Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Six Years Later, We Can Finally Snoopy Dance!

In the spring of 2006, I started on a long and incredible personal journey. Vehicle of choice? Pen and paper to start, which was soon upgraded to keyboard and monitor.

For the first couple of years, the journey was filled with bumps, potholes, detours and right turns taken at Albuquerque. In 2008, a good cyber friend of mine suggested that I try my hand at blogging, and thus, a blogger was born.

For the next two years ('08-'10), I practiced my craft on this blog and tried to soak up the knowledge of my fellow writers as well as my fantastic readers, either on their blogs or here on my bog, that they were gracious enough to give to me. In 2009, I had reached the first milestone in this journey of mine, when David Cranmer, editor-in-chief of the fantastic e-zine Beat To A Pulp, took a gamble and published a short story of mine (Cedar Mountain), which not only gave me that all important first writing credit but gave me a fantastic boost of my confidence as well.

Two years later, after diligently applying the tips that such diverse writers as David, Elaine AshDavid Barber,  Charles Gramlich, Jane Turley and Travis Erwin were gracious enough to give, I got my 2nd short story published (Red Stripe) at another fine e-zine.

In between having those two stories published, I was inspired to not only get serious with my writing, but to get published in the traditional sense of the word. Thus, Line 21 was born.

From February 2010 thru the spring of 2011, I wrote, polished, edited, re-wrote, and re-edited this novel until it shined. When it was ready (thanks in large part to my very good blogger friend M, who writes this fantastic blog and allowed me to pick her brain more times that I can possibly mention), I decided to pursue a two-pronged approach to the submission process, in that not only was I going to target agents, but I was going to target publishers as well. I also decided that I would chronicle this latest submission process with a page on my blog.

July 2011 found me at the doorstep of Solstice Publishing, which I had first learned about in 2010 from a blurb written by U.K. writer Jack Martin. I e-mailed my submission to them and by January 2012, I got a semi-rejection, which I wrote about here. I took the editor's feedback to heart and spent the next month revising and polishing, then resubmitted. For my efforts I received another round of fantastic feedback, which I took to heart and revised yet again.

That final revision produced three curious things: last week's cryptic post.

This video: 


And this announcement:

I DONE GOT MYSELF A PUBLISHING CONTRACT WITH SOLSTICE PUBLISHING!

Details to follow in the coming weeks, but for now, let's all celebrate the fact that for the first time in a very long while, I am again a somebody.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Funkiest Headlines Of 1998

Time once again for yet another funky e-mail from yesteryear, this time from the late 20th century.


Include Your Children When Baking Cookies.
Something Went Wrong in Jet Crash, Experts Say.
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
.

Drunks Get Nine Month in Violin Case.
Iraqi Head Seeks Arms.
Is There a Ring of Debris around Uranus?

Prostitutes Appeal to Pope.
Panda Mating Fails, Veterinatrian Takes Over.
British Left Waffles On Falkland Islands.
Teacher Strikes Idle Kids.

Clinton Wins Budget; More Lies Ahead.
Plane Too Close to Ground, Crash Probe Told.
Miners Refuse to Work After Death.

Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendants.
Stolen Painting Found by Tree.
Two Sisters Reunited after 18 Years in Checkout Counter.

War Dims Hope for Peace.
If Strike Isn't Settled Quickly, It May Last a While.

Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide.
Man Struck by Lightning Faces Battery Charge.
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group.

Astronaut Takes Blame for Gas in Space.
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks.
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Pre-Teen Book Talk!

Greetings and Salutations!

Since I really had nothing to write about for this blog's Friday installment, I thought I would turn today's post over to my 11 year-old skating/dancing/reader/daughter extraordinaire Jenelle. What you're about to read is 100% her and 0% me, and as such, I disclaim all knowledge of what it is that she's gonna write about. But I will try my very best to answer any and all comments that you might be gracious enough to leave.

Take it away, Jenelle!

