Sunday, January 31, 2010

How I Became Offended, For Once

I don't get angry easily. I also don't get offended too frequently. I'm pretty even tempered. It's really hard to upset me.

But I got pissed the other day, and I was so surprised by the depth of my irritation that I had to ponder on it for a while and figure out just what it was that had gotten under my skin so completely, because it was really very minor, on the surface.

Recently my Facebook connections have gone a bit crazy. I friended one old friend, and that person was like, the key log. That's an old fashioned term. Back in the days of MASSIVE logging, when practically every white pine tree in Wisconsin was chopped down and floated down the river, sometimes you'd get these ridiculous log jams that would stop all traffic. People specialized in unjamming those rivers, men and boys scampering around on the jammed material, trying to slip that one key log that would loosen the entire mess and send everything on its way again. It was extremely dangerous work, as you can imagine, and the people were well paid, right up until they died on the job, I suppose. Anyway, this key log of mine opened the floodgates to people I used to know, old friends from high school, former coworkers, people I used to party with, you name it, and now I have a bunch more facebook friends, and that's all well and good, whatever.

One of my "new" friends on Facebook is a guy I used to work with, oh, about 14 years ago. I worked with a team of five guys, with another guy as my boss, so twelve testicles total, on weekend nights at a factory a long time ago. We had a blast, running around that factory all by ourselves, doing whatever work had been leftover during the week. We cut an awful lot of fiberglass. It was like having a bunch of brothers, and one dad that none of us liked very much. Oh, and I forgot the security guard. He was a friend too. So let's just make that me and twelve to sixteen testicles, depending upon whether one more guy, Bubba, was working overtime that weekend or not.

Anyway! The guy in question was always really crass, with a very sophomoric sense of humor, and while I didn't find him hilarious, he never pissed me off. So now we're reconnected and time has not mellowed or changed him a bit. He peppers my status reports with all sorts of "humorous" comments, and I just kind of ignore them. But sometimes I post status reports with updates to my word count, or something about writing, or what have you. Facebook is not my main tool for updating others about my writing, that's what this blog is for, but I do sometimes put a little something up there.

On one of my status posts, this guy writes something along the lines of "Oh, did I tell you I finally got one of my poems published?" I was very surprised. Him? A poet? Maybe he does have a sensitive side that I never gave him credit for. I congratulated him via return comment. He replied with "Yes, it was for Hustler Humor and it was called Diddle-her On the Roof." That lame remark stayed put for a couple of days, but I couldn't stop thinking about it. I finally went in and deleted it.

He commented me again, kind of berating me for deleting his comment, and I told him that I would continue to delete any crass remarks he made on any of my writing related posts, and we continue to go back and forth, and I don't even know why I bother.

And why was I so mad anyway? I know who he is. I know he's that sort of person. It has never bothered me that much before, because I don't offend easily, as I stated at the beginning of what is now this very long story. You know why I got so mad? I figured it out. He hadn't offended *me*. He had offended writing. And publishing. And that is what really got me. I'm not OK with that.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

And the Winner Is....


You, my friend, have a keen eye. Yes, it was factual up until the discovery of the Pringles can. I was writing it with the intention of having it be a fact entry, but then when I got to the end of the story it was too much of a payoff at all, so I came up with a fun ending.

I would much rather it had ended that way. In real life, Otto and I were never really able to have a friendship. I'm not sure if I ever convinced him that we didn't actually have sex, that he was drunk dreaming and incorporating the sounds from Jonny's room. And I was pretty disappointed in him as a friend, to say the least. So that was it for our relationship.

It seemed like a more fun way to end it with the discovery of a violated Pringles can.

So excellent job Travener, spotting the exact moment where we veered into unreality. I do feel as though you deserve a prize. How about I tuck a book somewhere on the Fremont Troll, and if you care to go looking for it - and someone else hasn't found it already - then it's yours to keep!

