Monday, February 27, 2012

'Tis Grand

Finished an edit that cost me my posture, occasionally my sense of humor, and the last dregs of the social life I’d been trying to hang onto. Note to self:  When you write a five book series, don’t write the first book last. It’s kind of like painting yourself into a corner of a football stadium (pretend like they have corners, mine does). Good thing I’m flexible because I had to climb walls to get out. You know how awkwardly the whole Star Wars saga progressed, as technology moved forward, but the plot moved back?  My dilemma was exactly like that; except that it was a book and not a movie, and the book has nothing to do with outer-space, AND nobody was paying me write it. We obey the muse around here. Anyway, the point is that moving backwards in story-land is a bit of a quagmire. I didn’t dare do anything that would require major plot changes in the other four books. It felt like yoga without ever leaving my desk chair. Write tight my eye. It will make an interesting final edit; moving commas could have a ripple effect in more than one universe. I’ll be up for it; I just have to walk erect for a couple of days first.
Kind of makes me consider outlining next time… nah. Where’s the fun in that?
Was a bit apprehensive about finally clambering out of my desk chair (after months of writing 16 hours a day) to hike the Grand Canyon. My BFF always puts things into perspective. She pointed out that getting rescued from the floor of the canyon, by the rescue helicopter, really ought to be on my bucket list anyway. Hmmm. I wonder if the same guys work it, who work ski patrol rescue?  That was kind of fun. It’s all good fodder for The Glitter Globe though. So I tossed random, sparkly hiking stuff into a box and sent it ahead. I keep trying to outfox the whole lost-luggage scenario. Briefly considered wearing everything onto the plane, but can’t get hiking poles and crampons through security. At least I don’t think I can, hmmm. The question then becomes do I want to add strip search to my bucket list? 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Ten Ways to Get a Telemarketer to HANG UP ON YOU

There is a landline phone in the editing cave, and I have reason to suspect that it is the last landline phone on the continent accessible to telemarketers. As always, employ any techniques you pick up from The Glitter Globe at your own risk. Heads up - make sure it is a telemarketer. It really backfires on you when the call turns out to be, hypothetically let’s say, a government representative returning your call.

10. Answer the phone in another language. My personal favorite is Charlie Brown’s parent’s language. Wah wah.
  9. Play a musical tune on your keypad. Surely you know the numbers for, “On Top of Old Smokey” or at least, “Mary had a Little Lamb”. For extra points, sing along. Prepare for an encore, in case it is requested.
  8. Politely request that they, “Please hold”. Put the phone on speaker while you go back to your writing/whatever you were doing. If you are so inclined you could lightly sing a bit. I recommend Copacabana by Barry Manilow.  “Her name was Lola, she was a showgirl – With yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there….”
 7. Transfer them to your supervisor. If there is a toddler in the house, promote her (temporarily). Any pet will suffice, I give my frog extra pellets for this job. There is also the option of being your own supervisor (just like customer support does, right?).
 6. You know how they sometimes launch right into their spiel?  You must cut this off with an authoritative, “EXCUSE ME?  EXCUSE ME?!  Why do you keep calling me and asking what I’m wearing?  It’s none of your business what I’m wearing!”  Then in an aside to your pet frog, “SNAKE!  It’s that guy calling again!  The one who always asks what I’m wearing!”
 5. Then there is the ever popular, best defense is a good offense strategy. Politely. “What’ya say your name was?”  Ask it repeatedly until they answer, and follow it up with, “That’s my favorite name…  What’re you wearing?”
 4. Taking it a bit farther, I’d also recommend using all your favorite clichéd pick-up lines. You might want to take notes for research purposes. “Do you come here often?” “What’s your sign?” “Have we met?  You look familiar….”
 3. Launch into your best soulless, empty, fake-polite voice:  “Please hold. Your call is important to us; it will be answered by the next available operator. Estimated wait time is approximately… 50 minutes.”  Rinse and repeat.
 2. Repeat everything they say in a mumble. See how well you can shadow.
 1. Put them on speaker and just keep working. Interrupt only when you need something. “HEY?!  What rhymes with orange?” “HEY?! What’s another word for contagion?” “Are antelope and zebras both found in the Serengeti?”                      

