Sorry I haven't been posting in a while. Life has been very busy for me. You all know I went to Cancun. I had a good time. The weather was pretty decent, My best friend got married and not once did I get sick! I did get some sun rash, but it went away when the sun did. Imagine that.
This is my favorite photo of Tulum an Ancient Mayan Ruin. If you look real close you can see the wood beam in the door frame. They say it is origional to the structure. Sometimes I am a little cynical. I want them to prove it to me, but on this I suppose I will have to take our tour guides word.
Christmas was good. Got to spend it with family. Since then I've been doing major house cleaning. Guess you could say I've been getting rid of extra baggage so that I could start the new year fresh. The gym and I are falling in love. I actually just got back from a workout and couldn't feel better. I'm using the extra energy to work on my novel. I have stuff that people can actually look at now. Whoopee! I also have started some preliminary ideas for a second novel. This one is not urban fantasy, it's not even in the genre, but the story came to me and I am eager to give it a shot. We'll see what happens. If nothing else it will be good practice. I will be able to see if I can put the second one together faster than the first.
I wish you all a very happy new year. I don't know that I will continue to send out email reminders each time I post. I am looking into other ways to contact people. I have set up the RSS Feed which you can subscribe to. Comments or suggestions on the topic are welome.
Sorry. I am not blogging right now. I'm in Cancun, or will be in less than 48 wonderful hours. Don't worry. I'll think about you.
It's time to play!
How to be Creative http://www.gapingvoid.com/Moveable_Type/archives/000932.html
1. Ignore everybody.
2. The idea doesn't have to be big. It just has to change the world.
3. Put the hours in.
4. If your biz plan depends on you suddenly being "discovered" by some big shot, your plan will probably fail.
5. You are responsible for your own experience.
6. Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.
7. Keep your day job.
8. Companies that squelch creativity can no longer compete with companies that champion creativity.
9. Everybody has their own private Mount Everest they were put on this earth to climb.
10. The more talented somebody is, the less they need the props.
11. Don't try to stand out from the crowd; avoid crowds altogether.
12. If you accept the pain, it cannot hurt you.
13. Never compare your inside with somebody else's outside.
14. Dying young is overrated.
15. The most important thing a creative person can learn professionally is where to draw the red line that separates what you are willing to do, and what you are not.
16. The world is changing.
17. Merit can be bought. Passion can't.
18. Avoid the Watercooler Gang.
19. Sing in your own voice.
20. The choice of media is irrelevant.
21. Selling out is harder than it looks.
22. Nobody cares. Do it for yourself.
23. Worrying about "Commercial vs. Artistic" is a complete waste of time.
24. Don?t worry about finding inspiration. It comes eventually.
25. You have to find your own schtick.
26. Write from the heart.
27. The best way to get approval is not to need it.
28. Power is never given. Power is taken.
29. Whatever choice you make, The Devil gets his due eventually.
30. The hardest part of being creative is getting used to it.
31. Remain frugal.
The Countdown Begins....
On Friday I was really stressed out. I let it creep over into the weekend and I shouldn't have, but sometimes you can't help it. Then today I remembered that God doesn't put you in situations that you can't handle. I know you're probably surprised to hear that coming out of my mouth. I don't even go to church regularly. But I strongly, fervently believe that everything happens for a reason. Every single time I have suffered something good has come out of it. Even the scars that I still carry, they make me the compassionate, intelligent and witty person that I am. People who have never fallen have never tried. Life is about getting bruises. Love is about getting hurt.
So today I had lunch with someone who reminded me just how lucky I am. Frederick is a young man from Rwanda. Same age as me he survived genocide, lost both of his arms and lived on the streets. Now he is a painter, a photographer, a teacher, the founder of an international non-profit organization (NGO) and big brother. He tells me that sometimes he gets nervous about having so much responsibility, but if he doesn't do it, who will. He believes in giving back. He was able to come to the US and get Prosthetics in 2002. Not everyone in his country is as lucky. He teaches individuals with disabilities to become a functioning part of society. He brings them off the streets, provides food and shelter, and most importantly an education.
Frederick talks about the genocide in Rwanda. He speaks of the movie Hotel Rwanda and says that it is not truth, that in reality, what happened was more violent, more horrible than anything they could show. He asked me how I felt when I saw it. My answer? Angry, very, very angry. I was angry because I had no real idea what was going on at the time. I was embarrassed that we as a country didn’t do more to aid them. I was 12/13 and was ignorant to things like that, living in a very sheltered world. The fact that it was almost ten years later before I even learned about it, angered me more. Frederick and I were the same age. He should not have had to endure the things that he has. He should not have had to grow up so fast.
I sat with Frederick and remembered that just as he has been given a gift and is meant to do certain things. So am I. It is foolish to believe that it will be easy. Just like everything else in life, if it were easy, we wouldn't bother. I've always been two steps ahead, too focused on the next phase to enjoy the one I'm in. Maybe it's time I focused on the now and what I can to today.
I have other goals too. I do 500 words a day. It may not seem like much, but if you do 500 words a day you can have two 90,000 word manuscripts completed by the end of the year. That is progress. Of course, it is not always good. That doesn’t include time for revisions, editing etc. On a good day, I crank right past that 500 word limit, but on a bad day…well, sometimes it is just enough to know that I sat down at the computer. Progress is progress.
Then there is my reading. I have so many books on my shelves that I need to dive into. I put reading on hold while I was trying to crank out the last half of my novel. It was too distracting and sometimes my characters and tone will bleed into the books that I am reading. I have a much harder time finding my own voice. So now I get to read! I read Charlaine Harris’s latest novel. Not my favorite. Right now I am reading a novel by a Japanese author. I will post the name and title later, because I cannot remember it off the top of my head.
But that is not all I am doing. I have an assignment that I must complete after finishing each book. I am doing sample query letters. I am a little nervous about it. They are not easy to write, but I need the practice. I can’t very well right 50 novels so that I can practice writing 50 queries. I have yet to decide if I will do the synopsis as well.
One busy bee. That is what I am.
