Day 198

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Woke up at 4:45 and arrived at the gym at 5:10.  Brian showed up at 5:20 with a new racquet.  We played three games and I beat him three times, leaving him in a bad mood all morning long.  I beat him the first game 15-0.  The last two games were closer, but I pulled them out.  Brian is a phenomenal player, but this morning I had his number.  That's how good I felt this morning.

It is such a relief to have ZC in Sharon's hands.  Now I can move on to something new.

This morning I went to breakfast with Trey, who'd just returned from five weeks in Europe.  Trey is simply amazing to me.  He graduated with something like a 4.37 grade point average.  His class load was full of demanding math and science courses in preparation for his engineering studies at Cal Poly.  I know how difficult his class load was, yet he made it look easy.  We had a terrific two-hour breakfast at Lynn & Lou's.  He brought his laptop, so we spent a good hour talking about his trip through Denmark, Germany, France, Switzerland and Italy.  He traveled with two friends.  His pics were sweet!  It's a real joy hanging out with a high school grad I've known since the first day of his life.  That's been the magic of living so close to Richard and Lisa. 

After breakfast, I cleaned my apt. to Vivaldi and Handel. 

Chris and I were supposed to meet online at 4, but it's 4:40 and it looks like he's a no-show.  That means it's time for another episode of Midred Pierce.

Chris showed up at 5 and we brainstormed for an hour.  Good chat! 

Day 197

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Woke up at 5:30 and met Ruby at the gym for some racquetball.  We played three games.  I practiced my touch shots and different serves.  Robbie extended the end of the singles league for one more week, giving me time to practice the rough spots in my game.  I'd love to reclaim the club title this season!

Today, I signed with Sharon Belcastro of the Belcastro Agency. 

I see a bright, shining future with Sharon.  But first things first, like getting Zombie Cookies ready for submission.  I spent the rest of the day doing just that, reading ZC on my kindle, noting typos, errors, missing words and vague sentences.  Actually, there may have been only one or two sentences that I revised.  Last week's five-day revision session was solid.  Most of the issues were either resolved or contained.  I always appreciate that later on when I'm reading what I wrote the week before.  Too often, I leave the hard stuff for later.  All I was confronting last week was one issue after another that I hadn't bothered to deal with earlier.  Ugh!  Anyway, the book feels solid. 

I took a three-hour break while revising and went over to Richard and Lisa's for some pizza.  It was greating hanging out with them and Trey.  We always talk about the most interesting things.  We spent about twenty minutes reminiscing about our memories of 9/11.  Trey was 6 and doesn't remember much, but he does remember hanging out at my place watching TV.   What a time we've lived in world history, from the two-telephone household to iphones and the internet.  Amazing.

I finished up at 11:30 and called it a night.

Day 196

Monday, July 29, 2013

Woke up at 4, headed back to my place, hit the gym at 5 and played some singles with Glenn and Brian, who was back in action.  Brian is so tough.  We played to two games and he beat me both times, even though he hadn't played in over a month.  He hits the ball so hard. 

I was home at 7 and finished reading Evil Genes (very interesting book), then caught up on email for about two hours.  I know what my decision is regarding representation.  It's a no brainer.

Watched an hour of the Mildred Pierce HBO miniseries, which is far more faithful to the book than the original 1945 movie.  It's good so far.  Todd Haynes is such a great storyteller.

Going to bed early tonight, around 9.  After last week, I'm sluggish and tired.  A good night's sleep is just what I need.


Day 195

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Alice and I went to see the Impressionists today. 

Lovely day off writing.  Back at it tomorrow.


Day 194

Saturday, July 28, 2013

I spent today at Alice's reading two books, one I hadn't read in many years and one for my project with Chris.

How nice it is to read John Gardner again.  His insights are dead on much of the time.  "In my own experience, nothing is harder for the developing writer than overcoming his anxiety that he is fooling himself and cheating or embarrassing his family and friends."  That is so true.  And, "By the nature of his work it is important that one way or another the novelist learn to depend primarily on himself, not others, that he love without too much need and dependency, and look inward (or toward some private standard) for approval and support."  That is so insightful.

I remember the first time I read On Becoming a Novelist back in 1983, wondering how it was possible for any writer to write 12-15 hours per day.  I thought he was making that range up.  Now I see it's only because the human body doesn't function all that well when writing more hours per day.  I love how opinionated Gardner was and some of the underhanded digs he throws in about other writers.  It's odd to think this book was written before anyone had home computers. 

