Xmas Wishes and Mental Betrayal

So, this is the last week before the Pig Launching Extravaganza which always taints the beginning of the year at my day job (the one we are always being admonished not to quit). (For those newcomers, I don’t want to say where I actually work and therefore curtail what I might otherwise say — people have gotten fired for openly maligning the Almighty Company on public media. So, I state that my job entails launching pigs from cannons.) We got the e-mail today and are looking at 10 hour days, 6 days a week for the first month and “as needed” for the ensuing months. It was expected.

However, Christmas draws nigh. I have consumed my weight in Hershey’s Candy Cane kisses and watched my Christmas movies — chief among them Disney’s CGI A Christmas Carol. If you want a traditional Xmas movie with horror overtones, this is it. An argument could be made for its rating to be bumped up to PG-13 (the end of the Ghost of Christmas Present’s scene alone…). It’s very true to the book, and these aren’t your cuddly Muppets (however awesome they are). Also included in my movie fest were Charlie Brown’s Christmas, Polar Express, The Grinch, and Nightmare Before Christmas (duh). And hopefully that deranged  horror version of Jack Frost…the horror movie about a possessed snowman. (I’m not even kidding. Look it up. And I don’t mean the one with Michael Keaton).

What all this should point to is that, in a very rare instance (almost unheard of), I was more excited for Xmas than Halloween. I must be terribly ill — I’m broke and don’t give a crap about presents, that cuddly family stuff does nothing for me, it’s going to be 80 degrees here on Christmas (and for almost a full week afterwards), and yet I’m as excited as a kid who sees a dozen large presents under the tree bearing his name.

Should be fun.

In other news, while getting ready to prepare to move, I was also assembling notes for the novella I was planning. Because my mind is a perverse, awful thing which delights in nothing more than my torture, I noticed two special calls for short stories (I suck at short form writing), and my mind switched. Totally jumped ship.

I thought it was some form of mental rebellion, a diversion tactic to avoid loading anything more onto my already burdened back and to cause me to get distracted and not write the novella yet. I tried to force myself to focus on what I originally planned to write and also to consider if I should write anything during this busy time. That never works. I dreamed about the stories.

Even more than that, if your mind is so intent on some other creative project or (for instance) one character seems to “want” more screen time, then you don’t fight it. It is probably supposed to be that way and doing anything else interrupts the flow.

I started on the first of the two short stories today. About three pages later, I’m still going strong — the most I’ve written since Winter’s Trial was published, sadly (and isn’t even that much). The bonus to this project is that even if it is rejected, I can still use it as part of a larger work I plan to do. Besides, I really like it so far, and that’s what counts for me. I’m not good at the short format, and my betrayer brain wants to add all sorts of extra bits and keeps fleshing everything out, but I could stand to learn the (incredibly difficult) short story format. So, if nothing else, this will be a valuable training exercise. Is that mental self-preservation in case I’m rejected? Probably, but there is truth to it, so I will let it slide.

I took a break from that to write this entry. Now, if I can keep Valkyrie Profile and Disgaea D2 (Laharl, Etna, and Flonne again…finally!) out of my clutching claws, I will be well down the road to my next project.

The other short story has quite some time before it’s due, so I may write it and let it sit, or go to the original novella I was ripped from by my traitorous mind.

Anyway, Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays/Happy Yule/whatever makes you happy and warm inside. May we all be a little more positive and gracious throughout the year (especially my evil ass). *cackle, throwing Xmas confetti*

Release Day!

My terror and elation have not abated. Am I a writer now? Will I ever be? I don’t know, but for good or bad, the day is here. For anyone who wants it, you can get my book here: To buy the book:

Torquere: http://www.torquerebooks.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=97&products_id=3966

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Winters-Trial-ebook/dp/B00EOR0406/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377110900&sr=8-1&keywords=darren+endymion

I have also set up about a billion pages for myself. If you want them, here they are:

Twitter and Facebook I can be found under Darren Endymion (both of which have very little of anything right now, I assure you)

My (very much in process) web page: http://darrenendymion.com/

(It's hideous and new. Don't judge me. Yet.)

(Later)

Okay, so I'm in the process of setting up my author pages on Amazon and Goodreads...and I noticed that someone is reading my book right now! *cheer, nervous, vomit, die* This shit just got real. Hahaha.

I’m so nervous, I don’t know what to do with myself. I think I may drink heavily today. Cheers!

