Thursday, August 11, 2016

Like a Boomerang - I'm Back!

Hi all

It seems that life takes out a flyswatter every so often and whacks me upside the head, and when I finally come to, months have passed. But fear not. I'm just giving this quick update to let you know that I'm still around and still writing.

At the beginning of the year, I set some new goals for myself. I put aside all my old writing and resolved to write one new piece of writing per month and to work on one brand spanking new book this year. 

So how am I doing? 

So far, the one new piece of writing a month - which I'm referring to as George's year of half-baked ideas - is working out swimmingly. I've even had one month where I wrote more than one. None of those pieces will win any awards, even if you set the bar REALLY low (with a couple exceptions, which I'll go into in a minute), but the work is getting done, which is the most important thing.

As for the book, well, that's a whole other story. I DO have an idea. I've had it kicking around for a long time but didn't know what to do with it. Then I attended the Writing in Reverse workshop given by K. R. Conway ( at the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators spring conference, and suddenly it opened my eyes to a whole new way of approaching my novel idea. It also forced me to point out some problems I've been creating for myself when writing novels in the past. Now granted, the techniques I learned are more in line with a "plotter" type of writer, and I consider myself more of a "pantser", but I'm hoping that a combination of these two disciplines will be the way to go. The notes I took at this conference will definitely help me get there. Even though I haven't technically started my new novel yet, there's also National Novel Writing Month coming up in November, and if I can get the "plotter" stuff out of the way before then, I'll be free to write by the seat of my pants like I normally do. 

One final thing. Back to the one piece of writing a month thing. Not all of my new ideas are in the rough draft, unsubmittable state. I decided to submit two of the pieces, both of them non-fiction geared toward 3rd-4th graders, as part of a submission package to a publisher where I was hoping for an opportunity for some write-for-hire type of work - another first for me. The editor who reviewed my work loved my writing, so now I'm (hopefully) in the rotation for new work that might come! For now, I'll leave out the details until something more concrete happens, but it did help to justify my decision to come up with some new, fresh ideas for this year.

That is all for now. I'm off to buzz around a bit more and avoid the flyswatters so that I can come back for another report soon. Also, I have a huge backlog of books to review for George's Backlogged Book Reviews page, which I'll hopefully be getting to soon as well. So stay tuned!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Cover Reveal for Death of an Assassin by Ian Hiatt

Hi all

Author Ian Hiatt is busy working on release info for his first novel, Death of an Assassin, which will be out June 16th of this year, so he'll be guest blogging closer to that time.  

In the meantime, I am including the description and the cover reveal of his new book here, along with info on the author, so you can check out more upcoming details and news directly from him.

So, without further ado, here is the cover of Ian Hiatt's new book, Death of an Assassin.


How cool is that? And if you think the cover is awesome, the description will hook you even more. This one's definitely going on my To Read list:


Technically, Layla hasn't killed anyone. Ask the witnesses. It was a misstep here, a trip-and-fall there—accidents happen.

And Layla is paid very well to ensure that they do.

Her mother once traced their lineage back to ancient times. Go flip throughThe Odyssey. Some great-great-great grandmother is in there beckoning sailors to rocky deaths. For eons her kind has made it their business to bring hapless men to quick and messy ends. Layla can't help it that Saint Roch City has job listings for someone who can cause blameless death. You go where the work is.

When the most difficult hit of her career goes sideways, Layla finds out that what she's been told about her own history may not be so accurate. And there is no forgiveness in the business of assassinations. When you're paid to kill someone, there better be a dead body.

Either the mark's—or yours.

If you would like to learn more info about Ian Hiatt and follow his journey to publication, or if you would like to know where you can find his book, you can check out his bio, where I've included information on where else he can be found on the Internets:


Ian Hiatt is the crazy guy who lives on your block. You know the one that all the neighborhood kids point at and whisper about. He’s cleverly hidden himself by marrying an incredibly tolerant woman and finding himself an adorable dog. This is the best disguise for living in New England. The villagers have not yet run him out of his castle.

When he’s not scrawling delusional words about mythical-filled cities or dinosaurs, he’s busy tapping out code for websites and software. If he’s kept away from writing implements, he treks aimlessly through forests hiking trails, across abandoned beaches, and wandering the shelves bookstores. These three things don’t overlap except for that one time, and that was a really weird day.


