Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Those 71,405 Words You Wrote Means That Your Soul Belongs To Me

Length of completed novel entitled Line 21: 69,389 words.
Length of completed synopsis: 1,720 words.
Length of query letter template: 296 words.

Total amount of words that my soul is apparently worth to the familiars who bought it to use and abuse until I screamed for something they are unable to give: 71,405 words.

During this past weekend (March 25th thru the 27th) I took the first three steps in a new journey of debauchery, heartache and pulling my hair out with a pair of tweezers:

Step one was cutting off anymore internal debate about what I wanted to do with my book (hence, selling my soul).

Step two was going to QueryTracker to finish researching my wickedly short list of agents that I had chosen to start my journey with.

Step three was putting together four query/submission packages and mailing them out this past Monday.

In days gone by, or at least, what I've been doing in the present with my short stories, I would create a basic database to properly track my queries. However, since QueryTracker has a nifty feature in which you can track your queries in the various stages of digestion, that has more or less eliminated the need for me use up valuable computer memory cells.

But that did leave me with the interesting problem of how to share the data with my friends and readers. You see, I figure that since I brought you along on this journey, sometimes willing and sometimes kicking and screaming like a two year old toddler, I might as well continue inflicting just a teeny weeny bit more pain on you.

Well, that plus the fact that I valuable blog space that needs to be filled up on a thrice-weekly basis.

So what I decided to do with that useful information (because you just know I love playing around with useful and useless information) was to create yet another page for my blog.

Called "Submissions for Line 21", this page will be my handy dandy easy peasy lemon squeezy home for my all my submissions for my novel. Among the things that you'll find are these nifty items:

1} Agency/Publisher
2} When Snail Mailed/E-Mailed
3} What The Result Was
4} And maybe an interesting tidbit or two.

Kewl, eh?

It will be updated whenever I get the opportunity to either submit a query or when I when I get some wholesome/unwholesome news about my queries. Also, for an added bonus, you can leave comments on it if you so desire.

Please check it out today for the initial four queries that were sent out.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I'm Sorry, But...


After I had an extensive meeting this morning, things are almost back to normal. However, during the course of the meeting, a few things were mentioned to me that in turn has caused me to make the decision that I sincerely didn't want to make.

I had to remove Monday's post.

I apologize to one and all for doing this to you. You guys have been there for me time and again and I truly appreciate what good friends you've been to me for the past three years.

I believe very strongly in those words that I wrote on Monday. I'm just sorry that I had to pull the post from my blog.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

My Neighborhood

Over at Shooting Suburbia we have part four of "My Neighborhood" for you to read and become severely confused at your leisure.

Why severely confused?

Because I had a ton of fun writing nonsensical pop-culture style captions for the picture. Considering how this past week went for me, going just absolutely Mondo Video while writing was very Parker Lewis.*

*For those of you who didn't quite get that last sentence, Mondo Video was the name of the store owned by Parker Lewis's dad in the show "Parker Lewis Can't Lose".

Friday, March 25, 2011

Humor Me, Because I Need It Bad!

A local bar was so sure that its bartender was the strongest man around that they offered a standing $1,000 bet. The bartender would squeeze a lemon until all the juice ran into a glass, and hand the lemon to a patron. Anyone who could squeeze one more drop of juice out would win the money. Many people (weightlifters, longshoremen, lumberjackes, etc.) had tried over time but nobody could do it.

One day a scrawny little man wearing thick glasses and a polyester suit came in and said in a tiny squeaky voice, "I'd like to try the bet."

After the laughter died down, the bartender said okay, grabbed a lemon, and squeezed away. Then he handed the wrinkled remains of the rind to the little man. But the crowd's laughter turned to total silence as the men clenched his fist around the lemon and six drops fell into the glas. As the crowd cheered, the bartender paid the $1,000, and asked the little man, "What do you do for a living?"

The man replied, "I work for the IRS."


The Dsyfunctional Section of a Hallmark Store.

1} I always wanted to have someone to hold, someone to love. And now that you've come into my life---I've change my mind.

2} I must admit, you brought religion into my life---I never believed in Hell until I met you.

3} As the days go by, I think how lucky I am---That you're not here to ruin it for me.

4} Congratulations on your promotion. Before you go---will you take the knife from my back? You'll probably need it again.

5} Someday I hope to marry---someone other than you.

6} Happy Birthday! You look great for your age---almost lifelike!

7} When we're together, you said you'd die for me---now that we're broken up, I think it's time to keep your promise.

8} We've been friends for a very long time---what do you say we stop?

