I Am Not a Unique and Beautiful Snowflake (About writers for writers)

This is repub and modest edit of a post made April, 2011. I still think this is true.

 

I just read another “Why Do I Write?” article. This one was in Publisher’s Weekly by an author I don’t know, but she’s more successful than I am. She’s published in PW, and that is more than I can say. I see these articles frequently; I’ve even written a couple, and the content is the same, no matter who the author is.

Here’s my problem with “Why I Write” articles: They usually boil down to the author making three distinct points, and two of them aren’t true. Rather than attack other writers, I’ll pick apart my own Why I Write pieces, not anyone else’s.  Still, if you’ve ever done one of these – and if you write, you probably have – step back from yourself and take a long, hard look at it.  Every one of these pieces is exactly like masturbating in public.  It felt good at the time, but now you are ashamed.   Or should be.

editing-stop

Point 1: I love reading and writing. This one is true. And to this, I say, “Duh.”

It’s a given. It’s like a pitcher saying he loves baseball. Write, edit, tweak and rewrite. It’s hard, often thankless work and hard work does not mean you are good. Rejection by publishers and agents is a brutal constant, yet writers submit and submit and submit, and the rejection letters pile up. Our words are our blood, sweat, and tears, and they are turned down repeatedly.  We keep at it despite the adversity, so it goes without saying that writers are in love with the written medium. Duh.

Point 2: I write only for myself. To this, I say, “Shenanigans.”

Note that this is not the same as saying, “I write stories I would like to read.”

Saying “I write only for myself,” is a defense. It’s like saying, “I don’t care what anyone thinks, because I wrote this just for me, anyway.”

This way, if someone doesn’t like the story, there is an emotional pillow to fall on. If a writer really wrote only for himself, he would never share his work with others. He would never submit it and certainly never put up with the demoralization that goes along with the rejections or likewise, experience the elation on those times work is accepted or gets accolades.

The truth?: I have something to say and I want someone to hear it. No person who has something to say is content to say it to an empty room. I write to be read, and anything I write is dead until a reader breathes life into it.  Period.

Point 3: I’m so special because I write. The words are not said exactly like that but it’s what they mean, and to this I say, “Not really.”

People could view this the same as, “I’m special because I drive a car and dress myself.” Every literate person can write, and of those, about 69% think they could write a book.

Any literate person could write a book. They just don’t and that alone might place them higher on the evolutionary scale than those of us who try.

As writers, we put our thoughts, ideas, and feelings out there for scrutiny. It’s risky and we do it anyway. We are 2% of that 69% that do write. That’s approximately the same percentage of people that have some level of retardation or are otherwise mentally challenged. Who is to say that we are not them? How could we tell if we were?

I look at my “successes” as a writer – the times I have been published.  Some of them don’t even give me a copy of the publication my work appears in.  Is that special?  I can’t really say it is.

It’s just stepping stones to where I want to be. All of it is stepping stones and exercises. Eyes ahead, I continue to climb, and there is nothing exceptional about putting one foot in front of the other, but it’s the only way I know how to move forward, and so I go.

What matters is that you do write.  You are a writing juggernaut that does not stop for anything and one day, if you are good enough, you will be recognized for it.  Until then, no one cares why you write.

If you disagree with anything written here, well, that’s okay.

I’m very special, love reading and writing, and I wrote this only for myself, anyway.

being-a-good-writer-is-3-talent-97-not-being-distracted-by-the-internet_137244090345

Short Story: The Guardian

This story appeared in Untrue Stories, Volume One by Pantoum Press in 2012.  When I wrote it in 2011 for a writing prompt challenge from Splinter4All.com – “Who is at the door?”   It did not win, but I remember thinking  I would like to develop this into a longer story or even a novel.  So far, it has not happened.

If you enjoy it, please share.

 

The Guardian
by Mitch Lavender

 

The rapping at the closet door started just after midnight, as it always did. Who – no, not who – what could it be, inside the closet?

blue crayonErika had been repeating the steps of jumping out of bed, grabbing a crayon from the nightstand and running to the door to redraw the strange symbols around the door’s frame before they faded completely. Quietly running back to the bed and pulling the covers up to her eyes, she watched the door with fear. She did this every seven minutes, and each time, she was careful not to disturb the intricate design she had laid out so carefully on the wooden floor. It was made of lines of carefully poured, pure white sand, and she knew that stepping on it or severing one of the lines might unseal the lock.

