Where’s My Supersuit?

I’ve been thinking a lot about comic books lately. I saw both X-Men 3 and Superman Returns at the big screen this past weekend, and with this new cable package that I signed up for, I’ve seen both Superman (1978) and Batman Begins over the span of two weeks. Plus, recent blog posts by Spookycyn and Coltrane Jenkins have me thinking about starting up my collection.

I’ve always loved comic books. I grew up as an X-Men fan (The Dark Phoenix Saga is one of the best comic book story arcs every written, IMHO). Once Marvel got more interested in making a profit instead of entertaining fans, I started collecting DC comics, specifically the Bat Family books. FYI – if you think Wolverine is a badass, you haven’t read a good Batman Comic lately.

I was really surprised by how much I liked X-Men 3. I was never a big fan of Halle Berry as Storm (although Hugh Jackman is dead-on as Logan), but the addition of Beast was great. Plus, while they warped the original Dark Phoenix storyline, the movie was still entertaining.

As for Superman Returns…after much thought, I have deemed this movie to be “okay.” Not great, not horrible, but okay. I was a big fan of Superman I and II (like most fans, I disown the III and IV movie). Unlike Spookycyn, I was a big fan of Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and while I hated the way they portrayed Clark Kent as a bumbling idiot, Christopher Reeve was the prototypical Superman. I like the movies so much, I just overlook the Superkiss (in Superman II) and the way that Kal-El turned back time by reversing the rotation of the Earth in Superman I.

Bryan Singer, the director of Superman Returns, does a good job with showing that this movie is a continuation of Supes I and II. There is one big detail that I hated, but being that my brother hasn’t watched the movie yet, I’ll keep that detail to myself.

I could go into more detail about how the Superman Line was revamped in 1986 and why current fans may not like this movie as much but 1) If you’re a comic book fan, you probably already know and 2) If you’re not a comic book fan, you probably don’t care.

FYI – I asked Mrs. V yesterday if I could start comic book collecting again. She hesitated, thought for a moment, and finally said, “Sure, if you can find someplace to put them.”

She doesn’t know it yet, but the guest bedroom is about to get a few additions.

Right around the corner (literally and figuratively)

One of the nice things about the house is that my office (yes, I finally get my OWN office) is right beside the bedroom, which makes it handy for when I get up at 5:30 in the morning to write. The bad thing is that in order to function at 5:30 in the AM, I have to load up on coffee first. And of course, the coffee maker is on the opposite side of the house (downstairs, in the far right corner). For some reason, staying in bed seems so much more enticing than stumbling around a dark house that early in the morning.

However, after a few weeks of trying (and failing), I finally got out of bed at 5:46 this morning. Maybe it’s because I’m starting to have fun again with my writing. When I start a new manuscript, it’s always tough to get through the first few chapters. But when I finally break through, the writing comes quick and it flows easy, and that’s when I really enjoy the process.

I’ve found that I really, really like my main character. You would think that an author is supposed to love all of his main characters, but that isn’t always the case. Some are too bossy, or too whiny, or sometimes they just make bad decisions that I hate. But I really like Joshua (that’s his name, for now). Maybe there’s more of myself in this character than there has been in my other MCs. Maybe it’s because Joshua is a –

Oops, I almost told more about Joshua than I was supposed to. But don’t worry, if everything goes according to plan, you should be able to read all about Joshua by sometime in 2010. That’s not too far away, is it?

Everything except writing

The worse thing about buying a house is actually moving into it. We’ve been in the process of moving for over 2 weeks. I’ve made more trips to Home Depot in these two weeks than I have my entire life. But we’re close to being finished – I hope.

With all the house stuff going on, my writing has been suffering greatly. I just can’t seem to find the time or the energy to get writing done. Hell, I haven’t even unpacked all my office stuff yet. This week looks to be just as bad; Mrs. V and I are headed back to my hometown for a long weekend, so we have a bunch of house stuff to take care of before we leave town.

