Saturday, February 28, 2009

Book Scramble

Thousands in scramble for free books after Amazon supplier abandons warehouse.

Holy crimoly. I used to sell used books on Amazon, too. Until I gave it up about 6 months ago cause I couldn't find enough books to make it worth the effort anymore. I still have a bookcase left of books I haven't bothered to go through yet. Nothing like this, however.

Check out the article and pictures here.

I wonder if anyone got trampled. That's my kind of scramble.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Movies I watch over and over

I felt in the mood to share some more thoughts on movies. So... drum roll... Movies I will stop and watch if they come on TV. (This doesn't include Lord of the Rings, which is a given.)

So, here you go-- in no particular order.

Fifth Element - own it

I *love* this movie. I've seen it so many times I've lost track and when it came on last weekend I abandoned the computer and chapters that needed critiquing to watch it... again.

And the scenes in the space hotel where Chris Tucker spends the whole time screaming like a girl? *CLASSIC*

Random Trivia: Milla Jovovich is not only a model and actress, but she sings, too. I had a recording of her debut album on a cassette tape. It was electronica, Delerium-ish. On Side B of the cassette I had Sir Mix-A-Lot's album with the song "Baby Got Back." It was an interesting tape.

The Mummy
(the first, and best one) - don't own it, but should

Granted, the mummy-guy roaring at people is a tad cheesy, but oh well. I have favorite parts and will start giggling when those will come up.

Probably my favorite:
[after a shipwreck]
Beni: Hey, O'Connell! It looks to me like I've got all the horses!
Rick: Hey, Beni! Looks to me like you're on the wrong side of the river!

*giggle, giggle*

So, I Married and Axe Murderer
- own it

One of the best quotable movies of all time. And the pressure to pick just a couple... argh!

Probably the best character is Charlie's dad, and here are some of his lines:

Stuart Mackenzie: Well, it's a well known fact, Sonny Jim, that there's a secret society of the five wealthiest people in the world, known as The Pentavirate, who run everything in the world, including the newspapers, and meet tri-annually at a secret country mansion in Colorado, known as The Meadows.

Tony Giardino:
So who's in this Pentavirate?

Stuart Mackenzie: The Queen, The Vatican, The Gettys, The Rothschilds, *and* Colonel Sanders before he went tits up. Oh, I hated the Colonel with is wee *beady* eyes, and that smug look on his face. "Oh, you're gonna buy my chicken! Ohhhhh!"

Charlie Mackenzie: Dad, how can you hate "The Colonel"?

Stuart Mackenzie: Because he puts an addictive chemical in his chicken that makes ya crave it fortnightly, BEEEEP [censored for family viewing]!

And the whole insulting his child with the big head -- ROTHFLOL!

While You Were Sleeping - own it

I have this one on VHS and it's about to fall apart. I almost invariably watch this movie when my husband's out of town. And yes, I still cry every time. And still laugh every time. And still love it just as much every time.

Aliens - do not own but will watch it when it's on TV (which it is at least once every year or two)

By far the best and creepiest of the series. And they should have stopped with this one, too. When the slimy government guy locks Sigourney Weaver and the little girl in the room with the alien horseshoe crab looking things... *shudder*

And then when Sigourney faces off the alien queen with the robotic loader on the spaceship...

Yeah, good stuff.

The Wedding Singer
- don't own

Do I really have to explain why I love this movie? Let's see--it has Adam Sandler, it's hilarious, and there are enough 80's references (and great songs) to choke a horse. What's not to love?

Serenity - don't own but maybe will go out and buy it right now.

Holy cow I love this movie. Unfortunately it's never on TV, but if it was I'd watch it every time. The dialogue and characterization are fantastic.

And it wasn't until after I saw the movie that I found out there was a whole TV series called "Firefly." That's a series I'd rent on DVD. Anyone want to let me borrow it?

There are more I could add to the list, but I don't want to make the post too long. What are some movies you'll watch over and over again?

*I have no idea why there are such huge spaces in between pictures. Sorry!*

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Take a walk on the Spam side

Since beginning the agent hunt and fishing my first request for a partial out of the spam folder, I'm now diligently checking my spam on a regular basis.
And I'm finding lots of interesting things, like:

1) Apparently I should be looking for a HOT Russian bride. And there are lots out there.

2) There's a huge !!!!Nursing Shortage!!!! (as evidenced by the many exclamation marks before and after).

3) I have a very tenacious secret crush, because they've tried to email me 583 times.

4) Some berry I've never heard of has fantabulous weight loss properties while cleansing you at the same time.

5) There's an "Amazing Housewife Diet!!" She must have kids like mine.

