Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Revising: It's Like Writing, Except Not

I don't hate revisions, but sometimes it feels like I'm not getting anything done. Many writers have progress meters that tell them when they're hitting their word counts. When I'm working on revisions, I don't feel like I'm accomplishing anything. I don't have the certified, "look what I've created!" feeling that comes when I write a story or book and step back to see, "I've written 2,000 words today."

On the other hand, I AM making progress. I, Crimsonstreak is a goofy superhero novel I wrote years ago. This was long before I knew anything about writing or publishing (or, worse yet, before before I thought I knew anything about writing or publishing). Needless to say, the book needs a lot of polish. Even after this revision is "finished," I'll still have to go back and work on it. That's the nature of writing; it constantly shifts--"finished" is a pipe dream. The first few drafts of the book came in at 60,000 words. Over the last week or so, the main adventure now has more than 68,000 words. That means I HAVE been writing, it just feels like I'm not creating anything NEW, even though I am.

My goal is to get I, Crimsonstreak up to 70,000 words (I'm soooooo close to meeting that goal). Even then, it won't be finished.

The book has about 25,000 words of non-story meta-fiction. This material includes character files, newspaper articles, journal entries, and other background information that required a fairly exhaustive timeline. Once I get through the "novel" part of the book, it's onto the meta-fiction, which needs to be indexed, rearranged, and divided into thematic appendices.

It's all very necessary, of course...but revisions make me feel like I'm running in quicksand; my feet are churning, but I'm not going anywhere...and it's very possible I'm sinking.

Do you ever feel that way?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Butler & UK: A Comparison

Above is a completely biased, somewhat researched comparison of Butler and Kentucky basketball I made just for fun. Do I expect these two teams to meet in the National Championship? I don't know. Butler faces a challenge from underdog VCU, while UK faces a blazing-hot UConn squad. I should also point out that the "Final Four" category relates to the COACHES and their Final Fours, not the schools. Kentucky boasts 14 Final Four appearances as a program.

I'm sure proud of this year's Butler team. I thought it would be extremely tough for them to even reach the Sweet Sixteen; the Final Four seemed a pipe dream. I didn't think they'd get back, so they may as well win it all.

Take a look at the enrollment numbers for the Final Four schools:
Kentucky: 27,000
VCU: 32,000
UConn: 28,000
Butler: 4,500
That's pretty amazing, isn't it? In back-to-back seasons, the Butler Bulldogs managed make it all the way to the Final Four. That's an accomplishment ANY school would be proud of, including college basketball royalty like North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, and (pre-Dark Ages) Indiana.

Of course, this year VCU is the undisputed sentimental favorite, which means we probably won't see all those fun "Hoosiers" comparisons this time around.

Don't worry, that won't stop me:

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Revisions, revisions, revisions

It's been a pretty quiet week on the writing front. I sent a manuscript into Angry Robot Books for their open submission month. I won't hear back about that for a long time, but I figured it was worth it. The worst they can say is "no thank you" and there's also the (admittedly minuscule) chance they'll take an interest in it.

Most of my writing time this week has been used to work on revisions for I, Crimsonstreak, my superhero story about a super-speedster who busts out of an insane asylum to stop his father from playing his own personal game of Risk with the entire world. I can tell a difference between the writing in that book and many of my more recent projects. I'm eliminating a lot of choppiness, beefing up the characters, and adding little vignettes to the book that reveal more about the protagonist. I'm about 3/4 into the main story from a revisions standpoint. So far, I've added 5,000 words to the narrative; my goal is to beef up the word count to about 70,000 for the main adventure. Once that's over, it's onto the meta-fiction part of the Crimsonstreak universe, which is nearly 25,000 words in its own right. That part of the text needs to be rearranged, reformatted, and rewritten.

I haven't used my precious writing meters lately, so, let me reiterate that I, Crimsonstreak is in its "Audibles" phase.

You know, because everybody needs a little Peyton (What's the Peytonometer? Find out here).

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Writing sacrifices

Writing involves blood, sweat, and tears. Mostly tears, really. I cry a lot.

But seriously, in order to write often and effectively, I've had to make some tweaks in my lifestyle. One of the biggest cop-outs wannabe writers fall victim to is the myth of "I don't have enough time to write." This excuse, which is right up there with "writer's block" in its absurdity, is often complete bunk. Yes, there are days when it's hard to find time to write, but most of the time, it's a question of desire and commitment.

I haven't sacrificed all that much--I know there are writers out there who've sacrificed much, much more than I--but I have given up a few things in order to maximize my writing time.

