Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I Talk to My Dog

Don’t judge.  She’s actually my content editor.  She’s the first line of defense when it comes to what actually makes it onto paper and what gets scratched, so you can blame her for a lot of things.

She’s a very generous editor, too.  She has a non-verbal way of communicating her approval of various writings with me—mostly with a violent thrumming of her thick tail onto whatever surface is nearby.  (That could also be due to the fact that she gets lots of treats, but I’m going to take it as a sign that she enjoys whatever I’m reading aloud to her at the moment.)

You see, I find if I read things aloud, I can really weed out the ridiculous from the not-so-ridiculous, especially with dialogue.  For example, if I were to read out aloud, “Daughter, would you be so kind as to turn down your radio?” I would know immediately how ridiculous it sounds.  I would be much more likely to say something like, “Dammit, how many times do I have to tell you to turn down that damned noise?  I can’t even think up here!”  Or something like that, but that makes me sound really old, so I would totally rephrase.

Anyway, you get the point.  So I read to my dog.  A lot.  And she doesn’t even look at me like I’m crazy.  Because I’m totally not.  Crazy, I mean.  And besides, she knows that if she accused me of being crazy simply for reading to her, I would probably stop giving her treats all day long, so she’d be much better off just shutting up and sitting there on her comfy chair and taking the torture.  It’s a rough life, but someone’s got to do it.

Currently, she’s listening to revisions of Jilly McPeak, Science Freak, and she knows more about science than any dog I know.

Also, if anyone knows how to get a dog to stop licking my fingers while I type, I would appreciate your suggestions.

Content editor, finger licker, and tail thumper...a.k.a. Savannah

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Thing

I seem to be going through a thing lately.  You know how when you sometimes overeat and then your stomach hurts but you still want dessert and you make room even though you just finished eating?  For some reason, maybe because it’s Christmas or Thanksgiving or National Knitting Day or whatever, you binge.

I am on a reading binge right now.  And after the book I just finished, I am of the mind that I need something light—like maybe something about vampires learning to square dance so that they can somehow win over the hearts of their true human loves at the next hoedown.  (No, that is NOT a plot I am working on.  At all.  Ever.)

Anyway, early yesterday I finished reading The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  If I were to give a short run-down of my thoughts, it would go something like this:

Amazing.  How the hell did I not read this book before now?  Everyone should read this book.  If you are not currently reading this book, you should drop everything and start reading it.

And then later yesterday, I started The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.  Holy tear-jerker, Batman.  I finished it today—but only barely because I was sobbing through the last 50 pages.  Not crying.  Sobbing.

I was ready for work.  Had my makeup in place.  (HAD being the operative word in that sentence.)  Had plenty of time to sit and read before the kids got home from school.  Yay, reading…because I’m apparently binge reading now.  (This could be to escape the fact that I’m a bit plot-flummoxed in my own writing, so I am escaping for a while.)

Let me start by telling you that it has been a LONG time since I have cried through 50 pages of a book.  FIFTY freaking pages.  My eyes now make me look like a puffer fish with a seasonal allergy problem.  It was meaningful and poignant and funny and full of normal teenage angst laced with kids-who-have-cancer angst.

I’m not going to tell you it was a technically difficult book to read.  It wasn’t, and it was beautiful in that sort of simplicity.  The story is just touching and heartbreaking and yet somehow—dammit—hopeful.

Yeah, so I’ll be re-applying my makeup for work and wearing my glasses because my contacts are all salty-tear-crusted.  So, thanks for that, John Green.

But seriously, if you are not reading The Book Thief or The Fault in Our Stars, you need to start.  Now.  Right now.

And I need to find a quick, ridiculous read about demons who knit doilies in their spare time in order to cheer up lonely old ladies.  Or something.  I need something light.  (And again, this most recent demon/doily plot will not find its way into my upcoming writing, so don’t go getting your hopes up.)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Reject-o-Rama: The Way of the Writer

I left the SCBWI conference full of vigor and ideas and imagery and just a whole lot of shit I needed to get on paper ASAP because I was suddenly aware that I was soon to become the world’s next great recognized writer.  (Notice the use of the word recognized in the previous sentence.)  I was sure that my ideas were well honed and edited and ready for the big-time world of agents and editors and publishers.  In fact, as soon as I hit the send button on my trusty MacBook, I sat back with a sigh and waited for the bidding war on my manuscript to begin.

It only took three weeks for the first rejection to come in.  Pretty fast, really, when you consider how long things tend to take in our world.

Well, crap.

Maybe my high school guidance counselor was right and I really was meant to focus on underwater landscaping.  (Not that there’s anything AT ALL wrong with that, lest I offend an underwater landscaper somewhere.  I just never really saw myself doing that.)  Ok, so I don’t really remember what my high school guidance counselor told me I should be, but I do remember learning at an early age that writing was not a career.  Pffft!  I’ll prove them all wrong.

