Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
Terrible Writing & the Prologue of The Dream Thieves!
I used to write terrible books all the time.
I've talked about this before, my terribleness. I have even posted some of my terribleness on the internet. By the time I went to college, I had over thirty manuscripts in various stages of finishedness laying around my house and ancient computers and word processors.
I wrote novels about talking dogs, missing unicorns, IRA men with hearts of gold, enchanters with hearts of gold, missing dogs, missing IRA men, kids in suburbia who were secretly kings and queens, fairies who were secretly kids in suburbia, missing kids and fairies in suburbia . . .
Terrible. They were all terrible.
But like I said. I've talked about all of this before. I wrote a lot of terrible books. Today, however, in honor of Entertainment Weekly sharing the prologue of The Dream Thieves, I am going to share with you a very particular terrible book from my teens.
The Dream Thieves.
Well, it wasn't called that, back then. It was called The Llewellyn Society. And Gansey was an old man. And Ronan was named Sean. And Noah was named Adam. But it was the same. Mostly. Sort of. Except that I wrote this version longhand. Oh, and it was terrible.
Here are some more terrible bits that sort of stayed the same in the real version, only I made them less terrible.
And a typed version from a few months later:
And like I said. Here is the prologue of the real version, and an interview, over at Entertainment Weekly.
I hope you find it not terrible.
(And as a reminder, you can pre-order a signed and painted in version of it over at Fountain Bookstore)
(and here is what I am painting in each of them:
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Good things are happening. I have lots of links to share today!
First and foremost, this is my favorite photo of the day. It shows a teacher and student finding each other amidst the rubble in Moore, Oklahoma.
I've listed links to various ways you can donate/help the efforts in Oklahoma here.
But wait: there's more! Literati Literature Lovers Blog is holding a fundraiser for the Red Cross to benefit communities affected by the tornadoes in Oklahoma. Donate and enter to win signed books by a variety of different authors. This is a win-win-win scenario. Please check it out!
Science Fiction News
- I have breaking news to report from SofaCON, the forthcoming international, online science fiction convention sponsored by StarShipSofa. As part of the programming, I will be conducting a one-on-one interview with the brilliant Hugo and Nebula winning author Lois McMaster Bujold! Ms. Bujold will also be taking live questions from con attendees at the end of our conversation. Mark your calendars for 28 July, 2013!
- I recently was a guest of the fabulous Gary Mitchel and Deanna Toxopeus for Roundtable 197 of the RevCast podcast from Revolution SF, in which we discussed young adult dystopian fiction. This episode is now live and available via iTunes and here. If you listen, I hope you enjoy! It was great fun.
- Are you a fan of Doctor Who? How about the works of Joss Whedon? You'll want to check out the brand new, coming soon and sure-to-be-brilliant Kat and Curt's TV Re-View podcast here. You can subscribe to the podcast via iTunes now! Look for the first episode next month It promises to be both shiny and fantastic. :)
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"Shed these lung spires and breathe."
We who revel in nature's diversity and feel instructed by every animal tend to brand Homo sapiens as the greatest catastrophe since the Cretaceous extinction. ~ Stephen Jay Gould
I don't trust new houses.
This morning I dreamt Kathryn and I were standing on the shore of one of the Great Lakes. I don't know which one. Foamy white waves were surging all around our feet, and I was telling her how those lakes were the remnants of an ancient sea. I was telling her they were exceptionally salty, the Great Lakes. A turkey fluttered past, settling on the beach not far away. It looked as if it had been molded from green milk glass, that precise color and opacity. There was also something oddly dragonfly-like about the bird, though I can't now say what. The sky was brilliant with noctilucent clouds, though it was the middle of the day. Earlier, I'd dreamt of finding the skull of a mosasaur*, but most of that dream has faded away.
Yesterday, I wrote 1,432 words, which got me halfway through the thirteenth and final installment of Alabaster: Boxcar Tales. Only four pages to go, and I'll be glad to put this one behind me. Well, I'm always glad to put them – the novels, short stories, etc. – behind me, but sometimes I'm extra glad. I also had to proof the art for #9 and then send my editor at Dark Horse my notes. Oh, and script notes for #10. And there was some weirdness involving tax forms for foreign editions, blah, blah, blah, but Spooky and Writers House kindly dealt with that.
