Wednesday, December 19, 2007

R.I.P. Riley - 3/19/2000 - 12/16/2007

Warning – Do not read today’s blog if you don’t want to get depressed. I almost didn’t write it, but Riley deserves it.

There are two men in Maine I love like brothers. Don and Tory. We are close, and our families are close. While there have been occasional falling outs between us, as there always are with any family, we have always been able to eventually put them behind us and move on.

This morning I received a call from Don. I was expecting him to ask when we will be arriving in Maine (we go there every Christmas), but instead he hit me with a shocker. Struggling to breathe, Don told me Tory’s 7 year old son, Riley, was killed in a house explosion on Sunday.



Riley lived with his mother, and apparently his mother was visiting friends or relatives (please note: I may not have all the facts straight because I have found precious little info on this other than one or two online articles and Don was too distraught for me to pry, but as updates come in I will be sure to post them) who have a wood stove in an unfinished house. Part of the children’s chores in the house was to light the wood stove. Riley’s cousins went down to do so, and Riley went with them. The oldest child in attendance was 11.

It seems the adults in the house regularly use flammable fluids such as kerosene or diesel fuel to light wood stoves, and the children did the same. It is well-known that you do NOT use flammable liquids to light fires in the enclosed space of a wood stove because of the potential for an explosion. Instead, you are supposed to use kindling and newspaper to get the fire started. Why these people taught their children to use diesel fuel is anyone’s guess, but the ensuing blast cost little Riley his life.

Two other children who were present were also badly burned, and are in the burn unit of the hospital right now. Riley didn’t make it.

Riley was born on a chilly morning in March of 2000. I remember it well because the previous night Tory was at our house when his then wife called him and told him she was going into labor early. He got up and left, and the next day told us of his son’s birth. Riley was the third in an adorable trio of children born to Tory and his ex, and he was always happy and fun to tickle and bounce.

I will miss him a great deal. I can’t imagine what Tory must be going through right now. I have been unable to reach him, but I don’t really know what I could say to him anyway. My wife and I will not even be able to make the funeral.

For those of you who live up north, where woodstoves are common, please keep this in your mind when you go to light it. Don’t use diesel fuel, lighter fluid, kerosene, or any similar accelerant to get your fire going.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Michael Vick Sentenced to 23 Months

Just in case you’ve been living under a rock lately and haven’t heard the news, Michael Vick, the former star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was sentenced yesterday to 23 months. The judge actually went on the long side of sentencing and gave Vick more time than the prosecution asked for because Vick, apparently, showed a remarkable lack of integrity all through the process. At one point he failed a drug test just days after promising the judge he would stay away from drugs.

This is the same man who was arrested at an airport not long ago for having a secret compartment in his bottle of water with drugs in it. Remember that? Yup. Vick.

While I, personally, could care less about the drug charges (hey, it’s his body, right?), the dog fighting charges needed to be answered for. According to what came out in the trial, Vick not only bankrolled the entire operation (Bad Newz Kennels), but actually killed and/or aided in killing several dogs who, when first brought in for “test fights,” didn’t perform at the high standards set by the Bad Newz Kennel. So of course, these underperforming dogs had to die…you know…since they couldn’t fight well enough in the pit.

Disgusting.

More disgusting was the method of execution. Bad enough they killed the poor animals, but how was this accomplished? Euthanization? A needle? Nope. The dogs were drowned and hanged. That’s right. Hanged. As in a rope was tied around their necks and the dogs were dropped so that the neck snapped, like cattle thieves in the old west or Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Which leaves one to wonder…what was the purpose of this method? Why, if you are going to kill a dog, would you do so in such a grotesque manner? I can only guess, though I am tempted to lean towards the idea that Vick and pals must have thought it was “neat” or entertaining in some way.

The part that confuses me the most is this: Michael Vick was the highest paid player in the NFL. Note: not ONE of the highest, but THE highest. He made more than Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, or Tony Romo (for those who don’t know…Brady, Manning, Favre, and Romo are the 4 best QBs in the NFL, playing for the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, and Dallas Cowboys, respectively). Now, given all that, why would anyone risk losing so much over something as stupid as dog fighting? I just don’t get it. If I were pulling down that kinda salary, I sure wouldn’t risk it all for something like that.

Stupid, if you ask me.

Before I found out some of these details, I felt a little bad for him. I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that maybe, just maybe, he was a good man who made a bad mistake. But after reading some of the details; the constant lies to the court, the atrocious acts committed to the dogs, the STUPID drug use when he knew he was being monitored, I no longer feel sympathetic. This is a man who thought he was bigger than the law, and thumbed his nose at the legal system. I do not feel the least bit bad for him anymore. Instead, I feel bad for his family, who has to go through this with him. I feel bad for his mother, who has to watch her son come crashing down from Grace. I feel bad for the dogs who were brutalized in the name of sick entertainment. I feel bad for his teammates, who now have to play without him and have had several starting QBs this year because they have been unable to find someone who can fill Vick’s shoes on the field.

Lastly, I feel bad for the millions of fans who had to watch all this trash unfold, especially the kids who looked up to him as a role model. Let’s hope they all learn from his example.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

This Is The Coolest News I've Ever Gotten To Share

Man, I have been itching.

You know how when you have great, wonderful, phenominal news and you just want to scream about it but can't because it's not YOUR news and it just wouldn't be fair?

Go see Aprilynne's blog.

I know, I know...most anyone reading my little slice of the blogosphere already goes to Aprilynne's blog (she's way cuter than I am, anyway), so you've probably already read it, but just in case you haven't, go now.

No! Don't read another line until you've gone to Aprilynne's blog and read her news.

I mean it. Read it there first, then come back.

Ok, are you back? You didn't cheat, did you? Good.

So you already know she got a FOUR BOOK DEAL TO HARPER-FRIGGIN-COLLINS!!!!!! Oh, my god, how farking cool is that? In case you dunno how to answer, I'll answer for you:

IT'S TOO COOL FOR WORDS! That's how cool it is! At least words in English. maybe if I make up a few words I can get the meaning in...

Nah...

Aprilynne, since I know you''l find your way here eventually, I just want to offer you my sincerest, most heartfelt congratulations. You earned it, and you soooo deserve it. :) I'll be waiting for my ARC ;)

Oh, and I gotta find a new waiting buddy now...any takers? :)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

It's Been Quiet Lately....Too Quiet

Sorry I’ve been so quiet the last few weeks, folks. Truth is I haven’t felt much like writing lately, not even in this blog. I’ve been kinda wallowing. I don’t think I’ve written anything new in the last two weeks. My own fault, I shouldn’t let things get in the way of putting words to paper, but if I am being honest, that last rejection stung a lot more than I realized at first or wanted to admit. I haven’t posted about it because I hate to sound whiny or petulant, and I already had a ranty post about this topic, so I’ve been keeping my fingers under tight control.

Maybe a little too tight. I haven’t been able to make myself write anything since. I’ll go up to my computer room to write, but I always end up surfing the net or playing a video game, instead. I haven’t even been able to write anything here on this blog. That’s pretty bad. But I’m trying to remind myself it’s not a total loss yet. I can’t really put the book aside and away until it’s been rejected by everyone, and it hasn’t. There are still three pubs looking at it (very slow pubs), so hopefully one of them will want it despite it being a little “too” fresh and new.

I’ve still been reading y’all’s blogs, though, just sitting in lurker mode. Some exciting things happening out there (definitely check out Aprilynne's blog, if you haven’t already).

Anyhoo, just didn’t want anyone out there to think I keeled over or something. I’m alive and well, just…quiet.

See Y’all!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hmmmmm....My Spidey-Theme Sense Is Tingling...

OK, so when I found my superhero identity I turned out to be my mostest favoritest superhero of all: Spiderman. (yay!!)

So today I find the Super Villian test, so naturally I took it.

Whaddya know...the Spidey theme continues. I'm Venom! (another Yay!). That's cool because he was one of my favorite villains as a kid, too. :)

Your results:
You are Venom


































Venom
46%
Mr. Freeze
46%
The Joker
36%
Two-Face
29%
Lex Luthor
26%
Magneto
25%
Mystique
21%
Catwoman
18%
Dr. Doom
18%
Green Goblin
17%
Apocalypse
16%
Riddler
14%
Poison Ivy
13%
Dark Phoenix
11%
Kingpin
6%
Juggernaut
5%
Strength, disguise and adrenaline are your greatest weapons.


Click here to take the "Which Super Villain are you?" quiz...

Monday, October 29, 2007

The Curse Is Truly Over

With apologies to the lovely LadyBronco, please allow me to rejoice in the following announcement:

SOX BEAT ROCKS! WOOHOO! RED SOX WIN 2007 WORLD SERIES!

Yes, folks, the Red Sox have swept the World Series, defeating the Rockies in 4 games (13-1, 2-1, 10-5, and 4-3) and proving once and for all the 2004 season was not just a fluke. The Curse of the Bambino has expired!

I was a little worried when Cleveland had them down 3-1 in the playoffs, but gosh darn it, the Sox came back strong, just like the 2004 playoffs against the Yankees (Man, I LOVED that one! But I don’t want to seem like I am lording it over any Yankees fans that might be reading).

Anyhoo, for all those who share in my joy, Rejoice! For all those who do not…neener neener neener. ;) (c'mon...I'm just kidding....put down the billy clubs, ok?)

OK, I am done. I just had to write something about it this morning, though.

*sniff* I’m just so proud of those boys.

See Y’all!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

This, however, was not cool at all. WARNING: Rant ahead...and lots of self pity...

This is getting very frustrating. I received this rejection this morning (CC'd to my agent):

“Dear Mr. McAfee;

I'm sorry to inform you that I've come to a difficult decision. I do believe your novel is fresh, engaging and well-written. Unfortunately, I believe it's unusual enough that it may be difficult to find its audience. Since our company is so young, I don't believe we currently have that audience, and I'm not convinced we can do your work justice.