The book I want to share is the book Warriors : Into The Wild. It's by Erin Hunter. The book is about this tom cat (when you say tom it means they weren't fixed yet) named Rusty decides one day to jump over his fence and sneak into the woods behind his house. (In this book, us humans are called Twolegs) Before he jumps, a white cat with black spots (who is not a tom cat) named Smudge warns him about another cat who went into the woods and came back terrified. That cat never went back. Well, Rusty decides to ignore Smudge. If you want to know more, look at my dad's blog next week. Thanks for reading! There is also a website for this series called Warrior Cats. Check it out!


Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is There An Upside To Writing?

We interrupt this post for a late breaking news story:




Happy Birthday to the young lady who is now 11 years old today! And, I might add, is someone who doesn't like Justin Bieber!

We now gladly return you to the beginning of this post, which really wasn't interrupted, but in G's world, anytime I can focus this blog on other people in my life is always a good thing.

There are a lot of upsides to writing: recognition, appreciation, the opportunity to show people that there's a reason why you're randomly shouting out nonsensical word and phrases like "Yes! That'll work! No, it won't work!" and "Why did I write that?", and most importantly, proving your critics WRONG!

Whoops, did I say WRONG? Ummm...just ignore that particular word for now. Pretend that you didn't read the other three words that proceeded that last word either. It's just a figment of your Imagination!

So.

Believe it or not, writing isn't all peaches and cream, or strawberries and cream, or even Ben & Jerry's. Sometimes, writing can be a big pain in the gluteous maximus.

How? Take editing (please, take it away) for example. The other day I decided to take out a few old short stories and tighten them up a little.

Why?

Faux Reason #1: I decided to explore the Duotrope newsletter again, so I figured it would behoove me to have a few stories at the ready.

Faux Reason #2: I wasn't quite ready to pick up where I had left off with my novella, simply because the muse wasn't ready. Without my muse, I'm kind of dead in the water.

Faux Reason #3: My brain was sozzled from trying to write something that someone had suggested that I write, so I needed a break from doing that particular something.

Faux Reason #4: Got aggravated from the work week, so when I get aggravated, no original writing takes place.

So I spent the past holiday weekend working on a couple of short stories, you know, tightening the sentence structure, having the paragraphs actually make sense, having the plot actually make sense. You know, editing. Didn't really do much of anything else writing wise.

Well, maybe I did.

In any event, if this post seems somewhat disjointed and vague, you're absolutely right.

Let me tell you something, and you'll probably agree with on this particular point: it is damn near impossible to purposely screw something up. If you're good at what you do, trying to mess up what you do so well on purpose simply can't be done.

I pride myself on writing blog posts that contain two indisputable certainties: they make sense and they have a point. Trying to write a post that doesn't make sense or have a point is pretty damn near impossible.

So my friends, I promise that next Tuesday's writing update not only will make up for the vagueness of this post, but it will make your jaw drop.

Until then, have fun in trying to read between the lines.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Understanding Job Advertisements

Before you rush to apply for that too-good-to-be true job, here's some advice on translating corporate ad-speak into practical English.

1} Must have an eye for detail

Translation: "We have no quality control."

2} Seeking candidates with a wide variety of experience

Translation: "You'll need it to replace three people who just left."

3} No phone calls please

Translation: "We've filled the job, our call for resumes is just a legal formality."

4} Problem solving skills a must

Translation: "You're walking into a company in perpetual chaos."

5} Requires team leadership skills

Translation: "You'll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect."

6} Good communications skills

Translation: "Management communicates, you listen and figure out what they want."

7} Must be deadline oriented

Translation: "You'll be six months behind schedule on your first day."

8} Flexible hours

Translation: "Work 40 hours, get paid for 25."

9} Duties will vary

Translation: "Anyone in the office can boss you around."

10} Ability to handle a heavy workload

Translation: "You whine, you're fired."

Friday, February 17, 2012

Pop Culture? YouTube!

Back in those pre-Internet days, the only way to effectively do any kind of research was to trip down to your local library and pester the reference librarian for help in finding some moldy-oldy book about a moldy-oldy topic that you were interested in learning about.

Fast forward to the present.

In the present, the Internet is so part of our psyche, that we now turn to it to help us with our research. Almost everyone, including yours truly, has used Wikipedia as a starting point for any and all things known and unknown that we may be interested in. But after having a casual conversation with the wife and reading a thoughtful response to a comment of mine this past week, I've come to realize that the best place to research anything known or unknown is not Wikipedia.

