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This piece by Tobias Buckell talks about how a whole lot of advice given to aspiring authors is not really useful.

The quote worth remembering (which Buckell gets from a Smashwords guide): “most books, both traditionally published and self-published, don’t sell well." That's not to say you should give up, to the contrary. But in most cases, the advice you get from successful authors does not work to solve this problem, whatever form of publishing you chose. Buckell's piece does a good job explaining why.

The takeaway for me was that there's really no substitute for hard work, though that's no guarantee of success, not by a long shot. Most books just don't sell well. There's too much other stuff around competing for attention.

I'll be in Albany and Hudson

I will be at book fairs the next two Saturdays.

On April 27 I'll be at the Albany Children's Book Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Albany Academies, 140 Academy Road, Albany, New York.

Hudson Chidren's Book Festival 2013
Then on May 4 I'll be at the Hudson Children's Book Festival, also from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Hudson Junior and Senior High School, 215 Harry Howard Avenue, Hudson, New York.

If you are around either day, drop by and say hello!

E.L. Konigsburg RIP

It's with great sadness that I learned that E.L. Konigsburg has died. She was one of my heroes.

I wrote about her on Write Up Our Alley a few months ago. What I said then still holds true today: E. L. Konigsburg’s work has always been an inspiration to me. She was not afraid to take risks. She wrote for all age groups; focused on multiple genres; and was a true craftsman, willing to bend forms and try something new. Even if one of her stories did not grab me entirely, I still knew that what I was reading was well written and worth my time. Her brilliance and work inspired me to become a novelist.

Rest in peace.


Thank you Dante Shepherd.
So the novel is long, full of intrigue, action, and lots of characters, almost none female. The few that are female arrive late and play stereotypical roles. And then, I'm almost three quarters of the way through when the young, likeable protagonist has a conversation with an older, likeable mentor. They are talking about the protagonist's love interest.

"Women hate [her]," he said plainly, as if repeating something we both already knew.
"Hate her?" The thought baffled me. "Why?"
[. . .] "Think of it. She's pretty and charming. Men crowd round her like a stag in rut." He made a flippant gesture. "Women are bound to resent it."

Because you know, beautiful, sexually attractive women can't possibly be friends with other women. Wouldn't do.

Let's just say, I gave up soon after.

First draft!!

The first draft of the novel that I've been working on for, gosh, ages (and for which I put 60,000 words down during for NaNoWriMo back in November) is complete! [Confetti!!] It weighs in at over 160,000 words... I predict major cutting ahead.

Now in paperback!

GIL MARSH is now available in a paperback edition!


My next big thing

I want to thank my friend, Leslie Bulion for inviting me to participate in the online literary blog meme called MY NEXT BIG THING. Leslie is an award winning author of eight children's books. Her ninth, RANDOM BODY PARTS: GROSS ANATOMY RIDDLES IN VERSE is due out next year. (I love that title.)

The meme consists of a series of questions about works-in-progress and not yet published titles. Many national and international writers have participated in this. It gives readers a glimpse into the working life of a writer.

MY NEXT BIG THING is the publication of the paperback edition of GIL MARSH later this month. But in keeping with the meme, let me tell you about the novel that I'm currently working on.

What is the working title of your book?

Where did the idea come from for the book?
In my last book, GIL MARSH, my main character met someone he thought was an immortal man. I thought it’d be fun to explore this man’s history.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s a cross between realistic fiction, historical fiction and fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
The cast would be enormous. I weave three stories: one of a freshman in college whose friend gets kidnapped; another of a man who has survived one adventure after another since the mid-17th century; and the third of a woman who was born to an extremely long-lived family in the mid-18th century. The characters roam the world: from New England, to New York, Quebec, Nova Scotia, France, Barbados, England, Scotland, Calabar, and Colombia, and places in between.

What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A series of crimes have occurred on a college campus, and it’s up to a 370-year old man to figure out what happened.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I’m still working on it!

