Posts Tagged ‘authors’


Well, I hope you’re happy. I’m dead.

Not really, but my name is. Anyone who’s been watching this blog has probably noticed the sudden change in my name–from “Jared S. Anderson” to “Jerod Scott.” There are a few reasons for this, most of them having to do with marketing and advertising–and only a little bit of it having to do with the fact that I really want to have a funeral for myself. Just kidding. Kind of.

In truth, I was perfectly content using my legal name, but I ran into several problems  which have made it obvious to me that I needed a new one.

The first–and main–reason for this change is the simple fact that there are too many Jared S. Anderson’s–in and out of the writing community–making it impossible for me to set myself apart. This problem made itself clear to me when I received a couple of emails regarding the gay pornography  I had allegedly written. I have not written any gay pornography, and while I am not entirely turned off by the idea of dabbling in some homoerotic horror one day, I don’t wish to be confused with the other author(s) who have written in the genre by the same name. I’m sure said author(s) would appreciate this is well. After all, if I were any other author, I wouldn’t necessarily want to be associated with me either. It’s just that, being me, well, I don’t have much choice. It’s very hard to pretend I don’t know who I am… folks just don’t buy it.

On top of the name being completely forgettable, it was also a little too long for my taste. I don’t want publishers to have to write my name in tiny letters for the sake of fitting it onto the cover of a book. In fact, I’d like to see my name take up a good 95% of the cover–perhaps just MY name and maybe a small image in the lower right hand corner of two stick figures knife-fighting or something–I don’t care–so long as they make sure my name is center stage. But that’s just wishful thinking on my part. Fortunately for the publishing industry, I don’t control the cover art for my books, and I don’t think they’d agree with my vision, so I have to take what I can get–and a shorter name is my best hope.

Privacy is another issue.  I’m beginning to realize the potential hazards of being even a small-time and relatively insignificant public figure. While I’m certainly no rock star (YET!) some recent events have reminded me that you can’t be too careful, and that maybe putting my real information “out there” isn’t such a good idea. I don’t know where “out there” is, but I know it’s close, and I know “they” are from “out there” and that “they” are watching…

Finally, the last nail in Jared S. Anderson’s coffin–as it were–was the website issue. I need to have a website, and it must be as simple and memorable as possible, meaning it should have my name in the web address. However, due to the over-population of Jared S. Anderson’s in this world, there has been no possible way for me to obtain a website without ending up using some address that has nothing to do with me. www.thatwriterguywithareallycommonname.com wasn’t taken, but let’s be honest: who is going to think of that when they go to look me up?

So… I decided on Jerod Scott. First, it is my name–or at least half of it–even though the spelling is a little odd. (The reason for that, by the way, is that dropping the “Anderson” still wasn’t enough to set me apart by a long shot. I still had to tweak my name to get something that wasn’t taken.)

Yes, it’s been quite a sad past few days, what with my passing over and all… but the good news is I get to have pinatas at my funeral!

…So Jerod Scott it is. And if this doesn’t work, I am going with my initial instinct and adopting the pseudonym Egburt Xavier Slopcox the Third.

 

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It’s been said that it takes more than one person to write a novel, and that is the absolute truth. Beautiful Monster was of course, written by two folks, me and Mimi A. Williams, but what I’m referring to is all the people along the way who have made the book possible and who supported this project. With Beautiful Monster having just been released, it’s hard not to think about the journey, and more importantly, the people who helped make it happen.

I’ve worked very hard for the past several years to make this happen, and now that it’s here, I realize just how many people were a part of it. Since there’s only enough allotted room in any given novel to acknowledge a handful of people, I am writing this now as a way of (hopefully) including everyone who helped this dream become a reality, and to let all of you know that you mattered in making this real.

Thank you to:

Heather ~ for your unending support, your great management skills, your hard work, and the genuine respect you have for mine.

