Saturday, November 13, 2010


Hot on the heels of the "moving on" post I thought I'd offer an update on my Works in Progress. While I haven't been as diligent in my writing as I would like, I have been working on multiple projects.

Is actually my 2nd novel (The Reclamation of Karel Benekov) which I've written about here before. I'm just over 67,000 words along with the last 1/4 of the book to go. I'm anticipating a final word count in the 90s. I have to admit that I'm not thrilled with the structure of the novel, too linear in progression, which slows down the pace dramatically, but this is still the first draft so there will not be any starting over until I have finished getting the "story" out at least. I'm hoping I can get the structure right more quickly than I did with the 1st novel, which took upwards of 6 or 7 completely different attempts before finding the one that truly told the story properly. I feel that I have a better handle on this book (experience does help) and a better understanding of the main character, so I should be able to hit it right sooner rather than later.

3rd novel (The Last Messiah). This is another book I'm working on, though not as diligently as the other one. The story actually came from my partner, Carlos. He wasn't too interested in my 1st book. Literary Fiction bores him, which is fine. I know it's not for everyone. He's very much into the paranormal writing genre as is the rest of the world, it seems. One night in bed he inform me that in order for me to actually sell books I need to write something more interesting and, yes, trendy. He proceeded to tell me his idea of the coming of the "Last Messiah." While paranormal writing isn't quite the type of book I like the story intrigued me enough for me to start tinkering with it. I have a "thing" about religion, a fascination that borders on obsession and I thought: "what the hell, give it a shot." I'm only about 11,000 words into (it requires quite a bit of research into religion and how to write police procedurals (oh, it starts out as your run of the mill police procedural and then turns paranormal)) but I actually like it very much and it's a nice change of pace from when I get bored with writing the other book.

Stage Play (Pinched). Quite a few years ago, I read a non-fiction book entitled Sex-Crime Panic: A Journey to the Paranoid Heart of the 1950s by Neil Miller, which told of a post-child murder panic that took hold of parts of Iowa back in the 1950s. As the police couldn't find the actual murderer, or murderers, of two children, they sought to appease public fears by rounding up "sexual deviates", which mainly consisted of homosexuals. A group of these men were committed to the mental hospital for an indefinite period of time in hopes that the state could cure them.

I've always thought this would make an interesting (and still timely) stage play, so I'm working on an adaptation.

Screenplay (Immortality, Inc.). Okay, I've had this in the works for years (at least 10) and think I should just freaking write the damned thing! Again, this is for Carlos as it deals with vampires. At first I thought it would be a book but it's just so terribly visual that I decided to switch it to a movie instead. I've actually got most, if not all, of the research done on this, complete with character bios (full histories! I started this back when I still did such things) and a point-by-point plot outline so now it's just a matter of writing it. I just started revisiting this project in the past couple of days so I'm going to try to stoke the embers here and see what happens.

And that's it. That's what I'm working on, here and there, keeping myself entrenched in the world of words and continuing to move forward. I think I'm like a lot of writers who keep a few projects going at the same time in order to keep the mind active and the writing interesting. Often, if I only concentrate on one piece of writing, it starts to bore me and then the writing becomes stale. If I switch back and forth, especially if the projects vary widely in genre and style, the writing stays fresh and lively.

I'll try to get some more in depth posts regarding each project here in the near future.

To Let Go Is to Move On

It appears that there comes a point in this publishing process when one has to turn to that old Alcoholics Anonymous catch-phrase "Let Go and Let God" in order to move forward. I am at that point.

We are fast approaching the 1 year mark of my manuscript being "out there" in search of a home. My agent, Jennifer DeChiara, began sending it out in January of this year. As reported, we came close with one publisher but the book was deemed to adult for the Young Adult market. Since then: nothing. Not a freaking nibble. Oh, they're still tossing around the niceties: "good writer"; "interesting story"; "good character development"; and the like but ultimately they all have passed. I'm not even sure how many rejections I've had now as Jennifer has decided to shield me from them, for which I am thankful as there are just so many knocks my fragile writer's ego can take.