The entire magazine is about excellence and people who have done great things. But this article in particular was fascinating. I have read similar articles researching this very phenomenon. What makes certain people great? Is it talent or practice? Is it something you are simply born with or can anyone become successful? For point of clarification here, I am not talking successful as in, “makes a decent amount of money, lives in a nice home and drives a nice car”. I’m talking household name successful. What makes a Michael Jordan, a Tiger Woods, and a Martha Stewart (Criminal record excluded)? How does one business: Microsoft, Apple, Wal-Mart…become great and another one file for bankruptcy?
I have always been fascinated with leadership, and for the businesses I believe the top executive plays a huge role. So what makes those leaders, those individuals better at business than others? What leads to greatness?
The article starts by looking at the ten year rule, reporting that 99% of the time case studies will show that the… bestselling author, computer guru, business tycoon, Olympic athlete—pick your favorite—had at minimum 10 years of dedicated practice (a.k.a. hard work) prior to becoming successful. It’s the difference between being good at something, and being great.
The rule even holds true in pop culture. Pick a celebrity, a rock star, an actress…Jennifer Lopez. She was acting in Selena…she was a back up dancer for Janet Jackson, she was a choreographer and dancer on In Living Color…all before she had her first album come out started making multimillion dollar movies and became the infamous j-lo. Go back even farther…she talks about taking dance lesson every day, being poor and never giving up on her dream. It all equals 10 plus years.
Another example is Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey. Suddenly he’s everywhere, adorning the covers of Cosmo and TV guide. Just say McDreamy and people know who you’re talking about. But his credits go back to 1985. Dempsey’s appeared in numerous TV movies, sitcoms and dramas (The Practice and Will & Grace), and even some popular films like Scream 3 (2000), and Sweet Home Alabama (2002). That’s ten plus years.
Even the young ones have paid their dues. Tiger Woods was a toddler when he started to play golf. Pop Stars Brittney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Justin Timberlake were all paid entertainers before hitting puberty. Some will argue that it was their innate talent that allowed them to master their craft so early. But talent alone cannot be enough. If any one of these people had given up before the 10 year mark, they would not be famous. Those who do seem to sprout up out of no where…look ten years into the future…do you even remember their names? This is the difference between a one hit wonder, an average or good person getting their seven seconds of fame and true greatness.
The other good point the article makes is that time is not enough. Remember the old saying, “practice makes perfect,”? This is perhaps the most interesting of everything studies on greatness have found. People who achieve greatness, strive for continual improvement. This improvement can only be accomplished by what they call deliberate practice. That means very specific goals, repetition, and evaluation. It means constantly pushing yourself to do more than what you think you are capable of doing. It is the same mentality that you use in fitness training, which I use in the gym. You have a set number of workouts. If you miss one, you feel it. So you have to do it every day, three times a week…there has to be a schedule. You do cardio; you lift weights, all with specific and measurable goals in mind. If you never increase the intensity of your workouts, you never improve. If I can jog three miles a day but come to the gym and walk on the treadmill for 15 minutes, I might as well be sitting at home. The activity is great. It will keep you healthy; it will maintain your weight. But you won’t get faster or stronger doing that. You can’t train for a marathon that way.
This same practice can be applied to a variety of life’s tasks and can help you to continually improve in your career. I like that. It might take a very type A personality to stick to a regimen like this…but CEO, Athlete or Musician isn’t obsessive compulsive about their career? It’s the difference between good…and great.
Speaking of book sales, guess which book is topping the charts! I’ll give you a hint, it’s a children’s book and it is not Harry Potter. The End by Lemony Snicket!! I haven’t read any of the books, I watched the movie that came out…I might even own it, but that is far as my unfortunate experience goes. But these numbers are very impressive. Check out this excerpt from The Book Standard,
“Lemony Snicket kept up his End of the bargain with HarperCollins, which printed an unprecedented 500,000 copies of the final book in his Series of Unfortunate Events: The End stays on top of the Overall Chart for the second consecutive week, moving 149,000 more of those copies. The End leads an encouraging performance from the Top Five, with every one of them—including three gun-ho bestselling authors and one rising political star—selling more than 50,000.”
Do you think this is average sales? Let me just fill you in on the competition.
1. THE END, Lemony Snicket (HarperCollins, Hardcover, 0064410161)
2. THE INNOCENT MAN, John Grisham (Doubleday, Hardcover, 0385517238)
3. FOR ONE MORE DAY, Mitch Albom (Hyperion, Hardcover, 1401303277)
4. THE AUDACITY OF HOPE, Barack Obama (Crown, Hardcover, 0307237699)
5. THE COLLECTORS, David Baldacci (Warner Books, Hardcover, 044653109X)
Barack Obama’s book sold 67,000 copies last week, and fell short to John Grisham’s excursion into Non Fiction. In its first week, The Innocent Man sold 171,000 copies but was still beat out by The End which debuted at 192,000 units.
There was some sort of shooting in Powell. For those of you who don't know where Powell is, it is this old little mile long town just outside of columbus. Mainly little old antique shops and crafty type stores. The speed limit is still 25 and I remember when the freaked out about changing the flashing light to an actual traffic signal. Nothing happens in Powell. I should know, I've lived here forever and a day. It is also about a half a mile from where I work. Aparrently the guy was trying to commit suicide and his family called 911. When the police arrived, he shot at them...and then barricaded himself in the house. Eventually he let his wife and daughter out, but I don't know what happened after that. It's sad. They said he was sick, has had a lot of health problems and was just depressed. Some days can be darker than others I guess. I understand the frustration. It can be hard. I hope he's okay and gets help.
I got a flu shot today. Did you know that you can't be allergic to chickens or eggs?
That's all I got today. Enjoy the Halloween Video!
It was the Halloween Horror Love Fest.
We rented movies. I thought it would be fun to watch a bunch of scary movies tonight especially since I didn't have to be alone. One of the things I miss living solo is knowing someone is near if something happens. Once, over the summer I left my window open in my bedroom (which is on the ground level). It was hot and I had turned the AC off because their was a nice breeze. But I left the blinds up just slightly because they can keep the slight breeze from rolling on through. When I woke up I saw someone starring at me through my window. It scared the crap out of me. I couldn't move, I was stuck to my bed eventhough all I wanted to do was scream. Then I woke up...a second time and realized the first time I was still dreaming. But there is nothing scarier than thinking your awake and waking up again. You get this overwhelming sense of de javu and how do you really know that you aren't still dreaming?
