Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Music & Memory

I am so old and boring that I almost always listen to the news/talk station when I'm in the car. There's traffic every ten minutes on the fours, people! You really can't argue with that.

But this morning I took my husband's car to the dentist and he had left the station on 107.7. I think it's the alternative rock station. It was when it first started up, when I was young. Maybe now its the oldies station. I don't know. They were playing Man in the Box by Alice In Chains when I first flicked the radio on and I hadn't heard that song in SO MANY years. I'd forgotten how cool that band was for their first few albums.

I saw them live only once. It was at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds in the pavilion area. It was five bucks. There were maybe 40 people there. I remember thinking they were okay, then being shocked months later (literally, it was only a few months, maybe a year) when they hit it BIG. I guess their record label had them out touring constantly playing any place they could find, trying to drum up a following. Well, mission accomplished.

The next song up was an *awesome* cover of Boyz in the Hood (originally by Eazy E...or was it N.W.A.? Maybe it was NWA and Eazy E remixed it for Eazy Duz It. Oh who knows. Wikipedia. Wikipedia would know) by a band called Dynamite Hack. It was a soft rock style treatment of what was one of the hardest of the hardcore rap songs at the time it was released. This cover was so intentionally bland, and the words were so violent...the juxtaposition of the melody with the message was really wild. I'm losing track of myself as I write. That sentence probably didn't make much sense. I started it at about 4:20 (420, hah!! OMG I'm fifteen) and picked it back up just now post flow-meeting. So why was I listening to hardcore rap as a teenage girl? I hope no one saw me, I must have looked pretty stupid. It was really awesome stuff though...totally different. My dad didn't like it. He listened to a lot of rap when he was younger. He was the only white guy in an all black national guard regiment back in the 60s so he had a lot of friends that were black, at a time when that wasn't the norm. Isn't that sad and weird that so recently things were so segregated? But anyway, his friends took rap VERY seriously. At parties people would rap and everyone knew the songs and they rarely changed, but when someone did change a line they would either be cheered on or booed down, and that's how the music evolved. At least, according to him. I'm not claiming that because my dad was the token white guy in his unit as a nod to desegregation that he's like, an expert on all things black culture. But according to dad, the guys in the 60s would have hated gangsta rap. But in the mid-80s, I liked it. But I moved on, and that brings me to the song that was up next on the radio.

Smells Like Teen Spirit, by Nirvana. Oh my gosh. That song brings back so many memories for me, but mostly it brings back the feeling of being young and free and wild. I have so many stories wrapped up in that fact, in one of my scenes in Blink, one girl shouts to my main character, as she is almost crushed in the hallway "It sucks for girls!" That was what a girl shouted to me when I nearly got crushed at a Nirvana show at the Melody Ballroom in Portland way back about a billion years ago. They were opening for Dinosaur Jr. I had pushed my way up to the front, finally making it up to the black iron waist high rails when some dudes in front of me smelled pot and decided tracking down where that was coming from was much preferred to staying right up front at the show. I lasted all of half a song before I wordlessly signaled a big giant beefy guy to lift me up and toss me back over the crowd so that I would not die. I seriously thought I was going to die. My friend Sandy got the shit beat out of her at that show. She's the one who was in the Smells Like Teen Spirit video. You can see her for like a split second, she's one of the kids in the bleachers rocking out.

It makes me think how small Washington used to be. That was back before the grunge explosion changed our music scene. It was before Microsoft gave jobs to I don't know how many thousands of people. Back when there was a billboard in Seattle that said "Will the last person to leave Seattle please turn out the lights?" It really was a small community. Everyone who was of a certain age at that time has their own Kurt Cobain story. I have several. My best is when he stumbled into me at a Melvins show in Olympia and vomited on my shoes. No, I did NOT save them. He wasn't that famous at the time. I don't think anyone could be famous enough for me to save their vomit though. That's just disgusting.

My brother gave me a tape that his friend Jerome had smuggled out of Sub Pop, where he worked. It was a rough set of songs that Nirvana had recorded, and I was all over it. My copy of Bleach was on its last legs. I loved those songs so much, I listened to it all spring and summer. The songs were amazing. When I first heard Smells Like Teen Spirit on the radio in 1991 I literally screamed, I couldn't believe that song was being played on the air. It was a different version than the one I had, but it was instantly recognizable. Then Nevermind came out, and nothing was ever the same really. Those songs on that bootleg tape were awesome though. I liked most of them better than what eventually made it to the recording. There was one song that was never issued that I know of. It was my favorite song ever. It was incredible. I have no idea what it was called, because bootleg tapes have no names. I have listened to Nirvana boxed sets with "previously unreleased!!!" all over the labels and have still never heard the song. Someone stole my tape from me though, and my brother's copy is long gone. I haven't heard that song in almost 20 years, but I still ache for it sometimes.

