I got a rejection e-mail last night. They still sting a little, and I felt good about this particular submission. Then a few minutes later I received the contract and proofs for my story “Road Rage,” which will appear in Chilling Tales: In Words, Alas, Drown I, edited by Michael Kelly. So that took away some of the sting. It was fun to read the story again after a long interval. It’s one that I’ve substantially renovated a couple of times from the mid-point on, so I honestly wasn’t sure what was going to happen because I couldn’t remember which ending I settled on.
This weekend I wrote my Storytellers Unplugged essay for this coming Friday and posted two new book reviews, for The Last Whisper in the Dark by Tom Piccirilli and Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub.
Then I polished off a 600-word short story for NPR’s current “Three Minute Fiction” contest. I enjoy writing these brief stories inspired by a simple prompt; in this case: Write a story in which a character finds an object that he or she has no intention of returning. I let that roll around in my mind for a couple of weeks until an image came to me one morning last week. I started with that scene—the moment of discovery—and started writing. I didn’t know much about the character, but these little details kept occurring to me that pushed me in a general direction.
For a while, I thought I’d bitten off more than I could chew. The story looked like it was going to go way over the 3-minute reading length. Then I stepped back for a while and figured out a way to rein it in. It still ended up at about 750 words in the first draft. However, that didn’t worry me much. I’d been flailing around in the dark, especially in the first half of the story, so I was easily able to lop off about 200 words in one quick rough cut. Then it was a matter of going through and strengthening the story. Now that I knew the character’s context, I could slip in little details about who he was and how he lived. By the time I turned it in on Sunday afternoon, I was very happy with the results.
I got the green light today to write an essay for an as-yet unannounced project that is part of an ongoing series. My pitch for the essay was a little off the cuff, so now I have to figure out how I’m going to tackle the subject. I also have another essay outstanding for another collection and one more short story to finish this month. The poor novel keeps getting pushed off. Now I’m bound and determined: I’m going to start it on my next birthday. That seems like a reasonable goal.
I knew that if Cochran made it to the final three, he had this year’s Survivor in the bag. He played a heckuva game. The story of Erik’s removal from the game for medical reasons was underplayed (apparently he had a major infection in his leg that went untreated for a while). The final tribal was pretty brutal, but I got a kick out of Sherri telling Erik to go sit down, that she didn’t need his vote and she didn’t want his advice. Poor guy, he did as he was told after sputtering a little. Brenda’s confrontation with Dawn was ugly. I could see where she was coming from, but still. I was surprised, though, that Cochran got every vote. Is it true that he wasn’t voted for once otherwise during the entire season?
Apparently Brandon Hantz was banned from the reunion show. There’s speculation that the non-jury players weren’t seated on the stage to disguise this fact. I usually wish that the reunion show was twice as long because it can be fun, but they sure wasted a lot of time with non-team-members this season. Boston Rob, I could see, because of Philip, but the un-PC guy from the first season was pointless, and the little girl didn’t add a lot to the show, either.
A surprising and satisfying end to the season of Castle last night. The scene on the swings was well done. It’s an important setting in their relationship. There was a nice bit of misdirection in having Castle shake his head before he spoke, which seemed to indicate something bad coming. As much as I like the rest of the cast, it might be interesting to relocate the story to DC, for a while at least. Not sure they’d be able to justify having Castle involved with federal cases the same way, but he could be Beckett’s sounding board.
So, we finally got to see Ted’s future wife on How I Met Your Mother. Interesting. Now I suspect they’ll dispense with her altogether for half of the final season.
For a while, I thought that Don was trying to push his latest fling back to her husband after hearing their fight, but apparently not. The tug of war between him and Ted (round 1 with the scotch goes to Don, round 2 in the airplane goes to Ted) should prove interesting. I loved the scene where Roger got to fire Burt Peterson. Again. The game of musical chairs in the board room, too, with Pete taking umbrage at not having a chair but Ted being only too happy to give up his seat to one of the women and perching at the back of the room.
Caught up on the two most recent episodes of Doctor Who this weekend. “The Crimson Horror” was not bad, especially with Diana Rigg in the cast. It might have been nice to see her character rehabilitated rather than killed, though. Strax never fails to make me giggle, and the guy who kept fainting was a good sight gag. I wonder what the record is for the length of time before the Doctor shows up in an episode. I thought this was going to have something to do with Frankenstein’s monster from the way he was lurching around once discovered. Was the episode sponsored by Tom-Tom? If not, that was a random bit of anachrony. There were parts of “Nightmare in Silver” that I liked a fair amount. The cybermen turning into “fast zombies” was one. No more lurching about. I guessed the secret of the little guy early on. I liked the exasperated attitude of the teenagers. Even space is bo-ring after a while. The transition between the two episodes, where Clara’s two charges are invited aboard, was missing, though, so that was abrupt and strange. Apparently a fair amount was cut from Gaiman’s script and maybe even from what was shot, so there were some disjointed moments and transitions. I didn’t hate it as much as some people, but it wasn’t as manic and brilliant as the previous Gaiman story.