October 29, 2010
A few weeks ago, prior to their first marching band competition, the band director gave the kids a pep talk. One of the things he said was they were the "Now Generation," that they were used to getting instant gratification, and they had been rehearsing for weeks (about 8 or 9) without going to a competition (although they performed at football games), and now they were at that point where all their hard work came to fruition. (And finished 4th out of 4. Great performance, but bands 2-4 all scored within 2 points of each other. Some life lessons are hard).
I sort of latched onto the "Now Generation" comment. I suspect there's some truth to that, although I don't like those kind of generalizations. I also think that we're all part of a "NOW gestalt" that technology has laid at our feet--we carry our smartphones with us so we're never out of touch, we have voicemail, email, text messages, IM; if you want information, it's at your fingertips; if you want a movie or TV show, download it instantly; order a book for your Kindle and it's in your e-reader within seconds. Same goes for music. You don't even need to wait for your favorite song to come up on the radio, you just choose a channel on satellite radio or Pandora or...
You get it.
But it made me think about everybody who's skipping the traditional route to publication and throwing up (interesting combination of two words there) their books on Kindle and Smashwords. The phrase "not ready for prime time" comes to mind. "Impatient" comes to mind.
For those of us of a certain age, I'm sure we can remember the ads featuring Orson Welles where he professes, "We shall sell no wine before its time."
I don't doubt there are writers who are publishing their books before their time.
At the same time, I'm aware that most other arts (and skilled crafts, etc) have a "not ready for prime time" avenue for people to be involved with. It's understood, rather like playing in the minor leagues, that these people have skill, but they need experience before they can break into the major leagues (and some never do). Music has bars and smaller concert venues, schools, churches, etc. Acting has theater and even cable shows and local theater groups, professional or otherwise. Things like painting and sculpture have craft fairs, etc. And by and large, people go to them and enjoy them and the artists/musicians, etc., use them as a training ground to hone their chops and build an audience and create a "brand."
So maybe this new age of Kindle and e-publishing is a good thing. If someone writes crap and puts it up on Kindle, if people hate it, they're less likely to buy the next one and more inclined to slam it on a review site (not that there's any consistency or, gulp, honor, to those reviews), and unlikely to recommend it to their friends.
So maybe it's a good thing. Some have called it a democratization of the publishing process. I do think it tends to take some of the control out of the hands of agents and editors and publishers and more control not necessarily to the writer, but to the AUDIENCE. Which is kind of interesting.
I Am Stunned
October 28, 2010
I just found out that THE FALLEN won the Thriller/Adventure category "Best Books 2010" Award from USABookNews.com. Here's the press release:
USA BOOK NEWS ANNOUNCES
WINNERS AND FINALISTS OF
THE “BEST BOOKS 2010” AWARDS
Mainstream & Independent Titles Score Top Honors in the
7th Annual “Best Books” Awards
LOS ANGELES – USABookNews.com, the premiere online magazine and review website for mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of THE “BEST BOOKS 2010” AWARDS (BBA) on October 26, 2010. Over 500 winners and finalists were announced in over 140 categories covering print and audio books. Awards were presented for titles published in 2010 and late 2009.
Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of USABookNews.com, said this year’s contest yielded an unprecedented number of entries, which were then narrowed down to over 500 winners and finalists.
