Thursday, January 26, 2012

Were T.S. Eliot to B-Slap Someone...

One thing I love about being a writer is the freedom I have in crafting beautiful, scathing correspondence.

Case in point: Someone from an organization owes me money. To me? A sizable amount. An I've-had-to-half-fill-my-gas-tank-for-a-month-while-awaiting-reimbursement kind of amount. So I went over said person's head to her boss and crafted an email that reflects what a total *&^*%&^% said person has been to me throughout this process in elegant prose that might put T.S. Eliot to shame. I love that I can write subtext of HOLY CRAP, GIVE ME MY MONEY while being overtly polite and respectful.

The written word is a beautiful thing.

Update: (makes me feel all Robert Stack) Inside of ninety minutes from hitting send, I had my money. Now that was a T.S. Eliot b*slap. God, I love writing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Here...Have a Lorna Doone

The band 3 Doors Down has a song, Pages, that's never really heard on the radio, never had a video depict its message, never really met with the success of so many of their other songs, but it speaks to me on a level most people can't understand. It's easy for reviewers and readers and consumers of stories to feed on the words writers lay out for them. It's easy to interpret and hate and love and take ownership without stopping to consider the level of vulnerability and courage it took to put them out there.

Some days, it can't be done. The rawness and honesty fail to surface. Some days it flows like a fresh cut. And some days I hide it in a sentence, a detail only I know the significance of. Today it was a box of Lorna Doone cookies. I've never eaten one, but the visceral response I have just seeing them on the grocery store shelf is powerful. Selfish, perhaps, because the reader will never know this secret we share, this moment from my past for them to interpret or hate or love or take ownership. Writers must keep something for themselves because so much is given away on the page.

Why write, then? Easy. So others will interpret and hate and love and take ownership. To open your heart to a stranger is a beautiful, magical thing so fundamental to the human experience. Writing isn't sales or autograph lines snaking out the door of a bookstore or royalties. Writing is you and me and maybe a blanket to cover your feet from the cold.

Last Movie Watched: Nature's Grave (Long Weekend remake). Seriously, Jim? WTH were you thinking? I thought it was interesting that the (supposed) screenwriter posted to the imdb message board, in essence, telling us the director would not allow him to deviate from the original script. Was this an apology? Perhaps.

Last Song Listened To: Here Without You, 3 Doors Down (my Mississippi love hanging out)

Last Accomplishment: Five Charlie's Angels kicks in kickboxing (tried to find a link, but can't-just know I could get those Girl Scout cookies out of your hand with one stealth move)

Monday, January 16, 2012

Einstein Was Not An Impotent Word Slut

This week's helpful critique by a non-industry, non-reader of why I have yet to score a major publishing deal: "You aren't using them big words are you? Society is dumber than it used to be."

Now that we have our mental juices warmed, I can't begin to tell you how excited I am that the time travel goodness is overflowing. Who else is going to spoon-feed you this stuff?

The Time Travel Mart, which we Vortexers have patronized before, is now offering a set of devotional candles by artist Mickey Duzyj depicting the holy trinity of time travel physicists: Hawking, Einstein and Mallet. Lauded as patron saints of time travel, these beauts each contain the artist's rendering of the scientist, a quote about time travel and information regarding each man's contribution to time travel. $35.00, all proceeds to charity.

Speaking of Stephen Hawking, two fist-bumps and a snap for his smart aleck response to a reporter asking him for a time travel formula.

One of seven Delorean prop cars used (only three survived) in the Back to the Future film series was sold at a charity auction for $541,000. All proceeds benefit the Michael J. Fox Foundation, the largest private funding organization dedicated to Parkinson's research.

Scholastic, the powerhouse behind the phenomenally successful 39 Clues empire, will launch its newest multi-author, multi-publishing platform venture titled Infinity Ring in September 2012. The series, pitched as an alternate history time travel series targeted at the 8-12 year old market, will feature bestselling author James Dasher for books one and seven.

Check out Julia Wood, a forty-two year old woman who renovated her Victorian-era home down to the smallest detail and walks the walk of a Victorian spinster. If I were eccentric enough to pull this off, it wouldn't be in a corset.

Remember when we talked about the artistic merge of an old photograph with the exact same setting in present day? Taylor Jones has created Dear Photograph, a website that features these time travel-ish photos that followers send in each week. Best part? The notes below them.

This week, I'm backing away from my Words With Friends addiction. Apparently, I am the only random opponent who uses WORDS THAT EXIST. I don't like the practice of slutting up any old combination of letters until something sticks for sixty-three points. I suspect Mr. Sheen may be one of these impotent word sluts. Withdrawls and DTs (dialogue tremors) may ensue, but I assure you I'll be far less linguistically frustrated this time next week.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Fabio's Pinpoint Forecast: No Bird Migration Today

I'm a little jacked today. And not in a favorable way. I'm pretty sure I'm not quite in harmony with the universe. How could I have just now learned that I can't lend the same book twice on my Nook? I get the whole go-out-and-buy-your-own-damn-book copyright premise behind it and how it's in place to protect the interests of the publisher and authors, and to that I say hot damn with buffalo sauce, but how much does it suck that it still, after all this time, fails to simulate my bibliophile tendencies to share the written word with a hard copy? It makes me cringe that I've traded technological convenience for my lending passion. Books aren't meant to be hoarded unless you have sixteen cats, a bathroom packed with adult diapers and a dolly fetish.

