In writing, sometimes you just have to get back to basics. I’ve been banging my head against the wall for some time. It turns out that the answer to my problem was pretty simple. In fact, I posted it to my Instagram feed:
Courtesy of My New Dry Erase Board
Something Goes Wrong! Of course! That’s just what I needed. It seems so obvious now, but the truth is it took my friend and fellow writer Dmitri Del Castillo to help ferret it out. He’s great at that sort of thing.
Hey folks, it’s time for another scatter shot post. First up:
OK, how did I miss this? When did Dobby sign with The Stones? To refresh your memory, here he is in one of the Potter films:
And here is is playing guitar with Mick Jagger in the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief.
Mick’s on the left, Dobby’s on the right.
It’s great to see that even a house elf can get a leg up in the world.
I’ve been working on my first novel, a SciFi book about a PI who gets dragged into something much bigger than he thought. All he wants is to drink his strained-algae coffee, but it turns out he’s going to have to save the world. It’s called The Mason Truman Project, and I’ve blogged about it several times.
I finished the book early last spring, and I’ve been working on refining it off an on since , while I also worked on the second book in the series. I started shopping it out in June, resulting in another raft of fine editing.
I’ve had a fantastic group of beta readers. I’m lucky enough to know lots of very smart folks, and it turns out my mother thinks my book is the bee’s knees. Thanks, Mom!
I’ve also been fortunate to meet some fellow writers, and between the betas and my writer friends, I came to a realization a few weeks ago: I’ve written the book I want to read, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the book I can sell.
There were two problems, the beginning and the ending. OK, those are two huge problems, but let me explain. The beginning of my book is what I think of as a slow burner. The story unfolds organically in a deliberate way while Mason figures out how to get started on the case that gets him entangled with all this messy end-of-the-world stuff that interrupts his coffee time.
So there’s this thing called a blog hop, sort of an informal ring of unrelated sites posting on a related theme. In this case, the blog hop is for writers and the theme is our work-in-progress, meaning the book we’re writing. I found out about it from Diane Carlisle.
As I understand it, the rules are simple:
• Answer the ten questions (see below) about your current W.I.P. (Work In Progress) on your blog.
• Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.
It’s been a busy couple of weeks since my last post. The biggest thing has been the rollout of a new site design and engine at The Mac Observer. Dave Hamilton, Adam Christianson, and Eddie Machado of outside design firm Themble did an amazing job of bringing The Mac Observer into the present.
We also brought back the TMO Spin, a vehicle for our news guys to add perspective, context, and opinion to our news coverage separate from writing up the straight new itself. In that the thing that most interests me in my day job is the analysis side of things, I am super stoked we did that.
But, it’s kept me very busy. Then there was Apple’s iPhone 5 media event and all of the extra news generated by that. The spec comparison I wrote on Friday alone was a 12 hour task, and that’s not counting after-the-fact corrections and responding to comments.
Hence, the lack of updates.
I haven’t made a post in a few days, mainly because I didn’t have a lot to specifically say. As I was trying to think of what to write about, I realized I should rip off John Martellaro, my friend and colleague at The Mac Observer.
He does something called Particle Debris, a weekly column where he throws in whatever he came across throughout the week that didn’t warrant a standalone article. I think I’ll call mine…Scatter Shot. That’ll do for now, at least. I can’t promise to do it weekly, but periodically seems doable.
Quadrophenia on Blu-ray by Criterion
I have been waiting for this since I learned what the Criterion Collection was! The company announced it was releasing Quadrophenia last month, and I immediately ordered the Blu-ray version. It shipped a couple of days ago. Man, oh man, but I can NOT wait!
Jimmy’s Not Having a Good Day
The title is a lie, because I am totally stoked! On Monday morning, I got my first request for a partial! That’s publishing speak for when an author is asked to provide anything less than a full manuscript to an agent or publishing editor, and it’s the first possible step towards getting an agent.
Here’s what I sent him:
How can this not get me representation, right?! It’s illustrated!
Here’s how it works. An aspiring author—that’s me—sends a query letter to an agent. As mentioned in previous posts, I began sending out query letters about six weeks ago. This is a long, drawn out process for just about all new authors, and it can take many, many query letters and sometimes years of effort to finally land an agent, let alone a publishing deal.
I’ve been pretty busy for the last few weeks, starting with sending out a new round of query letters. I’ve found five really kick ass agents to start with, with four queries still out there. With any luck, one of them will request a partial or the full manuscript, and I am hopeful.
Interestingly, the third agent I queried effectively wanted everything an agent might want: a query letter, a synopsis, the first three chapters, and a separate bio. Note that a query letter typically has a very short synopsis/description along with a short bio included, so there’s a little redundancy there, but that’s the nature of the beast.
In any event, I mention it because it turns out that writing a real synopsis is frakking hard. Taking a 119,000 word story and condensing it to 3,200 words while keeping some style, voice, and personality in it is just obscenely hard. You have to get all the major ups and downs of the plot, mention all the main characters—but not to many, mind you, and make sure you aren’t leaving anything out.
Artist’s Rendition of My Synopsis
Man, oh man! I finally sent out my first query letter to an agent last night. I’m a delightful mix of giddy, nervous, excited, anxious, fearful, trepidatious, and ARRRGGGGHHHH!!!
For those who aren’t familiar with the publishing process, a query letter is sort of a writer’s elevator pitch for a book. It can include a brief introduction and any credentials that you think are pertinent to finding success as a writer, but it must include a very brief synopsis of your full book.
Thanks to Nathan Bransford for all the awesome advice to new writers on his blog, I now know these things. Robert J. Sawyer also has some great advice on his site.
I agonized over each aspect of this, my first query letter, and was lucky to have a few friends and associates help me tweak it. One’s query letter is, in some ways, as important as your novel, because you only get one first impression with a potential agent. If you can’t get an agent excited about your project at this stage, you won’t get another opportunity.
Of course, the vast majority of query letters are rejected, but you have to start somewhere! I’m just glad I was able to get this part of the process rolling.
OK, I know I’ve said that I was finished with my novel a couple times, but this time it’s true! No, really! Actually, they were all true, but “through” is so relative. The first time I was “through,” it was finishing the story, getting that last word in Scrivener.
But from there came some heavy rounds of editing, followed by focusing on serious refinements. When I was “through” with that, the book went out to all my beta readers—and let me say again that you guys are beyond awesome—for as nit picky feedback as I could get.
As this was happening, I had more refinements for later in the story pop into my head, plus I got some great feedback (and an excellent copy edit from Dan). So, then it was time for one last start-to-finish edit.
Once I was “through” with that, I decided I wanted to make some changes to the prologue. This included some foundation changes to one of the military arms in my story. Then I had some other refinements for other parts of the story…