From a review of my short story “Letter Found in a Chest Belonging to the Marquis de Montseraille Following the Death of That Worthy Individual”:

“. . . has the feel of a counterfactual, but I Googled it and there is no such person.”

It wasn’t my explicit intent to present this story as some kind of alternate history, but the instant I read this line, I realized that was the general vibe I wanted it to have. So: wiktory! The reviewer calls the story “very elegant,” too, so a win all around.


Yesterday, while deleting “Tower in Moonlight” from my submissions tracker, I realized I have fewer than ten short stories out on the market. I don’t think that’s been true since spring of 2002, when I went on a big story-writing binge and knocked out six in eight weeks; my stubbornness about selling those early stories, plus other binges on later occasions, have kept my inventory pretty well stocked. But my recent short-fiction drought, coupled with the tendency of my newer pieces to sell faster (yes, Swan, you are getting better at this game), means I’m down to nine.

Which, y’know, isn’t a small number. But it keeps shrinking, and I keep not putting new stories on the market; other than “Once a Goddess,” — which sold three weeks after I finished the draft, not helping the problem — I haven’t put anything new into circulation for over a year.

I think that when I complete this current piece (and give the stupid thing a title), I’m going to make myself revise “On the Feast of the Firewife” before I start anything new. Or “Footsteps,” which last time I checked just needed a better last line or something. Or give “The Memories Rise to Hunt” to my new critique group and see if this time we can figure out what that story needs in order to work — a question I’ve been pondering for far too long now. Or even “Sciatha Reborn,” except what that one needs is for me to finish fixing its world, and that might be more work than I can really do right now.

<scrounges through list of completed stories for other things that ought to have gone out the door ages ago>

Righty. All of that is a good idea, but first, this stupid novelette-maybe-novella needs finishing. I’m pretty sure I have at least six scenes left, which means we’ve still got a ways to go.

0 Responses to “Hee!”

  1. desperance

    ‘Course, you could’ve slipped a fake biography of the character into Wiki, just to confuse the googling reviewer entirely…

  2. desperance

    PS – I do love your titles…

    • Marie Brennan

      Thanks! I have a weird relationship with titles. The ones I have before I start writing the story (“Once a Goddess,” “The Memories Rise to Hunt,” and various others), I tend to love. The ones I stick on afterwards (“Footsteps” and “Sciatha Reborn,” frex) are rarely more than functional in my mind.

      • desperance

        Absolutely so. I love writing to a title, but finding a title afterwards is a nightmare; or rather, as you say, a utilitarian process. There are always so many possibilities, and none is ever going to encompass the story or be embedded in the heart of it. Stories, books, whatever I write almost always starts with a title and grows from there. Other writers find this strange, but to me it seems inherent…

        • Marie Brennan

          “Embedded in the heart of it” is a key phrase, I think. Also, if a title helps launch me into a story, that means there’s something in it I can be excited about. Otherwise, it feels like I’m trying to manufacture excitement, and that rarely works. The only exception I can think of is “Nine Sketches, in Charcoal and Blood,” which I originally thought sounded too much like the title of an art gallery display — but it ended up working for me.

          “Letter Found” got titled after the fact, but my love for it is of an entirely different sort, which involves much snickering at myself. <g>

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