9} I'm so miserable without you---it's almost like you're still here.

10} Congratulations on your new bundle of joy---did you ever find out who the father was?

11} You are such a good friend. If we were on a sinking ship and there was only one life jacket---I'd miss you terribly and think of you often.

12} Looking back over the years we've been together, I can't help but wonder---what was I thinking?

13} Congratulations on your wedding day!---too bad no one likes your husband.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Querying We Will Go, A Querying We Will Go

I promise that this will be last post about my query letter for at least a couple of weeks, because I know you're just dying for me to talk about something a hell of lot less brain cell killing than my adventures in writing a query letter. And that Harry Callahan special that you have pointing at my blog along with my arm suddenly being jacked up behind my back has nothing to do with it either.

Anyways, buried deep (well, not too deep) in the comment form from last Wednesday's post was me trumpeting the fact that I finally finished my query letter. Basically what happened was that on the day of my last blog post about this issue, I found myself in much the same situation as the day before, which was trying to stay occupied without getting into trouble.

So once again, I whipped out my handy dandy teeny tiny notepad and began writing what I mentioned in my previous blog post: namely, how to work the rest of the book in with only about 75 words left to play with. And even though I suddenly got smacked with a late afternoon work blitz, I was still able to hang on to my train of thought and complete the second portion of my query letter.

As of Wednesday evening, I had a first draft of my query letter transcribed to the computer. On Friday, I decided to use a few hours of vacation time to catch up on some writing. However, one major pain in the ass thing happened on Thursday (ticket for not having a front license plate on my car. potential fine $117) that prevented me from doing anything constructive beyond writing a second draft of my query.

So now I have two drafts of my query letter. And I betcha can guess what I'm about to ask of you, right?

That's right. You're gonna follow me over to Partially Yours and offer your opinion/critique of both of my query letters. The first one clocks in at 233 words, while the second clocks in 229 words.

Many thanks for taking the time to do this. It is greatly and genuinely appreciated.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Testing, Testing

Hi gang!

This is a test post. Please let me know if this actually comes through on your reader, because apprantly I haven't gotten any visits from my regular readers and I'm trying to narrow down the reason as to why.

Many Thanks,


Monday, March 21, 2011

Books At Work (2)


And so we continue with the next five selections in our series devoted to my collection of eclectic books that currently reside in my work cubicle.

6} The Complete Monty Python, Volume 1 & Volume 2: This was one of the first books that I actually paid for by credit card (AMEX). I was out with a former friend of mine browsing at Barnes & Noble when I happened to see this book series in their large selection of humor (this was back in the early 90's when book chains carried all kinds of books). So being the kind of guy who would appreciate classic television comedy, I picked up this two volume set. This two volume set contains every single episode of this landmark TV series, in script form, from beginning to end, including all the various animation breaks and what not.

7} My first self pubbed book and my second self pubbed book. I have in my cubicle one copy of my first book and five copies of my second book. The reason why I have five copies of my second book is that just in case somebody is intrigued enough from reading the jacket blurb that I have sitting on the shelf to buy the book. The reason why I have one copy of my first book is that I have something to remind me of how I used to write and how I need to rebuild my reputation as a writer because of that first book. Both are very much for sale. Buy a copy today, preferably from me. You'll be glad that you did.

8} Belle Harbor Skeleton, Murder Junction, Another Day Another Murder, Puzzles, Murder and Other Bad Habits, Silent Alarm: The first six volumes of a murder mystery series by Susan Hooper. This particular author I first met back in 2008 while she was a vendor at the office where I currently work. As a vendor she sold handmade wooden and yarn type items, as well as her self-pubbed novels. Overall she has written nine murder mysteries, and they are the kind of mysteries in which you really can't read out of order. She was the one who first introduced me to self publishing, and for that I have mixed feelings on. Please click here for a book review on this series.

9}The Pessimist's Guide to History by Stuart and Doris Flexnor. I originally got this book for my birthday back in the late 90's while I was working at the library from a co-worker. It covers history from the time of the dinosaurs right up to the late 80's and as the second word of the book title states, that is a rather gloomy yet black humorous outlook on world history. The book is still in print, and while I have the original 1992 edition, the link itself is for the updated edition that was published in 2008. For those of you who simply love e-books, it's available in that format as well.

