Friday, August 31, 2012

Be Inspired

Sci Fi/Fantasy author Michael Offutt has tagged me in the latest meme sweeping the blogosphere— the Be Inspired meme (hence the logo on the left).  Participants are asked to answer a series of questions about their novel and then tag five other authors.  The reason I was selected, as he told me, was because it's a way to force me to talk about my book.  Every author, he says, should love talking about their book.

Which is true.

But here's the thing... I'm terrible at and terrified of talking about my book.  If you know me outside of this blog, you know just how bad it is.  Stammering and hand wringing and the setting of small fires in order to direct people's attention elsewhere.  And if you only know me though this blog you still probably know how bad it is.

But I think maybe I can handle the question format so let's just take this one question at a time and see what happens, shall we?

1.  What is the name of your book?

Oh, wait!  I know this one!  The novel is called Effigy.

2.  Where did the idea for your book come from?

Back in middle school maybe, my mother found for me a series of mid grade fantasy novels where an ordinary girl is accidentally transported into a parallel universe filled with magic and sword fighting and unicorns.  The series was called "The Secret of the Unicorn Queen" and it inspired me to write my own fantasy stories.  Combine that with my love of King Arthur, Robin Hood and double bladed battle axes, and I guess me writing this book was kind of inevitable.

3.  In what genre would you classify your book?

Epic fantasy, I guess.  Though I'm uncomfortable with the 'epic' part.

4.  Who would you pick to play your characters in a movie adaptation?

That question was answered in a blog post I did a while back where I cast most of the novel's most important characters.  You can check it out here.

5.  Give us a one sentence synopsis of your book.

One sentence?  But it took me eight months to write a four and a half page synopsis.  Oh well.  Here goes...

Queen of a land succumbing to a once dormant darkness, Haleine Coileáin aligns herself with her husband's enemy to bring an end to the evil, regardless of the cost— even if that cost is her life.

6.  Is your book already published?


7.  How long did it take you to write this book?

I decline to respond to this question on the grounds that the answer is incredibly depressing and little embarrassing.  Let's just say I make George R.R. Martin look like Speedy Gonzalez.

8.  What other books in your genre would you compare it to?

Me?  None.  However, there are a few people out there who are not me nor related to me who have likened my book to George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.  Which worries me. A lot.

9.  Which authors inspired you to write this book?

I don't know that any authors really inspired me to write this book but I think some have helped shape certain aspects of it.  For example, I really admire the way Philippa Gregory writes her novels (Seriously, you should read The Boleyn Inheritance) and Ellen Emerson White had a huge impact on how I construct characters.

10.  Tell us anything that might pique our interest in your book.

Uh... Yeah, this is going to be the hardest one for me.

Back when I was teaching English, my students always asked if the book contained swearing, sex and violence.  And the answer was always Yes, yes and yes.  (There's also sarcasm.  And talking unicorns.  Who are (occasionally) sarcastic.)  Interestingly enough, The Man's boss also asked the same questions.

This is also a fantasy novel that has appealed to people who normally do not read fantasy or do not like fantasy.  (And again, none of these people are related to me.)

Is that it?  Did I make it?

Well, there's the part where I'm supposed to tag five other people but I never do that part.  However, if you'd like an opportunity to talk about your book— or, if you're like me and desperately need the practice— please consider yourselves tagged.

Thanks again to Michael Offutt for including me in this meme and forcing me to stop ignoring my blog.  Be sure to check out his blog as well as his debut novel, Slipstream.  I'm about 60% of the way through it myself and I'm enjoying it.  Even if there are an awful lot of spiders to be found.  (And just so you know... one spider is one too many for my tastes.)

Have a great Labor Day weekend, everyone.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Staff Meeting Drinking Game

I know I said in my last post that today's post would be my July book review but I'm a big fat liar who didn't get that book review finished last night, in part because of The Store's latest staff meeting.  So instead, I thought I'd share the latest additions to the Staff Meeting Drinking Game I've developed over the years.  Just make sure to bring your beverages in innocuous containers (i.e., vodka in a water bottle) because Management doesn't really approve this game... and, as always, please play responsibly!  (this means don't really play it.  Just do the shots in your mind.  It's like the soup thing.  It's always a hoot and we don't all die from it (Name!  That!  Reference!)

Do a shot...

...for every minute the meeting starts late because Management's just not ready yet. (Note: this would've netted participants thirty shots last night.)

...every time during the numbers talk when Management spews out a bunch of information, squints at the paper she's reading from and then says, "Never mind. That wasn't right."

...every time Management says, "the company's very excited about this!"

...every time Management gives me a dirty look for being a surly, sarcastic pain in the ass.

...every time Management orders two employees to separate because they won't stop talking.  (NOTE: do TWO shots when I'm not one of those employees)

...every time Management asks "Any questions?" and then gets pissed when someone asks a question.