Rap, rap, rap.

Not like someone beating on the door and not even a full, adult knock. It was just the whisper of a knock, barely audible but still there, then a pause of maybe twenty seconds, then coming again. Patient. Determined. Firm.

The magical cryptograms on the floor and door frame were the only thing that kept – whatever – from entering her room.

Six minutes more passed of this, and she needed to decide on a new color of crayon to use next. The Aquamarine  worked well, but now was just a nub. She could use Salmon or Bittersweet Orange, but she was afraid. She had never used colors in the red spectrum to lock the door, and they might not be effective.

Pulling a light blue one from the box of 64 colors, she read the name written on the side: Blizzard Blue – it was close to Aquamarine but lighter and lighter colors seemed to work best. The Robin Egg Blue was great, sealing the door over eleven minutes at a time, but she had used it up the other night. Sky Blue was another good one, almost nine minutes for it. It might have lasted longer, but Erika was afraid to test it. When the seals started to fade, she couldn’t let them disappear completely or the lock would fail. The lock on the floor was a last defense, and she would have to stand in the center of it to be protected.

crypticSeven minutes by her clock, and she got out of bed and tip-toed over the sand pattern on the floor and began retracing the symbols on the door frame again. It was 6:53 AM, according to her clock, and sunrise was just minutes away. Then, she could sleep.

Mommy and Daddy had been taken up, but she was left. Now, the demons prowled the night hours and it wasn’t safe after dark. She guarded the only entrance to this hemisphere, but she didn’t know that. She only knew she was keeping something bad from getting out, and in the daytime, there was nothing to worry about. She could open her closet and even play in it if she wanted.

She had already decided she would use Violet that night and see how that works. After the sun was up and she slept, she played with Barbies and went out to swing. She collected the manna that fell from the sky and while it was bland, she could dip it in honey or just pour sugar on it and it tasted better. When the sun started to set, she took her bath and dressed for bed, Violet crayon clutched tightly in her hand.

Erika’s father had read the bible to her before he was taken up. She knew the story of Job and how God allowed him to be tested by the Devil so that Job may demonstrate his faith. He also read to her of Lot and his family in Sodom and Gomorra. If only one faithful person was present, the destitute cities might be spared.