The weather here was so-so yesterday. A little worse than so-so today. I was spoiled by Tuesday. Presently 72˚F and cloudy here in Providence. More eighties, please.
Last night, Spooky and I finished watching Hemlock Grove. Lots of fun and surprisingly well done. The acting has odd moments of unevenness, but that hardly distracts. All in all, the performances and writing are very good. Famke Jensen is especially delightful as the villainous matriarch. Some of the best werewolf transformation SFX ever. So, yes. Hemlock Grove. Angela Carter does Dark Shadows. I know I've invoked the name of Angela Carter twice in as many days, but she is, after all, one of my patron wantons. Also, we're watching Season Seven of Dexter. I've cut way, way back on gaming. It's all become horribly boring again. Even for a recluse, there must be be more to life than this (to quote Freddy Mercury).
An odd thing. I was complaining to Spooky about baffling online slang, and that led to a general discussion of slang as a phenomenon associated more with subcultures than with linguistic evolution, and to a discussion of slang that attended various times and scenes and geographical regions (the Jazz Age, hippies in the sixties, Cockney rhyming slang, surfer slang, etc.), and that led to a rather peculiar realization: As a child and teenager, I used very little – virtually none – of the slang that would be associated with the seventies and early eighties. Almost none. I began trying to list words. I came up with "cool" and "man" (before the ubiquitous "dude") and one two more. I used a tiny bit of older slang I got from my mother – "neat," for example. Hell, "cool" and "man" weren't truly of my generation. It's all became very confusing. Sure, I used Southern Appalachian/Alabama euphemisms and dialect, but there was very little that followed from pop culture/subcultures. I'm still racking my brain over this. I didn't even truly discover profanity – another facet of slang – until I was in my mid teens (which might seem odd, what with me now being such a connoisseur of dirty words and all).
But, this was long before the internet. I posit that the internet has forever changed the evolution, propagation, and longevity of slang. It's an interesting problem. One at which I'm sure a million graduate students with a million typewriters...well, computers...are banging away.
But...I have a script to finish. I have red velvet theatre curtains to close.
* I have some variant of this dream at least once every two weeks.
current mood: sigh
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A "Breakdown" on Breaking Down a Manuscript; Two Conferences; and a Personal Best
http://chavelaque.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-breakdown-on-breaking-down-manuscript.htmlThere's a new Narrative Breakdown up at the website -- this time on Revision Techniques (Part I), as James and I talk through a few of my favorite methods of figuring out what you want your book to do, what it IS doing, and how it can be made to do all of that better. If you've read Second Sight or taken any of my classes, these will not be news to you, but it might be fun to listen anyway. (Talking about outlining is everyone's idea of a good time, right? Right? Yay! So you'll enjoy this.)
Registration is now open at the Dakotas SCBWI website for a full Novel Writing Workshop with me, October 4-6 in Custer, South Dakota. This workshop will involve my Plot Master Class on Saturday and my intensive talks on Character and Voice on Sunday, and it's the only conference appearance I'm making the rest of this year, due to my upcoming wedding and honeymoon. Other than this, I do not plan to offer said Master Class again (online or in person) until next spring, so here's your chance if you want to catch it in 2013.
I will also be at LeakyCon in Portland June 27-30, participating in general shenanigans.
Finally, I will admit to using my blog as commonplace book and diary as much as means of transmitting information, and as such, I've made a habit of recording my running times here to track my progress through the years. Now I have a nice new personal best to note: The Brooklyn Half-Marathon, May 18, 2013, 1:59:28 -- with a personal best 10K in there too, at 56:39. Woo! I never get over the pleasurable strangeness of me, a longtime Enemy of All Things Exercise and In Particular Running, being able to do multiple miles in a single bound. (Or many bounds, really. You get the idea.)
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Who is keeping you from writing?
There are people keeping you from writing in your life. Some of them may be small, squirming, cute little creatures who think they need you constantly and weep piteously every time you try to move away from them. I had five of these and I understand the temptation to give up writing time for them. But there are other people who are stealing your writing time and I urge you to identify and stop them.
1. You are keeping yourself from writing. You have a million excuses. Sometimes you are keeping yourself from your best writing by working on projects you think are “more commercial,” but which you don’t actually love. Sometimes you are keeping yourself from your writing because you are afraid or because you don’t believe you are good enough. Sometimes you are keeping yourself from writing because you are refusing to admit that you need some medication or assistance with other work or because you need to say no more often to other things.
