2004 news

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This copy of the blog doesn't have a comments facility, because it's manually written html. But there's another copy on Livejournal with user name julesjones and comments are welcome there:   http://www.livejournal.com/users/julesjones/. You can also email me at jules.jones@gmail.com

December 2004

19 December:

I posted the contract for my latest sale back to Loose Id yesterday. 25,000 word novella, m/m erotic romance sf, and likely to be the first of a series. This one's been interesting--I hadn't intended to submit it to Loose Id because one scene broke one of their (very few) content taboos. I sent it to my editor anyway for her own private amusement, because she'd been interested when I'd discussed it at an online chat. She wanted it... The problem scene has had to be revised, which was a tricky job because it's there for plot/character development purposes, not titillation. I couldn't just cut it. Rewriting 350 words so that the content is acceptable but the scene still serves its original purpose in the story is one of the hardest revision jobs I've ever done.

15 December:

Alyson's Ultimate Gay Erotica 2005 anthology is officially released today, so I have my first fiction publication credit in a dead tree format publication that pays more than contributors' copies. I must check the Campbell award rules; it would be slightly embarrassing to have started my Campbell clock ticking with something from a completely different (if equally despised by the literati) genre.

9 December:

Another review for The Syndicate: Volume 3, this time 4 stars and some nice comments from Just Erotic Romance Reviews. There's a copy of the review in the Brag Book.

Zara said "Send it along", so I've submitted a piece to Charm, Beauty, Strangeness. Also sent a couple of submissions to The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica.

5 December:

One of the joys of British computer magazines is that they come with cover disks that more often than not contain useful software. This month's useful software was a free ftp client, which I was most grateful for after half a dozen failed attempts over the last month to download one from the web. So I can now update my website myself instead of having to email the files to that nice Waveney Webs man who provides my server space.

Of course, I'm still having to do this over a dialup line. A metered dialup line. Ladies and gentlemen, please read the rant in Ramblings about minimalist websites. Everything I said in there several years ago still stands, apart from which browser I normally use (I finally abandoned the Spawn of Redmond a few months ago after the revelation of a security hole wide enough to fly a generation ship through...). If you cover your websites with gratuitous graphics, I'm not going to sit there for five minutes while they download. And no, five minutes is not an exaggeration, I've had one or two of those in the last week. As for Middlesbrough Borough Council, whoever designed your website should be locked in a cell with only a BBC Micro with no mouse and an acoustic coupler modem for access to the outside world.

I really, really miss my DSL connection.

The good news: The Syndicate: Volume 3 was given a five cups review by Coffee Time Romance. There's a copy of the review in the Brag Book.

I received my contributor's copies of Alyson's Ultimate Gay Erotica 2005 anthology last month, and very nice they look, even if I haven't had a chance to read the book yet. The book isn't officially released until the 15th of December, but I finally had a chance to check the websites yesterday, and it appears that the book is available for pre-order from Alyson's own shop, Amazon and Amazon UK.

Alex and I have offered a prize for Romance Junkies' Christmas competition. More details when we have them, but we've offered a download of any volume from The Syndicate (or alternatively a download of Promises to Keep), plus a set of prints of the cover art from the three Syndicate books published to date, signed by both of us, and as a suitably geeky extra, a gmail invite code.

Got back into the submissions routine, starting with sending a query to Zara about a potential submission for Charm, Beauty, Strangeness. The various "Best of..." anthologies are also open for business, so doing some selecting and printing out of suitable prospects.

Loose Id provisionally accepted another submission, although the acceptance is subject to me revising the story to bring it within their guideline restrictions. It's a perfectly reasonable request, but it remains to be seen whether it's possible to do this without damaging the story--the problem scene is there for good plot and character development reasons, and it's not going to be simple to achieve the same effect while staying within the guidelines.

November 2004

29 November:

Other news from this month:

The Syndicate: Volume 3 was released by Loose Id on the 16th and is now available for purchase online. There's an excerpt from Volume 3 available on the Loose Id website.

Both Promises to Keep and the previous volume of The Syndicate picked up good reviews from Coffee Time Romance and Just Erotic Romance Reviews.

My erotica short story A Sparrow Flies Through was accepted for the Down and Dirty 3 anthology from Pretty Things Press.

28 November:

I've been mostly offline for the last month, and will continue to be for at least another month. I had to return temporarily to the UK at short notice because a relative was seriously, and as it turned out, terminally, ill. I'm grateful for the support I've had from various people.

October 2004

27 October:

The new edition of The Syndicate: Volume 2 was released yesterday by Loose Id and is now available for purchase online.

The rewrite story I was working on has been formally submitted to Loose Id, although I still have to write the synopsis for it.

24 October:

Rejection from Flytrap -- Tim likes the story but doesn't think it will suit. I'm not too down, since it was another "please keep submitting" rejection, and a suitable market has appeared in the meantime. One that I might have actually written this story for, rather than merely failing to be obviously unsuitable. :-) Off to write yet another cover letter...

23 October:

I have a bad cold, or a mild dose of flu, or (going by the symptoms) both at once. As a result, I have the attention span of a goldfish. Sorry if I have not replied to emails -- I know I've missed a couple because I didn't have the functioning brain cells to read and reply, and simply forgot to answer them later. I am also staying off the phone because talking makes me cough.

I've put up a page with the cover art, excerpt and advance reader comments for Promises to Keep. There's also a page in the Brag Book, although at the moment it's only got the advance reader comments.

I did manage to finish the submission draft of the rewrite just as my brain went offline. Now have to decide where to submit it, as it's ended up more erotic romance than erotica. I'll worry about that when I can think for more than thirty seconds at a time.

19 October:

Promises to Keep has been released by Loose Id and is available for purchase online.

Writing over the last few days has been the accountant story for the joint authorship work, and the rewrite project for the solo work. Making reasonable progress on both.

It occurred to me that it was some time since I'd sent my submission to Flytrap, and I hadn't heard anything back, while other Rumor Millers were reporting turnarounds of a few days. Checked Tim's blog and discovered that this was probably because he's responding immediately on rejections, but leaving the "maybes" until after submissions close and he sits down to make his final selection. This is good, because it means he's considering it as a possible. This is particularly good, because this is the story that could be difficult to place -- it's got too much sf fan neepery to fit well in a non-sf market, it's got too much sex to fit in many sf markets, the sex is in the wrong place for it to be properly paced for an erotica market, and it's got the right pacing for romance but has a complete lack of HEA. I do make things difficult for myself...

