Day 45

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I woke up later than I'd planned, sent a few emails, read a few pages and looked over my to-do list for the rest of the week.  Poor mom.  She has such a boring, work-obsessed son.  We're going to see Side Effects this afternoon. 

6:30 p.m. - so mom and I saw this film.  The setup was intriguing and the middle of the film held my interest; however, the final 20 minutes was truly preposterous and silly.  The more I thought about the actual storyline, the more I felt cheated by this film.  Endings are tough because so many surprises have already been done and storytellers feel the need to create something completely new.  They lead audiences down one path, then change course to fullfil some element of surprise and wonder.  Yikes.  This ending truly blew. 


Day 44

Tuesday, February 27, 2013

I'm at mom's in Mesa, AZ and her place is very comfortable, like a resort.  Every little detail has been thought out, from the cups and plates to the details within each room.  Everything is new and organized.  I can see where I get my organizational skills. 

I sent out five queries today, read a few chapters from the Steve Jobs biography I picked up (after neglecting it for several weeks), watched two episodes of Real Time with Bill Maher and two episodes of Veep, which is smart and clever and all, but also a bit much after an hour.

I have a list of ideas to update my website and another list of topics to research for my books.  I don't know how much I can get done in March and April; however, I hope it's more than I thought possible. 

Day 43

Monday, February 25, 2013

Woke up late (5:15) and had no time for racquetball.  Damn!  Went to the gym anyway to shower, etc.  Drove Neil to the airport at 6:45 and returned home by 8.

Cleaned, organized at got ready for my trip to mom's.  Flight leaves at 5.  I'm out of the apt. at 2:35.

This week, my goal is to send as many queries out I can.  25-30 would be good.  I have two new projects (Austin15 and True Colors Detective Agency) to get off the ground.  Introducing Girls will be revised between these two.  I think IG is the least commercial of the lot.  Austin15 may be the most commercial, but what do I know.

Apparently, I know absolutely nothing.  I'm still in a bit of a state over all the rejection Julia Milan received from editors last year.  When I emailed Sam ending our Agreement, he apologized for being so silent and gave me the rest of the bad news.  He'd sent Julia to 20 editors.  Fifteen of them said no and five said nothing.  So the entire project is in a box.  It's an accurate metaphor for my life.  In a box.  Misunderstood.  Not wanted by the experts.  I truly hope she has her day and finds enough of a following to warrant the second and third books in the series.  It will be this bitter pill that fuels all the simple, commercially viable stories that follow.  I'm so disappointed.

It's a good time to write Austin15. 

Day 42

Sunday, February 24, 2013

No Writing Today.

I spent most of the day preparing for the last of three parties I hosted this month.  The Academy Awards party started at 3 with the red carpet, but I hadn't realize until too late that the actual starting time for the Oscars was 5:30 instead of 4.  ABC tricked me with their misleading announcement on their website.  So much of what goes on today is wound up in that kind of seemingly benign manipulation.  Way to go, ABC.  Remind me to always confirm everything you ever say on your website with another source.  That's so annoying.

Anyway, the show started at 5:30 with Seth MacFarlane as host.  He was good, playing into his bad taste/crossing-the-line persona.  The show was different, funny, and moved quickly.  But man, those commercials toward the end.  Brutal.  So many commercials.  Unreal.

Haven't seen Life of Pi yet, but will in 3D.  Looks amazing.  Ang Lee is a brilliant storytelling genius.  It would be worth watching every film he's ever made. 

The party ended around 8:30.  I was wiped out by 9:30 and in bed by 10. 

Day 41

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sam emailed me today after over three months of silence.   He actually sent a very thoughtful and appropriate email apologizing for the long wait and keeping me in such a lurch, which I really appreciated.  He was as dismayed and frustraited as I was about the goose egg from Julia Milan.  I'd asked him if there were more than the twelve rejections he'd initially sent me last year.  There were eight more, which was really unfortunate.  One editor liked the book but couldn't convince her board to go along with it.  Across the board, Julia was one big pass.  That is really sad because that's sort of how I put stories together.  Needless to say, my confidence is shaken. 

