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01/13/2024

So in early December, I hired a cheap developmental edit from someone on Fiverr. I’ve used services here before for beta readers. I went ahead and included the same beta reader questions, because, why not?

This was an awful experience. First, this person delivered unfinished work. The delivery message gave excuses as to why like computer problems, working extra shifts on their other job, and moving. They appologised for not communicating that they were falling behind. 

But their answers to the beta reader questions painted a different story. The feedback was extremely negative. So much so that she flat out said that she marked the story as Do Not Finish by chapter six, which is farther than she got on the editing. I’m not someone to shy away from negative feedback, but I would expect someone who offers developmental editing services to be encouraging. I’m lucky that I’ve gotten other positive feedback prior to engaging this person’s services, or I might have decided to give up on writing.

11/20/2023

Finished with the re-write. The novel grew by more than 4,000 words. I even tinkered with chapter two a bit, after being rejected by the agent’s office that had actually requested more.

I’ve also decided that putting AI in the title gets the wrong attention. While there is an AI in the story, and it’s a main part of it, the story isn’t centered around it, so yeah, another title change. I’ve gone back to something that was closer to the original. The Piper Legacy: Deepest Secrets. I also finally got one of those free AI art generators to give me a near perfect rendering of a scene that I’ve imagined in the book. New cover image posted.

11/6/2023

Okay. It’s been a minute. But it seems like a lifetime in that minute.

Dad passed a little less than two weeks ago…. 

ALS… For those of you who are religious, I ask what kind of loving god creates a disease like ALS? To slowly lose control over your own body… To have the highlight of your day be when someone rolls you over to scratch your back because you can’t even scratch your own nose… To do this to such a good man…

Movies and TV shows don’t get those last moments right… I’ll refrain from saying more both because it’s too painful to talk or write about it, but I also don’t want to put unpleasant thoughts into loved ones’ minds.

On another note, I’m going to confess something. When I found out about my father’s diagnosis, I was extremely motivated to finish my book. I wanted to try and show him some success in the endeavor. I had no idea that traditional publishing was such a long and often unsuccessful process at the time… But I was stuck at Chapter 5.. I needed to create a new character, and just couldn’t picture him, and went months without moving forward. So, I found a shortcut. One that was advertised as a cure for writers block. They later created a new tool that helped guide the story planning process, which forced me to plan my whole book out in a way that I hadn’t before. It made me write a synopsis, then an outline and characters. Ultimately I had to get extremely specific on outlining individual chapters, so much so, that it never felt like cheating. It still doesn’t… 

But I’ve found out just how frowned upon those tools are in the publishing industry… Now that Dad’s gone, I’ve been going back and re-writing all the parts of my book where the words were not entirely my own. It’s strange. I thought that I’d be making the book shorter, but instead, I’ve found that for every word I take out, I’ve put twice as much in… The question is whether or not it is getting better.

On an exciting note, I’ve had the office of one agent request more. Is it enough to call it a partial? I don’t know. This assistant (or agent, I honestly don’t know) simply thought that my first 10 pages were too short, and asked for 30, so I sent them the next chapter.

09/28/2023

Got another BETA reader report in, and this one had very little criticism, mostly suggestions on the placement of certain phrases or paragraphs, or use of certain terminology. She had so much good to say about the book and the story. I love it! Who wouldn’t? But I can’t shake the feeling that the feedback is a little too good. Isn’t the point of a BETA reader to specifically have criticism? Maybe this specific BETA reader simply loved the book…

New testimonial: “I loved that you took AI in a different direction than world domination. That was a refreshing new take.” -Danny R

So back to the grind of queries… Over the months since my start of querying, I’d changed so much. I’ve improved my query letter, polished my Prologue (which is now chapter 1), and even changed the book title. Unfortunately, some of my most desired agents were the first I’d queried. Some, I’d already received rejections, but some I have not. One that I have not is the very first. A burning desire to delete that query and try again sat inside me, but how to do it? Everyone says don’t nudge (reach out to) an agent that you have queried unless you have an offer of representation from another agent… Well… I guess I broke that rule, because I did reach out. But I didn’t ask to be noticed, I had asked for a do-over. Within 30 minutes, I actually received a heartwarming reply on how to delete and resubmit! So I did just that. Unfortunately, she also happened to tell me that she is nearly six months behind on reviewing her queries…

When I started writing, I had no idea that the road to making a living from it was so long… 

09/27/2023

So two weeks ago I hired a few BETA readers from Fivvr, and I’ve gotten two reports back. Mostly good! There are some critiques that I need to think about, but largely, they are really good. Here’s some of the positive feedback:

   “It drew me in just because of the suspense factor and that alone did it for me.” –Gioncarlo G.

