Welcome to Wonderland, a quiet, picturesque village located on the Pacific Coast, just south of San Francisco. Prodigal son Rich North and his partner, Marc Anderson, have just relocated to Wonderland after leaving behind their lives-and a secret scandal-back in New York City. They buy a house on exclusive Eldon Court, where five Victorian homes stand. Three other gay couples lives in the other houses, while Number Two Eldon Court remains mysteriously empty. There they meet Edgar and Jack, the longest-tenured residents of Eldon Court; Aaron and Juan, a couple with their own relationship issues; and Sawyer and Dane, a young, gorgeous couple with too much money and time of their hands.
Something is afoot on Eldon Court. A peeping Tom, a possible murder attempt, a case of arson. The clues lead back to Bayside Hotel and the mysterious new owner, Danvers Converse. He is a man with perverse appetites and unstoppable ambition. He will resort to blackmail-or worse-to gain possession of Eldon Court. But why, and at what cost? The only thing the neighbors have is their solidarity. But with a spy in their midst, Eldon Court is being threatened from all sides, and Rich and Marc realize that, as they newcomers to the block, they must stop what’s happening. Until newer neighbors move into Number Two-and all hell breaks loose on Eldon Court.
Passionate, sexy, steamy, Adam’s Carpenter’s Wonderland delves into the lives of men and the men they love, into a community put at risk by progress, and of the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, and love. A modern day drama, complete with victims, enemies, conspiracies, and loads of sex, Wonderland is a rare piece-conceived by one writer, written by three different authors-it is fiction at its most compelling.
There’s a great post here about John Updike and other contemporary fiction writers.
Here’s a sneak peak at the sell copy (or back cover copy) that’s going to be released with the short story, BERT AND BETTY. The weird thing about this is that I can write two to three thousand words a day without a problem. But writing this took almost two hours.
Bert and Betty, happily married and looking to add some romantic spice to their lives, conceive a harmless little game of passion – a bold and exciting improvisation that requires an airplane, some acting talent and a great deal of imagination. And Betty is always able to conjure up something creative.
But there are rules to the game that must be followed: they have to pretend they are total strangers the minute they enter the airport, they have to invent completely different lives, and they both have to be open and willing to the element of danger their little game invokes. And on this particular flight to Nebraska, the danger involves two good looking young men in the next aisle who want to play the game, too.
Betty is always willing to try anything naughty, but she’s not so sure about Bert. He tends to be more conservative about some things and he’s not fond of surprises. So she decides to capture the moment, crossing the line and plunging into an erotic adventure she never expected, without bothering to tell him. But it turns out that she is actually the one who is left with her mouth hanging open in the end.
When I first read Updike in college, I was hooked. I loved the Rabbit books and I loved everything else he wrote. I even liked the blurbs he wrote for other writers, and if I saw one on a back cover, I always bought the book.
And I was never disappointed.
I’ve been receiving so many wonderful submissions for the “Lasting Love” anthology I thought I’d post something about replies from editors. First, we all know there are no hard and fast rules and that every editor has his or her own style and opinion. But I can tell you from experience, the best always reply. And they do it fast, too.
When I first started submitting work to editors, everything was done through snail mail, so things were a little different than they are today. Along with the submission, I’d write up a brief cover letter with a three or four sentence plot description, and then I’d enclose a SASE so the editor could let me know the submission had arrived in tact. If I wanted confirmation, it was my job (and at my expense) to include the SASE. No problem; I never minded doing this. But the big problem then was that you never knew whether or not a story was actually accepted. It took months to hear a reply if the editor wanted it, and if they didn’t want it they rarely ever bothered to tell you. So I’d usually give each submitted story a six month time frame, and if I hadn’t heard anything by then I’d resubmit to someone else. Building good relationships over time with editors was extremely important to me. They usually responded one way or the other if they knew you…even with snail mail…because they wanted you to continue submitting to them in the future.
Then the world changed and we entered the electronic age. The transition didn’t happen overnight, but I think it’s safe to say that very few things nowadays are submitted through snail mail. (In 2001, I was actually told by an editor at a fairly large publishing house that either I started submitting electronically, or I’d be wasting my time.) It was a good thing, too. Editors and writers were now communicating with little effort. We didn’t become pen pals; the e-mails were short and to the point. But it was finally nice to hear, a few days after submitting something, that short note that said: “Got it. I’ll get back to you one way or the other.”
