Saturday, November 21, 2015

The yellow-brick road of rejection...revisited

Oh, don't be fooled by the title of this post. If you're a writer, then you know all about this: Rejection. I don't mean being rejected by women... Yes, I know the old adage: Rejection comes with the pair.

I am now entering a period where I will submit not just the LAX story, but also The Sprite (if I can ever get it right), and shorter pieces and even a screenplay (or two).

What I can expect is a lot of rejection. I mean, I'm going to get clubbed from every direction by agents, publishers, and little old me. This is not an easy profession I'm in.

Ironically, I've been here before. This is the summer of 2010 all over again. Except it's Fall now and that miserable heat is done (for now).

I had finished a longer project, an Urban Fantasy thing, and was looking to sell it. Just before that, I finished a different project that was part of a series. I had shorter pieces of fiction that I wanted to shop around. I had sent in a few pieces already and a few were rejected but with really nice compliments from the editors. I had but to keep writing and keep sending things in.

Back then, I despaired. My knees buckled. I couldn't deal with the rejection. Mind you, it wasn't that every publishing professional rejected me; I never got that far. It was only a few. That was enough to get through my thin armor and put me down.

That's when I discovered self-publishing and tested this thing with one of my Urban Fantasy projects, publishing it under the guise of Louis Corsair.

Sigh...

Before I completely demolish the Tower, it will cost me that mask. I will miss Louis Corsair. Well, no. Not really. I already got rid of the Facebook and Goodreads account. I don't miss them.


***

But, enough of that. I am here in 2015 and am dusting off my old projects. I'm putting myself out there again. I feel like an old maid trying her hand at dating online.

I already got a few rejections.


Hooray! I'm off to see the wizard.



LC / LA




Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Two Plus, Two minus...

Two Plus

Capital One approved my business credit card today. That means I get a much-appreciated line of credit to help me with writer expenses while I try to sell the LAX story. The first thing I'm going to do is buy a nice suit for conferences and another for meetings with publishers/agents.

I want to look sharp, so both will have to be tailored. Not by my current tailor though; she displeased me last week with an alteration I wanted. One of my library coworkers, who is also trying to enter the publishing industry, told me that many don't wear suits or professional attire at conferences, which I think is to their disadvantage; I always wear a suit to job interviews, regardless of how much the job pays. And going to a conference to woo an agent or publisher is like a job interview.

It's silly to think that these things are important now, but that's where I'm taking my writing career. I'm also looking at options: Another of my library coworkers suggested I try screen writing in addition to prose writing to diversify my portfolio. I agree. I didn't get that degree in cinema studies to waste all I learned. If you recall, I did mention screen writing before, but that was prior to the changes that have taken place in the last few months.

I want to tear down the Tower by the end of this year. All of it. Realistically, I won't get all the way through it, but the important demolition is taking place now.

My new drive outweighs all the things that kept holding me in place, namely my insecurities.

+

I finally nailed the synopsis and got it to one page. Also, I wrote my first few query letters for the LAX story.

Ha!

That doesn't seem like much, huh? Well, consider that I've had a hell of a time with both. The problem? Me. Myself.

A writer is as arrogant as he is insecure. That old voice second guessing me was loud and annoying as it has been since my youth. It fought me for every sentence. Knowing me so well gives it power. But, once I deal with a little problem with the manuscript, a few of those query letters will go out this weekend, possibly Friday.


***

Two Minus


I was done. Done! The manuscript was ready for others to see, even though I kept tinkering with it. But I couldn't get permission from Facebook to let me  use their brand in the novel. I filled out their form for a request, but nothing. Likely, it seems so mundane a request that they won't bother with it.

Just write out the Facebook stuff, then. Right? Ah...the Facebook stuff plays into the plot for a few chapters and doing away with all of that will be even more of a hassle than risking a lawsuit. So, I have to choose between going at it and risk legal problems later or...rebranding. That is, I need to create a fictional social media website to take the place of Facebook in the story.

Snowball effect! My characters also use the Facebook messenger app, so I have to change that too (since my request included Facebook the website and the Facebook messenger app).

Aaaand, since one of the characters is particular to Pusheen (a Facebook messenger user can send a number of poses of Pusheen to others), I have to do away with the six images I used in the manuscript.

Of course, the owners of Pusheen the cat licensed the image to Facebook to use with their messenger, which means I can email them to ask permission too. That means little to me now since it would make no sense to be able to use Pusheen without the Facebook messenger; the whole purpose of creating an imaginary brand is to distinguish it from existing brands to avoid lawsuits. It would be foolish to create an imaginary messenger app used with an imaginary social media website that has a feature found in Facebook and their messenger app.

Headache!


-

My Josephine is leaving ANA tomorrow. That sucks on its own, since I won't get to see her anymore, but as a parting gift she revealed information that proves she's no Josephine at all!

It turns out that she isn't a Josephine (just interested in male friendship). When she said she was single and not looking, she meant not looking for me. She confirmed she has a boyfriend now and has for months (I think).

Ouch! So, it wasn't her. It was me. Mm. I'm not showing up for work at the airport today and tomorrow so I won't see her. I like to think I can salvage some of my dignity by not giving her any goodbye speeches and shedding tears.

Ha!

But...she was part of the Tower. With her leaving the ANA airline, that is a bit of the Tower that crumbled. Supposedly, this will pave the way for opportunities. Not in love. No. Oh, dear Lord no! I'm not going through that mess again.

And, if in the future I'm still hung up on her... Life is long. You never know.

My sincerest wish  is that the next time I come across her, she will have an awesome career and be married to some awesome dude who takes care of all her needs.


***

Back to work!


LC/ LA





Sunday, September 20, 2015

So it goes...

I'm listening to an audiobook version of Slaughterhouse 5 and the guy reading it is all wrong. It's Ethan Hawke (?) and every time he says, "So it goes..." it sounds like he's trying to seduce someone. I'm not sure that's what Vonnegut was going for...

The funny thing is that he's reading the part about wars being like glaciers and trying to stop them is just as easy as trying to stop a glacier. Boy! Talk about dated! I remember an episode of a 1970s  television show that Leonard Nemoy hosted in which he theorized that the world was going to freeze over because those darn glaciers were going to keep going and going and engulf all of human society.

The joke was on them. Vonnegut and Nemoy had no idea that global warming was going to stop all those mighty glaciers! Oh, Vonnegut! As he drove here and there in his car, as he turned on his electronics, as he turned on the lights so he could see his typewriter or whatever he had... He was stopping those glaciers. Goddam! He did a good job at doing it too. We all helped, I'm happy to say.

Ha!

So it goes...

***

And so it goes for me. I'm currently holed up in my mind. I've refused to socialize outside of work. Socializing with my current social circle is part of the Tower I'm supposed to tear down. Spending less time with poisonous acquaintances is part of my healing.

Meanwhile, the heat here gives me little to do except look for agents. I'm researching now. The LAX story is pretty and trim and ready for others to see it.

