Meme: Blog of DOOOOOOMMMM!!!!

Ted Cross (of Ted Cross fame) passed along a blog award called the BLOG OF DOOM!!!! While normally I shy away from blog awards, this one is full of DOOM! How could I pass that up?

The Rules:

1. When you receive the Blog Award of DOOM your task is to post a short selection of your writing, 100-300 words, in which your favorite character suffers a horrible fate. It can be your favorite character from your own writing or from something you've read, it can be from a finished manuscript, a WIP or something you just made up on the spot. Your choice, but it has to be full of DOOM!

2. Pass it on to one other blogger and let them know their DOOM has come.

3. Remember that the person who passed the award on to you also received it as well. Go back to their post to read and comment on their writing sample. Make sure to thank them for sending the DOOM your way.

4. Whenever you use the word DOOM in your post, you must capitalize the whole thing.

As such, I will tap Nate Wilson who seems like a ridiculously nice fellow. Let us see his dark side. I'll also give a nod to Jennifer Hillier whose debut thriller CREEP releases July 5th.

As for my own offering of DOOM! I have picked an excerpt from an epilogue that originally appeared at the end of my dystopian sf manuscript, JEHOVAH'S HITLIST. It did not make the final cut (a pun!), but I will most likely post it as a short story here on the site. See after the jump for...DOOM!!!!

(Also, for some context, this scene features quadruplet brothers all of whom are named Joe.)

Epilogue...of DOOM!

The water wasn't stopping. It was rising and fast. Seated on the ground, it already came up to their bellies.

“What do we do?” Joe3 screamed.

“Climb.” Joe1 pointed at a ledge above them. They scanned the wall for handholds but there weren't any to be found.

“On me,” Joe1 said. They used to play this game when none of them was tall enough to jump to the fire escape ladder on their own. Joe2 hopped on Joe1's shoulders. It was hard to keep their balance with the water pounding against them, harder still when Joe3 climbed up to stand on Joe2's shoulders.

“I got it!” Joe3 called back down.

“What about Joe?” Joe2 asked of his youngest brother.

“I'll hand him up once you got yerselves a perch,” Joe1 said. Their youngest brother by a few hours sat between his legs, unconscious and bleeding.

Joe3 found himself a stable spot and hung upside down. He grabbed Joe2 by the wrists and hauled him up. Then he flipped upside down, Joe3 taking him by the ankles. They hung down and reached. The water was over Joe4's head now, up to Joe1 chest even though he was standing.

Joe1 fought hard to pull his brother up out of the water, the current trying to suck him under completely and wash him away down the street. Joe4's head broke the water. He coughed violently, confused but conscious.

“I don't need no bath, Anna,” he insisted, slapping at Joe1.

Joe1 wrapped his arms around him and threw him upward inch by inch until he was almost sitting on his shoulders. He was high enough Joe2 could grab his shirt and hoist him up.

By the time they got Joe4 situated so he wouldn't knock himself off again, the water was up to Joe1's shoulders.

“Yer turn,” Joe2 shouted, hanging upside down again.

“I cain't! The water's too strong!” Joe1 did his best to hold onto the wall, but the water still roared through the crack in the wall, washing everything away.

“You got to!” Joe2 yelled.

“I cain't!”

“You got to! You said you was gonna teach me how t'whistle. I cain't whistle!”

The water rose up over Joe1's head, turning any response into bubbles.

“Joe!” his brothers screamed, but his head never reappeared.

Joe2 kicked at Joe3's hands until Joe3 dropped him. He dove into the water after his brother. He never came up from the water. Joe3 jumped in shortly after.

Joe4 lay on the precipice of the building, bleeding and confused. He watched his brothers drown. He did not cry when the water rose past the second floor, when it lapped at his face, or when it eventually overtook him. He did not try to run.

He had always done everything with his brothers.

Impacted: A Meme

A forum I frequent started a meme today. Write as a scene a memory that informed your life. My response was a little longer than I felt appropriate for a forum, so I decided to put it here instead.

He liked watching the numbers. Elevators weren't as fun as escalators, but at least they showed you the numbers as you moved up the floors. For this reason, Joe was very frustrated that his sisters kept pushing him behind them.

