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Friday, November 30, 2007

Avatar-Free

I've never used an avatar---which is really ironic since I'm an artist. I've created avatars for friends and family, usually photos of pets or people Photoshopped with special effects, but I've never created an icon for myself.

On several writing forums that I belong to, I see a host of icons, from the uber cool to just plain crappy. Some appear to be straight out of movie trailers, others look like clip art or (gasp) somebody else's art property, and a few look homemade but original.

As an artist, I always worry about copyright issues. The worldwide web is a big place so maybe the avatar users aren't worried they'll get a lawsuit slapped on them. Or maybe because of the business I'm in, I'm particularly sensitive about lawsuits for copyright infringement.

The company I work for has an entire platoon of angry lawyers and they vigorously enforce copyrights. It puts the fear of God in you when your job is on the line. Even if it weren’t against the law, I still wouldn't do it because I believe art belongs to the artist (unless he sells the rights).

I imagine the movie trailer photos are fair game since I see them everywhere. The movies' websites always offer images to use as screensavers and desktop art anyway. It's free advertising for them.

But what about real artwork--the already published kind? Do people get permission to use those? Many people don't realize that art on the web belongs to someone somewhere. You can't just use it without permission or payment. I can't begin to tell you how many clients I've worked with who bring me magazines or website links and ask me to pull a piece of art from there. (Like I want to go to jail.)

Art cannot be legally reproduced unless it specifically states it is copyright free or public domain. ---or you pay for it.

Anyway back to avatars. I do like them on writing forums because I can identify people visually, especially if they chime in regularly. This can work for or against you. Because avatars are so recognizable, I cheerfully ignore the ranters, ravers, and drama queens, while quickly finding those who usually serve up pearls of wisdom.

I'm content to be avatar free. I can't think of any one image that defines me anyway and I'm too lazy to constantly change them according to my mood.

My favorite avatars are pictures of the writers themselves because I like putting a face to the writing. It makes me feel like I know them.

Too bad I look like Attilla the Hun's mother. --grin-- Another good reason for staying invisible.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

High Hopes

There's a song that Frank Sinatra once recorded called High Hopes. You might remember some of the lyrics.

Just what makes that little old ant
Think he'll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant, can't
Move a rubber tree plant

But he's got high hopes, he's got high hopes
He's got high apple pie, in the sky hopes

So any time your gettin low 'stead of lettin go
Just remember that ant

Oops there goes another rubber tree plant

Greg is fond of saying that I remind him of a little ant because I just keep going with little regard for my insignificance. --Hey, somebody's gotta move that rock. It might as well be me.

The road to publication is a terribly debilitating lifestyle. It gnaws on your self esteem constantly and the pay sucks most of the time. The only reason to put yourself through this agony is because you enjoy the process of writing.

Now admit it, the process is fun, isn't it? I have a blast creating my worlds.

I usually see blog posts on how depressing the writer's life is but I thought I would blog today on what keeps me going. Speaking as someone who is one with the ant, I feel eminently qualified. LOL

Positive Attitude: Be the ant and believe in yourself. It starts with two little words. I can.

Open mindedness: Be open to new ideas and different opinions. You don’t have to buy into all of them, but don't rule them out just because it seems foreign to you. Fresh perspectives are hard to come by. Treasure them.

Grow a support group: A support group is essential to your well being, but don't allow yourself to be so dependent on them that you can't write without constant reassurance. Friends are wonderful, but true friends know when to stop holding your hand and smack you on the back of the head.

Have fun: I am one voice among MILLIONS of other writer ants, so I don't take myself too seriously. Writing should be fun. I'm not here to preach, teach or bare my soul. This isn't therapy. It's entertainment. I want my readers to enjoy the ride.

Laugh: Misery might love company, but you'll gain more friends with laughter than moans and grumbles. We all get knocked down. It's the people who get back up that succeed.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Developing Voice

At BookEnds, author Christi Craig has her say on "voice". Go over and check it out.

Christie mentioned in the comments area that voice evolves with time. I think that's true. If I go back and look at early samples of my writing, I can see glimpses of my glib and carefree voice that I've since honed. But I can also see a little darkness too.

Me, dark? I can draw it out whenever the scene demands it, but I'm such an upbeat person in real life that it takes me a while to find that dark and sulky voice. Like "other" things in life, I have to be in the mood to write dark.

Voice is probably the hardest thing to master. Part of it is due to the confidence in your writing style. Those who haven't yet found their voice sometimes waffle from one tone to another within the same scene. It gives you an uneasy feeling that the author is not in control.

When I was studying painting at university, I was fascinated with the concept of style, the painterly version of writer's voice. I don't know if teaching methods have changed since I was at school, but back then we learned by copying the masters.