Mimi A. Williams ~ my co-author, for teaching me everything I know about this game, and for staying up with me till the middle of the night on numerous occasions to make sure we got it right. Thank you for creating such wonderful characters who worked so well with my own. Thank you for believing in me enough to put so much of your time and energy into me. None of this would be possible without you. We did it.

Mom ~ for reading Beautiful Monster (and loving it) even though I told you not to.

Kim Johnson ~ for reading, and for telling me when I’d found my voice.

Dawne Dominique ~ for the kindness, the great interview, and the amazing cover art.

Erin Lale ~ for delivering such good news.

Sherrie Hill ~ for being the first person we met when we arrived. Thank you for your style, your charm, your belief in me, and your friendship. Thank you also for handing out the postcards and spreading the word.

Kim Richards ~ for slipping in that ‘yes’ amid the endless sea of ‘no’s.

Tom Brown ~ for reading, for running, and for spurring me on in both.

Lori Clark ~ for the friendship, the interview, and the book review.

Tamara Thorne ~ for the great blurb, the great friendship, and for being a hero who doesn’t disappoint.

David Hansen ~ for being around after all these years, and for showing me New Orleans, and always knowing who I was.

Todd Tapper ~ for your great sense of humor about what you do, and for the invaluable information you gave us. You didn’t bat an eye, no matter how silly (or morbid) the question.

Sally Franklin Christie ~ for your great marketing.

Karina Fabian ~ for your kindness, support, and for trying to help me get into the chat room.

Roberta Antunez ~ for your keen eye, your hard work, and your support.

Everyone at Damnation Books ~ for your great support, and for seeing something in us.

The Fiend ~ for surprising me with your existence and taking Beautiful Monster to a better place.

****

Also, I would like to give thanks to some people for their genuine support and enthusiasm, and for the inspiration and guidance they’ve given me.

Thank you to:

Holly Malcom ~ for being an amazing reader with an editorial eye that could put the best the shame.

Dayle Sant ~ for your support and your knowledge of the English language.

Marlene Anderson ~ for loving The White Room, and wanting more.

Becky Herron ~ for actually reading me… and encouraging me.

Joe Ostler ~ for sharing the passion and the good times.

Pam MacDonald ~ for your investment into our futures.

Annie Valenzuela ~ for your excitement and your encouragement. You have always had the crown, Annie… and you always will! Your enthusiasm has motivated me in wonderful ways. Thank you.

Linda L. Bennett ~ for your unwavering loyalty to me. Thank you for always reading my blog and for leaving me such kind comments.

Care Patton ~ for always telling me to dream, and for introducing me to Kim Williams-Justesen. You’ve pointed me in a lot of directions over the years… and they’ve all been right.

Bradley “Awesome” Newsome ~ for being a great reader and a great guy. Thank you for being the first person who called me your favorite author.

Elizabeth Hamre ~ for finding me, and for reading The Vagina Monologues to me when we ran out of things to talk about. You were there in the beginning of all this. I’ll always remember our talks.

Eva M. Lietz ~ for spreading the word.

Arin MacDonald ~ for showing me New York City through your eyes, and introducing me to even more strange novels, both of which have inspired me greatly.

The folks at Candle Bay (especially Juicy Lucy and Poison Ivy) ~ for giving me an interesting place to stay. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be immortalized. You all gave me some great new ideas.

Anthony Berge ~ for saying I should go for it many, many years before I actually did. You’re a muse.

Tim Campbell ~ for your great art, and for always telling me I could and should do this.

Doug and Sonya Malcom ~ for your constant encouragement, and your help along the way.

Debbie Rocco ~ for all the years of unrestrained imagination, and for wanting to read my books.

Sheryl Thornblad ~ for your support… and for introducing me to the “underground,” where so many of my ideas have come from.

Jamie Thompson ~ for reading my stuff back in the day, when I really, really sucked at it; and because you’ve always been the best personal assistant ever.

Brad Sant ~ for unwittingly giving me “Winter.”

