Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Writing Blog

Recently I have gotten several emails about my blog:

Gary in Indiana writes:
Chris, I am wondering what this blog is about.  I mean you are supposed to be a writer, yet most of your posts are about music, or the holidays, or mutant lobsters.  What's the deal?

Mitch in Omaha writes:
Dude, are you the guy who keep burning poop bags on my porch?  Not cool, man!

Holly in Florida writes:
Hey you never really post much about writing? this is a writing blog, right?

Harold in Oregon writes:
I agree (even though I don't have access to your email to know what others are saying.)  What are you hiding?  Are you even a writer?  Are you just making this blog to pad your Amazing Race application?  Is this some trick to distract me from my writing?  Which government do you work for?  How many electrons are in helium?  What are you distracting us from?  Why are you doing this to me?!?

Well everyone, these are intriguing questions.  Of course I'm not trying to distract you from some deep dark blogging truth.  In fact I have provided a scientific explanation below that answers all of your questions about this blog.  Please scroll down to find it.

Keep going!

Almost there!

Look!  I got a puppy!  Isn't she cute?  I named her SoCo!  She's a Tiberian Tiger Dog (boxer!)  Look at the puppy!


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Music To Make Write to: Rising Action

So this week we are continuing our series of mood music and moving on to the next part of dramatic structure (sure I could of used other frameworks, but get over yourself.) Here is the chart:

So this is where we want to build to some kind of boiling point.  The tension in our writing and in the music we listen to while we write should be high.  How am I supposed to buy the suspense you are selling me if you were listening to Enrique Iglesias the whole time you wrote it?  I thought so.  Here are some of my choices.  Let me know what music you might choose in the comments.

Our first video is a KSU fan-made video where they took a piece of an Arcade Fire song and set it to clips.  The editing is pretty phenomenal, but the song is too. 


Morphine concert + standing by the speakers = ouchies

Happy writing my little Chia-pets!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Post of the Ages!

Today's post is part of the Be Jolly By Golly blogfesting marathon!  If you haven't signed up you should do so.  The winner for best blogfest post gets a year supply of candy canes (which is like 3 of them because after you break into one you realize that candy canes aren't that good, or at least aren't good enough to eat one twice the size and length as a pencil, so you don't eat the other two and as you eat the first one you kind of realize it's stale and probably all of them are left over from what you didn't eat last year, or was it the year before?)

Anywho, here are the rules and regulations of said blogfest:
1.Blog Post to be posted on December 20th (whatever time you desire)
2.Show pictures of your decorations, holiday lights & Christmas tree!
3.Share your favorite treat (Recipe included, chance for others to steal the yumminess!)
4.Share your favorite drink (Recipe included, chance for others to steal the alcohol – or non)
5.Last but not least… visit others!!! Take part in their holiday cheer!

Note: For those who don’t celebrate Christmas, you’re welcome to share any other holiday you are celebrating in this year!


We have a fake tree.  I've always had a fake tree.  Always will.  Why you ask?  Because people who cut their own tree are murderers!  Okay not really.  But they do it as a tradition and you can never get out of traditions.  If no one is coming over to my house before Christmas I want the option to not put the blasted thing together, even if in the end I always do.  When you're a tree cutter there is no option.  You just have to do it.  

The wife also puts out a wreath.  She seems to love it.  I always hated those things because you have to be more gentle opening the door or the wreath could fall or need adjusting.  Our screen door is 90 pounds of hydraulic death so I don't like the extra effort to both not die before entering my house and keep the wreath in place.

Even though I may sound very Scrooge-like I do also decorate.  Here is a picture of a Santa Alf I won in a crane machine.  

I made him a sleigh out of a shoe box and used to line him up in my classroom with reindeer that I also won in a crane machine.  I amaze myself at what decorations are a hassle and which ones I hassle myself with.  

I also decorate my pup!  Since she's never actually said she hates it I just assume she doesn't!

Okay, so you know those cherry mash thingies you can find in the candy aisle?  And you think to yourself, "cherry crap coated in chocolate?!?  Oh, yes!  Let's!"  

