PBW Stories

Paperback Writer's Fiction Blog

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong Now
by S.L. Viehl

As I was speaking to an editor six months ago about the very real possibility of having my novel in print, I thought, "This is fantastic! Nothing can possibly go wrong now!"

Which of course, as any fool knows, is the invocation of Murphy's Law.

The editor asked me to send her my manuscript overnight so that she could read it over the weekend. No problem, I said. I'll send it UPS next day air tomorrow. She didn't know I was stretching the truth a bit. It takes 8 - 10 hours for my ancient printer to spit out a 632 page manuscript on track-feed paper. I didn't have a copy ready. I started printing that night, and got 165 pages out before I had to drop from exhaustion.

The next morning, I dropped the kids off at school. My van's engine died in last school's parking lot. I put my forehead against the steering wheel and pleaded with "Bessy" to turn over, just one more time, so I could get home and start printing. After twenty tries, "Bessy" took pity on me and started.

I rushed home. Got the printer started. Looked for the Valium. Couldn't find it. Heard a terrible screeching noise. Went back to the printer. Saw that page 224 had fed back into the track feeders and was now also page 236 in crumpled-fan form. Said alot of words I don't allow the children to use. Fixed the printer and the paper. Sat next to it and prayed. Watched as the seemingly endless box of paper ran the last sheet through. Ran around looking for anything made out of wood pulp I could print the manuscript on. Found some dusty old paper. Dusted it off. Fed it in. Said more of those words.

At last, at 1:30 pm, I called the guy at packing & shipping company I used for UPS packages.

"Dennis!" I shrieked. "Tell me the UPS guy hasn't been there yet."

"The UPS guy hasn't been here yet," he said obligingly.

"Okay. Here's the deal," I said. "I've got about ten pounds of paper that has to be in New York tomorrow. My future as a science fiction writer and a sane person depends on it. My van is giving me trouble. I may have to resort to a taxi if I can't start it. I need you to stall UPS for me. Can you handle it, buddy?"

"No problem," Dennis replied. "I'll sit on the guy if he shows before you do."

I grabbed the manuscript, ran out to the van, got behind the wheel, looked up at God and said, "Please. Just get me as far as the packing & shipping place. I'll stop eating Hershey Bars for the rest of the year." I didn't say life because I don't like to lie to God. I stuck the key in the ignition. Turned it over. "Bessy" purred like a kitten. Once again I'd confirmed there is a God. Drove like a madwoman to the packing and shipping place. Dennis was smiling as I staggered in and dumped my manuscript on the counter.

"He hasn't been here yet," Dennis assured me. He boxed up the manuscript and weighed it. "Whoa. $72.00 just to overnight this? I'll buy a plane ticket and take it up there for you myself. Only costs twenty bucks more."

I was too exhausted to care. "Whatever. Just so the woman gets it." I propped my forehead on my hand. "Dennis, tell me again why I'm doing this to myself."

"You told me it was fun writing books," he reminded me.

"Writing them, yes. Trying to sell them..." I rolled my eyes. "Maybe someday I'll make enough money to hire a secretary."

"Make sure she's got good transportation," was Dennis' advice.

Dennis is a nice man. He gave me a 10% discount and threw in the box and packaging for nothing. I promised him an autographed copy of the novel, and my hand in marriage should my husband ever decide to kick me out. Which he might, if my guy ever finds out how much it costs to overnight a manuscript to New York.

That was six months ago. The editor read my manuscript, and its sequel, and offered me a contract for both. It worked out great - with my advance, I bought a new printer and got the transmission fixed on the van.

All I have to worry about now is earning back the advance, getting the right publicity, writing the third book in what has now become a series....and finding that bottle of Valium. Soon.

(Originally published in the August 1999 issue of Writer's Digest magazine.)

Thursday, November 06, 2008

An excerpt from Master of Shadows
A novella of the Darkyn
by Lynn Viehl

A caress scented with violets roused Rebecca of Daven from her slumber. Paling sunlight inched down the bed and away from her skin, replaced by the soothing touch of large, powerful hands. She should have grown accustomed to this by now, so long had they been together, but no, it seemed she never would. Each time she found herself in his arms seemed as great a miracle as the very first.

When she thought on who they had been, and what had happened to them, perhaps it was.

“At last,” a deep voice stirred her hair. “The lady awakes.”

“You are mistaken.” Rebecca smiled against the fingertip tracing the bow of her lips, but kept her eyes closed. “The lady still dreams.”

“Then she must talk in her sleep.” A lean cheek grazed her chin, and cool breath whispered against her ear. “Does she do anything else, I wonder?”

“Soon she must rise and rouse the other women, break the fast, tend to the animals, begin the washing, clean the south chambers, and finish the carding.” She wrinkled her nose. “Unless my lord gives me yet another long list of impossible tasks he wishes me to see to while he plays at being castellan. He delights in such things, you know.”

“Hmmmm. This fellow sounds lazy and uncaring.” He nipped her earlobe and shifted his body to cover hers. “You would do better to stay here in bed with me, lovely one.”

The delicious weight of him made Rebecca sigh and slid her arms around his waist. “I want nothing more than that, but I think my husband would have some strong objections.” She opened her eyes and grinned up into the dark, scowling face of the brute on top of her. “Oh, Sylas. ‘Tis you.”

“Devious wench.” He kissed her hard. “For that I should chain you to this bed for a week.”

“Do you promise?” She curled her good leg over his hip, arching against him. “An entire week?”

Her husband’s scowl faded as his eyes, black as midnight, took on a faint blue glow. “’Twould not be enough, would it?”

No, it wouldn’t. Rebecca sometimes wondered if eternity would be.

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