The Wizard Rocks Finders Keepers!

This is going to be a two-fold tale. Part 1 is about process, Part 2 is about fate.

Ooooh. Mysterious …

[b]Part 1: The Copy Editor Dude–a.k.a. The Wizard[/b]

Now that I’ve got a copy of the complete Finders Keepers manuscript off in the mail to the agent who requested it–and isn’t that friggin sweet?! Yeah, Baby!–I want to say a few words about the copy editor who worked on my book, Barney O’Neil (a.k.a The Wizard).

I first wrote about why I brought Barney on board in mThis is going to be a two-fold tale. Part 1 is about process, Part 2 is about fate.

Ooooh. Mysterious …

[b]Part 1: The Copy Editor Dude–a.k.a. The Wizard[/b]

Now that I’ve got a copy of the complete Finders Keepers manuscript off in the mail to the agent who requested it–and isn’t that friggin sweet?! Yeah, Baby!–I want to say a few words about the copy editor who worked on my book, Barney O’Neil (a.k.a The Wizard).

I first wrote about why I brought Barney on board in my Sept. 26 blog, but I want to go into a little more detail about what he actually did to the Finders Keepers manuscript, and how his efforts improved my book.

As I noted earlier, the main function of a copy editor is to look for smaller things, like spelling mistakes, incorrect punctuation, wonky grammar, etc. Thankfully, Finders Keepers was in pretty good shape when he got it, but there were still plenty of little things he found that I had simply missed, even though I went through the entire manuscript several times. A few examples:

* On page 43 I wrote the word [i]waste[/i], when it should have been [i]waist[/i], as in around the waist.

* Throughout the manuscript I wrote [i]Milky Way Galaxy[/i], when it really should be [i]Milky Way galaxy[/i], so that [i]galaxy[/i] has a lowercase [i]g[/i].

* On page 138 I wrote rouge, instead of rogue, as in a rogue warrior.

* On page 295, the dialog was supposed to read, [i]you know how girls are[/i]. What I wrote was, [i]you know how girls[/i], and the left out the word [i]are.[/i]

* On several occasions I wrote the word [i]duffle[/i], instead of [i]duffel,[/i] as in [i]duffel bag[/i].

As you can probably gather from these little elements, Barney had to scour the manuscript with a fine toothed comb to catch them. It is a 120,000-word manuscript after all, so there’s bound to be little things that get missed.

But Barney also did something else for me. He raised a few questions, some having to do with sequence, some with logic. For example, in at least two instances, I noted that an action took place on a Wednesday, but when referring back to an earlier scene, they didn’t agree. The action, in fact, had to be on a Thursday. And Barney caught that. I simply missed it.

Barney also challenged my logic in a few places, and he got me thinking in a few of those, so I went back and made some changes that I believe strengthen the manuscript. Just little things that can add up to big things. Without going into too much detail (as I don’t want to give anything away), Barney correctly pointed out that I need to mention one character just a little bit more so that it worked better throughout the book.

[b]Part 2: The Request of Fate[/b]

Barney’s contributions aside, something bigger happened here, something that reinforces my beliefs in the grander scheme of things.

All summer long I was out stumping for Finders Keepers, hitting the conventions, sending out query letters, and the efforts paid off. The buzz kept building, interest kept building, and more and more I could see big things happening for Finders Keepers. But while the big thing was right there–so close–it hadn’t quite arrived.

In the middle of all this I decided to bring Barney on board. After he did his review of the manuscript it took me about three weeks to review his suggestions, make the appropriate changes, double check that I made the changes correctly, and then answer his queries that I noted above.

Within one day–24 hours–of me finishing those changes … [i]Whamo! [/i] I get an email from an agent gushing over my concept and sample pages, and requested a full manuscript.

[i]One day![/i]

Coincidence? I think not.

What I believe deep in my bones is that the Universe was looking out for me all along, that it was waiting for me to work on my game promotion-wise, and then upgrade the manuscript detail-wise, so that when a truly great opportunity came my way, I would be ready.

