Victories in the Yard, Defeats on the Page


So now it’s time for a bit of personal blogging, the kind of inane writing that no one really cares about but almost all bloggers do at some point regardless.  I’ve been busy with various things recently and haven’t had time to write up any interesting blogs so let me instead tell you what’s been keeping me away.

First off today is my wedding anniversary.  The little lady and I have been married now for four years!  There have been some anniversary related things I’ve had to get together and plan for so that has taken up a bit of time this week. 

On the writing front I’ve hit a bit of a rut.  My current project is turning out to be more of a struggle than I anticipated; actually just one part of it seems to be troublesome.  This new project will be a series of short stories that are loosely connected.  The first story however seems like it’s dragging on too much, I feel like if I keep going at the pace it currently has it will either be too long for a short story or too short for anything else.  We’ll see I suppose, I need to make some better notes about what I’m doing with it, write up a solid outline and a breakdown of each part before I really try to get back into it.

Also I got my first rejection letter from a literary agent this week, that was pretty exciting.  I more or less knew they were a little too big time for me, but I wasn’t completely sure and figured I’d give it a try.  The thinness of the returned self addressed stamped envelope was pretty much the giveaway that there wasn’t anything too splendid inside.  Upon opening it I found a standard issue form letter rejection.  Although it would have obviously been awesome to read something else, I wasn’t too downtrodden about the rejection letter, as far as I’m concerned it’s still pretty cool actually.  It most likely won’t be the last one, but it means that I’m putting my stuff out there and at least trying to get something published, and just the possibility of that is enough for now.

Here at home when I’m not writing or pandering to a pair of puggles I’ve been out in the yard working on my new yard project this year.   Our backyard is really in pretty good shape and quite spacious for a suburban dwelling but there has been one huge eyesore lurking around back there that I’ve been contemplating getting rid of for quite some time.  It is at the very back of the yard on our patio, I believe it was at one time a brick fireplace and/or grill.  What’s left of it was in crumbling ruins when we bought the house, basically only the base of it which rose about three feet high and was about four feet square.  As if that wasn’t bad enough there was a huge pane of glass placed on top of the thing about six feet square and three quarters of an inch thick.  The glass had actually been some kind of window, and a window of some renown at one time because it was etched with the words “Kent State School of Nursing” in a circle around the college’s seal.  We knew that the woman who owned the house before us was a nurse, so we assumed she must have gone to Kent State, and that when they changed the name from “school of nursing” to “college of nursing” she had some kind of connections that hooked her up with the old window.

My new project


With the big glass laid across the brick fire pit we guessed they used it as a table to sit around out at the patio, except the huge plate glass top was so huge it took up most of the patio.  That, combined with the fact that all of it was very ugly started me off on my plans to see to its undoing.  Last year we had someone come out who could smash the glass portion of it and haul it away.  After having to spend a few afternoons picking up stray shards of glass out of the grass I sort of regret not doing it myself, I had a very specific plan in mind to prevent the glass from getting all over the place, but then again I also would have been stuck with a tarp full of broken glass, so I suppose it was worth it just to have it hauled away.

This year however my sights have been set on getting rid of the brick hell hole that remained.  The brick base was of course filled with the remains of the original fireplace which meant I was about to come into possession of a great many bricks.  Several thoughts sprang to mind, maybe I’ll make a brick walkway, I could outline the entire yard in bricks, line all the flower beds, the front beds, the whole front yard even, everything lined with bricks.  It would be great.  The only problem was that most of the materials I found piled within the walls of the base were broken chunks or bricks encased in mortar.  So there went my grand plans.  There were however enough viable bricks to follow through with a few of my plans.  As you can see in the pictures below that I’ve taken with my phone.

Here’s an example of what I’ve done to put some of the bricks to use


A small covered area to store firewood for our fire bowl, made from a slab found in the brick pile


And finally in yard work not my own I spent this past Monday assisting my cousin Eric who was removing the back steps at my grandparents house and replacing them with a ramp to make it easier for them to make it to family functions when and if they feel up to it.  He had a pretty solid plan in mind and he did his research into what he wanted to do, I simply held a few boards and tightened some bolts.  It was cold as hell and pissing rain the entire day but we had a good time and I dragged one of the puggles along to run around the nice fenced in backyard, she however spent most of the day inside sitting with the grandparents after getting a bit too wet for her liking.  I didn’t get to help finish that project but the ramp is now all done and looks awesome.

The finished ramp at my grandparents house


Anyway it’s been a busy couple of weeks and I’ve had a great deal going on and a shit ton to think about so maybe when things slow down I can get back to pining over Babylon 5 or reciting my favorite planets from Star Wars.

That is all!

Writing it is Easier Than Getting it Read. Nothing New About That.

So I’ve written a novel. That sounds pretty good. Sure. That’s a great deal of time and effort put into 230,000 some words of story telling. I’ve read, and re-read the pages several times, changing, editing, adding as I need to. Now however I am on the brink of the truly difficult part, figuring out what to do with it next. I have done some research online about a few different literary agents, but of course there is also a great deal of spotlight these days on self publishing and e-books and all that. There are other resources available as well such as creating an audio book on a pod cast and circulating the work that way. Here is an example of that:

Frankly I’m leaning toward the agent route. It’s the traditionally best approach to take, most agents are also editors, which I think should go over the work with a fine toothed comb, and it just seems to make sense for me. I don’t have the resources, or connections to promote myself enough to do a self-published e-book and I don’t really have the time to create an audio book that might never be heard. I’d like to be able to get started on my next project while this one is in the hands of some professionals somewhere.

Now my biggest problem is that my current story has only been read completely by one other person, a friend, who had great things to say about it and a few helpful suggestions. I have another friend about half way through reading it, she’s actually doing some illustrations for me so she is taking her time and sketching and taking notes as she reads so it will be a little longer until she is through it all. My wife is a middle school teacher who is always under various time constraints. Although she is the best editor and literary critic I know, the last thing she wants to do with her free time during the school year is edit my work, essentially an extension of her work life, and I can’t blame her. I want her above all others to take a look at the writing, because I know she will tell it to me like it is, and let me know what’s good and what isn’t. She will get to it when she can, she is currently swamped with educating America’s future. I however am anxious to put things in motion! I have everything in place for submitting my work to an agent, cover letter, summary, chapter outline, finely tuned writing example, author bio, the works! All ready to print out and send in.

Oh and don’t get me started on printing things out, I thought it would be so much easier to just print it from home, I’d buy a brand new ink cartridge, a ream of paper, and I would be good to go. To make a long story short just go to kinkos or wherever and print your work out there. Cough up the $40 and make it easy on yourself. Trust me something will go wrong at home, and it will infuriate you AND it will all wind up costing more money in the long run.

The devil's tool

Anywho printing concerns aside, I feel stuck. I eagerly want to send this thing out there and get the whole process in motion, I want to do something more with this work I have done. While on the other hand, I am self-conscious and desperately seek some more test audiences for this thing, a bit more validation that it might actually be worth publishing, which I of course believe it is. Everyone is too busy, or unwilling to read it off a computer screen (which I don’t blame them) and I don’t have enough printed copies to go around. I’m very paranoid about handing it over to random people I don’t know and I really just want it into the hands of some pros who know more about the publishing industry then I do! Oh well, I’m sure I’ll figure something out.

As for now, that is all!