Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Hello New Friend

The old laptop is dead. Long live the new laptop. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

My new Gateway laptop definitely counts as a new friend... a new friend with a learning disability that I call VISTA. Here are a few tweaks that have helped us work together better: I've disabled the Google toolbar that made Microsoft Word run so slow. I've learned not to type my novels while in the "Review" tab so that I can type at full speed instead of g..o..i..n..g...v..e..r..y...s..l..o..w..l..y. I've also clicked the "disable all enhancements" button so that even though I don't have any enhancements loaded, Media Player 11 won't stutter through most of my music.

Now that we've overcome those few obstacles, we get along very well indeed. I'm thoroughly enjoying the extra memory (RAM and Hard drive). I like the way my new friend doesn't eat directories when I boot up. I like the crisp clear monitor and the firm yet slightly bouncy click of the keys. I even like the gadgets, except for the slideshow... which, when enabled with too many pictures, makes the file directory lock up. And, while this may be a bit shallow, it's shiny and lightweight. But the best part is that my new friend doesn't make horrible clicking noises and then spontaneously power down.

I think we'll get along just fine. I've even started a new novel.

Monday, December 10, 2007

So Long Old Friend

My laptop is dead.

Or rather, is dying. My laptop has been through a lot over the years. It survived drops, tumbles, and even grape soda. (That would be from the day my novel sold.)

The grape soda incident (and the resulting sticky keyboard) is the reason I no longer have open beverage containers around me while writing. Everything must have a lid.

The one thing my wonderful little personal writing assistant has not managed to overcome is time. My laptop is five years old and has developed a computerized case of Alzheimer’s. Now on each and every boot (when it manages to boot) I’m surprised by a new subtle or overt alteration to the file structure. What will be lost this time? A file? A directory? Last time it was the entire applications directory.

I feel fortunate, however. It did manage to continue booting long enough for me to make backups of all my important emails, files, ect. I am writing this blog on said laptop since it is unusually warm today and the laptop seems, like my own prematurely aching joints, to do better in a warm environment.

Could it be repaired? I guess so. A new hard drive would be required and while I was at it, a new keyboard (no matter how many times I have taken the old one apart and cleaned it piece by piece, it still sticks), more RAM (it only has 512k of RAM which seems to be developing a few quirks of its own). For the price of all that, I could get an new low-end laptop that will do what I need it to do, essentially word process and check email with the occasional dash of web surfing for research.

Still, it’s hard to let go. I know that five years old is geriatric by technology standards, but I wrote the bulk of my first published novel (STAKED by J. F. Lewis, coming March 11th, 2008 from Simon & Schuster Pocket Books… sorry, it’s a habit) on this laptop.

Is it bad that I can’t wait to get my new laptop? ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cover Art!

Woohoo! Take a look at my totally awesome cover! It looks even better in person, too, with the foil effect they're using on the title. Chris McGrath's fantastic artwork is sure to draw attention to the book! (Thanks, Chris!)

And... a big thank you goes out to Jennifer Heddle over at Simon & Schuster for sending me a copy of the image well in advance of the cover flats (in time for Dragon*Con), and for giving me permission to post it here.

Lastly, for the legal gurus, please note that this image is copyrighted material, posted here with permission, blah, blah, blah.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wow! This All Takes A Long Time - Part Two

Okay, so I’ve been away from my blog for a bit (finishing one book, revising another, working a day job... you get the idea.)

Let’s resume our timeline from where I left off in my April 30, 2007 blog “Wow! This All Takes A Long Time!” available here.

April 18, 2007 – Received an email from my editor asking me to sum up the plot of the novel in two paragraphs.

April 19, 2007 – I sent this out as a reply and it was just what she was looking for:

Murder is a fact of life for the vampire Eric, owner of the DemonHeart strip club in Void City, but when he kills a werewolf in self-defense, things get wildly out of hand. Though the local Alpha and his pack of born-again lycanthropes are out for holy retribution, they're the least of Eric's worries when he finds himself caught between his girlfriend Tabitha, who has always wanted to be a vampire, and her sexy little sister Rachel, a tantric witch with a hidden agenda.

Why can't unlife be easy? All Eric wants to do is run his club, drink a little blood and be left alone. In his quest to discover who is trying to end him and why, he must survive car crashes, embalming, sunlight, tantric magic, and werewolves on ice as well as his own nasty temper, forgetfulness, and mistakes. More diamond in the sewer than diamond in the rough, Eric is willing to take on the world in BITE ME, a book where love just might conquer all, even if it is twisted, evil, and undead.

