Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Friend Zoned


Pteranodon ©2016 Adam Koford




The term Friend Zone refers to a situation where one person feels more strongly about another person than the other person feels about him/her.  Typically (according The Wikipedia) it's a guy who feels more strongly about a girl, while the girl sees the guy as "just a friend."

Sad to say, but The Book has been Friend Zoned. 

My agent sent The Book out to three rounds of publishing house editors.  I love The Book and would love to work with one of them to get it published.  The editors, however, all said pretty much the same thing: they liked it, but they didn't love it. 

And without loving a manuscript they're not going to fight to get the project added to an upcoming season's catalog and work to get it published. 

I'd like to say that I'm okay with this.  I'd like to say that in the five or six months since it became apparent The Book wasn't likely to go anywhere that I've come to terms with it and have moved on.  I'd like to say that I'm well into revising the completed manuscript of another MG novel, full of optimism and enthusiasm.

I'd also like to say I won a bazillion dollars, quit my day job, and we're moving us over to the UK, but that ain't happening either.

It's clear to me that I'm not going to be shrugging off the disappointment of 5+ years worth of work going nowhere.  I am, however, slowly dusting myself off and getting back to writing again.  I sent my agent the text of a Picture Book the other week that she liked (more on that later) and I'm working out points in a few different MG book ideas.

Still, being Novel Friend Zoned sux.


-- Tom

Friday, July 8, 2016

Kurt Vonnegut on The Shapes of Stories



A brilliant, albeit short, lecture on The Shapes of Stories by the incomparable Kurt Vonnegut.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Friday, January 1, 2016

Once Again, Neil Gaiman Says It Best



May 2016 be filled with Good Madness and may you continually surprise yourself in the best of ways.


--Tom

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Maggie Stiefvater and FAST Cars


In what seems like another lifetime ago my wife and I met up with Maggie Stiefvater and her husband when they were driving through the Raleigh, NC area and took them to a wildlife conservation center where we spent a year volunteering at.

Like my wife's fascination with cars, I don't exactly get Maggie's love of cars -- especially FAST cars -- but I do love a good story from someone I know.

After all, isn't this what writing and sharing time with friends is all about?  Telling and creating good stories?


-- Tom


15 Minutes a Day

Jacques Francois Duvall oversees my work on replacing the back porch stairs.
As usual, he isn't impressed.

The Book is still in the hands of Acquisitions Editors at Publishing Houses across the country.  All of the editors who have read and responded thus far have liked the book and the characters but none of them have been willing to make an offer on the manuscript.

Life, eh?

So, while the dust is collecting on The Book I've started preliminary work on The Other Book.  I have most of the characters sketched out in my head along with the basic storyline.  I've keyed most of this into Scrivener, which seems a good place to keep track of virtual notecards that I can access online.  (I have the files on Dropbox, meaning I can access them from a variety of computers)  With most of the groundwork done it's time to start actually writing the thing.

At this point I'm still something of a reluctant writer.  Writing isn't easy to begin with and since I'm still feeling frustrated by the Endless Revisions from The Book diving back into writing anything comes with a healthy dose of suspicious hesitations.

What has helped me thus far has been an app called CoachMe*.  It's basically a reminder app with many pre-set reminders while allowing you to create your own.  The pre-set reminders also have Forums where you can ask questions and find support for whatever you're looking for help with.

One such group is "Write for 15 minutes each day."  I've never been able to commit to writing every day because I've seen it as a large time commitment that doesn't easily fit in with my work and home schedule.  I looked at this CoachMe reminder and thought, "I can handle 15 minutes a day."  And, for the most part, so far I have.

It's been enough to get The Other Book plotted out and some of the problems worked out in my head.  Even small, incremental progress is progress.


-- Tom

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* CoachMe is a free app for both iOS and Android.  The reminders are free as are the Forums.  They have live Life Coaches available for hire if you're looking for more individualized, personal help.  I am in no way associated with this app or anyone working for them (as best I know).

