Blog Of Writing +1

My First Query Letter Attempt

So… Hindsight… 20/20… Yadda Yadda.

I imagine the folks at HarperCollins who may have received my manuscript for Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse most likely opened the file for a single moment before deleting it. Harsh right?

No.

In fact, now, I wouldn’t blame them.

I kind of let my excitement and nerves get in the way of rationale and sanity. When I sent it through, first I hoped I’d sent the right file. Second, I hoped I’d sent the right story. Third, I abandoned all hope and wrote the whole ordeal off as a mistake. Back to square one? Don’t mind if I do!

Fast forward… uhh… to a few weeks ago. I started getting Writer’s Digest emails because I’d been looking at their Writer’s Market books. This all stemmed from my partner asking her favorite author, Diana Gabaldon, for some advice on writing for me. She actually replied and with some good tips to boot! On her recommendation, I began to look into the Writer’s Market books but couldn’t take the plunge. Just too expensive in my mind and I couldn’t really get a feel for what they were actually about.

As if by some divine guidance, an email dropped into my inbox.

Now 75% Off! 2017 Writer‘s Market Books!

75%?! That had to be wrong. I mean, I know the 2018 editions are coming soon but 75%? That meant I could get five books from there including shipping and it would cost me less than two of them with free shipping from Book Depository (let’s not even talk local bookstore pricing, yeesh). The order was placed with the support and approval of my lovely partner (who by now was wondering why I hadn’t already bought them).

Shut-up-and-take-my-money

Then, as if guided by the hands of fate herself, the books arrived in record time from the US and just in time for my day off. Not only that but we were informed our house may be ready by the end of next month, which means my writing room could be right around the corner!

As everything falls into place, I began reading the beginning of Writer’s Market 2017 which has a wonderful section about query letters. These are essentially the resume cover letter that we were taught about back in high school, but geared toward the writing industry and your product. It’s not just me I’m trying to sell anymore (yes, I see what I wrote there… close enough) but it’s the story too. Limiting yourself to a single page for all the important details is a fun challenge (read: the tears come at night) but I think I’ve managed.

The question is, what do you think?

<Insert El Editor’s Details Here>

Dear El Editor,

My 98,000 word novel, Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse, is fantasy fiction in the same vein as the Harry Potter series of novels but with a hint of influence from Star Wars as well.

Jefferson is a teen orphan whose feeling of being the outsider leads him to seek out the circus for its oddities and curiosities. Here, he discovers a performing magician, Gabriel, who introduces the boy to the wonders of real magic.

Finding his place in a secret society of magicians, Jefferson walks a dangerous line between the rise of forbidden arts and learning magic. As Gabriel becomes more erratic and dangerous, Jefferson finds he is the key to saving or defeating him.

From cursed magicians and multiple personality disorders to magical battles and time travel, Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse is familiar to fans of fantasy while taking a new approach to the question, “Where does magic come from?”

Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse would ideally fit in with Harry Potter or Dragonlance series of novels. Your website noted that you were seeking out fantasy novels over 75,000 words and this fits those criteria.

I have been writing and editing many of my shorter works for the below website and blog. My short story, Circle of Vengeance, was critiqued and edited more than twenty times before being self-published. You can find this on my website below as well as at lulu.com and on the iBooks store.

As stated in your guidelines I have enclosed the first 30 pages. Thank you for your time and consideration of my novel, Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse.

Sincerely,

TJ Edwards

<Insert My Details Here>

Let me know if there’s anything I could do better! I need all the help I can get!

Also… any tips out there for submitting manuscripts?

Thanks a bunch, as always you folks are legendary!

Blog Of Writing +1

A Brief Hiatus and the Wings of Icarus

Do not fear the title! I’m not going anywhere. No, in fact, it is that I have already gone and during my brief interlude I have cruised through three books.

  1. Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.
  2. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451.
  3. Stephen King’s On Writing.

After completing my second attempt at reading On Writing, I found myself laughing alongside Mr King, even as he described his near-death experience at the hands of an inattentive driver. It took two attempts (roughly four years apart) to actually get through the first half of his book. You see, as a lover of fantasy, I never much admired his writing. The Dark Tower drew me close, but I never really made any connection to the rest of his works. Horror (aside from Lovecraft) does nothing for me. But on this attempt at reading his memoir or his advice, something had changed. Something big. Something called Jefferson & The Magician’s curse.

