Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Critiquing in Denver

I've joined the Denver Fiction writers and have started sharing critiques with them. They've offered some valuable insight into what worked and what didn't work. I am now back to revising The Lost Art of Magic, and hope to have something even more special as the weeks go by.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Revisions of my Nano book

Early in November, I expressed fears that I would run out of things to say around 35,000 words, then at the end I crossed 50,000 words and estimated another 10,000 to 15,000 words before the book was finished. Both estimates were grossly off the mark, which I think only proves one of me observations just a couple posts ago.

No matter how much I put into my plot, when the actual writing commences, I am a panster, and like the good Captain Barbossa said, "the code is more what you'd call 'guidelines' than actual rules." So goes it with my plots.

And now, in revisions, I am finding places in the early chapters where the characters don't quite agree with the later chapters, so I am shoring up their stories and the chapters are growing in size, just a couple hundred words or so per chapter, but it's still a bit different, or maybe I'm a bit different.


The hook contest at talebait continues. I have made several entries with the hope of garnering a coveted reading by one of the judges. I need to get that first connection to put one of my books into publication before I can complete my journey to published novelist.

Monday, November 29, 2010


The holidays were a major distraction. My daily quota fell from 1800 words per day to 300-500 words per day. But I was close enough to cross the 50,000 word mark tonight. I probably still have another 10,000 to 15,000 words before the novel is really finished. (Then comes revision, revision, revision, then more revisions.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Homecoming

No, that's not a remake of some Waltons story, I'm flying home tonight. Woo Hoo! It's been six long weeks in Denver, and my family misses me as much as I miss them.

Not sure how I'm going to keep up my writing quota, I'm hoping to have some quiet time before everyone wakes up. I'll be using paper and pencil on the plane, and in the airport if I can't find an outlet.

I have lots of things to fix when I get home. Apparently, the automatic sprinklers decided to burst something and flood the streets. Not sure I can fix them this weekend, but I hope to identify the problem. I'm hoping we're far enough into the quasi-fall season that the yard will survive without water. Maybe it will be something simple that I can fix. And that is only one of my many chores that await me.

The weather news is predicting blizzard conditions in the mountains that may hamper holiday travel. I may end up with more paper scenes than I would otherwise anticipate.

I just read a NANOWRIMO pep talk from Lemony Snicket. I suspected all along that this madness of writing 50,000 words in a single month was an unfortunate event.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

40,000 words and counting, but not rambling yet

The question comes up on writing forums a lot. Are you a plotster or a pantster? Well, I've always been somewhere in the middle. My first two novels were plotted out thoroughly in my head. I mulled over the plots, sub-plots and parallel stories in my head long before I started writing. Then, when I finally sat down to type, I followed my plots but still wrote in pantster mode. I frequently found my plot changing, surprised at what some of my characters did that I had not foreseen.

Somewhere in the middle of the second book, I started using a tool called yWriter, which allows me to plot out my chapters and my scenes ahead of time. It was perfect for me, since I already wrote my first two books in chapters and scenes, only I didn't know it.

Now why do I bring this up? Because, I've been to some group writings and have found that others are have far more trouble reaching 50,000 words than I was (I thought my story was going to peter out around 35,000). They suggested adding flying monkeys and visiting aliens. They were joking (I hope they were joking).

Seriously, however, I think a lot of them, and I am guilty as well, have developed a habit of being excessively wordy, during the month of November. I repeated myself when it wasn't necessary, I did not use contractions to keep word count up. I considered changing my names to Joe Bob and Norma Ray.

But when I read my early chapters, I found I was breezing through the action and the dialog, without painting the scenery. I've thumbed through a couple books about writing a novel, and it is more common to over-write, then edit out a lot of junk. When I tell people my first book was 162,000 words, they assume the same.

Reading this book, I can see that my edits will remove some of the replication, but I will have a lot of fluff to add back into the book.

It doesn't matter, it's just different.

Friday, November 19, 2010

NanoWrimo still

Well I'm sitting at around 33,000 words. I've clearly overcome my concern about running out of story at 35,000 words. I'm confident that I should be able to hit 45,000 words, and more likely 48,000 words. Once I approach 48,000 words, I'm sure I can hit 50,000 words.

