Tuesday, December 8, 2009

{ 16 } I Did Not Chicken Out

Wondering where my new self-published book is? Have no fear: it should be here soon.

Apparently the things I think should be "instant" are not.

If you see nothing here by 14 Dec., something has gone horribly wrong.

Priced to sell!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

{ 15 } Fear Is The Mind-Killer

Damn it.

I got home from a three-day work excursion to Wyoming twelve hours ago. I had one mission on my mind: get something published.

To most, this probably sounds like a daunting task. Write something. Send out fifty manuscripts. Get fifty rejections. Blah, blah, blah. True, but that's the old way.

Enter the concepts of print on demand and vanity press. They've been around for quite some while, with the likes of Twain, Sinclair, and Thoreau all using them to their advantage. But in the age of The Series of Tubes, printing your own crap is really, really easy.

How easy? Underwear Gnomes could do it:
1) Write something;
2) Take five minutes to upload it;
3) Profit.

Ease aside, what the hell did I exactly intend to publish tonight, considering HOS is in my brain tornado and my young adult novel is about 30,000 words from seeing the light of day ( I DID hit 10,000 words Monday night, thankyouverymuch)?

I really don't want to say the word, but I believe you'll forgive me: poems.

I know, I know, I KNOW: everyone and their father is a poet (my daddy is: American Poetry Anthology, 1984, ISBN 0-88147-008-2. Poem is called Brecken. Go fig...) . So where am I hiding the high and mighty horse that I rode in on?

No where, actually. I know I have written a lot of crap. I figure for every quasi-good poem I wrote, ten more vile examples of juvenilia spilled from my pen. But about 50% of those quazi-good poems were actually great poems. I decided I was going to publish those.

So what the hell happened in the last twelve hours? Why have I not given you an ISBN of my own? Because I got scared. I got so scared, in fact, that I started playing a little game I made up called How Many Things Can I Do To Keep Me From Doing The One Thing I Need To Do? It's a very familiar game; I've played it for thirty years.

The premise of the evening was easy enough:
1) Go to my office and find the notebooks containing the poems I wanted published;
2) Take five minutes to upload them;
3) Profit.

Let me give you a little run down on what I did instead...
  • Browsed Wordclay.com, Lulu.com, and Createspace.com for the best DIY publishing bang for my buck,
  • Read a ton of really bad self-written blurbs for really bad books sold through said sites,
  • Digested another chapter in Alice Sebold's "The Lovely Bones" (no, I will not be seeing the movie; Peter Jackson be damned!),
  • Drank a few beers,
  • Read 100% of the archives at Wedinator.com,
  • Made fun of the dogs,
  • Cross referenced Wordclay and Lulu authors with Amazon,
  • Thought about sleeping.
At this point, Step 3 of the Underwear Gnome's formula is non-existent.

But what the hell was I afraid of? This question is easier to answer then a moon/elephant quandary. Since I seem so fond of lists tonight, here's another, in no particular order:
  • Sharing some of my misery from years ago,
  • Being made fun of for said misery,
  • Having to actually relive all that misery,
  • Trying to pimp my for-profit book based on that misery.
For a brief moment, I thought about publishing it under an alias. Safe. Very safe. But what the hell good would that do? I mean, if you're book hunting, is your first thought, "Oh look! A self-published book of poetry from an author I've never heard of! I'll buy it!" If I was to profit, self promotion was my only way.

I got stuck. I got scared. I did nothing.

But you know what? I can't live in this constant state of apathy, fear, laziness, boredom. I am a goddamn writer. Writers write. And good writers publish their work. My BF constantly reminds me how amazing it would be to say, "I'm a published author" when people ask me what my job is.

So here is my promise to you, dear reader: before the close of 5 Dec. 2009, I will have published my poetry book, be it lame or not. If you want to buy it, I'll tell you where. Hurdle One is looming, and I swear I'm gonna jump.

I will leave you Dune freaks and you curiositors with the full Bene Gesserit litany:
"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."

Good day, faithful readers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

{ 14 } Such A Tease!

