Thursday, September 30, 2010

All-American Editing

Currently reading - Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni P. L. Kelner

I've been editing a manuscript for the last couple of weeks (which is part of the reason I'm still reading the Harris and Kelner anthology).  Some people complain about editing.  It's the slow, tedious part of the job.  It delivers sucker punches to your ego.  It's the ugly trench work of the literary world.

To me, editing displays one of three things (sometimes all on the same page):

1)  God, I am so dumb.  I know how to spell 'the.'

2)  What the hell was I drinking when I wrote this?

3)  Wow, not half bad.

Last night, I reviewed the chapter where the heroine's brother dies in her arms.  Nearly two years after I wrote the original scene, it still makes me cry.

And the hope goes on. . .

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tweet Tweet

Currently reading - Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni P. L. Kelner

I broke down and opened a Twitter account.  I'd like to think of it as networking.  Something necessary to keep up with industry news, what agents want, new trends editors are looking for, etc.

Oh, let's face it.  I wanna be one of the cool kids.

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Ten Commandments

Currently reading - Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni P. L. Kelner

If you haven't read this and you're a writer, I strongly urge you to check out Steve Laube's Ten Commandments for Working with Your Agent.  (Link courtesy of Jay Lake.)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Star Trek vs. Frasier

Currently reading - Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni P. L. Kelner

Can't remember when this skit was performed, but it wasn't the first time the casts mixed it up.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Old Spice, Lovecraft-style

This video by Dung Beetle Comics is definitely worth the Diet Pepsi out the nose feeling.

Friday, September 24, 2010

TV Reports

Currently reading - Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni P. L. Kelner

I actually managed to catch two new shows this week.

If I were grading, I'd have to give $h*! My Dad says a C+.  William Shatner and new kid, Jonathan Sadowski, have some good chemistry, but the writing switched between Jason Halpern's biting wit exhibited in his Twitter feed and book and some really lame canned sitcom jokes.  The dichotomy sucked the life out of the first episode.  Over-hyped?  Probably, but I'm willing to give it another chance.

The real surprise was the new version of Hawaii Five-O.  The cast and crew have turned the original paen to Jack Lord into a pretty good cop/buddy program.  The byplay between Alex O'Loughlin ("Moonlight") as Steve McGarrett and Scott Caan ("Ocean's 11") as Danny Williams was freaking hysterical.  The catch phrase, "Book 'em, Danno," turns into sly mockery over the inability of Williams's daughter to say 'Daddy' as a toddler.

Of course, the absolute topper was James Marsters ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer", "Angel") playing the terrorist who murders McGarret's father.  Oh, it would have been so much better if McGarret hadn't killed him at the end of the premiere episode.  Marsters so could have pulled off a new version of arch nemesis Wo Fat.  I have to give the new show A- for not thinking ahead.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Finally! A New TV Show I'm Looking Forward To. . .

Since Dirt was cancelled two years ago, there hasn't been a new show on TV that's attracted my attention.

Until now.

Justin Halpern's hilarious Twitter feed, Shit My Dad Says, has been adapted to the small screen. The show, renamed $h*! My Dad Says, premieres tonight on CBS at 7:30 PM CDT. Heck, I even asked for tonight off from work so I can watch it.

Anybody else got a new show they're dying to watch?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Preferences, Pot and Human Nature

Currently reading - Christie Craig's draft of Don't Mess With Texas

If you haven't followed the ping-pong match debate between Eric at Pimp Your Novel and superagent Janet Reid about revealing your agents preferences publicly, I suggest you go look at their blogs now. I'll wait.

. . .

The debate seems simple, doesn't it? Eric says exhibiting such preferences shouldn't matter. Janet says such a public proclamation may be held against a writer.

The problem is they're both right. Eric points out stating what you like about Agent A is no different than stating what you'll do if you win the lottery. Janet acknowledges the ugly side of human nature, that while we'd like to think we're objective, we never truly are.

And before anyone starting jumping up and down screaming that the agents have all the power, let me point out I've seen the reverse as well. I know (or know of) a couple of writers who were rejected by an agent or an editor, only to be not-so-subtly approached by that same agent/editor once the writer had proven themselves. And yes, in some cases, the writer held a grudge. In others, the writer said, "Screw the past. It's business."

