Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Long or Short

What do you think about reader's attention spans these days? I honestly believe Young Adult fiction is so popular right now because of its length and readability. You have Twitter, which is just insane, and I've even noticed commercials and ads on the radio getting shorter and shorter. It makes me wonder why so many writers don't like short stories. They're, well, SHORT. Flash fiction should be the most popular thing ever, but I don't think it is. I'm guessing readers - even the new short-attention-spanned generation - still like their stories complex and they don't even realize it. Then again, I think much of what is out there these days is fluff, but we can keep that for another post (and if you're thinking, oh my goodness, does she mean my book? no, I don't, because chances are that if we know each other you probably don't write fluff, but there can be exceptions because sometimes fluff is good and needed, trust me).

I had a blast writing my novella, and I'm itching to write another one, but first I have to work on my current novel and it's driving me nuts how long it takes to get through. It's only 74k, but it feels like forever after working on a sweet little 36k novella. I almost wonder if I've cheated myself out of being able to write longer works. I wonder if it's easier to write shorter things. Even though my novella was short, it was almost harder to keep it short than let it go long, if that makes sense.

Do you write long or short? Have you tried both? What are your thoughts on this?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Found a New Author

I read a lot of thrillers and most of them are from authors that I know. Every once in a while, I come upon a new author with a book good enough that I want to read more.

It happened last week. I found a book called "Lion's Game" by Nelson DeMille. It's a story about an ex-cop chasing a terrorist. If terrorist themes are not something you enjoy reading about, this book is probably not for you.

What I liked about this book is the protagonist. His name is John Corey, and he's a total smartass. I know there are some people that would think him juvenile, anti-authority, and a total pain, but what I like about him, is that he cuts through the all the procedural bull and gets the job done. Nelson really highlights how difficult a joint operation between different types of law enforcement can be. The story is the combination of a joint law enforcement operation, and an ex-cop that cuts through all the bureaucracy. It's the perfect scenario for this type of character.

I think that's half the battle sometimes, coming up with the right character, but also putting them in a situation that lets them show their true makeup.

Do you put your characters in situations that allow them to go beyond the words written on the page? If not, you're holding your characters and your story, back.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Literary WMD

Michelle's post got me thinking of an incident in one of my high school senior classes. I believe it was the last Creative Writing Course you could take, CW IV, I think.

The class was tweleve students,. me and eleven girls.

You know, I hate to say it now, but I think I loved that class and not for the subject mattter. I think pink fuzzy sweaters might have had something to do with it.

But I digress.

During the poetry writing section of the course, I vividly remember being dejected. Moody, even. Morose.

"Anthony, why the sad face," asked Mrs. Reid, the English teacher asked me while I was at her desk.

"My poetry sucks. All of it."

"Just yesterday the entire class loved your last poem."

"Oh yeah, look at what my girlfriend sent me in the nail." I handed her the poem.

Mrs. Reid read the poem and sighed.

"Look, some people are just naturally talented."

Another student snatched the poem from me as Mrs. Reid was handing it back.

She read it. "Oh geeze, excuse me while I go burn all my poetry in shame. Thanks, Anthony."

The rest of the class was very interested in the scene unfolding in front of the room. Mrs. Reid, in charge of the a dozen teenage angst-y writers, thought pretty quickly. "Class dismissed, we're done for the day."

I learned two things: In creative writing, no matter how good you think you are, you can, and will, run into someone better at it.

Also, some writing is just so damn good, it's a weapon of mass destruction. Use sparingly.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Never, Ever, Ever Enough

No matter what I do, I know I will always run across a comment or post or conversation where something makes me feel inferior. If I know someone just bought my book and then see a comment on their blog about how they're reading something that else that is just BLOWING them away, I think to myself, "Shouldn't they be reading MY book and being blown away by THAT one? How dare they read something else and think it's awesome."

Oh, wait, did I just admit that?

*looks around*

I did. Yes, I did.