My family ~ for being so supportive. I sincerely appreciate all of your excitement and enthusiasm. All of you have been great readers, brainstorming buddies, and awesome supporters.

All of the great authors who have supported me, encouraged me, and allowed me entrance into your worlds and your minds. You are the ones who made me want to do this in the first place. You are my heroes.

All the players ~ for teaching me beforehand to keep my hands to myself, my feet on the ground, and my eyes on the road.

****

Beautiful Monster is now available in eBook format at: http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Monster-ebook/dp/B00948Q0DK/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1346686182&sr=8-3&keywords=Jared+S.+Anderson#_ and at: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615727742. It will be available in paperback in a few weeks!

 


With just one month till the release of Beautiful Monster, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, mostly about how all of this came to be. It still feels like a dream to me, and I still expect to wake up any minute. And if it’s real, I’m waiting for something to somehow go wrong. I’ve been anticipating some kind of terrible news for some time now, but so far, things seem to be on track, and the novel is still set to be released on September 1st, one month from now.

There are a lot of things I anticipated when the day came that I finally got a book published… and there are some things I did not anticipate. First on this list of surprises is the speed at which this whole process has moved. I didn’t give much thought to the new age of e-books, and therefore, I figured once I found a publisher, it’d be a good few years before I’d be able to see and hold my own book. As it is now though, the book is set to  be released in both hardcopy and e-book versions in about three months after having been accepted.

I didn’t expect to get a publisher before I got an agent. While I queried just about every agent on (and a few off) the American Continent for The White Room, I did things differently for Beautiful Monster. Because of Monster’s violent and graphic nature, I never expected it to get picked up at all. My co-author and I queried 27 small to mid-sized publishing presses for Monster as opposed to the 157 literary agents I queried for The White Room. My feeling was that The White Room was simply more commercial, and therefore would have a much easier time selling. That hasn’t turned out to be the case at all.

I didn’t expect to be so worried about who might read this book. As I mentioned before, Beautiful Monster is laden with violence, sex, and drug use. And I didn’t skimp on any of the details… nor did I use gentle language to convey these acts. I suppose that because I never expected the novel to find a home, I was much more liberal with my own twisted-ness, but now that it’s going to be a real book, I’m a little bit mortified. Not ashamed… but I do cringe a little whenever someone in my family or someone I know (who isn’t a lover of horror stories) asks me about the book.

I didn’t expect so much support, and the person who surprised me the most was my mother. Not because she isn’t supportive, but because I know that if my own son had written this book, I’d probably be a bit concerned about what the neighbors might think. When the contract was signed, I called my mom (who had read – and actually somehow enjoyed the book) and had a little talk with her in hopes of preparing her for the possible negative side-effects of the situation. I told her that people whom we may not necessarily want to read this book might read it, and there’s nothing I or anyone else can do to stop them. I told her I would very likely be harshly criticized and that a lot of people, even people we love, may not exactly appreciate the wicked and vulgar nature of this story. After prattling off my list of possible unpleasant scenarios, she said, “So what? If they don’t like it, they don’t have to read it. I’m proud of you anyway.” That made my day.

I didn’t expect to make so many new and wonderful friends. Since this book has been picked up, I’ve made the acquaintances of so many other writers, many of whom were my heroes back in the days when I used to read for the sheer enjoyment of it while dreaming that I could one day do this thing. These other writers know exactly where I’m at, and they have all been absolutely wonderful about talking to me, giving me good advice, and letting me know what it was like for them.

Most of all, I didn’t expect that I’d so quickly feel that it was time for the next step. As beginning writers, we all live our lives in terms of, “one day, when I finally get published…” and I didn’t expect that when I finally did, I’d be worried about the next book just a week or two after. The sparkle fades fast, and soon you’re left with the feeling of “So… now what?” … So now, as best as I can guess, I just keep writing the next one. I knew I’d never be content having written only one book (or even just two or three for that matter), but I guess I thought I’d at least take some time off mentally to figuratively roll around nude in my newfound glory. But I never really did. I just started worrying about the next story.

