Like any nerd-blooded person across the globe, I tuned into the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special
on Saturday, November 23rd. It contained humor, drama, action, romance, and a nice little surprise at the end. All in all, the show delivered some great entertainment. And when I turned off the television and headed up to bed, my mind went back to the best parts of the show to replay them with fondness.
This doesn't normally happen with television shows these days. Most of the stuff I watch is run-of-the-mill procedurals or sitcoms that rattle the jokes off so fast it's hard to capture the essence of what's going on. Where I used to fondly recall moments of programs like The West Wing, ER,
soon after I finished watching the program, today's recollections are saved more for movies -- whenever I have time to see one in the theater. Still, I always find a joy of savoring the best moments of either a movie or television program that I truly appreciated.
In a few weeks time, my first novel Paradise Not Quite Lost
will be release to the ravenous humorous science fiction public by Ballot Press
. It contains humor, drama, action, romance, a nice little surprise toward the end, and alliteration of numerous snack foods. My wish for this book, and the 75 to 100 subsequent ones I put out until I die at the ripe old age of 140, is to have readers finish the last chapter, put the book down, and not immediately pick up the latest from Jackie Collins. I want them to lean back in their chairs and fondly savor the best moments of the book. Take it apart in their minds, perhaps, and put it back together to make it even more enjoyable.
I think that type of response from readers shows more success than a six-figure contract or a movie adaptation starring whoever was rejected from 50 Shades of Grey
. All right, maybe not the six-figure contract. That puts one's book on a different level than others, meaning a re-reading of the original and a pickup of any sequels. In the end, I think that's the only thing an author sometimes wants. I just hope that author turns out to be me.
One of the biggest fears that emerged when my editor at Ballot Press informed me I needed to make the fourth chapter of my book the first
was the characterization of the protagonist. You see, I completed the final draft of Paradise Not Quite Lost
almost a year ago in order to deliver it to an interested agent - a story you can find in detail at this link
. Afterwards, I pushed through a few chapters of the second book, which hopefully will come out not long after my initial release. Gosh, it still feels weird to talk about this.
Like characters in other series books, mine were somewhat changed from the first time I introduced myself to them. I don't want to say they matured - the protagonist is still a highly intelligent CEO, military leader, and sex addict, but there was some emotional growth and status shifts among them. When I was told to revise the first book and move the initial appearance of the main character to the beginning chapter, I wondered if I could retain the same qualities in his old persona as when I created the story two years ago.I didn't have to worry much, thanks to mental muscle memory and an already existing framework. Just as you would be able to ride a bike after not doing so for decades, the ability to recall the characters you create for your stories is stored in your brain, ready to be recalled at a moment's notice. My reintroduction to the main character was almost seamless, and I was able to give him the same swagger and snarky attitude I endowed on him when he was introduced in chapter four of my original draft. In a few short weeks, I was able to cobble together a new set of chapters, which have now been sent to my editor for review. I'm sure I'll need to do more revisions as we get closer to the final version, but at least I know I'll be able to recall my characters' endowments at a moment's notice. Now the birthdays of my children...that's a totally different challenge.
After a period of euphoria peppered with mental bursts asking myself how I got to this place in my life, my editor at Ballot Press
sent me her directions late last week. By the way, let me take a step back and ask why you guys haven't submitted your manuscripts to their bi-monthly writing contest? They pay real money and give you a good chance to get published. Before you continue on with this week's column, go ahead and put your work out there for all to see and vote on.Okay, back to the direction. Over the last decade or so a trend has started where one person informs the other that their age today is like a younger one thanks to better medicine, healthier diets, and repeated appearances of Teresa Giudice on Watch What Happens Live.