What now? Now I work on the short mer story I mentioned before. I think from there I will branch into something bigger and more ambitious than I have any right to try at this stage, and maybe even write a novel about some super heroes, a life-long geeky passion of mine. In the meantime, I will be here, annoying, terrorizing, and hopefully amusing people. Now everything won’t have to be about this novel, because I’ll be able to think about something else. I’ll keep everyone updated on writing and all that, but with the ability to think about something else comes…bliss.

I’m ready for this stage to end, but at the same time I don’t want it to. I’m not actively working on anything else right now. I just have snippets here and there and a short story to edit and submit. I have too many ideas to run out of stuff to write for a long, long while, but I’m not involved in any of them right now. Not yet. For now, I will be adrift at sea. It takes me about 3 months to pound out about 360+ pages, even with my atrocious writing habits, so I will let people know what’s going on. And it won’t be long.

I will miss Austin and Cris. I will miss Pearl, and Quinton, and especially Taylor, and all the others, but I think I’m ready to move on. I’ll come back to them—there are at least three more books to write there. But I think I’m ready to move away right now.

Until the separation anxiety kicks in. My editor thinks it started for me about a month ago. J.L. Langley has mentioned suffering from it frequently in her Yahoo group. I have read many, many other authors talking about it, and it makes sense. You spend so much time, effort, and love on these people, and then they are gone, but with you forever. They aren’t just yours anymore; they belong to anyone who wants to pick them up, for better or worse. They are out in the world. It’s like a mental empty nest.

But, this is a happy day, not time for examining the melancholy of a writer’s (?) separation anxiety. I’m sure I’ll talk about that in a later entry. Lucky you! Hahaha.

Thanks to everyone who has read my babblings up to now, and for those who might have just joined. I’d have a drink with all of you if I could. *cackle, clink*

Winter’s Trial excerpt

Well, here is a snippet from my upcoming novel, Winter’s Trial by Darren Endymion, released through Torquere on August 21st. I suppose I’m late in the marketing game, but as discussed previously, I am seriously terrible at that. This is the scene where my two protagonists, Cristiano and Austin meet for the first time. As werewolf True Mates (soul mates, more than the typical Chosen Mates, divinely linked), their meeting is something strong and life altering.

Well, the excerpt is long enough (and the indents refused to work consistently), so here it goes (hope you like it):

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As the official claimed that he had business to attend to, and the other members of the local architectural firm had left as well, Cris continued to talk with Mrs. Hill. She led him back to the front desk, leveling with him about what she wanted and what she could spend.

They were laughing together in quiet library whispers when Mrs. Hill raised her hand and positively beamed as Cris heard the library's glass doors open behind him.

Cris' senses exploded.

 ***

      Austin got out of his car and shut the door, unable to stop the nervous growling in his stomach. He wasn't hungry, but he was… excited? Nervous? Yes, both. But more. His insides seemed to be boiling with anticipation. He seemed alive, the pale white of the world outside seemed too bright, too full of life.

He giggled and peered through the glass door to the library, noting Mrs. Hill talking to a tall, broad-shouldered man with dark skin and neat, slicked back ebony hair. She waved at Austin and he raised a hand to wave at her as he pushed open the door.

Then his world came together with an almost audible click.

***

      Austin Holcomb's nostrils flared, the hair on the back of his neck stood up, and his eyes shifted back and forth from lupine to human.

Cristiano Raposo winced as if in pain, his hands clenching into fists. He leaned forward and turned, as though he had been hit in the stomach.

Their senses reached out, like gentle, smoky hands, and came together in a sweep of ecstasy, pleasure, and longing. They knew each other in that moment. Part of each of them knew it before their minds knew that they had come together. Their souls meshed from across a barren library lobby, and the True Mates looked into each other's eyes for the first time.

Austin looked up and gasped. There before him stood a gorgeous man, 6'2", dark black hair, deep brown eyes, thick red lips, a slight goatee, broad through the chest and trim in the waist. The light blue sweater he wore dipped down into a V neck that showed just the barest bit of short chest hair and was pulled tight around a body that made Austin suck in his breath.

Cristiano gazed into green eyes that were a deep, gorgeous shade of emerald. When he could look away for even a second from those eyes that Called him even now, even this close, he gasped. His mate was beautiful. He was 5'8", his buzzed brownish red hair stood out in perfect contrast to pale, smooth skin. His lips were not as full as Cris' but they were shaped in a downward bow, as though just managing to suppress impish thoughts and comments.

