I write like
Jack London

I Write Like. Analyze your writing!

Monday, July 29, 2013

I'm Such a Dumbass

I decided to re-read George R. R. Martin's Songs of Fire and Ice series. I finally got DH to try A Games of Thrones after he finished Jim Butcher's Cold Days last winter and he needed something new. He wanted to discuss aspects of the books, but it had been sixteen years since I originally read the first book. I didn't remember some of the little things.

So I'm bebopping along a couple of nights ago, and it hits me. I realize who Jon Snow's mother is.

I wanted to smack myself for not realizing it back in 1996. Martin did such a delicate and delicious job of laying down the clues. It's actually been an interesting study as I wrap up Blood Sacrifice.

And this is why writing teachers say you need to read in order to write. By studying the masters, you can figure out their strengths and practice your own version in your manuscripts.

I just hope that George lives long enough to finish the series because I can't wait to find out how Jon and his half-sister kick ass!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Videos I've Been Watching Lately

Here's the always sharp and insightful Robin Williams!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Why The 2013 RWA Conference May Be a Game Changer

I'm making a full disclosure here. I used to be a member of Romance Writers of America.

About a year ago, the president of the last chapter I belonged to e-mailed me: "Why did you quit RWA?" I sent back, "I didn't quit. I just didn't bother sending in my renewal form." Unfortunately, my response mirrored my blase feelings about the organization.

For the last five years, RWA's policies concerning e-publishers such as Ellora's Cave and erotic romance flip-flopped depending on who the national organization's president was. When Harlequin created their vanity publishing arm, they should have been taken off the RWA's acceptable publishers list. And they were--for a few months. A once-proud advocate for writers had literally become schizophrenic.

For me, the beginning of the end as an RWA member came when I decided in February of 2011 to indie publish. Then came the wailing and gnashing of the teeth from fellow writers. I was giving up. I was stupid.  I would never get a New York contract if I dared to *gasp* self-publish.

The things said to my face and whispered behind my back were the types of things I'd managed to survive in high school. The nasty comments on social networks, and the people actively trying to sabotage my sales were another. Funny, all the weird behavior didn't make me angry so much as it just made me tired and sad. My renewal form sat beside my day planner for ten months before I finally tossed it into the trash.

By this time, I was making enough money to quit my day job. But if someone asked (and several people have), I still tell them RWA is a fabulous organization for learning craft, just take their business advice with a grain of salt, a lime, and a bottle of tequila.

Until now...

I heard the first rumor on Monday. Editor and agent pitch slots went unfilled at the RWA National Conference in Atlanta.

This was unheard of! That never happened! The pitch schedule was always full within hours of it going live online. Writers had always waited breathlessly outside the pitch rooms, praying for a last minute cancellation they could grab. Surely, the person must be mistaken.

Then more rumors floated in. 138 slots went unfilled. No, 141. All of them were Harlequin. No, it was a mix between all the publishers. The only confirmed source I can find is a comment from Debra Dunbar at The Passive Voice. If anybody has another source, I'd love to know!

What I can confirm is that the RWA Board of Directors has changed the Rita (published authors) and Golden Heart (unpublished) contest rules for 2014. Self-published authors will be allowed to enter the Rita, and a new erotica category was added to both contests.

Furthermore, several blogs, including Barbara Vey of Publishers Weekly, mentioned that the self-publishing track wrangled together by hybrid writer extraordinnaire Barbara Freethy was standing room only. IN THE FREAKING BALLROOM! Talk about a serious 180 in attitude.

Meanwhile, Barbara O'Neal at Writer Unboxed talks about how "Change has been the word on our lips for at least a couple of years, but the swell was washing over every aspect of the conference this year." She then goes on to say that agents and editors were wooing writers. Well, everyone except Donald Maass. He didn't come out and say the indie publishing phenomenon was stupid as he's done in the past, but read his comment on Barbara's blog. You can taste his fear.

Yep, things are definitely changing at RWA. Will I rejoin though?