I'm on pace to complete around Nov 28, which is just slightly ahead of the proposed track to finish on the 30th.

I'm very excited about the contest over at talebait. I've made a few entries and hope I can get one of my novels into the hands of one of the judges.

I've recently moved my two "finished" novels to my new Android phone, and found a typo on page 1 of Mother of All Viruses. Clearly, I need to make one more pass through my books. (Of course, I'm not an editor, that may be a never ending challenge.)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Denver Fiction Writers

I joined in with the Denver Fiction Writers on Sunday. They were great. We wrote and chatted, I had a great time. I think next time, I'll do paper and pencil because tearing down and setting up my lap top is just too much work for a couple hours of writing.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Too many distractions!

I started off with a good daily quota, but fell behind for a few days.
  1. I'm from Arizona, and I'm currently working outside of Denver. It's snowing. My wife is still swimming in the pool, and I'm brushing snow off the car.
  2. I'm putting some extra hours in on my day job.
  3. TaleBait is having a contest where the winner can get a review, possibly by an agent, or a book reviewer.
  4. TaleBait has some collaborative stories which I'm trying to work towards a conclusion.
  5. I'm exercising again (don't want to slip in the snow.)
  6. My new phone, a droid x, just arrived. WHAT A HUGE DISTRACTION.
  7. My fish tank at home had an emergency, the pump died and the amonia built up in the tank. I couldn't deal with it. Thankfully, my grand daughter and wife managed to do some of the things required to fix it. Good job, but we did lose two fish. :(
  8. I miss home.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

More on Nanowrimo

I've restructured my chapters and combined three chapters into one. The combined chapter is barely the size I hoped the original chapters would be. If I don't find a new thread to weave into the story, I may plateau at around 35,000 words.

I'd also like to take a moment to gripe about my keyboard. It's decided that now would be a good time to start dropping letters and missing strokes.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Time to Panic

My goal was to fit 7,000 to 8,000 words per chapter, but so far, the first two chapters are about 9,000 words (combined). I'm going to have to devise another plot twist to either fit some more scenes into my planned chapters, or to add new chapters while consolidating the smaller ones.

At my current rate, I will run out of words at 40,000 - 45,000 and fall short of the 50,000 minimum.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

More on Nanowrimo

Day 3 comes to an end. I'm meeting the NanoWrimo official daily quota, but I'm falling behind my own quota slightly. I was hoping to average 2000 words per day, so I could have Thanksgiving off, more or less.

I'm also concerned, because I just wrapped up the first draft of my first chapter and it fell short about 1000 words of where I wanted it to be.

Concerned about NanoWrimo word count

With two days under my belt now, I find I am less concerned about meeting my daily quota, and more concerned that the story I outlined won't produce the full 50,000 words.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Congratulations San Francisco Giants

I want to congratulate the San Francisco Giants on their World Series Victory. And I want to thank them (sorry my many Texas friends) for making it short and sweet. I need to minimize as many distractions as possible for the month of November, so I can concentrate on my NanoWrimo project.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Nano Wrimo is almost upon us

I don't know if I can do this. I've never been that prolific, but I'm dropping everything else (except for job and Thanksgiving.) Travelling home for the holiday will be tough. I may gain some time during the trip (but not much, battery time is dismal.) So I can figure on losing four days of the month.

Up to this point, my style has been to write multiple parallel threads that constantly swap out in short bursts, but for this project, I'm going for more substantial chapters with less scenes.

Unless I have an epiphany during the weekend, I plan to write a book called The Beat of a Different Drummer. It's about an aging band that was big twenty years ago, and now finds themselves clinging to their waning fame, but they have a problem, the drummer is missing.

The book will explore the police investigation which includes in depth interviews with the band members and other associates. If I can pull it off, each chapter will provide a different members perspective, and some clues to his fate.

And since the show must go on, during all of this, they must audition replacement drummers, and they all have a different opinion on what they should be looking for. I'm saving the surprise ending for the actual book.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Struggling through a dry spell

I've taken a job in Denver. Keeping the bills paid is priority one. Between the ending of the last contract, which had a hard end date regardless of the preparedness of the project, and the anxiety of finding work out of town, I had little time and even less energy to write much.