We writers have mighty little egos, don't we? I often wonder if it's a good thing. I often wonder how mighty my little ego actually is. I really hate it when I get the feeling that a debut author is full of themselves as they promote their book left and right. I'll roll my eyes when I've seen it advertised somewhere for the 500th time. Then I published my own book and I knew that advertising everywhere was the only way to get the word out there so people heard about it and talked about it. Spread the word. Spread the love. Right? Is there a better way to do this without being annoying? I'm often wondering if I've been annoying with my own marketing, if I overestimate how good my book is, if I'll cry the first time a complete stranger marks it 1 out 5 stars and says publicly on an Amazon review how much they hate the book.

Then again, if these things truly bothered me I would never have published in the first place, and neither should you. Along with those mighty little egos, I think there's also a very fragile, frightened being inside of us. It doesn't take much for anyone to make me feel inferior, but one of my favorite quotes is Eleanor Roosevelt's, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."

In the end, I think we need our mighty little egos. We can set the ego aside when it is inappropriate to have a huge head, but in the end, it gives us that little bit of courage we need...

Monday, August 23, 2010

Lost Idea

I'll bet you're thinking this is a post about writing an episode of Lost. Well, that would be cool, but no, what I'm talking about is something that happened the other day.

I was talking to my wife and an idea for a scene hit me. It was a brilliantly poignant scene, funny, yet emotionally charged, sure to garner sympathy for the character, and render a clear description of their true behavior.

I was hurrying to get ready, so that I could go to the job that puts ink in my pens, and I didn't have time to write it down. Can you guess what happened? Yep, I lost it. I can't remember the scene, what it was about, how it would have benefited the character, ..... I got nothing.

You would think that if it was such a good scene that I would be able to remember at least some of the details. You would think. But for some reason, it's just gone. (Getting old much?)

I probably would have been able to remember it, if the scene had been attached to one of my new characters, but that was part of the problem, it wasn't. I don't have all the characters for the new WIP yet, so I had no one to attach it to. But it was such a great moment. Darn....

I've been wracking my brain for the last couple of days, and I'm still not able to recall anything. There's nothing up there but cobwebs. I may even have to employ desperate measures. Yep, as bad as it sounds, I may have to break down and ask the wife.

How about you? Have you ever thought of a great scene, or idea, and lost it because you forgot to write it down? Were you able to get it back later?

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Today is a pretty good day if I don't say so myself. Today, I was offered another book deal with Rhemalda (for a total of five: The Guardians trilogy, with two stand alone works in-between). The art you see to the right is a piece done by Eve Ventrue titled "once" and if everything goes as planned, it'll be the cover of Obsidian (with a couple minor alterations). Since it's the image that sparked the muse to begin with, I figured it was fitting...

The world where the story takes place is a dystopia, and unlike most cyberpunk novels I've read (or dystopic ones for that matter) the high-tech, low-society world, isn't our own. I know that technically breaks the rules for what can rightly be called cyberpunk, but when have I ever followed the rules? Pssssh. Never. I just broke one by not writing in complete sentences.

I have a deadline of November 1st. Can I complete it by then? Sure (don't ask how far along I am on this---I won't tell you). Like a good many second-book deals, this one was signed on spec. Kind of makes me feel official in a strange way. In fact, the moment that Rhemalda asked me about possible manuscript placement between the books in Guardians was the moment I felt like I'd accomplished everything I'd ever wanted to accomplish as an author. Honestly.

No, really. Remember, I rarely do things for the same reasons as 99% of the population. I don't care that Rhemalda isn't Random House or Tor. I love that they're small. It's never been about big advances or notoriety for me. It's always been about the writing...and it always will be. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I may do a lot of really vain, stupid stuff in my life, but I will never sell out.

Back to where I was going with this post...this deadline has brought up a topic that I've read about in other writing blogs and though I would like to think we steer away from the hashed over stuff here at Adventures in Writing, this one needs to be addressed again.

Writers and a career in writing, isn't unlike most other professions. Yes, there are some incredibly talented authors who made their living by doing other things and wrote in their spare time until they were established enough to do otherwise. But, they wrote in all of their spare time. Not just an hour a day. Maybe there are a few who managed to write one or two powerful books before hitting it big and then wrote nothing else. Those aren't career authors. That isn't what I'm talking about. I'm talking about John Grisham who held a full-time job as a lawyer and wrote feverishly until he was able to leave his job and write full-time. And you know what he did then?

