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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A sucker for a good story.

I love video games. Not just any old video games, but video games that make me THINK. I am especially fond of detective games that send me searching through haunted castles looking for clues in rooms full of hidden objects. I have been known to stare at my computer screen intently, searching for an elusive banana peel or the top half of a broken umbrella, (yes, these are the types of things they make you look for) and for what, you ask? Because, there is a mystery to be solved!

I recently played a game like this called The Mystery of The Briar Rose. If you didn't already know, Briar Rose is another name for The Sleeping Beauty. Immediately, I was intrigued. I love this story. My role, as detective, (hee hee..I'm a!) is to search the castle and find the clues that will awaken the sleeping princess. Now, I know what you're thinking. The prince's kiss is supposed to awaken the princess, right??? Wrong. In this version, apparently the princes kiss broke the curse that caused the townspeople to fall asleep but the poor princess still lies sleeping in the castle somewhere.

The very opening scene of this game almost made me doubt my intelligence.  I came upon two statues. Fairy Godmothers I am told, except for one of the fairies doesn't have a head.  Apparently, having a head is crucial...who knew?? So, off I go in search of the head of the Sleeping Beauty's fairy godmother. I'm in good shape, I've got a fresh pot of coffee and some snacks for energy.

10:00 p.m.  2 hours and 1/2 a pot of coffee later, I still have not found the head of the fabled fairy godmother, I have, however, found a knife, a lantern and half of a sun disc that I have no idea what to do with. More coffee..onward and upward.

Midnight:  I have been at this for four hours. I'm out of coffee and haven't found this stupid head. I have found a well, and I suspect that the fairy's head has been tossed down there. But I have no bucket. I need a bucket. Where the hell am I going to find a bucket? I have now woke the dog up by yelling at the screen and he is pissed.  Oh, I go to find a frigging bucket.

1:30 a.m. I have found said bucket and traipsed it all the way through the castle and out to the courtyard to the well..apparently, you can't use the bucket in the well without a rope. Are you freaking serious? If I could, I would throw the bucket down the well and hope that bitch's head shatters into a million friggin' pieces. After 5 1/2 hours I am invested and I am determined to find this lazy princess and wake her ass up...if I'm not sleeping, neither is she.

3:00 a.m.  I have an hour before my husband gets up for work and finds out I have been up all night playing a game.  I have found the rope and just as I suspected, the fairy godmother's head is down in the well. (I suspect it was thrown there by the last person to play this game.) I traipse this head back out of the courtyard, through the creepy cemetery and all the way back to the beginning of the game to give it back to the rightful owner. A little drawer appears which holds the 2nd half of the sun disc. Really?? That's all I get??? The second part of a stupid disc that I have no idea what to do with. Do I give up?? No.  Wanna know why?  Because I am brainless...that's why.  Back into the castle I go to shove this disc somewhere....anywhere.

4:00 a.m.  I have finally found the princess and the use of the sun disc.  I did it!!!  She is awake and has an important message for me! This is why I have solved all these puzzles, searched all the rooms and stayed awake until my eyes felt like they were going to jump out of my head. I press my face even closer to the computer screen because I have now lost most of my brain cells and congnitive function. The message from my beloved Briar Rose:

Thank you for awakening me. But you must hurry and find the Frog Prince before the curse floods the entire kingdom and kills us all!!

Awwww...hell no. I did my job...those bastards can fend for themselves .Looking over at the dog who is even more annoyed with me than before, I shut the lid of my computer. My husband, now awake and  ready for work gives me a funny look as he finds me still awake and trying to apologize to a dog.

"Everything okay?"

I peer at him through bloodshot eyes. My hair is standing on end from running my fingers through it in frustration. My hands are shaking from the constant infusion of coffee and my legs feel like jello.

"Yep.  The princess is awake, but the townspeople better learn to"

He didn't even bat an eye. That's not even the strangest thing I've said to him this week.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

I am an Indie Mudblood.