At only nine years old, she didn’t know how she knew to make the lock or that she was the Guardian of Mankind. She did not know this was her test. Wherever she moved, whatever room she was in; that was where the portal would be, and she must guard it or all would be lost. This was her test and tribulation; this was her cross to bear. She didn’t understand, but she had yet to curse God, so the rapping at the door would continue again tonight.

~~~~~

When Hemingway Died

I wrote this piece in 2011, after visiting the Hemingway Estate in Key West, Florida.  I looked through the bars that had been placed at the top of a stairway, peering into Ernest Hemingway’s writing studio.  As I stood there with a crowd of tourists like myself, I felt very alone.

This piece appeared in Death Zone and Other Stories by Pantoum Press in 2011

If you enjoyed this, please share.

 

HemingwayThe Royal typewriter sat silently on the table, the wooden chair was empty.

He wrote A Farewell to Arms, sitting in that chair, at that typewriter, in this room.

Listening, the room echoed of keys pressed, bars of type smacking the paper through the ink ribbon.

Ding.

Carriage return.

It was hollow and faded; a tape that had played too many times and lost all meaning to those who saw it as a tourist attraction on a double-bill with six-toed cats.

They do not see the history.

They do not feel the soul.

And that is when Hemingway truly died.

 

 

Has It All Been Done?

 

“I am part of everything that I have read.”
Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States of America.

As a writer, that is a concerning thing to acknowledge, in essence: everything I write is influenced by previous work I have read by another writer. Does this mean we are imitations of writers before us?

When immersed in literature, we are exposed to many teachers of writing: the authors of the works we read. It’s expected that our writing takes on characteristics of all those authors we enjoy, identify with and admire.

Stephen Zemelman and Harvey Daniels (Best Practice: Bringing Standards to Life in American Classrooms) say, "Of course, reading provides specific data and topics for immediate writing projects, but it can do much more than that. At a deeper level, immersion in certain kinds of reading helps all writers assimilate the tone, flavor, structure, norms, and rhetorical strategies of particular genres of writing, a prewriting activity that’s no less effective for being osmotic and unconscious. Further, reading helps students identify themselves as fellow writers."

Is that a bad thing?  Does it make you a plagiarist?

I say no.

Typewriter strikersThe stories you tell are yours and yours alone, influenced by what you have read in the same way the experiences you have had in life have influenced your writing. It all melds into who you are and that defines what and how you write. If you are influenced by a distinguished author – what you produce might resemble certain aspects and style, but will be different from the original in countless ways.  Even if you try to write like Hemingway, you will still write like you, influenced by Hemingway, but unique in many ways.

Hate it, or love it, or feel you are an imitation of someone else – you are the only you that will ever exist. What you create is equally unique.

Embrace it and write.

Charles-Bukowski

© 2013, Mitch Lavender

Blast From the Past–Reading Stuff I Wrote When I Was 18 Years old.

Earlier this week, I had lunch with Kyle.  He has been my friend since I was 17 years old, and now, we are middle-aged, out of shape and (I’m) showing more than a few gray hairs.  Kyle had been digging through some old boxes of stuff and found original copies of three stories I wrote between 1982 and 1987.  He gave them to me.

How he managed to keep up with these over the decades is a mystery to me, but I’m forever grateful.Thumba_2013-05-28_21-31-51  I read them as soon as I got home.

I do have to say that, after looking over I Like Hell – a story I wrote when I was 18 years old – I showed promise, but had not lived enough at that point to effectively write about life.  The same is true of the other stories, though Greetings From The Planet Earth is very silly, and obviously influenced by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker series.

This copy of I Like Hell was the original, written on an old, baby-blue, Royal typewriter. I know it was the original because you could still feel the indentation on the back of the pages from where the striker hit the paper.  Also, all the slashed-out typos.  No delete key back then, kiddies.

I remember making copies of this story on the Xerox machine at my local library (ten cents a page), and sending it out to a few publishers. Of course, it was never picked up. The same is true of the other two as well – none were published.

Thumba_2013-05-28_21-46-31These stories are not good, but for me – just for me and me alone – it was fantastic to see them again, after so many years. It reminds me how long writing has been my aspiration.

Here I am, 31 years later, and I’m still hitting the keys. I’m still sending out my stories and novels, and sometimes, they even get published. I keep trying and I keep the faith that I am a writer.Thumba_2013-05-28_21-37-22

 

 

Faith [fayth] – fidelity to one’s promises; sincerity of intentions; firm belief in something for which there is no proof

Hyper-Short Fiction

Some writers (myself included) are drawn to the short-form story idea, and I think it’s that the imposed brevity forces you to make every word count and say something. The luxury of verbosity is gone.

Let’s quickly go down the list of Fiction Types by length:

Novel Usually 40,000 words or more, and can be much longer.
Novella Usually between 17,500 words and 39,999 words.
Novelette Usually between 7,500 and 17,499 words.
Short Story Usually between 1000 and 7,499 words.
