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.