Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm On American Idol!

You may have noticed, dearest blogging friends, that I have been somewhat absent of late, so I guess I need to make some sort of announcement regarding this. I'm not going on hiatus. I'm going on half-ass, which is a little different. My daughter is visiting from out of town for a few weeks so I will be online a lot less. I'll still pop in and take a looksee when I get a moment, but mostly I'll be in the living room watching Buffy or Angel episodes on DVD which is... what we do when we're together. I know it's not incredibly exciting, but I'm fairly poor and can't afford to eat out and hang out in theaters a lot.

During our drive back home to Texas from Colorado over the weekend, I had an epiphany of sorts. I've compared querying to fishing in a tiny boat in Lake Erie with 1,000 fish in the lake and thousands of other fishermen (fisherpersons?), and that felt pretty accurate, but now I've struck on a new, more accurate metaphor.

We're all on American Idol.

When we are at the query stage, we are that hopeful pre-fame starlet who is standing in line with a thousand other hopefuls, waiting for our chance to stand in front of three judges (agents) in the biz and have them tell us we're the most awesome thing they've seen all day. We all think we can sing (write) and we all think we have something fresh and new to offer.

We get our turn, and all eyes are focused on us. We might be a little out of tune, or possibly our dance moves look a bit like a puppet on puppet crack, but when we're done, we stand there, hopeful to have made at least one judge interested. There's plenty of Simons, aren't there? The ones who think we'll never make it. Then there's the others who see potential, but nothing they haven't seen before. Most of us leave the stage in tears or anger.

A precious few get to hear those precious words, "You're going to *insert name of city*!" and in the writing world those words are, "I'd love to see more. Send me X amount of pages."

Then the nail biting really starts. Will my performance be as good as/better/more marketable than the others? We wait in agony while our performance is in review, something we poured our heart and soul into. Only a handful of us, however, move on to the finals. In the writing world that is, "Please send me the full MS."

More agony ensues. We doubt ourselves. We dare to hope. We wait, we check our emails, we look around at our fellow hopefuls and wonder if the judges secretly like them better.

Then more heartbreak. They can't take us all. In the mighty words of Sean Connery, "There can be only one."

What stage in American Idol are you guys? I'm in the agonizing wait mode. I've four partials and one full MS out in the void right now, being judged. I'm hoping none of them are Simons in disguise. I sent my query feeling relatively confident, but now after weeks of waiting, I feel the doubt creeping in. It's no surprise. Like most writers, I'm my own worst critic.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

I Write Like...

So, I have a habit of compulsively doing something that sparks my interest. The last two days (aside from playing Text Twist on MSN until I forget how to spell the simplest words) I have been playing around in this thing. You guys should all try it. It's both heartening and soul crushing. It's called 'I Write Like' and it analyzes your writing style:

The results are in, and it turns out my little badge on the right is greatly misleading. I'm going to have to take it down and replace it with something else, but at the moment I'm undecided.

I entered every chapter of Lesser Evils individually into the analyzer (putting the whole MS into it crashed my internet. Don't do this. Learn from an idiot) and each chapter pulled a different result. I then did the same thing with Postmortal. Out of a combined 44 chapters it reviewed, only one pulled a female writer. So, I'm thinking of changing my badge to this:

Between both books, there are clear differences in my writing style. Lesser Evils favors a couple of authors the most while Postmortal leans greatly towards one different author.

Lesser Evils: 46% Dan Brown, 30% James Joyce, 6% H P Lovecraft, and 3% each Stephen King, Raymond Chandler, Ray Bradbury, Mario Puzo, J K Rowling, and (wtf?) Edgar Allan Poe.

Postmortal: 65% Stephen King, and 7% (a chapter a piece) Douglas Adams, H P Lovecraft, Isaac Asimov, Kurt Vonnegut, and Vladimir Nabokov.

So, in other words:

I won't do a chapter by chapter breakdown of Lesser Evils since it's boring, but I will share the breakdown of Postmortal because I find it very interesting.