Flash Fiction Usually less than 999 words.

 

Then there are the really short forms: dabbles, dibbles, micro-fiction, Twiction, six-word Stories, six-sentence stories, and so on. All of these are recognized forms of fiction as well but usually have specific constraints – i.e., a dabble is exactly 100 words long, or Twiction is short enough to fit in a tweet, etc.

tiny-book

When it comes to the hyper-short fiction forms, fewer doesn’t mean less.

Hemingway was accredited with writing an entire story with no title, in only six-words:

For sale: Baby shoes. Never worn.

It’s considered a complete story because it has a beginning, middle and end. I blogged about it in 2011, here.

Hint-Fiction-CoverI recently picked up a small, unassuming book at Barnes and Noble.

Hint Fiction, Edited by Robert Swartwood. (paperback, published by W. W. Norton & Company, $13.95)

I was introduced to yet another, short-short format. Hint fiction is, “A story of 25 words or fewer that suggests a larger, more complex story.”

Before this book, I would have said it was not publishable. I am wrong because, well, here is the published  book of stories, 25 or fewer words long, each – really not complete stories, but fiction that hints at a story. I consumed the entire book in an hour, and that was reading the introduction and slowly perusing the stories. Some were very good, and I enjoyed what the author did – clever twists or word-play. Others were less inspired, and that is the case with anthologies – it’s a mixed bag.

Hint Fiction (the book) is interesting, but light reading. I would only recommend it to fans of the hyper-short fiction form. I might play around with the format in my own writing, just for fun. Regardless, hyper-short fiction is a good exercise to tighten prose.

Granted, these brief stories – even the one that Hemingway is recognized for having written – are not a complete story-telling experience in their own right. By not immersing the reader in details, the mind is left to fill in the blanks. In this way, it is an exercise for the reader as well.

They are the Haiku of the fiction world.

If this interests you, take a look at Hint Fiction, and these links:

Six Sentences – What can you say in six sentences? Great community on the 6S Social network, too.

Microfiction on Twitter – Twiction, conveying a story in 140 characters. Also look for #twiction on Twitter to see what others are doing with the format.

And here is a MSNBC article on the hyper-short fiction format:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

If the video does not work, go to the source, here: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21134540/vp/33231407#33231407

Chuck Palahniuk on Writing

If you’ve been even a semi-regular reader of the Life64 blog, you know that I’m a fan of Chuck Palahniuk’s writing.  He’s put out some of my favorite books, including Survivor, Haunted and Choke.  One thing about Chuck that’s different from so many other authors is how accessible he makes himself to the public.  More than that, he is willing to share his experience with struggling writers. 

Granted, Chuck is not everyone’s cup of tea – he takes huge risks in some of his stories that cost him readers, but the ones that stick around are a loyal lot.  If you have never read Chuck and want to give it a go, I’d recommend Survivor, Invisible Monsters, Choke, or Fight Club.  I would never recommend Snuff or Pygmy to anyone, ever. 

CPbooks2

In this post, I just want to share some of that Chucky experience I’ve gleaned from the corners of the internet.   Some of this advice is common sense and some is opinion, but it’s coming directly from Chuck and I think it is worth considering.

 

Chuck on forcing yourself write

 

Chuck on the value of belonging to a writer’s workshop (via LitReactor)

A warning about the following clip:  Chuck discusses research for his novel, Snuff, which is a gross story.

The value in this for me (starting around 1:35) was his insight on the social model and characters, with reference to Fight Club, and fiction that resolves itself by killing a character.

Chuck on how to research gangbangs for Snuffed (via TWRpodcast)

And though I expect no one except hardcore Chuck fans to be interested in this, the following video is Postcards from the Future: The Chuck Palahniuk Documentary, an 89 minute film made in 2003.  It’s about Chuck, his books and what people think of Chuck.  It is full of Chuck and all sorts of Chucky goodness. 

If you want a highlight moment, click in around 17 minutes and catch Chuck talking about transgressional fiction.

via Chuckpalahniuk.net

Writing From Your Bliss

Have you ever blissed-out on something you wrote? For me – it’s almost always in the first draft of something I am working on, but I can bliss-out over a notion if it is really good. At least, I think it is really good in the moment.

There are two things that are universally true about being in the moment when writing:

1. It’s only awesome to the people involved. When you are writing, that is you and you alone, buddy-boy. In a way, it’s like you just masturbated better than you have ever masturbated before.

2. The second thing is that, no matter how good it seemed in the moment – you are wrong. In the harsh light of forty-eight hours later, what you wrote is not nearly as stellar as you initially thought it was. Sometimes, the beautiful woman you thought you took into your bed turns out to have a penis, and that’s not a good feeling – so I have been told. Ahem.

If those two analogies haven’t destroyed all romantic notions you have about writing, props to you. It definitely gave mine a cold shower, but I still have moments of complete bliss when I write.

Writing Bliss word cloud

I can bliss out, just thinking about a possible situation for a story. That is how fertile my literati loins are, baby.

