I'm looking for a few beta readers to help me with my writing. I write science fiction and fantasy, so ideally you are passionate about both. I'd prefer to find people willing and able to stay with me, if you enjoy my writing, for the long term.
For those who may not be aware, a beta reader is someone who reads an author's developing work and provides feedback. The more detailed the feedback, the more help the beta provides. Some author's use forms with lists of questions and directions, others just ask for a gut response. Betas can be other writers. Betas may have editorial experience and offer grammatical corrections as well as story commentary. Overall, a beta is like an author's sidekick, the superhero in the background who helps the author succeed without the accolades.
You may also have heard the term alpha reader. This is someone who reads the author’s work while in progress or extremely raw. I promise before you see anything I’ve written, it will be complete, it will be thought out, edited to the best of my ability, and carefully reviewed for mistakes or story flaws. Unfortunately, an author becomes too close to the story to view it from a fresh reader’s perspective, and that’s where you come in.
My WIP is an epic fantasy first book with a sword and sorcery flavour. The story is complete unto itself but ready to unfold to the next level. I need readers who can complete the read and critique within two weeks, sooner if possible. Keep in mind until I receive feedback, I can’t move forward and begin corrections. The critique I’m looking for may be multi-faceted. If you’re good at grammar and willing to assist with a copy edit, I ask that you use Word’s review mark-ups to track changes. I’d consider this a bonus, but where I really need the help is in the story. A paragraph or two in response to my directions below would be awesome. Actually using Word mark-ups to show me where things needs improvement in addition to a summary would be superb. I do understand not everyone has Word, so a write-up corresponding to page # for specific items is also great.
1. Is the Story believable? In other words, when you finish are you shaking your head at plot holes, confusing sentences or paragraphs, mismatched character descriptions, or anything that pulled you out of the story wondering what the heck I’m trying to say. Does the timeline make sense.
2. Are the Characters real? There are three main characters in this particular story, which is told through the PoV of two of them. All characters need to feel real with their own unique voice, but these three are most important to focus on. Do any of them sound too much alike where you aren’t sure who is who? Did their unique personalities shine through? Did they connect with you in a special way? Were any characters flat or boring, where you could not connect with them or care what happens to them?
3. Did the Setting work? This is a fantasy world of my own creation with its own rules, government, scenery, religion, constellations, animal habitats, etc. The characters travel quite a distance through the story. The setting or world building should appear throughout the story in a natural way, not through back-story dumps. Was their sufficient back-story to understand what drives the characters forward? Were there enough descriptions for each scene to make sense? Too much? Did any aspect of this world confuse you where additional clarification is required? Did I over-explain anything, perhaps in different scenes, where the same information was redundant to a previous scene?
4. Your Summary. A few sentences where you can say whatever you like about the story. Its overall impression independent of the flaws uncovered in the previous three areas. Is the story, characters, and setting unique and interesting enough where you believe combined they offer a compelling, satisfying read, or are there larger issues, or too many smaller issues, for this to work without substantial rewrites. What would those rewrites entail?
Once we agree the match makes sense, I’ll provide additional instructions for next steps.
I can’t tell you how much I would appreciate your help, and hope we can build a lasting relationship. At the very least, you will always have a free copy of any published book you assist with and my undying gratitude.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Meet Michelle Johnson, my new literary agent! As of October 12, 2012, she has agreed to represent me to publish my 100,000 word science-fiction novel, "Visitor."
Michelle is a Jr. Literary Agent with the Corvisiero Literary Agency, a rapidly rising star in the sparkling sky of publishing.
Visitor has a bumpy history. I wrote it around 15 years ago or thereabouts as an 80,000 word novel meant to open the doors for a first-time author. You see, I tended to write...a lot bigger stories, and was unable to find an agent to represent them. Of course it couldn't have been my writing, because I was so perfect (wincing) and decided this was the angle required.
So, I wrote Visitor, and I wrote it short. I wrote it fast. I wrote it badly. Barely reading it through after completion, it was making the rounds, and rejected almost as fast as I licked the stamps (yes, this was quite a few years ago when we had to do that, for those who might be confused.)
Fast forward to early 2012, with several more failed projects behind me. I blamed the agents, I blamed the publishers, and I blamed bad luck for all my failures. But there was someone else missing from my list of blame....So, I decided I would ride the e-publishing wave to success. It was the new big thing, everyone was doing it, and I wanted in on the ground floor, and I already had a completed manuscript to slap up on the web and start raking in the dollars!
I still can't explain what clicked in my head this time around, as I've always written in "waves" where I feverishly complete a project, desperately try to pitch it, then retreat into a corner sulking from my wounded pride, quivering from the darts of rejection. I was ready to go another round now that all the control was in my hands, no longer relying on some other entity to achieve my dream. And perhaps right there is the reason my eyes were opened this time.
I re-read Visitor with a fresh eye, but instead of thinking an agent or editor would mold my amazing creation into coherent form, I realized I'd have to do it myself. But the story was simply awful. And there was no longer an invisible crutch between the world and myself, all I had to do was upload the text and click a few buttons, and there it would be, in all its nauseating incompleteness.