   “I love how it felt like an onion when I read through it—gradually peeling back layers and layers to get more surprises inside. I thought I had the plot all figured out, then you’d toss a new reveal in there that I wasn’t expecting at all… I like the idea—it reminds me of some of my favorite books I grew up reading, so I’d naturally want to see how it stands out.” -Maddy D.

09/06/2023

Had a new dream that I wrote down, and it could be a killer of a new YA fantasy novel. It’s contemporary and even touches on the topics of homosexuality and homophobia. The story seems to come together in my mind the more I think of it. The problem is going to be finding the time to write it while I still have another career, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can make some money from my first book.

Father’s health update: He’s entered a phase where he no longer sleeps soundly throughout the night. He wakes up from having vivid dreams, and even hallucinates afterwards. They are sometimes scary, and sometimes funny. My mother will tell me about their nights. Sometimes he keeps her up laughing, sometimes crying… She seems to think that it is a new stage of the disease, but I lean towards it being a side effect of his medications.

8/18/2023

After reading and watching more writing tips, I have renamed my book from KIRIN’S FAMILY SECRETS to THE AI AND THE FAMILY SECRETS. This feels to be a more marketable title, and should help stand out to potential readers.

I’ve got to say that the querying part of the process really sucks. It’s not just that you have to be perfect with your first pages, but the query letter… Some agents never move past reading your query letter. I’m not saying that I can really blame them, if they are really getting hundreds of submissions each day, then I can understand not wanting to give their time away to someone who may have a great story, but is just not written well, and if the query letter is a hint at how they write, well… The part that really sucks is the waiting. I just read that even after an agent requests your whole manuscript, it can take as long as six months for them to have the time to read it… I started this project with an already shortened time-frame… 

My father has only been deteriorating. He’s now at the stage that he can no longer even use a tv remote. He’s also been having some severe neck pains, which apparently signals that he is reaching the final stages…

08/13/2023

Yesterday I discovered the Youtube channel for Alyssa Matesic. She’s a freelance editor now, but had previously worked for Penguin Random House (The largest of the major publishers) as well as literary agencies, so she has a lot of good insight into the industry.

After watching several of her videos, I realized some of my mistakes. I’ve made some with my queries, but also realized  that my prologue is longer than recommended.  She recommends no more than 5 pages. With the recommended industry formatting (Courier font at 12pt type, and double spacing) my prologue was 14 pages. So I re-wrote some of it, and got it down to nine, but I feel I can’t trim it anymore without changing the feel of it, or removing details that serve the story much later… Does that mean that my prologue is just going to be an exception, or would it be better served as Chapter 1 instead?

08/07/2023

So last month I sent out fifteen, and received five rejections so far. I think that keeping fifteen outstanding queries at a time seems fair, so I sent out another five today.  I think I made a mistake thought. I included spoilers to my book in the synopsis. The more I’ve thought about this process, the whole point of the query is to get an agent interested in reading the whole book. So in these last five queries, I removed all of the spoilers.

My father’s health is still declining. He wears a mask at night with something like a CPAP machine to help him breathe when he lies down. He hasn’t been able to stand for about a month now, and he can’t raise his arms above his head. Now he’s having trouble gripping utensils to eat, so we bought him special ones that are designed for Parkinson’s patients.

I guess what is so troubling now is that he no longer wants to do anything. He has no interest in leaving the house anymore, even if there is a lot of help…

07/09/2023

Okay, so I have sent out fifteen queries to different literary agents at different literary agencies. Most say that it can take up to eight weeks to respond, if they even respond at all.

Let me give you another reason to hate big pharma. Last year, two new drugs were approved by the FDA to treat ALS, Relyvrio and Radicava. They are supposed to slow down, if not halt the progression of ALS, at the very least, give patients more time. These drugs are priced at more than $16,000 per monthly dosage. I’d like to know what their actual manufacturing costs are.

06/28/2023

The book is done. I can’t believe how quickly the words have flowed out of me. I need to be incredibly grateful to my wife for being so patient with me while I pretty much put my other career on hold to do this.

I’ve started researching the next steps. It seems that really successful writers are not self published writers, but those who had their books published by major publishers. It also seems that most, if not all, of the major publishers do not take unsolicited book submissions, requiring all submissions to come from literary agents.

Based on some of my research on my target literary agents, many are only open to submissions during the first week of the month. So I guess I’m spending next week focused on submitting my book to literary agents.

I read that Stephanie Meyer (author of the Twilight series) send out seventeen queries before she found representation.