...every time Management gets pissed because I've just corrected her grammar.

...every time Management counters with, "well, I'm not an English lit person."

...every time Management throws something at me when I counter that with "Proper grammar isn't just for writers any more."

and last, but not least...

...for every minute the meeting runs late.

Well, I'm off.  I have an early and long shift at The Store today.  This means I'll be very slow about getting to everyone else's blogs but I will get out there soon.  And maybe I'll get my book review up for Wednesday.  I know how you're just dying to read it. 

Have a great Monday, everyone...

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Good, The Bad and The Funny

The Good

Two things for this category.  First, remember Ego Man?  If you don't, he's the blowhard who hijacked my sweet little writers group back in January.  He's the one who wasn't interested in either giving or receiving feedback and has spent the last seven months telling us how awesome he is and how hopeless and doomed for failure the rest of us are (this in between "jokes" about wanting to steal my work.).  He's really been a delight (sarcasm) but today, I received an email from him (well, the entire group did) saying he was dropping out of the group for the foreseeable future.  I know this makes me a terrible person but I did a little happy dance when I read that.

Second, I received a note from my third beta, the third person in a row to make it all the way through Effigy (when it rains, it pours, I guess).  In addition to Effigy, she also read the first three hundred pages of its sequel, Second Nature.  I'm not going to include the entire note, but here are a couple of highlights:

I am in awe that you have created this world and these people.


Second Nature is awesome. We won't even discuss the tantrum I had about not having the rest of the book.  You should be proud.

I am proud.  And a little embarrassed, in a shy please-don't-let-the-spotlight-be-on-me kind of way.  But, if you're reading this, E, thank you very much.  Your timing was perfect.

The Bad

I had my annual performance review at The Store yesterday.  I never look forward to them but this year seemed a particular waste of time since I'd been told about two months ago that I was no longer eligible for pay increases because someone in my position could only earn X number of dollars an hour and I was already at that point.  And I'll admit, since that time, I may have half assed and even quarter assed a few of my shifts but the truth remains that even when I am quarter assing my shifts, I'm still more productive than most of the staff.

Anyway, it went about as well as I expected.  Last year, I was marked down for not always wearing current product (seriously) and my occasionally bad attitude (I heckled the staff meetings. But only because they're rather ridiculous).  This year, I was marked down for my occasionally bad attitude toward company initiatives.  That conversation went like this:

My boss: You need to be more positive about company initiatives.
Me:  But they're dumb.
My boss:  (pause for grinding of teeth) Be that as it may, you keep saying you don't want to do them—
Me:  That's because I don't want to do them.
My boss: Go away now.
Me:  Gladly.

The Funny

I get a real kick out of the people behind the "How It Should Have Ended" series.  My all time favorite so far is Twilight. But here are two I just saw for the first time this week: 

Be sure to tune in Monday when I might actually get around to posting my July book review. Until then, have a great weekend...

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

If You're Happy And You Know It... (An IWSG Post)

...clap your hands.

And then tell me how you did it.

Not the hand clapping thing.  I've got that down.  I can even slow clap.

But what I mean is if you're happy with your manuscript and you know it, how'd you do that?  How'd you know you were done?  How'd you know it was right?

The reason I'm asking is... well, besides the fact that I'm incredibly insecure—  is that I think I might be done.  Yeah, yesterday I was all "Oh woe is me, I have X number of pages left to edit" and I'm wondering if part of the reason why I'm struggling to close out these edits is that maybe they don't need to be done in the first place.  (Well, some of them anyway.  I did pull two scenes apart so I should probably put them back together again, if nothing else.)

I feel as though I'm in a place where if I keep editing, if I keep making changes, then it will be to the book's determent.  That it won't be my book anymore.  And as I'm going the self publishing route, I feel like I damn well better love this book.

So, all perfectly valid arguments, I think, but here's the thing.  I don't really trust myself because— let's face it— I hate editing.  I understand that it's a necessary evil like going to the dentist or my day job or doing sit ups (Oh wait. I don't do sit ups. Never mind...).  I understand that it makes my dismal first draft into something readable but I still don't like it. 

Therefore, I'm afraid I'm just making excuses, justifying my deep desire to not edit anymore.  You know, kind of like how I justify having that last piece of chocolate cake because I don't want it to get lonely.  I'm just thinking of the cake.  Really.

So I'm turning to you, my fellow writers, to help me out here.  How'd you know you were ready?  How'd you know you'd finally crossed that finish line?  How'd you convince yourself to stop being crazy (not that you're crazy) and take the plunge?

Shower me with wisdom, slap me upside the head, whatever it takes.  I'm game.

I'm also scheduled at The Store today so I won't be able to hit your blogs until much later in the day.  But leave some chocolate cake out for me and I'll be sure to find my way.

Happy writing all...

(For a complete list of all IWSG participants, click on the graphic at the beginning of this post)