For example, I'm 44, which is really 24 in today's standards and something like 50,000 in dog years. Why this inane ranting? Well, I compare this to what my editor is looking for me to do.The first three chapters of the book? Fuggedaboutdem. Instead, today's chapter four is my new chapter one. I was expecting this. While entertaining and - all right, I'll admit it - damn funny, there were numerous characters introduced who were not the main protagonist. That dapper and oversexed CEO of an interstellar conglomerate is introduced to readers in the fourth chapter; hence, the reason he gets moved up.This is all on me. When I wrote the first chapter of the story many years ago, I introduced the antagonist first. Since this was done I didn't have a choice but to set up additional backstory leading up to the main event. By the time we got to chapter four I knew plenty about everyone else except the guy who dominates most of the book. In other logical pairings of letters, I didn't heed my own advice about getting character, relationship, location, etc., established as early as possible.It's taken me a few days to wrap my ahead around what I need to do to make this right. I want to keep the concept of the chapter; nevertheless, some action is needed to hook the reader into the crazy science fiction universe I created.
The other three chapters will remain as well, but become incorporated into chapter two and beyond. If I get stumped, I'll turn to my editor for advice and, most likely, unnecessary whining.Thus, I begin the next phase of my publication journey. Keep following to see what takes place.
I haven't posted much over the past few weeks because, well, I've been in a funk. I know this is unusual from the guy who tells everyone to stay focused, keep positive, and, to quote the amazing George Costanza, yadda yadda yadda; nevertheless, the lack of warm temperatures combined with an inability to balance the checkbook resulted in the ailment known as Frustrated Writer.
I thought my illness would continue throughout the summer, ticking off my family, critique group, and the twentysomething hitchhikers who hang out at the WalMart waiting for a hand outs. The,n as I neared my children's elementary school for the daily drop-off, II received a call from Ballot Press
. Within five minutes my status changed faster than the excuses Lindsay Lohan gives for currently being in rehab, and I went from Frustrated Writer to Published Author in Waiting.
You may not have read me correctly in the last sentence. To repeat - a company is going to publish my science fiction/humor novel Paradise Not Quite Lost!
For those didn't grasp the previous sentence - I AM GOING TO BE PUBLISHED!!
I'm still in a state of euphoric shock from the news. I've spoken to the publisher and my editor a few times since the acceptance and everyone is on board to get the book out as soon as possible. Needless to say, my ego is in a guarded state of expansion. I know it's going take some time to make the edits they request, and I'll probably end up biting my tongue when asked to take something out I think works, but I'm ready and willing to push through. Within a few months time my ego will knock the roof off my house when I hold a printed copy of my book.
Of course, many thanks have to go out to those who made this achievement possible. Besides the fine folks at Ballot Press I must give my greatest thanks to my wife, who spent many hours simmering over five children while I toiled away on my manuscript. I also want to thank my first editor on the book, Nancy Reed, who taught me so much about style and grammar that I now bother others with it whenever I get the chance. Appreciation also goes to the patient members of my critique group for their truthful comments and opinions on my manuscript. Warm acknowledgements are also sent out to Kerrie Flanagan and Northern Colorado Writers. Without NCW and its yearly conferences I don't think I would have ever gotten this far in such a short period of time.
Last, but far beyond the realm of least, I want to thank those of you who held on for so long as my journey with Paradise Not Quite Lost
went from 1st draft to manuscript query to soon-to-be published book. Stay tuned for the highs and lows I encounter over the next few months, and make sure to save some money for the book's release.
Gentlemen, I have a calcium-infused piece of exoskeleton to pick with you. I recently returned from the 2013 Northern Colorado Writers Conference, a place where authors of any age or shape are welcome, and I noticed a glaring omission - you. Well, not you
in particular. More like the general you
defining the male segment of the species. There was plenty of estrogen to go around, but the testosterone was considerably lacking.
Of the hundred or so attendees to the conference, about ten percent were men, and that's including the keynote speaker and the handful of male presenters who conducted workshops. The rest of the conference was comprised of many talented female authors and teachers who helped further hone my craft. While I've always gotten on well with members of the female persuasion - heck, I'm outnumbered five women to two men at home - it's nice to have some male bonding time every so often. I'm not talking about Australian Rules football or anything, boys.
I know you're out there, fellas - I pick up your books all the time at the library. So why aren't you appearing at these conferences? I don't believe it's because you think you're the best writers in the galaxy, because even the most successful authors need to tune-up their skills. And it's not the cost of the conference, because you have a year to save for this annual event. And don't tell me your lack of attendance was due to a family event - unless you mean sitting in your recliner watching televised golf.