I heard a public interest news story on the radio – the kind that don’t really qualify as news but are amusing in some way. A couple of hawks had made a nest on the roof of a strip mall. Since eggs were laid, they were very protective and were dive-bombing any customers who tried to approach the shops.

That was the end of the news story in a, “Oh my, isn’t life wacky” kind of way. For me, it was the seed.

I thought, what if these were Bald Eagles, nesting on the roof? And just to be ironic, because the symbol of the US Mail is a Bald Eagle, we make the nest on a post office?

I carry a notepad with me everywhere I go. I jotted down the ideas and possible concepts in a fevered attempt to not forget anything. 

I wrote:

Pair of Bald Eagles make nest, lay eggs, and raise hatchlings on post office in Washington DC, within sight of the Lincoln monument.

BE (abbreviation for Bald Eagle(s)) attack anyone who approaches the post office entrance, thinking they are a threat to their young.

Local news covers the incidents as amusing but treats as a not-newsworthy story. Laughs all around.

Dog is snatched by BE as woman tries to mail a package to her sister. Gets on nightly news and people are torn – is it cool or is it dangerous?

Patriots come out in flag-waving force, protecting the BE. So do environmental activists.

A small child is severely injured by a BE protecting its nest on the PO.

News coverage increases and is severe. It becomes a legal issue – BE are protected and can’t be harmed, but in this situation, are dangerous. What to do?

I stopped there – the bliss had taken me. I know, I know – tomorrow, I will look at this and see the flaws; I’ll see it’s actually mundane. But in that moment earlier today – in that amazing moment, all I could see is fantastic possibilities.

That is the bliss. And I love it.

After the bliss, that’s when the work comes in. But it is the bliss that keeps me banging on the keys after its glow has faded. I want to recapture it. It has always been about the bliss. It will always be about the bliss.

Though I hate “Why I Write” essays, this is why I write. Bliss.

© 2013, Mitch Lavender

Unplugging from the Internet (sort of) – Week One

Friday, 5\10\13 and it’s been exactly one week since I quit Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Pintrist and Goodreads, with the hope that I could focus more of my personal time on writing.  I committed to this social media fast for three months.  After that, I’ll evaluate the results, pros and cons and decide how I will proceed.

My leaving didn’t crash Facebook’s stock – I’m sure it had a negative impact, though. My not being there to post witticisms certainly had to decrease the social media giant’s popularity. I do have like, 200 followers or something, after all. Winking smile

GrumpyCat-regret

As for the quality and productivity of my personal time – it’s weird. Yes, I have been somewhat more productive, but that’s because I’m focusing on being productive – making myself write and edit. I’m not sure that has anything to do with laying off specific sites that I allow to distract me. On the other hand, I miss the online interactions and encouragement with friends, particularly from the Splinter4All bunch, who are pretty active on FB.

Maybe a year ago, I quit messing around other critiquing sites except for Splinter4all.com. I felt like I didn’t have enough time to adequately read and crit\write and post – the trade-off that makes a writer’s critiquing forum work – on more than one site, and this is the one I decided to keep. I do manage around to other sites, but have little presence.

The thing about Splinter4All is – right now, the participation on the fiction and non-fiction forums is slow. The poetry forums are going great guns, but I don’t know enough about poetry to crit effectively. I say stuff like, I liked it. The words were pretty.

So I’m hoping to see the fiction\nonfiction sections pick up. I guess, if nothing else, I’ll be posting some stuff.  If not, I may pick up on The Cult or Critique Circle, again.

Anyway, it’s only a week in. I’m still applying the readability edits to Find my Baby. I’m going to redraft the first chapter, because feedback was that it didn’t really grab anyone and was too heavy on the technical stuff. Then I’ll be turning it over to my editor for a proper line edit, which is always ego-deflating, but a great learning opportunity, as the mistakes I missed on three or more passes are made evident to me.

I could go on, like the Boring Prophet in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, but I won’t.  You are welcome.

There shall in that time be rumors of things going astray, erm, and there shall be a great confusion as to where things really are, and nobody will really know where lieth those little things with the sort of raffia-work base that has an attachment. At that time, a friend shall lose his friend’s hammer, and the young shall not know where lieth the things possessed by their fathers that their fathers put there only just the night before, about eight o’clock.

– Boring Prophet (in Life of Brian)

I’m still at it. Thanks for checking in.

The Profane Hardcore Rules For Writing and Editing a Novel


WARNING: BAD WORDS AHEAD!
  If you are offended by curse words (some of them completely made-up), then turn back now.

 

This is your second warningPROFANITY AHEAD.  If that would offend you, turn back now or you will read dirty words!

Third Warning – I’m not kidding.   If you continue reading and then get offended, it’s your own fault.

OK, here it is:

Chuck Wendig won me over with his profanity-filled book, 250 Things You Should Know About Writing, and I started following his blog, TerribleMinds.com.

Back in February, he had two posts that really stood out to me:

How To Push Past The Bullshit And Write That Goddamn Novel: A Very Simple No-Fuckery Writing Plan To Get Shit Done

and

