Thursday, March 31, 2011

"The Hoax" Book Review

This month for our book club book, we picked a read from an indie publisher (Mundania Press). It is called "The Hoax" and here is the blurb:

Bored accountant, Joey Duvaine, needed a career change. World domination seemed like a fun gig.

Allowing himself to become a puppet in his genius friend’s religious con, Joey plays his part in a fraudulent miracle devised by a private special effects team. As the media and the public are divided on whether he’s a modern prophet or a clever scam artist, an FBI agent becomes interested in Joey’s financial transactions, possible terrorist motives, and the overnight popularity of his new cult.

But the agent’s investigation leads him down a path he’s unprepared for, as Joey’s benefactors have barbarous motives beyond the smokescreen of the hoax, and for them, humanity is merely a disguise.


The story itself was fantastic. It was full of twists and turns and mysteries. There were a few issues, such as teeny tiny print and some editing problems. As an editor, I am very sensitive to those things. I don't mean to be, but my brain is wired to find those things. However, it didn't slow down the reading. I was able to overlook them and enjoy the story.

The pacing is great. The book is 360 pages of tiny print, but the actions and story pull you through to the end. The characters are fleshed out and you care about what is happening to them. There isn't one slow part or section that drags, but it's not overwhelming. It's just really great storytelling. I highly recommend this book.

I was also lucky enough to have email correspondence with the author. Adrienne Jones was kind enough to answer some questions, and she wanted me to mention her two new books that are coming out this summer: SEEDED, an urban fantasy from Mundania Press (publishers of The Hoax) and BACKBITE, a science fiction novel from Creative Guy Publishing. Her website is www.adriennejones.net.

Q) What inspired you to write this book?
A) I knew a man who pulled sleazy cons, like completely fabricating his resume and getting a job as a CEO with a company he knew nothing about, or using a rented wheelchair to cut line at Disney Land. But the ultimate was declaring himself a minister and his home a church to try and get tax breaks. It was this idea of a fake minister that intrigued me, and I started thinking…what would it take for something like that to go global? The conclusion I came to was that although humanity has proven at times to blindly follow anything, nothing in the information age could fool people on such a grand scale, especially with all the conflict and diversity in beliefs. So I asked myself, how COULD that happen, then? Ultimately my only option was to go beyond the known world, and that’s when the book shifted from mystery to paranormal mystery.

Q) How long did it take you to write the book?
A) THE HOAX was my first novel so I tinkered with it on and off before getting serious about it…I’d guess about two years from start to finish.

Q) Can you talk about its evolution and publishing history?
A) Well a week after I sent the book out to publishers I got a phone call from an editor at Tor. He wanted to talk about the book and asked me to send the entire manuscript (I’d sent a synopsis and sample). At the time I was too inexperienced to know that it was unusual for an editor at a major Sci-fi publishing house to just call you on the phone, so when it got rejected (he said it was too long for a first novel, and it WAS), I assumed it would be easy to just find another publisher. It wasn’t. I spent the next year trying to place it. Ultimately I discovered Mundania Press, who specialize in paranormal and have no problem with cross-genre stories like THE HOAX. By then I’d trimmed it down to size, and a few months after they requested the full manuscript, Mundania offered me a contract.

Q) What do you think are your themes?
A) Friendship and betrayal, free will versus coercion, the possibility of unconditional love and the idea that even those closest to you could be harboring secrets you would never imagine.

Q) What are you trying to get across or understand as you write?
A) Honestly, nothing. I write to entertain myself. I think creating worlds and people that didn’t exist before I made them to be highly amusing and fulfilling. It doesn’t run much deeper than that. I’m glad others find my stories as amusing as I do, that’s the icing on the cake.

Q) Why do you write?
A) I guess that would be the same answer as above, I enjoy it and it entertains me. I love to read, love to absorb myself in a fantasy world for a while until the book ends, and writing a novel is similar to that feeling, except you’re the one in control (even though at times it feels like the characters are leading the author)

Q) Where did the information on the celestial beings come from? Is it religion specific?
A) I get asked this a lot. It’s about 50 percent actual research into celestial mythology, and 50 percent just stuff I made up because I thought it would be neat. I definitely wanted to stay somewhat away from traditional religious interpretations of what these beings could be, and give it a sort of ‘what if’ spin that would make people look at it a little deeper, a bit more personally. Bring it down to earth, so to speak.

Q) Is there a sequel?
A) I have an outline and a first chapter, and plan to start a sequel this summer at long last.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Answering the Call

My friend Sherri was kind enough to answer the questions I posed yesterday about Inception. While the majority of them were helpful, they also inspired more, but I'm not going to dwell on the film. Despite the fact I didn't really like it, I still thought about it long after watching it. And isn't that what art/artists are trying to do? They want their creation to stick with you, to make you think, to ask questions, even if you didn't like it. So, in reality, the film accomplished it's goal!

