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.


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.

Alice the Fifth, A novel by M.E. Mustizer.

I began this journey on March 9th of this year. A few days prior, I had finished up the writing the rough draft of my second novel, The Samurai and the Mountain. I was dead set on going on vacation to Cancun for a week to just set the book aside and let it fester in my head to dive headlong into the editing once I returned. That didn't happen. It turned out to be one hell of a snowstorm the day we were supposed to leave and we were holed up in a blizzard in a hotel in Syracuse, NY waiting for the runways to be cleared. At some point in those few days, an idea flickered on inside my head. An idea that stemmed from my original novel, The Seven Isaacs. It became a what if situation and the title showed itself to me. Alice the Fifth. I wouldn't say Alice is a sequel to the Seven Isaacs, but she definitely was influenced by it.

It all began there. In a hotel room, a few hours into a long, long wait for a flight time. I opened the iPad and the words began to flow. Alice only grew from there. Determined to not let the creativity slip away, as it so often can, I held my self to a schedule. To ritualistic writing. Pressfield's resistance is real and it is very hard to shake. The only cure for the resistance is routine. And that, I had established during the final months of Samurai. This routine came easy. Alice was fun and exciting. She was new and she was hot.

Right from the get go, I felt that I was onto something new and exciting for me. I knew I had found my voice with Alice. I was writing whatever the fuck I wanted. There's cursing. There's sex. There's nudity. Hell, there's even fucking emojis in the damn thing. And that's only the first three chapters. Writing in that way loosened the reins on my control and just let Alice become Alice. They always tell you to write what you know and I've never agreed with that. Yet with Alice, I wrote what I know in my own way and she opened creative doors that encouraged me to take leaps and just write. She let me be bold. She let me break some rules. She let me be whatever I wanted. It was a very refreshing experience.

Now, not to be mistaken, writing a novel is a task. It wasn't easy in the least bit. Each chapter provided new and confusing challenges for me that, again through routine and constant writing I was able to tackle head on and move past them. Yes, Alice became work, but it was work that I enjoyed. There were nights that I didn't even want to look at the bitch. There were days where all I wanted was to sleep in and forget the whole lot. Resistance. Dedication made Alice happen.

I am very proud of the now completed novel (rough draft), Alice the Fifth. It was an exciting experience for me, that yes, still needs a fuck load of work. I will deal with that work some other time. Alice was growth for me. She was a necessary step in a hopefully lucrative and long career in writing. I would love to be able to write for a living and quit my day job. Alice might not be the one to get me there, but she was my master's class in novel writing and the art of creativity.

I am looking forewarn to going back to the rewrite, copy edit and story editing. I blazed though the 625 pages. 125,000 words. I am curious to read what I wrote. To be honest, I don't have a fucking clue what happened at the beginning of the book. I do know that I connected all the dots and put everything together with a nice little bow and a shocking twist that even I didn't see until writing the last pages of the book. My planned ending was tossed out when the writing, The Universe brought me to the true ending of the book. It brought tears to my eyes. This book is a rollercoaster of emotions. I cried twice during the writing of it. I laughed a lot. And, I got excited for the exciting parts. I'm in love with Alice and now that she's finished, I am not quite sure what to do with myself now. That would explain why this post is one of the longest.

I suppose I should mention and thank my other half for the support while writing this book. She bought me the iPad that made this life so much easier for me. She's the one that nested beside me, kept me sane and slept just like this every night I would drink a little too much and write until the early morning hours. I probably couldn't have made it through this book without her clamoring to read my pages and forcing me to move forward on those days where I really didn't want to write. Thank you. I couldn't have done this without you.

Alice the Fifth. Rough Draft. 624 pages. 125,000 words. March 9th, 2017 – July 27th, 2017.