10} Mixed Nuts by Lawrence Epstein. I found this book in the discount rack at Ocean State Job Lot. For those of you who do not know this little tidbit, stores like Ocean State and Big Lots are where, if you're a (semi) successful writer, your books could probably wind up as marked down by 85% from the list price. Strangely enough, I see a lot of L. Ron Hubbard's garbage in those stores. Anyways, this book is about the comedy teams from the 1930's right up through the 1990's. From Laurel and Hardy to The Three Stooges, The Marx Brothers to Martin and Lewis, and Lucille Ball and Vivian Vance to the gang from Seinfeld and everyone in between, this book covers them all in a way that is highly informative and respectfully entertaining.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

My Neighborhood

Over at Shooting Suburbia we have part three of "My Neighborhood" for your enjoyment.

Over here, we have a post trumpeting the fact that we have a new post up at Shooting Suburbia.


Friday, March 18, 2011

My Co-Pilot? Why, It's Pooh Bear

Since the warmer weather is now coming into focus here at Cedar's Mountain, I've run into the problem of what exactly should I do with Pooh bear?

To refresh, I've spent the winter months with Pooh bear safely stashed inside the front pocket of my jacket. But since he's come back from his winter home in the Bahamas (or Bermuda, Key West, Hawaii, wherever it's warm where you're not), I have been at a loss as to where he could stay.

Obviously he couldn't stay in my jacket, because unlike some teenagers, I don't wear a wickedly heavy jacket in the warm weather. In the 'tween months (March thru early April), I wear my hoody to keep me protected from the elements. Obviously, I can't really carry Pooh bear in my hoody very well, now can I? I could stash him in one of my pockets, but that would give the appearance that he is napping all the time.

However, when I'm carrying him in my pocket, he isn't napping, but is resting in between photo shoots.

Yes, I said, photo shoots.

Sometime later this year, I will be posting up a picture series featuring Pooh Bear called (what else) "A Day In The Life."

But I blogress.

Anyways, I soon arrived at a solution about what to do with Pooh Bear. I made him my shotgun passenger. I gave him his own little seat in the cup holder net to me, so he gets to ride around and have a good time pretending to drive.

Sometimes, when I'm in a good mood, I'll let him ride shotgun. He's a great passenger, because he never complains and looks at life with a gentle grin, a twinkle in his eye, and Bit O Honey candy bar in his hands.

The one thing that he does very well, for which the surrounding world should be very grateful for, is that he helps reduce the potential need to get nasty with the human race.

Unlike what you see here on my blog and on your blog (or your Facebook wall should we happen to be friends there), in the real world I have a tendency to be wickedly anti-social. I throw out the kind of vibes and body language that says in no uncertain terms that you should not even look in my direction at all.

Pooh Bear though, he acts like a necessary buffer. Yes, I said, buffer. Don't tell me that you don't have some kind of buffer that helps keep you in check when you get the urge to get ugly on someone? We all have a buffer of some kind, and my buffer happens to be Pooh Bear.

Now you may think that's funny, but if you think about it, it really isn't. It's very hard to get angry at people when you're toting around a Pooh bear. I originally started toting around Pooh bear because he was a great conversation starter with children and adults of all ages. But as the months progressed, it became clear that Pooh Bear was not just a good conversation starter, but a necessary break from reality.

Think about it. I'm sure that somewhere tucked away in the deepest darkest corners of your inner self, you have a certain something that gives you that needed break from reality. Something that you would only share with close family members, if you'd shared it at all. Well, Pooh Bear is my certain something that gives me that needed break from reality.

To me, Pooh Bear is more than just a needed break from reality. He's a link to a not-so-distant past where things were a bit easier, a bit mellower, and less stressful.

And maybe just as importantly, he allows me to show a side of myself that I often keep well hidden from my family, my friends and most of my co-workers.

Life is more than just noisy shiny crap.

It contains a few gentle things as well.

Like Pooh.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The 9th Circle of Hell Is Called "Query"


Fear is a fantastic motivator. We fear failing, so we try our absolute best in whatever endeavor we choose to partake in.

In my case, fear of not having anything to post today was my motivator. I went into last weekend with the basic idea of writing a first draft of my query letter. Imagine not to my surprise that I had accomplished absolutely nothing towards my goal of writing a first draft. However, imagine my surprise that here it was the day before my scheduled post and I had absolutely nothing on tap.

Nada. Zip. Zilcho. Empty. Devoid.

Well, you get the picture.

Anyways, yesterday (3/15) I got to thinking about my query letter while I was busy trying to close my payroll. Having the law laid down, not just to me, but to all of us in a staff meeting last week (fyi: i work for the govt. my govt is $3 billion in the red. need I say more?) about doing everything under the sun to show that we are needed, all I had to work with for writing my query was my brain. By the time lunch rolled around, I did enough brainstorming to overwhelm any professional motivator, so I was determined to do something with all that information.

