Friday, July 20, 2007

Happy Birfday To Me

Yup. Today is my birthday. Yay me. I am 34 years old today (emphasis on the old).

What, you might be wondering, are my plans for this auspicious occasion? After all, 'tisn't every day one turns 34, is it? Well I'm glad you asked, even if you didn't ask, which is quite probably the case since I, in fact, am the one who asked. But since I meant the question to be from you, I am going to proceed as if you asked it, and not me.

Does that make sense?

I hope not.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes. My plans for the evening. Drinking? dancing? Writing? Enjoying myself?

Those all sound like good things to do on one's birthday. And since I am 34 and not, say, 17, I could do any one of them (except dancing...unless, of course, the dance in question is the "Funky White Guy Flopping Around Like A Trout On A Riverbank" dance. That one I can do). But if you guessed any of those, you would be wrong wrong wrong.

This year, I will be spending my birtday behind the wheel of my wife's Kia as we journey to Maine for our vacation. Now, I like being in Maine, and I like hanging out with the folks there and having an all around good time.

But the drive SUX. Yup, I spelled that with an X. I think I hear my old Spelling teacher rolling over in his grave, which I imagine must be unpleasant for him since he is still alive, but I digress.

Anyway, since I will be in the land of Green Pine Trees and Lotsa Lobstah, I will probably not be spending a great deal of time in cyberspace. So if y'all don't see me for a little bit, it's not because I'm down or being lazy, it's because I'm not home. :)

Talk to y'all later!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Thirteen People I Would Loooooooove To Meet Someday

Ok, I like the Thursday Thirteen meme (whatever a meme is), but I hate trying to come up with thirteen new things every week that someone other than me might find interesting. So I only post one occasionally, and I’m still not actually signed up with it. That’s OK, I’m too lazy, anyway. Today I am going to post about thirteen people I would love to meet.

The following list of people excludes some obvious choices like Pat, Adrienne, Chris, Aprilynne, Dawn, Thomma Lyn, etc. I think it stands to reason it would be cool to meet all those folks, so I’m going to leave this list to people who, one way or another, have had an effect on my life growing up (or ‘kinda’ growing up, since I still don’t think I have).

Thirteen people I would love to meet:

1. Morgan Freeman – Morgan Freeman has been at the very top of my list of favorite actors for as long as I can remember. I won’t say I’ve seen all his movies, but definitely most of them. I thought his performance in The Shawshank Redemption was incredible.

2. Ed Norton – Can you blame me? The man is a phenomenal actor. I’ve never seen him do a bad job in any movie. (On another note, Leonardo DiCaprio is another favorite, and extremely talented actor, and he would be on this list too if I’d known who he was when I was a kid).

3. Bill Watterson – Remember him? He created Calvin and Hobbes, easily one of the best comic strips of all time. His artwork inspired me to do better with my own. It was a sad, sad day when he decided to retire. I was bummed for a year.

4. Gary Larson - The Far Side cartoonist. His artwork showed me you don’t have to be able to draw like Bill Watterson to have a funny and successful comic strip. As you may or may not know, I also dabble in cartooning, and got used to being rejected when I tried to break into the newspaper page. I still doodle all the time, but my biggest success was a small newsletter in Georgia that gave me a position as staff cartoonist. In any case, that’s why there are three cartoonists on this list.

5. Jim Carrey – C’mon, who wouldn’t want to meet Jim and see if he’s as funny in real life as he is on camera?

6. Will Farrell – See the stuff I said about Jim Carrey? Copy and paste it here.

7. Stephen King – ‘Nuff said, methinks.

8. Margaret Weis – My favorite fantasy authors of all time are Marageret Weis and #9 on the list.

9. Tracey Hickman – Together with Weis, Hickman created and coauthored my favorite fantasy series, The Death Gate Cycle. If you have not read it, you should. Haplo and Alfred’s stories helped shape my desire to write.

10. Helen Hunt – I have had an insane crush on Helen Hunt ever since I was a teenager.

11. Matt Groening - Simpsons creator Matt Groening has turned a poorly drawn family (at least it was poorly drawn back in ‘88) into an American Icon. The Simpsons are my favorite show. Bar none. You can watch Lost, Heroes, and Scrubs all you want, I’ll take a dose of D’oh anyday.

12. Berkley Breathed – My favorite cartoonist of all time and the only one who’s autograph I have ever sought (and received. Thank You, Mr. Breathed). From Bloom County to Outland to the resurrected Opus, I have been a fan of Breathed’s humor and art since before I could read the words that were in the little balloons. He is my single biggest cartoon influence, and I’d love to meet him just to thank him for (along with my dad) instilling in me a desire to create.

13. Stan Lee – Spidey creator. ‘Nuff said.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Started Off Trying To Help Some Friends, And Got A Nice Surprise Of My Own

There is a small indy bookstore here in Knoxville, TN called Carpe Librum Books. While not very large, they are a very popular bookstore for people who would rather keep their money local than support the big chains. Nothing wrong with that, plus the place has a nice, cozy atmosphere. It feels like my library would feel if I had one. Homey.

So, I called there today with the intention of speaking to the manager about getting books for two of my friends on the shelf. I don't want to mention their names because I did not succeed. Suffice it to say that due to a lack of a returns policy (small press) I was unable to coerce the manager into stocking them.

