Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Taking the Yellow Crocs on the Road

Pretty soon, we'll be packing up for our annual Pilgrimage to Pinellas County (Florida, that is).

The first time we did this particular drive, our adolescent was less than two months old. THAT trip involved several nights' walking the colicky babe around roadside motels hoping we weren't keeping the whole place up.

There were two-baby trips (imagine a toddle with a stomach flu and a looooong fruitless Christmas morning search for a tube of Balmex), three-baby trips with endless Raffi sing-alongs, blizzards in New jersey, and buckets of toys, logy 2 AM passes through Washington DC and even a Christmas eve in which we broke down on the side of the road in Jacksonville.

I guess you could say miserable-yet-oddly wonderful road trips are now a holiday tradition with us. It just wouldn't be Christmas if I wasn't waking up in a Cracker Barrel parking lot after an all-night drive, shuttling the kids through the chachkas and into the bathroom to pee and brush their teeth and arguing over how many hot chocolate refills might make up for their hellish night in the car.

Anyways.... I'll try to update my query tally when I have more to say. So far.... silence.

Oh, and a holiday gift: one very nice rejection that pinpointed the thing I most worry about in my manuscript. (The start of another hellish holiday tradition, perhaps?)

Alicia over at Slice of the Blog Pie had a great post about the writing-towards-publication journey. It cheered me up, anyway. Check it out!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

One Hit Weekend: Somebody's Knockin'

Terri Gibbs

This was one of those big 80's country crossovers.

Terri Gibbs was blind from birth. She had several country and Christian hits, but nothing as spectacular as "Somebody's Knockin'"

If you were around in the 80's, admit it, you sort of liked this one.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Random Book Review: "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" by Steig Larsson

I'm always a little wary of tremendously popular books.

Perhaps this is because the hype often snowballs way beyond what any ordinary novel could deliver. I never was one for peer pressure, spent my high school years railing against the popular kids with their banal yet popular tastes. So it came as no surprise that "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo" disappointed me.

Don't get me wrong, I was thoroughly engrossed in the mystery of Harriet Vanger's disappearance. I page-turned with the best of them. I liked the characters, especially the girl with the dragon tattoo, who is fresh and interesting and very real.

But by the time I finished GWTDT, I felt like I'd involved myself in an overly long, Swedish version of "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit". Exactly like that. The novel has enough tawdriness and sex crimes to fill a whole season of SVU and the financial wheelings and dealings (the other big plot point) are rather dry and uninteresting.

Mostly, I guess I felt manipulated by this book, and a bit like I did in high school when everybody and his brother thought Journey was the best thing going.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Another One Hit Weekend!

What ridiculously catchy, totally inane, avian-themed hit stormed both the British and American airwaves in 1970 and 1971?

Why, "Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep" of course!

I was four when the Kisoons, a brother and sister team, made it big with "Chirpy". I believe it was the first pop song I ever liked. Being the kind of song ONLY a four year old could like, it quickly faded. But there are TONS of versions out there.

I always thought this song was about a "little baby boy" abandoned by his parents. But it turns out the Kissoons are singing about a bird, or, a "boid" anyway.

There are no videos of the Kissoons performing "Chirpy". Just this kind of boring photo montage:

But here's Lolly Stott, the song's composer. One of the comments on YouTube said that Stott looks like "Robert DeNiro's hippie brother" and it is SOOOO true. The video is all around interesting, in a Candid Camera outtake sort of way: a random group of people standing around singing about some baby bird and clapping all out of sync at the prompting some random looking guy on a street corner.

The Scottish Band "Middle of of the Road" also had a hit with "Chirpy". Although band leader Ken Andrews had this to say about the song: "We were as disgusted with the thought of recording it as most people were at the thought of buying it. But at the end of the day, we liked it."

If ya just can't get enough, here's Middle of the Road's rendition:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Just Keep Swimming

No news to report on the queries and manuscripts out there in the agent ether, but lately I've been thinking about the oft-shared advice to start something new while querying.