Not yet. Given the flip-flopping nature of the beast, I'll wait a little while longer and see if the changes stick.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

When Indies Get Bad Reviews for Being Indies

Even though e-books now consist of 20-30% of the market, depending on the source of the statistic, even though indie writers are regularly hitting the top ten of the New York Times bestseller list, even though you can have a hard time telling the difference between trad-pubbed and indie-pubbed books unless you check who the publisher is, there are reviewers who have made it their life mission to mark as many indie book as they can with one-star reviews.

Many indie writers get absolutely livid over this. I totally understand their feelings. It isn't fair. Especially when they've shelled out the money for a top-notch editor and cover artist. In fact, those writers have done everything a publishing house has done, in some cases even better, but still they get shit on for daring to break the chains the big publishing houses tried to bind them with, therefore they must be punished.

And honestly, some of the reasons of these reviewers are kind of silly. An Oxford comma enthusiast counts down an indie author for failing to use it. Others become enraged if an author uses the British spelling for words.

But those are mild compared to a friend or family member jealous of what they perceive of the indie writer's undeserved success. It doesn't matter if the writer is like me--making just enough to pay the law school loan and buy two pizzas IF Papa John's is running a special.

So what's an indie author to do?

First of all, if there's a definite pattern of harassment from the same person, there may be a law against it where you live. Many states and countries are cracking down on cyber-bullying. Check with your local law enforcement or an attorney about the steps you need to take to document the culprit's actions and protect yourself if necessary.

Otherwise, you may need to ignore it. I understand; I'm not one to back away from a fight either.

Unfortunately, there are some so-called reviewers who are nothing more than drama queens. They stir the pot just to see what kind of trouble they can cause. They thrive on the attention, and frankly, I pity their real-life family and friends.

Others are trolls. They hope to poke at you enough to prompt an emotional outburst, so they can sit back and laugh at you.

The third type just really didn't like your book. Guess what? You can't make everyone like you or like your book.

The last type think they are really doing you a favor. It's no more or no less than what can happen in a critique group. Try to pull the constructive criticisms out (if you can) and let the rest go.

If you're getting a tremendous amount of one-star or two-star reviews, take a step back and try to analyze the comments dispassionately. (It's hard, I know. Those stories are your babies!)

If you've truly become the target of a vendetta, your best bet may be to unpublish the book, and re-publish it as a new book to purge the harassing reviews.

If you're getting a lot of the fourth type of review, seriously look at your work. Could the cover or blurb be better? Have you put your book under the wrong category? DO you have too many typos? These are all things that can be fixed! That's one of the joys of indie publishing!

When it comes down to a few people hating the story but lots of four- and five-star reviews, ignore the naysayers. You're on the right track!

[Note: Can you tell which of the books above was produced by a traditional publisher?]

Monday, July 22, 2013

My First Time Doing Proofs

Like I said back in May, I sold a story to Sword and Sorceress 28. On Friday, July 5th, I got the proofs from editor Elisabeth Waters. For the whole damn book, not just my story.

You have no idea how hard it's been NOT to read the other authors' stories. Mainly, because I want to order the volume and devour it in a weekend like I normally do. Then there's the added joy that my story is right next to Deborah J. Ross (aka Deborah Wheeler). Fan girl *squeeeeeeeeee*

In a way, it's unsettling seeing how my writing will look in a print book. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I need to tackle putting my indie books in print, and I'm slightly intimidated. Maybe because I didn't think this day would ever come with the tightening of the trad market.

I tried to relay my concerns to DH that evening. He pointed out that maybe it would be more time efficient for me to hire people to do the formatting and covers for the print editions. When I showed him some of the designers and artists and laid out their costs, he surprised me by saying, "That's it? We need to start hiring people to help you, so you can get more writing done."

I keep forgetting that he deals with five- and six-figure contracts as a matter of business, so my piddly three-figure costs are nothing to him.

But for now, I need to keep my attention on my business, which means returning my proofs to my editor on time.

By the way, have I said how excited I am about being in Sword and Sorceress 28?

Sunday, July 21, 2013

BAMF Girls Club Is Back!

Yes, ma'am! Episode 9 was released this week. And go to www.comediva.com to check out their new comic, too!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Changing the Creepy Guy Narrative - WWW Edition

With all the talk of what constitutes harassment in the SFF community, the incredible Jay Lake had a link to Chris Brecheen's experience on BART. Go read it please.

