Argh—So Much Editing

“I’ve got to admit it’s getting better, a little better all the time.”

Every time I finish a round of editing on my novel manuscript I think something along the lines of, “Cripes, it’s so much better now.” This has happened about fifteen or sixteen times and it makes me afraid of how crappy the first drafts must have been. Continue reading

Check-in Post, 12/27/14

Now that you’ve had a full two minutes to marvel at the awesome title of this post—

With weddings to go to on the opposite side of California, holidays with family, a two-week cold, and planning for upcoming travels, I haven’t made much time to post on this blog or work on my novel in recent weeks. Here’s a brief update:

Traveling Again

Ray Romano and Patricia Heaton - Ray and Debra Barone in ItalyAs I’ll be going back to certain countries in Europe and Asia soon, I wanted to do some A.D.M. Was Here posts about my past trips before setting out again. That’s not going to happen, but I might write those posts while I’m revisiting those locations (I do like going to cafes in different countries and doing work there—feels a bit more like you live there, doing regular stuff while also taking in the local ambiance).

Coincidentally, as I sat down to write this, I chose a random season of Everybody Loves Raymond on Netflix and ended up with the episode where the Barones go to Italy (where I should be soon).

State of the Novel

I’m about 20,000 words into the second book of my series right now, and I’m currently waiting on some beta reader feedback before I go back and edit my first book yet again. Then, I’ll send out another batch of queries to potential agents. Hopefully, I can get some of this done on my many impending train rides, and also do some more research for indie publishing.

A Superhero, the Post-apocalypse, and World Domination

Infamous 2 - Cole MacGrath - Sucker PunchWhile sitting at home to nurse my cold, I’ve been going through a backlog of PS3 games I never finished, including Infamous 2 by Sucker Punch and Enslaved: Odyssey to the West by Ninja Theory. On top of that, I’ve been playing hours upon hours of Sid Meier’s Civilization V on the PC.

Infamous 2 has some questionable character designs and the story kind of fizzles out at the end (no matter which ending you go with), but the game is enjoyable. Enslaved is also fun, though the story isn’t as intriguing as reviews led me to believe (but it was compelling enough through the majority of the game), and there are a few glitches here and there (none of which are game-breaking, so it’s fine). Finally, judging from the many hours I’ve spent on Civilization V, it’s fairly safe to conclude that I think the Sid Meier game is worthwhile.

And, so it begins – Agent Query Time

The path to publication: write, write, write, research, research, research, edit, edit, edit, query, query, query, and then you cry.

Peter Parker Crying Meme Sends Agent Query Misspells Agent's NameWell, I’m currently on that first “query,” so I have some time yet before I’m scheduled to shed my special writer tears. Against the advice of one “Mr. Lardo,” I went ahead and sent out a batch of queries at the end of the week as opposed to early Monday morning. I expect I’ll be sending out many more queries, so a few poorly timed ones can’t hurt too much, can it? CAN IT?!

Wish me luck, jerks (and non-jerks).

-A.D. Martin

Pitching the Novel – Agent Query Draft #7; Synopsis Draft #4; Manuscript Draft #8

The POTUS and Ms. Maroney are not impressed with your pitch.

The POTUS and Ms. Maroney are not impressed with your pitch. Photo by Pete Souza.

I’ve been re-drafting and cleaning up my query, synopsis, and novel quite a bit in preparation to pitch my book.

With my first writers’ conference coming up next month, I want to focus on improving all my pitch materials to get some feedback from fellow writers and other folks in the industry. My stuff needs to be awesome before mid-September (or at least awesome-ish).

Over the last month or so, I’ve made a few observations which taught me (or reinforced) the following lessons:

1. You cannot write a good query without first having written a proper synopsis.

Alright, maybe you can, but it’s very unlikely. I found that after revising my book numerous times and writing multiple synopses for it, I was much better able to condense the more-interesting bits of my novel into the form of an agent query.

If you can’t condense your work into two pages and make it sound interesting, how can you possibly condense it into half a page?

If I may say so myself, my current query is many times superior to my original. I’m not surprised the six agents I queried sent me rejections (yeah, I only sent queries to six agents; that was about a month and a half ago). Well, four of them sent rejections, the other two just ignored me altogether.

2. Your work will never be good enough for you.

Every time you read through your manuscript, query, or synopsis, you will inevitably spot a bunch of things to be improved.

However, this doesn’t mean you should just say “@#$% it” and submit it to agents as is. It means you should revise repeatedly for a “reasonable” amount of time until things are very solid (maybe draft 7 of the query, draft 4 of the synopsis, and draft 8 of the manuscript), but don’t wait until you think it’s perfect.

