Thursday, February 25, 2010
As should have been clear by the punchline of my last post, you have to be careful what you say around the post office. The place is full of people quick to seize upon any and everything you say and suddenly use it against you. I pride myself on being fairly quick-witted and have slammed more than one of my coworkers over the years, but I too have fell victim to saying the wrong thing, in front of the wrong person, at the wrong time.
Upon return to work after a trip to New Orleans my coworkers were asking me about my trip. It was one of those warm fall days so a group of us was gathered outside around a picnic table. Being Gov't employees we tended to take long breaks anytime we could get away with it. Talk soon turned to food.
I told them about the places Jennifer and I had eaten, the desserts I'd consumed and of course the various meats I'd scarfed down. That's when somebody asked me about alligator.
"Yeah I ate some," I said. "But iut wasn't all that great."
"Did it taste fishy," somebody asked.
Of course the obiligatory, "No it tastes like chicken!" rang out in the crowd.
"Actually it tasted more like burnt rubber bands, "I explained. "The meat was tough and rubbery. Besides that, the longer I chewed on a bite the bigger it got in my mouth."
And that's when someone chimed in and said, "You should have spit it out. You were eating the wrong part."
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I started at the post office back in 1992 at the ripe age of 19. Having worked at the feedstore for nearly four years before that I was used to egotistical bosses, but unlike my feedstore boss my first postal supervisors had very little charm or flair to go with his bravado. His name was Bert.
Bert was originally from Georgia and still possessed a mumbly southern accent. He talked as if his mouth was stuffed with grits and called every male working for him Boy. "Boy you bes' work dat mail fasser or you gonna be down on 7th street come morning."
The unemployment office was on 7th street.
Bert liked to run down Texas every chance he got, especially the food. "Don't know how dey call dis shit round here Barbecue. Back in Joe-Ja (his way of saying Georgia) they knew how to smoke meat. Gotta have hardwood. Mesquite ain't no damn good, but ain't no real trees that'll grow here in this God-forsaken state."
You'd never guess Bert had issues with the local food by looking at his ample gut. He wasn't a tall man. Had you measured his height standing or laying on his back the difference would have been no more than a slice of Texas toast. But his belly wasn't sloppy or jiggly. Rather it was solid and domed like that of a bloated cow left in the bar-ditch for a week in August.
Bert liked to stand around rubbing his gut and watching us work.
One day, just after lunch he walked over and propped one foot up on the dolly of mail trays we were prepping and commenced to gently rub and pat his stomach. One of my coworkers, a longtime postal worker who'd been slinging mail longer than I'd been alive, said, "Damn, Bert you are getting fatter ever day."
Bert shifted the toothpick dangling between his lisp to the corner of his mouth and with an extra pat said, "It's all dick."
My coworker looked up, arched one brow and said, "Wow, how much of it did you eat?"
Monday, February 22, 2010
I spotted this Meme a while back on somebodies blog and thought it would be interesting so I cut and pasted the questions and saved them as a future post. Sadly so much time has gone by I now forgot where I stole them. Chime in if you wish to take credit.
1)What’s the last thing you wrote? What’s the first thing you wrote that you still have?
Still plugging away on The Feedstore Chronicles. I have the basic stories all written but now I'm trying to blend them in a way that makes the entire memoir one cohesive piece with an arc to the story.
All of my old journal type stuff went up in flames along with my house last January but thanks to obsessive backing up and saving to thumbdrives I pretty much have everything I've written since 2000 when I decided to start writing for publication.
2) Write poetry?
Not seriously. I wrote a poem about each kid for part of my son's class project and I sometimes make up bawdy limericks for fun. I would love to get with a musician and try some more songwriting but other than that no.
3) Angsty poetry?
I was pretty damn angsty about writing that class project.
4) Favorite genre of writing?
Genre matters not to me, but I am very much a character writer so it's more about finding a plot to plug my characters into than it is bending my characters to fit inside a particular genre.
5) Most annoying character you’ve ever created? Tristan, a whiny eco-terrorist wanna be. He was meant to be a catalyst character for Lindsay my female protag in Waiting on the River but he was so annoying I had to cut him out all-together. In the final draft of the novel he only gets a brief mention as having existed.
6) Best plot you’ve ever created?
Of those I think Waiting on the River has the easiest plot to define. Woman struggling to accept the abortion she had at seventeen meets and falls in love with widower whose wife died in childbirth after defying her doctors suggestion of an abortion.
7) Coolest plot twist you’ve ever created?
I'd have to say the idea I have been pondering to fix Plundered Booty. I've made lots of notes but thus far I have not had the chance to incorporate the idea into the novel. And actually I may use this new character as the basis f a whole new novel. What would be sort of a prequel to Plundered Booty. After all, what would go together better than car salesmen and money hungry televangelists?
8)How often do you get writer’s block?
