Monday, August 30, 2010

For Your Viewing Pleasure (Warning: Contains Disturbing Image of Fish)

I was thinking of putting a picture on the blog. A picture of me, to be precise. Seeing as how I haven't been to Glamor Shots in awhile (not since I lost my cowboy hat and feather boa), I don't have much to choose from. How come your whole life is documented, minute by minute, up until age three, and then it's like you don't exist anymore?

There have been a couple of decent recent ones. The one from the Twins game in April (shout out to Target Field!) is pretty good, but fuzzy when trimmed (I know, usually trimming fixes that!). The one from the bar after the Twins game is better, except that my head looks about seven times too large for my body, which it isn't. The one from the wedding earlier this month is okay, but I'm wearing pink and I never (minus one) wear pink. Plus it would clash with my classy orange background.

So, instead of adding a picture of myself, I'll just share with you how totally freaky whole cooked snapper looks, fresh and bubbling from the oven.

I'm not posting it because it looks like me, or anything like that. I would just like to share with you how very goddamn sharp its teeth are and admit that, when I leaned over the pan to season the far side, I did suck in so that it wouldn't bite my soft underbelly. So, there you go. I guess I'll invest in another feather boa, but this time I've wearing a bowler.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Trends - Week Ending 8/27

I don't have much to say for myself today, so I'll toss out some things that I've noticed this week. Are they important? No. Were they notable? To me, apparently.

Others' use of the word "puny", as in:
  - I'm sitting here feeling rather puny.
  - I'm stuck with the puny one.
 - It's not that puny.

Also, if you say "puny" a lot, it starts to sound fake, and a little bit dirty.

My misspelling of the word "stockholders". So far we have "storkholders" (a gentle folk) and "sockholders" (you know, those eight foot tall crystalline structures that grow only in the deepest, darkest part of the ocean, smell faintly of mothballs and ginger and have a perfectly sock-shaped arm at the very top). Also, "stockette" came up once. I just wasn't paying attention that time.

People ringing me while I'm at Ye Olde Day Job, asking if I have a minute and, when I say "no", they launch into twenty minutes monologues barked in my general direction, but for which my participation is not actually required. To those people, I say: I set the phone down for most of that "conversation", so if you had any information that I actually need to know about, send me an email. Or, better yet, a singing telegram. Those never get old.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

It's Alive!

I'm putting my plot back together, and yes it is requiring bolts and stitches and, possibly, an arc welder (but it's more this than that). And it's going, which is a vast improvement over the paralysis of the last two weeks.

While paralyzed, I spent a lot of time watching scenes in my head of my characters going about their daily lives, water cooler interactions, puttering about the house on a lazy Sunday, standing in line at the grocery store, eating the warm carcasses of their fresh kills. You know, those little incidental things that, added up, turn days into weeks and so on.

So, I came through my paralysis with a much better understanding of what makes my MC tick, what lights her fuse, and what kinds of things are beneath her notice. I also now understand the people around her better, have seen them in their own contexts, which will likely never make it into a manuscript, but which are important. I've dropped a couple of peripheral characters, combined two, and enhanced two.

Secondary characters are necessary for most kinds of fiction. Some secondary characters work as props, bland, faceless dialog and bed partners. Others stride, roaring, onto the stage and jerk the reader straight out of the forward momentum of the plot. I'm not striving for a happy medium, just making sure that I have the right people at the right place for legit reasons, that they make sense and have some unique characteristics, that they don't all sound alike, and that sometimes they do unexpected things. And a couple of them have to be funny, at least to me. I can't abide a book full of serious characters, just as I can't abide a room full of serious people in real life.

I've still got both legs to attach and some internal organs to rearrange. *snaps on latex gloves* So, off I go.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

"Men who have never touched a whippet"

When I really, really need to decompress, I retreat to writing that I either read and loved during my formative years, or writing that took me hostage for hours or days, forced me to finish reading and left me with such a scalding case of Stockholm Syndrome that I still adore said works.

Today I had an overwhelming urge to reread certain Michael Ondaatje's Elimination Dance. It's an "intermission" in his book of poetry The Cinnamon Peeler. In other news, at the grocery store today I pointed out a four-foot tall stalk of dill to my son. In an interesting show of one-upmanship, he pointed to a grouping of red apples and said "cinnamon". Perhaps he thought they were very large motes of the spice. He's two. One never knows what he's thinking.

