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Monday, September 27, 2010

Time Management

     When the semester begins, there's always a marked difference in my writing progress. Getting bogged down with lesson plans and especially grading really take its toll on me time-wise. I need to find a better way to get everything done.
     I've got a couple of ideas I'm going to try, and hopefully as the semester wears on I'll be able to reduce my grading load, as I want to keep writing the focus, and then there's NaNoWriMo in November again. I need to start bulking up for that.

Friday, September 24, 2010

F3 Chalk Art

     He walked through the streets with a grin of amusement. He always enjoyed seeing what contrivances mortal could come up with. Their machines were of particular interest as they had created some truly remarkable contraptions.

Monday, September 20, 2010

D-Day Approaches.

     D-Day approaches. By this I mean I think I've reworked my query sufficiently to send out among the sharks, er, agents. I've been working on this thing for awhile, and I think I've got it. It's much shorter than my original query, which is a plus. Hopefully I'll get some bites on this one. And I need to get this out because the semester is going to start moving into high gear, and I don't want to end up in December without having sent queries out.
     D-Day approaches, and I'm excited and terrified.

Friday, September 17, 2010

F3 Keys

     There it was. The one in the middle, below the one with the harp on the end. It blended in well with all the others under the display case, but this key was different. Antique keys were ornate, showing off the skill of the craftsman, and this was no different, but the key's purpose was not just to unlock some door or cabinet.

Friday, September 10, 2010

F3 The Couple

     They couldn't stand any closer to one another. His hand on her shoulder, her hand gently on his arm. They could not see each others' faces, but they pressed their heads together. Her hair shadowed her face, so it was impossible to see her expression, but their posture said they clung to one another.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

That Thing

     I remember watching the agent and editor panel at Desert Dreams 2010. A lot of very respected agents and editors sat up there. It was intimidating, and also very exciting. Hearing them field questions, and what their answers were seemed to plug a lot of the gaps for me as a prospective client. I remember one idea in particular.
     I don't remember the exact question, something about cross over genres. Specifically it had to do with urban fantasy (which really made me pay attention). And I remember The Janet Reid and Miriam Kriss answered this one by talking about protagonists that do some sort of investigation (cop, PI, reporter, etc.) but also has a thing. A paranormal thing that puts a twist on the rest of it. It makes sense. Anita Blake is an animator, Rachel Morgan is a witch, Harry Dresden is a wizard, Chris Knight was a vampire, and the list goes on. The thing is important, too. It's pretty much the hook for the whole book. It's what sets the character apart from others of this type. If the thing is fresh and original, it can really take off.
     I've got a thing. Rather, Matt Allen has a thing, as my scant few readers know. I think it's a pretty fantastic thing, too. But the problem is that the full impact of the thing takes a little thought. It's not immediately apparent. It's easy to get a rudimentary understanding, but the full impact is a little more subtle, and can even provoke a "that's it?" or a "so what?" response before the full weight sets in. So I'm struggling to come up with that hook which both conveys the fundamental understanding, and the full impact, all while making it interesting.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


     This weekend brought a lot of query revisions, and it got me thinking about a classic fairy tail. I know that a lot of getting an agent to jump at a query is a measure of being "just right", which is more a question of knowing it when you see it, but what about on the writing side of queries? As the writer, it's up to me to try and figure out that fit from my end. I got a lot of questions from various forum people regarding my query, usually questions asking for more and more detail, yet that seems to fly in the face of what queries are supposed to be. This leaves me with several questions.
     How much detail is necessary? How much is the right amount to know, and how much is too much? An even better question, though is the detail being asked for still necessary if the answer is uninteresting? Is it better to have that bit of mystery in a query, that unanswered question, than to give the answer that falls flat? Lastly, at what level do I write at for an agent. It's my understanding that agents representing certain works are more or less experts in their genres. Should I expect them to get certain conventions of the genre? If I spell out every last thing am I insulting their intelligence? Do I ignore what many other writers (most not in my genre) have said about my query and go with my gut?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Pioneers

     A lot of agents pass along the advice for writers to read the genre that they write. Go out to bookstore and libraries, see what's on the shelves, and read them. Very sound advice, and there's no earthly reason not take that advice. I will, however, add to it.
     Go read the pioneers of the genre. Read the authors who wrote and made that genre viable. By and large, everything on the shelves today is derived from those original pioneers. You can't look at a mystery, the classic whodunit, without looking at Sherlock Holmes. Science fiction? Shelley, Verne, Wells. Too old fashioned, not enough "real" science? Asimov, Bradbury, and Heinlein. Vampires? Bram Stoker. Fantasy? Look at the sci fi guys. They did a lot of both. Epic fantasy? Tolkien. Romance? Austen. Hard-boiled detectives? Hammett and Chandler.
     I think it's important to read these more original works to see what they did that was so different. What did they do that started off a craze, even launched an entirely new genre in some cases? Take them, analyze them, compare them to today. Compare them to what you write, and look ahead to what might be the next turn.
     For my money, don't stop there. Need to know how to write funny? Tragic? Shakespeare. The Greek playwrights. Epic? Homer, Milton, Virgil. Fantastic? Ovid. Sexy or bawdy? Shakespeare, Ovid.
     Okay, I'll be honest. Shakespeare is the man for nearly all of this. There's not much he didn't do, and he managed to pull it off brilliantly, even the legal comedy (Merchant of Venice, anyone?). The point is, a lot can be learned from the people who were there first. I'm not downplaying authors today, but don't limit yourself to what's just what's been published in the last few years. Go explore, and find the ones who came first.

Friday, September 3, 2010

F3 The Lighthouse Cat

     I didn't like this corner. That old wall along Lighthouse gave me the creeps. It had that cat up on the corner. Not like a house cat. It was bigger, scarier. Most people never even looked at it, even though it was ready to pounce.
     I usually tried to ignore it as I went by, and made sure I was on the other side of the street. But today I found myself at the corner before realizing. Stupid text message distracted me.
     I'm waiting for the light to let me cross the street, and I hear this low growl. No one else seems to hear it but me. I look back at the cat, and see its tail slowly curl.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

August 2010 Wrap-up

     August was a peculiar month. With the main project out of the way, I puttered around on others. One project which I've been toying with, only dubbed Supervillain for now, seems to go in erratic spurts. I'm not sure if it will ever amount to a full-fledged novel, or if it would even be marketable if it did. So I worked bits on it, and on other, weirder things. Dusted a few things off, and saw that blowing away the dust meant a lot of work with cutting and re-writing. I had days where I couldn't write for the start up of the new semester interfered, as well as my own bizarre sleep schedule (a constant problem, I know). By month's end, though, I had come up with a concept and an outline for the next Matt Allen, and it was so insidious I had to start writing right away. Which explains the recent new first chapter.
     I also let my record-keeping go somewhat astray. I did the writing and editing, but I also didn't record those numbers until much later, and there are . . . gaps. So I'm going to make an effort to do better at that.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

July 2010 Wrap-up

     Okay, so I'm late with this. It's been hanging around waiting to be done, but I've put it off. I need to make sure I remember to do these more regularly, like immediately. July was a good month, where I finished off the rough draft for The Missing Succubus which is a cracking good read if I say so myself.

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