Tag Archives: Manuscript

Scattering these assembled pieces

MINDWRITERS is my greatest work. MINDWRITERS is an utter emberassment.

Let me back up.

I’ve only written short fiction this summer but Ryan Jones, a member of our small writers’ group (you have to be short to get in) has been sharing a novel-in-progress, out of order, and it’s been a thrill to see it develop.

This inspired me to dust off MINDWRITERS. And it’s emberassing. Every other line is superfluous and the language is overwrought.

As slush, I would fail this in a heartbeat. Read More →

ASK JASON ANYTHING: How do I get a copy of your book?

It’s a writer’s job to know a little bit about everything, and to thoroughly research anything he doesn’t know. ASK JASON ANYTHING is your opportunity to challenge Jason with a question of any kind, whether it’s scientific or religious, financial or social, political, historical. It can be something you already know, or something you’re genuinely curious to learn. You can ask trivia or knowledge or advice, and every Thursday, Jason will do his best to answer. (Read more atwww.jasonrpeters.com.)

Today’s question is cheating, since it’s one I already know the answer to. (It’s also on the wrong day.) But it is based on a real event: yesterday as I attempted to pound a Starcraft II opponent into oblivion, I received this surprising query:

How do I get a copy of your book?

What?…really?

Well, okay, if you insist.

For those who might follow me on RSS/Facebook/Twitter/Telepathic Emanations/Bridge Graffiti, I guess I should tell you.

There is a page on my website where you can request any manuscript I have written. You can find it here. Several short stories are included, as well as Fragile Gods. Just pick the title that interests you and submit.

Now, regarding Fragile Gods, I must again offer disclaimers: I do not think this work is up to publication standards, though I do think it is an interesting and engaging read, and I value feedback to improve it. For this reason, I am certainly not pushing it on people (‘hey, plz read my book kk”), but for the genuinely curious, it is freely available. I hope you enjoy.

FRAGILE GODS – Finished

It is my distinct pleasure to announce that I have FINISHED Fragile Gods, my first completed fantasy novel (first draft only).

Though I missed my original deadline (Christmas of 2009), I did meet my revised deadline, which was June 1st, 2010.

Are you going to try to publish it?

I’m going to send queries and samples see if I get any bites.

It would be naive to assume it will automatically be published, or even represented.

Even award-winning books selling over 400,000 copies will be rejected when the author’s name is unrecognized.

And 99% of the recent success stories I’ve heard for newly published authors involve stalking agents or editors at conventions in order to buy them lunch…not impressing them with an anonymous manuscript. 

So you’re done with this book?

Not even close. There’s a lot more polish required before I’ll be satisfied.

Are you going to take us all out for lunch when you’re rich and famous?

 Sure. But less than 1% of novelists EVER turn a profit. It took me 1 year to write FRAGILE GODS, so if I sold it for a $15,000 advance, BEFORE TAXES, that’s a pretty crummy yearly salary, even assuming I could do it annually. The gulf between “finished book” and “rich & famous” is wider than the Gulf of Mexico. But I’ll make you a deal…even if I sell one book, I’ll take you out for lunch.

Do you want me to read it?

I want everyone to read it who is willing. But I prefer that: 

  1. You regularly read fantasy/scifi, or at least popular fiction of some kind
  2. You fully intend on actually reading it (within a week or so), not setting the printout on a shelf somewhere
    1. That may sound harsh, but I’m completely un-offended by NOT offering to read. People are busy, and I guarantee you that *I* have no desire to read the work of amateur writers. Why should you? But it does get my hopes up of getting feedback and criticism when someone offers to read, and you have to understand that for me, this is a major project and one of my deliverables is obtaining tangible feedback from my alpha readers.

So what’s your next project?

I am considering going one of three directions.

  1. Get more practice writing short stories
  2. Write a science fiction novel called Music of the Spheres, which so far is about a soldier who was ordered to kill a baby after a space battle, and has refused the order and is now on the run from his commanders
  3. Write my non-fiction book: Accelerate the Progress of Mankind (by using your turn-signal), which is all about boosting world efficiency by making tiny common sense decisions, such as using your turn-signal, or deciding what to order BEFORE you get to the front of the line, or using both doorways of a double-door.

Why “it was really, really good” isn’t good enough

Success or Failure?Last night I finished a huge scene. It’s pivotal to a plot thread, and required a great deal of unique dialog and a metric ton of description.

Both were challenging by themselves; together, they were a nightmare.

I wrote no less than 1500 words; 3x my daily quota. If you saw the progress meter jump 3% today, now you know why.

Nevertheless, I was satisfied with the result.

