Monday, May 31, 2010

The Time Has Come (Oh God, Oh God, We're All Gonna Die)

The time has come, the walrus said, to think of other things. Of madness and hair-pulling and head-banging, of cabbages and kings. That’s right, folks. It’s query time!

Manuscript number one was met with a lukewarm reception. But never fear, manuscript three has advised that it is ready to go. Manuscript two was abandoned 2/3’s of the way through and I had to send a search and rescue team in to find the plot. So, while it recovers from neglect, I will send ms#3 out into the world.

I’m exposing the query to one last critique while I assemble and prioritize my agent list. And then I shall track my response stats here. I might even be honest about them. So, if you want to follow the trials and tribulations, the ups and downs, and the descent of a once-rational writer into madness, you may want to subscribe to the blog.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Recipe Time! Huli Huli Chicken

It's Memorial Day Weekend (almost) or, as we refer to it around the house, grillin' time (we never call it that). In honor of the men and women who have honorably served (and continue to serve) our country, I offer up a marinade. I know it's not much, but I offer it with feeling.

This is my version of a Hawaiian marinade often accompanied by small children on the side of the road calling out the best sales pitch I've ever hear: "Huli Huli Chicken...Buy it!" It has just under 700 ingredients, but most you will find around your home. Just check outside, under the rocks and moss.

Huli Huli Chicken

1 Whole, Cut-Up Chicken plus 6 Legs (or Equivalent)
1/3 C. ketchup
1/3 C. soy sauce (regular sodium)
1/4 C. brown sugar
1/4 C. sherry
1/4 C. honey
2 t. minced ginger root
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 t. Worchestershire sauce
1 T. lemon juice
2 T. sesame oil (not toasted)
1 t. Sriracha (optional or to taste - this is a Thai hot sauce)

Whisk together all ingredients except chicken. Reserve 1/2 C. and add chicken to remainder. Marinate at least 1/2 hour. Grill, brushing on reserved marinade. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fusion - It's Not Just a Way to Add Aioli to Your Sushi

I’m rewriting the first half of a manuscript. This is not your father’s revision (assuming your father wrote a novel and revised it without dumping scores of content and backing up in his narrative until he found a more appropriate starting point *breathes*).

One of my main characters was flat. Static. Lifeless (not a vampire pun). He did things and he went places. But he didn’t breathe the air or inhabit the rooms I walked him into. Not any longer. He breathes. He bleeds, quite profusely at times. He hates and he wants, sometimes at the same time. He has appetites, fears, obligations and frustration from those obligations. Glory me, he’s a real boy.

Now, I have to integrate his solider self and his new chapters with the hundred and fifty existing pages. This, gentle readers, is AWFUL. I have consistency issues and revelation issues, and conversations that had taken place on Tuesday now take place on Sunday. But, goodness if the stakes didn’t just go up in this story. Good thing we've got a long weekend coming up.

Listening to: Scarlett Johansson (I know, right?) – Falling Down

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

LOST Finale: Not Gonna Do It

I haven’t watched the final episode of LOST, and it’s not because of some zombie satellite (Most awesome thing ever to interrupt TV. watching. I just get stinky diapers and whiny cats). I don’t want to watch it. Why? Is it because the final season is frustrating? What show, after eleventy billion good seasons, wouldn’t have some trouble wrapping itself up? Nope, not that. Is it because I don’t have time? No. If I wanted, I could make time. Not, literally invent time. I could just, you know, arrange my schedule to accommodate.

I think it’s because, if I watch it, it’s really over. And like so many other people, I don’t want to stop watching these stories. We have something like two hundred channels, and flipping through the channels is usually more interested than watching any of them. At least, it is for me. I think it drives my husband crazy because I can (and will) literally do it for hours.

But I liked these stories. I liked these people. They were like an extensive cast from my favorite books, the ones I’d hunker down with and read over and over. And if I watch that two and a half hours, it’ll be the last two and a half hours I’ll have with them. Sure, we’ll always have Paris, but we’ve been to Paris. I want to know what they’re doing after Paris.

