Tuesday, November 29, 2005

THE MILLER SISTERS #53

ANOTHER DAY AT COLLEGE FOR A CHRISTIAN GIRL ... WITH SUPER POWERS ...

And now, episode #53 of my wife's twice-a-week online comic strip, The Miller Sisters ...

The story details the life of sisters Julia and Cassie. Big sis Julia is packing for college when her mother breaks the news: Julia is going to inherit super powers!

Younger sis Cassie is already jealous of all the normal things ... and now her big sister is going to be a superhero?

(Updated every Tuesday and Friday.)

Friday, November 25, 2005

WAY GALLERY

Here is a recent article from the Nashville Tennessean on the opening of the local Way Gallery, a cute little art gallery opened by our friend (and in which Erica recently showed some of her work.)

The opening of the Way Gallery on Highway 100 is a dream come true for Suzanne Gaudette Way.

The artist, who opened her gallery about a month ago, is enjoying filling her days with painting and teaching others about the craft she loves.

Rest of the story (and pictures) here. If you're in the area, you should check the gallery out.

THE MILLER SISTERS #52

ANOTHER DAY AT COLLEGE FOR A CHRISTIAN GIRL ... WITH SUPER POWERS ...

As we continue our lazy, post-Thanksgiving dinner weekend, my wife posted episode #52 of her comic strip The Miller Sisters ...

The story details the life of sisters Julia and Cassie. Big sis Julia is packing for college when her mother breaks the news: Julia is going to inherit super powers!

Younger sis Cassie is already jealous of all the normal things ... and now her big sister is going to be a superhero?



Thursday, November 24, 2005

THANKSGIVING UPDATES GALORE

I guess I'm getting down to the final edits of Deliver Us From Evelyn. Yesterday, I was pdf'd a set of new pages that were added after the book had already been typeset.

We went through galley corrections a couple of weeks ago -- for those of you don't know what that means, the "galley" in this case is the typeset pages that are sent around to reviewers and other people who need to read the book before it is published.

During the galley stage, I am surprised to say, I made some significant cuts to the book. In fact, between the 10 pages or so I cut (including three entire chapters), and the two expanded chapters and all-new chapter in these pages yesterday, anyone reading an advance galley of the book is in for a different experience.

The end result is that book you see on shelves come March 2006 will be tighter, leaner, and more action-packed.

(I wonder -- do all novelists make such savage changes so late in the process?)

I also just now uploaded a revised version of my page at StudioWell.com. While not a complete overhaul, it does position it more as my "official" site. Although the ForgivingSolo site has been good to me (and, over the past 8 or 9 months, has grown to include links to pretty much every scrap of info about me or the book that can be found on the Web), it is hardly my "brand." For the rest of these five novels -- and the many novels I hope to write after that -- I need to develop an online home that will work for all of them.

Well, I guess that's enough of my Thanksgiving holiday wasted on the computer.

Happy holiday weekend to everybody!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

SUBMITTED!

My debut novel, Forgiving Solomon Long, has officially been submitted for The Thriller, the new literary award from International Thriller Writers, Inc. I was submitted in the "Best First Novel" category. See me on the list for yourself.

(For those of you who missed the excitement a few months ago, I was also submitted in the "Best First Novel" category for the Edgar, the official award for the Mystery Writers of America. See me on the list here.)

Just a reminder: This is not a nomination.

But it's still awesome.

THE MILLER SISTERS #51

ANOTHER DAY AT COLLEGE FOR A CHRISTIAN GIRL ... WITH SUPER POWERS ...

This morning, my wife posted episode #51 of her comic strip The Miller Sisters ...

The story details the life of sisters Julia and Cassie. Big sis Julia is packing for college when her mother breaks the news: Julia is going to inherit super powers!

Younger sis Cassie is already jealous of all the normal things ... and now her big sister is going to be a superhero?



Monday, November 21, 2005

SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL AMAZON LIST

These are lists on Amazon that include my debut crime thriller, Forgiving Solomon Long ...

