Poker Problems

Most games of poker that I’ve played have been boring, because we’ve played for chips. Without anything a stake no one folds. Without anyone folding, you cannot bluff. Because you cannot bluff, it is mostly a game of chance.

Twice in college, I was in games of ‘almost strip poker.’ It seemed like these games should be engaging with something at stake, but they were short and surprising uninteresting. There were more men than women in the games. The men were mostly interested in unlikely possibility of seeing a woman undress. The women insisted on special rules to ensure the game wouldn’t go very far. Obviously, the lack of commitment hurt the game, but beyond that I perceived there was something wrong with the rules we had intuited. If people shed about one article of clothing per hand the game would be over quickly. Players on the fence would bolt quickly.

I asked some friend if they had any insight, but they reacted with ‘gay panic’ as if I had been trying to entice them in to an all guys game (it was the 80′s). The answer came from an old episode of “All In the Family,” in which Gloria and Mike are preparing to go out wearing multiple layers of clothing. The punchline was that they were going to play strip poker. I saw how this could make the game work. If you came to the game with a lot of clothes it could work. You could bet multiple items and win clothes from others. The game wouldn’t go so fast.

At my present age, it seems unlikely that it will ever test this theory in a real game, but it does feed a project idea that I have had for a while. More to come…

 

2014 Year End

So this is the highlight reel for 2014. 2014 was a long year, unhealthy and that’s a good thing

I know that I am supposed to believe that time speeds up as i get older. I get it. Sometimes I’m surprised that Seth is in middle school when I can clearly remember dropping him off at kindergarten. I’m dazzled that now I have been married 13 years, mind It feels like those wine parties in my old apartment could have been a few months ago, healing but it has been almost 20 years. But it is only a trick of memory. All those years were hard won.

Years remembered for milestones, career advancement, exotic vacations, and birthdays ending in “5” or “0,” soar by. 2014 includes memorable experiences with friends and family. Some that come to mind are:

  • New Years – Bundled in the cold around a fire at Jessica’s with marshmallows. A neighbor lectured Pam on the tyranny of public educations.
    Chicken shit bingo with the family and Trish and Hobbs followed by trailer food on East 6th.
  • Chasing sheep on the grassy peninsula on the North Sea of Denark. And in general the whole trip to Europe was great. Highlights included visiting Debbie, Tina and Rion, seeing Pam, Lassa and their children, Russia, Tivoli Park, and the bakery!
  • Thanksgiving in New Orleans. The streetcar driver took a liking to Seth. It was great to see my friend Susan Prevost, with whom I used to scheme on artistic projects in the mid-90s.
  • Game nights with lots of folks playing Werewolf, Cards Against Humanity, etc.
  • Games with Seth at Emerald Tavern and Pinballz
  • Comedy festival with several folks (Pam, Sean, Carol, Allison, Crawford, Giles, Jennifer) Saw Louis CK, Sarah Silverman, Hanable Burgess and more. Sat with lots of friends.
  • Downtown Weekend with Pam including a improv show, the teeter-totter on the roof of the bar, and jazz at the Elephant Room.
  • Storytelling: Carol Ramsey started a story telling group. It was a challenge for me to write and perform personally stories. I attended Mortified and Katie Pendra’s “Do Go Work” show. I later performed at the work show describing my stakeout with the “Robert Redford of Russia” when I lived in Hollywood in my 20’s. The storytelling group fizzled out in the summer with Vanessa, Paul Sontag and I were the last holdouts.
  • Chalice Circle: The previous Fall I joined a Chalice group discussion group at the UU church. The minster provides curriculum which the Chalice Circle uses as a basis for discussion. I initially enjoyed these discussions, but somehow the group never jelled for me. Perhaps I never gave myself fully over to it. One of the late topics was “authenticity” and I realized that I no longer worried about being authentic. I feel authentic enough with still being able to get along with others most of the time. Ha! The group came to a natural close in May. In 2015 i would like to find a new way to explore spirituality.
  • Bangers on Rainer Street.
  • Bastrop Forest Post-Disaster: Bastrop was my favorite hikes nearby. This was my first time back since the disaster of 2011. It was a long how walk through the burnt pines for Pam, Seth, and Pam’s cousin Leeza and me.
  • Former co-worker and friend Micha Light died from complication of Lymphoma. I hadn’t seen her in several years and I didn’t anticipate seeing her except through Facebook. She had a huge personality and will not soon be forgotten.
  • In 2014, now a year after my father’s death, I felt like we were finally coming out of the cloud of sickness and sadness. Though he is still very present, I felt like I’d finally left the battles of 2011 behind (see http://brianwittenbrook.com/?page_id=101).
  • Seth’s first semester in 7th Grade was rough. He had lots of new responsibilities. There were a lot of late nights, self-blame, and stress. Lego Robot team took up a lot of time.
  • Alice’s Restaurant in California with work folks – unfortunately it was not THE Alice’s Restaurant.
  • Lost 35 pounds with Weight Watchers.
  • Mini Maker Fair
  • Austin Playhouse with mom: The Liar, And Then There Where None, & Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Tiger Lilly (Some of these might have been in 2013, I’m not sure).
  • Scavenger hunt for Melissa’s birthday – Melissa moved to Turkey in October.
  • Halloween. We went trick or treating with the Gutierrez. Seth’s friend got sulky because he was trying to catch up with a girl he liked. I told Seth that this was the perfect Halloween coming of age story. November 1, we had a post Halloween party.
  • Trish’s 50’s birthday. Saw Laura & Ryan for the first time in years
  • Lots of snow days in Austin, but no snow.
  • 3 trips to California for work. I got grumpy working in a small lab with lots of people
    Seth traveled most of the summer: Grandpa Q’s ranch, Scout Cam at San Isabel, Europe, Houston, the Beach.
  • Krause Springs for birthday party. Seth jumps of a cliff into the pool.
  • St. Patrick’s Day – Shoulders with Pam and Ellen! All time favorite Austin band. I got sick the next day.
  • Wine and Cheese night. Lots of sticky cheese. A great group of people.
  • Playing pool Lala’s Little Nugget with Pam, Birgit, Paul against the local pool shark.
  • Karoke/Hooka night. Started with a brewery where Pam, Birgit, Paul and I met Sarah and Nick from work. Then we sang out hearts out for 2 hours. Somehow we were still up for trying a Hooka at the place on Airport.
  • Also good Karoke nights with Seth followed by interesting desserts at Yammi, and
  • Karoke Birthday party for Pam.
  • Ellen and Brett’s Jewish/Buddhist wedding. I was honored hold a corner of the huppa.
  • Pat Lockley! Ellen’s wedding gave me the chance to catch up with my college friend Pat Lockley and his wife Julie. I hope to see them in New York in 2015.
  • “Mean Mean Streets,”  my upcoming web video series. I’ve completed one episode and written several more. I drive many miles with Pam, Seth, Jared, Michael M. and Paul S. to get footage. I need a lot more.
  • Trip to Garner State Park in the Spring. Met the Ramsey’s out there. Hiked, went into caves, played with balloons.
  • Bastrop Fall Festival with Corn Maze with the Gutierrez family.
  • Top Golf with O’Cleirighs
  • Drinks at Midnight Cowboy followed by terrible standup comedy at the Velveeta Room with Pam, Birgit, and Paul.
  • Beers with Michael and Sean
  • Arpeggio with Jared and Rie.
  • Frisbee Fridays at work with Jeff, Jared, Gail, Kristen, Birgit, and others
  • Commiserations sessions with coworkers – you know who you are.
  • Favorite films for the year include Boyhood, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The One I Love.
  • Pam and I finally remodeled our office/sitting room (almost complete).
  • Chanukah Party at the Larkins
  • Holiday Party at the Wieners
  • Castroville with Annie, Julian, Madeline.
  • I finished rewriting my first novel, FAILUR, again and I am working with an editor to polish it.
  • Started acupuncture and continued yoga.
  • Seth and I had kolache taste test on Columbus day.
  • Seth travels much of the summer – Europe, Beach, Houston, Oklahoma.
  • Pam and I went on train to Burnet, TX for Snow Piercer (An Alamo Drafthouse Rolling Roadshow.)

