Thursday, January 20, 2011


Brad Meltzer
I'm proud to say Brad Meltzer has become a cherished friend.

You just want to rub that smooth dome of his, hoping that some of the knowledge locked inside will transfer.  His latest thriller, The Inner Circle, surprise, surprise, is on the New York Times bestseller list.

If you haven't discovered by now, Brad is also a social networking addict.  He's crossed the line!  He tweets constantly on his Blackberry.  He was exercising his digits prior to being interviewed by me on television.  He can't help himself and when you consider the degree of success he's had, you can't blame him.  Hell, I should be emulating him!

You know you've made it to the mountaintop when in the green room, the one and only Chaka Khan told him that she religiously watches his History Channel show, Decoded.  What is it with bald guys impressing the chicks?  Yul Brynner, Telly Savalas, Michael Jordan -- Brad Meltzer!  To be fair, when he was in college at the University of Michigan, it was hard to tell Brad apart from Joey Lawrence.

Colleagues at work who've been living in caves, asked me afterward about Brad.  They were intrigued by his synopsis of The Inner Circle.  Aside from being a first-rate storyteller, Brad is also a freak researcher and it pays off by making his books compelling reads.

I made a huge mistake the other day by starting to read The Inner Circle.  I did this while tweaking my novel and brainstorming the next one.  Of course, it was hard to put the darn thing down.  It now occupies a spot on my nightstand next to the bed.

Brad is also a work-alcoholic, dabbing in writing comic books such as Batman, Superman, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (okay, there has to be good story behind that one).  I guess a guy has to make a living.

Trying to gain whatever insight I can about the writing business, Brad informed me the process basically never stops.  He runs his manuscripts by his wife, a brutal trip down reality lane as I've come to discover as well.  His agent is a former editor so she makes suggestions and then he gives a few trusted friends a look too.  All that before the publisher ever sees the work.

The craft of fine tuning your query letter pays off as well.  Leaving nothing to chance, Brad also wrote the description inside The Inner Circle jacket cover.

I could talk at length about Brad's preparation but hey, I've got writing of my own to do.  And then there's that damn The Inner Circle waiting to tuck me in for the night.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


Short Coffee Break

Ah, a new year.

Smells like opportunity.

Agents are refreshed, ready to devour query letters and publishers are awaiting the next big thing.  What you have to be saying at this point is, "Why not me!"  Surely during the holidays you didn't just sit around feeding your face.  Surely you spent some valuable time writing, plotting, touching up your manuscript.  Is that query letter the best it can be?  Have you done your homework on potential agents in order to make your query stand out among the wave of others?

It's not easy work, but if you're serious about being a writer, you already know that.  I can't think of anything I've done in my life that has been more mentally and physically draining.  From plot to finish, wait, did I say 'finish'?  Make that from plot to rewrite, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite and then finish, writing will test your resolve.  But like a good workout, you'll feel better for having completed it.

If you haven't already, you should establish a link and follow some agents you like.  Their musings are often insightful, sometimes humorous and can serve as a guide for polishing up your act.  Some agents even give you an indication of what's trending in the business and novels they're excited about.  I still find myself visiting Janet Reid's blog from time-to-time because she has this obsessive contest where you have to write a story  using 100 words or less, including five words she provides.  It's a fun exercise and you'll be surprised at much it streamlines your writing.

My book is getting ready to be pitched to publishers (fingers crossed) and while that agonizing period is underway, I'm working on book No. 2.  Might as well drive myself crazy even further.  I'm beginning to understand Hemingway more and more.

Oh, and there's a life I still have to pay attention to -- wife, two kids, two dogs, a job that pays me, or more correctly, pays the bills and IRS.

Ah, writing, what a great relaxer.