Both truth and opinion are scary, double-edged swords. I try not to put anything in my blog that I'd refuse to say in any other public setting. (You also have to realize I had no problem giving a friend a purple vibrator in the middle of Panera's.) Readers know when you're being straight with them and when you're not.

So in the spirit of truth, I'm being totally honest about what I'm currently reading. It's not a slam on Charlaine and Toni that I've put their anthology aside for the next couple of days. It's the reality of publishing that Christie has a deadline hanging over her hat and needs a read-through before turning a manuscript in to her editor.

Besides I have to read the manuscript since Christie started off her research on this book by asking me what the penalities were for elderly people trying to score pot in Texas.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Yo, Contest Winner?

Currently reading - Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner

YO, TESS!! Please contact me! You won a coupon for a free e-book from fabulous author Susan Helene Gottfried.

And I can't contact you when you've got your Blogger profile blocked, sweetie!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Speak And Speaking Out

Currently reading - Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni P. L. Kelner

By now, most of you have heard about the latest YA controversy, this one involving Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. For those who have not read this book, it's the story of a teen girl who was raped and her struggle whether or not to report the incident.

Wesley Scroggins, an associate professor at Missouri State University, wrote an opinion editorial that was published September 18th in the Springfield, Illinois, News-Leader. He called Speak pornography and a how-to guide for sex.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to say on this subject. My problem--I still feel like puking every time I think about Scroggins op-ed piece.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines pornography as "the depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement."

How can the rape of a girl be considered sexually exciting? Or worse, that Scroggins finds such brutality exciting?

Men like Scroggins want women like Halse Anderson to shut up because it makes it that much easier for them to find and control their victims.

Not speaking out against rape is as wrong as the rape itself.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Celebrate a Muppet Anniversary

It's Sesame Street's 41st anniversary with Will. I. Am. If this doesn't cheer you up, you need serious help, dudes and dudettes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Highly Illogical But Entertaining Nonetheless

Currently reading - No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon

I don't normally mention books I haven't read yet, but I so want to read this after watching the trailer. Now I need to clean up the Diet Pepsi that just came out of my nose.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Green-Eyed Monster - Part II

Currently reading - No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Last June, I talked about feeling jealousy over other writers getting what you think you deserve, whether it be appointments, your ultimate agent, contracts, etc.

So what happens when you're on the other side of the equation? You're the recipient of the good fortune, and all of your friends start treating you differently?

It sucks.

The big one.

Here's the thing. When the really good things happen to you, you're going to find out real quick who your friends are. Sometimes it's ugly. Just effing ugly. Guess what? It really isn't you. It's them. And you can't do a damn thing to change their minds.

It doesn't mean you stoop to their level. Be yourself. Be polite. Be reasonable. Be proud of your accomplishments.

And if someone gets in your face, you politely, reasonably, and very firmly tell them they are out of line. Otherwise ignore the naysayers, and remember the people who do appreciate you for being exactly who you are.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


EEK! I got so involved in the causes of WWI that I forgot what time it was.

The winner of a coupon for the e-book Trevor's Song is . . .


The winner of a coupon for the SHG book of her choice is . . .


Ladies, please e-mail me at soharden (at) swbell (dot) net, and we'll get those coupons to you.

Thanks to our wonderful guest Susan Helene Gottfried and to everyone who participated!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

3 Questions and a Contest - Susan Helene Gottfried

Today’s guest was introduced to me through a mutual writing associate. About the only thing we have in common is books, books, and more books. Oh, and major league Pittsburgh sports teams. (Really? We have the same name? I hadn’t noticed.) Nope, me, either. Please welcome author and hostess of the fabulous website West of Mars, Susan Helene Gottfried!

Hi Susan! You write great stories about subjects New York publishers won’t touch. Why, thank you! Ironically, I’m referring to rock’n’roll, not the GLBT arts scene. Tell us more about your latest novel, Trevor’s Song.

Here's the blurb: Fame and Fortune have destroyed many a rock star, but Trevor Wolff has a bigger problem when his best friend Mitchell Voss commits an act of monogamy with sexy artist Kerri Broadhurst.

ShapeShifter band dynamics will never be the same with this new woman on the scene, and the distractions of two girlfriends and a world tour aren’t enough to keep Trevor from feeling like his carefully constructed world is crumbling around him. The pesky little illness he’s been hiding from his band mates isn’t helping, either.

