Saturday, June 28, 2014

The End

Nearly ten years ago, I sat down at my computer and started writing. I'd been dumped unceremoniously by a long-distance girlfriend who simply chose to stop answering the phone, rather than telling me it was over. I wrote about it because I didn't know what else to do. That's what I do, I write.

Sort of. A few months later, a second girlfriend broke up with me, and I had abandoned writing to be with her. In fact, I genuinely believed I was going to be a musician for the rest of my life. That breakup, in retrospect, showed me some terrifying facts about myself. I WANTED to be "that guy" who harasses and stalks an ex until she agrees to get back together with him. I DIDN'T do that, mostly because my parents raised me to not me a jerk. But co-dependence was close at hand, and by the Grace of God (and, yes, I mean the literally) I got my life turned around. I didn't because a loser, a predator, or even a selfish jerk.

Okay, I've had fits of arrogance and selfishness, but those have never led me to target other people. In fact, I use those opportunities to reevaluate myself and see how I can become a better person. For the sake of the people around me as much as for myself.

After a few years, I finished writing my first book. Actually wrote it, edited it, sent it to beta readers, then reedited it and revised it and so on until it was as good as I could make it. Then I started querying for the first time in my life, transforming this blog from a personal journal into an attempt at building an audience and sharing my thoughts on writing.

Meanwhile, I wrote another book. By the time I got done with THAT book, I realized (after about 80 rejections) the book I'd been querying REALLY sucked. So I threw it out, got beta readers to go through that second book (which was actually my fourth), revised, edited, revised again, and then WENT TO A CONFERENCE. I pitched it at the conference, queried agents, did more querying, etc. 70ish rejections later and one full request from an editor/founder of a small press, I realized THAT book sucked. And, no, I didn't send the book in to the editor. She wanted it as a middle grade novel which would have taken such a major rewrite that, in it's unpublishable state as a YA novel, would've been like trying to crop faded, washed-out wedding photos with pruning shears to make them "beautiful."

Take 3. I wrote another novel, still YA, but instead of fantasy (or urban fantasy), I switched to Sci-Fi. Actually, back up a bit to The Senator's Daughter (in the tab above this post). I was gaining readers on this blog. I wanted to write fiction for them to read. Something this blog could display. And my critique group told me to turn it into a novel. I said, "No. It's a short story for my blog." But the thought nagged at me. So, that lead to Take 3. A novel about a young woman who accidentally steals a military battleship and has to fight pirates, invading aliens, and the boy who brought her on board to impress her on their first date.

I'm querying that novel as of this post and writing a new YA sci-fi. If you're reading this, chances are good that you Googled me. This blog comes up as one of the first hits. Which, after ten years, isn't as significant as it might once have been.

This blog, regardless of how much effort I put into it, never attracted much attention. From me or any other readers. And most of that is because I have a full-time job, a wife, and a writing career that I'm trying to jump-start. Every word I write on this blog is a word that COULD go into a book. I don't have time to wander from blog to blog, writing simple "I agree" comments in all the posts, and moving on from there in the hopes that they'll return the favor and comment on my blog. I've found that my opinions in the writing world generally conform to what the "industry insiders" are saying. So commenting (adding NOTHING of value to the conversation) seems like a waste of time, especially when I have so little time to actually write.

With Denver Comic Con 2014 behind us, Beyond the Trope is moving forward with momentum we couldn't have imagined. We're lining up new interviews, putting together awesome content, and collaborating on projects that will help all three of us put together a platform. Which isn't what the podcast is about, but it's a (hopefully) convenient side-effect.

What does all this have to do with the title of this post? My aspirations are as high as ever. But this blog is dragging me down. I feel guilty when I don't blog, and when I do, I have nothing to say. I've changed in the last decade. So has the internet. My blog is one of MILLIONS. I'm screaming into the storm, and I have nothing left to say. Not here. Not in this format. That's what books are for. I'm not done blogging. I'll still be at the Beyond the Trope blog every Wednesday. In the future, I'll put together another blog, I'm sure. When I have an agent, a writing contract. Something to say and people who want me to say it.

I'm done pretending that someone is going to drift by, read this blog, and ask me for samples of my writing. If I'm doing my job with my novel and my query letter, that'll be enough. I'm not controversial, notable, or engaged in every minute of every blog post on every writing topic in the universe. So my writing has to speak for itself.