While I haven’t found the time to get much writing done, I have found the time to google my name and my novel’s title. On Saturday afternoon, I stumbled across the most peculiar thing – a My Space page that’s named after my novel. I don’t think the owner of the page has even read the book, but apparently she feels like a red polka dot in a world full of plaid.

I think I should be flattered. I’ll let you know how I ultimately feel once the shock wears off.

It’s official

Five bedrooms, 3.5 bathrooms, and a shitload of debt. Homeownership at its finest.

The light at the end of the tunnel

After two years of trudging through classes at UT, Mrs. V finally graduated yesterday with her Master’s in Business Administration (MBA to all of you acronym-happy people). We met a lot of cool (but usually drunk) people through the program, and I’m looking forward to staying in touch with most of them.

Mrs. V and I had an early graduation celebration last week. We went to San Antonio and saw the theatrical production of the Lion King (highly recommended) and visited the zoo. We rounded out the weekend by stopping off in Gruene, TX for an afternoon of tubing down the river.

Writing hasn’t been going too well – with everything else going on, it’s been pretty difficult finding time to write. But I am being productive in the few hours a week I have to write, so I guess I can’t complain too much. This next novel features a male as the main character (MC), but I’m finding that the female lead is really the star of the story. I thought about writing it from her POV, but I kinda like the idea of the reader struggling along with the MC to determine what’s going on with her.

FYI – check our Miss P’s blog entry about getting her first editorial letter on her upcoming book. It’s too funny.

Mr. V Goes House Hunting

Mrs. V and I recently decided to take the plunge and to buy a house. In case you don’t know, houses tend to cost a lot of money and can be a lot of work to upkeep. But with Mrs. V finishing school and getting ready to start her post-MBA job, buying a house is the smartest thing to do (at least in terms of our new tax bracket).

I’m looking forward to moving out of this two bedroom apartment that we’ve been stuffed in for the past two years. And the dogs will appreciate a back yard. But there are a lot things that worry me about owning a house.

1) They cost a lot of money.
1A) We don’t have a lot of money.
1B) The bank has a lot of money.
1C) We owe the bank a lot of money.

I’ve never been big on owing money, but being that we don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars lying around the apartment, we got a home loan. Isn’t it amazing how credit works? Okay, so you have no money, but why don’t you borrow all this money from us, pay it back over 30 years, and we’ll call it good. I guess I’m not complaining, because the bank WILL get their money, and we’ll get our house. It just seems wrong to be able to borrow that much money from someone.

Unfortunately, the new house purchase probably means that I won’t be able to go to the SCBWI Summer Conference in August. I try to go every other year, and being that I went in 2005, I wasn’t planning to go in the first place. But it’s not even an option now, with furniture and lawn mowers and refrigerators to buy.

God willing, if everything goes right, we’ll be able to close at the end of the month. My commute will become a little more hellish, but at least I’ll have my own personal office. That’s worth a few extra minutes in traffic.

FYI – thanks to all the supporters for posting reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I always love reading positive reviews, and I really appreciate the support.

A Rose By Any Other Name

I really like cool titles. Some people say that a title should be simple, and some people say that they should be witty, and some people say that…well, you get the point. I never feel comfortable about a book until I have the perfect title (or, at least my idea of the perfect title) picked for it. My agent and I talked a little about the manuscript that she’s shopping around, and we decided to go with my original title of the book. I actually submitted the manuscript to her with a different, darker title, but she liked the original one better (so did I). Of course, I’m not going to reveal the title (you know how authors are with their silly superstitions), but I will list a few contemporary YA novels that I think have great titles.

An Abundance of Katherines – Okay, so I don’t even know what the book is about, but I love the title. That being said, I loved Looking for Alaska, and I have the feeling that I’ll love anything that John Green writes, even if it’s a grocery list. The title screams witty, funny, and charming. I really wish I was going to BEA in Washington so I could get my hands on a galley.

