Writing and Rambling

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Changing directions…

Posted by Dave on July 4, 2010

I know it’s been a while again since my last post. I decided to take a different direction with Jaben’s Rift, which incidentally has been renamed to From a Far Land: Jaben’s Rift book 1, and I’ve been hard at work following that path.

I’ve decided to self-publish this first one (and perhaps the sequel, just for continuity’s sake). Now, before you say anything, it’s not due to any feedback I’ve received (or not received) from my queries. I only sent out five on this book. And it’s not due to any negative feedback I’ve received on the book or the writing. No, this was due to an overwhelming desire to see the book in print sooner than I would have if I had gone the traditional route. I still think I could have been published via an agent and publishing house, I simply didn’t want to wait.

It’s been a bit of work, but I will say that it’s been worth it. I’ve learned a few things going the self-published route that I’m not sure I would have going through a traditional publisher. Plus, I think this experience will help me with future novels that I will be going through agents with. I think it will help me work with editors, agents, and publishing companies, having gained at least a tiny insight into their side of the process.

I learned about book layouts, and when to leave the blank pages so everything lines up right and looks more professional. I designed the cover for it. I’m also learning about self-promotion. Last night I submitted the press release to twenty-nine newspapers, four television stations, fourteen radio stations, and nine area Chambers of Commerce. I have also designed fliers to put up in my town and surrounding towns. Hopefully, those will generate some response, perhaps an interview or two along with an article or book review here and there.

Will I be as successful with this one as I would have been going the traditional route? Honestly, probably not, but I think the extra insight I’ve gotten doing it this way will be worth it. I still believe in this book. I think the finished product is just as good or better than most of what’s on your neighborhood bookstore shelves. I hope you’ll take a chance and pick up a copy from Amazon.com. You can order a copy here (the publishing company) or here (Amazon). Or you can find it by searching Amazon for “Jaben’s Rift.” Author name is G. David Walker. The title will say “From a Far Land: Jaben’s Rift book 1.”

I won’t be posting as often here anymore. I’ve started a website where my future updates will be. You can find me now at the World of Walker at http://www.gdavidwalker.com.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs, and I hope you’ll stop by and see me at my website.

Taking another step on the journey,
Dave

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Toe in the door and hoping for more

Posted by Dave on June 5, 2010

Well, I’ve sent out query letters to five agents on my list so far.  Three rejections, one hasn’t responded yet, and one asked for the first thirty pages.  Wait, what was that?  Oh yeah.  One asked for the first thirty pages!  (Trumpets blaring, fireworks going off in the background, bells ringing from steeples across the land, etc…)  I would have posted this sooner, but I just recently came out of the shock-induced coma this caused.  After all, it was my first time.

The feeling I had when I saw the request for pages is hard to describe.  Obviously, I was relieved when I didn’t see “after careful consideration,” “I’m afraid,” or “unfortunately” anywhere on the page.  Then came a brief surge of excitement, quickly tamped down by thoughts of “Okay, I got their attention.  Now what?” 

Well, now it’s a waiting game.  Actually, most sources say to keep querying the other agents on your list, even after one has requested to see part or all of the manuscript.  But I’m taking it a little slow this first time.  Dipping my toe in the pool, so to speak.  While I’m hoping for a positive response (and worldwide acclaim as the next great American fantasy writer….hey, a guy can dream, right?), I also don’t want to get so caught up in the process as to lose all sense of perspective.  Just because an agent has asked to see part of the manuscript, doesn’t mean it’s a given they’ll like it.  Even if this one takes the next step and requests the full manuscript, there is still the possibility of rejection.  It’s all part of this great game called writing.  Thousands upon thousands of hopefuls, vying for a relative handful of spots on bookstore shelves, competing against established authors that have a reputation for sales to support them. 

I do want to take a moment to thank those few that have read the book and offered their suggestions, or pointed out mistakes.  I wrote it, and I’ve looked at it a thousand times, but I still miss things simply because my brain automatically fills in the missing parts as I read it.  It’s frustrating, but I know why it happens, and I appreciate the people who have pointed out where something is wrong.  Now it’s time to get back to work on the next book while I wait for the response.  (Maybe that will keep me from checking my hotmail account every half hour.  Nah, probably not.)