And then it's pretty stale (more so than the candy cane) and the chocolate tastes like it has been coating a work boot.  So then you start to think to yourself, "Self, if cherry crap coated in chocolate can taste bad, maybe there is no Santa, no Easter Bunny.  Maybe nothing is real.  Maybe I'm trapped in the matrix!"  
Well fret no longer!  Here is a recipe for homemade ones that are the exact opposite.  It is basically a ball of cherry cocaine covered in chocolate.  The melting of the wax makes it difficult, but holy craps they are well worth it.  I try to con my mother into making them whenever I can so I don't have to do it.  I stick them in the freezer and get them partly frozen so I can suck on them and savor the taste longer.  Otherwise it slightly resembles Garfield eating lasagna.  

Here it goes:
2 boxes white frosting mix
1/2 tsp. cheery candy flavoring
2 lb. powdered sugar
1 can Eagle Brand
1 (10 oz.) jar maraschino cherries, drained and chopped
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 stick butter, melted
2 (12 oz.) pkg. chocolate chips
2 oz. paraffin
1 lb. chopped salted nuts
Melt butter, add sugar, cherries, milk, vanilla; mix well. Roll into small balls then freeze on cookie sheet. Melt in double boiler chips, nuts, and paraffin dip balls into melted mixture with toothpicks.


There are only 2 holiday drinks I know w/ alcohol.  In my family you could almost argue beer (Old Milwaukee) is a holiday drink, but that really only applies to us.  The first is Eggnog, which is a shame to muddy the deliciousness of eggnog with alcohol.  Also to properly get into the holiday spirit with eggnog you either have to make it taste truly terrible or chug enough nog to deck the halls on the way to your bathroom all night.  Really there is only one good option here.  Hot cocoa with peppermint schnapps.   Get some higher quality cocoa so the schnapps makes it taste like an Andes mint instead of a candy cane.  Again you run into the problem of alcohol to fluid volume, but you can always sneak sips of straight schnapps intermittently and then wash it down with Andes mint flavored cocoa.  If you've ever wondered why Uncle Mort seemed sauced, but still smelled like candy canes it's because he was an avid reader of my blog.

Anyway that's how I roll up in this Holiday Seazizzle. 

Season's Greetings!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Winner Winner Olive Garden Dinner / Weekend Update

The results are in.  I had an impartial 3rd party rate the haiku's entered for my Ultimate Haiku Giftcard Giveaway Party.

Here are the results: 

#1 Winner:  Chris Phillips
 My haiku:

This is my contest!
You cannot defeat me, fools!
Red Lobster is Mine!

#2 Winner:  Googlebot
Googlebot's haiku:

<server: /is not found/>
<server:  --timeout-no response/>  
<server: #this is spam/>

#3 Winner: Jeffrey Beesler
J-Beesley's haiku:

Hunger fuels my rage
Waiting by the order box
They'll be right with me. 

Since I was disqualified for running the contest and seeing as Googlebot does not like Olive Garden or Red Lobster, I have decided to mail the gift card to Jeffrey.  Congrats!  Thanks to all those who participated in my contest.  

This weekend is most likely going to suck.  The wife works both days so I'll be home alone.  The Cats play Florida tomorrow.  Here how it went:

I've been filing rejections on querytracker this week.  They look so much worse when you put them all together. 

I'm going to start sending my next manuscript to my Betas this week so I'll probably spend the weekend giving it one last look.  I hope they like it.  

Someone tell me they have better weekend plans than me.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Music to Make Write to: Exposition (and my poll stuff)

The poll is officially closed at the end of the day.  Here is what we've learned about the blogging community so far.  

1)  You all be hatin' on Snooki.

2) You people severely underestimate the wrath of the panda.

3) None of you voted for me (Which means not everyone voted.)

4) Some of you have some scary mothers.

5) None of you liked Aladdin.

I'll post the winner of my contest Friday.

Now to the actual post:
Last week's post was the first in a series of mood music for writing.  Normally when I write (only on the 5th Thursday of alternating months) I enjoy some soft alternative, or hip hop, or indie polka going, but there are different songs and tunes that have vibes to go with different scenarios.  For the next few weeks we will look at the elements of dramatic structure to extract some moods and match music to them.  Here's the chart:

So at the beginning we have exposition.  Sure you should probably start with a scene, but even in that you have to introduce a lot of information quickly.  This is the part of the show where my hippie music can be golden.  Here are a few songs I might play to put me in the mood to set things up.  I tried to use music that would be evenly paced and not too tense.  Depending on the tone you chose to write with you might go lighter or darker.  As always if you have any suggestions for songs that fit comment those things up!

