Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm Mad At Writers Who Kill Off Characters

I want to know what magnificent source...what God of Literature said that it is okay to kill off beloved characters.  Tell me this person's name because they're full of crap and I want them to know they are full of crap.  My post yesterday about Vincent Nigel-Murray being killed off in BONES I think is at the root of my recent feelings regarding this topic.  I LIKED that character and him being thrown down the tubes so that the bad guy that Booth has to face off against is even more evil is just plain stupid. People can argue, "Oh killing off a character makes it more realistic and is better because it shows the writer isn't willing to compromise to keep someone alive."
Oh yeah? How is it better?  Bones lost a viewer.  I'm not going to watch the seventh season. How's them apples?  Have I done this before?

You betcha.

DEEP SPACE NINE--STAR TREK.  The writers killed off Jadzia Dax and I was furious. FURIOUS. I stopped watching.  Rogue Mutt asked me in my Star Trek compilation why Deep Space Nine got no love.  The reason...the whole series got tainted in my eyes despite all the great stuff they did when they killed off Jadzia.

Amber a.k.a. Cutthroat Bitch
In HOUSE...the writers killed off Cutthroat Bitch.  Yeah that really was her name (done by House of course).  But my point is that she LOVED Wilson. She was a brilliant doctor. And they frickin' killed her off and I cried and the series hasn't been the same since.  I love Thirteen which is why I keep coming back to watch House but she's sick so the writers have probably got her death tacked up on a scorecard somewhere. Good thing that it's in season seven cause if I quit watching once they kill her off, then the series is over anyway.

I didn't like it when Robb Stark died in A Storm of Swords.  I think George R.R. Martin went way to frickin' far with that. And you know what? His first three books may have been masterpieces, but A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons have been crap.  Some of this is (I think) because Robb Stark IS DEAD!  He wrote himself into that corner because with Robb alive, the Lannisters would still have someone to fight against and he wouldn't have had to go into the whole Greyjoy thing.

Now I admit, there are times when death is necessary.  Charlotte in Charlotte's Web needed to die because her species of spider dies every year. That's just nature.  Obi-Wan Kenobi needed to die so that he could lead Luke to Yoda and be with him in the cockpit to destroy the Death Star.  Dumbledore needed to die because J.K. Rowling wrote herself into a corner by making Dumbledore more powerful than Voldemort. With him around, NOTHING COULD HAPPEN.  But you writers out there who are rubbing your hands together saying, "I'm going to kill off this character because it will tug at the heartstrings of all my readers" followed by an evil cackle--THAT IS NOT A REASON TO KILL SOMEONE OFF.  Yes, you will get this reaction and then I WILL HATE YOU FOR IT.  You will lose a reader because I will get mad.  Think very carefully about who you axe in your books because I am not alone.  Make sure the death is necessary please.

Meaningless death is meaningless.  There is a reason I read fiction.  In everyday life, people for no reason at all end up dead over something as stupid as a fish bone in the throat.  When I read, I don't want real life.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


So I've been watching Alphas on SyFy and I really like this show. It has Ryan Cartwright in it (which was a big plus for me) because I loved him as Vincent Nigel-Murray in Bones and was really sad when he got killed in the last season of Bones. /sniff

Why did he have to die? Why couldn't it have been Wendell?
I love the way British guys talk.

I think that having him playing a character with severe autism brings out his true acting ability as he is obviously supressing his strong accent (a feat I'm sure that is difficult).

If you don't know what Alphas's a summary:

Alphas is an action-packed thriller from writers Zak Penn (The Avengers, X-Men: The Last Stand) and Michael Karnow. In the series, five ordinary people are brought together to form one extraordinary team of Alphas -- people with the unique power to stretch the capabilities of the human mind giving them superhuman physical and mental abilities.

Operating within the Defense Criminal Investigation Service of the U.S. Department of Defense and led by preeminent neurologist and psychiatrist Dr. Lee Rosen (Emmy Award-winner and Academy Award-nominee David Strathairn), an expert in Alpha phenomena, the team investigates cases that point to others with Alpha abilities. As they work against the clock to solve this new brand of crime, they must prevent their own personality differences and disparate backgrounds from interfering with their ultimate mission to catch the enemy.

In addition to Academy Award nominee David Strathairn (Temple Grandin, Good Night, and Good Luck), the ensemble cast stars Malik Yoba (New York Undercover, Why Did I Get Married?), Warren Christie (October Road), Laura Mennell (Watchmen), Ryan Cartwright (Mad Men, Bones) and Azita Ghanizada (Castle).

It's on every Monday and you guys should watch it and be Alphas fans with me :))

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Miracle Exemption

I had a debate with my friend James by Skype this weekend about what really worked in the sci-fi movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes.  He pointed out that the miracle examption is done really well and that it brings the story full circle by the end, making it a thoughtful, provoking film.  So that's where I got my blog post for today.

If your story is not grounded in reality, you really only get one miracle exemption (including more may ask too much of the reader but you never know--it is a risk though). This is the thing that the reader is expected to swallow as being completely plausible. Examples: The yellow sun in's the source of all his powers. Or the spray aerosol can in Rise of the Planet of the Apes that essentially forces evolution on primates by increasing intelligence within the brain. 

There are rules to the miracle exemption. One of them is that you need to adhere to the miracle exemption completely. Your story needs to follow it and never deviate from it. That is one of the keys to the science-fiction and fantasy in stories that I've read and liked.  And seeing that I've read quite a few stories, my opinion may be worth noting. 