So, keep your fingers (toes, eyes, whatever) crossed for me as I wait to hear back from this agent. 

Catch you next time,
Dave

“I’m arguing with a telepathic bird on another planet about whether or not a human chameleon is my girlfriend.  I think my weird-o-meter is broken.”
Quote from Jason Bennett in Jaben’s Rift.

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Feedback Fun (Pt 2)

Posted by Dave on May 16, 2010

Okay, I’m back, with apologies to you, the reader. 

For the last few weeks, I’ve been elbow-deep in editing, polishing up the query letter, and putting together a list of agents.  Final count for Jaben’s Rift is 109,137 words, a drop of 16,158 words, or almost 13%.  Some of it hurt, but I think JR is better for it. I did end up dropping the prologue that I posted in my last entry.  Although I liked it, it really wasn’t serving a purpose that I couldn’t accomplish in the main text of the book.  Just another example of “killing the darlings” (see the April 4th post).  Now the book jumps right into Jason’s dilemma from the get go.  We’ll see how that works out.

But now, the editing is done, and the initial volley of queries has been fired off.  Two have already come back as rejections, but c’est la vie, right?  Most agents will reject over ninety percent of what is sent to them.  I just appreciate the prompt response from the agents, even if it was a rejection.  Some never reply at all if they don’t like your work, so you hang in limbo, sometimes for weeks.  Hopefully, I’ll land in that lucky ten percent before I go through my whole list.  If not, maybe I’ll do better on the next one.  Either way, I’m not going to stop writing.

Now, back to the feedback thing.  In part one, I addressed the writer’s side of feedback.  Now I’d like to look at the reviewer’s side. 

The most difficult material to review honestly is that of a friend or family member.  There’s no problem if the writing is truly good, but what if it’s not?  How do you tell someone you care about that their material isn’t the best you’ve ever read?  On the one hand, you want to help them improve and reach their goals, but on the other hand, what if your honesty hurts their feelings?  Only you know how they will respond to complete honesty.  If you don’t think they’ll appreciate total candor, and they insist you tell them what you think of their stuff, let me offer this.  Find something, anything, that you do like about the material and emphasize that, while trying to minimize critical comments.  They’ll hear enough of those from other sources.  Also, even if you think you’re the next Jeff Foxworthy or Sinbad, don’t make jokes about your friend’s or relative’s writing ambitions, especially when you’re both with other people, even if you are just kidding around with them.  They may laugh with you, but only they know how important their writing is to them.  Innocent jokes can sometimes hurt worse than blunt honesty.

Now, if you’re a writer, let me gently suggest that you not ask relatives or friends to review your work unless you are completely willing to accept constructive criticism without taking it personally or letting it affect your relationships.  Editors, agents, and online or in-person critique groups will give you the feedback you need to improve your work, and you can get mad at them if you want without jeopardizing friendships or family relations.  And as I mentioned in the first part of Feedback Fun, the feedback you get from family or friends, unless they’re also in the writing biz, may not be the most accurate or insightful, even if they’re really trying to help. 

Although we all love our own writing, we’re hardly the best judges of whether or not it’s publishable, and the people who care about us don’t really want to tell us our material needs some work (and sometimes that’s being polite).  Do you really want to put people you care about in the uncomfortable position of having to break that news to you in case it’s not good enough yet?  And be honest with yourself.  How will you feel if your significant other tells you your story isn’t that good?  Hmm?  Unless you’re sure you’d be okay with it, hold off and let them have some of the first copies once it’s published.  Then you can joke about your less-than-perfect first drafts over a congratulatory toast.

Enough for today.  Have a good one.
Dave

 There are three kinds of people in the world: Those who can do math, and those who can’t.

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , , , | 3 Comments »

For your entertainment…

Posted by Dave on April 19, 2010

Okay, so I didn’t get a chance to write the second part of Feedback Fun. Instead, here is the prologue of the book I’m currently editing. I hope you enjoy it.

