Friday, December 31, 2010
If you're looking for New Years resolutions on my last post of the year, you'll be completely disappointed. I find them excercises in failure, and even if I succeed in a completion, it's because I had to force myself into them at the last possible moment and the effort was shoddy. But the goal was accomplished. Ugh. Not this year. I'll make short term goals I can achieve within a week - when the mood strikes me.
However, if you're looking for a new excerpt from my 3 Word Wednesday serial, then you're totally in luck. This weeks prompt words are: buckle, evade, wedge. Oh so perfect for a clean-up effort after a shooting. The final word count for the excerpt was 911 - how funny is that. I should probably title it 911 due to the coincidence, but since no phone call was made to the police (and 911 may not have existed during this scene, I'd need to research) I opted for my original title CLEAN UP.
If you haven't been following and want to catch up, or need a refresher, you can find the prior installments on the Bait, Stamp, Shuffle links. I know, I need to set up a pages tab . .
I'll get you started with the last few lines from where we left off:
“Good question,” Cal said as he looked from Sugar to Brandon. “What the fuck just happened?”
Sugar sighed heavily and wiped his bloodied hands on an equally blood soaked shirt front, reminding Cal that Treader still needed attention. Brandon shrugged, raising his empty hands to his face.
“And where the hell’s my gun?”
* * *
The wail of sirens punctuated Brandon’s stammering protests. “I don’t, don’t know. She swung a chair at me and -”
Brandon stumbled back, nearly tripping over his feet as he hurried back to the toppled tables and chairs in the center of the room.
“What’cha gonna do Cal?” Sugar nodded towards the locked front door as one siren bloobed to a stop, two others gaining in volume. “Treader’s gonna die if we don’t let them in. And Daryl; is he hit?”
“Grazed,” Cal replied, tapping the side of his head as the door shook with a resounding thud. “He’ll be alright.”
“This is the police; open up.”
“Got it,” Brandon gushed breathlessly.
Sugar snatched the .38 from Brandon’s unsteady hands as the boy rushed up to them. He dropped the clip into his pocket, then cleared the receiver chamber before turning it around and handing it out to Cal.
“Lotta good an unloaded weapon does me.”
Banging on the door resumed with an order from a bull horn to open up. The blond body builder coldly stared at Cal. Cal returned the unblinking stare in like manner, completely sure now Sugar was a Fed. DEA, ATF; didn’t matter.
Damn; I really liked this guy.
“Give it back to Brandon,” Cal ordered. “And the clip.”
Sugar blew out his cheeks and looked as if he were about to argue.
“Go on; yours too Sugar. Don’t tell me you don’t have one.”
Cal crossed his arms over his bent knees and rubbed his aching shoulder. He’d about kill someone for some aspirin. He couldn’t think straight. Cal was afraid he might make a hasty move and force the agent to expose himself. No matter how deep his cover, Cal knew there were lines an honorable agent wouldn’t cross. This weapons purchase was the first opportunity Cal and Daryl had attained to push those limits with Sugar.
Nothing about this current situation screamed that Sugar needed to reveal himself. That would do more harm than good to both outfits in the long run. The rest of the undercover team would either evade detection for a while longer, or would pull out also with whatever intelligence they’d gathered. Time would advantage either side.
Cal wasn’t sure about Brandon. The blubbering idiot persona could be a well trained act. Incompetence wasn’t unheard of in the Organization, and was less suspicious than expertise. Nobody asked when you learned to be inept. Brandon could be the brains of the team, Sugar the diversionary muscle.
“Give it up Dude. I don’t care that you broke my rules. We gotta focus on cleaning this up.”
Sugar hesitated a few seconds. Cal could read the conflict in Sugar as he turned his gaze towards Treader.
“Two minutes to save our own asses won’t make a difference whether he lives or dies.”
With a grunt of agreement, Sugar lifted his right leg and pulled a small caliber black beauty from an ankle holster. Cal disarmed his boot.
“All of it. They’ll search us, and I don’t want any trace of weapons on us.”
Sugar planted his foot on the wall and tugged at the velcro.
“Did you use it?”
Sugar shook his head. “No, it all happened to fast. Treader pulled his 9mm, but didn’t get a shot off before he got hit either.”
“You touch his weapon?”
Again Sugar shook his head.
“What’s the plan boss man,” Brandon asked as he juggled the weapons to accept the holster.
Cal held his good arm out to Sugar to help him up. They needed to hurry and let the cops in before things got too far out of hand. The back door was also rattling. He’d locked that himself while Daryl was putting the funds together, so he wasn’t worried there. The front windows showed silhouettes through the drawn shades, but the glass was tinted and bullet proof so the fuzz shouldn’t be able to see what they were hiding inside.
“Sugar, gag the bitch and lock her in the walk-in. Brandon, gather all the weapons - you better not miss a one - and put them in the top container in the walk-in. Look up and to your left as you step in.”
Sugar hefted the still unconscious girl over his shoulder and headed towards the kitchen.
“How many guns should I find?”
“Treader should have one, and there’s a loaded Baretta behind the juke box. Check Treader, he usually carries more than one.”
Cal jumped the bar again and reached for the gym bag of cash wedged between the dishwasher and mini fridge. He grabbed it by the locking buckle and slid it down the bar as Brandon headed towards to kitchen.
“Take that too.”
Brandon rearranged his haul and snagged the bag. “What about Daryl’s shot gun?”
Cal glanced over at it as another warning to open the door boomed out. “Leave it. Its registered to Daryl, and the police know its here. It‘ll give them a weapon to collect at least.”
Daryl groaned . Cal turned back to his cousin as Brandon ran off.
Daryl opened his eyes and moaned again, his hands raising to his temples. “Feel like I got shot.”
Cal grinned and put a hand on Daryl’s shoulder. “Stay down Bro. I’ll handle this.”
Daryl’s eyes fluttered closed again and Cal was sure he’d passed out.
“I’m opening the door,” Sugar yelled as he threw the dead bolts.
“No problem,” Cal mumbled.
* * *
Hope you liked it. Happy New Year everyone.
