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01/16/13 | Idiot Mode, My Writings, Procrastination | 0 Comments
Hey there. Remember me? Yeah, I know. Believe me, I know.
So, I haven’t written a blog post since April. Oh, you’ve noticed? Well, I’m not making any promises--I’ve made them all before--but HOPEFULLY that’s all about to change.
I’m a bad writer. I’m not saying I lack talent… I’m saying I have no discipline.
How long has it been since I’ve written? Well, before last night, probably about four months. No, you didn’t misread that, and I didn’t mistype it, either. It’s legit been four months.
I’ve always written in waves. The wind brushes over the surface of the water, gathering momentum, pushing the little H2O molecules against one another until they finally come crashing down on the shore with a thunderous roar. But then gravity and the tide pull them back in, swallowing them into the inky depths of the ocean, and they must wait for their chance to rise once more.
That’s basically how I write. For several months I’m highly productive, and then for the next several months I, well, suck. I did some great writing in 2012, but most of the time was spent in the “suck”.
I’m not going to make a resolution to write more. I’ve never been able to trick myself into that. Or make myself feel obligated somehow. At the moment, I only have myself to answer to, and I’m really not the disciplinarian I should be (considering it’s been eight months since I updated this blog, I don’t think I have to convince anyone of this).
What I’m resoluting (real word?) to instead is to write More OFTEN. An hour a day of sitting in front of my computer with a Word document open in front of me. I’m not obligating myself to a word count (I’ll leave that to my friend Dawn, who has pledged 500,000 words in 2013! Eek!) because I’ll never adhere to it. What I really need is to give myself the TIME to BE CREATIVE. To glue my ass to a chair and see what happens.
Wish me luck.
I’ve also joined Goodreads’ 2013 Reading Challenge. I read 30 books last year with an initial goal of 20, so whoopah to me! This year I’m aiming for at least 25, with hopes that I shoot past it again. Follow my progress:
I also saw 39 movies last year IN THEATERS. My additional goal is to make that 50 this year. I know that sounds crazy, but I love movies and think all need to be seen in theaters, so I’m up for the challenge (AND I LOVE MOVIE THEATER POPCORN).
Pray for me. Make a virginal sacrifice on my behalf. Or just wish me luck.
Either way, 2013 will be the year of NO MORE EXCUSES.
Kyle W. Kerr
01/1/11 | My Writings | 0 Comments
Have a good one, folks!
Kyle W. Kerr
06/15/10 | General, Movies, My Writings, Reviews | 0 Comments
Yes, I’ve been gone for a while, but I have my reasons. The biggest thing to happen recently is that I (finally!) moved back to the Boston area. I’m in an area called Somerville, literally just across the city border from Cambridge. Just a T ride away from my favorite city in the world!
Moving is a real pain in the arse. I’ve moved almost once a year for the past 7 years, which is kind of ridiculous if you ask me. I’m ready to settle down for a while, and I think this living arrangement is going to be both positive and productive (I’m living with two other writers). No distractions, no more excuses.
The only thing that I regret about moving is that I won’t be able to attend ThrillerFest like I’d hoped. There’s no way I can afford it after the move, so I’ll have to wait until next year! And, since the Maui/Hawaii Writers Conference & Retreat is now officially defunct, it looks like it’s going to be the only party worth going to. Good thing I’m writing a thriller now.
Speaking of which, it got put on the back burner for a few weeks while I’ve been in transition. No time to write amidst packing, moving, and unpacking. But now that I’m (mostly) settled into my new place, I hope to increase my output exponentially! I’ve actually joined a local group of writers that get together once a week for the sole purpose of… writing! We literally gather and spend two hours in silence. Sounds dull, but it’s surprisingly helpful. In fact, I’m writing this Journal Entry at said meeting right now! I also used it to finish a chapter I’d been languishing over for a couple weeks, which brought me into a new one that I’m currently working on… 18,000 words down!
With 15 chapters, that’s about 1,200 words per chapter. My first book averaged just under 4,800 words per chapter. Yeah, it’s a big book (134,000 words within 28 chapters—which you can BET is going to be cut significantly for publication)! The way this book is going, there’s probably going to be 80-90,000 words and 70ish chapters. Writing a thriller is a much different experience and I’m enjoying the challenge. It’s also undeniably adult – there’s sex, torture, murder, and lots of yummy, juicy stuff to write. There’s all that stuff in my other book too, but not in the same way. You’ll have to read them to see!
I’ve come to realize that I need to do a bit more plotting of the sub chapters. I have all of the big events that need to happen and the sub plots that will make it a decidedly non-linear story, but need to fill in a little of the… filler. How am I going to get from the big event I’m wrapping up to the next one? I don’t know yet, and that’s one of the things that’s making my productivity lag. I’m trying to write this as chronologically as I can (as an experiment… the last book was written on a per chapter, hodgepodge-like basis and I didn’t stick to any particular pattern) to see if it helps the flow of the book. Obviously there are some bumps I need to work out, but it seems to be working fairly well.
In the time since my last post, I’ve seen a number of movies… Iron Man 2 (8/10), Date Night (7/10), Clash of the Titans (6/10), Sex and the City 2 (8/10), Letters to Juliet (7/10), Shrek Forever After (9/10), Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (8/10). Upcoming movies I’m looking forward to are Toy Story 3, Knight & Day, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, The Last Airbender, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Inception, Salt, Charlie St. Cloud, and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Those are the summer releases, but of course I can’t NOT mention Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 in November and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in December!
Honestly haven’t read any books worth noting. Sad, but true. Though I’ve recently acquired The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Kathy Griffin’s memoir, Official Book Club Selection… both of which I have high hopes for.
I need to start planning out some of my other bajillion projects, but want to get seriously back into the flow of writing this one first. I’m hoping that by writing more than one project at a time I’ll be able to be more productive, because if I lose interest in one I’ll have another to go to, which should hopefully eliminate much of the down-time in my writing. I. Freaking. Hope.
That should be it for now, but I’ll be writing more entries now that I’m not going crazy. Let me know how you’ve all been either in the comments or by sending me an email!
Kyle W. Kerr
02/2/10 | General, My Writings | 0 Comments
Last December I did a recap of 2008. This year, I’m just ready to say goodbye to 2009, no rumination required.
Through all the hardships, I can honestly say I have high hopes for 2010. Things have been steadily happening, little signs that the unbearable will soon metamorphosize into the endurable, that we’ll all finally be able to take that deep breath of relief.
I finished my book in an epic journey that spanned the better part of eight years. I’m happy with it (for the most part), and finally feel like it’s TIME to move on. I’ve started my second book, which is an incredible departure from the literary style I’ve been immersed in for so long. It’s still literary in its own right (I don’t think I’ll ever be able to turn the literary switch OFF), but it’s a literary thriller, and the new voice excites me. I just need to work on giving myself more time to write, because I like what I’ve written so far.
It’s also has a BIG concept, which is something my literary novel is missing, and is therefore much more marketable. And then there’s my YA urban fantasy series I want to start. As well as a few other projects waiting in the wings (including an adaptation for one of my all-time favorite books as a spec script that I hope to present to the producers… if I ever get around to writing it!).
So again, high hopes. But it all rests on me to make it happen.
In other news, I’m planning a return to Boston. I came back to Pennsylvania after graduating college in May of 2008, wanting to be closer to my family and my friends from grade/high school. But the job opportunities have been nil, and I didn’t realize just how much I’d miss the city until I was gone (isn’t that the way it always works?). So, I’ve formulated a plan that should get me up there by May, June at the latest. Pay off as much of my immediate debt as possible (I’m working enough overtime to double my paychecks right now), start putting away as much into savings as I can, and then make the move. My closest Boston friend, Nikki, has already agreed to get an apartment with my, and my most recent roommate Jordan might come along as well if the move is worth his while. So, that’s what’s keeping me going right now, knowing that I’ll soon be back in the place I was happiest.
In the meantime, I’m going to work, and hopefully I’m going to write. My productivity is suffering in the wake of my lacking motivation, so I just need to get back into the habit of being creative. I’ve got a lot of ideas in my head, and they’re never going to come to life if I don’t take the initiative.
Just send some motivation my way… if you’ve got any to spare!
Kyle W. Kerr
10/28/09 | Genius Mode, Movies, My Writings, Reviews | 2 Comments
It’s okay, you don’t have to try and convince me otherwise. I have been a HORRIBLE blogger these past few months. Not only have I not written, but I haven’t been keeping up with my blogroll, either. Sometimes you fall out of a habit and it’s hard to get back into the groove again. Hopefully, I’ll be able to start afresh and I won’t have to write another of these apologies for a long time…
What have I been up to since May? Well, as you saw, I finished my first novel, Love, Simon. I’m happy with where it is and have recently been sending out queries to agents. I know it’s a long and treacherous road to finding representation, but I have faith that when the right agent reads something of mine at the right time, magic will happen. So, enough about Simon for now.
I started writing my second novel, which is as different from my first as it’s possible to be. I didn’t start out to do that. Yes, I wanted to write something DIFFERENT for a change, but it hadn’t been my intention to start this particular book. There were (and still are) a few projects that I really wanted to start, but when it came down to putting fingers to keyboard, this is what I started writing. It’s a story that has been percolating in my brain for the last five or so years, and I initially envisioned it as a screenplay… but who am I kidding? When am I going to find the time to learn how to write a screenplay? I think it’ll work magnificently as a movie, but someone else will have to adapt what I’m writing now. It’s kind of an urban fantasy thriller, but with a literary twist (though hopefully the fantasy part will blend in so seamlessly it’ll read more like a literary thriller). Here’s the logline:
What if Jesus was never meant to be our Savior, but a warning? What if, 2000 years later, God fathered a daughter?
And that’s as much as you’re going to get until the book is published, whenever that may be! If you’re clever, you might be able to find an Easter Egg about it somewhere else on this site, but that’s all I’m saying right now!
I’m really enjoying the process of creating a new world. And, like I said in the past, I am no longer limiting myself to work on ONLY ONE project at a time. I have ideas for two YA series—one an urban fantasy and the other more commercial—as well as my next literary novel (which I’m going to give a little time before I start… I need a little BREAK). So, I’ll keep everyone updated to my progress.
In the meantime, I’ve also finished a new short story entitled “The Mommy Tree.” It’s currently making the rounds of my first readers, but early response has been positive. I’m planning on submitting it to a contest at the end of the month that I have no chance in hell of winning, but I’m not one to be intimidated by overwhelming odds—would I have chosen to be a writer if I was? Keep your fingers crossed for me just in case!
Work is still the same—work. I’m making strides and creating waves, in my usual fashion. Even the CEO of the company knows me by name. That’s just how I handle business.
I went to see the musical WICKED this past weekend in NYC. I read the book about a year or so ago and wasn’t overly impressed with it. I’d been expecting a fairytale told from a different POV, when all I got was a big political statement that I found BORING. I read to the end because I was curious, but it’s not something I’d recommend. And it’s already been made clear to me that I’m one of the only people in the world NOT to love this book, I understand this. It’s just hard for me to get into something when my expectations aren’t met. But the musical was INCREDIBLE, for lack of more clever verbiage. I was skeptical, because of my experience with the book, but they were able to draw the real story out of the novel and make the musical based on that. The overall plot is the same, but it had a more humanized quality to it—more literary, if you will. And the music was witty and sad all at the same time. I wish I could have recorded that performance to watch over and over again. I bought the original cast recording, but it pales in comparison to the experience of seeing it live and feeling the entire theater shake from the power of their voices. Definitely worth a see if you’ve got the time and money.
Over the summer I was able to watch a number of movies. I’ll list them below and give a short reaction to each (since there are quite a few, I won’t bore you with longer opinions):
After Wolverine, I saw—
Angels & Demons – Still the best of the Dan Brown novels, I was pleased with the adaptation. I read the book a number of years ago, so the plot wasn’t very fresh in my head (my mom, on the other hand, reread it for the showing and was disappointed by the changes made). And I’m so glad they didn’t have Langdon jump out of the helicopter at the end, which was the most unbelievable part of the whole book. Though, I have to admit, I did miss Silas from Code… But that might just be misplaced longing for my love of Paul Bettany. *shrug*
Night at the Museum: Battle for the Smithsonian – The first movie was cute, and I really only went to see this because a friend wanted to. But I was pleasantly surprised at how funny the movie was. Amy Adams is always refreshing, and my favorite part was with the singing Cherubs (voiced by The Jonas Brothers, I would find out later). Obviously, this was just a screwball flick, but worth your time if you’re looking for a laugh.
Up – I LOVE Pixar. I have never been disappointed with one of their movies, and this one fits in the same mold. It was witty, but also extremely heartfelt. Their animation only gets more incredible with each movie, and hopefully they’re only just hitting their stride.
My Sister’s Keeper – I had heard of this book, but never picked it up. But from the first trailer that premiered for this movie, I wanted to see it. Why would this young girl no longer want to help save her sister’s life? There had to be something more… and there was. My only complaint is for Cameron Diaz, someone I’m never much impressed with. You can take any role she’s ever played, exchange her out with another actress, and it wouldn’t make a difference. Not like Kate Winslet, where I can’t picture anyone else but her playing each of her roles. I also happened to miss the emotional climax of the movie. TMI, but I should have gone to the bathroom BEFORE the movie started, and I didn’t think anyone would appreciate me peeing in the theater. Oops.
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – OMFG was this movie HILARIOUS. I loved the first Transformers for its amazing wit and breakneck action, and this was no different. Besides the fact that the theater put it on the smallest screen in the building, I was absorbed from the first minutes of film. Shia LaBeouf is extremely funny and a perfect fit for this role, and even though the story gets a little convoluted in places, it was definitely first-class entertainment. The guy in me drooled the entire film!