15 October:

No actual writing today, because we were going over the edits on The Syndicate 2. It's a job that's tedious but requires concentration, which tends to leave you feeling very much not like writing new words afterwards.

14 October:

Well, Torquere told me that it would be available on the 15th, but it's gone up a few hours early...

My short story Gone Fishing has been reprinted by Torquere Press in their new ebook anthology Myths, released for Halloween. If you like m/m romance, take a look at this book and its companion volume Monsters, currently featured on Torquere's home page at http://www.torquerepress.com/

I'm also one of the featured authors this month--go to the featured author page and scroll down to find my ramblings on gay erotica and fairy tales.

12 October:

Someone in A Certain Newsgroup decided to make sure that everyone had noticed my sig advertising the release of the first volume of The Syndicate. I'd thought that everyone in the group had satisfied their curiosity by now, but apparently not. A bunch of people came over to look. Hi guys. No, Allard is not based on any particular person in the group, even if collectively you had a certain... influence... on his personality. :-)

I pointed out that the standard cover that Loose Id uses for Flings (shorter stories) was somewhat misleading for an m/m story. So I was presented with a nice new cover suitable for the sort of thing I write. You can see it on Loose Id's page for Promises to Keep. And apparently I'm allowed to say that it will be out this month. :-)

I've added a Brag Book to the site so that I have somewhere to put reviews of my stuff. It probably says something about me that it had to be a Brag Book, because my website already had a reviews section for the reviews I write of other people's stuff... There's now a reviews page for The Syndicate 1, which so far has been reviewed by three romance review sites, plus has several advance reader quotes.

2 October:

Did some minor revisions on Promises to Keep last night and sent them off to my editor. Raven did some edits overnight and sent them back to me for approval. They all looked okay, so the initial editing pass is complete. There's still work to be done but it's out of my hands for the moment. I've also received the likely publication date, although it's still provisional so no further details here for now.

September 2004

30 September:

Loose Id have accepted my short story Promises to Keep, to be published as a Fling. The aim is to have it in the Halloween releases, although as always this is subject to change. M/M erotic romance. Some vampires prefer older men...

Another good review for The Syndicate 1, this time by Sinclair Reid at Romance Reviews Today. It'll be in the October edition, but here's an extract:

"THE SYNDICATE: Volume 1 is a rather humorous and erotic story about two men. Allard and Vaughn are total opposites, but they have one thing in common -- well, actually two, but we won't go there -- attraction to each other... Amusing characters, humor, and delicious sex are all present. For a very interesting change of pace, try THE SYNDICATE: Volume 1."
29 September:

Alex and I hauled out the accountant story yesterday and did some useful outlining etc work on it, even though no actual words were added. Today's writing was 600 words on the rewrite.

27 September:

Much rejoicing last night when I saw the Just Erotic Romance Reviews review of The Syndicate 1. 4/5 stars and H rating, plus some very nice comments from someone who appreciates good geekpr0n. :-) Extract from the review by Michelle Naumann:

"The first thought that came to my mind after finishing The Syndicate: Volume 1 was Ďa rollicking romp through spaceí... Maybe itís the techno geek in me that made me devour every word. I prefer to think that itís because of the good characterization, witty dialog and engaging story. Iím off to haunt the Loose Id website to wait for Syndicate Volume 2."

The review's in JERR newsletter #34, currently available to subscribers to their mailing list. It will go up on the website in a month.

Wrote a review myself tonight--brief review of one of Loose Id's Flings. I was actually sent an ARC of this before it was released, but unfortunately this was while I was on the road trip, failing to get online with my own computer. I could see that the file was there in webmail, but couldn't get it downloaded and onto my machine. Which is a pity, because it was an entertaining little short and would have made excellent holiday reading. It's Samantha Winston's Time Tracker, and it's great fun.

26 September:

Couple of short story submissions sent off today--one to Flytrap, and another to Loose Id to be considered as a Fling selection.

22 September:

Some very helpful comments back from a beta reader on the serial numbers job. It looks as if the new backstory section I've added has done the job, and the story is viable as is. However, it could be improved with some more material added, so I'll be doing some more work on it.

21 September:

As most of my net haunts know by now [grin], The Syndicate received a 5 cup review from Coffee Time Romance. Am feeling extremely chuffed.

Finished the rewrite job--everyone now has a proper name, and some loose ends were tidied up.

Scrubbed out one lot of cupboards. Still have another set to do tomorrow, but at least there were only half a dozen caterpillars wandering across the ceiling today, so I must have found most of the things they've been eating. With any luck I'll have time to write tomorrow, instead of chasing caterpillars. They don't bother me (I kept silkworms as pets when I was a child), but they've taken an awful lot of my time over the last few days.

20 September:

Polite rejection from Vestal Review - 34 days

The kitchen is currently kingdom of the caterpillars. Moths got into the pantry cupboards, and into everything that wasn't in a sealed container. Spent much of the afternoon and evening working out what was infested and throwing it away. Also spent much of the time picking caterpillars off the ceiling - 100 yesterday, 120 today. Ho hum.

19 September:

Royalty statement in from Loose Id for the first month's sales of The Syndicate 1. In fact, it's the first week and a bit's sales, since the book was released towards the end of the statement cycle, and the sales figures are very gratifying. Yes, it's small beer compared with print publication, but fluffy BDSM gay romantic comedy in space wasn't likely to be taken up by a print publisher.

Finished the rough draft of the rewrite, although I still have to go through and find names for the people and places currently called things like [x]. I realised a while back that sitting agonising about names when they didn't immediately come to mind was a really good way to avoid getting on with actual writing, so now it's placemarkers and worry about the names later. Added 3600 words, so it's now 17800 total.

17 September:

Started filing the serial numbers off a novelette that started life as fanfiction. 580 words of backstory added, with a good idea of how the rest of the rewriting will go.

15 September:

All right, I give in. I've got a Livejournal now. It's the quickest and easiest way to provide a place for people to chat if they want to.