That's when I realized I could not allow my name to be associated with this story if I ever wanted to succeed as an author, and it finally sunk in that if I wasn't ready to put my name behind it, then why would an agent do so? That's the click that changed my attitude, and probably my future. I rewrote the ending, came back to the beginning, and rewrote that too, moving forward until I reached the point where I had started. But then many things had changed, so I rewrote what I rewrote, then finished, and began editing. And editing. And editing.
Writing is the "3 ting circus", with my compliments to Abbot and Costello's bit, "Marriage is 3 ring circus. First comes the engagement ring, then the wedding ring, then the suffering."
With writing, its "first comes the writing, then the editing, and then the waiting."
My rewrites went up to 118,000 words, then with an icy heart I went through it and hacked it down to 108,000. I hired a professional editor to help see things I could not find myself, and finally landed around 100,000 words. I submitted my query to Michelle, and waited. In all honesty, considering the time averages, Michelle didn't take very long to request the full, then to offer representation.
When she made the proposal to me the other day, I almost fell off my chair, and to be honest the reality of it is still sinking in. I've written a good half dozen stories (ok, they need work, I realize that now), tried for years to find a single person who believed in me and my dream, and failed time after time. It's still too much for me to accept that my first hurdle has been met and vaulted, and that I now no longer walk this dream alone. From the bottom of my heart to the depths of my soul, I thank Michelle for offering this opportunity to me, and moving me one rung further up the ladder to a dream I've nursed since childhood.
So, the happy update is that Visitor is now professionally represented, and I'm working on the revisions needed to complete the final polish. After that its out of my hands and into Michelle's capable ones, and then more waiting begins as she pitches Visitor to the publishers.
I'll keep busy in the meantime, because I've always been a writer, and a writer writes. Only now, I have a shining beacon of hope ahead of me, urging me to write now like I've never written before, because once I break through the "paper curtain" there is no longer the shadow of failure to hold me back.
But this time, I promise to follow Visitor's lead, and make sure my stories are truly ready first. (Not that Michelle would let me get away with it if they weren't!)
I am sorrowful to learn of Jack Klugman's passing.
He may not have been the most renown actor, but his roles meant a great deal to me as a child, and have remained with me throughout my adulthood. Of course, the Odd Couple was a classic show that brought many hours of laughter, and I always looked forward to watching his antics as Oscar.
Quincy was another great show, ahead of its time, that I watched on Friday nights at my Grandparents' apartment. We slept over there every weekend, my brother and I, and it provided an island of peace in the chaotic ocean of my childhood. I remember the sounds of a happy home, a good dinner, and shared time with those I love. Quincy was a part of those happy memories, a symbol that life offered more than the weekdays revealed.
I miss my grandparents terribly, and wish i could tell them how much their kindness, so readily taken for granted, meant to me then, and means to me now.
But Jack Klugman earned my fandom in his own right, with his easygoing disposition and likable characters. I loved every Twilight Zone episode he starred in. He was a talented actor who deserved more fame than he received.
So rest in peace, Mr. Klugman. I wish I could have thanked you in person for the pleasure you brought me, but perhaps now you simply know. G-d bless you.
In 1988 I graduated from NYIT's Central Islip Campus with a BS in Computer Science. NYIT stands for New York Institute of Technology. Four years earlier, they opened up this campus for the first time, taking over buildings from a state mental institution. At that time, the state continued to operate other nearby buildings for the same purpose.
To say the school wasn't prepared for our arrival is an understatement, but we considered ourselves pioneers, and survived. Over time, there were many improvements to the campus, and I enjoyed attending college there. One thing we discovered during our initial week on campus were the underground tunnels, which connected buildings together and had been used to transport patients between them in a secure manner. In coming weeks doors were attached to block off the tunnels from our basements, but initially there wasn't much to do, and exploring the tunnels became a fun diversion despite the admin's declaration they were off limits. Yeah, right.
Fast forward to my senior year. I had purchased an Amiga computer, which offered a gui interface before Apple took off, and a dot matrix printer. One of the dots wasn't working, so the printouts looked a little off, to say the least, but that was what I had available to me. We were college students heading towards the end of our schooling, seniors, the first graduating class of the campus, and had things to say the administration did not want to hear.
The dean at the time was an interesting individual to say the least, and the President of the school was very high-strung with thin skin towards the normal behavior and antics of young adults our age. We felt we had earned the right to say what was on our minds, didn't like that our satellite campus did not enjoy all the perks of the main campus in Old Westbury, and decided to start our own newspaper to speak out. The school had made no attempt I was aware of to initiate a student run paper, and had demonstrated censorship on the paper at Old Westbury. We decided to do it on our own.
