I also did do that Big And Scary Submission thing for my continued attempt at a writing career (and only two days later than I wanted - told you I'd only miss my deadline by a little): I actually submitted my first query to an agent group. The aim and intent of submitting is to query agents until someone is interested enough in representing me and my work to help me edit and polish until I have a shiny story that publishing houses want to represent. The agent then ensures things are correct for submitting to those publishing houses, with the plan that when my shiny story sells both the agent and I will get paid (me for creating the story, them for finding / editing / representing it). They're like real estate agents, but they deal in worlds and universes instead of properties. "Why get an agent?" I hear you asking. The answer: because most publishing companies who pay writers for stories won't deal directly with authors anymore, and self-publishing (professional editing and bookstore-quality finish) is really expensive with a next to zero return.
One more thing before I go, I wanted to let you know that the story starting this week is the last one I have planned for this year. I'm taking the end of November and all of December off of stories because of kid stuff going on during the lead-up to Christmas. Friday updates will continue, but will just be quick blurbs, random void-screaming about holiday prep, and reminders that you should come see me at the Rudolph's Shopping Extravaganza. I'll have books on sale! (Details of when and where will be shared in later posts so I know you'll keep coming back ;D) Hope you have a great weekend!
1. Idle Idols
I look up at the latest idol, my face a mask of adoration, and wonder if I was actually fooling any of these gods that I’d knelt before during any point in my life. Her stare is confidently high over the heads of all of us worshiping below. She looks out from her silk and porcelain cloak, adorned with plants and animals painted to look adorable and kind (in spite of many being predatory), and a sweet smile softens Her gilded face. She’s holding a long knife in one hand as if offering it to all of us, except Her fingers are curled to hold the hilt tightly, and She’s a cuddling a babe that’s nestled in the crook of Her opposite arm. Her face looks approachable, with one hand being maternal and the other dangerous.
My scornful sigh breathes out without even the hint of a scoff. At least this latest faith didn’t require all the standing and sitting and standing and sitting… my knees were too old for that. As the sermon winds down and we’re told to thank the top deity of this religion, that’s what I thank Her for: being allowed to sit for the whole service.
My name is Callia Wents. I myself am not old, just my knees are. They’d started to give me pain during the first transition, and I began using walking aides during the second transition. Now, after the third transition, I was on a waiting list for joint replacements that I would likely never qualify to receive. It’s only been fifteen years since the first transition. If I took the average, it was five years per faith. In reality, each previous ruling religion had managed to exist as a state-run method of keeping people afraid long enough for each leader to retire and die comfortably in the knowledge they’d done the best they could with what they had. That had been six years for the first, two years for the second (people had been terrified during that one), and seven years so far for this latest one. People just weren’t frightened anymore. Mostly, they were numb.
The sermon portion ended and everyone offered up one of their hands for the last part of the service: the Giving. Government officials stood from their places at the ends of each pew and put on their masks and gloves before they picked up the cases of needles and syringes they’d had neatly tucked between their feet. The officials all looked so relieved that they could finally put their masks back on. I hid my insolent smirk behind another adoring smile up at the idol, and tucked the roll of my eyes behind closed eyelids that feigned bliss. A simple pin-prick every week to ensure a faithful following, and the samples supposedly blessed and buried to ensure the Giving was returned to our Mother Earth.
Such a crock.
I already knew that the samples were taken back to the sterilized facility of the main research dome and tested to look for any of those long lost Y-chromosomes in anyone who might’ve evaded testing or been overlooked before. Sometimes women can the extra chromosome tied in as a clinging, regressive third wheel in our DNA, and it was the best place to look to start rebuilding because even thawed out Y bearing sperm samples wilted if they touched contamination (ie: anything and everything). For some reason we didn’t understand yet, the extra Y-chromosome attached to some woman’s DNA wasn’t attacked by the virus. The hope carried by our mothers was that – one day – we could use the third chromosome successfully and men would return from the history pages to live on the planet again. An inoculated woman could carry a child to term since the first vaccines had started being administered, which had been astonishing after nearly ten years without a new birth after the pandemic. That first baby had been front-page news for months, until a second pregnancy was successful and that child survived too.
All of us younger women are little miracles. We’re also forced to extreme regimes by our mothers as they cling to the memories of ‘parent’ generally being a plural thing. Our day-to-day lives as New Birthers are dictated by the needs of appeasing whatever deity of choice is being crammed down our throats to allow fertility to return to a natural balance. Aside from the last sperm banks running low on stock and no current known way to counteract the viral attack on the Y-chromosomes – meaning the eminent eradication of our species is nigh within, at most, two generations – religion is the last-ditch resort because of the claim that science failed.
To set the record straight, science didn’t fail. It was slandered, murdered, and its body burned down to ash and dust before it was run through a cement mixer and poured into ingots that were cured into unrecognizable shapes before being sunk into the deepest crevice of the oceans. The extent of the losses will likely never be fully understood, but at least a little knowledge was retained. Enough to get us to where we are now, anyway.
Why are Authors crazy? I can't answer that, but I can provide bits of my own thoughts so that you can piece together why I may be.