Back In The Saddle Again

by Shelt Garner

After a bit of self-doubt recently, I’m again working hard on the third draft of this novel. I have printed out the first half of the second act and I hope to get through it pretty quickly.


I still have a fair deal of writing and rewriting to do, but I’m confident that I will get to the midpoint of the novel a lot quicker than I had thought. What really keeps me going is not only what an interesting story I’ve come up with, but how the novel tells a cogent, coherent story.

It’s not at all the story I had expected to tell when I started this journey several years ago, but it’s A Story, which is all that matters.

And I’m aware that the story is “racy” at times. And, yet, I don’t think there’s anything about the story I can’t finesse through editing. But just introducing the idea of my heroine owning a strip club introduces an element of “raciness” that I just can’t avoid.

My heroine has the same phenotype as Corrie Yee.

There’s not much point in introducing such a unique element to the story without leaning into it and exploring as many weird angles as possible. I am also very aware that if I magically manage to successfully pitch this novel that the “part-time sex worker” angle of things is all anyone will want to talk about, especially in marketing of the novel.

And that element of the novel might make the “woke cancel culture mob” very, very angry with me. Of course, if I was an undocumented trans woman, they would praise me for how I was showing women using their sexuality in an empowering manner. I just can’t win. I can’t help who I am and I try my best to be as empthetic as possible to the female experience.

But I’m a smelly CIS white male — and a middle aged one at that! — so I should just twiddle my thumbs in bed and stare at the ceiling until I drop dead.


Anyway. I hope to zoom through the first half of the second act and reach the midpoint of the novel pretty soon.

Well, If Nothing Else, I Won’t Embarrass Myself With This Novel

by Shelt Garner

Things are finally beginning to click with this novel. As I’m going through and rewriting many of the scenes of the third draft so I can produce something I can maybe get a manuscript consultant to read — if I can find the money — I’m finally, finally feeling confident that this novel won’t, if anything, embarrass me.

My dream is to write a novel as popular and as successful as Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

I can finally feel some peace about all the hard work I’ve done over the last few years with this project. A lot of why things are moving so fast now comes from how I have a stable outline. All I have to do is go through the outline and smooth out some of the rough edges while leaning into character.

I’m really beginning to use cause and effect on the scenes so they’re not just a series of scenes that move around constantly. There is some sense of a flow from scene to scene. This is why I really feel the Beta Release of the third draft will be good enough that it will feel like a professional novel.

My heroine as a sleeve tattoo similar to the one Megan Fox now sports, even though I thought of the idea first.

All systems are go for me to wrap this novel up around July 22 as I hope. When I finally do finish this novel, the real work begins. I’m at a total loss as to what I’m going to do when I start to query this novel. I’ve been developing and writing this novel in such a vacuum that I fear the transition into trying to sell this particular work could be extremely jarring.

But I’m prepared to fail — a lot. And I know the odds are against me big time. It will be like winning a creative lottery to get anywhere near my goal of being a published author anytime soon. Even if I stick the landing, I could be a lot closer to 60 than I am now by the time the book hits bookshelves and people can buy it

My heroine has the same phenotype as Corrie Yee.

And that doesn’t even begin to address the possibility of a political “Fourth Turning” happening or a technological “Petite Singularity.” But I have hope. I’m a peace one way or another.

I believe that when this process is over that I will have a finished novel that I can be proud of, regardless of any obstacles I may face to get it traditionally published.

I’m Studying Fleabag and Lisbeth Salander In An Effort To Make The Characters In My Novel Better

by Shelt Garner

It’s embarrassing how much obsessed I’ve been on plot over the years to the disservice of character. But, now, I’m playing catch up. I’m going through this rough version of the third draft and trying to beef up characterizations in the novel.

Fleabag is a very well developed character.

While my heroine is pretty well thought out, the other main characters in then novel too often are pretty piss-poor. I’m beginning to get a better sense of them, however, even if it’s going to take time to turn them from just “moods” into real people you want to spend time with.

My heroine sports a sleeve tattoo similar to the one that Meghan Fox now has, even though I thought of the idea first.

