What what? Two posts in a week? That's crazy! The Mayans were right! Run for your lives!

...wait, never mind, that last post was on Friday, so this is technically a new week. Move along. Nothing to see here.

I used to post much more frequently. Technically I'm supposed to be past my busy time of year and have more time for posting, but my editors turned over content two months late. Don't worry. In educational publishing, that's early. But it leaves me two weeks to do the work for which I should have seven. Huzzah!

I am typing this out, though, because I've been noticing a lot of blog-fading going on without much explanation as to why. I see a lot of apologies when they post, which I was doing as well. After awhile that gets tiring. I get it. You're sorry. But if you can't post five times a week like you used to, then post once a week and announce there is a change. Better that then apologizing every week when you only post once.


Anyway, I've been posting here less. It has nothing to do with you guys. You're great. I like having you here, and conversing with you in the comments. It's because I didn't make it where I wanted to make it in 2011. I'm getting tired of blogging about writing. We all start there, because that's what we have in common, but so much of the conversation on the industry has turned vitriolic, that I don't feel like participating in that any more.

And really, I wanted to talk about other things, exciting things, new things that you can't get on other blogs. I wanted to talk about my writing. Specifically that I had signed with an agent, that we had gone on submission, that I was going to have a book coming out, and so many of the other things that I deal with on a professional level as a project manager in educational publishing but not as a writer in trade publishing.

This isn't a writing blog. Hell, it's not a blog at all, as I so often say. It's a journal. I want to talk about things that are happening, but right now, the same things are happening that happened last year. I have an agent looking at my work. I'm waiting patiently. I'm writing new things. Washing, Rinse, Repeat. I feel like I'm just blowing hot air until I can deliver on what I say I'm going to do. I am going to sign with an agent. I am going to get a book deal. I am going to accomplish my goals. And when I start another new manuscript, it gets hard to come here and tell you how excited I am.

Incidentally, I'm really excited about my current works in progress. What's Behind the Crooked Door is unlike anything I've written before. Beneath a Sundered Sky is the story I've wanted to write since I was five. That really jazzes a person up. Things are awesome! They could be awesomer [ahem, unnamed agent reading my stuff right now]. I hope eventually they will be awesomest [I'm a winner! Really! Pick me!]. But until then, I'll make do with awesome.

I hope my lack of posting does not reflect poorly on what I have to say.

An Excess of Riches

I'm learning something new about myself. When I have a full requested by an agent I like, I stop querying. It's not an intentional, "This is it. No need to send these things out any more!" It's more of a, "Damn, that's hard work. I'll get to it later." Later just happens to come after I hear back on my full request.

That's not entirely true. Later will come after a month or two before my common sense kicks me in the back of the head and says, "What are you waiting for? That's two months another agent might have been interested in your work!" My common sense wears cleats, so I don't like it when it kicks me in the back of the head.

But, here I've received a full request and here I'm not sending out queries even though I should be. Really, I should have been sending out queries for the past two months. I even had multiple rounds of feedback from Jennifer S. Wolf. So you'd think I'd be all over that.

Well, then I had a new idea for a novel, and I wrote that instead. Then I revised that novel. And the day before I finished revising that novel to send to beta readers, an agent asked me for a full of a third manuscript. So querying seems so out of place.

Oh woe is me! I sent a new novel to beta readers and received a full request for a separate novel so I don't feel up to querying a third novel. Gee, Joe, that must be a rough life you're leading there.

It's actually kind of awesome. It's also kind of confusing. My process has been: write a book, query a book, write a new book, get rejected, query new book, write a third book, get rejected, and so on. This whole revise a book, write a book, send off a full, query a book makes me all dizzy!

So all that self-aggrandizement is really meant to say, query. Don't sit back and wait. It is not in your best interest. At worse you garner multiple rejections (okay, at worse you garner someone telling you you have no talent and should stop breathing) and at best you garner multiple offers of representation and can declare a Thunderdome among agents to see who you will pick.