I also ventured outside my writing bubble to edit at Starbucks today and remembered why I don't do that anymore. I adore children, but not when they're racing a Matchbox car up my leg when I'm trying to get the p-e-r-f-e-c-t opening line perfect. And did I mention how the taste of coffee makes me gag? Oops, wrong drink. So perk-ily sorry for $4.05, Miss. I could have funded breakfast for a hungry child in my community for a month for that nip. And the guy next to me found my screen infinitely more exciting to read than his spreadsheets. Creeeepy. Give me my jammy bottoms and kitty paperweights at home any day.

But lest you think this is a Debbie Downer post, I must share with you in rare Jim-Caveziel-Count-of-Monte-Cristo-style goodness that edits are going swimmingly, Fabio as a weatherman makes me laugh and no one has guessed my hero crush for this book. Why does this make me happy? Because my IR (Ideal Reader) exclaimed, "Him? Are you kidding me? He looks like he's on smack!" when she learned of his identity. Some things are best kept secret, though if someone guesses correctly, I shall fess up. I am nothing if not honest.

Be good to each other. Write much. Feed a child in your community. Enjoy Fabio's cold front. And have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

No, My Hero Crush Wasn't Herve Villechaize

For ten minutes of my life I'll never get back, I watched Millionaire Matchmaker. I know nothing else about this show, thankfully, but in the segment I channel-surfed, the matchmaker asked the client who her celebrity crush was so she could get an idea in two words who the client might be physically attracted to. This had me thinking (and maybe my romance writer is hanging out a little) that this method is not that much different than what writers do to get inspiration.

In editing this previous manuscript, I'm trying to get back into a mindset and characters I knew intimately years ago. Like a love affair that went sour, it burned hot in my mind, but I can no longer remember the details, what my hero felt like on the inside, or would he even stop to feel the sun burn his eyelids while he is standing near the lake? The only way to reach the physical and emotional and spiritual person he was at the beginning of the story was to start back at square one. Let's call it a "hero crush" because every romance writer I know germinates a character from a famous seed. Little about the finished hero ever resembles that conceptual moment, but it is a useful tool nevertheless.

Did it work?

For me, not so much. My protagonist was too far past that famous seed to trigger anything, but I still see shades of his inspiration every so often. It was how I attempted to make him real. Now he is far more real than just about anyone I know. The magic of fiction.

Who is he?

If you're a long-time Vortexer, you might know. Guesses in the comments...let's play a game...

Hint: the Frenchman le Salle

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Manuscript Is In the Lifeboat

Short one today, Vortexers. I'm pulling one out of the drawer.

Cue girly-scream.

This novel was my close-call, my agented one, my attended-the-major-publishing-house-editorial-meeting one, my doesn't-fit-what-we-publish one. Three years does a lot for perspective. And experience. And voice. They were right. It wasn't quite ready. But it will be.

This news story stayed with me yesterday, not because Titanic is cycling on the movie channels or because it's yet another way for commercialism to find a foothold in tragedy, but because of the human element-as it has always been with the subject. For many, it will complete the journey their ancestors never did.

Other Titanic mentions at The Vortex 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Vortex Drinking Game

I know. It's Monday. How inappropriate to be thinking of spirits so early. But I was catching up on my DVR-ed Person of Interest eppies and had an epiphany: Reese shoots people in the leg. All. The. Time.

This may not sound like a grand revelation; and if you are familiar with his Batman-ish vigilante code, you would understand why this is significant, but it started me thinking about what else we can count on with regularity here at the Vortex (It certainly isn't my posts-ha!). Here's your game:

Vortex Drinking Game

Every time you look at Jim Caviezel and cannot help thinking Jesus Christ!, take a shot.

Every time you wish you had a time machine to take you back to before you put your foot in your mouth, take a shot.

Every time someone alters "MacGyver" into a new part of speech (as in "I Macgyvered that dryer vent with duct tape"), take a shot.

Every time you watch Terra Nova and are tempted to feed the Shannon family to the dinosaurs so you can have Jim all to yourself, take a shot.

Every time you see man-titty on a novel cover, in homage to Fabio and Romancelandia, take a shot.

Every time you're watching a movie that tiptoes dangerously close to the creepy-older guy/too young girl romance (ala Thorn Birds, Portrait of Jeannie, Harum Scarum), take a shot.

Every time you wish Lost would come back, take a shot.

Every time you see a red telephone booth, take a shot.