I hope you find a home for it, one that will have the wherewithal to pull out all the stops and promote it as it deserves.

My sincere best wishes;

XXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXX Press”

Ok, so here is the scorecard thus far.

PUBS WHO THOUGHT IT WAS WELL WRITTEN:
Too Controversial: 2
Time period a difficult sell: 1
Too “Blatantly Christian” (huh? Christian? News to me): 1
Well written, engaging, unique, but no place for it at this time: 1
Well written, fresh, and engaging, but too unusual: 1

PUBS WHO THOUGHT IT WAS NOT WELL WRITTEN:
Unique idea, but vague, hard to follow: 1

The one common theme among them all (aside from the rejection factor) is that every last one commented on the originality of the idea and how well written it was (except for that one, but even he commented on the uniqueness of the premise). So…basically I have a well written, engaging, fresh, unique and original story that…no one wants?

I thought that’s what publishers were looking for.

GRRRRRR…just…I mean…it’s…aigh! Sputter sputter sputter…

Okay, rant over. I’m just frustrated this morning. This was not a great way to start my day. I’ll be OK, though. Just need a donut or something.

At least the Red Sox won last night.

Monday, October 22, 2007

This Was Sooooooo Cool....

I was in Target today looking for a CD. I happened to pass the Books section and as I was poking around I found a pleasant surprise. On the shelf were two hard cover copies of a charming book called Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, by the lovely and oh-so-talented Adrienne Kress.

Now, Adrienne is a member over at Absolute Write, and she is an all around nice person who has been very sharing of her experiences with getting her debut novel published. Gosh, I almost feel like I know her. It was thrilling for me to see her work represented on a shelf, aspecially at Target, where shelf space is very limited. Doggone it, it made my day. :)

I got the same thrill when I saw Lottery, by Patricia Wood on the shelf of my local Waldenbooks. Part of it (the unselfish part) is that I am so incredibly happy for them both, but part (the more self-serving part), is pleased to see that, no matter how hard it may seem at times, it can be done. First time authors can be published, and they can do well. The dream, with a mountain of effort and a modicum of luck, can be attained.

I've read both Alex and the Ironic Gentleman and Lottery, and they are incredible. And having traded emails with Adrienne and Pat, I can honestly say they are both lovely people.

So...you may be asking what this has to do with seeing their work on the shelf. The answer is it doesn't, I just felt like telling y'all about the sighting and the post sorta evolved into a praise post for Adrienne and Pat. Not that they need my help, but I'm always happy to spout about 'em. :)

Anyhoo, if you haven't read those two books yet, what are you waiting for? Go. Read 'em. Then come back and we'll talk about 'em. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Shoo!

See Y'all!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

It's Late...

It is 1:54AM Monday morning and my wife and I just got back from Rochester, NY, where we attended a wedding. Since I was on the road all day, I missed something important. So I turned on the comp as soon as I got in and looked up what I needed to know. Now I just want to say GO SOX!!!

Woohoo!! Bean Town is goin' to the World Series against the Colorado Rockies!

Ok, now...my day having been made, I am off to bed.

G'nite, y'all!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Ok, So I Got Tagged

All right...I don't usually go for memes, and I tend to stay out of the tagging activities, but I couldn't say no to this one. A) It's the first time I've ever been tagged directly, and B) the tagger is my friend Mike, from Avatar Lore. Mike's a nice guy, and this tag looked fun, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Here is Mike's decription of the meme (hopefully he won't mind my copying it and pasting it here):

"The rules are to describe your own fantasy monster in a well-written paragraph, just as it would appear in a story. It can be from a story you've already written, one in the works, or an idea you have for a future project. And don't forget to link back to this post, of course!"

OK, so I just happen to have a monster I can share. they are called Lost Ones. This description is abridged because I wrote it three years ago when I first started getting serious about writing. Ovbiously, the writing is tighter than it used to be. I had 3 paragraphs on it, but since the rules state "a" paragraph, I left one off and condensed the other two. :)


"The creature, humanoid in shape, stood a man’s height and wore a wispy, tattered black robe. Dusty and completely worn through in places, the garment enabled me to see the horror of what lay underneath. It had been human once, I could tell that much from what was left of its face, but I could not determine if it had been male or female. All that remained of its features were bits of discolored, rotting flesh that clung to the skull like lichen. The fleshy deposits played home to a myriad of insects in varying larval stages. The maggoty things were so numerous, as they slithered and squirmed about in their decaying abode the flesh in which they lived seemed to move, wriggling and crawling as though the rotted remains of muscle and skin were themselves alive. As I watched, a large green grub poked it’s head through what was left of the creature’s right cheek, emerging into the dim light of the corridor with a soft, sticky smack, and loped northward into the gaping empty hole that had once housed an eye. As it moved it left behind a trail of filmy, whitish goo, like a disgusting version of the breadcrumbs Hansel and Gretel had used to mark their way through the woods. Like the breadcrumbs, this trail, too, was devoured almost instantly. Not by birds, of course, but by the many tiny creatures crawling about in their macabre city."


Anyhoo, I've never done one of these tag things before, so I'm going to take it easy on this one. I'm only gonna tag one person. I bet she is shaking in her boots right now (or house shoes, or sneakers, or whatever), because she's gotta know who she is already. :)

Aprilynne, yer it! Hehe.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I'm Spidey!!! WooHoo! (He's My Favorite)

You Are Spider-Man

Quick and agile, you have killer instincts (literally).
And that kind of makes up for the whole creepy spider thing.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

What Do You Think? Does This Make Me A Horrible Person?

I have a philosophy when it comes to charitable donations; I will not give my money to any group or cause that serves a particular group of people and no other UNLESS the issue itself is inherently specific to a particular demographic.

For example, I gladly donate to Breast Cancer Research even though the primary beneficiaries are women BECAUSE women are the primary victims of Breast Cancer. I would NOT donate to a charity that only helped white/black/asian/latino women who are afflicted with breast cancer because I think ALL victims of this devastating illness need and deserve help, and said help should not be meted out on the basis of race. Make sense?

‘nuther example: a childhood friend of mine died of Sickle Cell Anemia, and I would (and have) gladly donated to research for that ailment, as well. Now, Sickle Cell most often afflicts blacks (or so I am told), so I would feel comfortable knowing that all my money went to a group that helps one race more than another, because that’s the way the disease works. BUT I would not donate to, say, any fund that was designed to fight lung cancer in EXCLUSIVELY black men, because white/asian/latino men and black/white/asian/latino women get lung cancer, too, and they are no less important than my father, who died of lung cancer, was.

Does that make sense?

OK, so…

There I was at a local outlet buying a shirt. The lady behind the counter asked me if I wanted to donate $1 to the Women’s Heart Disease Fund (note: the title of the charity might be off, but the purpose of the donation was to aid in eliminating heart disease in women). I asked her if any men would benefit from my donation and she said no and reminded me that it was a WOMEN’S Heart Disease fund.

I told her I would not donate to any such group because men have heart disease, too, and men are no less important to the fabric of our society than women. She gave me a very dirty look, mumbled something under her breath that I didn’t catch, and tossed my receipt at me. Literally, she didn’t hand it to me, but tossed it to the other side of the counter. I was shocked. I mean, I thought I made a valid point.

Is it because I am a white male? Is that why such charities seem wrong to me? I honestly don’t hate any group of people or wish ill on anyone, I just think that all people should be treated equally, and that includes recipients of charitable donations.

Also, along similar lines, I can’t help wondering why we have Breast Cancer Awareness Month but not…say…Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, or Testicular Cancer Awareness Month. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing, repeat, NOTHING against raising awareness of breast cancer or funding research to cure it, and I donate to those causes (sporadically, I admit), but having lost loved ones to prostate cancer I can’t see how it would be any less or any more devastating simply because of where the tumor is located and the gender of the afflicted person. If I am wrong, and there IS a Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, please feel free to straighten me out.


So what do y’all think? Am I a bad person? Feel free to tell me I am a jerk if you want.

See Y'all!

Monday, October 15, 2007

For Those Who Don't Know...

...tomorrow is National Boss's Day.

Get those kiss-up gifts ready, y'all. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How Low Can A Writer Go?

This sort of thing amazes me.

I may have mentioned earlier about my past cartooning endeavors. During that time of my life I was priveledged to meet and speak with several professional cartoonists. This man was a hero to many, and a legend whose warm, fuzzy strip lives on today. In AW alone there is a smiley icon called a Dancing Snoopy.

Sorry, but in my personal opinion, this particular writer has sunk very, very low in pursuit of sensationalism. Not as bad as the whole If I Did It scenario, but not even remotely acceptable.

I will not buy this book, and if I happen to see a copy in my local library, I plan to spit on it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

2 Blog Entries In One Day? Am I Smoking Crack?

I just wanted to say that I am seriously giving myself the creeps.

My WIP is keeping me up nights, and I don't mean because I am excited and thinking up ideas (although that is also true), but because what happened to one of the people in my book actually scared me.

My Brain is Blue

Much like Jim Carrey's pen in Liar, Liar, my brain is blue.

Hey, that's my wife's favorite color. Coincidence? Hmmm...

Ah, the mysteries of cyberspace...

Your Brain is Blue

Of all the brain types, yours is the most mellow.
You tend to be in a meditative state most of the time. You don't try to think away your troubles.
Your thoughts are realistic, fresh, and honest. You truly see things as how they are.

You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about your friends, your surroundings, and your life.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Stupid Questions at Work

Do you ever encounter someone who asks you a goofy question and you just want to go all Bill Engvall on them and hand them a sign? You know, one that says “I am a moron” on it? I know, sometimes people speak before they think, and it’s a common enough trait in the human species, but as the below stories will illustrate, sometimes we make it too darn easy to pick on ourselves.