Either way, there isn't much reason for you to rest on your Laurels. Your Laurels are tired of you resting on them. They told me so. Get to work and give your Laurels a break. They work hard enough as it is without having to put up with your ass in their faces.

Anti-Social Socializing

I am not anti-social. In fact, I love being the center of attention. I have wanted to be the storyteller since I was five, lying about the size of the frog I caught1. The trick is, there are a lot of social situations where I cannot be the center of attention, and in those cases I find I would much rather be writing.

Most often, this is a barbershop party. My wife is in a competitive a capela barbershop chorus and quartet and those folks love to party. When they party, they sing. I can't sing2. So I hang out while they sing. They're good people and we converse at times, but really, it's a party where everyone else is singing. I would rather write, but I feel that's rude. I don't want to sit in the corner on my computer. So...I sit in the corner with my liquor. It's marginally more social.

Any more, it seems I measure all social engagements against writing time. Knowing that I've already had two hours to write that day, would the time spent socializing be more fun than more writing. If yes, then yay! If no, then...can I bring my computer just in case?

1 It was THIS big!

2 I'm told I could sing very well with proper training, but I consider that training writing time and would not sacrifice the one for the other.


So there's a lot of chatter on Twitter lately about blog designs and website builds and etc etc. If you have not been to my website, this is the minimum level of quality I expect for a user-created website. Blogger and like services are expanding their styles to blend the boundaries between blogs and websites, but for the moment, I continue to contend they serve two different purposes. There are different graphical designs and interfaces that best accomplish those purposes, and as such, the two should be separate entities. I am in the minority on this one. Most new authors and aspiring authors seem to think blogs are enough. Established authors have blogs integrated into their own sites, so either way you get a single-platform delivery, though the latter is an achievement that most of us could not do and most services do not make easy for us (or if it's easy, it's not cheap).

I saw a really nice website today and my first thought was, "How pretty. Too bad it's crap."

What what? Why is it crap if it's pretty. Well, obviously, something could focus on its esthetic without accomplishing its purpose as a platform to introduce users to you and your work. In this case, its splash page was covered with Flash animation. Now, me being of a certain age, I was on computers when the internet first became available to the public at large, so things like Flash animation still dazzle. I didn't just build personal pages in Geocities. I used Angelfire too. These are the old build-your-own page and fill it with animated gifs and blinking fonts sites. Flash? Super awesome compared to the way things were.

Unfortunately, Flash has not evolved fast enough. While you may not be thinking about it now, you need to start thinking about mobile delivery. View your site on an Android and/or iOS phone and see the difference. For me, unfortunately, the template service I used to build my site does not offer fill scripting functionality, so I have to (*shudder*) use tables to format the page to look the way I want it. Tables no worky on mobile platforms, which is why I'm formulating a redesign in my brain. The thing is, Flash no worky either. Sure OSes like Android and WebOS claim to have Flash functionality, and to a degree this is true. But it's not full Flash. It's a mobile Flash and Air support and both are reportedly buggy.

When you do all those snazzy things on your site with Flash like have your name come swooping in front the side? Unless your site is specifically coded to adapt to users that don't have Flash functionality, your name is missing from the page. Or worse, you get a big ass question mark because your phone lacks the necessary plug-in to run the animation. You want your website looking in tip-top shape in any format a user may view it in.

So when next you contemplate a redesign to your site and perhaps think on splurging a little for some professional work, here are some things to think on:

  • No Flash
  • NO tables. None.
  • No frames except for iFrames. Old-style frames are like tables except scroll bars appear at the edge of them, meaning you may have a scroll bar in the middle of your page, which looks dumb.
  • iframes are okay. iframes aren't like old-style frames. They're a little pop-up window that pops up within the page. It looks like a Flash animation but is actually JavaScript
  • If the producer is capable, make the build HTML5 compliant. Capable or not, they should be working with JavaScript (js) and cascading style sheets (css)
  • No files necessary for your site to function (such as .js files) should be hosted on the produces server. Get that thing for yourself and host it with the rest of your site. You are fully autonomous. If they flake out and delete all their content they ever worked on, this should not affect you in the slightest.
  • No audio/video auto-play. Only emo teenagers auto-play music.