The Xbox 360. I've always been a big fan of video games. They're a fun diversion, but they're also a gigantic time suck. I found myself investing way too much time and effort on them. I play on occasion, but I'm no longer involved in any big multi-player events or anything like that. The Xbox is mostly used for Netflix these days.

Fantasy sports. When the NFL season starts, I'm usually the guy with three different teams. One year, I ordered a sweatshirt with the logo for my fantasy football team on it. I'm a big-time fantasy sports guy. But fielding a good team means researching, setting lineups, and scanning the waiver wire. I went cold turkey last football season. I didn't even fill out a March Madness bracket. I'm not sure whether I should be proud or weep uncontrollably.

Television. My DVR is usually full of shows that haven't been watched. After noticing this, I cancelled several programs with scheduled recordings. I've been spending so much time writing, I haven't had time to keep up with most shows (not even, lamentably, "Chuck"). I keep a few series on reserve and do watch some shows, just not as many as I used to.

Time with friends. Here's one I'm not proud of. I have become so consumed with writing in the last year that I haven't planned many activities with my friends. They're just as busy as I am, yet I haven't planned a dinner date or a movie or anything like that. It's probably a good thing for them, anyway...if we were to get together, I'd probably just talk about writing all the time...

Reading. Since I was a kid, I've been a ravenous reader. Unlike my wife, who's somehow capable of juggling three books at once, I'm usually a got-one-book-gotta-finish-it type. My reading has slowed to a crawl since putting a greater emphasis on my own writing. On the plus side, I've read a lot of short stories.

The Flying Trapeezius. A few friends and I started a blog back in 2005 that often lampooned sports, movies, pop culture, and other stuff we love. At the beginning of the year, I started shifting the focus of TFT toward my writing pursuits. I started to dominate TFT with writing-based content and decided it was time to go my own way. I spent the past weekend trying out a new blog design and making my own author blog where I'll pretty much do everything I did on TFT.

Sleep. My prime writing hours tend to be after I get home from work. Once I get on a roll, I don't want to stop. Some nights, I write from midnight till 4 or 5 in the morning. I end up going to bed and getting several hours of sleep without feeling very refreshed; on occasion, I get up early and start writing right away.

What about you? What have you had to give up in order to free up time for writing?

Monday, March 21, 2011

My Writing Perception vs. Writing Reality

It's been nearly a year since I started taking writing seriously. I mean, uber-seriously.

You see, when I first started, I had a few ideas for books, jotted down those ideas, and then wrote the books.



I thought I was ready to query agents with "brilliant" query letters I'd spent all of five minutes writing. I thought my stories so unique, so ingenious that of course someone would want to read them. I'm that talented. I'm that special.

Then I discovered something.

The form rejection.

A sampling:
"After careful consideration, we feel this is not the right fit for our agency"

"Please remember that publishing is a subjective business and not everyone who reads the work will share the same opinion"

"Please understand the fiction market is extremely tight right now and I can only take on projects I believe I can sell"
In my eagerness to get my work out there, I failed to do my research. I failed to understand, at least in part, the business at hand. I don't claim to know any secrets about publishing--if I did, I wouldn't take the time to blog or read agents' or other authors' blogs--but at the beginning, I had a complete lack of understanding about anything.

So, I spent a lot of time learning. I found it frustrating...the writer who wanted to write spent more time reading about writing than actually putting down words or working on revisions. This was a necessary undertaking, however. As I started taking my writing more seriously, I learned more about the business side and the craft part of it. You'll find many writers/bloggers who are infinitely better authorities on all this (a few of them are on my blogroll on the right side of the page), but I thought I'd share what I've discovered in the last year or so.

Perception: Your writing is brilliant and anyone who reads it will immediately recognize your clearly-apparent brilliance.

Reality: There is nothing wrong with having confidence in your writing. However, you are not brilliant. You will know this when you receive various form rejections about your novel/memoir/story. Few of these will have any type of personalization; most will be cold, stock replies that provide no guidance whatsoever.

Perception: You can churn out a compelling query letter in five minutes.

Reality: Query letters are tricky. You have to give agents/editors a taste of what you're offering, and do it in a way that makes them thirst for more. Distilling tens of thousands--or in some cases, hundreds of thousands--of words into an easily digestible, bite-size query tablet takes time, patience, and several drafts. You'll probably lose your mind while trying to pound out the "perfect query," but the insanity will pay off in the end.