Twenty-five years ago, I had a similar experience on the D.C. Metro. A young man was lliterally hitting on every woman in the car. They scrunched away from him, looking fearful. I think what pissed me off the most was the amusement on the male passengers' faces. I watched him ask the woman in the seat in front of me for a date. I watched her cringe and say "No."

More than than once. Just like every other woman.

So of course, he moved and sat down next to me. Before he could say anything, I said, very loudly, "No. I'm not interested."

On the plus side, he got up, found an empty seat, and didn't bother the three women sitting behind me. But you should have seen the ugly looks I got from every other passenger, including the women he had been bothering. You would have thought I'd kicked his puppy.

At the time, I was living with my cousin who was a police officer in D.C.

At the time, D.C. was the murder capital of the U.S.

At the time, women were expected to be nice to men no matter what, and as my cousin said, that was a receipe to get raped and murdered.

Maybe I've been lucky. I've projected an image of "Don't fuck with me" all my life. Originally just to keep from getting beat up in the high school girls' bathroom.

In fact, one of the security guards at the D.C. office where worked stopped me one day after lunch and asked where I served.

"Served?" I know I had a puzzled look on my face.

"Yeah," he said. "Which branch?"

I laughed. "Never. Sorry."

He shrugged. "Oh, well, you walk like a vet."

So much for my mom's attempts to make me adopt a "lady-like" walk. My stubbornness and my super-cool cousin have probably saved my life more than once.

Now that I think about it, my mother tried to get me to adopt the very behaviors that would make me a victim. I resisted, but what about all other women in vulnerable positions? If we don't stand up for each other, who will?

I applaud Chris's behavior that day on BART, but guys like him are few and far between. We can't rely on white knights to save us, ladies.

We need to save ourselves.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Total Stranger Outed Robert Galbraith

An update to yesterday's post:

I was totally wrong! The lawyer did it! Sort of...

Chris Gossage, a partner at the British law firm Russells, told his wife, who then told her best friend Judith Callegari. Callegari sent the tweet, but Gossage may have just ruined his firm's reputation. Who's going to trust a lawyer who can't keep his mouth shut?

And what the hell possessed a total stranger to out J.K. Rowling as Robert Galbraith? Unresolved writer-wannabe issues?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Who Outed Mystery Writer Robert Galbraith?

Much of what I'm about to talk about I already said in a comment at The Passive Voice. But here's the facts we do know.

1) Mulholland Books, a line at Little, Brown, & Company, released The Cuckoo's Calling in April of 2013 by a supposed debut mystery writer Robert Galbraith. According to ABC News, approximately 1500 copies of the hardcover book purchased between its release and July 14, 2013. It had several glowing reviews at this point.

Note: These numbers are not shabby for a debut hardcover.

2) On Friday, July 14, 2013, an employee at the Sunday Times London office received a Twitter tip that Galbraith was in fact famed Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling. She passed the tip to editor Richard Brooks who started digging into Galbraith's publishing history. Meanwhile, the anonymous tweeter deleted his/her tweets and account from Twitter.

3) After discovering that Galbraith and Rowling shared the same agent, publishing house and editor, Brooks sent copies of The Cuckoo's Calling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, and Casual Vacancy to two language experts.

4) When both linguists confirmed that there was a strong possibility that the same person wrote all three novels, Brooks e-mailed Rowling Friday night and asked her point-blank if she was Galbraith. On Saturday, a spokesperson for Rowling confirmed the truth, and Rowling subsequently issued a statement.

5) The Cuckoo's Calling shot to number one on Amazon by Saturday afternoon, and hardcovers in the U.K. had sold out.

The big question for a lot of people is why would a international sensation like Rowling hide her identity when her name alone would guarantee millions in sales.

Frankly, I think it comes from two things.

The first is basic writer insecurity. It doesn't matter if we're one of the richest people in the world. There's a little voice at the back of our heads whispering, "You got lucky. You're really an untalented hack."

The second problem comes from writing in a different genre. Readers, and in a lot of cases publishers, expect you to write the same thing over and over and over again. Heaven forbid if you try something new to stretch yourself.