The second is that if you want your story to come full circle, it needs to come back to the miracle exemption and make it crucial to the story.  In Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the aerosol spray ends up dooming the entire human race. So not only is it just a device to make apes is the mortar upon which the entire franchise is based.  In a word...brilliant.

What is the miracle exemption for J.K. Rowling? You need a wand to do magic. Does she ever deviate from that? Nope.  Does it come back around to this? Yep in that wand that Voldy wanted to use so badly.

What happens when Superman doesn't get sun for a long time? His powers weaken. Does it come back to this? All the time in movies as he goes to absorb sunlight to do extra-powerful and strenuous stuff.

So if your story has a miracle exemption within it, stay true to it.  My sci-fi series has one miracle exemption and I stay true to it and revisit it often.  No it's not faster than light drive. My sci-fi series takes place entirely on earth.  However, FTL-drive is one commonly used miracle exemption that makes space opera work.  Another is instant communication across great distances. You have to have this in order to have a story work.

Do you use a miracle exemption in your story and how important is it?  Have a great Monday (I should be exempt from Mondays).

Friday, August 26, 2011

Jim Carrey Is The Next Internet Meme

So in the celebrity-addled culture worship of the United States, the latest casualty appears to be Jim Carrey.  Does this kind of make me sad? A little bit. I admit that I enjoyed Jim Carrey's rise as funnyman Fire Marshall Bill during "In Living Color" which had me rolling on the floor laughing my ass off more than once.  I liked the original Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and I also liked Liar, Liar and Me, Myself, and Irene.  Every other movie though that he's made since then, has been complete and utter crap.  Without exception, Mr. Popper's Penguins is the latest in a string of duds in a career that might as well be over.
Jenny McCarthy

But who cares, right?  I mean the guy is a mega-millionaire. I would have thought he was happy, especially with Jenny McCarthy as his girlfriend, right?  Well she left him...and I guess he's in an epic mid-life crisis.

Why does the mid-life crisis even exist for men? Well I think it has a lot to do with men having egos that are too big for the super-dome and they simply have these egos because, well, they have testosterone (Munk is the lone exception to this).  My co-worker put it especially poignant when we walked to 7-Eleven to get our morning coffee and to share half of an apple fritter from Crispy Creme (YES I KNOW I'M NOT SUPPOSED TO EAT THEM BUT THEY ARE DELICIOUS! F/U CRISPY CREME /shakes fist at the sky). Anyway, my co-worker said, "The severity of the mid-life crisis depends on the vanity of the man."  I believe this.  If you are really vain...oh boy is fifty (or age for that matter) gonna hit you like a ton of bricks.
Emma Stone

So here's the YouTube video of Carrey destroying his career.  He says it's a joke.  Well the joke is on him.  It's a fifty-year-old washed-up actor and comedian with a saggy body getting a hard-on for a voluptuous 22-year-old Emma Stone.  Jim Carrey...welcome to the next huge internet meme as you are made fun of by EVERYONE in the world.
Pretty creepy, right?

How would you feel if you were a 22-year-old girl and a 50-year-old man made a YouTube for you like this?  He should have read my review of American Gods and realized, yes you are rich. No, this does not make you an American God.  I doubt he reads anyway.  Stupid is as stupid does.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

I Am So Awkward

Giving your crush that sexy look...

Walking through a nightclub...



Yeah, I totally write fiction.  Now you know why :)  /hugs

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cover Art

When I visited fellow blogger Andrew Leon over at StrangePegs yesterday, I had absolutely no idea that I was going to be treated to some fantastic art.  To clarify, he has an amazing looking cover for a manuscript he intends to publish that is not done by a professional artist (an artist who is known in the business for doing such things and charges who knows how much for it).  The author/artist who did Andrew's cover is Rusty Webb of The Blutonian Death Egg blog.

Just as a disclaimer, I want to say that I'm thinking Rusty's rates are pretty darn affordable and I suspect it has something to do with him being an ultra-nice guy.

Anyway...this got me to thinking about cover art and how important it is to have stuff on your cover that grabs the eye.   Let's take a look at a bunch of covers here:

First up is the cover for Andrew's work that is coming out. gut reaction... Holy crap... I can't believe that this is a cover not put out by a Publishing House.

Here are the things that make my eyes spin:

1) The letters on the title are incredible. They are scary and draw my eye so effectively in that yellowish paint that I have to know what this story is about.

2) The ominous dark clouds behind the letters.  First it sets off the title beautifully. Second it scares the bejeezus out of me which I think is the reaction that one wants with this type of book.

3) The house looks lonely, forlorn, rundown, and well haunted.  And that makes it look terrifying. I'm thinking that this scene captures the exact essence of Halloween night. Wow.

Okay... Now I'm going to look at the cover for Rusty's own novella and comment about what I think of it.

First off...I've never been a fan of yellow but I think it works here.  I'm kind of in Michael Whelan's camp when it comes to the color yellow (he doesn't like it as a dominant color and neither do I).  However, yellow is screams... and that's exactly what I think is needed here and Rusty honed in upon it exactly.  Did I notice Rusty's brilliance when he debuted this cover? I thought it was pretty darn good, but not stunning like the one he did for Andrew.  So yeah, Andrew's cover is better in my opinion and is what prompted me to do this post.

Okay, next I'm going to look at a cover Patrick Dilloway designed on his blog for one of his self-published books.  Patrick is a hugely talented writer.  I read Where You Belong and gave it five stars.  But is he an artist? Hell no.  Take a looksee for yourself.

Patrick designed this cover for an upcoming project and it was one of two that we could kind of help him choose between on his blog.  Honestly though, a choice between this and the other is kind of like a choice between stale bread and a week-old biscuit. 

