Thursday, September 30, 2010

A TALE OF TWO BOOK COVERS

I cannot decide which is funnier.


The Mullet or...

Possible Flatulence?

Tis a tough decision. I'm an 80's girl. The Mullet it is.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TEAM EDWARD, TEAM JACOB, TEAM GRANDPA, or TEAM TEEN WOLF?

A recent FB post inspired these questions. Now, think people.
Not just about looks or recent popularity but of these fine men as characters.
You can't just pick, you must explain your choice.


Would you be Team Edward or Team Grandpa?




Team Jacob or Team Teen Wolf?




Monday, September 27, 2010

I WANT TO BE A TERRIBLE WRITER, SERIOUSLY.

I jumped on the query super highway. I went blazing, speeding, and didn't wear a seat belt. Not only was I not securely fastened but I didn't check the engine. To summarize, I wasn't prepared.

My MS wasn't ready.

Form rejections, mixed contest results, unbiased CP feedback, I took in all in.

The opening to my novel, By Grace Alone, has been re-written. I am  knee deep in re-writes to reflect the changes. I'm having a blast.

To be honest, I haven't felt this good since I finished my first draft.

Recently, I've been meeting with local writers.  Cyber connecting is great. You're here reading this. However, something can be said about getting out their physically to meet your peers.

In a discussion group today a chat started about the Query process. Well, my hand goes up like Horshack, waving and oooh oooh ooohing.

A few comments later, I gulp.

The number of fellow writers who vented frustrations about LITERARY INTERNS made me nervous. Apparently they are more common than we think.

Our QUERIES most likely are read by INTERNS before ever getting to the AGENT.

Now, I am not sure how that makes me feel.

I am NO Agent or an Intern. I will not presume to understand how many queries they see and how many are just plain awful.

But we work really hard and we now depend on interns?

Some may not even have enough life experience to connect with our work. Their taste decides whether we get into the VIP club- the Agent's desk.

All our hard work in the hands of someone we DIDN'T query.

Interesting.

On TWITTER one of these interns complained about PROLOGUES and how they are unnecessary.

The debate on them is vast and oh so deep. Been there, argued that.

My MS has a one page prologue.

Before you chime in, here are some NYT Bestsellers with Prologues: The entire TWILIGHT series, THE BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY, ANGELS & DEMONS, THE DA VINCI CODE (The Bestselling book of all Time),  A BEND IN THE ROAD (Most Nicholas Sparks novels), James Patterson's THE SWIMSUIT (been on the NYT BS list for a couple of years).

I start a chat with this intern. A polite one, seriously. I ask why do WE aspiring writers hear how much agents hate PROLOGUES and yet I keep reading them. Reading them in works that are very successful. Said intern asks what books have them and I list the above. Her response, all good stories but TERRIBLE WRITING.

Wow.

They are all in my library. They were great reads. Love them. Won't let people borrow them. The TWILIGHT series is my kids. Haven't read but seen the movies. I know, I know. I'll read them sometime. But back to my rant.

Terrible writing? TERRIBLE WRITING?????????? I keep going back to this. How terrible can they be if millions of people have read them, loved them, and HOLLYWOOD even made them into movies?

Now, they're not Literary snooze fests or Pulitzer Prize winners. I know that. But I am a commercial fiction reader. Very proud of that.

Who is this INTERN to say what makes TERRIBLE WRITING? I mean to say that actual successful authors are TERRIBLE? I wonder if she's passed on any GOOD STORIES for the agent she works/interns for. I mean, she could have just said that they weren't her style or what she looks for.
Why do I feel like Doogie Howsers are looking at my work? I mean look at Neil Patrick Harris. Look at what life experience did for him. I want the NOW Doogie reading my query, or the AGENT I should say.
But to say these FELLOW scribes are terrible, especially looking at their success...Then I hope I am TERRIBLE too. Just as terrible a they are.

I wonder how many interns passed or will pass on mine?

This business is SOOOO SUBJECTIVE.

The scary thing is, AGENTS need interns. The business is that insane. Agents would NEVER get to ANY queries without them. It still makes me uneasy. The economy sent many editors packing. Publishing houses no longer help groom their writers, they want you ready to go.

So, I shake my head and pray somewhere AN ACTUAL AGENT reads my work and is drawn to it. That a publisher believes in it. And that readers will LOVE it.

