Tuesday, August 31, 2010

TALES FROM THE LEDGE~My Contest Results

Okay, it's Tuesday and I thought I would have a really great post today. Well, I know all my posts are awesome. Nudge-nudge, wink-wink. But I thought I'd be posting about how I'm not on a ledge and in a really great place.

Breathe, I'm not jumping ship again. The bitch is back people. And she's friggin' frustrated, to say the least.

I decided to rejoin one of my crit groups today. It's a really active place and I need my writing homies around me. (Yeah, I said homies. Problem with that?)

No sooner do I click to rejoin- excited about getting back in the LOOP-do I see another email waiting for me. *Charli claps* It was from a contest I entered for FEEDBACK alone. I really did not expect to place. I had about two hours before the deadline when I found it so I was sure there were probably mistakes in my submission. I really needed to know about how my story opened, was it the right genre, and things like that.

Well, I open the email and I didn't final. No surprise there. I'm more excited to read the judges comments.

Lovely Judge #177, gave me one of the biggest ego boosts I have ever received as an aspiring writer.

And I quote:

1. What did you especially like/dislike about the characters? Why?

This story is ready to go. I’d buy it in a New York minute. She is very good, very good.

2. What areas do you feel were handled the best? (Tell why if appropriate).
The whole thing

3. What if anything seemed clichéd to you? (plot, characterization, dialogue, etc.)
nothing

4. What areas do you feel need work? (Tell why, offer suggestions)
notes on ms

5. Anything else?
Send it to the publisher.

"Wow," I scream in my head. "You like me, you really like me!"

This judge gave me a 99 out of 100. The lady bathes in AWESOME. Everyday. Lather, rinse, and repeat. Her bio states she is pubbed in fiction, non-fiction, short stories, full length, and a contest finalist. Not too shabby.

As a former teacher, I know that the 99 is a bit much. I already decided to revamp my opening but it was nice to hear she loved the old one. (I get nostalgic for my writing and for about 10 seconds I thought about going back, but I know my MS is stronger now.)

But she connected with my characters, my world. I love that!

I pause before opening the next 2 because this much I already know: the scores must be awful if I didn't place, getting a high 99 already. I take a deep breath and open.

Lovely Judge # 249 gave me a 70. She did not write anything on the form at the end. She is a contest finalist and an unpubbed author.

She found some great typos but mostly commented on my character motivations and sentence structure. She wasn't buying some of the things my hero did, she really didn't like him. 

Some things gave me pause but others I knew why she felt that way. The intro to my story was choppy and threw too much at once in the wrong way. I get that and have since revamped.

There were comments about my use of run-on sentences. This really confused me. "He raised one hand to her face, if his skin met hers all would be lost." She says this is a run on sentence. Ok, it technically is, but I was taught (and maybe taught wrong) that putting them together provides more impact, one extended thought. In my head his hand is up, he know if he touches her he won't be able to leave. One extended thought for a more emotional impact. To me, that's not a run-on sentence in a bad way. She notes more throughout, a lot more. She notes its my style but she finds it "annoying".

I agreed with the opening bit, she made me think about if my character's motivations are clear enough, but the run-on stuff has me confused.

 Lovely Judge # 247. She gave me a whopping 57. She is pubbed in full length and short story.

Comments on mechanics:

The lack of punctuation, the use of run-on sentences, of adjectives where adverbs are called for, missing words and the incorrect use of many words made this manuscript difficult to read. The nucleus of a good story is here, but the pacing is very uneven and the characters too one-dimensional. The author “tells” too much about the characters, rather than showing us who and what they are through their actions, feelings, emotions. (I nearly puked right here. She also noted run-on sentences, telling, GAWD. Some were typos from sending it in under a quick deadline but the rest? I am cringing that I am some literary hack. Hooked on phonics didn't work for me apparently...)

Comments on story:

The opening of this story could be really, really good, but unfortunately the author writes a very uneven prose that makes the reader have to work to plunge into it. The conflict is evident but is not presented strongly enough to reel the reader in. The narration suffers from a lack of emotional impact and the dialogue is stilted. The poor punctuation and use of the English language diminishes even more what could be a really good story. (Totally get the beginning bit, I entered for it to be confirmed it didn't work. But lack of emotional impact, stilted dialogue, at this point how did I even get a 57? Oh, I did the math. The lowest score I could get was a 20. This judge gave me a 2 in most categories, the lowest score possible.)

Comments on characterization:

Despite the poor mechanics I really fell in love with the characters. Their flaws are an integral part of them and make you like them even more. While their actions are realistically motivated their emotions never reach out to the reader. The author needs to invest the characters with actions and habits the indicate their emotions. While the goals are identified and logical, the uneven pacing of the story makes it hard to keep them in focus.

Comments on general:

I really love the basic plot of this story. It has the capacity to reach out and tug the reader’s heartstrings, with all of its angst. The problem is, the reader doesn’t feel it, and that makes me sad. Despite everything I fell in love with Grace and Miguel, so there is definitely the kernel of a good story in there. I hope the author won’t give up on this, but will take advantage of the many online workshops that help us polish our craft, and applies them to this manuscript.

1. What did you especially like/dislike about the characters? Why?

 I loved their vulnerability. That gets me every time.

2. What areas do you feel were handled the best? (Tell why if appropriate).

3. What if anything seemed clichéd to you? (plot, characterization, dialogue, etc.)
I’d say some of the characterizations were a little too clichéd—the Irish brothers, the Main Line family, etc. They are good characters in the story but they need to be more individual, less stereotypical.

4. What areas do you feel need work? (Tell why, offer suggestions)
I really hope the author takes advantage of workshops the deal with the development of characters, pacing, and especially basic English grammar and punctuation. She is so close to having a really good story to present.

