Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

This will be a short post, since holiday hell is about to erupt.

Here are the top 10 things I am most grateful for this Thanksgiving Eve:

1. My health and the health of my family.

2. My wife and soulmate, without whom I would be lost, totally and completely.

3. My friends.

4. The fact that I seem to have a cockeyed optimism woven into the very fabric of my DNA that tells me I can suceed at anything if I try hard enough.

5. My cigars. Couldn't live without them!

6. Starbucks coffee. See above.

7. That I was finally able to complete my novel. And start my second!

8. That luck and being in the right place at the right time helped me land my freelance editor, who is working with me on the aforementioned novel.

9. My faith in God, even during the worst of times.

10. Every bad, terrible, rotten thing that has ever happened to me, for without them, I wouldn't be the man I am today.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Now eat up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It's my story, right?

Me to a friend: "So, I'm driving down Route 29 heading into the city and my tire blows."

Friend: "What a minute. Why are you taking Route 29? Isn't Knoxville Avenue quicker?"

Me: "Well. Maybe. So, anyway, my tire blows and the car careens off the road and into that big ditch on the east side of the road..."

Friend: "See? That's why you should have taken Knoxville. Route 29 is dangerous, dude. Dangerous."

Me (flipping out): "Will you shut the hell up and let me tell my story! It is my story, you know."

And there, in a nutshell, is my problem thus far with writing fiction. My novel is my story. I told it my way (hey, that sounds like it would make a good song, no?). Where do you get off telling me how to tell my story?

Heh. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

My story is my story, sure. It's fiction. A lie. I made it up. But even a lie needs to sound real. People need to talk in a way that sounds realistic. Things have to happen in a believable way. If they don't, no one will want to read it. Period.

I have a very, very good professional book editor reading my little darling right now, and she has, ahem, pointed out some structural issues my baby has developed. You know, when someone says something or does something that doesn't quite fit their character. Now, she hasn't done this a lot, thankfully. And she claims she really, really likes my baby so far.

I can only hope.

Nonetheless, it took me aback. I mean, it's my story. How could someone tell me my lie isn't, um, believable? Sometimes, I like quirky characters who do and say things out of character. I do that in real life. Heck, we all do.

So I went back and began thinking about her comments (in red ink, no less). And you know what? She's absolutely right. On all counts. After giving it considerable thought, I started to make some of the changes.

And you know what? It got better. Much better.

It might be my story, but in order for it to land on a bookshelf somewhere, it needs to be handled deftly and expertly. I'm thankful I was lucky enough to find this woman, and that she was kind enough to work with me on my manuscript. Staley Krause, you totally rock!

Now, if I could just figure out this damned query letter.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Well, hello there

I suppose I should begin with a formal introduction. My name is Terry Towery and I live in Peoria, IL, with my wife and three sons.

I spent 25 years working at the third largest daily newspaper in Illinois, working my way from city desk reporter to columnist to assistant city editor/assignment editor.

I love, love, love politics and managed a federal Congressional campaign in 2008. We lost, but we had one hell of a blast doing it.

I also love music (old rock, new rock, alt rock and pop), baseball, cigars, coffee, writing, video games and my family. I work out regularly at the gym, but I hate it. Really I do.

I am trying (and I stress trying) to polish both my manuscript and my query letter in an effort to find an agent (are you listening, Nathan Bransford?) and get published.

First off, no one said it was going to be this damned hard! All my life, I'd dreamed of kicking back someday and writing a book and, voila!, I would be living the good life. But alas, no. Finishing the ms was but the beginning. (I can hear all of you writers out there shaking your heads in agreement). And of course, we all get to sit around and watch as the publishing world crashes down around our workspaces. Sheesh. And to think I left journalism for much the same reason.

But I have hope. Really, I do.

I don't think for one minute that people are going to stop reading books. Oh sure, they might read them on e-readers or nooks or whatever they're called, but they will still be READING. And as long as they are still reading, someone out here has to write them. Right?

And that might as well be me. And you.

So let's soldier on in this brave new world, coffee mug in hand and permanent squint on our faces as we hunt and peck our way to publishing success. Or just, you know, getting published. Whatever.

I do hope you come back to visit now and then. I promise that as I get the hang of this blogging thing, I will improve.

Peace out.

Terry