Mark Terry

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Panning For Gold

August 21, 2008
At this point in time, I've got a nonfiction book proposal being read by an agent. I have a middle-grades novel manuscript out in the ether, I'm trying to wrap up a book-length business report, I'm in the middle of editing an issue of a technical journal, and I have two assignments due at the end of September, one a trade journal article, the other a couple profiles and directories to pull together.

So I'm also looking for work, sending out queries.

But I'm also trying to figure out what to do for the fiction and nonfiction book thing.

I've got a file going on a nonfiction book topic that is out there, way off my areas of expertise about a Dutch ship that sailed to Australia in the 1600s and had some very bizarre things happen to it and its crew. It actually might make a better historical novel, but this sort of falls into the this-is-so-weird-it-caught-my-attention category. I don't know if I'll actually do anything with it, but it's interesting.

I've got about 200 pages of a novel that takes place in China done and it's more or less stalled. I don't know what the problem is, but I can't seem to bring myself to work on it. Either it's an orphan or I'll get inspired in the future to finish it. I don't know.

An idea for a character and a setting (Galveston), but no real plot, at least not yet.

A handful of novel ideas, including a police procedural I haul out every 6 months or so and tinker with. A tech thriller that I tinker with from time to time as well.

And I've had an idea for another middle-grades novel and last night I started it. It was fun and at the moment, that's more or less what I'm looking for until some of these other things gel.

Of course, there are multiple things going on here. One is that I'm looking for the idea that inspires me the most. In fact, the idea for this book is one my son had, but I discussed his idea for it (since he "borrowed" my idea for iWolf, which I was calling I, Wolf) to see how different our ideas were and he's cool with me running with it. I'm also, naturally, hoping that whatever I dig into might be publishable. This is becoming a bigger and bigger concern for me because I'm getting tired of writing novels that don't get published. Yeah, you, too? Well, imagine that you did get novels published for a while and then it stopped for a bit. Trust me, it gets harder after that point, not easier. In theory it's easier because you know it can be done, but you're perceived a little differently by publishers at this point and there are both pros and cons to that perception.

Anyway, we'll see what happens.

How about you? What's on your plate?

Mark Terry


Blogger spyscribbler said...

I am writing so goshdarned slow it's driving me crazy. I have two 52,000 word novellas that need to be done yesterday. I have about three or four chapters left on one. And I haven't started the second one. And get this: I have to have the second one done by September 9. (Me: idiot!)

Then I've got an essay on Anita Blake due by October 1, which isn't so bad except I need to re-read or at least re-skim 18 novels to write it. Those 4,000 words will definitely take me the full month.

And I'm waiting for the right idea to grab me on the mainstream front. I also have a ton of studio work, busywork, that just will not stop. It's driving me nuts.

But after the essay, it sorta depends on my finances what I write.

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Amy Nathan said...

On my writing plate: the last quarter of my WIP; a column with my newspaper editor who said he'd read it yesterday; essays out on spec; contest submissions looming; idea files to be tinkered with as I pitch a glossy that expressed interested in hearing from me.

On my other plates: dogs, kids, laundry, finding affordable airfare to visit family in December, online dating, keeping up with friends, helping my son sell 10 tubs of cookie dough, finishing one or more of the few books I'm reading, waiting for the next season of Gossip Girl to begin. Oh let's not forget reading blogs, commenting and writing my new one.

Ah, such is life.

Otherwise I'd be complaining I was bored!

8:13 AM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

In my nonfiction life:

- Wrapping up two articles, one due this month, the other due October. The latter is a 7,000-word behemoth which I'm struggling to figure out where to cut because I got so much great information, with more on the way...

- My collaboration with a source who is very busy. He wants to work on a book with me, and I offered to ghostwrite and/or coauthor articles with him so that he would get some publishing credentials (to go along with his expertise). But his busy-ness makes me a little cautious... I really have to put the thumbscrews to him to work with me on my own deadline stuff...

On my fiction front:

- A police procedural I've had for years. I'm about 25,000 words into it but haven't been able to settle down and get into its mindset so as to push through the draft.

