Posts Tagged ‘jsascribes’


The writing life, for the most part, is not glamorous, but every so often, something really fantastic happens, and it reminds me of the reasons I wanted to do this. I’ve made a commitment to chronicle these things as a way of keeping myself from taking it for granted. I call these my “Rockstar Moments” because they make me feel like a rockstar! My most recent Rockstar moment came a few days ago.

Recently, I’ve been assisting my friend and fellow horror author, Tamara Thorne, in proof-reading some of her earlier books which are currently being converted into eBook format. Tamara does all the hard stuff – I just double check for typos that the scanning sometimes produces. I’ve been a Tamara Thorne fan since the ’90s, so really, it’s just an excuse for me to read really good books. Anyway, the latest Tamara Thorne book that’s been successfully converted into eBook format is Eternity.

Until I started proofing it, I’d never read Eternity, so this one was especially fun. I’ve read (and in several cases re-read) Bad Things, Haunted, Moonfall, and The Sorority Series (Eve, Merilynn, and Samantha) but there were still a few out there that I hadn’t had the chance to get.

I plowed through Eternity, trying very hard not to demand the chapters from Tamara faster than she could restore and send them. Whereas most great stories have their climactic end, Eternity felt to me like one big, wonderfully on-going peak that just kept getting higher and higher. Seriously. This book has it all: serial killers, famous missing persons, horror, shrewd humor, murder mystery, a dash of sci-fi, and even a bit of romance. What’s not to love?

So the fact that I genuinely love this book only makes my recent Rockstar Moment that much sweeter. After the conversions were finished, Tamara sent me the file to look over, and this is what I saw:

This is probably one of the coolest things that’s ever happened to me. I couldn’t be more honored.

Thank you, Tamara, for your very kind gesture. Words fail.

Eternity is now available in eBook at: http://www.amazon.com/Eternity-ebook/dp/B00AA3WWW6/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1353445662&sr=1-7&keywords=Eternity. It will be re-released in paperback next year.

Also, be sure to check out Tamara’s Little Blog of Horrors at: http://tamarathorne.wordpress.com/


As promised, here are the pictures of my proof copy of With All My Love by Patricia Scanlan, which she mailed to me a few weeks ago.

A proof copy is the final sample that the printer makes previous to the full print run of a novel. To be able to get one of these straight from the author herself is a high honor, and I’m thrilled by Patricia’s very kind gesture.

Patricia, I’ve been a fan of your work for many years, and am pleased to know you and to learn that you’re just as kind and as fascinating as I ever could have imagined. Thank you for letting me be the first American to read this book!

With All My Love will be released Mother’s Day, which is in March in the UK, and May in the United States.

For more on Patricia Scanlan and her work, visit her at: http://authorsplace.co.uk/patricia-scanlan/


When I contacted Patricia Scanlan a few moths ago, inviting her to do an interview on my blog, I didn’t necessarily expect a response. Authors are very busy people, especially number one bestselling authors like her! As it turned out, Patricia not only agreed to do an interview, but she turned out to be one of coolest authors I’ve met. We’ve kept in touch via e-mail for several months now, and every time I get an e-mail from her, I get a little giddy.

My wife and I discovered the books of Patricia Scanlan several years ago. After finishing Francesca’s Party, my wife told me I absolutely had to read it. I am a lover of all genres, but I tend to lean more toward thriller/suspense, and even horror. Still, I figured if it was that good, I better give it a shot.

I couldn’t put it down. After finishing it, I immediately went and purchased several more of her books and devoured them just as quickly. We recommended these books to everyone we knew, and my sister-in-law soon became a big fan as well.

After talking more about it, Patricia and I decided to hold off on posting her interview until the release of her upcoming novel, With All My Love, which is on or around Mother’s Day. In Ireland, where Patricia lives, Mother’s Day falls in March. Here in the U.S., it’s in May…so either way, it will be several months before I post the interview.

The thing I’m most excited about, however, the real “Rockstar Moment” is that after she and I got to know each other better, she asked me how I would like to be the first person in the United States to read With All My Love. She told me she had talked to her agent and they decided they’d like to send me a proof copy of the novel before its actual release. I was stoked! I eagerly gave her the information she needed so she could send it to me.