Bordering on the Ridiculous

Sara Megibow posted recently that she "did her part to help Borders" by buying a book there. And all I can think is, you either screwed the publisher or screwed the author by buying there. If Borders doesn't pay for the books it's selling, someone has to take the loss. Either the publisher will take that hit, or they won't count is as a sale and the author will take the hit or maybe they'll both share a little bit in the screwage. Either way, the only way they get paid is if Borders recovers and Borders isn't going to recover.

The "doing her part" thing is what bothers me. All of a sudden there's some kind of community obligation to save Borders from itself. And yes, Borders brought this on itself. It used to be dominant over Barnes & Noble and while sure Amazon dramatically upended the industry, it could just as well be Barnes & Noble teetering on bankruptcy while Borders becomes the last brick and mortar mega-bookstore. Bad management, poor planning and implementation, bad business. And for as frequently as agents remind authors that writing is a business, that fact never seems to apply to bookstores. Borders is a business and it failed. Yes it represented the third-largest book seller in the industry (not represents like some are still saying--if it's not paying publishers, it's the largest book thief in the industry).

Borders does not have such loyal clientele that if it goes out of business, they'll quit reading. This isn't something we need to do to save the industry. It represents a marked difference in methodology with its competitors, one that I've liked as a customer. But it is simply incapable of functioning as a business, so that doesn't matter. To buy at Borders now is to effectively buy a pirated copy of the book.

I can't help think of Amtrak. Not a lot of you have been on an Amtrak train. That's why the government gives them money every year to stay in business. They don't draw customers. Amtrak tickets are the same or more expensive than flying and the trip time is five times as long. We "save" Amtrak every year because the only companies interested in buying it are European and we couldn't have that. Better to throw millions of dollars to a company that doesn't know how to function in its own business than to let Europeans try and make a profit on American soil.

While I am liberal in most of my political persuasions, this is one instance where the free market is doing exactly what it's supposed to do. Borders has failed as a company. It will now go out of business and its marketshare will be taken by those capable enough to do so. This isn't a cause for writers and industry insiders to rally around. There is no noble cause here. They weren't the victim of monopolization or unfair government pressures. They were a business that failed to do what it set out to do.

It's time we turn our attention to those companies that are still surviving. You want to do your part, buy a book from a store that actually pays the people that make the book.

Loose Sheep

Writing a novel is a daunting thing. It doesn't happen in a day, so it's easy to forget things that you introduced early on. One of the things you have to do during revision is find all the loose threads and take care of them. You may miss things. You can be so focused on making sure each word choice is the best and the pacing is appropriate that you might ignore something that feels inconsequential to the character, but thematically (and to the reader) is very important.

In my case, driving to work today, I was trying my hand (YET AGAIN) at writing a query that will grab people's attention. What I came up with exposed an unresolved plot issue so large that I can't even call it a loose thread. It's the entire damn fleece. It's a loose sheep.

Jehovah's mother sold her children to get passage to the platform city up above. Jehovah goes up above and not once do I address his mother (at least I don't remember doing so). What the hell am I thinking? If I were a reader and went through a book that didn't address this issue, I would have many course words for the talent of the author.


From the Rejectionist, here's what finding a loose sheep feels like:

Waning Fanaticism

I follow George Martin on LiveJournal. I thrilled to see the amazing actors that will perform in "A Game of Thrones." (Peter Dinklage!!!!) I have watched the trailers and am anxious to see the finished product in hopes that it will be as great as it appears. I even follow A Game of Thrones on twitter.

Sometimes I see responses to that twitter account by other followers and it reminds me, I'm just not into the story as I once was.

