Thursday, June 28, 2012

Now that I'm back...

…I realize that I’m a terrible blogger. I drop off the internet without warning, and then I have a hard time coming back. I don’t know how you guys put up with me (google readers, no doubt). But have no fears, I'm not stopping any time soon.

I’d like to thank Annalisa for tagging me in the 7x7, which gives me a taste of both my fantastically narcissistic side as well as a good place to start getting back to normal blogging.

The idea is that I link back to my favorite posts on this blog in the following categories with a note or two about them. Seeing as I have some 180 posts, there should be plenty to choose from.

Most Beautiful

Know Thyself. Without a doubt this is one of my all time favorite stories, and I’m always sort of sad that I wrote it so early on in my blogging career.

Most Helpful

I’m going to cheat. It wasn’t the most helpful for my readers, but it was the most helpful for me: My first IWSG post. All those writers getting together and sharing has been wonderful for me, and I’m so glad I took the plunge to join in.

Most Popular

Without Question, my most viewed post ever was The Voice, followed closely by Stats for The Voice. I don’t think I need to say why (there were 200 contestants, of course they were curious about the competition). I had a great time with The Voice, and I learned a lot. And thanks to some recent feedback, I’m back to working on the novel again before I send out any more queries (seriously, good stuff coming).

Most Controversial

I guess my most controversial post is Good Advice, But How? It really isn’t that controversial, but I know some people who are pretty opinionated. I’ve never posted anything that really got people’s knickers in a twist to start a fantastic flame war of doom conversation on a real topic.

Most Surprisingly Successful

The James Bond Villain Cat… It’s a short post about my cat, but it is wildly popular. I guess having a catchy title really does help…

Most Underrated

And entertainingly underrated. See, when Google went through and rebooted Blogger, it ate my page views. ALL OF THEM. So this post isn’t really underrated, but it is the only post for which I have a comment but no official page view (I told you this would be an exercise in narcissi). If you don't believe me, here's what this post looks like in my dashboard

Most Pride-Worthy

I don’t know that there is one I can pick. It’s not that I don’t have pride in my work, it’s that I try not to toot my own horn (yes, I know this is a blog post about tooting my own horn). Worse, the stuff that I love where my writing is fantastic and what not, my friends usually tell me stuff like “you were trying too hard” or “That’s a classic case of purple prose.” So, in general, if I’m proud of it, it’s roasted shyt on a stick. So here we go, the ever enjoyable Sparkfest Post: The Book I Desperately Needed.

Alright, and now I’m supposed to link to seven other people… This is the part I suck at.

Part of the problem is that this one has been going around for a while now, and I've been on and off the interwebs for a while now, so I don't know who's gotten tagged. So instead, I'm going to Tag fictional people, and maybe someday I'll go back through and post as them for their seven posts (someday like when I get an agent or a book deal).

I'm tagging:

Raphael of the TMNT
Vader, home address 1 DeathStar Boulevard
America Singer from THE SELECTION
Luna Lovegood
Seneca Crane (maybe he could do links to the arenas instead of blog posts)
Geordi LaForge NCC 1701-D
Schmendrick the incompetent Wizard from The Last Unicorn

(Alternate: He-Man's Battle Cat Cringer)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Umm, is that normal?

My life is always full of strange moments, like the time the parasailer hit my car and flew away (no really, that happened).

Today, while working away, I heard a loud pop from my fridge. I didn't remember storing explosives in the fridge, so I went to investigate. Surely, I would remember storing firecrackers or low grade ordinance in my fridge. Hand grenades leave an impression, you know?

Well, little did I know, parsnips should be duel classified: tasty white carrot and explosive.

Yeah, that's right, I had a parsnip explode in my fridge. I guess I know what to say the next time someone asks me what makes my soup "pop."

"Well, you know how explosive parsnips can be."

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Great Unknown (ok maybe more of a mediocre unknown)

I’ve been doing something lately that has been, well, agonizing. I’ve been writing outside my genre.

No, I haven’t given up on Science Fantasy (genre of choice, really). Nor have I given up on my current project, but while looking it over, I realized something. My story had a really big subplot: Romance.

Now, I’m not sure why I didn’t see this earlier, but there’s some major romance going on between two of the characters, and without the whole romance thing, there’s really very little motivation for the MC. I sort of brushed that under the rug the last time I tackled this project, but it leaves me in a pretty sticky situation: I have to write romance, at least, a little romance.

And I have no idea what I’m doing.


I have no idea how romance novels keep things going with just a couple trying to get together with a few things between them. I mean really? REALLY? Is that what they do?

Oh yeah, and I’m about as under-qualified to write romance as I am to conduct brain surgery (though I do know more about the brain than I do about romance, so that might not be a fair analogy).

