Back in the saddle… again

Greetings folks. It’s been a while. Life, as usual takes over for a while. I have been slowly, quietly editing Alice down to as few words as possible to make her the strongest work I can. Earlier this year, I made a round of submissions with the word counts attached and the general consensus was that the word count was too damn high. So, that’s been going on in the background.

In other news, today, I stepped back on the public stage and sang again for the first time in about five months or so. Last year I had been realizing that I was not happy singing in public. The summer and the year in general was wearing on my urge and desire to perform. In October, it was solidified by two horrendous weekends in a row. The first, I was heckled by drunken patrons for about three hours until I mouthed off and lost my shit on the dude. A week later, at a different location, I was pretty much at the end of some sexual harassment that I wasn’t enjoying or party to. In most eyes it would have been harmless fun. Two or three years ago, when I was drinking more, it would have been a blast. But, sober, and not looking for that sort of entertainment, it cut me harder than I expected it to. An older, not attractive woman decided that my bald head would be perfect as deodorant for her skanky boob sweat, and proceeded to drunkenly climb on the bar and yank my shirt until it tore as she lifted her shirt, trying to rub my head for luck? I’m not sure. She was drunk and her daughter, who was standing at the side of the room was horrified. Drunken gorillas like that have ridiculous brute strength.

I was not pleased. I was not happy. I decided that I don’t get paid enough for that shit. So, I took a break.

I am happy to say that six months later, I stepped out onto the stage again. I found a nice Sunday brunch to perform to and it was amazing to get back up there and work out those kinks. My voice was on point. As if I had never stopped. My guitar playing was pretty decent, although my lack of practice showed in my muscles and tendons. As of right now, I can barely type with my left hand, because my forearm aches so. But it was worth it. The venue was perfect. Right on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. The crowd was receptive and the management was very grateful. I had to play quieter than I am used to, but it was a good exercise and it was the perfect way to ease myself back into it all. I missed it.

Music is very therapeutic. Singing is some magical release of endorphins that makes the world right. The surprised and pleasant applause as ears hear your voice for the first time is just enough of an ego push to make it all better. It makes it all better. I’m glad I did it. It was a very good day.

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Catching Up and the Query Letter

Yes, I have been quiet on here lately. It’s been a while. It’ not unusual for me to disappear during the holidays for family and work. Things have been slowing down. I did spend the greater part of the last two months fine tuning and editing Alice. I still probably need another good run through on it (word count is a little high), but she’s good enough and ready for the world at the moment. With that, I began the arduous task of submitting to literary agents. If you think editing is a chore, it has nothing on submitting to literary agents.

Every submission from one agent and agency to the next is extremely and abashedly NOT the same. While they all want query letters, after that it’s a huge split on who wants what. Some want only the query letter. Other agents want a synopsis… which is a chore in and of itself. Some want a query letter and the hook. Others want five pages (pasted in the body of the email), others want fifteen pages in an attached pdf, or fifty pages in a word doc.

While I believe every interaction with your prospective agent should be personal and “the right fit,” I believe there should be an industry standard. Is five pages really enough? Should the synopsis be enough? Sure, everyone has their differences and has different needs, but can’t we compromise as an industry? I don’t think there’s a writer out there that wants to do the business end. I know I would gladly get back to the keyboard and work on Rebel. Sure, it’s a short story, but she needs her dedication as well. In a perfect world… I would have an assistant to do this for me!

Just random thoughts. Back to the email and the search for the my perfect fit for Alice.

Costa Rica and the Rebel

Look how the weeks slip by. I’ve quietly started another project. I’m not sure I am ready to talk about it just yet, but, yeah, I’m about 6,000 words in on something. I’m thinking maybe a novella or a short crime novel. I’m not sure what it is yet. It hasn’t quite revealed itself to me. So, I will let that slide for now. I think it might be fun though.

Part of the reason I have been quiet is because of the nice, relaxing trip to Costa Rica. Okay, maybe it wasn’t relaxing. It was work. Wonderful, amazing exercise and constant adventure.

Back in March there was a vacation in Riviera Maya where I sat by a pool and ate and drank for a week straight. Costa Rica had already been planned at that point… so we decided Costa Rica was going to be excursion filled. And excursion filled it was.