Each month, like broken clock work (I can never hold out a full month), I email Jennifer asking for updates. Each month the same report: "nothing yet, but I'm still trying." God love her tenacity!

And each month another dagger in the ole heart area.

Well, I think it's time to "Let Go and Let God." It's time to leave it in the hands of fate, put my head down and keep working on new projects. No more monthly updates, just let it lie and if by chance someone finally picks it up for publication and I get that call from Jennifer, well great. But if it doesn't happen then it doesn't matter because I've moved on. I've realized that I, and my writing, are entierly too tethered to the outcome of this novel. I have tied my self-worth to its publication and that's not good. I have to realize that even if the book doesn't get published that doesn't mean I'm not a good, or even great, writer. Just means that I have to continue getting my work out there so that someone will realize it. It's like casting a net instead of just one fishing line.

These are the lessons each writer must learn, I suppose.

So it's settled. One last update (what? you thought I would be able to quit cold turkey?) and then it's on its own. Time to move on fully and happily and whole-heartily, with confidence that my writing will be heard one day.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Why I Write

Often, in my travels (or is it travails?) as a writer I have had the opportunity to speak with other writers, unpublished like myself, and the subject of being published almost always comes up. Occasionally, the other writer will make a statement along the lines of: "Well, I don't care if I ever get published because I write for myself."

"Pardon me?" I want to say, "but what's the point in that?"

For me writing is many things: a must because I simply can't stop doing it; fun, especially in the first few drafts; painful as I tend to base most of my writing on my own personal emotional landscape; and hard, damned hard, with each word being a wrestling match of thesaurus versus my vision to make sure I have the most perfect choice. Writing for me is tough and difficult and sometimes not enjoyable and, above all, work. And if I'm going to go through all that, well, to quote the lyrics of "Dance Ten, Looks Three" from A Chorus Line: "...dancing for my own enjoyment? That ain't it, kid! That ain't it kid!"

I want to be published. I want to be read. I want to have my voice heard. I have things that I want to say, commentaries I want to make upon life and the world around me. But if there is no one to hear/read them, then I might as well just sit in my apartment talking the wall, rambling like a madman because that's what "writing for myself" is comparable to, no?

Writing for me is collaborative: like dancing or having sex, it's best done with two people (or more, depending). When I'm writing, I'm writing for an audience, for readers who, in their need to understand the story I am telling and believe the actions of the characters within the story, drive me to be clear and concise in my writing. Because I write for others, I am a better writer.

In my younger days, when I first started writing, I wrote just to write, which was a form of writing for myself, I suppose. The results were less than coherent, mostly ramblings with multiple digressions that were painful to read. Very much like diary entries with no discernible plot or character development...or, ultimately, purpose. I remember reading for a writing group during this period. The piece, "The Daddyslayer," was stunning in its heavy-handedness, its cacophony of ideas and images that were nothing short of verbal vomit, a purging of my "soul" that included an unseen villain (The Daddy), a trapped victim (nameless, of course) who lived in a village of unknown origin, setting and time period, who sets out on a journey to find a mythological being called "The Daddyslayer": "he'll rid you of that Daddy, once and for all, he will," says a stranger in a tavern where our young hero has found himself along his quest. He eventually meets the Daddyslayer, after a dramatic encounter with a pack of wolves (still not sure why they were in the story) where he begins a rigorous training because, of course, HE is the Daddyslayer! All this in only 5 pages! All I remember from the crowd of faces in the writing group was the stunned silence, then the hemming and hawing before someone, mercifully jumped into the fray. "Well, that was intense." And not in a good way, I was to find out. Other words tossed about: obvious, heavy-handed, over-wrought and lacking focus. "Who is your audience?" someone asked. Well, I had never thought of that, which was painfully obvious. At that moment in my writing dream, I had never thought beyond the end of my pen (yes, my pen as this was pre-PC days).

I realized that I didn't have an audience in mind. I simply purged myself onto the paper, a sort of bloodletting that proved uncomfortable and painful to the reader, if they could make themselves even read the huge blocks of type set before them. It was then that I began to study the craft of writing, the art of writing for someone else.