5. Anything else?
Please keep at it.

This one absolutely has me on the LEDGE FOR REAL. I was a Lit teacher for Christ sakes. Grammar is not my strong point but damn I thought I had the basics down, LOL. I had a lot of peeps comb through these chaps, one a grammar GURU, and they never said these things.

I need a better grasp of the ENGLISH Language?

Ok, so after this I need to sign up for a grammar refresher, no prob. Every writer should prolly at some point. But am I really this bad?

I know taste is subjective. Not everyone will connect with my voice (Jaws just told me that). Character motivation problems, I get because I know the issues with how my story opened. No problem there, I already changed it. But the run-on sentences, grammar, and the telling bit throw me. I worked really hard on show vs. tell. I thought I had the right balance. Now I am not sure about  the quality of my MS. Do I need to pay an editor? What's next?

What are your thoughts? What are your contest experiences?

Monday, August 30, 2010

CONTEST WITH A TWIST

ANNOUNCEMENT!!!

Hey peeps, I got a contest that is pretty dang cool.

The Agency Gatekeeper wants YOU to WRITE a REJECTION letter for a SNARKY AGENT MAN. And if you win, you will get YOUR query or the first page of your MS critiqued.

Cool beans, huh?

If you don't know who The Might AG is, aka-GK,  I will have to cyber slap some sense into you, pimp style. Any real aspiring author has her blog bookmarked.

This contest is so much fun I am entering and making a drink to go along with it. AG inspired.

Gin and Cranberry with a twist of fresh lime. I don't give measurements. That's your call. Some may like more gin, some more cranberry. Tis your liver. I am heavy on the gin. Go figure.

http://agencygatekeeper.blogspot.com/2009/08/new-contest-win-query-or-one-page.html

THE DAY OZ DIED…


One of my favorite authors is so big and in such high demand that he doesn’t even write his own books anymore. There is a whole team ghostwriters that help him do that.

Another author I have grown to admire bangs out a best seller every 45 days. Works eight hours a day, even on vacation.

That’s right, no need to re-read. Links to the articles where they say as much are pasted below. But let me ramble on…

One is disciplined, hard working, and dedicated to writing for her audience. She is the queen of Romance.

The other is an advertising and marketing powerhouse. Has a whole wing of his publisher at his personal disposal. Genius, pure genius.

I love their work. Entertaining, page turning, good reads. Guilty pleasures- dare I say.

But, do their characters stay with me? Do they love writing their stories as much as I do my own? How can they, 45 days and ghostwriters?

Do you have to sell-out to sell a book? I mean, after reading a James Patterson I am in awe of the sheer brilliance and excitement. After a Roberts, satisfied for the HEA.

Recently, I have noticed a pattern. Their books read like a carbon copy of their previous works. The formula? The expectation? The characters all seem the same. The scenery and names just change.

Patterson's ghost writers are trying to emulate his style. I read some from a writer's POV. I noticed the voice differences from the earlier Alex Cross books, which I absolutely love and adore. In some of these co-written stories Patterson's voice is muddled, and it would be with two authors. But muddled in a bad way.

The three Nora Roberts I read back to back were really all the exact same book. The same exact plot really, a murder/bad guy, group of friends/siblings, main love interest and other secondary love plots, bad guy caught, HEA. Like, Barbie, same gal, different outfits and careers.

At some point if I am successful enough will I do the same? Will I have to? Will I churn out the same stories?

I want a writing career, not just publish a book. I love the craft, my characters, and the world I have created.

With a team of ghostwriters and the four-five day clock ticking, it all seems so impersonal. Much like the boring work I do day to day to pay the bills.

What will become of me if I am lucky enough to be in their position?

Now when I posted these articles to a crit group a while back, a few fellow aspiring authors came to the defense of their idols, the ones I question above. I get that, really I do. But it doesn’t get rid of the utter disappointment of it all.

Maybe Patterson is right; it all comes down to entertainment. Quick reads are quick reads. But maybe they are for that alone, for me to quickly read and put aside.

I want to write is what sticks, what stays with a person. I remember the characters I fell in love with and still love now. Looking back, some of those authors aren’t/weren’t as successful by industry standards. But by mine, they are and always will be.

Maybe that’s the writer I want to be, we’ll just have to wait and see.

http://newliteraryagents.blogspot.com/2009/06/nora-roberts-and-real-romance.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/magazine/24patterson-t.html

Sunday, August 29, 2010

IT'S TRICKY

“This speech is my recital, I think it’s very vital
To rock (a rhyme), that’s right (on time)
It’s Tricky is the title, here we go…” RUN D.M.C. It’s Tricky

The Mighty Run D.M.C. said it well. But for them- rippin phat beats wasn’t all that tricky. They were a BRAND. A NAME. Every kid, whether from the city or the sticks wanted roped chains or at least ADIDAS shell top sneakers. They had the talent, the skill, and marketed their music to the masses.

As I am researching who to query and what they are looking for, yada, I am coming across more and more that agents and pubs want to know how YOU see your own personal brand, how YOU can be sold as an author. They are looking for your career arc, not just that first book. AND THEY ARE NOT doing all the work for you.

So, what sets you apart? Makes YOU as an author different, unique, a fresh voice in the publishing world? If you haven’t thought about it, you better start.

“It's like that y'all (y'all), but we don't quit
You keep on (rock!) shock! Cause this is it..."
RUN D.M.C. It’s Tricky

…And getting published sure is!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Got AWESOME?

“You can always go back and correct errors. You can’t go back in and add awesomeness.”~The Mighty AG

This is a direct quote from the “The Agency Gatekeeper”. http://agencygatekeeper.blogspot.com/.

Her blog rocks my business socks. She tells it like it is and even gives recipes for awesome desserts.