That, of course, is not good news. It's sad news, because both books are great and written by great people. But what happened next was certainly good news.

On impulse, I asked them if they had ordered any copies of Lottery, by Patricia Wood. Not only had they not ordered any, but they hadn't a clue what I was talking about. I told them it was a Putnam release, and gave them a brief description of it. She seemed interested, so I took my ARC of Lottery to the store and let her look at it.

She read the back copy, looked over the cover, and took a few minutes reading the first few pages. Then she wrote down the ISBN number and added several copies to her Penguin/Putnam order while I stood there with a big grin on my face. Pat is an awesome person and if I could help at all, it was worth it.

I was rewarded on my way out by a small wicker basket I'd never noticed before. Inside this basket were books that, for one reason or another, the store could not sell, so they were giving them away for free.

Do you see where this is going?

Lots of ARCs were in that basket. :) For a recent ARC collector like myself, it was a treasure chest of uncorrected proofs. I dipped my greedy fingers into the pile and started pulling out books, smiling the whole time. I wanted to take them all, but instead I only grabbed three (my wife grabbed one, too): R.A. Salvatore's Road of the Patriarch, John Ringo's A Deeper Blue, and Steven Eriks' Deadhouse Gates.

All in all, definitely worth the trip. :) My only regret is that I didn't have Adrienne's book with me - I was caught reading it at work by a friend who demaded to be allowed to peruse it. She hasn't given it back yet, and I am starting to wonder if I will ever see it again.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Man, It Feels Good....

I haven't been writing much lately, I haven't felt like it. That's probably not the best way to begin a blog post, but I think y'all will forgive me just this once.

I'd like to use a tired old stand-by like "I haven't had the time" or "I haven't been able to think of something," but I'd be lying. The truth is I simply haven't felt motivated enough to write over the last few weeks. I had plenty of time. I had plenty of ideas to put on paper. I kept telling myself I'd write some tomorrow. Tomorrow. Then tomorrow again.

Tomorrow is a dangerous word. It's an even more dangerous concept. Before long, many tomorrows have come and gone and you find yourself wondering where you left off. It's a slow, lazy spiral of boredom and apathy, and it's very, very easy to fall into it. I easily could have gone another month or more without writing anything down except for the occasinal appearance in AW.

So what changed?

I got a few encouraging words. First, an author I enjoy gave me a blurb for my novel Chosen, which you can read here. That did my heart good, especially since I am so fond of Robinson's work.

Then, a friend of mine, Chris Stevenson (who himself recently sold two books to Rain Publishing from Canada - more on those later), sent me a nice email about the project I was working on when I got into my slump. It was a nice lift.

Then today I read a reply to one of my posts by Aprilynne Pike (see her blog here). It wasn't a huge message, and the part that got my attention was small. "Good to see you blogging again." You know, that little bit made my day. Not sure why. April is always quick with a congratulatory word for the smallest of accomplishments, and she's been waiting about a month longer than I have. She's an all-around nice person, and so are Pat, Adrienne, Thomma Lyn, Dawn, Chris, Michael, and about a dozen other folks who have visited and shared their experiences with me. Fantastic, giving people, and I consider myself very lucky they come here on occasion to visit.

Hell, I thought, if they didn't give up, neither will I.

So tonight, for the first time in six weeks, I found myself doing more at the comp than playing Unreal Tournament 2004 (which is still fun, even after 3 years). I hit the keys and managed to pound out 12 more pages in my current project, which is shaping up to be a breathless paranormal thriller. I am calling it Bait. For now, that's all I'm gonna say.

You know what? Writing felt good. I mean real good. Like one of those things you enjoy so much you can never figure out why you stopped doing it. Now I remember why I wanted to write for a living, because it's something that puts a smile on my face. It gives me a good feeling to piece together a story from an empty screen, and By Thunder, I'm gonna keep doing it.

And so, friends, this is me, happily tapping away at my keyboard again.

Thanks for listening, guys. :)

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Here's one I just don't understand....

This one caught me off guard.

Got a fast (5 days) rejection from Wizards of the Coast. Part of it, he said, is the editor is really "gun shy" about vampire fiction. I can dig that. There’s a lot of it around (Of course, there’s a lot of it around because people keep buying it. Can anyone say Stephanie Meyer? How many copies of Twilight sold, again?). Still, one can’t argue with editorial opinion, it won’t do any good and just makes ya look…well, you know…not good. So, hey, he didn’t want it. S'okay. It happens. Rejection is part of the biz.

What really threw me was the first line from the rejection:

“I'm going to have to pass on 33AD - too overtly Christian for us, probably better for that marketplace.”

Ok, now at the risk of sounding like I’m full of sour grapes, this is proof-positive that this editor didn’t read much, if any, of the book before he rejected it. There’s nothing Christian about it. In fact, there are several die-hard Christians in my office who wouldn’t even finish the book’s description. There is no way; no way at all 33AD would make it into the Christian fiction marketplace. There’s not a single Christian editor who would touch it with a ten foot pole. Any more than the movie Dracula 2000 would be considered Christian (if you haven’t seen the movie, I won’t ruin it for you, but it links Dracula to Jesus).

Again, you can’t argue with editorial opinion, but sheeeesh.

Well, that’s 3 rejections so far. Berkley (too controversial), Del Rey (ditto), and Wizards of the Coast (too...Christian?).