Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Reading, Writing and Homeschooling

While this subject may seem off the usual writing topic, there's a reason for it.

Genius Kid ("GK") has been seriously struggling in the public school system since kindergarten. He went from reading and drawing rudimentary stories before he started school to refusing to read at all by the end of kindergarten. And don't get me started on writing. It's been a battle since then to keep him on track with what I know he's capable of.

I felt like a failure. Why hadn't I conveyed my love of the written word to my child? I'd been reading to him since his birth. I had Green Eggs and Ham memorized for cryin' out loud!

Don't worry. I also blamed a Certain Unnamed Teacher who called GK stupid because he had problems sounding out unfamiliar words. That insensitive comment along with GK's penchant for perfectionism led to a downward behavioral spiral, resulting in eighteen months of hell dealing with the school administration.

After much soul searching, the DH and I withdrew GK from public school. We're homeschooling for this year and possibly next year. I expected a lot of crap from those outside our immediate family.

And it didn't happen. Homeschooling doesn't hold the social stigma it once did. In fact, the only person who gave me a hard time was my mother. As a public school teacher for over thirty years, she took our decision as a personal slap in the face.

But my concern, first and foremost, is GK. Now, he reads when he thinks DH and I aren't looking, his vocabulary has improved, and he's found the joy in making up his own little stories again.

I may not be pumping out a couple of thousand words a day on my own wip. But it's worth GK's giggles as he reads the adventures of Nate Twitchell raising his triceratops in Freedom, NH--all by himself.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Best Show That You're Not Watching on TV

Yes, I'm shamelessly stealing from TVGuide. Remember the old days when the folks at the magazine would promote a critically acclaimed, but low rated, show and managed to turn the show's fortune around?

Felicia Day and her crew at The Guild certainly don't need my help in turning their show around. Viewership has steadily increased since it first premiered. But it's definitely the best show not on TV.

Why? Because The Guild is an internet program. It's not on cable, satellite or broadcast TV. Its premise is the misadventures of a group of MMO players, both online and in real life.

We're now four episodes into the third season, and it's still as gut-busting funny as the first episode. Wil Wheaton's guest shot as the kilt-wearing leader of the Axis of Anarchy guild is so Emmy-worthy. And I can't wait to see what happens next...

Huh? Moment

You know the universe is full of strange coincidences when you discover the marketing line for your blog (and potentially your books) is already:

- the title of a newspaper in Zimbabwe

- a gay catamaran boat trip

- a children's reading hour at a public library

- a list of adjectives used to describe actress Kristen Chenoweth on

Sunday, September 20, 2009


As I read other blogs, I'm amazed at the vitriolic spewing of some of my fellow unpubs regarding the query process. I consider writing novels a career change (it'll be my third), and I'm looking at the query process as my job search.

But seriously? If you're trying to get a job at AT&T, would you send a nasty e-mail to the HR Director, telling him/her how much their hiring process sucks, their company sucks, etc., ad nauseum?

I can understand the frustration of the process, but it's no different than any other job search I've been on. The rejections aren't personal. Well, okay, I've had a couple a contest judges make comments that were pretty damn personal, but they're the exception rather than the rule. In those cases, the judges are right up there with the IT Director who spent the entire interview staring at my boobs. Boorish behavior for sure, and not someone I'd want to work with. But does it have a damn thing to do with my job performance? Heck, no!

But face reality--this crap is just part of the game. Why get frustrated to point that Mike Tyson looks like a well-behaved Catholic schoolboy compared to some writers? If a writer can't handle the game, leave the stadium.

(Please leave the stadium! Better yet, get yourself ejected for personal fouling. I want off the bench.)

You think I'm some kind of suck-up? I've been on the other end of the spectrum. I've had people want free computer or legal advice, especially the latter. Coming up to a total stranger and making demands is incredibly offputting and isn't likely to get you what you want. So I understand why agents, editors and published authors are leery of unpubs and their demands. I haven't reached the level of public rants like screenwriter Josh Olson on his Why I will not read your f***ing script. But I've thought it. Oh Goddess, have I thought it.

So what's the gist of all this? No one owes you a job. Period. End of story. And if you really want to be published, realize writing is a job. It's an artsy job, but it's still a job.

Pay your dues. Work hard. Keep writing. It's the only way to make it in this business.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Releasing children upon an unsuspecting world...