Four years ago I shut my eyes, shook my head and spat; I didn’t want to hear what this old writer had to say. Sure, he was successful. Sure, he was published. But goddamnit, I just didn’t care about the story of his youth and his struggles. I know, I am a jerk, but at least I’m honest. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t relate to him as a person, it was him as a writer that I couldn’t relate to. Here he was talking about a thousand words a day and living story to story and at the time I was struggling at how to organise my thoughts into an arrow and aim for the target.

It was hopeless.

Then, somewhere along the line, I smashed out a novel. With a quick twist at the end, one novel became two, then three. The antagonist reared his head, beat his chest and demanded another novel. Four. The world that I was building then gave me the question of what happens two thousand years later? Oh man. Another trilogy. The levy had broken and the world was gushing through my fingers and onto the screen. Magicians ran parallel to angels and demons and all ran alongside a fabricated war that was to bring about the extinction of the human race.

*GASP*

I’d never finished a novel before. Short stories were as far as I’d managed and only one was worth sending out into the world. I realised that I could write a novel, no I could write seven… if only someone would pay me for it. This is what sparked my sudden interest in reading again. I needed to know what others did to get there.

Both King and Bradbury did something I never considered. They both got published in Fantasy or Sci-Fi magazines and much like working at McDonald’s or volunteering for experience on a resume, I’d never considered building a writing portfolio of this kind. When I say “of this kind”, what I mean is an actual resume with references and editions and people to give me feedback. I posted all my writing to this blog and it’s only been a problem once when I went to submit one of my posts from my gaming days for a publication. They loved it and wanted to actually publish it, but refused to because I’d already published it myself. A wasted effort in retrospect as for the blog, it got maybe twenty views, but on their website, they get thousands of hits an hour.

Damn it to hell, right?

Back to Bradbury and King and their magazines for a second though. I started jotting down some notes into a new idea, exclusively for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. King himself has been published in there (with The Dark Tower no less) so my interest has been piqued. For some unknown reason, I decided to go through a bag of books I’d bought at a local book fair and lo and behold, what did I find?!

An actual copy of Fantasy and Science Fiction for July/August of 2016!

Some days, it’s hard enough to put one foot in front of the other to get where you need to go. Other days, such as this, the path literally plots itself out for you. Eagerly, I breezed through its pages and found some writing that was high quality. I also found some that I loathed. Best of all though, I found that I already had a story that fit the style and tone of the magazine.

And the peasants rejoiced.

This is a two-fold win! Number one, I have a great new idea for a story that I can still write and use for perhaps another magazine, perhaps for myself. Really, I just can’t wait to write it. Number two, I can test my editing chops (the story itself is fantastic, the writing… *ahem* has yet to be edited) and use an old story that I love. Some spit, polish and love tomorrow (which happens to be my day off, seriously though, timing and props involved… I couldn’t make this stuff up) and that story may actually be ready to be sent off by the end of the goddamn week!

All in all, I’m feeling pretty good. This year has been huge for me and my lovely girlfriend turned fiancee and it just keeps getting bigger. We are building our dream house (complete with writing room)! We got engaged (at Hobbiton, in New Zealand)! More news I can’t post about for at least ten days that is also fantastic for my partner!

The question that remains now though is, do I tempt fate? Everyone has heard of the story of Icarus, the boy who flew too high and his wax wings melted from the sun’s warmth. As we fly high, do I dare push higher? I’d like to think there’s no risk in doing so, but with so many great things going on, it really feels like something has to stop this year from being so incredible.

Or maybe… just maybe… this is our year.

I should make the most of it.

 

Blog Of Writing +1

Forgive Me Bradbury, For I Have Sinned

Not unlike a devout Catholic heading into confession, today I returned to the place where I find my way. To the place where my writing sins can be wiped clean. My holy book.

Ray Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing.

Strangely, I’ve never been particularly drawn to his particular writing style or his stories. I enjoy more in the fantasy vein than science fiction and this has always led me away from his compilations, however, I do have a compilation from Barnes & Noble, bound in leather.