This is one of the reasons why I wanted a publisher. I had/have no talent to design a cover were I to self-publish.  Additionally, I don't really have a budget for it and I'm just going to say that this cover is kind of ugly.  I mean it's just a woman with a mask on looking down at her boobs and then the title sandwiched between her cleavage.  My thoughts when I saw this were, "If I self-publish, my cover will look like this and that just sucks."

Based exclusively off of this cover, I wouldn't buy this book. I know they say, "Don't judge a book by its cover," and I try not to, but's hard to do.  I hope that Patrick goes with another cover or get's Rusty to do one (I strongly urge him to speak with Rusty).

Here's the cover for Where You Belong.  Same thing is going on here.  The book has so many awesome characters, so many cool scenes, locations from Arizona to New York, to Las Vegas to the frickin' Grand Canyon.  And the two men and one woman that are spoken of prominently in this book are absolutely drop-dead gorgeous.  So what kind of cover do we get?  Boring.

Yes, that's a coat hanger and a window and some sunlight and some faded curtains.  O.o

I don't really know what I'm supposed to feel when I look at this cover.  Maybe that Where You Belong deserves a better cover treatment than this.  Again, I urge Mutt to speak with Rusty Webb about today.

Maybe he could qualify for a blog buddy discount or something.

Next up is Cindy Borgne the sci-fi authoress that brought us Vallar.  I loved's a damned good read (she's winning awards for it so I'm not the only one that thinks so) and her cover art is way better than Patrick's but not as good as Rusty's. 

I like this, but as I study it, the look is really computer generated.  I guess that's the way people do things these days.  However, this is way better than her first cover art. I don't want to offend her original cover artist but the original was just some red mountains, a stealth bomber, and a boy's ghostly face.  None of the elements really worked for me but I quickly moved past that and just read the book.  This at left...very eye catching and I like it.  But again...not as good as one done by Rusty Webb.

I love cover art. I possess two books by Michael Whelan that feature his incredible cover art and I've read the pages over and over to listen to his wisdom.  He, in my opinion, is the greatest cover artist to have ever lived and he's been lauded with Hugos galore, etc.  His paintings are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and when he passes, which unfortunately could happen any day, the originals will be worth millions of dollars and I will probably weep.

Michael Whelan has many things to say about cover art...he doesn't like the digital age, but most importantly, he stresses the need for the cover art to reflect the soul of the writer and he uses symbolism in all of his paintings.  I'm going to put some covers here so you can see what I'm talking about.

At left is the artist himself painting a picture of his daughter.  He does everything with paints...from watercolor, to acrylics, to oils.  Mostly though, he works in acrylic.  What a master of his craft.  Sigh.

I had a dream once when I was much younger that I wanted to meet Mr. Whelan and have him do a cover for a book I wrote. I know that will never happen.
The shape of Arkady's legs is meant to echo the fallen towers of Isaac Asimov's book.

He went with the ruins of a flying city to go against the grain of the flying city being so common in science-fiction.

Two books, The Snow Queen, and the Summer Queen.  Each symbol in the hats relates to something that happens in the book.  There is nothing present in the pictures that is not essential or at least covered in some part in the novel.  Pretty cool huh?
Anyway, this ends my post on cover art.  I hope you enjoyed it.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Thoughts on 'American Gods' by Neil Gaiman

I love this novel by Neil Gaiman. I give it five stars.  It may not be jam-packed with action and that's okay.  I can read George R.R. Martin for that.  The true brilliance of the book comes within the narrative, within finishing the story of Shadow, son of Odin, and how American Gods is among many things, an allegory of the modern times.

On the surface, the story is a tale of manipulation.  The old Gods, Loki and Odin, have created a grand scheme by which they will gain power when the old and new clash.  Underneath, we find themes of the young abandoning and devaluing the old (think of nursing homes where no one visits), a lack of communication and understanding between generations, and a fundamental definition of what it means to worship.

What the hell is worship anyway? It's an interesting concept. The easiest definition is to say "worship is something that we do when we go to a church." However, as Gaiman points out cleverly in his novel, it is a much trickier devil than that.  So what are the Gods then?  Well Gaiman would say to you that they are simply beings who historically got a lot of attention.  And the reason that they got that attention defines who they are and allows them to live on for centuries and have certain magical powers. And when the attention stops, they get bitter...really bitter.  Does any of this sound familiar? Are any of you out there who are reading this thinking...I really wish I had more attention?  Are you striving to be the next American God?  I would love it if the attention-hogs in my life would sit down and read this novel. But they can't/won't read.  Attention-hogs are too busy getting attention, right? Who has time for reading?

Gaiman says over and over in his book, "This is not a good country for Gods." He's right. In America, everyone believes to some extent that they ARE A GOD which is why it isn't a good country for one.  They think, "You should be following me; you should be worshiping me and be thankful that I say hi to you." You see it everywhere, especially amongst the beautiful and the young. To elaborate, I've noticed that these people think that they are deserving of attention simply because others want to sex them up.  The word I'm searching for here is "entitlement."  The problem is, everyone in this country has got this to some degree or another--more common I think amongst men than in women. The one out of a thousand that doesn't...well, he or she has got to choose between the 999 that do think they're gods and decide whether or not he or she would like to worship that person.  You can guess where I stand, I'm the one in 999 that says "fuck you" to all the gods in my life.

I work with people who I think believe they are gods.  The same goes for some acquaintances.  You know the problem with these "American Gods" is that just like in Gaiman's book, they do nothing for you.  They just take your worship, they gain power from it, and they are absolutely useless otherwise.  They have no true interest in you at all; they just want your worship.  Heck Odin as Wednesday even steals from people to get money to entertain his buddies.  He's a thief, a deceiver, a womanizer, and a con-man.  Way to go Odin.

Everything the gods do for you is a leg up for them in some way.  And if they need to destroy you to get what they want (the war of the gods), they do so without even thinking about it.  Laura in Gaiman's book is a perfect example of this (she's one of my favorite secondary characters btw).  They destroyed her to get Shadow on the right path, only it backfired with one of the greatest tropes I've seen in a novel--coin tricks.  Personally, this book gave me a lot of perspective on life and I think I could do with less gods to 'worship' and more people like Shadow--a man that is so aptly named that he stays out of the light and thus by doing so, becomes a true hero that shines brighter than any of the other characters in the book.

This book is a masterpiece of American literature. It's a novel about America written by someone not even born on this soil.  Thank you, Mr. Gaiman and I shall read more of your books.  Oh and by the way, it goes without saying that his prose is perfect, the pacing is wonderful, and the colorful characters are taken straight out of a comic book for uniqueness, grotesqueness, and sheer fantasy.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Star Trek Blogfest & Campaigning For Platform

This is kind of an ambitious week for me as a blogger.  I'm taking on two blogfests.  The first one is the Star Trek one going on over at Ellie Garratt's blog.  The second one is the platform-building campaign taking place over at Rach Writes... with Rachael Harrie.  I figured since both are different and one is getting started slightly before the other, that I think I could do both.  Hmmm.  My brain may explode.

Okay, first up are the rules for the Star Trek blogfest.  Post your top five episodes, characters, or films and tell us why you love them.

I'm a big fan of Star Trek: Voyager so my top two favorite episodes come from the Voyager season four finale called Scorpion 1 & 2.  Up above you'll find my favorite scene from Scorpion 1.  It's a short clip and really sums up the awesomeness of the series finale.  Upon seeing this, I had to wait all summer to get the conclusion.  Talk about cliff-hangers.

Scorpion introduced us to Species 8472 who was at war with the Borg.  Now previously, the Borg had been established in the Next Generation via the episodes Q Who, and the Best of Both Worlds to be essentially a type 6 lifeform which is really darn powerful.  Type 6 lifeforms were far above humans and the Borg were so hostile that nothing seemed to be able to threaten them.  Well lo and behold, a species from an organic universe went to war with them and Species 8472 had planet destroyers!  If you watch the clip (pardon the dumb subtitles in another language) you will see them destroy a Borg planet in basically ten seconds (killing like 9 billion borg in one swoop).  It really got me excited to watch this show. Oh and we got a new cast member out of this...the Borg 7-of-9 which I thoughy became a great addition to the show.  Cheers to Jerri Ryan.

In Next Generation, I liked the episodes The Best of Both Worlds, part one and two.  These were incredibly well done and followed up on an enemy that we only had a glimpse of in a prior season (but knew were badass).  Plus we saw some interesting things happen with Jean Luc Picard.

The borg as villains had many good things going for them. One, their technology was impressive. Two, they had a hive mind which goes against all human individuality. Three, they had this mantra that they uttered constantly in one voice, "RESISTANCE IS FUTILE! YOU SHALL BE ASSIMILATED!" It just doesn't sound like a pleasant experience at all.

And then from the original Star Trek series (first-season in fact) I liked the episode "Space Seed" because it gave us Khan Noonien Singh who returned in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  This is one of the best Star Trek movies ever not only because it gave us a frickin' awesome villain in Ricardo Montalban, but it also gave us the Genesis device which was quite frankly, incredible.

The Genesis Device quite frankly, was an incredible weapon. It was better than the Death Star in Star Wars. Imagine being able to totally destroy a planet filled with your enemies and have it terraformed for your habitation within a week...completely cleansed of all the life that you hated.  I was in awe of the device and the implications of it were so grandiose, that Genesis carried the theme of the third movie and even to some extent, the fourth movie as well.

This concludes my highlights of why I love Star Trek and I'm off to check out other blogs in the blogfest.

Also don't forget to check in on Rach Writes... if you too are as ambitious as I in getting to know more bloggers out there.  You get to add this pretty badge to your cool is that?

See you Tuesday :)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Blogging Stuff + Get More Followers

You know the cool "Feed" button that we all have installed on our blogs that updates our feed so that it's available to be seen everywhere in the interwebs?  Well, the fact is that this feed doesn't always update.  I've been tracking it for a while trying to figure out what's going on and my first real clue came when I started following my own blog.  Basically, after I posted, my writing was not visible in Google Reader or in the dashboard feed sometimes for 14-hours or more after I published it.  That's kind of bad for a number of reasons.  But there's also a solution to this.

You can force Google to update your feed by refreshing it in your Google Reader.  But, you have to follow your own blog. That way you can click on it and then hit the refresh button.  I sometimes wonder...if this has been happening to me, how many other people are experiencing the same fail?  It could be a reason behind why I haven't made it to some blogs very often.  If I see the information is old, I don't click and move onto the next one.

Here's how you do it.

Step One:  Follow your own blog.

Step Two:  Go to the dashboard and launch Google Reader.  See picture below:
Step Three:  Once you are in Google Reader, select your blog and hit the "Refresh" button at the top.
Here's a link to an article that discusses this well-known issue with the blog feed so you guys know I'm not just making this up.


Monday, August 22nd is Rachael Harrie's Platform-Building Campaign.  This is a great way to meet other bloggers and to build up your following so that you have more blogs to visit and more people to get to know.  I made nearly all of my blogger buddies in Rach's last campaign...most notably Rogue Mutt.  You'll get a huge spike in traffic while it lasts (that's always fun) probably pick up a hundred followers (if not more) who for the most part will visit your blog only that one time.  However, 10% of them will probably become frequent visitors and consequently, you'll pick up 10% more friends.  I'm going to participate again because it was decently fun the last time and really low-pressure, unlike some of the other blog fests like that A-Z challenge thing.  Here's a link to Rachael's blog.


Theresa over at I Need To Write gave me the Blog On Fire Award.  It's my third time winning this one, however, I'm honored that she would think of me.  I'm just going to post this here and encourage you all to visit her wonderful blog and I won't be passing it on as I think that this thing has been passed around enough already :P

This really should be called the "Rode hard and put away wet" blog award seeing as it has been around so much, but it is still kinda hot. ;)

Have a great weekend. I hope to see a bunch of you on Rachael's blog on Monday getting ready to gain mega-followers!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Worshipping The Literary Agent

Russell Galen of the Literary Agency Scovil * Galen * Gosh is the only literary agent that I ever sent a query to that had this on his bio:
I’m the only agent I know of, and maybe the only one in the history of the world, who actually grew up wanting to be a literary agent... I loved writing but was not myself a writer: I was like the clumsy kid who loves the Yankees and wants to be a coach since he can never play center field. So even as early as the age of 14 I figured out that if you wanted to help writers live the good life, rather than write yourself, you could best do that as a literary agent.
You know what?  I think this (for the most part) is true.  And I've sent a lot of queries into agents and yes...I read EVERY word on their website before I put in a query.  From 95% of them, I got the impression that they could give two shits about actually wanting to be a literary agent.  They work there because they need a source of income and it's a stepping stone to their own writing careers.  Why?  Because platform comes easy for them as all they have to do is spout, "I'm an agent" and every writer out there goes and follows them so that before long, they have a thousand followers on their blog. Somewhere in there...they let you know what you would need to do to get representation from them.  Are they doing you a favor? To answer this question, let's take a look at who they are.  When I look, I see a regular old person just like me and you.  They are not entitled to better medicine than me, better food than me, better air than me, better water, or really anything.  All men are created equal, right?

Agents have two arms, two legs, a head, a brain, and an opinion that could be colored by race, creed, sex, education, sexual orientation, and religion.  They could have been raised as spoiled brats in an entitled household where everyone got an Ivy League education and where they speak amongst their friends in whispers at all the "brown" people who are now shopping at their favorite supermarket and cringe at manual labor, instead dreaming of biscotti cookies, live jazz music, and $6.00 cappucinos made at the local bistro. Or, just as likely, they could come from very humble backgrounds.  So what happens then, when you DON'T realize this, and take their word, their advice about writing, and swallow it as if it were the word of GOD.

I would hope that you would ask yourself a few questions about the advice you read.  For one, hmmm...exactly where is this wisdom coming from? Oh...well let's take a look at their bookshelf...I see something in common here as we thumb through all the titles they bought before landing a job.  The AHA moment!  Just to be clear...I define this as them telling you to write what "they" want to read.  There's a ton of baggage that comes with that ball and chain.  If I told you what I wanted to read you would never write in first person again--EVER.  I would send out rejection letters that say, "this doesn't have the 'voice' I'm looking for and wish you luck on your hunt for an agent."

What I want to address in this blog post to my writer friends is this phenomenon of "worship" that I see going on out there.  Don't deny that you follow some agent blogs so closely that if they said, "Yellow today is now blue" you would respond in a comment, "Oh thank you so much for pointing that out.  I never noticed before how yellow really is like blue."  Because some of you would do exactly this.

Do I think that literary agents have a place?  Yes, I do.  They should be selling books, they should let writers know how to write a successful query letter, what ingredients are needed in a synopsis, and what their submission guidelines are.  And...they should be OBJECTIVE--knowledgeable enough with what is being bought that they can recognize if something is MARKETABLE.  What should they blog about?  They should blog about agenting, representation, the business,...PERIOD.  If they don't have something to say about agenting, then they have no business saying it in their blog.  Do they do this? A lot of them do not.  And I'm going to say that the reason is because they are building a platform for some other purpose.
Agents who give writing advice on how to structure your novel no longer have objectivity.

I disagree with all of this "writer" advice that they have when they are in fact "salesmen".  You do know what a salesman looks like, right?  Walk into SEARS.  Walk into BEST will see salesmen working there.  They are there to help you make an INFORMED decision.  But never do they sit down and tell you HOW TO BUILD A COMPUTER or HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN TELEVISION FROM SCRAP PARTS.  Yet, all you writers out there following their blogs are doing exactly this.  And 90% of those agents out there don't want to be agents.  They want to be rich.  They want to be the one in the limelight.  Oh let's look at a few agents that turned writers shall we?  Nathan Bransford and the Rejectionist are two that I can name.  And Nathan's blog stopped being useful about a year ago because he has no ability to help you because he's an author now.  You may want to read that again--he can't help you.  He needs to focus on his own career now.  He just needs to sell books so that he can quit his day job.  Do I fault him for this? Not one bit, but it's the way the world works.  The only benefit I can even see in following him now is 1) You want to buy his book and 2) You want others that are brain-slaved to reading his blog every day to see you hob-knobbing as if you are some big wheel and pick-up followers that way for your own platform.