Award highlights include the following:
(Full results listing available on USABooknews.com)
• I'm Still Standing: Memoirs of a Woman Soldier Held Captive by Shoshana Johnson and M.L. Doyle (Touchstone, Simon & Schuster) was honored in the “Autobiography/Memoirs” category
• Fading Echoes: A True Story of Rivalry and Brotherhood from the Football Field to the Fields of Honor by Mike Sielski (Berkley, an imprint of Penguin Group USA) was awarded “Best Biography”
• Accelerating Out of the Great Recession: How to Win in a Slow-Growth Economy by David Rhodes (McGraw-Hill) won the “Best General Business Book”
• The Stubborn Fat Fix by Valerie Berkowitz (Rodale) placed number one in the “Health/Diet” category
• Londongrad by Reggie Nadelson (Walker & Company, a division of Bloomsbury USA) took home the “Best Mystery/Suspense” prize
• The Fallen by Mark Terry (Oceanview Publishing) was awarded hottest new “Thriller/Adventure”
• Journey To You: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming Who You Were Born to Be by Steve Olsher (Bold Press) snagged “Best Self-Help Book”
• The New Path: My Life with Paramhansa Yogananda by Swami Kriyananda (Crystal Clarity Publishers) was honored as the “Best Spirituality Book of 2010”
• The “Best New Fiction Award” went to Fortuna by Michael Stevens (Oceanview Publishing)
• Living with Certainty: Experience Deep-Soul Joy by Kristi LeBlanc (Thundersnow Publishing LLC) was awarded “Best New Non-Fiction”
• Griffin: The Littlest Gargoyle by R.C. Frederick, illustrations by R.H. Obrero (randomUniverse) was given the top spot in the Children’s Picture Book category
• Full results listing available online at USABookNews.com
Keen says of the awards, now in their eighth year, “The 2010 results represent a phenomenal mix of books from a wide array of publishers throughout the United States.
With a full publicity and marketing campaign promoting the results of BBA, this year’s winners and finalists will gain additional media coverage for the upcoming holiday retail season.”
Winners and finalists traversed the publishing landscape: Simon & Schuster, Penguin/Putnum, Rodale, McGraw-Hill, John Wiley & Sons, Moody Publishers, American Cancer Society, Sourcebooks & hundreds of independent houses contributed to this year’s outstanding BBA competition. Keen adds, “BBA’s success begins with the enthusiastic participation of authors and publishers and continues with our distinguished panel of industry judges who bring to the table their extensive editorial, PR, marketing, and design expertise.”
USABookNews.com is an online publication providing coverage for books from mainstream and independent publishers to the world online community. JPX Media, in Los Angeles, California, is the parent company of USABookNews.com.
A complete list of the winners and finalists of the USABookNews.com National “Best Books 2010” Awards are available online at http://www.USABookNews.com.
Read 'Em And Weep
October 26, 2010
For some reason, when this title popped into my head, I asked myself, "Have you ever cried over a book?" My first reaction was "No." Out and out cried, no. I remember my 8th-grade social studies teacher, Mr. McKenzie, telling us (repeatedly) that we should read "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and if we could read it without crying, then we must really be coldhearted people. Well, I read it and didn't even get misty-eyed. (Not necessarily true of TV shows or film, but books, I would say rarely). This might just be a "guy" thing. I know some women who get misty-eyed or weepy over cotton commercials on TV. TV and film manipulates this rather easily, just cue the sappy music...
However, when I thought about it, I did realize that I had recently gotten a little misty-eyed during a book. I just finished re-reading HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS. Now, for those of you who haven't read the book or seen the movie, I'm going to have a spoiler or two or three here, so if you don't want that, time to go back to Internet porn or MSN.com or Facebook or your Twitter feeds. Okay?
No, I didn't cry when Hedgwig, Mad-Eye, Fred, Lupin, Tonks, or even Colin Creavey died. (Although I got a definite thrill when Mrs. Weasley takes on Bellatrix Lestrange, shouting, "Not my daughter, you bitch!" I totally cannot wait for that scene in the final movie).
What got me slightly misty-eyed (and hell, this was the third time I've read the book), was when Harry finally realizes what's in the snitch and uses one of the deathly hallows to bring back the spirits of his parents, Sirius Black, and Lupin to keep him company as he walks toward what he knows will be his death at the hands of Voldemort. JK Rowling totally nails that scene.
Because I write action-packed thrillers, I rarely get the opportunity (or reason) to write scenes that might bring a reader to tears. The emotions I'm aiming at are fear and exhilaration, adrenaline rushes, triumph.
But the point, perhaps, is that although by nature I veer toward the intellectual and rational (all those accusation of Obama being an "East Coast intellectual elite" left me thinking, "You say that as if it's a bad thing."), I understand that fiction primarily is about transferring emotions of some sort to the reader. Nonfiction is about sharing information clearly, and that's a component of fiction, but fiction really works best when it's transferring emotion of some sort.
So, what have you read lately that made you FEEL something?