Trevor is determined to drive Kerri away so life can run properly. He’ll do whatever it takes, or die trying, and not just because if he doesn’t get well soon, time might be up for old Trevor. The last person he expects help or sympathy from is Kerri herself, but he may have to make common cause with his enemy if he’s to survive the fallout from the secrets he’s been hiding.

I’ve been dying to know, how did you come up with the name, West of Mars, for your online world?

My husband, who is all kinds of awesome, wasn't comfortable with the idea of having (And not just because most people spell my middle name wrong) We have kids; he wanted something a little less obvious.

West of Mars is, to put it simply, where I live. West of a town called Mars, in Pittsburgh's northern suburbs. But where exactly that is, only my neighbors know!

One of the biggest perks to being West of Mars instead of Susan-dot-com is that I can expand the site to include more than just me. Like my Win a Book publicity blog. That has no business being on an author's website. But on a literary hub like West of Mars? Perfect.

And for the wacky portion of our interview, what’s the best rock movie EVER?

Spinal Tap, of course! Always has been, always will be. Even if Trevor's Song gets made into a movie. Trevor only thinks he goes to eleven.


Susan’s books are available through Lulu or Smashwords. If you want an autographed copy, contact Susan at her e-mail address. For more info on Susan’s own books, her book club and other cool stuff, check out her website West of Mars. You can also follow her through Facebook and Twitter.

Today, we are giving away a coupon to Smashwords for a FREE e-copy of Trevor’s Song to one lucky blog reader. As a bonus, Susan’s also donating a second coupon to a second blog reader for his/her choice of either Trevor’s Song or one of Susan’s short story collections.

That’s right! You’ll have two chances to win!

To enter the drawing, please leave a comment stating your favorite rock movie or book. And please, PLEASE, if you comment anonymously or don’t allow folks to read your Blogger ,profile, leave a contact e-mail!

Per usual, comments will be closed on Thursday, September 16, at 11AM CDT, and GK will draw a name from his Capt. Rex helmet. The winner will be posted at noon.

Legal Caca:

Since we’re giving away e-books, the contest is open to EVERYONE. That’s right, no restrictions! To the FTC right-wing nut-heads, Susan has advertised my interviews and contests on her blog, which officially makes me a publishing slut.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Preamble

Currently reading - No Mercy by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Everything you want to know about what the Founding Fathers intended.

P.S. New contest tomorrow!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

How'd You Learn English Grammar

Currently reading - Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Yes, it's true, and Schoolhouse Rock also taught me the multiplication tables.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

I Remember

On Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001, I watched nearly 3,000 people die on live TV while sitting in the treatment chair at my dentist's office.

When I got home, there was a message from my friend, Lanelle. "Don't bother coming to the office. They're shutting down our building and the Galleria."

I called DH. "Get GK and come home now. It's bad."

The rest of the day we listened to fighters out of Ellington Field fly patrols over Houston. In between the passes, an eerie silence blanketed the city.

Have things gotten better? Yes and no. We heal, but we cannot forget.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Submission Day

Currently reading - Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon

Yet another baby has departed for the wilds of the publishing world. For some folks, the anxiety of submitting is only beginning. They fret and they fume, huddled by their phone or computer. (Though now days it's pretty much the same machine, isn't it?) They chew nails to the quick as they wait for word as to their fate from a person whose hundreds of miles away.

I'm wired differently, as my crit partners who read my blurbs yesterday will attest. I feel a profound sense of relief when I hit 'Send.' My guess is this will be the same feeling I get when I pack GK off to college some day. The feeling that I've done my best, I can't do anything else, and it's time to PARTY!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Things Writers Hate to Write

Currently reading - Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon

For some, it's the dreaded query. For others, it's the soul-sucking synopsis. For me, it's the series blurb.

I'm not saying I find queries and synopses easy to draft. They are difficult in their own right. But I'm usually writing these AFTER I've written the book. Boiling down the essence of something that exists is far easier to me than discovering the essence of something that doesn't exist yet.

And that's the job of a series blurb, to convey what might happen to my heroine if I happen to write the second or third book.