One month to blast off… and here’s what I know: there really is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow… but as soon as you find it, you just see another rainbow to chase.

 


When I contacted Jack Weyland, asking him if he’d be interested in doing an interview for my blog, he responded to me the very next morning, apologizing for not getting back to me sooner. I’d expected to spend at least a few days worrying over whether or not he’d be interested in this, so I was pleasantly surprised by his quick, kind reply. He has been a successfully published author since I was three years old, and it isn’t every day that you get an e-mail from someone like that, so this was particularly thrilling for me.

Jack Weyland is the author of more than two dozen novels, over fifty short stories, and with his massively popular debut novel, Charly, he is often credited as being largely responsible for the popularization of the modern Latter-day Saint themed fiction genre. Along with a successful career as a novelist, he has spent much of his life as a professor of physics.

For more about Jack, check him out at: http://www.jackweyland.com/

Q: How did people respond when you first told them you wanted to write LDS fiction?

A: One of my English teachers asked, “You’re not serious, are you?” That was certainly a reasonable response since I was a graduate student in physics, had only taken a couple of classes in college that involved creative writing, and certainly had not impressed him with my writing. (For good reason I might add.)

Q: In your novels, we often meet mismatched couples trying to find middle ground despite their personal and extraneous differences. What is it about this theme that interests you?

A: That seems characteristic of most marriages. Husbands and wives often don’t think the same. It’s bridging those differences that brings greater appreciation of each other. And it’s good for their kids. If you can get a husband and a wife to agree on a set of actions for their kids, it’s probably the right choice.

Q: When I read Charly, I admit it… I cried. Was it as emotional for you to write it as it was for us to read it?

A: It was. At the time I was writing Charly, my dad was battling cancer. By the time I finished the book, he had died. My feelings of loss and grief were transferred into the book. I remember one scene, when Charly was near death, where I was crying as I wrote it.

Q: Charly was made into a movie in 2002. How did you feel about that? Were you happy with the movie?

A: Over the years before the movie was made, I had been contacted many times by people who wanted to do a movie of Charly. But for the most part they’d call, we’d talk, and that was the last I ever heard from them. So when Adam Anderegg contacted me, it didn’t occur to me that he might actually do a movie. He did one thing though that none of the others had done. He drove up to Rexburg and took my wife Sherry and me to dinner. So that set him apart from the others! And that was just the beginning. Adam and everyone at Kaleidoscope Pictures did an excellent job! They had me read sample scripts throughout the process of rewriting the script and always asked for my input. I am grateful to them for preserving the story. Janine Gilbert wrote all the versions of the scripts. I am extremely pleased with what she came up with. That’s why I often say that the movie is better than the book.

Q: Adam’s Story is the sequel to Charly and Sam, where we finally get to learn what happened to their only son. When you were writing Charly and Sam, did you know you would one day write Adam’s Story, or was it something you decided to do much later?

A: The thought that I should write about Adam came to me one time when I was watching the movie Charly. I asked myself, “W hat about Adam? What happens to him? How is his life going to be different having had such a remarkable mom as Charly? Or will he even know anything about her?”

Q: When I was in school, I always used to see these kids walking around with books like Charly, Sam, Stephanie, and Kimberly. I also saw a billboard on a freeway for Charly in Salt Lake City a few years back. What does it feel like to have garnered that strong of a response to your work?

A: First of all, we were at that time living in Rapid City, South Dakota when many of my books were published. Few of the people I worked with at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology knew I wrote fiction. Once a year, I’d fly to Utah to sign books. It was like I had a secret life. When I was in South Dakota, writing was my secret identity. When I was in Utah, being a physics professor was my secret identity. So it all worked out! But even then it did occasionally hit me that my writing had touched a lot of lives. I always cherished the letters I received from youth who said my books had helped them with some of their challenges.

