Saturday, January 31, 2009


How To Amuse Your Co-Workers

In 12 easy steps! For this to work, you'll need an irreverent sense of humor, an audience of three or four, and a bowl of bread pudding.

1. Discuss w/co-workers the silliness of the manager's disapproval of all anti-depressant drugs and her recent scuffle over an employee's joke to offer free Prozac to two of her friends during a particularly stressful shift.

2. Decide that since mentioning brand-name drugs is cause for getting oneself hauled into the office for the People-Don't-Need-Anti-Depressants-And-They-Aren't-Funny lecture, you should change the lingo to "my non-prescription, generic anti-depressant of choice."

3. When that gets a laugh, point to your bowl of bread pudding and proclaim it your personal non-prescription, generic anti-depressant of choice.

4. Since you've just dissected the incredibly stressful morning you all lived through, illustrate your need for your drug of choice by shoveling in an abnormally large mouthful of bread pudding.

5. Make the grave mistake of glancing at your co-workers, who are all laughing loudly.

6. Laugh.

7. Don't swallow, don't shove the bread pudding to the side of your mouth, and whatever you do, don't take the time to spit it out.

8. Just suck in the quick lungful of air required to laugh and let loose.

9. Naturally, the comedic value in this bit lies in the fact that with a mouthful of bread pudding, the only way for the air to make it to your esophagus is for the bread pudding to migrate forcefully into your nasal cavities.

10. Seeing you snort bread pudding, your non-prescription, generic anti-depressant of choice, will provide your co-workers with minutes of unbridled hilarity followed by hours of rehashing your brilliance with every co-worker who enters the building.

11. Even better if a raisin gets lodged in your sinuses.

12. Of course, too many raisins, and you'll get the privilege of sharing your comedic genius with the emergency room personnel as well.

I'm thankful I stopped at step eleven. I have enough emergency room stories, thank you very much.

Anyone want bread pudding?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chocolate, Tomatoes, and Annoyances...Oh My!

1. Yum. Chocolate.

2. I think I might like chocolate after all.

3. Yes, that sound you heard was the universe cracking and falling off its axis.

4. You see those gorgeous shoes? The ones right above this post? Those are all made out of chocolate.

5. Looks like I'm going to need a refrigerator in my shoe closet.

6. Hmm, but first to convince the hubby I actually need a shoe closet.

7. He can store his stuff in a trunk at the end of the bed, right??

8. It's been a light blogging week because I started working an additional position (If you're keeping track, this makes FOUR positions I work now. Oy.) in place of someone who got (deservedly) fired.

9. It's long hours on my feet (which I'm used to) and tons of lifting and bending and hauling (which I'm not).

10. Today, I needed a box of tomatoes which were inexplicably stored at the very top of a three-tiered metal shelving unit whose top shelf was so far above my head, I had to stand on tip toes to touch it with my finger tip.

11. The box of tomatoes I needed was stacked on top of two OTHER boxes of tomatoes on the top of that too-high shelf.

12. Apparently, my manager overlooked the height requirement for this job when she shoe-horned me into the position because she doesn't stock step stools.

13. Did I wander around asking for a tall man to help me?

14. No. I seriously did not have the time.

15. Instead, throwing aside years of unnatural injuries and clear instances of the kind of innate clumsiness that would have earned me a spot on I Love Lucy, I decided the best course of action would be to balance (Already you see the problem, yes?) on the bottom shelf and gradually work the top box of tomatoes free with one hand...

16. Before you hastily swallow your coffee, convinced my next sentence will be full of C.J. flying through the air, splattering tomatoes in her wake, allow me to assure you, I didn't fall.

17. I didn't have the chance.

18. The back-up cook came around the corner, took one look at me, and let loose with a string of vehement Spanish that might have been "Wow, you're one smart, strong, resourceful woman. Why can't all women be like you?" but was probably "Get off that shelf, you crazy girl, before I have to clean up oodles of blood and tomatoes! Why am I cursed to work with a woman?"

19. Since my Spanish is limited, I simply turned my head and looked at him, waiting for the translation.

20. He rolled his eyes and said, "Get. Down."

21. I did.

22. He got the tomatoes, muttering something about "bloody white girls" under his breath.

23. It was really weird to hear a Mexican use the word "bloody" as an adjective.

24. Why do some people think any story I share about my kids is a direct solicitation for their advice?

25. I find that annoying.

26. Reader Question: I need to make some cool finger food for our Superbowl Party this Sunday. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

For My Next Trick, I Need Absolute SIlence

Overheard yesterday in the car.