Anyway, dreams like that are why I don't watch ghost hunters after dark. Give me sunlight and I am fine, but creepy things come out at night. I should know. I write about vampires.
So now I have to go play a game...maybe the sims or something. Anything to keep me from thinking about things that go bump in the night.
Happy early Halloween! Maybe tomorrow I will make Halloween cards from my friends at work!
2. The wall
3. The toilet
4. The vending machine
5. The tampon dispenser
6. The ceiling tiles
7. The trash can
8. The recycling bin
9. The trunk of your car
10. The cereal container
11. The printer
12. The copy machine
13. The mailbox
14. The file cabinet
15. The flower vase
(Note: none of the dead mice were actually found in or around the mouse traps!)
Today is quiet. I don’t have any exciting news to share or issues to rant about. It is cold here; there were snowflakes this morning…which is almost unbelievable considering the gorgeous day on Saturday. The BF and I went out to one of the metro parks, “hiking”. He says it is not real hiking because there were paths. I say, there were trees, dirt and hills. That’s close enough. I think I have some good shots of the woods we were in. I will post a few for your viewing pleasure.
Yesterday I was inspired and made pumpkin soup. It was not that great. Relatively easy to make, but very bland. We decided it needed to be sweetened so I added some brown sugar. Perfect. Went along nicely with the cornbread (which was also sweet). Yesterday I had to work. We had a donor event and did a live video feed with some researchers in Churchill, Manitoba. It was pretty cool. They were in a tundra buggy and we could see a polar bear lounging around. It wasn’t all that snowy there…very rocky landscape.
I am still writing…kind of. For those of you who don’t know…I started writing in journals and then transcribing everything on my computer/laptop. The writing is faster if I do it by hand. For some reason I feel less pressure and I can just let the words flow. The white screen can be intimidating. I also get caught up on things like how many words I have done, how many pages I’ve covered etc. This way those distractions aren’t there anymore and I can just write. What it means though, is that I am still typing up the last two chapters. They are long chapters too and it is taking a while. Sometimes it is hard to read my own damn writing! This weekend I found a stand at a garage sale that I can set my journal on…so it makes typing easier. And now that the laptop is working…I have found sitting in bed, watching TV and typing away is a good way to kill time and make some progress.
Last night I watched Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters. James Denton, who plays Mike on DH was interviewed on the radio this morning and he was the nicest guy. He talked about being on set and falling asleep while he was in a coma! He talked about the crazy paparazzi that the girls on the show go through…and even gave a big hint to the sweeps week show….which we kind of already knew…(if you listen to the morning zoo’s celebrity sleaze) but I won’t share it here. Then there is the Brothers & Sisters…I really like this show. Despite the fact that I like Sally Field and Calista Flockhart, I love big families. I love the dynamics and the relationships that evolve, how certain siblings form stronger bonds with others… etc. I like that they aren’t perfect, even though they have a lot of money… The reality I know is that people probably fight harder, forgive less and the parents are completely exhausted…but what can I say.
I am going to move on now to something else…not that I don’t love you all. Just have other stuff that needs to get done.
I just bought new dishes and no one is here to see them. My mother said she would stop over before going to work, but as usual I think she lied. :(
So here they are. Aren't they cute? Now I need to have brunch or something. Make a fancy quiche and fresh squeezed OJ. Ok. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. They are just dishes. It won't make me cook any better, but at least I'll be eating in style.
But take a closer look.
The success of reality shows and game shows is fickle. There are only so many available time slots. The success of Dancing with the Stars is due in large part to not being on at the same time as American Idol. They can share the same audience without having to compete. What makes Dancing with the Stars successful and Skating with Celebrities lame? One was an original concept. One was a hackneyed copy cat of another network’s show. They might both have a following, but not the same kind that American Idol has. And look at shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire? It was so popular that it was on practically everyday of the week. But people get burnt out. Now it comes on at the seven o’clock hour and I only just realized a few weeks ago that those weren’t reruns they were airing.
The critics of this decision make good arguments. The advertisers say they don’t buy time slots, they by programming. It makes sense. People don’t watch TV at 8PM because it is convenient. They make an effort to put their lives on hold to watch Friends. And advertising wants to be able to market specific products to specific people, which means looking at the type of program and the characteristics of the audience. Branding. Another thing that is hard to do with a game show.
The decision of NBC execs is short sighted. NBC blames competition with the internet. I blame their lack of vision, their cut and run attitude and their inability to put together a solid programming. Let’s face it. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is the best show they have in their line up right now. The show can hold its own weight. It has a powerhouse cast, Aaron Sorkin as producer and some of the best damn dialogue on TV today. I would argue that the show is not a success because of its time slot. It could have came on Monday at 8PM. Instead they chose to air it at 10.
Then there are the cable networks and the subscriber channels such as HBO and Showtime. Lets take a minute to look at stations like CW (formerly WB), TNT, USA, Sci-Fi, FX…We are not talking rerun central here. All of these channels have their own primetime programming. And what do you know…it is good. Nip Tuck, 4400, The Closer, Eureka, Seventh Heaven, Gilmore Girls, One Tree Hill, Smallville…all decent shows in their own right, all appealing to diverse audiences…all surviving several successful seasons. Seventh Heaven is the longest running family drama and it is a Christian show on an “non-traditional” network..
The beauty of good shows is their longevity. Some of the best syndicated sitcoms took more than a season or two to become popular. Everybody Loves Raymond was not successful its first year. Their were talks of canceling. But they rode it out and now there are reruns on three different stations. Not only that, but once a show finds an audience, that audience is loyal. The network can do things like release DVD sets that generate additional revenue. People don’t want to buy the first season of Deal or No Deal.
If NBC thinks that it can produce 5 to 6 hours of reality tv and game show programming every week and be successful, good for them. I think they are shooting themselves in the foot by not continuing to develop programming that can actually compete with the market. What they need are new stories, new concepts. Instead of being so focused on their second failing season in a row...they should remember that for years they were the big dogs. They dominated Thursdays…with things like the Cosby Show and Friends. But you can’t be on top forever. ABC certainly wasn’t. And it certainly isn’t the reality TV shows that put them their. It was Lost, Desperate Housewives, and Grey’s Anatomy that did it. And they did debut at least two really great shows this season, Brother’s & Sisters and The Nine. I would encourage you to watch it…and look at why they are so good. 1. A great cast. 2. Great story. 3. Great line-up. ABC knows their audiences, they know the segments. They have strong shows as leads for new programs. It’s what NBC did for years. They did it with the Cosby Show and A Different World.