OH: don't forget to polish up your NaNoWriMo scene for Hannah Kinkaid's (Musings Of A Palindrome) Power of Three blogfest on 1/3, and Summer Ross' New Beginnings blogfest on 1/5.
Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
So where does a fiction writer go to obtain Query letter help for sending out to Literary Agents?
Well, first you plug the question “how to write a query letter to literary agents” into a search engine (my favorite being Google).
Out of 53,600 results, can you guess what the first result on the page was? Nevermind, I’ll tell you. I’ve never been good at guessing games either. The link was titled “How to Write a Query - Agent Query :: Find the Agent Who Will Find . .” ( and had one star) The intro text wasn’t all that surprising: “Query Shark blog, in which literary agent, Janet Reid, gives snarky advice on how to write a query letter to brave newbie participants willing to swim with …”
Of course I laughed, then clicked on the link, expecting to find the Query Shark blog. Instead I found an article at the Agent Query site. After a little introduction, the article continues with:
NOTE: * * * denotes quoted text at the linked site.
* * *
A query letter is a single page cover letter, introducing you and your book. . . has three concise paragraphs: the hook, the mini-synopsis, and your writer’s biography. Don’t stray from this format.
* * *
Ok, you may be wondering what goes into these three paragraphs. Reading on:
* * *
Paragraph One—The Hook: A hook is a concise, one-sentence tagline for your book. It’s meant to hook your reader’s interest, and wind them in.
Paragraph Two—Mini-synopsis: This is where you get to distill your entire 300 page novel into one paragraph.
Paragraph Three—Writer’s bio: This should be the easiest part of your query. After all, it’s about you, the writer.
Your Closing: Congratulations! You’ve finished your query letter. As a formal closing, be sure to do two things. First, thank the agent for her time and consideration. Second, if it’s nonfiction, tell them that you’ve included an outline, table of contents, and sample chapters for their review. If it’s fiction, alert the agent that the full manuscript is available upon request. And in case you still don’t believe us, we want to reiterate: don’t query agents until you’ve finished your full fiction manuscript. Agents will want to read the whole novel before they offer representation to you and your book.
* * *
Sounds easy right? Makes you wonder why they added the DO’S AND DON’Ts section.
The second result on the list was titled “SoYouWanna write a query letter to a literary agent? (all except children's books). When I clicked this link (sponsored by --outskirts press, write.press.market, I think) it has a convenient link titled Childrens Books Wanted at www.AuthorHouse.com/ChildrensBooks. How nice.
Now, this soyouwanna site has the same blurb about what a query letter is, but a slightly different take on the paragraph content.
* * *
1. The Teaser: In the first paragraph, toss out a teaser. Come up with a first sentence that really grabs the agent's attention.
2. Expanding the Idea: Next, write 3 or 4 sentences about what you will write, and if you have a great example of an anecdote that exemplifies your idea, be sure to include it. Rather than lamenting the constraint of having only a paragraph to make your pitch, celebrate the fact that you can show off your best stuff.
3. All About You: The third paragraph should contain more information about yourself. Provide another 3 or 4 sentences describing relevant facts that demonstrate the connection between you and your idea.
4. The Closer: In the final paragraph, mention that you will show your proposal to only one agent at a time - agents don't like having to worry that someone else is going to snatch their prize. Mention why you have decided to send it to them, perhaps alluding to having seen their credentials in the directory of agents. Finally, be sure to tell them how to get in touch with you with a phone number, address, and email information. Remember, this query letter should be an appetite-wetting morsel. Do not exceed 1 page or you can kiss the agents' attention goodbye.
* * *
Third on this search results list is The Nelson Literary Agency which brought up the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Scroll down to the section labeled Q. How do I get an agent? Or just click on the link titled “How do I write an attention getting query letter? It will lead you to a whole list of educational links to articles and samples.
Spacejock.com suggests that you only need answer three questions - in 25 words or less per question - to complete an agent-attention grabbing query:
* * *
Who is the protaganist?
What dilemma does he face?
How does it get resolved?
* * *
There are a few other sites, but one of my fav’s was Querytracker.net. There is a brief synopsis that includes a concise summary of all the previous Query definitions, and a linked list of other sites to visit for assistance.
And no, I didn’t plug in the OTHER obvious search engine question: books on writing a successful query letter. I’m into instant gratification research, and if it isn’t already on my bookshelf somewhere, well, I don’t have an e-reader to download in the exact second I require the info.
What surprised me wasn’t the consistency of info in the search result sites, but that Nathan Bransfords Query Letter post was number nine on list, and The Query Shark didn’t have a direct link in the top ten results.
So freaking weird . . .
Can you tell, can you tell? What I’ve been doing the last couple days instead of writing on the shiny new idea? (Actually, its been sitting there half finished for a while now, but since its unfinished, its STILL a shiny new idea . .) Its called beating a dead horse, this idea of querying the first novel I ever produced.
But, I love it; the characters, the concept, my writing style and the passion I put into the entire trilogy.
I still love it; I obsess over it constantly. In the back of my mind, it still has life; a message to impart. And b/c of this, I can't move on completely, committ to a new project with a whole new genre, setting, characters. I'm not the type writer that can type THE END to one story and immediately begin another WIP. I have affairs with new ideas, but the total committment is lacking.
So again, I’m taking all the advice I’ve gotten from everyone who has read and offered feedback, and the query is now revised for the tenth or 2000 time. And every time I decide to put time into the query, I read every article and posting - online or paper copy - published on the subject. Hours and hours of research, all prior to even thinking of researching THE AGENT my novel is meant to attract.
*big sighs; or glass shattering screams*
You do this too? You know every word of Query Help and still re-read before, during and after every rewrite. Or do you have the lingo down, and are confident in your first attempt?
My NOVEL tells me this:
For an Agent, their advice might be
Either way, I just can't reach that final goodby; because its not just the first book, its the entire three book concept that I'd be laying to rest.
Even though I'm sure I've been here before, and will be here again . .