I managed to make some contributions to some TaleBait, but not much progress on my own work. To make matters work, I've started a programming project too, writing a book keeping application that I hope will be easy for non-accountants to use.

It's not so much writers block, as it is a lack of ambition. I've contacted a nearby community college by email which was immediately replied. I may have found some resources here to network with and find some enthusiasm again.

There is a conference in New York this coming January which includes something called Pitch Slam. Pitch Slam puts you in a room where you can pitch your books to as many of the 50 agents as you can in the allotted time. You get 90 seconds to make your pitch, and 90 seconds for them to respond, then move on, like speed dating. I imagine a zillion authors in long lines. I'll have to think about this one.

Got a phone call from WL asking if I was ready to accept their joint venture offer. I told them that whatever my plans were, it didn't include them. It amazes me how a business with as bad a reputation as their's prefers to prey on people instead of cleaning up their act and going legitimate.

Friday, September 3, 2010


It's been eight weeks since I sent my manuscript, and 15 days since I asked the agent for her intentions. Today I sent a final email stating that if I receive no response, I will assume she has lost interest. I need to move on.

Meanwhile, I asked my sister to test the first two chapters (still first drafts) of The Diva of Mud Flats. I simply wanted to know if it was interesting enough to continue, and she thought it was. I still struggle with some of the character names, and she noted some confusion with them. Perhaps there are too many characters, but mostly I think it's the fact that they have names and titles. I hope to iron it out in the revisions.

Side Note:
In a previous entry, I mentioned a jazz quintet I had joined. The drummer drove the guitarist and myself crazy until the guitarist finally quit and the band was disbanded. I remain in contact with the guitarist myself, however job prospects may take me out of state forcing me to revise how to handle future music interests.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Agent Responds

I'm not quite sure what to make of the agent's interest. Over five weeks have passed since I sent the full manuscript, and not a word from her. I emailed and asked how it was going. She expressed real interest in the book, and interest in seeing my other book.

Her response was real short, however, not what I would expect from someone interested in the piece, but she did use the title by name.

Nothing says I'm interested like a contract, however.

I have resumed work on The Diva of Mud Flats, but I find I'm writing very brief scenes of mostly dialog. As one reviewer of my short story, Evolution of the Apes, said, it reads like a radio play. I will probably embellish on the second pass, kind of the opposite of normal.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Still Waiting...

So, I haven't received a rejection yet, but the four weeks have passed that it would take to typically read a book and respond. I don't know if that is good or bad. I want to contact her, but don't want to push. If she is interested in my book, then I'd like to offer her my completed Virus manuscript rather than randomly posting queries to the world again.

On a side note, I find myself being sucked into the world of music again with a Jazz Quintet. I also have been attracting a lot of interest professionaly (computers) but from all over the country, New York, Denver, and Boston for example. And to top it off, I have been offered a chance to do some part time work above and beyond any other full time I get elsewhere. There is not enough time in the day, but working away from home will effectively nix the music, at least here.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Mother of All Viruses is complete!

I have finished the final revision on my first novel. I have drafted a short synopsis, but still need to edit-check the long synopsis before I send it out.

I started this novel over five years ago, but suspended it to write something more in line with acceptable first novel lengths. It originally came in around 163,000 words, and I have only trimmed it back to 158,000 words. My second novel, which is still being reviewed, is 92,000 words, and my third one will probably come in around 60-70,000 words.

I tried removing characters and entire sub-plots, but the whole thing fell apart, and after three failed attempts to drastically reduce it's size, I put it on the shelf and started the second book.

I really like this book. It has a complex story line of intertwined sub-plots (which is why it was so hard to shorten). It starts out as an intrigue story and ends up being a science fiction.

This was a real mile stone for me.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

No news is good news

Still no response from the agent, but it hasn't been very long yet.

I did, get a nice fortune cookie "Your present plans are going to succeed."

I'll choose to believe the it was a smart cookie.

In the mean time, I've made my way through 2/3 of my my virus novel. Seven more chapters and I'm ready to start submitting it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Time to Cross My Fingers...

My latest query & synopsis has garnered a request for the full manuscript. I had already pre-screened the agent against the beware lists. I'll say no more and just get back to editing my Virus novel.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Have you seen my Muse?