They felt the other in a way they never would again, though they would often come close. They knew each other. Memories and quirks and feelings shuttled from one to the other in a swell of empathy and desire and need. They became one being, their thoughts and memories whirling across the small space between them. No longer separate people but one throbbing soul, an aching hole between them that only closeness and the weighty task of getting to know each other could fill.

Cris thought about kissing those lips and stroking the delicate, pale face, even as Austin thought how it would feel to press up against this man's chest, to feel those powerful arms around him, stroking the small of his back.

And there was more. Their memories flashed out at each other in globs of empathy, visions of things past, like one being thinking of how it came to that place, how it suddenly became whole. Memories of…

      …summers in Brazil, sunning on the beach, digging his feet into the sand, thinking of the time when he would meet his True Mate…

      …jumping through the snow in a Minnesota winter with the Matriarch and the Alpha, young and just his third time as a wolf, thinking that the only thing that could be better would be to have his True Mate at his side. Before things got bad…

      …watching his video, loaded into his suitcase back at the hotel even now, and hoping his mate would be fair and have blond or auburn hair. Looking at his own dark hair, dark features and wondering what his skin would look like next to his mate's…

Time and space were meaningless as shards of memory stabbed and shone and healed. Things sped up, memories flashing across the void in rapid succession, like twinkling flecks of light in the dark, running over and through each other, separate, confusing, and perfect.

But there were horrors, too.

      …broken leg in the jungle before he had Changed…

      …tumble from a rooftop before he had Changed and been banished…

      …fight with his brother, the worst ever, and the split lip he had given him, the smell of blood, and the instant remorse…

      …wandering through the snow, weeping, alone, frightened, and betrayed…

      …leaving his father, his mother, his pack, leaving everything for a job and for the reality that lay behind it, but most of all leaving his younger brother, his best friend, and how much he missed him already…

      …his mother and father turning away from him, scared hurt in her eyes, and scorn in his, the rocks thrown by his former friends, the growl coming from deep in the throats of those he had once cared for…

And then there was greatness.

      …becoming a lab technician, testing his theories about the wolf blood, about the healing properties of it, and being right…

      …getting accepted to school, passing the tests, getting his architect license…

       …the love of the Matriarch, the slight support of the Alpha, and the acceptance of a small child…

       …the Sage and his Alpha and his brother, all wishing and…

      …not comparing to what he had…

      …knowing that his life had led up to…

Now.

When am I a Writer?

While watching Hemlock Grove recently, I had an epiphany of sorts that bewilders me. I don’t think I see myself as a writer.

One of the characters in Hemlock Grove—I believe she’s about 15—tells everyone who cares (and many who don’t) that she is a novelist and that it’s important for her to understand people’s motivations. She says this right before asking a series of questions which are both obnoxious and insightful.

I want to slap that heifer bald-headed.

My knee-jerk reaction was to think, “Wench, you haven’t written shit. You’re no more a novelist than my intestinal leavings.”

I see this online, too. On dating profiles (gay ones, specifically, I imagine), people will say they are writers (or dancers, or models, or *yaaaaawn*). My first reaction in the modeling example, is to recall a Scott Thompson quote from Kids in the Hall. “’Modeling’ can mean a lot of things.” Ron Jeremy can be considered a model. William Hung could consider himself a singer. Stephenie Meyer, gods help us, can be considered a writer. That drunken sow you last saw galumphing around in the club also considers herself a part-time dancer.

My thought process on this disturbs me, so I had to ask myself: Is success the measure of what you feel in your heart? My mental answer was immediate: Hell no!

Then why this feeling about my status as a writer (or others')? Am I railing against perceived pretense? I don’t know. I am certain what I think means nothing to anyone but me, so I keep my mouth shut. (Until this entry, I suppose.)

I have always felt this way. It’s not that this haughty, jerkface attitude started when I got the acceptance for my novel. I love writing. I love reading what I write for myself (as most everything I write starts out), my first novel will be published on August 21st, 2013, and I have written little stories and snippets my whole life. Yet, I have never truly considered myself a writer. Not enough to proclaim myself so. Am I being too hard on myself, and therefore on others? I think it’s defining myself as a writer that kills my confidence.

Maybe that’s it. Maybe I’m shy and (apparently) stupid. It’s not fair of me to judge others or myself against a prejudice I don’t even understand. What makes a writer? Anyone who loves to do it and does it, I guess.