This post hit home for me. I am so freaked out by the query process. Little things I get hung up on. But in the end, she’s right. You can fix mistakes, little errors. But you can’t go back and erase something that sucks. You get one shot at showcasing how awesome YOUR story is and why the masses will line up for blocks for an autographed copy…sorry….daydreaming.

What is the difference between a bestseller and a slush pile? A partial request and a form rejection? I believe it all boils down to great storytelling. Either you have it or you don’t.

I am sure many good novels get passed over, too much saturation in the market, been there done that sort of deal. But if you really think, think about the books that have stayed with you, that made you laugh, cry, scared shitless, there was something about them, wasn’t there.
AWESOMENESS.

A woman finds a message in a bottle washed up along the beach. She searches for the man whose prose inside it made her fall in love, without even laying eyes upon him. They meet; let love in, then tragedy strikes. Bam, grab your tissues, you just read Nicholas Sparks’ Message in a Bottle.


A girl is new to town, new and in high school, feeling out of place is putting it mildly. When she meets the school hunk he seems grossed out by her. But he can’t seem to look away either. Little does she know he’s a vamp and wants to kiss and eat her at the same time. You already guessed, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight.


A man is called to a gruesome crime scene. Clues have been left for him to solve the murder and only manage to implicate him. But he must act quickly to ensure the killers are found. He finds himself with a surprising ally and is thrust into a mystery where solving it may change human history, forever. Only the best selling novel of all time, Dan Brown’s, The Da Vinci Code.

These stories rocked, maybe not to you but for enough people to be on the NYT Best Sellers List and made into Hollywood blockbusters.

Now, imagine if we were one of the author’s of any of the above. No doubt they would all be different books entirely.

It was the author’s distinct AWESOMENESS that made history, made it memorable.

Go out into green pastures my fine fellow aspiring scribes, and craft your own personal awesomeness. It will hurt, it will make you dig deep, it will make you cry and have that best friend of yours-self doubt, yapping away. But honing it in, developing it like you own child is the difference between us and them. (Them being the above persons who perfected their inner AWESOMENESS.)

Now, shoo. Go. And write well.

Charli Mac

P.S. What made the PIC of the kid personally awesome for me was NOT the LA Gears, nor the Mullet, not even Super Mario Brothers, and definitely not the Ducktales Poster (you know you all just sang in yer head “Ducktales, Whoo hoo”). It’s the fact that this kid sported a hot pink t-shirt. There was nothing like a confident teenage boy in the 80′s. Hmm, got me thinking about a YA novel….. “Dude, that was Awesome” has a ring to it, no?



This is a recycled post, but new to this BLOG. JAWS is having technical difficulties and could not get her revised page to us.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DINNER WITH CHARLI TUNA

Tis a different kind of Thursday. No JAWS, breathe easy lassies. Tis Charli Tuna, a calmer fish from the Atlantic. And what I am serving up you'll just love. You will salivate at the delectable dish I have for you all.

I am serving JAWS herself.

That's right lassies. You get to JAWS, JAWS.

How many of you are ready to rip her a new one? Revenge is a dish best served cold.

Looks like tonight, the main course is SUSHI lassies.

KEY TO THE KINGDOM



Prologue
The Border, England 1455


“One crown to rule them all.” William moved his pawn forward two spaces and glanced up at the duke.

“Tis a powerful notion.” Hugh replied, a hand lingering over his knight “Especially where a throne is used as a tool of persuasion. What of Richard?”

“His bouts of madness are the same as Henry’s. He will not long be king.” William eyed the duke’s queen. “I have the blood of all the royal houses, Scotland included, pulsing through my veins.”

“Where are you going with this, William?” Hugh lifted a hand in the air as a servant stood poised to enter the room. With a flick of his wrist, the man retreated, closing the door in his wake.

“Richard was on campaign in Pontoise, several days from Rouen, where his lovely wife Cecily had taken up residence. ‘Tis where young Edward was conceived.”

Save for the crackle of tinder and pop of realization silence settled between the men.

Hugh sat back, dropped his bishop and opened his mouth. No sound flowed forth. “You were …” he shook his head and glanced away. “You were in Rouen with Cecily,” the duke whispered, eyes rent with dawning.

William said nothing.

His head snapped back. “The archer, Blaybourne … Cecily’s lover, was he not?”

“Edward’s father? A figment of my imagination.” Running fingers through raven haired whiskers, he eyed his next move. Pawn takes rook. Line up your pieces, stalk your enemy, it will all fall into place.

“One crown?”

“To rule them all.” With his daughter as bait, he’d have it all. “Checkmate.”

Chapter 1

The knife slid through Helena's fingers as she stumbled back against the window. A breeze fluttered past her face, forcing air into her lungs. Blood tainted hands covered quivering lips.

Claire’s soft swords reached her ears.

“Run,” she wheezed, eyes all but swollen shut. “Go, milady, before he kills you too. My fate is sealed.” Acceptance and determination blazed in her azure gaze. “Please.”

“I will not leave you here.” Helena returned, shaking away fright.

A harsh cough shook Claire’s body. “Flee. Do … not look … back.”

“I will see you away from this place.” Helena tried desperately to lift the maid.

Life faded from Claire’s eyes. “There…. isn’t time. He will … return.”

Heart thrumming wildly in her chest, her gaze darted to the open door and skittered over the motionless bodies, chests still, never to rise with breath. Claire’s lips parted and one word slipped past pale lips. “Isolde –”

The heavy thud of footfalls reached her ears. She started, turned and leaned out the window. The fall was great. More than a yard or two. Her options were limited.

She had to run.

Run for her life.

To save her sister from the same fate as she.

With unsteady hands, Helena yanked the hem of her gown over her knees and climbed onto the ledge. Cold air whipped against her face as she stared at the stone path below. Jump, Helena, flee! She inhaled the frigid spring wind as the footsteps drew closer.

