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bear by san

December 2021



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bear by san

When we went for our walk yesterday, we saw a flatbed truck pulled off the road, its bed loaded up with cubes of pressed scrap copper like bales of cybernetic hay. It shone.

Deb Coates has a thoroughly wonderful story up at Strange Horizons this week:"Magic in a Certain Slant of Light."

And, um, I don't just say that because I appear to have been Tuckerized. *g*



"Tuckerizing" somebody is when you sort of kind of convert one of your friends into a character into a story. *g* I'll give you a hint: my given name is Sarah.
*g* The "find out what your character wants and take it away from him" line is a direct quote. *g*
But! But!

Nora knows that this conversation will eventually inspire Sara to write a series of short stories dealing with the domestic lives of scientists, played out against the background of historic events. Characters will lose what they want most in all the world and science will not help them win it back.


(Liked the story. Particularly the bit that I don't want to spoil for anyone that hasn't read it. But it made me go 'awww'.)
*g* Sarah is not so much a Tuckerizer as notorious for stealing bits of names from people she knows and making off with them, giggling. Which is to say, she's notoriously bad at naming things. *g*
You should rec stuff more often; I thought that story was amazing. And it made for a good stylistic break between chapter drafts. (Ignoring the momentary 'wow, I wanna write like that, too' flash, but I'm learning to ignore that.) But then, maybe I just like the bittersweetly romantic things.

Shhh, don't tell anyone I said that. It'll ruin my rep as a bastard.
My lips are sealed.
Oh, thank you! I've always liked Deb Coates' work--and this one is just splendid!
She's shiny, isn't she?

*happy sigh*

Off-topic, re slush reaction

I don't want to be unreasonable, but I've been mulling over making this comment for a couple of days, and I think it is justified.

I do see that reading slush is probably very frustrating. I know that after reading through story after poorly-written story, plus the more competent ones that are unsuitable for that market, the writer of each story is lucky to get anything more than a form rejection. I realise that a slush reader only want to spend so much time on each rejection, and that it isn't their job to offer an in-depth critique.

I'd have accepted without comment a form rejection on the story I recently submitted. I wouldn't have been happy, exactly, but I would have *understood* it.

I didn't understand the logic behind your statement: "It didn't work for me", without any further elaboration. *What* was it that didn't work for you? Was it the plot, the writing style, something else?
As a professional author yourself, I thought it was peculiarly unhelpful to turn down a story with a remark that essentially meant 'I didn't like it'. You must be aware from your own experience, surely, that that particular unqualified reaction is one of the most useless things any reader can say to a writer.
If you didn't have the time or inclination for anything more detailed, perhaps a completely impersonal response would actually have made more sense.

If I've over-reacted, I am sorry. I'm not looking for an elaboration on your rejection, and I hope I haven't been obnoxious about this. It's just been bothering me, and I can't stop thinking about it until I've said something.

Re: Off-topic, re slush reaction

Well, it *is* generally considered poor form to respond to rejections--but your comment makes me suspect you must be new at this whole submitting thing, so here goes, and I'm sorry if addressing this in a public forum proves unpleasant.

"It didn't work for me," is a polite way of saying that the story didn't hang together, for one reason or another, and I suspect you're going to hear it a lot if you persist as a writer. That's not a reflection on your ability as a writer or lack thereof (I just glanced at your info page and you have no name listed, so I have no way of knowing who you are). I've got a pile of rejections here about four inches thick, and I'd guess that half of them say something like "it didn't work."

It's not a form rejection. A form rejection is "isn't quite right for X magazine" or "we've decided not to accept ths story for publication."

"It doesn't work for me" means just what it says; the story didn't work for the editor. The story failed as a narrative, in other words. Either it didn't provide resolution, or the plot didn't hang together, or there were a number of other, more subtle flaws that added up in ways that amounted to the story "not working."

When we say "didn't work," it generally means that we can't find something more specific to say; the story just doesn't work, sorry. It maybe has a gear out of place, or a line of tension that doesn't work, but it's not something we've been able to identify on a reading.

It just doesn't work.

We say "for me," because we know that "working" is subjective. There are nebula-winning stories that don't work for me. I've taken stories that got a "didn't work" from one pro market and sold them unchanged to another pro market.

I'm sorry that I was unable to offer a more detailed comment, but the fact remains--it's not my job to offer pointed commentary on stories as submitted, and many writers would be rather offended if I tried (you might, if you are looking for critique partners, try or ) --and also, sometimes all I can say about a story is "it didn't work for me."

Re: Off-topic, re slush reaction

Firstly, thank you for the response - I wasn't sure you would at all, and certainly not that fast. Thanks for your patience.
You're right, I'm relatively new at this - my sincere apologies if I offended you, because that was not I meant to do. I wasn't complaining about the lack of a critique, and I'm very sorry if it sounded like I was.
I do know what a form rejection, and I was making the point that yours wasn't, not saying it was.
Thank you for explaining the wording, I appreciate you taking the time to do that.

Re: Off-topic, re slush reaction

I hope it does help. Honestly.

If it's any consolation, the "it just didn't work for me" rejections never go away. *g* I got one that was more or less that this week.

Re: Off-topic, re slush reaction

It does help, and thank you.

And, um, I won't offer any comments on my rejections in future. The wonder of the internet, enabling people to make idiots of themselves in front of a ladger audience than they'd normally manage!
I shall go away and stop taking up your time now - but I appreciate you being so gracious about it.

Re: Off-topic, re slush reaction

Not at all. *g* Come back any time.

It is true that you can't learn if you don't ask, after all. *g*


It's always nice to drop in someplace and see that people are saying nice things about me (you just can't get too much of that, say I :-)

I'm really pleased that people like the story. It didn't get out much before I sent it to Strange Horizons so it's great to get feedback.

Honesty compels me to admit that 'Sara' was named 'Sara' before she decided to speak your most excellent words. In fact, I'm not sure I knew your name was Sarah (though it's more than likely that my backbrain knew--it writes most of my stories anyway). Very cool.

And so you don't think I only dropped in to talk about me (though it is a fascinating subject), I've been lurking here for awhile (even linked to your 'show vs tell' entry over on my recently resurrected blog). I'll try to be less a lurker and speak up a little more often 'cuz there's cool writing stuff over here.

but the girl in "48 Directions ..." is totally named for me? right? right?

oh. foo.

and where is this secrit blog?


Yeah, totally...she's _totally_ named after you.

Except, uhm, she doesn't have a name. :-)

It occurs to me that no one in that story has a name except off-stage people we don't care about.

The blog is at I think it's also syndicated at LiveJournal


yup, right here--


We like your company, sweetie.

ANd I'll claim the tuckerizing anyway. *g* So there. *plants a flag in it.*


Oh, yes, you should definitely claim it because if you hadn't spoken that fateful line at the moment I needed it, the story would probably still be sitting around in my massive 'unfinished stuff' pile.

I read this story yesterday--to me it was a perfect example of why rules like "You must start out the story with a bang in the middle of action!" don't always need apply.


I loved this story, which is probably about as useful as saying "didn't work for me" in the context of the whole why issue. But I'm not being paid to critique it, so I don't have to bother. All I had to do was enjoy it, which is my favourite kind of story. Thanks, Deb.

Be Well, Live Well.

S.K.S. Perry