Attached is a pdf of that first issue, printed on my slightly broken dot-matrix printer. (Click the "read more" link, then the download link will appear at the bottom of this article.) It wasn't much to look at, but WOW did it slam the administration. They were extremely upset that mere students dared to speak out and criticize their establishment. The timing was perfect, because they had scheduled some kind of open house that weekend, and prospective students with their parents were picking up the copies we left all over campus, along with the current student population. We used fictional names, so no one knew who we were. Now let me state for the record, we had no clue about the open house because the school didn't see fit to share such things with the students, and that was the type of thing we griped about. We felt we were part of the school, and our grievances weren't being taken seriously or even heard, because the dean and President didn't want to be bothered with it. This might be untrue, but that was our impression.
The rest, as you say, is history. We ended up doing 5 issues, outed ourselves to the administration because after our voices were heard, it was more important to let everyone speak out as the first official paper for our campus, and stopped when finals hovered in the horizon since it was important to focus on passing them. Copies were kept in the school library, but I have no idea if anyone has seen them over the past years, or even remember they existed. I'll scan the others and post as time permits, but review our premier issue and let me know what you think,
Can you guess which name I used for the paper?
For six months, I worked as an intern for a literary agency. I made the decision to leave, partly because our agreement did not reach fruition. I have no regrets, though I am disappointed. I won’t mention the name of the agency, but they are a “real” agency with legitimate book sales. Although I did not progress to “Apprentice,” I learned quite a bit about how agencies work through my internship, and now I’m going to share some of these insights with you.
The important thing to know is these insights are not necessarily a bad thing, but may surprise you. My other disclaimer is that while this particular agency operated this way, that doesn’t mean all agencies do. You may wish to find out prior to querying or accepting representation.
Agency Insight #1 – Agents may not read their queries
What this means is, interns like me reviewed the query inbox prior to assigning the queries to the agent. I checked to make sure the query contained all required components. If they did not, I sent them back with what was missing and encouraged the author to resubmit. Most other agencies would simply reject.
If all the components were included, I read everything to determine if the writing was good, if the synopsis made sense and contained the ending, if the query sounded interesting, etc. If there was an overall failure, I would reject the query, with an explanation as to what was missing. I might suggest fixing things and resubmitting, but if a writing sample was full of mistakes and poor grammar, most likely it would be an outright rejection.
By having interns screen the queries, the agents’ time is freed up to focus on reading manuscripts and partials, work with existing clients, and review the queries that passed initial inspection. Does that mean every query I rejected the agent it was addressed to would have rejected it too? There is no way to tell since this can be a very subjective business, however I personally tried to remain objective and focus only on the mechanics, not the content. I can’t promise every intern handles things the same way.
So, yes, your painfully written query personalized with love for a specific person might not ever be seen by that person based on the interpretation of a novice.
I will add that a few agents received queries directly, and bypassed the intern screening process. So, depending, this may or may not apply to whom you query.
My advice? Polish your query, synopsis, and first x pages until they gleam before querying. There are public forums where you can receive helpful feedback. Be absolutely certain you include EVERYTHING the agency requests. Typically, you'd gather this information from their website specific to the agent you wish to query. And lets face it, if your spelling and grammar...need improvement, you shouldn't query until you're ready.
If you've done that? Crossing your fingers can't hurt.
So, I know a lot of time has passed since my last entry. Has it really almost been a year?
I will write a more in depth update in the near future, but I am still here and I am still on track. Personal life issues have slowed everything down, but my edits on Visitor are almost complete. Pending final review by my awesome agent, the manuscript will be ready for pitching, and then we wait.
In the meantime, I'm working on my next story, which will be book one of a sword and sorcery type fantasy trilogy, full of adventure, horrific creatures, and gallant heroes.
More on that, and the status of Visitor, and my life issues, in the near future. Of utmost importance right now is I did not vanish into a bottomless crevice, and will become more active as things settle down.
Whoever wrote time flies was a genius!
My New Year's resolution to blog more often started off rocky but I shall prevail.
So, the pertinent facts: Visitor resides with my awesome agent, Michelle, for the latest round of edits. I've learned much from her, and continue to hone my work toward perfection. The good news is I believe Visitor is now close to completion, but we'll see what feedback returns my way. Stay tuned.
I'm working on my next story, which should proceed more smoothly and hopefully, quicker, to reach its final version.
i've neglected my writing a great deal these past two years due to personal life issues. I'm saving the details for a future story (ha ha) but what's important is despite the ugliness of that past event, my life has improved in leaps and bounds since.
The future is unwritten, as they say, but the pen I'm working with now is sharper, brighter, and very sparkly.
Metaphors aside, I'm resolved to publish something this year, so one way or the other expect to hear more about this sometime in the near future.
My brief update complete, its back to work and life, and when I can, writing. No matter what happens, I plan to continue writing regardless. It fulfills an inner need critical to who I am am in a way I never knew possible before I started.
I hope you will walk beside me on this journey forward.
I used to make a breakfast sandwich. I should add that I enjoy cooking as another creative outlet, which has strong tie-ins to my need for dieting since the logical conclusion to cooking is - well, eating. But I digress!
The messy egg sandwich is a simple recipe that is extremely satisfying. Since eggs are good for you in moderation, this can be viewed upon as a reasonably healthy breakfast.
Take one or two eggs, a few slices of ham (optional), and a slice of cheese (also optional) - she prefers Swiss, but American or cheddar would do fine, whatever your favorite is.
