December 2020 Update

I could start by talking about what a year 2020 has been, but I don’t think I need to tell anyone that – we’ve all experienced it and most of us would likely prefer to forget that this year ever happened.

Instead, I want to give an update on what I’ve been up to, and in my case, it’s pretty big. I once again completed NaNoWriMo, making it the 6th or 7th year in a row. I wrote two more episodes of Tom Creek, which is now in its second season.

But that’s not all. Just last night I finished my edits on my latest novel. It had a working title of CEO, and that might bear some explanation. I actually started it in 2013. The idea was that I wanted to write about a regular guy who, through hard work, a little bit of luck, and careful planning, becomes the CEO of a large corporation. The point was that it’s my belief that not all CEOs are heartless, backstabbing businessmen who don’t care about anything other than their money. It used technology as a backdrop for the true story. In this case, the technology that I came up with was a unique propulsion system that allows ships (think wingless airplanes) to ‘sail’ in the sky without needing air for lift. I myself have dreamt of this since I was a teenager, so it made sense to use it in my book. Back in 2013, I got about 40,000 words in when I set it aside to start writing the Tom Creek episodes.

Then, about two years ago, I took just that idea of the technology to create a ship that could now fly in space, and that became the ship that was used in my novel Limits. A friend who read a pre-publish version of Limits said that she would like to learn more about the characters in that book. While the ship isn’t a character, I remembered that five years earlier I had started that other book, and realized that what I had written back in 2013 was the beginning of the story for Limits.

Early this year, I went back to that book, still titled CEO, and made a few changes. I changed the narrator perspective, and that meant that quite a few scenes had to be rewritten or removed. Once that was done, I continued where I had left off. In the end, to stick with the theme that I seem to have adapted of one-word titles, I renamed it Rising. And last night, that book became ready to read (although still pre-editing and, for now, unpublished).

Rising tells the story of Mike Newburgh, who together with his college classmate and with the support of his professor Jeff Peters, accidentally discovers the propulsion system. As I said, it’s not about the technology, but instead about Mike as he goes through life and everything that comes with that: elation, love, heartbreak, fear, family, illness and hope. The story starts when he’s 21 and ends some years after he retires from his company at age 67 (I don’t want to give away the ending). If printed in paperback, it would be between 600 and 700 pages, so it’s a pretty good read.

I’m extremely pleased with how it turned out. I hope to get some feedback from family and friends, make whatever changes I agree with, and then…

…continue my search for an agent. I guess that’s something I might have to discuss in a future post, as it’s an arduous task to say the least. Until then, happy reading, and may 2021 bring us Health, Peace and Happiness!

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The Future.

The seemingly perpetually disappointing task of finding an agent continues, but I vow to not give up until I find one who will at least read Limits all the way through! Persistence is key here, and I have decided that I will submit to at least one agent per day for the next two years until I get a positive result. (It’s my understanding that most people get at least 250 rejections before they get signed.) I know they’re busy and they get a lot of very-well formulated queries for some extremely poorly written books, so I will continue until I can show one the quality of my writing.

But this post is about the future. So, what’s in store?

I’m well on my way to finishing the first draft for CEO (working title; I have the real title but am not ready to reveal it just yet). CEO is the story of Michael Newburgh, who invented the technology that makes the ship in the book Limits possible. It starts in 1984 and ends somewhere around 2030, maybe later, depending on how it goes (Limits is set somewhere around the year 2150). As of today, I have a little over 500 pages, so it’ll be a long one, but I want to tell as much of the story that’s relevant as possible. After editing, it’ll likely be shorter, but still substantially longer than Limits.

I hope to have CEO close to completion before November, which, as of course you all know, is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and I owe Tom Creek at least two episodes. In fact, once I’ve finished the first draft of CEO, I want to write the rest of Season Two of Tom Creek. That’ll take at least another year. After that, I’ll need to go back to the universe that I created in Limits, because there’s a lot more I can write:

Cres is the story of…well, Cres. She’s the lead in Limits, and this book will talk about her life, from her point of view. It hopefully explains why she is the way she is. I’m actually very excited to write a book from a female character’s perspective, and can’t wait to get that started.

Alex, likewise, is the story of Alex. Just like Cres will explain her background, Alex explains his. It’ll also tie in nicely with CEO, because he’ll reveal a lot of the history of the company that happens after CEO ends.

Return. Surprise! Alex and Cres aren’t done yet, and will be reunited in this book. I don’t know all the details yet, but it will likely tell the story of them going to Atlantis together. The question is: at the end, will they come back to Earth together, or is one of them going to stay behind? Honestly, even I don’t know that yet. But it’ll be interesting (to say the least) to have them back together.

And then there are a bunch of other novels that I want to write. Here are a few of the ideas that I have right now:

Tom Creek. He deserves five full seasons but will get at least three, so those will be written in between other books.