Some may say that writing for "someone else" will harness the raw, organic flow of our thoughts and emotions, but it doesn't have to. My raw emotions, my thoughts and ideas about the world and the people who inhabit it, are the clay from which I sculpt. The first draft of any project is where I dump my raw materials out on the table to see what I have to work with. Usually by the end a shape will form, dull and lifeless, maybe monstrous and unable to communicate properly to anyone other than myself, sort of a Frankenstein creature at best. But it is a shape none-the-less. It is during the revising process that the shape truly takes on life and breath (hopefully) and becomes a full-fledged entity that can interact with others. I like to think of myself as 'enry 'iggins molding 'is Eliza Doolittle.

The point is: I have to write for an audience in order to write well and coherently. And I have to write with the hope of being published, and with the idea that I am going to pursue that hope by sending my work out there into the cold, mean world of agents and editors, otherwise I will need to drive myself to the nearest sanitarium for a lifetime membership and start babbling to the first white, padded wall I can find.

But that's just me.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


The adaptability of the mind endlessly fascinates me. Here's the situation:

About a month ago, I am staying up way past my bedtime. I'm having a bit of scotch as I am wont to do on occasion--Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks, if you don't mind. I'm tired. Maybe I'm a bit tipsy. I doze. My glass, lovely Baccarat rocks glass that makes even the most harsh of scotches taste divine, tilts and spills onto and into my laptop. I wake, mutter "oh shit," clean up as best I can and go to bed. Next morning I do a thorough cleaning of the keyboard and assess the damage: the "s" key has perished in the flood. Not too horrible, considering.

I don't have the money to replace my laptop and it's silly to do so for a dead "s": so for the past month or so, I've been typing (emails, Facebook and Twitter status updates, WIPs, this posting) without having an active "s" key.

At first I set about to live an entirely "s"-less life. For the following few days after the death of "s", I did just that and I must say the exercise was a fascinating writing experiment. One has to truly manipulate one's vocabulary to write "s"-free. If you don't believe me, try it. Live "s"-less for one day (or "t"-less, "p"-less, "h"-less) and see how much ingenuity you will have to have to simply post a Twitter update (that's only 140 characters, relatively easy one would think but don't be fooled!). Pick any letter and try to live without it!

Definitely exercises the brain, which is great for a writerly exercise but difficult for an everyday existence.

So now I do a lot of copying and pasting for each and every "s" occurrence. I use the keyboard shortcut of Ctrl+V for the pasting and let me tell you, my mind has adapted to this necessity so deftly that I am amazed at the agility of the brain. Even when I'm at another computer, every time I come to an "s" in a word my left pinkie automatically stretches out for the Ctrl key. I don't even have to think about it anymore, it's that natural, and after such a short period. I'm truly amazed. Granted, occasionally I need a capital "s" and that takes extra steps (usually I simply search one out in a past writing sample or off a website page) and then I forget that I've copied that particular form of "s" and I'll paSte a capital "s" in the middle of a word. A little frustrating but nothing too diabolical. It's all just about adjusting.

For me it's a perfect allegory for life: one must always be adaptable in order to continue moving forward.

That and mind your Ps, Qs, Ss, and above all, your scotch!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Tendered Is the Life

A couple of weeks ago, I tendered my position at my last job. No, I don't have anything else lined up. While that might seem rash, especially given the state of unemployment in the nation, I am of the belief that one has to do what is best for oneself. I'm not going to go into any reasonings for my departure here as they don't truly have any bearing on this post. What this post is about is the door of possiblity has once again opened, prompting the question: "am I going to walk through it this time or high-tail it back to safety?"

What is possible is for me to devise a way to fulfill my goal of being a paid writer. Yes, the novel is still out there seeking representation (Jennifer sent out the third round batch a couple of weeks ago) and it would be marvelous if some fabulously savvy editor would snatch it up for a nice chunk o' change (if only enough to lessen those ever looming student loans!), but that is not a well-constructed basket in which to house my eggs. The true possibilities lie in my ability to stretch myself as a writer and seek alternative ways and venues in which to succeed.

