Welcome Message

Welcome to the blog and site of Iowa Author Buzz Malone. I always enjoy hearing from readers. Please leave comments and send me emails to let me know what you think. Your opinions matter more than you might think. Your words inspire me more than you could ever know. To find out more about my writing and books, please click above on the book titles or email me at buzzdmalone@gmail.com

If you are looking for my Union Leader Blog, please go to http://theunionleader.blogspot.com/




Monday, December 31, 2012

The End Is Near!

Where were you on 12/12/12 at 12:12pm? Well, as it turns out, it didn't really matter. Hopefully, you didn't blow your life savings buying dehydrated foodstuffs, and spend a chunk of your December in a bunker. Oh, how I wish I knew where those bunkers were. Wouldn't it have been a hoot to sneak up to one at 12:13pm and cut the power to it? They would still be down there, by candle light, rationing their powdered eggs and waiting for the surface radiation to dissipate. Who knows, maybe some of them are. 

There's good news for doomsday seekers though...just because the Mayan calendar has ended without a bang, you can always hunker back down for the Fiscal Cliff that the entire world economy is about to tumble off of. Wow...a fiscal cliff. That sounds scary as hell. Many of us are much worse for wear after the housing market bust in 2008, but we are surviving. I think that most of us will live if the stock market ticks down a few points and the folks who are still fortunate enough to have huge investment portfolios lose a couple of bucks.  

The other good news for doomsday lovers is, the year 2013 is upon us! What could be wrought with more peril than a year ending in 13, after all? Just in case, in the off chance that the word doesn't end, I will be final editing the novel that has consumed most of my 2012. Hopefully, the world will remain intact long enough to see it published, and available for purchase, prior to the next time the world ends. I mean, if the world is going to end, why wouldn't you buy the book? Right?

Buzz Malone Books. 100% Guaranteed to protect you against the Apocalypse and other impending, world destroying forms of doom or get 10X your money back
Buzz Malone Books guarantee does not apply to falling off cliffs, fiscal or otherwise. Any impending forms of doom not completely destroying the world, or the failure on the part of a catastrophe to fall short of being labeled as 'the end of days' do not apply. Guarantee does not cover residents of TX, AL, MN, relatives of the author, the Amish, or anyone who intentionally destroys the planet with the sole and express purpose of financial gain from this offer.

 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Literary Agent Query...Take Three

I think I am getting close. This time, after considerable debate and struggle, I have changed the main character of the novel's name back to the original Walter. Lorri and I had went back and forth about calling him Walter because of the resemblance in some of the give and take between characters to the cast of Grumpy Old Men. Therefore, the concern went, it wouldn't be prudent to have a character named Walter, because it may appear that my character is actually emulating Walter Mathau.

In the end, it was decided that if, he indeed is emulating Walter Mathau, then who better to emulate for a book like this one, so who cares if that's how it appears? Also...the character is simply a Walter, no matter how much we tried to make him be a Bernard. Make sense? Well, these, my dear mice, are the ridiculous sort of dilemmas that keep writers up late at night.

Without further adieu, I give you Literary Agent Query number three (actually 303, but it's the third one I have posted for your amusement!). Please email your thoughts and critiques to buzzdmalone@gmail.com

Dear Literary Agent,



What could an ecstatic nursing assistant, an agitated restaurant owner, a chafing state trooper, and an affronted gas station attendant have in common? They’ve all met Walter Mitchell, of course.

In Losing Meadow Brook, my 115,000 word novel, four men are drawn together by the inescapable bond of being the only lucid males at the Meadow Brook Assisted Care Home. When a dying mobster shows up and regales the unlikely quartet with tales of cash buried in Havana, Walter will become obsessed by it.

Walter is convinced the mob is going to kill him for stealing from the dying boss if he doesn’t get out soon. That doesn’t stop him from giving the stolen cash away to a young nurse. Now, he must try and make it all the way to Cuba and find the buried loot before his unwitting partners discover he’s broke. The mob didn’t kill him, but that doesn’t mean his traveling companions won’t leave him for dead.

