Saturday, June 30, 2007
Since I have no witty stories to share, or insightful words of wisdom I'm gonna talk about what I've been thinking about.
A River Without Water - This is the novel I am currently querying for and after the recent comments I am in the process of rereading the manuscript while trying to remedy a few problems recently pointed out. Here is a brief description that I sue in my query. If anyone feels compelled to comment let me know -- and don't be shy with criticism.
Fed up with running from the past, Lindsay Parker recruits a stranger to drive her cross-country to confront her father. As they travel Lindsay and the stranger, Blue Riggins discover a common theme to their heartache, as well as a growing attraction for one another.
Lindsay Parker has always run. As a young girl, she ran to feel free and alive. As a teenager, she chased glory in the track world. At seventeen, she slowed long enough for Rusty Hawkins to sweet talk her into the backseat of his Trans-Am. For the last nine years Lindsay has simply ran away. Away from one failed relationship after another. Away from her father in Oklahoma. Away from the abortion, she will never forget.
Blue Riggins is a man others envy for his stout physical stature, confident, firm demeanor, and ice-cool approach to adversity. A rodeo star turned pro poker player, he knows this entire persona is merely a bluff. The only real thing in his life vanished four years ago when his wife died in childbirth. Since then, he has allowed no one to get close, including his young daughter.
As they travel across the west, Lindsay and Blue face the rigors of the road, well-meaning but misguided friends, and meddlesome family members, but the truth awaiting Lindsay’s homecoming might be more than their newfound love can overcome.
My as yet untitled work in progress- I'm five chapters in, about 15,000 words of what will be somewhere in the neighborhood of 90,000, I think. Again a short description.
Sex is ruining Grace's life.
Her sixty seven year old nymph mother is about to get kicked out of the retirement village for loud and frequent love sessions.
Her fifteen year old son is dying for his first taste.
The barn cats insist on using the area beneath her window as their brothel.
And then their is her husband, Royce McEwen.
From Royce's bull semen empire, to his belief that there isn't any conflict between a man a woman that cannot be settled by a good roll in the hay. The problem is Royce seems to be in "conflict" with lots of women.
I'm not quite ready to add the major hook to this description, but I will say Grace's plans to remedy her sex quandary will definitely shake things up for all these characters. This WIP has been a challenge for me, but now I've introduced the characters, written a chapter in every POV characters perspective, and solved a few of the problems dogging me so I have hopes the pace will pick up.
Sick of reading about my writing world yet? Too bad I have one more.
Plundered Booty - This one is my anomaly. Plundered Booty is a 8,000 word short story I penned a few months back. Originally, it started out as an exercise to help me develop a more humorous tone to my writing. Despite the content of this blog I have a tendency to write dark -- too dark for the taste of some. Anyway, Plundered Booty will never be confused for Women's Fiction so that is why I say it is an anomaly.
I never meant the story to see the light of day but then something weird happened. I made myself laugh writing it. I finished the thing. I read it and thought now that's pretty good if I do say so myself. Then I let others read it. They laughed. Some said this is the best thing you've ever written. Then my friend Debbie Elliott-Upton through down a challenge. Flesh it out. I DARE YOU to turn it into a novel.
Now I've never been one to turn down a healthy dare so that too is in the works. I know the story and the characters but I am struggling to find the exact right starting place for Plundered Booty - The Novel. In case you're wondering it's a modern day pirate story involving car dealers, Caribbean Rum and ... well plundered booties. Here is the first line of the short story.
I took one look at her and knew she would cost one of the guys their marriage. I just didn’t realize -- that guy would be me.
So that is what's up in my world. Would love to hear y'alls initial reaction to any of these projects, good and bad. Remember, I once was a high school football referee -- in Texas -- where Friday night Football is king. There is nothing any agent, editor, or blog reader can say to offend. Trust me when I say I heard much worse out there amongst the painted lines of the football field, and that was from the player's grandmothers.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Let me catch you up. Remember The Call? Well this week I got The Email, which dashed the hope I'd allowed to seep in. Of course all rejections are a bit deflating and at least for me rejections on the complete manuscript are even more so. You have no excuse to fall back on ... Well it was just a query letter If they read my actual writing, or, It was just a partial, if only they would have read a bit more. But when they request and read the entire thing ... There is no way to explain it away. The novel simply did not work well enough for that person and that particular day. Sure it hurts to hear no, but after that initial punch in the gut you have to sit back and say why.
Now I'm lucky, this particular agent went out of her way to tell me why. She gave me some really insightful comments that I can use not only to correct this MS but also to improve my writing on down the road. She also ended by saying she would like to read any future projects I might have.
