Bad Bestsellers and Making Sausage

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Sometime in the next two months, I’ll hand the manuscript for my next novel to my editor. She knows this and I’m noticing that while she is always a really fun person to be around, she’s being extremely nice to me lately. She bought me lunch the other day. We never even talked about my book. It’s like she knows that in mere weeks she’s going to be heaping harsh words on a year’s worth of my work, with relentless fervor and even a bit of glee.

So I’m putting a lot of pressure on myself. I want readers to universally declare the sequel to be better than the first book. I woke up at 3am last night, unable to sleep, so I got up and edited for an hour. I’m giving up reading the newspaper (a morning ritual I never skip,) until I’ve got this book in the hands of Beta Readers. I need feedback soon. I’ve read several great books lately and I want my work to measure up. It’s intimidating. Fortunately, right now I’m reading a memoir (a bestseller selected by a book club) and it’s absolutely terrible. It’s well written and I understand to a certain extent its appeal to some (I guess.) I won’t name it, out of professional courtesy for the highly successful author (because I haven’t finished it and maybe he’ll acknowledge the depraved criminal behavior of those that raised him), but he’s not funny, his story is sick and sad and not entertaining. I’m more than 1/2 way through and I might just quit out of respect for whatever good book I could be reading. Bad books on the bestseller list tell us that a career in writing is not just about writing good books, but finding a story with an audience.

Speaking of audience, this Well Oiled Writer, is about to get a few more eyes. The Tampa Bay Area’s local weekly entertainment magazine Creative Loafing has asked me to do an online blog/column on Indie Publishing. Similar to this, but different, I’ll be giving readers an inside look at the sausage making process of bringing a draft to print, and hopefully developing a place for indie writers to commiserate. When it goes live, I’ll provide links here, so you don’t need to go looking for it. By no means am I the authority on any of this stuff, so my goal will be to keep readers entertained with my successes and failures.

Sausage Making

This is not a metaphor for my book. This is my actual manuscript. My printer uses Inkjet Veal and Chorizo. Photo Credit: GluehweinEffects via Compfight cc

Also coming soon… book cover design! Because you can judge a book by its cover.

By day Jonathan Kile is a peddler of petroleum products, navigating a Glengarry Glen Ross landscape of cutthroat sales. By night he assumes the identity of novelist and child-wrangler. Jonathan’s first published novel “The Grandfather Clock” is available on www.amazon.com. He is writing his second and third novels, blogging at welloiledwriter.wordpress.com and cursing his editor.

 

The First Draft and a Spot of Tea

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A few weeks ago, before I was done with the first draft of my next novel, I met with a couple of local writers over tea and a yogurt parfait – because that’s what writers do in the morning. After lunch it’s all whiskey and pills. One requirement that morning was to bring a piece of writing for another writer to review – which is not something I’ve done very often. So, without as much as a cursory review, I printed the first twenty pages of my book and passed it across the table.

It was kind of like serving a meal without tasting any of it first.

I got a great reaction to those pages. In fact, both writers marveled at the quality of the paper I printed it on. 28lb Bright White from Office Depot. I use good paper for work presentations. I can’t stand cheap paper. Since that day I’ve revised the first 3,200 words twice, and it might get 6 more rewrites. Maybe more. I thought my first draft would be cleaner this time, and it actually might be. But for some reason this is harder than the first time. This weekend I’ll bring those revisions to that same meeting, I’ll pay for the tea for subjecting them to that unrevised collection of English words.

Speaking of Tea

I mentioned before that I just finished The Shadow Mountain by Gregory David Roberts, his second epic novel set in India. The characters are constantly drinking chai. To me, chai has been one of those menu items classified with tofu, flax, quinoa, and soy milk (it’s soy juice.) But after his great characters drank their 400th cup of chai, I had to find out what was going on. I bought some chai tea at Fresh Market, brewed it up, and even added milk at the suggestion of the box. Meh. I think I need to get some made by a professional barista with more tattoos and piercings than fingers. The second time I made it, I added honey and it tasted like… tea. Why are you talking about tea still? Hey, it’s my blog, dammit.

What am I reading now, you didn’t ask? The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane. I’m really enjoying it. The second book in this particular series, Live By Night is set in nearby Ybor City. Ben Affleck is making the movie, which would be really exciting for the Tampa Bay area if they hadn’t built a replica Ybor City movie set in Brunswick, GA. On the plus side, I fully expect my college roommate turned actor who lives in Georgia to be in the film. He’s a regular “walker” on Walking Dead and is in a new Zaxby’s ad. You go, buddy. You have a role in the film version of The Grandfather Clock, starring Ben Affleck, filmed at Epcot Center.

chai

I could have taken a picture of my actual tea, but I had Ben Affleck build a different cup of tea. Photo Credit: jmerelo via Compfight cc

Send instructions on how to make a proper chai to jkilewrites@gmail.com. Better yet. Buy my book and I’ll go buy a cup at the nearest Indian restaurant.