BTW, this intern later was on a social media outlet chatting about the queries she was simultaneously reading, liking, passing on, yada. All while continuing to chat on said social media outlet. Chat about queries, shots and drinking games. Yup. How much concentration is going on there? I guess there is so much terrible out there she is forced to drink and read queries.

I shake my head and refuse to let the idea of these interns solely holding the future of my writing career in their hands.

Like I said. I am feeling pretty damn good. Not gonna let this ruin my mood. Plus, DEXTER IS ON!

Need my homicidal fix... BTW that's not an intern in my sofa. Pinky promise. LOL.

Friday, September 24, 2010

MADEA is erm...detained

FICTIONAL AGENT FRIDAY is um, well it's been detained. Madea had a situtation. She says she'll be here next week and to have your questions ready. She ain't got no time play.

Till next week...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT IT WAS SAFE TO GO BACK IN THE WATER . . .

I'M BACK! Yeah, you missed me, I know. I have the second sight. An intuition stronger than yours. No I can't tell you what color your panties are, or what the lotto numbers will be, but I can feel things. And I'm feeling pretty damn hungry. 'Tis been weeks since I've been properly fed. A brave soul sent me a wee morsel ... without further adieu

THE TAKER


Eva, my three year old daughter was kidnapped, three days, fourteen hours, and fifty-one minutes ago. It only took ten Mississippi’s and poof, she vanished into thin air. An innocent game of hide and go seek became my worst nightmare.

So many variables are involved in planning, plotting, and executing the abduction of a child. Eva’s taker methodically accomplished all of the above. Ten Mississippi’s. Count them out in your head. In that short amount of time, my world ceased to exist. For me, there was no life without Eva. None at all.

What scares me the most is that I am no one. I am a middle class mom from the City of Brotherly Love. I am actually lower middle class or upper lower class depending on how tips are for the week. I am an everyday Jane.

One who took her child to the park and smiled when no one was there. We had our own little world to play in. Her playground was mine. We slid and climbed, swung and hung. Pure paradise. I had two hours before my shift to do nothing but bask in the glow of my exuberant child.

I can still see her smile right before I closed my eyes to count. Black ringlets bounced, framing her face. Her little teeth gleamed with a gap in the middle. The dimple on her left side made her little birthmark stand out more. The giggle, that squeal, still echoed in memory. If you could think about a toddler’s voice, imagine the crisp purity, you have my baby girl, my Eva.

My hands shook as I put the phone to my ear.

“Hi, Mommy.”

I swallowed my fear but the tears fell free and fast.

“Hey, pumpkin pie. I don’t want you to be scared, okay.”

“I’m not scared, apple pie. You haven’t found me yet Mommy.” When she laughed, as if being tickled, my emotions betrayed me.

Relief coursed through me that she wasn’t terrified or being tortured. But the comfort in her voice, the complete sense of familiarity she had scared the shit out of me. How could she know to fight if she felt safe, thought they were still playing a game?

“I will find you baby. Mommy promises.”

“He says we’re gonna find you first.”

He. Eva said he. And they would find her.

“Who is he Eva, who is helping you play?”

“The funny man, he’s silly. He makes me laugh.”

“What does he look like, sweetie, the funny man?”

The other end of the receiver remained still.

“He says that’s cheating, Mommy. You told me cheating is bad.”

Think. Think. Think.

“Well, if you’re looking for me now, I get to know where you are. Can you tell me anything about where you are? A house, a car, inside, outside.”

Quiet again.

“Mommy. The funny man said to tell you where we are.”

For some reason her response did little to soothe.

“He said we’re in hell, Mommy.”
_________________________________________________________________

Eva, m My three year old daughter, Eva was kidnapped, three days, fourteen hours, and fifty-one minutes ago. It only took ten Mississippi’s and poof, she vanished into thin air. An innocent game of hide and go seek became my worst nightmare.

So many variables are involved in planning, plotting, and executing the abduction of a child. Eva’s taker methodically accomplished all of the above. I wouldn’t be considering any of this if my child had just been taken, its far too coherent for the mother of a missing child. IMHO, I’d lose it.

Ten Mississippi’s. Count them out in your head. In that short amount of time, my world ceased to exist. For me, there was no life without Eva. None at all.

What scares me the most is that I am no one. I am a middle class mom from the City of Brotherly Love. I am actually lower middle class or upper lower class depending on how tips are for the week. I am an everyday Jane. Takes away from the BAM, this can all come into play later, pulls from the action.

