writing process

Whack It

"Whack" means "to prune."

Writing Wednesday

I plan to dedicate a blog about writing on Wednesdays from now on, as much as possible. If you've been following curlylarryandme, you know that I'm a writer with some success and lots of failures. I have written more about rejections than anything else, because I'm an expert on being rejected, as is nearly every other writer regardless of publishing credits, or not.

Usually, when I query a literary agent I think would be a good match for me, they explain on their website, that they are busybusybusy people, and a bit self-important, too. Most of them have a tone of condescension, too. They say they receive 5,342 queries every day of their busybusybusy lives, and because of their level of busy-ness, they may not be able to tell you that you stink for a month or two. Or not at all. The "or not at all" attitudes are especially annoying. In other words, they are so busybusybusy they don't have time for good manners, common decency, or simple professionalism. 

So, when I sent off a query letter and a few sample pages to an agent who seemed to be a good match, I was a bit surprised to receive a polite, professional, and kind rejection email in, get this, 18 HOURS! Was my letter so terrible that the poor woman threw up and hit the REJECT AUTOMATIC REPLY that fast? I could not believe it. A first in decades of rejection letters. 18 HOURS!

When I told my astute Book Concierge, Rowe Carenen, she said not to worry, that the busybusybusy agent's "In Box" was probably full, triggering the response, and she probably never even saw the query letter and sample pages. That made sense. I tried again with another agent at the agency. That was a little over two weeks ago. No rejection. Yet. Maybe she's reading what I wrote. Maybe she'll be impressed. Maybe she won't. Might be too busybusybusy. I'll let you know when, and if, I hear from her.

In the meantime, keep writing!

A Writer's Wednesday

In my previous offering, I wrote about what it's like, a little, as a full time writer. I also alluded to the fact that I was about to write the final chapter of my most recent novel, which would have been Chapter 35. Guess what? Well, I did finish the novel last night, but it was Chapter 37. Things happened that I didn't expect, including a blizzard and a puppy and a couple of scenes in a pub. If you're a writer, you know how that happens. If you're not, let me try to explain. People say, "How in the world can something can happen in a story you, the author, are writing, and how can you be surprised? Aren't you in charge? This doesn't make any sense!"

They're right and wrong. Yes, I am the writer and I am in charge, and responsible for, what I write. But no, I'm not surprised when something happens I didn't plan on happening. How does that happen? Well, if I'm writing regularly, and I'm talking about several pages or even a full chapter, then the story sort of writes itself, in a sense because the story is happening inside my head, and things can intrude - scenes, dialogue, action - that I didn't plan. I do not outline. I do not write the last chapter first. I don't even know how the novel is going to wind up when I start. In this case, I did know that there would be redemption at the end, but that was it. How was that going to happen? Don't ask me. I can't answer the question.

So, how does it feel to have finished? It's good and bad. It's good because I've accomplished what I set out to do. It's bad because it's over, the relationships I have with the characters and the story. What's next? I'll set it aside for a while, several weeks maybe (Stephen King sets his aside for three months), but I'll still be thinking what I'm going to do to make it better. I'll get ideas, I'll jot notes, I'll answer questions that should have been answered in the book (why does that guy bite people instead of say hello?) and so forth.

In the meantime, I am going back to Of Mists And Murders, #4 in the Thomas O'Shea series set in fictitious Rockbluff, Iowa, which is what I was working on when the idea for this other novel shoved its way into my schedule. In other words, when I finish writing something, I write something else. Grand, isn't it?

I'm afflicted

One of my goals this Spring Break was to finish the first draft of novel #3 in the Thomas O'Shea series. Just a few chapters, going back a bit and making minor revisions, forging ahead. Well, I did it. I finished the final chapter, Chapter 30. I tried to avoid finishing it, to be honest. I have what the great James Lee Burke calls "corrosive self-doubt," which is an affliction all writers suffer.  I dawdled. I dallied. I thought of other things I could do besides finish that last, short, chapter. I played "monster" with my dog, chasing her around the cottage, a game she loves. I got on Facebook for a while. I read up on the Hawkeyes, the Red Sox, political scandals. I went back to my computer.   I finished, immediately followed by a sense of satisfaction, a sense of imminent doom, a bit of sadness that it was over. But I finished. Next step? Well, I mean to put it away until May, and then I'll go full bore making revisions, some major, most minor. I have to get all the names straight, the timelines accurate, the details nailed down, maybe more research to review, the loose ends tied up. But I love that part of being a writer as well.   Next step after that? Off to my publisher and start to write again.   Being a writer is an affliction, but it is a delightful one, especially when a work is finished. And I did that. Now I can spend my valuable time watching March Madness. Of course, there's some writing I need to do.

