Monday, December 31, 2007

MMWUC for December 31, 2007

Writers, take the day off. Take tomorrow off, too. But like Scrooge said to Bob Crachett, "Be here all the early the next day," the first day of your future writing career starts with a cold, hard stare in the mirror. What do you really have to do to be the best writer you want to be? I have to make my opening forty pages sizzle more.

The joy of writing and the struggle to get published begins anew.

By the way, I'm having oysters on crackers at midnight. How do you ring in the new year?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Steal this idea - "Fifty Places"

When I first read the article that made a snide remark to this mythical book, I thought it was a real book already. The writer did call it a best-seller, and with the proper treatment, I think this could be a best-selling idea either fiction (with some story attached) or non-fiction.

"Fifty Places Not Worth Seeing Before You Die"

What are the fifty places you don't think anyone needs to visit?

The inspiration for this idea suggested Shreveport, Louisiana and gave a convincing argument for me not to visit this town. I thought of Camden, New Jersey as another possibility. Perhaps in your non-fiction story, your protagonist finds this lists and decides to visit all fifty places. Perhaps the news wires pick up on his story after a while. Tourism picks up in these towns pick up. The towns get an influx of money and start to flourish. The protag gets hailed for his work. A noble peace prize is in the offering. Of course, our protag is a near idiot figure out the rest. Think "Forrest Gump" meets Bill Bryson.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Banned But Not Forgotten

On January 2nd, the world changes. No more smoking at cafes in France. This is hard to imagine, and I wonder how many ex-pat American writers, who lived and wrote in Paris, are rolling over in their papers at the moment?

I don't smoke, but I always have liquids nearby, sipping, sipping, sipping when I write. I can't imagine if diet coke (which actually is bad for us) were to be banned. How would I cope? Coffee! How many writers can't live without it? What do you have/do that you can't live without if the Lords of Laws banned it? Fuzzy dice? Pencils in mouth/behind ear/betwixt fingers? Cigarettes in YOUR house?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fired for Writing and Dumb Crooks

Okay, it's a teaser. The woman in this article was fired for writing on the job. She only wrote during the slow times. Slow times! What's that?

Why can't I write a criminal as dumb as these? Oh yeah, a novel must make some sense and these people make no sense.

Hope the holidays were wonderful for all. Time to get ready for our New Year's Day bash...Asian food for all, and then down to some serious writing about some non-serious stuff.

I thought I saw Austin Carr while I was visiting home in New Jersey, but a thug blocked my view and a redhead had him covered up.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Stealing a few minutes at my sisters. Happy holidays to all and hope Santa brought each of you an acceptance.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On the Road

I've put the cat out, shut off the gas, and blown out the candles. Christmas beckons nine hours up the road in New Jersey. I've spent weeks decorating the house with the spouse so that I can leave. I cleaned the fish tank completely. Eighty-seven confused guppies eye me with distrust. To get revenge, every female gave birth yesterday and twenty-five new ones float near the surface looking things over. The lighting auto-timer is set; the next door neighbor is armed with food for the outside birds. The clean car awaits my form in the well-worn cushions, as the wife shoves one more present into the back buckling the roof and obstructing any view of the road behind me. I've got a diet coke to make it to the daylight hours and five days of computer withdrawal.

Everything is set as the computer is turned down and the only weighty thought on my mind is that we don't own a cat, so where did that one come from? Must be a Festivus Miracle.

Of course, now that I'm ready to post this, I find the water heater leaking from the only pipe that does not hang over our enlarged pan under the dual system. Every time we go on vacation, something happens to the heater or the water system. That dang cat must have chewed on it.

Early happy birthday, Skippy, if you're reading this.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Makes Squirrely Sense to Me

"Squirrels are just rats with good PR," saith the Michael J Fox character on "Spin City". But I'm finding them smarter than I realized because they use shed rattlesnake skin to mask their scent from predators. Why didn't I rub up against Richard Gere when he sat behind me in a restaurant. I could have used some positive scent while hunting females. What's the point? The importance of scent as one of the five senses should never be lost on writers. Without it, our stories could be struck dead by a predator.

By the way, happy solstice.