This blog is dedicated to Raj, who inspired me with the idea in the first place.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Villains, Vampires and Vitriol

What makes a villain?  The dictionary description is rather succinct: “a cruelly malicious person involved/devoted to wickedness or crime”. Such cooperation!  Where would fiction be without this devoted, heartless wickedness?  Did you ever see that children’s book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka?  It is written from the Wolf’s perspective. How about Gregory Maguire’s book Wicked, told from the POV (Point of View) of the Wicked Witch?  You know, everyone has their perspective.
Do you want to know the Bad Guy’s motivation in a story?  It helps from a writing perspective to understand an antagonist’s background, even if all the reader ever sees is a classic villain, existing only to make the hero’s life a nightmare. Frankly I think learning a bit of the villain’s history adds depth to the story, for the reader. We all knew some of Voldemort’s background, it hardly made him more sympathetic; in fact it made him worse. Didn’t our hero, Harry, overcome a similar past, without becoming evil?    
Dare I admit publicly that I not only enjoyed reading Twilight I thought that turning a classic bad guy, good, was positively refreshing. Everyone luvs a guy who could be bad, but won’t. (Chocolate, to the first one to identify that sorta quote.)  Then the villain in that story ended up being a vampire who did embrace his dark side. Someone should write a story about a classic good guy gone bad… hmmmm, like an ANGEL!  Wait, I think I read that book. Oh my gosh, it’s a true story too. Well, I don’t think we’re gonna top that bestseller.
Then there are villains who, with a dying breath, repent – aka Darth Vader – gotta love those. How about those unfeeling villains, where resistance is futile as in the Borg? Terminator?  You’re not going to sway them (well, except that one episode in TNG/and the second terminator movie – but other than those).

How about those Villains you love to hate? Jane Eyre’s Aunt, cousins, everyone who ran the Lowood School; Captain Bligh – and he got away with it, which just makes it even worse (or better if you were the writer); Cruella DeVil; All Evil Step-Mothers/Sisters/Cats and Uncle Scar in The Lion King. How about you, are there any evil geniuses you’re still holding a grudge against?

My favorite villain off-hand would have to be Professor Moriarty. Why?  Because he was apparently modeled, at least physically, after a teacher that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had, and at that same school there were two boys named Moriarty. Coincidence?  But of course!  Those things happen, and I just happen to delight in them.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

It's ALWAYS Mom's Fault

There are really only two house rules. The first being to clean up your offal; the second is simply that no one NO ONE touches my scissors or scotch tape. I’m not kidding. I’ll cut you (okay, yes, it’s an empty threat, but I always say it like I mean it). Besides, even if I did mean it, it’s not like I ever can find the scissors – because nobody follows the house rules. Including moi – we’re just a houseful of born violators I suppose.

Speaking of violators, did I ever tell you about the time I got a ticket for NOT setting the woods on fire for the third time?  Non?  

Ooh la la, let me first tell you that I have trouble figuring out how to light a lighter, whoever decided to childproof them is so not my friend. Matches might work, you would think, but they have a shelf life AND if you keep them beside the sink – for some inexplicable reason – they don’t like to light. My point being, I am fire-lighting challenged. BFF and I used to go camping together and we’d buy those Duraflame logs. BFF would strike the match, hold it to the edge of the paper and Voila - we’d have a roaring, one log campfire; and I’d be thrilled if I managed to catch a marshmallow on fire. (We’re more resort girls, but often have to work with a camping budget.)

So one summer Hubby and I had good sized party: thousands of water balloons, seemingly hundreds of children, two pigs (one was the main course, the other was just a neighbor guy in costume) and if I remember correctly – one live calf (someone brought that calf in their van, I think it needed fed frequently – this is life in the country). Somebody else brought fireworks (which was against the rules). I think it was my Father-in-law (so if the statue of limitations is still active, go arrest him, please). The whole gathering was a mother’s nightmare, I expected… well, let’s just say praying really works.