The new project is supposed to help me keep focused or less crazy or something. I have tried to do this. Really, I have. But there are a few problems with the "just keep swimming" approach:

1. There are three different books I've considered starting. Which do I start on? I know from experience that, like dating, it's hard to predict which is THE one from a few brief hours over coffee. So I've been bouncing around between the three totally radically absolutely different potential novels but haven't fallen head over heels for any of them yet.

2. I am totally preoccupied with the query process. At any given time, it's taking up about 35% of my attention. (That is when it's not taking up 100% of it)

3. I am sort of driven to return to the safety-net of revision, any revision. I have even considered returning for the umpteenth time to my first novel and reworking the plot (again!)

So, my question, fellow writers, is how do you keep sane during the query process?

If starting on something new is the answer-- how do you move past the old-shoe comfort of the novel you've finished?

Saturday, December 4, 2010

One Hit Weekend!

Gary Numan: Cars

1980. Synthesizers, eyeliner and brooding. I used to think this song was put out by "The Cars" but no, It's one-hit wonder Gary Numan.

In this awesomely bad video, Gary appears in a pyramid, a tambourine, and a red plastic jumpsuit

but not in his CAR.

Go figure.

Friday, December 3, 2010

A Big Ol' Zipline to Query Hell

Every year, I get the opportunity to engage in some staff and student "team building" at work.

I love this sort of stuff: low ropes elements, in which we have to work as a team to get all members across imaginary crocodile pits and over six-foot walls, high ropes elements that involve balancing on tree branches and leaping into thin air...

Well, I don't like that part of it so much. You could say that I have a more than healthy fear of heights... and also that I'm not athletic enough to pull myself up a swinging rope ladder contraption without looking totally ridiculous.

But I have to set a good example for the students and so I do my best, wheezing however many feet upward and as far above the ground as I can manage before I lose my nerve. Most of the time it's a good experience all around.

But several years ago, I got myself in a little too deep, er, high.

It all started with one of our soon-to-be-graduates. He'd struggled through three previous team-building days and, seriously afraid of heights, hadn't made it to the pinnacle of the high ropes course: the dreaded ZIPLINE. This particular zipline required you to climb about 60 feet up a tree by clinging to giant staples in its trunk, stand on a teeny tiny ledge high above the ground and step off into a nothing that lasted 300 feet or so (Probably not the exact measurements here...suffice to say it was high, long and scary)

I truly believe that facing one's fears is one of the most worthwhile and life-affirming things a person can do, especially when done in relative safely. The ropes course thing has been a life-changer for many struggling students and with all good intentions, I promised this student that if he did the zip line, I would too.

THAT's how I ended up clinging to the tippy top of a tall tree in a helmet and rock climbing harness, whimpering something like "I'm the mother of three children! I can't do this!" in front of the entire school, students staff everyone.

I knew what was coming, knew I'd hate that stepping-off-the-edge-feeling-like-you-are-going-to-die moment and that probably, afterwards, it would all be okay. But the stepping off part loomed like you can't believe. I finally womaned up and did it. And really it wasn't so bad.

Fun? Eh, not so much. But definitely worthwhile.

Why the big long story about ropes courses, you ask?

Because I got one of those , ominous self-addressed-stamped form letter rejections today and looking at that sealed envelope, I experienced the same clinging to the top of the tree dread as I did during my zipline experience. I had gotten myself into this, gone and stepped off that teeny platform into a long, terrible (well, not soooo terrible) slide. The all consuming query and wait, hope and dashed-hope thing I (now) remember so well.

As with the zipline, I will learn something, face what I didn't know I could and, maybe, end up hanging 60 feet in the air from a crotch-hugging harness while the "team" finds a ladder and gets me the hell out of here.

At any rate, thanks for being the "team" part of this team-building activity. I really do appreciate all of your kind words.

Here's the updated Query Tally:

Queries sent-- 5
Fulls Requested-- 2
Fulls Rejected-- 0
Partials Requested--0
Form Rejections--2

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Updated Query Tally

Queries sent-- 5
Fulls Requested-- 2
Partials Requested--0

I'm an optimist. I choose to believe that no news (especially with the holidays and whatnot) is good news.....