Monday, December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas

Just a quick post, to say Merry Christmas to all of my new friends out there. For me, 2009 was a special and important year for the Wilkster: I met some absolutely incredible people via the virtual world, and I advanced tremendously as a writer. Through painful setbacks or those days when the words came out right, 2009 became a very important period of time in this man's life.

So to all of you who have commented on this blog and to all of you who have privately helped me along (I'll not go into names, but I believe you know who you are), I wish nothing but the best this Holiday season and hope you know that your friendship and mentorship, has not been taken lightly.

All the best,

Friday, December 18, 2009

This Ramblin' Man Wakes Up

Just like Waylon Jennings. I'm doing a lot of running around right now: road trips, head trips- you name it. My mind has been on autopilot for some time now and yesterday, while browsing in the book store in my usual mental nothingness, something hit me in the back of the head. Hard. It was my ego. It was telling me to get off my ass and get to work. You've let that pile of paper and that flash drive, eat at you and fester long enough.

Part of this revelation, was the result of the query letter. That's right, the query letter. I was taking another look at it and I realized that it just never looked quite right. But why? It's because my book has a main plot and several sub-plots and they are all critical to the story. I could never get this across in a brief query. In fact, I learned something important and that is maybe you, the aspiring writer, should write the query for your novel at the beginning of the process. It's a quick way to find out if what you'll be writing makes sense. If you're at a sticking point, it might be worth a shot.

My rejection slip said something to the effect of: "The plot is not all that believable and at least two of the three characters, need better descriptions." Like I said, to the effect of, but not exactly. Ive been stewing over those words and now I see what they mean. I need to fully cement which plot is the main plot and then back it up to the hilt. It needs the same attention, that I've been giving towards the emotional makeup of the characters. That equals just short of a ton and is a critical point I've been missing.

In terms of characters, I know I can do better after letting the work sit and now re-evaluating the first few chapters. One of the three main characters, and the main character at that, is ambiguous. We're not supposed to know that much about him, not supposed to know how we feel about him. But do I put that out there in the opening pages, for people to get that picture of him from the word go? I mentioned their mental makeup, but what about these characters as living, breathing people? Answer: I dropped the ball in that department, but can easily fix it.

I've just printed out the first six chapters. Over the break, instead of trying to interject small pieces to the original, I'm going to write a new alternative beginning. I'm going to re-think and then re-work the plot(s). I'm going to write as many word as it takes (I'm at nearly 83k right now), to get it all across and then I'll begin stripping out anything that is not useful. Along the way, I'll interject the feedback I get from a few trusted and unbiased souls.

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 14, 2009


In less than a week's time, I'll be off to Kansas to visit the folks, which means a lot of driving to get there and even more in the way of eating and drinking once I'm there. I accomplish little else during these vacations and this year will most likely prove to be no different. Not a big deal. What I will be doing a lot of though, is considering where to send my writing in 2010. Of course when I say "send", I'm talking about venues for exposure, publication, etc. for both short stories and the novel I'm working on.

A consideration in all of this, is will these venues help gain me the exposure and critical experience I need, as I work towards becoming a publishable writer. When you start looking at the outlets for writers of the short story, in terms of magazines, ezines and so on, the number of them available for submission is staggering. It's easier to get your feet wet on the internet, because many of the zines get back to you in a fairly timely manner. Most of them also get tons of hits, are run by top notch people and populated with some really good talent. I wouldn't be here today without them.

So we all know about the great blogs, and sites that are out there, and what I wrote above, was no revelation. Didn't you know, that I would have an ulterior motive? Here goes: I would like to ask a favor, of those who are so kind to frequent this blog. If you happen to read some of my work online, please feel free to comment, er, freely. Here's where I'm going with this. You've just read one of my stories. It was just so-so in your opinion. That's cool. Only, and I'm dead serious with this, rather than not comment at all, feel free to add something like the following: "I like how you did this, but you might want to work on these things with your writing..." If you don't feel comfortable saying this in the comments section, by all means send me an email.

I realize asking the above is huge and can make people uncomfortable. But I'm to the point at which I like to hear what's right with my work- trust me, those comments kept me going when I was ready to give up- but I now also desperately need to hear what's wrong with it also. I'm not saying I need to hear an asshole say "you suck" just because he can- hell, I can hear that anywhere (and do). No, I want constructive criticism that will improve my writing and prepare me for the world of query rejection that comes with this craft. Then I want to take that rejection and improve. I'm finding that a writer who desires to be published, has no use for rose colored glasses.

So what's the plan for 2010? In reality, chances are that I'll write no more than 5-6 short stories for 2010. While I love the format and wish publishers would once again open the door to the short story, I've found that I prefer the novel format. Not only that, but my last short and arguably my best, took me upwards of six weeks to really nail down. If that's the amount of time it takes for a good story to gestate, then why mess with a good thing? You don't. But you have to pick your battles and for now, working on the novel wins out. I must give this novel, my absolute best.

On that note, said novel is on the first leg of a hardcore critique tour. I hope to have enough feedback, that I'm able to make changes and start sending out serious queries by Summer of '10. If it takes longer, then so be it. In the meantime, I've another novel started and I'm enjoying the time off from the previous. Honestly, I'd been over that first novel so many fucking times, I just couldn't stand to look at it anymore. Having time off from it, can only prove beneficial and working on this new piece, is like taking a bare-assed trip into a new world.

As with all of my ramblings, I look forward to your input.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tagged For A Story Virus...Finally, The Non Dripping Kind

My buddy David Barber, tagged me for this virus. I've never done something like this before, but it's fun as hell. Rather then go through it all, I'll give you the gist, off of David's blog:

"I was tagged today by MRMacrum, who had been tagged by Cormac Brown, who had been tagged by I, Splotchy, who started this thing off.
Click on Splotchy first to get the gist of things, then read Cormac's and then MRMacrum's." From there, you'll get to where David went with his.