She leapt.

Well, tis appetizing. I was hungry. Doonae worry, I left some for ye. Read below how I tweaked this fine tale into shape.


Prologue~The Border, England 1455

“One crown to rule them all.” William moved his pawn forward two spaces and glanced up at the duke.

“Tis a powerful notion. Especially where with a the throne is used as a tool of persuasion.” Hugh replied, a hand lingering over his knight “What of King Richard?” (I am thinking here you should mention he is the King, for those not as versed in History. I also switched the action tag. Felt the pause more natural this way. I know WHERE may be the language of the period but it reads more awkward so I switched things up a bit here too.)

“His bouts of madness are the same as Henry’s. He will not long be king.” William eyed the duke’s queen. “I have t The blood of all the royal houses pulse ing through my veins, Scotland included.”

Where are you going with this Does this diatribe have an end in sight, William?” Hugh lifted a hand in the air as a servant stood poised to enter the room. With a flick of his wrist, the man retreated. , closing the door in his wake. (The opening sentence sounded to contemporary for me. The phrase where the servant closes the door slowed the action.)

“Richard was on campaign in Pontoise, several days from Rouen, where his lovely wife Cecily had taken up residence. ‘Tis where young Edward was conceived.” (Now, I had the fortunate pleasure of going through the family timeline previous to this, but re-reading again let AJ know if all this makes sense to you.)

Save for the crackle of tinder and pop of realization silence settled between the men.

Hugh sat back, dropped his bishop and opened his mouth. No sound flowed forth. “You were …” he shook his head and glanced away. “You were in Rouen with Cecily,” the duke whispered, eyes rent with dawning.

William said nothing.

His head snapped back. “The archer, Blaybourne … Cecily’s lover, was he not you said he was-”

“Edward’s father? A figment of my imagination.” Running fingers through raven haired whiskers, he eyed his next move. Pawn takes rook. Line up your pieces, stalk your enemy, it will all falls into place.

“One crown?”

“To rule them all.” With his daughter as bait, he’d have it all. “Checkmate.”

Chapter 1

The knife slid through Helena's fingers as she stumbled back against the window. A breeze fluttered past her face, forcing air into her lungs. Blood tainted hands covered quivering lips.

Her servant Claire’s soft swords reached her ears. (I need to know who this person is and its obvious she is somewhere else in the room, tell us where.)

“Run,” she wheezed, eyes all but swollen shut. “Go, milady, before he kills you too. My fate is sealed.” Acceptance and determination blazed in her azure gaze. “Please.”

“I will not leave you here.” Helena returned, shaking away fright a deep breath quelled her fright. (Shaking away her fright, all I see is her convulsing or dancing, LOL, and its all tell.)

A harsh cough shook Claire’s body. “Flee. Do … not look … back.”

“I will see you away from this place.” Helena tried desperately in vain to lift the maid.

Life faded from Claire’s eyes. “There…. isn’t time. He will … return.”

Claire’s lips parted and one word slipped past pale lips. “Isolde –” (I moved this here because below you say they are dead, to me it felt more natural to hear this, then look around.)

My sister? (Can’t just name drop with all this going on.)

Heart thrumming wildly in her chest, her gaze darted to the open door and skittered over the motionless bodies, chests still, never to rise with breath.

The heavy thud of footfalls reached her ears. She started, turned and leaned out the window. The fall was great. More than a yard or two. Her options were limited.

She had to run.

Run for her life.

To save her sister from the same fate as she.

With unsteady hands, Helena yanked the hem of her gown over her knees and climbed onto the ledge. Cold air whipped against her face as she stared at the stone path below. Jump, Helena, flee! She inhaled the frigid spring wind as the footsteps drew closer. (Mentioning the season take me totally out of the action. And I don;t think she'd refer to herself in the third person. )

She leapt.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FAMOUS AUTHORS DIDN'T KNOW SQUAT EITHER!

I am tired of people telling me about rules, people who yet to have their all knowing asses publish a single word. (I am not talking about my crit partner. JAWS scares the shit out of me.) I am talking about those people who always chat about the industry, of what is accepted, yada… what is considered popular, yada… and what will NOT get me published, YADA friggin YADA!

When I read how some of my favorite authors got in the business, I laughed! Here are some facts people:

Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook was in the slush pile of one agent, when another perused said pile and the title caught her eye. The rest is tear jerking history.

Stephanie Meyer sent out fifteen, as she put, sucky queries, and finally an agent bit. Tweeners have never been the same, well since NKOTB!

Dan Brown was a failed musician and wanna-be pop-star, no shit, before his little story about a guy who searched for the literal Holy Grail became the world’s best selling novel to date.

Jodi Picoult started out writing for DC Comics, the Wonder Woman series! Double no shit!

Nora Roberts’ first six manuscripts were all rejected by Harlequin. She later got published and we all know she’s lived happily ever after.

Many authors talk about how they got started. And there is a similar theme. Pesky characters clamoring about their wee noggins. Voices that would not be silenced. Did they know about all the rules, NO. Did they know how to write a query, NO. A synopsis, NO.

Bottom line, they all had some damned good stories to tell. And they had a damned good way of telling them.

I stand firm that I believe in my characters. I love them, am really in love with them all. Not only that, I love writing. I love the crazy ups and downs. I love making my characters breathe. And I want the masses to love them too.


So, with all these facts I know I am in a good place. I have great critters, friends, and supporters cheering me on. My daughter and niece can’t believe I am doing this and I have even caught them writing stories. My BFF finally read my first three chaps and the way she described being drawn into their world made me tear up. My hubby, the alpha male, believes every sex scene I write is no doubt all about him. The ego, but it has made for some interesting evenings, being that he feels he is always on a stage!