Jimmy Taylor wrote a lot of good exposition music

This is good too (probably some choice lyrics)

This is also good introductory music


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I'm posting my query letter as part of a blogfest.  It's late blah blah blah.  

So here it is.  First book/First query.

Dear Mr./Mrs. Agent Dude(tte),

Fire drills stink.  When Pete, a student at Lee Springs Elementary, stays in the bathroom during the monthly forced-march-to-the-blacktop, he finds himself smashed against the wall at five G’s as his whole school rockets into space.

At first the alien teachers are horrified to learn a student has discovered their secret, but they have bigger problems: a satellite caught a picture of the school, forcing them to launch into orbit to protect the hologram that has kept their secret hidden for so long.

Unless Pete and an alien third-grader named Becca can walk in space to disable that satellite, the school’s secret will be uncovered, and the teachers will have to head for their home planets--with Pete on board!

SPACE SCHOOL is a 5,500 word chapter book, aimed at children grades 2-4, that follows Pete on his journey into the Earth’s orbit.  This book is a stand alone with series potential.

My background is in education.  I taught both first and second grade for a total of five years.  I am a member of the SCBWI.
Thank you for your time and consideration.


Chris Phillips

Also I won a signed copy of

by C.S. Lakin, so that's cool.


Friday, December 10, 2010

Weekend Update.

So I actually wrote something yesterday (high fives!)  I've had ideas for a novel that I've wanted to work on for years but haven't been able to get around to starting.  It just feels like everything that gets put down pales in comparison to what I had in mind.  My goal is to work on it while I'm waiting on replies to queries for the children's chapter books.  We'll see, but it I feel better about this start than I have about the others.  It's not much but anything I don't immediately select all and then delete is improvement.   

This weekend is my wife's clinic's Christmas party.  Should be a good time.  Pretty much all women work at my wife's clinic so drama abounds + booze.  

Last week I told you I was going hunting.  I did.  I shot a 10 point buck.  So did my wife.  Long story short we shot the same deer.  Mostly people don't both try and shoot at the same deer, but someone flushed it and 7 doe into our pasture and I only had the iron sights rifle so I told her to shoot when I did just to be sure.  One of us got the lung the other got the heart, so both were good shots.  No meat was damaged either.  

I felt bad for the hunter in the other field who flushed them out.  He was 40 yards behind the herd trudging through trees and waiting for them to stop and look around so he could get a clear shot  He was within 120 yard of our stand.  I don't think he knew we were there until we fired two shots.  I could understand if he crapped his coveralls.  I saw him and he was no where near our line of fire, but my rifle in particular is loud.   He'd also been tracking them awhile so it had to be hard watching us shoot his buck, but he couldn't come on our land anyway so sorry, Broseph.  The wife was insistent on getting a head mount so in April I will have a deer staring at me full-time.  Yay?  

Also last weekend was awesome because of this moment.  
See the guy pointing?  That is Dan Beebe.  This summer he almost oversaw the end of his conference (he is conference chairman) and my school and 3 others would have been financially and competitively dead in the water for decades in crappy non BCS leagues.  Basically Nebraska bailed to the Big 10 and 4 schools did not have major conference invites if the Big XII fell apart.  In the 11th hour a deal was struck to make a 10 team Big XII.  Last Saturday Dan "the man" Beebe avoided having to hand NU the last conference trophy and look like an idiot on national television.  Sometimes life works the way it is supposed to. Live it up, Dan.  Live it up!

In life we often do not get second chances.  This week is your final chance to WIN BIG in my contest to end all contests.  It is also the last week to vote in my poll.  Currently Snooki is leading the pack in being least enjoyable to be stuck in an elevator with.  Followed closely by Gilbert Gottfried and your mother.  

Finally there is another contest you might wanna check out.

Happy Weekends to All!