I’m really pleased with my heroine, though. She is very different than Lisbeth Salander, but she’s just about as intriguing, I think, if I do say so myself. I have done a good job thinking up a really, really interesting person. I could totally see her being someone people want to hang out with for a few novels, maybe even seven! (I hope.) I still am uneasy, however, about how there are members of the “woke cancel culture mob” who will be mad at me for being a smelly CIS white male writing from a female POV at times in the novel.

Lisbeth Salander is such a great character.

Ugh. I can’t help who I am.

My fear is that I’m going to get so sucked into trying to improve character that I will get really slowed down and miss sight of the fact that I need A Draft Done by April 19th so I can hand a few physical copies to people at an event I have. I like having a deadline so, lulz, I’m probably just going to buckle down and try to do everything in very short amount of time.

My heroine has the same phenotype as Corrie Yee.

The draft doesn’t have to be PERFECT, just EXIST in a form that isn’t too embarrassing. I really hope to zoom through this rough draft. One real problem I have is I continue to get impatient at the end of the novel and don’t put my all into making the copy as good as possible.

Ugh. I need to figure out a way to be in the right headspace when I work on the later scenes in the novel. I need to be a lot more serious and professional on that front.

Pondering The Querying Process For My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

There are some basic things I just don’t know about my novel yet, one of them being how long it is. The metric I use for the length of the novel is scenes, rather than word count, so it’s not until the very end of the process that I really know how long the novel is.

The heroine of my novel has a sleeve tattoo similar to the one Megan Fox now sports, even though I thought of it first.

The last time I did this, with the Beta Draft, I undershot my goal of 100,000 words by 20,000 words. Now, however, I have a pretty good sense that once the entire process is complete and I have a Beta Draft of the Third Draft of the novel that I’m going to come in closer to about 140,000 words, which is way, way too long.

But I don’t know yet. It’s possible that I will totally misjudge things again and the story will be closer to 100,000 words, which would be great! I just don’t know right now. I probably should think about adding up my words now as I approach wrapping up alpha release of the third draft, but I don’t wanna.

One thing I’m really concerned about is how the “woke cancel culture mob” is going to react to some of the elements of this novel. I mean, I am a smelly CIS white male writing about a same-sex relationship between two women and that’s just not supposed to happen. And my heroine occasionally strips, which is also going to freak them out.

Corrie Yee has the phenotype of my heroine.

I am well aware that “the demographics aren’t on my side,” as someone recently told me. But, lulz, so what. I know I have a great story on my hands and it’s just a matter of finishing it as soon as possible.

It definitely will be interesting to see if the liberal white women who make up most the vast majority of literary agents will blanch at all of this non-woke behavior on my part in my writing. But I can’t help what I’ve gotten myself into at this point.

I do, however, have a scifi novel rolling around in my mind. It would be one that better fits the expectations of the modern fiction world.

Of course, all of this is happening the context of the rise of AI and the potential Fourth Turning. So, I dunno. Wish me luck, I guess?


by Shelt Garner

Barring something I can’t predict — which could very well happen — I am well on track to zooming through the second half of the alpha release of my first novel. Once I finish that, then I will pause for a bit to reflect on how I can take the beta release of the third draft to the next level.

I’m kind of a kook. (That’s me ~2007 in the background.)

I need to focus on consistency, canon and character. I finally — finally — understand what this novel is about and what motivates my heroine and as such I feel pretty confident I can cruise through the remainder of the alpha release. The beta release, however, may take me a while because that will be the release that I either hand over to and editor (somehow) or I begin to query with.

This beta release of the third draft of the novel Is It, one way or another. I will have Finished A Novel and the the post-production / editing / querying process will begin.

Now, obviously, there are all kinds of fucked up things that might happen. The Petite Singularity could happen and everyone will have a Mind In A Box that they can tell to write them a personalized novel in seconds. Or The Fourth Turning could happen and the US will descend into chaos or autocracy.

I hope to write a heroine as intriguing as Lisbeth Salander.