It's YouTube.

Yup, that great all purpose video website where everyone and anyone uploads their videos in the vain hope of becoming the next Fred, but realistically, just hoping for a least a thousand hits to their video, is the ultimate research site.

Why?

Because anything that was originally put to video/VHS/BETA/celluloid/small screen/vinyl eventually makes it way to YouTube. And to use YouTube is so ridiculously easy that you don't even need a complete title of something to search for it, just a random snippet.

Like for instance, while I was with my with this past Monday celebrating her b'day by taking her out to lunch at a local restaurant and waiting for a friend to show up, a song called "A Brimful Of Asha" popped up on the radio. I mentioned to the wife that I love the song but I wish I knew the name of the band. She said why don't I look it up on YouTube. I did (by using the title of the song) and found out the name of the band was Cornershop.

Another time, I was having a conversation with a co-worker about the local sports scene, and one point we got to talking about minor league hockey. I happened to mention that the local team the Hartford Wolfpack (now the Connecticut Whale) did a commercial for Norelco, which at the end featured one of the players punching out the mascot. Now I didn't know the name of the player at the time, but by using YouTube as a starting point, I was able to find out what that particular player's name was: P.J. Stock.

And finally, about the comment that I'd left at a blog. I have a history of spouting off all kinds of pop culture minutia and more often than not, it makes the receiver of the minutia curious enough to do a search and destroy for the origin of said minutia. And usually the first place that they go for to find this pop culture minutia is YouTube.

Basically, if you can think of a snippet or anything longer than a snippet, chances are that you can find it on YouTube.

YouTube.

Because sometimes, you just need to find the answer to the question, "Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't."



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

When "He's So Gay" Meant "He's So Happy" (1)

A friend of mine had stated in the comment section of this particular post (and I'm summarizing here), that while the story was funny, it would never fly, let alone be published, in today's strangulated environment. And to a certain degree, she's right: so long as the strangulated environment consists of non-influential newspapers, over-indulgent movies, mainstream magazines, the irrelevant academic world and the hysterical left, there would be no way in hell it would be published.

Warning: What you're about to read might be considered overly offensive in some circles. Please keep an open mind as you slog your way through and remember, it's only my informed opinion and no one else's.

If you can, please visit me at my other blog to read the rest of this post.

"When He's So Gay Meant He's So Happy"

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Piggy Squealed In Rhythm

Yes boys and girls, it's time to squeal like a pig. And no I don't mean like the scene from Deliverance, but more like when your friendly neighborhood bill collector comes by and says, "My friend, you are very late with your payment, so I must introduce you to my little cousin Wilbur." and Wilbur happens to be six foot five and built like a freight train.

Only in this case, the bill collector is Uncle Sam and little cousin Wilbur is the IRS.

Sometime during what's left of this long holiday weekend, I plan on doing my taxes and along the way, I plan on shedding quite a few tears as well. Those tears won't be shed because I'll be paying (haven't done that since the mid 90's) but because I lost a few tax deductions for the year.

Up until last year, I was able to use my son as a deduction, since he was still under 18. Now, because he's over 18 but not a full time student, he's no longer a tax deduction for me, but for himself. And for himself, he's getting a tax refund of about $25, which in my opinion, is very sucky tradeoff.

Also, the "Making America Work" tax deduction has vanished, which also sucks, and I'll tell you why.

For the past couple of years, I was able to claim this $800 deduction simply because I decided to start selling my self-pubbed books on my own. So in addition to claiming a few certain expenses (i.e. renting a postal box), I was able to claim this deduction as well. Now, because the representatives that we elected to represent us are not, this deduction (along with others) went bye-bye.

Feh.

The reason that I need to add a little rhythm to the squeal is that I'm doing something else this weekend that's making me squeal: a third round of edits for my novel.

Yes, just like doing my taxes makes me squeal, so does editing my novel. To drown out the squealing and help me concentrate, I've decided to play a few c.d.'s. And if you think that the music chosen matches up with the overall feel of the novel, you are sadly mistaken.