Actually, if Ben Linus could just get a spin-off show, I’d watch that. I don’t care what the premise is or who the supporting cast is. Whatever they come up with, it would still be some of the best watching out there. Maybe he could play a scientist who unleashes the virus that starts the zombie satellite apocalypse…

Listening to: Andrew Bird

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's Revision Time *sob*

The creature stalked through the underbrush, her human impulses numb and dull behind the new, sharp feral instincts. The desire to slash. The craving for destruction. She spied her prey, froze, one curled hand in the air. It was…revision time.

Rewrite time, actually. The WIP is getting shredded, going down tonight in a blaze of gory glory. I’ve got two events that should be back to back and, instead, have about eighty pages between them. So long you eighty beautiful, plot-pointless pages. We’ll see you in the big hereafter.

I like revising. Rewriting, however, is kind of a kick to the gut. But, the story will be better (as in, readable) because of it. And, you know, I’ll never miss the forty hours I put into those pages. Nope, won’t miss them at all. *sob*

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Worst Part of Rejection, I

Receiving a rejection inside of an SASE that you hand-addressed. It's like a rejection from yourself.

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the End

So I was reading a (what else?) folk tale in a translation of Italo Calvino’s Italian Folktales. Something happened. It might have involved cat and/or child, a glass of wine and a momentary lapse in motor skills. I dropped the book, but thought I caught it on the page I had been reading. I finished the story. In true Calvino style, it was clever, utterly ridiculous and told with a kind of deadpan straightforwardness that somehow seals the deal on makebelievability.

Later I realized I had not caught the book on the right page, but rather had begun one title and finished another. They each had a spoiled princess as the protagonist. Oddly, I feel no need to go back and finish the first story or begin the second.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gearing Up

I pulled the dusty cover off the machine, tightened the bolts and oiled the hinges. We’re T-minus 30 (days) for blast off. What am I sending into orbit, you ask? Oh, just my heart, my sanity and my future. No big deal.

Writing is, for me, a solitary pursuit. Except for my brass scarab and two re-donk-ulous cats, I work alone. And often in the dark, in the cracks between obligations and duties and the little pleasures. I steal words I like. I gratefully take support, the crumbs that are thrown my way.

I’m preparing to query my second manuscript. The first was ignored by many agents and one editor, and evaluated by a few, most of whom have tossed it back. Too small, that fish. Not ready for the frying pan, yet. I’ll get back to it someday, see if I can’t plump it up to appealing proportions.

My main character amuses me, and my heart goes out to her in both her na├»ve moments and her violent ones. The plot arc is clear, with plausible twists. The secondary characters have lives off the page, and those lives make them better, stronger. Not smarter, in at least one case. I’ve invented what I think is an original type of creature.

I like second manuscript, which is why this launch is probably going to hurt. “They” don’t make crash-helmets for the heart or the ego. If “they” did, “they’d” make a lot of money. Look into to, guys.

LISTENING TO: COLD WAR KIDS

Monday, May 17, 2010

Don't Let Life Get in the Way

This is going to be a quick post since this week is starting off with a bang and will end with, I don’t know, something catastrophic (but in a good way).

Just some quick encouragement to everyone who can’t find the time to get to, or has been putting off, THE DREAM. You know the one. That thing you think of, starry-eyed and smiley, when you have a moment to yourself. That thing that, back when you were idealistic and full of energy you proclaimed (even if it was only in your head) you would accomplish in your lifetime.

It’s not too late. Leave the dishes. Turn off the telly. Stretch and crack your knuckles, and GET ON IT. Don’t let life get in the way of THE DREAM.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

My Characters Have Formed a Union...and Made Demands

So I’ve been creeping – barely crawling – through a slash-and-burn rewrite of a partial manuscript I (electronically) shelved a few months back. I thought about my darling characters occasionally, feeling bad for the terrible position I left my female protagonist in, and the confused and lonely state where dwelled my poor fellow. But, you see, they wouldn’t obey. The words I wrote for them, they scoffed at. The situations I put them in, they ignored, preferring instead to sidle up to one another. They wanted (the bloody, stubborn &(%@*$) to be in a ROMANCE NOVEL.

I didn’t know what to do. I don’t write romance. I blush during love scenes. I deplore the cocky alpha male and the female who falls at his feet despite being smart, feisty, capable and super-freaking hot. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

They persisted, the fundamentals of their story (those they allowed) remaining intact and beckoning. And, I’ve relented. We recently sat down together at a round table in the banquet room of an all-night diner, the wallpaper yellowed with age and Moons Over My Hammy steam, and we talked it out. I’m allowing them to get together. They’ll get their freaking “happily ever after”. But I’m going to punish them for it. Their worst nightmares. No, worse than their worst nightmares. To borrow from (with some alterations) The Princess Bride:

Dear Characters:
You truly love each other and so you might have been truly happy. Not one couple in a century has that chance, no matter what the story books say. And so I think no couple in a century will suffer as greatly as you will.

It’s going to be quite a write, quite a ride, and quite a read.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It Came From the...Fridge

A spot of dark red something stained the bottom shelf on the refrigerator door, like a sticky birthmark. She looked at it for a moment, and then shrugged and shut the door, leaving it for another time.

In the cold, it bided its time. A half-blood child of darkness and ketchup (not catsup, though, which doesn’t sound like it's spelled), it grew. It attached scouts, small pieces of its own abandoned self, to the bottom of milk jugs and liquid D vitamins (available at Costco). One day, when the light shined again, it would strike. Until then, it waited.

She set the cooled casserole on the shelf above the crisper, pleased that it had come out so well. Out of the corner of her eye, she noted the red stain. Had it grown? It seemed…fuller than before. At once darker and more vivid. She leaned down, reaching her slim hand toward it. Reaching…

It was time, it thought malevolently. Time to strike. Too late, it saw the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser in her hand...


So, I cleaned the refrigerator today. It was disgusting, full of expired condiments, and multiple open jars of the same, damn kind of pickle. At one point, I swear something growled at me and possible raised its little, three-fingered dukes into a fight stance. I considered calling the EPA, or maybe FEMA, but in the end relied on good old, American ingenuity for creating household weapons of destruction and Cloroxed it. Score one for the good guys.

So, this is a reminder: add cleaning out the refrigerator to your spring cleaning list.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Better! (didn't even know I was sick)

Last week I got the impression that someone thought I had leukemia. It wasn’t something I overheard at a dinner party, where one haughty woman wearing a giant, floral hat leaned over to another woman whose plastic face-alterations were slipping and said: “Oh, Gladys, look at that girl. Surely she has…the leukemia.”

No. I went into an urgent care for an acute illness, and an anomalous result on a blood test indicated that I was, you know, not doing so well. I was more concerned with my urgent matter, so when the clinic kept calling me during the week to ask how I was and then asked me to come back for a follow-up test, all after I got to feeling better, I grew somewhat concerned.

The follow-up test has confirmed that I am not at the tail-end of a lengthy terminal illness, which I was glad to discover. It got me to thinking, though…what things do I need to take care of, stat? I should probably put a will together. You know, so that nobody has to fight over all the original Rembrandts I have laying around, the villa in the Seychelles or my collection of prize-winning giant miniature ponies.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

UFC 113 - Yes, I AM Blogging About This

As promised, my first post on the wide world of sport. Last night, in preparation for Mother’s Day, we watched UFC 113. The main event was crazy. Mauricio Rua came out with none of the caution he exhibited in his first match against Lyoto Machida, a disputed match which the judges said he lost. He wasn’t reckless. No concern that Machida would pull some kind of disorienting and indefensible karate. No. Rua outgunned Machida and knocked him out in the first round. My only complaint about that fight is that it was too short.

The Jeremy Stevens-Sam Stout fight was excellent, in part because Stout looked so overmatched early by the fast and furious Stevens, but rallied and went the distance. This battle deserved the Fight of the Night honors.