One alternative that fascinates me is the area of Social Media. At the job to which I've just tendered, I've been working on the developement of their Social Media campaign: creating and maintaining their new blog, Twittering, Facebooking, working on the SEO for all these outlets and linking each one to the two websites held by the company. And it's been fascinating, exciting, fun, and knowledgeable, to the point that I am investigating ways to enter this field.

Other alternatives are to freelance. I've often thought about this in the past but...there is that confidence that is required of a freelancer, to put yourself out there and say: "I am the best writer for this project!" No room for doubt and I possess that in spades, especially these days with so many rejections looming about. I search Craigslist daily thinking: "I can do that" but have yet to actually toss my hat in any of the offered rings.

How does one move past oneself? That is the question these days. One just does. That is the answer. You have to step over your fears like passed out drunks on the streets of New York. Over your "tsk, tsk" and don't look back. Easier said than done but entirely doable. You have to pledge to yourself to try. What's a few dozen more rejections? Nothing I can't handle!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Update: 6 Month Mark

So, we have reached the 6 month mark in the process of seeking publication for the novel. While there has been no offer for publication as of yet, I and my agent, Jennifer DeChiara, have not given up. She is bound and determined to sell the novel, which is more than admirable. It's great to have someone like Jennifer on your side, especially when this process takes so long and can be so draining. She has no doubts whatsoever. She KNOWS it will sell.

I, though, have to admit that I've been wavering in my own faith in myself and my book. There are just so many knocks a man can take, right? Luckily, I haven't been KO'ed yet, but I've come close. But the white towel is firmly in my back pocket and I don't plan on tossing it to the floor anytime soon (and that's enough of the boxing analogies for me).

Recently, I reread the book, the first time since I finished the final edits back in late December of last year. Not to toot my own horn, but I actually enjoyed the book. And yes, I was surprised. There was so much in it that I'd forgotten about so I could truly read the book as a book and not something I had written (helps that I sent it to my Nook, so it had that e-book feel to it that I'm fairly used to now). I could be amazed at connections that were being made (I love my subconscious!). I could get involved with these characters that I haven't lived with in so long. I actually got choked up at the end, even though I knew what was coming. And I thought that was a good sign. But I suppose I'm a tad biased, no?

Oh well, we keep plugging away. Jennifer is working up list number 3 of unsuspecting publishers to which to submit and I continue to work on my second novel (50k words as of this morning). Moving forward is the key. So much of the business of writing and publication is perseverance and, for some reason, I have that in spades these days.

So, I can still easily say: See you on the shelves!

Monday, May 31, 2010

What Are You Reading Right Now?

Just a little question to get some interaction going here. What are you reading at this moment? Book, author, thoughts. Just curious and always on the lookout for new and exciting reading material!

To get the ball rolling: I am reading The Story of Night: A Novel by Colm Toibin. Previously, I had read his wonderful novel, The Master, his fictionalized biography of Henry James. The Story of Night is two stories entertwined: Argentina's struggle for democracy in the 1980s and a man's struggle to come out as a homosexual in the climate in which he lives. Toibin is a masterful writer, especially when he is writing about the relationship between the main character and his mother (a subject that always hits home for me).

"Maybe that is what lingers in her bedroom, her disappointment and all the time she had alone to savor it and go over it in detail. Some of that dull energy is left there, and I can feel it when I go into the room and I still call it Mother."

The best writing for me is the kind that I wish I had written first and this book is full of moments like that.

So, now it's your turn.

Where Are We Now?

Been way too long so here's an update on where we stand in the process of finding a publisher for On the Edge of Some Place Else.

Unfortunately, we are at the tail-end of round two in the submission process. First my agent directed the manuscript toward the Young Adult (YA) fiction market and the appropriate editors that she knows. The main reason, which I totally understand, is that the main character is 13-years-old: classic tell-tale sign of a YA novel. Personally, I was dubious about the approach. An editor friend told me, while I was still looking for an agent, to possibly pitch the novel as YA for the same reason, in hopes of broadening my search. But, while the main character is 13, the subject matter is well beyond that age group, in my opinion. Sure YA can deal with all sorts of subjects nowadays (sex, drugs, rape, murder even, vampires for sure) but my novel definitely wasn't written with that age group in mind, so it has an overtly mature sensibility to it. Even the main character's voice comes off much more mature for his age (something the editors marked, as well). And that was the consensus of all the editors to whom we pitched the novel: great writing but the book just isn't YA. (Well, some didn't add the "great writing" part, but that's too painful to write about). One editor, Brian Farrey at FLUX Publishing, absolutely loved the book. After the first read he thought: No, not YA at all. But he read it again just to make sure! Then handed it off to his most mature reader, who also loved it but agreed that it was too mature for YA. He wrote the best rejection I've ever received (and according to him "the hardest he's ever had to write") and I thank him for it.

