Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monster love

So I noticed today’s date. (I know I’m not terribly observant.) And immediately upon seeing said date, a song began playing in my head. Six more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween…. Remember that? Excitement ensued.

I’m all about Halloween. I love the parties, dressing up, handing out candy to tricker-treaters. It’s my second favorite holiday. (Christmas comes in first.) Halloween is the only holiday that you don’t have to be ’good’ to receive gifts. You can dress how you want, you can prank people, you can be a monster, and it’s perfectly fine.

It is no secret that I love monsters. Especially those misunderstood, trying to be more, monsters. Let’s face it; we all have a bit of monster in us. Don’t believe me? Here is a short quiz that will tell you which kind of monster hides beneath your strikingly human exterior.

Have you ever talked someone into doing something they didn‘t want to do? (vampire, witch)

Put your own needs ahead of others? (all of them)

So needy that you sucked the life force from someone you love? (vampire, siren, medusa, ect.)

Appeared to be something you’re not? (vampire, werewolf, shape-shifter, witch, ghost)

Here’s a big one: Been in love, know that your actions are hurting the one you love, and continued with said actions?

Those of you that can answer NO to the preceding questions are really wonderful beings. Those that can’t--well you’re human, and have a bit of monster in you. Don’t feel bad we all do. That’s why we love a good monster flick or book. The love affair with monsters is really our own need to see someone else act in a fashion we would never consider. They make our ‘good’ seem really good, and our ‘bad’ seems much more humane.

The best monsters, the ones everyone loves, are noble monsters. Those that will kill an entire village to save the one he/she loves. Is it right? Well of course not, but as humans we can watch from afar and feel a sense of justice in the evil. Who hasn’t cheered when a werewolf transmogrified and killed someone, thinking, “Man, that chick had it coming.” Or thought, “I hope that dude gets it first!”

We love it when the big, scary monsters take out the bad guys. Some monsters deserve a stake through the heart, but others--well they are heroes. We want to know them, we want to love them, sometimes, we even want to be them. Deep down inside we can identify with many of them. So celebrate your inner monster, keep it under control, but celebrate it, because it’s just a few more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween……..

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Vampires, dead or undead?

Today’s topic (and maybe the topic for the week) is vampires. Now I know I tend to go on and on about them, but that’s only because they are my favorite non-human entities. I’m still reading on agent/publishing blogs that vampires are dead…again. My problem with what I’m reading is that I don’t believe a word of it.

This might be wishful thinking on my part. After all, I don’t think anyone loves a good vampire story more than I do. According to many (who are supposed to be in the ‘know’), today’s media market is ubber saturated, and readers/viewers are sick to death of it. This reader has to disagree. For the first time in a longggggg time, I have a reason to pay my dish bill. Why? Because there is finally programming I enjoy.

My question for all the in-the-knowers is this: If the market is over saturated, why are people still tuning in? Why are Grandmas walking around the local Wal-Mart with I heart Vampire shirts? Several vampire series that have been out of print for years are reprinting, and once again becoming popular. Why is that powers that be?

Several sources have claimed this is the first time vampires have hit it big in the U.S. Again, I disagree. Vampires have been at the top of the proverbial monster list since Bram Stoker’s time. Every so often, a new writer will come along and even more readers/viewers will join the fangbanger ranks. All this shows me is that those that love them, do so unconditionally. I’d rather watch a B movie about vampires (regardless of how crappy the effects are) than watch a romantic chick flick. ICK! I can’t be the only one that feels that way.

What do you think? Are they dead? Are you sick of them? Should publishers and Hollywood leave them in their coffins?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Day 348

Day 348

Okay where were we? Oh yeah, the hard part…

I can look back on this now and laugh, but at the time I did not find it even slightly amusing. Like many who know nothing about the publishing world, I assumed that editing was combing a manuscript for spelling, punctuation, and grammar errors. (Like that’s not hard enough to do. Especially when you aren’t the grammar police. Just for clarification…I‘m not.) The day after I finished The Bright Side of Darkness, I began my quest to edit and rid my story of mistakes.

Now I took this task quite seriously. I did a quick search online about editing and one of the noble advice givers claimed that you needed 6 people to help you edit. After those 6 had returned said manuscript, and mistakes repaired, you needed 6 more. (Yep. That’s what I thought too! Where in the heck am I going to find 12 people to read this?) Regardless of my trepidation, I set out to find 6 people I knew would be honest with me, no matter what. Lucky for me, I had 6 willing and able people to help me on my journey.

I promptly sent them copies and they picked the manuscript apart. (You can’t imagine how many spelling and punctuation errors there were. And I have and USE spell check!) For two weeks straight, I read, fixed, re-read, fixed, and so on. At the end of that two week period, I knew my book so well that my ‘editors’ could send me the page number and sentence and I knew exactly where to find it.