Rejection is a way of life for writers, at least those who strive for publication.
Some people react by doing this.
I am not one of those people. Strangely after the initial jolt of disappointment, my determination kicks in. I start analyzing the comments. Try to figure out how to improve the piece,or decide if it is worth revising. Sometimes you have to move on and concentrate on the next idea. Take what you learn and use it to your advantage. That is where I'm at right now. I'll continue this post tomorrow and I'm even going to solicit a bit of advice from all of y'all.
I know this post isn't the most exiting or even humorous, but I wanted to get something out there. To let those who know me and have offered words of encouragement this week that I am not hanging my head in defeat or off int he corner licking my wounds. No, I am deep in contemplation and forming a new battle plan. My motivation level has never been higher. Rejections aren't signs of failure but merely indications you are out there trying.
Monday, June 25, 2007
Anyway the deal was my heart would suddenly start racing. One one visit to the ER they clocked it at 278 beat per minute. Better than four a second. Over time they finally diagnosed me with something called Wolfe-Parkinson-White and scheduled me for this procedure where they went up the artery, or was it vein, in my groin and used a laser to burn some fibers in my heart which basically were causing a short circuit.
That said it does hurt like hell to wake while someone is scorching your heart. Like most everything in my life this story does have an absurd twist.
I'm a hairy guy. Besides the chin I have a good bit of fuzz elsewhere. Therefore they had to shave to round patches on my chest to place some kind of monitoring device.
After I got home from the hospital I thought it would be a good idea (don't ask me why) to shave a large arc across my stomach that dipped down below my belly button. In other words I created a happy face on the trunk of my body. I did this to show my wife, to get a chuckle from a select group of friends.
I assumed my belly and chest hair would grow rather rapidly like my beard and like the head on my hair. Here's a lesson. Never assume. Belly and chest hair grows extremely slow.
Several months later I return to the doctor for a check up. The nurse tells me to take off my shirt and hop up on the table.She takes one look at my artwork and in a flat deadpan voice says, "Oh, that's cute."
I'd forgotten about this until a friend reminded me the other day. Thought y'all might find it humorous.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Who are these women and what drives them to kill? Oxygen's hit true crime series Snapped in its 5th season, profiles the fascinating cases of women accused of murder. Did they really do it? And, if they did, why? Whether the motivation was revenge against a cheating husband, the promise of a hefty insurance payoff or putting an end to years of abuse, the reasons are as varied as the women themselves. From socialites to secretaries, female killers share one thing in common: at some point, they all Snapped.
Friday, June 22, 2007
Okay I admit it. I cheated. Last time I had on jeans, a belt, a cell phone in my pocket. This time I wore shorts, no socks, emptied the change and cell phone from my pockets, ditched the belt. next time I'll have to show up naked.
I'm adding two more novels to my list of books I've read since April 1st when I started this blog. Rain Fall by Barry Eisler. Action Thriller are not my normal genre, but I gotta say John Rain is an interesting character and I like the fact that the author fleshed him out so well. And I almost feel as if I could walk through Tokyo and know where I am due to Eisler's ability to set the scene. Who'd a thunk it? -- A likable political assasin.
I also read gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson. More along the lines of what i seek out to read and what I write this novel was extremely well done. Instead of saying why I liked it I'm going to give you the first line and say go buy it and read for yourself. I think is is one of the more intriguing first lines I've read. -- There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus. Add in a character whose is steadfast in her two promises to God , never to tell another lie and to stop fornicating , add in a bit of Southern humor, a dash of murder mystery, a lot of honest emotion and you have a heck of a novel.
Now on to the dreaded MEME. These things are all the rage I guess when it comes to blogs and in the past I have been negligent in answering the call to arms. But now my wife has tagged me with posting eight random habit or facts about myself. I could ignore her, but she has already threatened to post eight things herself if I don't do it. Now I doubt there are eight things about me that she doesn't know, (at least that I am willing to impart with on here) Right now there is a voice in the back of my head saying let sleeping dogs lay Travis, let sleeping dogs lay.
So even though none of these will come as a surprise to her , the rest of you might learn something interesting to hold against me later on down the road.
1)I am an avid sports fan but not nearly as much as I used to be. I am a long suffering New Orleans Saints fan, a Nebraska Cornhusker diehard, and sorry alternate fish, but a steadfast supporter of the Dallas Stars. Hockey is by far the funnest sport to actually play - right up to the point you break your leg that is.
2)I am late to work three days out of five, especially when my writing is going well. I often get up early to write and when the flow is going I hate, I repeat HATE to break off and go to work.
