Wednesday, September 30, 2009
So, do you know?
The forestry industry felt like it was criminalizing them. So... I can see that I suppose. On the other hand, there is the fact that Dr. Seuss depended on the forestry industry in order to publish his books. So, I'm left wondering what Dr. Seuss was suggesting in regards to the truffula trees and my place in all of this. I want to be a published writer but not at the expense of those adorabe barbaloots in their barbaloot suits. Then... the swomee swans... and the humming fish. I see now that the only answer is to go strictly with e-book publishing to avoid becoming a greedy Once-ler. I'm pretty sure that is what Seuss would have wanted.
Then, I moved on to Yertle the Turtle... and really... I'm not Hitler, so that was mostly okay.
Wait, though... the Sneeches... and the Butter Battle Book....
No, I'm good with those too. It's really just the Lorax that I need to justify.
In reality, though, trees are renewable resources, and I do recycle.
Phew. Okay. Justified.
So, yes, I have started another book. I feel bad about it... honestly. I am in the process of proofreading Face of the Phantom, though... and I did tack on another chunk to Honor six. I went to hand off "Sheri's Tales" to my little teenage crazed fan and she asked excitedly, "HONOR SIX?" Okay... so... no. As she was the second person to ask me if I'd finished Honor Six, I felt particularly bad about starting another book, but this new book is eating into my brain, and I need to work on it so I'll be able to sleep. Sleep is very important and this new book is really cool.
Tomorrow is October. BOO! BOO! I'm hoping the husband hasn't noticed. I sooo don't want to get a lame job to pay off my lame bills. If I was going to be able to do something I enjoyed... that would be different, but I've been out of the workforce for so long due to the kid's needs. Ugh. I haven't even thought about making up a resume. Ick. Blech.
Tomorrow is picture day for the kids. I really should make sure they have clothes to wear. That reeks of work. I hate work. I hate laundry. Booooo! Booooo!
First of all, the salutation:
Dear (Cut and paste author's first name)
The exception would be if the author has "Dear Agent" or "To Whom it may concern" -ed you. In which case... go ahead and "Dear Author" us. It serves us right.
Onto the body of the letter:
I have considered your submission but I have a very specific type of manuscript and writing style I'm looking for. I also have a limited number of clients I'm able to take on. I hope you will find the right agent for you elsewhere, but in the meantime, keep writing and good luck.
Simple... to the point... Agents read thousands of submissions a year so I don't blame you for not wasting time on something not for you.
A few things that crush my soul that should not be put in a rejection letter:
*not publishable. (There must be nicer words than this.)
*upon careful consideration. (It's either a lie dressed up nicely... or it's true, but authors will always believe it's a cliche phrase meaning you used their manuscript to wipe up something that spilled.)
*I wanted to like your submission. (I've received more than just one letter... and seen several on-line that use this phrase. To me... it means, "Your plot sounds promising, but wow... you really blew in execution. What the hell is wrong with you? Did you even take any English classes?" )
*pass (This word equates to "fail" in my vernacular. It's odd, because it shouldn't, but around the third time an agent says "I'm sorry to say I'm passing on your manuscript," it suddenly takes on the same meaning as the phrase "passed on." As in, "I'm sorry... your manuscript is dead. My condolences." )
*not for me (This phrase sounds pretentious. As in "this is not for me as I exist on a plane far above authors." )
*DO NOT MENTION THE IMPROBABILITY OF AN AUTHOR FINDING AN AGENT. How is that supposed to make me feel better?
*There is no need to mention it's a form letter. Chances are... I know it's a form letter from the salutation of "Dear Author," so pointing out that it's a form letter is unnecessary. I'd rather imagine it wasn't... if the rejection was actually nice.
If I've followed the submission guidelines to the letter and addressed you by name... I just honestly feel like I deserve a nice form letter rejection. Unless I'm sending you something profane or awful... in which case, here is the form letter for that:
Dear Author... if you think you can call yourself that,
Did you really think your pile of rubbish was worth printing? I invited everyone in the office to walk through and step on it before I set it on fire in the bathroom sink. Along with this email rejection I'm sending you a virus that will hopefully corrupt and delete all copies of that crap from your computer. Whatever your day job is... you need another one just so you have no extra time on your hands to contribute to the moral decay of society.
Regards and lose our email address,
I think if I move on to printing out queries and going that route... I'm going to include a self-addressed rejection letter with blanks to fill in. It'll be like picking out a gynecologist. You know that no good will come of it, so you might as well go for the most comfortable. I'll be feeling a little defeatest by the time that rolls around apparently.
By the way, this was tongue-in-cheek humor. (Actually... basically everything I write is either that or full-on sarcasm.)
Oh... hey... it's time for yoga. I should get going.
T- "Mom, how do ferries float?"
W- "Sweetie, fairies don't exist. Of course... you're not supposed to say that because one falls dead every time you do... but... No. Wait. That's pixies. You probably still shouldn't say that about fairies, though, because they're mostly the same." (Yes... that's right. I've been so thoroughly brain-washed by Disney that I mutter inane guilt-ridden gibberish at times.)
T- (puzzled silence) "What?"
W- "They don't exist."
T- "Yes they do."
T- "NO. I'm talking about the ones on water."
W- "Water fairies?"
T- "Yes. You know... the ones on water. How do they float?"
T- (sighs) "Ferries can't fly. The ones on water, Mom!"
W- (thinking to herself... 'Wouldn't water fairies still use their wings to get around?' )
T- "The big boats that cars go on... how do they float?"
W- "OH! Ferries." (Thinking, 'Wow... I knew more about fairies than ferries.' ) "They're like boats... so... yeah."
W- (laughs) "I thought you were talking about fairies not ferries."
This, of course, made us all laugh... partly because it sounded so stupid. Then... I rethought the whole conversation in his context and couldn't stop laughing.
I do believe in ferries... for the record, but if I didn't, I would hope they don't drop dead.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
There must be pie for there to be sanity.
I was staring at a synopsis for too long. My brain aches. A book synopsis makes my eyes bleed. It's like watching your child get vampired... all of their juicy goodness is drained down to a Dick and Jane book. It's hard for me to tell the entire story in just a few pages without making it sound like I'm being patronizing. Hopefully, agents are used to that... adjective-free, psuedo writing. "See Honor go to the store. Honor kills monsters. Monsters want to eat Honor. Honor is unhappy." It's mind-numbing... like writing out a lobotomy. The back-cover pitch is fun. Synopsis... ugh.
Hopefully, the quality of my writing is not ever judged on a plot synopsis.
Pie... Must... eat... pie.
1. No guns in our house. I'm an extreme pacifist even though I'm a military brat. I told the husband when we married that he was never to own a gun, hunting was off-limits, and there would be no toy guns in our house. (My bff Stephanie is the same way. I used the term 'bff' just to annoy her.) I was firm on this... really firm. We still have no 'actual' guns in the house and my brother-in-law, who is a cop, either puts his gun on a high ledge or leaves it behind in the car. On the toy guns, the husband has little by little undermined my authority. It started with the nerf guns. They're not "real" guns. They're just nerf guns. They shoot balls for crying out loud. I could handle it. Then came any number of ray guns and blasters. Well... they didn't look like guns... and they were more for "space" fights... right? Then, squirt guns that look like flourescent version of actual guns. Okay... so... wait.... (My assimulation into broken parenthood was nearly complete.) The husband bought a cowboy costume for T. It has a full-on silver pistol with it. Guess what became T's favorite thing in the whole world? At that point, I don't know why I bothered. By then, I'd discovered T could make anything into a weapon. We had several dozen items in "time-out" on top of our fridge because they'd become weapons... including a pool noodle. Somewhere out there, the borgs of bad parenting are having a good laugh.
2. We would be establishing no strange fears in our children. The fear of spiders, snakes, and so on are learned not innate. Thus, as modern-day parents, we would boldly teach our children to fear nothing... but fear itself. There were two impediments to this. The first was grandma... who apparently squeals and dives around if something moves funny. Sigh. My mother screams at paint drying... I swear. The second impediment turned out to be me. I've surpressed my "scream and run around like a girl" reflex... but something evil lurked in the depths of me. I didn't realize while I was so busy saying that spiders and snakes aren't scary that I was teaching them subtly through my OCD to be afraid of lamer things. T walks in the woods like the flora is just waiting to attack and eat him. (I hate nature... in general.) B can't handle coloring outside the lines and learned how to use white-out in kindergarten. Sigh. You fail!
3. This was possibly the lamest of all my parenting goals. I was determined to raise my children as gender-neutral blobs of possibility. If T wanted to play with dolls, I was going to buy him a doll and be "cool" about it. This is when and how I discovered that the gene for trucks kicks in early... much to the husband's relief. (The husband is a bit macho when it comes to what he wants his son... number one son... his first man child... to play with, dress like, admire....) Today, I realized that T is talking incessantly about the P.E. teacher. B. has never so much as mentioned his name. (B has, likewise, become the uber princess of all princessness.) I think sometimes... fate slaps you upside the head just for kicks. I also decided that my baby daughter would wear no pink frilly dresses. Gag... blech. Yeah, it was like walking around with a lightning rod on my head. B LOVES all things girly. BUZZ. Better luck next time. Thanks for playing.