Logically, that makes sense to me, but I don’t know when I will personally consider myself a writer. My editor recently outlined the few remaining steps I have before the fateful release day. She said something like, "And then you can call yourself an author!" But I don't feel it. I don't feel like it's on the horizon, either.

When will I feel it? When I am published? When I have ten books under my (fake) name? If I break into the mainstream? If I am ever fortunate enough to make a living off of my writing? If I ever manage to get critical acclaim?

I still don’t know.

What, really, makes a writer? And, ultimately, does it really matter if you’re doing what you love?

*faint, drool*

I'm back! (For those who noticed that I have been MIA). What have I been doing? A great deal.

I hate to sound like a one-note hussy, but that's pretty much how my life has been. I had a birthday in there, which I will thank nobody to mention and which took some time to recover from. My friends insisted on doing things with me. What the hell?

Anyway, the majority of my time has been spent editing my novel. Yeah, about that.

First, I was very, very wrong about the time frame I was looking at. I got my edits back from (who else?) my editor along with a lot of paperwork. That has probably been the biggest shock to me, which is a little stupid if you think about it. I have had cover art request forms, marketing forms, the obligatory W-9, style guides, etc.

When someone tells you that the easy part of writing a novel is the actual writing of it, I assure you that it is absolutely the truth.

Another thing I didn't expect was the formatting and style rules that would be imposed on me. Since my novel will start its life as an eBook, some of the formatting rules are understandable -- certain things will, paraphrased from the words of my editor and her colleagues, give the code vertigo or make it want to drink  whiskey.

This involved omitting certain characters (symbols on the keyboard, not people in the story), no indents, double spacing after a paragraph, single spacing after sentences, etc. (I'm not sure if this is standard for every publisher, but if you're thinking of writing a novel, it's something to consider and research. I'm horrified that, during all my research, I neglected this *ahem* detail).

That was painful because I used the tab to indent. So, I had to go through about 350 pages and correct every single tab-indent in the document and double space between paragraphs. Since it was for formatting, it wasn't something I could finagle with Word and make pretty. It had to be done manually.

Now you may understand the title of this entry.

The only other thing that really bothered me was what seemed (and still does to an extent) an arbitrary rule from the backside of Satan himself. In a m/m (usually romance) novel it's important to always know who is doing what and who is speaking. Anyone can understand that (and it's not limited to m/m novels). However, this publisher has a rule regarding pronouns that essentially gave me cholera, shin splints, arthritis, Hanta, and scurvy. *cackle* (Please do not take that literally. Could you imagine me trying to hobble into the ER with those ailments? "Hel... *cough, fall, die*")

I don't know how much is proper to mention, so let's wrap this up by saying that the edits I got back -- as in the things my editor specifically thought needed altering, enhancing, or elucidating -- were relatively few. However, because of these aforementioned rules, I had to go over the entire novel, paragraph by paragraph, and make adjustments, whether it be to the tabs or to comply with the pronoun rule. (A moment of self defense here: I don't think the pronouns were out of control or that their references got lost, but I figured it was better to comply if it didn't change the style, tone, or timbre of the novel, which it didn't. And clarity is rarely a bad thing).

Did I learn something? Lord, yes. Will I use it in my further writing, even if I don't stay with this publisher forever? Absolutely. As much as I protest, do I see the literary wisdom in MOST of the changes? Yes.

However, as with any time I write, I fear I may have gone in and over-edited. Fixed things which weren't broken. So, I am requesting a second editing cycle (bless my editor, she's been so amazing through this process and hasn't tried to have me killed yet), and rest in the faith that there will be fewer changes to make and therefore the process will be easier the second time around.

To squeeze into the time frame I was given and to have time for that second editing round, I had to sleep, eat, wake, and dream about editing. (Yes, I had dreams of pronouns assaulting me, their sharp edges and lack of clarity making them like drawn ninjas with the power to annoy). I finished in what I thought was good time, despite my computer having an aneurysm on me during the home stretch and switching the colors of the tracked changes in the document.

I took today off, but I will have to get back on that proverbial diseased nag and get to the paperwork tomorrow. While I wait for my new round of edits I will edit the short story I might have mentioned in an earlier post.

This may be weird to say, but I consider deadlines challenges, and the whole editing process, this whole writing thing in general, has been a high unlike anything I have ever known. I don't want to stop it, and think I may do my best to stay in motion. Launch from this novel to that short story, into more edits, and from there into the next novel (not in the series, but in general). During all this I hope to post more here, and not just about that one-note trick I'm apparently not so bad at.