3)I am the most disorganized person you could ever meet. My toolbox at work is piled high with junk. My computer room is atrocious. About the only two things that are well laid out and organized are my fishing tackle box and my writing files.
4)I have the habit of talking too much. You know the box on your elementary school report card. The one that says failure to refrain from unnecessary talking. Never i repeat never did I not get a mark in that box. To this day my boss would check that box if they issued report cards at work. If I sit down on a bench beside a total stranger I'll be in the midst of a lengthy conversation within seconds. Or the person will get up and leave muttering, who is that crazy guy.
5)Fact are easier that habits so here is another. I once woke up in the middle of a medical procedure where they were using a laser to burn away nerve fibers in my heart. Yes it hurt like hell and even though the doctor told me you won't remember any of this when you wake up I do remember, right up until they overdosed me on morphine to knock me back out. Afterwards the doctor told my family that everything went well and that I was strong as a horse and I knew a lot of cuss words just as strong. I remember coming to and being lashed down the the bed like Gulliver.
6)I have a habit of letting my writing determine my real word mood. IF the writing is slow and sluggish so am I. If it is going great I'm in a good mood. IF I just killed off a character it would be best of you gave me a wide birth. Just kidding I rarely kill my characters, I just torture them emotionally.
7)If I'm not careful I write really long blog posting that I am certain no one reads to the end. This seems like a good place to test this theory. If you read this type I'm annoyed in the comment section.
8)I have a tendency to play the part of Sweden. When I have friends who are mad at each other or like people in both sides of a feud I try to bring them together, however sometimes my meddling lands me right smack dab in the middle with no easy way out.
BONUS FACT - I was the hairiest guy at the pool yesterday.
I am tagging no one but feel free to chime in with your own habits and random facts in the comments section.
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Yes, this is the same evil fella who suggested I lose fifty-five pounds.
The same delusional man who insinuated that a diet of beef jerky, red meat, fried potatoes, and Shiner Bock is not good for you.
The same cruel individual who told me to lose fifteen pounds before today's appointment or he was going to send me to his big-knuckled friend for a prostate exam.
The not-so-subtle motivation aside, I have not lost the fifteen pounds. Maybe eight, nine if I'm lucky.
After visiting the doc me and the family are heading off to the pool for a day of rest, relaxation and a cool, cool dip.
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
That brings me to my current post. Being a prepublished, or as Reid suggested in the comments yesterday, a prepaid writer feels just like being back in Junior High. All serious writers share the same goal -- Publication. All teenage boy share the same goal - to score their first action. Hey I 'm trying to keep this blog relatively clean, otherwise I'd have used a different less cliched description for the desires of a pre-experienced boy. (that's my new softer term for a virgin) Oh, so you didn't think virgin was a harsh word. See what happens to any teenage boy who admits to being one in the locker room after football practice.
Boys gather in groups to talk about girls and brag about what they would like to do to whom. Writers do this same thing via critique groups and online writing communities. Some even go so far as to tout experiences they've never actually had.
And trust me the first time I sat down and pitched my novel to an agent my hands were sweaty, my voice was quaky, and I rambled on in coherently about pretty much nothing.Not a bit different than what happened the first time I asked a girl out.
Over time we as hungry writers score a few victories. A contest win here, a request for a full there, maybe even a short story publication or two, but that main prize, our name on the spine of a novel still eludes us. I have a few comparisons I could use to relate the minor victories a horny teenager might encounter, but I think I'll leave them to y'alls imaginations.
Okay you pervs, quit daydreaming about days gone by and refocus on this blog.
At this point I've asked out a lot of girls . I mean agents and even a couple of editors. I have a few wink and say ooh I like the way you said that. I've won contests, had fulls requested. To be frank, I feel as confidant as a groom on his wedding night. Not only do I feel certain that my latest novel will find home but I also strongly believe that something will happen soon. All I need to hear is that other I Do.
But dang it, the ceremony is taking forever. I've had sweet nothings whispered in my ear but none have committed whole heart and now that little voice in the back of my head is whispering evil thoughts. This good, but not that good. Don't get your hopes up. Who's going to buy the idea that big, hairy bastard like you is even capable of writing women's fiction?
Okay I know most of you have gone through this and I hate to be this zealous. I want to play it cool, act nonchalant and somewhat disinterested in the same way I would with a used car salesman trying to give me the hard sell. But we aren't talking about a car and some cheesy dude with a combover. We're talking about agents that I respect and admire for the body of their work, and we're talking about my dreams.
But I'm stubborn and I love to write and create stories, so maybe in the end that is all that matters, because while I'll always strive for publication I'll never stop writing even if I never get there.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Then the uproar started.
