Rejection

Hello Dear Reader Friends.

As you know from a post last month, I’ve completed and am ready to share my latest book.  I’ve sent out my first batch of query letters to agents I love and the responses are starting to trickle in, all three rejections.  A very nice rejection, a form rejection, and a one liner.  Luckily (maybe), I’m immune to rejection.  Years of theatre will do that to you.  We get told ‘no’ on a daily basis, in varying brutal ways.

I knew this wasn’t going to be easy.  A book birthed out of the sudden death of a bestfriendparentbrother was doomed to be fucked up.  The style is not my usual, straight-forward romp, but I couldn’t help it.  The book wrote itself in a shockingly short amount of time.  I just went where it took me and so far so good.  I make everyone cry with it which is a weirdly god-like power, or at least I think so.  Now I just have to capture that elusive Agent Pokemon.  It should be noted I am the absolute worst at self promotion.  Crafting those letters is almost physically painful.  Yes, I know.  This is a subjective business.  Lots of people get rejections.  Most people won’t make it.  You can always self publish.  Yadda, yadda.

Moments like these make me lament my lack of normalcy and wish I could be happy writing romance novels for about a day before I remembered MIDNIGHT SHOW!  BOURNE! And let Jeremy Renner cure my ills.  Now I’m all better.  So here I am, back at square one, preparing to write yet another winding love story that will make the majority of people scratch their heads, I’m sure.

Should I try to ease people into my weirdness?  A gander at the tiny notebook that holds stray plot lines and future project ideas reveals pages and pages that are all skipping off into the badlands.  Coming Soon: schizophrenia, Stockholm Syndrome, and a graphic novel about Death who falls in love with a little girl.  What has happened to my brain?  Remember that Post-Apocalyptic YA I wrote (just like everyone else) that I shelved (and should probably get back to) until I could polish and make it stand out?  Only one person (that you care about) dies in that one.  Now my mind is full of monsters that eat babies and onanistic blood baths inside of stone people.  I blame video games.  Or Obama, maybe.  Wait, who are we fingering this week?

Anybody know an agent who actually wants weird stuff?  They all say they enjoy dark and strange but I need them to seriously want dark and strange.  Are you playing the agent game or are you a fan of the self publishing world?

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The Crippling Fear of Living.

Life can make some dick moves, man.  You know this.  I know this.  It’s out there in our general consciousness.  There are thousands of trite little sayings about lemons or other bull shit like that.  And sometimes it can sneak up on you.

Today I realized this: I’m kind of pissed off at life for making me so interested in the arts.  There is literally nothing else I want to do more than be creative.  What is THAT about?  Hmm?  Why couldn’t I be passionate about real estate or construction or something remotely practical?  Instead I pick the career where ‘starving’ is most apt to be attached.

Maybe it’s because I just turned 25 and everyone and their dog is having babies and living life and, you know, not skipping along that razor’s edge called poverty for the umpteenth year in a row, but I’ve been getting more and more panicky about life.  People should tell camp fire stories about slowly dwindling bank accounts and student loans that make you weep like a little bitch more often than not because that’s where it’s at.  We used to have this grand fable tradition where we’d teach our kids to not disobey their parents or go out at night else the man-wolf/witch-hag/Crumple-horned Snorkack would surely devour them whole.

We need a new tradition.

Little Red Riding Hood, or the Girl Who Should Have Known Better.

Once upon a time there was a little girl who had the audacity to believe all the drivel the media fed her.  She though she was smart and super special and maybe she was, but not any more than the average human being because, let’s be honest, there are a lot of people out there.

One day, while skipping through the forest of higher education and dreaming of her happy future life full of reading and writing and frolicking and a definite lack of constant bank account crunching, she though it would be a good idea to crawl into bed with strangers because, come on, everyone was doing it.

 “My Fanny Mae, what big teeth interest rates you have.”  

“All the better to completely fuck up your life forever, my dear.”

