I’m Dreading The Due Diligence Of Literary Agents When I Start to Query This Novel

by Shelt Garner

You know, you take yourself wherever you go. And I’m at a point in my life when I can’t get rid of all the evidence that I’m a drunk crank kook and have been that way my entire life.

My heroine looks like Corrie Yee in my mind as I write her.

My fear is, of course, that in about a year, when I start to query my first novel that I will see agents crawling around this Website doing due diligence on me and obviously being shocked at what a drunk crank I am.

I’ve talked about these fears before, but as I get closer to zooming through the third draft of this novel, I find myself thinking about it yet again. I just don’t know what I’m going to do.

I suppose, in the end, I do nothing.

Slings and arrows and all that. I just have to accept that I may suffer something of a “kook tax” yet again — the liberal white women who I believe make up the vast majority of literary agents may be aghast at what a freaky weirdo I’ve been as I written — and talked — over the years at great length, in vague terms, about what I hope is a six novel project.

Only time will tell, I suppose.

A Hot Take On ‘Woke’ Hollywood

by Shelt Garner

Everything is fucked up in the world. What I mean by that is everyone seems to have an agenda whenever anything makes them uncomfortable. At the moment, there seems to be two types of movies — big budget “four quadrant” blockbusters….and woke movies.

The president of Hollywood.
For someone who is a storytelling snob, this really grates on my nerves. It seems impossible to find just “a good movie” that doesn’t seem to be some sort of preening pontification on the “woke agenda.” And I say this as someone who considers himself center-Left.

I’m all for art having “a message” but there is this thing called….subtext?…that too many earnest Hollywood people seem to have forgotten about. I mean, I hope to write a six novel project that pretty much is just one huge, long screed against extremism in general and MAGA in particular. But my goal is to do it all in such a way that you, the reader, won’t really realize what’s up unless you give it a lot of thought.

That’s the dream, at least.

I know why we have such a problem with over-the-top “woke” movies — the economics of movies are such these days that the only people willing to do passion projects are people who are members of the “woke cancel culture mob” who think you can only tell a story if all its characters are gay and / or a minority. (South Park has a good recent episode on this trend.)

I’m all for having representation in art. In fact, I organically have a lot of representation in my first novel. But at the forefront of my mind is TELL A GOOD STORY. If your message browbeats the audience to the detriment of your storytelling, you’re kind of shooting yourself in the foot.

And I know — I KNOW — that as a smelly CIS white male I’m opening myself up to a lot of hate by even bringing this up. But, I had to vent. I just would like to see modern interpretation of, say, a movie like The Big Chill or Time Bandits without the “message” of the movie making it unwatchable.

I Love Developing & Writing Female Characters, But The Process Can Be a Pain In The Ass As A Male Author

by Shelt Garner

People love, love, love to pick on male authors for all being a bunch of clueless hornytoads when it comes to the female characters that they write. I’m so self-conscious of this issue that I over think everything to do with my female characters.

My heroine looks like Corrie Yee.
Then, of course, I turn around and turn my heroine into a part-time sex worker (stripper.) And given that I often write from a female POV, I find myself in a situation where I just can’t avoid talking about T&A, even though that’s the very thing that the fucking “woke cancel culture mob” things I have no right to describe at all as a CIS white middle age male.

But I dunno. It’s typical of my lot in life that I would inevitable gravitate straight towards the most problematic situation possible. And given that I’m a smelly CIS white middle age male, for some members of the “woke cancel culture mob” there just isn’t anything I can write that they would validate. So, fuck it, why not just endure the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and see what happens.

I like to THINK that I can write about women as a male author that won’t be embarrassing or cause women in the audience to want to throw the book across the room. But the whole sex worker element of the novel definitely makes it a provocative novel in the context of how sexless the “woke cancel culture mob” tends to be.

I’m happen with what I’ve come up with. I know people will really enjoy this novel once I finish it. The question is, of course, will the liberal white women who are often literary agents be cool with not just the contents of this novel but the fact that it was written by a smelly CIS white middle aged male.

Man, Dua Lipa Is Rather Chaste Compared To Madonna

by Shelt Garner

I’m old enough to remember how Madonna ran around quite naked in the late 1980s, early 1990s. It’s rather startling that someone like Dua Lipa — who clearly might be willing to nude for Playboy if it was still culturally relevant — is content with just the occasional spicy snap or faux nudity of a music video.