2. Old voices from your past. It could be an old teacher who told you you could never become a writer because you don’t know your grammar well enough. It could be a parent who told you that writing isn’t a “real job.” It could be an old “friend” who read one of your first works and then ridiculed you mercilessly about it the rest of the time that you were “friends.”
3. A spouse is actively sabotaging your writing. I have seen this happen on occasion. Most of the time, writers struggle with spouses who simply don’t understand what it means to be a creative type. They often mean to be supportive, but sometimes are doing it in the wrong way (by offering suggestions that are completely useless). But there are spouses who are competitive and simply mean. If you married one before you knew you were a writer, you may have to choose between the marriage and your dreams.
4. Your writing group acts like crabs in a barrel. They have stopped really trying to get published and they have certainly stopped trying to help you become a better writer. Instead, every group meeting devolves into a rehashing of all the old problems your earliest manuscripts showed and a list of everything wrong with the current book, with no kind words about how you’ve improved and no useful suggestions.
5. Children or parents who are afraid that your writing may in some way embarrass them. They are constantly asking to see manuscripts so they can “vet” them by giving you approval that your version of them is “correct.” This can happen whether or not you are writing anything remotely non-fictional. Sometimes people see themselves in characters where they are not. But even if you intended the comparison, it doesn’t help to have them give you “feedback.”
6. An agent who never sends anything out. If you have an agent who acts more as a block to you finding the right editor for your book than as a guide to the publishing world, it may be time to part ways. I often tell writers that the problem isn’t their agent, it’s themselves, but there are times when it’s the agent. If your agent doesn’t like anything you write or can’t see potential in it, then you have the wrong agent for you.
7. An editor who has damaged you so badly by rewriting things for you that you stare at the blank page with horror. I have heard stories of this, though it has never happened to me. Editors should NEVER EVER rewrite for an author. On rare occasions, I have had editors suggest “something like this?” But an editor who is writing lines for you is an editor who is trying to usurp your position as a writer.
8.A friend who keeps talking about the books you used to write. It may be that this is intended kindly, I don’t know. But in my experience, looking backward is not a good thing. If you have abandoned a project from the past, there is probably a good reason for it. Hitting your head against the same wall again and again is not productive creatively.
9. Co-workers at your day job/neighborhood friends who are constantly giving you advice on what book you should write next to “make it big.” What sells big and what you want to write are completely different things. What sells big and what you are uniquely able to write well are completely different things. You need to write from your heart more than you need to write what someone thinks is “easy.”
10.Critics of your last book that sold badly. I know this one intimately well, believe me. One of the problems here is reading reviews of your own books. Reviews are not meant for the author. Really, they aren’t. They aren’t kind attempts to help you become better. If they were, the reviewers would send them to you and to no one else (although sometimes on twitter, it can feel that’s what they are doing). Reviews are for readers. They are to help readers find books like other ones they liked. They have nothing to do with writing. NOTHING.
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New Voice & Giveaway: Laurie Boyle Crompton on Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
for CynsationsLaurie Boyle Crompton
is the first-time author of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
(Sourcebooks, 2013) and looks forward to the release of Adrenaline (FSG/Macmillian, 2014) and The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High (Sourcebooks, 2014).
From the promotional copy of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
:When comic-obsessed Blaze stands up to her evil ex, he posts a racy picture of her online and a battle of epic proportions ensues. Before she knows it,
Zap! Thwack! Pow! Blaze becomes the target of intense bullying. She must learn to channel her inner-superhero if she hopes to gain the ultimate victory; rescuing herself.
Read an excerpt of Blaze
.How do you psyche yourself up to write, to keep writing, and to do the revision necessary to bring your manuscript to a competitive level? What, for you, are the special challenges in achieving this goal? What techniques have worked best and why?
As a debut author I’m in a unique (and extremely blessed!) position of having three books under contract with two different publishers so I have pressing deadlines all over the place.
Publisher deadlines are very effective motivators, but I still need to set my own deadlines along the way. Breaking a huge revision project into stages such as, “By Friday I will finish compiling research,” or “I have two weeks to do a final manuscript read-through,” makes things much more manageable.
It works well that I’ve always been able to convince myself that my own deadlines are ‘real’ which is probably helped by the fact that I’m a little bit gullible.
