Today, I love my job because I just sold "Cryptic Coloration" to Baen's Universe, where it is tentatively scheduled for the August 2007 issue. (This is excellent news, because Whiskey & Water is scheduled for July 2007, per my editor Liz; and because it also indicates that Baen's Universe is still very much a going concern--and the best paying short fiction market in genre, I might add.)
I love this story. It's about something that happens to Matthew in September of 1996--a year, in other words, before Blood & Iron. I love it because I just reread it and still liked it, and it's wry and sad and funny, and it's about innocence and faith and the ways those don't protect you from mistaken assumptions, and it's for anybody who's ever known or been a struggling academic or a giggling oversexed eighteen-year-old girl.
Also, it has a monster in it.
I love my job because I got to see shiny smoke-and-mirrors top secrit preliminary cover art for Whiskey & Water, which looks very cool (all fallen angels and diamond-paned windows and thrones of skulls), and has sparked a conversation with my editor as to whether Hell is on Fifth Avenue or not. AND! I just heard that Blood & Iron has gone back for a second printing in trade paperback. So. If your bookseller told you that they couldn't get any in (as I heard from somebody this morning) go nag them again, for the love of Mike!
I love my job because I have a hemimanuscript of truepenny's new novelette to crit (yay!) and it's good. I love my job because the mailbox voodoo worked, and I got two rejections over the weekend, which means I can send a story to a market that specifically requested it. And I need to go put that in an envelope.
And I love my job because I have Great Harvest "stuffed potato bread" for breakfast, and boy that's good stuff. And there's most of a loaf still left.
And I love my job because my current favoritest short story of all the short stories I have ever written will be going up at Strange Horizons this week, and you can go read it as soon as the new issue goes live. It's called "Sounding," and--to steal and repurpose Ian Anderson's introduction for "Farm on the Freeway," it's a story that concerns itself rather loosely with the plight of the small New England fisherman.
It's a Promethean Age universe story too, though none of the characters here appear anywhere else in that continuity, and it's entirely devoid of Prometheans or Fae. But that's the magic and logic system at play. It's what stillsostrange calls a "sappy ocean story," which between the two of us, we have a certain amount of luck peddling to Jed and Susan and Karen and company.
I love it because it is the most New Englandy story I have ever written. It's easy to write stories-of-place about locations where you didn't grow up, landscapes that you came to as an alien. I can write about Las Vegas all day.
New England is harder for me, because I can't get enough distance to see it clearly. I can set stories here. I can evoke the place like nobody's business. By my assumptions are New England's assumptions, and I don't see the fictional New England. What I see is a landscape not of little white churches and storefront post offices, not of white colonials and town greens... but of Victorian and Edwardian townhouses and triplexes, of the sons of farmers and insurance agents, the daughters of textile workers and fishermen gone into service jobs, or catering jobs, or IT.
And the hills ablaze with chilly fire in October, which grays to a smoky mist of bare branches with November's rain.
So I love this story, because I think I got this one right. I think I got Southern New England into it, salt and worry and the cold gnawing sea in its bones. The words and images sound right when I run them through my head.
And it's my Penelope story. Because I owed Dorothy Parker one.
I love my job because I got through the incredibly emotionally difficult bit in the middle of By the Mountain Bound last night and this morning, and by Jove it works. And bits of it still made me choke up.
I love my job because my agent started reading Undertow, and said so far she really likes it.
So, yeah, Despite the perilous nature of my employment, and despite the cash flow crunch I am currently undergoing (doom of the freelance writer: I am waiting for a great deal of money, by my standards, which will show up sometime between now and December. In the meantime, the rent needs paid!) today is the sort of day that makes all the work, the decade-plus of unpublished struggle, the days when the books make me cry and not in a good way, worthwhile.
You can touch me, but it will cost you a quarter.