My early canvasses were faithful copies, but as I grew more confident, I often took chances and changed the tone of the color palette, or the energy of the brush strokes. Eventually a style emerged that turned out to be uniquely my own. My painter's voice had developed.

I think the same concept applies to writing. You learn by reading and practicing. When you start to feel as if you understand where you're going, you're more willing to strike out in a style that is uniquely yours. Only time and practice will make it stick.

I don't know about other people, but I found in both painting and writing, my voice emerged so slowly as to be imperceptible. By absorbing the work around me, I developed recognizable traits that indicated style. Ta Da! Voice!

With any luck, you'll also develop a following of readers who also appreciate your voice.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Making Time

Now that I'm with Samhain, I've been invited into several private list groups. I continue to be impressed with how well organized this publisher is. There is a cohesiveness and a logic in the way Samhain guides their authors.

It's a little overwhelming right now, but I hope to settle in after the holidays. My book, Touch of Fire won't be out until next summer, so I have plenty of time to look around. I do want to be more involved in the writing community so I'm trying to pull myself out of lurking mode and participate more.

The biggest help in forcing me to delurk has been using a blog reader. I can scan blogs quickly rather than click each link to see if anyone had anything to say. I only go directly to the blog if I want to comment or see what else the blogger has written. So if anyone notices they've not been seeing me in their stat counter, it's because I'm reading your blogs remotely. Rest assured, I am reading you though.

There have been beau coup obstacles that have hindered my writing time. My kitchen is in bits and pieces right now. Greg is installing my cabinets and I will need to do some touch ups afterwards. Then there's my day job, where I'll be covering for several managers who decided to take all of December off. I have a couple art projects to finish; one is a Christmas gift so I really need to get that done. And then there's blurb copy I need to furnish to Samhain for the upcoming novel. Oh….and I did win some ad space over at Fiction Addiction, so thank you to everyone who voted for me!! That said, now I have to design a banner for them to post.

Everything I just listed (and this was only a partial inventory) has to be done by December 20. No pressure. LOL

I've been writing in little spaces of time; reading when I can't write, and researching in between. The holidays aren't easy because so many other people need you at this time too. So I make time for them because in the end they're the only ones that matter.

I'm not one of those "writing is my life" authors. …I'll wait while the purists throw rotten tomatoes at me. (grin)

My philosophy is to make time for the important things in life. Everything else will find a way to fit in.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Markets

Not much this week.

Cutting Block Press
Butcher Shop Quartet: Volume 2

For BSQ2, we’ll be reading original, unpublished Novellas of between 15,000 and 40,000 words in length. Please Query for longer works. No simultaneous submissions. No multiple submissions. Each work must be accompanied by a separate synopsis of 250 to 1,000 words, describing the story in full. All submissions will be reviewed by at least one editor, but a senior editor will read every synopsis. Those submissions which reach our short list will be read in full by a senior editor. Only submissions e-mailed to the address below will be considered. Failure to follow the guidelines may result in a submission being rejected without being read.

Submissions deadline is January 31 2008, with publication scheduled during the first half of 2008. A provisional response to your submission should be expected from us within 120 days of receipt.

Payment to authors is 1.5 cents per word, with one contributor’s copy. Well-published authors of note whose work is accepted are encouraged to negotiate payment, as professional rates will be considered.

*****

Life in the USA Essay Contest

Entry Fee: None

Contest will end either June 30, 2008 or on the publication of 100 new articles, whichever comes later. At the close of the contest, an independent panel of judges will choose the best articles based on quality of writing and relevance to an understanding of American life.

A first prize of $500 will be awarded, plus five $100 second place prizes. Individual writers may win at most a single prize, the highest for which they are chosen by the panel. Life In The USA needs sections and articles on any area of American life that could use some explaining to someone coming from another country or culture (or to a young person just starting out). We need articles explaining the part business and civic associations, service clubs, charities, and other organizations play in American life. We could also use articles explaining American geographical regions, major cities, and industries.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Mini Movie Reviews

At the Movies: Enchanted

Enchanted was great! A very cute movie touching on everything you ever remembered about fairytales. It was a wonderful feel-good movie for the whole family. So refreshing. There were several laugh out loud moments and you just breathe this sigh of contentment at the end.

This was much better than Stardust in my opinion. Stardust was clever in spots, but it tried too hard overall. Enchanted was fresh, clever and remarkably logical. Highly recommended.

Rented: Transformers and Ratatouille

Transformers: SF Fantasy best suited for pre-teen boys. You can't look at this movie too closely. The plot holes are big enough to fly an airplane through it. The special effects were fluid and convincing though.