Did you read post { 13 }, my write up of Twilight? Probably not. It looks long. I understand. It is pretty freaking good though, IMHO. I initially wrote it on my CrapTop, circa 1997, that has the ability to transfer things to floppy disc only. All well and good on my desk top, but the BF's has no floppy (and my desk top is still broken. Man, I'm lazy.). Actually, I don't think the BF has even seen a floppy drive in real life. Aw, the innocence of youth.

So what does that mean? It means that I had to retype the whole thing. That alone should make you want to read it. I did it all for you!

Moving on, a few months ago I found a website called Field Report. You basically write a short story about something that really happened to you, it goes up for peer review and comments, and the best story in each category wins a pile of cash. Right up my ally.

I wrote a short called Billy about my friend that passed away a few years ago. Mom read it and she says it all went down just like I wrote it. I have yet to have my friend Erik W. read it, though. He lived it too and is wanting my consult on a movie called Anything For Billy. Erik is the director of Flesh-Eating Ghouls from Outer Space. I kid you not.

Anyway, here's what I need from you: please, please, please go to Field Report, sign up (it's free!), read my story and "nudge" it. Then it has a better chance of getting reviewed by a larger audience. You can't actually give it a rating because it has to come up randomly. Still, nudges help! I was going to put the story here for you to read, but it really needs your support in the polls.

Show me some love, would ya?

Monday, September 21, 2009

{ 13 } I Slack, Therefore I Am

Man, it's been awhile. So much has happened since my last posting:

- The BF and I bought a real house,
- We acquired a third dog,
- I've been traveling for work a lot less,
- I've still been working my ass off.

True, none if this is any excuse for not writing, but they're the best excuses I have! So, without further ado, I shall now produce for you my latest work. It was written in March or April, but it's still the newest... Sigh...

The Twilight of My Discontent
- or -
Why Stephanie Meyer is A Hack That Should Never Be Allowed To Write Again

It finally happened: I was forced to watch Twilight. I knew it wouldn't be long. I had the books on reserve at the library, but apparently I am still in line behind five zillion pre-teens, teens, young adults, and housewives.

I wasn't looking forward to reading the books, I figured all I needed to know was what I could glean from Yahoo Answers and literary forums. Hey, if Steven King doesn't like Stephanie Meyer, that's good enough for me. Still, though, I like to form my own opinions and I have a strong "Know Thy Enemy" ethic, so I figured reading the damn books wouldn't hurt me.

As much as I didn't want to read the books, I really, REALLY didn't want to see the movie. I've done the book-to-film route before and it usually turns out bad (Fight Club and American Psycho being two huge exceptions). If the book was going to be a chore to read, I knew the movie was going to be worse. Sadly, last week the choice was made for me and I was subjected to Twilight in all of its sparkly glory.

Not all bad came out of this, though. I had a revelation today about Meyer's "vampires" and the nature of her story, something Mrs. Meyer herself might not have seen (or didn't want to admit to). To explain, let me set up the story and outline my confusion.

Twilight is the story of Bella, a seventeen year old who decides to move to Washington State to live with her cop father so her mother can travel with Mother's new amateur baseball player husband. Here was my first red flag: any story that has to have characters with Such Great Importance (cop, baseball player) is going to be lacking in, well, actual story. Who needs plot when you can have grandeous characters, right?

None the less, Bella gets to her new school and is immediately befriended by this gregarious band of high schoolers with obnoxious hair. I don't know what your high school was like, but I can assure you: no matter how hot the new kid was, people were not lined up to ask her to Prom. Oh, to have Bella's problems.

Bella, however, is attracted to the brooding, dark-eyed Edward Cullen, a boy who Bella's new-found BFFs tell her not to waste her time on. And why should she? The adopted Cullen kids, three boys and two girls, are already coupled. That's right, as in boyfriend/girlfriend, Edward being the odd-man out. Keep it in the family.

Still, Bella's a strong girl that gets what she wants. I guess. Thus far Bella seems to have no personality other then the fact that she's pretty and all of the boys are ga-ga over her. That's not personality, you say? Hmmm...