Folly at “The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf”

I’m frequently struck by how much I don’t have to say – or at least not post.

I’m in far south Austin. Seth’s robot team meets down here for 3 hours each Saturday. I’m glad he is going it, but the session are boring for me. The other parents seem decent enough, though much more serious than me. Today I retreated to the “The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf” a mile away.

I need to work on the Mean Mean Streets. My web series about a guy driving around and talking about how “mean’ the streets are. Though no one anywhere is exactly asking for it, I’m building out a series of 13 episode. I’ve gotten about 10 scripts which I previously considered ‘close-to-done’ but recently I’ve discovered a loose arc to the series, and I’m going back to rewrite. i understand this is the definition of pure folly, but I want it.

Stupid Candy

stupidcandy

I worked in California last week. I flew in early last Sunday so I could spend the day in San Francisco. I hung out with Uncle Joe, not really site seeing, but wandering around the city. Joe wanted to go to the World Market by the wharf. While he shopped for soaps for his new girlfriend, I found a 75% off sale on what World Market called “nostalgic candy.”  Nostalgic candy consists of brands that were popular sometimes between the 70’s and the great depression. We are mostly composed of 90% sugar shaped into gelatinous or crispy blocks and generally tasting vaguely of fruit or peanut butter. At work we have another name for these: Stupid Candy. After Halloween bags of leftover candy appear at work. The Snickers, M&M, and Skittles are gone by November 2. What remains are the Dots, Juicy Fruits, mini Chick-O-Stick, and those gray and brown crunchy rectangles that taste of peanut butter. While it is clear that these are stupid candies, some of us at work discovered a mutual affection for these, and have been known – on occasion to buy these on purpose and bring them into the office. The most divisive of all the stupid candy are the Circus Peanut. Circus Peanut are study orange marshmallows shaped roughly like peanuts and tasting somewhat banana flavored. Most people claim to hate these, including apparently World Market’s clientele. I was able to snag bags of Circus Peanuts, Pixie Sticks, and Squirrel Nut Zippers for 50 cents each (actually, I have never had Squirrel Nut Zippers before and had bought them because of the band popular in the 90s.) In the office on Monday, stupid candy provided as unpopular and divisive with people I was working with in California was it was back home. Fortunately, I knew that my coworker Kara, who was also traveling from Austin would help me with the stupid candy.

The stupidest candies of the week were M&Ms from the “honor bar” in my hotel room. These were stupid because of they were priced at $7, they probably cost the hotel about 40 cents, and I was charged nothing. This was real stupid candy – a fiction of value. The hotel gave me $10 credit toward their ridiculously high priced candies that cost them almost nothing.

I ate them anyway. I’m not going to pass up free M&Ms.

Hertz gave me a Prius this time. I appreciate Priuses, but I don’t really like them. Visibility is obstructed and when you go in reverse, the car beeps on the inside. I’m not sure what that is about. They gave me a Prius 2 year ago. I had trouble starting it. There were a lot of buttons, i wasn’t sure which to press. Most cars, I turn the key and lightly tap the gas. In a Prius, if your foot is not on the brake when you push the start button, you are completely screwed – you have to shut the whole thing down. This was not intuitive to me. I kept trying to push buttons in different sequences. I sat there stuck in the parking lo, until I finally called my dad who owned a Prius. We was already in Houston with Mom by that time chasing a cure, and I still called him for advice sometime. Except for the crappy visibility, I had no problem with the Prius this time. But I missed my dad’s voice.

 

 

 

 

 

They were in a bag banded with the hotel logo slightly larger than the “King Size” bags found at the gas station convenience store, and like everything else in the honor bar, they ridiculously overpriced, but the hotel had given me $10 credit  .  I guess

Unexpected Boobs

The trouble is that unexpected boobs are popping up at work on the iPad in the gym while working out on the elliptical in the company gym leaving me fumbling to find the off button.