Empire of Illusion has some wonderful moments, but it seems unnecessarily long in spots.  I wonder about books that place the whole of our society into the category of spectacle and illusion, though I do see Hedges's point.  There are others ways to view modern society, however.  I'm halfway through the book, so perhaps I should hold my thoughts until I'm done.

Alice and I watched a movie downstairs:

It was slow in spots and predictable, but I loved the acting, loved the sincerity behind the story, loved the struggles these characters face.  Chris Pines and Elizabeth Banks are terrific together, and the kid steals the picture!  Alice liked it, and in the end, I did, too.

Today was a very satisfying day off writing. 

Day 193

Friday, July 26, 2013

Today is a very good day!  It's amazing how good today is.

I received an offer of representation this morning at 7:22 a.m. after submitting my full manuscript to an agent at 1:22 last night.  That's unreal.  I guess those revisions turned out okay. 

Here are the query numbers for Don't Eat the Zombie Cookies:

1 - Offer of representation
2 - Full manuscript requests
17 - Rejections
20 - Queries still out

I was planning to send another 70 queries out next week.  I'm so glad I don't have to do that. 

It took a little less than five months to write a middle grade novel from scratch and receive an offer of representation from a literary agent.  This blog has captured every day of that process.  I think that's cool.

Now it's time to do this:

  and this...

and this...

and, of course, this!

Life is good!

Day 192

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Up at 6, revisions from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., singles match with Harry (I won 15-6, 15-11), more revisions from 9 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.  14.5 hours of revisions.  Sent the full manuscript to an agent tonight.

I spent 54.5 hours revising ZC since Monday.  Wow, that's a lot of revising. 

I'm glad to have the latest revision behind me.  Now I can relax a little.

Day 191

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Up at 4:30, racquetball until 6, writing from 7-12, lunch with Heather at The Grove, more writing from 3-6, dinner with Alice and her family at Hong Kong Village No. 2, more writing from 8:30-10.  9.5 hours of revisions today.

Day 190

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Up at 6 a.m.  In bed at 11:30 p.m.  Nothing but revisions today, 16 hours in all.  Chapters 16-21.

Day 189

Monday, July 22, 2013

Up at 3:30.  Played Glenn this morning and beat him in a close match until the end, 15-12, 15-4.  Home at 7:30.

Revised from 8 a.m. until 10:30 p.m.  Chapters 1-16.  14.5 hours total.

Day 188

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I spent most of the day revising ZC and will revise around the clock for the next couple of days.  I received another full manuscript request, which is a relief.  I was beginning to worry. 

As it stands, chapters 1-10 are fine.  They need little if any work.  Chapters 11-15 need a healthy infusion of spy-training detail and a general refinement of language and syntax.  Chapters 16-20 are rough but shouldn't take more than five hours to tighten.  That leaves chapters 20-39.  Hmm.  Well, if I can revise them in such a way that the details are there and the layers are in place within a 48-hour period, I would be happy.  There might not be as much to my revisions as I believe, though I do think I'll need several more turns at this book before it's absolutely right.  At any rate, I'd like the full sent by Wednesday at noon at the latest. 

This morning, Alice I went for coffee at Irving & 9th, bought fruit and vegetables at the grocery, then headed home.  I wrote until 10, taking breaks to wash both cars, eating dinner and resting for 30 minutes.  Alice destroyed me in cribbage this morning.  Not cool.

Glenn and I play our singles match tomorrow.  It should be a good battle.  He's been playing very well lately!

Day 187

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Wrote for an hour (revising ZC) until Alice requested that we leave the foggy Sunset District for sun.  We headed to Menlo Park and walked a street fair, then hung out at Stanford Shopping Center (new Windows and Sony store that look a lot like Apple's iStore).  We came home around 3 and went to the library for videos.  We made a wonderful salad for dinner at 5 and watched a double-feature downstairs in the media center:  Ladies in Lavender at 8 and Grand Canyon Adventure:  River at Risk at 10.

Both Alice-friendly films were perfectly fine (LinL was directed by Charles Dance, one of my favorite English actors). 

After our double-feature, it was off to bed.

Day 186

Friday, July 19, 2013

Woke up at 5, played racquetball until 6:30, had breakfast, then wrote from 8-4.  Got ready for my match at 6 against Alex.

Still revising ZC before moving on to II.  Chapters 11-15 are weaker than I'd like.  All they need are a few more "spy-in-training" moments and some of the gadgets mentioned in the CIA Trickery book.  I'll go over chapters 20-40 this weekend and fit in the re-writes when I can.