Anyway, in my mind an elimination dance (if it is a real thing) is like a game of Bingo, but the opposite. As each characteristic or experience is called out, those who have experienced it sit down. Presumably the one left at the end of the dance wins something fantastic like a matching dinette set. Note: this could be a fun alternative to Truth or Dare at bachelor(rette) parties, etc. What's odd is that I don't think I've read Elimination Dance in the last five years, but I remember certain items exactly, such as:

"Men who shave off beards in stages, pausing to take photographs"

"Anyone who has been penetrated by a mountie"

"Men who have never touched a whippet"

"Any writer who has been photographed for the jacket of a book in one of the following poses: sitting in the back of a 1956 Dodge with two roosters; in a tuxedo with the Sydney Opera House in the distance; studying the vanishing point on a jar of Dutch Cleanser; against a gravestone with dramatic back lighting; with a false nose on; in the vicinity of Macchu Pichu; or sitting in a study and looking intensely at one's own book"

I believe I've seen someone in a false nose, and he was not a children's author. Alternatively, I could have seen a number of photographs in which the authors wore false noses, but they were very good replicas and so I did not notice. So, I'm working on revisions while simultaneously enduring some kind of mind-altering head cold, and I was suddenly struck by the worry that I might end up with a ridiculous book jacket photo. And then, in a flash of horror and fear, I realized that if I never finish this revision, I won't ever have to worry about it. Being someone who likes having something real to worry about, I now crawl back into the revision cave.

Catch you all on the flip side.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Piroshkis, Crab Plates and Revisions (in that order)

I woke up at 7:00 this morning, notable because it was 7:00 PST (6:00 my time), I was on vacation and had attended a delightful party until late in the night. Those of you who know me know that I am not a morning person. I'm barely an early afternoon person, but I was inexplicably struck with the need to be productive. Overwhelmed by it. Monsignor Spouse and I cranked out some touristy things, shopped, became persons of interest to the security forces of the Seattle Port Authority (I swear, I was just taking pictures of the palletized loads of fresh produce going onto the cruiseliner, not scoping it with nefarious deeds in mind. The photos didn't turn out too good, but believe me when I say it takes a sh*tload of onions to fuel a cruise ship.), and had good coffee and great piroshkis.

All this did not satisfy my need to be productive, nor did hiking about in 90 degree weather (in Seattle, of all places!) sap my energy. Because, my dears, it is revision time. I received extensive notes from my agent a couple of weeks ago, followed by WIP paralysis. I've written a short story and a freaking novella in the last few weeks, but every time I sit down to work on the revisions *snap* I short-circuit.  Look, I'm even blogging to avoid revisions. Bad writer, no cookie.

But it's time. I can feel that the winds have changed. I have been thinking for the last couple weeks, non-systematically working through the list which, upon reading, was instantaneously burned into my brain. So, to all those people who thought a lobotomy was the reason for the vacuous expression I've been wearing and the way I haven't been acknowledging you when you're standing right in front of me, sorry. But, you see, I was thinking. And the thoughts have coalesced and are now pushing. My hands have begun to twitch with the need to get these thoughts out.  So, it begins. Wish me luck.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Oh, the HugeManatee (hint: sounds like Humanity)

I was woken up early the other morning by the spouse's alarm. He had a golf date. Why did I have to wake up for that? Unknown. Was it raining? Heh. Yes. I reached for my buhberry, because I'm addicted to it. Also, I have really poor eyesight and have to bring a clock to within an inch of my eyes to see what time it is. It was an ungodly early hour and, worse, I had an email. Well, several, but I only recall the one.

It was...deep breath...a short story rejection. I'd had a ss on a short list for a few months and it was time for them to either select it or send its remains back to its maker. They chose the latter in a very polite and encouraging form rejection. Did I bury it? Did I bury my head under the pillow and go back to sleep (which I should have done, it being obscenely early)? No. I ran down to my computer and started searching for the next market to which I would send it. We do not dwell, gentle readers. We move on. Because, you know, life is short.

I then skimmed through my file of short story ideas and starts, looking for a project that I could (ha!) quickly perfect and submit to this market to show them how very sorry they were to have dismissed me. (Please remember that this was early in the morning, before my civility or professionalism had risen.) Instead I was faced with documents with titles such as "Lawn Zombies", "Erotic Card Game", "Diminutive French Girl in a Box" and "Naive Demon YA Start". Startled, and having no idea what these files could possibly contain, I simply backed away.

The mind boggles. "Naive Demon Young Adult"? I'm considering deleting it unexplored.

And what dirty or flummoxing concepts do you have hidden out of sight and mind, dear readers?