Ratatouille: Slow, predictable--but killer animation. Those artists are gods! The subtle details were awesome. Disney really does its homework. Aside from the weak story, artists might like to have this movie in the video library for reference alone.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fun Links

Links to occupy your non-existent free time.

One is addictive---but does a good thing.
One is philosophical.
And one is just to make you annoying when the conversation turns to US politics.

Enjoy.

Free Rice

What mythological creature are you?

Political quiz

Friday, November 23, 2007

Spry Old Girls

While the rest of the US watched football yesterday, I spent a few minutes catching the national dog show. The Australian Shepherd won best in show! I love that dog!

While I've never been one to choose a pet because of his pedigree, there are certain breeds I prefer over others. I like dogs that serve a purpose. Acting the part of rugs or statuary won't do. I like dogs that are energetic, intelligent and independent.

Picking the right dog means knowing your own personality. I am an energetic person, so obviously a lethargic dog wouldn't be right for me. I expect my animals to understand me intuitively, so I want a dog that is fairly intelligent and capable of independent thought.

My Aussie is my sweetheart. She is old and frail, but fierce in her independence and stubborn as I am. I thought I was going to lose her once when she suffered a spinal cord injury but she wasn't going to give up anymore than I was. It's hard for her to negotiate stairs anymore, but she'll stoically climb those stairs just to be with me when I'm writing. She is my shadow.

In her prime, we would run like the wind, rounding up big birds, pigs and other assorted farm animals. She was a wonder to watch. I never had to teach her to herd. She knew her job instinctively.

And we were such a good team! Chelly would stare down any unruly animal and she was fearless even with the more dangerous male rheas. She wasn't about to take any guff from them.

Today, she's retired and spends most of her time sleeping, but I can still see the gleam in her eye when I take her for walks and the little sprint in her step when she spies an animal needing to be corralled.

*****
Speaking of spry old girls, we might be going to Chicago in August '08. My mother is celebrating a milestone birthday and my sisters thought it would be nice if we did something extra special.

Greg and I haven't been back to Chicago since my dad died several years ago. It'll be nice to visit for a happier occasion. Plus we get to eat at all our favorite hangouts. Chicago has the best food in the world! I'm glad I don't live there anymore; I'd never fit through a doorway.

I don't know how long we'll be up there, but it won't be nearly enough time. I am going to try to pack in as many sights and friends as I can.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thanksgiving 2007

In the US we celebrate Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November. A time for feasting, visiting and remembering our friends and family.

I am by nature a very grateful person. My parents taught us to be grateful for the good things in our lives, but even more so for the bad things, because obstacles are what make us stronger.

So today, I am thankful for my parents and their valuable lessons, my sisters and brothers who keep the family whole, and for Greg who keeps me whole. I'm grateful for my mutant dogs who remind me that all creatures are precious.

My friends, those I see regularly and those I've never met in the flesh have a special place in my heart. I don't make friends flippantly. My friendships are cut in stone, and I treasure each person for including me in their lives because I know a true friend is a gift.

My crit partners, who are also my friends, hold an even more cherished position. They catch my writing flaws and selflessly slap the silly out of me to make me a better writer. Because of you, I have a contract this year.

Whether it's a holiday you celebrate in your country or not, I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. If you read this blog, consider yourself welcome and appreciated.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Smartest Mouse in the World

Most of you know I usually blog about writing during the week, but hey, it's a holiday week so I'm going to cheat and post my mouse story.

My friend, Pamela gave me the idea when she blogged about her mouse story.

To be fair, this isn't really my story. It's Greg's. I married him for more than his muscular buttocks, you know. He's always good for a story. Here's one.

Greg works shift at a chemical plant. Many years ago while at work, several of the men became nodding acquaintances with a little gray mouse that would methodically stop by at 2am every morning to see what they had for dinner.

This went on for weeks and all the guys became fond of "Mickey". Well, Mickey made the mistake one day of running across the feet of the plant secretary.

Martha was not amused and she insisted that they murdalize that mouse.

The plant manager ordered traps to be set. Yet every night each one of those traps were tripped with nary a mouse tail. Everyone was convinced that this was the smartest mouse in the world.

Little did they know that Greg (who by now was feeding that mouse by hand) was tripping the traps so Mickey wouldn't die a squishy death.

Well…one day a new trap was set that Greg didn't know about. He was sitting in his office when he heard, SNAP! He winced and went around to where he heard the steel jaws of death smash down.

Tragically, Mickey had gone to that cheese heaven in the sky.

Greg grieved for the little guy, then did the only thing he could think of to honor a legend. He Xeroxed multiple copies of dead Mickey and put a copy in each of the traps. Mickey then received a hero's burial.


****Mickey, you are remembered.****

Monday, November 19, 2007

Markets

Enspiren Publishing

An e-publisher for short stories and novels. Query through their online system.