Patricia sent me an e-mail a couple of days ago, letting me know it would soon be on its way. This is, by far, one of the most incredible things to happen to me since I’ve begun meeting authors and traveling the writing circle. To receive a proof copy of one of your favorite author’s novels is an honor of the highest kind and I’m thrilled to be the recipient of such an awesome gesture.

It’s things like these that have inspired me to write these blogs, which I have dubbed “Rockstar Moments,” because that’s what it makes me feel like. Since beginning this journey, I’ve repeatedly been struck by the kindness and sense of camaraderie from the other writers I’ve met, and to have Patricia Scanlan among my friends is inexplicable. It’s just plain…rad.

I recommend all of Patricia’s books to anyone who loves a good story. Her novels have  a way of touching the human heart, moving the spirit, and making the readers feel at home in a way few authors are able to do. She’s written dozens of novels, and all of them have been number one best sellers. Her novel, With All My Love will be available Mother’s Day, 2013.

In closing, thank you Patricia Scanlan, for your great books, your wonderful gesture, and your friendship. I can’t wait to read With All My Love!


As soon as I was accepted for publication by a publisher, I was given some advice by more than one writer: do not read the reviews on your book. For some reason, book critics seem to be especially harsh, and I can see how reading bad reviews would make a writer feel pretty terrible. So, I considered this to be good advice, and made a not very committed decision to follow it. Beautiful Monster has been out for less than two weeks, and guess what I’ve done almost every day since? Yep. I’ve been on Amazon. I’ve been on Goodreads. I’ve been on Barnes & Noble. I’ve been everywhere the book is being marketed and I’ve been reading the reviews.

So far, the reviews have been good… great actually. I’ve been impressed by the readers’ insights into the story, I’m fascinated by the way they are affected by it, and I am, of course, flattered by their kind words. However… it’s just a matter of time till someone feels differently, and publicly states their hatred for me as an author, and/or the book itself. It’s inevitable. The question is: how will I handle it? The answer: I’m not sure.

I’d like to think I’m thick-skinned enough to take some criticism, but after reading some of the incredibly abrasive negative reviews on some of my favorite books, I’m not so sure. People get downright nasty about these things! So… I’ve made a decision. I’m going to stop while I’m ahead and not read any more reviews. The truth is, you can not write for other people. Writing is something that is almost entirely intrinsically motivated~ you have to do it for yourself. As soon as you start listening to critics, you start questioning yourself.

I also need to use my time writing new material. Beautiful Monster is complete; there’s no taking it back, and no changing anything about it, even if I wanted to. It’s been given wings and is out of my hands. It’s been placed in a world which will do whatever it chooses to do with it. It’s not my business what becomes of the book at this point. The only business I have is to keep writing. That’s what this is all about: keeping on keeping on, and so… onto the next chapter…


After putting my first manuscript, The White Room, in a dark corner and leaving it there for the past half a year or so, I have reluctantly unearthed it with serious intentions to re-vamp. As I’m looking it over, I realize how much work it needs before I’m willing to let my publisher come within five feet of it.  For the most part these re-writes should be somewhat simple, easy fixes, but there are a few things that I am really having a hard time with. The thing troubling me most right now is the prologue. The reason it’s so problematic is that I’ve chosen to write it in third person. I’ve made this decision because I feel I need to introduce the concept of the story before beginning the adventures of my protagonist…and he can’t be present in the scene.

I don’t know when, or even if, I ever made the conscious decision to write in the first person, but that’s what I’ve always done. We live our lives first person, so I guess writing from that same perspective just made sense to me. Regarding the books I read, I have no especial preference as to which method is used. If it’s a good story, it’s a good story and I don’t really care who’s telling it, but I didn’t think that in my own writing, shifting my person was going to be this difficult. It has taken me seven days to write six very mediocre pages.

The first problem I’m having is an inability to find my voice. When I write from a protagonist’s point of view, I am becoming the character. I know how he sees the world and how he responds to it. I know the things that fascinate him, and the things that he wouldn’t give a second thought to; I simply get into his state of mind and let him tell his story…but in third person, who am I? This may sound ridiculous, but I’m serious. Who is narrating this story? It can’t really be me, can it?