The Writing Fantasy
October 22, 2010
I was inspired to try my hand at writing by an essay by Stephen King called "The Making of a Brand Name." I was in college at the time, struggling my way through a degree in microbiology and public health. I was at least as intrigued by the idea of selling a short story (money was very, very tight for me in college) for $50 or $100 as I was by the fact he received a $400,000 advance for "Carrie" (which had a 50/50 split with Doubleday, which sucked then and would suck now).
So my attempts to break into writing were definitely influenced by the "fantasy of writing," which goes something like this:
You get a great big advance for your book, six-figures at least. Your publisher really pushes your book. There are ads in USA Today and The New York Times. You get great reviews in The New York Times Book Review, maybe on the front page, and Publishers Weekly does an interview with you and even Kirkus, the "Mikey" of the review world, loves your book. You do book signings where hundreds of people show up and enthusiastically buy your book. You do TV interviews, say "Good Morning, America" or "Larry King" or "Oprah." You get movie deals and you get to fly out to California and discuss things with movie execs while you stay at the Hollywood Hilton and get a limo ride in to the studio. Your movie actually gets made and you get to go to the premier and walk on the red carpet and hang out with George Clooney or Nick Cage or Naomi Watts. While the movie is being filmed you get to visit the set, talk to the director and actors, maybe even get a little cameo. All your friends and family will be so impressed and in your city people will say, "Hey, you're that writer!"
In short, your life has changed and there's excitement and glamour and "being an author" is a really, really cool thing.
In reality--at least in my case and I suspect in most novelist's case--it's more like this:
You get a tiny advance that won't even pay a single mortgage payment. Your publisher's idea of pushing your book means listing it in their catalogue and sending out a handful of advanced review copies. The first question they ask you upon or before signing the contract is: "So, what are you going to do to promote your book?" They don't put ads anywhere. Not only don't you get on the front page of The New York Times Book Review, you don't get reviewed by them at all--and in fact, your opus doesn't get reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Library Journal or your local big city newspaper. Maybe, if you're lucky, Harriet Klausner reviews it on Amazon. You get some bookstores to reluctantly do book signings, and 7 people talk to you over the course of 3 hours and you sell 3 books (or 1). One of those persons tells you she doesn't like your type of book. Three are aspiring writers who want to tell you about their work. One will say maybe their husband will like it, then wander away. Two will complain to you about how high-priced books are. No TV interviews except maybe for your local Cable Access channel, right between your township board meeting and the replay of last week's high school football game. You do a radio interview with a drive-time program in a different state that lasts 5 minutes and you have no idea if anyone even listened to it, particularly since the DJs barely let you get in a word between their jokes. A film producer tells you how much they love your book, what a great movie it will be, then you never hear from them again and they won't return your or your agent's calls or emails. Your family reads your book but your Dad says there's too much swearing, your Mom wants to know why you made the mother character so creepy, your sister loves it, your brother says he never got around to reading it, your friend's don't mention it at all or say they're waiting for it to come out in paperback, you'll get an article in your local newspaper where they get the title wrong and someone will invariably say, "Hey, I saw that article about you in the paper, I might buy that book someday, do they sell it at Walmart?" Or, "I don't read mysteries (thrillers, romance, SF, fantasy, etc)."
But... you're THAT writer guy.
How about you? How does reality compare to the fantasy?
Happy Anniversary To Me
October 21, 2010
Today marks the 6th anniversary of full-time freelance writing. I love it. And in celebration, I'm posting this YouTube clip. I find it motivating for a lot of different reasons (yeah, I know). But one I'll point is out this: it takes a hell of a lot of work to make something look this easy. And I think that may be my own lesson from 6 years of making a living as a writer.
Also, you know, watch the video to the end. That's pretty cool, isn't it?
A Birthday Conversation
October 20, 2010
Today is my oldest son's 17th birthday. Happy Birthday, Ian!
In a weird circumstance, Ian has a half-day of school today, starting school around noon (weird) because the freshmen and sophomores have MEAP testing. As a result, he and I took Frodo for a walk this morning, which gives us a decent uninterrupted chance to talk.
We talked about college and if he was still considering getting a degree in creative writing (yes, he's interested).
