Fiction author again!

analogjan2022aToday’s mail tells me I’m a fiction author again! Contributor’s copies of the January/February 2022 issue of Analog Science Fiction & Fact showed up, and my story, “On the Rocks,” is on page 140.

analogjan2022cAs I note in the bio attached to the story, this is my <gasp> 30th year of publishing fiction in Analog (my first, “Fermat’s Legacy,” was in the September 1992 issue).

So, woo! and hoo! (And now I have to write more fiction, since with this publication, I don’t have any stories in inventory anywhere.)

Good(ish) rejection

Like all writers, I get far more rejection notes than acceptances. It’s just part of the process of being a writer, and nearly all of them, regardless of the words, are just a way of saying “no, we’re not going to publish this story”: mark it in the submission log, find another potential market for the story, and move on. Today, however, I received a very surprising rejection. The first two paragraphs are just standard form rejection, but then the editor appended this third paragraph:

Personal note: This was a fascinating and experimental piece to read. It was unpredictably and beautifully eerie. Your prose succeeds at building and sustaining the tension driving this story.

Other than the in-person rejections from friends, this is the nicest I’ve ever received. In the long run, it doesn’t really matter: the story still hasn’t sold, and the rejection isn’t going to make it any easier to sell the story, but for a few moments today, it feels nice.

Science Fictionally Productive

In the days of LiveJournal, it was “three things make a blog post.” Well, today it was more than three, but it was very productive science fictionally, and felt quite good.

First, there was a productive session of editing a novel Fantastic Books will soon be publishing.

Then I took a very nice walk in the woods. Found an interesting group of green acorns on a fallen piece of branch, and saw a rabbit on the way back.

Then I looked at my email, and found a contract! It’s a story the editor had told me he was buying three months ago, but it didn’t feel “official.” Now, reading the contract, it feels much better, almost official. My next appearance in Analog will be a short-short story called “On the Rocks”!

Then I checked the other email account, and found two messages. One, telling me the panel I’d recorded for ConTinual way back when will finally be posted tomorrow morning, about 9:30. You can access ConTinual at, and I’ll add in a link to the panel when it’s available. The panel was about the enduring and growing legacy of “The Eye of Argon,” with Keith R.A. DeCandido, Hildy Silverman, and Michael A. Ventrella. [Edited: here’s the link for the Facebook-hosted video: ]

The other message gave me my schedule for virtual Capclave (online on October 17). At 3:00pm Eastern time, I’ll be talking about “Writing Time Travel and Paradoxes” with Iver P. Cooper, A.T. Greenblatt, and James Morrow. And then, at 4:30, it will be “Centennial Superstars” with Walter H. Hunt and Barbara Krasnoff.

So, yes, it was a pretty good day.

P.S. – I still hate this new “blocks” editor for blog posts. I’ve read several articles, but still can’t figure out how to put the image in a paragraph of text and run the text around it (like I used to be able to). Instead (as you can see above), all I’ve been able to figure out is to post the picture as its own paragraph (“block”), which is just ugly.

The books are waiting for me

Just got confirmation that several boxes of The Presidential Book of Lists and Ranking the First Ladies have arrived at a friend’s house in San Diego. I had them shipped out so that I’ll have them when I speak on Sunday, July 3, at the American Mensa Annual Gathering. The books are there, now I have to get there. I generally love traveling, but am somewhat trepidatious about using airports. At the moment, my eagerness to go to the AG overshadows my distaste of the airports, so I hope to see some of you there!

My talk, scheduled for 12 noon on Sunday, July 3, is titled “Hail to the Chiefs! (And Their Vice Presidents, and First Ladies….)”. I’ll be selling/signing books directly after (though if you catch me earlier in the convention, I may be able to sell you an “advance” copy).

Carrying my book

I’ve been thinking about the new book, and that got me thinking about my first book. It’s been several years, but I still remember the feeling when my editor called and told me she had a few advance copies and her desk, and asked where should she send one. I screamed at the phone “I’ll be right there!” (At the time, I was temping for a company two blocks from her office.) I ran over, grabbed my book copy (and then had a wonderful evening ride on the Staten Island ferry to meet the family for one of the holidays).

Anyway, since then I’ve had a copy of The Presidential Book of Lists in my computer bag and one in my briefcase, so every time I’ve had a bag with me, I’ve had a copy of the book. I can’t remember the last time I pulled it out to show someone, but it’s always with me as a reminder that I did it: convinced a publisher to pay me money to publish my book.

Well, now my first copy of Ranking the First Ladies has shown up, and since I went away for the weekend (to Massachusetts to attend a wedding tomorrow), I took RtFL with me. But now I’m wondering if I should retire TPBoL from the bags. That somehow feels wrong, and yet carrying both books starts to get a little silly (especially since I’m expecting Ranking the Vice Presidents to show up in another month or so, and then it would be three). I know my novelist friends can’t possibly do that; so many of them have a dozen or three score books to their names already. But still, for all that I’ve been a professional writer for a long time, I’m still enough of a newbie to be very excited, and to want to have them with me.