One who took her child to the park and smiled when no one was there. We had our own little world to play in. Her playground was mine. In the two hours I had before my shift began, I basked in the glow of my exuberant child. Without a care in the world. At the park we slid and climbed, swung and sang. The tinkle of her laughter still rung like bells in my ears. hung. Pure paradise. I had two hours before my shift to do nothing but bask in the glow of my exuberant child.

Black ringlets bounced, framing framed her vibrant, little gap toothed face. Her little teeth gleamed with a gap in the middle. The dimple on her left side made her little birthmark stand out more. The giggle, that squeal, still echoed in memory. If you could think about a toddler’s voice, imagine the crisp purity, you have my baby girl, my Eva.

I can still see her smile as right before I closed my eyes, as I did before I began to count.
<!--[endif]-->

The phone shrilled in the silence. My eyes popped open as I dove for it, palms slick with fear, heart racing with hope. My whole body shakes hands shook as I put the phone to my ear. “Hello?”
“Hi, Mommy.” I swallowed (swallow-we are in the present, I hope?) my fear but the tears fell fall free and fast.

“Hey, pumpkin pie. I don’t want you to be scared, okay.” Would she say that right away? Would it not scare a child for the parent to be telling them not to be scared?

“I’m not scared, apple pie. You haven’t found me yet Mommy.” When she laughed, as if being tickled, my emotions betrayed me. SHOW ME THIS

Relief coursed through me that she wasn’t terrified or being tortured. How does she know? She can’t see anything! But the comfort in her voice, the complete sense of familiarity she had scared the shit out of me. How would she know to fight if she felt safe, like thought they were still playing a game?

“I will find you baby. Mommy promises.”

“He says we’re gonna find you first.”

He. Eva said he. And they would find her.

“Who is he Eva, who is helping you play?”

“The funny man, he’s silly. He makes me laugh.” Is there any other noise in the background? Is she clutching the phone? Is there anyone there with her?
“What does he look like, sweetie, the funny man?”

The other end of the receiver remained still. Silent?
“He says that’s cheating, Mommy. You told me cheating is bad.”

Think. Think. Think.

“Well, if you’re looking for me now, I get to know where you are. Can you tell me anything about where you are? A house, a car, inside, outside.”

Quiet again.

“Mommy. The funny man said to tell you where we are.”

For some reason her response did little to soothe. She held her breath, and waited.
“He said we’re in hell, Mommy.”

___________________________________________________________________________________
That was ... well, bloody delicious if you must know! Now, onto serious matters. The premise is great. I'm hooked. But there are times in the short narrative where I feel the author is more omniscient than it ought to be. As if the author is telling us things we need not yet know. I'd add a few more grounding details so we get a sense of where the woman is, perhaps even have the caller ask for her by name before the child is put on.
However, since this little morsel was sent into JAWS anonymously, I must wait to see where the story goes!
Dive in my little barracuda's. I've missed you

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Please tell me...WHO IS THIS GUY?

I use Google Images for my blog posts. I love finding funny and intriguing photos for you to check out while reading my musings.

Sometimes I come across an image that makes me wonder. Like, who are these people? Then I think about what kind of character they could be.

Below is a artistic photo. You know, one of those ones where it's a photograph than drawn over. So flippin' cool.

The man's face intrigues me. I wonder what he is  thinking about while taking a drag of his cigarette. The band aid on his finger tip, his face etched with wrinkles, a cool ponytail of salt and pepper hair, and his workman's uniform are all tell tale signs of what kind of life this man leads. So, I made up a character and a scenario. You can do the same.

Dimitri Petrov is fifty-nine years old. Russian by birth, he became an American citizen in 1962.

He married his hometown sweetheart, Ana. They have been married for forty years and have two children, a boy and a girl.

He has worked in his cousin's auto body repair shop for the past thirty-five years.

To most, he has lived the American Dream. If they knew what secret he's been keeping they would agree whole heartedly that he IS the American Dream.

Dimitri would disagree with the same fervor.

He thanks God everyday for Ana's laryngectomy a year ago. The sound of her voice used to induce instant nausea. Cause of its tone? No. She nagged him incessantly about how he never amounted to much of anything.

His children took after their mother in that sense. Never making much of his life. The sixty hour work weeks to put food on the table, send them to Catholic school and even to college. Money he could have saved.

Mikael, his son,  is a degenerate gambler who's been in jail more than out.

Katrina, his daughter, is a gold digger who's been married three times- to men older than him.

The coffee in his cup has long been finished but he can't seem to move from his seat.

He won the powerball two weeks ago and never told a soul. Technically he is a millionaire.