“Sounds good to me!”

And she never had money, ever again.

The End.

Image

Yeah, That’s about right.

Ok, that was harsh.  But those few weeks before all the bills are due have become terrifying.  I’m waiting for the day when I really won’t make ends meet and the person who always filled in the non-meeting ends went a died on me (Thanks, life.), though obviously I miss him for more than his savior-like abilities.  So, I give in.  I lay on the couch and I shuffle through what I should have done with my life instead of this.  I ignore the fact most of the alternate careers I would be interested in would not help me fair much better (Theoretical Physics anyone?), but somehow, they’re raised up in my mind to mythic heights.  And I text one of my best Friends, Cleo, and we have conversations that go like this:

Me: I’m thinking very seriously about showering before Saturday.

Him: Yes!  Tell me why I’ve gone three days without one.  It’s the bane of my existence.  Too much work.

Me: It’s like a sickness.  I don’t know what my problem is.  It’s like each day rushes by, pointless and fruitless, all blending together, and if I shower it’s just one more way I’m measuring my wasted life.

Him: Oh fuck, we are on the same page.  It’s like you are preparing for something other than a mundane life.  Like today something will happen and I’ll be glad I showered.

Me: And when nothing happens it’s like I’ve wasted energy, time and money.

Him: Oh god.  Who are you?  We’re simpatico right now.

And then I start to feel a little better.  That I’m not the only one who got disillusioned on our path to artistry.    That I’m not alone.  That we’re all a little broken, but maybe if we hold on to each other and press close enough, we can smush everything back together.  So I decide to write a blog about it.  Because I love to write and because writing makes me feel good and because there is literally nothing I’d rather be doing.

Tell me a story (4)…

Happy Monday.  The weekend was too short.  I’m grumpy.  Hence the moody picture for this week’s picture story.  Write me some words and maybe I’ll feel better.  As always, comment with your story, poem, jib, whatever…  And check out last week if you haven’t already.  I like my story.  Is that narcissistic?  Ok, I’m word vomiting now.  Go on with your business.

Have a picture that you think would make an interesting story? Email me: sociableink@gmail.com

P.S. Anyone recognize the model?

Words (and links) on the Week…

 Happy Friday, all!  This week went by really fast, but I find myself feeling surly and weekend-ready none-the-less.  On a good (personal) note:  I figured out my series through the end.  I’ve written the first and outlined/written a fourth of the second, but I wasn’t sure how the third was going to play out until now.  Granted, this could all change.  My characters tend to do things without my permission.  But enough blabbering about me!  On to the linking…

I’ve found this week to be very listy.  Maybe because I could only concentrate on nonsensical, highly subjective things.

First comes from the Huffington Post.  They asked readers what the most beautiful words were.  Spoiler alert: Cellar door not included.  They also asked what the most disgusting words were.  Spoiler alert: Pants?  Really?

Five books inspired by dreams.  I like this, though I knew that three out of five were dream written already.  If you know me, I have the most insane dreams.  They’re like movies.  They’re ridiculously detailed and tend to make people jealous.  My sleep is lively.  And I’ve definitely dreamed entire chapters.  Does anyone else write like this?

Ten books you should have read in high school.  I did read a lot of these in high school.  When I first clicked this “alternative” list, I expected a lot more controversy.  But alas, fairly reasonable suggestions.  Any edits, reader?

A pretty awesome NPR list:  Top 100 Sci-fi Books.  I like this list a little too much.  I’m reaching new heights of nerd as of late.  This is another reader generated voting so don’t hate NPR.

This last list, Ten Ways to Start Your Story, is for my writer friends.  I tend to get inspried when I read this silly little “helpful” articles.  Yeah, you already know this stuff, but why aren’t you doing it?!  GET TO WRITING!

News:

I read this (small) article on What the UK Riots Mean for Bookstores.  I’d like to see a longer treatment of this.  Has anyone come across something like that?  Also: I’m not surprised by the gay bashing.  Unfortunately.