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Public Service Announcement

Dear Blogging Community,

This is a paid PSA sponsored by 

 If you ever find yourself in a situation where your wife is falling off of the corner of the bed whilst you are holding onto your laptop, DO NOT try and be a hero.  Save your computer.  K?  Bye.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Music to Make Write to - Villian Edition

This week I thought I'd throw a twist into MTMWT (Music to Make Write to.)  Normally I share good music to play whilst writing and charm you all with my impressive wit (Que affirmations of my impressive wit.)  This week and probably the next couple I'm selecting mood music.  Now before you all get naked I mean moods for writing.  This week I've selected a song by Dr. Dog called The Beach.  It has a slow steady swank to it that I think is perfect for writing villains.  

Here are the lyrics too:

There's a hole in the roof and the rain's coming down
The roads are flooded, there's no way back to town
And the ship we came in on has just run aground
You know fate has a funny way of coming around

The memories we've buried have just taken seed
When springtime comes they'll turn into weeds
And they'll creep through your window to smother your dreams
You know fate has a funny way of coming around

Oh, they'll carve our names like scripture to the soles of the feet
Each footprint that they take it will tell of our feat
'Til the night of the following rain
'Til the low tide comes to swallow the pain

This bottle of bourbon is now dry as a bone
It drank us all up and then it left us alone
Well, we've since switched to skull pot but we can't choke it down
You know fate has a funny way of coming around

If you know any good ditties pertaining to writing evil characters go ahead and throw a link in the comments.  Happy writing.  

Friday, December 3, 2010

Weekend Update

Hi, folks!  How're things?  I'll start this post off with an in depth analysis of this blog.  You probably often visit my blog and think to youself, "Self, I wonder what personality type Chris Phillips is based on this blog.  I'll bet he's a sensitive Nancy-boy who listens to Yanni!"  I can't really argue any of that down. This scientific blogalysis comes from a website called link removed for malware You can put in your own blog link and it will dissect your soul and tell you all of your personal weaknesses.  I found it on Tracy's blog - Forever Endeavor.  Here are my results based on yesterday's post.


Oh good.  I'm a lady who likes bubbly drinks.  This can't possibly get any better.

"The entertaining and friendly type. They are especially attuned to pleasure and beauty and like to fill their surroundings with soft fabrics, bright colors and sweet smells. They live in the present moment and don´t like to plan ahead - they are always in risk of exhausting themselves."

The enjoy work that makes them able to help other people in a concrete and visible way. They tend to avoid conflicts and rarely initiate confrontation - qualities that can make it hard for them in management positions.

Translation:  Chris, you are a metro-sex.  

Well that's life I guess.  In order to make myself feel manlier I am going to central KS this weekend for opening week of deer season.  That's right.  This guy is going down! 

Let's not give me too much credit.  My wife is actually the hunter.  I've only been once last year.  She is probably going to hog the rifle since I got to shoot last year.  I'm taking this thing just in case I get a chance to shoot.

It has a bayonet and the sickle and hammer stamp from the ole USSR.  I'll probably hit more leftover pumpkins than deer, but whatevs. 

Also there is a blogfest type thing running Dec12-18 where people can post their query letters and get feedback.  I use QT so I'm not sure I'll do it, but I'm still up in the air about it.  Go here if'n you're interested.

Shannon McMahon's blog has a cool sample critique feature.  If you want to have something picked apart anonymously you can send it to her.  

Last and perhaps least I am 10 followers from my cutoff on my CONTEST OF EPIC PROPORTIONS!!!!1!!  I am giving away a gift
 to Olive Garden eating type places.  

Everyone have a good weekend. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Sign

I got a rejection on my requested chapters this week.  Before you start any kind of
The title and my rejection have nothing to do with each other, just thought I should share.  I figured it would come, but was hoping for some direction from it.  Glad they held onto it for as long as they did and I did get a compliment (which proves the agent is a genius!) on the voice.  I will keep sending it out until the end of Jan and then move on to WIP dos as planned. 

