Monday, January 31, 2011

What Do You Write With?

I realize that when inspiration strikes us we all have various ways of putting it down to paper. Some prefer pens other pencils. Some like computers, and I’m guessing someone out there still uses a typewriter.

The real question is, what do you use? And why? Does the medium with which you write influence or affect your style? If you write in MS Word or Google Docs, does it alter your content at all?

I know that I prefer a basic word processor, and I love to work on the computer. When it comes to editing I really wonder how I would create multiple drafts on pieces of paper if I wrote it all in cursive. I’d probably need scissor and glue to cut and paste. So what is your method of choice when writing?

Monday, January 24, 2011


So far I’m about two-thirds of the way through my edits for my novel The Last Cabin. I’m pretty excited about the way it’s shaping up, as I’m not only getting the word-count down a bit, I’m really sharpening the storyline itself. So what’s this book about again?

I still owe you all a concise synopsis, but here’s the ultra-short version. Basically, it’s a coming-of-age story of a teenage boy living on the colonial frontier. He and his sister are forced to play surrogate mother and father to their younger siblings when they find themselves cutoff and isolated in the last cabin on the Virginia frontier.

I’m pretty satisfied with the plot so my primary focus has turned to improving the prose of the book itself. Namely, by cutting out as many adverbs as I can, eliminating passive voice from creeping up too often, and even limiting my use of adjectives all allows the reader to navigate the story more effectively. Thanks to everyone for your patience and support so far! I hope to have the rest of my edits completed in the next week or two!  

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reading Diaries

In my attempts to ever broaden my horizons I’ve taken to reading a different genre of writing, namely diaries and journals. I’m talking about published diaries of course, not what your sibling keeps under their bed at night. I admit that I had low expectations at first, but have since been pleasantly surprised.

I just read Mary Chesnut’s diary written during the American Civil War. It reads like a novel and is both a historical treasure as well as a great work of art. Her insights into day-to-day life as well as the sweeping events around her make for a truly great story.

It’s given me a new respect for people who write diaries, and also given me a new way to think about them. Not merely a laundry list of daily activities, they provide a time-capsule of sorts into an individual’s life at a set period in time. So, to all you diarists and journal-keepers out there, who knows, you might just be creating something for the ages. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Longest Waits

A funny thing happened the other day. I received a letter from an agent I’d met at a writer’s conference nearly a year ago. It turned out to be a standard “we liked your work, but we’re sorry we can’t take on any new clients at this time…” etc. etc.

I didn’t even remember the agent. I’ve waited days, weeks, and months to hear back from agents and editors before, but I think a year is about the longest delay I’ve ever had to a query. But it’s all part of the game, and the reason why I always have multiple submissions out at the same time.

One of the self-mocking contests I’ve enjoyed with other writers is comparing our most sincere rejection letters. They can be astonishingly nice and even funny. So, to my fellow writers out there…what’s the longest you’ve ever waited to hear back from an agent/editor before? 

Friday, January 14, 2011

America’s Cup

America’s Cup, so called because the Americans once held the title for so long, is the largest, most prestigious international sailing competition held throughout the world. It is the third biggest economic draw to a major-city after the Olympics, and Soccer’s World Cup. And the next one, to be held in 2013, is coming to San Francisco!

Needless to say, my dad, myself, and anyone else who sails on the bay is stoked. The Golden Gate yacht club won the cup for America last year in Valencia Spain, and now has the very same cup which has passed form victor to victor for over the last 150+ years. Winning the cup is a massive undertaking, not only in sailing skills, but in financial backing.

Oracle is sponsoring America’s team, who will face off against the best sailors in the world in the first America’s Cup to be held in the U.S. in over 15 years! I know it seems strange to get pumped up for something that is over two years away, but trust me, you’re going to want to get front row, bay-side seats to watch this competition. Checkout the trailer video here to get a sneak peek!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

First Draft Finished!!!

Finally, after six months of writing, the first draft of my new colonial novel, The Last Cabin, is done! Many thanks to those of you over the last weeks who have helped me hem and haw through various titles for this book as well. So the work’s all done, right?

Not quite. I’ve begun my second round of rewrites and am pretty pleased with the results so far. The biggest joke is that my novel totals over 117,000 words in length, which is way too long! Now I have the task before me of trimming it down to a marketable size of well under 100,000 words.

We’ll see how it goes, as I’m anxious to get this story into the hands of fellow readers and agents alike. Hopefully, I can start sharing sample chapters with many of you soon, as my wife has diligently made me rewrite every chapter as I went along during my first draft, so I’m hoping just to clean up a few things before getting feedback from a wider audience. I’ll have a synopsis for you all soon and hope to give you a proper introduction to my novel sometime in the next couple weeks!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Impressionists: Part 2

This weekend I saw the second half of the Impressionist’s exhibit at the De Young Museum in San Francisco. I like the first half I saw a couple months back, but the second part was easily a hundred times better. I got up close and personal with greats like Van Gogh, Cezanne, Gauguin, Rousseau, and many more.

I definitely loved the “Tahitian Girls” by Gauguin, as well as “The Snake Charmer” by Rousseau. But I also found the personal lives of the artists equally intriguing, such as the fact that Van Gogh only painted professionally for a period of 10 years, and how Cezanne struggled as a relative unknown for most of his lifetime. The human element really helped bring these pieces of artwork to life.

As a would-be writer I find such pieces of art inspiring and the lives of the artists themselves equally fascinating, not so much for their successes and failures, but for their struggles and everyday lives. It’s easy to imaging painters living in an artist’s colony somewhere, but when you realize they too had day jobs and families and other responsibilities in their lives it gives you a new found respect for them and their work. If you haven’t had a chance, checkout some of these impressive exhibits in San Francisco, or simply look them up online to learn a little more about the painters themselves.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Wanted: Catchy Title

I’ve got some exciting stuff in the works to help bring in the New Year, but first thing’s first. I’m in the throws of trying to come up with a decent title for my newest novel set in the colonial frontier. Needless to say, even if you haven’t read any samples of my work yet, your opinion with regards to catchy titles would be most helpful.

Here are some potential titles I’m kicking around right now: Indian Summer, Forgotten Valley, Blue Mountains, Elkhart, To Rutland Go, The Night in Which the Corn Grows, The Roebucks, and The Last Cabin. Don’t even worry about plot or background, I’m just curious as to which of these potential titles you would most likely pickup from a bookshelf and open up.

So please let me know what you think. If you have another, much more intriguing title, please don’t hesitate to share it. I’ve often found title names for books in the most unlikely of places. Thanks for the help!