Friends introduced me to the series when A FEAST FOR CROWS first came out, and I bounced on it. I read all four books in a row and was just as enthralled as they were. But now? By the time A DANCE WITH DRAGONS releases, it will have been a minimum of six years since CROWS came out. I say minimum because there's no guarantee the book will actually release in 2011. It was supposed to release every September for the last three years.

There's a lot of "don't judge until you've been there" about this whole thing. How could anyone understand what it takes to...blah blah blah. It's an invitation for fate to smote me with their lightning bolt of humility, but at the moment, I really don't care. Six years for a novel that doesn't even advance the plot from where the previous book ended. It simply parallels it.

I fully expect this series to go unfinished or to follow THE WHEEL OF TIME and require a different author to finish it. This also influences my interest in the TV show. If it's a rave success and they cover a book per season, and (assuming DANCE comes out this year), the next book won't be released by the time the series has run its course.

Two years used to be a standard for fantasy. When I was growing up, an author had two years to put out the next installment of a series. Somewhere in the nineties that started to balloon. In the aughts, turn around time for the major names has become ridiculous. Of the major best sellers, only Williams and Sanderson seem capable of producing content on any type of schedule.

As a fan, this is incredibly frustrating. As an aspiring author, I cannot fathom how a person is managing their time if they write full time and cannot produce a finished book in over half a decade.

I list Martin and his series on my website as a favorite. And he is and it is, but the more time goes by the more this changes. I can't really call myself a fan of a series if the series no longer exists, can I?

What about you? What are your thoughts?

Hurry Up, Technology!

I've made this complaint before, but we need those dream records they have in "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within." I had a sequel/continuation to a previous dream. Both of them were awesome. Both of them vanished from my brain the moment I woke up. I have little broken pieces, images mostly, floating around in my brain. But it was SUCH a good story. It focuses on a young adult and given how dark YA has been skewing lately, I think could be fit in that genre. The protagonist is a young girl, maybe 14 or so? New Zealander I think, or somewhere around there. She's put in a facility for problem children and...something.

This story blew my mind. It was so heart wrenching and poignant. I don't think I could ever just take these few scraps and craft the story that I saw. Sometimes it feels like I'm not even dreaming, that I'm watching someone else's life. That if I could just record it, I'd have a story more true to form and detailed than anything I could craft with my imagination.

But it's in a dream! It's trapped there, and I can't get to it!!!!

Little pig, little pig, let me in!!!!!1

1 Not by the hair on my chinny chin...frontal lobe.

No One Likes a Dumb Protagonist

The subject line says it all. No one likes a dumb protagonist. We accept flawed characters and we accept that situations can be shrouded in mystery or so layered that a character cannot comprehend it on spec. They need time to peel back the layers or let the whole thing soak in before it finally clicks. This is all well and good. It's even better. No one wants a story so superficial that there's no depth or complexity to the challenges the main character faces. They need to unravel it all.

HOWEVER, as they unravel it, you have to be cautious about how you give them clues or what clues you give them. They need to figure out what's happening at one of two possible times. Near the end to propel them to the climax. Or near the beginning where they realize X is happening and thus need to begin the investigation that will lead them to the climax. If you are going for scenario A but give them a clue large enough that they should figured it out closer to the beginning, you have officially made your character stupid. Some clues are such a fish to the face that anyone with an IQ of 100 should be able to figure it out. So when your character doesn't... yeah, exactly.

I'm reading CATCHING FIRE (sequel to THE HUNGER GAMES) and Katniss just got slapped in the face. In a single paragraph, she said the fish was in fact a badger and continued on as if nothing happened. No, see dear, when you do that, I care for you less. When your obliviousness leads you to trouble later, I figure you deserved it because you were too stupid to realize someone just hit you in the face with a fucking fish. That kind of thing hurts. The scales scratch you all over. They used to use that as a punishment in biblical times. It's not a badger. They're furry and shit.

