Books/Library Photography Writing

The Soul of Abram Clark, a Novel

A few minutes past 7:30 on Tuesday evening, I wrote the last word of my first novel. I’m extremely excited about having finished the book that consists of more than fifty thousand words.

The Soul of Abram Clark

I do not plan to self-publish this work, so my immediate task is to find an agent, and/or a publisher. The task is daunting, and I say with all candor that I expect the book will never be published.

In my opinion, the book is of excellent quality, well-written, intriguing, and of a timely subject. I believe it to be worthy of commercial publishing, although I quite understand it is impossible for me to judge that–others must take on that task.

Why then, if you judge the book exceptional, do you say you expect the book to never be published? someone will surely ask. The answer lies with the odds in book publishing.   Listen to these words of  Larry Brooks  from his very fine site: “… for every novel only one out of every 2000 novels written finds a publisher.  And of those that do, the vast majority will have gathered more than a few rejection slips along the way.” Mr. Brooks is not alone in his assessment; all people in the publishing field agree that the chance of selling a book by an unknown author is miniscule.

However, I will move toward publication. While being realistic in my expectations, and while remembering the odds, I plan to take all reasonable steps to have my novel published.

My immediate steps are as follows:

1. Compose compelling query letter.

2. Locate and query agents who are interested in the type of book I have written.

3. Locate and query publishers who are interested in the type of book I have written, and who will accept a manuscript from a writer with no agent.

4. Perfect the first 50 pages of my manuscript. (Typically, an interested agent wants to see this much of the manuscript.)

5. Write compelling back-cover material.

6. Have the manuscript read by a few select people.

7. Begin work on second draft of the complete book . . . then a third . . . then a fourth . . .fifth. . .

Would you like to help me?

I need an agent. Do you have any contact with one, or do you know the brother-in-law of one, or the second cousin once removed of your Aunt Lucy who once was in publishing, or did you hear a friend speak of a friend of a friend who . . .? You get the idea I’m sure.

From time to time through this process, I will publish parts of the novel, as I have done once before. No spoilers, though.

From a couple of pages into chapter 1

Landy moved with the stream of people who headed toward the exit doors. Then, among the crush, Grady Tomes stood before her and extended his hand. She stopped and smiled at the man as the crowd moved around the couple. He was a balloon, puffed up, weaving back and forth with importance. His hand in hers was a round of mush, white and soft. His orbed head was pink with a jagged line of fine white hair that circled around. The edges were damp. His aqua eyes bulged, set over by tufts of brows, as though cotton strands from boles had been stuck on. His mouth was red; his lower lip wet and large.

Landy saw that his clothes were of fine cut and that they had been pressed with skill. The shoes on his small feet were glossy, and in the middle of each ended a pant leg, creased knife-blade sharp.

Landy looked at his rotund middle as he bent toward her. Beads of sweat threatened to spill on her. “Landy, my dear, so excellent to see you here.”

“And you, also, Brother Tomes.”

He dropped her hand, turned, and moved through the people. He did not genuflect right and left as though before an adoring crowd, he only appeared to do so.


Books/Library Goodness of man Grief Life Photography

First Draft Tears–Part 2

The reason I am so emotional about this part of my writing, I have concluded, is that although most of us have quite different backgrounds–and different outcomes–than does Richard in my novel-in-progress, we all have parts of us that have suffered extreme distress. We relate to his fears. For deep inside us, there is a secret place which we keep hidden from the world–sometimes even from ourselves. So when we read (or write) of the anxiety of others, we weep.

Conclusion of chapter 10

Richard crossed one arm over the other, and gripping himself into a cocoon he began to rock back and forth. His hands were clawed into a clench so that Sten could see the hardness of tendon and of pulsing vein. He moaned as he pitched and rolled: He was an unlit night, the dirge of a lone bagpiper on stark hill. His cry was a requiem to that unknown line of forebears who had taken to broken road, and who had given to despair and to neglect.

No one should know such agony, Sten thought as he watched the suffering of his friend. It was an epiphanic time, for at once Sten knew the room had become a birthing space. It was creation; it was a genesis. A new Richard was emerging.

Richard eased to the floor now, wrapped in himself, the keening from his mouth the sound of emergence.

Courage Culture Goodness of man Grief Photography Writing

First Draft Tears

“On your blog, why don’t you publish bits of it as you go along,” someone suggested, knowing that I am writing my first novel. I was opposed to doing so then,  but I am sharing now, although it’s not something I plan to do often. I am doing so because I wept as I wrote this morning.

In a way, I was astonished at myself for crying over words printed on a computer screen about a fictional character. But when I thought more about it, I considered again that novels come from the author’s mind–in this case, from my mind, and that the people in my novel are real to me because in one sense of the word, they are real people. I have seen their lives. I have cried with them, and I have clapped at their accomplishments. I have eaten meals with such people, and have sat in conferences with them. I’ve shared their struggles.

So, from a first draft of my first novel with the working title, The Soul of Abram Clark, I bring you part of chapter 10.

Richard beat on the floor, his two black fists, hammers.

For two hours, Richard and Sten sat on the floor immersed in conversation that was a mix of Richard’s vomiting out hate and fear and of Sten’s projecting hope and understanding. There was no balance in the conversation: Sten listened long and easy, while from Richard spewed a torrent of words and emotions, as though the walls of Hoover dam had split asunder and the pent-up Colorado had rushed to cover land and houses and farms and roads. Or perhaps the escaping river was of oil, black and greasy, that crashed boulders about and that decimated life and that wasted the landscape.

Finally, Richard was finished, emptied. His face was swollen, his eyes almond slits. The two men sat in silence on the living room floor of the Shepler home.

“Richard, Marjorie and I have spoken about this, and we are inviting you to live here with us, permanently. We believe in you and in your potential for success—even for greatness. There is something special inside you—something that you probably are not able to recognize yourself, although somewhere deep inside, my words may resonate with a tiny spark in your heart. Life has tried to beat it out of you and has tried to destroy you. You’ve been kicked around by your mother and abandoned by your father. Drug dealers have pawed over your young body and over your impressionable mind. You have been mutilated and bloodied.

But listen to me, Richard.” Sten again placed his hand on Richard’s shoulder. Richard’s head banked over. His eyes were closed. “You are a survivor. You are of strength. You are steel and of integrity.”

Richard lifted his head and looked straight now into Sten’s face.

“There is an intangible factor within you, Richard. You are destined to make a mark on this world—a positive mark. You will make this world a better place.”

Richard stared, unblinking. Tears began tracking down his mutilated face. He did not move. In an infinitesimal motion, he elevated his head.

“I’m investing in you, and I am positive my return will be of a thousand-fold,” Sten finished.

There you are, the first ones to read from my developing novel. I’m interested in hearing anything you might have to say.

(I don’t know where all those extra quotation marks came from, but I cannot get rid of them. Please ignore them. 🙂  )