(You’ll note that at this point the book is still named BITE ME. That changed to STAKED later.)

May 3, 2007 – My revisions letter showed up. I talked about that a bit here, but I’ll write more about it now that I have a little time.

Right after the AC went out in my office, during one of the hottest summers I’ve ever experienced, I got my twenty-seven page revision letter. It contained a few pages of what my editor liked about the book and an explanation of what the twenty-some-odd pages of specific revision requests were meant to accomplish. My revised draft was due back on June 18, 2007. As though the (temporary) lack of AC wasn’t enough excitement, our annual family trip to Disney World also fell smack dab in the middle of this time period.

This point is where having a good relationship with your editor is essential.

(Related Note: Over on the writer’s forum, Kathleen Dalton Woodbury recommends the book The Fiction Editor, the Novel, and the Novelist by Thomas McCormack for all “writers who anticipate receiving revision letters.” I’ve read through most it myself and I agree. Fortunately my editor’s responses, to use the book’s terminology, were thoughtful and apt.)

Fortunately, from previous revisions, I knew my average working rate and could tell that the timeline would be tight, but doable.

After reading through the revisions letter, there were only a few points on which I disagreed. My editor and I bounced a few emails back and forth on those points, and I got feedback on some of the changes I was making in order to assure myself that I was heading in the right direction.

By March 21, 2007, I’d done enough of the revisions to do a page count estimate. As many of the revision requests called for more description or further explanation of various points, I knew the novel was going to grow, but I was worried about how much it might do so. I emailed my editor with the estimated new page count, just to double-check.

June 1, 2007 – Upon arriving in Disney World, and while still working on the revision, I got another email from Jennifer. They needed to change the title again and Jennifer needed some good suggestions by June 19th, 2007, the day after the rewrite was due. Um… yay? Let me just say that it is very surreal to be walking around Disney World throwing possible titles to a vampire book back and forth. Even my five year old got into the discussion.

June 15, 2007 – STAKED became the new title. (See my blog on June 22, 2007 for a list of some of the names we didn’t use. )

June 18, 2007 – I sent in my revised manuscript for the novel formerly known as WELCOME TO THE VOID, then BITE ME, and now STAKED.

June 28, 2007 – Author photo! Did I want one? If I did, they needed it 4” x 5” in at least 300 dpi in black and white. My wife came to the rescue with a handful of photos from our Disney trip and we polled our friends before making a final decision.

July 2, 2007 – My author photo (a picture taken by my son Jonathan on the aforementioned Disney trip) was accepted. It's a good choice, because it shows my real smile, and an interesting choice because it's an up-shot, taken by a three-foot-something kid looking up at his six-foot-something dad.

July 9, 2007 – We signed and sent in the photo permission form. (My wife insisted on explaining to our son his rights regarding his photo and having him sign the form alongside us.)

July 10, 2007 to July 17, 2007 - Jennifer liked my revisions! (Even though the book grew by 20,000 words in the process.) She only had ten specific revision requests in response and we got those hammered out over the next several days. I also had to decide whether I wanted the book to be copywritten under J. F. Lewis or Jeremy F. Lewis. (I picked Jeremy F. Lewis, BTW. Yes, the J stands for Jeremy. The F stands for something else. Ask my mother.)

August 21, 2007- I received my first blurb:

"A pedal-to-the-metal demolition derby of sex and violence. Werewolves and vampires were never so much fun." -Mario Acevedo, author of X-RATED BLOODSUCKERS

(Note: I highly recommend both NYMPHOS OF ROCKY FLATS & X-RATED BLOODSUCKERS, and not just because Mario wrote such a great blurb.)

August 23, 2007 – I was greeted on my way out of the driveway (heading back to work from lunch) by a nice man from DHL. The happy orange-ish yellow envelope contained my copy-written manuscript, a note from my editor, and two green pencils with which to make my edits to the text.

Let me just say that my copy editor, Chris Fuller, did a fantastic job on the copy edits. He did a detailed timeline for the book as well as a character list containing everything from Eric, who is my male co-tagonist, to "unnamed werewolf with brown fur, a friend of Leon’s". There is a reason he gets thanked in my acknowledgements page.