I've spent the last few days sending out queries for my completed manuscript. And you know what? I like sending queries. For an unpubbed writer, it's the frosting on the literary accomplishment.

What's so great about queries? They force you to condense your idea into a few key sentences. Sentences that need to grab the agent and editor by the throat and say, "Damn it! Pay attention to me!"

On the other hand, synopses are a little tougher. It's a fine line between adding too much information that the synopsis bogs down and too little that the synopsis makes no freakin' sense. And that is why critique partners are so damn important! Good ones will tell you when you've crossed the line. But once it's done, I don't have to agonize over every single word the way I do with the personalized query.

But it's done. My children are out in the world, but I can't sit and stew about what will happen to them. Will they be liked? Admired? Told to put a paper bag over their heads? Nope, can't worry about them now. What's done is done.

The current wip is clamoring for attention, like a toddler demanding to be picked up and carried. And I'm already pregnant with the next idea.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dear Mr. Dan Brown:

I'm so sorry for all the success you've had. The one million books sold in one day. The years spent on the NYT Best Seller lists. The hit movies adapted from your novels.

You see, I'm a rarity. A writer wannabe who doesn't hate you. Doesn't criticize your work. And sure as hell, doesn't envy your success.

Especially that last one. I've seen the vicious blog posts, the vapid reviews and the vindictive tweets. I admired the way you smile through such adversity, all the way to the bank.

When I worked in a bookstore a few years ago, I fielded many complaints from customers about a certain book of yours. That you'd be condemned to Hell for writing it. That anyone who read it would also meet your fate. Since I'm going to Hell anyway for my beliefs (according many of the same people who criticized you, your work and your fans), I wanted to learn more about one of the gentlemen who would be joining me in the infernal domains.

You know what? I liked The DaVinci Code. It was a fun, rollicking rollercoater of an afternoon read on a dreary winter Sunday. But my opinion doesn't matter.

The real question here is 'Are you, Dan Brown, still having fun writing?' With all the crap you recieve on a daily basis, do you still get excited as you sit down with your computer, notepad or typewriter? To paraphrase Paul Stanley, since you don't have to worry about the money anymore, are you still having a blast?

Because if we end up in Hell, you will be forced to write books like The DaVinci Code, and I will be forced to read them. Forever.

Guess what? I'm looking forward to it.

Until then, enjoy your success, Mr. Brown. You've earned it.

Friday, September 11, 2009

When It Rains, It Pours. . .

. . .and I'm not talking about Morton salt either.

I started my blog on Sunday. I had part of the holiday to write rough drafts of some ideas.

And POW! I had two requests for fulls on the ms I started submitting to agents last month. LOL Go figure. So instead of editing blog material, I did one last sweep through my ms and synopsis before sending my little children out in the world. It's kind of like making sure the kid's coat is zipped/buttoned before he heads out to play in the snow.

Then one of my crit partners finished her contracted manuscript the same day I got the agent requests. All I do is proof the darn things (she's a pretty clean writer though she claims otherwise) and point out problems like the fact that Mustangs do not have four doors.

CC: But I checked with my husband! He said they did.

Me: Steve needs to turn in his man card. Now.

So go play nicely until Monday while I read CC's book.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Happy Labor Day

What's your plans for Labor Day? Maybe a picnic? A cook-out with your friends and family? I can already smell the smokers and grills heating up for the massive amount of food to be barbequed by the neighbors in a couple of hours.

As you eat those delicious hamburgs and brisket, give a little prayer of thanks to those who made this day possible. Those carpenters, coal miners, and folks from every other industry who marched, unionized and fought for decent wages, reasonable work hours, and safety procedures. The social workers who battled to get children out of factories and into school. The folks who strove to turn a local acknowledgement of the American worker into a national holiday.

And I'll be thinking of you lucky dogs as I head off to work this afternoon. LOL

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Like a Virgin

Okay, I did it. I finally did it.

The thing all my published friends said I should do. The thing my husband has been trying to talk me into for years. The thing the experts said will make me more popular.

Yep, this is my first blog. Isn't she pretty?

What am I going to blog about? The title says it all. Where else on the internet are you going to find witch doctors (i.e. a witch who holds a medical degree), amish vampires and tabloid zombies? So, buckle up and enjoy the ride!