Friday, September 4, 2015

Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast: The School Appreciation Video



My Internet Buddy, Josh Funk, has had his first (of many) picture books, Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast, published this month.  He's already had a fantastic response from schools including the Richland County Elementary School in Olney, IL.

After a Skype conversation with Josh, the school celebrated and put together a video they shared on The You Tubes.

To me, this is one of the most amazing things an author can receive by way of thanks and celebration for writing a great book.

Wiping some errant dust from the corner of my eye, I send out Major Congrats to Josh.  Well Earned and Well Deserved, sir.


-- Tom

Friday, August 14, 2015

Felicia Day and How the Writing Journey is Worth It

"You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost)"by Felicia Day
I'm currently reading Felicia Day's memoir, "You're Never Weird on the Internet."  Despite being a generation or two older than Day, I greatly appreciate how her unique and quirky upbringing led her to be both the very talented and very unsure-of-herself (i.e. human) person she is.

Here's a great section from her book that I read this afternoon on the busride home that I felt was more than worth passing along:

“The next morning, I sat down at my computer and took a deep breath. “I will write a TV pilot before January 1. It may be the worst script ever written, but I will finish it, or . . . there isn’t any ‘or,’ stupid girl. It will happen. This pilot will happen.” And I started typing. 
I would love to say that given my resolve, the muses flowed through my fingertips to produce a script of utter perfection. That once I put pressure on myself, I rose to the occasion and found joy in every bit of dialogue I gave my characters.
That is NOT the case. 
Every second of writing that script felt like walking barefoot over shards of glass. I would write a bit and then I would sob, wanting desperately to erase what I’d just written. Oh God, that’s not a scene, no one acts like that. I have no idea what to make happen, who should talk next? I hate myself. Then I would force my fingers to type more, every word feeling like I was bleeding from every orifice. I was engulfed with fear of making mistakes, of writing something stupid, of encountering story problems “I couldn’t think my way out of. I was, in short, terrified of the process. It was not fun.
What drove me to continue? Sheer obstinate grit... 
“If ideas flow out of you easily like a chocolate fountain, bless you, and skip to the next chapter. But if you’re someone like me, who longs to create but finds the process agonizing, here’s my advice: 
  • Find a group to support you, to encourage you, to guilt you into DOING. If you can’t find one, start one yourself. Random people enjoy having pancakes.

  • Make a goal. Then strike down things that are distracting you from that goal, especially video games. (Unless it’s this book; finish reading it and THEN start.) 

  • Put the fear of God into yourself. Okay, I’m not religious. Whatever spiritual ideas float your boat. Read some obituaries, watch the first fifteen minutes of Up, I don’t care. Just scare yourself good. You have a finite number of toothpaste tubes you will ever consume while on this planet. Make the most of that clean tooth time. For yourself.
The creative process isn’t easy, even for chocolate-fountain people. It’s more like a wobbly, drunken journey down a very steep and scary hill, not knowing if there’s a sheer cliff at the end of it all. But it’s worth the journey, I promise."

Felicia Day is exactly the type of woman/gamer/person we need telling kids (and adults) of today that being different is not only okay, but important and valued.  She's also the kind of writer other writers need to hear speak the truth about how difficult and downright soul-shatteringly painful the writing process can be.

And, of course, that the writing journey is totally worth it.


-- Tom

Friday, July 24, 2015

Susan Jane Gilman: There Is No Lightning Bolt


I've been a fan of Susan Jane Gilman's writing since I read her memoirs Hypocrite In a Pouffy White Dress and Undress Me in the Temple of Heaven -- books I read based on a single quote from her former high school writing teacher Frank McCourt who said, “Thank you, O Lord, for sending us Susan Gilman’s tales.”

I have to say I agree.

Gilman gave a Ted X Talk in Zurich earlier this year and the talk has just been posted to The YouTubes.  It is well worth watching for artist and/or anyone who contemplates making art.

Seriously, you should watch it.


-- Tom