Here's her response:

Okay, seriously, Pembroke. Your review is reminding me of the critic who walked out of the showing of Clerks II without watching the entire thing because of the donkey show. The critic never even got to the part about the donkey show and made a huge stink on the way out and then gave a review.

This review you did on Inception sounds like you did not actually watch it, just a couple of key points. I’m not saying the movie was good, great, or anything, just that it sounds like you didn’t pay attention. I watched it several months ago and can still answer your questions.

1 – They were going into people’s dreams to steal ideas as a form of corporate espionage. They would be hired by one company to invade the dreams of another corporation CEO/creator/or other person in the know to get the information. As in the first guy who figures out he is in a dream by the feel of the carpet – he knows a corporate secret the other corporation wants. It’s the same thing people do now getting spies hired in another company to get their secrets.

2 - Why the corporations fund this type of program is the same question being asked for decades with corporate espionage scenarios. As for the being hooked up to the machine – people didn’t typically realize that was what was going on. They would be in the dream world where everything seemed real and as if it was occurring in actual time. You could train yourself to know it might happen as the first guy with the carpet thing, but the main guy (the guy from Dark Knight who played Scarecrow) was not aware of this type of tactic. In addition, the movie was primarily about the implanting of an idea (to take apart his father’s company) whereas it only started with the stealing of an idea. The implanting is far more difficult and tricky.

3. As for the “training” of the subconscious the white blood cell analogy says it all. If you know a little bit about how the body works this makes sense as to why not everyone attacks. Think of the general population in the dream as red blood cells – they can look at the intruder but can’t really do anything about it other than clot – masses that stand and stare. The white blood cells are the antibodies, they come in fighting and attack the intruder. They are trained in the sense that white blood cells can be trained by vaccines to attack certain types of intruders. There are far fewer white cells in the body than red.

4. The bodyguards having guns, the Scarecrow guy had a military background – so we get military trained fighter cells. I’m sure you could train your psych to fight with spider monkeys with rabies shooting out of marshmallows based on the dreams premise; however, the dreams were created by an architect other than the dreamer based on the dreamers actual life, so it might have been a little more difficult to do. Hence all the research and the reprimand on the carpet, see above.

5. They guys in the back room with the chemists is where you really sound like you weren’t paying attention to Leonardo Dicaprio’s character or what was said at the time they showed those people. Some people who used the drugs often enough to dream – in order to see loved ones again – couldn’t dream unless they took the drug. Their bodies had built up a resistance to dreaming without the aid of the drugs. So, they took the drugs and spent most of their lives in the dreamworld. This is what Dicaprio and his wife did, they got trapped in the dream world and she no longer thought reality was reality – so she killed herself. Dicaprio’s character also built up this resistance and he used the drugs on his own to go back in to see his wife as she was before she lost touch with reality. Ellen Page’s character follows him in when she catches him and discovers his messy little secret.

This is why I said watch it again. There were little nuances and LARGE things you seemed to have missed.

SageCon

First of all, I figured out how to fix the spacing, so if you want to attempt to read yesterday's post, it should be easier.

The conference was last weekend. It wasn't exactly what I expected. Since my new goal is to focus on the positive, I will tell you the good things that came out of it.

I was able to hand out my key chains and flyers to the small group of participants. The majority of the people there were the demographics for my YA novel. I was on two panels, both of which were supposed to have three people. For my first one, I was the only one who showed up, but it was all good. I have no qualms about talking about myself!

The second panel all three of us showed up. We talked about our favorite sci fi books, movies, and short stories and influences. It was really fun. I also found out about a writer's workshop here in Laramie, so I applied. It's going to be a blast! (I will give you more details later!)

It was a long weekend with conferences and birthday parties, but I survived. I'm not planning on doing a damn thing this weekend!

Tomorrow I'm going to do something a little different. We have a book club meeting tonight, and the book we read was published by an indie publisher. I'm going to put up a review and interview, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Movie Review Monday on Tuesday

I could never get this to work properly for me yesterday, so you're getting it today! It's still not working, so you'll have to read it stream of consciousness!

Inception (2010)

Two and a half hours. Really? I'm pretty sure if they cut out some of scenes with the van falling into the water, they could have made the movie an hour and a half. I had some problems with this film.

1) Why are they going into people's dreams and trying to steal ideas? If the person hasn't thought of the idea, how do they know it's there? How do they know it's any good?