*****

Cat Fancy

PAY: $200 - $400

A consumer magazine dedicated to cat care for the responsible owner. Before submitting any materials, read several issues to acquaint yourself with the type of material we use. Our magazine is available at many pet stores, bookstores and other places magazines are sold. Each month, we try to provide our readers a mix of informative articles dealing with feline health, nutrition, grooming, behavior and training, as well as special interest articles on cat-related events, hobbies, entertainment or crafts. Breeders, cat-show judges and other experts write our monthly breed profiles, which we assign well in advance. We assign medical features to veterinarians or other health experts. Length: 1,200-1,500 words.

*****

WHY, USA

A new ezine for work-at-homers. Looking for a good freelance writers to cover topics that bridge work, home and wellness-related issues. Pay: $50 for features stories and $25 for department stories. Writer's guidelines are under Menu.

*****

Parabola is a quarterly journal devoted to the exploration of the quest for meaning as it is expressed in the world's myths, symbols, and religious traditions, with particular emphasis on the relationship between this store of wisdom and our modern life.Each issue of Parabola is organized around a theme. Examples of themes we have explored in the past include Rites of Passage, Sacred Space, The Child, Ceremonies, Addiction, The Sense of Humor, Hospitality, The Hunter, The Stranger, and Prayer & Meditation.

*****

On the Premises

Stories published in On The Premises are winning entries in contests that are held every four months. Each contest challenges writers to produce a great story based on a broad premise that our editors supply as part of the contest.

On The Premises aims to promote newer and/or relatively unknown writers who can write what we feel are creative, compelling stories told in effective, uncluttered, and evocative prose. Entrants pay no fees, and winners receive cash prizes in addition to exposure through publication.

First prize for 2008 onward is US $140.

*****

Anthologies
These do not pay well, but if you're looking for clips and exposure, check them out.

Warrior Wise Woman

Simian Publishing

DarkHart Press

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Ready for a Break

I'm taking a break from my newsletter duties while waiting for the last bits of information to reach me. With any luck we should get it out early so people have something to peruse over the upcoming holidays.

I am so ready for a break. Generally, I time my vacations so that most of it can be taken toward the end of the year, but this year too many unforeseen incidents ate up a good hunk of my time off.

There were major expenses this year; like the ceiling, the air conditioner, the fence and of course my surgery. But all that's behind us. I am really looking forward to 2008. I turned the corner in my writing career earlier than I anticipated so I'm raring to see what I can accomplish for next year.

*****

Thanksgiving is coming up in the US. Greg won't be here until very late on Thursday, so I offered to help one of my friends throw her Thanksgiving spread. She has more than a dozen people showing up so she can use an extra pair of hands. My friend is one of "those" people. It's like walking into a Martha Stewart dinner party.

I'm not that fussy when I entertain, but I marvel at people who can throw an elegant spread. It's like entering a fairy tale. My friend transforms her home into something you see in those fancy magazines and her dinner table would make Martha Stewart flush with pride. I may have to take a picture of her table just to prove it.

Anyway, I'll be the help for that night and feast with her family and friends. Greg's feast will come the next day after he's rested. This year we will do rib roast and asparagus and save the turkey for Christmas.

The best part though, is that I will be home with those I love. That's the perfect Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Around the Blogosphere

WOW! Women on Writing is publishing my article on networking. It should appear in next month's issue. I'll let you know when it's out.

*****

Also, let me introduce a new blog on my blogroll, Writing on the Wall. This is a great blog where five editors answer your editing questions and discuss process. Heather Moore, who I've mentioned before with her Out of Jerusalem series is one of the editors on this forum. Go over and check it out. Heather also has her own author blog here.

*****

I am busy putting together next month's newsletter for OWW. I'm thrilled that we have tons of publication announcements this go round. There's nothing like seeing your peers succeed. And for once I can add something too. We also have a new author interview, but you'll have to tune in to find out who it is.

If you haven't already done so, check out this month's OWW newsletter and read the interview I did with Joshua Palmatier, author of The Cracked Throne and The Skewed Throne.

As an added bonus, go to Joshua's blog and enter his contest. If you blog about the three items listed you'll be in the running for a free copy of The Vacant Throne, coming out in January 2008. There's no easier way to win. What are you waiting for? Go!! Win a book! Read the excerpts here.

I'm taking myself out of the running, so go on over there and play in my stead.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Writing News!

I've been holding this in for so long I thought I would burst, but now that I've signed on the dotted line I can announce that Samhain Publishing will be publishing my fantasy novel, Touch Of Fire.

I am so excited, and…umm…shocked! LOL.