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince – Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a Harry Potter freak. I’ve been to two midnight premieres (including this one), went to the midnight releases of the last THREE books, and reread the books once a year. So, it should come as no surprise that I LOVED this movie. Yes, hardcore fans, the plot and structure were rearranged to fit the 2 ½ hour movie format, but that’s been the case for all five previous movies as well, so get over it! One of the things I loved most about the movie was the humor. I still laugh every time I think about Ron climbing into bed with Harry to swoon over Ramilda Vane, whom he recently fell in love with due to an expired love potion. The special effects were flawless (save for the Inferi at the end, but that’s just me). All the kids have really come into their own. And we were introduced to some great new talent in the form of both Young Tom Riddles, who both gave very chilling performances. I’ll be first in line when this movie comes out on DVD, and I’ll be sure to be at the midnight premiere of DH Part 1 next November!
The Ugly Truth – Predictable, but enjoyable. Some of the best lines were in the trailer, but it wasn’t really lacking in the funny. I’ve liked Katherine Heigl since her Roswell days, so this was a no-brainer to see. Of course (and I hope I’m not ruining anything for you here), the guy gets the girl in the end, so it was satisfying. And Katherine playing off of Gerard Butler was great fun as well.
Julie and Julia – As I said above, Amy Adams is always refreshing. And seeing her try to cook her way through Julia Child’s cookbook was enjoyable, to say the least. And it’s amazing how Meryl Streep can so fully embody whatever character she plays. I fell in love with her in The Devil Wears Prada, and she really shone as Julie Child in this one. I’ll have to check out some of her earlier work!
The Informant! – Ever since the Bourne movies came out, I have really come to appreciate the raw talent that is Matt Damon. In this quirky comedy, he plays a professional turned informant when he disagrees with the way his company does business. He’s bumbling, almost moronic, and ends up getting himself in some real trouble in the end. Odd, but worth the watch. You won’t know where the movie is going until the last frame!
Couples Retreat – I’m not a big Vince Vaughn fan. To be honest, I think he plays the same character in ever movie he’s in (which I believe is just a caricature of himself), and it’s getting old. This movie is no different in that respect, but he isn’t the only main character, so he sort of gets blended in with the rest of the cast. That being said, I really enjoyed this movie. It was funny and unpredictable at times (though I think the ending was a little too easily wrapped up).
Where the Wild Things Are – This is another book I never got around to reading. Funny, considering I went to B&N after watching the movie and was able to read through the book in about 2 minutes flat (I think there’s, what, 20 words total in the book?). Based on that, you can imagine how much of a creative leap the filmmakers had to make in order to draw the story out for two hours. The movie, if you haven’t seen it already, is very dark and depressing. Max “runs away” from home (and into his imagination) because he is lonely and believes everyone thinks he’s bad. But, like the old saying, life isn’t always greener. He stumbles upon the Wild Things, who are a bunch of lonely, depressed creatures themselves. They make Max their king in hopes that he will cure their loneliness and bring them closer together. But nothing Max does seems to help, and eventually he discovers that he misses the very people he was trying to escape. Exceedingly beautiful and poignant film, even if it is a little sad. Great performance by young actor Max Records.
Movies I wanted to see but missed and will have to catch on DVD: Star Trek, Terminator Salvation, The Hangover, The Proposal, Year One, Public Enemies, Bruno, (500) Days of Summer, Funny People, District 9 (!), The Time Traveler’s Wife, Inglourious Basterds, Gamer, and Surrogates.
Movies either out now or coming out that I want to see: Law Abiding Citizen, Amelia, Astro Boy, 2012, The Blind Side, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, The Road, The Princess and the Frog, The Lovely Bones (!!!), Avatar, and Sherlock Holmes.
I’ll have to talk about books, TV shows and music in another post!
What has everyone else been up to all summer? I know a little if I follow you on Twitter or Facebook, but like I said, I haven’t been keeping up with my blogroll.
I’m much better at updating Twitter (and consequently Facebook, since my Tweets are my Status Updated on FB). So, if you haven’t already, please follow me on TWITTER!
Kyle W. Kerr
05/22/09 | Genius Mode, My Writings | 3 Comments
I have been writing this novel in one form or another since I was 15. It doesn’t have any of the original plotline left - in fact, I think the only thing that’s the same is my protagonist’s name, Simon - and there have been months and even years in between periods of working on it.
I finished it at 12:44AM this morning. Well, I REALLY finished it two days ago, but I didn’t realize it until yesterday. I was planning on adding more to the chapter I was rewriting, but I noticed it had a perfect ending where I’d left off, so that’s where I left it! You probably would’ve laughed at me, because I almost started hyperventilating when the realization struck. It’s DONE!
It’s now 133,700 words, which is about 13,000 words less than my last count, and that’s actually a good thing! It was a little long and I didn’t really want to admit it, but where it’s at now I can’t shave any more off. There was a lot in this last round I deemed unnecessary, including most of a subplot for one of the minor characters, and it all got the ax! You have to be ruthless with your baby, sometimes.
Now, it’s up to Dawn, Francine and Nikki to tell me how it reads! I’m getting copies printed this weekend at Staples, and they’ll get shipped out shortly after.
Okay, enough squealing on my part! Just wanted to let everyone know why I dropped off the face of the earth for the past couple of weeks… I WAS FINISHING MY BOOK.
I like the sound of that.
Kyle W. Kerr
04/27/09 | Books, Genius Mode, Movies, My Writings, Reviews | 4 Comments
For those of you who follow me on Facebook and/or Twitter, you’ll know all about the new love of my life, my iPhone! You’ll also know that I spent an hour typing out a blog post on my new iBlogger application… which promptly crashed as I was trying to post it. So, I’m going to try and retype as much of it as I can remember and try to post it again (I’m at work, so hopefully it doesn’t get lost again!).
It’s been a month since I started my last set of updates and I’ve written upwards of 18,000+ new words! My productivity has slowed dramatically now that I’m back at work (I’d taken a week of vacation to try and finish), but I’m still trucking along. I’ve only got one more chapter to rewrite and four others to revise! This is the closest to FINISHED my book has ever been. I’ve been plotting out my next books too, so all around the writing is going well! Cross your fingers for me that I can finish soon...
And now to the random:
THE READER came out on DVD, and it was just as amazing this time around as it was in theaters. Kate Winslet is extraordinary and no one has deserved their Academy Award more. I’m totally not biased.
I’m reading a book called BATTLE ROYALE, about a bunch of Asian students put on an island with various weapons and ordered to kill one another until only one survives. It’s a translation from either Japanese or Chinese, so the writing isn’t that good, but the story is good enough to keep me reading anyway!
The summer movie season is gearing up, starting with WOLVERINE this Friday. Be ready for my reviews coming in as I see them! I did just see 17 AGAIN and it was actually really good. Semi-predictable, but funny enough to make it worth it.
ThrillerFest is coming up in July, which I’m really excited about. It looks like it’s going to be as good or even BETTER than last year! And it’s nice to see all my friends who I only get to see once or twice a year, not to mention all of the writer eye candy! And don’t forget about all the free books! I think I got upwards of 30 last year. Let’s see if I can break that this time around! I’m going with my friend Dawn (whose wedding I’m going to in August!), which is who I went with last year and had a lot of fun! Should be a great time. And this time I get to go for the entire week versus just the long weekend. Fun!
I think that’s enough for now. Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather we’ve been having (except Dawn, who lives where it’s still SNOWING!)...!!!
Kyle W. Kerr
03/26/09 | My Writings | 7 Comments
For the past week I have been holed up at a friend’s house. There, I have no internet, no bed, no television, and a very poor cell phone signal. All I have is my computer.
In the past four days I have written over 12,000 words, completed the third part of my book, and I am now working on finishing some things for part two. When I finish that later on today, I will start going through the book chapter by chapter and updating old passages for my current voice.
Once this is completed, my book will be finished, and then it is up to three of my closest friends to tell me how it reads. After eight years of working on it, it will be the first time anyone is going to get to read it in its entirety.
If they like it, or after I’ve made any suggested changes, then it’s time to send it out to agents, some of whom have actually asked to see it upon completion.
I’m reading through this post as I’m writing it, and I know it sounds so matter-of-fact, but I’m honestly having a hard time believing what I’m typing. I’ve been working on this project for so long… it’s hard to think that it soon might be over.
Oh, I could edit this thing for the rest of my life, thinking of new and different things to write or have them do, but after eight years and falling in at about 145,000 words (which I think is just perfect for a literary novel), it’s time to let it go.
And now, I plunge into the deep end.
Kyle W. Kerr
03/9/09 | My Writings, On Writing, The Industry | 7 Comments
I think I’ve lost most of my “readers” by not updating as often as I used to, so I’m here after only two weeks instead of my usual month, which has been the norm for a while now…
I’ve finished writing new chapters for the second part of my book, and I’ve now started on Part 3. It’s going to be a relatively short PART, about 10,000 words, not including the Epilogue, which is already written. Hopefully, I can get it done in the next week. Then I need to go back to Part 2 and rearrange/edit/splice what’s there and write some new scenes. All-in-all, not much more work until it’s finished. I’ve even given myself a deadline of March 31st (which I hope to stick to… this time), and have scheduled a week of vacation at the end of the month so that it can be done. Anyone have any goats we can sacrifice… or better yet, any virgins?
The baby is being kicked out of the nest after this last edit. When I’m done with it (by the end of the month!), I plan on sending it to three of my friends (you already know who you are), so that I can get an even analysis of the book. From that, I’ll make spot edits/changes, and then it’s off to literary agent purgatory to await judgment. Hopefully my book will be able to ascend, rather than going the h-e-double-hockey-sticks route, if you catch my drift.
I know I keep saying it’s time, but ya’ll, it’s time! Other characters for other projects are whispering sweet nothings in my ears, tempting me away. And I am SO temptable at this point. At least if they were real people I might be getting laid right now. But that’s the whole point, isn’t it? If I move on to these other stories, I’ll feel like I’m cheating on the current one. This one will be scorned, bitter and abandoned, and the one I cheated on it with will be the dirty, resentful mistress, because of course I wouldn’t have TOLD either of them what I was doing, but they always find out about one another at some point! See my dilemma?
For my next set of novels, I’ve already decided to go into them as open relationships (sorry to continue with the sex analogy here, it just seemed to work so I’m running with it). I know my writing pace, so know I can work on multiple projects at once and finish two to three per year (if my life goes according to plan and I’m able to write full-time). I can do one a year for each of my YA novels, possibly another random commercial novel, and a literary novel every two years. This is something I KNOW I can do, if only I have the time.
You’ve probably noticed that I have a lot of confidence in my writing and my writing ability. I don’t know where it comes from, but it’s there, so I go with it. Now, the thing is, I have ZERO confidence that what I’m writing will sell, or that it’ll make me any money. We have had it ingrained in us how hard it is to make it in this business. Talent plays a big part (I’m not saying I’m talented, I just have confidence… I could be confident in crap, I don’t know, but I think every writer has confidence in their writing, or else they wouldn’t be doing it! Hear that, D?), but it’s also luck and timing and an amalgamation of other factors that all need to align at the same time as the planets do (meaning, rarely). I also know they say most writers never sell their first books. Well, that’s not really an option for me. I’ve spent FAR too much time on this book to never get it published… Even if I sell the rest of the books I write and make millions doing so, I’ll always be pushing this book, too.
That was a whole bunch of rambling, wasn’t it? Well, have you ever paid attention to what I call my blog on here?
Hopefully I’m doing you proud, Simon, and you’ll be satisfied enough to leave in peace. I love you, but eight years is a long time. We’ll still be friends, okay? And I’ll probably see you again in a few years, if I actually go ahead and decide to write the book from the POV of another character like I’ve been thinking about. DAMN IT! Shouldn’t have said that!
(Oh, if you subscribe to my Journal through either an RSS feed or through Email, let me know if you’re having trouble getting it when I publish… The site I use to send out the updates was recently acquired by Google, and I haven’t gone into it since then. Please let me know!)
Kyle W. Kerr
02/24/09 | Genius Mode, My Writings, On Writing, Reviews | 3 Comments
This seems to be the time I’ve subsciously chosen to blog every month, so I couldn’t disappoint the three of you who actually read this!
Okay, I’ve been a little hush-hush about this in the last couple of blog posts, but I guess it’s okay to talk about now. I have a confession to make: I’ve been writing. Yes, I KNOW. I don’t know what brought it on, so didn’t want to say anything in case it decided to go away again. But I’ve actually written more in the last month than I have in the last YEAR. Literally. I’ve gotten a few more new chapters written, and rewrote a section of another chapter I’d been dreading working on (and it was actually REALLY easy to do, to my surprise!). All-in-all, about 18,000 or so words.
I love my book, I really do, but I need to move on. I’ve been working on it in one form or another since I was in 10th grade. That’s over EIGHT years, folks. Eight years is a long time to have the same voices in your head, to live with the same people day in and day out. That’s why I’m hoping I can finish this one within the coming month and move on to some other projects. I’ve already mentioned that I won’t allow myself to work on any other (novel length) projects until this one is done, because I’ll never finish it if I do, and that’s still very much the rule. Though, IF I’m able to keep up this pace, finishing it within the coming month shouldn’t be a problem. I HOPE. I PRAY. Please, God, just let me finish. I don’t ask you for much, and all the jokes you like to play on me should warrant me some favors. At least one. I’m calling it in.
