2014, Fear, Speed dating, Sleepwalking, Reading, Poems

2014 - Happy New Year.  Working hard for 2014 to be the year of the agent and the debut novel.  Already sent out several queries this year, I am also looking into publishers who accept unsolicited manuscripts - gotta get my foot into the publishing world one way or another.  High hopes - this past year has taught me a lot about the industry, which is always in flux and, like most things, not an exact science.  But in 2013 I had the opportunity to speak candidly with several literary agents and even a New York Times best selling author about my current manuscripts - like legit, for real notes, suggestions and recommendations on how to approach the industry and how to better my story for it. 

FEAR - Fear is my third full length novel I've been dedicating my time to.  There were many start-up ideas for a new full-length, but most got chopped before I hit the 5,000 word mark.  This one made it to 20,000 and I enjoyed where it and the characters were taking me.  Made some bad choices and decided to edit what I had (big no-no and not usually the way I try to work, you should always truck through until the end and then go back) and ended up killing the last 8-9,000 words and rearranging the beginning.  

This was, in part, due to some of the conversations I had with a best selling author friend who suggested my intro needed more bang-boom-pull-hook-explosion for the reader than I had.  Blood was shed and it is safe to say some enamel was ground off my teeth in the process, but I am very happy with the new direction of the story and the new ideas that came out of the heavy revision.  

SPEED DATING - Oh, the query process.  I've equated it to speed dating recently.  And that is my lament on the subject.

SLEEPWALKING - Sleepwalking, or more of an induced medicinal coma-like state in order to remember and live in the past in a quasi-perma-dream state, is one of the additions to the plot of FEAR i'm excited about.  Will certainly alter the tentative title of the story, I'm sure of it.  I've consulted with a pharmacist friend for research; should be fun.

READING - I read Jerzy Kosinski's Being There at least once a year - if you haven't read it, I recommend it.  A quick read at about 150 pages, but a great story that is all Kosinski.  The Painted Bird is another good one.

I am currently reading Boy's Life  by Robert McCammon and every time I pick it up it gets better.  It has quickly climbed to the top of my favorites list.  I'm almost done and intend to re-read it, it's that good. McCammon has a way with story - and this one has characters you remember and relate to and a meta-narrative that swallows you up. Certainly one of his more sentimental and touching works, though it still has the grit and weird he is known for in novels like Gone South or Swan Song.  Great author.  If you haven't read him before, check him out.

I got The Only Ones by Aaron Starmer for Christmas from my wife who knew I wanted it after reading the first bit of it after a friend recommended it to me, great present - btw.  Starmer's story is engaging from the very beginning, and a lot of his strength comes from his characters.  If you are a reader who likes a straightforward story with the plot laid out for you, this one is not for you.  I'm not done yet, but am enjoying the off-balance twisty story. Think Lord Of The Flies meets end-of-the-world Science Fiction with an extremely likable young protagonist. Recommend this one for sure.  Starmer has a previous novel out, Dweeb, and The Riverman comes out in March of this year.

POEMS - some more poem material, below, for your reading eyes.

My Wife the Hereafter

I miss her so much I find it hard to breathe,
hard to hold the exhale; like I am the moribund,
thinking I will perish if I do breathe out.
Thinking if I don’t hold onto the current
the past will ever haunt me and drain me. 

          Exsanguinated by the way she ate mangos.

Forever moved by her inability to keep an emotion
from surfacing on her face, even if her life depended on it;
preciously innocent, like sun spots falling through trees,
seeming to mirror and align with the freckles scattered
on her cheeks and across her collarbones. 

         Stilled, somehow harmonious, in her touch.

 My wife, the hereafter‐ I thought she was sleeping
quietly, perfectly, as I climbed into bed next to her
after getting home from work, stupidly unaware the
overnight gig had slowly pushed her away from me;
I rolled over and wrapped my arm around her.

         Her body cold‐ I thought she was sleeping.


Painting by Numbers

There’s something about seeing humanity
surface in a person’s face, and when I sit in the
ripple of a choir’s waves I believe in God.

There’s something about watching human
function corrupt their own offspring, and when I
count the vertebrae down my wife’s back this
planet stops spinning.

There’s something about hope being a danger in
our culture, an empty catalyst to each individual
in a generation comprised wholly of snowflakes.

This world is doomed and this world breathes,
making white light dispel angry shadows while
the threat of the apocalypse keeps lawnmower
blades humming.

There’s something in emotion that moves the
world; it takes ships to the bottom of the sea and
it sends calming pulses within my ribcage.

There’s something in Mona Lisa’s smile and
Jackson Pollock’s action painting that stirred
housewives with lawyers, and monogamy with
fire side chats.

There’s something in memory and there is
something in a grape stem that disproves
evolution; no castle can have two kings.

The misinterpretation of Moses and the lollypop trees

Slamming your head through the drivers side window,
Simply to break the silence.


Thanks for reading.

Stay alive,

-M.P. Callender