August 28, 2007 – I sent the copy-edited manuscript back (after making a copy of it a Kinko’s just in case) and returned home to find an email from Jennifer with my cover attached. I still don’t have permission to post it, but as soon as I do, you’ll see it here. I printed out a copy of it and took it with me to DragonCon where I showed it around like a total geek. (see my post about DragonCon here.)

September 13, 2007 to September 17, 2007– We did one more last minute rewrite to fix a problem with Tabitha's last chapter and the actual ending of the book. It’s not supposed to be a cliffhanger, but it was still being read as one. I sent the revised bits to Jennifer on Monday with mega thanks for allowing the final change at the last possible moment and the book was ready to be typeset minus the unintentional cliffhangery-ness.

September 20, 2007 – I found out about a cool local con that was going to happen the weekend after my book release and emailed Gary Babb, the literary coordinator, about being a possible guest. Gary was happy to have me onboard (he’s a very nice guy, BTW) and after an email to double-check the firmness of my March 11, 2008 release date, I was on the schedule at my second Con. (Which is funny because, though I was scheduled for my appearance at Con Carolina’s first, Omega Con takes place a couple of months beforehand, so though second to be scheduled, it will be the first at which I appear).

October 15, 2007 – I made good on my promise/threat to send cookies to the folks up at Simon & Schuster. We sent lots and they were well received. Also on or around this date, I got my galley proof in the mail, with another note from Jennifer Heddle, and two more happy green pencils to use when correcting typos.

October 19, 2007- After a week of having all the members of my writing group go through the novel one last time, the marked up corrections were on their way back to my editor with hopefully all of the typos corrected. It was very minor stuff (Eleenth Street to Eleventh Street, that sort of thing).

October 25, 2007 – Two little boxes showed up on my front porch containing a total of fourteen bound advanced uncorrected proofs of STAKED. They have plain blue covers, but I cannot describe how it feels to hold them in my hand.

October 30, 2007 – Cover flats arrived. They look awesome- I even got a foil effect on the title! Whoo-hoo! Around this time, I took a cover flat and a few copies of the advanced uncorrected proofs to local bookstores. (And may I say that Sarah down at The Little Professor was totally cool!)

November 19, 2007 – I had to fill out an Author Questionnaire for the marketing wizards up in New York. I sent it back to them on November 25, 2007, and I hope it’s what they needed. It was a very long questionnaire.

And that brings us up to date. To be honest, I may have included too much detail, but I’m hoping there are a few aspiring authors like myself out there who are craving data like this. I know I wanted this kind of detail even if it only provided a rough outline of useful information about timelines and what happens when.

I was doing other things during this same time that I’ll blog about later, but I’m trying to keep this timeline applicable to STAKED to avoid confusion.



Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fantasy Project: ENGAGE!

And... the manuscript is in the mail! My first epic fantasy novel has finally been sent off to my agent. Hopefully when I hear back from her (roughly four to six weeks) she’ll like it and have just the perfect editor/editors in mind. In the meantime, I’m working on a few short stories and a non-vampire urban fantasy novel (or two). I've also been going back over the completed sequel to STAKED (just to make sure that everything is consistent with all of our revisions) and making notes on the next two Epic Fantasy novels so that when someone buys the first one, I can provide more of a package than just the first book. (And, of course, I still have my day job...)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


While I'm posting about first times, I think I ought to mention my first blurb. It's from a writer that I really enjoy: Mario Acevedo, author of THE NYMPHOS OF ROCKY FLATS and X-RATED BLOODSUCKERS. Mario is a very entertaining writer and his Felix Gomez vampire private eye novels are always great to read. If you haven't read them, you should.

Mr. Acevedo described STAKED as:
"A pedal-to-the-metal demolition derby of sex and violence. Werewolves and vampires were never so much fun."

How cool is that?

I'm sure it's no surprise that quote is going right on the cover.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Dragon*Con 2007

So, I just got back from Dragon*Con and it was a total blast. It was also combined with several firsts for me.

1) It was the first convention I've been to since becoming a father (six years ago!)

2) I got to meet my editor, Jennifer Heddle, in person for the first time. I can't say how cool it was to get a chance to chat with someone with whom I have worked so closely. For the record, she is exceedingly nice.