Sam has also found the YA market a bit perplexing, so he has wished me well in cracking the YA nut.  We've parted on good terms, which is how it's supposed to be. 

Martin Martinez is now in query mode; however, I'm worried no one will pick this book up.  I'm not good at positioning novels for a particular audience.  If you write for everyone, you may end up writing for no one. 

I'm now under a great deal of pressure to get something going.  I'm really very surprised that Julia didn't sell, but then again, I understand that my take on things is limited and perhaps a little unusual.  It's certainly not the norm, that I know. 

Alice and I hung out at her house today.  We went shopping for tomorrow's Oscar party.  I'm in total work mode these days.  I have a few months before I have to make a decision about finances.  I will make that decision eventually, but with a few months of income I can perhaps knock out a project or two.  Austin15 will be a top priority.  True Colors Detective Agency may be a good stab at hitting the middle grade market.  I may have to fasttrack all these projects.  If I've learned anything from Julia Milan, it's simply not worthwhile to perfect a novel that won't get picked up anyway.  Productivity and speed are now what's most important.  Forget about quality, at least for time being.

Day 40

Friday, February 22, 2013

I woke up at 4:40 and was at the gym by 5.  Played until 7:30.  Worked on my query, revised Martin Martinez and sent out my first new query this afternoon. 

Along with my first query, I sent Sam written confirmation to end our Agreement.  It was sad but necessary.  Now I'm back at square one again.  What a life. 

Alice and I went to see Silver Linings Playbook at the Van Ness AMC.  Good film.  I like David O. Russell's films. 

Day 39

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I woke up at 4:55 a.m. and drilled at the gym until 6:30.  I was home at 7 and made breakfast for me and Neil.  I have a busy day wrapping up Martin and beginning another round of queries.  I'll need to put my doubts aside and plow through.

I'll send my final email to Sam tomorrow.  It's back to the drawing board for me.  At this point, I'm just using what new information I have and moving on.  More on this tomorrow.

Day 38

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Got up at 4:40, played racquetball until 7:00.  Home by 8.  Returned a few emails and tidied up the place for Neil's arrival.  I have so much to do right now...I'm feeling slightly overwhelmed.

5:00 p.m.  I finished my Martin query and edited another chapter.  I'll start sending queries out tomorrow.

I think my Austin15 novel might be the most commercial book I'll write this year.  Introducing Girls might not carry as much appeal with agents and editors.  It's probably better for me to write Austin15 before No Sweat, but perhaps I can outline that memoir as I get Introducing Girls in shape.  So many ideas at the same time...

Meanwhile, Martin Martinez begins its journey for a home this week.  It's an odd sort of book that was originally intended to be a Middle Grade biography but ended up being more adult and sophisticated. I have Julia numbers to compare.  Of the 196 agents I queried I received 26 positive replies or 13.4%.  Of those, only one agent offered representation. 196, 26, 1.  It's time to discover Martin's numbers.

Day 37

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Got up at 4:45 and arrived at Club One at 5:30.  Practiced for an hour before Ruby showed up for our weekly singles games.  She's fast and consistent when she's on.  Today she was a little off.  I practiced my ceiling shots and cross-court shots.  I'm trying to vary the speed of my game to conserve energy. 

I was home by 8:15 and working at 8:40.  It's now 10:05 a.m. and my plan for the day is to get Martin Martinez ready for his debut.  I'm going through the entire agent process all over again.  Let's see how Martin fares compared to Julia.

I'm putting a Facebook page of Martin online and revising my website.  I'm also beefing up the manuscript so that every paragraph moves.  More conflict might be needed as well, especially in some of the early and middle chapters.  The last section flows well.

10:00 p.m. - A full day of writing and thinking.  Working on my Martin Martinez query.  It's getting there.  I'm putting all the pieces in place for Martin. 