Prologue

The ancient structure crouched in the middle of the Scottish woods. For centuries, it had waited…

The sound of crunching leaves broke the late afternoon stillness as a solitary figure pushed through the tangle of brush toward the building. Mesmerized by his discovery, Jason Bennett brushed off assaults by brambles and vines battling to hold their hard-won territory. The teenager stopped as a particularly stubborn bramble won a skirmish with his shirtsleeve, a victory heralded by a loud rip.

“Oh, man!” He scowled at the suntanned skin peaking through the hole in his new shirt. Mom’s gonna kill me, he thought.

With a sharp jerk, he freed his shirtsleeve and forged ahead. A few more steps brought him to the entrance. He eyed what was left of the door lying beside the building, almost obscured by weeds and grass, then looked at the gaping maw where it had hung. His gaze slowly traveled around the crumbling edges of the opening. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea. Almost before the thought could register, he stepped inside.

Overhead, the roof had fallen in at several spots, speckling the dirty floor with rubble-strewn patches of sunlight. Vines and creepers covered portions of the walls, and a large section of one wall in the front room had collapsed. The musty smell of mold and decaying leaves hung heavy in the air. He kicked a clod of dirt, watching it disintegrate as it hit the wall. It was just an overgrown ruin, similar to the old, decrepit shacks he had seen back home, the only difference being that this one was made of stone instead of wood.

He explored a few of the rooms but found nothing except more dirt and dead leaves. It was beginning to get dark so he decided to head back to his great uncle’s house. As he was turning to leave, the lengthening shadows revealed a glow coming from somewhere deeper inside the building.

Intrigued, he went in search of the source of the light, the approaching dusk forgotten for the moment. He followed the flickering radiance to a room that appeared to have weathered the passage of time better than the others. The light came from a doorway on the other side of the room. It looked like it opened to the outside, although he would have sworn he was in the middle of the building.

Maybe there’s a courtyard or something like that, he thought. The light might be coming from something out there. Ignoring the small voice of caution in the back of his mind, he stepped through the door.

The light disappeared. The building was empty once more.

***

Something has changed. The being raised its head as a ripple in the ether disturbed its self-contemplation. Was it time? For centuries the being had waited, sometimes watching the interaction between the points of light and darkness that traversed the flowing colors of the vista before it. At other times, it would turn its attention inward, pondering its own existence for decades at a time.

Now, another moved along a dark thread toward the intricate ballet the being had observed for so long. Yet this new addition was neither light nor dark. It shifted between one end of the spectrum and the other, a rainbow condensed into a single point of existence.

A whispering echo broke the silence. “So, he has found the way at last.”

The being knew it was not supposed to interact with the dancers, and for the most part, it had observed the Covenant. It remembered how easily the points of light now twirling before it could be extinguished. But now it reached out and, ever so slightly, shifted the end of the dark thread upon which the newcomer traveled. The others will not know, it thought.

“And so it begins. A new song for the dance.”

Then it watched as the rainbow point of light approached the end of the dark thread…

Posted in writing | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Feedback Fun (Pt 1)

Posted by Dave on April 13, 2010

Well, another week come and gone, but hey, that’s another week closer to publication. Right? (Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket! I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.) Sorry, just drifted off into a little self-encouragement, but we’ll talk about that a little later. Schedule’s been crazy, so I’m a little late on this post. Sorry about that.

Again, just one time to the track last week. Still haven’t been able to make the different family schedules work together. On the plus side, I did get four miles this time, even right after mowing the lawn, so I don’t feel so bad.

For all that I huff and puff around the track, though, I truly feel for my daughter. She’s on the seventh grade track team, a league softball team, and a league volleyball team. Thursday night, she had track practice right after school. After that, she went straight to softball practice. Then, after that she went straight to volleyball practice. Needless to say (why do people go on after that phrase if it really is needless to say? Hello, Captain Obvious!), she was one pooped peep by the end of the day. I, on the other hand, would’ve been a corpse, or at the very least, in the E.R.

Now, before you get the idea that we’re the type of parents that push their kids into everything, that’s not the case. She wanted to do all three. We’ve never told our kids they had to do everything, and we’ve never told them they had to be the best. What we have told them is that IF they’re going to do something, we expect them to TRY their best. If it’s not good enough to win, oh well. Try again next time. Just as long as they give it their very best shot each time, we’re okay with the results.