FROM THE JACKET FLAP:
Herodotus is a fine old chatterbox and reads more like a Boys' Own Adventure than the founding document of history and anthropology. Thucydides is full of geopolitics and is better than any modern thriller.
Both can be mined mercilessly for material. There's a novel on every page. For example you may have heard of a movie called 300. It comes from Herodotus, seriously mangled.
It's surprising how much information about daily life comes from archaeology and not written history. For example, what if your character is putting out the garbage? (In which case the character is certainly a slave.) People at the time never thought to write down where they dumped their rubbish. Archaeologists find the middens so we know most people kept a dump out back. We get house plans, cooking utensils, boat design, weaponry, clothing pins, bronze mirrors, hair combs, assorted pottery, voting tokens, clothing styles, musical instruments, and all sorts of other stuff from archaeology. The Metropolitan, the Louvre, the British Museum and the National Archaeology Museum of Athens are my friends.
There're a host of other contemporary writers with useful things to say. Who you read depends on what you're after, and you just have to know who's who. For anything to do with manly pursuits, Xenophon's your guy. For civic administration, you probably want Aristotle. Besides being hilarious, the comedies of Aristophanes are packed with details of everyday life, especially life's little irritations. For anything to do with the life of Socrates, you definitely want Plato.
Plato's a good example of how to read these sources. He wrote reams of profound thoughts about philosophy. It's all totally useless to me. But he made his philosophy interesting by writing it as dialogues, and in the dialogues, historically real characters make off the cuff comments that are absolute gems to me. When I read Plato, I ignore the signal and read the side-channels.
OMG; not exactly what I’d consider light reading before bed! Ok, I’ll have to take your word for it on those fantastic books; apparently there’s this whole genre I’ve been missing out on. This sounds less like research and more like a life time obsession. I’m curious if you obsessed as much over the hook line that begins your novel: A DEAD MAN FELL FROM THE SKY. I don’t know about anyone else, but IMO (awestruck, not humble) this is one of the best first lines I’ve ever read. It engaged me the moment I saw it; and I didn’t even know what the book was about. So which came first: the line, or the novel concept?
The novel concept came first. In fact, it came 2,300 years ago, from a book called The Athenian Constitution, by Aristotle. Aristotle relates, in a short section of only about 3 paragraphs, a for-real murder mystery that happened in Athens in 461BC. The guy who created the world's first total democracy was assassinated, and they never caught the men behind the plot. The moment I read of that killing, I knew it was my book to write.
I wrote that opening line off the top of my head, without a moment's pause, and it's one of the few lines I never had to change afterwards. The line as it appears in the published book is identical to the line in the very first notes, which are dated from years ago. There's a basic rule of craft that you have to grab the reader at once; I got it right the first time and never fiddled with the result. Once the opening line was written, I stopped to wonder how a dead body could fall from the sky, which I honestly hadn't thought through!
I'm a total seat-of-the-pants writer. Notice how I even wrote the first line without knowing the second. My initial thought was catapult, but the Greeks didn't have them. My next thought was he fell off the Acropolis, but that was far too obvious. Then the Areopagus occurred to me. It's a rock outcrop next to the Acropolis that was used back then as the HQ for senior statesmen. My victim was a statesman. Perfect! That I could pull the Areopagus out of thin air like that was my fairly extensive knowledge of ancient history working for me.
Yes, why mess with perfection. That’s awesome that you were able to build your novel concept around the line. I love the process you went through too; much like a puzzle, just putting all the pieces together. And partially answers my next question . . Are you a plotter or pantster? Character driven or plot driven?
Total pantser, as per previous question. But I dislike the term. Stream of consciousness is unwieldy but much more accurate. If I'm in the zone then I fly; if I'm out of the zone then I'm grounded.
Plot = Character + Situation. The characters will tell me how they'd behave in any given situation, but conversely I'm free to set their opening situation, so we're both in control. The fact that I talk about figments of my imagination as if they had independent existence, tells you something about my mental state when I write.
I honestly can't explain where the characters come from. As soon as I think of a character, I know almost everything important about them. I'll research for extraneous but highly important historical accuracy, but their core being, that I know at once. For example, the Chief of the Scythian Guard of Athens is Pythax, a barbarian slave. I knew right away he was the ancient world's equivalent of a tough, embittered New York police captain. His opening line, the moment he sees our hero Nico, is, "We don't take piss-poor little Mama's boys in this outfit, so if you've run away from home, go find some other place to cry." That line is so typically Pythax. Pythax told me that's what he'd say; I can't explain it any other way.
Character building is something I can totally relate to. I can see how your characters could come fully formed to you based on your extensive knowledge of Greek society. And you seem to have a healthy sense of creativity to turn these historical figures into fascinating fictional characters. Speaking of creativity, can you tell us about your publishing experience?
I wrote a standard query and got pulled from the same slushpile we all inhabit. My experience might be slightly out of the norm in that I then went out of my way to avoid a literary agent who wanted to sign me, and that seems to have become the stuff of legend, but ultimately fate overcame my cluelessness and I ended up signed and published. I queried agents in Australia, the UK and the US. (In passing, I don't know why more authors don't query agents outside their own country.) It was ultimately luck that connected me with Janet Reid, who is simply the perfect literary agent for me.
I'm published in the US through St Martins Minotaur, and in Australia through Penguin. How foreign rights are handled varies a lot from contract to contract. It's impossible to make generalizations. In my case, St Martins bought worldwide rights. A publisher in, say, Germany, who wanted to publish the book would need to buy the rights from St Martins, not from me.
Talent, not luck procured you the elusive Ms. Janet Reid and the excellent publishing houses you signed with. I’m impressed - but not surprised - that your lifetime of study paid off so well. The book tour appears to have been a good idea, and I’ll assume it was Janet’s. Now that you have completed one tour, what - if anything - would you do differently, and what type of advice would you offer others contemplating a national or international appearance?
A single tour is not remotely enough to offer advice to anyone! One thing I'll suggest though is this: get some public speaking training, and practice, practice, practice, until getting up in front of random strangers holds no terrors. I had both training and practice in public speaking from my previous work, and it held me in good stead.