I can tell you what he didn't do. He didn't wait on inspiration or the muse or a change in the winds.

I'm not as talented as Grisham---never will be. But, we have at least one thing in common: We both write full-time. I don't have children yet, and I don't have any other responsibilities that require attention like a 9-5 would. So, when I show up at the desk everyday, it's to work. My job is to write books--to be an author. You don't realize how long 40 hours really is until you have it, week after week at your disposal. Believe me, you'd write out of sheer boredom if nothing else.

There have been days when I might as well have typed my own name 5,000 times. We've all had them. But professionals push on through as many of those days as it takes in order to make it to where the good stuff comes creeping back in. And you know what? That's not talent. That's perseverance. This isn't an issue of ability, but of reliability.

Are you a reliable writer?  Can the story count on you to show up? Or are you phoning it in?

When I had a regular job, there were days when I'd show up and, frankly, not do shit. Any author who tells you they don't occasionally do the same is lying through their teeth. But, if you keep your job there are consequences for those actions and those days are had with the outcome in mind. If I screwed around on Facebook all day at my old stomping ground, I'd be in that office after hours at least two days the next week making up for lost time. And you know what? Sometimes it was worth it.

Bottom line, don't sell yourself short because of your circumstances. Writing a novel is an intensely personal experience. Each novel is as unique as its author. There is no "right" time frame in which to complete a novel. But, don't impose your expectations on other people. If you write like my husband plays golf---infrequently and with lamented passion, don't sell your abilities, or anyone else's, short by assuming that you'd be exactly the same author if your circumstances were different. They may very well change one day. Your current concept of how long it takes you on average to finish a work is based on your environment and assumed limitations.

And limitations are as manifold as the words we use to describe them. No two are exactly the same.

So, with that, I'm leaving you to go back to work on Obsidian.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Work in Progress, First Paragraph!

We haven't done this in awhile: everyone reply and post your first paragraph to your work in progress!

I'll go first. Contemporary YA:
When she started kissing, Sarah calculated it had been an entire year, to the day, of avoiding chocolate in order to regulate her stupid blood sugar problem. French kissing a boy for the first time, unfortunately—or maybe fortunately, she couldn’t decide which—was chocolate. Sweet, warm chocolate. Over French vanilla ice cream. Sprinkled with pine nuts.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

When Your Writing Sucks

When your writing sucks, you'll know it. You get this rock-like feeling in the pit of your stomach. You get thoughts that border on suicidal, even if it's just emotional suicide, and you pretty much want to yell at everyone who crosses your path. Right? That's how I get. I'm trying to work on a novel I've been hammering out for over two years, and although it's technically finished, it just sucks. At least I think it does. I've got that rock-feeling and all the little thoughts in my head keep screaming, "Spend your valuable time on something better!!!"

I might listen. I might not. I have some plans for this novel that I'd like to see come to fruition, but I have other ideas that seem more exciting.

I think when our excitement on a work dies away, it's time to shelve the dang thing.

What do you do? Do you have to be completely passionate about your work, or is it more like a job to you and you just fight to get it done and out there, even if the passion dies away? (I'm not talking about the "first-draft lust" type of passion - just that deep love for a work that drives you forward).

Maybe I'm only being distracted by shininess elsewhere. That's entirely possible. Ugh.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Blue Car and The Dinosaur

You're probably thinking this is a story about Barney and cringing, aren't you? Well relax, he's not blue, he's purple. No, what I am talking about is the Pterodactyl that crapped on my car last week. You see, I don't just love my little blue sports car, I'm pretty much obsessed with it.

Growing up in South Dakota, I got my driver's license at 14. I got my first car about 8 hours later, mainly because I had to wait for the DMV office to open the next morning. It was a 1966 Dodge Charger and while it was pretty cool for the time, I traded it soon after for my first blue sports car, an Opel GT.

