Capritare: Completion

I just finished the (almost) final round of editing on Book II in the Capritare series. Now, it’s time to reprint for one last perusal. At this point, my beta-readers also get a first look at it in order to check for holes in the story, pacing and any typos I missed.

This is the fun part–the part where others get to read the story that, until now, had only existed in my head and hard-drive. The feedback I receive from this next stage is excellent to either confirm, or rebuke, my own estimation of the story.

::: Minimizes internet window. Sets parameters. Clicks “Print”. :::

Capritare: Discovery – New Cover

I am so stoked about the new cover for Capritare.

Credit for all the hard work goes to Carrie McRae whom I met on Authonomy.
Her Photobucket profile, along with draft 3 of her image can be found HERE.

We went through three rounds of back-and-forth to move the original idea closer to my vision.
To see the progression, check out this album on my Facebook.

Being a writer & an artist, I had to tweak it. (I just had to…)
Using good ol’ Gimp2, I masculinized the figure, corrected a little anatomy, tweaked some shadow/highlighting issues, and gave the image a more ‘painterly’ feel.

Much thanks to Carrie!

[Author’s Note: At some point over the last couple days I decided to change the Subtitle!]

I’m a Loser Baby

Well, after a month of waiting, 10,000 authors’ blogs will have entry fodder for the day. ABNA announced the winners of those who made it past the Pitch phase in the contest.

General Fiction
YA Fiction

I searched the YA list; not once, nor twice, but seven times to make sure my name was missing. I did a “Find” for my real name, my pen name, my birth name, my mother’s maiden name–just in case. Nothing. So, I repeated the search on the GenFic list, just in case it was mistakenly categorized. Nothing.

So, I am putting the whole experience into perspective.
1. The contest entry is really only equal to a single query submission.
2. I know the pitch I am currently including in queries is much stronger than the original I submitted to the contest.

Here’s the new tagline:

Starting over can be a good thing—unless you’ve already lived a thousand lifetimes,
and still can’t get it right.

Here’s the new Pitch:

Oblivion. Rebirth. Failure. Oblivion.

Capritare has no idea how many times he has repeated this sequence, but he knows it is time to end it. He stands before the three sovereign entities. Which one will lead him to completion: the masculine Yramid, the feminine Pheras, or the mysterious Esque? He will be granted seven such choices in his short lifetime, after which he will be judged.

He is not alone on his quest. Hundreds of others struggle with the ever-changing embellishments of wings, antlers, tentacles; and the search for a lifelong companion. In a world where girls can be masculine, boys can be feminine, and everyone can switch at any time—Capritare experiments to find a mate. His experiences lead him through the sweetness of love, and the pain of disappointment.

As the seventh cycle ends, they each must vow to only one of the entities. Capritare is drawn to one in particular, but he is afraid to eat the proffered seed that will confirm his choice. If it is the wrong one, he will return—yet again—to oblivion.

So, like all the other “losers”, I move on. Time for another querying blitz! And I’ll be trolling the blogs to see how many more response posts I can find.

[Disclaimer: At the request of a friend, I must note that this is not a self-pitying post. The title and use of the the term “Loser” are intended as tongue-in-cheek hyperbole!] ::: insert smirk here :::

Not "Will", But "Which"

I declare that from this moment forward, I will stop thinking:
Will an agent represent my novel? Will s/he be able to snag a publisher?

I declare that from this moment forward, I will begin thinking:
Which agent will snatch up my novel? Which publisher is going to beg to print it?

*** UPDATE 2/17/12 ***
Well, it WILL NOT be my top choice–Barry Goldblatt… WHICH other agent will it be?

30 Minute Rejection

Over the last two days, I have focused on an agent querying blitz.  At this point, I have submitted thirty-six queries. By researching not just each agency’s website, but also blogs and online interviews, I have been able to further narrow down the hundreds and hundreds of agents to a much more manageable list.

There are 5 agents in particular that I would most like to court. These constitute my “All-Star” list. I am drawn to these agents for a number of reasons:
– Past success as measured by recent and overall manuscript placement
– An amazing roster of current clients represented
– An interest in novels with the themes, genre and demographic-target of my Capritare trilogy

I pulled out all the stops when querying these agents. In addition to following the “Submission Guidelines” perfectly (as always), I also tailored the query using specific information I learned about the agents online. It will be interesting to see if this experiment results in anything more than a good ol’ form rejection.

Speaking of rejections…

I received my quickest one ever today. I emailed the query, and within thirty minutes, got my response.

“Sent from my Ipad.
Thanks, but we will pass.”

If only an acceptance from one of my All-Star agents would come through that quickly.

Two Cents

There is a great line from a Jay Brannan song that says:I should have million of dollars, ’cause every asshole’s put two cents in.

I have been receiving a lot of useful feedback from the authors & readers at Authonomy. Most of the comments have been helpful in pointing out issues that my myopic view of the story won’t allow me to see. These suggestions have helped me further polish the narrative to a lustrous sheen.

As with opinions on any topic, many can be disregarded outright. This has become most apparent when receiveing reviews from readers who don’t normally delve into the fantasy genre. One issue that has been noted, is that the storia begins in media res. The stage is set, the characters are already in place, and the reader is allowed to sit around a campfire-of-sorts and join a conversation which has already begun. The backstory unfolds for the reader as the characters discover the truths for themselves.