My husband is acquainted with Krist Novoselic, the former bassist, for reasons wholly unassociated with music. I've met with him a couple of times, and of course told him what a profound effect his band's music had on me as a teenager. He was very nice about it, but I got the feeling that he was probably tired of hearing that from people. I overheard someone ask him what his favorite Nirvana song was, and he kind of sighed and said "I guess Smells Like Teen Spirit. It bought my house." Then he totally changed the subject and turned away. I have been tempted, very tempted to ask him if he has any old studio recordings from the time they were laying down tracks at SubPop for what eventually was released as Nevermind (I think on Geffen records maybe?) But I never have. Who wants to admit that they were in possession of a stolen bootleg copy of someone's work like that? Did I steal it myself? No. Did I love it dearly? Yes. Would that matter to him? Probably not. I can't imagine, as a writer, if someone said to me "Oh my god, my brother's friend was over at your house, and he printed out your novel Blink and gave it to my brother, who gave it to me, and I read if over and over and I really loved it, but my copy's gone. I was really excited when you were published, but the book had totally changed, and I liked it better before. Do you still have an old copy, dated around about July 2009 that you could email me? I'd love to read it again." Yeah. When I put it that way, that's really fucking lame. I'm glad I haven't mentioned it.

Wow. This post sure did ramble.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

They're Round, They're Black, They're Made From Grapes

I just had the oddest conversation in the hospital cafeteria where I tried to ask a person for raisins. English is not his first language. He had no idea what a raisin was.

So I tried a different tack. "You know, they're round, they're black...they're made from grapes?" No go. As a substitute, I decided beets would work (I was making a salad and I wanted something a little bit sweet, and the salad bar was very thin on delicious toppings, so I was asking the attendant for a little more variety.)

Me: "Do you have any beets?"
Him: "Beets?"
Me: "You know...they're red, they're sliced, there's a lot of juice."
Him, eyes lighting up: "Beets! Yes!"
Me: "That's a tomato."

I didn't end up with raisins or beets, but it did get me thinking. It must be SO hard to function in a society where you don't speak much of the language. I speak Chinese (Mandarin) but god forbid I'm ever in China and someone asks me where the raisins are because I don't know the Chinese word for raisins any more than this person knew the English word for raisins. You want some grapes? Fine, your zi pu ta is right over there. Apples? Hong ping gua coming right up. Carrots? Get your hua loa ba right here. Zucchini? Uh....uh....nope. Don't know that one. But it's chong hua luisa due le? (long and green, right?) Fantastic. Here's your huang gua. (cucumber, oops.)

It must take so much courage to drop everything and go live in a country where you don't understand a lot of what people are saying. Or if you do understand, you can't communicate that back. That happens to me sometimes. Depending on what I'm talking about in Chinese, sometimes I can't find the right words. Also, I constantly say "I'm sorry" when I mean to say "You're welcome." I'm not sure why I have such a difficult time with that, but I do it constantly, saying due bu chi instead of bu cu chi. I am so horrible at pinyan. It's pronounced dway-boo-chee and boo-coo-chee, but I don't know how to spell it at all. Oh well. Not like anyone really cares, it just bothers me because I know it's not spelled right but I don't know how to do it.

Anyway! Occasionally I hear these people saying things like "Fucking XXX's, coming over here and taking our jobs" and I just want to smack those people. Repeatedly. My good friend's husband is from Mexico and he hears that all the time. He's a dishwasher. Really? You'd like to wash dishes for 7 dollars an hour and try to pay rent in this city? Be my guest, asshole.

If I were to move to China I could probably get a pretty good job since I speak English and Chinese. But what if I only spoke English? That's probably a bad example. English is one of those languages that opens a lot of doors. What if I moved to China and all I spoke was Amharic? Would I be able to get along half as well as the people in this country? Probably not. I'm not that sturdy.

But anyway. I have to go take report, it's time for me to actually start working. Adios, zai jian, sayonara, and goodbye!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

We Authors Have it Pretty Easy

As I was sitting in the dentist's chair this morning, listening to the soft rock station piping through the building, I was struck by a thought.

These songwriters and musicians are telling us a story. They're trying to get us to think, to feel, maybe to laugh or cry. And many times, they are successful. They have to do this in about 4 minutes, using maybe 100 words. We authors get about 80,000 words and hours of our reader's time. Sure, we don't get to use instruments (unless we publish an audio book and then, could probably try setting your work to music but that seems like a lot of trouble).