Another issue is that I don’t know what details in the setting to focus on. This probably ties into not being able to find my voice. Since I don’t know who is telling the story, I’m not sure what to point out to the reader. The answer is obvious: point out what’s important…but my question to that is: important to who? Bob the gardener might care that the fern needs watering, but chances are slim that Rhoda the gold-hearted hooker is interested in ferns…which brings me to my next third person pitfall: point of view.

If I write third person limited, whose eyes do I decide to see the world through, and how can I show the readers anything that this character doesn’t see him or herself? If I write third person objective, I will convey my story with all the emotional zest of a tape recording, and finally, if I write third person omniscient, won’t I be head-hopping? Isn’t head-hopping a big no-no?

Writing this prologue has taught me that I need to expand my abilities. I don’t like being this confused and unsure of myself. I plan to get some books on point of view, as well as talk to some other writers I know who write in different styles than myself. I’m eager to get on with the rest of the story, which is written in the first person, but I don’t intend to simply avoid writing in third person just because I don’t have a firm grasp on it. I’ve been working at it, and am coming to more deeply appreciate all the different styles that are available to writers. As frustrating as it’s been, I guess sometimes you just need to learn to see things from a different point of view…


I discovered the books of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro just a few months ago, and have become a great fan of her work. I became acquainted with her through a friend of mine, and I was eager to get an interview with her. Chelsea Quinn Yarbro is a kind, fascinating, and very talented writer. She’s been writing for 44 years, and has penned everything from science fiction, to horror, to westerns, to non-fiction. She is presently the author of 87 published novels, and I am honored to have her. I’ve been reading her Saint-Germaine vampire series, and I strongly recommend it to anyone. However, I’ve found one negative side effect to reading the books of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: she serves as a great reminder to me of how far I have to go to get as good as she is.

Visit Chelsea Quinn Yarbro at: http://www.chelseaquinnyarbro.net/

Q: You have written so many historical novels. How and why do you choose to write about the eras you do?

A:  In the case of the Saint-Germain novels, I originally set the stories — with the exception of Tempting Fate, which takes place after the historical man was dead — in places the real man had claimed to have been, and expanded from there.  Over the years I’ve developed a chronology for Saint-Germain, Roger, Olivia, Niklos, and Madelaine as well as some notes on what happens to others from his colorful past:  Rowena Saxon in Writ in Blood shows up again in Midnight Harvest, for example. In the case of other historical novels, which includes my two westerns, I chose times that interested me for their ripple effect on their time, or events that so appalled me that I  wanted to explore how they happened.

Q: Which are your favorite historical time eras and why?

A:  This one, because it’s where I live.

Q: You’ve been quoted as saying, “History is horror.” Can you elaborate on that?

A:  Not all history is horrifying, but a lot of it is. I call the Saint-Germain Cycle historical horror novels (and have from the first, meaning from Hotel Transylvania on; the sentimentalized “novel of forbidden love” was the publisher’s idea, which is why I cross it out in every copy I sign) because what people do to people tends to be more barbaric than anything a vampire could do.  Go ahead: compare, say, Stalin with one vampire, or a dozen of them.  Who is the more inhumane?

Q: Of the novels you’ve written, which ones were the most difficult to write, and how did you get through them?

A: Since I’m a character-driven writer, once the characters “come alive” the only way to shut them up is to finish the story; otherwise they linger.  I have two large portions-and-outlines that haven’t sold yet sitting in my head, and I would like to find them a home so they can retire from my thoughts.  It’s my general experience that stories drive themselves once the characters become “real”.  Any book worth its salt is difficult to write — that’s part of the deal.  Some are harder than others, but if they’re easy, the writer is cheating not only the reader, but him/herself as a story-teller.  For me, westerns are fun, but not easy.

Q: How important  do you think historical accuracy is when writing a novel set in a different time era?

A: It depends on the book.  In general I’m a stickler for historical accuracy, but I have done alternate history, like Ariosto, which I find challenging and engaging.

Q: How do you feel about narrative non-fiction?

A: It depends on how well it’s done, and unfortunately much of it is filled with sloppy writing.  When it’s done well, it’s quite intriguing.

