August 5, 2010

The Neverending Queries

Hey,  guys.  Afraid my discovery of Facebook and Twitter have made me pretty scarce in here.  Going to try to correct that.

I'm still shopping STEALING GENIUS around for representation.  I've got three fulls out right now and I'm still waiting to hear on a few queries.  I'm still really optimistic and I still firmly believe that SG is a helluva book.

Life has been getting in the way pretty good on the new book, but I'm hoping to rectify that soon.

In other news, I've been installing a pool in my backyard for about a month now.  (Hey, whaddya want?  I'm a writer.)  Hoping to finish soon so my daughter can  have a pool party before school starts up again.

Speaking of which, is it just me or are all writers disturbingly excited when the back to school supplies show up in the stores?  Loves me some papyrus!

Ciao.

April 3, 2010

Hard At Work

The astute among us has no doubt noticed the removal of the SLAYBELLS project from the sidebar.  There's a long story behind that project and it holds a special place in my heart.  If there was any way to bring it to fruition, I'd work on it day and night.  Unfortunately, it just isn't meant to be.  Originally a novella I wrote years ago, I actually sold it to a magazine back then.  Sadly, before it had a chance to appear, the magazine ran into trouble.  They offered me 10% of the signed contract to publish it and I (foolishly) said no and pulled it.  Hey, I was young and stupid.  As opposed to now, where I'm old and stupid.  Life goes on -- but not for SLAYBELLS.

You'll also notice, hopefully, that a NEW project has appeared in the sidebar.  This is the next book I'll be working on, with a self-imposed deadline to start the actual writing of April 15th.  It's in the planning stages now and great things seem to be happening.  I've always wanted to find a character I could use through several books, and this time I think I've found him.  I don't want to reveal TOO much at this point (for fear if I talk about it too much, I won't feel like writing it) but I suppose a little won't hurt. :)

The new book, as you can see, has a working title of AIN'T NO GRAVE DEEP ENOUGH.  It's set (mostly) in Huntsville, Alabama.  For now I'm keeping details about the story, itself, under wraps.  The book's protagonist ("hero" may be going too far) is named Jackson Travis, though most people he knows just calls him JT.  In a tweet: Alabama Private Detective Jackson "JT" Travis has a head full of shrapnel and a belly full of horse sense.

That's pretty much all I want to say about the series until I get some significant page counts going.  I'll keep the sidebar status updated, of course.  If it doesn't show, I'm VERY excited about this one!

Of course, I am continuing to shop STEALING GENIUS around.  As a matter of fact, the phenomenal blog The Kill Zone, home of the crazy-good thriller writers Clare Langley-Hawthorne, Joe Moore, Kathryn Lilley, Michelle Gagnon, John Gilstrap, John Ramsey Miller and James Scott Bell recently offered to critique thriller first pages for the first 30 brave souls to send one in.  Being a glutton for punishment, I immediately sent in the first page from STEALING GENIUS. (The title is on the blog, but they were kind enough to allow submitters to remain anonymous.)  SG was the second submission critiqued and received a wonderful write-up from Michelle Gagnon.  (They're taking turns doing the critques, but the others seem to chime in heartily in the comments.)  Everyone had some suggestions, but the concensus was that I did a good job achieving what every novelist wants to achieve -- making readers want to turn to the next page.  I am humbled by their kindness.  These are truly great people, which I think says a lot about why their writing (and their blog!) is so good.

And now, I have some planning to do. 

March 24, 2010

Misguided Aggression

Apparently there's a big kerfuffle going on right now over at Amazon.com. Certain books are getting a raft of one star reviews, drastically lowering their overall ranking. Theoretically, this is leading to less sales of those lower-ranked titles. Less theoretically, the result of all the single star reviews is intentional. The reason for this boycott that isn't really a boycott? Those books aren't available in Kindle-form.

Now, this is far from the first issue to arise from Amazon's reader reviews (search on Amazon and Anne Rice for an example), but it is the latest to highlight one of the reasons I don't like ebooks: they give the appearance of a major layer between the author and the reader not existing. I have no doubt that most readers think authors are just uploading their books and pocketing the money from sales of their ebooks. So of course they're going to assume that the lack of a kindle version of a book when other forms are available is a deliberate move on the author's part, which couldn't be farther from the truth.

I don't believe ebooks, themselves, are the next evil to beseige publishing. In fact, there are cases (and a lot of them) where ebooks make complete sense. Specifically, referential texts and for people who travel and can't bring their paper books with them. No, it's not really ebooks I have a problem with, but the way they're being positioned. If you listen to anyone (or read any blogs) it would appear that "ebooks are paper book killers!". Which is stupid. Paper books aren't going anywhere.

Ebooks, in reality, are just another form for stories to take, just like paperbacks and audiobooks. Why every new thing has to be an [insert name of old thing] killer nowadays, I have no idea. Was television the death of movies? Is snowboarding the death of skiing? Of course not.

