Luke Everest asked me to do another guest post on his blog. Actually, he asked me back in January or December... Perhaps it was November.
Time is not concrete for me, which is a disadvantage when say, I need to do something ordinary, like be on time for work. It's an advantage, however when I need to do something like write a novel, edit a video, or consume copious amounts of food while watching TV. Actually, this last thing is not an advantage.
Anyway, I wrote a nice little post about using aspects of your personality to your advantage. Dr. Bob logic is one of my personality traits--which of course is is hypertrophied in DYIvet-- that I used to comedic advantage in that post. I'll let you know when he puts it up.
Meat Head logic, which mostly involves food and a blase` attitude about cantankerous behavior, that I hypertrophied (linked in case you need to read it again.) in Meat Head, the Worst Dog in the World.
Here is an example of Dr. Bob Logic (excerpt from foreword 2 of DYIvet)
I had to stop drinking beer to write this and here you go and tell me to make this here book longer. I’m a busy man. My services are highly demanded around these here parts. As I’m sure ya’ll are aware, I run the East of Somewhere Mobile Veterinary clinic. Today we’re parked east of… well, hell I don’t know. I was drunk last night when I parked. All I can tell you is the front end of the mobile vet clinic is hanging off a cliff. Guess it’s a good thing I tied that elephant to the bumper.
Here is an example of Meat Head logic. (Excerpt from Meat Head, The Worst Dog in the World Chapter 1)
I ran forever, barreling toward trees and swerving around them at the last second. A crotchety old fox warned me not to break my neck. I raced on. Ahead an enormous tree had fallen across the forest floor.
"Weeeeeeeeee!" I leaped, ears spreading out like wings on a plane. I hung in midair. "I’m flying!"
Crash! My head hit the tree and I tumbled to the ground where I lay on my side, the wind knocked out of me. All the nearby woodland critters chittered, "You're too fat."
"Fat?" I jumped to my feet and shook off the pine needles. "I eat well is all."
A wise old owl poked its head out of the pine tree above. From high in tree top it hooted eerily. "I’ve seen the future. Don’t go into the meadow. Don’t dig."
"Oh, I’m scared. Just shaking my paws, I am." I barked.
Nobody responded so I cocked an ear. Silence greeted me. I’ve heard humans says if you listen to advice and accept instruction, you will be wise. I’m the best Dog in the World. That means I was born wise, so I dashed around the tree that I’d crashed into, uh-hum, the tree that had attacked me, and burst through some brush into a little meadow. Einstein would die here three days later but I couldn't know that. Not then. I was not born with an ounce of clairvoyance. Dogs will know clairvoyance means I couldn't see the future. There were lots of meadows and the owl could have meant one to the north or south.
Both books contain aspects of my personality. Neither character is me. That'd just be bad taste. But it would be just as tasteless to ignore personal traits that enhance the characters.
Other authors do this to. I know a lot about the kind relationship Stephen King has with his wife because an overwhelming number of books contain a protagonist who has had a long, sturdy marriage. In the same token, I understand Koontz's view on sex, religion and his deep love of dogs. Fiction is fiction, songs are songs and pizza is pizza, but it is all so much better when the person behind it puts themselves into the item.
Are you afraid to put yourself into a project or do you throw yourself into it with abandon? If your the former, why are you afraid? If your the latter, do you sometimes go overboard and who in your life helps you balance you?
Just as Goldie Locks discovered through trial and error which bed, chair and porridge was just right, creative people can also discover through trial and error how much "me" is just right. One of the myriad of reasons I'm forging ahead with both these books is because, simply sharing Meat Head with the boys I watch on Saturday has given me invaluable feedback about this very topic.
Perhaps, the idea of a perfect (and I'm going to use writer because that is what is most close to me, but rephrase the concept of writer to musician or whatever floats your banana boat.) writer only sharing their best work stems from times past. Times when books were writing on typewriters and songs recorded on vinyl. Addressing content in relation to response was not so easy back then, But, if you're a hobbyist podcaster or blogger, or writer, you can improve what you've done in the past as well as what you will do in the future.