Q: Many people have credited you for being largely responsible for the popularization of the LDS Fiction genre. How do you feel about that?

A: lucky! A few weeks before I sent a copy of Charly to Deseret Book, they decided they would start publishing fiction. However, when they read my manuscript, it was painfully apparent it wasn’t good enough to be published, but since for ten years before that time I had several short stories published by The New Era, I had the reputation of being good at revising. So they decided to work with me. For a brief time I was the only fiction writer for Deseret Book! That didn’t last of course. I’m grateful for the experiences I have had as a writer.

Q: What is your writing process like? Do you write outlines beforehand, or do you just find a starting point and go?

A: I’ve done it both ways. When I’m looking for something to write, I often sit down and write dialogue. No descriptions. No plot lines. Just dialogue. It’s like getting to know someone by sitting next to them in a café and listening to them talk (which I also do). Occasionally I realize these fictional characters are interesting people and I should get to know them better. So I start a rough draft, again, mostly dialogue. Here are some novels came from that process: Jake; A New Dawn; As Always, Dave. Some of my books came about when a young woman who’d gone through a difficult experience wrote and asked me to write about her experience I’d hire her as a consultant then built a fictional story around her experience. Here are some in that category: Sara, Whenever I Hear Your Name; Megan; Emily; Brittany; Ashley and Jen.

Q: You are a best-selling author, as well as a professor of physics. Are there any similarities between those two lines of work? And which field of work do you prefer and why?

A: For me the good thing was that physics doesn’t tire me out for writing, and vice versa. They seem to require different parts of my brain. One carry-over for physics is that I wrote silly songs for every physics chapter that made it more fun for the students. The truth is I can write only about two hours a day, so the physics gives me something else to do with my time. Also, I was found that I was able to explain the principles of physics so that anyone can understand. Besides that, physics can be fun! I loved doing demonstrations in class. It’s like bringing a new toy to class every day.

Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?

A: Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Neil Simon and David McCullough. Neil Simon especially was a big influence in my life. The decision to write every day came after seeing a Neil Simon play on Broadway while in New York for a physics conference. I decided, “I think I’ll write a Broadway play.” It never occurred to me that seeing a Broadway play isn’t usually considered a preparation for writing a Broadway play. I tried to sell the play with no success and then decided to turn it into a novel. That novel is Charly.

Q: Of all your characters, do you have a favorite, and why is he or she your favorite?

A: Charly. Why? Because my wife Sherry is a convert from New York, just like Charly.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: I have written a Dr. Seuss-like Christmas poem called “Gerald Giraffe.” Natassia Scoresby, a talented artist, has illustrated the book. We are in the process of finding a publisher. Also, I am working with Steven Spiel to adapt my novel “A New Dawn” into a stage musical. I have also recently written a novel for married couples. “Heather 101″ can be downloaded from the Deseret Book website. In addition, I have a new self-published novel called “Mackenzie for Congress.” It can be downloaded from Amazon.com

Q: What do you consider the highlight of your writing career?

A: One of the great thrills has been to be in the audience when the movie Charly was being shown. Also, BYU-Idaho once did a comedy stage play of mine called “Jack Weyland’s Home Cooking.” I love to hear people laugh because of something I’ve written. Sherry and I attended every performance of the play.

Q: When you look back on your life, do you feel like your journey as a writer was pre-destined/meant to be?

A: I have no other explanation for what has happened to me than that. It seems so improbable to me even now.

Q: What makes you laugh out loud?

A: That’s not the right question. The right question is what do you most enjoy from your writing. The answer is: to be near Sherry when she is reading one of my manuscripts. I love to hear her laugh!

Q: What is something about yourself that people might be surprised to know?

A: I once had the calling of being the assistant stake bee-keeper in South Dakota. I loved it! It’s a great church calling because you didn’t have to call the bees together and tell them that the month is nearly over and they need to get out there and collect some pollen. Also, nobody came to check up on us when we were in the field with the bees. To this day I love bees!