The whole country wants to know who the winner is.  

And he doesn't want to give his ungrateful brood a dime.

Will he cash in and leave Detroit forever?

Thus giving his wife and offspring their shares and be done with them?

Or will he keep the ticket in his wallet, basking in the ways their lives will continue to be miserable. Miserable not because he is withholding riches from them, but miserable for the types of people they really are. With the money they would still be rotten children and she still would be a rotten mute wife.

At some point the ticket will expire. He envisions leaving it for them in his will. Laughing from his grave.

With a drag of his USA 100, he makes his decision. One they will have to live with, not him.

I challenge you to find a picture that speaks to you and do the same.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

PRACTICALLY PERFECT~Ledge Tuesday

Mary Poppins lived on the LEDGE. Seriously. Window ledges, rooftop ledges, sidewalk painting ledges, even sat on clouds checking her face.

But she was PERFECT.

Practically perfect in every way.

Bitch.

I am a reality TV junkie. I love the Real Housewives series. Especially those crazy peaches from Atlanta. This weekend re-runs from last season ran back to back. Kandi was in the middle of shopping around her new solo album. She made a comment that struck a nerve with me. It reminded me that much of the entertainment business is the same. Whether it's music, movies, or writing.

You need to be PERFECT.

Editors are no longer helping you shine your product. Publishers no longer take you under their wing while you PERFECT your work.

Hence my bazillionth re-write. (BTW, isn't Kandi gorgeous! Love that girl. But, I digress.)
Here is what I learned most on this crazy re-write ride. LISTEN TO THE ADVICE OUT THERE!!! When you complete the first draft of your first novel, step back. Let it sit. Don't look at it, don't send it out. Go back a few weeks later and re-read.

Enter a CONTEST. It's a great way to get unbiased feedback about your work.

I queried way too early. My MS was not ready. I changed the opening and as a result I am combing through the entire MS making it as tight and strong as my new opening. I am making it as PERFECT as I can.

It's a lot of work. A LOT.

It's a process where you are stripped down to your lowest level. I hit rock bottom, big time.

It's the most fun you'll ever have-if you truly love the craft.

It's writing.

It's what I was meant to do.

So, I am done the re-write of my opening. I caught the chicken. Mickey is proud. I am too.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Last Chance!

Tonight at midnight the contest will close. What contest? Where have you been? The contest to get your manuscript edited for free by C.A. Marshall. Clink on the link below. Good luck, but not too much luck. I've entered too!

http://www.camarshall.com/2010/09/freelance-editor-ca-marshalls-free-edit.html

TOO BUSY TO BLOG

AJ & CHARLI are too busy writing to blather about the blogosphere today. Hope you are writing too. If not, why aren't you?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

KICK ASS CRIT PARTNERS!

Crit partners. Most of us got 'em. Some don't. For those of you in the former group, you need to find your partner in crime.

Finding someone to help you along your journey is not easy. For me, I needed someone who was going to make my MS bleed, a person who could be totally honest without fear of me crawling into a hole and crying.
Everyone knows who mine is ... how could you not? Her bark is bigger than my bite.

Charli.

Everyone I have shared crits with has enlightened my view on my work, and I hope I've reciprocated. Many thanks to Jill, GH Winner, for helping me see things I could not. She's right where she deserves to be, and I wish her all the success in the world :-)

Here's my prescription or recipe if you will for finding that perfect partner.

1. Find someone who can push you and tear your MS a new one. And by new one, I mean someone who can make your page red with comments, suggestions, and compliments.

2. If that certain someone sends over a piece of writing that knocks your socks off, or makes you weep, you're golden. (Secretly, you think she's so good, your afraid for her to look at your work, but you do. You've got mucho balls.)

3. He/she are amazed by your story, and brainstorm when you have the dreaded writers block.

4. You and your partner have a mutual respect for each others talent. YOU believe in their work as much as they believe in yours.

5. Lastly, she's willing to drive across state lines to save your ass from an American jail. (This is the MOST important one of them all. If she can't bail you out, your screwed!)
Well, that's all for now folks. Today is my birthday, and I have much eating/drinking/shopping to do! See ye all next week lads and lassies!

Here's a little present to all of our lady followers. A gift from Charli to me to you. A little something to get your creative juices going . . . a sexy man, what a fabulous gift!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Fictional Agent Friday~ DR. EVIL

Back by popular demand...

