A game! A game!

I'm about to make an extreme and hard to believe statement. Ready? Here goes...

I have not watched television for over four years.

See, I have a TV, but it's been playing movies and exercise videos only. I never hooked it up to an antenna or cable. I didn't have anything against television, there just wasn't anything on that I liked well enough to put up with the time drain.

Well now there is. And thanks to the marvels of the Internet, I'm a full-fledged addict again. I want to see every episode, possible multiple times, and talk about it to my friends. I glue myself to my computer to catch the newest episodes. I am pathetic. *grin*

What is this magic program that has brought me back to the television fold? Guess.

No, I'm serious. Guess. Down in the comments section. Go on. I'll give you three hints.


Hint #1 There are actually two television shows that I watch now. So you can guess one or both.

Hint#2 They're both an hour long.

Hint#3 I like one because it's hilarious and one because it's fascinating.

So leave your answer in the comments section and we'll see who's closest!

PS. Nic, sorry but you can't play. Since you and Bekah got me HOOKED IN THE FIRST PLACE!

No one ever told me what to do when I run out of ideas.

Hey all! Here are some notes from AgentQuest...

From form rejections, I have discovered that "right" is an agent's favorite word.

"This project is not right for us"
"I am not the right agent for your work at this time."
"We did not feel it was the right fit for our agency at this time."

(Various references to time were also popular....)



But form rejections are what they are: form rejections. What were interesting were the two rejections I got for partials.


"This shows promise but it's not ready for publication--at least in my opinion."
"I didn’t quite find myself investing in the narrative as I would have liked."

Now all of these notes, especially the responses to partials, were kind and professional and emphasized the subjective nature of the business. What one agent does not like, another may adore, etc. And I do have one agent that requested a full that I'm still waiting on.

However, I'm thinking the book may need another overhaul.

*insert heavy sigh here*

The problem is, I feel like I've reached the limit of my knowledge. I simply don't know what to do to it, what it needs. This is an odd feeling, and one I've never had before.

So, assuming I'm not giving up, (which I'm NOT) where do I go from here?

A good reason to be out of town...

Ahhh!!!! Late post!!!

For those of you who don't know, I've been up in Coeur d'Alene visiting family and I have an announcement to make.

Meet Chloe....




As of Monday afternoon, Chloe is officially a member of my family, adopted by my sister and brother-in-law. In a very legally binding and permanent sense. Hooray!!

Adoptions are awesome, I gotta tell you.

See you Saturday!

NETM: Hyenas eat fur seals.

So I know some of you just read that twice. Sounds weird, doesn't it? But it's true! I saw it on a nature program this week.

Apparently, there are a lot of fur seals off the coast of southern Africa. And there are also hyenas in southern Africa. So the hyenas prey on the fur seals on a regular basis.

I know a fair bit about the animal kingdom, but this was something that never occurred to me. And it just felt wrong. This is how it goes in my head:

Hyenas= savannah/desert= hot weather

AND

Seals=ocean/ice floes=cold weather.


Right? I mean putting the two together is just wrong, wrong, wrong.

But if you think about it, it makes sense. Go far enough south, you'll end up with cooler weather, and if you walk across the land, you will eventually hit the sea.

Normally I don't think of myself as someone who likes to put things in boxes, but this made me wonder. How often do I see the world as neatly compartmentalized for my convenience? How often do I ignore the way that all life flows in and out of each other?

Like north turning into south turning into north again. Like hyenas eating seals.

It's funny when it happens with animals. But how often do I do it with people? How often do I put people in neatly labeled files? "Person-Who-Voted-For-Someone-I-Don't-Like" "Grumpy-Jerk-At-Work" "Stupid-Driver-Who-Cut-Me-Off".

And the list of labels is endless. Ignorant, dumb, inconsiderate, lazy, hateful, intolerant, permissive, whining, uncaring, bad work ethic, stuck-up... All the ways we describe people "not like us".

How often do I do it? More than I like to admit, that's for sure.

Is it possible we are all closer than we like to think? An old man who lost his home as a child and spent the rest of his life in a Palestinian refugee camp and an Israeli child whose parents died in a bombing, how close are they on a map of the human heart?

(I realize that's a politically charged example. But I'm not talking about politics, I'm talking about people and individual human experience.)

We don't have to agree with everything everyone does. (Nor should we.) And people are capable of all manner of dumb, mean and downright evil acts. But I do think we divide the world into us and them at our peril. If we do that, we deny "them" the right to feel grief, joy and confusion as great as our own. And we forget that we are not immune to darkness.

It's also bad for us as writers. As writers we must resist the urge to box up life neatly. Writers and artists are people who follow the north-south line, who go far enough to see how close people really are.

And then we go out and tell others about it.

I Never Thought of This...

The universe likes to deluge me with encouragement whenever I get seriously down. So today I'm sharing this with you. Spend the time you would have spent reading my post in listening to this.

You won't be sorry.






What are you looking down here for? Watch the video! :-)

Okay fine, here's another link I found, just for you.

Shamless promotion alert!!!