The beat goes on.

My Writing Process

This week, I'm participating in a blog tour for writers.  Each writer answers four questions about their writing and tags a few more authors to do the same next week.  I'd like to thank Barbara V. Evers of  http://aneclecticmuse.blogspot.com who tagged me for this week.  Barbara writes epic fantasy and I can't wait get my hands on a copy of The Watchers of Moniah.

Now, on to the questions!

What am I working on?  
Right now I'm working on the third book in the Thomas O'Shea series. Book one, Signs of Struggle, was a success, and book two, A Far Gone Night is coming out on September 9th. I'm eight chapters into book three and looking forward to completing a first draft by the summer's end. I'm also trying to be faithful to my blog, "CurlyLarryandMe."
How does my book differ from others of its genre? 
Good question, because my books don't really fit any specific genre. They're just stories with the same protagonist and supporting cast of characters with weird names (Lunatic Mooning, Bunza Steele, Harmon Payne) in an obscure setting - a small town in northeastern Iowa. My books are different in that the protagonist is not a P.I., a retired cop, or any other standard protagonist. He's just a middle-aged guy who's lost his wife and two daughters in an automobile accident a couple years back and is trying to work out his approach to God, alcohol, violence, and relationships with the opposite sex while maintaining a kind of "tough guy" code.
Why do I write what I do? 
It all started with the Stephen King approach of, "What if?" I then thought about what would be the worst thing that could happen to me, and that would be losing my family in an automobile accident. What would I do? So I took that idea and applied it to Thomas O'Shea and came up with Signs of Struggle. To me, the story is everything, and writing from a first person point of view makes the story more intimate.
How does my writing process work? 
Of course, I'm always writing in my head and making notes here and there, but I'm pretty disciplined, writing when I can during the school year (I'm an English prof) and, when summer comes, sitting down from 8-12 and working. It's fun, especially in the summer because I know I'll have the time to really dig in and let 'er fly. I also have more time to do research, which I enjoy. I try to write a first draft in the summer (keeping in mind Hemingway's observation that all first drafts are "vomit") and then polish and shape after that during the year. Also, we host at our cottage, twice a month, an eclectic group of writers in a group we call "The Write Minds" which is useful for critique, suggestions, and insights. They're a little crazy, but talented and astute. They find my blind spots. That's about it on process.
Make sure to follow the tour next week (June 30) with the following authors:
Warren Moore
Image Dr. Moore received his B.A. in English from Excelsior College, his M.A. in English from the University of Kentucky, and his Ph.D. in British, American and World Literature from Ball State University. His Ph.D. work focused on representations of evil in literature, with particular attention to medieval literature, and a dissertation on the Seven Deadly Sins in pre-Shakespearean English drama. He was named Newberry’s Professor of the Year in 2006 by the College’s Student Government Association, and was named a South Carolina Governor’s Distinguished Professor in 2008.

Prior to joining the faculty at Newberry College in 2003, Dr. Moore worked in jobs ranging from magazine editor and freelance journalist to stand-up comic. He is a regular contributor to the New Chaucer Society’s annual bibliography, and to The American Culture, an online magazine. Moore's first novel, Broken Glass Waltzes, was published by Snubnose Press in 2013.

Blog: http://profmondo.wordpress.com
E-mail: prof.mondo.blog@gmail.com
Twitter: @profmondo

Dave Newell



Dave Newell was born and raised in the Midlands of South Carolina. After graduating in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in Broadcast Journalism, he moved to Greenville, South Carolina where he currently lives with his family.

Red Lory his first novel, was published in 2013 and the film version is currently in production.