The trip began on a Friday and after around eight hours of travel, we made our way to the resort. All in all, the trip there wasn’t too horrible. We had a delay in Atlanta… because that’s how ATL works, but it didn’t take us long after that.

The first night, we just relaxed. We were both shocked at how fucking humid Costa Rica was. It was beautiful, warm and clean. That humidity was crushing, but who cares. This place is paradise. The first day, we took a bike tour. Saw some howler monkeys, some big ass iguanas and rode to a the small town of Panama. Not that Panama, but the Costa Rica one. It barely exists. It was an interesting look at the every day life.

The second day was our big “Mega Combo” day. We left the hotel early. It was already warm and sunny. Our tour guide met us at the resort lobby and began our hour long drive up into the highlands. In Costa Rica, there’s lowlands, midlands and highlands. Highlands… are volcanoes. As we’re driving, we see the rain off to the west, in the mountains. “Oh that’s where we’re going,”. Of course it is.

Luckily, it was still fairly warm where the rain on the mountain fell. We rode for about 45 minutes to the top of the mountain where we met our zip line guides. There it was. Twelve zip lines back down the mountain to the resorts. I have never been one for heights and this was certainly testing on me. It was pouring rain and the drop offs, the valley below the zip lines were ungodly deep. It was a challenge for me that I forced myself to charge through. It wasn’t the easiest thing I have ever done. It might come close to being the hardest. It was not easy for me at all. But, I did it. With Jil by my side, she kept me focused.

That was followed by volcanic steam sauna, mud baths and hot springs. Again, not my element, but it was a life experience nonetheless. Amazing.

The next day. A mountainside hike up to catch the sunset. Again, amazing. Day four… ATV tour. What a fucking blast that was. Three hours in the side roads, back roads, creeks, rivers, secluded beaches, washed out access roads… It was fucking wild. I could go on and on into so many details, but it was just an adventure on so many levels. The entire trip.

After that, we relaxed and took a day to ourselves. Costa Rica is an amazing country. The people are amazing. The countryside is clean and welcoming. I would go back in a second. And, the moment they fix that humidity thing… I’ll retire there.

One last thing:

Costa Rica trip video

Oh wait. One more thing that I did on vacation. I picked up the new family member.

Editing. World Events. Time to Impeach.

Editing is still coming along. I don’t write here as much as I am editing. When I am actually writing and creating, I subconsciously use this blog to keep the creative juices flowing. Editing is a different beast. I spend my energy focused on the minutiae of spelling and wording and overall plot crafting, that it becomes the job. It becomes the work. And I have no mindset to escape here for a few hundred words. I’m plugging away. I want to have Alice ready to submit to agents and publishers soon. I’m not editing as fast as I would like, but I am getting there.

I think today I came here less as a writing escape than a reality escape. I am not one for political discussion. That isn’t who I am. It never has been. BUT, I can’t help but feel like I am witnessing the fall of the Roman Empire firsthand. Ten years ago it was a joke that America was getting to fat and rich for it’s own good and that it would be great to sit back and enjoy the ride. Now that I’m on that ride, I think I’d like to get off. The last nine months have been an absolute shitshow of mind numbing events, from the election of a buffoon by the idiot populace, to dropping out of the Paris accords, to the violent protests sprouting up around the country. Charlottesville. Fake news. Real news. The building of the war machine to take on “The Rocket Man” in North Korea. And now, today, Las Vegas. The largest, (to date) mass shooting on American soil. (No, the slaughtering of the Native Americans still doesn’t count)

I am at a loss for words. What can we do to restore order to this particular shift in this world? We fell into an alternate timeline. This is what happens when some dipshit goes back in time and accidentally kills the wrong person… or in this case pushes the republican and democratic parties to give this nation two absolutely ridiculous candidates. I have no doubt that had the other won, this timeline wouldn’t bee to far off from what we are now. I think we can all agree that President Obama was the president this country needed at the time we needed it most and we needed to change the rules to let that man stay in office, had he wanted to. At this point, removing Trump from office would be a huge start, but I am afraid that this dark timeline might be irreparable. The butterfly effect has taken hold and we, as a country, could be witnessing the very beginnings to the end of society as we are used to. Big government has been a problem for quite a few years. It got bloated and too many pockets were filled by corporate no-gooders. Yet, Barrack Obama managed to sidestep all of that and lead with honor, integrity and grace. He was the father that this country needed. Values. Poise. Wisdom. Not pussy grabbing. Urinating porn starring. Reality TV host.