I firmly believe that one person's success story lifts us all up and gives us the encouragement we need to keep going. And in that spirit, and to inject some positivity into this blog, I want to introduce someone to you.

Here name is Amy Allgeyer Cook, and her first book is being published!!!

*cheers and yelling and clapping*

Amy wrote this book over six years ago and has since written several more, published magazine pieces and studied her craft. She submitted her book manuscripts again and again, to both agents and editors. But no acceptances.

One of her submissions was to the
PM Moon Publisher's First Annual New Authors Writing Contest. And lo and behold, she won the grand prize! Now her book will be out next year, and Amy is in the middle of revisions, marketing plans and out-and-out euphoria.

Want to find out more? Of course you do! Here are some links...

Amy's book blog and livejournal account

PM Moon Contest Winner Press Release


Congratulations Amy! And for the rest of us: Onward! It can be done!

No one ever told me this would be so discouraging...

First off, thank you for all the wonderful information and suggestions about synopses! I'm now a lot more optimistic about my chances of writing a good one.

Unfortunately, that is the extent of my optimism.

Yesterday I lost the last thousand words of my new WIP. And there were a couple of pivotal scenes there introducing a main character and beginning a huge part of the plot. And now I have to try and rewrite them, if I can.

But that's not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the mental block this has put up in my head. My brain hates the idea of rewriting those scenes, especially since they were so difficult to write in the first place. But the way my story is structured makes it impossible to write further without having this character in place.

It has also turned into a huge foothold for self-doubt. I don't know if I can write the scenes as good as they were. Maybe this will be the thing that reveals me to be a bad writer, the thing that proves once and for all that I was just faking it all along...

I'm very sad panda right now.



However... it was only a thousand words, and not two thousand like I originally thought. And I'm still passionate about the story, so that's in my favor.

So today I'll start small-- one paragraph, maybe two. Just to get my bearings. Then I will back up my work, put the matter out of my mind and have a date with my husband.

(We're planning on building a blanket fort in the living room. We're going to hide from the world: turn off our phones, drink hard lemonade and watch movies. It should be a good time.)

Has anyone else lost work? How did you get over the discouragement?

No one ever told me I would hate synopses

So here I am looking for agents. The first round of queries went okay, with mostly form rejections and couple of requests for partials and full. No acceptances yet though. :-(

What I should be doing is polishing the letter/ manuscript in preparation for round two. But I'm not. In fact there's a big wall in my way.

It's called the synopsis.

See, all the agents on my list from now on what synopses with the query letter. Some only want a short synopsis, some want a synopsis of the entire book chapter by chapter, most fall in between. This is a huge problem for one simple reason.

I hate synopses. They make me cranky...


(or grouchy, as the case may be.)

See, I have tried writing them before and they are irritating to me on almost every level. Here are a few examples:

1. I never know what to put in. Every character? Every subplot? If I'm not careful, this could end up being as long as the book itself...

2. I never know what to leave out. Say there are mystery aspects to my book, and the twist at the end is who the killer is. Do I need to say who it is? Can I just say "The main character confronts the killer." Well, maybe not for a complete synopsis, but what about a shorter one?

3. How does one organize it? A paragraph for every chapter? A loose outline? A list of events?

Argh!

Heck, even the word itself is annoying. it's hard to spell and almost as hard to pluralize. If I hadn't had spell-check I would have been writing about synopsis-es.

Argh and Double argh...

I know, I know, being able to summarize my book is a valuable skill and one I'm going to need. And I know it's probably not as hard as I'm making it out to be in my head. I just feel like I know way too little about writing these dang things. Especially for something so important.

Help me out here, oh intelligent and experienced readers. What do I do?

No one ever told me that my phone would hate me.

Yes, it's much later than I usually post. In fact some of you aren't even paying attention to the topic of today, which involves my phone, because you're thinking. "Gosh, why was she so late?" (I know this 'cause I got your email. Hahaha... )

By stunning coincidence "Why was she so late?" was also on the mind of my BOSS this morning when MY STUPID PHONE ALARM DID NOT GO OFF!!!!!

AGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

(In case you're wondering, that is a direct quote. It was, in fact, the first thing I said this morning.)

Apparently, my new phone alarm is a completely different creature than my old phone alarm. I just reset the alarm I'd been using all week instead of making a new one. My phone accepted this change, and displayed the little alarm clock on the front screen, telling me my alarm was on.

But it was LYING.

In reality, my phone alarm was set for Mon-Fri. And today is not Mon-Fri, today is Saturday, so my alarm failed to go off in any way whatsoever. Fortunately my husband woke up five minutes before I was supposed to be at work and looked at the clock.

Even with that bit of heroism, these are the things I did NOT get to do before work today...

1. Eat breakfast
2. Post my blog (which was going to be a lovely funny post on how much I hate synopses.)
3. Wake up.

So there is the answer to the question "Why was I late?" I hope you wonderful readers had a more relaxing Saturday. I now have to go exercise in preparation for eating copious amounts of pizza.

(I also hate trying to figure out the plural of synopsis, but that's a topic for Wednesday.)

