2015 Summary

We’re staring down the barrel of the end of the year, and while there’s still plenty of time for things to happen, I’m feeling a tad retrospective. So here’s a summary of my year (so far).

After more than a year of sending out queries, I found a publisher for The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller. That was exciting! The e-book is out in January with print to follow in late spring.

The romantic comedy I co-wrote was optioned . . . and then the option lapsed, so now it’s on the market again.

The short film Adverse Possession, based on my 15-minute play “Warm Bodies,” premiered at the San Diego Fall Film Festival.

I published another Sherlock Holmes story.

I recorded my first ever podcast interview (I was the guest). It should be available early next year, I believe. (Look for She Wrote a Book, launching December 7. I believe I’m episode 7 as well. Links to come.)

I also had a flash fiction piece selected for a podcast which will air in February (that one is called No Extra Words).

I traveled to London to see Hamlet at the Barbican. Also got to see Buckingham Palace. Turns out they have amazing pastries.

I went to the DFW Writers Conference and got to meet—and really converse with—Kevin J. Anderson. He lived in Livermore! ::fangirling!::

Lots and lots of rejection. I’m feeling pretty beat down by that at the moment, but there are still a few agents and publishers interested in Changers, so I’m trying to focus on that rather than the rejections.

And I have vacation starting tomorrow, and my birthday to look forward to, and another little trip to Carmel just prior to Christmas. So there’s still plenty of time and room for good things to happen. At the same time, I fear getting my hopes up too high.

What you, dear readers, can look forward to is the Giftmas Blog Tour coming up on this and other sites. Keep your eyes peeled because there will be giveaways! Including an ARC of Peter and a copy of The K-Pro. Stay tuned!

Spectacular Settings

Victoria Street, London, April 2012
Victoria Street, London, April 2012

The above is one of my favorite photos. It’s pretty mundane, I suppose, but it’s the wallpaper on my iPhone. I love London, and I was just walking down this street one day with the idea of going on the Eye, and couldn’t stop myself snapping this shot.

Today I’m participating in the WEP Challenge of “Spectacular Settings”. I think London is a spectacular setting. It’s where The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller is largely set (though, being in the 60s, there is no London Eye).

I love this photo because you get the London cabs and the red buses. You get the red phone box, too. It reminds me that what is exotic to a traveler is everyday for a slew of people. When I’m in London, for some people I’m the most interesting thing that happens in their day. (And that’s not me being self-important; I’ve actually been told that several times.) That’s weird to think about, considering I find all of London so very interesting. And of course, to myself I’m mundane.

This all relates to Peter in that he can’t live a regular life, much as he might want to. He’s a spy. What’s normal for him doesn’t translate to the every day. So when he falls in love with a cab driver, trying to straddle those worlds . . . It’s kind of a mess.

Anyway, this picture inspires me because it forces me to see things differently. It gives me perspective. It makes me think from a different direction, which is an exercise I enjoy. “Stranger in a strange land?” Well, it’s not so strange to the people who live there! Stranger in . . . a land. Though the more often I go, the less of a stranger I become.

To-Do List

  1. Finish my WIP.
  2. Write the script I’ve been commissioned to write.

. . .

After that it’s all a muddle. There’s another script I’m co-writing that’s sort of floating around. There’s the optioned script that I don’t even know what’s going on with it and I’m afraid to find out. Peter has an editing deadline of November 10, but I haven’t heard from my editor, so . . . ??? And I should probably put another Sherlock Holmes story on my slate as well.

Life has been very interesting lately, and I do believe things happen for a reason, so I’m curious to see which way the currents take me.

Odds & Ends

Received more great coverage for my TV pilot yesterday. I have real hopes this could be a network television show.

I’ve also been getting solid feedback for Peter. Now I’m making revisions based on that feedback, and I think the novel will be stronger for it.

Lately I get a lot of, “I see you walking in the mornings.” Considering I’m up in the hills and almost never wear the same jacket twice in as many days, it might seem impossible these people are so sure they saw me. Except I’m the only person in these parts with flaming red hair streaked with orange and pink. At least, I think I am . . . My natural hair is almost completely white now, which seems crazy considering I’m not that old (in my opinion, anyway). If I were brave, I’d leave it. But I’m not brave. And I love being a redhead. And orangehead. And pinkhead. And sometimes purplehead or bluehead. I never know ’til I leave the salon what color I might end up being.