12 September:

Yahoo did start sending me email a few hours later, so it looks as if that's been sorted out. I thought this would be a good opportunity to properly test the gmail interface. Conclusion - it's one of the best webmail interfaces I've ever seen. I still hate it for anything other than emergency backup. One simple reason - it's displaying a fair number of posts in a teeny-weeny font size, and it's not obvious how to stop this. I could, of course, tell my browser to display those posts in a larger font size, but I like my browser set the way it is, thank you. First step will be to go and tell Yahoo to send the plaintext version, not the HTML version. With any luck that will put a stop to it. Failing that, it will be back to Turnpike, and yet another address on my main account to help with the sorting. I do love having infinite email addresses, as I shall point out to the IRS if they query my deduction for a British ISP account...

No, I still haven't even started on my Worldcon report. This is in part because one of the items to go in the report was having to email my dentist on the Friday of the con to request an emergency prescription. It is not a nice thing to realise that you have a tooth abscess, you are several thousand miles and three hours of time zone from your dentist, and you're just starting a five day convention that you really don't want to miss. Lovely, lovely man phoned through a penicillin and painkiller prescription to a local pharmacy. 2g daily of penicillin left me feeling queasy, but not as queasy as the bacteria felt, judging by the sudden lack of pain the morning after starting it. I spent most of yesterday afternoon having a root canal filling, and feel a bit sore but much better now.

Prior to the drill and fill session I was struggling with the html for adding images to a web page. As you may have noticed, this site is not exactly strewn with images. I've actually got some pretty pictures worth putting up now, namely the cover art for The Syndicate and photos from the road trip and Worldcon. Weirdness may ensue over the next few days as I learn previously unfamiliar html. This site is largely hand-coded, so no, I won't be just handing it to the wysiwyg editor to deal with. Should do interesting things to my bandwidth as the pages suddenly double in download size.

Many thanks to the members of #afp who put up with my querulous muttering yesterday and offered helpful advice on how to achieve what I wanted with the html. It's not their fault if it's still broken.

9 September - part 2

Very nice 31 day rejection from Strange Horizons yesterday, with comment suggesting that the story had actually been read all the way through. Which is good, because this is the one with the sex scene that's in the wrong place for good pacing as an erotica story, and too explicit for easy placement as an sf story...

Ghost Train was rejected by Glimmer Train on 30th August.

Looks like the score is two out of two for getting food poisoning at Worldcon. Fortunately this time it seems to have been at the airport on the way home, rather than spending Friday night at the con itself feeling very, very sorry for myself.

My relationship with Yahoo Groups is still one of mutual hatred. I tried but completely failed to join a couple of Loose Id's mailing lists before I went off on the Worldcon trip. I thought I'd unscrambled the problem this afternoon, when it finally condescended to let me join the open access group, and even post to it. Pity the rotten thing is not actually sending me copies of the emails, so that I'm having to read the group through Yahoo's evil web interface. I'll give it overnight to see if it coughs up with email before trying to join the other list.

9 September

Arrived home from Worldcon yesterday. I'm knackered, but had a great time. Will be adding stuff in more detail, maybe even later today, but the big news is that the new edition of The Syndicate Volume 1 has been released by Loose Id and is now available for purchase online. Volume 2 will probably follow next month, and volume 3 in November, but the dates aren't firm yet. You can find them in the forthcoming releases, which is worth doing, because Loose Id have commissioned some utterly gorgeous cover art - and if you look at all three volumes side-by-side, you'll find that they make up a single piece of art.

August 2004

17 August:

Proposed publication date for the new editions of The Syndicate is 7th September, although this isn't firm yet. If all goes according to plan, the two volumes originally published by Amatory Ink, plus a brand new volume, will be available from Loose Id from that date.

The "get that in the post" panic continues with a submission sent to Vestal Review.

I'm making up crib sheets to remind myself of which of my friends and acquaintances are doing panels when. Plus parties, etc. I have a scarily large number of dear friends whose physical appearance is a mystery to me, and it would be most irritating to discover later that I'd been in the same room at Worldcon as one of them with neither of us being aware of this...

16 August:

Sent two stories off to Circlet, having realised that I'd better get them in the post this week because the 2004 reading period closes at the end of the month. Attempted to submit Love is blind to Bywater Books but ran into problems with the electronic submission form. The webmistress is prodding it. Also sent a submission to Thermoerotic.

A certain amount of pre-Worldcon panic in progress at the moment, in part because I'm leaving at the end of this week for an extended trip that will include Worldcon. Hence the running around getting things in the post.

14 August:

Alex has signed the hardcopies of the contract for The Syndicate and emailed a scan of the relevant pages to Loose Id, so the contract is now effectively up and running.

Received a "no, but please keep submitting" form rejection from M Christian for my submission to Blood Lust. Off to Circlet Press next.

13 August:

Alex and I finished the f/f story, which is now titled Love is blind. It ended up at 2832 words by MSWord count--I haven't checked it yet by "250 words per page of doublespaced 12 point Courier".

12 August:

The burst of writing activity continued with a 1500 word erotic fantasy written today, plus a page of notes and dialogue for another erotica short. The first one was an attempt at writing something for a Readers' Letters section in a smut magazine--the zine that inspired this makes no pretence that these are anything other than fantasies, which made me feel a lot less silly.

11 August:

Good progress today. Wrote a 1500 word erotica short this morning--back to my usual m/m, although I appear to still be in this unprecedented attack of first person present tense. This afternoon started a new short story with Alex, of which we've managed 1000 words so far. This one is f/f, which is not our usual thing at all, but Bywater Books have a call for submissions for an anthology of funny lesbian erotica, and we loved the title so much that we just had to write something to submit to My Dog Ate My Dildo.

One of the things one learns from having a small website with low enough traffic to be able to eyeball the logs sensibly is how easy it is for Big Brother to watch you. For example, I deduce that one of my friends is currently on holiday in the Shetlands, but can't keep away from the net...

10 August:

DAW rejected Journey Into Freedom, but it was a very nice form rejection letter. The gist of it was "would not be a commercial success for us" and "please feel free to try again". I'm not in the least surprised by the assessment of the likely commercial success, because I've already had an agent tell me that it was good but was going to be difficult to sell, given the cross-genre nature of the content. And it's good that they didn't feel the need to discourage me from assaulting their slushpile in the future.

