Thursday, September 30, 2010

Virtual Tour with Cherish D'Angelo

Hello my friends! I have another fabulous guest today, here to help YOU learn how to do this thing when you get there, but first I have a couple other business items:

First: I made a GOOF on my song author yesterday, you see FOO and GOO are so similar. I had the Foo Fighters but really Slide is a Goo Goo Dolls song. My bad... sorry.

Next: My insanity is on full display at Burrowers, Books and Balderdash interviewing the fantabulous Sketchie Scattergood about the founding of Planet Spankmenow. So after you read THIS, please pop over and read THAT!

And last:  22 years ago today I met Mr. Tart, but he's being Mr. Chupacabra at the moment, so we aren't going to talk about that.


Now, on to today's guest. Cherish is an award-winner with her spicy romance, not surprising since as her OTHER name, she is a best-selling suspense writer, and she's got some great hints for all of us today, so without further ado, welcome Cherish!


Biography of Cherish D'Angelo

When romance author Cherish D'Angelo is not busy relaxing in her hot tub, sipping champagne, eating chocolate-covered strawberries or plotting romantic suspense with scintillating sensuality, she is ruthlessly killing people off in her thrillers as bestselling Canadian suspense author, Cheryl Kaye Tardif.

Cherish's debut romance, Lancelot's Lady placed in the semi-finals of Dorchester Publishing's "Next Best Celler" contest and went on to win an Editor's Choice Award from Textnovel. Currently living in Edmonton, Alberta, she enjoys long walks on the beach, except there aren't any around so she has to make do with trips around the hot tub or a vacation to a tropical paradise. And margaritas.

Book Blurb:  

A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.

When palliative care nurse Rhianna McLeod is given a gift of a dream holiday to the Bahamas from her dying patient, billionaire JT Lance, Rhianna has no idea that her 'holiday' will include being stranded on a private island with Jonathan, an irritating but irresistibly handsome recluse. Or that she'll fall head over heels for the man.

Jonathan isn't happy to discover a drop-dead gorgeous redhead has invaded his island. But his anger soon turns to attraction. After one failed marriage, he has guarded his heart, but Rhianna's sudden appearance makes him yearn to throw caution to the wind.

To live fully in the present, Rhianna must resolve her own murky past, unravel the secret that haunts JT, foil the plans of a sleazy, blackmailing private investigator and help Jonathan find his muse. Only then can Rhianna find the love she's been searching for, and finally become...Lancelot's Lady.

How to Organize a Virtual Book Tour (VBT) - Part 2

Organizing a virtual book tour (VBT) may seem intimidating, but I assure you that once you do one, you'll discover it's not very hard. It just takes time and good organization. Read Part 1 (link is on my VBT page) before proceeding to the next steps.

Part 2:
Confirm hosts’ dates, topics and ask them to post the night before. This way you are not waiting all morning for them to post your content. Let them know you’ll send them the information 3-5 days before their date. If you send it too early they may lose, misfile or delete it, unless you ask them to schedule it early.

Write interesting blog posts that provide entertainment or educational value to visitors. What will you submit? Each blog or site will usually feature one or a combination of the following: a book cover, a summary or synopsis, an interview, book review, an article that fits the site’s theme, a short story, an excerpt, a contest, an audio-cast or a book trailer video. Posts should not be all promo unless that's what the site/blog is all about.

Advertise your VBT via online and media press releases. It is a great investment, since it’s no good doing a virtual book tour if no one knows about it. One leading press release distribution service that I use almost exclusively is 24-7PressRelease.com 24-7pressrelease.com, where you can pay from $10.00 to $299.00, depending on your distribution requirements. However, I can attest to the fact that a $45.00 release is the minimum you’ll want and its effectiveness is worth it. Other online services include PR web and Web Wire, and don’t forget to send releases to the free services too, like Clickpress.com and Free-Press.com Press releases can be extremely beneficial if written correctly and distributed extensively to the right audience, and this means submitting them to your local media (newspapers, TV, radio) as well.

Publicize your virtual book tour and other events on social networks and Booktour.com, a free site that connects authors to readers by listing author events and making it easy for readers to set up reminders and track their favorite authors. Send out invites via Facebook, Myspace, Goodreads and more.

Promote your VBT on all your websites and blogs on an events page. Put up a schedule with your hosts’ home page URL. You can post the full schedule in advance of the tour, or post a weekly schedule prior to each new week.

You can read Part 3 by visiting Criminal Minds at Work on October 2nd.

Thank you to everyone for dropping by this blog and visiting me on my Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour. Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at Kobo Books, Amazon Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. Help me celebrate by picking up a copy today and "Cherish the romance..."

Lancelot's Lady ~ A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.

You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at http://www.cherishdangelo.com and http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com.

Prizes & Giveaways: Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.

Leave a comment here, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.

Readers: what do you like about virtual book tours?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Love-Pacific Northwest Style

I've long known I was jaded where love was concerned. I've never believed some other person could 'make me whole' at least not since I was about fifteen. It gave me a deep distaste for anything that was too sappy—too devoted. I don't like sappy love songs, and I don't care for romance novels.

But I had an epiphany on one of my weekend walks that pinpointed some of my quirks about love.

The song that came on the iPod was Slide by the Goo Goo Dolls. I thought maybe we should just analyze the lyrics.


Slide

Could you whisper in my ear
The things you wanna feel
I'd give you anythin'
To feel it comin'


Do you wake up on your own?
And wonder where you are
You live with all your faults

[See, here is the first hint... a very damaged person is on the receiving end of this love song.]

I wanna wake up where you are
I won't say anything at all
So why don't you slide
Yeah I'm gonna let it slide


Don't you love the life you killed
The priest is on the phone
Your father hit the wall
Your ma disowned you

[The girl has 'killed some life'--if I were guessing, I would say she had an abortion... and she hates herself for it]

Don't supposed I'll ever know
What it means to be a man
Somethin' I can't change
I'll live around it


I wanna wake up where you are
I won't say anything at all
So why don't you slide
Slide


And I'll do anythin'
You ever dreamed to be complete
Little pieces of the nothin' that fall

[Now this is love... what SHE needs to feel complete again is what he's offering.]

Oh May
Put your arms around me
What you feel is what you are
And what you are is beautiful

Oh May
Do you wanna get married
Or run away?

[that bolded stanza is I think my favorite]

And I'll do anythin'
You ever dreamed to be complete
Little pieces of the nothin' that fall


Oh May
Put your arms around me
What you feel is what you are
And what you are is beautiful
Oh May
Do you wanna get married
Or run away?


I wanna wake up where you are
I won't say anything at all


And I'll do anythin'
You ever dreamed to be complete
Little pieces of the nothin' that fall


And I'll do anythin'
You ever dreamed to be complete
Little pieces of the nothin' that fall


Yeah, slide between the sheet
Of all the beds you never knew
Why don't you slide into my room
Just slide into my room
Oh, we'll run away, run away, run away


I guess what struck me, is how I can really LOVE a love song (or love STORY) if the people involved are damaged enough—if the act of loving really is an act of heroism, because it has been so hurtful in the past.

And I realized why I like the Northwest grunge movement (heck, ALL those people seemed damaged—their love stories certainly were)

You get songs like Nirvana's Heart-Shaped Box, or Alice in Chains' Love Song—Twisted songs about love hate relationships, unrequited love and obsession. THAT is the good stuff.

Oh, sure, it isn't what you want to build a life on (unless you're a misguided Tart with a masochistic streak) but it is infinitely more interesting—it pulls at the heartstrings because it engages us as we yell at the protagonist to think better, or have our heart torn out because it is so heart-wrenching what some people have to go through.

So there you have it. I'm jaded.