I’ve already decided on my next two projects, which are actually two beginnings to two young adult series’. The first is a fantasy series, and the other is an absolute bitch-fest. Did I talk about this in my last post? I’m not going back to read it, so I hope not. Ah well, you’re not getting any more information than that, so I guess you can hear it as many times as I want and it doesn’t matter, does it?!
Oh, did anyone happen to see a certain show this past Sunday, one featuring a flawless, bald, gold man who just so happens to be missing his genitals? THE OSCARS. So… KATE WON! I’M SO EFFING HAPPY FOR HER!! SHE SO DESERVES IT!!! I made a vow a while ago that, by the time I’m established in the world of Hollywood, if Kate hadn’t won an Oscar, I’d write a movie that would get her said deserved Oscar. Well, someone has spared me the trouble. Not that I would have minded writing it for her, but I don’t know how long it’ll be until I’m there, and I couldn’t bear seeing her Oscarless any longer! I love you, Kate! Can I have your babies?!
I’ve seen the movie TAKEN, starring Liam Neeson, twice now. It’s the one about an ex-CIA agent whose daughter gets kidnapped in Paris and sold into sex trafficking. The trailers for the movie looked amazing, so I was really excited about it. Honestly, the first time I saw it I was a little disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good movie, but I was hoping for/expecting something a little DEEPER, considering who the star was. But it was exactly the kind of movie you’d expect it to be. The second time I saw it I left those hopes at the door and just enjoyed the movie for what it was, and that time walked out much more satisfied! I’d definitely recommend it to anyone looking for something with a few well-placed shocks and Liam Neeson kicking ass along the way!
Now, I need to pose a question to all of my writer friends out there, and I would really appreciate an answer from all who have the time! A little backstory first, though…
I hate editing. Editing in the general sense of the word, anyway. When I write, I edit as I go, fleshing out sentences and paragraphs and pages, reworking dialogue until it has a natural sounding flow, making sure words aren’t repeated too often or too close together. In starting a new day of work, I always reread what I’ve already written in that chapter, checking my flow and rhythm, wording, and so on. By the time I’m done with my “first draft,” I’d say it’s akin to most other writer’s third or fourth drafts. Depending on the length, it may have been “edited” twenty-thirty times already. That being said, I hate having to go back over work I’ve already written and deemed finished, because I’m a picker. I could pick and pick at words and sentences until the earth dies, and I could pick some more after, too. I feel like I’ve already done the work and shouldn’t trouble going over it again. It’s finished. Most of my short stories—oh, who am I kidding? ALL of my short stories are technically “first drafts.”
My question is, do you actually ENJOY editing/revising? I’ve heard both arguments, but am curious to what you think. Some say revising brings out the TRUE story, while others say you’re just moving around words and beating the dead horse more dead. You know what I mean. What’s your opinion on editing/revising?
Kyle W. Kerr
01/25/09 | Books, Genius Mode, My Writings, Reviews | 4 Comments
First, the caving in part: We all know how much I’m obsessed with Harry Potter. It’s about the worst kept secret in the world that I worship the ground Jo walks on (yes, we’re on a first name basis, Jo and I), and would like nothing more than to have her babies. Might be a little complicated, but with the help of some magic, I think we can get it done.
Well, something’s been happening in the last few years: another phenomenon was born. I’ve been mostly ignoring it, somewhat because I was already so involved with the characters of too many series’ (Harry Potter, The Sword of Truth, the Inheritance Cycle, etc…), but mainly because the author is being hailed as “The New JK Rowling”, which is simply heresy as far as I’m concerned.
The author in question? Stephenie Meyer. The books she wrote? The Twilight Saga.
I said I would never read these books. I didn’t want to jump on the bandwagon, and I felt like I would be cheating on Jo and Harry if I did. Seriously, I felt that strongly about it. But, as the title of this post states, I finally caved in, having asked for and received all four novels in the Twilight series for Christmas.
Let’s just say that I started reading the books about two weeks ago, and I’m already on book four. I have REALLY been enjoying them. They’re absolutely nothing like Harry Potter, obviously, but they’re just as easy a read. I’ve never been a HUGE fan of the vampire stuff, but there’s something about this new mythology that Stephenie has created that is, for lack of a better word, fascinating. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’m just going to say that she takes all of our ideas about vampires and their culture and completely turns it on its ear. She has new answers for everything, including but not limited to why they don’t go out in the sun, and it’s all proof of a really clever and talented writer.
The thing I like most about the books, and it’s something I imagine most of the readers really respond to, is the love between the story’s main characters, Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. The forbidden love between vampire and human, “the lion falling in love with the lamb” as Stephenie so eloquently puts it, is both beautiful, heartbreaking, and completely hot. Can’t believe I’m swooning over a YA fantasy novel! If you’ve read the books, you’ll know what I mean.
The stories are full of passion, love, fierce rivalry, betrayal, and suspense. I’m kind of disappointed that I didn’t start reading the books while the movie was still in theaters, because you all know I think every movie should be viewed in a theater environment, but it’s something I’ll definitely check out on DVD when it comes out. I’m only at the beginning of the fourth book, but I’m sure it’s going to be a doozy, at least from what I’ve heard.
Now, for the second part: I’m not saying that I’ve broken through whatever barrier has been keeping me from writing, but I completed the chapter I began back in October and have also written a completely new chapter in the last week alone. This part is going to be very short, because I don’t want to jinx whatever is going on, and I don’t want to put any false hope behind my sudden writing spurt. However, I will say that it felt nice to finish something again, and then to write something completely new in such a short amount of time. For instance, yesterday alone I wrote over 2200 words, which was the completion of the new chapter. I haven’t been giving myself the time to write so much, which is part of the reason why it’s been going so slow. I just need to prioritize, then everything will be okay.
Thanks again to everyone who commented on my last post, or wrote to me personally. It’s not easy admitting one’s faults, but the support you have all shown me has truly helped. Hopefully you won’t have to read anymore of the woe-is-me posts for a very long time, if ever again, but I hold no promises. Sometimes it just helps to get it all off your chest.
For those of my writer friends who also have blogs, don’t take it personally that I haven’t commented on your sites in so long. It’s hard to explain, but when things become stressful, even seeing a buildup of RSS reeds can feel like overwhelming pressure. So, I have gone through and cleared all of the backlogs, and plan on coming back to them anew. I’ll be back at your next new post and hopefully I won’t disappear like that again, stress permitting. I love you guys!
Now, to end this post on a lighter note, I’ve also recently discovered David Sedaris. For those of you who know me, you’ll know that David has exactly my sense of humor. I’ve listen to two of his CDs, one a live recording of him at Carnegie Hall, and the other the audio version of his book Holidays On Ice, both of which were completely hilarious. Below, you’ll find a clip of him on David Letterman, reading one of his most humorous essays. Enjoy!
Kyle W. Kerr
09/12/08 | Genius Mode, Idiot Mode, Maui, My Writings, Procrastination | 3 Comments
[Please note that there is ANOTHER new post under this one as well!]
I suck. Honestly, I’m not kidding. I don’t know how I’m supposed to get published if I don’t write, and I haven’t been. Not for months now. I could talk about all of the stresses I’ve been having in my life lately, but they’d all sound oddly like excuses, which is exactly what they’d be. There have been many writers before who have kept going through tough times (*cough*Jo Rowling*cough*), so what do I have to say for myself? I suck.
Three weeks ago I made the 12 hour trip from Philadelphia to Honolulu for the Maui Writers Conference and Retreat (which was obviously on hiatus from Maui!). It was my second time attending the conference and retreat, and I just have to say… it was weird. I didn’t like having it in Honolulu. It’s hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced the retreat in Maui, but there’s this sort of spiritual ambiance about that island, not to mention the fact that you are so secluded and are almost forced to interact with all of the other retreaters (which is a DEFINITE plus!). But that didn’t happen this year. Yes, I walked away with new friends (hi Edna, Kim, Ryan, Tracy and Linda!), but I don’t think we were around each other enough. Last year, I ate with someone new almost every meal, and had drinks every night. This year (as much as I love them!), I spent most of my time with my roommates, who I’d met last year. It was just off…
Besides that, the retreat itself was amazing. I studied alongside five other hand-picked students in a Masters Class with NYT bestselling author Steve Berry, who is a master craftsman himself. I had heard horror stories about him teaching a previous retreat in Fiji—something about half the class winding up in tears?—but I have to say that I welcomed the criticism. As he likes to put it, you don’t become a better writer by people telling you how amazing you are all the time. And Steve was nothing but honest, definitely giving compliments when necessary, but always keeping it real. Surprisingly, there were no tears (at least not IN class, anyway!), and I believe that we have all walked away better writers.
I was sort of shocked that Steve was fairly complimentary of my work. Keep in mind my abovementioned statement of him being a hard-ass when I say… I was the only writer in the class that he complimented TO THE CLASS. We were sitting there, going over my writing sample, when he actually said “This boy can write.” (I almost added an exclamation mark there, but Steve doesn’t really talk in exclamation marks and he would probably die if I ever used one in my writing, anyway… and yes, I can see the four I’ve already used! Five… Damn.) His biggest criticism of my writing was that I need to work on structure, something I wholeheartedly agree with. He even wrote a special dedication in the book of his I had him sign: “You’re going to make it.”
I hope so!
The thing is, I need to get back into the swing of things. I still need to rewrite the entire second half of my book (about 40 pages worth… it’s a short second half), and add three or four new chapters to the first half, which will help with pacing and character development. Plus, the general editing that needs to be done for tightening and strengthening my prose. I’ve got a bit of work to do, obviously, and it needs to be done soon. I’ve even given myself a deadline to finish all rewrites and edits by the end of October, which is 49 days from now. Now, I’ve just got to sit down and DO IT!
It was nice being able to see so many amazing writers. Not only did I get to sit in the presence of Steve Berry for hours a day, but I got to be around David Morrell (the father of RAMBO), John Lescroart, William Broadbent, William Martin, Ann Hood, and my retreat teacher from last year and personal friend, Gary Braver. I was hoping to get to see James Rollins again, who I met last year in Maui and actually had drinks with at ThrillerFest in July, but he had to pull out at the last minute because of an unfortunate family emergency. He and his family are on my mind every day.
Now, for any of you who know me, this next bit may come as a shock: I WENT SURFING. Yes, me, in the ocean, on a little board. I’ll let you get the laughs out before we proceed.
Not only did I go surfing, but I went surfing with THREE BESTSELLING AUTHORS! Steve, John Lescroart and Bill Broadbent joined me with Steve’s wife, Liz, a friend of hers and the woman’s husband, and another member of my retreat class, Kim, who organized our little expedition. That’s a pretty cool story to be able to tell, right?
(I’ll save the embarrassing pictures for myself!
From far left: Liz, her friend, me, Liz’s friend’s husband, Bill, John, Steve, and Kim… muscle guy with no shirt is our instructor, obviously)
Okay, let’s just say that having long hair does not help in the slightest. And, being a rather bigger boy (*sigh*), I got tired REAL fast. I didn’t realize how much energy it would take just to paddle out to the surfing point! I don’t think I’ve ever sweated so much in such a short period of time. Did it help that I was in cold water? Not really. While all of the skinny people were having a blast, I was ready to just die. I fell off the board a couple of times (five), and it’s very hard to get back onto it when you’re not allowed to put your feet on the ocean floor. Why weren’t we, you ask? Because it was covered with such wonderful things as coral, broken shells, sea urchins, and all manner of lovely things that you can cut your feet on and attract our little friends, the sharks. There was one instance when I was having a particularly difficult time getting back on the board, when the instructor pulled up beside me for encouragement. I had my arms stretched across the board and the top of my chest on, but couldn’t manage more than that. “One chest at a time!” was his helpful tip. I could only look at him with an expression I’m sure would have killed puppies. Then he said, “One tit at a time!” Ah, now I got you, thanks.
By the time we were heading into shore, I was so exhausted that I could hardly move, let alone paddle. So, our instructor pulled up next to me, put his foot on my board, and literally “toe’d” me into shore.
Let’s just say that it will be a while until I get back on a surfboard again. Maybe next year, if I’ve lost 100 pounds and can bench-press a small whale.
Kyle W. Kerr
06/22/08 | Awesome, Books, My Writings | 3 Comments
It’s been a month since my last update. Why? Because I don’t really have anything to say. The writing honestly hasn’t been going very well, and I just haven’t wanted to talk about it. It’s not that what I’m writing is bad, but the fact that I’m NOT WRITING. I’ve tried to figure out what my problem is, but the truth alludes me. I don’t know what’s wrong. Hopefully, it’ll correct itself soon, and I can finish my book at some point.
One of the things keeping me sane in my little bout of no writing is my work on the film news site, Filmonic. It was actually an outlet I never knew I needed, not until I had it. I love movies, more than any person I know. I’d go to the movies several times a week if I could afford it. I’ve even watched the special features on some movies MORE TIMES THAN I’VE WATCHED THE ACTUAL MOVIE. Anyone who knows me knows that I have ambitions of writing a screenplay. It sounds hokey, but I love everything about writing, and most forms of it. I’ve written a novel, many short stories, and even a short screenplay. They are all satisfying to write, and immensely challenging in their own rights. With a novel, you have to have a good storyline, intriguing characters, and sustainability for 80,000+ words. A short story needs the same first two characteristics, but you need to do it in a much more condensed form. Screenplays, along with all of the characteristics of a novel, coupled with a little shorter format (about 90-110 pages) and more of a visual impact, has its own challenges. Challenges I’m very much willing—and eager!—to undertake…!