Story 1:

I have a motorcycle. I am the only person in my building who owns one, let alone drives it to work. Every one of our 300 or so employees knows the bike by sight, as it’s fairly common to see it parked by the front door during the warmer months. I have special permission to park it there, granted by the VP herself, in order to save a parking space for someone else (parking is an issue where I work). This means the bike is visible from the front desk.

A few months ago I was walking by the front desk and the receptionist (who is a friend of mine, albeit elderly and slightly senile), sees me walking by, looks at the bike, then looks at me, and asks “Oh, did you ride your motorcycle today?”

I couldn’t help myself. I said “No, the darn thing followed me to work. I can never get it to stay home.”


Story 2:

On my desk is a small plank of wood. On said plank, the words “I love my dad” are carved, painted several different colors, and surrounded by little splashes of color. My daughter made this for me while she was at camp two summers ago and gave it to me as a Father’s Day present. It is very obviously something a child would make, which diminishes its value not one iota.

One day a coworker (‘nuther friend) walked by my desk and looked at this plank. She read it aloud “I love my dad,” and followed that up with “Did your kid make that for you?”

I shook my head and said “No, my wife made it.” Then I winked and added, in as lecherous a tone as I could manage and still keep a straight face, “she calls me Daddy.”


Story 3:

Motorcycle story(ies) again.

I was walking through the building on my way to the time clock. I was headed out for lunch with my helmet in my hand. Halfway there another friend of mine looks at the helmet, then asks me “Did you ride your bike today?”

I laughed and said “No. I like to carry the helmet around wherever I go because it makes me feel all manly.”

She did hit me, in case any of y’all are wondering, but I just couldn’t help myself.

Then, about a week later, going out the front door on my way to lunch yet again (and again, helmet in my hand), the receptionist did the same thing. “Did you ride your bike today?” Since she’d already been bitten by the snide bug, I let that one slide, but it took A LOT of willpower.


‘K, that’s enough for now. Especially since I am at work and supposed to be (cough cough) working.

Do you have any stories like this? Do ya? C’mon, we all must. Share with the group, folks.

See Y’all!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

One down and four to go

Well, folks. As some of you know, my story has been with several editors, some longer than others. All of them requested the manuscript, so that's a good sign, right? The only thing that sucks about having a manuscript out with a bunch of editors is the waiting, which I have blogged about before. It can be hard, mostly because, at this stage of the game, you are just soo...darn...close.

Well, today there is one less publisher for which I am waiting. I got an email from one of the pubs which said they thought the story was "very well written," "thought-provoking," and "very well received" (all three of those lines are direct quotes). However, they did not "have a place for it at this time." (another direct quote) I received this email first thing this morning. I turned on my compter, checked my email, and the first thing I saw was their reply. It kinda set the tone for the whole day, which I knew then and there would be completely unredeemable.

I posted about this here, and I got a few sympathetic replies. Call me crazy, but I like to hear nice things when I am feeling bummed. I dunno why. But the gist of the responses I received seemed to be that, as far as rejections go, that's definitely one of the better ones to get.

While I can certainly understand this point of view, it does not change the fact that a no is a no, regardless of how nicely it is phrased. So I do not actually feel warm and fuzzy thinking about how they liked the book, but just couldn't publish it. Instead, what I tend to concentrate on is how, despite the fact they liked the book, they didn't like it enough.

Which is a statement that, no matter how nicely it is phrased, still merits a strong Jim Beam and Coke before going to bed tonight.

On the plus side, it is a good rejection, and there are still four publishers out there looking over the full manuscript. I remain optimistic that someone will like it enough to put it on a shelf. Then again, I have to remain that optimistic, don't I? Otherwise, why would I write?

Ah, me. Sometimes a little Jim Beam goes a loooong way. Sometimes a little more Jim Beam goes even farther. And hey, sometimes, after a liiiiiittle too much Jim Beam, I start typing stuff I can't even read myself the next morning. Can you guess which one of those is happening right now? (Hint...I won't be turning on the computer before I leave for work tomorrow).

Well, poop. I think I hear my bottle calling me. G'night, folks!

See Y'all!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Perspective is Important

Read this post by Moonrat. Seriously. This should be required reading for any aspiring author.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

This Is Amusing

What, oh what to do with Barry's 756th Homerun Ball?



This oughhta be good.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Today I Am Still Sad

My friend Aprilynne Pike said it far better in this post than I ever could.

I have tried. I have sat here now for an hour trying to type something beautiful and meaningful on this topic, and for the life of me I just can't find the right words.

That is a terrible thing for an aspiring writer to admit, I know, but if I am nothing else I am least honest about my own limitations. Which is I guess what was so wonderful about the three who have recently passed. Did they know their limitations? Hell, did they even have any limitations?

I don't know. And neither does anyone who listened to Pavarotti or read l'Engle or Jordan. Because if they did have limitations, they didn't show. The talent, the skill with which they performed their respective crafts left little room in the minds of those who enjoyed them that there was nothing these three people could not do.

I can't imagine what it must be like to be that talented, that brilliant. Alas...

In my mind I see this as a move toward sunset, and now the world is just a little darker for their passing.

Rest In Peace Robert Jordan, Madeleine l'Engle, and Luciano Pavarotti. You may be gone, but your work will remain here, among those mere mortals you inspired, your gifts to antiquity.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Bloggin' Buds

Howdy, Howdy, Howdy! For those not familiar with Gary Larson (or not familiar enough), that's from one of his cartoons; one of my personal favorites, actually. If I had anything worth giving away I'd host a contest. Y'all would have to tell me which cartoon that tag is in.

But, since I'm just a poor, starving, unpub, I'll just skip all that and get to the point. I have a nice little circle of folks who come by and say Howdy every now and then, and I'd like to take a moment to plug them all in my blog. They are all listed to the right, but I wanna introduce them, anyway. It's pointless, it's useless, it's a time filler, and it's cheesy and sentimental. Gosh darn it, that's just the kind guy I am.

Ready? Ok, here goes:

Aprilynne Pike is a friend of mine from Absolute Write. She's a writer of High Fantasy and YA, and is represented by none other than Jodi Reamer of Writer's House. She also loves her kids and hubby, her friends, writing, and kumquats (and Quatlimes or Citriquats...I'm still working on the name).

Patricia Wood is the author of Lottery, which is easily my favorite book of the year. See my review here. She is going to be so incredibly big in the very near future that I am going to call her and ask if she'll loan me ten bucks, even though I won't actually need it. She also happens to be an extremely nice person, and I feel priviledged to know her, even if it is only in cyberspace.

Adrienne Kress is the author of the middle grade book Alex and the Ironic Gentleman (or Alex and the Wigpowder Treasure, for those of you not in the US). I have read the book, and it's charming, witty, cute, very entertaining, and a joy...much like Adrienne herself. I owe her a review, but lazy old me still hasn't written it yet. I'll do it, Adrienne, I promise.

Chris Stevenson, aka triceratops in Absolute Write, is the author of Word Wars and a soon to be HUGE book that I can't mention. But if I could, I would, and then y'all would all be like "Guh...get outta here. You know that guy?" I do, and I am very proud of the fact. Chris is my Numero Uno bestest writing bud, and I wish him all the success in the world (no matter how envious I am).

John Elder Robison is the author of Look Me In The Eye: My Life With Asperger's, which, of course, is his memoir about growing up Aspergian. Now, I have not read this book, but I have ordered it through Amazon and I am very much looking forward to the read. But the appeal of John's blog is that he talks about many things, including small business issues, the publication process, the stigma and misconceptions of Asperger's, and many other interesting topics. Plus he's a pretty nice guy, so any of y'all that haven't gone to his site yet oughtta make plans ta do so.

Moonrat, aka the Editorial Ass, is a new addition to the lineup over there on the right hand side of I Have A Blog? She's an Editorial Assistant who blogs anonymously (can you blame her?). I love getting this perspective, and she has helped me with questions I have had about the publication process. Not only that, but you can tell reading her entries that she'd be fun to hang around with, as long as Robert wasn't around.

EDIT: I have been corrected. Robert is apparently quite fun and likes to pay for squid. :)

Dawn Rotarangi, the Kiwi. Author of Ripples on the Lake and also a calf-rearer extraodinaire. I'm not exactly sure how she found my li'l blog, but she did, and she even left a comment! Woo! I think she was actually one of the first to do so. Fun fun. I love the stories she tells about rearing calves and doing radio interviews. She's just fun to read (except for that post about Noddy...that was a real downer).

Michael Southard. You know, I don't really know much about Michael, but he seems like a nice guy and I visit his blog often, even though he hasn't updated in in...uh...what year is this, again? Anyway, I like him, so I'm going to include him on here. Hi Mike!

Thomma Lyn. I absolutely adore the name of her blog. I mean, Tennesee Text Wrestling? How can you not love that? Dawn is the author of Thy Eternal Summer, and she is also the one who introduced me to the Thursday Thirteen meme. Now, I still haven't signed up for it (lazy, remember?) and I still dunno what a "meme" is, but TTW is one of my favorite blogs to visit. One of these days I am going to sneak out there and surprise her. I think she lives about 5 feet from my house. :) Ok, maybe a little farther.

Lady Bronco writes the Frustrated Author blog. If there's a concept I can dig, it's that of a frustrated author. Seriously, how many people reading this can't relate? I thought her post today was hilarious. :) Hip Hop Community in Colorado Springs? The game of tag banned? Huh? What kinda crack they got over there in CO, anyway?

Tyhitia Green is slacking lately. She hasn't put up a new post on Obfuscation of Reality since 8/31/07. Ok, ok, so that's not that bad. I've gone much longer, but I just wanted to pick on her because I'm a jerk like that. :) I have also just realized that, of the above mentioned blogs, hers is the only one I don't link to over there to the right. I'll have ta fix that (if she ever puts anything else on her blog...kidding, kidding OW!)

Ok, ok, I think that's enough for now. See how shmoozy this whole post reads? That's me shmoozing, 'cause I'm a shmoozer. Doesn't that just warm the cockles of your heart? That was my intention, or maybe I just like the word shmooze...and cockles. Yeah, that's it. They are fun to say.