Official Website:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Upcoming Stuff

Hi all

Just checking in for a bit to let you know what's happening.

First, I'm still on track with my goals, although this month has been incredibly busy. Seeing as though I've had little time to write, I only managed to get in 10 words. But, it's a story! And, I did something I said I wouldn't do. I submitted it to a contest. For anyone who's interested in what the 10-word story contest could possibly be, check it out here. There's still time to submit your own 10-word masterpieces, and if you win, you could have a chance to take a free writing course at Gotham Writers Workshop:

Second, after years of being away, I'll be attending the 2016 Spring New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators conference. I'm excited to finally be going back to this. In past years, I've opted to go to Book Expo America instead - thus all the books I've been reviewing here - but I feel I need to get back to the writer conferences for some inspiration. I'm doing an abridged version this year. It's a 3-day conference, but I'll only be attending 2. I opted not to have any of my work professionally critiqued, mainly because I made the decision to put away all my old writing for this year. Also, none of my new writing is ready to be professionally critiqued.

Finally, this Friday, I'll have a guest on my blog - author Ian Hiatt - who will be revealing the cover of his first novel and will have some words to say about it. It's always exciting to hear about first novel news!

That's all I got for now. Thanks for listening.  

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

2016 Goals - Better Late Than Never

Hi all

I suppose you're all wondering where I've been. Not to worry. I'm still writing. I've just stepped back a little bit.

At the beginning of this year, I reviewed my goals for 2015, and I found that I didn't do too badly. To summarize, they were:

1. Submit one previously unpublished story per month.

2. Submit one book.

I basically missed May, August, and November of goal #1, but I hit all the other goals. However, at the end of the year, I felt very discouraged. Between the rejections and the fact that most of the submissions were older ones I had kicking around that didn't have a home, I felt creatively bankrupt. I felt I needed to do something to "prime the idea pump", as they say. 

So, without further ado, here are my goals for 2016 - better late than never, I always say:

1. Write one new piece per month.

2. Write one new book.

"But wait, George," you say. "Just hold on a minute. Aren't those goals pretty much the same ones as last year?"

Au contraire, my fine blog reader friends. They are NOT the same. In fact, there are two distinct differences between this year's goals and last year's.

The first is the word "new". This year, I have decided to shelf all my completed work. It's going in the bottom drawer. It's gathering dust for the year. Based on feedback I've been receiving on some of them, it's just as well. I get the sense the literary world is tired of seeing it. 

More importantly, I'm starting to feel the same way. I've been looking at some of them for far too long. It's time to put them away, start something fresh, and learn new things, in the hopes that when the day comes where I take those out of the bottom drawer again, I can look at them with a fresh perspective.

The second is a little more subtle. Notice that I didn't use the word "submit" but rather the word "write". This takes the pressure off me to send something out every month that may not be ready to go. I don't need any of the baby birds to go plummeting to their deaths just because I couldn't wait to kick them out of the nest. This year, they're staying with me for a while until they're really ready. 

Yes, I'm going to be a helicopter parent to my writing this year. 

Also, this frees me to be a little more experimental. I can already tell I'll enjoy having an entire month to try out new ways of telling stories. In fact, for the month of January and February, I've been dabbling in writing poetry, which is something I'm not very, ahem, well-versed in. 

So there you have it. My goals for 2016. Let me know what you think. And feel free to share your goals for the year. I'm interested in what others are doing and how things are going.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

A Slap in the Face, Part 2, or: Evil Editor Strikes Again

Hi all

It's with a heavy heart that I come to you to report on the fate of my query for my MG fantasy novel, Oliver and the Underlings. See, I did it again. I sent another version of the query to Evil Editor, and, well...  here, see for yourself:

It's times like these where I question why I'm doing this writing thing, and my sanity. Instead of making progress, I appear to be going backward. 