2) Why would a corporation fund these people? I mean, if you wanted to steal an idea, you had to physically be in contact with the person you were stealing it from. If someone drugs you and hooks you up to a machine, you can pretty much guess what they're doing. Why would you waste your time? There are easier ways to plunder someone's ideas.

3) If the subject could "train" his subconscious to repel attacks, why didn't EVERYONE in his subconscious go after them? While Cobb is training the new architect, he mentions that the projections in the dream function as white blood cells, so if their is a foreign body, or a foreign person in this case, they attack them. So, why are there only a few individuals with guns who actually attack? If they can recognize the threat, wouldn't the entire subconscious attack?

4) Why did the bodyguards have guns? It's the dream world, couldn't they have come up with something more exciting? Like spider monkeys with rabies that shoot out of marshmallows. Oh, wait, maybe that's just me!

5) What was it with those guys in the back room of the chemists? Were that many people out there projecting themselves into other people's dreams that they destroyed their own subconscious? I didn't get that part.

Visually the movie was intriguing. They obviously spent a lot of time creating the dream worlds and using CGI. Too bad they didn't focus more on the actual story. I'm sure the point was supposed to be that no place in this world is safe, not even your mind, but that's really only true if you're famous. I mean, these guys weren't stealing ideas from Joe Schmoe. Technically, they weren't even stealing ideas.

The biggest issue I had with this film was WHY? Why steal ideas? Why do it in their dreams? If someone can explain it to me, I would greatly appreciate it.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Movie Review Monday

I am having major issues with blogger right now. It keeps messing up my spacing, so I will publish my blog from another computer later this afternoon. I apologize.

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Week in Writing

I started doing edits on my nonfiction book this week. I know I said I was going to put it away forever, but I was in between projects and decided to pick it up again. At least this way, I will have it completely done.

As I'm reading through it, I do think it will probably never find a home. Maybe it's just my jaded perspective, but I don't feel this book is up to the "academic" par. I don't think my writing sounds very intelligent. What I really need is someone to read through it and give me comments (and I do have someone lined up, Thanks, Lori!), but I would like a few people to look at it. However, most of the people I know don't have time to read 200+ pages. I know I don't. Why do we have to have lives of our own? Damn us!

My eldest is turning 4 tomorrow. He's at that age where he wants to have a party and hang out with his friends. He's already been to two parties, so now it's his turn. He is so excited. We are going to the local Rec Center and rented a Bounce House. You know, those blow up things that kids jump in? I haven't actually told him that's what we're doing because I want it to be a surprise.

We invited 20 kids. 20! I didn't want anyone in his daycare to get hurt feelings, so we invited everyone in his class. I doubt all of them will show up, but 10 have RSVP'd so far. It should be fun, though. Plus, I have my conference tomorrow. It's going to be a busy, busy weekend! Keep me in your thoughts this weekend and hope I survive!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SageCon



I mentioned this convention a bit ago, and I wanted to mention it again. There are two days left before it kicks off. I am a "great author" who is participating in the event, as you can see from their blog. I'm still not exactly sure what I'm doing, but I'm supposed to be on some panels. I hope they tell me before this weekend! There is a schedule on the blog, but it's not exactly helpful.

This event is completely FREE for people to participate, so if you're in Laramie or close, you should come check it out. Apparently, this conference has been going on for several years, but I only heard about it last Christmas. I thought it would be a great way to get my name out there and meet some new people, so I contacted the chair. I'm really nervous and excited to participate.

I will try and take pictures while I'm there, and I will definitely share stories next week. Here's to geeking out this weekend!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Really? Once a Week?

Why does it seem like ONE day of the week seems to be worse than all the others? Sometimes it's the entire week, but on average, one day seems to drag me down. Today is that day. So far, I've had crises at work, my children were grumpy this morning (so was I), and I didn't sleep very well.

BUT, since I'm turning over a new leaf and focusing on the positive, here is something interesting that happened. I got an email this morning from a publisher who is requesting more information on my nonfiction book. They need more details about my experience/publishing, a detailed bibliography, and more details about my chapters.

The OLD me would have scoffed and said: "Why? Why am I wasting my time sending this information? You're just going to reject me in two weeks anyway."

The NEW me thought, "Well, at least they are asking for more information." They could have looked at it and said, "Nah. Let's not waste out time," and passed. I'm trying really, really hard to hang onto that small kernel of positiveness. It's difficult to completely get rid of old habits, and I'm doing my best to shut out the negative voice. But, hey, at least I'm trying!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tough Question Tuesday

What is the ONE thing that scared you the most when you were a child?