Random posts may appear now and then when the whim takes over, but don't count on it. This blog is, probably, dead. And this post is the epitaph. Beyond the Trope is my future, and writing novels. I wouldn't be where I am without this blog, but holding on would be an exercise in futility.

Thank you for stopping by. Feel free to read the archives, post a comment if you want me to get your message (I WILL respond!), and read The Senator's Daughter.

The End.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Querying for this project is so different from the last projects I queried. As I've said before, I'm taking my time. I'm reviewing the market, and I'm keeping an eye on the responses I get. If a query letter gets form rejections too often in a row, I rewrite it. If a partial gets form rejections, I consider ways to improve it.

I'm going to classes, strengthening my craft, and going out of my way to make sure I do this right. Which isn't easy. I'm passionate about writing and reading. I want my books to get published, and for personal reasons, I want that to happen the traditional way.

I've gone through bouts of "desperation," where I'm obsessed with getting published NOW! That drove me crazy. I don't want to be lazy with my work, and I WANT this work to be my full-time gig. Despite how quickly I WANT this to happen, I refuse to take shortcuts.

So I took two months off from querying. To reexamine my work, my query, and my direction.

But more importantly than that, I'm also writing again. With excitement and purpose! I am energized, ready to move forward, and back in the saddle.

With everything that happened this weekend with Beyond the Trope, I'm actually surprised that I got so much work done on personal projects, too. With Denver Comic Con at a close, I'm excited for the future. I met people who inspired me. I interviewed people who work hard and encouraged me to step up my game. Opportunities may arise out of the weekend, but more importantly, I grew as a person.

What did you do this last weekend, and how are you moving forward with your career?

Friday, June 06, 2014

Charity of the Month: Wounded Warrior Project

In honor of D-Day, I want to take this month to remember everyone who braved the beaches in Normandy.

So many soldiers have fought and died for our country, and many who survived need our help. Wounded Warrior Project is dedicated to helping those vets. Along with so many other great charities.

Please hop over to the Wounded Warrior website and give them some help so we can help those who gave so much for our freedom.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Odd Turn

My current WiP took an odd turn for me. I reached a point, after having outlined, where I don't think there's enough substance to the story. For those of you who know me, outlining is something I do to extremes. It helps me get a handle on what I'm doing with the story, reminds me where character development and emotional insight need to show up, and then I can move forward with a roadmap that will get me from point A to point B without getting lost.

Well, turns out that if I keep going at the rate I've been traveling, point B will show up a good 15k-25k earlier than it should. There's simply not enough in the outline to count as story. There are events, and there are characters who need to deal with those events. But the two things combined seem to be moving too quickly.

In his book ON WRITING, Stephen King mentions the concept of writing a first draft all the way through as quickly as possible, without taking breaks or working on another project. This way, the characters don't grow stale, and the excitement and ideas stay fresh in the mind of the writer.

Well, for whatever reason, that happened with my WiP. At first, I thought this post was about how I needed to take a step back and reevaluate what this book was going to be about. Then, as the day wore on, I realized this post is about how how this isn't the right book for me. It's a lot like a relationship. I stayed in a relationship longer than I should have, and in the end, it turned into something broken and painful. I knew, about two months before it ended, that it NEEDED to end. That's the way this book is. It's not right. It's not what it should be if I'm going to dedicate my life to it (and presumably, I should be willing to dedicate my life to any project I commit my time to).

More than that, I only have a limited amount of time. Why should I spend it writing something that's less than my best? This isn't a matter of giving up because it's hard, or moving on because it's "beyond me." This is a simple case of "this book isn't going to go anywhere, and trying to make it happen would be a painful waste of time that could send me into oblivion." Not to be dramatic, or anything, but that's a possibility.

I'm not a quitter. But I'm not excited about this book. I'm just not. I want to write something fun. Something that gets my engine revving. A book that I can take to parties and say, "That's MINE! This arm-candy is the second-best thing to happen to me."

For me, reading is fun. Harry Potter, The Dresden Files, The Parasol Protectorate: these are all fun. They inspire me to write. The book I'm querying is fun. I loved writing it, I still like reading it, and the idea of possibly writing a sequel is exciting to me.

I'm not going to write a book because I "have" to. Life is too short. I'm going to write a book that I WANT to write. And that's that.