ACK!  And I forgot to remind you... Yesterday's Amazon gift certificate give away goes on all week, so just check out yesterday's blog to participate.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Merideth Cagen and a Giveaway!

Halo lovely bloggy readers! I have a lovely guest today with a self-exploration journey filled with humor and unmasked misconceptions—sounds like the kind of Chick-lit I can really get my teeth into. We ALSO have a GIVEAWAY today. BK Walker Books has authorized me to ALSO give a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate away today! My rules!

So in the spirit of the book: In the comments, leave a life changing moment of broken misconception YOU'VE experienced. If you Tweet or share on facebook, I will double your chances. The contest is open ALL week.

Now, back to Merideth... Welcome to Confessions of a Watery Tart! Take it away!

*****

Author's Bio: Meredith Cagen is a working wife and mother living in New York City. She works as a freelance writer and registered nurse. Her family has awarded her the “Queen of the Multi-taskers” title. In her free time she goes to the gym and out to eat.

Meredith returned to school to obtain a Bachelors of Science in Nursing. Finding the subject dry, technical and boring, she had a difficult time focusing on her studies. Easily distracted, and prone to daydreaming, she wrote Size Eight in a Size Zero World.

Synopsis: Meet Lindsay Chandler--a 32 year-old New York City working wife and mother with old-fashioned values who thinks she's living a fairy tale life (she's not). She's too busy navigating between her job, husband, home, children, friends and other obligations to acknowledge her loneliness. Then an unexpected friendship with her upstairs neighbor (he is smart, successful,
sophisticated and sexy-- she's not) unleashes her passion and re-ignites her sparkle.

This liaison causes her to realize what she is missing. Yearning for a storybook ending, she decides to make changes in her life, embarking on a quest for self re-invention in this hilarious, witty, heart felt story.

In the tradition of Sex and the City, Size Eight in a Size Zero World, is a modern-day story of a good girl trying to do the right thing and the wrong thing simultaneously, while remaining true to herself, whoever that is.

With the help of a believable cast of characters, Lindsay embarks on a plan to better herself and plight. This novel is a wickedly funny social commentary on the lives of average women in New York City's posh Upper East Side.

What happens when the road to happily ever after takes an unexpected detour?


Reviews

This book is everything Sex and the City 2 should have been -- smart and witty with a lot of heart! I've already bought a bunch of copies for so many friend who could relate to Lindsay.

This is Meredith Cagen's debut novel and I hope she writes more. A LOT more!

As soon as I read the first page, I knew I would love this book! Size Eight in a Size Zero World: A Novel by Meredith Cagen is written in a voice that resonated with me. The author's smart, witty style moves along at a good pace and it kept me turning the pages. I could relate to the conflicted heroine and I kept hoping she would wake up and smell the coffee.

Lindsay Chandler is thirty-two, a working wife and mother, who lives in New York with her family. In the highfalutin' Manhattan society, she's an oddity, a woman who has a real day job, does not have a nanny and does her own cooking and cleaning. Lindsay's life looks perfect on the outside, but she's miserable on the inside. Her husband Grant, a divorce attorney, treats her like a servant, ignores their two kids and is an overbearing jerk.

One day Lindsay gets into the elevator of her building and meets a man who gives her goose bumps. They strike up a friendship. He appreciates her, asks her for advice and befriends her kids. Lindsay falls hard. She loves the way they interact; he seems to accept her, perceived flaws and all. The more she sees him the more she realizes all that she's missing in her marriage. She questions her life with Grant and decides to reinvent herself and make some changes. It all leads to a satisfying conclusion.

A wonderfully witty social commentary on the New York scene, this is also an endearing story of relationships, love and infidelity. The characters are believable and many women will be able to see themselves in Lindsay. Sometimes I wanted to scream at her and sometimes I wanted to cheer her on, but always she kept me reading. I highly recommend it.


Numbers Don’t Lie

Math was my favorite subject in school. Numbers don’t lie. An answer is right or wrong. 4+4 =8, never 0, never 9. There is no subjectivity: right or wrong, black or white, yes or no, it is a binary response. Math is exact, there is no room for ambiguity or opinion. Interpretation is unnecessary. The beauty lies in its’ simplicity. You can trust numbers.

Time is based and calibrated with numbers. Like math, it is exact. It is either 8:01 AM or it is not. Precision.

Sports are based on numbers. Competitive sports like running, swimming, skiing, cycling, you want to achieve the lowest winning time, which is written in numbers. High numbers are bad, low numbers are good.

Team sports like basketball, baseball, soccer, football, you want the highest winning point totals. High numbers are good and low numbers are bad.

Therefore in sports you can want high numbers or low numbers depending on the game. This forces us to pay attention to the sport and the rules. What happens to the numbers without rules.

Size like math, time and sports is all about numbers. Big is not aways better. You want the size large if you are referring to the size of your bank account and the size of your heart. You want a small size when discussing clothing or small sized amount of the LDL (bad) Cholesterol in your blood.

Men want to have large sized hands and feet. They brag about the size of their package and of being 6 feet tall. But they don’t want to have large sized bodies.

Women want a big breast size, and a small dress size. A 34C bra size is considered average but it is large in society circles and small in the entertainment industry.

My faith in numbers is getting shaky. Numbers are to be trusted, yet additional information is required to understand the numbers correctly in certain size situations.

Models are sized small. During Fashion Week the question was asked, “Is Size 4 Fat?” by the New York Daily News. A Size 4 model (now unemployed) was not permitted to walk the runway, because she was deemed fat. Size 4 is way below the size of the average American woman who wears a Size 14. Were the other models Size 0?

Curves seem to push the size number, thus super sizing it. Jessica Simpson proudly announces that she wears a “Size 4.” The media refers to her as a “Fat Size 4.” They question the number. The number 4 is the same, but the point of view differs. Jessica may be a super size 4, where the model was only an average size 4. Does the adverb qualify and redefine the size?

Frankly, I think any Size 4 is too small, but I am a Size 8.

Can we have a fat 110 lbs and a thin 110 lbs. Isn’t it the same number, but additional information as to frame size may qualify the point of view. Size again, maybe size numbers aren’t measured uniformly and dispassionately. The numbers in sizes aren’t telling the truth, because subjectivity is introduced.
Personally I find the idea of Size Zero perplexing. Why would women want to be a Size Zero?

Instead, these ladies who don’t lunch or munch, should continue to shop in the Girls Department where the sizes are 7 – 14. At the very least they can claim to have a size instead of being a 0. Realistically and metaphorically, who wants to be a 0?

Do men want a Size Zero woman to love? Zero fat? Zero curves? Zero shapeliness? People play games in the war between the sexes. How do they keep score? Is scoring having sex or is being the first one to admit love for the other person keeping score? Confusion, because in sports love means zero.

Title: Size Eight in a Size Zero World
Author: Meredith Cagen
Genre: Women Contemporary Fiction/ ChickLit/NYC ChickLit
ISBN: 978 1440169748
Copyright: 2009
Website:
http://www.meredithcagen.com
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Size-Eight-Zero-World/dp/1440169748/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1283630067&sr=1-1

www.sizezeroworld.com
mcagen@gmail.com

Monday, September 27, 2010

Characterizing Characterization

So Friday's blogfest was a BLAST. I'd really like to thank Alex Cavanaugh, Elana Johnson, and Jennifer Daiker for a FABULOUS topic and some very interesting takes on creating characters... SO interesting in fact, that I am not willing to drop it just yet.

What struck me is how different we all saw it. Every person looked at it differently, but there are some CATEGORIES of approaches that I thought might be useful.


Which comes FIRST the Character, or the Plot?