The Opel looked like a miniature Corvette and after I had spiffed it up with some chrome wheels, it was pretty much the coolest thing on campus. Unfortunately, it was also a rolling piece of junk. It soon became obvious that I wasn't going to be able to afford the repairs of keeping on the road while still in school and working part time. I sold it and bought the perfect project car, a 1969 Chevy Camaro.

While the Opel was a piece of junk, at least it was mobile. The Camaro needed everything. I overhauled the engine, installed a new transmission, stripped the disgusting faded green paint off, and repainted it, yep, you guessed it, blue. You may wonder why I went through all that work, but I loved doing that kind of thing, and besides, I got the car for $500.

Fast forward about 20 years and I'm at the car dealer with my wife. At this point I had gone through minivans for the kid, small trucks for 4 wheeling, and a couple of sedans for people haulers. I was ready to get back to my blue sports car. It wasn't a middle age thing, at least that's what I told myself.

I picked out the Infiniti G35 Coupe, in Caribbean Blue. It was very fast, it was cool looking, and I wanted it. My wife on the other hand, decided that I couldn't have that. No, no, that car didn't project the right image or something, so I had to get the 4 door sedan version. To this day, I still don't know the real reason, but in the interest of a stable marriage, I consented and drove my brand spanking new "Dad car" home.

It was pretty fast, and it was blue, but it wasn't really a blue sports car. Unlike a sports car, the sedan didn't want to go out on the weekend and drive to the beach, it wanted stay at home and go to the office. So after the wife and I divorced, (no relationship to the car thing, really.. No, I mean it... sort of), I finally got my new dream sports car. A 2009 Nissan 370Z in "write me a ticket now" blue.

It's the best blue sports car I've ever had, bar none, and I treat it like a hangar queen. If there is a parking spot near the door to where I am going, but the spot isn't at least three cars wide, then I'll park in a lonely space over in the north fourty and walk. The last thing I want is to have door rash on that beautiful blue paint job.

With this in mind, I went to lunch with a friend last week and parallel parked a couple of blocks away. Thinking nothing of it, I parked next to a large Oleander bush, and hiked my way to the restaurant. The next morning I was about to load my backpack in my car, when I stared down at the passenger door in disbelief. There in the middle of the door was a ball of crap about the size of a softball, and about a quarter inch thick. Judging by the size of it, I knew that a bird couldn't have done it. It had to have come either from a flying cow, or a Pterodactyl. Since cows don't fly, my guess is that it was a Pterodactyl.

After throwing a banging hands and feet tantrum on the garage floor, and screaming at the car gods for at least ten minutes, I got to work. I soaked the mess with my garden hose, applied plenty of soap, and finally got the Pterodactyl crap to come off. It took a half an hour of careful scrubbing, but it finally dropped on to the floor. The paint still has a stain where the ball of crap was located, but my son is good at fixing this type of thing, and I'm going to let him do his magic.

I'm still pissed off at that dinosaur, but I did realize that there is a moral to this story, sort of. Never park your new car next to an Oleander bush. You never know if a Pterodactyl is hiding inside.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Inception: origin, an event that is a beginning; a first part or stage of subsequent events. 

You thought I was going to talk about the movie didn't you?

Where does it begin for you---the journey? For me, it's always a single scene, and that single scene almost always comes to me while I am sleeping. For the Guardians trilogy, I saw the raid on Palingard---Moriors flying in a black mass over the horizon. 

For Nightshade, it was the Fae masquerade scene in the Winter Court of Avalar---a girl dressed in a gorgeous gown, from our world, dancing with a man in white who didn't know who she was. Two polar emotions; he was elated, enjoying himself, while she grieved, the very act of his touch excruciating. I woke up with a sob stuck in my throat because I could feel her pain---her panic---because that man was her husband.

For Beggar King, it was a rare moment of weakness for Sedellion princess Callista, now mute, as she clung to life in an Ashorite prison, tortured and condemned to death by her lover for a crime she couldn't have committed---her own murder (that of her altar ego).  

 Funny how things like that work out. I won't know everything about the story while I am in the midst of it, but once consciousness comes, I'll know without a doubt who the players are and exactly what they were doing there. But that feeling of, not fully knowing, lingers and is usually what spurs me on. It's almost as if I have been allowed, for one brief moment, a glimpse into what it truly feels like in my characters' shoes. 