The sign came from a random place, as all good signs do.  I was commenting on a blog when my browser quit mid page-load.  As I refreshed, there it was.  In the word verification, sometimes referred to as the Tome of the Oracles, was the word "actura."  For those of you who didn't study etymology, actura is not really a word.  What is it then, you might ask.  Like I said, it's a sign!  But in the words of double rainbow guy, "What does this mean?"  Does it mean I should get my act together?  Does it mean I should buy an Acura?  Does it mean I should get my act together by buying an Acura?  I guess we will never know.  All I know is I've literally run out of ways to procrastinate.  Unless of course I go buy an Acura.  Maybe I should take running out of ways to procrastinate as a sign?  

To quote Double Rainbow dude again, "Man, I'm lucky I get rainbows in our front yard... On a regular basis!"

Take care.  Oh yeah, post all of your word verifications in the comments.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Music to Make Write to

Writing for me and probably most of you is about following dreams.  This week I wanted to feature some artists who I went to high school with who are following theirs.

I used to walk to school with this guy in 1st and second grade.  We used to climb trees in his backyard and he had a ridiculous looking basset hound (fact-all basset hounds are ridiculous looking.)  In 9th grade he was winning national HS music competitions on the French Horn.  He went to school studying music and composition.  He started a Brass Quintet and arranges their music.  Here's a listen:

I went to school with the next band's guitarist from junior high on.  Not a guy I'd expect to find in an on-the-rise indie rock band.  I'd have pegged him to be one of those guys who gets a quick finance degree and does investment planning and already has 3 kids.  He is in the black shirt on the left. 

I'm going to listen to both of these guys this week and hope it keeps me on track for pursuing my own dreams.  Happy writing, peeps. 


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Day Post of the Ages

Today's post is part of Bessler's blogfest (what alliteration!)  For it I am to post about what I am thankful for.

When considering what angle to take for this topic I ran into a lot of ideas that didn't quite work.  My first idea was to post pictures of different types of beer.  But I'm only thankful for that because it gets me through Thanksgiving, which is a huge "which came first the beer or family holidays?" paradox that I'm not fully willing to delve into.  I thought maybe I'd post a picture of my wife, but then felt that was too mushy and had to immediately crush a beer can on my forehead to feel more manly.  I contemplated using my 5 years of teaching 2nd grade for an idea, but those kids were only thankful for video games, pizza, and recess, which I love, but made me feel shallow.  
The last and best terrible idea I had was to post about family, since that is the point of the Thanksgiving holiday and all.  But I realized something.  I don't really like my family.  Sitting in a room with my family always felt like sitting and waiting in a crowded DMV lobby.  The room was full, you never got anywhere, and there was always one older lady trying to chat everyone up.  Fortunately this revelation led me to what I am actually thankful for.  The little things that accompany Thanksgiving that get you through the doldrums of quality time and leave you driving home thinking that maybe those weirdos aren't entirely that bad.   

Things like Thanksgiving football played by my three cousins and me (what the hell was my older brother doing this whole time?) in the front yard of our Grandmother's house.  Only 25yrds to a touchdown with one first down marker at the ridiculous yew bushes, which also served as first base in the spring.  Basically whichever team had Anthony on it won.  I normally played with Matt, who drew one cut routes for me on his hand and then shook his head as the passes bounced off of my hands.  He'd constantly say, "Bring it into your body," to which I'd reply, "How am I supposed to do that if the ball keeps bouncing off of my hands!" (I didn't quite get a lot as a child.)  We'd play until Anthony got tired, made up a reason to complain, and yelled, "I quit!"  It literally happened every single time and I'm not sure any team ever actually won.  Anthony would always try to claim he was up when we ended and we could never fully convince him that stomping off of the field was like a forfeit.  Oh the good times.

Things like sitting at the kid's table all the way through high school.   My cousin Amy was 5 years younger than me but somehow whined her way to the adult table.  But really not sitting through the silent raging stares of my uncles as they uncomfortably lumbered through another dutiful family social event made that cardboard table in the living room feel like mahogany. 

Things like deviled eggs.  Why do they serve turkey, stuffing, or broccoli cheese casserole when they could just hand me a bucket of deviled eggs?  Hey, remember how your mother was insistent that you try a little of everything and you were convinced that it was just so Aunt Dorris wasn't offended that no one tried her pistachio jello mold and feel like why did I even bother?  Not true.  it was so your glutton of a cousin Chris didn't eat all of the stinkin' deviled eggs.

