Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, Jun 29th

I don't even know what to say about this one. What's really stunning is that another bag was found a week earlier.
35 Pounds of Vomit Found in Bag Outside Store

I can't even keep my status updated while I'm doing housework!
Utah Man Updated Facebook Status During Standoff

Hilarious, but don't follow the link if you're squeamish. Just the "test" for pinworms had me saying WTF! Who would really do that?
"Here, honey. You stay up with this roll of duct tape . . . ."
Attack of the Killer Facts: Grossest and Weirdest Facts Ever

Actually, some of these are pretty cool. The eyeball gumballs, bloody brain meat, and psycho shower curtain would make a great gift for the horror fan in your life.
10 of the Most Disgusting Things You Can Actually Buy on Amazon

Latest food craze:
Fried Kool-Aid.
And yes, because I am a fried food connoisseur, I looked up a recipe:
Recipe for Fried Kool-Aid
I haven't tried it yet, but you know I will.

New High-Tech Grocery Store (from CleanJokes4U)
A new super high tech grocery store recently opened in Orlando, Florida. It has the standard automatic water misters to keep the produce fresh, but just before it mists, one hears the distant sound of thunder and the smell of fresh rain. When one passes the diary freezer, you hear cows mooing and experience the scent of fresh mown hay. Going in the meat department one can smell the aroma of charcoal grilled steaks and barbecued ribs. When you pass the fresh eggs case, you hear hens cluck and cackle, and the air is filled with the pleasing aroma of morning eggs and bacon. In the bread department, a tantalizing smell of fresh baked bread and soft warm rolls. But I don't buy my toilet paper there any more.

From @funnyoneliners
They said the baby looked liked me until they turned it right sight up.

From @funnyoneliners & @blobert
I'm not allowed on Disney cruise ships ever since that whole "poop deck" misunderstanding.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Refreshing the Creative Well

Writers need hobbies (besides World of Warcraft and computer solitaire). While it's important to get your butt in the chair and write as well as do a lot of reading, there's more to the writing life than just locking yourself away and tapping at that keyboard endlessly.

We have to get away from the writing every now and then.

We need to do something to refresh the creative well, (or, as I've also heard it put, "a writer will never be any good unless they get out from behind the desk and live"); to free up our creative side for play, or at least let our mind focus on something besides writing (which means that while reading is important and a great hobby, it doesn't really count as "refreshing the well" because we've still got our nose in a book and our head in a story).

In the summer, I go fishing a lot. In the fall and winter, I go hunting (deer, squirrel, or coyote; and hopefully this year, wild turkey). Being outdoors does a great job of "refreshing my spirit" and gives me a lot of story ideas (like the year I caught two fish on one hook).

And while I don't exactly have a green thumb, I do have a plant addiction (No,not smoking them, thank you very much!). I spend a lot of time propagating and planting, indoors and out. I have my yard planted with some of my favorite plants (honeysuckle, hops vine, bleeding hearts, bluebells) and I'm trying a container garden this year (tomatoes and zucchini). Next year, I have space for a real garden all plotted out.

On the more artistic side of things, I like to do bead work and crochet. Yeah. You heard me. Vampires and dismemberment in my stories, doilies on my nightstand. Wanna fight about it? I've been thinking about combining the two and doing some kind of zombie-crochet afghan, but I haven't gotten around to it yet. Or maybe some beaded zombie earrings.  ;)

Whatever hobby I do, I've found that when I step away from the writing, even if for only a few hours, I come back to my writing feeling refreshed and excited about it again. Maybe there's something to that old adage, "absence makes the heart grow fonder."

What do you do to "refresh your creative well?"

Friday, June 24, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, June 24th

I don't know how good the movie is going to be, but you've got to love that tag line:
"A beautiful movie about the end of the world."

Melancholia, the official site

Melancholia on IMDB

From the looks of that first trailer on IMDB, the planet hitting is going to be a mercy killing. All the characters seem miserable and jaded. But this one's going on my "to watch" list.