Cockles cockles cockles. Shmooze shmooze shmooze. Hey, I could call it networking...but that's not as quirky.

Y'know...I just reminded myself of that movie Hocus Pocus, specifically the part where Sara Jessica Parker's character is jumping up and down like a ding dong and saying "Amok amok amok amok."

In any case, hope y'all enjoy the free plugs. I kinda think the whole thing is pretty silly since most of the people who visit my li'l blog come from one of the sites listed above anyway, but hey, like I said before...pointless is who I am. :)

See Y'all!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

What Do I Want To Blog About Today?

That’s a tough question to answer. For me, anyway. You see, I am lazy. I admit it. I don’t cook if I can help it, I’m ok with taking the trash out the morning of trash day instead of the night before, I used to live and die by the snooze button (although that problem has been solved by a trio of canines that refuse to allow me an extra nine minutes of not taking them for their morning walk).

Still, in spite of this sluggish personality, I do try to put at least one post per week on this old blog o’ mine. Some bloggers, like moonrat, put two, three, or even more posts up in a single day. How the heck do they do that? I dunno. Inspiration strikes some folks more than others, I suppose.

When it comes down to it, the lengthy spans between my posts are more to do with lack of anything constructive to say than any issues of laziness. While I have been known to write about things that happened to me or even how I feel on a given day, normally I try to put something in here with a little more depth. Let’s face it, y’all don’t want to read about my day if I haven’t had something exciting happen. Anyone who did visit would probably stop doing so after one or two posts that started with “Today I noticed my toilet paper is really more of an eggshell white than an ivory.”

You guys wouldn’t care, and I kinda like y’all, so I gotta think of something that’ll make you come back and see me again. Both of you. I never wanted this to be a blog about David McAfee, where anyone who wanted to peek might catch a glimpse of my daily life. Rather, I wanted this to be a blog by David McAfee, in which I could wax philosophically about anything and everything and hopefully learn a thing or two about some other folks when they came to visit. While I do, in my other blog, My Red Z, talk about my car, that blog is easy. When I do any maintenance or have any gripes (neither of which has happened yet), those entries will write themselves. They are no-brainers. Which is good, because that’s a no-brainer blog.

But what about the times when I want to actually say something. Know what I mean? So in that vein, today’s topic of discussion is going to be (drumroll, please)…blog posts!

Ha!

You guys thought I was going to say Kool Aid or Kumquats or something silly like that, didn’t you. Well, as silliness is in my nature, I can’t blame you. But before I get derailed and hop onto the Tangent Bus (as we all know I am prone to do), I want to let you all in on my secret to coming up with meaningful blog topics.

I don’t have one.

Actually, the argument could be made that I don’t have a meaningful blog topic, either, but as that’s another tangent, I’ll stop right there.

The truth is I will think about something I want to say, and unfortunately, this most often stems from my experience, which is why so many posts have that “I am David McAfee, read about my life” feel to them. Hey, even this one does. Crap. Sorry ‘bout that. But I am not going back to retype all this (see the first sentence of this post…the one that begins with “I am…”).

Ok, so what I’d like to know is, how do you, my fellow blogomites, come up with a topic to discuss? What inspires you? I know I have read several posts on Aprilynne’s blog about the success of her friends, which is commendable. And John Elder Robison continues to educate readers on the nature of Aspergers, which (I am almost ashamed to admit) I had always equated with Autism. But even they have the occasional “A Day In My Life” posts.

How about the rest of y’all? How do you decide what to talk about? Hmmmm?

Oh, by the way…

Kumquat.

hehe.

I just couldn’t resist.

See Y’all!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Waiting

My, oh my...we love waiting, don't we?

What do you mean, no? Of course we love waiting! We must, we aspiring novelists. It's all we do sometimes.

What? Write another book?

Well, if you insist.

Actually, I have discovered that writing another book does not, in fact, cure the Waiting-To-Hear-From-The-Editor Blues. It does, however, make the wait easier to bear by keeping your mind somewhere else for a while. Let's face it, when you have you manuscript with the editor for the Publishing House of the Rich and Famous, there's only so much you can do before your mind wanders back to that mental image so many of us have: the stack of papers on the editor's desk, with your poor, defensless manuscript somewhere in the pile. The editor sits there at his or her desk, a nice, red REJECTION stamp at the ready. Only air separates that editor's hand from the stamp, and only air separates that stamp from you precious manuscript.

Of course, there are different variations. Sometimes the REJECTION stamp has a mouth filled with teeth, and it's literally drooling all over your manuscript in delicious anticipation of the stamping orgy to come. In this particular piece of demetia, I often hear the REJECTION stamp screaming "Reject! Reject!" over and over while it covers my work with liters and liters of red ink. It brings to mind the restaurant scene in When Harry Met Sally. The sheer ecstasy of the stamp as it bellows "Reject!" visible in the twisted, passionate grin on its face. So many...er...somethings (what is red ink made of, anyway?)...wasted just to stamp on my poor little story and send some extra dough to those downtrodden ER doctors as they try to revive me. But hey, ER doctors have to eat, too. Right?

Ok, so maybe that's just me (I get that a lot). I'm sure editors don't really have a bright red REJECTION stamp. Or do they? Anyone know?

Damn, I got off point again. Where was I?

Oh, yeah...waiting. It sucks, doesn't it? The uncertainty of it all. Sometimes I wonder why we put up with it.

What? What do you mean we have to? The editors are only human and can only go through so many submissions before they finally crack and come to work packing heat in the form of bologna sandwiches and mustard? That's pretty bad. Not the "editors are people" part, the "bologna sandwiches and mustard" part. I can't believe I wrote that. Oh, well. I'm way to lazy to go back and delete it. I'll leave it as it is and hope y'all chalk it up to nerves.

My friend Aprilynne had me beat a while back when it came to waiting. She was waiting for a lot more editors than I was, and she was also waiting on a baby. For any guys who might be reading this; trust me, pregnancy beats anything you can throw at a woman in an "Oh, yeah? Well I..." contest.


EXAMPLE:

Pregnant Woman: My back hurts.

Unsympathetic Male: I got hit by a bus yesterday. It broke five ribs, both femurs, three vertebrae, gave me a concussion, and ruined my new jeans. The doctor said I might be in this wheelchair for years before my spine is healed enough for me to walk again.

Pregnant Woman: Oh, yeah? Wait until YOU are pregnant, then you can talk to me about pain.

Much-Chagrined, Formerly Unsympathetic Male: You're right. I'm sorry. Please put the knife down.


OK, ok. We all know that was a joke. You can ALL put the knives down, now. Ok? Please?

Good.

Anyway, where was I? Dammit. I went off on a tangent again. I gotta lay off the espresso. That stuf'll kill ya!

Waiting. Yes, waiting. that is where I am, and that is where I will stay. Well, not literally. I meant the conversation will stay on waiting. As the topic. Waiting will be the topic of the conversation....oh, never mind.

The point is I am waitng on editorial decision from four editors for two separate books. It sucks now, but there IS a light at the end of the tunnel. Sooner or later my waiting will be over. I'll hear a yes, or a no, and that'll be the end of that.

Well, actually, if it's a yes, I guess I'll still be waiting. Waiting for the edits. Waiting for the Galleys. Waiting for the ARCS, then the reviews, then the release date, then the royalties, then more reviews...ad infinitum.

Come to think of it, I guess that just proves my first point (how dare you argue with me and cause me to make an idiot of myself...shame on you!). We really must love waiting. Otherwise, why would we bother writing?

The writer's life: Hurry up and wait.

'tis true.

See Y'all!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Compliments… and that other, less-marvelous thing.

We live for compliments, don’t we? As people, we love it when someone says “You look nice today,” or “That was a good idea.” It’s human nature to enjoy the knowledge that someone else sees you in a positive light. More so, as writers, our world always gets a little brighter when someone says to us “Hey, that was great,” or “I really liked the part where so-and-so…” These are great coming from anybody. Family, betas, etc. But they are especially wonderful when they come from people within the industry. Like when an agent says you are a very good writer, or an editor says you have a very interesting premise. I dunno about y’all, but when I hear things like that it tends to give me a morale boost, and during the ugly (for most of us) submissions process, any boost in morale is always appreciated.

On the other side of the coin, a single negative comment can ruin a whole day’s worth of compliments. A writer’s morale can drop to new lows whenever someone says “Sorry, this story just isn’t right for us.” Ouch. That stings. We all know how that feels, right? And it’s hard not to take those rejections personally.

But aside from closing a market for a single project, what is the publisher saying? They didn’t compliment you, so it really must be an insult or slight, right? Wrong.

Think of it as a new shirt. You are proud of your new shirt. You liked it, that’s why you bought it. So you wear your new shirt to work. Four coworkers tell you they love it. One tells you it’s not bad, but not something they would wear. Another coworker tells you your new shirt is so hideous she wouldn’t use it to wipe her bottom.

Unfortunately, most of us are wired so that we would pay more attention to the negative comment than the positive, which is a shame because negative comments are not always personal. Like the person who said the shirt wasn’t right for them. She wasn’t saying she didn’t like you, just your shirt. “We can still be friends. Just don’t expect me to like your shirt.”

The coworker who wouldn’t use your new shirt to wipe her bum? Well, it’s likely she’s either having a very bad day or she isn’t someone you’d want to associate with, anyway.

Most publisher rejections fall into “We can still be friends…” category. That’s all they are saying. Not “We hate your story and by extension, you,” but “This story isn’t quite for us. Let us know when you have something else.”

So when those rejections come (and unless you are a one-in-a-billion phenomenon of the writing world, they do come), remember it’s NOT personal. It’s more like getting a game piece from a Coke bottle that says “Sorry, please try again.” Disappointing? Yes. Personal? Nope.