3) Before I left for the con, Jennifer emailed the cover proof for my novel. I'm not allowed to post it on the web yet, but I did get to carry it around the con with me. My wife printed out several glossy copies of the proof along with a handful of business cards. Not only did I get exactly the artist that I wanted (without ever being brave enough to mention that I wanted him), but absolutely everyone liked it. The people I met may not remember my name, but I like to think they'll remember Chris McGrath's wonderful artwork.

4) Believe it or not, it was also the first time I'd ever been to any Writer's Track Panels. It may be odd, but I decided that following the writer's track would be the best way to find out if I was doing things the "right" way. You'd think selling a book would have given me more confidence in myself, but I am ever the victim of self-doubt. Fortunately, every writer I met was very nice and most were incredibly enthusiastic and welcoming when I told them about my book. Sherrilyn Kenyon with her "That's great! Is this your cover? It's beautiful! Who's your editor? She's really good!"and Maggie Shayne with her "Welcome vampire brother!" were by far the most enthusiastic.

5) Other writers I met for the first time (all of whom were nice): Theresa Bane, Peter David, Rebecca York, David Drake, Selina Rosen, L.A. Banks, Eric Griffin, Angela Knight, Susan Kearny, Angelica Knight, Mark Weiskoff, Janny Wurt, Phillip Nutman. and I'm certain I'm leaving someone out.

6) Writers weren't the only cool people I met. Kevin Sean Michaels, the man behind Vampira the Movie, was there and I got to talk with him a bit before the From Page to Screen panel began. I also got a chance to ask Hank Reinhardt (calling him a sword and arms historian doesn't really do him justice) a few questions about the uses of military picks for a novel project I really can't say much about yet. I also met cartoonist Andy Runton, the creator of Owly. It isn't about vampires, but Owly has a simple heartwarming storyline that should appeal to any and all.

7) It's strange to drive all the way to Atlanta to meet old friends who live in Birmingham, but I ran into several.

Monday, August 20, 2007

YMMV – Part Two – How Long Is Forever?

I never guessed how long things took in the world of publishing, but you’d think I would have.

Before managing to “Go Pro” myself, I regularly interacted with the publishing industry only as a customer or a retailer. I worked for a local comic and game chain Lion & Unicorn (long gone now, unfortunately) for roughly eight years. For several of those years, I was in charge of ordering comics. We’d place orders roughly three or four months in advance and try to equal our invoice amount in sales by the close of business on Wednesday and double our invoice by the end of business on Saturday. By the end of my tenure there, I think the order gap had narrowed to more like two months in advance.

Being on the creative end makes that two month wait seem like a coffee break. Which isn’t a complaint, exactly, but waiting was stressful until I realized a few key facts. Publishing has a few unique rules all its own. If your agent or editor manages to get anything done for you in or around November, December, or the first half of January, they have accomplished something spectacular and rare. You should be very thankful.

Be patient with them. You are not the only iron they have in the proverbial fire.

On the other hand, if they need something from you, get it to them quickly. They are balancing many different projects and when it’s your book's time in the attention queue, you don’t want to slow things down. There is (at least for me) a great deal of “hurry up and wait” in publishing. My suggestion is that you use that time to WRITE. Writing is the one thing that you can mostly control. It also means that if *gasp* your series bombs and they want another book anyway, just not in the same vein as the one they bought first, you can say, “How about this one?” instead of “I’ll get back to you in a few months.”

At any given time, I usually have one novel that I’m seriously working on, one I’m poking around at, and a third in what I call the brain storming phase. I plan to be prolific.

[Authorial Aside: This doesn’t count all the little notes that wind up in various sections of my hard drive detailing enough of an idea so that I can go back to it and start working later. One of these notes is how I arrived at my first publishable novel, STAKED. You see originally, I was going to write about magicians. I wrote two novels about said magicians before I realized that they really weren’t up to snuff. Some of the mages were perilously one-dimensional and in the climactic throw down in book one, the people who showed up to help the main character had literally no motivation for being there at all. *I* knew why they were there, but I hadn’t shown the reader enough to give them any indication other than a) I guess those other mages really like that guy or b) I guess Jeremy wrote himself into a corner. Rather than go back and rewrite the novels from scratch (which still may happen one day) I started paging through my idea documents, examining scraps of texts and found a note I’d left myself: “Maybe the Eric idea would work better in first person… with a I don’t know what to call it… a co-tagonist. Can I include two alternating first person points of view in a narrative? Meh.” It was followed by a secondary note about how to handle Eric’s potty mouth: “Might work best if you just write it how he says it. He can be censored later.”]