Looking for a Steampunk Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book? (I used to love choose-your-own-adventure books!)
What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower

A new list of
Free Fiction

The Horror Writers Association has announced the winners of the 2010 Bram Stoker Awards
(Link leads to the SF Signal posting because it includes covers; the HWA decided to go bland with text only)

If you like movies like Zombieland, you have to watch this short (definitely NSFW)
Zombies find true, disgusting love in horrifically delicious film

A little creepy, a little surreal, and a lot weird. I like it.
Rob Zombie Woolite ad
When I was growing up, Woolite was for "your fine washables and lacy delicates" (a euphemism for ladies undergarments), so to me, this commercial said, "Don't trust this guy with your panties."

I've never wanted an iPhone . . . until now.
Deadites Invade Your iPhone in 'Army of Darkness: Defense'

Now . . . go read something creepy.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, Jun 22nd

I've eaten a lot of crappy burgers, but nothing like this!
Meat Made from Poop Hits Japan

Whoever invented this is going to make a fortune! I know a lot of scifi guys who would kill for one of these. It's on the "dream list" right there beside jet pack and flying car.
Chinese Sex Robot
(FYI: the article and accompanying photo are not explicit; the video link mentioned in the article did not appear for me, so I'm not if it is appropriate for all audiences or not; but the article is okay).

Sex Robot? Check! Jetpack? Check! Flying Car? Flying Car? Awwww.
Jet Pack Man Soars Above the Waters

You knew it was coming . . . another story about cremated remains.
Woman Finds Staples, Glass in Dad's Ashes

Funny picture (NSFW)
What Barbed Wire is Really Telling You

Another funny picture
Shoplifter Warning
I need this one for my yard; replace "Shoplifters" with "Trespassers."

A Diagram of Geek Culture

From @ChuckNorriz
Chuck Norris doesn't throw up after a long night of partying, he throws down!

From @funnyoneliners
If you're talking about a creature that just wants to gulp down a huge meal and then sleep all day, then yes, I would call myself a cougar.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Gateway Books

I've been thinking about gateway books.

Gateway books are books that took your reading in a whole new direction. It may have been one of the first "grown-up" books you read, or it may be the book that opened your eyes to a new genre, or the book that inspired you to become a writer.

I have always been an avid reader. By the time I was half-way through fourth grade, I had read almost every book in my school library (small school, only went up to eighth grade). My teacher, tired of my pestering about what to read next, handed me a copy of Watership Down . . . the paperback version . . . about two inches thick with teeny, tiny type. He probably figured it would either be too much for me (thus teaching me a lesson about pestering people), or else I'd love it and transition to "grown-up" books.

I loved it, or course. So much so that I've had a copy of the book on my shelves ever since. And it has become a tradition for me to give it as a gift. I've given copies to all three of my children and I will give my grandchildren copies when they are old enough.

It was my first gateway book.

The next gateway book I had actually forgotten about until a few days ago. I had finished my last batch of books and was going over my "to-be-read" list for the next ones. Nothing was striking my fancy. So I pulled up a few of my secondary lists, one of which was "best apocalyptic fiction." So I jotted down a few titles and picked them up.

One of them, I didn't recognize until I started reading it: Alas, Babylon, by Pat Frank.

By the time I hit seventh grade, I was reading everything I could get my hands on. That year was the first year our classes were split, so, for the first time ever, I had a "Lit" class. Of course I was very excited about it. As it turned out, the teacher was an avid science fiction fan. A big portion of our year was spent reading Bradbury and Asimov and Wells and Verne, and I loved it! It was also the last time that I studied genre fiction in a classroom setting (unfortunately, most of my instructors thereafter turned their noses up at genre work).

But what came flooding back when I picked up Alas Babylon was how much that book impacted me. Back then, I thought about that book constantly. I scribbled a few short stories in imitation of it (lord only knows where those are now). I talked to everyone I knew about it. For most of the school year, I had a mini-obsession with it . . . not as in, "Oh my god, we're all going to die in a nuclear attack," but as in, "this is quite possibly the most interesting fiction I've ever read because there's so much to explore about it, so many possibilities." It was the biggest "What if?" I had ever encountered.

