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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fear and Trembling Magazine Acceptance

Real quick--I'm supposed to be studying micro--

Fear and Trembling just accepted my vampire story about damnation and repression! It was a hard sell because no one wants vampires or damnation or repression, so I'm really glad! 

Here's the cover letter I used:

Viviana refuses to drink human blood. It doesn't matter that she wants to. It doesn't matter that everyone around her says it's natural. It doesn't matter that every other substance on the planet is poisonous. It's wrong to kill an innocent.

But wasn't she supposed to go to heaven when she died? Wasn't that was 'gracia sola' was all about? Is she damned? If not, why is she housed in a crypt with clammy blood-suckers? Does this have anything to do with the same-sex attraction she denied all her life? And if so, is she repeating her crime against nature by denying her new desires, too?

This is a story about hoping against hope when God doesn't show up.

Look for it in the upcoming months, if you're into dark, weird, probably offensive stuff. Otherwise, forget I said anything. Also, this short story is an allegorical autobiography! 

Okay, that's a little personal, but yes! Same-sex attraction sharing time coming soon to a little blog near you. Specifically, this one!

Love ya.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Short and Sweet: Why YA is a Realistic Category and Teens who will Save the World

I've heard a few people say that inherently, YA is kind of an unrealistic book category--I mean, if a teenager had to save the world, we'd all be SCREWED. And covered in those stupid Ke$ha posters.

Hold up, are you kidding me? Teenagers have saved the world over and over again throughout history. Back in the day teenagers used to be the captains of ships, the fodder for armies, even the rulers of nations. It only takes a quick look through European, Chinese, or American history to find examples: Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, King Tut, they were all influential teenagers. Most pirate captains started out as teens, and the historical mother of Jesus was most likely only 14 when she did her thing and challenged all known religion with her belief she'd been impregnated by YHWH.

Historically, "teenager" is a 50s phenomenon that was invented to describe a new transitional phase in a rapidly gentrifying and comfort-based society. It's not a real thing, it's a construct.

Teenagers can still save the world, if they stop believing that they have to wait until they "grow up" to fulfill their dreams. These teenagers are doing it right now: http://archive.causes.msn.com/kids_save_the_world/?section=gallerylong

Never ask a kid what he wants to be when he grows up. Ask him what he wants to be, and show him how he can take steps towards that NOW.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Forget-Me-Not Release Day: Interview with an invisible girl on the run

Do you have any idea how hard it is to create a pocket dimension?

It takes more than a little newt blood and bubble bubble, that's for sure. But the girl I'm about to interview just landed herself in so much bad juju, there's literally nowhere in her world I can pop in for a little Q&A. Anamae's a senior in high school who works part time at a local diner, Joe's, and when you first meet her in the book she's at home with her Dad—but all those places? Totally off-limits and guarded by a mysterious, evil organization called the Collective. She's holed up now in a protected area with an interdimensional shield, if you can believe that, so it's between squishing through that forcefield, or creating a pocket dimension for the interview—and well, if you're given War & Peace to read or twelve 3D Calc problems to solve, which do you choose?

Calculus all the way. Hey, shut up, here she comes.

I rise as Anamae enters the little study, her steps muffled by thick wine-colored carpet. The curious teenager glances around for a second at the mahogany bookshelves covering the walls, and at the two overstuffed burgundy arm-chairs, before shaking my hand.

“Sorry,” I say. “It's not usually this formal. I just like old-fashioned studies. Have a seat! Anything you say isn't real, anything that happens here isn't real, and everything you see is less than a dream to you, so you can, you know, cut loose. Or not! No pressure. I'm a big fan by the way. So.” I grin as we both take a seat—“What's the craziest thing that's happened to you lately?”

“Now that's a loaded question.” She leans in and lowers her voice to a whisper: “The other day when I was having a bit of fun with Will, we found this old pendant and, oh my gosh, it turned me freaking invisible. Can you believe that? I put it on and poof, gone. 