Mine was Gremlins. Creepy damn things. I was convinced they were everywhere, especially under the beds. I was constantly looking over my shoulder and hiding under my covers, waiting for them to attack at any moment...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Movie Review Monday

Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (2010)

I've wanted to see this movie since the first time I saw the trailer, which was at Shrek 4. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: It is amazing to me what they can do in a cartoon. The graphics were fantastic! It was originally done in 3D, but we don't have a 3D TV, but it was still visually stunning.

The story line was pretty predictable, but that's par for the course in a children's story. It was a little dark, and the bats were a little creepy (but bats ARE creepy!), but the 4 year old didn't get nightmares.

The main character, Soren, is a young owl who believes in the legends of the guardians. He hero worships them, and then gets the chance to meet them. I really liked how when he does meet them, they don't glorify war. In a lot of cartoons, the notion is: we have to fight to live, and that's the way it is, only the bad guys die. In this one, it was like: we have to fight to live, but it's not wonderful. Owls die and get hurt, both good and bad. Plus, the whole notion of having to fight a family member blurred the lines. BUT, the fight scenes were still pretty cool. I need an owl with metal claws or swords on his feet!

The bad owls were totally evil bad guys. They were great representatives of the Nazi regime, spewing forth their "superior race" ideals. The only thing I didn't really buy was the traitor in the Guardians' ranks. The film didn't set up the character enough to explain why he was willing to turn on his friends. In fact, the film didn't really give motivations or depth for any of the characters.

Soren's brother is unhappy and feels like Soren gets all of the attention, but his parents were still pretty loving and supportive. His turn to the dark side needed more explanation, it wasn't plausible. However, it was a kids' movie, and I'm sure kids don't look too deeply into that kind of stuff, so it worked for them. And who knows, maybe the books delve more deeply into that.

The 4 year old seemed to like it too, but he didn't ask to watch it again, so he only kinda liked it. If he really liked it, we would have watched it 4 more times! I would like to see it again just for all the little nuances. The 2 year old got kind of loud in some parts, so I couldn't hear the dialogue. It was an enjoyable movie, and I'd watch it again, but I doubt I'll find the time!

Friday, March 18, 2011

This Week in Writing

I finished my story "The History of Wishes." It's with some readers right now, and I'm just patiently awaiting it's return. I need to go through it again and make sure I took all the passive writing out of it. Stupid passive writing.

I'm also working on edits to my novella "Finding Eden." Again, I have to take care of the passive writing. It's all good, though. I didn't really have anything else to work on, so this will keep me busy. Well, I have tons of stuff to work on, but nothing I'm motivated to do. This has a deadline, so it gets my butt in gear.

Speaking of getting my butt in gear, I was home with a sick child yesterday. He had an upset stomach and a slight fever. Whenever he had children's Advil in his system, he was right as rain. The fever was gone and his tummy felt better. At one point in the afternoon, I commented on how the house needed picked up. He looked at me and said, "Well, then, c'mon. Let's get it done."

Since I had already picked up most of the toys that morning, I told him the rest was up to him. He says, "OK. I'll pick these up and you get the vacuum out." And he did. He followed me around the house while I vacuumed, screeching at the top of his lungs (Why? I have no idea). Both boys even helped me sweep and mop the kitchen floor. I got something accomplished!

It is so nice to have a little help in the motivation department. I was content to let the house stay the way it was, but with the help of my kiddo, we got it nice and clean. I hope you find your motivation this weekend, and if not, I hope someone is there to give you a little push.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Being Passive

After having two novels and a novelette edited by a professional editor, one thing has become clear: I'm a passive writer. I don't know why I'm passive, and I don't notice it until someone points it out. Once I know it's there, it can be easily fixed.

Being a passive writer is NOT a good thing. It distances the reader from the characters and makes them, well, passive instead of active. The action is hard to follow because, again, there is a distance there. There is also a lot of telling instead of showing. I've noticed I'm the worst at this when I write in first person. My goal is to be more attentive to this problem and correct it in the future.

Do you have a quirk/issue with your writing you are trying to correct?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Creation of My Cover

After the publisher decided to publish my story, Life After the Undead, I knew I wanted the cover to be something special. I knew of a horror artist named Jerrod Brown who I thought would be perfect for the task. I contacted him, and my cover was born. He has put together a step-by-step narration of how the cover was created, and it is so cool, I had to share with you. I hope you enjoy!

LIFE AFTER THE UNDEAD: The Cover
By Horror Artist Jerrod Brown

I've never had much interest in doing a 'Step by Step' or 'How To' of one of my paintings. Mainly because I never felt my work was up to that caliber. A lot of artists are doing this these days (especially in the digital world) for their portfolios. But, here I am with paint brush in hand and camera at the ready, for my own little life cycle of an Acrylic on Canvas. There's really no reason at all that I chose this book cover... I guess I'm just finally in the mood.


