Friday, February 26, 2010

Books that make me mad it's only February

Happy Friday, my lovelies, and congrats to those of us who made it to the end of the week. Not as cool as the end of the world, but we try.

What follows is a brief and by no means complete list of books that make me angry that I can't have everything I want right when I want it. Possibly in order of excitement, but kind of not really:

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: The third and final book in her Hunger Games series. I DEVOURED the first two books in two days, and the only thing I'm mad about at this point is that I have to wait until bloody August to read the final book. This is why I wait until after things are over to get into them (Lost, I'm looking at you).

Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce: The premise of this book sounds awesomely dark, and I love novels that bring in elements of fairy tales and twist them in some way. Also: cover is HOT.

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater: I haven't read Shiver yet, but it's been staring at me seductively from my bookshelf for two weeks now. I already know I'll like it because I love Maggie's blog and she has a cool last name that for some reason I think sounds like it belongs in Star Wars. Which is a good thing. Te prometo. Anyway, after my experiences with The Hunger Games (see above), I might just wait a little longer to read Shiver so it's not a crackhead in withdrawal type thing. Which, believe me, Collins' series is.

Sympathy for the Devil by Various Authors: What do you get when you take the likes of Michael Chabon, Steven King, Neil Gaiman, and Scott Westerfeld and combine them with short stories about Beelzebub himself? I'll tell you what you get: a steaming pile of AWESOMENESS. This book is going to rock my face off and probably scare the you know what out of me, so I think I'll read it in the privacy of my own home to avoid embarrassment.

What books are you looking forward to in 2010?

Monday, February 22, 2010

A post in which I combine my two loves: writing and eating

Welcome back, gentle readers, to another episode of Deep Conversations, starring Yours Truly and the Partner in Crime.

The scene: Dueling computers in the writing room. The sound of furious typing punctuated by intermittent clicking and or cursing.

Me: (hysterical giggling)
P-i-C:  What are you laughing at?
Me: My WIP. (Note: I didn't actually say WIP, because that would have started an entirely different conversation that would have been inappropriate for this blog.)
P-i-C: Wait, why are you laughing? Isn't it a suspense?
Me: (shrug) Yeah.
P-i-C: Then what are you laughing at?
Me: I'm rereading the scene I just wrote and it's cracking me up.
P-i-C: You have humor in a suspense story? Weird.

Which got me thinking, as his asides usually do. Was I breaking the element of suspense to have a humorous conversation between friends? Was it taking away from the overall mood of the story to add layers? It was an interesting conundrum.

And then I thought about it in terms of food, which, let's be honest, I do a lot. It also helped that I had surrounded myself with hummus, Wheat Thins, soup, and cheese while writing. Which I also do a lot, but maybe not in that particular combination. Past the age of five or six years old, it's rare that you find anyone who eats just one thing for an entire meal. And I mean just one thing: just rice, just beans, just chicken, etc. Even those of you saying "wait, I only had a bowl of soup for lunch" aren't considering the fact that said soup probably had a variety of ingredients. Most people will eat a meal with several elements, including side dishes, spices on your meat, sauces, etc. Why? Because eating strictly one type of food is booooooooooring.

I feel the same way about books. If you keep up one emotional thread for an entire book I'm exhausted by the end of chapter one. Life doesn't happen in one vein and neither should a story. Bringing in elements of humor or romance help to break up the suspense and make it more digestible, and they also help to raise the suspense in spurts. Just as a warm, delicious slice of Naan bread helps to cut the spice in a curry dish, so does humor help to make the suspense manageable. It also helps to flesh out a character and make them more empathetic (sympathetic? Blast these synonyms). Humor is an excellent and easy way for readers to instantly identify with a character, and usually makes them more likable.

My lesson to myself: don't be afraid to add a dash of humor to my suspense stew.

Second lesson to myself: don't write blog posts right before lunch.

The blogosphere is afire!

With contests galore, not actually afire. That would be dangerous.

The latest writer to share their good fortunes with the masses is Michelle McLean of Writer's Ramblings. I found her blog via Elana Johnson, and I'm so glad I did. So skip on over there for her Celebration Contest and get yourself some entries!

And remember, gentle readers, practice safety first. No open flames near excited writers.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Yay Free Stuff!