Chapter 1: Kurt Vonnegut
Chapter 2: Douglas Adams
Chapter 3: Vladimir Nabokov
Chapter 4: Stephen King
Chapter 5: Stephen King
Chapter 6: Stephen King
Chapter 7: Isaac Asimov
Chapter 8: Stephen King
Chapter 9: H P Lovecraft
Chapter 10: Stephen King
Chapter 11: Stephen King
Chapter 12: Stephen King
Chapter 13: Stephen King
Chapter 14: Stephen King

It suggests that I tried a variety of influences before settling on a Stephen King style. I find this interesting as I've only ever FINISHED one Stephen King book. He's not really my cup of tea. I don't do scary. The one I read all the way through was Eyes of the Dragon. I put down Cujo and The Talisman. Cujo scared the crap out of me, and The Talisman just confused me. Then again, I was 12. Maybe I should try him again...

As for my little shorts I have posted in the side bar ------>
The results are this:

BOOM - Chuck Palahnuik
The End of the World - Margaret Atwood
A Typical Morning - Stephen King
You Are - Stephen King
Bitter Hands - Stephen King
We Are - Arthur Conan Doyle
I Am - Oscar Wilde
Peeping Tom - Chuck Palahniuk
Solo Pillow Talk - Dan Brown
Language is a Playground - Margaret Atwood
Eight True Things - Chuck Palahniuk

I've... uh... never heard of Chuck Palahnuik, but three of my pieces are similar to his style. Two are like Margaret Atwood, so maybe my 'inner penis' is smaller than I thought.

So, now you guys try. I'd love to hear the results.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

*AHEM* Tammy Narayan, Lynn Simpson, Nicole Ducleroir, Roland Yeomans, and Justine Dell, you there?

Okay, so I have an obnoxious streak. You people owe me addresses, stuff to eviscerate beta, and how you want your cold, hard cash redeemed. One of you has already done this, but I'm not singling anyone out. :-) Also, all contestants are welcome to send me a query letter or first chapter to take a looksee at, don't forget.

In other news... I don't have any. I have two partials and one full being reviewed by agents. I'm hoping for good news, of course.

In matters not related to writing, I'm flying to Colorado on Saturday. I'll be gone for the weekend. I haven't flown in years and am a little nervous. Do you remember that song by Alanis Morrisette called, "Ironic" about things that happen too late? I have a new, irrational fear I will find representation on Friday then my plane will fall out of the sky in a horrible, fiery ball of doom on Saturday. Or I'll get an offer via email at the same time my charred remains are being spatula'd up from a cornfield.

I bet you had no idea I was cynical, right? *insert sardonic smile*

So, you may have noticed the little 'Vonnegut' thing to the right. There's a site (in the title) where you paste a chapter of your MS and it analyzes your writing. I was quite chuffed to be compared to Vonnegut... until I systematically inserted individual blog posts and was compared to Dan Brown, J.D. Sallinger, Stephen King, Nabakov, then Stephen King again, then Dan Brown again. So, apparently I've a host of men living in my brain or I've got a previously undiagnosed personality disorder.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Day Job

I have mentioned on occasion a sad truth: I don't like my day job. Most people don't. I knew that going into the workforce. I've had a wide variety of jobs over the two decades I've been earning a paycheck. Motel cleaning, security guard, waitress... all of which weren't that bad, but I longed for a 'real job.' One that was a 'career.'

Sometimes I miss being a security guard. I didn't do much. I patrolled a 19 story building in downtown Denver, but mostly I did a lot of reading. There's no time for that at my current job. It would take pages to explain what I do, and if I said my job position, you would make assumptions about how easy it is thanks to media misreprenstation.

My company constantly tries to retitle my job to make it seem more... something. I don't know what the hell they're doing, actually. Every title does nothing to explain my job. In fact, it makes me think of things totally different than the title suggests.

The last three:

AGENT. That makes me feel like a spy. I feel like I should be combing over secret documents in search of damning evidence which will lead to the coup of a dictator. Or at least give away top secret technological advances which will be the turning point in the Great Vegetable War of 2015 (if we survive Armageddon 2012, that is).