If you read “The Novelist’s Burden” below, you know why I was aching to share this material, in spite of the fact it’s still probably unpolished (I can never tell until a few days later). So it was that when my wife arrived home from class and lab, I gave her an appropriate number of hugs before begging her to read a total of 68 pages, half of them containing new content.

She loved it. Which is frustrating to me. You see, my wife loves everything I write, whether it’s legendary or total crap. It’s very sweet, but it makes it impossible for me to judge the quality of what I’ve written.

But let’s suppose for a moment she was more critical and never said my work was good unless it really impressed her. And last night she thought my new material was very, very good.

That’s still not good enough.

What I’m going for, folks, is that when you set down the manuscript, you say “wow”, just the slightest bit breathless. You might not say it aloud, but if you’re at least thinking it, I’ll have won.

Anything less is just me playing in the sandbox for my own amusement.

It was EXACTLY what I wanted to know.

Several days ago, I got the first full-text reviewed/edited copy of Woman’s Best Friend back from a Hatrack reviewer.

It was beautiful.

To fully understand my satisfaction with having my own work ripped to shreds, you must first consider the palpable frustration of a rejection letter.

The whole aggravation of a rejected work isn’t that it simply wasn’t purchased; we’ve all had dates declined, interviews we didn’t get hired, a request denied. But in most of these circumstances, it is possible to determine why. In social circumstances, you can even ask:

Why didn’t you want to go on a date with me?

The immature lady will simply not return this call. The mature gal will admit, “Because you’re creepy, clingy, needy, you have no job, and you smell funny.” This may be painful, but it gives the guy (if he is mature) the opportunity to become less creepy and needy, get a job, and bathe more before asking the next girl.

When I get a rejection letter, my brain screams at the editor:

WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?

Based on the number of podcasts and books-on-writing I’ve devoured, I wonder:

Was my cover letter too short? Too long? Too dry? Too arrogant? Too humble? Did I misspell the editor’s name? Did the story remind them of a worse one they read in gradeschool? A better one? Did they just buy a story like this? Did they discover a misprint? Not like the title? Were they annoyed at the shade of white I printed on? Was there a smudge on the manuscript? Did they Google me and disagree with my politics? Religion? Choice of video games?

Did I give too little description? Too much? Did they not care about the characters? Did they find an element cliche? Did they finish the first page? The second? Was the ending trite? Was there a problem with the plot? The grammar? The style? Did I use too many echoes? Was my characterization thin? Or too heavy-handed? Were my hooks too trendy? Were my paragraphs too long? Too short? Was my dialog too vague? Too precise? Too true to life to be interesting? Not true enough?

…and on and on.

The frustration is not just that the work didn’t sell; even successful writers sometimes have that happen. The frustration is that to fix it, I don’t even know where to start.

Enter the anonymous critic, willing to read the whole story and pull no punches with his opinions.

I wish I could reproduce the full text including his comments for you here, but then I would have used my First North American publication rights to the story.

Suffice to say that the first total stranger to read Woman’s Best Friend found a whole host of echoes I never noticed in myriad readings. Nor did anyone else. He found whole paragraphs which could be cut, their whole meaning still evident in the sentence preceding them.

I am now working on a 5th draft of Woman’s Best Friend, which will be much tighter and more streamlined. Then if that one isn’t good enough, a 6th, and so forth.

That’s how you become perfect.

How ready is ready?

I’m really satisfied with the new opening of Perfect Justice.

If I were any more satisfied, I’d need a cigarette.

I think… I think tonight I’m going to format it for submission and send it out.

It is difficult for me to convey to you the cyclical process of excited submission; it’s really quite exquisite. It goes something like this.

1. Project is conceived.
2. Work is produced.
3. Work is painstakingly revamped.
4. Repeat 3 indefinitely.
5. Work is so good in writer’s eyes, writer thinks, How could anyone NOT love this?
6. Work is submitted for publication.
7. Writer remembers how crappy his earlier works were, even when he thought they were amazing.

I mean, I really think Perfect Justice is ready for publication. It was the first manuscript to earn a “send us more” note, and as much improvement as it’s seen since then, I can’t help but think that it’s going to published — if not by the first magazine, then by the second. Or the third.

So my brain goes into performance mode. This is IT, my brain tells me, what we’ve been waiting for!

I’ve thought this before. I think it with EVERY SUBMISSION I MAKE.

If I didn’t think the work was worth publishing, I wouldn’t send it out.

But no matter how good a work is, I can’t help remembering older works I thought were just phenomenal that now I can’t even stand.

It’s emotionally exhausting.

New version up

justice_scaleI’ve posted the preview for Perfect Justice. You can read the first half of the story here or request a copy of the full manuscript here.