Its the rise of not just online porn but specifically OnlyFans that makes you realize what a brave new world we live in. Playboy is now a long-forgotten cultural backwater, a legacy brand. Meanwhile, mainstream culture in general has grown not only “woke” but rather chaste.

Of note — the moment MAGA Republicans have power again, they’re probably going to effectively ban online porn. It’s possible that soon enough that because of that specific act that Playboy may again have mass media appeal. I can’t predict the future, but such a thing is definitely one of those unexpected consequences of major policy changes.

I say all of this knowing how fucking dark the Playboy empire was in the shadows. But I do have an appreciation of the (romanticized) Playboy ethos. It would be so cool to bring back something like Playboy After Hours. That was the epitome of cool.

It Seems Possible The Hollywood Industrial Complex Isn’t Unaware Of My Dream

by Shelt Garner

First, let me be clear — it’s extremely flattering if *anyone* connected to Hollywood or the literary world is in any way looking at this blog. I’m so living in oblivion at the moment that just the hint of such a thing being possible is enough to make my week — month?

The President of Hollywood
I only say this because of some rather odd pings in the depths of this blog, as if a lot is going on with the blog that I’m not seeing. I mean, why would someone give a shit about a whole page of me just idly talking on video in vague terms about a novel in this series? (The earlier you go in posts, the more likely the novel I’m talking about is actually the two novels that come from one big story that makes up the last two novels in a projected six novel series.)

I’m so blasé about all of this that I don’t even care that much. I mean, it would be *nice* if they were keeping tabs on this blog because they thought the general premise of the novel was cool and accessible. I’d prefer they not be looking at this blog because they want to take the premise I’ve come up as the premise of a screenplay.

But, I know this novel is getting really good. It’s really, really different and unexpected because it treats stripping in a rather matter-of-fact kind of way. It validates sex work in a non-salacious manner. Which, I think, will really appeal to women readers.

Even if I am a smelly CIS white male.

A Known Bug With The Third Draft Of My First Novel: Too Many Female Characters(?)

by Shelt Garner

Things are moving really, really fast now with the third draft. I hope to lock down the first three chapters by no later than the end of the month. I’m still on track to finish the third draft by about April 1st.

Looking over my copy, however, I’ve noticed something — I have an unusually high number of female characters. Now, this isn’t all bad — women read a lot of novels — but, lulz, I’m a smelly CIS white male, a member of the patriarchy, if you will, and there will be a bunch of fucking woke Xennials who make it VERY CLEAR that I have no right to write from a female point of view as a man.

Ugh. Fuck that and fuck them.

All that should matter is I tell a good story. That’s it. I feel a little bit like Freddy Mercury with Boeheim Rapsody in that if you know the macro plot for the six novels of this project, then it makes sense for all these characters to be female. There is a method to my madness.

And I think I’m probably overthinking things some. Again, as long as I tell a good story I think the unusually high number of scenes where two or more women are talking about something shouldn’t be TOO much of an issue.

I hope.

A Woman Of Two Worlds & The Men She Loves

by Shelt Garner

While it feels like I keep spinning my wheels with this third draft of the novel, something really intriguing is beginning to take shape. I *think* I may have come up with an interesting way to cause a lot of drama — my heroine has two men in her life.

I imagine my heroine looking like a younger version of Nicole Scherzinger.

Each one represents a different thing in her mind and heart. One represents the past, while the other represents the future. One represents the stripping part of her life, while the other represents the journalistic part of her life.

Or something. Something like that. It’s not a perfect fit, but just thinking in those terms is making my insight into the character a lot easier.

I’ve also of late been doing a lot of “outside the box” thinking about which POVs I use, which should come handy later on. I’m really giving people a sense of character when it comes to the unlikely “investigative team” by heroine ultimately assembles to solve the mystery she’s confronted with.

The key thing is I’m kind of in put-up-or-shut-up mode at the moment. I’m not getting any younger — Stieg Larsson dropped dead at my age — and I really, really need to push myself harder. I have to get into the second act as quickly as possible while still maintaining high quality copy.

And that doesn’t even begin to address how I want to dip into screenwriting now as well. But, lulz, I’m being delusional like always, I guess.