I know this is something I will have to do once I have a multi-book contract. Until then, I will have to learn how to pull things out of my butt as my c.p. Faye would say.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Always Double-Check Your Work

Currently reading - Born of Fire by Sherrilyn Kenyon

"Review your answers before turning in your test." Remember that sage piece of advice from a multitude of teachers?

Same goes for when you get the request for a full or a partial. And yes, I've been double-checking my work for the last three days after receiving a request for a full from someone I'd love to work with in the industry. I've found typos the crit partners, beta readers and I all missed in numerous passes over this manuscript. I've also smoothed out a few awkard phrasings. I want this to be the best damn thing on this editor's desk when I send it.

And I think that's where a lot of newbies trip up. An agent or editor is not going to dock your grade for handing in your homework late. Trust me if they are, that's not someone you probably want to work with. On the other hand, I'm not waiting months and months before I send it in because I want the request still fresh in the editor's mind.

So take a day (or three depending on your life), and look over your manuscript one last time before hitting 'SEND'. You'll be glad you did.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

For those of you with today off, I do hope you enjoy your time with friends and family, or by yourself if that's your thing.

But if you're out and about today, please be extra nice to the hotel maids, life guards, retail clerks and all the other poor folks who must work on this holiday in order to feed their kids.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Common Courtesy Does Not Equal Suck-Up

Currently reading - Blameless by Gail Carriger

I've read several blogs lately (Jessica Faust on the Bookends blog being the latest) where the blog author comments on the lack of civility in today's society. Almost immediately, the blog author is flamed. If the bloggist is an agent or editor, they are accused of demanding sychophants in order to gain entrance into the secret world of publishing. If the bloggist is a writer, then they are accused of brown-nosing.

It's not a matter of putting on a game face as Jessica put it. It's called common courtesy. One is polite to one's fellows until such point as there is a real reason not to.

My encounter at Lowes earlier this week is a prime example. I was polite up to the point where the manager dished an obvious line of BS. I said he needed to talk with the installer and the orginal salesperson in order to sort out the misunderstanding and then call us. DH asked for a specific date of when we could expect to hear from the original salesperson. Needless to say that date has passed, and we are on the search for another door vendor.

Did I expect the manager to kiss my butt? No, I expected him to do his job in a polite, reasonable manner.

Publishing is no different. Agents and editors expect writers to produce a quality product in a polite, reasonable manner. We expect agents and editors to perform their duties in the same manner. So please explain to me, how exactly is that sucking up?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Designing Covers

Currently reading - Blameless by Gail Carriger

A nifty little video from Orbit shows how the cover was designed for Blameless. A LOT of work goes into creating the public face of your book, something to consider on your publishing path.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Finding a New Author

First of all, I apologize for missing the last couple of days. Between school starting (I homeschool), GK getting braces, and the stupid people at Lowes giving us the run around about a new back door, I've been a little preoccupied.

As for Lowes, DH always worries when I go silent during an, um, altercation. It nevers bodes well for the person I'm altercating with. I try to be civil, but when I'm on the verge of saying things that would make my cousin E, a marine who did three tours in Iraq, blush, it's time to walk away.

And speaking of strong-willed women who believe in cutting
civility. . .

OMG! I cannot say enough good things about Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate series. Her heroine, Alexia Tarabotti, had me from the beginning and didn't let go. I finished Book 2, Changeless, last night. Well, actually this morning about 1AM. And she had me bawling my eyes out!

It took all of my strength not to launch into Book 3, Blameless. But it's calling for me. . .

But what's it about, Suzan, I hear y'all asking. Think Jules Verne meets Jane Austen with a dash of paranormal thrown in for spice.

Alexia Tarabotti is a spinster in Victorian England who accidentally kills a vampire during a society ball. Hey, it was self-defense. The vamp was a newborn with no clue as to proper etiquette in regards to biting a young lady, even those of the spinsterish variety. This incident puts her at odds with Lord Connall Maccon, the head of the queen's supernatural investigations unit, and a hunky Scottish werewolf to boot. You see, Alexia is a preternatural, aka soulless. One touch from her cancels a supernatural's ability. Lord Maccon fears Alexia has taken up her people's occupation of destroying the supernatural species.

I don't want say anymore for fear of spoiling the story for you. But I cannot wait for Heartless to come out in July of 2011!

Edit: I started Blameless during GK's half-hour reading period today. Now at roughly Page 85.