It's Fictional Agent Friday. I get to transform a popular character and say why I think he or she would be the PERFECT LITERARY AGENT.

DR. EVIL.

Why did I not think of him sooner. Erm, hullo? Laser beams? Sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads. An army of minions, a psychotic clone, not CLOWN, clone. He has an arsenal of cool ridiculous toys, an under water labyrinth beneath a volcano, he has a submarine in the shape of his likeness where stuff floats out of his butt, he has EJECTOR chairs, and an assistant called NUMBER 2.

He needs to be my agent. I can see him now demanding ONE TRILLION DOLLARS for my MS. If not, he'll blow up the entire world! Everyone would be forced to read my work.

YES!

He could clone me so that Minnie Charli could do all the typing, blogging, yada. I could sit back and live the high life of a glorified author, like in a Jackie Collins novel.

We'd torture other agents for fun! Yes, this is my best fictional agent FRIDAY yet!

I've had the chance to interview Dr. Evil in his lair. I was a little nervous but he really is a teddy bear once you get to know him. Enjoy.


Charli: Good afternoon Dr. Evil

Dr. Evil: I don't know what's so frickin' good about it. I haven't killed anyone all morning. *He raises his pinkie to his lip*

Charli: Tell us about yourself.

Dr. Evil: "The details of my life are quite inconsequential... very well, where do I begin? My father was a relentlessly self-improving boulangerie owner from Belgium with low grade narcolepsy and a penchant for buggery. My mother was a fifteen year old French prostitute named Chloe with webbed feet. My father would womanize, he would drink. He would make outrageous claims like he invented the question mark. Sometimes he would accuse chestnuts of being lazy. The sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament. My childhood was typical. Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons. In the spring we'd make meat helmets. When I was insolent I was placed in a burlap bag and beaten with reeds- pretty standard really." (as depicted in Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery)

Charli: Oh, that sounds lovely. How do you see your life experiences shaping you as a literary agent?

Dr Evil: I don't. But I'm tired of reading frickin' crap, you know. Ever since Meyer stopped writing about Glittery vamps and werewolves there's nothing out there really.

Charli: Team Edward or Team Jacob?

Dr. Evil: Team Jacob. *Dr Evil and Charli fist tap*

Charli: Well, I write about love along the Jersey Shore.

Dr. Evil: I must kill you now. Lower the seat. *He calls out to Number 2*

Charli: WAIT! What did I say? *Charli grasps the arms of her chair. A shark with a laser beam appears. JAWS YOU FRICKIN' TRAITOR!*

Dr. Evil: Jersey Shore, really. They're all frickin' idiots.

Charli: Oh, no. Not that Jersey Shore. No Situations or Snookies in my book. It's just a love story.

Dr. Evil: No, fist pumps or beats the beats?

Charli: NO!

Dr Evil: No shirt before the shirts?

Charli: No way.

Dr. Evil: You may live. Now, believe it or not I adore a good LOVE STORY. I cried watching The Notebook.

Charli: Well, imagine all the love of that story with a little bit of family dysfunction thrown in there.

Dr. Evil: Oh, you mean like the Palins?

Charli: Sort of.

Dr. Evil: Oh, goody! I will call all the publishers and hold them ransom until the entire world has read your book.
Charli: YES!

Dr. Evil: One condition, if you novel is made into a movie, I get to play the hero. I'd make a good love interest, no?

Charli: Well, I guess you could pass for a Cuban contractor.

Dr. Evil: Wonderful. We'll do lunch.

Charli: How can other authors query you?

Dr. Evil: They can send me this thing called an email. Weird really. If I like it I will send my submarine to fetch them, if not I will blow them up. *Dr. Evil laughs, waits for all too join in*

Charli: Thanks, Dr. Evil.

WELL that's it for FICTIONAL AGENT FRIDAY.

Tune in next week. Who would you like to see, MADEA or PUNKY BREWSTER?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dinner with Jaws-WHAT THE FIN?

You thought someone was getting JAWSED. Well, you were wrong. All you got was this guy.

WHAT THE FIN is right. You just got HOSED.

I don't even know this poser.

Okay. We are slackers. HELLO McFLY type slackers. Tis September. We are busy with life in general, busy indeed. Kids, hubbies, bosses, parents, it never ends.

Oh, and writing of course.

I am winding down the first draft of my major rewrite, the first fifty are getting JAWSED for that partial.

JAWS is in the middle of a re-write herself. It's a HISTORICAL. She's like busy and stuff with research.