In both cases boobs were motivated by the story. In “The Comeback”, price a young, unhealthy attractive, pharm unselfconscious actress (Malin Ackerman) undresses making the neurotic had-been older actress (Lisa Kudrow) feel even more uncomfortable and insecure. In “Orphan Black,” Tatiana Maslany (or body double?) flashes side boob and a lot of butt, so her character, Sarah is trying to distract her doppelgänger’s boyfriend to keep him from realizing she is an impostor. The real motivation is more likely that these were both pilot episodes hoping that boobs and the promise of possibly more boobs would get repeat viewers. Pam and I have started watching Orphan Black (at home) and further boobs have not been seen.

At the gym at work, I started watching the HBO mini series, “John Adams,” thinking that Abigail Adams (Laura Linney) would probably not flash her boobs. So far she has not, but about 3/4 in an unruly Boston crowd angered by the Crown’s mandates strip a man naked, so now I’ve got penis flopping about on the iPad at the gym.

Shadows and Falls

Seth jumped off a cliff at Kruse Springs last weekend. It took a while. He sat at the edge for several minutes daring himself to do it. But he did it. I never would have done that at his age and I have no intention of doing it now. Rationally I think there is a very low probability that I would get injured, view but I don’t like falling.

He is much braver than I was. Yet, Seth is still afraid of the dark. Nothing wrong in that. Life will eventually force him to deal with it and he will grow out of it. When I was young (maybe 7), I remember brushing my teeth. The bathroom was across the house from my the family room where my parent were that night. As I brushed my teeth I saw something rush behind me. I looked up, but nothing was there. A little later it rushed back. I ran in terror across the length of the house. My parents tried to sooth me, but shadows don’t shrink at parent’s words. They told me that sometimes the lights flicker in the mirror, or sometime like that. While I don’t believe that I actually saw was dangerous or unnatural, but also, looking back, I realize my parent’s explanation was utter nonsense.

Everything Down

All of the post below this I wrote a while ago. I’m sure they are quite clever, but I largely do not remember. Likely the best thing for me to do would be to purge them (at least the worse of them) so that I can present a consistent personal brand. However, for the moment, I’m leaving them intact. Perhaps some time, I will revisit those posts and compare to the new ones: see what I’ve lost, and see what I’ve gained.

Before Sunrise / Before Sunset – Short Review

Watched Before Sunrise and Before Sunrise back to back on Netflix. “Sunrise” was like those rare relationships in my 20s and early 30s that were magnificent, help exciting, and very short lived. “Sunset” was about romanticizing those relationship and bemoaning the complexities of a sustained relationship. The charm of the movies is the connection between the characters. Sure, we want the main characters to get together, but there is a reason why movies are about the beginning or end of relationships and not about the day-to-day.

As a side note – turns out Julie Delpy has the same birthday as me.

Hanna – short review

The plot is stock action movie. A teenage girl bred & trained to be a killer must defeat forces bent on destroying her. It’s also a weirdly artsy coming-of-age movie. A silly conceit is that Hanna only knows music from the dictionary definition, but In her travels she gets to discover music from many different cultures. I liked how they wed action tropes and a sense of wonder. Don’t think about it too hard and Hanna is an fun film of self-discovery and graphic violence.

Slouching

It almost exactly six months since I started my new job, buy finished writing my latest novel, and lost my ambition. At first I was just taking a break after some intense efforts, but time dragged on and my inability to focus (or care) about a project or direction has become annoying. It feel now that I’m going to have to give up not having a direction. I got get feedback on my novel, FAILUR, that support what I’ve been thinking, that it need to be rewritten. I started an Improv class and I would like to follow that through until I’m ready to perform for an audience. I want to get my PMP certification this year. I want to read more.

Despite all of these myriad wants, I still feel a sense of futility and laziness. I’m not good without a plan. I feel ungrounded. I’m not good at lying to myself about my commitment. I’ve been able to ride these last few months – and maybe I should allow some time – but it’s been too long.

Killing Time

I’m still mostly killing time. I’m playing lots of solitare in that time I have reserved to to great things at the computer. I’ve concluded that being a novelist is a crappy job and that fame is a racket. It doesn’t stop me from wanting to publish a novel. Perhaps I will rewrite FAILUR.