Starshine to his brothers: "Everybody be quiet! I'm trying to scratch my head."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Completely Uncalled For

Kerry Allen and I had a small "thing" today on her blog in which I inadvertently got the chorus of Electric Avenue stuck in her head. To make up for my gaffe, I posted the chorus to Macarena on her blog so she would no longer be plagued with the tune from EA.

She told me that was uncalled for, which got me thinking about a video I once saw that made me laugh. Here it is.

And, even funnier, college guys in a dorm doing the same video with one of the "players" totally unaware of the impending joke.

I Was Right! (as usual)

Long time blog readers know I have a deep-seated mistrust of goats. It's the eyes. And the head-butting. And the nasty proclivity to masticate their way through a brand new Coach handbag.

Many of you have cast aspersions on my belief that goats are mini criminals in the making. Some of you have even gone so far as to call them cute, a fact that is beside the point. Evil can be cute. Never doubt it.

Today, I bring you proof. A goat has been arrested on suspicion of armed robbery. I'm interested to see what the witnesses say at his trial.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

You Doubt?

Under the previous posts comments, Kerry Allen questioned the existence of a titanium spork (as if I would make up such a thing).



Beware the Titanium Spork!

1. I'll be working a total of 20 hours between today and tomorrow and my current reaction is the antithesis of YAY!! WOOHOO!!

2. Still, it's money.

3. I've rediscovered my love for bread pudding.

4. This isn't necessarily a good thing, since I try to justify eating it for lunch with rationalizations like "It has raisins! That's fruit!" or "The ice cream counts as a serving of dairy!"

5. Still, ice cream is dairy...

6. Saw Inkheart on Tuesday night (Preview showing--one of the perks of hubby's job) and it was fantastic.

7. Can't say the same for the man sitting next to Daredevil.

8. I won't bore you with the details of the twenty minutes before the movie that he spent talking to my son (What adult wants to talk to a stranger's kid for 20 minutes??), but I intervened when he began a long political spiel that began with his passionate beliefs regarding offshore drilling and ended with a convoluted explanation of why we shouldn't have political parties.

9. When he exclaimed that we as a country no longer behaved like a democracy anymore but more like a republic, I leaned over, smiled in a way designed to bare my teeth, and said "That's because we ARE a republic. We were founded as a republic. We've remained a republic. If your memory gets rusty, simply recite the pledge of allegiance."

10. That stopped him.

11. Underworld comes out Friday and I want to see it.

12. Maybe I'll have one day off next week and can go to a matinee.

13. I've just looked at the clock and realized that I've already used up the six minutes of free time I had between breakfast and shower and must get ready for work.

14. I'm sure I had other interesting items to add to this list.

15. Here are a few random thoughts to get you through the day.

16. Titanium sporks make excellent weapons.

17. Bread and butter pickles are really gross.

18. Why are teenage boys allowed to drive? The combination of too much testosterone and easy access to a gas pedal is destined for trouble every time.

19. Rat terriers--cute? Or tiny menaces with Napoleonic complexes the size of the Hudson?

20. Peace out.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cardboard Is Not My Friend

Middle of the night + Lights off in the hallway + Starshine's "fort" stretching from wall to wall = Epic Fail for C.J. trying to check on her boys.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Writer's Resource

While browsing writer's blogs, I came upon a discussion of Writer's Cafe (thanks Nixy Valentine!), a software program designed by an author to help w/all aspects of the creative process, especially organizing storyline. The website has a free trial download so I'll be giving it a whirl and seeing what I think of it.

Monday's Hit List

Here are a few announcements/opportunities for those of you pursuing publication:

1. Genreality, a blog run by a group of best-selling authors who span several genres, opened today. The authors describe their blog as follows:

Do you want to know where ideas come from? Or what a day-in-the-life is like? What about how a person can beat back their doubts and insecurities to become a best-selling author, or how to take your ideas and make tangible stories out of them?

If you want an honest look at what it’s like to make a living as an author, and how these authors get the job done, then GENREALITY is the place to be.

Get to know these best-selling authors as they share not only their ups and downs of living the dream, but tips and advice on how you can too.

2. There are several acceptable ways to handle a negative review of your work. Urging the editor to commit suicide isn't one of them.

3. Posted w/permission:

We all know the hardest part of being published is to grab the interest of an editor. Well, here's your chance to get your foot in the door.

Break up the winter doldrums with a contest from the Casablanca Authors
and our Acquiring Editor Deb Werksman!

Deb will make her monthly visit to the Casablanca Authors on Thursday, January 29th.

The Casa Authors invite you to submit a 50-word pitch for your book in the comment section of Deb's blog. If we like yours the best, Deb will request your full manuscript and provide feedback. Two runners up will be asked to submit a synopsis to Deb. As an added extra, several of the Casa Authors have offered critiques of a first chapter and synopsis (up to 50 pages) to selected runners-up!

What is Deb Looking For?

Single title romance (series/trilogies too!) in all sub-genres:




*romantic suspense

*erotic romance

minimum 90,000 words, please

*a heroine the reader can identify with

*a hero she can fall in love with

*a world is created

*a "hook" Deb can use to sell the book in 2-3 sentences

Contest Rules

*The contest will run from 12:01 a.m. on January 29 and end at noon on January 30. All pitches must be entered into the comments section of Deb's blog by noon on Jan. 30. No pitches may be emailed to the blog, to individual authors or to Deb. Emailed pitches will be automatically disqualified.

*Please enter pitches ONLY for finished, polished manuscripts that are at least 90,000 words in length. No works in progress please.

*Winners will be announced on Saturday, February 14 on the Casablanca Authors blog. No individual messages will be sent to winners. The winner and runners up have until 5 p.m. on Monday, February 16 to send the full manuscript/and or requested synopsis to Deb's assistant Lisa Acosta at lisa.acosta@ sourcebooks. com. If the winning MS is not received by the deadline, a runner up will be chosen. Deb will respond within
three to four weeks. Critique runners up will be notified as to how to proceed.

*Decisions of the judges (Deb, our publicist Danielle, and the Casa Authors) are final.

*Winning this contest does not in any way constitute a guarantee of publication or further consideration by Sourcebooks Casablanca.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

July 17th, 2009

I know where I'll be! I just saw the full trailer for this tonight at the theater. Looks incredible.

Harry Potter & The Half Blood Prince

Contest Alert

Writer's Digest is having their annual writing contests. One of the categories is genre short stories. First place winner in each category receives $1000 and other prizes. You can find the rules, deadlines and more information here.

Come In To My Parlor

Said the spider to the fly...

(Please note that I was going to put a picture of a Black Widow up with this post. I googled it, found several that were appropriate, but just couldn't overcome my ingrained ICK response enough to have a spider pic on this blog.)

Conversation I recently overheard:

Starshine: Hey! Did you know that spiders eat their babies?

Daredevil: What?? Gross.

Scientist: Only the Black Widow eats her kids.

Daredevil: What kind of mother does that?

Starshine: A hungry one. When spiders are starving, they eat their babies.

Daredevil: That's just wrong.

Scientist: Maybe they don't eat all of them. Just one or two to fill them up.

Starshine: Hey. You don't think Mom would ever do something like that to us, do you?

Small silence ensues.

Daredevil: Probably not.

Scientist: I don't think so...

Another small silence ensues.

Scientist: Wait! No, no she wouldn't. Know why?

Daredevil: Because she keeps the pantry full of food in case she gets hungry so she isn't tempted to eat her children?

Scientist: Well, yes, there is that. But I meant that she doesn't let us eat sugar and bad stuff so she obviously isn't fattening us up for a good dinner.

Starshine: Well, if she ever changes her mind, we should split up and run for it. We're faster than she is.

Guess this nixes my plan to dress up as a spider and creep up behind them ... I really can't afford the therapy bills.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Tie Them Down!

1. It's only Thursday? That seems impossible.

2. This whole cram-as-many-hours-as-possible-into-my-work-schedule-and-still-keep-up-with-writing-kids-and-housework thing is not nearly as easy as it sounds.

3. Yesterday, I heard Guns N Roses newest single (called "Better") on the radio.

4. Unlike their first single from their latest album (Chinese Democracy), this song actually had potential.

5. Yanno, a hook, or something very close to it which, sadly, their first single completely lacked.

6. How does a band that gave us Sweet Child Of Mine, Knocking On Heaven's Door, and Welcome To The Jungle write a song without a hook???

