Saturday, February 27, 2010

GO FOR IT!

I’ve managed to miss or sleep through most of the coverage of my favorite Olympic sport—figure skating.
But every time I turn on the TV…
There’s curling.
Does it ever end?
How many curling teams are there anyway?
How many countries compete?
It seems to me that other sports have just a few days of competition and then they’re over.
But curling is still going on.
And I don’t know, I’m sure it’s just me…
But after watching all the triple loops, lutzes, salchows, and flips …
All the alpine, moguls, cross-country and super G’s …
The hockey, speed skating, bobsledding and luge …
Shaun White doing his double McTwist on the half-pipe…
I find curling a bit…well…
Just a tad…
Boring!
There …
I said it…
Maybe someone needs to say it.
(No offense to the athletes (?) involved.
And on another sport and headline: FEAR PROMPTS BOBSLEDDER TO QUIT
OMG!
I won’t—can’t—criticize because I know fear …
And mine has never involved risking my life …
But as everyone has noted, for this man to come all the way to the Olympics just to drop out …
Well, It’s motivated me.
My fear (of success, if that’s what I have) …
Is not the same as putting my life on the line.
But now that I have a killer query letter (or so my writing colleges have told me) …
It’s time to make the move…
Take a chance…
Put all my training and skill to the test…
Go for the gold and . . .
Submit!

Always, Em-Musing

P.S. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

OH, BOO HOO


I’m watching the Winter Olympics.
Isn’t everyone?
Well, I guess not.
Even I don’t’ sit there glued.
At best I catch highlights.
And if I’m lucky (and don’t fall asleep)…
I’ll actually see some figure skating.
Recently, I read an interesting article on the Internet about some of the athletes. 

“On Saturday night during the finals of the ladies' moguls, as American Shannon Bahrke pistoned her legs down the trail, the announcer noted blithely that she has had six knee surgeries. Six. Is that all? On Sunday night J.R. Celski re-told the tale, which NBC had noted a night earlier, of how he filleted his left thigh at September's team trials and needed 60 stitches to close it. And how close he came to severing his femoral artery, in which case "I would have bled out (i.e., died) in 10 seconds. Also on Sunday night, Sandra Bezic figure-skating analyst, remarked as an aside that Canadian Jessica Dube had needed 83 stitches to close a laceration in her cheek from partner Bryce Davison's skate."

Amazing!
These daring athletes pushed themselves to the limit despite horrendous injuries to their body.
And after overcoming their injuries, went on to win Olympic medals!
So?
How can I possible moan and whimper like a baby…
When I get a rejection letter from a literary agent?
While my ego takes a hit . . .
At least there's no blood involved.


Always, Em-Musing

Thursday, February 18, 2010

IT'S ALL IN MY HEAD

My retreat of dreams?
A nightmare!
Oh, not that the aqua water wasn’t a feast for my eyes …
Or the tropical breezes didn’t soothe my senses …
Or that the all-inclusive package didn’t satisfy…
Or that I hadn’t found some real estate to look into.
It was the voice in my head that wouldn’t allow me peace.
What are you doing?”
“What do you mean? I countered, as if I didn’t know what I was being asked.
You’re here in Cancun on some wild goose chase squandering your time while you should be home submitting to agents.”
“But–”
“What excuses do you have, huh? Your query? It’s finished!”
“But–”
 “What’s that? You say you need a synopsis and that you’re working on it? Hello! FYI many agents don’t require one when you send the query.”
“But–”
 “And you’ve already marked the agents in the 2010 GUIDE TO LITERARY AGENTS  who accept woman’s fiction.”
“But–”
 “What? You’re insecure? You’re afraid of success? You’re a wuss!
“But I blog!”
“Blog? You’ve read dozens of times that you shouldn’t sacrifice your writing time to blog.”
“But–”
 “But what?”
“I enjoy writing it. I get feedback I–”
“You’ve got to go the distance, Em. You’ve got to push. You’ll make it. Your writing is good. Your story is funny. Women will relate. There will be an agent (or several) who loves your manuscript who’ll find a publisher just as excited. You must push hard. It’s a numbers game You know that. Any questions?”
“I guess not.”
“And? What else?”
“I’ll get right to work as soon as I get home. And I’ll only blog when I’ve finished my goals for the day. OK?”
“Now you’re talking! That’s the kind of motivation I like to hear”

