Saturday, April 24, 2010

Biking on the Brain

Sorry for the silence--I've had biking on my brain.

About two weeks ago I went out for a two hour bike ride with my friend Whit. (He runs a terrific cycling blog called Pave.) I had a great ride and as we finished Whit made a comment that I should enter a race. That's all the motivation it took. I immediately signed up for the Turkey Hill Classic, a 40k (24 mile) road race near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. I have entered the race as a Category 5 (beginner) and am both very excited and very nervous about the event.

For many years I was a competitive distance runner. However, running and cycling are very different beasts. They both share the same goal--crossing the finish line first. But bike racing is a much more tactical event. In running you can just take off and lead the whole way. Strong finishers might want a slower pace, and poor sprinters might want a fast pace, but overall tactics are pretty simple. 

In bike racing you can save over 30% of your energy just by drafting (following closely) behind the rider ahead of you. Leading a race from the beginning becomes almost impossible as all of your competitors will be 30% fresher than you. What will my strategy be? It's called "Don't be stupid." This will consist on trying to control my exuberance and not charging out to the lead from the very beginning.

What does this have to do with writing? Not much. However, I will say that cycling is a great sport for writers. Cycling provides a lot of time to think, and I spend a lot of riding time thinking about Eternal Knight. Many good ideas have come to me while in the saddle.

Any how is my writing going? Very well. I am not rushing into the query process, but am letting the manuscript "rest" for  a bit before jumping into things. I am resisting the urge to mass query and will take it one step at a time.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Chapter One "Wordle"

Wordle: Eternal Knight Chapter One

Adam Heine inspired me to  "Wordle" the first chapter of Eternal Knight. Not a surprise that "Hadde" came out very big.

I wonder what people who have never read chapter one would get out of the wordle...

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Finished my "final" read through of Eternal Knight today. It feels good to be "done". What's with all the quotation marks? Well, a novel is never really "done". Someone out there will find mistakes that need fixing. Someone else could make suggestions that would improve the manuscript. No novel is perfect.

What's next? Time to find an agent. I'm not going to rush into things. I have a list of agents that needs one more going over. I also have a few readers looking at the first few chapters--just to make sure I don't have any silly mistakes left in there.

I won't be reporting back to you on the query process. What kind of impression would it make on a curious agent if they came here to find me reporting a stack of form rejection letters? So... I'll keep posting, but you won't hear about how the query process is going.

It felt great to read, THE END. I love Eternal Knight and I can't wait for it to move on to the next step on the path to publication.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Progress, Disney, and Dad


So close I can almost feel it now. I am on chapter 21 of 29 of my final read-through of Eternal Knight. It scares the hell out of me that I just read one of my favorite chapters and loved it. What's scary about that? If it turns out that nobody else likes it, well... it makes me out to be a deluded idiot. And who wants to be a deluded idiot?

Progress has been excellent over the past week, this despite the fact that we just got back from Walt Disney World. So now, a brief commentary on Walt Disney World:


1) Disney is an amazing organization. The employees were incredibly helpful and friendly. The whole park is clean and runs like clockwork. They picked us up from the airport and took great care of us up to the very moment they returned us to the airport.

2) We stayed on the resort (Port Orleans) and used their dining plan. The dining plan, combined with a $500 gift card (a free upgrade to our package) meant that we only spent $40 cash above the actual package cost. If you go, get on the dining plan, it will save you a ton of money. And make reservations well before you go. Once you get there you will have a very hard time getting meal reservations at their (excellent) sit-down restaurants.

3) Use the Fast-Pass system. It lets you cut to the front of the line for the really popular rides. My strategy: get to the park as soon as it opens, get a Fast Pass for the most popular ride in the park, ride your #2 and #3 choice rides, and then use your Fast Pass. Then, if you are there during Spring Break, be prepared to wait forever for another ride. Or, go back to the resort and swim and do other activities. After dinner, go back to one of the parks. By the way, we'll never go back during Spring Break-- it was mobbed. The crowds were the only downside of the experience.

4) I think you're best off waiting until your youngest child is five or six before you go. I don't think you can get the full experience before then. And toting around a grumpy kid at a theme park is just no fun. Amelia just turned six, and she had a great time. You also need to be 44 inches tall to get on the decent rides.

5) Must do activities.... The Himalaya roller-coaster at Animal Kingdom was great. The Safari ride was also very good. We didn't get a chance to see the shows there, but I heard they are good. Animal Kingdom was MOBBED. The Stunt Show, Indiana Jones Show, and Jedi Training were all great Hollywood Studios events. The auto Stunt Show was truly amazing.

One of the best parts of the trip was the chance to visit with our friends the Brinsons and the Grodes. In a later blog post I'll write about my adventures in the World of Warcraft. The best thing to come out of that year of gaming was my friendship with Kemp and Melissa and Bob and Lori. All are Orlando area residents and came out to the park to see us. Bob and Lori brought their kids and spent the day at Magic Kingdom with us. Kemp and Melissa brought their daughter and met us for dinner. Two years ago (the last time we were in Florida) my wife was incredulous that I was taking us to meet my World of Warcraft friends. She was certain they would kill us and that our bodies would never be discovered. They turned out to be some of the nicest people IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.

I haven't played WoW in over a year, and they were still happy to spend the day with us. Bob and I keep in touch with occasional phone calls. Kemp has become a valuable Eternal Knight editor. These are good folks!


My dad and his wife also happen to be in Florida on vacation right now. Debbie told me that my dad has been out twice to hit some golf balls. The last time he hit golf balls was over two years ago. Why the lapse? A terrible battle with cancer. The rare (and aggressive) cancer was in his nasal passage, pressing up against his brain. The radiation and chemo beat the hell out of him. The surgery (which intruded into his brain) was equally traumatic. The recovery has been riddled with complications.

So to hear that he has the strength to hit even a small bucket of balls at a driving range is wonderful news. I look forward to when I can play a round of golf with him again.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Quick Post: Pages to Fame

I found out about Pages to Fame on the Intern's wonderful blog.

Pages to Fame looks very interesting. It is a website where you submit the first page of your novel and then people rate it on a 1 to 5 scale. Earn enough good ratings and you'll be requested to send in five pages. More success and you send in 50 pages, and then a complete novel.

Why do it? Pages to Fame promises that real world agents will read your work as it passes up each rung on the ladder. Does it work? No idea--I think it's too new to have had any major success stories yet.

Judging the pages is fun. You get to wade through the slush pile like an agent, quickly deciding if each work has merit or not. You also get to see how your ratings compare to those of other participants.

For now I'm just going to judge. If I like what I see, and don't hear anything fishy about the site, I'll send in a page. Can anyone think of a reason not to?