4. So, that I can fully establish how all my early plans went awry or backfired.... I also decided that my daughter would never hear me disparage my weight. I would be "unhealthy" not "fat." (Well, that makes it sound like that was the goal... the goal was really to be trim, buxom, and surpassing all hotness on the meter. LOL. I slay me.) So, while the husband slips and uses the term "fat" (only when describing self,) I don't. Unfortunately, this means that T feels like it's okay to comment on all those that have unhealthy habits. "Mommy, that man is smoking... that means he is going to DIE sooner, right?" T uses his loud voice 24/7 and for some reason has a dramatic tone and volume for the word "DIE." I wave at the nice man who is smoking in a far-off (within ear-shot of loud T) corner and say quietly, "Remember how we don't say that stuff out loud, T." This also means that the word "fat" has been taught to him via friends as a descriptor and he uses it frequently. Although, I will say it doesn't sound much better for him to say, "Mommy, that woman is very unhealthy and will DIE from disease" instead of "Mommy, that woman is fat." I had really good intentions with this one too.
There are a multitude of other ways I've failed in my perfect parenting goals... but you get the picture.
Well, I'm slightly less depressed today. Jane Yolen made me feel better... strangely enough. (I wonder how many other people will say that today.) "How do dinosaurs get back their self-esteem?" Jane Yolen.
On the other hand, there will be pie. The wait for replies from agents has just begun. I hate this kind of waiting. I almost don't want to open my in-box. So, I'll be going to eat pie at my favorite eatery later. It's the only way. Sometimes, soldiering on requires Jane Yolen... and pie.
Since I've already revealed that I like to switch out words from famous film line quotes, this shouldn't surprise you (from "My Best Friend's Wedding- bolded are mine) :
Suddenly, a familiar scent. And, you're off your chair in one, exquisite movement... wondering, searching, sniffing the wind like a dapple deer. Has God heard your little prayer? Will Cinderella eat pie again? And then, suddenly, the crowds part and there it is: sleek, stylish... radiant with charisma. Bizarrely, it's on the telephone. But then, so are you. And then the coconut cream pie comes towards you... the moves of a jungle pie. Although you quite correctly sense that it is... high in saturated fat... like most devastatingly handsome single slices of pie are, you think... what the hell. Life goes on. Maybe there won't be marriage... maybe there won't be sex... but, by the baker's dozen, there'll be pie.
Have a good Tuesday everyone!
Well, I wrote the end of Honor Six... but I still have the middle to work out, so don't get excited. It's rare for me to write the end before I get there. In fact, I think I've only done this with one other book, but I could be wrong. This is more of the epilogue, though, and it's funny. Sometimes I'm in the mood for a little humor. I'd told the husband a while ago how this was going to end up and it was making me laugh just talking about it. Honor is just so freaking hilarious at times. She's violent and smarts off... what's not to love? With my OCD meds destroying my memory, it's funny every time I read it too. (How's that for a silver-lining?)
Uh oh... I think B is awake. B is a poor sleeper too due to insomnia... and OCD. She has been having a lot of night wake-ups. I remember when I had her, people told me that I wouldn't sleep through the night for the whole first year. Eight and a half years later, I've looked forward to the husband and my anniversary trips just to get a full night's sleep. (Sad, but true.) It's this beautiful moment that always happens. We look deeply into each other's eyes... sigh in ecstasy just before we both say, "I'm totally looking forward to a good night's rest."
T is a poor sleeper too, because he sleep walks. It's the freakiest thing I've ever seen. I never believed sleep-walking stories. T wanders around and is impossible to wake.
They both still have night terrors.
Cursed. We're all cursed... well.. except for the husband who can fall asleep at will... which makes me curse him. So, really... we're all cursed.
Monday, September 28, 2009
I didn't sleep last night. Well, that's a lie. I think I got around two hours between snatches here and there. The husband mentioned that I could at least sleep when I got back from dropping the kids off. He said it in this disingenuous way as if he hadn't just spent the last twelve years with someone suffering from insomnia. The rules to insomnia are similar to those for gremlins.
1. Don't feed us after midnight.
2. Don't expose us to bright light... especially sunlight.
3. Don't get us wet. (Okay... so this doesn't apply, but I probably wouldn't like it if you dumped water on me.)
Oh... and for insomniacs, the most serious... the one thing you must never do... is take a nap.
Anyway, so I'm hoping to ironman it through the day. Monday is my official laundry day. (My life is so glamorous, nicht wahr?) Yes. Indeed. So, that should be fun. I also have cleaning, a report for B's former teacher to write, and I should get in a run now that I'm healthy again.
I love Mondays.
T did try to convince me this morning that by wearing jogging pants instead of the pants I'd picked out for him, he'd achieved super-human speed. This translated into him making short sprints all over the house rather than getting ready for school. I admired his enthusiasm.
In a random aside, my parents are home today after two years in France. Woo woo! One of my sisters goes in for an amniocentisis... and between her and my Sister-in-law... we may be crawling in new babies in my family this week.
... which are also sort of like gremlins.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I think I walked into this with a fairly simplistic idea of how things went. I guess I just assumed that it would be a straight out rejection or acceptance. When getting any feedback on a slushpile manuscript as quickly as I did should have tipped me off to the fact that it wasn't a flat-out rejection. Anyway... I don't think I'm off on my translation now.
I think I definitely need an agent, though, to run translations for me. Hopefully, I'll have more luck this time around. I'm not doing an repeat submissions even though this is a completely different manuscript. I don't know what the protocol is on things like that. Besides, I have a crib sheet on their rejections from last time. I'm a little surprised at how cold some of their form letters are. They weren't all bad. In fact, some of the rejections... even the form letters were nice, so those got high-lighted for possibilities. It was about fifty-fifty as to which ones I felt torched the bridge behind them. Maybe that was their intention, though. I know agents typically have hundreds of queries a week and they probably don't want to deal with the same writers again and again. That was useful to know though, because I could tell which ones I never would have felt comfortable working with.
For those that are curious, the nicest rejection I received was from Laurie McLean at Larsen-Pomada Literary Agents . I'm totally not being sarcastic either. Honest truth. It was the kindest and most motivating rejection I've received. In fact, if I was to re-query anyone... there you go... right there. Nice people.
I've already mentioned the one that bothered me the most, but I won't say who sent that. The body of the rejection was "Pass and God bless." I actually winced when I read that. It was even an email. Please... just send me a form letter instead of something like that. I know we're not supposed to take rejection personally because I doubt they're rejecting our manuscript with any personal feeling attached, but that one.... That one won the "OUCH... cold" award. I had other awards that I attached. There was the "bland award for extreme blandness." I awarded the "vague" award. Oh... and then the "best use of a Lewis Carroll quote in their signature" award. Someone actually used the word "rejection letter" in their rejection letter. They got the award for "boldness." Anyway... now I run across these agents blogs, and I find myself thinking "Weird... I gave you the bland award."
So, I ran into someone at church who was proofreading "Re: Straint" for me. She'd finished the book and tried to hand it back to me, but it was barely in my hand before someone snatched it out. My friend, Danielle, who is currently hoarding the completed Honor series, asked, "Is this another book?" in accusation before shaking her head as if I was trying to pull a fast one on her. Then, she tucked it in her purse. The husband was there for that and found it amusing. My fourteen year old fan was excited to hear that she'd be getting her hands on my latest YA adult book. Her mother refers to her as my first rabid fan. My order should come from Lulu tomorrow along with two books from the Sarah series that need to go through the hard-copy edit process. Lulu was a find. I'm so glad I read somewhere that you should do a small private print run on Lulu to find typos. It's so much easier to find stuff when it's printed out.
Anyway, I was working on Honor Six last night and I should get back at it while I'm in the mode. Between Alex, the fourteen year old, and Danielle, I'm not sure who is more rabid, and I just have to keep throwing books at them.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Dear Ms. Sparrow,
I passed your ms along to our second reader, and she wrote the following:
This is interesting, but not really there yet. The author's sense of pacing needs work. Some stuff probably needs to be brought out sooner to make better sense to the reader. Better character development would help too. I think she has talent, but isn't publishable yet.
I'll add, please consider us in the future, and best possible luck with your writing.
So, I've tackled all of that stuff... even though it was really a side effect of a thorough rewrite. I'd assumed they were telling me "thanks, but no thanks" in a nice way. When I read "please consider us in the future," I was reading "hey... you're not half-bad and maybe if you have different manuscripts in the future you'd like to send our way... we won't hate you." Heidi says they were saying "this is what needs to be fixed... fix it and resubmit." The husband said that they were most likely assuming that I was, like many other writers, focused entirely on just this single manuscript. He thinks they meant that they didn't want to focus on editing this manuscript, but it has potential, and they would reconsider after I'd attended to these flaws.