Q: How many Saint-Germaine novels are there, and which are your favorites?

A:  There are 24 novels, including the one I just turned in, and 2 collections of shorter fiction.  My favorite book at any time is always my next one.  Collaborations are a bit different, but even they have charm for me.

Q: What do you hope readers come away with from reading your Saint-Germaine novels?

A: The satisfaction of money well-spent.  Anything beyond that is extra.

Q: What is the one thing you think most readers would be surprised to know about the Saint-Germaine novels?

A:  Probably that most of them were written in less than six months, some in less than four months.

Q: What do you think is the most fascinating or peculiar thing about life as a writer?

A:  Making sense of royalty reports.

Q: I’ve read that you have written over eighty novels, and that you release three to four books per year. How do you remain so prolific? And how many hours of writing do you do in the course of an average week?

A:  At present 87 books — novels, collections, non-fiction — and over 80 shorter works are listed on my bibliography; in my 44 years of professional writing, I’ve had five books completed canceled before publication, six completed novels that never sold — or haven’t sold yet — a couple of for-hire ventures that fell apart after my work had been done, and two books that vanished in a puff of smoke when the acquisitions editor left the acquiring publisher.  However my end of publication happens, it happens, I’m glad it does.  My average day goes like this:  up between 7 and 7:30, feed the cats, answer email and such, take a hot bath to get my arthritic joints moving (I’ve had arthritic knees since my 20s), then do writing until 12 or 1, when I stop for lunch, the main meal of my day.  Then I take an hour or so for chores such as shipping, shopping, watering the garden, and get back to work between 3 and 4, break at 5 for the news, come back to the machine either around 7 or 9, depending what’s on tv.  Toward the end of a book, I may go back to work at 10 or 11 and work until 1 or so, and then I get up an hour later than usual.  Sunday I visit friends in the South Bay, and I allow myself one half-day a week.  A couple times a year I have house-guests, and play tourist with my visitors.  I have lunch out a couple of times a month.  There are days when Crumpet, Butterscotch, and Ekaterina the Great, Empress of all the Russias demand more of my time than they usually do, but that’s pretty much it.

Q: Who are your own favorite writers and what are some of your favorite books?

A:  Shakespeare, all else is changeable.

Q: What are some things in a novel that bother you and will cause you to put it down?

A:  Poor grammar and syntax in narration will do it every time.  Dialogue can be a linguistic mess and that doesn’t bother me, but if I have to stop to parse a sentence or deal with a misused word, I am no longer “in” the story, and I quickly lose interest in it.  Obvious story lines and motivation based on stupidity can also turn me off.

Q: What are some things that make it impossible for you to put a book down?

A:  A friend wrote it, it’s not a genre I’m working in at the time and it’s well done, the characters are compelling, it has an unusual perspective or a narrative point-of-view that opens a lot of doors.  Style can also catch my attention. if the storytelling is solid.

Q: Do you outline your novels, or does the plot come to you as you write it?

A:  Yes, I outline, though I often wind up getting rerouted through the story line by the characters on my way to the end.  If the characters and the book isn’t mostly set in my mind, I can’t write it, but once the basic form is there, and the characters are established, I’m ready to go.

Q: Did you have any false illusions when you began life as a novelist, and if so, how have these evolving understandings changed your approach to your craft and the business of writing?

A: All illusions are false by definition.  When I began, I had a pretty good idea of what I was getting into.  Of course my understanding has been evolving, as has every writer’s:  publishing has been evolving, and at the moment more rapidly than in past decades, which certainly changed the business end of writing.  For one thing, advances are down sharply and print-runs are smaller.  Then there’s the whole matter of e-publishing, and who knows how that’s going to shake out.  At least for now, it is reviving the back-list so that mid-list writers like me are not compelled to live in garages or in spare rooms.  For now there is cause for encouragement, which is a nice change.

Q: What makes you laugh?

A: Mark Twain’s essay on “The Awful German Language” is sure to make me laugh.  My three cats.  The rest is timing and my state of mind.


