Agents Update

I just got some feedback from an agent I met recently, who’s comments were definitely positive, although what he’s looking for and what I’m looking for aren’t quite in sync–that is, he thinks I’m a good writer but didn’t connect with FINDERS KEEPERS the way he needs to represent me.

That said, he gave me some recommendations for some new leads, which he definitely didn’t have to do, and of which I certainly appreciate. He could have just said thanks but no thanks, but instead he offered sI just got some feedback from an agent I met recently, who’s comments were definitely positive, although what he’s looking for and what I’m looking for aren’t quite in sync–that is, he thinks I’m a good writer but didn’t connect with FINDERS KEEPERS the way he needs to represent me.

That said, he gave me some recommendations for some new leads, which he definitely didn’t have to do, and of which I certainly appreciate. He could have just said thanks but no thanks, but instead he offered some assistance.

Was I disappointed that he didn’t want to sign me? Sure. But I also have a smile on my face right now, because there’s something positive to glean from every exchange, and this was no exception.

It’s definitely one of the joyous elements of my search. Sometimes you meet some really good people along the way, and even though you may not partner up officially, there’s a lot of goodwill out there if you stick with it.

And the search continues …

When Good Things Happen

Earlier today I was doing some holiday shopping on St. Marks here in Manhattan, and not having much luck finding what I was looking for. Admittedly, I was hoping to be struck by some inspiration for a Chanukah present for my grandmother at a shop I’ve been going to for years, but no so such luck.

On my way back, two guys passed me on the street, and I heard just a part of their conversation. One of them said to the other, " … don’t you just love it when good things happen to people?Earlier today I was doing some holiday shopping on St. Marks here in Manhattan, and not having much luck finding what I was looking for. Admittedly, I was hoping to be struck by some inspiration for a Chanukah present for my grandmother at a shop I’ve been going to for years, but no so such luck.

On my way back, two guys passed me on the street, and I heard just a part of their conversation. One of them said to the other, " … don’t you just love it when good things happen to people?"

A little smile immediately inched its way across my face, and out loud I said to no one in particular, "Yeah. I really do."

Maybe it’s being in New York City, maybe it’s because the company I work for was recently sold to owners who just laid off 10 percent of the staff, and maybe because it’s just been a long, bizarre year and I’m a little tired, but you have to work extra hard in this town to keep your spirits up sometimes, and I think I do fairly well with it, all things considered.

But when I heard that phrase today–don’t you just love it when good things happen to people?–it gave me a little charge, one that’s been building up some steam for me lately. Yeah, I love it when good things happen to people, but I also love that [i]other[/i] people love it too. So I’m going to be on the extra look out for the good things that happen to people, big and small, and do my best to celebrate them.

Maybe somebody’ll get the job they want, or find a boyfriend or girlfriend, or adopt a pesky cat or dog that makes them crazy but can’t live without, or make ammends with a brother or sister they’ve been arguing with, or have a baby or GET THEIR FRIGGIN NOVEL PUBLISHED! But whatever it is, I’m saying, let’s celebrate them all. Even if it’s just with a little smile or a quick nod, but let’s celebrate the good things that happen to people. Because they just can’t happen enough.

What good things have happened to you lately?

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My Public Flogging

On the merry road to get FINDERS KEEPERS published, I certainly expect to hit a few–okay many–snags along the way. I know it’s innevitable. Poo-poo happens.

But here’s a doozy.

Last month I attended a writer’s conference at in NYC, and while the conference overall was just so-so, the final session of the day was called "2

pages, 2 minutes," wherein writers–in advance of the conference–could submit 2 pages of their novel. If selected at random, it would be read aloud in On the merry road to get FINDERS KEEPERS published, I certainly expect to hit a few–okay many–snags along the way. I know it’s innevitable. Poo-poo happens.

But here’s a doozy.

Last month I attended a writer’s conference at in NYC, and while the conference overall was just so-so, the final session of the day was called "2

pages, 2 minutes," wherein writers–in advance of the conference–could submit 2 pages of their novel. If selected at random, it would be read aloud in front of the attendees (the writers), and the panel of 3 agents would either say "hey, great, send me more to read; I like what you’ve got so far" or else essentially give you the gong, and explain why they stopped reading.

This is actually a pretty cool opportunity for writers looking to get published, because here you have the chance to make a splash with agents who–like it or not–are the gatekeepers to getting published. For the most part–although not always–you need an agent before you can get published, so agents actually wield some significant influence in the publishing world.