All of that being said, I love movies. I love finding out little tidbits about movies in production, all of that behind-the-scenes stuff, and I’m a self proclaimed Movie Trailer Whore. The day I set foot on a movie set is the day my life is complete. (Well, I’m assuming that I would have already published a novel by that point! )
What’s cool is that the site has already been recognized by IMDb and PerezHilton.com (whose plug sent so many viewers to the site that it crashed our server!). It’s on its way to becoming a great site, and that’s a good thing. I’m hoping that, once the site gets big enough, that I can apply to the Broadcast Film Critics Association (since I do all of the movie reviews for the site), which would bring a great credibility to the site! We just have to hope that the site continues to grow as rapidly as it has been!
IN OTHER NEWS:
On July 10, I’m heading to NYC to attend ThrillerFest. NO, it’s not a Michael Jackson gathering, but a convention for thriller writers! Now, I’m not a thriller writer, but I do read thrillers. Plus, why would I give up the chance to rub elbows with some of the best known authors in the world? Some of the people I’ll be meeting? Maybe you’ve heard of them: JAMES PATTERSON, SANDRA BROWN, JAMES ROLLINS, STEVE BERRY, DAVID MORRELL, LEE CHILD… the list goes on. If I don’t die on the spot, I’ll have to work on my vocal skills… ie, making sure I can talk, and not simply squeak or drool at them. I’m sure they’re used to that reaction, but I’d rather avoid it if I could!
There are going to be two days of sessions, ranging in all topics about writing, storytelling, and publishing, and then an awards banquet at the end of the second night (which I’ll also be attending)! I’m super excited about it!
I’m actually reading my first ever James Patterson book right now, and it’s really good! It’s called When the Wind Blows, and it’s about genetic experiments on children that turn them into super smart halfbreeds. You heard right, they’re half human, half bird (they have wings). About 100 pages in and it’s got me hooked. And, it’s a pretty quick read!
Also, Entertainment Weekly has released a list of 100 Best Books Published Since 1983. You’ll find that list below, but I have to say… I’ve only read EIGHT of the books! Well, eight and a half (I never finished William Gibson’s Neuromancer). I’ll highlight my pitiful reading list in bold. How many have you read?
1. The Road, Cormac McCarthy (2006)
2. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling (2000)
3. Beloved, Toni Morrison (1987)
4. The Liars’ Club, Mary Karr (1995)
5. American Pastoral, Philip Roth (1997)
6. Mystic River, Dennis Lehane (2001)
7. Maus, Art Spiegelman (1986/1991)
8. Selected Stories, Alice Munro (1996)
9. Cold Mountain, Charles Frazier (1997)
10. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Haruki Murakami (1997)
11. Into Thin Air, Jon Krakauer (1997)
12. Blindness, José Saramago (1998)
13. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (1986-87)
14. Black Water, Joyce Carol Oates (1992)
15. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, Dave Eggers (2000)
16. The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood (1986)
17. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel García Márquez (1988)
18. Rabbit at Rest, John Updike (1990)
19. On Beauty, Zadie Smith (2005)
20. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding (1998)
21. On Writing, Stephen King (2000)
22. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot Díaz (2007)
23. The Ghost Road, Pat Barker (1996)
24. Lonesome Dove, Larry McMurtry (1985)
25. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (1989)
26. Neuromancer, William Gibson (1984) (never did get to the mancer part! LOL)
27. Possession, A.S. Byatt (1990)
28. Naked, David Sedaris (1997)
29. Bel Canto, Anne Patchett (2001)
30. Case Histories, Kate Atkinson (2004)
31. The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien (1990)
32. Parting the Waters, Taylor Branch (1988)
33. The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion (2005)
34. The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold (2002)
35. The Line of Beauty, Alan Hollinghurst (2004)
36. Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt (1996)
37. Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi (2003)
38. Birds of America, Lorrie Moore (1998)
39. Interpreter of Maladies, Jhumpa Lahiri (2000)
40. His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman (1995-2000) (This is technically THREE books!)
41. The House on Mango Street, Sandra Cisneros (1984)
42. LaBrava, Elmore Leonard (1983)
43. Borrowed Time, Paul Monette (1988)
44. Praying for Sheetrock, Melissa Fay Greene (1991)
45. Eva Luna, Isabel Allende (1988)
46. Sandman, Neil Gaiman (1988-1996)
47. World’s Fair, E.L. Doctorow (1985)
48. The Poisonwood Bible, Barbara Kingsolver (1998)
49. Clockers, Richard Price (1992)
50. The Corrections, Jonathan Franzen (2001)
51. The Journalist and the Murderer, Janet Malcom (1990)
52. Waiting to Exhale, Terry McMillan (1992)
53. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon (2000)
54. Jimmy Corrigan, Chris Ware (2000)
55. The Glass Castle, Jeannette Walls (2006)
56. The Night Manager, John le Carré (1993)
57. The Bonfire of the Vanities, Tom Wolfe (1987)
58. Drop City, TC Boyle (2003)
59. Krik? Krak!, Edwidge Danticat (1995)
60. Nickel & Dimed, Barbara Ehrenreich (2001)
61. Money, Martin Amis (1985)
62. Last Train To Memphis, Peter Guralnick (1994)
63. Pastoralia, George Saunders (2000)
64. Underworld, Don DeLillo (1997)
65. The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
66. A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, David Foster Wallace (1997)
67. The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini (2003)
68. Fun Home, Alison Bechdel (2006)
69. Secret History, Donna Tartt (1992)
70. Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell (2004)
71. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, Ann Fadiman (1997)
72. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon (2003)
73. A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving (1989)
74. Friday Night Lights, H.G. Bissinger (1990)
75. Cathedral, Raymond Carver (1983)
76. A Sight for Sore Eyes, Ruth Rendell (1998)
77. The Remains of the Day, Kazuo Ishiguro (1989)
78. Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert (2006)
79. The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell (2000)
80. Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney (1984)
81. Backlash, Susan Faludi (1991)
82. Atonement, Ian McEwan (2002)
83. The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields (1994)
84. Holes, Louis Sachar (1998)
85. Gilead, Marilynne Robinson (2004)
86. And the Band Played On, Randy Shilts (1987)
87. The Ruins, Scott Smith (2006)
88. High Fidelity, Nick Hornby (1995)
89. Close Range, Annie Proulx (1999)
90. Comfort Me With Apples, Ruth Reichl (2001)
91. Random Family, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc (2003)
92. Presumed Innocent, Scott Turow (1987)
93. A Thousand Acres, Jane Smiley (1991)
94. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser (2001)
95. Kaaterskill Falls, Allegra Goodman (1998)
96. The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown (2003)
97. Jesus’ Son, Denis Johnson (1992)
98. The Predators’ Ball, Connie Bruck (1988)
99. Practical Magic, Alice Hoffman (1995)
100. America (the Book), Jon Stewart/Daily Show (2004)
Kyle W. Kerr
05/12/08 | Genius Mode, My Writings | 11 Comments
Bad news first: My screenplay didn’t get chosen for the ‘Locker 13” competition. Damn. What else is new? Moving on.
I haven’t written anything for my novel in over a month. (In keeping with bad news.) But, I’m looking to change that, and soon. Like, now. I’m moving back to Pennsylvania in a couple of weeks, so am in this sort of limbo… I can’t get a job to have something to do, because I’m leaving, so I basically sit around my apartment, surf the internet, read, watch TV and movies, and generally putz around. Not very productive.
I need to write, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Starting today, I will be a writing machine. Or, I’ll try to be anyway. A number of my blogging writer friends have been talking about goals and such lately, and that’s what I need to focus on. I’ve already broken down the book into individual chapters, so that it is far less daunting to go through and edit each chapter instead of going in to edit the entire book at once. It’s a lot more reassuring to see that you have edited 10 pages and you have 15 to go instead of having edited 10 pages and you have 325 to go. Right?
Well, the screenplay thing worked in the way I’d hoped it would, though, giving me the confidence to move on to bigger projects. My friend Dawn and I will be working on a screenplay soon, which is all very exciting… AND, I’ve decided that I want to start writing a TV show. (Yes, Pam, some other writers ARE that ambitious!)
Surprised to hear that? It’s only a natural progression of thought, honestly, and I’m not going to be creating something from scratch. The show will be based on the characters of my novel, Love, Simon (hey, I’ve spent almost 8 years with these characters… you can’t blame me for not wanting to give them up!), though with a different storyline. I mean, one of the main characters dies in the book (I’m not ruining anything, you learn about it in the first paragraph of the book! Go to the Writing section of my website to check it out…!), and we obviously wouldn’t want that to happen in the show. At least not right away… And I have some ideas that would make the show really dramatic and witty at the same time, which I think would be perfect material for a network like The CW. Teen drama… takes me back to my Dawson’s Creek days!
I’m hoping to have the pilot script written in the next couple of months, after I’ve plotted out a little of the first season. No, I’m not crazy. I know how hard these industries are. BUT, you have to be prepared when you go in. All I’m doing is planning and preparing.
It’s odd. I find I have more ideas than I know what to do with. At the pace I’m writing, I wonder if I’ll ever get to all of the other projects I have planned. Not only do I have to finish my current novel-in-progress, but I have three more literary novels in mind, all of which have some plotting done on them. I also have a fantasy trilogy that is halfway plotted out, which I don’t know when I’ll get the chance to write… On top of that, I have another screenplay that’s been fully plotted out for a while now and I just need to sit down and write the damn thing. Throw on the screenplay that Dawn and I will be starting soon and the TV show I want to start, and I’m exhausted just thinking about it. That’s about EIGHT projects I have in various stages of development and production.
Which is why I need to learn to write faster.
And now I leave you to do just that.
Kyle W. Kerr
04/25/08 | Genius Mode, My Writings | 10 Comments
I finished the rewrite of my script!
(I’m also rewriting this POST, because, apparently, you have to hit submit BEFORE you close the window!)
Just for a little background on the competition, here’s a little information from their site:
Locker 13 will be an anthology feature film comprised of 6 vignettes along the lines of “Four Rooms”, “Short Cuts”, “The Red Violin”, or “A Night on Earth”. 6 award-winning directors will take the top six 10-15 page scripts submitted to this site, shoot them and then combine them to make one feature length film.
We are currently looking for quality scripts with the following criteria:
1. Answer the question, what’s in Locker 13? Locker 13 can be anywhere, a school, a bus station, an airport...a locker room. Anywhere, all that matters is that a Locker with the number 13 is part of the story. What is your story?
2. Genre is open.
3. The Rating can be left open right now, but we may ask the scripts be toned down so that we can shoot for a PG or PG-13 rating.
4. Limit the script to 1-3 locations.
5. Limit the script to 1-6 main characters, no crowd scenes.
6. The script has to have a beginning, a middle and an end.
7. No explosions, little to no special FX.
8. Think LOW BUDGET.
9. 10-15 pages in length.
Okay, there IS a crowd scene in the script, but I assure you it’s necessary!
Be aware that it has some disturbing content. YOU WERE WARNED.
For those of you who wish to read it, click here.
Keep in mind that this is my first attempt at writing a screenplay, so constructive criticism is welcome if you wish to give it!
Kyle W. Kerr
04/15/08 | Genius Mode, My Writings | 7 Comments
Just a quick update to show I haven’t died.
Today, April 15, is my official last day of classes. All that I have left to do is a final next Friday and I’m DONE with this infernal business program FOREVER. I will finally be able to concentrate on my writing, which should hopefully benefit from a jump in productivity once I don’t have tests and papers to worry about!
Lately, I haven’t been working on my novel, but I have been working… on my first screenplay!
For anyone who knows me, you know I’m fairly proficient at writing short stories (which don’t normally turn out very short, but what can I say?), so I figured I would try my hand at a short film (ie. a short screenplay). Right now it’s a 10 page completed first draft. After I finish the second draft, which includes an almost complete rewrite of the pivotal scene to incorporate a plot change, it’s going to be upwards of 13-15 pages.
This is actually for a competition to have my screenplay turned into a short film, which would be included in a short film anthology. If they choose my script, an award winning director (which, honestly, could mean anything!) will shoot my script, which will hopefully then be shown at Cannes (that’s their plan, anyway!). Not only will it be filmed, but I would also get 2% of the gross profits from the movie… that would be a great bonus, but the honor would be in having the script made and being able to say my script was chosen for this project and actually filmed, which would (hopefully) give me an in when moving on to feature length scripts.
I will be posting the entire script once I have finalized it, which has to be by the end of the month (but will likely happen within a week!). Keep a lookout for it!
Kyle W. Kerr
03/31/08 | My Writings | 3 Comments
Starting out with the bad news here: I didn’t get into Grad School. I don’t really know why (I was rejected through the use of a form letter). Understandably, I’m sad, but I’m not really devastated. I sort of have this mantra of “hope for the best, plan for the worst,” so I had been setting myself up for a loss from the word go. I do wish that I could have had some feedback, though, and can only hope that there was an exceptionally high number of well qualified applicants this year and yes, they regret not being able to take me, but they just couldn’t fit in everybody and I lost out by one spot. Or something like that.
But, sadly enough, as a writer I’m used to rejections. This is a business where “no” is heard way more often than “yes”, and we’re warned of that right from the off (at least I was; I can’t speak for everyone. O, but to live in ignorance!). It’s just one more piece of shit to throw into the inferno that is my life, or should I say career…? The odds are against us from the very beginning, and it’s to the point where I have to hope that others fail so that I might have better chances at success. With the advent of self-publishing and the internet, everyone thinks they can write a book (Paris Hilton, anyone?), and, even though there have never been so many people on earth, there have also never been so many would-be writers, either. Think about it. Even if one half of one percent of people wanted to be writers, that’s still 30 MILLION people I have to compete with.
