Friday, September 17, 2010

AN ASPIRING AUTHOR By: Claude Bouchard

He wakes in the morning and heads directly into the computer room where he fires up the PC. The 23 inch flat-screen comes to life and he waits the moments required for the CPU to crunch through its morning ritual, its own awakening to deal with another day.

The coffee maker starts to burble and he goes down into the kitchen, feeding the cats while the caffeine brew drips into the pot. Minutes go by and he returns upstairs armed with two full cups, one he leaves on his spouse's nightstand, as she will soon rise as well.

Back at the command center, he slips back onto the web, opening tabs which will be required, as usual, for the day ahead. Followers have increased on Twitter again, he notes with satisfaction. The previous day's hits on his website demonstrate continued interest in what he has to offer the world. He sifts through new e-mails, deleting junk and reading those he deems important, though there is no earth-shattering news once again. As he verifies a few sites related to sales, he is disappointed to see that, as is often the case, few or no units were sold the previous day. Determined however, he pursues the routine as he has done for over a year, marketing himself and his products, greeting friends all over the globe, chatting and making the witty remarks for which he has become known, hoping that his efforts are not in vain.
The day goes by like all the others past, with messages sent regularly to assure his presence, all while toiling at the creation of his current work in progress. Through it all, he waits for that call, that sale, that interest that will show him that what he has done, has indeed finally been considered worthwhile.

The day ends as he closes down his command center and turns his attention to another pleasant evening with his spouse and the pursuit of other activities, of the leisure kind, aimed at taking his mind off of the dream he yearns for to become reality.

The evening draws to a close and it becomes night, a time to retire, to rest and build up the energy for a new day to come, a day which will most likely duplicate those of the past. But he remains optimistic, he remains hopeful, he remains an aspiring author.

Claude Bouchard was born in Montreal, Canada where he still resides with his spouse Joanne, as well as the rulers of the household, Krystalle and Midnight, their cats. Claude has written and self-published four novels and has recently completed work on a fifth. When Claude isn't writing or editing his work, he spends his time making noise with his guitars, painting in oil and watercolor, reading, traveling (budget permitting) and planning to work out. Claude Bouchard is represented by Tribe Literary Agency. You can learn more about this fascinating author on his website or on Twitter @ceebee308.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

ON BEING A WRITER By: Gerald Gillis

George Orwell wrote in his 1946 essay, Why I Write: "All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."

A lot of effort goes into writing a book; enormous amounts of time and energy. There are times of great excitement and moments of suffocating doubt. There is hope and promise and turn-the-page anticipation, when creating something in the sweet glow of afternoon where nothing existed in the early calm of morning. There's also the opportunity to gage the thickness of one's skin and the stoutness of one's heart, if rejection comes knocking, at once so marginalizing and discouraging that it seems as if the very demon of Orwell's essay is laughing hysterically at the folly of such a subjective undertaking. High highs and low lows are all part of the package. And by no means is the foregoing restricted to the writing profession, but still it's all there, all over the chart, sort of like the Dow Jones nowadays.

I began writing Shall Never See So Much, several years ago while I was still traveling forty six weeks a year as a member of the corporate world. I wrote at home, on airplanes, in hotel rooms and sometimes made notes (mental mind you) while driving rental cars. I chose the year 1968 to provide a setting that I thought would be interesting. I chose a brother and sister through whom I would tell my story.

I also wanted to write a block-buster best seller, become wildly famous, extensively followed, enormously wealthy and then churn out a new smash hit on my June birthday every year for the rest of my days.

And why not? What writer doesn't covet the literary Heavyweight Championship belt? That's not the whole of it, however. So why do it? Why persevere?

Because writers have a story they need to tell and a point they need to make. My story in Shall Never See So Much, involves the bravery of my characters in their times of turmoil; my point is, my belief that the human spirit is essentially, fundamentally, demonstrably heroic. I believe it because I've studied history. I believe because I've seen it in the lives of everyday people like my grandmother and my parents. I still see it in my wife and kids and now I'm starting to see it in my grand kids. They are heroes to me, real heroes, and they inspire me by their example.