What is your translation on this?
(I feel all anal and nitpicky for even bringing this up. It reminds me of the after-date breakdowns among females when I was still single. "So... he said goodbye in like this really final way, but maybe he meant for me to call him every twenty minutes... what do you think?" )
After I've smoothed through any rough edges on this last re-write... should I resubmit or move on to other places?
As an aside, I have never used the term "pre-published" nor do I intend to... and yet....
The husband and I got into a "discussion" about the term "professional" in relation to writing a few weeks ago. I took the side of "anyone who puts a large percentage of their time into writing and has no other established career is a professional writer." The husband said that one must be paid before one can be called a "professional writer." I believe he also said they must make enough money to support themselves at it. I asked him, then, if Van Gogh was considered a "hobbyist artist" since he never achieved this? Perhaps... even an amateur? I pointed out that the word "profession" had as its root word "profess" so a "profession" would seem to imply "a calling, pursuit that one professes as one's primary endeavor." The husband disagreed and may have rolled his eyes. This "discussion" was somewhat resolved by a visit to the dictionary where one of the choices aligned close enough to my comments that the matter was dropped quickly by the husband. He probably thought I won on a technicality rather than accepting my side, though.
Still... I could prove it, but that doesn't mean I feel like I can call myself a writer... let alone a professional writer. The blank on my kid's school forms still gets "mother" and nothing more. There is this implication that you must have something to show for your writing in order to call yourself a writer. In fact, I'd say that you must be successful in order to claim the title... or that's the general perception anyway.
I think any of those falling in the "arts" have a hard time finding their defined roll. I think most others handle it by throwing the word "struggling" in front of. "Struggling" artist, "Struggling actor", "Struggling" musician... and so on. I think most people then redefine that title as "oh... so you're obsessed, but poor?"
This doesn't even address the fact that calling myself a writer seems pretentious... even in the eyes of others. I could spend twenty hours a day at it, but the question still is: Have you published anything?
So, let's return to the discussion of that filthy word... lucre:
If I channeled eight hours a day into a job at minimum wage (federally $7.25), then I could most likely assume at the end of a year to have made $15,000 before taxes. (Does anyone else find that disturbing?) I spend about that much time writing and rewriting. Let's assume... through a beautiful alignment of stars... I'm published and receive a nice advance of $10,000. It takes a year for my book to hit the shelves and for me to earn back that advance... and maybe receive the green light for another book. No one can survive on $10,000 for a year as their sole income... in fact... no one can survive on $15,000, but that's beside the point. Writer's Market lists the range of pay expected for a Fiction Novelist is $40,000 to $525 with $14, 203 being the average.
Am I a writer yet? No?
What am I?
Who am I?
Besides... does money even define our roles in life if we hate those roles?
If I get a job in order to deal with our debt, I can't see it being anything that I attach to my name. "Hi. My name is Wendy. I'm a fry cook."
Do you see what I'm saying?
WHEN AM I A WRITER? I shouldn't have to justify it if I'm eating, breathing, and sleeping the "profession." Yet....
I'm trying to think of any other "role" that requires this much justification for our existance. I know for a fact that when someone else tells me what they do... I don't ask follow-up questions in order to quantify their success. "Oh... you're a librarian? How much do you make? Are you part-time or full-time? Oh... you're a cook? Are you any good? What kind of class of food do you make? Oh... you work in computers? Yeah, but are you sub-contracting or do you get actual benefits?" Wait, though... "Oh, you're a writer? Have you published anything? Have I heard of anything you've written? No? Oh look... there is a librarian. I'm going to go talk to someone who actually has a fulfilling and "real" career in the literary world. Before I go, let me stamp "loser" on your forehead."
October is quickly approaching, and one thing I know for certain... I'm not going to feel like a writer if I attach "fry cook" to the end of my name. No matter what I say out loud when someone asks, "What do you do?" Even as I say "mother" and silently add "fry cook," I'll still be thinking "I once wanted to be a writer."
Friday, September 25, 2009
So, I went to yoga this morning, but it was just Stephanie and I so we wound up talking while stretching out.
I'd no sooner gotten into the car, when it hit me.... We'd touched on a topic that would be perfect for a YA Horror novel. Perfect. Now... what do I do? Why now? I have rewrites to do. I have queries to fix. I have a house to clean. I need to finish Honor #6 or one of my other current projects. I've got kids to take care of. I was going to get in a run this morning. I'm approaching my October deadline. Sigh. I don't have time for a good idea. On the other hand, I like sleeping.
I have so much to do that does not include sitting down to a new novel. Maybe if I write an outline... I can back-burner it.
Besides, is there even a market for YA horror?
Oh for crying out loud... must... not... start... new... novel. The worst part is that I get distracted by newness. If I let myself get started on this book, it'll be all I can think about.
I need to get laundry done today. Life demands attention. Must not start....
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Butterflies and kittens. Butterflies and kittens.
I just finished going through my manuscript for adverbs, but I'll do a reread tonight and tomorrow for passive voice... probably. I picked up a book at the book store that Heidi has been telling me to read for like two years, "Carpe Demon" by Julie Kenner. I also bought an anthology of Paranormal Romance short stories. So, I might get side-tracked by those... just as I was side-tracked from cleaning by editing. I just hate cleaning so much. Why must we clean?
For those that think "Wait... but she has OCD... she should be very clean." No... there are a plethora of kinds of OCD. Mine is severe... but in no way useful. Off of meds, OCD eats me alive, and I can't function because of the hours devoted to obsessions.
I hate cleaning. It was one of the things that inspired me to write. If I have something better to be doing... that I can earn a living at... I can hire someone to clean. Woo! I'm sure the American Dream is different for some, but I'm a simple soul.
I'm tired. B's late night last night means I'm dragging today. I should have started the day with a dose of caffeine. It seems rather unfair on my week break from insomnia... B has a problem sleeping. It's not even my fault. The husband let her watch a Daffy Duck cartoon that was a parody on "Ghostbusters" and it scared her. (Before you assume that she scares easily... she doesn't. She is scared about very specifically odd things. She is scared of zombies... not because they are what they are... but because they eat weird things. She freaks out at the thought of weird things being eaten. Her oral sensory problems are pervasive. ) Anyway, my insomnia cycles based on hormones and in less than a week, it'll be hard core again. If only there were a cure for being female... though I suspect the husband would complain and none of my clothes would fit right.
Scott Smith, here are the rules for those you're allowed to kill... peruse:
1. Any person who doesn't speak the same language as the rest dies.
2. Any person having sex before the age of consent or outside of a monogamous relationship (this excludes James Bond) are fair game.
3. Anyone who loses a family member, spouse, or child.. or goes through a bitter divorce is fair game.
4. In a family film, the dog dies.
5. All mentally disabled people live.
6. All physically disabled people... fair game.
7. Lawyers and politicians... fair game. Doctors... typically not.
8. Evil minions... fair game. Evil mastermind... can escape or die but must "nearly" be killed.
9. Old nosy female neighbors will die.
10. People without names... fair game. (aka Star Trek Ensign rule)
11. The female or male love interest, not a lead, of the main character is fair game.
12. Anyone who swears profusely or gets drunk... fair game.
13. Anyone with a heart condition is fair game.
14. Unfaithful spouses or lovers absolutely should die.
15. Those that exploit the environment die.
16. Kindergarten teachers and nuns always live.
17. Children main characters can only die in a lingering way if at all.
18. The old king/ elderly mentor... always dies. (Later ghostly visits acceptable.)
19. Crooked cops and drug dealers die.
20. Evil Scientists or doctors... die. Evil scientists must be killed via their experiment rebounding on them.
21. Someone who causes the conflict is fair game.
These are the rules, Scott. Without the rules, chaos ensues. You can't just kill people willy nilly. Anarchy. Plus, people put down your book saying, "What the crap was that? I feel disatisfied. The world seems dimmer and duller. It was that book! Arr...." Then, they jot off some hate mail and go burn their book in a garbage can in their driveway.
I'll let it go this once, Scott... because we're tight.
It may seem to some of you that there should be twenty rules, but it's an even number, and I don't like even numbers. Also, twenty-one is the product of two prime odd numbers. So, that's your daily dose of OCD. Feel free to let your brain explode.
I should really go get something accomplished. Butterflies and kittens. Butterflies and kittens.
Hoard of gold found
As the rest of the world is celebrating Punctuation Day, I found my mind drawn to more earthly matters.