This is not a terribly easy topic for me to discuss with him, actually. I know how tough it is. On the one hand, why not? Pursue your passions, go for it. On the other hand, I'm a skeptic of creative writing programs, because although they give you plenty of opportunities to write, which is good, and presumably give you useful feedback, if they were so great you'd think all writers would benefit from them, but I just don't believe that to be true. Writing is something you learn primarily by doing and being persistent, although I don't doubt useful feedback might help, although the quality of academic-based feedback is somewhat suspect, in my opinion.
So when I suggested he stay open-minded to the communications programs, or technical writing, which would actually give you some usable skills to go along the ability to stay in a writing program, well, I'm just being Dad and I accept a certain amount of eye-rolling is involved on his part. In fact, if I give him any fatherly advice about pursuing your dreams that I hope he takes to heart, it's "stay open-minded." Stay open-minded to writing opportunities or other work and creative opportunities that may come your way. Because those doorways can lead to some wonderful places, both in terms of economics and personal satisfaction.
I also know that, in life, we all need to find our own way. And that's probably truer in making a living in the arts, although I think it just applies to dealing with life.
In which respect, I think Ian will do just fine. If he chooses to pursue a creative writing program with the hopes of being a novelist and/or scriptwriter, I know all too well how brutally disheartening--and satisfying--such a path can be. I wish him the best of luck. As I said yesterday, don't quit your daydream.
Don't Quit Your Daydream
October 19, 2010
I ran across that headline for a guest speaker while trolling through press releases today and I thought, well, he's right, isn't it?
Sunshine or Rain?
October 18, 2010
Stephen King once said, when asked what the difference was between the books published under his name and the books published under his pseudonym, Richard Bachman, "The ones I write on a sunny day have my name on them; the ones with Richard Bachman were on rainy days."
I'm paraphrasing, and I'm sure he was speaking metaphorically, but I understand. In fact, having read some of the Bachman books, I TOTALLY understand.
But I was wondering, do you sometimes have sunny writing days versus rainy writing days? I know I do. (And today's probably rainy, should I actually get my act together and write something).
October 14, 2010
Last night I ran down to the basement to get some ice cream from the freezer. We bought this chest freezer for about $50 a dozen years ago that works fairly well, except that the lid doesn't seal really well. To remedy that situation, we went with a redneck solution--we put two paint cans and a plastic container full of fish tank gravel on it to weigh it down. Yeah, I know.
But the point is, as I was doing this, I thought: This would be an interesting little detail in a novel, wouldn't it?
Not: He went to get ice cream from the freezer.
But: The freezer seal was warped and to keep the lid shut, he kept two paint cans and a plastic container of fish tank gravel on top. It was a nuisance. Every time he wanted to get something out of the freezer they all had to come off, then go back on again. Maybe he should do something about that. But he didn't, he put them back on and went upstairs with the ice cream.
An odd detail, but an interesting one if it were in fiction.
It made me think about Stephen King's "Bag of Bones" where once Michael Noonan goes to his Maine vacation home, we're treated to a stuffed moose head on the wall that he and his late-wife named Bunter. His wife had put a bell on a velvet ribbon around the moose's neck. It was a private joke between the two of them. Whenever they made love on the sofa beneath Bunter, they referred to it as "ringing Bunter's bell." What a little piece of rich detail in a novel filled with them.
What do you think? Is the devil in the details?
The Writer's 10 Commandments
October 13, 2010
I got these from a burning bush. Honest.
I. Thou shalt consider the reader. Yes, yes, it's fine to write to entertain yourself, but therein leads self-indulgent unpublishable garbage. Keep the reader in mind.
II. Thou shalt make your main character miserable. Therein lies drama, even in comedy.
III. Thou shalt learn the business. Even if your goal is to become a self-publishing Kindle guru, once the royalties trickle in, you're in business. Figure it out.
IV. Thou shalt complete the work. An incomplete novel manuscript is worthless to anyone except you as a learning exercise. Otherwise it has little if any marketing value. Finish what you start.