Day 36

Monday, February 18, 2013 - President's Day

Wrote for two hours in the morning until we went to Elaine and Wayman's in Los Altos at 10.  Ate at Five Guys burgers for lunch.  Played Wits and Wagers afterward.  Alice and Elaine went shopping earlier in the day, so I was able to revise Martin Martinez for a few hours.

Day 35

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Actually wrote and added to the agents I'll query for two hours today.  Alice and I drove to San Rafael, ate lunch at the Farmer's Market and took a five-mile walk along McNear's Beach and China Camp Beach.  Beautiful day today.

Day 34

Saturday, February 16, 2013

One hour of writing in the morning.

We celebrated Chinese New Year's at Alice's with her family.  Lots of shopping, cooking and chores.  No time at all for anything else.  The evening was a big success as always with Alice.  She's an amazing host and incredible cook!

Day 33

Friday, February 15, 2013

I was up at 4:10 today at Alice's and hit the road at 4:25.  Made it to the gym on time with Dorian, Glenn and Steve there as well.  Tiger arrived at 5:10, so the guys are coming earlier and earlier.

Started writing at 8:15 with query revisions, blog entries, thoughts on chapter 3 of IG and the opening of Martin Martinez.  Lots to think about.

I'm continuing my strategy of assigning 5, 10, and 15-minute to-do list tasks to keep me on task.  It seems to be working well.  I find myself more focused when I'm engaged in many projects at once.  Some tasks take a long time, so I'll sometimes extend how long I have.  It works.  I am more likely to finish five tasks that take 10 minutes each than one task taking 50 minutes.  It's how I'm wired.  The key is writing everything down on paper, setting my egg timer, and crossing off the item when the timer goes off.  It's not about finishing, it's about doing.  By the end of the day, when I've logged in 40-50 minutes of time on each task, I can then work to complete whatever the task is.  Usually, things take between 20-80 minutes to finish.  Breaking up an 80-minute task into ten five-minute tasks and three ten-minute tasks is so much more efficient.  Crazy but true.

I'm assigning lunchboxes to all the characters in Introducing Girls.  Jamal has an Eval Knieval box, Annette an Orange Crush box, Kelly a Snoopy lunchbox. 

Day 32

Thursday, February 14, 2013

I woke up at 5:30 and was at the gym by 6:10.  I played a league match with Jacob, who is super fast and going to be very good in a few years.  I'm at a place in racquetball where I can control all aspects of a match when playing inferior players.  Tyrone is hurt, so the only real threat this season is -- who else -- Steve Basham, who's simply getting better and better.

I left the gym at 8:15 and got things done until 10:40.  Had a haircut with Louie at 11, then went to the library to check out any new books that may have wandered in from Friends of the Library.  Yesterday, I bought five Cassandra Clark books.  She's prolific and very good.  I like the opening of her Mortal Instruments series.  Very creative and engaging.

From noon - 4 I'm sending out emails, revising, getting lists done and crossing things off.  When I break tasks down to five-minute intervals, I'm so much more productive and less likely to become distracted.  I get distracted so easily.

Day 31

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

I got up at 4:30, made the gym by 5 and played until 7.  It was doubles all morning, though Steve and I played a game to 7.  He kicked my butt!  Ouch.  I need to come with some new heat for Basham!

I worked on query letters and put some time into my querytracker page.  I hate having to find a new agent again, but I feel as though I've been left with no choice.  

Day 30

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

I got up at 5:00, practiced a few racquetball drills from 5:30-6:45, played Ruby until 7:30, then came home and began a full day of writing.  I sent chapter two of Introducing Girls to Chris and will begin the revision to chapters 3 and 4. 

With today being the one-week anniversary of Sandy's stroke, I went over to Rhonda and Biff's and had cosmopolitans.  Biff had to go to a meditation class, so Rhonda and I had dinner at Spettro's. 

I talked with Chris at 8:30.  He's continuing with his island bakery murder mystery.  I loved the first chapter and look forwarding to seeing what he comes up with.