I’ve had too many of these timing miracles come my way over the years to believe anything else. I mean, why didn’t this agent contact me two weeks ago? Or two weeks from now? Or two months? Or two years? Why exactly one day after I got Finders Keepers in tip-top shape? Because the Universe knows that I’m ready–that this is my time–and so it brought this wonderful opportunity to me.

Call me crazy–hey, I’ll be the first to admit that you’re right–but when it comes to these acts of divine intervention, I’m a believer. They keep my juices flowing, and inspire me to follow through.

So bringing Barney on board to Team Finders Keepers wasn’t just a good move technical-wise, it opened the door for something wonderful.

As always, I will keep you posted …

Seen Any Good Movies Lately?

I haven’t been to the movies nearly as often as I’ve wanted. Anybody see anything good lately?

I’d like to see Michael Clayton, and Rendition looks good, too.I haven’t been to the movies nearly as often as I’ve wanted. Anybody see anything good lately?

I’d like to see Michael Clayton, and Rendition looks good, too.

Is Joe Torre a Gonner?

Nothing’s every easy with the Yankees, now is it?

First everybody’s screaming for Torre’s head (including me), and then there’s the calm and recognition that maybe managing the Yankees–these Yankees–isn’t quite so easy.

And I see both sides.

There’s a lot of pressure that comes with managing the Yankees, for Steinbrenner, in this town. The media is relentless, and unless you are prepared to deal with it day in and day out over the long season, you could be in trouble. Plus, theNothing’s every easy with the Yankees, now is it?

First everybody’s screaming for Torre’s head (including me), and then there’s the calm and recognition that maybe managing the Yankees–these Yankees–isn’t quite so easy.

And I see both sides.

There’s a lot of pressure that comes with managing the Yankees, for Steinbrenner, in this town. The media is relentless, and unless you are prepared to deal with it day in and day out over the long season, you could be in trouble. Plus, the new Yankee Stadium opens in 2009, and they’ll want someone with stature managing the Yankees at that time. Not to mention that Rivera, Pettitte and Posada have all said that Torre is a big motivator to their return (that could just be a ploy for more money, but you never know).

And yet, for all of Torre’s accomplishments, the Yankees have not showed up to play–not gotten the big hits and done the little things right–when it came down to crunch time. They’ve been knocked out of the first round of the playoffs three years in a row.

Then again, it isn’t his fault that the Yankees have been pitching thin. If Wang pitches like he did most of the year, then the Yankees would be playing the Red Sox tonight, and there’s no Torre talk at all.

So what’s going to happen? Not sure.

Steinbrenner hates Torre–hates him–but also probably realizes (even with his diminishing capacities) that not just anyone can steer the ship.

It’s going to be an interesting off season to be sure.

Agent Loves Me. Printer HATES ME!

What a week.

A few days ago, this one particular day, I come home from work and find not one, not two–not even three–but four (count ’em) four different rejection letters from agents. Dude …

Not a good day.

And I admit it. I was bummin’ a little. It got me a little down. The rain didn’t help, but sometimes the entire publishing process is a drain.

But then I received an email from one agent in particular, whose note to me was short and to the point:

[i]Dear Russ,A few days ago, this one particular day, I come home from work and find not one, not two–not even three–but four (count ’em) four different rejection letters from agents. Dude …

Not a good day.

And I admit it. I was bummin’ a little. It got me a little down. The rain didn’t help, but sometimes the entire publishing process is a drain.

But then I received an email from one agent in particular, whose note to me was short and to the point:

[i]Dear Russ,

Love your concept. Loved the sample chapters.

If you?re still looking for an agent, please send me the complete ms.[/i]

Woo Hoo! Yeah, Baby!

Now [i]that’s[/i] what I call a letter! I’ve gotten requests from agents before for sample pages, but this is the first one who requested the entire book. Plus, it hasn’t been too often when an agent has said to me: [i]Love your concept. Loved the sample pages[/i].

This totally rocks!

