Comments from the Peanut Gallery

Friday night, after closing on Thursday evening and then opening on Friday morning, I attended the Fourth Annual American Icon. Didn’t participate in this one–unless you count whooping and hollering for my buds participation.

And let me tell you: Deb, Fleur, and John kicked all kinds of butt.

Deb conquered her fear and stood in front of all those people and read like a pro. It was amazing. She claims her hands were shaking like crazy when she was done, but I didn’t notice. I thought she did awesome. Plus she (along with only our table–the cool kids’ table) won one of the door prizes.

Fleur, on top of the door prize she won (see? told you we were the cool kids–or at least really lucky) took “Best Tension” this year. That was the prize I won last year, so I’m glad the torch passed on to a worthy successor. See how I take all kinds of credit? Anyway, she earned it. She did an awesome job–especially after seeing her so nervous at practice. Practice makes perfect! and she was.

John in a suit jacket. Nuff said. He whooped up on all the action/adventure people. He came across professional and his presentation was spot-on. I’m pretty sure if just one guy had been on the panel of judges he’d’ve swept up.

It was great. For those of you plugging away all alone in a home office or on your lunch break, I highly recommend befriending your local writers. Not networking. Making friends. The most irritating part of the evening was the schmoozing. I had fun not because I was there to promote my book, but because I was supporting my friends in their endeavors. They shouldn’t be surprised to see me there: I’m invested in them and what they do. Their successes are mine too. I want them to do well. I’m pretty sure that’s why Shane and Ali and Nicole and John (different John…) showed up as well. Networking is getting your name out. Who cares?

You want people to care about what you do and why you do it. So, even though I didn’t read, I think I got three special prizes from my friends–their stories.

Failure Sound-Off

Everyone else did it. (See Ali, Deb, and John at right…)

Right now I’m looking for a job. Already I’ve done two interviews and two second interviews–so now it’s a foot race for who can offer me better stuff. And that sounds good, right?

Here’s the thing: None of them are the job I really want and none of them will lead me to the life I want. With either job (or both, depending on how I swing this) I don’t get to stay home with my kids, I don’t get to write bestsellers in my pajamas, I don’t have free weekends to research exotic locales for my novels, hell–my progress on my writing in general is forcibly slowed because of these jobs.

Even though it’s not a failure, and technically good for my bank account, it still feels like a failure–and an almost overwhelming failure at that. I’m beating myself up for not writing faster, getting the drafts done quicker, and putting together a synopsis and submission package–steps that would take me closer to my end goal. Now I have to do all that on top of possibly working two jobs (or one really demanding one). Menial jobs. Jobs that suck. Jobs that suck because they are not what I want. Painful months are stretching out in front of me and all I want to do is sink into the floor and cry.

While it’s not failing, “doing what you have to do” is not succeeding either. Who wants to ‘succeed’ at middle? Fuck that.

I think a lot of it has to do with attitude. Right now, I actually don’t feel like I’ve got a kick-ass-take-names attitude and that bugs me because that’s my general status quo. At the moment I’ve got a my-ass-has-been-kicked attitude that’s hard to pull out of.

Though I’m trying to keep something in mind.

Yesterday I read a profile on Tess Gerrittsen (sp?) and she said something to the effect of: “If I had not had a breadwinner and had to work, I don’t know how I would have done it (the writing career).”

One day soon I want to be able to say, after working all this and taking care of my family: “You do it like this.”

So I’m hoping the attitude comes back.

Who to cheer for?

Hmmm, it’s been a while since there’s been actual competition amongst the writers.

But now, it seems Ali and John are having it out in an old-school smackdown style. Who will to fifteen pages first? Who will create compelling characters, develop fascinating plots, and type the fastest.

Here’s the thing.

Actually, I’m sure they’ll both make the goal of fifteen pages.

But who will finish more by midnight, Sunday?

A revelation that’s probably only interesting to me…

I was looking at the calendar today, judging exactly how much time I had to procrastinate before I was really, really in trouble as far as getting the writing done. Usually, the last Sunday is before the last Monday. This month, that is not so.

So, here’s what that means:

1. Finish all CWC stuff first. Because I’m gonna see them first. Which means:

2. That I should be able to put in a submission for UGWP because I’ll have a whole week I can dedicate just to that.

I think that’s cool. Somehow makes the month-load easier.

The Twilight Zone

Last night I was surrounded by teenage vampires (and maybe a couple werewolves…). Not only vampires, but vampires dressed to the nines. Prom dresses galore. Not to mention dark lipstick, combat-boot-fishnet combos, and big hair. All out celebrating the release of Stephanie Meyer’s fourth installment of the Twilight series: Breaking Dawn.

The faces of the ‘normal’ bookstore customers were priceless. They looked around like it was an alien invasion (and I guess in some ways it was). But some old fogies, and some not so old, were regrettably unable to grasp the significance of the teenage presence. Complaints: “It’s too loud.” “What are these people doing here?”

Admittedly, a bookstore is generally a place where you come in, sip your coffee, and browse through merchandise you have no intention of buying…even if the coffee gets spilled on said merchandise. Yes, you go there for ‘quiet’ and ‘peace’. In my opinion, these people have forgotten the real enthusiasm of reading. They whined and moaned and left early. Poor bastards don’t get it.

It’s not about vampires and werewolves and wacky, whiny teenagers.

It’s about the fact that these kids were reading. And not only reading–actively participating and cheering for characters that showed them something about life. Cheering loudly. With their parents. That’s right, there were a ton of caring, supportive parents there last night cheering on the same characters and the fact that their kids were reading. I’ve only seen Harry Potter and Eragon do that.

When you read, you’ve got to get down into the characters, into the story, and fall in love. That’s magic. As a reader you have to suspend your disbelief and imagine this writer’s creation as real. If the writer did his/her job (key!)…that shouldn’t be hard to maintain. I’ve read Twilight and Harry Potter and Eragon and all of them do this (stock characters and creatures aside…). And the fans have come out in freaky costumes and all their wild, nerdy glory and they deserve our respect and admiration because they get it.

Put some passion in your reading. You’ll be better for it.