Q: If you could pass on one piece of wisdom that life has taught you, what would it be?

A: “Men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.” (D&C 58: 27-28) It’s good to know that the power is in us to do the things we want to do which may be of some help to someone.


We received the contract for Beautiful Monster today. By now, I’d done enough research on the press and learned of some other well-respected author’s represented by the press, that I felt optimistic we’d probably be signing it. Still, I refused to celebrate until we saw the contract, looked at it very closely and agreed with it. I’ve spent the past eight or nine hours going over the contract with my co-author, Kim, and we both agree it’s a good one.

(Kim and I, professionals that we are, going over the contract via Skype)

Last week, Kim and I went out on a limb, and without having received the contract, went ahead with some formatting revisions that are standard to the press. This consisted of changing all text to Georgia font, spelling out, hyphenating, and capitalizing all chapter headers, Finding and correcting all (or most) passive voice passages, spelling out all abbreviations, separating chapter breaks by four asterisks, deleting all spaces before and after ellipses, adding quotations to all of the Fiend’s dialogue (as this is considered internal thought since the Fiend speaks in Sterling’s head), and eliminating all sentences that begin with conjunctions. It was leap of faith on our parts, considering the task took nearly ten hours and we weren’t even sure if we would sign the contract. I’m glad we did it though. It saved us a little time.

Along with the contract, we received tax forms (which kind of scare me) and Author Information sheets. These sheets are where you fill out your personal information, book dedications, and make mention of those folks you’d like to acknowledge and thank. It also asks for key points of the plot and physical descriptions of the main characters. When answering these questions, they ask that you be concise, as this is done for the sake of giving the cover artist a clear idea for your books cover picture. I guess this ensures you don’t end up with a picture of a blandly handsome, buff dude holding a petite, well-cleavaged, raven-haired beauty in the sunset on your book cover when your book is about tractors or something.

The majority of the contract is basically a long list of your legal rights and expectations, the legal rights and expectations of the publisher, royalty percentage agreements, and a whole bunch of other legal jargon that, although quite simple, is not necessarily interesting enough to go into serious depth here.

It’s still a long way to go to be able to hold my own book in my hand. It could, and likely will, be two years before I am able to have that. First, we will be assigned an editor to whom we will be accountable to as we begin a long series of editorial revisions. We will have deadlines and we will have them aplenty. Between these rounds of revision, there’s nothing to do but keep on keeping on. I will keep working on Tyranny Hall, my solo project, Kim will continue working on hers, and God help us, we’ve been throwing around the idea of a sequel (a trilogy, actually) for Beautiful Monster~but that’s another blog…

I realized today that I’m glad Beautiful Monster is the one that got the gig. Not only because I love the story and feel it is substantially stronger than The White Room, but also because I don’t want to do this alone! This is all very intimidating to me still, and I am lucky to have someone to go through this with.

A lot can happen in the time it takes for this to really be a “done deal,” but I feel like I can at least exhale a little now. I have wanted this so badly for so long, and now that it’s here, I can’t help but feel a little exhilarated. I’m too tired to celebrate tonight though. I just want to sit here in the dark and mentally replay what a wild journey it has been thus far. I can’t think about the deadlines right now. I can’t think about the marketing plans, and the book sales, and my future as an author. I can only be right here, right now, taking a big deep breath and saying to myself that no matter what happens from here, someone finally thought I was good enough to take a chance on~ I can look at myself and say that I have worked very hard for this, and it hasn’t come easy, and I didn’t give up.

In a way, I think that’s all I ever wanted.


I live my life these days according to an ongoing list of weekly to-do‘s that I design every Sunday night; each day of the upcoming week containing a set of challenging-yet-reasonable objectives that I cross off the list as they are accomplished. I’ve found that otherwise, my life loses direction and time passes by until one day I wake up and wonder what happened to the last week, month, year, etc. I’ve lost enough time this way to take my little to-do list very seriously at this point in my life.