Always, Em-Musing

Friday, February 12, 2010

FIELD THE REAL

Checking out the retreat of dreams :)
Have a great weekend. :)
Blog ya next week. :)

Always, Em-Musing

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

LOVE CRAFT

I was talking on the phone last night with my oldest daughter . . .
Specifically about The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown.
We’re both reading it and enjoying it.
Especially all the research and facts he includes.
It’s almost as if he researched symbolism then wove a story around it.
Hey, nothing wrong if that’s what he did.
My first completed manuscript began with a simple plot . . .
But the more research I did, the more the storyline took unexpected twists and turns.
And truthfully?
I love researching almost as much as writing.
Anyway, my first manuscript, Where Demons Dwell (working title), is a supernatural thriller.
Well, I’m 99.9% sure, that is.
One of the problems I had when I started submitting it was . . .
Figuring out what the genre was.
I’m going to admit now just how ignorant I used to be with the whole writing process.
It was back in 1998 at my first writer conference, The Columbus Writers Conference, when I learned that there’s a difference between literary fiction and commercial fiction. And that there are “genres.” And that I had to figure out what the genre was for my manuscript.
So home I went to research—genres.
At first I thought the genre was religious horror, then dark religious horror, then spiritual thriller, then dark fantasy . . .
And finally I settled on supernatural thriller.  
Before I came to that conclusion however, I Googled to find what author wrote similar stories as mine.
And that’s when I learned of H.P. Lovecraft.
OMG!
Why hadn’t I heard of him before?
As a kid, I loved Mary Shelley’s, Frankenstein
(My mother actually had a first edition copy)
Before I could even read, I used to love to look at the scary illustrations.
Then Edgar Allan Poe became my favorite scary author.
My parents had many books of his short stories and poems.
And trust me . . .
You don’t want to mention "The Raven" around me . . .
When I’ve had a few shots because . . .
I will recite the whole poem.
But anyway . . .
My parents neither had H.P. Lovecraft’s books nor ever mentioned his name.
And I never learned of Lovecraft in high school.
I now own several books of Lovecraft, but cannot read them living by myself.
Way too creepy.
Somewhere along my writing journey . . .
I switched gears from scary supernatural thrillers . . . 
To writing women’s fiction, or more specifically women’s lit.
And I love that I've switched from dark and scary . . .
To light-hearted, humorous stories.
And I’m most happy because  . . .
Having already done the research . . .
I already know what genre it is.

Always , Em-Musing
P.S. I'm still serious about that writer retreat in Cancun

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

IF I BUILD IT?

Would you come?
To a writers retreat. . .
In Cancun?
Waiting for the impending snowstorm here in the Midwest . . .
Which is a baby storm compared to the one that slammed the East  . . .
I’m restless . . .
I’m one of those people who like warm (and hot) tropical breezes . . .
Not cold arctic blasts.
Yes, I can create an atmosphere in my head . . .
And on my stove . . .
Creamy hot cocoa with some Bailey's, scrumptious pots of soups and stews.
Hunkering down under a blanket in front of a warm crackling fire . . .
Or TV . . .
Reading a book or watching a fantastic movie.
But I don’t want to muster up these feelings to “get through” till spring.
I want warm, sunny now.
And some humidity!
I’m so tired of sticking Vaseline up my nose because of bone dry air.
What’s that you say? Buy a humidifier?
I did.
Three of them.
I also hang wet towels around my bedroom so the air can absorb the moisture.
I swear! Grapes can turn into raisins in a day in this apartment!
Not to mention my skin!
So . . .
If I built a writers retreat in Cancun . . .
Or another village close by. . .
Would you come?
It would be a quaint bed & breakfast kind of place . . .
A writer’s sanctuary looking out to the crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
Or perhaps a villa hidden away amid lush tropical vegetation.
Peacocks and iguanas would leisurely roam.
Tasty, healthy meals would be provided. Local fare or whatever you like.
I’d work a sweet deal with Expedia from all major cities to Cancun so it’d be easy to get to.
With free transportation to and from the airport.
Also one free massage daily would be included.
WiFi? Of course.
A van and driver too if you wanted to tour Mayan ruins . . .
Or swim with the dolphins.
You'd have days of tranquil writing time . . .
For your W.I. P . . .
New novel . . . 
Short story, poems, or whatever.
Or perhaps to just read.
So . . .
If I build  . . .
A writers retreat  . . .
Would you come?
Yes?
OK then . . .
I'm going to start Googling properties for this writers retreat . . .
And I'll keep you posted.

