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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
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
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
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
This post is all about some BIG NEWS… Some really amazing things that I thought I should share with you all… Of course, none of it is about me, but all of it excites me to no end!
The first thing is about my friend Dawn, who I have mentioned in the past. She recently finished her first book and sent it off to an agent who expressed interest in it back at the Maui Writers Conference… Well, she just got an email from said agent that was very encouraging! I’m not going to go into it until Dawn gets some definite answers, because I don’t want to jinx it… I’m keeping my fingers crossed for you Iusey!
Any Peter Jackson fans out there? Of COURSE there are! For any of you who don’t personally know me, I am a HUGE PJ fan, and have loved all of the movies of his I’ve seen (including the Lord of the Rings trilogy, King Kong, Heavenly Creatures, and The Frighteners, and I’m sooo looking forward to The Lovely Bones)… Well, Pete and New Line were having a little tiff… to the tune of about $100 million! That’s how much money in royalties NL tried to swindle PJ out of for the Rings trilogy. Because of the success of the trilogy, NL wanted to immediately put into production the film version of The Hobbit, the prequel to the trilogy, though both sides refused to work with each other while the dispute was going on. I don’t blame them… Personally, I don’t see what the problem was. Give him the damn $100M, because you have the potential to make another BILLION dollars if you team up for another movie (that’s the amount each of the first three made on average in box office receipts alone!). Well, they’ve finally settled their dispute, and PJ is back on board for The Hobbit (which, from what I can tell, is going to be TWO movies, shot consecutively and released in 2010 and 2011), but only in a producer role! He’s not going to direct! What the eff?! They’re looking at Spider-Man director Sam Raimi to fill Pete’s shoes… As long as PJ’s there to make sure things stay on track, it should still be good… I hope!
Also, for those of you who enjoyed Christopher Nolan’s vision of Bruce Wayne and Gotham City in Batman Begins, the next installment is coming out next summer! Enjoy the trailer for The Dark Knight below!
It looks even BETTER than Begins! Anyone else notice that Katie Holmes was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal? Katie had scheduling difficulties. Yeah, she decided to film the ridiculous looking Mad Money with Diane Keaton and Queen Latifah. I’m not even going to put the trailer on my site, because it looks sooo bad… But you can view it here if you so choose… Good choice, Katie!
Focus Features has become one of my new favorite movie studios, after their release of the brilliant Atonement. Here are two new movies coming out by the studio that look really hilarious!
In Bruges (January 17, 2008) - This trailer actually has cursing in it, so you probably shouldn’t watch it at work...!
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (March 7 2008)
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
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
09/20/07 | Books, General, Genius Mode, Maui, On Writing | 0 Comments
Throughout the years I have looked for help in many different places: books, magazines, websites, from authors, workshops, the list goes on and on. I’m going to list a few of the things that really help(ed) me.
Half autobiography, half book on style, Stephen mixes up one of the best books on writing available today. Why is there a section where he talks about himself? Because you need to know where he’s coming from in order to know why he does what he does best. The story of his life, his vices, and the success of his first book, Carrie, are inspirational (something all of us novice writers need!), and the man knows what he’s talking about when it comes to writing. Read through the book, do the samples, and watch your talent soar.
Okay, who the hell would ever read a book on punctuation, let along write one? You guys, this is an amazing book. I don’t claim to be the end all of punctuation knowledge (in fact, I tell everyone who will listen that most of my knowledge is actually instinct based… which usually works, but not always). You couldn’t find a more boring topic, but Lynne handles it with grace and—dare I say it?—a little wit as well. (Also, if you’re in the mood to laugh, check out her book on rudeness, Talk to the Hand).
Both are monthly magazines, and both cover a wide array of writerly topics: from how to get an agent, to writing better emotion, to lessons on column writing, and so on. Also included in many of the issues are current markets out there searching for new material, information about contests and competitions (including some of their own), as well as first-time novelists’ success stories (which are always great to read).
I have had the privilege of meeting and talking to Tess on two occasions, but more importantly I am able to connect with her on a much more regular basis through the blog on her website. She actually reads every comment, and personally responds to them when necessary. Not only is she an immensely gracious author by taking the time to connect with her readers in such a way, but her blog is actually a very useful tool to novice writers like myself. Tess gives us the inside scoop on the publishing industry, both the ups AND the downs. Most importantly, she brings herself down to our level, reassuring us that we all have doubts and worries, and even she, after 20+ books and a level of über-success most of us only dream of, still gets nervous whenever she begins a new project or when her books go on sale. And, as shown by this entry, she really cares about us beginners.
This is a peer-to-peer critiquing site. Basically, in order to have someone critique your work, you need to do the same for someone else. Once you read and review one story (you write up an actual review for the author, as well as scoring the piece on several categories, including plot, theme, characters, language, etc.), then you are able to put your own piece up for review. This is a great tool for anyone who gets nervous presenting their work to groups, and it works out fairly well. The only problem I really have with this is that you can’t regulate who reads your story. It could be sent to someone who doesn’t like your genre/theme, and your rating and review will reflect that. Also, you lose a little when you’re not able to actually talk to the person about what they thought. All you get is a little snippet. Still very enlightening and useful.
Okay, I know I’ve talked about this a little in previous posts (considering I was just there!), but it doesn’t hurt to reiterate all of this. The conference is nice because you get to go to seminars and hear from some of the best authors in the world, including NYT and internationally bestselling and Pulitzer winning authors. They tell you their stories and insights about what has worked for them, including some tips and tricks they’ve picked up along the way.
BUT, the best thing about the whole experience is if you go to the week long retreat before the conference. This is where you are able to learn, this is where you are able to delve into the depths of your writing and uncover what lies beneath. I can honestly say that the retreat changed my life—and my novel—forever and for the better. You learn about your weaknesses and try to improve upon them. You learn about your strengths and try to broaden them. You learn by doing, by writing, and rewriting, and rewriting again, because there’s no better way to learn than by doing.
EVERY BOOK I’VE EVER READ
This is something I can’t stress enough. Every time you read a book you are learning how to write; plot, structure, interesting and realistic characters, dialogue, theme, everything you would ever need to know about writing has been laid out for you for centuries, all you have to do is pick one up and read it. I am flabbergasted when wannabe writers tell me that they do not have time to read—they’re too busy! Well, how are you supposed to know how to tell a story if you never read one? Don’t know what to read? Go to the library, go to Barnes & Noble and browse, or even email me if you need some suggestions; I’ve read hundreds of great books.
Hopefully some of this information will help you can write one (and me, too!).
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