The keys are persistence and—hopefully—talent. As awful as it is, I’ve come to the point where rejection seems to roll off my back. I opened the rejection letter from Emerson and, after a slight pang, it was more Eh. Really. I expect to fail, and every acceptance is somewhat of a shock. Yet I continue to write. Why? Because I love it, and I wouldn’t be able to stop even if I wanted to. It’s ingrained in me, and it doesn’t look like it’s ever going to leave, so I keep going. I’m aim to persevere. And I’m a stubborn little bastard (just ask my mother).
I try to write every day. It’s been hard working on my novel lately, so I write in other ways. Not only do I have the novel in the works, but I work on short stories, I write for three different blogs (this one, Yeah, Great Blog..., and Filmonic), and I’ve even done a little work on my second novel (not much… mostly planning, but I have started the first chapter). And, as always, I continue to read, ever broadening my mind, ever absorbing new words and voices and writing styles.
There are as number of things going for me, I think. I discovered my passion relatively early. No, I didn’t start writing little kid stories when I was 7, but I did start when I was 14, and that’s pretty good. I’ve had all of those years to write crap, and I feel that I’ve reached a point where I write in my own voice and don’t emulate my favorite authors/books. I have a great support system of family and friends and other writers, people I trust to tell me that my shit doesn’t smell like the roses I thought it did. I’m widely read, and read as often as humanly possible (taking schoolwork into consideration, as always!). I like to think I understand what constitutes a good story, and have the ability to provide/create one. And, most importantly, I still have many years left to fail. As much as I would like to have been published yesterday already, I know it’ll happen in due time. Sounds oddly optimistic for a writer (and for me especially), but I have faith in myself and in my talents as a writer. I know something is just around the corner, and I can’t wait to see what it is.
Kyle W. Kerr
03/17/08 | My Writings | 0 Comments
London was amazing, and it was such a creatively invigorating place to be that I would love to be there on a more permanent basis. I have always said that, once I am well off enough to afford it, I am going to buy a flat in London, and this trip only helped to cement that thought. There was this little pub I found right near my hotel that seemed to have the perfect balance of synergy and charm/ambiance that made it a veritable melting pot for my imagination. If only there was a way of transporting that place, as well as its employees and clientele (which added to the overall effectiveness of the place), to Boston, I would only be too happy…! I guess I’m just going to have to find a similar place here. Ah well.
While I was over there, I didn’t get as much writing done as I would have liked. I mean, it was ridiculous of me to think that I wouldn’t be distracted by the lure of the city to have any significant amount of time to concentrate on writing. (I guess I’ll have to go for an extended stay next time!) I was able to finish a short story I had been working on called Frozen Innocence, which is told from the point-of-view of a pedophile (who refuses to believe he IS one). Now, before you start thinking weird and disgusting things about me, there was a point behind delving into such a character: one of the characters in my novel is abused as a child, and I wanted to see what would go into such abuse. It was necessary for me to see what happens on the other side of abuse before I could effectively write it from the victim’s side of things, and I think this really helped.
As far as Simon goes, though, I haven’t had much time to work on him, unfortunately. I think I just really hate the revision process. If I sit down and start writing fresh, stuff flows, but when I go about revising something I wrote three years ago, the flow is more sludge than water. I have heard many writers talk about the joys of revision, and how it’s their favorite part of the process. Well, if only that were true for me. When I write something, I usually edit as I go, so that the end result is usually fairly polished. I put so much effort into THAT, that the thought of going back over it is often too much to handle. I think I just need to get over it. I mean, there are times when I enjoy it, but then there are other times…
School is going to end within the next month and a half, and I will never have to worry about going to classes again, and this excites me to no end. I have always been about work, and school was only a means to that end. I love to work; it’s when I’m happiest. It is also a time of high productivity where my writing is concerned, because I don’t have tests and projects and papers looming over my head. Work is work, and it stays in the office (at least for most people it does… but I’m not intending to be a lawyer any time soon), so I get a lot of ‘me’ time to work on my writing. I know this is true because of past experiences… those two times I was on co-op (6-month full-time working periods during my four years at this school) were my best writing times in years. It’s the schooling that bogs me down, and that’s going to end in May. Thank god.
So, as ever I keep plodding along. Hopefully I get some time to write soon, because Simon is getting restless.
Kyle W. Kerr
02/29/08 | My Writings | 0 Comments
It’s now the end of February, and ONCE AGAIN I have missed one of my own personal writing deadlines. I was on a real kick for a while there, but it seems to have fallen off again as of late. I haven’t done anything for Simon in about two weeks.
What happened? It was going so well! I don’t really know, but I need a recharge. Maybe it’s the monotony of life anymore, just waiting for school to be over so life can begin. Who knows.
In an attempt to break up the drudgery of life, I have decided a change of scenery is in order to reinvigorate my mojo (since Dawn won’t share him!). So, I’m hopping the pond to Simon’s hometown, actually… a little place called London. Maybe you’ve heard of it?
I will be there for about nine days, with a day trip to Edinburgh (maybe I’ll see Jo Rowling!). Guys, I’m SO excited! I love London. I’ve only been there once before, and only for a couple of days, but it was so wonderful that it has been engrained into my very being. The moment I have some extra income, the first thing I’m going to do (after doing the responsible things and paying down my school loans and other debt… boo) is buying a flat in London. It’s always been a dream of mine!
Anyway, that aside… I am going to spend the next nine days relaxing in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and concentrating on my writing. Hopefully, Simon will come to me more naturally in his home town than ever before. He’s got a lot to tell me, that boy has. I’m the only one that’ll listen to him right now, and his story needs to be told to the world. With any luck, a good chunk of it will be ready when I get back, and the book can be finished not too long after.
Keep your fingers crossed for me!
I don’t know if I’m going to be able to update while I’m away… I’m sure I’ll find an internet connection somewhere. But, if I don’t, I’ll see you all in a couple weeks!
Kyle W. Kerr
02/5/08 | Genius Mode, My Writings | 2 Comments
So, I had a new Journal entry all prepared to post the other day establishing my failure as a writer… meaning, I was lacking some serious motivation.
I knew exactly where the story needed to go, how I was going to get there, and what I needed to do to get it done… yet, for the life of me I couldn’t do it. It just wasn’t working for some reason. I would open a file and just stare at it, get frustrated, and end up closing it without making any progress (unless you count the frustration… I had succeeded at that!).
A lot of people were telling me how promising the story was, how promising I was as a writer… and I had an agent interested in the book! What was wrong with me?!
Well, the only thing I can think of to account for my lack of motivation is that fact that I’m sort of stuck in a place I really don’t want to be anymore. Over the years, writing has become more and more of a driving force in my life, yet here I am, trying to finish my business degree. I don’t want to be in business anymore, but, with only four months until I graduate, it would be a grade-A stupid decision to drop out, or even to switch my major. So, I’ve trekked on. But I think it took a serious mental toll; it was sucking the soul right out of me, and it got to be a cold and frightening place.
Yet, I realize now that it’s all going to be over VERY SOON. I won’t have to deal with business classes anymore, and hopefully I’ll be heading straight into the Creative Writing Graduate Program at Emerson College in the Fall.
Plus, I also realized… I just love to write. That seems like such a DUH statement, but it really hadn’t occurred to me to think of it like that. Yes, I’m stuck in these business classes right now, but there’s an escape! When I don’t want to be in that mindset, I can switch to Writer-Kyle, and everything is okay again.
So, I’m happy to say that, in the last week alone, I have finalized three more chapters of my novel, and I’m in the process of getting the fourth one going. It has been going REALLY well, and I think Simon is once again talking through me, as he was doing in the beginning. Now, I just have to be there and be ready for when he starts talking.
All-in-all, it’s been a good week. Let’s hope that the momentum (and the motivation, for GOD sakes!) keeps on the up and up.
With any luck, Love, Simon will be done by the end of February, and be ready to send out to agents.
Keep me in your prayers!
Kyle W. Kerr
01/6/08 | General, Genius Mode, My Writings | 0 Comments
…apply to Grad School? Yes. Yes I did.
As of midnight on Saturday, January 5th, 2008, I am officially an applicant for the Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing at Emerson College here in Boston.
Okay, now that I got that out… I can say that I’m really excited. It has been really difficult finishing my degree in Business Administration, knowing that my life if going to be devoted to writing. If I get in, I’ll be around people like me for a change. You have no idea how utterly boring it is to be in a room full of people who have nothing but business on the brain. It’s a miracle I’ve been able to last as long as I have. Seriously, I’m going to need some serious detox come May.
So, because I had to go through the process of writing it, I’m going to include my admissions essay in this post. Also, if you’d like to read my writing sample, click here.
The essay question asks us to talk about our short- and long-term goals. Well, you can’t really talk about the future without first mentioning the past.
You’re going to receive a lot of letters from applicants who loudly proclaim that their destiny as a writer began when they were seven years old; they can’t remember a time when they didn’t have a pen in their hand and a story on the page. For me, that couldn’t be further from the truth. What’s more, there was actually a time when I gave up reading for pleasure altogether. It’s a thought that sends shudders through my body now, but it happened nonetheless.
In fact, I always thought I was destined for a life as a high-powered executive. I started working odd jobs under the table by the age of ten and opened my first business three years later. In high school, I was vice-president of our local chapter of the Future Business Leaders of America, Bill Gates was my idol, and I was a huge fan of The Donald. And there was no hesitation when I filled out my application for an undergraduate degree in Business Administration. All of this aided in my eventual plan of becoming a millionaire by the time I was twenty-five.
Yet the more I imagined my life, the more those dreams of boardroom domination started to depict me scribbling away in my steno notepad instead of listening to the latest income statement reports. Characters and plot started to invade my consciousness during classes, making it even more difficult to focus on learning about product cannibalization and sales forecasting. My blue ballpoint pen slowly evolved into a feather quill and inkwell, and, with only a few short months until I graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in business, I can think of nothing but finishing my book.
The change actually started to take root when I was in eighth grade. My English teacher had us keep a little journal with even littler stories in it. Those tiny paragraph- and page-sized stories grew to be several pages long, to ten thousand word novelettes, and eventually to a 100,000 word novel, of which I am currently writing the second draft.
My vision of future life now consists entirely of writing. I have become one of those above mentioned applicants, and I can’t imagine a future without a pen in my hand and a story on the page.
At the moment, the most important thing is to finish my novel. After attending the 2007 Maui Writers Conference and Retreat, I have an even greater understanding of where the story needs to go, and it has even garnered the attention of an agent. The first inklings of the novel actually began when I was fifteen and, several hundred thousand words later, it has evolved into its current form.
Once the novel is completed—which, God willing, will be in the next couple months—I plan on starting work on a screenplay. Movies have always been a big part of my life. Even when books momentarily fell off the radar, my love of film never faltered. It is another dream of mine to be able to write major motion pictures, to be a part of the movie making process, and eventually see my work on the big screen.
Even though I have never had any formal training in writing—aside from basic English courses—I have learned my craft through reading other works and the act of writing itself. However, I have reached the crossroads in my life and wish to pursue writing as a career; I feel a more in-depth knowledge of the language and the craft is necessary. I love everything to do with the written word, and everything so far has been based on instinct. Though my instinct has served me well thus far, writing is an ever evolving craft, and I would never be so naïve to say I have nothing left to learn. This is why I’m pursuing an education in one of the greatest Creative Writing programs in the country.
Not only will I gain from an Emerson education, but there is a lot I can contribute in return. For the last three years, I have been a member of a student writers group here at Northeastern University, and have been on the executive board the last two. Through this group, and through my experiences at the Maui Writers Retreat, I have learned to work closely with other writers and have mastered the form of constructive criticism. I am fully prepared to help my fellow students in any way I can, as I try to do in all aspects of my life.
I am also very open to trying new things. New mediums and experimental genres excite me to no end, and I have even dabbled in a few of them already. Flash fiction, column writing, screenplays, novels, novellas, memoirs, stage plays, and short stories; to all these I bring my enthusiasm and my willingness to experiment and learn. Writing has become my life—it is my life, will always be my life—and it would be forever enhanced with an Emerson education.
Thank you for considering my application for admission.
Wish me luck…! I’ll let everyone know the outcome as soon as I do!!!
Kyle W. Kerr
12/27/07 | Awesome, Genius Mode, My Writings | 0 Comments
I have declared 2008 to be the Year of the Book…!
(Feel free to post this on your own site! Just click on the picture for links.)
This is the year I will finally finish my book. I will finish it, get an agent, and sell it to a major publisher. I also want to start my second book, which has been percolating in my mind for years.
This is not a New Year’s resolution, because those are useless and never work. Think of it as if I’m from the future, coming back to write this post for things that I have already done (because I will).
May all of my Ohana have a similarly successful year. The same goes for all of my favorite writers as well. Remember, this has already happened, so I’m just reporting the truth! (I swear I’m not crazy...!)
2008, I’m coming. Watch out!
Kyle W. Kerr
12/13/07 | Movies, Trailers, My Writings | 0 Comments
Well, I’m back in Pennsylvania for about three-ish weeks… Meaning, I should have that amount of time to work on my novel. Considering I don’t have a car, and everyone else works, I guess I’m going to have a lot of time in front of my computer screen. Keep your fingers crossed for me!
Besides that, I’m excited to report that I have been seeing movies at a rate of about two a week (which is just fine with me!). What does that mean to you? Reviews!
