February 15, 2017, 9:21 pm
I heard back from another of the beta readers on Father of Malice today. His exact words:
You are a sick fuck! I am loving this book! Great job!
He isn't done with the book yet, but he's clearly enjoying it, so I'm happy.
February 14, 2017, 9:21 pm
I love to write, but I do not at all enjoy writing query letters, which are the thing authors have to write to attract the attention of agents.
Tonight, I wrote one to my swing-for-the-fences agent—the guy I've always wanted to query but haven't because I didn't feel the previous letters or works were up to snuff.
But even though I wrote the entire novel, Father of Malice, in two weeks (90,000 words), I took that long to write the query letter, which is only around 200 words, because I wanted it to be perfect.
I could sit and nitpick it apart for the next year, and I would probably find something else to change after a year and a day, so tonight, I just sucked it up and sent it to him.
I haven't sent this letter to other agents. If this guy rejects me, I will, but everything about him and his representation is attractive to me, so I'm going to sit on the letter until I hear from him one way or another. Even if he rejects my query.
So wish me luck.
February 12, 2017, 8:20 pm
I live kind of close to a lake. Like, it's a two-minute drive.
This weekend, we took the kids out there because it's been dry here for a long time and the lake is really low, so you can walk around and crunch the mussel shells with your boots—it's a deceptively satisfying thing to do, even for my vegan wife.
And the kids love it.
As the kids are running all over the place, splashing with the dogs in the water, I notice a shiny object in the sand, and like a squirrel, I'm immediately drawn to it. So as I approach it, it becomes clear that the object is a pistol. At first, I think it's a toy pistol, but as I get closer, it's clearly a real pistol.
I need to reiterate here that for most of the year, water is covering the part of the lake that we were walking on. So someone has thrown this pistol into the lake.
There aren't many non-criminal reasons for someone to throw a pistol in the lake, so I grab the pistol and call the cops. Before I can finish my conversation with the dispatcher, game wardens show up and I ask the dispatcher if I can just give the gun to them. They agree, so I do.
Turns out, the pistol is a six-hundred-dollar model. Stainless steel and all.
And, by the way, it's loaded.
So the cops are going to run checks on it and ballistics on it, and if it's been used in a crime, they'll keep it as evidence. If they can't find that it's linked to a crime, I'll get it back, at which point I will frame it, because even if they can't link it to a crime, it totally was used in a crime. I mean, why else would someone throw a very expensive pistol in the lake? It's not like it was in a deep part of the lake, so it didn't drop out of a boat, someone stood on the shore and threw it in.
I'll keep you posted as this story possibly develops, because I'd love to think I discovered a murder weapon.
February 10, 2017, 9:09 am
I live in Oklahoma. Yesterday, our governor, Mary Fallin, announced a plan to make up some of the nearly 900-billion-dollar deficit the state faces after incredibly low income tax revenues caused a budget crisis.
So what was her solution? Start imposing sales tax on services statewide.
Services are simple things, like someone tattooing you. Or giving legal advice. Or preparing your taxes. Or painting your house. Or cleaning said house.
Generally, service workers are among the lowest-paid people in our economy. But Fallin wants to force them to increase their prices, not for their benefit, but to make up the gigantic deficit her policies have created—policies such as enormous income tax cuts for wealthy taxpayers and large corporations.
Because, see, the whole idea was if you cut taxes on the rich, they were supposed to in turn make lots of jobs and the entire economy would go through the roof because the rich were no longer paying taxes and had all this money to throw around like a rapper at a strip club.
The only problem is, it never happened. Turns out, rich people like to hang onto their money, which is how they got rich in the first place. Instead of spreading the wealth around, they just kept getting richer—and I don't blame them for that. It's smart on their part.
But now, instead of realizing that she and her cronies in the state house were wrong and reversing the very tax cuts that have caused this gargantuan deficit, Fallin's proposal is to get the money from the poorest people in the state. That's right. Can't go back and tax the rich and huge corporations. Instead, let's increase everyone's cost of living by five percent. Utility rates? Going up by five percent. Funerals? Add five percent. Every service you can think of, under her plan, will increase by five percent, just so Fallin doesn't have to raise taxes on the rich people who got her elected.
This is, starkly, the profound and utter failure of supply-side economics. It does not work. If you stop taxing the rich, the only thing that happens is the government has less money to operate, and it ends up hurting the middle class and the poor. Right now, Oklahoma's schools are all slashing budgets left and right because there's not enough money to run them. Our oldest son's school is only in session four days a week. Other schools have closed altogether.
Because supply-side economics doesn't work. This was what I said when they started implementing it here a decade ago, and now I have been proven right.
