The submissions seem to be in a slump lately. No one’s responding, magzaines have response times that are too long. Agents are not responding with rejections, they’re just ignoring me. I know my story is good, intriguing. What do I have to do to my query letter to make it right? How can this letter get such a positive reaction, and mine’s trash?

Tipper and Al Gore are getting divorced. Really? After 40 years of marriage you can’t work out the differences you have? And it’s not like any event preceded this. Al Gore didn’t have an affair, and Tipper wasn’t strung out on heroin and JD (although in my experience, you rarely ever make a separation like this unless one party member has another partner in reserve). This makes me really scared for my own marriage. We’re fine now, but I always have questions in my head, the same as any guy would after making a commitment. It feels like a separation could happen to us at anytime. It could happen to my parents. It’s like cancer — marriage cancer. It’s like it can’t be prevented.

My centaur short story is getting beyond short story length. That’s going to make it technically hard to sell, but we’ll see. It’s interesting how it’s gotten so much bigger than I thought it would. And it’s taken some interesting turns in the script. But I fear I’m writing myself into a rut. I seem to be writing the same two characters. The uptight “nerd” guy who speaks with high language and always does what’s right. He acts like a computer or a Vulcan. And the “fun guy” who’s more headstrong and witty, but makes more mistakes. He’s usually more proactive than reactive.

Here’s some funny things that happened to me playing Left 4 Dead the other night.

-In Campaign, a Tank spawned right outside the safe room and pursued us (me, at least) in a tight four-corner square hallway after we had just survived a crescendo event in Normal and we were all yellow. Somehow we survived.
-In Versus, I was the worst Tank ever. At the end of the Blood Harvest campaign, the survivors surrounded me and got me fruitlessly chasing them in a circle. I kept trying to get the closest one, but he kept running away. I had an unpleasant flashback to when I was a kid and some bullies were picking on me, but I couldn’t get any of them because they were faster and kept running just out of reach. But we still managed to win the versus campaign.
-Playing as a survivor in the same campaign, same level, we were doing real well. But I got clocked by the last Tank when it threw a tree trunk at me (they can do that?) and incapacitated me. One of us survived and won the game for us.
-In Versus, I followed someone all the way across a field because I thought she knew what she was doing. Then she said she didn’t.
-I had a griefer trying to do the whitest stand-up routine. He must have thought he had a promising career as an insult comic. He did not. Why can’t you block people’s mikes in L4D? Eventually, when he got incapacitated, I just started leaving him there. Usually I wouldn’t do that sort of thing — team solidarity and survival is more important than my emotions (that’s how you get killed in the movies) — but we were playing on Easy, and he wasn’t contributing anything significant.
-I followed someone who was apparently trying to speed-run through Dark Carnival. He got incapacitated a lot. Then he quit part way through. The finale didn’t have any Tanks, for some reason.

I like playing with my new headset.

Eric Juneau is a software engineer and novelist on his lunch breaks. In 2016, his first novel, Merm-8, was published by eTreasures. He lives in, was born in, and refuses to leave, Minnesota. You can find him talking about movies, video games, and Disney princesses at http://www.ericjuneaubooks.com where he details his journey to become a capital A Author.

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