Perception: All you have to do is check your first draft for spelling and grammar. After that, you're all set.

Reality: First drafts are drivel. Pure, absolute drivel. No matter how great you think your first draft is, it is exponentially more putrid than that. Your initial attempt will have some admirable qualities, but the secret to writing isn't writing; it's revising. Think of it as a sculpture; you've got to get the nose just right, which takes time and patience. A good revision requires a healthy dose of red ink, a good chunk of re-arranging, a triple check in the Plot Hole 3000, and a few passes through the Character Consistency-O-Tron. Hammer the prose, smooth it out, hammer it, smooth it out, and then hammer it again.

Perception: You're so brilliant, your acceptance rate will fall in the 90-percent range. Because you were an A-student in school, and nothing less will do.

Reality: I don't have any hard and fast numbers for this, but if you manage a 90% acceptance rate, please bequeath your magic hat to me before you expire. Anecdotal evidence from agents' blogs and sites like Duotrope's Digest and Query Tracker puts rejection rates somewhere in the 90%-95% range. It all depends on whether you're querying a book or submitting a short story, of course. It also depends on which market you're targeting. But the truth is undeniable: rejection is a major part of being a writer. It doesn't mean your work is terrible, it doesn't mean you can't write. It can, however, mean a project isn't right for a certain agent/market or your work hasn't quite reached its full potential.

Perception: Since the submission process is so easy, the response time will be just as quick!

Reality: Oh, man. You know, technology is great for writers. We no longer have to print out our stories, put them into envelopes, and mail them out. Since I've been at this for a relatively short time, I've never mailed a manuscript. I have done everything over email. It's painfully easy. Ah-HA! It's easy for me, which means it's easy for you, which in turn means it's easy for everyone else. I imagine agents' and editors' email inboxes are bombarded with a never-ending assault of submitted queries and stories. It takes me ten seconds to send something, so it should take ten seconds for the recipient to reply. Except, hundreds (more likely thousands) of people are doing the same thing! It takes more than ten seconds to read through a single submission (or at least to give it serious consideration). So all those submissions go to someone who has to read through them and pick the cream of the crop. We're talking weeks or months here.

Perception: You can do it alone.

Reality: You can't. There may be some out there skilled enough to revise their own writing, but the reality is most of us grow too close to our work. We fall so in love with a phrase or a plot twist or a character that we can't see the phrase is asinine or the plot twist doesn't fit the theme or the character actually is Han Solo (i.e., so similar to an established character that it falls outside of "homage" and drifts into "hey, dude, you totally ripped that off from someone else"). You need someone to read your work. You need someone who isn't your friend--and if they are your friend, they need to be one of those rare "they can point out when you're being a jerk and make you realize the error of your ways" types. This is my biggest personal failing...I need to discover a community of like-minded writers to bounce ideas off and critique my work (and vice versa). Writing can be a lonely profession and some of us relish our privacy, but stories are meant to be read...not locked away in a trunk or hidden on a hard drive. You owe it to yourself to let other skilled craftsmen and craftswomen take a whack at it.

Perception: You'll never make it.

Reality: Let us collectively spit in the face of this one. As the rejections pile up, you begin to feel as if you're wasting your time. As long as you have a passion for what you're doing, I assure you, you're not. "Making it" is a nebulous phrase anyway. It depends on your goals. Maybe "making it" is placing a story in a high-profile lit journal. Maybe it means you're selling 100+ ebooks a month. Maybe it's seeing your book in a Borders store (well...let's say Barnes & Noble, right?). "Making it" varies from individual to individual, and you must measure success by your own standards. Write because you love it, be persistent, and good things will happen.

Perception: You can learn everything you need on the internet.

Reality: The internet remains a terrific source for finding vital information, but it can also be a cold, detached place. I've learned a great deal about writing & publishing on the 'net (um...does anyone actually use that phrase these days?). But I think every author, regardless of level, needs to attend a writing conference somewhere. If you live in the Midwest, I highly recommend (UNSOLICITED PLUG ALERT!) the Midwest Writers Workshop at Ball State University. I went last summer and interacted with other writers, had the opportunity to pitch my work, and got positive feedback on a query letter for one of my projects.

Perception: Books belong on shelves, not on Cylon technology. Ebooks? A fad.