When I find motivation lagging I try to tune in to the inspiration that drove me to write the story in the first place. That initial spark is something that should continue to burn throughout the process.
I also try not to think about the book going public. When you write edgy YA, imagining your mother or grandmother reading your work can tend to stifle creativity. Of course, this game of pretending nobody will ever read the book grows harder as the process draws closer to publication day.
The writer’s worst enemy in the late stages is a little thing called perfectionism. The final read-through can be brutal since it’s the last time for making changes. It’s difficult to let go and release your book into the world, but there comes a point where you just need to decide on the word you have changed back and forth with each draft and accept the fact that you won’t be able to tinker with this story anymore. Then the best thing is to turn focus to the next project.How did you go about connecting with your agent? What was your search process like? Who did you decide to sign with? What about that person and/or agency seemed like the best fit for you? What advice do you have for other writers in seeking the right agent for them?
I love talking about my wonderful agent! The day I signed with Ammi-Joan Paquette
of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency was the day things turned around for my writing career.
Mind you, I still had a long path before getting that first publisher yes (and six months later the second one!). But I’m constantly telling writers they need the right
agent, not necessarily the right now
My path to publication had many twists and turns, and I know that feeling of wanting to get your polished manuscript in front of editors, like, now
! But as tempting as it can be to jump on that first agent offer, be sure you listen to your gut before signing on the dotted line.
I learned this lesson the hard way. After working on my craft for a number of years I got my first offer from a reputable children’s agent and I was thrilled. Finally, here was someone who would get my book in front of editors! I was on my way! But on my way to where? It turns out I was in for three years of heartbreak and insecurity.
That agent happens to be great for some people and we split on the best of terms, but looking back it should’ve happened much sooner. I do not in any way blame that first wrong
agent for those early manuscripts not selling, no agent sells every manuscript they take out on submission. But there were many signs along the way that we were not a good fit.
We parted ways. Within two months I had an offer from a new agent at an established agency on Blaze (then titled "Fangirl"). She seemed very nice and said all the right things, but I didn’t quite feel that love that I’d heard other authors talk about. I let the offering agent know that I had a few other partials out and here is the other piece of advice I try to tell any writer who will listen: in addition to contacting those agents with partials, I also wrote to all those with queries who I hadn’t heard back from, letting them know of the offer.
This actually turned into a few full requests, including one from my absolute top choice; Ammi-Joan Paquette
. It turned out, she hadn’t received my original query but she was intrigued by my book and asked to see more. As things progressed towards her offer of representation, I came to understand that agent love that other writers talk about. And I certainly feel it still.
So authors, when you get an offer take the time to contact those agents you’ve queried! At the worst it will save busy agents time reading a query for a book that’s already spoken for. And at best, well, you just never know.Cynsational Notes
Visit Laurie's LiveJournal
Enter to win a signed copy of Blaze (or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
by Laurie Boyle Crompton
(Sourcebooks, 2013) from Cynsations at Blogger
. Author sponsored. Eligibility: North America, U.K. and Australia. Enter here
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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013
So, how about this?
Gallup has a silver bullet for solving many of the world’s problems. Here it is: Every student in the world, from pre-K to higher ed, needs:
•Someone who cares about their development
•To do what they like to do each day
•To do what they are best at every day
That’s it. It should be the new bill of rights for all students -- and frankly, all people -- worldwide.
I am leery of silver bullets. But I am a huge fan of the rights of students. This list comes from a post I read this week here: http://thegallupblog.gallup.com/2013/05/the-new-bill-of-rights-for-all-students.html. I know the site is selling something. I understand the author of the post is not a teacher. However, there is some wisdom here, particularly the suggestion that each and every child have someone who cares about their development (and I would add, more importantly, someone who cares for the CHILD first and foremost). I would add some other rights to this as well.
The right to access all a child needs to be successful is something I have been considering lately. I glance around the room that functions as my office (and the TV room and the room where Scout naps during the day and the room that serves as a catch all from time to time). I have an iPad, a mini iPad, a smart phone, and two laptops (one that is new and the old one that I still need to pull files from before it moves on to recycling). I have access. But I know that my students do not have the access I do. I can get online most days with little effort. I know there are others who have to head to a library or coffee shop for access. If I want a book to read, I simply have to access one of the double stacked shelves I have. I have access. But I know there are many houses where that access is not simple, where books are not at hand. So, ACCESS to me is one right I would love to be able for all kids to have.