But compliments? Heck, take those any way you want to. Chances are you earned ‘em.

See Y’all!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

LOTTERY IS NOW AVAILABLE!

Ok, folks. remember a while back when I did a review for Patricia Wood's Lottery? Well, the day has finally arrived and it is now available. What does this mean to you?

It means you should go out and buy a copy, silly! No, buy two! Heck, buy half a dozen and finish your Christmas shopping early!

Why are you still reading this? Go, already! Shoo! :)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Happy Birfday To Me

Yup. Today is my birthday. Yay me. I am 34 years old today (emphasis on the old).

What, you might be wondering, are my plans for this auspicious occasion? After all, 'tisn't every day one turns 34, is it? Well I'm glad you asked, even if you didn't ask, which is quite probably the case since I, in fact, am the one who asked. But since I meant the question to be from you, I am going to proceed as if you asked it, and not me.

Does that make sense?

I hope not.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. My plans for the evening. Drinking? dancing? Writing? Enjoying myself?

Those all sound like good things to do on one's birthday. And since I am 34 and not, say, 17, I could do any one of them (except dancing...unless, of course, the dance in question is the "Funky White Guy Flopping Around Like A Trout On A Riverbank" dance. That one I can do). But if you guessed any of those, you would be wrong wrong wrong.

This year, I will be spending my birtday behind the wheel of my wife's Kia as we journey to Maine for our vacation. Now, I like being in Maine, and I like hanging out with the folks there and having an all around good time.

But the drive SUX. Yup, I spelled that with an X. I think I hear my old Spelling teacher rolling over in his grave, which I imagine must be unpleasant for him since he is still alive, but I digress.

Anyway, since I will be in the land of Green Pine Trees and Lotsa Lobstah, I will probably not be spending a great deal of time in cyberspace. So if y'all don't see me for a little bit, it's not because I'm down or being lazy, it's because I'm not home. :)

Talk to y'all later!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thirteen People I Would Loooooooove To Meet Someday

Ok, I like the Thursday Thirteen meme (whatever a meme is), but I hate trying to come up with thirteen new things every week that someone other than me might find interesting. So I only post one occasionally, and I’m still not actually signed up with it. That’s OK, I’m too lazy, anyway. Today I am going to post about thirteen people I would love to meet.

The following list of people excludes some obvious choices like Pat, Adrienne, Chris, Aprilynne, Dawn, Thomma Lyn, etc. I think it stands to reason it would be cool to meet all those folks, so I’m going to leave this list to people who, one way or another, have had an effect on my life growing up (or ‘kinda’ growing up, since I still don’t think I have).

Thirteen people I would love to meet:

1. Morgan Freeman – Morgan Freeman has been at the very top of my list of favorite actors for as long as I can remember. I won’t say I’ve seen all his movies, but definitely most of them. I thought his performance in The Shawshank Redemption was incredible.

2. Ed Norton – Can you blame me? The man is a phenomenal actor. I’ve never seen him do a bad job in any movie. (On another note, Leonardo DiCaprio is another favorite, and extremely talented actor, and he would be on this list too if I’d known who he was when I was a kid).

3. Bill Watterson – Remember him? He created Calvin and Hobbes, easily one of the best comic strips of all time. His artwork inspired me to do better with my own. It was a sad, sad day when he decided to retire. I was bummed for a year.

4. Gary Larson - The Far Side cartoonist. His artwork showed me you don’t have to be able to draw like Bill Watterson to have a funny and successful comic strip. As you may or may not know, I also dabble in cartooning, and got used to being rejected when I tried to break into the newspaper page. I still doodle all the time, but my biggest success was a small newsletter in Georgia that gave me a position as staff cartoonist. In any case, that’s why there are three cartoonists on this list.

5. Jim Carrey – C’mon, who wouldn’t want to meet Jim and see if he’s as funny in real life as he is on camera?

6. Will Farrell – See the stuff I said about Jim Carrey? Copy and paste it here.

7. Stephen King – ‘Nuff said, methinks.

8. Margaret Weis – My favorite fantasy authors of all time are Marageret Weis and #9 on the list.

9. Tracey Hickman – Together with Weis, Hickman created and coauthored my favorite fantasy series, The Death Gate Cycle. If you have not read it, you should. Haplo and Alfred’s stories helped shape my desire to write.

10. Helen Hunt – I have had an insane crush on Helen Hunt ever since I was a teenager.

11. Matt Groening - Simpsons creator Matt Groening has turned a poorly drawn family (at least it was poorly drawn back in ‘88) into an American Icon. The Simpsons are my favorite show. Bar none. You can watch Lost, Heroes, and Scrubs all you want, I’ll take a dose of D’oh anyday.

12. Berkley Breathed – My favorite cartoonist of all time and the only one who’s autograph I have ever sought (and received. Thank You, Mr. Breathed). From Bloom County to Outland to the resurrected Opus, I have been a fan of Breathed’s humor and art since before I could read the words that were in the little balloons. He is my single biggest cartoon influence, and I’d love to meet him just to thank him for (along with my dad) instilling in me a desire to create.

13. Stan Lee – Spidey creator. ‘Nuff said.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Started Off Trying To Help Some Friends, And Got A Nice Surprise Of My Own

There is a small indy bookstore here in Knoxville, TN called Carpe Librum Books. While not very large, they are a very popular bookstore for people who would rather keep their money local than support the big chains. Nothing wrong with that, plus the place has a nice, cozy atmosphere. It feels like my library would feel if I had one. Homey.

So, I called there today with the intention of speaking to the manager about getting books for two of my friends on the shelf. I don't want to mention their names because I did not succeed. Suffice it to say that due to a lack of a returns policy (small press) I was unable to coerce the manager into stocking them.

That, of course, is not good news. It's sad news, because both books are great and written by great people. But what happened next was certainly good news.

On impulse, I asked them if they had ordered any copies of Lottery, by Patricia Wood. Not only had they not ordered any, but they hadn't a clue what I was talking about. I told them it was a Putnam release, and gave them a brief description of it. She seemed interested, so I took my ARC of Lottery to the store and let her look at it.

She read the back copy, looked over the cover, and took a few minutes reading the first few pages. Then she wrote down the ISBN number and added several copies to her Penguin/Putnam order while I stood there with a big grin on my face. Pat is an awesome person and if I could help at all, it was worth it.

I was rewarded on my way out by a small wicker basket I'd never noticed before. Inside this basket were books that, for one reason or another, the store could not sell, so they were giving them away for free.

Do you see where this is going?

Lots of ARCs were in that basket. :) For a recent ARC collector like myself, it was a treasure chest of uncorrected proofs. I dipped my greedy fingers into the pile and started pulling out books, smiling the whole time. I wanted to take them all, but instead I only grabbed three (my wife grabbed one, too): R.A. Salvatore's Road of the Patriarch, John Ringo's A Deeper Blue, and Steven Eriks' Deadhouse Gates.

All in all, definitely worth the trip. :) My only regret is that I didn't have Adrienne's book with me - I was caught reading it at work by a friend who demaded to be allowed to peruse it. She hasn't given it back yet, and I am starting to wonder if I will ever see it again.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Man, It Feels Good....

I haven't been writing much lately, I haven't felt like it. That's probably not the best way to begin a blog post, but I think y'all will forgive me just this once.

I'd like to use a tired old stand-by like "I haven't had the time" or "I haven't been able to think of something," but I'd be lying. The truth is I simply haven't felt motivated enough to write over the last few weeks. I had plenty of time. I had plenty of ideas to put on paper. I kept telling myself I'd write some tomorrow. Tomorrow. Then tomorrow again.

Tomorrow is a dangerous word. It's an even more dangerous concept. Before long, many tomorrows have come and gone and you find yourself wondering where you left off. It's a slow, lazy spiral of boredom and apathy, and it's very, very easy to fall into it. I easily could have gone another month or more without writing anything down except for the occasinal appearance in AW.

So what changed?

I got a few encouraging words. First, an author I enjoy gave me a blurb for my novel Chosen, which you can read here. That did my heart good, especially since I am so fond of Robinson's work.

Then, a friend of mine, Chris Stevenson (who himself recently sold two books to Rain Publishing from Canada - more on those later), sent me a nice email about the project I was working on when I got into my slump. It was a nice lift.

Then today I read a reply to one of my posts by Aprilynne Pike (see her blog here). It wasn't a huge message, and the part that got my attention was small. "Good to see you blogging again." You know, that little bit made my day. Not sure why. April is always quick with a congratulatory word for the smallest of accomplishments, and she's been waiting about a month longer than I have. She's an all-around nice person, and so are Pat, Adrienne, Thomma Lyn, Dawn, Chris, Michael, and about a dozen other folks who have visited and shared their experiences with me. Fantastic, giving people, and I consider myself very lucky they come here on occasion to visit.

Hell, I thought, if they didn't give up, neither will I.

So tonight, for the first time in six weeks, I found myself doing more at the comp than playing Unreal Tournament 2004 (which is still fun, even after 3 years). I hit the keys and managed to pound out 12 more pages in my current project, which is shaping up to be a breathless paranormal thriller. I am calling it Bait. For now, that's all I'm gonna say.

You know what? Writing felt good. I mean real good. Like one of those things you enjoy so much you can never figure out why you stopped doing it. Now I remember why I wanted to write for a living, because it's something that puts a smile on my face. It gives me a good feeling to piece together a story from an empty screen, and By Thunder, I'm gonna keep doing it.

And so, friends, this is me, happily tapping away at my keyboard again.

Thanks for listening, guys. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Here's one I just don't understand....

This one caught me off guard.

Got a fast (5 days) rejection from Wizards of the Coast. Part of it, he said, is the editor is really "gun shy" about vampire fiction. I can dig that. There’s a lot of it around (Of course, there’s a lot of it around because people keep buying it. Can anyone say Stephanie Meyer? How many copies of Twilight sold, again?). Still, one can’t argue with editorial opinion, it won’t do any good and just makes ya look…well, you know…not good. So, hey, he didn’t want it. S'okay. It happens. Rejection is part of the biz.