In a nut shell, cutting their staff and throwing away one of their primetime markets is not going to help them get out of their rut. It is only going to allow networks such as ABC and Fox to make stronger footholds on the primetime market.
It is finally Thursday, which means it is finally time for Grey’s Anatomy. McDreamy vs. McSteamy…who could ask for anything more?
Honestly, I don’t just like this show because of the hot doctors…there’s something about being at a point in your life when everyone expects you to know everything and simultaneously…you realize that you don’t have any flipping idea what you’re doing. And somewhere along the way…you became a grown up, with responsibilities, relationships…and perhaps a little too much freedom. Maybe if I was older, I wouldn’t like this show as much…but my boss likes it…so then again….
At this point, right now…I feel like I am on the verge of greatness. A major crossroads…the cusp of so many life altering milestones…from family and friends…to career…there is so much potential and it is scary and exhilarating all at the same time.
That in a nut shell is my justification for my obsession with Patrick Dempsey, I mean Grey’s Anatomy. How can you not love Meredith! In honor of it being one day closer to the weekend, I thought I would share the GA music video. Fun.
Yesterday I thought the rain was going to wash me away. It rained continuously for hours. The lawn in front of my apartment was flooded. I had to decide whether or not to wade the yard or the path…I chose the yard.
Today was the infamous dodge ball tournament. Don’t you love United Way Week? Jeans, Food, Fun…what more could you ask for. The games were hilarious. I find it most fun to sit on the sidelines and laugh at people. It’s a great way to get rid of pent up tension between co-workers.
Now that I am finished with the first draft of the novel I am taking some time to catch up on my reading. I need to get away from the novel…let it sit, so that I can come back with a fresh perspective and make revisions. I have probably 20-25 books on my shelves that I haven’t read…and I added one more to the list this morning! But most of them, with a few exceptions, are in the genre of what I write. Why? Because I like it. I write what I like to read and I read what I like to write.
Except that I want my writing to stand out…and I am realizing that my rough draft feels a little…what’s the right word…flaky for me. It’s too girlie, too soft. I want it to read more hard core, more thriller…more suspense. Imagine taking something like 24 and crossing it with Anita Blake. I think she is a good example because she based her writing off of Hard Boiled Detective Novels. It is much more present in her earlier work…but it still makes her books stand out from the other vampire novels. What is another way to describe it? I want my books to be less like Charmed and more like Dark Angel, Less like Buffy and more like the 4400. But those are sci-fi shows?! Yes. I know that. But it isn’t the sci-fi element that makes these shows different. It is the political and sociological backdrop. It is the government cover-ups and conspiracies, it is the multi-layered plot and does not rely upon a big bad mystical villain. Even LKH’s books do that. The villain is always some preternatural creature. In my books, there are many villains…sometimes/most of the time they are man made.
So in light of this…I have started reading an anthology of suspense and fiction short stories called Thriller. I have only read two stories, I really liked one and did not like the other…so I can’t yet tell you if the book is worth it or not. But it is edited by James Patterson…and he has these great little blurbs at the beginning of each story which talk about the author, their writing style and the premise of the story. Those are fun. I think I will also play around with one or two short stories. My three year plan says I should have two publishable short stories circulating by December. Gotta get cracking. It will be nice to have a break...even if it is a working one.
Ok…if I can’t be a writer I so want to do this. How totally awesome and fun! I am all about finding creative and innovative ways to promote myself and my work. So the latest thing…video trailers. There is an entire blog devoted to book videos. Of course there is a blog for everything so I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am. I decided to check out these book videos and see what they could do. I have some samples to share, as I was quite impressed. It is nothing like the crappy commercials you see on TV from famous authors like LKH and Mary Higgins Clark. Heck, when was the last time you saw a trailer for the Harry Potter books…ok maybe that doesn’t count. Harry Potter is probably in a league of its own and really, what would be the point. People are already buying the books…how many more sales could a video (that is not the wb movie) make?
So I posted a video from you tube for comparison. Now here are two videos produced by a company called VidLit.
Cool. Huh? Love to know what you think.
Great idea. Right? So I pick up the cell phone and set it on top of the trash bin while I do my thing. Then I think, wait a minute. It might have some identifying peice of information on the screen. So I flip it over and oh my...there is a text message and it was definitely not what I expected to find. Aparently someone's cell phone is getting way more action than me!
Depressing. Remember when we were young....of course as one of the youngest people at work...it means the cell phone most likely belonged to someone much older than me. Even more depressing.
The first comment was on Charlaine Harris... her crime...killing off main characters.
Randomly killing off main characters. Charlaine Harris wrote a cozy mystery series featuring Roe Teagarden, a librarian who solves mysteries. She was introduced as a southern widow lady in her 30s. During the series, Roe fell in and out of love with different individuals but seemed to have finally found her match with Martin. Roe hadn’t had much relationship success and her connection with Martin was a relief. In a Fool and His Honey, we see the two married and enjoying their new lives as newlyweds. The end of the book, however, ends with Harris killing Martin off. Like one Amazon reviewer said, I kept waiting for it to be a dream sequence. Another amazon commenter stated, "As an author, Charlaine Harris has the right to take her characters and storyline wherever she desires….as a reader, I have the right to say that she’s gone too far, and never pick up another one of her books."
According to a Crescent Blues interview, Harris admits that A Fool and His Honey is her most reviled book but she just wanted to do it. One of my friends says that with Harris, you have about 4 books until she totally screws things up. We are eternally grateful that the Shakespeare series didn’t sell well and Harris wrote only 4 books in that series. She didn’t have the time to eviscerate all that we fans have grown to love. Her Southern Vampire series is a perfect example of Harris’ inability to stop ruining her series. Sookie Stackhouse is becoming a laughing stock, a character whom EVERY male wants to bone and whose powers seem to grow with every book. Hmm. That sounds like a suspiciously similar fictional character.
The Second was Laurell K. Hamilton. Her crime...too much sex...I mean breaking her own rules.