I'm rather less thin-skinned on this one, because I know that it's probably going to end up being something that won't sell until I already have a track record with stuff that's slightly less hair-raising for the marketing boys. So I was able to read the rejection letter in a rather more detached frame of mind than usual, and I'm impressed with how nice it actually is. It's a form letter that's been carefully crafted to let an author down as gently as possible, and reassure them that it's worth continuing to submit the manuscript to other publishers. I appreciate that thoughtfulness.

9 August:

Went through Alyson's edits on Naked. It was a slightly surreal experience. None of the stylistic changes were wrong, as such; they just changed it so that it didn't sound as if it had been written by me. Some of the changes were good ones, and some were in the category of, "I can see why you did that, but I don't have to like it." The latter were mostly the Great Pronoun Problem, editorial taste being to use names rather than pronouns far more often I would. If I could only learn to write het I wouldn't have to deal with the problem of making sure it's clear which "he" is being referred to. Left most of the edits alone, changed one that really was wrong (looked like a classic case of brain ordering one thing and fingers typing another, an experience I have had both as writer and editor), marked a few typos that had crept in during editing, and put it in the post.

Signed three copies of the contract for The Syndicate, and posted them on for the next lot of signatures. Alex will sign them and then email a scan back to Loose Id so they can get on with production without having to wait for the hard copy to wend its way back across the Atlantic. I hope the ebook will be available by Eclecticon so that I can send Steve pimping materials for the dealer's table.

8 August:

Submitted And if I offered thee a bargain to Strange Horizons.

Checked Torquere's edits on Gone Fishing--they all seem sensible, so sent off a note accepting them.

7 August:

No work done yesterday, because I skived off to see a rasfc friend who's in the area this week.

I needed the break. See 8th July for why. It was finally over today.

The Alyson editor sent the edits for Naked to me yesterday, so that's two lots of edits I need to get done in the next few days. But it was a useful reminder that I have sold a story, a comforting thought when opening the "didn't grab" rejection from F&SF this afternoon. 15 day rejection, slower than F&SF's usual standard because JJA went on holiday the day I posted the story.

4 August:

Submitted the new short story And the lights go down to Eros Noir.

I've booked my plane tickets for Worldcon. :-)

2 August:

Wrote an entire 2200 word short story today. The central image has been lurking for a while, but on Friday night a story idea started to crystallise around it, and on Saturday night I actually got the whole thing plotted out while in that limbo between waking and sleeping. It was running in the back of my mind on Sunday while I did other things, and late this morning I sat down and typed it out. Erotica noir, and--make sure you're sitting down--I've committed het. Bet one or two of the people reading this thought they'd never see that happen.

While I was engaged in that, an email arrived from Torquere bearing the edits on Gone Fishing. Edits marked in a Word file. This means hauling out the laptop, which has the Spawn of Redmond installed, so that I can see what the edits actually are. A job for tomorrow, I think.

1 August:

Updated the section of the website devoted to The Syndicate. There's now a blurb for Volume 3, plus minor changes to the other pages.

July 2004

31 July:

Submitted Ghost Train to Glimmer Train after doing some revisions. This is the one that was written in February/March 2001--and now looks as if it was written on the 12th of September that year. I don't hold out much hope, but will try it on a few more markets before giving up on it.

Alex has done the website updates for The Syndicate, now I just have to get them transferred to my copy of the pages.

The inhabitants of rec.arts.sf.composition decided that a cat-vacuuming lapel pin would be just the thing for recognising each other at cons, and a couple of wonderful people did some artwork and organised getting a batch of pins manufactured. Mine arrived yesterday, and I am pleased to report that they are unbearably cute.

26 July:

Checked the Slush God's journal, and discovered that he went on holiday the same day that I posted the story to F&SF's slushpile. This means a delay of a couple of weeks on the normally almost instantaneous turnaround at F&SF. It also means that JJA will be facing an enormous pile of manuscripts when he reaches the envelope with my manuscript. Oh dear.

Spent the morning Doing Stuff on the website, but haven't yet got as far as updating the sub-site for The Syndicate. Alex has been set on this task.

The postcard for Journey Into Freedom arrived back today, postmarked the 23rd. I presume this means that some time this week some hapless slushreader at DAW will be saying, "What is this?" The return postage is media mail rate, so even if they stick it straight back in the post it will be another couple of weeks before the sad remains are actually deposited on my doorstep.

Can you tell I'm not hopeful? I'll try it on Tor next, I think. Comments over at the Rumor Mill today suggest that I can cross Baen off the list, but I'd already done that anyway. The book's not really their style.

25 July:

All three Syndicate novellas have been accepted by Loose Id for publication as ebooks. This means that the first two will be removed from the Amatory Ink catalogue at the end of the month. The new editions will be released by Loose Id in the early autumn. We'll be updating the web pages for the series later this week, including putting up a blurb for the new volume.

23 July:

Blech. "Mad dogs and Englishmen..." I don't qualify, not being English (note for Americans and the English - "British" and "English" are not synonyms), and am usually sensible enough to stay out of the midday sun, but didn't have the choice on Wednesday. It was hot. Very hot. I had a mild dose of sunstroke on Wednesday evening, but was feeling a lot better (and looking less pink) yesterday morning after a good night's sleep. Pity I undid the good work this morning when I went down to the post office. It wasn't unpleasantly hot, but just the bright sunlight seems to have triggered a relapse.

The post office trip was in pursuit of a rejection from The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. My short story And if I offered thee a bargain is on its way to JJA's slushpile. I will be well pleased if it gets anything better than the bottom level of rejection. It's borderline for them, but 0.1% chance of being accepted is better than the 0% that not trying will ensure, and I'm quite happy to spend a couple of weeks on getting it rejected there before trying it on Strange Horizons, which is probably a better prospect.

And the reason for the snarky comment above about not being English is that the story is not in my usual voice, but is a deliberate use of what in theory is my native accent. In practice is another matter--I usually sound frightfully RP unless you're paying close attention. So I did a final read this morning with a view to checking that I had the rhythms right without using too many unfamiliar dialect words. Only one likely to be unfamiliar to fantasy readers, that I can see, and I'll be leaving that one up to the editor to decide.

Email from Torquere Press to say that they'd had so many good stories submitted to Monsters and Myths that they're going to split it into two. The contributor's CD will have both anthologies. My story will be in Myths.