7. But I digress.

8. "Better" has potential but fell far short of the mark for one reason: poor audio mixing.

9. Just like the first single from this album, the guitar overrides the vocals and the bass notes are wimpy at best with the end result sounding like something a garage band mixed in, well, their garage.

10. This is GNR we're talking about. Surely they could have hired the best producer and worked in the best studio. It's not like they can't afford it.

11. Of course, I have to acknowledge the very real possibility that most of their profits went right up their noses.

12. Anyway, I'm disappointed because I hate to see any artist--band, author, actor--who's been at the pinnacle of their career slap together a half-hearted effort and call it their best.

13. Starshine's birthday was Tuesday. He woke up that morning, rushed into my bedroom, and announced that he hadn't slept well.

14. I smiled and told him I understood he'd been too excited to sleep.

15. He looked confused and informed me that he hadn't slept because he'd been growing.

16. He then proclaimed that he'd only come up to the middle of his forehead when he was seven and didn't I notice the difference?

17. I agreed he was much taller than the night before.

18. He spent his birthday money on two new Wii games and a mini trampoline.

19. He wanted me to try the trampoline.

20. I did.

21. Turns out I need to vigorously tie down certain parts of my anatomy for that particular activity to be safe for anyone in a five foot radius around me.

22. Reader Question: What do you do to relax after a long day?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

On The Same Page?

I found this post, listing some agent and editor responses to queries from a soon-to-be published author very interesting. :) Goes to show that you should take every suggestion or critique with a grain of salt and carefully examine whether that rings true for you.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Vileness Expelled!

1. We all know cinnamon candy is my weakness.

2. My downfall.

3. I don't turn down cinnamon candy unless it's obviously been half-chewed by somebody else and then dropped on the floor.

4. Three days ago, I learned a valuable lesson about the danger of that particular vice.

5. Three days ago, a friend and co-worker of mine informed me we were going to sample a new product we'd received--Chocolate Coated Chewy Cinnamon Bears.

6. I had my doubts.

7. For one, I'm not a fan of chocolate, and I'm not sure chocolate and cinnamon really go together very well.

8. For another, covering a chewy cinnamon bear with chocolate is a lot like covering a gummi worm with chocolate and there's no way on God's green earth I'd ever let such a monstrosity near my tongue.

9. This was, however, a chewy cinnamon bear, an item rarely sold in stores anymore and, truth be told, my favorite even above Hot Tamales.

10. I agreed to taste it.

11. Seconds later, my gag reflex kicked in and forcibly expelled the foul mouthful even as my brain screamed, "No! Keep chewing!! That's a cinnamon bear--there must be something good about it!"

12. Sadly, there was nothing--absolutely nothing--redeemable about that candy.

13. I'm not alone in my opinion. Seven other unwitting employees tried it (mostly because I assured them they'd love it) and everyone gagged and spit it out except one hardy soul who couldn't bear to waste the chocolate.

14. So, lesson learned.

15. I won't pop cinnamon stuff willy nilly into my mouth from now on.

16. Er...Make that I most likely won't pop cinnamon stuff willy nilly into my mouth from now on.

17. Few things smell worse than a soaking wet dog. *holds nose and glares and sopping wet Chow currently sprawled next to my desk.*

18. I got stuck this past week in the midst of my SF revisions. The characters stopped talking to me, the scenes refused to happen, and I began banging my head against the desk in frustration thinking I'd never figure it out.

19. Yesterday, in my 45 minute break (12 hr shift, 45 min break. Loooong day.), I decided to call Katy and brainstorm, since she is known by one and all as the plotting guru. Or if she isn't, she should be.

20. Within ten minutes, we had it all sorted out, and it's going to rock.

21. I work six days in a row this next week and am looking forward to it in much the same way I looked forward to the one dentist appointment where I knew I was going to get my teeth drilled without the benefit of novocaine.

22. Reader Question: What's the worst candy you've ever tried?

Friday, January 9, 2009

First Step--London. Next Step--The World!

Saw this link today. Never mind how amazing it is that there are people out there capable of carving ice into incredible art. What caught my attention was the team from Britain who is designing a Godzilla-like Pigeon trampling the city of London.

My kind of people.

Told you there was a Pigeon Mafia.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Conversations That Make No Sense

A conversation that happened today between myself and a coworker whom I barely know.