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now, but I’m a ridiculous Vonnegut enthusiast.  That is followed closely by my love of Poe.  The only time I’ve ever yelled at a teacher was over Poe in college.  She was an insufferable know-it-all hater and I was right.  So there.  Anyway.  Poe’s house in Baltimore may be closing due to financial difficulty.  This depresses me. 

POE WAS A GOD DAMN GENIUS! TAKE THAT BACK OR I WILL END YOU!

I’ve never been.  I should become independently wealthy and go on a book road trip.  Anyone else in?

Publishing is up!  Horrah!  Books will never die!  I probably single handily achieved this.  I spend too much on books.  Wait, never mind.  I spend the perfect amount.

Silly (and informational):

Ever wanted to have a book party?  Here’s a recipe on making Book Candies out of chocolate and fruit leather.  Mmm…tasty knowledge…

In the way libraries are always useful, New York Public Library tweeted out this find: An Online Guide to Food Spoilage.  I tend to be a little scary when it comes to food (i.e. if I don’t vomit when I smell it, it’s so totally edible) while my husband will throw something away if it looks at him wrong.  Although technically if the food has developed sentience and can look at him, it’s probably time to go.  Anyway, if you’re like me, this is a nice resource.  not related to books or words but provided by a library so I think it counts.

Every wonder what male superheroes would look like if we sexualized them the way we do females?  Well, here you go.

And finally, in honor of the zombie trend sweeping our lives (and bookshelves), a collection of zombie paraphernalia.  Any zombie-thing you could possible wish to buy.

Replace that brain with a book, lady. It's the Zombie cure!

A strange week in links, no?

As always, a video to send you off.  (WARNING: lots of bad words.  Lots and lots.  READ A MOTHER FUCKIN’ BOOK!  See?  Bad words.)

Also: Tell me a story!

Writing Contests

Apparently it’s contest season because every which way I turn on the inter-webs, I see one ad or another. Granted, most of them are coming from Writers Digest but still!  More than a dozen options.  In case you’re interested in distracting yourself in a somewhat useful (perhaps monetarily useful) way then read on.

The first (and quite possibly my favorite) is the microstyle writing contest.  The Gotham writing workshop challenges you to write a sentence with double meaning in twenty words or less.  Prizes include a workshop, a book, a Barnes & Noble gift card, a free magazine subscription.  You have till September 15 and are limited to one entry. 

In the mother-load of writing contests, Writers Digest has a plethora of options covering every genre: sci-fi, thriller, young adult, romance, screen writing, self published and on and on and on.  The prizes are varied from publication to meetings with agents to $3000 buck-a-roos.  Some deadlines are the end of this month, some not till December.  It’s worth a look, writer friends.

For my multi-talented folks, Hint Fiction has a short film contest.  All you have to do is make a one minute movie based on a short story by Hemingway, Edith Pilaf, or Eric Hsu.  Sign up by August 15th to be assigned a story.

Let me know if any of you actually enter! Feel free to practice on Monday’s Picture Story.

Tell me a story (3)…

Picture stories are probably the only thing I look forward to on Mondays. 

No new guidelines.  Just look at the picture and write whatever comes to mind.  We’ve had poems, first person rants, one-liners….make it as long or as short as you’d like.  In a few weeks we’re going to change it up a bit so enjoy your freedom while you can!  Check out last week’s if you haven’t already.

Think you have a photo that would make a good story?  Show me: sociableink@gmail.com  Don’t worry, you’ll get credit and a link to your website and/or blog.

Words (and links) on the Week…

I’ve collected far too many links this week so I hope you don’t really feel like working.  Although I doubt that everyone will be as fascinated by them as I am, hopefully there’s a little something for everyone.

Let’s start with silly, fun links first.