- Email the link to me (EatonLL at hotmail dot com).
Below you'll find my entry to 3WW and ISLF's shared story. I hope I did both justice. 100 words, exactly . .
“Silence,” Leo whisperes harshly. “We’re here to educate on fire safety, not interior decorating.”
“If they knew how to decorate effectively we wouldn’t be here.”
Leo shrugs his blackened shoulders. “Here he comes Dear. Concentrate on your burned up face. He’ll get the message about replacing that outlet.”
* * *
I hope y'all have a safe, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
There were only six of us signed up for this contest/blogfest. This is my entry that won a third place tie.
Benny didn’t set out to rob The Bank Of America. What he set out to do was to retrieve his truck from impound.
Except; he didn’t have the thousand dollar fee that the last five days had racked up.
But he did have a plan.
His grandmother had opened him a savings account at Bank of America, and invested $1,000 towards his future. Since he didn’t graduate high school, it never occurred to him until now the money could be used for anything but college. His mom had told him she had to borrow some money from it over the years, but he was sure she’d put all the money back just as she’d promised. Who knew how much interest had built up in the 22 years since it’d been opened.
When he arrived at the B of A, he was surprised that so many people were in line. It was the middle of the work day after all.
Trying not to look stealthy, Benny strolled to the Plexiglas info stand near the center of the reception area. He pulled out a withdrawal slip - and stared at the requested info. ACCOUNT NAME he could supply, and did, printing in large, block letters. And signature was easy enough. He used bold, sweeping strokes to impress the teller with his suave.
He couldn’t remember the date.
All the shops he walked past had Christmas sales posters in the windows, but it was only a couple weeks ago he crashed a Halloween party. And two nights ago he’d succumbed to hunger and the cold and spent the night in a shelter. They were all talking about the Thanksgiving feed and invited him to come back for it.
His mind reeled. What the hell was the date? He looked pleadingly at the customers between the red ropes; but most were talking on cell phones, writing in day books, or reading. There was one woman in jeans and sweatshirt, fussing with a stroller. Benny approached her, cleared his throat, and asked what day it was.
“Thank you,” he said, returning her toothy grin.
He returned to the stand and wrote the date on the slip. Then stared in mute fascination at the last area to fill out. The account number. He couldn’t make a withdrawal without an account number.
He crumpled the withdrawal slip and stuffed it in the pouch pocket of his Lakers sweat shirt.
He began to imagine how much money should be in that account by now. Way more than the thousand he needed to retrieve his truck. The account was his, and he’d never withdrawn any money from it, so it should all be there for him to access in his hour of dire need. He turned over a deposit slip, tightly gripped the chained pen and in neat block print wrote: “This is a stick up. I have a gun in my pocket. Give me all the money in your till.”
Good, he thought; then he moved over to the customer line. He held the note for a few minutes, then worried someone would be able to see the message, so he stuffed it in his pocket.
Ten minutes later he was only three people closer to the tellers; with six people ahead of him in line. And everyone seemed to be staring at Benny as if they knew his secret.
With exaggerated motions, Benny pushed up his left sleeve, stared at his naked wrist, then loudly declared he was late as he rushed out the doors. By the time he managed to break free from crush of pedestrians, he’d crossed the street, flowed with the walking traffic down the sidewalk, and finally extricated himself in front of the Wells Fargo bank. He took it as a sign his plan could still work.
Benny entered the lobby, and was relieved to see only two people in line, and what looked like five open teller stations. He took his place in line, and before he had a chance to think about what he was doing, he had stepped up to a teller and slid the note across her counter. He stood with what he hoped was an intimidating scowl on his face, hands tucked into his pocket pouch.
“Is this a joke,” she asked, no hint of humor in her voice.
“Oh,” he answered, exchanging the wrinkled withdrawal slip for the deposit slip.
“I’m sorry, but I can’t accept this,” the 30 something red head informed him. “Its written on a Bank Of America deposit slip. You’ll have to go to that bank to make your intended withdrawal.”
“But, there’s a long line,” Benny complained.
“If I may suggest Sir, the nearest Bank of America is only a couple blocks up the street - South, and on the other side.”
Benny blew out a frustrated breath. “Thank you,” he said politely, and made his way towards the door.
He stopped at the Plexiglas podium that held exactly the same account brochures, deposit and withdrawal slips, and looked back to the helpful teller. She shook her head slightly, and wiggled her fingers towards the doors. She was right of course, he did have the note already written out on the B of A slip. He’d just have to wait in line like everyone else.
The walk sign at the intersection seemed to take an unusually long time to change. He wasn’t halfway across when he heard the sirens. Intent on his mission, he didn’t immediately register that the sounds of squealing tires and smell of burned rubber had surrounded his crosswalk. Until he heard his full name called from a bull horn.
“Drop your weapon, and put your hands on your head.”
He stopped and looked around. Several people were lying prone on the pavement, or curled in a fetal position with hands over their heads. The streets were empty except for squad cars with flashing blue and red lights.
What weapon, he wondered, delving deep in the pocket for the incriminating robbery note.
* * * *
The truth portion of this came from a news article my Program Manager read at one of our staff meetings. An unnamed man goes into Bank of America, writes a robbery note on a deposit slip, gets nervous, goes to Wells Fargo, the teller refuses to pay up because of the other banks info, and he did get arrested before getting back to BofA . The rest was pure fiction.
Hope you enjoyed this.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Wow, this is only the second day of my staycation, and I've already got caught up on so many committments! Amazing what I discovered hidden in old e-mails once I started taking a serious look at what was there "waiting". And, I cleaned house and did Christmas shopping too! *I'm so good*
There is only one project waiting that has been there for so long I'm not sure I can accomplish it anymore. OH THE GUILT . .
A couple of the most interesting items: I tied for third place in Lindsay Brooks (Dangerous with a Pen) and Vic Caswell (aspiring-x of Hairnets and Hornets) TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION story contest. You can find my submission, titled ESCALATION, here. Be sure to check out the other winners posted at both Lindsay and Vic's blogs. Third and second place winners have already been posted (two tied-winners for each) and the first place winners will be announced tomorrow. (I can't wait to see what's in my box of goodies.)