When I decided to take up fiction writing, I gave myself seven years to be properly published. What with a full time job and traveling I couldn't see it happening any sooner than that. But the day I was offered the contract, I looked at the calendar and realized it was three years almost to the day from when I started this journey. How's that for planning?

Nonetheless, my road took the scenic route because I had so MUCH to learn about fiction. I absorbed every bit of information, critique and workshop training until it was fused with my DNA.

None of this would have been possible without the help of some very patient and tough critique partners. I love you guys. You've been that pointy stick in my back that kept me going when all I could write was crap. Thank you.

So for at least one moment, I'll bask in that soft cerulean glow of accomplishment.

…okay, that was long enough. Back to work.

More news as it develops.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Markets

Samhain Publishing

Call for Submissions: Psychic powers anthology

From Anne Scott:
I’d like to announce an open call for submissions for a new anthology. This psychic powers anthology will consist of three to four novellas to be released individually as ebooks for release November 2008 and combined into one print title for release November 2009.

I am open to any genre, setting and heat level. But the central premise MUST involve psychic powers. These psychic powers can be underlain by magic or science or both. A few examples would be: telepathy, telekinesis, precognition and mind control. The anthology is certainly not limited to these.

Submissions should be 20,000 to 30,000 words in length.To submit, please include the full manuscript (of 20,000 to 30,000 words) with a comprehensive 2-3 page synopsis. Also include a letter of introduction/query letter and tell me a little about yourself.

Submissions are open until January 13, 2008, and final decision will be made by February 3. Submissions should be sent to editor@samhainpublishing.com and please put Psychic Powers Anthology Submission in the subject line.

*****

Heroes Anthology

Literary Cottage is compiling a new anthology series for Adams Media featuring uplifting, original, true stories about the experiences and relationships that inspired and enriched our lives, namely those with our mothers, our fathers, and our teachers (also mother figures, father figures, and mentors). These true, original slice-of-life stories will be written by people from all walks of life and will provide unique personal insights into powerful universal truths, as well as honor the "everyday hero" in their lives. Each anthology in the series will be divided to highlight the variety of ways real life mothers, teachers, and fathers go beyond the call of duty to heroism.

Each Hero anthology will include a balanced mix of true stories of varied themes, such as:

• Extraordinary achievements and experiences of real life, ordinary teachers, mothers, and fathers.
• True life-changing, life-affirming, or life-defining experiences and relationships.
• Epiphany, synchronicity, serendipity.
• Finding/giving comfort in difficult times.
• Triumph over tragedy; overcoming adversity or challenges.
• Life's blessings and miracles, big and small.
• Finding the silver lining in a dark cloud; turning lemons into lemonade.
• Relationships and experiences that bring hope, understanding, healing.
• Catalysts for and examples of positive change; acts of kindness and compassion.

Word Limit: 850 - 1400 words.
Stories must be original, true, uplifting, poignant, heartwarming, and/or humorous, and in English. The intended audience is mainstream adult readers.

*****

Something Wicked

We are always open to submissions of new science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories. Stories should be over 2,000 words and up to about 10,000 words in length. We like intelligent, original stories with a supernatural or fantastical flavour. We pay 5 cents/word for published stories between 2,000 - 5,000 words and R300 for stories over 5,000 words.

*****

Wet Ink

We publish fiction (including genre fiction), creative non-fiction, poetry, memoir, essays and opinion pieces. The one thing we look for is high quality.

Pays $50 for poetry, $50 for prose under 1,500 words and $100 for prose over 1,500 words.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Creature Catalog

The other day on Fang, Fur & Fey they had a post on paranormal creatures you don't see much in books. I was pleased to see I had a couple of them in mine.

In the first book, Touch of Fire, we have the Elemental mages with a cameo by a banshee. In my current wip, I do have werewolves, but there are also werehyenas, a couple of ghosts, some man-bats and the walking dead. I'm covering all my bases. lol

Someone on FFF mentioned hellhounds. Smacks self on forehead. I have my very own hellhound sleeping on the couch right now! I need to write a story about him. Maybe a short story. Ooh…maybe a funny story. …After I finish this one.

Poor Tank is looking up at me right now and praying. Lord, don't let that crazy woman write about me.

Zombies: That word always struck me as being rather modern in tone. 1871 seems to be its first mention of reference. Since my wip is a historical, I need to get this right. The word they used back in the 16th century for the walking dead was ghoul. So no zombies in my book. They are ghouls. Fetid, flesh rotting ghouls. Mmm…yummy.

By the way, on FFF, they are having prize giveaways in honor of their first birthday. Click on the link on the left hand side of the page to enter.

Addendum: I've been mulling over the man-bat creatures. I need them capable of flight, but I've thus far refused to call them bats or vampires because really, I've had my fill of that trope.