And I include access at school as well. How many computers are in the classroom? How much access do kids have to books, to computers, to materials they can use to create something? I know there are schools with 1:1 tablet systems. And I know there are schools where a classroom might have one computer, an older one, that does not provide much access for the 20 or 30 or more kids in that room. I know there are classrooms where there are hundreds and thousands of books in the class library. And I know there are school libraries that have fewer books. The schools with inadequate access are generally, of course, in schools where you can expect inadequate access in homes, too.
There are other rights, of course. Many years ago, the International Reading Association generated a powerful piece in 1999. You can download a PDF of the statement here: www.reading.org/downloads/positions/ps1036_adolescent.pdf. Note that access appears on many of these statements about what adolescents deserve. We need to go back to these fundamental statements again. This is what we need to use as we prepare lessons, gather materials, plan curriculum. ACCESS them now.
current mood: hopeful
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This is why I do what I do....
A while ago I got this email from a teacher:
I teach 10th grade English to students with learning disabilities, mild cognitive disabilities, and emotional disabilities. It is close to impossible to find a novel that all are interested in and will actually participate in discussion about. I begged and begged my director and she was able to purchase me a class set of your novel, The Compound. It's such a pleasure to teach this novel! ALL my kids listen while I read and have much to discuss, which never happens. They even groan and complain when we have to stop reading or class is over. I've even had two of my copies come up missing and two students who checked it out of the library for their parents to read. I wish I could convey to you how unusual this is! I teach the core curriculum, the same standards, as a general education class and it is very difficult for my students. They are now working on these standards and don't even realize it because they are so excited about his story. THANK YOU!
A few weeks later, I had a library event in her city and she came to see me. She was so sweet and I hugged her and offered to Skype with her students. Here’s the thing: I reserve the right to charge or not charge for my Skypes. This gets me into trouble with other authors, but would you be able to get a letter like that and then not do the Skype simply because they don’t have a budget? I’m not that person and I never will be. So today was the Skype. And those kids were great. They had a million questions and made me laugh, and I made them laugh too. I was so glad I took the time. And then I got this email:
Thank you so much! Of course, after we hung up they started talking a mile a minute. They're such good kids and this is the first time many of them have finished a book or even liked reading. Our system's superintendent and assistant superintendent were here also. The assistant superintendent said she'd have to get us The Fallout so that we can read both next year. I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone!!
I can't thank you enough for the excitement you have brought to English class. This will be a lasting, good memory for my kids who have so few things to be excited about.
So yeah. That was pretty much a really good use of my time. And it reminded me of why I do what I do.
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Writing I liked - even if the book didn't click for me
I recently put down a huge book. One of those literary-genre hybrids. You know, about zombies or werewolves, only written by someone with an MFA. I gave it 113 pages, but it wasn't pulling me in and I have probably 150 books in various teetering TBR piles around the house.
Still, the writing was good. Maybe a little too good, if that makes any sense.
The sky is clotted with clouds. Rain spits. Seagulls screech. The bay is walled off by fog. In the near distance the brown hills are only a hazy presence and the noise of traffic is only a vague growl as cars pour off the freeway and follow narrower roads that branch into parking ramps, rental lots, terminals. One of them, a black sedan with a silver grill, dips underground to the arrivals area at San Francisco International Airport, but it does not stop where the other cars stop, does not pull up to the curb and pop its trunk and click on its hazard lights. Instead it slides past the rest of the traffic, around the corner, to the bend in the road bordered by concrete walls, where it slows enough for the door to open and a man with a briefcase to step out and walk away without a parting word or backward glance.
I was struck by how the sentences grew longer and longer. And the author uses such muscular verbs: clot, spit, screech, growl, branch, dip, slide.... In this book,aA coffee pot never "sits" on the counter. Instead, it's much more likely to "squat."
She lands on all fours, rolling and thudding forward, sliding across the short expanse of lawn, smearing away the snow in a ragged teardrop to reveal the green grass beneath. A tree at the edge of the lawn offers a hammer blow to her chest. Her breath is gone. Her wrist blazes as if stabbed through with a hot poker. Glass bites at her. The night seems to close upon her for a moment—and then she draws in a sucking gasp.