Heat pan, toast two slices of wheat bread. Bread is not optional as you cannot make a sandwich without it!
I use butter flavored Pam to cut down on calories and you really don't notice the difference with all the other ingredients contributing to the overall experience. Spray some in the pan and on the toast when its ready.
Tear or cut ham into small pieces and fry over medium heat for a couple of minutes. Crack open eggs and add to pan on top of hot ham. Let eggs firm so the whites are mostly set. Spray top of eggs with more Pam. Flip eggs over. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Add a slice of cheese to top, after positioning eggs to the general shape of your slice of toast. Let cheese melt a bit, then push down on yolks to break and let them run.
Depending on your liking, remove runny eggs from pan and place on toast. Cover with other slice of toast and cut in half. Serve with napkins.
Disclaimer: Eating under-cooked eggs could be dangerous. Use this recipe at your own risk!
PS: Cooking yolks to a firm consistency may be safer, but then it won't be a messy egg sandwich.
Today is Sunday, November 4th, 2012, and the end of "daylight savings" time. We get to turn the clock back an hour, offering the illusion of having added an extra hour to our day. Extra hour of sleep, extra hour of productive work, extra hour of relaxation--however we prefer to spend it.
What a luxury, to be able to turn back time even for just an hour.
Today is also the 6th day since Hurricane Sandy devastated New York City, NJ, and the surrounding regions, including where I live in Northeastern Pennsylvania. My power came back on Friday afternoon but I'm still dealing with the aftermath of two downed trees on my property, both of which somehow missed my house. I only have a small electric chainsaw meant to trim branches, not bisect tree trunks, but I'll figure it out and muddle through it. I started cutting up the tree so now there's two thirds of a trunk and an assortment of logs and branches that need to be hauled away littering my front lawn. I have bags and bags of spoiled perishables that need to be disposed of. Yesterday I replaced some of the important items like milk and butter, spending money on items I already bought last week.
Last week feels like a year ago after being without power for a few days, not knowing when it would come back on, stumbling around in the dark, and heating water with a sterno can so we can have warm instant coffee to start our day. Worrying the crawlspace would overflow with water since the pump can't operate. Freezing in the house, sleeping under piles of blankets.
But these are minor nuisances in comparison to the people still without power, without homes to live in, without the company of loved ones who perished. People waiting hours on line with a water jug hoping to score enough gasoline to power their generator another day, keeping baby formula cold and a few lights on. Searching for a Laundromat to wash clothes. Avoiding accidents at intersections without lights amongst other distracted motorists paying more attention to finding an open gas station than the cars in front of them.
In the comfort of my home I can now peruse photos of Sandy's might and the havoc left behind. I am amazed that we live in the 21st century, yet we're crushed by Nature's impact, helpless against powerful winds and an ocean surge that exceeded the estimates of those who dubbed Sandy the "Frankenstorm."
What if we could turn back time to before the storm, like we turn back the clocks to adjust for daylight savings?
What could we do to change things? How far back would we need to go? Could we overhaul our power grid, bury cables, install taller, sturdier poles that would not be torn down by falling trees or branches? Could we add levees and sand barriers along our vulnerable shores to defy the surging ocean? Could we buy more generators, stockpile more fuel, trim more branches that eventually fell, blocking roads and preventing power crews from swooping in faster? Could we evacuate more people, even the ones who didn't want to leave, perhaps couldn't leave on their own, and are now dead when the harsh reality of ocean water reached out where ocean did not belong?
We knew Sandy was coming, we even knew it was going to hit harder than anything before it. Perhaps we hoped for the best, or perhaps there wasn't sufficient notice to mitigate Sandy's devastation. Perhaps much was done we aren't aware of that prevented things from being worse than they are.
My question is what are we going to do now to make sure we cannot be hurt like this again? When are we going to improve our electrical grid not only from a falling branch, but other vulnerabilities? We're running off of infrastructure that is decades old, if not older, that must be overhauled and replaced with 21st century materials and methods. Redundancy, flood mitigation, disaster preparedness, these are all solvable challenges.
I realize we cannot stop a hurricane, but we can shorten the pain we suffer after it passes, and we can do better to keep the ocean away from our homes. It takes time, money, and commitment, but we can do better, and we owe it to ourselves to start the process now.
I've heard it said that Sandy was a once in a lifetime event. Therefore, let's make sure when a storm of this magnitude strikes again in our children's adult lives, they don't suffer the way we have. To accomplish this, we must start now.
I want to thank Troy and Kieran for loaning me a generator that allowed me to operate my crawlspace pump, preventing a lot of damage to my home. I could not find a generator the morning after the hurricane no matter where I looked, and turned to my friends and neighbors for help. These special people answered my plea, brought the generator to my home with a tank of gas, and showed me how to use it. From the bottom of our hearts, my family and I thank you for your help.
To everyone hurt by this storm, I wish you a speedy return to normalcy, something I'm still struggling with mentally even as our daily routines settle down. Compared to my puny situation, I can only imagine how horrific this must be for those of you hit worse than I.
