Partials and Rejections

Back home! I’m not too jet lagged yet, because I’ve been keeping busy sorting, unpacking, that sort of thing. Most notably, I’ve gone through two weeks worth of mail. The government sent our rebate check. That’s nice, because Japan was expensive. And there was some good writerly news.

Another agent asked for a partial. That’s two partials and one full out there. Okay, then. I’ll take it. As usual, I’ll let you know the whole poop once we have the whole story.

Meanwhile, here’s the list of rejections.

Matthew Bialer of Sanford J. Greenburger
Jill Grinberg of Jill Grinberg
Marcia Wernick of Sheldon Fogelman
Jodi Reamer of Writers House
Robin Straus of Robin Straus (which gave the material a considered reading)

So, I’m off to send out the partial and finish up unpacking. Back to being a writer type tomorrow in earnest.


A Quick Check In

I’ve been email-less until Tokyo this trip. That’s the problem with staying in charming old Japanese tatami rooms.

At any rate, alive and well, and ready to go home. Been reading loads on bullet trains, and will probably work on manuals on the flight back. The Neville paper is done.

Look for a travelogue eventually over at my awelkin journal. Since we jump into Convergence and Portus right after we get back, it’s going to be hasty for a bit.

Lots to say about the flood too. I’m interested in getting back and seeing how much our world will have changed in Eastern Iowa. Writerly, it’s now going to be several weeks until the FACF chapbook comes out. Given that the entire shelter was evacuated, of course.

Hope you are all safe, warm and dry. I’ll be home in two days.


The Calvary

That sound of drilling and hammering and vacuuming that is coming collectively from my basement is the sound of progress. Mark and Michelle, if it floods in our absence, leave it alone. The going theory now is that it shouldn’t, but if it does, it tends to swell up to merely the water table, which is just below our water heater and heater critical damage stage.

Looks like we may begin our trip El Norte sooner than I could have hoped. Getting up at 5 this morning paid off. Yes, our basement is still seeping like a teabag in a torrent.

*deep sigh*


Your Vacation Drama

Have you been watching the news? Cedar Rapids, that Iowa town that just flooded beyond all expectation and record, is 25 miles to my east. I work there. Needlesss to say, the college where I work has been closed since Wednesday afternoon.

I actually live in Blairstown, a nice dry town located away from the Iowa River. The town to the south, Marengo, occasionally floods a great deal, but not Blairstown.

In Blairstown, my house has always been dry. I live in a 140 year old house with an old limestone basement. Sure, it seeps a little, but for the most part, it’s not a problem.


That was then. Welcome to the 500 year flood plain. My basement is filling back up to match the water table. Yesterday morning we woke up to about six inches of water. We have no drain or sump pump. Until yesterday, we’ve never needed either, and it’s not one of the home repairs we prioritized.

The gamble now is to get the water in the basement low enough for us to get a sump pump in. The local hardware stopped by just after we’d started the entire wet vac process, and five hours later, when they were closed, we were ready for them.

Of course, the rains haven’t let up, and we’re full again down there. We’ll get up again at 5, and start the process again. They’re supposed to come back this morning.

All of this angst does not include that we have to get to Minneapolis today, to get to the airport tomorrow, and we have to navigate through a set of closed roads and alternative routes. It’ll be like a lab maze or a video game, depending on your centennial choice of metaphor.

Fine. I’m making this up as I go along. So is God. I get it.



How frustrating is it that while you must be working on Neville Longbottom and the Heroic Journey, you have several hot ideas for new projects that hold themselves up as shiny and beautiful.

Hulk Hercules, far from drudge work, is also usurped by these gems from your subconscious, at least for now.

You know, as a writer who wants to work that you must write the things you are obligated to write first, and so you shall. But you’ve all talked about it before. The thing you think you want to write lures you away from the thing you thought you wanted to write some months ago.

I know this happens to you. What do you do about it?


ps I want no less than two new YA series and a whole bunch of short stories. I want!

Short Story Markets for What Tamagos Write

Reminding self of the following places to send short stories to. Coincidentally, also educating the readers…

Drollerie (which has one now…)
Polyphony 8 (Wheatland Press) (logically, the next after 7)
Interfictions 2: that ambiguous selkie piece
Lone Star Stories
Strange Horizons
Abyss and Apex

Where else? And what about a magazine for YA markets?


