Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Awesomeness X2

That's you. And you and you. Yes, it's you too. You're awesome X2 because you voted for your favorite out-of-this-world and into one similar to ours, novel in the Contest Junkies contest. That's even an awesome X2 for those of you who don't know and/or love me. They're still accepting entries for that BTW, you should check it out. What have you go to lose? It's free.

Beyond that, I want to throw in another contest I'm participating in. The 140 character pitch to agent Suzie Townsend at Shelley Watters' blog coming to you April 3rd. Man, this is a toughie, but so worth the prize. Better hurry, because you'll really need to wrack your brains on this one.

Speaking of brain wracking, I was trying to meditate earlier today based one what a gal on the radio said. Imagine a white room with nothing in it. But I imagined me in it, because obviously wouldn't I have to be there to see it? Then I wondered what I'd be wearing, so I imagined a white tunic and carpi's. Then my overactive imagination started playing with the hem of the carpi's as I sat lotus-style on the white floor while I worried about whether the floor was carpeted, concrete or wood. So much for that exercise.

Friday, March 25, 2011

We Interrupt This Hot Man Fest to Bring You An Important Announcement

Seriously, I'll get back to hot alpha men next week. At this time I want to point out that a certain novel needs some votes at the Contest Junkies website to help it earn a critique from none other than an editor at Carina Press, where my little ol' heart longs for that novel to be published. Here's the link: Contest Junkies Writing Entries.

While you're at it, have you really appreciated the fine layout of this blog? Take a look around, something might catch your eye. *Looks innocently to the right*

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Triple A - Part 1

And I'm not talking about car insurance. I'm talking about alpha males. Alpha, alpha, alpha. Join me for a three part alpha male fest guaranteed to make your heart pitter-pat. ;)

I've been doing a lot of thinking about the third installment of whatever this crazy series I'm working on is. *sigh* Yes, I know I'm supposed to be editing The Treasure Hunter's Lady because I make the declaration that I would, but. . . my brain runs in all directions.

THL is balanced by an alpha hero and a heroine who definitely has an alpha streak, but one little look from those whiskey-colored eyes and she melts. They make each other work. The hero, Abel, finds his breakthrough in the heroine and gets in touch with his omega side. Very nice. The second story in the series, The Sky Pirate's Wife, is dominated by Captain van Buren, who had his dreams crushed, so he builds a shell around himself and becomes very, very alpha. I'd be hard pressed to say whether I liked the good captain or Abel better. Abel, at least owns a sense of humor. The captain is a little trickier, but it's his stoicism that makes him humorous.

I'm having trouble with my alpha hero from the third novel, which has been through titles and been through titles. Yeah, that's a work in progress. So, clearly I'm hung up on alpha heroes. Here's why:

I was a Brown Coat before it was cool. I am madly and irrevocably in love with Captain Malcolm Reynolds. Oh, what a brooder. Great hair and superb comebacks. I have listened to Joss Whedon's commentary on Mal. I have studied him from as many angles as I can, deconstructing his character, which isn't easy given there's not a lot of back story on him. You take what you get and basically discover his story begins when the Independents lose the war.

What makes Mal an alpha? Besides the hair and comebacks.
Angst. He started out a simple man leading other men in a cause he believed in. He ended up a broken man who not only lost a battle, he lost the war. (Veterans are sexy, no?) The very first scene in the Firefly episode 'Serenity', his hopes are dashed all to hell. Which breaks him. It's enough to break anyone. So he rebels even more than he already had against the Alliance--to quote him, "May have been the losing side. Still not convinced it was the wrong one."--and takes off to some of the farthest reaches of the 'verse. The only person he's close to is his first mate, Zoe. And to be honest, he doesn't exactly share a lot with her, despite what her husband Wash thinks (see the episode 'War Stories'). There's an obvious sexual tension between him and Inara. Mr. Whedon is the expert at making couples miserable. Mal won't, for a second, hesitate to save a beautiful woman, but he also admits that Inara confuses things for him. Has to be love, has to be. Then there's cheerful Kaylee, who expresses obvious friendly affection for Mal, but in the movie, she also admits he sometimes doesn't have human emotions.

Wherein, I disagree. He takes in fugitives, knowing full well what that could mean for his life of freedom. He has the utmost respect for his crew. Even though he runs Inara's career path down at every possible turn, he loves her. I'm not really sure what's up with the Mal/Jayne relationship. Even after all this time I wonder if Jayne isn't simply muscle and comic relief. Hmm.