I had decided (after more research) that I was going to make up a name for these creatures. But just now I looked up and saw one of my gargoyle statuettes, and I said, YES. That's it. They'll be gargoyles, which also fits in perfectly with the story.

Sanity saved for one more day.

Sheesh...sometimes the answer is right in front of you. Like today.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Just my Luck

I am incredibly lucky sometimes, even in the most unlucky situations.

First thing yesterday morning I got a rejection from an agent. Not so lucky, say you? Well, not only did she take the time to send me a personal email, she said I had a good book on my hands and called my writing great. Her only concern was that she didn't think she could sell that particular story to NY. The ironic thing is that one of my CPs foresaw this before I pitched the story.

Anyway, my friend called me on the phone and immediately made me feel better. (Despite the fact that she had enough on her shoulders.) She reminded me that I got the validation I wanted from this agent. And now I also know my work has reached that next critical tier. My job now is not to lose momentum and try NY with something else.

By the way, the agent wrote again and said she'd love to see something else from me. Wowsa!

My next unlucky venture is when I tried to pitch an idea to a HUGE writing organization for their next conference. I got back a perfunctory email telling me I missed the deadline. I thanked the lady politely, and closed by telling her what my idea was.

She immediately wrote me back. If I can send her a proposal by today she'll put my request before the board. Who knows if they'll go for it, but it was worth a shot and I am so grateful that nice lady offered to give me a second chance.

My last lucky break was that I got paid for a couple of writing gigs yesterday and today I will send out invoices for two more.

Life is not bad. Not bad at all.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Animation Computation

Because artists are not well people, and now I have the proof to show you.

Go here. It took the artist, Alan Becker, three long months to build this. If you know anything about animation, you'll appreciate all the subtle details. You da man, Alan. Great job!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Go Here

After much (friendly) arm twisting, my friend daw has acquiesced to writing a short summary on how she edits. This is good stuff, people. I've personally read the before and after of her novels and I can tell you honestly that this lady knows how to make a revision sing.

Go check out her blog.

Thank you, Daw!

The Proverbial Dead Horse

Have you ever been accused of beating a dead horse inside a narrative?

Most of us have at some point in our careers.

It happens most often when we're not sure we got our point across the first time. I imagine we are rarely aware of our transgressions or we wouldn't have repeated our points, but good critters usually pick it up.

How do you recognize regurgitation?

This is where your editing skills come to the forefront. I think it's better to be an excellent editor with a decent base story than a good writer with poor editing skills because someone with exceptional rewriting skills can transform a novel, while a fair writer who is in love with his/her words will always run in place.

I've talked about how I edit in past posts, and I might revisit that again in the future. One of my CPs is a heck of a rewriter. I would love it if she discussed how she edits her novels on her blog. (Hint, hint, Daw.)

Anyway, the first step to identifying reruns is reading your work with fresh eyes. My favorite trick is to read isolated scenes out of order.

If I isolate the scenes, I can distinguish (even with my pathetic memory) whether it's a topic that's been brought up before--or after. Sometimes the description is better in a later scene--no doubt, my brain had come up with better ways to say the same thing. But sometimes it's just a hammer blow on pudding, throwing up the same dialog/narrative with no impact on strengthening the story.

If I said it better later, I expunge that scene from where it was and transfer some of the juicier bits to where I first introduced the topic.

Case in point:
In my current wip, I have a scene where we learn a nineteen year old pirate is a virgin (unwilling to remain so, though she is). It's important I don't nag on that. I want to make it a point in the story, but not THE point. Since it's a historical, virginity is highly valued in that era, enforced by fathers and brothers and religion, but not always successfully--human nature being what it is.

I realized walking into this project that the subject of her chastity will come up from several pov characters so I have to pay particular attention that I'm not dredging up an equine corpse with my teeth.

When her virginity comes up, I have to make sure I'm saying something new about it each time. The reader learns she's a virgin in the first chapter. Move on. In a subsequent chapter, we learn she's remained a virgin not through force (like a chastity belt) but for other reasons. Again, I move on. In another chapter, I might mention that she's just as sexually needy as any other average teenager, though still mired in the mores of the day.

Tell the reader only what he needs to know. Tell him only once. You can reinforce the concept with corroborating information, but there's no need to retread that tire if it's already got some rubber on the ground.

Your horses will thank you.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Markets

Markets today...You thought I forgot, didn't ya?

Hope you guys are still voting for my blog over at Fiction Addiction. The contest ends November 12. Here's the link: http://fictionaddiction.net/vote.html

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Ziplock Contest

Do you have a creative way that you use Ziploc® Brand Bags and Containers? Tell us about your unique everyday solution in 100 words or less and you could win the $25,000 Kitchen Makeover Grand Prize! It's easy to enter. Simply enter online and you could be the Grand Prize winner!