AMAZON: LISTMANIA!
"New Masters of Suspense"
"Some Books Loaded With Good Writing"
"Character Transformation"
"Books Deserving A Larger Audience"

If you see my novel on any other lists (not counting the ones I myself have made, of course), let me know!


MUSIC RISING: AIDING MUSICIANS AFFECTED BY KATRINA AND RITA

Following a visit to New Orleans late last week, U2’s The Edge unveiled Music Rising, a campaign to raise funds to replace the lost instruments and accessories of the musicians affected by the hurricanes that devastated the Gulf Coast region two months ago.

Lead partners Gibson Guitar and Guitar Center Music Education Foundation have spearheaded the initial effort by collaborating on the design, manufacture and sale of an exclusive Gibson guitar with all proceeds going directly to the Music Rising program. The guitar will be available through Guitar Center. The instrument captures the essence of the Gulf Coast’s musical tradition. A very limited quantity will be produced with all proceeds benefiting Music Rising and a pledge of $1 million in support.

The Gibson Music Rising guitar features hand-painted designs using the colors of Mardi Gras. Each guitar will be individually painted and handmade so no two will be alike. All of the usual plastic parts (back plate, pick guard, toggle cover, truss rod cover) have been replaced by woods from the States affected by the hurricanes and the Music Rising logo, exclusive to this guitar, is etched into the pick guard.


The Edge visited New Orleans on Thurs., Nov. 17 between U2’s current “Vertigo” tour dates in order to see the profound impact on the area first-hand and to spend time with local musicians, listening to their experiences and trying to understand their needs. During his stay, he toured several neighborhoods and struggling venues.

“My recent visit to New Orleans gave me a firsthand look at the devastation which tragically destroyed the lives of thousands. The area’s rich and spirited culture must be restored and can be by assisting those musicians affected by the disaster which in turn will bring back the essence of the regions,” said Edge. “Providing replacement instruments through Music Rising will not only help the professional musicians to regain a foothold on their future, but will also ensure that one of the Gulf Coast’s greatest assets, its music, will rise again.”

For information on Music Rising go to www.musicrising.org.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

TEMPEST: DISASTER RELIEF

I just received this email from Sherwin Schwartzrock at Community Comics:

"Community Comics felt compelled to do something to help with the hurricane relief effort. We asked other Christian comic professionals to join us and the result is Tempest.

"The story is really about us as artists. We are usually poor and so far away from the need -- so what can one man do to help? The answer will surprise you.

"Tempest will be in stores February. 100-percent of proceeds from the sale will go to the Salvation Army.

Yet we'd like to do more. Since the message of the comic is also important, our goal is to also print 50,000 comics to give away during the Salvation Army's kettle campaign. If you would like to help, you can donate on the Community Comics webpage promoting the book: http://communitycomics.com/comics_tempest.html

While you're there, please take the time to preview some of the art. We'll be updating these pages as the colored pages come in."
Participating artists include:

Randy Green (Witchblade, Emma Frost, Dollz)
Javier Saltares (David’s Mighty Men, Wolverine, G I Joe)
Sherwin Schwartzrock (ArmorQuest, Deal with the Devil)
Sergio Cariello (Batman, Sojourn, Spider-Man)
Mike Worley (The Simpsons, Archie Comics)
Tom Bancroft (Big Idea, Disney, Opposite Forces)
Phil Hester (Nightwing, Green Arrow, The Wretch)
Tim Kane (Wildguard, Super Crazy TNT Blast!!)
Mario Ruiz (Samson, Testament)
Gary Shipman (Pakkin’s Land, Amazing True Life Stories)
Darren Brady (Handel’s Messiah, HeroTV)
Jesse Hamm (Bitten Apple, Savage Daisies)
Gary Martin (The Moth, Nexus)

For preview pages and more info about how to help, go to the official site.

MY LATEST WORK


I just can't stick with NaNoWriMo this time. Don't get me wrong: I am still working on the book, but the "Keep pressing forward, don't worry about where it's going" part of it just does not work for me. I like the comfort of an outline.

