I spent the afternoon at the bowling alley, trying to get the upper hand on my squirrely media empire. Just as I was running out of electricity, I got a message from Soup Boy: “Little John is here, heading for bez in 45 minutes.”
Thursday already? Sure enough. Bez night. My computer put itself gently to sleep and I packed up, bundled up, and headed out into the cold. I beat Soup Boy and Little John to the bar and made myself as comfortable as I could.
Is now the time to explain bez? No, it is not. Bez is an interesting cultural phenomenon, but not the subject of conversation tonight. This night, it’s all about me.
I ordered myself a Budvar, known in czech as “the real Budweiser”. I sat back and waited. Soup Boy and Little John showed up not long after, and parked around the table. Hello, how are ya, and so on, then Soup Boy handed me a letter.
Before I even opened it I was excited. It was not one of the envelopes I had included with each submission to make it more cost-effective for them to reject me. This was a company envelope, with my address printed on it in full czech spelling, and a hodge-podge of stamps. I opened it and out came a letter and a check.
Now, I expected the letter to be a little friendlier, to share my joy and excitement, but in retrospect I don’t know why. It was all business, a contract and nothing more, and that is how it should be, because they are running a business. I’m supposed to be a businessman as well, but there in the Budvar Bar Near Home I stood and did a small victory dance, compact but intense. Then I did another. Soup Boy bought me a whiskey. For the rest of the night I have been saying, “Oh, did I mention? I sold a story.” (Did I mention? I sold a story.)
Now, selling a story and publishing a story are two different things, it seems. What I have is a check that gives the publisher the right to use the story in the next three years. If they don’t, the rights all come back to me. If they do publish it, I will be in one of the leading science fiction magazines in the world (just ask ’em). So let it be known always that The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction was the first to pay me for my work, the short story “Memory of a Thing That Never Was”. Dang, I hope they print it someday.
This is a huge moment for me, the biggest since I got my first piece published over at Piker Press. I have conquered the foothills (by my own declaration); the mountain looms ahead. A most heartfelt thanks to all of you who have boosted me on your shoulders to help me get even this far. You know who you are.