  I received a one-star review for Through The Gloaming not too long ago that really disturbed me. Not that it was a bad review, as an author, and an Indie author, you develop a thick skin. I don't like them, but I understand that not everyone is going to like your work. But, it was the reasons the reviewer gave that really chapped my ass. I got the distinct impression that I lost 3 stars the minute the review realized I was an Indie author.

Believe it or not, there are some reviewers out there targeting Indie authors for bad reviews. Us Indies have become the Mudbloods of the publishing world.  Much like Salazar Slytherin tried to keep the Mudbloods out of Hogwarts, some people seek to keep the publishing world pure. I only have one thing to say about that.  PFFFFFTTTTTTT!!! ( I hope I didn't get any on you....)

Listen up.  If you want to review my least read it first. Don't assume that because I am an Indie author, I didn't have an editor. I did. Don't assume I self-published because I was turned down by "legitimate" publishers, I wasn't. And don't assume that because I am an Indie author, my story will be weak and full of plot holes. Give it an actual shot and read it, you might be pleasantly surprised.  

My mother used to say: "When you assume you make an "Ass" out of "U" and "Me". Don't taint the waters with undeserved bad reviews. Let the Muggles decide for themselves, us Mudbloods are here to stay.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Hello...My Name Is Donna...I Am a Grammar Nazi

I am a grammar nazi. I'll admit it. I am that annoying person who will correct you if you improperly use the words there, their or they're, your or you're, and who or whom. I drive my children crazy to the point where they will no longer let me read their school papers. Apparently, I am more picky than their English teacher. I am not a total hard ass though, I can forgive the occasional misplacement of a comma, or even an errant semicolon, but Heaven help you if I find a dangling participle or, if you really want to see me go off the deep end, end a sentence with a preposition. I am convinced that my children do this just to watch me snap.

I am an even worse critic when it comes to spelling. I understand that not everyone is a great speller, I get that, but, in my opinion, we should leave certain jobs to the good spellers. For instance, the person who writes the daily specials on the dry-erase boards at restaurants. I realize that this is not a life or death situation for most people, but for someone like me to have to sit and stare at a board proclaiming the pie of the day to be "Bananna Creem Pie" is pure torture. I couldn't focus. I could feel myself starting to sweat as I stared at these two innocent little words until, finally, I cracked. I got up from the table, erased the offending words, and wrote them correctly. I returned to my seat where my lunch date was trying desperately to make himself invisible, and smiled sweetly at the waitress who was clearly not amused. I felt better, though, and that was all that mattered to me.

Another profession where good spelling comes in handy is if you are a tattoo artist. While watching the Olympics, I heard a story about a British woman who was chosen to be a torch bearer. Wanting to commemorate this auspicious event, she headed down to her local tattoo parlor and got a lovely tattoo of the olympic rings.  Underneath the rings were the words "Oylmpic torch bearer".  I kid you, not. They f***king spelled the word OLYMPIC wrong on this poor woman's tattoo. HER TATTOO. She will now have to walk around for God knows how long with this glaring error permanently inked on her body. OH. MY. GOD.  I could never survive this. I couldn't. I would have to amputate my arm or something. So, if you are going to get a tattoo, take a few seconds and check to make sure that the spelling is correct before this bonehead inks you up. You might think that this doesn't happen often, but google misspelled tattoos....OH MY GOD.

And as anal-retentive as I can be about grammar and spelling in other people's work, I cannot, for the life of me, edit my own work. I find this to be unfair, and truly would not have believed it if I had not witnessed it for myself. I sent the manuscript for my last book to have it edited by the oh-so-brilliant Laurie E. Boris.  I had read it over, more than once, and was quite sure she was not going to have to do much work at all.....WRONG.  Boy, was I wrong.  I was astounded at the grammar mistakes I made that I never caught. Not huge errors, but pissy little errors, lot and lots of pissy little errors. I was humiliated until Laurie informed me that this was normal. People generally can't spot errors in their own work. They have read and re-read it so many times that their minds basically skip errors that they would otherwise catch. So the moral of this story, my dear children, is invest in a good editor, or at the very least, a fresh pair of eyes. They are truly worth their weight in gold.