I watched a couple of reality tv shows, TLC's Addicted and TLC's Sarah Palin's Alaska, which I didn't realize was produced by Mark Burnett.  I'm envisioning a 100,000-word novel for II, or around 400 pages.  An easy, entertaining read that's just edgy enough to be topical.  We'll see.  Reality shows take on a particular form that works very well in a show like Addicted, but not so well in a show like Sarah Palin's Alaska.  That show is horribly flat and ultimately very boring.  There's nothing boring about Addicted; however, it's very voyeuristic. 

Introducing Girls...I'd like to get that the entire revision on paper and get it out there so see if there's any interest.  Martin Martinez is such a tough sell, but maybe I should give that work a try, too.

The key to II's success is its structure.  I haven't quite figured it out yet and probably won't until a few set pieces are written.  The more prepare for it, the more I can't wait to get going on this interesting story.

Played Alex at 6 and beat him 15-4, 15-10.  Went over to Alice's after and had R&G Beef.  Fell asleep by 10.


Day 185

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Last revision on Don't Eat the Zombie Cookies before devoting all my energies on Intervention Island.  First 10 chapters are done.  30 chapters left.

Sent out more queries.  My totals are:

Partials - 1
Rejections - 10
Queries outstanding - 28

I watched Tales from the Script on Netflix during lunch.  Great!

I'm placing all my various writing projects in banker boxes.  Why didn't I do that earlier?

Talked to mom and Jill today between chapters.  One more day before the weekend.  Would like to put Zombie Cookies to rest by the weekend.

Day 184

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Forgot to set my alarm this morning, so up at 5:15, at the gym by 5:30, played until 7.  From 8-9:30 I caught up with chores and now I'm hitting things hard until 5:30.  I have my first singles match tonight with Mike C., then poker at Mark G's until midnight.  Busy day.

Revised my query and first chapter, so now I'm sending out ten new queries, bringing my total to 40.  I have 110 queries to send from my query pool.

Wrote until 5:30, played my match at 7, losing a tough one in 3 (Mike C. played great and I'm slowing down...ugh!).  Poker at Mark's from 8:30-midnight.  Won $23.

Day 183

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Aside from one agent who I have some history with, I've received only rejections from my query so far.  All form letters and all saying the same thing...not for them.

So I consulted one of my favorite resources to pick me up:

I bought this book for $.50 at a used book sale about 10 years ago.  I love it.  It's so full of great ideas and strategies.  This morning, I read chapter 15, "Handling Failure and Rejection."  It's about 14 pages long and has such great advice to keep me going.  What might have been a wasted day filled with anxiety and frustration turned into another exciting day marked by optimism and enthusiasm. 

One of my favorite lines is this one:  "I'm not judged by the number of times I fail but by the number of times I succeed.  And the number of times I succeed is in direct proportion to the number of times I can fail and keep trying."  That's so solid.

So is this:

1.  I never see failure as failure, but only as a learning experience.
2.  I never see failure as failure, but only as the negative feedback I need in order to change my direction.
3.  I never see failure as failure, but only as the opportunity to develop my sense of humor.
4.  I never see failure as failure, but only as the opportunity to practice my techniques and perfect my performance.
5.  I never see failure as failure, but only as the game I must play to win.

I especially like # 4.  Sending out query after query has really helped me nail that brief, difficult business document.

I spent a few hours in the afternoon revising my query and shortening chapter one.  The book is what it is.  Once all my queries are out and the novel is revised to my satisfaction, I'll finish writing Introducing Girls and get Intervention Island off the ground.

It's amazing how quickly 14 hours flies by when enthusiasm is fueling the work.


Day 182

Monday, July 15, 2013

Got up at 4, hit the gym from 5-7, ate my oatmeal, then wrote a few thousand words for two hours before reading my research books.  I spent most of the day with Evil Genes, a very interesting book that has given me ideas for Connie, one of the characters in Intervention Island.

There are three major characters in II:  the Star, the Creator and the Viewer, a brother and two sisters, Connie, Caroline and Carmen.

I was exhausted by 8:30, so I found this to watch on Netflix.  Very good and surprisingly poignant:

Day 181

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Continued reading Reality Bites Back and Lucky Me.  Also went to the SF Library and picked up a few more books.

Saw Philip Roth Unmasked on PBS.  This was a very enjoyable documentary about one of our greatest living writers.  I only own two Philip Roth books:  Portnoy's Complaint and The Plot Against America.  I need to read more!

Went to bed at 10.  I'm ready for a busy week of writing.

Day 180

Saturday, July 13, 2013

At Alice's reading two books as research material for Intervention Island:

Great sources, especially RBB.

Poor Sachi.  It's tough being the daughter of a famous movie star. 

