Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Taking my own advice

In my final guest post to the 49 Writers blog, I reported on the theory that the best self-promotion an author can engage in is writing the next book. More titles on sale translates into more sales from readers who follow one’s work. In that regard, I continue to work daily on my next book, Camp Tribulation, at the expense of putting time into this blog. But CT won’t be completed for another year or longer. So in the meantime I’m putting more of my previously published short stories up as 99¢ ebooks. I am pleased to announce the release of the fourth and latest of these, “Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz, Yurek Rutz.”

In my third guest post, which was about ebook covers, I suggested that one style of cover to consider designing is the typographic cover. That is, a cover in which the title itself makes up the graphical element. “Yurek Rutz” seemed like the perfect candidate for a typographic cover, and I followed my own advice in that regard as well.

“Yurek Rutz” took a long time to write, over ten years, in fact. I had a notion in my head of what I was going for, but I hit roadblock after roadblock imagining the story. Every couple of years another piece of the puzzle would come to me, and I would jot it down.  Finally around 1997, I managed to draft the whole story. But it was missing something. I had no idea what was missing, so I put it away again and worked on other projects.

 That summer I attended LoneStarCon 2 in San Antonio and happened to attend a panel presentation called “Should I Sleep with the Editor?” The panelists were leading SF editors, including Gardner Dozois of Asimov’s Science Fiction. To the braying amusement of the audience, they read actual cover letters they had received from unpublished authors who were desperate to break into print. These aspiring authors wheedled, cajoled, and argued in an attempt to reach through the page and twist the editor’s arm. See me, read me, buy me.

Suddenly I saw it, how to finish my own story. When I returned home I rewrote “Yurek Rutz,” recasting it as a cover letter to Gardner Dozois. I learned later that he detests epistolary stories, but he bought it anyway and published it in the January 1999, issue of Asimov’s.

I love reading “Yurek Rutz” to live audiences. Of all my work, it’s the one most like my own speaking voice. I can hear not only myself in it but my father as well. Sometimes I choke up when I read it. It’s also my longest piece set in Alaska to date. So, if you like my stuff and haven’t read this little gem, download it today and see why old Yurek has made a cameo appearance in almost all of my subsequent stories and novels, including Counting Heads and "The Wedding Album."

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