20 July:

Neil Armstrong took a giant leap for mankind thirty-five years ago today. I'm old enough to have watched it, and young enough not to remember doing so, although my parents say that they did put me in front of the telly so that I could say in later years that I watched the first Moon landing. The first NASA activity I can actually remember seeing is the Viking mission. I hope I live long enough to see another manned lunar landing. I'm rather less hopeful of that today than I was on the tenth anniversary.

Two rejections -- one from Justus Roux, on the 12th (12 day response time, email), and one from Moist, on the 15th (about ten weeks, email).

Currently considering going to Worldcon. It will be ever so slightly expensive, because I'll be paying the on-the-door rate, but on the other hand, the reason I'm considering going is because a friend will be moving to Boston the week before, and we may well do the "stay at home and commute" thing we did when she stayed with me for ConJose. This is tedious, but does save a significant amount of money, and at this late date we're not going to get a room in the main hotel anyway. I hate trying to sleep in con hotels (emphasis on the "trying to"), so probably won't be any more shattered from commuting an hour each way from a bedroom in a building with one other person in it.

Must make a list of agents to query, especially as Hafren has sent me a couple of names to try in the UK. If DAW bounce Journey Into Freedom, I'll need to find another market, which might as well include querying agents, and if they accept it, I'll need an agent anyway. Erol reports getting a rejection after about ten weeks, so they're obviously making steady progress through the slush. It would be smart to have at least a vague idea of agents to try within the next couple of weeks.

9 July:

Cheque arrived from Fishnet for One Size Fits All. That was quick. :-)

8 July:

Fishnet's first issue is out, with One Size Fits All as one of the fiction pieces. The site's a nice clean design, without evil flashing ads.

The rest of the day has not been so good. One of my closest friends found out last month that her sister has cancer. Teminal cancer in a young woman with two young children is never good, but she is not responding to palliative therapy. Today it became clear that the prognosis is at best two weeks, not the potentially two years initially hoped for. I will probably be spending much of the next few days on the phone, so don't be surprised if there's a lack of response to emails.

6 July:

The Fishnet editor emailed an acceptance for One Size Fits All. No details yet as to when it will be appearing. For those interested in this sort of thing, response time was 21 days.

Sent another submission to Fishnet, having checked the policy on submitting when they've already got one in stock.

5 July:

Submitted volume 3 of The Syndicate to ebook publishers Loose Id. This may mean a change in publisher for the first two, depending on how things pan out.

3 July:

Submitted the Journey Into Freedom manuscript to the DAW slushpile.

Lack of chattiness of late is because I finally tried out IRC--and one result is that the RSI is back.

Note in M Christian's column at Erotica Readers & Writers Association to say that he's finished reading the submissions for Blood Lust, but they've now got to go to his co-editor. I hope there is better news next month.

June 2004

30 June:

Sent another submission to Justus Roux. This time it was my one and only f/f story, a simple little tale of bra fitting. Yes, honestly.

25 June:

Finished the new short story, which is still nameless. Modern take on some standard themes from British mythology--specifically, why it's not a good idea for mortal and elf to fall in love. 6100 words. Of course, Charlie Stross can write that many words in a day.

June 21:

Email from Torquere Press accepting Gone Fishing for the Monsters and Myths ebook anthology.

June 15:

Blowfish has revived its fiction magazine, FishnetMag, so I sent in a submission.

June 7:

First draft of The Syndicate 3 finished as predicted, weighing in at 37.5 kwords. A minor editing pass done, although it will probably need another going over in a few days, when we should be able to judge the pacing properly.

A lot of my stories feature gay geeks. The gay geek died fifty years ago today. Read more about Alan Turing

June 6:

Another 1100 words on The Syndicate 3, bringing it to just short of 37 kwords. Another day's work should see the first draft finished, and the first editing pass started.

Started on a new short story, and got 1400 words done on that.

D-Day, 60 years on:

I am not one of those who would have been taken to the gas chamber, but many of my friends are. Had things gone differently sixty years ago today, some of them would not have been born, because their parents or grandparents would have died in the death camps.

Thousands gave their lives so that others might live. Many others came back maimed in body or mind. Remember them.

June 5:

Responses from two anthologies this morning. Rejection from Best Gay Erotica 2005, one "please keep submitting" rejection and one acceptance from Alyson for Ultimate Gay Erotica 2005, so Naked will be appearing in print soon. Response time was 50 days on UGE and 20 days on BGE, although note that the BGE ones were sent on the last day, and the UGE ones two weeks before the deadline.

1000 words on The Syndicate 3.

June 4:

Rapid progress on The Syndicate 3--1000 words a day on Wednesday and Thursday, and 3000 words today. Today's was the wedding day itself, with the preparations and the actual church service. It was very sweet and romantic. One or two more scenes to go--depending on length and pacing, we may do a scene at the reception, and then of course the final scene is when they finally escape to their hotel room for their first night as a married couple.

When we first started writing this, the theme of this volume was pure science fiction. The "nobody thinks there's anything strange about it" still is, but the legal side is being rapidly overtaken by reality.

I love living in the future.

June 1:

Baycon ran from 28 to 31 May. I'm still recovering from not enough sleep, eating weird food at weird times, and something that sent me scurrying to the toilet on Friday night. On the other hand, I met a bunch of friends and acquaintances from online, I heard some excellent panels, I got some excellent advice on writing, and I scored a really nice framed print in the art show for the minimum bid. Oh, and Hal Heydt tried to hook me on some online game whose name I can't remember at the moment. It was extremely pretty, and if I didn't have a strict policy about games and RSI, I'd be very, very tempted to get an account. I will report the weekend in more detail when I'm feeling a bit less woozy.

I was not pleased to find this morning that my net connection has fallen in a heap over the weekend. It dies for a few seconds to a few minutes, every few minutes. This did not stop me catching up on the weekend's bits and bytes, but was very disruptive. Prodding by the ISP's technician suggests that my modem is unwell, and a new one is in the post. However, no netmeeting while this is going on.

Something in the machine is making squeaking noises, even as I type. I hope it's the fan bearings and not the hard drive.

Tor editor Teresa Nielsen Hayden has analysed yet another variation on the vanity press scam. I stumbled across this particular vanity press a while back, and am very grateful to the sf community's scambusters whose educational material allowed me to peg it as a vanity press about five seconds into reading the website.