Harvey Richardson doesn’t even like being in the same room as Walter. Who could blame him? Walter is loud, obnoxious, rude, and following multiple strokes, downright mean at times. If Harvey hadn’t lost a bet, he would have never even left the nursing home. Walter will have to use everything within his manipulative arsenal to ensure they make the journey and get the cash…together.  

Losing Meadow Brook is the story of three men doing everything they can to make it to Havana before Walter drives them all crazy.

In my forty years, I have always been a writer. I am learning every day and I feel that something great is just around the next bend, beyond the next horizon…another paragraph away. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Query II, The Quest for an Agent Saga Continues

I realized something important when I wrote Silence of Centerville and got rejected by thirty literary agents before they ever read a word of the novel. I had finished the book and was so excited about getting it published that I rushed through the query letter. As a result, my query letter sucked and no one ever asked to read anything else. I got a pile of form rejection post cards.

To that end, with the completion of my latest novel, I am spending a lot of time on my query letter and working to get it right. One great site I have found to assist me in my endeavor is Query Shark, where renowned literary agent, Janet Reid, allows aspiring authors to post their queries. The queries are then shredded to pieces (or bitten) by Janet and a litany of faithful blog followers. The result is dramatically improved queries.

A few days ago, I posted a query here for my readers to take shark bites of their own out of. I'm glad I did too, because I got some great feedback. After reading Janet's blog, it also occurred to me that my manuscript was humorous, but my query letter wasn't, and did nothing to indicate the story's voice. So, with all of that in mind...here is my revised take two. Hopefully, by the time I have completed fine tuning the 115,000 word novel, I can get a 300 word query right!  It sounds ridiculous, but after spending thousands of hours on a project, it becomes an almost insurmountable task to back away far enough from it to write a simple synopsis.

Also, remember, I am posting this because I want your feedback. If you don't want to leave a posted reply, then please email me at buzzdmalone@gmail.com

Dear Literary Agent,



In Losing Meadow Brook, my 115,000 word novel, four men are drawn together by the inescapable bond of being the only lucid males at Meadow Brook Assisted Care Facility. When a dying mobster shows up and regales the unlikely quartet with tales of buried cash in Havana, Cuba, one of them will become obsessed by it. Bernard Mitchell will use everything within his manipulative arsenal to ensure they make the journey and get the cash…together.  

Eduardo ‘Eddie’ Santiago fled Cuba with his family as a boy. Paul Wagner lived his entire life battling demons and trying to avoid the wife he barely knew. Harvey Richardson had tried to kill himself but no one knew it. Bernard was the wild card in every sense of the word. He’d been cast out of society, as well as a number of nursing homes. 

Losing Meadow Brook is the story of three men doing everything they can to make it to Havana before Bernard drives them all crazy. Harvey Richardson doesn’t even like being in the same room as Bernard. Who could blame him? Bernard is loud, obnoxious, rude, and following multiple strokes, downright mean at times. He demands attention and bites the hand of anyone who tries to help him. If Harvey hadn’t lost a bet, he would have never even left the home.

Bernard is convinced the mob is going to kill him for stealing from the dying boss. That doesn’t stop him from giving the stolen cash away to a young nurse to feed his own ego. Now, Bernard must try to make it all the way to Cuba and get to the buried cash before his unwitting partners discover he is actually broke. Even though the mob didn’t kill him, that doesn’t mean his traveling companions won’t leave him for dead. Their journey together to Havana will create moments akin to The Odd Couple and Grumpy Old Men, and keep readers on the edge of their seats wondering what ridiculous thing Bernard is going to do next.

In my forty years, I have always been a writer. I am learning every day how to improve and I feel that something great is just around the next bend, beyond the next horizon…another paragraph away.  

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Dreaded Agent Query

I pulled this picture off the web. It is a pretty good indicator of where I am at in the process with my latest endeavor. While my previous novellas have been about Southern Iowa subjects and have appeal to local folks seeking books with local flavor and settings, the latest one is designed more for the masses. I didn't set out to do it intentionally, but I find that I have rather limited control over which story inside my head actually emerges with the strongest voice. When one comes out on top, it simply demands to be written.