Although I had forgotten the gateway book, I haven't lost the love of  the tremendous "what if" that goes with post-apocalyptic fiction. And whether it's a germ apocalypse, nuclear apocalypse, or zombie apocalypse, it's still my favorite form of fiction.

Re-reading the book was like sitting down with an old friend. Of course, the book is terribly dated now, like when one character laments, "What will we ever do without vaccines and DDT?" LOL. I guess we'll get a bedbug explosion, won't we? ;)

What was your gateway book? Which book launched your love of a genre? Or what book made you want to be a writer?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, Jun 15th

Reminds me of that scene in The Big Lebowski: "Dude! Nice marmot!"
Assault a Case of Mistaken Weasel Identity

When life imitates addictive on-line games:
Angry Birds Dive-Bomb Police

Okay, so last week we had a story about dumb criminals snorting remains. This week, grandma's remains get "misplaced." Maybe I need to change my will (whatever you do, DON'T cremate me)!
Grandma's Urn Left at Goodwill

Awwww! I want a cute, mutant-radioactive bunny!
Alleged Mutated Bunny (Fukushima)

I love the poster for The Shining!

Good mothers let you lick the beaters when they're making a cake. Great mothers turn the mixer off first.

Some of us learn from the mistakes of others. The rest of us have to be the others.

16 Iconic Characters Past Their Prime

Cleaned up, PC version of a joke I heard:

An extremely short cowboy went in to see the doctor.
"Doc," he said, turning red. "I got a real problem here. My . . . huevos . . . they're killing me. I think it's cancer."
Doc said, "Let's take a look." He had the man jump up on the exam table. "Drop your pants."
Doc took a look at first one, then the other, and said, "I think I see the problem."
He grabbed the big scissors. "This won't hurt a bit."
The man squeezed his eyes shut and braced for the pain.
Snip, snip. Snip, snip. "There. How's that feel?"
The short man opened his eyes. "It feels great," he said, relieved. "What did you do?"
"I took two inches off the top of your cowboy boots."

Monday, June 13, 2011

Putting on My Non-Stick Skin . . .

I finally finished the short stories I was working on polishing (including the long-suffering "Sympathy for the Devil") and sent them out into the world. Now it's time to brace myself for the (seemingly endless) waiting and, inevitably, rejection slips.

Rejection is something writer's just have to deal with. Everyone gets them. There's no escaping it. And since I'm just getting back into writing again after a long break, I have to "re-build my thick skin."

Of course, how thick that skin has to be depends on the type of rejection.

They generally fall into three categories:

Form rejection. In that case, I toss the rejection in the trash and send the story out to the next market in my list.

Rejection with comments/explanation. For those, I put on a stiff upper lip and examine the story. All advice and comments have to be taken with a grain of salt, of course. One person's "non-sympathetic character" is another person's hero. For example, an editor once said the little girl in my story didn’t sound like a little girl. Well . . . she really wasn’t supposed to. The story established the little girl as a precocious know-it-all. Her lack of friends meant she spent most of her time with her nose in a book (think Margaret from "Dennis the Menace.”). She had some of the mannerisms and characteristics of a little girl, but of course she didn’t sound like your average little girl--because she wasn’t. The next editor "got it" and thought the little girl was a great character. Another time, I received a rejection from an editor who said I went a little hog-wild with the em-dashes. I re-read the story, smacked myself on the forehead, and said, “How could I not see that?” And then I made the changes. The story was 100% more readable thanks to the comments from that editor!

Rejection by Troll. These are the ones where the editor doesn't just point out the flaws in the story, but adds editorial comments explaining why you're a moron for making the mistake and how you should give up writing immediately because he'd rather read a novel written by pond scum than ever see your name on a submission again. I'm not kidding . . . there are actually editors like this. I've only come across one, thank god, and it was years ago. He picked one of my submissions apart, line by line, with rude comments on every line! It must have taken him hours to come up with all those insults; I've always wanted an editor to spend hours pouring over my submission . . . just not in that way! As I said, I don’t mind constructive criticism (actually, I WANT constructive criticism; please, critique me, and help me be better) . . . but this editor was mocking and derisive. Constructive Criticism, yes; Rude and obnoxious, no thanks.