Friday, December 21, 2007

"The Monkey's Raincoat" by Robert Crais

Okay, I'm a bit late coming to this book published in 1987, but Jack Getze said Crais be one good writer, so I cracked it open. Besides, the cover's red tag read, "Named one of the century's 100 favorite mysteries by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association." That fancy tag and Getze were right, this was a great read. Elvis Cole, a literate, wisecracking Vietnam war vet is an L.A. detective who must find the wayward husband of a mousy wife and pushy female friend. The case mushrooms into something bigger, and Elvis brings in his deadly and mostly silent partner, Joe Pike, as the body count climbs. The story gathers momentum with its tight prose and well-drawn characters until the conclusion when people must decide what they are willing to fight for and die for. Hands down five stars.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Resolutions for 2008

Everyone I know is making resolutions, so I've made mine.

1. Eat better in order to think better so I can write better.
2. Work out five days a week to build stamina so I can write better and write every day.
3. Practice meditation for inner strength to find value in rejections and joy in acceptances.
4. Sleep more regularly and build a schedule that supports continuous submissions.
5. Listen more and talk less when others evaluate my work.

And finally, kill no more than two squirrels per week while imagining they are agents who've rejected me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Will Strike for Strong Verbs

Strike, strike, strike...Why is writing not considered hard work by the masses?

If you're tired of holding a picket sign, you can always write about a new species of giant rat! Maybe the striking writers mind-meld with the rats and have them attack the evil enemy. Oh, wait! "Ben the two of us..." It's been done before.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Steal These Ideas - "I'll Raise You Two Novellas"

In this story, a postcard arrives at its destination 93 years late. No joke. I'm thinking that there has to be a story buried in there somewhere, perhaps even an inventive murder mystery. Where was it all these years? Why did it get returned now? Could the news on the postcard hold clues to a murder from nearly 100 years ago that caused the rise of one family by the ruination of another, and that this is someway to get the investigation restared. Murder cases are never closed. Hmmmmmmm.

In this story, here's a new twist on an old story that usually stars a man. This woman has ten husbands! It's an immigration scam, but I bet it would make for a great TV movie of the week. Okay TV movies of the week usually aren't great, but someone needs to snap this up before it is a bad episode on CSI: Miami (a really awful show) or Law and Order: Flint, Michigan.

Monday, December 17, 2007

MMWUC for December 17, 2007

EXERCISE: "Final exams for students," Mr. Chips said. "Sometimes life is simple, and you just need to focus on the important things at hand. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. For the next ten minutes, write from the protagonist's POV, 'All I want for Christmas is...'."

MUSINGS: I'll be on the road, weather permitting, next Monday. And I'm not taking my laptop or accessing my computer or worrying about what wonderfully witty things everyone is saying that I'm missing. Sometimes you just have to put the computer aside, but it is somewhat like withdrawal, especially if some of the things you want for Christmas relate to the computer and what it brings to you: the hope and possibility of publication in my case via email submissions. But more so, there is the pause that refreshes when you set it aside for several days. Like any lifestyle choice that becomes habit after a while, you learn what you can do without, that in the past has just been filler in your life. For me, I think I need to shut off the Internet for a few hours a day to concentrate on writing and not react like a Pavlovian dog each time the new mail dinger chimes. It would also cut down on my laundry. The number of drool bibs is getting a bit excessive.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Steal this idea - "The Next Sound You Hear"

From the Live Science web site, something you should definitely mark as a favorite if you write science fiction, this item caught my attention.

Speedier Satellites -- A primary cause of a warmer planet, carbon dioxide emissions, is having effects that reach into space with a bizarre twist. Air in the atmosphere's outermost layer is very thin, but air molecules still create drag that slows down satellites, requiring engineers to periodically boost them back into their proper orbits. But the amount of carbon dioxide up there is increasing. And while carbon dioxide molecules in the lower atmosphere release energy as heat when they collide, thereby warming the air, the sparser molecules in the upper atmosphere collide less frequently and tend to radiate their energy away, cooling the air around them. With more carbon dioxide up there, more cooling occurs, causing the air to settle. So the atmosphere is less dense and creates less drag.