If my fellow critique partners, friends, and family get what I am doing, then somewhere…out there…someone in the industry may too.

Charli Mac, signing out.

***THIS IS A RECYCLED POST FROM ANOTHER BLOG I POSTED ON. FUNNY HOW I PUMP MYSELF UP HERE, THE CHARLI THEN WOULD BE SO DISAPPOINTED IN ME NOW. THERE IS NO ASPIRING AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT TODAY. IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN A SPOTLIGHT, EMAIL US. WE'D LOVE TO HAVE YOU. ;)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

THE HANGOVER~PART DEUX

TUESDAY LEDGE DAY. Yet another one. *SIGH*.

I really thought that a weekend of fun and MAYHEM would help me find my passion for the craft. Nope- but I did find a guy who called himself MAYHEM. A 6'9'' skinny kid who rapped like no white boy should ever rap on stage. Truly embarrassing. Young girls threw themselves at the oaf, thinking he was a part of the band. A local Philly band that is really good. I know them so the OMG factor isn't there.

Even when I was young hottie I didn't throw myself at bar bands or anyone for that matter. Nor did my friends. Not our style. We were just too damn cool for that. (In our heads anyway.)

We were too cool for Jersey this weekend too. We are TWEENERS. Too old for the clubs we used to go to and too young for the ELKS club. WTF!

What in tarnation was I thinking that I would find my inner scribe at the Jersey friggin' shore. I love the place but we partied. Partied hard.

Pool bar all day, bar in our place in the evening, actual bars at night. Me poor achin' liver. We danced, shook our tails, laughed, I mean really laughed so hard our stomachs hurt. We got chased off the beach by WILDWOOD 5-O. It was 3AM and we had a bag full of beer. Bonding and watching the stars. Barney Fife pulls up on his supped up golf cart. My punk friends scurry. No this chick. I mosey.

"Ma'am, is that beer in your cup?" Did this little shit call me Ma'am? He was maybe 21.

"Nope. Ginger Ale." I lie. What's he gonna do? Arrest me? Well yeah but that would have been funny.

We eye each other. He sees I've drawn the proverbial line in the sand.

"Well, either way you have to dump it." Kid has yet to get out of his little putt-putt.

"Right here?" I ask, real serious. Who am I to dump beer, oops, ginger ale, on the pristine sands of the Jersey Shore.

"Yes, Ma'am."

Does he know he's pissing me off? I raise my plastic cup and dump it out slow. Smiling. I am holding a bag full of unopened brews.

"Now, you have to throw out the cup too...Ma'am."

SOB, did he just read my mind? I was gonna wait till he left and fill my cup back up.

"Right here throw it out? I don't want  to litter." A smile forms on my face.

"Yes, in a trash can." His little engines purrs as he speeds off.

I meet my friends who are waiting for me on the steps. They are bent over laughing.

One says, "She's baaack!"

But was I? I had fun, yes. My moxy was there. But when I thought about my MS, my query woes, I didn't have the energy.

Chatting with JAWS last night I was goofing around with my opening. Thinking long and hard about things. I may need to re-write stuff, tweak and move. I jotted a few things and sent them over to AJ.

Psst. Did you really read that above?

I was writing.

CHARLI was writing.

I am BAACK! (Well, a little anyway.)

Not jumping up and down tapping my heels but I'm here. The passion came through last night typing. I felt it.

I was a little happier. Getting there. Slowly but surely I am getting my Charli back.

Thanks for sticking it out with me. I am not 100% but I am here.

Charli Mac, signing out.

Monday, August 23, 2010

THE HANGOVER~ PART 1

Well, I ain't dead... yet.

More like annoyed. Girls weekend was a blast, but, I should have known a weekend with my chicas would leave little time for introspection. Hard to contemplate life's meaning when nursing a hangover.

Do I have great stories, you bet. But what happens in Wildwood, stays in Wildwood.

There is one story I can share.

We are a brutally honest bunch, you think I am opinionated, BAH! They are worse than me. My friend is an avid reader of Romance and Women's Fiction. She loves my story. She would read on, wants to read on. Flattering, yes, but we are told not to put full stock in friends and families opinions.

But, she told me how disappointed she'd be if I quit.

Well, I told her to join the club. Chugged my beer and shrugged my shoulders.

All my girls then jumped on me, asking why or how I could think of giving up. It wasn't me, not in my nature.

Maybe I am not a quitter, but a realist. I thought I was the daydreamer, the kid who always dreamed big. Now as an adult trying to bring such dreams to fruition, I am left a cynic.

Not a glass half empty girl... More like some prick never bothered to fill the glass all the way up.

Jipped, jilted. Left wanting, no, expecting more.

Yet, here I am. Still in a fog. In a funk. But not rolling over and playing dead. Just toying with the notion. Tune into Part 2 Tuesday...

Friday, August 20, 2010

SHE SURVIVED . . . TO WALTZ WITH ME

We laughed, danced and drank until dawn, and yet, admirably, here we are, at work yet again.

Megan is one tough Mama. She survived her dip into shark infested waters, and managed to dodge JAWS.

Things to keep in mind whislt your writing and revising. Look for words you tend to repeat. As a writer, when I read now, its difficult NOT to notice when an author says the same thing five times in a row, or has his/her characters perform the same tasks over and over. Now, that's not to say you can't give your character a particular trait, an action they may do unconsciously without notice, but so so sparingly.

Secondly, when describing an noun do try not to use an over abundance of adjectives.
Mark Twain said catch them and kill them. I'd have to say, perhaps not all, but most. For me, the oversuse of description, and long narrative, pulls me from the action and provokes me to turn the page, and not for the good.

Use the five senses to pull the reader into your story. Make them FEEL like they're really there. Show me, don't tell me.

I shall cease my babbling, and pass the magic wand over to, Megan ... take it away lass.