Breaking your own rules. Laurell K Hamilton is my best example of this although I am pretty sure it happens all the time. Anita Blake began as a tough nosed necromancer with very human vulnerabilities and an attachment to furry stuffed penguins. Her greatest fear in solving mysteries and fighting beasts was losing her humanity. The series also had a great underpinning of romance. There was a love triangle of sorts between Richard, the “normal” one (as normal as a werewolf could be) and Jean Claude, the undead vampire.
Then LKH got divorced, proceeded to eviscerate the character of Richard (LKH had publicly declared her husband was the basis of this character), turned Anita into a sex fiend who had to have sex to feed her “arduer”, brought in another character called Micah to represent her new husband, gave him the biggest dick possible, proceeded to give interviews and blog about her personal sex life and how that it formed the basis of her books (ugh TMI!!!!) and basically ruined one of the best female urban fantasy series going at the time. Note: Ms. Hamilton currently denies her ex husband being the inspiration for Richard despite having said this repeatedly at book signings early in her career.
Now it's My Turn
I don’t agree with most of what this woman says. At the risk of offending future fans, I will say that it is foolish to think an author is required to do or not do certain things in their books. The same goes for TV shows and movies. It is very easy to sit back and watch something, or read something and say…I think it would have been better if the character hadn’t done this, or if the ending hadn’t happened this way. That is an opinion and everyone is entitled to their opinion. HOWEVER...the author hasn’t committed a felony by not choosing to develop the story in the manner in which you, the reader, thinks best. If you were really that peeved by something I would say write your own damn novel and end it however you see fit.
Maybe that is a little extreme, or over dramatic. Maybe that is just the mood I am in today. But come on! Not everyone can write a book, get an agent, sell it to a publisher, get it distributed and have it become a NY Times Bestseller. It is hard. It takes a lot of work, talent, creativity and oh yes...time. These are professional writers. They have honed their skills over many years. It annoys me that people think just because they can type a few words or carry around a journal they can call themselves a writer. Because knowing the alphabet somehow makes you qualified to make statements like the ones above…telling a professional how they should or should not do their job. Just because I can pick up a fork and knife doesn’t mean I tell the chef at a restaurant how to best serve a meal. I don’t tell my doctor how to read an x-ray. I don’t tell the pilot how to fly a plane. I don’t tell the policeman how to shoot a gun. I expect that as professionals they are trained. I accept that they know more than me and might actually know what they are doing as a result.
Perhaps I am overly sensitive. But these are their stories, their worlds, their characters. They came up with them and invited you, the reader, to observe. I can honestly say I wish the Anita Blake character didn’t have so much sex. But I would never dare to say that she broke a promise to me as a reader, or she owes it to her readers to continue to crank out the same thing, to not allow her character to grow or change. So when this person cranks out a novel(or perhaps a trilogy or series of books since that seems to be her focus in this post) maybe I will take her words more seriously. For now I say. Deal with it. Don’t read the books. There are obviously plenty of people out there who still enjoy them. Otherwise they wouldn't be on the shelves.
This morning I finished the novel. Ok, well the first draft. I feel likeI've been waiting forever for this moment, I should be jumping for joy. Instead I'm cleaning. Always a bad sign. I'm not one to milk attention or do overly outlandish and dramatic things. So I didn't spill my guts when my mother called or my sister came over. I didn't write a thousand word email to my best friend just so that I could feel like I had someone on my side. I just did the laundry, washed the dishes, took out the trash and then followed it up with an hour of sleezy tv. I wouldn't have even mentioned it here, except that I thought I owed it to you all, to share that the novel--the first draft anyway--is complete. That of course should come with an explanation of why I am not on cloud nine...and this is the best I can do.
Oh and sorry about the video links...I hear the page load is pretty slow. Not sure what to do about that...or the RSS site feed that doesn't want to cooperate with the My Yahoo feature. Maybe it is anti-google. I'm going to go find something else to do...another load of laundry maybe, and the bathroom....why not.
Then maybe it will be time to go to bed....and I can get up and dread another long week of work.
I'll try to be in better spirits tomorrow.
I just thought I would share that news. I am at lunch right now and watching the pilot episode of the Nine, which so far is totally awesome. I used to worry about watching too many tv shows. Now I call it research. With reality tv on the decline and shows with some iota of substance returning...I can't help myself. Check out the show online. At least the first fifteen minutes. Tell me what you think. http://dynamic.abc.go.com/streaming/landing
Check out the promo here.
I will put up the author interview a little later. I think this is enough to chew on in one day.
Writing status: Last chapter of the book, trying to kill of the villain in a not so lame way.
I am sitting in the lounge on the last day of the Context Convention, trying to get a mental break from the hours and hours of panels. I don’t care how much you love this stuff (and believe me I can be a fiction writing fanatic) there are only so many hours you can sit in a panel.
The experience has been fun. This is my fourth year attending, but only my second doing the Mega Writing Workshop. I like it because it is relatively cheap, small and has phenomenal teachers doing the writing stuff. It is quite a difference from Marcon, which has a lot more fan stuff going on, and even more of a diversion from WorldCon (which is the world fantasy convention). As you can imagine, it has hundreds and hundreds of writers, agents and editors.
They just started playing some swanky jazz over the speakers…and I discovered that I left my iPod in my other bag at home. Oh the humanity.
Anyway, I am supposed to be doing writing. That is the point of bringing my crusty old laptop, which is alive and kicking thanks to my bf. I have a Dell Inspiron 8000. I am pretty sure the 8000 is for the 8000 pounds it weighs, because the thing is a monster. Together we felt very inadequate beside the steely sleek Macs. We have decided they are anorexic.
Now Celine Dion, I think….or maybe Faith Hill…now that I think about it. It sounds a little country to me. I recognize the song. Not sure which is worse.
I digress. I wanted to share a little bit about my experience thus far. So here is my take on Day 1.
1. Trying to decipher the ownership of the major publishing houses and distribution chains is like playing one big game of Kevin Bacon. The running joke is that all the major publishers are tied to Germany. Not sure if that is true.
2. Some people take notes during the panels, others knit. Let’s guess which one is going to make a sale.
3. Returns are stupid. No they aren’t. Yes. They are. No they aren’t. Not one time have I been to a convention with writers and not had this come up. I’ll go into more detail on this later…for those of you who don’t know what returns are or how the publishing industry really works. It’s way too long of a discussion to get into here.