Here's my addition:

Amid the chaos, this guy was cool. He owned pinache. As the crowded mall was swimming in hysterics, Blanco strolled nonplussed.

The lady pointed. Jenkins turned. He closed his eyes, breathed and opened them again.

He saw the man coming towards them. He was maybe 5'10" tall, black suit, angular build. But it wasn't that he was so nonplussed that startled Jenkins, it was his complexion. He was the first albino, that Jenkins had ever seen in his life.

Blanco was now in front of the security guard and the woman. He always stunned people, especially those who had never seen an albino before. He smiled. She screamed. He touched a point, just below her ear and she fainted. He managed to catch her before she hit the ground.

Jenkins had a string of saliva, stretching from his bottom lip to the floor. The albino offered him his handkerchief. Jenkins accepted. He didn't know what else to do.

"Jenkins!" his radio was screaming. "Goddamnit, are you..." Jenkins threw his radio down. The albino adjusted his Tag Hauer watch.

"My brother is at it again, I see?"

Jenkins looked at the lady, then back at the albino. "She acted like she knew you."

"I suspect she just noted my extreme confidence- happens all the time. Now, about my brother..."

"But, who are you?" Jenkins asked.

"So sorry- busy day. Blanco's the name."

"Which one is your brother?"

"Both, I'm afraid. However, I only claim, well, I call him Super for short...public perception and all. The other one does nothing for the family name."

Blanco then noticed something on the ground. "Ah," he said and walked to it. And casually leaning down, he stuck his finger in the green blood, put it to his tongue. He nodded, made a pistol with his forefinger and thumb, pointing it at Jenkins.

Jenkins eyes rolled. He hit the ground like a side of beef. An eyeball dis-lodged from it's socket.

Blanco winced- the eyeball was an accident. He then looked at his watch, wiped the blood off his finger.

"Well, I'd better take care of those two. Again," he said, only to himself while shaking his head. "Every damn Christmas, it's the same thing."

He produced a bored fart noise from his mouth, which echoed his mood. He then cracked his neck and disappeared. If he hurried, he could still make his pedicure.

That's it for me. Now I tag:
Christopher Grant

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Over At Ligature Marks...

Gulf Coast Swimmer, story of mine that you may remember from a few weeks ago, will find it's way there in January. Dave over at Ligature Marks is doing some exciting things within his site: author interviews, film, fiction, etc. He is also currently taking submissions for his January premiere issue. So if you're looking to find another outlet for your work and would like to expand your readership, head over and check it out.

By the way, I found out about Ligature Marks, over at Sandra Seamans site- My Little Corner. Besides here obvious chops as a writer, Sandra does and absolute top-shelf job of searching out and posting all kinds of resources for lazy people like us. I'm sure most of you have been to Sandra's site and gained from it. If you haven't, I would recommend checking it out. Either way, make sure and tell her thanks.

Over at A Twist of Noir and Thrillers Killers and Chillers, they are looking for Holiday infused prose. Yet because they are the big dogs out there and if like me, you are at their sites several times a day, you probably already knew that.

And before I forget, Paul "Mr. Prolific" Brazill is adding columnist to his list of achievements with I didn't say that, did I?. Check him out over at the new site, Pulp Metal. If Paul is involved, you know it will be good.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Story in Transition

I'm getting a lot of writing done today. In particular, I've gone back to work on a story previously sent out to a couple of different places in the past, with no reply. I've been letting it simmer for a couple of months and now, looking at it objectively, I can see why it was ill recieved, but cannot really explain it. It's just...lacking. Not in lenght or the idea of the story, but rather how it functions.

I'm trying a couple of different tactics to improve the flow, using different narrative viewpoints. This may also offer a new twist to the story, allowing the reader to be more involved in seeing the characters and feeling the atmosphere. We'll see if it works and if it doesn't, I can alway revert back to the original narrative and start from scratch.

I will say that this piece is a little more risque, in parts, than some of my other stuff- you should have seen the rough draft! How bad was it? When Hustler rejects your work as "too explicit", well, you know you've got some work to do. But the final draft will not be an out and out porn fest and the deviant behaviour involved, will absolutely be a critical key in progressing the story and defining it's characters. In other words, it concerns a moral delima we may all face at some point in our life, but would rather not admit we could be actually be tempted by. When the reader is finished and puts themselves in the shoes of the main characters, I want them to be uncomfortable. I want them to say, "that could never happen to me," with the afterthought that maybe it could.

(Note: I did not actually send it to Hustler, even though at one point, it would have easily qualified. I will however keep a copy of the rough draft for um, casual reading on those lonely winter nights...)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Making a Connection

God, I've been doing a lot of reading, listening to a lot of old country music, tons of thinking and very little writing. This isn't unusual for me. As I've alluded to in the past, I'll go through this process for weeks, maybe even months and then I'll write upwards of 2k words a day, for days on end.

What I have been working on, is solidfying the style of writing I not only like, but also suits me as a person. It's very hard for me to write something, that involves little or no human passion. Now that's just me. Some people are brilliant at building a story that is very good, but the characters are neither here nor there. I don't know how in the hell they do it, but they do and I admire them. On the other hand, if I do not feel a direct emotional connection with my characters, I have to let what I'm working on sit until I do feel that connection.

I've got a couple of what I feel are good pieces, that I've written over this past year. A little polishing and they could probably be ready in a few weeks. However, they do not represent me as a writer and how I feel...maybe. I'll have to make a decision to leave them as is, or build on the characters some more. A couple of them are actually pretty hilarious- a real departure, if you've read any of my work to the right, but maybe a little too formulaic. We shall see.