Friday, August 10, 2012

What's The Point?

 I am totally having a "Why bother" moment here. My sales suck, I am blogging, tweeting, and networking myself to death and still it doesn't seem to make a difference.  My poor titles are destined to remain buried beneath a hundred thousand other titles where they will die in obscurity.  Yep..I'm feeling sorry for myself.

I've got family drama, money drama, kids to feed, animals to feed, a house that looks like a tornado went through it and I sit here wondering where my creative mojo went....really???  I haven't written a cohesive sentence or even picked up my sketchbook to work on the illustrations for my next book in over a week, but I have managed to watched 10,000 hours of Olympic coverage, a Bear's game, and the new episode of Project Runway.  It is obvious that I have lost focus.

It's not like I haven't TRIED to find it. I had every intention of picking that sketch book up and getting some work done, but when I reached for it the phone rang and I talked to my cousin for an hour. Then I made a pot of coffee and I tried again, one little sketch, just to get the creative juices flowing, but I dropped my pencil under the couch. I retrieved the pencil but found a host of other nasty little things hiding under the couch that I had to get rid ties, silverware, Halloween candy from three years ago.  By then I was exhausted and needed a nap. Then it was school physical, daughter to tennis practice, yet another marathon phone call and supper.

Now that all that is taken care of, I settle into my chair. My sketch pad sits on the floor next to me, and I look at it....but the Bear's game is starting. How can I possibly focus on drawing when my beloved Monster of the Midway are playing????  Well, I can't...I know my limitations. By the time the game is over, it's just too late to start anything tonight.  Tomorrow is another day, after all.

Tomorrow I will blog, and tweet, and network. My title is free on amazon so I will watch the numbers of downloads rise and hope for some decent reviews at least. I will find my mojo and actually get some work done...after I've had my coffee, of course.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What if this is it??

When I wrote my first book, The Snake Pit: Jr. High Can Be Torture back in 2010, I had a clear purpose. Bullying has become an epidemic in this country to the extent that children are literally dying. I wanted to change that, to make a difference. One day, I received a letter from a child that started out, "I am a bully." Uh, oh..this can't be good. She went on to say that she had read my book and it really affected her. "I didn't realize how much I was hurting this girl, and I promise I will never be a bully again." SCORE!  Even if I never sell another copy, I have made a difference in at least one child's life.

When I wrote my second novel, Through The Gloaming, I really only had one purpose in mind. To prove that I really was a writer and that my first book was not just a fluke. It took a solid year of blood, sweat and tears, but I did it, and I am pretty happy with how the story came out. No sooner did I publish, then people started asking me when my next book was coming out. Dear God...I have not caught my breath from the last one! But it got me thinking....what if this is it? What if I am never able to come up with a decent story idea ever again? People are expecting me to come up with something!  My brain immediately went into panic mode.

The stress of this industry is sometimes overwhelming. Trying to balance writing, publishing and promoting my book along with taking care of the rest of the responsibilities of my day-to-day life is exhausting. I am also obsessively checking sales stats which I have to stop doing because it is making me a nervous wreck. I worry over everything, but mostly I worry that I am going to let everybody down.

So, after a few months of trying to come up with a new story idea, I decided to put that on hold and work on the illustrations for a children's book I had written a few years ago. Can you believe it? I got myself an "idear"  Is it a good idea?  I don't know yet, I think it might be, but I'm going to let it simmer for awhile while I finish up this children's book. It turns out I just needed to switch gears for a bit and let the story ideas come to me. Good thing too, quitting is not an option for me.

I am a writer, and a writer writes....always.