Things like Thanksgiving football on TV.  What do you mean Barry Sanders has been retired for a decade now and why do the Lions still get airtime?  What do you mean Nebraska/Colorado was never really a relevant rivalry and is even less so now?  Let's watch football on the TV!

Really none of that stuff seems altogether perfect or ideal (other than the deviled eggs) but it made itself special through time.  I guess I'm thankful for that because that is the kind of stuff that sticks with you.  I hope that if and when I have children they have memories that aren't too traumatic that stick with them in the same way.  Thanks for reading.  Leave me some  stinkin' eggs.  


Check out my contest.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Music to Make Write To

Hippy Music! 

We'll start with one of my favorite new groups Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. I wish I could be so talented that not even a truckload of psychedelic drugs can hinder it.  Probably also the drugs but they seem so stinking happy to be making music.  I want people to see me as a writer and see that, only without having to eat an entire kilo of 'shrooms.  You might recognize the first song from a recent car commercial  I love playing this while I write. 

The next song is from a commercial for the upcoming season of Justified on FX.  Lissie with Little Lovin.  I LOVE the chorus.

Good luck writing this week and Happy Thanksgiving. Come back Wednesday for the Thanksgiving blogfest hosted by Jeffrey Beesler.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


So I'm coming off of my bronchitis.  I am down to about 2 coughing fits that make me choke a day, compared to that being pretty much all day.  I hope to be back and posting regularly.  I cannot remember a time where I was this sick for this long.  But alas, it is nice to be getting healthyish.  Last Friday I went with my brother to go see The Aquabats! and Reel Big Fish.  It was nostalgic good times.  Although I think RBF's music is better overall, Aquabats put on an unbelievable show.  Grown men dressed as superheroes singing punk rock and intermittently fighting evil scientists and their monstrous creations.  Also the lead singer co-created this stuff:

So it is cool that even though he has to be doing well from that, he has kept this side project going since 94. 

Here is a snippet:

Anywho it was nice to get out of the house.  Tuesday was ESPN's college basketball marathon.  Which meant for over 24 hours live basketball was going on.  It's nuts to think about the lengths ESPN goes to every year to have live games going at 4 in the morning.  My wife and I made the 3 hour drive home for our first K-State basketball game of the year Tuesday.  We beat #24 Virginia Tech by 16.  

Our season tickets are by probably the most obnoxious high schooler ever.  I tried being nice at first, but the guy finds ways to yell out ridiculous stuff while your team is losing that just makes you want to lay down in traffic.  Yesterday he comes to his seat 15 minutes into the game wearing all Philadelphia Eagles gear.  When everyone around starts asking about it he says is was for Monday night football and he didn't even know there was a game today.  Every once in awhile I would lean over and say, "Do you think Mrs. Hufflebaum is upset you are ditching her 7th grade lit class?" or "Vick is looking solid out there today."  He never quite got it, but it made me feel better.  This year there is a woman from the college of ed who sits between us and him.  Makes sort of a buffer, but not enough of one.  Poor lady.  She even made fun of him, like a lot, which made me chuckle.  Oh well.  I guess we were all like that at one point (probably not, again me trying to be nice and failing.) 

I have missed college basketball season.  It is like Christmas running from November to April stuffed with bright lights, presents, as much disappointment as getting a sweater from the family member you drew while you gave away a DVD box set that cost twice as much, and as much joy as getting what you really wanted (money.)  Monday I have tickets to see us play Gonzaga in KC.

So what have you guys been up to this week?


Oh yeah.  I signed up for this Thanksgiving Blogfest.  You should too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Music to Make Write to

 This week I need to introduce you to my good friend Sufjan. If you walked up to me and tried to sell me a cd of banjo music, I'd promptly punch you in the forehead to rattle your tiny brain back into place. However, somehow this guy does it.

For the Widows in Paradise


Come Thou Fount


He has a lot of really good stuff. and I have literally spent an hour or two just clicking different versions of each of his songs.

Again if anyone has song they like to listen to while writing, feel free to share it and I can feature it next week.  Don't forget to check out my contest.  You could win a free dinner out.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Music to Not Die of Pnuemonia to

FYI I'm not posting much lately due to pneumonia.  If I'm not dead in the next month or so things will return to schedule. 