So, I'm looking for eyes to see it. My Josephine could care less that it's ready and readable, but that's her loss because I think it's funny. I laugh when I read some parts of it. And boy, did I read it. I've read it like twenty times already, front to back. My eyes sweating. My face itching. I read all of it.

On another front, I keep looking at all the other projects that are ready for revisions. I'm working on another one, the one for kids, and finally (I hope) I can push forward with it. I need another 20,000 words on it to make it acceptable as a Fantasy.

So it goes...

***

One of my acquaintance-friends revealed on Facebook that he has a brain tumor and its malignant. Likely, he's going to die from it or the treatment will so horribly crush him that he won't be his cheery self. He's a movie buff and likes rare stuff (I always liked that about him). He always fills his posts with rare anecdotes about this director or that film, most of which I have never even heard of.

The odd thing was that I didn't know what to say when he revealed that to us on the Facebook. The comments were filled with prayers and such, but I'm not religious. I thought about adding to the comments, "Valar morghulis," to cheer him up. But that seemed inappropriate. He would get the joke and laugh about it, but I could just imagine the backlash from his friends who wouldn't think it was so hilarious.

Well, he did something for me. All my little physical ailments seem less severe. I'm not the kind of person to seriously consider suicide, but if I was and I had read that post about his tumor... it would have cured me of that. How dare I complain about aches and discomforts, physical and spiritual! I don't have a malignant tumor trying to kill me, so I'm thankful.

So it goes...

***

I've targeted ten agents to write my first query letters to. I'll be writing personalized letters to each this week and the week after that; likely, they'll reply with form rejection letters to my personalized letters.. Mmm... I'm going to create a folder just for rejection letters and compare them.

My goal is to also go to conferences and pitch this thing or at least show it to agents during those reading sessions they sell. At least they can't give you form rejection letters during those!

Ha. Hahaha. Ha.

I just want to laugh as Ethan Hawke reads Slaughterhouse 5 in his suave voice and reminds me of all those guys who have much better looking girlfriends than the ones I can get now. My Josephine trumps all of them though.

She's not my girl though...

So it goes...

So it goes...

So it goes...


Ha!



LA/LC



Saturday, August 8, 2015

By the numbers...



Mr. Clifton, one of my English teachers in high school, once gave us a piece of wisdom that applies to any writer trying to get the attention of agents or publishers:

If you throw enough shit on a wall, some of it will stick.

And when you think about it, this is the philosophy of life.





















*** 

Okay, the last two weeks of June sucked. July sucked even worse. I didn't get much done and I'm behind on most projects except the LAX story. I'm almost ready to show that to people. I have a working draft now and will be good to go in a week or so...

As such, I will need to write other things for it. One is a query letter; another is a succinct synopsis. Also, I will shine the first few chapters before shinning the others.


Project 1:
100,000+ words

Find 100 literary agents / publishing houses
Goal: Get at least ten percent positive replies
Reality: 100??? I'm likely going to send to ten at first and then improve my query letter when all ten send form rejection letters...

Project 2:
hopefully 50,000 - 60,000 words by August
For younger folk and even adults

Find 100 literary agents / publishing houses
Goal: Get at least ten percent positive replies
Reality: I need to finish this first...



Well, query letters are tons of fun, as are synopses. Many a writer has gone mad writing those. I at least get to amuse myself with that. That was a joke. I don't get to have any fun.

The philosophy here is to throw enough of my shit out there to see if any will stick.


***

So, I haven't been on here for a while. If we go by the numbers, I can tell you why.

#1 Cystoscopy

I am likely not dying. That was a joke. We're all dying. But my doctors decided that I shouldn't die as fast as say, someone with a terminal disease. To accomplish this feat, they asked me if they could perform this procedure.

From what I've heard, it feels as pleasant as the image below makes it...

Naturally, as soon as I saw images of it, I asked around. No. I'm not having that done. Sure, it could help solve a few medical mysteries about me, but I'm not going to go through with it.




As you can expect, this depressed me greatly. I don't want something inserted in there and I also don't want to avoid KNOWING. But, that's part of the greater mystery of life. I don't have to know everything.

Thankfully, my other health problems distracted me. It turns out I had cavities and the dentist had to fill them.

For those of you too lucky to not know, this is what it looks like:



That device is a drill... The patient's mouth is open to allow the dentist to work (and to make it easier for you to scream).

Getting cavities filled is no fun at all, but now that they are done I can focus on work. And try to catch up.



                                                   


















***

The first week of August was productive. I have that going for me. This coming week, I hope to work on queries.

If I work fast enough, I can have something to show the Southern California Writer's Conference.

What was it Vonnegut said repeatedly in Slaughter House Five?

So it goes...

(It's funnier when he says it in the novel after some disaster...)

LC / LA



Friday, June 19, 2015

The first half of June

I don't know how long it's been since I screwed a woman. And I mean that in every sense of the word "screw." I tried to pick up a woman the other night and it didn't work. There was another co-worker I tried dating, but when it came down to business, I got an error message from my man downstairs... My dating life is shot to hell. I can tell you it's thanks to HER.

Josephine! Josephine!

I fear now that my Josephine, whose real name isn't Josephine, is now married or soon will be. It's a tragic turn of events. To tell the truth, though, I'm not sure if she's married or will soon be married. I don't know why I lied just now. There is an air of Asian mysticism about her person I can't seem to breach.

I rarely see her now since she gets off of work before I go in. Sometimes, I imagine what she looks like every day.

I'm laughing now as I think of old Captain Ahab and his Moby Dick. No, don't laugh. It's not how it sounded. They're characters in a book by Herman Melville.

Well, the Ahab character is obsessed with Moby Dick, a legendary white whale. The whale maimed Ahab, see. And... I see this discourse is pointless...

***
At about noon or so, an elderly man came up to the desk to let us know that, "a car is in the parking lot with its headlights on." When I asked this man to give us a description, he was very vague to the point where making an announcement would have just confused people instead of helping. He described a dark orange or brown car that could have been a toyota or honda and was older. He gave no license plate number or nothing and usually when we make such announcements we have make, model, color, and license plate number to actually help someone.

I didn't feel that was enough to make an announcement so I told one of my female co-workers I was going to the parking lot to see what was going on. I first went to the second level parking lot and searched, but found no cars with headlights on. I did find a car that almost matched the description, but it didn't have its lights on. I then went upstairs to the roof lot and found no cars that matched the description.

I concluded that it was either taken care of or that the person had already left. The patron who told us about it didn't stick around so we could compare notes. I left the matter at that.

The patron came back later and he again told us about a car in the parking lot that had its lights on. He claimed he had seen it a second time and wondered why we had not made an announcement yet. I confronted him with what I had done and told him that no such car was in the library parking lot.

It is then that he admits that the lot he had originally been talking about is the parking lot by the shopping center. But by this point he's upset. He wants us to do an announcement and although he has seen this car twice (supposedly) he can offer no new details about make or model or license plate number.

And when we asked him where it was exactly (since a search of the whole place was out of the question) he said this, "You go outside, take a right and then a left and you keep going. You can't miss it." He said this three times.