The above book though, Zen in the Art of Writing, is a sort of pallet cleanser. Whenever I am feeling as though writing is too hard, perhaps I should give in, there he is in all of his zest and gusto. Each page is soaked in his passion and as I flip through it for the tenth time, it affects me all the same. A kindred spirit. Someone bound to writing and writing bound back to him. I read of how he wrote, day in and day out. A thousand words minimum. A short story on a Monday, revised each day before being sent away to a literary magazine on a Saturday. Each of these things I want to do, but ironically as things appear easier than ever to accomplish these things… the information seems watered down and less consistent.

I read of how he wrote, day in and day out. A thousand words minimum. A short story on a Monday, revised each day before being sent away to a literary magazine on a Saturday. Each of these things I want to do, but despite it appearing easier than ever to accomplish these things… the information seems watered down and less consistent. More contests require a submission payment while others require you to have a subscription.

Today, I set a challenge.

I have searched up a few free magazines to submit to and have chosen one to attempt to get published in. My choice? Fantasy & Science Fiction. They appear to have a need for Science Fiction and Humor, perhaps I’ll try my hand at both! My plan will be to have a completed 25000 word (or less) short story by the end of the month and then sent away for July. By that goal, I should have my first draft pumped out by Friday (16th of June) and then revised at least three times, in full.

Tuesday just passed, my fiancee and I completed the lighting plan for our new home. As we walked around the perfect floor plan for the top level, I stopped in my writing room for a moment and considered how it would be organised. The thought of a room explicitly for writing is beyond exciting for me as even now I am writing nearest all of my distractions on a comfortable lounge. Not the ideal place for work to get done, but it will do for now. I’ve been trying to nail down a perfect time for my routine and as of now between eleven and twelve at night will be the most consistent. Mornings will not work, as somehow I do not run on coffee.

So, in summary: Forgive me, Bradbury, for I have sinned. I have not written with zest, nor gusto. I have not written consistently. I have only dreamed the dream. Now, I hunt that which is dear to me, with renewed vigor and passion! I lust after publication not just for my back pocket, but because I need to know if I’m there yet; If I’m ready to pursue a career in writing. I want people to join me in my imaginary universe, filled with my imaginary friends!

I want to be an author.

After all, I am already a writer.

Blog Of Writing +1

Investing… In Writing?

We all love spending money, don’t we?

I have probably been a bit frivolous in my spending than I should be, especially with a house being built as we speak.

I love movies. I love games. I love books. I love food. I love pop vinyl figures.

All of these things above cost money and I have absolutely no trouble dropping a tonne on any of those in a heartbeat. Leatherbound book sale? Take my money! New Lord of the Rings pop vinyls? Savings be damned! Favourite restaurant Fridays? Can’t go without!

Then suddenly, my partner’s favourite author recommends a book for a budding writer such as myself and I take one look at the price tag. Fifty dollars?! Is it really worth it? But in the same breath, the Lord of the Rings Balrog pop vinyl is thirty-two dollars and I didn’t even hesitate to buy that.

Why?!

 

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My secret love of Beastie Boys bustin’ out…

 

Some piece of me thinks I am a huge fan of self-sabotage. I can literally justify a piece of plastic over something that will not just improve my craft, but also my understanding of the publishing industry. Even today, I was sent an email in regards to an incredible amount of savings on the Writer’s Market 2017 guide (regular fifty dollars, down to thirteen… even in US dollars, that’s huge… even with shipping) and I had to stop and think about it. I forwarded the email to my fiancee, who has been patiently listening to me talk about this book for the past six months while I toiled over the prices. Finally, I took the plunge (a deep plunge, I bought five books, roughly twenty dollars a piece).

It shouldn’t be this hard. In fact, I’m not sure why I can justify collectables over the books. I have been staring at this book for so long and have read the sample on iTunes, I could probably write it nearly word for word. In a few months I will have invested the most into my writing life that I ever have; A writing room. Originally it wasn’t a part of the house we are building but when my fiancee changed the size of our ensuite, our builder asked if there was anything else I hadn’t asked for. For roughly an extra five thousand dollars, I now have an incredible space fit for only one purpose.

In the meantime though, I am filling in many of the gaps in my world. Building a map. Creating new lore. Tying novels from different times, all together. The unsuspecting character in the prequel? Yeah, he’s suddenly an antagonist in the final novel of the next trilogy.  The protagonist from the first trilogy? Mythological figure in the second trilogy. These ties are not only something that is exciting for me as a reader, but also as a writer!