Reality: Some authors, J.A. Konrath and (obligatory mention!) Amanda Hocking come to mind, but this "ebook thing" is catching on. Opinions vary greatly on what this means for the publishing industry--and by "vary greatly," I mean it's either "traditional publishing is dead!" or "ebooks are destroying writing!"--but electronic distribution can't be ignored like it was a year or two ago. Learning about this part of the industry should be an essential part of your writing journey. If that means buying a Kindle, buy a Kindle. If that means reading about a Kindle, read about it. Or you can always attend a writing conference, where ebooks and digital distribution will undoubtedly pop up.

Perception: Twitter is a useless, faceless platform that perverts the English language and caters only to the techno-savvy.

Reality: I used to hate Twitter. I mean really hate it. I have learned, however, that it is actually a brilliant tool. Yes, can use it to market, but more importantly, it connects you with other writers. There are countless agents, authors, editors, and publications with Twitter accounts. You can sit back and observe or dive in and interact. Just take some time to learn the basics and lingo. Retweet good stuff and contribute great content. The followers will come.

What about you? What "dead-wrong" perceptions did you have about writing? How did you learn your lesson?

Follow me on Twitter!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Basketball and Revisions

It's hard to concentrate on writing when the NCAA Tournament is going on. Round two starts today (you heard me, NCAA. ROUND TWO), and the game I'm most interested in is the Butler-Pitt match-up. It's hard for me to believe the Dawgs have another big NCAA run in them, but stranger things have happened. Butler is a team designed to give other teams fits...and as long as they play good "D," hit the boards, and get a little outside shooting, they'll be able to compete with anyone.

My writing siesta continues this week. I shared some good news with a story acceptance this week, but I haven't written anything new or submitted a piece this week. I'm concentrating on revising I, Crimsonstreak and will also do a good read-through of The Franchise in the coming weeks.

Revisions aren't that bad--in fact, I think I'm dramatically improving the book--but it's also frustrating that I'm not writing something new. However, it's just as important to make sure a story or novel is as good as it can be.

A New Era Launches

This is tough to write today, but it is necessary.

Since 2005, I have been contributing to The Flying Trapeezius (often abbreviated simply as "TFT"). Since its inception (and idea sparked by my buddy Krildog), the blog has become a platform for sports talk, parodies, movie reviews, and general tomfoolery. For years, it was the place for me to express myself through writing.

There were Great Moments in Fake Olympic History, posts about the great Christopher Walken, the insanity of the Fighting Ultimate Championship Knockout, crappy photoshopping, crappy video editing, and much, much more.

The blog expanded, contracted, and changed to reflect its writers' various personalities. For the good part of the last two years, I have been the primary contributor, writing mostly about the Colts, trying out the TFT Movie Quote of the day, and more recently, blogging about my writing pursuits.

Today, I take a bit of my own advice. My Blogger profile no longer says "Studicus." Now, I will blog as myself. I will contribute as myself. And while I have an unwavering love for TFT, my writing pursuits do not lend themselves well to that blog's mission, which is bigger than one person. TFT should be a place for making fun of Rex Ryan and Ray Lewis; a place to deride crappy movies and goof on Dolph Lundgren.

It shouldn't be the place where my alternate ego, Matt Adams the Writer, posts under a pseudonym to talk about his writing exploits (yes, I just employed the third person and admitted to having multiple personalities). I have a new playground for my writing announcements, posts on writing craft, and other publishing content. The next stop on my writing journey is The tagline: "My Kingdom for a Novel (or a Short Story): the official blog of unofficial writer Matt's a Matt, Matt, Matt, Matt World and you're living in it."

I imagine I'll pop by TFT every once in a while, and I may even cross-post on occasion.

It may seem like an easy decision; a no-brainer. But it's something I really had to think about. I'd like to thank Krildog for helping me come to this decision.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Revisions and Book trailers

Yesterday, I shared a publishing triumph, announcing that my short story "Gus and Mariel" has been accepted for publication in an upcoming anthology. I'll let you know the details on release and such when I find out myself.

I don't have a lot to report tonight. I'm working on my book I, Crimsonstreak. I want to do some revisions and then send this latest version out to some readers. A previous draft did okay with an outside reader (i.e., someone I don't know), but he had some great suggestions that I'm putting into the book as a whole. I can tell a major difference between the writing in this book and my short stories.

It's good to be able to spot some repetitive words, boring sentence structures, and that kind of thing. Every once in a while, I'll surprise myself with a nice twist of a phrase ("Sometimes, I amaze even myself," Han said. "That doesn't sound too hard," Leia replied) while looking over my work. But I'm making revisions, oh man, am I making revisions. I wanted to bump up the word count of the book, but I need to do it in an organic manner. I've found a way to do that and have now added about 4,000 words to the narrative in the last week or so.