So, round two has been directed at the adult fiction editors out there. So far, out of 6 editors, 5 have rejected (bringing the grand total to 13!). While most have actually liked the writing (no, seriously, that actually said that!), the book just hasn't grabbed them enough to want to take the risk on a first-time novelist writing Literary Fiction dealing with rape and a sexual relationship between a 13-year-old boy and his male former sixth grade teacher. Imagine that! While we are waiting for the last of the 6 to respond (come on Chuck Adams at Algonquin Books, come on, come through for me, Baby!), my agent is compiling list number three. She is amazing in her unwavering support (I've asked her if it's wavering and she said no). She encourages me with each rejection to not give up, that IT will happen, that she will not give up until the books sells! I love her for that.

And I am not giving up, either. As gut-wrenching each and every rejection has been, I can't give up on this. The book is good. I like the book. I want to read it when it comes out, I like it that much. I believe in my agent. I believe in myself. I believe in my talent. It WILL happen! We just have to find that one editor who recognizes that there is an audience for this book and not despite its subject matter but because of it and what it says about humanity. We've found one so far and there will be another.

So, that's where we are right now. In the meantime, I continue to work on novel number two and check my emails for that one that says: you will be a published author! It is coming.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Time for Bravery

No matter where you are in your life: Now is the time for bravery! It is time to live your life for you!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Looped: A Mini-Review

Valerie Harper at Tallulah Bankhead was simply amazing and mesmerizing.

Essentially a two-character play between Bankhead and an editor for whom she's come into the sound studio to loop some dialogue for her second to last movie, the play, a comedy, explores Bankhead's notorious reputation as a foul-mouthed, pill-popping, drunk who tells it like it is (at least the way she sees it, which is surprisingly clear given her constant cloud of drugs and drink).

The play itself is extremely well written. The jokes, pithy and bawdy one-liners are tossed out liberally and with perfect aim by Harper. But there's also drama that brings the characters together, keeping them interested in each other and interesting to the audience. Matthew Lombardo has constructed a very fascinating piece of work who's drama sneaks up on the audience, but isn't out of place even in the rapid-fire of one-liners. The drama is organic born out of the comedy.

As for Harper, her performance, or more aptly, her inhabitation of Tallulah Bankhead is absolutely mesmerizing. Most often you even forget there is anyone else on stage with her. That's not a slight toward her co-star, Brian Hutchinson, but a testament to how completely she shines as Bankhead. She is the driving force of the play and never lets the audience forget it. Given the larger-than-life presentation that was Bankhead, this performance could have been straight parody or characiture but Harper keeps her Bankhead grounded in nuance and self-awareness of Bankhead playing Bankhead. It's a fascinating performance and one that I am thrilled to have seen live.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

WIP: Chapter One

Thought I'd post Chapter One of my work in progress. Every once in a while I like to see my work outside of its normal habitat of MS word, see it in a different setting, a different light. One of the things I love about the Amazon Kindle is the ability to send documents to it to read. I've sent my first book there before and was amazed at how different the book looked and felt as I read it. While the Kindle isn't a "book," per se, there is a concreteness about it that merely reading the work on my laptop doesn't have. This is the first step outside of the comfort zone: letting others read the work.

The Reclamation of Karel Benakov: Chapter One

“This is who you are now,” he hands me the papers. We stand outside the car, his family, inside, not watching us. The wife stares out the passenger-side window in the opposite direction. I can’t see but can picture her face: tight and pinking with anger. The son, head bowed, reads a book as if it were any other outing to the country that they used to take before, long before. The daughter feigns sleep. He has stopped at a large stone building outside the town we had just passed through. I do not know the name of the town. He faces the building. I face him.

