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.


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


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.

Sunday, April 1, 2007

I Have a Blog Now?

Looks that way. I have no idea what to put in here, but since I have a blog now I suppose I should put something.

I've never done one of these before, so on the off chance that anyone is reading this, y'all will just have to be patient with me. I'm starting this blog because I am an unpublished writer, and like millions of other unpublished writers out in the great wide world I would very much like to delete those first two damning letters. You know the ones. The U and the N. I hate those. Sure, they have their uses, but for someone who hasn't hit print they make for the ugliest syllable in the English language.

So where am I right now? Well, at this point I have finished two novels and subbed them out to various agents an publishers. Novel #1 is making the rounds of the mid-size houses at present, while novel #2 is still working the agent scene (that's fun, isn't it?).

Anyway, as information progresses I'll be sure to add more and let anyone who might actually see this blog know what is going on. For now it's lunchtime, and there's a greasy cheeseburger waiting for me downstairs.