Well, Kirstie and Kevin…

Well, Kirstie and Kevin weren't mad at me (in fact, Kirstie told me yesterday that as they were leaving, Kevin told her not to worry -- I wasn't mad at her, I was just tired; it's a good thing he knows me so well). We had a nice day yesterday; I taught, she came to some of my classes, she took us out to lunch at Oasis, we killed an hour and a half (and my arm muscles) bowling before we took her to the airport. Then Kevin and I went to his place, watched Trekkies, which was charming, ate dinner (he made a boiled dinner; corned beef and cabbage and red potatoes and carrots, and he didn't even know we were near St. Patrick's Day :-), talked until I fell asleep. Nice day.

Got a bit of a slow start this morning, but I think I have managed to finish the final draft of the Aqua Erotica Intro. And since we have finally selected all the stories, and I have e-mailed acceptances and am putting contracts in the mail today, and I am pretty sure I have sent all the rejections, I think I can actually call the book complete! Which is a little hard to believe, considering I think I've been working on it for something like six months (instead of the three originally scheduled...)

I hate writing rejections. Really hate it. Mostly because I don't generally have the heart to write form rejections, and so I need to actually think about the story, which means thinking about the author, which means thinking about how upset they're likely to be, especially if they're a new young author (I'm much calmer about my own rejections than I used to be; only a minute of painful twinges, as opposed to hours of depression and nausea). It's even worse when they're friends of mine, because I can then intimately imagine their misery (undoubtedly much worse than it actually is in most cases). And so I have a terrible tendency to avoid sending them, which is really adding insult to injury...I'm making them wait for their bad news. Ick. I will be more disciplined about this in future. Either that, or I will have to ask my friends to stop submitting material to me, and that would be really depressing, since they are good writers. We will try to avoid that contingency through strict discipline in future (assuming any of them are still speaking to me).

On the other hand, I am very happy with the final selection. This is not surprising, considering how many good stories I had to reject -- the ones chosen had to be very good. :-) I don't think there's any reason not to publicize the list at this point, so here it is:

  • I Want, by Mary Maxwell
  • New House, by Daniel James Cabrillo
  • Hydrodynamica, by Diane Kepler
  • Nothing of Him That Doth Fade, by Poppy Z. Brite
  • Watercolor, by Thomas Roche
  • Movements, by Michael Hemmingson
  • The Little Mermaid, by Cecilia Tan
  • In Deep, by Simon Sheppard
  • Minarets, by Barry Yourgrau
  • Hot Springs, by Carol Queen
  • Velvet Glove, by Kristine Hawes
  • Mer, by Francesca Lia Block
  • Naked Woman Playing Chopin, by Louise Erdrich
  • Gliuccioni and the River God, by Heather Corinna
  • Rainy Day Man, by Marcy Sheiner
  • Addiction, by William Burkett
  • Fisherman's Friend, by Samantha Lierens
  • Seven Cups of Water, by Mary Anne Mohanraj
I'm excited about so many of these stories, and authors, that I can't properly describe them. Some of the most exciting are the crossover authors, of course -- Louise Erdrich (solid mainstream writer), Barry Yourgrau (mainstream lit), Francesca Lia Block (author of Weetzie Bat), Poppy Z. Brite (horror), Mary Maxwell (aka Pat Murphy sf writer), William Burkett (sf writer and Clarion classmate). Then there are the solid erotica writers: Carol Queen, Thomas Roche, Michael Hemmingson, Marcy Sheiner, Heather Corinna, Samantha Lierens, Simon Sheppard and Cecilia Tan (who also published my first story). And finally, there are two Clean Sheets writers, Daniel James Cabrillo and Diane Kepler, and a CS editor, Kris Hawes. A very solid line-up, I think, and I'm so proud of Cabrillo, Kepler and Hawes. :-)

I do wish I'd been able to publish more first-time authors. There was a big emphasis on selecting 'names' for this anthology -- unsurprising, since it's got a huge print run, and needs to sell well to survive. The names gave us very good stories, but there's something so thrilling about publishing an author's first story...ah, I'm still regretting Maiden Voyage. Maybe I'll get to publish another anthology like that someday.

I do still feel a bit odd about including a story of my own. But I'll keep telling myself that a) they requested one and b) all three publishers loved it, and maybe in time I'll get used to the idea. I do think it's a good piece, and it's possibly the densest thing I've written. Certainly it's the longest single piece, at a monstrous 6500 words. Only the Erdrich piece is longer, though the Sheppard comes close.

I have much more work to do for AE still -- sending contracts, proofing galleys, promoting the book, etc. But there is a certain quiet satisfaction that comes from having finished this part -- whatever else happens, I've put together a good book (with a lot of help!). That's something, anyway.

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