Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bewildered. Just. Bewildered.

Actually, I shouldn't claim to be the one bewildered. 

That honor belongs to all the people who go to Book Butchers, allegedly read the site's information thoroughly, and then send notes through that say things like this:

"Need some details on complete services for editing and publishing."

I am curious. I have a book that is approx. 200,000 words. I have done the math and it looks like it would be really expensive. I am hopping my math is wrong. If you could give me a rough estimate, that would be wonderful."

Are they unable to read the very clear, very spelled-out parameters of this service...or are they simply hoping (or maybe hopping...that's a visual that's worth consideration) that despite those very clear, very spelled-out parameters, THEY'RE somehow going to work around them and get a "deal"?

The prices, the terms, and what you get for your money are very clearly delineated. And actually--it must be said--that even if you pay the lowest rate on this site, you get a TON of good work for the price. Not only is this Book Butchers' philosophy, but it also happens to be the way most editors (myself included) work: we can't help ourselves. We always give you more help than, technically, you're probably paying for.

But every day, we still get inquiries like the above, which--it also must be said--strike me as disingenuous at least.

People, if you can't understand the written English text on this site, get someone who DOES understand it to help you.

If, however, you understand it perfectly well but just want to be treated as the special snowflake you no doubt ARE...

You bewilder me. You simply do.
And a bewildered editor, by and large, doesn't tend to be a happy one.

Just sayin'. 


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Thankful, Thankful, and More Thankful

Thank GOD for the electoral college.

And thank GOD they remembered their legal responsibilities and performed them.

Well done, all. THANK YOU from the bottom of this conservative's heart. :-)


Monday, December 19, 2016

Liberal Math

Only in the weird, "common core" mind of a liberal can an electoral total over 300 be a mandate when it's for Obama...and a mistake when it's for Trump.

Give it up, kiddies. Your pathos is showing.


Friday, November 18, 2016

What He Said.

Why I am an entrepreneur at heart:

(Which is good, considering the lack of people pounding down my door to hire me!)

Time to up the income scale...

Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give a Sh*t

You know, sometimes you dodge a bullet.

A potential client on Upwork had a business book he wanted editing on...about how to keep Millennials happy in your workplace.

You know. How to keep a raft of recent college graduates endlessly entertained, affirmed, praised, and rewarded for basically not PRODUCING anything yet...but they will. Oh, boy! They will! Just ask them about what they're gonna do for you... long as you can keep them engaged with your enterprise for long enough.

While I understand that this, unfortunately, IS the work force that many companies are facing--I found myself reading this guy's tips on how to keep these kids on board, and thinking, "Why in the world do you want to work so hard KEEPING these prima donnas? That's just enabling a delusion at your company's expense."

And that's what it is, ladies and gentlemen. 
In the mental-health and recovery professions, we call aiding and abetting someone in their illness "enabling" them. You clean up the drunk's messes, you call and make excuses for the drug-addict kid, you coddle and protect and shield, because obviously, they're only screwing up their lives and the lives of everyone around them because they were Underloved In Some Important Way and We Have To Make Up To Them For It.


Mental illness is an illness. It needs cauterizing and treatment, not coddling. Yes, it hurts. Lots of things do. But the light at the end of the tunnel is worth going through the healing process to get to.
Drug and alcohol abuse is an illness, but it's also a behavioral DECISION. (At some point or other, you take that first drink or you smoke that first weed. Yes, YOU do it. No one forces you to.) And it needs correction, not cooperation. Accountability, not accommodation. 

Same goes for the mental illness rampant in the Millennial generation's members who believe the world owes them a living, full-blown, luxurious, and debt-free, FROM DAY ONE.
And yes, they'd like it on a scale better than Mom and Dad's, too, thanks. 
Um. No.

If you're sitting behind your desk at the factory wondering how you're going to keep kids like THIS employed at your firm...stop wasting your time and energy.
Because it IS a waste. And worse, it's contributing to the perpetuation of a mental illness.
It's called being delusional.
And the sooner you can STOP catering to it, the sooner it'll get cured.

But if you maintain that you somehow have to change the way YOU do business so that these kids will be motivated to stick around?
Um. No.
Trust me. They won't. The moment someone dares to shatter their "safe place" or fails to reward their special uniquenesses, they'll walk anyway.