Treasure fascinates me. I love treasure hunting books. I've just recently ordered a subscription to Lost Treasure. I don't know if it was the early exposure to Indiana Jones or just some innate desire, but it hasn't faded. I really want to blow off my rewriting and go pick up some books on lost treasure at the library after just seeing that article. I don't know what it is.... I'm glad I wasn't alive during the gold rush... I would have been one of those consumed with the idea... the snarling badger prospectors who shot people that came near their find.
Well, I have a lunch with a friend this afternoon. I'm so excited. An actual meal... with actual adult companionship. Then, I need to do more cleaning.
I didn't make it to the end of The Ruins but it's taking a twist that I totally didn't see coming. Shudder. There is a reason it's classified as a horror. I've also just read spoilers... accidentally... and grr at the ending. Why Scott... why? Anyway, I'll finish it anyway, but I'm a little disappointed Scott Smith didn't follow the rules. There are rules for a reason... after all.
Anyway, I should get in some re-writing time before my lunch "date." Prepare to meet thy maker, Adverbs and Passive Voice! Wait... that's me. That doesn't make any sense.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
As far as writing goes... I'm over half-way through Honor Among Thieves in rewriting, and it's going well. I'm cutting out all the passive voice crap that snuck in. My goal is to finish it by Saturday and rewrite my query letter. Then, I'll send it off to two publishers and five agents. October is fast approaching. I got a letter from T's teacher listing me as a volunteer on Fridays in October, and the husband mentioned that it might interfere with my shift at McDonalds. He was smiling when he said it, so he didn't get his teeth kicked in.
I wish money grew on trees. Something B said last night... made me really wish we could afford to throw money at therapy still. We always wanted to try a type of therapy called RDI therapy. I just couldn't ever find the money. Plus, we were hemoraging money for therapy already. It makes me feel like a failure that I couldn't budget enough money for that... or for us to magically stay out of debt.
There is a short story that comes to mind frequently when I think of money problems. It's called "The Rocking Horse Winner" by D.H. Lawrence.
The Rocking Horse Winner
I'll snatch one bit from it:
And so the house came to be haunted by the unspoken phrase: There must be more money! There must be more money! The children could hear it all the time though nobody said it aloud. They heard it at Christmas, when the expensive and splendid toys filled the nursery. Behind the shining modern rocking-horse, behind the smart doll's house, a voice would start whispering: "There must be more money! There must be more money!" And the children would stop playing, to listen for a moment. They would look into each other's eyes, to see if they had all heard. And each one saw in the eyes of the other two that they too had heard. "There must be more money! There must be more money!"
The story ends... sad, but I try not to hold that against it. Anyway... with two kids in need of therapy... sometimes I feel like our house is haunted like that. The husband makes a really great salary, but debt has this way of over-coming all. I've decided that substituting words into a Jeff Goldblum quote is fun. From Jurassic Park (sort of- bolded are mine):
"If there is one thing the history of evolution has taught us it's that debt will not be contained. Debt breaks free, expands to new territory, and crashes through barriers, painfully, maybe even dangerously."
Well, that's my day... Jeff Goldblum and D.H. Lawrence. Consider yourselves culturified.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Back to self-disgust and adverb slaughter.
Thank you for tearing a hole through those other authors. Thanks to your slasher review... I've looked up the issue with adverbs, and I can see now that my writing has strayed to "telling" instead of "showing." I'm currently working on a rewrite of Honor which now has an awesome prologue, and I'm hoping to carve out the detrius so it drops below 100,000 words again. It's made me take a good hard look at my writing so that I can avoid ever having you knee-cap me. I've been cutting out those stubborn adverbs at a feverish rate... and I think the book will be much better because of it. Also, I'm changing my current motto to WWSGD.
P.S. I hope we never meet in a dark alley... regardless.
Monday, September 21, 2009
9. Sometimes, I wash lego creations in T's pockets just to see if they'll stay in once piece by the time they get through the dryer. (This also falls under the category of 'My life is ordinary.') They do, by the way. It's one of life's little ironies that the legos that can't stay together long enough for your child to show you... make it through a spin cycle. (It's just as well T doesn't carry home snakes and toads in his pockets because I might try the same thing with them. I know I wouldn't remove them from his pocket, so it seems like it would correlate.)
8. I regularly let B eat popsicles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I'm pretty sure there is a spot on the food pyramid for artificial colors and flavors and wow... bravo... we are nailing that one.
7. I tell my kids, "Do what you want... as long as you're quiet...." (Ted Bundy's mother probably said this too.)
6. I hate homework... seriously... they're in school for the better part of the day and they come home to do more work. I suspect this is to enhance parental involvement which I might also be against. (I'm kidding... a little.)
5. I make idle threats several times a day, and I'm worn down by whining. (I told T yesterday if he ever did XYZ again then I'd never let him watch TV again in his lifetime. The previous time I'd said something to this effect, he'd just curiously asked, "What about after you're dead? Can I do it then?" To which I replied, "Sure." )
4. I panic when blood is involved and literally run around in circles waving my hands like a muppet. I look a little like Grover does right here only less coordinated.
3. Sometimes.... I'm secretly rooting for T's evil schemes because they're so creative.
2. I consider Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to be an educational program. (It's an education in nineties pop culture and it's about reptiles. See! Educational. Pink Panther is also educational.)
1. The bus driver just yelled at T, and I totally plan on climbing onto the bus and coughing on her tomorrow despite it sounding like it may have been warranted. BAWAHAHA!
Yeah. I can never write a parenting book.
I did come to a realization in the middle of a coughing fit. I really have only sent the Honor book to DAW. I'm thinking that I should really get a solid number of rejections under my belt before I get nuts about it.
I've been going through the process of editing "Quality of Justice," and I've been thinking of how much I like Devi's character. I almost wish it wasn't part of a series... or that the three Vegas books were their own series.
My lungs are so crappy today. That means that cleaning will be difficult and running is out of the question. Dang it! It also means that I might be adding more mild expletives to my writing today. Actually, though... Sue Grafton didn't have a problem with profanity... it was just all those stupid adverbs. (I hate that now I'm looking at every adverb I have ever written and trying to justify it to myself.)
"Adverbs," she said irritably. "Swim despicably through the slowly moving river of grammar as a leaf tumbling clumsily, stopping frequently, and clogging proficiently otherwise swiftly flowing sentences."
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Growl, Snarl, Bite
As you can now see... I can't even take criticism of other people. I'm such a pansy. It's a good thing I have no immediate plans to be wildly famous. I think it's perhaps time to work on my psuedonym just in case I ever get published.
I've tossed around the idea of going by Beth Somath on my Sci-fi Dystopian. (I could try to explain where the name comes from but your head would explode into a million tiny pieces.)
I've also written under the name Wendy Elayne in the past.
Still... maybe I should incorporate a compliment into the last name so that even as people are tearing me down... I'll feel good.
It's too bad that using "the" as a middle name isn't in vogue anymore.
Wendy the Awesome has a nice ring to it.
So, they have reviews on this year's winners up now. Over five thousand people entered. OVER FIVE THOUSAND. This was cut down to one thousand based on "pitches." Then it was cut again down to five hundred based on the first few chapters. Finally, it was down to one hundred before people started reading manuscripts... I think.
Anyway, so they have the three finalists up there and they have well-known judges (Sue Grafton and three others) posting their reviews. While all four loved the winner, the two others were harshly criticized. Sue Grafton doesn't mince words. Seriously... ouch. I found myself hoping I never wandered into a dark alley with her. She is a total knee-capper. This was her review on Brandi Lynn Ryder's "In Malice, Quite Close" :
"Most problematic was the writer’s dependence on stock moves. Characters, both male and female, sighed at least thirty-five times, often twice on a page. Female characters bit their lips on twenty-four separate occasions (unless I missed an errant bite somewhere). In one scene, a character bit her lip, and two lines down, she bit it “resolutely.” How’s that for determination? The writer, apparently distrustful of the reader’s intelligence or imagination, micromanages every action and every line of dialogue, which is not only tiresome, but weakens the effect.
I was stumped by certain lines: 'She plundered on'; 'His words cloyed to her'; 'His stomach was a washing machine cycle on high.'
I appreciate what Ms. Ryder was aiming for but she misses the mark. If she would jettison the overwrought prose and master the fundamentals of construction, she might deliver a novel that would serve her talent better than this one. I know she has it in her, but this ain't it."
Holy cow! It almost makes winning seem like less of a win when the first thing they publish by way of reviews is a bunch of well-known people saying how much your book sucks. One of the other books was equally panned. Of Ian Gibson's "Stuff of Legends," Sue Grafton said:
"Not helping was the fact that the prose was less than riveting. I'm sorry to be such a bean counter, but I tallied thirty sighs, seventeen lines "growled" or "grunted,”twenty-two lines “muttered," and thirty-one speeches employing "er" and "um." This is lazy writing, folks. By the time I found myself listing the eighty-two-plus adverbs thrown in, I realized that when it came to the comic-fantasy choo-choo, my car had been uncoupled and left behind on the track."