I noticed that some people thought of their characters first (sometimes fully formed) and THEN thought of something for them to do... (or something that would happen to them). Other people couldn't do character until they knew the STORY.

People who really needed to have the characters down did clever things like interviewing them, writing full profiles, depending on psychological 'types'. (I was the only person who assigned them punctuation, but I also tend to do that after the fact, and honestly.. I've never DONE that *shifty*).

Other people needed characters to develop more organically—within the context of the story.


As with most things, I am a bendy sort... I need to know the characters before I write the book, or they won't behave consistently, but I can't 'know them' without writing them IN ACTION. I start with a couple scenes... sometimes those scenes survive, sometimes they don't.


Trait Inventory

Some people had qualities they insisted on: Smart, brave, flawed, unattractive (LOVE this one, though it's an exaggeration to how it was presented... but I am also in the 'can't be too beautiful' camp—pretty people annoy me). It's also nice if characters are capable or learning and growing.


The Telling

And then there was the school (of which I subscribe) that any character (with the probable exception of Bella Swann) COULD be written to be compelling. It is in the HOW. The reader needs to be made to CARE. That doesn't require LIKING the character, it just requires making the reader HAVE TO KNOW what happens.

There are a number of ways to make readers care about the character. I saw blogs about giving them a history, relationship... think, for instance, of Katniss Everdeen in the Hunger Games. She isn't necessarily LIKEABLE, but she takes care of her family when her father dies, she then volunteers herself for the 'games' so her sister doesn't have to go. Those two things buy a lot of leeway from the reader for this prickly character.

Even a pedophile like Humbert Humbert is compelling in Nabakov's capable words. THAT one, we are let inside his head and participate in his delusions—the 'minx-like' behavior he can't resist.



But I think my real question of interest, is whether this character creation thing is a little like the plotters versus pantsers thing... I think it MIGHT be. Do plotters need their characters sheet with all their traits, likes, quirks, where the pantsers allow the characters to develop with the story? Does this ring true to you?

I am in the middle on both fronts. I don't OUTLINE, but I do TIMELINE (and follow with about 60% success). And characters sort of COME to me, but before I DO THAT full timeline, I have written the scenes and have a pretty good idea.




So that's my question: What do you do on EACH?

Plot/Pants
Profile/Organic




[Editing Note: I am making good progress in whipping the WiP into shape, but MAN is this a slow process. I've got all my planned edits marked in some form or other, but going through and getting them in is big... I'd say I'm maybe a quarter done with that part...]

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Parenting Fail

Why does it come out of left field? Why do I have the feeling somehow my EASY kid will be the death of me? Oi! Guess maybe all the battles teach some lessons? Or something... Maybe the lack of trust is necessary?

Thing 1 was an easy baby and toddler, but she has been bossy, sassy, fast and loose with the truth, and obstinate since age 4. You heard me—her teen years are on their 11th year.

Thing 2 (right) is agreeable, likes me, tells the cook dinner was good EVERY NIGHT, has $700 of his OWN MONEY in the bank, and has never gotten below an A for a semester grade on a report card.

If you were the parent, which one would YOU worry about?

WELL YOU'D BE WRONG!


Thing 2 seems to suffer FOMS just like his mama. He is going to do every single thing he needs to succeed (and we will NEVER have trouble getting him into colleges—he will probably have scholarships. He will have a good job. He will be reliable. But I am coming to see, it may be a challenge to keep him from BEING ARRESTED. (never mind that he is 11)


So earlier this week I came home and my husband said, as I entered, set down the backpack and got the dog a carrot (aka: diet 'treat') ?“What do you know about the things on the table”

Having missed them, because my attention span is relatively limited, I returned to look. Realistic looking GUN and dangerous looking KNIFE. I picked up the gun. “It's a beebee gun,” the hubby supplies (holy freaking somethingorother, thank GOODNESS) I looked at him for explanation. I am a woman of few words and he darned well better know it by now.

“XYZ's dad came over with that. XYZ said it was Sam's. XYZ was aiming it at his sister's.” (note: XYZ had 3 sisters, one of whom I know pretty well, as when I co-led girl scouts, she was in the troop)

“That's not good.” (see how adept I am at grabbing right on the main point?)

“I'm not thrilled about it.” (note hubby's skill with understatement)

“Where did it come from?”

“I wondered if you knew.”

“erm... you know how I am about guns.”

“That's what I thought. After that, I looked in his room and found the knife. You didn't buy it for him?”

“Um... NO. No clue where it came from.” Then I thought. “I don't think anyway, but I think my stepdad might have bought him a pocket knife, but not one like that... but... if that's it, I might be wrong.” (see how I dance around not knowing anything? Hubby has a habit of setting everything one says in stone, so it is always best to only have said QUALIFIED statements so later you can say 'well I did say I wasn't sure.')


So son comes home. “Where did those come from?”

“MEIJER.”

“What?”

“I bought them at Meijer.”

"By yourself?"

"Yeah." (tone says, 'well of course')

Okay, so the beebee gun paint pellets say they CANNOT be sold to a minor. Our son is 11. You can't convince me the PELLETS have a warning and the gun does not (though the packaging is long-gone).

How is it I (a 44 year old woman) have to produce my ID every time I buy a box of wine (which happens more often than it should) and my 11 year old son is buying WEAPONS. Gun AND knife purchased when he rode his BIKE to MEIJER.


When asked why he was so secretive... catch this... this is part of the parental fail part...

“Well I knew mom didn't like guns...”

HOLY FREAKING COW. Isn't 'mom doesn't like guns a message to NOT BUY GUNS?! How does this become a 'KEEP YOUR GUNS SECRET message? I admit to being poky to even allow squirt guns... I grew up around guns and frankly, I just don't like the idea that something DEADLY in one domain is taken so lightly in others. I'm not a major hunting fan, but don't actively object to people who do it safely and ecologically (as in using everything from what they kill)--it is more humane than beef, when I put it in that light. My OBJECTION is that guns kill. We should not be playing games with them. But enough lecture on my firearms opinion.

My REAL problem (aside from raising a rascally rabbit who seems to have his mother's take on rules (DAMMIT) is that Meijer is selling these things indisciminately. If the age were 16 or 14, I can sort of see, but NO MINORS? My son does NOT look 18. He is 5'8” yes, but his face is clearly YEARS (like 10) from shaving—hubby STILL has a bare chest—the hair will be late).

So while hubby and I get a parenting fail... MEIJER needs a huge gobsmack upside the head.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Walk With Me

So, I will just confess right off that the eating this week was the big giant SUCK. Between HEALTH stress, MONEY stress, JOB stress... EDITING HELL... The eating right just didn't happen. But I thought maybe I'd share with you a piece of what I did RIGHT.


Take my Saturday walk with me...

First, we step out the door and see that in Michigan, Fall has begun... pretty, yes? I like the stuff that goes so extremely—where the green and red cohabitate...

THIS is the largest Bur Oak in North America, or that is the rumor. It really is GIANT. And sort of magical.





Also in Wurster Park is a wall of yellow flowers taller than me. I like them. They make me happy. (any flowers taller than me make me happy.) After that, I walk down Cat Street (where there are lots of cats *shifty* and then I turn past Jefferson Market (of the Cupcake Fairy Fame) and turn up NUT street.


This I just liked...

And then there is EVIDENCE that it is still CONSTRUCTION (the season that falls opposite winter in Michigan... those are the ONLY two seasons...