Which is where the title of this post comes from. Because, frankly, you shouldn't care if they do. There are plenty of other able and willing hands out there to take their places.

Don't kowtow, wheedle, or try to appease these spoiled specimens. Set them free. You'll be doing them a service.
You'll be enabling them to discover that $7 an hour jobs are plentiful out there for people with no other options, as well as realizing that eating and indoor living cost OTHER people are willing to sacrifice and work hard to get.

Between those two insights, they might come to their senses and understand, finally, that it's not up to The World to cater to THEM...but the other way around.
And THEN, they might be staff members worth keeping. Because they'll actually understand that they need to show up, and be on time, and keep their mouths shut, and learn a few things, BEFORE they'll get that corner office.

Then, you'll have great people to work with.
But until then, please, stop bending over and inviting these special little snowflakes to kick you again.
It's not doing any of us ANY favors.
And that behavior certainly doesn't deserve an owner's manual to encourage ANYONE to perpetuate it.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Why I Left Facebook (which may or may not actually END UP on Facebook!)

Two Months Away from Facebook….

What are the results?

It was two months ago, to the day, that I decided I’d had enough of Facebook. I’d had enough of the political sensationalizing, the absolute absence of manners--or even common sense, politeness, and decency--shown by the VAST majority of people who interacted with me and others, and I’d had enough of the time-drain that Facebook becomes when you check in to it more than once a day or so. And, let’s face it…most of us check in on it WAY more than once a day.  (!) After realizing that I was arguing senselessly with strangers--or with people who may as well have been strangers, for all the attention and courtesy they paid me--I decided Facebook was a bad, bad joke on most of us, but especially on me.

And I left.

What did I miss?

I missed connecting with people with whom I have little in common EXCEPT Facebook friendship, but whom I still consider friends. These people, I’ve encouraged to contact me independently via e-mail. Out of the invitations I issued, I got a couple of responses, most of which urged me to come back because they appreciated my insights and status updates. But it was sharing my insights that got me abused, harassed, and yelled at in the first place…so frankly, I’m in no hurry to go back for more of that. The rest of the people I invited to contact me didn’t bother. I understand we’re all busy, so there’s no indictment there…but it WAS discouraging to realize that I could drop out of sight with so little impact on people who claimed to be friends.

I missed a ton of book promotional “opportunities,” most of which go to the same half-dozen or dozen people repeatedly--and most of which, it MUST be said (and said and said), do no good whatsoever. Have I seen any sales from Facebook? I doubt it. Have I seen a marked uptick of sales at all, on anything I’ve written, despite repeated and faithful updates on the books and on different promotional sites? Not a bit. So, unfortunately, for me and for TONS of other folks out there, Facebook promotion is, quite frankly, a waste of time.

In that vein, I also missed a ton of book promotional info from complete strangers whose books I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole. No offense to anyone being creative out there; I understand MY books aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, either. But when I see 10 or 20 soft-core porn books being promoted to every 1 book I might actually read and enjoy, it gets a little tiresome spending time “ignoring” a bunch of this stuff just to get to something that might actually provide me honest entertainment. Have I discovered a few new authors through FB? Yes. Would I have discovered them through other sources? Without a DOUBT, yes. I regularly scan Amazon listings for all sorts of categories, and that’s much more of how I’ve discovered some delightful things.

So is the advice we’re all given, and given, and given, about being “present” on social media all the time, valid? In my case? Nope.  

More importantly, it may not actually be a good idea AT ALL for some of us. Ditto for Twitter, or any other media form out there. Unless we’re a thoroughly participating member of all that is cool, hip, politically correct, and culturally approved today--and those parameters are getting narrower and narrower, belying ANY claims to the contrary--Facebook and other social media aren’t worth the potential damage they can do to our tempers, our peace of mind, and very real tangible assets.

I’m not culturally correct. I’m not politically correct. I was born without the tact gene, I’m a natural contrarian, and my B.S. detector has been working so hard of late that it’s in need of A Week at the Home. I am constitutionally unable to resist jumping into some arguments; hard as I try, when I see my faith being bashed, my principles being trod underfoot, or sheer stupidity passed off as scholarship and proceeding to lead TONS of people off into Neverland, I find it almost impossible to resist engaging.

And therein lies a double-edged sword.

