Monday, July 27, 2009

On writing

Realized I haven't blogged for a bit.

Been very busy as I got some brilliant feedback on the new novel, now called THE MISSIONS OF NOAH YOUNG, that necessitated some major first chapter revisions.

One person who gave me the feedback said "Take everything I say as pure encouragement to struggle to get to something important." As this person is tres important in publishing world, I realize I'm lucky having his ear and am doing just that.

So it occupied my mind greatly.

Got a beautiful, beautiful email from a 17-year-old who'd read Gabriel and was profoundly moved. I really feel I've done my job when I get notes like that.
Guy comes from the bible belt, which makes it doubly satisfying.

My publisher didn't put any marketing dollars there because they thought they'd get no return. Glad a bookstore still has it on their shelves.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Nike! Nike!

Off I went to the dentist--a new one--for a deep cleaning to the first two quadrants of my mouth. Next week will be the next two and final quadrants.

Five injections of novocaine and, though I felt nothing, the water pick sounded like a water canon inside my mouth. The file didn't sound any better.

Knowing I needed a filling, I gamely suggested she do it while that part of my mouth was numb. Also at the back of my mind was the thought there might be a bit of a saving.

"Okay, Damian."

The dreadful whine of the drill and then it stopped dead.
I was glad because I was beginning to feel a little pain.

"The decay's quite deep," she said. "It's also very close to the nerve."
"Meaning what, exactly?" I managed to say, though my mouth was so frozen I thought the words were palpable as I said them.
"You need a root canal in my opinion."
I thought of my old dentist and wondered if I had swapped him out for one that thought she could vacuum the money from my pockets.

"Damian, would you like to know the cost of a root canal?" said the receptionist cum billing clerk.
I felt suddenly vulnerable, exposed. I couldn't just walk out if it was too expensive. In short, I was screwed.

"Tell me?"
"$640 and 15% discount for cash."
"Nike," I said.
"What do you mean?" said the dentist.
"Just do it."
"It's going to be a longer procedure so I'm plugging this and come back Tuesday?" she said.
"So I wait."
A damned good reason to include dental in any health care reform, huh?
It's time. No listening to the greedy insurance industry, Republicans and other industry insiders who are trying to fear-monger and say standards will fall and wait-times rise. That's bullshit.


Thursday, July 09, 2009

An evening of feedback

I'm making headway on the next novel which remains untitled until something pops into my head. I'm just finishing Chapter 4.

On Tuesday night, with great trepidation, I received feedback from my writers group, Rebel Writers of Buck County a.k.a The Rebs, about the first two chapters which I'd submitted the previous month. It's great to have people you trust critique your work and we have, among our members, a couple of great copy-editors and people who do not hold back when a plot point isn't working.

All in all my sample was well received, though a few felt I needed to get to the first conflict before page 8. I'm mulling this advice bearing in mind there is a difference between literary fiction and thrillers or criminal novels.

One thing that came up is the fact I wasn't born in America. Some of my prose is still Brit in that I use 'gas forecourt' instead of 'gas station' and expressions like 'playing up.'

Regards publishing in general, I've got a feeling there's going to be a big shake-up in the industry soon. They're simply not doing well in these difficult times. Many agents will fall by the wayside in the way real estate agents leave the industry when the housing market is in the doldrums --certainly those lit agents who haven't been selling manuscripts and those who really earn their living attending writers conferences and earning money from that will leave to find new work. The larger literary agencies will drop some of their employees.

I'm thinking the smaller, flexible independent publishers will be the winners after the winds of change have settled--publishers like the UK's Legend Press who published my first novel. They're managed by young Turks like Tom Chalmers who owe no allegiance to the stodgy old business models and aren't afraid to try new things. It'll be an interesting ride.