But back to the topic at hand, the process of publishing takes a long time. A very long time. I’ve often wished for a sort of guideline giving approximate gestational periods and steps for a book. I've started such a list in one of these blogs, but won't be able to finish it for a while yet.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007


YMMV – Part One

So... I promised to write this blog quite some time ago and then got bogged down with doing the requested revisions to STAKED (all done and accepted now), the final draft of my first fantasy novel, plus the maps and synopses for it and the two suggested sequels, and working on a different Urban Fantasy novel, this time a twist on werewolves... but I digress.

Getting an agent:

Before I even get into this, let me very briefly tell why I felt I needed an agent first, and in general why I feel most writers who want to be published by the major US publishers need an agent:

I don’t go to many conventions (most of my vacation time gets spent with family)
I don’t have a lot of time to go to conventions, make contacts, attend pitch sessions,
I don’t live in or near New York

Having said that, and assuming that you want to be represented by a literary agent, I have the following warning: I am not an expert, but I do have a literary agent, so my method has worked once. Also, before you even read the advice below or start looking at lists of agents, go to the Preditors and Editors website at: and read it. This will save you time and very possibly money.

When querying an agent, I used the following rules:

1) Send a SASE (Self Addressed Stamped Envelope). They all want one. If you don’t have one, your query may be thrown away. Nearly every site on the internet, every book on getting and agent, and anyone who has and agent will tell you this. If it doesn’t have an SASE, your query might get thrown away unread.

2) Send them what they want. Among other things, this demonstrates your ability to follow instructions. If they don’t want you to submit manuscript material, DON’T SEND ANY. Some agents want none, others want the first five pages, an outline, the first three chapters. For the record, I submitted an email query, was then asked for the first three chapters, and then the balance of the manuscript and a synopsis. Yes, the wait is maddening, but if you don’t give it to them the way they want it, they might not even read it and again… straight into the garbage.

3) Make sure you have an idea what they are looking for. Some have only one requirement: fantastic writing. But you can have the best idea for a Werewolf Transsexual Self-Help Mystery ever and it means nothing if you submit it to an agent that is only accepting Young Adult Caterpillar Thrillers. If your potential agent has a list on a website of likes and dislikes, so much the better. Play those aspects of your submission up, but do it honestly. After all, if you pitch that Werewolf Transsexual Self-Help Mystery to the Young Adult Caterpillar Thrillers agent as the biggest, most fantastic, touching Caterpillar Thriller of them all… and it isn’t... you’ll just piss them off. That is NOT how you want to get word of mouth started.

4) Prevail. What do I mean by that? Do not send one query out, get one rejection and stop. That’s just plain lazy, though it used to be how I did things until I got serious about getting published. It’s very humbling to be sitting at home after work and realize that the reason your dream hasn’t come true yet is because you haven’t mustered enough effort to make it come true… very humbling indeed.

5) Keep your commitments. If you tell your agent you will have something to them by X date, have it to them by X date. I usually try for X-1, if at all possible.

I’m sure there is more advice I should be giving on this subject, but that’s all I have for now.

As always, your mileage may vary. Just because it worked for me, doesn’t mean it’s the “best” way. You have talents and abilities that I don’t have, a spark that makes you different. Use your strengths.

Oh and one last note:

Spell the agent’s name correctly on your query letter…


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Edit, Revise, Repeat...

Since I last blogged, I’ve gotten the good word back from my editor that she likes most of my changes (there is still one sticking point, but it is mostly resolved) and I’m almost ready to go back through my sequel again, editing it to line up with the changes in STAKED. My much delayed fantasy novel is almost ready to go back through my local writing group for general bashing and crunching. I’ve also sent a query to Marvel Comics about a mini-series I’d like to write for them.

I’ve got a short story under consideration at COSMOS magazine. Their fiction editor wants to pick it up, but they just ran an invasion short story, so he’s waiting an issue or two before pitching it to his boss.

So what does all that have to do with you? If you want to be a writer, keep writing. Never stop. You will write things that (once you finish them) feel like a waste of time, but that doesn’t matter. Put them aside. Maybe you’ll come back to them later. And of course, as everyone says, write every day. I generally try to write for four hours a night, because I write well at night.