V. Thou shalt make thy main character flawed. 'nuff said.
VI. Thou shalt do your research. I'm reading "Painted Ladies" by the late Robert B. Parker. I'm not even sure if he wrote it, it sure feels different. But the lack of research about things like guns and the forensics of bomb making, unfortunately, feels like vintage Parker. Assuming God didn't invent the Internet to primarily make pornography more accessible to everyone, its primary purpose is to provide easy access to information. Use it.
VII. Thou shalt market. Unless you're going straight to Kindle, but otherwise, unless you're writing primarily to amuse yourself, you've got to send your work out to the world to consider. And once published, even self-published, you need to do at least a little marketing.
VIII. Thou shalt grow a thick skin. Because someone, somewhere, is going to say or write something about your work that offends you. Get used to it. I have no intention of telling a surgeon how to do their job or a lawyer or an accountant, and I try not to tell my kids' teachers how to do their jobs (mostly), but everyone wants to tell writers how to do their jobs.
IX. Thou shalt enjoy the process. Because God knows, there's plenty about the business end of writing and publishing that sucks dead bears, you should at least try to enjoy the process of writing. And if you don't, hell, find something else to do.
X. Your turn. You tell me what X is.
Bond, James Bond or Miss Marple?
October 12, 2010
Do you write about heroes or everyday people?
Obviously Derek Stillwater falls into the hero category. My Theo MacGreggor collection of novellas (and the resulting unpublished novels) were much more everyday people.
In one of my wips, China Fire, the main character is a CIA agent, Monaco Grace. But she hooks up with an in-over-his-head college professor, Alan Richter. As written, it's about a hero. But I've considered the possibility--and discussed it briefly with an agent although it sometimes seemed like we were discussing two different books--of rewriting it from the POV of Richter. I still consider that. It would be a vastly different book, that's for certain. But you deal less with trade craft in that type of book and more with a normal person being clever and using his wits.
I like both, actually, though in my reading I tend more toward heroes. Perhaps it's the Walter Mitty fantasy aspect of it, living exciting lives vicariously through heroic supermen (and women).
How about you? Which do you like to read? Which do you like to write?
October 11, 2010
A few weeks ago one of the black belts, Amy Hinkle, who is doing a bunch of photography projects, said she needed to take a picture of something related to gravity. Would my son and I, Ian, do something in our style of karate called a "dump." (Yeah, I know, so elegant). A "dump" is somewhat differentiated from a "throw" which is different than, say, a "flip." It's mostly just moving your opponent's center, moving them somewhere else. It may or may not mean knocking them to the ground or throwing them, although it can.
Problem is, Ian doesn't like to go to the ground, and he wasn't really helping me here. So he really planted his stance and gave the "ain't gonna happen" attitude.
Amy took this with her camera phone by the way, and I think it's a fairly interesting photograph.
Oh, and a writing link. John Scalzi went back a decade
to see what he had to say about writing for fun, as he was debating about spending time on writing fiction when he was doing just fine writing nonfiction. This is a debate I have with myself CONSTANTLY, so I found it interesting.
E-Books Are A Fad
October 8, 2010
Are they? No idea. I think the media is sort of driving it, but I'm not sure the general public is as interested as the media is. And I'm all too aware that my online buds are made up primarily of writers and voracious readers, yet my real-world buds are typically non-writers (God bless 'em) and more casual readers.
I wondered after I read a short piece yesterday on Shelf Report where someone noted the number of people he knew who had bought an e-reader, tried it, then stuck it in a drawer with all the rest of the electronic junk they never use.
I thought it was an interesting (and wistful and probably incorrect) observation. However, I have noted that on Facebook and on other blogs and social media that there are a number of people who have made pretty much the same comment.
I also had a conversation with a friend of mine this week where we compared how much we'd spent on Kindles as we watched the prices drop through the floor--I got mine for $189, but it's since dropped to $139, and if it hits $99 like many people think it will around Christmas, one or both of my kids might get one (maybe. youngest son claims he'll read more if he has a Kindle, but I suspect we'll still have to nag him, yet we'll be out $99 and still have to buy him books). I believe my friend bought hers for $259 or so, but someone else she knows bought at the original price, which was something like $359. Ouch! The $189 price convinced me it was viable, but I wouldn't shell out over $200 (personally) for a dedicated e-reader. But that's just me.