"I want to see," he said for the third time. He tried to wedge his way between them, but they being twice his size simply pressed their hips together and trapped him in the rear.

"You can't. We have to keep you hidden," one of his sisters said. Joe bristled at this. Why did they need to keep him hidden? Had he done something wrong? Were they ashamed of him?


"Because you're a little kid and little kids have germs. You could get people sick, and they could die. You're not allowed to be here."

His bristling turned to outright offense. They were making that up so they could keep him from watching the numbers go up. A kid couldn't make someone die just by being there. Were they suggesting he was going to hurt someone? He wasn't going to hurt anyone. It wasn't his idea to come here. They brought him along and now they were being mean and lying to him.

"If I'm not allowed to be here then why am I here?"

"Because Dad is here."

Dad had been sick for a long time. He and Mom had been gone. She had come back, but he was here. If he was sick and little kids could kill sick people then the last thing they should be doing is bringing him here. Hadn't anyone thought of that until now? How was the three year old the smartest person in the elevator?

Joe struggled away from them, not like t here was anywhere to go. An elevator wasn't an escalator. He couldn't just walk down the stairs backward. The doors opened and someone put a hand on his back, ushering him out. This was clearly a bad idea. He willed someone--anyone--to realize what a bad idea this was, but no one said anything. He didn't say anything.

A nurse met them in the lobby and told them where to go. She bent over to talk to Joe in that voice adults use to speak to little kids because they assume they're stupid. He hated that voice. She told him that he was a lucky boy. Most children weren't allowed to come here. He just needed to make sure if he had to sneeze that he cover his mouth with both hands.

Lucky lady? My dad is sick, I'm a walking death sentence, and they're taking me right to him. How is that luck?

He didn't say anything. He just nodded and followed his sisters down the hall.

Big 5-0

Elizabeth Poole has passed 50 followers on her blog, leaving us little 15 subscriber folks in the dust! In celebration of this milestone, she has called for a blog fest! Take your older writing and post it to show what kind of writers we used to be! Now I've lost a lot of my older stuff over the course of repeated moves in my immediate post-college career. You can still listen to my short story "The End of Bliss".

So with that in mind, CONGRATULATIONS LIZ!

I thought I would instead post chapter two from my first completed novel, BLACK MAGIC AND BARBECUE SAUCE. It did not get picked up by an agent because its main character is Poseidon. He's a thief. I'm told this makes the story too much like Percy Jackson. Read the following chapter and tell me if you agree.

October 8, 2006
Cardinals 6, Padres 2

“Penultimate, man! There is no other way to describe it than penultimate!” Cy Lekkas wields a chicken drummie like a scepter, Weck-n-Wings' patented Nuclear Sauce flinging onto the table as if he were anointing it with holy water. The table matches his curly brown hair, most of his face, his St. Louis Cardinals baseball jersey, and his jeans, all of which have been sanctified by barbecue sauce at some point during the night.

The man across from him doesn't mind—or even notice. Beer has been flowing freely for hours and the night is still young. The Cardinals made short work of the Padres and are on their way to the championship series and, barring a spectacular collapse, will be the 2006 World Series champs.

“The St. Louis Cardinals are going to be the 2006 World Series champs!” Cy shouts, raising his drummie high in royal decree. The restaurant erupts in cheers. This might be considered a frustrating disruption to the dinner of non-baseball-watching patrons. Such a consideration is not feasible in St. Louis because there are no non-baseball-watching patrons, not in St. Louis, not in a place like Weck-n-Wings.

Weck-n-Wings is a chicken wing joint. The menu offers salads and shrimp, but the only people that eat those things are ex-employees and people that have no soul. For everyone else, there are wings, drummies, and sixteen different barbecue sauces from mild and sweet to Nuclear, a sauce that has earned its name. And like any good wing joint, there are copious amounts of beer. The walls are covered with big-screen LCDs offering every sport aired on TV: baseball, basketball, football, hockey, cricket, Aussie rugby (Union), and even curling. Curling is unnaturally popular. What space is left on the walls is filled with smaller screens with trivia games. The servers—all female—are the most beautiful, nubile specimens in the city and that is by design.