Needless to say, I’ve been riding a mighty big buzz. Sure, this is just another step in the process, and nobody has promised me anything, but this is sure pretty darn encouraging. Sweet …

Since then we’ve traded a few emails, while I’ve been putting a package together to mail out to the agent. And there I was yesterday, printing out the manuscript in blocks of 50 pages at a time (to keep the pages clean and organized). This is a new printer, and I was still on the first ink cartridge, so I wasn’t surprised when the black ink ran out at around page 250 (I’d been using the printer for a month or so; it was bound to run out eventually).

So I replaced the ink cartridge with the backup that came with the packaging, and I was off to the races again. Now I’m up to about page 400 (out of 550; it’s only this long because I have to print double-spaced. If it were a bound book, it would be more like 300 pages) …

AND THE FRIGGIN PRINTER RUNS OUT OF BLACK INK AGAIN!

OH, COME ON!

I checked and doubled checked the cartridge, and yep, it’s out. How is this possible? Already? Don’t tell me this brand new printer is a dud. Or did I get scammed on the cartridge? So I dig out the box it came in and, naturally, the ink cartridge–this particular cartridge–came in a value pack for printing[i] pictures[/i]!

Ugh!

But, okay, as Liz quite correctly pointed out, this isn’t the end of the world. I’ll head out to Staples today to pick up a new–and correct–ink cartridge, and will be able to finish the printing the manuscript either tonight or tomorrow, and then have it in the mail either tomorrow morning, or else Monday.

I supposed it’s just the Universe’s way of reminding me to stay focused–and be flexible–as there will be many more wrinkles along what will be a long and prosperous writing career.

But still!

Sheesh. This is quite the adventure …

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/12 06:43

Hollywood Comes Calling … In My Dreams!

Last night I had one of those dreams. You know the ones I mean. It was a dream that seemed real enough that some part of my brain thought it [i]might [/i]be really happening, but not real enough to be convinced that it was.

In the dream I?m at home, in my apartment in Queens, and its daytime. I?m with the gang from Entourage (yes, I watch too much TV)?including Vincent Chase, Johnny Drama and Turtle (but not Eric or Ari). I think I?m partly the Eric character in this dream.

The phone Last night I had one of those dreams. You know the ones I mean. It was a dream that seemed real enough that some part of my brain thought it [i]might [/i]be really happening, but not real enough to be convinced that it was.

In the dream I?m at home, in my apartment in Queens, and its daytime. I?m with the gang from Entourage (yes, I watch too much TV)?including Vincent Chase, Johnny Drama and Turtle (but not Eric or Ari). I think I?m partly the Eric character in this dream.

The phone rings. I walk into the kitchen and answer.

?Hi,? the voice says. A man?s voice, slightly older. ?I?m looking for Russ. This is Mike Nichols.?

(Mike Nichols is the director of The Graduate, Silkwood, The Birdcage and Angels in America, among others).

?Really?? I say. ?This is Russ. Wow. Uh … what can I do for you, Mike??

?Well, I hear that you?re directing Medellin, and I?d love you to consider me for a part in the movie.?

So now I know that, in this dream, I?m to direct the upcoming (fictional) movie Medellin, which already aired?and bombed?in the fictional world of Entourage. Also, I don?t think in real life Mike Nichols does any acting, but, hey, it?s my dream, and if he wants to act, he should knock himself out.

?Wow,? I say. ?You want to be in Medellin? Cool. Well, I?m not sure if there are any parts available that would suit you, but let me think about it.?

Dead air. I feel I?ve made a mistake. A big mistake. [i]Don?t say no. To MIKE NICHOLS! He could do wonders for my career. Think fast, think fast. Think fast[/i].

?But,? I continue quickly, ?I?d love to have you involved in some way, so let me talk to the guys and I?ll be in touch soon. I think you?d make a great addition to the movie.?

?That?s great, Russ.? Mike?s voice is warm and friendly. Sounds genuinely grateful. ?Take your time. Get back to me when you can. Looking forward to it.?

?Yeah,? I say. ?Me, too.?

I hang up, and then walk into the other room. The other Entourage dudes are sitting on the floor in bedroom, wrestling with the dog.

?Hey, guys, check it out.?