If I do, I’m not only wasting time that could be better spent doing something else; I’m also laying myself bare for potential damage, either emotionally or in terms of very real things like book sales and potential writing gigs. That’s why they all tell us, “Watch out what you put on social media; it’s out there forever, and people will judge you on it.”

To which I say a profound and deliberate raspberry.

If you’re going to take my beliefs and trample them underfoot, and then get mad when I defend them…that says something about YOU, not about ME.
If you’re going to harass me for my political stances, my world views, or my moral compass…again, that says far more about YOU than it does about ME.
And if you’re going to refuse to read my fiction because you don’t like my opinion on something? See above.
Unfortunately, in the Wild West atmosphere of social platforms, no one--and I mean NO ONE--takes such responsibility to heart.

It’s a basic rule of human nature, especially online, that we’re way more ready to believe the bad about someone than the good; we’re all prone to operate under the old adage, “If you haven’t got anything good to say about someone…SIT NEXT TO ME.”  And all it takes is one person deliberately misinterpreting something I say (and yes, they’ve done it) to go viral, and the damage can have ripple effects that I have no way to refute or counteract.

No cloud-based medium should ever have that much power. But it does. And thus, it comprises a potential hazard that anyone with an opinion uses at his/her peril.

Because yes, you’re not going to please all of the people all of the time. But this goes way beyond that.
On Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media, all it takes is one loudmouth to make sure you never get the chance to even INTERACT with thousands or millions of others. There is no “verification of sources” check or balance here; its vast majority of participants’ idea of engaging in conversation seems to consist of, “What I say is true because I FEEL it. If you don’t agree, you’re a hater and a hateful person, and I will smear you every chance I get.”

THAT downside goes way beyond getting my dander up. That downside isn’t a healthy place to be…I suspect for many, if not most, of us.

Can social media be a valuable thing? Yes, if it’s truly social--and not just a graffiti board for people with foul mouths and even fouler minds. Unfortunately, it’s way more the latter than the former.  For me, that’s neither a place I want to spend time in nor a place that’s good for me. I’m a firm believer in “garbage in, garbage out,” and I didn’t like the person I was becoming from the many tangles I’ve gotten into on so-called “social” media, either.

Some of us just aren’t born to BE social, I guess.  At least not in this artificial, electronic way.

Which is why, after two months, I will probably stay gone.

With one notable exception:

I DID miss connecting with the Facebook Write-a-Thon group. Because it was supportive--and more than a little instrumental in getting at least one book done and another one generously written on already. Of course, I wrote regularly for a ton of years before Facebook came along, so I could more than likely do it again. But the competitive spirit of the sprints, and the cheerleading that goes on for each other? If I do stop in at Facebook AT ALL, it will be for this. And nothing else.  

For those of you who actually did miss me but don’t know where to find me--let me know that through a PM on Facebook. I haven’t permanently deleted the account yet, so I will get the message, and I can give you an e-mail address we can use to share all the wonderful stuff we need to share. OR, better yet, just comment here with contact info, and I'll get in touch with you!

As for the rest of it…leaving something behind has rarely ever felt so good.
Going further into Luddite-ville also appears more and more appealing by the day.

Have fun, all! But keep the bandages handy, nonetheless. Hang around the electronic street corners long enough and you’re bound to need them sooner or later.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

You'll Forgive Me...

...if I'm somewhat skeptical about your publishing credentials when you use words like "anyways" when you mean "anyway," or "setup" (which is a noun, by the way) when you mean "set up" (the verb)...or when you say, "Every author should have their book professionally edited."

Trust me. When a professional editor reads your blog, with each instance like this she becomes less convinced that you know what you're doing. And when she counts all these (and misplaced modifying phrases and lack of needed hyphens, among other things) IN THE SAME BLOG POST...

That, boys and girls, is what we call "Publishing FAIL."

It's a shame 99.9999999999 percent of the sites out there do these errors, and more, yet want me to believe they're giving me competent publishing advice.

Do yourselves a favor, people.
Edit your own damn WEBSITES correctly first.
Then, I might start believing you. 

Want the down-and-dirty on who the guilty party is THIS time? Check the post labels. (heh heh)


Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Does Anybody Actually Work Anymore?

OK, you may think I'm being a little facetious here...
But as a freelancer, I notice things like big influxes of job listings, or big SLOWDOWNS in activity. And patterns in same.

