Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Blog Job

The gig I mentioned in the previous entry is this: MovieFile. I blog about movie news once a week. I cover a wide range of topics such as Regency England, music videos, and inner-city high schools. And that was just in one post.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Blog jam!

I started a new writing gig yesterday. I am now a professional blogger--one of only nine hundred million on the entire planet! The site's not up yet, but I'll post a link when it goes live.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

True nature.

Once at a convention where I was a guest, a young woman came up to me with a copy of one of my stories, and announced: "You look so... normal."

I felt like I should apologize. I was probably wearing a festively bright Eddie Bauer polo shirt and kicky capri pants with sandals and pink toenails when I should have been wearing something black and leather, or purple and velvety. With silver chains and blood-red lipstick. Or something.

It's just that I prefer keep my darker thoughts well hidden under a layer of chipper cotton tees and preppy ponytails. That way, no one suspects my true nature. Plus I have a white dog, and the hairs would be pure hell to get out of velvet.

But look at this:

Most people look at that ad and probably think, "Oh, no! I'd better get insurance so my children are taken care of!" or possibly, "Shithead advertisers transparently preying on my fear of mortality!" But I look at it and think, "That little girl is going to kill her daddy in his sleep and they're going to find him with a Raggedy Anne doll head stuffed in his esophagus."
And then I giggle a little. And go shopping for a new polo shirt.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Is that a Penix in your pants?

When I first started writing, I would turn every idea I had into a story. Over time, I've learned not every idea should become a story. I've learned to be more discriminating.

Every once in a while, though, I get caught up in the rush of a new idea. (Often, this is around the time I have just taken a lot of allergy medication, or gone without sleep for a couple of days.) For example, yesterday morning there was some Spam in my in-box, the first line of which read: "Turn that little pecker into a GIANT Phoenix!"

And I thought to myself, "Hey, yeah! Imagine a story where a guy finds out his penis is the Phoenix! And he has to wear special fire-retardant underwear! I'll call it... Rise of the Penix!"

Then I further thought, "Wait, no! Maybe he has the capital of Arizona in his pants. Imagine waking up with 1.5 million people living in your crotch. Old people will retire there and talk about how it's hot, but it's a dry heat!"

Luckily I had my coffee and some breakfast and came to my senses. Although, now that I'm typing all this out, it doesn't seem as bad as I'd thought...

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


I resolve to suck at updating my blog more often.

Since I keep trying and failing to update this blog on a regular basis, I figured I'd try doing the exact opposite for a while. See if I can't trick my brain into doing what I want it to! Show it who's boss. (Technically, I think my brain is the one in charge, but shh! Don't tell it that!)

When I first started sending out my stories, I'd make resolutions like, "I'm going to sell ten stories this year." And I'd usually meet my goal, but it'd drive me crazy. There's just too much you can't control once a story leaves your desk. For example, I once submitted a story titled "The Scattered Man," and it was rejected for being too much like Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man. My story is about a nomadic tribe in a desolate world, and Bester's is about telepathy and crime in the 24th century. Except for the word "man" in the title, there's really no similarity.

You can't control why an editor rejects your story. Sure, you can control how well you format your story according to guidelines--you can control whether you're rejected for sending in a manuscripted printed in pink ink on yellow paper. But you can't make sure an editor hasn't just bought a story like yours ten minutes earlier, or that they won't make assumptions about your story based on the title or whatever, or that you haven't just caught them on a bad day. So making resolutions that depend so much on someone else, I realized, was folly.

But I do resolve to actually start sending out more stories this year. I've gotten behind on that, for various reasons. That's purely something I can control. Unless telepathic cops read my mind and stop me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A portrait of the artist as a young snot.

My math teacher Mr. Norman once told me: "I'm not the only teacher who doesn't like you! You should hear what they say about you in the teacher's lounge!" To which I said something snotty about the teachers living sad, meaningless lives if they were spending time talking about some kid. Despite my reputation for being a teacher's pet (I think it was the tortoise shell glasses), I was really not popular among the staff.

A few teachers did encourage me, though. One in particular was Mrs. Gwinn, my sixth and eighth grade English teacher. She said I could become a professional writer and that it would be--in her words--very easy. "You should read the garbage they put on bookshelves," she said to me in the hall one day. "You could get published like that!" She snapped her fingers and nodded knowingly. I accepted her word as gospel.

If I could go back in time, I would pop up into that hallway at that precise moment and tell my younger self that while, yes, there is garbage on those shelves, most of those writers still had to slave and sweat over their work. Most of them toil away in anonymity forever, or their one published book is relegated to the bargain bin before disappearing entirely. It's not "easy," and you have to be prepared to either work your butt off, or accept the possibility you might never be as rich and famous as Stephen King. Or both. You have to love it despite whatever material rewards you do or don't get.

Not that it would have made any difference. My younger self would have told me to shut up because she knows everything and doesn't need to learn anything, so there. And then I would have given my younger self the winning lottery numbers for ten years hence, so I could just buy my own publishing house.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The morbid child

When I was a kid, I used to fantasize about the end of the world.

Now, by "fantasize" I don't necessarily mean I giddily planned for the eventuality of the Apocalypse the way I giddily planned for my future as a rock star/movie star. My thoughts were more along the lines of... contingency planning. What would I do if zombies took over my hometown, or aliens invaded the planet, or I got forgotten at the mall overnight? (Ok, that last one might have involved some giddiness.) If I got lost in the desert, or dumped in the woods like Hansel and/or Gretel, which creatures would I avoid and which would I eat? Would I have the mental fortitude to bean a cute little rabbit if I had to?

I was not raised by survivalists. Maybe I was innately morbid. Maybe I had watched too many late-night horror movies. Maybe I was just born a control-freak who has to plan for every possible scenario. (To this day, I carry a Swiss Army knife with me, although I'd be hard pressed to cut down even the scrawniest tree with the wee saw at my disposal. Mostly I use it for cutting the tags off of just-bought shoes that I want to wear immediately.) Or maybe my youthful mind was writing stories before I was calling it that. Morbid stories, but stories nonetheless.

The first "story" I can remember coming up with involved a little girl who'd been forgotten by her parents, who then had to fend for herself in the wild. I remember that the story made me cry as I recited it in the hallway of our apartment, to an audience of none. I know I was was about three years old because it was before my brother was born. It's a good thing no one else heard me, I guess. It's probably pretty disturbing to hear babies talking about scavenging in the ominous dark. Other stories involved people being eaten by giant squid and sharks. Maybe I was just morbid.

In other, more light-hearted news, I'm working on a fun little side gig. I'll be able to post about that soon, I think, barring any Apocalypse or zombie attack.