So really, we have it easy. Tons of words to grab our reader, lots of time to establish a relationship with them. So don't you feel better about things? You're welcome.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Work Work Work

I was called in to work an overtime shift tonight, one of my coworkers is sick. I never call in sick. It's just not my style. But I'm happy to work her shift as long as I can get a babysitter (and wonderful S. said yes!!) We seriously need the money. M was mad at me though. She really doesn't like changes in her routine. Mommy doesn't work on Mondays, dammit! (Spelling incorrect, but allowed because it is for VOICE.)

M asked me why I had to go in to work. I said it was because my coworker was sick. She asked why. I said it was because my coworker hadn't washed her hands good enough, and then she stuck her fingers in her mouth. Is that true? Hmmm...maybe, maybe not. I suppose it could be. But maybe it will convince M to stop sticking her entire hand in her mouth. She's pretty darn good at washing her hands, her preschool teacher comments on it routinely, so I know we're doing something right. But your hands just can't be clean enough if you stick the whole thing in there 40 or 50 times a day. Perhaps this will stop that habit. Nothing else seems to be doing the trick.

I critiqued a chapter in my new crit group, and it was really fun. It helped me to realize things about my own manuscript that maybe I need to change. Passive versus active, verbs versus gerunds, showing versus telling. I loved the dialogue in the chapter. I am a dialogue person though. Some people are description people. Stephen King is a big description person, and I do enjoy his work, but I think I would probably be happy with a book that was entirely dialogue. I probably wouldn't even notice. I hear Asimov moves his stories with mostly dialogue, but I don't know, I've only read one book by him, and it was co-authored with someone I don't remember who. I could google it, but I really don't care enough. The book was called Nightfall though, I remember that, and while it wasn't like the best book I ever read or anything, the story still totally sticks with me, I remember all the major plot points. I can't remember if it was dialogue driven or not.

So when I'm critiquing, I think I am going to be inclined to cut cut cut descriptions and ask for more dialogue. I wonder if that's just a personal preference though. I guess with everything you have to take a grain of salt. One of my chapters was critiqued, and I loved my feedback, I can't wait to start doing some revisions!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Added a Picture

I finally added a picture of myself. I have like, no pictures of me that are current. It's like I threw away all my cameras in 1994 or something. That was the best one that I could find. I was tired of feeling so anonymous. No, that's not the right word. Anonymous, schlepotamas. I don't really care about that.

I guess without a picture of some sort I felt...temporary. I wanted to feel more permanent. So there you go. I'll try to dig one up that does not involve me being tackled by munchkins, but that may be a difficult propisition. I am a jungle gym. Perhaps tomorrow, you will be greeted by a photo of Delta Burke. Or Ron Jeremy. Or both! Together!!

Just over 5K words total on TRP, my WIP. I love acronyms. WIP is going to require some SEEEERIOUS editing if I really do plan on keeping up this pace, but as my husband said earlier: "At least you'll have something to edit." How sage.

Friday, October 16, 2009

We Finally Had a Nice Day Today

I absolutely refused to let my older daughter's screaming and yelling get to me today, and when I ignored it and/or just talked calmly to her she de-escalated pretty quickly.

I wrote last night and am up over 2K words in my WIP. I know that's not a huge number, but its really exciting for me, since I have been so bogged down in the agent search. I basically stopped writing while I was researching agents, and even though I had a ton of ideas I did nothing to pursue them.

I'm going to try to write 1000 words every night, exhausted or not, and not worry so much about agents and crap like that. I've got a full and 2 partials out there, and I'll see what happens. I'm tired of obsessing over it. I still check my emails all the time to see about responses, but I'm not spending every available minute researching more agents or tweaking my query letter or reading agent blogs etc. etc. etc.

I feel good about this.

The girls and I had a lovely day. M and A made each other laugh all afternoon. M kept asking what A's favorite number was, and A would answer "Guy." This cracked M up. (A's 18 months old and doesn't quite get the whole favorite number concept, but she does get the idea of making her sister laugh.) A also made me laugh today by changing the words to the alphabet song. She sings the whole thing, you know, A B C D E F G... When she gets to the end, she goes W, X, Y and Mommy! I laughed so much that she won't sing it any other way now.

Two things I said to the girls today. To M: "I'm sorry, I can't control the rotation of the earth." She wanted to know why it was dark outside, and once I told her why it was dark, she wanted me to fix it. To A: "You can't get poopy on a song." This was after I told her she couldn't hold her doll while I changed her diaper. I said we could sing a song instead. She protested and wanted to know why she could get a song but not her doll. That was my response.

