Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bringing the scene to life

Sometimes the best way to bring life into your scenes is to detail the unexpected. Write about the half-noticed, and the half-forgotten. Observe the unobserved. The details that make your scenes vivid are those seen out of the corner of one's eye. It is the unnoticed things that bring emotion.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Talent is not enough!

Talent is insignificant. Many talented writers never reach success. With talent a writer must also posess discipline, love, luck, and endurance. Talent cannot sustain a writer, but must be accompanied by a ruling passion, an obsession, a calling - - perhaps to be called by some as dumb persistence. A writer must insist to write, want to write at all times. Such a passion must erupt into a fire in the belly, a madness of the art. A writer must be driven, obsessive and ruthless.

My desire to write, and my bond with my writing, is the strongest relationship I have ever had. My writing is a physical need. I will never make myself write. It is what I always want to do. I never grow tired of it. And as I write and try to get published, it sometimes seems like the world around me conspires to make me quit. But I will have nothing of it, and keep on going until I am published, and published again and published again, or until I die.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

What do literary agents really want?

In a nutshell? Literary agents desire gaining a client that will make them lots of money. Don't be fooled, your writing is about money. Passion, talent, desire, and all that are important, and I write because I love to write, but don't think for a minute that any agent or editor is willing to work with a writer without thinking about the money they are going to make off of said writer.

So, play the game. Your work is nothing more than a product. Treat it as such. Package it properly, make it so that a consumer cannot turn it down. Start small, if you have to, with the small press.

And for God's sake, personalize your query letter.

One agent has this sample query letter on their site:


Dear (name of literary agent),

I am writing in hope that you will be interested in reading my novel, ???. It is (insert genre)'s fiction and tells the story of ____________________. With your success with novels like __________________________ and ___________________________, I think this might be a good fit for your list.

I have had short stories published in the following __________________________, and won ________________________________ award.

I hope this will be of interest to you, and I attach the first ten pages of the novel, along with an SASE for your reply.


Your Name.


No, I don't think we should write our letters exactly like this, you have your own style, but this is a model I think we should consider. Look at how it is personalized. Perhaps inserting how we came to deciding upon such agency, in addition to mentioning novels they represent that resembles ours would help too. Maybe. Thing is, personalization is the key, and make them feel like they will make a lot of money representing you, without saying "hey, you're gonna make a gut-load of money on my product."

And when you describe your book, it should be tantalizing, yet economical. Be creative in both content and form.

Good luck, and I'll be seeing you again when I next write a post.

Good luck, stay tenacious, and keep writing.

P.S. at the end of the query it states "attach first ten pages of the novel" but honestly, I never call my work novels. A novel is published. What I am offering is a book, or manuscript. I just don't call it a novel. Seems presumptuous to me.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Don't preach - - as a writer it is your job to entertain.

To quote Stephen King exactly: "You want to get up on a soapbox and preach? Fine. Get one and try your local park. You want to write for money? Get to the point. And if you remove all the excess garbage and discover you can't find the point, tear up what you wrote and start all over again . . . or try something new."

Fact is, as a writer, we are entertainers on paper. I have always wrote with a moral in mind, but it killed the story. My characters are individuals. They must not be me. They must be them. That is when my writing got good.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Finding a Literary Agent

Anyone that has tried to find an agent knows that this is a very difficult task for new fiction writers. The market is extremely competitive. Every once in a while the door opens for a unique novel, but for the most part, it is nearly impossible to break in.

So how does one increase one's odds?

Make sure your work is as good as possible and that the query is as good as possible as well.

Editors are in this business to make money, and if the query or work has errors, or is not completely polished, they will set it aside and move on to the next work. And while you're at it, personalize the query letter. If the agent thinks the letter is just one assembly-line product of a couple hundred letters and that to you they are nothing more than a number that was not truly researched or studied, they will reject you. Period.

Happy hunting.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

My best writing comes when I vegitate

Ever notice that some of your best writing comes when you are in the shower day-dreaming? Okay, maybe not, but that is sometimes the case for me. Unfortunately, most of the time I lose those magical words unless a robe is nearby, and I run fast enough through the house to get to my computer.