(Side note: At this point, I seriously started disliking my book. We began to have a strained relationship. You see, I wanted it to be good and behave. And it…well it wanted to be stubborn.)

I have actually dreamed of sitting at the computer combing line upon line of my story. Sometimes, I even woke up exhausted from working in my sleep all night. But that’s not even the hard part. We still aren’t even close to the really really hard part.

In the process of all this editing, I decided it was time for me to research this publishing thing and figure out how I was going to get this book from my home to Barns & Noble. Let me tell you, if I had done that before writing the novel--it would never have been written. I’m not even catholic and I crossed my chest after finding out what I needed to do to become a published author.

If you watch much TV or movies, you’d think that selling a book is fairly simple as long as it’s a good book. WRONG! The ‘simple’ part is sitting in a chair for hours working up a good case of carpal tunnel and restless leg syndrome. Everything after that is insanity!

It was at this time that I discovered a thing called ‘show don’t tell,’ and that revising and editing are no where close to the same monster.

Editing: Searching for mistakes in sentence structure, spelling, grammar, and extra words.

Revising: Ripping your manuscript to the bones and making it salable.

And guess what? There’s more. (I know, that’s what I said too! More? Are you freaking kidding me?) If you really want to get a good book deal, you need to have an agent. If you want to get an agent, you need to know how to write a killer query.

Query: A one-page letter written to an agent in which you personalize a greeting to each agent. Tell them the genre, word count, and title of your book. And then the biggie…In one small paragraph, give them an interesting, compelling synopsis of your story. Oh yeah, and you have to have a ton of double spaced lines between items so it can easily be read.

“Just awesome. No really, it‘s great. Someone just shoot me,” I mumbled as I beat my head against wall.

I almost quit right there. In fact, I made several tearful phone calls to Vanessa justifying why I just couldn’t do this.

“I don’t think I can do this, it’s too hard.”

“Of course you can, hun. Don’t be ridiculous. This is a great story. You’ll get it figured out,” she said.

A few of those turned into this: “Get a grip, girl. You can do this.”

I’d have been lost without my friends. They nudged me at the right times in the right places to keep going. She‘s never steered me wrong, so I listened.

By the middle of February, I was sending out queries. My first rejection didn’t shock me at all. I’m a new writer; I didn’t expect everyone to want my story. When the tenth rejection came--well--that one kind of hurt my feelings. I mean really! This is a great story. Vampires, and ghosts, and witches and a druid sorcerer? Sword fights, demon battles, magic…Who the heck wouldn’t love that?

I’m digressing because in the middle of all this mess, I was revising my book. Holy crap! Talk about work. You know all those freaky English rules you had to learn in high school? Remember senior comp or American Lit? Or better, the School House Rock songs? Conjunction junction and Lolly get your adverb? Does not even remotely prepare you for writing/editing/revising a novel.

Believe it or not, after all this yammering, I’ve finally gotten to the hard part. But unfortunately, that will have to wait till next time again. Because as usual, I’ve been long winded and I don’t want to get blamed for bottoms going numb and headaches.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Day 347 in my writing career.

Day 347 in my writing career.

I began this whole writing thing nearly a year ago. I showed a friend a short story I’d written and she said, “This is really good! So why don’t you make it a book?”

I laughed. “A book? I don’t have time to write a book!”

She smiled and shook her head. “Hun, you sit at the computer and clean your house. What do you mean you don’t have time?”

For three days, I pondered her statement. I really did have time to write a book, but holy cow…a book? That’s a ton of work and I’m not creative or overly intelligent. I’m just me. Writers are really smart people! Aren’t they?

On the fourth day, I sat down with my two-page short story and decided to give it a whirl. It was just one day after all, what could it hurt to try? I re-read what I’d written and suddenly words poured out of me. I’m talking tons of words. Those two pages became an entire chapter that day. When the kids got home from school, I put it up and did my normal after school thing with them.

All that night I had an intense feeling of satisfaction. My laundry didn’t get washed that day, and the living room needed vacuumed, but I felt like I’d really accomplished something.

The next morning I woke up at 5:30 like usual. (I know it’s an ungodly time, but my body is just used to it.) I made my coffee, checked my emails, read my horoscope, and opened my story. The kids almost missed the buss because I lost track of time and forgot to wake them up. After I got them off to school, I went at it again and wrote all day.

That was all it took, two exquisite days of bliss. I was completely hooked. I didn’t know if it was any good at all, but I couldn’t stop. It was my drug of choice. I worked like that everyday. Some days I’d write until nearly midnight. I couldn’t stop. I didn’t want too! (Can you say obsession?) In January, I finished. I sat here typing out those last few paragraphs and cried like a baby. It was over. I had given birth to a thing that had taken on a life of its own.

And that was when the really hard part began…