12-21-2016


Remember the Bugs Bunny old cartoon where the guy finds the singing frog? That’s me. My progress in querying agents is about what I expected, silence and the occasional cricket. I have about 30 queries outstanding to agents in my genre. I have already gotten 7 rejections, which by the way, is fine. I would prefer to get a form reject than nothing, which seems to be the norm in this industry.

So here is the thing, if I don’t get any traction with the next batch of queries, or I get to 20 rejections, I’m putting it on Amazon. The preliminary release date is 12-21-2016.

 

Cheers

PW

Point of Man -Update VI – FINISHED


It’s done!!!! Just got the final back from the editor. Need to work through it a bit, but DONE nonetheless. I am going to try to mainstream it, so give a me a couple of months of banging my head against the wall.

Funny story – I am sending out agent queries. I have crafted a delightful narrative explaining that my new manuscript is complete. It is the second book in a series. Third book is not far off. The first book sold over 17,000 copies with no print version or ANY marketing. The people who have test read this second book, say it is much better than the first. I know that I actually improved as a writer having gone through the process before, and so-forth and so-on. General boot licking and groveling.

Consider this. Someone comes to you with a new product. Despite very limited access in a crowded channel, the product before it had exceptional sales. Clients have been asking and waiting patiently for the new product. Wouldn’t you think, “Maybe if we took the first product, repackaged it, and marketed into new channels, we could tap into a bunch of new sales. Then, having created new awareness and demand, we could push the second product right down the same channel six months later. While that is going on, we can build new products for next year.”

No higher order physics here, two big wins and a steady pipeline of sales for years. Sounds like something from Shark Tank, right?

I must be an idiot.

I was informed that because this was the second book and the first book was self-published, no traditional publisher would touch it. Huh?

Now, I have been in the business world for close to 30 years. For those who haven’t discovered my secret identity, I am currently the President/CFO of one of the Midwest’s largest treatment facilities for children with Autism (a story for another day). I have worked my whole career building companies. In fact, the current one is the 4th I started from nothing. So, I kind of know what I am doing. I have to say, that rejection email might just be the stupidest thing I have ever heard.

Why in this day and age the publishing industry would continue to cling to the evil self-publishing Scarlet Letter, I have no idea. However, that type of thinking does explain two things. Why the industry is going the way of the Dodo; and why struggling bookstores are chalk-full of serial written garbage. It’s sad that so many otherwise brilliant people still cling to broken model that is crumbling around them.

Unfortunately, I will force a smile and dance this stupid dance once again. I hold out hope that I will run across someone not afraid of a new way of thinking. Always stay positive!

Long live Amazon and thanks for letting me vent.

PW

Point of Man – Update V


You might be familiar with the phase; under promise, over deliver. Well, the inverse of that was true for me and Point of Man. In my defense, life does get sticky at times and instead of filling this space with deadlines that I would invariably miss for one reason or another, I went dark. I noticed my last post about this book was over a year ago. Wow, that sucks.

But today is a new day, I am here to tell you that at 9:37 PM CST last night, the first draft of Point of Man is DONE! It runs 109K words and I am really happy how it pulls together. No one has seen a word of it yet. So, now I will start the task of smoothing out the variety of bumps that are currently in. And then, the editor. <cue ominous  music>. She is already on board, but I can’t send it the way the manuscript is today. Think about sword making, forge, pound, polish – repeat about 100 times.

To all of you who have waited so patiently, I’m really sorry it took this long. There is the good news, Fabric took about five years to write. Point took about three. At that rate, Cross (the third book – already know how that one is going to lay out) should be about 18 months. Imagine if I actually got an agent and a publisher, I could do it in 6 months. However, that is another battle, one that I have little patience fighting, but will cheerfully start anew.

Here is what’s next.

1. Fix plot holes and re-writes. I wonder how many times the phrase “he said” is in the manuscript. 2. Get manuscript to editor. 2a. Become a query zombie and grovel for an agent. 3. Drink heavily after editor regurgitates on draft. 4. Begrudgingly implement fixes. 5. Accept fate that agents are only looking for tween or vampire novels, which this isn’t, despite the fact that Point sold over 17,000 electronic only versions. So be it. 6. Publish.

I estimate this whole process will take one month, baring anything crazy. Look for Point of Man in the beginning of June!

Love You, Laci


 

I am writing this post two hours before our family has to put down our dog, Laci. For the past three months, this day has always been just over the horizon, but always avoided and never thought about. I can’t help but cry. What a scene, 51 year-old guy, sniffling and crying over his keyboard, trying to reconcile with words the pain from a dog’s absence.