In Rowling's case, there's a third problem. She's judged negatively simply for being successful. If you read some of the blogs, comments or reviews, there's a huge amount of hate being spread around along with accusations of her lying or trying to trick readers. All of the 1-star reviews posted on Amazon US were posted AFTER the news broke.

I know this will be the unpopular position, but frankly, I feel sorry for Joanne. No matter what she does, it’ll be roundly criticized.

- She writes another children’s novel? It’s not Harry Potter.
- She writes another Harry Potter? She’s milking the cash cow.
- She writes an adult book? She’s just taking advantage of her fame.

Many of the WRITERS criticizing her are the same ones who proclaim, “If I couldn’t write, I would just DIE. I HAVE to write!” Put yourself in her shoes. Nearly every writer wants to be read. All of us know what it’s like getting bad review, but what do you do when people hate on you just for existing? In her case, it’s more than the ex or the crazy aunt or the jealous friends, so I totally understand the fake persona.

So the question becomes who was Richard Brooks's Deep Tweet?

Given the circumstances and Ms. Rowling's very sad public statement, I sincerely doubt it was her. She gotten to the point in her career that she doesn't need the money. In fact, she gives away millions to charities every year. What she wants most after the trashing she received over Casual Vacancy is the validation that she is a good writer. She had a vested interest in keeping her identity secret as long as possible. It gives her the opportunity to write what she wanted without fear of extreme repercussions.

So was someone close to her responsible? A desperate attempt to hurt her? It happened to Stephenie Meyer when a beta reader leaked an early draft of Midnight Sun. People can exhibit very odd behavior if they do not believe they are getting the attention, commendations, or rewards for their support of the star. But the only known problems within her family are the estrangement with her father. And if she's not talking to Dad, she'd definitely NOT going to let him know that she has a new book coming out under a pseudonym.

And that thought leads me to who has the most to lose if The Cuckoo's Calling is not more than a moderate success. Fifteen percent of a million dollars is a hell of a lot of money. Fifteen percent a billion even better, but would her agent stab her in the back and thereby risk getting fired? Especially since he's producing a BBC series based on Casual Vacancy? Neil Blair doesn't strike as that stupid.

Which bring me to her publisher. Little, Brown & Company is a subsidiary of Hatchette Group, which in itself is owned by Hatchette Livre, the largest publisher in France and currently the second largest publisher in the world. Hatchette is also one of the big five publishers accused of colluding with Apple. Hatchette and the other four publishers settled with the U.S. government. Apple went to trial and lost. And that doesn't even touch the E.U.'s investigation into the matter.

In addition to the millions Hatchette will have cough up for the U.S. settlement, they haven't really had a major book hit since Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series. Out of all of Rowling business associates, they have the motive to "leak" the news that Rowling is Galbraith.

I have a very strong suspicion that Brooks's Deep Tweet is an employee at Hatchette. Eventually, the truth will come out. The publishing industry likes to gossip too much for it not to.

Note: And I was totally wrong! The lawyer did it! Chris Gossage, a partner at the British law firm Russells, told his wife, who then told her best friend Judith Callegari. Callegari sent the tweet, but Gossage may have just ruined his firm's reputation. Who's going to trust a lawyer who can't keep his mouth shut?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Movie Mania - Despicable Me 2

We desperately needed a packing break, so we hit the first matinee for Despicable Me 2 yesterday morning before going out to lunch. Surprisingly, the sequel holds up pretty well.


***


SPOILERS


***

Gru faces a range of problems in the first five minutes of the film, ranging from the fairy he hired for Agnes's birthday canceling way PAST the last minute to Dr. Nefarious quitting because Gru just isn't evil enough any more. The funniest bits are the next-door-neighbor constantly trying to set Gru up with her friends and Margo's new-found interest in the opposite sex.

In the middle of the family drama, an MI6-type organization tries to hire Gru to find a stolen secret serum because with three daughters and the fact that he stole then returned the moon, he's no longer considered a super-villain.

Pros
1) One of the best things about the original was that the Minions didn't take over the movie. The matching best thing about the sequel is that not only are the Minions integral to the plot, but we find out how much Gru considers them family as well.