Waltz With Me


CHAPTER 1 - THE GIFT

Yet I would not have all yet.

He that hath all can have no more;

And since my love doth every day admit

New growth, thou shouldst have new rewards in store...”

Viv screamed. The knife, so thin and sharp, slipped under her skin, peeling away a small, precise rectangle from her forearm. She writhed, her muscles bulging against the plastic bindings that cut into her wrists and ankles. She could hear the faint splats as her blood dripped from her arm to the cold concrete floor of her prison.

He leaned in close, his hot, fetid breath washing over her.“I don't mind,” he whispered in her ear. “I enjoy the noise. It makes our time together so much more enjoyable.” He dipped his finger into the thickening blood on her arm and wiped it across his mouth like lipstick.

She squeezed her eyes shut and twisted her head away, praying for death.

Thin fingers clamped on her jaw and jerked her face back, their smooth nails digging into her cheeks. The metallic tang of her own blood was sharp in her nose as he ground his lips against hers. He'd learned his lesson, though. There was no tongue thrust into her mouth this time.

But now he was teaching her a lesson of his own. Rebellion brought retribution. The sweet release of death would be delayed, the path more painful.

Eventually the kiss ended, and he leaned to the left to lick at the tears that spilled down her cheeks.

“Viv, baby, wake up.”

A new voice entered her dream, a welcome and familiar safety net.

She struggled out of the nightmare's familiar grasp, the corners of her eyes glued shut with dried tears. Finally they opened, but she couldn't see anything but the vaguest outline of Sam's back in the predawn light.

“Viv, sweetheart, you were crying in your sleep again. I'm sorry babe, but I gotta get up in an hour.” His hand reached over and patted her hip briefly before he returned it to his side. A soft snore soon floated in the humid air.

____________________________________________________________________________________


Ah, that was a satisfying little morsal. Full of words, I'm off to the cottage. Until next week, ladies, gents.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

DINNER & DANCING WITH JAWS

Welcome.

I've been waiting . . .

'Tis been a very long week and it's feeding time. The hero, or, villain, in this piece is hungry too.

Delightful. For the most satisfying culinary experience one should keep like company. I hope you like your dinner rare. This piece is bleeding already, and I have yet to even start.

Please welcome, Megan Oliphant, a barracuda from Utah. Bet you didn't think such ravenous creatures came from the state that holds the famed Sundance Film Festival, but, THEY DO!

JAWS vs. BARRACUDA

Ding, ding, ding, let the first round begin!

WALTZ WITH ME

CHAPTER 1 - THE GIFT

Yet I would not have all yet.

He that hath all can have no more;

And since my love doth every day admit

New growth, thou shouldst have new rewards in store...”



Viv screamed. The knife, so thin and sharp, slipped under her skin, peeling away a small rectangle of her forearm. She felt her muscles bulge and the plastic binding cut into her wrists and ankles as she pulled against them. Warm blood trickled down her arm, growing cold in the dank dimness of her prison.

The voice, that hated voice, whispered in her ear, his hot breath fetid, rotten.

“I don't mind,” the voice said. “I enjoy the noise. It makes our time together so much more enjoyable.” He dipped his finger into the thickening blood on her arm and wiped it like lipstick across his mouth.

Viv squeezed her eyes shut, turning away from the voice and her blood on his face. Biting fingers gripped her jaw, pulling her back, forcing a wet kiss onto her mouth. The metallic tang of her own blood was sharp in her nose, making her gag. There was no tongue thrust into her mouth, though. He'd learned that lesson the last time. That's why he was dissecting her slowly, and alive. Retribution for her rebellion.

Finally the kiss ended. She left her eyes closed, panting shallowly. The torture was only beginning.

“Viv, baby, wake up.”

Another voice entered her dream, a welcome one, a rope to pull her to safety.

Viv opened her eyes with difficulty, the corners sticky with dried tears. Sam's shadowy back was all she could see, the predawn light glancing off his bare arm.

Sam's voice was thick. “Viv, sweetheart, you were crying in your sleep again. I'm sorry babe, but I gotta get up in an hour.” His hand reached over and patted her hip briefly before returning to his side. His snoring resumed.
_________________________________________________________________

Viv screamed as the blade sunk into her skin, peeling away a piece of flesh. She struggled against the plastic binding her wrists and ankles. Warm, sticky blood trickled down her arm, cooling as it left her body and dripped onto the cold floor of her own personal hell. The voice, that hated voice, whispered in her ear, "I don't mind." Fetid breath rolled across her face.“I enjoy your screams. It makes our time together so much more enjoyable.” He dipped his finger into her blood and smeared it over his mouth like lipstick. She squeezed her eyes shut, praying for her body to slip into oblivion.

But he wouldn't let her.

With a painful grip, he grabbed her jaw, forcing a vile kiss over her unwilling mouth. Even weakened and tired, she fought his embrace. He did not thrust his tongue into her mouth. Not this time. He'd learned that lesson the hard way. She could still taste his blood in her mouth. He needed her to stay alive, to fight, so that he could dissect her alive.
Retribution for her rebellion. Finally, he pushed her back, ending the kiss. She left her eyes closed, panting for breath.

“Viv, baby, wake up.”

Another voice penetrated the tortuous fog. A ladder to safety.

She struggled to wake. The corners of her eyes felt glued shut with dried tears. In the predawn light, Sam's shadowy figure loomed before her eyes.

“Viv, sweetheart, you were crying in your sleep again. I'm sorry babe, but I gotta get up in an hour.” He reached over, patted her hip briefly, then returned to his side, and falling into a sound sleep.

___________________________________________________________

I decided not to bathe Megan in red this week, rather re-write it the way it sounded best to me. And it is, after all, subjective. My taste may not be yours. I ripped it apart and offered up my thoughts.