Whoa! Seriously... "K is for Killing the hopes and dreams of writers." I never would have guessed Sue Grafton could be... well... mean. Her reviews read like a kicking puppy campaign. It's a little horrifying. Her picture looks so cheery too.
Link to Sue Grafton's knee-capping.
Anyway, I also was looking up information on another contest that ends in mid-October for short stories that I might enter. Contests are fun. I'd forgotten how fun it is to be in a contest. It's significantly less fun if you win and then they let the wolves loose, though... in my opinion. Seriously, out of over five thousand entries... these were the winners and they got cujo-ed in the reviews.
I also found myself baffled that she was counting adverbs.... Are adverbs that bad?
I need to go eat some chocolate on behalf of those people and think about butterflies and ponies for a bit.
Anyway... so this is leaving me a little torn.
The book may be difficult to market to publishers because:
It's the first in a series... and while it ends... it leaves a definite opening for a future book.
It's written in the first person. (Both of the series are written this way. I think this is the "character development" issue mentioned.)
The market is saturated with "vampire" books... and while this is very atypical vampire book... it's still a vampire book.
Here are my possibilities:
A. Fix typos, possibly add a prologue, and find an agent to address any other problems.
B. Fix typos, possibly add a prologue, and send it to other publishers.
C. Do a larger rewrite before doing A or B.
D. Overhaul and write in third person.
E. Overhaul and make it into a standalone book.
F. Set aside and work on other projects that have possibly more marketability in order to get "in the door."
G. Consider self-publishing.... and I don't want to.
I'm leery of the idea of doing a frankenstein surgery on Honor among Thieves because I've had so many people tell me it's good just as it is. Plus, I just don't want to. I don't think there is anything "wrong" with it. DAW may not have been the right publisher to send it to, though. Honor Among Thieves is a more casual, humorous read than many of the other books they've published.
I'll be honest that I take criticism very poorly in regards to this book because I'm not sure that I've found the right path to take it... and not that there is necessarily anything wrong with the book... minor things aside. So, when someone criticizes it... it's always because they think they're being helpful. They wouldn't normally be critical of it... at least that's what my experience has seemed to be in regards to the other copies circulating. Those that are just reading it because they're curious... become rabid fans of Honor's. It's a good book.... I know it is. Just... where do I go now?
Ugh. What to do?
This is mind-numbing. I need to figure out a plan, but I just don't know where to go from here. October is fast approaching and this "get a real job" deadline is looming.
Maybe I'll think this over today while I'm working on writing book six... or editing "Quality of Justice."
Saturday, September 19, 2009
I felt under the weather when I woke up early, but it was the day of the contest, so I quickly opened up my email. The topic was difficult. Originally, I'd planned on thinking about it, but I decided just to dive in and work on it. It turned out well. I don't know whether it will win, but I did my best, and I already sent it in. They'll send out notifications for the winners before Halloween.
By the way, today is official "Talk Like a Pirate Day" just in case you were wondering.
Friday, September 18, 2009
I'm thinking about where to go with Honor now. I noticed some more typos in my last run through it, and Heidi is suggesting a Prologue. So, that is on my mind. Overall, I'm not as disappointed about DAW's rejection as I might have thought I'd be. DAW is a ten on awesomeness, and I'm sure they have enough of their own authors with books to print that very little in the way of breakthrough novels makes the cut. There is another agent that I'm considering sending this book to.
I have a printed copy of Re: straint that I need to go through. Stephanie did a once through on it already, so I'm adding my green pen to her pencil. After I've gone through it, I can think about where to go with that.
I also should finish up some of those other projects. I know where I'm going on Honor six... and so it should go fast when I start plugging away at it. I also should work on the Sci-fi dystopian.
I really, really shouldn't start a new book. Really... really.... I can feel this story wiggling its way into my gray matter, though. GRAY! Crap... I was going to do a search and find on that last book to see if I switched between grey/gray. It's a stupid little thing, but I live my life in the details. I also generally do a toward/towards check also. Dang it.
Ehh... I doubt any of my proofreaders will need to gouge their eyes out over a grey/gray issue.
Well, this is a boring rambling post.
Yay! Tomorrow is contest day! I'm excited. I work well under pressure. Woo woo. Tonight is going to be like Christmas eve for me. I'll hardly be able to sleep for excitement. There won't be sugarplum fairies dancing in my head, though. All this cold medicine has made me start having those dreams where you suddenly realize you're naked in a public place. Two nights ago, it was in a restaurant. Then last night, it was a Target. I must be getting old and married because after a bit at the restaurant, I just tried to play it off like it was no big deal. "Yeah... I'm naked. Whatever...." I leaned back and cross my legs while kicking a foot. "So what... it's unhygenic but I'm not wasting soap." The people around me actually bought it too. Suckers!
Okay... I'm going to go read a book.
So, I mentioned that I'm doing this fiction writing contest this morning, but I should have posted a link just in case my brothers were interested.
I saw the contest in my Writer's Market, and I was intrigued. Anyway... it's tomorrow. Hopefully I won't be too miserable to force my brain to work... a little.
I finished "writing" the super secret project last night and I'm in the process of rewriting it. I'm still hoping to make the LULU deadline so I can get two or three copies printed out. BAWAHAHA! It's much shorter than my other books but it felt right to be shorter... I think.
I should get to that... and eat breakfast... and decide if I'm going to yoga.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Dear Ms. Sparrow,
I passed your ms along to our second reader, and she wrote the following:
This is interesting, but not really there yet. The author's sense of pacing needs work. Some stuff probably needs to be brought out sooner to make better sense to the reader. Better character development would help too. I think she has talent, but isn't publishable yet.
I'll add, please consider us in the future, and best possible luck with your writing.
On a positive note, I made it through to a second reader. I didn't get rejected right at the first reader. That has to be good, right? Anyway, I have the feeling that if I wasn't feeling so crappy, I'd feel more crappy about this. The squishy med-head is actually helping. It'll give me the chance to revise and rework and maybe go back to looking for an agent.
I'm going to eat some ramen and get back to work on this other thing.
This cold is knocking me flat, so... I'll admit... I'm not at my A game, but getting two kids ready for school when they're doing everything to deviate your course... it ain't pretty... really... really.
7 a.m.- Wendy wakes up from cold medicine induced fog... sees No. 1 daughter sleeping beside me because she can't possibly sleep in bed all night. Groans... groans again... wakes up daughter and sends B upstairs to wake up No. 1 son.
7:05- Wendy sends children back upstairs to get dressed when they tromp back downstairs having accomplished nothing.
7:10- Wendy sets timer for the absolute last moment we can leave and tells kids to eat breakfast. They stare blankly. "Breakfast... what is breakfast, Mother? We have never heard of such a thing and cannot possibly know what we might want. So, we will stare." T has apple juice. (Whatever... he has lunch practically when he gets to school, so no big deal.) B sits down to eat coffee cake but is distracted by the air passing around her and keeps forgetting to eat.
7:25- B is nearly halfway through her 'breakfast of champions' but keeps wandering off vaguely.
(Wendy begins rambling admonishment to B to 'eat her food', 'brush her hair', and 'make her lunch.' It's always answered by 'Right... I forgot.' By the time she reaches the bus stop, B will have been reminded several dozen times on each of these thing.)
7:30- Admonish No. 1 son to find socks. No socks to be found. Wendy sits down to find socks. B wanders around.
7:40- After being told to make her own lunch, B drops a plate. Plastic plate with pieces of bread on it snaps in half. Crying ensues. Lots and lots of crying. Apparently... this is her very favoritist plate, and she can't possibly make a sandwich after such drama. Plate and bread must be thrown away... causing enormous sob-fest. Lunch box which went MIA yesterday is found. There was much rejoicing.
7:45-Find No. 1 son and No. 1 daughter socks. Timer goes off.
7:50-Wendy goes to brush B's hair... only to find a huge gob of honey from the sandwich she just made in it. HUGE GOB. We run to sink to rinse out. Wendy finishes gathering together all of B's stuff (including putting everything in the lunch box that she'd forgotten) and shoves it in her backpack. T begins putting on shoes... this takes five minutes (though they are velcro) because there must be precise shoe tongue placement. Precise. If the tongue is in the wrong place, the shoe must be removed and reapplied to foot. Inappropriate shoe application would, of course, result in anarchy, chaos, and the break-down of society as we know it.
8:00- No. 1 son has disappeared and will not answer to name. B and I assume he is outside and go running out the door. We stop at car and start calling his name. T comes strolling out without a care in the world explaining that he was upstairs playing. I ask him where his backpack is. He has no idea, but tells me to hurry and get it.
8:05- We get in the car, and I discover B left the hatch open all night when she was getting something out. Thankfully, the car starts. We get to the bus on time and there was much rejoicing. The kids get out of the car, and there was even greater rejoicing.
I think I'm going back to bed.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Like a drain swilling down the last of the soapy water....