How To Karate Your Novel And Edit That Motherfucker Hard: A No-Foolin’ Fix-That-Shit Editing Plan To Finish The Goddamn Job

Edit out the swearing and the advice is solid.  Don’t edit out the swearing, and it’s still solid advice.  He shared two infographics that I’m reproducing here:

 

No-Fuckery Writing Plan

and

Editing Plan to Finish Novel

Well, there you have it.  I like Wendig’s writing rules, which are more forgiving than those in On Writing by Stephen King.  Take out the cursing, and it’s tight.

Book Review: Dear Me – A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self

If you wrote a letter to your sixteen-year-old self, what would you say?

In Dear Me – A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self (Hardback, 128 pages, Simon and Schuster, $20), that is the topic addressed by 75 celebrities, writers, musicians, athletes and actors. They offer words or encouragement, reassurance, warning and advice.

clip_image001Initially, I was attracted to this book because of the entries by authors; I wanted to see what Stephen King would say to his younger self. I did read that, and I expected there to be so much more from this prolific author than what was there, but then, this was a letter to himself. It wasn’t for me or anyone else, though it’s published for us all to see.

Many of the letters are phoned-in and just a few lines. Often, these were presented in the original handwriting of the author, and that helped raise my interest a little, but only a little.

The response from Alan Rickman to his sixteen-year-old self was equivalent to throwing himself in the deep end and saying, “Sink or swim!”

Pauly Shore tells his sixteen-year-old self to kill himself at seventeen.

Then there were the ones that took this exercise seriously or managed to endear themselves in some way.

The Forward, written by J.K. Rowling, was exquisite.

Mark Everett (E from the musical group, Eels), was very thoughtful, and his entry was on a typewriter and likely, a first draft.

Jodi Picoult (author) really took this seriously, and I enjoyed reading hers the most. It was also the longest one in the book.

Finally, the book concludes with an invitation for you to write your own letter to your sixteen-year-old self, and even gives you lined, blank pages to do it on.

Note: Profits earned from Dear Me – A Letter to My Sixteen-Year-Old Self, go to Doctors Without Borders, a very worthwhile cause. Also note that some reviewers who bought e-book versions complained that some of the letters had type too small to read. If you want to buy this book, I recommend the physical copy for that reason.

The Next Big Thing Writer’s Blog Hop

 

blog-hop-the-next-big-thingEarlier this week, Marion Clarke (of the seaviewwarrenpoint blog) tagged me for a writer’s Blog Hop called The Next Big Thing. The tagged writer then answers ten questions on their current WIP, and then tags two other writers to do the same.

While it all sounds a bit like a pyramid scheme, no one has asked for my bank account number or credit card, so I’m in. Thanks, Marion.

I nominate the following two writers, who are both passionate about their WIP: 

Luke Cameron Manion – Blue 88
Christa Simpson

I hope they play along, because they have some pretty cool stuff in the works.

Here are my responses:

1) What is the title of your next book?

a) I have two novels in the editing phase. The one I am currently working on is Find My Baby.  The other is Undertaking Hartford.

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?

a) Find my Baby is loosely based on real-life experiences my wife and I had in 2001 when we adopted our son in Ukraine. I also work in IT and have cred to back up the part of the story that deal with computers, network security and viruses.

3) What genre does your project fall under?

a) It’s an epic puzzle story, delivered in three acts and twelve chapters. Find My Baby is a popcorn thriller, all the way.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

a) Brad Pitt for the MC and Angelina Jolie for his wife. If you are going to dream, dream big – and they both are certainly not new to the international adoption process. Plus, Brad Pitt looks exactly like me, don’t you think?

5) What is a one sentence synopsis of your work?

a) Zachary and Lucy Foxborne just wanted a child and they expected obstacles navigating the legal and bureaucratic maze of international adoption, but never thought Russian hackers and the translation of a six-hundred year old, arcane text would determine the outcome of their future, or the future of an innocent child.

6) Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

a) I have self-published books before and not adverse to it, Find my Baby will be represented by an agent.

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

a) I wrote the first draft (~41k words) in three days, during the 3-Day Novel Contest. It’s like Nanowrimo on steroids.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

a) I don’t like the question, but it’s because of the answer: Anything by Dan Brown.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?

a) I had kicked the idea around for years and finally decided to write it. The 3-Day Novel Contest gave me the perfect opportunity. I spent weeks on the outline but only three days to write the first draft. Wild!

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

a) The main character, Zachary Foxborne, is an antivirus specialist and former hacker. He and Lucy fall in love with a two-year old boy in a Ukrainian orphanage, but during the adoption process, are crossed by a brilliant but cruel Russian hacker who has a bone to pick with Foxborne and manipulates his online records. The story escalates to grand proportions, with everything Foxborne and his wife care about hanging in the balance. To borrow from Lennon and McCartney, “A splendid time is guaranteed for all.”