I don't know that there's any useful lesson here, either in terms of writing or publishing or anything else. Probably the most valuable takeaway is the reminder of just how long everything takes. The world has changed an awful lot in the last three years, but I'm pleased that these stories still found a home.
Here's a short excerpt from the beginning of "The Questionnaires:"
The ushers at Clowes Hall were making this fucking impossible. Every entrance to the theater had a team of them, with more just milling around in the lobby. This squadron of geriatric volunteers was hellbent on being helpful, and any time Chris stopped moving he could feel their eyes turn toward him as they wondered if he was lost, if he needed help, if he would like to show his ticket. These weren’t senior citizens. They were wolves wearing cardigans, and they could smell the stink of his desperation from halfway across the hall. Here came one now, white haired and deadly, dentures exposed in a smile.
“Do you need any help?” the usher asked, and Chris tucked his tablet a little tighter beneath his arm. So far tonight he hadn’t used the app once, hadn’t dared to even wake up his device. It took fifteen minutes to administer a survey, and the only time he’d got any privacy was when he’d been in the bathroom. And he knew, from experience, that no one wants to answer questions in the bathroom.
“No, thank you,” Chris said, and he stood up a little straighter and tried to look friendly. He felt very aware of the scuffs on his shoes, and that his button-down shirt was not as crisp or as clean as he’d thought. “I’m waiting for someone.”
The usher checked her watch, a tiny gold face on a tiny gold band, and she frowned. “The performance starts in five minutes. Once the doors close, no one’s allowed in or out until the intermission.”
They stood outside the east balcony. Chris hoped this spot was enough out of the way he might find some privacy here. But no such luck.
“I’ll go see if I can find my friend,” Chris said. “We don’t want to be late.”
The usher was close enough now Chris could smell the lavender of her hand lotion, which he’d seen her use after touching each ticket. Chris did not have a ticket. He was not here for the show.
There was a shout from downstairs. Chris looked past the edge of the veranda to see a security guard pulling Thatcher through the lobby by his elbow. When Thatcher spotted Chris he yanked free.
“They got us!” Thatcher yelled. “Run for it!”
The usher took a step back, eyes wide. “May I see your ticket, please?”
There was a second guard down in the lobby, and now he made a break for the stairwell. Chris pulled out his tablet, opened the survey app, and threw a hail mary.
“Sure,” Chris said, “but maybe I could ask you a few questions first?”
Read the rest here.