It's squeaking again. I wish it wouldn't do that.

One of the ebook publishers with a sniffy attitude to m/m sex in romantic erotica aimed at women seems to have dropped that policy. The "women don't like That Kind Of Thing" has vanished from the guidelines, and the website has sprouted a gay/lesbian category. Wonder if this trend will continue?

Form email from M Christian to say that he's taken far longer reading for Blood Lust than he expected, thanks for everyone's patience and he'll need a little more. Since the deadline for my next preferred market isn't for a while, I'm not worried.

May 2004

27 May:

990 words on Syndicate 3 yesterday, but nothing today, because the Internet was broken, or at least that bit of it between the Ipswich exchange and Chez Alex. Which makes a change from earlier in the week, when it was the bit under the Atlantic that was sulking. Today involved perfectly reasonable traceroute hops almost all the way, and then 2000 ms times for the last hop. The voice link was so garbled we gave up and used chat instead, which was fun, but not terribly effective for writing.

Baycon starts tomorrow, which means I'll get very little writing done over the next few days.

25 May:

Volume 3 of Allard and Vaughan's erotic adventures now up to 28.5 kwords, in spite of the best efforts of the Internet. Alex and I spent much time swearing at Netmeeting, which was up and down like Allard's trousers, before doing a spot of tracerouting and discovering that there was an intermittent hole in the Atlantic as far as routing was concerned today. It's not always the fault of Redmond.

Allard's parents have just met their future son-in-law. And their grandson...

23 May:

Sent four shorts as samples to the Loose Id editor during the week. Editorial opinion is that they could all serve as the basis for longer pieces. Ditto the longer piece, Lucky Dip, which as it happens has already generated some ideas for fragments that could be fitted into a novel, but no coherent plot as yet. This being a romance publisher, I will have to ensure a happy ending. Yes, I know this will disappoint one or two regular readers. (Hi, Hafren:-)

17 May:

The hayfever has settled down a bit, but I still spent much of the weekend nursing an MSG hangover. It's a lovely restaurant, but the food is definitely closer to authentic than Americanised, and that includes the heavy hand with the traditional seasoning. MSG isn't usually a problem for me, but it's another one of the triggers for the sinus irritation I have as a souvenir of a really bad bout of Creeping Con Crud a few years ago. Ladies and gentlemen, if you come home from a con with Creeping Con Crud, do not leave it for several weeks before noticing that it is still there after several weeks and perhaps it would be a good idea to see the doctor...

Last minute, or at least last day, submissions to Best Gay Erotica 2005 on Saturday. And sent something to Loose Id on Sunday, so not entirely unproductive weekend even if I didn't write anything.

6 May:

It's hayfever week, which means I have not been entirely coherent, and have not updated this journal, preferring to use my two remaining functional brain cells on exciting things like getting to the post office with zine orders and anthology submissions. In the meantime, A Trifling Affair went up as one of this month's guest stories at Justus Roux's website, and the review of Kaldor City is running in this week's issue of Strange Horizons.

The Strange Horizons reviews editor emailed to express interest in the Children of the Stones review, but would like some significant rewriting done. I think I'll leave it another few days before prodding it, in the hope that whatever plant it is with the irritating sex life will stop it soon. He also suggested I think about doing an article on children's tv specfic, which is nice, because it's something I'd actually thought about when I started writing the review. Unfortunately most of my reference material is on PAL VHS in storage in the UK, and I'm in the US with no VCR and no prospect of getting even an NTSC one, let alone a multi-format one. It'll have to wait until I get more DVDs.

An editor from a start-up small press emailed me out of the blue after seeing the story at Justus Roux, and suggested that I submit something to them. It may come to nothing, but it's a] good egoboo, b] useful to find a press that will consider romantic gay erotica.

I see a lot of "We cater to women, and women don't like That Sort Of Thing" in submission guidelines. Certainly, some women don't. However... I edit a fanzine with a submissions policy of "well-written, on topic and doesn't squick the editor". That means I take anything from action adventure with nary a hint of sex to extremely explicit fetish stories of any and all orientations. I can tell you that the people who read and write the male/male erotica are predominantly one gender, and it ain't male. Which shouldn't be surprising to the straight men who form the bulk of the market for "Hot Girl-on-Girl Action!!!", but frequently is. <grin>

April 2004

28 April:

Queried Nightcharm about Bread and butter pudding, as it's been with them for a while, and I was worried that they might have sent a response which fell foul of the spam filter that wasn't. Got a reply back within a couple of hours. Pity it was a rejection, but at least I now know they're prompt to respond to queries.

25 April:

Submitted my review of Children of the Stones to Strange Horizons

24 April:

Email from the Strange Horizons reviews editor confirming that my Kaldor City review will run on 5th May, and enclosing the edited version for my approval. I'm very pleased with the way he's edited it -- he's tweaked it very slightly, but it's noticeably improved. I've been writing reviews for years, but they've generally been aimed at specific fandoms; it's good to have an experienced editor polish my first try at a review for a general sf audience.

20 April:

Finally getting somewhere with doing the detailed outline for Journey Into Freedom. It's hard work boiling 97k words down into 10 pages...

Done a review of the Big Finish Dr Who CD Fearmonger. Note for the Blake's 7 fans, this one has Jacqueline Pearce in a major role.

Had an email from Mark Thompson of MJTV to say that my pre-ordered Actor Speaks 4 CD is on the way, so that will probably be the next one I review. This is the one focusing on Paul Darrow, with some interesting bits like a little stand-alone piece set in the Kaldor City Universe.

8 April:

Form email from Alison Tyler saying that my submission to Down & Dirty 2 didn't make the final cut, but she'd like to hold onto it for consideration for a future issue. This is the sort of form rejection I like to get...

I've put up my review of the Big Finish Dr Who CD Storm Warning. This was originally written for a Blake's 7 audience, so there's a certain emphasis in that direction, particularly in the disgusting drooling over actors.

5 April:

M Christian still hasn't started reading for Blood Lust, but should do so shortly. Which doubtless means that Cecilia Tan is going to have a very full in-tray in a month or two. :-)

2 April:

One of the DVDs in the parcel last month was Children of the Stones. I'd missed it when it was originally broadcast in 1977. Watching it as an adult, I can say that it's another one of those British sf drama series for children that treated their audience as intelligent--and thus work equally well for adult viewers. Review written, and now contemplating where to send it.