Now, by this point, I believed him to be lying. First, he claimed he saw the car twice, but I hadn't seen him exit the building. He's very recognizable. When he came to us both times, he came from within the library. Second, he can offer no further description of the vehicle aside from the vague description he gave us at first; it never occurs to him that someone might need that. Third, when I went out to that same lot during my break, I didn't see anything that suggested someone needed help, like a tow truck or anything. And fourth, with so much time gone by, other people should have noticed a car with its headlights on and would have told us--this very thing has happened a number of times where many people come and report the same thing.

So, instead of giving us more details to help us find the car, he gives me a lecture about what it means to do the decent thing here. He's upset and thinks we blew him off the first time he went there and didn't bother following up on the car. So, it was then that I told him that it wasn't our lot anyway and there's a security guard who roams the grounds and if he noticed it, we would help him (since the guard would have led us to it).

Whether or not there was a car with its headlights on at some point in the day, I don't know. I think we did everything possible to help whoever it was. He could have done more too, like offer to take us to the vehicle since he knew where it was (he wasn't handicapped or anything) or even given us more specific details or even given us a photo.

And naturally, this douche went and complained that we weren't decent enough to make a simple announcement...

***
June is going well. I'm actually on schedule and a bit ahead. Depending on my progress this coming week, I may be a week ahead.

I finished what I had left of the LAX story within a week and immediately got going on that other project I'm working on. It is currently 42,000 words and my goal is to get it to at least 55,000 words. Ironically, I'm deleting much of it and altering the rest.

I bought my ebook copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on Pottermore. It bugged me that I couldn't just get it through Amazon. But at least I have my own copy now.

It will be more than just a digital book to read. It's a resource, a reference. The storytelling is very solid in that book, part of the reason why I want it.

By the end of July, I shall have a project ready--two actually...

And so, I look towards September to make a move.






LC / LA


Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Girl on the Train, a review...

And so, here we are again...

A project completed. The LAX story went down at four this morning and at four twenty I was already revising it! I am again sad that I won't see my characters for a while. I'm also sad for another reason. This is the first story I've written that deals with experiences I've had in the recent past.

Before, my fiction centered around ideas I had, some taken from events in my life or the news, but mostly from my imagination. The LAX story is almost a log of the things I went through with my Josephine and the ANA ticket counter account. Most of it is fictitious, but the forty percent that is not is drawn almost word for word from interactions I had at the airport. Now that it's over, it feels like I completed therapy. I got it off my chest. I'm lighter.

Yes.

My Josephine really did a number on me. But there are other projects that need my attention now. Before that, however...

With the LAX story complete, I'm catching up on my reading. I will do this for a few days before I go into 2015 phase 2. And then, my friends...that's when things start to get interesting.


I have to say that I picked The Girl on the Train because our library has a list of over a hundred people waiting to read a free copy. Many liken it to Gone Girl, a book which I enjoyed, so I thought I would give this a try.

My experience with the book was different than my experience reading Gone Girl. I can tell you right now that the two books are nothing alike. Sure, the premise is the same, but in the end, The Girl on the Train is a classic whodunit; Gone Girl starts out that way, but does a paradigm shift midway through the book and becomes a sort of thriller.




Overview:


Author: Paula Hawkins
Genre: Mystery
Premise: Dysfunctional, alcoholic Rachel tries to help solve the disappearance of Megan, a married woman who repeatedly cheats on her husband with her therapist.




What didn't work for me:


Comma splices

Here is an example of a comma splice in The Girl on the Train:

She'd have driven him mad in the end, I really think that--she'd have ground him down, she'd have made him into something he's not.

The text of The Girl on the Train is full of them. They are more persistent in the first half of the book and wind down by the end.

Now, normally, I would be okay with a writer manipulating the English language for stylistic reasons. We take liberties with grammar to create effects. Some writers take advantage of this, while others are strict about adhering to grammar rules.

It's.

Just.

A preference.

There is an effect in the example above. We have been trained since childhood to stop when we reach a period. It signals an end, like the red light signals you to stop when you're driving. We don't think about it. This just happens naturally while we read.

We writers know this and take advantage of it.

The important thing is to create an effect that is understandable, letting the reader know that you're trying to do something different! Otherwise, it comes across as a mistake. Or worse, the writer takes such liberties with the text that it comes across as chaotic and confusing. Imagine reading a book with no punctuation! Or imagine reading a book that just had sentence fragments.

For the life of me, I didn't understand why Paula Hawkins had so many comma splices. What was the effect? You're supposed to pause when you find a comma in a sentence. And I did. After. Each. One. Ahhhhhh! Why is she doing it? Why? Tell me Paula, why? Am I too stupid to get it?

Naturally, this distracted my reading and I sometimes found it hard to focus.

Seriously, what was the effect?


Plot pace

The mystery doesn't start right away. I have read reviews that say this plot is lightning fast, but I didn't think so. You have to read more than thirty percent of the book before Megan disappears. And when the mystery finally starts, it moves as fast as that train that Rachel rides every day to her non-existent job.

After that, the story is a little more interesting. The pace doesn't become lightning fast until you're about ninety percent done with the book.

This is ironic since the book is short. At just over three hundred pages, The Girl on the Train should have been a fast, fast read.


Characterization 

Oh, man, there are so many fucked up people in this book! Normally, I would enjoy this--since messed up people are more interesting.

With The Girl on the Train, it is clear that the author just wants to give clever twists to typical whodunit characters of hardboiled detective fiction.

There's the detective, in this case Rachel. In most private eye novels, the detective has a drinking problem. Rachel is a full blown alcoholic who has black outs--a plot device. The twist is that her misery takes center stage during that first thirty percent of the novel before Megan disappears. Joy!

There's the femme fatale, in this case Megan. She is the typical seductress willing to get men to do her bidding by manipulating their sexual desires; she comes complete with a seedy past. The twist here is that she is also the victim.

And then there's Scott, Megan's husband, who is the patsy and most obvious suspect. This isn't even a spoiler! His only purpose in this book is to give us another red herring. Did he do it? He's violent. He's jealous. He's too obvious. In the case of Nick from Gone Girl, I really didn't know if he had done it or not; that author beautifully focused on him and his actions. The twist for Scott is that we never know what happens to him in the end. The story mentions his name, but who knows what happens to him.




What worked for me:


Okay, so I'll be fair and say that once you get into it--after you get used to Rachel's misery--the book is interesting. I couldn't stop reading it after I got to the 70% mark. Before you get there, though, there are other reasons to keep going. The main one is the realism.

The Realism

What is most gripping is the realism in this story. This book builds its rails and stays on them. Pun intended.

My biggest complaint about Gone Girl is that at one point, it becomes a fantasy. Mad evil genius? Come oooooooon...

That point never came in The Girl on the Train. Rachel's behaviors as an alcoholic are typical, but not to the point where I felt I was reading a textbook case. Many times an author will describe a person with a problem like alcoholism and it reads like a pamphlet. The black outs, the messes with vomit, the hiding of liquor and those gin tonics... all well done.

