Daily Archives: June 13, 2010

I’m not the only one!

I registered for this contest but never got around to entering it. It was pretty well put together, though, and I would have liked to have been more on the ball for it. (One problem is that, as a contractor, I tend to change employers frequently, and I tend to write during the workday, so working at the same coffee shop for more than a few months at a time is a rarity.)

But in any case, the winner is Ranjini George Philip, and she works in a coffee shop in Clarkson — right near me! And she says:

I’ve been a coffee shop writer for a long time…┬áThere’s a lot of solitude and I find I work better when there is a buzz of noise around me.

Well, that makes at least two of us. Anyhow, I’m off to check this place out. And maybe… do some writing.

How I Landed an Agent (part 5)

It took about two months.

I got an e-mail from Carolyn’s assistant sometime in April, saying that Carolyn was still looking at the manuscript but would get back to me about it soon. She was going away for the next week and would contact me when she got back.

I was pretty sure at this point that it was in the bag. If not, why wouldn’t she just say no? But I was also pretty sure that, if she was taking this long, it must be positive — sure, she’d probably have things she’d want me to change,

It took another long, tense week or two before she finally e-mailed me with the verdict.

First, she thought the second half of the book really “galloped along” — which was great to hear! I was happy with how I’d worked the pace of the second half, and thought it was pretty good myself.

Second, she enjoyed the experience of “reading what seemed to be a ‘book’ rather than a ms with potential.” HUGE praise — I think the highest compliment I’ve received for my writing.

And finally, if I was “willing to take a chance,” she would send me an agency agreement.

Er, yes, I do believe I will take that chance!

From thereon things went just fine. I’ve started (and nearly finished) the sequel, and Carolyn has started to try to sell this little series I’ve got going. Everyone seems to be happy with the whole arrangement — and of course we’ll all be happier when the book, or the series, gets sold.

I’ll follow up soon with a bit on what I think this whole experience has taught me.

Finding More Time

Yesterday I restarted my time-honoured tradition of sneaking away from work to do some writing. I remembered to bring my lunch for once, and around 1 pm I snuck away for my “lunch” hour. There’s a nice Second Cup only 5 minutes’ walk away, and it’s not very busy at all. I got over 600 words written in the hour I had.

The writing is going remarkably well at this point, partly because I’m starting to move into the fast-paced part of the book, and partly because I sat and chatted with an uncle on Sunday about my family’s own sordid past — bootlegging, bookmaking, and so on. Lots of material there to use, but it probably won’t be till next book that I start to use it.

The inspiration is useful but what was really interesting was writing a conversation between the main character and the antagonist for the novel. At this point, the main character has figured out that the bad guy is the cause of all his troubles, and he’s confronting him about it for the first time. I modelled their conversation on one I had with a former business associate, after I found out that he had been playing unfairly with me for the couple of years I worked for him. (He’s outright cheated other people who work for him, which is much worse, but I didn’t get into that; I stuck to my own personal complaints.)

For me, the interesting side of it was that I got to go over what was a very difficult conversation in great detail, and think about what both of us said and how it affected me. This isn’t something you get to do very often, in real life. Even when you retell the story with others, you abbreviate and summarize and concentrate on a very small number of things that were actually said. The fun with rewriting the conversation was that I got to concentrate on my own feelings at the time, as well as figure out the other guy’s motivations from line to line as well (though I didn’t explicitly state those).

The trick is to remain balanced. Although I clearly had a preference for who was right in the real life conversation I had, if I made it clear that the main character was right and the evil guy was wrong, then it would have been boring. I had to ensure that every assertion the main character made had some doubt attached to it, and everything the evil guy said had some kind of truth attached to it. I knew that the truth would come out eventually, and had to trust the reader to accept the ambiguity for now.

So an enjoyable scene to write, and, I think, an effective scene in the book. There’s a follow-up scene coming soon, too, and I’m really looking forward to that one.

Note: I actually writing started this post four or five days ago; stopped when I had a minor computer crash; and then didn’t get back to it for days. Apparently I need to make even more time…