I just wanted to throw out a quick word to say that I made it to Maui in one piece (though I think I left my butt in Fort Worth, Texas!)...!!!
It’s the end of my second day on the island, and I couldn’t be having more fun. Yesterday was a traveling day (like I said in another entry, about 14 hours!), and settling into my room. Maui is SIX hours behind Boston, so you can imagine how tired I was. I actually wasn’t able to fall asleep until about 9:30 Maui time, which is about 3:30AM Boston time… Ouch! But, that meant I was able to wake up at 7AM this morning and enjoy a full day. I’ll definitely have to post some pictures when I get back, because the ocean here is absolutely stunning. I’m not a sun guy, at ALL, and yet I laid on a beach chair for about an hour and a half today, just watching the waves. Sounds sort of cliche, but it was so relaxing.
At about 5:30 we had our Retreat Orientation, where the organizers told us about the retreat and introduced us to all of the “teachers”. They even had a native Hawiian come in and bless the retreat for us with some beautiful chanting. Then they served us dinner up on the roof of one of the sections of the resort, and Gary actually invited me to eat at his table. I had (surprisingly) already made friends with two other writers by that point and brought them over to Gary’s table as well, where he had assembled a number of people who are going to be in his class. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I had. Being writers, it was a little awkward at first, but then the wine started to flow and everybody opened up real nice!
So, tomorrow begins the retreat, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Gary was complimenting my work at dinner, and made me blush considerably (which was an accomplishment, considering my cheeks were already red from the sun and the wine!). The other writers seem like a really enjoyable bunch, and I can’t wait to get started.
I’d love to write more, but it’s costing me $.65/minute to write this, so I have to go...!
Kyle W. Kerr
08/23/07 | Maui, Movies, Procrastination | 0 Comments
There’s about 20 hours left until I leave for Maui (7AM flight, 14 hour trip, oy). I have so much stuff to do before I leave, too. Do you guys know that I haven’t started packing yet? Do you know that I still have laundry to do before I CAN pack? I also have to go to the bank, to the post office, the store, start rereading The Silence of the Lambs at Gary Braver’s request for the retreat portion of the trip, and call a cab company to make sure I have a way to get TO the airport at 4:30 tomorrow morning. Fun… Yeah, yeah, I know. Does “Professional Procrastinator” not mean anything these days? I’ll get everything done. I hope.
One thing to keep me in high spirits on my long flight (besides the booze, that is)? This message by Gary Braver:
I’m looking forward to working with you on your story, which I think has potential. You have a smooth and engaging narrative style.
Can you feel the heat coming off my face right now? I’ve gotten compliments before (as well as scathing reviews), but to hear that from a bestselling author?
On a side note I went to see the movie Stardust yesterday.
It was surprisingly well done (not that I had any notion of what to expect… I just knew it hasn’t been doing too well at the box office). Claire Danes is glowing as usual, and relative newcomer Charlie Cox plays an all around good performance as well. One of the real surprises of the movie was Robert De Niro’s cross dressing, tea making, piano playing (and swashbuckling?) Captain Shakespeare. Totally unexpected, totally hilarious. Pretty good special effects (though sometimes a little cheesy, but always worth it), and I wish the witch duel could have lasted a little longer (you’ll have to watch it to know what I mean!). Definitely worth the time and money to see.
Okay, I must get back to my Maui checklist. Next time you hear from me I’ll be roasting!
Kyle W. Kerr
08/21/07 | Books, General, Movies, Procrastination | 0 Comments
I’ve been procrastinating again. All of my ‘worry’ voices keep telling me to get more work done on editing my novel, but I can’t even seem to force myself to do it the past week or so. I actually got through a nice chunk yesterday, but a whole helluvalot of procrastination happened before that. What have I been doing instead? Why don’t I tell you…?