All you need is a computer and access to the internet. Well, and not having an agent or contract is a big help too. When it comes to making changes in real-time, the fewer people involved, the better off you are.
* Let me be clear, one is not better than the other just because something has to be better. One is better than the other in context:
- of you
- your needs
- your situation
- elements you and I haven't thought of yet
Coming soon to a bar near you: DYI Vet
While I've been working on Meat Head for release, I've been thinking about how much it will suck if nobody buys it.
"You know what your problem is?" I said to myself. "You've been taking yourself too seriously."
"Well, there's only one cure for that," I replied. "DYIvet."
So I pulled up the files I have on this project, saw that it's a lot closer to finished than I thought... What happened is this: I submitted DYI vet to Authonomy and people liked it, especially how the book doesn't take itself seriously. But these peoples are writers and writers can't just like something. They got to evaluate it's literary merit; I needed to fix this and that, and spell better. (If you read this blog, then you know spelling don't come naturally to me. I can write a story in a few hours. Then it takes me six months to get it submission ready.) And could I really make a book out of this?
The answer to that last question was all caps HELL YES! Albeit, a short book. But then I got to thinking I ought to fix this and that, and spell better to boot. So DYIvet kept getting treated like getting this or that right mattered more than a good time. (The joke center of my brain tell me there's a tawdry joke here, but the creative center of my brain is like "What the hell! I just got done writing some funny shit. I need a beer.") Well, now I got my too serious goggles off and beer goggles one. That means I'm sending this book into the world as soon .
DYIvet will be published under the pseudonym Dr. Bob, probably at the end of April or thereabouts. And that's what I'm doing these days. What about you?
Cathy Bryant Interview
Here is an e-interview with our contest winner, Cathy Bryant. Her is a link to her website.
Q: Describe the perfect kiss in three words
A:There's a toilet paper ad in the UK that uses the slogan 'soft, strong and very very long'. That's also my perfect kiss.
Q: Is it wrong for a vegetarian to eat animal crackers?
A:I have a meateating friend who believes that it's wrong for a vegetarian to eat - anything. Then the planet would be rid of them very quickly. He's teasing, of course - I hope, as I'm a vegan! What's an animal cracker? We don't have them over here.
Q: What's your favorite writing quote?
A:"A professional writer is just an amateur writer who didn't quit." - Richard Bach. This one can keep me going on tough days. I've seen so many wonderfully-talented people give up.
Q: What's your favorite color?
A: Blue. It's the only good part of getting a bruise.
Q: What's your favorite food?
A: A globe artichoke eaten very slowly, each leaf dipped into melted Vitalite before the flesh is sucked off. Someone once said that eating an artichoke is like getting to know someone really well - I agree with that, but I'd add that it's like getting to know someone sensual and fabulous really well.
Q: In 200 words or less, tell us about a project you're working, a story you've written, a book published, or a future project.
A: I'm currently editing my first attempt at a novel since I was 19. It's tough work. The novel I wrote at 19 was typed out on an ancient typewriter, and over the years the print slowly faded until the entire novel had disappeared. Though from what I remember, that's probably a very good thing (excruciating sex scenes. Really, really bad). This new one is hopefully better, but as I wrote the first draft in a month (Nanowrimo) it's hard in places to work out what on earth I'm on about. Just like real life...
Q: Can you cry underwater?
A: Perhaps fish cry all the time, and that's where oceans came from.
If you don't know, I use Weebly to manage this site. I love that it's drop and drag and I don't really have to know how to write code.
However, Weebly is bug ridden. I've mentioned the bogs and they blame my choice of browser. I use Mozilla most days, but when I use explore, I get the same bugs. The most serious bug I had, almost cause my entire site to crash. This was before I could download a copy of my site. Their response of course was to blame my browser and "There is nothing we can do." To be clear, this issue has been address by allowing users to back up their site on their hard drive. However Weebly still doesn't allow users to archive pages. Once you delete a page it's gone forever. Yahoo and other providers are leagues ahead of Weebly, offering ability to archive as well.
Weebly is on the pricier side and a bit trixy when it comes to pricing. I'm not sure where they get their "ave X% on competition from. Domain registry with other sites like Go Daddy is about $9.00 a year and Weebly is $25.00 a year.