Pictures are worth a thousand words, right?  Do you miss the good ol’ days when you could trust a picture to not be photoshopped, when those thousand words were the god-honest truth?  Well, you’re probably wrong.  Photography and photographic tampering were born simultaneously it would seem.  Here’s a collection of historical photos you won’t believe aren’t real.  From that iconic Lincoln image, to Hitler, to Oprah, they have it all.

Here’s a blog with a small collection of what they consider the best closing lines in literature, with even more making an appearance in the comments section.

The Bulwer-Lytton Fiction contest has published their 2011 results.  This contest challenges people to write the worst opening lines they can think of.  It’s named after the author who first penned “It was a dark and stormy night…”  This year’s winner:

“Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

Sue Fondrie

Oshkosh, WI

It’s a game about books!  Finally, a place where my pointless skill-set isn’t so pointless.  Plus, it’s called It Was a Dark and Stormy Night.  Ha!

In honor of shark week, here’s a (very funny) list of 20 things that kill more people than sharks.

This week in nerd-dom, Brian Michael Bendis explains the decision behind killing Peter Parker, Spiderman’s alter ego, and introduces us to Miles Morales, the new Black/Hispanic super hero.  On why he chose to incorporate a minority into one of Marvel’s biggest assets:

“Mr. Bendis said he had also taken a lesson from a black friend who told him that Spider-Man was the only superhero that other children would let him play when he was growing up. “You couldn’t see his skin color,” Mr. Bendis said the friend told him. “He was any of us, when he was in costume.”’

In author-dom:

Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar turns 40 this year, and The Poetry Foundation has an incredibly fascinating article about both the book and the article.

The New Yorker’s Alex Ross uses Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray,

Oh, Oscar. Only you can make me wish I was a gay man circa late 19th century...

history, and opposing view point’s on Wilde’s personality to try and flesh out the man and the myth.  A book worm or a sex-addict?  A martyr or just another celebrity icon?  Fair warning, it’s really long and occasionally a bit cerebral.  I found it it interesting but then again, I have an irrational attachment to Wilde.

In News-dom:

Apparently the House Committee pushed through a bill to record all the words we make on the internet and the clicks we click.  This scares me.

Librarians are sexy.

For my little statisticians out there, here’s a nice census of librarians from 1880-2009.  There’s an obvious decline, but it’s slowing!  Love your libraries, people.

Here we have a somewhat graphic telling of the rise and fall of Borders from the perspective of a former book-slinger.  Warning: She says ‘fuck.’

Which brings me to my next bit of news: Slaughterhouse-five has been banned.  Again.  People like this are the reason I hate people.  And Missouri.  Just kidding.  Kind of.  Expect a significantly longer rant regarding atrocities such as this next week.  (If you’re confused about my ‘fuck’ segue, that’s the general objection to SH5).

A quote that made me laugh this week:

“Your 30th birthday is an important landmark. You are now ready, after ten years of dicking around with your personal style, to select a signature lipstick. This is the lipstick that will get your through thick and thin. When you are screaming for mercy during childbirth, this is the lipstick that will be smeared across your face. When you kiss the corpses of your dead parents, this is the color that will stain their cheeks. This is the lipstick that will flow into the fine lines and wrinkles around your mouth as the death rattle grips your throat. Choosing this lipstick is a momentous task. In order to complete it, you need to be slightly drunk.” (Eccentric Glamour, Simon Doonan)

For my writer friends who are reading this instead of writing, here’s a nice little blog on The 5 Essential Story Ingredients.  It may be shit we already know, but a least this way we can pretend we’re working.  It’s related to writing after!  Also, it’s presented nicely.