They look up.

?Mike Nichols just called me personally.?

?No way,? Vincent says. ?Really??

?Yep.?

?Who the fuck is Mike Nichols,? Turtle asks in the way that only Turtle can.

?He directed The Graduate, you retard,? I say in my pitch perfect Eric.

Turtle nods, as if what I say makes sense to him. He pauses, and then he says, ?He got any hot MILFS for me to bang??

Drama slaps him in the head. ?Don?t be so crass, Turtle.?

?So what did he want?? Vince asks.

?He wants to know if there?s an acting part for him in Medellin.?

?No shit,? Vince says.

?No shit,? I say.

And then the dream ends.

Now, it?s not hard to read into this wish fulfillment dream. Do I want to get a big break and be in a position to have powerful, respected folks in the entertainment world asking me for favors?and being in a position to grant them or not?

Hell Yes!

Now all I?ve got to do is make it happen …

I’m working on it!

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/11 18:57

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/12 20:37

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/14 18:09

Not My Typical Sunday Blues

I’m a little off my rhythm today. I was sick this week–nothing tragic, just a cold–but it took me out of my regular daily schedule for a few days. And then a bunch of other things got thrown into the mix.

I had the blues at work this week–again, nothing tragic, just one of those things. Also, my back has been a little sore lately–yet again, it hasn’t been awful, but just slightly more than normal. And I’ve got a few other things going on personal-wise that have been stressing me out a I’m a little off my rhythm today. I was sick this week–nothing tragic, just a cold–but it took me out of my regular daily schedule for a few days. And then a bunch of other things got thrown into the mix.

I had the blues at work this week–again, nothing tragic, just one of those things. Also, my back has been a little sore lately–yet again, it hasn’t been awful, but just slightly more than normal. And I’ve got a few other things going on personal-wise that have been stressing me out a little.

And today, for reasons I’m not entirely clear about, I’ve got the [i]Sunday Blues[/i]. And I call them the Sunday Blues simply because I’m feeling a bit blue today and it just [i]happens to be[/i] Sunday, and not [i]because it is[/i] Sunday. I really don’t get the typical Sunday blues. I look forward to the week–not that I love work–but I love writing Finders Keepers and my other projects, so I don’t get the typical Sunday Blues, or as my wife used to say, [i]I don’t want to go to stinky work tomorrow[/i].

Not to mention that I’m taking the day off tomorrow to spend with Liz, so there’s no Monday work day for me to even consider.

Which isn’t to say I wasn’t productive today (and it’s still only 4 pm). I got up at 6:30 a.m., and went to the gym. Had a good work-out, too. Showered, had breakfast. Then I spent 2 1/2 hours working on some final touches for Finders Keepers. After that I did a few chores around the house, watched the latest D.L. Hughley comedy special on HBO–hilarious–and then hit the couch. And this was all by 11 a.m.

I had lunch, watched some TV–I even took a nap today.

So on paper, this seems like a typically quality day for me, and tell you the truth, even as I write this blog, I’m feeling a bit energized, which I hope lasts.

Like I said, I’ve been feeling blue today. In fact, for most of the week. It happens. I’m a pretty positive, optimistic dude overall, and am not prone to long periods of feeling blue. I’m just not. I used to be. Wow, did I used to be. But I’m not that guy anymore. Haven’t been for years.

I look forward to most days and look forward to the future. But I do hit my blue periods now and again, and today just happens to be one of them. And yet, like I said, just writing this entry is helping me. Getting some of this blah off my chest helps relieve my anxieties.

I’m going to leave off here, now now that the blues are shaking up a bit, and my energy is starting to flow. I usually love Sundays, and I want to love this Sunday–which isn’t over yet. Liz and I are going out for a walk soon, then to dinner, and then back to watch the Yankee game and see them pull back into this playoff series (I hope!).

My goal, as always, is to enjoy each day as much as I can. And having a venue to talk about these things is just one more reason I rarely get the Sunday Blues–and when I do, they don’t last long.