I think I may have broken my own rules. I said my post would be either factual, or totally made up, and it was neither. But I like it better that way, and I thought of a game that might be even *more* fun. I'm calling it A Million Little Pieces, and the game is to write a memoir that begins as fact but at some point spirals out of control and into the fictional world. Then other people try to guess at which point your story diverges from reality.

Anyone? What do you think?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Fact or Fiction Finally

Hello there! Sorry it has taken me so long to post my first Fact or Fiction. My internet connection crapped out and I was only able to get on the computer sporadically. That and I had about a billion other things going on, but when in doubt, blame the internet! It's all your fault nameless, faceless bundle of wires and cables!

Here is your first Fact or Fiction game. To refresh your memory: the following story is either a true life event from my own past, or it is completely made up. If it is a true event, the dialog is as accurate as I remember, but these things may be up to 30 years old, so I'll do the best I can. One thing I might do is change names. Only a couple of my "in real life" friends read this blog, but you never know. Might as well protect the innocent. Vote on whether you think the entry is fact or fiction. I still haven't decided about prizes. Maybe just the pride of knowing you are right will be enough. Thinking about it. Without further ado......

FACT? OR FICTION? (some adult content)

I can tell you exactly what day it was that I spent the night at Otto's, because I remember he gave Jonny his first mohawk. It was also the day that Jonny committed what was almost certainly a felony, probably not his first, certainly not his last.

I don't know how old those girls were, the ones who came wandering by and ended up staying all night, but my guess is they had an awful lot to talk about the next day at school. I imagine them, pausing to smoke a cigarette while running cross country; passing it around, taking drags and giggling about how they were Very Bad Girls.

I wasn't a part of that, though I do believe it played a role in my evening's events. My plumbing was busted at my house and I hadn't taken a shower in days. Peeing outdoors was nothing new to me, but I was getting tired of watching the curtains twitch every time I stepped into the backyard. My boy next door was a creepy voyeur. It made sense, then, to stay at Otto's for a while. We worked at the same place, so we could drive in together, and even though I knew he was a dirty bastard, I also knew how to handle him.

Otto, Jonny, and the random girls drank all day. I held back, knowing that I'd need my sobriety to keep things in check later on. I brought my most puritanical sleepwear with me, a long black number that stretched from my neck to my ankles. It was still no surprise that despite my Amish getup, Otto's hand crept over to my side of the bed that night.

"I'm sorry. Do you know who I am?" I snapped, and his hand slunk away, leaving a trail of guilt as slimy as a slug's.

All night, I heard the grunting and squealing coming through the wall that separated Jonny's room from mine. I had pegged the first girl as a real whore, but I had figured her friend would be all talk and no action. Apparently I was wrong. They were both all in. Otto had to have heard them too.

The next morning we went to work. Otto didn't speak to me all day. I was somewhat surprised. Surely he'd been shot down before? He hadn't honestly thought I would sleep with him did he? For god's sake, he was married! Sure, she was never around, but I had never made any secret of the fact that I didn't screw married men. Period.

At the end of the day, Otto dropped me off at my house. "I don't think you should stay with me anymore."

"Are you serious? Because I wouldn't sleep with you? Fine. Asshole." I grabbed my bag and threw open the car door. I had one foot on the pavement before he stopped me, his hand catching my arm.

"Wait. What are you talking about? We did fuck. We're obviously not compatible, and I don't think you should stay at my house."

"Excuse me? No we fucking did not fuck. Not even close. What the hell are you talking about?"

Otto was under the impression that we had had a pretty lame tumble in the sack. I quickly disabused him of that notion.

"Okay, number one, I do not sleep with married men, so we did not have sex last night. And number two, it would not have been lame. I'm fucking awesome. Ask around. So what the hell?"

We went back to his house to investigate. It took a while, but we solved the mystery. In the kitchen, we found an empty can of Pringles. Well, empty except for the glob of white stuff in the bottom. Apparently when Otto drinks, not only does he have very vivid dreams, he also sleepwalks.

