Thursday, June 01, 2006

Ephemeral Events

Well, that was an interesting two minutes. That's about how long it took me to bring the mail into the house at lunchtime today. Prominent in that stack of (mostly) junk was a thick envelope in the familiar red, white and blue of Priority Mail.

My manuscript of three chapters of Heirs of Mâvarin went out on February 20th in a Priority Mail envelope. Tucked inside it was another Priority Mail envelope, with postage for its return. Now we are finally approaching the time frame when I can reasonably expect to hear back from this publisher. Their FAQ says four to six months. I figure that every day I don't hear back represents a slight increase in my chance of getting the rest of the manuscript read. Last time I sent out my chapters , the rejection was in my mailbox a week later. I've rewritten the book substantially since then, so I've been pretty hopeful that this time I'll fare better.

So when I saw the thick envelope, my heart sank. Would they return those chapters if they wanted to see the rest of the book? Probably not! Still, I wasn't quite ready to give up hope. I grabbed the mail and brought it inside. On the way I told myself that I would be a reasonable adult about this, instead of a hurt child. If Tor has rejected my manuscript, I promised myself, I won't let it affect my respect for Tor's editors. They are the same good people (especially Teresa Nielsen Hayden, whose blog I like exceedingly), whether they want my book or not.

Fortunately, I don't have to find out just yet whether I will have any difficulty holding to that promise. After I got inside the house, greeted the dog, and made my way to the kitchen, I pulled out the envelope from underneath the junk mail. That was when I noticed it was one of the cardboard envelopes, not the larger reinforced paper ones, the kind I used for my manuscript.

The next thing I noticed was that it was addressed to John. Whew!

It turned out to be a couple of Disneyland magazines from the late 1950s, plus several pages of mostly-Disneyland postcards. John and I looked them over this evening, and found them to be reasonably wonderful. They were an eBay purchase, of course. The best find of the lot was a Monsanto House of the Future postcard that John didn't already have. John collects old Tomorrowland postcards, and only secondarily 1950s postcards from the rest of Disneyland. Stuff about the House of the Future is John's specialty.

Yeah, yeah: we're a little weird. We know this.

And speaking of weirdness, I was delighted earlier this evening with the error message I got on Technorati. It speaks of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the planet Zeus 94. It may well be the best error screen ever. I was hardly even annoyed that the site was down.

There was a third ephemeral event today. I got email from "costumer," seeking updated account information. I was tempted to email them back, express my surprise that AOL offers costumer service, and seek a quote on a Vampire Willow costume. I fear the whimsey would be lost on the scammer, however, and I don't want to help the person with his spelling, anyway. It might help him dupe more people if he actually spelled "customer" correctly. I wanted to show you a screen capture of the unopened email with the gloriously silly mistake, but I accidentally deleted it instead. That's what makes it an ephemeral event.

I suppose I should get on with the Weekend Assignment now, at 1:59 AM. What, again?

Weekend Assignment #114: Name a thing you like today, that your younger self would probably roll his or her eyes at. People, places, things, ideas, philosophies -- all of it is up for consideration.

Extra Credit: Name something you didn't like then that you
still don't like now.

Hmpf. The extra credit is the easy part. I still don't like coffee or onions, olives or opera (except light opera), getting up early or malice toward anyone (even Barbara Bauer, despite my willingness to help Googlebomb her*). That's all clear enough, but what has changed? What do I like now that I would never have expected to like when I was younger?

Oh. Well, when I put it that way, the answer is easy.

I've mentioned before what my Master Plan was when I was in college the first time around. I was going to own a used bookstore, and write screenplays between customers on my electric typewriter. But my mom had an alternate suggestion. "I think it would be fun to be a night auditor at a hotel," she told me whenever I visited her in Florida. She liked the puzzle aspect of balancing the books. She probably also liked the idea of working late at night, in peace and in privacy.

I thought she was out of her mind. Me, a bookkeeper? Karen, the English major, who barely survived Intermediate Algebra and didn't take any math at all in college, balancing a hotel's books for fun and profit? There were so many things wrong with that idea that I was hard pressed to explain to my mom exactly why that was never, ever going to happen.

It turns out that she was right. Oh, not about the night auditor part, or the hotel part, either. But like my mom, I've found that I really enjoy making sense of the numbers in a business. It made my day a week or two ago when in half an hour I went from a $25,000 discrepancy that wouldn't budge to a mere $.70 one. I love working with the data, and finding a way to improve the process for next time.

And like the night auditor, I love working alone and at night. At Worldwide Travel, I used to call my office "my hermit cave." At Unnamed Largish Company, I only have a cubicle, but I still work mostly on my own. I come in a little late and stay a little late, partly to try to squeeze in a little more sleep, but also to work after other people have left the building. My favorite part is when I come in at night to finish up or catch up, sit alone in the accounting department, and work with numbers while singing along with the Beatles as they play on my iPod. It makes me feel as though I'm getting away with something.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.


* As far as I'm concerned, the Googlebombing of Barbara Bauer, proprietor of one of the 20 Worst Literary Agencies, is less about punishing her or making her suffer than it is about defanging her. If it's impossible to Google her without seeing warnings about her predatory relationship with novice writers, then people are less likely to be victimized by her. And if lots of people know about her attempts to shut down websites for "illegally" mentioning her name, and further, that she has no legal basis for her threats and demands, then it's less likely that ISPs will be intimidated ito doing what JC-Hosting did to Absolute Write a week ago. I actually feel kind of sorry for Barbara Bauer, but the bulk of my sympathy goes toward the people who foolishly paid for representation and got little in return, and for recipients of her complaints, threats and demands.

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Globetrotter said...

I don't know anything about Barbara Bauer but a few years ago there was another woman who called herself a literary agent using people's desire for representation to stuff her pocketbook. I wish I could remember her name. But once the internet message boards started posting stories that were all similar (of how she'd duped people) her gig was up. Her sister wrote letters and emails saying her sister had been tragically killed in a car accident in London. Must suck to have to feign your own death to get off the hot seat! Good luck with those trips to the mailbox. I remember the highs and lows were tremendous for me when I was waiting to hear.

And Karen, I just want to thank you for taking the time to write such a caring response to my recent post. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness tremendously.

Take care, my friend,

DesLily said...

if its true the longer they keep your chapters the better the chance.. then I'm really glad that package wasnt what you expected!!!

you know i collect autographed pictures so I would never say anything against a collection of postcards!..or any collection..they are wonderful! Any collection is fun to do.. and somewhere down the line they usually become valuable to family members.. a win win situation!

we are sure different when it comes to numbers! lol.. I never learned excel because i never wanted to be stuck doing numbers! lol..

Wil said...

I disagree with all of your extra credit choices other than getting up early in the morning -- that's a form of torture that should be addressed by a Geneva Convention.

Sadly, I don't share your love of numbers. But I can see how you grew into them.

Good luck with seeking publication -- it's something worth seeking.

Becky said...

I like spinach now and hated it as a child. I couldn't come up with a full entry about spinach for this assignment. LOL Love the postcards! Neat!