Orson Scott Card made an appearance at a Borders book store today. The store was on the geographically opposite end of Denver from me, but I wanted to make the trek anyway and get a copy of his latest Ender book, Shadow Puppets. In order to justify the journey, I decided that I had to make sure I got some trim painting done on the house. Kim and I worked on that until almost too late, then hurriedly took showers and jumped in the car.
I took copies of Ender’s Game and Speaker for the Dead for him to sign, as well as two copies of Analog from 1978 that featured his stories. I also took along a copy of a 1977 Analog containing the story “Particle Theory” for Ed Bryant to sign, since he was handling the introductions for Scott. We were late, so I missed Ed’s introduction, but caught most of Scott’s question and answer session. The man is a very good speaker.
After the session, while waiting at the tail end of the line for Scott to autograph the books, I had a great conversation with Gary Jonas. We discussed writing groups, stories, and publishing strategies. Kim joined us, and brought up my story “Half-Lives of Quiet Desperation.” I mentioned that the story needed a lot of trimming, because it was too long for submission to most magazine markets for a first-time writer. Gary suggested that maybe the story needed to be expanded, rather than trimmed, and marketed as a novel. Of course, Gary hasn’t read the story, and might have a different opinion if he did, but this is not the first time someone has told me that. The story’s at about 9500 words already, so I could, conceivably, turn it into a novel. I don’t know if I’m up for that, though. If I did expand the story, the hinted romance between the main character and a secondary character would be the first subplot on which I would concentrate. Several people have told me that their romantic history needs to be flushed out more, but I can’t do that and keep the story short. I’ve flirted with the idea of taking their romantic tension out of the story — or better yet, leaving the tension, but not really acknowledging it. I have to admit that the idea of expanding appeals to me, though. Almost as much as it frightens me.
No matter what, I need to get some fiction writing done. I’ve been doing some musical things, and I’ve been getting lots of important housework done, but I really need to get my butt in gear and write. Then I need to stay in gear and start sending out the submissions and tracking them. Gary and I made an interesting observation: It’s much harder to get published when you aren’t sending stories out to editors.