Like a moth trapped in a flame....
Like the mud dragging the boot off your foot....
Like the roll absorbing the last of the Thanksgiving gravy....
Like a disposable diaper accidentally washed....
I'm stuck in my book. I just got a wonderful email from LULU promising me 15% off my order if I place it by Friday, and I thought "It's only 10K words left. I can finish it. I can print it out and get it here to proofread." No. I'm stuck. I've written myself into a corner and my characters are there saying, "Uhh... yeah... what now?" I wrote that my hero had come up with a brilliant plan, and normally... that's around the time he does, and I just keep writing. He is really letting me down here.
I'm fairly sure it has nothing to do with the cold medicine.
"THOMAS! Come up with your brilliant plan already! I just said you did."
Wait. It's on the tip of my brain.... I can feel it. OF COURSE! It's brilliant. BAWAHAHA!
Okay... writer's block is over. Please return to your regularly scheduled lives.
Oh... and no reject from DAW today. Woo!
So, I've been reading other blogs and sites and I feel like a failure as a writer and a reader because I like consumer-friendly, pulp, lower brain processing fiction. I'm not talking Danielle Steel, but it seems like it's "cool" among writers and publishers to knock anything that gains a following among the common man.
I'll admit... I didn't like the last book in the Twilight series. In fact, I hated it. There was something there, though, in her series that tapped into a need, and I still find myself thinking the occassional WWSMD (What would Stephanie Meyer do?) when it comes to YA fiction. It was worth reading it just to see her deal with the line between adult and teenage audiences. (In my opinion, it's a tricky line.) The only book in the series that didn't meet my quota for "entertaining" was that last book. Plus, I hear sour grapes in the anger directed at Stephanie Meyer. Yes, she made a fortune off books that may not have been toe-to-toe with the giants of literature, but does that matter?
(Hypocritical aside here... I don't like my vampire books being compared with Stephanie Meyers, but that's just because I'm an idiot. If you write a book now about vampires, it'll be compared to Stephanie Meyers. Ten years ago, it was Interview with a Vampire. A century ago, it was Dracula. Like it or not... there will be comparisons. There will always be comparisons among books and writing styles. I just need to put my big girl panties on and deal with it.)
I saw a few people slamming Dan Brown's books too in my cyber travels. I'll admit that I never read or watched Davinci Code. I did read Angels and Demons, though, and I liked it. I really liked it. I thought it was well written but I wasn't reading it as a writer... and perhaps that's the difference.
On the other hand, "No 1 Ladies Detective Agency" bored me to tears. "Burning Bright" had the same effect. "She's come undone" sat unread on my bookshelves for a year before I finally gave up rather than gouge my eyes out trying to get into it. "Weight of Water" was one of the few book club reads that I just skim-read rather than put myself through the torture of it. In fact, I even read the books about torture in concentration camps with more gusto than that book.
I'm not a literary snob. I will never be a literary snob. I like to be entertained. I like to laugh. I like happy endings. I like easy answers sometimes. I'm not quite literary trailer trash, and I do enjoy some books that fall into the "literary" category. Plus, I don't appreciate happy endings that irritate my gag reflex, but still... some moderate hope held out at the end of the book is a requirement.
Anyway... I just wanted to get that off my chest. If I'm published, it will not be because I've stood on the shoulders of literary giants. (I'm more likely to stand on the shoulders literally of giants.) Maybe there is something wrong with me that I don't expect to leave my audience thinking for hours afterwards. I don't want to write the next great novel. I just want to entertain my audience. If they have to think about things while reading my book... well... they're most likely going to whine like a certain member of my family about nitpicky little things.
That's basically it. Just wanted to get that out there before I go toss back some sort of cold medicine.
Oh... and I should mention that on Saturday I'm participating in a 24 hour fiction writing contest. At 11 am PST, I get the topic information and number of words. I have 24 hours to hand in my story. It should be a lot of fun.
On hell-hounds: I did speak to someone at Wal-mart when I was buying dog food for Nanaimo last Saturday.
(As an aside, there was a woman there who went into a sneezing fit that lasted nearly five minutes. My OCD makes me fairly uncomfortable around sick people... sneezing people make me nearly insane. I could actually feel my skin crawling each time she sneezed. I'm sure everyone around her was feeling completely sorry for her. I was hoping she'd cover her mouth and hold down until her head exploded. So, now I have the mother of all colds... coincidence? HAH! I'm adding "sneezing person" to my list of people it's okay to kill in a horror novel.)
So, Walmart... I was at the cashier and talking about the woes of finding dog food for a large breed dog. I told her Nanaimo, my dog, is a husky/lab and weighs in at around 70 lbs. She trumped me with a great dane. Her healthy great dane weighs 150 lbs. She has to buy specialty dog food. I had no idea that great danes weigh that much. After she said that, I felt like I'd brought a poodle to the party with Nanaimo. Seriously.... It had me reevaluating how much a hell-hound might weigh. (It truly did. This is why writing can be so torturous.)
Blech! Oh... vile... vile.... Why on earth did I get cinnamon-flavored thera-flu? I can only assume that I was drunk when considering its purchase. I hate cinnamon-flavored anything... unless it's frosted or covered in whipped cream. Cinnamon flavored medicine? What fresh hell is this? Blech! Nasty! I'm not drinking the dregs even it cures cancer and paints rainbows.
I might just miss Yoga though if I don't get some meds tied on and it's the first class in a long time. *cough Stephanie cough* My yoga instructor went to Hawaii and came back for a week only to head off to Disneyland for a week. *cough Stephanie cough* Then, she keeps whining about being busy with her child starting Kindergarten. They kill off the whiny ones, Stephanie. Remember that.
I can't believe the nyquil woke me up like this. I don't like seeing this side of morning. I feel a little like a vampire myself. What the hell is that smell? Oh... it's the smell of five a.m. I always knew it would smell this bad.
Sigh... I can feel the medicine-induced zombie-hood coming on. Moan. Brains.... Brains.... Moan.... Must... find... brains....
Well, maybe not the worst. Slugs are fairly vile. Having older brothers can be such a trial.... They never let up. When you're young... they tie you up when they're supposed to be baby-sitting you. *Cough Adam Cough* Then, they tie you up and hang your arms from a doorknob. *Cough Adam Cough* Then, they pick you up and threaten to throw you over the banister on the second floor. *Cough Adam Cough* Then, they get older and think they know everything from the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow to the bolting speed of a slobbering hell-hound.
Observe (from Adam) :
I'm going to see if I can get you wound up further...he he he.
You said the hellhound looks like a doberman that you fed a cow to everyday.
You said it looked like a doberman would to a mouse.
You said it was Honor's height.
Let's say that the hellhound is five feet tall. Not incredibly large. Certainly couldn't eat a cow. Sure it could gnaw on the cow but it wouldn't eat a whole cow. Could probably kill one though.
A regular doberman is 27 inches tall and about a hundred pounds.
Assuming the same build, a five foot tall doberman would weigh around 1100 pounds. It actually would need to be much thicker in order to hold up its greater weight so the same proportions wouldn't hold. Probably closer to 1500 pounds or more.
An eight foot doberman would weigh around 4500 pounds. Again, proportions would probably need to change so it might be 4 or 5 tons.
A five foot doberman would have a stride length of more than twice that of a regular doberman. A regular doberman can probably run 30-35 mph if pressed. If a five foot tall doberman could move its legs as fast as its smaller version it would be running a blistering 65-75 mph. Most likely its greater mass would slow it significantly but there is a reason why Usain Bolt is the fastest man. He has got a wicked long stride. I can't see a 2 foot doberman outracing a 5 foot tall doberman unless the five foot tall doberman was not meant for speed. Something tells me that hellhounds are supposed to be pretty fast to keep their prey from escaping.
Either that or they need to be able to whisk in and out of hell to catch their victims no matter where they might run to or hide.
I'm sure you've done many of these calculations. I just wanted to keep you awake tonight. he he he.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Okay... I give up... I'll just say it.
Do you see what you've driven me to, Adam?
So, you're a super-human vampire and you're being chased by a hell-hound along the skagit valley river in Washington and you're carrying someone weighing roughly 100 lbs. You're faced with the dilema that you fully intend to double-back at dawn and confront the dog's owners so you don't want to be in New York after a nice six hour sprint, because they're following in a jeep and you need them to keep up without getting ripped to shreds yourself by the dog who can match your speed. Oh... and if you get too far away from the dog's owners, they'll just kill your "passenger" from a distance and not worry about her blood. They can kill her... because....
Never mind. Forget it.