I think he wanted to stop feeling. He thought getting away from everything would allow that to happen. Maybe he didn't intend for his crew to become family, but they did. We watched the emotion surge when he lost friends. We watched him take on the impossible (going back to the first episode and spanning it to the movie) and therefore, become mighty. No matter what the consequences, he risked everything to let the truth shine. (Was it just me or did that sound extremely cheesy? Cheesy, right?) He went full circle and maybe got back some of his original character. Alpha hero, heartthrob. Best of both worlds.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Believable Voices

(Disclaimer: The following article is my opinion, solely my opinion, and I mean no harm by it.)

I'm a huge reader. Love it. I read lots of things, but not everything. I almost never pick up non-fiction unless it's Civil War-related, animal related, or on Wikipedia. Of late I've been reading a few things outside my reading comfort shell. A co-worker suggested a cozy mystery. I don't read mysteries because I'm never able to guess who-dunnit. As in never. Seriously. Sometimes I would play the Lotto bingo games and to this day have never won. I can't guess who the murderer is. I guess I lack a gene or something. So I don't read those because frankly, I don't care. I read this one. It's called Murder Past Due. To sum it up, it's about a widower part-time librarian at a college in Mississippi who goes nosing in on a murder because his housekeeper's daughter is the stand-in investigator.

The author is a woman and she's chosen to tell this story from a man's point of view. Right from the get-go I didn't buy it. Either the man is really a woman posing as a man or he's mildly gay. I tried (semi-hard) to buy the first-person POV as a man. It just didn't work for me. He was too fussy, too cat-loving (yes, I know some men love cats too), too sympathetic to his boarder and his boarder's mother. It wasn't plausible for me. I'm not saying the writer is bad, I just couldn't buy the protagonist as a man. Didn't work for me.

Moving on to a name you'll certainly recognize unless you live beneath a rock: James Patterson. His young adult series about birdkids. I haven't read the whole series. The one I picked up while cataloging is called Angel: a Maximum Ride Novel. A) Why did he give the kid a stripper name? B)Wow, way to plug the previous six novels at the very least twice in the book. I don't know if he planned that or if his editor thought it was a good idea, but to me it felt like a really poor marketing strategy and if anything, it made me want to read the series less. What really makes me not want to read on is the voice he chose. It does not sound like a fifteen-year-old girl is narrating the series. A forty-year-old angry-at-the-world-man-who-lost-everything-in-his-divorce, maybe. He even gave the girl a name that sounds masculine. It also switches from Max's POV to third person a couple of times and not always the same character. That threw me. Maybe it's the cold medicine I'm taking, but I had trouble following along. This is a young adult novel, so I'm thinking it's not me.

The voice is all wrong for a fifteen-year-old girl. C'mon, we all know what teenage girls sound like. Even if they're part bird, they aren't going to sound like jaded middle-aged men. Kudos on your Children's Choice Book Award Author of the Year 2010 trophy or medal or whatever, but you might want to consider that kids these days are kind of weird about their reading habits (think Twilight. What is that about?). I'm not buying into the she's the leader of this flock and is worried about being usurped by a seven-year-old.

I'm not saying that a woman can't write a character of the opposite sex (and vice versa), because some excel at it. Some heroes are written by woman and they're completely believable. Sometimes members of one sex can't even write for their own sex. My guess is that it takes work. Some editor somewhere (probably following a trend), said, "Hey, that's a super idea!" and didn't bother with whether someone like me was going to nitpick on the character. Of course, you have to take into consideration that James Patterson is "one of the bestselling authors of all time" (per his book jacket) and I'm on the bottom of the writing foodchain.

Then again, you have to consider how many authors say they don't read anymore because they go through and nitpick about things like that. See, it's not just me griping.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Thing I'm Not Talking About

As children, most of us fear the monster in the closet. Or under the bed. The one under the bed really scared me. My parents tried to tell me we left all the monsters behind in Oklahoma when we moved. I'm fairly certain that is a lie. If it isn't, I'd like to issue an apology to the people of my generation and those who follow after. There are an abundance of monsters left for you. Put something heavy in front of your closet door and pull the covers up to your ears.

Wow, childhood fears. What a hoot. Let's move on to adult fears. I'm not talking about slow metabolisms or wrinkles. Car insurance or how are we going to pay for Timmy's college? No, something even more frightful than that. The thing every writer is talking about. Rejection. *shudder*

The thing I'm not talking about, which is the thing every writer is talking about, is my rejection. No, no, no. Not every writer is talking about my rejection. God, that would be humiliating. It went a little something like this:

Me: *Thinking* Push send. Just push it. You're not going to spontaniously combust if you push send. You're not going to die. It's just a little e-mail. Push it. *Pushes send. Still thinking* There, that wasn't so bad. *pause* Oh, God, why did I do that? Can I get it back? Can I send that agent an e-mail that says please ignore the previous e-mail, I temporarily lost my mind? @#%$, $@#%!

