Monthly Archives: July 2011

Congratulations to my friend William Ledbetter!

I was incredibly happy to hear the news that one of my best friends in this (or any other) world, William Ledbetter, just won 1st Place in the current Writers of the Future contest! Way to go Bill!

Some news from Chris Baty

I just got this in my email inbox. A little sad, a little happy, the guy who played a good part in me becoming a full time writer is now moving on to become one himself. Good deal, Chris. Good deal. Go get ’em, and if anyone stands in your way, use Monkey Face Attack.

His letter:

Dear Esteemed Writer,

Since founding NaNoWriMo back in 1999, I’ve had the pleasure of sending a lot of emails to participants. I’ve written pep talks, newsletters, exhortations, thank-you notes, apologies, and donation appeals. And, occasionally, I’ve threatened you with the release of face-eating guilt monkeys should your writerly output not increase.

Today, I’m sending you an email I’ve never written to participants before. I’m writing to let you know that this January, after competing in NaNoWriMo XIII, I will be stepping down as OLL’s Executive Director. I am going to be taking a page out of one of my pep talks and heading off on the big, fun, scary adventure of being a full-time writer.



When NaNoWriMo began as a bunch of overcaffeinated yahoos, I never dreamed it would grow into a nonprofit with an office, a year-round staff of eight, Municipal Liaison-run chapters in hundreds of towns, and classroom programs taught in almost 2,000 schools.

Every day I come to work feeling lucky to be a part of it all, and so much of that has to do with you. It’s no secret that OLL has the best participants in the world—a wildly fun, brave, supportive, and hilarious group. Through NaNoWriMo, Script Frenzy, and the Young Writers Program, I’ve met so many people who have completely changed my life. We’ve laughed together. We’ve cried together. And several times a year, we’ve threatened each other with face-eating monkeys. Just to show how much we care.

I’ve loved every minute of it, and when I step down as Executive Director, I want to continue on as a participant. I’ll also be taking on the role of OLL Board Member Emeritus, which is a fancy way of saying that I get to offer input and advice without actually having to do any work.

And when I head off to write in January, I’m really hoping you’ll come with me. I’ll need you to help me maintain my sanity as I sit in front of my computer all day long, so please stay in touch.

And now? Now we have some work to do, because another autumn of creative mayhem is almost upon us. Come December, we’ll hire a new Executive Director, and the staff and I will train this person to within an inch of his or her life. There will be wind sprints. There will be broadsword instruction. There will be espresso-based endurance tests.

They will be judged worthy.

On January 20th, I will head off with you to my writing bunker, and NaNo, the Frenzy, and YWP will continue under the same Program Directors who have been running them with passion and vision for years. Our beloved Municipal Liaisons will keep organizing raucous get-togethers to boost our word counts and writerly mojo in April and November.

OLL’s mission will deepen. The programs will grow and improve. The inspiration engine we’ve all built together will help kids and adults discover their creative potential for decades to come. It’s going to be good.

Thank you for continuing to be such a central part of this organization, and for being an important part of my life these last 12 years.

With a few monkeys left in me yet,

Executive Director
The Office of Letters and Light

Yes, she’s blond, but that has nothing to do with anything … I think


I have no idea who she is.

Google found her for me. I went into picture search and typed in “long straight blond hair.” There was a reason, I know there was, that I wanted to illustrate what I write here with a picture of a girl with long straight golden blond hair, but for the life of me I can’t remember why. It’s because it took so long to find exactly the picture I wanted, that I forgot why I wanted it.

It must have something to do with a scene I just wrote. The character, Loo-Loo, who doesn’t have any idea of who she is or why she’s so astonishingly clairvoyant, has long straight blond hair. But that really has little to do with what I’m writing about. Maybe it was supposed to, but … like I said, I forgot why.

I keep coming back to this manuscript. It’s strange, because I’ve abandoned it four times now and try to work on something else (there’s two other things I really feel I should be working on, one of them being the sequel to Eleven Days on Earth) but something keeps pulling me back to this one.

The problem I’ve been having with it, is that it has a lot of sex going on – and I’m a bit uncomfortable with that. But it’s set in the mid 1970’s, there’s no AIDS yet, it’s the height of the disco era an there’s orgies everywhere.  The protagonist was right in the middle of a sexual situation when he found out his parents are dead. That’s how it begins. The protagonist, who’s 17, gets shipped off to live with his Uncle in a small seacoast town in California, which is like an alien planet to him, and it turns out his Uncle and Aunt are swingers and are always throwing orgies.

It’s a weird little town next to an oil refinery. People who live there either work for the refinery, or they work in one of the little seaside shops, or they fish, or they work at the golf resort on the other side of town. The chief of police is the brother of the school principal, and their brother-in-law runs the refinery, and all three of them make a ton of extra money from the cocaine being smuggled in on the refinery ships.

The town is also a very complicated tangle of relationships, mainly because of the loose morals of the adults – in an era of very loose morals. Back then, in the movies the drug dealers were the good guys. It was hip to be a swinger. And the protagonist, who wasn’t supposed to attend his uncle’s orgies, inadvertently attends one, and finds his pent-up, hidden away grief, his inability to let it go, has also given him a super power: he can’t achieve orgasm. But he’s young, full of energy, handsome, and as the older ladies of the town discover, he can go, and go, and go … and keep going.

Amid all this, there are some mysteries going on. Up in the old county cemetery, there’s a tombstone with the protagonist’s name on it – indicating that whoever it was, he died at 17 years old – exactly a 100 years before. There’s a shamanistic ex-doctor who combs the beach with the mysterious Loo-Loo (the blond amnesiac with strong psychic abilities and some definite angelic qualities about her). There’s a town bully, the son of the principal and nephew of the chief of police (as well as the big boss at the refinery) who is fixated on the protagonist – alternatively violently aggressive, and then almost homosexually obsessed.

There’s clues everywhere to where this is going, and what is really going on in the background … but the story hasn’t told me yet where its ultimately leading. I know the protagonist will eventually start butting heads with the principal / police chief / uncle’s boss. I know people will be murdered.

The details still escape me. I think that’s why I keep coming back to write more of it.

Totally love the new little Nook

I’ve been meaning to pop by a Barnes & Noble ever since I’d heard they’d come out with a new monochrome Nook featuring a touch screen interface. Today is the first chance I’ve had, and of course the first thing I had to do is see how my new novel looks:

I think I’ve just found the eBook reader that would cause me to switch from my Kindle. Amazon is lucky that they were first to market and have so many people already invested in Kindle libraries, because they’d lose big time to this little beauty.

Oh, yes, I played with the color one as well, and it’s nice, but I wouldn’t choose that to read novels on, just like as I prefer reading on my Kindle rather than on my iPad.