It's a dirty window, where I've glimpsed a fraction of what exists beyond. As I clean the glass, it all becomes clear, but it has never felt like creation to me. These things are already in place, just beyond the grime or the pervasive film of sleep, and my job is to clear all the excess away, till nothing but the story remains.  

So, what is your process? Where does it all come from for you? 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


I didn't listen to music while writing.

Lately, however, I've been tuning  out the outside world and listening to moody music. Odd. Normally, that would drive me nuts, distract me, cause me to go off on tangents, divert my brain, etc.

If I'm in the coffee shop, I certainly don't plug the earphones in. But at home, when everyone else is doing their thing, I fire up the MP3 library and pick an appropriate play list.

I'm curious: who listens to music while writing? If you do, what's on your play list?

Here: It's been Stacey Kent 24/7. Gotta get those love scenes down!

Disclaimer: I'm not responsible for your amorous state after listening to the following:

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I think one of the most-asked questions we writers get is, "What genre do you write?" It has always been frustrating for me to answer that question. Every time I'll pause and run through all the major things I've written. Hmmm. There's poetry, extremely literary, literary/suspense, contemporary drama, young adult bordering on adult, fantasy, and even more literary. Literary. I always come back to literary. I love that completely vague term, don't you? If I try hard enough, I can explain all my work as fitting into this lovely little category. That doesn't mean that's what I write, though.

Sticking our work into a genre is limiting. Many people say it must be done, however, because there's agents who will need to know, publishers who have to know, and marketing. You can't market without a set genre and your intended audience who reads that specific genre. Heaven forbid.

And sadly, I think putting our work into genre categories is like labeling ourselves with those personality tests. You know, those color ones, or the letter ones...I happen to be a ESFJ. I am now labeled. Aren't you happy you know more about me?
In general, ESFJs are helpful people who place a high value on harmony. Paying close attention to people's needs and wants, they work well with others to complete tasks in a timely and accurate way.
When I was a kid and in school friends of mine would tell me my daily horoscope and I remember going through the day with my horoscope in mind and I'd purposefully do things to make it stay on its target. I didn't want to prove it wrong. Horoscopes are always right! Right? Genres pin our work down. They get the job done. Right? Right.

My point today is that many times I feel I'm catering to a genre instead of letting my work breathe on its own, and it can limit what I'm writing. But like any good story, no matter how you plan it and write it, it will contain specific elements that all good stories own, and undoubtedly it will naturally fit into one of the genres out there. So don't worry about genre so much. My author business card says that I write contemporary, literary, and fantasy fiction. I think that's broad enough for some breathing room, don't you?

What genre do you write. (That might be a trick question...)

Friday, August 6, 2010

However Slight

All this talk of simplicity reminds me of the ever-changing list of literary fads. Just like anything else, there are trends and influences that sometimes seem to become absolutes for a time and the very thought of acting against them smacks of pretensiousness.  Take modern voice for example. Loved ones, and not-so-loved ones, have become titles in contemporary voice; The Husband, The Boss, The-Furry Children (okay, I'm guilty here), The Boyfriend....etc. The word "snark" rocketed to fame after a well-known literary agent named her blog using the word as though it were any other fashion accessory. And the masses flocked. It's trendy to dislike urban fantasy, in some circles, particularly vampires and werewolves and shapeshifters...just as it's popular to dislike pop-fiction (Dean Koontz, Janet Evano-what's-her-face) in others. Women's literature, also known these days as "chic-lit" has also had a bold new introduction to the world. Bitter is the new black (I think there's a book with this title). Everything is cute with a distinct sense of "bitchiness" about it.

They may never say it aloud, but our readers (even if we write fantasy) will view our work through whatever cultural lens they've been given, whether we like it or not. This will always be the case and it doesn't change how our work will be seen once it has passed out of our hands, as a generation, and on to the next. We have no control over that. But, the sheer fact that these trends are in existence means that they influence our career. Agents and publishers are forever aware of these things and bank on half of them.