Coworker: I heard you're going to see a movie tonight! I want to see a movie! Can I come?

Me: Um, no. I'm going on a dinner and a movie date with my husband tonight for my birthday.

Coworker: But I really want to see a movie! Can't I come too?

Me: It's a date. With my husband. For my birthday.

Coworker: I can sit behind you.

Me: No.

Coworker: I won't even say a word. Please?

Me: Wow. No. It's. A. Date. *begin enunciating words carefully since brain damage is a possible factor.*

Coworker: So I can't come? Even if I just sit behind you guys?

Me: NO.

Coworker: You know, that really hurts my feelings.

Me: I don't see how it possibly could. I'm going on a date with my husband for my birthday. No one else is invited. I wouldn't take my best friend with me, much less a woman I barely know. If you want to see the movie, go to the theater and buy a ticket. I don't care. But you aren't going with me.

Coworker: Fine. I just might go anyway. But don't worry. If I see you, I'll look away so you don't know I'm in the same room.

Me: Sheesh. I'm too old for junior high politics. See you later. *walks off*

Birthday Thoughts

Today is my 35th birthday, and while I don't feel especially philosophical this morning, I wanted to take a look at the upcoming year and jot down a few things I want to accomplish. (Naturally, the anal part of my personality refuses to allow me to make a list of anything less or more than 35!)

1. Reorganize my workspace. (This entails new office furniture, filing systems, and an idea board on the wall. Plus the hanging of my favorite Captain Jack Sparrow poster for inspiration.)

2. Develop the habit of walking the 1.6 miles around my neighborhood four days a week.

3. Work on two writing projects at the same time.

4. Get rid of all the stuff I no longer use.

5. Hang out with my kids every chance I get.

6. Get some comfortable chairs or a swing for my front porch.

7. Get to know the employees of my local bookstore by name.

8. Resist all homicidal impulses while I'm at work.

9. Oh, fine. Resist all homicidal impulses period. There. Happy?

10. Do something special with each boy each month for that rare one on one time.

11. Go on a date with my hubby every month.

12. Cut fried foods out of my diet.

13. Bake bread.

14. Get to the bottom of the ironing pile just once. Once.

15. Better give myself two years to accomplish that.

16. Travel to China to bring home my daughter.

17. Go back to Chicago for a day.

18. Help Daredevil publish a comic book.

19. Read at least 50 books.

20. Play tag on our front lawn.

21. Teach Starshine how to keep his room clean.

22. Enjoy the quiet when I've got it.

23. Get up early 5 days a week to write.

24. Do better about keeping up with my Live Journal.

25. Maybe post once a week?

26. Bake cookies often.

27. Call my friends just to check in.

28. Develop friendships within my local writers group.

29. Have the good sense to steer clear of any head injuries this year.

30. Blog daily (or just about) on The Last Word.

31. Sign with an agent.

32. Show my hubby how much I appreciate him.

33. I can't think of any more.

34. And I really have to get ready to go to work now.

35. So these last three will be left open so I can be flexible and add things to the list as I feel like doing them.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Great Post!

Author (and fellow Pixie) Kay Cassidy has a fantastic post on how to maximize your productivity to reach your goals this year. I found several suggestions very helpful.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Writer Beware

During my month-long vacation from writing, I invested plenty of time plowing through some of my TBR pile. I read a couple gems (like Lilith Saintcrow's Night Shift)a few ho-hums, and three absolute stinkers (Two of which I just couldn't make myself finish because, yanno, reading is supposed to be fun, not irritating).

I found it interesting that all three of the stinkers irritated me for the same reasons--amateurish mistakes, clunky writing, and an assumption that I couldn't remember anything they'd written on the previous page.

So here, for your enlightenment, I'd like to list a few things to watch for in your own writing. Should any of these raise their ugly heads in your manuscript, prune ruthlessly.

1. Telling instead of showing. This drives me nuts. Some authors refuse to show their character's emotions through dialogue, action, and body language and instead, hijack the book's momentum with a page or two of useless, heavy-handed exposition designed to convince me their character feels upset and has valid reasons for it. Other authors show me their character's emotions but then second-guess my intelligence and proceed to rehash what they just showed me with a page or two of useless, heavy-handed exposition.

Don't do it.