Watched Oh, God on PBS with Alice.  Dated but fun.  Always well written.  George Burns is perfect and timeless as God!

Day 179

Friday, July 12, 2013

Up at 3, but fell back asleep at 5 and stayed that way until 8.  Felt the need to organize, so I created new space in my garage, preparing for the boxes I acquired from mom's house in Bellingham.  Still processing my road trip and mom's move to AZ.  There's a lot to write about.  Okay, an endless amount to write about.  Drinkers are the hardest working people I know.  Most drinkers I know are functional and extremely hardworking.  Movies rarely capture that, but it's so true.  Drinkers work very hard.  They have to in order to keep things afloat.  Drinkers love to engage.  They don't know it, but they live for the drama of little meaningless moments, which to them seem important at the time, but from my perspective sound like endless bickering over nothing.  And it's constant.  The tit-for-tat never ends.  Ever.  It simply stops with sleep, then starts all over again the next day.  Drinkers have absolutely no idea how difficult they are to be around for any length of time.  No idea whatsoever.  And it gets worse with age.  So much worse.  Especially after 45 and even more so after 60.  My head is still spinning.  I'm actually in the perfect state of mind to write Intervention Island.  Today, I've been playing around with the idea of Reality TV as a form of punishment by the producer who creates the show.  One reason why there is so much pain in the world is punishment feels so good to inflict upon those who deserve to be punished.  That feeling doesn't go away.  It can only be rounded up and placed in some sort of internal box labeled "dark side."  I've been pretty good at keeping that dark side disengaged, thank goodness, but drinkers will use every trick in the book to coax my dark side out.  It's part of the drinkers dance, the noise they need to stay lit up and active in their mad need for dysfunctional stimulation.  The best thing about being almost 50 is I've figured this out, I've figured out how to be with drinkers for extended periods of time without engaging in the chaos.  I simply don't engage at all.  I let them be, let them do, let them drink and say whatever they need to say.  Sometimes it's impossible not to slap their wrist, especially when they're in my face with a tone that sounds like my Dad 40 years ago, but beyond that, I'm keeping it together.  I can last a good four or five days, then it's time to go back to the safe, sane wonderful silence of my Bay Area paradise.  One thing that never gets talked about much is that America, in all its hardworking greatness, is a drinking country.  It explains a lot of the insanity out there, especially by drinkers over 60.  As I think about my writing and my stories, I see a great thematic thread connecting everything I write together, and yet, I wonder if anyone in NY will even notice what it is.  With the exception of Sam Stoloff, they didn't notice any of it in Julia Milan.  It didn't even register with them, even though Julia and her mom were doing that dance on every page.  That novel came from somewhere, as did every other novel and screenplay I've written.  The adult child in me is coming out to play, grounded, clear-eyed and ready to put on paper all that I've observed these past two weeks and all that I've observed these past 50 years.

Day 178

Thursday, July 12, 2013

Back to my routine.  How wonderful.  Got up at 4:30, hit the gym, wrote, organized, zoned from 7-4, picked up Alice at 4:50, had dinner, bed at 10. 

Wrote a review of Deliverance on Goodreads:

I was driving with my uncle through the California desert on my way to Arizona when we passed by a used bookstore in the middle of nowhere.  We stopped and looked through shelves upon shelves of old books for a good 30 minutes.  I was in search of something to add to my collection, something worth owning to remember the great road trip my uncle and I were on.  After 35 minutes, I finally found a hardback of this book with the dust jacket ripped and worn from decades of shelf-life.  There was no price inside, so I was charged $2.50 on July 6, 2013, half the original $5.95 back in 1970.  Like most of us, I'd seen the movie but had never read the book.  The film is iconic and deservedly so.  Burt Reynolds was never better, Jon Voight was in his prime, and Ned Beatty, bless his soul, would have brought Shakespeare to tears with his unforgettable pig squealing.  The good news is the book does not disappoint.  At all.  It's a guy's book from cover to cover, meaning it's all about guys doing guy things, joking, flexing and competing with nature--in this case a mighty river--and losing badly.  Written in first person and broken into five succinct chapters (Before, September 14-16, After), James Dickey nails so much about the way guys behave in just 278 pages.  And when I say nail, I mean Hemingway nail, right through to the very core of guy-think, which I'm guessing hasn't really changed much in the last few thousand years.  These men are normal, fearful, stupid, cocky, brave and ultimately survivors of the great dark force of universal indifference toward guys going down an untamed backwoods river in canoes.  They come out of their ordeal fully alive (save Drew), and so did I upon reaching the final page.  The beginning is a little too poetic for my taste (Dickey was a poet, after all), but once those two toothless goons (whose faces spun in many directions) appear, the entire novel takes on a cinematic efficiency that trumps poetic writing in favor of damn smooth storytelling.  The film faithfully captures what was always there in the novel.  It's a classic for a reason, banjo duelin' and all, and my newly acquired hardback of this classic 20th Century novel turned that quirky, out-of-the-way bookstore into a star moment on my wonderful four-day road trip with my dear uncle.