We got Laci 9 years ago from a breeder an hour or so way. She was a Christmas surprise for our kids, who at the time were 14, 12, 7 & 6. The breeder had four puppies available,  three males and a female. That was good because we wanted a male. When the four puppies were put out to play with us, the three males wandered off disinterested. The small female puppy came right up to us sniffed our shoes, gave us a happy look, and wagged her tail. The breeder told us this puppy was an orphan. She was the only female in her small litter and there were complications that resulted in her mother dying shortly after the litter’s birth. This female puppy had been hand fed by the staff until she was old enough to eat on her own. Because they had become so attached to her they had never included her with the other puppies. I figured it was just a sales story and still tried to interact with the male puppies, looking for the right one. After a bit, we told the breeder we needed some time and left.

On the way home, all my wife and I could talk about was the how the male labs were so wild and disinterested. We didn’t know if we wanted any of them. Every time we talked about one of the males, we always drifted back to the pudgey female puppy that was always right next to us, tail wagging. My wife said, what about the female? She was so cute, friendly, and never left our side. Having a female dog had never entered my mind. My whole life I had male dogs. I had a whole stockpile of male lab dog names, Thor, Hank, Ceaser, but none for a female. Then it happened. We came to a stop. The car ahead of us had a license plate that simply read – Laci. My wife gave me a wide-eyed look. Well that does it, she said. I was in complete agreement. We couldn’t go against that karma. We called the breeder immediately and said we would be back next week for the female.

Over the past nine years, Laci has been the best possible companion I could have ever hoped for. There were some definite head scratching times, like the time she ate a number of outside Christmas light bulbs, or the Thanksgiving when she ate two pumpkin pies, or the two days after another Thanksgiving when she drank about a gallon of turkey fryer grease and promptly came inside to throw it all up. She loved to eat, not surprising Thanksgiving was when she did her best work.

The hand full of bad things Laci did were generally pretty funny. As a Lab, she was an abject failure. She didn’t play catch, playing tug the rope was beneath her, and the water was non-starter. She never went swimming, ever. Her Lab card had been revoked long ago, although the occasional deer in the back yard really pissed her off.

About six months ago, I took Laci to the groomer. She noticed a small knot in her throat and said I should take her to the Vet. The Vet is a close friend of ours and had tears in her eyes when she told my wife what was going on. Laci had throat cancer that had spread all over her abdomen. It was a death sentence, no treatment, just a mater of time, maybe until Christmas. For the past seven months she has slowly degraded as the cancer ate her away. Last week, my wife talked to the vet and she said its time. It can’t believe its today.

This afternoon, when I come home, my puppy won’t run to door ecstatic to see me. I won’t get woken up every morning with a dog nose in face because its time for her to eat. Every night when I sink into my chair, she won’t be right next me sleeping. My constant companion, never more than a few feet away who with the wag of her tail made everyone happy, will be gone. She will be remembered and loved by our family forever.

Laci the day we took her home.

Laci-puppy

Laci in her favorite position.

phone 8-6-15 127

Point of Man Update IV


Wow, its October. Sorry for the radio silence. A lot has been going on.  Last week, Fabric passed 13,000 sold on Amazon bringing total sales over 15,000. Unbelievable – because Fabric  is just an eBook. There is no print version, or advertising, or anything. That is all due to you, the faithful reader. I can’t thank you all enough.

Well, back to point,  my mild mannered alter-ego got sucked into a number of new deals and time has been short. I have missed a couple of deadlines, but that doesn’t mean I’m not pounding away. Point of Man is now in ACT III, around 60K words. It has been re-worked a bit. I’ve found that is the hardest part of the process. A change in chapter 35 ripples all the way back to chapter 1. Then, I get stuck rewriting that chapter. Case in point, one of the new characters is a thief. It was originally written as a man. I think it would  be much cooler if the character is a woman, so I switched it. You’ll be able to figure it out when you read Point. Editor has the final hatchet, but needless to say, it took some time re-doing it. So here it is, I think my goal is to get final draft out by Thanksgiving. 8 weeks to get 100K words off to the editor before I slip into my annual turkey coma. It’s doable.

Thanks for stopping by,

PW Abbenhaus

Primary color missing, local school kids blue


I can’t really explain this, but, here it is – another Watley story.

Primary color missing, local school kids blue

BALLWINVILLE, MO – Freshly groomed children saddled with over-stuffed back packs, familiar yellow buses ambling through neighborhood streets, panicked shuffling as bells ring out the start of class…all scenes from a typical back to school year. Only this year, for one area school district, it is different.

“I don’t know what happened,” lamented Mary Lou Wilson, a pig-tailed first grader at Rolling Hills Elementary. “When we packed up my crayon box yesterday, he was there. Now, he isn’t. I really miss him,” Mary Lou said holding back tears. “I can’t draw sky.”

