Which novel should I work on?

I have two novels that are mostly complete, but I can only focus on one for the purposes of querying literary agents. Which one do you think I should focus on first?



Washing off the Glue
Washing off the Glue is a modern coming-of-age story of art, madness, loss, and love.

Marie’s father left a note: Don’t go looking for me—-you’ll ruin the surprise. And Marie, still in her first year of high school, doesn’t blame him for leaving: Her mother—-with her hoarding and depression and gloom—-is insufferable. Marie longs to reconnect with her happy-go-lucky dad and spends the next ten years of her life looking for him.

But from Boston to San Francisco, from Internet searches to private investigators, to visits with far-flung relatives, the search gets her into trouble. First, there’s the problem of debt: Marie runs up massive credit card bills, believing that, if only she had enough money, she could reunite her family. Second, she’s dealing with constantly feeling euphoric one moment and suicidal the next.

As her artistic career blossoms and the trail to her father finally shows promise, Marie’s psychological challenges intensify. But when she finally finds her father—in a surprising state that could foreshadow her own future—-Marie faces the most challenging question of all: Now that she’s found him, does she actually want him in her life?

The Trick
The Trick is an upmarket vampire story of time, hunger, family, and love, told alternately from the male and female protagonist’s point of view.

Vincent, a faithful Catholic, is two hundred seventy-one years old, survives on the blood of living creatures, and can perform an amazing trick: he can reverse time–for fifteen minutes, anyway. Vincent is in a long, long quest for love and family, but each time he is foiled, until he meets Helen. He’s absolutely smitten; Helen is the woman he’s been looking for. There’s just one problem: she is aging and Vincent is not. Vincent refuses to turn her-—immortality comes with pain, and there’s her soul to consider.

As he remembers his past loves-—the revivalist Christian, the flapper, the ’70s boyfriend, and others-—Vincent realizes his love for Helen surpasses them all. In the end, it seems like compromise might win the day. Together they form a family and can reverse time farther than they ever imagined, but this time there’s a new problem: Helen is not the same person she was before, and this is not the life she wants for her human daughter. Can their love survive the merciless march of time?

Decisions, decisions

Where should I put my travel stories?

I have two blogs, one primarily for photos (here), and one primarily for writing (this one). So where do I put my travel stories? They always contain a number of photos, but, there’s also a lot of story to go with them. Here are two examples: Rhyolite, Death Valley and Quinault Rainforest, Olympic National Park. Do they belong here? Or there?

Novel snippet

Another short snippet from my novel-in-progress, The Trick.

Small annoyances got under her skin and grew more obnoxious over time. Jake’s voice, once a soothing baritone, developed a scratchy rasp. The way that he ate food, slobbery and loud, started to madden her. His caramel and honey scent turned to bitter licorice, and the hazel of his eyes turned a puke-toned green. Not literally, of course, thought Helen. But that’s how things go over time, don’t they? They acquire qualities one never imagined on first meeting.

What do you think?

 

Big Sur Horizon

This photo of Big Sur posted in response to today’s daily prompt, Horizon. I took a series of photos left-to-right and then pasted them together in Photoshop to make a panorama. I was fairly outdoorsy when I lived in California and always had my camera (Nikon D200) with me. Nowadays my biggest hobby is writing. Still, my trusty camera and lenses sit on the shelf, waiting for the day when I feel like taking a picture again. Odds are higher that I’ll take photos with my iPhone, and not lug around the heavy Nikon.

Big Sur Panorama

And another Big Sur coastline horizon:

Big Sur Beach

Pretty-creepy songs

I’m a fan of songs that are pretty to the ear but contain a darker undercurrent in the lyrics. These pretty-creepy songs are nice to listen to, but something dark is going on.

Every Breath You Take

Perhaps the most famous example of a pretty-creepy song is Every Breath you Take by The Police. On first listen you might think it’s a gentle love song. No! The narrator is obsessed. It’s basically an ode to stalking.

Even Sting himself admits it’s not a love song. According to Wikipedia he says “it is about the obsession with a lost lover, and the jealousy and surveillance that follow.” Doesn’t matter what Sting says, however, because the lyrics speak for themselves:

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

I’ll be watching you? With every step? That’s definitely not a healthy relationship he’s talking about. I’m always surprised at how many people think it’s a regular love song.

The Nicest Thing

Kate Nash’s The Nicest Thing starts out gentle, with soft guitar, gentle violin (or is that a cello?) and almost self-conscious lyrics. The conversational style reminds me of Elton John’s Your Song. She talks about her crush and how she wants to see if they can make it happen. So far, so good, as far as romantic songs go. But then this happens:

I wish that without me your heart would break
I wish that without me you’d be spending the rest of your nights awake
I wish that without me you couldn’t eat
I wish I was the last thing on your mind before you went to sleep

That’s not love! That’s not romance! That’s terrible. She wants this guy to suffer (really suffer) if she can’t have him. Here’s a hint: if you want someone to suffer, you really don’t love them. It’s a slightly modified version of “If I can’t have you, then no one will!”

The object of her affection/lust/torment is not even an actual lover. She works up all this pain and anguish for someone she barely knows? Gee, that’s not stalkery at all.

Shady Grove

Takenobu’s cello version of traditional Appalachian folk song Shady Grove might be a love song, but there’s a bit that throws me off:

If I can’t have the girl I love
I don’t want none at all

It’s not quite as bad as “If I can’t have you, then no one will”, but it’s in the same ballpark. And this:

I wish I had a needle and thread
The finest that could sew
I’d sew that pretty girl to my side
And down the road I’d go

HE WANTS TO SEW HER TO HIS SIDE! Maybe it’s a metaphor, but I get a definite “it rubs the lotion on its skin” vibe. At minimum it implies a disregard for her feelings.

As with “The Nicest Thing” or “Every Breath You Take,” there’s plenty to suggest that the object of his desire doesn’t return his affection:

I wish I had a banjo string
Made of golden twine
And every tune I played on it
I wish that girl was mine

She’s not even his girl, and he’s already dead set on marrying her:

Some come here to fiddle and dance
Some come here to tarry
Some come here to fiddle and dance
I came here to marry

Note the similarity with earlier ballad Matty Groves, which features a lover’s triangle and murder. Wikipedia observes,

The folk/Bluegrass song “Shady Grove” from the United States also with many variations in wording, some arising in and around the Civil War, has a tune very similar to and possibly arising from the tune of Matty Groves.

But wait, I love these songs

Make no mistake, I love all three of these songs. Their beauty lies in the feeling that what you hear is not what you get. I particularly like how “The Nicest Thing” builds from casual to completely demented.

There are probably tons of pretty-creepy songs out there. Can you name any others?