This will make three posts in a row that have nothing to do with driving to the West Coast. I may have to change the subtitle instead of just choosing a style that makes it hard to see.
My New Year’s Resolution this year was to make 2014 the year I become a published author. I think it is unrealistic to hope that I will get my novel published this year, even if I find an agent. I am quite sure that agents have many good reasons to be leery of first novels, but even leaving that aside, the sheer time it would require to go from manuscript to book makes ten months an awfully tight timeline for a beginner. With that in mind, I am dusting off my short story skills. I have always enjoyed writing short stories, going right back to grade school. In the late seventies or early eighties, I even managed to get a couple into print, courtesy of CanPara, the magazine of the Canadian Sport Parachuting Association. In professional circles, this probably doesn’t qualify me as a ‘published author’, as this was not a paying gig. But they printed some pretty good stories by other writers, so I am still faintly proud to have appeared in their pages under the pen name of Conway Brown. So what was I writing then, and what am I writing now? In grade five or six, I wrote a mystery set by the ocean. It was awful, of course, but not make-your-eyeballs-bleed awful. In grade seven or eight, I wrote science fiction; I remember a story about a navy crew recovering a mysterious metal orb from the sea (remember, Dad was an oceanographer) just as the mother-ship turned up to retrieve their probe. My two efforts for CanPara were an aviation adventure (stingingly but accurately labeled a ‘Cockpit Drama’ by one of my skydiving friends) and a near-future or possibly alternate world science fiction piece that combined parachutes and airships.
Fast forward to the twenty-first century. My first novel (tentatively titled Skytraders) is science fiction. Solar-powered airships are a wonderful technology if you need aviation but don’t want oil refineries on a virgin planet. But the story is really about gliders and the girls who fly them. Somewhere, someone just said, ‘Dammit – he means women!’ I do know the difference. The Avians of Celadon (If I was Anne McCaffrey, that would be the title) are girls. If they are good enough, and lucky enough, they get to be women later.
While I’m waiting for people to get back to me on the novel, I’m trying to retroactively pay my dues in the short-story arena. I have entered a couple of contests this year – hey, it is only February, I’m working on it, okay? – one in Ontario, one in Manitoba. I also submitted a story to a science fiction magazine on January the first. At that time, they were saying that their response time was likely to be between two and six weeks, which is pretty quick. However, their website suggests that it is more usually in the range of two or three months. Two months have gone by and they haven’t yet sent me a scathing rejection letter. My hope is that this means that the story is not bad enough to go straight into the shredder of shame, but not good enough for an immediate offer in its present form. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it strikes the editor as having potential. I concede that it is somewhat awkward. I was ‘licking the spoon’ when I wrote it – using the world-building and backstory from my novel to spin off a prequel tale. This made it easy to get started, but may have stilted the narrative.