For everyone, including those not inconvenienced or impacted, please donate to the Red Cross or other organization to help the many lives uprooted by this disaster. Like Troy and Kieran, be good neighbors and pitch in.
Helping each other is the only power at our disposal we can exercise during times like these, and doesn't require time travel to show results.
Comic Con was quite the experience. I went to one when I was like 15, possibly the same event but (ahem) a few years ago and it was nothing like this. Tons of comics, of course, but so much more.
The people density was fire alarm scary. If there was an emergency, it would be impossible to get everyone out safely. I think they let too many people in at a time. There were areas less crowded where you could go to breathe or sit down against a wall.
What I found most interesting was the CosPlay, or Costume Play, that I knew little about. My daughter had a costume, and I was a bit amused she was going to dress up but wasn't prepared for the spectacle inside. I felt like an alien in normal street clothes. EVERYONE was wearing a costume of some sort, and most of them were professionally made. A few were outstanding in quality and presentation.
But that's not what I found most interesting, although it was very entertaining. It was the instant bond of camaraderie between people who had never met, based solely on the character they were portraying. Yes, utter strangers approached each other without timidity of any kind, asking for pictures, reciting dialogue from the show their costumes shared, and even hugs. All were cheerfully accommodated.
Even more inspiring was how a group of strangers representing the full or partial cast of the show their characters are on would collect and let people take pics of them together. A communal bonding based solely on the public display of shows they all share an affinity for.
There were things to buy aplenty, and not cheap. There were comics galore, but ironically, looking at comic bins was not the purpose of our journey, although several (ahem) years ago when I was a teenager, that was the sole purpose of attending.
There were also many celebrities, but I will state for the record, I refuse to pay a cent to meet one and have them sign something for me. That to me is commercialism at its worst, extracting money, hard-earned for most of us, for the pleasure of someone's company for a few minutes. I would have liked Adam West's signature and a few minutes of his time, but even if I was willing to wait on the voluminous line, I can't justify paying for the privilege.
I would have liked to have seen Stan Lee, who was scheduled to do a photo event, but I heard he had left early due to health issues. Hope he's feeling better. Stan Lee is a special person to me because of how much I enjoyed reading comics he created and authored as a child. Many were written by other writers, and I am thankful to them as well, but the creativity and pioneering approach Stan took to comics had a profound impact on the industry, and my own childhood. I am thrilled to see how his awesome ideas and characters have blossomed to the forefront of popularity in recent years. Well deserved!
Apparently, from the volume of people at Comic Con, what used to be considered dorky has become extremely popular. Yes, I was dorky, when dorky wasn't cool. But now it is, and I couldn't be happier.
I keep reading about how digital is a fad and paper books will make a comeback. As a great lover of printed material--I collect old books, some a hundred years old or more--I still believe the future is digital. All you have to do is look at the music industry to realize how permanent eBooks are becoming. Music lovers are not looking to return to the days of CD's any more than they held onto cassette tapes when CD's came around. Its progress, and while nothing can compare to holding a physical book in your hands, smelling the paper, ink, and glue, the benefits of eBooks outweigh the nostalgic differences.
College textbooks used to cost a fortune and weight a ton. I'm not sure how the pricing compares to digital textbooks, but I do know that colleges are requiring them now, as well as laptops. The new generations were raised on technology, with toddlers using iPhones as well as adults and texting has replaced the popularity of the telephone from days gone by. Services such as Skype provide video as well as audio, and many people have discarded landline phones for cellular. Why pay two bills when you don't really need to?
The real burn to eBooks are the multitude of self-publishing authors who may or may not have a great premise, but lack the editorial skills to match a professionally published volume. Reviews are being bought and sold, and you know the first ten or more glowing reviews come from friends and family, and even fellow authors trading reviews to amp up their salability. What these authors have failed to acknowledge is the need to replace the "free" services of a professional publisher in the publishing process, which includes editing and cover design. The stories are bumpy with plot holes, misspellings, and other inconsistencies that make for a sour reading experience.
The system will work itself out over time though, and eBooks from publishers will rise in popularity as readers tired of being "cheated" out of a good read and turn back to them for assurances their money is being well spent, even if the costs are higher. The old adage, "you get what you pay for" applies here. There are also many authors who do their due diligence, pay for professional editing, hire a talented cover artist, and put a quality product up for sale. I believe the market will spawn a new service of independent certification that readers will look for, a seal of approval perhaps, that will take precedence over other ebooks without it. This new entity will take the role of publisher on a smaller scale, accepting and rejecting material but offering no services, which will be incumbent on the author to apply before submission.
In short, I can't predict the way ebooks will flourish going forward, only assert that they will. Coffee table books and similar quality material will continue to be printed, but over time paper books will disappear, and hard covers will diminish. Print on Demand services may help offset this decline, but ultimately, as the newer generations grow older and give rise to the future generations, the old-school desire to hold and have a physical volume in hand is going to fade away, much like the vinyl record, VHS tape, and floppy disc.