So I printed out the 45 pages I had, started working on the outline for Part 1 of Novel #3, and am now merging the two. The story I have is an ensemble piece, a jigsaw puzzle where the various characters do not really intersect until late in the novel. This is not a process that lends itself to blazing through 50,000 words in 30 days or less.

I may try NaNoWriMo again next year. (Then again, my idea for Novel #4 is also kind of complicated, too.)

One good thing: NaNoWriMo 2005 gave me a good kick-start for this novel, or I might stll be noodling around with the outline.

On another note, I did finish up a comic book script last night. There is a group of Nashville writers and artists who meet twice a month at Rick's Comics City to chat about comics, encourage each other, and share what we're working on. Lately, a few of decided it would be a worthy exercise to collaborate on a "shared universe" comic book. So we created a city, and are now writing 8-page scripts that glimpse into the lives of ordinary workaday joes (and janes) who live in this city of extraordinary mystery. (The nearest comparison would be something like Common Grounds or Astro City.)

My latest contribution is a story that introduces the city hospital and its staff. Because of the aforementioned comparisons to Common Grounds and Astro City, I wanted to add some non-superhero elements to the mix to make it a little different -- so it has some sci-fi and horror elements, all mixed up into one 8-page story.

Will this script ever see print? I don't know. You still need someone to do the art (pencils, and inks, at least) and then someone to do the lettering. There are a lot of pieces that go into a simple comic book story.

But as exercises go, I feel good about it.

If you are an aspiring writer, I cannot stress this enough: All writing is valuable. To be a better writer, you need to write and write and write. (And then, of course, rewrite and rewrite and rewrite.)

But if in one of my Kansas City novels you see Detective Charlie Pasch suddenly doing a comic book story about a hospital with robots and superheroes and monsters, you'll know where it came from.

;)

SHOW ME THE MONEY ... ANY MONEY AT ALL

Lee Goldberg has some more links to big-deal professional novelists blogging about how tough it is to make a living writing novels.

Friday, November 18, 2005

INT'L THRILLER WRITERS!


Be sure to sign up for the Thriller Readers Newsletter! It's the official newsletter of International Thriller Writers, Inc! It's free! And everyone on the email list is automatically entered for a drawing for free books! (Exclamation point!)


THE MILLER SISTERS #50

ANOTHER DAY AT COLLEGE FOR A CHRISTIAN GIRL ... WITH SUPER POWERS ...

If it's Friday, that means another episode of the comic strip The Miller Sisters was posted this morning.

Written and drawn by my wife, Erica, the story details the life of sisters Julia and Cassie. Big sis Julia is packing for college when her mother breaks the news: Julia is going to inherit super powers!

Younger sis Cassie is already jealous of all the normal things ... and now her big sister is going to be a superhero?

Thursday, November 17, 2005

CONVERSATION WITH ANNE RICE

Provided by publisher Alfred A. Knopf: A conversation with Anne Rice, author of CHRIST THE LORD: OUT OF EGYPT

---

What led you to the idea of writing this book, and then to the actual writing of it?

Obsession led me to write this book, and it's been that way with every book I've ever written. I become completely consumed by a theme, by characters, by a desire to meet a challenge, and the book begins to grow. With CHRIST THE LORD, the obsession began in my earliest childhood in pure religious devotion.

Though I broke with my religion in college, I was still obsessed with religious questions, the basics -- Why are we here? Why is the world so beautiful? Why is it so important that we lead good lives, even when we don't believe in an afterlife?

I never stopped with this obsessive thinking and exploring, and the idea for the book -- Jesus in his own words -- was always there. I went back to the Catholic Church in 1998, completely. In 2002, when I was sitting in church before Mass one Saturday evening, I made the declaration to Christ that I would do this book and nothing else. And the entire purpose, shape, tone -- all of that came together.

Those familiar with your work will immediately recognize this subject matter as a departure for you. Assuming you agree, why head down this particular road?

This subject is in no way a departure from that of my previous works; no one who knows my work could possibly think so. The whole theme of INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE was Louis's quest for meaning in a godless world. He searched to find the oldest existing "immortal" simply to ask "What is the meaning of what we are?" I was always compelled to seek the "big answers."

