Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Hope your holiday is a good one. Let's be thankful for the good things we have.

The holiday didn't start well. While driving home yesterday I was rear-ended on the highway by a dumb kid following too close and not paying attention. After we pulled over, I asked him for his information. After ten minutes of he and his friend fumbling around in their car, he admitted he didn't know what that was.
Wow. So much for education in this country. Gee, what could I possibly be looking for? Hmmm? Must have been stoned all through Driver Ed, huh? How about registration, license, insurance info... any of that ring a bell?

To put the cherry on the sundae, there was no writing inplement. I always have something to write with in my vehicle. Someone had removed it. I also always have something to write with in my work bag. That was mysteriously absent as well. Of course goober or his friend had nothing. Nevertheless, I got his name and address and proceeded home, where I started my holiday dealing with an insurance company and negotiating with a garage on the last weekend of the month. Oh joy.

All that aside, we are very fortunate in this country, and don't appreciate it as much as we should. I've traveled a lot, and seen horrible living conditions for people not lucky enough to live here. I've also seen the most abysmal conditions for some people that do live here. Right now in this country there are homeless people, hungry people, human beings living in abject misery and deprivation. Others live in unimaginable wealth and privilege and power, and do little to help.

Want to feed somebody for free? Go to the Hunger Site, at:
and click on the button. Nothing is downloaded, no forms to fill out, that's it-- but your click means the advertisers donate a portion of food to someone who doesn't have enough to eat. You can do it once a day for each computer you're on. Small act, but one that multiplied could change the world for the better. Be a better person and help someone out today. And everyday, for that matter.
Make this holiday matter- live it well and count your many blessings.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Book recommendation

Just finished an awesome book you should read: Why We Suck by Dennis Leary. It's not only funny, so much of it is true. He tells it like it is, why men are the way we are, how the world works, and how he loathes celebutards (as do) I and the culture spawning their ubiquitous presence in the media. It seems the dumber you are, the more show time you get on television. We now have the privilege of watching human train wrecks competing for our limited attention span.

Back in the early 60's, Newton Minnow called television the vast wasteland. And that was before reality shows. I was raised on the idiot box, and I can easily slip into a blobby trance while watching bad television. So it speaks volumes when I can flip through a hundred channels and not find one thing worth my limited remaining time here on this plane of existence. It's a variation of Gresham's Law, with the bad driving out the good. They've killed television, and that may be a good thing. I'll actually shut it off and go do something else, which is absolutely the best thing.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Sorry for the radio silence, but I've been preparing for two important events. The first, and most important, is my daughter's birthday today. She's having a party, and we've all been getting our home ready for a bunch of pre-teens.

The second is the big mystery convention around these parts, called CrimeBake, and I just got back from there, having spent most of the weekend. It was my first of this type, and was quite an experience. I met writers, editors, and agents. Met some old friends and made some new ones. It was a sold-out smash hit with everyone. So many nice people being helpful.

Like a number of others there, I was able to pitch my novel to someone in the biz, and he asked to see the first ten pages. So here's hoping he likes what he sees and wants to take on my novel. If not, it's off to other agents. I'd guess well over half the folk there, well over a hundred, were mystery writers-- some already established, and some trying to break in to the biz.

Imagine playing Little League with dreams of pro glory, and then getting to hang out with some of the biggest Major League players: that's what this kind of show offers. And then having a scout tell you to throw a few pitches to see what you've got. Yeah, the pressure is enormous, but you get in there and give 'em your best. And you wait to see if they call you up. Wow. People came out of the pitch session stunned. A few of us gathered together to share our stories and congratulate each other.

Just so you'll know, many of the top-name writers also faced repeated rejection. Toni Kelner, a very nice mystery author, had a story rejected by someone she never even submitted it to! One writer had a NY Times best seller book that was turned down by 65 people before it hit. Yeah. A similar story with another, 60 rejections before the best seller sold. It really doesn't matter how good it is, it's getting it before the right set of eyes, and that's the tough part.

And that's where I am, waiting for the Right One. I've got three complete novels, good enough to show to professionals. We'll start with one, and get a foot in the door. Then it's Katy, Bar the Door!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Rejections of good stories

Sorry for sounding like I'm whining, but it's getting more than a little frustrating. I'm getting numerous story rejections where the editors are telling me that they liked it, and that the story is good and well-written. Which tends to put them above most of the stories I read in these mags. So why aren't the editors buying? If an editor has lengthy discussions with other people about the merits of a story, shouldn't they buy the damn thing, especially at bargain rates? You'd think so, huh? When was the last time you had a lengthy discussion about a story? If it makes you think about it that much, it's something that should be published.

Here's excerpts:
"After some lengthy discussion... This is a very well-written piece, with convincing characters, an effective dénouement and a nice twist, and an important social message ... it fell just short of being outstanding... we thought this was an excellently crafted story, with its heart entirely in the right place."

And despite that, they won't publish it. Wow. Just short of outstanding, but not good enough for token pay rates.

And so it's off to another market, a magazine that rejected my last submission thusly:
"Your story was well-written and I could see your characters clearly."

Well, Heaven forbid you should get well-written stories with clear characters. Or support a writer who submits such stuff. And then editors whine about not getting enough quality submissions...

But tenacity is the name of the game. Right after the rejection of the last one, the story sold to House of Horror, where it will appear this month. One man's lengthy, unpublished discussion is another man's sale and readership.

Non carborundum illegitimatus

Sunday, November 1, 2009

New Month

Happy Daylight Savings Time, this first day of November. It was a beauty, starting with that lovely extra hour. We should have that extra hour more often- it seems like it 's worth three or more. And the warm sun made it extra special.

Need it after last night, Trick-or-Treating with the kids. This might be my last year doing it. Wah. It was a perfect night for Halloween, an almost-full moon, and ghostly clouds scudding across the sky, driven by a swift wind. Warm enough for costumes without jackets. And a fun person to hang back with while the kids rang doorbells and collected sweet tribute.

All had good, safe fun, and we go into Thanksgiving month with much to be thankful for. In three weeks it's Turkey Time, and then the day and a half until Christmas! It was a fast year, folks. Yeah, there may be 60 days left, but they're booked pretty solid already. It's good to have a full life.