Bella gets to Biology class only to be partnered with, who else?, Edward Cullen. Mr. I'm-So-Dark can't handle it and asks to be transferred out, which Bella witnesses. Then he fails to show up for class for a few days. Ah, now Bella has real motivation! Edward doesn't like her (of course his transfer is all about her)! How can this be? The rest of the school practically genuflects when she enters the room. Did I mention I want Bella's problems?

Edward finally returns to class and there's a total Girl Power scene in which Edward and Bella go back and forth over what they see in their microscope. And, lo and behold, Bella also notices Edward's eyes are changing color! I'm pretty sure this is the first ever documented case of a vampire with color changing eyes. Edward blames the florescent lights and storms off. Isn't he dreamy?

Finally, the scene you have all been waiting for: Edward stops the skidding van from crushing Bella against her own truck. It's actually quite remarkable. What's remarkable about it is the fact that a whole parking lot of teens AND the driver of the van fail to see Edward run super-speed to Bella, shield her, and then stop the van with his bare hands. Forget about the fact that there's now a huge dent in the side of the van where Bella's pretty, smashed head should have been. Nobody seems to notice or question this little point.

Bella then goes to the hospital where she is attended to by, wait for it... DR. CULLEN HIMSELF! Sure, he's maybe thirty-two, but what thirty-two year old doctor wouldn't want to adopt a brood of goth high school students? I think I have new life plan...

Bella needs answers. Changing color eyes? Super speed? Super strength? The fact that the Cullens aren't welcome on some crazy Native American owned beach? This can all be leading up to one thing, but Edward isn't talking. It's more fun to try and convince Bella that's she's crazy and that she imagined the fact that Edward was right next to her when the van almost (should have) killed her. That's what a good love interest would do.

After a field trip, another invite to Prom, and more snarky remarks from Edward, Bella finally has time alone with her man. Thank goodness! After a whole torturous week of knowing Edward, Bella has found the love of her life. It's about time she confronted him for some straight answers. You know, before they get married and all.

Since Bella is quick with the Google searches, she finally knows what Edward is: a vampire. Duh. She tells him she knows, he asks if she's scared, she tells him she's not. She's a strong headed, independent, woman-type thing, remember?

Edward throws Bella on his back and runs to a sunny spot (Super speed? Super strength? Hello?) to show her what vampires really do in the daylight: sparkle. Bram Stoker is spinning in his grave. Remember from, oh, the dawn of time how vampires burn up in the sun? Well, history has it WRONG. In the words of Bella, it looks more like Edward is "made of diamonds". The only way to kill these vampires is to cut them up and burn them. Thanks, Stephanie Meyer, for setting history straight.

Oh, and don't worry about Edward draining Bella of her blood. He totally wanted to in the beginning, which was why he had to leave Biology class. Bella's "scent" is almost too much for Edward to handle. Apparently, she's the one he's been waiting for in his almost one hundred years on Earth. But he has some sort of restraint and will be content loving her for her whole life instead of sucking her dry. Of course, Bella is okay with this, but now she wants to be a vampire too. And why not? I mean, who wouldn't want to spend all their time writing bad poetry and drinking coffee until two a.m. at Denny's? Oh, wait. That's what goth kids do, not vampires.

Still, nothing sounds more appealing then spending Eternity with a boy you just met. Who cares if he snores in bed, leaves his dirty socks on the couch, or doesn't know how to balance his own check book? Seventeen year olds care not about these things. And don't even get me started on if he's good in bed or not. Bella's a virgin, so would she really know the difference? She can fake it for all of eternity, right?

Edward doesn't want to change Bella in to a vampire. He doesn't want to make her the "monster" that he is. His constant yearn for human blood is too much. Did I forget to mention that the Cullens are "vegetarians"? In the Twilight world, this means they only feast on the blood of non-human animals. Speaking as a vegetarian myself, I can assure you that this does not offend me in any way. Nor does Edward's comment on how not sucking the blood of people is like a human existing only on tofu; "You get full, but never really satisfied." Yep, totally not offended.

I will pause here for a moment of reflection. I can no longer in good conscious call the Cullens and their ilk "vampires". The only vampiric things about them are their lust for human blood and the fact that they allegedly live forever. To me, this sounds more like cannibals with longevity. Granted, I am not the for-most expert on vampires, but I do know they do not have super anything, cannot live without draining humans of their blood, and sure as hell do not "sparkle" in the sun. While I applaud (maybe just golf clap) Meyer for inventing an original brand of species, to call them "vegetarian vampires" is beyond insulting. I think Cannibalistic Glitter Kids is more fitting.