But fuck it, I’m really pleased with this novel. I’m really pleased with what I’ve come up with and the novel is VERY MUCH a reflection of my personality to the point that if you finish reading it, you’re going to maybe know a little bit more about me than you might think.


All of this is happening in the context of me potentially finishing ANOTHER NOVEL in the same series at some point this year. And, really, in a sense, the only thing that would slow me down on that front is my own arbitrary perfectionism and having to accommodate all the changes to the story that I made when I finished the first novel.

Corrie Yee has the phenotype of the heroine of my first novel.

I’m feeling pretty excited. It will be interesting how long it takes for me to find an agent. I’m going to give myself about five years before I say, “Well, I guess this novel isn’t it.” And I hope to keep writing while I query this particular novel so I might have a more marketable scifi novel I can pitch if things don’t work out with this particular mystery-thriller homage to Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Series.

Only time will tell, I suppose.

At The Midpoint: Things Are About To Lurch Forward With The Alpha Release Of The Third Draft of My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

Very soon — no later than tomorrow afternoon — I’m going to sit down and start to flesh out the second half of the alpha release of the third draft of my first novel. Things *should* move pretty fast now. I hope. I know this story really well now — it’s about a part-time stripper’s obsession with owning a small town community newspaper.

Corrie Yee is the basic phenotype of the heroine of my first novel.

Now, obviously, this is…an unusual concept for a novel. But, lulz, I’m weird, too, so fuck you. (wink.) I get the sense that it’s possible that all my very conspicuous talking about the status of this novel is generating a teeny-tiny amount of attention / buzz somewhere deep in the bowels of the infotainment-industrial complex.

Nothing serious, but someone in Greece — obviously someone on vacation — made a very pointed Google search that found some old copy of the novel that I posted here on this blog. Also, there was a picture of the phenotype of my heroine — Corrie Yee.

My heroine has a sleeve tattoo similar to this one that Megan Fox now sports, even though I came up with the idea first.

I have no idea what any of this means. It could be good — maybe some VIP finds my novel idea intriguing — and it could be bad — a movie producer is going to “steal” my concept and then next thing you know, A24 is coming out with a movie that is pretty much the same story as the one I’ve been working on for so long.

That latter idea is extremely paranoid on my part — I mean, lulz, no one cares about anything I have to say. And I don’t know, while I suppose it’s *possible* my idea is good enough to hang a screenplay on without all the fleshing out I’ve done for the novel….I don’t know. I just don’t know.

I hope to write a heroine as intriguing as Lisbeth Salander.

It could go either way.

All I know is I’m going to keep working on this fucking novel until something absolutely, on a concrete basis, blocks me so it’s impossible and I have to piviot to something else.

Even if someone was going to write a screenplay based on what little I’ve posted about the actual premise of this novel online, it would take them time to write and produce the movie. That would give me some wiggle room, I suppose. But I vacillate widely between thinking obviously I’m doomed and thinking there’s no downside to what’s going on.

Here is my angry rant about what happened to me in Seoul in staring in late 2006, which inspires a lot of the novel I’m writing.


Having said all that, I hope to zoom through the second half of the novel in the coming days. Once I finish the alpha release of the third draft, I’m going to take a HUGE FUCKING BREATH and game out canon and character development. The beta release of the third draft will be the one that I either give to an editor or just using to start querying. (After I let some people read it, of course.)

But things should move really fast now. Really, really fast. So fast that there is still a pretty good chance that I might even finish a SECOND novel in the series this year.

My Heroine Looks Like A Mixture of Olivia Munn & Nicole Scherzinger — But Younger

by Shelt Garner

In general, my heroine looks like combination of Olivia Munn and Nicole Scherzinger, but younger. While those two women are gorgeous, for structural reasons my heroine is in her early 30s. I suppose Munn could “play younger” or be de-aged a little bit. (This is all delusional at this point because I haven’t finished the novel yet, much less gotten to the point where I can seriously think about any sort of movie adaptation.)

But I like to daydream, so, lulz.

Here’s a gratuitous picture of Olivia Munn.

So if you take Olivia Munn and combine her with Nicole Scherzinger…

And make this combined woman younger, you get…

…Corrie Yee.

