Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Respect My Research

The ultra-rightwing religious organizations tend to twist and turn science or simply deny that it's true. After all, they don't want facts getting in the way of their march toward Armageddon.

Here's a site that documents the distortions on scientific research promulgated by whatever nut cases get their panties in a twist about.

Respect My Research

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Be a good little writer

I've been hitting the agent's blogs a lot lately trying to figure out what makes them tick. Most of the blogging agents are personable sorts obviously trying to help writers along the path to publication.

On the other hand, I'm struck by a certain condescension. Writers who don't have agents must learn lots of cute tricks equivalent to sitting up, rolling over, and begging. Your query letter must be perfect, your hook must be a firestarter, your first paragraph had better grab them by the throat. If you can accomplish all those tricks as a writer, then you might get representation IF your whole book appears to be a candidate for the NY Times Best Seller List.

Obviously, there are not enough slots for published books for every writer, so if you're a good utility writer, then you might as well head directly to the small presses and hope for the best. You have the same hoops to jump, but you're at least one step closer to the people who actually publish the books.

What do I mean by "utility writer?"

Someone who can actually write grammatically correct prose. This means that an editor will have far less work to do. However, if you're avant garde and terribly daring, you can misspell anything you want and call it technique.

Someone who has a moderately new twist on an old story. Apparently, fantasy doesn't require much here. Just make the elves short and the dwarves tall and you've got your twist built in. Don't forget to give them unpronounceable names! Chick Lit? Oh puhleeze. There hasn't been a new plot there since the 19th Century. Just more sex. Erotica? Be sure you have a sexy vampire then set the story in Anarctica for your twist. Heat up the old igloo (you see, it doesn't matter that igloos are in the northern regions when writing this type of fiction).

Someone who can write multiple books in a short period. Look at Piers Anthony. I think he writes a book every week or two. Some of his books aren't topnotch, but he's a great utility writer.

So, Utility Writers Unite! We have nothing to lose but the potential agents who are looking for Dan Brown or whoever else is the author du jour. The agents sure as hell aren't looking for you.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

A Visit to Potter's Field

This is a (hopefully) funny story about a boy's visit to a graveyard to get some answers to the age-old questions.

The always wonderful Lorelei Signal has accepted the story for the July issue. Yippee!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Who's Your Dragon?

Who is your dragon spirit guide?

Green Dragon
Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

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Historical Fiction

I tend to avoid this genre since most of them are just thinly veiled romances. I think you can tell looking at the spine of the book. Is the title in a lovely cursive font? Romance. So, I scan the used bookstore shelves in the Historical section for books with nice blocky title fonts. I spotted one by a gentleman named Bernard Cornwell. Even better, the title was "Stonehenge." Now, that sounds more like it, methinks (I'm not sure of the Olde Englishe, so I'll leave it at that).

Since I've apparently been living in a cave, I was surprised to find that Cornwell has written a ton of historical novels. He has a few series, including "The Sharpe Series." Whoa Nellie! Who is that British hunk on the page there? Sean Bean. Silly name, I know, but he's one handsome fella. Why is this guy on the author's webpage? Apparently, Sharpe is a television series in England. Now, I KNOW there's another good reason to return to England.

Well, enough panting after actors. While I'm not yet giving a big thumbs up to Cornwell's writing (I've only read the cover notes), I think it worthwhile to check out this prolific author's website.

Bernard Cornwell's Official Website

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What Tarot Card Are You?

Find out here:

You are The Moon

Hope, expectation, Bright promises.

The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.

The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Test Drive

I've had problems updating my website (the one linked to the left under Profile). At least four times, I've had to recover from scratch (PEEVED SMILEY FACE)!

I'm trying out the free Microsoft Live Office web and I'm thinking it looks darned good. Have a peek and let me know what you think. The coolest part is that I've now become a domain name of my very own. I'm not so sure the Contact Me page is working. I tried it and didn't get an email, so ???

If you're interested in trying out the freebie site builder, here's where you go to sign up. You have to put in a credit card, but that's for a verification thing to keep people from grabbing tons of free websites. One site per CC number.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


I don't believe in Astrology. After all, I've got two Leo sons and they are not very much alike, and I'm a Leo/Virgo and completely different from them. Am I ignoring the truth?
Your Birthdate: August 23

You're not good at any one thing, and that's the problem.
You're good at so much - you never know what to do.
Change is in your blood, and you don't stick to much for long.
You are destined for a life of travel and fun.

Your strength: Your likeability

Your weakness: You never feel satisfied

Your power color: Bright yellow

Your power symbol: Asterisk

Your power month: May

Monday, February 12, 2007

The Truth About Writing

An excellent book on writing, not the mechanics of putting words on paper, but of the process, is available as a free download at:

The Truth About Writing by Michael Allen

It's a large file, so if you don't have a high-speed connection consider yourself warned.

Here are some of the bon mots from the last chapter of the book, just to pique your curiosity. This is from the final chapter of the book.

ALLEN’S AXIOMS – lest you forget

WRITING IS AN activity which can seriously damage your health.

As far as income is concerned, most writers would be better off working behind the bar in their local pub.

The desire for fame should be sufficient, in and of itself, to get you sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

Serious literary criticism is written in a language called litbabble, which is a form of postmodern, deconstructed gobbledygook. Its practical value, in terms of helping you to write a better novel, is nil.

Unsolicited submissions, from writers who are not represented by an agent, are accorded the same degree of respect as would be given to something left on the publisher’s doorstep by a dog with diarrhoea.

Without writers there are no books.

Without books there is no publishing.

Without publishing there is no free lunch.

The so-called advance is actually a retrospective.

Most publishers can recognise a bestseller, but only when it was published two years earlier and they have the sales figures in front of them.

Publishing depends, for its continuance, upon a ceaseless flow of mugs, suckers, and assorted halfwits who are prepared to work for a year or more without any serious
prospect of remuneration.

Properly understood, the role of writer is analogous to that of healer. It follows therefore that writing is both a moral activity and an honourable one. But keep this knowledge to yourself, otherwise you will seem horribly pompous.

The degree of success experienced by a writer will vary according to circumstance, and the definition of circumstance is everything that the writer cannot control, or even influence.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Who's Your Daddy?

The death of Anna Nicole Smith didn't affect me one way or the other, but I'm loving the aftermath. I don't mean to sound hard-hearted. I'm quite sorry she died so young.

However, the fight over the paternity of the baby Danielynne is becoming absolutely priceless.

Howard Stern, her lawyer and last known beau, claims he's the dad.
Larry Birkhead, ex-boyfriend, also wants to be Danny's Daddy.
Prince Freddy of Anhalt, Zsa Zsa Gabor's husband, has stepped up to the plate as well.

Now, the perfect capper is the rumor that J. Howard Marshall, Anna's elderly hubby is really the sperm donor.

Anna was clearly not as stupid as she appeared to be. By having the child by dead J. Howard, she cemented the child's claim to the estate. I think this is exactly what happened and those other guys are just trying to cash in.

Slow news day, eh?

Friday, February 09, 2007

Post Office

I took a trip to the P.O. yesterday to mail out queries for Tales of a Texas Boy. Three different publishers. My idea of saturation bombing.

Deb helped me at the desk weighing the envelopes, discussed mailing options such as delivery confirmation, and was generally a pleasant person.

She looked at the envelopes addressed to publishers with names like YYY Children's Division and asked me what type of children's stories I wrote. I gave her a quick rundown on Cadida and the Djinn, Tales of a Texas Boy, and Eagle Quest.

She mentioned her 12-year-old granddaughter loved to read and before I realized what I was doing I offered to give her a book for Tia (the gd). Quick as lightning, Deb wrote her name on a blue sticky.

As I drove away, I became fraught (another one of those old folk's words) with anxiety. I'd promised the woman one of my books and I didn't even know when I might go back to the post office.

Fate must have played a hand since eldest son called me asking for a short-term loan (all loans to him have been short-term and most are never repaid). Nevertheless, Mom's a sucker, so I wrote out a check and put it in an envelope. I knew the mailman had already gone by, so I decided to pop down to the P.O. to send the sorely-needed funds (some vague mumblings about the Mafia softened me up). I brought along a copy of Eagle Quest for Deb's granddaughter, all signed and everything.

Now, this book is the one I practiced my Lulu formatting skills on right after NaNoWriMo. It doesn't look quite like the more finished ms I have now, but the cover is pretty.

Deb wasn't there, so I dropped the book off with her puzzled supervisor who promised to get it to Deb.

I hope Tia likes the book. I hope she lets me know what she thinks. I wrote my email address on the sticky note. Maybe she'll take a hint and at least send me a thank you note.

On the other hand, maybe Deb will open the book to Chapter 1 and decide Tia is too young for the book. The first chapter's title: The Rat Bastard. Do I know how to write a kid's book or what?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Too Old

A young agent recently started blogging and I've been following him as closely as Miss Snark. He's practical, smart, and very open about discussing the ins and outs of publishing. I'll put his blog link to the left.

His most recent blog topic was about cross-over works. That is, books that could sit on either the Adults or the Juveniles shelves in the bookstore. He contends you need to decide on one or the other for queries. He also says you can mention cross-over possibilities in the query. I'll have to remember to do that as I write queries for my three ready-to-roll books. I've been putting in my most recent effort on Tales of a Texas Boy, a project that I'd really like to get into book form before my father - well, you know.

One responder to Nathan's blog said:
I don't like the whole crossover trend. Grown men and women shouldn't get excited because the new book about a boy wizard just hit shelves. I think a lot of the joy that comes from reading is about finding characters that you can relate to. When you hit a certain age you aren't supposed to be able to relate to the same things that a twelve year old can relate to.

I just had to respond with:
As for an adult not being able to enjoy 12-YO stuff, heaven forfend I ever get that old and stodgy.

After posting, I noticed I used the term 'heaven forfend'. Well, that just put me into the old and stodgy category. I also used the word 'smidgen' earlier in the same post. I doubt if anybody under 50 or so would have any idea what either of those terms mean.

This all by way of observing that the title of this post should be preceded by the word 'Never'.

Monday, February 05, 2007

It's not easy being green

A friend's blog (Gene, you dastard!) linked to the Muppet personality test. Had to take it, but I'm not sure I agree with the results. I kind of like the Swedish Chef myself.

You Are Kermit

Hi, ho! Lovable and friendly, you get along well with everyone you know.
You're a big thinker, and sometimes you over think life's problems.
Don't worry - everyone know's it's not easy being green.
Just remember, time's fun when you're having flies!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ready to Roll Out - Part Deux

I have an impossible to place orphan child. I suppose I'll have to wait until I'm a famous author before I can convince a publisher to take on "Tales of a Texas Boy." Thing is, these stories are absolutely all one package and dying to get a cover and a blurb.

Haven't these people (meaning publishers) ever heard of Annie Proulx? We both write in Southwestern dialect, except my stories don't have any sex in them. I take that back, there is some discussion about a crazy jackass who is an enthusiastic stud--too enthusiastic.

Then, there's a lot about other animals, both domestic and wild: sheep, chickens, pigs, horses, cattle, dogs, bears, rattlesnakes, jackrabbits. This is a veritable cornucopia of animal antics. The picture's of old Cage McNatt and his champion pig. Aren't you dying to hear that tale?

Oh, yeah, how can you pass up a story about mammoths? Yes, those big hairy elephants. What do they have to do about West Texas in the 1930s? Beg me for the story and you'll find out.

Seven of the stories have found homes in print and on-line, so I'm pretty sure people like them. I just want them all together in a single book. Is that too much to ask?

All twenty stories are from the point of view of little Eddie Perkins, a boy living on a farm in West Texas. The best part is that all the stories are true. My father was that boy and he told me these tales. Since they're about Texas, you can also assume there's a little bit of exaggeration involved.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Ready to Roll Out

When I made my living writing technical documentation, when the product was completed we'd say it was in roll out. I figure that's as good a term as any for a couple of my completed books I'm try to roll out to either agent or publisher. Here's my current product list:

"First Duty," is a 36,000 word YA science fiction novella. Nyra Hutchings escapes a dead-end life on a manufacturing planet by joining the Space Service. After enduring a near-fatal final exam, she graduates and becomes an officer. On her first assignment, she fails to stop the escape of a dangerous rebel leader and vows to regain her reputation by recapturing the escapee. She soon finds herself caught up in the rebellion, her faith in her beloved Space Service shaken by the revelation that her own great-grandmother was a rebel leader. She discovers that the bureaucratic Incorporated Planets is not the benevolent guardian of the known planets she believed it to be. Nyra must decide whether to remain loyal to the Space Service or join the rebellion. Two chapters from "First Duty" have been published as short stories.

"Eagle Quest," a 36,000 word YA novella, tells the story of four misfit junior high school friends who find adventure and danger when they go on an overnight campout to a wildlife refuge. One of the friends, a half-breed Native American boy, wants to experience a traditional Vision Quest and his friends go along to help. Encountering a crusty old codger with a gun, a black bear, and a pair of eagle poachers, the kids find new confidence in themselves as they bring the two poachers to justice. The book describes the real Klamath Wildlife refuges in Oregon and delves into Native American lore.