6) With the easy click of a mouse I can change jobs - at least 60 times!

7) I can get a Cheap SUV (although I think they want to mean that it's inexpensive, not shoddy) no matter what my payment history is.

8) I need to check out Jamie's blog (hey, that's me) to see how I can get a massive chunk of money from the stimulus package. *Well, I can answer that. Just go on welfare. But I digress.*

9) Chef schools will give me a *sizzling* career.

10) The gov't must be anticipating a huge rise in crime because more CSI is desperately needed. (And I'm perfect for it).

11) DirectTV and Dish Network are still squabbling like small children no matter what the delivery of their message: spam, junk mail, telemarketers, coupons, etc. *Now you two better cut it out or I'll make you scrub the tile grout. Ask my kids, they know I mean it!*

12) EHarmony has a billion matches for me.

13) And the newest Spam that really never had a presence until recently: Ways to get out of foreclosure.

14) 2 new Singles want to talk to me (but are they the same 2, or 2 new ones each email?)

15) A whole slew of people I've never heard of want to show me their pics.

Of course, that's only a smattering.

Spam--not only good to eat but provides entertainment when you're procrastinating or are too brain dead to do anything productive.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Jane Austen--Horror Style

Status: Gotta get moving on the next book.
What I'm listening to: "Desert Rose" by Sting

Oh, yes! It's true. Pride and Prejudice Zombies. Awesome! says I. And you *know* I'll be reading it. Without a doubt.

First Line: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

Isn't it delicious? In a slightly irreverent, oh-my-gosh-you're-wrecking-great-literature kind of way?

*Dang! Why didn't I think of that?!*

More details here at the NY Times article "I Was A Regency Zombie."

Monday, February 23, 2009

Word of the Week #41

Status: Another rejection. *grumble, grumble*
What I'm listening to: "Got Nothing" by Under the Influence of Giants (ironic, isn't it?)

sempiternal - [sem-pih-TUR-nuhl] - adjective

Of never ending duration; having beginning but no end; everlasting; endless.

After getting the kids off to school, Jaime stood in the kitchen and looked at the sink and its sempiternal round of dirty dishes. Then she turned around and walked away, thinking fondly of switching to paper plates.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

A little note

Status: Icing my leg (a running boo boo)
What I'm listening to: "Without You" by Final Hour

I know it's been a few days since my last post and I thought it might be fun to share some "Notes" (almost like forwards in email that was so 2007). I have a lot of friends on Facebook and it seems all of them caught the "Note Rage" at the same time, so while I don't do all the Notes, there are a couple ones that I thought I'd share here, too. But for today, just one.

25 Random Things about me:

1. I don't like chocolate. (Don't hate me!)
2. I was tagged by 5 people for this game in 24 hours. I feel so popular! *sniff*
3. I am absolutely addicted to books. When I'm not in the middle of one (or two or three) I start prowling the house and getting "twitchy."
4. I can't sit on an unmade bed or bunched up blankets on a couch, etc. It drives me nuts.
5. I don't like most slow songs. There are some exceptions, but very few.
6. I'm a Trekkie - love the movie “First Contact” and adore “Galaxy Quest.”
7. I bawled uncontrollably when I watched “Sixth Sense” in the theater. (I can explain: I was pregnant and had a little boy at home.) It's one of my favorite movies.
8. I get up between 5:00-5:30 a.m. 4- 5 days a week to work out & am training for a half-marathon.
9. I really like Gothic Hard Rock/Metal (Evanescence, Within Temptation, Nightwish, Lacuna Coil, etc.).
10. I was a dance major in college until I blew out my knee. Then I went into Physical Therapy.
11. I think Orlando Bloom is super way cute. Esp. in Pirates of the Caribbean with his long hair.
12. Speaking of long hair, my bedroom used to be plastered in posters of long-haired glam bands (Bon Jovi, Cinderella, etc.). My husband still makes fun of me.
13. I love, love to play tennis and used to compete in tournaments. My highest ranking was #3 in my state in my division--but that was 3 kids and 1 knee surgery ago.
14. I want to have at least one bestseller in the next 10 years.
15. I still sleep with a stuffed animal I've had since I was 3.
16. My first kiss was on a trip to Mexico by a cute boy that didn't speak English. I was 15.
17. My first kiss with my husband evolved into a full-on make out session. The next day I asked him not to kiss me again. A month later, when I hinted around big time for us to kiss, he told me no and walked away. *Payback!* (He felt so proud of himself.)
18. In high school I dressed up, danced, and sang songs from “Grease” at an amusement park with my friends for the final scene of the soap opera we spent 2 years recording. *not a lot to do where I grew up*
19. I would rather write than watch TV.
20. My least favorite chore is cleaning the showers, with putting away leftovers coming in a close second (I am notoriously spatially-challenged).
21. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. twice this week in a panic that I had forgotten something important, only to realize that I still had time to get it done. So I’ve been up since 4:00 two days this week.
22. I love, love fresh salsa.
23. My comfortable temperature is about 80 degrees. Since most houses/businesses are not kept at that temperature, I’m usually cold. My nickname is “Coldilocks.”
24. I’m a compulsive email checker. I’m trying to internalize the fact that my self-worth is not tied to my inbox.
25. I love to watch stand up comedy with my husband. Brian Regan is my favorite.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Query, synopsis, and agents, oh my!