“If they win the series, I'm going to go to California and have a plastic surgeon implant a womb, right here,” the man says, rubbing his belly. “Then I'm going to go find Pujols, and I'm going to have his baby. I'm going to make love to him right there in the locker room, and I'm going to give him another child.”

“Sweet, sweet man love.” Cy has no idea who the man is, why the baseball star needs another child, or why that child wouldn't be conceived with his wife rather than a stranger, but he's wearing a Cardinals jersey so they are brothers.

“It's not man love if I have a womb,” he rebukes. “I'm going to give him a child. It's special.” The man looks visibly distraught at Cy's obvious lack of regard for the miracle of life.

Cy scrunches his face, pondering the miracle of life through a haze of Budweiser and the heady aroma of Nuclear Sauce—which he notices has dripped all down his forearm. He begins licking it clean as he ponders.

“But how is his semen going to get to your egg? And do eggs come with the womb or do you have to buy those separate? You'll need fallopian tubes. And a vagina. You gotta get the whole nine yards. I'm not sure if I would have a doctor cut off my dick if the Cards win the series.” His eyebrows raise, waiting for all the facts of womb transplantation to sink in. “I like my dick. I like it where it is.” He dries an arm with a napkin.

If he promised to remove his dick if they won—and obviously if they win it would be because he promised to remove his dick—would it be worth it? Which is more important, his dick or the Cardinals winning the series again. “Maybe a testicle. I've got two...”

“Nah, you got it all wrong.” The stranger nods his head authoritatively. “Those California doctors can do anything. You just have em pop off your junk for nine months, give Pujols a baby, then have em pop it back on. I don't think that's unreasonable.”

So which is more important, the uninterrupted presence of his penis or the Cards winning a series? This would take some consideration. Cy sits back at the table and dips his fingers into the tub of Nuclear Sauce then licks them clean. Sure the wings are tossed in sauce before they're served, but never enough. Not enough for Cy, anyway. And if he has to drop a few extra bucks for a mega-side of sauce, it is worth the price.

“Can I get you gentlemen anything else?” the waitress asks. She wears the Weck-n-Wings' black and gold uniform shirt surprisingly free of barbecue sauce with a name tag that says, “Welcome to Weck-n-Wings, I'm K A Y L A.” Long blonde hair, pale skin, and wonderful curves. In the sea of post-season frenzy, she is the lighthouse that reminds these men that there is a world outside of baseball.

“I'm fine. Mother, do you need anything?” Cy asks the man across the table. The guy shakes his head. “We're good, thank you.”

Kayla collects some of the trash from the table. She gives him a “Who is that?” quirked eyebrow. He gives her an “I have no idea” shrug. She gives him a “Look at your shirt!” frown. He gives her a “Who cares? It's the playoffs!” smile. She gives him a “See you tonight” wink, careful that no other patrons see her lest they get the wrong impression.

“I'll bring the check,” she says. “You can pay whenever you're ready.”

Not that he needs to worry about paying. It's theater for the masses. What Kayla cannot give him through her employee perks he wins with the Nuclear Sauce Challenge. He has won every time since the restaurant started the event, much to the dismay of the assistant store manager, Mark Preston. The same store manager that is making a bee line to his table right now.
“Manager Mark, you model of manliness, you paragon of promiscuity, how are you this glorious evening?” Cy slams his fist on the table emphatically. No one notices. They're lost in their own celebrations.

Mark tries and fails to force his expression to unphased neutrality, imitating British austerity. He appears more the butler than manager.

“Mr. Lekkas. How good to see you again. I had only seen you five times this week and I was beginning to worry,” Mark says, ignoring Cy's own salutation. Cy thinks the man should be happy to have such a loyal patron, but given how long it has been since last he paid, he understands the belligerence. “And how is your meal tonight, Mr. Lekkas?” he asks. He looks down his nose at Cy, making his long nose hairs particularly noticeable. Mark runs the multi-million dollar grossing franchise restaurant while Big Mike, the owner/store manager spends his time trying to shag the newest waitress. But his name tag still says, “Welcome to Weck-n-Wings, I'm M A R K,” eliminating any sense of authority.