Think of your favorite movies. The camera captures the action and the character's emotional response within milliseconds of each other and leaves you secure in that knowledge while the scene changes and the action rushes forward. Do that. Stepping in with exposition instead is like a director telling his actors to maintain blank faces and then hiring a narrator to fill in all the gaps for his audience.

Show your audience and trust them to get it.

2. Beginning a paragraph with a character's name and then reminding me halfway through the same paragraph which character I'm reading about. In fact, it bugs me when an author does this on the same page, unless there are multiple characters present. If you start the chapter with "Sarah Hightower hated her bright yellow couch" and there are no other female characters introduced, don't reference Sarah's name five times a page. I get it. I'm with you. I haven't paused to wonder if we're still talking about Sarah.

3. Frequently reminding me of something I already know. If your character has a specialized skill--let's say she can sense the presence of angels--that's cool. Work it into the plot as soon as you can, acquaint me with her skill, let me know she's the only one who can sense the presence of angels and then, just let her exercise her skill. Don't feel obligated to remind me every single time she senses the presence of angels that she's the only one who can do it. Especially since writing in deep POV would mean that the skill is something she takes for granted and wouldn't spend much time explaining to herself.

Trust me to remember how you've set up the conceit and then just run with it. Second time I get reminded, I'm still with you. Third time, you get an eye roll. Seventh time, I'm ready to look up your home address and tell you just what I think about an author who would sabotage a perfectly good story by hitting me over the head with facts I already know.

4. Cheating me out of a character's emotional arc. I really hate it when I'm immersed in a story and something Bad happens on page 51 to the main character (who is already in over her head) and she is devastated until page 52 where she is inexplicably joking around with the hero. That makes no sense and turns your heroine into a two-dimensional farce.

Take the time to explore the impact of the plot/conflict on your characters. You don't have to wallow in it. The plot still moves forward. The conflict still escalates. But your characters should move forward bearing their new emotional wounds and fears and those help determine their new responses to whatever comes next. I can't take seriously any character that has the emotional range of a teaspoon. (Little shout out to Hermoine.)

There you have it. Happy writing! (And much happier reading!)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Regular Routine, Here I Come

1. Tomorrow, the kids go back to school and I can resume my regular routine.

2. This means 5 a.m. wake up calls to write, hustling the kids out the door to the bus, then running off to work for the day.

3. I have a revision letter from an agent for SF so that's the first project I'll tackle, though the first book in RC is already taking shape in my head.

4. Also, Katy and I will resume our posting schedule on Swords & Stilettos, so I'll have plenty of stuff to keep me more than busy.

5. The other night, a lady at Paul's table requested coffee with extra cream.

6. He was slammed, so I brought it to her.

7. She took one look at the bowl of creamer I'd brought and said, "Oh, you're going to have to get back to that kitchen and do better than that. That won't even get me started. Get going."

8. *C.J. puts on her Oh No You Didn't face*

9. I don't respond particularly well to that sort of arrogant rudeness.

10. I went back to the kitchen, found the LARGEST bowl I could lay my hands on, filled it full of creamer, and slapped it in front of her, leaving her mouth hanging open in shock as I walked away.

11. Really, is it too much to expect people to ask for things with basic courtesy?

12. Probably.

13. Starshine's birthday is next week, and he's very excited.

14. He's invited two friends over for a sleepover on Friday night.

15. Since we've had three sleepovers in the past two weeks, I'm a little burnt out on the idea, but there you have it.

16. My birthday is this Thursday.

17. Last year, my hubby threw a party for me. First birthday party I'd had in years and it was fun.

18. No party this year, and no cake this time (At my request--he's got Starshine's cake and a wedding cake to work on and I'm caked out anyway.) so this may be a fairly quiet birthday.

19. I tried Carmex lip balm for the first time recently and discovered it's the equivalent of Ben Gay for the mouth.

20. Nothing says sexy like lips that reek of arthritis cream.

21. Reader Question: Name one genre of fiction you haven't read or won't read and tell me why. =)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Heinlein's Rules for Writing

A fellow writer forwarded this link to me. These rules were published in 1947 and still hold true today. I believe rule #3 doesn't refer to polishing a rough draft, but rather refers to finishing a work to the point that you're submitting it and then continuing to tinker with it (without a revision letter from agent or editor) instead of beginning the next manuscript.

What do you think of these?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Boo! Hiss!