Now, back to that encouragement thing…

Fiction writers do what we do because we like to tell stories (bonus if we get paid for it). At some point in time, if we ever plan on being published, we have to let other people see those stories. When other people read our stories, we generally expect some sort of feedback.

Now, not all feedback is created equal. There’s “yes, grandma, I know I’m your favorite author, but I don’t think I’m as good as Hemingway just yet.” And there’s “Wow, after reading that critique, I think I’m going to quit writing and just go sob in a corner for about a year.”

As writers, we have to be ready to get the harsh critiques. Let’s face it; not everyone is going to like our stuff. Writers have to have a thick skin if they want to survive, especially beginning writers who are still learning the craft. Lots of mistakes will be made, with lots of people more than willing to point out each and every one. But just because someone doesn’t like what we’ve written doesn’t mean it’s not good. And, on the flip side, just because someone does like it, doesn’t mean it is.

We have to consider the source (i.e. grandma may not be exactly impartial), and the tone of the critique. By tone, I mean how it is presented. Some critiques sound like they were written by someone who just got home from a crappy day at work and couldn’t find the dog to kick. I generally tend to ignore those.

The critiques I do listen to are the ones that point out issues that need work, but that do so in a way that lets me know that the reviewer is really trying to help me improve. I know I have a ways to go before I’m an “accomplished” writer (whatever that may be), and I actually appreciate it when someone pointing out my mistakes, as long as I’m fairly sure they’re trying to help me improve and not just venting because of something that has nothing to do with me or my writing.

I’ve got more to say on the subject, but I don’t want to make this too long. The next post will take a look at how to give and how to receive feedback, especially when it involves family and friends.

Have a good one!
Dave

What do you do if your reality check bounces?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

One down…

Posted by Dave on April 4, 2010

Happy April, everyone, and Happy Easter. I hope your Easter Sunday is going (or went) wonderfully, and I hope you pulled more April Fool’s pranks than you fell for. Due to schedules and weather, I only made it to the track one time this past week again. But, I did make three and a half miles this time. That’s a half mile more than last week. I might try to get there this afternoon, but I’ve got to mow the lawn for the first time in 2010 first. I’ll see how I feel after that.
My son and I planted a tree in the front yard yesterday in honor of Arbor Day. He got it from his elementary school. We’ll see if it survives the treatment of a rambunctious fourth grader and his definitely-not-a-green-thumb father.
I finished the first edit of Jaben’s Rift Friday night. From a starting word count of 125,295, I trimmed 7,178 words, bringing the new word count down to 118,117. Not bad considering I was focusing mainly on the little stuff I mentioned in my last post. It’s a really good feeling, getting through the first edit. I know there’s more polishing to be done, but each time through is a step closer (hopefully) toward publication.
Now it’s time to go back through the manuscript again and “kill the darlings.” (No, not my children!) When a writer kills the darlings, it means they go back and get rid of all of those witty little phrases, passages, and such that they were so proud of when they wrote them, but that really don’t add anything to the story. I mean, they seemed like a good idea at the time, but when you read the story, they don’t really do anything except make the author feel clever.
I did find at least one place where I think I need to do a little rearranging on the manuscript. I realized that, at least in this first book, I had a tendency to bring up a question for the reader to ponder, but then I turn right around and answer it too soon. I need to move some stuff around so that my readers have time to wonder what’s going on before I let them know.
Another thing I noticed is that my writing toward the end of the book took a lot less editing for the little things than the first half. I mentioned in my first post that it took me six years to write the first half and a year to write the second half. During that time I was also studying the craft of writing and reading as many books as I could on the subject. I was pleased to see that it looked like at least a small percentage of what I read sank in. We’ll see how the editing goes on the next one once I get to that point.
Okay, just about time to eat Easter dinner. Have a great week!

Dave

My doctor thinks I may have a split personality, but we don’t think so.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sighing and Nodding

Posted by Dave on March 27, 2010

I hit the track for the first time in 2010 this past Tuesday.  The weather didn’t really allow it any other day (for which I sent a “Thank You” card to the local weatherman).  Ouch.  Between walking and jogging, I managed to make it three miles.  It wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it would be the next day, but I was still walking a little slower than usual.  This week looks like better weather, so I’ll be able to go more than once.  My running goal is five miles with no walking by the end of the summer.  My weight goal is 200 with a starting weight of 230.  We’ll see.