The only problem with using verbs in new strong ways is that they stand out. Like "glass bites." In the paragraph before, "The glass shatters, and shards of it bite at her."
Even though I didn't get into the book, I want to make my own verbs stronger.
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"Panic is a slow dissolve, a terror quiet calm."
1. Yesterday afternoon, we saw J.J. Abrams' Star Trek: Into Darkness, and I loved it. Delightfully superb! Do not listen to the nay-sayers.
2. Yes, I'm very sorry to hear that Christopher Eccleston will not be part of the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special. The Constant Reader will recall that Nine is MY Doctor. But to these people who are acting pissy about Eccleston's declining to take part in the special I say fuck off. To paraphrase Neil, Christopher Eccleston is not your bitch. So, get over it. Also, he's still the coolest Doctor ever (I give Ten second place, and Benedict Cumberbatch is the best Doctor Who Never Was).
3. On Monday, I wrote 1,594 words on Alabaster: Boxcar Tales #12 and finished it. Today, I begin the thirteenth and final installment of Boxcar Tales. I may actually try to write the whole eight pages today.
4. There have been a lot a movies and TV lately. I get into these "watching moods." I finally saw Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty (2012). It was sort of like being hit in the face with a brick. An astounding, unrelentingly brutal film. It has surely deserved every awards nomination it received. Jessica Chastain's performance was especially impressive (also, the parallels between Maya and Claire Danes' Carrie Mathison are somewhat eerie).
And as it happens, the night before we saw Zero Dark Thirty, we'd seen Andrés Muschietti's Mama (2013), which also features Jessica Chastain – though you can hardly recognize her, her appearance is so different in the two films. Mama is one of those very, very rare dark fantasy films that gets everything right. A faerie tale for adults (the film begins with "One Upon a Time..."). Angela Carter meets Guillermo del Toro (who was an executive producer on the film). I've seen a lot of kvetching about the ending, and all I can say is that many people don't actually understand that when one enters the realm of the faerie tale – even when it's dressed up as a ghost story – one must, generally, play by the rules of Faerie. I thought at once of Tolkien's "On Fairy-Stories" (1939, 1947), in which he wrote:
It is at any rate essential to a genuine fairy-story...that it should be presented as "true."...But since the fairy-story deals with "marvels," it cannot tolerate any frame or machinery suggesting that the whole framework in which they occur is a figment or illusion.
Now, true, Mama does not strictly adhere to this rule. It does begin with doubters. But the film opens with two children – the central characters – existing completely within the realm of the genuine fairy-story, and, before the story's done, the adults have followed them irrevocably down the same path. We are left in the end with no possible conclusion except that "the whole framework" of the film was, of course, true. Hence, the ending, with it's complete absence of the sort of "resolution" that would violate the rules. Here, the faerie tale is a transgressive force, chewing up the delusion of a world not subject to the laws of Faerie, and the only resolution is that of a ghostly, changeling reunion. What happens to those who are left behind is irrelevant. Okay, I could also get started on Bruno Bettelheim, but I have gone on far too long about this film. Just see it!
As I said, we saw Star Trek: Into Darkness. There's nothing about this film I didn't love. Even the gimmick shots that were obviously placed there for 3D didn't distract from my enjoyment, and I strongly recommend a 2D viewing. 3D not only destroys cinematography, it's also – especially – anathema to story and character. I'm going to avoid all spoilers (which is more than I can say for a lot of people online), but I will say that Zachary Quinto and Benedict Cumberbatch continue to amaze me and make me smile. Also, the continued exploration of events familiar to Star Trek fans is handled with aplomb, truly going where we haven't gone before. And....okay, little spoilers...KLINGONS! I grew up on Star Trek, even seeing the original series' in syndication only a year or two after its cancellation. And Star Trek: Into Darkness is true to the spirit, moreso than some of the non-Abrams films with the original cast and...okay, let's not even talk about the abominations that were Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise. Anyway, collectively, Spooky and I give it four thumbs up.
We continue to follow SyFy's Defiance, which is, honestly, like the Second Coming of Farscape. If you're not watching it, you're missing out. I'm especially impressed by its use of "old world" music (id est, music predating the post-apocalyptic events of the series). Also, Spooky saw the Netflix original series Hemlock Grove and convinced me to watch it. It's something else that I highly recommend. Another dark fantasy that gives "pararom" and "shifter" pr0n the middle finger (Brian McGreevy, who wrote the novel on which the series is based, and who is a co-writer, producer, and developer on the series, has said as much).