Always, Em-Musing
P.S. I am serious.




Monday, February 8, 2010

AND THE WINNER IS?

Super Bowl  XLIV!
Of course I watched it . . .
And like many people . . .
I watched it just for the commercials.
But I probably watched the commercials for a different reason than most people because . . .
I used to write both TV and radio commercials.
And if can brag . . .
I’ve won many awards for my writing.
And if I can share . . .
I LOVE writing TV and radio spots.
I love the challenge of so little time to get the message across.
And writing humorous commercials is what I loved most.
But the bottom line with humorous or any commercial is . . .
While it’s great to entertain the audience . . .
And make them laugh  . . .
If at the end of :30 or :60 . . .
The audience can’t remember the name of the client or what the product or service is  . . .
Then the commercial was a loser and didn’t do it’s job.
So with that in mind, I watched.
Was it just me? Or was the theme during the first-half poking fun at wimpy men?
Didn't care much for the commercial with the close-up shot of men’s rear ends as they walked in their underpants.
Loved the commercial with the groundhog playing the violin.
And the one with the sumo wrestler made me laugh out loud.
The one with the woman in the bathtub who texed was also funny.
But to be honest?
I can’t tell you today what any of the products were or who the companies were for these.
So for me . . .
The winning TV commercial  last night was . . .
Google.
Yup, Google.
No, I didn’t laugh, wasn’t supposed to.
But the genius of this commercial was that the Google logo was on the screen the entire :30.
It showed exactly how Google is used.
And while showing how Google is used, the commercial told a story.
And my goodness, it couldn’t have cost much to produce either.
Just a static shot of a Google page.
With the FX of typed in searches.
And only one SFX at the end of a baby cooing.
There were no movie, TV or sport stars . . .
No extras . . .
No cars whizzing in the commercial . . .
No computer animation . . .
No music.
Not even a voiceover.
Just pure genius.
If a viewer hadn't known how Google is used before watching the commercial . . .
They surely would after :30.
And though the commercial wasn't knee slapping funny, it did make me smile.
The second commercial I liked was the montage of historical moments caught on TV.
Too bad I can’t remember who the company or what the product is. Some little TV is all I remember.
And of course there were honorable mentions . . .
Like the E*TRADE spot with the babies talking.
Coca Cola's with the man sleep-walking in Africa.
Dr. Pepper's with Kiss and mini-Kiss.
And the Denny's spot with the hens.
What I find so ironic in all of this though is . . .
While I love the challenge of writing “briefly” for commercials  . . .
Why in heaven’s name is writing briefly for a query  . . .
Such a painstaking process?
And why did it take me so long to write one?
(Dear God, I hope I finally have a winning one).

Always, Em-Musing
P.S. I must fess up. I didn't see all the commercials last night. I fell asleep soon after The Who performed.
So there could very well have been commercials just as effective as the Google spot and I just didn't see them.
Guess I'll just have to Google Super Bowl XLIV TV spots to see them.