And turn the corner to a VERY STRANGE phenomenon, which I left large so you could sort of grasp it. There is this... I'm not sure if it is a store, exactly... gallery? There is a building with WIRE art... there is a whole wire PERSON on a bench... wire HEADS atop a... I'm not sure what it is, but it might be an electrical access something or other—a big metal box next to the sidewalk... with WIRE HEADS ON IT... but since I was partially photographing bugs, I took one of the wall of wire insects... Freaky, eh? Freakier even than a WHOLE CITY willing to install fairy doors? Well... only in that the bugs are less attractive...


And there are people with the wherewithal and means to put mosaic tiles into the sidewalk so there is a permanent hopscotch... There is ALSO a sidewalk with beautiful inlaid blue glass... I think this comes about because when the city requires you to replace sidewalk, they let YOU shop around for the contractor, so if cost doesn't matter, then why NOT do something whimsical...



AND THEN WE REACH THE INNUENDO FEST... FOR REALS...

I arrive at Hiscock... follow it a ways...

Pass the pretty, new little townhouses that play host to a woodchuck family (wish they'd been out—they're very cute)

And what do you know... Hiscock reaches SUMMIT...

But when it crosses Summit, it becomes Wildt.

Did you CATCH THAT... I follow Hiscock to Summit, but after that it becomes Wildt... yeah, somebody is innuendo happy... I think Hiscock is a name. I think SUMMIT was probably honestly named... but Wildt, I am pretty darned sure was somebody's idea of a good joke...

I think I will save the rest of the walk for next week, as that is a lot of pictures already, and it is hard to surpass the innuendo climax I just covered, ne?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Compelling Characters PUNCTUATE!

*cough*

Okay, so I got a couple things going today, but y'all know I'm nuts, so I thought maybe you'd just roll with it with me.

First up... Alex Cavanaugh and co-conspirators are holding another BLOGFEST! (Two in one week? Are you nuts? Well I think you know the answer to THAT one.) The theme? Writing compelling characters! As writers, it is so important to do, and it is so obvious when you have and don't have them... but how do we GET THEM? (hold your breath—I'll get there)

Second! (and I warned you about this) It is NATIONAL PUNCTUATION DAY! Wahoo! (I talked briefly about THIS on Wednesday.

And because I am thoroughly insane, I thought what I WOULD DO is combine themes! *shifty*

(okay, now breathe)

I considered using MY characters, but you don't KNOW that, and since I have swim meets to attend and needy children this week, I thought characters most of you know might be more illustrative...


Period Characters: These characters behave predictably (and make the rest of us do the same). Most stories have a couple and stories that DON'T can be somewhat exhausting. They are the nice balance against which all your other characters contrast. They are stable. And they give you a chance to breath. They might offer up a surprise or two (what book can tolerate characters with no interesting details or activities?) but like Minerva McGonagall, they are always reliably present. (in fact their absence is a bigger disturbance than anything else could be). Hermione falls here, too, as does Hagrid, ironically.

(My MC and her beau fall here, partly I think, because I find rational characters in irrational circumstances can be fairly amusing.)



Question Mark Characters: These characters seem like one thing, but may very well be another. There is some answer to find, some resolution to seek. In the genres I write, these characters are essential—they would be the suspects, unknown bad guys, conspirators... Or they might just be people we don't know very well and we really want to know what makes them tick. Mad-Eye Moody of his first incarnation... Sirius Black... Maybe even Ron, with his mood swings and insecurities. But the biggie, is HARRY—Why DID he live and what is his connection to Voldemort?

(ALL the suspects, except one... you'll see her in a minute)


Exclamation Characters: These are colorful, loud, and used well, can be exciting, but you don't want very many of them... Fred and George! Tonks! Dumbledore! (you can't deny, Minister, the man has style)

(My MC's dad, who seems quite popular with the ladies...)


Interrobang Characters ?!: WAHOOOOO! Can you say WILD RIDE! These characters are over the top, unpredictable, and somehow can pull off what the exclamation characters can't because there is some QUESTION about them in addition to the excitement. LUNA!

(My MC's best friend and primary sidekick “I'm naked!” (she might have some of me in her))



The Helper Characters

Comma Characters: every story needs a couple place holders to set the pace—to keep things working in the flow you want... commas are one variety (the most boring, but least distracting form—only annoying when you get too many in a row. Parvati, Hannah Abbott, Justin Finch-Fletchy...

Ellipse and Em-dash Characters: These have a similar function but are a lot bossier about it, so you want to keep them to a minimum. I would classify Arthur Weasley as an Ellipse—he is whimsical and fun and adds... his wife, Molly however, is an em-dash—fierce, but for your own good.


Semi-colon Characters: I hear female writers have lots of these *shifty * They reinforce that two characters go together by being the pause between them... Cho Chang romantically but I think Neville is the best example (I say Neville because he often accentuates why things are so hard... he brings out the best and worst in others and allows us to see clearly (look at what he brings out in Draco versus Harry)

Colon characters: These try to increase order by annoying everybody. *cough*  Seriously though... these characters instill structure that inadvertently work against our characters... (the police officer who is set in his ways and won't listen to my MC, for instance.) Most of the Ministry, Dolores Umbridge in particular, but Cornelius Fudge, too. (and their chocolate frog babies )


The main important point though (yes, there is one) is that a great story needs a combination... the periods to keep it flowing in an orderly fashion, the question marks to keep us curious and engaged, the exclamation points to shock us now and again, and the commas and such to break it up a little and make it flow in a little less choppy a fashion. And if you are REALLY LUCKY, you can create an interrobang character that people will pull out as an example of beloved, inside or outside the story, for ages to come.

So there... Now you're insane to.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tart's Guesting PolicyTart's Guesting Policy

Think you may want to be a Guest Tart?

You may have noticed I have guests now and again. If you HAVE noticed, you probably are not going to have any problem qualifying if you'd like to BE a guest. If this is new information... you probably want to read carefully.


Who Is Invited to Guest

1)  If you are a regular reader AND I KNOW IT, meaning you are a follower and comment now and again...

AND

2)  You have an event or milestone coming up (i.e. Book release, short story release, BIG contest, Naked Celebration of any sort, especially if you agree to promote the Naked World Domination movement)

Then I am HAPPY to work out a time for you to guest.


If you are NOT a regular reader, there are several guidelines. [note, if you read regularly and I DON'T know, MAKE SOME NOISE! I am a trusting sort and will believe you unless you are a butt kisser, then I get skeptical—but a little evidence of why you read would convince me] But if you are NOT yet a regular reader, you need to:


a) Read several posts with comments to get a feel for who I am and who likes to hang out with me. You may or may not think this is even where you want to be. I AM a bit wacky.

b) Write in a genre I read (if this is book or short story related)... I just can't get excited about things that are too 'sweet' unless you are already a friend of mine... (I can get excited about most anything if I know the author well enough to like them) I don't normally, though, host romance or erotica EXCEPT for friends (either of those that ALSO have thriller, noir, mystery... okay... just not straight—I just don't buy the concept of a man answering anything all on his own). I don't host religious undertones unless they are about the DANGERS of not thinking for yourself—I don't mean to offend—it just isn't me, and any readers who are into it would have been scared off by my man-butt mania. This probably isn't the place to find children's literature readers (since we're all naked and all).

I am much more interested in dark stuff... Thriller, suspense, mystery, Dystopia, YA on the dark side, Fantasy on the dark side...

If it is an EVENT and I don't know you... better be pretty darned epic. Or YOU better be marginally famous (like in my blogroll or with bestsellers)

c) THINK about what you might have that MY readers might connect with. They are FABULOUS, but they read me because they either WRITE or find me AMUSING. You might connect at a writing level (or with great info for writers), or because you are amusing. Are you? Can you connect on one of those levels? Blogging is an acquired skill—most can do it, but if you haven't committed to your OWN blog and networking (in a way that builds your own readership) chances are you need to take this question very seriously.