I'm watching Family Guy right now. I freaking love that show.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Contest Mania!!!

Thank you to Tina Lynn for posting the link to the Bransford contest. I follow his blog, but I don't check it every day. I would have hated to miss that one. I loves me a good contest. I also loves me a bad contest. I'll enter anything. Seriously.

I entered my first paragraph from my WIP, as the instructions stated. This is not my completed manuscript that I am currently shopping around to agents, it's my WIP that I'm referring to as TRP. (Any one want to start a small, lame contest with guesses about what that might stand for? Best guess gets...I don't know...hmmm. How about best guess must also be accompanied by best prize demand. And I am the sole judge. Demands considered unreasonable will be null and void.)

So anyway! Here is that first paragraph. My husband didn't like it. He knows what the book is ultimately about, and he said that it didn't hint towards the plot of the novel. He's basically right, but I have my reasons for starting the novel this way. I don't know precisely what they are at this point, but that's the way I've started the novel, so clearly I have reasons, however obscure they may be, even to myself. Without further ado, the first paragraph:

Becca had always wanted to be wild like Joey, but it never seemed to work out for her. Joey could do just about anything and get away with it. She was the love ‘em and leave ‘em type. She mowed down guys and never looked back. The only time Becca had tried a one night stand, all she’d gotten out of it was a pregnancy scare when the condom broke. Joey could drink any guy under the table and walk away unscathed. The night Becca had finally allowed herself to get stinking, filthy drunk, she’d managed to get her foot caught in the seatbelt when she tried to climb out of the back of Frank’s two door Chevy Nova. She’d been dragged for half a block before anyone had noticed. She did not need the third time to be the charm. When Joey left, it just about killed her. But she didn’t go with her. She wasn’t wild. It wasn’t in her DNA and she was painfully aware of that. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to go. She just knew that she wouldn’t have survived it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

So I Guess I Wasn't Done

Two things, and then I will totally shut up.

1. I just officiated an argument between two people speaking Chinese. One of the two arguing was an American male who learned his Chinese in an unknown fashion. The other person is an older woman who moved here from China about 10 years ago. They were disagreeing on the proper way to say something in Chinese. Lulu was trying to say it was cold out, and Sean kept telling her she was using the wrong word. Finally I intervened. "Sean," I said. Lulu is from China. You're not. I'm going to go with her on this one." Sheesh.

2. I met a friend of a friend today. He owns a company that produces radio jingles in Europe. Radio jingles. How cool. That's something I've always been interested in doing, since my singing career pretty much petered out in the 90s with ONE backing vocal on ONE record. Whatever. So anyway, besides the fact this this guy seems pretty cool, he also does something I'm really interested in pursuing at some point, so I'd like to make sure this is a contact that remains fresh. But I'm wracking my brain all day trying to figure out why he looks *so* familiar. Uh...just figured it out. Back in the 90s, I slept with his younger brother. And oh yeah, for good measure, the drummer in one of his bands too. Compared to my friends, I was SOOOOOO far from slutty. But I hung out with girls who had competitions to see who could sleep with the most boys in a single summer. One summer the results were Jen: 46, Lauren: 42, Mel: 33. Kelli and I refused to play. Mel was crushed. She always thought of herself as prettier than Lauren. Dear god. Like its about looks, at that point. Man. Is it any surprise that the only one I'm still friends with is Kelli?

But I digress. I never thought of myself as slutty (formerly, obviously. I've been married and monogamous for more than a decade). But the other day I was talking with a coworker and I said something along the lines of "You know when you accidentally sleep with someone..." She stopped me right there. "Accidentally sleep with someone?" she says incredulously. "Yeah," I say. "You know, when you never thought in a million years that you would ever sleep with *that person* but then you start drinking a bit, and the music gets louder, and suddenly the next thing you know...." Brenda just looks at me and then bursts out laughing, like I'm kidding. Uhhhh.....

Now this. How weird. I don't think this guy will remember me. I look a lot different after 10 years and two kids. I only remember him because both he and his brother are very distinctive looking. I don't even know if his brother is still alive. Everyone was kind of wild back then. Not everybody made it, and I didn't keep track of very many of them, once I grew up.

So maybe I was sluttier than I thought. Perhaps hanging out with serious pass around girls allowed me to overlook my own shortcomings in that area. Or maybe not. Maybe it's just a couple of incidents that have cropped up very close together. Hmm. The jury is out on this one. I think for good.

Probably My Final Post of the Evening

Because I just don't have anything else to say about the last few days.

Last night, I wrote. It wasn't outlining, or sketching, or character development, or anything. I just wrote. And I'm pretty sure it was crap. But I don't really care. I wrote.