The major revision is still less than a third complete; even though the main narrative of I, Crimsonstreak is relatively short, I still have to go through and edit an additional 25,000 words of meta-fiction. All that has to be categorized, too.

I get excited very easily. Once an idea comes into my head, it has to come out RIGHT AWAY! I'm not impulsive, necessarily, but when I do happen to want to do something, I get fixated on it. My current fixation is on creating a book trailer. I've been sketching out ideas and storyboards and wishing I had the tools to pull it off. Since I, Crimsonstreak features comic book characters, I'd like to use hand-drawn characters, but I don't have the skills to draw them effectively. That won't stop me. I may try to come up with something this weekend, just for fun.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gus and Mariel becomes latest pub triumph!

The Peytonometer says "We have a winner!"

I received word today that my short story "Gus and Mariel" has been accepted for Library of the Living Dead Press' Attack of the 50FT Book anthology! The antho, as the title suggests, revolves around giant creatures that attack and destroy cities!

This will be my ninth story accepted for publication...bringing my story batting average (cue the stadium organ!) to .321!

Here's a brief summary of "Gus and Mariel":

Heartbroken after his beloved Mariel is taken away, Gus the Puffin accidentally steps into radioactive goo and grows to epic proportions. Desperate to find his lost love, he heads east, leaving an inadvertent path of destruction in his wake.

I'll provide updates as I learn more about the publication timetable and editing process.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Review: OMNI History Begins

All right...I've been talking about this for a while. It's time for the blog's first-ever book review.

This all started a few weeks ago when a man approached me about his book OMNI: History Begins, which is available at several major outlets, including and I decided to go for it. We haven't done any book reviews on this blog, but since the focus has become geared more toward writing, I figured it would be something unique.

Joe Graham's OMNI: History Begins tells the story of an 11-year-old boy named Joseph Pringle. He's a near-miss, which means he possesses abilities beyond the scope of normal people that fall just short of superheroic. After a particularly frightening experience at his school science fair, Joseph and his family become the focus of an investigation by the Heroes Union.

They're tested, scrutinized, poked, and prodded. The results prove surprising; not only are Joseph's powers growing at an exponential rate, but he could be a danger to humanity! He receives an unexpected invitation to Alpha, an academy where kids with special abilities train as future superheroes. Think Hogwarts...take away the wands...and replace them with spandex.

Quickly, Joseph takes the superhero "handle" Midas and falls in with a core group of friends with an international flavor: Darkspeed, Olympian, Bioforce, Virtuoso, and Shi. Despite Joseph's young age--he's only 11 years old while the others at the academy are 12 and up--his abilities continue to grow and he makes 1st Team, which is essentially the varsity superhero squad.

The kids train, they fight among each other, struggle with a lack of direction from their "tough-love" Coach Connors, and act as typical pre-teens and early teenagers should act. They form rivalries with other teams and take their lumps when they refuse to work together.

The good news: they get their act together.

The bad news: a long-thought-dead menace rises from the grave to threaten the world with unprecedented destruction and chaos.

Will the young heroes be up to the challenge?

What I Liked: I'm a sucker for superhero stories. I was instantly interested in the subject matter and really did enjoy meeting the characters and spending some time in the world. The novel is quite lengthy--600 pages--and I witnessed Joseph & company change and grow throughout the book (along with their powers). Joseph in particular discovers an incredible truth about his abilities, uncovering an unexpected destiny he isn't prepared for.

The book draws upon several of my favorite conventions, including future-science, some light time travel, and an "I am your father" moment (the funny part about the latter: it doesn't involve the main character!). Graham has created a fun world lovingly filled with things like "nanomail armor," "Sparrow transports," and "transmutation."

The story features an international cast of characters who travel across the globe as they train, grow into their powers, and face a looming global threat.

It's a fun place to visit, but...

On Second Thought: OMNI has some glaring problems, most of them in technical execution. I spotted several grammatical errors and problems with writing mechanics. While reading the book, I kept a notepad to write down any misspelling, incorrect wording, or faulty punctuation I spotted along the way. I gently put the notepad aside as the mistakes piled up. This is a self pubbed/small press book, but the quality was, unfortunately, not up to professional standards. Several problems became apparent, from confusion between words (they're vs. there) to missing punctuation, misspelled words, and even incorrect words. I found the mistakes distracting enough to pull me out of the story.