March 2004

31 March:

I've added my report on the total solar eclipse, Cornwall, 11 August 1999 to Ramblings. That was a lot of fun, even with heavy cloud cover. In fact, I think it's one of the weirdest experiences you can have without artificial assistance from recreational chemicals.

27 March:

The Kaldor City review has been accepted in principle by Strange Horizons.

Picked the following link up off a mate's blog. It brought joy to my evil little fannish heart. :-) "My fandom - so wanky, even the people who make it have public bitchfights" Read the story, then go and look at the image the story links to - and read the caption at the bottom of the logo that a certain official BBC website was using for a few hours.

This is, of course, the fandom that has the support of the British House of Commons (or a subset, anyway) against the BBC Chairman-to-be. The next entry in Iain's blog was the one about a cross-party group of MPs writing to Michael Grade to express their concern that he might kill the impending Dr Who revival because of his personal dislike of the programme.

Ooh, cheque! Today's post included the cheque (sorry, check, it's American) from Justus Roux. I don't care if it's a fraction of a cent per word, it got here within a week of the acceptance email.

Newsflash: latest theory on the Salon piece is that it is the most successful troll in the history of the internet. I wouldn't put it quite that forcefully, but I also wouldn't be surprised if Salon had been hoping for the sort of reaction they got. There is no such thing as bad publicity... (And this was why I didn't link to the piece directly.)

26 March:

I started buying the Kaldor City series (reviewed in Ramblings) because of the Blake's 7 connection, but it struck me after the first couple of CDs that it actually worked very well as general sf, not just a Dr Who spin-off. That stopped being true in episode 5, but the first three episodes are still something that should be pointed out to sf fans who might overlook it as a spin-off of something they don't know. A review for the general sf fan is now in the Strange Horizons slushpile.

22 March:

A writer's lot is not a happy one... I haven't seen the Salon piece, since Salon wants to make me watch ads for the privilege (which I don't mind) and wants to drop a cookie on my hard drive (which I do mind). I probably don't need to, since it's being eviscerated all over the net. <gurgles with laughter> I first encountered it this morning in rec.arts.sf.composition, but assorted blogs are now pointing fingers and laughing at the person who's whinging about how difficult it is to live on an advance of $150k (at least, that's the figure I've seen quoted). My heart bleeds. If you want to read more detailed critique, you could do worse than start at the Making Light thread. Or for a faintly sympathetic look at how the numbers don't add up, you could try Charlie Stross's analysis.

Just been outside looking at the sky, reminding myself that I have a sense of awe. Even in polluted Silicon Valley, it is possible to go outside just after sunset tonight and for the next couple of weeks and see all five naked eye planets, plus the moon. There's an article and a nice set of sky maps over at Nasa's website. While you're there, join the newsflash mailing list.

DVD package arrived from amazon.co.uk last week, containing assorted Region 2 goodness. Actually, some of it was Region 0, but the bit I really cared about was Region 2+4, namely the first season of Blake's 7. It played perfectly on my allegedly Region 1 box under the telly without me even having to use the hack. Tried it tonight in Other Half's shiny new laptop (last week was a really good week for new shinies in this household). The device sold on the basis that you can lug it around the world with you is firmly determined that you will play only DVDs originating in the country you bought the laptop in. So I'm now contemplating means and ways of hooking box-under-the-telly to desktop. Desktop has better screen than pathetic little Never Twice the Same Colour telly, if not as good a screen as shiny new laptop.

Note to self: if I ever splash out and buy a TFT screen for the desktop, make sure I can hook box-under-the-telly devices to it.

21 March:

Got home on Sunday to find an email accepting A Trifling Affair for Justus Roux's website. Very low pay rate, but at least it is a paying market. Since the story's a reprint and available on my website, even a token payment for a month's non-exclusive rights is something I'm quite happy with.

19 March:

And in the "How to win friends and influence people" department, some eejit sent a nastygram to Teresa Nielsen Hayden complaining bitterly about how the Big Bad Editor was abusing her Position of Power. This all kicked off because someone was trolling in Patrick's blog, and Teresa called the troll a Bad Word, namely idiot.

Just for good measure, the eejit suggested that those who post on TNH's blog are merely sucking up to the all-powerful editor.

TNH politely analysed the email. The analysis is a masterpiece of restrained comment. It also has the usual useful information on how the publishing industry really works. Read, and weep at the idiocies that editors have to put up with.

16 March:

Two more stories sent off - Naked and Trouser Trap sent to Ultimate Gay Erotica 2005.

Finally found a pen I can live with for proof-reading. The one I used to use doesn't seem to be available in the US, and I forgot to pick up a couple of replacements last time I was in the UK. This may not seem like a big deal, but a pen that flows smoothly, has a very fine point, and is bright red so that it stands out when scanning through later is a tool that makes a significant difference in being able to concentrate on the words and not on trying to make a pen actually put marks on the paper.

A couple of urls I've been meaning to put up, and keep forgetting about. Teresa Nielsen Hayden posted a superb piece in her blog a few weeks back, about the slushpile from the point of view of an editor: Slushkiller. If you're a would-be professional writer, it's well worth your while reading Teresa's post, and the comments thread. There's a lot of good advice in there. She then broke out one of her comments and expanded it in another thread: On the getting of agents.

14 March:

New shiny.   :-)   Bought a laser printer yesterday. Samsung 2151N, which amongst other useful features has autoduplexing and a nominal duty cycle of 100,000 pages a month. Or in other words, I won't kill it by trying to shove 100 pages through it at once. This is a distinct improvement on the inkjet, which took up a lot less space, but cost three times as much for the ink, took forever to print, and fainted at the mere thought of 100 pages at a time.

Of course, this means no further excuses for not doing something about the Tor submission. Preferably before I get another job and get knackered again, which is the main reason it didn't get done four months ago.

No acknowledgements for last week's email submissions. I certainly didn't expect an actual yes or no immediately, but the lack of even a "Yes, it got here" is slightly worrying given the episode with the unasked-for prude filter. Not all editors do acknowledge receipt, of course, but I now appreciate more than ever the ones who do.