Scott, though too obvious to be the killer, works well as a jealous husband. The way he tries to check up on her and check her browser history and do those little things that jealous men do... It works. You really do get pissed with Megan and sympathize with him. But really, why would anyone this jealous get with a woman like Megan? It is excellent.

Kudos!

The crime, when the killer is revealed, is so mundane and realistic that it's disturbing. The things the killer does to try and get away with it are so stupid that you can believe that a regular person--who isn't an evil genius--would come up with the same ideas and make the same mistakes.

And then there's the final action in the book. There are no superhero moments here. Actually, the violence is apprehensive; the killer, when found out, believably wants to find some other way out, a peaceful way that will leave all parties alive. But throughout the novel, the author pushes and pushes these folks to a state of hysteria and bottled up aggression.

Rachel can't give up Tom, her former husband, and sinks deeper into alcoholism, which brings about more black outs during which she does bolder and more dangerous things. Tom doesn't know what to do with Rachel, who won't leave him and his new wife Anna alone; one time she even took hold of their newborn baby while completely drunk. Anna can't convince Tom to leave that city, that house, and start fresh somewhere away from Rachel; every time Rachel comes by, drunk, or calls the house, she is pressured into looking for alternatives in dealing with her. Scott slowly, but surely, builds up all the aggression that comes from having a pretty wife he rightly suspects is cheating on him. And Megan can't overcome the guilt that is the result of the things she did in her past and cannot function as a wife because of it--she's always trying to run away. And then there's the therapist, Kamal, whose affair with Megan nearly destroys him; it's horrible that she can't let this go and keeps trying to get him back for more.

These are just people pushed to a point where murder is an unfortunate, animal choice.



Overall:


If you have patience, The Girl on the Train can entertain you for hours--if you fly to another country, for example.

It's not a perfect book, though, and often I wanted to put it down to do other things; Facebook was an attractive option during my reading of the book.

Overall, it's a fair little mystery that will likely lead to more improved versions of it as the author (hopefully) gets into her groove as a writer. For that reason, I'm going to buy another Paula Hawkins book when she writes one.

I can tell you though, if I see a comma splice in her next book, I'm putting it down!





LC / LA

Monday, June 1, 2015

A little bit of muscle...

I've lost track of how many days I've been without a woman, but I'm sure it's over 120 now. I think that was what I wrote last time.

Interestingly enough, I am starting to lose the desire to see loose women. Sure, I have been going through my old haunts to see what's there, but that desperate need to find warmth is dormant. At work, I haven't asked anyone out recently and don't have anyone in mind to do so.

Well, there is my Josephine, but I'm going to leave her alone for just a little bit longer.

I feel at peace though. And strong!

And that is thanks to working out and taking things to stop my alarming weight loss. I see now that I have had an image problem to deal with. I'm working through it, though. Also, and more importantly, my sense of harmony is...thanks to the work I've done on the LAX story.

I flexed my muscles and am within two and a half chapters of finishing! I thought I would have four chapters to do in June, but I got down to it. I would have had only two chapters but these damn Windows updates kept my computer busy today (the 31st of May). This month has been very generous to me and I was able to get a great deal done.

I was even able to pin down my surprise ending, which reveals the reader to me. Yes. To me. I am satisfied with it in this draft and will improve upon it in the revision I plan to do. I want to get that done early, since it is the kind of story that requires little in the way of world-building and such. This is straight from my experiences working the ANA ticket counter, so the world around me is fresh.

***

I read Pride and Prejudice while working on this story to get me in the mood to write the kind of Romance story I wanted to write. Jane Austen has an interesting sense of humor that I appreciated. I wasn't trying to emulate Austen, since my voice is different, but reading her text made me appreciate what had come before.

I also thought back to that really old book called The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman. That is a book! It's hard to believe that it came out in 1759! Laurence Sterne is the author that influenced me most while writing the LAX story because his style is very wild. The humor in that book is dated, but most people who read it today can appreciate the enormous innovations that he made.

For example, there is a page that includes a chapter that is a single sentence long and there are some chapters that are only chapter headings; the author promises to fill these in later. He sometimes gets into arguments with the reader about the text he has written thus far and explains, at length, how these musings are valid. What a playful text!

The premise of the thing sets up the humor: The author wishes to narrate his own life. Well, this, the author acknowledges, becomes an impossible task. Just writing about his birth occupies several volumes that prance around the subject matter.

There is the unreliable narrator, the omniscient narrator, the limited narrator, but Tristram Shandy is the incompetent narrator.

***

And so, here I am. Tired. We lifted many bags today since the damn luggage belts broke and it was up to the men to get those bags to where they belonged. We were all in good spirits though and the sweaty work made us friendlier.

I should be sleeping since I have to be up early. I want to sleep, but all that exercise gave me energy.

Well, I got this done at least.

This first week of June, I'm finishing a draft of the LAX story.



LC / LA


Monday, May 25, 2015

Hide your daughters!!!

It has been over 120 days since I've been with a woman.

At this point, all women are looking really, really good. And, what's more, my mental blocks are falling apart; I'm starting to ask out co-workers. Fortunately, the single ones are just blowing me off and the majority of them are married or will be married soon or are in relationships or are busy dating B.O.B.

But as the days progress, I will ask out other co-workers and friends of co-workers. I'm doing my best to sabotage these attempts, but eventually some ladies will say yes...

Alas, my progress will go to shit. If I date any of them, my body will take over and that's that! Smacked out of the wagon and back to ground zero!

I like to think that with meditation and good writing habits, this is a manageable appetite. It's not, though. This is the sort of condition that will get a lot worse before it gets any better.

Luckily, I am very near the end of the LAX story. There are about six chapters left, maybe just five (depending on how I manage the plot). Yesterday night, I stayed up after work to write one of my favorite scenes in the novel--THE scene the entire book has been building to. It's rough still, so I will have to keep at it whenever an idea comes.

And I already have the final chapters. That includes the unique type of ending I wanted for the story. That was no easy doing! But I am confident that I have something that hasn't been tried that often. It's an interactive experience that I hope will give the story a good send-off.





***

And so, I look forward to June and the rest of the summer and the reading that comes with it. I'm going to finish The Girl on the Train and All the Light We Cannot See and review them both.

During the first two weeks of June I will finish off whatever is left of the LAX story. And during the last two weeks of June I will attack the other project I am currently working on as well as doing a clean-up of Absolution. That will take me at least a month, maybe less since it's mostly expansion work on material that I already have written. That will take me into the middle of July.

The second half of July I want to spend revising Ascension and the first half of August I want to do the same to The Wizards. It will be a first revision for both to get them into a form that is readable at least.

And in August, some time in August, I take a break! No more sex fasting! I'm thinking of a cruise or some other type of Singles vacation for at least a week and then I will come home and spend another week off to plan what's going to happen in the last part of 2015.

Naturally, now that I have my determination back, I have to fight off the demons that come with it. There is the old arrogance monster and the greed monster.




