New book series...maybe

Just wrote a one paragraph pitch for a series idea I had and sent it to an editor at a publisher I've worked with in the past...the editor got right back to me saying the pitch gave her the chills! So I need to write up a full proposal, but I might be looking at my second series. Yippity skippity!

Pontificating Monday

I read a lot of new writer work. Sometimes it's really nice as it reminds me of things I want to do and things I don't want to do. Sometimes it just makes my head hurt. But recently I read yet another story with a problem I see a lot. The "let me tell you all this stuff I know and then I'll start the story" problem.

These beginnings tend to sound like this: "Joey Weber is ten years old. He's a nice kid who is generally polite and obedient but doesn't always do as well as he could in school because he daydreams. Joey has a big imagination. This can be good when it's time to write a story in Language Arts class. But it can be bad when Joey is trying to figure out why his parents are geting a divorce. His parents are worried about him. His dad is a lawyer. His mom is a electrician. They're both away from home a lot with work, and now the times they are home are pretty tense. They suspect something is going on with Joey that they ought to know, but he's not talking. And they're so caught up in their own problems that sometimes they forget to ask. So it's a tough time in the Weber household as they prepare to become two households."

And that would be a short one. I've seen these "blah, blah, blah" beginnings last two or three pages. And in a short story, that doesn't leave a ton of room for the STORY part which is usually fairly unrelated to all that opening blather. As a result, the blah-blah writer tends to have trouble with word count, and showing (since they tend to cut out the wrong stuff when trying to get down to word count).

The really sad part? -- I've done these blah blah blah beginnings. Oh, sure, not in third person with viewpoint shifts. I'd like to think I'm a far enough along in my writing to avoid that. But I have done them when writing in first person in a voice I particularly like. I fall in love with the character's voice and I just let her talk...and talk....and talk. And then I realize...good heavens, she's blathered on for three pages without a single scene. And I have to cut all that out.

On the plus side, just writing the first person blah-blah-blah helps me solidify the voice, and as long as I cut it out before inflicting it on my critique partner or sending it to an editor, I'm fine. Doing the blah, blah, blah might be serving a similar purpose for a new writer. It might be helping get the story rolling. But...please...don't forget the cutting-that-crap-out-of-there part. Because, honestly, an editor isn't ever going to get to READ your story because he's going to stop in the middle of the blah, blah, blah and look for your SASE for the rejection.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here so forgive my ramblings. Sometimes it's good to get some of the windiest bits of my pontification off my chest before I go respond to a new writer story.

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I was suddenly struck by a nursey rhyme.
Since I'd never sell it anywhere, I dump it here.

Jenny will dance for the king
And when he has seen her go tippity tap
I know he will make her a queen.

Slogging, slogging through the swampy slough

Hmmm...I'm having a bit of problem posting as my posting page seems to have gone wonky. So, this is a bit of a test. I'm not sure if I'm popping this into the correct teeny tiny box. If I manage it, I suppose I'll just have to make my posts in notepad and copy them into Live Journal.

Today I finally packaged up two stories to bundle off to magazines. One of the stories I wrote over ten years ago with the mistaken assumption that it would make a nice picture book. Actually, I still think it would, though it definitely needed some serious revision. The other is one I wrote last year in response to a writing prompt on the Writer's Retreat message board. It's a silly story but I fancied it (to use one of my favorite words from Doctor Who) so I cleaned it up a bit. I haven't been sending out enough things to magazines. Shame on me.

I'm still fighting a certain inertia but getting some submissions into the mail should help. Leastways, I hope so. I hit these horrible swampy inertia spots now and then and find them just painful to slog out of. But if I just wait for them to pass, they seem to settle in and set up house. That I simply cannot afford. Still, I detest these slogging slow times, and I love the racey fast bits.

One thing I've noticed is that when I'm in a racey fast bit, I have kaboodles of ideas popping up and trying to lure me away from the task at hand. The ideas just sound soooooo good and I see scenes and hear dialogue and they're just marvelous. Then when I finish the task...I nearly always tumble into a swamp. And the ideas then sound kinda stupid and I can't pull up the scenes with the same wit and enthusiasm. It's enough to make me feel like I've got loose cogs in the old noggin. Ya know?

Ah well...I reckon if writing was easy everyone would be doing it...oh, wait...everyone is these days, aren't they?

