Still here...

Yes, I am still here. Not in the "writing every night" sense.  I have been pursuing my MBA, and have seven more classes to go - I'll be done by next Spring, thank you very much.  But young and talented Rachel (whose videos you may see below) is closing in on her Bat Mitzvah date. It's just over a week away, and things are fast, furious, and frantic around here.

So, no, I am not writing.  My novel writing status posted on this blog have stalled, but to keep my chops somewhat sharp, I am reading... a LOT. There is always a book on the night table (or on the Nook on the night table) and an audio book in the car.  As Stephen King says, if you cannot write, then read.  And so I do.

I miss the writing, though. Sorely.


Rachel Sings Love Story

Here she is. Rachel playing guitar and singing Taylor Swift's, Love Story at her recital this weekend. She sang through a nasty cold, and only coughed during the first verse!

And because she coughed, she wanted me to record it again at home. She's awesome!


Children of Midian is PUBLISHED!

Woo-hoo! In the midst of the snow, work, family, finishing up my Financial Accounting course (yech), and physical therapy (can you say, L5/S1?), I managed to land the plane that is Children of Midian. The runways required a bit of foaming, but what can you do? In my last post, I talked about the process of rewriting this novel, and promised I'd have it published by January 21st. Well, it is January 21st, and the novel is, by hook or by crook... published.

First, an aside. MRI's. Not a fan. And I generally forget that I am not a fan. Them: Are you claustrophobic? Me: Nope. Then I slide head first into the metallic sausage casing and panic sets in.

Oh no. I can't go through with this. I'm going to press this button. I can't believe this is freaking me out. What am I going to do? Breathe. Think of something happy. Think of what I need to do at work when I get back. Oh, no. Oh, no. CLANK! CLINK! BRRRRRR! CLANK! BRRRRRR!

Yeah, that was my Friday. Any-hoo.... Back to the post...

Children of Midian is an upper middle grade boy-friendly fantasy/adventure, though such a category doesn't really exist on Amazon and the like. So you'll find it in the Young Adult section for the most part. Here's the little bittie pitch for Children of Midian:

When a dark secret thrusts Elliot Hanson into the ethereal land of Midian, the fourteen-year-old army brat discovers friendship in a community of lost children. He also finds a legion of werewolves set against them. Feeding on imagination, these ruthless killers serve an even darker leader who intends to destroy every last child, leaving Elliot with no choice but to fight for all their lives.

And the longer description, which I quite like, questions and all:

How do you defeat the bad guys who exist only because you believe in them? Now, imagine there isn’t a single dull-minded adult around. What would you do now? This is the challenge facing fourteen-year-old Elliot Hanson, an army brat who careens into the ethereal land of Midian from which he cannot return.

Aside from his younger sister, he’s got no friends in their new hometown. Yet, this is exactly what he finds in the children of Midian. He also finds a legion of werewolves set against them by the evil Lycaon. What’s worse, rumors are flying about a weapon to wipe Elliot and his new friends off the map. He can’t let that happen, even if he finds a way back home.

But then Lycaon’s wolves capture his parents, and his sister joins him in Midian. Now, it's no longer just the children of Midian who need help. Can he thwart Lycaon's plans and save everyone before it's too late?

The novel is available on Amazon as well as Smashwords. Smashwoods has all formats - Kindle, Nook, iPod, PC etc, etc.. Once it is accepted into the Premium Catalog, it'll be available from other retailers, including Barnes & Noble.


The Rewrite has Landed

It's quite remarkable what happens when you set out to revise a novel you first wrote years before. At least, it was remarkable to me. I wound up rewriting an absolute ton of the thing. About two years ago, I revised the Children of Midian, but I don't think my heart was really in it. I'd spent far too much time with the characters, having moved onto a second novel of a "planned" trilogy.

The first "final" draft had several problems. First, it was bloated. I can't say it any simpler than that. No matter what I did to the book, it only got longer. I seemed unable to murder my darlings.

I also discovered that the book wasn't quite as YA as I thought. A few agents provided me some excellent feedback on that very point. And so I learned the real difference between Young Adult and Middle Grade. I also found that neither Middle Grade nor YA are tidy little categories. Midian presented some darker themes than one might expect in a MG boy novel. Given the character ages, issues they faced, and some of the "dark matter", this was an upper middle grade novel. Go ahead. Try explaining that in a query letter.

The dawning realization that Midian was MG also led me back to my original problem. The book was already too long for a YA novel from an unpublished author. How was this going to work as Middle Grade fiction?

Novice that I was, I decided to split the first novel into two middle-grade-sized books. Big mistake. I had written one story, not two. Choosing a dividing point was like throwing a dart at a double-pane window. Don't get me wrong. I knew I needed to add a little something to make it "work". I wrote a new chapter to help augment the first half and to let it stand on its own. The end result? Two smaller halves, neither of which really stood on their own.

I wound up stitching it back together before leaving the book for dead a couple of years ago. Yet, the real problems remained. The plot was too confusing. The kids were melodramatic. Elliot--the protagonist--was sort of likable, but he was just kind of... meh. Above all, there was simply too much gunk--too much stuff I had been too stubborn to remove because I thought it was so neat and indispensable.

I picked it up a couple months ago and reread it. Though fairly horrified by large swaths of the what I'd written, I spotted what drew me to write the book in the first place. So, I decided to give revising it another shot.

I once asked my daughter, "What do you do when life hands you lemons?" She was probably eight at the time, but her answer lingers with me. "Suck on 'em." There would be much lemon-sucking, which completely explains the faces I pulled as I went through the process of rewriting the book.

The Peanuts cartoon atop this post is about where my head was at.  Here are random thoughts that swam in my brain during the process.

1. Get to the point already.
2. He's a total wuss. Can't have that. (about the protag)
3. Cute, but who cares? 
4. Kill it.
5. Did you forget you cut that scene? (upon finding references to aforementioned cut scene)
6. OMG - he/she is turning again. (characters kept turning to SEE things)
7. Great. That's the author, not the story and characters.
8. Hungry.
9. You suck. Whose idea was this?
10. Hey, look, the word-count is way down.

I'm on track for the planned release date on Smashwords to start - 1/21/2012