2) Benjamin Bratt! He was the only reason I watched Law &Order. (Yes, I AM that superficial,) Mr. Bratt does a fanta-bulous job that you don't miss Al Pacino as Gru's antagonist. And if you're like me, you didn't even KNOW that Al Pacino was supposed to be in this movie.

3) Neither the girls or the love interest were helpless females. They ALL kicked ass in this movie.

4) Mr. Ramsbottom, aka Mr. Sheepsbutt. Yes, I am that juvenile. More so than my thirteen-year-old son.

5) Other than one scene that ran five seconds too long, DM2 didn't go ape-shit crazy with the 3D effects like Oz: The Great and Powerful did. Tasteful, guys. Tasteful.

Cons
1) In an otherwise perfect movie, there was a sexism issue that really bothered me. Why do we still consider men to be incompetent parents? Margo, Edith and Agnes are safer and better-cared for with Gru than they ever were at the orphanage with Miss Hattie. This sexism leads to an almost palpable obsession to set Gru up with a woman. The writers could have still had a lot of fun with neighbor Jillian's match-making attempts without letting anything happen--yet.

As a result of this obsession for pairing, the romance between Gru and Lucy felt rushed and forced. I'm not saying that the element totally failed. I just think it would have worked better in a third movie and it should have been given more time. This movie could have had everything, but the Lucy subplot, and still been an excellent story. I would have rather seen Lucy, Sheepsbutt and their Anti-Villain League in a third movie that could have expanded on the girls' growing up issues.

Over all, I give Despicable Me 2 a 9 out of 10, but Pharell Williams and Heitor Pereira's soundtrack gets a perfect score!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

More Videos I've Been Watching Lately

Oops! Just a little late tonight. Yes, I'm still on a Christopher Titus kick.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I Lost My Nook Press Virginity

The same morning that news of William Lynch's resignation as CEO of Barnes & Noble filled the publishing industry's blogosphere, I uploaded a book to Nook Press for the first time. Compared to Pubit!, the experience frankly sucked.

First of all, I had to access the portal through Chrome because it decided it didn't like IE8. Yeah, yeah, I'm still on WindowsXP, and I know I need to upgrade to a new computer. I will not sully Isabella with Vista, and she can't handle Windows7, much less 8. I've never been able to get FireFox to work right on Isabella.  All of this to say, I HATE FUCKING CHROME!

Instead of one page to fill out, B&N have broken it into five different pages. Instead of letting me fill in the blanks, they're trying to "help" by pre-populating fields. That course of action isn't helpful when I'm uploading a book under Alter Ego.

On the plus side, B&N now lets you upload a cover that's the same size as Amazon, Apple and Smashwords. It's a relief not to have an extra cover file clogging up my directories.

The most annoying problem was the pricing page. For some reason, Nook Press decided it wasn't going to recognize my $2.99 the first time I saved the page. It took four tries before it would finally recognize the same input and let me publish the damn book.

I discovered another quirk. If you're on the Sales page, Nook Press will not let you log out. It merely flashes the options, but if you try to click on it, the logout button disappears. Go to the Projects page, and it will let you log out just fine. Note: This problem only happened on Tuesday. In subsequent logons, I haven't been able to replicate the bug.

Normally, I'd report the bugs, but in this case, I know they will be ignored. Everyone at B&N is too busy updating their resumes.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Judge Cote Takes a Bite Out of Apple

I should have commented on the DOJ v. Apple lawsuit yesterday when Judge Denise Cote handed down her decision in the matter. The problem was I couldn't stop laughing.

Folks, if you break the law, the excuse of "The Devil made me do it!" is NOT a defense. Substitute "Amazon" for "The Devil" and the results will be pretty much the same. Don't believe me? Try it the next time you get pulled over for speeding.

Not once did Apple present any evidence that they did not collude with five of what-was-then the Big Six publishing houses. (Random House, which was not accused of conspiracy to fix prices, has since merged with Penguin.)

If you don't believe me, feel free to examine the evidence (which is public in the U.S.), and read Judge Cote's opinion.

Of course, Apple will spend millions to fight this all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. On one hand, I'd love to be one of their attorneys.