Awhile back, I posted on social media about how things seemed to "shut down" about noon on Thursdays. From a fairly brisk pace beforehand, it seemed like clients were getting ready to power down for the weekend...shall we say...rather early. I'd see regular traffic, and then it would get sparser and sparser, bit by bit, as Thursday afternoon edged toward Thursday evening.

NOW, however, the ebb is starting on WEDNESDAYS.

And this week...I'm starting to wonder if anyone's working at all in any offices, anywhere, during the month of August. Because things have gone from fairly respectable streaming to a trickle to, now, a DRIP.

(This is not a comment on the quality...merely the quantity. :-) )

So there must be a secret I don't know about as to how people are paying their bills when they increasingly DON'T DO A LICK OF WORK PAST LUNCHTIME ON TUESDAY.

Could someone fill me in, please?

I need a job that pays like that!


Thursday, June 23, 2016

I Know It's Breaking All The Rules...and Going Against (What Could Sound Like) Good Advice...

...but I can't be anything other than what I am. Which is, FIRST, a Catholic.
All the other terminology, including "writer," comes second to that.
And I'm very public and very unapologetic about it.

When you're searching for clients, hoping to put work together, and trying to do things that "don't offend" people, you don't take stands like I take.
Some folks will come right out and tell me this is career suicide.

And they could be right.

On the other hand, ETERNAL suicide is not something I'm interested in courting. So if it comes down to a choice, guess which way I'm going to choose?

If there are any employers or potential clients out there who are put off by a public stand...
...who don't agree with what I say, believe, and profess...
...and who won't hire me because of it...
...yes, that may cost me a few bucks.

But what it'll cost YOU could be far more.
So I "yam what I yam," and that's not going away.

Just so's we're clear. :-)

Onward and upward,

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

How to Shoot Your Credibility to Hell in 3...2...

Yet another wonderful (!) encounter with Clueless Movie Script Writers.

Was watching a Lifetime movie the other day called YOU MAY NOW KILL THE BRIDE. Now, before you crucify me for watching Lifetime movies at all, it must be said--some of them aren't bad. True, some of them tend to be a bit predictable, a bit too angsty, or a bit too soap-oper-y to be realistic--but, on the other hand, there's nothing like a tall glass of wine and a good escapist movie to relax with after spending a day at the keyboard, wrestling with a cat, and lifting 160 pounds in the gym. 


So...I'm watching this. It's creepy. Psychotic chick, has a crush on her stepbrother to the point where she literally destroys all his relationships. Even killed a former fiance on the wedding day. And she plans to kill the latest one, too. Worms her way into the wedding, sabotages pretty much everything, then threatens bride and groom to be with a knife, gets hauled away because she's Off Her Meds, etc.

Fast forward to happy wedding day, except, of course, it isn't...because somehow, Ms. Psycho is OUT of the hospital now and has managed to hide herself in the bridal chamber, where she's going to kill the bride. Puts the bride underwater, dresses in a wedding gown, shows up in front of the preacher, etc. Of course, the bride manages to live through it all, as does her groom, even though Ms. Psycho actually stabs HIM in the course of the struggle. And somehow manages not to drown in a bathtub, even though the bride holds her underwater for something like 2 minutes while said bride is fighting to get the psycho's hands off her throat.

This is AFTER Ms. Psycho has also attempted to murder the maid of honor, by the way. 
Yeah. Chickie has issues.

OK, so...eventually newlywed Bride and Groom go to visit Psycho Sister in the Psych ward. It's not clear whether this is regular hospital that she's just in a psych wing of, or if it's an actual locked treatment center, but the net result is portrayed about the same. She's there in her little hospital pajamas with the elastic waist and no strings, ties, hard objects, sharp objects, or other contraband. She apologizes, they tell her they've heard she's made "great progress," and they give her a wedding picture that she asks for so she can "face what's real."

Only the wedding picture is in a wooden frame.
She takes it, tells them how lovely it is, and they let her hold it.
The attendant then comes and tells them it's time to go.
And Psycho Sister KEEPS THE PICTURE.

Of course, the minute they're out of sight, Psycho Sister drops the picture on the floor, shattering the glass. Which she then proceeds to pick up and shred the picture with...all with no one intercepting, observing, or intervening. And at the end, of course, she has that evil little crazy smile on her face, and she's ripped everyone out of the picture but the bridegroom, chanting, "he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me..."

