Not for me–thanks!

Is this meant to encourage me? What other profession is based on your relying on people beating down your door and then you decide if you’ll even acknowledge them? I speak, of course, of the venerated literary agent. I’ve been sending out dozens of equeries lately, with maybe a 10% response rate. With a direct mail piece, this would be phenomenal. With a well-written, professional query, it’s abysmal. But not unexpected. That’s the norm these days–agents are flooded with equeries (and snail mail ones as well) to the point where they only respond if they’re interested. But I wonder how much more productive we’d all be if they could take the ten seconds or so to paste in one of Read More…

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way from the Forums.

I allude, of course, to the 1962 Broadway masterpiece. The book is credited to Larry Gelbart and Burt Shevelove, but for my money, the show wouldn’t have gotten off the ground without Stephen Sondheim’s score and lyrics. As sung by Zero Mostel. Once called “nothing but a belch of a man” by my ever-derisive drama teacher, Zero took the role of Pseudolus, turned down by Phil Silvers and Milton Berle, and worked his big, fat, sweaty magic with it. He’s occasionally out of tune, his dynamics lack any sense of subtlety and he’s frequently out of breath. It’s incredible. If you ever come across the soundtrack, give it a chance. But steer clear of the ’66 film version, which did Read More…

Stop the Insanity.

What is insanity? According to Albert Einstein, it’s defined as repeating the same action over and over again, while expecting a different result. What are we to expect by electing John McCain, a man who, in his own words, plans to continue the policies of the least popular president of my lifetime? Something different? I invite you to explain to me how. All my life, I’ve avoided politics, finding it an alternately repugnant and boring universe. But when I saw the Republicans of the Corn last night drooling over Sarah Palin, I had to say something. To quote someone else who saw us through some hard times, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” If we let Read More…

What do you do with a completed novel?

Even more useless than a B.A. in English is the unread novel. Now that it’s done, what should I do? Celebrate? I kind of did already. I went for a run and listened to “When I Write the Book” on my iPod, fueled by adrenaline the entire way. Once that was out of the way, I immediately dove into the second draft. I know everyone says “take some time, put it in a drawer,” etc. I will, eventually, but while the thing is still fresh in my system, I wanted to go back to the very beginning–for the first time–and see if anything stood out, good or bad. It’s only now that I’m beginning to get a feel for the Read More…

Expanding the Cult

The Church of Buffett has two new disciples. I took my sons to their first concert Saturday and it couldn’t have been a more perfect indoctrination. We were one of maybe 20 families in the “family section” of the lawn (no alcohol/no smoking), which had room for at least 50 more blankets. Guess the other concertgoers were determined to drink and smoke no matter what. This was the set list: Homemade Music License to Chill FruitcakesPencil Thin MustacheMiss You So BadlyIt’s 5 O’Clock SomewhereChanges in Latitudes, Changes in AttitudesCowboy in the JungleBrown-Eyed Girl Cheeseburger in ParadiseOne Particular HarbourCome MondayWhy Don’t We Get DrunkBama BreezeSon of a Son of a SailorSchoolboy HeartVolcanoMakin’ Music for MoneyTryin’ to Reason with Hurricane SeasonThe CityA Read More…

A Mix Tape for Writing

For years, I’ve put together mix tapes for myself and other people. I’ve since moved on to mix CDs, of course, but the intent is the same. Some of my most prized mixes were assembled with one purpose in mind: to keep me running. Although my iPod made my entire collection obsolete, I still have all the tapes, sitting gathering dust behind my office door at home, with inside-joke names too embarrassing to cite here. The jokes were so inside, in fact, that only I would get them. How’s that for warped? I became so accustomed to the running order of these tapes that to this day, I can’t hear “The Ballad of John and Yoko” without expecting to hear Read More…

Not cramping up yet…

I have a friend who recently ran a half marathon and he said he was plagued by a persistent cramp under his ribcage for much of the race. But he finished–and that’s about 9 more miles than I’ll be running anytime soon. The new book, however, is just about halfway done (at least according to my hastily thrown-together outline). So excuse me for not blogging, but I had me some real writin’ to do! It’s feeling better and better, and it’s gotten a good response from my writers’ group. I have another 6 or so chapters to submit to them, which will take them through the first half of the story. Hardest thing has been finding time, because I don’t Read More…

Just When I Think I’m Out…

…I get a pleasantly surprising email! This is a good thing: my agent and I parted on good terms, and technically still have a few days left in our formal agreement. But naturally, anything that was undertaken before we agreed to go our separate ways is still covered by our previous arrangement. So guess what? Someone he queried quite awhile ago has expressed interest in seeing the entire MS. Yay, me. It would be amazing if this works out after all–lord knows I’d rather be writing my new book than finding another agent.

Submitted for Your Approval.

Well, not your approval, exactly, but that of my writer’s group. Last night I surrendered all that exists of my novel-in-progress, “Mother Sucker” (working title): six chapters and about 25K words. I’d been working on it since March, but when my turn came up to submit, I only had about three chapters, which was hardly worth it, so I switched slots with a friend whose novel was already completed and used the intervening time to jam out three more chapters. Part of the problem, if not ALL of the problem, is that I’m working without an outline. I can see maybe one chapter ahead, but beyond that, I’m groping. I may just use the time while they’re reading the first Read More…

No Matter What Happens…I Must Not Cry.

After much agonizing, deliberation and advice-seeking, I have decided to release my agent from further representation of “Ring of Fire.” Not only that, I’ve decided to retitle it and give it a thorough once-over. I’m working with “Dead Ringer” for now, even though I know the publisher has the final word over titles and cover art, etc. I like the juxtaposition of a serious, ominous-sounding title with whimsical cover art. Think Carl Hiaasen or Tim Dorsey. The cover tells you it’s not a hard-boiled suspense. Of course, according to my (former) agent and the editors he’s contacted, my book isn’t a suspense novel, anyway. It has elements of suspense, yes, but it also has a love story (ick!) and humor Read More…