As for me, my home will always have books, but I wouldn't turn down an eBook if the story is good. At the end of the day, it’s about the story, not the media the story is published on, that matters. The story will survive.
I'm thrilled to participate in the GUTGAA 2012--Gearing Up to Get an Agent
Here is a little bit about me:
Where do I write?
I write in my office at home for the most part, although I've been known to sneak my laptop to the bedroom on occasion, to keep an eye on the TV. Unfortunately this usually results in more TV watching than writing, so I've been doing less of that lately. I also prefer a full keyboard to the laptop keyboard.
What is the first thing I see to my left, in my writing space?
Favorite time to write?
Whenever I can squeeze it in. Since I work full time, I can't be too choosy. However, on the weekend, after my coffee has woken me up to formulate coherent thoughts, and the house is still quiet, I have the highest comfort level.
Drink of Choice while Writing?
No drink of choice. When I'm writing, I am not drinking, unless I invest in a really long straw or one of those hats with beer can holders. And I hate beer out of a can.
Do I listen to music while writing, or prefer silence?
I prefer silence most of the time, but sometimes the music helps. It doesn't matter what music, though I really should invest some time in experimenting with different styles of music to match the scene I'm working on. The reality of it is, I put on my headphones when the house noise around me is distracting, and I just let my diverse music list play in random order. It keeps the background noise out of my head, but has little impact on my writing. Or so I think.
What was my inspiration for my latest manuscript?
"Visitor" was originally a dream I had as a young child that always haunted my memories as an adult. There was a woman who visited me from the stars, then had to leave. The pain of separation was intense. Fortunately, my story does not divide the happy couple, although they do have quite the adventure by staying together.
What is my most valuable writing tip?
I'll offer several. First, write. Write as much as you can. Practice makes perfect.
Second, patience. Don't expect the first draft to be perfect, no matter how proud you are of its existence. It's awesome to finish a story, but the truth of it is, that story is just the first draft, and expecting it to be the final version is probably unrealistic. Edit, edit, edit, obtain feedback, then edit some more. Make sure all the plot elements line up. Remove all the unnecessary words you added. Replace narration with action where it makes sense, i.e. "she was angry" to "her face flushed scarlet."
Third, thicken your skin. To succeed, you will need help from others, be that an agent, editor, beta-reader, etc. Take their advice to heart, not personally, and act upon it. If you can't learn from your mistakes, you will have great difficulty succeeding.
Wow, I haven't posted an update for Visitor in quite some time. Funny thing is, I've been working harder on completion than ever during this time frame.
I wanted to make sure everyone knows this is moving forward, and hopefully I'll have some positive news to share in the near future.
Here is a brief excerpt...
As Doug slowly bled to death, a figure materialized before him in the form of a shimmering woman, but a woman unlike any he had ever seen before. For a moment he became lucid. She was shorter than he was, maybe five-two to his five-ten, though she appeared to be much taller once she leaned over him. Her eyes were a vibrant violet color he had never known existed, and a soft, transparent, butter-yellow mist innocently surrounded her body like a hooded cloak. It was odd how the wind was gusting about them, yet the haze remained in place as though it were emanating from the woman’s body.
So for vacation this year we decided to go away for a couple of nights and spend the remainder relaxing around home. Yes, there were things we wanted to get done around the house, but I did mention this was VACATION - so ended up doing much less than originally planned. Oh, darn.
We drove a couple of hours to a town in PA called Collegeville, where our hotel was located, convenient to the Valley Forge Historical Park, the Philadelphia Premium Outlets, and the King of Prussia Shopping Mall. I had wanted to visit the Valley Forge park, but it was so hot, and there were so many stores between the two shopping venues, that we never did make it there.
The King of Prussia mall is one of the largest on the east coast, filled with not only your usual department stores like Sears, Macy's, and JC Penney's, but more upscale establishments as well, including Nordstoms, Neiman Marcus, and Lord & Taylor. Likewise, there are high-priced stores with security guards stationed in front like Hermes, and the full gamut from Juicy to Old Navy, 7 For All Mankind to the Gap, Brooks Brothers to - well, you get the idea. Many stores I have shopped in before, and many others I enjoy walking through but cannot afford to purchase a pair of socks. To be fair, Brooks Brothers had an excellent sale and I scored a new polo, but you can only walk around taunted for so long before caving in and buying something.
Yes, the King of Prussia mall is awesome for shopping and browsing, and we had a great meal there at Legal Sea Foods, but the chocolate dilemma occurred at the Factory Outlets.
There are outlets in my neck of the woods, but this location contained more stores and was laid out nicer. There were also some great sales, and at prices we could actually afford. Our daughter needed some items for back to school (which will be here before we know it), I found some slacks I needed, and my wife scored some great shoes. Oh, and I got two great Calphalon frying pans on clearance at the Calphalon outlet - top of the line non-stick that I used several times already, and are amazing! But, I digress.
There is also a Lindt Chocolate outlet there. Ok, let me say that again, because once is not sufficient. There is also a Lindt Chocolate outlet there. Their chocolate is amazing. And they had boatloads of truffles and bars for awesome prices considering the cost in the stores. So we stocked up on a few bags of truffles, some assorted other stuff, all chocolate, all delicious and - all very meltable!