I told you there were too many variables, Adam. Apparently, Adam thinks they should be going a more impressive speed. How fast, Adam? What would it take to impress you? 50 mph? 70 mph? After six hours you'd be on the other side of WA State for crying out loud. You'd have lost the jeeps right at the beginning. There are realistic constraints to the situation even if the situation itself is ludicrous. Pull up Google earth and have at it. Start at the opening to the Skagit River Valley and trace your way along on paths that you'd be able to allow a jeep to follow on. Then, factor in wind velocity, uneven terrain, you're carrying someone, you're not ALWAYS on rock (and I don't think the Lahars extend that far), and you've got a big nasty slobbering hell-hound chasing you. Then, you just give me the numbers to punch in and boom... done. Did you think I didn't do a bunch of strange and neurotic calculations? Oh I did.... You may have caught me on Africa vs. the Gibeon Meteorite, but there are no easy answers in a hell-hound chase. I'm going to have that put on a t-shirt for you for Christmas.
You know what happens to the whiny ones, Adam. They kill the whiny ones. I just want that noted.
I'm going for a run and I'll be getting nowhere near a speed that might impress my brother. Grumble. Grumble. I'm coming down with a nasty cold, so you can expect my mood to be unimproved tomorrow. You've all been warned.
Oh... hey... the husband found a book for me to read. I'm thinking of doing a book club read on it:
I love me some zombies. (We're not unreasonable... no one's going to eat your eyes.)
The raven that is hovering in the corner... however... is a coincidence and probably not ominous at all.
His critique is related to the second Honor book, but I think it can even be appreciated without having read the book:
I finished your second book quite a while ago. Your recent email prompted me to send you feedback.
I liked your second book as well, but I thought the plot lost track of what was trying to be accomplished.
You had two main points to your plot:
1) What is Honor?
2) What the heck is going on in the city? A gruesome murder. Abnormally big bad guys.
I think you did a great job with plot point 1.
I feel like you lost track of plot point 2 even though you feel the solving of the crime is important enough to be the climax of the story.
When the crime was solved at the end of the book, I remember thinking, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that gruesome murder at the beginning.” And I read it over a matter of a week, so it wasn’t just the fact that there was a long wait between when I started and finished the book.
You bring out that murder in the beginning, but then you fail to mention it up until the monologue at the end. The fact that you even bring it up at the end means that it was supposed to be important. The abnormally big bad guys put in an appearance or two, but they also don’t seem like they get the publicity they need to be part of the mystery and the climax – kind of like Darth Maul in Episode I.
It seems like they just accidentally solve the real crime while they were out doing their thing trying to figure out what the heck Honor is and what she has to do with Vampire society.
It seems like they accidentally figure out that the main vampire is the bad guy behind everything when they are really just out trying to figure out why he went AWOL. “What!?! We thwarted your evil plot to take over the world? Oops. We were just wondering where you were.”
Kind of like Moonraker. The world was almost destroyed by a mad man, and James Bond was just out investigating an auto-theft. If Drax had simply built himself another Moonraker or ran his evil plot with one short, nobody would have been the wiser.
Despite my dire predictions, I actually slept a full six hours last night. (GASP!) Unfortunately, it was a rough night for the little bugs and we had tears and grumbling already this morning and they missed their bus but caught the one at Stephanie's. Their bus driver is a hag anyway, though. I wrote a girl fight scene with her in my mind yesterday. She stopped the bus on the way home last week because she said it smelled and suspected that someone had let off a stink bomb. The bus driver refused to move on until someone confessed. It turned out to be the bus's engine was having issues. Then, she shouted at my kids... right in front of me... to move out of her way so she could get going. (Don't take time to cross safely kids... haul your tails before I run you over.) I'd already told them to hurry, but she SHOUTED it. She and I are going to have words. It won't be pretty. I might run up inside the bus and kick her. I'll use the element of surprise. Seriously, who is going to believe her? Why would an otherwise rational mother of two run up into a bus to kick the driver? Well, they don't know me well enough to know that I'm completely irrational. Justified violence. That was in my last post. If you can justify a little healthy outlet of killing... it's okay. We've learned that from fiction. Plus, it's good for reality to mimic fiction every so often... not all the time of course... that would be over-kill. (Anyone who didn't wince just then is jaded.)
I was watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 last night on google video which... as we all know... is satire at its finest. I was struck by the fact that there were times that sometimes humor is so obvious that satire can be achieved by saying nothing. The movie was "Teenagers from Outer Space." Aliens who... at youngest... were in their mid-twenties had come to earth to raise giant lobster creatures that would grow exponentially due to our lush atmosphere and an availability of a people-rich diet. These herds of giant lobster creatures would then be killed for their meat. The protagonist was a guy that was the exact image of Harry Connick Jr. named Derrick. (It was convenient that the alien hero had an easily pronouncable name, spoke English, and had a well-developed soul despite his "Brave New World" upbringing.) Derrick was a tender young lad who had his beautiful moment at the end when he crashed a fleet of lobster-bearing space ships into the earth where he was. By the way, when I say that they looked like lobsters... they were lobsters. The scenes with the monster involved a lobster put right next to the camera. This was one of those episodes where very little mockery was involved because it just didn't need it; presenting it for ridicule was enough. (I highly recommend the "Deadly Mantis" MST 3000 for comic satire at its beautiful best.)
So, goals for today... I should really clean my house. Sigh.... If only Wendy lived in a pretty how town where anyones cleaned houses for someones (e. e. cummings kind of day... and this is what I'm like when I actually get sleep.)
I should go through my highlighted YA publishers in my Writer's Market and trim down my list of possibles to those that accept simultaneous submissions and full manuscripts. If I'm going to be hanging out in slush piles across the world, I should at least fully tramp out my manuscript. With finishing this YA book, editing, and possibly printing out a draft to go through, I'm still about three weeks from mailing out submissions, but I like to have a plan prepared ahead of time. Besides, it's so much more fun than cleaning. I'm thinking I should pick my top three or four favorite.
Okay, I'm predicting in today's "reading" of "the Ruins"... the Greek dies. I'm about one third of the way into it and he doesn't speak English, they refer to him as the Greek or Pablo (which isn't his real name), and... even more damning... he's foolishly impulsive. DOH! Yeah... the Greek dies today.
"David Duchovny, I want you to love me. To kiss me and to hug me. Debrief and debug me. David Duchovny, I know you could love me. I'm sweet and I'm cuddly. I'm gonna kill Scully."
Poetry, Bree Sharp... poetry. I too know what it's like to want to be debriefed by David Duchovny.
Okay... it's too early for caffeine possibly.
If you've never read the lyrics to that song, I highly recommend it.
Here is today's required reading: http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/x-filesepisodes2/davidduchovny.htm
and e.e. cummings greatest work (in my opinion): http://www.americanpoems.com/poets/eecummings/11880
Monday, September 14, 2009
So, my SASE didn't come from DAW today. Their website states it could be four months or more, so this is well within what is to be expected. This is good... don't get me wrong. I don't want to get a big ugly rejection back. I might still receive something saying it's gone on to the next reader, so an envelope might not be horrific to see in the mailbox. A phone call, email, or envelope full of money would be better.
So... back to the discussion of that filthy word.
The husband and I have talked about me now that T is in first grade. Bills must be paid, and there are no kids at home. I put him off saying that I wanted to try actually earning money as a writer. So, I've got a deadline of October. If I hear nothing before October, writing gets the smaller burner and I work on getting a job. I'm thinking of going back into the optical profession (which would require some serious study, and I'd have to go in as an apprentice due to the state's requirements.) I'm also considering going into childcare or assisting at a preschool. This might help with the blow to my self-esteem that some aspects of being B & T's mother has been. (They're not affectionate, and it's not their fault. Most days... it's okay. Also, parenting a SN child is different and the husband has decided not to roll the dice with another child. Dealing with children that aren't on the spectrum might be nice. B just gagged and threw up on the floor. Sigh.)
The unfortunate side effect to not earning my share as a writer is the fact that I'd still need to write in order to sleep. I'm on the big mighty nasty beast of sleeping pills, but I can't take it for more than a few days in a row. My doctor isn't keen on me taking it at all to be honest, but it was taking Lunesta three or four hours to kick in... and even then... was it really the meds or was I just finally tired? All other sissy sleeping pills met the same effect.
So, I hoped that picking up running again would help with my insomnia. I've been on a long break from running. It hasn't helped yet, but it may take a little longer for exhaustion to kick in. I might also need to ramp up to six miles a day again before it helps. I accidentally fell asleep for around a half an hour earlier today. Napping is taboo among true insomniacs. When I only get a couple hours of sleep tonight, it'll be the wrist slap I deserve for getting horizontal. I know better.
So... this is all to say that I need to get some direction going soon if I'm to avoid the workhouse and not drive my insomnia to a higher plane. I'm planning out what to do about my current YA project. It has potential and it's the first time I've really thought that about something I've written. It seems like a much clearer audience and positive summation potential. Seriously, there is no hope for summing up the book I'm working on called, "Tables Turned." Every time I try to describe it, it sounds like gibberish. Of course, summation sometimes takes a back seat to hilarity anyway... which is why one of my books has the nickname "Cannibals are for kids."
