An Agent of Progress

As you all know from my incessant harping about it, I have some major publishing news to announce first on my newsletter—as soon as I have ten new people sign up for the newsletter, which hasn’t been active much up until now. (The signup is over at We’re about halfway there.

Because I’m comfortable with how things are progressing on new projects, I thought I could take some time and go the traditional route with some other works. With my YA mystery Red Is For Ick and my SF novel, Beowulf: In Harm’s Way, I decided to take up the slow, laborious, and often fruitless process of searching for a literary agent.

The good news is that most agents are okay with an author submitting to more than one of them at a time, which speeds up the process. (But only a little, because I take the time to research agents in my search for the right match.) The bad news is that at any one time, there are about two billion agentless authors for every agent who’s looking for a new client. Maybe three billion.

Anyway, once I exhaust all the agents who might make for a good partnership, I planned to go direct to those traditional publishers that accept unagented submissions. Then I would consider independent publishing. Thinking that far ahead shows that my confidence in the traditional publishing process has eroded over the years.

The steps of publishing are measured in weeks—best case scenario. More likely months. Once an author sells a completed manuscript, it’s still often years before it comes out in print. So earlier this week I sent out some queries, along with outlines and sample pages, then moved on to other writing work. No sense waiting by the virtual mailbox.

Within less than 24 hours I got a request for a full manuscript.

I told you that whole story just to show how rare this is. It’s also by no means a guarantee of representation. I’ve received requests for fulls before: Only once did it lead to me getting an agent, years ago, and that didn’t work out. Statistically speaking, I might be no more likely to sign with this agent than the Cubs are to get into the World Series.

But stranger things have happened.

Speak of the Devil: So You Want To Conquer Death?

Speak of the Devil: So You Want To Conquer Death?: With Hallowe'en coming, I thought I would review three films appropriate for this time of year. This is the first. “I do know ...

TV reviews: The Good Place/Timeless

My wife and I budget our television, since we have so many demands on our time such as writing, doctor appointments, playing with the dog and, oh yeah, working for a living.

As a result, we don’t take on too many new TV shows, even if they sound interesting, Generally we only start a new one if one we already watched gets canceled, as happens all too often. So far this year we’ve only checked out two new shows:

The Good Place. I will watch anything with Kristen Bell in it, even if she’s a singing cartoon character (which she was—wonderfully). I’m also a big fan of Ted Danson, so a show joining the two was worth checking out. Turns out it was worth checking out the worth checking out.

Bell is Eleanor, who finds herself in a—well, good place—after dying. The only problem is, something is horribly wrong—and it’s her. Eleanor is just a nasty person, who’s well aware she doesn’t deserve to be in paradise. She soon realizes that mistake is throwing her surroundings into chaos, so she sets out to improve herself, aided by her mistakenly assigned soul mate, Chidi (William Jackson Harper).

Danson plays Michael, who’s an angel, or something, assigned as architect of this little heaven of three hundred or so perfect people. It’s Michael’s first creation, and when things start going wrong he’s puzzled, then panicked. Turns out nobody can play panicked like Ted Danson, just as nobody can play nasty like Kirsten Bell.

I wasn’t sure how they’d manage to continue this concept, but after several episodes it’s getting better and better as we look into the past of all these perfect inhabitants, and realize none is so perfect, after all. In fact, I’m enjoying it so much I’m convinced it will soon be canceled. That’s been the fat of every star-centered show we’ve liked in recent years (for instance, Michael J. Fox and Robin Williams/Sarah Michelle Geller.)

Timeless. I’ve said before that I love a good time travel story. We’ve only seen a few episodes of this one, but they put a great twist in as the characters seek to prevent history from being irrevocably changed—and fail.

Temporarily, I assume. The story concerns a terrorist—or is he?—who steals a time machine and sets off to change the past. Naturally Homeland Security gets involved, assigning an historian, a soldier, and a scientist to go back and stop the bad guy. Abigail Spencer is great as the driven historian, who has exactly the same reaction I would to looking up and seeing the Hindenburg fly overhead.

The story’s fun, if heavy on the plot holes. I think when you’re talking time travel you have to dedicate yourself to the suspension of belief, or you’re stuck with the “why don’t they just send a different team back an hour earlier?” problem. It’s also just a bit too much on the serious side, but this show has Supernatural pedigree, so maybe that will change.

Overall I like the cast and setup, and the effects are good enough for a TV show, so we’ll see. After all, shows don’t get canceled before they have a chance to find their footing. Do they?

College in Autumn

This photo is actually from a few years ago when Emily was still in school, but Indiana University-Purdue University has been in the news lately (not necessarily in a good way). The time of year is about right! This is the Liberal Arts Building, if my rusty memory serves.

I really loved being down at IPFW, which is easy for me to say because it was Emily who had to actually pass the classes. I'd find a nice spot and write, and there were lots of nice spots. I wrote several columns and the majority of two books—maybe three—while she was in school. For a writer, there's something to be said for leaving behind the distractions and errands of home.

Plus, the library was awesome.