I stare at the papers. At the name scribbled in his impatient handwriting.

“That is who you are.”

Before I can speak he is returning to the car, its engine rumbling, rattling, anxious to continue, to get back on the road. I take a step forward but he drives away. I watch, waiting for him to stop, to change his mind, take me with him but he doesn’t. In the side mirror I see his face, eyes wide and set on the narrow dirt road as if it were extremely treacherous and he were in danger of plunging off the side of a cliff instead of driving on an unpaved country road. He doesn’t look back. Only the son does, one quick glance up from his book followed by his tongue sticking out at me. Victorious at last.

I wait until the car has finished its path down the dirt driveway, onto the road and out of sight. I look at the papers again, crunch them in my fist and stuff them in my coat pocket. With a deep breath, I kneel, scoop up a handful of dirt and dust and smear it on my face, then dust my coat and muddy my pant legs. With my satchel in hand, I turn to the building.

As I enter, not bothering to knock because it doesn’t strike me as a place, a door on which one knocks, the smell strikes me first and foremost, moldy, moist air, stale, as if the outside has not been allowed to enter the premises for months or maybe even years. After the crispness of the country air, my lungs seize and choke from this thickness. I stand breathing in the entryway, small and sparse, with only a wooden chair pushed against the right wall. The door closes behind me with an understanding thud and a click, leaving the light outside. I wait for my eyes to adjust to the dimness. In the absence of clear sight, I hear noises, far off, muffled by distance and walls, laughter and childish squeals, people at play, sounds that belied the ominous dark in which I stand, the silent foyer closing in on me. But still I don’t move, don’t seek the voices. I stay in that darkness. Setting my satchel down, I sit in the lone chair, its wooden parts creak, even under my slim weight, and echo in the hollowed-out room. The white walls ghost in the paltry light sneaking in around the cracks of the door frame and from the other rooms to which the entryway leads. The walls are dingy, ugly, and bare, not a picture or mirror interrupting their whiteness, save for one wooden crucifix stationed above the doorway. The other rooms, which I can not see except for their entrances, wait for me on either side of the end of the entryway. Further beyond them, a staircase climbs upward to more unknown areas.

I grip the handle of my satchel and bring it up to my lap. I look at the door from which I had entered, at the light glowing at its edges. My stomach tight to the point of pained. My jaw the same. Leave and go where? I didn’t know where I was, where he had brought me. Germany, but other than that, not a clue.

I stand, the chair scraping at the wood floor as if it too wanted to get away. I walk toward the other rooms.

The first, on the left, is as empty of people as the foyer, which I had suspected, the noises, the laughter and occasional squeals that still came were too far off, but there is light and furniture, old and beaten but comfortable looking. Couches, three of them, positioned in a U-shape in the center of the room, and numerous chairs of all kinds: wooden ones like the one in the entryway, upholstered ones with a mix-match of fabrics, stools and ottomans, scattered, somewhat haphazardly, but all facing the large fireplace on the wall to my right as I stand in the doorway. There is burnt wood in the gaping mouth of the fireplace and, walking over, I place my hand inside, letting it hover, feeling the slight heat still emanating from within.

In the second room, much larger and longer than the first, I find rows of tables and chairs, a dining area. Also empty. I wander in. The light here is brighter, shining through the curtain-less windows. I look outside from where I had come. The road beyond the grounds of the house are empty too. I knew they would be but, of course, I hoped they wouldn’t. Hoped he had come back and was waiting for me, despite the wife.

Turning, I walk to a door at the back corner of the room. Even before I encase the knob with my thin hand, I realize the voices are closer, though still just incoherent bursts. Opening the door, I step into a kitchen, also empty save for the lingering odor of prepared foods: breads, gruel, maybe eggs. I take a deep breath, yes, eggs, and sausages. My stomach aches for sausages. How many mornings had I stood outside his house, chopping their wood or washing their clothes, while the wife prepared breakfast for her family. How many times did the aroma of sausages breathe out of the cracked window in heated clouds that hovered over my work. She opened the windows on purpose, knowing. How many mornings did I sit outside in the freezing cold gnashing on molded bread and equally molded cheese while they sat at the table feasting on sausages. He had tried to sneak some out to me in the beginning but the wife found out and beat me. I told him it was worth it but he couldn’t see me like that, he said, so he wouldn’t try again because she would know. She took meticulous inventory of their food.