This Pop Novel That Is Meant To Be An Old Brown Shoe For Stieg Larsson Fans Is Getting Really, Really Good

by Shelt Garner

I’m a storytelling snob. So much so, that it’s now nearly impossible for me to consume anyone else’s story. But, at last, I believe I may — may — have at last stumble upon a beginning to my novel that actually pleases even me.

Now, remember, I’m not nearly as dark as my hero Stieg Larsson. And it can be a real struggle for me to play it straight — I like to plop in some humor every now and again. I just can’t help myself.

Anyway. It is at least possible that things will zoom along at a pretty fast clip now. I’ve had to grit my teeth and break or bend some of the dumb arbitrary rules I’ve been using to write this novel simply so I can actually finish something, anything.

I am embarrassed by how long it’s taken me to get to this point. I now hope to finish the third draft in the February – March timeframe. Then I will have to figure out how to pay a manuscript consultant to help me take the thing to the next level.

The case could be made that my heroine looks kind of like Pom Klementieff.

What’s more all of this will be happening in the context of the United States careening towards autocracy or civil war / revolution starting in late 2024, early 2025 — just as I plan on querying the novel!

But I have hope. I hope that if I can sell this first novel, I will somehow be given the opportunity to not only write the other five planned novels, but also a few scifi novels I want to write. And maybe, if I’m EXTREMELY LUCKY, a few screenplays too.

But I’m old and they shoot writers, don’t they?

The ‘Barry’ Problem — Managing ‘Spicy’ Scenes In Third Draft Of My First Novel

by Shelt Garner

So. I have a little bit of a problem on my hands at the moment.I’m very leery about having any “spicy” maternal too soon in the third draft of my first novel. But that, unto itself, has caused me to struggle with how to drag things out with interesting scenes.

I have a few ideas, but it’s really difficult at the moment to think of how I can convey what I want to convey without things getting spicy. You see, my heroine is very much a “Barry”-like character in that she had two widely different elements to her life.

On one hand, she owns an alt-weekly and on the other…she owns a strip club.

Because I’m doing all of this in a vacuum, I have no idea if the audience will really like this dramatic dichotomy or if it will only cause them — especially women — to throw the book across the room.

But that’s where I am at the moment. The second draft only alludes to this unique situation, while the third draft really gets into the implications of such a surreal bifurcation of a woman’s life. And, yet, of course, the issue of why even have this as an element of the novel in the first place is another thing that the fucking woke cancel culture mob critics will bring up.

Well, to that, all I can say is, if you think like that — fuck off.

Anyway, I’ve decided to punt the sexxy scenes down the road as far as possible because I want to establish in the audience’s mind that this is a serious journalist we’re talking about. And, besides, if I rushed into things on the sexxy front, the first thing that the “woke cancel culture mob” would bitch and moan about is I was sexualizing my heroine from the get-go.

Ugh, sometimes you just can’t win.

But I’m very pleased with the state of the third draft. I just have to do a lot — A LOT — of brooding about how to make the “filler” scenes interesting enough that people will keep reading, not realizing that I’m biding my time to give them the mental images of T&A they want so bad.

Of course, given the nature of marketing, if I do actually manage to sell this novel, it’s not like people aren’t going to already know what’s going on as they start to read the novel.

It Seems Inevitable That My Novel Will Pass The Bechdel Test

by Shelt Garner

There was a version of the first scene of the third draft of the novel where the novel passed the fucking Bechdel Test. I unfortunately(?) had to re-write it to add some tension the scene.

And, yet, given how many women are in this novel it definitely seems inevitable that there will come a point when it passes the Bechdel Test. I wish I could feel some satisfaction in doing so, confident in the knowledge that I have passed an ever-so-important metric of the woke cancel culture mob.


I AM a smelly CIS white male and, as such, according to the woke cancel culture mob, by definition, I have no write to do anything. I can’t even give them the representation they claim to want because, lulz…I’m a white dude. That’s why I always get angry when I’m attacked online by people to the Left of me.

“I’m on your side!” I think.

I don’t know what to tell you. The two sides are receding from each other at an alarming rate. There’s just no middle ground anymore. Sometimes I am astonished by how self-defeating the woke cancel culture mob can be. While, in general, I’m pretty center-Left, too often “woke” people seem so consumed by their ideological goals that they miss sight of how they’re driving a lot of people who believe they’re “centrist” into the arms of fucking fascism.