Jesus Christ narrates this book. Explain your decision to make him the narrator.

Jesus is the first-person narrator of this book because the use of first-person narrators is the way I know how to write a book with the greatest power and chance of artistic success. The intimate voice of the narrator in earlier novels worked powerfully for me.

My first novel was written that way. Though I've written many novels in the third person, I've never felt as close to the characters as I felt to Louis, Lestat, Marius, and, finally, to this character, this fictional "creation" of Christ the Lord.

The Author's Note in the book touches on the research that you did. What did that research comprise? What types of texts did you consult?

Research was as total as I could make it. As I explain in the Author's Note, I explored the ancient authors -- Josephus, Philo of Alexandria, the writings of the sages, the rabbis, the Evangelists, the Bible itself relentlessly.

But I also studied as much as I could of current archaeology having to do with first-century Palestine. I read as much as I could in New Testament scholarship, reading books by cynical critics of Christ, skeptics who wanted to debunk Him, and also great scholars. I read the great Catholic scholars Meier and Brown, and others.

The field is far too vast for me to be comprehensive, and my work is ongoing. I do not read the ancient languages, but I am beginning to study Greek.

How did you sort out issues of artistic license when it came to a story the basics of which are almost universally known (if not universally believed to be true)?

When it comes to this book, artistic license does not really exist. What I did was take the Jesus of the Gospels, the Son of God, the Son of the Virgin Mary, and sought to make Him utterly believable -- a vital breathing character. Of course, I created fictional scene and dialogue, but it is all within an immense and solid frame.

This was a huge challenge. I had to move in His world, and know His world, and that took the immense research. But license? I took as little as possible. I worked within the strictures of what we have been taught about Christ the Lord. That's why I used the title.

Would you hope that readers would come away from this book understanding and knowing more about Christianity and the figure of Christ, or did you write it for people to simply enjoy as a novel?

I wrote this book to make Christ real to people who had never thought about Him as real. I wrote this book to make the readers care so much about Him that they see him perhaps as never before. I wrote it for all my readers and for all readers.

Re-telling the Christian story is the essence of my vocation. And we re-tell that story so that it can be heard anew. That has been going on since the Evangelists in one form or another.

I am no Evangelist. But I am an artist who wants to make the most significant art I can make. And for this art to have value, it must be utterly true to the spirit of Christ as I have received it from multiple sources: the Gospels, my church, my prayers, my meditation.

For people who are not coming to the book from any particular religious background, what do you hope they'll take away from it? Put another way, do you think an atheist could ever like this book?

I hope readers will come away caring passionately about this character, Jesus Christ, and wanting to know infinitely more about Him. We have become so de-sensitized to language pertaining to Jesus. I've tried to re-invent Jesus for those who don't want to think about Him or know Him.

I hope that readers who do not come from a religious background will take away a sense of Jesus, the Jew, and Jesus, the child of miracles.

And I hope that the book will give pleasure and satisfaction for those who do know Him and care about Him, and that does seem to be happening.

I hope biblical scholars will see something here they can recommend. I hope atheists will feel a part of the world inside the book, and say "I was there!" I hope my oldest readers will embrace this character as they have Marcel, or Tonio, or Lestat or Louis in the past.

Of course I think an atheist could like this book, because it brings to life the period, the milieu, the people who brought about one of the greatest religious revolutions in history.

I tried to do justice to Jesus in every conceivable way I knew in this book. I can't give any more to anything than what I've given to this book.

Were you nervous about writing this story, either from a personal standpoint or because of any concern about how closely or intensely it would be scrutinized?

No, I wasn't nervous. I was scared to death. I was so scared I couldn't do it, yet I felt so compelled to. I went almost out of my mind as I sank into this material and as I prayed and studied and wrote. I was terrified. But I knew I had to do this. I felt strongly that no one had done it in the way that I was doing it.

