Time For Some Fun

Someone on Absolute Write's Water Cooler came up with a fun post. If you've ever had a DVD that has an Easter Egg on it - that is, something hidden by pressing weird buttons on your remote, etc. - have you put any sort of Easter Egg in your writing?

I have.

My only pub credit - a short story - had a female MC whose first name was Brielle. That also happens to be the name of a town down the Jersey shore, and I always LOVED that name (it's kinda pretty, ain't it?).

The other Easter Egg is, I think, more Easter Egg-like. My current WIP, which starts in 1974 New Jersey (notice a trend? ;-))moves to 1942 Los Angeles/Hollywood, and pretty much stays there for the duration. (World War II buffs should get that last bit - hopefully. :-)) I have one character (Margaret, Rita's adoptive mother) working at a fictitious movie studio called Durham Studios. There actually was, and I believe, still is, a Raleigh Studios located out there. As there's a Raleigh-Durham Airport, I figured I'd have a little fun and call the studio Durham.

Y'get it?

I feel so much like Wile E. Coyote - Super Genius.

And modest, too. ;-)

~Nancy C. Beck


Another Publish America Sting

Do these people never learn?

Apparently so, for Publish America (PA) has been stung yet again. This time, the Canadians decided to get into the act, throwing some horrendous poems this "traditional publisher's" way.

Called Painful Poetry by Alphabet, Pete Vere at SooToday included a couple of poems on his site.

Have some fun and read some of his intentionally crappy poems here.

That story begat another story, this time involving an "acquisitions editor" (why bother with such a title, when you except almost anything?) asking Mr. Vere to remove said acquisitions editor's name from the original post.


~Nancy Beck



Since I decided on something different in the way my story will progress, I was faced with having to rethink how I'd get from Point A to B to C and so on. (Some of the stuff I wrote was dreck anyway, so it's not like I'm losing much.)

I bought an e-book on novel writing a couple of years ago and remembered something about writing down stuff in a linear manner; an overview and a more detailed view.

I thought it was a good idea, so I brought up those pages and printed them out. Basically, you start out by writing START at the bottom left of a piece of legal paper (or, if you have access to such stuff, A3 paper) and put FINISH in the upper right. It was like a re-do of the plot, but it was nice to actually see it written down (so to speak). This was the detailed view, and it's where I most of the rethinking occurred. It went very well, and I was able to then go onto the overview, which was called a template in this ebook.

This template is what I'm going to use to remind of the overall arc of the story. The ebook suggests a list of 1 to 10; I did 30 (which the ebook said wasn't a big deal). Anyway, this consists of short sentences that list the critical plot points; they're like the highlights of what's happening.

And I think these might come in handy later when I write up various lengths of synopses. (Yeah, like I'm looking forward to that.)

~Nancy Beck

Hallelujah - Airleaf "Publishing" Is Out of Business

A so-called "publisher" has gone out of business - Airleaf Publishing (aka Bookman Marketing, aka who-the-hell-knows-what else). They spammed the crap out of plenty of writers, but those were the "lucky" ones; the unlucky ones put up tens of thousands of dollars for...nothing.

If you were scammed by Airleaf/Bookman, don't throw away those emails or any other paperwork you have. You might want to check out the new PODdy Mouth's post here for more information.

Who says Christmas wishes don't come true? ;-)

~Nancy Beck


A Christmas Carol

Christmas Eve was always a big deal in my house. My mother and father's generation, that generation who got married in the years following World War II, knew there would be problems among the families come Christmas Day. They wisely decided that we, my father's family (including his four brothers, one sister, and all their broods), would celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve; the other side of the family could then be tended to on Christmas Day without any bad feelings.

Then again, I heard something the other day that celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve might be more of a Polish tradition. Whether that's true or not...well, I guess I could do some Internet research and find out, but I'd rather not at this point in my life; I rather like the idea that my father's family decided independently to set aside Christmas Eve as "that side" of the family's celebration while accommodating their in-laws.

Anyway, I was watching A Christmas Carol last night. This was the 1938 version, with Reginald Owen as Scrooge and Gene Lockhart as Bob Cratchit. (Gene Lockhart is the judge in Miracle on 34th Street, who finds for the old man, Edmund Gwenn, that he is Kris Kringle.) Most people probably remember the 1951 version with Alistair Sim, as I think that's been shown on TV a lot more often than the 1938 version.

