Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Toob Watching

Monday night has become my TV night. It is, without question, the best night for the toob. Of course, that kills my writing productivity. Not to fear though: in my brilliance I have already enacted a plan to be able to watch my toobage and continue my work with little interference. I have just ordered the new Verizon FIOS package with the HD/DVR option so I'll be able to record all my shows and watch 'em whenever I want! BOO-YAH! The Wife (of course!) doesn't think we need the DVR but I think she'll change her mind once we have it. My plan is to set the thing to record all my shows for the week, then watch them on Friday/Saturday nights. Both of those are "crash" evenings around our house and we always spend hours flipping channels and complaining about there being nothing on. Well, now there WILL be something on! Everything I want to watch! Cool, no? Oh, fine! I'm sure most of you already have the TIVO thing working, but I'm a bit slow, ok? Sheesh!

Anyway, Monday nights line up is really good. I watch:

8:00 - 9:00 . . . "How I met your Mother" & "The Class" (both very funny, though The Wife hates them. Hence, how I know they're funny!)

9:00 . . . "Heroes" (Best damn show on the toob in years! Gets better each week.)

10:00 . . . Usually "Studio 60" (which is good) but last night it was the premiere of "The Black Donnellys" (Holy shit! This was an amazingly good show! Think: Quentin Terentino directing an Irish version of "The Godfather" and you won't be far off.) They're re-running this on NBC Thursday at 10:00. If you missed it, I suggest you check it out. This is a show you're gonna love. Especially if (like meself!) you're Irish.

Well, the good news is I didn't let the watching interfere with my work on "Slayer". I jumped into the edits right after dinner and did a solid 40 pages before the shows came on. I am actively seeking out any extraneous explanatory expulsions that have inundated my poetic prose. In other words: I'm cutting out any useless words! Strangely, I had more of this up front (which is a very bad thing!) than I seem to have further on in the book. I'm trying to be merciless though. If it isn't 100% needed, it's going. I have a tendency to get lost in my character's thoughts and sometimes that's ok, as long as they stay focused on the plot. The agent noted a couple of instances where the MC was basically daydreaming, which killed the pace of the book. It's a fast paced, light-hearted kinda read and I saw what she meant immediately. These ponderings were like moving through molasses. She beat me over the head with the basic advice of: "Show, don't tell!" Think I should know better by now, huh?

Tonight is Scouts so I don't know how much work I'll get to but I hope to get at least something done!


Monday, February 26, 2007


I am confused.

Well, yes . . . I DO know that's hardly unusual for me (thank you so much for pointing that out!) but I happen to be more confused than usual at the moment. I got home on Friday evening to find a letter waiting for me from the agent I spoke with last week. It was a return of my original query, with some notes and suggestions on it, asking me to make some changes along certain lines and send the book back again. Well, that's seems straight forward, right? Problem is, the letter came AFTER she had called me and asked me to submit the full, but BEFORE she could have possibly received it in the mail. OY! My head hurts. It's not that big of a deal I guess. I intend to work on the changes anyway (Shit, how often do you get feedback from a noted pro? You bet your ass I'm making them changes!) I figure I'll give her a few weeks to read through the copy I sent her, and I'll just move on with the changes she suggested (all of which make good sense, BTW) and worry about squaring it all out later on. Still, I'm a noob here and worry about such things. Did she forget our conversation? Did she get the full sooner than I thought and the comments were based on that? Was she just giving me something to start on while she was waiting for the full?

Yup, I be confoosed!!!!

Maybe I should think positive . . . maybe the book's so good she asked for it twice!! (Yea, okay!)

So, to sum up: for the immediate future I'l be working my way through "Slayer", using the agent's suggestions to help weed out some slow spots in the book. Hell, I figure that even if she doesn't sign me, the book will just be that much better, ya' know?

Personal stuff: weekend was very busy. Spent all day Saturday out in the cold, working with the Scouts. Had a lot of fun, but earned a nice windburn and set of chapped lips for my troubles. Sunday was spent working on the agent's changes to "Slayer". I had to laugh at The Wife last night . . . after I spent 5+ hours working on the book, she was vacuuming the floor and lecturing me about how easy I have it. Her comment went something like this:

" . . . you've go it so easy! You get to sit here all day doing nothing but read, while I do all the work!"