Today’s walk:

1. “Tributary Otis” by The Refreshments
2. “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers
3. “Chemical Party” by Gavin DeGraw
4. “Follow Through” by Gavin DeGraw
5. “Give Me the Meltdown” by Rob Thomas
6. “Just South of Nowhere” by Gin Blossoms
7. “Stop and Stare” by OneRepublic
8. “Drops of Jupiter” by Train
9. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” by Whitney Houston
10. “Early Morning Riser” by Pure Prairie League
11. The Road and the Sky” by Jackson Browne
12. “Where Are You Now?” by Mumford & Sons

I had a dream last night about Gin Blossoms, so I wondered if they’d turn up on my iPod this morning. In the dream I was at an outdoor concert—they were playing in front of a municipal building, but the building was in the middle of a clearing in a forest. And as the concert ended, masked men came and shot the drummer dead and took some hostages. Pretty crazy. The dream ended with me going into the building, which was a maze of beige marble hallways, and finding a room that seemed to have mounds of snow in it but they turned out to be beanbags. And a woman who acted like she knew me but was talking about my Sherlock dolls, saying, “Jim, right?” Except I only had my Sherlock doll with me, not Jim or John. And another woman asking me to look up info about the Attorney General, but all I could find was a picture of her as a cheerleader with a tattoo of the Sun in Aquarius and a bunch of astrological info. Hmm. I don’t even know how the whole hostage situation ended.

Now I’m off to continue revisions to Peter . . .

Good News, Bad News

It’s been one of those weeks. I’m getting a lot of feedback regarding Peter, which has been mostly very encouraging: it’s well written, I’m told, and a unique story. But. (And there’s always a “but.”) The story should start in a different way and I should make Peter more sympathetic from the get go.

I’ll admit he’s a cypher. That’s kind of key to being a spy. But many agents and editors are telling me to maybe get in his head a bit more.

It feels like a daunting amount of work, but I’ll do it. I need to print out the whole damn thing and give it a thorough once over, identify where and how to add and tweak.

So now I’m caught: Do I focus on fixing Peter? Or do I try to finish Changers first? Changers will surely be an easier sell to agents and publishers. But I also have this need to see Peter settled and done with. And now I feel frozen, not sure where to turn, which means I’m not getting anything done.

Well, but there’s been good news this week on the screenwriting front. Superstition keeps me from going into detail, but it’s sufficient to say I’d have had a pretty awful week if not for this bright spot.

Onward, then.

As soon as I pick a direction.

About Peter

People keep asking me where things stand with it, so here are the facts:

I’m no longer sending out queries. Right now six literary agents have the full manuscript and four others have partials. I will wait to hear what these say, and in the meantime I’m fleshing out a few revisions per some of the feedback I’ve received.

I was feeling really down about it all last week, but then I received two more requests for the manuscript—and two requests for scripts that I’ve written—and that got me feeling better.

What I’ve come to recognize about myself is that I’m a product of the system that taught me to seek approval, those gold stars from teachers and such. I was so good at that in school, but when you’re a writer the gold stars are fewer and farther between. And when I go a long while with no feedback, no praise, I get into a slump. I lose my motivation. I mope and drag.

All well and good to know this about oneself, but is there anything I can do to change it? Not sure. I need to think about it. At least I can now acknowledge when this is happening. Then, hopefully, I can find something to perk me up when it does.

For now I’m feeling okay, though I’m not sure how long those requests from last week can or will sustain my mood. I’m like a junkie! Must have pettings and soothing words said to me on a regular basis. Hmm . . . Maybe I’m more like a cat. I like the pettings, but I also get tired of them and will bite you if you carry on too long. And I definitely don’t like it if you try to pick me up.

Walk this morning:

1. “Dead Or Alive on the 405” by Gin Blossoms
2. “Main Titles” from Sherlock
3. “Give Me the Meltdown” by Rob Thomas
4. “Feel Again” by OneRepublic
5. “Bent” by Matchbox Twenty
6. “Not Coming Home” by Maroon 5
7. “Nothing to Hide” by Richard Marx
8. “Don’t Change for Me” by Gin Blossoms
9. “Hands Are Tied” by Gin Blossoms

2014 Review & 2015 Preview

So I more or less completed my goals for 2014. My co-writer and I finished the rom-com script, and I also finished the thriller an indie director asked me to pen. Both of those feel like so long ago, it’s hard to believe it was just this past year. I also finished The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller. Haven’t published it yet, though; encouraging feedback from editors at SFWC led me to believe the manuscript might be salable, so I’ve held off on self-publishing it as originally planned. Finally, I wrote my original TV pilot, and initial coverage is very promising. Now I’m also hoping it might get picked up somewhere.