Could it be fear? Personally, I spent years without typing a word because other people in my life instilled fears in me that I wasn't a good writer. It took me several thousand dollars of therapy to realize this was not the case. Members of the male persuasion tend to insulate their fear, burying it deep inside until it becomes something very unhealthy. For example, my fear morphed into a mocking commentary about the women of the Real Housewives
. Then again, that might not have been a manifestation of my fear, but rather a general anger at all the stupidity.
I hope fear didn't hold you back from attending, because you have nothing to be scared about. Not everyone at these gatherings is a galaxy-known writer. Some are as new at the craft as you are and want to share their knowledge. Trust me, you are a welcome visitor at any conference. So I expect you to be there next year. If not, I'll have the women come after you.Self Promotion Alert:
I have established a new Facebook author page as one more stop in your daily journey of Rich Keller. It Go ahead an Like it at this link
By the time you read this, I will be immersed in the workshops of the 2013 Northern Colorado Writers Conference - either as an attendee or the teacher. Should you be reading this while I'm conducting my workshop on using Improv techniques for writing, I suggest you be prepared for some quick smiting.
This will be my third conference in as many years. As in the past, I'm sure I'll learn something new, make a few more writing friends, and be intrigued by the keynote speaker, who happens to be actor and travel author Andrew McCarthy. And similar to the last two times, this year's conference will have a different feel for me.
I attended my initial NCW Conference as a newbie to the whole experience. Barely knowing anyone there, I absorbed what I could, ate meals with pleasant company, and thought it well worth the money I invested. The seeds planted at this conference blossomed, leading me to join a critique group, teach a few writing classes, and complete two manuscripts in the span of six months.
By the time my second NCW conference rolled around I was no longer an observer -- I was a manuscript pitcher who landed in a golden pool of pure luck. Not only did my pitch go well, but a successful reading during a slush pile session resulted in a request by an agent to review the full manuscript and a bit of the second book in the series. This began my transition from writer to author as I began to pitch my manuscript to other agents and started self-publishing a few of my other works.
I come to this third writing conference as a lightly seasoned author. I've pitched and been rejected, won a cash award for one of my manuscripts
, and am a more integral part of Northern Colorado Writers thanks to my daily contributions to its Facebook page
. While I won't be pitching this year, even though I have a manuscript every single agent in the country would flip for, I will be teaching a workshop. This brings a whole new set of challenges and questions, including how many people will attend, what their demeanor will be to the topic, and how big the sweat stains will be under my armpits.
I'm sure another transformation will take place when the final curtain is drawn on this year's writing conference, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it is. Who knows - next year I could be the keynote speaker. Well, as long as Stephen King isn't available.
Once again, my writing schedule has stopped me from producing a thought-provoking and pants-wetting blog entry. This is both good news and bad news. The bad news is all of you are left with an empty void on your Wednesday that inevitably gets filled by chocolate, wine, and watching the entire run of Magnum P.I. on Netflix. The good news is that you now have an excuse to do all of the previously mentioned things.
For those looking for a new morsel of enlightenment, I leave you with a funny yet truthful moment from the iconic British sketch show A Bit of Fry & Laurie, which starred Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. After watching this bit of wit on the use of language, you'll place finger to lips and gasp "Blimey, those blokes across the Pond know right what with they talk about."
When it comes to keeping my office clean, I am somewhere between anal-retentive and chaotically organized. For instance, CDs and DVDs need to be in alphabetical order or, in the case of a series of albums or movies, by the year they were released. If not, the vein on my forehead begins to throb. On the other hand, my desktop has a series of neat piles containing snippets of information I need at a moment's notice. Another vein on my forehead pulses when someone comes and cleans it all up.
The same cannot be said for my writing materials. Since we moved into our spacious home and I commandeered the basement office, anything pertaining to my writing career has been scattered across the windowless room. Reference books were stored in one bookcase while story ideas amassed themselves in a pile on another shelving unit. Past editions of Writer's Digest occupied a cubbyhole at my desk as more current editions were moved from filing cabinet, to bookcase, to, I'm sure at some point, the garbage can. Current works and contacts slid around the surface of my desk for weeks on end.