Sidenote:

If you want to be REVIEWED, PROBABLY you are out of luck. I am just too darned busy. But if you've been a long time follower... if we've established a bond, whether through the blog exchanges, email, facebook... and you are willing to send me a free copy (because I live in poverty), AND I HAVE TIME, I've been known to make exceptions. I will be honest in my evaluation though. My readers wouldn't trust me otherwise.


WHAT I WANT

If you qualify, one way or the other, what I look for in guest authors is:

brief bio and author photo
book blurb and cover art
your blog written for MY readers (not something recycled from elsewhere)--this is why it helps so much to have followed—you already know what they like.

(all sent to me 48 hours (at least) before we go live)


If that all sounds copacetic, then email me at hartjohnson23 (at) gmail (dot) com with 'Guest Blog?' in the header.  It is best if you are scheduling at least a month ahead.  Sometimes I have nearer dates, sometimes I don't.

Guest Author Wayne Farquhar

Today's guest writes in a genre I try to READ a fair amount of because it is probably my weak spot in my mystery writing. The actual CRIME solving (not the mystery solving, but the professional investigator, dark underbelly angle), but I am feeling humbled at present, as I see Wayne comes by his knowledge honestly. He's BEEN THERE (did you hear the cry in my voice?) Seriously though, I am impressed with his background and humbled by his experience.

So without further ado, let me introduce Wayne! Welcome, Wayne!


Bio: Wayne Farquhar is a 28-year veteran working with the San Jose Police Department in California. He has worked through the ranks from officer to lieutenant with detective assignments in Sexual Assaults, Homicide and Internal Affairs. He has also worked undercover assignments in Child Exploitation, Child Pornography and Vice. He spent 10 years as a street cop and hostage negotiator. Wayne has worked on Federal Task Forces with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). He has appeared on national television, /America’s Most Wanted/ on a murder investigation. BLOOD OVER BADGE is his first effort in crime-thriller fiction, and he hopes to write more books and speak to larger audiences about his experiences in law enforcement. Wayne lives with his family in the San Francisco Bay Area.

If you would like to formally invite Wayne to speak about BLOOD OVER BADGE or law enforcement to your organization, association, conference or expo, please send an email to info@bloodoverbadge.com.


Title: Blood over Badge
Genre: Crime fiction
Publisher: 3 L Pulishers

Synopsis:

TWO SEEMINGLY UNRELATED CRIMES –
TWO SEEMINGLY UNRELATED KILLERS –
AND TWO MYSTERIES WAITING TO BE SOLVED …

The murder of the Mayor of San Francisco’s daughter sets the stage for this intriguing and spellbinding crime thriller. Two police detectives, Jack Paige and Casey Ford are assigned to catch a cold-blooded rapist and killer. In this gritty, realistic tale of homicide, unrelated mysteries of two murderers seem to come together and make little sense. What does a man rotting away behind the stench-enclosed walls of Angola Penitentiary have to do with an evil and cruel rapist and killer now on the run from California to Texas? What is the relationship to the killing of the Mayor’s daughter? BLOOD OVER BADGE, an intense, taunt and brilliantly told crime thriller, takes readers on a realistic, gritty and real-world tour de force exploring the underbelly of police and detective work.

Press Release: http://www.prlog.org/10876035

Website: www.bloodoverbadge.com
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Over-Badge-Wayne-Farquhar/dp/0615359116/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1282508561&sr=1-1



I’ve asked myself “what’s the difference between me and my non-writer friends?” I mean, aside from the obvious … The answer came to me while I watched my 11 year old son play. He crashed space ships with huge drama. I listened while he made up voices and the sounds of destruction. I realized, he imagined everything necessary for a great book. His story: Star Wars Lego’s battle. His characters: Fighter pilots and ground-troop leaders barking orders (Dialogue) to storm troopers. Conflict: the battle. Plot: the battle. The light bulb went off in my head. Hey! I’m the goofy adult that still imagines like a child!

As children, it was natural for us to play and imagine. We did it every single day. It didn’t much matter if it was a doll or Army men. We used our imaginations and created stories and events. We had voices for our characters and some were heroic while others were not. Some characters were good and others evil. Each one had a specific role and place in our heart.

When it comes to writing, my characters are real in my mind. They have personalities, feeling, thoughts, relationships, history, quirks, hang-ups, problems, likes, dislikes, secrets: I could go on forever. I try to have 20/20 when I write a scene. I see it, smell it, feel it and taste it. It’s definitely not magical nor do I see myself as “gifted.” It’s practice! We grow up and the pressures of life drills down. We need to survive so we find work, build careers and relationships. Some of us start families and all of us get caught up in the many events that impact our daily lives. At the end of the day, we’re exhausted and we didn’t make much time for imagination. Days last forever and years fly by, right? Soon enough, we lose the art to imagine because we stopped practicing.

I understand why playing is exhausting for children. It’s the same reason writers are exhausted at the end of a writing day. It takes work and a conscious effort to be creative and stretch our imaginations. It doesn’t matter if we’re writing a book or crashing Star Wars Lego’s. We’re using our imaginations to create another world. And that alone, is my favorite aspect of writing. I get to create the entire world and all the players. Sound familiar?

I encourage you to practice using your imagination. It’s much easier if you enjoy writing. Give it a shot: it’s a lot of fun!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Diagnosis: Writing Injury

You think I jest? I am TOTALLY SERIOUS. Swear to Digression, and you know how seriously I take THAT!

Any of you who read my weekend fitness blog know I was a little freaked last weekend... sore ribs, small lump... scared me (badly, truth be told). Yeah, though I am an optimist almost all the time, my mind can still dive into dark places, so there it went.

So Monday I went to the doctor, and I described what was up. She asked me a couple questions. And then she went and got me an anatomy book.

Okay, so here is the visual aid... see the purple... part of the rib cage is cartilage. Where the cartilage and the bone meet has a little more give than we normally count on, and you can actually dislodge the connection, causing irritation, pain, swelling... She said she sees it in mechanics quite a lot from leaning over the side of cars to get at the engine. Who knew?

In the list of questions, and my volunteering answers and information it was determined that the way I was leaning over the side of the bathtub in this editing process put the pressure on the ribs that caused this fiasco... You heard me... EDITING INJURY. Have I been TELLING YOU this editing business is evil? It has just been proven!


She prescribed one of those lovely bathtub table-bobs... Something I will GLADLY love and use, though the money situation is BAD, so I am probably going to put it on my Christmas list and improvise in the meantime. I certainly am not going to put pressure on my darned ribs while I do it.


Speaking of Editing

(Do we HAVE TO?) I know, I know... I'd prefer to let it go, too, but it has been consuming my life... Why do I always forget how long this process actually TAKES? And Why, when I have a deadline, do books I mean to read find their way to me, tempting me to read instead of write... Sitting on top of my writing pile is MOCKINGJAY... and waiting at the top of my library stack is The Secret Life of Bees (put on my list for a little southern atmospheric for this cozy thing)

But that aside... I am middlish with the read through (I've DONE the beat sheet: aka, a couple bullets per section so I have the whole book on 6 pages). I've discovered something... wait for it...

I AM INCAPABLE OF READING WITHOUT MARKING UP THE DAMN THING. (and I can edit while walking, though my writing is really atrocious)

*cough*

But I am making a fair few notes on BIG stuff to do, and THAT I have on a separate set of note cards. When I finish reading, I will read all of THOSE, prioritize (as they may not all work together) then mark the beat sheet as to when they go in, THEN will come the big edit...