 

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Me looking for an editor…

 

The worst part is that fear we all have; That we aren’t very good at writing. I’ve sent samples of my work to a few editors, hoping that my novel would resonate with them, but to no avail. Well, at least as of this post I still haven’t heard back from any of them. I’m starting to get desperate for feedback, so much so that I’ve enlisted a guy at work to give it a crack. I’m also considering starting up a Writer’s Group once I move as there is a free community room available and I want to get feedback and get better as a writer. I’d also love to meet some local creative types, but that is all less than half a year away. So close, yet so far.

At some point, I’ll have to actually get an editor. I’m also going to have to seek out a literary agent. After that, I’m going to have to try and get published (preferably with HarperCollins). For now, I’ll just enjoy the whole creative process and wait for my Writer’s Market books to come. After all, Orson Scott Card’s book on writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy may prove quite useful before I go too far!

How’s your writing going out there in the interwebs? Also, are you published? Any thoughts and ideas would be greatly appreciated and thanks for stopping by!

Blog Of Writing +1

Edit or rewrite? What would you do?

After spending what was left of my afternoon reading articles on getting published and how apparently I need an agent for traditional publishing, I began rereading my story. First came the joy of reading what I wrote… I mean, this was my story! My characters!

Then I stumbled over a sentence where I had to change a few words around to give it a better flow.

Suddenly I was whisked away again, on my journey through the nighttime atmosphere of Villenoire. As I followed Jefferson, my protagonist, away from his orphanage and toward the silken tents of the circus, I grew proud of the world I was creating. The funny thing is, the world is still evolving. That portion of the story is very well thought out and my writing is of a commercial quality.

Further along, however, not as lucky.

My descriptions are farther apart than the beginning. The story begins to get dialogue heavy. Suddenly, there are more locations and I begin to wonder… where in the world is this place?

For all of you pantsers out there, take note. This is exactly the problem writing with no plan will get you into. You see, writing with no plan is very liberating. You write one word after the other and for me, I let my characters guide me. I’ve spoken of my method before; Five plot points, and the direction was dictated by the actions of the people. This worked well to get the whole idea down… but now it has left some gaps.

This has left me with the title question: Do I edit or rewrite? Both have their benefits.

Editing would keep the completed story as its current version. As good as that is, it would take quite awhile to fine tune it to the point where everything fits together like a puzzle. For Tolkien, his world included the map, which made everything tangible. If I edit, there could still be some lingering piece of description that I miss. As a perfectionist, that would definitely frustrate me.

Rewriting would carry the benefit of having the story’s plotline in such great detail that if I broke the current novel into points, a rewrite wouldn’t take as long as the initial copy. Also, cohesion would be at its best this way as once the world is fleshed out, I can ensure from page one that everything will be the same and work together. On the other hand, the idea of a rewrite seems daunting… especially when I have seven novels stirring in my brain.

From these brief points, rewriting seems a better way to go… much to my dismay. I mean, no one ever wants to start from page one again. But with that comes the ability to add in further detail to make the world I’m creating a real place. Not only that but if I factor in the other trilogy I have in mind… if it was ever made into a movie it would be awesome for people to point out the ruins of a 2000-year-old Villenoire or other prominent locations from Jefferson’s story. This idea is exciting for me, almost more so than the stories themselves. It’s that world building that got me interested in fantasy novels and video games in the first place, so this is no surprise to me!

Now… as is always the problem with us writing types…

When do I start?

Blog Of Writing +1

Story Genius & Author Accelerator

A few months back I was standing in an independent bookstore, staring at the plethora of books that are always both inspiring and demotivational to a struggling writer such as myself. I was searching for Writer’s Market 2017 (which I now realise I still haven’t bought) and stumbled across a little gem called Story Genius by Lisa Cron. First, I must admit… I hate getting writing advice from someone I’ve never heard of. Secondly, reading the writer’s memoirs from the likes of Stephen King and Ray Bradbury always had the same inspirational/crushing effect on me. Not sure why.