This summer, however, will be a challenge. This project will end, and it will be the culmination of a dream years in the making. Of course, then I have to face the idea of possible reviews and sales. Terror incarnate. If I don't have something to leap onto when that ends, I may fall into the cracks.

One dream ends and another starts on the day my first novel will be published -- August 21st.

Impending...something

Shortly after my rambling, apparently unpopular last post, where I discussed the circlings of my mind (mostly the Tudor dynasty, X-men, sci-fi novels, and half nekkid boys), I realized why my brain was in overdrive.  After all my lamenting about whether or not to wait for the impending edits on my *Jesus light* first novel before writing anything new, my mind seemed to short circuit. I was unable to focus on anything at all.  Even the mindlessness of video games was too much for me.  My greatest joy was watching SyFy movies like Swamp Shark, Sharktopus, Malibu Shark Attack, Alligator X, and all those others. Also, they were, all I could focus on.

The reason?  Well, to make a lame comparison to the movies I was watching, my mind was circling like a hungry shark around my next novel idea.  Each of the subjects I was bouncing on had some part, large or small, in my thought processes, ideas, inspirations, and plot points for the new stuff.  It was like I was too stupid for my own brain - I'm hardly Encyclopedia Brown, and it took all that time to figure out what my brain was trying to tell me.

When I realized that, things kicked into "normal" mode.  Scenes started haunting me, I dreamed about the characters, I woke out of pre-sleep with the name for something I had been thinking idly about (and without intellectual fruit).  I started making notes on a time line (as there will be more than one), wrote a scene, and then...

I received another e-mail from my editor.

She was just touching base with me (which I love) and to tell me that she should have my first round of edits done very soon.  How soon?  Well, today or tomorrow, not to put too fine a point on it.

I'm thrilled and totally dismayed.  I told her that was great news and proceeded to shimmy for most of the day.  She happened to e-mail me on my birthday and, considering that I had chosen that day to switch the gas bill from my ex's name to mine (requiring a shut down and restart and therefore three days without gas), I needed that good news.

But, now I'm back to the same place I was, only worse.  Do I work on the new idea?  Do I put it off, hoping this desire to work on it will return when I'm done with edits?  Do I work on them both at the same time and hope neither suffers?  Most likely I will go back to the planning stages and refrain from the actual scene writing for now.  Once I'm done with the first edits, maybe I will be ready to spring back into the new stuff with all the groundwork done.

That's not my real problem, though.  It's my nerves.  This is the next big step and though I'm incredibly excited, I'm also anxious.  I have checked my e-mail several times today and been both anguished and relieved when there was nothing new in there.  Part of me wants my editor to rip me to shreds, to be kind but brutal, to take it apart, cut it up, and put it together and make it as good as it can be.  I don't want it to be "good enough".  I want it to be as good as possible.  But I can be fragile and sensitive at the same time.  Criticism is difficult to take, especially when it's something you care about.

However, it's something I'm gonna have to get used to.  It's not like once it goes out into the world it's going to be universally embraced and loved by everyone.  In my last post I discussed one of my favorite books ever, The Snow Queen by Joan D. Vinge.  It won the Hugo award and its successor was nominated for one.  They don't just give those away.  Yet it has its detractors.  Some of Stephen King's best work is routinely bashed.

The classics will eternally be manhandled by the ignorant and the young.  Who hasn't heard some school kid complain that The Scarlet Letter or Lord of the Flies or Pride and Prejudice are "boring" or "hard to understand" or "stupid" or "OMG, a total waste of time!"?  (Granted, these are usually the folk who think the Twilight "Saga" is the epitome of literary grandeur.)  The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is pooped on regularly for the dumbest of reasons (suspension of the smallest amount of belief in a story which calls itself "a fable", usually).  Hell, even The Diary of Anne Frank gets people saying it's boring or not good or they couldn't get into it.

So, I'm bound to be trashed if these wonderful books are.  There are going to be people who don't like talking and want more sex (request denied!).  There are going to be people who don't understand parts of it, relationships within, parallels, or anything about it (the eternal justification of a spurned "artist", right?).  Some people won't like it at all and will be particularly vocal about it.  I have to be ready for that.

So, my (hopefully) thick skin will have to get thicker.  I will have to center on my desire for the best possible outcome.  I will have to learn to eat critics on toast with strawberry jam.