The new novel is a full-length piece that is slightly longer in word count than Huck Finn. There are hundreds of blogs out there devoted entirely to the subject of word count and how new writers are obsessed with it. I am inclined to believe that every writer is, but more experienced ones simply cease to acknowledge the fact. Whatever the case, my better half becomes irritated with me every time I mention it. There is one inescapable fact about however; it becomes economically unfeasible to self publish a long manuscript because the cost of printing is by the page.

The only logical next step, as I am finishing up the final edit of the piece, is to begin the painful process of finding a literary agent. This is the most painful part. A publisher won't even read your work without an agent, and most agents won't read your work without a recommendation from someone else. So, what is a Southern Iowa boy with no New York contacts or famous writer friends to do? There is only the dreaded query letter remaining, whereby you create a single paged letter describing the book and hope that an agent will ask to read it based solely upon that letter.

The most difficult part of the query letter has got to be boiling your entire 380 page novel down to a single paragraph that will grab the attention of the agent's assistant, who skims a hundred such requests every day of the year. It shouldn't be such a tall order for a writer, but after you've spent countless hours writing and rewriting and crafting and constructing a behemoth, to boil it all down to a sentence or two becomes a seemingly insurmountable, herculean task. 

So, even as I final edit, the query letter has begun to consume my thoughts. For those of you who have been curious about the subject matter, and who have emailed wanting to know where I am at in the process, that's where I stand at the moment. Ninety percent of the book has been final edited and I am working on early drafts of a query letter base. Naturally, a different version will be used for each agent I submit to, but there must be some basic broth to serve as the stock for each new recipe. What follows is the basis of my new work and the query letter. Please drop me an email at buzzdmalone@gmail.com and let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading!



In Losing Meadow Brook, my 115,000 word novel, four radically different men are drawn together by the inescapable bond of being the only lucid males at Meadow Brook Assisted Care Facility. When a dying mobster shows up and regales the unlikely quartet with tales of buried cash in Havana, Cuba, one of them will become obsessed by it. Bernard will use everything within his manipulative arsenal to ensure they make the journey…together.  

Eduardo ‘Eddie’ Santiago had fled Cuba with his family as a boy. He was healing from an injury sustained when he saved the child of a fellow migrant worker. Paul Wagner lived his entire life trying to avoid the wife he barely knew. Paul took a nasty, drunken fall and broke both of his arms. Harvey Richardson had tried to kill himself but no one knew it. Harvey lived life by the book and was merely waiting (and hoping) for his story to end. Bernard Mitchell was a wild card in every sense of the word. He’d been cast out of society, as well as a number of nursing homes.  

Losing Meadow Brook is the story of four unique spirits beginning an adventure at a time in their lives when it seemed impossible to be starting almost anything. Harvey Richardson doesn’t even like being in the same room as Bernard Mitchell. Who could blame him? Bernard is loud, obnoxious, rude, and following multiple strokes, downright mean at times. He demands attention and bites the hand of anyone who tries to help him. Their journey together to Havana will create moments akin to The Odd Couple and Grumpy Old Men. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Writer's Grind

I am currently slugging it out with the last few chapters of my next novel. It is a brutally painful endeavor. Every sentence is work and I find myself suffering through every single word. It is a terrible business, this writing. When I'm not doing it I feel less than complete and know that I am wasting precious moments of my life. When I am writing, it is a grind to get to the end of every new story. I have never had such a tough time of it before...and it is turning out to be some of my best work. That's how it is, I suppose. How else could it be really? 

If you happen to read this then drop me a line at buzzdmalone@gmail.com as I would love to hear from all of you and I always look forward to taking a break from the grind and answering messages!

Thanks for Reading,

Buzz

Friday, November 30, 2012

The New Novel Blues


When writing a novel, there are two very easy chapters to write; the first one and the last one pour out of you onto the page with incredible ease. They are a joy to write and you feel like you have touched upon artful perfection. For me, the first half of the book is always the easiest. Unfortunately, there comes a time about two-thirds the way into it when each new chapter is like climbing Mt. Everest, and blank pages are met with an equally blank stare from me. I become disinterested, doubtful about the entire book, and look for anything else to distract me from writing. It is times like these when I can drift away into hours of free association googling. You know what I'm talking about, when you start by checking your email and an hour later you find yourself reading some blog about raising chinchillas.

