Sunday, June 08, 2008

Question for Agents, Writers and Publishers

I've hit a snag in the process of trying to get a novel published. The situation leaves me quite frustrated. What is a person to do when filled with angst and bitterness? To whom should one vent complaints in the modern era? To the internet, post haste!

Here's the deal: I've finished a book and am some twelve chapters into the sequel. As people regularly say when hitting a snag, "Everything seemed to be going so well." Here's the problem: The book is some 167,000 words long. That's long. Like average Harry Potter novel long. It doesn't set any records, but it does pose a challenge for an agent. Publishers are hesitant to risk the added cost associated with all that paper on a previously unpublished author (read: nobody), so agents are reluctant to sign them.

So cut it down, right? But here's the quandary: I can split the book in half, but it really works well as a whole, and though I envision it as part of a longer series, it could stand alone. That's important, because publishers are reluctant to take on books from a series that isn't finished yet. Hence, agents are reluctant to take them on. Now, I have no doubt I'll finish the whole thing. I love the characters, the setting, and have a clear idea of how it all ends. But I understand why a publisher would be reticent. After all, I could get hit by a bus and leave them holding the bag (to mix metaphors that, together, paint an interesting visual picture. I can just envision some stodgy old publisher standing on a curb holding what appears to be a grocery bag [but which actually contains manuscripts] while I lie in a bloody pool in the street in front of the offending public transit conveyance.) So agents won't try to sell it. So I'm sitting here. But if I split it, it becomes a finished two-parter. How many series of two books do you see at your local bookstore? That just makes its unfinished nature all the more apparent. Of course the third part is on its way, and in this case a fourth, fifth, and probably sixth would follow.

A writer friend has convinced me that the hook needs some work. He's right. Modern audiences have no patience for a slow introduction, especially from a writer they've never heard of. But I can't decide which way to punch it up until I decide whether or not to split it in half. I would really like to have an agent or publisher help me make this choice, because they are the ones who have to sell the finished product, but at this point in my writing career I have to make it on my own (or with the input of strangers online).

Maybe I've answered my own question. I suppose the solution is to cut it, but make the first half into a cohesive, shorter book that can stand alone. Sounds easy, right? Ha! It will be a huge pain in the ass, and I still may fail. Writing a good book isn't easy but I think I've accomplished it. Taking the first half and making it into a separate, sell-able book? Ugh.

Well, I'm a teacher, and I have some time this summer, so I guess I have a project now. Hopefully the final product will be even better than it was before, and I'll be glad for the delay.

So, agents, publishers, and published authors, I guess the questions is this: when and if I finish this re-write, will I be right back here complaining that no one wants to publish the book because it's too short, or part of an unfinished series, or because I am right handed or too old or too bald or simply unlucky? Or, as Miss Snark might say, it just "sux"? What will the reason be? Your prognostications (or, more seriously, your advice) would be greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Red Wings Beard 3: Freakin' Finally!

Well folks, the Stanley Cup has officially changed hands for another year, and my face has been liberated from the indignity of a bad beard. Here I am celebrating:

Red Wings Win - Share on Ovi

We're number 1 - Share on Ovi
We're number one! Who? Me and the team I arbitrarily chose to root for!

In Your Face - Share on Ovi
In your face! Who? People who rooted for the other team I was only remotely aware of before this beard contest!

Give God Credit - Share on Ovi
And now the obligatory credit to the divine for this inevitable end to a sporting event.

Look mean - Share on Ovi
And the beard is doomed!

But before I remove the beard entirely, first... The Fu Manchu!

Fu Manchu! - Share on Ovi

Sexy - Share on Ovi

Trying out for the Village People - Share on Ovi
Okay, so I look like I'm auditioning for the Village People.

Noah thinks I'm cool - Share on Ovi
But Noah likes it.

Then, before ultimate freedom, I thought I'd try the handlebars. My mom really wanted to see just how much I'd look like my uncle, Dave.

handlebars - Share on Ovi
Well, I can't do the cool handlebar mustache, obviously.

Uncle Dave? - Share on Ovi
Do I look like a bald Uncle Dave?

Okay, that's enough silliness. Now, freedom!

So Pasty! - Share on Ovi
I'm immediately struck by just how pasty I am. The beard absorbed a bit of the blinding light that reflects off my paler-than-white skin.

But it feels so good. - Share on Ovi
But it feels so good!

And now, the only faces that really matter:

Paige and Noah are happy - Share on Ovi
If they're happy, I'm happy.

One last note; Noah, while I shaved, said I looked like Wolverine. Not a wolverine, the animal....
wolverine - Share on Ovi

Wolverine-Miller - Share on Ovi
...but the Marvel Super Hero.

I don't really see it. I think I am now returning to my normal look, which unfortunately, is more like these Super Villains:

Lex_Luthor_003 - Share on Ovi
Lex Luthor (of Superman fame)

Chameleon - Share on Ovi
...and the faceless Chameleon from Spider-Man.

It seems the Red Wings have brought me back to super-villainy. So ends the saga of the beard. And now, on to my plotting of world domination!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Red Wings Beard Part 2: Pittsburgh Penguins Postpone Emancipation from Beardistan

So close! I turned on Game 5 of the NHL playoffs to see the Red Wings down by two, and started to lose hope that I would finally get to shave tonight. Then they scored three in a row, and with less than a minute left it looked like I would soon be rid of this itchy, scraggly growth.

Paige said my last pics made me look mean, so I had her take some more while we watched, then took a celebratory shot with the Red Wings in the background.

First, here are some I took with Noah:

Noah and Bearded Ben 1 - Share on Ovi

Noah and Bearded Ben 2 - Share on Ovi

And one with Noah and my nephew, Colin:

Noah, Bearded Ben, and Colin - Share on Ovi

And one taken BY my nephew:

Colin's Pic of Bearded Ben - Share on Ovi
(He wasn't as frightened as you might expect. In fact, he thought it was pretty funny.)

Here's one of the pictures Paige took tonight:

Beard - Share on Ovi

And here's the one I took with the Red Wings as background:

Beard with Red Wings - Share on Ovi

Then Pittsburgh scored and sent it to overtime.

And another overtime.

And another.

And then they scored.

I think Colin captured my feelings right now:

Colin's Pic of Bearded Ben - Share on Ovi