Life, writing, and critting for each other has left our poor wee blog flapping in the wind.

We are sorry.

You deserve better, our faithful followers.

So, do us a favor. What do you want to see, read, explore? Ledge Tuesdays? You enjoy my psychotic rants? Dinner with JAWS? You like blood-letting a wee bit? Grammar grind? You miss Fictional Agent Fridays? Contest info? What do you want people? This is your chance to JAWS this blog.

Let'er rip.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Wind up the PITCHES!

It's time to share your pitches. Yup that's right. Let's go people. If you do not have one for your own MS, make some up for your favorite books or movies. Tis' good practice.

You can post them all or just one. They do not have to be perfect, far from it. Here we can work on them.

This is a great way to really boil down what your story is about. It sounds scary but is fun, and quite addictive. If you don't try now, when will you? Chicken...Yup I called you chicken.

Just look at last week's posts for the examples of all three pitch types in great detail with examples.
Here are mine for BY GRACE ALONE:

MY ELEVATOR PITCH:
The heart of THE NOTEBOOK meets the family dysfunction of BROTHERS & SISTERS

MY PREMISE PITCH:
His wife left. Her husband died.
Can childhood friends and first loves rekindle more than the friendship they thought lost?
MY HIGH CONCEPT PITCH:
Lost love found along the Jersey Shore.

What are your thoughts about my pitches? JAWS me, if you dare!





Monday, September 13, 2010

ANOTHER VOICE ON VOICE

JAWS did a great post on voice the other day. I think my most recent stops and starts with re-writing my MS have been because of VOICE actually. I am too amped up about getting this partial right that I am losing my voice. What makes me as a writer, well, ME.

I am the AREA 6 Representative for Pennwriters. I know, sounds important. Well, it kind of is, to me anyways. Pennwriters is an organization for Pennsylvania writers. It's broken up into areas. I cover The entire City of Philadelphia, the surrounding suburbs, and people from Jersey and Delaware who are members. There are actually lots of members from outside PA, anyone can join really. They have a great annual conference. Janet Reid was there this year. Good stuff I assure ye.

We have lots of talented writers, lots. It's taken me a while, but I am trying to read up on all my local members. I got a great email from Mary Shafer, a pubbed author and member. She wished me luck as the new Rep. It was sweet. So, I check out her author website and blog. Boy was I glad I did.

She did a great post on voice. I had me looking at the topic from a different POV. The subject of her post just happened to be one of my favorite Reality Chefs, Anthony Bourdain. Love him or hate him, he is his own man, WITH HIS OWN VOICE. I love his voice, and I think he's kind of adorable, hot actually.

We think of voice, as fiction writers, as us. Everyone has a voice. Even non-writers. Even Grandma and that annoying neighbor who gets the morning paper in his barely tied robe. Gross, thank you. One word, MANSCAPING. I digress.

Mary said this on her post about voice, "Bourdain admitted in yesterday’s episode that he never 'agonizes over craft' in writing. He doesn’t need to. He’s not reaching for literary immortality. But his use of voice and language is so uniquely his own, I posit that his writing is at least as exciting and evocative as that of many classic novels."

YES MARY! YES! This is what I love about the man. I don't want to be some literary great. I mean if peeps are reading my work years from now, that'd be awesome. But, I just have this love story about two people on the Jersey Shore and their crazy families. I am so caught up in rejections, contests, and getting it right for this partial, that I am losing ME. MY VOICE.

You have to read this, it's such an eye opener on VOICE. The most important tool we have as writers. Agents and pubs are always looking for the next GREAT VOICE.

And, thanks Mary for the email. It really was sweet and by trying to get to know you better, I find out more about myself as a writer. Huh, imagine that.

Link to post: http://maryshafer.thewordforge.com/blog/?p=117

Here are some great clips of Anthony Bourdain. Listen to his voice...
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmUwXzcmHdA&feature=channel
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0iys-vgD6M&feature=channel

Sunday, September 12, 2010

I'm not so perfect with PAST PERFECT~GRAMMAR GRIND

I'd rather iron than brush up on my grammar. I'd rather be domestic. I am not that domestic. This is how much I hate GRAMMAR. But the judge from that contest is still in the back of my mind. "Once you get a better understanding of the English language..." Whatever, so here I am, learning with you.

Apparently when you write in the third person, I do, and your character recalls something they did in the past, you need the tense of the verb in the sentence to be PAST PERFECT. As soon as I heard that I cringed. VERB TENSES. This was the part of class where I'd raised my hand to go to the ladies room and check out my hair.