The next day my Dear Hubby bribed the neighbor kids to go outside and gather up all the trash that was spread from one end of Spooky Hill to the other. There is a huge pit dug in a bare, swampy area at the edge of the woods; and the neighborhood guys gathered around it that evening and lit the trash on fire. (They decided to do it at night, so no one would notice and worry. I kid you not.) To this day the guys claim that they didn’t realize there were live fireworks in that trash, until it started to catch and shoot roman candles towards the woods. Getting a visual? Whoever called the fire department that time surely did it because of the orange glow lighting the night sky, punctuated with an occasional M80. It was all under control though, no problemo.
So a tradition was born, both with the summer party and the next day bonfire. (Though I did ban fireworks, and I tried to ban FIL, but he came anyway.)  Are you familiar with the theory of pack mentality?  You know when you get a bunch of – deal with it – guys together and one of them lights a fire and another says, “Hey, I’ve got an old couch I need to get rid of, I’m going to throw it on there.”  Cue me, standing outside, shuffling children away and doing a brilliant fishwife rant. Cue my beloved Father-in-law telling me to just go inside, because he’s been a volunteer fireman for 145 years and everything was under control.

Cue me telling my kids to just ignore the sirens going off down at the fire station; while bits of flaming foam rubber are drifting over the top of the barn, glowing orange in front of green treetops. I calmly sat the kids down in front of the piano where they happily kept playing, even as fire trucks circled Spooky Hill, trying to find the Secret Entrance. Eventually they found it, but the fire was out by then, thanks either to FIL’s 145 years on the department, or to the extremely long hoses that now stretched to the pit, either way, only the scent of scorched foam rubber remained by the time the fire department got here.

So, as the fates would have it, a few weeks after the couch-bonfire; a little boy came running up to my house, telling me that my woods were on fire. It was a windy day and visions of that flaming couch began to dance in my head, so of course I called 911 before going to investigate. Then I grabbed a couple of fire extinguishers and raced for the trees with this kid. The woods weren’t on fire, the kid had tried to burn a cardboard box inside aforementioned fire pit, and the wind blew it out. Thankfully the entire area is a swamp, but we used the fire extinguishers just to be safe; and I gave him a lecture that would have done my Bohemian Gram proud. The terrified kid hid when the fire trucks arrived – and arrive they did. All of them. My driveway can fit several btw; and as a side note fire trucks are extremely heavy and actually sink a bit on blacktop.

After assuring the firemen that there was no fire, they investigated the safety of the fire pit and recited burn rules and gave me the exact lecture I’d just given the culprit. Then the residents of Spooky Hill gathered for a good visit with each other, and the entire fire department. THEN the Fire Chief gave me a ticket. He said, “Your fire was contained, and no laws were broken; but you DO HAVE A RECORD for SETTING FIRES up here, and AS THIS IS YOUR THIRD OFFENSE I’m going to have to cite you.”  My third offense?  Mine?  The bonfire lighting neighbors had scattered at this point, and that little kid was cowering somewhere in the swamp. Yes, I considered ratting him out, but really?  I seriously doubt they would have believed me what with MY record and all. So I just sucked it up and took it like a Mom. Such is our lot in life.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Editing Cave

Yes, I am so deep into the editing cave that you can't get there from here. You need to carry your laptop, keep it out of the water, and crawl on your belly from here on in. Don't worry about getting lost, you can follow the blood trail out (provided you ever finish).
It is beautiful in here, but no matter how deep I go my cries are audible to those on the outside. Caves echo terribly. Besides, please don't think I'm getting paranoid, but betas are following me with red pens. How am I ever going to finish if they keep editing my work? (Dear Betas, Please ignore my whining - I know you will - and just keep stabbing me with those red pens. Thank you. xoxo)
Someday I will finish.  Someday I'll gollum my way right out of this cave, blinking into the sunlight with My Precious clutched tightly in my hands. I have big plans for that day. I think I'll take down the Christmas tree.