The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon

The Platinum Ticket by David Beynon
Shortlisted for The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize

Friday, 18 July 2008

Time flies...

It feels like just yesterday that I was writing about DAW’s rejection of my manuscript for Loremaster and the next thing you know it's July 18th and you're readying yourself to go on vacation.

A lot has been going on since last I posted.

Let's start with the story, The Witch. I'd wanted to keep it in the neighbourhood of 8 to 10,000 words but it just didn't want to stay there. It has grown in complexity and the characters are taking on a life of their own. I do have a bit of a cautionary tale here, though. I've been happily working on this story each day, nurturing it and watching it grow. At the end of the day I got into the unfortunate habit of simply reducing my document on the computer screen but not actually saving it. Well, Microsoft had one of their usual security updates that took control of my computer and shut it down without asking me, thank you very much. Imagine my surprise after failing to save my document to see the startup screen of my computer smiling at me one morning. "Oh well," I thought, "no problem at all. Microsoft Word has an automatic recovery system built right in and I know for damn sure that it is set to save every 10 minutes so all I have to do is start up Microsoft Word and I'm back in business." It's a really nice theory that if your computer shuts down unexpectedly Microsoft Word will step up and help you out. And you know what, most times it does... but not this time. I tried and tried but to no avail. As near as I can figure I lost nine pages of really good stuff. Fortunately, it was nine pages that I was able to improve upon during the second, forced rewrite. The Witch is shaping up to be a fine, fine tale.

I heard back from a couple of stories making the rounds. Small Town Secrets, submitted to The Missouri Review, came back with a rejection but it did have a personal note from the reader inviting me to submit other, perhaps slightly shorter work. I've since submitted Small Town Secrets to The Paris Review . I also received a rejection for the story, Just Business from Dark Recesses Press. The person who reviewed Just Business gave me a very detailed explanation regarding the story's rejection. She praised the quality of my writing but told me the story, which concerns a man with a very cavalier attitude toward human traffic, just wasn't what her readers would consider horrific or terrifying. Fair enough. I decided to submit it to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Unlike the rejection from Daw, which was a form letter and as such is to be ignored, these last two rejections actually had useful information and constructive criticism and feedback. I'm feeling optimistic.

The summer is in full swing and it's a busy time with the kids. It's a little unnerving when your five-year-old has a more active social calendar than you do. I guess I can take comfort in the fact that he is a very gregarious five-year-old. One of the things that both kids are signed up for this summer is the reading program at the local library. The five-year-old's program lasts a half hour on Wednesdays before lunch. My daughter's program is on the same day but for an hour in the afternoon. I was trying to figure out what I was going to do with this floating hour and a half where I needed to be close to the library but had someone else watching the kids. The first day I use the time to run errands downtown and did a little people watching. On the second day I had no errands to run so I took a notebook with me and planted myself in this incredibly comfortable chair in a quiet section of the second floor of our local library. In the crisp air conditioning, surrounded by countless shelves of books, with the distant sound of kids on the lower level enjoying their reading club, I opened the notebook and tried to come up with something that I could exclusively write during these summer reading club times. Well, the constructive criticism for Just Business was still fresh in my mind so I decided to work on a conversation between a person who deals in very specialized merchandise and a customer. Since then the character, a British gentleman named Alastair Middleman, his family business (in continuous operation for 26 generations), his tragic past and his wayward daughter who now must be put through her apprenticeship in preparation to take over the family business have been occupying many of my waking thoughts. They promise to be an entertaining family and speaking of family...

Today, just before I decided to write this post, I was busy strapping a car carrier to the roof of the Camry in preparation for the start of our family camping vacation. We're heading out to the east coast to visit friends we've not seen in far too long. Along the way will be camping and sightseeing and generally enjoying each other's company. When I get back I'm sure there'll be a host of pictures and a great number of stories to pass along.

Till then behave and play nice.