Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice


It finally happened.

On Saturday morning, after inserting and feathering in an 810-word sequence, I sent off my manuscript to that “one more reader.” I kind of wanted to feel like Rocky running up the steps while training; I felt more like these two guys:

I’m not sure which one’s the manuscript and which one’s me!

It’s amazing how tiring it is, isn’t it?

So, for reasons I can’t explain, I do keep stats on this sort of thing. As I have stated, when I started the revision process way too long ago, I had a 138,000-word, 426-page monster on my hands. My revision process this time was to start with a blank page on the screen, and marked-up, printed pages on the desk in front of me. I copied off the printed pages. When I finished that version, I was down to 124,000 words, 415 pages. Better. Not ideal, but I thought I might be able to live with it. My spell check run through netted six words cut, but added two pages. Location is everything. Over the next three weeks, I went back through and tightened and trimmed (and added). The result is what I hope is a sufficiently-sleek beast, standing in at 119,500 words and ‘just’ 402 pages. I am happy with it right now.

On Sunday, I started noodling a bit, chewing a little over an old idea that might just be able to have new life. I opened a new document, asked myself some story questions, even wrote something of a scene. Will it go anywhere? I don’t know yet. I hope so. Also on Sunday, I spent some time resurrecting the query letter for my now out-of-my-hands manuscript. Query lettering is hard. Ugh. The good news is I’m off all week, so I might have time to make some headway on both.

This and that

*John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight continues to be one of the best things on television. Last night’s piece on authoritarianism, like the best segments on that show, is funny, timely, and scary. The world has been shifting in an uncomfortable direction for some time. It used to be, America at least made a show of standing up to strongmen and standing up for freedom (when we weren’t selling them arms or propping them up in the name of strategic interests, that is). That time now seems to be over. If you haven’t seen the segment, you can find it here.

*I’m not sure what it is, but over the last week or so I’ve had unusually vivid dreams, and been remembering them more than usual (or remembering that I had them; aside from one in which I was being chased around a lake by a small snapping turtle, most of the rest are really kind of fuzzy). At least they’re not nightmares.

*The Catbird comes home tomorrow. It will be nice to have everyone here for a short time.

*At the grocery store yesterday, while wandering up the cereal aisle, I realized they were playing Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do?” I thought, “This is grocery store music now???” Especially because I’m pretty sure he says, “I want to fuck you” through his guitar talk box at one point. If you’re a certain age, that album was pretty inescapable. Still is, on a lot of classic rock stations (and, apparently, in grocery stores).

*Thursday is Thanksgiving here in the States. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, have a great week to all!

4 Responses

  1. Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, and yay! for getting your book out there. After they read it, then what?

    And you better get used to continue writing query letters, because what those suckers really are, are the blurbs on the back of the book. And when you get published (either trad or self), you're required to write them! Yes, even trad (they want something to start with). I've taken classes in how to write them, but apparently you can hire people to write them for you, too.

  2. After they read it, then it's on to what I hope will be a minor edit, and then…it's query time! I'm still not on the self-publish bandwagon.
    You can hire people to write your blurbs? Or your query? Seems if you can't do either yourself, then you probably don't know your book well enough to sell it!

  3. Actually,,trad publishers tend to write the cover copy (they just ask for the blurb so they have something to go with). And it's not about "knowing" the story, it's about SELLING it. I'm getting better at cover copy, but a marketing person in the field would know which words would work better to sell the thing, and for that I could see hiring someone to do that.

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