What really threw me was the first line from the rejection:

“I'm going to have to pass on 33AD - too overtly Christian for us, probably better for that marketplace.”

Ok, now at the risk of sounding like I’m full of sour grapes, this is proof-positive that this editor didn’t read much, if any, of the book before he rejected it. There’s nothing Christian about it. In fact, there are several die-hard Christians in my office who wouldn’t even finish the book’s description. There is no way; no way at all 33AD would make it into the Christian fiction marketplace. There’s not a single Christian editor who would touch it with a ten foot pole. Any more than the movie Dracula 2000 would be considered Christian (if you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t ruin it for you, but it links Dracula to Jesus).

Again, you can’t argue with editorial opinion, but sheeeesh.

Well, that’s 3 rejections so far. Berkley (too controversial), Del Rey (ditto), and Wizards of the Coast (too...Christian?).

Monday, June 18, 2007

My ARC Collection Grows With Adrienne Kress's Alex and the Ironic Gentleman (Ted, for short)

Got this in the mail today. Ain't it purty? I have to say, this is an extremely nice-looking ARC. Beautifully done. I can't wait to read it (which I am going to start doing tonight). Review to follow, of course. :)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Great Day for my Mailbox

Yesterday I came home from picking my daughter up to find a package on the coffee table.

"That's for you, Hon." My wife said.

"Who's it from?" I wasn't expecting anything. At least, not so soon.

"I dunno. Go look at it."

Genious. My wife is known for it.

So I take a look and lo and behold it's from Pat Wood. It's my ARC of Lottery. Woohoo!

True to her word, Pat signed the book and sent it back to me. I was expecting a "Thanks, David" type of thing but she sent a nice little note. :) I won't repeat it; it's my note, but I will say that Pat seems to suffer from the same lowercase Q malady as I do. I can never write one but that I don't write a lowercase G by mistake. It's a syndrome, I think. I have a Dr. looking into it.

Here is a (bad) pic of the ARC, taken on my dying Canon. I've never tried to post pics here before so let's hope this works.



Thank you so very, very much, Pat. I will treasure this ARC always. :)

Monday, June 11, 2007

I'm Baaaaa-aaaack.

Ok, folks, I am back. Where did I go? Nowhere. If anyone is wondering about the lengthy silence from yours truly, it’s due to two reasons:

1) There hasn’t been much to say, and
2) Been kinda down lately.

Why down? I dunno. Just one of those things. Book stuff, mostly (or lack thereof). Usually, when I get in a blue funk, I keep it to myself. I know, they say you shouldn’t do that, bottling up is bad, bad, bad. Oh, well. I’m Old School. Sue me (Disclaimer: please don’t actually sue me…it’s just an expression and all you’d get would be my childhood Hot Wheels collection). Of course, when I’m feeling like that I also don’t visit many places or talk to friends, which is usually how one pulls themselves out of such a state. Not me, though. I have to be different. Suffer in silence, that’s my motto (well, one of them).

In any case, I am pleased to be feeling somewhat better, even if I still can’t think of much to talk about. So since my own ideas are presently lacking, I thought I’d send y’all over to Adrienne Kress’s blog, the Temp, the Actress, and the Writer, (see the link at the right) where she is holding a contest to give away one of her ARCS (her book, Alex and the Ironic Gentleman, comes out in September). What is the contest, you ask? Why, to come up with a good contest, of course. Go Adrienne.

I like this idea because it’s fun, and it gives the contestants an opportunity to be creative. As a writer, I like those opportunities, even if I am not always in the best state of mind to take advantage of them. I submitted my idea, it’s in there amongst the many others. Lessee if the lovely and talented Ms. Kress likes it. Personally, I’d love to get that ARC (after Lottery, I think I’m an ARC addict). I wonder if Adrienne will follow Pat Wood’s lead and sign ARCs for fans…only one way to find out.

I gotta win that ARC.

Or, barring that, get one from somewhere else. You, yeah you, reading this…you don’t have one, do ya?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lottery, by Patricia Wood

Ok, folks out there in Blog O Land, I have finished Patricia Wood’s book, Lottery. In looking over some of the comments other people have made, I notice they are all trying to give you reasons why you should read this book. I figured why follow along, right? So, I’m going to let all those other folks follow the leader, while I do something completely different and give y'all 10 reasons why you shouldn’t read it.

Ready? Ok, here we go…

1. If you absolutely can’t stand pure, fluid, prose – you know the kind, it takes you from point A to point B without jarring you or making you go “huh?” along the way because you are trying to figure out what the author means – don’t read Lottery.

2. If you simply cannot abide an interesting, compelling story, the kind that makes you late coming back from breaks at work, don’t read Lottery.

3. If you hate having to take a book to work with you because you can’t make it through the day without reading as much of it as possible, don’t read Lottery.

4. If you think mentally challenged people are somehow less than human, don’t read Lottery.

5. If you absolutely hate it when a story touches you emotionally and makes you feel all gooey inside, don’t read Lottery.

6. If you eat your boogers, don’t read Lottery. Although if you wash your hands first so as not to sully the pages of this wonderful book with your slimy nose goblins, then reading Lottery is probably ok. But remember, boogers on fingers = no Lottery.

7. If you hate staying up until two am reading while your significant other dozes away and complains about the light while he/she is trying to sleep, don’t read Lottery.

8. If you are the type of person who does not like to smile and feel good inside (you know, like those Goth kids who hate everything about life even though they are fourteen years old and have it made?), don’t read Lottery.

9. If you think virtues like friendship, love, self-sacrifice, integrity, and honesty are outdated concepts that have no place in a world of glass and steel, investments and brokers, power and megalomania, then don’t read Lottery. Actually, come to think of it, people who meet this criteria are probably badly in need of a book like Lottery.

And finally...

10. If you are an aspiring author, and you think you might be close to entering that magical realm known as publication, and you also think this means your writing and your story are good, and the last thing you need is for someone else to show you just how far you have to go before you can consider yourself worthy, do not, for your own sake, read Lottery.

Ok, so much of the above list is half-joking. It was meant to be light-hearted and to let you know that you should, indeed, read Lottery. But number 10 is dead-on serious. I consider myself a good writer. I can put sentences together in an engaging manner and when other people read them they know what I am trying to say. My beta readers tell me I am a good writer. A dozen or so agents have told me I am a good writer (handwritten notes, too!). Two publishers have told me I am a good writer, even if they didn’t publish my work. Get my point? I can write, at least, I like to think so.

That illusion has been shattered by a very simple, very likeable narration of an incredible man, Perry L. Crandall, who just happens to have an IQ of 76. Someday I hope to hone my writing skills to a level close to that which is present in Lottery. Not only does this book deserve its place on the bookshelf, it deserves all the accolades it will receive in the coming year, and there will be many, I am sure.

As I finished the last page, all I could think was Bravo. Bravo, Patricia Wood, Bravo! If Perry were sitting there with you, he’d probably tell you that Bravo means I liked it a lot.

In case you can’t tell, he’d be right.

Monday, May 21, 2007

The In-Laws Are Coming! The In-Laws Are Coming! Oh, And A Review Of Scott Sigler's Ancestor

It’s been a busy weekend in McAfee Land. Tomorrow afternoon a plane carrying my wife’s folks will arrive here in Knoxville, and yours truly will be there to pick them up. Now, I get along very well with both of them, they are the kind of folks who get along with just about everyone. Great bunch o’ folks. But unfortunately, a visit from the in-laws means clean, clean, clean. That’s all we did this weekend; clean. Yech! It’s amazing how dirty a house can get when you aren’t looking. Sheesh. I never thought of myself or my wife as pigs, but….Oink!

Anyway, y’all don’t wanna hear about that. So, as promised, here is my review of Ancestor, by Scott Sigler.

First, this is a well thought out book. The story is good, and the plot moves along quite well. From a great opening (it’s also a very creepy opening) to the conclusion, the pacing of this novel is excellent. I can’t think of a single thing in the book that felt like an afterthought, or something that was simply inserted to fill up pages. Make no mistake; Scott Sigler is a good writer.

The science (for me) seemed a little fuzzy, and the explanations lacked the level of detail that, say, Michael Crichton would insert. This hurt the believability only a little, as it really isn’t that important to the plot IMO. I’m not as concerned with how the creatures got there as I am with the simple fact that they ARE there. And hungry. My God, those things could eat…but I get ahead of myself.

There really wasn’t a lot of character development, but you don’t really expect that in a book like this anyway. Thrillers, traditionally, are thin on character development and thick on plot. And Ancestor is no exception, although Sigler does a good job of making some characters likeable, and others not. Some of the character traits seemed a bit weird (one character had a strange habit of stabbing himself with a Ka Bar to clear his head), and Sigler liked to write the accents of a couple of them. I found this a little distracting but it might not bother anyone else. I’m kinda odd like that.

While I found the book very good, and will certainly recommend it, I think it could have benefited from a little more editing. The reason I say this is because there are several places where it seems a thesaurus would have been helpful. Repeated words (especially in the same paragraph) have a tendency to stand out to me, and there were a few such places in this book.

Now, on to the best part; The Critters. The “ancestors” are extremely well imagined and quite scary. To me, this is the reason I picked up Ancestor in the first place; to read about the critters, and this is where Scott Sigler excels. His concept is obviously alive and well inside his head, and he does an excellent job of bringing the things to life in print. I’ve already told y’all about the certain scene that gave me nightmares, and while that was the only scene that did, there’s still plenty of creep-factor left in this book. If you are the kind of person for whom the idea of being torn to bits by a bunch of hungry… er… somethings… is enough to keep you up at night, then do yourself a favor and read this one with the lights on.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Having Nightmares At 33 - Also, Lottery ARC Has Arrived!!!