I also struggled to keep up with the sheer number of characters introduced during the first 130 or so pages. There are simply too many thrown at the reader at one time; many of these characters are sparsely used and could have been eliminated entirely or introduced in a different manner.

Also, at 300,000+ words, 600 pages, OMNI is much too long. The deft and pragmatic hand of an editor is sorely needed.

The Verdict: OMNI: History Begins aspires to be a mash-up of Ender's Game, the Harry Potter series, and classic superhero comics. It succeeds in some respects, but falls short in other areas. Readers who are able to overlook the book's technical shortcomings will find an enjoyable story...and wish the finished product had several more coats of polish.

I was provided with a complimentary copy for the express purpose of this review.

EXTRA: Interview with OMNI author Joe Graham

What influenced you to write OMNI?

Joe: I always wanted to write something my kids would like to read. OMNI started out as a few bedtime stories. Then I simply wanted to write it down so they would have something from me to read. It just started snowballing from there into a story much bigger than I thought it would ever be.

I work as a computer scientist and have seven children. When I started writing OHB, I had six. Their names are Jacob (Jake), Johanna, Joseph, Jillianne, Juliette (Jet), and John. They are the basis for the personalities you see in 1st team, which is the reason you have multiple protagonists in the story, each is a special part. I just happen to use Joseph’s character to pave the introduction into the story. Also, Jake is the one who did the cover art and the green and black comet on the back of the book is the Darkspeed symbol.

What other books and authors do you count as influences?

Joe: I met a comic book writer at ComiCon back in 92. He gave a workshop on storytelling. I remember it vividly to this day (because) he really brought his craft to life and sparked something inside of me that made me what to be a storyteller of any medium. I left his name off, because years later when I tried to contact him and tell him what an influence he was on my life, he was a colossal jerk. Oh well, I’ll just remember the good part.

Other than that, (I would say) Orson Scott Card because he also put out a book on writing sci-fi. I read that book and saw how his rules for writing worked in his own worlds. That meant something to me; to read how he thought as he wrote.

How long did it take to write the first draft?

Joe: I have a full-time job and a big family, so in my "spare" time it took about a year. That breaks down like this:

1) Three months to write a 75-page outline and invent the new world and its science and jargon.

2) Six months to actually write the rough text. When I write, I write ten pages in three hours. I don’t look back. I don’t check spelling. I don’t let anything derail me from making forward progress. It’s kind of like free writing.

3) Three months to check the book for plot content. I looked for any holes in the plot that might come back to haunt me.

What has been the biggest struggle in promoting the book?

Joe: I’m not really a promotions guy, so it’s been a complete amateur effort on my part. I think I’m kind of like Edison who said, “I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways to NOT make a light bulb.” Only catch is, I don’t think I’m up to 1,000 yet!

What can you tell readers about your plans for the sequel? Is it bigger? Better? Grander?

Joe: All of those things :)

CWII (Coalition's War II) is about one-third written. It starts up two days after the last one ended. One of the things I started doing in this book is giving Vector (the main bad guy who appears relatively briefly in book one) as much time in development as the rest of the main characters.

In OHB, I had to teach the reader my universe, which I did through Midas/Cosmos, as he learned it. In CWII, I don’t do that. I pick up where I left off and assume (the reader knows) all that. The second book moves faster because of this.

More secrets are revealed as the story goes on, showing the strengths and the weaknesses of the main characters. The Coalition becomes a greater threat as the heroes prepare for the next round.

What are your writing ambitions? Are you working on anything else?

Joe: I’ve written a few movie scripts, one really good one. But, I think that working the OMNI series is the thing that interests me most. I’ve sat down and written the end of the series, which happens several books later. It’s nice to have a clear vision of where you started and where you will end. This series is my labor of love.

Tell me a little about Rejection Press? What’s the idea behind it? What’s next?

Joe: When I finished my first draft, I started emailing publishers and agents, ignorant of the whole publishing process. I was fortunate if anyone even responded with a rejection. Most of the time, it was no response at all.

I had the chance to meet a lady on the internet who had just published a book on horse breeding. Being an expert in her field and working to polish her query letter and approach, she sent out over 200 letters over a two-year period before an agent agreed to read her book.

I’m too impatient for that, so Rejection Press was born. I started a small press and my work is available online.

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to hook up with a big publisher. To date, no one in the mainstream publishing industry has read my work.

As for the future, expect more of the OMNI series and more of the same storytelling.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Journey through "In Memoriam"

I called my wife as I started the 25-minute journey from home today and she informed me that I had a package waiting for me. I wasn't expecting anything--after all, I haven't ordered anything online since Christmas--but I finally put it together: my contributor's copy of A Thousand Faces had arrived!

