I've been saying for years that I need a mentor. More recently, in my more confused and desperate moments, I have commented that what I really need is a volleyball with a handprint on it, a la Cast Away, that speaks in the voice of Stephen King. In my mind, I mean. It would scoff at my concerns over whether my prose is quite literary enough, what that reader said about my book on Goodreads, and whether I will ever feel worthy enough to dare to apply to the MacDowell Colony, because in On Writing he specifically (without naming it) jests about his own long-ago MacDowell fantasies.
From the photo above, you can see where this is going. I did it. After a somewhat fraught phone call with my agent ("You can always send your new manuscript to me before you send it to your editor," she told me, "I'll give you my honest opinion," to which I replied, "that's what I'm afraid of") I came home, grabbed a tennis ball that has never been used by my lazy non-retrieving "hunting" dogs:
... and drew on it an artistic interpretation of Mr. King. He has a seat of honor on the bookshelf just to the right of my writing chair. Writing is a lonely profession, so how delightsome it will be that I now have someone to talk to. And this will be a relationship of mutual respect: no "#1 fan" jokes from me, no comments about how "The Stand: The Complete and Uncut Edition" could have maybe stood to be a little less complete and more cut, and in return he won't berate me for being slow and neurotic. Stay tuned as he doles out advice to me and hopefully offers me guidance on an upcoming sex scene.
Meanwhile, the blogger reviews for Heaven Should Fall are coming in slow but positive. One of today's: "a grim and compelling tale whose finely crafted characters reveal a thoughtful study of an insular family stunted by extremist views and shocking tragedy." Oh, grimness! The end is uplifting, I assure you! And on another uplifting note, it looks like I will be at the Baltimore Book Festival this Saturday after all. Please drop by and allow me to sign a copy of my shocking tragedy for you.