Of course, after yet another self-congratulatory blog post about how much money he's making by self-publishing e-books, how he's right and everybody who disagrees with him is wrong, and in particular how he knows more about how publishing works than the CEOs of the companies who actually, you know, have access to financial data to base their comments on....
Oh, never mind. I'm not giving him any more bandwidth...
I saw a video where they asked Stephen King about it and he made the quite insightful comment, I thought, that it would all come down to the talent and the stories, and the format and delivery system was completely secondary.
(And as an aside, the furor and media coverage and author proclamations sound completely identical to what occurred about 10 years ago or so when iUniverse and print-on-demand publishing came about; and rather similar to the "blogs-will-destroy-journalism" hysterics of, well, just a couple years ago).
And one of the things that makes me doubtful that e-books will completely destroy paper books is that, as a delivery system, the paper book, although somewhat inefficient from a manufacturing/warehousing point of view, is wonderfully efficient, effective, and trouble-free from the consumer/user point of view. I think you can argue that CDs, DVDs, digital downloads, cell phones, smartphones, iPods, etc., have made the actual ACT of listening to music, watching TV or movies, a better experience because of the quality of the sound, the portability, the quality of the images, etc., I really don't think e-books do that.
E-books make storage easier, they make font adjustment easier, they certainly making buying books easier and more convenient, but aside from that, there are downsides like ugly formatting issues (at least on the Kindle), it requires electricity, and it's breakable (and in terms of long-term storage issues I'm skeptical, because device manufacturers just love to screw around with format and compatibility of their products--doesn't it bother anyone yet that the devices, for the most part, are geared to a specific retailer?). As King commented at the end of his CNN piece, if you drop your book in the toilet, you can always use a blower dryer to dry it off and still read it. If you drop your Kindle in the toilet...
Do I like my Kindle? Yes. Do I read books on it? Yes. Do I buy books for it? Hell yes. Do I still read paper books? Yes. Do I still buy paper books? Definitely, especially favorite authors or reference-type materials I want on the shelf. Do I intend to continue doing both? Yes. Can I envision stopping buying paper books and only buying e-books? Mmmmmm, maybe, maybe not. If paper book prices increase dramatically and e-book prices remain somewhat lower (and e-reader owners are astonishingly and somewhat selfishly--in my opinion--almost violently outspoken on this issue, giving horrid online reviews and one-star ratings because they're pissed about the price of a book), who's to say? Paper books could get priced out of the market.
Hot Money, a little marketing history
October 7, 2010
As I mentioned yesterday, I e-published Hot Money
, which features Austin Davis, a political consultant. The book itself sort of resembles a PI novel with a first-person narrative, and in many ways I think of Austin as a PI whose clients just happen to be U.S. senators and representatives. Austin is many things, including intelligent, articulate, funny, arrogant, wry, a clothes horse, an appreciator of fine wine and fine foods, manipulative, tough, charming...
Anyway, when I wrote Hot Money I sent it off to my former agent, who loved it. And in a way that wasn't always the case, she marketed it quite aggressively. We got many very positive rejections, the most telling from an editor at Kensington who wanted to publish it, but when it went to the marketing department they said they felt it was too much of a caper novel and they had not had much success with caper novels (probably, one rather bitterly might muse, because they've decided ahead of time that they'll fail, so they don't market them; or publish them).
Around the same time, we put an announcement in Publishers' Lunch about one of the Derek Stillwater novels and/or contracts. These almost always resulted in film agents and/or scouts contacting my agent to read manuscripts. One of them asked to see that manuscript, and my agent mentioned Hot Money. The film agent loved Hot Money. Wait, wait, wait... back up.
She wasn't an agent. She was a strange Hollywood mix, a sort of itinerant producer. She would find projects she like, then take them to studios and/or production companies and try to get approval and funding to develop projects. And yes, she did have a track record. Anyway, she loved Hot Money and went to her contacts at various studios or production companies and tried to generate some interest.