The Title of the book will be 'Life After the Undead' by authoress Pembroke Sinclair to be released by eTreasures Publishing in both print and e-book format. Pembroke sent me the following synopsis to give me an idea of what the young adult horror (zombie) novel will be about:

The world has come to an end. It doesn’t go out with a bang, or even a whimper. It goes out in an orgy of blood and the dead rising from their graves to feast on living flesh. As democracy crumples and the world melts into anarchy, five families in the U.S. rise to protect the survivors. The undead hate a humid environment, so they are migrating westward to escape its deteriorating effects. The survivors are constructing a wall in North Platte to keep the zombie threat to the west, while tyranny rules among the humans to the east. Capable but na├»ve Krista is 15 when the first attacks occur, and she loses her family and barely escapes with her life. She makes her way to the wall and begins a new life. But, as the undead threat grows and dictators brainwash those she cares about, Krista must fight not only to survive but also to defend everything she holds dear—her country, her freedom, and ultimately those she loves.

With this information, I have to come up with the concept and how to approach the canvas to best reflect what the author has in mind. The only request Pembroke asked of me, is to make sure somewhere in the painting is 'the wall constructed by the survivors'. Of course my first thought was to paint a wall straight down the middle of the canvas, with the survivors on one side and the zombies on the other. Then, I thought O.K. this is probably the direction most artists would take and it was (in my mind) too generic. So, I decided to go with a more straight forward approach, looking at the wall dead ahead...


STEP 1:

Even though the canvas comes packaged as 'pre-primed', I still completely prime my canvas' with 2 layers of Gesso over a 2 day period, this eliminates the oils on the pre-packaged canvas that separates the acrylic paint. Along with the final layer of priming, I add my first background color. In this case adding cobalt blue hue for the sky. The majority of this coloring will be covered up.


STEP 2:

For the distant background, 'Apocalyptic': A burned war torn horizon. I was thinking along the lines of 'Resident Evil'. First penciling in some destroyed buildings in the distance and painting them in with Titanium White, Mars Black and Hansa Yellow. Then airbrushing in some smoke and burning in the air with Dark Brown, Yellow, Orange and Opaque Black.


STEP 3:

Now I want to paint the wall. As mentioned above (from a dead ahead approach). I didn't want to go with a typical brick or mortar look, instead a steel, more industrial feel. As if the survivors built the wall from iron scraps. So, I wrote Pembroke and verified that steel was O.K., making sure a brick/mortar wall was not mentioned in the story line. First drawing in the wall with pencil and then painting it in with Mars Black, Titanium White, Red and Yellow Oxide. Then darkening the shadows and crevices by airbrush with Dark Brown. I deliberately wanted the wall and city to be a dark, doom and gloom look in order for the Zombies and main characters to pop out more. Then adding a few lines of barbed wire at the top of the wall with Red Oxide.


STEP 4:

For the background (window to the other side of the wall), I based it in with a solid Cadmium Red Deep Hue. My first thought was to have Krista hiding behind the wall looking thru at Zombies coming toward her from the city and perhaps trying to get at her thru the window. Then I reversed the idea and had a Zombie toward (us) the viewer, with Krista dramatically coming thru from the city side, shooting her gun (a Zigana T). So, first I sketched the two main cover characters with white colored pencil. Once I got them in place where I liked them, I sketched in the remaining background view of Zombie hands (as if Krista were up against hundreds of zombies).


STEP 5:

The far background (with zombie hands) had to be painted first before the main character (Krista). So, I airbrush in some areas over the Cadmium Red with Opaque Black. Not too heavy, just enough to give it some smokey areas. Then I filled in my white pencil sketches of the zombie hands and the foreground zombie with Mars Black, Raw Sienna, Unbleached Titanium and Naphthol Crimson.


STEP 6:

I sprayed over the zombie hands area with Deep Red airbrush paint. To set the hands further back in appearance, so they wouldn't overpower the main character. As for Krista herself, I painted her in with Mars Black, Burnt Siena, Titanium White, Napathol Crimson, and Unbleached Titanium. Then adding some blood spatter to the foreground zombie with Cadmium Red Medium Hue and adding torn jeans with Phthalo Blue. As a final touch, I added an old rusted 'North Platte' street sign hanging from the barbed wire, using Hookers Green and Red Oxide. Finishing out the painting with a few tweaks here and there.


FINAL


The jpg was sent out for eTreasures Publishing and Pembroke Sinclair's final approval. They added the Title and Authors name to the approved cover art. 'Life After the Undead' Cover Complete!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tough Question Tuesday

Who is your favorite super hero?