I have a household of family staying with us. Some have moved in, some are just visiting, and more are on the way. It is not an easy arrangement. The pantry and refrigerator are jam packed, and only a third of it is mine. Disquiet has become the norm and teenage angst is around every corner.
Early mornings have been my best time to sit at the keyboard, and I've managed to edit a couple more chapters of The Mother of All Viruses, my first novel. I'm pleased to see that it is pretty clean, I've only made a few minor tweaks.

I've also managed to add a couple scenes to The Diva of Mud Flats, my third novel. It's still mostly a piece of rock that I am chiseling down to something artistic.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Back in Business

Well, I finally got one of my computers working (without spending money on it, yay!) I had to salvage a hard drive from another laptop and reload the machine from scratch.

I re-polished the first three chapters of my book, and found another grammar error that I repeated throughout the book. I think English must be my second language.

Now I can get back to revisions on the first book and writing some more scenes on the third.

I got another rejection, but my rejection database is on the other computer. I'll have to find some way to get that off of there and onto my flash drive.

That's all I have to share, just more me, me, me for this segment.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Technology is not being my friend

I put myself under the gun to produce a synopsis for The Lost Art of Magic. I had previously written a short synopsis, but it just didn't work. So I started putting together a full scene by scene synopsis.

I was already having problems with my main computer, the power died to the USB ports which effectively shut down the mouse, keyboard and printer, so I dusted off my old laptop.

Last Friday, I completed the first draft of the synopsis and was ready to start editing it (lots of typos, and I kept slipping back into past tense.) That's when the lap top stopped booting up. Fortunately, I keep all my work on a flash drive. I have the flash drive backed up on the main computer and the lap top. I used the restore CD's to see if the lap top could be revived. They reported that the hard drive was in trouble. I was able to fix some bad sectors, but it still wouldn't boot up.

I dusted off an older computer. It booted up just fine, no problems with the mouse, keyboard or USB ports. However, it refused to read the flash drive.

I finally figured out how to limp along on the laptop until the hard drive fails completely, but then my printer runs out of toner.

I have managed to complete the synopsis. But I'm afraid that if I try to send it out, my router will turn belly up, or my Qwest modem will freeze. Not really, but just to be sure, I'm going to give the first three chapters one more dusting before I send them off.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Three Coins in a Fountain Pen

What is with all the THREE's in our lives? I thought of a lot of titles when I started this article. The Three Faces of Eve, Three on a Match, 3:10 to Yuma, Three Days of the Condor, and the list goes on.

So who cares? What does the number Three have to do with writing? Well, to borrow a phrase from Sesame Street, this message is being brought to you by the number THREE.

It's not enough to write a novel. It's not even enough to rewrite it over and over to get it perfect. You still have to write it two more times (for three in total).

You have to write a Query letter, which is kind of like writing a limerick to sell an opera. Then, you also have to write a synopsis, which is kind of like the readers digest condensed version of your masterpiece.

So here I am, ready to send my manuscript off to another agent, only she wants a synopsis. I thought I had one, and I sort of do, but I took a look at it and gagged. The software I use has a feature to help write a synopsis, but to take advantage of it, you have to fill out descriptions in all the chapters. I thought I had, but I was wrong. So now, I am filling my mornings and evenings with writing short condensed descriptions of every scene in my book.

Oh yeah, the synopsis is written in present tense. I can't just cut and paste the important stuff. Six down, fourteen to go.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Query Letters

Why are query letters so darned hard? Writing a novel is child's play compared to writing a query letter. Could it be a right brain-left brain thing? Probably not, but, it certainly is a whole different animal and requires a completely different set of skills. This is a job for a salesman. My father was a salesman, and he wrote advertising copy. If he were still alive, I could probably ask him.

I'm no salesman. As a child, I took paper routes to get out of the house. I didn't care about the money and hated asking customers to pay. I also hated school candy sales for the same reason. I guess I didn't get that gene from my father.

Maybe, the next time you pick up a really awful book, check out the back cover and ask yourself, "I wonder if this guy (or gal) can really write one hell of a query letter?"