The Obligitory "Twilight" Post

I am on a quest to understand the whole Stephanie Meyer thing, or at least feel justified in having a strong opinion about it. But before I give you my opinions, these are some of the things I've heard others say about the series:

"My heart belongs to my boyfriend, but Edward can have my neck." ~seen on a t-shirt.

"It's all about Edward." ~several (married) female friends of mine.

"Stephenie Meyer can’t write worth a darn. She’s not very good." ~Stephan King

And my personal favorite:

"Her books are brilliant, but they're crappy." ~the young daughter of a friend.


So, after reading the first two books, I can tell you this:

1. It is not all about Edward, and he wouldn't get anywhere near my neck

2. There are things to be learned from Stephanie Meyer.

*sound of incredulous gasps*

Yes, I'm serious. So here's the breakdown of the good, the bad, and the ugly for the first two books in the Twilight series.

(There are spoilers coming, just so you know)

THE GOOD:

Pacing: It's all about the pacing. Whatever crimes against language Meyer has committed, she knows how to pace a story. It wasn't so obvious in Twilight, which is slow for the first half, but once the actions starts, it's on. And New Moon rarely slows down. (Which was rather impressive considering the main character is in a serious depression for much of the book.)

Depth: Okay, so Twilight didn't have much of this. It was mostly just Bella/Edward/vampire the whole way through.

New Moon on the other hand was much fuller. You have Bella and Edward and Bella and Jacob. You have Jacob discovering he's a werewolf and complications thereof. You have evil vampires and neutral vampires. You have the werewolf/vampire enmity. All these things play off of each other, making a more interesting story.

Character: So far Jacob (New Moon) is my favorite. And I think that's because he's the most complicated. He starts out as a nice, friendly kid with a crush on Bella. Then he begins to think something is wrong with his friends, as they pull away and join a group of older boys. Then he finds out the reason: they're all werewolves. So now he's not supposed to talk to Bella anymore, and he doesn't like being a werewolf, and he REALLY hates the Cullens, who Bella wants to join. Poor kid.

(Bella was better in New Moon as well. She tries some dangerous stuff and does some self explorations and actually develops a bit of a spine at the end.)

THE BAD:

Language: Not bad language, just messy craft. The books are full of vague adjectives, (Edit- they are also full of adverbs, which are way worse for me, but I 'inexplicably' forgot to mention them. Heehee... ) a major stumbling block for me. I still can't picture certain characters, like Edward, clearly. I didn't feel like I had enough space as a reader to imagine things for myself and so a lot of the description fell flat for me.

Character: Bella doesn't have one, at least not in the first book. She doesn't have a single hobby, all the music she listens to is stuff given to her by someone else, and the only thing we know about her likes and dislikes is that she likes her old truck, she faints at the sight of blood and she hates to dance.

(Because she's a klutz, which is the focal point of her character.)

Also, not to speak blasphemy, but I don't get the whole "Edward" thing. He doesn't seem like a real person to me. The book focuses so much on how perfect Edward is, how strong and talented and smart and tortured, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

I'm sorry, but perfect people are boring. Boring with a capital B.

And all that sweet stuff he says? It didn't resonate with me. It's just vague "I'll love you forever" crap. I like it when romances have people sacrifice things for the other person, when love is more than easily saving someone.

Besides, if we must have sweet nothings, can't they be specific? My husband might tell me that I have gorgeous blue eyes. Or he'll say nice things about my hands or my hair. All Edward can come up with is "you're not ordinary at all", and "I like watching you sleep". Which is kinda creepy coming from a guy you don't know all that well...

(Oh, and lets not forget the "You're exactly my brand of heroin" comment. Who wouldn't melt?)

THE UGLY:

"I went meekly to the desk, my face white for once instead of red, and handed her the signed slip." ~Twilight

Seriously? Could you see your own face? How did you know? Most of the craft issues I just ignored, but this one made me laugh out loud.


"How could I let him give me things when I had nothing to reciprocate with? He, for some unfathomable reason, wanted to be with me. Anything he gave me on top of that just threw us more out of balance." ~New Moon.

If I hated anything about these books, it was this attitude. I wanted to kick Bella for most of the first book and some of the second.

It was all "Edward is so gorgeous and I'm so ordinary", "Edward is a god and I'm unworthy", "Edward is my life, but he can't possibly love me or value me because I'm a worm from the ground".

It was so annoying.

(She gets over that at the end of New Moon, which is good 'cause I don't think I could have sat through any more of that dribble.)


IN CONCLUSION:

If you're getting the sense I liked New Moon better than Twilight, you'd be right. If the second book had been along the same lines as the first one, I probably wouldn't have finished it. But like I said, I learned something:

1. (Almost) Everyone wants a great love story. I've read some awful fiction in the romance section, but it sells because people want to believe they can be loved, no matter how unlovable they feel.

2. You can get away with murder if you keep the story going. Great prose, deep character development, breathtaking description, resonant themes, none of these are about STORY.

To quote Stephan King, (don't tell him) "Only story is about story."

I prefer my stories with more realistic characters and better writing, but in this case I'll take what I can get. And I do intend to read the next two books. I've been hooked enough for that.
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Fabric art in the header by Carol Riggs.