There have been many novels about Jesus Christ, but there has not, to my knowledge, been one like this, one that accommodated entirely all the knowledge we are given about Jesus while maintaining that Jesus is who He said He was: The Son of God.

I was scared to death of being attacked and misunderstood, and pre-judged. Above all, I was and am scared of being dismissed. But it does not matter. I will go on writing the best books I can possibly write about this subject no matter what happens to me.

Will you ever write another Vampire novel?

I can't see myself doing that. My vampires were metaphors for the outsiders, the lost, the wanderers in the darkness who remembered the warmth of God's light but couldn't find it. My wish to explore that is gone now. I want to meet a much bigger challenge.

The book ends when Jesus is still a boy. Is there a sequel on the way?

Yes, there are sequels on the way. I feel that keenly and can't deny it -- I don't want to deny it. But this book must stand on its own. And I did what I set out to do in so far as I talked and walked and saw with my character within the Gospel framework, and in light of the latest research in many fields. I feel a great satisfaction in having done that.

What do you make of the current religious climate in this country?

I wish that we had more visible Christian and Catholic leaders who talked about love. We have many, but we could use more. It is tragic that many in America think of us --- the Christians --- as being people who hate others.

We need leaders who open their arms to others. We need leaders like Fulton Sheen and Billy Graham and Rick Warren and N. T. Wright. We need to love one another; we need to acknowledge the goodness and the good intentions of our brothers and sisters; we need to stop fighting Christian against Christian. I have no time now for anything but trying to love other people. That is a full-time job. To fill my writing with that will take everything I have.

I want to love all the children of God -- Christian, Jew, Moslem, Hindu, Buddhist -- everyone. I want to love Gay Christians and straight Christians.

But the point is, we need people to make visible the great embracing and compassionate message of Christianity, people to continue the revolution started by Christ Himself, people to bear witness that the story of Jesus Christ is going on and on without end, gaining power with each century, and reaching more and more people.

We need saints. We have to become saints. We have to become like Christ. Anything less is simply not enough. The world doesn't need any more mediocrity or hedged bets.

See an excerpt of CHRIST THE LORD here.


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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

CHANGE OF SCENERY

PW's Religion BookLine reports on Anne Rice's book tour as she hits the road with Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt (Knopf):

It was a dark and stormy night…just the right atmosphere for former gothic novelist Anne Rice's booksigning at Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., on Monday. It was Rice's seventh bookstore event on a multi-city tour for Christ the Lord, and a chance to see how her change-of-genre gamble from horror to faith fiction is playing with her fans. Was she nervous when she started the tour? "No, determined," Rice told RBL. "Whatever happens, happens."


I have not had the opportunity to read the book yet for myself, but the press kit came with a lengthy Q&A. I will share that here soon, probably as a three-part set.





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NO TROUBLE HERE

The debut novel from Jan Watson, "Operation First Novel" award-winner Troublesome Creek (Tyndale House), is now in stores.

The book's origins go back to 2001, when Jan attended a writers' conference where she was challenged to see her writing as a ministry. She began to take her writing seriously, and submitted Troublesome Creek to the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild "Operation First Novel" competition in 2004.

Selected from nearly 300 entries, Troublesome Creek was the award-winning manuscript. Along with her monetary award, Watson was presented with a contract from Tyndale House to publish her first novel, to be personally edited by bestselling author Jerry B. Jenkins.

Here is the description:

Set in the hills of Kentucky in the late 1800s, this heartwarming "coming of age" novel presents Laura "Copper" Grace, who faces the possibility of losing everything that is precious to her when her stepmother threatens to send her away to boarding school. Nothing could drag her off the mountain until one day when she realized there was something good ahead for her -- something more than she could ever dream or imagine -- something that was God's very best for her life.
Jan is a retired registered nurse who specialized for 25 years in the care of newborns and their mothers. She lives in Kentucky where she and her late husband, Charles, raised three children. Always a "late bloomer," she didn't begin to write until her husband bought her a word processor as a Christmas gift seven years ago. Find her online at www.janwatson.net.

For more info about the Christian Writers Guild, go to their official site.