Then, worse, at right around the 1/3 mark, the book goes from being a sweet romance with dabbling in magic to action adventure/sword and sorcery with the MC going off to save the guy she loves (hence the need of the romance section) who’s now working for the bad guy (under duress of magic spell). And here’s where the doubts go from “Well, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but people can be n00bs,” to “My readers are going to hate me for luring them in with a girly girl story, and ending with a Micheal Bay action flick (less boobs more dragon, but a Michael Bay FX budget for sure).”

This really sounds like an IWSG post. Sorry about that. I’m just trying to wrap my brain around the genre bending The advice is that I have to write the book that only I can write. Well, here it is. No one else is going to write a girly girl Michael Bay book.

No one but me.

But will anyone want to read it besides me?

Right, well that’s a question that’s pretty unfair because the book doesn’t exist yet (though you can see it’s marching right along in the sidebar over there). So instead, a fair question. If you were only ever going to read one romance novel EVER, what would you pick? I know a bunch of you write romance, and I’m very interested in your answers because it’s clear I need to do some research (and if you can’t narrow it down to one, go ahead and list your top five, even if one of them is Sailor Moon… hmm, Sailor Moon is almost girly girl Michael Bay; I’ll have to keep that in mind).

Right, back to work.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Dropping the ball, but not the chair...

I didn’t mean to drop off like that, but my grandmother had heart attack. It’s very serious, and, to be honest, quite probably fatal. I’m not here to solicit your kind thoughts but to share one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a really long time. My family has always dealt with great pain with humor, and like a cowboy and his coffee, we take ours black.

While trying to get information over the phone about reflexive versus cognitive motion, I noticed that I was standing next to two evacuation wheel chairs. No big deal, and quite frankly a hospital with a cardiac ICU on the fifth floor should have way more than two chairs (two chairs? Who chooses who goes first????).

Anyhow, as I paced back and forth, I noticed that someone had taken a moment to draw the most hilarious graffiti onto the demonstration picture.

Seriously? Genius. Pure graffiti genius.

For the record, I almost never feel like the guy pushing the wheel chair. The other guy pretty much sums up my feelings about the real world.

Have a great week.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Scraping by, an IWSG

It’s time for another IWSG. If you haven’t had the privilege of heading over to Alex’s blog and jumping onto Mr. Linky, I can highly recommend doing so. First off, the posts people put out there are fantastic, and second, I’ve met some really great people, so hop on and check it out.

Today, I’d like to tell you about another way that I’m absolutely going to drive myself insane: bottom of the barrel/alternate/snuck in/wasn’t a real contender, but we had some extra spots syndrome.

I’m now going to dispense with embarrassing facts, feel free to run screaming for the hills. See, when I first applied to grad schools, my top school turned me down flat. I went and got a masters degree, and since that school didn’t have a PhD program, I applied to my top pick again. I got in as an alternate. Someone else took a different funding source so they took me.

When I was in high school, I didn’t really make the varsity team in soccer. They would often have me sit out games so they could field me on the JV team because I was young enough. They took me to all the varsity events, but I was never good enough for prime time.

On the swim team, they had a bunch of spots to fill for the team, and they didn’t have enough distance swimmers so they told me I could swim varsity if I would specialize in the 500 meter.

In band, we had a ton of saxophonists, but not enough trumpets. Would I be interested in brass? The next year it was trombone (btw, I loved trombone so much that I stayed with it all the way through college and even made districts later that first year, turned out I absolutely loved it).

I auditioned for a play and got cast… as an extra.

I entered a writing contest, and I didn’t get picked as a principle player, but then I got in as an alternate…

Do you see where I’m going with this? I’ve had this feeling for most of my life that I’m not good enough. I’m close to competing, just not all the way there. I’ve talked about not being the beauty queen of queries, but the truth is, life is like that. All of life. Some people get to win the query race, and run through the ribbon like a superstar, but if you look at the Boston Marathon, you know there aren’t nearly as many people who get to run through the ribbon as there are people just happy to cross the finish line.

Almost/alternate/scraping my way into grad school and everything else in my life has one thing in common that I usually forget: I was still in the band, I competed, I made the team, I was on stage. Sure it wasn’t the unmitigated success of my dreams, but there were other people who would have killed to be in my place (though seriously, that swim team was hard ass work, so I don’t know how many of those people would have made it more than a couple of practices).

I’ve been thinking a lot about perspective lately. I think that if I were to step into other peoples shoes they’d all feel about the same. See, I have this fear. You probably have it too. I fear that because I just scraped my way in, that it was more grit than grace, that someday—any second now really—some government official is going to walk up to me and say “Ms. Rocford, you’re a fraud. It was all a mistake. We shouldn’t have let you on the team. You shouldn’t have made the play. You were not meant to go to graduate school. We are sorry for the inconvenience, but even you have to admit you don’t really belong here.” I’d admit to the truth of the matter and go back to whatever reality I was supposed to belong to.