In less then ten minutes, I had taken pen to paper and wrote out 101 words for my query. Thus, my query now looks like this:

The game of public sex is hard enough to play when you got the family loan shark looking for a piece of your action, but when your internal twin wants a piece of the action as well, its enough to question your own sanity.

Flat broke and with no job, Jeannie was terrified of winding up like one of her uncle's deadbeat customers. Oh sure, she was able to get her uncle to agree to a five day extension to get current with her juice payments, thanks to her ability to turn a word on its ear, but a lot of good that did her. Still, somebody up there must've felt something for her, because no sooner than she hung up her phone, a young man began chatting her up. Next thing she knew, she was holding a card that was her potential salvation.
Not bad for someone who normally doesn't write well under pressure (or self imposed deadlines for that matter). I still got about another 50 words or so to play with (rule of thumb is about 150 words for a synopsis) plus a little extra because I have absolutely zippo for a writer's bio, and with those 50 plus words I still have to work in Jeannie's symbiont Aissa, her loser boyfriend Geoff and the fact that Jeannie and Aissa wound out on spiritual journey of sorts as well.

Trust me, the final version will be hell of lot more polished than this, but for now, I am damn proud of the fact that I was actually able to write this much of a query letter to begin with. Hopefully by next Wednesday, I will have a final version to share with everyone.

And to bring back an oldy but a goody feature, I have a two part question for you!

"Rule of thumb states that the request for representation, plus the title and other assorted things like word count, genre, etc, should go at the very beginning of the query, just before the hook and the synopsis. I was thinking of either splitting it up, with half (say, the request and title) at the beginning and the other half after the synopsis, or putting it all after the synopsis. Or should I scratch that idea and do it like everyone else?"

Or if that question is a no-brainer, how about this?

"What genre would you throw Line 21 under? To refresh, it contains the following themes: graphic sex (adult movies), fantasy (a symbiont along the lines of DS9 with the ability to swap control of the body with the host, and vice versa), and a mix bit of bitter romance (boyfriend who has ulterior motives) and platonic love (childlike bodyguard who develops a crush on Jeannie)."

Monday, March 14, 2011

Books At Work (1)

I thought I would try something a little out of the ordinary, which is giving you the reader another glimpse into the world of wonder that is me.

This particular section of the world of wonder that is me won't be about music. Instead, it will be about books, generally what I like to read and specifically, what I actually own. Today's post kicks off a five part series devoted to my eclectic collection of books that I have stored at work.

As you may or may not know, I do not purchase a lot of books. As a matter of fact, except for three large book series I purchased from Time Life back in my early 30's, I purchased a total of less than four dozen books in my lifetime, and about a third of that amount being purchased since 2008.

There are two reasons as to why I don't purchase a lot of books:

1}Public libraries. I prefer to browse the new book sections at my public library and read new books that way, as opposed to purchasing them outright.

2}Economics. My credit cards have taken such a beating over the years that the only time the major cards come out are for either special occasions, renewing important subscriptions (i.e. Norton) or car repairs.

So basically the only real way I will purchase new books is one, they are discounted up to 50% off or two, the writers themselves offer it for sale. Which means that for the most part, I use either that funny green paper or that funny rectangular piece of paper that says "pay to the order of."

However, to be upfront with everyone, there are exactly 3 books on this list in which I pay for them by credit card. The other twenty-three were paid with cash or check or given as a gift.

So, without further ado, we begin at the beginning.

1} WCW: The Final Roster by Eric Chmiell. I am a big fan of pro wrestling and up until the tail end of February 2011, I'd watched or read about it for about thirty-three years. This book was written, self published and offered by Eric through his now defunct wrestling newsletter back in 2001, and basically the book chronicles the wrestlers that were involved with the WCW from the time Ted Turner purchased it through its purchase and closure by Vince McMahon.

2} The Politically Incorrect Guides to American History and the Constitution. I found these books very entertaining, very informative and somewhat disturbing. By disturbing I mean that it's incredible the way American history is being taught and the way the Constitution is being twisted to do things the writers never intended for it to do. The series itself is highly recommended and please check for further titles at Regnery Publishing Inc.

3} The Beekeeper's Apprentice, A Monstrous Atrocity of Women, The Moor, all by Laurie King. I first got into this particular writer when I found the last book listed at one of my library's semi annual book sales. The one thing that attracted me to the book in the first place was that it featured Sherlock Holmes in it. In this particular book series he had a companion called Mary Russell and he was semi retired from sleuthing. The writer did a pretty good job of moving him up from the Victorian age to the time period just after World War I.If you're looking for a good mystery series featuring a familiar character with a new twist, this one is for you.