Tonight I did something I've never done before. No, I didn't run over a dwarf. I'm saving that for next year.

Think that was random? That's nothing compared to the cinematic travesty that is Spirit.

Tonight, for the first time ever, I was so completely underwhelmed by a movie, I walked out. A mere 25 minutes into the film, I just walked out.


To answer that question, let's take a look at those first 25 minutes.

Minutes 1-3: Scene opens in a quasi-black and white motif with slow falling snowflakes and a Dick Tracey meets Batman feel to the narration and ... Oh. Wait. I forgot. The first ten seconds are this weird flash of part of a woman's face saying something about how she's Death and Spirit was the only man to ever escape her grasp. I found it odd that Death should sound like a Valley Girl trying to play the role of a Serious Actor.

Minutes 4-8: Cool quasi-black and white motif continues through cemetery inexplicably full of cats and we finally see Spirit whose phone rings so long it baffles our modern sensibilities. Does he not have voice mail? An answering service? The now nearly defunct answering machine? Apparently not. I'm cool with the phone thing because I get that this has a 40's hard-boiled detective noir feel to it. Of course, then someone goes and uses the word "bling" and leaves me hopelessly stranded with one foot in the 40's and one in the 90's.

Anyway, we're treated to a conversation where a cop calls on Spirit to come because "something big" is going down and it probably involves Octopus.

Octopus. Hm. Now, where have I seen a comic book villain along the lines of an Octopus? Oh, yes. Spiderman. I guess the octopus is a pretty scary beast, right? Wrong.

Minutes 9-13: Spirit runs through his city spouting a running monologue of how much he loves his city and blah, blah, blah and I begin to notice a trend. Every conversation and monologue is chock full of vague, uselessly generic phrases that tell me absolutely nothing. We're 13 minutes into the film and I don't know anything about the characters and I'm struggling to care.

Minute 14: Spirit interrupts his useless monologue to rescue a damsel in distress. She is wowed. I wait for PLOT to begin. Surely this woman has a purpose to the story, right? Wrong. She's in and out of the movie in less than a minute and I'm supposed to just hop back on the Spirit monologue to nowhere train like I don't care that so far "disjointed" is the most complimentary phrase I can come up with.

Minutes 15-too long: Spirit somehow meets up with a cop and somehow arrives at a boggy marsh where another cop has already been lured and shot and some woman has come out of the water, gone back under, and swam away with a treasure chest. Octopus shows up and begins a dastardly duel with Spirit while his bumbling sidekicks annoy the crap out of everyone with their vacuous grins and nonsensical babblings.

Octopus and Spirit duke it out, each pulling unlikely weapons out of the mud in a fight scene that tries to be both surreal and funny and instead falls flat. At one point, the two begin smack talking each other in a script lifted straight from Showdown at the OK Corral. I began checking the screen for spurs, saddles, and John Wayne. Octopus caps off his pseudo-Western speech with the spine-chilling "I'll larn ya. I'll be larning ya real soon." and I realize this may be the first cinematic villain ever whose sole weapon is his ability to be the most annoying person in the general vicinity.

Stop! Or Octopus will irritate you to death.

The last few minutes of my time spent in the theater were full of a loosely strung together monologue (yet again) of Spirit's past (complete with the pivotal moment for himself and what I assumed will be his love interest if the director ever figures out that a story is supposed to have an arc...and may I say that the pivotal moment is so extreme that even I, with my finely honed suspension of disbelief, couldn't swallow it as justification for anything) and the kicker here is that this entire monologue is aimed at a cat.

A cat.

I talk to my cat so I get that. I do. But I can't really take seriously a guy who suddenly decides (for the sake of getting information to the audience) that he should spill his guts to a cat.

At this point, my boredom became more consuming than my desire to digest any more random bits of information, and I left.

Now, if there are any fans of the actual comic book Spirit out there and you went to see the movie and think the sun rises and sets with it, that's fine. Maybe it's a movie only someone well-versed in Spirit comic lore could ever grasp, but if the producers wanted to make any money out of the general public they needed to embrace one simple concept and apply it to the film: EVERY story needs a plot. A little GMC (goal, motivation, and conflict) for each main character would be helpful too. The only GMC we're given is that of the potential love interest and, as I said, her reaction is too abrupt and far-fetched to be believable in the least.

The only interesting cinematic moments I encountered tonight were the previews.

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