Agent blogs aren't that helpful (but they sure do a helluva job as a smoke screen because on the surface, they look like pure gold).  However, as soon as they digress from the business of publishing, they have strayed into a territory I like to call crap.  They are full of conflicting advice.  Why do I use the word conflicting? Because GUESS WHAT...writing is subjective and what's good for Suzie Townsend is not going to work for Robert Gotlieb.  It just isn't.  You may defend by saying, "I build a rapport with an agent and she'll represent me."  I answer..."Okay...but that has nothing to do with writing and that's what you signed-on for right?  You became an author for a write...not to rub noses with the publishing elite so that they'll publish your grocery list."  Because that's what happens when you have friends in high places like that.  Yes, friends could publish your grocery list.  Will it be a bestseller? Only if your friend is Oprah.  So again, my point is, stop worshiping their writer advice.  Either that, or decide you're a socialite and that social networking is your thing.  Suck up, get your nose in there, and things will happen simply because you kiss the right rear end enough. It's not what you's who you know.  that saying has been around for a long time.

I think that the truth is that anyone can get published.  If Stephanie Meyer can get away with a sentence like:

"The green leaves in the trees blew in the wind, greenly."

Then you too can get published.  You just need to find the right person with whom your work resonates.

So who can help you fulfill your dreams?  Who is Mike toting that you would be better off following and creating a relationship with if it isn't the likes of Rachael Gardner, Nathan Bransford, and others with followings of several thousand people?  ANSWER:  US.  YOUR FELLOW WRITERS.  People like Rogue Mutt, Steph Schmidt, Mooderino, CherylAnne Ham, Cindy Borgne, Danette and on and on and on.  Why?  Because we are EMOTIONALLY AVAILABLE.  If you ask, "hey, I'm having trouble with something, can you take a look at it?" We would probably say, "sure".  If your book comes out and you'd like help marketing it, I bet there are a ton of us (having gotten to know you) that would help you market your book.  Reviews on Goodreads, on Amazon, helping with blog tours, and sharing information with you on what is SELLING BOOKS--what is working from personal experience.

If you asked Nathan Bransford to put a widget for your book on his blog, you'd get a big fat NO unless you're someone that hangs out with him in pictures in San Francisco and has his phone number on speed dial.

But really, I think that worshiping every word that the agents drop from their pen is ridiculous.  Personal rejections are also ridiculous because in that, they are just going to tell you what didn't work for them, why they are saying no, and that they won't consider it anyway if you revise it.  So if you aren't going to consider the work anyway...why the hell even tell someone what they could fix?

It makes no logical sense, yet I see writers out there who have become my friends who get these kinds of personal rejections and they are left wondering what they could do to fix in order to be successful.  Let me put this into perspective...this would be like me telling you what you needed to fix in order to appeal to Barack Obama.  I don't even know anything about Barack Obama...yet because I have some title, you are ready to spend months rewriting your manuscript.

STOP IT.  Please. 

/end rant

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Good Writers Need To Read

Regular blog contributor Patrick Dilloway runs a blog called Every Other Writer Has A Blog...Why Can't I?  The other day he did a post that is located here.  In the post, Patrick said he had reached a road block of sorts and that he would take a hiatus from his work-in-progress to read some books in the genre in which he is writing.

Now, in the comments, Rusty Webb questioned Patrick's "motivation".  He wanted to know specifically
"I wonder what you think you’ll get from reading a bunch of genre stuff?"

This got me to thinking.  I know that Stephen King says that writers should read a lot.  I'm not going to quote him any further or go back to any of his source material.  The fact is that I think this too even if I had never read Mr. King's words.  Here is why.

Good writers need to read. Great writers need to read a lot and jot down ideas in response to what they read. I do it...I keep a list of words that I see on a notepad.  I think of how certain writers organize chapters from Faulkner's point-of-views to Vonnegut's one-page chapters to George R.R. Martin's cliffhangers.

And just as Mutt indicated in his post that I linked above, as a writer, you’ll find yourself hitting plateaus and roadblocks when you aren’t regularly reading. You’ll find that you actually run out of words, if you’re not regularly being challenged through reading new things. This is an important step to becoming a good writer.  I don't think I'm just spewing B.S. here either.  A car runs on fuel and words are the fuel that writers consume.

I admit...sometimes I may be guilty of over-analyzing things.  But I don't care.  It's just how my brain functions.  And this post is not about "meaning".  Many people read books to finish them. This is not always necessary. Read books or articles just to read them — to glean new ideas, to learn new words, to fall back in love with language.

So yeah, if you find yourself at an impasse with your writing, I think you should take a break.  Read a novel or two and see how that helps you.  As Tyrion Lannister has stated, "A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone, John Snow."  And George is absolutely right on the money.

Please keep in mind that writing is separate from publishing.  I'm not talking about publishing.  I'm sure there are plenty of examples of people who publish and who write and who make money.  But they are most likely terrible writers with a lot of money.  It's true folks :( Not everything that makes money is genius.  You can egg me later please.  So if you want to write well...please read.  It will make your prose better.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review of A Dead God's Wrath :)

A Dead God's Wrath was a delightful little gem I purchased from the Amazon Kindle store and read on my iPad in one hour.  It is by author Rusty Webb and you can find him at his blog The Blutonian Death Egg.

Here's the blurb from the jacket:

In 1895, deep in the Southeastern U.S., a sleepy little town is home to one of the most violent criminal families in the country. When Thomas O’Brien witnesses the brutal murder of his best friend and the kidnapping of his beloved Mary at the hands of the O’Malley brothers he thinks things can’t possibly get any worse.

But when a mysterious stranger shows up to help, Thomas begins to suspect this man is more than he seems. This stranger pledges to help bring Mary safely back from the O’Malley brothers, no matter the cost.

Tom’s real nightmare is about to begin.

Okay, so you might ask, what made this read so special?

1) It's incredibly well written.  Here's a sample of the prose:  A glint of steel flashed as Charles pulled a large machete from a scabbard hidden inside his coat.  He struck hard and sliced through burned flesh all the way down to Peter's bone--nearly removing the man's arm.  I don't know about you...but that's damned good writing. It's riveting. It's not choked with unnecessary adverbs.  It flows well.  I loved it.

2) Rusty gets big kudos for originality. As a sci-fi novelette, the setting is a western with glimpses of some other world in gadgets, hints, mythology.  Rusty knows how to keep you from knowing everything and you are continually guessing at what is going on.

3) Pacing. It's dead on perfect.  The novella starts with "Thomas O'Brien rode his horse as hard as he dared, and narrowly avoided disaster when his pull cart bounced and nearly tipped during his race into town."  That sense of chaos...that sense of angst you get from this opening line--it stays with you during the entire read.

4) Voice.  Rusty captures the feel of the old west in his narrator. He uses first and last names.  This is how he describes Mary:  "And his precious mary--dainty, feminine, Mary--still a few good meals away from a hundred pounds, she lashed out like a wild bear."  Wow...I mean this puts you into that period.  Who describes someone as being a few good meals away from a hundred pounds?  I'd be tempted to say, "She weighed 95-pounds." which would be kind of boring, right?  But I don't have the voice of a western in me--Rusty does.  I can tell that he's read quite a few.

I give this five stars.  If I were to ask Rusty what is more difficult to write, a novella or a full-blown novel, I wonder what he would say.  I would struggle to tell an interesting story in so few words. But Rusty knows how to do it and knows how to pull it off.

This book is .99 cents on Amazon Kindle and is worth every penny.

Here's the link.

Thank you Rusty for the wonderful story :).

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Story of Best Friends...

Greet you like...
Wave to you across the room like...
Do "creeper" things with you like...
Dance with you like...
Chill out with you like...
Eat with you like...
Sing with you like...
Be emotional with you like...
And be somewhat loving like...

Random Friday squee: I totally got tweeted by Neil Gaiman on Thursday. I was kinda in shock about it and had this surreal moment where I was Frodo Baggins who attracted the Eye of Sauron for just an instance...only this was a good thing.  I could see Mr. Gaiman doing whatever it is that he does, selecting to mention @MichaelOffutt back and then respond to me asking whether or not him following 666 followers was coincidental or intentional. 1.9 million followers and I was the voice he heard. /takes a bow.

More Random Friday squee...the blond boy in this picture is TOTALLY my protagonist in my sci-fi book.  He's cute, don't you think?  He's not really of course...but I live in a warped sense of reality where I make shit up all the time.  How about I say...I'd like him to be...yeah...that would do :)

More More Random Friday birthday is tomorrow. I'm so excited. And tonight I get to go to Cafe Madrid with my brother...mmm yumm. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Anonymous To Attack Facebook

PK63WBBDRZWU <== Technorati claim code (trying to get Technorati to find my website) :)

I saw that the hacker group Anonymous has scheduled to attack Facebook on November 5, 2011 of this year.  They use melodramatic words like "It will be destroyed through digital warfare."  I think that these guys are kind of scary--like a Tech version of Al-Qaeda.  I really wish they could be tracked down and arrested. I have no idea what they plan on doing but I bet it has something to do with bringing down the website and making public everyone's information for the whole world to see which seems to be their modus operandi.  So basically, a lot of innocent people are going to get victimized.

Here's there YouTube video announcing their attack.
The claim code above is to get my blog registered with Technorati.  They ask that you embed it at the beginning of the post so that their "bot" can find it...kind of a pain since it's already failed once.  This time I'm making it more obvious. 

Have a great Thursday :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Awards, A Meme, and a Thank You

I won the Blog on Fire Award (this shall be my second time) from fellow blogger Lyn Midnight.  I've been following her blog for a little while and she loves movies, loves books, and is in general a fascinating person.  Please go visit her if you haven't seen her blog :).

Since I've accepted this award before, I'm just moving on to the next order of business...that of an internet meme...which was passed to me from fellow blogger Brooke R. Busse over at Paper Mountain.

Here are the questions for the meme:

1) Are you a rutabaga? Honestly...I'm not sure why this is even a question. However, I'm not a vegetable.

2) Who is your current crush? I really don't have one. I exist in a "crush-free" zone.

3) Upload a heartwarming picture that makes you smile.
4) When was the last time you ate a vine-ripened tomato?  Probably two weeks ago.  My friend Meg is growing some so I hope to get some more from her garden when they are ready. I love vine-ripened tomatoes.

5) Name one habit that causes other people to plot your demise?  Hmm. I don't think I have one of these.  "Demise" seems kind of permanent unless taken out of context like you would the rutabaga question.

6) What is the wierdest, most-disgusting job you've ever had to do?  Clean out the nacho cheese machine at a 7-Eleven when I worked there during summer break from college.  It was pretty disgusting.  I have sympathy for anyone that works midnights at a 7-Eleven.

7) Where da muffin top at?  Hmmm. I have a spare tire so way beyond muffin top.

8) What author introduced you to your genre? Holy cow...going way back... my first fantasy series might be Lloyd Alexander's Prydain chronicles. I own mint-condition hardcovers of all five in my book case. Those are difficult to find.  My first sci-fi is Robert A. Heinlein's "Stranger in a Strange Land", then onto Herbert's Dune (I finished God Emperor of Dune and went no further in the series but Leto was awesome and the cloning of Duncan Idaho became really interesting), and Isaac Asimov's Foundation trilogy.  I love the way Herbert opens chapters with quotes from his universe.  Arrakis was an epic setting...probably one of the best I have ever read.

9) Describe yourself using obscure Latin words.  Castigo Corpus Meum.  "I chastise my body" used in the DaVinci Code. I often say it in jest when I do something wrong.  The other one might be non-sequitur...but I'm not taking that away from Steph Schmidt who uses it for her blog title. Basically, it means "it does not follow"...kinda like talking to my mother.  I say, "Mom, have you taken your meds today?" She answers, "Oh I love DisneyLand."

The following people are being tagged for the above award and subsequent internet meme:

1) Rogue Mutt.
2) Briane Pagel.
3) Mr. Munk.
4) Cindy Borgne.
5) Nishiboy
6) David Powers King.
7) Hart the Watery Tart.
8) The Ever-Revising Misha.
9) Stephanie Schmidt who is on blogger hiatus but I don't care.
10) And Liz over at Laws of Gravity so she'll do a blog post other than one regurgitated from her myspace page. :P

Last but not least I want to thank Jennifer Jackson at her blog Everything It & Tales.  She doesn't have much of a following but is a sweet lady and I won a $20.00 Amazon Gift card just from commenting on her blog. I've used it to buy books of course :))) as I love winning things.  Say hi to her if you have the time.

hee hee. Have fun everyone.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Art Of Good Storytelling

Alert: There are some spoilers ahead for the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

This weekend I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes and I loved it. When there have been so many of these movies done in the last fifty years including a terrible reboot starring Marky Mark...why did I love this movie so much?  What set it apart?  Well the storytelling is awesome.

Hard science-fiction can be challenging to pull off well.  This is where all the science is accounted for, where everything is possible, only you just take it a step further which is what breaks the boundaries of fact and throws in the fiction.  I knew this going into the movie because sci-fi reviewers had given this movie great props for pulling off the hard science-fiction aspects of the story. That and they set up the sequels perfectly.

This is what the writers of Rise of the Planet of the Apes did. They gave us an exposition of ground-breaking work in the world of Alzheimer's disease and took it one step further.  They showed us how the human drive to find a solution to a terrible malady could in fact produce evolution, result in a new life form, and that we...not them...would be the ones responsible for our own destruction.  And it all came about with the best of intentions.  The end result was never supposed to happen.

Andy Serkis
There were several parts of this film that I just absolutely loved. From being mesmerized that Andy Serkis could stand in for the motion capture of Caesar (who does some astounding things) to the lessons about humanity that I learn in just watching this splendid film take shape.  Tom Felton a.k.a. Draco Malfoy seems stereotyped as an asshole on screen.  I hope he can break out of this role and soon because he shows great promise as an actor that can play other types of roles.  James Franco as the scientist who created the drug stood in very well as the tragic genius who turned to all that he knew in order to make life better for his father (played by John Lithgow) who was robbed of his life with each passing day to the onset of Alzheimer's disease.  The film is filled with powerful foreshadowing.

Go see this movie.  As a writer, even if you only write YA or some other genre, you can benefit to see how sci-fi done well can have a lasting impression on you for hours after you have exited the movie.  By the way, if you are worried that you will see apes killing humans, that doesn't happen except by absolute accident or to defend themselves. In the end, it is the humans that destroy each other because our lack of humility with regard to the power of genetic engineering is the source of our own cataclysm.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Word Count Fail

I think I have George R.R. Martin's disease which is bad for a beginning writer.  I call this Iwritetoomuchaboutthingsthathavenothingtodowithplot.  It's horrible, and I think it's contagious.  I hope you don't suffer from it because the cure is painful.  Not the kind of "stick you with a syringe four times because you have rolling veins" kind of pain but an emotional kind of pain because this disease robs you of objectivity and makes it difficult for you to have perspective on your work.

After I got notification from DDP that I had been picked up for their 2013 release schedule, one of the things that really made me smile was that I would get to revisit my favorite world in these things called "sequels".  It really is fun to write, and unfortunately, the words just pile up.  I mean seriously...when I say the novel writes itself...IT REALLY DOES seem to write itself.  I had days where I would do 6000 words in like three hours because I couldn't stop.

I had no problem coming up with 120,000 words of content.  And here's the problem. I'm only 3/4 through my story arc of the second book and I'm already at that word count.  To quote my friend Steph Schmidt..."EEEEP!"

Luckily, I started this project last year about this time because I was bored.  This was before I had ventured into the world of blogging which happened in late January 2011.  Well, back in September 2010, I stopped working on that project because I realized that it may never see the light of day unless I published it myself or put it on a website somewhere.  So I threw it in the closet, mothballed it, and wrote another book.  This was a simple fantasy that topped out at 80k words that I started to query only recently.

Well, with the news from DDP...I threw that fantasy back in the closet and dusted off the ole sequel to re-read, edit, and finish so that I could send it to the editor that helps me get manuscripts ready for professional editors to look at :).  As I'm re-reading and editing it myself, I see all over the place where I have taken liberal tangents.  I still love these tangents, but if I have no intention on following up on them, they really don't belong in this novel.  And my story is so huge that it will take multiple volumes to tell it right.  I know I really shouldn't wander like this.  So I'm having to slash paragraphs, pages, and even maybe a chapter and it's's really hard.  However, I think I can slim this beast to 115,000 words and then finish it in another 25,000 words.  140,000 words is huge, I know.  But it is a sequel, and the first book is 120,000 words so this is only stretching that quota out by 20%.  That's acceptable, right?

When I finally get the courage to talk to my publisher about it, probably closer to this time next year, I hope that they don't mind that I write fat novels.  Really, as an author, I despise word count. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. Why oh why must brevity be my Task Master?

Is anyone else out there like me? Do any of you writers struggle to fit within certain word counts?