Monday, October 7, 2013

Dear Literary Agents, "it's not you, it's me."

Dear Literary Agents,

We need to talk. Let me make this simple... It's over. What we have is nothing. I've given and given and given. I can't do it anymore. I need you to give a little, too. I'd even settle for you appreciating what I've given. Something more than the meager 'thank you' and the platitudinous 'there is undoubtedly a wonderful agent out there for whom your book might just be the perfect match.' What are we, eighth graders?

I know this sounds trite, but "it's not you, it's me." I grew to loathe the person I had become in your eyes. I had slumped from the very reason you exist to where I had become cumbersome. I drained your resources, weighed you down, cluttered your day. I, on the other hand, have realized that I've grown to treasure the short-lived glimmers of joy, the breezy air of anticipation, the wisps of hope that your occasional response would bring. But it dawned on me that anything, even a platitude, trumped the worst that you offered... ***the silence.*** The numbness of your silence filled me from the toes up, until it smothered every sound other than the echo of the empty inbox, and the sigh from knowing that all I bestowed upon you had fallen to your floor like the dust of time-weathered bound volumes.

Even the solitary promise you gave me felt flat. When I wrote my address on the SASE, it felt to me like an betrothal, awaiting a day of assured joy... the bell-gilded day that your reply to my heart's query would find its way home, having sought its fortune, having either succeeded or failed, but not neither. I waited 12 weeks, as you asked. I waited another 4 weeks, so that the doldrums and dog-days could pass into the coolness of September. I waited yet ANOTHER 4 weeks, in the event that you needed to convene with your cohort. But the bells never tolled. My SASE fell into the abyss, as lost as a powerless space probe. And so, with the appointed time long past, I did what I don't do well... I gave up. in the days since, I have silently mourned the loss, and have steeled myself for that which I must do—say goodbye.

As I go, I leave you with this. A wish... I wish that you'd met me, not halfway, but even part way. I wish that we'd come to know each other, for together, we could have moved mountains. Instead, I will climb that mountain without you, leaving you in that valley, whose springs and streams parch as the rain falls elsewhere. Perhaps, even on me on my road. For alas, I'd rather go it alone, face my own peril, gnaw the bitter roots, drink the rain, tote my own bale, to find one person who appreciates what I have to offer, than to lie beneath your table, waiting for the scraps to fall.

I wish you well, but I do not foresee it. In fact, the silence which filled me is actually surrounding you. Soon, you will hear only the silence. Soon, you will have been forgotten. Before that, hear my last words to you... adieu.

Christopher P. Simmons
Author, Judas Christ

Monday, June 4, 2012

Has it REALLY been this long?

22 years ago...

I'd been carrying the idea of what is now called Judas Christ for over a year when I sat down and sketched out the book cover. This helped me visualize where I was going with all this. What I sketched ended up looking like this, with several years of technology and skill intervening:

 That "eclipse" under the words "Judas Christ" is Nemesis. You may notice the Moon on the left. I still have the original sketch, but you won't see it until it's on the block at Sotheby's.

That was in June of 1990.

It wasn't until August 1990 that I actually sat down and began pouring this story in my head out onto paper. I used this thing we called a "pen." A Berol Thinliner. They stopped making them in about 1994. I bought a box of 20, and somewhere, I still have two left. I wore the rest of them out.

Here is a glimpse of the first page, back when it had a different working title. If you've read the Preview copy, you'll note that this Chapter 1 became a later chapter.

A year later...

Yes. A year. I wrote the initial version of A Farewell To Kings in that gap. But, August 1991 rolled around, and the time had come. So, I started the Judas Chapter, which became the opening of the current version (after some severe editing!) Here are those pages:

Yes, I DID start writing this at 2:40 AM! I finished at 5am. That started a bad precedent. ;-)

It took me until November of 1991 to reveal that Judas had landed in the 21st Century. But now... maybe, just maybe... we are getting to the end of this road. I can't wait!

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 22, 2010

"I am Living Proof!"

A true tale of Chaos...

When I was about to enter 8th grade, I did a lot of swimming in our lake. I call it our lake because we lived there, but also because my grandfather and his father owned land there when few others did. It should have been our lake. The days were hot, and the water cold and deep. I and many friends and acquaintances who never made it to friends, played water tag on a floating platform in the 20' deep water. I would usually dive very deep to avoid them. That probably caused the swimmer's ear which in turn caused me to miss many of the first days of 8th grade. I had been in Mr. Schultz's class, but when I returned, I had been transferred to Mrs. Bradway's class. I sat toward the back, by the poster of prominent authors. Authors I still have yet to have read.

Fast forward 38 years, as I approach my fiftieth birthday.