Of course, I am way ahead of myself here.  For now, I just have to breathe, do my time lines for the new, relax, wait for the old/current, and hopefully prepare to be shredded.  Is it masochistic of me to be excited?

The Long Road to Publication

There comes a time in every wannabe writer’s life where he has to, in the most vulgar of words, shit or get off the pot.  I’m not so old or so entrenched in my life where I have to get off that pot, but I started to feel that way. In reading Stephen King’s On Writing, he mentions that you sometimes get to a point where you read books that make you sort of grimace and say, “Hell!  I can write better than this.”  I have run into this before (I have listened to the audiobook for Flowers in the Attic, after all), but during a frenzied period of reading I ran into at least three books that made me seriously say, “Look.  These assholes are actually published—people are paying them to write—and I could wipe my ass and churn out something more palatable than this.”

Yes, my thoughts are as charming as my writing.  Little filtering here.

During this time, I happened to run into a book about gay werewolves which intrigued me.  Before this, nothing about werewolves interested me unless they were attacking, maiming, and killing.  This book made me look at them in a different way.  So, I read another gay werewolf book.  And another.  And another.  And so on.

Some had plot holes which were so ghastly and gaping that they made me groan and want to spit up.  Another was entirely charming, had endearing characters, and was funny.  I read that one again and loved it again, and it started me thinking of werewolves in a different light.

Another was well written in that the prose was poetic and flowing and in some cases beautiful.  The dialogue, however, was eye-roll inducing.  It was so antiquated and the setting so vague that it wasn’t until she mentioned a car that I knew it wasn’t written in the year 1740.  It wasn’t until later, where certain other details about the car were mentioned, that I was able to confirm that it was supposed to be a contemporary novel.  Then the sex scenes, sparing at first, started flooding in.  They were bad, they were pervasive, and they were obviously put in as filler.  There was a second novel I did not bother with.Hell noSome of the others I read during that time don’t bear talking about.  Not all concerned werewolves, and most were good, but there were two that really astonished me.  Someone accepted and paid for this stuff (I count myself among their number).

Now, I love bad novels.  I love bad SyFy movies.  Novels with this cheese factor are personal favorites.

Awesome

But some of the gay books I read in that time made me think I could do better, however egomaniacal that may sound (and I know it does—you’ll have to forgive me).  I have respect for anyone who can conceive, plan, structure, sit, and write a novel.  It’s a huge dedication, an enormous act of creation to make up lives which have never been, and anyone who has finished a novel has my admiration and respect.

So, I decided to write my own.  I have been writing all my life, but with all the gay and werewolf in my head, I decided to try my hand at that.  Within three months I was done and, though I had never meant for it to be published, I decided to try to get it out there anyway.  I knew it wasn’t great, I knew I could do better, but I had been reading such crap that I thought this would be acceptable.  I tried my hand out at being a hack, basically.  It’s not something I’m proud of.

I submitted the novel to a publisher and was rightfully, justly rejected.

denied

The editor who rejected me was wonderful, kind, and explanatory.  She said my characters were charming, but that I introduced too many in too short of a time.  (I counted later.  10 in as many pages.  Ugh.  It’s embarrassing, frankly.)  She gave me more good advice and recommended other publishers I might try.  She was so helpful, going way above and beyond what an editor rejecting work needed to or should do.  She gave me some other advice and every last bit of it was true.  Every part.  (I found out later this was the best kind of rejection—feedback, advice, and help combined with an admonition to keep writing and a welcome to submit to that publishing company again.  I had a brief correspondence with Piers Anthony, a childhood idol, who put my experience on his site, mentioning that my experience was very rare).

I did not try to submit this story elsewhere.  I abandoned it, but not the characters.  I loved the characters, but I had phoned in that novel and I wasn’t proud of it.  I decided that the story I had hacked into was really the third story in that group of characters, so I should start at the beginning.

So, I wrote again and this time I put no limits on myself, not for length, character, thoughts, language, or subject matter.  Three months later (it seems to be a standard length of time for me) I was done.  I was very proud and I thought that it was pretty close to what I was capable of doing.  I thought it was good, so I put it away and worked on something else.  I came back, edited, put it away.  I read it again and sent it to five trusted friends (some writers, some readers, some brutal jerk-faces whose opinions I valued).

sts_jerk_face_tee-rbd05e80eeddc4b8d87c5657c4ea764e7_804gs_512

The response was very positive.  One friend actually wrote her reactions down as she was reading, and sent them to me in a document.  This became a beacon of honesty and a source of strength for me in the upcoming months.  Another friend was basically a line editor.  He was tough (he would be in the jerk-face category), but he was usually right.  They both commented about the language usage and both liked several passages I was particularly proud of, which still gratifies me to no end.  One was a reader and didn’t notice particular passages but gave me story critique.  And so on.  I took all the criticism and praise and edited again.