I used to say never, but after struggling to write anything all of 2009 I'll say once a decade. Sure that once last almost an entire year, but like the saying goes everything is bigger in Texas.
9) Write fan fiction?
No. Though the first thing I ever remember wrting was a a cheesy knockoff of The movie Red Dawn. My and my fifth grade buddies rewrote the plot starring ourselves. had the Russians have invaded Amarillo we were ready for them.
10) Do you type or write by hand?
I write most things by hand first and then type and edit at the same time to produce sort of a first and a half type draft.
11) Do you save everything you write?
Almost everything. I have a file of deleted scenes and sometimes I go there to steal a bit of description for a later scene.
12) Do you ever go back to an idea after you’ve abandoned it?
Far too often i am afraid. I rarely let go of an idea.
13) What’s your favorite thing you’ve ever written?
I would call it a tie between a short story titled The Simplest of Sounds which was published by Underground Voices and can be read here, and the short story version of Plundered Booty which I have never attempted to sell.
14) What’s everyone else’s favorite story you’ve written?
Most people seem to say Plundered Booty though I think that may simply because it's plot and characters are a bit crazy and therefore a bit more in line with my personality than my women's fiction. Now one ever expects me tow rite women's fiction so that revelation always puts people in shock straight away.
15) Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?
Romance definitely.Matter of fact every full length project I've taken on has a strong romance element. Including Plundered Booty and yes even The Feedstore Chronicles. What can i say, I am a firm believer that love truly does make the world go around.
None of my characters are prone to instantaneous glittering so I'd have to say no on the angsty teen drama aspect.
16) What’s your favorite setting for your characters?
I've never strayed to far from what I know setting wise so my stories are always in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, or Colorado. And of course I'm gonna choose Texas over those others. You can't be a true Texan without being overly prideful of The Lone Star state.
17) How many writing projects are you working on right now?
I just sent off a short memoir piece for consideration in an upcoming anthology so now I'm back to working solely on The Feedstore Chronicles. Though as always I am pondering other stories and characters and I have began making notes on several other novels as I try to decide what I will write next.
18) Have you ever won an award for your writing?
Yeah, quite a few actually but truth is most writing awards do little more than stroke an author's ego. Sure there are some that truly elev ate you above the crowd, and some even come with a prize of publication but a conference win or regional win doesn't seem to have much impact with either agents or editors.
19) What are your five favorite words?
I want to represent you.
20) What character have you created that is most like yourself?
Since the question says created I'll forgo the obvious and not say myself in The Feedstore Chronicles. Now it gets tough as every other character I've ever created has at least a tiny shred of myself they hatched from my brain. Blue Riggins from Waiting On The River shared my love of poker. Hank Zybeck from Plundered Booty is fascinated with pirates much like myself and Dillon Konrad from UnLuckLess is a big believer in Fate and Karma as am I. But truth is I purposely avoid making any one character too much like myself.
21) Where do you get your ideas for your characters?
Life. I like to play amateur psychologist and often it is these forays into diagnosing others problems that gives me the seed for characters.
22) Do you ever write based on your dreams?
No, but I dream often of the characters I've created. So much so that when I am in the thick of writing I rarely sleep well.
23) Do you favor happy endings?
I favor satisfactory ending. that doesn't always mean lollipops and fairy tale kisses but the last thing I want is a reader to finish and say, What the hell? Tears, laughter or a smile are fine but I want them to feel like the story was resolved.
24) Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
Not much when I first lay the words down. I do lots of editing when I get hung up so there is plenty of time to fix those things later. Besides you've read this blog. That ought to tell you what my first draft stuff is like. Sometimes I run spell check before I post and sometime I don't, depending on how much time I have.
25) Does music help you write?
Yeah listening to great lyrics always gets my creative juices flowing.
26) Quote something you’ve written. Whatever pops in your head.
"Hell no they ain't real, but all the lakes around here are man-made and I still like to fish their waters." From Plundered Booty.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Well, I can now lay claim to that humiliation.
One of my beta readers, a 50 year old female whose honest makes her a great reader for me, dealt this gem of an excuse.
"I didn't get your story read because John (her long distance boyfriend) called last night and we talked for two hours. Well actually I wasn't talking to John so much as I was John's penis."
Like I said, this reader is EXTREMELY honest, even when talking about her private life so this wasn't the first time I'd heard details of her sex life. True to her form she then launched into a high pitched British accent so that I could relive her phone conversation which basically amounted to her boyfriend speaking for his junior partner how much her missed her.
So my writing was tossed aside by a penis from the mother country with a high pitched whine.
In other news both my wife and I donated blood this week as part of Manic Mommy's blogosphere blood drive. The following passage was stolen directly from her blog.
ONE PINT OF YOUR BLOOD WILL SAVE THREE PEOPLE. Some of you have a blood type that can save up to FIVE BABIES. But my mom said it best. Your blood saves more than just three people or five babies. It saves their whole FAMILIES.