I realized something about myself as a writer. My books are always crap for the first 1 or 2 chapters. That's because I haven't "met" my characters yet. My character is still me, and whatever I happen to be feeling in the moment, told in the context of whatever plot I have come up with.

I have to get beyond the first couple of chapters before I find my voice. I have to wait to get to know my characters. Once I'm into chapter 3, I'm hitting my stride, and I know my character well enough to write her as though she is another person, not me being cool or me being petty or me being interesting or me being something that I'm not, because I've never traveled through time or been a high school cheerleader or overdosed on heroin or done any one of a number of different things that one of my characters might do.

After I get to know my character, once voice develops, it's there, and I don't forget it. So what I have to remember to do is go back and rewrite my first few chapters in the voice that I developed over the course of the book. Only then will it be an acceptable piece of writing.

This is what discouraged me so much in the past. The fact that I knew I could write, but everything I wrote was such total garbage when I read it 2 or 3 days after writing it. Now I have finally matured enough as a writer to know how to get beyond those first few disappointing pages, and how to recover from it and move forward.

I wish I had learned that before I sent out massive partials to a few people, but oh well. Maybe they'll somehow get to chapter 3 and realize that there really is something there.

I wrote about 1,000 words in my WIP, which I'll call TRP. I'm going to try to reign myself in and not write more than about 80,000 words this time. I can write 10K words on a good night. If I buckle down, could I possibly be done in 80 days? If some dude can travel around the world that fast, you'd think I could write a nice YA in that amount of time.

Which reminds me, when I was younger I totally wanted to set off on an adventure called "Around the World on 80 Bucks." My older brother talked me out of it. I didn't expect him to be the sensible one. I guess he never fails to surprise me. He spent most of his life on hard core drugs; now he's a college math professor. Sometimes people do reel themselves back in. But anyway! I think its too late for adventures of that variety for me, but maybe I could turn that into a story when TRP is done.......

Her Tastes are Just a Bit More Eclectic

I always play my children kids music. The wildest I've ever gotten with them is ABBA. Not because I believe in censorship or anything. It just never occurred to me that they might like something else. Kids music is kids music for a reason, right?

So I come downstairs yesterday morning, I've got the baby on my hip, and I round the corner to the kitchen to see my three year old standing on a chair at the kitchen island with her daddy, helping him cook, and totally rocking out to "All Wound Up" by the Circle Jerks. She's bouncing her little knees and shaking her little booty like I've never seen. Laurie Berkener's got nothing on Keith Morris. Nothing.

Apparently the spouse had the music on shuffle, because the Mighty Mighty Bosstones were up next, followed by So Fresh So Clean by Outkast. M loved it all. Usually when I have music on she asks me to turn it off within a few songs. I guess I just wasn't playing what she wanted to hear. Ai yi yi.

Cue the Dead Milkmen: Just you and me, eating fudge banana swirl, just you and me punk rock girl.

Last Night's Dream

I have several topics I wish to blog on today. Rather than lump them all into one incoherent mess (a la my first novel) I will separate them into distinct and meaningful blog posts.

Last night I had the strangest dream. It was funny, but the more I think about it, the more I start to psychoanalyze and wonder what exactly this dream tells me about myself and what's going on in my life.

In the dream, my coworker Tim called in sick. I'm at Sam's Club, getting gas, and I see Tim sitting in his car, obviously healthy as a horse. I go over to say hi, and he freaks out, terrified that I'm going to turn him in to our boss for playing hooky. I tell him not to worry about it, I'm not going to narc him off, but the entire time I'm talking to him, I'm wondering why he's so concerned about getting in trouble at work when there is a SEVERED FOOT sitting right on his passenger seat, which he seems to be blithley ignoring. Or is he completely unaware of it? Impossible to tell. I wonder where the dream would have gone, had it not been for my oldest waking up just then needing her sheets changed because she had peed the bed.

So for most of the day I have laughed to myself about this dream, but then I got to wondering. Maybe Tim is me. Maybe I'm trying to tell myself that I'm all worried about silly, nothing little problems when there is a severed foot type of problem staring me right in the face that I'm refusing to acknowledge. I'm just not sure what it is.

Maybe this: my older daughter and I have been fighting a lot lately. For the last 3 days, we've been unable to be nice to each other at all. This is a really really bad thing, because she is 3 years old and I am (supposedly) a grown up. I should be able to act like one. But she has been screaming and whining incessantly about nothing since Thursday. I have no idea what happened. It's like she just woke up Thursday morning and decided she hated me. She's not treating anyone else like this, just me. What happened? Is this the severed foot that I refuse to notice? Should I know why she's so pissed at me and I can't admit it to myself? Or is the fact that I can't seem to let her behavior roll off my back the problem? She's THREE people. That's how they act sometimes, right? But 72 hours straight of screaming, crying, whining, and general sullenness directed towards me alone has me exhausted. What did I do?