Domain registry is just the tip of the iceberg, when it comes to website services. All it does is give you an address. You don't have a house until you build the site.
And that's were Weebly stands out. It's perhaps the easiest to use website builder out there. However, just because they set a new standard, doesn't mean another company won't surpass them in the future. You can easily import your domain through Go Daddy into Weebly and get access to all the features I have for free. In case this isn't clear:
Register a domain with Weebly:
-- $25.00 a year
-- free use of standard features
-- add pro for $25.00 a year
Total yearly cost: $50.00
Register a domain with Go Daddy:
-- $9.00 a year
-- Free use of Weebly standard features after you import your domain
-- ad pro features for $25.00 a year.
Total yearly cost: $34.00
Go Daddy offers design programs at a steep additional price and they're mostly for professional designers. This is one reason why many people forward their domain. The other reason is that domain registration is a lot like how phone companies used to be with phone numbers. You could forward your number to a new number, but you couldn't take it with you.
When you register a domain, you're pretty much stuck with that registry service until you die... unless you want to lose the domain. Again, this might be confusing. So let me use a hypothetical. Lets say Yahoo has a new, improved page builder that makes Weebly look hard. I want to use Yahoo to renovate my site.
- I grant Yahoo access to my domain.
- I pay Weebly $25.00 a year to maintain my domain name.
- I pay Yahoo $9.99 a month to have access to their web builder.
Total yearly cost: $145.00
However, let's pretend I registered my domain with Go Daddy, but have been using Weebly to construct my house.
- I terminate my contract with Weebly
- I grant Yahoo access to my domain.
- I pay still pay Go Daddy $9.00 a year to maintain my domain name.
- I pay Yahoo $9.99 a month to have access to their web builder.
Total yearly cost: $130.00
I hope this paints a clearer picture between website registration and website design I didn't understand how this worked, nor could I find an explanation of this anywhere. When I bought my first domain thorugh Go Daddy, I thought I was buying design tools too. It took me forever to figure out why my site wouldn't work. I had to pay extra for access to a program that would let me build the site. A lot extra.
Now, Yahoo charges something like $9.99 a month for small business and this includes a program to build pages. The program is pretty easy to use, but not as easy as Weebly.
But remember with Weebly you get the exact same features with a domain registration as you do with a free site. Pro features cost extra. Still, compared to other sites, there may be value here. Except, for example, with Yahoo, you get domain emails with your monthly fee. I think Go Daddy provides free email as well as free sub domain registry.
Weebly does not provide email.
Do not be fooled by this. The box says "Set up email to send and receive emails from your own domain." If you add this service, you will not get email accounts. You will get a forwarding service. You can set up your emails trough Gmail... this was free but may cost $5.00 per email/per month now. (Yahoo gives I think ten emails, which would cost $600.00 through google.) Finally, you can use gmail's service with any company.
On a side note: if you are using gmail to manage your domain addresses, Weebly's forwarding service will interrupt your company accounts. YIKES.
So, while Weebly makes site design easy, after all the add-ons, direct and indirect, may make Weebly the most expensive choice. I suggest you consider all your needs before upgrading your free account.
Mistakes are magic
Have you ever been at a public event or participating in a conversation only to have it high jacked? Of course you have. The event, which could have been very informative, is derailed by somebody who doesn't know when to shut up.
Well, I'm that person. It's not intentional. I just have a lot to say about everything. My solution to this problem is to zip my lips and throw away the key.
It will thus come as no surprise that I struggle with dialogue in my writing as well. My characters start chatting in my head and, if I'm not careful, their conversations takeover the story.
Now, Meat Head was written before I had learned to zip my lips and put my chatty fingers under lock and key. I've been fight to control the dialogue which is funny and finally it occurred to me that I needed to rip it out. I've spent countless hours trying to work it in. One of the slowest ways to "fix" a flaw is to fall in love again with things on the page that is great on the sentence level, and even scene by scene, but detracts from the larger story.
I've spent the last two days ripping out dialogue. On Saturday, Meat Head was sitting at 60,000 words. Now it's 45,000 words...