It’s one of the perks of living in a major city, being able to see movies in limited release. Atonement was actually playing in this little theater in the middle of Cambridge, one that I would have never found had I not gone with someone who knew the way.
If you’re a writer, you’ll understand what I’m about to say. Have you ever walked out of a movie and just been filled with an overwhelming will to write? This was one of those movies. It was simply stunning, a truly amazing movie. The movie is about two hours long, but I wish it would have been three more. The images were stunning, the story so engaging, that I didn’t want it to end. My friend summed it up nicely by saying (the first words out of his mouth as the credits started to roll), “That movie is going to win so many awards.” I really hope it does; it so deserves it.
Based on the novel by bestselling author Ian McEwan, the story starts as 13-year-old Briony Tallis, a fledgling writer herself (with quite the imagination), witnesses certain things that she doesn’t quite understand but thinks she does. Through a series of extremely unfortunate circumstances, she ends up accusing Robbie (James McAvoy), her sister Cecilia’s (Kiera Knightly) lover, of raping her cousin. This results in him going to jail, and ultimately ending up in the army. Briony grows up to realize her mistake, and makes amends in the only way she can…
Breathtaking movie that had my heart pounding right until the very end…! And this movie has one of the best twists I have seen in many years; totally unexpected. A must-see once it opens in wide release… and keep a look out for it during Oscar season! I’m definitely going to have to read the book now!
Plus, I have just found out (a day after I initially wrote this post, by the way… notice the prediction of future awards above?), the movie has been nominated for an astounding SEVEN Golden Globe awards, including Best Motion Picture - Drama, Best Actress (Kiera Knightly), Best Actor (James McAvoy), Best Supporting Actress (Saoirse Ronan, who plays the 13yo Briony), Best Director (Joe Wright), Best Screenplay (Christopher Hampton), and Best Original Score (Dario Marianelli)! Congratulations and good luck! (Click here to see the rest of the nominations…)
Please, if you haven’t seen it already, watch the trailer for the movie…
Philip Pullman wrote an amazing trilogy of books called His Dark Materials, set in another dimension of our world, where everyone has a daemon (a corporeal part of their soul in the shape of an animal). I read these books a number of years ago, and have been waiting for the movies to be made. Well, after a number of production issues, they finally did it.
The movie is visually stunning, newcomer Dakota Blue Richards is the perfect Lyra (seriously, exactly how I pictured her), and they were incredibly faithful to the book. If there was one problem I had with the movie, it’s that they cut the last 40 pages of the book out of the movie. And, from the trailers, I know that they actually filmed and finished the shots, yet director Chris Weitz decided to cut them from the movie to end it on a happier, more optimistic note. Yeah, well, it kind of ruined it for anyone who read the book, because we were all expecting about thirty more minutes of action. Plus, if you’ve read the book, you know it ends with the perfect cliffhanger, one that would have driven audiences to see the second movie. What annoys me most, I think, is that (if they even make the second movie, which is up in the air right now) they’re going to have to spend the first 20 or so minutes of the next movie going through what was supposed to be at the end of Compass, which means less time to dedicate to an even more complicated plot of The Subtle Knife. I hope Chris knows what he’s doing.
For anyone who follows it, you know The Golden Compass was #1 at the boxoffice this past weekend, but made a very modest $25 million. (Atonement, by contrast, made an astounding $800,459 in just 32 theaters, an average of over $25,000 per theater!) Hopefully they’ll still make the second movie if this one doesn’t perform as expected (which I honestly don’t think it will).
I was never a huge fan of Steve Carell (I actually don’t like The Office), but have become intrigued with him recently after seeing Little Miss Sunshine (which was a really fantastic movie on its own). He’s actually a really great actor when he isn’t overacting! This movie is about a single dad, trying his hardest to raise three girls on his own and manage his career as the local “Dear Abby”-esque advice columnist. They go to his family’s house for the holidays, where he meets and spends the day with a woman he meets at a bookstore. It’s the first woman he’s been interested in since his wife died, but she turns out to be his brother’s girlfriend. Uh-oh! Well, it makes for some really hilarious moments. I think it’s on its way out of theaters, so definitely put it on your list of movies to rent when it comes out on DVD.
Kyle W. Kerr
11/29/07 | Genius Mode, Movies, My Writings | 0 Comments
In the past two weeks, I have seen a LOT of movies. Some were good, some okay, some amazing, some a bore. Yes, I experienced at least one of each.
But before I talk about these movies, I wanted to say two things:
1) My classes end on December 4th, which means that I will have an ENTIRE MONTH to work on my novel! I’m going to bunker down and work my widdle fingers raw, so help me god! It has been driving me absolutely mad not being able to write, to the point where it’s all I can think about lately. Thank god I only have five more days of this crap to deal with!
2) My friend Dawn finished her first novel, Absolution…!!! Congratulations Iusey! From what I’ve read and heard about it, it’s going to be amazing… I’ll be first in line (though, of course, I’m really expecting a free, signed copy… I’ll buy one and give it to someone to spread the love!). If any members of our Ohana read this, please send out some positive energy that the book gets picked up by an agent soon!
I am notoriously easy to impress when it comes to movies. As long as I felt mildly entertained during its duration, I feel the movie did its job and am relatively pleased with it. So, my method of rating movies is rather simple. Meaning, I like the majority of movies I see. However, it is rare that I walk out of a movie completely speechless, yet it does happen occasionally (most recently with V for Vendetta). Well, it happened again.
This was, quite literally, quite amazingly, one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life (and in a very long time). It is almost impossible to pinpoint my criteria for favorite movies, because each of them is so different from the others. Some of my favorites are (in no particular order): Michael J. Fox’s The Secret of My Success, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Powder, Finding Neverland, The Bourne Supremacy, Pay It Forward, and Love Actually. A comedy, sci-fi action, drama, comedic drama (I say it like that because there’s way more drama than comedy), action/suspense, family drama, and romantic comedy, respectively. Any relation? No. I’m just crazy. Now, I can add August as one of my Top 10 Favorite Movies.
I know that one of my favorite adjectives is “amazing,” but it’s a really versatile word. This time around, I’m going to use a different word: extraordinary. I have liked Freddie Highmore since I first saw him in Finding Neverland. There’s something about him that most adult actors can’t emulate, a sort of sadness and deep, penetrating gaze. I knew that he was destined for great things, and I wasn’t wrong. Freddie plays a boy who has lived at an orphanage for the first eleven years of his life. He has an intrinsic passion for music, a passion he runs away to New York to pursue in the hopes that it will help him find his parents.
In NYC, the eccentric Wizard (Robin Williams, who was perfectly cast for the role… watch the movie and you’ll see why) gives him shelter and provides the musical knowledge and instruments August needs to broaden his talent.
Lyla Novacek (Kerri Russell) is an acclaimed orchestral cellist, who even headlines the New York Symphony at a young age. One night she meets Louis Connelly (Jon Rhys Meyers), a charming, Irish rock singer. They spend the night together, fall in love, but are kept apart by Kerri’s father (played by Roswell alum, William Sadler).
I wish I could just tell you all about the movie and its amazingness, but that would give away too much and ruin the movie for you (something I HATE… I once overheard a conversation where someone said, “But then you find out that Bruce Willis was dead the whole time!”… NOT cool). So, please, go and see it. And, because of the musical score and how important it is to the plotline, you should really see it in theaters. You won’t regret it one bit.
You know what? This movie was a lot better than it looked. It looked so stupid from the commercials and trailers, but it actually turned out to be really funny (and, of course, adorable). The beginning of the movie is done in the classic Disney animated fashion, but the plot twists when the wicked Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) pushes the unsuspecting and naive Giselle (Amy Adams) down a well, where she ends up in New York City. There, she meets Robert (Patrick Dempsey) and his daughter, Morgan, who take her in (though reluctantly). Prince Edward (James Marsden), the queen’s loyal servant Nathanial (Timothy Spall, who played Wormtail in the third and fourth Harry Potter movies), and Pip the Chipmunk follow, and hilarity ensues. Worth a watch.
I have great respect for George Clooney and Tilda Swinton (the White Witch in the first Chronicles of Narnia movie, and Gabriel in Constantine), and this movie got such great reviews that I had some high hopes for it… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz… Oh, sorry, did I just doze off right there? Right, well, this movie had a really cool premise, and some amazing actors, but… zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…
This movie has been out for a while, but I watched it for the first time last weekend. It was surprisingly good. Edward Norton plays an illusionist (well, duh), who falls in love with a childhood friend, Sophie (Jessica Biel), but they are kept apart because of their different social classes. They are reunited later in life, when Sophie is betrothed to Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell… why does this guy always play bad guys? I’m starting to hate him as a person). With one of the best plot twists I’ve seen in a long time, drama ensues. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.
There are actually a couple more movies, but I think this post has gone on long enough.
Kyle W. Kerr
11/16/07 | Books, My Writings | 0 Comments
I have been talking to a friend of mine who is going to school for psychology. There are a lot of things I didn’t know about how certain people react to abuse, and she’s helping me get a realistic portrayal of young people in the situations I’m putting some of my characters through. It probably sounds horrible to say this, but it’s really a fascinating subject, something I plan to study more in the future.
Writing’s been going slow. For those of you who know the plot of the story, I’m beginning the complete rewrite of Pat’s journal, which is a central plot piece. It needs to be right (which is why I’m talking to my therapist friend). Because classes are over on December 4th, and new classes (my last semester as an undergrad!) won’t begin until the second week of January, I’m literally going to have a month off, which I’m going to dedicate to writing. I missed my personal deadline for finishing the novel by October 31st, so I need to pick up the pace. I know that an agent will wait a little for a novel they requested to read, but I don’t want to keep her waiting much longer. As I said in a previous post, being asked to send the entire manuscript is an amazing request (something all writers want to hear), and I don’t plan on losing the opportunity.
If you noticed, I said that it’s going to be my last semester “as an undergrad”. Well, that’s because I’ve decided to apply for grad school. Yup. And this time I’m going for creative writing! I’m going to apply for the Creative Writing MFA from Emerson College here in Boston, which is one of the best schools for creative writing in the country. There are only 47 spots, and they receive over 250 applications a year, so I’ve got some work ahead of me. Wish me luck!
The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold
You know what? She was damned if she did, and she was damned if she didn’t. Almost everyone has heard of Alice’s debut novel, the internationally bestselling The Lovely Bones. It has sold millions of copies worldwide, and is currently being filmed by acclaimed director Peter Jackson for a feature release next year. So many people loved this book that any book following it would let people down. If she wrote a book like TLB, everyone would have said that she’s a one-trick-pony. If she didn’t write a book like TLB, everyone would be all Where’s Susie? Well, she opted for the latter, and her new book has gotten some VERY mixed reviews. It currently has a 2.7 out of 5 stars on Amazon.com. People say it’s too depressing. Depressing? Did they even read TLB? Susie is a 14-year-old girl who gets raped and murdered in the first chapter, then looks down from Heaven as her family and friends fall apart. That sounds pretty depressing to me.
Personally, I loved it. It was amazing. Alice is such a brilliant writer and deserves some more respect. This book was about a woman in her 50s who is caring for her elderly mother. The mother is so far gone, that Helen (the main character) ends up suffocating her with a pillow during the first chapter. The remainder of the novel takes place over the next 24 hours, as Helen tries to figure out what to do and reminisces about the past. There is a lot of dark humor in the novel, and Helen is deeply moving.
Okay, so I haven’t read this book yet, but I went to an event of his at Harvard and had the opportunity to attend a personal meet-and-greet with the man himself. This book is about his life’s ambition to build schools in needing countries (such as Pakistan and Afghanistan). He really is an amazing person, and is so passionate about promoting education abroad. The subtitle for the book is “One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace… One School at a Time”. His reasoning behind this is that educated people are less likely to participate in acts of violence in the name of peace. One reason in particular (something that I didn’t know and find quite intriguing, considering their usual view of women) is that men going on missions actually need the blessing of their mothers, who usually approve because they are not educated enough to make the proper decision. With a proper education (or any education for that matter, considering that they usually don’t have one at all), they would know the true ramifications of their sons’ actions.
Not only is this an amazing man, but he’s apparently written an amazing book. Out of the 424 customer reviews on Amazon.com, 390 of them were 5 stars. Now that’s saying something.
Kyle W. Kerr
11/6/07 | Books, Movies, My Writings, Procrastination | 0 Comments
Still writing, I’m chugging along as usual. It’s going well, and with the help of two of my friends I found another problem that was holding the narrative back (which I am now working to fix). I can only hope the novel will be finished by the end of the year. Keep praying!
I got the opportunity to see NYT and Internationally bestselling author Matthew Pearl for the second time. The first time I saw him was at an event, but this time he was generous enough to come to my writers group on campus! It was an amazing time. It’s rare that young authors get face-time with someone who’s “made it.” And he was very open about his experiences and he was an immense fountain of knowledge for our members.
In honor of Matthew Pearl coming, I bunkered down with his first book. Guys, it was really good. I’m not a huge fan of historical fiction, but I couldn’t put this book down. It was based around a group of leading literary figures in 1865 Boston (who are all real people, by the way), who are trying to create the first American translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy. However, some of the leading members of society are being murdered, and they realize that the killer is reenacting the tortures found in Dante’s Inferno. So, in order to protect themselves, as well as the work they are trying to create, the group members become overnight sleuths. It was amazing, and it will honestly keep you guessing right to the very end. It’s kind of hard to get into because of the language (it’s written in 19th century prose), but once you get past the first few pages, it flows in a way you can’t imagine unless you experience it. Now I definitely have to pick up his second book, The Poe Shadow.