Anyway. I’m just letting off some steam at the moment before I turn my attention to trying to lock down the first three chapters of the third draft of the novel.

Uh Oh

by Shelt Garner

So, I was in Richmond yesterday, finding random people to hand out a draft of the first three chapters of the novel to when something happened that stopped me cold. I told a young woman who was obviously a liberal white woman the more “edgy” elements of the novel — that my heroine owned a strip club — and she immediately shut down.

This does not bode well for how the liberal white women that I imagine make up the majority of literary agents will respond to that same “edgy” part of the story. I was talking to the young woman in question, having a friendly conversation about the novel, but the moment I told her about the strip club part of the story — she shut down and wandered off.

My reaction to this is multifold.

On one hand, it definitely is a tap on the shoulder to have a back up plan of some sort. I really need to work on a back up novel. I have three solid scifi concepts I can work on.

The heroine of my novel, in my imagination, looks a lot like Corrie Yee.

My other reaction is, fuck it, we’ll do it live. If “Barry” can be produced to success, then my weird little story can potentially be a success, too. I just have to buckle down and get this thing done.

I continue to be concerned about word count, however. I really need to be prepared for the novel to be in the 140,000 – 160,000 range which is just way too fucking long. That gives me another reason to pause and work on a backup plan

Things *Should* Move REALLY FAST Now With The Third Draft Of My Novel

by Shelt Garner

It’s time. I have got to start to push myself when it comes to wrapping up this third draft. I have a fairly stable first two chapters of the third draft, now is time to zoom through the first act. Once I hit the second act, things SHOULD move even faster.

My heroine looks a lot like Corrie Yee in my mind.
I have written and re-written so much of this novel, that once I get the new beginning of the novel done, then, zoom, I hope to wrap up the third draft no later than maybe April. I know full well that if I don’t keep and eye on the calendar, it could be fall 2024 before I finish the third draft and the whole world could be being coming apart at the seams.

Anyway. It’s officially put up or shut up time. I have got to finish this third draft ASAP so I can piviot to the next step in the process – querying.


by Shelt Garner

Now that I have pretty much built the cornerstone of the third draft by having a stable first chapter, I can get down to business. There is the issue of a ‘canon.’ To date, I have kept canon up to date in my mind by simply reading and re-reading what I’ve already written.

Heroine of my first novel looks like Corrie Yee, phenotype wise.
But that has led me to grow very unhappy with what I’ve written and, as such, rewrite everything. This has obviously slowed me down a great deal. But I took a look at the new version of the first chapter today and realized my heart wasn’t in it. This is a good sign — I can now throw myself into finishing the rest of the first act.

And what SHOULD happen once I finish the first act is things go very, very fast. That would put me on track to finishing the third draft of the novel no later than, say, around April 1st. That’s the hope, at least.

President of Hollywood, are you out there in the aether, reading?
Then I would have all summer to figure out how to afford a professional manuscript consultant to look at the novel before I query in in the fall — just as my world — and everyone else’s — is thrown up in the air because of a potential “perfect storm” of the Fourth Turning and a some sort of Petite Singularity.

Or we might actually punt our problems down the road such that I can try to enter the querying process in peace and quiet. If I legitimately thought someone in some way connected to the Hollywood industrial complex was interested in this novel I MIGHT post the stable first chapter of the novel just to give them a taste of what I have.

But I am well aware that by saying that outloud that some asshole will use a proxy to make it SEEM like someone with Hollywood connections was lurking out there in the aether reading this blog.

So, lulz, not going to do that.

But the first chapter is shaping up to be really, really good. I rewrite a lot of it recently because I used AI to give a sense if it was any good and it told me “not enough tension.” So, I reworked it to make the things a bit more tense and give the thing a bit more of a flow.

I am well aware that many, many other people are doing the same damn thing I’m doing and they’re not drunk cranks. I know anyone doing due diligence on me would probably conclude I was too much of a freaky weirdo to give a old drunk crank like me a chance.

Oh well. Slings and arrows and all that.