So like most of the writers who attended, I submitted my first 2 pages, and got tremendous early feedback from the event coordinator (also a writer), and went in to thet session feeling pretty good. I submitted the one-page prologue to FINDERS KEEPERS that opens the novel, and then a few paragraphs from CHAPTER 1.

Like most of the attendees, I wanted my pages to be selected at random, and once read aloud, to have the agents go, "Dude! Wow! You HAVE to send me more. I love this! Let’s do lunch!"

This final panel lasted an hour. And with only 5 minutes left, mine still hadn’t been selected. Making it worse was that, while the agents definitely gonged some writers, they really did ask others to send in complete manuscripts, and really gushed over some of the work read aloud. And some of it was quite good.

Which really made this even more torturous. If it can–and did–happen for some of these writers, then it’s just GOTTA happen for me.

But tick tock. Times running out.

And then …

I hear the first few words read aloud, and I know the work is mine. My skin tingles, my heart races a little.

This is it. This is it.

But when I hear the girl read my work, she’s got the voice all wrong. It doesn’t sound right. It’s not her fault, she’s never seen this material before, but it just ain’t right. And so a bad feeling comes over me. A very. Bad. Feeling.

It wasn’t that the agents didn’t like my opening?I can handle that–it’s that they took the verbal equivalent of a motorcycle chain and lead pipe and beat me into oblivion. Now, I’m not particularly thin-skinned when it comes to my work being reviewed, but one agent (who I will not name, but will from here on out refer to as TrollSkank) outright mocked and belittled the writing, and took a lot of glee in doing so.

But at least I paid $170 for it and it was in public, so I had that going for me.

Ahh. Good times. Good times.

Now, here’s where I had to dig a little deep and just shake it off. Which took a few days, I admit. I was black and blue for a while.

Regardless of the agent panel’s "critique," such that it was, I still felt that it was important to take their reactions seriously, even, as another I writer I’ve spoken to said: "Screw agents. They only know how to sell books. They don’t know shit about writing them." Which very well may be true at lof of the time. And bless him for saying so.

The better news is that two other agents I met at the conference earlier that day had asked me for early chapters of FINDERS KEEPERSl based on the premise alone, so I was pretty jazzed up about that. But I would hate for them to reject a book they might otherwise like and support just because my first two paragraphs don’t grab them.

So I consulted a few writers and took another look myself, and in the end, I removed the prologue. Since the earliest days of FINDERS KEEPERS I’ve had mixed reactions about it. For every person that liked the prologue another either didn’t like it or thought I didn’t need it. It’s been split 50-50. So I decided to lose it, and make a minor tweak to CHAPTER 1.

Indeed, I took a public flogging, but I got something out of it. First, I was alerted (although harshly) to the fact that my opening was not quite working as well as I’d hoped. Good to know. Second, it was a great reminder about expectations, which I wrote about in more detail in my last blog entry. Had my expectations about the panel been tempered from the outset, getting my butt kicked liked that–and in public!–probably wouldn’t have stung so much. It was a good reminder not to get ahead of myself.

And third, when FINDERS KEEPERS gets published–and it will–I’m going to take a signed copy, find that little TrollSkank, and shove it right up her … well, you get the idea.

Hey, I’m a pretty forgiving guy. But I won’t forget …

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Happy Feet

Anybody see Happy Feet? I know I’m 35 years old, but I WANNA SEE THOSE CARTOON PENGUINS DANCE!

There. I said it.Anybody see Happy Feet? I know I’m 35 years old, but I WANNA SEE THOSE CARTOON PENGUINS DANCE!

There. I said it.

One Writer’s Expectation

I’m finding a lot more these days that the idea of expectations is paramount to my success, not just as a writer, but at navigating the madness of life. I’ll stick to the writing part for now.

A lot of my own stress comes from my writing, which is ironic, since it is also the activity that energizes, motivates and thrills me more than probably any other. Writing is a part of me as much as a fully functioning kidney; I can’t have a high quality of life without it.

But writing isn’t juI’m finding a lot more these days that the idea of expectations is paramount to my success, not just as a writer, but at navigating the madness of life. I’ll stick to the writing part for now.

A lot of my own stress comes from my writing, which is ironic, since it is also the activity that energizes, motivates and thrills me more than probably any other. Writing is a part of me as much as a fully functioning kidney; I can’t have a high quality of life without it.