Our brief respite is almost over.  We had a couple of weeks after the kids’ basketball season ended, but now it’s time for baseball and softball to gear up.  Plus, my daughter is also going to be playing volleyball in a summer league at the same time, and she’s on the school track team as well.  I’ll have to really stay on my own case to keep the writing on pace.  I love to write, but one of my favorite things to do is watch my kids in their games or school functions (plays, singing, talent shows, etc…).  I’ll have to make it work somehow.  To paraphrase Tony Little, “I can DO it!”

Writing update:

Well, I’m almost halfway through the first edit of Jaben’s Rift.  I say first edit because I will definitely be going through it again.  This first time through is looking for basic stuff like words or phrases that aren’t needed, or are redundant.  I was surprised at how many unnecessary “he said,” or “to her,” there were, or simply phrases that restated something said previously, or that weren’t needed at all.  Just looking for things like that, I’ve been able to trim almost 4,000 words off the manuscript, and I’m not quite halfway through it.

Here’s a breakdown of a paragraph from my first draft, and how I changed it:

“The sun had already begun its climb into the clear morning sky as Jason and Reyga walked out the door to begin their journey.  Stepping out into the yard, the first thing Jason noticed was the multitude of various odors filling the air.  Noting the direction of the breeze, Jason looked upwind.  What he saw caused his steps to slow until he finally came to a complete stop in amazement.  He had seen plenty of backyard gardens before, some quite impressive, but this was surely the king of all gardens, if there were such a thing.”

At first glance, it doesn’t look all that bad, but there are some things that could definitely use a few tweaks.  So, here’s what I changed, and why.

  • “The sun had already begun its climb…”  This is a little wordy.  I changed it to, “The sun was climbing…”
  • “…to begin their journey.”  Not needed.  I’ve already established at the end of the previous chapter that they’re going to start their journey this morning, so this is redundant.
  • “Stepping out into the yard, the first…”  Not needed.  If he stepped outside, it’s a given that he’s stepping into the yard.
  • “…various odors…”  I dropped various.  If there’s a multitude of odors, they have to be varied or he wouldn’t notice that there’s a multitude.  They’d all smell the same.
  • “Noting the direction of the breeze…”  Again, not needed.  For him to know which way upwind was, it’s a given he’d have to figure out which way the breeze was blowing.
  • “What he saw caused his steps to slow until…”  Wordy and not really needed.  If his steps slow, we can infer that whatever it is he’s looking at is the reason.
  • “…in amazement.”  Same as the last phrase.  I ended up combining this sentence and the previous one instead.
  • “…some quite impressive…”  Not bad, but again, not really needed.

After the first edit, the new paragraph reads like this:

“The sun was climbing into the clear morning sky as Jason and Reyga walked out the door.  The first thing Jason noticed as he stepped outside was the multitude of odors filling the air.  He looked upwind, and then slowed until he finally came to a complete stop.  He had seen plenty of backyard gardens before, but this was surely the king of all gardens, if there were such a thing.”

See how much unnecessary stuff was in there the first time?  The new version, while perhaps still not perfect, is cleaner and more concise without really losing anything from the original.  It’s just that now, instead of assuming the readers need every little thing explained to them, they’re given credit for enough intelligence to figure out some things on their own.  Remember, never insult your reader’s intelligence.  Plus, the original paragraph was ninety-six words.  The revised version is seventy-one.  That’s a reduction of twenty-six percent.  Obviously, we can’t to do that with every paragraph, but if you’re a beginning writer like me, you might be surprised at what you can get rid of without hurting your story.  And if you’re not a writer, the next time you read a book (especially if it seems to be dragging), see if you can spot places where the author is using extra words and/or phrases that really don’t need to be there.  These can bog a story down if there are too many of them.

Another thing I noticed is that my characters tended to sigh and nod a lot.  Now, this isn’t all that different from what we do in real life (just think about how many times you nod in the course of a conversation), but if a writer puts every single nod into the text, it can get distracting.  Same thing goes with sighing, or taking a deep breath, or being silent for a moment, etc…  While we want our dialogue and associated actions to be believable, there is such a thing as too much detail.  (And, by cutting out all of the deep sighs, I’m conserving oxygen, hehe.)