If I can keep my head clear, then I think I have a real shot at something special, real ascension into a place where few of us get to go.

It is still hard to explain to women why I chose the lifestyle I chose. Why don't I have a nice 9 to 5 job? Why not have a career? I already do. I'm hoping it will thrive in the future.





LC / LA


Monday, April 27, 2015

Writer Blocked

It has been over 90 days since I've been with a woman...

I don't know how much longer I'm going to last. All the women around me, single, married, available or not, are starting to look really, really good.

The good news is that I've managed to somehow alienate all the women who would be willing to, you know. This past week has been one cold shoulder after another.

***

First, let me say that I do not believe I ever get an ailment called "writer's block." There are legitimate medical reasons for me to stop creating when I want to create, but I do not believe there is a specific ailment that targets me.

Or other writers for that matter. It seems like the silliness of writers. Woe is me! I am stricken by the writer's block...

That's sexier than me saying that I want to do something else. The main reason for not writing is procrastination.

Say it with me: I procrastinate.

My Josephine recently posted an article about such a thing; she likes to wander through the website, thoughtcatalog.com, and read things there that she later shares on Facebook. It was hilarious to read. Maybe you'll find it funny too.

Article link.

Usually, when I can't seem to put down words on digital paper it's because I want to do something else. Oh, you know... get on Facebook. Research something. Read a book. Get laid. etc. etc.

Right now I'm in this situation. My writing slowed in April. One reason is that I want to open up that other Word document and work on another story; since I'm double-dipping this month. Another reason is that the LAX story is becoming more complex, requiring more time to "think" or develop its chapters. When that happens, my writing slows to give my creativity an opportunity to go to work.

Okay, so all of that is my way of excusing it. What I really think is happening is that I'm sad.

I've had to say goodbye to a good number of people I work with, more than I have in recent memory. They're moving on to other things and leaving the positions they have now.

As you can imagine, trying to write something funny when you're sad is difficult. There is also the sadness that comes from being at a point where you're almost done with a story you like.

It's sad because once I'm done, that will be all the time I get with those characters. I won't see them again unless I write another story with them.

I could read my stories over and over again, but that lacks something. A completed story to me is like an old photo album full of images of people I won't ever see again. It's funny. I can re-read a novel I like and feel like the experiences with those characters is new and they're there for me. But my own work is different.

The stories I write are time capsules almost. They tell me about a period during which I worked on the story and did my best to overcome its challenges. Struggling. Struggling.

Ah, I remember that paragraph! I spent weeks writing and re-writing it. And then I took it apart again when revising! Oh, the good times doing that...

***

Well, there's a few days left in April and I will work on the LAX story some more. I won't finish, but I'm going to be writing again. I mean, just look at how much I'm writing here this month.

I'm not blocked. I am blocking myself with sadness. But enough of that...

Sadness bores me. 





LC / LA








Monday, April 20, 2015

Sad Puppies and a Sluggish April

The days in April have been sluggish.

There. That's all I wanted to say about that.

***

I'm not going to draft Verifiable Man this year. The contest I wanted to enter it into will not happen in 2015. I'm sad. That means that other projects will take its place. That's always how it is with this writing thing.

The other night I went to a book release event in San Pedro. It was for a book called A Wailing of a Town. It was hot in there and I felt so out of place that all I did was stare. My hope was to meet some interesting types to write about. It's also my simple pleasure to meet with and speak to other artists to see what they are like and if I fit in with them or not.


***

Lately, I've been having fun reading about this mess with the Hugo awards for 2015. I remember Brad R. Torgersen from his days when we were both Writers of the Future hopefuls (he was a hopeful, I was just hopeful in general). Now, he has the attention of everyone in the Science Fiction and Fantasy industry. It's an interesting turn in his career.

Oh, I won't bother with the politics of the puppy scandal. There are better (and more invested) men and women already thinking and over-thinking the politics of this thing. And you know me and politics, Bartholomew. They amuse me. My own beliefs are so complex that they go beyond the simple Right wing, Left wing politics of this country. Because of that, I can have fun watching them go at it.

Puppies, puppies everywhere! Look at that one over there. He's got foam in his little mouth! Watch out! And that one over there is sad. I'm a dog person, so seeing a sad puppy makes me sad. Why did they pick puppies? I think iguanas would have been better. An iguana has an excellent poker face. You never know what they're thinking.

But here's what I'm thinking...

I'm actually surprised that no one figured out before now that you could do that with the Hugos (although, the dog people argue that, yeah, there are groups that did).

What was it that Plato said? That a democratic system is "full of variety and disorder"? That applies to this issue. Just what did the people running the Hugos think would happen? That the voters are virtuous and would maintain a fair playing field for all participants? People are people. They take advantage of and exploit the weaknesses of any system when they can. Who cares about the motivations for doing it. Motivations are like assholes. Everyone has one; and on some people, they stink. People will always convince themselves and anyone they can that they are on the moral side of any issue and that their opponents are on the immoral side. It's just human nature to do this.

If anyone cares to "fix" the way Hugos are given out, they should read the Federalist number 10, written by James Madison. It has some interesting ideas on the subject. True, it is written with a system of government in mind, but its philosophies apply to any organization that wishes to use a democratic (pure democratic) ballot to issue awards. They may come up with an electoral college of writers, separate from the popular vote of fans. And maybe there will be a little senate to decide ties. Hopefully, none of the ballots get stuck in the bathroom.

Of course, as soon as they tighten up the rules for the Hugos, its voters will find another way to outsmart them.

Ha!


LC / LA



Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Starving

If I'm walking funny it's because the IRS just fist-fucked me up the ass. Geez! I'm earning a very decent income now, but tax season really got me. It goes to show that every silver lining has a sea of dark clouds attached to it.

I may go back to being poor just to receive a tax refund instead of paying. The lesson here is that I need to be more careful with my earnings. Now I know what to expect next year.

For now, it's back to eating cup-o-noodles for a while.



***

It has been over eighty days since I have been with a woman. This is good news for a sex addict like myself. The thing is...

I had a near-miss the other night with a woman who could end up being my girlfriend. No dice. I kept thinking about she-who-must-not-be-named, the ANA woman who is my Josephine. It wouldn't go up at all. That goes to show that women can cock-block a fellow even from a remote distance.

Sigh...

This is an unusual situation for me. The universe is giving me more opportunities than ever to create a lasting relationship with a woman and yet, it's all falling apart. Remember I said that I didn't want to mess with women this year to focus on my work? Ha. Ha!

The universe, Fortuna, Lady Luck, God, Fate, Chaos (call this entity whatever you like) had other ideas.

I don't understand it.




***

That ends our weekly installment of "Days of My Sexless Life." Now that I got that drama out of the way, I can talk about fiction. The really ridiculous good news is that the drama, the episodes of my current life, all make their way to my fiction.

In the past few months I have gotten more ideas for the LAX story from direct experiences than for any other story. It bothers me to an extent to put so much of myself in a book. But that's the point, right?