How to Totally Chill – Just 3 Minutes

In my Oct. 4 blog I wrote about realizing that someone I know, who had long been interested in meditating, suddenly embraced it when I suggested thinking about it as [i]quiet time[/i] rather than [i]meditation[/i]. Once that happened, I led him through an easy, 3-minute meditation–3 minutes of quiet–that I have found quiet useful and pleasing myself.

Here is that mediation, passed down to me, with a few tweaks on my part to help guide the experience:

Let the body find a balanced, In my Oct. 4 blog I wrote about realizing that someone I know, who had long been interested in meditating, suddenly embraced it when I suggested thinking about it as [i]quiet time[/i] rather than [i]meditation[/i]. Once that happened, I led him through an easy, 3-minute meditation–3 minutes of quiet–that I have found quiet useful and pleasing myself.

Here is that mediation, passed down to me, with a few tweaks on my part to help guide the experience:

Let the body find a balanced, upright and comfortable posture from which it need not move …

Become aware of where you are now …

Now close your eyes ? gently ?

And breathe ?

In ? then out ?

In ? then out ?

Be aware of any expectations or concerns that may be present in the mind of the heart … whatever your are thinking, whatever you are feeling …

Now, let them go …

Fall still and come to rest within …

And breathe ?

Breathe ?

Be aware of the touch of your feet against the ground … or your toes within your shoes, or your heels ? or the sock around your foot ?

Feel the weight of the body on the chair … your back against the cushion ? the underside of your thighs ?

And breathe ?

Breathe ?

Be aware of the gentle pressure of the clothes on the skin … the shirt on your arm ? the pants on your leg ?

Feel the play of air on the face and hands …

And breathe ?

Breathe ?

Now taste ? what sensation is on the lips and tongue? …

Now smell ? breathe in slowly through your nose …

And breathe ?

Be aware of the breath as it enters and leaves the body …

In ? then out ?

In ? then out ?

Be fully present, here now,

Now be aware of hearing …

Allow sounds to enter the ears … listen to them all around … and let them rise and fall without judgment or any kind.

Let the hearing run right out to the farthest, gentlest sounds … embracing them all.

And breathe ?

In ? then out ?

In ? then out ?

Now simply rest in this great awareness for a few moments …

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/04 19:37

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/11 18:57

This Ain’t No ‘Quiet’ Riot

Just a few days ago I was talking to a guy I know who seeks my advice now and again, and I brought something to his attention that I thought he might be interested in.

About six years ago I started meditating, and overall it has really helped me. I didn’t get the hang of it right away, but after a while I got to the point where I usually do it for about 20 minutes at a time. That said, I don?t meditate every day. In fact, this year I?ve probably meditated less than in any of the previous yJust a few days ago I was talking to a guy I know who seeks my advice now and again, and I brought something to his attention that I thought he might be interested in.

About six years ago I started meditating, and overall it has really helped me. I didn’t get the hang of it right away, but after a while I got to the point where I usually do it for about 20 minutes at a time. That said, I don?t meditate every day. In fact, this year I?ve probably meditated less than in any of the previous years since I started meditating. (A story for another day). Overall, I?d say I?ve been mediating formally this year about once every two weeks, sometimes even less than that, although I have been doing some informal meditating?a minute here, a minute there?all year.

Because the idea of meditating for 20 minute-stretches sometimes feels like too much for me–and therefore hinders my motivation to meditate at all–for quite some time I?ve wanted to learn and practice a short, though more formal, meditation that I can do anywhere. I finally stumbled upon one last week, and I?ve already done it several times, with pleasing results. And I thought that this guy I know might like to try it, as it only takes about 3 minutes, and can be done anywhere.

When I started talking to him about this mediation?over the last two years we?ve talked about the possibility of him trying meditation?something occurred to me in one of those [i]aha![/i] moments. I think one of the reasons he has been hesitant to meditate, or even try to meditate, is because of the word [i]meditate[/i].