Allow me to sound like a small child for a moment:

I had nightmares last night. Seriously. From a book, no less.

The last time I read a scene in a book that gave me nightmares was the group shooting scene in The Stand. In that scene, a group of black soldiers had captured a group of white soldiers, and they had their dogtags in a giant bingo/lottery wheel setup. They’d pick a dogtag at random, and call the victim down to be executed in front of everyone. It really was a chilling scene, and it has stayed with me all these years.

Before that, Crichton’s Jurassic Park gave me nightmares. I read that one as soon as it came out in paperback waaaay back in…91? 92? I don’t remember. I think I was 18. I kept dreaming about velociraptors in my bedroom, watching me, studying me, wanting to know as much as they could about me before they tore me to shreds. I dunno, there’s just something chilling about dying in such a way. Being eaten, I mean. You know it can’t be personal, but I think that’s the problem. Just nature. Cold, cruel, and crimson.

In any case, those two books are the only ones that have ever given me nightmares in my adult life. It’s hard to scare me with a book or movie because the entire time I know it isn’t real, and that’s where the amusement comes in. I’m 33, and I would have to say I have been reading adult fiction for about 23 years, ever since I picked up a book of my dad’s about some albino guy who rolled around and killed people. In all that time, only those two books have ever caused me to lose sleep.

Until last night.

I have to add a new book to my ultra-creepy list. Ancestor. Yup. Scott Sigler again. I am only about halfway through the book, but last night I read a scene that came back to me at 3 am and pulled me out of bed. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who might be reading this now or plans to read it in the future, but it involves a mammalian fetus doing things it shouldn’t be doing and being far more aware of it's environment than is normal...or natural.

Now, this sort of thing is very subjective, and what wakes me up at 3 am might not bother anyone else at all. But it sure worked for me. I saw that darn fetus in its pink and white prison and…well…that’s all I’m gonna say. Sooper Creepy. I’ll post a better review of the book when I finish it, hopefully in the next few days.

On another note, I received my ARC of Patricia Wood’s Lottery in the mail yesterday. YAAAAY!! I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to receive one the old fashioned way, so I had to snag one from ebay (Pat knew all about it, folks – she even sent me a link to one via email). I missed the first two that came up on ebay, but I got the third one. I also have a pre-order with Amazon for the hardcover (gotta support other authors, after all). I’m so anxious to read it I can barely stand it. Pat has promised to sign it for me if I like it (“if.” Her word, not mine. How do you like that modesty, eh?). I’m looking forward to this read, too. As with Ancestor, I’ll post a review when I finish the book.

On a final note, I have to say that Pat is one of the nicest people I’ve met since I started writing and looking up writer’s resources online, and that is saying something because I’ve met a lot of very nice folks. It never ceases to amaze me how some people are so giving of their time and experience. Just goes to show that kindness isn’t dead, despite what you see on the news every day. If you get a chance to visit her blog, you should definitely go. In addition to her valuable insights, she takes amazing pictures! The link is posted to the right.

What are you waiting for? Go. :)

Adios!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

The New Crack

Well, my little blog is just over a month old, and in looking over my past posts, I see I have not been doing my self-appointed job of watching out for the public’s interest (this may come as a surprise to some of you, since this is the first time I’ve mentioned this higher purpose, but trust me, it’s been there all along. Really. Would I lie?).

Thus, in the interest of public safety, it behooves me to issue the following public warning to all my fellow Blogomites:

Beware Blog Comments! They Are The New Crack!

You’ve seen the bloggers out there, I know you have, hunched over their computers like Quasimodo over his carvings (yes, the Disney Quasi). Their glazed eyes are bloodshot as they hit REFRESH over and over again in hopes that someone, somewhere, will give them a fix. They want their junk, no, they need their junk. It’s like crack, but worse, because at least crack makes you go out to get it. At least I think it does. No one’s invented a Crack Home Delivery business yet, have they? Crack Hut? Hey…maybe…

No. No! Bad David! No entrepreneurial ideas involving illegal substances. Prison is not the life for me.

Where was I?

Oh. Right. Blogger comments. Insanely addictive. Almost as bad as feedback in Share Your Work (that’s an Absolute Write Forum, in case anyone reading this doesn’t know). Blog Comment Addiction, or BCA, is rapidly becoming the number one cause of not only blindness and finger cramps, but also Nerditosis, Geekaphelia, and any other number of unsightly conditions which prohibit mankind's ability to reproduce by keeping the victims in front of the computer all day and preventing their physical interraction with others of the species.

I actually drew a single panel cartoon (which I would show here if I knew how...see the "not a techie" comments in earlier posts), with a guy on a street corner sitting at a laptop. His dirty clothes loosely cover his emaciated frame. His face is smudged, he has dark circles under his eyes, and he has about a four day growth of beard. In his hands is a cardboard sign that reads “Will Work For Blog Comments.”

That pretty much says it all, methinks.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Ancestor Has Arrived... Also, Several Things That Are Aprilynne's Fault :)

Today when I opened my mailbox, a little package was waiting for me. Y'all would probably recognize the box. It has a little smile on it...the word "Amazon.com" printed on the side...ring a bell? Good.

Anyway, inside this lovely little box was Ancestor, by Scott Sigler. yes, I know, I've mentioned it several times already (and Scott has visited the blog a couple times, too...what fun!), but I was very excited to get it so soon. Amazon rocks! I'll be diving into that one tonight.

Moving on...my last post revealed my lack of literary enlightenment to untold millions (or would have, if I had that many readers), and one comment from an individual I won't name (See Aprilynne? I didn't use your name. Ha! uuhhh...oops. I could delete that, but I'm too lazy), actually *sniff* used the word *sniff sniff* "loser".

Ok, so long story short, I decided to pick up some classics I have been meaning to read, but just have not gotten to yet. Among them are Where the Red Fern Grows, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, and Journey to the Center of the Earth. I plan to start with Fern (after Ancestor). I'm also going to break out my copy of Lord of the Flies and try reading it again.

The bad news is, when I got back from the store with all those books in my hand (I also bought The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon), my wife gave me a dirty look and reminded me that we are but poor serfs. I struggled for a moment, then I said "It's Aprilynne's fault. She called me a loser."

While my wife tried to figure that statement out I was able to make my getaway. :)

Of course, sooner or later I am going to have to go back downstairs...

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ugly Day In The Smokies, Unofficial Thursday Thirteen - and Ancestor, by Scott Sigler

It’s Thursday morning here in the Great Smoky Mountains. The sun is doing its best to warm the earth through the cloud cover, and the birds are doing their little birdie things (my truck is parked as far away from any trees, telephone poles, signs, etc. as possible). The formerly blue sky is obscured by gray, bloated clouds, harbingers of the soggy day to come. No motorcycle ride for me tonight. It’s not the rain I mind so much as the idea of getting hit by lightning while riding at 70mph. Somehow, I just don’t think it’d be pretty.

OK, I heard about this “meme” (whatever that means – see the post where I admit to not being a techie) from Thomma Lyn. It’s called Thursday Thirteen. The idea is to post a list of thirteen things relevant to you and your life (or your cyber life). So, while I am not officially part of this “meme” (I haven’t signed up yet), I would still like to post my own T13 list. This one, for me, is kind of a confessional.

As an aspiring writer, there are just some books that I should have read by this point in my life, and through poor taste, laziness, or some other such thing I have not done so. In addition, there are new books out there which I should have picked up and read, and again, I have not. So here is my shame-filled list.

Thirteen Books I Have Not Read, But Probably Should

1) Where the Red Fern Grows
2) To Kill A Mockingbird
3) 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
4) Bram Stoker’s Dracula
5) Lord of the Flies (Note: I started to read this and didn’t get far)
6) The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
7) The Secret
8) In Cold Blood
9) On Writing
10) Dune
11) The Land That Time Forgot (Note: This is one I will be reading very soon)
12) The Once and Future King
13) Slaughterhouse Five


There ya have it. I’m a literary slacker. I feel so dirty. Although I have read Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, and Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, so I do have one or two classics rolling around inside my head. I’m not a total loss. :)

Also, good news in my email this morning (no, not an offer), but one of the books I ordered the other day has shipped. Ancestor, by Scott Sigler. This after Scott commented on a post here in I Have A Blog? and wished me luck in getting it soon. After Scott’s visit, I was thinking I might not see Ancestor for a month or more, but here it is, only a few days later, and the book is on its way.

Yay Amazon!

Maybe Scott will pop back in. If he does, I hope he reads this so he’ll know they are shipping his book fairly quick now.

Now I am just waiting on Lottery and Look Me In The Eye to ship. Those two will be a while, though.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Editorial Rejection - "Controversial"

Me: Ok, folks out there in Blog O Land, say hello to Rejection Number Two (wild applause from the studio audience).

Rejection Number Two comes to us today from That impish Penguin Imprint, Berkley! (another round of studio applause)

So, R#2, tell us about yourself.

R#2: Well, I'm an email rejection (wild applause), and I'm short but to the point (yup...wild applause). My basic message is this: Too Controversial

Me: Too controversial?

R#2: That's right, David.

Me: Ok, but not "The writing is terrible" or "The plot stinks," or "Your author needs to stick his head in a Glad bag and inhale deeply for several minutes," nothing like that?

R#2: No, no. Nothing like that. Too controversial. That's all.

Me: And there you have it, ladies and gentlemen! (more wild applause) Controversial does not always equal dollar signs. Let's have a nice round of applause for our guest, Rejection Number Two! (more...ahh...you get the idea)

R#2: Thank You, thank you. I love you all.

:)

Seriously, it's a bummer to get another rejection (Two publishers so far...both of which require an agent [hehe...I have an agent - I never get tired of saying that] to submit). But you know (or yanno, for the Snark O Philes out there), if I'm going to get rejected, this is one I can handle. I can deal with "controversial" as a reason for rejection because honestly, to me a little controversy is a good thing. Stir the pot. Make some noise. Stories don't always have to be "safe" to be good. To my mind, there is definitely a place, nay, a need, for "dark" fiction. Stories that go where people don't normally look. Ugly little misshapen pieces of fictitious...uh...fiction. Yeah. I like those types of stories (which is probably why I wrote one). I like them, I say. Bring them on. Bring them...OW! Damn!