And FINALLY! Links YOU NEED (because I'm groovy that way)


FRIDAY IS A FREAKING HOLIDAY!!! National Punctuation Day
(Thank you Jane Sutton of Jane's Ride for this tidbit)--Can you IMAGINE!? A day for geeks like us?!


Do you write Time Travel stuff? Sounds like either fantasy or Sci Fi is okay: an anthology for A Glitch in the Continuum is seeking short stories (5K – 9K) by October 15. You hear that? ANTHOLOGY. As in PUBLISHED. Thank you Mark at The Quiddity of Delusions for the link (though he shared it on Facebook *shifty*


Are you PUBLISHED? Karen Gowen at Coming Down the Mountain is searching for the first set of authors for a new multi-author site intent on promoting books.


And the last one is strictly to amuse you... Perhaps it's a good reminder for authors that where you are determines what you think, but it is illustrated in such a chuckle filled way: Mapping Stereotypes


And this just in.  Mari, at The Giraffability of Digressions is spreading the news about Peace One Day... erm... it was yesterday, but better to know late than not to know...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Guest Author Walter Knight

First off, I should let you all know that I am blogging at Burrowers, Books & Balderdash today. But HERE, we have a guest!

Walter discovered me through the Amazon Breakthrough Author circuit and thought maybe all of YOU might be a good audience to hear about his stuff. I suspect he's right—he is mid-series in a string of humorous Sci-Fi novels and seems to be hitting a unique niche somewhat along the lines of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (meaning humorous Sci-Fi).

But I will let HIM tell you all about it...

Welcome Walter!

*****

America's Galactic Foreign Legion is a 13 book humorous science fiction series depicting the adventures of a compulsive gambler who has been tricked into joining future America's Foreign Legion when war breaks out on a distant colony with spider-like alien invaders.  Humans and aliens end up sharing "Planet New Colorado, and I use military, gambling, and culture clash themes to spin a humorous tale of humans and aliens forced to live together.

"We can't just get along."  America not only brings its Foreign Legion across the stars, but also brings drugs, alcohol, Taco Bell, KFC, Walmart, Nike sportswear, graffiti, the Mafia, football, baseball, casino gambling, sports betting, TV, interspecies sex (yuk), terrorism, and much more.  Fortunately, the spider aliens are compulsive gamblers and copy cats.  America uses not only its military industrial complex, but also its culture, to try to defeat the evil spider empire.  One of my favorite scenes is when aliens riot outside of Walmart waiting for the doors to open early on Black Friday.  It's a fun read.

I am a first time author, so the publishing business is new to me.  My first book, "America's Galactic Foreign Legion - Feeling Lucky" was published by a small press, Penumbra Publishing, in January 2010.  "Feeling Lucky" got a nice boost when world famous Sci/Fi writer Piers Anthony gave me a favorable review on his website www.hipiers.com January newsletter saying, "It's wild, improbable, but great adventure."  See Piers' website for the full review.

In April 2010 my 2nd book of the series America's Galactic Foreign Legion - Reenlistment was published.  Up until this time sales had been slow, with a few paperbacks sold every few days.  Then all of a sudden there was an explosion of sales, from an unexpected source.  In July I sold 100 Kindle books.  In August I sold at least 200 Kindle books the first 15 days, and sales are escalating.  That is a big deal for a small press and a first time author.

Sales are boosted by favorable Kindle sales rankings that are updated every hour for every Amazon Kindle book.  Sales and sales ranking seem to feed on each other.  My 3rd book, "AGFL - Silent invasion" was published August 9, 2010, and immediately started selling well, boosted by the already well selling first two books.  I see Kindle sales as the savior of small publishers.  And, I expect Kindle ownership to double this Christmas.

Now I'm selling 10-plus books per day with only three books out so far, and it appears sales are increasing.  It's a good start in a very tough field.

About me?  I live in rural Washington state with my family on 7 acres of field and forest atop a hill, my privacy guarded by my dogs, cats, horses, and fish.  I served three years in the army back in the day, and graduated from the University of Puget Sound School of Law (also back in the day).
 

The most common question I'm asked is:  You wrote 13 books?  Yes.  I wrote the books over a two year period while at the same time trying to find a publisher.  I'm sure writers out there can identify with that.  Anyway, by the time Penumbra Publishing accepted my writing, I was attaching a a dozen manuscripts to each query letter.  At first they were skeptical, but as they read each manuscript, the quality of writing remained good.  Oh, I had forgot to mention in my query I wrote humor, so that took Penumbra by surprise.  They thought as first they were reading another "Starship Troopers," but found something quite different.