I stand, weary and wavering within the aromas that inhabit the kitchen. I am alone. I could easily find some food and take it away with me. They would never know I had even been there. They wouldn’t look for me or report me. I didn’t exist to them. Fill my satchel with breads and eggs and meats to last for days. A peal of laughter reminds me I am not entirely alone. Outside the windows of the kitchen, I can finally see the children, the ones who’d been laughing and squealing. They are running around the yard, playing, oblivious to me in their kitchen. A woman stands watch, on the perimeter of their play. A tall woman, large but not fat. Very German, I think to myself, in her stance, her strength and poise, the set of her jaw and the fold of her arms. She looks stern but the children don’t seem to be afraid of her, running about her in circles, flouncing the hem of her gray dress as they whirl past in their games.

In an instant, she pivots her head toward the windows, toward the kitchen, to me standing there. I think I should run but don’t. I am not scared. I don’t care that she’s caught me.

She says something to the children, who barely acknowledge her words, and then she walks across the yard to the door leading to the kitchen. Once she inside, she stops in the entryway. The voices from where she had come were louder, clearer, more excited. We looked at each other for a moment before she spoke, “Was ist das?” Her voice wasn’t angry or as stern as she looked. It was merely a question.

I pulled the papers out of my pocket, holding them out to her.

Moving to me, she received the papers, eyes slightly narrowed as she regarded me. She read the papers quickly then looked at me again. “You are Charles Werden?”

It took me a moment to decipher the name. I blinked once, twice, then spoke, “Yes, I am Charles Werden.”

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Well there's actually not much to update on but I needed a motive to start blogging again. Blogging is like exercising: once you stop it's hard to get back into the swing of it. Also, it only works if you do it! Speaking of which, I need to get back in the gym too, but I'll save that for another Sunday.

Well, my agent (a phrase I never get tired of typing), Jennifer DeChiara, is shopping the book around to editors/publishers. She began last week, so of course there is no news as of yet. It's all a waiting game and I'm ever splashing about in the waiting pool in this publishing process.

I'm both excited and scared to think about the manuscript in some publisher's inbox (or better yet: printed and in his/hers hands) for obvious reasons. I have faith in the book's merits, as a piece of literature that could be received positively, as well as its quality, if I may be so bold and/or confident. I'm not delusional in believing that when it gets picked up by a publishing house that it won't go through the editing machine a time or seven, but I believe that it is well written and not too far off the print mark. Of course, I'm scared of the inevitable rejections that will come too. I know it's not a book that everyone will want to read or even enjoy when they do. It deals with some hard realities and a lot of readers don't like to deal with reality at all when they read (that's what they're trying to escape), so I know it's got it's uphill battles. I keep telling myself: if The Lovely Bones can be a hit, then so can On the Edge of Some Place Else!

As for moving forward, that's also quite the battle. I'm working on a couple of scenarios for a second book. The one I want to write is being a bit obstinate and not revealing itself as easily as I thought it would. Oh, I know the story I want to tell. I know the characters for the most part. I know the scope and arc and themes but just can't seem to find the proper way to tell it (gee, this doesn't sound familiar at all, does it? well, actually it does. it took me at least 3 years to find the proper voice for On the Edge of Some Place Else). It will come, I know, but I would like it to arrive sooner than 3 years, thank you very much. So, I've started investigating another story idea, something I've toyed with previously but didn't get too deep into. It's a 180 from the other story, maybe a bit more of a natural progression from the first novel, as well. I might be that my brain just needs a break from the other story, let it germinate without actually dwelling on it.

Who knows. Writing for me is something I can't force, it's organic, especially in the developmental stage. Time will tell, I suppose. Just have to wait, as usual.