Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tales From My Desk #4

This afternoon, after making a donut run for my wife, I decided to just sit back and chillax. We watched some Parks and Recreation for a bit and I read some.

My wife suggested we do something today, maybe head to a bookstore.

I was up and out of my seat before she could even react.

"Yes!" I said as I busied myself with sandals and gathering my keys and wallet.

We were out the door.

We visited a Barnes and Noble in Bolingbrook and I noticed several books. As I walked around I was reminded of authors who were discovered and told my wife of a few of them.

Justin Halpern, the breakout author of 2010, just came out with a new book called I Suck At Girls. His first book originated from quotes from his dad which he would put up on Twitter. An agent contacted him and he was well on his way.

Jen Lancaster, author of Bitter is The New Black, was discovered while she was writing a blog chronicling her struggles with trying to find a new job. I recently listened to her first book and liked it a lot.

I combed the literature, mystery and memoir section. But in the end, I settled on P.S. Your Cat is Dead.

When we got back home, I started re-reading bits of J.A. Konrath's book: A Newbie's Guide To Self-Publishing. If you have the chance, check it out. It's one of the best guides I've found. Right up there with On Writing and Zen in The Art of Writing.

On the writing front, I haven't been doing much creating.

Just editing.

But now I'm finally done. I just have one or two more tweaks to go and the book will be complete. At the beginning it was around 60,000 words but now it has been trimmed to a proper 56, 259. It's easy for me to see that I had 3,741 words of fat. It wasn't easy but it was needed.

Funny, I started writing this collection fresh off the heels of my first one back in 2009. Happy to say that my writing has changed a lot from then to now. I've becoming hyper-aware of the mistakes I've made along the way, compiling a list of lessons I've learned.

- Don't use the word "had" so much. People hate that.
- Don't pull any punches, people will notice.
- Show, don't tell.
- Run-on sentences are acceptable some of the time but not if it stalls the action.
- It's okay if you divert from the outline. That makes it even better!
- Commas, sometimes, well, y'know, get in the way of, well, a story and stalls it. So knock it off.
- Don't try to be clever or poetic with your prose. Let it evolve naturally.

Meanwhile, I've been debating whether I should make a list of every project I'm working on and their word count to see which one needs more love and which ones can wait. Last I checked, my next short story collection is hovering around 27,000 words. I have five books that are at forty pages each as well.

Pretty soon I'll have to get to reviewing some books like I promised.

And I haven't even started Mr. Dead Eyes 2.

But we'll see. Just have to keep on truckin'.

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