“Terrific as always, Manager Mark.” Cy licks between his fingers suggestively. Mark's face contorts, as if he had uncomfortable gas. “Terrific game, terrific chicken, terrific service. All in all, I'd say it was superlative.”

“I'm pleased to hear it.”

The two men pause, Cy waiting for Mark and Mark seemingly savoring some delicious bit of knowledge that he has yet to reveal. Cy dips a drummie in his extra sauce, then puts the whole thing into his mouth, pulling it in and out as he sucks it clean. Mark wrinkles his nose and begins to shift his weight from foot to foot.

“I have some news that I believe you'll find relevant, Mr. Lekkas,” Mark says.

“Yes, Manager Mark?” Cy says, extracting the bone and swallowing the chicken in one large, audible gulp.

“Please, it's just Mark. Or Mr. Preston.”

“And important information that was. I'll keep that in mind.” Cy looks to his table-mate only to find the man gone elsewhere. They hadn't actually eaten at the same table but only fell together during the reverie of the Cardinals' victory. The need to piss or some similar demand has drawn him away, leaving Cy alone to revel in his own juvenile humor.

“What? No, that's not what I— that is—”

“Oxygen, man!” Cy shouts, grabbing another wing. “Breathe.”

“Mr. Lekkas, I have received notice from Corporate that we are amending the Nuclear Sauce Challenge. Whereas previously you—any customer was entitled to a free meal if he could eat 18 Nuclear wings, a person is now entitled to only one complimentary meal a month.”

Cy nods, mouth full of chicken. He drinks from his tub of Nuclear Sauce like it was a beverage. Mark's eyes widen and his jaw works, bobbing up and down as he tries to speak.

“Th—this amendment, sir, was effective as of Monday, so you have already received your complimentary meal for the month. I hope it is not an inconvenience to you that you were not informed then.”


“Yes, Mr. Lekkas?”

“Did you really just say whereas? Whereas, Mark? Really?”

More chicken. More sauce. More jaw bobbing.

“If you are unable to pay for your meal today, sir, we can hold your bus pass or other form of identification while you visit an ATM.”

The insult is not missed. Cy can't help but smile. He's never gotten this much of a rise from Manager Mark before.

“No worries, Mark. Mrs. Poole at the corporate office sent me the notice too. My picture is in the lobby, you know, for having won the Challenge more than anyone else. Seems she's an admirer. She sent me a bunch of gift cards. More are on the way, too. I'm good.”


Cy stares at the jaw. The thing must be on a hinge the way it just moves up and down like that. It's like the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz. He wonders if Mark has an oil can in the back office.

Mark turns and walks away without saying anything else.

Cy smiles to himself. He shouldn't derive so much pleasure from haranguing Mark, but he does. And Mark took a jab at him. The man has a stick so far up his ass that he wouldn't take a jab at Evander Holyfield if the two were in a boxing ring.

“Did you see that?” Cy asks, seemingly to no one. The din of the crowd is loud enough that no one hears him or how his voice has changed. It sounds like metal feet of an imbalanced table rocking back and forth.

“I did,” Table answers. “You're taking a risk pushing him like that.” It has no lips, no mouth, no vocal cords, but it Speaks, and Cy understands it. Understands it and Speaks its language.

A fan standing near the table looks over his shoulder. Seeing nothing but Cy sitting covered with Nuclear sauce, he turns back to his party. “This isn't just about you, you know,” Table says.

Cy takes a chicken drummie and swirls it in his extra sauce, placing the mess in his mouth. The hair on his arms stands up as energy courses through his body. He doesn't just hear Table, he hears everything that Speaks in the restaurant. While the other tables, the ceiling, and the walls are all silent, the floor has a lot to say. None of it polite. Cy smiles and purposefully drips a little sauce on the floor.

“Oh, fuck you!” Floor bellows, its voice like squeaky shoes on a wet surface. Cy laughs.

“Antagonizing Manager Mark isn't enough?” says Table. “Now you have to piss off Floor too?”