I really ought to reapply myself to getting an agent. It just sounds so miserable. Besides, I want an agent that I can actually get along with and it seems like a lot of agents take life fairly seriously... which is something I avoid at all costs. Besides, I'm not trying to write the next great American novel. I have no aspirations to be the next Upton Sinclair or Edith Wharton... or whoever. I just like to tell stories. I like working on dialogue more than creating a masterpiece of social signifcance. Anyway, I have the feeling that tackling this agent business again might kill my soul. I never tried the Honor books, though, and that might make all the difference. It's hard to decide what should be my priority if I'm going to enforce this October deadline. If I cut out sleep entirely... than I can get it all done and possibly have a psychotic episode. I hate the details of the business. I feel as if getting an agent might require an agent. As if the dirty professional side to writing wasn't enough, I have a few other ideas beating around my brain for books but I'm forcing myself not to concentrate on them until its their turn. Okay... well... I did write down a fairly clever title for a book, but I'm really pushing it to the back of my mind.
How do writers only write a couple books a year? Don't they feel rushed and driven to find out what is going to happen to their characters? It's difficult for me to take a week off from writing and not to pull near all-nighters as I get near the end of a book. Plus, my characters insist, and I'm a puppet to their whims. Some writers must have lives... it's all I can guess, or maybe they like to get a little filthy something-something on the side (which is to say that they have money-earning professions that aren't writing.)
So, I was listening to my "The Ruins" audiobook while walking earlier, and it isn't looking good for one of the chicks. She got them into the mess they're in... unintentionally. Her intentions don't matter, though. She's toast. It's a strange sort of effect on our psyche that occurs while reading in the horror genre, isn't it? The violence needs to shock you and yet not be disatisfying. We're creepy little creatures in that a few qualifications to a character make their deaths seem a lot less upsetting. I don't know if everyone has the immediate justification take place after someone dies in fiction. First there is this gasp of "whoa... Person A is dead." It's followed by "I'm somewhat entertained and fascinated... that makes me a psychopath." Quickly, justification sets in, though, and I think, "Yeah... but this is fiction and besides Person A: got them into this, was whoring around, keeps kicking puppies, is old and lived a good life, is miserable and getting a divorce, doesn't have a full name, can't speak English, is sexist, is stupid, is impulsive...." There are a million different reasons that I can be okay with someone dying. Perhaps that's just me, though, and there will be awkward silence after this post among all my family.
Speaking of which, does anyone have that short story I wrote about the woman who kills her husband over the 2 % milk?
I went through "The Ruins" and predicted who would see the end of the book. Greek guy that doesn't speak English... not a chance. Then there is the guy that keeps getting drunk... and the girl who initially was vaguely immoral and whose character is just too whiny to live. These may not be traditional archetypes, but, in modern writing, you just know the author is setting them up to be wiped out. We've been taught that vice and immorality makes you expendable. (This was also well-established in slasher films by "Scream" where they mentioned the virgin always lives.) The fact that the chick is whiny just helps the audience disassociate themselves with the character and you feel less cheated when she bites the dust. At some point, you'll find yourself thinking, "Well... sure... she died, but she was whiny," and you'll feel a little guilty, but it can't be helped. While I'm in no way near the end of the book, I'm fairly confident that the intelligent male whose primary fault is that he is a leader and a know-it-all will live and hook up with the non-whiny chick who is stuck in a dead end relationship with the guy that keeps getting drunk. There must be a lead male and female... for the film that will follow after all. I think the fact that both of these characters start out in different relationships will be the shift that the author has chosen to stave off predictability.
While this may seem like a disparagement on the use of archetypes... and yes... I'm calling the "Expendable Ensign" an archetype, I'm entirely fascinated by the enduring quality of such writing devices. In fact, I feel like clapping and saying "I like what you've done here" when I recognize a well-plotted character. Besides, there is a reason why the Obi-wan archetype is reincarnated in a million different "Hero's Journey" plots. It works. If at any time you find yourself snapping your fingers and saying, "You know what they could really use here... a wise old man to come and help the hero get back on the path..." then they've failed.
As I can't possibly limit myself to just one genre of reading at one time... or writing either for that matter, I'm also reading a book of folk-tales that are over a thousand years old. Stories don't change... well not the heart of stories anyway. There are these themes that are as old as Adam and Eve... literally. Joseph Campbell researched this thoroughly... and made many Lucas-centric conclusions and I find it compelling to think that authors tell the same stories using different words. It makes me wonder if perhaps we live the same stories to a lesser degree.
Since I have the attention span of a gnat, I started thinking of reality tv and the classic quote from the first season of Survivor by Susan Hawk:
"If I ever pass you along in life again and you were laying there, dying of thirst, I would not give you a drink of water. I would let the vultures take you and do whatever they want with you with no ill regrets. I plead to the jury tonight to think a little bit about the island that we have been on. This island is pretty much full of only two things - snakes and rats. And in the end of Mother Nature, we have Richard the snake, who knowingly went after prey and Kelly who turned into the rat that ran around like the rats do on this island, trying to run from the snake. I feel we owe it to the island's spirits that we have learned to come to know to let it be in the end the way Mother Nature intended it to be - for the snake to eat the rat."
While it made me want to reach through the tv and strangle Susan for some reason, it was also a brilliant quote.
If reality does mimic fiction, where does that leave me? I explored this topic in the book "Stories and Magic." I did a serious amount of research into fairy tales in order to write the book. Hours of reading the Brothers Grimm can warp your mind in ways you wouldn't expect. The classic fairy tales are not the cheery Disney make-overs. The story of Cinderella alone can give you nightmares and induce you to run around screaming like Grover. I don't feel like the hero... or heroine. The more obsessive my writing becomes... the more I think of myself as more of a narrator on life. Can someone who spends twelve hours a day writing really be the hero after all?
Which brings me to my last thought of a rambling inner dialogue.... James Patterson just signed a seventeen book contract for the next three years. While I acknowlege I'm not James Patterson and I haven't been published, it was interesting to note that there are well-known authors that are prolific... and probably severely sleepless and obsessive also. I've seen some sites criticize his output, though, and I wonder if it's sour grapes or if people truly do believe that a storyteller only has seventeen stories within him in a three year period. I see it as a sign that he is driven beyond what is healthy, but the quality of the work remains to be seen in my opinion. It seems a poor repayment for his time to say that anything fast can't be good. It worries me that people might think the same of me... (which would be a flattering comparison regardless) despite the fact that I read and revise so thoroughly that life has ceased to exist outside of my writing.
Storytelling isn't for sissies. Regardless of whether my words hit the keyboard, they will be inside my head. Ten months ago, I gave myself up to this strange calling that, while it brings me joy, is also a torment. My OCD and creativity seem to leave me only the choices of writing or going mad.
Where does that leave me.... I suspect my archetype falls solidly into the role of storyteller and while it's not noble and since I have two kids we know I'm not a virgin, I still have given myself entirely over to the journey just as much as the hero. As for surviving, well, no one gets out alive anyway. I still intend to avoid the major vices and being overally whiny... and there is no way you're getting me down to the alien planet in a red shirt. We all know how that goes.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
When B was diagnosed with Autism, six years ago... our world crashed and shattered. She'd lost all her language and we weren't sure if she was going to find it again. Everything seemed hopeless and awful. We did so much therapy both at home and at therapists that I thought I'd completely lose my mind... and possibly... even more serious... my sense of humor. One day, we were playing with puppets and I was making animal noises to correspond with the puppets. When I held up this ladybug puppet, I realized that I'd hit a speed bump. Ladybugs aren't exactly known for their noises. To my surprise, B growled on behalf of the ladybug. I burst into tears both because she was always so quiet but also because that was our dream... that our daughter would do the impossible and overcome this stereotype we had in our mind of an Autistic child. Shortly after that, I painted this painting.
That was six years ago and both my children have progressed with therapy and hard work to the point where they are mostly indistinguishable from their peers. I believe in the improbable, unlikely, and impossible.
I've used this image on business cards for several years as I did some painting on the side for a while to help deal with stress. It's at the heart of how I am when it comes to creativity. I wake up each morning and think "yeah... but what if...." Unfortunately, I can't go to sleep due to the same thought stuck in my head.
As I start this process of trying to get published, I still feel swamped with depression on some days... often related to lack of sleep or issues with the kids. Sometimes, it seems impossible that I'll be able to actually make money doing something I love. (The world is not particularly kind when it comes to artists receiving their reward while alive.) I know the statistics say that I'll be able to make more money working for minimum wage than as a writer. Still... we didn't make it to the moon by shooting for the clouds. So, if you're going to crash and burn... probably not a good idiom to follow a space exploration comment.... If you're going to gamble, you should always be willing to go all in... or go home.
Still... once you've seen a ladybug roar, nothing seems impossible.