Putting yourself on the page involves more than fictionalizing the events of your life. A writer has to find their voice and be proud of it when he/she does.

For example, my fictional voice doesn't sound like Cormac McCarthy and not like John Steinbeck. No matter what I do, I don't sound like them. That's okay, though.

The other night, while working on The Sprite, I read over a passage that I had altered a little. I liked it because it had my voice in it, where before it was bland. Before, I was trying to write in a certain way that never succeeded because I wasn't into it.

It's helping me write the LAX story. My progress this month has slowed, but I expected that since I'm giving my attention to other projects (and since I now have to work a few extra days to help pay my tax debt!).




LC






Sunday, March 29, 2015

The midpoint...

I'm at the midpoint of the outline I created for the LAX story. Here's the alarming point: I'm at just over 45,000 words. My original goal was to have a 60,000 word manuscript, but it now looks like I may have a 90,000--100,000 word manuscript instead!

Naturally, I've been trimming the hell out of my outline so that I don't end up having to write 120,000+ words to complete. It's amazing the way a novel blossoms like this. And it's even more amazing that I'm putting down so much so fast. Before March is over, I think I can get in another two chapters, which will put my March total at 30,000+ words.

At this pace, I won't finish by the end of April, like I had hoped. But I like that it's because the story is growing more complex. Still, I will be so close to finishing in a month that it will be beside the point.

Continuing to work at the ANA ticket counter motivates me, since I'm right there where the action in the book takes place. I can almost see my protagonist doing the things I describe. The only hiccup is that I also have to see my Josephine there too. Luckily, she's seeing someone else, so that takes my attention away from her.

Good for her. She looks happy too and she deserves it. I need to focus on my work.

In April, since I'm doing so good in March, I will detour a little and work on some other projects to get a head start. This is something I meant to do last year, but just couldn't get around to for whatever reason. It's always pathetic the way that other things get in the way.

But like Mr. Faulkner said, if you have a mind to write, you will do it. I'm paraphrasing, of course; I don't memorize the quotes of dead writers. That is a disservice to them. Instead, enjoy the living works that they left behind.

***

At the midpoint of the story, you begin to wonder how it will end. Here I am, ready to punch through to the last sentence of the book.

I already wrote a draft of the epilogue, which I see now will have to be modified in a number of ways. Hell, I may just delete it.

I want the ending of this story to be unique. I don't want it to just end. I want the reader to reveal themselves to me, the writer, as I revealed myself to them throughout the whole of the story. There has to be a mirror there, so you can tell me who you are.

That's all I want to say about that.



LC/LA

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Dude stuff...

I'm currently researching for the LAX story. It seems a little late to do that since I'm also currently writing it. But I can always use the research when I'm revising it. There is never a moment when it is too late to use research to enhance the story.

For example, I've read a few love tales lately that play with this idea:

Never give up on someone you can't go a day without thinking about

Junot Diaz and his short story collection, This is How you Lose Her, is one of those books. Gone With the Wind and Pride and Prejudice are others. These are all excellent books that look at romance in a variety of ways.

I'm leaning more towards Diaz and his short stories. They are about breaking up or when things in a relationship just aren't going to work. It hits home when I think about all the nonsense I am going through with my Josephine. The men in Junot's stories are hard (different versions of a man named Yunior) and painfully realistic. But eventually his protagonists get it. It's time to give up. Despite being unable to stop thinking about them, it's time to give up. I'm ready for that too. I'm done. I threw in my towel this week; my Josephine has moved on to greener pastures already.

Pride and Prejudice is my current reading selection. It's very flippant about its subject matter: Women were dependent on marriage to establish themselves. This starts with a great line that I used in the LAX story already. I wanted to read this because this is where that rascal, Darcy, was born. That he captured the hearts of so many women in the 20th century speaks of his charm. I want to see that charm in action.

Gone with the Wind is coming up on my reading list. This too ends with heartbreak. At least that's what I gathered from the movie version. I'm curious to see how the book ends.

My life, my readings, my observations, all fuel this fictional romance I want to write.

***

It's surprising that I haven't been able to find what I want. I'm basically looking for a dictionary of terms used by men. We have our own vocabulary pamphlet and, gosh darn it, I forgot where I put my copy; maybe it's in between the folds on the couch, but I haven't looked. My nagging suspicion is that my Josephine took it with her when she snagged my balls and ran off with them.

The internet has offered me very little help on the matter. I thought there would be some database out there... Or maybe I'm not using the right search criteria; the amount of trouble I had to find the term Mouthpiece was discouraging.

Mouthpiece: A woman wooed by men who unknowingly speaks positive things on our behalf to more desirable women, thereby making us look like better candidates.

Forget about finding the man-term dummy girlfriend and I got these weird results. None of them had to do with what I wanted; some were for pornographic websites where men and dummies...

Dummy girlfriend: A girlfriend whose purpose is to make the real object of our affection see how great we are at being a boyfriend; later, when the woman we want makes a move on us, we dump the dummy girlfriend.

There are more terms that I won't share here.

***

I feel stupid that I didn't know a quarter for the year had only three months. It was disappointing since I wanted to have a draft of the LAX story done by the end of the first quarter.

My pace is pretty good right now and my word count is far ahead than I planned. If I work hard, I can have the second third of the story done by the end of March.

I'm doing so well that I decided to let a couple of library friends have a look at what I have so far. It's the first time that I have sought feedback on a project so early in the writing stage. But I like what I've written so far. Hopefully, they do too.




LC / LA


Friday, February 13, 2015

Plotting...

Okay, so on Sunday, February 8th, 2015, The Wizard of Santa Monica was not complete. However, I was one chapter away from finishing it and the chapter in question was mostly done. Monday passed and on Tuesday I again charged. I didn't finish it, only managed to nibble on the last chapter and add to other chapters. Wednesday came and once again, I faced The Wizard of Santa Monica. I realized then that the work I had done on the last chapter was fair and redid some of it. So, Thursday, today (it's technically Friday, but I'm still awake), I fought the wizard again.

It took me all day to rework the chapter material and add to other chapters. Finally, The Wizard of Santa Monica is complete. That was a challenging story to tackle.

In total, the novella came to about 33,000 words. It has been with me since 2009 and maybe earlier; I finished a number of drafts before it became part of The Wizards in 2013. That led to the problematic draft I wasn't been able to finish until today.

So, why was it so difficult to finish?

The plot.

I could not nail down the plot.

Yes, I want to discuss the elements of fiction again. Now, when I said plot just now there are a number of ideas that usually come to mind. I say a number because, as I said a long, long time ago, writers cannot decide on a definitive list of elements in fiction! Sure, there are the usual suspects like setting and character, but for the most part, every writer has their own list.

And even when the elements are the same on a list, the way they are interpreted are not. Take for instance these two definitions of premise (an element of fiction not usually included in most lists):


1) This premise is the underlying idea of your story--the foundation that supports your entire plot. (from Writer's Digest.com).


