Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I suppose I should tell you about my novel. It’s called The Spirit Guide Bar. The main character is a beaten down high school teacher, not so loosely based on me. Unsure of his place in the world, he makes a conscious attempt at transcendental meditation and finds himself in the midst of a full blown vision, bellied up at the Spirit Guide Bar, having a beer and a shot with the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz, Ernest Hemmingway and Ulysses S. Grant. And no, there were no psychedelic drugs involved in the development of this book.

When the beaten down teacher mentions that he is experiencing a vision – an illusion, the scarecrow responds with, ‘The illusion you’re experiencing right now is more real than anything that ever has happened to you or ever will happen to you because it is happening to you - right now.”

It’s my favorite line in the book.

I know precisely what’s going through your mind. What right thinking agent wouldn’t bust his tail to represent a book like The Spirit Guide Bar? I also know why you’re thinking this. It’s because most of you are friends and family that I have talked into visiting my blog. Then again, you could be sitting there feeling incredibly embarrassed for me, shaking your head and saying to yourself, “This poor schlep has been pounding away at the keyboard for more than four years, and this is the kind of crap he's writing?”

I’ve already sent out 155 query emails.

Here is the first of my thirty-five rejection emails for The Spirit Guide Bar.

We are fully booked but thanks for trying our agency and good luck elsewhere.

I don’t know about you, but I like it. It’s understated, short, and strait to the point.

Don’t let the self deprecating humor fool you, I will publish my writing. At times this goal of becoming a published writer seems impossible, but it’s not impossible I’ll find a way. As John Wooden said, “Goals achieved with little effort are seldom worthwhile or lasting.”

Do you have a seemingly impossible goal? I don’t know about you, but as far as I’m concerned, 2009 is going to be the year of achieving the seemingly impossible dream – darn it.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I am a writer. It's been an awfully long time since I've had an audience - something like nine years. Thank you for being my audience.

The truth is I’ve been a writer just about as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil. My literary journey began with Santa Clause and Mike the Mouse. I wrote, directed and starred in the production in second grade. It was an action packed rip off of the Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Christmas special. As Mike the Mouse, I saved Christmas by beating the snot out of the Abominable Snow man, who was played quite nicely by Prank Ponto. It was cool. My next big production was staged in fifth grade. It was my own epic rendition of a Catholic School Passion Play. Playing the Thomas the Apostle, I led the ten good apostles in a heroic military style rescue of Christ, killing a half dozen Roman soldiers in the process.

Since grade school, I've continued to write. There was a thrilling four year period over which I had the honor of creating cheesy educational TV programming, which was, I suppose, an offshoot of my elementary school theater career. At Educational Management Group and Planet Think, I wrote, produced and hosted (starred in) the shows. It all ended when we were bought out by a British Educational Company. They shut the live production end of the outfit down, thus bringing to an end the best job I ever had. It was back to classroom teaching for me. Thanks a lot British people. If it weren't us, you'd all be speaking German. Shoot, there goes my vast British following.

About four years ago, I decided I wanted to get serious about writing. Rather than teach summer school and work second jobs to earn money to support my family, I've been spending the summers and school breaks writing. The first summer was trying to say the least. Because I didn't have a functioning computer, I wrote at the public library, braving knuckle heads on cell phones, screaming kids, and chatty teenagers. It's better now that I have a computer.

The product of that first summer is collection of short quirky personal stories called The Eight Fingered Criminal's Son. My father did in actuality spend considerable time in the slammer and does indeed have just eight fingers. Actually, that's a point of personal contention. Doesn't everyone have just eight fingers - and two thumbs? Perhaps I should call the book The Six Fingered Criminal's Son. How do describe a guy with two missing fingers? It's confusing, isn’t it?

I intend to share a few of the stories with you. I'd also like to take you with me on the path of soul shattering rejection. After being rejected by more than a hundred agents and magazines, I put the collection of stories on the back burner and wrote a novel. I'll tell you about the novel tomorrow. Sending query letters by US mail has pretty much become a thing of the past. Now writers can send off email query letters - hundreds of them, thousands of them. Now this is a good thing and this is bad thing. Writers save money and time, but the agents and publishers are inundated. An agent told me she receives more than three thousand query letters a month. At this point, no less than two hundred agents and publishers have sent me rejection emails.

Here is an example of an oxymoronic good rejection email. The errors are the editor's, not mine...

Bill, thanks for the submission. What I'd do to this in compress it a bit. The folksy voice is distracting, in the end. It's not a bad story, overall, but it needs significant tightening to keep a reader's attention. We'll have to pass, but try us again in the future.

I really hate rejection…

Monday, December 29, 2008

#167 Dad - The First Blog

This first small step into blogworld goes out to no one - and anyone. I am calling my blog #167 Dad. It's a joke, get it? Does anyone else notice tens of thousands of middle aged guys wandering around wearing #1 Dad t-shirts. How can they all be #1 Dads? Isn't #167 Dad somewhat more realistic?

I am compelled to tell you I am a former stand up comic. If you're wondering why I stopped doing stand up, please refer to the #167 Dad joke. It took me close to two years to figure out the jokes were supposed to be funny.

OK, my first posting is complete.