Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The end of 2008...

Between Winters

Nodding off in its final hours, the old year at last comes to rest
Wearily tucking away the quilt
That our fingers stitched together
Outside, a glassy sheen of ice clings to these last branching moments
Urging time to pause
Coaxing possibility to become still
And await the new bloom
Let your haste subside as memory unveils
This quilt sewn from the laughter heard at a sidewalk bistro
And from smiles that greeted you as doors opened in welcome
Be rapt in the warm joys shared in-between your winters to come
Then breathe awake a fresh wind to stir the New Year from sleep

Monday, December 29, 2008

Getting down to business in January

There are a couple of conferences happening in January I am excited about. The Future TV Show is a two-day conference looking at things like IPTV and mobile TV over smart phones. I will be in media geek heaven.

It's not a technology show per se, more of "This is what the decision makers in TV are thinking."

And later in the month is a panel discussion on the changing face of the media world. News ink is running thin, kids. The individual can be a reporter on the Web just as readily as an established news company. This industry is seeing upheaval on a near biblical level.

Fortunately, yours truly is chief Internet grand pooba for his newspaper's online news. I make us more interactive with the world. But change is coming so fast, even I need to know more about what is on the horizon.

Midway through the holidays

Christmas '08 is a wrap and New Year's Eve now beckons.

Had a nice Christmas with my folks and the dogs. I do what I can to bring them some excitement, cheer and brownies when I visit. My mom says I need to bring her more brownies next time. She is tickled by the notion of me cooking and baking from scratch. You learn to make things happen, you know? And my brownies are pretty darn good (I put pictures up on Facebook). If I have personally offered you some brownies (and you know who you are) and you didn't take me up on my offer: They were delicious.

Back to business: Giving my latest query on Riding Ten Thunders one more week before I contact the next agent. The next submission is already prepared and packaged with certain revisions. It will be out the door soon as I hear back from the last agent. I could submit simultaneously but that is poor form I think. You should not bombard agents with copy and then keep your fingers crossed. That's like saying you expect most of them to hate your story.

Okay, so most agents WILL hate your story but you still need to treat each submission seriously and not as some "throw away" attempt.

The NEW BOOK is well under way. I am 60 pages in. I am still not sharing more details on this project yet. Maybe in March I will have more to say. Most likely no one will see the first chapter of it until I finish the first draft and next June is my target completion date.

Regarding New Year's Eve, I'll poke my nose around Manhattan. I'll post my New Year's resolutions later this week. There will be a lot of changes in 2009...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Greetings

As many of you are gathering or have already come together with loved ones, I hope you take a moment to offer some good cheer to neighbors you don't know. Not everyone has someone to share the holiday with or they cannot be with those they wish to enjoy good cheer with.

We all brace against the chill of winter but with fair smiles and open hearts the day is made warmer for others.

Big hugs to all. There are brownies waiting in the oven...

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

a quick update

Another rejection notice on RTT but I already have the next query out.

Got a letter from the makers of my last wine chiller. They can't repair OR replace it. HOPEFULLY I will get my refund in a month.

Baking the alternate brownie recipe tonight.

Writing into '09

I plan to spend my holiday nights banging out new pages for the new book and making the occasional revision to Riding Ten Thunders (RTT). I have a schedule to keep and June will be here before I realize.

For anyone just checking in, or not really paying attention, I am working on a supernatural thriller in a contemporary US setting at the moment. This is my second attempt at writing a book. Meanwhile, I am still shopping RTT around and making revisions when the mood strikes me.

This means I am juggling characters and plot lines. It can make one a little crazy keeping both straight but the stories are very, very different.

I am considering attending one of the major writing conferences or workshops in 2009. They are not exactly the cheapest things to attend but could prove to be invaluable in the long run. some of the workshops run for multiple weeks during the summer. The conferences are usually one or two-day affairs in Manhattan. I will keep you posted.

I have also considered a serious one-man vacation. The Grand Canyon and Japan are still on the list but I have been thinking lately I might want to try a safari. Yeah I know there are all sorts of things to plan and consider before venturing out into the wilds of a distant land. But the thing is I kind of need to put my feet on the ground on different soil. I don't think some of my writing will be truly genuine until I do. This is still just an idea at the moment. I have some things to investigate before making it something real on my calendar.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Second round of brownies: AWESOME

Note to self:

Sometimes there is such a thing as too much chocolate.

I know, hard to believe but it's true. I went way too far with the chocolate in the first batch of peanut butter chip brownies I baked last week. But the new batch, whoa mama! It's good stuff.

I may try a different recipe when I bake some more brownies for Christmas and compare the two.

Everyone who said they would catch up with me AFTER the holidays, sorry you are just going to have to miss out on this.

When you hang with JP, you always eat well.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Hurray, a snow half-day

Got home early due to the snowy weather. Spending the night writing and baking brownies. My first batch did not come out so great so I am back at it.

Call it what you will but when I make a mistake, I am compelled to keep at it until I get it right. I will let you know how this new batch comes out AND how the new book is going.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Conflict of interest

It's that old dilemma come back to haunt me again...

While working on the RTT rewrites I find my characters demand the intimate careful pace I originally crafted. Yet for this story to grab the reader, I need more immediacy.

dammit.

This is not an action novel but it needs the drive of action to make it worth reading. Maybe I was lazy in my original thinking.

Meanwhile my other dark secret book project is moving along at a fair clip....

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

At last, a hardcore critique!

If you pat a puppy on its head every time it does something "cute" like chew on your shoes, you will wind up with a grown dog that takes pleasure in destroying your closet.

My colleague gave my query letter and first chapter for RTT the once over and it was pretty eye-opening for me. I appreciate his candor because I will never improve my work with simple pats on the head.

More rewrites tonight and I will get my next query package ready even though I have not heard back from the most recent agent.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Aaah, the joys of being a technology/media reporter

The Future TV Show is coming to Manhattan next month. I get to slither among the television executives discussing the future of the medium. I wish I could clone myself and attend all the sessions on the program.

A lot is changing, the switch to all digital is just the beginning. We are seeing television transmitted and viewed in ways unheard of ten years ago. Will this bring about world peace or end hunger? No, but it's part of the new dynamic taking hold of this business and I guarantee your children will not be watching TV the same way in the years ahead. It will be far more interactive and personalized. But let me stop before I have a nerd-gasm.

I like kitchen appliances...

Dropped by Williams-Sonoma last night, a fun spot to ogle gadgets, ingredients and other goodness to make your cooking full of awesome! I think I may splurge for a fondue set after the holidays. I should shave a few pounds off though before I go slathering chocolate on my desserts.

But if Santa is listening, a Wusthof knife set would be much appreciated! Now that is a serious stocking stuffer.

In the meantime, I should have my replacement wine chiller (NOT from Williams-Sonoma) around New Year's. No way was I buying a new one when the warranty was very much in effect.

I suppose cooking is going to be my hobby for '09. It will alleviate the stress of writing. I may need to join a gym to keep a proper healthy balance! Otherwise I will need a pack of wild dogs to chase me around the neighborhood.

I've gone a week without a rejection notice on RTT. That calls for a celebration! You have to take joy in minor accomplishments sometimes. However, I am enlisting the assistance of a co-worker who has some experience in public relations to give me some pointers on the query letter.

The query letter is the first, and sometimes only, piece of writing an agent or publisher sees. It's your sales pitch, your resume, your call to action on your book. If they can't get past the query letter, they won't read a single page of the book.

In the meantime, my dark secret new book is well underway...

Saturday, December 13, 2008

One of many New Year's resolutions

I must write 500 words. No less.

Every day.

EVERY DAY. That is what will get the next book finished by my next birthday.

Chances are I will skip a few things like running amok on New Year's Eve. I have a bottle of champagne here I can open.

Saw the governor last night. He has a solid handshake.

Now . . . on with the writing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I think I need a publicist

I've never been much of a self-promoter. It's just not one of my favorite things to do. But if I want my writing taken seriously I must do a better job of getting the attention of agents.

Maybe I should take a class in public relations... learn how to sell myself.

Anyway, the latest query went out today and I am outlining my next book.

Can't talk too much about the next book since it is very early on but I can say this much:

1. It is not a continuation of Riding Ten Thunders.

2. It takes place in a more contemporary setting.

3. There are supernatural elements to the story.

4. There will be no dreamy, Byronic vampire stud muffins. Seriously, how many stories about undead pretty boys does the world really need?

Okay, the game plan is to get the first draft done in the next six months. It's doable, believe me. And you have to get that first version of a story out of your system before you can fully examine the faults. Afterwards the surgery begins where chapters, plot lines and characters get extracted. I had to do cruel things to some of my favorite moments in Riding Ten Thunders. I suspect this project will be no less grueling.

If I work hard, I can be finished in time for my next birthday. Yes, that will be my goal. Complete the first draft of my latest book by my birthday.

I wonder what I will cook for dinner that night...