The other notable e-mail is the reminder to post my entry to Loren Eaton's Shared Story Event on 12/24. Here, I'll let Loren tell you about it:
It's that time of the year again, time when the mercury falls in the thermometer, thoughts turn towards tinsel and bows -- and I Saw Lightning Fall hosts its annual round of shared Christmas ghost stories. Are willing to pause in the middle of all the holiday cheer and consider the unexpected shadow that's fallen across the path? Participation is easy:
Write a spooky piece of flash fiction exactly 100-words long. Note that it doesn't have to be a ghost story, but it should possess a certain eeriness, that feeling that makes you want to pull the blanket a bit tighter around yourself and maybe leave a light on in the hall, just in case.
Post your story to your blog on Christmas Eve and email the link to me at EatonLL at hotmail dot com.
Check out Loren's Shared Story post to sign up and get an example of what he's looking for. I'm sure writing that 100 words is going to be more challenging than writing 1000. I always over-write, then have to cut out so much . .
Besides the contest and blogfest entries, I've also gotten the author interview with Gary Corby ready to post this weekend. I hope you come by; Gary's such a fascinating writer.
I won't be entering any more blogfests for the rest of the year. I have two more author interviews with a book reviews to complete and post, but the last nine days of my vacation I plan on completing the Fairy Tale Cyborg short story, and hopefully get at least a first draft for Open Heart's Vol II AN HONEST LIE and Pill Hill Press anthologies (see links in the sidebar).
See how hanging out with all you plotters is corrupting me? I'm actually pre-writing posts and scheduling them in advance (sorta) so I can spend more time writing. I'm not sure when I changed from "novelist" to short story writer, but I guess as long as its writing of some sort I should just go with it?
Has anyone else found themselves changing their writing style suddenly? Or can work both novels and shorts at the same time?
Anyway, off I go see what I can write today . . .
OH, this is just my current music obsession.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
Finally, the long awaited Twisted Christmas Fairy Tale blogfest has arrived, hosted by Francine Howarth (Romancing the Blog). I'm posting a bit late today, and I need to run off to my day job for some much needed overtime; but rest assured I will visit all the participants between today and tomorrow.
I hope you enjoy my twisted version - although I'm not sure it qualifies as fairy tale . . .
* * *
Cupid wriggled restlessly as his mother twirled a lock of his golden hair around her finger. Normally he didn’t mind her fussing, but he was bored with Venus’ complaints about the mortal Psyche.
In the glow of his mothers powers, Cupid could barely maintain his toddler personae. He’d been playing with three voluptuous nymphs when he received Venus’ summons, and he wasn’t happy about the distraction at all.
He couldn’t maintain the image of a man long enough to satisfy the nymphs, but they had enjoyed his preferred youthful appearance. He wanted to run and sing -
“ - singing an accolade to me.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
Venus pulled his hair hard enough to tilt his head back to look at her upside down.
“Because they are not thinking of me while she sings; they worship HER.” She pushed her son off her lap and turned to the full length mirror beside her vanity.
Cupid conjured his wings and float up to plant a cherubs kiss on her cheek.
“Such a small favor I ask,” she whispered.
“Ok,” he giggled, his shape so small now he felt in danger of losing himself.
Venus captured him, held him up to her face as she sank into her red velvet chair. “The vilest thing on earth, be it human or monster or something in between. Go my son. Make haste to end this travesty against me.”
She tossed him into the air, as the priest’s of the temples once tossed the doves to show their devotion to Venus.
Before Psyche’s beauty captured their devotion.
Cupid winged his way through the ethos. The further from his mother’s influence he traveled, the angrier he became at the loss of her attention.
The clouds parted, the sea rose to meet him, and the desire to run changed him into his youthful aspect. Wearing only his quiver of arrows across his back, clutching his magical bow in his right hand, his ethereal feet sank through the sea.
Drawing invisibility about himself like a cloak, he thought again of the wood nymphs as he traipsed the forest, infusing the nocturnal wildlife with off season passion. As the woodlands gave way to valley, and then to plains, a shining city rose around him. In a leap of willpower, Cupid manifest inside the sleeping chamber of the woman the mortals proclaimed the most beautiful in all the known world.
In his rush to end this task and be on his way, Cupid ignored the shimmer of red and black in the corner of Psyche’s room.
He tested the string on his bow, opened himself to Psyche’s intimate fears and desires, and drew a golden arrow. He infused the arrow with the vilest possibility from her mind, fitted the arrow into its nook, and stepped close to the bed.
A sudden jingle of bells startled him, and he dropped the arrow to the floor.
Cupid gazed around; aware of an immortal presence, but unable to detect more than a glimmer of fairy dust. He bent down, grasped the arrow in trembling fingers, and pricked his knee with the tip as he stood. His gasp of surprise awoke the sleeping princess, and their eyes locked.
Ho, ho, ho, echoed between Cupids ears, more felt than heard, and he instantly withdrew himself from the Earthly realm.
The white that surrounded him wasn’t the fluffy warmth of the cherubs domain as he expected. It was cold and hard and stirred an alien yet familiar memory within Cupid. The atmosphere was magical; not human or of the Gods. Cupid willed himself to the focal point of the mysterious magic, and as his being solidified, he recognized his surroundings.
“Santa,” he cried childishly, intent on climbing into the famous lap to give his list of Christmas wishes.
“Not for you, you naughty lad.”
Cupid stopped mid stride, his heart shattering. “Not for me?”
“Do you remember that little trick you played on me several hundred years ago?”
“I gave you your ultimate hearts desire,” Cupid replied, his being so confused he couldn’t maintain a consistent form. “My Christmas gift to you.”
“Foolish child,” Santa chided, his rosy cheeks deepening to the burnished shade of the fire. “It was but a fleeting fancy, for a tryst with an Elven maid who caught my fancy. Your mischief trapped me in this persona, and I have not found the counter to release me to my full powers.”