Before we get into my picks I had asked for others to share.  This is a song sent in by our very own Alex J. Cavanaugh

This week has no theme. Just what I am listening to right now. First let's start with My Morning Jacket. Then kick it old school with Bobby Dylan
Cannot go wrong with some Bob Dylan.

Ironically the best version was pulled for copyright violation. 

Take care. Feel better than me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Sick Day(s)

I'm very ill.  Regularly scheduled program might get interrupted this week, but should return next week.  I'm going to go curl up into a ball now.

Participate in the haiku contest if you haven't done so. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Things I Learned Along the Way Thursdays

Thursdays are the days where I reflect on my journey as a writer and let you know where I am or what I've learned.  This week I've learned that through all the hard work and rejection that comes with the trade, good things can happen too.

For the past month I've been querying my manuscript to various agencies.  It took a week or so for that first rejection to come.  I knew it was coming, it did, whatevs.  I had prepared myself for some rejection, but I wasn't ready for as many as I got in a row.  I knew I had a good idea, I'd polished it, worked on the query, etc. but I was getting back form after form after form rejection.  
Last week the Omaha Public Library had Gordan Korman come speak and sign books.  I took the opportunity to meet an experienced author and get a few autographed books.  I stood in line for an hour and while I was there I thought of a question to ask him.  I'd gotten a book by him meant for younger kids that resembled the genre/age level I was going for.  See I was querying as scifi (which could lead an agent to think it was for adults) and middle grade (which needed a higher word count.)  But other than that, what do I call my book?  What genre was it?  So I asked, "If you were going to query this book tomorrow what would you say the genre is?"  He answered, "A chapter book I guess."  Gee thanks...  I guess.  I responded with, "LIAR LIAR is a 6,000 word work of___________."  "Oh, a 6,000 word chapter book aimed at children in grade 2-4."  I was bummed that my first 50 queries were just for practice, but glad I'd asked that question.  Armed with 3 autographed books and an answer to a question I was dying to get, I fixed my letter and started querying again two days later.  I woke up the next morning, after getting 6 queries written, to 3 rejections in my inbox.  I filed them and recorded it on querytracker.  I was getting my list ready to send more when another email popped up in my inbox.  I began reading the email in my head before I even opened it.  "Dear Author, I'm sorry that.. blah blibbidy blah."  Then I actually ready it.  It had my first name in it!  It didn't apologize anywhere!  Someone read my stinking query and wanted to see some chapters!  BOOM!  My first request.  And man did it feel good for the following reasons:
-I will not go 0-80 on queries.  
-Someone read my query and thought the idea was worth looking at so the query must not be complete fail.
-Someone read my query and thought the idea was worth looking at so the idea must not be complete fail.
-A reputable agency who reps people I've heard of made the request.

I've gotten a rejection since then and expect all of the ones before I changed my query to come back that way, but the one partial tells me I'm headed in the right direction and gives me hope.  So if you are reading this, quit procrastinating and get to doing what you were meant to do.

But before you do check out my contest.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I Felt Like Sketching

Before I get to the topic at hand I wanted to give links to some cool posts I found this week.  The first is on Natalie Bahm's blog about how revising can cause chain reactions throughout your manuscript.  The second is by Renae Mercado about her writing method.  I think it's kind of fun to read the comments and compare.

Also be sure to check out my  Giftcard Give Away Haiku Party Contest! for a chance to win $25 at one of 4 different restaurants. 

Topic at Hand:
In the motion picture Napolean Dynamite the first thing Napolean says when asked what he is going to do that day is, "Whatever I feel like doing -- Gosh!"  Today I feel like sketching. 
Since I was a kid I've loved to draw.  When people ask where I learned to draw I tell them it was math class.  While other people took notes about tangents and the like I was drawing costumed heroes (dork alert!)  I really suck at geometry but I can draw.  
But this is a writing blog you say?  Well I use it for that too.  As a chapter book author I like to draw scenes and characters from my story to help me visualize what I'm writing.  I just find that when I go to put a character down on paper they fit a little better and I know them a little more.  
I also know that as an author I should be wary of illustrating my books.  The publisher will decide who the artist is. This is more for me to get an idea of what my characters look like so my words can match my imagination.  I find as I draw I have to go back and read my original description.  Sometimes I have to change something that I missed.
Here is an example of one I did this week. 