There is no perfect (unless you’re somewhat delusional). Continue reading

Major Influences #1: Old School TV

Old School TV Influences, TMNT, Voltron, Transformers, Power Rangers, The Simpsons, Married with ChildrenThis will be the first in a series of posts about fiction which influenced me as a writer and a person. Though I’m trying to find success as a novelist, it’s probably television that impacted me the most. My TV was my live-in nanny.

The shows in the image above are some of the more prominent television series I watched as a kid. Four of them include a whole lot of no-blood violence (Teenage Mutant Ninja TurtlesVoltron: Defenders of the UniverseTransformers, and Power Rangers). These shows had moral lessons here and there, probably at least one per episode, but they’re mostly about beating up bad guys. Watching these shows, I started my life long love of self-righteous violence.

Then, we have two infamous Fox shows, The Simpsons and Married… with Children.

Yes, I watched Married… with Children as a kid (it’s not all that crazy, considering the role Family Guy has in today’s society; then again, it probably paved the way for Seth MacFarlane). The main reason I started watching Al Bundy’s Continue reading

Writing Under a Pseudonym

Pseudonym, pen name, nom de plume, literary double—whatever you you call it, there are many reasons for using an alternate name when you publish your writing. A few big reasons are to reserve your real name for other works, maintain some level of privacy, general marketability, and to have a fresh start (for established writers as well as fledgling writers).

Reserving your Real Name

Photograph by Edward Liu, distributed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Photograph of Stan Lee by Edward Liu, distributed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Stan Lee is probably the biggest name in comic books. He co-created Spider-man, the X-Men, and many more beloved comic book characters. The relatively recent success of Marvel movies made him more of a household name and exposed his sunglasses-wearing face to countless moviegoers through numerous cameo appearances. Anyway, I bring up Mr. Lee because “Stan Lee” started out as a pen name. Born Stanley Martin Lieber, the comic book legend created the pseudonym of Stan Lee because he wanted to use his real name for more serious, literary work (as opposed to comics). After immense success as a comic book writer, Lee eventually legally changed his name to match his pen name.


Some folks simply want to be able to go about their lives without being tightly tied to their pen name and its related works. Most authors don’t have a problem with people recognizing their face in public, though sometimes their ID or credit card might give away their identity when they’re out and about (e.g., bouncer in front of a club checking your age, or paying with plastic).  A pseudonym would solve this problem. However, when you’re super-famous (i.e., your work spawns hugely successful film adaptations) like J.K. Rowling or George R.R. Martin, people might recognize you on sight; paparazzi even start following you around. Your pen name won’t help much at that point.

Of course, many of us would gladly trade away some privacy for such success. Continue reading

Agent Query Critiques; Get Your Kyratique

Accueil Scribe Public Domain ImageKyra Nelson has read a sizeable amount of agent query letters from hopeful authors over her one-and-a-half years of interning for a literary agency (where she still works). She started her blog, Thoughts From the Agent Desk not long ago, on which she posts critiques on queries that are sent to her for public feedback.

I’ve read most of Kyra’s critiques and I think she provides rather useful information. This type of feedback is invaluable for novelists seeking representation. Really, when it comes to your query and manuscript, I think the general rule is: the more feedback, the better.

If you’re looking for help on your query letter, I’d suggest you: (1) draft a query letter and clean it up; (2) read Kyra’s previous critiques and apply what you learn to your current query; (3) then submit your query to Kyra for a critique; and (4) then find even more people to critique your query.

Note: Kyra is particularly into superheroes; do with that what you will.

Anyway, I’ve got some heavy editing of my manuscript to do before I draft my awesome query. Good times.

First Post: Working on Draft Six of the Novel

Accueil Scribe Public Domain ImageHello to people with too much time on their hands and other random folks.

While scouring the internet for advice on finding a literary agent and becoming published, I’ve heard it might be a good idea to establish some sort of social media presence on twitter, facebook, blogs, and the like even before securing an agent.  So, here I am.

I’m working on draft six of my novel right now at a Barnes and Noble.  My novel currently weighs in at 75,343 words; it’s been fluctuating around 80,000 words since I finished draft one however many months ago.  To start draft six, I’m ripping apart chapter one and pasting it back together to try to make the book more compelling from the get-go.

On this edit run, I also plan to make the two protagonists’ story arcs more cohesive.  After some feedback from a fellow writer who read over my agent query, I did some brainstorming and came up with a few things to add to the plot that will, hopefully, tie the protagonists closer together.