What happened was fairly common with Hollywood (in my experience), which is they invariably got all excited about it for about 10 minutes, promised to read it RIGHT THIS WEEKEND, and then they disappeared into the gaping maw of Los Angeles never to be heard from again. But Hot Money did get shopped around and it did get read, often favorably, although to me "I really love it" in Hollywood is as common as "does not meet our needs" in New York. In Hollywood I'm inclined to believe that the only "I really love it" that matters is a signed check that doesn't bounce. That may be true in New York or elsewhere as well, but the LA crowd seems like the most disingenuous bunch on the planet, for whatever reason.
Anyway, somewhere in there my agent developed (or had) a relationship with another supposedly hotshot Hollywood agent, this one with a very serious track record. She showed him Hot Money, he liked it a lot and agreed to shop it around some ... until he discovered the deal with the producer, which is when he sort of blew up and cc'ed me in on his rant at my agent where he, among other things, accused her of being unprofessional, one of the key terms being "amateur hour."
Moving on a while later, I pressured my agent to come up with more markets for Hot Money. I suggested a couple. She sent them off, to no avail. At least, she said she did. At one point I got rather testy about this because several months would go by and she would not hear anything back from the editors and she told me she'd emailed them, but they had not responded. To which I suggested there was an interesting device called a "p-h-o-n-e" that was far harder to ignore, although why I should be teaching my...
Anyway, I digress. Again, we got some nibbles, but no bites. I spoke with my editor at my current publishing house about possibly them taking a look at it with the potential for it being published under a pseudonym. After my editor discussed it with the publisher (they had not read the manuscript), they decided they weren't a big enough publisher to be expanding in that fashion (take that any way you want, but I know they publish 2 series by at least one author and told me there were some difficulties in the marketplace with confusing the two...). She'd love to read it, etc., but they had no intention of publishing it, so I didn't bother.
At which point I decided to put it up on Kindle.
October 6, 2010
When politicians need a problem spun, they hire a political consultant. When they want a problem to go away, they hire Austin Davis. Not only does Austin know where the Beltway skeletons are buried, he's often the guy that buried them. When Senator Stephen McGarrity discovers a briefcase containing $1 million in his office, he hires Austin to find out what's going on and make it go away. But a lot of people want that million dollars and are willing to kill to get. But Austin Davis won't spin murder.
Let's just add that Austin is a particular favorite of mine and this book has a fairly interesting marketing history. Maybe I'll write about that tomorrow. And yes, I do plan to write more books featuring Austin Davis and publishing them on Kindle.
October 5, 2010
Last week I parted ways with my agent, for a plethora (yes, a plethora!) of reasons.
Yesterday I had a conversation with an agent about my partial manuscript for China Fire. I was reminded, quickly, how every agent has a different style and how they see things or don't see things in varied and manifestly different ways.
And that isn't to say that I found her comments wrong. It was more the moments between the comments that gave me pause, the ones that made me think, "If you really didn't read anything besides the first chapter, why are you talking about the rest of the manuscript as if you did? When it really, really seems clear to me that you didn't do anything more than read the first chapter, then pick bits and pieces throughout the rest of the manuscript and skim sections."
Like I said, an interesting conversation, and we had other things to discuss besides China Fire, which this agent--for whatever reasons--seemed far more interested in discussing.
Sometimes I feel like quitting...
October 4, 2010
Today's not that day, by the way. But I think long-time readers of this blog (both of you!) realize that I go through moods where fiction writing is concerned where I wonder why I'm bothering. It's not the money. It's not fame, such as it is (don't have it and don't want it).
A friend of mine commented to me yesterday that things like writing novels must be "a labor of love."
I suppose so. I know there's an addictive quality to writing fiction. I like being the first person to "know" this particular story. I'm exploring ideas and events that are important and/or of interest to me. I suppose I "have something to say." Or there's some level of communication going on, sharing my stories with other ideas.
And I would point out that although I go through funks about writing fiction, I've been writing it something like 25 years now and there's no real sign I'm going to quit. Maybe "do as I do, not as I say" is right. Or, "do as I do, not as I feel."
Because when it comes down to it, I haven't quit yet.
Why do you write?
October 1, 2010
And this time I will allow: Because I have to. (Just try to expand on that, lest we believe you have undiagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder).
My answer: I don't know.