty good about it.

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30 Thousand

Another week, another 5000 words on the novel. If I can somehow sustain this rate, I might be finished with the first draft of MARE NUBIUM by Explorers’ Day.*

Shoot, I’ll be thrilled to make it by Halloween, if that means getting it cleaned up and submission-ready by New Year’s.


*My preferred name for Columbus Day.

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