KAMIKAZE GIRL

Silver Bullet Comics columnist Valerie D'Orazio recently posted her list of the 12 most inspiring people she has met in comics. Alongside such greats as Walt Simonson, Heidi MacDonald and Darwyn Cooke, Ms. D'Orazio was kind enough to include my wife, Erica Well (who happens to be a former co-worker from their days at DC Comics).

She also plugs Erica's twice-a-week online comic strip, The Miller Sisters.

Huzzah!

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

THROW THE BOOK

Fellow Faith*in*Fiction novelist Joseph Nassise found his latest horror novel, Heretic, publicized in this unusual (and encouraging) story in the Orlando Sentinel:

Teens doing time by the book
Reading club helps jailed youths learn, earn privileges

[snip]

As members of the Literature 'n Living book club at the Orange County Jail's youthful-offender program, they can score a brief visit with their families and a home-cooked meal by reading a book, passing a test on it and making a speech.

On Wednesday, that book was Joseph Nassise's Heretic, which is about an ancient order of Vatican knights fighting a bloody battle between good and evil. One main character is a former cop who is haunted by his wife's murder.


Find more about Joe and his novel at his official site.

THE MILLER SISTERS

ANOTHER DAY AT COLLEGE FOR A CHRISTIAN GIRL ... WITH SUPER POWERS ...

If it's Tuesday, that means another episode of the comic strip The Miller Sisters was posted this morning.

Written and drawn by my wife, Erica, the story details the life of sisters Julia and Cassie. Big sis Julia is packing for college when her mother breaks the news: Julia is going to inherit super powers!

Younger sis Cassie is already jealous of all the normal things ... and now her big sister is going to be a superhero?

Monday, November 14, 2005

DELIVER US FROM EVELYN

My second novel, Deliver Us From Evelyn (Harvest House), does not hit stores until March 2006 -- but has already started turning up at online retail sites all over the Web. (Including Amazon, Wal-Mart and Books-A-Million, among others.)

This early in the game, few of them have posted much in the way of a description. But I see that Christianbook.com has posted a fun take on the promised shenanigans.

Evelyn Blake may live in the heartland---but there's nothing sentimental about her or her Kansas City media empire. When her reclusive billionaire husband runs for mayor, and then suddenly goes missing, it seems everybody in town is climbing on the detective bandwagon. Will they find answers---or more trouble than they bargained for?

(See the Harvest House description here.)


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40 DAY 'TIL CHRISTMAS

A HIT MAN IS HAUNTED BY A PREACHER'S DYING WORDS:

"I FORGIVE YOU."

FORGIVING SOLOMON LONG (Harvest House Publishers), Chris Well

"A dark tale filled with ironic twists and turns ... action-packed prose for readers with a taste for bittersweet crime drama." -- Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine

"A hard-edged, mean streets story--in which God's grace shines all the brighter. Forgiving Solomon Long heralds a new day in Christian suspense." -- Brandilyn Collins, best-selling author

"Forgiving Solomon Long was a very exciting read. A few chapters in and I was hooked: 'Forget the housework -- let's see what's happening next!' " -- Laurel Grider, member, Bethel World Outreach Center, Nashville, TN

Read the first chapter online

Ask for it wherever crime fiction is sold.

Online:
Compare Prices Online
Buy now at Amazon.com
Buy now at Christianbook.com
Buy now at Walmart.com
Buy now at The MTV Shop
Buy now at Books-A-Million.com
Buy now at Barnes and Noble.com
Buy now at Davis-Kidd

Brick-And-Mortar:
Barnes & Noble / B. Dalton Store Locator
Borders Stores Locator
Family Christian Stores Finder
LifeWay Christian Store Location

Parable Christian Stores Locator
Find an independent bookseller near you
Find a Christian retailer near you

Book Clubs:
Crossings Book Club
Mystery Guild Book Club
Zooba Book Club




Two Wrongs Don't Make a Write

"Beginning writers must appreciate the prerequisites if they hope to become writers. You pay your dues -- which takes years." -- Alex Haley

"After Michelangelo died, someone found in his studio a piece of paper on which he had written a note to his apprentice, in the handwriting of his old age: 'Draw, Antonio, draw, Antonio, draw and do not waste time.'" -- Annie Dillard, The Writing Life

While on staff at a particular magazine, I was editing the transcript of an interview with legendary baseball pitcher Carl Erskine. At the end of the interview, we get to this exchange:
Any advice to a young person who'd like to spend his life playing baseball?

