Friday, September 28, 2012

Aunt Dot's Guide to Household Weaponry

Hello, Dears.  My niece is feeling a little scattered this morning - she's been such a busy little thing these days - so I thought I'd just drop right in and talk to you about pinking shears like she said I would.  Although to be honest, I don't know why she picked pinking shears.  Oh they make a pretty pattern, but they're fairly silly for actually cutting anything.

Oh, I suppose one could stab at someone with a set of pinking shears.  They're pointy enough on the ends.  And if you were in a sticky situation, you could open them wide and slash at a masher.  But for actual damage, I'd prefer something more along the lines of a good carving knife.

What, Leo?  Oh right, B.E. asked me to try and stick to non-traditional weapons.  So knives are flat out.  Well, maybe next time I can talk to you about how to smash know-it-all husbands upside the head with a pig-shaped bacon press.

Have a lovely day, Dears, and don't forget to keep those household items handy. You never know when you'll need a weapon.  ;o)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The PROBLEM and the FIX

As you may have already seen on Facebook, last night I had a blinding flash of insight that derailed my perfectly lovely editing session.  There I was fixing little things, trying to make Djinnocide tighter and shinier, when all of a sudden the PROBLEM jumped out, scared the crap out of me and wouldn't go away. 

At first I was perfectly willing to believe I'd never seen the PROBLEM before.  After all, it scared me.  Maybe if I didn't acknowledge it's existence, I wouldn't have to admit I've been avoiding it all along.

There we both sat, staring at each other like we were in some damn Mexican standoff.  I certainly couldn't ignore it anymore.  I'm not quite sure how I managed to ignore it all these months - it's so damn big.

So I did what any self-respecting coward would do.  I went to bed.  I expected to be up half the night worrying about the PROBLEM.  Except I wasn't and here's the thing.  When the PROBLEM jumped out, the FIX stepped out right behind him.  I think she's been there all along, too, I just never even glimpsed her tiny frame with that behemoth hovering over her.  In fact, I think she might be what's making him look so freaking huge.

Because she's the real scary part.  The FIX, which seems so small when you look at her head on, is going to be the real bitch.  She's small but she's everywhere.  If I can kick her ass, though, the PROBLEM falls apart. 

Today, I will be kicking some butt and taking some names and adjusting what looks like four or five chapters.  Good thing it's rainy and gross.  Bad thing is that I have to do laundry while battling evil.

:shrug:  Just another day in the life of a writer. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Running Out of Time

Sorry I've been silent.  I wish I could say it was strictly because I've been working, but it's not.  And now I've only got 5 days left in the month.  One book's beginning needs a total revamp.  Another needs some serious tweaking throughout.  One could use a total full-on polish during which I'm sure I'd find something to rewrite.  And I've only got 5 days.  (Okay, 5 until 10/1 but the submission window stays open for another 14 days after that, so 19 days, but still...)

I just don't think I can do it.  Not that I'm giving up.  I'm still going to try.  But I'm also being realistic.  And considering that I feel gross this morning, maybe realistic is best. 

Sooooo, today will be spent mostly on the couch - when I'm not running errands, playing shuttle driver, etc.  From there, I will utilize my daughter's Nook to re-read a manuscripts while jotting notes to fix said manuscript.  If that time is interspersed with naps, so be it.

What are you up to today?  What do you do when a deadline is looming and you know you're running out of time?  Do you freak out (like I'm currently doing), or do you just put your head down and motor through (like I usually do)?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Aunt Dot's Guide to Household Weaponry

There's a story my family tells of the day my Uncle Leo tried to take the last piece of pie.  Aunt Dot stabbed him with a fork - because, hey, the last piece is for guests.

In honor of good ol' Aunt Dot and her handy uses for kitchen cutlery, I've decided to start up a weekly installment of what I would imagine would be her thoughts on everyday items turned into instruments of death and destruction.

Take it away, Aunt Dot!

Good morning, Dears.  Can I offer anyone a slice of pie?  No?  Well, then let's get started.  Today I'd like to talk about the most handy of kitchen inventions:The Meat Thermometer.

Let's say a man enters your house intent to rip your lovely flowered house-dress off and ravage your body.  If you're like me, you've most likely got a pot roast in the oven or a chicken roasting away.  Leo does love his roasted chicken.  Well, if that's so, then you already have your meat thermometer handy.  If he comes at you from the front, simply pick an eye and aim for it.  Chances are you'll miss, but when you do, there're plenty of fleshy spaces for the point to sink into.  If he's already grabbed you from behind, reach back and stab at his eyes or, and Leo should remember this for the next time he wants to play hide the streudel... I already have enough children, thank you very much..., aim for his family jewels.

And that's how you use...  What, dear?  How would I use a meat thermometer to do away with someone??  I would never...  Well, yes, I suppose as a writer, it would be something for you to consider.  Just hypothetically, mind you...

Well, if I were to use a meat thermometer in that way... mind you I've never thought of such a thing... I guess I'd wait until they were asleep.  Creep up.  Pull the comforter back.  Find the depression between the third and fourth ribs on the left side and push that sucker in like I was testing a Thanksgiving turkey.  Of course, then you have to pull it back out really quick or it plugs its own hole...  But I'm just theorizing.  Leo, dear, why are you turning green?

Disclaimer: Other than the names, and the pie incident, the above is born of my twisted imagination.  As far as I can remember, my aunt was a lovely old woman who, except for stabbing Uncle Leo that one time, would never hurt anyone.  But she passed away 32 years ago, so I can't be sure.  Leo preceded her--I don't remember him at all.  I'd like to think, though, that Dot and Leo would appreciate the humor of this.  And I hope you do, too.  

Look for next week's installment when Aunt Dot explores the use of pinking shears for more than just creating a cute border.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Everything Else Falls By the Wayside

Right now, I'm up to my ankles in alligators.  Sure, I'm the one who put on my galoshes and waded out into the swamp, but that's beside the point.  Here I am.  And recognizing that I've made myself incredibly busy means I also have to recognize that at times like these, everything else falls by the wayside.

For instance:

- I haven't done dishes since Monday.
- I also haven't really cooked dinner (which means not doing dishes here hasn't been as grotesque as it sounds.)  Last night, we had Banquet - frozen crispy (they don't make 'fried' anymore) chicken.  The night before, sandwiches.  Thank goodness for paper plates and aluminum foil.  We're just totally out of clean spoons and juice glasses.
- We won't talk about my recent shower schedule, but I got one last night, so it's all good.
- My yard is beginning to look like 'urban jungle' in the truest sense of the word. I really need to mow.  And pull weeds.  And cut down the little tree growing up under my gas meter.

My husband is an incredibly patient man.  He's also been so busy this week, he makes me look like I'm standing still, so maybe he just didn't notice.  Well, until I mentioned the dishes and then we both laughed.  His answer:  "One good thing about dishes is that they aren't going anywhere."

Lucky for me also, my daughter's an adult now - so if she gets hungry, she can fend for herself.  Plus, she's working, which means she's gone all day and doesn't require as much attention as when she's home.

(And yeah, either one of the above could've done the dishes - but I like them done a certain way and while I do appreciate their assistance, their way irritates me.)

The two of them haven't fallen by the wayside.  Neither have my cats - who were both fed and petted and happy as of last night.  (Kira wants more food this morning, but she's a pig.)  So maybe I should've amended the subject of this post to 'everything non-living falls by the wayside'.  :shrug:

Oh crap.  I forgot to do the laundry yesterday.  And for some reason, I keep thinking it's Friday.  This must be what they talk about when they say 'writer brain'.  Or maybe it's just me.

Do things fall by the wayside when you're busy?  What do you let slide?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blowing Smoke Up Your... Armpit

Okay, I was thinking about this recently and even more this morning, so I thought I'd write up a little post about the idea...


When you write a query letter, you're supposed to put a little something in there to personalize the thing.  Where you found them, why you want to work with them, what it was about the agent or agency that drew you to them.  I don't want to disparage the practice - because well, hell, people do like to know that you've done your homework.

Oftentimes, though, such a paragraph comes out sounding like you're trying to blow smoke up someone's... armpit.  No matter how sincere you actually are trying to be.

So I leave it out.

Besides, after 8 years of querying, I'm not exactly sure where I found a particular agent initially, the whys of wanting to work with them are so numerous that detailing them would take more than a paragraph, and again, the what it is about a particular person that drew me to them are lost to the sands of time and my squonky memory cells.

Plus, telling someone that one article they wrote back in 2006 really blew my skirt up makes me seem like I'm just a Google junkie - which leads me back to the perceived sincerity (or lack thereof) issue.

Idea 1.2 (corollary):

When you truly love a writer and/or their work, and you go all fangirly in your reviews, you could possibly maybe sound like you're blowing smoke.

And there you are back at the sincerity issue again.  Bleh.

So, in the interest of cutting through the bull-pucky, let me just come right out now and say this one stone-hard fact:

I do not blow smoke up anyone's... armpit... for any reason.  If I tell you I like your work, I like it.  If I get all fangirl and SQUEE, it's the truth.  And if I do happen to say why I chose to send you my query, I'm telling it because I mean it.

Conversely, if I don't like something, I stay silent about it.  Because my mother always told me that if I couldn't say anything nice, not to say anything at all.  And she's one hell of a wise woman. 

Oh, and just for the sake of making this clear: please, for the sake of all things you hold sacred, don't blow smoke up my as...armpit either.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Type Yourself Thin

Howdy Folks!  I'm here today with a special, limited-time offer.  Today only you can learn the secret to shedding those unwanted extra pounds (and a few of the wanted, necessary ones) quickly and easily.  All you have to do is...


That's right, folks.  It's as simple as sitting your butt down in a comfortable desk chair, placing those wiggly digits on the keyboard and typing.  In no time at all, you'll be burning those calories and dropping dress sizes*!

Why just yesterday I typed over fifty-six HUNDRED words and I can already tell the difference.  My sweat pants are looser** and my ratty old t-shirt looks like a million bucks. 

As an added bonus to all those calories you're burning when you type, you'll reach a point where you no longer reach for those fattening treats***.  You'll just feel full and satisfied with the words you've created.

So, start today and TYPE YOURSELF THIN!

What have you got to lose (besides your sanity)?

Disclaimer: This pretend advertisement is in no way meant to imply that you will actually lose any significant amount of weight while typing.  Consult with a physician before starting or stopping any typing routine.  Your mileage may vary.  Offer not valid outside the U.S.  Offer also not valid inside the U.S. 

* or at least dropping the idea of wearing dresses altogether.

** probably because I didn't eat much yesterday since I was too busy typing

***because you can no longer lift your arms.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Oh Holy Crap...

Harper Voyager announced that they'll be taking unagented submissions from 10/1 thru 10/14:

"Voyager will be seeking an array of adult and young adult speculative fiction for digital publication, but particularly novels written in the epic fantasy, science fiction, urban fantasy, horror, dystopia and supernatural genres."

And you can submit more than one.

And I have two dystopians I could submit, plus if I get Djinnocide* knocked out in the next two weeks, I could submit that, too.  

Pardon me while my brain runs around in tiny circles inside my skull.

That is hellaciously awesome news for first thing on a Saturday morning.  It's also scary as hell. 

I...I...I...  :head explodes**:

*Djinnocide is near the end of a rewrite, so don't think I'm considering sending out a barely polished first draft manuscript.  This sucker has been written and rewritten so many times it ought to freakin' glow.  By 'knocked out' I mean I have another couple chapters to type and then I have to go over the whole thing with Pledge Wipes.  Two weeks is totally doable if I put my head down and quit lollygagging.

** In reality, I'm sitting here in silence having a series of mini panic attacks.  It only feels like my head is going to explode.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The Truth and the Guilt and a Vow

I'd like to go back to a point I made in my last post.  I've been thinking about this a lot since I wrote it, and I think I might've only just skimmed the reality in my fumbling attempt to understand this.

If you missed it, what I said was: I wonder if other writers ever wonder if perhaps the reason agents are shifting to a 'no response means no' reaction to query letters is because as a whole agents are sick of being the bearers of bad news - as well as the targets for all the potentially postal writers out there.  Or maybe it's just that as a culture we seem to shy away from saying anything that might hurt someone else's feelings - even if it helps them in the long run.

But the more I think about it, the deeper it goes.  For instance, this morning a blog pal of mine posted her query letter and the first 150 words of her book, looking for helpful comments.  The other comments before mine were all 'this is really good' type comments, but I posted what I thought - which was basically that her query and her 150 were both pretty good, but they didn't seem to go with each other very well.

I hit Enter and the guilt set in.

Even though I did what the writer asked, I felt awful about being critical of her work.  I could tell she worked really really hard on what she was offering up.  Like I said, both pieces were polished and well-written.  Apart they seemed to stand perfectly well.  Together they missed the mark.  And this person is so funny and nice, I felt like a shit for saying it.

Maybe that's the feeling agents are trying to avoid when they go with a 'no response means no' (NRMN) policy regarding queries.  Can't say that I blame them really.  No matter how well-worded their form letters may be, someone somewhere is going to get their feelings hurt.  I mean, just look at me and that rejection I talked about a couple weeks ago.  He was perfectly awesome telling me what he really thought, and then I went and spoiled it by getting my feelings all dented.  Of course, his words helped me in the long run, but in that moment, I became a whiny baby.  "How dare you?!"


Now, as I consider this and many other things, I wonder if maybe agents are using a 'NRMN' as much to protect the overly-sensitive feelings we writers tend to have sometimes as to protect themselves .  Perhaps if we band together, pull up our big-girl panties and take our lumps, agents can go back to saying what they really think - instead of just avoiding the truth.

Unfortunately, in order for this to really work, everyone would have to be on board.  All it takes is one total loon bad apple to spoil it.  But, I swear before the internet and everybody on it, that I won't be one of those writers.  Give me the truth.  It's the only way I'll learn.

(And as for the people who think giving someone the truth is a license to be mean?  Well, we'll discuss that at another time.  Needless to say, I don't allow that crap here.)

What about you?  Are you ready for the truth?  Will you stand with me as someone who is ready to hear the truth and let it make you a better writer?  Will you stand as someone who is ready to give the truth if that's what someone really wants to hear?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Random Thoughts for an Early Sunday Morning

I wonder if other writers ever wonder if perhaps the reason agents are shifting to a 'no response means no' reaction to query letters is because as a whole agents are sick of being the bearers of bad news - as well as the targets for all the potentially postal writers out there.  Or maybe it's just that as a culture we seem to shy away from saying anything that might hurt someone else's feelings - even if it helps them in the long run.  (Or at least one aspect of our culture.  In others, hurting other people almost seems to be in style- but that's a rant for another day.)

Yeah, my butt does look big in this.  Don't worry.  That's the one good thing about gaining weight.  I have a butt for the first time in my life.  My best friend - post HS - used to refer to me a 'B.E. Buttless'*.

The other day I was talking to my husband and came up with a really neat way to explain how he gets anything done at work.  "Slaloming Around Stupidity"

I became a great aunt for the third time last month.  My first great niece.  The early polls indicate she looks like my mother.  I totally see that.  However, I also catch myself seeing my mother when I look in the mirror - a lot, lately.  But the baby totally doesn't look like me.  What's up with that?

Last Thursday, I picked up a CD - Stone Sour - because it had a song I really liked: "Through Glass".  Unfortunately, that's the only song on the whole CD I like.  The rest sound like a weird mash up of Metallica and Pink Floyd with a twist of Tourette's Syndrome (the malady, not the band - if there is one named that.)  Whatever it is, it ain't my style.

If I stand next to my mailbox, I can watch my neighbor's super huge flat screen TV through his front picture window.  He really needs some drapes or something.  But he's way better than the guy I used to live behind.  I could stand on my back porch and see into his bathroom.  I'd be standing there, staring off into space as I enjoyed a cigarette and BAM, I'd want to scrape out my eyes with a putty knife.  That guy definitely needed drapes.

I'm not nosy, I'm just observant.  (I need to print that on a t-shirt.)

Got any random thoughts for me today?

*He used my real first name and not my initials. 

(The above pic's a closeup of my former puppy - Tutter.  Isn't he pretty?  And yeah, he had one blue eye and one brown.)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Trying to Tell Me Something?

This morning's spam folder contained an interesting assortment of crap.  But if you look at it another way, it could be that someone somewhere's trying to tell me something.  Today I got spam for:

- outdoor activities
- male enhancement products
- ways to get smarter
- estate planning
- online pharmaceuticals

So, from this I could speculate that the universe wants me to grow a set, get out more and use my head before I die or I end up taking drugs.  Because really all I tend to do is this*:

What do you think - is the universe trying to tell me something?  What do you think it's saying?

*Not really.  I just like to joke about the fact that I sit around eating bon-bons all day - and this was a pic taken back in 2002 of me doing exactly that, with wine.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Release Day and Other Awesome Things

Okay, it's Tuesday, which means release day all over the place.  But today isn't just any release day.  A few books I've been anxiously awaiting drop into the world today.

Ashes of Honor by Seanan McGuire - the latest in her October 'Toby' Daye series.  Yeah, I have a writerly crush on Seanan.  This series is part of the reason why.  (Her Newsflesh series as Mira Grant is the other part.)

Monster Hunter Legion by Larry Correia - I just discovered this guy so I'm not quite up to this book in the series yet.  But so far, they've been awesome.  I can't wait to read this one.

How to Drive a Dragon Crazy by G.A. Aiken - this series has been wicked hot fantasy with a snarky urban fantasy voice.  Can't wait to see what Aiken does with this story.

Power by Debra Webb - I haven't gotten around to this series yet, but Deb's a great gal (and a contributor at one of the first blogs I fell in love with - Murder She Writes).  The whole series sounds great.  And at $2.99 for the Kindle version, it's a steal.

ETA: Hunting the Siren by Jeffe Kennedy - spice futuristic paranormal. Maybe too spicy for my tastes, but I love Jeffe, so of course, I'm going to encourage you to buy a copy.

ETA: Head Rush by Carolyn Crane - book three in her Disillusionists series. I've been waiting for this one for a while.  I can't believe I forgot it released today until just now.

Also in the news, my friend and awesome author J.B. Lynn has started a new blog to generate buzz and have a little fun ahead of the release of her newest book - Further Confessions of a Slightly Neurotic Hitwoman - called Slightly Neurotic Confessions.  Check it out, it sounds like a blast.

Also also wic*:

A blog buddy I hadn't heard from in like forever - Erica Ridley (formerly of the Manuscript Mavens) contacted me to let me know about the new anthology she's part of: Born to Bite - Three juicy stories that combine historical romance with paranormal.  Squee!

I know I'm missing like a bajillion awesome things, so help a gal out here.  What news do you have today? 

*Bonus points if you know where I got 'also also wic' from.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Just for fun - the Jokes

And here are the jokes to go with those punchlines I posted on Thursday.

1.  One day a bible publisher was standing in the warehouse wondering how to move his product when a squirrely little man wanders in.  "Can I help you?" the publisher says. 
"I..I..I wwwant to bbbe your new salesman." 
"I don't think that would be a good idea." 
", really.  I...I... can ssssell your b...b...bibles."
The publisher figures the damn things aren't going anywhere anyway, so what the heck.  He gives the dude a box full of bibles and sends him off into the world.  The next morning, the little guy is back.
"N...n...n...need more bibles."
The publisher is so stunned, he points to two more boxes and the little guy leaves with them.  The next morning, the little guy is back.
"N...n...n...need more bibles."
By now the publisher has recovered from his shock, but he's still stunned.  Before he gives the guy any more books, he asks, "What's you secret?"
The little guy says, "I...I...I... t...t...take the up to ssssomeone's front d...d...door and ask w...w...would you like to my bible ...or would you like me to read it to you?"

2. What do you get when you cross a German Shepherd with a giraffe?  A watchdog for the second floor.

3. One day a blonde decides she going ice fishing.  She goes to the store and buys all the gear - the little pole and the auger, a heated seat and several boxes of bait.  Off she goes to the ice.  She sets up and picks up the auger to drill her first hole.  All of sudden, a voice booms out of the sky over her.  "There are no fish under the ice."  Gathering up all her supplies, she moves off down the ice.  She sets up all her stuff.  As soon as she picks up the auger, she hears the voice again.  "There are no fish under the ice."  Once more she moves farther down the ice and tries again.  This time when the voice booms out "There are no fish under the ice", she looks skyward and says, "God?  Is that you?"  And the voice says: "No, this is the manager of the ice rink."

4.  A blind guy walks into a department store, picks up his seeing-eye dog by the tail and starts swinging it over his head.  Horrified, the manager runs up. "Sir!  What do you think you're doing?" To which the blind guy replies, "Eh.  Just looking around."

5.  Guy walks into a bar with a three legged pig.  He tells the bartender, "My pig's special.  And if I show you just how special, you have to give me a drink."  The bartender shrugs and agrees. The man snaps his fingers and the pig starts singing opera.  He snaps his fingers again and the pig starts dancing so well you can't tell it only has three legs.  He snaps a third time and the pig starts playing Joplin on the piano.  The bartender offers the guy whatever he wants if he'll answer one question.  "Why's your pig only got three legs?"  To which the guy replies: "You don't eat a pig that good all at once."

6. What do you call a cow with no legs?  Ground beef.

7. Why did the blond stare at her orange juice?  Because the can said concentrate.

8. Why did Dumb Donald cut a whole in the rug?  To see the floor show.

9. Three clergymen of different faiths get together and have a fundraiser.  When it's over they get into an argument about how to divide the proceeds.  The first says "Let's draw a circle on the floor.  We'll throw the money in the air.  Whatever lands inside the circle we keep and whatever lands outside goes to God.  The second shakes his head.  "I'm all for drawing a circle, but I say whatever lands outside the circle we keep.  Whatever is inside the circle goes to God."  The third shakes his head at both of his colleagues.  "You are both right about the circle, but what I propose is that we throw the money in the air and what God wants, he keeps."

10. What do you call a dog with no back legs and steel balls?  Sparky