It’s taken many years of soul-searching to pin down my real priorities and learn that I need to focus on those and let go of the little time-wasters that hinder me. This is, for me, the only effective way I’ve found to live. Future-based goal setting is great, but the trouble I have with that is the excuse I will invariably make: “I have plenty of time.” I’ve learned that I’m the kind of person who needs to not only set goals for the future, but also smaller goals that I need to do today which will ultimately lead me to the accomplishment of the bigger goals.

There are two kinds of goals on my list: those things that need to be done daily: exercise, eat right, read, write, make some kind of spiritual contact and go to work (on work days). Then there are the things that are more sporadic: meet with my critique group, clean the house, write a blog, query a few literary agents, meet with friends, etc. In both cases of the daily and the more intermittent to-do‘s, it becomes mind-numbingly monotonous after a while, and eventually you reach a point when you feel like you just can’t do it anymore.

I suppose that all of us reaches a kind of breaking point at one time or another, no matter what path we’ve chosen – and today, I hit a big one. I have the day off work, which means my to-do list is going to be extra long. I woke up and looked at the list, thinking I was ready to tackle the day. But when I saw “query five agents” at the top of the list, my heart plummeted, my spirit sank, and for the first time, I considered putting a big black X on the page and going back to bed.

Instead, I made some coffee, played with the dogs and argued with myself in silence. It’s been several weeks since I queried any agents and I know the rules: do not “query-bomb” (meaning don’t contact every agent under the sun in one blow – they know each other, they talk with each other, and they don’t like it when authors clearly don’t even know who they’re querying.) I know the rules, I respect the rules and I play by the rules.  The point is, it’s been several weeks since I queried anyone, and today it needed to be done. So in the end, I lost the argument with myself and sat down to query some agents.

Here’s what querying agents means for me: first, I need to block out a good hour or two (sometimes more) of my day. Second, I need to locate the agent, (which can be terribly tedious in and  of itself) then research what genres they accept, what kind of writers they’re looking for, and find out if they accept e-mail submissions, snail mail only, or both. Then I need to learn as much as I can about the agent and what he or she represents, and contact them according to their personal guidelines, which varies from agent to agent. Some want just a query letter. Others want a query letter with a synopsis. Some want a query letter, a synopsis and a specific amount of sample writing. Some want all of this, plus a chapter-by-chapter synopsis. Some want all of this in the body of an e-mail (if they accept e-mail submissions). Others want sample chapters as an attachment. Some want you to include not only your bio and platform, but your marketing strategy plans as well. Needless to say, every agent has different guidelines – and that’s okay. The point is that this can be a very challenging process for authors, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s just part of my job. But there comes a point in which you just can’t help but feel exhausted by it all, and that’s where I am today.

I queried the five agents today over the course of about two hours. I followed all of their rules and was a professional through and through. But I was less than enthused about doing it. Counting the five I queried today, I have been through this process 135 times. Of the 135 agents I have queried, one asked to see my entire manuscript, and three asked to see the first five or six chapters. That means 131 literary agents have looked my query letter over and passed without asking to see any of my actual writing. And here’s the best part: this is not only normal, it’s expected. Statistically, I have a good seven to nine more years of this before someone takes an interest in my work. Every writer I’ve ever talked to went through this part of the process too, and they all tell me the same thing: “It’s not personal. Just keep writing.” So I do. And I do so with an unshakable determination to get better and better at my craft.

But… today… I’m creatively bankrupt and void of all inspiration.

As The White Room treks the globe, accumulating endless rejections, my other manuscript, Gallery of Dolls, is several thousand miles away being revised and polished by Kim Williams-Justesen, co-author of the novel. Also, I am at the beginning of chapter five of Alejandro (working title). The plan is to have Gallery ready for submission by the end of January 2012, and Alejandro ready by May of the same year. Under normal circumstances, thinking of the future of these books (and the ones that have yet to be written) gives me a shot of optimism and boosts my spirits. But today… just for today… I’m going to allow myself to dread my future as a writer. I’m going to accept where I am rather than fawning over where I wish I were.  Today, I wish that I wanted something simpler. Today, I wish that all I wanted from life was to get a good job, have a couple kids and settle into the comfort of a nine to five job. Today… I wish I was someone else because I know without a doubt that I will never be happy with any of those things. Today… I surrender.