So it's not really a writing contest---but it has a great prize!

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The Cynic Online Magazine Not So Cynical Christmas Contest

Entry fee: None Prizes:
Long Works- First Place $100, Second Place $50, Third Place $25
Short Works- First Place $50, Second Place (2 winners) $25

Open to those living in the United States, Canada, or Europe who are 16 years of age or older and possess a valid email address.
Deadline: November 15, 2007.

Entries will be judged on the talent of the writer who created the work and on the ability of the work to portray an optimistic holiday message. The opinion of what an "optimistic holiday message" is up to each judge's discretion. (Extra kudos to those that can make the judges misty-eyed).

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This one doesn't pay much, but you have to love the title.

Necrotic Tissue

Payment: Between $10-$25 and a free Necrotic Tissue T-Shirt for all accepted works.

For now, open in the month of November and January for submissions. Any cross over genres with a horror element will be considered. Dark humor that is done well is always appreciated.

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Another anthology with a great title!

Bad-A$$ Faeries 2: Just Plain Bad

Premise: Urban Fantasy stories about tough faeries. Basically in professions or with interests that you would least likely expect faeries to be in. For this volume a faerie must be the antagonist. In other words, both bad-a$$ and bad. This is not to say there can't be good faeries in the story as well. (for those that aren't sure what constitutes urban fantasy, it is a story in a modern setting with fantasy elements).

Word Count: approximately 5000 to 7000 words
Payment: One comp copy per author and a pro rata portion of $1.25 each book sold
Deadline: November 30, 2007

Ideas to Avoid: (Used in first volume) Biker Faeries, mob faeries, detective faeries, ghetto faeries, assassin faeries, ossuary faeries, cowboy faeries, indian faeries, street urchin faeries, gang faeries.

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Cry Havoc - Stories of Conflict Between Men, Monsters, and Machines

Premise: collection is broken into section: Pure Fantasy (Men vs. Monsters, no tech), Historic Fantasy (any combination of the three, primitive tech (like Da Vinci or such), Urban Fantasy (any combination of the three, modern-day tech), Soft Sci Fi (any combination of the three, future projection tech based on current design or theory), and Hard Sci Fi (Men vs. Machines, anything you can imagine, even if the science doesn't yet support it)

Word Count: approximately 5000 to 7000 words
Payment: One comp copy per author and a pro rata portion of $1.00 each book sold
Deadline: November 30, 2007

Monday, November 5, 2007

Focus & Research

Holy, moley! I feel like I've had a big weight lifted off me. I finally re-completed the outline for my current wip (to my satisfaction). It was really bugging me. I had the first seven chapters going well, and had a fair idea how it was going to end, but it was starting to unravel. Not good. I think the worst thing a writer can do is lose her focus. If you can't steer the reader confidently through your story, the reader loses faith in you...and eventually puts the book down.

As a reader I want to believe the author knows what he's doing. Don't dazzle me with long winded narrative and fluffy clouds. Instead, show me there's a purpose to your story.

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I've mentioned before that I am a research whore. It's a terrible affliction and easily transmitted through the ether.

One reason my current wip is taking longer is because it's been necessary to do more research than usual. I have doomed myself by writing a paranormal historical. What was I thinking?

My friend, Mike has been helping me with some of the historical details. I've discovered that my 16th century European history is sorely lacking. Mike has been good enough to give me some of the more subtle details of that particular era, things my normal American education didn't cover.

Herein lies the great disappointment with research. I've acquired all this neat information about the era, knowing full well only a smidgen of it will appear within the narrative.

Nonetheless, understanding the background is essential to writing with confidence, even if the bulk of that information remains in your mental warehouse. Sadly, my mental warehouse requires that I archive this information in computer files. My warehouse doors are hanging by one hinge and all the windows have had rocks thrown through them. In other words, I can't remember squat.

In my last novel, I had a brief mention of ale and asked one of my other CPs for confirmation that the small reference was correct. I knew I was asking the right person because she had done a TON of research on the subject. I was thrilled for the chance to pick her brain.

Never underestimate your network of peers. They can be a treasure trove of information who can also supply you with beaucoup resources.

Since my wip involves pirates, (argh!) I also bought a YA picture book on the buccaneers called appropriately, "Pirates". YA books are great for research because they assume you don't know anything about the subject and spoon feed you a lot of complex information in easy to digest bites. This book also has a short but neat glossary in the back, a list of other resources, and beautiful illustrations. I liked it for the art alone. (nice job!)

Another aspect of research, particularly when you're writing fantasy is knowing when to stray from accepted standards.