Whew.  Ok.  Write me a story if you haven’t already and share you’re favorite book trailer.  And have a good weekend.  I leave you with this silly video:

Have an idea for a post, want to guest blog, or think you have a picture that would make a good photo story?  Drop me a line: sociableink@gmail.com

Is there anything James Franco isn’t in? (or a musing on book trailers)

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but apparently writing isn’t what it takes to be a writer.  You need platforms.  You  need a facebook and a twitter and a blog and you have to pretend to like people now.  Which is unfortunate because half the reason I love writing is I don’t have to talk to anyone else all damn day if I don’t want to.  You can be a recluse and no one will fault you for it.  But not any more.  You  need a following before you publish (You all are my following by the way, small though it may be, and I love you for it).  Writers are part of the celebrity culture, especially considering half the books published are written by “celebrities” who I know next to nothing about.  I haven’t had cable for a long time now.  I missed the reality TV bus.  Covers of magazines confuse me. (Wait, is her legal name J-wow?)  One nice thing to come out of these blurring lines though are book trailers. 

For those of you who don’t waste your mind away watching pointless internet video after pointless internet video, a book trailer is exacty what it sounds like: an ad for a book.  Though they’ve been around for almost ten years (if Wikipedia is to be trusted), I never really noticed them until a few years ago.  It makes sense as a natural progression of the increasingly digital world, but it never occurred to me until I saw the first one and thought, “Duh.”

Turns out this is a cost that many publishers aren’t interested in covering unless the book is a sure thing at which point do we really need a trailer?  Author Myrlin A. Hermes guest blogged about how to make your own trailer to combat that very issue.  Could be nice for a few of you who are self-published (which I’d definitely help you with).

A few trailers that have stuck in my brain…

A hilarious author-centric video that has nothing to do with the book (but has lots of cameos, including James Franco):

A FANTASTIC clip in general which won the “What are we doing to our children” Moby award:

An arty, Young Adult trailer with good music and a nice level of tease:

Feel free to share other book trailers with you find in the comments.  I’m slightly obsessed at the moment.

Words on the Week…

The end of the week has finally arrived, and I’m here to help in the most important of Friday tasks: doing anything but work.  So let’s run out the clock together with a smattering of interesting, book-ish links I’ve collected for your procrastinating pleasure.

It’s been a pretty kid-centered link week.  Vanity Fair has an interesting portrait of Maurice Sendak and his upcoming children’s book Bumble-Arty, the first in three decades.  Granted his self-deprecating akwardness could be par for the course (he declares this book proves he has dementia).  It’s the first portrait I’ve ever read of Maurice Sendak.

The Guardian and children’s book author Lil Chase brought us a list of her top 10 unwords from Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Shakespeare, and more.  This is a nice example of how awesome the English language is.  No word fits?  Make it up!  So fluid.  Can you add to this list?  I was always kick-ass at Balderdash.  Are you surprised?

The New York Public Library has “granted amnesty” to kids with outstanding fines in the

$80 dollars in library fines? Suck it, I gots my diploma, bitchez.

form of a summer reading program.  For every 15 minutes they read, a dollar gets knocked off.  Now if only my University could acknowledge the wisdom in this.  Time served!  In all seriousness, this is a fantastic idea and extremely beneficial.  Libraries rule.  Keep kids on books and support your libraries, dammit.

I managed to survive on taco bell sauce packets and saltines all through college by nanny-ing.  One of those charges (my secret favorite) had a reading disorder known as dysgraphia.  It’s like dyslexia but milder.  He switched a few letters consistently and reversed his 7’s and 3’s.  Nothing crippling, but it made math homework more of a challenge.   Well, some fine folks have gotten together to create a font designed specifically to help those suffering from dyslexia.

My moosey goosey poo. Iswent shwe jus da kewtest?!1 No, really. My dog is adorable.

Feel like getting something published without actually doing any sort of work?  A notice has recently gone out requesting funny pet pictures for a potential future book.  Got a silly pet?  Put your obsessive, anthropomorphizing tendencies to good use and submit your photos!

@HuffPostBooks wins the ‘most cryptic tweet ever’ award for this gem:  Untitled book by anonymous to profile ‘life with one of most controversial figures of our time’  Don’t worry, they link to a much more informative article.

Gumiho is a nine-tailed woman fox who seduces men and eats livers. I love Korea.

io9 is bored with modern fairy tale remakes and offers us a list of ten (weird) fables they’d like to see on the big screen.  I’m not overly impressed with this list but I like the concepts and it definitely had a few I needed to look up.  Any weird/sexy fairy tales you think would make an interesting transition?

Huffington Post offers us offers us the 15 most ridiculous book titles ever.  No, seriously.  They aren’t kidding.  You can’t make this shit up.

Last but not least, L. Ron Hubbard’s great grandson offers a scathing poetry slam performance about Scientology, his family, and why you should be scared of both.

Tune in early next week for our second picture story.  Missed the first?  Check it out.  Or if you’re one of the many who told me they were too freaked out by it to write a story, maybe this will break the magic:

  It’s all about perspective, dear readers.

See? Hippies and plastic. Nothing scary about it

Hello, My Name is…

Prepare to die.

Names are a funny thing.  They can say a lot about a character before you ever get to know them and can be one of the more challenging aspects of telling a story.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a generic book or seen a generic movie and couldn’t tell you the names of the main characters to save my life. And I’m obsessed with names!  When I’m writing, even if it’s a short paragraph inspired by a fellow coffee shop patron two tables over, I have to have a name.  And more importantly, I have to have a reason for that name.  I have a hard time categorizing what it is that makes something a “good” name and that’s where you come in, reader.  Work through this with me.

One naming style I admire is J.K. Rowling’s, and in my oh-so-humble opinion, J.K. Rowling is a God.  No seriously.  Have you visited the list of Harry Potter characters on wikipedia?  There are well over 600 with first and last names, not even counting the ones with no known surnames.  Some, like the vampire Blodwyn Bludd, are a little on the nose but still.  This is a peripheral character mentioned less than handful of times.  Even if you’ve never read the books, these are the sort of names you see and get a sense of the character almost instantly.  Test:  Alecto Carrow, Eloise Midgen, and Felix Summerbee.  One of these character invented a “cheering charm,”  one of these characters is a rat bastard Death Eater, and one is a random student with acne.  None are mentioned excessively, but I’m relatively you could match up those descriptions by the sounds of the name.  I could wax poetic about Harry Potter all day.  Moving on.

While Rowling manages to make ridiculous names sound plausible, I’ve rarely seen other examples of name-describe-character that didn’t feel heavy handed.  This brings me to a second and far more ambiguous naming-style: names that just fit.  I think it’s probably more of a remark on good character building than naming.  We fall in love with their character and the name follows by default.  But what about perfect names on two-dimensional characters?  Think of that benchmark in cinematic film-making Point Break.  The main character, played deftly by Keanu Reeves, is a rough and tumble,

Johnnyutah.

Johnnyutah.

rookie FBI agent and former football star.  His name?  Johnny Utah.  HOW GREAT IS THAT!?  My friends and I tend to repeat that often, generally after something awesome happens.  You have to say it kinda like a douchebag and as one word: Johnnyutah.  When I think about it, in addition to having a superb name himself, Keanu is often given roles with awesome names.  Neo.  Johnny Mnemonic.  Don John.  Well, we can thank Shakespeare for that last one…

Smell my Scabical Punt? Isn't it sweet?

Maybe I just like names that flow, names where you want to say the first and last name.  It’s probably a combination.  I have names that translate to things in other languages, names that describe characters in a Rowling-esque fashion, I even have a character that was named after a good waiter I had the day I developed him.  Although now the name just fits.  🙂

How do you name characters?  I’m not (just) trolling for comments.  I’m quite interested.  I’m about to introduce a slew of here-to-fore unnamed characters in the second book of my series. Do you have any names you love, any Johnnyutah’s?

I leave you with this ridiculous Harry Potter name video, courtesy of Potter Puppet Pals.  I will have this song stuck in my head for the rest of my life.