Now, it makes a great final scene. EXCEPT IT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN THAT WAY.
In what alternate universe, first of all, is a mental patient in the hospital allowed a picture frame with GLASS in it and WOOD with sharp corners?
In what alternate universe, second of all, does the attendant see her clutching the picture and not take it away?
In what alternate universe, as well, are people walking around proceeding as normal a little distance away, while she drops this in the hallway, breaking it, then sits down next to it and starts picking up glass IN THE CORRIDOR OF A MENTAL UNIT?

Apparently, this happens in the Lifetime universe.
I promise you, it won't happen in any mental ward I've ever encountered.
Or if it does, someone's head will roll, swiftly and with no second chances.

There are so many things wrong with that scene that it destroys the credibility of the entire rest of the movie. Which, as these kinds of thrillers go, wasn't bad. True, there was a bit of suspension of disbelief involved, and more than a little muttering at the TV saying, "Oh, come ON. No. You don't owe her an apology. She's a psycho. Listen to your maid of honor."

...and such things.

But, hey, clearly Lifetime decided it needed High Chilling Drama at the end...and what's creepier than realizing Psycho Sister's been faking everybody out and she's going to get out eventually...and probably make good on her intentions? Yeah, leave everybody horrified. Great touch! Wow! Wonderful!

Um. No. Not when it depends on absolute STUPIDITY in order to be created.
Sorry, Lifetime. Not in THIS Lifetime.

This, folks, is why you do your research.
And if you can't write that scene that way, you think of an even better one that is actually realistic.
That is, if you're not too lazy.
Or if you don't underestimate the intelligence of your viewers so much that you figure they'll never know the difference.

Which could also be construed as an interesting bit of sexism, considering that Lifetime's always sold itself as "television for women."
Your target audience is that stupid, is it?



Saturday, May 28, 2016

THIS Is Why You Need (GOOD) Editors, People

Is it just me, or does NO ONE know how to use the language anymore?
Facebook is rife with memes talking about all the misuses of things like THEY'RE, THEIR, and THERE. Not to mention all the funny poems about how English spelling versus pronunciation is inconsistent, to say the least. :-)

But there's one usage I haven't seen much said about: POUR versus PORE.

Probably for good reason...because NO ONE seems to know how to use the words right.

Quick reference guide:

Unless you've got a pitcher tipped, a container ready to be emptied, or a bucket of sand that needs to be added to a castle, you're not POURING over a document. You're PORING over it. 
Yes, there's a difference. And yes, it does matter.

Next time I see a published book with the heroine "pouring" over a book, a document, a letter, or other thing she's obviously reading and examining, I'm going to quote the dang thing on Facebook, identify the ignorant author, and ask which liquid or solid her character dumped on her reading material.

This is why you need editors who actually understand the English language, people. 

Unfortunately, most of you who DO need this won't ever read this post.



Thursday, May 26, 2016

Removing My Ladder from the Wrong Building

Came to an interesting conclusion last night, with a finality to it I haven't had before.

Much as I would love to write sweet romances, I'm going to quit trying to do it. 

Not because I "can't write" them--after all, I won a Golden Heart for one. <3 But it's as if the "window" for those books was only open for me during a limited time period, and that window has now shut.

This is not a bad thing. It's just as valuable to discover what you're  not as "good" at as it is to discover what your strength is.

I came to this conclusion after working on some stuff last night during sprint--a sprint that was very profitable in that I was able to crank out a whole bunch of words picking up where I left off, to see if there was "anything there." Reading through the remaining old material, however, I found myself thinking, "This is nice, but do I really want to go anywhere with it?"

I discovered that while I probably could go somewhere with it...I no longer really wanted to. And I could even see in that material how, to some extent, my heart wasn't in it...even though at the time I thought myself totally invested and enthused.

Just shows to go ya, you can fool even yourself sometimes. 

However, give me a neato psychopath, an innocent in his/her way, a reason for someone to get killed (or very nearly), and some romantic sparks flying all around it...I'm there. 

That's where I'll be from now on.

Yours for staying up past our bedtimes reading "just one more page"...


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The First Toe-Dip in the Lake...

...was, indeed, as cold as I expected.

But I suspect future dips will start to feel REALLY good when it gets hot outside!

In the meantime, here's the view from my office window:

Yeah, I'm a brat. :-)

More to come,

Monday, May 23, 2016

A Pitching Parable

Here it is, Saturday morning, when someone comes on Facebook talking about Kensington's Lyrical Press line looking for thrillers and suspense. (!) Naturally, with CALLIE'S ANGEL sitting right there on my computer ready to find a home, I jump all over this.

Which then begins an interesting comedy of errors.

1. It seems the author who recommended her editor also admits her editor has moved from New York to Seattle. Which means that her editor is now a freelancer. Or something like it.

2. Of course, that also means her editor's not listed with the "normal" editors on the Kensington page anymore...

3. ...except that--wait, wait!--she actually IS on one of their pages as an assistant editor...

4. Which sets up an interesting dilemma when Author Who Is Ready To Pounce On This attempts to send an e-mail to said editor, and it bounces back.

5. The editor the aforementioned recommending author is NOW with (having been moved along in the process), however, is still WITH the company.

6. So Pouncing Author says, "I'm going for it"....

7. ...only to forget to take the OTHER editor's name out of the salutation on the e-mail. So I've got a "Dear Ms. F" when I'm actually pitching "Dear Mr. S."

8....prompting said Pouncing Author to follow up immediately with a short e-mail note saying, "I really do know what I'm doing, honest."

9. Which should be a cautionary tale to all of you out there: if you're going to recommend someone pitch your editor, GIVE HER E-MAIL ADDRESS in your post.  Don't say, "PM me for the e-mail address," and then fail to answer the PM. If it's NOT okay with your editor to do this without asking her, don't talk about the recommendation until you've got that okay. If you get flooded with PMs asking for that editor's e-mail address, answer them. Yes, ALL of them. You asked people to contact you, after all. Don't leave them hanging afterward.

10. With the actual e-mail address of this apparently now freelance editor, I could have saved myself a whole lot of grief, including saving myself looking like an idiot to an actual editor at a place that claims to want books like I write.

11. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I could wonder if this author deliberately set people up to fail, masking it as enthusiasm and "spreading good news." I really am not. A conspiracy theorist. Much. Well, okay, hardly ever.

I'm going to go change my aluminum-foil hat now. And hope that "Mr. S" has a sense of humor.


Thursday, May 05, 2016

Friday, April 29, 2016

A little meatless feast for your Friday....

Since we're getting ourselves back into the habit of the Friday abstinence, this caught my eye...being peanut butter and all. :-) Yet again, Michael hits one out of the park!

Have a wonderful weekend, all!

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Try to Leave Out the Parts People Skip."

The above is a quote from mystery writer Elmore Leonard, one I always got a kick out of. How do you know which parts people are going to skip? 

Well, I've gotten a partial answer on it.
I'm presently editing a nice book from a client about athletes, some of whom are from ages long past; setting the background for these people does entail a bit of history. However, I've discovered there's a certain amount of history that lends itself well to background...and a certain amount more that glazes me over.

And I like history. So that should tell you something.

What it tells me is that there are parts that should be edited out--the parts people will "skip over." I've never seen something illustrate this idea quite so clearly, and I know my author will have the final say on what stays and what goes...but it's still interesting to encounter, first-hand, an actual piece of manuscript that "shows" you rather than "telling" you, in a manner of speaking.

The trick, however, still is trying to get rid of this stuff before it's written and has to be edited out! 
If I have any insights on what that might look like, you'll hear it here first.
Trust me.
In the meantime...keep calm and write your a** off! Because you can't have something to edit until something is there on the page, or screen, in the first place.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Insights Into the Catholic Writer Chick's Little Brain?

When it comes to matters of the Faith, here's a good start:

If you're a Catholic who's wondering why church doesn't seem important, relevant, or purposeful...

If you're a non-Catholic who's wondering what real Church teaching is all about...
If you're starving for some good old-fashioned truth-telling...

Check this guy out. He's been fighting the good fight for a long, LONG time.

And he's especially encouraging and/or strengthening to listen to during Lent and Holy Week, a Holy Week I am afraid will be anything BUT Holy in the confines of the church that is, unfortunately, our local parish.