Rights. This will be a story about self-aware robotic sex workers who believe that they should have rights, and not simply be used the way they are. I envision this one to become quite graphic, and not for the kiddos. I’ve had this one in my head for about seven years, and the idea is based on Buster’s Law (link), but for self-aware robots instead of animals.

Spiral. After a car accident, the lead character gets addicted to pain killers and moves on to stronger drugs. This will be about how society fails those who are vulnerable, just because there’s a dollar to be made.

To be honest, this is probably all I can do for the foreseeable future. Four more seasons of Tom Creek and five complete novels will take around 20 years, so I don’t want to plan much beyond that at this point. If, by miracle, I can become a full-time author, then things may change, and I might be able to add to my list, but for now, I want to stop there.

So there you have it: the future for my writing as I see it. Life is extremely unpredictable, as recent events have shown us, so I have no idea if I’ll be able to do everything that’s listed here. But you always have to have a plan!

I promise I’ll be better at keeping you updated, and who knows, maybe some day I’ll actually find an agent, sell my books, and you might be able to buy one at your local, independent bookstore. I’ll gladly sign it for you if you like!

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The present…

In keeping my promise, this time I’ll update you on what I’m working on right now.

You’d think that with quarantining amid a global pandemic, time would have opened up to do more writing. However, I still have to work, I still have home responsibilities to both my family and our home and pets, and most importantly: after staring at a computer screen for work all day, it’s still really hard to do more of that in the evening and on weekends, even if it’s to be creative.

So what am I working on?

My recently completed novel titled “Limits” (I like one-word titles) is about two people stuck together on a small spaceship. As I wrote it, the role of the ship itself diminished, but it was the original reason for writing the book. You see, as early as my high school years I dreamed of a ship that could take off and land without the need of runways (‘VTOL’ – Vertical Take Off and Landing), but flew like an airplane. The margins of my high school workbooks were filled with doodles of this ship, which I called an Airlifter. It was powered by two large fans located within the wings, which could rotate once the wings created lift, effectively changing them from lift to propulsion. I never stopped thinking about my Airlifters, but over the past ten years or so the concept changed. The reason was air. If the ship required air, that meant it could only operate where there was an atmosphere. And that just felt too limited. So, over time, the propulsion system changed from using fans to using Selective Gravitational Field drives. ‘Limits’ barely touched on it, but I felt that it required more attention.

At about the same time, I started thinking about people who run large corporations. Usually Chief Executive Officers, or CEOs, we tend to think of them as filthy rich, impersonal demons who try to squeeze every hour out of their employees before ruthlessly casting them aside when they’re spent. And I thought that maybe, just maybe, they weren’t all like that. At least, not at first. And I wondered if I could turn that into a story: how does someone go from being a teenager with big aspirations to becoming the head of a large corporation, perhaps even the largest corporation?

That is how the story was born for the book that I’m writing now. The working title is CEO, although I’m fairly certain I’ll change it to ‘Rising’. As with Undying and Limits, it uses technology as a means to write about people. It starts with the first (accidental) discovery of the Selective Gravitational Field drive, and takes us along as its inventor becomes the head of the largest corporation on the planet. While the technology is the guiding factor, it becomes secondary to the story about Mike Newburgh and how he lives through the changes in his life.

I actually started ‘CEO’ before I started ‘Limits’, but now I’m excited to write the whole story. From a writing perspective, you might be interested to learn that this will be the first novel that I’m writing in actual chronological order.

As I’m getting older, I’m slowly starting to acknowledge the finite constrictions of life. Since there are still so many stories that I need (and not just want) to write – more on that in my next post – I’m going to have to make some changes in my personal life. I can’t quit my day job since that’s financially not viable, but I can dedicate more time to writing. Starting on July 1 2020, my goal is to spend as much of my down-time as possible on writing. If I write instead of watching YouTube, TV shows or movies, I feel that I should be able to complete ‘CEO’ within a year. After all, I’m already 40,000 words in.

I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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The Past…

Forgive me, readers, for I have failed. It’s been…too long since my last update.

Of course, I still update my Facebook status, but I should update my website too. But here’s the thing: it’s hard to do it all. I have a family, I have hobbies, and I have a full-time job. I know, first-world excuses, but still, between all that, it’s hard to go to the website and update that too. But I hereby solemnly swear that I will do everything in my power to try to do better.

In the meantime, I’d like to give you an update on what I’ve been doing over the past few years. I still have my set of three nevels out there: “undying”, “crossing” and “fading”. And I occasionally even sell a copy. I’m just half a grand shy of becoming a fulltime author!

So what have I done since then? I actually haven’t been sitting still. For one thing, I started three separate novels.

The first one, titled “CEO”, starts following the lead character just before he gets kicked out of college, but after he (accidentally) invents a world-changing device. It continues to follow him as he develops his invention, all the way until it makes him the CEO of the world’s largest and most powerful company. However, while successful in business, his personal life suffers. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll figure out how to balance things in the end.