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Progress Report

I've started my final revision of The Mother of All Viruses. I don't have any structural changes planned, and it's been smooth reading so far. It was my first novel, and has the most grammatical errors, so I have to be careful that I don't get too caught up in the reading to notice punctuation and capitalization errors. I'm considering writing a piece of software to analyze capitalization of words that depend on context (like general vs. General Patton).

I've also started writing another chapter of The Diva of Mud Flats. I'm still mapping out the story, and still defining and redefining the characters. One character has already gone from a hero and love interest, to a villain and now back to a hero, although a reluctant scoundrel type.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Another Rejection

I got another rejection. This time from a publisher. At least it didn't appear to be a form rejection. It doesn't seem to matter how much I rationalize the difficulty of getting published, I just can't help thinking I am doing it wrong. I can't help feeling that the genre publishers look at my book and say it's not genre enough, while everyone else simply says they don't deal with that genre. In this case, it's a modern magic realism fantasy. Maybe I should change the main character to a vampire?

I don't know what it is about my generation, or maybe it's the current generation, but authors seem to be hatching in large numbers like a swarm of insects in a horror story. Maybe the educational system has been more successful than we are led to believe. More likely the internet has turned everyone into a writer (he say's as he types into his blog), and the current economy has forced them to try and make a dime. Heck, email submissions are cheap. And rejections from snail mailed manuscripts are costly rejections.

I keep a log of all my submissions and rejections. When I do eventually sell that book, and then when I sign a movie deal, I'll make sure to send all of them a press release. (Hey! It's eleven pm here, I'm supposed to be dreaming!)

Either next weekend or the following, I'll be sending off another round of submissions. Next month, I should have my first book ready for submission and will send both out.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Bringing Characters Alive

I saw a post on another blog asking how to make characters sound authentic. I thought I'd ask one of my characters to shed some insight. "Francesca? How should you sound?"

"What was that you were saying? How is it that I should sound? How are you thinking I should sound? I only sound like me. Why is it you aren't writing something to get me out the mess you put me int? Do you really think I am standing around all day waiting for you to be asking the stupid questions? No! You need to be getting back to the work, and NOW! As if I had nothing better to do? What was that? Oh, you are having the guests? I didn't see them. You should have said so. Of course they want to know what I am thinking. Who wouldn't? What was the question? Oh yes, how is it you can make characters sounding authentic."

"Why? Who says authentic is so fabulous? If that other person, who asked the question, is thinking that Bella, in the twilighty books, is not sounding like the teenager, then I say, 'WHAT IS IT THAT YOU ARE EXPECTING? She is hanging out with a hundred year old, don't you know?' My author's kid thinks she is knowing better what kids her age are sounding like, but she only just knows what they are sounding like today. They sure aren't sounding like I did when I was her age, not that I'm that old, I'm just saying."

"I think, maybe, some people are forgetting that I am a character. If I am a little outrageous, it is just being my character. If I am a lot outrageous, it is just more character to love, and I do like feeling the love. Now get back to work. I am needing the hero to save me."

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Progress Report

Mid-weeks are slow for me. My day job is both time consuming and taxing. Still, I have managed to make it to the last chapter of The Mother of All Viruses. It's been a good revision pass. I've found a few continuity errors to correct and have modified one of the main characters titles. I think the next pass will just catch any lingering problem words that I may have overused.

Last weekend I mapped out the second chapter of The Diva of Mud Flats. I'm not entirely settled on it yet, but it's provided a good springboard to split the story into three threads. It also introduced two separate villains to the plot, and a second hero. The third chapter will most likely add a fourth and fifth thread.

I wrote my first novel with a small outline I kept on my PDA. My second novel was pretty much free flowing words onto the page. I have thoroughly outlined another, Finding Religion, but have only drafted a single scene so far. I have a less thorough outline for Something About Nobility. I have another started with 2500 words and no outline.

If there is a formula that defines the technical aspects of how a story is written, I haven't found it. To be honest, I don't believe there is one true formula. I take each book as it's own inspiration. Like the sculptor that endeavors to free the art from the stone, I don't over analyze how I intend to get a story from my head to the paper, it will find it's own path, like water flowing down a hill.