No, paper books will weather this storm just fine. The current generation of authors, on the other hand, may not.

And to those perpetrating this attack, that thing on your neck isn't just to fill hats. Do you really think a handful of authors complaining to their publishers will have the same effect as all of you doing something useful like writing letters to those same publishers?

March 13, 2010

Round Two

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more.

I finished the rewrite of Stealing Genius a few weeks ago. It came in at a svelt 105,000 words. Shocking when you remember that the first draft came in at just over 165,000 words. I have to be honest, I think the more natural length for this book (and thrillers in general) is around 140k, but it would appear the market doesn't agree with me. Especially for first novels. In any case, it's done.

To go with this new version, of course, is a new round of queries. That's what I've been doing the past couple weeks: new query, new synopsis, new agents. And unlike last time, I didn't just focus on the agents who take email queries this time. And my wallet reflects this. Including the partials, it cost me almost $50 for this round of queries. A huge amount, considering the first round cost $0. The ironic thing is that I'm hoping it's going to cost me even more before I'm done. Hopefully I'll be posting more partials and fulls over the coming weeks.

At the moment, I've got 6 partials and 1 full out to agents. Along with a bunch of queries. I'll be updating the status here as it changes. But now I'm trying to focus on new work.

I've added a project on the right called Slaybells. It's a new novel I'm hoping will come in around 75-80K. It's another thriller, but a much different one from Stealing Genius. Slaybells is set entirely in Los Angeles and centers around a broken cop chasing a killer who makes things a little too personal. It's about half done, but is a really disorganized mess right now. After what I just went through writing the synopsis for Stealing Genius, I'm thinking about writing the synopsis for Slaybells now, rather than after the book's written. I think it would really help with my organization issue, too. We'll see.

By the way, if you can identify where the opening quote for this post is from, I'll give you extra cookies at snack time. No fair googling. And begin.

November 18, 2009

Like Father like Daughter...ah, crap

Time for some progeny bragging. A large part of my daughter, Kiersten's, homework this year has been something called narratives. Sort of little stories not worried about beginnings or ends. She's been working hard on them and actually got an A+ on the last one, which involved vampire gummie bears.

She absolutely LOVES Capcom's Resident Evil franchise (so much so, that she asked for an early Christmas present of a Wii so she could play the new Resident Evil game that just came out, doing every chore she could find in the house and then some to make her point...but that's another story). In any case, for her most recent narrative she's writing about what happened to the R.E. characters between version #2 and #3 of the game. It always bugged her that the game developers just dropped a bunch of stuff during that time, so she decided to write about what the characters were doing in the time in between.

I'm getting asked questions like "how do you put gas in a motorcycle?" and "how many G's in lunge?". Gotta love it.

Of course, as a mostly frustrated writer I want to tell her to go do something else, but I won't. She's in for a world of hurt, but she needs to find that out on her own. For now, I'm just proud. Damn proud.

October 28, 2009

Castle Tightpants

If you're a writer, a fan of Nathan Fillion or if you have any taste at all, you're no doubt a fan of the ABC show CASTLE. For me, it's right up there with Mad Men and FlashForward as the best show on television this year. And it just keeps getting better.

The CASTLE Halloween episode was on earlier this week, and while it was an awesome episode in its own right, the opening had a special touch for all the Browncoats out there. Watch the video below and you'll see why Firefly fans need to be Castle fans.

October 16, 2009

Where you at?

I'm right here, something wrong with your eyes?

Okay, okay. I've been busy on a rewrite of Stealing Genius. After the, oh I don't know, 723rd request/comment on my novel's length, I decided it had to go on a serious diet. Really, it had been in the back of my mind for a while, but then I received a specific partial request if I could cut 20K from the book. So I gave in and figured I'd take a couple days to carve out the most egregiously boring parts before sending in the partial.

That was three weeks ago. And I'm half done. To date, I've cut about 25K. Granted, the first half had the most significant cuts, and subsequent requirements for scene mending and recreation. The way things are going, it will probably be another couple weeks. By then I should have cut a total of around 35K, putting the manuscript at just under 105K. Not only much more marketable, but right at the length books of this genre are expected to be at the moment.

Once I'm done, I'm going to send out another round of queries and try to forget about this book. I need to write something else. I mean NEED. I typed the first words of Stealing Genius on November 3rd, 2008. Under a year to being done--really done--is okay. Over a year and I'm afraid I'm going to become one of those writers you run into at conventions who wants to tell you about the book they've been writing for the past seventeen years. In them, it makes me want to cry. In me? Well, let's just say it rhymes with cry.

In the interim, thanks to Nathan Bransford's blog, I discovered wordle.net, and ran the last draft of Stealing Genius through it. Here it is for your visual enjoyment: