Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Truth Be Toldeth

2004 after a 10-year anniversary refurb

She be pink - I not lieth. My most favorite (non-human) thing in the whole world is my 1976 Volkswagen Bug that I've owned since I was 16 years old (She was pink then, too). Yep, she's my first car and I still own her. I don't get to drive her regularly (not really a car that holds car seats very well), but I do get her out in spring and summer most years. I blogged about her once. More pictures HERE.

I asked my sister which one she thought was the lie and she said, "Well obviously your sense of humor about trivial things." My response to that was, "Really? I think I have a pretty good sense of humor." She said, "You do! Just not at first. It takes a minute for your sense of humor to come out." I guess I was lying about that? I didn't mean to, so this doesn't count as the lie because I still think it's the truth.

I finally told my husband I'm planning to shave my head when and if my mom loses her hair due to her chemo. He said, "Great! I think you should, as long as you let me shave it." YIKES! This is coming from a man who bought an extension to our Dyson vacuum to brush our dog's hair. Deal is OFF if he comes near me with the vacuum cleaner, that's all I'm saying.

Depending on how you look at it, when I said I stopped going outside last year, I wasn't lying. In comparison to how often the neighbors, my kids and my husband saw me outside in The Cul-de-Sac I really don't go out anymore. I think I over did myself when I was making appearances amongst the neighbors. I got burned out. There are only so many new and interesting things the neighbors have to talk about when all the wives stay home for a living. I threw in the towel when gossip reached its peak in my neighborhood. The neighbors weren't the only reason. I stopped going outside when hubby came home from work because I wanted a break and spent that time writing.

Speaking of neighbors. You wouldn't think a person who would take time to measure water coming out of my front spout from my back yard and into the gutter could exist outside of the movie, The Burbs starring Tom Hanks but it's true. My neighbor is obsessed with pointing out what's wrong with everyone else so no one will focus on what's wrong with him and his family. Not that I'm implying there is anything wrong. How would I know? I don't go outside anymore. Haha!

I do live in a cul-de-sac and the neighbors do refer to it as The Cul-de-Sac and we refer to their street as The Straight Street. My sister reminded me of how they used to call it The Cult-de-Sac. What can I say? Cul-de-sac people rule! We have our own private street and we look sideways when cars make a wrong turn into it. I guess it's kind of cult-ish. But we do put on the best and only haunted house in the community.

The true blade of misfortune really is the house down the street from me we call The Hanger House. The wife of the original owner hung herself in the gargage just before Christmas 2 years ago. Luckily, after a year on the market, the house has finally sold. I'm not sure though why a single woman would buy that house. Would you intentionally buy a house you knew someone committed suicide in? And then when I met this woman she mentioned working with someone who talks to the dead. Ahhhhh! I think she's trying to out-do my annual haunted house, what do you think?

It's true that dancing to the beat of my own drummer annoys people but I actually don't care. Eff them if they can't take a joke. The lie is within the blending. Blending is like following and in the excellent words of the rap artist, M.I.A. "You can be a follower but who is your leader?" If I start blending now I would be following someones lead which has been against my policy since birth. I enjoy being an individual and I hope all of you artists out there are enjoying your individuality as well. Don't be afraid to stand out from the crowd.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

It Was Definitely a Challenge!

It's not easy putting together a post that has to be less than 300 words and incorporate one lie, one secret, one interesting quirk, one annoying habit, one of my best character traits, one of my favorite things in the whole world and include the following words: bloviate, fuliguline, rabbit, and blade. It was definitely a challenge. Check out how other Crusaders fared in this First Crusader Challenge by going HERE.

Now for my version of the challenge:

I don’t live in high society but some of my bloviating neighbors think we do. When I shave my head to support my mother’s fight against cancer those same neighbors might think I’m doing it for unwarranted attention. They don’t get me. I would warn them but what’s the point? A little shock value goes a long way in this world. I’m quirky like that.

I’m not sure what my husband will think because I haven’t discussed it with him yet. I imagine he’ll say, “Fuliguline, Patty! You’re freaking bald!” He’ll get over it. He gets me.