REPRESENTATIVE. Seriously? Me? I can barely represent myself, much less be someone a major corporation wants speaking on their behalf. I'm not sure they thought this one through. I'm not saying they're stupid yes I am, but considering me a representative of... just about anything would be -at best- ill-advised. Unless we're talking about chocolate. That I'd rep on the barter system in a heartbeat.

ADVOCATE. This one is the most strange to me. I feel like I'm supposed to have a hand-made sign and be singing a catchy protest jingle in front of the White House. Or maybe even be a lobbyist in D.C. Or out saving puppies. Or seals. Or sea kittens. (seriously, GOOGLE the last one)

What about you guys? What do you do for a living? Are you like me and dream of making enough money to quit said 'day job' and maybe go back to full-time easy, low paying job with authorly royalties to supplement the difference?

You know what we need? A writing commune. A big farmhouse in the middle of nowhere (that has internet, of course) and we can all have low paying jobs that support ONE mortgage/utilities/food bills. Who's with me? We'd play Scrabble, of course, because we're all wordsmiths, and have our own rooms where no one cares if we showered this week because they can't smell us through closed doors... um... too much? Oh, look! A chicken!

Anyway, I think it'd be grand.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Drum Roll Please and Maybe a Bit of Saxaphone for a Jazzy Touch

This was seriously agonizing, you guys. I've spent all day reading and re-reading (and procrastinating by napping to escape the awful truth of needing to make a decision) your entries. Although they were all so awesome, I did have to narrow it down to five because I'd made RULES. Gah, I hate rules.

Those that I chose were based on my own personal preference, and are in no way reflective of lack of skill in those not chosen. Wow, I totally sound like an agent in a rejection letter with that line. And, for the record, I totally get why they say that. Choosing is HARD. Thank God for the bribes sent my way or I'd never have figured it out. *joke*

So, without further ado, here they are:

1st Place to Tammy Narayan for her short story about a woman, her smelly infant, and their strange disappearance.

2nd Place to Lynn Simpson for her short 'The Kidnapping" about a nutty woman and her fondness for cats and violence.

3rd Place to Nicole Ducleroir for her short "Arms Wide Open" about an abusive jerk and his blind wife.

4th Place to Roland Yeomans for "The Bear With 2 Shadows" which is about Hibbs and the Turquoise Woman and her teaching him about his path.

Honorable Mention to Justine Dell for "The Hunt" which totally reminded me of Indiana Jones, only far more gullible. I really want to know what happens next!

Okay, guys. If you followed the rules, you are followers so I shouldn't NEED to notify you, right? RIGHT? Of course. Now, e-mail me with your names and your preferences for gift card/internet coupon/whathaveyou. Congrats to you all.

Don't forget ALL CONTESTANTS, I offered to critique a query letter or first chapter of your WIPs, so send those along for me to take a looky-loo. Please send them in the body of the email and not as a file. It's a lot easier for me to edit that way and I'll get it done faster.

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's Friday Again. Funny How That Happens Every Seven Days

So, 36 years ago I was born in a hospital in Arlington, Texas. To all you youngins out there, birthdays become a lot less fantastic as you get older. I've said for a while now that I don't even think a birthday is giving credit in the right place. I pretty much had nothing to with being born. Today I even feel the urge to send my parents a thank you card. "Thanks for having sex, guys. 'Preciate ya!"

If nothing else, at least in my case, my birthday has become an anniversary of another kind. For a long while it has been more of a "Yay, I made it this many years and managed to not die in a horrible, fiery crash or succumb to illness!" The latter is especially true after the last year I've had (the former I feel most often when being a passenger in the car while child/friend/relative drives. Seriously bad drivers).

Plus, the older you get, the less your employer cares. I have to go to work today instead of sit around and think thankful thoughts of my dad's potent sperm and my mom's obliging egg. Do you ever consider what if YOUR egg had been ovulated out and some other egg got the brass ring instead? Okay, maybe it's just me.

On a different note, my new MS has had some interest. A couple of agents have asked to read it. I'm too nervous to be excited. They might pass on it, but at least it is catching people's eyes.

I hope everyone has a fun and safe holiday weekend!