To continue, Bella and Edward are in a relationship now, or something. Edward's the perfect catch, too. In a few short days, he admits to Bella that, since he himself doesn't sleep, he constantly watches her sleep at night (totally not creepy), he wanted to devour her blood, and he's supposed to be with her forever. This is so not stalker-esque at all! I know I like it when strange boys are mean to me and suddenly appear in my bedroom, especially after they admit to wanting to kill me first!

Edward now feels it's okay to bring Bella to his family's house, which is all sunny and bright. Since the house is secluded, the Cullens get to sparkle freely in their non-melting glory.

Edward's family members are as vapid and devoid of personality as he is. One girl's a bitch; one boy, the newest family member, looks constantly constipated because he's still trying to fight off his human blood-lust. Totally. Oh, and one of the girls can see the future! Of course! Another decidedly non-vampire trait and also one she doesn't share with the other family members. Confused? Then you're right on track, as Meyer offers no explanation for any of this.

Edward takes Bella on a stroll through the house where she eyes graduation gowns from the past umpteen years. We're finally told the first thing that almost makes sense: since the Cullens don't age, it's easier to move and start over every four years. Still, why they have to continually attend high school is beyond me. And what about restarting Dr. Cullen's practice? I don't see why they couldn't just move to a secluded place and be happy. With the exception of Edward, they're already in relationships, so who needs more friends?

While explaining the moves to Bella, Edward delivers a line that I'm sure was ripped straight from the book: "We matriculate a lot." Yep, "matriculate". I had read online that Meyer's writing was so horrid, it seemed like she had used a thesaurus at every available opportunity. I didn't want to believe it, but "matriculate"? Now I had no choice. No one, let alone high schoolers, use that word. True, I have an extensive vocabulary and tend to use ten-cent words, but in this movie and in this context, this one pops out as odd. I'm sure I'll come up with a laundry list of misplaced words as soon as I get my hands on the book.

The next scene, which will be almost the last I review before I get to my own personal revelation, pisses me off personally. Anybody else might just have glossed over it, but I feel like Meyer was making a personal attack here, even though she was probably just trying to be "scholarly".

Edward and Bella are in Edward's room and Bella comments on how much music Edward owns. Not books, oh no. Music. Bella pushed play on the stereo to hear what Edward is currently listening to. Piano music fills the room. He's a "vampire" (cough) so of course he listens to classical. Here's why I get angry: It's Debussy. DEBUSSY! My favorite composer. MINE. Now every time I say I like Debussy I'm going to get that "You know him from Twilight" look. I hate that look.

From this point on, it becomes a mad-cap rush to save Bella from the evil hunting "vampire" who sees her as sport. There's a lackluster fight scene in the old ballet studio Bella used to take dance lessons in. Did I forget to mention? Bella As Ex-Dancer had been eluded to in the previous scenes where Bella tells everyone she doesn't dance. I don't really get it either, but it provides the perfect setting: lots of mirrors to confuse Bella as to where the hunter is actually standing. Wait, wait, wait. You mean real vampires don't have reflections? But, but... I can see the hunter reflected hundreds of times! Yep, add another point to the Cannibalistic Glitter Kids column. Meyer's vampires are as real as Ashley Simpson is a real singer.

I think you know by know how I feel about Stephanie Meyer and her story. I was still confused on one point, though: Edward will not turn Bella into a Cannibalistic Glitter Kid because he has some sense of right and wrong (I think that's the point Meyer was trying to make), so why would the good Dr. Cullen transform five unwitting kids?

For an answer to this, I asked my friend. I'm reconsidering he whole "friend" thing as she was the one that stuck the movie in front of my face. "Friend" has watched Twilight everyday now for at least two weeks and has just started reading New Moon, Meyer's next book in the series which, Oh Joy!, is already being shot as a film.