Ah, yes! The simplicity of being a writer! Ya know: it's amazing more folks don't think to do this for a living, what with it being so simple! Just park ass, read, scribble out a few ideas on paper, type it up and send it off in the mail and you're an instant millionaire! The rest of the world is filled with fools who haven't figured out our writerly secret yet! Luckily, The Wife is too wise to be fooled in such manner. She's got her eye on me and knows I'm just sitting about doing nothing for hours on end! I felt it wiser not to point out at that juncture that what I was doing required a lot more effort and brain power than just pushing a vacuum back and forth across the carpet. (I've grown rather attached to my family jewels, thank you very much!) See? I really can be taught!

Oy. Have I mentioned my head hurts?


Friday, February 23, 2007


Nope, not the movie!!

This is my 300th post on this blog! (yay, me!) To those who have followed along through all three hundred issues of my neurotic inner ramblings, I want to say . . .


Good God, don't you have something better to do with your life than to read 300 of my pointless, whining, posts?


Oh. Well, in that case: keep coming back for the next 300 . . . shit, at this point ya' gotta believe it can't get any worse, right? :-)

I've been working on the edits to "Fish" lately. I want to get that done before I move on with the WIP or start anything new. At this point I have four (yup, four!) completed novels . . . well, two of them are still first draft, but they are "done" dammit! I'm thinking that if I polish off "Fish", then I have two ready for publication, and two more in the hopper for edits. That should give me a nice buffer if I do have any luck with the agent/publisher search. That way I'll have time to edit the other two and start a new project long before anyone starts pushing deadlines at me. See, isn't it nice that I can think positive like that? I'm already planning out my fifth published novel and I don't even have an agent at the moment. Now THAT's having big brass ones, folks!

"Fish" is still creeping me out (of course!) but I'm really happy with how it's coming together. So far, I only have to add in 3k-4k words to flesh out some of the plot. The rest has all been line edits. I've been killing a lot of words as I go, tightening it up. I imagine the book shouldn't change much in size once I'm done. Last night I was brutal. I killed dozens of paragraphs, leaving only a sentence or two in their wake. Some of it was good writing but didn't pass the: "Does it move the story forward?" litmus test. Good thing is, that's getting easier to do. My editing hatchet has a nice sharp edge on it nowadays and I ain't 'fraid to use 'er!!!

On the personal front: got a Boy Scout event tomorrow a.m. that'll run through early afternoon. It will be a lot of fun though, I've done it for the last few years and enjoyed it immensely. As for the rest of the weekend, I have no clue, but I'm sure my boss -uh, I mean: The Wife- will let me know where I have to go and what I have to do. I'll just nod a lot and say "Yes, Dear" as I always do.

Well, tht's all for today. Gotta bail . . .


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lazy-Ass Postal Workers!

So, the MS is all set to mail out to the agent. It would have been in the mail first thing this morning but when I got to the Post Office, I saw the sign on the door that said they opened at 8:30 a.m. Well, I'm at work by that point, so I had to postpone the drop-off until tonight. Luckily, they're open til 7:00 p.m. Now, you're proably sayin' something like : "No shit, dumb-ass! No post office opens up at 7:00 a.m." Well, that was what I said last night to The Wife but she guaranteed me that they did. Seeing as how she does simply everything around here (No, really! Just ask her!) I figgered she know whereof she spoke . . . only, not so much. I'm pretty sure she knew they weren't open but saw it as an ideal chance to get my lazy ass out of bed a few minutes earlier than usual so she wouldn't have to rush through her morning shower. (The woman is evil incarnate, I tell you!)

Lots of running around last night to get the stuff we needed. I was doing the submission and The Wife was doing up a few hundred tickets for a Boy Scout fundraiser. A lot of printer hopping and elbow bumping as we ran from computer to computer last night! We stopped at Staples to get paper, labels, etc. and I could not find a manuscript box. Had to settle for one of those huge corrugated mailing boxes instead. it'll work but the dam thing cost two bucks and it'll cost an extra dollar or more in the shipping cuz it's so bulky. I don't know why that bugs me but it does. usually, the penny-pinching is The Wife's realm. I'm the guy throwing around money he doesn't have. As my Mama always told me: "James, you've got champagne tastes on a beer purse!" True enough I suppose, but I was never one for denying myself anything I wanted. I've never been able to see money as anything more than an imaginary concept, so killing myself trying to hang onto something that doesn't really exist anyway has never been a priority. Hence the confusion over the stupid box . . . but it still bugs me. Go figure.

