Sunday, May 31, 2009

Jenny Wade

In my book, On the Edge of Someplace Else, one of the three recurring voices is that of Jenny Wade, the 17 year-old girl whose rape sets the town on edge and is the catalyst for the events that follow. I've lived with this character for years now. She's been the focal point of the book, the nucleus around which all the other characters exist. If it weren't for her story, her rape, I wouldn't be in this town reporting on their actions. For the longest time, the title of the book was: I Love You, Jenny Wade. Can't get more Jenny Wade-centric than that.

So, my partner and I are bored last night, but don't want to go through the rigmarole of actually getting dressed and going out to a movie (something we rarely do anymore now that we're crotchety old gays, who can't stand the way people act in movie theatres these days, which is possibly another post in and of itself) and decide to watch a movie-on-demand. We settle on Feast, a horror flick about the patrons of a bar in the deserts of Texas who are set upon by a clan of monsters out to eat them. It's a fun movie: lots of humor, lots of blood and gore (though so over-the-top that you quickly become desensitized, much like with Tarrentino's Kill Bill movies), decent acting by a decent cast. I'd recommend if you're into those types of movies.

Now, the reason for this post is the actress who played Honey Pie in this movie, a good little actress by the name of Jenny Wade. I'll be honest, when I saw that name come up on screen, it threw me for a loop. After all these years (I've been working on my book periodically for over 7 years, diligently for the past 3), to see her name, my character's name somewhere other than my mind or my manuscript was strange, interesting, exciting, and any number of other emotions, but mainly exciting.

Now, Jenny Wade, the actress, doesn't look anything like Jenny Wade, the fictitious character. Jenny Wade, the actress, is blond and sexy (at least in Feast), where Jenny Wade, the fictitious character, has medium-brown, straight hair and, while not mousy, is somewhat reserved in her interactions with others. To be honest, Jenny Wade, the fictitious character, looks like my sister, Beverly, circa 1976 (though not based on my sister in any other way). So, the fact that I've seen this live-version Jenny Wade, though she hasn't imposed on my personal image of my character, there is still something odd and, maybe, disturbing about her walking around out there in the world.

When my book is a resounding success, maybe I'll get a chance to meet Jenny Wade. Maybe I'll be able to sit down with her and talk to her (any writer's dream and nightmare all in one). Would I be able to seperate the two? I doubt it. I'm sure I'll have the urge to take Jenny Wade in my arms and tell her everything is going to be all right. Tell her she's fine. She's not that 17 year-old girl anymore. She's strong and free now. All of which will certainly freak out Jenny Wade, the actress, and, possibly, cause her to press charges for assault, but if not, then most definitely take out a restraining order against me. Then I'll be that crazed author on TMZ and the gossip blogs, which will either help the sales of book or tank my career for ever.

On second thought, maybe it would be best if I never meet Jenny Wade.


Jenny Wade:

Saturday, May 30, 2009

My Query

Okay, I realized that I probably should post my query, which, if you don't know, is the pitch an author creates for his/her book that's supposed to whet the appetite of the agent/editor to the point that they simply MUST read the novel!! So, here it is:

Dear Agent,

During the dogged-heat of July, the small farming community of Ashmoore, Oklahoma is as it always is: slowly moving through the long hot days of summer. At least until news that 17-year-old Jenny Wade has been attacked shudders through the town.

Initially, the people of Ashmoore band together, determined to find the “monster” who has done this to “one of their own;” but with no immediate arrests, the gossip mills soon begin to grind the story into pulp, churning with speculation, distrust and doubt, ultimately aimed at Jenny Wade herself.

After hearing the news and gossip, 13-year-old Brian Thompson turns to Mr. Barnes, his former sixth-grade teacher and emerging surrogate father figure, who preys upon Brian's growing sexual confusion, pulling him into a relationship that crosses all lines, and also adds grist to the ever-grinding gossip mills.

In the shadow of gossip and rumor, an unlikely friendship develops between Jenny and Brian—a friendship of outcasts, that is all too soon marked for destruction by a town seeking to reclaim its, once safe but now fragile, existence.