Status: Sent out 2 more submissions. Now I'm only waiting on 27 to get back to me.
What I'm listening to: "Vertigo" by U2

I took a brief hiatus from the agent hunt to take care of some of those pesky household things that piled up while I was actually *writing* my book. But I'm back in the game again (still tackling the house stuff as we go) and I sent out a couple more queries.

As part of my "sharing the process with my dear readers" I want to address query letters--those one-page denizens of H-E-double hockey-stick (to quote my kids) that make or break your agent hunt.

The question: Do you want an agent so you can actually make some money at this writing thing and get your story in the hands of tons of little boys just like your own children who will read it and think it's totally awesome? (You can fill in your own reasons)

The answer: Yes!!!!

The question: How important is a query letter in doing this?

The answer: How important is breathing to staying alive?

Pretty much. You need a good (completely awesome is better, but at least pretty darn good) query letter. Period.

Some query basics:
1) One page - Single, one, uno, un
2) Addressed to a *specific* agent. Not "To Whom It May Concern" or "Mr/Mrs. Agent" or "Joe Schmoe"
3) Personal info. about the agent/agency showing you actually did a little research
4) Your contact info.
5) Basic info. about your work (genre, word count, etc.)
6) Your bio
7) Good Hook
8) Good Hook
9) Good Hook
10) Good Hook

You may have noticed a little repetition in that list. (I hope.) The most important--and hardest--part of the query letter is the hook. This is where in a paragraph or two you hook the agent/editor into wanting to see more. Think an exciting back cover blurb.

Rather than regurgitate all the great stuff that's already out there on how to write a good query and hook, I'm just going to give you some good links.

Agent Nathan Bransford's blog - He has a whole series of posts on queries in the right sidebar
Agent Kristen Nelson's blog - She has a bunch of posts on queries in the sidebar, too. - writer's section
Stepping Onto the Query Go-Round: part 1 (by author Jackie Kessler)
Query Shark blog - actual queries with comments
BookEnds blog - just scroll through the labels of posts for many on queries and pitches
Miss Snark blog - just the archives, but browse through those for tons of good stuff

And those are just a few places you can go. Just google how to write a query letter or another variation and you'll get millions of hits.

Happy query-ing!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

I'm better, because JA Konrath says so

Status: Sore--stupid lunges. You'd think I would quit being sore after so many months!
What I'm listening to: "Growing Up" by Peter Gabriel

I am incredible. And JA Konrath says so. See, here's the proof.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Word of the Week #40

Status: Still cleaning out army green paint from under my fingernails, but the kid's bedroom is painted!
What I'm listening to: "Love Is a Battlefield" by Pat Benatar

dystopia - [dis-toh-pee-uh] - noun

A society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.

The TV series "Lost" could be argued to be about both a dystopia and a utopia (at least, a couple seasons ago when I last watched it).

Friday, February 13, 2009

Book Review: The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

Status: No new developments in the agent hunt. Waiting is so *hard*!
What I'm listening to: "Love Profusion" by Madonna

Another of the "adult" books (meaning not for kids or young adults) I've read recently is The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck.

Glenn Beck is a talk show host and also has a program on Fox News (that I can't seem to catch since I don't know what time it airs). I like listening to Glenn in moderate doses--his passion can sometimes be draining. And since I listen to him, I for sure wanted to check out his book. I wondered if he was a decent writer, too.

Product Description:

If You Could Change Your Life by Reversing Your Biggest Regrets, Sorrows and Mistakes...Would You?

We weren't wealthy, we weren't poor -- we just were. We never wanted for anything, except maybe more time together....

When Eddie was twelve years old, all he wanted for Christmas was a bike. Although his life had gotten harder -- and money tighter -- since his father died and the family bakery closed...Eddie dreamed that somehow his mother would find a way to have his dream bike gleaming beside their modest Christmas tree that magical morning.