It's only been recently that I've been into the super hero scene (I can thank my almost 4 year old for that). Before, I really just knew the "big" ones: Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and Wonder Woman. I like all of those heroes (with the exception of Spiderman, not my favorite), but I have to say I'm really taking a shine to Green Lantern. The more I learn about him, the more intriguing he is. Plus the whole Green Lantern Corp is pretty cool.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Movie Review Monday

The boys were gone this weekend, so the spouse and I had a lot of time to watch movies. We watched THREE this weekend, although only two of them were "new" releases.

The Other Guys (2010)

Remember the previews for this movie? They were hilarious. Plus, it's got Will Ferrell, so it has to be funny, right? WRONG! There were moments where I chuckled, but on the whole, this movie was just bizarre. It kind of had a plot, but didn't. It was supposed to be making fun of other cop shows, but it was more tragic than funny. It was a mishmash of events strung together that kind of made a storyline. I was really disappointed.

My spouse said that if they had just made it a "real" film instead of a comedy, it would have worked better. I agree. It had a coherent story, but they messed it up by trying to add the "comedy" bits into it. The whole thing with Mark Wahlberg's character and his girlfriend was over the top and not funny. Honestly, I thought Mark Wahlberg's character was pretty much pointless. He drove me crazy!

The only saving grace of this film was Dwayne Johnson and Michael Keeton. The Rock doesn't have a very big part, so that's not saying too much.

After this film, we watched Super Troopers to get the taste out of our mouths. Now that movie is ridiculous and over the top but so much fun!

Due Date (2010)

After being thoroughly disappointed with The Other Guys, we were looking forward to Due Date. We'd both heard wonderful things about it, and the previews made it look fabulous. Good god, we had a bad weekend in films.

This movie was nothing like I expected it to be. Nothing. I found myself laughing more than I did with The Other Guys, but it was also very tragic. You wanna talk about a mishmash of events strung together, then let's talk about his film. The basic plot is fine, but the situations these two get into is surreal. I know, I know, it's supposed to be. I couldn't handle it. Again, it was just too bizarre.

I walked away from the movie shaking my head, trying to figure out what the hell I'd just watched. The best part of the whole movie was when Peter freaks out on Ethan and then spits on the dog. I know, sad, but that part just stuck with me.

Has anyone else seen these two films? What did you think of them?

Friday, March 11, 2011

This Week in Writing

I'm feeling much better today. I went to bed early, and the 3 year old stayed asleep all night. It was divine. I still had stressful dreams, however. No zombies, though, so that was nice.

I've been working on my story "The History of Wishes" this week. I've written about 6,200 words and still have the last part to finish. It's taking a much different direction than I had originally thought, but it's still fun to write. Like I said last week, you never know how much you miss fiction until you're away from it for months.

This story has been a little challenging for me to write because it's a vampire story. I don't normally write vampire stories. It feels like I'm writing a cliche. I mean, so many stories have been done with vampires, how do you make it original? But it's been nagging at the back of my brain, so I have to get it out. You are always your own worst critic, so it might not be as bad as I think. I guess I'll have to leave that judgement to the readers.


Earlier this week, the boys and I were watching Batman (the first one with Michael Keeton). The 3 year old was running around in his cape and fighting the bad guys, the 2 year old was mimicking his actions, and I was sitting on the chair. The 3 year old turns to me and says, "I'm Batman, my brother is Robin, and you can be Alfred." I chuckled. Just who I wanted to be!

But, in reality, I am kinda like Alfred. I'm constantly picking up after the boys, driving them to where they need to be, and taking care of them. I'm positive that if they were running around fighting crime, I'd be there with all of their supplies.

Even though I didn't get to pick who I wanted to be in the kids' game, I'm just happy I could be involved. Sometimes in life we don't always get to be who we imagine we are, but at least we don't get left out. I hope your weekend is like that!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Running on Fumes


If anyone is in Laramie or near it and you want to go to Sagecon, it's free. I've never been to it, but I looks like it might be fun! For more information, you can check out sagecon.org. I will blog all about it after I've been.


I didn't sleep very well last night. To start the night off, I went to bed late. Then, the 3 year old was up twice because he got uncovered and in our room at 6:30. I'm dragging butt today.
I had another zombie dream last night. Not my re-occurring one, a different one. In this one I'm in a small town and a group of us have safe zoned an entire block. We're doing just fine, existing without worrying too much about zombies, then more people move in, bringing the walkers with them. At one point, I'm in a house with my family, and I can't find the 2 year old. According to his brother, he's tottled across the street to the other house. Since he's over there, the 3 year old wants to go, so he darts out of the house. Then, zombies start roaming the streets, so I can't get my kids. I know they're safe, but I prefer to have them in my arms.
That night, a zombie gets into the house I'm sleeping in, and I'm the only one who hears it, so I'm wandering around in the dark, barely able to see (I'm pretty sure that was influenced by my getting up with the 3 year old). The only thing I can think while I'm looking for the zombie is that I'm glad the boys aren't in the house. I woke up before I could find the creature.