Now I have a notebook in the bathroom, after an absence of one for months. More magic has been captured as of late.

In my latest work in progress I have been writing my chapters like this:

After I complete the last chapter, I retreat to the silence of my bedroom, lie back on the bed, and allow my mind to wander somewhere into a state that is not quite dreaming, but not quite full awareness. My characters swim in a pool of possibilities, and without much effort, the next chapter presents itself in my mind, and then I return to the computer and make it happen.

Try it sometime. You might be surprised how much more you can trust your deep imagination than you originally thought.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Keeping it simple -

Freedom is doing what you want. Happiness is loving what you do.

The person who finds a job they love will never work again.

Anyone that has lived their life has stories to tell--it's not the story, it's how you tell it.

Omit whatever is unneccessary.

A professional is an amateur who didn't quit.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Just Write

It's amazing how stories come out of my head when I least expect it. I used to tell people, "Ah, I've got to be in the mood to write. I need the groove to do it right."

This is true to a point, but then again, shouldn't I be able to write at any time? I claim to be a writer - isn't that what writers do? Write?

So, every night I write. If my book is not cooperating, I'll work on another project, or a shortstory, or my blogs. Fact is, I am always writing.

Professional baseball players don't practice their game only when they feel the groove or the inspiration of baseball - they practice constantly. They don't stay on top of their game if they don't.

So, like the ballplayer, we need to write. Doesn't matter what it is. Write something. Anything. Write to your heart's content. Never give up. Never give in. Get published.

Tenacity is preparation for an opportunity that may come when you least expect it.

But it takes luck to get published, or to land a literary agent, one might say.

Luck, my friend, is preparation meeting opportunity.

Keep Writing.

Get Published.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Being a Writer

Why is it that we, as new unpublished writers, spend so much time envying the published writers. Okay, okay, for one, they are published. But writing is a solitary trade. Why would we envy that? Not only does the life of a writer ensure that the writer spends a lot of time alone, the writer must love it.

So what is it that we do during that time of solitude? Write? Hopefully. Stephen King, in his book "On Writing" states that he closes the door, pushes away the video games, turns off the television, eliminates all distractions.

I don't try to write like other writers, or get it perfect on the first try. I just write. I write to my heart's desire. Lay the story down as it is in my head. The magic comes when you re-write, and re-write, and re-write.

And when the manuscript is finished, it is time -- time for a literary agent.

My journey is chronicled at my web site in the news section: . What's the story of your journey?

Comments welcome.

God Bless, and remember: A professional is an amateur who didn't quit.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Dan Bessie, Jeanne Johnson, myself, and my wife in Gold Beach, Oregon Posted by Picasa

My website has had a face-lift -- click here to check it out!

I have come to realize that when I move to Oregon (be it January 2007 or January 2009) I will no longer be a subscriber to Comcast. Cable is not available in the hills of Brookings, so I will be inclined to subscribe to a satellite provider for television and my highspeed internet access. Knowing this, I have realized the need to divorce myself slowly from Comcast's web pages that I use. Some still exist, but Google and Yahoo pages have become my primary pages. Check it out by clicking the title above.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Back From Vacation in Oregon, and ready to talk more about finding literary agents!

When I got home I had half a dozen rejections in my mailbox. I am so happy.

What? Did I say happy?

Yup. Gotta get past the noes to get to the yeses, man.

Besides, I have a rejection pledge of 100 for the year.

Interesting note. While I was on the Oregon Coast I met a writer at a book signing, got to know him, he told me he thought I was a good storyteller based on our conversations, and he has started a new publishing company. Cool. If I can't land a big boy, he has invited me to send him my work. How cool is that? Oh, and the gentleman is: Dan Bessie,

  • Then, the next day I talk to a woman at one of the book stores and she is friends with a literary agent. We talked for a while, exchanged information, and I got to thinking: I go up to Oregon for vacation and in a couple days I land as many connections (2) as I have in Southern California over the last three years (2). How weird is that?

    They both made a comment about me that I appreciated. They both said, "I like your attitude. You are destined to be published because of it."

    Thank you. I took that to heart.

    Ciao for now,