What do you do to help you visualize your characters?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Music to Write to

This week our theme is covers. Mostly covers are just like a sequel. Some of the same stuff you loved from the first movie only not nearly as good. These covers are different. They made the song better.

Originally by the Postal Service and Iron and Wine. Ben Folds just makes things better.

Next is the Fray with heartless. Now Kanye I'm going to let you finish but the Fray made one of the best covers of all time!

Next week I want this segment to be clips from other people so send me a comment with a link and I will pick 2-3 for next week's post.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Giftcard Giveaway Hiaku Party!!!!1!

Hey there!  Want a $25 gift card usable at Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, Red Lobster, and Bahama Breeze ?  Of course you do!  Here's what you have to do to get it,

1) Follow me
2) Leave a comment with the best Haiku you can muster.

The contest ends when I have 65+ followers so feel free to blog or invite friends over so it ends before 2020.

I'll go first (no I won't say I won and keep it.)

I have a new blog
It needs more minions promptly
Add me and win big

Best one after I have 65 followers wins the grand ole' prize.  The second best one gets a Sid Vicious WCW Pro Wrestling trading card.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Things I Learned Along the Way Thursdays

This week's topic is word choice.  I used to think that my writing should just be authentic and natural.  The way I say things would probably be best and forcing words I don't use a lot to sound scholarly just felt awkward.  Then last night I went to an All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet.  First of all, this entire post could be about how the words "all you can eat" constitutes poor word choice, but that is for another time.  This time I ate as much as I wanted of dumplings, bacon wrapped shrimp, and low-dollar sushi.  When my wife and I got back from our first round at the buffet a woman was eating at our seat.  We tried to tell the waiter about it so we could get another seat, but he moved her in front of us.  Anyway... eating eating eating, and then the bill came along with the customary two fortune cookies to end the meal (which, had I eaten all I could eat like I was supposed to under the harsh bylaws of the lighted sign out front, would have set me over the top.)

My wife opens hers.  "You will take exciting travel both for business and for pleasure."  Pleased as punch, she texted her friend who she is flying across the country this weekend to see and who she is also going to a vet conference in Cali with.  

I opened mine.  "Everything will now come your way."  At first I was elated.  Do you know what this means?  I'm going to get a book deal!  I'm going to author several popular book seriesesizez...  
I'm going to buy a waffle maker for my yacht!  
As my dreams rattled on in my head the part of me that spoke English started to really analyze my fortune.  The cookie did not say, "Good things"  it said "all things."  I began to panic.  Sure, I was going to get a slinky, and even the stairs to send it down, but I was also going to get tetanus and fruitcakes.  I began to imagine everything that was coming my way: aardvarks, lentils, those little metal brads you poked through oak-tag when you were eight to make leprechaun puppets, anteaters (though similar to aardvarks, clearly not the same.)  I even wondered if I'd get the green cardboard box that the metal brads came in.  Then I remembered I was getting everything.  
But did I really want everything that came with -- EVERYTHING?  Sure I'd get lucky powerball numbers, but what good were those when I was also going to get cirrhosis and wouldn't be around to spend it anyway.  And I didn't even need the powerball numbers because I was going to get gold bricks and barabonds.  For all the fuzzy unicorns and cotton candy I would be getting, cylones and scoliosis were sure to follow.  And what was I going to do with 74.56 pounds of Styrofoam peanuts? 
Everything was too much to take.  It made me realize how much a single word can change and flavor a sentence.  Sure there is also how people interpret a sentence.  for example I could interpret that "your way" means everything will go my way.  Makes some sense, but isn't verbatim what the sentence says.  So for all the times I don't want to bother dusting off my thesaurus or looking at my word choice I will remember the time I almost got everything and came away gaining 3 pounds.  


P.B.P. (post blog post) Lucky #'s 4, 24, 26, 33, 40, 45

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Music to Make Write to

Let's go with Ben as our theme for today.

The Bens

Ben Kweller (this is the oddest song of all time and yet I cannot stop listening to it.)

More Kweller

Kicking it old school. Ben King