Mary Lou, like hundreds of other mystified students in the Rockhill School District, opened their crayon boxes only to discover blue missing from the usual assortment of colors.

“This is very disturbing,” an angry district superintendent Chuck Cousins said. “As you can imagine, we rely on the color blue quite a lot in our curriculum. For God’s sake, blue is a primary color. To have that color missing really puts a damper on our teaching abilities.” Cousins indicated the school district was working hand in hand with local authorities to quickly solve the mystery. For the time being, the district will substitute aquamarine for blue.

There are not many explanations for the absence of blue, but some suspect foul play. One area resident, Vera Owens, notified police as she discovered dozens of soggy blue crayon wrappers scattered among strange ice cube size cement blocks that had washed up on the shoreline of a large lake on her property.

Local authorities had little to add, but did confirm the lake was being drained. “We really can not comment on the blue situation,” said Detective John Phillips. “We are looking into the reports from Owens Lake and depending on what we discover this case may develop into something larger. We have a few leads but have questioned no one at this time.” The detective said for now the missing color appears isolated to this one school district,

Some people were indifferent to the missing blue. “Blue isn’t that big of a deal. I mean, sure blue’s a primary color, but it’s not like it’s a gemstone or anything,” local jewelry store owner Scott Merrs commented. “Plus, I’m really glad to see aquamarine get its do. It really is a much calmer, more peaceful color. We sell a lot of it.

Others shared the anti-blue sentiment. “Let me tell you something,” said one non-primary color who requested anonymity. “Blue was a pompous ass. He was an elitist, always looking down his nose at the other colors. He made sure to let you know he the most popular color and that kids loved him because he so cheerful and happy. Man, he would rub your face in it. It was sick.” The color didn’t rule out the possibility of foul play. “Blue always thought aquamarine was poaching on his turf. They had a lot of fights and some nasty ones too. Mind you, I ain’t saying I know what’s going on, because I don’t, but I think blue got what was coming to him.”

It is a sad start to a promising school year in this Midwestern town, a generation of kids that will grow up using red, green, yellow and aquamarine as their primary colors. “It’s just not right,” a somber superintendent Cousins said.

Guinea Pigs: the dumbest mammal


I was looking over some of my old scribbles and found this classic story I wrote for the Watley Review. I had to reblog it.

It’s Official! Guinea Pigs are the dumbest mammals on Earth.

Ballwinville, MO – In a somewhat surprising announcement today, a U.S. government agency tasked with finding the relative IQ’s of land based mammals published their final rankings. The meek guinea pig scored the lowest of all.

“We really didn’t expect the results we got.” said Dr. Tim Covington head of the Animals for Strategic Defense Agency. “The guinea pig display an extremely narrow range on our tests of basic cognitive abilities. You know, basic things, like not eating your own feces, remembering to breathe, or not urinating on yourself. All told, when we tabulated our results, the Guinea Pig group we tested actually scored a 0.5 out of 100 across the board on all of our intelligence tests. I have to say, that’s pretty hard to do.”

Covington declined to comment on why the government was conducting the tests, but noted that field mice and chipmunks were the big winners, scoring high in both cognitive ability and basic intelligence.test. As to the weak performance of the guinea pig, some were surprised, but few doubted the results.

“When you take a moment to think about the guinea pig,” noted famed zoologist Joseph Holsinger, “I think even Darwin would scratch his head. In a world filled with predators, they have no defense capabilities. They have very low environmental tolerance whereby small variances in heat and moisture can kill them. Their immune system is non-existent, which results in sudden death from even the most common strains of bacteria. Mix that in with the fact they are extremely nearsighted and don’t hear very well, you quickly conclude its a miracle this species has survived. As I see it, in the basic food chain, the guinea pig is designed to be nature’s equivalent of a Happy Meal.”

Dr. Covington concurred. “I mean, we know the guinea pig has a brain, but other than to keep its skull from collapsing, we are not really sure what they use it for. If not for children and pet stores, I think the guinea pig would have gone the way of the Dodo years ago.”

One local pet store owner who refused to be identified commented, “Oh hell yeah, they’re dumb. Funny story, I once had a Guinea Pig that choked to death while it was eating its own foot. True story,” the store owner said with a laugh. “Look, the bottom line with guinea pigs is, they are cute, they eat a lot, and they have a really short life span, all of which is good business for me.”

The much maligned Guinea Pig can do one thing well, though. “Yes,” said zoologist Holsinger, “the guinea pig can reproduce with the best of them. The average female can have up to 20 offspring in a year. That’s the highest rate among land-based mammals.”

The guinea pig – too dumb to exist, but smart enough to have a colossal sex life. Ignorance just may be bliss.

 

PW Abbenhaus