Decide when your character is going to figure things out, beginning or end, and measure out the progression accordingly. Do NOT switch the two because any later emotional conflict caused is completely deserved and then your reader is not engaged with your character. And if your reader is not engaged with your character, your reader is not engaged with your book. That's when they set it down and go read something else. You don't want that to happen. You want your book to be the one they read instead of finishing their own manuscript because it's that good. Use your fish appropriately.

The Six Books of Harry Potter

Nathan Bransford invited readers to post comments about Harry Potter on their own blogs and link back in his, for which this post is created. Depending on how long you've been following me, you might have listened to the episode of the PodgeCast or even read the older post on my LiveJournal that covered the matter. Rather than digging through all that, I will repost here why I think the seventh book should be erased from the collective memory.


Molly Weasley vs. Bellatrix Lestrange


Like many of the previous novels in the series, HPDH lacked a firm editorial hand1. The 300-page trek through the woods was interminable. At least 100 pages could have been cut from that scene without detracting from the story.

The climax of HPHBP enumerates a number of rules for the final book. Harry is chasing after Snape and not having any success at all. Snape tells him that he'll never succeed without learning how to cast without speaking. More over, if Harry ever hopes to face Voldemort, he must first defeat Snape. Neither of these issues are addressed in book 7.

Never, not once ever, does Harry cast a spell without speaking in the seventh book. When it comes to the final conflict, it has no bearing whatsoever to the outcome.

Harry never faces Snape. Nagini kills Snape while Harry watches, so really, the whole ending of book 6 is negated.

WORSE, that negation also reduces Dumbledore's sacrifice. Why did he let Snape kill him? To protect the Elder Wand. Snape defeats Dumbledore and thus is the owner of the Elder Wand. Harry is supposed to defeat Snape so he can get the Elder Wand. The Elder Wand is one of three items that GIVE THE BOOK ITS NAME! That plotline is entirely disregarded.

Lupin and Tonks die so that Harry can be father to an orphan, bringing to a ridiculous conclusion to the character arcs of two of the most reasonable characters in the series up to that point. They throw their lives away to avoid responsibility2 and their deaths are a complete throw-away. It's not even a scene of the book.

Harry sends Ginny, the most badass combat wizard of the group, away at the end of the sixth book. And she stays away. What character is this? Certainly not the one that had grown into a strong-minded woman in the two previous books3.

And the clincher, JKR's comments following the publication of the book. No, not that Dumbledore was gay. Who gives a shit about that? No, she made two comments that just make me wonder how she managed to write such an amazing series in the first place as she seems completely out of touch with her own characters.

Blog post 1: JKR answers the questions of what happened to the characters after the end of the series. Harry and Ron become aurors and revolutionize the field. AYFKM?!?!? Neither of them are smart enough to be aurors much less to revolutionize the field. They lucked into potions class and would never have been able to last in any long-term capacity in that profession.

MORE IMPORTANTLY, she had created an arc she never resolved. Voldemort had tried to be the Dark Arts professor and failed. Following, the school never had another professor for more than a year. Being his opposite and given his proven track record at surviving the dark arts (and experience leading DA), Harry should have taken on the roll to break the curse. Ron could have taken his self-confidence and gone on to play professional Quidditch, which is the only activity he ever truly loves in the entire series.

Blog post 2: JKR says she crafted the ending specifically for Harry to represent Jesus in an effort to draw readers to Christ through her fiction. Hey, if that's what she wants to do, that's her choice. But to accomplish it, she derailed her own series and turned it in a direction where she could recreate Good Friday in a wizard combat zone. Never sacrifice your story for your message. A skillful author could use the former to deliver the latter.

Adendum 1: I also contend that Neville is more popular because of the movies than he is because of the book. JKR uses Dobby as the character that arrives with the timely answer (e.g., gillyweed). In the movies, they use Neville who is a lot cheaper than a CGI house elf. Not only did it work, it was BETTER than the books. It fit the character better and fleshed it out. The Neville of the books never got any real attention (other than being a practical joke) until HPOP, whereas the movies began his evolution one story earlier in HPGF. While he gets a great scene in the final book, I wonder how much attention he would have got if he hadn't grown so popular.