Erskine: I get letters from kids who ask that question, "Give me some advice what should I do" and "When should I start throwing a curve ball" and all that stuff. And again, Bill, really ... in your profession, in singing, if you want to go somewhere, you've got to do that. You couldn't be a singer of any note and never sing anyplace. Well you've got to find a way, as a baseball player, to play.

Start doing it somewhere.

Erskine: You've got to play and you've got to show your skills. That's how people find you. It's a misnomer to say that you pick baseball as a profession. Baseball'll pick you. Because they look for the talent. You play for fun, and you play for your own enjoyment. But if you have exceptional talent and you're playing, you can't hide it. They will find you.
As I read this, it struck me how much this sounds like the only answer you can give a hopeful writer. In fact, as author and poet Annie Dillard comments on page 68 of her book The Writing Life: "The writer studies literature, not the world. He lives in the world; he cannot miss it. If he has ever bought a hamburger, or taken a commercial flight, he spares his readers a report of his experience. He is careful of what he reads, for that is what he will write. He is careful of what he learns, for that is what he will know."

A couple of pages later, she adds this anecdote:
A well-known writer got collared by a university student who asked, "Do you think I could be a writer?"

"Well," the writer said, "I don't know -- Do you like sentences?"

The writer could see the student's amazement. Sentences? Do I like sentences? I am twenty years old and do I like sentences? If he had liked sentences, of course, he could begin, like a joyful painter I knew. I asked him how he came to be a painter. He said, "I liked the smell of the paint."
To add to the dialogue, here's some advice from novelist and comic book legend Neil Gaiman, as found on his site's FAQ:
How does one get published?
How do you do it? You do it.
You write.
You finish what you write.
You look for publishers who publish "that kind of thing", whatever it is. You send them what you've done (a letter asking if they'd like to see a whole manuscript or a few chapters and an outline will always be welcome. And stamped self-addressed envelopes help keep the wheels turning.)
Sooner or later, if you don't give up and you have some measurable amount of ability or talent or luck, you get published.
This has been true of my own experience. Throughout my career -- including both the awards and the rejection slips (and, yes, I have more of the latter than I do of the former, if you must know) -- none of what I have accomplished could have happened if I had not written.

You know, words on paper.

Over the years, I have met many dreamers with ideas for stories. Unfortunately, the majority of them did not understand the distinction between the idea and the sweat it takes to actually write it down and -- more importantly -- rewrite it and rewrite it until it's a finished thing.

Generally, these are the sorts of people who are first to spout off that they won't put in the sweat or effort until after they get their "big break."

However, as Solomon put it a long time ago: "Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men." -- Proverbs 22:29

Note that the person in the quote was doing the "skilled" work before his big break came. (Which, of course, led to his big break.) As in any discipline -- whether you want to write a novel or you want to sell shoes or whatever it is that you want to do -- it's the person who pushes himself or herself to excel, to be the best, who gets noticed.

Those who are saving their creative energy until after their big break are in for a long wait.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW

"... a young woman has robbed four Wachovia bank branches in Northern Virginia in recent weeks, all while seemingly immersed in cell phone chats, police say. In the most recent holdup, on Nov. 4 in Ashburn, video footage shows the woman to be almost uninterested as a teller hands her a stack of cash, and she continues talking on her phone as she turns and walks out of the bank."

See the whole story in yesterday's Washington Post.

Friday, November 11, 2005

THINGS ARE GOING TO START HAPPENING TO ME NOW

As of my welcome email last night, you are looking at the latest member of International Thriller Writers.

I'm not much of a joiner, really, but I knew early on that if I am going to build this noveling thing into a trade, I needed to join up with some sort of trade organization.

