Monday, October 26, 2009

Book 2 draft 1

I finished a draft for book 2 today. It's still pretty rough, but I think it has a workable story. I have two other attempts for book 2, but neither of them fully worked. The second attempt ended up being two books in one, so I took one of the ideas and used it for this third try. I'm thinking of pulling book 4 also out of that second attempt. I also have an outline done for a book 3.

Now that I have a functional draft, the real work begins. I think of it like having a clump of clay on the pottery wheel. First, you have to get the clay there before you can work with it and mold it into what you want. The first draft is just a lump of clay.

When I went to the UVU writing symposium last month, Brandon Sanderson talked about the importance of rewriting. He quoted James Michener, who said something to the effect that he was not a very good writer, but he was a good re-writer. That gave me hope. I don't have to have a perfect first draft, I just need to have a good story that can be molded and shaped into a good novel.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lost Symbol by Dan Brown

I know, everyone and their dog and their dog's fleas has written a review of Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. I'll start off with what I think is unique to my review, which is my rating system. I've been tweaking it through the last several books I've been reading,so here is my rating for this book:


Explanation: L is language, with more points being given to harsher language. S is for sex, V is for violence and gore, and A is for alcohol and drugs. The lower the number, the lower the incidents. My goal is to help people and parents to decide if the book is for them.

I liked the book, but it was also a bit of a let down. I feel Brown just plugged a new setting and factoids into the same formula he used for The DaVinci Code. Of course, his method of short chapters and trickling out of plot information makes it hard to put the book down. The chapters are so short, they are almost like Doritos, making you say, "Just one more. Just one more." It almost became laughable at times, because Robert Langdon (main character) is always going from one predicament to the next with hardly enough time to catch his (or your) breath in between. Sometimes the constant peril seemed a little too much.

One thing that bothered me was that sometimes Robert Langdon seemed a little too much of a skeptic and a little slow on the uptake. Some of the riddles I solved before he did, and he's supposed to be the symbology expert.

Bottom line: Will I let my kids read it? No. Even though the story was exciting and had interesting historical bits (with Dan Brown's twistings)it had way too much language for my taste. This is why I like young adult books better. You don't have to wade through all that garbage.

Origin story

Every super hero has an origin story. I am no exception. Of course, I still don't have any super powers, other than playing saxophone. And I'm still waiting to hear back from George Lucas about my application to the Jedi Academy. Anyway, I thought I would let people know about how I became a writer.

One day, I was busily engaged in a game of spider solitaire on my computer when I accidentally bumped the 'Start' button. I noticed a strange program. In a moment of curiosity/foolishness, I clicked on it. I strange program invaded my screen, filling it with a wide expanse of whiteness. At first, I was frightened. What could this new thing be? Was it malevolent, benign, or holy? I stretched forth a frail and trembling finger and touched the keyboard. A letter appeared! I tried it again, and another showed up. It was amazing! I could type words into it and they would magically appear on the screen. I was ecstatic. I typed several more words onto the screen in a rash of pure joy. Then, it happened: I misspelled a word. Flaming red streaks appeared across the screen, chastising me for my foolishness. What was I to do? Of course, years later, I learned that this program could magically fix those words with the click of a button. You don't even need whiteout! (I ruined several computer monitors before I figured that out.)

My exploration of this mysterious program continued for days. I kept typing words into it and it would remember them. Finally, after several weeks of this, I had a whole collection of assorted words. I printed them out and sent them out to other people. At first, these other people told me that I was a loser and that I should not quit my day job. I persevered. I battled on, I entered more letters into the magic program and I changed several more. I sent the manuscript again, and, miracle of miracles, someone liked it! Now you know how I became a writer.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Blessed life

Yesterday I was complaining about how busy life had become for me. Getting one book ready for publication while trying to write another one is very time consuming. Now, I also have to factor in getting out and selling the first book at book signings. Then, on top of that, I have my "day" job of teaching music, which requires me to keep my music chops in shape and to teach lessons. There are also lots of recordings I need to make right now. Anyway, I was stressing out about all the things I need to do until I stopped and realized something. These are all things that I enjoy doing. I'm busy doing the stuff I love, how cool is that? Other people spend all do doing things they hate. I realized that on top of being blessed with a wonderful wife and great kids, I have occupations that I enjoy too. I am truly blessed.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Decision made

Okay, so my blogging has been pathetic lately. Even though my novel is out the door and being printed, I've been focusing my energies during this break to try and finish a draft of my second book. That seems to be taking up all my writing energy. I want to finish it before November because once that month hits, I'll be having to devote a lot of time to selling my book.

I made an executive decision (for those who know me and my inability to make decisions, please don't faint)last week that right now, the balance between writing and music needs to tip heavily towards writing. I have a window of opportunity to live a life-long dream of being a published author. My plan is to devote the next few months into getting my book rolling. I hope that after it does start moving on its own, I'll be able to relax a bit and put attention again back to my music. Down the road, I plan to spend mornings being a writer and afternoons being a musician. To me, that's the best of both worlds. We'll see what happens, though.