2012 Changes

After a year spent feeling a bit limbo-esque as we mostly waited for my husband's broken leg to heal, I have higher aspirations for 2012. So far, I haven't acted on many of them -- but I aspire. I'd like to complete a book that is not work-for-hire and jump back into the horrors of seeking normal commercial publication. You know, the whole long journey of misery that begins with agent hunting.

But first, of course, I must complete a book. I'm not so good at this. I'm gang-busters at STARTING books. And I've presently got something like twenty-three books in publication with various work-for-hire venues and another seven written, turned in, and waiting to see the light of day. So I know I CAN finish a book. But somehow...when there's no paycheck, cheering section waiting at the end...I'm not so great on actually DOING it with a book of my own.

It's not that I can't come up with an original idea. The series coming out in 2013 with ABDO was my original idea, totally. And I wrote six books without passing out or needing constant breaks to run about wildly and avoid the work of writing.

Anyway, I'm hopeful.

One kinda sad thing I've done this year is face facts and close KidMagWriters. I'm not going to be able to keep up that site. It was a spot of fun back when my husband was working and we depended less on my income so I could invest time in things that not only brought in no income but actually cost money to no gain. Now...I just don't have the time. And we really need to stop spending the money to keep it open when no one is updating it. So, it's closing. I'm sad about it. I wish someone would start a really good comprehensive site about children's magazines, but it won't be me.

(no subject)

I haven't been a little girl for a long, long time. When I was, I lived in a part of the country where bigotry was alive and well. Some bigots were such nice people until you tumbled into discussion of integrating schools, interracial marriage, or having black folks move into your neighborhood. Then things turned nasty. When we make tv shows and movies about the bigoted south, the bigots are fat, disgusting idiots -- but in real life, they were just folks.

You know something funny? Most of those folks didn't think they were racist. They trotted out a "black guy at work" that they thought well of or a "black friend" from childhood. They talked about the "nice black lady who works at the grocery store." This was proof that they liked black people -- they just didn't want them to have equal rights (though they didn't say it that bluntly, of course).

Interracial marriage was especially tough. Many of the folks I grew up with thought it was icky. There was something unnatural about it. And it was wrong in the eyes of God (backed up by interesting Scriptural choices). It was just wrong and would never be right. And allowing it would cause the total destruction of the institution of marriage.

Only, of course, it didn't. And as a very small girl, I couldn't see how it possibly could. How could who someone else married have any affect on your marriage? How was your marriage lessened if some white person married a person of color? I sometimes even asked that question but I was a little girl. But little girls are rarely given straight answers -- especially if the straight answers aren't going to make sense anyway.

Today, I'm seeing those folks again. Now many of the people who ranted and raved in my childhood have shuffled off the mortal coil. They aren't (by an large) part of the angry hoarde decrying the destruction of marriage by letting "those folks" in. It's a new group. But it's the same words. I swear, it gives me the most incredible flashbacks to hear people. I've listened to the conversation before. The voices were tinged with just as much moral outrage. The shudders of disgust were there. The calls on religion were there.

I've been there.
History is repeating itself with an exactness that is terrifying to me. This is history from my life time. Can we not learn from history in the recent past? Do we have to repeat the same bigotry, the same fear, the same disgust over and over? Is that what it means to be American?

Sometimes it makes me tired. Really tired. I love my country. I want to believe the best for it. But when I see us do again what we did when I was a little girl...I'm so sad.

When I was a very young woman, a young black man I knew was beat up for just being friends with a white girl (me). Now as a middle aged woman, I know young men are being beaten up, teased, tormented, and driven to suicide just for being suspected of being "gay."

Gay marriage is just one element of the whole deja vu experience. And sometimes, I'm really ashamed of us as humans. I don't have any close gay friends. But I once wept for a black man beaten up just for being my friend. And I can feel that pain for the folks today who are suffering the same abuse based on what they are.

(no subject)

Another lovely day brightener arrived today -- the gift of music. I tell you, if Holiday Inn corporate just employed more children's writers, they wouldn't be such stinkwads.

(no subject)

Chocolate showed up at my house today to remind me that I have the best writing friends in the world. Everything is easier with chocolate :-)


Quick Post and then I'm really going to try to stop obsessing

We heard back from Holiday Inn corporate again last night since I had pointed out that the person they said would call/email us to try to "help" didn't call (not that I thought he would.)

Corporate said they talked to the General Manager of Holiday Inn Express in Hendersonville, NC. And he said he considers this just an insurance matter -- the insurance company assures him they won't need to pay, so he's happy. And corporate is happy. But they sure hope we'll choose Holiday Inn for our next travel needs.

