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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sowen Sample Query

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, please remember to turn your cell phones on when you leave.

So this is perhaps the fifth version of my query letter. I just put in the meat of the query. So let me know, dear reader, does it sound OK? Would you shell out your hard earned money to read it? Me neither!

Halloween: It’s a day for trick-or-treating, for costume parties, and for all things ghastly. For Christopher Sowen, it’s a day to celebrate his fourteenth birthday. It’s also a day for Chris to miss his Mom most because on this day, one year ago, Chris’s Mom died.

And it’s as if the whole Sowen family died with Mom. Maybe that’s why Chris has been so obsessed with ghost hunting. Maybe if he can contact Mom, she could tell him how to help his father Bill and his older sister Ashley move passed the tragedy.

On the anniversary of Mom’s death, Chris and his best friend Andy Shubblebodum visit the lake where Mom’s car sank and perform an Indian ritual in hopes of contacting Mom’s soul. The ritual is a failure, or so Chris thinks, until he starts having strange, out-of-body visions of his mother telling him he needs to go back to the lake to free her. Were they just dreams? Could Mom really have come back? Chris returns to the lake the following evening, only to find ...

...An ancient evil has tricked Chris into opening a portal into a terrifying world, unleashing an army of dead wasps with a hunger for fresh souls and a particular craving for the Sowen children. Chris, Ashley and Andy soon learn it’s not death they should fear, but what comes after.

Later Fiends,

Monday, April 27, 2009

Query Letters & Blowtorches

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, just when you thought the day couldn't get any worse--ta-da!-- I appear like a ninja.

So I'm up to my elbows in work--bill paying work and non-paying writing.  The later, of course, being the important one. I'm still reading agent queries, studying them as if they were the Dead Sea scrolls, trying to find that one piece, that nugget of information that will provide me access through the glorious gates of the publishing world...

... And I've learned that no such nugget exists. DAMMIT!
... And I've learned the whole damn industry is steaming pile of contradictions.

So on to Plan B, which involves a pair of pliers, a blowtorch, a bunch of heavy grade contractor garbage bags, and a SASE, you know, because it's just rude to expect that an agent would pay for the return of any material.

Later Fiends

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BEA/Writer's Digest Writers Conference

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, it hurts to be dead. I can feel myself rot ...

I've decided to attend the BookExpo America Writer's Digest Books Writers Conference at the Javits Center in NYC on May, 27th. Besides the numerous workshops, the conference boasts what is called an Agent Pitch Slam, which is nothing more than speed dating for writers. You get a few minutes to pitch your book to as many agents within two hours.

Because I've never attended an Agent Pitch Slam before, and because I couldn't sell water to a man on fire, I've been struggling to find the best way to attack this shindig and to sell my story the way it should be sold (wait a sec ... isn't that the purpose of getting an agent in the first place? Ohh, the paradox!) For starters, I've been researching all of the agents that will be attending and have narrowed my focus to about twelve that I think would best be interested in my work. I want to go to the conference knowing who exactly I want to see.

I've also been polishing my query letter, reading countless blogs on the do's and don'ts of writing query letters, working on a synopsis, reading more blogs on the do's and don'ts of writing a synopsis, polishing my manuscript ... and repeating this process to the point my head (or perhaps it's the room) is spinning.

All for the hope that one agent will say, "Sure, you can follow me on Twitter."

Ah well ... At the very least I should take away from this conference some additional knowledge about the industry, and I'll be sure to share my experience with you, Dear Reader.

Later Fiends,

Friday, April 17, 2009

I gotcher bunnies right here, buddy

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, Happy Easter ... oh, right, that was last week ...

I spent Easter in NYC with my family. A wonderful day, sunny, bit of a chill, and a whole lot of people wearing crazy hats like this one:

And this one, which I must say is a far better use of Metro Cards ...

But if crazy hats isn't your thing, hey, this is New York, where there's a little sumpin' for everyone. You want bunnies. We gotcher bunnies right here, buddy ...

Later Fiends,

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Under the Talisman

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, the man in black fled across the desert, and we all followed ... ever since.