06/04/2023

I just saw an ad for a TV series on Apple TV+ called Silo… My heart sank. The ad sounds so similar wo what I’ve been writing… I thought my idea was pretty original. The closest thing I’d seen to my story was City of Ember, and even that is radically different. So I looked up the Silo series, and it’s based on some books by Hugh Howey. I will want to watch the show, but I have already spoiled the ending for myself, because I needed to know just how close our stories are.

05/22/2023

My father’s diagnosis seems to have lit a fire under me, and the words are flowing like they never had before. I seem to be writing a chapter or two each week.

He is rapidly declining though. He’s now confined to a power chair for mobility…

03/28/2023

Okay, so my father had some back problems after trying to do too much work in his house himself instead of asking for more help. After some back surgery, a doctor became concerned with some twitching, and sent him to a specialist… He has now been diagnosed with ALS. He has been told that his life will end somewhere between six months and five years. This news is devastating…

As for my writing, I’ve been reading and watching a lot of tips for first time writers, and I’ve had to go back and fix a lot of mistakes. The hardest one to avoid is “the information dump”. When you are creating a new world in your mind, it is incredibly difficult not to just try and explain all of it as soon as you can. But I’ve learned that will bore the readers, and I think the people who say that are probably right, especially since I am trying to grab and keep the attention of young readers. 

I’ve gone back and made tons of edits, and have removed just about as much stuff as I’ve left. I went back and added a prologue, which I think the story desperately needed.

I’ve also finally figured out the third main character, so the words are flowing again.

01/02/2023

It’s a new year, and I guess you’d say I have writer’s block. Maybe I just haven’t had the time to really think about it enough. 

My parents’ house did not need to be demolished, but all that could be saved was the basic structure. Everything inside had to go. Furniture, appliances, even the drywall. It is going to be a long road to reconstruction, because there are so many homes that need rebuilding and only so much labor to do it. PLUS my parents were fortunate enough to be able to buy another place after this ordeal while they repair their home, but most in the area are no so fortunate.

What I’ve been writing differs a lot from the dream on which I have based it, but it still has the same spirit. I have two of the three main protagonists figured out, but I want a third. A new friend to the main character, a boy this time, but I can’t figure him out.

For myself:

  • To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
  • The Aurora Cycle
  •  Hard Wired
  • The Pioneer
  • SpellHacker
Now:
Gideon the Ninth

To my kids:

  • Harry Potter Series
  • Artemis Fowl Series
  • Percy Jackson:
       Lightning Thief
       Sea of Monsters
       Titan’s Curse
       Battle of the Labyrinth
       Last Olympian
  • City of Ember
       People of Sparks
  • Piper Legacy: Deepest Secrets
  • Hunger Games Trilogy
  • Eragon

Now:
Eldest

10/12/2022

Hurricane Ian hit two weeks ago, and I was without power or internet for most of that time. Everyone is okay, and I had very little damage to my own home, but my parents’ home was under 6 feet of water and is not inhabitable. It may have to be torn down and rebuilt.

On the bright side, being without power and internet gave me time to start writing. I actually wrote a little more than two chapters. I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying it.

Sometime in late 2022

So, here’s where I started my journey to being a writer. A few years ago, I had this dream. Not a dream for something that I wanted, but a literal dream, the kind you wake up from in the morning, It was about a girl who lived in an underground society, where they were cut off from the outside world, because it was no longer habitable. She was a tech whiz, but her talents were wasted because she was working on a mining crew to help expand their underground city. She was unsatisfied with the progress they were making, so hacked into the mining equipment to make them work faster and more efficiently. Her modifications caused an accident, a collapse of the tunnel in which they were working, which killed the rest of her crew, and exposed the surface. She found that the surface was not uninhabitable, but alive and thriving, but inhabited by machines. When she was rescued, she was discredited for telling lies about the surface. She then struggled to confront the AI that runs their underground city, and learned even bigger revelations.

Last year, I was able to start a nightly tradition of reading to my kids. they are kind of old to be starting this, but in my defense, they never wanted to let me. It wasn’t until I forced it on them to get my son to start a new bedtime routine. I had started reading Harry Potter to him, and my daughter had secretly been listening from the next room. After the first chapter, she started joining us by actually laying on the floor of my son’s room while I read to him. Apparently I am a good narrator.

Anyway, We moved on to Artemis Fowl after all of the Harry Potter books, and I started to think that maybe I should try and write something. Later in the Artemis Fowl series, Eoin Colfer had created a character called Colin Ozkopy, and I thought to myself, Okay, is he even taking his writing seriously? If a successful author like this can still be so successful after including such a silly character in his book, then why couldn’t I?