For example, the paranormal element in this book is the werewolf. I've read a smattering of different werewolf stories and studied the various legends. While I'll be using some elements recognizable in werewolf lore, I will definitely create new aspects to their mythos as well. If I've done my homework well, I think this will produce a rich tapestry for the background of this world.

That's the plan, anyway.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

A Leftist

I am exercising my right---or rather my left today. I am naturally left handed, forced into the right by some well meaning nuns.

To compensate, I became ambidextrous. Decades of living in a right handed world forced me to write only right handed.

I'm told I have very nice handwriting, but I grip my pen like some poor unfortunate with palsy. The sight of me writing long hand for any length of time looks painful. And it is. Hard as I tried I could never learn to hold my writing tools like a normal person. Yet, I can do so naturally with my left. Go figure.

My brain fights me every chance it gets. Despite the fact that I have surrendered to a right handed world, I still start everything with my left. When I climb stairs, I start with the left foot. When I open doors, it's the left hand---or the right hand on a left hand door.

One of my painting professors used to scratch his head in disbelief because I would paint with my right hand but I would keep my palette on my left. ---it's not been an easy life.

Anyway, my right hand has been over exercised lately and it finally gave out on me. So today, my mouse is under my left hand, while I baby my right.

I'm okay flipping back and forth, but conditioning insists that my mouse should be on my right. I have to look down at my desk every so often to remind me that it changed addresses.

I'm told teachers don't force children to be right handed anymore. That's good and bad. I don't resent the nuns forcing me to be right handed. While it's been a painful process---especially when that wooden ruler came out, it's nice to have other options when your regular hand is out of commission.

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Did garage sales this morning and nearly came home with a dog. (Don't faint, Greg)

This couple had a little Dachshund and of course I had to talk to him first. When I finished my browsing, I didn't realize the little guy followed me back to my car. I see the wife running after me and screaming the dog's name. I look down and there he was, wagging his tail.

"Honest, lady. He followed me home."

Friday, November 2, 2007

Pitching with Purpose

I love to read other people's novel pitches because it forces me to analyze what my consumer brain finds interesting and what it doesn't.

There are certain things that will automatically get my attention. First on the list would be subject matter. I have no interest in people suffering from depression, child molesters, or flakey women who are lead characters. My eyes glaze over every time. But I will read even a poor pitch if it's in a historical setting, involves mysticism, or has smarter than average protagonists and antagonists in it.

One of my CPs worried that her book might not grab an agent/editor's attention, but in her case it's more a law of averages. The premise is good. The writing is solid. At this point in her career, it's a matter of finding an agent who loves it. My CP has a unique concept so I think she has a better than average chance in the market.

And that brings up another important aspect of a good pitch. Much as you love your story, if there's nothing particularly unique about it, save your stamps. I know that sounds harsh, but put yourself in the shoes of the reading public. I don't want to read what's been done before. Do you?

If you want me to plop down x-amount of dollars for a book you have to make it worth my while. You must mesmerize me with your originality and page turning plot.

It helps to be a broad spectrum reader so you know what is being written now. I made a mistake in the beginning of my career by reading older work with premises that were no longer being bought in today's market. Once I started reading newer stuff---particularly books from newer writers, I had a better handle on what agents and editors were looking for.

You might ask why I singled out newer writers as opposed to established authors. Simple. Veteran authors have a following. Their books will sell even if their work is sub par. But newly published writers have something to prove. Their writing (in general) tends to be crisper, more energetic and more current than their established peers. I think that in itself makes them better role models.

Pitching is hard. No doubt about it. It boils down to a three-sentence commercial about your story. Does that sound crass? Hmm…did you think it was crass when you bought a book based on a terrific back cover blurb?

Same concept. Now go forth and do good.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Welcome to OWW

Recently, I accepted the position of newsletter editor for OWW. The publisher and I went back and forth on how the newsletter should look. My main focus was to make it easier to read.

The best thing about the new newsletter is that we can now add photos. That's always a nice touch. We also added new departments, such as interviews and markets. I hope to make those regular columns.

You can view the newsletter whether you're an OWW member or not. Go here. Click on the tan bar at the top titled: Newsletter/e-groups. It'll take you to a new page where you can go to "Current Newsletter".

If you would, please email me or Ellen and let us know what you think of the newsletter (good or bad) and if you have any suggestions for improvement. I'd really appreciate the feedback so please write in!

OWW is a writing workshop specifically geared for SFF and Horror. It's a great place to find crit partners of every skill level who really appreciate speculative fiction.

I am back on the shop and will return to critting as soon as I can get November out of the way. I'll probably only review short stories because I don't have time for lengthier commitments.

---the chances of me posting something of my own? Probably nil. So if I crit you, return the favor by reviewing someone else. Share the luv.