I felt I was ready to submit again.  This project had gone from something to get myself out there and get my foot in that proverbial door, to something I believed in.  Without those constraints, without those limitations I put on myself I had done better.  However, the original place I submitted to had a word limit at the time.  They would not accept anything over 120k words.  My novel was close to 150k.  I managed to get it down to about 145k, but I felt that setting up the world and the characters needed that room.  Editing out an additional 25,000 words would have been difficult.

So, I decided to change tactics.  The characters felt real and it was getting emotional responses from the wonderful, cold bitches I lovingly call my friends.  The plot concerned bullying, acceptance, change, someone rising up from the mire of his own self-loathing and allowing himself to fight and be loved.  He just happened to be a gay werewolf with the stigma of having a third, more violent Hybrid form.  One of the characters in the rejected hack novel was very young in this one and still one of my favorite characters.  I really liked and believed in the novel as a whole (and unlike almost all other gay novels, there was no expressly described sex scenes.  I can't with that.  It gives me angina).

I decided to go for an agent.  I browsed Writer’s Market online and made a list of about 11 agents who took gay novels and listed them in descending order.  I wrote a query and a synopsis.  (The most ghastly, awful torture possible for any writer ever.  There are thousands of websites dedicated to mastering the arts of writing these.  All good advice, and it is still very difficult to do.)

I was rejected 6 times in rapid succession.  All form letters, and all within days of submitting.  This usually means that they read the blurb (similar to what you would read on the back of a novel) and realized it wasn’t for them.  I got no personal feedback.

My ego was crushed.  Humility set in.  Doubt came with it.  And then a brutally hot summer settled in (I hate the heat) and the anniversary of my grandmother’s death happened at the same time.  My insides were an Unholy Trinity of horror.

Like this, but not as pleasant

After about two months of watching Disney movies, laying around dazed, and listening to music to always distract myself, I slowly came out of it.  I rewrote the query letter and synopsis.  The will and strength it took to do this and start sending my novel out again cannot be understated.  Was I as good as I thought I was?  Was I still a hack?  Was this dream I had for so long really a dilapidated shack in the sewers of seventeenth century France and not the castle in the clouds I had hoped for?  Were my friends being kind?  I didn’t know.

So, I sent it out again.  I was rejected four more times.  One jerk didn’t even bother with a form letter.  He said, “Not for me—thanks anyway.”  That was it.  My personality kicked in then and kicked the last vestiges of depression out.  That rejection made me sit up and say, “Fuuuuuuuuuck YOU!”  It was unnecessarily rude, short, and audacious considering this man’s web site was literally the last on my list and looked like it was designed by a blind, special-needs fourth grader.

Your web master

One agent has yet to give me the courtesy of a response.  Another I had given up on during my depression got back to me months later with a jerky response I disregarded immediately.  If you can’t get to your stuff within six months when there are other agents who represent bestselling authors who were able to get back to me within days, and then you have the unmitigated gall to be rude, I can’t take you seriously.  (I aimed high at first, I admit, but why not start at the top and work your way down?  Who knows what could happen, right?)

Then one of the agents rejected me with a personal message which seemed to confirm what I was thinking all along—that with the travesty of Twilight, agents were simply over all things werewolf, and with the gay added in, the audience was that much more limited.  This agent told me, “You are a good writer, but this project doesn’t call to me.  Good luck.”  If I’m a good writer, then it probably really is the project and/or subject matter.  Most agents didn’t have time to read the sample chapters sent.  They read the blurb, weren’t interested, and passed it on.

So, I changed things up a bit.  I started researching publishers, retooled the synopsis and query, and made a list of top ten publishers specializing in or having gay book lines I could get into without an agent.  As with the agents, I put the publishers in descending order of most- to least-desirable.

I got an acceptance from the first publisher I sent my novel to.

I checked my e-mail at work, saw that I had an e-mail in the writing e-mail address I was using, and thought, “Well, on to the next on my list.”  I checked the e-mail and I think I actually let off an electric current through my body—anyone who touched me would have been electrocuted.  “We reviewed your story and would like to take it for publication as a novel, if it’s still available.”