Did I mention it was HOT?
A sobering conversation with the salesgirl confirmed they must be kept cool or would become sludge. We would be okay in and out of the air-conditioned stores like ninjas, but if we stopped for lunch on the way home, the chocolate would surely melt.
So, I won't say how long it took before we figured out the solution, but have you? Yes? Ok, in all fairness, I was tired, and perhaps wasn't thinking at my sharpest.
When we stopped for lunch, we'd take the bag of chocolates inside with us! they didn't need to stay in the car, after all, although one doesn't usually bring bags into a store, it was the simple solution to our dilemma.
The absurdity of this caught up with me, how simple solutions exist for even the most complicated problems if you just take the time to think things through. Bringing a bag into a restaurant may not be the most rebel of actions, but it saved our chocolate, which was indeed delicious. I think there may even be some left, I'll have to check when I'm finished with this blog entry.
The point is, no matter what crisis life throws at you, sometimes just by thinking a little differently you may find it isn't really so insurmountable after all. So the next time you are faced with a dilemma, remember my chocolate story, and figure out your own work around. I'm sure its there, just waiting to be discovered.
Time for some chocolate!
Alas, the complexities of my beloved writing! 'Tis far easier to imagine, than to translate the images within my mind to a form readily understandable, and enjoyable, to others!
In short, the process continues. My free time is limited, but I have made good progress with Visitor, and am targeting end of July to complete the editing/rewriting, and perhaps even send it off to an editor for polishing and feedback before accepting it as completed and ready for publishing.
So, I continue to work on re-writing "Visitor", a story about an alien woman who is stranded on Earth, her telepathic attachment to a very average guy, and how they save the galaxy. Written to be fun and entertaining, I'm hopeful I'll have it completed before the end of July, but no promises - one thing I've learned since I started focusing seriously on my writing earlier this year, is you cannot rush the process, or the results will be substandard.
There are already too many self-published books on Amazon that are poorly written, poorly edited, or both, and I need my writing to shine above those in order to stand out from the flood of e-books surging into the market.
I hope everyone has an awesome weekend, but do be careful if you are experiencing the high temperatures that are hitting my area.
Greetings, everyone, hope you are all doing well.
Plain and simple, Visitor remains a work in progress. The more I've reviewed it, the more editing, changes, additions, and deletions I feel need to be applied.
It's amazing, actually, how my perspective has evolved with this simple use case. Originally meant to be a quick and dirty introduction into the digital publishing world, I've come to realize that I cannot shortcut my way into publication. Each work I produce must be of an exacting quality, and I will not allow myself to rush into incompetence.
The good news is, I'm moving along well and hope the rewrites are finished in the next week or two. I've taken something I wrote a long time ago that I didn't particularly love, and transformed it into something I am growing very fond of. I am pleased with the changes and where this book is now headed.
Another round of pure editing after that along with feedback from beta-readers, and I can then forward my work to a professional edit, identity TBD.
And then - we shall see - self publish or first submit traditionally, or perhaps both? Time will tell!
Quick update since I haven't been active on my blog lately - working hard on editing Visitor as time permits. With the spring weather I've had a lot of outside chores to take care of, and of course I work full time during the week.
Perhaps the most significant point is my epiphany about my writing - I've never finished a manuscript, and I mean really finished it where its been polished and tweaked, and every word in every sentence is exactly the way I like it, no different perhaps than a painter adding and removing the strokes of his brush upon his canvas.
I've finished stories - and I've proofread to correct obvious grammatical and spelling errors. But I can't say I've stepped back, really thought about what I wanted the reader to experience, then put those changes into the story.
They say you grow wiser with age, perhaps that is true - but after I rewrote the ending of Visitor, I went back and started rewriting the story from the start to put it in line with where I need it to be. And after I finish this pass, I'll go over it again, until I can't find anything that shouldn't be there, and find everything I want to be there in the story, in the correct place.
So, stay tuned a little longer as I complete Visitor the right way, have it beta read, fix anything further that requires tinkering, then invest in a professional editor to polish it until it gleams.
This is a relatively simple dish to prepare, so its good for working nights. Its hearty, tasty, and depending on what kind of kielbasi you choose, reasonably healthy.
2 medium kielbasi should be fine, your choice. I made it last night with turkey kielbasi to cut down on the fat and calories. Slice it up thin, or cut it into chunk, whatever you prefer. For turkey I add it in last, but if using a fatty variety you should brown it nicely then discard the grease before proceeding.
Cut up 4 or 5 medium potatoes into small chunks. I like to leave the skin on. You can use any kind you want, but different varieties will taste a little different. Boiling potatoes or red potatoes work nicely, but russet potatoes will taste a little heartier.
Add some oil to a preheated large frying pan, deep like a chicken fryer that has a lid. I use peanut oil or mix canola with peanut oil. You can use olive oil, but I prefer something that can withstand high heat better. Add the potatoes over medium heat, cover. Keep an eye on them so they don't burn or stick to the pan.