Minor change to the layout on this page, since I seem to be posting more than once a month. It might be easier to see where a day's entries start and finish now.

7 March:

Bread and butter pudding sent to Nightcharm.

Alex has submitted to my will and agreed to go along with anything I choose to do with Trouser Trap. Or more accurately, can't be arsed to do the work of inflicting it on slushpiles when I'm so much better at that sort of thing.

But that can wait until after I've bought the new printer. Decided that it really was time I bought a laser printer, I miss the old Laserjet 4 terribly, even though I know it just wasn't worth trying to bring it to 110V land. Inkjets are slow, expensive to run, and produce output that's subject to water damage. And I don't have much need for colour printing. The only reason I'm using one is that I didn't actually have to buy the thing.

6 March:

Fit of deciding on markets and sending out submissions:

Gone Fishing sent to Torquere Press for their Monsters & Myths anthology. They say they'll consider reprints, so fingers crossed.

A Trifling Affair to Justus Roux for her website.

Major dithering over exactly which stories to send to Best Gay Erotica 2005 and Ultimate Gay Erotica 2005. Must consult Alex over Trouser Trap tomorrow, since it's not the done thing to send out a story without asking one's co-author first.

The vampire story Promises to Keep is still waiting for acceptance or rejection from Blood Lust (probably this month), but I've got a list of four potential paying markets with deadlines ranging from 1 April to 31 Aug, so at least I shouldn't be suffering anxieties over losing a market because of delays in being rejected by the previous one.

And I'm grateful to Zenia for doing the latest round of "Does this actually make sense to USAliens?" (More or less, apparently, but as she pointed out, she's used to Brits and their funny little ways...) I'm mostly submitting to US-based editors, and I always wonder whether the reaction will be "It's very English, how sweet" or "What is this garbage?"

She did think that Lucky Dip, the 10k word gentle romance I was mugged by in September, is the introduction to something longer. So I can put that on the pile of uncompleted novels, yes? <sigh>

5 March:

I know I have at least one reader in St Andrews, Scotland. It's... obvious... in the weblog. You are allowed to keep the downloaded files on your hard drive, you know. At least, you are as far as I'm concerned. If the trouble lies elsewhere, there is always the fallback of a floppy disk. That, or a USB flashdrive. Nice toys, those. I'm glad I bought one of those for Christmas.

February 2004

29 February:

Yes, it's Feb 29th, that day once every four years when women are by tradition allowed to propose to men. I wonder if the Shrub's next attempt to divert attention from the economy, the war, and his record in a previous war will involve claiming that San Francisco's civil disobedience over gay marriages destroys this fine tradition? After all, how can you tell who's supposed to be the dominant partner when both partners are the same gender?

Enough of local politics. I've been poking around the market listings with a view to sending out some short stories, but have not actually sent any out yet. I've also been rather badly distracted by helping to set up a fanfic critique and review board for one of the fandoms I'm active in. This is my own fault. I was the one stupid enough to suggest such a board might be useful.

Of course, I could have been sent an email from someone begging for the privilege of publishing one of my stories, and not know about it. My UK ISP finally found an anti-spam filter they were happy with, i.e. one that is biased towards letting spam through rather than risk deleting real mail. There was much rejoicing among the denizens of the newsgroup devoted to complaining about the service. Until... it was discovered that emails were being blocked that should not have been blocked. That it appeared were being blocked because of the presence of naughty words. That in fact were being blocked because of naughty words.

It appears that Well-Known American Anti-Spam Company assumes that when an ISP asks for a filter that takes out spam and only spam, what they really want is a spam filter plus a net nanny. Not only was the Expensive Spam Filter blocking spam, it was blocking any email containing one or more items from a list of words likely to make corporate America faint. It had not occurred to WKAASC to mention this prudery filter. Needless to say, the discussion in the aforementioned newsgroup contained ample evidence that perfectly legitimate conversations may well contain words likely to shock the sensitive souls in the legal departments of corporate America.

The prudery filter has since been turned off. But I'm left wondering if it's eaten emails from editors. It would not surprise me in the slightest if it objected to "erotica", since it objected to "orgasm". (Yes, much fun was had testing what words are not to be permitted to sully corporate America's innocent and virginal mailservers.) Given how many of my query/submission emails have words like "submission" and "erotica" in the subject...

19 February:

Home again, and now that I'm over the jet lag I'm working on reinstalling all my software on the nice, big, quiet new hard drive. That, and trying to sort out current markets to inflict my short stories on.

Finding time to write new ones could be interesting, because for my sins I am moderator on not one but two fanfiction-related fora that are currently in the planning process. One of them is my fault, since I suggested the forum would be useful. The other one was a case of failing to run away fast enough when the pressgang drew near.

One of the first things I did when I got home was phone one of the respectable academics who did first reading on Journey Into Freedom. This was not in fact for purposes of nagging about the manuscript (more like, "You making it down here for a visit?"), but I did mention in the course of the conversation that she had still failed to make any more coherent comment than <drool>. It does not help that she was using it as an incentive for herself while writing a paper for publication - finish writing one page of her manuscript, then read one chapter of mine. Wish I'd had a similar reward for myself back when I was writing my first ISBN. It would certainly have made an interesting contrast.

January 2004

29 January:

Polite net practice would involve putting 2003 onto a separate webpage and starting a nice new page so that people don't have to download the whole lot just to see the most recent entry. Polite practice can wait until I'm home with my own machine and software. And next time I go away, I'll remember to load the travel CD with my FTP software and the access instructions for my website, won't I.

No writing to report, basically because I've been travelling for the last month. Some writing news, in that I've had a "no, but please submit to the next one" rejection from M Christian for the two stories I submitted to Best S/M Erotica 2. A form rejection, but still nice to get the encouraging rather than the discouraging rejection. Alison Tyler sent out a form email saying she's been overwhelmed with submissions for Down and Dirty, so no decisions until mid-Feb.

Sooner or later I'm going to give in to temptation and write a non-consensual BDSM piece involving doing unspeakable things to spammers and virus writers.

Some more of my fanfic is now available online, the zines in question having either gone out of print or been in print for at least five years, and thus unlikely to sell many more copies. It's in the relevant fandom archive, but this batch is not suitable for filing off the serial numbers, so won't be appearing here.

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