 4} Death by Committee, Deadmistress, all by Carole Shmurack. I picked up the first book for the simple reason that it was autographed. I also found out after reading the first book that the author is a local well-known mystery writer who happens to teach at one of the universities. I was so impressed with the first land that I picked up the second a month later. If you like murder mysteries with a local flavor, which in this case is Connecticut, then this book series is for you. One other interesting note is that I actually found these titles at Border's.

5} Final Exits by Michael Largo.This was one of my more freakier acquisitions. I enjoy reading nonfiction that is skewered towards the offbeat or the macabre, and this book is definitely a combination of the two. If you like reading or learning about the various ways that people have died throughout the centuries, then this book is for you.

The one really weird thing that I noticed while I was gathering up the necessary information to compose this particular series was that while the bulk of the selections were purchased at Border's, the remaining came from such diverse places as: a contest, a couple of discount stores, other bookstores, online and the writer themselves. Sometimes you can often find the best reading material in the most unlikliest of places.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Three Brain Cells And Their Thoughts

No habla espanol, but would love to some day. Until then, we will settle for saying one of the few words that I do know.


Over at Shooting Suburbia we have part two of "My Neighborhood". Over here, we a few random nouns, verbs, adverbs and adjectives strung together to form a few tidbits of what happened to me this week. The tidbits in question cover the following: the Internet, literary journals and blogs.

1} The Internet: earlier in the week I decided to catch up on the few blogs and websites that I visit on a very infrequent basis. Unlike the blogs I have stashed in my reader, I have a few blogs and websites that sit in about a dozen custom made folders for me to peruse whenever I need to take a break from reality. Anyways, I was looking for a link to a nifty cartoon drawn by Nik Houser called "Gentleman Caveman", and had a problem remembering which folder I shoved it into (turns out I didn't put it into a folder, but kept it separate from the others). In one of my folders called "Very Weird" was a link called Celebrity Morgue. Anyways, I brought up the link and began searching the bottom tabs. Lesson learned was this: do not, under any circumstances, go exploring a link that you aren't properly prepared to experience. Especially at night and especially if your brain is already shutting down for the day. If you want further details, click on the link if you dare. If you really want to experience the dark side of the Internet, click on this portal link. Oh and, the link called "Celebrity Morgue" is sponsored by

2} Literary Journal. One of the things that I've grown to dislike from entering writing contests sponsored by literary journals are the subscriptions that you get with your entry fee. So the other day, instead of filing a copy of The Texas Review (Sam Houston State University) in the circular file, I decided to bring it to work and give it away for free. Repeat after me, free. Anyways, I put it out and a couple of hours later, I noticed it was gone. I thought to myself, "Kewl, someone took it."

Imagine my surprise when a few hours later I called into a private meeting with my supervisor. She gave me the journal and said that someone flipped through it, saw something objectionable and complained about it. I said "How could that be? Literary journals as a rule don't carry provocative stories." Anyways, I opened it to the first story (Miss Juicy Owns It by Charles Alcorn) and within the first paragraph I saw this sentence:

His "working" name was Circus Penis.

Yup, someone apparently bitched about the word "penis" and I got called to the carpet on it. My boss wasn't really upset and in fact found it as funny as I did that someone, who works in an agency that among other things is in the forefront for LGBTG issues among children and teenagers, would find the word "penis" offensive.

'Nuff said.

3} Blogs. Earlier in the week, I asked all of you for suggestions on what kind of blogs I should add to my blog roll. In no particular order of importance, here is what the following people suggested for me to add.

Charles Gramlich suggested Pattinase
Lynn suggested Windy Skies
Chris suggested Bad Ass Of The Week.
Bruce suggested Make Daddy A Sammich and one of his own blogs called The Guy Book.
Bearman suggested Crabby Old Fart
Sparkling Red suggested Joey's Pad and Wigsf3
Nurse Myra suggested Alone With Cats and Renal Failure.
Riot Kitty suggested a few as well, but I already follow the ones she suggested.

This past Friday evening, I did some blog surfing, and boy, were those seven blogs and one website interesting. After doing a quick read of each one (or at least try to do a quick read of each one), I narrowed done my choices to three blogs and one website. The website is Bad Ass Of The Week and the three blogs are Make Daddy A Sammich, Crabby Old Fart and Alone With Cats.