You can't post that.
Quick, use the delete button.
What the hell are you smokin' today?
These comments came in the first fifteen minutes and they were from my friends and wife. So I deleted. I'm a bit surprised by the reaction but knowing they have my best interest at heart I complied.
So sorry to disappoint but this will serve as your daily blog while I go off to scratch my head and ponder other topics.
Monday, June 18, 2007
By the way don't expect much out of this post. There will be no theme, no cohesiveness to hold the words together. Just a couple of quick noted and comments to hold you over until i can impart with more of my great wisdom.
Why can't I type the word the instead of teh? Do you know how many times the occurs in an average novel. No, neither do I but a bunch and damn near every time I type it as teh. And just always comes out as jsut. I think my fingers are dyslexic, because I'm actually a pretty fair speller.
Back int he third or fourth grade I even made it the the big citywide spelling bee. I did this by finishing first in my class and then second amongst all the kids in my school. Why didn't I make it all the way to D.C?
You jsut had to ask didn't you? I got knocked out on the word pale. Hey, before you say man what an idiot let me remind you there are two versions of this word and being a bit of a redneck (yes even at that tender age) when I heard the word pale I immediately thought pail, as in a bucket. I forgot all about that definition crap you're supposed to ask for.
tomorrow I'm planing to bare my anxiety filled tender side. Grab the kleen-ex and get ready to wring your hands together with me. Okay that's all BS but I am going to talk about a few things that I'm really not comfortable disclosing (my insecurities as a prepublished writer) but heck since most of you are writers as well I know you got them too.
Prepublished? How do you like that term. I heard Barry Eisler say it at the conference last week and it does have a better, more hopeful ring than unpublished.
My family comes home from St Louis tonight. I haven't seen my wife and boys for a week and a half so I'm really looking forward to their arrival. By the way my wife has jumped into the blogging foray and she present a whole other side of me so if you want to know what it is like to live with the likes of me pop on over and offer her some encouragement to keep on writing. Most of you should really enjoy her post about being spoiled. Once upon a time she wanted to write children's stories and I'd like to see her get back into it.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
Lissa is multi-talented. She can do it all. fiction, Non-Fiction, and even Greeting Cards. Besides she is a huge hockey fan and a lot of fun to be around. Debbie pens a weekly blog which you can find here on Criminal Brief. On top of being a mystery author she also does non-fiction, screen plays and she is one heck of a teacher. I took a short story class from her several years ago and found it to be very helpful in all of my writing. A link to Deborah's personal website can be found in my post entitled, Let the Fun Begin from last week.
Now for a rant. As I said earlier in the week I'm out of town right now. Staying at a Hilton in Houston, Texas. I did not choose this hotel myself. I am here the the Texas Postal Workers Union state conference. In order to use the internet here, I must fork over ten dollars a day. Yes a day. I normally pay ten dollars a month for service at home. granted that is dial-up and this is wireless, but still.
Way I figure it, my money is probably going to Paris's legal defense fund. At least indirectly I am contributing to her spoiledness. Is that a word? I can live without a lot of thing. for instance I have not purchased a single one of their six dollar Shiner Bocks while here. I just keep telling myself that adds up to thirty-six dollars a six pack and at the Golden Light I can buy a whole pitcher for four bucks on a week night and eight on the weekend.
My favorite DJ on Sirius satellite radio is a fellow named Mojo Nixon. He is crazy as all get out and not for easily offended, but recently he wondered outloud if Paris Hilton was named something else, such as Omaha Super-8 would we have to hear about her every exploit.? the obvious answer is no, and if I this hotel I'm at didn't have Hilton in the name you can almost be assured that I could get internet service for free, or close to it.
My rants over but here's your chance. Tell me about something about your day that got under your skin.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Whispering the best she could over the loud music she pointed to a poster on the Ladies room door and asked me how much trouble she'd get in if she took off the wall and ... well for lack of a better term -- STOLE IT.
Now I'm not one to let my guests get thrown in jail so I volunteered to get the poster for her. About a foot and a half by two foot the poster was for a musician scheduled to play later in the month.
I went back to my table, waited for a few songs and then calmly walked over opened the women's restroom door, we're talking small one-seater bathrooms here, and while I had it open I popped the poster free from the door. Then I shut it, did what anybody who'd consumed a fair amount of beer would do, flushed and walked out with the poster in my hand. Luckily there was a back door only a few feet away and the thing was propped open to allow for better ventilation. So I walked out deposited the poster in my vehicle and then rejoined my group. All in all a heist in about forty-five seconds. Maybe I can get a part in Ocean's Fifteen or whatever number they are up to now.