Are you kidding me?  It’s so available, I’m practically a hooker!  Take me!

Available

I signed the contract, reviewed the materials sent to me, and waited.  And waited.  And waited.  I knew publishing took a long time, but it was taking forever!  I contacted them just to get an idea of what I should expect and the very patient, very kind author liaison informed me that my editor-to-be (such a thought!  Still gives me chills!) is assigned to my novel in August.  For a new author who is new with a publishing company, I think this is pretty standard.

So, I wrote a short story for them (for an anthology) in about a week (honestly, about two or three days of sporadic writing).  The cutoff date was March 1st and I submitted it the night before.  It was a retelling of The Little Mermaid with the mermaid being a merman.  I thought it was pretty good, but I don’t think 8,000 words was enough to cram all I wanted to in there.   I was told a few days later that the anthology was already full, but that if I wanted to run it through a beta reader (How did she know I hadn’t?!  Was she watching me?  *paranoid*) and resubmit it for their general short story line, “please do so.”  It was a rejection and it wasn't, precisely.

The lesson—don’t skip the steps, asshole.  *cackle*

I have not resubmitted it yet.  I plan to.  I was (and remain) rather fond of it.  From the time I submitted that hurried abortion of a novel the first time and had the good fortune to run across an astute and kind editor (whose instructional and generous words also sustained me through that awful summer), I have found my lost voice, I have come to a place I want to be, and I am apparently churning out stuff with decent quality.

Think of the contrast in my summers—one spent mired in self-pity and sadness, the next working with an editor on my first novel.

The change and the happiness is mind boggling.  I'm ready!

Dreams…made from ether and the fluff of madness

I decided to share this little gem with everyone, mainly because I don’t generally write small entries (wordy mutha…), and because I haven’t written anything in a while. When I say that my waking mind is a fountain of randomness, I mean it.  My subconscious mind is therefore a thing to terrify, annoy, and bewilder.

My dear friend Zhaviera is here to visit for a few weeks to—as she puts it—to “blaze a lusty trail” through the state.  My other friend Beverly is…special.  I have known her longer than any non-family entity in my life and she has always had some strange platonic fascination with goats.  One of her more delectable phrases of the past is to add “…and the goat you rode to town on” to almost any sentence.

So, last night I finished listening to the audio book for The Lodger, read by Lorna Raver, who does a magnificent cockney accent as the characters speak.  If you haven’t read this book, I suggest doing so…it was written in 1913 by Marie Belloc Lowndes, a woman who lived through the Jack the Ripper scare and was inspired by the thought that someone somewhere had to know, had to know who he was.  (It’s free on Amazon for the Kindle, people.  Just DO it!)

Point is, Lorna Raver does this accent so well that it was stuck in my head when I tried to go to bed.  So, in an attempt to get that out (and to read a good book), I read the third installment of the Hunger Games, Mockingjay.  Because that heifer Suzanne Collins is such a good writer, she manages to end every damned chapter on a cliffhanger.  So, I read until my eyes informed my brain that if they were forced to process one single sentence more, they would send my sphincter a strong message to deploy and release.  (This is an exaggeration.  Please do not think that reading causes my bowels to spasm uncontrollably).

I put the book down, but not before jumping forward a few pages to see how the cliff hanger ended.  I passed out, tossed, turned, and had odd dreams.  However, my eyes were still bitter apparently, for I turned one too many times, and they sent the aforementioned defecation signal.  Bleary-eyed and half asleep, I obeyed the commands of my body, grabbing my phone on the way.

I am deeply obsessed with two games on my iPhone—The Simpsons: Tapped Out, and Hay Day.  Choosing beneficial tasks for my Springfield characters seemed too mental for me at the darkest ass crack of dawn, so I decided to jump over to Hay Day to plant a few crops, milk some cows (who seemed to be in the same predicament I was in), and collect some eggs.

I went up a level and attained the elusive Lever 32.  What does that mean?  I could finally get goats!  And goat milk!

So, I went to bed after the bathroom stuff was over and went to sleep.

My dreams were super fucked up.  All these things combined into one globular mass.  I was on the run from a killer, trying to shoot goats with a bow and arrow, but Zhaveria was trying to cook using their milk instead of water, while the goats protested in a cockney accent, and Beverly clapped her hands and giggled like a special needs child, saying, “GOOOOOOOATS!”  *clapclapclap*

Welcome to my mind.