From my trip to Virginia


Been meaning to share more stuff from my trip last month...

This is a monument on one of the battlefields in Fredericksburg. The statue depicts a Confederate soldier giving water to a wounded Union soldier. There was a lot of bloody fighting that took place on this spot but there were also rare moments such as this. I will share the story behind the statue a little bit later...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oh boy! Another form letter :-)

I think I may want to critique some of the rejection letters I get. For sake of fun, I could use the amusement. I will rank the letters on a scale of one to five "Angry Kenshiros". The more Kenshiros, the more irritated it makes me.

This latest letter ranks THREE ANGRY KENSHIROS because it uses a bad photocopy of the agent's logo. That is just poor form! At least print a stack of your rejection notices. It doesn't even have to be on fancy paper! The fact that the logo is faded and streaky is just sad.

Enough talk, on with Kenshiro!!!! Really, I make these posts for the sake of fun. Rejection is part of the process. I have my next agent lined up with a fresh query ready to go in the mail tomorrow...

I grumble here so I can get it out of my system and forge ahead. I already know the high cost of quitting before achieving my goals.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I have my villain

Every protagonist needs a serious nemesis to challenge him. The more interesting the villain, the harder the lead characters must work to try to defeat him.

I have the mindset down for the antagonist in this next book I am working on...

he is a twisted SOB so I can relate quite easily LOL

Sunday, November 30, 2008

It's GO time!

OKAY

Latest query for the book is in the mail.

Making my final menu choices today and buying the nonperishable ingredients.

And much writing to get done tonight before heading back to the office tomorrow.

For those who cannot make it to the party next week, I promise to post pictures and video of the shenanigans later. Even if only a few make it, there will be much to enjoy here so show up hungry and leave happy!!!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Scouting mission

I made a few rounds to local stores picking up certain goodies for next week's party. Got two key ingredients for egg nog, hurray for rum and bourbon!

I will pick up the torch and ramekins for the creme brulee tomorrow (my sister says it's too complicated but I like a challenge.

I considered mulling some spiced wine but I figure what I have in beverages is plenty.

I may do some fresh guacamole, I will decide the final menu tonight.

Some may wonder, "Why do you do all this?" Because I can. Because it makes me smile to see others enjoying themselves.

I do hope those who show up leave with full bellies and warm hearts...and they brag to everyone who could not make it. ;-) Ha ha just teasing.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Well that's just GREAT

I am feeling under the weather and I come home from work to find TWO rejection notices waiting for me.

TWO, with form letters telling me to buzz off. HA!

Trust me, I know that the publishing world, much like the rest of the economy, is hurting. This is the worst time to try to get my foot in the door.

But I'm not done. Oh no, I am NOT FRIGGING DONE.

I just need to reassess and attack again.

I will get published, I will have a party and then all see I am no wannabe, quitter flake, etc...

And what do you have to say about all this, Kenshiro?

Sunday, November 23, 2008

I have returned...

I'm back home, unpacking, deflating, looking for a snack to eat...

I'm glad I did this trip. It wasn't the French Riviera but I didn't need that this week. More soon, my tummy is rumbling...

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Saturday was busy :-)

Started the morning with a hearty breakfast courtesy of Cracker Barrel. I should have realized that "first available seating" down here means the smoking section. The smell of cigarette ash still lingers on the jacket I wore so I switched to my long coat for the day.

First stop: Hartwood Winery. They were holding an open house wine tasting along with Tomahawk Mill Vineywards. I bought a couple of bottles from each. I may be tempted to uncork one at my upcoming holiday party.

Next stop: Fredericksburg Battlefield Center. Watched a 20 min. movie describing the grueling Civil War clashes that took place around here. Took a short walk along the Sunken Road where some pretty intense fighting went down. Bought an interactive DVD-ROM of Civil War battles.

Final stops: Caroline St. This is the main drag for "Old Town" Fredericksburg. Either side of the street is populated by antique shops and other novelty spots. I visited the local apothecary, a micro-museum about Hugh Mercer complete with a staff that plays in character from the 18th century. Picked up a little book on Revolutionary era medicine. Then I went to the Fudge Shoppe. They have the most delicious pumpkin and peanut butter chocolate fudges. They ship everywhere so I may order more to offer my guests at the holiday party.

I got a bite to eat, went back to my room, called some friends and family. I drive back to NJ in the morning.

This week has been rather relaxing as I hoped. It puts me in the frame of mind to get this next book started. Didn't take the plethora of pictures I expected, but that's fine. It was about unwinding and such. Didn't give me a magical cure to all my troubles BUT I did enjoy myself.

P.S. There is a saying that goes "Happiness is only real when shared with others" or something to that effect. Trips like this are fine but, they also point to those moments you enjoy arm-in-arm with those you call friend or something more.

In many ways this reminded of a trip to Gettysburg several years ago. That was a lovely time. And I would have enjoyed having the company I had then with me here. Happiness is best when shared by those who can appreciate its nuances equally and THAT is what I miss the most.

Friday, November 21, 2008

nice tour, bad onion rings

The ghost tour was fine, something to be more appreciated in a warmer season. I'm still trying to get the feeling back into my fingers and toes.

There were some similarities between this tour and a ghost tour was on several years ago in Gettysburg. Both tours were organized by the same man but the fact that some of the stories carried certain similarities was rather...ODD.

After the tour I got a bite to eat a local chain restaurant. The onion rings were, as my nephews like to say "disgusting".

I think I will do Fredericksburg again sometime but in the summer months and definitely will try to stay at a B&B in the historic downtown scene. I'm sure the onion rings will be better there,

Going to see a man about a ghost...

So Fredericksburg is supposedly the most haunted town in America. Ghost tour starts in about two hours. Going to grab a bite to eat first. Not much chance I can take photos tonight, pretty dark out already. You will simply have to rely on my expert narrative to share the experience.

Then tomorrow, wine festival and battlefields. Maybe check out some antique shops since I am in the neighborhood.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I have arrived in Virginia

I am now in Richmond at the home of my sister, Melody, her husband, Joseph and their sons Joshua and Justin. Made the drive in mostly good time until I hit traffic just south of Washington, DC. My nephews are confusing me with another of their uncles from their father's family. I have to keep saying "I'm Uncle JP" every few minutes. It's kind of funny. But they are very little so the confusion is to be expected. I'll spend the night here and then Friday head up to Fredericksburg. I booked a ghost tour for myself for Friday night. Fredericksburg is the most haunted city in the country, so they say... We shall see what the night brings. Stay tuned, more to come...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Let's see if this can be fixed...

Rather than junk my suddenly busted wine cooler I am sending out for repairs... keep your fongers crossed

Submitting again...

I have taken to heart the comments I got back and worked through the night on rewrites. I will hit the post office soon to send out my latest version of the manuscript to a new agency.

I don't think simple fixes will get people excited about the story but I have some idea now how to present this story in a new light.

Also, I need to start packing for the road trip to Virginia...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

well at least I have something to work on

Finally got some much appreciated feedback...

Sure it was a rejection but at least someone actually told me something.

While my writing is clean, I am just not gripping the reader and getting them interested in my characters.

In other words...I'm boring.

what good is competent writing if you aren't interested in seeing the characters through to the end?

Tomorrow, I begin rewriting "Riding Ten Thunders"...again

Sunday, November 16, 2008

This week...

I am off from work this coming week...
Car is fixed and just in time for the road trip. Looks like I will be heading to Fredericksburg, VA on Thursday. Historic sites, ghost tours and a wine festival. Plus my sister and her family are just one hour south from there. I will blog during the trip, bringing the laptop.

The trip will also help me get a solid start on the next book. I have had this idea in mind for a few years but I think it finally came together the other day.

By chance this morning I found an agent who is running a quick contest for manuscript queries. The first 50 submissions with the appropriate quiz answer are guaranteed some actual feedback. I hope my submission was received in time. The way you pitch an agent or publisher may be even more important than the book itself.

I mean, no one is going to bother reading a book if they don't like the way you broach the topic...

So keep your fingers crossed.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Dad's home, my car is getting fixed

So my Dad went home. His health troubles had a lot to do with...I won't get into too much detail but he has to be more mindful of his own care or at least listen to other people.

Regarding my car, it's nothing major but I am in rental car for the day. They gave me this Toyota hybrid that has no keys... just this electronic fob gadget.

I swear it took me 10 minutes just to figure out how to get this car started. Talk about "Flintstones meet the Jetsons". I felt SO dated and that is bad given I am a technology reporter.

I am finishing up a cartoon that will appear with an upcoming story in the newspaper. Hopefully it will be the first of many toons I get to draw. That will help me fulfill at least one lifelong ambition.

For the most part, that's it for now. About to get cracking on the new book. Road trip next week...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

dad in hospital

Dad in hospital again, he's been extremely short of breath. Can barely take a few steps before he's worn...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

I need to air some thoughts out

I think I will pack myself into the L'il Shizzle the week after next and take a long drive. I really need to get away for a while and sort out some stuff.

I might borrow a laptop and describe my journey from the road. Maybe snap photos and leave a visual chronicle.

If I can't fix everything I have broken, then I will work on the things that I can. That's gotta be worth something.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Let's get serious

OKAY

So I ran into someone a little while ago who reminded me of the things that are really most important to me. It was an unexpected meeting and I was just glad to be able to speak to this someone given my prior years of childishness. Thank you for that.

Right now, I am a modest reporter plying his trade...but I also want to... I need to become a published author. (well DUH, I have been saying that for years).

This is going to be a nightmare to pull off given the current climate of the publishing market. But this next book idea, it's a good one. It's a great one. I needed to link the mythology of it to characters you can't get out of your head.

I actually have some vacation time coming up. Guess what I will spend my time doing...

some people ask what I will write about, what kind of story.

When it comes to fiction, I am most interested in genre stories of the fantasy/supernatural flavor.

Years from now I might do some sort of memoir drawing on my years as a journalist. Nonfiction speaks too closely to the day-job and I don't want to mix the two at this point. Just doesn't appeal to me. My oldest sister and others try to point me down that path probably because that's what they want to read.

Sorry, these are the stories I have inside to tell.

I have some detective work to do on an old hard drive to recover some old material. Bits of info nearly forgotten but good ideas nonetheless.

Once I am hip deep in this next book, I promise to reveal more...

Friday, November 7, 2008

Home for the holidays

I have been thinking about throwing a party, opening the doors to The Dojo. A non-denominational holiday get together. I may even decorate. How about that?

But if I roast a turkey...people may passout on my couch!

Hmmmm...now to decide on the menu... and to pick a day.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

subject matter for the next book

I already have the "Mythology" down for my next book project, something I kicked around for quite some time and took extensive notes on. That's my obsessive-compulsion kicking.

But the mythology is just a road map and not the story. The story is the journey the characters take across that road map.

I will deal with what literally keeps my up at night.

I will tackle my insomnia.

I have not had a good night's sleep in what, two years? So my next protagonist will help me confront this little problem.

It won't be ABOUT insomnia but will play upon some of the internal causes that may lead to it. It's a far more complex story than it may appear on the surface.

Anywho, that is where I am at. I am done fiddling with Riding Ten Thunders. I will keep sending it out, but it is time to get the next project moving.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

History making night...

I am going to disregard the actual politics of last night's election for a moment, there are plenty of people cheering AND jeering out there.

I just want to talk about the act of voting. It was a great turnout from what I hear, many first time voters and people who made an extra effort to make to the polls.

It was not easy for my folks to vote. They are both in delicate condition. Dad is 80and Mom (would kill me if I told the world). But I picked them up and drove them out. It took more time for them to walk from my car to the polls than it took to actually vote.

The walk itself was the challenge. My parents each have a laundry list of health problems. My dad had to take a few breaks along the way inside to catch his breath. And I had to help point out the candidates to him inside the booth because his eyesight is failing.

But we did it. We voted. Me and my Mom vote at every election, even for the local fire chief. We make a point of always being counted. My Dad has not always made it to the polls given his health. He wanted to be there last night though, be a part of it. To have his say. To be heard.

We don't talk all that much, my Dad and I. There are wide differences in opinion between us. He doesn't often listen to me because he already has his mind made up. But I could tell he was glad to have voted. To be here for it.

His father, my grandfather, did not have much education. He worked in a factory in Harrison I believe. He worked with his hands in an age when horses and wagons rumbled down the streets of Newark. My grandfather did not understand in some ways why my father made such an effort to go to college and become a pharmacist.

My dad was the first in his family to attend and graduate from college. Columbia actually. But he doesn't make too big a deal about it.

So there went my Dad to vote, to witness an historic change that must have seemed like an impossible dream when he was trying to make his way through college. Back then, living the great dream was possible on paper but in practice was hard to fulfill because of the color of our skin.

There are folks out there who have said our votes don't matter. We won't be heard. We were heard last night. We were heard from the evergreen forests of New England to the sandy beaches of California. We were heard on islands in the Pacific Ocean and on the steppes of Russia. We were heard by those who agreed as well as by those who disagreed. And last night the vote was slim in some states but much wider in others. The final count was clear, crystal clear.

But no one should rest quietly now, pat themselves on the back and say "Mission Accomplished." Oh, no. Not in the least.

Last night was a beginning, a resounding reply to a need. We all have work to do now. What this means is we must engage, participate, debate, and communicate in this democratic arena as never before. There are no more excuses for people to be disinterested in the governance of the land. We have a duty to be partners in democracy and must never again hide behind the claim that we are not being heard.

The world is listening now. We must honor this opportunity by saying something worthwhile for ourselves...

Sunday, November 2, 2008

other stuff

Sent out the manuscript again yesterday. Even as I sit around editing and rewriting, the book remains in the 94,500 to 95,000 range at about 360 pages.

Have not heard back from MENSA regarding the test I took. Guess that means I am NOT a rocket scientist after all.

I think it is time to seriously start some new stories, plan a new book. I can't bank my entire future on "Riding Ten Thunders"...

hey...a contest!

Bantam Spectra, one of my favorite book publishers, seems to be running a short fiction contest.

But the rules say you must not be published (in fiction that is).

I have asked whether online-only ezines count...being that I got one story in Reflection's Edge two years ago.

That would REALLY be a downer if I can't enter this new contest because of that.

Keep your fingers crossed.

UPDATE:

Well this just bites. I can't enter the contest. Crap. Crap. Crap. I need alcohol.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

my apartment has issues...

So I came home one night from work confronted unexpectedly by a brand new door at the exterior of my apartment. It was pristine white, smooth as milk in its newness. After my initial shock, a problem quickly dawned on me.

I don't have the key.

There was no notice, no heads-up from the landlord that the door would be replaced during the day while I was at work. There wasn't even a sign telling me to visit their office. No phone call to my job or cellphone, they have both numbers.

Just this new, locked door barring my way as I stood there with my groceries under the moon. The time: about 7. The landlord's office closed at 5.

After the good fortune of my neighbor coming out, I got inside to my place and called the landlord up. Eventually they arrive with a key for me.

Now I have a plumbing problem in my kitchen for the third time. Bet they try to fix it with cheap parts AGAIN.

Happy Halloween

fun night...until people misbehave

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

No response after week 3

Apparently my self-addressed, self-sealing stamped envelope was not enough to even get a stupid form letter rejection back from the last agency. And how do we feel about THAT, Kenshiro?



Time to hit up the next one...

I dunno. Maybe it's stupid anyways. A little feedback from a pro might be nice at some point.

I have to admit, I am running out of ideas here. I cleaned up my plot synopsis, it was overly complicated. Maybe that will help? need to go to a book store and pick up a more thorough list of agents I guess.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

One more week and I am trying another agent

Next Wednesday marks three weeks since I hit up the latest agent. Been working on revisions in the meantime and I am ready to try another firm.

CRAP...I just realized Ubercon was this weekend in my own town. I'm such a knucklehead. I am mostly retired from gaming but it might have been fun to poke my nose around. Oh well, I have laundry to do and a cartoon to scribble up tonight.

Yeah, I am doing a cartoon for the newspaper. How groovy is that? All these years later, I finally get to put that skill to work in a professional way.

It's not the same as working as an artist in comic books...but I will take it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Now we wait...

It's been two weeks since I sent my query out to the latest agent. From this point forward I am likely to get a response. Everyday I don't see my own self-addressed envelope waiting in my mailbox brings me hope.

I might wait a really long time to get another form letter, but for now the possibilities remain open...

So of course I am going to keep rewriting in the meantime. Otherwise I will start drinking hard and shouting at people from my balcony like some crazy man.

Things are going pretty spiffy at the job. I am still lobbying for webcams so we can shoot our own video news to put on the Web. We shall see.

Gonna meet the new dean for an NY school of communications next week. Should be a fine reception.

Okay dinner is cooking and it promises to be tasty... or else!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

So my Dad...

So my Dad had a bit of a breakdown today, speaking more openly about his failing eyesight.

He turned 80 this summer and has a laundry list of ongoing ailments ranging from diabetes to kidney disease. He's had a rough run of it and is not exactly been the most pleasant person to help.

My father is the sort of person who thinks no one else ever knows anything and refuses to listen. We all knew for a while now that his eyesight was going and had been trying to help him adjust. He gets pretty obnoxious when you offer assistance.

But men in my family do not adjust to change well. We get into patterns of and think that simply how life is going to always be.

So yes, he broke down and said out loud his eyes are going. We'll adjust, make changes as best we can.

Making changes is not giving up, doesn't mean you're weak. In fact I think a person is stronger if they are willing to say: "There is a problem here, let's do something about it!" I will do what I can to get him to start thinking that way.

He has another appointment with his doctor on Monday, we'll get more info then. It is was it is. But he and I must have a serious conversation soon about getting help in place now for the days ahead. He always refuses to engage me in such conversations. Now there really is no time left to sort things...

Sunday, October 5, 2008

back to the trenches

I have punched up the first chapter and revised the proposal letter. Here is the new letter:
Please consider representing my completed fantasy novel about the dismantling of a family in the face of tribal war. When his younger brother is seized as reprisal for a blood feud, twelve year-old Jagantha makes his own disastrous, near murderous, attempt at resolving the conflict. In spite of the protagonist’s
age, this is not a children’s book. Riding Ten Thunders is Jagantha’s first-person account of a flawed effort to save children from war at the expense of their freedom. The novel emulates African folk tales from a boy’s perspective
to starkly address tribal hatreds that teeter towards genocidal war.

The manuscript explores Jagantha’s journey through broken segments of a family unit: Mothers struggling to keep their sons from growing into warring men; children abandoned to the forest to shape their own twisted truths; and men lost in
battle over patches of dirt where they will be remembered in infamy.

And now for the opening sequence. Please note, this segment of the book has already been published so it is already under copyright:

Riding Ten Thunders
by
João-Pierre S. Ruth

“Am I big enough for a spear today?” I asked, carefully balancing the basket of yams on my head and looking up to my mother as we walked through the shade beneath the interlaced branches of the Jwalwala Forest, where leafy green ferns choked to breathe
between the thick roots and trunks of burly kapoks and stolid khaya mahoganies.

Mother was tall and silent as the trees we passed even as booms from a distant drum rumbled over us, calling unwanted notice to the echoing clang of iron in the valley. The trees grew tightly together vainly struggling to wall off the din of men marching against each other along the river. Given the chance Mother would weave a cage from binding reeds and adamant wood, giving the warring bands no escape from each other save the drowning rapids of the Moa.

“If I had a spear, we’d be safe,” I promised, hoping she would at last bend on that most precious morning when I turned twelve. “I counted the beats. It’s a muster call.”

Mother gave no answer, but I knew she heard me. She had led me down the mountain to gather yams though I dared not be seen at the task by my father’s kinsmen. Pawing at the ground was not for an Ubaiyu man, so my father said. He was a warrior of the broad-head spear. He stalked bushpigs among the reedbeds at Whitestone Bend, the northern strait of the Moa River. He was a man.

“I should guard our door,” I offered to Mother’s silence. “There is a lynx sniffing about. I saw its tracks and it’s nothing gentle like old Tickle Paw. It might poke its nose in our hut and what then? What then, Mother?”

My turn had long come to stand alongside the other eldest sons guarding our homes. “Mountain boys, to your spears,” was the command we all waited to hear. Tatajay, an older boy, told me the Moa once growled over its banks turning the valley to
swampland. Painted dogs fled the slurry running up our slopes. But our spear-wielding boys jabbed them back like a great wall of thorns stretching along the crest of the mountain. I meant to stand ready when the next flood came.

The village of Cloud Gate tolerated no invaders, though skulking scavengers were the only threats we ever confronted until my birthday came. On that day, spears meant everything and nothing at all. That day our shields faced the wrong way, as warriors might say.

So that's the first two pages. Let's see if I get any bites this time...

Saturday, October 4, 2008

uggh!!!!

My guts are twisting up inside as I slash and burn down Chapter One!

The only way to get anyone interested in publishing this damn thing is to tighten it up drastically.

"Kill your darlings"... GOD I hate this!

But if I want to get published, if any of this is going to matter beyond myself, I have to do it.

The curtness of the rejections tells me that my previous submissions were not gripping anyone. The pace was plodding.

And let's be honest...I have given friends of mine a look at the book and NO ONE has really gotten back to me on it. That's the polite way of not having to tell me something is not interesting.

In addition to the literary surgery, I spent a good chunk of the day watching bootleg anime courtesy of YouTube. FCC can kiss my ass. None of this stuff has been released commercially in the US otherwise I would go out and buy it already...

But I could not wait, we're talking Fist of the North Star here! Kenshiro, show everybody the strength of your pimp hand!!!



this also means I skipped the wine festival, as much as I wanted to go I couldn't justify the expense, taking the drive out there alone, or bringing home more wine when I am lacking storage for it. I have plenty left that I need to drink as it is...

Anyway, I will have the leaner, meaner manuscript sample ready to send out for Monday.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The proposal letter I am using...

So here is the query letter I open with to get people to read my manuscript... This is the first thing they see so I need to know if it is compelling enough to get them to read the actual work... if it's NOT, please let me know so I can beef this thing up!

Please consider representing my completed fantasy novel about the dismantling of a family in a fading effort to abate a war. When his younger brother is seized as compensation for a perceived insult, twelve year-old Jagantha makes his own disastrous attempt at resolving the conflict. Riding Ten Thunders is Jagantha’s first-person account of an effort to save children from war at the expense of their freedom even as capricious gods make their own demands on the young. The novel emulates African folk tales to starkly address the devastating effects of tribal hatred and the callous warriors who do not behave like the heroic legends Jagantha was raised on.

The manuscript explores Jagantha’s journey through broken segments of a family unit: Mothers struggling to keep their sons from growing into warring men; children abandoned to the forest to shape their own twisted truths; and men lost in battle over patches of dirt where they will be remembered in infamy.

Riding Ten Thunders evolved from a short story of the same name published in the December 2006 issue of e-zine Reflection’s Edge. I have worked as a journalist for more than ten years but have spent a lifetime immersed in myths and legends.

Thank you for considering Riding Ten Thunders.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

should I write a prologue...

To me they are like window dressing to trick you into reading a story. You put all the sexy stuff in a quickie section to lure people in. Even my favorite book uses one.

And my own book is a slow starter. I think the pace of the narrative is correct for the story but it does not set off any fires on the first page.

That is where I am losing people.

#@*$!

Form letter rejection slip...

On to the next agency... after I have a good stiff drink...

Kenshiro, how do YOU feel about the latest rejection notice?

The waiting is driving me nuts...

Okay I am going batty waiting to hear whether or not my book proposal sucks. It's a pass or fail situation, you get no pretty stickers for the effort. I may have 94,000 words of total suckitude as far as I know.

I think my letter was persuasive, but what the heck do I know?

Each day makes me anxious...

Of course there is plenty other stuff to be anxious about these days. In some ways it is a good thing I am not the kind of person with a lot of investments in the stock market so this see-saw action on Wall Street is not hitting me directly but I am sure my 401k is screaming in agony about now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I have an idea for next short story...

It combines politics and certain sci-fi elements and... I will try to ram through it tonight heh.

If I don't get it published I will post it here, but not before I give it a try.

I also have my topic for another video blog...

Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Any day now...

Next week starts the period where I should be hearing back answer, one way or the other, about my latest agent query. It's a two to three week turnaround and week two begins on Tuesday.

You try to stay motivated but you start second guessing yourself. You worry and wonder if this stuff is any good.

In the meantime I have been punching up the language and tone.

Maybe another writer's workshop is what I need. Get more outside perspective. Get any outside perspective.

I had tried this online workshop called Urbis but most people only comment on the first chapter. Favorable comments but they only go so far.

Yeah, I will look for a workshop to join and bring my little book along with me...

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Another nightmare/dream

The world was coming apart, dark wisps of smoke surrounding a city with ...I dunno wraith-like creatures darting out to grab people. Everything broke down real fast.

There were...firemen maybe.... in these bright yellow coats who started standing guard.

and there were cryptic messages the wraith's revealed in light cast by electrical sources... you know like a flashlight. I remember tossing my flashlight at the wraith's and they circled around it. Within the beam of light they made words appear as if projected on a movie screen.

So that was my dream the other night.

I have been a bit tense lately...

Review of the "new" Knight Rider...


Ever notice how the majority of remakes and updates to an old idea just never come across as well as the original?

There are a few standouts where a sequel or new version of a TV show or movie is a hit.

The new Knight Rider is not one of them.

I groaned through the hour-long premiere which was supposed to be an improvement on the big stinker of a pilot movie.

Improved special effects add little more than an expensive light show.

This show is utterly lacking in a 21st century sensibility to it. There were so many lame attempts at cheesy jokes I wanted to faint like the weak-willed tech geek on the show. Yeah, he actually fainted on camera for no real good reason. Just to add fake comedic effect.

The old Knight Rider didn't even try that hard for its laughs. The original show was cheesy without making a concerted effort at the cornball antics.

The new Knight Rider is not funny, not exciting and insults my brain by even existing.

The sooner NBC puts the brakes on this rolling junk heap, the better.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

So far so good...

In this case, no news can be good news. As long as I don't see my SASE in my mailbox at home, it means my query is sitting in a stack of mail at the agent's office.

At least I didn't get the snap rejection notice like last time. But that could just mean my query has not been opened yet. Still, until I hear "NO" the possibility remains that I could hear a "MAYBE" in the future.

The process works this way: You send out a query with a small bit of your work to an agent and/or publisher and then you wait to hear if they want to read more.

Even if they request more chapters and then the entire book after, it still could get tossed in the dust bin.

It's nearly impossible to account for taste in this process. There are authors who I think are total douches that wind up being bestsellers. How they convince agents and the public that they are the hottest piece of stink on the planet escapes me.

In fact there is one particular bestselling author who comes across as a total jackass if you ask me. Yeah, he sells copy but I found his writing to be unoriginal in the telling. And the degree of arrogance this tool exudes during interviews makes me shake my head.

His descriptions of the woods and the trees reflect his life in Middle America but the rest of it... George Lucas should come kick his ass for "borrowing" the story arc from Star Wars: A New Hope.

That is an oversimplification on my part and some may argue that both stories essentially are born from the Hero with a Thousand Faces model.

HOWEVER, when you have a pretty "princess" in a long white dress running from the bad guys while looking for the old sage who fought in the great war during the prior generation...

And that sage is now living under an assumed name while hiding out in the boondocks secretly playing mentor to the hero of the current story, a hero who must learn to wield an ancient power against the villain...

And that villain was gravely injured by the old sage at the end of the previous war and is now at the forefront of a growing empire...

And that villain is secretly the father of the hero...

And the old sage was keeping the secret all this time...

Did I mention that the hero's adoptive parent figure is found dead courtesy of the bad guys early on?

It doesn't matter how much the works of Ayn Rand influenced this author. Throw in a couple of robots for comic relief and see this story for what it truly is. It just irritates me to no end that this author practically pats himself on the back for the size of his advance, claims he has the best agent in the business AND refutes the notion that he writes fantasy...

He actually says the words: "I don't write fantasy. If you are drawing comparisons between my work and others, you are not old enough to understand my books."

Wrong, asshole. I am old enough to see the pilfering you've done from prior works. Of course since I disagree with the philosophy of Ayn Rand, this author would dismiss me for a fool.

For those sitting at home... Ayn Rand once stood before a graduating class at West Point and said it was OKAY for Europeans to seize the land that became the United States because the original people living here weren't doing anything with the place anyway. That the merits of our civilization, the advances that sprang from those colonists justify the actions taken to get where we are now.

I counter that notion by saying when you are the direct beneficiary of such an establishment, yes you can cheer its strides. But when you are consistently kept outside of that privileged grouping, and don't you dare pretend that we don't live in a highly stratified culture, it all comes down to elitist bullshit.

In short, I interpret this philosophy to mean: "We built this world so it's okay what we did to make it happen, now go sweep my floor and stop whining..."

See how I have a problem with that? Let me put it in different terms that predate the rise of Ayn Rand. The ancient Spartans believed they had the perfect society but part of their success was based directly on the subjugation and control of other peoples. The elite Spartans basked in their fortunes, and yes they worked very hard at building their world, but it was a society also shouldered by other people who had the misfortune of being born outside of the privileged set.

Yes, there was freedom for the Spartans...but what of the Helots who made up some 80 percent of Sparta's population? Helots who worked the fields to support Sparta civilization and had no say in their own governance. Helots who would be murdered by Spartans as a rite of passage into manhood.

You are hard-pressed to find a modern civilization that did not rise through the domination of one group over another... but the results don't justify the things you did to get there.

Anyway, 13 books later, the disciple of Ayn Rand is a confirmed winner in the publishing world.

I guess there is some solace in the fact he is not a mainstream hit like J.K. Rowling. Probably pisses him off that she generates money to rival Oprah.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Query is in the mail

It is on the way, reporting time can be as much as two to three weeks but a rejection notice can appear at my door within days...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Quote of the Day

This was spoken by a Texas survivor of Hurricane Ike, as appeared in an AP story:

"I drink beer and chase women, gamble, cuss," Jones said. "You can't call that religion. I'm either too good, the devil won't have me, or I'm so bad the Good Lord won't take me. That's a good toss-up."

Mr. Jones, you are full of AWESOME!

Plan B

So apparently all email gets bounced back from the Donald Maass Literary Agency... which begs the question:

Why post on your Web site that you accept email submissions?

Their email box is likely crammed full.

Meh. I will go to the post office after work and do it the old fashioned way.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Power outage killed my wine chiller

WTF??? Sure, it was not the most expensive unit out there but why make a device that cannot function properly after a brief power outage?

This one lasted, what four months? Nice. Thanks for that. I will likely forgo getting a replacement unless I can be guaranteed of its long-term stability.

I am irriateted to no end!!!

Maybe I should sue if my wine comes out funky...

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Well, that's not encouraging

My email query got bounced back from the latest agent, which may mean the email box is full...

Suppose I will have to go old school and send it via snail mail. Geez...

Friday, September 12, 2008

Weekend of rewriting

Now that I am at the end, I go back to the beginning to refortify my words...again. I hope this gets easier someday, writing fiction...probably not.

Querying agents again

So I am back at querying agents once more now that I have come at last to the final page.

I will either get reject slips so fast it won't matter that I am working on fresh edits for the book OR they will take their time looking it over which gives me leeway to make some improvements.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My vote counts TWICE



There is a very sad truth that more than one third of eligible citizens don't vote. That is enough to tip any election one way or the other.

Another sad truth, those with less education and minorities are less likely to vote. So in other words, those who are NOT in the controlling gentry are REALLY not being heard. I will try to post the data I got from the Census Bureau later.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

First draft is done

The major plotting of the book is finished. HURRAY!

I have some tweaks to go back and work on, reedits and some clarifications. But the story is there finally.

There some plot holes and loose ends I MUST address that are not questions for a sequel to answer. It's just bad storytelling to leave readers confused about important points.

The ending came out different from what I conceived months ago. But for the most part I am pleased.

Word count is about 84,000, leaner and meaner compared with the 140,000 meandering mess I wrote earlier in the year. It is kind of trim for a book especially in this genre. You see a lot of books that are 100,000+ words in fantasy. And Wizard's First Rule clocked in above 300,000 but I have major issues with that bloated story.

I need to eat, do a little bit of shopping, then see my folks. Tonight I start the touch up work. But I can officially say I have written a full story.

Let's just hope it doesn't suck...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Time to get political

I'm not going to publicly wave the flag for anyone in this coming election only because I believe who I vote for is between me and the ballot box.

But I will make some noise about people NOT voting. It irritates me to no end that so many people throw their hands up and don't get involved.

I don't get why it is so hard for people to see that by not participating in the process, they are giving even MORE power to others to decide their fate for them.

So this weekend I am going to do some YouTube vids to implore people to vote I need to express my outrage and get some people off their butts!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

I know what I said about NOT discussing dating BUT

This crap is just too priceless to not bring up...I must say I am flabbergasted yet again:

Personal ad from a woman who calls herself Lovestinks1969:

"I'm 38 years old, looking for a MAN not a mouse. I have a very strong
personality; seeking a self-confident MAN to bring out the inner me. I am tired
of mice! Be a MAN for once please!

Dear Santa, I've been good this year, even though people have shit on me all year, lied to me and used me. Please send me a MAN, a REAL MAN, NOT another boy! I want to play with him, (video games, board games, card games, etc.), hold him, have him hold me, make out, all that "couples shit" that you read about. My life is not a Hallmark card, nor should it be. Please Santa, bring me a real man or, in the alternate, shoot me!

LOL Love, Me"

OMFG what the hell does this woman think is going to happen here? I mean really, lady. Why should anyone want to talk to her? This sounds like a miserable, ignorant shrew. MAYBE this person was just joking by posting this ad. Or not. I have seen similar ones that are 100% serious. Shall I evoke the name of CRAP Magnet Girl???

People scare me...they really do. It is much safer to hide at the dojo alone eating a root beer float while watching episodes of Pokemon. Pikachu only speaks one word and one word only and even a monotonous cartoon character doesn't sound this stupid.

Need to find agent to harass

Harass may not be the right word, but you know what I am getting at.

It's time... The end zone is yards away. Two chapters left and I will have the rough versions of both done this week.

Then I go back to copy editing, clarifications and resolving continuity issues which is hard for me since I keep reading the same stuff again and again.

Maybe I should really drunk when I work on this book. That way it will always seem brand new to me!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Two more chapters and I will STOP

I have decided to stop at 20 chapters. I need to rework something in the middle and then I need to tie things up with the denouement.

I'm at 80,000 words now. Two more chapters means... I will wrap this up somewhere upwards of 88,000. A lot shorter than the first full drafting at 140,000+.

There is just so much excess in writing these days. I am a little self-conscious about the length. Seems like every novel in this genre is a massive phone book. I mean as much as I LOVE to deride "Wizard's First Rule", it clocks in at 300,000 words and the author got a $275,000 advance on it... and it was his first piece of fiction. EVER.

Anyway, I will need some readers who are well versed in this genre of fiction since you are my core audience...

Friday, August 29, 2008

I have something to watch in November...



Now don't you go getting all big in the head Mr. Terry Goodkind. I STILL think the basic core structure of "Wizard's First Rule" is puerile and heavily borrowing of "Star Wars: A New Hope". I will expand on that later.

This forthcoming show "Legend of the Seeker" wants to be "Lord of the Rings" for TV sooo very badly. I will rap about that later too.

I am mostly interested in the female lead Bridget Regan at this point. Mmm, now there's a bit of dusky-haired goodness. I appreciate a woman who fills out a bodice so very well. THAT's why I'm gonna watch. Thank you Bridget. Thank you! Now lose that douche of a co-star and gimme a call.



Thursday, August 28, 2008

End of the World Dream

I had a strange Post-end of the world dream.

After some sort of undefined disaster, the survivors gathered in a sizable town where we were all safe and living relatively normal lives again. The trees were green, the lights were on, food etc. There seemed to be narrow avenues of travel to there safe areas by train and I seemed to have some sort of strange power over the environment to "fix" things.

But then I took train ride toward another safe town and things began to change along the way. What extended safety began to breakdown and there seemed to be nothing beyond our borders. We had to back our train up fast to return to our town as the some of our benefits and perks of living there broke down.

The lights began flicker which was the first sign of the outside terror coming in. There seemed to be some kind of ratio of survival we learned from past experiences. 70-30. It had something to do with how many people survived the darkness when it flickered.

My special powers could do nothing against the darkness itself, just the environment we were in. We took up safe positions inside houses in the town but then even those became perilous. One of people who fled alongside me to one safe place left the room I was in to get something in the house. They shouted my name and came running back upstairs in terror.

It was dark downstairs and the corridor led to someplace different than what the rest of the house had been like moments before. The lights flicker into darkness down there and I soon saw a pair of skin legs in tattered pants standing at edge of the darkness like a lost thing returned filled with hate.

The person who came upstairs screaming for my help began pushing me downstairs toward this thing.

And I woke up.

I have had nightmares in the past, not one with these specific details but that end with me being forced by someone else into a place where some sort of wraith was waiting to consume my soul. At the point I am about to confront this wraith, I wake up.

I've had two of these dreams in my life, last night the most recent. been many years since the first.

Maybe the solitude at night is getting to me

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So I have decided...

it makes more sense to keep this blog topic based and save the dating business for a different space. Yeah I get the most reactions from of my observations on dating but it just doesn't feel like the right spot for it here anymore.

SO I will stick to my views of a variety of current topics HERE while I keep my whining about dating and love and all that crap elsewhere...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock...WTF???

Before Ken Shamrock comes kicking down my door to break my neck, I know why he has been called "The Most Dangerous Man Alive". He is a mixed martial arts legend. He's enjoyed widespread fame during his time as a pro-wrestler in the WWE.

But that was a few years ago and he has lost his last five MMA bouts.

So it is shocking to hear that the producers of fledgling fight show EliteXC booked a match between Shamrock and backstreet brawler Kimbo Slice.

Shamrock, 44, has nothing to prove by taking on Slice aside from satisfying personal pride. Slice, 34, is a greenhorn in the world of organized MMA. Sure he has pimp-slapped tough guys in those outrageous YouTube videos but he is just earning his place among skilled, trained professional fighters.

EliteXC is looking for a star to make the show shine and Slice seems to be the show's one true draw. Pairing Slice against Shamrock may get novelty ratings to please the owners of the CBS network. But it is also a sign of EliteXC trying to call attention to itself while Ultimate Fighting Championship on cable channel Spike continues to be the more popular, well-established franchise.

In his prime, Shamrock would wreck Slice regardless of his size. The outcome of this bout, set sometime in October, doesn't hold that much weight in my mind aside from the attempt at pumping some excitement into quivering EliteXC.

If Shamrock wins, it would be problematic for EliteXC. He has more talent but Slice has youth, size and fresher popularity on his side. I doubt EliteXC is looking to keep Shamrock on as its star player.

If Slice wins, it throws more dust on Shamrock's fame. It may earn Slice some "ring cred" and give EliteXC a little lift. Win over a drove of new fans to the show?

I think they would have more luck pitting Kimbo Slice vs. Butterbean. Now THAT would be a hot mess I would watch!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

I need a break I think

Today I reread and edited the entire 300+ pages, 18 chapters, 78,000 words worth of work I am confident of at this point. I think I have cut out all the fat and killed all the darlings that needed dismissal.

But I am back to the conundrum of where and how to end this thing. Do I go and finish off another six chapters, about 90 more pages, which would land the story at 100,000+?

Or maybe I need to stop working on this thing. It eats at the pit of you not having finished it and constantly reworking it. GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Independence v. Responsibility



It has been firmly established in modern America that women are fiercely independent and calling their own shots in life. Why wait around for others to do for you when you can do for yourself?

This is part of the ongoing change in definition of gender roles. This is not to say men have lost their place as decision makers but rather must accept that women have their say and must be listened to.

But I do find it odd that such fiercely independent women who by their own admission want to call more of the shots and crave control will, at their leisure, decide to throw it back in the laps of men when they do not want certain responsibilities.

I have seen this most often when it comes to nights out on the town. I know, and have dated, some women who insist on being the boss yet get angry when a man “allows” them to drink too much.

How are we supposed to handle this Catch-22? If a man steps in and suggests you slow down on the booze, he becomes the bad guy for trying to impose his will over a woman. But if he doesn’t step in and the woman drinks too much, he is to blame?

I have seen this both as the man with the boozy date and hearing it from female friends complaining about guys not stopping them.

So I want to know…do you want a guy to tell you to stop drinking, or are you “grown” and ready to be in charge of yourself?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

journalists getting shot at in Georgia



definitely scary stuff. they had no real protection

The devil's impasse

Chapter 18... is almost done but the last three pages are giving me problems.

I am at the last great fork in the road.

Option 1 is to go back to my original ending (meh) though edited to jive with the other rewrites. That would salvage my previous work.

Option 2: lose those the last section entirely and find some way to wrap the book in a new Chapter 19. That would put me at 315 pages and 80,000 words.

Option 3: total rewrite of the last 90 pages. I take the last six chapters in a new direction. That gets me to about 400 pages and 100,000 words. It's a fair ending I have in mind but a little "Hollywood."

Option 4: Abrupt finish here and now in chapt. 18. That would make the story incomplete though. But then I could say I am finished.

Monday, August 18, 2008

*CRAP* Magnet? Oh boy...

More and more I realize how human beings put more roadblocks and landmines in their own way and then wonder how things got so messed up. I am talking about the shenanigans in the dating world of course.

Like this one dating profile I saw the other night (yes, I do it too). The headline read: *CRAP* Magnet. Actually it was the vulgar form of the word but you get my point. And it was the header for a woman’s ad nonetheless. *CRAP* Magnet.

*CRAP* Magnet girl probably thinks she’s funny. I barely got past the headline before steering my eyes elsewhere.

We seem to think that our personal *CRAP* is so awesome, people line up to talk to us even if we have nothing special to say.

Sticking with the dating/relationship theme, I think I know why we see such a high rate of split-ups and divorce these days.

Go to any dating site and you will find a repetitive statement on all the profiles:

EVERYONE is a family-oriented, down-to-earth, passionate about life, hard working, open to try anything once, loves to travel, loves sports, loves to laugh, loves to cuddle, is comfortable dressed up or dressed down, enjoys nights out and staying home, person-next-door who is tired of games, wants respect and security with someone serious about the future.

Ummm, yeah. Can I get a basket of puppies with that? How about a bunny rabbit hopping along a sandy beach at sunset? There are slight variations of this but after reading THOUSANDS of these ads over the years I have come to this conclusion:

We don’t realize just how average we are AND we overlook our unique qualities.

We assume that once we cover the boilerplate basics, everything will be juuuuuust fine. Eat a bowl of corn flakes for breakfast, a ham and cheese sammich for lunch, meat and potatoes for dinner then repeat the next day and the next…until you file for divorce.

It’s the nitty-gritty that makes all the difference. You have to be willing to say out loud what you like and don’t like. If you try to hide or ignore those things, it catches up with you. Then you look over and wonder why the hell you are with this person.

A laundry list of your pet peeves is not the answer. There are some really jaded and angry people out there. Very scary.

I think people need to examine what they really want beyond boilerplate responses even though it may shatter their perceptions. Sure it’s scary, but so what? You’re not supposed to date everyone. Just gotta be willing to figure out who the right one is.

As for me, I know I am a bitter pill. In my bluntest form I am not dating material LOL. But that’s okay. It keeps me away from the *CRAP* Magnets out there.

My hit list of personals ads to avoid:

  • The Minimalist: "I hate writing these things. If you have a question, ask."
    Translation: Even in person, getting information will be like pulling teeth and they still may not say anything worth listening to.

  • The Independent: "I choose not to own a TV, my radio only gets NPR, all the movies I watch are subtitled, and deodorant is a form of fascist control to suppress my individuality."
    Translation: Ready to vanish into a cloud of incense to cover your subculture funk?

  • The Self-High-Fiver: "I LOVE to travel, the beach is a-w-e-s-o-m-e, I am addicted to Diet Coke and I want a super cute date who can keep up!"
    Translation: They won’t even know you are around unless your hair is on fire while taming lions and tigers in your underpants…on a tightrope…and there is a tornado descending.

  • The Carry-On: "I am so tired of *bleep* who *bleep* when you ask them to *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* *bleep* and then my car got impounded!"
    Translation: Samsonite doesn’t make enough baggage to accommodate this person. They will always be waiting for you to slip up just for the sake of saying “Ah, HA! You are just like rest of those *bleep*!”

  • The Wishful Thinker: "I am actually 10 years older than I listed because I am very youthful in spirit."
    Translation: This is probably a nice person who felt forced to change the rules to get attention.

  • The Troublemaker: "I am actually 10 years younger than I listed because I like someone more mature."
    Translation: Ready for your close-up on "To Catch a Predator"?

  • The Boss: "I like backrubs and spa treatments. Must make more than $80,000. None of your friends can come over…ever."
    Translation: Extracting your spine is the last component in this person's master plan to dominate your life.

  • The International Connection: "I have wishing for too love in your ear because needing docter and make smile."
    Translation: Send me your money because we ran out of email scams to fool you with.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Splitting up my blog topics

Not everyone looks at this space for the same reason. Depending on who you are, some of my posts may have little to no interest. People who are tracking my stumbling progress with the book are not the same folks who want to hear my war stories from the dating world.

So I am considering creating a separate blog space for each if that makes sense... is it worth the effort though? Anyone care?

Chapt. 17 down

So I gave chapt. 17 the quick read, made only fast edits. On to chapter 18.

This is where things diverge from the original ending I had in mind and where most of the serious new writing will take place. Nine chapters... this will hurt lots.

I may save some of what I wrote but I think most of what I wrote previously in this coming section will have to be put into another story perhaps...

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Chapter 16 rewrite is done

On to Chapt. 17. Things are moving a lot more quickly... mostly because I am not sleeping. LOL But I do have a better take on the edits and reworking of the plot I think.

Chapter 17 will mostly be about cleaning up continuity problems that arose from my prior rewrites. I can have that done by day's end.

That will leave chapters 18 through 26 to rework. That's the last big chunk of the book and poses the most danger I think.

Looking at books that have done well in the market, I wonder if I am being way too subtle and understated with my plot. I hate forcing the reader to see something, much rather leave bread crumbs for them to follow. But that can seem like I am meandering.

In the meantime, I might actually go out tonight... just for the sake of an evening away from home. We shall see...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bold Behavior

Here's a story about a guy ordered to stay away from his woman's residence because of their loud and lengthy sex sessions.

AWESOME! Well not really. The guy has also threatened the neighbors who complained. THAT crosses the line in my book.

You should know by now I give thumbs up to libertines and rebels, but you don't go around threatening other people.

These two sound like a pair of real powder kegs. Very passionate people tend to be very expressive, if not explosive when they feel strongly about something. That can lead to misunderstandings with others.

For these two, this is just how they are. This behavior just doesn't mesh with the neighbors though.

As for me, I'd probably just laugh or applaud at their 6AM trysts. Just don't flash the kids, okay? I am sure the workmen don't mind seeing a young lady sunbathing in the nude. You just have to keep this kind of thing in the realm of grownups.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Naked guy in Burger King sink

So have you heard about the now ex-employee of a Burger King in Ohio? Decided to strip down and take a bath in a utility sink at the burger joint and then posted the video on YouTube.

Well of course he got himself and his cohort fired. he is some scraggly looking guy with a wacky haircut looking for attention.

So rather than show video of him, I decided to repost something FAR more appealing...



Thank you again, Miss Morilles... Thank you!

One TOUGH journalist



She gets grazed by a bullet while reporting on the Georgia Crisis

manuscript revisions...

So I am through Chapt. 14... again. I can't even think of doing a serious copy edit right now. That old fear of lost momentum us back. It's the sifting through and rewriting that makes me wonder if this thing is even worth reading.

GAH! Doubts are the No. 1 thing that keeps people from getting published. That and bad writing.

Once I get some feedback on the first half of the book I think I can put my worries to rest...

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I'm not fat anymore.

Hopping on the scale this morning, I am finally convinced I have broken my love affair with my personal blubber. I've weighed in at 190lbs. for the past couple of days. That's decent for my height and a big improvement over last year.

If you saw the pictures of me from last Halloween, I was a pretty chunky looking pirate. Life on the high seas must have been very good to me because I weighed in at 225lbs. back then. I looked "BUTTERY" as my dear sweet sis in Virginia likes to say. Thanks sis!

Part of it was the wallowing depression I let myself slip into last fall. Then I started eating garbage and loafing around my apartment. Boo hoo, woe was me. I suck. My book sucks. Everybody hates me. Wah wah wah.

Then I got hit with a kidney stone (Hey, this blog IS about TOO MUCH INFORMATION) last winter and realized I was one unhealthy mother.

I started buying fat free foods, changed up the whole diet. Pizza slips onto the menu now and again, but now the damage is not that bad. I should probably scale down to 185lbs. That is a more healthy weight for my height.

Will I ever get six-pack abs? Not likely. Don't have that "gym-rat" mentality. But maybe I could take up hiking in the fall...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Is THIS the secret to a happy marriage?

I am a little stunned to say the least by this story about stay at home wives who have no kids. They say it is the latest "status symbol" for the husband to bring home enough money so the wife can go about enjoying life...or something.

This is the post-feminist world? Sure it is swell if you can swing this lifestyle but I question the wisdom here.

Traditionalists may crave the idea of the wife at home with dinner every night. Some women may want freedom to enjoy personal interests. The key here is that they are not trying to build a family. That changes the financial landscape considerably.

Let's say I become a bestselling author with money to burn. I don't know if I'd force my wife to work but if she is not living up to her full potential and have something meaningful to talk about . . . She better be spending her days picking out lingerie and practicing gymnastics in high heels on a trampoline because I have a VERY short attention span.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Peru Wants to Arrest a Dancer for What?

She was just showing her love for her country . . . geez.

Bareback Babe Flaunts Patriotism

This is but the latest bit of naughty news to come out of Latin America . A couple of weeks back, a young woman was arrested for performing stripteases and pole dancing on the subway in one of Chile's cities.




I am not saying ALL this behavior is appropriate. But there is a great amount of fuss happening as a result. Just give these ladies a nominal fine if you really need to. The woman in the photo shoot should not be charged at all. Did she insult her country? Perhaps. Is it worth incarcerating her over the matter? HELLS NO.

We enjoy some broad freedoms here that are not shared in other nations. The First Amendment arguably would protect the woman riding in the buff. The pole dancer . . . probably not.

But I am just saying . . . if a lady wants to undress and express herself, who am I to say she should be arrested for it?

Some personal TMI

It's been a rough time for my folks. Dad went home with a pacemaker. Still having trouble getting around. Mom had a bad reaction to this injection she got to help cope with osteoporosis. Saturday I took Dad to dialysis at 5:30 then went with Mom to the hospital to find out what was wrong. Rest of the day was tending to various things with my good ol' parents.

Didn't head back to my place till that evening, wiped out. Sorry I was MIA.

I know my folks want to keep their independence but there are things happening that are limiting their capabilities. It's what happens when you get older. Everyone goes through it unless a toilet seat from the the Mir space station comes careening out of the sky to hit you on the head.

We need a better plan though to give my folks the best quality in their senior years.

My folks, dad in particular, are stubborn. He has trouble walking on his own, even fell walking out of a restaurant a week ago. Yet he refuses some ideas that may help him in small ways.

So that's what I have been up to lately. I know this, I will have a plan for my elder days.

I knew someone a while back who disparaged old folks for, well, being old. Yeah, it's inconvenient when they need help or misplace their cane. And maybe I am too attached at the hip to them. But I fix things. It's what I am good at...

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ethnicity and Marriage

Is Marriage Really for White People

I appreciate the series of stories CNN is running about what it means to be black in the U.S. This one jumped out at me today.

Here is my thought: It can be a lot harder for blacks in America to feel content and settled enough to create a stable family unit.

Part of it is internal. We look to role models to emulate and at times may feel at a loss for who to follow. Often times our identity is fixated on the concept of struggle. We're always fighting to get somewhere hoping to enjoy a better day. Not everyone succeeds. There are times when it is easier to point at mistakes we see other blacks make than reflect on the successes among our people.

Yes, we have opportunities but fully seizing them requires shaking off any disbelief in our capabilities. We have to tell ourselves we can make it happen even when the rest of the world says you are going to fail.

I come from a family where both my parents are still together though they do a fair amount of arguing. Dad just turned 80 and Mom will be 75 in August. We're not perfect folks, but we all do what we can to make things work.

My folks come from a far different generation and it can be hard to communicate what my perspective is to them at times. In particular, my dad doesn't always see how different the landscape is for someone to get established now.

I won't say it is harder for a man to stake his claim to some land and start a family, each generation sees its unique challenges. But it is different. There are new rules to making it work today. And winning the lottery is not realistic.

Have I thought about wife, kids, etc? Yes. Do I know how to make all those things happen? Still working on it.

While working on my book I started thinking about the factors that go into the psyche of black males. There is no universal answer but I came up with what I call The Broken Hunter mentality.

In a hunter-gatherer model, many times the society is based around frequent searching for new grounds to forage and catch game. There may be a circuit of migration the society but there is a predilection towards roaming the land. The entire family unit is built towards mobility should the land not provide the sustenance it needs.

The Broken Hunter looks for his sustenance but has trouble including others in his efforts. He may be focused on getting enough to feed himself, clothe himself and find shelter to rest his own head down. Perhaps he never saw another man look after a family unit and does not see he must compromise and make plans that emphasize the well-being of others.

A Broken Hunter may look at the gamut of challenges before him and think it is hard enough to take care of himself. Thinking more broadly may put his wants at risk. That's where you find the hustlers and deal makers who are looking at an endgame that benefits themselves above others. He may even believe he is doing right by others with the small contributions he makes. What the Broken Hunter does not realize is that no one wants to settle for the nibbles of game he leaves. A family demands a full feast of emotion and security.

You can't establish a household while still running game with the boys. You have to get out of the hunt and cultivate your tomorrow. This is not to say stop being aggressive. You must steer that energy toward creating a platform where a family can work. You have to find ways to establish security for yourself and those you say are your family. If you don't, you will feel compelled to constantly run, track and prowl for some new source of replenishment. That kind of thinking makes a wife and even a family appear cumbersome. The hunter is broken. He can only take care of himself, if that.

Being a Broken Hunter does not work in our current society. Not really. It keeps you on the fringe always wishing you had something more.

One can argue that the Broken Hunter is pushed to operate under these circumstances, that these are the options available to him and he is just following what others do.

In the end, the Broken Hunter may be ill-suited for marriage.

Am I a Broken Hunter? I have been but I am working on it.

When Fruity People Have Kids

Tula Does the Hula? What were these people thinking?

There was a time a long while back when my darling sisters would muse about what names to give their future children. This was years before either was married or expecting a child but their ideas made me shudder.

Names such as "Precious Memory" and "Petticoat Junction" were tossed around by my siblings and I feared their kids would spend their lives getting beat up and laughed at by small woodland creatures.

Then you hear about celebs giving their babies names like "Apple". It makes you want to smack some sense it these people!

Fortunately all of my nephews have solid, strong names that they won't need to change in their adult years just to be taken seriously. Heck, even Leaf Phoenix had the wisdom to revert back to being Joaqin.

Being creative is fine with a child's first name. But remember, this is what they must sign their checks with and give to the authorities when they get pulled over for speeding or to file their income taxes.

Tula...you poor, poor child. I feel your pain.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Much better than the running of the bulls!

Sure, this may wrinkle some noses on political correctness but keep in mind... no one is making any of these ladies run:

High Heel Race

How about this kind of event replaces all questionable sporting activities? Rather than the Running of the Bulls, have ladies in 4 inch heels storm the cobblestone streets of Pamplona? At the end of the race is a huge dance party and everyone goes home happy. You could probably resolve world conflicts this way...

Monday, July 21, 2008

So I had to kill one of my "darlings"

I REALLY liked Kasyapa.

She was a lethargic happy gigantic turtle swimming around Chapter 11 of the book. She put a smile on my face with her blunt affection and lazy gate. The valley surrounding her could be on fire but she would just yawn and immerse herself in her blue lake, peeping out from the water with just her big golden eyes showing.

I wanted to give my innocent mammoth box turtle a great big hug the moment she waddled on to the page to say hello.

But "cute" doesn't belong in "Riding Ten Thunders".

It's my own fault, not Kasyapa's. She is a fine character with her sapphire-encrusted shell bigger than a house and legs borrowed from elephants. She made me laugh the way she attempted to imitate the music she heard by snorting out her nose. Kasyapa is a fine girl who inspires one to giggle like a kid.

She arrived after I finished Chapter 10 and felt like lifting the mood a bit. Chapter 10 is busy. Chapter 10 is serious. I needed a break from the melodrama.

Problem is I went too far with Kasyapa. She keyed into my inner child and that is fine, but just not right for the tone of this work. Kasyapa belongs in a children's book.

So now I have someone who is no darling at all strolling into Chapter 11. Not sure if I trust this new character yet...and that's a good thing. There needs to be more risk in the reading. We can have sunshine and happy turtles another day.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Daring to be a rock star

I am going to give it a shot sending the sample portion of my book to that senior agent with the excellent track record. You have to believe you are a winner if you want to win, you know?

The first chapter is tight, I think. I just need to write a KILLER query letter to make this agent want to read my material.

I am not one for self-promotion but this is how you open the door . . . and I best hurry up if I want this to go out in today's mail!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Social Networking Must Evolve or Dissolve

Playing on the Web has never been so fun. The gods of the Internet continue to create new distractions to keep you clicking and staring ceaselessly at your screen. You load the latest applications on to your Facebook page and leave cute messages for all your friends.

Then why am I so bored?

Probably because we are not taking full advantage of these resources.

Services like Dodgeball and Twitter tie together wireless phones and social networking but in small ways. You still have to type in what you are doing and where you are going.

Let's eliminate that extra step.

How about automatically letting your GPS-enabled phone alert others in your network to your current position?

How about scanning a certain physical radius for friends who may be doing a bar crawl within the same city?

I would love to get a message on my cell phone that says a buddy is stuck in traffic on the Turnpike without them needing to call or text me.

When out business networking, getting a list on my phone of what professionals are in the same room with me would be a great tool.

While these ideas are possible, the plausibility is slim at least for now. Many users would fear exposing too much information to others. In my opinion though, social networking doesn't really DO anything.

Get these services more actively wired into mobile devices and THAT is how Facebook and the rest will evolve into tangle services everyone will use to make life more interactive.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Movie Review: Hellboy II The Golden Army

I like Guillermo del Toro, I really do. He is a competent and visionary director with a vivid imagination.

Too bad his style and dynamics outstrip Hellboy and company.





Hellboy II is a decent sequel but it showed me the limited range the primary characters can offer the audience compared with the new ideas the director introduced.

This felt like two different stories spliced together that ultimately did not require the presence of the title character at all.

When Hellboy and his sidekicks appeared onscreen, I lost interest in the movie. Their dialogue and characterizations felt forced and unnatural.

Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala, new characters introduced by del Toro, were far more compelling by comparison. I wanted to see more of those two and hear more of their story.

And that's the problem with this movie. While it does a decent job, it doesn't come across as anything more than a sequel featuring the latest romp with a set of characters who are not all that endearing.

I want Hellboy to be funnier or Abe Sapien to come across as too intelligent for the beer-swilling company he keeps. Selma Blair as Liz Sherman had a cute hair cut but then I always had a weakness for her. The rest of Hellboy's compadres are as forgettable as the wisps of air that surround them.

Del Toro is best served by working with his own material free of the trappings imposed on him by working in someone else's franchise.

He did an admirable job with Blade II but AGAIN you see del Toro introduce antagonists that are more intriguing than our 2-Dimensional hero.

Incidentally, Blade II and Hellboy II BOTH follow a story structure of the prodigal son returning to cause havoc and challenge his father's authority while the sister laments for her brother's course of action. Both movies feature Luke Goss in the role of the "misunderstood" antagonist and he thrives on these types of roles.

Hellboy II makes me a little concerned about the way del Toro will approach The Hobbit and its untitled sequel. Peter Jackson set a solid tone for movies adapted from J.R.R. Tolkien's works that the audience will expect to see continued. I fear del Toro will desire to shape the stories to his own vision which departs from what the audience is expecting and thereby alienate the very people he needs to win over the most.

Flame and Bone

When I was made from fire
Poured into the tender vessel of caution
That keeps my smoke from rising
Quickly did I discover that apart from crisp drizzles or falling snow
The world chilled my touched
Walking the narrow cornered gap between girders and cut stone
One learns to tuck his shoulders in or risk
Jostling a neighbor passing by rapt with want
For a clear path without the distraction
Of another man's boiling eyes
The tip of a finger
That oldest of all weapons
Grown deadlier and pristine in its invention
Gathers a mote of a cinder on its bare flesh
And turns pondering how best to scratch the impious itch
Prying open the tender seam
Where the oil of thought dews
Offering a new wick to ignite
Squirming alive as a salamander of mischief
That yearns for a taste of air it is so ready to devour
The steam of breath betrays me
Before the glint of orange spreads
In popping bright waves
Eroding the fibers feeding it
Leaving naught but ash
As my shell of quietude falls away