I've had people ask me why I just don't work on another project and put the current ones - Oliver an the Underlings and The Vanilla Wafer Chronicles - aside. To answer that question, let me provide a glimpse into my writing schedule:

Sunday - no writing time
Monday through Friday - 1 hour per day available to write
Saturday - no writing time

In that one hour per day that I have to write, I have to decide the following:
     - Do I work on something new?
     - Do I work on an existing project?
     - Do I critique something that I've promised to someone else?
     - Do I write a blog post such as this one?
     - Do I write a book review?
     - Do I read?
     - Do I take care of some other personal business that needs                  taking care of?
     - Do I do none of the above and go out for a walk or something?

Thinking about this logically, the best course of action would be to get the existing projects to a point where they're viable for publication. The rest of the options seem either insurmountable or activities that, while all necessary, noble, and/or enjoyable, take me away from my own writing. 

In addition, and with all logic aside, I have a passion for these finished books. I feel there IS something important there, even if no one else can see it because I can't seem to convey that effectively to others.

If there's anyone out there reading this blog, do you struggle with any of these issues? Are you restricted with the time you have to write? How do you decide what to do during the times you sit down at your desk? Do you finish current projects first before starting something new? What do you do when a query is just not hitting any marks? Is there somewhere you go to for help? Do you shelf it and start something else?

Feel free to chime in with any advice in the comments.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Writing Intentions Check-In

Hi all

Just a quick check-in with my writing intentions for the year.

In a word? They're going: OK.

Here's where things stand so far:

My writing goals for 2015:
1. Submit at least one previously unpublished story per month: NOT MET - missed May and August so far
2. Submit at least one book for the year: DONE!

May came and knocked me around a bit, between kids' end of school things, work-related projects, etc. What happened in August? I'm not sure. Maybe the Universe really does require balance and thought I needed to skip the 5th month from the END of the year along with the 5th month from the BEGINNING of the year.

As for getting any of my submissions published, no such luck in that dept. either. Rejections, or no answers, so far.

So do I just throw in the towel on the whole writing intentions thing? I want to sometimes. I hate it when I don't meet my own goals. But then I shake my head, dust myself off, and keep writing, because that's what writers do. They fall short of their goals, they miss deadlines, they try harder, and sometimes - and let's be honest, it really is sometimes - succeed! But that sometimes can only happen by putting in the effort. Otherwise, the sometimes turns into never.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

2015 Writing Intentions Progress, May Days, and BEA

Hi all

Sorry for the long absence, but a lot of things have been going on, both non-writing and writing related.

Here's a summary of my writing related activities:

First, just a quick update on my writing intentions for this year. So far, I'm on track! In March, I only submitted one story, and it's one that I've submitted before, but I did a bit of editing on it and sent it out. It got rejected recently, but that's OK. Rejections are a sign of activity for a writer. In April, I sent out an application for the Boston Public Library's Children's Writer-in- Residence Program, which is a program designed to give both financial support and an office space to emerging writers who are currently working on a children's book. Last year, I applied using my middle grade novel Oliver and the Underlings as my proposed book. This year, I entered using The Vanilla Wafer Chronicles. The selected winner will be announced in July. Keeping my fingers, toes, etc. crossed!

Second, I am currently participating in the May Days challenge which a bunch of my writer friends are participating in. The goal is to just get people writing every day for the month of May. I saw that the original concept for the group was to write at least 2 pages a day, so I'm making that my goal, since I tend to work better with concrete goals such as that. So far, I've only written 10 pages of a new novel I'm working on based on a novelette I had previously written. But it's 10 pages more than I had at the beginning of the month.

Finally, I have decided to attend Book Expo America (BEA) 2015. I've mentioned it before, but for those who don't know, BEA is basically the largest book trade fair in the United States. I'm going there because, despite me not wanting to go because I STILL have books from past BEAs I haven't read or reviewed yet, I get to meet some amazing authors and other publishing professionals, hear what's going on in the publishing world, get inspired, and, of course, get an opportunity to get some ARCs of some amazing books by some amazing authors. This year it's being held in New York City from May 27th to May 29th. I also heard next year it's moving to Chicago, which is another reason I've decided to make the trip this year. I doubt I'll have the opportunity to travel to Chicago once it moves. I'll still continue to do my best to review all the books I've gotten there. Keep an eye on George's Backlogged Book Reviews on my blog.

That's all the news that's fit to print for now. More to come. Thanks for following!