Saturday, July 31, 2010

Friday on Facebook, or at least the fun parts.

If you really know me, there are some things that you are aware of.
1. I'm not a social creature.
2. Time only has real meaning to me when you are interrupting mine.
3. I'm a lousy housekeeper.

These factors have me running around today in a haze of OMG, my mother in law is coming!  I can't stand yet another party right now, so what are we going to do for the Wee One's birthday?  Crap!  It's the 30th, and I haven't done any of my critiques for the writer's group!  Oh my friggin' gaaaaaawd, my mother in law is COMING HERE!!!

With that playing on loop in my mind, I came up from the basement, put away some things that I purposely placed in my computer chair to force myself to not leave them where they should not have been, and thought: "I watched reruns of The Vampire Diaries and Moonlight last night, so it must be Friday again."

Ugh.  Friday again, and I haven't done the research for the post that would cover not only Kelley Armstrong's books, but also what tidbits I could pick up from her on writing and the industry without reproducing the major posts on plotting and etc. she's put up for the writing members of her site (cuz she rocks like that).

Having skipped the last Friday post, I felt like I had to produce something.  I thought, "Hey, I can scan Facebook for all the author news that people not on FB--or who are on but not following a lot of authors--might not know.

Ah, the best laid plans....I believe I mentioned that I'd finally given in to FB and followed blogger Tez and Kelley Armstrong over to the site, only to be "friended" by a bunch of authors who, either assumed I had to be good people if I hung with them...or who at least thought maybe I'd buy their books.  Some of the others from the writing group friended me and introduced me to those obnoxious FB games that we all complain about when we're not playing them.  To advance in those games, you often need a large number of fellow players, so I found myself adding hundreds of people that I don't actually know to my friend's feed.  To be able to keep up with those I do know, I created a filter for friends and authors...

......I've got dozens of authors in that filter, but, I realized as I went searching for updates to post, there are also tens of second cousins twice removed and scores of people from my high school....

And then, the author posts are sorted out, they aren't all or even mostly about writing.  Do you really want to know that Devon Monk (Magic to the Bone (Allie Beckstrom) ) wrote: Great. Mutant spider's on the loose on my desk. Sprayed it w/bleach, didn't faze it. Think it flipped me off as it skittered under computer. 

Yeah, so do I!  Maybe it's feeling like your favorite authors are accessible, or the joy of glimpsing the person behind the words, but I enjoy the status updates I get daily on Facebook and when I remember to log in to Twitter.  So let's have some fun!

Gerrie Ferris-Finger (The End Game: A Mystery) linked to The E-books Article Drinking Game.  In my defense, I was also sick of the articles, but had to add my two scents when I got an e-reader of my very own.

Mark Henry (Happy Hour of the Damned) turned friends and fans on to funnies.

RG Alexander did a cyber Snoopy dance over a pic of her (?) new release shelved early at a certain Borders.     It's much like these other covers.... Lux in Shadow: Children of the Goddess Book 2  Twilight Guardian (Children of the Goddess) that are all primed and ready for me to put up, so you get the idea. I'm going to stop scanning updates because I feel a rant building.  I mean, why aren't more covers like this?  Not that I need all my books to be stamped with muscular or two will do nicely.  But if they're going to keep telling us that Urban Fantasy is a woman's genre, what's without all the female body parts on the cover?  I'm rereading Dime Store Magic (Women of the Otherworld), which now has a nifty new cover.  But I'm reading the original:
 Dime Store Magic (Women of the Otherworld, Book 3)What the hell?  Not only does the leg not make the book more appealing, but if you read just a chapter or two, you know that sure as hell isn't the narrator's leg!  Poor Paige, replaced by some skinny witch.  I'm not going to make the post too image heavy, but the urge is to show the sea of midriff and tramp stamps, broken up by the occasional over sized breasts or sexy thigh.

Humphf.  Rather than talk about the mixed messages of kick-ass heroines that have to look like sex kittens (even when they don't), I'm going to head over to R.G. Alexander's webpage to try and figure out if any of the paranormal romances come close enough to urban fantasy...or look sexy enough to keep me distracted from the fact that my mother in law is coming!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bad analogy, good idea

Two Christmases ago, the regular Spades players in my generation of family taught me to play.  We've pulled out a deck of cards at most social gatherings, and until recently, my team has always won.  Sure, my teammate is always more experienced than I am, but I make dumb mistakes.  Not to mention that I'll play with others and still cream whomever had won with me.  I've beaten people in my generation who have been playing for at least a decade, and my parents generation who started playing a good decade before I was born.  Until two weeks ago, I was undefeated, with little skill and nothing to explain it but beginners luck.

I thought of that the other day when agent Nathan Bransford asked why it's so hard to tell if our writing is good.  Writing to me, is like that in a way.  I've talked to a lot of creative people who are natural storytellers, but when you talk about writing, they're so sure they can't because their grammar sucks or they can't spell to save their lives.  And others have gotten beyond that and learned the grammar, embraced word processing with spell check, but hold on to the "I can't" mentality that keeps them from finishing or sending out their work.  (I may resemble that.)  On the other hand, I've searched my soul for diplomatic critiques and some sort of honest encouragement for people--sure that they're the next big thing in fiction--whose work makes me think, "Dude, really?  There's a story in this mass of words and semi-colons?"

OK, written out like that, the analogy is ridiculously thin...

But people from either group can fill in for me, never really sure of strategy, forgetting to count the cards that came before, but applying themselves and kicking ass.  We don't know if we're good...or bad...because there's no real measure.  We can't count adjectives like spades (I got on this metaphor and I'm gonna ride it til the wheels fall off, damn it!) and declare that we're "trump tight."  So some of us sit on creative goldmines sure that no one will like our work while others come up with the lamest excuse for a story and know we'll be the next big thing.

I think we should take a page for the (in their own minds) writing superstars.  They finish their stories and send them out.  So what if an agent or editor doesn't like their work?  The next one will.  Since this is advice that I'm really force feeding myself, sure there will be lots of rejection, but the superstars are on to something. When the boy I feel in love with in college dumped me for a so-called friend because she put out, that was rejection.  I lived through it.  A few dozen, "sorry, this isn't for me" notes could hardly compare.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Breaking the Block

A week ago Thursday, I decided that the Friday-post-that-never-was should start with: "A year from now, I'm going to write a post filled with all the good advice that I don't know to use now."

Thinking of that, I realized how much advice I've taken in over the years.  And that advice you don't take isn't particularly helpful...

Everything, from seeing a shot of Vin Diesel as I channel surfed to waking up with the chorus of a once heard song in my head, has been giving me ideas for characters and setting.  Meanwhile, the collaboration was staring at me with accusing eyes and a stagnant word count.  I told myself to focus...and ended up playing a lot of Plants Vs. Zombies and Bejeweled. 

Growing desperate, I desperate, I dusted off the my copy of The Artist's Way and started to do an exercise that had given me success in the past.  It's a long term recovery sort of thing, so I also started to follow my own advice.  "Just one line."  I had a few days in a row where that's as far as I got on my little section of story.  Then someone had posted what I'd been ignoring: use the ideas that you have.  Instead of blocking out the inspiration that was coming to me and sitting on the story that was blocked, I wrote the ideas down.

It wasn't exactly a floodgate, but when I went to write "just one line" that afternoon, I was able to write to the end of the chapter.

Somewhere in there, you know, if you happen to be stuck, is my advice to you.