Day 29

Monday, February 11, 2013

I woke up at 4:40 a.m. and was at the gym by 5:05.  I played raquetball with Dorian, Steve B., Glenn, Tiger, Jim and Jamiel until 7.  From 8-8:30 I ate breakfast and cleaned up from the Sandy Celebration yesterday afternoon.  My energy was back.

I worked on chapter 2 of Introducing Girls.  I'm not quite finished with the draft, but plan to send it to Chris for tomorrow night.

I'm preparing a new query for Martin Martinez and putting together a new query list for agents.  My agent Sam has made it clear that he is no longer working for me.  I wish him all the best and am happy for his success with some of his bestselling authors.  I can see it's going to take all my resilience and confidence to get any novel sold in this lifetime.  I'm embarrassed that nothing has happened yet.  I know I shouldn't be, but it's hard not to feel like a failure.  Martin Martinez is an interesting book and has every chance of finding a home as Julia Milan had.  Perhaps with the right agent, all the pieces will be in place toward finding a great editor to take my stories to the next level.

I dread the entire query process, but will try and make it as enjoyable and painless as possible.

Sandy is still in my thoughts...I miss that little dog so much today.

Day 28

Sunday, February 10, 2013

No writing today.

I spent the day preparing for Sandy Celebration, which happened from 2-5.  About a dozen people came.  It was very nice and a fitting way to honor such a special dog.

Good old Sandy!


Day 27

Saturday, February 9, 2013

No Writing today.

I spent the day with Alice.  She had a hair appointment in Alameda at 9, so I drove her there and visited Rossana for about 20 minutes.  We came back to my place and picked up some kettle corn at the Farmer's Market.  We then headed to San Francisco, hit Costco, then went to Alice's for a few hours.  After 2, we drove to a nearby MUNI station and took the tram to Powell.  We saw Skyfall at the AMC Metreon, then had dinner near Bloomingdale's.  Alice bought an ipad for her father.

Day 26

Friday, February 8, 2013

No writing today.

Day 25

Thursday, February 7, 2013

No writing today.

Sandy died early this morning after suffering another round of seizures through the night.  She was 17.  She died around 7:30 this morning in a pet hospital in San Francisco.  She was a wonderful, wonderful dog.  I was much closer to her than I probably ever realized.  She was a loving, loyal companion.  She will be in my thoughts for the rest of my life.

Day 24

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

No writing today.

Sandy had seizures all night, but seemed to be in stable condition today.  Her appetite had returned and was barking throughout the day.  Rhonda could hear her when she called the hospital in San Francisco.

Rhonda and Biff are willing to spend thousands of dollars in an attempt to see if Sandy can live an extra six months to a year or more.  I'm not sure she can.  She could have another stroke at any moment.  She's 17 years old and has already lived a long, happy life.  Knowing this dog, she'll outlive all of us.

Day 23

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I completed chapter 1 of Introducing Girls and sent it off to Chris, along with my Pro Racquetball Academy piece.  Chris liked both of them.  He found the three characters in Girls compelling and was eager to learn more.  I started the day at 6 and ended around 10:30.  I'll look over the chapter tomorrow and get chapter 2 going.  I have 30 chapters total of Introducing Girls.  Realistically, I could have this piece finished by March.  We'll see.

My sweet little dog Sandy had a seizure this evening and several more throughout the night.  She's in a hospital in San Francisco and awaiting more tests to see what the cause is.  Her other owners Rhonda and Biff are prepared to do whatever it takes to keep Sandy going.  I'm not, so maybe it's time to give them full ownership of the dog.  Sandy has enjoyed a wonderful second life since joining me in Oakland.  We've been together since October 2005.  She is a very sweet and loving dog.  I'll always remember her zest for life, her enthusiasm, and her walks. 

Day 22

Monday, February 3, 2013

I wrote from 8-6, focusing on the right way to begin Introducing Girls.  I've decided to begin with three perspectives (Kelly, Annette and Jamal) and slowly grow the number of perspectives as the book develops.  Near collisions unifies the three characters in the first chapter, Kelly running into Annette, Annette almost running into Jamal, and Jamal running into Kelly.  Not sure if it will work, but we'll see.