Take a listen or two and learn good stuff.


Sunday, March 20, 2016

...And the Tweaks Continue

...Have sent CALLIE'S ANGEL out to both my critique partner and a beta reader. 
Now the nervewracking part begins. Or at least the FIRST nervewracking part. 
You know. The one BEFORE you send it out to the Gatekeepers.

I've already gone from, "Man, this is a great story" to "Who in hell is going to want to read this?" 

Writers will recognize this syndrome instantly. And they will also recognize how fast it happens. (!)

Usually, if the writer has done her job somewhat right...she'll swing back toward "Man, this is a great story" again. At least she can get as far as, "OK, not bad. Maybe even good."

Then the comments will come back, and she'll need chocolate.

Hopefully, that will coincide with when the CWC can actually HAVE chocolate again...AFTER Lent is over.

One more week...(ayeeee)



Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Callie's Angel...Almost Ready to Fly!

Well, the graphic on the side may have been  a little "off" that CALLIE'S ANGEL, my first new work in YEARS, may not come in at the original projected word count of 90K. (!) It's at 79,770 or so right now, pending revisions--but the first draft is DONE. THE END has been typed, which means first draft is now on the screen, ready for tweaking.

The hard part now is sitting back and NOT being in a hurry to get it submitted anywhere, because there will be changes that an author only discerns and is able to make AFTER the initial smoke clears and you get a better idea what you've created, where it's lacking, or where it needs cutting down.

Still, it's a hoot and a half to have something, finally, ALL NEW in the hopper, just ready to be polished into pristine shape and sent out there, hopefully to snag a contract with some kind of REAL money attached to it.

I, like all writers, live in perpetual hope.

More to come!



Monday, March 14, 2016

....And No One Can Write Romantic Comedy, Either.

I know that writing "funny" is anything but easy. I've done it at times, but being a full-time comedic writer? That's a grind and a half for many reasons. So I "get" that people may not know how to write comedy that's truly laugh-out-loud funny.
But when you're writing rom-com, there's still a romance to consider, too. And the writers I've encountered over the past several days--with a few notable exceptions that can be counted on the fingers of one hand--can't do that, either.

What is it about romance now that eludes so many writers? 
Don't get me wrong: it's not like I'm encountering sex scene after sex scene masquerading as "romance." (You only get that nonsense in places like RWA. And, yes, you can quote me on that.) I'm talking about a romantic deficit that seems to think that one kiss is a relationship...or one flirtation...or one bickering "conflict." 
In other words, yeah, I'm seeing a lot of beginner mistakes in these stories. 
But it's kind of sad that they're not the same kind of beginner mistakes that I, and so many of my now-published colleagues, made in our early attempts to write love stories, either.

We tended to err on the side of "they're getting along way too famously way too fast."
Now, I'm seeing "romances" that deal with relationships that are toxic...
...that are decaying right there on the page...
...or that don't have a spark of excitement ANYWHERE. Not even erotic excitement. Which also isn't "romance," but at least is something a writer can work with as a jumping-off point.

In other words, if the state of romantic fiction is reflected by the entries I've been reading over the past few days...we need help.

I got to the point where I started muttering, "People, people, people. For heaven's sake. Turn on the Hallmark Channel once in a awhile, will you?"

Hey, it may not be highbrow...but at least it's got the emotion in the right places.
It's a start.
In the meantime, there are contest entrants out there who are gonna get their hearts broken by this particular judge--but that,  unfortunately, can't be helped.
If you don't WRITE what the category is about, I'm not going to pretend you DID.
I did give extensive feedback on most of these stories. Which'll probably put them at least a leg ahead in the game when they go onto paper the next time.
I hope!

In the meantime, I can only prescribe rom-com movies. Enough of those, and you'll internalize the genre, and maybe next'll actually write it. 


Tuesday, March 01, 2016

"Alright" Is Not A Word. No. Really. It Isn't.

Judging a creative writing contest...and wondering how it is that so many people really, really, REALLY don't know how to use English. No, I'm not talking esoteric words here, either. I'm talking the non-word "alright." Which is not correct. Has never been correct. And, frankly, which I've seen so many times already today that my teeth are already on edge.

So my dental work. Use a dictionary. Use a Grammarian. Use something that lets you know what ARE, and ARE NOT, real English words. 