“No worries. Everything will be okay.” Cy says. If you live long enough, everything is okay eventually.

“For you maybe. But Kayla won't be so fortunate.”

“What about Kayla?” For the first time in the conversation, Table truly has Cy's attention. He grips the side of the table and leans close to it, as if proximity might speed its response.

“Manager Mark was sitting at me yesterday after close. He was saying things. Saying things about Kayla.”

“What things?”

“Never a good sign, my man.” Cy's brother-in-Cardinal-Nation returns, falling back into his chair, knocking over the tub of extra sauce. He gives Cy a critical look, his eyes widening and narrowing as he tries to focus. “You gotta keep your head up or the waitress is gonna cut you off.”

“I'm not drunk,” Cy says irritably, sitting upright.

“No, of course not.” The man gives him a knowing wink. “Me either.”

Cy hears Floor sniggering at him.

“Shut up,” Cy says, sotto voce.

“Gazundtite,” the man says.

Sweet, Sweet Crazy

I don't hop on the bandwagon too often, but this was just too much fun not to share. I've seen it a couple places, but Pat at Pat's Fantasy Hotlist convinced me to click and read the comments.

It's best if you read the review (which I think is incredibly fair), but then you have to read the comments. My favorite is the 8th comment. That is the epitome of professionalism. Epitome.

(And if Jacqueline Howett should find my blog, your sentence structure is atrocious.)

NPH Poll

Despite all the snow, I have been wicked busy at work. I have a number of half-finished posts, none of which I am in the mood to finish now. Instead...A POLL!

Okay, not with the regular poll widget because it messes with my site design. Really, I should have said...A QUESTION! Or...A PROMPT!


Dr. Horrible - "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"

Steve the Monkey - "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs"

NPH - "Harold Kumar Go to White Castle"

Barney - "How I Met Your Mother"

Doogie Howser - "Doogie Howser, M.D."


Redux: What Rejection Means to My Work Week

It's a Friday, I have a full manuscript with an agent, and I'm querying others. This reminds me of a meme the Rejectionist had on her blog. It feels poignant today:

The Rejectionist asked another question, one I felt worhty of a response. The question returns us to a topic I have written on frequently here in the Brick City (a name I have not used in a long time but fits the tone of this post, so here it is again.) It is, in fact, a topic that comes up frequently, often in an attempt at humor, often resulting in a typical Joe Selby tirade. Regardless, I will endeavor to answer said question anew with both humor and derision, as is befitting.

What does rejection mean to me?

What a simple question. What an unsimple answer. Rejection, to steal a phrase, is like an onion. It has many layers. Specifically, in this case, rejection refers to query rejections in the pursuit of publication, so we can cast aside any blunders I had in my youth attempting to touch my girlfriend's breasts. We will keep this in the now, as I continue writing and continue querying and continue getting rejected.

Writing is one of the most important things in my life (truly, second only to my wife), and rejection is the largest hurdle I currently face to taking my writing to a national (international?) market. As I approach my writing as the second job it is, I will now address rejection as it impacts said job during a standard work week.

I received a rejection letter today. This makes me proud. Many of my friends who do not write or who write as a hobby do not understand this. They assume rejection means failure. This is because they do not attempt professional publication (or, at least, not in anything larger than self-publication, which I discount). They do not truly understand the challenges of finishing a novel-length manuscript. How could one understand without having accomplished the same. So often a manuscript is abandoned after the first surge of creativity is expired. One cannot compare the challenges of writing a 20,000-word manuscript to finishing a 100,000-word+ manuscript. And then to revise that manuscript multiple times and then to query an agent. It is a daunting task. And while true, many queriers do not go through all those steps, I did. I wrote professionally. I submitted professionally. I was rejected professionally. I am a professional. This makes me proud. Thank you, Rejection.

I received a rejection letter today. I appreciate this. It's a form rejection, as they almost alrways are. I recieved a semi-personalized rejection once, or the most politely written form rejection ever known. I hope it was semi-personalized because if she says how close she was to asking for it, that seems horribly unfair to the author. Today's wasn't one of those. It was just a form rejection. It was polite and professional. It went through all the standard statements of how this isn't a reflection of my work and that writing is subjective. I understand that and after having read it so many times, I wonder if it's necessary, but then I remember that it's a kind word and kind words are never unnecessary, so I say thank you. I do not write back thank you, because that would clutter a busy agent's inbox, but I say thank you in my brain, because she deserves thanks for taking the time to read my query and respond.

I dislike agent policy of not responding. I've seen the argument that it's a waste of an agent's time. The math and the totals of how much time out of the year would be spent replying to queries and I do not care. Agenting is not just about writing, it's about relationships, and taking the time to acknowledge you received, reviewed, and passed on my work established a good relationship. Not to mention it spares you from receiving follow-up emails and requries that I think in the end would take up more of your time than creating a form rejection. Email clients and super-copy/paste applications make form rejection absurdly easy. I have posted before what I think when an says she is too busy to do something. We're all busy. A rejection letter is not too much to ask for. So thank you, for sending me one today.

I received a rejection today. Dammit. I'm running out of agents I queried. It's not right for you or for her or for him. This has to be right for someone. Come on. This isn't hackneyed stuff. This isn't my first time at the rodeo. I've written. I've revised. I've avoided cliches and found an interesting hook. I wrote with character and with adventure and threw in some fun twists. This will appeal to the market. I've seen books with this tone before so how can you tell me it's not right for you? It has to be right for someone. How did those books get published if they weren't right for anyone either? There aren't THAT many fantasy agents in the world, and I've done a LOT of research. One of you has published this stuff before. Why won't you even ask to read mine? It's good! Yes the page count is high of your perfect margin, but it's not a 250k+ epic. I'm sure that number will fall during editing. I already brought it down once with my own edits. I edited. I've edited professionally before. I had beta readers and took into account their feedback. Come on. This has to be right for SOMEONE. Someone? Anyone? Listen, I'm productive. I write a minimum of one novel a year. I wrote two last year. I have over a dozen books percolating in my brain, so this isn't going to be a one-shot and we're out kind of thing. Professionally, I'm an investment. I'll produce regularly for you and of a quality that won't suck up all your time from your other clients. Come on, just give me a shot! I'm a steady paycheck! Read the damn manuscript. You'll like it. It's good.

I received a rejection today. One of my self-published friends tried to have a conversation with me today about the challenges of publishing in the industry. He talked down to me like he was some seasoned professional. Dude. Dood. You are self-published. I admit, the changing marketplace makes self-publishing more feasible, but you relied on your friends to edit, design your cover, and set the pages. Sure some of them have some experience, but this is small scale. Your friends were in the creative writing class in high school. They're not professional fiction editors. They do not make their living doing this. They do not win awards for doing this. The authors they edit do not win awards for doing this because you're the only person they edit. Please do not think because you are self-published, and I received another rejection letter, that this somehow puts me into a subordinate position. I am a better writer than you. I am a significantly better writer than you. It is because I am a better writer than you that I am attempting to break into professional writing. I am not cowering in self-publication, "setting my terms for success." My "terms of success" are succeeding. My sales will go well beyond the three-digit cusp. I will make advances. I will earn them out. I will earn royalties. I will be published in multiple languages. I will be asked to submit more manuscripts and even to possibly participate in an anthology.

So, dear agent, while I appreciate that you took the time to send me a rejection, I would ask you to reconsider if for no other reason than to save me from my friends who think I'm a failure. I am not a failure, but it is unlikely they will accept that until I can beat them over the head with an ARC.

I received a rejection today. What. The. Fuck. You posted on your blog that you wanted to expand your list. You said you were looking for fantasy. Hey, that's me! You said you didn't have enough male clients. I have a penis! I know. I touched it this morning! You said if the writing was good you'd ask for more pages. You didn't ask for more pages. You rejected me. What the crap is that? I've been putting up with this all week. You were the last one. My entire query list has rejected me. You see this book I'm reading? It's average. It's not crap. It's not testament to the poor standards of the industry. It's average. The author repeats himself too much and has this unnatural aversion to pronouns. I am better than this. He is a best selling author. This novel is a best selling novel. I am better than this. Why won't you even give me a chance? You know how many times I've revised that goddamn query? Just give me a chance.