I still can’t believe it. Who knew stuff like that actually existed.”                    

“Apparently you're not supposed to, huh? So, we couldn't meet at your house because of the Collective. But your father's still at home, so what do you think is happening with him?”

“Gosh, it’s so hard to tell,” she sighs. “The whole pendant thing led to a whole slew of trouble. I’m scared that may have caused the weirdness. I don’t know though; there’s something a bit...not right going on.”

She looks stressed—obviously, I mean, who likes saying something's wrong with her dad?—and as guarded as she is I'm not ready for the interview to get stressful yet, so I stand and pull two books off the shelf. “Coffee or tea?” I ask.

“Coffee,” she says, glancing around for a clock. There is none. “Only in the mornings though, I can’t wake up properly without it. Any other time of the day, I prefer water.”

“Is it morning here? Let's pretend it's morning, do you feel morning-ish? I do. Here.” I open the fattest of the two books and from its hollow innards pull out a steaming mug of Colombian roast to hand her. I open the other book for a chai tea and sit back down. “So who do you live with usually, Anamae?”

“I live with my Dad, there’s just the two of us. But after the incident with the invisibility...” she shakes her head. “Sheesh, home’s not all that safe. I’m hiding out at this place Al calls a ‘safe house’.”

My eye sparkles like a fangirl's. “Any potential romance there?”

“Ha! Now there’s a likely story. The dog’s pretty cool,” she winks.

You do know you're in a scifi romance novel, right? I'm laughing inside. “Heh, well I guess you've definitely got bigger things on your mind right now,” I say. “Let's talk about that—what's your dearest dream for the future, Anamae?”

“That somehow my family is reunited. I miss my mom something fierce.” She answers without a droplet of doubt—but then pauses. “There’s not a lot of hope that she’s still alive, but deep inside, I kind of feel like she is.”

“What's your sweetest memory from the past? Is it—about her?”

“I have a few. Mom and I used to visit central park a lot when I was younger. She’d always order a takeout coffee and we’d sit on one the benches talking, or I’d play.”

My tea tastes heartsick for a moment; I put it down. I always want to console my interviewees and don't usually know how, and now I gotta bust out the big one. I force down another sip. “Anamae, what are you most afraid of?”

“Boy, that’s another tough one.” She takes a second to respond, but when she does, she sounds pensive, not tremulous. “I think I’m afraid of being alone. That this thing with my Dad won’t get better, that Mom will never be found, that I’ll lose Will too. Without the people I love, I’m not sure I could go on.”

That's that. Nothing fancy, just quiet honesty and a soft, faraway glance into the coffee mug.

“Wow,” I breathe. “You are by far the calmest person I have ever interviewed. With everything you're going through, I think I call that bravery.”

Her face colors just a tiny bit as she shrugs; I smile and gesture with my cup towards the blue pendant she's wearing. “So you've got the little thing that started the trouble here with you. I wanted to ask: turning invisible is kind of cool, but it's not exactly something you chose—if you could choose one superpower, what would it be?”

“You know, that question is kind of irrelevant considering all the cool tech around. Anyone can be a superhero if you know where and how to find it,” she grins. “Just don’t let the Collective catch you. Yeah, that wouldn’t be very good. All of that aside though, I wouldn’t mind being able to travel through time. There sure are some things I’d do differently.”

Like what?

But she stands and whirls, as if she hears someone calling her name, and before I can ask the bookshelves begin to morph into stardust. I'm not a very good pocket-dimension-maker, apparently: the chairs dissolve into piles of sand, grass shoots out of the carpet, and my tea begins to bubble over out of my cup, and before I can become some kind of Alice-in-Wonderland knock-off I smash my mug on the coffee table to close the dimension. Interview over.

And Anamae's gone, back to the world where she's a criminal for knowing something.