But tomorrow is another day and I won’t give up on it. I never wanted a simple life. I never expected this to be easy. I had the luxury of walking into this business with my eyes wide open. As Kim told me over a year ago, “writing the book is the easy part.” And she was right. There isn’t much room for pity and there are no shortcuts. Nothing worth having ever comes easy and despite the rejections, I’ve had some wonderful experiences. I’ve met many of my heroes. I’ve had agents tell me some wonderful things and point me in some good directions. And above all, I’ve been able to do what I love: write… and I’ve been lucky enough to get a lot of help along the way.

No, I won’t give up. The people who love me wouldn’t let me and more importantly, I would never forgive myself if I did. I’ve worked too hard for this and I’ve spent too much time to justify walking away. But more than all of that, I don’t want to give up. Today is a bad day and that’s okay… but overall, this is what makes me happy, despite all the heartache along the way.

I started this blog to document my adventures in the world of writing. I’ve always told the truth but I’ve never really said much about the strains and pains of this business because I never wanted to discourage anyone. But to maintain the dignity of my blog’s overall purpose, I can’t really forfeit the darker side, either. The truth is that being a writer has a hell of a lot more to do with sitting down, writing and maintaining a smile while the world tells you you’re not good enough than anything else. It has more to do with working than playing. It’s about getting good at your craft and playing the game. It’s about accepting that there are no shortcuts and loving the process in its entirety, despite its flaws. It’s about understanding that the dream is always preceded by the nightmare. Your job is to write and let the business of getting published take care of itself. In the interim, hold tight to the little things that happen along the way which propel you in a forward direction and prove to you that your path is true.

In New Orleans this summer, I spent some time with my best friend from childhood. He said something that I hold onto. He said, “You’re a writer. You’ve always been a writer and one day you’ll be published. You always had a way of setting your mind to something and getting it. You will get this too.”

And I will. But not today… and that’s okay.


A general estimation of the time it takes me to complete a novel, complete with the revision process, is roughly six months. That’s two novels a year~ a goal I’ve set for myself and am adamant about adhering to. The trouble is, sometimes things get off track and projects overlap.

My objective was to begin my third book at the beginning of July. An Evil Heart, the project I am currently working on with Kim Williams-Justesen was scheduled to be finished by June fifteenth. It’s now July sixth and, although An Evil Heart is in its final two chapters, I didn’t want to wait until it was finished to begin the next book.

A lot of authors have more than one project going on at a time. For some this is easy, and for others, it’s not even an option. I am somewhere in the middle on this subject. I’m finding that the vast contrast of the voice and style of the two undertakings are making it difficult to shift from one story without getting its residual influence all over the other. Given the broad distinctions between the two stories, this makes for some very confusing and poorly formed story development.

For the first time, I am beginning to understand some things that I’ve heard other writers talk about. For example, until now, it was never a challenge for me to sit down and write something and maintain a consistent voice. Now I am comprehending the importance of “getting into character”.

When you’re writing just one story, it’s much easier to tap into the right voice. With two projects going, especially when the voices of each of the stories are so different from each other, you have to find methods of getting into the right frame of mind for each interchanging writing session.

For the story I am writing from the serial killer’s point of view, for example, I find that I must take very different mental approaches to the things around me in the hours before I sit down to write than I do in the hours that precede the writing of my daydreaming, small-town, trailer park, lawnmower boy and his story.

With practice, I’m hoping to become better at shifting my focus so that my goal of two novels a year can be attained whether or not everything runs perfectly on schedule, but as of right now, it is proving to be a difficult endeavor that I will be glad to be done with.