The others I will definitely keep under consideration as I do have a tendency to purge whenever a blog doesn't do it for me anymore.

I thank one and all for the blog suggestions, and now my current total is that familiar cliche number that we all love to use when we're insulting someone or something.


Friday, March 11, 2011

I Stand Corrected

For the past umpteen weeks/months, I have stated with unequivocal certainty that I have never read YA books, of any type, be they the old definition of YA (anything geared towards the under 18 crowd) or the current definition of YA and its relatively new cousin (at least for this old geezer) of MG.

After finding myself with a lot of time of my hands one particularly annoying day last week, I found myself doing a little word association. I got to thinking about a particular song from a particular movie from the late 80's.

The song in question was Don't Box Me In by Stuart Copeland and Stan Ridgway.

The movie? Rumble Fish

Yup, thinking about that song got me to poke around the dusty rooms of my memories from when I was but a lad of my son's age (18), and sure enough, I was able to conclude that I did indeed read what could be called both YA & MG books.

So my friends, come along with me on a journey of a public mea culpa as I elaborate on what I was able to find buried deep within the recesses of my memories.

Let's start our journey of mea culpa with the book that got me to this point in the first place: Rumble Fish.

I remember reading this book in my younger years (20's that is) at either a cousin's or a friend's house. If I continue to remember correctly, the book was exceptionally riveting and I think it took me about a day to read. I can't really tell you what it was about because I only remember a few bits, pieces and parts from the book, but I'm sure with only a little bit of effort, you can find a decent synopsis about it.

What I can tell you is that by this age frame, I was not a big fan of movies made from books, so even though I enjoyed the theme song, I did not watch the movie. I also did not watch the movie called The Outsiders which was based on the book that I also read and enjoyed, nor did I really watch the t.v. series based on the movie either.

Side note: I should've warned my newer readers ahead of time that I have a tendency to go off on an exceptional amount of tangents whenever I go tripping the light fantastic with my memories.

Next up on our hit parade are the Hardy Boy Mysteries.

Yes, I did read the occasional volume here and there, and yes, I did watch episodes of the t.v. series featuring Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy. Beyond that, I plead the 5th as to what further information is contained in my brain about this book series.

Moving on, we now come to the last YA/MG book series that I will admit to reading to even as an adult.

Encyclopedia Brown.

Yes, I very much enjoyed the crime mystery series that was geared towards the tween set. Matter of fact, I still enjoy reading the series to this day, mostly because they still appeal to the analytical side of my character. I love problem solving and this book series still remains a great way to challenge and stimulate those brain cells.

It's a great book series for the young and old and I highly recommend it for those who like problem solving.

Even though this was the last book I admit to reading in the YA genre that I will write about, I would be remiss if I didn't mention a few exceptional high quality children's t.v. shows that I enjoy watching to this day.

1} Thomas the Tank Engine. If you must watch the portion of the show that features people, please watch the seasons that featured Ringo Starr. His brand of deadpan humor plus the way he was able to communicate with children puts his episodes heads and shoulders above the ones that featured George Carlin.

The stories themselves were expertly created and well worth renting/buying as a stand alone. Oh yeah, forget about the movie version that featured Alec Baldwin as Mr. Conductor.

2} The live action version of "The Winds In The Willows". The movie and subsequent t.v. series, in my opinion, set the standard for quality children's programming that has yet to be met to this day. If you've read the book, chances are that you will like the t.v. series and movie. Don't watch the cartoon version of this because it sucks.

To sum it up in a nutshell: I have read YA before and have enjoyed YA before.

However, that was then, and this is now. Now is still not cracking open a YA book to read.

Unless it's "Alice In Wonderland", "Winne the Pooh" or "The Wizard of Oz".

Thursday, March 10, 2011

When A Young Man's Fancy Turns To You Know What

Continuing with the burst of creativity, Cedar's Mountain sautees your brain with a naturally juicy post that will either make you chuckle or get offended, or quite possibly both.

Today's post is Cedar's Moutain's 3rd annual pre-Spring/Summer celebration. For those of you who are relative newcomers to this blog, since 2009 I have written a very misogynistic and 100% testosterone fueled ode to the female form, usually around Spring and Summer.

You know, when the weather gets warmer (50's or higher) and the clothes get lighter.

Anyways, 2011 is no exception. Unlike the previous years that were posted here, this year's ode can be found at Partially Yours. Please keep in mind that this is written with tongue planted firmly in cheek and in no way, shape or form, would I actually verbalize these kinds thoughts that bluntly during any kind of bullshit sessions with my male friends. Or with my female friends for that matter.

