Maybe it’s the relaxed day. Maybe it’s the teenage son voluntarily listening to jazz and doing dishes in the kitchen. Maybe it’s the knowledge that “Mr. Spazz,”—the squirrel haunting our attic—has finally gone to a better place. (Easy there, PETA. “Better place” in this vernacular means “wildlife preserve on the opposite side of a major waterway.”)
Whatever the reason, here I am, reading an actual book. Or I was, until I decided to post about reading an actual book. And it may not count as an actual book, since it’s actually the Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of a book that’s already been released and was probably modified from the version I have. But let’s not quibble. The first page impressed me. It was good enough that I had to put the book down and talk about it.
In one-half page and 208 words, the author (1) bricks out a solid, sympathetic protagonist, (2) throws down a red herring or two, and (3) establishes three different sources of conflict.
Hoping the rest of the book delivers. . .
Activity Report: September 2018
- Finished Draft 3 of Shadowcloaks. Sent manuscript to alpha readers. Continued art direction.
- Attended the Writing Excuses Retreat as both vacation and professional development: seven days of writing, networking, and not doing dishes.
- Worked on PlagueRunners, subconsciously. 😉
- Did important parenting and day-job stuff.
Highlights from the Writing Excuses Retreat:
- Reconnecting with old friends and making new ones.
- Eating dinner with Dongwon Song of Howard Morhaim Literary Agency. Learning about what it means to “publish well.”
- Talking system design with Clark Rowenson.
- Making a joke at Howard Tayler’s humor lecture and watching him laugh and then effortlessly demonstrate what it means to “double-down.”
- Discussing the benefits of foreign travel with Michael Underwood and the twists and turns of life and writing with Krista Jensen.
- Watching Cooper Barham and Dan Wells argue about whose habitat gets Bobo the gorilla. (Fiasco is my new favorite game.)
- Seeing my son write 3,168 words in a single day.
It’s been a busy month. Thanks for your support. Bonus points for anyone who can guess which class circled below I didn’t attend:
“I swear I’ve been writing.”
–Benjamin Hewett (or maybe Patrick Rothfuss)
For a long time now I’ve been secretly plotting to culture my kids. It’s a sinister job, but one that parents are obliged to do. Imagine me sitting in a dark, cold basement, dry-washing my hands while scheming up ways to trick them into liking opera music before the age of 40.
Okay, so Houston doesn’t have basements.
Or cold places.*
But I was scheming.
And while I was scheming in my office after normal work hours, I came across a promising flyer from the Houston Symphony: “HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN™ IN CONCERT.”
They’ll never know this is culture, I thought.
I prepared carefully. I introduced the topic of attending the symphony nonchalantly at dinner. When they groaned, I mentioned it was a “Harry Potter 3” concert. Groans dissipated to mild disinterest. As we talked about appropriate symphony dress and behavior, they gave appropriately irritated responses, but said nothing truly alarming.
So I purchased “affordable” tickets. We arrived Friday night, dressed to kill, black ties and button ups, or black skirts and high-heels, as appropriate. And the first thing we see getting out of the car? Professor McGonagall. Not making this up. Seems like everyone at the Houston Symphony is in full fantasy getup, except us. My son turns to me and says something like, “Wait, why are we all dressed up, again?”
I’m not complaining. They enjoyed the program and only teased me a little about having left the Draco, Hermione, and Luna costumes at home. We’re getting up to leave, snapping some shots in our overdressed state, and I hear a voice behind me:
“When’s the next book coming out?”
Just like that. Almost no preamble.
Besides hanging out with my kids, that was the highlight of my evening. When a friend I haven’t seen in ages asks me to account for my writing activities and then posts my response on Facebook to all his friends, that lights a fire.
This post is for you Viddy. I swear I’ve been writing:
Activity Report Spring/Summer 2018
- Traveled to France for work. Did off-hours research for Shadowcloaks.
- Joined a writing group.
- Retro-outlined Plaguerunners per writing group’s recommendation.
- Began cutting and restructuring Plaguerunners based on consistent advice from two very talented agents.
- Finished drafting Shadowcloaks.
- Finished second draft of Shadowcloaks. (Almost.)
- Wrote statement of work and bid out cover and concept art.
- Visited family and friends in Seattle and Utah. Worked more on Shadowcloaks.
- All this time, I’ve been getting better. I think you’re going to like the results. #December2018
*My office in Houston is cold. Deathly cold. Deathly Hallows cold. (Remember that part where Harry’s trapped under the ice in nothing but his boxer shorts?) That cold. In fact, to celebrate the similarities, I’ll ship my personal copy of RINGS–complete with marginal notations and edits–to the person who posts the best caption for the photo above in the comments. There may also be consolation prizes. Let the contest begin!