Adendum 2: What would have been cool? In HPPS/HPSS (depending on your nationality), Ron is the knight and has to sacrifice himself for Harry to continue on to the end. If that had been paralleled in the final book, it would have been a stroke of genius.

1 After the series became popular, there became a standard format to any Harry Potter novel. Part 1: Main plot. Part 2: Awesome subplot. Part 3: Lame subplot.

Parts 2 and 3 always got equal attention and swelled the book well beyond an appropriate page count. Parts 3 from every novel could have been chopped with no loss to character or primary plot flow. It would have just chucked lameness that we all had to wade through like we were sewer workers or something.

2 I have yet to meet a (sane) mother who would sacrifice the life of her kid to be with her husband while he runs off to get himself killed.

3 In all their previous fights, Harry and Ron have required a third person to force them back together. When Ron returns with the sword, it should have been Ginny hauling him there with whatever cattle prod Ron needs that book. They abandoned their strongest weapon and the story abandons her too4.

4 I will admit to some bias, as she's my favorite character, but really. If you're going to war, you don't send the guy with the machine gun home because it's dangerous. Certainly the guy with the machine gun doesn't stay home once he's there.

Stuart Greenman has the right of it

Livia Blackburne tipped me off to Stuart Greenman's entry into the Bulwer-Lytton bad writing contest. In one sentence (and pay attention, it really is one sentence), Stuart Greenman shows everything that drives me nuts about fantasy:

A quest is not to be undertaken lightly--or at all!--pondered Hlothgar of the Western Boglands, son of Glothar, nephew of Garthol, known far and wide as Skull Dunker, as he wielded his chesty stallion through the ever-darkening Thlargwood, beyond which, if he survived its horrors and if the royal spittle reader spoke true, his destiny awaited--all this though his years numbered but fourteen.

Let that soak in a little.

Humility Has Its Limits

My routine on a writing week and a reading week are pretty similar. Spend an hour on the commuter rail either reading or writing. Spend 20 minutes on the subway reading. (Writing on the subway is very difficult, and I do it very infrequently). While I have a number of samples and one novel on my nook I still need to finish, I opted for this week to take a book off my bookshelf that I never finished.

Really, I only got a couple pages in and put it down. Having bought CORDELIA'S HONOR for the first time when I bought this other title, I switched to that and then promptly read Bujold's entire catalogue. Clearly it got left behind. But I'm back, aware of what I didn't like and trying to soldier past to get to the meat of the story.

The book fell open at one point and I saw the acknowledgments. I decided to give them a read. Ever since Nathan Bransford posted a link to another agent's blogpost saying that it was dangerous for writers not to include their agents and editors in the acknowledgments (and their assistants!), I look to see if they are included.

Thus, I've been reading a lot of acknowledgments lately. And while agents and editors do always appear, I've noticed another trend: over–self-deprication. It's one thing to acknowledge the people who made your work better. I certainly do. But it's another thing entirely to spend a page enumerating all the different ways you suck as an author. If you are incapable of forming coherent paragraphs, crafting related scenes, or in any other way forming a story that is capable of moving from beginning to end without other people performing life-saving surgery, what the fuck are you doing writing a book? No wonder editors never have any time. They take incoherent pieces of shit and rework them into books. Or so these acknowledgments would have me believe.

Humility has its limits, people. At some point you stop sound modest and start sounding lucky. You're lucky that a bunch of people took pity on your ineptitude and let you leech off their talent while still slapping your name on the front cover. Do you have talent? Do you have skill? These are not things to be embarrassed by. Did they make your work better? Give them the credit they've earned. But don't tell me, your reader, that you aren't any good. If you aren't, I'll return your book and go find someone more worthwhile.