When I first met Lori L. Clark, I was immediately struck by her quick wit and awesome sense of humor. Lori is fun, optimistic, and genuinely kind. Having had the pleasure of reading her novel, Tyler Falls, (which you can find on Amazon) I can also say she’s a skilled writer with a knack for damned good storytelling.

When I began doing author interviews on this blog, I did it with a mission in mind: to heighten the awareness of the works written by the author’s I admire. Lori Clark was one of the first people I wanted to ask. As someone who has been on both sides of the publishing spectrum (self-publishing and traditional publishing), I thought she’d give a pretty interesting interview. I was right. Oh… and by the way, I did get her number… 😉

You can find her books on Amazon.com. Also be sure to check her out at: http://www.clarklori.com/ and: http://justbookinaround.blogspot.com/ and: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Just-Bookin-Around/212483995430964

                                

Q: How many completed novels do you have?

A: I have 3 completed, and one WIP.

Beauty’s Beholder (YA contemporary)

Between the Moon & Shine (MG fantasy)

and Tyler Falls (YA contemporary)

Q: You have recently been accepted for publication by a traditional publishing press. What is that like?

A: I have to be honest here, although I’m thrilled that Between the Moon & Shine has been picked up by a local publisher, it’s not as exciting as getting a call from an agent who has an offer of representation must be. I think every author dreams of having several agents “fight” over your manuscript and then having it go on to receive a 6+ figure deal. I think once the book actually hits the stores, then the reality of it will sink in for real.

Q: What is the basic storyline of this novel?

A: This is (somewhat) the query letter I used:

Fourteen-year-old Bobbi Flowers wishes on a falling star for a summer to remember. Rescuing her twin brother from Trogs and meeting a sixteen-year-old boy who claims he’s over half a century old isn’t what she has in mind.

When her brother is kidnapped one night, Bobbi sets out to find him. Armed with her Louisville Slugger (to wallop those creepy Trogs into the next county) and ajar of peanut butter (in case she gets hungry), her search leads her through a portal in the woods to The Over there — and Michael. Michael’s sixteen going on sixty and wants nothing to do with an outsider. When Bobbi saves his little brother’s life, Michael reluctantly agrees to help her. It becomes a race against time when Michael tells her that each night she spends in The Over there might mean years — if not decades — will pass before she returns home. Staying fourteen forever doesn’t sound like much fun and going home decades in the future doesn’t either.

Q: When are you expecting the book to be released?

A: I have no idea how long it takes these things to come out! Summer of 2014.

Q: Having traveled down both paths, what are the major differences, in your experience, between self-publishing and traditional publishing?

A: Traditional publishing takes so much longer for the book to come out. Self-publishing is much faster. I’ve always been a bit of a self-published book snob. Assuming someone who was unable to get an agent or publisher to take on their work must not be a very good writer. I don’t believe that anymore. I’ve read a huge number of self-published and e-published books lately that are surprisingly very good. I believe there is still an unfair negative attitude toward self-published authors and/or books though.

Q: What is your usual writing process?

A: I get a seed of an idea and then I rough out some of the characters and details in a notebook by hand. Other than these details and minimal outlining, I tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants style writer. I know some authors painstakingly map out practically the whole book. I am not one of those authors. As close as I come to that is writing in my notebook what I want to have happen in the next few chapters with a few sentences for each chapter.

Q: What inspires you?

A: Books, the success stories of other writers, song lyrics and dreams.

Q: What are some of the books you love?

A: I am a huge fan of YA. Especially contemporary. The Hate List by Jennifer Brown, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, anything by Ilsa J. Bick and Don’t Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala. The list goes on and on.

Q: Do you have a muse?

A: If you promise not to tell anyone… the voices inside my head tell me what to write. It’s more like each main character from my books takes on a life of their own inside my mind and “they” tell me what to write. Is it any wonder so many writers/authors also have had mental issues?

Q: What are you currently working on?

A: A YA contemporary with the working title of Breaker. It’s about an overweight girl with a beautiful voice who can’t get people to take her seriously due to her appearance.

Q: Aside from writing, what do you love?

A: Reading and running are two big time fillers for me. I love going to concerts and my Miniature Pinscher — Barkley.

Q: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

A: Getting the initial spark for an idea is a lot of fun and the excitement that comes with putting pen to paper. After that, seeing “THE END” is pretty awesome too.