I had some eye opening crits when I started this whole writing thing and realized something. Somehow I mistook being PASSIVE for PAST PERFECT. I was GRAMMATICALLY INCORRECT.

I still struggle with PAST PERFECT as I write but at least I am conscious of it now. Grr, I hate grammar!

So, what I have been doing is READING. Not for pleasure but for research. I came across an excerpt in Domestic Affairs by Eileen Goudge. A great read BTW. Here PAST PERFECT made a little more sense to me.  (Below this passage you will find a text book grammar lesson. YAWN but necessary.)

"Vaughn tried to recall how he'd felt at the time. He hadn't been just another happy horny teenaged boy looking to score, that much he knew. The truth was, he'd been in love with Abigail. He had been, secretly, for quite some time before he'd made his move."

Here is the best lesson on PAST PERFECT I found on the web. For me it was the easiest to understand. I will post other links at the end of this post. The lesson is below.
http://www.wordpower.ws/grammar/gramch06.html



The Past Perfect tense is used to refer to a non-continuous action in the past, which was already completed by the time another action in the past took place. In the following examples, the verbs in the Past Perfect tense are underlined.

e.g. She had heard the news before I saw her.

I had finished my work by the time the clock struck twelve.

In the preceding examples, the verbs had heard and had finished are in the Past Perfect tense, and the verbs saw and struck are in the Simple Past. The use of the Past Perfect tense indicates that the actions of hearing the news and finishing the work were already completed by the time the actions expressed by the verbs in the Simple Past took place.

Formation

The Past Perfect tense is formed from the Simple Past of the auxiliary to have, followed by the past participle of the verb.

The Simple Past of to have is had. In spoken English, the auxiliary had is often contracted to 'd. For example, the Past Perfect of the verb to work is conjugated as follows:

Without Contractions With Contractions:

I had worked- I'd worked
you had worked -you'd worked

he had worked -he'd worked

she had worked -she'd worked

it had worked- it'd worked

we had worked- we'd worked

they had worked- they'd worked

The contraction it'd is less frequently used than the other contractions, since it is more difficult to pronounce.

Questions and negative statements

As is the case with other English tenses, questions and negative statements in the Past Perfect tense are formed using the auxiliary.

Questions are formed by placing the auxiliary before the subject. For example:

Affirmative Statement Question

I had worked. Had I worked?

They had worked. Had they worked?

Negative statements are formed by placing the word not after the auxiliary. For example:

Affirmative Statement Negative Statement

I had worked. I had not worked.

They had worked. They had not worked.

In spoken English (erm Dialogue for us), the following contraction is often used:

Without Contraction With Contraction

had not hadn't

Negative questions are formed by placing the auxiliary before the subject, and the word not after the subject. However, when contractions are used, the contracted form of not follows immediately after the auxiliary. For example:

Without Contraction With Contraction

Had I not worked? Hadn't I worked?

Had they not worked? Hadn't they worked?

Tag questions are formed using the auxiliary. In the following examples, the negative tag questions are underlined. Contractions are usually used in negative tag questions.

Affirmative Statement Affirmative Statement with Tag Question

I had worked. I had worked, hadn't I?

They had worked. They had worked, hadn't they?

The Past Perfect Continuous tense is used to refer to a continuous, ongoing action in the past which was already completed by the time another action in the past took place. In the following examples, the verbs in the Past Perfect Continuous tense are underlined.

e.g. I had been waiting for two months by the time I received the reply.

He had been thinking about his friends shortly before they called.

In the preceding examples, the verbs had been waiting and had been thinking are in the Past Perfect Continuous tense, and the verbs received and called are in the Simple Past. The use of the Past Perfect Continuous tense indicates that the actions of waiting and thinking were continuous, and were completed by the time the actions expressed by the verbs in the Simple Past took place.

\OKAY, I am confused but no longer so lost, if that makes sense. YOU GRAMMAR GURUS OUT THERE, PLEASE CHIME IN. I NEED YOU. Eh-hem. Especially, if all this is wrong!

Other great links on PAST PERFECT:

http://eslus.com/LESSONS/GRAMMAR/POS/pos3.htm
http://www.grammar-quizzes.com/
http://www.englishpage.com/verbpage/pastperfect.html

Saturday, September 11, 2010

THE HIGH CONCEPT PITCH

The last of the pitches, and the hardest, IMO. THE HIGH CONCEPT PITCH.