I spent more time ironing out the three perspectives in chapter one than I would have liked, but that's how openings always go.  They're the most important paragraphs of the story.  I hope the beginning isn't too busy.  It won't work if it doesn't flow.


Day 21

Sunday, February 3, 2013

No writing today.

I spent the whole day getting ready for my annual Super Bowl party.  It started at 3 and ended around 7:45.  It was a great game.  San Francisco had several chances to go ahead.  Baltimore stayed tough.  I made chili, fruit skewers, guacamole, corn bread and had all sorts of snack items.  It was great fun hanging with the Youngs, Rhonda and Biff, Rodney and Spike, Rossana and of course sweet Alice!

Day 20

Saturday, February 2, 2013

No writing today.

I played in our club doubles tournament with Dorian from 8-1.  We came in second.  Steve Young and his partner E.J. were pretty awesome. 

Dorian played great.  I didn't have much left in the finals after overcoming a 3-14 deficit in the semis to win 15-14. 

Day 19

Friday, February 1, 2013

Into Introducing Girls now.  I will focus exclusively on this book during February.  If I can get a decent draft on paper before March that would be terrific!  It's going to be around 50,000-60,000 words I'm guessing.

I spoke with mom today and asked her questions about my childhood.  I enjoy asking mom questions.  She remembers some things and has forgotten about others.  Any memory that's too painful for her is blocked out.  I asked her about Sue Wilson, her friend from the 70s who had a very modern house on a hill that overlooked Bellingham Bay.  Sue's husband was Ken (?) and they had two kids, Brad and Dana.  Mom was always worried about Jill at Sue and Ken's house because there was a spiral staircase with chains as a railing, and mom was always worried Jill would tumble down and break her neck.  The house opened into the kitchen and had a living room in the back with a master bedroom that had no doors.  The partial wall had a fireplace between the living room and master bedroom.  In the clusters mom said I did go to preschool there.  The condo we lived in had three bedrooms with the middle room being dad's study (I'd forgotten that).  When mom wanted to separate the dining room and living room with two chairs in the middle, dad said, "That's a stupid arrangement."  Mom asked Uncle Steve to stand up for her.  The indian family who babysat us did so for around 6 months.  The family next to Bill and Ellie (twin girls with the turtle) had their dining table under the stairs.  We were in the clusters around 18 months.  Aug'67 to fall 69 or so.  Mason Street was the house we lived in in Bellingham over the summer of 68 or 69.  It was a furnished rental for college students.  There was a wooden chair with wide arms that said "fuck you" carved into it.  That really embarrassed mom.  When Grandma and Grandpa Petty were at the F Street house brininging over their china, mom was very angry at Grandpa for not taking care of Grandma and really laid into him.  Grandpa got very angry and pushed mom against a wall.  They left shortly after that.  I remember mom being upset that Grandma and Grandpa had left, while Gwen remembers mom kicking them out of the house.  Nana and Gramp visited with Rita and Bob earlier because of the problems with Grandma and Grandpa.  Mom does not remember fights she and dad had in the F Street house.  Gwen remembers dad pushing her down when she put herself between mom and dad.  Grandma and Grandpa Petty did not fight in front of the kids when mom was young, she said.  Mom said dad wasn't like how he eventually became before they were married.  He became much angrier and bitter later on.

It was a great conversation, the first of many I hope.  I like thinking about all these old memories.  It was a different era back then. 

Day 18

Thursday, January 31, 2013

I have about 3,500 words of Introducing Girls and a loose idea on how to structure the thing.  I like the interaction between Kelly and Wayne.  The primary characters will be Kelly, Annette, Jamal, Deena, and Clyde.  There may be one or two more.  I haven't decided yet.

In my research of 70s shows, I came across the Make a Wish opening that my sisters and I used to watch on Saturday mornings.