“You don’t love the toys Father Time?” Drawing on the hopes and dreams of the endless lists in front of his current nemesis, Cupid was able to settle on a human four year old’s form and voice.
“No, Little One.” Santa sighed and removed his round, wire spectacles. “Or, yes. My poor wife suffers for my love of the toys, which was never more than a hobby to help me think over the larger issues of my Office before you happened on my hidden workshop.”
“She loves you without my help.”
“Yes she does,” Santa replied, motioning for the child Cupid to come forward. Once the toddler God was settled, Santa continued. “But I’ve spent so much time making the toys, and delivering them, I’ve had no time for the proper duties of a husband. And this obsession with Christmas has diverted my attention from the larger issues of the universe, and the geologic clock has ticked.”
“I only meant to give you a gift.” Cupid looked up, so full of chagrin he aged a couple years.
“As I have given you a gift.” Santa’s smile wasn’t a merry, friendly look. “I see people’s strongest desires and worst fears also. You and Psyche both want the same thing; to be loved for yourself, not your beauty. Now you have your wish.”
Cupid nodded, and vanished from the workshop. He settled himself under a Willow tree in the Elvish glade and instantly began thinking of his mortal love.
“Oh, Mother is going to be very angry with me.”
* * *
Thanks for reading . . . and don't forget to check out the link and visit the other postings today. Should be a lot of fun.
Friday, December 17,2010
A couple weeks ago L'Aussie Denise giften me with her awesome Fair Dinkum Award that she created. She left it up to the recipients to decide what "fair dinkum" meant. I had no real clue, but coming from Denise, I was sure it was someone kind and thoughtful. Made me smile BIG BIG. I didn't get a chance to post this when most of the other recipients were bragging.
L'Aussie was kind enough to post the varied definitions from her comments section, and to also come up with with "the most popular definition of 'fair dinkum' is - a person who is kind, caring, thoughtful, genuine, straight, TRUE BLUE. Aussies love the term 'True Blue' as it means 'fair dinkum.' Don't get me started again!"
I'm honored to be thought of so highly.
I don't have a long list of people to pass this on to - a lot of my bloggy buddies have already received it - but three seems to be the acceptable number. These are easy choices for me:
Anne R Allen
Andrew Rosenberg (The Write Runner)
Eric Trant (Digging With The Worms)
Simon Larter (Constant Revision)
Anne Gallagher (Piedmont Writer)
Well, as you can see, I can't count. I've got a whole list more than these five. But for the spirit of this award, these are people that awe and inspire me with their "straight from the hip" post content, but manage to get thir point across with consideration and genuine caring for their readers.
Thanks folks, for being a part of my writing experience.
Nowhere do you need to be more real, yet understanding than in reading and offering feedback to a fellow writer's passionate work. Whether you're beta reading, critiquing, or just leaving comments, the most important thing to remember is that the writer you're interacting with is a feeling, thinking person and not just some words on a blog.
So I want to say THANK YOU to all who have shown up and left comments on my writings here. I'm always appreciative of feedback; especially on THE most important work I'll ever post. My query for Not Her Mother's Fate.
What a turn-out Jodi Henry's Query Letter blogfest garnered. Mine is here BTW. I got so many helpful comments and suggestions, and I'm sure the final re-write will lead me to an awesome Agent. All thanks to the blogverse.
Don't forget to stop by Jodi's blog on Wednesday, 12/22 to see who the Query Contest winners are. There's some awesome prizes. One is a query critique ,or if you prefer, a critique of the first 500 words of your WiP, from Certified Copy Editor Lynette Labelle. Not long ago I won a contest to have my query posted on her blog for a critique, and an invite to resubmit the revision for a second crit. I am pleased with the feedback I received from Ms. Labelle. Between her efforts, and the comments from the blogfest, I feel pretty confident in my query (the revised one I haven't quite written yet.)
December seems to be the month for free-writes. So I haven't visited too many bloggers this month.
I've been busy, busy, busy the last couple weeks. Lots of blogfests to enter that required more than a quick write (for me anyway), and contest entries to prepare, my Writers Group prompts to write for; and some e-zine reading (you know, just to see what writing style and voice they usually publish; no, no, not to just veg out with a good read. .)
The TRUT IS STRANGER THAN FICTION blogfest/contest was fun to do. I forgot it was also an e-mail contest, and almost didn't get my entry in - after thinking about the gist of the story for about three weeks. It is too late for the contest part, but you could still write an excerpt and post it on your blog on 12/22, when the contest winners will be announced. Check out Vic Caswell (aspiring X) and Lindsay Brooks (Dangerous with a Pen) blogs for details.
And of course I'm entering Francine Howarth's Twisted Christmas Fairy Tale blogfest on 12/18. Boy, have I got a surprise for Cupid . . Its not too late to sign up.
My last writing project of the year will be Loren Eaton's (I Saw Lightening Fall) Shared Story blogfest on 12/24. This one involves Ghosts, and Christmas, and what goes better together than those concepts? The catch is it has to be exactly 100 words, no more no less. Scattercat better be in on this one or I'll shake my finger at him Vigorously!!
Well, not the VERY last writing project; be looking for an interview with PERICLES author Gary Corby, and BREAKTHROUGH's author Stephen Temp.
Have a good weekend everyone. If I don't see you on the blogfests, contests, or just hanging out in bloggerland over the next two weeks, the have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Freelance editor Lynette Labelle has posted her critique of this version of my query. Please stop by and let me know what you think.
The query below is a revision after receiving feedback from Lynette on the original. Constructive critiques/feedback are invited for this blogfest. Reminder (for all the queries you read, not just mine here):
- Be kind in your criticism, as we are all here to help each other.
- Look for: Antagonist, Protagonist, Conflict, Setting and Voice.
- Does the query hook you? Make you want to read more? If not, why?
- Anything else you like, dislike, etc...just be honest but respectful.
* * *
Dear Ethan Ellenberg;
Not Her Mother’s Fate is a 90,000 word women’s fiction that explores the cycles of alcoholism and domestic violence.