2) A story premise, along with its tool, the premise line, is a container that holds the essence of your story’s right, true and natural structure. (from writermag.com)



Similar definitions, right? The difference is in the examples they give. Look at these:


1) For instance, the premise of The Three Little Pigs is “Foolishness leads to death, and wisdom leads to happiness.” (It”s not three little pigs get scared by a wolf and make bad building decisions.) (from writer's digest.com)


2) When a fish-out-of-water, big-city cop moves to a small, coastal town dependent on tourism, he must team with an oceanographer and a crusty sailor to convince the doubting, money-grubbing townsfolk to close their beaches because a giant, man-eating shark is lurking just offshore, until the shark strikes, forcing the townsfolk to allow the cop and his buddies to take on the shark mano-a-mano. (from writermag.com)


*Writer mag gives the premise of the movie "Jaws." I will call that paragraph a premise since it is closer to my preference of the meaning of the word premise.

Those examples are sooo different from one another! They represent opposite ideas, even though the definitions of premise they gave are similar. What this says is that writers view the elements of fiction differently based on their preferences.

What I will say about plot reflects my preferences on the subject.


***

Here are a few definitions of plot as a fiction element:


1) Plot –- the major events that move the action in a narrative. It is the sequence of major events in a story, usually in a cause-effect relation. (from csulb.edu)


2) Plot refers to the series of events that give a story its meaning and effect. (from bedfordstmartins.com)


3) All fiction is based on conflict and this conflict is presented in a structured format called PLOT. There are a number of different elements to a plot. They include: Exposition, foreshadowing, inciting force, conflict, etc. etc. etc. (from nps.gov)


4) Plot is what happens in a work of fiction, and the order that it happens in. (from creative-writing-now.com)


All the definitions deal with events described in a story. There is also some concern with the order in which these events appear in the story. Some definitions even mention other ideas, like conflict and a cause-effect relationship between the events.

And if you're a visual writer, there is Freytag's triangle which is a graphical representation of a plot (by most definitions). Freytag or Freitag, it really doesn't matter.


Look at that thing! It's adorable. Some graphical representations show a hump, a curve, like a roller coaster ride. I liken this type of writing to a sex act because, let's face it, after the male climaxes it's all over. It is no accident I'm comparing this to a male sexual experience; Gustav Freitag was a male novelist and this type of plotting depends on building tension until there is a release at the climax (all sexual talk).

*Side Note: Imagine what a plot would look like if writers used the female sexual experience instead! 

Here is the exact same structure but drawn in a circle (attributed to Joseph Campbell):



You can see the similarities.

Most genre fiction books use the triangle plot diagram. It is often said that genre books are plot heavy, but if you look at the diagram, what that means is that genre books use a very noticeable plot strategy. Each event in the plot leads towards that climax; action heavy books will have major sequences at the climax--including the showdown between the protagonist and the antagonist.

Not all books are written like this. And yes, I know, I know, your Creative Writing teacher said all books build towards some kind of climax (even if it's a small one). I'm never sure what they mean by that.

However, it is a serviceable tool for simple novels. Complex novels (like War and Peace) use other strategies.

What I find in the stories that fall under the "Literary" category are revelations that develop the main character(s), not climaxes in action. The reason is that this type of story tries to retain a level of realism that makes it (in appearances) closer to life.

If I had to plot someone's life, it would look like this:



The beginning would be the birth of the person and the end point would be that person's death. The arrow points to a high point in that person's life. Maybe it was their marriage or a new job. What is the cliche? Life is full of ups and downs?

Plotting in fiction attempts to mimic what this graph shows. It artificially looks at particular points in a fictional person's life, the ones that contribute to the overall effect the writer desires. It is not a "singular effect," like Poe said was a characteristic of short stories, but it is a desired effect.

*Side Note: that is actually the graph of an irregular heartbeat, which I thought would make an excellent graphical representation of a person's life*

***

A rough premise of The Wizard of Santa Monica is: Danny Nash is a homeless thief who lives in his beat up Firebird and dreams of becoming like Robin Hood. When he saves the life of another homeless man, he nearly loses his. Unbeknownst to him, the man he saves is a self-proclaimed wizard who takes him to a lonesome mansion to heal. There, Danny meets Esmeralda, Karen and the man who saved him, Quique. Together, they tell him the tragic history of the group of children that once lived there, learned there; these were boys and girls who called their power magic and themselves wizards.

I used Wuthering Heights as inspiration for the structure of the novel. If you don't know, in Wuthering Heights, a number of characters tell another character stories from the past. The narrative switches from Third Person to First Person (when a character shares his/her recollections).

There is an overarching plot to Wuthering Heights: Lockwood rents a place in the moors owned by Heathcliff, doesn't like it, goes back to London for a while, comes back to the moors for a bit and then returns back to London. It is such a mundane plot that it's amazing that it coats one of my favorite love stories. The sub-plot is more important and deals with the history of Heathcliff in the moors and his failed love for Catherine Earnshaw.

It is not uncommon for a novel to have a number of plots. Sometimes, like in Wuthering Heights, there is a main plot and an overarching plot. For this reason, it is difficult for me to see how a novel is supposed to build to a point called a climax, when each plot is its own separate entity.

In The Wizard of Santa Monica, the premise changed often as I wrote and rewrote it over the years, but the overarching plot always dealt with the homeless man, Danny Nash, and the sub-plot dealt with the wizard children.

I see now that it was problematic for me to keep changing the premise. Once you change a premise, it more or less throws your plot into chaos.

An earlier premise of The Wizard of Santa Monica was: Danny Nash is a homeless thief who lives in his beat up Firebird and dreams of becoming like Robin Hood. When he saves the life of another homeless man, he nearly loses his. Unbeknownst to him, the man he saves is a self-proclaimed wizard who uses his power to heal him. The wizard leaves and Danny becomes obsessed with finding him again. He embarks on a journey across Southern California's homeless communities, always one step behind the wizard. The only evidence of the wizard's presence are the number of stories he tells those he comes across; they tell the tragic story of a group of children under the care of a man named Wendell the Great, who could wield unimaginable power they called magic.

Another obstacle came  from the overall plot of The Wizards, which is the entire collection of wizard short stories/novellas. The Wizard of Santa Monica is only one story in The Wizards.

It helps me now to talk about this.

***

And what's next for me, you ask? I am looking to start the LAX story as early as next week. I'm giving up my Valentine's day fun (no love parties for me!). Even now, I'm going over the material I have for it.

I'm very excited to finally be here.


LC / LA




Monday, February 2, 2015

New Year, old enemies...

Towards the end of December, I got a visit from an old enemy: Blepharitis. The flareup was so sudden that it confused me and left me with a very irritated left eye. It had been so long since I had problems with my eyes that I at first thought it was pink eye.

Yuk!

Luckily, I had taken a week off from both my jobs, so I only lost my time, not work time to recover... My doctors at the VA remembered this old bastard of an enemy from my records and gave me what I needed to clear it up (for now).