Yes, I'm still stressed, but this time it's about something different than my nonfiction. My son's birthday is at the end of the month so I'm planning his party, I'm participating in a conference on the 26th and 27th (poster above) and have no idea what I'm doing, and I'm trying to get my cover squared away with the publisher so I can start using it for promotion (that is a story in and of itself and I'm pretty sure Martha is about to slap me. I'm not purposely being difficult, I swear!). I just keep telling myself that it will be over soon, and I can make it through my day.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Relatively Few A-holes

Last week I went on a tangent about some things that were bothering me. In it, I mentioned an editor that gave me a pretty rude rejection. I just wanted to tell you that meeting editors/publishers like that rarely occurs. Trust me, I've sent out hundreds of submissions and can count on one hand the as*holes that have responded.

Most editors/publishers are neutral. They look at your stuff and send out prefabricated rejection forms. Occasionally, they will send a quick, personal rejection, but that's pretty rare. The majority of these publishers/editors are very professional, they're just busy.

On the other end of the spectrum are those editors/publishers who are exceptional and take the time to read and comment on your material. I had the pleasure of running into one of those last week, too. So, not only did I meet an a-hole, I met a saint.

My first contact with this publisher was to ask a question about their submission process. They responded very quickly with the answers (very quickly meaning the same day). I was postponing sending anything to them because they don't take simultaneous submissions. I was waiting to hear from a few others, so I told the company I would send my stuff in a few days. The submission process requests a questionnaire be filled out plus the entire manuscript.

Then, I received 3 rejections, one of which was the mean one. I totally lost my confidence. I tried to fill out their questionnaire, but I couldn't do it. I felt like it wasn't worth it. I figured they were just going to reject me, like everyone else had, so I sent them an email and told them that I didn't want to send the entire manuscript because I didn't want to waste any one's time. I sent my query and asked if they could please tell me if it was something they would be interested in.

I didn't follow their submissions guidelines, and I apologized for it, but the acquisitions editor was still nice enough to request the entire manuscript. I can only imagine how busy she is, but she's willing to read my book and tell me if it's viable. Do I think they'll take it? No (forever the optimist!). But I am incredibly flattered and honored that she is taking the time to look at it. She could have told me no. She could have told me to follow the guidelines. But she didn't. Editors/publishers like this are incredibly rare. I'm looking forward to her response, even if it's a rejection.

The publishing world is unpredictable. No one knows what's going to be hot and what's going to sell big. Yes, it's full of rejection and heartache, but there are also small rays of sunshine. My goal for the rest of this year is to focus on the positive. Rejection is going to happen, it's just part of the game, but I'm not going to let it get me down. Again, they are not attacking me (well, sometimes they might be attacking me, but those people are idiots!), they are just making a business decision. At least I'm putting myself out there. At least I can say people looked at my stuff and rejected it. Eventually, someone will like it, and that one acceptance will make all the other rejections disappear.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tough Question Tuesday

Who is your favorite live-action Batman?

Here are your choices:

Adam West
Michael Keeton
Val Kilmer
George Clooney
Christian Bale

Honestly, I can't answer this question. If I had to pick a least favorite, I'd have to say George Clooney. But I don't know if it was him as Batman or the god-awful film he was in.

I also wanted to tell you about my crazy night last night. I was dreaming about dreaming. I was actually dreaming that I was asleep and I could see what I was dreaming. How weird is that?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Movie Review Monday

Despicable Me (2010)

I heard a lot of good things about this film, mainly how funny it was, so I was ready to be blown away. Sadly, I was disappointed. There were funny moments, but nothing like I was expecting.

I did like the whole portrayal of the villains: dorky guys with nothing better to do. That was a change from the very dark and sinister villains that you normally see in cartoons, although I like those guys too. It was pretty predictable, but that's what you expect from a kids' cartoon.

We thought the 3 year old would really enjoy it, but he just kind of stared at the TV. He laughed a few times, but he laughed a lot harder at Tangled. Maybe he was just tired. We did get up and dance during the final credits. That was fun.

I've been thinking about time portrayal in cartoons lately. Things happen in a relatively short amount of time, especially people falling in love (we also watched The Princess and the Frog, and Disney is notorious for characters falling in love rather quickly), and I find it very interesting. I know a lot of it has to to with the actual time constraints of the film, but I'm also thinking it has to do with kids' inability to grasp the concept of time. Plus, who wants to watch a movie where things happen like they do in real life? Boring! I'm still working this out in my brain, so I'll let you know if I come to any conclusions.