I’ve seen this from lists of “rejections famous people got,” too. Comments like, “Should give up writing immediately” and “Not interested in the blatherings of an idiot lunatic.” Really? Who says that kind of crap? You can check out this link (Rotten Rejections) for some other examples of rejections (some quite rude) received by writers who went on to be famous.

You have to wonder if the rude editors have been locked in a little room reading manuscripts for too long. I’m a big girl and I don’t need anyone to hold my hand or to sugarcoat things for me, but being derisive and insulting is crossing the line. Of course, the writers had the last laugh, as they went on to become famous and award-winning. Thank god they didn’t let those editors get them down or kill their dream.

And that’s really the thing to take away from rejection. Everyone gets rejected, even the writers we admire. That little slip you'll get saying, "This wasn't right for us" seems like a joyous affirmation compared to the "There certainly isn't enough genuine talent for us to take notice" rejection Sylvia Plath received!

So keep going. Don't give up. Take advice from your "good" rejections. Keep learning the craft and growing as a writer. Then you can enjoy the satisfaction of proving the troll-editors wrong!

And if you get a troll-style rejection that really burns your butt and you can't seem to let go of it, do what I do: write your own rejection, rejecting their rejection! For the love of all that's holy, though, DON'T SEND IT! (never, NEVER send an editor a rebuttal; when it comes to comments from an editor, your position should always be to take your spanking and say, "Thank you sir. May I have another?"). Telling them what a moronic troll they are for not recognizing your greatness can be very cathartic, but then delete it or throw it away. And move on.

~ ~ ~

Links for Writers

Scrooge: A Character Study (nine steps to building a character)

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, Jun 8th

One stop shopping: weed and then a sub to take care of the munchies afterwards.
Subway Employee Sold Weed With Foot Longs

Someone order up a round of eye exams for these folks.
Fearsome Lawn Ornament Shot by Police

Man Snorts Dog

This one isn't so much a news story . . . take a look at this guy's arrest photo. Is that supposed to be intimidating, or did they do the cavity search while they were taking his photos?
Arrest Photo

5 Reasons You Secretly Want a Zombie Apocalypse

Who remembers when a journey of a thousand miles began with Dad saying, "I know a shortcut."?

Chuck Norris destroyed the periodic table because Chuck Norris only recognizes the element of surprise.

God was missing for six days. Eventually, Michael, the archangel, found him, resting on the seventh day. He inquired of God. "Where have you been?"
God sighed a deep sigh of satisfaction, and proudly pointed downwards through the clouds, "Look, Michael. Look what I've made."
Archangel Michael looked puzzled, and said, "What is it?"
"It's a planet," replied God, "and I've put Life on it. I'm going to call it Earth and it's going to be a great place of balance."
"Balance?" inquired Michael, still confused.
God explained, pointing to different parts of earth. "For example, northern Europe will be a place of great opportunity and wealth, while southern Europe is going to be poor. Over there I've placed a continent of white people, and over there is a continent of black people. Balance in all things," God continued pointing to different countries. "This one will be extremely hot, while this one will be very cold and covered in ice."
The Archangel, impressed by God's work, then pointed to a land area and said, "What's that one?"
"Ah," said God "That's Washington State, the most glorious place on earth. There are beautiful mountains, rivers and streams, lakes, forests, hills, plains, and coulees. The people from Washington State are going to be handsome, modest, intelligent, and humorous, and they are going to be found traveling the world. They will be extremely sociable, hardworking, high achieving, and they will be known throughout the world as diplomats, and carriers of peace."
Michael gasped in wonder and admiration, but then proclaimed, "What about balance, God? You said there would be balance."
God smiled, "There is another Washington...wait until you see the idiots I put there."

Monday, June 6, 2011

May Wrap-Up / June Plans

I had a fantabulous weekend of fishing. We had to seek out new fishing holes because our old ones were all under water (the lake has been going up at least a foot every year). We did some exploring and found a couple of new hot spots. We did catch and release and I'm pretty sure we caught over 20 fish between us (hubby and I). He was like a kid at the amusement park: "Five more minutes. Let's stay five more minutes." The weather was perfect, the fish were biting like crazy, the birds were singing . . . it was a great day.