The second one, titled “The Yellow Shirts”, was actually finished, but at some point while writing it went completely off the rails. The idea was that it was about a family moving into a neighborhood and picking up the slack where citizens and officials alike dropped the ball. While pretending to care and provide for the community, in reality they con, bribe and fight their way to the top. While I liked the story, it became too much, and a large part of it turned into a narrative about the horrors of war. I need to completely rewrite this one.

The third one is titled “Limits”, and that one actually is finished. So I’ll tell you more about that in a separate post.

I also started a series of novels titled Tom Creek, after the lead character. He’s a contractor in Providence, RI, and through either work or his friends keeps accidentally digging up (sometimes literally) events that happened in the past that he then tries to either solve or conclude. Each episode is about 25,000 words, which the average reader can consume in roughly 90 minutes, and so far I’ve written all thirteen episodes of the first season. But now they need editing, and that’s where I need help. I tried beta-readers, and while they all replied, it’s hard to implement the changes they want to see while I still keeps the story the way I see it. I’m going to have to try a different approach, because the characters are all wonderful and the stories are fun to write – and read.

So that’s what I’ve been up to. As you can tell, I haven’t been sitting still. Actually, I have been, but when you claim to be an author, that’s a good thing. Next, I’ll tell you about what’s going on now.

Until then, happy reading!

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A new beginning… Again…

You may have been wondering what I’ve been doing with my time. After all, my last book came out in May of last year, so have I done any writing? You bet I have! But after finishing a project as big as the undying/crossing/fading set, it’s kind of hard to start something different. My first attempt was working out quite well, but for some reason, I lost interest. Not that it’s not a good story or a good set of characters (it was and they are), but for some reason, it just wasn’t flowing. Writing is very much a creative process, and I was having trouble keeping the words coming.

So, for now, I have “shelved” that project. It’s not gone, and it’ll likely be back. But I needed to do something that I had more passion around. Check www.tomcreek.com for the shelved project.

So what’s the new project? That’s a little bit of a secret, of course. But I can tell you this: it will follow the life of the main character from age twenty through age 55, as he starts and ends up running the world’s largest company, and how he tries to balance his personal and his professional lives. And it looks like it’s going to be a substantial book, so it may take a while before you get to read it. If I get enough requests, I may start posting some previews…

Stay tuned!

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“undying” to be reviewed in Times Union newspaper!

There will be a brief review of my first book “undying” in a local books roundup article in the Times Union on May 12, 2013 (Mother’s Day)! I don’t know yet what it’s going to say, so it could be good or it could be bad. I guess we’ll all find out on the 12th!

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FREE!!!!

“crossing” is available FOR FREE on Kindle through Sunday 4/7!  And, as a special treat, so is “undying” – the first book in the series!  Get it while it’s hot!

Visit amazon.com/author/mmsmits or search m m smits in the Kindle store!

Keep reading!

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Finally – progress!!!

I know, I know, I keep making promises and not following through.  I was going to have book 2 out by Christmas 2012.  Not so much.  I was going to have book 3 out by spring.  Not even close (or is it?).  I was going to update my website more often.  Pffffttt.

But hey, instead of wasting time on all those website updates, I spent my time… writing.  That’s right folks, you heard it here first: book 2 has been uploaded to Amazon for publishing on the Kindle!  It should be available either 4/3/13 or 4/4/13!

And, because I’m such a giver, it’ll be FREE for the first 3 days!  I’ll add an update to mmsmits.com when it’s available, so get your Kindles charged everyone!

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Silence is Golden (at least, that’s my excuse)

Wow – has it been 17 months since my last update?!?  That’s what the website says!  Amazing how an author refrains from writing on a website.  And, my apologies to anyone visiting who thought that I had fallen off the face of the earth.  Fret not – I’m still kicking.

Let me explain you what’s happened.  No, that takes to long.  Let me summarize.  Actually, I’m not going to explain or summarize what happened.  Just what is happening.

  1. You can follow me on Twitter: @authormms.  I’m pretty sure I can put my twitter feed on my website, but haven’t tried yet.  Will do so next.  I also added my Twitter feed to the website, so when I tweet, you can wead (that seems to work better when spoken aloud…).
  2. Book 2 is at the editor, and I’m anxiously awaiting his report.  To be honest, I’m petrified.  He really liked “undying”, but “crossing” is quite different.  Hopefully he likes my writing style, and not just the subject…
  3. I’ll be at the Upper Madison Street Fair 9/23 11-5.  I’ll have a booth where you can come browse “undying”, read a couple of pages of “crossing”, and, as a premiere, read a couple of pages of “fading”, the third and final “act” of the three-book series.  Come stop by if you’re in the Albany area!  See www.uppermadison.org for details.
  4. I’ll be having a book signing in October at Market Block Books in Troy, NY.  Details will follow as soon as possible!
  5. The most exciting: I’m working on the final piece for book 3 (“fading”).  Who knows, if I get my butt in gear, you might be able to own the complete story by April 2013!!!

So there you have it.  I promise I’ll be better at updating the site, and will try to keep you informed much better.  In the meantime, contact me if you have any questions!

M.

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