I live in a cul-de-sac outsiders call The Cul-De-Sac which is just off of the street all of us inside The Cul-de-Sac call The Straight Street. My house is three doors down from The Hanger House; a blade of misfortune in my opinion. I like it here. We all bred like rabbits and now when my three kids go outside there are thirty other kids for them to play with.

Last year I stopped going outside. It would be rude for me to blame it on my neighbors, so I won’t. I’m just going to say I don’t enjoy hearing my neighbor say he measured a quarter-cup of water pouring into the gutter from our backyard every hour and wants to know what we’re going to do about it.

I’m not sure why but I’ve found that dancing to the beat of my own drummer annoys people. That’s why I started blending recently. I’m not sure why I’ve never done this before. It’s relaxing. However, I think that means I’m going to have to give up driving my favorite pink car around if I want to truly blend in. Having a good sense of humor about the trivial aspects of life is probably my best trait.

I may have revealed something about me that isn’t strictly true. Can you guess what it is?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Put the Damn Thing Away Already!

I have to say that to myself sometimes. PUT THE DAMN THING AWAY ALREADY!

I used to hate the advice about shelving your WIP and getting back to it weeks or months later because I thought, I'M READY NOW! I wrote it. I edited it. I packaged it up with a really great query and even have a pretty darn good synopsis to go with it. Why shelve it when I'm pumped enough to query NOW?

I hate to admit when I'm wrong and all the advice is right. So I'm not going to say that. I'm just going to let you know it's there in the back of my mind and I'm fully prepared to allude to it. (Hey, stubborn people can get far in life just like everyone else.)

NaNo had this really great way of forcing me to shelve that WIP I really thought was ready to go as well as a tiny bit of feedback I received on  a partial I sent out last June.

Now, my advice to everyone else is since you've written your book and edited it, maybe put a query together and a rockin' synopsis, SHELVE IT!

You have at least twenty other story ideas to write, get to it. That's what I did. I wrote two other books while I was letting my first book marinate.

Now I'm back to the first book and ready to query the second book which marinated while I wrote the third book. See how the cycle goes?

Maybe, if I'm lucky, within the year I could have three books ready to query. Who knows?


(P.S. Hello and welcome new followers and Crusaders! I'm about to go around and return the follow and start getting to know all of you a bit better. I'm not a daily blogger. At most I get out and around the blogs twice per week. I usually only blog once per week as well. If you have an Email Subscription box on your blog then know that I'll be following via email. I tend to focus my short window of spare time on my WIP's. If you don't have an Email Subscription box and want to know how to put one up, email me and I'll let you know.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Rach Writes and Has An Awesome Crusade

I'm a Crusader.

I might not be an excellent Crusader (there were things I missed and times I spent away) but I'm a Crusader all the same.

Are you a Crusader?

What's that you say? Oh, okay, let me back up a bit and include some linkage.

A Crusader is a writerly blogger who has stumbled upon Rachael Harrie at Rach Writes and has noticed that she leads the most awesome Writer's Platform Building Crusade in the world. I'm not exaggerating.

Crusaders sign up and meet other Crusaders who vow to support each other in the blogging and writing community by way of comments.

Personally, I've met some of the nicest people in the blogging community this way.

I thought maybe I was going to skip the second round of crusading because I recently found out my mom is suffering from Stage IV Pancreatic Cancer and life has become somewhat overwhelming. However, the first round of Crusaders have been so supportive during this fragile time of my life that how could I pass up the opportunity to be part of this amazing community again?

I didn't REALLY feel like a blogger until the first round of Crusading. I would be completely lost and feeling left out if I didn't join again.

I'm a Crusader. That's who I WANT to be. Where do you fit in? Where do you belong? YOU BELONG WITH THE CRUSADERS! NOW GET YOUR BUTT OVER THERE AND SIGN UP.

Happy Writing, Writers! Can't wait to make your aquaintance soon.

Monday, February 7, 2011

You Have to Be A Really Good Sifter

It's true. Sure, you have to know how to write first, but we're beyond that, right? Among other things we know all too well, we have to have patience, an open mind, an eye for detail, a voice, etc. Been there, done that, checked it off my list, now what?