This was a really cute movie. David (played by John Cusack) is a widower sci-fi novelist who adopts a young boy named Dennis… who thinks he’s from Mars. Sounds like a perfect match, right? David and Dennis are both lonely and need to be loved, and to love in return, and David should understand the boy’s fascination with thinking he’s otherworldly. However, it’s not always a match made in heaven, and David soon finds himself overwhelmed with the prospect of raising a “different” child all on his own. Really beautiful acting and a great storyline. Worth a watch!
Okay, this movie sounded… weird, to say the least. But, it also sounded intriguing. So, I rented it. I’m so glad that I did. As the title suggests, it’s the story about a murderer who’s obsessed with scent, and preserving scent… particularly, the scent of women. He finds these women with unforgettable scents, and harvests them (which usually includes killing the women; a small price to pay when you think about it, wouldn’t you agree?). It sounds insane at first glance, but it was really an amazing story. The director also did a beautiful job portraying scent visually, which is just as hard has it sounds. The main character is the anti-hero (he’s the one doing the killin’s), but he is played with such compassion and honesty that you can’t help pulling for him! Fantastic movie, and it has an ending you’ll NEVER see coming. Now I have to go and read the book…
Oh, and here’s a little treat.
Anyone else excited?
Kyle W. Kerr
10/29/07 | Genius Mode, My Writings, On Writing | 0 Comments
This weekend was actually quite productive. I was able to work my way through TWO chapters, bringing me closer to the finish line. I’m really happy with them. It’s interesting, too… with this second draft, my antagonist is revealing much more about himself than ever before, and he’s becoming a much deeper and troubled person. I hope he continues to be as candid with me as the novel moves forward, and also that I get the same level of cooperation from the rest of the characters…!
Though, the more I write this book, the less I think it’s a YA novel… Everyone keeps telling me it’s YA because the characters are all in high school, yet the graphic nature of some of the scenes (which are too necessary to cut) suggests it will be hard to sell as YA. I’m constantly reminded on A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving, because the majority of the novel is based in a time when the two main characters are young (beginning even younger than high school, in fact), yet that is not at all a YA novel. Come to think of it, you’d be hard pressed to find a high-schooler willing to read a John Irving book. (Not that I’m comparing myself to him, of course!) Would any of you read a book whose main characters are in high school if the plot intrigued you? Let me know your thoughts on this…
On a fun note, I’ve been quoted in a blog! The topic of Tess Gerritsen’s October 20th blog post was “Are Anxious Writers More Successful?” Meaning, if published authors harbor the fear of losing their market, they will work harder to improve with each and every book they write. However, it is not good to become complacent and not strive for betterment, because you just might become the old lion that way, toothless and forgotten, reminiscing of better days when you were the king of the jungle. This is my reply to her:
“During the Maui Writers Retreat, John Lescroart made a really great speech… He says that, during the writing process, there are two different modes an author goes into. When she’s writing the first draft, the author is in “Genius Mode,” where everything she writes is flecked with gold and diamonds. Then, when it comes time for editing and revision, she enters “Idiot Mode,” where the author realizes that what she had first taken for gold and diamonds is actually pyrite and kitty litter. It’s the worst thing she’s ever seen, let alone written herself.
I think there is a vast difference between cockiness and confidence. I think that people SHOULD have confidence in their own work and ability, but confidence does not beget anxiety. We all know how fickle this market is, and it’s not a good idea to become complacent. Plus, I would much rather read a book that an author has thrown themselves fully into, than one that they just threw out the door because they could.
I know I go into Genius Mode whenever I write something. But, as I look over it, revise it, and give it to someone to read for the first time, I’m always thinking it’s the worst thing I have ever written. There’s no plot, the characters are all one-dimensional, etc. I think you’re right, though… that thought does make me work just as hard (or harder) on the next piece.”
(If you look carefully, you’ll discover the origin of two of my Journal categories!)
Well, UK writer Ray-Anne Leutner liked what I had to say so much that she asked to quote me in her own blog, to which I happily obliged. So, if any of you are interested to hear what she’s got to say, a hop across the pond is only a click away!
Kyle W. Kerr
10/16/07 | General, Genius Mode, My Writings | 0 Comments
This is just a short one, but I wanted to give you guys an update on something exciting…!
No, I don’t have an agent and my book isn’t finished (though I’m working on it!)… My website has only been open for a little over TWO months and I’ve already had over 1000 VISITORS! Combined page hits (for every page on my site) is well over 12,000! Thank you guys so much! It’s nice to know that this website is getting some good use…
On a side note, my revisions have been going slow, but extremely well. I’m getting to the point where I can read through entire chapters and hardly want to make any changes! That means that things are finally coming together. The structure reformatting is proving to be 100% the correct choice, and now I’m going through and making corrections based on that. I’ve also got some new ideas about certain plot elements in the novel, which I think will add a whole new level to the reading.
Keep me in your prayers that I get this all done sometime soon!
Kyle W. Kerr
10/9/07 | Books, Genius Mode, Movies, Music, My Writings, TV Shows | 0 Comments
The rewrites have been going really well. So well, in fact, that I expect to crash and burn any time now… I finally realized what my problem was, and now it’s almost like the book is correcting itself, with minimal effort on my part. (Not saying I’m not putting effort into it! Just saying the work isn’t really work.) And I’m really excited about some new developments that have recently been revealed to me. If you’re a writer, I can’t stress how important it is to LISTEN to your characters! They will never lead you in the wrong direction (unless you have an unreliable narrator, and that’s a whole different tin of biscuits).
In the past few weeks I’ve…
Excavation by James Rollins
I had a conversation with Jim about why his books aren’t classified as Science Fiction. In Excavation, a band of archaeologists stumble upon a lost Incan temple, get stuck in it because someone is trying to steal the treasurers within and causes it to collapse, trapping some of said archaeologists and forcing them to find a way out… and they encounter albino tarantulas and mutated, cannibalistic ape-like beasts (that turn out not to be apes at all!), as well as discover a substance that is some form of nano-biology that is able to bring people back from the dead and regrow human bodies from nothing but a severed head. Sounds pretty far fetched, right? Science Fiction-like, even? Well, to put it bluntly, his publishers said “We can market it as a Sci-Fi novel and sell okay, or we can market it as a thriller and sell 10x as many copies.” Yeah, not a tough decision there. Point being, this book was very, very good. Just be willing to extend your suspension of disbelief a bit more for this one than regular thrillers.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. What the hell am I listening to this emo crap for? Because I love it, I can’t lie. I LOVED DC’s album The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, and have listened to it religiously since I bought it six years ago… Nothing DC has made before or since has really lived up to that CD, because Chris Carrabba’s vocals and lyrics, coupled with the acoustic instrumentation, just completely took me over. And there are even a few tracks when he gets so into the music that his voice breaks (one of my favorite things in the world… really). Everything else has been more rocker-ish, and less intimate. Until now. In The Shade of Poison Trees, Chris returns to the acoustic songs he does so well, and I’m absolutely loving it. It’s on repeat right now.
This is kind of embarrassing to admit, but I was going through a low point and needed to take my mind off things, so I watched all 60 or so hours of the first three seasons of Grey’s Anatomy… in 4 days. That’s right, I watched disc after disc of that show, and couldn’t have been happier to do so. As sad as it is that I did that, I don’t regret it. And now I’m obsessed. This is one of the best shows I’ve seen in years, and has the kind of characters I can care enough about to WANT to watch new episodes live (I don’t have cable, so anything I watch is either on DVD or I download it from iTunes… I don’t like commercials). Bailey is my favorite (“O’Malley, stop looking at my VA-JAY-JAY!”), I’m totally shipping George and Izzie, Meredith and Derek need to get over their issues, and Christina is just fun. Totally hooked. Though, I have to say, I am totally disappointed that they created the spin-off for Addison. I loved her, and now she isn’t even Addison anymore. Did anyone else notice that her hair doesn’t even look red? Hopefully, when that show fails, they’ll bring her back to Seattle!
Okay, this movie was absolutely insane… Fantastic, intriguing and immensely well put together, but insane nonetheless. Talk about your unreliable narrator! You think this movie is just about a teacher schtooping one of her students, but NO, it has a completely other level of crazy! When they say “A Story of Two Obsessions,” they’re not kidding. It’s one of the worst kept secrets in the world that Cate Blanchett is one of my favorite actors (second only to another Kate!), and what she is able to pull off in Notes is nothing short of brilliant. My love for her grows with every movie I see her in, and the emotion she was able to bring to this role was so tortured, so vulnerable, you couldn’t help but feel for her pain. Is it crazy on my part that I could understand why she did what she did (the character)? Not deflowering a 15-year-old, of course, but her need for something more than the life she was dealt, her need for escape? And Judi Dench’s character is… terrifying is probably the best word. I may just have to pick up the book now.
This movie was produced by Walden Media, the same folks who brought us The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe and Bridge to Terabithia (they like the whole making-a-movie-out-of-popular-children’s-books thing). It had a lot of promise, and the trailer made it look really good. To me, it didn’t disappoint. It has a really great premise, the foundations of which were lain down by Susan Cooper, who wrote the book back in the 70s (I say foundation because the book and movie apparently have very little in common. I’m reading the first book in the series—the movie was based on the second book, which has different characters than the first—but I have found a website that lists all of the changes, and they are extensive. If any of you loved the book Eragon and saw the movie based on that book, you’ll get a sense of what I’m talking about with this one. BUT, because the movie was my introduction to the world, and not the book, I was able to enjoy the movie for what it was). Definitely worth a buy when it comes out on DVD, though I don’t know how happy the studio is with it at the moment. Opening weekend on the purportedly $60M movie was a measly $3.75M… Ouch!
A sad side note…
If you remember my excitement about the new TV show The Sarah Connor Chronicles, you’ll know how disappointed I am to find out that Fox has decided to hold off on launching the show until mid-season. Why? Because God hates me.
Kyle W. Kerr
10/2/07 | Genius Mode, My Writings | 0 Comments
Okay, it’s back. My mojo, that is. I finished the rewrite of chapter 2 of my novel. And I’ve begun editing chapter 3.
What brought about the change? I wish I knew. But I just know that something clicked, and the writing is flowing (as it usually does). I just hope that the funk stays away. Somehow I angered the gods and got some bad juju. Bad juju be gone, I say! If you’re missing a virgin, or a goat, I sacrificed them. Both of them.
So, like I said, I finished rewriting chapter 2, and have once again posted it under Love, Simon in the novel section. This is all that I am going to be putting up for you to read, so I hope you enjoy it. Now I just have to finish the novel, sell it, and then you can read the rest.
Kyle W. Kerr
09/26/07 | General, My Writings | 0 Comments
My university has all 4-credit classes, and we usually take four at a time, for a total of 16 credits a semester. This semester I’m overloading and taking 20 credits so that I can graduate on time (my credits got screwed up because I transferred here after going to school for a year in PA). And, besides the additional class, there seems to be an unusual amount of work due for each class every week, much more than normal. I’ve been working. I’ve also been having money issues, where I was owed money from three different sources and none were paying up, to the point where I was almost in the red for most of the month, sometimes not eating or eating very little to get by. I also haven’t had a weekend to myself or a day off for about three weeks.
Why am I telling you this? To try and give some sort of background to my next statement: I haven’t written anything in about three weeks.
Well, that’s not exactly true. I’ve written, but for classes, or for this Journal (which I guess is better than nothing). But I haven’t written any short stories, and I certainly haven’t written anything for my novel.
What the hell is wrong with me? I love to write, it should be a time I covet for myself. I have an agent who is interested in seeing my book when it’s done! All I have to do is finish the second draft and send it out to her, and hopefully I’ll get a good response back. I have a new support system from a number of my fellow Maui writers, who keep asking me how my writing is going, and making me feel guilty when I have to be honest and say, “Nothing new to report” (which they should continue to do!).
I don’t know, I’ve been in some sort of funk. I get into them every once and a while, where I can’t dredge up the will to write. It’s not writer’s block; I have plenty of stuff to write about, and I know exactly how to do it. There’s just no push for some reason.
Sometimes I impress myself and write a 10,000 word story in one week, averaging about 2,000 words a day. I’ve had 5,000 word days before. I like those days.
Hopefully it has just been the things on my mind keeping me from writing. It’s definitely not a lack of passion. I just need to reinvigorate my mojo.
I have made a conscious decision to take more time for myself. Usually I read 3 books a month, and I haven’t even finished one in the month I’ve been back from Maui. In the past couple of days, I’ve read about 200 pages of that James Rollins novel I mentioned in a previous post. I watched the first season of Grey’s Anatomy last night (it was only nine episodes, but I couldn’t stop for anything!). So, hopefully, writing will come next.
Kyle W. Kerr
09/16/07 | Books, Movies, My Writings, Procrastination | 0 Comments
This weekend, I saw two new movies… one new, and one a little older. Plus, a little on a book I’m currently reading.
Okay, I don’t know where to begin on this movie. We all know that Jodie Foster is a brilliant actress. Terrance Howard is good as well. This movie was freaking amazing. Though very brutal at times (you see about a two minute long beating scene, as well as a number of murders on Jodie’s part), there is such raw emotion behind it all. I don’t know if that is the work of the three writers behind the script (two of them are credited just for “story”, so I don’t know if they did any of the actual writing or not), or because Jodie and Terrance are in their element, but it is surely a sight to see. AND, it has one of the most satisfying endings to a movie than I have seen in a good long time. Our ENTIRE theater was in an uproar by the end, which only shows how quickly and deeply you get attached to these characters. Definitely a must-see.