What he got from her instead was a sweater. "A stupid, handmade, ugly sweater" that young Eddie left in a crumpled ball in the corner of his room.

Scarred deeply by the realization that kids don't always get what they want, and too young to understand that he already owned life's most valuable treasures, that Christmas morning was the beginning of Eddie's dark and painful journey on the road to manhood. It will take wrestling with himself, his faith, and his family -- and the guidance of a mysterious neighbor named Russell -- to help Eddie find his path through the storm clouds of life and finally see the real significance of that simple gift his mother had crafted by hand with love in her heart.

Based on a deeply personal true story, The Christmas Sweater is a warm and poignant tale of family, faith and forgiveness that offers us a glimpse of our own lives -- while also making us question if we really know what's most important in them.

I don't want to make you wait too long to find out if Beck is a decent writer, so the answer is: I don't know. The Christmas Sweater was a collaborative effort with Jason Wright (author of bestsellers like The Wednesday Letters and Christmas Jars), which means that Glenn Beck probably told the story and Wright wrote it--and we already know Wright can write. *Ha ha--author's pun**

Whether or not Beck can write well, I liked the book--for the most part. It dealt with some of those life moments that we all have when we're stubborn, angry turds. And in a parable-type way it taught some life lessons that I think would be good for people to learn. That being said, I hated the ending.

So, Mr. Beck, when you read my review, understand that I think you took the easy, wimpy way out in the last chapter. The story would have been so much more powerful if you hadn't done that gimmick. *smack you in the head* And it makes other authors want to rip their hair out (and I've talked to other authors that felt like doing that). I would recommend this book to anyone, and have thought of sending copies to friends. But if you read it, skip the last chapter. No, don't peek. Just trust me.

You can find out more about Glenn Beck on his radio program website and can order The Christmas Sweater on (where there's also an interview with Glenn Beck you can watch) or at other bookstores.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Funny anthologies collected by English Teachers

Status: Got a head cold, but not too bad (yet)
What I'm listening to: "Say When" by The Fray

I got these from an email, from a person that got it from an email, etc. I looked around the internet and found this blog, where you can find the author and other pertinent info.

These analogies are the winning entries in a 1999 Washington Post humor contest, and there are more than 25. They are taken from actual high school essays and collected by English teachers across the country for their own amusement. (And ours.)

1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a ThighMaster.

2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

6. Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

7. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

8. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

9. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

10. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

11. From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

12. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

13. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

14. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

15. They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

16. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

17. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

18. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.

19. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

20. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

21. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

22. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

23. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

24. It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

25. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Word of the Week #39

Status: Ready for another week!
What I'm Listening to: "Haunted" by Poe

yegg - [yeg] - noun

a burglar who robs safes; safecracker.

One of my favorite movies about yeggs is the Italian Job.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

American Idol for Writers

Status: Eyes crossing from staring at the computer screen
What I'm Listening To: "No Self-Control" by Peter Gabriel

The latest on the Agent Hunt: another rejection fished out of the Spam box. But the hunt was put on hold as I caught wind of a contest right up my alley. It's very much like American Idol - for writers.

*Disclaimer: I am in no way one of the sheep that watches American Idol. Well, except for a few times last year. And, um, the other week. But that was extenuating circumstances that you can read all about here. So, no. I don't watch the show. And I'm not protesting too much. There's no way I'd do something as lame as watch it in the basement so my husband doesn't know or go over to my neighbor's house who TiVo'd the show or... *cough* Moving on...

Back to the topic at hand! The publishing American Idol is called the the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award and even though I call myself a "writer" I had never heard of it before. From Amazon: "The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award is an opportunity for emerging fiction writers to join a community of authors on, showcase their work, and compete for a chance to get published."

Yeah, Amazon. However you word it it's just American Idol with books and without a Simon-type.

Soooo.... I entered it. Scrambled to get all the parts together and did it. *whew* And after an oh-so-subtle comment on agent Nathan Bransford's blog to try and get his opinion, he posted a blog about it today. Very informative. I'm fully in the "it's worth a shot" camp.

Now it's back to trying to corner that elusive quarry--a literary agent.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Word of the Week #38

Status: 2 more rejections, but still optimistic
What I'm listening to: "Just Dance" by Lady GaGa (my daughter & friends want to dance)

stygian - [stij-ee-uhn] - adjective

1. of or pertaining to the river Styx or to Hades.
2. dark or gloomy.
3. infernal; hellish.

She stared into the stygian depths of her captor's eyes, praying he wouldn't notice her straining at her bonds as she berated herself. Never trust a good-looking man offering you water with a lemon in it! How many times had her mother drilled that into her? Normal men never do stuff like that; it was a dead giveaway.