The pristine cover of this fine publication.

I wrote "In Memoriam" nearly a year ago and learned it had been accepted for publication in May. The actual issue appeared in November. I have a special attachment to the story; it was the very first story I ever submitted and the first accepted for publication, although it was not the first one I ever had published (that distinction belongs to "The Bank Loan," which appeared in an issue of This Mutant Life)

A familiar author penned this story.

As I flipped through the book eager to again read the fine stories contained within, I spotted something on the last page that made me smile. A Thousand Faces accepted another work of mine...which was actually promoted!

It's blurry...but if you squint really hard, you can see that certain familiar author's work promoted for the next issue!

A Thousand Faces publishes quarterly. My next story, "The Villain," will appear in the March 2011 issue, which is coming soon! Make sure to check out A Thousand Faces for updates! Of course, when it's up, you'll hear about it here!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Matt at Work! I Promise!

I have had, admittedly, a very quiet week on the blog. It's correlated with a fairly quiet week writing. I dedicated the first half of the week to TFT's first-ever book review, which will be up shortly. When I haven't been making notes about that book, I've been revising one of my own.

I have great dreams of turning I, Crimsonstreak into an e-book and becoming the next Amanda Hocking (rolls eyes). I'm not serious, but I am contemplating doing something a little different with this book. It's too much "fun" for a mainstream publisher. Perhaps a small press would be interested? I don't know...but I do know it needs a lot of polish. So no short stories, no big bursts of creativity, and no updates on the Reggie Miller Writing Continuum.'s like writing...only...not.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

You Are What you Tweet

I used to hate Twitter.

A lot.

I'm serious about this.

I once said if Twitter were a person, I'd punch it in the face. And then I'd kick it 17 times while it's down. After that, I'd locate the nearest burlap sack, stuff Twitter inside, weigh it down with bricks, and throw it into the Laurentian Abyss.

The concepts of "tweet" and "retweet" and allowing stupid 140-character messages to replace, oh I don't know, actual thought and discourse alarmed me.

Text messages on steroids.

Despicable. Distasteful.

But you know what? I was wrong about Twitter. If it were a person, I'd take it out for treat.

I don't have many followers...I'm working on it...but Twitter is an incredible tool for writers. You can reach hundreds of people with a simple, short message. New blog post? Share it. Read a great blog post? Share it. Story accepted? Share it. Story rejected? Share it.

I know, I know. This is 2008-era stuff that people a lot smarter than me learned a long time ago. What I have to say is nothing revolutionary, least of all to those who are already on "the Twitter."

But if you know a writer who isn't taking advantage of Twitter, hit them.

Hit them hard.

If they're too shy to tweet, Twitter is still too valuable to overlook or stubbornly ignore. Writers can get a feel for individual agents, discover valuable blog posts from other writers struggling in this crazy business, and find outlets for their work.

Twitter will grow on them...maybe like a festive moss, but it will grow on them. Pretty soon, they'll discover things like hashtags and Writers Wednesday. They'll overcome that shyness and begin to make connections and build a sense of community.

So don't punch Twitter in the face.

Embrace it...and encourage others to do the same.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Quiet! Revisions Underway!

100th Comment on this post gets this logo on a t-shirt.

While I don't know where the rest of the week will take me, I'm committed to revising one of my earliest books, I, Crimsonstreak, a humorous, first-person take on the superhero genre.

This one's been sitting around for a couple of years. Let's put this in perspective: when I finished I, Crimsonstreak, I'd written a total of 120,000 words between that book and my very first. Since then, my writing output has been been much more impressive, with two other finished books and more than 35 short stories.

This isn't boasting; what I'm saying is that I've put a lot of words between I, Crimsonstreak and myself since originally "finishing" the novel (we all know, of course, that no creative endeavor is truly ever "finished"). When I was writing it, I had no idea what I was doing (in many ways, I still don't); I hadn't had anything published. While I'm not a big-time author by any stretch of the imagination, I now feel like I have a better grasp of writing in general. I can look back at this book, see its flaws, and grind them out.

After that, I'm going to need some beta readers to take a look at it and then go back for more revisions. But I can't do that until I feel the book has improved dramatically from its last draft.

The blog will probably remain relatively quiet this week (although that could ALWAYS change) because I'm working on revisions instead of coming up with something new. It's not that revisions aren't writing--writing is revising, point of fact--but it's not that exciting to do any kind of commentary on revisions...unless I find some extremely poorly-written sentence to share.