But writing isn’t just about the writing; it’s about getting published. And THAT can bring a lot of stress, if you’re not careful.

Like with anything else, getting published doesn’t just happen. You don’t just wish it so and then–BOOM!–you’re published (if only!). You have to be strategic about it. It’s like a job search. But rather than searching job sites and submitting resumes and cover letters and interviewing and managing that whole process while you’re still working at your current job, you search agents lists and publshing housing and writers groups and conferences, submit query letters and sample chapters, and maybe build a web site and network with industry folks–also while working full time and being married and all the other parts of being alive.

So there’s a lot to it.

To carry this all out it I find that it helps me to have a plan of some sort. And even more important, it helps to have some goals. What do I want to accomplish? By when?

Let’s say I decide that I should land an agent within 6 months, just because in my head that seems like a reasonable amount of time. (I think it should have happened already, but that’s another point entirely!) What if the 6-month mark arrives and I don’t have an agent? How should I feel about myself in that situation? What should I do then?

And let’s say I decide from the outset that I want to have my novel published within one year. And then the year-mark roles around and it hasn’t happened? How should I feel about that?

Where I struggle at times is not allowing for the natural order of things. Whether I’m accepting it at the moment or not, reality keeps reminding–and sometimes painfully so–that there’s a limit to what I can do and when I can do it.

I know. What’s up with that?

I get up a 5 am every day during the week (and about 7 am on weekends), and alternate those early morning before work between writing days and going to the gym. My weekend days are extremely productive for me writing-wise, as I have more alert time. And many morning are productive as well, and I get some good writing done, which includes writing new fiction, working on this web site, writing query letters, etc.

Thing is, there are days when I just can’t get out of bed. Just. Can’t. And there are others when I’m up, but barely functioning, and can’t string together a single coherent sentence, much less some snappy dialogue or a professional letter. I try, but it’s just not in me. I’m tired. I’m achy. I’m sick. I’m not in the mood to be up at friggin 5 am!

It happens, and sometimes with enough regularity to discourage me for a while

But if this is my situation overall, then it seem like I have one of two choices to make:

Choice No. 1 is: I will do my very best each and every day to accomplish what I set out to do, will accept the outcome whether it’s what I wanted or not, and will adjust to the best of my ability as I go along. As a wiser man than I often tells me, "If I can I will, if I can’t I won’t." Which means, if I can reasonably do whatever it is I’ve decided is important, then I’ll go and do it. And if I’m not able to do it, for any number of possible reasons, then I’ll have to take a pass this time. And be okay with it. Not saying I’m okay with it, but actually BEING okay with it. THAT’S the tricky part.

Even though I say the words out loud many times, I sometimes need extra reminders that it simply isn’t possible for me to do more than I’m able. I know, I know, that can sound like crazy talk to me, too. But if that’s really the case (and I’m pretty certain that it is), I’m having a tough time coming up with reasons why I should set expectations for myself that are beyond what I can actually reach.

When I’m able to take this more reasonable attitude–and belive me, it’s not as often as I’d like, but I’m working on it–I’m more relaxed overall, which tends to lead to me being a more productive writer (and person), and the next thing you know I’m accomplishing what I set out to do.

Choice No. 2 is: Screw that, I’m SUPPOSED to accomplish what I want and I’m SUPPOSED to do it within the time frame I arbitrarily decided. Or else it’s a disaster. And if you’re wondering, I indeed take this attitude now and again. And when I do, I tend to be totally stressed out and depressed, and the next thing you know I’m doing a half-assed job of getting where I want to be and then I’m so far off track that I need to just get out of my own head and take a break to recover. When I’m not going right, I tend to believe that I should ALWAYS be writing, and that any missed writing days are days wasted.

I was in one of those funks up until not so long ago, but I’m out of it now and feeling good. Over the last several weeks I’ve finished a novel synopsis, sent out packages to a few agents I’ve met along the way. I’m building this Web site. And there’s more to come.

I’m not saying that I’m never going to run amok again or that I’m never going to lose my way. But my intentions are to stay as focused as I can, to keep my expectations realistic, but that force me to stretch a little, and to laugh at myself–and hopefully with myself–as often as possible. I’m trying to do the best I can with what I know and the time that’s available to me, all while giving myself a break if I don’t get exactly what I want, when I want it.