By that age, there had been a time when my life had been dictated by chaos. It led me here, pointed me there. Introduced me to people who both absorbed and radiated chaos. If you are reading this, you are most likely one of them. It seemed like my life was really a character in someone else's book. Things worked too well (or too poorly). Like Forrest Gump running through the jungle, bullets which would have killed me, merely splattered mud on me. Ok, one bit me in the ass.

One of those moments occurred when my landlord decided that 'now' would be a good time to sell the house in which I paid copious rent. He asked a paying tenant to leave. I did. I immediately secured a sublet in Ann Arbor. Then, he realized that perhaps this was NOT the ideal time to try to sell a house. In fact, it was the worst time in history: May 2007. It was the worst, not because it was the worst. The worst was yet a few months away. No, it was the worst because if he had acted a little sooner, he might have succeeded.

And so it goes.

Anyway, because of the blunder of my landlord, or his chaos, or the whim of HIS author, I found myself in a place in Ann Arbor, recently abandoned by students. This meant they left (figurative) mierda in the apartment. Amid the figurative guano of a U of Michigan student was a library copy of "Breakfast of Champions" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. This author had been one of those listed on the poster in Mrs. Bradway's class. The book also. It had sat on my shelf since I was 46. As I approached my fiftieth birthday, I went on my vacation, a period of glorious chaos following the 3 years of order, I grabbed it on the way out. In case I got to read while roaming the beaches of Florida. Of course not. But I DID read it on the ride home. When suddenly, on page 209, I found this...

There were times that I felt as if I were a character in someone else's book. To this day, I do not know for fact that I am not, but if I am, it is CERTAINLY a Vonnegut novel.

Reading Vonnegut reinforces in me The One Rule to Ring Them All in writing a novel:

There are no rules.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Speaking of coincidences...

I have to chuckle at a few interesting coincidences from the movie "2012" and my life.
  1. John Cusack plays a "failed writer." I'm not a failed writer yet. Who is?
  2. He lives in Manhattan Beach, CA.
  3. I was just in Yellowstone last year.
  4. Catastrophic Erosion... nuf said.
  5. One of the first cracks appears at the end of El Porto on 45th Street, blocks from where I lived for a while. I have pictures taken a year ago of me standing where the crack is.
  6. I'll have to wait for the DVD, but I'm pretty sure that the first frame of the sinking of vast amounts of beachfront shows the Manhattan Beach Pier going under first. (Yeah, I did that, too.)
  7. Cusack's character and I have a propensity for running into people we know in odd parts of the country... to our benefit.
  8. We have a knack for writing fiction which ends up coming true. I have called it "Michael Gavon's Disease" where an idea I tell someone ends up being on the cover of a relevant magazine the next day. It recently happened when I remarked that they should remake When Worlds Collide..
But Judas Christ isn't like that. I'm not making predictions. I'm reverse engineering Revelation to portray it in a plausible way. Emmerich almost succeeded.

Life goes on... literally, 2013 and beyond.

Ok, so...

I finally saw "2012". My intentions were interrupted by the loss of my mother in law. Being touched by a single loss completely soured me on seeing the movie. Knowing the vast loss of life that would be portrayed in the movie, I couldn't muster the courage to sit and watch.

But, this weekend, we made it to the big screen before 2012 gets reliquated to the DVD blockbuster bin. I'm not going to review it. That's not my purpose here. I will make a quick comment about the plausibility of the whole scenario. The whole thing about "mutated neutrinos" putting the earth's core into the microwave served both the audience and the director well. It relieved us of the responsibility to be able to do something. A luxury that Sunshine, Solar Crisis, The Core, Crack in the World, 10.5 Apocalypse didn't have. Although the premise is a stretch, and greatly accelerated for the time allotted the moviegoer, the sheer scope of destruction and thinking the unthinkable made this author proud. The effects were truly amazing, as realistic as they could be, and given some of the 'effects' I am writing, it warms my cockles to think that it can all be done now. (Ok, so I'm thinking about a movie, not a book. Stop it!)

Enough about what Emmerich put on the screen. I'm here to talk about what he did NOT put on the screen. Nemesis. Nibiru, Zyra (an allusion to When Worlds Collide, which I just discovered is being REMADE in 2010 by Stephen Sommer of GI Joe, Scorpion King and Mummy fame.)

I learned that the similarities to my plans for Earth under the stress of Nemesis are minimal. The causes are not even close. Nothing is falling from the sky. Only a symbolic crack between God and Adam in the Sistine Chapel, and an incorrect reference to the Rapture (made by the Art Bell knock-off played by Woody Harrelson) point anything at religion or a genuine Apocalypse.

Ok, so, the entire map is redrawn. Whole continents have shifted, twisted, lifted. I'll be doing a bit of that as well. But to that similiarity I say, 'great minds twist alike.'