When Amy Thompson meets Robert Crane, she has spent the last two years recovering from another abusive, alcoholic relationship. Her partying roommates tease her about her lack of dating, but while she is occasionally lonely, Amy is content with her independent lifestyle.
From the first moment she met him, Robert charmed and impressed Amy with his mix of worldly connections and spiritual innocence. His best friend Calvin Mertz appears to be a high member of a criminal organization; and while Robert can down more alcohol than most on a Friday night, he is always in church with his family on Saturdays.
Once Amy and Robert move in together, Robert’s habits and personality slowly start to change. His church and family believe marriage and children will cure his alcoholism and unpredictable nature. A survivor of childhood physical and sexual abuse, Amy isn’t convinced. While she is in love with Roberts generous, loving, sober side; his alcoholic rages vividly remind Amy of her mothers deadly fate at the whim of her abusive husband.
Amy withholds her consent to marry Robert until he can maintain sobriety for one year. But no matter how much Robert prays, or how often Cal rescue’s the couple from financial ruin, Robert’s insecurities drive him repeatedly back to the bottle.
As Robert’s alcoholism and brutality escalates, Amy realizes that she has two choices: abandon Robert completely; or make the ultimate commitment and hope that marriage and family are truly the cure for his alcoholism. Before Amy can make a decision, a new option opens in the form of a long, passionate kiss from Cal.
My short story Two Minutes In Tomorrow has been accepted for publication in the e-zine Bewildering Stories. I have a BS in social work, an AA in Alcohol and Drug Studies, and experience as a sexual assault counselor.
Thank you for your time and consideration of my novel Not Her Mothers Fate.
donnahole at gmail dot com
donnahole dot blogspot dot com
* * *
And thank you blogfest readers and others, for you helpful feedback and encouragement.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Funny how things strike you sometimes . . .
Last night I clicked on Short Story America's story of the week to read HE KNOWS WHEN YOU’RE SLEEPING, by Paul Elwork. Its about a boy named Alex who tells his first grade class he doesn’t believe in Santa. The teacher - and the entire class - is shocked, and after the teacher asks him, "Does your family celebrate Christmas," Alex is taken to the teacher’s office for a “talk”.
The gist of the talk with the principal is that not everyone believes the same things. Alex is admonished to pretend he believes in Santa - in the same way he pretends to believe in the existence of Spiderman when he plays with his action figures - and to tell his teacher that "everything is ok" when she asks how the talk went. "Thats what she wants to hear."
Just after reading this story, I sat with The Bug to veg out and let my mind ruminate on the implications of the short story. The Bug was watching HORTON HEARS A WHO (no embedded), a movie adaptation from the Dr Seuss book. "Horton the Elephant struggles to protect a microscopic community from his neighbors who refuse to believe it exists." Horton has two philosophies in life: "A person's a person, no matter how small," and "I meant what I said, and I said what I meant".
Horton's personal resolve to move the speck to a stable, secure location atop Mt Nool, where Who-ville will be safe from the devastation caused by the speck's constant moving, is challenged by the Kangaroo; who is so rigid in her world view that anything that confronts her perspective is rejected outright. However it came about, Kangaroo is the voice of authority in the jungle of Nool, and the citizens are bullied into believing in, and speaking about, only things that please Kangaroo.
Meanwhile back in Who-ville, the Mayor is having the same problem convincing his fellow citizens of the impending danger their world faces. His strongest opponent is The Chairman, who bases his defiance on the fact that nothing bad has happened in 100 years, and so it will never happen.
There is a common theme in both the short story and the movie. In HORTON HEARS A WHO it is summed up with: "The Kangaroo tries to get Horton to give up the speck, so as not to put supposedly ridiculous ideas into the heads of the children. " In Paul Elwork's short story the sentiment is expressed by Mrs. Cloud (Alex's teacher) as: "It's one thing for people to have their beliefs Mike (the principal). But to impose them on others . . to ruin things for others . ."
What got me thinking so deeply was the coincidence of these two stories being viewed by me back to back. and the comment left by Anthony Otten regarding HE KNOWS WHEN YOU ARE SLEEPING. Mr Otten felt that Santa was some alegory or symbolism for God, and wrote: "I hate that somebody could view God or Jesus as just mythic holiday figures. Unfortunately I can only tell them, not show them, what they're missing out on: glimpsing Someone awesome and deeply involved in your life, who loves you so much that it moves you to change yourself . ."
I didn't get a religious or commercial feel from my reading of this story. Likewise, I didn't get a moralistic opinion from Dr. Seuss.
From my interpretation, both were very moving, thought provoking stories about belief systems. When I read Paul's story, I wasn't thinking about whether Santa was real, or if this was a challenge to my religious faith. For me, the central concept was all about what we teach our children, and how we - as adults - perpetuate those beliefs generation after generation.
Kangaroo didn't want Horton teaching the children to ask questions that she had no answers to, and Mrs. Cloud didn't want Alex to pose alternatives in a manner that caused her students to question her carfully structured curriculum.
Principal Weaver puts it concisely when he asks Alex: "Then why all the stories. Aren't these kids just going to become more grown ups who know there is no Santa?" And Alex's thoughtful response is: "Maybe grown-ups tell stories about Santa because they can't believe in him anymore. But they would like to."
I suppose you could relate that sentiment to the existence of God and Jesus also. But you could ask the same questions about a lot of unexplained phenomenon. Psychic powers; the existence of ghosts; the possibility of reincarnation; are we alone in the universe; when is a fetus a live human.
Which came first; the chicken or the egg.
Horton and The Mayor were each able to prove the existence of the other. But neither Mrs. Cloud nor Mr Weaver were able to solve the question of Santa's existence.
This post delved a lot deeper for me emotionally and intellectually than I expected. I started writing it just to clarify some of my own thoughts on the message of these two stories. *shrugs* Maybe I have no point to make here. But like Alex, I do have a lot of unanswerable questions; and like Horton, I sometimes believe in things no one else can conceive of.
As a writer, as a reader, as a member of the human race, I bet you sometimes feel like this too.