New High Score …and still counting

I know I've been teasing quite a bit lately about how close I am to the finish. A couple weeks back I mapped out the final seven chapters. Then I kept going and changed a few things here and there and then managed to get self down to five remaining chapters. The chapters kept growing and growing and growing. The chapters at the beginning of the book were averaging 3500 words. By the late middle/early end, we're averaging almost 6,000 words per chapter. I can't help it so much. It's really just where the story takes me. Sometimes it will provide me an early stopping point, other times, there's just too much to do.

Finally, I am in a manageable place. I have two and a half chapters remaining until this book's rough draft is complete. It's a wild ride. I'm not going to lie. Theres a lot of tiny plot points that all come back at the end. Mysteries that you didn't even know needed to be solved will be solved and stuff you had forgotten about in the first couple of chapters becomes entirely relevant and important by the end. Don't say I never warned you.

Tonight. I have officially written more words and more pages than any other work that I have worked on in my life. …and yes, there's still those two and a half chapters to go. I am hoping they go relatively smoothly. There's a lot of action to create for the climax and I just hope the word count agrees with that. I would hate to come all this way and have a four page climax. I think we can all agree, we like our climaxes long and satisfying.

The great thing about being mobile with my workstation, which I realized today, that I have been working on a similarly mobile device for so many years. I would say it dates all the way back to 2002, back before tablets and smartphones and my own little cheap IBM workpad. It wasn't a thinkpad. That was something different. This was a sore excuse for a computer that I somehow managed to write screenplay after screenplay on use because it was portable. Just as I do now. Only now, fifteen years later, it's an ipad with a Logitech keyboard. I am also realizing that I may have to order a few back up keyboards as this one is taking quite a beating from my fast moving fingertips. Aaaanyway, here is a pic of me writing and working on a novel while waiting for the school bus to drop off the little one from summer rec.

Nothing’s going to get me down. 

The past few weeks, I have felt off.  High strung.  Dizzy.  Off center.  I noticed a fluttering in my chest that made me nervous.  It kept happening at various times throughout the day.  I did the right thing and went to get it checked out.  After an excruciating eleven hour visit of testing, I have no more answers now than I did then.  I get told that I didn’t have a heart attack, which I knew.  I did have high blood pressure that day, which for the past couple years, the visits to the doctor hit me with the same words.  I did prepare for this visit and brought along my writing gear and planned to spend the day writing.  Little did I realize that I was going to have monitors and shit on my fingers all day that made typing impossible.  That was rather irritating.   

A couple of days rest and some words were still written.  Not nearly as much as I would prefer, but words nonetheless.

I know that these updates on word counts, etc are probably boring as shit to you, but it doesn’t really matter.  It’s part of my process.  It helps me unwind and keeps the words coming over and over.   

Always writing. 

The end is near.  Alice is almost a full fledged ROUGH DRAFT.  I can tell already that there are massive parts that will need to be rearranged, shifted, moved, and deleted.  But, that’s all part of the process.  I’ll hopefully finish her up by the end of the month and the set her aside for a while to let those pages simmer.  Then, the rewrites begin.  

Tick Tock.  The end is near.

I’ve been busy.  That’s for certain.  I’ve got this bug in my ear and she is just prodding me and forcing me to write and write and write.  Alice is coming along spectacularly.  It’s the first piece of true creativity I’ve had inside me in a very long time.  Alice is inspiring.  It is a work unlike anything I’ve ever done before, yet still a culmination of everything I’ve ever done before.  It’s where I need to be.  The words just keep coming and coming.  This is my first true “Rough draft”.  I’m going to have so much work on this one after the fact, more than any of the other works I’ve ever done.  Everything has always come together smoothly and quickly.  This one… is a wonderfully precise and tightly wound mess.  

Tonight I hit a nice landmark with this book.  500 pages complete.  101,000 words.  

I still have some work to go, but we’re getting there.  Slowly.  

My writing routine is becoming a bit more solid.  I’ve been refusing to let summer take it’s toll on me and forcing those words to come out before everything escapes me.  I’m so close now.  So close.  I am so excited to see where this ragged bunch of fiends is going to end up.  I know where I’m going, but man, this journey is a trip.  

Oh yeah. I made some new cover art tonight.