I did not receive a rejection today. That's a Monday through Friday thing. I still write on the weekends, though. I write all the time. It's what I do. It's what I've always done. Some days, it's hard. I wake up on Saturday and wonder why I'm not playing frisbee golf or Xbox with friends. Why am I sitting at a counter behind a computer writing about a world that doesn't exist? My wife sees the look on my face and she gives me a hug. She's still in bed. She's going to sleep in. But she doesn't want me to be sad. She reminds me that I'm an asshole when I don't write and, while I may not feel up to it, she'd appreciate it if I'd go do it anyway. For her sake. She also tells me her favorite Babe Ruth quote. "Every strike brings me closer to the next home run." I avoid telling her that you only get three strikes until you're out. I kiss her. I thank her for her encouragement. I write some and see a new agent. Perhaps she'll like what I write. I send her a query. Maybe next Monday will be different.

Dream a Little Dream of Me

In my last semester of college, I participated in one of the most influential classes of my university career: Senior Theatre Capstone. It was a discussion course required to graduate with a theatre degree (every arts degree had one: I took something similar for my English degree). It was lead by the department head and a person I considered a mentor, and for the first time in the department, I got to express myself fully as an adult and as a theatre person.

Now, this being college theatre, there was no greater crime than selling out. Cats was just about to wrap its run on Broadway and it was the constant example of what theatre should not be. I'm not going to go back down that road, at least not today. There was a day in that capstone class where we went out to enjoy the sun. We sat in a circle and the professor asked, "You're about to finish school and head out into the theatre world. What is your biggest fear?"

Mine? "I want to be famous, and I don't know if it's wrong to want it."

The answer (which was obvious): Will you write if you're not famouse? (Of course.) Then it's not a bad thing.

Jennifer Hiller posted the inverse question over on Killer Chicks:

What's your writing dream?

Mine? I want a sub-genre. Sure success and movies and merchandising would be awesome. But that's all short-term. I want a subgenre.

Who made epic fantasy? Tolkien1

Who made sword & sorcery? Howard

Who made ______? Selby

That's what I want. I don't know what _______ is yet, but I call dibs.

1 Whether Tolkien actually created epic fantasy, he is the popular answer to the question.

I'll Make a Bajillion Dollars!

So, as we all know, the reason there is still resistance to the ebook is because some people worry about losing their pretension. How can one prove that one is better than those around one if they cannot see that the book one is reading is clearly far beyond the reading level of everyone else gathered.

There had been a quickly-abandoned proposal of creating ereaders with screens on both sides, one for reading and one for showing the cover. Given that nearly all ereaders are immediately put into a protective cover, this proved a waste of time and monies.

But there must be a way we can welcome the coming epocalypse while maintaining our pretentious superiority! Well, there is, with the Selbomatic eBook Attenuated Label (SEAL-the bad ass of ebook covers).

Take the standard design for an ebook cover. Thick, padded sides with straps to hold in your ereader. Cut a rectangle into the top cover and shave off a few millimeters so there is a book-like divot in the cover. Slice an opening in the side. Print out a color image of the cover of the most pretentious book you want people to think you’re reading (and if you’re really concerned about looking superior, I suggest you actually read the book too lest someone else ask questions you cannot answer). Put the paper image between two thin pieces of plastic, then slide them into the opening until the image is situated in the divot. This divot being in truth a window to your intellectual superiority.

Ideally, you could manufacture this entire thing, but if your intellect can’t wait to be on display, you can accomplish it with a razor blade and a file. I am now accepting start-up capital.

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.

NaNoing My Problem

When I finish revising a novel, I feel like the train from the climax of Back to the Future 3. Doc Brown threw in those special logs and now I'm going twice as fast as a normal train. Reall, that works for when I finish the novel the first time and when I revise it again after beta reading. Each version is relevant to the color in the movie: first draft = green, second draft = yellow, third draft = red. Then I travel through time or fall into a gorge.