4. At every convention there are Preachers and there are Teachers.
This is a biggie…and it is not exclusive to this convention. It is something that I have seen all over the place and decided that this here is the golden rule. People come to cons for all different reasons. For some it is pure fun. A chance to be a fan, dress in costume, meet their favorite authors and argue about TV shows canceled after a season. For others it is business. Go promote your newest book. Sit on a panel and pretend you know something. Schmooze with every agent or editor within a ten mile radius. Then there are people who actually believe in giving back…who came to “pay it forward” so to speak and share their wisdom with others. The problem is that it is not always easy to distinguish between the two.
The Preachers sit up on panels and never say one thing worthwhile. They are either conning people into believing they are an expert and pushing their books or they are so stuck in their ways that everything they say is law. It isn’t possible that one of the other panelists or audience members has another take on the situation. I have a very low tolerance for people like this.
The Teachers are a different story. Few and far between, their advice is like gold. I owe my status as an amateur writer to these people, who are good at sharing information AND have valuable information to share. They come prepared, they have a topic, they give concrete information that can help you become a better writer and understand the business of publishing. I can name a few of these people, Nancy Kress, Connie Willis, George R.R. Martin, Gary Braunbeck and Charles Coleman Finlay. Now granted, all of these people are authors… I think that is a coincidence. I just remember the authors’ names more. It is the teachers that continue to bring me back to conventions, because it’s the brief moments with these teachers that makes the time spent in a cheesy lounge with fake greenery and paisley carpet worth it.
This morning I saw the most amazing rainbow. It lit up the sky like a gift from God. How can a day go wrong when it starts off so beautiful. It made me want to write…so I started in on that last chapter. I will probably rewrite the whole thing…it is pretty weak. But just to be finished will be good.
For those of you interested in my journey to writerhood...I will be attending the writing workshop this weekend at Context. I am very excited about this. A whole weekend of panels, workshops, and critiquing. Plus I get to see old friends and make new ones. Ellen Datlow and Maureen McHugh will both be in attendance. I have met them both before and they were very nice, so I am looking forward to hearing what they have to say.
Next steps will be finishing the synopsis and cover letter and then rewriting the first three chapters. In my new outline the story starts earlier than what I already have written, so it’s back to the keyboard for me. The three new chapters mean changes through out the manuscript but they also tie things together nicely. That is the whole point, right?
I hope to crank through this bad boy and have a completed manuscript and submission package ready by the end of the year. It is exciting, busy, but also a but scary. Lots of stuff to do and very little time to do it.
OK, so those aren’t my words, they are the words of J. K. Rowling, but that doesn’t mean they are any less sincere! Had not been spending hideous 10 hour days at the computer…(6-8 at work and another 3-4 at home)… I would have written something original. But I’m saving the good stuff for the novel. It is almost done. I am on the last chapter. I say that with some amount of trepidation because I know that I am going to rewrite a good chunk of this baby before a lot of people even get to see it. I’ve already changed some major plot points, pulled out some characters, created some new ones…and well…with the manuscript the way it is now…it is not consistent. Some characters just disappear. That is not good. Publishers don’t like that.
October will be the month of crits. I am attending the writing workshop at the Context Convention (http://d683087.u36.infinology.net/) and that will be an intense weekend for me but a great way to get the ball rolling. Thanks to my two writing groups…I will have plenty of people to start doing first reads….I want to get feedback on the synopsis, query and first three chapters soon, so I can keep them in mind as I make revisions and try to tie this book into one cohesive story.
To give you a good example…it took me three days to go over two chapters and make revisions. That means pulling out the printed hardcopy, marking everything up with red ink, crossing out whole sections and rewriting them on the backs of recycled paper and then typing up the edited version in the computer. It takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to type up the revisions. I’ve also become very fond of writing by hand. In a world where technology rages, who knew I would be so in love with blue ink and a leather journal. It is the journal used by all the greats, so perhaps that has been my true muse.
By the way, if you haven’t seen the illusionist…hurry, go see it before it disappears from the movie theaters. I really enjoyed it. Hooray for movies that have pleasantly surprised me!
Stay tuned. I am going to be updating my links…I have several author friends you should be taking a look at. I will also be updating the mailing list. Woo hoo. Now would be a great time to let me know if you want to be added. Email changes, address updates….send them my way.
It is sooooo way past my bedtime. I am going to go dream about better days, ones that end with sunny days, margaritas and Cancun breezes. That should be my reward for getting all this done!!!
I owe my sudden inspiration to a renewed sense of self-confidence, two of the bestest friends and loves in the whole world, and music.
There are a few songs that I listen to almost daily, that have helped me to let go, forgive, and move on with my life. I’ll admit I get a little wonky during the winter months. But I think a healthy life means that it is okay to get sad once and a while and it’s okay to get angry. Life isn’t always fair, but as my grandmother likes to say, God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. Not matter what happens, I always get through it, but Spring, it’s a constant. It always comes.
The funny thing is that for me, it's not the lyrcis that have inspired me, it's the artists themselves. I've become a slight Indie Rock Junkie and just listening to musicians who are, despite all odds doing what they love and trying to make a living, it makes me feel like there is hope in the world afterall. I don't know... Maybe next week I will share some of the new artists I have been listening to. Always glad to hellp publicize an artist on the cusp of greatness.
So here are two of the songs that are stuck on repeat on my ipod:
I pulled some of the lyrics, check out the links for the music videos which I love even more and am going to go watch right now...