Excerpt from Chapter 1: Feeling Lucky

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, planets, asteroids, alien species, evil empires, galaxies far, far way, or future events and incidents, are the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons or aliens, living or dead, events or locales including those on Mars and New Colorado, is entirely coincidental.
~~~~~~~~~~
CHAPTER 1

The bright and seedy United States Galactic Federation Spaceport & Casino was noisy and busy as usual, crawling with typical characters I’ve come to recognize. The lonely, the bored, the desperate, the broke, and of course the addict needing another gambling fix. I’ve come to know them all because they are all me, in some way or another. But that wasn’t my concern tonight. Tonight, the good ol’ United States Galactic Federation Spaceport & Casino was gonna be my ticket off Old Earth.

And what was my big hurry to get outta Dodge? Loan shark Bubba Jones has signed affidavits to have me picked up for not paying back my loans. Jones also paid the $25,000 needed to allow lethal force should I resist arrest. With Bubba, it seemed like everyone resisted arrest. The man holds a grudge. It didn’t seem right, but it was all legal, signed by the judge and notarized. Anyway, what do I know, I’m not a lawyer. If there was any good news about the fix I was in, it was that the warrant for my arrest was civil in nature, and only bounty hunters could arrest me. The police wouldn’t get involved in the whole sordid affair.

I would not be trapped on Old Earth like some rat in a maze, scrambling about with no money. No money means your life is nothing, and that was not how it was going to end for me. I had a plan. It cost $100,000 to take a shuttle to Mars, $50,000 more if I wanted to be beamed to Mars. I had $50,000 in my pocket, and I was halfway there. I was on a win streak, playing craps at the casino. How could I lose? By making ‘field’ bets, and increasing my bet whenever I lost, my progressive betting scheme was finally paying off. Dice rolls of 2 (pays double) 3, 4, 9, 10, 11, and 12 (pays triple) were winners, while 5, 6, 7, and 8 won for the Casino. How many times could I lose in a row if I kept doubling my bet? Eventually I’d have to win. Right? But it seemed like a losing streak always had a way of sneaking up on me. Now, with only $25,000 left, and all of it out on the table, I was getting real nervous. My pulse pounded, and I was soaked with sweat. The dice rolled…

Five? No! No, no, no! Why does this always happen to me?

I was broke and still on Old Earth. I looked around frantically. The couple sitting next to me laughed garishly, reminding me of evil clowns. I pushed away from the table.

Now what? Get more money from an ATM? Sure. Why not? I was already screwed – why not go all in? I found a Galactic Technologies Corporation ATM to borrow another $50,000. Approved! Outstanding! My credit and good name were still intact. Of course, if I didn’t pay the money back, I’d be working on an assembly line for the GT Corporation for the next two years. But that would never happen. I’d skip out first. Anyway, gamblers are a naturally optimistic lot. It’s our weakness. It’s my weakness.

I put all $50,000 down on a craps field bet and the dice rolled…

Six? Six! No one could have this much bad luck!

My shoulders slumped. I had to get out of here. No! I can’t handle this! I staggered, my knees weak, but I had to get it together. I couldn’t let Bubba find me.

Then a voice called out, “Psssssst, psssssst! Hey you, Big Spender. Need some money?”

“Who said that?” I looked around, but didn’t see anyone. I patted the gun under my coat for reassurance.
“Who do you think? Look over here. If I was a snake, I would have bit you.”

I spied the ATM tucked away in the corner by the cashier’s cage. A surge of optimism coursed through me as I read the lettering on the ATM: ‘United States Galactic Federation Foreign Legion.’ “Are you for real?” I asked.

“Of course I am for real,” said the ATM. “I am the last ATM you will ever need.”

I snorted derisively.

“I’ll extend you $100,000 credit. Right now. On the spot. What do you say? It’s so easy to make your financial problems go away.”

“I don’t think so. I’m no fool. I heard there was a war about to start somewhere.”

“There is always a little war about to start somewhere,” the ATM responded. “What are you, chicken?”

“Don’t call me chicken. I know how this works. If I don’t pay back the loan, it means I just enlisted in the U.S. Foreign Legion.” I was ready to walk away. “Do you think I want that?”

“Come closer and read the details. I will give you a written contract. You can pay the money back anytime you want – this month – and spend it any way you want. Who knows, Big Spender, you might get lucky at the craps table,” added the ATM.

“You know about that? Craps is my game.”

“I know a lot of things. I know you owe the GT Corporation $50,000. You owe Bubba Jones another $50,000. I know Jones is upset and will be here in about thirty minutes,” said the ATM, smugly.

“What do you mean Bubba will be here in thirty minutes?” I asked, my suspicion growing.. “How do you know that?”

“I called him,” replied the ATM.

“You did what?” I reached for my automatic pistol, wanting to shoot the ATM. That wouldn’t be practical in a crowded spaceport. I quickly calmed myself, looking about to see if anyone had noticed my little slip of temper. I seemed to be invisible to the revelers and staff.

“Vandalism will not help your situation, Mr. Czerinski. Bubba and his thug bounty hunters will be here very soon, and you still have some tough financial decisions to make.” A tray extended from the ATM. “Put your thumb on the pad. Take the money. It’s only $100,000. You can pay me back anytime this month.”

I put my thumb on the extended pad, and a pin prick drew blood, splattering it over the glass pad. “Ouch!” I drew away, holding my thumb. “Was that necessary?”

“Enlisting in the United States Galactic Foreign Legion is a serious matter. But you are right. Signing your contract in blood was a bit dramatic. Politicians came up with that idea to test your sense of humor. You have about twenty minutes before Bubba Jones gets here.”

“Aren’t you the least bit concerned Bubba might catch up and kill me?”

“Of course I am concerned,” the ATM said with seeming genuine feeling. “That’s why I keep telling you Bubba Jones is coming. My recruitment quota for the month will be set back if Bubba Jones kills you.”

“You’re facing quotas?” I did some quick calculations and realized I might end up short-changed. “Well, I want twice that. I want $200,000.”

“You are not worth that much,” said the ATM. “I have to justify the expense if the Legion gets stuck with you.”

“Haven’t you heard of inflation?” I argued. “A hundred thousand dollars will hardly get me anywhere these days. And it’s just a loan. I’m not actually enlisting. I’ll pay it back.”

“So you say.” The ATM sounded a bit sarcastic.

“I have lots of military training. I’m worth the extra $100,000.”

“Military records indicate you have some prior experience,” conceded the ATM. “You were in the Arizona National Guard back in the day?”

“Yes. They’re a rough and tough outfit.”

“I’m sure,” said the ATM. “Records show you did not earn your Infantryman’s Badge. How did you manage to avoid combat along the California border?”

“I saw combat,” I insisted. “It’s just that my captain was too lazy to do the paperwork, and my remaining enlistment was too short for me to care. I just wanted out.” “I do not believe your explanation,” challenged the ATM. “Among other faults, you are a compulsive liar.

“It’s the truth. Let God Almighty strike me down with lightning if I’m lying.” Just as I swore this oath of truthfulness, a baggage handler slammed a cart into a railing with a loud crack. I flinched and ducked down, thinking for a second that God had called me out. I looked around. All was still good in the world. There were no lightning bolts, yet.

“Your company commander, Captain Hill, described you in an evaluation report as resourceful, but not a team player. He said, and I quote, ‘Corporal Czerinski never sees the big picture.’ What did Captain Hill mean by that?”

“All officers talk that way,” I said, dismissively. “I was a corporal. Corporals aren’t supposed to see the big picture. We are just supposed to keep ourselves and our men alive for the day. You know, take cover and don’t get shot.”

“Your psychological profile says you may have a drinking and gambling problem. Is that true?”

“Gambling problem?” I asked. “No way. It’s not a problem as long as I win. Are you going to loan me the money or not? There are plenty of other ATMs out there who want my business.”

“I know your type,” said the ATM. “You like to take short cuts. I am going to lend you more money than you are worth, just to make a point. You will squander your money trying to show everyone how smart you are. Then you will be mine.”

“I’m smart enough to stay out of the Foreign Legion,” I challenged. “That’s all that matters. I’m feeling real lucky. I can’t lose.”

“I am going to enjoy watching you crash and burn,” said the ATM. “It will get ugly.”

“What kind of an ATM are you? You have a screw loose? When was the last time you had your diagnostics checked?”

“As long as my recruitment quotas are up, everyone is happy,” bragged the ATM. “I do not need my diagnostics checked. I feel fine. Take your money.”

Monday, September 20, 2010

Television Blogfest

The FABULOUS Alex Cavanaugh is holding a blogfest for our TOP 10 EVER TV shows. Now I was a latch key kid... I watched a LOT of television when I was little (most of it syndicated reruns on channel 11 from Seattle). I loved Gilligan's Island and The Brady Bunch best in those early years, but my look back on television takes on quite a different flavor. In chronological order...