Chart your creative times too. Mine are in midmorning, early afternoon, another in the late afternoon, and then again early evening, and around nine o’clock. Chart yours. Most of my big times are smack in the middle of my day job, so I lose them, which means I have to squeeze all I can out of my lunch hour and the nine o’clock rush. If I’m having trouble getting started, a (no longer than) fifteen minute cat nap helps get me started again.

If I can’t get into the right mood for a scene, then I queue up music that fits the scene and sit there with my eyes closed listening to it until it feels right (but not for more than a few minutes). Once the adrenaline is pumping, and I’m all happy and cheerful, or whatever is required for the scene, I turn off the music and pour that feeling out onto the page.

What works for you? (Comments welcome!)

Jeremy F. Lewis

Friday, June 22, 2007

The Great Name Blog

The title of my novel has changed multiple times. As a reminder, the initial title was WELCOME TO THE VOID. This was unacceptable to some of the marketing folks, probably because it doesn’t exactly scream "Vampires!" The second title, BITE ME, was also changed, for reasons possibly having to do with it being a little too in your face or too close to Christopher Moore’s YOU SUCK. I am quite pleased with the new title, STAKED, and can only hope that I won’t have to come up with any more options.

In the process of title selection, my friends, family, writers' group and I made a long list of possibilities. To say the least, some of the titles were less than stellar. Having said that, here is a list of some of the worst/most amusing/most utterly unusable title ideas we came up with (in no particular order):

Bite the hand
Bite Back
Blue Collar Fang
Warning: This Book May Bite You
A Different Type of Anger
Vampires do it at Room Temperature
Anything that moves
Six Ways From Sunday
Straight From The Vein
Always Bite Strangers
Gentlemen Prefer O Negative
Eric: The Life and Times of an Undead Bastard
Undead and Unrepentant
Vampires Never Say Sorry
Welcome to the Nightmare
Cold Blooded
Enter the Void
Even Vampires Get the Blues
Deadly Dancing
Fangs for the Memories
I Love the Night Life
This Never Happened to Dracula
Idle Fangs
The @$$hole’s Guide to Being A Vampire
More Trouble Dead
101 Reasons Not to Make Your Girlfriend Immortal
Rip Me A New One
F*cking Vampires
Dead Men Tell No Tales and Dead Women Won’t Stop Talking
Death Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry
F is for Vampire
Even Vampires Hate Mondays
Immoral Beloved
Dead men Don’t Dodge Bullets
When You Die, It Gets Worse
Dead Men Don’t Do Dishes
Suck It
When the Night Gets Old
Vampires Suck
Too Much At Stake
Thicker Than Water
The Dark Fangtastic
Fangtom of the Pollux
Ouch! (with sequels: It Still Hurts and See How You Like It)
Feel free to comment and contribute your own terrible titles.

More later!


Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Big Crunch

I'm not certain how illuminating this will be to anyone, but I'm eight days away from the send-it- in-to-my-editor-after-my-revisions due date and I'm working like a mad fiend. To top it all off... we need to change the title again. So far it has been called: WELCOME TO THE VOID and BITE ME. The search for a title continues...

I'll post a longer blog as soon as my rewrite is 100% complete, polished, and off to Jennifer.


Sunday, May 6, 2007

The Hijacked Blog

Well, I have finally received my revisions letter, so I’ll be a little busy for the next few weeks and may not get to my intended blogging topics until after finishing my rewrites. The revisions letter got here 5/3/2007, and I have been furiously typing away at it since then. What a great time for the AC to go out! /sigh.

Still, I’ll try to post an update at least once a week.

Now… back to sorting out werewolf parts. Let’s see, if I have eight dead werewolves and one security guard…

Monday, April 30, 2007

Wow! This All Takes A Long Time!

Here’s a time line:

July 2004 - I started a novel, then called "Eric – First Person Take On It" (Used to differentiate it from a different draft of several chapters which were in third person).

January 6, 2005 – I completed the first draft of WELCOME TO THE VOID. Edits began.

February 2, 2005 – The Version that I would eventually start sending out to agents was done, but, being a newbie, I wouldn’t do that first.

February 15, 2005 – Blithely unaware of how inappropriate my novel was for their market, I submitted WTTV to Wizards of the Coast for their Open Call. This version of the novel was around six hundred pages long.

November-ish 2005 – I got my form rejection from Wizards of the Coast. By this time, I was fairly certain they weren’t going to buy it, so I decided to shift gears and submit to agents.