Q: What is your ultimate goal in writing?

A: I could say to become rich like JK Rowling or have one (or more) of my books become a household name like “Fifty Shades of Grey” or as wildly popular as the Hunger Games trilogy.

Q: When and why did you decide to become a writer?

A: I’ve always enjoyed writing, and found it easier to express myself through the written word, but I didn’t get serious about it until a few years ago when I moved, which is sort of ironic considering I was born in Iowa City, IA and lived within a few miles of there all my life prior to 2007. Every writer knows why that’s ironic and what Iowa City is famous for.

Q: Who is your greatest supporter?

A: My mom is proud that I’ve finally taken up something she approves of. I also have a good friend in North Carolina who reads everything I write and gives me moral support and suggestions.

Q: Since you began writing novels, what have you learned about yourself?

A: I have a pretty creative imagination and I’m even more impatient than I thought I was.

Q: In your opinion, what main qualities should a book have in order to be damned good?

A: A likeable and interesting main character. Someone people can identify with or empathize with. Unpredictability and pacing that doesn’t make me fall asleep. One of my biggest pet peeves is for an author to name their character something I don’t know how to pronounce. If I can’t pronounce his or her name I stumble over it every time it’s written in the book.

Q: Who do you most hope will really love your upcoming novel?

A: Everyone who reads it. I’m so sensitive, I’m sure the first bad reviews I read are going to crush me.

Q: Do you have any particular marketing plans for this novel?

A: I think it’s important to have an online platform in place. I have an author’s page, a book review blog, a twitter account, etc. I plan to do a lot of word of mouth online promoting. I also would love to spend time at the local indie book stores.

Q: When your novel is released, I’d love to get you in for a book signing. Sound good?

A: I would love that!

Q: You’re pretty cute. Can I have your number?

A: Ha! If I were younger I would have already been your number 1 stalker. See me hiding behind those parked cars over there? 🙂


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.


    

     I like to kill people and as of this moment, I have killed eleven of them. Not real ones of course, but fictional ones. I don’t know that I would enjoy murdering a real person. I don’t think I would be very good at it for one thing, and for another, it just seems too messy… but give me paper, a pen and a storyline, and it’s all I can do to let anyone get off of the page alive.

     I don’t know what it says about my psyche, that I so enjoy murdering make-believe people. Believe it or not, I don’t have any unusual fixations with death or violence, but it would be interesting to see what a psychologist might say about it. My best personal guess is that it derives from a childhood spent watching horror movies and reading gory books. Then again, I have to wonder what drew me to that kind of story in the first place~ so it becomes a kind of what came first, The chicken or the egg? ordeal. I don’t know the answer to that, and for the most part, I’ve given up trying to figure it out, but sometimes, something makes you stop and wonder why you are the way you are.

     I was at a writing event with my friend Joe a few weeks ago, and as we introduced ourselves, we were asked, “So, what do you write?” Joe’s answer was quick and confident, but when I was asked the same question, I hesitated. “Ummm… horror, I guess,” was my answer. This awarded me some chuckles and some confused looks. “I don’t ever set out to write horror,” I said, explaining myself, “but that’s just the direction it always seems to go.” They nodded their heads in understanding and I realized I was among others who understood the strange phenomenon of fiction writing; that I was home so to speak, and it made me wonder how much of what we write is a conscious decision and how much of it just is what it is.

Although I knew that the project I am currently working on with Kim Williams-Justesen was going to be horror from the beginning, I still didn’t expect it to be quite so gruesome. And as for the one I wrote before it, I had no intention of it going so dark. It will be interesting to see what shape my next project takes on as I don’t see any way it could possibly fall under the horror genre. Still, I somehow get the feeling that a little bit of that will creep into the story, with or without my consent. The question then is, do I allow nature to run its course, or do I steer the story in a milder direction? Is horror just a part of my writing voice that I need to accept, or is it  something I need to learn to control? And is that even possible? Again, I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I will soon find out.

     In the meantime, I’m having a hell of a good time shedding fictitious blood by the bucketfuls and will be sad when my current project, where murder and violence are expected, is finished.  To me, there is true art in (fictional) murder, and everything from the shower scene in Psycho to the contemporary and far more complex murders in the Saw movies, make it clear to me that I am not the only one who feels this way.