Yeah, that's right, dear reader, I'm talking about Stephen King. I remember hearing from time to time about this novel he was working on that was, alas, never to be completed, much the same way I thought the Dark Tower series would never be completed. I love being wrong (which is usually the case) and this is no exception.

Under the Dome, perhaps SK's longest novel ever, clocking in at a massive 1500 pages, will be released November 10, 2009. Let's just say I'll be picking up a copy.

Here's the plot synopsis:

On an entirely normal, beautiful fall day in Chester’s Mill, Maine, the town is inexplicably and suddenly sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Planes crash into it and fall from the sky in flaming wreckage, a gardener’s hand is severed as “the dome” comes down on it, people running errands in the neighboring town are divided from their families, and cars explode on impact. No one can fathom what this barrier is, where it came from, and when—or if—it will go away.

Dale Barbara, Iraq vet and now a short-order cook, finds himself teamed with a few intrepid citizens—town newspaper owner Julia Shumway, a physician’s assistant at the hospital, a select-woman, and three brave kids. Against them stands Big Jim Rennie, a politician who will stop at nothing—even murder—to hold the reins of power, and his son, who is keeping a horrible secret in a dark pantry. But their main adversary is the Dome itself. Because time isn’t just short. It’s running out.

And though I'm not an avid comic reader, and I wasn't all that interested in Marvel's Dark Tower and The Stand adaptions, I recently learned that The Talisman, a collaboration between Stephen King and Peter Straub, will be released in graphical form through Del Ray and is due out in the Fall of '09.

I'll be wrapping my greedy fingers around that one, too.

Later Fiends,

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Flowers

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, ahh, spring is here ...

And to honor the season, I'd like to share a short piece called-- yup, you guessed it-- The Flowers. One of the most powerful short pieces I've ever read is Alice Walker's The Flowers. This is a retelling of Alice Walker's classic story. When ten-year-old Maya's romp through her safe neighborhood takes her on a journey to an old deli, Maya discovers the safety of innocents cannot last forever ... Enjoy.

The Flowers

Later Fiends

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

More on Sowen

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, today is National Stalker Day, so go out there and stalk your favorite celebrity. And remember, dear reader: Fan is only four letters away from FANatic!*

I've been working on Sowen, and I'm halfway through another revision. I thought I'd give a little snippet ...

The other children gathered, too, grabbing his legs, pulling out hair, ripping fingers from the sockets and sucking on them like ice pops. They all chanted together: "Join Us. Become Us. Lead Us," as they dragged the heap that was his body into the lake.

Ah, now doesn't everyone feel better?


And in important news ...

Robert McCammon's Mister Slaughter, the third book in the Matthew Corbett series, will be out in the Fall of '09, according to McCammon's website. If you haven't been reading the series, you should do yourself a favor and catch up.

Later Fiends,

*NOTE: Today is not National Stalker Day, nor does such a day exist, nor does Mr. Gray or his blog support stalkers in any way, shape or form.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Car Stereo Is Possessed

My car stereo is possessed. Somewhere inside the diodes and resistors is the soul of an audiobook critic, who, for the past few months, has had no problem vomiting up a CD with extreme prejudice. This morning, my esteemed spectral companion would not let me listen to JCO's Freaky Green Eyes after the opening attempted rape scene, which disappointed me immensely, because I was just starting to get in touch with my inner teenage female.

He did, however, let me get through the first two chapters of For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Either this critic is insecurely masculine, or he just has a hankering to blow up a bridge. Whatever the case, I think it's time for an exorcism in the form of an iPod.

Later Fiends,

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy April Fools' Day

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, Happy April Fools' Day. May all of your pranks be clever and of the lowest quality.

Today is one of those days, at least for me, that will easily be erased from memory. It's a Nothing Day where everything moves as expected, even the weather: it's not too warm or too cold; there's the threat of rain, at best. Who knows, maybe that's how a proper April Fools' Day is supposed to begin ... obscurely. Then, when you least expect it--wham!--everyone's laughing at you.

As I public service announcement, don't let your April Fools' Day prank go this far ... cause, you know, some people just don't have a sense of humor when it comes to dismemberment.

Artwork by Wes Benscoter

Later Fiends,

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