Strange Weather

It's forty-five degrees in Boise today with gray, Edgar Allen Poe skies and high winds. I'd let the cat outside but I'm afraid he might fly off and fight crime or something.

I've promised to talk about how I got started in writing so here's the short version:

When I was a kid I wrote little novellas about the adventures of A.L.F. and ninjas and so on. In middle school I wrote a short story titled "Deadly Forces" about a guy named Axel Gibson fighting his way through a haunted castle and when I read it aloud to my grammar class all my hyperactive classmates fell quiet and paid attention to me, even after the bell rang. I decided I might be on to something here.

When I was fifteen I wrote my first novel, a 400 pg. pounder called The Nebula Quest. It started off as a short story written out of boredom and just kept going. It's still the longest novel I've ever written.

I went to college for English, grad school for Writing. I tried to pay attention in class and wrote dozens of weird short stories and received much teaching assistance along the way. My fourth novel landed me a literary agent. Titled Knocking Over the Fishbowl we still hope to get it published someday. I found my agent through Jeff Herman's Guide to Literary Agents and Publishers, or whatever it's called now. I submitted thirty queries, using the guidelines provided by each agent in the guide, and was rejected by 29 agents. Two months after the final rejection, an agent at Curtis Brown e-mailed me to say he was interested in looking at Fishbowl. I hadn't sent a query letter to him personally; the agent I'd sent it to had left the agency and this unknown agent (Jonathan Lyons) fished it out of his query pile. He didn't take it immediately, but after I got desperate and rewrote the whole thing he was nice enough to read it a second time (almost unheard of these days) and finally accepted me as a client. Then we had a party. Obviously, luck played a huge role in landing an agent. I'd also like to state that it took me a long, long time and probably 400,000 words to decide my stuff was good enough to be sent out, and even after all that when I look back at my old stuff now I cringe. And I still haven't been published in any journals or magazines, though I've tried.

It was my fifth novel The Suicide Collectors which finally sold last summer to St. Martin's Press. This was after almost three years of rejections, one massive rewrite, and one very near (and thus heartbreaking) sale to Harper Collins.

I'm currently working on a novel titled Wormwood, Nevada, which has also sold to St. Martin's Press. It's my seventh novel (my sixth is collecting dust for the foreseeable future).

So, yeah. Fun times.


Ken McConnell said...

Thanks Dave! Very interesting personal history. I wrote some stories when I was a teenager and tried to get published then but what I wrote was crap.

Then I studied Film in college and wrote some screenplays. Nothing I pitched to agents at the time was liked enough to buy. I did some independent films as an Assistant Cameraman and then joined the AF during the Clinton years.

While in the military I decided to make use of my deployed to the desert time and wrote my first novel. It's out there as a POD book but is in need of a good rewrite.

Just last year I decided to try and sell my SF shorts. I wrote about ten stories in four months and managed to sell two. They will both be out within the next few months, one on the web and the other in print as part of an anthology.

I've written a mystery novel based on my experiences in the IT field and I'm working on my third novel at this time. This year I will be focusing on getting an agent. Which is why I was curious about your story.

Thanks for sharing and I will be linking to you from my blog today.

Missy said...

I am so proud of you! and I am not alone...the voices in my head, Todd and Ginger are all proud of you too!

Michelle said...

Someday this story will be one of those snippets on Garrison Keillor's The Writer's Almanac.

You go, Dave! (You went, actually.)

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