Of course, there's always a little good with the bad. Six hours in the sun left me red as a lobster, and I caught almost as many wood ticks as I did fish. Next time, I can't forget my sunscreen and tick repellent.

The weekend was great, but now it's time to get back to work.

The May wrap-up/June plan of attack

I finished Story-A-Day May! My goal was twenty-two new short stories, and I missed the mark by only one story. Even better, some of the short stories are actually pretty good, lol, and I plan on eventually revising/polishing them and sending them out into the world. And a couple of the stories have such depth and potential that I could easily turn them into a novel . . . maybe.

I sent one of my reprints back out into the world in May to see if I can find it a new home.

I finished a polished another half-done short story that had been sitting around. Hopefully it finds a home, too.

This week, I've set myself a do or die goal of FINALLY getting the much-neglected short, "Sympathy for the Devil" polished and sent out into the world. I started it just before I started on novel-revision, so the poor thing has been cast aside (but not forgotten). I'm going to get it finished and submitted.

Once the short is out into the world, then I can begin the next revision on my "Macha" novel. This one will be Draft #3. Hopefully, I worked out some of the biggest kinks in Draft #2 and this draft won't take as long (knock on wood).

And, if there's any time left over, I have two other shorts I want to work on for mid-July deadlines. One is a new short I'll be drafting from scratch, the other an unfinished short I'll finish and polish up. I hope I can do it, but I'm listing them in the "I'd like to get these done, but I'm just not sure if the miracle can happen" pile.

Links for Writers

Five Common Writing Problems and How to Fix Them

Need Some Bling for Your Title? Try a Prism

How to Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps

50 Useful Blogs for Writers

A Cautionary Comic for Writers

Friday, June 3, 2011

Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi: Spec-Fic Friday, June 3rd

Get Your Geek On: Summer Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Two Major Sci-Fi Blockbusters Lose Their Directors

18 Sci-Fi Drunk Scenes That Are Funnier Than Anything You'll See in Hangover 2

Sigh. New York City AND Dark Shadows AND (maybe) Johnny Depp? A dream vacation for sure.
2011 Dark Shadows Festival in New York City

I just can't get past that's it's not set on Mars this time . . .
Total Recall Reboot Gets Kate & Jessica

I read a headline about how the X-Men First Class director added a love song to the movie to attract women. I skipped that headline and moved onto this one:
How Torchwood Plans to Gross Us Out by Going All Walking Dead
Obviously, I'm not in the "women" group that the X-Men director is targeting. Pass on love songs/love scenes, jump on "gross us out" . . . that's me.
And I wish I had Starz channel so I could see "Torchwood."

I would love to see another Riddick film. Pitch Black had an interesting premise and a sharp, indie feel to it; Chronicles of Riddick was delicious eye-candy with a gothic, epic feel and Macbeth-style plot. I'd love to see what they plan next.
Diesel Not So "Fast" to Make Another Riddick Film

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Comic Relief & Weird News, Jun 1st

Oh, the irony!
Dairy Promoting Princess Lactose Intolerant

This report leaves too many unanswered questions:
No foul play expected? Really?
Okay, so how did she fall in?
What killed her?
Who stores their food in underground barrels in their backyard?
Woman Found Dead in Backyard Barrel

This little old lady bit the dentist, then climbed over the receptionist's desk and tried to shimmy out the window . . . and she was afraid the dentist was going to hurt HER?
I'm scared of this little old lady! Who is she, the little old lady from the movie Legion?
Elderly Woman, Dentist Fight Over Dentures

This . . . sounds . . . too crazy to be true. Do you suppose it was really an accident, or did some of his buddies bet him $50 bucks . . .?
Trucker Blows Up Like a Balloon After Falling on Air Hose

If We Used Animals Like the Flintstones

The 15 Stupidest Products of All Time

When the Boogeyman goes to sleep, he checks his closet for Chuck Norris.

From @funnyoneliners
You know you're getting old when the bank sends your free calendar one month at a time.

From @funnyoneliners
If you leave alphabet soup on the stove unattended, it could spell disaster.