I’m starting to wonder what can be done to fix this place we live in. It’s a sorry state. That’s for certain. This country won’t survive another three years and two months. The president is not leading this country the way it needs to be led. He’s golfing. He’s tweeting. He’s starting online fights with dictators from across the world. He’s literally cyber bullying Kim Jong Un. Really? That’s not the office of president. As I grew up, the office of president was one of respect. I’m afraid that no one will respect that seat for the rest of time. We’re going to have to change and we’re going to have to change fast. With North Korea comes China. With China comes Russia. How long will the UN stand by? How long with the American people stand by while this “Leader” runs us straight into a war that cannot be won? How long? What is it going to take for the world to see that this man needs to be removed from office? He’s an unfit leader. He’s a bully. And in America, the bully never wins. We can’t let him win this time.

Am I saying that our president brought about the events in Vegas today? Hell no. Not at all. All I am saying is, that this world is a beautiful place. This country is not. We are becoming the Wild West all over again. We need someone to bring us away from that. And our president is not that man. He has his own agendas and they are the agenda of the American people.

Editing Alice

After spending a few weeks working on proofreading and editing The Samurai and the Mountain, I just all but abandoned it. Alice was calling to me once more. The recent twitter hashtag day of manuscript wish list, a day where agents and publishes hashtag out what they are dreaming of finding from authors, led me straight to Alice. I quickly went through, having two novels nowhere near ready to submit, I found myself drifting into floating the words out there about Alice. She’s obviously the one I am more passionate about at this point.

Samurai (now) almost seems like it was a 120,000 word exercise to prepare me for all things Alice. I know Samurai will find it’s way. I am working myself back into the habit of daily proofing and editing now. It will only be a matter of time. Alice is just much more commercial. Samurai, as my dear blog readers know, is my pet project that has been in my head for fifteen years. It’s a personal agenda and it just had to be done. Alice, is a force of nature and craves an audience. So I am giving her her due first. I am going to prep her and get her ready for the masses and the agents and the publishers. Somewhere out there someone will latch on as much as I have, and as much as my test readers have.

I’m a third of the way through the book right now, reading most of this material for the first time. Jilian has read this work more than I have. As I read, I am amazed at how well the book flows. Even in it’s rough draft form, it is paced very well and the words just roll from one chapter from the next. Even when I feel I’ve hit a wall while editing, I turn the page and something catches my eye and suddenly I’m another chapter in.

Alice gets me excited. I’m looking forward to sharing her with the world.

And yes, I print out each and every one of my works and make my corrections with a red pen. I’ve done it since my first screenplay, I’m certainly not going to stop now.

Summer.

SInce the rough draft of the latest novel has been finished, I have taken my time to just kick back and relax for the summer. I haven't had much to update here, because nothing exciting has been going on. I spent a week camping. I hit up some roller coasters. The family did as well. We worked in some water slides. I left all the writing behind. After that, I went back to the day job. I've spent far too much time geeking out over this season of Game of Thrones and spoiling the unwritten and unread books Mr. Martin has neglected to release. This is what summer is all about. Work behind me, enjoy the life worth living.

My nights are a lot more different when I'm not on a writing schedule. I truly don't know what to do with myself. I have been so into my routine that not doing it feels off, which is why I am writing right now. I don't even have anything to say, but my fingers and brain are craving words. The break is necessary though. I can tell that my creative juices aren't fully replenished yet. I have been jotting down some ideas and maybe doing a little more research on what could possibly be another novel. I did manage to start a list of book titles and brief synopses for them all, yet none of them have made enough of an impression yet to close the door and begin the work. That will come soon.

Next week I will begin the rewrite and first edit on The Samurai and the Mountain. The first novel of 2017. I'm still kind of in shock knowing that I put out over 1000 pages of material this year. Two novels in a seven months. That's a lot of work and that work has barely begun. I have started the process of finding the right literary agent to represent me. I now have three novels in desperate need of representation. That's the extent of it all. Flipping through the writer's market and finding those that pop out for me. Ones that my gut tingles for just a little bit. I want to find the right agent for the material, and for me. I'm not going to settle for just any agent, like I did with my long since absent film agent.

There. I put some words on a page tonight. I feel a little better. Time to let the summer festivities continue.