And if you have a dictionary that says "alright" is an ALL RIGHT alternative usage...burn it.

You'll be doing us all a favor.

More from your happy happy happy judge, anon.



Saturday, February 13, 2016

It's All About the Meme, Baby...or Not.

Do you meme?

Maybe that's not a verb. (I should check that, no?) But you know what I'm getting at. Taking the multitude of instantly-recognizable images (such as from The Princess Bride) and adding your own words to them to convey some message is all over various places online, and has been for some time. 

Some of them are funny.
Some of them are offensive. That's to be expected: the online world is electronic graffiti, with all the accompanying lack of verisimilitude, restraint, decency, common sense, or even grade-school grammar.
Some of them, however, are troubling.

I'm not talking about the political ones outlining various leaders' faults, either. 

I'm talking about many of the so-called Christian memes.
Some of them appear on Catholic sites, some of them just "appear" from circuitous routes...
...but many, many of them are troubling.
Not because they espouse false doctrine, heresy, modernism, or the like. 
But because, in their attempt to satirize those things, they go way overboard.

You've seen them.
They're the ones that say things like, "Give up Facebook for Lent? Oh, yeah, that's just like being nailed to a cross."
Funny? Yeah, on one level.
But has anyone noticed how vicious that sentiment is? Or how snotty it comes across?
If we said something like that out loud, in the old days, our mother (or our priest) would have given us a "whop upside the head" for it. And they'd have been right to do so.
Because, boys and girls, plain and simple...talking to each other like that isn't spiritual.
It's nasty.

Some of these memes wax particularly nasty during times when people give gifts, such as now, at Valentine's Day, or Christmas.
Which makes you wonder what, in fact, their purpose really is.

Is it to wake up the faithful? I'm sure that's the claim. I'd like to think that that motive inspired the first few. And, yeah, a little "dig" now and then does jolt us out of our complacency and get us to think bigger.

But repeated "digs" don't do that job well at all. They're more like the image of poor St. Sebastian, tied to the tree with all those arrows sticking out of him. Repeated snipes like that may not kill us, but they're certainly not going to help us grow. They take what little mustard seed some of us have and trample it until it hasn't a chance.

And I think it's time we stopped doing that to each other.

We're told in Scripture to concentrate on the good. Whatever is good, wholesome, worthy of think on it. And focus on it. And find it. Philippians. Look it up.

Instead, we have a little self-appointed group of monitors out there who, under the pretense of "making us think," are actually tearing apart every positive effort some of us make--clearly, from the point of view of a person much more enlightened and much further along the spiritual path.

There's a Scriptural story about that, too. It's the one where the Pharisee is praying in the temple and starts out, "Lord, I thank you that I'm not like other men."

Yeah. That one.

I hate to tell you this. But if you're putting up one of those sarcastic religious memes...that's how you're coming across.
Not as humbly admonishing a sinner.
Certainly not as encouraging fellow believers.
Not when you're so gleefully throwing water on small flames of effort. 

For some of us, Lent is still about "giving up stuff." And that's not wrong.
For some of us, St. Valentine's feast is still about buying chocolate or nice cards for people we treasure. And that's not wrong, either.
Neither is celebrating Easter with bunnies and lilies or Christmas with Santa Claus or St. Nicholas's Day.

It is the pinnacle of spirituality?
No, it's not.
No one says it is.
But does that mean that anyone claiming to be spiritual has no business doing those things?
And it's the height of arrogance to set yourself up as a judge qualified to reprimand all the rest of us for daring to enjoy and/or derive some benefit out of secular "trappings," just because they're not sprinkled with holy water or catalogued by the Church fathers.

None of us is going to be at any spiritual  pinnacle until we reach heaven.
We're all on the way.
Sometimes, our efforts are feeble. But Scripture also says that the Messiah will not quench a small flame or extinguish a smoldering wick.

So those of you out there who are doing these smart-ass memes...
...denigrating your brothers' and sisters' efforts...
...making fun of them...
...taunting them...
...because you know better...?

Think again.
Starting a spiritual conversation by slapping me across the face, kicking my cat, and telling me I don't know anything about sacrifice isn't going to get me interested in anything else you have to say.
And neither is it going to even remotely tempt a nonbeliever to want to join us.

I can't wait to see these go away.
I hope that day comes soon.