That's the story I wanted to tell and the message I wanted to impart. That's why I write. That's where I find the real worth.

That's my purpose.

Gerald Gillis is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. He is married and the father of three grown children. Gerald is a graduate of the University of Tampa (MBA) and the University of Georgia (BBA). After college Gerald served for three years as an artillery officer in the Marine Corps with duty stations in the US and Okinawa/mainland Japan. He then worked as an executive in the medical devices industry where he traveled extensively, both foreign and domestically. Gerald became a full time novelist in 2009. Shall Never See So Much is his second novel. His first novel was published 25 years ago and did reasonably well, but Gerald decided that his business career would better accommodate educating kids and paying the mortgage than a career as a neophyte novelist. Hence, Gerald's writing career has resumed after a bit of a hiatus.

Friday, September 10, 2010

REJECTION IS GOOD! By: David Workman


Every author dreads them but query letters are the lifeline to the publishing world and we have to write it or not. At least, that is, if you plan to go the traditional publishing route, which is what I am currently pursuing. Sure, I could self publish (which I did with one book already) and may yet end up doing so, but for now I am going the old fashioned route and sloshing through the query swamp.

The good news is, creating a query letter isn't as hard as it used to be thanks to many, many free and cheap resources. You can 'Google' query letters and you'll get all sorts of tips on what to say, how to say it, formatting and even warnings about what agents hate. There is software you can buy to help you create the 'perfect' query letter (don't know about that) and all sorts of websites that claim they will teach you the ins and outs of paragraph sequence, catchy openings, plot summaries and the tricks to get an agent's attention. That is all well and good until you get to...

The bad news.... You still have to write the darn thing. But what do you say? How do you take the 300 page book and summarize it adequately so that the agent will get the gist of your characters and plot. Worse still, how do you summarize it in a way that doesn't water your book down so much that it sounds like every other book they have ever seen? What danger is there in describing every detail to the point that you realize you could have written a short story instead? And how many agents do you have to send it to before you get a positive response and find someone who actually wants to lay eyes on what you have spent months, years or a lifetime lovingly creating? ( And how come not everyone is as fond of it as you are? Come on people, it's great writing)
We have all heard the stories about best-selling authors being rejected over and over--Stephen King was rejected over 30 times before the right agent came along and, is now, reaping the rewards from taking a chance on an unknown whom, everyone else said would never amount to much. I bet those agents wish they had that choice to make again! What we are supposed to take away from stories like that are some sort of solace that tells us it is okay if the first agent you solicit says "No". But it is hard. I remember fondly the first rejection letter I received like it was just yesterday. Actually, it was last Tuesday, but you get the point.
I am in the process of finding an agent myself for a novel I began almost a decade ago. The manuscript is finally done and is now collecting dust on my hard drive. No, it really is. I need to clean the vent in the back of the computer...It is filthy!
Over the past week and a half, I have sent out a total of 49 queries to agents from New York to San Diego and I have gotten rejected six times. In the big picture, it is not a bad ratio. It means that I am only 25 queries away from becoming the next Stephen King. (I can dream, right?) But, over the same 10 days, three agents have requested sample chapters and pages which I hurriedly sent off. Am I excited? You betcha! Am I am rushing out to buy my new Mercedes? Uh...No. I think I will wait until I receive my first royalty check.
It really is true that each rejection gets you one agent closer to writing success. That is the attitude we need to have. So, stop staring at the computer screen. The e-mail won't change. The answer is still no, so move on to the next one. The right agent IS out there, you just have to fight your way through the weeds to find them.

David Workman is the author of one self-published non-fiction book, The Bare Bones Guide To Buying & Selling Your Home. After 16 years of writing, marketing & ad copy, David is trying his hand at fiction. He is working hard to publish his new political thriller, Absolute Authority, the traditional way. A native St. Louisan, David now lives in Hickory, North Carolina, with his wife and two children, where he continues his vain attempt to adjust to life in a small town.