What I didn't tell you earlier was that not only is Jeff Campbell a writer, but he also used to be a state policman in New Mexico. So I knowingly committed a theft with an ex cop right there to witness, but what I really want to know is how many of you reading this will be willing to contribute to my bail when the authorities read this blog?
Monday, June 11, 2007
Barry is not only a best selling author, be sure and check out his latest novel, Requiem for an Assassin, but a heck of a speaker and a really nice guy. He shared a ton of advice on how to market yourself both before and after publication.
I am currently reading his first novel in the John Rain series titled, Rain Fall and I'm really enjoying it.
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
This is one of my favorite times of the year because I get to catch with and chat with many of my writer friends. Even though most of them live in this area and we occasionally talk via email this is when I get to sit and talk nothing but writing for several days. For anyone who lives within a days drive of Amarillo, basically the ares between Denver and Dallas and Tulsa to the Arizona, New Mexico line, should try to attend next year. There are always great speakers along with agents and editors. This years lineup included New York Times best selling author Barry Eisler, RWA Hall of Famer Jodi Thomas, Kensington editor Hilary Sares, literary agents, Andrea Brown and Terry Whalin. As well as authors Britta Coleman, Solana Delamant, Linda Rohrbough along with editor Melanie Rigney. The netwroking is great and who knows I met move one more rung closer to publication.
If you get bored in my absence check out some of the links above or pop over to these blogs and websites so you can check out some of my writing friends. The ones I will be hanging out with this weekend.
Bluefingers -- Deborah Elliott-Upton -- Jennifer Archer -- Dee Burks -- Phyliss Miranda --
I'm sure I have forgotten about someone who has a blog or website, but these are the ones that come to mind. I'll try to post something quick between now and Thursday but if not I promise to post the next edition of The Feedstore Chronicles Sunday night once I land in Houston. That is where I'm headed just as soon as the writers conference is over. I'll also try to take some pictures and post them next week.
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
Because my current WIP is suddenly flowing well. I just finished chapter four and for the first time in several weeks I can feel that surge of energy I only get when my writing is going well.
My friend Alex Keto has asked me to define Women's Fiction. Check out his blog and be sure to follow his link for the modern day motivational poster. It is hilarious. I'll probably screw this up and I fully expect somebody out there to disagree but I'm feeling froggy this morning so I thought I'd jump.
Fiction about women, for women, and USUALLY written by women. I'm guessing that most people would use something like this to describe women's fiction.
I wouldn't necessarily disagree but I think it is much more and still think the term is a bit misleading, at least in my instance since I read a lot of novels that fit this category.
A story dealing with real world people and true-to-life complications where the emotional journey of the character, is as important as any other plot point. Maybe there is a romance, maybe not, but either way the protagonist, male as well as female grow in some way. And even if there is a romance and the two characters end up together I think it is important that neither becomes dependant on the other. Women's fiction is not damsel in distress and man rides to her rescue. She must find a way at least mostly on her own.
I say that but at he same time I think women's fiction can have a male as the main character so long as the man appeals to women readers and does some other than trying to bed hot women.
I know there are quite a few women's fiction authors who read this blog and more than a few who are published. Help me and Alex out by explain why I'm wrong.
Friday, June 1, 2007
I've seen some bad ones, with more sap than a syrup far,. Are they called farms, or orchards or what? Sorry we don't have many Maple trees down Texas way. Anyway I don't like any story, on the bi,g screen, little screen, or the page, that interject tears, and drama just for the sake. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I LIKE CHARACTERS. Make me feel as if I know them and I'll follow them to hell and back.
Why Am I droning on about this? Last night my wife and I plunked down the four bucks to order The Holiday on Pay-Per-View. I got into this movie. they way Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz's characters intertwined. Like all movies I would have liked more - internal thought, background, character development -- but I understand you can't do a lot of this on the big screen, which is exactly why books are better.
In the next day or so I'm going to spring for another PPV movie, Little Children. I've heard mixed reviews for the movie but I loved the novel. Tom Perrotta is one of my favorite authors. Speaking of which I wonder when his next one is due. It has been a while. Okay, I just checked out his website and he has a new novel titled The Abstinence Teacher due in the Fall. Another of my favorites Richard Russo also has a new novel coming out in October, The Bridge of Sighs. I love that title as I'm sure I will the book.
So in the spirit of this post I'm going to post a few questions. What is you favorite movie adaptation of a book? I can think of a couple that i actually think turned out better than the book. And what is the worst Hollywood hack job you've ever seen done to a novel?