On the Edge of Someplace Else is a 68,200-word work of literary fiction. While predominantly revolving around the three central characters of Jenny, Brian and Mr. Barnes, the story is also revealed through the eyes of various residents of Ashmoore, as the novel is ultimately about the town and its desperate acts to save the idea of itself.

Originally from Oklahoma myself, I have been in the New York area for the past 8 years, the past 4 spent at NYU pursuing my BA in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Creative Writing. Previously, I have been published in Dovetails Literary Magazine. On the Edge of Someplace Else is my first novel.

I thank you for your time and consideration.

Best regards,

Jeffrey Richards

So, who wants to read more?!

Backspace Writer's Conference

Just got back from my first writer's conference here in NYC. Created and sponsored by the Backspace, an amazing online writer's community I was lucky enough to find a couple of months back, it was a great baptismal into the world of writer conferences. In addition to meeting some fellow writers, the conference drew a wealth of high-profile agents for their many panels, seminars, and workshops. Though I'm not sure how long Backspace has been up and running, it's been long enough to grab some great endorsements from these agents, who not only join in on the conferences, but often times join in the online forum discussions, as well as participating in online chat sessions. Simply a great place for a writer to be because of the support and honesty and generosity of all that participate in the site (from administrators to members).

Okay, now that I've tooted Backspace's horn (which I'll most likely do often on this blog), let's get to the conference itself. In this post I'll talk about day one with the other two days to follow. The first day was the most anticipated for me as it was their "Agent/Author" day, where we writers got to sit in a room with the agents and read them our queries (our pitch letters for our books) in the morning session and then the first two pages of our books in the afternoon session. From what I hear, many of these writer's conferences have "pitch session" set-ups, which can be daunting for author and agent alike, sort of a speed-dating set up where the author moves from agent to agent with only a short amount of time to "pitch" them their book. Well, Backspace devised a much more "friendly" and helpful version of this set-up by deeming it a workshop where the agents are there to critique the queries and the initial pages rather than just say "yes" or "no": much more helpful for all involved. What this set-up allowed was for the writers to get professional feedback and for the agents to help teach us how to create a proper query letter which will hopefully save them the task of having to slog through poorly written letters later on. Win-Win, I tell ya!!

Well, I've been querying since February 5, 2009, to date I have sent 48 letters out, gotten 18 rejections, 5 requests for partials (the first 50 pages) and 1 request for the full manuscript. Not horrible reaction but certainly not the instant recognition I was sure I would get (we writers are rather delusional for the most part, hence why we write). Therefore, I went into this first day of the conference will little confidence in my query letter, which I've revised more times than I can count in the past 4 months. Well, much to my surprise, I got an amazing response from the agents! From the morning session, 3 of the 6 agents who heard my query requested me to send them my work (2 partials and 1 full). Needless to say, I was over the moon. My query isn't bad at all, in fact, it's rather well written and constructed! Who knew?

A big sigh of relief and on to the second part of the day: the reading of the first 2 pages of the manuscript. Now, I've been writing and revising this manuscript literally for years, but quite a bit in the past 6 months. Actually, just a week ago I completely switched chapters 1 and 2, so the tweaking and all out revising has been going on up until the day before the conference. Again, the response was tremendous! Not only did all the agents say that the writing was very good and beautiful, 3 of the 6 agents (completely different agents from the morning session, by the way) also requested me to send them my work! So 6 out of 12 agents requested more material! Amazing response. More than I could have hoped for. I am beyond ecstatic, though I know it's just stepping stones, it's still amazing. A complete success for me and well worth the money I ponied up, which wasn't too cheap.

The next two days were the panels and seminars, which I'll leave for the next two posts. Until then, I'll be seeing you on cloud 9.


Premiere Post

Welcome to the blog. I'm a couple of years late but I've joined the blogging community. Woo and Hoo, for me! Basically, I'm setting this up as an personal outlet to get word out about my book, On the Edge of Someplace Else, for which I'm seeking an agent. What I'll be writing about is the process of hunting for and finding an agent (no easy task, let me assure you right off the bat) and then eventually through the publishing process. I'll also take time out to talk about things in the news, both literary and general, that strike my fancy, or, most likely, rankle my fancy (like most bloggers, I'm rather fancy-centric).

Well, I hope you all join me in my journey from obscure aspiring writer to full-fledged published author and enjoy the ride with me.