If you want to find out what Anamae would do differently, you'll have to follow her into that world. You can check out her story at Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18130928-forget-me-not), on Amazon and through the Entranced Publishing website. You can follow Anamae's author, Stacey, on twitter, or on Facebook. Anamae is part of a whole series, so you'll probably want to follow her author to find out when the new books come out!

I leave you with one last little tidbit.

Friday, February 14, 2014

What Blog Blitzing Is For--and What It Is NOT For

Hey errybody! You may or may not already know, but writer DL Hammons runs a "blog blitz," where once a week an unsuspecting writer/blogger gets visited by pretty much a hundred-and-something people.

It sounds like a blogger's dream come true, right? So many commenters! And if you happened to write something particularly fabulous the day you're blitzed, you might get new subscribers and followers!

So that's what a lot of people join the blog blitz for--a pretty decent "lottery" chance to get new readers. You can join the blitz here.

But there is a wrong way to blitz.

Every now and then when I participate--which is every now and then--I see blitzers commenting like this:

"Okay, you've been blitzed! Now you must visit the blog of all of us who commented and leave a comment because that's only polite!" I think I literally read a comment that said, "I blitzed you, now you BETTER visit my blog!"

I choose not to paste screenshots here because I don't want to single anyone out. But are you serious? The poor blitzed person may not have time to visit 200 blogs and leave comments on every single one of them. Some people have jobs and kids. More importantly, your comment is irrelevant to their blog post, and therefore, really, it's just spam. Very demanding spam! This isn't about you, it's about the person getting blitzed. Who is not you.

Blog blitzing is way more fun and pleasant if you see it as a way to discover new writing blogs and spread some love.

That's it. Bottom line. If you're in it to win it, you will lose it.

When you blitz, try to find some way to actually interact with the blogger. It can be as simple as the, "Oooh, Thai food is yummy!" I saw one blitzer leave today, or as deep as a discussion on the value of the new NA category. If the blogger writes the same stuff you do, then I could see you directing them to your blog, maybe. As in, "hey, you write about flying cows? Oh man, me too! What's your favorite flying cow?" But see how I finished that with a question, so it's not all about me? So it's more genuine, and less, "aha! Let me just slip right in here and start blarghing about MYSELF!"

If you absolutely can't leave a real comment, maybe you should just limit yourself to Happy Blitz Day. But it's kind of a bummer if that's literally all we can come up with. Aren't we...uh...writers?

Okay, mean lecture over.  I'm not the most consistent participator, and I'm a "happy blitz day" leaver, too, sometimes. But at least we can all agree never, never, never to bully other bloggers into looking at our stuff. Let's please stop being so frikking grown-up and market-y, and let's be more wide-eyed and explorer-y and child-y and just have fun. Come, my children, let us dance in the light of blog exploration and happiness, wherein there be found much chocolate and cookies and delights neverending kind of like how the french fries at Red Robin never end and I love them!

*deep breath*

Sign up for the funsies here.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Why you DON'T want to make your living writing

I know, weird, right? Usually writers dream of making money writing; we drool over all those great e-mails telling you how you can quit your day job and spend forever doing what you want.

But I'm here to tell you maybe you don't want that.

I totally lived that dream, and I'm glad I did—quitting my day-job pushing pills probably did more for my business-sense, faith, and guts than any other experience in my life. Definitely my first choice for a full-time job, if I don't make it in medicine. I didn't get rich, and I didn't get famous, but for almost a year my frantic typing and lots of grace from above provided just fine for my tiny family (me, in-college husband, and hedgehog!). I ghosted four books, tons of articles, and even got my name out there a little bit. One of my ghosted books made it to Amazon best seller's list in its category for a week. (Because it was ghosted you have to ask me privately for my client's permission to prove that, but I totally can if you're curious) Yeah, it was awesome. 