I guess 2014 was an okay year. I keep a running list each year of things that happen, good and bad and neutral, and 2014 was mixed. Lots of rejection, but that’s part of the job. I can take a fair amount of no if I’m also getting some yes. Alas, there was less of that this year. We’re trying to sell the rom-com, the indie director is working on pulling together production of that thriller, and I have five literary agents reading Peter, but nothing is solid or settled, and of course that’s what I really want.

At least I can say my short film Adverse Possession finished production this year and is now on its way to film festivals. But again, nothing definite on where or when it will premiere.

So for 2015 I’m hoping for unequivocal wins. Here are my goals:

1. Get an agent for The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller.

Barring that, I will self-publish it. But I’ve had some encouraging feedback from a couple agents, and I’m hoping that will turn into one of them offering to represent it.

2. Finish Changers.

It’s about half done now. My goal is to finish the draft by 27 February, but I’m losing a lot of time over the holidays, so I don’t know if that’s reasonable. It may be more like late March.

3. Get Hunting Victor Frankenstein picked up.

Initial coverage has suggested it’s worthy of network consideration. Fingers crossed.

I’d also like to be sure I get back to London again in 2015. This past year was the first in a long time I hadn’t gone, and I miss it! I do have one trip scheduled for August at least, though not to London . . . I can’t go a year without travel of some kind; I get claustrophobic if I’m forced to stay put.

As for the rom-com and the thriller, of course I would like to see them go into production. I’d like to see Adverse Possession get picked up by some film festivals, too. But those things are out of my hands. I can only focus on what I can do.

Three things. It’s not a long list, but that doesn’t make it any less challenging. These are three major goals. Let’s see if I can reach them this coming year.

A Glass Half Full

I woke up feeling optimistic and then found a request for my manuscript in my inbox, so . . . Sometimes it pays to get out of bed.

Thinking ahead to the coming new year—it will be here sooner than you think!—my goals are to get an agent for Peter (or, failing that, publish it myself) and finish Changers, hopefully so that it will be in querying shape by this time next year. I have faith in Peter, and I’m already playing with ideas for more in the series, but Changers is probably more commercial. And there’s a chance it could be a series, too.

I’d also like to start shopping my TV pilot. I’m going to fix it up a bit per the feedback I’ve received and then see where it goes.

That seems like plenty enough to be getting on with for 2015. I really am feeling quite hopeful about my prospects on all fronts. Chin up, eyes forward, and . . . March!

Big Dipper

Or maybe it’s more like a see-saw. Or a dance: steps forward, steps back. I got two rejections, but then I got two more requests for the manuscript. Back and forth we go.

Actually, it’s like I’ve brought Peter out on the town and am introducing him to people, and they’re telling me, “He seems nice enough, but . . . There’s something not quite right about him.” I want to shout, “You just don’t know him yet!” But at the same time I give Peter a slant-eyed look and say, “Maybe we need to dress you differently.” Thing is, while my feedback has been largely good—”We like your writing, we like your characters, etc.”—no one has said what I can do to make the manuscript better. They all just say, “I don’t feel strongly enough about it.” It’s so vague. How can I get Peter better clothes if no one tells me what he’d look good in?

I guess I’m supposed to figure that out, but I dressed him in what I thought looked good on him, and now others are saying he needs to be changed.

Sigh.

Short walk this morning as (a) it was already getting warm out (but we’re looking at 60s rest of the week, yay!), and (b) I wanted to maximize my writing time since the kids are home tomorrow for Veteran’s Day.

1. “Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard” by Paul Simon
2. “How Long?” by Matchbox Twenty
3. “Vienna” by Billy Joel [my favorite Billy Joel song!]
4. “Rain on the Scarecrow” by John Cougar Mellencamp
5. “Skin” by Collective Soul
6. “I Am an Illusion” by Rob Thomas
7. “Landfall” by Jimmy Buffett
8. “Get Back In My Life” by Maroon 5

The last three seem to go from: “I’m not here” to “I’m leaving” to “Get back here!”

As for the Paul Simon song, I used to work with a guy named Julio, so I always think of him when I hear it.