[Originally posted on my former blog, Michael Runs the Gamut]
A couple of weeks ago, a question was asked at the [now defunct] Fiction Writers and Editors Group at LinkedIn. It was simply, “What are you working on?” After I had responded, along with a hundred or so other writers, it occurred to me that my response would make a good blog post, so, here it is. Here is a list of all the projects I’m currently working on, along with some thoughts on things I need to find time for (but haven’t been able to so far).
I’m looking for an agent for one of my books, my second novel, a thriller called The Jagged Man. I sent out a round of queries for it late last year, and I’ve received some favorable rejections. A couple of the agents haven’t responded, and it’s been nearly three months now, so another round is going to go out as soon as I can finish researching a few more agents who I think would be good fits for it. I also entered it in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Contest [which died in 2015 — details here]. I submitted (what I think is) an excellent pitch for it, so I’m hoping it will at least make it into the second round of the contest [it didn’t].
I mentioned If a Butterfly in my last post. I’m doing some minor polishing on it, preparing to probably go indie with it. In its original form it was an overly-long mainstream novel. It’s now 240,000 words, edited down from 330K (but still too long for most agents to touch it). I describe it as being something like Six Degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon, but with a Monarch butterfly. (Basic Plot) During a Monarch’s migration, an astronaut on the ISS attempts to resist a charming Russian cosmonaut, a vacationing couple unknowingly drive into a hurricane, a rock deejay heads inexorably toward an on-the-air implosion, a woman with multiple personality disorder becomes lost in the Grand Canyon (and her primary alter hides from her rescuers because he thinks they are out to beat him up). The book is complex, and deals with a wide range of societal foibles. My plan is to separate the story into two sections, which is very do-able thanks to a logical breaking point midway, and publish it as two books.
At the same time, I’m working on the first draft of my third novel. It’s a mystery/thriller called The Hawthorn’s Sting. It’s about thirty-percent done, and should end up about 90,000 words. I would like to have the draft finished in the next three months. Depending on its state of readiness, I might also need to write and prepare a pitch for it before the Writers’ League of Texas’ Agents and Editors Conference near the end of June (although it’s more likely that I’ll still be pitching Jagged Man then.
Let’s stick with pitching for a second. I will also (possibly) be pitching another book at the same conference. My wife and I took a twenty-three day trip to England in 2010. We have a blog about that trip called Travels With Flio Widdix: How to Maintain Your Savings and Sanity Abroad. The site is underway, and will eventually be full of tips, tricks and hints about traveling, and will have lots of pictures. It’s about spending all that time together without killing each other, and is also a fish out of water story (different environment, driving on the “wrong” side of the road, etc.). We’re developing the site with the express intent of turning it into a book. June may be too early for Flio, because we haven’t built a readership for the blog yet, but I may pitch the idea to a few of the agents who specialize in non-fiction, and see if it floats. So, I need to prepare a pitch for it too.
[2021 Note: The Flio Widdix website is one of the now defunct sites that got hacked. It’s on hiatus at the moment, but will be revived at some point in the future.]
Also, I’m taking a Two-Year Novel Course at the Forward Motion writer’s website. We get a new assignment every Friday for two years. The first assignments were about making basic decisions about the plot, theme, and characters of a potential novel. The first year is geared toward preparing and writing the first draft of a novel, and the second year is about polishing, editing, and marketing. The course started in January, and we’ve now had nine assignments. It’s not my usual way of working, but I’m giving it a shot with the thought of being prepared for NaNoWriMo this November, ready with a complete plot outline for once (instead of just placing the seat of my pants in my writing chair). The book is going to be a crime/mystery novel about a murder committed in a small town. Everyone in town believes they know who did it, but the deceased was such a bad guy that everyone is protecting the person or persons they suspect.
I maintain two websites, my writing site, and my wife’s quilting site. I just took pictures the other day of a few quilts she’ll be submitting for entrance into this year’s International Quilt Festivals in Houston and Chicago. I need to edit and prepare them for her to send with her entry forms. I also have my writer’s Facebook page, my Twitter account, and my writer’s blog (the thing you’re reading now). I’m trying to build readership for all of them, but I’m finding it hard to devote enough time to handle so much social media adequately. When I focus on one of them, I let the others go. When I focus on all of them, I get behind on my writing. I still post at least once a week on both blogs, and at least twice a week on Twitter, but it hasn’t been easy.
I also have ideas for (and have done partial work on) two other novels and one short story. One of the novels is a massive, multi-book project that I’ve already written over 100,000 words on; and the other (still mostly in the research and idea stage) is going to be a revision of the Arthurian legend, setting it in modern New Orleans, Houston, and Las Vegas (Louisiana voodoo meets computer wizardry at Comdex). I honestly don’t know when either of them will get worked on, though.
In addition to all that, I have the usual chores. Running the occasional errand (groceries, banking, etc.). I help out a little with Minay’s aging mother, but she handles the vast majority of that. I do more basic things, mostly. Mowing season in Houston is going to arrive any day now, and there’s always trash and recycling, of course. When I retired, I also took over washing the dishes. I even vacuum upon occasion (yes — shocking, I know). Just regular stuff. Minay still does the cooking, though. That’s a task better left to the professionals. I can boil water, and make a mean grilled cheese sandwich, but I don’t multi-task in the kitchen very well. Full meals are beyond my skills. And, oh yes, I have to take a short break from my writing soon to do our taxes (lucky me!).
What are you working on?
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