Friday, February 5, 2010

THE SOUND AND THE QUERY

Writing an effective query letter is a daunting process.
The query has to catch an agent’s attention, make them go gaga over it enough so that when they pitch it to a publisher they'll go gaga over it too.
I’ve read that agents can get up to 100 queries a week. Or is it a day?  Either way, the competition is fierce.
It’s taken me a while to come up with my current query letter.
And I’ve saved each version along the way. Almost a ream of paper.
(And to my dear friend who read or listened to me read each version, thank you.)
(And just so you don't think I'm a blathering idiot, many copies just had typos.)
Recently, I’ve been reading blogs on writing query letters.
Elana Johnson has detailed tips on writing query letters in her blog newsletter.
She also has a great little inexpensive ebook available on writing query letters.
I bought it, and because of that book, I believe I’ve got a great query letter now.
And just the other day, Rachelle Gardner had the "Top Ten List of Query Mistakes" on her blog.
To amuse myself . . .
I went back and read one of my earlier query letter versions that I actually I sent out.
DEAR GOD!
No wonder I got rejected!
Embarrassing!
And if seeing these versions again wasn’t humiliating enough . . .
I could hear how the agents probably reacted . . .
Because I reacted the same way.
After reading about ten versions . . .
I realized I was "Voweling."
(The sound made when yowling loudly while saying vowels)
It goes something like this . . .
An agent reads one of my query versions and goes, “Ack!”
Another agent, “Eh!”
Another agent, “Ich!”
Then another, “Ahch!”
And yet another, “Ugh!”
See what I mean? 
That’s Voweling the short way.
Unfortunately, there’s Voweling the long way too.
One agent reads my query versions and goes, “Ay?”
Another agent, “Eeeek!”
Another agent, “Aye, aye, aye!”
Then another, “OH, no.”
And yet another, “Eeuww!”
So there you have it . . .
The, A, E, I, O, U of Voweling.
What’s that?
You’re wondering about the “Y’?”
Point well taken.
That’s Voweling the someday way.
That's when one agent reads my current query and goes, “YES!”
Another agent goes, “YEAH!”
Another agent goes, YUP!
Well, you get the idea.
After reading a few more old query letter versions, it occurred to me  . .
I have all them in a file in my computer and don’t need all these noisy reminders cluttering up my office (or brain) anymore.
So I’m going to use the shredder my friend gave me this past Christmas.
Yes, that same friend who read all  my query letter versions.
At the time, I thought it was an odd gift.
But thinking about it now . . .
Hmm?
After friend patiently reads and talks about hundreds of 
versions of queries letters with writer . . .
Friend gives writer a shredder for Christmas.
Coincidence?
I think not.
Thank you again, dear wise friend.


Always, Em-Musing

 



Wednesday, February 3, 2010

NEWS FLASH -- WMH!

TV NEWS HEADLINE:  BOTOX NEW WMD
Wait a minute!
This is a joke, right?
It has to be.
Surely they're kidding.
Having had Botex injections . . 
(yes, I admit it)
And considering it again for spring, when the sun will shine again in the Midwest . . .
I had to find out the truth about this story and so I Googled.
Global Security Newswire: Toxin Found in Botox Could Pose Bioterrorism Threat Monday, Jan. 25, 2010
OMG!
It’s true!
Though I’m not understanding how Botox is a weapon of mass destruction,
What will happen?
Will brow furrows suddenly implode into skulls?
Will foreheads explode?
Anyway, the article continued . . .
"In a 2009 experiment, scientists successfully demonstrated that a biologist with some advanced training and relatively inexpensive equipment could produce 1 gram of the raw toxin -- potentially enough to cause thousands of deaths."
Wait a minute . . .
Now this has to be the joke part . . .
A biologist with some advanced training?”
Come on!
I remember learning in a home economics class in junior high that botulism could develop in canned vegetables.
That didn't take advanced training for heaven's sake.
And relatively inexpensive equipment
Are glass canning jars considered equipment?
Way back in ‘70’s when I was a young wife and mother, I tried my hand at canning.
I was careful to seal the jars correctly, however . . .
I remember when I opened the first jar of my canned green beans . . . 
I stared at them wondering . . . .
Dear God! Are they poisonous?
Even though I had heard the “pop” of the flat, gold seal . . .
Did I dare serve them? Eat them?
I couldn't stand the stress of causing: Death by String Beans!
I think I threw out almost a dozen jars of green beans out of fear.
And the next year, I switched to freezing veggies.
Anyway . . .
I continued to Google this news story and found this info on biological weapons of mass distruction:
"To kill many with anthrax or botox, someone would have to first get the victims to sniff weapons-grade anthrax or eat botulism-contaminated food and then shun antibiotics or antitoxins."
What wonderful news!
Seems I don't have to fear Botox as a WMD . . .
I just have to fear News Headlines as a WMH . . .
Weapon of Mass Hysteria!