Or maybe this: I hate one of my jobs. I hate it so much. I want to quit so badly, but I can't because we need the money. Maybe that's the severed foot. I'm killing myself with this second job but there's no way out. We have zero room in our budget for cutting expenses. We have no entertainment budget, so we can't cut that. I guess I could take my oldest out of preschool to free up $195 dollars a month, but what could I do with that money to make life better? Nothing. It's best use is sending her to preschool. It's not like $195 bucks in my pocket would enable me to quit that job. My husband's being promoted sometime this year. He's been promised the promotion since like March, it's just really slow coming through. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping desperately that it will be enough money to replace one of my jobs, but seriously, his raise would have to be like 25K for that to be the case, and I just don't see that happening, even in my most deliriously hopeful moments.

Sigh. I have other candidates to fill the position of severed foot: my writing, my pursuit of an agent, the many responsibilites I have that I don't have time for, my lack of sleep, the friends I never see anymore, the master's degree I'd like to get but have no time for, etc. etc. etc. I would think on it more, but I have a meeting to run in 5 minutes, so I've got to get going.

I'll be careful while I'm walking. Maybe my dream wasn't metaphorical at all. Perhaps I should literally be concerned about losing a foot. Never hurts to cover all your bases people.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Cooked Something!

I'm not very domestic. I never have been. Every once in a while I wish I was the type of person who wanted to be a very good cook. Note I do not wish to be a very good cook. I wish to be the type of person who might aspire to being a very good cook. Sometimes. Not very often.

Anyway! I have things that I do with my girls that prevent me from getting home some nights until about 7:00. Normal dinner time is 6:30, so this is a problem. Enter, the crockpot! My husband had the brilliant idea to buy a crockpot cookbook and I currently have ham in dijon mustard glaze and sweet potatoes bubbling away on low. They'll be done right about the time we all roll home. (The spouse gets off work around 6:00, Seattle traffic is a nightmare, so sometimes he's home even later than we are.)

This will probably be the best thing I've ever cooked, if the spoonful of mustard sauce that I licked is any indication.

Screw my work in progress. I'm dropping everything to write a cozy mystery centered around tonight's dinner. I'll call it the Mystery of the Missing Sanity. See ya on the bestseller lists, suckers!

Crappiest "Nice" Rejection Ever

So I just got a rejection in my inbox. Big deal, happens every few days. But this one struck me as different. It was supposed to be nice. It went on, and on, and on, but it wasn't personalized. It's not like it was constructive feedback. It was just the agent listening to herself talk. Here's the part that got me:

"Thank you for sharing your work with me. I know that writing a book is a time-consuming and emotional process, so I appreciate the effort you have expended to reach this point in your publishing journey. Alas, I must reject what you have been kind enough to submit. I only add a handful of new writers to my client roster each year, so I search for a unique voice, finely-honed writing skills, stellar world building talent, characters that jump off the page and a story that pulls me in from the first word and doesn't let go. I know that's a lot to ask for, but..."

Here's where I get irritated. Because you know where my mind goes? It goes to "I know that's a lot to ask for. I'd accept even three out of five of those criteria, but your crappy book has none of those things, loser." I doubt that's what she meant, but please verbose agent. Consider your audience. (And sidebar: OMG, did she actually use the word "Alas"? Seriously?)

As Janet Reid would say, here's where I stop reading. Form rejection of your rejection. And I'm not bitter. Not at all. I just don't like to hear people go on and on and on about nothing while they're rejecting me. Just say no. I can take it.

I'm so over this whole agent acquisition thing. I'm just going to send out a new query whenever I get rejected by someone but otherwise focus on the writing of my next WIP. I made a nice dent in it last night, and I'm so excited to be writing again, not obsessing over who I'm ultimately going to hire as an agent. You know, assuming I ever have someone who wants to be a candidate for the job.

For Noelia

A mi mono le gusta la lechuga, planchadia y sin una sol aruga, se la come con sal y con LIMON!!!!!

Besos y abrazos

Te amo

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I Wish My Boss Was a Little More Reasonable

Just a quick post tonight, because I think I'm going to take some actual time to write.

I have 2 jobs, as you have probably surmised by this point. Because I have mentioned it like 20 times in my previous posts.