Every time you see a chatchke that feeds into the Elvis Presley estate machine, take a shot.

Every time you hear a Keith Urban song and wish to go down under (take that how you will), take a shot.

Every time you feel the injustice of an unfair Words with Friends move, take a shot.

Every time someone speaks of the truth and your mind immediately heads for Mulder and Scully, take a shot.

Every time you hear the word quantum, take a shot.

Every time you see a close-up shot of Beth Chapman's talons or spiked heels on Dog the Bounty Hunter, take a shot. (Seriously, we got that she's a vixen already)

Every time you watch a Harry Potter movie or a Beavis and Butthead episode with another person who then insists on imitating the unique vocal qualities of either ad nauseum, take a shot.

Every time your watch stops, take a shot.

Happy Monday and Happy Drinking, everyone!

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Holy Shee-at, Bedazzled Purple Button

Somewhere in the brain scientists have yet to discover, I'm convinced there lies a mental button that when pressed leads to unquestioning jubilation, unfailing loyalty and a precise, resounding note in our soul's song. What should such a power button be labeled? Words like glee and awesome are watered-down. Holy shee-at!, while closer to the exuberance the button captures, seems to Lindsay-Lohan it up. I'm pretty sure mine is purple and bedazzled, but the real beauty is in finding what pushes it.

Remember when I told you I watched a 1948 movie called Portrait of Jeannie over the holidays? One obsession habit I have after watching a film is to hit imdb to find out more about the movie: goofs, trivia, Q&A, discussions. While I'm still on that movie-high (you know that high, right?), it's like breaking out the York Patties and hot cocoa with strangers who just took the same ride you did and are forever bound because of it. Yes, there are the jack-a-nubs who get on with bad grammar and comment on something as Linsday-ish as the visibility of the protagonist's nipples in a particular scene, but mostly they are people who love good stories and seek a deeper level of understanding.

The Portrait of Jeannie boards contain post after post of people who not only liked, not only adored, but obsess over this movie. Some had watched it two or three times in succession. They loved it so much they asked for other movies that would make them feel the high they felt at the movie's conclusion. Their Holy Shee-at! button had been pushed. And when I considered other movies that captured what I felt after watching it, I realized mine had been pushed as well. We had identical buttons. This movie, though seventy years old, hit the exact note of inspiration from which my fiction germinates. Every movie the imdb visitors suggested I had had the same visceral reaction to: time, love, gothic, dark, suspense.

So what is it about them that makes movies like The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and Somewhere in Time gather a subversive, cult-like following? Mattel produces a Rex Harrison and Gene Tierney Barbie/Ken set that probably sits adored somewhere deep in a Kansas farmhouse curio cabinet. Mackinac Island has a weekend where people gather from all over the world to be part of Somewhere in Time's Grand Hotel setting. I've certainly seen movies with better plot lines, better characters, more memorable themes. What is that magical, elusive note that makes people want to replay it over and over?

I can no more define it in myself than I can anyone else who also has this button. I can pinpoint market and genre and target demographics, but even that fails to satisfy. I could lay out a line about the redemptive power of second chances, the human urge to have a reset button in our journey, the belief that love surpasses all that we presently understand about our world. But that would be like a Devo song: sounds great until you actually try to understand it.

If you believe in the supernatural, let's call that note magic. If not, we label it luck. Either way, it is what writers spend a lifetime tuning and readers and audiences spend a lifetime listening for.

What pushes your button?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

I Charlie Sheen-ed Myself

Let's do some tidying, shall we? First, I enticed Vortexer Sherry to watch Unlikely Angel after my last post and was delighted to learn that I am not delusional or overly sentimental. It gave her that warm-all-over feeling in a sweet, non-Josh Holloway-kind-of-way, and she emailed to tell me about it.

The Time Twavel (I know, isn't that a corny Twitter-ish name?) Giveaway for retweets was a success. I hooked up with some fun new contacts and want to thank everyone who participated.

After being in Colorado for almost two weeks, I had some serious Vortex-obsessions to catch up on. Terra Nova (yes--I am still watching) dipped back into the time travel waters after being in campy-family Land of the Lost for too long. You can imagine my glee. I Charlie Sheen-ed myself in protest over my current Words With Friends battle when my random opponent insisted that qui was a word. Um, yeah. Last I checked, we weren't playing in Latin. I watched a 1948 movie called Portrait of Jeannie about a struggling artist who falls in love with a woman who visits him from the past (I know, right?). I also sank packed snow the size of a softball down a loved one's shirt. Does it get any better than that?

My domain renewal reminded me a few days ago that I began this whole blogging thing five years ago this month. Must. Think. Of. Celebratory. Fun. There were times I seriously considered giving it up but couldn't. You either love blogging or you don't. I guess I fall into the love category. Love of Fabio, fiction and all the Vortex holds sacred. Mostly, that's you reading this. Thanks for coming back year after year and being a special part of my writing journey.