It was that last little happy "hope you'll choose us next time" note that was the most annoying. I KNEW they wouldn't do anything, and that little "hope you'll choose us" is probably part of the form but still...what kind of idiot would I be if we EVER stayed in a Holiday Inn Express again?

So anyway, I realized I've learned something new. You don't have to be a mob inforcer to break someone's leg and get paid to do it. You can just be the Holiday Inn Express. Our little two night stay turned into a $1000 bill just by breaking his leg. This might be a possible money maker for hotels all over NC...after all, this is a depressed economy and all you have to do is put something in your guests path. Ignore the folks who stumble but don't actually get hurt. Then BLAME the guy who finally falls and gets hurt enough to be stuck in the hotel. Then hit them with the huge room bill.

After all, the tiny bit the insurance company plans to MAYBE pay won't come directly out of the Holiday Inn Express's pocket. They already paid the insurance premiums. But that big ol' room bill went right into their pocket. So...voila...they were paid to break a leg.

How neat is that? Maybe the Holiday Inn Express should write it up as an SOP. The lawyer told me there are only four states where this could happen. I should find out what they are and send the list to Holiday Inn Express corporate so they can send a memo to the hotels in those states -- this could be a money making opportunity for them. Who cares about the welfare of the patrons?

Feeling Gloomy...

Over Thanksgiving break, my husband broke his leg. Since then, we've learned that the law in the state where he broke his leg is structured to make it very difficult to force a company to pay the expenses from something like this. Since the hotel wasn't forced to pay -- they chose not to. Even though they had clearly placed tables in the path of a tripping hazzard. Even though they had to know people stumbled over the hazzard every day (two different people volunteered how they had stumbled over the same thing that made my husband fall and we weren't taking a poll or anything.)

I wondered why they wouldn't have done something about it long ago. Now I know. The law basically protects the hotels in NC. A lawyer told us that in order for us to find a lawyer to take on this law, we'd have to be suing for a lot of money (not just expenses) because the lawyer would have to hire an investigator in order to prove the hazzard (though he fully expected the investigation would find it was a hazzard -- heck, everyone knew it was a hazzard. No one at any point was confused about it being a freaking tripping hazzard.) I don't want to sue for a lot of money. I don't want to do something I know is wrong just because they are doing something I know is wrong.

Anyone would stumble where my husband did. Almost certainly everyone walking in the pool door and heading straight for a table stumbled at least a little. But only someone physically compromised would be strongly likely to fall and would be injured as badly as my husband (the doctor said he normally saw breaks like the one my huband got in car accidents, not falls).

Anyway, my old bear is long legged. It took a LONG time to get transport home because he was not allowed to bend that leg. He wouldn't fit crosswise in the backseat of our car. Thankfully, dear friends drove us home in a van, but we had to wait until after the holiday. We were trapped at the hotel.

As we checked out, they presented us with a bill for $1000 for our stay. A stay that was only supposed to be 2 nights until they broke my husband's leg. It was then that I got that sick sinking feeling that we were screwed, but I tried to keep hope. But...the hotel's insurance turned down all the bills we've turned in so far (including the bill for our extended stay and the bill for the ambulance ride.) They don't have to pay, so they won't.

I contacted corporate since Holiday Inn Express is a big chain. Surely they don't want their company to look this bad? They broke a disabled guy's leg and then CHARGED HIM FOR IT. They pointed us back to the local hotel who has already shown they don't have to pay so they won't. The local didn't bother to contact us.

My husband says we can't go back to NC again...it's too dangerous. Since I have friends and family there, that's a tough call. Naturally, we'll never stay in another Holiday Inn Express. And this has hoovered up our savings. But ultimately it's done something far more emotionally painful. Somehow, despite being almost 50 years old, I had managed to hold onto the smallest belief that in a situation where the right thing is obvious, most folks will do the right thing.

I was shown to be a fool.
Maybe that shouldn't be important, but somehow it really is.
One of the ways we feel safe in the world is by having a certain amount of faith...sure, faith in God, but also faith that people are...given half a chance...willing to rise to the ocassion. So I guess I feel foolish and a little less safe in the world.

Thanks Holiday Inn Express for showing me I'm an aging fool and that the world my little girl is growing up in is growing less kind every day. Thanks for making me a little more afraid. You know, maybe the commercials about how the Holiday Inn Express makes you smarter are true -- they sure taught me a lesson.