Update: I finished the last two chapters. Will probably take a short breather before starting the final revision.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Progress Report

This has been a good weekend. I'm still revising The Mother of All Viruses. I have three chapters left, then I anticipate one more revision pass. It's a good thing when you still like what you wrote, during revisions, and I'm still enjoying it as I go along.

I found a few new sites to help my search for an agent. I have added them below.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Progress Report

Without anything spectacular to report, I want to use this forum as a chronicle for my current projects.

I am still nearing the completion of the second to last revision of The Mother of All Viruses. This revision included three main goals: I'm documenting the scene descriptions so I can use them to produce a synopsis; I've dropped the sub-sub-sub-plot that one of my professors has not received her doctorate yet; I've also changed one of the getaway vehicles from a van to a car (allowing the FBI to locate the abandoned van and it's contents).

This week, I completed the first draft of the first chapter of The Diva of Mud Flats. I still need to work on the outline for the upcoming chapters.

I tweaked the first two scenes of another novel, Something About Nobility. I have two written scenes and lots of notes. I have an idea how I want this plot to end, but I am still putting together the mechanisms to get there. I have defined some interesting characters, and this week, I came up with some more ideas to manage their relationships and another sub plot to distract the primary protagonist.

No takers, yet, on The Lost Art of Magic. I will submit it again at the end of the month. I have expanded my notes on the follow up, I plan two more novels as sequels. I am seeing some interesting chatter about the software I use (yWriter) regarding how it may be modified to further assist book series. I know the software author has a book series of his own, so he is probably motivated to make this a reality.

Un-sponsored plug: If you are an author and work on a PC, yWriter is an excellent tool for putting your novel together. It organizes your work in chapters and scenes. It doesn't write the book for you, it just gives you a way to organize your work. It has advanced features if you want them, but they don't slow you down if you don't need them. Most important, the software is an invisible interface between myself and my work. It never distracts me from my writing.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Working multiple manuscripts

I don't know if this is considered smart or stupid, but I find myself working on multiple projects at the same time. I have completed my second novel, though I still plan to pass it through a copywriter for final editing. I am almost done with my second to last revision on my first novel. I usually do my revisions in the mornings and look forward to completing it. Last night I completed my first draft on the first chapter of a new book. I also have a couple other books started, and several other outlines underway.

I am definitely running the risk of spreading myself too thin to ever finish anything, but usually, I reach a point where I need to mull over what I have done before I continue. Sometimes this is a point where I'll switch gears and make some contributions to another story. I find that writing out the first couple scenes usually gives me some insight on how my characters are going to develop. I like to keep it more right brain than left.

I do use a piece of software that lets me organize my scenes and chapters, and move them around. In fact, without this, I probably would never have tried working on so many manuscripts. It allows me to define my chapters, then sub-define them in scenes. I can create notes about the scenes and the characters and then come back to the project at a later date, I hope.

So, maybe I'm doing myself a disservice, I don't know. If I finish this new book (I expect it to be shorter, perhaps a novella), then I guess my technique is working for me. If I actually pick up where I left off on one of my others, then I can be sure of it.

I think I said "I" 25 times above, so I(29) am going to stop now.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Reading, Riting and Rithmetic

I don't know if today's kids even know what the three R's are. As authors, they can take on a completely different meaning for us.

Reading - I won't preach that you have to love reading, but I hope you at least like it some. I'm sure you will find authors and teachers who will talk down to you from their pulpit and proclaim that you must read, read and read. I'll agree that there is much to be learned from reading other peoples work, especially from the great authors. But I'm not a huge advocate of reading, because you reach a point where you don't want your style to be unduly influenced by someone else's. Plus, there's the cost. Every hour reading could have been an hour writing, but now and then, it's good to pick up a book and see how someone else does it. It's also good to have certain authors or book series that you look forward to reading. I think reading is probably much more important for the younger budding authors, but when you've reached an age that qualifies you for the adjective "seasoned", you'll find life is short and you only want to read what you want to read, and devote more time to writing.