November 12, 2005 to March 2, 2006 – This time period was all spent querying agents. The nibble I got means that there was also a two month gap when I wasn’t querying agents. I made several mistakes in this period, one of which was misspelling an agent’s name TWICE on two different sections of my submission. Here’s a hint: DON’T DO THAT. In spite of general blunders, the good news came on March 2, 2006.

March 2, 2006 to June 24, 2006 – Things started happening more quickly. Shawna liked my query enough to ask for a partial. A month later she asked to see the entire thing. Two weeks later she suggested rewrites.

And here I need to stop for a minute. You see, I’d written two previous books that I wasn’t willing to alter in any way shape or form. You’ll notice that they aren’t published. By this point, I had a new rule. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch wrote the phrase “Murder your darlings.” Some say that the phrase was actually coined by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but either way, up until WTTV, I wasn’t willing to do it.

Shawna made several very good suggestions about revising the book and for an hour I insisted to myself that it was impossible. I slept on it and the next morning, I began murdering the little bastards left right and sideways. It wasn’t easy, but I did it and replied to Shawna with a suggestion for a rewrite that she said she wanted to see. Essentially, I had to cut out roughly four hundred pages of the novel and then write a new hundred and twenty or so. No, it wasn't really that easy. I also had to disentangle two complete plot lines that ran throughout the original draft, revising and editing everything for consistency, so that the end result was a shorter, tighter novel with plenty of room for a sequel or seven.

Though everyone insisted that quality was more important than speed, I finished the rewrite in under a month (with extreme amounts of editing assistance from my friends and family) and sent it off again. One month later Shawna let me know she liked the new draft with two small editorial suggestions, which, I made promptly: insert a sports scene (this became the werewolves on ice sequence) and add a clarification about the effects of phases of the moon on my lycanthropes. That is the version of the novel that sold. It wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t murdered my darlings, so when someone experienced in publishing gives you advice, you can reject it, but make sure you fully consider it first.

On June 21, 2006 – Shawna McCarthy officially agreed to represent me. It took three days for this to sink in. My wife threw me a party.

On July 7, 2006 – I got an update from Shawna saying that the book was with six major editors.

July 12, 2006 – Rejection. The editor thought the book was hilarious, but didn’t like Tabitha.

August 2006 – Three more rejections. All three seem to have enjoyed the book, but thought Eric was a bit too much of an anti-hero. I tried not to literally rip my hair out.

September 13, 2006 – Hope. I learned that Jennifer Heddle at Simon & Schuster might want to pick it up.

September 25, 2006 – Score! Jennifer Heddle did want to pick it up.

Early December, 2006 – I finally got the contract in my grubby little hands and signed it.

Roughly one month later – I got a fully executed and signed version of my contract. My wife threw me another party and started my website. We also ordered Welcome to the Void T-shirts (replicas of those worn by the protagonist of WTTV) for holiday gifts for some of our friends and family.

Shortly thereafter - I received my portion of the first half of my advance. Yippee! (And yes, it all went on bills... )

March 8, 2007 – My title didn't go over well at the sales meeting and we had to change it. Several members of my writing group still mourn this day.

March 12, 2007 – WELCOME TO THE VOID became BITE ME, a title suggested by Jennifer Heddle which Shawna had also suggested back in 2006 as a possible suggestion for the sequel. Great minds think alike.

March 20, 2007 – BITE ME went over much better than WELCOME TO VOID with the publisher and things progressed toward the cover concept.

…Which pretty much catches you up with me. Do you see what I mean about these things taking time? BITE ME is currently scheduled for release in March 2008.

Next time: YMMV- a list of "do"s and "don't"s that may or may not be applicable to you.


While this has nothing particularly to do with writing (other than being the bane of my productivity from time to time) I thought I’d post every once and awhile about what I’m watching (similar to the Cowboy Pete’s TV Roundups that Peter David did (does?) on his blog.)