Oops. I got too excited and fell off my soap box. I think I broke my pinkie toe. Sorry for the rant, y'all. Got a little carried away. In all honesty I knew, the moment the idea struck me, that it would probably be called "controversial" at some point. I wrote it anyway. Faint heart ne'er won a fair publisher's...er...um... A Fair lady ne'er a heart won...Crud! How's that one go? Nevermind. The point is I knew this was coming sooner or later. The first rejection I received (for those who read that post, both of ya) was similar. They didn't actually use the word "controversial," but it was clear the editor thought so.


But the good news, in both cases, is that was the only reason for the rejection. No harping about the writing, no one said the plot was lame, and none of them thought the idea derivative, wish-fulfillment, or otherwise unoriginal.

Just "Controversial."

I can live with that.

Three Books I Bought Today plus My Reading List

I went on Amazon this morning and bought three new books. The earliest one will ship on May 13th, the latest won't ship until September. No instant gratification here. No, sir. S'okay, though. They are worth it.

For those who are curious, the three books (in the order in which they will ship) are:

Ancestor by Scott Sigler
Lottery by Patricia Wood
Look Me In The Eye by John Elder Robinson

You can find links to Pat's and John's blogs off to the right. If you haven't been their way, you should definitely go.


Here are the books I am currently reading:

Midnight Harvest by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro (reading this one at work on my lunch break)
The Destructor by Jon F. Merz
The Xeno Solution by Nelson Erlick
A Perfect Evil by Alex Kava
and I am beta reading Gate Walker by friend and fellow AW Member Chris Stevenson. BTW - Chris has a book coming out next month from Rain Books called Word Wars. Yay, Chris!! :)

Lastly, I got an email from my agent yesterday. No news, just keeping me up to speed on where we are, which is waiting for editorial decisions. Waiting, waiting, waiting... gotta love it, right?

Saturday, April 28, 2007

My, How Time Flies

My wife is generally wonderful about "this whole writing thing." We both work full time, and so the only time I have to write is time I have to take away from being together because, let's face it, I just can't do both at once. So she sits and occupies herself while I poke and prod my mind and push thoughts out through my fingers. Last night I typed 2,025 words in my new book after she went to bed.

But every once in a while she'll show a hint of impatience. Like today. I told her I was coming up to do another blog post and that I would be down in 20 or 30 minutes. She said "Yeah right. It's never 20 or 30 minutes."

The sad fact is she's not wrong. I often lose track of time when I write. I attribute this to the fact that my mind is no longer in this world, but in that other, more ethereal universe where my characters interract. Time there passes much slower. I'm sure of it. I can watch Pete McKee (my latest antag) have a cup of coffee in the same amount of time it takes my wife to take a shower, put on her PJs, watch a little TV, read 40 or 50 pages, and fall asleep. This could be a good thing. Maybe if I spend enough time there the gray hairs will start to go away, eh?

Nah, probably not.

So I'm just curious. Do any of you other writers find that you neglect your significant other while you are doing your writerly duty? How do they take it? I tend to think that it takes a very special type of person to put up with someone who spends so much of their time tuned in to a whole other reality. For me, it just makes me want to succeed all the more so her own sacrifices will be worth something.

Maybe I'll take her to dinner tomorrow night.

I gotta go. It's been over 20 minutes.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Luv Them Betas!

Beta Readers. Ya gotta love ‘em. They are your first line, your first critics, and sometimes your first fans. These are people who actually take time out of their schedules to read the words YOU put together and (hopefully) share some honest input on how they feel about what they have read. Saints of the writing world, one and all. At least in my opinion.

Here’s the thing, though. You have to be careful who your betas are. Did your husband/wife/significant other beta your book and tell you it was awesome? Your Best Friend? The counter jockey at Starbuck’s? These people are usually (not always) more interested in making you happy than in giving an honest critique. Another important question is this: Does your beta reader ever read for pleasure? Lots of people don’t, and those people might not get anything out of a book that is truly well written and unique, or they might just say “Meh, I didn’t like it” and have no idea why. Nothing wrong with that, it’s just not very helpful to you as a writer.

The best type of beta reader is one who doesn’t know you at all and reads for pleasure all the time. These are the people who are going to know why they do or don’t like your book, and not be afraid to tell you. Personally, I don’t want my feelings spared by any of my beta readers. If they don’t have something bad to say (a plot hole or inconsistency or clumsy wording, etc.) I would worry. If my book sees print, total strangers are going to rip into it without a thought or care for my personal feelings. For some people, that is their job, and they won’t hold anything back. After all, their livelihood and reputation is at stake.

This is why I like the online writer’s forums like Absolute Write. In addition to the great people you meet, the wonderful tips you can find, and the leads you can dig up, there are also a few total strangers who are more than willing to read your work and tell you if it stinks. Even though much of reading is subjective, usually you can tell if something just isn’t that particular reader’s taste or if it’s a real trouble spot. That kind of honest, even harsh, advice is very valuable for those of us who are struggling to get a book published.

Right now my fondest wish is that my novel does see print, if for no other reason than just so I can thank several people who so deserve it (you all know who you are). Here’s hoping.

Got my fingers crossed (darn hard to type that way, too…).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Neurotic Thoughts and Rabid Dachshunds

Oh, boy. This waiting thing is about as much fun as having your tonsils removed via rabid wiener dog, but slower. Now, I am certainly in no place to complain. My novel has only been on submission since April 2. I know several folks who have waited much longer (Hi Aprilynne!).

Thus far one editor has rejected it, and it only took two or three days. The comment I got was that she felt it “was a bit weird to see over Easter.” While her comment may have a few eyebrows doing pushups, it seems like a perfectly respectable reply to me. I guess that’s because I wrote the book, and I knew some folks might not care for the concept. Oh, well. Can’t win them all. Luckily there are other publishers out there, several of which are holding my story in their hands.

We have not heard anything from the others. I can't help but think this is a good thing, but my experience in the publishing business could best be summed up by the following two words: Total Noob. I tend to believe that the longer it takes an editor to reply, the more likely it is they are interested in the book. But of course that is not always the case. Editors get busy, too. I’m sure they get buried in manuscripts, even those sent by agents.

The worst part of the waiting, to me, is the second-guessing. I find myself fighting back the urge to ask my agent questions that, if I spend a few minutes thinking about, I can answer myself. Here’s a few (some of you who are in a similar position might be able to relate, or this could just be David of the Fragile Ego experiencing his own unique brand of neurosis):

1) Do you think my book is really good enough to be published?
2) Do you really think that so and so editor at so and so house will like it?
3) Do you think it has a chance?

Ad infinitum.

Yeah, thoughts like those keep worming their way into my head like larvae (I dunno why, but just hate the word “maggot”) on roadkill. At those times, when the Insecurity Monster rears its ugly head, I have to sit back and remind myself that the answer to all of the above is yes. If the lovely and wonderful agent who is shopping my book around couldn’t answer YES to any of them, she would not have taken on the book. It really is that simple. Agents don’t rep work they don’t think they can sell.

Period.

What would be the point? They don’t make any money if they don’t sell your book, unless they are Stylus Literary or some similar outfit (mine is not, BTW, she’s legit and has a nice track record of sales).

So, keeping that in mind, I wait as calmly as possible. My rear hurts from all the pins, needles, and other sharp objects I am forced to sit on. I avoid contacting my agent because I don’t have anything useful to say or ask, and I’d rather not make a nuisance out of myself. I know she has other clients (some quite well-known) and has more important things to do than reassure my frail ego.

I’m just keepin’ my fingers crossed, hoping for the best, and trying to forget the rabid wiener dog analogy.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Made My Day

I read this post on Miss Snark's website this morning and had to share. Granted, anyone reading my little blog will have undoutedly already been to Snakville and seen it for him/herself, but still...I just gotta post the link. :)

Lovely Post from the Grand Snarky One

Friday, April 20, 2007

Wow.

Ok, so I'm not a techie. I haven't added anything new to this blog in the last couple of weeks because I couldn't figure out how. There, I said it. Call me a dingbat if you must (I can say that because the only person who reads this blog is yours truly, and I can call myself anything I want without hurting my own feelings).

All righty, then...what's new since my last post? Well, I have an agent shopping my manuscript around. That's certainly something that has never happened to me before. It's interesting because, for a writer (especially a noob like me), having an agent represents a tremendous validation of your work. Sure, I haven't made any money, and there's no guarantee your agent will sell your book to a publisher, but just having one means someone besides you and your loved ones believes in your work and thinks it's marketable. That is what an agent represents to new writers. Even if this book never sells, it means I am good enough.

Oooh, it felt good to type that. I think I'll do it again.

I am good enough!!! I am! I am I AM!!

OOOh, that's better than crack!! Ok, I gotta slow down, I'm starting to get high over here.

For anyone who reads this besides myself (as likely as that is), I should probably add that NOT having an agent (yet) is nothing to be ashamed of and in no way invalidates a writer's efforts. It's important to note that NO ONE is born with an agent. Every single writer who has ever had one didn't start off that way. Plenty of writers struggled to get one and a few have been quite successful without one. P.N. Elrod's first book, Blood List, was bought by Ace right off the slush pile, with nary an agent around to prod and pitch. I lost count of how many books this series has now, but it's been going strong for years and years. So for those of you who might someday read this and think something negative about yourself because no agents are beating your door down...don't. Sometimes it takes a while. there are plenty of documented cases of famous authors who were turned down by many, many agents, and I am far too lazy to post them, but take my word for it.

That said, it's still nice to have someone in the biz believe in your work. Makes me feel all tingly.

Or maybe that's the crack.