The Fight that Sucked Last Night was the Josh Koscheck-Paul Daley match. It was a Big Fight, in that both fighters were vying for a spot on The Ultimate Fighter and a chance to go up against the phenomenal and lovely GSP. I understand that they were trying to play up their bad-boy images. What I don’t understand is when the definition of “bad boy” was changed to include play-acting which I equate, at least during a sporting event, to lying. I understand that soccer has a whole culture of it, some of which has crept into other sports. But Koscheck faking receiving a knee to head while down on hands and knees, when there was very clearly no contact, seems kind of…this is a family blog, so I won’t us the 5-letter word that starts with a “P” that I was thinking of. Unacceptable.

Then, of course, Daley punched him after the match in a purely classless act. Yeah, he was frustrated at Koscheck outmatching him on the ground, at the childish act Koscheck put on, at losing the opportunity for the TV gig and the fight…but a professional fighter cannot do something so blatantly irresponsible that it was possibly illegal. Wouldn’t be surprised if he’s out of the UFC. Sadly, now we’ll all have to put up with Koscheck on The Ultimate Fighter. Hopefully he’ll remember to pause in his antics occasionally to help the up-and-coming fighters in his camp.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Break it Down Again

I’m writing a short story about figures from Greek mythology stuck slogging about on Earth in the present. Hint: it’s not just the Greek economy that’s collapsed. Also, there is a train in it. I’ve always considered trains sweet and romantic even though, in my experience, they are also rickety and good targets for drunk soccer (excuse me: football) fans with empty beer bottles while pulling into and out of stations in Italy. Also, one time a guy in France…never mind. Not appropriate for this venue.

This short story is part of the childish “no…no…no…not gonna” phase that I go through when I’m just about to wrap up a manuscript and start sending it out to see if anyone wants to represent it. I was feeling good last week after reading that Urban Fantasy writer Jenna Black wrote eighteen novels before breaking through to publication. Then I almost had a mental seizure when I considered that I might have to write fifteen and a half more (I remember you, you strange UF that wanted to turn into a Romance) before I get anywhere. Then again, I once created seven versions of a PowerPoint presentation before I got it just the way I wanted it. And that was just a freaking PowerPoint. I can’t even remember what it was about.

So, this short story will have its day. And then it’s back to the bigger ticket item, and checking my email twenty times a day and biting my fingernails and locking my keys my car while it’s still running. Oh, wait. I finally have a car where I can’t lock the keys in while it’s still running. Thank God for Honda and small favors.

So I’m off. This once-esteemed Goddess isn’t going to depress herself (That’s the story. I don’t call myself a Goddess).

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

From Woe to Wow (and other stupid titles)

I have been suffering from a stomach ailment. It started with acute and dreadful symptoms and is now more like a lazy houseguest. It lays about eating Utz Pub Mix, flipping channels and leaving its dirty socks in my way while I’m trying to work and/or pace (Which is a pre-working exercise during which I try to get my brain to wrap itself around POUS/S: problems of unusual size/scope).

An odd response to this malady is that I’m obsessively drawn toward any television programming having to do with food. In fact, if I am in front of the set, I’m attentively flipping back and forth between two programs at the same time. Why? I have no appetite. When I do eat, I can only eat small amounts of pretty bland food. So why this obsession? I don’t know. Why did Eve eat the apple?

I’ve also been cooking a lot, in part to make food I can actually tolerate. I am currently awaiting my slow cooker’s beep to alert me it’s time to take the potato-leek-collard green soup out and blend it to smithereens. Yes, I did say collard greens. Will it be good? I have no idea. It smells good. I just finished a batch of pumpkin-apricot muffins (Nuffins, if my son is reading this, which I doubt he is because he can’t read. It’s not a problem. He’s only two and he’s not Robert Titzer’s kid.) And I baked chicken and then hacked it up and made chicken salad out of it. I debated adding apple to my chicken salad. I’ve had it and enjoyed it, but wasn’t sure it would go over well with the Household.

So, to answer the question you’ve surely been asking: Yes, you can catch what I have by reading this blog. If by “what I have” you mean a desire to cook mouthwatering food. The stomach bug probably does not travel electronically.