Finally, there are the “he said,” “to him,” and other little tags that we put into our dialogue, a lot of which aren’t needed.  This is especially true if there are only two characters in the scene.  Here’s a quick and dirty example:

“Hi, Jenny,” Bill said as he walked up to her.
“Hi, Bill,” Jenny said.  “How’s it going?”
“Oh, it’s okay,” he said.  “How about you?”
“I’m good,” she said.
“So, how’s your mom doing?” he asked her.
“She’s doing great,” she told him.  “Thanks for asking.”

This could just as easily have been written:

“Hi, Jenny,” Bill said as he walked up to her.
“Hi, Bill.  How’s it going?”
“Oh, it’s okay.  How about you?”
“I’m good.”.
“So, how’s your mom doing?”
“She’s doing great.  Thanks for asking.”

Okay, so it’s not the greatest example, but do you see how, even when the tags are left off, you still know who’s talking?  Removing unneeded tags also speeds up the dialogue instead of bogging it down.  Read the second section, and then go back and read the first section again.  See the difference?  Now if this were to turn into a long discussion, you would want to add some sort of tag every so often, either dialogue tag or motion element, so that the reader doesn’t lose track of who’s speaking.  But for sections like this, a lot of those tags can be tossed out the window.

Enough for today. Have a good one!
Dave

Every day, every moment, is another step on the journey. Are your steps taking you in the direction you want to go?

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Let the carnage begin

Posted by Dave on March 21, 2010

Okay, the time has come to pull Jaben’s Rift back out of cyber mothballs.  It’s been sitting (with me trying very hard not to think about it) for almost four weeks.  Now it’s time to start snipping, chopping, shredding, ripping, and whatever else it takes in order to turn it into something readable.  I’ll be trimming away the fat, working on dialogue, getting rid of excessive adverbs, and dropping things that don’t add to the story.  The official starting word count (including chapter titles) is 125,295 words.  My target range is 90,000 to 110,000, which means trimming away about 20% of what I’ve written. Oh, the pain!  Too dramatic?

It’s really amazing, though, what you can get rid of or move.  On JR, I tended to edit as I went.  I remember one section that I went over a couple of years ago, that I dropped from 1,100 words to 300.  Looking back, I realize I had fallen into a trap that catches a lot of writers (especially new writers, such as yours truly), that of the dreaded info dump. 

An info dump, sometimes called a data dump, happens when a writer is so eager to make sure the reader understands the story and main character that they throw every detail of the character and his or her motivation into one long section of prose right at the beginning.  The problem is that’s not how we get to know people in real life.  In fact, part of the fun of a relationship is the time it takes to learn about the other person.  It’s that way in books too.  Dump everything about the character out at the beginning, and there’s nothing left for the reader to anticipate learning about them, no questions for which the reader can anticipate answers. 

So, for any prospective fiction writers out there, take a little time giving out the information about your characters and the situations they’re in.  Give us just enough to get us interested, and then dole it out in little bits and pieces, in either dialogue, or memories, or inner thoughts, whatever.  Don’t dump it all on your reader at once, no matter how tempting it may be.

******

We interrupt our normally scheduled blog for the following quick rant. 

Attention Google!  I am so tired of running a search on your engine and clicking on a link only to have it take me to some other page full of “related links.”  Then I have to click on the “back” button and click on the first link again in order to get to the page I wanted to go to in the first place.  Oh, it only happens once in a while, but it’s still annoying!  Instead of hijacking my web surfing, how about you just put the link to your “page o’ links” on the search results and let me make my own decision, thank you very much. 

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

******

Alright, since I’ll be using my time to edit Jaben’s Rift, the next novel will be placed on hold for now.  Once I have JR ready, a synopsis written, and my query ready, I’ll get back on the second one.  It’s almost 16,500 words now.  Better than last week, but still a little off the pace.  Once JR is edited and the best I can make it, I’ll need to hit this next one even harder.