On the other hand, I don't want to be associated with stupid clients.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Barnes & Noble Merry-Go-Round

I had lots of post topics for this week, but Monday's late afternoon news blew everything else away. Two weeks after Barnes & Noble stated they were withdrawing from the tablet business and less than a week after they announced the imminent closing of Pubit!, their self-publishing initiative (don't worry, it's being replaced by Nook Press), B&N's CEO William Lynch resigned.

Since the resignation was effective immediately, the consensus among various pundits is that Lynch was asked to leave after the corporation's losses doubled last quarter from the quarter before. There's a lot of speculation of what happens next. The fact that the CFO Michael Huseby was named the CEO of Nook Media, LLC, and president of Barnes & Noble is cause for concern. Based on my past experience, bean counters as boss usually spells disaster for a company.

Was Len Riggio, B&N's chairman and main shareholder, serious about taking the company private last spring? He filed paperwork with the SEC to that effect, but nothing has been done in that regard (at least, not publicly). Will Riggio take B&N private in an attempt to save it? Was he only looking to prop up the falling stock price? Is he and the board planning to sell off the Nook division, or are they now planning to let it die quietly?

As for how everything will affect publishers, both trad and indie, losing a large retailer will be rough, but survivable. Still, I would hate to see Barnes & Noble disappear into the sunset like so many other book stores.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Movie Mania - The Lone Ranger

I forced the family to go see The Lone Ranger because, well, it's Johnny Depp.

Yes, I have issues.

You would think that the team that turned a Disneyland ride into a multi-billion dollar franchise would have no problem doing the same to a classic radio/TV program. Unfortunately, the movie's budget has been questioned by Disney's CEO over its super-long production cycle, there's been controversy over the casting of Johnny Depp as a Native American, and the critics have royally trashed it. It's neither as good as it could have been or as bad as critics have would have you believe.

Pros
1) In this version, Tonto has more common sense smarts than the Ranger.

2) Tonto's origin story is shown as well as the Ranger's. There's some really good characterization that I wish the writers and director had embellished.

3) William Fichtner did a delightfully evil job as Butch Cavendish, so much so that I didn't recognize him and was flabbergasted when the credits rolled.

4) Helena Bonham Carter and her artificial leg rocked. Trust me, you have to see the movie to understand.

Cons
1) I normally love mixed genre movies, but the writers did some paranormal stuff that didn't match even my sense of weirdness. It's pretty bad when DH leans over and says, "That rabbit, he's a killer." Other times, the story swung between action-adventure and spoof.

2) Nothing against Armie Hammer. He did the best he could with the script, but the Lone Ranger should have died in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. Yes, he was that much of a tenderfoot, and it did not improve.

3) The story needed some serious pruning. SERIOUS pruning. The framing story of a 100-year-old Tonto relating his adventures to a young fan should have been ditched entirely. The kid asking questions of Tonto kept yanking me out of the story. The rest needed to be tightened.

Overall, I give The Lone Ranger a 7 out of 10. A fun afternoon if you have nothing else better to do or if you're a huge Johnny Depp fan. Otherwise, you might want to wait until it comes out on DVD.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Comedians I've Been Watching Lateley

Yep, I'm still on a Christopher Titus kick. I totally get turning your personal agony into art.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pubit!'s Pink Slip Has Been Served

If you're like me and have avoided switching over from Pubit! to Nook Press, you probably got your termination notice on Tuesday like I did. It's true. After three glorious *cough*cough* years, Barnes & Noble is retiring Pubit! It's official last date will be Wednesday, July 10th.

I resisted switching over to Nook Press in April after hearing some of the horror stories coming from other users. Delays, missing books, disappearing metadata. Then there was the total unresponsiveness of the Barnes & Noble support team. Egads! What was the point of changing when Pubit! was working so well for me?

But they're shutting down Pubit!, so yesterday, I bit the bullet and hit the switch. Maybe I lucked out, or maybe they'd already moved my data over to the new system, but once I accepted the T&C, everything was where it was supposed to be.

On the plus side, Nook Press has a spot for my publishing company's website (yet another thing on my gigantic to-do list). All my banking info was there. I'm waiting to see if something gets screwed up along the line.