I slid the book from the shelf and weighed it up for some odd reason. It felt light; Could it be that there wasn’t enough printed in it to be worth it? Who knew what I was actually thinking, perhaps this was just some sort of ritual, like two dogs smelling each other. My writing at home was begging for me to come back, the dozens of novels I wanted to read and reread groaning at the idea of another book entering the fray. I flipped through the first few pages, read the blurb and returned to staring at the cover.

Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere)

Ironically not the most concise title for a book on writing, but it was catchy and got its point across. At this point, I’d already finished Jefferson & The Magician’s Curse and was avoiding it like an ex-girlfriend. It needed editing desperately and I simply wasn’t the man to do it. Not then… and not now. You see, the problem I have is one of experience. Of writing? I have roughly two decades of story writing behind me. Of novel editing? Well, roughly three weeks of it before I got fed up and started writing something else.

My biggest problem (aside from editing) is that I was very disorganised when I began writing Jefferson. I broke it down into five parts (Intro, Journey, Antagonist Reveal, Climax and Conclusion) and let the characters take me on a journey between points. There is a lot of dialogue. A LOT. Not as much description though, which removes the reader from the world. That being said, I need to work on introducing those things. I’ve travelled a fair bit since then and hopefully, that will help my writing.

So now, as of today, I’ve submitted my application into Author Accelerator. I’m actually unsure of why I’ve done it or what it will actually entail. I saw pricing on there that was $199 for a 10-week class and I wonder to myself if I’m ready to start spending money on that sort of learning for my writing. Not only that, but 10 weeks will take me straight into the build of my home and I wonder if I will have time to devote to it properly.

For now, I’ll simply wait, for tomorrow is a new day where we will choose the kitchen for our house. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do a bit more editing on my novel. Maybe.

Maybe.

Blog Of Writing +1

The Struggle Is Real

kermit

As you can see, my writing progress has been slow coming this year. I’ve read plenty, but I’m starting to go a bit crazy from not writing… but on the other hand, leaping back in has been overwhelming, to say the least. I’ve been doing a lot of research on how some of the best writers have created their worlds as I’ve been looking for some sort of organisational system I could use. What I’ve really learned is that writers are very disorganised even when we try to be.

Imagine my surprise though when I found out that the current way I’m building my world is close to how Tolkien crafted Middle-Earth. As you’ve seen in some past posts, I’m a bit of a Tolkien fan, so this news was a revelation! I decided to focus all of my efforts (and a few dollars) into finding out as much into his creative process as I could. With books like The Art of the Hobbit and The Art of the Lord of the Rings in my hand, I skimmed them briefly hoping they were the holy grail I’d hoped for. They seem to be not far off!

I feel like at some point I will have to write down my own beginner’s process with the hope that someday it will prove helpful for some budding writer. I mean, originally all of my story ideas were in unique worlds; Some set in fictional histories or futures, while others in fantasy lands. It was the choice to adapt them all to the one world, that began to shape it into much of what it is today.

  • A world where demons live in an alternate dimension tied to the very same world we walk upon.
  • A world where people can pass between the two, only of a particular bloodline but they are hunted by an Inquisition.
  • A world where people are starting to grow older than normal because Death himself has disappeared.
  • A world where a single kingdom is creating a massive, magical army in an effort to unite the kingdoms under a single banner.
  • A world where magic has evolved and flourished for nearly two thousand years.

My favourite things about my world thus far are the characters in it. Jefferson’s trilogy and his story arc has been an incredible journey (book 1, 1st draft complete). His mentor, Gabriel, and how he came to the power of magic in the first place has been fun to figure out (5 chapters in). Lastly, the Tartarus trilogy would be my Lord of the Rings epic with multiple viewpoints and very grey characters (good or bad, who knows?) (50k+ words written into book 1, Pandemonium). I’m enjoying discovering the world I’m creating, but also I’m torn.

Having written nearly two full novels worth of things in the same world, despite them being 2000 years apart, I am struggling to maintain the consistency of the history of the world. I’ve begun compiling the lore and the history (complete with timeline) into its own document so that I can keep tabs on what’s been said. The only problem there is that when you’re on a roll with writing the novel, you barely stop to update the notes. My memory is shocking, but I’m going to try so hard not to leave any massive gaps that people will judge later.

That all being said, I thought I’d pop by here to see how everyone else’s writing is going and reassure you all I’m still alive! Anyway back to editing/writing for me and let me know how you’re going so I can help you procrastinate a little bit more!