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is a tough one, since the story crosses so many genres. There’s the police-procedural feel of MONSTER, but in this case it’s everyone but the accused who speaks. There’s a taste of historical fiction like FEVER 1792, but I cover more than one year of history. There’s a dollop of epistolary romance like in SORCERY AND CECELIA, OR, THE ENCHANTED CHOCOLATE POT. There’s the fallout of being the silent victim of a crime as in SPEAK. There are several episodes of high adventure as in THE TRUE CONFESSIONS OF CHARLOTTE DOYLE. There’s the feel that history can affect the present, as in THE RING OF SOLOMON.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I was intrigued by the idea of what it would mean to be someone who can live close to a thousand years, yet be surrounded by people who have normal life-spans.

What else about your book might pique a reader’s interest?
I interweave the story of several generations of a regular family as they interact with the (now) 370-year old man. Each of these interactions affects not only the man, but the family, too, and relates to why a present-day college student was kidnapped.

When and how will it be published?
Too soon to tell.

Thank you Leslie for having tapped me! This was fun.

Catching up

I have been very quiet here these last few months, not because I haven't been busy, but precisely because I have been super-busy. Here are some of the things that have been going on:

* In November, I had the great pleasure of participating in the Bring Your Own Book and Blanket evening at the Davis Street Elementary School in New Haven, Connecticut. I met with a great group of inquisitive and engaged students who joined me to think about how you go about writing books that include many different cultures.

* In December, I finished the novel that I had been working on for NaNoWriMo, only to realize that I have to entirely restructure the beginning. I have since been working double-time to complete a serviceable first draft. At some point I'll share some of the fascinating research I have been doing to help it along.

* In January, I presented at the first Shoreline Arts Alliance Winter Workshops for Writers & Illustrators in Chester Connecticut, and discussed the art of revising novels. The workshops were well attended, and as a bonus, the proceeds went to benefit the Tassy Walden Awards: Fresh Voices in Children's Literature.

* Gil Marsh was nominated for the 2013 Teen Choice Book Awards. You can still vote on your choices here: Voting is open until February 13.

And coming up:

* Gil Marsh will be released in paperback on February 26th. Woot!

More dancing with Matt

Matt Harding and Melissa Nixon have done it again
. You've probably seen it. It's worth seeing again.


I'm a winner!

Winner-180x180It's official. I have completed over 50,000 towards my novel, and that makes me a NaNoWriMo winner.


And what did I win? A lovely certificate with my name on it (which I've printed out), the authorized use of a NaNoWriMo winner's badge (to your right), and bragging rights.

I've not finished, however. My novel still has another several chapters to go, and so I'll try to keep up my pace for the rest of the month, and as far into December as it takes to get that first rough draft written.

NaNoWriMo, day 19: The home stretch

41,673 words written; 8,327 to go. I'm on the home stretch!

I'm too beat to blog, though...

NaNoWriMo, day 12: Random notes

* 25,107 words down; 24,893 to go.

* I've reached the halfway mark. Woo hoo! I missed a few writing days because of work and family obligations, but on the days when I've been at the computer, I've kept my 2,500-word per day goal.

* Keeping the pace has been difficult. I continue to resist the urge to go back and get rid of things, but I do revise as I go. I can't help it: what I want to say is tied into the way I say it. So if I have something in mind and it came out wrong, I haven't written what I intended.

* Come December, I will have a lot to do. Not only will I need to fix what I wrote during NaNoWriMo, but I'll also need to fix what I wrote before NaNoWriMo. There are plot points that will need changing, and an entire section that I thought I could skip that will need expanding. Shoot.

* Favorite thing I learned: Even if I haven't thought through a scene, if I start writing the details, I'll get to the end and it'll be coherent.

* Most useful tip for NaNoWriMo writing: Adding is always okay. So if I've forgotten to mention or describe something early on, I can go back and put it in. It adds to the word count total. [Fist pump.]

* The biggest NaNoWriMo drawback: I'm word-dead by the end of the day.

Next week is Thanksgiving... We'll see how that pans out.

Dealing with comment spam

I have been inundated with comment spam. You haven't seen it because LiveJournal does a good job of screening it, but I end up having to deal with it on the back end, and it's wasting a lot of my time.

As an interim solution I have changed the comments setting so that only people who register with LiveJournal can post. I apologize to folks who don't want to: completely understandable. You can still reach me via my contact's page, or if you're on Facebook, I can also be reached at my page there.


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