April 13, 2010 External Validation
Picking Up the Ghost is a finalist in the San Diego Book Awards for Unpublished Young Adult Novel and I didn’t have to sleep with anyone this time. I just finished printing and proofing three copies of the 441 page manuscript. Counting 1323 pages was easier than I thought. And I learned something about MS Word; if you’re going to print a large document wait until the entire file is loaded into memory before giving the order to print. Trust me on this.
December 9, 2009 I don’t gush autobiographical for a reason.
In my queries a lot of agents want to know about me. “What is it about you that makes you uniquely qualified to write this book?”
Nothing. Picking Up the Ghost is about a poor, African-American kid dealing with ghosts and voodoo in a run down Midwest town. I’m a white, software engineer from San Diego who reads too many comics. But I wrote the book anyway, I used research and imagination.
But they want to be able to market fiction like they market celebrity biographies. Someone they can sell on the talk show circuit. Like James Frey, the Million Little Pieces guy.
Are good writers really that interesting when you put them on paper? Or even better, are financially successful writers interesting on paper? Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, Dan Brown. You know what else these people have in common? They’re not story material.
The only thing interesting about King was his cocaine addiction and that was after he’d hit the best seller list. J.K. Rowling’s life was a struggle but she kept that to herself even as the first Harry Potter book took off. She even kept her gender a secret at first. Meyer was a housewife with fantasies about 17 year old boys.
I’m not saying that these people aren’t interesting in conversation. In fact I’d love to talk to any one of them. I’m just saying their stories, the stories of their lives, like most of us, are pretty dull.
If my success as a writer is determined by how interesting my life has been then I’m doomed because I’ve been working as a software engineer on accounting software for the last five years. I have to believe that the agents are wrong. I’ve been rejected by over twenty of them so of course they’re wrong.
Or maybe I could fictionalize myself. It worked for Hunter S. Thompson, Baron Munchausen and Grant Morrison.
I’m in stage three.
June 25, 2009 Sigh…
The inside poop that’s got me down: sub-genre saturation. Picking Up the Ghost started as a manifesto that started as a list of things I didn’t like about Harry Potter. But inverted or not it’s too close to it’s inspiration. “…it’s the misfit teenager who is secretly communicating with a ghost … I’ve seen it all and I’m seeing it often.” Ouch.
Well I’ll keep pushing it as long as I can but I’m also resigning that I might have to get my second novel published before I can get an agent to take a real look at my first. In the meantime I’m going to try writing short fiction pieces. Experiment with forms of speculative fiction. Maybe I’ll get lucky and grab the attention of an agent. I’ve been fleshing out some ideas I had for Alejandro’s Ocean, the time travel game of Lexicon that petered out. And I might try to convert the first issue of Seize Him! into prose.
When life gives you discouraging inside poop, make poop juice.
April 22, 2009 Keepin’ the Blog Alive!
Moving off of LiveJournal and onto tonemilazzo has made me more careful. Not only am I self-censoring for banality but also for criminality.
For Example, if I had downloaded and watched a certain mutant movie and I found it to be 120 minutes of nonsense. That it played out like someone had read 100 comics about this unspecified character and then wrote down everything they could remember as fast as they could, a steaming pile of crap that I’m glad I didn’t pay hypothetical money to see… Well I’m just glad that I didn’t do that.
In book news, there’s been some promising steps forward but it’d be gauche to put any details in print. Let’s just say that my query letter works.
So there you have it, I didn’t see a horrible movie and I sent letter. I’ll try to get beat-up by cops in the near future so I have something more interesting to blog about.
March 23, 2009 The Final Stretch
The Guild of Literary Intent liked the new first chapter of Picking Up the Ghost so I just have a little work to do on the novel itself, finish the summery (currently 15 pages, it should be 10) and write a query letter and I’ll be ready to send it off to publishers and agents.
I really shouldn’t kid myself, there will be at least one more rewrite for the publisher and maybe one for the agent but for now let me sit back and dream.
March 13, 2009 Done, Done and Done.
Done 1) Finished draft 3.6 of Picking Up the Ghost I’ll be workingshoping the new first chapter next week but once that’s done I’ll finally be ready to start looking for agents and publishers.
Done 2) Finished playing Bioshock which means I’m done with all three of the games I got for the PS3. And since I don;t need to be writing this would be a perfect time to start a new game, problem is I want to play something without guns and really all the PS3 has are first person shooters and sports games.
Done 3) Finished the two books I was reading Little Brother and The Year of Living Biblically. Again this should be an opportunity to jump on somehting new but I’m still committed to finishing all the books I own before I buy any new ones and I’m not really in the mood for anything on my To Read shelf.
January 12, 2009 The Guild of Literary Intent
Picking Up the Ghost was subjected to its second workshop on Saturday and I’m happy to say that it came out stronger than it did last year. Happy because I really didn’t want to spend another year rewriting the thing.
Most of the suggestions this time around should be easy to implement and I’ll hopefully have the next (and final?) draft done in a few months.
December 30, 2008 Fake Progress!
The fake books are in!
This isn’t real publishing. My writer’s workshop needed hard copies of the novel to read and Lulu was cheaper than photocopies.
But I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with the print quality. Print-on-demand has come a long way.
The workshop will be giving me their feedback on the 10th. Hopefully this draft won’t require an extensive rewrite and I’ll be submitting to publishers before Spring.