What if...The Atmosphere Stabilizing Satellite (ASS) crosses over a suddenly less dense hole in the upper atmosphere and disappears into space because the signals can't find the satellite. On Earth, the ASS no longer covers the planet with its cloud seeding and storm disruption rays. Storms overcome some areas and apocalyptic events occur until...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lexophile Humor

Humor for Lexophiles (lovers of words):

1. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

2. Police were called to a day care where a three-year old was resisting a rest.

3. Did you hear about the guy whose left side was cut off? He's all right now.

4. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

5. The butcher backed up into the meat grinder, and got a little behind in his work.

6. To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

7. The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

8. A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

9. A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.

10. Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.

To see the rest, go to this site. (thx to DB...who really needs to update his blog.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Steal this idea - "Meccamania"

This article about the pilgrimage to Mecca got me thinking. What if...

A para-military group made up of a group of people bent on personal revenge and financial banking acquires a nuclear weapon and targets the time of pilgrimage to deliver "their final solution." Someone in the group balks at the thought of this horrendous act, but before she can get the attention of help, she is liquidated. Her death, though, captures the interest of a former Muslim friend, and minor police official, and he starts to investigate. Soon, he realizes the exact nature of the threat, but is rebuffed by his superiors who consider him lower class. He reluctantly turns to MI7 for help and is reeled into the world of secrets, agents, connections to the Massad (sp) and the CIA that can be used for good and for evil in a desperate attempt to stop the para-military group. And he only has a week to gain this trust and stop the slaughter of millions.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ebaying your book

Bid on book, tab, and curious rejections of fellow novelists book, "In Stereo Where Available" by internet friend, Becky Anderson. I'll have to remember this additional marketing approach. I wonder what I can get for an autographed version of my college thesis, a short story entitled, "Apologies to William Faulkner"? It's brilliant! Brilliant!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Faking it!

Trying to get my "average joe" some false identification. How would you do it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's inspiring you this morning, afternoon, or evening?

My brain moving too slowly is morning this. Inspiration. Marques De Paiva Gourmet organic arabica coffee--medium roast. Help maybe, but takes twenty minutes. Meanwhile.

Meteor shower could inspire. The feathery trails of the meteorites lingered. I knew they were remains of ancient ice, the stuff of life. Could they be bringing new life to this dead planet?

Ice storm could inspire. Ice continued to rain over me. Damn volcano blowing up in what was Indonesia. The whole world's gone mad. It's April. We haven't seen the sun in months, and it hasn't been over thirty-two degrees in six months. To hell with global warming. Mother Nature is laughing somewhere.

Coffee. What if it was laced with small trace amounts of cocaine? What if the addictive factor in coffee is not caffeine, but cocaine? What if Juan Valdez was really the mastermind behind my paranoid dreams that made me wage a one-man war against the coffee industry?

Whew! Enough coffee for me. I think I'll go paint the front porch.

Monday, December 10, 2007

MMWUC for December 10, 2007

Writers are still on strike. Write your own wake-up call and post it here in comments.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


After a day of falling trees, choping wood, and stacking a 1/2 cord of wood, we did some Christmas decorating at my SIL's house. I got home. "Casablanca" was on. I watched. Dialogue so sharp, I've got paper cuts on my ears. How'd they do that? How can I do it?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Auctioning of Manly Men

Okay, I combined two links into one. Check out the December 5th blog on PUB RANTS about the auction process the agent went through. Hey, I thought it was interesting. Who are the ten most manly men of the writing world? Check it out. Hemingway, London, and Twain top my list. Of course, there is this viking I know and his main character, Austin.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Editing Muse

Yesterday was a brilliant day of editing. I didn't know there was an editing muse to guide my hand so skillfully. What other muses are out there that I'm not taping into?

(The 16 oz. Hershey bar probably didn't hurt the process either.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Steal this idea - "The Cannabus Conspiracy"

Robert Jones is a medical beat reporter for the Tacoma Times. Fresh from the wires, he reports on medical breakthrough from an independent research organization indicating that marijuana cures several kinds of cancer. Through his column, he champions the government to move quickly to get the active ingredients in marijuana available to the hundreds who die daily. Hours after the news breaks, Xanfield, Inc., a large multi-national corporation headquartered in Washington, files a patent to produce a product based on this research. A coalition of senators and representatives fast-tracks FDA approval and six months later "Marijuana Matrix" is available for only selected test candidates prior to being made available to the general public.

Xanfield's stock has gone through the roof. Everyone is happy. Jones has cancer. When he approaches Xanfield to be a test candidate adding that he has the benefit of national exposure through his column on the drug's positive results, he is not taken as a candidate. He is shocked that he's been denied despite being a perfect candidate. His prognoses is not good, and he decides to spend what time he has left doing things he loves. Then the note arrives, and he's pulled into an investigation of Xanfield executives who've done well financially, the senators and representatives who've done well financially, and the key persons at the "independent" research lab who've done well financially. Test results with the note lead to clues indicating the results were faked, and all the candidates hand selected to make the results look good.

Can Jones live long enough to expose a massive fraud? Can he find the evidence? And what femme fatal (you knew there had to be a love interest) left him the information and falls for a dying man over his current love, who may or may not have set him up?

Steal this idea. I'd love to read it in two years or so.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

New Resources

A few new resources I've added:

* Publications Coach, under the Writing Help lavel, which provides writing tips.

* Reading Recommendations at Stop Your Killing Me, under the Mystery and Crime Stuff label, which provides lists upon lists of recommendations for reading

* Murder She Writes, under Mystery and Crime Stuff label, which provides writing related help from a quintuplet of writers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"The Concrete Maze" by Steven Torres

Jasmine Ramos is 13 years old and missing. That is the cold, hard fact. Her father, Luis Ramos, will stop at nothing to find her and then provide the justice that the reluctant NYPD detectives can't seem to meter out. Told through the eyes of Luis' nephew, Marc, the pair dive into a world of drugs, prostitution, and corruption driven by selfish people with too much money and too little humanity. The maze Luis must traverse includes slices of New York City that most don't see and many who have wish they hadn't. A smooth read, it is heart-wrenching at several points with twists that keep you guessing at the ultimate outcome. It is an urban noir thriller engrossing enough for a straight-through read. There is a depth and maturity in the writing that I'm sure will grow and pull this reader back for more. Any minor nit-picking is just that and doesn't diminish this from being a 5 star read.

Monday, December 3, 2007

MMWUC for December 3, 2007

EXERCISE: "Tis our season," Dickens shouts, prodding Scrooge in the butt with the Grinch's pointy shoes. An army of elves march up the aisle, singing songs of grandmothers run over by reindeer and dragging a tied-up Macaulay Caulkin behind them as a sacrificial offering. Bill Murray shares a beer with the Grime Reaper and Jack Skellington on a sticky floor. Frosty the snowman slides in on an electric razor head running over Rudolph while John Boy Walton heads for bed at nine in the morning calling to his siblings. Dickens turns. "Close your eyes students, take a deep breath, and relax. For the next ten minutes, write from the protagonist's POV, 'While he slept, the events of the day streamed through his mind...'."

MUSINGS: Do you capture your dreams? If you don't, why not? They are a rich fertile ground of disassociated thoughts that sometimes lead to magical journals and perhaps novels. It isn't easy at first, but I find, if I talk about them immediately upon waking up or write them down, bits and pieces, fragments, leap out and stay with me longer. A few dreams, or really fragments of dreams, have made it into stories. Make your dreams work for you. After all, you rent them room in your brain for free.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Author Interviews on Court TV

Court TV has a show with author interviews on each Monday at 10:00 p.m. Check it out.


An Internet writing acquaintance alerted me to another site that has potential for those of us who need those other eyes when refining our stories. She has recommended Deadly Prose. If your chapter-by-chapter critiques need a boost with a full novel review, you might won't to check out this site that includes published and unpublished authors and a screening process.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

NANOWRIMO's Next Novel Nudge

2008 NANOWRIMO is over. I failed to achieve the NANO goal. Congratulations to all who did whether they poked along at 1,667 words per day or wrote like a possessed demon whose muse wouldn't let go of them, shaking their fingers furiously until the last strong verb beat the crap out of a useless "was." Sammi slammed over 10,000 words in a day; some writers unknown to me did even more.

I covered just under 11,000 words in my attempt to Nanoize my next novel and did some editing of existing novels. While missing the NANO goal is disappointing, the whole point to NANO is to put the butt in the seat, get something done, shake off the brain dust, sharpen the thoughts, and focus on the thing that writers profess is their passion.

Writers write. It IS the only rule. And if it takes some oddball contest to wake some writers' up to that truth, I'm all for it.

Write on! Write on!! Brothers and sisters in writing. Amen. Write on!!!