Fallin and her Republican cronies control the entire state government. They have no one to blame for this but themselves and their clearly failed policies.
It's time for someone to stand up and say: We let you try this out. It did not work. Time to admit that and reverse the tax breaks for the wealthiest Oklahomans and the huge corporations so the burden of your failure doesn't AGAIN fall upon the already overburdened middle class and poor.
Will that happen? No.
February 10, 2017, 7:07 am
That's my son, Axl, and he's the sweetest boy who has ever lived on this planet. He loves animals more than anything in the world, and every time I eat meat, he goes, "what kind of animal is that, Daddy?" When I tell him, he invariably goes "Gross."
The corndog you see in that picture is a vegan corndog made by Morningstar Farms.
I said all that to say this: The sweetest boy ever still thinks wieners are funny, and he can't help but think it's funny to make his corndog look like a wiener.
I guess it's a guy thing. Our 14-year-old still draws dongs in the dust on my pickup truck. Well, he did until I drew inside one of them his name, followed by a heart, and then picked him up at school in the truck.
Let's face it: wee wees are funny. Well, at least to half the population.
February 8, 2017, 8:20 pm
Funny thing about writing a novel in two weeks: you miss out on your shows.
Speaking of which, have you watched the new MacGyver series? If you love empty calories, this show is right along the lines of Burn Notice. It's goofy, completely unbelievable, most likely scientifically inaccurate, with weak dialog, floppy plot lines and paper-thin characters.
And I love every second of it.
When your brain is tired, sometimes you just want to lean back in your office chair, pull up iTunes and gulp down some metaphorical carbs. That's what I'm doing this very moment. I happen to know some of the science is ganky, because I may or may not have been a science geek at some point, but that doesn't bother me. For all its flaws, this show is FUN, just like its predecessor.
Do yourself a favor. Watch it.
February 6, 2017, 8:08 am
My mother is the reason I ever read Stephen King; she was a huge fan of his from the time his first book, Carrie, came out.
Mom is a brand loyalist, too, meaning once she latches onto something, that's the thing she loves, no matter what, and it never changes, as far as I can tell.
So I sent Father of Malice to her, simply because she's a tough critic of anything I do, and always has been. A lot of people can argue whether that's denigrating to children or pushing them to succeed. I have no idea, but I do know my mother has always been quick to point out the flaws in whatever I'm doing.
Which makes this text message from her utterly shocking:
This is the most frightening book I have ever read, including Stephen King's books.
I generally receive and respond to text messages in the Messages app on my Mac instead of looking at them on my phone, so as I was sitting at my desk and received that message, my jaw literally dropped.
Father of Malice is my first straight-up horror novel, so it was amazing that she had that reaction. I wrote the thing in two weeks (in case you haven't read every other post I've made in the last several weeks), so I expected some harsh criticism to come down from, like I said, my most intense critic. Instead, she later texted this:
I'm almost too scared to read the end.
This book is so freaking awesome!! ... It was meant to be! I always knew your brain was weird, but you have used that bizarre imagination to create a scary book that forces people to think!
Again, jaw-dropping. Of course, it wasn't all praise; she complained about having to read about a cleaning lady at a motel who ultimately ends up having no part in the plot and about a couple of typos that were introduced through autocorrect on my phone. But as far as the actual novel goes, she really loved it and said it terrified her, which are two things I was going for. Several other "beta" readers are looking at it now, so we'll see if they share her opinion.
Next step is sending query letters out to agents, which is so far outside my wheelhouse I'm actually having to spend more time thinking about that than I did the novel itself.
January 31, 2017, 6:18 pm
After a two-week marathon of 5,000 to 6,000 word days, I'm proud to announce that I have finished writing Father of Malice, what I believe to be my best novel yet.
To repeat the plot synopsis:
A snarky big-city newspaper editor gets fired and finds himself having to move to small-town America to get another job. Once there, his new paper discovers a strange cult outside town that worships a mysterious, emaciated man who seems to pop up in whispered tales of horror throughout history.
I initially worried that, by getting caught up in an effort to write a complete novel in half a month, quality of the work would suffer, but going back through it, I can honestly say I'm pleasantly surprised.
I wrapped it all up at 6:13 p.m. tonight.
In this instance, being trapped by being able to only write 80,000 words on the story (I fudged a bit; the final tally is 84,241), I had to actually leave some things out that I wanted to put in. In some previous works, I sometimes struggled to reach the word count and had to really concentrate to not pad it out with nonsense. But in this case, everything just needed to be exactly as long as it was, and though I had to leave some important tangents out, I ended up loving the way it all came together.