The dog died yesterday. She was old and sick. We could just say ‘it was her time.’ I listen to my son, 7, tell his friend on the phone that “these things happen.” Even babies die sometimes in their mother’s bellies, he says. I’m freaked out, but cool outside.

 Watched the new V series tonight. It was way Cheesy. In an hour they raced through the introduction of the alien visitors, public reaction, the “relevation: the aliens weren’t benign, and the formation of the resistance movement. The character were thin and the dialog was bad.

 There were elections today somewhere. A lot of idoits are talking about them being a referendum on Obama. A lot of people need something to talk about to sound important.   

Chewing on Rejection

I sent out my first batch of queries today for November Underground and got my first rejection. I don’t feel – as I did before – like I’m in a big hurry. Maybe I can take this slow. See if I can learn something. It’s clear to me I have no idea what I’m doing. That’s not exactly true, ed following the prescribed route. I’m researching agents, polishing queries, following guidelines. I’ve learned the rules. The problem is that the rules overwhelming lead to failure. The problem is that I have been writing too long, and my head isn’t in this selling/distribution game. It’s not tangible enough. It’s not something I can chew on. I can’t taste it yet.

I am actually reading now. I just finished a book called The Art of Racing in the Rain. It’s a drama narrated by the family dog. What made the book was the voice and the racing analogies. The plot was thin.

Success, Failure, Bare Feet

One

At first my feet might seem like a good symbol for my unemployment. They started hurting almost immediately after I was laid-off. Over time, drugs weeks they have gotten tougher. It would be tempting to conclude that I have been “pounding the payment” looking for opportunities. But in fact, my job hunt was mostly conducting at the computer or the phone. The reason my feet hurt is because I was barefoot almost all the time walking around on hard floors. So my feet are not a very good symbol for my unemployment.

Two

At the beginning of the year my family spent some time in a cabin in Bastrop with some friends. If you don’t know those cabins, they are constructed of stone and long planks of timber. They have a rough beauty. They were built by boys who were part of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) during the Great Depression. Intellectually, I had understood had been clear for many months before New Years that 2009 was going to be a bad year. I wondered then if the catastrophe would become as tangible for us as the wood and rock had been for those boys. Losing my job certainly made the disaster more personal. While there was anxiety, however, I have really suffered. There were no great sacrifices (at least not yet). So I can’t really say that I understood what life was like for those boys or indeed for the many that had lost more in current economic environment.

Three

I heard something that seemed to be to be a good symbol for success. You may remember last year the criminal Bernie Madoff, convicted of running a +$50 billon Ponzi scheme. What caught my attention was a statement by investigator Harry Markopolos. He said that it took him about five minutes looking at Madoff earning reports to determined that the man was a fraud. The earning showed steady growth year after year, unaffected by trends in the market, the price of oil, wars or the weather. His profit rose on a forty-five degree angle with time on the X-axis and growth on the Y. An arrow of wealth shooting toward heaven. Icarus flying to the sun, kissing it, and continuing on forever. It’s amazing that Madoff wasn’t caught sooner. It’s amazing he wasn’t awarded a Nobel Prize. Isn’t this, the arrow forever rising, our ideal of success? It’s the nation’s talisman, a roadmap, a diagram of our dreams.

Four

The day before I lost my job, our refrigerator broke. On the morning I was laid-off I was working from home, waiting to hear from the repairman. I got a meeting request from a manager asking me to come into the office for a “mandatory business update.” The very ambiguity of the request made the topic crystal clear – no sudden face to face meetings with unnamed topics are good. I had to wait nearly four hours for the meeting. I stopped working. I was distracted and it seemed pointless. Instead, I cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer. The refrigerator was probably the best symbol of the layoff. The refrigerator and especially the freezer was an archive of our intentions, and of our culinary failure. There were vegetable we though we should eat. There were condiments that we’d hoped would spice up our evening. There was food we bought on whim, and those we though would change our live style. The freezer was so packed that we could only buy a couple frozen foods each trip to the store. I salvaged a little. I threw the rest away – the good intentions with the bad. The refrigerator was bare. We could start over again.

