Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Joke of the Day

Why a joke for the day? Because Blogger won't let me comment on Unicorn Bell and I have nothing else to give.

I had a problem with my computer yesterday, so I called Eric, the 11 year old next door whose bedroom looks like Mission Control and asked him to come over.

Eric clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem.

As he was walking away, I called after him, “So, what was wrong?”

“It was an ID ten T error,” he said.

I didn't want to appear stupid, but nonetheless,
An, ‘ID ten T error’? What's that? In case I need to fix it again.’

“Haven't you ever heard of an ‘ID ten T’ error before?” Eric asked. His smirk was beginning to annoy me.


“Write it down,” he said. “You’ll figure it out.'

So I wrote down.


I used to like Eric, the little bastard.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dark Shadows

As a kid, I tripped and splattered on the sidewalk, nearly crippling myself. I was running home to watch Dark Shadows after school when the bus let me off late.

Dark Shadows. It was so different, so very hip, the water cooler program of its time, and the one everyone talked about next day. Some of the bloopers were hilarious too.

I have an original, 45-rpm record of Quentin’s Theme. *swoon* Barnaby Collins was my second fave, right after Quentin. He was my first ‘Edward’.

Johnny Depp as Barnaby and director Tim Burton think they can re-make this show. Um. I don’t know.

I like Mr. Burton and Depp but this is one classic TV show that should probably not be defamed, turned into a camp-type production. Re-Made into their ‘vision’.

Depp would have to be one fantastic looking dude/vampire for me to convert. That's him in the middle, looking rather Jonathan Frid-esque. And where is Quentin?

Oh, well.

To all those lovers of Dark Shadows, are you anticipating this movie a) Eagerly b) Suspiciously c) Don’t give a flying fig?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

WTH is YA?

To answer the above question, YA changes with the times.

In past decades, the definition of YA was The Catcher in the Rye, Bambi, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Oliver Twist. Seriously, can you imagine kids reading one of the above on their own without a school report looming? Well maybe Mockingbird but what about the rest.

Animal stories dominated the shelves as well as what is now labeled literary classics.

Black Beauty, Irish Red, Misty of Chincoteague.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Great Expectations, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Stories about teenage drug dependences, graphic violence, and death almost non-existent.

Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia, The Call of the Wild, The Black Stallion, Little House in the Big Woods.

But the kids grew into adults and wanted more. They pushed the envelope on youth oriented material. And their audience responded.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, The Diary of Anne Frank, My Brother Sam is Dead.

YA became less a genre than a category, a cacophony of different voices covering social issues, literary, and sci-fi and horror.

The Babysitter, Vampire Academy, The Lord of the Rings.

New sub-categories burst onto the scene with names like steampunk and dystopia that had to be Googled.

Clockwork Angel, The Hunger Games, Hush Hush, The Hunger Games, Twilight.

Aside from any morality issues of teens exposed to TMI at an early age, some of today’s books make me feel like a cat stroked backwards. Annoyed.

Many of the books are carbon copies. I’m not talking about subject or content but prose. First person, smart alec girl with a past who is kick ass at – fill in the blank here. All of them talk the same with the similar vocabulary. Blech.

My pet peeve, my problem, I reckon. I hate to see so-called ‘recipe’ type books. But writers read a book, like it, and want to see more. Or (heaven help us) see a profitable trend and want to cash in.

The YA bookshelves are wide-open for any genre, full of promise and mayhem. But golly people, give the Rose/Clary/Nora/Grace/Katniss spin offs a rest. We liked them as a trickle. The flood? Eh, not so much.

Whadda you think?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Agents and Their Responses to Queries

Janet Reid has an excellent post concerning queries. She gives her opinion of Rachelle Gardner and Jill Corcoran and their method of ‘no response means no’.

Far be it from me to get in the middle of this discussion but maybe a sidebar is in order.

After researching an agent and agency, employing hours and days of work, please Mr. or Ms Agent let me know if you’ve received my query. It can be an auto-reply or a rejection.

(At this point in my writing career, if a rejection pinches my ego, I figure that is MY problem not yours.)

Have a website or a Publisher’s Marketplace page. This seems rudimentary but I see this often. If you don’t market yourself, how can you market my manuscript?

Keep your site updated. Come on, are you really so busy that you can’t take ten minutes to post something more current than 2009?

List your preferences. Again, this seems like a ‘duh’ but sadly it isn’t. Tell me exactly what you do not want. This saves us both time and work.

If you are not taking new clients and routinely deleting/shredding queries, please let me know. Don’t coast.

I realize you receive queries that don’t follow the rules and that you must wade through the mucky ones to find the gems. But I’ve taken the time, Mr. or Mrs. Agent, to research and read your submission guidelines line by line, Google all your interviews, study your blog and website. Please respond in some fashion even if it is with a ‘no’, a form letter, or an auto-response that you received the query.

Believe me, the phrase "no news is good news" is a horrible way to conduct business.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Visualizing Fight Scenes and Critiquing

Want to run a questionable fight scene through the ringer of fellow critters? Go to UnicornBell to submit your problem child for help.

Before I compose a fight scene for my manuscript, I first map out the steps, the action, and the weapons.

And I watch Jackie Chan. A lot.

Videos, movie and competition matches, play a large part in my research. Not so much car chases though since they are mostly *ABC stuff. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

But let’s set the record straight. The hands down, best fight sequences, best car chase scenes (IMHO) are in The Bourne Ultimatum. That cop car, coasting down the speed barrier is, well, I could watch it three times, re-wind, and watch it again. Super.

Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee (if you can find his stuff), are two of the best. I slo-mo the action, note the placement of their feet especially and body.

The defensive tactics I learned as a CO is invaluable; where to place the hands, slapping the palm, and turning the thumb just so to release an opponent’s grip.

Use what you have, take martial arts classes, watch videos. All this helps to visualize that fight scene. Then your MC can pop open that can of ass whoopin’.

Again, if you want to run that problem child of a fight scene past like-minded individuals, go to Unicorn Bell and submit 250-300 word excerpt (with a lead-in) to beccoff(at)nwmo(dot)net.

*Already Been Chewed

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Sign of Fall

We call it the Gathering, the fall migration of our barn swallows. They sit on the power lines, sway in the breeze, and seem to count their numbers before leaving.

They’ve abandoned their nests; the young have followed them into the sky. Now they wait until everyone shows up.

Who is missing? Are they counting heads? Or are they looking for the youngest to strengthen? Do they wait on the weather?

They begin their gather at the end of August, filling the lines until it curves down into a half-smile.

We hurried them along this year. When our barn began to lean, we knew its days were numbered. Built in 1918, it had served its purpose and did not owe us a dime. Better to put it down gently, lovingly than let it fall in pain, piece by piece.

We dropped it and the barn swallows immediately began their Gathering.

And then, one day we woke, and the barn swallows were gone.
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