Day 177

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Flying home today at 2.  Should be back at 5.

This concludes the traveling portion of my summer.  Now it's time to get serious again.

Day 176

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Drove Chris to the airport this morning at 7:15 a.m.  Traffic wasn't too bad.  Back at mom's getting back into my regular routine.  I leave tomorrow at 2 p.m.  My duties are done here and I can't wait to start my new novel and a few side projects.  The ideas keep coming.

Spent the morning updating this blog and catching up in my journal.

Spent the afternoon helping mom and Craig sell Craig's mom's car on Craigslist.  That took a lot longer than I'd planned so we weren't able to see World War Z. 

Spent the evening watching three episodes of Episodes on Showtime.  Matt LaBlanc is the best thing in it!


Day 175

Monday, July 8, 2013

A few more queries out.

In case you were wondering...



Day 174

Sunday, July 7, 2013

About five queries out, but other than that, I won't get much writing done while I'm in Chandler.  We went to Costco today and hooked Craig up with a 50" Vizio TV.  Sweet machine!

Day 173

Saturday, July 6, 2013

No writing today.

Drove from Barstow, to Chandler, AZ.  We arrived around 6 and had a great steak dinner.  Wow!  What a great road trip with Chris.  We took a few side highways that were newly paved with few cars and breathtaking scenery.  Very nice. 


Day 172

Friday, July 5, 2013

No writing today.

Drove from Oakland to Barstow.  Had dinner on Route 66. 

Day 171

Thursday, July 4, 2013

No writing today.

Hung out with Alice and Chris.  Packed mom's Honda again for the second half of our trip to AZ tomorrow.  Watched a couple of Mad Men Season One episodes with Chris, who's never watched the series.  It's so magnificent on every level.  The writing is spectacular.  I admire this show as much as any show in television history.  It's simply brilliant in its subtext and storytelling mastery.  The acting is also superb.

Day 170

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

I continued my revisions from 5:45 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.  I sent the first half out at 12:45.  It's as good as I could make it.  Now I have to get the second half up to speed.

Chris, Rhonda and I went out to Cato's for lunch.  It was nice relaxing and having a good meal for an hour before driving to SF to pick up Alice.  Rhonda showed us pictures on her iphone and accidentally spilled her full pint of beer all over my pants.  I was soaked from belt to kneecaps.

Once we were home, I took a shower which made all the difference.  Chris and I drove to SF to pick up Alice at 4, then stayed the night at her house.  She had friends over and cooked for a small army.  That's the Wu way!  Great night, but once I hit the pillow I was out.

Day 169

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Victoria Marini requested half the Zombie Cookies novel, so I spent the entire day revising chapters 8-17.  From 8 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. (with breaks here and there since Chris was with me), I revised like a possessed maniac on all sorts of wicked speed-inducing potions.  It was brutal.  I incorporated several fabulous comments and edits from my readers.  Some of the weaker scenes and lines are a lot better, thanks to them!  I did what I could and certainly felt the pressure of getting things just right.  In a way, the novel was specifically written for this moment with Victoria.  If she takes it on, I'm set.  She's a very hard worker and extremely talented.  If she doesn't take it on, it's back to rolling the dice and hoping I land an agent who's as insightful and industrious and Victoria is.  Fingers crossed!

Day 168

Monday, July 1, 2013

No writing today.

We drove from Grants Pass to Oakland.  Arrived at 3:30.  The road trip was terrific!  Halfway to Chandler, but not before a few days of R&R in Oakland and SF.


Day 167

Sunday, June 30, 2013

No writing today.

Chris and I drove from Bellingham to Grants Pass, Oregon.  It was an easy, terrific drive.  Lots of brainstorming and great conversation. 

We stopped at Gwen's for a quick breakfast and checked out the new old house.

Gwen and Chris in Gwen's new living room

1950s living room...I'll be home with Perry Como for Christmas!
Great back yard!
Greg's amazing new work space
We briefly visited Nicole and Mathew, who were heading up to mom's to finish removing all the heavy furniture out of the B'ham house.

Rockstar Nephew Mathew and Magnificent Niece Nicole

Who IS prettier, me or my sister?

We stayed at a great place in Grants Pass.  Excellent driving day.