We have to be really good sifters. That's what comes after everything we already thought of.

Sifting is a skill required for getting through revisions, edits, critiques, etc.

Actually sifting runs deep. For ladies we are just beginning to learn how to sift when all that baby advice comes into play (do this, don't EVER do that and you'll be just fine). For men, sifting is what you start doing when you get engaged and all your married buddies have all kinds of advice on marriage. You realize at some point (usually years later) that most of the advice didn't really apply to your situation.

If you don't have kids and you aren't married then you might not understand these versions of sifting, don't worry, you're a writer. Your book is like a child and a marriage all wrapped into one. You've likely already been told what to do and what not to do and you've decided there's no way you can get it done without breaking some of those rules or going against parts of that advice, that's when you start sifting.

Let's say you put your query or the first 250 words of your story on a blog fest or forum. You know you're going to get comments and you're pretty sure some of them aren't going to be very nice. That's when you decide that you have to have a thick skin for this business so you'll take whatever you get, or you're waiting for some kind of external approval on your skill and if that means revisions then so be it. Before you go to such extremes think about what kind of commenters you're going to get.

Commenters are such interesting people. Some are doing it because the forum mandates a certain amount of participation via comments. Some commenters just love to go around and create controversy and spark confusion. Some are just being nice and are there solely to show their support so they won't have much in the way of constructive feedback. Some commenters are reading your posting first and some are reading your post after they've already used up all their judicious perspective on 40 other posts before yours. Some are awake and some are half asleep. Some are taking a break from a frustrating part of their own stories and are taking out their frustration on your piece. Some commenters just received seven of their own negative comments and need to prove a point. How can you know for sure what kind of commenter you're getting? BY KEEPING ALL THIS IN MIND AND SIFTING.

While sifting consider these points:
  1. Automatically dismiss any criticism that comes from commenters who replace words like 'the' for 'da' and have nothing but harsh things to say about what you've posted. That's a Keyword Dismissal. It might not be DA that ticks you off it might be some other careless word. Odds are pretty good that commenters that don't use proper English aren't going to have the type of knowledge or opinion that will have much of a bearing on the success of your writing.
  2. Tactless. If your query or portion of your story has been commented on and the commenter has just ripped you apart and shown, in bullet points (who knew a commenter could use bullet points), how you should have done it and they can't find even one good thing in your writing then DISMISS this comment. There's no need for anyone to be harshly critical about something they've only read a snippet of. And if they can't find anything good in your writing but think they could do it better then you know right away they are teachers and not doers. What if they've never even written a book before? What if they're just bloggers and not writers at all? What is their credential? Why should this comment matter to you?
  3. They start with, "I don't read this genre, but. . ." Be wary. They might be nice and they might have some creative advice but if they don't read Sci-Fiction or Paranormal and that's what you write then how do they know for sure your snippet isn't realistic for your character or that parts of your story don't make sense? If a commenter only reads adult fiction then how would they know if your character sounds more MG than YA? SIFT WRITERS SIFT.
  4. Conflicting advice should be taken with a grain of salt as well. The commenter may be too tired from reading several other posts and then reaches yours and gives you two pieces of advice that don't make sense. Realize you're not getting fresh eyes or an open mind and should move on to the next comment.
  5. Short Story Comments. To me, any comment that begs for more information inside of 250 words is a short story commenter. If they wanted to see more of this, or wished the character would hurry and do whatever inside of 250 words, they are, more or less, asking you to sum up thousands of words into a short story. Twilight is the best example for this. During the first 250 words of Twilight we realize the MC is a dark/negative character who is moving away from her "hair-brained mother" to a small town she's always hated just to live with her dad. That's it. A negative girl moving. Inside of 250 words she doesn't tell us why she's moving, what she's leaving behind other than her mother (no boyfriends, friends, etc.), whether or not she has siblings, etc. And who cares? Not me. I'm a patient reader. I know the MC has a purpose, that the story is about to get exciting, that other characters are going to come into play, I trust the writer. I don't need a lot of info in the first 250 words.