Raines, Lost, Bones, Dresden Files, and *gasp* American Idol are what I keep up with regularly, while Smallville (two episodes behind), Heroes (four episodes behind), and Supernatural fall into the TiVo and watch eventually category. Does being fifteen episodes behind on Supernatural count as still watching? /shrug

Of course, there is always Drive (or there will be until FOX airs/sells the final few episodes). Poor Nathan Fillion. That man can’t catch a break on a series to save his life. He’s a great actor, but is it just me or does he seem to be the death knell for a series? Next, I guess he, Ben Browder, and Claudia Black will all be cast in a remake of Brisco County Junior which studios will then either show in reverse order or not at all.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

How I got an Agent: (The Short Version)

My guess is that my search for an agent was easier than some, harder than others. You see, going to conventions and pitching your book seems to be a good way to get an agent, but I started trying to get an agent several years after I stopped going to conventions. Don’t get me wrong, I love conventions (particularly Dragon*Con which is held every year in Atlanta), but my children are a little too young to enjoy them yet and most of my vacation time gets eaten up by various holidays and family outings. I’m also a little slow to warm up to people. I can be perilously shy and sometimes when I’m very nervous, I stutter. So even though trying to get an agent by the ambush-at-convention method was impossible for me to schedule, it was probably a good thing.

With this wonderful tool unavailable to me, I was left with words. Words ought to be useful right? I’m a writer. The original draft of BITE ME was over six hundred pages. I’ve written over a million words. As many writers will tell you though, writing a query letter is different. You can’t meander for a hundred pages. You have one page and some agents will not read even that page, perhaps not even the whole first sentence. Sad, but true - and ultimately understandable. So, you have to grab their attention. How do you do that?

I don’t know.

My record at present is twelve agent queries with the following results:

Six: Form rejections
Two: Query back when you’ve completed a different project.
Two: You’re good writer, but I can’t sell this urban fantasy stuff.
One: Prolonged Nibble™.
One: Request for revision - which ultimately resulted in my agent, Shawna McCarthy, agreeing to represent me.

(We love the Shawna. If you like great fantasy short stories, subscribe to Shawna’s magazine REALMS OF FANTASY at!)

Things that help:

It helps to query the right agent. Make sure that you are querying agents who represent what you write. Follow their submission guidelines precisely. Spend some time at checking out how not to look like a complete ass. Visit Preditors and Editors ( to make sure you don’t wind up getting scammed by a complete ass. I used to obtain my lists of agents and their contact information. It's not free, but it’s cheap and easy. If you’re too lazy (like me) to scope out all the free info available via the web, a Writer's Market subscription can put everything in one spot for you.

There are tons of writers who offer more helpful info online. I suggest Neil Gaiman’s site at and SL Viehl’s blog at

Next in the series: Wow! This Takes A Long Time!

But before that: TV!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

My Publishing Journey: The Possibly Helpful Tale of How I Got I Published – Part One

Hi, All!

My name is Jeremy F. Lewis and my first novel, a vampire book currently entitled BITE ME, is scheduled for a March 2008 release from Simon & Schuster's Pocket Books. During my writing and editing process, I found tons of authors' blogs; some were extremely useful, some terminally funny, and others utterly terrifying. I want to make mine a healthy mix of all three.

I plan to start out the first few blogs by running through how I got published in the hopes that it might be of some use to you. I’m sure I’ll scatter some unrelated blog in here and there.... my friends say if I had a superhero name it would be Nonsequitur Lad. It's just the way I am. I'm also a very organic writer. As an example, only four or five of the chapters in my most recent draft were written in sequential order. When I write best it is kind of like the non-linear editing that gets done with many modern movies. I write a scene without knowing exactly where it goes- with only a vague idea that it goes somewhere in the middle, beginning, or end. Once I have written ten or eleven chapters, I can often begin to see the shape of the thing coming together. This makes it very hard to complete a preliminary outline.

But that’s not how it all started.

Let’s just say that I spent ten years writing two novels and countless false starts. Roughly six hundred thousand words of practice. For several years, I gave up trying to actually publish anything. Then, Wizards of the Coast announced several open calls and I started writing drafts specifically intended for publication. You may have noticed that WotC is not publishing BITE ME. Which is just fine. If I’d done my market research correctly, I’d have known that and would not have wasted their time with an urban fantasy submission.

In 2003, my wife bought me several writing books for Christmas. Among them was WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL by Donald Maas. I found it very eye-opening. I'd suggest the book to anyone who is serious about a writing career. Six months later, I completed my first draft of BITE ME (then called WELCOME TO THE VOID) and we began the long and tedious editing process. Another four months later, it was ready to send out (or so I thought). I sent it in to the Wizards of the Coast open call and several months later, it was rejected. My loyal friends insisted that it was good stuff... really good stuff... and that I shouldn't give up on having it published. I decided it was time to find an agent…

Next time: Agent Search