Watched "Heroes" last night (I never miss it, or BSG!) The ending was a complete shocker . . . I never saw that coming and I ALWAYS see what's coming in TV shows! That's why I like both of these programs: they're the only things on the tube that can actually surprise me. Last show that did that was "Babylon 5" (greatest TV show EVER!) I got the 1st season of it on DVD for Christmas and now The Boy is working his way through it, and loving it. Now I don't have to worry about what I'm getting for Father's Day or my Birthday . . . The Boy won't allow me to have anything else, he wants to see how B5 plays out!

Ah well, time for working. Gotta bail.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Lafayette, nous voilĂ 

Hey, folks!

Sorry for the extended abscence. Life and work (especially work!) were totally out of control for the last few weeks. Not quite sure what happened, but the time was just a blur in my tiny little mind! Ah well, I'm back to entertain you once more. Did ya' miss me? (Yes, please lie when you answer that . . . I have a fragile ego!) Everyone is healthy and happy here about and life seems to be settling back down again so you'll be subject to more of my bizarre doings on a regular basis. (Barring any nervous breakdowns on my part.)

On the writing front: not a lot of new work over the past two weeks, but I did some more editing of "Fish" and (best of all!) I've been seeing a lot of response to my queries on "Slayer". Several form rejections (to be expected!) one form rejection with a very complimentary hand-written note on it from the agent (much appreciated) and a phone call from a well known agent who wants to see the whole manuscript (Much delight!) No offer or anything at this point but the interest tells me that maybe I'm not just banging my head against a wall here. Could it be that I might actually have what it takes to be a published author?

Well, shit! Who'da thunk it????

I shouldn't get ahead of myself though. I spoke with the agent directly and she said the writing was a bit rough but the idea was very good. Now, I like to think it gets better after that first chapter and I KNOW my other novels have a much smoother style to them than "Slayer". I really like the story for this one -it's a lot of fun- but it was the first book I completed that I felt was publishable, so I'm sure there are still some rough edges in there. Good thing is: I'm not afraid to knock them off when somebody points 'em out to me! I've had no problem at all making editorial changes to the short stories I've published in the past and I don't see any issues with an agent's input either. Only an fool assumes he knows everything. I'm no fool (though I have been called much less polite things in my life . . . usually by The Wife!) I'll take any input I get and do my damndest to use it for improving my novels.

The good part is, this is the response to less than 20% of the queries I sent out on "Slayer". Doesn't really mean anything of course -the other 80% could all be form rejects- but I take it as a hopeful sign. Think good thoughts for this fat old man, would ya?

Well, that's it for right now. Tonight will be quite busy. I need to print out and mail my full MS to the agent tomorrow morning (Can you tell I'm impatient?) Hope all is well with everyone out there and I apologize if the daily joy of reading my blathers was missing from your life (Yea, right!)


Thursday, February 01, 2007


It’s amazing how visceral music can be. Three songs in a row on the radio today that brought back images so strong to my (admittedly simple) brain that, for a moment, it was like being a kid again. Here’s a brief glimpse inside the primal workings of my mind for you . . .

Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)

Scent of cherries, cut through with the acid burn of incense. The warmth of oversize flannel over black cotton t-shirts with the sleeves cut off. Work boots, worn and scuffed. Aviator shades (night or day!) and hair so long the only visible part of your face was your mouth (which never smiled!) Jeans so soft and faded (and tight!) you couldn’t tell where your skin stopped and they started. The heat of fires built far back in the woods where no one could see, or hear the swirling sounds of Floyd coming from the open doors of the third-hand Chevy parked at the top of the hill with its lights off . . .

Baba O’Riley (The Who)

The endless heat of long summer nights; sand under your feet, bottle of “The King” warming in your hand as the wild drum crashes through your head. Waves thunder, girls laugh, while all the guys ignore them: their eyes closing as their heads bounce in unison to the ultimate teenage anthem. The burn of Johnny Walker on your tongue from an un-wiped bottle, stale scent of Marlboro’s overlaying the thick tang of ocean and the sounds of naked floating just out of sight in the dark . . . .

She’s the One (Bruce Springsteen)

Soft, soft, press of lips, backed by the subtle burn of cinnamon Trident. Hooded sweatshirts, Ungodly tight Jordache jeans with the pinstripes, the feel of darkness inside and out. Sweat running down bare skin and the cool evening breeze coming through the open window. The Big Man’s horn blaring agony and ecstasy in the same note as cars fly past on the highway just beyond the screen. Silence as deep as you’ve ever known, in the midst of raging sound and endless confusion . . .

Well, there you are. I’m not explaining any of that but feel free to toss up your own thought, guesses, comments, or abuse in comments!