To whit:

Little Feat Let It Roll
Beastie Boys Ill Communication (although I can't seem to get past track 8)
Soundtrack to the movie The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
The Eagles On The Border
Train Drops Of Jupiter
The Offsping Americana
RATM The Battle of Los Angeles
Green Day Dookie
Live Throwing Copper

And since, to a certain degree that this post is about whining, I leave you with a favorite song about whining.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Who Reads What And Why

The Wall Street Journal is read by people who run the country.

The New York Times is read by people who think they run the country.

The Washington Post is read by people who think they should run the country.

USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don't really understand the Washington Post. They do, however, like their smog statistics shown in pie charts.

The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn't mind running the country, if they could spare the time and if they didn't have to leave L.A. to do it.

The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country and they did a far superior job of it, thank you very much.

The New York Daily News is read by people who aren't too sure who's running the country, and don't really care as long as they can get a seat on the train.

The New York Post is read by people who don't care who's running the country either, as long as they do something really scandalous, preferably while intoxicated.

The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren't sure there is a country, or that anyone is running it; but whoever it is, they oppose all that they stand for. There are occasional exceptions if the leader are handicapped minority feministic atheist dwarfs, who also happen to be illegal aliens from ANY country or galaxy as long as they are Democrats.

The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country, but need the baseball scores.

And what do I read boys and girls? I read anything that I can get my hands, especially at dinner time.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Not Writey Tighty?

It's funny how the old adage "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn't" gets hammered home repeatedly when you're a writer. Doesn't matter if you're a newbie, a semi-newbie like myself or even an established writer, we all have come across items/companies that on the surface, look to be good/legit, but upon further research, really aren't.

This particular point was reaffirmed over this past weekend when I decided to dig a little deeper about a particular publisher that I had recently queried and submitted to. The trigger mechanism? A rather quick response to my query and a promise of response in four to six weeks.

So I checked out the publisher, which I had found listed at Duotrope, at a website called Preditors & Editors, and sure enough they had popped up as a vanity publisher. For a brief moment, I thought that this couldn't be right, so I dug a little deeper on the publisher's website and was able to turn up something that led me to believe that the Preditors & Editors website is correct.

Disappointed that one of my leads turned out to be a dud (again), I nevertheless have created a response to them should they deem my manuscript "acceptable" enough to make an offer:

Thank you for your offer, but I must decline as I've decided to go in another direction with my novel.

Now even though this puts me back at square one with the submission process, the writing news isn't all that grim for my novel.

This past Sunday I started the process of doing another round of editing and implementing the solid feedback that was given to me from the publisher that I had written about a week ago. Hopefully when all is said and done, the manuscript with be tight enough to submit for reconsideration to that same publisher.

I also took the liberty of writing a brief memo explaining in concise detail what changes either were or were not done to the manuscript.

As for my other writing project, I've made some great headway with it. I'm at the final climatic scene, and because I'm armed with the knowledge of knowing where I want to go with this and how exactly I want it to end, I should be able to wrap this up another week or two once I get back to it.

When all is said and done, it should crap out at under 80 pages/40k words, which is something I'm actually quite proud of, because the last new story I'd managed to complete prior to this novella was in fact Line 21 in the spring of 2011.

With that being said, where did I put that c.d. of mine?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

A Chuckle A Day Keeps The Doldrums Away!

No real post to speak of today, since I'll be one of the multitude watching Stupor Bowl XLVI and rooting for the Patriots to kick some Giant ass.

However, since I won't be watching the pre-pre-pre-pre or pre-pre-pre or pre-pre or pre game show, I'll be needing something to occupy my time.

In other words, writing.

Since I'll be attempting to do some writing and thus being sporadically available for blogging, I thought I would leave you a top eight list of my favorite non-pushing-up-the-daises comic strips that give me a chuckle a day.

1} Rhymes With Orange by Hillary Price. Best semi-cerebral comic out there today.

2} Funky Winkerbean by Tom Batiuk. Been a fan of his since I was teenager and the updated story lines, I believe, is far better than the original story lines that took place in high school.

3} Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley. Absolutely love this strip as the humor is absolutely wicked.

4} Close to Home by John McPherson. Fantastic one panel comic.

5} Mutts by Patrick McDonnell. If you like comics about animals, this one is for you.

6} Pearls Before Swine by Stephen Pastis. This strip, I believe, is a worthy successor to Calvin & Hobbes. The humor is absolutely brutal, spot on and pulls absolutely no punches.

7} Zits by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman. I often call this strip a clone of my household, simply because I look like the father (minus the mustache), my wife looks the mother and my son's name is Jeremy.

8} Mother Goose and Grimm by Mike Peters. Warped, just like me.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Crazy Driver, But A Damn Good Joe

Back in the day when I was but a lad of sixteen, I had an incredible adventure, the likes of which no one with any kind of brains had ever experienced before.

And get your mind out of the gutter.

Since we torpedoed the obvious, you're now left scratching your head wondering what exactly was that incredible adventure that I had.

Well, that adventure was....drum roll please.

Getting my driver's license!

If you've ever wondered why I'm such a flake and a perfectionist, then this story is a good starting point for understanding why I am what I am.

The beginning of the adventure started like any other normal day for a typical teenager who turns 16: I got my learner's permit.

I spent the next few months learning how to drive from my mother and studying my 35 page driver's manual. I drove everywhere and anywhere and I studied my driver's manual until I was blue in the face.

Finally that big day arrived and I eagerly drove down to DMV with my mom to take my driver's test.

The first inkling that the day may not go according to plan was when I almost ran over a crossing guard in front of the local middle school. Apparently I did not see the little kiddies in front of the school waiting to cross the street. After getting slapped my mother for not paying attention, I continued on my merry way to DMV.

The first exam that I took was the eye exam, which I'd easily passed. Next up was the written exam.

Back then, which was the early 80's, the written exam was taken on a very large machine that had slide show presentation of various scenarios that you had to choose A, B, C, or D for an answer. At the time, the minimum passing grade allowed was a 75, which was a maximum of 5 wrong out of 20. Also, the main way of guaranteeing yourself a passing grade was to never pick answer D, because answer D was always wrong.

Anyways, when the written exam was over, I rescheduled another appointment for my driver's exam, which was about a month away. In the meantime, I was forced to study and got quizzed on the manual in the worst possible way imagined.

During a family driving vacation from Connecticut to West Virginia.

Fast forward to the day of the appointment.

I drove down with my mother to DMV to take my driver's test.

Again.

Since I'd already passed the eye exam, I went right to the written exam.

And aced it.

Next up was the driving test. All I had to do was pass the fifteen minute driving thingy through suburbia and i was home free.

I failed.

I failed spectacularly.

I failed miserably.

I failed memorably.

If there is one concrete rule of thumb that you should always, always, always always do, it's this: Look both ways a minimum of two times.

Whenever you approach a stop sign, you should either look right, look left, then look right again. Or, look left, look right, and look left again. At the bare minimum. Never, repeat, never do it the way I did it that fateful day.

Come to a complete stop at the stop sign at the end of a side street that empties into the main drag with DMV directly across the street. Look left, look right, then pull out. Then slam on the brakes as a car whizzes past you at breakneck speed 'cause you didn't look left again. If you'd look left again, you would've seen that car approach and thus taken the appropriate action.

After successfully performing my parallel parking (using side mirrors, thank you very much) and getting a lecture from the examiner and later on by mother dearest, I scheduled another appointment to take my driver's test.

Suffice to say, the third time was a charm as I'd passed with flying colors and thus was introduced to the world as a driver who went through cars like some people go through underwear in a given week.

To whit, from the age of 16 until now, I was the proud owner of almost twenty cars. Foreign and domestic, standard and automatic. You name it, chances are that I either drove it or drove something similar to it.

But my friends, that is another story for another time.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!

The Legal Disclaimer

All the content that you see here, except for the posting of links that refer to other off-blog stories, is (c) 2008-16 by G.B. Miller. Nothing in whole or in part may be used without the express written permission of myself. If you wish to use any part of what you see here, please contact me at georgebjr2006@gmail.com