One of the jobs is totally reasonable. I work outside the home 20 hours a week (two 10 hour shifts). It doesn't even suck being away from the kids/family. To be honest, some days I dance out the door I'm so ready to go relate to some adults. My spouse is home one day that I work, and we have a babysitter/nanny come the other day...and that day my spouse works from home, so he's there in case of emergencies. I love that job.

It's the other one that's freakin killing me. I work from home "20" hours per week. That job really pays the bills (well, not really. My husband's job pays the bills. My job pays for groceries and diapers). The outside the home job "pays" as much, but since we have to spring for childcare ($150 per week) I only end up bringing home half as much as I do from my work at home job.

But note above where I say I work "20" hours per week. Add another 20 or 30, and you're getting close to how many hours I actually work for that company. I have worked for them since July 2008. Since July 2008 I have worked every single day, 7 days per week, except for 4 days off that I took to go to the PNWA conference in late July/early August of 2009, and 4 sick days I took about 3 weeks ago when I was literally falling apart. (When I took those 4 "vacation" days, I returned to all of the work that came in over those 4 days, waiting for me to do it. I had been promised that someone else in the organization would keep up with the incoming inquiries while I was away. Didn't happen. So instead of 4 days off, I had 4 days deferred. It took me over a week of 6-7 hour nights to catch up.)

I start working when the kids go to bed about 8:00 and work until midnight or 1 AM. After that, if I have any energy, I write. I haven't written much lately. My energy is just about out. On the days that I work outside the house I start my work from home when I get home from that job, which is at about midnight. I am so goddamn tired.

Anyway. I have a set of tasks that are mine to complete. When I am done with those tasks, I am supposedly done. My employers expect those tasks to take about 20 hours a week. If I am faster than that, then good for me. In theory. My boss keeps peppering me with new projects. "Can you just do this one thing for me?" Um, sure. I guess. I guess it's not a big deal. Next email is "Thanks! Now that you've done that, could you please email these 40 people with a personal reminder to blah blah blah." Wha-huh? This happens nightly.

What part of 20 hours do you not understand people? I don't work for goddamn FREE. Oh wait. Yes, it appears I do, because I continue to do the work. I really need the job. My spouse may make the house and the car payments, but we do need to eat.

Tonight will be different though. It's midnight, the girls went to bed by 7:56 PM and I've been working since then and I am DONE. No more of your stupid projects. I'm writing for an hour and then I'm going to bed. Adi-fucking-os

Got Another Response

I got a response from another agent that I queried recently. These 10 hour shifts at work really put a cramp in my email checking...her email came in at 10:33 this morning and I just got it (after getting home and working on my 2nd job for an hour). It's 1:01 AM now.

Anyway! The agent replied with a recommendation that I contact a different agent at another agency. I've read this this is a really good type of email to receive, you know, agent thinks it sounds promising but not quite her thing, how about you drop my friend XXX a line.

So I'm thrilled. And I've emailed the agent she recommended, stating twice (once in the subject line and once in the body) that so and so from XXX agency said I should write to you because you "know the category."

Now, even though I have a pounding headache and I'm pretty sure I have a fever (we'll find out soon enough, when I finally have time to take my temp), I will still sleep pretty good.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why I Hope the Editor Never Gets Back to Me (Unless it's a Yes)

So as you know, earlier this year an editor from an actual reputable publisher asked for a copy of my full. She seemed very excited about it, and she even emailed me to let me know she had received it.

Though I know that it was ridiculous to do so, I have been checking my email literally 4 times a day to see if she has responded to me again. It's been a little over 2 months at this point, and I was starting to become kind of depressed. Even though I know 2 months is no time at all in the publishing industry, to me it has felt like an eternity and with every day that passed it was just one more day that no answer was, in my mind, a "No" answer.

But then I decided to get off my ass and send a few more queries, beyond the ones that I sent at the beginning of August. And this time, in my query letter, I am able to include the line "In addition, I have submitted my full manuscript to XXX at XXX press, at her request."

I sent out a number of queries without that line, even after I had submitted my manuscript to the editor, because it didn't occur to me that it would be appropriate for me to mention someone else's interest in my letter to an agent. It's not like I have some close personal relationship with this editor, and I didn't want to appear to name drop or make myself seem all 5 minutes away from getting a deal or something. But I've been reading more and more agent blogs and the posts I saw about this very issue were along the lines of "For god's sake, if you have an editor interested in your work, let us know you idiot." So I began including that line in my queries.

The queries that I sent that did not have that line were universally form rejected, sometimes within minutes of sending. The queries that I have sent since including that line have resulted in one request for a partial and no rejections...still waiting for responses, which is way better than being form rejected within 15 minutes. Seriously, this happened.