Childrens, listen up: Elana Johnson is having a contest on her blog with a lot of really awesome prizes (and not the kind you get in a kid's birthday party gift bag, although I would also accept a plastic Power Rangers ring). Go here to check it out and sign up, there are some excellent things to be won!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What type-o?

I read a great post over on Roni's blog, Fiction Groupie, about the mysterious and rare Lurking Agent. You know, those agents who sneak around the blogosphere looking for hot new things (I look good in a bikini! You can't see me, you don't know) to discover on the internets. This leads to the interesting question: how much editing should you really do on your blog entries?

There are basically two camps in this debate, we'll call them Camp Anawanna and Camp Bar None Dude Ranch (can we all just remember the crush that was David Lascher? Ninety nine percent sure he was Vinny on Blossom, the family friendly rebel. Side note: I never realized this is where I got the term whooping funt). At Camp Anawanna they practice the sport of stream of consciousness blogging with little to no editing involved. Blogging is not book writing as most of us would agree, and is not beholden to the same rules of grammar and spelling as the printed word. It is real time information updated constantly and can't be checked as zealously for errors. Conversely, the author of the blog can't be judged on technical abilities based on their blog writing, and should instead be measured by their witticism and timeliness, as well as their ability to make their posts interesting.

Over at Camp Bar None Dude Ranch, however, they're a little stricter about the rules. They believe that if you are putting yourself out there as an individual seeking a profession in this field, you should pay close attention to the perceptions of your writing that you create. You don't walk into an audition without a prepared song, right? Well, for a lot of writers the blog is the audition. You can't see who's behind the two way mirror, so you might as well make that dance look good (I know, I'm mixing up my metaphors, just stay with me). The rules of English grammar and spelling shouldn't fall by the wayside just because you've moved into a new medium.

As with most arguments in adulthood, there's no clear right or wrong answer. For myself I think I tend to fall into the Hey Dude camp, but that might just be the David Lascher talking (seriously, he was the TV boyfriend of my childhood! Blossom! Sabrina! He was even on an episode of Full House in which I referred to his character as Vinny!). I don't do it so much for the Lurking Agent potential as I do for my own satisfaction, and for the fact that my Dad will send me the mistakes highlighted in red when he finds them. No one is perfect and mistakes are bound to happen, but I definitely like to minimize those mistakes when they are completely within my power. It doesn't take too long to read back through that post and at least catch glaring errors, and you never know when it might be the deciding factor in an agent or editor's decision. Think on it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why I like the Olympics

The movie Cop Out looks terrible, but anything that puts Ram Jam in their trailer might deserve a chance. Probably not. But might.

I was watching the Olympics (sadly not including the Passive Aggressive Race) the other day when my partner in crime inquired why I was interested in such goings on. He commented, mostly correctly, that I am not a big sports fan. However, there are several reasons why I enjoy watching the Olympics, and just for you I'll share:

1) The Olympics are like the Super Bowl of obscure sports. These people are the best in their entire COUNTRY, gentle readers! And then they compete against OTHER countries to determine who is the best in the WORLD! The only way this could get better is if the amoeba they found on Mars could participate in speed skating.
2) The ever present threat of the crash. Like a beered up Nascar lover I wait, every shudder of a ski, every wobble of a skate giving me hope that the ordinary run I'm watching could turn into a montageable clip. And barring the recent tragedy in Vancouver these crashes are usually only bruising to the ego and tailbone, making them safe to watch.
3) There are some cool and weird sports out there, and I appreciate the Olympic committee for bringing them to my attention. Curling was previously only a sport at Oscar parties, Moguls were invading Europe (wait, are those Mongols?), and Shooting was something you were sent to jail for doing. Now these terms carry a whole new meaning for me, and Curling even got its own Simpsons episode!
4) Olympic sports were made for my short attention span. Who wants to sit around watching a four hour baseball game (Seriously, why? Speed it up, lazies!) when you can watch an entire event in 5 minutes? And then, when you get tired of that event, they'll switch over to another, and then another, and suddenly I'm learning about keeping your legs straight on the luge, gaining air on jumps, and the mad syncronization that is relay speed skating. It's like the appetizer platter at a chain restaurant!

In short, I'll be enjoying my Olympic games tonight, fo sho.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm not alone!

LOVE THIS POST from Moonrat. It's so nice to know that other people have the same weird thoughts I do.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Dealing with rejection

I've read a few good posts today on dealing with rejection, and what I've come away with is this: don't take it personally, because it's personal.

"Say wha?" you say? "But you just..and then you...this is crazygonuts talk!"

It's impossible to not take rejection personally: you show me a person who can brush it off without so much as a scowl and I'll show you a robot secretly planted by the government in the 60's to spy on us and expose our weaknesses. Something that I don't hear a lot of people saying and I think deserves to be said: it's okay to get pissed off about a rejection. Whether it comes as a form rejection, a bad review, a Domino's pizza number from the hot girl at the bar or a lost job opportunity, it hurts. And we as humans have the right (nay, the responsibility) to cry and scream and break stuff and generally feel bad for ourselves for awhile. Eat that gallon of Blue Bell, gentle reader, liberally salted with tears, because otherwise you might be the guy in the grocery line who snaps and goes on a rampage and I need Nutter Butters way too often to avoid that chance encounter.

What is not okay, and is in fact generally frowned upon, is acting upon those hurt feelings. Because while it feels personal for you, it wasn't meant for you personally from the rejecter. You are one in a long line of queriers/writers/bar hoppers/job applicants for said rejecter, and the odds are if they had a reason to have a secret vendetta against you, you wouldn't have sent your work to them in the first place. Responding in a hurt moment with something spiteful will only get you pegged as unprofessional, and could cost you opportunities in the future. We all know this on an intellectual level, but we've all had our moments of weakness on an emotional level that have led to much head hanging the next day.

Here's the biggest secret of all: the rejection is personal, but not in the way you think. The rejection is the PERSONAL OPINION (did you catch that? I'll say it again: PERSONAL OPINION) of the rejecter, and has never and probably will never be entered in a court of law as a statement of fact. Most rejecters will tell you something doesn't work for them, and they know they don't speak for everyone. They can't, that would just be weird. For every reader you find who likes a Dan Brown book, I'd be willing to bet you could find two that hate it. Do you think Dan Brown is crying in his palatial complex on the beach, wiping his tears with thousand dollar bills (do they even make those)? Methinks not.

So give yourself a little cry, mope around for awhile feeling sorry for yourself, and then get over it and find the person who your work/skills/awesome dance moves were meant for in this world.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday beliefs

The world would be a better place if everyone would break out into impromptu dance parties every once in awhile. Bollywood style.

To get you started: Cry For You and Let It Rock.

Peace out.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Why you so crazy?

I was having a conversation with a friend last night about my motivations to write. Her question was why I felt the need to do something creative - writing, music, etc. - instead of becoming very successful in my particular business realm. The question immediately pissed me off, which is why I knew it was a good one. Why did I feel the need to pursue such a treacherous and often fatal (metaphorically speaking, hopefully) field? Entertainment in any form is a difficult thing to master, and capturing the fickle attention of the public long enough to get them to pull their wallets out is nigh upon impossible. Oh yeah, I just used the word nigh. You're welcome.

So why do it? There are plenty of reasons why not to do it, and as helpful as blogging agents' advice can be, I get the sneaking suspicion that they're telling 99.9% of us to stop sending them so much crazy (rest assured, gentle reader, I actually do house the spirit of JFK, and he's ready to tell all!). Competition is fierce, and there are a lot of excellent debut authors coming out with new books all the time (hi, Lisa and Laura!). Writing, editing, and querying takes years of work, and even then you may never get an agent or editor interested enough to bite. Most writers will tell you that when you think you should give up, send out another query, and I've seen the concept on more than one blog that you're not a real writer unless you never know how to give up.

I thought about it long and hard, gentle reader, and the margarita I had for dinner wasn't making it easy. But eventually its sweet cathartic effects wore off and I came up with this theory: putting something creative out there, that belongs completely to me, is my way of proving I existed. We're all flesh and blood and prone to the effects of time, which means that someday we'll be, as JT and TI put so eloquently, dead and gone. But creative endeavors survive such shortcomings to last generations past the creator. Now, I'm no Homer or Francis Scott Key (write a national anthem, genius! Botswana, I'm looking at you), but leaving that piece of me behind, even if only for my own family, proves that I was an entity unto myself and that I had a story to tell. That story might have been completely made up, but I think every writer recognizes that they put elements of themselves into everything they create. I would give anything to have something like that from my own familial past.

So there you have it. For better or worse, richer or poorer, awesome or less awesome, that is why I write.