So I'll stop talking about it now. I'm sure anyone who reads all the entries below will be glad to hear it's over; I'm done talking about Father of Malice for now.
After all, Robby the R-Word is coming out in May. Concentrate on that for now.
January 31, 2017, 12:00 am
I really want to be done writing Father of Malice before the end of January, which will happen later today. My reason is entirely selfish and stupid: I want to have written a complete novel in two weeks, because I think that would be pretty cool, especially since I've been carrying on my normal routine while doing it, including doing my regular work, playing with the kids, watching TV with the wife, tearing down barns and talking smack to the dogs.
I now have 80,000 words written, which is the typical novel length (and 3,000 more words than are in Robby the R-Word), but the story isn't done yet. It's getting there, but there are a lot of loose threads to tie together before we can get to the knot at the end.
Can I do that in the 5,000 words I can write in the next 24 hours? I'm going to do my dead level best. I wrote around 6,000 words today, so maybe. It doesn't really seem like I've been writing this much, so maybe that means the story is compelling. I feel like there is so much I could put in this story, but publishers tend to frown at really long novels from newish authors, because long novels cost more money to publish.
So I won't add everything I want to add, but there is enough in there to keep it interesting, I think. I hope.
UPDATE: I just did the math, and I've written 30,000 words in the last five days (I was at 50,000 on Jan. 25, five days ago), which means my average is 6,000 words per day over the last five days. That's THREE TIMES my usual output. And the best part is it doesn't feel like I'm writing that many. I'm not doing that at one sitting. The rhythm I've settled into is I'll write some in the morning, then in the evening, when I'm watching TV, I'll write some more, and after the kids have gone to bed, I'll write a little more. Rinse, repeat.
January 30, 2017, 12:00 am
I've never heard of someone writing a novel in two weeks.
It's probably happened, but I've never heard of it.
Father of Malice HAD to be told. Try as I might, it was all I could think of, the only thing I have wanted to do for the past two weeks.
I believe it is, without reservation, the best book I've ever written, and I'm including the 100-plus books I ghost wrote when I was a ghost writer. I'm still a little way from the end, but strictly relying on word count, I have an entire novel of words racked up, so I'm stoked about it. Let's say I had a deadline and I had to turn in a novel tomorrow. I could wrap it up (unsatisfyingly, but still complete) tomorrow.
Though the concept for Father of Malice has existed in my head for at least a year and I started writing on it several times, the truth is, the first word on that novel was written Jan. 14. That means 15 days later, I have written enough words to complete the entire novel (assuming I would leave it at 74,000).
I know. That's exactly the same thing I said before. But I'm really, REALLY shocked at how quickly this novel has been written. If I could keep up that pace, I would be a BEAST at writing novels. Maybe now that I've unlocked the secret of making that happen, I will, but as of now, I'm just happy to see the end at the light of the tunnel (yeah, I know that phrase is supposed to be another way), and I can actually see this wrapping up before January is complete.
I don't care what happens after this, I will always brag that I completed a novel in two weeks. A novel I believe is the best thing I've ever written.
January 29, 2017, 8:08 am
I was talking to a rather famous minister about co-writing a book detailing the very public struggle he had when Christianity turned its back on him, so I started googling myself to see what he would see if he also googled me. Spoiler: I should delete this entire site, according to my wife, but I countered back that this site shows who I am, and if people get here and don't like it, that's fine, because they don't want me if they can't handle the fact that I sometimes cuss and say offensive things.
A guy can still be a Christian and do all those things, and I can prove it in the Bible. But that's an entry for another day.
In the course of googling myself (I rarely google; I use Duck Duck Go instead, but I switch to google sometimes to see what other people are seeing), I found that Promontory Press, the publisher for Robby the R-Word, had posted the picture of me that was supposed to be used on the back of the book:
So I thought, that's new. So I went to the page it was linked from, and behold, they had an author page up on me, and from that author page, they linked to a book page about Robby the R-Word, which isn't due out until spring. And it has a new summary of the book on it, which I also like.
And then, going back to the google search, I saw this:
Because I am the author of a true crime book where a polygamist minister actually did murder one of his wives, I thought briefly that some weirdo had put this together as a commentary on my book or me, or something else that only made sense in the weirdo's mind. Turns out there's just a web comic called "The comic adventures of Left and Right," about a thing that faces left and another thing that faces right. And in this one panel, the dude just stumbled upon my name. Weird, right?
Anyway, if you're the minister I was talking about and you ended up on this page, don't worry about the stuff here. I can still write a respectful book that will tell your story, because I believe in it and I think it's a story that deserves to be told, that will benefit everyone. And that is one of the few times on this page you will see me being completely serious and not sarcastic at all.