Let me tell you, I learned a great deal about taking time off at the beginning of the year. First, it is never a good idea, unless you like to travel in cold weather. January has cold weather anywhere you go in the United States. Aside from Los Angeles, there isn't much available in terms of a good time, unless you like to do stuff in the snow. It's not for me. Snow brings back memories of people I would rather remain in the shadows of my subconscious. And it's cold.

Besides, there was a ton of baggage I had to clean up (literally).

I'm going to try the vacation thing again in August of this year. This time, I will improve my methods.

***

The Wizard of Santa Monica continues to frustrate me. Goddamn, I could have written five other short stories in the time it's taken me to work that one through. But this week (the first week of February) is it. Thursday, Friday and Saturday I'm nailing this thing shut!

And then, at last, I begin the LAX story, which I've renamed. To do that I'm going to become a shut-in, just work and writing. No women. No drinking. No women. All the drama that women brought me last year is still fresh in my mind (Josephine, Josephine, Josephine, Josephine...). No women. No Asian women! None!

If I find the will-power to resist my lecherous urges, I think I can finish a draft of the LAX story by the end of March. It's not a difficult one--when compared to The Wizards and The Elohim Trilogy.





LC / LA

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Silkworm, a review

Reading Robert Galbraith's (J.K. Rowling's) The Silkworm made me think about writing and publishing. It isn't that the material is thoughtful--the narrator is very distant. It makes you wonder if the author shared the views expressed. Here is a quote from The Silkworm:

"With the invention of the Internet, any subliterate cretin can be Michiko Kakutani."

In case you don't know (I didn't), Michiko Kakutani is an award-winning book reviewer. What the quote is saying is that with the advent of the internet, people with blogs (cough! like me) and people who like to comment in those comment-boxes, can add their two cents about any book. The choice of "subliterate cretin" in the quote turns it into a very nasty critique of you and I.

Ouch! Zing!

Here is the thing though. If that quote had come from a John Steinbeck book, then I would know the author was taking a shot at me, since Steinbeck wasn't shy about criticizing the society/culture he was a part of (see The Grapes of Wrath).

But the quote came from a Galbraith-Rowling book... And in this age, that means the author may or may not have meant it. What's more, those words would be meaningless if Robert Galbraith didn't double as ultra-famous J.K. Rowling.

Don't believe me? Consider the following statement from a newspaper review, which discusses the enormous amount of one-liners in Galbraith's book that deal with the state of the British publishing industry.

NY Times reviewer: Do these observations (about publishing) take on more weight when we know that the writer is a superstar female author rather than a semi-obscure male one? I think they do. 

Or in other words, what's important is that a famous person wrote that, not the comment itself.

Really?



[the_silkworm__span%255B3%255D.jpg]




















OVERVIEW:

Author: Robert Galbraith
Genre: Mystery

Premise: Cormoran Strike must solve the disappearance of author Owen Quine.

WHAT DIDN'T WORK FOR ME:

Oh, where to begin... For the sake of brevity, I will go over the biggest issues I had with this book.

Robin

Is Cormoran Strike's sidekick a four year old? In this book, Robin comes off as waaaaay too needy. She wants Strike's approval and attention so much that it becomes annoying from the first few pages. Another thing is that Robin's relationship is too clearly going to go to hell in the future; there is no question about this, which will then lead to a type of relationship with Strike.

The relationship she has with her fiance is also problematic. The guy is an arrogant douche. How have they been together for as long as they have been in the story?


The Plot

Old Cormoran gets a visit from Mrs. Quine during which she convinces him to help her find her missing husband--a has-been writer on the brink of publishing a "controversial" manuscript for a new novel called Bombyx Mori. I liked the idea of a book within a book, but... Bombyx Mori is the kind of book where a fictional character neatly substitutes for a person in real life aaaaaaand, revelations are made about the personalities/lives of said persons. It's symbolic.

Okay. That a deviant would want to kill a writer to keep him from making damaging revelations to the public makes no sense at all. I mean, with a book that is as symbolic as Dante's "Divine Comedy," why would anyone bother? This is the information age. We kill each other over more important things, like the color of one's sneakers. Hell, if The Silkworm were set during Dante's time, it might have made sense as a motive.

So, that Cormoran would entertain the notion doesn't make him look very bright. I could not get around this, nor any of the lawyering up that the potential killers (publishing industry types) did when they found out about Owen Quine's manuscript.

That brings me to a big plot hole in the novel. There is this scene where publishing industry types are talking to lawyers to prepare themselves for the libel suit they plan on launching against the publishing house that puts Bombyx Mori in bookstores; they have read the manuscript and see its evil. Supposedly, Quine's manuscript is harmful enough to sue to keep it hidden. Yet, later it is revealed that the controversial information in Bombyx Mori is readily available to anyone looking for it.

So, why were the publishing industry types angry enough to sue? What was the fuss? It doesn't make sense. Would Lady Gaga sue a writer if they had a character in their novel who was just like her in every way, but then it was revealed that this character was secretly a man? The rumor of Lady Gaga being a man has made its rounds through the internet.

The paranoia over Bombyx Mori is unjustified. Maybe, if Owen Quine had been working on a memoir where he tells all about the people he knows...then, that would have justified the character reactions in The Silkworm.

I won't reveal what the ultimate reason for murdering Owen Quine is, but it left me with more questions than I cared to have after finishing a book. Consider this: If you're trying to murder someone, would you put them in a sling and slowly lower them into a pool filled with sharks? Sounds fun, but in this world, you would have to buy the sharks, the sling, use someone's pool, etc. That's just too elaborate and increases your chances of getting away with it--which is what most killers want to do.

The killer in The Silkworm goes all out, leaving me to wonder why a simple bullet to the head wouldn't have done the job?

As it is, the plot is just goofy.

Its Philosophy

The Silkworm makes a number of comments about the publishing industry...but it says nothing about it. The book has no philosophy; it just strings together commentary about it.

That quote I showed at the beginning of this post about readers with blogs reviewing books, well that isn't exactly a new sentiment. That's been a common thought since the onset of the web log. And that goes for the other thoughts in Galbraith's book, my favorite being about the number of writers today: "We need [more] readers...fewer writers."

The comments aren't even comments at all; they're things that its characters say.

What's the difference?

I mentioned Steinbeck because the narrator of The Grapes of Wrath makes critical statements about aspects of the current society. In The Silkworm, the characters make the critical statements, which amounts to not making statements at all. This is because a writer must remain true to a character's personality. You couldn't write about Nazi Germany without some of the Nazi characters making negative comments against Jews. This doesn't mean the author hates Jews. It just means the characterization requires this.

The overall effect of The Silkworm is confusing. What's the fun of all this commentary if it's regurgitated from the internet?



WHAT WORKED FOR ME:


Cormoran Strike is still pretty cool.





OVERALL:

I'm going to re-read the Harry Potter books. My memory cannot recall this many disappointments in those books. The Silkworm goes right up there with The Cuckoo's Calling, a place far lower than the lowest of the Harry Potter books. I will leave it at that.






LC/LA