ALL MY CHILDREN: In the spirit of this site being CONFESSIONS of a Watery Tart, I will admit to you NOW that via YouTube, I keep up with the three ABC Soap Operas. Honestly, All My Children ANYMORE is my least favorite of the three, but it is the one that hooked me on this ridiculous genre. When I was in 7th grade I lived next to the Jr. High (RIGHT next to it). I went home for lunch. My neighbor Melinda, a year older said, 'well you should watch All My Children at lunch (it was on at noon) and so I turned it on (me and several friends, usually)...7th and 9th grade I had 5th hour lunch (12:20-1:05 or some such thing) and so saw the last half. 8th grade I had 4th hour lunch (11:45-12:15) so only caught the beginning—but opening my house to friends with a different lunch hour meant we could piece together all but about 10 minutes when we had PE in the afternoon. I've been hooked ever since, though high school, my later college and early years working there was no way to see it except vacations... but in my restaurant years I saw at least a few days a week, and by the time I finished grad school, 'summaries' were available online. STILL, I am very happy for YouTube. THIS is my guilty pleasure.


SOAP

This appeared at a PERFECT time in my life. I was in a tiny town, experiences were limited, humor was often adolescent (though I did have some Monty Python exposure)... Soap was FABULOUS. My mom didn't get it, but then there is a lot she doesn't get where humor is concerned... in fact she seems to be almost completely lacking one.... I loved the slapstick approach to what, at the time, were considered controversial issues. I loved the over the top situations, played down as perfectly normal. Jessica was my favorite character... there is so much nobility in being too dense to be mean about anything.


Twin Peaks

I think hubby and I were cohabitating at this point. It is the first show I remember that was serial... as in the story kept building... that was dark, twisty murder mystery instead of prime-time soap. So MANY things to love here... Kyle MacLachlan (an Oregonian, by the way), David Lynch (who is one twisted dude, and I almost always love his bendies), David Ducovny in drag... The end of the series could have been thought through better, but this really was TVs first serious mind f*#k. I LOVED it.


Northern Exposure

This show depicts my humor perfectly. I like things subtle and based on inconsistencies. It also coincided with my time pushing beer and I had 2 coworkers who ALSO worked shorts on Monday night and we'd often get off work, go in the back room and drink good beer and chuckle about the show together.

X-Files

Mind bendy is my very favorite thing. TOTALLY my favorite thing. I love the whatiffyness of this show--it inspired my first dalliance into loving the idea of reincarnation from a fictional perspective "you and I were only meant to meet in passing in this lifetime, but I miss you so much". I love Mulder. I love Scully. I love the double entendre motto of 'The Truth is Out There'. Everything about it fed my imagination and deep love of conspiracy theory. It really is probably my favorite of this whole list...


Homicide, Life On the Streets

I have always liked detective, mystery solving TV. Everything from Murder, She Wrote to CSI entertains me (though I rarely watch any of it besides Castle, anymore). But this show was a grittier, darker version that added the 'ongoing' layer, the character development... the questionable choices sometimes made (does the end justify the means?). It helped that Andre whatshisname is HOT, but mostly I just loved that it made it all seem 'darker' than most television, and that is how I like my fiction.


Lost

Yes... mind bendiness at its best... I love all the boundaries this show pushed, and the suspension of our disbelief we had to offer up. In a way, it shows one of the complications with a series of undetermined length—you can't plan the ending when you don't know how many seasons you'll have... but at the same time, they seemed to adapt and ratchet it up well. And they showed the power of sacrificing a favorite. I think the most powerful episode of the series was Charlie sacrificing himself for everyone else. I also loved Kate's triangle though—do you love the person who makes you want to be the best you can, or the person who really gets you deep down because they've been to as dark of places as you have and love you anyway?


Alias

My friend BrioNI was in love with this well before it occurred to me to watch it, but when I finished DENIABILITY, my fourth book, and said I needed some spy material for revisions, she said I needed to watch this. Thankfully, my local library has the series, and it is FABULOUS. The spy TECHNIQUE stuff worked really well,  (though the book still needs to be edited). The BIGGIE though, as a writer, is this is the first place I noticed the beauty of 'one mystery within the episode, but several ACROSS episodes'--I have a YA series planned and intend to include this plotting technique... And I'm SORT of using it even within the cozies. I think it is a great way to bring people back again and again and to up their engagement.


Veronica Mars

Recommended by my friend Alix. This is a GREAT one for a mystery writer. Veronica, daughter of a private eye (who USED to be sheriff, until...) helps her dad and ends up with plenty of cases of her own often in, first her high school, then her college. I like the situational set-up—formerly IN, now OUT of the popular crowd... has made friends with a really odd batch... I LOVE the friendship with the 'gangster' (Weevil) in the highly tense 'I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine' come friendship, but sort of lacking in trust. This just has so much great stuff.


Grey's Anatomy

My daughter introduced me here and I love the collection of characters. The medical cases are only minorly interesting to me, but the flawed personalities are very well done... they try to change, it works for a while, then they fall backward and this strikes me as very real. I think my favorite RELATIONSHIP is the Callie/Mark friendship... sexing your way into a deep, meaningful friendship strikes home on a couple levels but now they are really there for each other. I also really like watching Alex alternate between fighting and embracing his demons. Strikes me as far more honest than a lot of TV.



Honorable Mention: Friends:

Hello, Naked Thursday (not Naked Wednesday either) “Pick a day!” Joey, between going commando and naked Thursday, has a place in my heart. I also adore Phoebe, but she didn't push the nakedness, so Joey, this ones for you...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ahoy!  ‘Ermione It Be!

Ye see, me hearties, I be havin’ an ‘ell uv a time decitin’ betwixt th’events o’ th’day!  It be Talk Like a Pirate Day, and it be th’day our sweet ‘Ermione came inte th’world!  So I thinks, well I cen’t decide sech a bewildrin’ thing! So I thut mehbe I’d talk ‘bout ‘Ermione, but like the Cap’n I be!

‘Ermione Granger, as ye know, be second mate te ‘Arry Potter, an she be a fine witch!  Pirates den’t entirely trust witches, as often they be wantin some part’n our booty, er tryin’ te trick us with their potions, but ‘Arry, ‘n Ron, ‘n ‘Ermione, they be alright.

Firs, see, she be like renegade fer a witch. Our firs hint e' course be brewin' th'polyjuice, wherein she plotted te steal from the rich te give te th'poor... er well... er at least trick th'rich inte givin' some infermation.

An then there was te rebellious organizin... Teachin' students te' REBEL! Yeh, 'Ermione's a pirate!

Now, your charge fe th'day: Talk Like a Pirate, me hearty! An celebrate our 'Ermione!


THIS JUST IN!  tHIS WEEK'S DRABBLE DARE IS PIRATE THEMED!  GO ENTER!

Burrowers, Books & Balderdash

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Confession Time

So you know how this is called CONFESSIONS of a Watery Tart? And how sometimes you get TMI, but mostly you can't send me to jail or anything? And you know how Saturday is my fitness blog?-- my week's admission of physicality as to what is ME? Well today we have a real CONFESSION. I haven't talked to the hubster about it, because frankly, he is in ass-mode—my colleagues at the Microbrewery used to joke about 'his time of the month'--which, when it's a woman offends me greatly—it robs us of our right to be pissed off... but for a man... a monthly week of crabbiness—I can hardly argue. If it were less frequent or more reasonable, I'd argue, but for 22 years my husband seems to have HAD one—That time of the month...

My point? Hubby is crabby and I don't want a crabby response, so I am telling YOU, my BFFs.

First... Nobody panic... This is just me being melodramatic...

So I called the doctor yesterday and made an appointment. Why? I got a pain. Oh, I've TOLD you about the back and shoulder... those seem to be muscle and joint pain and therefore NOT terrifying. THIS pain is... odd.

About two weeks ago I woke up feeling like I'd suffered a bear hug from an overzealous polar bear. My RIBS felt bruised... only on the left, side. But the REAL bugger was not bruising (which never actually SHOWED as bruising... it just FELT like bruising...)... the ribs on my left FELT bruised but didn't LOOK it. I played it down... it's what I do. No big deal... mysterious bruised feeling... Okay... weird, but I am cautious where medical professionals are concerned—no thanx to the DOCS, so for a week and a half, that was something I could live with. Then, yesterday, I got an odd wild hair and bent to the side—little stretching... I fingered the sore side a little... and it wasn't quite right. I bent the other way... and CONFIRMED it wasn't quite right... The left side... the SORE side... has... not a LUMP exactly, but a hard spot... a spot that won't yield to some poking. One side I can squish just a little, poking into my side gut, the other, not so much... It is of note that my RIBS are NEVER where I carry much extra weight and this SPOT is immediately under my ribs, so while I've got plenty of fat on my bod, this is NOT where it sits... that isn't part of this particular mystery, so there isn't a lot of 'what is what' that needs to happen...

So yesterday I made an appointment relating to this 'mysterious hardness below my rib'... And I'm a little worried as to what exactly would do this... the Googled body map makes it look like this is possibly spleen, stomach, maybe kidney or intestine area... Or freaky rib pain... but of course an appropriate paranoid writer type can't QUITE ignore that this doesn't seem right... I''ve decided it must be my spleen *shifty*

That's it... no answers... just fear... I just needed to sort of... let it out there... Appointment made... I'm dealing... just... nervous.



As for the PLAN

I don't think I did horribly (not great). The day I slept through and missed my power walk I made up for, so exercise is on track. Eating was on track MOSTLY... but the scale is arguing with me. Says I am up a pound... hmph.

So there we have it...