But I was watching the older one last night, and it got me to thinking about the novel, and about Dickens. We wannabes are endlessly told to find a good enough antagonist to block the way of our protagonist; they can be outright villains, or someone who thinks they're doing something good to the protagonist by constantly thwarting whatever the protag is going for. Of course, we're talking about people, mostly; Dickens went further, in that his antagonists for Scrooge were the Christmas spirit and charity. And Scrooge was an anti-hero, to boot; how could we possibly like this old miser?

But Dickens was such a great writer, that he pulled it off. He made the story completely believable, made it so that you really thought Scrooge had changed his ways.

So why did Dickens write this story? This was written when the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, when the London fog of legend was hanging around (it was more of an industrial fog than any sort of natural fog), when people were paid pittances to work at these big factories, when the industrialists grew richer every day.

Lest you think this is a big diatribe against business, just read on...

What Dickens was trying to say to the industrialists was to treat their workers with respect, to treat them as human beings, not as machines. Give them living wages, so they had a decent roof over their heads, so they could buy food and clothing, maybe even have a little left over to buy something fun.

Dickens didn't think that was such a bad thing, and who in their right mind could? This dovetails with my last post on the kindness of others.

And I think it's a perfect sentiment and idea for this time of year, and ANY time of the year.

Have a safe and merry Christmas!! :-)

~Nancy Beck


The Kindness of Others

I've been concerned about having good karma for a number of years now. Not only do I want to be able to sleep at night, but I truly want to be as kind to other people as I possibly can. You could say it's partially a fear thing, in that if I'm a rotten bastard to people, then that's going to come back and bite off my ass. The other part is the pleasure in seeing or hearing someone be nice back to you, by offering thanks, a pat on the back, or what have you.

Well, yesterday, I had a bear of time getting out of my parking spot at home. I had to get the hubby out to get the damn car out. Which he did :-), and he even got it out of the alleyway.

Fortunately for me, I got my car out of the parking spot today.

Unfortunately for me, I hesitated going out onto the intersecting road at the end of the alleyway.


I slid on the ice, sideways. I went back and forth, back and forth - but the car just couldn't get enough grip.

A nice older man in a pink house within earshot of the car came out. He tried to push the car in the back - no dice. Then he put some ice melt under the back tires - no dice. Then, unbelievably, a nice young guy in a cap came along. They both tried pushing. Nope. Then Cap Guy dug out some huge chunks of snow from under the front tire. Pushing still didn't work.

Needless to say, I was a nervous wreck at this point, but I managed to keep calm, as I know if I became too emotional, my mind would be mush. The old guy came out with some big-ass pieces of cardboard, which both men lodged under the back tires.

They pushed, I gave it the gas...and voila!! The car, she is free! I thanked them profusely as I drove off.

I wish each of those nice gentlemen the very best Christmas (or whatever holiday they may celebrate), and a healthy life.

~Nancy Beck


Oy, Court Date

Well, just got a call from hubby. His court date is Friday, 1/4/08, at 8:30. (Boy, talk about getting it out of the way, although it's taken a long time in coming.)

At least we'll have the holidays together. After that...we'll just have to wait and see. (Not that he'd be going away for years, if he's to be put away, but still...).


~Nancy Beck


Yesterday was a particularly crappy day. (I know: Cue the violins! ;-))

Not only was there an snow and ice storm (the sleet started at 9:00am, waaay before the weather people said it would), but my low back was absolutely killing me. (It's a bit better today.) So I hunkered down for the count, taking a naproxen and putting a hot water bottle on my low back.

I slept the entire morning on the couch, with our 2 sweet doggies lying nearby.

I felt hungry enough to have lunch, then the ol' back started up again, so the water bottle made another appearance.

This morning, even though I left the car running, I still had to scrape off some ice off the damn thing. Yeah, the ice was so thick that I had to use the scraper as a pick just to chop through it all. And when you're not exactly 100%...

Anyway, I made it in to work. I really wanted to finish up critting the novelette that I told someone I'd crit for them, but I wanted to do it justice, and yesterday wasn't the day for much of anything (except slogging around the house with dishelved hair, heh). So I'm going to try to finish it up over the weekend, where, of course, we'll have another storm to look forward to (Nor'easter', anyone?).

Ah well.

~Nancy Beck


Terry Pratchett

I haven't read any of Terry Pratchett's books, and I doubt I ever will (I just don't think they're for me), but it was interesting to read in Publisher's Lunch that he has the beginnings of Alzheimer's:
We are taking it fairly philosophically down here and possibly with a mild optimism. For now work is continuing on the completion of Nation and the basic notes are already being laid down for Unseen Academicals. All other things being equal, I expect to meet most current and, as far as possible, future commitments but will discuss things with the various organisers. Frankly, I would prefer it if people kept things cheerful, because I think there's time for at least a few more books yet.

