Thursday, July 15, 2010

What To Do While I'm Waiting

I finished the re-write of DEATHBLOW yesterday and have it out to a few readers of varying interests and critical styles, so I should get a good cross section of comment. In the meanwhile, what to do? I think I'll take a week off and catch up on all sorts of roundtoit administrative things that have been piling up. (Including tornado pick-up.) After that, I may go back and add some to SLEEPER. The idea being to keep myself busy until feedback on DEATHBLOW comes in.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Short Observations

A short piece I wrote two years ago about fairies at the bottom of my garden keeps popping into my head. I wonder if someday it becomes the first chapter of a fantasy book.

I am excessively fond of Robert B. Parker for many reasons. One is his style of having Spenser use pantywaist words to describe his huge manliness. It's a lovely author's device.

While researching current definitions of "high concept," I was reminded that the most egregious example of a high concept statement was the title of the movie "Snakes On A Plane."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Offered a Contract

I was recently offered a contract to publish NICE GIRLS DON'T BITE---and turned it down. After all the querying and fussing, it seems like an insane thing to do, doesn't it?

From time to time one can find advice on the Internet insisting that no agent is better than a poor agent. I guess now I'm here to tell you that I think no publishing contract is better than a poor publishing contract.

There were so many aspects of this contract that hit me negatively, and I don't want to be boring with all the details. Generally speaking, the publishing company wanted to buy the copyright outright, the book would not be offered in any retail outlets, the novel would have to be trimmed by 15,000 words to fit the publisher's eBook format, and eBook copies would be offered only from my and the publisher's web site.

Actually, I'm about ready to tuck Nice Girls away for a few years. So may of my queries have yielded requests for more pages, and then nothing, that it's about time to wake up and smell the coffee. The book isn't good enough.

Monday, July 5, 2010

First Draft Finished

Yesterday I finished the first draft of DEATHBLOW. Now I'm eager to get to re-writing. I have a nice fat list of things I want to correct, watch for, tighten, revise, improve and add in. The first draft is a little over 67,000 words. When re-writing is finished, I'm guessing it will end up around 70,000.

I started writing on December 13, and gave myself a deadline of July 24, my birthday, to complete the first draft. Twenty days ahead of schedule. I hope finishing early is good.

I'm reminded of an old Shelley Berman routine where he's on a plane flying to the west coast and the pilot announces that they'll be landing 20 minutes early. The comedian says, "That fills me with terror. We could land two hours early if he puts it down in Grand Canyon."

Friday, July 2, 2010

Accepting Criticism

This past month I have been unsuccessfully trying to advise a Beginning Novelist. She is searching for someone who will read her completed novel and give opinions about the plot development and inherent appeal. Several people have read the first chapter and discovered she is not at all at a point where that sort of assessment is needed. Obvious from the first 30 pages, her writing is filled with inconsistencies, lack of transitions, confusing descriptions, inaccurate word choices and out-of-character dialogue. I, and other writers, have communicated to her that she needs to solve many basic problems before she worries about finding someone to assess her novel overall.

Our Beginning Novelist's reaction is that she will solve these "minor" problems later on, and those who have pointed out the places in her first chapter that need work need to learn how to give proper feedback. She continued to challenge our writers' network regarding someone to read the whole novel.

We finally found a fellow writer who volunteered to read the whole book and we put Beginning Novelist in touch with her. BN asked this Volunteer Reader for her qualifications, editing experience, and publishing history before things went any farther. Volunteer Reader abandoned all interest in the project.

Beginning Novelist is being as foolish as many beginning writers can be. She's very aggressive for what she thinks she needs. It is hoped that someday she will wake up, smell the coffee and become just as aggressive for improvement.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

My Own Voice? Style?

So many agents and writing advisors urge us to write in our own voice. I haven't the foggiest idea what "my own voice" is. I don't consciously write in a particular "voice," I just write what I want to tell.

I have, however, figured out what my own "style" is. It came about when a writer friend of mine read something of mine with no name on it, buried in a pile of other somethings of others. She said she recognized my style immediately. That got me to thinking, because I also didn't have the foggiest what my own style was. After much thinking, I believe I have nailed down a definition of my particular style. It's heavy on dialogue, light on descriptions, and is broken into short pieces--much as a screenwriter would write, I assume.

Yes, it may sometimes leave the reader filling in the blanks, but I feel that's what a lot of really sharp writers do. Writers of genre mystery, anyway. Mainstream may be different.