But wait...I can use the Peytonometer for this!

I, Crimsonstreak--now in the "Audibles" stage!

The Peytonometer: Not just for short stories!

My other project is a book review for someone who found this blog and thought I'd like to read his superhero novel. I'm about halfway through the book, which is about 600 pages. Either this week or next week, look for a review and an interview with the writer.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

A writing week (kind of) wasted

This was a lost week for me as far as writing is concerned I didn't write a single word of fiction nor did I revise any of my current works, meaning I pretty much failed in every possible capacity from a writing standpoint (although I did learn the first line of "We Didn't Start the Fire!").

I also pledged to read a book and do a review. Guess what: I'm not even to the second chapter yet. Work, work, and a side, freelance video editing project stole all my time this week.

The irony? Work and the video project pay actual money.

Writing does not.

In the last two weeks, I've had two story acceptances and two story rejections. The acceptances are "for the love" publications; the rejections were from places that pay a little bit of money.

But that's okay.

Writing isn't about the money. I would love to get paid, but do you know why I'd love to get paid to write? It's not because I'm a greedy guy who wants to score big and never worry about money for the rest of my life (although I'll take that!); it's because getting paid to write means I could do it full-time and devote entire days to writing instead of just a few hours here and there. The most frustrating thing about this week was staying up until 3:30 in the morning working on a video project knowing that I COULD be sending out query letters or polishing a story or revising a book or creating something entirely new. On the other hand, I did enjoy the editing was another way of using my creativity.

It takes years to build a body of work and find an audience. I am at the very beginning of this whole writing thing; it's something I often forget.

We read stories about a super-successful author like Amanda Hocking and the media makes her into this "media sensation" who found overnight success. But Ms. Hocking is no overnight success; she's been working and writing and trying to find her niche just like everybody else. She simply became frustrated with "big house publishing" and tried something different. She's sold a ton of ebooks and is now the example people point to and say, "Take that Big House Publishing! We're gonna clone a million Amanda Hockings and take you down!"


Not only is that NOT what Ms. Hocking set out to do, she doesn't even think her success will be repeated on a wide scale. For every author like her, there are thousands of others eking out dozens of sales a week. Books are being seen as products and not books; being sold at the same, low price points that made music labels cringe when iTunes came to town (Ms. Hocking has terrific blog post about her success can also find her on the Twitter...and she tweets A LOT).

Her success, however, does make people wonder. I know I have at least one book that is not going to be a very marketable piece for a big publisher. I've toyed with the idea of turning that book into an ebook (after a healthy spit-shine, of course) and trying it out just to test the waters. But I have no real following, very little knowledge of how to market, no outlet for getting pub, and abso-freaking-lutely no idea where to start.

Okay...I lied about the last part. It all starts with the writing part. The stuff after that hurts my brain.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You can't win 'em all...

While one short story was accepted today, another was rejected.

Don't worry, I'm just fine. These things happen in're *sob* told *sob sob* you're not *sob sob sob* good enough...

Poor "Baz Ramen and His Great Intergalactic Band." It's a fun story, just not the most marketable one in the world. This means I should give up, right? I'm a hack writer, right?

Oh, the humanity!

On the plus graphic time!

What do we call it when a story gets rejected?

It's been Foxboroughed!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Vengeance" is Static Movement's!

Well, I can tell you my writing productivity this week will be very low. I have a freelance video project with a tight deadline to work on and I'm also going to do the site's first-ever book review. Funny how that have to actually READ the book before you review it.

At least I have one nice piece of writing news to share today: my short story "Vengeance" was accepted for an anthology called Serve in Heaven, Reign in Hell from the awesome folks at Static Movement. One thing I'll say for them: they never lack for anthology ideas. Seriously, check out their website and you'll find more than two dozen open anthologies!

A quick summary of "Vengeance" - Calvin Collins is a nobody, a low-level hood with friends in low places--the perfect police informant. Double-crossed by two detectives he foolishly trusted, Calvin gets three bullets in the chest and an all-expenses-paid trip to Hell. There, he faces a choice: a painful, fiery afterlife or the chance to get even. But in order to avenge his death, he must first become Vengeance, a being of pure, dark energy who serves an even darker master.

Oh...oh...oh! Wait...

Do you know what this means? I get to invoke the Peytonometer!!!!!!!

Dial it up to "We Have a Winner," baby!

What does the Peytonometer mean? You'll find the answer here.