I feel strongly about dropping the reader into the midst of the opening scene where they begin to learn about the world from the characters’ viewpoint. Having just been “reborn” in a sense, the characters are beginning their journey, and we are taken along for the ride. I found an interview of literary agent Laurie McLean by Stacey O’Neale here . Laurie addresses this issue in one of her responses.

Q: With fiction partials, what makes you stop reading and start skimming-or stop reading altogether?
A: The usual suspects. Grammatical errors, misspellings, too much exposition, too little character revelation, using too many words to say something, passive verbs, too little or too much world building, slow pacing, backstory, etc. In this modern age, and especially with fantasy, you need to pack as much power into your opening scene as possible. Your world should be front and center, but not so much that you slow the pacing of the action to a crawl. Banish backstory in this scene. Instead feather it throughout the manuscript-exactly what is needed exactly when the reader needs to know it, not before. And make your characters compelling. If the reader doesn’t like the character enough to want to take the journey of a story with them, you’ve lost me.

I may very well be using this excerpt as a proof-text to prove that my instinct is correct. That’s okay. I can bend a little on providing a bit more explanation up front if needed. CAPRITARE: The Cycles Begin doesn’t currently have a “Prologue”, so I can always add a lead-in if need be. But, I am going to hold out and wait for that recommendation to come from an agent, not a non-fantasy-reading-reviewer.

I’m with Jay. I ought to be a millionaire.

Between the Lines

Writing takes time. Unfortunately, so does the rest of life; breathing, hygeine, social life, making a living…

My current means of paying the bills comes from self-employment. My partner and I own Lucah Designs. We sell antiques (as-is and refurbished), industrial furniture (cleaned and converted to domestic use), and newly created pieces (artistic, one-of-a-kind items upcycled from antique components). Over the last two weeks, my motivation has been more towards the writing endeavors than the business side of things.

Today, we pack up for Atlanta. We set up our wares there at the Scott Antique Market once a month in hopes that folks will fall in love with our pieces. It’s hit and miss, but that the way it is.

The good thing about doing shows is that there is plenty of down-time while we man the booth. Plus, I get twenty hours in the van on the trip down and back. While this time isn’t all that conducive for writing fresh words, it is excellent for editing those already put down on paper. So, I have less guilt of writing between the lines, focusing on my craft, within the fits and starts of the business of making money.

My partner, Micah, is amazingly understanding about this bent of mine towards writing. He actually grants me more time to do it than I deserve. In the backs of both of our minds is the hope that–one day–it will all  be worth it. All it takes is that one book to take off. Then, it can run in the background, adding to the income stream. Even a tiny tributary will help relieve the pressure of creating, creating, creating while never knowing if the masses are going to appreciate what we have made.

Then again, I guess writing has that same unknown factor. Authors can hack away at a manuscript and create that magnum opus only to have it collect dust in the backroom of the workshop. We have had plenty of furniture pieces do that. We think the English Lowboy from the 1720’s is amazing, wonderful, an easy sell. Yet, we drag it to show after show, put it online, display it in our storefront, and hold on to it far longer than we anticipated.

Sounds a lot like sitting on a polished manuscript to me.

Ah, but that’s no reason to stop creating: furniture or novels. Eventually, if the piece is strong enough, someone will fall in love with. Hundreds of buyers pass by our booth for every one that stops, inspects, questions, then pulls out the cold hard cash.

I’ll keep writing. I’ll keep putting my work out there to be judged and assessed. What’s the point of creating a piece if I don’t do all I can to get it to the right audience? Even if we have to store the finished pieces for a while, eventually, they all sell.

A New Addiction

Authonomy is addictive.

I am a goal-oriented chap. Authonomy is a like crack to an overachiever like me. The site dangles the huge, yummy carrot of making it to the Editor’s Desk in front of hopeful authors. And we claw after it.

When the month ends, the top five books on the site make it to the ED, and recieve a review from Harper Collins. That’s it. While a professional review is a good thing, biting into Authonomy’s Holy Grail is not a promise of publication. I read in one of the forums that only four of the past ED books have been picked up by Harper Collins.

Still, we strive.

That striving takes on many forms; forum participation, shameless email pleading, promises of read-swaps, the targeting of both newbies and high-ranking members, etc. My personal efforts have been mainly offering thorough, honest critiques of authors’ first two or three chapters. I enjoy the analysis, and it keeps my editorial eye keen.

At this point, after signing up thirteen days ago, I have read more than ninety chapters. Unless the writing is completely indecipherable–or utterly boring–I provide specific feedback on both the contents and mechanics. About 75% of the authors have responded with their own comments on my novel.

So, as far as addictions go, Authonomy doesn’t have a lot of noticeable side-effects. It does, however, have some positive ones:

  • The more I read others’ writing, the better I am becoming at weighing the merit of my own
  • While the many of the resulting comments offer platitudes, a few contain solid feedback i have already implemented to hone my manuscript
  • The process definitely tightens up the self-marketing skills–which will be helpful once my novel is actually in print & e-reader format (YES! It will happen.)
  • There are some amazing, quirky authors on Authonomy, and it’s great to connect with like minds

[Disclaimer: These are probably just the ramblings of an addict trying to justify his addiction…]

Comments, feedback, a six-star rating, and placing my book on your Authonomy shelf are all welcome.

[Damnnit! There I go again.]