Is this all a long-winded way of saying that I just need to be patient, but persistent? Maybe. But sometimes I need reminding, where I don’t just know it intellecutally, but emotionally as well. Sometimes it needs to sink in a little more than others.

It’s sunk in good now. I’ll let you know the next time it isn’t, and maybe then you can remind me to take a break and just be okay with doing the best I can that day. Because there’s another one coming soon enough…

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The Undeniable Logic of Positive Thinking

As my hero Zig Ziglar says, positive thinking alone might not bring you anything, but it will allow you to do everything [i]better[/i] than negative thinking will.B)

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2006/12/14 12:06As my hero Zig Ziglar says, positive thinking alone might not bring you anything, but it will allow you to do everything [i]better[/i] than negative thinking will.B)

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2006/12/14 12:06

Re:Heroes

I’m not sure I love HEROES, but I really like it. The characters are accessible, the plot is twisty and overal it’s just a fun show. The acting is a little weak at times, but Hiro is just the most fun character TV has seen in a long, long time and the cop who can hear people’s thoughts is another great addition.

Indeed, LOST has gotten off to a bit of a shaky start this year, but I’m hopeful for a big comeback. But losing Mr. Eko is just a dissaster. He was by far my favorite character, andI’m not sure I love HEROES, but I really like it. The characters are accessible, the plot is twisty and overal it’s just a fun show. The acting is a little weak at times, but Hiro is just the most fun character TV has seen in a long, long time and the cop who can hear people’s thoughts is another great addition.

Indeed, LOST has gotten off to a bit of a shaky start this year, but I’m hopeful for a big comeback. But losing Mr. Eko is just a dissaster. He was by far my favorite character, and the show will have to work quite hard to replace his mix of mystery and intensity.

A Neighborhood Walk

Something I’ve done since I was a teenager is take long walks though my neighborhood. I did it in Merrick and Buffalo and Tempe, Ariz., Brooklyn and Manhattan, and now Queens. Walking around helps me clear me my head and get a little excercise, and to get away from whatever’s typically around me. And what I tend realize, as I goes on these walks, is how much I miss them when I haven’t taken one for a while. I took my first really great walk in a long while about two weeks ago, and man it felt Something I’ve done since I was a teenager is take long walks though my neighborhood. I did it in Merrick and Buffalo and Tempe, Ariz., Brooklyn and Manhattan, and now Queens. Walking around helps me clear me my head and get a little excercise, and to get away from whatever’s typically around me. And what I tend realize, as I goes on these walks, is how much I miss them when I haven’t taken one for a while. I took my first really great walk in a long while about two weeks ago, and man it felt great.

This morning Liz and I took a walk through the south end of Forest Hills, and it’s like a whole other world over there. With no exaggeration there are millon dollar homes back there, and it’s just beautiful. Of course, it’s a real kick in the junk that only the richies can afford to live there, but it’s still something to see. And on a beautiful fall day like today, with the sun shining and leaves all manner of yellow and red and brown, it just ain’t a bad way to spend an hour. Especially with my girl.

B)

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2006/11/25 15:48

Agents Update

So here’s the latest on my search for an agent:

Two agents I’ve spoken to recently (with different firms) love the premise of my novel, although I haven’t signed with anybody yet. Still looking for the right fit.

And the search goes on …

B)So here’s the latest on my search for an agent:

Two agents I’ve spoken to recently (with different firms) love the premise of my novel, although I haven’t signed with anybody yet. Still looking for the right fit.

And the search goes on …

B)

American Beauty

Just a quick post …

Was hanging out at a friends house for Thanskgiving leftovers, and wound up watching American Beauty on DVD.

What a great movie. I never get tired of watching it. One of my favorite scenes is when Lester is working out in the garage and smoking his Army Grade weed, and after his wife tells him that he won’t get away with his rebellious behavior, Lester offers, with each bench press:

That’s …

What …

You …

Think.

It’s not quite a powJust a quick post …

Was hanging out at a friends house for Thanskgiving leftovers, and wound up watching American Beauty on DVD.

What a great movie. I never get tired of watching it. One of my favorite scenes is when Lester is working out in the garage and smoking his Army Grade weed, and after his wife tells him that he won’t get away with his rebellious behavior, Lester offers, with each bench press:

That’s …

What …

You …

Think.

It’s not quite a power-to-the-people moment, but for suburban malaise, it’s close enough…

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