This disorganized organization changed a few days ago. Since I've been getting so close to my writing, I decided to take the plunge and let it have its very own shelf. Now, Writer's Digest issues, ten-year-old writing tips, folders of ideas, and the first short story I wrote when I was 14 now reside in one location for easy review.
I know, I've taken quite the plunge. Giving writing one whole shelf of my bookcase is a sign of true commitment on my part. This means I can't let writing down by cheating with a video game or, heaven help me, television. I need to be faithful to writing. If not, writing may leave me staring at an empty shelf with nothing to fill its void.
So, writing, let me take this time to express my devotion to you. I promise I won't let you down and, soon enough, I hope to give you a whole bookcase instead of just one shelf. However, the deal is off if you decide to organize my DVDs by color.
It's been a hectic three months here at Keller Central. So much has been produced by my prodigious digits, in cooperation with my synaptic gyrations, that I'm a little burned out and somewhat overwhelmed by the projects I still want to get done. Seeing it's the end of the quarter, I figured it's a good idea to take a week off to recharge. Thus, no new meanderings this week.
I understand how devastating this is for you - heck, my ego has been crying for days - but it needs to be done so I can return with more insightful wisdom leading up to the Northern Colorado Writers Conference. In the meantime, please feel free to peruse my previous posts on everything writing. When you're done laughing, crying, and telling your television executive friend about my stuff, head on over to the websites of some of my writing friends.The Writing Bug
- The blog of Northern Colorado WritersDeankmiller.com
- Everything Dean Miller, especially Her Father's Wooden LegPatricia Stoltey's website
- Frequent updates from mystery novelist Patricia StolteyChiseled in Rock
- The blog of Rocky Mountain Fiction WritersReel Life With Jane
- TV, Movies, and everything entertainment from former TV Squad writer Jane BoursawJenny Neil's website
- Blogging about travel, sports, and various adult beverages from Jenny Neil
I hope the entries on these blogs help you get through the next seven days.
In my bi-weekly column at The Writing Bug,
I pontificated on the rules I learned in improvisational comedy and how they applied to my career as an author. Specifically, I spoke to my use of throwing the fear of failure in the trash when a rejection email entered my inbox. You should know this already since you've read my Writing Bug column several times over. If not, I'll pause and fold laundry while you absorb its greatness.
In my effort for continual self-promotion, I posted a link to my column on the Linkedin Humor Writers
group. Once I did this, an interesting conversation took place about different styles of comedy. On one side were people who preferred the more structured elements of good sketches. On the other, people interested more in the improvisational/ad-libbing side of the genre. Upon reading these insightful comments, I came to realize there were similar factions within the writing world.
Personally, I'm an improvisational writer. When an idea pops into my head it normally comes with the basic concepts of the story or the column I'm about to write. I may put a title down or establish character names, but my normal practice is to place my fingers atop the keyboard and let it flow. I'll perform edits at the end, but what I first write tends to be within the realm of my finished product. Not to sound too egotistical, even though I am, but I feel this is a true gift I was granted, and I cherish it every day.
On the other side of the paper are authors who are planners. They come up with the idea and decide to mark it in an outline. They break down chapters, characters, and places where the action will peak, ebb, and peak again.They research ahead of time and prepare copious notes. The act of writing only begins when everything else is done and neatly categorized or, for some folks, left in unorganized piles on their desk, floor, and bathroom.
The prepared writer is not me at this stage in my career, and I'm not sure if it'll ever be. While I know authors who are very productive using their techniques of preparation, I personally believe the excitement of putting the words down would be diminished after all of the outlines and research were done ahead of time. Of course, I'm the guy who drove from Northern New Jersey to Boston one night just because I felt like it. In other words, spontaneity has been one of the biggest traits in my life.
So, are you an improviser or a preparer? Have you considered switching over, and if you did, what were the results? I'm interested in hearing your answers, right after I take an impromptu trip to Guam.