Bad Day: Daniel Powter http://www.danielpowter.com/
Where is the moment we need at the most
You kick up the leaves and the magic is lost
They tell me your blue skies fade to grey
They tell me your passion’s gone away
And I don't need no carryin' on
You stand in the line just to hit a new low
You're faking a smile with the coffee to go
You tell me your life's been way off line
You're falling to pieces everytime
And I don't need no carryin' on
Cause you had a bad day
You're taking one down
You sing a sad song just to turn it around
You say you don't know
You tell me don't lie
You work at a smile and you go for a ride
You had a bad day
The camera don't lie
You're coming back down and you really don't mind
You had a bad day
You had a bad day
Not Ready to Make Nice: Dixie Chicks http://www.dixiechicks.com/
Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything But I’m still waiting
I’m through with doubt
There’s nothing left for me to figure out
I’ve paid a price
And I’ll keep paying
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could ‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should
I know you said
Can’t you just get over it
It turned my whole world around
And I kind of like it
I made my bed and I sleep like a baby
With no regrets and I don’t mind sayin’
It’s a sad sad story when a mother will teach her
Daughter that she ought to hate a perfect stranger
And how in the world can the words that I said
Send somebody so over the edge
That they’d write me a letter
Sayin’ that I better shut up and sing
Or my life will be over
I’m not ready to make nice
I’m not ready to back down
I’m still mad as hell and
I don’t have time to go round and round and round
It’s too late to make it right
I probably wouldn’t if I could
‘Cause I’m mad as hell
Can’t bring myself to do what it is you think I should
Forgive, sounds good
Forget, I’m not sure I could
They say time heals everything
But I’m still waiting
I have some other books to plow through, a couple by Kelley Armstrong, some Anita Blake & Merry Gentry Books, and an anthology or two. So I think my reading month is going to spill over. But it helps to be reminded of what I like and what I don’t like.
Aside from the reading, I am doing some critiquing again. This week will mark my return to my writing group. Yea! I have a couple of short stories and chapters to read over before Sunday. I am also reading over a full length novel for one the writer’s in that group. I’ve read some early chapters, it will be interesting to see the changes and how it flows as a whole in one reading. I have faith in him though. So far I have thoroughly enjoyed it.
I took some time this past Sunday to read over the first few chapters of my novel and was pleasantly surprised. Aside from one chapter which needs to be rewritten because of some plot changes later on in the storyline, it felt like something I could pick up in a bookstore and start reading. I have been away from it for so long that I could completely detach myself from the words; it was as if I didn’t even write them, which is helpful in identifying strengths and weaknesses.
So I will try to keep you updated weekly on my progress. I can say that I didn’t get selected for the Half Price Books Goodnight to Literacy Contest. That’s O.K. I’ve got the same entry ready to be sent off to a young children’s magazine, and at least it has the potential to be a paid sale. That reminds me. I need to check on the status of a couple other submissions, waiting out there in no man’s land.
So I was feeling kind of lost and decided to spend the last few weeks away from my computer. I haven’t critiqued stories for other people…I just took the time to think. I’ve been reading all kind of books, some in the genre I write, some bestsellers, some random items that have made its way into my collection and yet somehow not been read. It’s helped a little to remind me that I don’t have to write the world’s best novel, that my ideas are unique and original, and somewhere out there is an audience eager to read my stuff. This is just a pit stop and I’ve been too damn scared to get back on the bus. But this blog helps, reading your emails and comments, knowing that people are out there who want to see me succeed; it all helps to keep me motivated. So I promise to keep writing if you promise to keep reading!
I just finished reading an excellent article in the New York Observer (see link in title) that looks at several of the issues surrounding the whole James Frey escapade. I like this article because it goes beyond attacking Oprah or James and takes a look at the larger picture. It also raises some other questions about the relationship between Frey and his former editor Sean McDonald who has handled his last books and has yet to comment on any of this.
Personally I feel like this is the exception. Here you have an example of two people who knowingly manipulated the public out of sheer greed. My favorite quote in the article, “Nobody’s in publishing to make money. You’re putting books out there because you’re on a kind of mission, because you believe you have a taste in literature, whether fiction or nonfiction, and you want to share that, and you want to publish books that change people’s lives.”
This is true for me as a writer. I am not pursuing this career option because I want to be rich. Yes, I’d like to be able to support myself. But the reality is it could very well take me three years to make my current salary at a non-profit organization!!! So it’s not for the money and I truly believe that those who do make a successful fulltime career out of writing deserve it. I write for the exact same reasons stated above. Because I believe that I have good taste, good talent, and that it is worthy of being shared with others, because I want others to experience the same rush of joy I get when I purchase/read/finish a book by my favorite author.
Despite everything that has happened I don’t blame Doubleday/Random House. I might be a bit niave, but at this point in time I think they were manipulated like everyone else. How do you defend against that? One publisher gave an example in the article, the economics of hiring underpaid 20-year-olds to look up facts: “How much can one person employed at $35,000 (in NYC) a year fact-check—10,000 words a week? That means they can do four 125,000-word books a year, so that adds $8,000 to $10,000 in costs to each book. It if sells three million copies that’s no problem, but many books sell only 5,000 copies, which would be a burden.”
It’s a complicated and messy subject with a complicated and yet to be defined solution. And in they end…after the media frenzy dies down a bit who knows what will happen. I don’t think Oprah is going to cancel her book club. I think at this point it would be the worst thing they could do. It will only draw more attention to the situation. If they just sit tight and stop trying to spin everything people would move on. If anything this could make her book club more successful. But perhaps it means more stringent selection policies/practices on their part.
So I’ve written a couple of literary short stories. Shoot me. I like them. And have no worries, I have a couple of very humorous pieces in the works.
For those of you counting that is two stories pending, both with notification around March/April. Keep your fingers crossed. Maybe your toes too.
The day is winding down and for the four hundredth time I find myself listening to the Back to Bedlam CD on my iPod. Well not the whole CD. I was cheap and had to see if I would really like it before I bought it. Now of course my predicament is not that I don’t like it but I like it so much I almost don’t want to buy the CD at iTunes. I think I might actually go to the store and by it! Can you believe it? The last CD I bought was Green Day and I’ll admit, I didn’t really buy it my sister gave it to my as a gift. I reserve the act of purchasing the physical hardcopy CD for artists that completely blow me away and make me bow down in their greatness. Otherwise, I do iTunes, song by song, only what meets my exquisite standards.
This CD is so awesome though. It casual and laidback, but the guy has such a wonderful voice that I just melt. Original. Fresh. Go buy his stuff. I want him to make another album.
Speaking of talented new singers/songwriters…Anna Nalick…she’s been out for a while now, sings a song called Breathe (2AM) and I may have mentioned her before. Because I love the lyrics so much. Unlike James Blunt the rest of her CD didn’t impress me and I was disappointed. So I don’t know how long she’ll be around. But I bring it up because I was reading the blog of an agent who will remain nameless and she was listening to Anna Nalick’s song. She was so psyched by it, especially the lyrics. She said, “this song is for writers, find the lyrics and check it out.” Pretty cool to know that at least one person in the world has as good of taste as I do.
