Neglected African Hair and How to Build a Flamethrower

Hand gamesWriting a novel is not much like I thought it would be. I mean, some of the things about it are pretty predictable: It takes a long time, you sit at your computer for much of that time, and you use words.

But aside from that, well, case in point: I had no idea I would spend so much time googling things like “children’s hand games,” “how to build a flamethrower,” and “synonyms for penis.”

(Did you know that Word’s built-in thesaurus does not contain certain body parts? Also not in there: B*stard, f*ck, and sh*t. Get on it, Microsoft!)

I also did not realize just how many books I would order on topics like evolution (The Aquatic Ape by Elaine Morgan), military special ops (Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell), and slavery (Slavery: A World History by Milton Meltzer).

I think the biggest thing that’s turned out differently than I expected, though, is just how much of this work is not mine alone. It’s truly incredible how many people it takes besides the one person whose name ends up on the cover. Over the past year, I’ve received in-depth (often time-consuming) assistance from:

  • A former air force colonel and author of multiple military strategy books, who contributed significantly to the battle scenes as well as the military structure, culture, and characters of the cave city
  • My kids, who spent countless hours brainstorming how to build an arsenal only with materials and tools that would be available to human kids in a Gramen lab
  • Monty in particular, whose keen instinct for plot helped me see how the climax would play out
  • Eli in particular, who sat by my side for hours, answering questions to help me get inside the mind of a gifted 10-year-old
  • Carey, who is the absolute best alpha reader possible. If you ever find somebody who loves your book AND is unafraid to tell you exactly what’s wrong with it, hold on to them
  • My amazing beta readers (Missy, Jaimie, Dad, Lisa, Carrie, Mom) who all provided valuable insight and encouragement
  • James, who good-naturedly answered my embarrassingly ignorant questions about African hair and what happens when you neglect it
  • Lev and Michelle who workshopped my query letter, and told me they loved my concept & first page, and whose wonderful work inspires me
  • All the folks on Absolute Write who have talked me through problems, workshopped my queries, and suggested books and resources

And then there was yesterday! All the amazing people who contributed title ideas, inspiration, and bad jokes (keep ‘em coming). Regardless of what title the book is ultimately published under, every one of the suggestions contributes by opening my eyes to other angles, helping to clarify direction on plot or character points, and in general contributing energy into the project.

I started this entry with the intention of being very, very funny. I mean, how funny is it that I had an online conference call with a client today and suddenly became paranoid that they could see my screen and that I might inadvertently click over to the tab with my Google search results?

Okay, not very, but if I’d tried I might have been able to make it funny.

Instead I just said thank you to everyone. Which I guess is also okay. Thank you.

P.S. Speaking of titles, would you like to see an example of one that is catchy but does not deliver on its promise? I knew you would. You’re welcome.

3 thoughts on “Neglected African Hair and How to Build a Flamethrower

  1. Just think – this post not only fulfills another day in the challenge you’re completing, but can also serve as a rough draft of sorts for the Acknowledgment page when you get the novel published!

    • EXACTLY. I’m kind of loving this 30-day blog challenge, even though it’s kicking my butt, because it’s really getting a lot of my work done for me in a fun format. Also, it’s become more like a conversation instead of just me spouting off. I love conversation! Thanks for contributing. :)

  2. Pingback: Nowhere But Boring ¶ Writer for Life

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