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Monday, June 22, 2009

Father's Day and Other Things

Wow, I just realized how pitiful my posts have been lately, and decided that, hey, why stop the trend now.

Father's Day was especially fun this year. My three-year-old son got me a pair of stereo headphones for my iPod Touch, which was very thoughtful of him. My eleven-year-old daughter got me a book, The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones, which I 'd rather be reading right now. This was followed by an awesome day at Dorney Park.


The Sowen Saga continues ... I've been sending out queries to agents and receiving the standard rejections. I can understand why writers do awkward things to interfere with the customary agent / writer relationship, if only to get a real response like, leave me alone you stupid freak, just to know there is a real person reading the queries.

I'm busy gathering information for the second novel, and this has been taking up most of my free time, hence the lack of posts here, on Twitter, and Facebook. Good thing for you, dear reader, because I had absolutely nothing interesting to say.


For Writers:
I promised some more details about the BEA writers conference, and have been slacking. This one comes from Donald Maass. He says great fiction establishes the setting as a character. He further suggests this should be done early in the story, in the first page if possible, but absolutely within the first chapter.

To create the setting as a character, Maas recommends that the protagonist have strong emotional ties to the setting. For instance, what does the character like and dislike about the setting? And remember, show don't tell. Find that specific image to describes this love and hate.

Later Fiends,

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Library Event

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, welcome to Thursday. Hope you enjoy your stay.

This weekend I will be volunteering at my local library, either reading to children or stocking shelves or both. Every year my library has a book sale, hardcovers for 2 bucks, paperbacks for 50 cents. Later in the week, the deal gets even sweeter: all the books you can fit in your bag for 1 or 2 bucks. I get nearly a year's worth of books for the cost of one hardcover at B&N. I love it.

So if you're near the Poconos, take the trip out to the library this weekend. They'll have about 70,000 titles for sale.

Later Fiends,

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lottery Tickets

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild, rub thy magical blog to receive three wishes.

On good advice from the writer Steve Vernon, I try to think of my work as more of a lottery ticket than a piece of art. Thinking in those terms keeps disappointment to a minimum. Hey, you don't really expect to win the lottery, but if it happens ... So this week I sent out lottery tickets to some of the agents I met at the BEA Conference. All you need is a query and a dream, right?


I'm a big fan of audio books. Because of my schedule and the amount of down time I spend in my car, I always keep my iPod loaded with books. The last few days I've been listening to On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. I've read the book a few times, but I just got around to listening to the audio version read by King himself. I imagine it's the closest I'll ever get to a personal lecture, and a lot of what King says makes sense. I enjoyed the section on what Hemingway referred to as killing your darlings, or rather cutting out those expository passages that act as a teat for your ego, but offer nothing to the story or the reader. Story always comes first. I also enjoyed when King discuses how writers should keep their desks in the corner of the room, not the center. This is to remind the author that life enhances writing, not the other way around.

The book / audio book is good, not perfect, but good. King uses a lot of filler, especially during the grammar sections where he quotes The Elements of Style way too liberally, and his admiration for such writers like John Grishim comes off like an infomercial. Still, the book is a helpful guide that all aspiring writers, not just fans, should read.

Later Fiends,

Monday, June 1, 2009

The BEA/Writer's Digest Aftermath

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, animals both domesticated and wild ... hmm, this mud on my blog smells like crap.

I'm sure you've all been refreshing this site, waiting at the edges of your RSS feeders for my tales of the Writer's Digest conference, and wondering when my story will be in your fingers. The wait is over!

Please standby while my ego deflates ...

OK, so the conference wasn't bad. Most of the panels, at least the ones not trying to push their own books, were insightful. During the Pitch Slam, I got the sense many of the agents didn't want to be there--surely after two straight hours of hearing three-minute story pitches, I wouldn't want to be there either--but they all smiled, gave me their full attention, even offered some suggestions on how to improve my story, and most importantly, many wanted me to submit fulls or partials, which is a good sign that they're interested in at least the premise of the story.

This week will be me frantically putting together my queries, tightening my novel's prose, and doing other writerly things so I can have all the submissions out by the end of the week.


Over the next few weeks, I'd like to put together some of the do's and don'ts I learned at the conference. For starters, something all agents agree is the single most likely reason for rejection, is word count. For instance, Sowen, which is YA fantasy, should be between 45,000 and 70,000 words. Of course, you had the commentators saying, what about Twilight? What about Harry Potter? My story is as good. Fact is, if the word count don't jive with the standards, then agents read no further. Fortunately for Stephenie Meyer, Twilight was picked out by an intern not an agent, and J.K. Rowling can do whatever the hell she wants.

Later Fiends,

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