And the scary thing is I’m not the only person who has ever felt that way. Even Neil Gaiman admitted that he has felt like that, and he felt like that while also being very successful.

Which means this feeling has no bearing on truth or reality.

Yeah, some people get to run through the ribbon at the end of the marathon. Some people finish last. Some people get injured and don’t finish. Some people just quit. Some people are taken out by circumstances they could have never imagined when they started. And some people make it look easy, and I envy them something fierce.

I try to look at success as a mountain. There are no degrees of success, there is made it or not. The scraping by of my life has no bearing. It doesn’t matter if I crawled hand over hand from the bottom to the top, or if I free climbed up a shear face like a rock star. If you make it to the top of the mountain, you’ve made it to the top of the mountain. In the end, it’s always going to feel like we snuck on the train, or just barely made the team (but not really). That’s life. That’s publishing too. Sure there are some people who get to run through the ribbon, but it’s always going to feel like we bled our way there (even if we’re running through the ribbon).

And if you’re suffering from scraping-by-itis, just remember this: Einstein never failed any math classes in high school as popular culture has asserted, but when he went to defend his dissertation, they wouldn’t even let him try*. Imagine how he must have felt when he finally got them to allow him to defend. Did he feel like a fraud?

Regardless of how he felt, by the definitions I impose on myself, if I’d been Einstein, I would have felt like I’d just scraped by, grit not grace, orneriness not gensius. Einstein was only ever almost good enough for the team, the alternate. I try to take comfort in that.

*Germany has some interesting structures for conferring degrees, and this is an anglicized oversimplification, but one that is based in fact, they did turn him down the first time. Utterly. Bet they felt silly ten years later.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

A Scathing Review

Right, so when I use a title like that, a lot of people are thinking, “So you hated it…”

Ah, no, I actually rather enjoyed it. Still, there were some obvious issues that should have been resolved.

Snow White and the Huntsman.

First, I did enjoy this debacle.

Was it an unmitigated disaster? That depends on your definition of disaster.

If by disaster you mean plot lines that were started but insufficiently cashed in on, then yes: complete disaster. If you meant visually thrilling and expert acting, then no.

Ah, where to begin.

If you’ve seen Dan Wells’ seven points to plotting then this is a no brainer. They started a romance plot line and dropped it at pinch number 2 (Snow dies). They also gave poor Snow Plot Turn 1 and Pinch 1 without having to work for any of it, as if they couldn’t trust a certain actress to carry it off. In the villain’s plot line, they managed a complete arc making me wonder who the story was about, because the moment Charlize Theron’s character (you might remember her from Aeon Flux) dies—yeah, spoiler, the wicked witch doesn’t live through any telling of the Snow White Saga—the whole film dies with her.

Now, that being said, pretty much everything about this movie is awesome sauce on toast. The redemption of the huntsman is superb (I might be in the midst of a Thorgasm there, but seriously, Chris Hemsworth’s performance far outshown another actresses, you know the one who he spent most of his time on screen with!). And for the record, I cried when the Huntsman confessed his sins to the world. I didn’t cry when Snow bit the apple, FYI.

The evil queen is brilliant (OMG Aeon Flux, I LOVE YOU!!!). And again, the Huntsman is well played. Snow White has this moment—and if you’ve seen it you know what I mean—where I found myself saying, so crazy dead person makes everyone follow her without actually saying anything of value? WTF?

In short: Snow White and the Huntsman: Visually stunning, script could have used some love. If the other actress could have matched the wicked witch, it would have been phenomenal. As it was, the story was far more about the villain, and ends where the villain dies (seriously, what is the deal with the three whole minutes with Snow being crowned and almost crying? We could have used some effing closure).

Still, I enjoyed it, but it may be the worst edited movie I’ve seen in a while (I’m assuming that somewhere a script existed that had a payoff for the sub plots that were so masterfully crafted and then left to rot!).

I rate it a 3.5 (visually stunning, excellent villain, superb support, but crumby main character, and unresolved plot issues).

If you have an LCD with an awesome refresh rate, wait for Netflix. If you have a tv that still shoots electrons from the back to the screen, then go see it in a theater, but you can probably wait for the cheap seats (and even then, maybe a tight wad Tuesday showing will do…).

If you have an awesome in home theater, hold your horses and wait for the blue ray release. I’m sure it will have more of the interviews with Charlize Theron that are worth your time and effort anyway.

Don’t buy popcorn, so not worth it.

Any questions, leave them in the comments, and I’ll answer them as quickly as possible (For the record, I would rate the Avengers as a six out of five, The King’s Speech as a Five out of Five, and even the Never Ending Story as a 4.5 out of five because of its follow through, if that helps).