I stayed there for a few more days, but I slept on the floor. I also never ate Pringles again.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Can We Ever Just Let the Past Lie?

Last night I was rumbling around on Facebook and I saw that a friend of mine had joined a new group, one set up specifically to support a planned documentary on the punk scene in my old stomping grounds from the late 80s and early 90s (the heyday of my involvement). I had to go look.

For a few minutes, I was kind of nostalgic, looking through the pictures and remembering all the craziness of that time, but as I lingered there longer a new thought worked its way into my mind and it got louder and louder and louder until I couldn't ignore it anymore and it was shouting at me "MY GOD! MOVE THE FUCK ON!"

The thing is, nobody cares about that scene. Nobody but us, the people who lived it. So that's what? A couple hundred? And if you're me, *you* don't even care that much. IT WAS TWENTY YEARS AGO. Maybe a documentary about it would be interesting to other people who weren't there. But I doubt it. It's not like it was New York, or London, or anywhere that produced anything of any lasting value or notoriety. The biggest thing to come out of our neck of the woods was MxPx. Um. I'm not that impressed, are you? Who wants to watch an exhaustive chronicle of the lives of a bunch of screwed up kids, too poor to feel like they were living the American Dream, but too well-off to be impoverished?

Yes, we had a lot of fun. Yes, way too many people died, much more than your average teenage cohort. But Bremerton's nothing but murderers, drug addicts, and the clinically depressed, so throw in punk rock and some schitzophrenia, and you've got a recipe for disaster. I am just insanely irritated by these people who are so in love with their twenty years ago selves that they're still trying to wave that black flag. Move on people. It wasn't *that* cool.

But oh my. The memories. And it gave me a good idea for a new type of blog post. I'm going to call it "Fact or Fiction." And I'll either write something that's totally made up, or a real autobiographical experience from my own life. Then you can vote on whether its true or not. I'm not sure if there will be prizes. We'll see if there's even any interest in playing. Look for a post later tonight!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Contest for you to Enter

Hello blog folk. Would you like the chance at a query critique or a first five pages critique or some other stuff? Hop on over to Shooting Stars and enter!

There's a great contest over at too, and if I can get my freakin manuscript finished by January 31st, I'm all over it. If you have a finished YA or MG manuscript, then by all means, check it out.

My husband will be out of town soon, and I have this crazy idea that I'm going to finish the manuscript while he's gone. I'll bring the laptop into my bedroom and there will be no one there to tell me to go to bed already, the girls are getting up in three hours. Sure, I will be sleep deprived, but I will have the book done (not edited or anything, but since I'm running it past the critique group as I'm going, it will certainly need less work than my first effort did (and still does).

I'll let y'all know how it goes.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Query Hiatus

I heard today that Colleen Lindsay of FinePrint Literary has reopened to queries, so if you're feelin' it, you should send her an email.

You would think I would be all excited, since she's a really good agent (so they say) but I realized today that I need to go on a query hiatus. I thought I was done revising Blink, but I'm not. The feedback I got from that agent about showing versus telling is still rattling around in my head. Yes, it totally did sound like a form response, but I think there is truth in it, whether it is form or not. YES, I thought I had revised the manuscript to within an inch of its life, but when I step back and look at my character's relationships and the way they meet and everything, there's a better way to do it, and I can get it done in fewer pages with far less backstory. I can also add more tension in my MC's relationship with her aunt (who has custody) and I know how to do it.

And I'm going to. It has been somewhat difficult to come to grips with the fact that I am not done with this yet even after the third revision. That it's not just a "taste" thing with the agents who are rejecting, but rather it's the fault of the manuscript. I haven't even had a request for a full. That's saying something right there. (I envy all you people who have had full requests. That must feel amazing.)

So anyway! I know what I need to do to fix it, and I will. I want to work on my MG WIP more right now though, so revision #4 to the YA will have to take a backseat. The story is going to undergo such a major operation that I'm sure there will be a revision #5 just to fix problems with numero quatro. I'm planning it in my head so that the words will explode onto the page whenever I decide to pull the trigger.