Goblins; Neville Paper; Hulk Plans; Looking Ahead

Started reading Hines’ Goblin Quest on the exercise bike today. I’m totally in. I care about Jig, I love the humor, and there’s character driven conflict. PLUS there’s the added bonus of years and years of cliche gamer D&D rattling around in my brain, just waiting to be twisted. I’ll be recommending this one to Bryon. The great news is that our book group will be discussing it in December. Almost all of them were or are gamers. They will have such a rollicking time with it.

Good work Jim! I’m sure it just gets better after page 30.


Worked hard last night after getting the last of the queries for Substance out, organizing the Neville paper excerpts. I’m almost through Rowling’s Order of the Phoenix. I hope, along with some packing odds and ends tonight, that I will finish, and I can write this paper on the trip.

Indeed, it does appear we will be writing this vacation as well as reading. There’s the Neville paper, the (barely started) ELA Director manual, and lots of curricular revision to be had. Of course, always, Hulk Hercules


My plan for Hulk is fairly easy: I crank out 1000 words a day from August 1st until September 30th. That will give me 61K, probably more than I need for the book. October and November will be revision, if I need that long. I can do that, especially with my release time. I’m looking forward to doing that.

I would love to be done with Hulk early, so I can get rolling on the curricular guide and an entry for the Interfictions 2 anthology. I have this ambiguous story about selkies that I want to work out. But I plan on things taking until December 1.


This fall, I will begin anthologizing a novel I wrote back in the early 90s that doesn’t suck–Blood is Thicker Than Water on a group writing site Las Habladoras, my writing group is cranking up. I could probably send the novel around, but I don’t want my first book to be humorous fantastic Victorian adventure. That was then, and I’m not sure I could write 5 or so of those books now. However, you might enjoy it. I’m also going to use it as an opportunity to learn about podcasting. So, it’ll take the place of my queries–so many pages a week, and then a podcast of a certain length a week.

Yup. Publicity stunt all the way. Absolutely. 😉

Off to mail said queries, throw a surprise party, and visit a flooding town for traveller’s checks.


The End of the Queries

And then, there was a big happy dance!

I’ve sent out the LAST of the queries for Substance of Shadows. I have done all that a writer tamago can do in regard to that particular book for the next two months. That’s the amount of time we give ourselves to hear from the agents I sent to today. If we have to after that time frame has elapsed, well, we learn about slush.

Here are the final contestants.

Eddie Schneider of JABberwocky
Jill Grinberg of Jill Grinberg
Jodi Reamer of Writer’s House
George Nicholson of Sterling Lord Literistic
Taryn Fagerness of Sandra Dijkstra

So, starting with Nephele Tempest back in September, we’ve spent a mere nine months canvassing likely and less likely agents. We still have a partial and a full unaccounted for, as well as 21 left for feedback.


So, here at the Tamago, we plan to finish our Neville Longbottom paper, get a costume presentation ready, and maybe sew a costume. All other activity ceases on August 1st, as we begin writing Hulk Hercules. Later, I will share my canny writing plan. Yes, it does sound more mysterious than it is.


Woohoos are in order. I did it. You can too. Never say die. Finish your book, and get it out there!


I’ve learned something from the last three books I’ve read. The people who know me are going to all laugh at me, but it’s a new revelation for me, so lay off, okay?

I’ve discovered that what I like to write are books about relationships. I like to study two people or more revolving around each other like planets. Books can be about world building and unique environments. Books can be about action and plot. My books also have these things. But mostly, my books have a relational heart.

I like to read and write about how people bounce around in each other’s orbits, how the tugs and pulls of one affect the actions of another. I want everything in my stories to revolve around the relationship. From there I’ll bring in what it takes to make that relationship work.

I want to spend my literary career writing about Frodo and Sam. About Schmendrick and the Unicorn. About Kavalier and Clay. About Kate and Cecy. About the Count of Monte Cristo, Mercedes, and the 3 guys who set them up. And everything else sort of falls out from around the heart.

I notice that this is not what all books are about. I’ve read some very successful books that weren’t recently, and I just couldn’t do them. As a reader, a book without a relational heart turns me into ADD lass. I can only do plot and worlds and even pretty writing so long without a heart, regardless of genre. That’s probably my new question to ask before I pick up a book to read. What kinds of relationships does this book have that will keep me interested?

The next set of questions I have inevitably lead me to what does this mean for me as a writer? Lots of different kinds of books sell. Where does a relationship writer go? Especially one who isn’t naturally inclined toward romance.

Two questions then, for all of you:

First, what characterizes your writing, do you think?
Secondly, what are your favorite books, or who are your favorite writers who focus on relationships?