The movie wasn't horrific, and it did have some funny moments. I'm sure if the 3 year old wanted to watch it again, it wouldn't kill me to turn it on. Does anyone else have an opinion on this film?

Friday, March 4, 2011

To the Roots

I finished the draft of my nonfiction last Friday, just like I planned. It's nice to have it done and out of the way, but I'm putting it away for a while. Probably forever. If you read posts from earlier this week, you'll know why I'm having such a hard time with this book.

On a happier note, I've been working on a fiction story. It's been on hold for a loooong time, and I just figured out the main character. It's been fabulous. You never know how much you miss fiction until you're away from it for a while. There is so much more freedom. I love it!

Normally, I would have a cute story involving my boys to take you into the weekend, but nothing overly humorous happened this week. It's just been one of those weeks. I know this weekend everything will turn around, though, and I'm looking forward to it. I hope your weekend is just as fabulous!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"Surprising" Revelations

I haven't slept very well this week. Last night I had my re-occurring zombie dream. In it, my family and I are trapped in my parent's house while zombies roam the streets. We've been there for a while, and my kids desperately want to go outside. But, as you can imagine, they can't unless they want to become zombie food. It's a very distressing dream. The zombies don't bother me too much, but listening to my kids whine drives me insane.

When I have that dream, it means only one thing: I'm stressed. Yes, I can see all of your shocked faces right now. Part of it stems from the effing nonfiction book, but the other part comes from taxes. I know, I know, I need to let the sh*t go and just relax. I will. Eventually.

This weekend should help. Plus, me not working on the effing nonfiction book should make a world of difference. I can hardly wait!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cleansing the Soul

Today's post is going to be a rant. I have some things to get off my shoulders, so if you don't want to read me b*tching and whining, stop right now.



First and foremost, why is it so hard for people to answer emails? (I'm not talking about people in general, I'm talking about very specific individuals who will not be named.) I understand that you are busy, I understand that you might have a real job, but you also have an obligation to me (and no, I'm not being self-centered, I actually had questions I needed answered). If you say you're going to email me on a specific date, then, by god, email me. Even if you don't have an answer, email me and tell me you don't have an answer.

I'm not a very patient person. I'm sure most of you have learned that by now. However, I will wait 2-3 weeks before telling you that your reply is 2-3 weeks late, but don't ignore THAT email. I know I have a sickness, I check my email 800 times a day, so I'm really prompt at getting back to people. BUT, if your primary form of communication is email, you had better check yours just as often. This waiting a week or longer for an answer to a simple question is absurd.

Then, to top everything off, I received the rejection that sent me over the edge yesterday. I emailed my proposal for my nonfiction book, and this is the reply I received:


"Thanks for letting me see this. I regret to say that it wouldn't be appropriate for us. (You're still working on this at a student level: no film scholar needs to be told that movies are more than "mere entertainment.") Good luck with this. You might find a publisher, but you need to polish the work and identify the right audience for it."


What this person is referring to is the first paragraph of chapter 1. A paragraph. It's not written in stone. I can delete it. There are 220 pages and this is what this person focuses on. Whatever.

Now, I understand that this person was probably just being honest. It's also possible this person is a pompous ass. I have received a lot of rejections on this book, and this was the first one that hurt. There was a tactful way to approach it. For example, here's two I received this morning:

"Thank you for your recent email outlining a book entitled Life Lessons from a Machete. I am sorry to say that we would be unable to undertake to publish this work as it does not fit with our current commissioning list. I am sorry not to have been able to be of help to you and wish you all the best in finding a suitable publisher for your work."

"Thank you for sending the proposal. I've shared it with our series editor for the Film and Culture series and I'm afraid he doesn't think it's right for the list--most of the books we publish in the series are based on archival research."

They are short, sweet, and not condescending. I was having mixed feelings about my nonfiction project anyway, and that email pretty much sealed it for me: I'm putting it away and working on something else. The fun has been sucked out of it, and it's going to drive me insane (well, more so than I already am), so I'm done. If someday someone wants to take a look at it, all I have to do is give it one more read through and do some baby edits.

OK, deep breath. I just had to get those things out. They were festering. I realize that I'm probably overreacting (and being slightly unfair) in both of these situations, but after a while, they just build up. We all go through this, we're human, so for those of you who read to the end, thanks for being some eyes for me to lean on.

Tough Question Tuesday

Did you listen to my radio interview on Sunday?

It was crazy and fun. They asked some weird questions, some that were very hard to answer, so check it out. You might get some insight into why I act the way I do!