And as an aspiring writer, this is even more frustrating. What the hell, people? Look at all these talentless hacks getting multiple books published. I wouldn't have thought them talentless hacks, but then I read their acknowledgments page and they told me so. It simultaneously offends me that talentless hacks are getting multi-book deals while I'm still getting rejected AND kicks me in the junk because talentless hacks are getting multi-book deals while I'm still getting rejected. You'd rather spend all that time working with a talentless hack than me?

Unless, of course, they aren't talentless hacks, in which case they really need to chill out on the acknowledgments page.

What if Books Were Like TV

Following the recommendation of many, many people, I finally got around to renting the first disc of season 1 of "White Collar" (that's the USA show that stars Chuck's Bryce Larkin as a conman working for the feds). I have to say, the pilot really hooked me. It wasn't as flimsy as I thought it was going to be. Characters got some depth and there was a really interesting supporting cast.

One of my favorite things to do with television is to watch a series pilot and then see what changes when the pilot is picked up. For those of you that don't know, a pilot is shot and given to the studio to determine whether they're going to pick up the show for a season (or a half season or a handful of episodes, etc). This means, a pilot may be good enough to get the series picked up, but certain tweaks happen when the series begins, usually with the supporting cast or particular character traits.

(Look at Agent Gibbs' team when he appears in JAG compared to when NCIS became its own series. Those people are never mentioned again. Likewise, compare how much pop culture Gibbs knows in Yankee White compared to the rest of the series.)

What amuses me the most about this juxtaposition is that the show so rarely acknowledges the people that are no longer there. They might get a one-line good-bye if they're acknowledged at all. Or, if the effect they have on the plot is relevant (such as June giving Bryce a place to stay), that effect may remain while the character vanishes.

Can you imagine what it would be like if books were like that? More and more, authors are gimmicking out the book-by-chapter sales. Or the choose the direction of the story contests. Can you imagine what it would be like to read a story where certain characters are determined not to be best and just abandoned or completely retconned in later chapters?

Is it because it's in print that we'd be upset? Or is it just that television has done it for so long that we're used to it? I can't imagine reading a book where a secondary character is replaced by a similar but distinctly different character in chapter 5 without explanation. Or perhaps we accept that the entire story is told in a book and the author is given time to go back and revise; whereas, it would not make sense to reshoot a pilot episode with new characters. Still, I always want to turn the network and say, "You know I see that. Right? I see the difference."

Sometimes it's actually a good thing. Some characters don't work or the writers threw in the kitchen pot trying to make the network like them, and you get the most ridiculous characters. Sometimes, like in the case of Burn Notice, it's a step back.

I liked the pilot cast. I was actually shocked at how progressive it was. Sure the two leads were both white males, but the supporting cast was four black people and two white people. Of those six people, four of them were women. And of those four women, one of them was a lesbian. As American television goes, that's a whole lot of minority for a non-minority focused show.

By the third episode, we're down to two women and two men. One of them is black and one is latina, but the lesbian is gone. Now IMDB tells me June and Diana come back, but I'm disappointed at the loss of Denise Vasi's Cindy. I thought she acted well, I liked her confidence, and it was nice having a female that would be totally immune to the charming main character's whiles. I also appreciated how little emphasis they put on her sexuality. Too often the "gay" character requires quotes because the writers make such a big deal of it that it becomes a distraction, as if gay people aren't capable of working in a normal, every-day environment.

I'm not sure if I'll stick with this show. The episode I just watched failed pretty horribly as a procedural. And actually it failed worse than normal. It made an effort to point out that FBI Agent can't use the gold coin because it was obtained illegally, but then a confession is taken based on the stolen gold coin. Any evidence deriving from illegally obtained evidence would be thrown out. The entire episode is a road map of how to let two criminals escape any kind of prosecution.

If you're going to be a procedural, you have to get your procedures close enough to the truth that the armchair-lawyers don't see the gaping hole you drove your plot through.