It’s Not You, It’s Me

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.

What Exactly Does ‘Being Through’ Mean?

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.

Stick a fork in it!

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…

With a Little Help…

It was a dark and stormy night...

I’ve gotten a lot of help from some amazing friends and colleagues getting my novel to where it is (that is, ready for an agent), but this week I’ve been lucky enough to get input from two new beta readers.

On Wednesday, I spent a couple of hours talking to a fellow aspiring writer, and she gave me some very insightful observations that are going to allow me to make a couple of excellent refinements. Better yet, she’s going to let me beta read some of her own stuff, and I suspect that will be a good process for both of us. All of my beta readers have been fantastic, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to have another writer to talk to.

On Thursday, I got the results of the first copy-edit from another friend. He caught a number of really awful typos (its/it’s, their/there), missing words, double words, some mixed up subjects, and what I thought were some amazingly eagle-eyed grammar catches. He also had some very nice things to say about the story, which is always nice to hear, and offered up some insightful commentary on things that I found quite helpful.

Again, I’ve been very, very lucky to have so many people encourage me and help me with this project, and I wouldn’t have gotten even this far without them.

Pics from the Eclipse

I took some pics of the eclipse from May 20th with a friend of mine. I tried to take blind pics of the Sun itself, but without anything even approximating the proper filters, I didn’t get much.

In any event, major eclipses apparently play havoc with shadows. Who knew? It also turns out that taking a picture of a shadow is easier than taking photos of the Sun without any filters.  Again, who knew?

Oh, and I’ve no idea how the refracted image of the partially occluded Sun got into that image.


Mountain View Cemetery

Not too long ago, I went to the Mountain View Cemetery to take some photos. This place was built in 1863 and was designed by  Frederick Law Olmsted, the same chap that designed Central  Park in New York City.

It was a product of the Transcendentalist movement, and was intended to be part park and part cemetery.  If you’re able to visit it, this will make sense, because it is beautiful—I’m very glad a friend of mine talked me into going.

I only saw a tiny corner of the place, and I plan on going back sometime this summer. In the meanwhile, here are some of the pics I took.

For those keeping score at home, these were shot with a Nikon D70 with an 85mm f/1.4 lens.


The Game of Thrones is Dead – Long Live The Song of Ice & Fire!

WARNING: There are spoilers galore for The Game of Thrones, The Song of Ice and Fire, and even The Lord of The Rings contained herein. Read at your own peril.

Update: I added a little section on Jeyne Westerling. As noted above, don’t read it if you don’t want spoilers!

The Game of Thrones is dead. The TV show, I mean. It’s dead to me. It’s become a big pile of poop interspersed with gleaming nuggets of gold.

Oh, I loved the first season, which tracked the titular first novel, The Game of Thrones, of The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. It was gorgeous, and beautifully created. The actors were mostly wonderful, and when the producers made changes to the source material, those changes made sense and were understandable.

Season two, which roughly tracks the second book in the series, A Clash of Kings, has introduced a variety of changes to the source material that do not make sense.

Catching Up

I think I should probably catch you up  a bit, because there have been a lot of big changes for me since I was regularly posting here in…what? 2008? It’s been a while.

In 2009, Darla and I had to put down Chandler Bing, my (he had become our) Yellow Lab. A couple of months later, Darla and I divorced. The Country Music Standards & Essentials Bureau contacted me shortly thereafter letting me know my life was officially eligible to be a bad country song with the proviso that it would behoove me should anything unfortunate befall my car within a 90-day period.

Chandler Bing (& Yellow Weiner Dog) in 2008. R.I.P., Mr. Bing! We Miss You!

Chandler Bing (& Yellow Wiener Dog) in 2008. R.I.P., Mr. Bing! We Miss You!

Let It Burn - The Atomic Love Bombs

Let It Burn, by The Atomic Love Bombs

In 2009, The Atomic Love Bombs released its first CD, Let It Burn. It is a great album, and I was proud  to be a part of it, but in 2010, I left the band. We were working on some great songs—Joe’s an amazing songwriter—and you can hear one of them, “Sol Invictus,” on the band’s Facebook page. It’s a great song and hopefully they will record more.

Grits & Chops!

I’m in the middle of an eight week self-imposed program of learning/cooking one new recipe per week. Well, not really the middle, this was the second week.

Anyway, I started off with chicken korma, because, you know, it was way above my cooking ability. Fortunately it worked out despite my lack of skills.

So for the second week, I went for The Pioneer Woman’s awesome Pork Chops with Apples & Creamy Bacon Cheese Grits.

This was an amazing dish, and the folks I was cooking for really enjoyed it. Better yet, I enjoyed it!

Grits & Chops