So I'm not querying Blink right now, and it feels weird, especially when a big name agent reopens herself to queries. But it's not the right time. I would just be rejected, and let's face it, rejection hurts. If I'm lucky, she'll still be open to new queries in six months or so when my middle grade novel is complete AND Blink is up to snuff and then BAM! BAM! The one-two query punch!

My middle grade is at 16,000+ words and I have moved my character just where I want him. I'm not quite halfway there...I probably have about 25K more words to go to really do this justice. [cue Ride of the Valkryies, picture me charging into battle, armed only with my pen. I've written the word Love on my pen, to make it mightier than the sword, so I'll be OK.]

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

YA Diary Entry Contest

Hello Blog Readers!

If you have not already done so and you have any urge at all to write in the YA genre, please get your bad selfs on over to Nathan Bransford's blog so that you can enter the YA diary entry contest.

All you have to do is write a fictional diary entry in a YA voice. 500 words or less. Post it to the comments section of the contest thread, and there you go. Contest closes at 4:00 PM Pacific time tomorrow (Wednesday the 6th). It's 500 words max people, so it doesn't take long. I wrote mine this morning while the kids were eating breakfast, AND they were screaming at me at the same time. MORE NANAS! MORE NANAS!!! So you can definitely do it.

Go. GO!!!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

It's Like Two Great Tastes That Taste Great Together

I became aware of two things today, and in a quirky way, they are kind of related.

1. On Janet Reid's blog, there is a link to a story about a woman who wore the same little brown dress every day for a year. Because I am a serial blog skimmer, I failed to notice the part where Janet clearly states that the story is three years old. The part that did sink in had me interested enough to click on the story, so I did, and lo and behold, there is Alex Martin, my friend Freya's girlfriend. (Freya and I used to work together and our kids went to the same school.)

Anyway! I'm watching the whole story, and I see pictures of Alex with a baby, and I'm like, OMG! Did they have another kid? How did I not know about this? (Freya is incredibly tiny, and a pregnancy on her is like taping a basketball to a toothpick.) Then I see Freya walk out onstage to give Alex a cake with a baby on her back and I'm like, what the hell? Who is that kid? And wait a minute...why have I never seen Alex wear that dress. Um...duh. Read the first sentence of the blog dumbass!


2. One of my oldest, dearest friends (we even share the same birthday) is the newest Snuggie model. She just got the job.

There is a story in here somewhere, just begging to be written. But I am not the one to tell it. I write YA and middle grade. Someone please run with this.

I can't wait to tell Alex that I heard about this story, and where I heard about it! :)

Friday, January 1, 2010

Feeling Discouraged

Hello. Perhaps this is not the way to start a new year, but I'm feeling really discouraged about writing.

Maybe this is not the right time for me. I keep finding that my stories don't have enough action. I'm great at dialogue, but books can't be 100% dialogue. (Unless you're Isaac Asimov, but I'm not him. And I'm exaggerating on that one..but not much.)

Anyway, I'll write something that I think is great, but then when I go back and read through it, not so much. I'll think of a way to fix it, but that opens up 100 more problems. Also, whenever I think of a "fix" I'm driving down the road, or fixing the girls lunch, or changing a diaper, etc. It's never at a time when I can even quickly jot down the epiphany I just had.

I'm taking care of the girls all day and working at night. There's just not much time. Maybe I should just wait until the girls are in school. But that holds its own pitfalls, because when the girls are in school full time I will probably go back to work full time, and I will run into the same difficulties I have right now...maybe my evenings will be more free, because I will work while the girls are in school, but when will the house get cleaned? When will the groceries be purchased? In the evenings of course.

Perhaps its just the end of winter break talking. The girls have been out of their classes for almost 2 weeks. Maybe when the big one goes back to preschool I'll start feeling the whole writing thing again.

I still love writing, I just hate the feeling I have when I read my work afterwards.