Now all I have to do is utterly disavow myself of the 2012 internet mythology... which is too bad, since it IS the Year of the Dragon. I kinda liked that coincidence.

So for now, I'm safe.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Coming of 2012 (the movie, not the year)

I hope to see the movie "2012" this weekend. I intended to wave it off and let a shameless exploitation of this Mayan 2012 crap float by... until I saw the trailer. (I usually avoid trailers, including plugging my ears and make BLBLBLBLBLBLB sounds to drown them out. I got SO suckered by the trailer to Star Trek VI that I utterly eschew them.)

But the trailer to 2012 left me breathless, not only for the extent of destruction, and not only for the scope of Roland Emmerich's destructive vision. Mostly because I saw scenes which too closely matched my visions, including tectonic shift and really big waves! Whereas he drops an aircraft carrier onto the White House, I turn the beaches of Los Angeles into a tiny island.

Ok, so, I'm saying this because I want to point back at something I wrote many years ago. Call me sheepish, call me paranoid, call me "stolen thunder", but I do NOT want someone to say "oh, nice, you stole that from Emmerich." I didn't. If I stole it, he stole it from the same playbook.

This is an excerpt from a synopsis of Book III of Judas Christ. I wrote this down in the document from which I am copying and pasting on September 13, 2006. I will clip out irrelevant text, but will not alter what you read. Thus:

"...begins an event called "the Week the Whole Earth Shook" where the Earth suffers a constant 4.0-5.0 Richter scale earthquakes, all without epicenters, as if the core of the Earth were shivering like a frightened man. The standing waves from a vibrating Earth create monster series of "triangle waves" of a thousand feet in the mid-ocean and hundreds of feet in the Mediterranean, Black and Red Seas. Shorelines and islands begin to change shape. Antarctica is spitting out icebergs like a sno-cone machine. Nearly every volcano that can begins to erupt, and there is a fear that supervolcanoes such as Krakatoa, Mammoth Mountain and Yellowstone may be shaken into cataclysmic supereruption. The new ocean rift in Eritrea grows at a fantastic rate. At full moon, even mountains and craters on the Moon are seen to be shaken down flat. Dust, ash, soot, sulfur in the sky lends a pall of doom, and the spirits of many fall. Christians who point to “the signs that Jesus is coming” are persecuted, arrested, beaten and in some cases, lynched. But then, so are the skeptics who point to “reasonable explanations”. In truth, most of Christianity feels that if Jesus were going to come, he's too freakin' late.

Then the greatest earthquake in the history of man changes everything. The Straits of Gibraltar and the Horn of Africa close, land-locking Israel and trapping the U.S. 6th Fleet. The Arabian Plate tilts and the Persian Gulf enlarges, making the perfect invasion beach. The Earth's orbit is altered drastically, dipping in close to the Sun, but then heading far out in a new three year orbit. The Moon is pulled down toward the Earth to where it tidally locks and raises Jerusalem miles above the rest of the world. ...the Sun is peppered and Moon surface is pulverized by One diamond shard pierces the crust and unleashes magma from the mantle. The seventh Trumpet waits..."
"Behold, I have told you this before..."

That being said, I wonder what I'm going to do if this too closely matches what I had planned to write, or have written. For now, I'm only wondering aloud. After all, there is nothing new under the sun. Is there?

Monday, November 2, 2009

"keep in touch"

Two things happened today which got me thinking about "keeping in touch"

  1. A co-worker left our firm, saying "Keep in touch." I added her to my Facebook friends, discovering a bevy of mutual friends already in her list (I'm the latecomer). Once that is triggered, I'll see her posts, her friends' posts. But I also ran across (saw friends of friends) people with whom I wished I were still in touch, and wondered how, if, should I keep in touch. I'm not offering the answer, but if you didn't want to be in touch, it's hard to not.
  2. Lorelei Armstrong posted something about writing on her blog, and I felt inclined to answer. As I fired up the comment box, it occurred to me... "Of all of the ways that I'm 'in touch' with her, which is the best way to answer?" Meaning, do I reply directly to the blog? Do I post a comment on her FBWall? Do I send her a direct message? Tweet a snarky remark? Or good ole email?
I found myself thinking about how the rest of the readers would receive my remarks. "How do I reply such that this reply is received by the people whom I..." Ok, stop right there. When we start to target our replies based on friends of whom the recipient is 'mutual', then perhaps 'touch' is that in which we no longer are.

The two questions I would leave here are:
  • Are we a few clicks closer to the Singularity, the Overmind, the Collective where we can all sense each other? I would have said 'no' a while back, but now, I'm not so sure.
  • With all of these ways to stay in touch... are we?