As I write this I have 70,000 words of my next novel complete. I can't say how many more words there will be, but I'd put it at around 90,000 tops. I know where it is going to end and I am excited about getting to that ending. The only advantage I have in this situation is that I have been here before. I am tempted to rush to the ending right now because I don't know what else is going to happen between now and then yet and I don't really want to think about it all. Luckily, I have learned to slow down and let the story tell itself. In a few minutes I will begin free writing with no plan at all and the characters will make things happen. At least I hope they will make things happen. 

The point is this...when writing a story...keep writing. No matter how horrible you think it is half way through it. It's the only way to ever finish it. Write. If it feels wrong, write. If you think it is the worst thing to ever touch paper, write. When you don't know what else to say, write some more. If you know the beginning and are excited about the story and know the end, then all you have left is the middle to fill in. Write it. Write it every day. Don;t set it aside or give up on it while you brainstorm. You will never finish it tomorrow. We could all be dead tomorrow. In a hundred years we will all be dead. Write it today, edit it tomorrow. You'll never regret it when it is finished.

I always wrote things. Always. I also always wanted to write a book. I never could stick them out and finish them. I'd lose interest or lose faith in it. Eventually I met someone who forced me to write. She made me finish what I started. She worked me like Pavlov's dog (and still does) telling me how good I have done when I get a chapter that day, or how little I have done when I don't. I still get two-thirds the way through and want to burn my laptop along with everything on it, dancing around it like a wild man in the back yard. But I don't. Instead I write. Every day. And the reward is one of the best things that I have ever done in my life. Good, bad, ugly, or otherwise...they can never take it away from you when it is finished. YOU wrote a novel.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Jackpot Won't Stop Me!

I posted on Facebook today that I was planning on winning the jackpot and was stressed about what I was going to do with all of my winnings. It really never ceases to amaze me what gets people's attention and what doesn't. I've been writing blogs and FB posts and books and editorials for a number of years now and I am still surprised at what generates the most responses. 

One person messaged me and asked if I won, would I still keep writing books. The answer is that if I won $425 million dollars I would definitely still keep writing books, only with a real professional editor and the best publicist that money could buy. I'll bet that I could even land myself an honest to goodness New York literary agent then too! Not to mention, I'd no doubt be writing my next novel from, shall we say, a slightly more exotic location...but I would keep writing. I have to. I am relatively even keeled when I am writing something and almost downright miserable when I am not. It's sort of an illness really and something that I have always had. 

If nobody ever read a word of anything that I wrote, I'd write anyways and burn the pages when I was done. Fortunately, there are a still a few souls out there in the world who brave through my words, wading through the typos and errors to embark upon a short journey with me. Hemingway once said that there is nothing much to writing, all you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed. That's pretty much what it feels like too, when you are 40,000 words into an 80,000 word novella. You spend eight hours working on a handful of pages that will take the average reader about ten minutes to digest. The excitement is gone, it seems impossible to ever make it to the end, and you wonder what on earth possessed to begin such a ridiculous project in the first place. The only way that I ever get to 80,000 from 40,000 is I know that she won't allow me to quit on it. If she gets home and there isn't any progress and nothing new to read, it's hell to pay. 
 
When it's all over, it isn't perfect (they never are), but they are complete. When a book is finished I am drained. I have nothing creative remaining to offer to the world and it is barely within me to so much as look at the book to edit and polish it. I do the best that I can at the time, but in the past the pressure to churn out another one has been too great and I have cast them into the wind before they were 100% ready. That's why I am going back and revisiting Silence of Centerville while I also work on the next new book. It is just too good of a story to leave it at less than perfect. 
 
Anyhow, there it is. I will always write. My adoring fans (hi mom) needn't worry about my powerball jackpot winnings standing between them and another book. It is in my blood, and I am too moved every time that someone reads my work. Speaking of which, this weekend, we gave away over 500 copies of Silence for Kindles in the Thanksgiving giveaway! 
 
Please, check back tomorrow as I am going to begin talking about my new upcoming book a bit! Thanks for reading!
 
-Buzz Malone-