It's quick and catchy like the ELEVATOR PITCH but without ICONS. This pitch is really a play on words. Like a movie TAGLINE.

This needs to intrigue more than anything else. Entice. Force the person to pick up your book just to see what it's about.

Here are some iconic examples.

When you can live forever, what do you live for? TWILIGHT

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water. JAWS 2

In space, no one can hear you scream. ALIEN

Love means never having to say you're sorry. LOVE STORY

HERE IS MINE:
Lost love found along the Jersey Shore. BY GRACE ALONE

Can you create one for your novel? Recreate one for a favorite book or movie?

*Check out CJ Lyons' Website. These posts were inspired by what I learned in her query course.
http://cjlyons.net/extras/for-writers-2/

Friday, September 10, 2010

PREMISE PITCH

MY BOY COLE HAMELS. MAN CAN HE PITCH. AND HE'S HOT. HA CHA CHA!
HE'S THE PERFECT PITCH

But I digress. The PREMISE PITCH  is another way to hook someone, agents and editors to be precise, on the PREMISE of your book. According to CJ Lyons, the inspiration for these posts, it should be no more than 25 words.

It describes your plot, intrigues the readers, and gives off some sort of emotional tug. Movie summaries are great examples. You know, when you press info and that little blurb comes up.
No character names here. It's short and to the point and must leave the reader, agent, or whoever, needing to know more about your story.

Remember, these are ideas for writing conferences and events. We went over the elevator pitch yesterday. These are tools for you to have in your asrenal. When and where to use them is for you to figure out.

TWLIGHT:

The new girl in school is befriended by a hunk.  He’s a vampire, who wants to kiss and eat her at the same time.

My PREMISE PITCH for BY GRACE ALONE:

His wife left him and their son. Her husband died and she's pregnant. Can these childhood friends and first loves rekindle more than their friendship?

What do you have for me? I want to see your pitches.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

ELEVATOR PITCHES

To all aspiring scribes. I am breaking down the pitch tonight.

Imagine you are in the elevator at a conference or writing event. In walks your DREAM AGENT. *GULP* You have about ten seconds to pitch. And it better be good.

If you get the chance to corner a literary agent you only have a short window to sell your story. I took a query course recently, with NYT Bestseller CJ Lyons. Great class. Here is what I learned.

ELEVATOR PITCH: Quick. Easy. Memorable. This is not a summary of your entire book but what type of read it will be. Uses pop culture references/universal images.

The DaVinci Code: Indiana Jones meets Murder She Wrote.
Twilight:  Beverly Hills 90210 meets True Blood
A Walk to Remember:  Terms of Endearment meets Grease

For my first MS:
By Grace Alone: The Notebook meets Brothers & Sisters

What do you have for your novel? Let's see what ya got and chat about it. You just might get an agent with the perfect pitch.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

WHO IS SCREAMING AT YOU?

Voice.


Some are loud. Some are quiet. Some are soft, and some like to yell.


Charli likes to yell. I just bite.


But what is voice? Do you have one? Have you found it yet? No? Yes? Well now is not the time to divert your eyes and run around the house trying to chase it!


“Confident writers have the courage to speak plainly; to let their thoughts shine rather than their vocabulary.” Ralph Keyes


How many times have you found yourself in the midst of an idea only to stop and search the thesaurus for another word, something catchy, wordy? I’m guilty, and I bet you are too. Not only does the act halt your thought process it steals your voice. Often we feel compelled to use language that impresses our fellow writers, but why? Is this a-who-has-the-best-words-contest? No. It’s about voice.


YOUR voice, MY voice, the expression on WHO we are on the page.


Voice has to have courage to be original, to not follow the crowd and try to be like the bestsellers. Voice is not worrying about which word one uses, or not, its about the story, about just being YOU as you write. It means listening to your gut, despite the clamoring of other voices telling you to do what you’d rather not. I’m not saying there isn’t merit in advice, of course there is but, in the end, its YOUR story, and only you know how it can be told.


Unbeknownst to my inner storyteller, I’ve been struggling to find my voice since I began the query process. It is here that I feel as though the line between my voice in the query, and the story becomes blurred. I feel as though I lose myself in those few lines.


And I don't like it! Its like trying to capture the ocean in a bottle. There's no way its going to fit. But we try, we MUST! Because we have to allow our voice to shine through, to tempt the reader.


I’ve found my VOICE. Have you found yours? Did you have to find him/her kicking and screaming? Tell us! What are YOUR tricks?