Editor Lessons and Randomness

7 February 2002

More rejections for WIHA stories this morning, and no new acceptances yet today. I'm down to 3,700 words plus the numbers from the two stories that haven't come in yet, as far as rejection word count goes. I think that's good enough for now. If I try to narrow the field any further, I may have trouble fitting within the space constraints of this anthology. David asked me on Tuesday what the space constraint is, why I'd like the antho to be around 60,000 words. Mostly it's a royalty issue. I said in the guidelines that the antho would be around 60,000, and that the royalties would be pro-rated based on percentage of the antho. And we're not going to charge any more than $5 for it, so the amount of money I've essentially promised "my" authors, per copy, is fairly set. I figure people probably won't get upset if the total is 62,000, but I can't just accept everything I like and make it 80,000. That's not ethical under the circumstances, simply because I provided an estimated word count upon which they could base their own decisions on whether to submit or not. Maybe most of them don't care if they get 10 or 15 cents for each copy sold, but in case they do....

So. I've been rejecting stories I really like and getting rejections from editors who say they really like my stories. I suppose it could be worse on both sides -- but it certainly could be better.

One of the stories I rejected this morning, I rejected for being a reprint, essentially. It was good, but not so good that I thought it deserved to see publication twice rather than having one or two of the others under consideration see publication once. I've accepted reprints, and I'll probably do so in future anthologies, but if it's coming down to the wire and I'm not absolutely in love with either story, I'll pick the one that's not a reprint every time.

Also, if I'm equally enthusiastic about three stories, but one of them is the same length as the other two, I'll reject the longer one and buy the shorter two. More variety is better -- not exclusively, of course, I've bought stories in the upper end of our range. But it's one of the considerations.

What else have I learned? Well, it looks like the short story/novelette boundary line is a fairly natural one. The word limit for this antho was the same as that boundary -- 7500 words. I got exactly one story that was more than 7000 words but less than 8000. (Yes, I know, the guidelines said 7500. A few people either thought I didn't really mean it or queried to see if I'd read something a little longer.) Since I've written stories at all kinds of lengths, including the novelette boundary range, this was surprising to me. But it looks like the folks who drew the line knew what they were doing.

I think that's enough of the editorial lessons of the day.

I finished Starfish on the train yesterday (not recommended) and rambled on in my journal. I can now tell you which sections of the Richmond line are good for writing and which are not. (Anything north of 12th St.: good. Anything south of Bayfair: takes skill.) Went grocery shopping -- strawberries on sale! Scott is all jealous that I can get strawberries at this time of year, and on sale, too. I never claimed that there were no perqs to California living. So...I'm going to make shortcakes this afternoon and put some of the strawberries over them. Yum. There was rhubarb in the grocery store, so I could have gotten a stalk and made myself a nice strawberry rhubarb sauce, or a lot of stalks and made myself a nice strawberry rhubarb crisp. But rhubarb is not something one buys in the grocery store. It's just not. There are rules to these things. However, if we live in an apartment much longer, without any rhubarb growers around us, I may decide that some of them are silly rules and ought to be discarded.

The pesto calzones were good, and I know how to make them good good. They're really easy, too. Pizza dough. Pesto. Chopped mushrooms, walnuts, tomatoes, spinach. Fold. Bake. Yum.

Also I worked on the Not The Moose Book, of course...substantially but not extraordinarily. Scenes of paranoia and rushing about trying to handle things that are beyond one's control. Hmm. Many things in this book appear to be beyond the characters' control at the time, and only in hindsight do they figure out what they should have done. Good thing it's not all like that, or it'd be really depressing.

Discovered that I had the wrong area code for my aunt's house in Phoenix, so I got the right one from Mom last night and will be calling to talk to Grandma today.

Oh, and I'm trying to figure out what to write for the next Spellbound, if anything. It's a wizard theme, children's stories. I don't have one in mind, but I doubt that I'll come up with anything for the next theme (Things That Go Bump In The Night -- not "my thing"), so I kind of want to do one for this. Unfortunately, what I came up with was a Genie story, and Genies and Wish-Granters was the last issue's theme. Sigh.

I can't believe it's only Thursday. It felt like yesterday should be Friday at least. I feel like just cocooning in here at home for the rest of the week. Luckily, unless my grands decide to come up right now, that's totally doable. (And even if my grands come up, shifting cocoons from my house to my godfather's and back again is not that big an issue.)

They've officially dropped contraction for this year. Whew. (I'm talking about baseball.) Now if only we could figure out some suitably evil thing that could happen to Pohlad....

Yes, I'm in random mode, why do you ask?

David sent me this page of alternate authors for Lord of the Rings. I particularly loved Wodehouse, Kipling, Roddenbury, Hemingway, and A. A. Milne. Mother, Dad: go read these. The rest of you, too, but I know that Mom and Dad sometimes don't follow links. This should not be one of those times.

I read A Midwinter's Tale yesterday. I think it's my nominee for worst-named and possibly worst-overall Father Greeley book. On the other hand, I bought it for 50c at the library and had very low expectations, and it entertained me. Also, I was in a senselessly whiny mood, and it helped fix that right up. (I think the calzone and Mark and Timprov helped with that as well, though.) Now I'm reading Defender, the new C.J. Cherryh book.

Yesterday was Christopher Marlowe's birthday. I've just shattered one of our Dansk mugs on the kitchen floor, so I think it's time to be done for the day, except for this. I am amused. Not as amused as when a guy got fined 40,000 pounds for selling vegetables in ounces. But still amused.

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