I happen to love the Odd Thomas series by Dean Koontz. I love it, but sometimes the dialogues get out of control. I'm listing to Stephen King's Tommy Knockers on audio book as well. There's a seen where one of the character's gets drunk and goes on a rant. It's quite long and drawn out, and at times boring. This has been Meat Head's problem. And sure, I can go ahead with these flaws, and probably be fine.
Whatever I have come July, will be what I have. Imperfect. I'm trying to do the best I can with Meat Head but it will never be as good as something I might write now. But even that isn't fair. A story has it's time. I couldn't not write a manuscript like this now. What I didn't know about writing three years ago, contributed greatly to the magic, flawed as it is, of Meat Head.
This theory is at the core of why I think it's wrong to spend too many years writing the same story. There is magic in mistakes that ten years of trying to do better will screw up as surely the typos in my posts.
I've been thinking about flaws for a long time now and had hoped to tie it into my ABNA results.
The process of critique has me frustrated and not because I don't see value you in it. I see tons of value but I also see a lack of contextual thinking and an attitude toward flaws that goes like this: Only after all your flaws are removed from your story, will your work be good enough for public eyes.
Here's the truth: flaws don't matter as much as you might think. They really don't. There is an unquantifiable aspect to what makes things popular. It's human nature to try to control the uncontrollable. A few seasons back America's Next Top Model tried to teach the contestants how to control their celebrity by branding themselves. Logic I found absurd.
Writing, like so many things in life, is a journey. Flawed people find love and jobs. Flawed songs hit the top of the charts. Flawed food is severed and eaten every single second of the day to happy customers. And flawed manuscripts find flawed publishers to produce them.
While personal growth often plays a role in success, it's not a requirement. What I'm saying is, and this applies to any pursuit, don't be afraid to put yourself out there now, flawed as you may be. Some people will like what you do. Some people won't. But be very cautious of people who say wait, wait, wait... not yet, no, wait.
Unless you actively resist change, each new attempt will be better. (Not everyone will agree on that, but you know in your heart when you've done something that stretched your boundaries.) The idea that a song that wasn't good or a book that wasn't good will end your career is archaic. We are in an era of experiment, thanks in large part to the internet. I find that as long as you put your authentic self out there, people are generous and forgiving of flaws.
You are free to make a gazillion mistakes doing whatever it is that makes you happy. And to learn from those mistakes. Or not. And either way, you have it in you to create a masterpiece. Or not. But until you put yourself out there, you'll never know.
Interview with S.D. King
Q: If you could date someone famous, who would it be?
A: I’m not on the market, but if I were, it would be a tossup between actors Steve Buscemi and Peter Dinklage. They always have interesting things to say and have a wealth of fascinating characters inside them....it would make brain picking a breeze!
Q: You are racing the Tortoise and the Hare. Who do you murder? What are the ethical implications choice?
A: Well, I can’t honestly condone murder, but as someone who does reptile rescue as a serious avocation and enjoys hasenpfeffer quite immoderately, the choice is not even close.... As to ethics, I’d be guilty as sin. I admit it. Send me to prison but only after dinner (with a nice carrot salad as a starter).
Q:What's your favorite writing quote?
A:“Mon verre n’est pas grand mais je bois dans mon verre.”The last line of an alexandrine couplet by French Romantic writer Alfred de Musset. In the context of his scorn for plagiarism and self-aggrandizement, it acknowledges the freedom in relying on oneself, not undertaking a commitment one cannot fulfill, and being true and honest in one’s work. I love it and try to live by it.
Q:What's your favorite TV show?
A: Love American Style. Sometimes a bit dated but it still makes me laugh, and I adore the genre of short comic skits.
Q:What's your favorite movie?
A:Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein. Brilliant writing and fabulous character work, inventive in ways still unmatched, in my opinion.
Q:What's your favorite food?
A:Berries and cream. My favorite would be mixed berries with an emphasis on fraises des bois and blackcurrants, with some whortleberries thrown in for good measure. Thick cream lightly whipped with just a touch of sugar, with some ground cloves or nutmeg added. Perfection!
Q:In 200 words or less, tell us about a project you're working, a story you've written, a book published, or a future project.