The Black Tattoo by Sam Enthoven
It was actually an interesting read. It’s about a demon from Hell who takes over this boy’s body, hell-bent on, well, destroying the universe. It is Sam’s first novel, and is written for the young adult crowd (which is fine, because I think there’s a bit too much violence for the children’s crowd!). Bit dark, but a lot of humor is brought in with the character of Jack.
Mysterious Skin by Scott Heim
This story begins during the summer of ’81, when two boys from a Little League are molested by their coach. One of them likes it, believing it to be love, and goes on to be a hustler when he gets older. The other blacks out the experience and, later in life, is convinced that those five hours are missing from his life because he was abducted by aliens. He’s not too far off, actually. Stunningly written, though I would extend a word of caution if you don’t have the stomach for a bit of violence.
Director Alfonso Cuarón impresses again. I’m not shy about my love of all things Harry Potter, and I was first introduced to his work with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the most visually stunning of all five HP movies so far, I think). Here, he does it again, and with seeming ease. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should definitely check it out. But, if you HAVE seen it, you should take a second look, and pay attention to the three or four scenes in the movie that are actually ONE CUT. The opening scene with the coffee shop, the scene where they are attacked in the car, as well as the final battle scene are ALL done in one shot. Amazing. Alfonso is one of the top directors I would choose for my screenplay Bethanine if I were able to pick the director myself.
I get more and more amazed by this movie with each viewing. Everything is so subtle. Nothing is thrown into your face. From Clint Eastwood’s quiet struggles, to Hilary Swank’s determination (even at the end) to go out a champ, and rounded off nicely with Morgan Freeman’s soft narration, you get sucked in and just nestled in the flow of the movie. Throw in Paul Haggis’s superb writing, and it’s no wonder this movie won the Best Picture Oscar. Paul Haggis is another person who intrigues me… To have written TWO Best Pictures in a row (MDB and Crash), as well as being versatile enough to take on projects like the recent Casino Royale, he’s the kind of screenwriter I want to be. (Oh, and try HUNDRED MILLION Dollar Baby… That’s right, this little movie brought in BIG bank!)
WANT TO SEE:
Since it came out almost 10 years ago, Elizabeth has been one of my favorite movies. Cate Blanchett is one of my favorite actresses. So, you can imagine my joy when I learned they were making a sequel! I first heard about Elizabeth: The Golden Age about a year and a half ago, and have been eagerly awaiting its arrival since. Now, the trailer has finally been released, stating an October release date (!!!). So, if you have a moment, why don’t you bask in the gloriousness that is Elizabeth: The Golden Age…
A line that gives me the chills every time I hear it?
Queen Elizabeth I: Tell your king I fear neither him nor his armies.
Spanish Minister: There is a wind coming that will sweep away your pride.
Queen Elizabeth I: I too can command the wind, sir! I have a hurricane in me that will strip Spain bare if you dare to try me!
What was that line of Jim Carrey’s? Joygasm?
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
So, as my first Journal entry, I thought I should talk a little about what the purpose of this feature is.
Many writers will stick to just that, talking about writing. I, on the other hand, will extend that to talk about all things creative. My writing will definitely take the foreground, but I will also talk about books I’m reading/have read, movies I’ve seen, art exhibits I’ve perused, etc. Anything and everything creative (and maybe a couple ramblings as well… I can’t promise I’ll always stick to topic!).
Hopefully, by the time you read this, my website will be completely up and running (and updated!). It has been an interesting ride with Reese and Jason, but I couldn’t be more thrilled with the home they have created for me. (And I do consider it a home. This is the place where my most precious possessions are housed and displayed for the world to see, and a sense of welcome and warmth was paramount.) There were times when I thought Jason would strangle me, if only his hands could do so through email, but he always stayed calm, even as I became more anal. Simply saying ‘thank you’ seems hardly adequate, but I think they’ll appreciate it all the same!
I hope that you enjoy the writing samples sprinkled throughout the site, as well the ramblings you’ll undoubtedly read in this Journal. If you want to get in contact with me, do so through my contact page!
Kyle W. Kerr