There have been many posts over the last couple months that ask writers what their platform is, and as a reader what you want to get out of a novel (pure entertainment or to be informed/educated).
As a writer: I like to pose the questions that people are afraid to ask.
As a reader: I like to have alternatives presented that challenge me to come up with my own solutions.
As a human being: I guess I just like to explore possibilities, in whatever medium format is presented and that catches my fleeting interest. Sometimes I garner answers, sometimes more questions; but I am always thrilled at the opportunities that both reading and writing allow me to indulge in.
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A short one today; and no theme. Its kinda random. I haven't been around much lately.
First shout out of course goes to all NaNoites, whether or not you completed a novel and got your button. But if you did - AWESOME. Display it proudly.
Tara (Feel of Something New) posted some quick and easy meals for the busy NaNo writer last month - early, I think - but it got lost in all my sshtuff. I think it will work as well for the busy self editor/reviser also. Not like December is any less hectic than November was.
Anne R Allen has been running a series on creating/maintaining/expanding your blog. Very insightful and helpful tips. You might be thinking that if a person has made it to viewing a blog then they should be able to create one. I remember well how Anne held my hand and led me through the process. I laugh at myself now sometimes (not to hard though, everything seems easier once you learn it), but after reading her generous encouragements and some of the comments on her How to post, I smiled with with all my wine stained teeth showing.
Welcome to bloggerland Nina Badzin. Of course I'm a fan for life after reading your Cheating On Twitter post.
WRITE TO DONE also had a great post on writing like an a-list blogger.
Other new people I met through 3WW mostly, but some from reading comments on frequent blog sites I visit.
LeiffyV an imensely evocative poet, offers "up my musings and other tidbits to the universe in hope that whatever believes in me gets the message that I am listening. "
Jae Rose, a big hearted poet who is also fond of Sunday Scribblings. Her poems are vivid and moving and she captured my heart within the first few lines. Everything I've read from her is absolutely beautiful, but What a difference a day makes had me in tears.
Lolita Chaudary (meandmysilence), from India, I think. I’m not sure if she is writing creative non-fiction, or auto biography, or something else. She is intriguing though. Her characters are engaging, excellent dialogue, and boy does she know how to put a read smack dab into a setting.
Dee Martin, a versatile writer with many tales to tell; all lurking in the pages of her Third Place.
And DO NOT miss Christian Rios, who loves "technology, gadgets, and video games." Hands down the King of Geekdom.
Speaking of geekdom, Karen G's post Have you been hacked lately is another must read if you have a ANY sort of web presence.
Do you write cowboy fiction? Perhaps you'll want to check out Hartline Literary Agency's , Author/Agent Terry Burns. Saddle up ya'll, this Dude
rides ropes rocks.
Blogger is slowing way down on me and I'm afraid I'm losing my internet connection again; so the rest of this is just a mish mash. Apologies in advance . .
With NaNo going on, you'd think the number of writing posts would have fritted away to nothing over the last month.
If you missed any part of Stephen Temp's Breakthrough blog tour, go here for the list of sites and writing topics he guest posted on. A national (and international) journey well worth the clicking time to view. If that doesn't sound interesting enough, at least stop by to peruse some of his Villian series posts.
What else: Stina Linderblatt on showing emotion; Elaine Smith on communications and the five foundations of writing (boy wasn't that an eye opener); Roni Loren on Author Intrusion (a pet peeve of mine if ever there was one); Dawn Embers discusses writing chapters vs scenes (I'll take scenes for the win Alex); Lynette Labelle discloses the 3 Cs of writing errors (coincidence, convenience, and contrivance); Erica Wooridge schools us in grammar lessons on the usage of their/there/they're; and Mara Nash and Stephen Temp (guest blogging at Kelly Polark's) on writers block.
And of course, there's always our favorite prolific blogger Roland Yoemans if you're still chomping for more writerly advice.
I've been saving Clarissa Draper's post regarding why give critiques and Jodi Henry's knowing yourself for a special crit post of my own, but I just haven't gotten around to writing it.
Since we're into December, and almost everyone I know is sporting a countdown to Christmas (in here and my day job) my last two links are for the most fun you'll have this side of Christmas: Author/Freelance Editor Kaye Dacus with Subplots: Decorating a Christmas Tree; and DL Hammonds, who aught to be hanged by his string of lights and tinsel for all his enthusiasm in The Unlit Christmas Tree.
Ok, I hope I got everything on my list, cuz I'm not checking it twice. My computer tower is sounding like a jet engine and I don't know its going to blow up, or simply take flight for a cooler desktop. My kids are like: Jeesh Mom, close a friggin window or seven why don't you!
Thanks for stopping by y'all.
Friday, December 3, 2010
My sidebar is bare. I feel naked without blogfests, contests, and publishing opportunities for you to browse and possibly submit to. My internet connection has been unreliable the last couple weeks, so although I've commented on some blogs, and posted on my own for blogfests, I haven't had time to track down any links.
Believe me, I'm going through serious withdrawls. I've come to expect a certain look from my blog . . .
Unfortunately, I over committed myself to a lot of writing projects. My day job slowed to its unheard of 40 hour work-week; overtime totally unnecessary (a real bummer since I depend on that extra income to keep me from finding a second job). That slow time lasted only a couple weeks, but I caught up on some things, and thought I had time for a lot of others.
I've e-mailed a postponement to a few people, and I hope for patience.
For everything else: if its not my current beta read (that crit has taken a backseat far too long), ftf writers group, or my day job, I'm afraid I'm flaking out this weekend. Possibly through the next week, depending on how quickly I read and handle the real life crises at work.
I'll miss you all terribly this weekend. See you next week, once I catch up.
But since you're here; why not sit back and take a few minutes of a break from your own busy schedule.
“I not Mimi. I ‘Randa now.” Randa crossed her arms and looked at her toes.
In the house were new toys for Randa and Sandy to play with. Uncle Clay had crayons and color books for Randa.
“No, no,” Grandma said. “Sandy will eat the colors. Lets wait until she is asleep.”