But you know what? I'm a much happier writer now that it's not keeping the air conditioning running. Because--
When writing isn't your bacon and cheese, your rice and kimchee, your bread and butter, you can write:

1. What you want

Sorry, but if you blog for a living, or ghost, or even write news, at some point someone's going to tell you, “I want it like this.” And at some point, unless you have magical mind-control powers, you are going to have to obey. It's the client's blog, it's the client's voice in the book, and it's the client's money. Fortunately, I've worked with some really good clients and editors who listened to me and played a pretty decent back and forth, but I've also worked with folks you can never please, folks who lose your work, and folks who make grammatically-destructive edits (cringe). And even the best clients in the world won't pay you to write your dream novel. They want you to write theirs. That's fine, but if you've got a story to tell, it's frustrating spending all your time telling other people's stories.

It's not much different in fiction-writing, from what I hear. I mean, think about it, if writing brings home the tofurkey, not all the publishing people living off your established werewolf-driven urban fantasy will let you just up and start writing historical fiction. They know people in the new genre might not take you as seriously, and they don't want to risk their incomes because you got some Roman classics on the brain. So you either jeopardize your income stream because your established crew won't publish you, or you keep writing the same lycanthropes until you vomit silver bullets.

Or, if writing's not your main source of sizzling, greasy, life-sustaining bacon, you go ahead and write that historical fiction anyway. You've got time for rejections.

See how much easier that is?

2. When you want

Sure, if you're a writer for a living, you can write all day long. And sometimes all night long. And then you have to spend the next day catching up on networking. And then you realize “networking” became wasting time on twitter and you have to start all over again with five energy shots to pump out 15,000 more words in the next eight hours. And then you have writer's block for a week, and your husband comes back from class in his clothes and you're still dead exhausted in your pjs with drool in your hair, and you know he's wondering if you're all going to starve.

People often underestimate the physical pressure of having to write all the time—and I think people really underestimate how that affects the quality of your work. You get tired. You need to experience life. Living creates new ideas and scenes and expressions for your writing, and without brain stimulation from science and problem-solving and people and struggle, your writing can stagnate fast. Your life is outside your writing. Writing is what you do about it.

So, it's definitely pretty great to set your own schedule for work and everything, but it's also pretty great not to have to. Stealing an hour a day, or half an hour a day, into your own little sanctuary without worrying about deadlines—that's lovely. Freedom from yourself, really, is kind of nice.

3. How you want

The junction between art and writing might get you into museums, but unless you can prove your avant-garde Arizona-tea-labels-glued-to-the-wall will make $$$ it's a no-go for a paid writer. You wanna add a comic strip to your novel? Make a digital hyperlink chase all over the internet? What's new and unique to you looks weird to other people. Not to me—I love it—but it's tough to get money put down on stuff that's not proven itself before, especially during an economic down-turn. 

That's not to discourage you from trying crazy new techniques. Absolutely not. There's Kickstarter, Indiegogo, Youtube—tons of ways to pull in money for your crazy new mind-meld. It's just easier to run that crazy new idea when you know it's not going to put you out on the street.


I am not saying all this to tell you to keep your soul-munching office job. No. Please quit that. A veteran newspaper editor I respect once took the time to tell me a secret: “They want all of you kids to finish college and work for a corporation or the government where you're neatly controlled, like in a commune. But that's not what you're supposed to do. You're all supposed to be graduating to start your own small businesses.” It sounded kind of intense at the time, but you know what? We were meant to be masters of our own lives. Running a farm, or your own little market stall, or hunting and gathering your own food may not sound glamorous to most modern people, but our souls stagnate without risk and opportunity, just like our immune systems attack us without parasites to fight (that's where autoimmune disease and allergies come from). We should be creating and fighting for products and services we believe in and coming up with new ideas, not just taking what's there. Please quit your job and write instead of melting.

But you know what? Maybe writing full-time isn't the risk you're meant to take. Maybe you're meant to be an astronaut or ITC gal or brilliant home-maker or that pizza-guy who arranges peperoni into hearts for people in long-distance relationships. (True story) Maybe you've got something else to add to the world besides the words on your page.

And maybe then you'll always have something to write about.