Now, since we started submitting and communicating electronically, I’ve found that different editors have different approaches. Some will reply that they’ve received the submission without being asked to do so, others ask you to mention that you’d like a confirmation, and some won’t reply one way or the other. (I have a habit of always stating, “If you could let me know that you’ve received this, I’d appreciate it.”) But once again, and I can say this from experience, the best editors will always reply. And for me this has never been about etiquette; for me it’s about business. When I write something and submit it to one editor, I do not submit to anyone else until I hear from that editor. But I also know that if the piece is not accepted for publication with the first editor, I’m going to re-submit it to someone else as quickly as I get the rejection. Writing is a business, and I’ve learned there’s little time to sit and worry about rejection. And in all the years I’ve been writing, I can say with confidence that when something has been rejected by one editor, I’ve always found another one who is ready to buy it.
But when you don’t hear from the editor, it ties up the submission and it can get confusing. Because if I don’t hear anything in six months (or whatever the deadline date was for submission), that piece is out to another editor before my computer can say “file’s done.” I can’t even list the amount of times I’ve submitted something to editor #one, and then after I’ve submitted it to editor #two and sold it, editor #one wants it. Sometimes it’s a matter of days (you hear nothing for six months, and in two days time everyone wants it), and all editor #one had to do was keep me updated and I’d never have re-submitted it to anyone else. I hate to turn them down, especially if they were the first choice. But life is about moving on and moving forward and I learned a long time ago that if you don’t think this way as a writer you’re usually sorry later.
Of course, even with e-mail now, I’ve also had the experience of never hearing anything at all from the editor. I’ll submit something and they never reply one way or the other. That’s fine, too, but I tend to remember this and shy away from working with this editor again in the future. I don’t think it’s that difficult nowadays to send a simple reply and keep the writer updated; I do this myself when I’m editing an anthology, because I know how it feels to be kept waiting. It takes one minute from my life to let the writer know that I’ve received the submission and that I’ll be in touch one way or the other. And this is something that I’ve learned from working with some really excellent editors over the years; the best. I’ve also learned that when I don’t get a reply from an editor, it’s usually because they are either amateurs or they just don’t care. But one thing is certain, the best ones always reply that they’ve received the submission and that they will let the writers know one way or the other.
I had a nice surprise yesterday. A short story titled, BERT AND BETTY, came in as a runner up for Ravenous Rendezvous. This was one of those stories I’d had floating around in my head for a long time but didn’t have time to actually write. And when I received the call about the short story contest, I decided to take the weekend and finally do it. I’d been working on deadlines since last June and I didn’t want the story to suffer because I wasn’t focused on the plot. But it was snowing outside, there wasn’t much to do that weekend, and the story started to flow in a way that doesn’t always happen. I already had a few goals and I felt as though I knew the characters well. I wanted them to be ordinary people taking a routine flight, but I also wanted something extraordinary to happen to them while they were on that flight.
When the first draft was finished, I felt that something was missing. The characters were okay, but they lacked something I couldn’t pigeonhole. You know when something just isn’t right. So I decided to take a break and think about it for a day or so. Bert and Betty were originally written as two strangers. He’s the good looking, innocent divorced guy and she’s the well seasoned business woman who always takes what she wants. And when she sees Bert in the airport, she goes after him without thinking twice. There’s also another twist to the plot that takes the story to another level, and that part was fine. It’s just that Bert and Betty were flat and I wanted them to be true romantics.
I was almost ready to give up on the story and not enter the contest, and then I had one of those waves of inspiration that tend hit while I’m either driving or jogging and there’s no paper around to write it down. Why did Bert And Betty have to be strangers? Why couldn’t they be a married couple pretending to be strangers? I had to re-write the story several times in order to get the facts right; I didn’t have much time because there was a short deadline and I was working on another novel at the same time. But after several re-writes and a lot of black coffee, I finally felt satisfied with the changes. And Bert and Betty went from being single strangers to a happily married couple with their own secret game of romance and intrigue.
The point of this story is that I’ve learned to wait before submitting when I have a feeling something isn’t working. The story might be neat and clean and ready to go, but if there’s a nagging feeling that it could be changed in some way I hold off and think about it for a while. I’ve had things published that editors thought were fine, but I wasn’t happy with the final product. And that can haunt you for a long time. So I’ve learned to wait before submitting, because the solution to the problem usually comes sooner or later.