Finally, we've made it through Season Three of True Blood, and you won't believe what I have to say about the series. You may want to brace yourselves. But it's gonna have to wait for another entry. Time to write, says Das Schnabeltier. Oh, the weather finally got sort of warm in Providence (83˚F yesterday). There was a beautiful thunderstorm last night.
Note: I've just learned of a "racefail" (hate that phrase) controversy associated with the film. Not gonna go into spoiler specifics. But the people claiming racism in casting are...I'll be polite, and I'll just say they're wrongheaded.
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Guest Author Interview: Eric A. Kimmel on Marketing Manuscripts to Publishers
for Cynthia Leitich Smith
's CynsationsLibrarian Laini Bostian blogs at The Made Up Librarian. Today she talks to Eric A. Kimmel about authors marketing their manuscripts to publishers. Learn more about Eric from Scholastic.
Eric: About writing and marketing, it’s never one or the other. Professional writers do look to the market. They have to. There are always compromises and adjustments to be made during the composition process and during the revision and editing processes.
The key is how does the author feel about making the changes. If you go too far and say "yes" too often, you may come to a point where it’s no longer your book.
Also, some editors will tell you upfront that they may not be the one to handle a particular manuscript. It isn’t doing anything for them, or the changes they’d suggest would turn it into an entirely different story. Sometimes the writer can go along with that. Sometimes we can’t.
I’ll give you a recent example that just happened with the manuscript I’m sending out. I originally conceived it as YA. Several of the editors who've responded so far made the point that it didn’t feel like a YA. It felt more like middle grade.
My agent Jennifer Laughran
called to talk to me about it. The editors may be right, she said. YA is edgier. The characters are older. There’s more sex and drama. My main character is finishing middle school. You might call the story YA, but it’s definitely on the younger edge of the spectrum.
It’s borderline between age markets, and as Jenn pointed out, “The border is where you don’t want to be.”
Editors can’t fit it into a specific genre. They can’t predict its audience or what it will do.
That can be the kiss of death these days.
What Jenn suggested is marketing, not literary advice: Take it down a couple of years. Forget YA and go for middle grade. It would be easy. The changes would be mostly cosmetic.
She also pointed out that the YA genre is glutted right now. It’s been so successful that everyone’s writing YA. Meanwhile, there’s a definite shortage of middle grade fiction.
So guess what I’ve been doing this past week? It’s a change I can live with. I see the point. It actually suits the characters, the story, and me more.
Are these revisions marketing decisions? You bet! Are they artistic ones? Definitely yes, because I feel comfortable with them and actually think the manuscript is better for my having made them.Laini: So, if this work does not sell, will you be upset? What should young writers do? What would you say to them?
Eric: I’d be disappointed, but it’s happened before. There’s nothing you can do about it. On to the next.
However, that doesn’t mean you give up. Set the manuscript aside. Maybe you can do something with it later. Times change, so a manuscript no one wants today may become a hot item in a couple of years.
The advantage I have over young writers is I know the drill. A similar rejection could be devastating for a beginner. But again, so what? Will you quit and never write anything again?
Guess what? Nobody cares. Real writers suck it up and start something else. The ones that are only in it for a payoff will find something else to do.
What should young writers do? Write! They think they’re going to get rich? That editors owe them something because they scribbled out a manuscript? That they don’t have to revise?
Well, they’ll learn, and they’ll be better writers for it. And if they decide to spend their time doing something else, what of it? I guarantee there will be no shortage of writers or good books.
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Writing Wednesday: 10 "Secret" Ways to Get Your Manuscript Thrown Out
1. Print it on specially colored paper.
2. Turn one of your pages upside down to see it is read that far.
3. Send it in with a bribe of some kind, like chocolate.
4. Declare that your kids love your book.
5. Threaten, in a joking way, what you will do if it isn't published.
6. Describe the publishing industry as a waste of time.
7. Diss books published by agent or editor you are querying.
8. Talk about your book in vague terms, with no specifics.
9. Compliment yourself on how great your book is and how many copies it will sell.
10. End your letter with the words "You don't want to miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime chance" that sounds like what a car dealer would say.
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