Abandoned

There is a quote that an author never finishes a novel, just abandons it. I’ve abondoned my manuscript tonight. I’d guess it won’t last long. I’d called it finished last week an then turned right around and found 500 words to remove. In finding those words I became edgy about some key scenes. But after staring at them another hour, I had to turn away, or else I would tweak them forever. The difference between improving and tinkering is sometime so subtle its imaginary.  I had to force myself to walk away.

November Underground Rewrite – 01

I was pleasantly surprised by the opening of the novel when I went back to reread it. Sure, link It was sloppy, find but I’d also put some good things in it. It’s a brief vignette focusing on a teenager girl living on a ranch outside of Austin who finds Ludd’s body and some other strange things. She’s a throw away character, shop we won’t see again in the story, but she lets me set a tone that is at once dark and full of the anxious-heady possibilities of the times (and of day, as I write this it is January 20, 2009). I also use her to introduce the year 1970 in a personal (albeit superficial) way – which is what I wanted. I didn’t want to get bogged down to much in setting the time at the beginning more than I had to. The politics, war, technology, will soon become clear through the plot. Finally, the girl who is excited about going to the university and leaving her ranch home which she as backward (behind the times) allows me to use the word “anachronism” in the first few paragraphs of the novel.

I am less pleased with the introduction of junior reporter Franklin. I like the way he stands in the crowd and yet apart from it. All the pieces are there, but the execution needs work and in the end it’s the execution that matters.

The beginning is rough. Every word is worth double, as I need to manage interest and carefully set expectations. I’m hoping that once I get past the beginning the rewrite will go faster.

Will anyone notice if there are no Weekends?

I am reviewing the draft of Rose November now and made some observations. One is that there are no weekends! The story covers the period of 2-3 weeks (with some excursions). In my review I’m in the seventh day with businesses open, salve schools in session, no breaks. For most of the rest of the story this won’t matter because all hell breaks loose and no one is working – Sunday and Monday don’t matter any more.

The main action is set in the fall of ’70, some weeks after the Weather Underground sprung Timothy Leery out of prison and days after Janis Joplin’s death. With the outline I had a pretty good idea of how many days passed, but I knew things would shift a little in writing the draft (the time it took for several of my characters to travel from Austin to San Francisco partly on foot and hitchhiking for instance). Writing the draft I didn’t want to tie myself to exact dates that would slow me down. Now, I need to fix it. I should fix it.

Part of me wonders if I can get away with it. Will anyone count the days? Will anyone notice that my Austin of 1970 is a place of perpetual work without break?

Perhaps it would be better if I had never found out. I could blissfully send out the story without knowing. Later I would have to make up an explanation that it was a parallel Austin with 9 days weeks, and that this was actually important to my story, because it showed the relativity of causality when viewing time from different vantage points.

It’s my world, why not?!

First Draft of November Underground Complete

I’ve completed the draft of November Underground, view my second novel. Now I have to rewrite it by summer. Currently it is 108k words. I would like to cut it down to 85-90, recipe 000. There is a lot more work to be done, but I’m slowing down a little while I review the manuscript and let it sink in. It feels like a weight has lifted – but this is illusionary. Soon I will be stressed that I have not made enough progress on the rewrite.

Regarding FAILUR, it could use a minor rewrite I think. I’ll come back to it when November Underground is out. I think NU will be the manuscript that I will try to sell through conventional markets and FAILUR will be the one I work though new/online channels. More on this later.

Potential Problems with First Novels

I still believe the biggest problem with my first novel is that it’s quirkiness and genre bending makes it hard to market. I have come to believe that it needs a rewrite. Whatever else is true of my second novel, cheap I will easy to describe. People will be able to “get it” much quicker.

I have heard it said that writer’s rarely publish the first novel they write. If this is true – I’m not sure that it is – then the most obvious reason is because most authors’ first novels suck. After their first novel, ask they work through some problems and their next novel is better. While this is a likely explanation, treatment it is not my favorite explanation. One possibility is that writers improve their skills to market their writing. My favorite explanation is that an author’s first novel is the most personal, innovative, and idiosyncratic. Perhaps many author start writing that truly personal vision into their first novel. Then again perhaps the line between personal and idiosyncratic and sucking is real but very narrow.