Always, Em-Musing



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

BRIEF IT UP

AVATAR!
WOW!
I finally saw it.
Everything I’d heard about it was true . . .
And then some.
Besides all the special effects . . .
And the 3-D effects . . .
It had all the elements of a great story . . .
Sympathetic characters 
Intriguing plot 
Gorgeous setting
Universal theme 
And unique style.
Yes, James Cameron, you definitely put your style into that movie!
The next morning, I got up and Googled Avatar for some background info and I came upon something even more interesting.
Specifically, this one line synopsis for Avatar:  A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.”
OMG!
A two and a half hour movie, boiled down to a one sentence synopsis.
ONE SENTENCE!
Why do I have trouble boiling down my novel to a ONE PAGE synopsis?
I also came upon this synopsis:  AVATAR takes us to a spectacular new world beyond our imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on a journey of redemption, discovery and unexpected love, as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization
Again . . .
A two and a half move summed up in one sentence!
OK then!
Here’s my synopsis . . .
Menopausal woman whines her way to publication.
OK, so it’s not the “real” synopsis I need to write.
But it’s made me realize that I . . .
Have to quit acting like a big ole whiny baby and . . .
Just do it!
OMG!
Wasn’t "Just Do It" my New Year’s resolution anyway?
Oh, boy . . .
Memory loss is setting in fast!
I better get the synopsis done and start submitting to agents before I forget I even have three books (in this genre) to get published.

Always, Em-Musing

Monday, February 1, 2010

OVER-THE-WOW'S

Guess I had to be there . . .
At the 52nd annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center, LA, 
that is . . .
Because I thought all the performances at the Grammy Awards
were (while fantastic) . . .
Ineffectual.  
Sorry . . .
But after watching and loving the AMA back in November ’09 . . .
All the over-the-top performances last night didn't have the intended effect on me. 
I did love the evening's first performance with Lady GaGa and Sir Elton John but . . .
All I could think of was Lady GaGa's puffy shoulders and  . . .
Oh no! Will shoulder pads be coming back?
And just like at the AMA's, there were lots of female thighs last night too.
But Jennifer Lopez showing hers in a half short/half long dress was funny to me.
In my mind I could hear Marc Anthony say to her the night before . . .
“Darling, your dress is gorgeous! So classy!”
“But all the other women will be showing “thigh.”
Rrrriiiippppppp!
“Better darling? Now you have class and some thigh.”
Beyonce´ showed her thighs in a very theatrical performance I didn't understand.
Instead of being "wowed" . . .
I kept wondering why all the military men? And hope she didn't fall off the stage.
And talk about theatrics . . .
Pink!   
WOW! Her clever costume made her look naked!
My eyes—as I’m sure ALL eyes—were scanning her body.
And her aerial performance was also WOW! 
Got to give it to the woman for nerves of steel!
And got to give it to the cameramen who kept a bird’s-eye shot not just on her crotch, but the several other crotches spinning around up there with her under the big top.
But  . . .
Maybe because of Sacha Baron Cohen’s stunt last year at the MTV awards when he looked like he was a flying trapeze act gone bad hurtling down and landing in Eminem’s face. . .
And because of all the press that stunt received . . .
Maybe that's why the producers of the Grammy’s thought an aerial performance was needed too.
And Pink's performance was stunning, looking as if it came straight out of Cirque du Soleil.
But then . . .
And maybe it’s just me . . .
Her spectacular aerial performance was sabotaged with a stunt that could have only been choreographed by a clown because . . . 
Pink got dunked!
I thought my circus analogy might be over-the-top silly . . .
But then realized there was a "ring" that Beyonce' used in her 
number . . .
And Pink used a "ring" in her performance too so . . .
Maybe it was a clown from the Ringling Bros Circus who was hired to choreograph this event? 
Tired, I decided I'd catch the rest of the winners tomorrow on the Internet or on Entertainment Tonight, but not before catching part of the Black Eye Peas performance and . . .
Was that a sensory-deprivation mask that one guy had on?
A stylish latex one?
Or an over-the-top prop choice?
In any case . . .
Ick!
Off to bed I went.
As I drifted off to sleep . . .
I was thankful . . .
(And I'm sure all writers would agree with me on this one)
That while authors need a platform . . .
They do not have to perform at ceremonies when they receive the Pulitzer Prize, the Nobel Prize in Literature, or even when they make an appearance at the National Book Festival in Washington D.C., or any book event, and especially at book signings.
Maybe it's just me . . .
But I think authors and their writings . . .
Do not need to be over-the-top to be winners.
They are perfect as is.

Always, Em-Musing