So I go to Anticipation today - WorldCon for science fiction and fantasy, and brushed elbows with vampires, steam punks and overly enthusiastic young women wearing furry boots, cat ears and little in between. In the afternoon, my very good buddy Michael Lorenson and I headed down to the dealer's room between some panels, just to shop. That's all we planned to do.
While we were there, we chit-chatted about what I would like to read, since it's been a stinking long time since I read either fantasy or science fiction. We decided basically not to decide - instead of buying a book from one author or another, we both decided to buy one of the Tesseract compilations from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing.
It took me a while, but then I realized why "Edge" was sticking out in my head. Then it came to me. Before I wrote mystery, I wrote fantasy - the Epic of Allua. I had sent it off to Edge in the hopes that I could make it big in my home country. Well...obviously, if I had been accepted, you would have known by now. But that project did make it as far as a second reader.
So I blurted all that out while standing in line to buy Tesseracts Thirteen, and wouldn't you know it: the publisher and his wife were on the other side of the table taking my money. They asked me for my name.
Believe it or not, they remembered my name. It was the double-w in my name that stuck out in their minds. Who KNEW?
I had submitted my proposal for the fantasy project almost 4 or 5 years ago - and they remembered THAT, too! (And Mrs. Edge Publishing - I'm going to have to track down her name - she says, "Oh, that must have been when you were just a KID!" I blessed her for it.) They remembered how long ago I had sent it off.
Now: flashback to the email Michael Lorenson's sent me a couple of nights ago, when I was considering skipping the whole thing. He said, "Just don't miss it entirely. Lots of authors and editors, LOTS. maybe bring samples of your stuff."
Now: flashback to today, and the conversation on the escalator down to the dealer's room. On our way down, we pass a man and a woman on their way up - one of which is the editor-in-chief of Tor Books. Then Mr. Lorenson, in his prescient wisdom, said that it was a good idea to have an "elevator proposal", so that JUST IN CASE you ever got stuck in an elevator with somebody who just happened to be a publisher...you just never knew when opportunity would knock.
So on a lark, before I left this morning, I printed off one cover sheet, one synopsis and the first 46 pages of that science fiction project. This is the same crazy 300-page project I wrote between 8:00 p.m. July 17th and 7:00 p.m. July 20th, 2009.
Cut to the present moment once more, standing with Tesseracts Thirteen in one hand, money in the other, with Mr. and Mrs. Edge Publishing on the other side making off-handed comments about the unusual nature of my last name. My mouth opens, and words fall out: "So are you still accepting new materials?" And Mr. Edge Publishing (I've gotta find his name, too...) he said, "Sure!"
For a split second, I wavered, and then again: "So, I uh...y'know, I just HAPPEN to have a proposal right here with me...So,uh...would you, y'know, would you like it?"
In my head, all I could hear was Are you kidding me...? And this, of course, was accompanied by maniacal laughter, followed by, Can you just IMAGINE if this is how I make my big break?
Not even a month has gone by since the moment I applied fingers to keys, and the manuscript is now in the hands of a publishing house. This is NOT the way people are supposed to break into the industry.
But let me tell you, if something actually comes of this, Mr. Lorenson, accompanied by the children and wife of his choice, is going out for surf and turf on my dime.
Here's hoping this is a To Be Continued with a happy - and extraordinary - conclusion.