Stargirl – This is a perfect example of a simple title that works really well (I will admit that I think the cover had a lot to do with the charm of the book as well). Stargirl (aka Susan) is, well, a stargirl. I don’t know if there’s another title that would be better for the book.

Teach Me – The title really tells a lot about the book. The title implies that the book is a little dark, a little naughty…it sounds forbidden.

Life is Funny – So, I don’t know how much this title actually applies to the book, but I love the passage in which the title is quoted in the book. I guess if I were a scholar, I could say that the book teaches you that life doesn’t always end up how you’d want or how you’d imagine it, sort of like “Life is Funny” as in “Life is Strange” or “Life is Unpredictable.” But then again, the only English class I took in college was Technical Writing, so I’m no where close to being a scholar.

A Red Polka Dot In A World Full of Plaid – Hey, don’t act surprised. A little shameless promotion never hurt anyone.

The Problem with Problem Novels

For everyone that reads the blog, I’m sorry for the lapse. I’ve been struggling through the beginning of my current WIP, and I just couldn’t bring myself to blog while I’m trying to clean up the mess that I have so conveniently created.

FYI – my WIP is still a mess, but I just can’t look at it anymore tonight.

I have a big problem with, well, problems. My novels tend to start out very problem-heavy, and I slowly snip away at all of the extra, unneeded problems over the editing period. However, this can take quite a while (three years on my last novel), so I’m determined to try to nip this whole problem thing in the bud before I get too far.

Unfortunately, “nipping it in the bud” basically meant that I wrote the first few chapters of four different versions of the same novel. The characters and the theme are practically the same; I’ve just toyed around with the plot of the novel. And after all of my tinkering, I’m still not sure if I’ve got something that’ll work. I was able to chisel down all of the problems to one major one and a few minor ones while still keeping the characters that I originally envisioned, but then again, my writing always looks good around 11:00 at night.

I’ll sleep on it tonight, and take a look at it again tomorrow. If I still feel good about it, I’ll write a few more chapters and send it to the critique group for their opinion. If they give it a thumbs up, I’ll sent it to my agent to get her say.

And if there are any editors out there that are looking for a novel dealing with drug use, sex, prostitution, mental illness, and child abuse, let me know. I’ve got the perfect novel for you.

Escape to Barnes and Noble

For anyone in the Austin area that likes fantasy, children’s books, or just plain-old good reading, come out tonight (April 5th) and support an Austin author. Jo Whittemore will be signing copies of her new book, Escape to Arylon, tonight at 7:30 at Barnes and Noble on Brodie Lane.

P.S. – I heard that there may be treats there. Come out and satisfy both your book craving and your sweet tooth.

A Good Ending to a Very Good Month

Three things that Brian Yansky and I have in common:

1) We’re both YA authors that live in Austin.
2) We’re both married to wonderful women.
3) We’re both represented by the same agent.

Yes, I’m happy to announce that as of last Friday, I am represented by Sara Crowe of the Harvey Klinger Literary Agency.

It’s almost surreal how fast it happened. I sent an e-query, sent the requested manuscript, and received an offer for representation within the span of 5 days. I actually had to wait a few days after her offer before I could accept because I had another offer from a very good agent. In the end, I felt that Sara was the best fit for me, and I’m really looking forward to working with her.

I want to say thanks to Cynthia Leitich Smith and Brian Yansky for all the advice. A number of other writers were also very beneficial as I weighed my options (you know who you are). And thanks to all the authors on the Verla Kay message boards (if you haven’t checked it out, you should; it’s a wealth of knowledge).

All in all, March ended up being a pretty good month, especially when you count the Essence Best Seller Listing. The only bad thing that happened was that I didn’t win the Delacorte Contest. But as my agent said, I really shouldn’t have entered the contest in the first place. (I really did enter the contest on a technicality, and to be honest, I was felling a little guilty about it).

Thanks for all the support, guys. I’ll be sure to keep you all up to date.