Saturday, December 24, 2011

Book #3

I wonder how real writers\authors do it. How do they write books?
I'm guessing that they are much more efficient than I. They probably use something fancy like an outline or something. They probably go into it with some idea of the structure. I'm betting that they know what their book is going to look like long before they type the first sentence.
I have a very loose idea of the general look and feel that I'm aiming for when I start a book, but I don't even come close it with the final product. For instance, Roadie started in my head as a 25-volume set of humorous encyclopedias on the topic of bike racing but ended up as a thick pamphlet.
Book #2 (as yet untitled) started as a humorous "War and Peace" for kids. A 752-page romp through the cycling world through the eyes of a 14-year-old. But somehow 750-pages is a little ambitious for a romp, so I scaled it back to about the size of a thick pamphlet.
I was a little more realistic when i sat down to write Book #3. It began as a thick pamphlet which I stretched out (by enlarging the font) to something more hefty, about as thick as a Nikon owner's manual.
Stay tuned. It's a good one.
The process I use is probably wrong. I just write. And when I get to a certain number of words, say 60,000, I look at what I have and decide if that's long enough. If not, I keep going. When I reach a comfortable number of words, then I go back through and cut out everything that doesn't sound right. It's a lot easier than you might think.
Oh sure, I jot down some notes. I have certain points that I need to hit, but otherwise, it's just a challenge to see how many words I can get into a single Word document. Then cut some out.
Book #2 was a narrative story, so I should have had some idea of where it was going. I didn't, but I should have. We'll see if the publisher notices.
Book #3 is more like Roadie, a collection of humorous lessons, thoughts, and anecdotes on the topic of relationships.
Yep, you read that right.
It's short by design. I stopped writing when I reached 20,000 words (approx. 80 pages) and then trimmed it back to about 19,500. Amazingly, I could only find 500 words that didn't sound right.
If you notice the books in the humor section of your local bookshop (if it hasn't been boarded up by now), you'll see that they're pretty small. Many of them are the size of a Nikon owner's manual. Mine will fit right in.
Now while I'm sitting on pins and needles waiting to hear from VeloPress regarding Book #2, I'm beginning an even tougher process of finding a publisher for #3.
Stay tuned. Should be a fun 2012.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Book #2

When I sat down and wrote Roadie, I had no plans to become a writer; I still wanted to be an astronaut or a game show host. I only wrote it to see if it could be done. Seriously. I didn't look any further than getting it on store shelves. But then it did well. It won the Michigan Notable Book award in 2009. It sold. Suddenly, I found my calling.
So, what next?
I had a couple of conversations with the people at VeloPress about what the next project should be. I suggested a cycling-related book that they had no interest in. Apparently, a romantic comedy western wasn't on their radar. Instead, they wanted a book aimed at younger readers. The 'tweeners'. Apparently, there's a shortage of sports books for that age group. Supernatural vampire ghost romance novels?? Plenty. Sports? Not as much.
On top of that, VeloPress has had a difficult time cracking the young reader market. It's a hard audience to write for, but a lucrative market to tap into.
I, as I tried to warn them, know absolutely nothing about the 'tweener demographic. Zero. I'm not even sure if I'm spelling it correctly.
This, then, is a match made in heaven. Together, we'll go far.
So I set off to write a fictional story. Starting with a very daunting blank page, I had to develop a story line, create characters, develop a conflict, add a subplot, tie it up nicely, and make it reach an audience I know nothing about. The only thing I had in my favor was that it would be centered around the sport of bike racing. That's it.
I submitted a very weak first draft, and received three pages of notes from the publisher. I took it back and changed everything but the font.
I just completed it on Monday. Sent it to VeloPress, and am now waiting to hear if they're going to buy it or pass on it. No guarantees. It might end up in a dumpster somewhere.
Let me give you a TV Guide-style hint of the story line: a kid who lives for football discovers bike racing by accident and becomes hooked by the end of the book. There are no supernatural occurrences, no vampires, and no pirates.
Now, let me share a little about the writing process (in case I'm never asked to speak at a book signing). I went on long bike rides without my iPod. That's the secret to uninhibited creative thought. When I listen to music, I get distracted. When I don't, I can think much more clearly. As such, I do my best thinking on the bike - constantly dumping ideas into my voice recorder app.
The creativity ebbs and flows. I went through periods in which I couldn't stand to look at it. And I went through periods where I couldn't type fast enough.
We'll see how it goes.
While I'm waiting, I'm working on Book #3. It has nothing to do with cycling. It's a humor book on relationships.
You see, I'm a bit of en expert ...... on humorous relationships.