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And P.S. ~ The beast has been unleashed.

Beautiful Monster is now available in eBook and paperback editions at Damnation Books: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615727742
Amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Beautiful-Monster-ebook/dp/B00948Q0DK/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1347132178&sr=8-2&keywords=Beautiful+Monster+Jared
and Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/beautiful-monster-mimi-a-williams/1112783047?ean=9781615727759


    

     Life is incredibly short.  The saddest part about this is that we spend so much of what little time we have wondering how to spend it, and once we do figure out how we want to spend it, we are met with resistance, negativity and that two-letter word we all hate most of all: No. After so much of this, we just want to throw our hands in the air and go back to our places in line, accepting the grind as our lots in life and carrying on, moment to moment, day after day, playing it safe and making sure not to rock the boat of monotony.   This might work for a while, but eventually, those notions of something greater, something more meaningful, will catch up to us, tackle us, and pin us to the ground, demanding we heed our own instincts that we’re capable of more.  When we’ve reach that point in life where we’ve put fear in its place and thickened our skins enough to take the punches, there are a few things we can do to counter-balance the effects of the coming obstacles and impediments in order to keep our spirits and our passions in check.  At the forefront of that list, in my opinion, is to have a support network. 

     Whether you’re a writer, a college graduate, a stay-at-home mom, or a poodle groomer, you don’t have time to divulge in anyone else’s version of reality, unless it supports your own success unequivocally.  The fact is, no one but you knows those core truths about you that, if listened to and acted upon, will carry you to your root allocation in life.  We’ve all been out of our elements.  We’ve all taken jobs that simply paid the bills, we’ve all catered to the fear of failure and we’ve all fallen into the designs of someone else’s masterpiece.  It isn’t a good place to be.  We struggle, we fight, we get by… and we don’t even know what for; and all the while we try to ignore the fact that we simply don’t have time for that; that sadly, life comes… and then it goes.

     I’ve reached a point in my own life where, if someone dared to tell me I couldn’t do a thing, I would smile, nod and walk as far away from them as my feet would take me.  My own mother wouldn’t be afforded the luxury of discouraging me, so one can imagine how I might feel about even the gentlest of promptings from a stranger, a friend of a friend, or a stagnant and embittered second cousin through marriage.  If I let these people affect me, I will be discouraged and impotent,  and, as far as I’m concerned, if I let these people make my decisions, I have no right to occupy my own body. 

     So I surround myself with people who have dreams of their own and who believe in mine.  I don’t view this as a simple choice so much as a strategy move essential for survival.  Whatever paths we choose to execute in life, we will be met with enough interference, restraint and discouragement.  It’s just not lucrative to allow it into your immediate personal space.  Your social life should be reserved for those who foster your goals, stimulate your drive and help cultivate your personal empowerment.  In his book, The Master Key to Riches, Napoleon Hill refers to this as the “Mastermind Alliance.”  While I am not typically a fan of self-help or motivational literature, I think he was definitely on the right track with that one, and I recommend the book to anyone.

     If you’re walking, talking and breathing, you have passion.  Even if you have to look for it a little, it’s there.  And passion without purpose and precision is just white noise.  Part of who and what you surround yourself with is part of that precision, so I’ve come to believe in the value of choosing wisely my immediate environment.  I’m standing in a foreign place in my life right now.  Not just in my writing but in everything else as well.  I am at a precipice, looking over the edge at everything I know, just daring the wind to blow a little and knock me off my feet.  But everything I feared is twice removed.  There are a million reasons I can’t succeed and yet all I can think about is the one reason I can: because I want it that damned bad.  Now, more than ever, I’m glad I have nothing around me except the highest caliber of believers, and I’m grateful that, as depressing as it is, I realize how little time there is.

     There isn’t time to listen to anyone else tell you what you should do.  All you need to know is that fish belong in water, painters belong on canvas and writers belong on paper.  It’s just a matter of finding out who you are… your station in life will follow.  Time is precious.  So, if you’re going to stop and smell the roses, first be sure you’re not standing in someone else’s garden.