So, I have come to the conclusion that having this tidbit of information in my query letter prevents people from form rejecting me the instant they read my query. Those form rejections may come later, but for now, the barbarians are being held at the gate by one simple sentence. So that is why I hope the editor takes all the time in the world reading my manuscript. Seriously. Read at your leisure. Either way, I win. You either like it and you want to buy it, or you don't like it and by the time you tell me that a year from now, I have an agent because you were at one time interested in my work. So take your time. Take all the time you need!!!!!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Rules! Rules! Rules!!! I love rules!!!

I've been spending the day alternately:

1. Working
2. Writing entries for the #GhostsOfBelfast contest on Twitter
3. Coming up with movie mash-ups for the Moonrat contest

It's this last one that I have been thinking about the most. I love refreshing my browser to see all the new entries. I started submitting mine one at a time, as soon as I thought of them, rather than compiling a list, because everyone else's entries were so hysterical that I didn't want anyone else to preempt my vision.

I am unsure of the proper format. Can you just mash titles together at any point, like I did with my first entry How Stella Got the Passion of the Christ? How Stella Got Her Groove Back is the full title of the first part of my mash-up, but it worked better (obviously) to do what I did. I think this is the least proper form of the mash-up, because it takes a lot less thought to come up with these, and you would probably never see them on a marquee this way.

So the next option is to make each mash-up share one word. It must be the last word in title #1 and the first word in title #2, such as my entry Bring It On Golden Pond, a combination of Bring It On and On Golden Pond. But again, would this be the most likely movie marquee combination? No. Our first example by Moonrat was Twelve Monkeys Waiting to Exhale. That is two complete titles, when read together. Going by my previous format, the title would have been Twelve Monkeys to Exhale or something like that, where the first title was Twelve Monkeys and the second title was Monkeys to Exhale. So I believe this form of contest entry, while enjoyable, also does not meet the necessary criteria.

So I have come up with what I believe are my masterpieces, in what I believe is the correct form:

Back to the Future Of Human Bondage
You Got Served My Dinner With Andre
Run Lola Run Scream Godzilla (Three in one!!)
What's the Worst That Could Happen? Love Actually

and, my personal favorite:

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre It Could Happen to You

I laughed so hard over that one I cried. I tried to explain why I was literally in tears to a passing nurse. It lost so much in the translation. I guess you had to be there.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm All A-Twitter

I've finally broken down and joined Twitter. I resisted for so long, but finally I was dragged in by the #GhostsofBelfast contest. Of course it was a contest. I'll bend over backwards in order to be judged. Probably why I got into this whole writing racket in the first place.

I've submitted two entries so far. The task is to write a ghost story in 124 characters or less. Here are my entries so far:

1. The man stood outside. My wife’s in there. I nodded and entered. The restroom was deserted. His footsteps echoed behind me.

[I wish I could have added quotes around "My wife's in there." but I didn't have enough characters. By the way folks, that's a true story. I'll have to write a post about it sometime. That was definitley one of the scariest things that has ever happened to me.]

2. She was in animal control. He controlled animals. No one muzzled his bitch. "Get her boys!" he barked. The pack descended.

[That one is fictional, and is supposed to be funny. I snickered. But then again, I usually do.]

My Odds are How Slim?

I subscribe to Kim Lionetti's Twitter feed, one of the agents who recently requested my partial. I just saw this:

First day back queries: 30% women's fiction, 50% YA (almost all paranormal), 10% romance, 10% thriller.

Mine is a paranormal YA. Eek. I'm up against fully half of her queries. Lucky for me I rite gud.

Friday, October 2, 2009

A Wahoo and a BooHoo!

Wahoo! I got a request for a partial today from an agent with a well-respected agency. Synopsis and first 3 chapters requested, 12 hours after sending my query! Yay!!!!

BooHoo! I got rejected by the third person I elevator pitched to at the PNWA conference. (I had already guessed as much.) The rejection was VERY NICE, and obviously personalized (she referenced my character's name and listed some plot points) and gave me some really nice constructive criticism which I will be using as I go forward. So maybe it's not a boo-hoo. I had already assumed it was a no BUT I got the best kind of no possible. A personal no with feedback.

So it's been a good day.

Well, except for my 3 year old's blood draw. God forbid we ever have to do that again. You try sticking a needle in a toddler's vein and see how well it goes. That poor little girl. She's been through way too much lately. I hope her results are normal. She's had a temperature right around 100 for at least 6 months. I've taken her to the doctor repeatedly and they finally agreed that some blood work should be done. They think it's just her normal body temperature and that some people just run hotter like that, but I'm not comfortable with that as an answer. Run the blood work, see what science tells us, and then we can talk. Please, please, please let her just run hot.