The first thing that stood out to me was the heroine's terror. I was left thinking; who the hell is this guy? Why is he doing this to her, and how long ago did it happen? Is this a reacurring dream? Is it even real, or a product of Viv's imagination?

I'm intrigued.

Be careful when you're writing not to repeat words so close together. I counted reading blood four times. Viv too, was used far too much. Thus, I eliminated most of them in my version. Fetid, rotten, same thing, so one got the boot.

When Viv says 'biting fingers' I'm thinking, fingers that bite? 'Tis a wee bit unclear, so, that too, I changed.

Sam, her husband, I'm assuming, is an ass, so far. I'd like to think she ends up leaving him in the end.

I'm also wondering if the passage with the sadistic torturer ought to be italicized if its a dream, or simply made to be a short prologue in real time, with Viv waking in chapter one, remembering what happened to her.

Are your teeth suitably sharpened? Megan would love your thoughts.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

CEMENT SHOES AND JIMMY FLOOS

Pickles has not only packed that gloch 9 but there are some cinder blocks that are completely suspect. I am so gonna get whacked this weekend. She has her army of Jimmy Floos (Fancy Flip Flops) but I am guessing they are for her. I'm already sitting here, typing from the closet wearing the pair of cement shoes she already put on me. How many blocks of cement does it take to kill your inner author?

Do you even know how many pounds of Salami it took for me to call the leg breakers off. That and some 40's of Colt 45. Pickles means business. She sent the 3 most recognizable fictional hit men to do the job. Damn, I'm flattered, sort of.

I've gotta get her whacked, and by that I mean wicked drunk. Maybe then she'll listen to me. Maybe then we can find the gusto to keep writing.

You all know about my meltdown, my all out postal, Rambo moment. I'm not as bad as I was last week, this I can assure you. But I ain't exactly back writing yet either.  I have seriously lost so much of the passion, zeal, kick ass moxy I had before. Little by little it left, then there was the "incident" last Thursday.

My hubby, as man of few words, looked at me and said, "You've been going non stop for over a year. You write, your write for others, you blog about writing... you need a break." 

Wow. Mens are smart sometimes. He ain't just thinking with his one eyed love me stick. He also reminds me that when I do get published he has a list of toys he'd like so I better get rested and get back to it. SOB!

Well, a break is coming! I am headed to the exotic island of the Wildwoods. A New Jersey escape like no other.

That's right bitches, I am going to the Jersey Shore! And before you even say it, NO. Not that Jersey Shore, no douche nozzles here thank you. Not fist pumps or beat the beats. I am going to the SOUTH Jersey Shore, the Philly part of Jersey.

It's my annual girls weekend with me chicas. About 7 of us go down and tear Jersey a new one, every year. We unwind, get wound up, party until one of us falls asleep on the deck or balcony. We've gone out in Hawaiian costumes, togas, Michael Jackson Beat it Jackets and sequins gloves, with six foot inflatable monkeys on our backs and even with a little inflatable red-headed man we named The Donger. The monkey's name is Chachi, in case you were wondering. We go absolutely crazy.

My friend TK, said in her Toga on the way to the pub, "Girls, I haven't been this drunk...." she stops stumbles a bit pondering her own question. Her blue eyes light up, a smile crosses her face,"since... last night!"


Yup. That's how we roll. We are the girls your mama warned you not to hang out with. This year it's an 80's weekend. I got my aqua net and teasing comb. Spandex shiny pants, a long t-shirt and wide elastic belt. I even have jelly bracelets. Now, no one else dresses up in Wildwood, we just do. Why? Why not? Who wants to be all boring and go out like normal peeps. We ain't normal. 

My mom found out about Chachi, all the way back in Philly from a friend who was down. He told her about his weekend down the shore and how this crazy chick walked into the bar with a 6 foot monkey on her back. Chachi was secured using dental floss, like a back pack. When I told my mom it was her beloved daughter, she laughed. I guess she wasn't surprised. But that's me. The goofy clown, the risk taker, not this person. This person who gives up. *SIGH*

Here I will find myself again, I know it. My characters, my stories take place at the Jersey Shore. Maybe this is what I need. Pickles needs this, Charli, I, will be in the passenger seat. No laptop.

This is for Lizz. Cause if she can't find herself. I will be wearing those Cement shoes and taking a dip in the Atlantic Ocean.

Check in on Sunday night to see what my fate is. Keep your fingers crosses, toes, legs, arms, tots, and bits. I'm gonna need it.

Oh, and AJ, if you thought the NY State Troopers were bad, wait til you meet the Wildwood Summer Rent-a-Cops. Bad ass mofos, I assure ye. They've confiscated many a backpack full of beer.

We me luck people!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"A.J., I've jumped ..."

"A.J., I've jumped ...."

I re-read Charli's last email, thinking she'd just punked me. I dial her number and read it one more time. Ring, once, twice, three times, voice mail. Frustrated, I hang up, type a few lines and press send.

No response. An hour passes, nothing. She sends me a brief message:


I QUIT. Charli Mac is going to die in an alcohol induced frenzy.
Good bye cruel world. I am done son.

I don't quit. You can knock me down, kick me a few times, and spit in my face, but I DON'T QUIT. So, Charli, my American lover ... 'tis what are husbands think, I am not letting you off that easily.

Uh no, not happening.

After that message, I was revved up. I pulled my suitcase out of the closet, tossed in some clean knickers, hair straightener and lip stick. I was ready to go. Called the hubby at work, got his voice mail and told him, "Baby, I'm driving to Philly." Dropped my daughter off at the mother in laws, typed Charli's coordinates into my trusty GPS, got a coffee, and hit the road.
I raced through downtown Toronto, intent on my goal;
to reach the U.S. - Canadian border by noon.

