Boom Days

Boom days are here. I’ve had four or five great writing days in a row. The muses have arrived on time and sober each day and fed me the tale, sharing character details, pointing out the story arc and plot lines like they’re good friends. They’ve been amazingly generous…so far.

Ah, good times. One hundred pages are completed, twenty-seven thousand words, on It Begins, the novel-in-progress begun at the beginning of this month. I know, doesn’t sound like much, but this is the foundation stage. Once things are established, the story starts flowing more quickly. Ten main characters have been introduced. Think of it as And Then There Were None, but in reverse.

Having multiple main characters with separate points of view and varying story arcs complicates matters a little. I solved that (for now, at least, as it’s working) by focusing on one or two characters, writing their scenes until they reach a major plot pivot point where the first three characters stopped. Today, I continue to focus on Selena, the four-year-old. She amazes and surprises me.

I’ll take the boom times. I know from my experience that there will be bust days sooner or later, forcing to take a deep sigh and a long swallow of coffee, gird myself with grit teeth, sit down and type, damn it.

But for now, all is well.

Meanwhile, I’ve not heard anything from agents on my previous offering, April Showers 1921. Three expressed interest a few weeks ago and requested more material. That was sent. Now I wait. Is longer time of waiting good or bad? It’s a Schrödinger situation, innit?

Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

 

Writing Reflections

A friend’s question prompted some post-response thinking as I conducted my pre-writing walk.

Before 2014, I wrote six novels. I never edited or revised them, and never sent them anywhere.

Between 2014 and 2016, I wrote four more novels. Since 2016, I epublished them. None did well. In fairness, I barely marketed them. I still remain fond of Returnee.

Since 2016, I’ve written five more novels. I haven’t published any of them. The first four were the Incomplete States quadrilogy that begins with Four On Kyrios. I shopped them to forty agents or more. None showed interest.

I finished April Showers 1921 last month and began shopping it with agents. Sent it to twenty. Three agents are showing interest by requesting more material.

Progress?

Last week I began writing another novel. The writing is the thing, you see. The new project has me laughing as the muses pitch crazy new twists on the whole thing. It’s the fun stage. It’s hard to keep up but I’m going to try to enjoy it while I’m on it.

Of course, like ocean waves, it’s not all linear, writing a novel. Ups and downs, setbacks and advances, excitement and frustration are ahead. Each will probably be endured multiple times in the months it takes me to write, edit, and revise this piece. That’s part of the process.

Got my coffee. My ass is in the chair and the computer is on. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

Disturbing Results

He didn’t know how this fit into anything.

Completing his manuscript, including revising and editing it, he scoured the net, found a dozen prospective agents, and sent it off to them.

Three weeks later, he hadn’t heard anything from any of them and decided to beat the net to see what was happening with his prospective agents.

Imagine his surprise when they all turned out dead.

Well, he’d always thought it was a killer idea.

Agent Submissions

wish agents submitted to my will, but they’re impressively resilient.

That’s not what I’m writing ’bout, as you know. I’m addressin’ the other sort of submissions, the one that requires you to send agents your writing, seeking a pinkiehold on the path to traditional publishing, which, as we all know, also brings us fame, fortune, and immunity from ever doubting ourselves again.

Right?

As I’ve refined my submission process in this go-around, I’ve come to think of it as job-hunting. Instead of a novel or proposal, you’re submitting a resume when you’re job hunting.

They have other similarities.

You peruse every source you find for potential places to submit.

You submit as much as you can.

You wait and hope for positive responses.

You keep going until you’ve signed somewhere.

What ’bout you? How’d you approach it?

Syn-Syn-Synopsis

I brushed off writing my synopsis like I was signing a birthday card with élan when I wrote about it in a post earlier this month. Writing a synopsis wasn’t that easy for me.

It’d been yonks since I’d written one. I wanted to do the best that I could. I knew the idea was that it’s a brief summary. How long should a synopsis be? How much detail should be given? Should I describe the character and setting?

Searching for answers, I pulled out books on writing and publishing that I have on hand. I read magazine articles, newspaper articles, and blog posts about how long a synopsis should be, what it does, and what it shouldn’t be. I panicked. I read agents and publishers’ opinions about what’s at stake in the synopsis in their opinion for accepting or rejected a novel. I read what authors shared about their rejections and their initial efforts writing synopsis, and I grew disheartened. Then I brushed that off and got busy.