We'll find out soon when Blood Sacrifice and Alter Ego's latest go live over the next few weeks. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Why So Serious?

The Dark Knight's Joker has a point. I see far too many writers taking their craft far too seriously these days. In fact, it's getting to the point where I'm depressed reading their blogs, tweets and Facebook pages.

If they're that much into masochism, why not join FetLife.com, find a good sadist, and have a spanking good time?

1) If you don't like to write, then don't do it.

Why waste your life doing something you hate? At least, I figured that one out before I turned fifty. I spent too much of my time doing things for reasons that had nothing to do with me. I HATED it. And one day, I finally asked myself, "What the hell are you doing?"

2) If writing is not fun for you, why are you doing it?

I'm not saying every emotion you should feel while writing should be bliss. You should be crying when your hero's steadfast brother dies. You should be terrified when zombies attack your pregnant heroine. By identifying with your protagonist, your writing leaps off the page/screen. But if you don't enjoy the process, why are you torturing yourself?

3) If you can think of fifty other things you'd rather be doing instead of writing, maybe it's not for you.

I read a post recently where the writer wailed how agonizing it was to put fifty words on the page. Um, really? Is it that bad? I can understand if you have fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, or some other problem that makes it physically difficult or downright painful to type or write, but that wasn't this writer's problem. I'm a slow typer and fifty words take me 8.3 minutes. That's the time it takes me to eat my English muffin and hard-boiled egg for breakfast.

I'm not talking about burn-out, which is when you really need a mental break. But go read a couple of chapters from a novel, watch an episode of The Big Bang Theory, play with your cat, then come back to your wip. If you still feel like your wasting your time, you need to ask yourself some hard questions.

4) Build it and they will come.

I'm not trying to be a negative-Nelly, but I find far too many people either looking for a quick buck or fame. If you truly want to tell stories (because deep down, that's what writing really is), you will keep working at it.

Remember one thing--Just like Ray in Field of Dreams, your successes arrived on their schedule, not yours. When Ray plowed his field under, did it happen? No. Ray still had to find Terrence and Archie and build the stadium. Everything was necessary before Ray could be reunited with his father. But Ray kept working at his dream.

***
One of our jobs as writers is to speak the truth, but truth is a mutable concept. The first thing we must do is acknowledge the truth within ourselves. Is writing the path we are supposed to be on? Or are we doing it to fulfill some other wish or fantasy?

There's a great scene within Neil Gaima's The Sandman. Death is collecting souls, and a baby who died from SIDS asks her why he died so soon. He never got a chance to do anything. Death replies, "You get what everyone gets. A lifetime."

That was my turning point. I didn't want to waste what's left of my life in a career I hated. I'll admit the words come slower some mornings than others. But right now, the fulfillment I feel in writng is worth getting to this point in my life.

I hope everyone finds their turning point.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday Movie Mania - Monster University

Our movie quota is a little low this summer, but we all decided we needed a break from packing up the house yesterday afternoon (not to mention both house A/C units were straining to deal with the 100+ heat here in Texas).

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SPOILERS!!


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Monster University is the second best of all the Pixar sequels (in my opinion, Toy Story 3 holds top spot). The POV is mainly from Mike this time. It's the story of why and how he pursued his dream of being the top scarer. Of course, he meets Sully and Randall in college.

It's not the obvious switch of Randall starting out as Mike's friend and roommate and Sully being his rival that's the attraction. Instead, Pixar turns this into a pretty funny and touching twist on Revenge of the Nerds.

Both Mike and Sully thrown out of the MU scare program after a fight between the guys results in the destruction of the dean's trophy. Mike plots to get back in, and super-jock Sully realizes the little green geek is his only chance to uphold his family's honor as noted scarers.

They manage to pull off their plan, but only by Sully cheating. Mike finds out, is totally furious, then does something incredibly stupid to try to prove his scare abilities to both himself and the dean.

Writing a prequel is rough because the audience knows how the story had to end. But it's fun to see how the boys turn into the monsters they become, and it's not quite how you expect, which is always a delight that Pixar delivers.

I'd give Monsters University a 9.5/10.