For 2009's testosterone fueled Summertime ode to the female form, please check out "Summertime Sizzzzzzzzzzles".

For 2010's over the top testosterone fueled Springtime ode to the female form, please check out "You Know It's Springtime When..."

And remember, I really am a very nice guy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

One Page Equals 250 Words Equals Blowing Your Mind

For this week's Writing Wednesday post, I wanted to share with everyone a first draft of my query letter for Line 21. I actually had enough quiet time a couple of weekends ago to sit in front of my computer and make an honest attempt at writing out the first draft of my query.

However, after the 72 hour weekend finished up, the only thing that I had to show for my efforts was this opening hook:

The game of public sex is hard enough to play when you got a family loan shark looking for a piece of your action, but when your symbiont wants a piece of the action as well, it can make you question your own sanity.

And why was this the only part of my query letter that I was able to write that weekend, boys and girls? Because I spent the rest of the weekend frying out my brain cells doing the following: reading up on how to properly write a query letter; how to properly format a query letter; reading dozens of samples of good and bad query letters (note, I am not that overly impressed with Janet Reid's Miss Snark blog); and thinking about how to distill my two and a quarter page synopsis down to 150 words.

As a matter of fact, the only part of the letter that I really have planned out besides the opening hook, which needs a little tweaking, is probably the other part of the opening (which will not be at the top but right after the synopsis) that mentions the book title/word count and what the book is all about.

Beyond those two items, I am like a bad driver that is tire-well deep in a mud bog with the pavement just mere inches away from pulling me to safety.

In other words, hopelessly stuck.

In days gone by, I probably would've chucked in the towel, put the novel on the back burner (or worse) and continue on my merry way writing up a storm and playing the mind game of "what if" until I screamed for mercy.

But, since I decided to get published the normal (i.e. the traditional) way instead of non-normal way (self-pubbing with a good business plan in place), I will be cracking down this week to work on the query letter.

I will admit that I am just a tad nervous about doing this letter, just like when I wrote the synopsis. Why? Because throughout my life, there have been times where I didn't do certain things simply because I didn't think I could do it without monumentally screwing it up (aka failing), and since I abhor failing, I never made the attempt.

This time around though, capitulation is not an option, viable or otherwise. I will refuse to capitulate on something that is strongly required in order advance along my chosen path of self-destruction. After all, do I capitulate on potential job openings if I don't exactly qualify for them? Sometimes I do, but that is the real world, where you have to pick and choose your battles in order to maximize the necessity of staying gainfully employed during economic strife.

While this is also the real world, this is something where for the most part, it is considered a second income for a great many people who choose to pursue this particular endeavor. Writing is only a primary income for a small percentage of people who have chosen to make it their primary occupation in life.

So, I will make another attempt this coming weekend to write something of a query letter (have the hook all set and have a something of a rough draft for a pitch at the end to replace the writer's bio that I do not have at the moment), because quite frankly, I'm getting tired of sitting on the sidelines with this book. The book is written, edited, re-written, re-edited, re-re-written, and re-re-edited. The synopsis has been written, critiqued, edited, and re-written. I have four agents picked out that I want to query, as well as a few potential small press publishers.

What I need is a good query letter to complete the package.

Writing a query letter is like having the Novocaine wearing off from a pulled tooth extraction and the painkiller prescription is sitting in your pocket because you're stuck in rush hour traffic and you have absolutely nothing to wash it down with.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

A Request

Yes, I know that this is a non-scheduled post, but I'm feeling extra creative this week. Anyways, the reason for this post is pretty simple.

I need help.

Specifically, two more blogs to add to my reading list. I currently follow 98 (yes, you read correctly) live and not so live blogs. Since I'm a bit anal about numbers, I would like to make my list an even 100.

If you could be so kind, please leave a thoughtful suggestion in my comment box of a blog (plus corresponding addy) that you might think will tickle my fancy.

And remember kiddies, yours truly is almost always not offended by what he reads.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Concierto Cúbico

There are times throughout my extremely busy day in which I find myself sitting my cubicle with nothing but silence to keep me company.

During those times where I find myself sans radio and sans small talk with coworkers, I will sit back in my chair and concentrate on what my half of the floor is vocalizing.

Now if you think that listening to what the floor is saying is somewhat difficult, it really isn't. For better or worse, I work on an open floor. An "open floor" means that because the walls to the various cubicles are rather short (a shade under 5' 7"), sounds and conversations that under normal circumstances would be private, are in fact not.

Let me give you a travelogue of sorts.