From what "Friend" has old me, Dr. Cullen changed these kids for two reasons: 1) because he didn't want to see them suffer or die, and 2) so he wouldn't have to been alone for all of Eternity.

Reason One angered me enough. He's a doctor for goodness sake. Suffering and death are part of his profession. So is "Do no harm", and I'm pretty sure forcing someone to live forever, craving human blood, is pretty harmful. Can we say "malpractice"?

But the second reason kept reverberating in my mind. Dr. Cullen changed his wife. That makes him not alone. Why add more people? The pieces finally all came together in my head this morning.

Of course Dr. Cullen wanted to make more people live forever! The answer was right in front of me the whole time. Stephanie Meyer is a Mormon!

I don't know what you know about Mormonism, but way over half my family is Mormon so I have a pretty good grasp of the subject. Mormons believe that you have to rescue souls from Heaven and bring then to Earth. Then you and your family, when you all die, will be together in the Afterlife. If you don't breed profusely, you will be alone until the end of time. This is exactly what Dr. Cullen is doing, except his "Afterlife" is the here and now, all Eternity on Earth! Why I didn't see this before, and why no one else to my knowledge has mentioned this is beyond me.

Stephanie Meyer claims to not put her religious beliefs into her novels, but I'm a little suspicious. Maybe it was by accident. Maybe she's trying to covertly indoctrinate you. Only Mrs. Meyer knows for sure. But to me, the similarities are too stark.

It wasn't enough for me to hate the story on the empty characters, the overuse of vocab words, and the raping of all things vampire. Now I get to hate it on the thinly veiled attempt at introducing kids to Mormon concepts.

I've always said young adult novels have a message, even if it's not in your face. While I struggled at first to find any meaning in Meyer's waste of paper and celluloid, I have now found it. If you're looking for an entertaining way to spend your time, skip Twilight. If instead you want a weak plot, undeveloped characters, messages that stalking is acceptable, and a crash course on Mormonism, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore or movie theater.

Friday, March 6, 2009

{ 12 } There's A Story In Here Somewhere...

Here's the news out of Ohio today: a 33 year old man in Cleavland allegedly decides to shoot his wife, his sister-in-law, and his three nieces and nephews. He holes himself up in an apartment and shoots himself in the head a few hours later. Injured is a seven year old and left unharmed is the gunman's two month old daughter, who was in the apartment during the shooting.

Why do I bring you such happy news on a Friday? Because every time I hear about some tragedy involving parents and kids, I can't help but think of the child that is still alive. Imagine this baby when she grows up: "Yeah, my dad killed my mom, aunt and cousins, then himself. I guess I'm pretty to lucky to be alive... I think."

That's going to be one messed up kid. But messed up how? I mean, what do child survivors of violent crimes grow up to be? I know, I know; I could look it up in a psych journal, but that's not really what I'm interested in. I'm interested in this from a creative side.

Think about it: will she grow up to be a hard nosed lawyer, fighting for child advocacy or will she grow up to be a junkie? Will she become a secret crime fighter, defending women from abusive husbands or will she become a schizophrenic cat lady? These are the thoughts that run through my writing brain.

Here's what i need from you: leave me some comments on what you think happens to these kids. I don't want typical answers, I want crazy fantasy.

Here are a few more real stories to get you brains going:
  • Santa Shooting Rampage; Covina, CA; 2008: eight year old girls opens door to "Santa" who then proceeds to kill eight people and then burn the house down
  • Toddler Witness; North Canton, OH; 2007: two year old is found home alone, tells his grandma "Mommy's crying... Mommy's in the rug" and "Mommy broke the table", police find broken furnature, a pool of bleach on the floor and, eventually, the body of the pregnant woman; her married (not to her) baby-daddy (of the toddler and the unborn) is charged
  • Can't remember the deatils of this one, but a brother and a sister were kidnappped, the brother was killed and the sister was recovered. I think it was in ID or MT...
Anyway, that's all for now. Leave me some feedback!

My reviews of the YA books I read coming soon!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

{ 11 } Only Kind of Slacking...

I was gently reminded today that writers write (my own words). True, I have not blogged in a bit, but I have still been writing. My crazy night job has had me on the road or working really odd hours for awhile and I've either not had access to a computer or have been so beat tired I didn't feel like blogging.