There is still time to enter the contest over at her blog. You could win a round trip airline ticket form Southwest Airlines as well as other great prizes.
I've been groggy all week thanks to my Olympic addiction. I've stayed up far too late each night watching the games and in my net life I want to come back as a world-class curler. To me the sport is the frozen tundra equivalent of pitching horseshoes and I'm already pretty damn good at that to be honest. pitching horseshoes should be a requirement for all citizens of the Lone Star State in humble opinion.
And speaking of the Olympics, is it just me or are those medals freakishly huge this year.
Who designed them? Flavor Flav?
Friday, February 12, 2010
The hard part beings once the story is complete. Researching the market. Crafting a synopsis and query. Sending off a submission. Waiting.
A lot of writers spend years improving at their craft. They read countless books on the subject of writing. They attend workshops, conferences and online classes to hone their prose and wordsmithing. But far too many of us ignore the business side of publishing. Me included. Not only the submission side of the business but the dollar and cents side of what happens when your work is accepted.
I myself am guilt of thinking -- Oh I'll learn about royalties and electronic rights and the definition of remaindered stock AFTER I sell a novel. Sure writing is an art but for those of us who dream of one day turning our passion into a career we need to learn and study the ENTIRE business.
In recent years I've tried to do just that, and like most educations every item I learn something new I realize just how much more there is I need to learn.
If you are new or not so new to the world of publishing here are some useful links that have helped me learn more about the publishing world.
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY - This link will allow you to sign up for a variety newsletters about the industry.
Galleycat - Also available as a daily email Galleycat is a great source of current news on the business.
Duotrope -- Is a great place to learn of potential markets especially for shorter pieces and poetry.
Agentquery -- A great place to start your query process.
No doubt I've omitted some great ones. What are your sources for learning?
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
If my live blogging the big game annoyed you I am sorry, but I thought a few of you might enjoy reading the notions filling my head as I watched. For the record I only three things twice, I refrained from cursing but not yelling and when Tracy Porter intercepted that Manning pass I grabbed my oldest son and tossed him above my head four or five times. Normally this is not a feat I can perform, as he is nearly 90 pounds and only an inch shy of five foot, but caught in the moment he was light as a feather.
After the game I received about 50 text messages and a dozen phone calls. Perhaps the coolest conversation I had was with my old FFA teacher from high school who remembered I was a big Saints fan even back then. Pretty cool to know one of your teachers is thinking about you some nineteen years after you've graduated.
Football is now over so I am shifting much of my energy on writing.
I knew this was gonna be a great year and everything still points that direction so I need to get my work out into the marketplace and keep the good times rolling.
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Friday, February 5, 2010
Most of y'all know I work at the post office. i do maintenance on the machines that sort your mail. From letters, to the big flat envelopes, to packages. Nearly every piece of mail is sorted via automated equipment these days and it is my job to do the daily and breakdown maintenance on these machines. Often I find mail pieces that happened to fall into the wrong place and sometimes this mail is damaged. Earlier this week I found such a piece, a trade magazine called FN which stands for footwear news.
Normally I place this mail in the area to be repaired without a second thought but this particular mag caught my eye. Okay, It caught my eye because every single show model pictured had on a low-cut shirt. These models also happened to be very well endowed. Which got me to thinking is it really smart to avert all of the attention to the upper half of these women when what you are selling is strapped to their feet?
Speaking of feet. My 7 year old was walking on top of a frozen snow drift earlier this week and suddenly proclaimed, "Look I'm just like Jesus! I can walk on water."
Here we are on the eve of Super Bowl Eve and I am already in a frenzy of anticipation. My beloved New Orleans Saints are finally in it and in a sign of my sickness I have been having dreams at night about the big game. I tried to watch the NFC conference game stone-cold sober and nearly stroked out. For the Superbowl I plan to walk the fine line between drunk and incoherent. If I go to far over the line I may not have my full capacities and miss something, but too far on this side and y'all will be sending flowers to my funeral. I'd hate to see what my blood pressure will be like around 6 PM Sunday.
Can I get a WHO DAT?
Even if you have nothing to add via the comments please drop in and offer a WHO DAT or Geaux Saints to let me know you are there.
Diehard. I've used this term to describe my fan-dom before but suddenly it strikes me as a weird description. I think I will use the term devoted from now on. Cockroaches, wild boars, and unfullfilled dreams. Those are things I would describe as diehard beings.
Speaking of death. I still wonder if you have a pre-bought funeral plot and you walk on it can you make yourself shiver?
And I'm a little late with this one for the blog (you should be on my twitter or facebook list and you would have seen it in a timely fashion) but who decided a groundhog and his shadow were good barometers of the future? Had to be some drunk redneck. Anybody other Nostradamus would have used a crystal ball, tea leaves, or tarot cards. heck if a Magic 8 ball is better than a fat rodent.
Again I say ... Can I get a WHO DAT!