For instance, I can hear during my break a loud conversation from the far corner of the floor drifting over to my cubicle. I can hear someone flipping through a pile of papers as they sort out time sheets to distribute to the various departments on payday.

Off to my left, I can hear a phone call or two being played out. A fax machine spitting out a ton of faxes. Above me, I can hear the quiet hum of the heating system seeping through the vents.

Elsewhere, someone is tapping away on their computer keyboard; a desk drawer being opened and rummaged through; someone wheeling their chair back and forth in their cubicle.

A phone is ringing and being answered; the elevator stopping at the floor with its specific dings stating whether they're going up or down. A printer is running a couple of print jobs and even with all of these sounds, I can still hear my computer doing its intermittent internal proccessing.

Sometimes, it can get so quiet on the floor that I can hear the bathroom door open and close, or even a private conversation in Spanish.

And sometimes during my work day, the floor comes alive with so much noise that I can often lose my place in whatever I'm doing at the moment.

What kind of noise?

When a bi-weekly management meeting concludes, everyone comes pouring out of the room with tons of energy and loads of motivation. Extremely loud conversations as people are talking over one another trying to get their point across.

Or, during the holiday season, or even if some is retiring, I can often hear the various celebrations and good times seeping through the closed doors and make it back to my cubicle.

And even though I sit next to a widow on the 8th floor and I'm pretty much insulated from the outside world, sometimes the outside world is loud enough to pierce through the windows to make themselves known.

Finally, at the end of the day is what I like best. The floor slowly goes silent as it carefully regurgitates its current occupants so that its inner chi can be restored to a normal balance.

My friends, thus ends the Concierto Cúbico. I trust that this piece of of avant garde music didn't turn you off and instead opened your mind to the endless possibilities of the complex world we call sound.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Visual Verbal

Over at Shooting Suburbia we have the first installment of a brand new series called "The Neighborhood."

Over here, we have verbal version of a very small Sunday comic strip clip taken from one of my absolute favorite comic strips, alive or dead, Bloom County.


Milo Bloom: Please fetch me, dear knave, a "Whopper." and hold the bun.

Clerk: You can't have it that way.

Milo Bloom: What's this? New rules? New restrictions? Who's behind this? The LIBERALS?!




Clerk: Here, "Whopper" sans bun.

Milo Bloom: Milkshake, hold the cup.

Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm 14! I Don't Do YA! Give Me The Good Schtuff!!

It's funny how writing a blog post will often trigger an idea for an almost completely unrelated post.

Earlier in the week, I wrote a post about using cliches in your blog. At the very end of the post, I put in about a half dozen snippets as examples of cliches.

Today's post is about one of those snippets.

Back in the day when I was but a lad of the age of my post title, I very rarely read any YA stuff. Oh sure, I wandered through the children's stacks looking for something to read, but for the most part, what I was finding wasn't suitable for me with my above average IQ.

However, I did find one book that struck a chord with me, mainly because it had a bunch of comic strips in it. Now at that age, I absolutely loved comics, so I checked the book out.

Imagine my surprise when I realized that the comics in the book were not really geared towards children, but more towards adults.

I found out much, much later that this particular book was actually misclassified as a children's book instead of an adult book.

The book I checked out and of which still resonates with me some 30 years later was called, "Arnold Roth's Comick Book of Sports".

By the time I'd finished reading this book, I was in stitches. This book was so incredibly funny that I wound up frequently checking it out of the library over the proceeding years.

I highly recommend picking up this book (which is why I linked up to it) because it offers a fantastic look at humor in the 1970's.

When I was a kid, Arnold Roth did the bulk of his drawing for magazines like Sports Illustrated (which I read voraciously) and Playboy (which was not allowed in my household) and his artwork became almost as recognizable as Sergio Aragones (he is also on Facebook too).

I mean you didn't even have to look for his initials on his artwork to realize it was him.

And his sense of humor? If you like the seriously skewered and politically incorrect sports related humor of the 70's, Arnold Roth is definitely for you.

I reiterate, this book has stuck so bad in my memory that to this day, the sentence, "I are ready." brings a smile to my face.

This book, along with others that I read when I was a young teenager, made sure that YA never crossed my line of sight, then or to this day.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Delayed, Postponed And Pushed Back

Due to a previously scheduled family issue, today's thematic post on writing has been pushed back to March 9th.

And since this previously scheduled family issue has brought along a high amount of stress and worry, I will be offline today and tomorrow.

And since I'm going to be offline until Friday, I thought it would be in my blog's best interest to have this post sans comments.

Take care and I'll see you on the flipside.


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