After creating a synopsis file, I opened the latest version of Four on Kyrios and began reading it. After refreshing myself with the chapter, I wrote one or two sentences about what it was about. I did so chapter after chapter. One paragraph typically captured a flow of events about what the characters were doing, where they were doing it, and results. I resisted doubts and over-thinking it while I was doing it.

I won’t lie, working intensely, it took me most of a week to write. Did I do it right? I don’t know. As with everything, I learned what I could and applied the knowledge and tried to do the best that I could. As with everything else in life, that’s all that I can ever do.

Got my coffee in hand. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

April Showers 1921

I wrote about a new novel that came to me in a dream the other night (“Spinning Up”). One unmentioned aspect was the newly conceived novel’s cover. I saw it in the dream. The cover felt and looked so real and substantial to me that I was nonplussed. The title, April Showers 1921, was embossed gold letters on a silver cover. It seemed so real that I looked up the title to determine if that book already existed. Without surprise, I found songs, books, and short stories called April Showers, but none had the 1921 addition, and none featured silver and gold covers. I seem safe with it.

I’ve worked on April Showers 1921 some since dreaming about it, fleshing out characters, setting, and writing some scenes, but I didn’t throw myself into it. After two days of that, I wondered, why not? I realized that indecision caused by my greatest weakness, over-analysis, was paralyzing me once again.

It’s a familiar scenario. I overthink something. That drains my resources, and I stop making progress until I resolve what I’m overthinking.

Naturally, this paralysis is all founded on a writing issue, specifically — this time — finding an agent for the Incomplete States series. I think I’ve identified several potential agents. I narrowed my search to one lucky agent. I’ve written a synopsis and query letter. That’s where I stopped.

The Incomplete States series employs several styles. In terms of recent books, it reminds me of Cloud Atlas. My series science-fiction infused, but its mostly literary, except the first novel has a science-fiction military noir feel to it. Fantasy flares strong in another book, while yet another has the sensibility of historic fiction.

Yes, I enjoy genre B&B – bending and blending – whether I’m reading or writing it.

On a side note, the great and all-knowing Internet says, don’t mention any of the rest of the series when seeking representation and publication of the first book.

For grins, I hunted down the rejection records for successful writers. I’ve followed this path before, so it’s very familiar to me.

J.K. Rowling. Her Harry Potter series was rejected twelve times, you know. Dr. Suess was rejected twenty-seven times before he found a publisher willing to take a chance on his Cat in the Hat book. The author of  The Martian, Andy Weir, had given up on being published, but kept writing and self-published. When The Martian found success, publishers came running. Kathryn Stockett, The Help, was rejected over sixty times. Madeleine L’Engle, A Wrinkle in Time, had twenty-six rejections. Catch-22, Joseph Heller, twenty-two rejections. Twenty for William Goldberg, The Lord of the Flies. Carrie, by Stephen King, was rejected thirty times. Pretty amazing was that Still Alice, by Lisa Genova, experienced over one hundred rejections. After she self-published and had success, publishers came calling, and her novel was made into a movie starring Julianne Moore, who won an Oscar for her performance.

There was also Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita, over five times, and Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, rejected one hundred twenty-one times.

Reading about these rejections is invigorating and inspiring. You gotta have hope, optimism, belief, and determination. You gotta keep writing for the love of writing.

Writing about my paralysis cleared matters up and broke the log jam. (I now have a featured image of logs floating through my mind.) I’m ready to submit. (Ha, ha, I love how that can have multiple meanings.) All they can do is say no, right?

The day is full of promise. I got my coffee. Time to submit, and then write and edit like crazy, at least one more time.

Erica Also Said

Today’s quote resonates with me. Agents say they want read your book and feel like they did when they watched Game of Thrones or something on Netflix. Reading descriptions of what they want, they sound like they’re issuing specs for me to use to write my book.

It’s a depressing and destructive exercise, reading what they want, and comparing it to what I’ve written. It reduces the search to exactly this process, thinking about what the audience — the agents — need.

But, as an exercise, it’s helpful for defining my #AWL.

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