- Two novellas, each about one-third of the way done, both outlined; they'll be part of a loose trilogy, but again, I haven't been able to settle into their worlds (though at least that would be easier than with the above project, because they are set up better).

- A number of short stories I've never been able to finish. Those I'll likely have to leave hanging until the "right" idea strikes.

I've been wondering whether, as far as fiction goes, it's really OK to let it slide for awhile... or whether I need to bull through it. I'm sure there are authors that would tell me to bull through the lack of ambition.

But knowing myself as I do... I would not want that to stress me out and make me cranky. My kids are so very sensitive at the ages they're at, and they act out if they sense the least little bit of stress on my part... then I wouldn't get any writing done anyway!

So things hang in a delicate balance right now, and I'm just trying to take things one day at a time.

8:18 AM  
Anonymous JES said...

Non-fiction: wholly devoted, for now, to blogging. (I hate the whole idea of needing a so-called platform but that seems to be the conventional wisdom anymore, even for writers not that interested in writing non-fiction professionally.)

Fiction: one novel in the can, just in the early stages of something you might call "marketing." Starting to noodle around with a sequel, but profoundly distracted both by the explicit marketing on book 1 and by, yes, blogging.

I've had nowhere near the fiction success you've had -- just one novel, in '92 -- but am feeling your pain re: having been "published for a while and then it stopped for a bit." (I did a number of tech books, none very successful sales-wise, but the last one was in 2002. At which point I said, y'know, This is stupid: you don't want to write this stuff.)

8:29 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

Having finally, temporarily, caught up on my legal writing, I'm assisting Mary with the eighth Byzantine mystery. I'm actually wondering when I'll get time to finish that. Never mind other projects. Well, we long ago finished our Victorian occult thriller which no one has shown any interest in.

Over the years I've seen a lot of ideas for books eventually turn up their toes because I never found time to do anything about them. However, I don't feel so bad about that any longer since I recognize that most would have been unmarketable. I think that's a major problem now -- the only ideas I have which I consider myself capable of writing and which enthuse me are obviously unmarketable.

Luckily, however, we do still have a few more Byzantine books that might be written.

9:26 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

My PI novel is back on submission after a major rewrite.

I'm also working on a werewolf thing (YA). All the cool kids are doing it. :)

10:57 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

The girls seem to like the vampires, the guys seem to like werewolves. What's up with that?

(In "Dance Macabre" Stephen King suggests that the appeal of the vampire story has always been that it's about sex from the neck up.

He compares the werewolf story to Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde, suggesting it's all about throwing our superegos off and letting our ids out to play. There might be something there after all).

11:25 AM  
Blogger MissWrite said...

You know, I've heard that pretty often concerning the having been published and then having a dry spell. With so much on your plate though, it seems like a better outlook might be it's just another part of the evolutionary process and you're sure not without options and work. LOL

11:33 AM  
Blogger MissWrite said...

Actually, I left out my own laundry list. At the moment I am working daily on web content work (my main income), I have a 1/4 finished non-fic that I'm working on and need to have finished by the end of September, and an article on canine psychology as a training aid due by mid-September.

11:36 AM  
Blogger Jude Hardin said...

Mark: Here's a cool reference I found on the Gutenberg site.

11:48 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Interesting. I once read a SF novel where the "special forces" were all varieties of were-animals, like were-wolves, were-bears, etc. I think the main character may have been a were-bear, actually.

And really, Miswrite, does this canine psychology have anything to do with werewolves?

11:52 AM  
Blogger MissWrite said...

LOL Mark, according to some of the dog owners--maybe.

1:30 PM  
Blogger Zoe Winters said...

nonfiction: working on a website launch.

Fiction: finished a novella, polishing the novella before it. Edits on a novel. Plans for a podcast.

Designing a new website.

7:03 PM  
Blogger Aimless Writer said...

I have a manuscript that was rejected with a note that if I can fix the POV she would love to look at it again. Now rewriting. Two other's that are done and in rewrites. I applied to a couple of copywriter jobs in hopes that I don't have to go out and find a real job. (Praying for this!)
Cast party at my house this weekend ((cringe)). My dd birthday on Monday and sending other dd off to college the following Sunday.
Let me know when its September!

6:02 AM  

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