What's an eight hour and fifty nine minute drive for yer crit lass? Nothing. The GPS told me I'd be passing over a few toll bridges, you want to bypass it asks? Nah, what are toll bridges?

We just get taxed for that shit here.

Palms sweaty, I reach the border, buzzed on coffee, jittery, and in need of food. I pass a middle aged woman my paper work. Taciturn, and unsmiling, she looks at my passport, then up at me. Three times. That's right, I draw my eyebrows on.

"What business do you have in the U.S., ma'am?"

"Driving to Philly to stop my crit partner from jumping off the ledge."

She stops in her perusal of my passport and glances up, lips compressed in a tight line. "You're going to stop your, uh, crit partner from jumping off a ledge?"

I smile, and nod enthusiastically, let her think I'm some crazy Canuck. "Aye, lass."

She ducks into her little booth, all the while staring at me, picks up a phone and starts talking. Great, she thinks I'm nuts. Hanging up the phone, she steps back out and passes me my passport. "Have a nice day, ma'am."

Woot, I'm over the border, only another five or so hours to go. I'm almost there. I can feel it, taste it, driving on the open road. Four, three, two hours, I'm going to be there by sunset.

Charli keeps calling me, probably thinking I was joking when I replied to her email with:


That's it! I'm driving to Philly. You better have a couch
for me to sleep on after a 9 hr drive. Peace out.


Nuts eh? Who the hell drops everything and drives nine hours? Me, nuts over here. 'Shrugs.' Why not, I thought. Hubby just said, uh huh,
ok babe, drive safe, don't speed and call me when you get there. Great guy huh? He's a keeper!

Phone is still ringing, my GPS is beeping, telling me I'm going over the speed limit, and then I see it, TOLL BRIDGE AHEAD. Yeah, yeah, I fish into my purse, pull out a bill and keep driving.

Rate: 0.75 - No problem.

Yeah, right.

If it involves AJ and Charli, guaranteed, there's gonna be a problem.

I hand the dude a five dollar bill, a Canadian five dollar bill.

'We don't accept foreign currency ma'am."

I'm almost to Philly, tired, sweaty, and dying for a smoke. "We take American money in Canada, just do the conversion." He looks at me like I'm nuts. "Better yet, keep the change."

"Are you bribing me ma'am?" I'm not a granny. I hate when peeps call me ma'am.

"No, sir." I never thought about stopping to get my money changed into American dollars. "So, um your not going to take the money? Mastercard?"

Nope, he wouldn't take my money, even after I tossed it at him and tried to cross the bridge. He called in the state troopers, big guys with funny hats. Ever seen the inside of a po-dunck, out of the way jail cell? Nope?

I have.

They gave me one call. And it went something like this. "Charli, yeah, that's right I'm in, where am I?" Troopers tell me, I tell her. "Get in your car and come an get me. Bring 0.75 American. Yeah, their looking at me funny. Hurry up. Bye."

Without Charli's bail money, I wouldn't be here. Here with wifi and some smarties, my snoring husband and chafed wrists.

I owe you, Charli and this is me giving back, I PROMISE to track down those god damn legbreakers, twist a few arms, and strangle yer maker.

Better start saving.

I might need bail money.




Saturday, August 14, 2010

The BYRD, BYRD, BYRD, the BYRD is the WORD!

Haven't you heard? Aspiring author Ron Byrd is the word! Hi, I'm Peter Griffin let me take a minute and introduce you to the guy who thinks my song is about him. I find myself to be a literary scholar of sorts. The last Hulk comic had me on pins and needles, on real page turner that was. Let's see if this chap lives up to the name. Does he know bird is spelled with an i?

Ron hails from the sticks or rural Kansas, the heart land. His childhood and the people he grew up with are the focus of his prose. On occasion he dabbles in essays, free verse, and dialogues. At one time Ron played around with song lyrics, but not so much anymore. With competition from Peter Griffin, I could see why.

Ron took the time to answer the questions in first person. Writers. *Peter rolls his eyes.*


When I was 9 my town was very small with little to do. We lived across the road from a library and I would spend a lot of time there. I fell in love with books and soon began writing short stories. My first story was about a calico cat. It was written on Big Chief writing paper. I sent it to Dell publishing and received a handwritten "Rejection" letter. She was very kind and urged me to keep writing. Something drives me to write, I'm not really sure what it is. A need to create or express a feeling maybe...I think everyone who writes is driven by something !


I have many rough drafts but nothing completed. A few pieces of free verse stashed somewhere. I save a piece only if it's outstanding in some way. If not I toss it in the can.



I took a writing class in college. the teacher had a writing contest and I won. I really can't imagine why. Rural areas have very little in the way of support. I didn't know crit groups existed until now.

My characters are all based on real life individuals. People I knew in my childhood, they were average everyday people. Yet there was something about each one that set them apart.


The genre I would never tackle Techy books. Too cold and hard. Can't get off on computer chips !


I sell collectibles online so I guess buying and placing items online takes up a lot of my time. I write usually early in the morning when I'm fresh or late at night when it's quiet. I sometimes write to music. I really haven't dealt with the publishing phase yet. If anything I guess you could say I'm in a first draft and editing stage. Until recently I wrote more for enjoyment than anything else.
I would like to collaborate with another writer on a novel. I have a lot of ideas and material but need some fresh talent and input. I also have a small writing group that meets once a week.


My sandwich... Definitely a Ham and cheese on rye with dill pickle spears on the side !

Super hero...hmmm...Procrastinate man. I would have the power to to cause indecision ..making the villain powerless to commit crime

My stripper name would be Gizmo Kansas. Pretty hot, Huh !!

Gizmo is pretty hot. If you're  into animals. Thanks for chatting Ron. Please feel feel to watch me sing a song for the Byrd Man. See you in Quahog.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WNrx2jq184