Okay, enough with the excuses. Let me fill you in on what I have been doing...

First, I decided to start a crime novel. I needed something to get my mind off of HOS and all of its research. This new project, working title MD, is proving to be a lot more difficult them first imagined. It's not research intensive, thank goodness, but trying to write a plot that's not transparent as water is a challenge. Thus far, I'm just missing one key ingredient and then it's write time. Should be too hard (famous last words).

Second, I started thinking again about J.K. Rowling and Stephanie Meyer. Not so much their "I just had this idea..." stuff, but look at what they wrote: tween/young adult (YA) novels. A quick check of best selling books last week has Meyer's taking four out of five top places and, as far as best selling books of all time, the Harry Potter books take six out of the top twenty one spots. Why? Harry Potter is obvious: great plot, great characters, amazing franchise. I have not read any of Meyer's books (they are on reserve for me when they come back to the library), but I have heard they lack substance or deep characters. So why the huge success?

I have my own opinions, but not having read the books, I can't really say. What I can report is what others have said: all the characters are perfect, it's sexual without sex, Edward is HAWT (gross, IMHO), Edward is a hollow shell so girls can fit his "personality" to what they want, et cetera.

What I think this series and others in the YA genre break down to is simple: YA girls want romance and they want to get away with reading sexual books. How many of you sneaked a peek at your mom's copy of Fear of Flying or read and reread the "taboo" parts of Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret.? I think the sexual non-sex of Meyer's books appeals to young girls and their parents. Spicy but not too hot.

I also think this particular series is so popular is because teenagers are sheep. Wait, that came out kind of mean... But still: it's great to be popular and if reading these books and loving them makes you popular (or at least gives the illusion), all the better. Not that that's a bad thing. If kids are reading, I'll get behind any book. Think for a minute about Fear of Flying and Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. How did we ever find these books before the invention of the Internet? I can assure you no teacher in their right mind was recommending them to my generation, what with all the censorship going on in the '80s. More then likely we heard they were "naughty" and just had to read them. But in this decade, one blogger can write a review or one girl can post a MySpace "I Love TWILIGHT!" message and it's an international sensation. Easy peezy.

Okay, that's enough Meyers/teenager bashing for now. In my next post (which will be soon) I'll share with you what I wrote (on actual paper!) about what I think YAs want and the challenges I'm going to face if I decide to write for the Me Generation, which is looking like a very strong possibility.

Now if those damn little girls would just return their copies of Twilight to the library...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

{ 10 } Brace Yourself: Here It Comes

No, nothing good. Just my freaking birthday. Didn't I just have one of these a year or so ago? I am stressing out, not just because of that, but because of life in general. Bills, mostly, but I've been incredibly stagnant on writing.

I'm meeting with Josh again this week. I know that will help. I need to get out of the funk of daily life and harness Mr. Creativity again. Where did he go? Oh, I remember: his energy has been spent on organizing the house, not freaking out about the holidays, and trying to remain mindful of being a good person.

Well, after tomorrow, things will be calming down. No more holidays, no more birthdays (for a little while, at least), and work should be getting back on schedule.

I pose a birthday eve question to you, dear readers: In all the media you've encountered, be it film, books, opera, whatever, what is something that got your emotions running high? Like, so high you had to put the book down or pause the movie so you could get your breath. I'll give you a few examples from my life to get you started...
  • Max Schumacher's speech in the movie Network: "You need me. You need me badly. Because I'm your last contact with human reality. I love you. And that painful, decaying love is the only thing between you and the shrieking nothingness you live the rest of the day." It blows my mind to read it typed here, let alone see it.
  • The end of We The Living by Ayn Rand. I have never cried as hard as when I finished this book. I will not spoil the ending for you (like you read Rand...).
  • When Catherine declares " . . . he's more myself than I am. Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same, and Linton's is as different as a moonbeam from lightning, or frost from fire." about Heathcliff in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. Really, the whole book gets to me. Say what you want, but as Brontë's only novel, you have to be blown away.
There's a few to get your brain juices flowing. Leave me some more in comments and wish me happy birthday, dammit!

I'm off.