Ooooh. [i]Meditate[/i]. What does it mean? It sounds so mystical and new-agey know-it-all out there, something that only certain wack-ado types of people try. So then I suggested that, rather than the word [i]meditate[/i], that he consider thinking of it as [i]quiet time[/i]. Which is what meditation is all about. Sitting quietly. There?s no real magic to it in terms of process. There are numerous types of mediations, just like you can exercise physically in any number of ways, but for the most part there’s no big trick to it.

Mediation is simply the act of sitting still and quiet, letting your thoughts also become still. To let the thoughts in your mind, the anxiety in your heart and the tension in your muscles relax.

That?s it.

Sure, there are more layers to it than that, like there are more layers to an exercise regimen as you get more advanced, but essentially meditation is just quiet time.

[i]Quiet time.[/i]

And when I said those words to him?[i]quiet time[/i]?the look on his face changed. His body language changed. He went from being intellectually curious?but distant and cautious?to more relaxed and engaged. Suddenly he realized that meditation?[i]quiet time[/i]?is an activity that he can understand. He gets what [i]quiet time [/i]means. It?s an activity he can see himself doing. It suddenly became real and tangible for him.

And so we did. And then again a few days later.

I honestly believe that meditation is good for the mind, body and spirit. When I [i]meditate[/i]?when I have [i]quiet time[/i]?it helps renew my commitment to meditate more often. It?s like running a car battery. Having it on helps it stay charged.

But if the word [i]meditation[/i] makes you want to not [i]meditate[/i], then forget that word. It?s just a label. Instead, how about thinking of it [i]quiet time[/i].

For five minutes?that?s all, just five minutes?just sit still in a chair. No TV. No radio. No Internet. No phone. No blackberry …

Just five minutes.

Close your eyes.

Breath in … breathe out.

Breathe in … breathe out.

And let your mind come to a rest.

Meditation?[i]quiet time[/i]?can really help us recharge, allow us to feel more relaxed. So if [i]meditation[/i] seems too out there, too hard to grasp or relate to, then just think of it as [i]quiet time.[/i]

Just a few minutes a day … just a few minutes …

p.s. if you are interested in the 3-minutes of quiet time I noted above, I posted the guided experience–that can be done anywhere–under the Positive Thinking section of the Message Board.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/03 11:19

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/04 19:36

Yankess go 13 in a Row!

Woo Hoo!

While the Mets absolutely self-destructed, the Yankees–who everbody wrote off four months ago, including me–bounced back with a vengance and are now in the playoff for the 13th consecutive season. This is no cake walk, but they have just as much chance as any team to win it all, and they got some players–young and experienced alike–who are hungry for a ring.

Let the games begin!Woo Hoo!

While the Mets absolutely self-destructed, the Yankees–who everbody wrote off four months ago, including me–bounced back with a vengance and are now in the playoff for the 13th consecutive season. This is no cake walk, but they have just as much chance as any team to win it all, and they got some players–young and experienced alike–who are hungry for a ring.

Let the games begin!

The Mets Amazin’ Collapse

Wow. This is simply incredible. How in the world did the Mets blow a 7 game lead with only 17 left to play. I’m a Yankees fan, so the Mets demise doesn’t exactly break my heart, but as a baseball fan, this is just pure fascination. I’m really curious to see how this plays out, and if Omar Manaya tries to lay the blame on Willie Randolph.

Willie really didn’t seem to have his guys motivated when they needed it most, but he can only do so much with that awful pitching and aging team that broWow. This is simply incredible. How in the world did the Mets blow a 7 game lead with only 17 left to play. I’m a Yankees fan, so the Mets demise doesn’t exactly break my heart, but as a baseball fan, this is just pure fascination. I’m really curious to see how this plays out, and if Omar Manaya tries to lay the blame on Willie Randolph.

Willie really didn’t seem to have his guys motivated when they needed it most, but he can only do so much with that awful pitching and aging team that broke down every five minutes.

And what about Tom Glavine. It’s one thing that he completely tanked it on the most important game of the season, but to treat his dismal performance with an "oh, well, what are you gonna do?" attitude just seems to underscore the lack of passion permeating the Mets over the course of the last 50 games or so.

What will the 2008 Mets look like? It’ll be interesting to see.

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