That really, really sucks. Naturally, I wish him and his family well.

~Nancy Beck


And Now Something For The Wheel of Time Fans

I gave up on the Wheel of Time (WOT) series by Robert Jordan at about the 4 book mark, but plenty o'people plowed ahead through the rest of the series. Robert Jordan, unfortunately, didn't finish the series because of his untimely death.

Well, WOT fans, unite and rejoice! Tor has announced the Brandon Sanderson will finish the series.

The very last book of the series is entitled A Memory of Light. Yes, THE last WOT book, what a lot of fans have been dreaming of for a long time.

It looks as if Mr. Sanderson is a logical fit, as he credits Mr. Jordan as an inspiration for his decision to become a writer. I wish Mr. Sanderson a hearty congratulations and good luck, too. :-)

You can read about it on The Book Swede's blog.

~Nancy Beck


Having Trouble Getting In Your Daily Writing?

I'm sure there are plenty of nudges to spark your writing (like writing prompts, although prompts have never seemed to work for me), and I thought this site, Black On White, looked like an interesting place to help with that.

I haven't used it yet, but it might be something to look into. It has an email ilst, too, which might be a great way to have someone light a fire under your butt just when you need it the most (like if you've been rejected for the 20th time or something).

Since writing is such a solitary pursuit, it's always nice to find people who understand where you're coming from and can offer their support.

ETA: The original link I had (the url of which was suggested by the website) has been changed, bringing you to the welcome page of the site. (Sheesh! The things you have to look out for!)

~Nancy Beck


The Latest On My Writing

I started in on Chapter 4 yesterday, clearing out quite a few things, combining other stuff, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I revised about a third of it, and I wondered if maybe I should have another character, specifically, Viv, start in on her observations. (She's cynical, a wise-ass, and a usually caustic tongue, but she treats people who help her like gold; oh, and then there's something my MC, Rita, and she have in common, but Viv's not forthcoming about it).

Anyway, I'll probably print out this chapter and go over it even moreso, as I only have a vague idea as to where I was going with this when I originally wrote it, lol. I'm not sure if I want to go down the original road, but I'll see. Depends on whether it sounds squicky, and if I feel it's still important to the story.

Because at a certain point (the mid-point, that is), the story is going to veer into another, better direction than what I originally wrote. The middle is lukewarm at best, and most of it needs to go.

I'm also helping out a fellow writer by critting her novelette. I love the MC and found the story intriguing; pulled me in!

That's about it for now. Back to my day job! :-)

~Nancy Beck


My Revisions

I realized late last week that I certain part of Chapter 3 in my WIP made no sense.

My MC, who's wearing nothing but a bra and panties (you'll have to read to find out why, lol ;-)), and only has a blanket to cover her, is standing in someone's house, talking as if she's wearing a dress or something.

Nope, says my brain, that wouldn't happen.

My MC is whisked back in time by a Roman goddess, so her mind's already a little messed up. ;-) So why should she be perfectly fine just standing around, in her undies, talking to people she's just met? And why wouldn't at least one of those people point out that, um, it ain't natural for a stranger to be standing around with a blanket tugged tight around her?

Yeah. Exactly. So I had to do some cuttin' and pastin' to get one of the other people to say something snarky to her, have her do a little freak, then run into another room, slamming the door behind her. Mission accomplished!

As it originally read, it was important, in that the MC received some good info about the people in the house, etc., but it wasn't right the way it was written. I feel it reads much better now, although a few tweaks here and there is not out of the question. I can guarantee there'll be some other revisions on this, but not as extensive.

The middle part of the story is going to drive me nuts, though. ::sigh:: I wasn't sure originally what I was going to do in the middle of the story, but I wrote what I came up with at the time. My latest idea (especially after reading about a writer Agent Kristin just recently took on) is from a book that's coming out in 2009, and that has an element or event that's the same in my story; different story, though (and I don't think the 2009 book is a blend of SF and fantasy).

Anyway, I took care of that over the weekend, and look forward to hashing out more stuff in the coming days and weeks.

I still plan to start sending out queries in February next year, and I'm determined to keep that deadline in mind.

~Nancy Beck

Evil Editor's Writing Exercise

I love going to Evil Editor's blog. Sometimes he has writing exercises, especially when the till is low.

I decided to partake of this one. Why? I dunno. Maybe it was because it had something to do with a private detective or something. Anyway, there are others that were submitted including from yours truly, and they all had me cracking up.

Mine is Number 6. Go ahead. Have some fun here.

~Nancy Beck