I have only received one rejection this time around, which is a really good sign, but just in case, I have decided to come up with a list of helpful things I WILL do in order to gain an agent’s favor.  I’m still debating whether or not to place any or all of these items in my next query letters.

Dear prospective agent, if you consider my book, I promise to do the following:
  • Shave my legs.  IN THE WINTER!  Because I know how important it is NOT to look fuzzy at all those public appearances I’ll be making.
  • Wear something other than flannel pants.  I mean, that IS my standard writing attire, but I promise that when I go in public, I will wear respectable clothing.  I even pinky promise.
  • Walk your dog and clean your house.  I know how busy you will be helping to manage my blossoming career, so I am more than willing to help you out in any way possible.
  • Use my big words.  I have kids, so occasionally I slip and say things like ‘potty,’ ‘poo poo,’ and even ‘dawg.’  (I have a teenager.  Don’t judge.)  But when working as a big-girl-writer-person, I vow to only use big, intelligent-sounding words.
  • Remember to wear a bra.  It’s the first thing to go when I get home, so mostly I write without it, but I SO promise that I will ALWAYS wear one and be all professional-like if you just give my little book a chance.
  • Never talk to myself in public.  I realize this looks a little like something a crazy person might do, so I promise to only do this in the privacy of my own office when I’m working on character development.  A lot of peeps don’t understand the process.  Also, I don’t think I would like to be committed to a mental hospital.
  • Help you help me.  This sounds a little 12-steppy, but what I’m trying to say is I won’t sit on my butt and expect someone else to do all the work.  I’m more than happy to get out there and pimp my stuff.
  • Oh, and I’ll for sure scrub your toilets.

Thank you for your consideration.


So yeah, I’m cheap.  And rejection sucks.  But I guess what I’m saying is that one rejection isn’t the end of the world.  And if that agent wasn’t right for me, then maybe the right agent is just around the corner.  And gawd, I hope he or she doesn’t have a dirty toilet, because I’m pretty sure I just promised to scrub it.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

My Muse Is Weird

And now I think I’m weird.  Ok, so both of us are weird.

Last night, I was ever so rudely awakened by my muse, who apparently thought it was necessary to impart life-altering information at the ungodly hour of 2:00 a.m.  My muse does not know me very well, because if he (or she) knew me AT ALL, then he would let me sleep, kindly write his fine ideas on a post-it note, and allow me to peruse them at my leisure at a decent hour.

And, as it turns out, the idea that I was given has absolutely nothing to do with what I am currently writing, what I have lined up to write, or what I have written and need to revise.  Maybe Mr. Muse got the wrong address?

The idea was ridiculous.  So ridiculous in fact that I had to huddle over my coffee this morning and force my mind to recollect the idea that was imparted to me as I sort-of-slept.  Was I even remembering it correctly?  Could the idea even work?  I had never even considered anything like it before, but maybe that’s the point.

What kind of writer would undertake such a ludicrous storyline?  I started to scribble and make weird notes.  It would be a weird story, but maybe a bit poignant.  Unrealistic, but ever-so-slightly close to home.  It just might work.

Damned muse.  Now I have this next-to-impossible idea-slash-project sitting on the runway, just waiting for takeoff.

My muse is definitely weird.  And I’m weird for even considering his idea.  Well, crap.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Stealing Jesus

I think the title of this post inherently implies that there is a hot rock in hell with my name on it.  It’ll be a nice little place for me to sit, actually.  However, it’s not as bad as it sounds.  This isn’t a religious post AT ALL.  So feel safe in reading further.

My parents should have known they were in BIG trouble when I was a teenager and I stole the plastic Baby Jesus from the Manger scene at our little country church.  Once more, it was NOT a religious statement at all.  It was more of an aesthetics thing.  I was trying to take a stand and make the world a better place by removing the gaudy faded plastic rendition of Baby Jesus that had graced the sanctuary for at least 25 years.

That Baby Jesus had been through a lot.  I’m pretty sure He had been on the lawn in an outdoor Manger scene, and I know He had been through several reenactments of the Christmas story.  The scenery always changed, but one thing remained the same—that little statue was old and faded and gaudy and needed to be dealt with.  (At least in my teenage mind.)

I was out to beautify the world.  I was going to right the wrongs of the universe, and as a teenager, it seemed pretty logical to me to remove the eyesore that had plagued the vestibule for so many Christmases.

Do you know what 85-year-old women do when they discover that their plastic Baby Jesus is missing?  Suffice it to say that if America’s Most Wanted had been around and in full swing, you might have seen my mug on TV.  It was serious.  So serious in fact that I had to eventually sneak the plastic deity back into the church for fear that the elderly members might soon begin suffering strokes or minor heart attacks.

What I’m trying to say here is, do your thing to beautify the world.  But you don’t need to go and steal Jesus to do that.   (See, I’ve grown a little since those teenage days.)

Do your thing.  Follow your dream.  Write a book.  Build your fort.  Make your art.  Encourage your kids.  Make this place awesome.