Five minutes later...

*Thinking* Okay, now to get some work done. *Work, work, work, work, etc* *Pushes Inbox*

Inbox: No new messages.

Me: *Thinking* Whew. Made it five minutes without a rejection. Awesome. *Repeat X20*

An hour later...

Me: *Thinking* I think I'll check my e-mail.

Inbox: 1 new message.

Me: *Thinking* What?

Inbox: Dear Author, Fortunately for you we are much too busy to say just how bad your query sucked. Your "project" doesn't suit our needs. Because your query sucked. Thank you for allowing us the time to review your "project". Even though your query sucked. Good luck in finding someone who doesn't think your query sucked. I don't even have time to sign my name to this form letter, but here's the company name.

Me: *Thinking* But--but--but you didn't even have time to read it. If you're so busy and important then it should be on the bottom of a pile somewhere. You shouldn't be sending thank-you-for-annoying-me-with-your-pathetic-literary-attempts letters.

I was joking when I said it would probably be rejected out of hand. Joking. You know, funny ha-ha. So as I stared at that letter which started with Dear Author, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. Or both. Sometimes when I get started laughing, well, it escalates into a @#$% storm of crying.

I went back to work. The cheerful little Don't-Let-It-Get-You-Down voice was being held under a pool of water by the Shoulder Devil and Evil Editor who were singing the I Was Right song (which goes a little something like this: I was right and you were wrong, I'm gonna sing the I Was Right Song. I was right and you were wrong so nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!)

Common Sense was saying, look, it was to be expected. Chill. It's not like you died or anything. Heart beating - check. Air coming in and out of lungs - check. Brain circuits circuiting - check. Sun shining - check. Earth turning - check. You're good.

I thought and I thought. I wracked my brain for the possible error I made that caused immediate rejection (notice how it's bold. Terrifying, isn't it?) I decided it's my query letter. Or possibly something to do with the agent really isn't interested in the genre puzzle I presented. I still don't know what to call it. But wait, so this agent rejected me. I didn't just push the send button once, oh, no. I pushed it three times. And I didn't get three rejections. Which means my queries are sitting on the bottom of two piles. I can live with that.

The Thing I'm Not Talking About is out there. Now you know. It's hugely embarrassing to me because I failed. But then again, I'm hugely used to hugely embarrassing myself, so heck. Why not tell the world? I got rejected. How 'bout you?

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weta Nichols Writing Contest

Hey all, it's that time again! Time for the annual Weta Nichols Writing Contest. You can enter. Yes, you! You should enter. What have you got to lose?

Last year I got an honorable mention in the contest. This year, it could be you! (Because I intend to win! Ha!) Here are the deets. Follow the link to register and submit your entry.

The 2011 Weta Nichols Writing Contest

Deadline May 16th, 2011. Any manuscripts received after that will be disqualified.

Please read guidelines carefully and fill out the electronic entry form at the bottom of this page when submitting.

Guidelines:

-After completing the entry form below and paying the entry fee through the PayPal account, submit the first ten pages of your unfinished or finished novel (no short stories please) to OzarksRomanceAuthors@gmail.com.

-You do not have to be an ORA member to enter the contest.

- Send as an attachment in .doc format with one inch margins all around, double spaced, in 12 pitch Times New Roman font.

- Please send the first ten pages only, and no less than 7 pages. Stories should be previously unpublished and can be any genre, romance, sci-fi, mystery, etc.

- Your name should only appear on the entry form below and your cover page. Also on the cover page, please put your contact information, the name of your submission and the genre.

-In the header of each page of your submission, the title of your story and the page number should appear. The story title in the top left and pg. number in top right.

- Please send $10.00 per entry. Your entry payment will be made by using the PayPal button below, you do not have to have a PayPal account to make your payment this way.

- You may submit up to 5 entries. Each story will receive judges comments. If you do not want to get judges comments, please specify on your entry form or cover sheet. If not specified, it will be assumed you want comments.

- Final round winners will be judged by a publishing panel.

-Prizes are as follows:

1st place $100; 2nd place $50; 3rd place $25

To enter visit http://www.ozarksromanceauthors.com to find the PayPal form and the submission form.

Also, don't forget to sign up for annual conference as well. You won't be sorry!