And since traveling through time doesn't work as a metaphor, when it's all done, I fall into a gorge. I'm just going and going and going and I don't want to give up any momentum. I try to switch to a different novel, either something I was already working on or something new. The problem is, each novel has it's own voice. I can't maintain that momentum and switch between mss. I need to slow down. But I can't slow down. There's a chemically infused log that is sending me speeding down the track.

I never want to take off, but I always have to. With the completion of TSS's second draft, I had the good fortune of being sick. So even though I wanted to keep writing (and have 38k of JH to go to), I had to take a few days off. Only a few. Monday arrived and I trying to keep some of that momentum going for this wip. It did not go well. I had trouble capturing the voice and had reservations of the quality of the story over all. It feels a bit thin. There's no complexity or depth. It's just a "go here do this, go there do that" story. It reminds me a lot of THE BLACK COMPANY in that way.

So I pondered this on the way home Tuesday night after producing only a few hundred words. I fell into the gorge and didn't realize it. Now I need to climb back up so I can get back on the tracks. But do I stop and try to wash my pants, or do I just soldier on? Yesterday morning I decided to take the NaNoWriMo way out. I ignored any quality concerns I had for the chapter and just pushed through to the end. Sometimes you just have to say, "I'll have to fix this in revision." This risk is that the quality is so bad as to derail the proper direction of the story. You'll just have to come back later and redo it and then redo everything you wrote after. It's a gamble, and not one that always pays off.

Elizabeth Poole and I have differing opinions on NaNoWriMo. She enjoys it. I do not. I accet that she finds a fun community there, but I do not participate in the community and do not want to lend myself to the activity just to explore the community. I think writing without any concern for quality is bad writing. I think 50,000 words counts as a novel in one or two genres. I think not enough effort is made to explain to participants that what they produce during NaNo is not something that should be sent to agents without revision and review. But most of all, it's that first part. No, I do not go back and revise until the entire manuscript is complete, but I do make a concerted effort to write the best possible first draft. To write with complete abandon is to shit diarrhea on the page. It makes a mess, it stinks, and isn't good for anyone but the flies.

I'd rather see someone write 25,000 first-draft quality pages than 50,000 NaNoWriMo quality pages.

So chapter 15 of JH is shit. Hopefully it's not so runny that it was a waste of time. I'm on chapter 16 now, and that's what I needed.

Per Your Request...A LIST!

The ladies over at Coffey. Tea. And Literary have started a meme. I have 25 minutes to kill at work, and thus will fill that time with this meme rather than being productive.

1. If you could have a superpower, what would you have? Why?
I would be a cypher. I would speak every language ever created. I would be able to speak to everyone everywhere, read ancient texts, hack computers, solve every math equation ever, and break every code created. I may not be all flashy like Wolverine with metal bones, but I'd kick so much more ass.

2. Who is your style icon?
Ummm...JC Penny?

3. What is your favorite quote?
I have two quotes tattooed on my arms ("The righteous must be bold as a lion" and "Drop the truth like a hammer") so you would think it would be one of them. It is not. It is an exchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat:

    One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. "Which road do I take? she asked." "Where do you want to go?" was his response. "I don't know," Alice answered. "Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

4. What is the best compliment you've ever received?
Your voice is like liquid sex.

(I may have received others, but come on, how can that one be topped?)

5. What playlist/cd is on your ipod/cd player right now?
My Palm Pre is currently loaded with KoRn, Norah Jones, Metallica, Pomplamoose, Dry Kill Logic, Louis Armstrong, Flight of the Conchords, and The Distillers

6. Are you a night owl or a morning person?
If left to my own devices, I stay up late. Then I accomplish absolutely nothing because I'm exhausted all the time. If I get up at 6 in the morning, I can accomplish anything.

7. Do you prefer dogs or cats?
Cats. Write a story about a dog displaying greater-than-animal intelligence that saves a human, and you know it's fiction because the dog displays greater-than-animal intelligence. Write the same story about a cat an you know it's fiction because the cat saves the human.

I respect that power.

8. What is the meaning behind your blog name?

Well, I'm me. And I write.

I've had two previous blog names ("The Charlie Brown Show" and "Brick City Creations") neither of which were very useful at creating a brand for my writing. So, short and to the point. Bam, here I am and here's what I do.