So, what does this mean for us as authors? Well, that depends. For me, because I'm sensitive to some of these trends, I have to be careful with what I write and I have to look for it. I hate to admit that, and God help the reviewer should one ever bring this post against me, but I have to purposely listen a little closer to what my characters are telling me because I'm apt to hear first the cultural chatter that pervades the airways.

How do you know when what you've heard is true or not? These trends slip into critiques and reviews and the comments of editors and how do we know as authors when to take the advice and when to leave it? I don't recall who said it or when, but someone once made the wise observation that if it sounds like something that an older, wiser you would have thought of...then it's true to your vision as an artist. When I read back over my own work, I know it--those insidious influences--by the way they make me feel. After I've read narrative, or a character description, I'll start to feel as though someone has just told me that I've just been selected as a winner of publisher's clearinghouse sweepstakes! In other words, it will feel like nothing more than a false promise. A character may do something that rings untrue, despite how adamant the editor has suggested that it "fits" her personality, because it won't actually fit her...it will only fit who the cultural bias says she should be.

Allow me this brief analogy: I remember walking into a bookstore in Auburn, AL a few years ago and stopping just inside of the entryway because I'd spied a wall'o Jesus to my immediate right. There were bracelets with various letters of the alphabet, all arranged to spell out some catchy slogan. There were t-shirts made to mimic pop culture icons. There were pens and pencils and book-bags and hats and bumper stickers. It made me wonder when James Patterson had high-jacked fundamentalism and how I had missed the subsequent carnage. There wasn't any missing it now...

I'm not saying that we'll do anything quite so tacky in our writing as that wall was to the Christian faith. But, there are people who thought that was a fantastic idea, just like there are readers and agents and editors and publishers who think a good many things are a fantastic idea in relation to your work and those things may be detrimental to your story.

 However slight.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Where Books and Caffeine Collide

This barista is cuter than cute, but does she ever love her annoying music CD. She has a CD that she plays on the coffee shop's sound system. She filled it with one-half thoughtful romantic tunes, one-half trendy overproduced crap.

I have a personal policy of not listening to music through an iPod in public places (or, in my case, my fancy phone with more memory on it than the first laptop I bought). I might just break if she doesn't change the CD.

She is tall, busty and has that young-woman-summer-healthy-tan thing going. We'll come back to the barista later.

The coffee shop has a large bookshelf. One day, one of the owners and his brother dragged it in and left it there. Bit by bit, people have been filling it with books. Now it overflows. People come in and grab a book, read it, take it home. Other people come in and grab several books. Even others drop books off. One lady came in with an entire box of books. She filled all the empty spaces, and took five others home.

Isn't that amazing? People, left to their own devices and an empty bookshelf, simply started a book exchange without any prompting or direction. Is it the inherent beauty of sharing a book, or does this speak to something else, something deeper? That people left to their own devices in a legitimate business (the owners of the shop aren't providing coffee for free) simply do the right thing because it's the best thing to do?

I love that bookshelf. I love it very much.

There is an older man here who has been coming in as often as I, or even more. He is some type of engineering consultant. I believe he reviews technical plans and makes recommendations. He is reading constantly, either on his netbook or from one of those notepads engineers always seem to have with them.

Older Engineering Man is a coffee drinker. He likes drip coffee, straight up.

I can dig it.

One of the owners is here. She is convinced that there is an untapped tea market, so she stuffed the shop with loose-leaf tea and tea accessories. I don't know if her tea plan is viable or not, but she has stocked the place with tea not easily found. The place smells wonderful, the tang of bitter espresso with a thousand scents of tea.

I have arrived in writing nirvana.

Sitting in the sunniest spot are two homeschooling sisters. They are very intent when they study. I do not know if they are unschoolers (popular in my area) or curriculum based homeschoolers. One is studying geometry and the other flips through a book from the bookshelf, comes to a page she likes and then draws what she read.

They drink fruit smoothies. For them, school never ends because they are not in school. They are simply learners, and when they are done, they stuff their books and pads and netbooks into a backpack and zoom off. I have yet to see their parents in here.


The barista takes a call on her cell phone. She starts speaking in Russian, rapidly and with an accent. Older Engineering Man and I actually exchange a glance. He grins.