Writing - If you don't like writing, go find something else to do. If you are unsure about what you have written, have it appraised. I attended creative writing courses all through high school and college and a little beyond. Granted, writing was easier in those days, all you needed was pencil and paper. Then, when it came time to share with your class, a typewriter and mimeograph did the trick. No software tools to paste together your story like a comic book, just pencil and eraser. Write something, share it and see what works and what doesn't. Anyone can learn to write, the hard part is the story telling. Story telling is a talent, maybe even a gift. It's not unique to authors, a painter who is a story teller will paint a picture. A painter who is not a story teller will paint a house. It's the same with writing. If you are a story teller, you can write a fictional account to draw the reader in and thrill them with the ending. If not, you can still craft words together, but it will most likely be someone else's story.

Rithmetic - I know, I know, what does arithmetic have to do with writing? I'm not talking about word counts or chapter sizes, it's much more basic than that. And it can be the hardest of all, especially for fiction. We all want to get paid. Getting discovered, or even just noticed, is the hardest part. It uses the other half of the brain too, which makes it harder to do both well. I'm still working on this. If I ever figure it out, I'll let you know.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Starting my first book - The Mother of All Viruses

Happy Mother's Day.

As a matter of fact, my first book, The Mother of All Viruses, is dedicated to my late mother, and my second book, The Lost Art of Magic, is dedicated to my wife, who, while not the mother of my children, has two children and four grand children.

I said in my first post, that I would elaborate a bit on my first book, so here goes.

We had just left California and moved to just outside of Phoenix. Soon after moving to Arizona, I started working just outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Being away from home left me with a lot of free time, too much time to be occupied by playing golf, so I started writing again.

When I first sat down in front of my computer, I wondered how in the world I would ever write 80 to 120 thousand words when the most I had ever written was about 17 thousand. I mapped out a story outline and added some parallel sub-plots and created more characters than I had ever used in a short story. In actual fact, I think I probably created more characters than most authors would advise, at least those that count words and statistics.

I had not invested in any tools to help me at this point, I just started writing in Word. I wrote more or less in a stream of conciousness mode. Even though I had an outlin of sorts, I actually found myself waiting to see how some scenes would turn out. My grammar had significant problems, and I knew this. It improved slightly as I went along, but I always figured it would go to a copywriter for editing anyway. I had a lot to learn.

My wife was a big help. She read my pages and got caught up in the story, and hated those times when she had to wait for more pages. When I finally type 'THE END' on the last page, I started looking around the internet for places to submit it. The first place I found was a Literary Agent that immediately whisked it off to a publisher who wrote back and said that a contract would be coming.

If you are a budding author, and learn nothing else from this blog, learn this: IT IS NOT THAT EASY!

The Agent was a well known famous SCAM, as was the publisher. They offered me a Joint Venture (which is another name for Vanity). I was initially suspicious because they were my very first submission. Plus, I learned that it is somewhat difficult to sell larger novels, espeially for new authors, and this one had grown to over 160 thousand words (so much for me fear of reaching 80 thousand). I found some very useful websites that listed agents and publishers to avoid, and there they were.

Having learned that this book's size might be a problem, I shelved it for a while and wrote my second book which landed at a more workable 93 thousand words. I continue to edit my first novel, and in fact am almost done with my revisions. When I finish the revisions, I will try to shop it around again.

To be honest, between the current financial climate, and the changing publishing world, it is easily possible that I will be shopping five different novels around before I finally make a sale. But, what else do I have to do? I keep writing, editing, and once a month I try to sell some stories and whatever books I have.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

First Post

I think I always knew that selling a book would be harder than selling a song. All through the seventies (my higher education years) I studied creative writing. It was all I wanted to do, besides owning an aquarium store, but that was more of a phase. But, along the way I discovered how much I liked acting and music too. So, when the day came that I discovered computers, and what a good day job it is, I just had to decide what else I was going to do with my life. Selling a novel sounded likes lots of rejections, there were only so many publishers, and acting was another tough road, there are a limited number of playhouses, but music is everywhere. There are live venues everywhere you go, and the radio stations have more varieties than ice cream. So I left writing behind, except for writing some music here and there, but the music industry is tough, and it's fickle.

Someday, I'll tell you more about my experience with music. Five years ago I started writing again. I was rusty, and wasn't even sure if I could write a full length novel, but I did, and then some. Next post I'll talk a bit about the first book.

As I go along, I will catch up some of what got me to this point, and chronicle what's happening now as I try to get my books published, and which books I'm working on.