Hope your weekend was a great one,

Dave

Dreams that are never dreamed can never come true.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Distractions, distractions…

Posted by Dave on March 14, 2010

Please don’t take what I’m about to say the wrong way because I love my children dearly, but I’m really wondering if they had a bet this week about which one could make me stroke out first.  First, I check my daughter’s grades online, only to find almost a dozen missing homework assignments threatening to put her grades in the cellar (there went her social calendar).  Then, my son gets into a fight at school.  The next day my daughter loses her brand new cell phone that we just got her.  I always thought it was an old wives’ tale about going grey overnight.  Now I’m not so sure.  I know that this is miniscule compared to what some parents have to deal with, but with it just coming out of the blue like that from two normally very good kids was a little surprising (and distracting).  But, everything’s been dealt with and we’re back on an even keel now.

Well, the annual let’s-all-set-our-clocks-ahead has come around.  So, back to going to work in the dark.  On the plus side, though, it will be light an hour later, which means that I’ll be able to start heading back to the track.  I started jogging late last summer, and took off a few pounds (which were gifted right back to me over the holidays).  I’m hoping the earlier start this year will help me reach my goal of dropping 25-30 pounds.  I played in a fund raiser dodgeball tournament this past Saturday, and believe me, I need to put in some time working out.

The writing took a hit this week.  Only added another 1,000 words.  Up to 13,800 now.  I need to learn to make myself write no matter what else is going on.  Either that, or work on another project when I hit a block on my main one, which is part of what happened this week.  But I’ve told myself I’m not going to use the minor irritations as excuses anymore.  Bottom line is that I fell down on the job this week.  I’ll have to hit it even harder this week, ‘cause next week I start revising Jaben’s Rift.  At that point, my next book will be on hold for a bit while I get the first one ready and start sending out queries as soon as it’s done.  I’m ready to start editing it now, but I’m going to make myself wait one more week.  Remember, Dave, patience is a virtue.

Okay, enough for now.  Back to the book.

Hope you had a great weekend,

Dave

I rite….the editor spells.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Slow motion

Posted by Dave on March 12, 2010

One of the things I noticed as I got closer and closer to the end of Jaben’s Rift, is that I started writing less and less.  Oh, I came up with the typical excuses.  The kids are too noisy, my job’s stressing me out, I’m too tired, I don’t have enough time, blabbidy, blabbidy, blah.  Maybe all those things were true, but that’s not why I wasn’t writing.  The real reason was that, once the book was finished, then it was time to either put up or shut up.  I couldn’t say “I’m writing my first book” any more.  The book would be done, and I would have to face the real world of publishing and find out if my stuff was good enough for someone to take a chance on.

I read on an agent’s blog where her agency receives almost 500 queries a month.  Of that number, they typically reject 90%.  Of the survivors that get to send in their manuscripts, only one or two are actually ready to be pitched to a publisher.  And there’s no guarantee that any publishers are going to want the one or two.  Sounds depressing, doesn’t it?  I worked in Vegas casinos for six years, and let me tell ya, those aren’t good odds.

Fortunately, it’s not a numbers game.  It’s not about beating the odds, it’s about writing a good book.  It’s about getting something into a publisher’s hands that they think might have a chance of making more money than they spend on it. 

Is Jaben’s Rift good?  I think so, but I’m hardly impartial.  I wouldn’t have written it if I didn’t think it was good.  So, my job is to make sure it’s as technically correct, as close to a publishable form as possible, before it crosses an agent’s desk.

So, what if it doesn’t get selected for publication?  Do I give up because I obviously don’t know how to write?  Do I lock myself in a closet for a couple of days while I think about how unfair it all is? 

No, because somewhere along the way I figured out that, while it would be awesome to get published and make a few bucks writing, that wasn’t why I was doing it.  I found out that I enjoy telling the story.  I like creating new worlds for new characters to explore.  The writing became the end, not the means. 

So, maybe I am a writer after all.  Will you ever see my stuff at Barnes & Noble or Waldenbooks?  Who knows?  I hope so.  But the stories will be told whether they’re on the bookstore shelves, or just sitting in my computer. 

 TGIF,

Dave

Be yourself.  You’re the only one of you there is.  (Unless you count parallel universes.)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »