Friday, August 31, 2012

My Happy Playlist

Yesterday I picked up a new CD - All of You by Colbie Caillat.  Hard to be grumpy when you're listening to Colbie.  So, I figured I'd make a new playlist on my hard drive - Happy.  The only other ones I have are Girl Power and Harsh, so let me tell you, finding happy songs to compile into something I can listen to for longer than a few wasn't easy.

Or at least I didn't think it would be easy.  I guess I had happier stuff than I thought.  Anyway, here's what I came up with:

Brighter Than the Sun - Colbie Caillat
From the Clouds - Jack Johnson
Change Your Mind - Sister Hazel
Unwritten - Natasha Bedingfield
Love Will Do That - Darius Rucker
Good Life - One Republic
How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty
Keep Your Head Up - Andy Grammer
Everything - Michael Buble
Uncharted - Sara Bareilles
What Doesn't Kill You (Stronger) - Kelly Clarkson
I'm Yours - Jason Mraz
Some Fantastic - Bare Naked Ladies
You and Your Heart - Jack Johnson
This - Darius Rucker
Dream Life, Life - Colbie Caillat
Lunatic - Andy Grammer
Walk - Foo Fighters
Southern State of Mind - Darius Rucker
Brown-Eyed Girl - Everclear
Hanging by a Moment - Lifehouse
Marchin' On - One Republic
Biggest Man in Los Angeles - Andy Grammer
Long Song - Sara Bareilles
Think Good Thoughts - Colbie Caillat
Don't Know Why - Norah Jones
I've Got the World on a String - Michael Buble
Alcohol - Bare Naked Ladies
Baker Street - Foo Fighters
I Do - Colbie Caillat
Make it Mine - Jason Mraz

I don't know what else I'll end up adding, but right now it's the perfect mix to listen to while querying.  ;o)

What are you listening to today?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Just for fun

We've all heard a million jokes by now - heard them, read them on the web, passed them around email.  The question I want to pose today is how well do you know the jokes you've heard.  Below are the punchlines to several of my go-to jokes.  See if you know the jokes they go to.  I'll try to keep them clean so if you do know the joke, you can feel free to leave it in the comments, or if you don't, I can always post the jokes later.

1.  ...or would you like me to read it to you?

2. A watchdog for the second floor.

3. No, this is the manager of the ice rink.

4.  Just looking around.

5.  You don't eat a pig that good all at once.

6. Ground beef.

7. Because the can said concentrate.

8. To see the floor show.

9. ...and what God wants, he keeps.

10. Sparky

Yes, I have a weird sense of humor.  No, not all of the jokes are politically correct, but hopefully they're also not offensive - unless you are of the offendsensitive persuasion, and then, Sorry.  When I type the answers up, I'll try to scrub them clean of anything anyone can take offense to.  (And who knows, that may make the joke even funnier.)

Or if you're feeling funny, feel free to type up what you think would be the joke to fit with any particular punchline.  Whoever's is the most hilarious might just get a prize - I mean besides the prize of being covered in awesomesauce.

PS. #1 is really much funnier when it's told out loud.  It was also my father's favorite joke.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


So if you haven't heard about the kerfluffle yet, the NYT discovered a guy who was taking money from self-published authors and churning out positive reviews for them.  Correction, the guy started out doing reviews himself and then started hiring people to do the reviews for him.  All positive, all the time from the sounds of it.

Of course, the guy and his minions never bothered to say in the review that it was a paid review.  He just threw the reviews out there as actual opinions from real readers.  And therein lies the rub.

Remember the other kerfluffle from a couple years ago?  The FCC or some other such government agency decided we bloggers all needed to state publicly whether we received any compensation for the reviews we were posting.  So we all started putting up disclaimers and swearing on a stack of classics that our reviews were the honest truth, so help us Rand-McNally.

:shrug:  This guy publicly admits to running a service where he pulled the wool over the customer's eyes and not a damn thing happened.  In fact, if you read the NYT article (which I won't point to but it's easy enough to locate on your own), it seems as if the journalist is holding this dude up as a shining example of entrepreneurial genius.  :barf:  He was a con artist working with other con artists and for other con artists.  There's nothing good or heroic or genius about that. 

But don't worry too much, folks.  Karma eventually got this guy.  He's selling motor homes in Tulsa (or mobile homes, or something... I forget what but it's definitely not paying him the $28K per month he made shilling good reviews for books). And I like to think karma will get those authors who paid him - because eventually the truth will come out as to whether their writing was actually any good.

Anyway, the point I was actually headed to is one where, as my husband put it a few moments ago, "Don't people realize reviews are just other people's opinions?"*  Sure, reviews can help us evaluate a product before we buy it, but in the end, we're really just taking someone else's word for how awesome or horrible that product is.  And 9.9 times out of ten, we're taking the word of someone we don't know from Adam.

So how do we know if their opinions are actually any good?  We all have to make that determination on our own.  Personally, I stopped reading reviews almost entirely - partly due to this behavior I posted about on Sunday.  I want to know something about a book or a product, I look to people I already know I can trust.  (Like my blog pals.)  If no one I can trust has experience with what I want to know about, I search the web - reading reviews, sure, but also paying close attention to what the people are actually saying.

Sometimes I get screwed.  I buy the product and it's not everything the reviews said it would be.  But most of the time, I get exactly what I expected.

I don't know.  Maybe this guy did such wicked awesome business because some writers are so desperate for awesome reviews they're willing to pay out the nose for them.  Perhaps this all came about because it's less time consuming to pay some service to give you 5 stars than it is to write a book worthy of 5 stars (or less painful than admitting that perhaps your book wasn't as good as you thought it was).  I get it. 

And maybe this guy got away with it at all because people have stopped making judgment calls on their own.  I dunno.

What do you think**? 

*Hubs' incredulous reaction came from the idea that anyone would actually pay to have positive opinions thrown up online.  And also from the fact that he rarely takes anyone's opinion as gospel without facts and evidence to back it up.  :happy sigh:  That's my guy.

** I've already formed my opinion.  I'm just inviting discussion.  =o)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Mean Spirits Abound

I don't know if people are meaner now then they used to be, or if it's the perceived anonymity of the web bringing the meanness that was always there to the forefront, but have you seen some of the comments around the internet lately?  Sheesh. And I'm not talking about here.  I moderate my comments, so the mean people couldn't get through if they tried, so they don't try.  Without an audience, they're pretty impotent. 

No, I'm talking about random comments posted to just about everywhere.  YouTube seems to be the worst, but you can see them any other place that allows people to comment.  To all of them, I say "Egads, people, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

For instance, yesterday I was looking for something interesting to do with some leftover tilapia.  There I was on for petesakes and someone had given the recipe one star and left a nastygram because... wait for it...  tilapia doesn't taste as fishy as other fish.  How dare someone give tips on what to do with a fish that doesn't taste fishy.  And how dare people eat it??

Umm, yeah.  Stuff like that.

During the Olympics, I heard a story about Carmelita Jeter (one of the fastest women on Earth).  I guess one day her grandmother was over on YouTube - because she wanted to watch all of her granddaughters races and the videos were all posted there.  What she found was a slew of mean comments about how Carmelita cheated and she could never run that fast without drugs and, oh yeah, she looks like a man.  The poor old lady called Carmelita up in tears.

:shrug:  Maybe that's what these mean-spirited comments are going for.  "It ain't no good unless some poor innocent old lady cries.  :at which point they roll on the floor laughing because they're dorks:

For the most part, I've stopped reading comments around the interwebs.  I read the news story, or watch the video, or check out the Dilbert comic, all without scrolling down - because would you believe, I've seen vile, mean comments in every instance?  I don't read the comments to George Takei's funny pics anymore.  Hell, I don't read most FB comments unless I'm fairly certain I won't be stumbling across nastiness. Then again, every once in a while, I fall into the reading-comments trap, and I'm annoyed all over again.

Maybe I'm just getting too old for this crap.  I just wish there were a way to make it stop.  Educate these fools.  Create a shift in the behavior so people remember to keep their mean spirits to themselves.  I dunno.

What do you think?

(And yes, as always, my comments are both moderated and protected by the word verification.  If you have anything mean to say, don't bother.  No one will see it but me, and I'm pretty thick-skinned.  Plus, I'm quick with the delete button.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Welcome to the Workend

Hello folks.  I'd like to welcome you to what I like to call the workend.  Basically, it's what I do here.  I work the weekends.  This week, though, the Hubs and the Kid will probably be working, too.

On the schedule for me:

- Knock out a couple more chapters on this rewrite I wanted to have done by mid-August.
- Do some more research and send out a half-dozen more queries.

I know the Kid has stuff to get done before what shall henceforth be known as 'crazy week' - when the company she works for has end of month, fiscal year end, statements, and the yearly audit.  Her first time to experience getting slammed in the workplace, but I think she's up to it.

I'm not sure exactly what Hubs has to do, but he's got umpteen meetings this coming week - all of which he has to prep for. 

If they're both gone at the same time, should be pretty quiet here.  Quiet = perfect worktime. 

What plans do you have?  Are you looking forward to a weekend or a workend?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Like a Band-Aid - Right Off!

I know this is my blog quote for today, but it bears repeating...

"After rejection—misery, then thoughts of revenge, and finally, oh well, another try elsewhere." - Mason Cooley

Kinda poignant considering yesterday.

There I was typing furiously on my WIP when I happened to reach a pause point, and what I do when I reach those points is... you guessed it... check my email.  Here's how that went...

Wow I have an email in my Agent box. I open my Agent box, but for some reason it's sitting on the last email I read and not the new one.  I can see who it's from but not what it says yet.  Okay cool, this guy who everyone on QueryTracker seems to get immediate helpful feedback from has written me back.  Of course that thought occurs to me and then I immediately get nauseous.

What if it isn't as good as everyone else has gotten?  But I make myself open it anyway, because what the hell else am I doing this for, right?  If you never open mail because you're afraid of rejection, you'll never get the acceptances.  So, I opened it...

And it was bad.

Misery.  And thoughts of ice cream sundaes danced in my head.  The sweet siren song of something gooey and chocolatey and carmely - maybe with crushed cookie bits...  But I digress.  Needless to say, I felt like dog doo.  Especially since there I was, actually writing in the middle of the day of my own free will.  I was being a good little writer.  Besides, what he said was just mean.  And so wrong.  I mean, who the hell does this guy think he is???

Thoughts of Revenge.  Or in my case, getting pissed.  (Angry for those of you in the UK, not drunk.  Although that was a thought at the time.)  I whipped myself into a fine fury.  All thoughts of sundaes danced away.  I did what any fifth grader would do in a situation like this.  I said "Oh yeah, well I'll show you."  And I immediately whipped out a new query letter, showing him exactly why his estimation of my work was so damn wrong.  After all, he was basing his whole damn decision on the query letter for petesakes...

Which meant he wasn't condemning my work.  He was condemning the version of my work I offered him in those 250 words.  And he was right.

The moral of this story and, I hope, the happy ending is that the query letter I churned out in my little melodrama is ten times better than my old letter.  (Yes, I've had outside objective confirmation of this, so don't think I'm going off half-cocked.)  It will be going out in today's round of queries.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.

And to the above agent (who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons)... Thank you.  You were blunt and to the point, and while your words might've stung like ripping a band-aid off a particularly hairy patch of skin, in the end they helped me.

To the agents who're still considering that other letter, the story really is better than that lame ass thing represents.  So, I'd really appreciate it if you gave me a shot.  Read my work and then decide.

P.S. The above is an example of something we all could do when we get what we feel are hurtful comments.  Blow off steam, vent to a friend, and then ask ourselves if the comment really was hurtful.  Sometimes the most hurtful comments are pointing to things we need to change.

Have you ever gotten a hurtful comment that in retrospect was actually helpful?

And for your reader pleasure, hop on over to my other blog Tabula Rasa where I've posted the first three pages of Dying Embers and see what All The Hubbub is about.

* Bonus points if you can name the sitcom I got this post title from.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Checking the Ol' Email

I don't know how the rest of the world goes about it, but I've heard people talk about 'checking their email' constantly through this query process.  Personally, from the moment my computer goes on in the morning - before I've even had my first cup of coffee* - to the moment my computer goes down for the night, both my email programs are open.  (Okay, maybe not the exact moment, because I have to wait for Outlook to load and then I have to wait for my Firefox to load so I can access my gmail - but you get the gist.)

I'm never not connected.  All I have to do is walk by the 'puter to see if I have a little envelope in my tray or if there's a new number next to my Inbox tab.  Easy peasy.

Now, I do have Outlook set up in such a way that query responses go into their own little folder**, which for some reason doesn't put a little envelope in my tray.  In that respect, I do have to click over to Outlook and see if there are any shiny numbers next to my Agents folder.  (And yeah, I'm doing that every few minutes like some kind of junkie waiting for her fix to arrive via the interwebs.)

It's only been a week since the first queries went out, so I'm not totally spazzing out yet.  I've been sending a couple here and a couple there - no big carpet-bombing strafe for me.  Slow and steady. 

I'll spazz later.

How are things in your world?  Checking the email boxes or just chillin'?  How do you handle the juggling of email?

* Speaking of coffee - check out Lydia Kang's Medical Mondays post about caffeine.  (Really.  It's okay.  She's not a coffee hater.)

** I had to because the stupid program was throwing all my query responses last year into the Junk folder.  Nothing like mixing rejections with offers to enlarge a penis I don't have.  :shudder:  Thanks, Microsoft.  Dorkbutts. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Evils of Bio Writing

I was having a chat the other day with a friend of mine about bios.  Okay, I was bitching and she was helping me bitch.  You see, I'm back out there doggie-paddling through the query pool, and some agents I've been researching want a bio.  So, in desperation and, I'll admit, more than a little sarcasm, I wrote one:

You want to know about me? I used to live in Salt Lake City where I was the secretary to the president of a multi-million dollar private school system. Before that I managed telemarketers in Tallahassee, Florida. Prior to those glory days, I was a manufacturers’ representative for electronic components (the little gizmos that go into all our technological wonders) where my southeast Michigan territory encompassed both Flint and Detroit. ...:portions redacted for privacy's sake: My life is kinda dull, more than a little drab, and often just short of hermetic, but it works for me. It’s also why I spend 75% of my time living in my head remaking the world in my own image. The other 25% is mostly spent reading, blogging, visiting my friends on the internet, reading (it was worth saying twice), doing housewifely pursuits—i.e. cooking, cleaning, baking, crocheting… *yawn*—spending time with my husband and daughter, as well as playing slave to my two cats. (Too many more felines and I get to be that crazy cat lady you always hear about.) The point is: I write, I imagine, I dream, I research and learn, then I turn it all into pages and pages of stories. In short, I’m a writing machine and that works for me, too. 

And I sent it off to this friend.  She thanked me for the laugh and then commiserated.  How does one write a bio with anything writerly in it when nothing in your writing career has happened yet?  I mean, it's not like I can (or would) say that I'm an ex-government agent or a firebug - because, ya know, that's what this book is about.

For fun, though, I sent her some personal taglines:

"B.E. Sanderson: Personally boring, professionally brilliant."
"B.E. Sanderson: Looks normal enough, but internally psycho."

I haven't decided what I'm going to do yet.  For now, I'm rotating the bio-requesting agents farther down the list, but I can't put them off forever, cuz that would be stupid.  And who knows, maybe I will just go ahead and send the tongue-in-cheek bio.  At least then they'll know who they're really working with.  ;o)

What about you?  Are your attempts at the evil bio scintillating or flat?  Got any good taglines for yourself?

(Yeah, that's me up there.  I think I was about 14-15 when it was taken.  I was cheesing it up for the camera - cuz that works for me, too.)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Cleaning Bug

Somehow or other I picked up the cleaning bug.  I'm still trying to get everything else done.  Unfortunately, it means something had to give and from the looks of it, that something was this blog.  I'm sorry to all my loyal readers.  I promise to get back on track soon and post something worth reading.

Thanks for hanging in there, folks.


Meanwhile, here's a pretty picture for you...

Apparently* there are fires somewhere west of here and the smoke is making things all hazy.  This was the sun yesterday morning.

*I don't know where.  Yeah, I've been out of it in more ways than one.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Distractions and Busyness and Whatnot

August has not been my month for getting stuff accomplished, if the first 12 days are any indication.

I could blame the Olympics I guess.  I've never been this Olympics crazy before, but this time around they're just so riveting.  So many talented people busting their asses and succeeding - it's got me glued to the TV.  Like last night's 10M Men's Platform Diving.  My god, that guy - David Boudia - was AMAZING.  The dark horse, the Cinderella story, the come from behind.  Call it what you will, he kicked ass and brought home the gold.  (And that event is scary as shit.  The one guy from China came within inches of bashing his head on the concrete platform and falling the 10 meters into the pool.)

So yeah, the past two weeks were a wash with regard to prying myself away from the TV, the website, checking the medal standings...

:shrug:  There've been other distractions, but that was the main one.  Like the Kid's approaching birthday - which meant a super-special surprise shopping trip yesterday.  Or like that cute little house I almost fell in love with, which would've been the perfect vacation home slash future retirement location.  And which, after emailing back and forth with the realtor, turned out to not be everything it seemed.  But which also lit the fires of property hunting in me and had me - you know when I wasn't watching the Olympics - scouring the interwebs for a house I liked nearly as much as the dream of that one.  Bleh.

What it all boils down to, though, are excuses.  This was supposed to be my year of 'No Excuses'.  I let other things distract me from my writing, my reading, and that critiquing commitment I made.  Well, the excuses stop today.  (Okay, so some of them stopped the other day when I decided to take the 10m platform dive into the query pool again.)  I will get at least 2K words written today.  I will get that damn synopsis tweaked into something agents might actually enjoy reading.  I will read several chapters of this book I'm critiquing.  And later, if I have time, I might even finish Darklands by Nancy Holzner.

I will not watch any events today.  I will not watch the closing ceremonies.  (Well, maybe just a little.)

But right now, I have a cake to frost...

What's distracting you lately?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Abject Terror, Nausea, Palpitations? Must Be Query Time

Pray to whatever god you call yours for me.  And if you have no god, keep a positive thought in your head.  Because today I will be wading back into the query pool.

Okay, so maybe this morning I won't be wading in.  I have agent research to do.  Which means, at least this time around, a Premium Membership over at  Hell, it's only $25 (or one Amazon book order) a year and I just happen to have that amount available in my book order account.  I'll get that done today* and get started pulling information to plug into the Access database I created.

And then once I have a few good agents on my list, off the queries go.


Anyone got some Pepto?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

You're an Agent And This is Crazy...

...But here's my query, so call me maybe.

:smirk:  I couldn't resist jumping on the bandwagon with this one.  Hey, if the Olympic swim team can borrow the song for their video, I can at least snatch the line for my blog post title.  ;o)

Okay, so I was talking with a friend of mine (who shall remain nameless unless she decides to out herself in the comments).  She's been reading a book I sent out for query a couple years ago, that I got discouraged about.  I didn't send it to her to critique.  We were just chatting and I said 'Hey, you should probably read my suspense one of these days'.  She found a free spot in her busy life and asked to see it.

Last night she wrote me to tell me she's almost done and asked the eternal question.  "WHY did you stop querying this?"

So I told her the long, sad* stupid story.  Actually, the short version is Jessica Faust rejected my full and then I got all defeatist. 

And Ms. Faust's comments weren't bad.  They were actually really nice.  I just got all tangled up in my head with my own self-doubt and decided 'You have no business writing suspense'.  After which, I stopped production on the half-edited book I was tweaking and the half-written WIP I was working on. 

They sit on my hard drive giving me the stink-eye every time I scroll past their folders.  And I don't blame them.  I deserve a little stink-eye from those books.  They're good ideas.  They ought to be finished and sent out into the world.

As for Dying Embers (aka Manhunter - if you've been around the blog that long), I never should've walked away and left it lying in the dust.  After all, as my friend pointed out, Ms. Faust requested the full for a reason.  So, as soon as I screw my courage to the sticking post, I will send it out into the world again. 

What about you?  Have you ever let a little discouragement stop you from going after something? 

PS.  If you haven't seen that video of the swimmers lip-syncing to 'Call Me Maybe', it's hilarious.

*sad as in pathetic, not depressing... well, unless you count that being pathetic is often depressing.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Picture Pause

Well, my words seemed to be otherwise occupied lately, so once again, I'll leave you with a picture.  This morning all the birds behaved and gave me a wide range of subjects to photograph.  The Great Blue Heron stayed in one place long enough for me to go back home for my camera.  The Snowy Egret let me catch him mid-flight.  And tons of geese came in for landings at just the right place for me to snap their pics.  It was a good morning.

Speaking of geese...

I counted 73 on the lake this morning.  What really kills me about this pic is the duck.  He just sat there while the geese landed over the top of him.  =o)

Friday, August 3, 2012

Egrets, I've had a few.

I changed the post but not the pic.  The words were lame.  The pic isn't.

Okay, so the words are still lame...but they're funny lame now.

Still, have a great weekend, everyone.  =o)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

It's Ba-aa-ack!

So here I am working on my rewrite.  I'm up to chapter 23 now with about 9 chapters left to go.  It's going okay.  For some reason this thing is coming together in spurts, but hey, at least it's coming together.

Anyway, I'm re-writing along, focusing on all things genie, when a book I started a couple years ago pops into my head like some sick game of Whack-a-Mole.  And it's all like "Look at me! Look at me!"

Now I don't remember exactly why I never finished that puppy.  I know I liked the story and where it was headed...  Crap, now I remember.  I was in the middle of writing it when I got a rejection on my other suspense that made me feel like I had no business writing anything even remotely approaching suspense ever again.  And so, the idea was left - some half-shapen, malformed monster stuck in the primordial ooze of my subconscious.

:cue creepy music:

"It's ba-aa-ack!"

I don't know if I'll tackle it when I'm through with this rewrite, but it feels good to be excited about a story again.  (Not that I'm not excited about Djinnocide, but I've been at this so long, and the other idea is all fresh and new.  Maybe that's what it really means to be a fickle book whore.)

How about you?  How are things going in your writerly worlds?