There are, of course, many fine organizations out there. But International Thriller Writers -- less than a year old, and already 250-plus novelists strong -- has some creative plans in place for promoting the genre (and their members) to new readers.

AAARGH!

CNN reports that the brilliant, much-acclaimed, not-much-watched television series Arrested Development has gotten the axe.

Argh!

There is already so little I care about on the air these days, this just pushes me further into watching my TV exclusively on DVD ...

Thursday, November 10, 2005

NANOWRINO

LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW: The completely awesome smooth R&B album Street Soul (Beatmart), by Pee Wee Callins.

For those of you who aren't (yet) with the program, this is National Novel Writing Month. The deal is to write a 50,000-word novel between Nov. 1 and midnight Nov. 30.

Since I already have a novel due with Harvest House in a few months, this seemed as good time as any to get cracking. My first week went pretty well; I made it to about 12,000 words. However, since a lot of that was "info dump" type stuff, I quickly realized it was turning into less of a novel and into more of a really, really big synopsis, or even (to sound arty) a "proto-novel."

However, as I mentioned over at the Faith*in*Fiction message board,
I now have my doubts about making it to 50,000 words for my novel-in-a-month by Nov. 30. I just spent the last few days editing the galley for Deliver Us From Evelyn ... and not only does that put me behind with NaNoWriMo, but now my brain is fried.

(And it does not help that I am the proud owner of The Munsters Season Two and have yet to watch any of it.)

But I'll trudge on and see how far I get ...

LEAVING MITFORD

Yesterday, USA Today posted this article on the end of Jan Karon's popular "Mitford" novels.

Best-selling author Jan Karon, 68, is closing the book on her popular Mitford series, with the ninth, Light from Heaven (Viking, $26.95), out this week.

"I have no more stories to tell about Mitford," she says of the novels that chronicle the escapades of the affable Episcopal priest Father Tim Kavanagh in the charming village of Mitford, N.C.

There are 25 million copies of her 15 books in print, including two children's books. Her work, which has Christian overtones, has a devout following.

Fans of character Father Tim will be glad to know that Karon is starting a new series starring the 70-year-old priest. The "Father Tim Novels" launches fall 2007.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

THE NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE MID- TO LOW-SELLING

This WSJ story has been all over the blogosphere this morning:

The Name Blame: Authors Take Aliases To Cover Up Flops

With Stores Tracking Sales, One Bad Book Is Poison

These days, publishing veterans talk about "the death spiral" of authors' careers. A first novel generates terrific reviews and good sales, but with each succeeding book, sales get weaker and the chains cut their orders until they don't stock any at all.


See the story at the Wall Street Journal here ...

With additional comment from Sarah Weinman at Galley Cat and Lee Goldberg at A Writer's Life ...

(I guess this means I should start sharpening up a list of potential pen names.)

Monday, November 07, 2005

YOU CAN'T MAKE STUFF LIKE THIS UP

With Deliver Us From Evelyn, I tried to deliver a sort of "ripped from the headlines" feel; although the book was written and turned in several months ago, recent news stories have shown that fiction is rarely that far ahead of the real thing ...

Exhibit A:
MAFIA INFILTRATE RUPE'S POST? (NYDN)
A reputed mobster boasted of the Bonanno crime family's alleged hooks in the New York Post in a conversation secretly taped this year by a wire-wearing former Mafia boss.

Exhibit B:
"I REALLY CANNOT BE DESTROYED" (FORTUNE)
The inside story of how the unsinkable Martha Stewart staged her comeback—transforming her board, remaking public opinion, invading prime time.

It will be interesting to see, by the time Deliver Us From Evelyn sees print, whether any of it is even fictional anymore ...

Die Laughing: Funny Crime and Mystery Fiction

SHE'S THE SHERIFF!

A woman with a complicated past returns home to become the small town's new sheriff. Best Mann For The Job is by the writer/artist team of Chris and Erica Well. Read it from the beginning at StudioWell.com. Watch the trailer on YouTube.