What else…oh yes Dan Radcliffe…for those of you who are living under a rock, he plays Harry Potter in the Warner Bros. Films. I was listening to a press junket on my iPod the other day (this was actually recorded around the release of the film so early November….late October, something like that) and they asked Dan what his favorite singer/band was…and he totally went on a tangent naming all these different bands that like two people have heard of. He has incredibly eclectic taste for a teenager. He’s what 16? Maybe 17? He says he doesn’t like the iPod so much because he is a music snob and he has to have the CD case and the booklet inside and likes the act of taking the CD out and putting it in the player and well you get the picture. So towards the end of his rambling speech he remembers a CD he picked up in San Francisco called Melonie’s Greatest Hits. Can anybody say…I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates…(you’ve got a brand new key)…HELLO. It completely stuns me when people know this song. If you don’t go download it on itunes. Pay the 99 cents. You can afford it. I want Melonie to come back on the top ten list. (Oh and if you don’t believe that Dan has weird weird taste in music, he used to have a celebrity playlist on iTunes. His wasn’t as cool as Rupert’s.
Okay, so I have successfully talked about nothing. Can you believe that? Well let’s just call this music that inspires art.
Interesting fact of the day…J.K. Rowling was paid approximately 3000£ for the first novel of Harry potter (which averages out to just over $5,000) and after the novel was sold in England their was a Royalties Auction for foreign (ok U.S. ) rights in which an imprint of Scholastic paid $105,000 for the rights of the first book. This was without a single book published, bought or sold!!! Pretty risky for a first time author. I wonder how it created enough buzz to get about seven publishers at the auction and the price up that high?
Did I say that outloud?
It is wrong for the captain to abandon ship, so I must standby the incredibly tragic storyline, cliché dialogue and makeshift editing. So what if the acting was mediocre! It was a high school production after all.
I bring this up not just because I want to reminisce in the wonderful world of high school drama, but because it is a reminder that the one thing I have always loved is telling stories. And despite the fact that most of it was complete crap, there is a hint of passion hidden inside that screenplay. I can see the spark of creativity, the fire of a writer and the potential, which if nurtured and cultivated in the right manner will one day make a successful writer.
I’m not quite there yet. But there is still some benefit to looking back. I am a true Virgo. I plan virtually everything. If I don’t have a game plan I might as well be blindfolded. So it’s no surprise to the people who know me that I not only outline and plan my stories and novels, but that I have given great thought, detail and attention to my pursuit of becoming a fulltime writer. A career path for the non-traditional career. Something I don’t do as often is an annual review. Or perhaps a performance review. I just finished up one at my other fulltime job (the one that actually pays the bills) and it was a positive reminder that I have made a lot of progress over the year. So many times we focus on the immediate project, deadline etc. For me, I meet a deadline and I have to move on, very quickly, to the next.
So in away, I guess what I am trying to say is that I encourage others, whether they are trying to become a writer, a rock star, a politician, or a CEO…don’t forget to look back at how far you’ve already come. I was reading an article in Psychology Today and it mentioned that the most successful people are the ones who have the ability to set long-term goals and continue to work towards them for 10 years. TEN YEARS!!!! Because it’s not all about luck, or chance. It’s about being prepared and knowledgeable. One of my favorite quotes is “Success is when preparation meets opportunity”. It takes years for us to build the skills we need to be successful in our chosen career or passion. Sometimes, it is not about who crosses the finish line first but what you do once they get there.
So as the first month of 2006 comes to a close. I hope each and every one of you continues to pursue your dreams. Don’t get bogged down in the here and now. This is just a pit stop, just one of many stepping stones on the road to success. And if you’re not getting what you want out of where you are. If you take a look back and discovered you’ve taken a wrong turn (perhaps your too poor for a GPS device!) that’s oka too. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards. Regardless, now is the perfect time to re-evaluate your life and make the necessary changes for future success and happiness.
I just want to say thanks to all you loyal readers who keep checking in despite the fact that I haven’t posted in a while. I know who you are! I don’t really have much to talk about today. It just felt like an appropriate day to blog. It being Friday the 13th and all.
Of course it is not even ten yet and nothing bizarre has happened, unless you count my waking up on time. The sky did turn ominously dark on my way to work. A few flashes of lightning danced around. But I never did hear any thunder.
So, have I been writing? Yes. And that is a good thing. I have learned something from spending 40 hours a week writing grants and articles. I do much better when I am writing it all out by hand. Something about the process makes me more creative. And being able to scratch things out but then look back and see what it was I scratched out is very helpful. Sometimes with the computer, I hit the delete key and end up writing the same thing five times. So now I have a spiral notebook in every room in the house and everyday I write something in it. Will I write the whole novel by hand? I seriously doubt it. But the notebook is just more convenient then my ten pound laptop that only opens word 1/20th of the time. I don’t have to worry about the battery dying, finding a place to plug it in or more importantly a way to get the files from the laptop onto my computer. In all honesty I probably should burn the thing. But I have a problem with letting go. I never was good at saying goodbye.
So my big thing right now is podcasts. I am so completely in love with them. For those of you who don’t know I got an iPod for Christmas (I know, I know…I’m a very lucky girl. And yes, my love can be bought. J/k….alligator handbags!!!) And I have been downloading all kinds of things that I didn’t bother with before. Like now I subscribe to MuggleCast and PotterCast. Two guesses as to what those shows are about. It’s fun though because even though I’m not all that interested in the HP news, I love listening to the theories and the discussion and debates. The other big thing is free cartoons from Channel Frederator. Did I mention that they are free! Some of the coolest funniest stuff I’ve seen and I just download it and pull out my iPod when I’m stuck somewhere and watch till my heart’s content.
My iPod made its first trip to the grocery store this week. It was great. Shopping to my own personal soundtrack. But let’s be honest here. I was listening to MuggleCast at the time. I’m a dork. I know. I’m not ashamed.
So I think I am just going to turn this into a blog about my iPod. Would you like that? Probably not as much as I do. Maybe I’ll try my own podcast. Heck I can do audioblogs on this thing…If I remember how to do it.
Anyway. Time to do something productive. May the force of the iPod be with you. Watch Channel Frederator. Listen to MuggleCast. Visit mugglenet.com. Send me fifty bucks.