Promises at the Conference

I stopped by the writer’s conference for a beer. I had decided not to attend the conference this year, clinic as I am not really in a good position to pitch this year. I’ve decided that I’m probably going to rewrite FAILUR. I think I can make it a lot tighter. Now matter what I do to it, drug it is going to be an odd beast. I had a beer with Doug and talked to some other writers. As usual the conference was a mass of tension as writers agonized over getting and keeping agents attention. I saw Jennifer briefly. She had won an award for her newer novel, remedy and was getting some attention from agents. With any luck she’ll break through soon.

I made a promise to myself while at the conference, that I would be pitching my new novel at next year’s conference (if not well before). I also decided that I would rewrite FAILUR and create some podcast – though I stopped short of promising myself on a date.

The Winter Campaign and Beyond

I have determined that from a marketing perspective FAILUR is a hybrid freak. My werewolves go to dinner. They argue about whose turn it is to do the dishes. My monsters wish they had better jobs. There is suspense in the story, healing but it is not primarily an action/adventure – in a sense the story is about the protagonist’s quest to find suspense.

Early on, I stressed the exotic and adventurous part of the story to agents (the serial killer, the ghost, the doomsday prophecy). I got some interest. But the agents who read a portion of it said it “didn’t develop fast enough” or something else indicating it was slow. I’d set the wrong expectation. They were expecting a fast paced, hard-boiled, urban fantasy.

Last time I told you that I changed my strategy for how I present the novel to agents. For one thing, changed the name for the novel from “FAILUR: A Werewolf Love Story” to just “FAILUR.” I’ve also changed my query. I think the new query more accurately reflects the contents and tone of the novel. I like it because it is storytelling as much as it is a sales pitch. The risk is that some agents will think this is gimmicky.

Please consider representing my story FAILUR. Though it has been a while since my fifteen minutes of fame, you may recall my role in stopping the “Harbinger” serial murderer. The mainstream media’s version of the event was sensationalized and manipulated by politicians and special interests. FAILUR will be the first time real story is told.

FAILUR is about my life leading up to the events at ‘the Altar’ on the so called Night of the Penultimate Motion. I hadn’t planned to become a werewolf. No one does. At first, I did what was expected. I went to the support groups. I medicated and quarantined myself. It was killing me. I’m not sure how I would have stilled the electricity in my limbs or the spinning wheels in my mind, had I not met Amanda Cross.

Amanda was not as she had been portrayed in the media. She was a creative free-spirit who loved to laugh (admittedly, she did have a bit of an edge). We were malcontents. Our lives were not going as planned. We were sick of the fake choices others offered us. When the prophecy seemed to come true, and the world started falling apart around us, we thought that we had just as much right as anyone to do something about it. We really didn’t know what we were doing. At first we were just wandering. We were reckless. We didn’t really mean to find trouble.

FAILUR is not just a book for werewolves. It will appeal to anyone who knows what it’s like to feel a little lost when their life plans have been derailed. It’s a story for anyone who has had trouble finding their own way.

I have included the first pages of the manuscript. The complete manuscript is 109,000 words and it is available upon request.

NOTE: While I am willing to work with editors to emphasize parts of the story they feel are of public interest, I will not comment on Ms. Cross’s present status (for reasons that are made clear in the narrative). I hope this is not a deal breaker.

I’ve used this pitch for two batches of queries. While I did not get agent representation from the first batch, I feel like I got better rejections. I can’t prove this. It is a subjective observation. I still got more form rejections than anything else. But I did get a few people wanting to read some pages, and some of the rejections seemed better thought out. My query even prompted at least one agent to go to my website.

I sent out another batch of 20+ queries recently. I’ve already received a number of form rejections. Most haven’t responded yet and maybe never will. Two agents liked the query, they read a few pages and they wanted to read more. It is normal for it to take agents between 4-8 weeks to read a manuscript. I’ve keep you posted.