The eighteen-year-old barista speaks flawless Russian. That's so random--it's also awesome.

A young man comes in and flirts with the barista. He's friendly. He orders a simple latte. When he gets his drink, he comes to one of the open lounge chairs and sits. I smile to myself. His flirting was on autopilot. He might not even know he does it.

He sips his latte. He closes his eyes and breathes deep, smelling the tea. When he is done he leaves, and I get that this was a brief refuge from whatever busy life a cute teen boy in the summer leads.

I can't see the barista but I'm momentarily bittersweet. I almost wish he had picked up his flirting again. They would make beautiful children together, and no one in the coffee shop is more alive than she.

As he leaves, he does not take a book from the bookshelf. Doing so would have been perfect.

To me, the writer, the near-perfect day is so much better than the perfect one. There are a thousand thousand stories I can make, pretending he did stop and grab a book, a supernova of possibilites. I pick one that seems the most alive:

It's an old book. Inside is a thin piece of paper, yellow with age. A girl's writing from another time. She is sad and lonely, obviously stuffing the paper in the book to put in her diary later. The paper is odd, it's dated June 23rd, 2286.

The boy finds this strange. He comes back into the coffee shop, talks the barista who is trying to control her heart from going pitter-pat every time the boy blinks with his impossibly long eyelashes.

Does she know who left this book? She does not.

I do, says Old Engineering Guy. The crazy lady with the box of books comes in every Tuesday at exactly 2:34pm.

Yeah, I've seen her, says the Fast Typing Guy. She likes to talk to herself. She grabs new books and replaces them with old books.

The barista and the boy try to solve the Future Diary Entry Mystery Together. Maybe they fall in love. Maybe he breaks her heart for the girl in the odd note. They certainty kiss.

The bookshelf waits.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

So, Uh, Yes, I'm Michelle...

Good morning, everyone!

I'm new here, so I'm not quite sure where to begin. I know that I'm honored to have been invited to join this great site and the writers who post here. I guess I'll copy J.S. Chancellor and just introduce myself for today instead of trying to impress you with some deep, profound post. That might come later. Maybe...

I'll be posting here every Tuesday. I post over at The Literary Lab every Thursday, and once in a great while I post on my blog, The Innocent Flower, although that blog is no longer a place where I post anything besides updates. I save all the creative stuff for other places! You can also find me at my author site, Michelle Davidson Argyle. Yes, I like to blog. Can you tell?

I'm first and foremost a writer. I've been writing seriously for 14 years, and recently published my first book, a fantasy/literary novella titled Cinders. I also write short fiction, contemporary novels (um, spy thriller, anyone?), and I've currently got a YA novel in my files since I first started writing. It might take flight one day. It's starting to look like I don't know WHAT genre I should write in...kind of embarrassing!

I've also been a serious photographer for 6 years, and I have a 4-year-old daughter who sometimes drives me crazy. Okay, she always drives me crazy, but she's cute.

And that, I suppose, is it in a nutshell. Maybe most of you knew all of that already. If you did, I'll leave you with a little something that might inspire you for the day:

It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~Vita Sackville-West

Monday, August 2, 2010


What do you do when you are waiting to hear back from agents? Chew your fingernails off? Set a chair by your mailbox and stare at it? Check your email every 30 seconds?

Not me.

I'm waiting to hear back on a a couple of queries that I sent out after Thrillerfest, but while I wait, I'm working on a synopsis, so that I can send out more queries, making a list of agents that I didn't meet at Thrillerfest to query, and working on the next novel.

All I have for the next novel is the premise, but I'm working on characters, and thinking about the setting.

You can't write a single novel, send out three queries, and expect to get three responses, unless those responses are rejections. It doesn't work that way.

There have been some special cases, but the typical story is that it took a writer 4 novels, and 85 rejections, or 8 novels and 110 rejections, or 2 novels and 50 rejections. It's not a simple process.

So after you've finished your novel, and sent out a few queries, make sure you're working on the next set of queries, or the next novel. You're going to need it.

What do you do while waiting for agents to get back to you?