I wanted to see this movie since I first saw the trailer (however long ago it came out). Renée Zellweger hasn’t been one of my favorite actresses, but she has grown on me as of late (I recently saw the first Bridget Jones’s Diary movie, which was cute… and I have liked the ever classic Empire Records since it came out on video), and the movie looked like I might enjoy it. Not to mention the recommendations I got from people telling me to see it (including the writer of Frida). So, I caved and bought it. I think I have to give it a 4 out of 5. This movie was so engaging, and to touching, that I was totally prepared to love it. And I did, but only up to a certain point. The last half hour of the movie completely dragged. For some reason, they (the filmmaker and writers) felt it was necessary to showcase her purchasing 4000 acres of land, working said land, and doing little, if any, writing or drawing/painting. I know this movie is supposed to be about her life, but the main pulls were her books and her love; I didn’t need to know that she was responsible for conserving 4000 acres of apparently prime English real estate property (though highly noble on her part, it doesn’t make for very interesting movie watching!). They should have cut that last 20-30 minutes and expanded the other sections instead. Still worth the watch, though.
I’m actually in the middle of this right now. I decided to read this because, well, I bought it in Maui so he could sign it and I needed something to read on the 14 hour trip back to Boston. Not that I got much reading done on the plane (I actually SLEPT, which is something I rarely do on planes… I like being on planes too much to sleep!), but I have made a slight effort to read it now that I am back. It’s actually quite good so far, and he’s freaking me out by having albino tarantulas attacking a group of archaeologists. Again, only halfway through, but it’s good so far. I’ll let you know if I like the ending!
(Note to self: Come up with some sort of cool rating system.)
So, now it’s time to get back to writing. It’s amazing that I have been back for two weeks already, and I’ve only worked on ONE chapter of my novel. I need to finish the rewrite of said chapter later today, and then start moving on to the next ones. My October 31st deadline for completion is approaching more rapidly than I could have ever expected, so I need to buckle down and WRITE! I am very excited about all of the changes, though, and I can’t wait to be able to read through the whole manuscript at the end (and to hear what everyone thinks about it!). GENIUS MODE!
Oh, for any of you who are interested:
Kyle W. Kerr
09/11/07 | General, Maui, My Writings | 0 Comments
I’ll admit that it’s been hard these past seven days without my ‘Ohana of writers. I think it’s hard for anyone who hasn’t gone through a similar experience to understand the depth of the relationships that were formed over our week-and-a-half in Maui. At the beginning of the Retreat, the organizers spoke of this bond that grows amongst the groups and I remember scoffing at the idea. Boy do I sure have a big foot, let me tell you.
Over the eleven days that I was there, I got a lot of encouragement and praise from the group, almost to the point of embarrassment. The writer in me still doesn’t know how to take compliments, and they were being thrown at me left and right. Oh, it wasn’t all praise, you know. My group absolutely hated the ending of my book, as well as a few other crucial scenes (I was going for a modern day tragedy, and they want something a little more satisfying!), and I’m not even going to mention the title…! But it’s the compliments that I remember, because they were unexpected.
Don’t get me wrong, I have great faith in my work and my ability as a writer. As you may remember, though, I wasn’t feeling all too happy about my novel when I went into Maui. Yeah, I had decided on a restructure, but there was still something nagging at me. The group definitely showed me what was lacking in the plot, but they considerably boosted my feelings for the project by recognizing the work I put into creating a truly genuine voice for the main character. They really got what I was going for, and that thrilled me to no end. In part, mission accomplished.
Now on to the rest of the edits. There are a number of chapters that need to get completely rewritten, but I’m not scared of them anymore. I know that I have a solid foundation to build on and a strong support system in my fellow writers (who will make sure I never lose sight of my vision… As one of them put it, talking about the theme, “This is a huge book!”). I’m not scared anymore.
I’d like to thank all of my fellow group members, who I really do consider my ‘Ohana. (I’m going to go around the table so I don’t miss anyone!) So, to Dawn, Ginny, Carol M., Carol C., Jon, Roland (and Kathleen!), Rocky, Millie and Charles, thank you for all of your support and encouragement. You are all talented and brilliant, and I can’t wait to see your books alongside mine in Barnes & Noble someday. And a special Mahalo to Gary, our leader and mentor, and wish him all of the success he deserves and a thousand times over. We wouldn’t be where we are without you.
Back to writing...!
Kyle W. Kerr
09/5/07 | Genius Mode, Maui, My Writings | 0 Comments
...or should I say begins? The Maui Writers Retreat and MW Conference are officially over, but now the work truly begins.
I’ll start off with the great news, and you can decide if you want to read more or not. An agent requested my novel…! The bad news? It’s not finished… *smacks self on forehead*
Okay, here’s the deal… I “finished” the book about two years ago, and it’s sat since then. Recently, I picked it up again and decided to fix all of the things that bothered me about the original draft. A whole restructuring was going to happen, things were to be rewritten or cut, and everything was to be updated. That’s definitely still the case, but after talking it over (a LOT) during the retreat with my teacher (Gary Braver) and my fellow students, I decided to rework the ending of the novel. So, the book is no longer as complete as it once was. I’m not simply updating anymore, but writing brand new scenes.
That being said, I told the agent I could have it done in two months. Oy. I will get it done in two months or die in the process, whichever comes first (hopefully the former!).
BUT, that also being said, the agent sounded genuinely intrigued by the work. A couple of the other retreat students (who stayed for the conference as well) and I noticed that a lot of people were having what looked like successes with various agents and editors. However, we realized something else. Those people were only asked to send the first 3 chapters, or the first fifty pages, or the first chapter and the synopsis, things like that. These are very general submission guidelines for any agency, things they tell everyone to send them for consideration. Few people seemed to be getting much more than that.
So, how do I know that the agent I talked to is actually interested in the work and not just trying to placate me? She asked me to send her the whole book. That’s the difference, and something I am very proud to be able to say for myself. Oh, I got one of the above requests, too, but it only takes one person to take special interest to get your foot in the door. And I’m proud to say that most of my Retreat ʻOhana (that’s Hawiian for ‘family’) have had similar successes. Hoʻomaikaʻi ʻana, ʻōlelo hoʻomaikaʻi! (I don’t really know if that means ‘congratulations’ or not, but the dictionary website told me it was!)
I don’t want this entry to be insanely long, so I’m not going to talk about everything I WANT to talk about in just one post. So, I’m going to talk about my week and a half on Maui over the next few entries, and I’ll go into further detail about my experiences during the retreat, and even share some really important information I picked up along the way.
The bottom line, though… would I ever come to Maui again? Absolutely. It was the best investment I’ve ever made, and I can’t wait to be back next year (which I will).
One note before the end of this post… You’ll notice that I have ONCE AGAIN changed the name of my book. It started out as A Life, Less Living, but I decided to change it once the overhaul began. It became A Song of Sad Lamentation. Guys, my group absolutely HATED that title! I could have died laughing (and not even to keep from crying… I thought it was really funny!)… They said it sounded too sad, and real life is sad enough. No one would ever pick up a book that said it was going to be sad right in the title! Two people in the group (I say two because they literally blurted out the title at exactly the same time) suggested Simon’s Song… which—erm—I hated. Did not like it at all…! (Sorry Carol and Charles!) So, after a lot of soul searching, I have finally come up with a title I think fits perfectly with the plot of the book, and has a double meaning to me as well (which I love doing). The new title of my book is:
Kyle W. Kerr
08/16/07 | Maui, My Writings | 0 Comments
Okay, there are roughly 7 billion people in the world, right? Now, even if one half of one percent of those people are trying to be writers, that still equates to about 35 MILLION people.
I want to be published. Now you know the odds.
It may not be nearly that many people, but the numbers are definitely up there. You look at publisher or agency statistics, and they reject an average of 99% of the unsolicited submissions they get a year (meaning, people who send stuff in without the agent/publisher/editor requesting it first). And publishers are even worse than literary agencies. In fact, most publishers now REQUIRE submissions to be sent via an agent; they won’t even look at it if it’s sent directly from you, the writer.
Think of agents as St. Peter; they are the Guardians of the Gates, Keepers of the Keys… and rightly so, if you think about it. Would books ever get published if publishers had to sift through all of those submissions themselves (remember my above statistics?)…? So, agents are necessary in today’s publishing world. (Not to mention that they are able to negotiate the best deal possible for you.)
Agents HAVE to be very picky about the clients they take on. They have to really love the work if they are going to spend their time trying to get your manuscript into the hands of the right people. They also have to like YOU if they plan on working with you for however long your relationship lasts (I know of authors who have had the same agent for 20+ years!).
So, how do you get to one of these elusive agents? Well, there’s the most common way of sending them a query letter, possibly with a few sample chapters and a synopsis of the piece (about 1 page per every 25 manuscript pages). But, if you want to get some actual face time with these people, you need to go to a writers’ conference.
That’s what I’ve decided to do. So, in one weeks’ time, I will be boarding a plane and flying out to Maui. First, I will be attending the Maui Writers Retreat, a 6-day Skulls session with me, about 10 other writers, and one bestselling author (Gary Braver). All of us are working on novels, so Gary will be facilitating a roundtable discussion about our pieces, which the other group members will offer critiques on, we will revise our work, and then go for a second round. At the end of those six days, we are supposed to walk away with first (and possibly second) chapters worthy of bestsellerdom. Should be interesting.
However, when the retreat is over, that’s when the real work begins. The next three days will be the Maui Writers Conference, attended by us (published author wannabes), actual published authors, and agents, editors and producers alike. This is where the all important face time comes in. We actually get to sign up for sessions with these industry professionals, pitch our ideas, and hope for the best. Talk about skipping the slush pile!
Even before the conference has begun, I’ve already had two agents get in contact with me about my work. One is interested in my novel, A Song of Sad Lamentation, and the other is interested in my story collection, The Price of Innocence (look for stories that say: “Part of a collection of stories, The Price of Innocence."). They have both received my samples (believe me, I sent them out the SECOND I knew they wanted the samples!), and so now I pray.
Then, during the conference, it’s important to mingle and make contacts. Talk about your ideas and projects with people. All you need is your toe in the door, for them to say the all powerful words “Why don’t you send me a sample,” and then the whole trip has been worth it. It was so empowering to be able to write “Requested Material” on the envelopes I sent to those two agents. It’s some vindication that people are at least interested in seeing a sample of the work, it’s at least good enough to get out of the slush pile.
I will be making some Journal updates as the retreat and conference go on, so you can get an insider’s look into the Maui Writers Conference!
Hopefully the conference and retreat will be worth it. But hey, like everyone has been saying to me, if I don’t get an agent out of this, at least I’ll have been to Maui.
Kyle W. Kerr
08/13/07 | My Writings | 0 Comments
For those of you who haven’t read about it in my About Me section, I started writing my novel in 10th grade. My English teacher asked us to do a writing exercise, to write out a couple examples of what makes a great opening for a novel. Stuff like “I couldn’t remember how the pen got stuck in my eye…” and “They didn’t know if they would make it to the hospital in time…” I know. It’s a real loss that I didn’t pursue those, right? Well, then I wrote something about a character contemplating suicide, and that really intrigued me. Why would he be having these thoughts? So, I started to dig, and ultimately began work on a novel without even realizing it.
What I started then and what I have now are, thankfully, nothing alike. (Never bothering to plot out the novel had the unforeseen side effect of me having to rewrite the whole thing twice.) I began work on the novel with its current plot in 12th grade, and finished it my second year of college. Now, two more years later, I find that I’m unhappy with it.
I’ve actually been unhappy with it for a while now, though I was too scared/nervous to do anything about it. The novel was finished, wasn’t it? There was a beginning, middle and end, interesting characters, conflict, love, friendship, murder… all the things for a great novel, right? Well, yes, but something was missing.
Something kept nagging at the back of my mind all those years. One of the people I asked to read my novel when it was first finished was my 11th grade English teacher, someone who I trusted for her brutal honesty. Her first comment on the piece? It was juvenile. Juvenile? What the hell does that mean? Well, through an unfortunate set of circumstances, I never got to find out, so that comment was stuck in my head without any explanation.
Now, two years and a lot more writing experience under my belt, I finally realized what she was talking about. But I was still scared to proceed. The novel’s been locked down for two years already! I was so used to how everything was that I couldn’t even picture it happening any other way.
Well, not any more. I’ve decided on a change. Things are being rewritten, rearranged, and removed or improved. The first thing to go? The title.
If you happened to catch it, the title of the novel used to be A Life, Less Living. It was referencing a line of dialogue from one of the characters, Becky:
Like I said before, he was basically a life, less living; he was already dead, and you would have thought he was if you had seen him there.
Okay, not the best bit of writing I’ve ever done, but that’s where the title originated from. It refers to the main character, Simon, after seeing his partner Damen dead for the first time.
However, the title was always obscure, and more than one person asked me what it meant. Great, I thought, they’re curious! Read the book to find out! Well, I’ve found out that people don’t waste their time with things they don’t understand, so the title was actually a hindrance.
To get the ball rolling (physically on the page as well as mentally for me), the title has become A Song of Sad Lamentation. There actually is a poem in the novel that the title refers to, but this time you really ARE going to have to read the novel to see it!
And so, a major rearrangement has already taken place, the first chapter has been rewritten (check it out here), and I am going through the rest of the novel as we speak.
What prompted this sudden urge to make changes/improvements? I had an agent request some samples… More to come on that later, though.
Kyle W. Kerr