A:I’m working on the sequel to my e-novella The Younger Games, a satirical take on the YA-dystopian genre epitomized by The Hunger Games. In the first book, world-weary tween heroine Dogny is forced to compete with screaming toddlers (and her boy crush, Petter) in a series of children’s games that are as deadly as they are sublimely ridiculous. It helps to know the original series, but it’s not mandatory; the narrative can stand on its own three feet. The sequel will be available in e-version format late this summer or in early fall by WitsEnd Publications. Its working title? The Younger Games II: Pants On Fire. Watch for it on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (And if you can’t get enough of The Hunger Games, I recommend the scholarly anthology Of Bread, Blood and The Hunger Games, eds. Pharr and Clark, published in 2012 by MacFarland. Yes, it contains an essay on monstrosity by yours truly....)
Q:If you were a can of soup, what kind of soup would you be and why?
A:Cockaleekie. It would be delightful to make people laugh just by saying my name.
S. D. King holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from UCLA and is an Associate at the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. A working character actor, she also does scholarly presentations / publications and writes works of fantasy and horror, with an emphasis on humor.
Recent publications include the YA-dystopian spoof novella The Younger Games and the horror story “Merry Christmas, Saint Lawrence”, both e-published on Amazon and B & N. Her short satirical film Plant Life, (www.bluepippin.plantlife.com) , co-written and produced with her husband, is currently on the festival circuit: Official Selection, Fresno Film Festival 2012; Best Mockumentary, Hyart International Film Festival 2012; Official Selection, MockFest @ Raleigh Studios Hollywood. For over two decades she has translated and performed short Spanish and French comedies from the 15th-17th centuries with her troupe Les enfans sans abri (www.lesenfanssansabri.com). She and her husband do work in reptile and amphibian rescue (www.RARN.org) and are ministered to by five reptilian muses.
Connect with S.D. King here.
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
Wow! This is the kind of sci-fi I like, when I tell people I do like some sci-fi! Great story about people, and the future. Nice writing, overall, I enjoyed the banter and conversation, and enjoyed the narrators voice. I feel like this is an author who knows what he is writing, all the scenes felt so authentic.
What aspect needs the most work?
There was a need in many passages for more punctuation, mostly commas. And there were a few places where simple editing was needed. For instance: "...Smiling and saying our names, the waitress sets the waitress plucks our meals..." and "...She servers Inwa his salmon first and then wiggles her butt as she moves around the table breasts first..." (here spelling rror and a comma would have been good).
There were a few spots like this throughout the excerpt where the writing was still a work in progress. These are problems that are very easily remedied. Just more careful proofreading.
So, I entered the ABNA contest again. This time with a manuscript titled "My Father's Heart.
What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?
Imagination. The idea of a story set in the future where technology has advanced in leaps and bounds but the world has done little to eradicate real poverty is an intriguing one.
What aspect needs the most work?
Too much step by step description. The pace is quite slow and it would help to really cut some of the sections to pick up the pace. Instead of describing the details it may be helpful to just scatter them into the conversation. The conversation between the siblings at the restuarant is a bit too long as well and does not hold the interest.
the reader is expecting a secret from the first page but, after that point, the story slows down considerably and there are many passages that could be trimmed and shortened.
On a minor and easily fixable note. the writing definitely needs some polishing and editing. Spelling errors, usually with homonyms, are rampant e.g heal instead of heel, secrete instead of secret, peaked instead of peeked, spec instead of speck. A spell check will not catch these!
What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?
The imagination is good but the writing does not draw the reader into this alien world. I think with some heavy trimming it can be improved on. I might even suggest chopping the entire sequence in the restaurant since it seems to serve no real purpose and is dry and drawn out. Starting strongly with the second chapter might draw the reader into the story faster.
Free contest from Valerie Noble
About a year ago, I entered a small writing contest that I stumbled upon by accident through this blog: http://www.mr-jordan.net/ . I can’t even remember how it was I came across the contest, and generally I am way too lazy to even enter contests. But this one was cool. It was something like: write a story using 250 words or less and incorporate these words/ phrases into it– kimchi, beer, contest, Hurry up and wait!, and hullabaloo. Here is ... continue