Chop up a medium to large onion and at least one pepper, green or red. Stir potatoes and scrape up any browned bits, then add the veggies, lower the heat, cover.
Chop up some garlic, add to the pan along with paprika, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, thyme, onion powder, garlic powder. You can add a little cayenne too, but I keep it out because the rest of the family aren't as into spicy as I am. I put it directly on my plate. All spices should be added to taste, but if I had to estimate, 1 tablespoon paprika, and a teaspoon of the rest except salt and pepper. A few grinds of each is all you should put in now, you can correct seasonings later.
Add the sliced kielbasi. Remember to brown it first if not using a low fat variety.
Give the pan a really good stir, scrape up any sticking bits, keep it medium low, covered, for about 15 minutes. Check it for sticking and give a stir a few times.
Test potatoes for doneness, you want them nice and soft and just starting to mush.
If a lot of liquid has accumulated, which it should have by now, turn heat to high and stir frequently, watch closely. As the liquid evaporates, things will start to stick and burn. The potatoes should really be absorbing some of this by now as well, and smushing nicely against the kielbasi.
Taste and correct seasonings. For me this usually means adding a little more salt, because I always under-season in case there is enough salt in other ingredients. I may also add more pepper if it needs a better kick, and maybe a little more paprika or smoked paprika. You really need to experiment to develop a taste for what works best in your family.
Stir well one more time, then serve - be careful, it will be burning lava hot!
Yesterday I finished up the ending to my upcoming science-fiction novel, Visitor, other than a few loose ends I still need to draft. I am very excited!
This is only my first draft of the rewrite (the original was written over 15 years ago for those of you who haven't read my other articles on this book). My next steps now are to go back and fix everything that may not make sense based on the final outcome, and fix any loose ends I left along the way. I will also be re-checking grammar as well as replacing words and filling out scenes with insufficient setting descriptions.
Once I complete those tasks, I will be ready to share my story with my beta-readers! If anyone is interesting in becoming one to help shape the final version, please e-mail me at author @ waynemeyers.com
What's interesting is this was written originally to become a short first novel, and sadly back then I kind of tossed it together without the same "heart" I put into my other unpublished manuscripts. Well, I'm thrilled to say that after re-editing most of the story, and re-writing the entire ending, I have now infused the missing ingredient and have created something I am actually proud to have written! I've gone from 80k words to 110k, and we'll see where I finally end up. For conventional publishing this may be a bit long for a first novel, but since I plan to take the e-publishing route I prefer writing the story until I feel its done, not to pacify some publisher's notion of how many pages of print are worth risking on a new author. I also want my readers to get their money's worth! In my personal view, a reasonable minimum word length for a digital adult fiction book should be at least 100k words. I've been surprised seeing some of the digital stories out there based on the amount the author is charging, and the size of the story.
At the end of the day its about giving the readers what they want, which I still have a great deal to learn about. Hopefully Visitor, once fully complete, will meet those demands!
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"Visitor" was originally written over 15 years ago as my second "serious' work. The first novel I wrote, "Peacekeeper's Passage", was very long and from what I was learning a first novel needed to be shorter. So, after I was unsuccessful publishing PP, I decided to write something less monolithic that would serve as an introductory novel enabling me to eventually publish my most important and dearer piece.
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I don't care of you are the most fascinating story teller in the world, with a vocabulary that would make Webster jealous, and a mastery of prose to put Shakespeare to shame - your book isn't going to write itself.
I have been writing fiction since I was about ten years old. My first story consisted of the flowers on my bed sheets coming to life at night as I slipped into a magical world within my own bedroom. My teacher enjoyed the story so much she made sure the principal read it as well.
Over the years I have continued writing for fun on and off but decided to become serious about getting published in 1996.
During the past sixteen years or so I have stopped writing many times for various reasons but always gravitate back towards my love of creating a story that did not exist before I captured the essence of my imagination and put it into words.
I hope you find those words as enjoyable to read as I did to write them for you.
I may not be qualified as of the time of this writing since I am not yet published, but I will offer my advice regardless. How to become a published author?
What is inOrbit Publishing?
Well, all self-publishers need an imprint name to publish under if they don't want to accept a partner's business name. For example, if you use CreateSpace's free ISBN service then your book will appear with their name as the publishers.
So why not use something like Wayne's Publishing or heaven forbid, Wayne's World?
I wanted something unique that sounds exciting and mysterious, something to inspire people to speculate what it all means. In orbit, hmm, is the publisher from another world? Do they feel they are circling the Earth watching us from space? Does it perhaps represent the inherent nature of all people to navigate about each other through life, one person orbiting another in an endless cycle of learning and evolution?
Well, don't think about too hard, unless of course you really want to. My wife came up with the name a long time ago and I always thought it sounded cool but didn't have a reason to utilize it until I entered the exciting world of self publishing. I put together the logo, secured the domain, and put it down on forms where the publisher's name is required.
Here's another bit of trivia you may find of interest - the orb in the logo is actually a photo of the full moon I took one night many years ago. Now you know.