Tuesday, April 13, 2010

If you're a Salinger fan

The Catcher in the Rye.

Arguably one of the greatest works of fiction in existence.
High school and junior college teachers alike reap praise on Salinger's book like Holden Caulfield (the book's main character, for those who haven't read it) is Hanna Montana and they're thirteen year old girls. I have read this book a total of six times. Once, when I was 12, because my aunt gave me a copy and told me "It will change your life", then four times throughout school, then another time on my own just to see if my feelings on it had changed.

They hadn't. I still didn't like it very much.

It sure didn't change my life, at least. I mean, sure, it was entertaining, but I didn't find it to be the grand masterpiece it's louted to be, and I sure didn't find Holden Caulfield to be the perfectest anti-establishment, never conform, sort of hero guy that they say he is.

But I'm not sure Salinger even wanted him to be. I've tried to study Salinger, as I think the writer much more interesting than the character (and how often can we say that? I'm sure as hell not anywhere near as interesting as my characters), only to find that there isn't much to study. From what I have found, however, I think he may have added more depth to Holden Caulfield than any of the pseudo-intellectual ivy league rebels suspect. Maybe Holden Caulfield's just a confused teenager and that's it. Seems pretty profound, but what do I know? I write zombie love stories.

Anyhow, as a Salinger fan, I loved this article. Hated Catcher in the Rye. What are you gonna do?

(Thanks so much to the link-master, Moon Rat, for the link.)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wow. Just... wow.

First off, I would like to personally thank Laura at Combreviations for this, because it has been blowing my effing mind all night. Thanks Laura.

Now, you all know my tastes in music aren't exactly the most eclectic thing in the world. I tend to stick to what I like, and while that has greatly grown - especially over the last few years - it is still a relatively small ballpark. I'm not known to listen to rap at all, but as of late, I've been getting into some underground hip-hop. More smooth beats and stuff like that. Check out this guy for an example. Or this guy. Or even these guys: The Wife's brother writes their music and plays guitar for them: The Big Bang Theory.

Anyhow, gangster rap is not something I am down with. At all. Especially media sensationalized gangster rap, but once in a while, one of these characters will blow my mind. (Eminem's Marshall Mathers LP comes to mind.) Not always musically, though.

Ready for it?

Li'l Wayne has started a blog that he is writing from prison.

I know.

Go ahead, take a moment while your mind is blown.

Just click on the link and read it. I dare you not to laugh.

This guy, this sexist, racist (probably - he HAS used the term 'white boy' in public), piece of scum, and let's not forget CONVICTED FELON, has the audacity to act all moral in the blog and it is just too funny watching him do it while using grammar that bears a striking resemblance to that of my 8-year-old nephew. Actually, I take that back. Little Danny may be a little more advanced than Li'l Wayne.

The sad thing is, he's probably going to get a book deal or something out of it.
I want to know, what do you guys think about it?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pope Benedict ... REVEALED!

(So be it, Jedi...)

I'm going to go in a different direction with this post, and do something somewhat topical.

The pope has been in the news recently, having been outed as a former Hitler Youth member (true) and for a lot of other shady stuff. Hiding and reassignment of known child molesters not-withstanding, it just so happens I've come across some information that will blow your fucking minds. Seriously.

Pope Benedict... is actually...

The Emperor!

That's right. You heard it first. Pope Benedict is actually Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars. I understand that this also means characters from popular movies can run the Catholic church, but is that really too far of a stretch?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Return of the Blog

Okay. I know. I know. I haven't blogged in ages. And I know - just about every time I blog, I apologize for the lack of posts.

Well no more!

That's right, you heard me. The reason I haven't been able to post in quite some time is a pretty simple one. Life happens. I have so many things going on around me at all times it's hard enough to keep my head on straight, let alone hold it there long enough to post a new blog. On one side we have the family. I'm a brand new dad and I try to spend as much time as possible with The Bean. (Who, by the way, is now holding his own bottles, giggling like a maniac when you pretend to sneeze, rolling over, and trying to crawl - and all this at only four months. I had no idea my sperm would produce such a genius! Oh, and he's also in size three diapers already. So make that gigantic genius.) I'm also a happily engaged man and love spending time with The Wife, who is currently curled up in bed after our movie marathon last night. (We have decidedly short marathons, thanks to all of my obligations. Our marathon last night consisted of the last half of Land of the Dead and the first half of Crybaby. Two great movies by two amazing directors*, that hopefully I will be able to watch in entirety again one day.) Add to that writing, editing, re-writing, re-editing the main eye-candy of the Bible Camp Zombies books and I would have a pretty full life, wouldn't I? Well, I also have a day-job (that I loathe**), and at this day job the only other guy who works my shift was arrested a while ago, so I have been working his shifts as well as mine.

Wow. I really don't have time to blog. What am I doing here?

Okay, no, I owe you guys some posts - if only for your patience with me. So mark my words, children, readers, BFFs... The blog shall live. Liiiiive! LIIIIIIIVE!

Oh, and here's a random link. For readers and writers alike. Christopher Moore (who happens to be a huge inspiration to yours truly) giving a pretty derned good interview on why writing is harder than it looks, why he isn't your average vampire writer (thank God), and some other fun things. Chris Moore Interview

So I will see you soon, everybody, I promise. (Maybe even later today. Who knows?!)

* George A. Romero and John Waters, respectively
** So, editor reading this blog, make sure you offer me tons of money for Bible Camp Zombies

Saturday, January 30, 2010

A few rules to keep in mind when querying

Hi all. It's still query week, and I'm still here. Sorry about the lack of a post yesterday. Things got hectic around here and The Bean refused to let me have any peace. But I'm here now and I'm ready to get down to business.

Okay, writers. You've finished your book. You've gone over it over and over and over again, editing, until you can't stand the sight of it anymore. You've gotten it critiqued by your writing group, your girlfriend, and you Aunt Millie. You're ready to move on to the exciting (read: anxiety-ridden) world of querying!

You basically have two options on who to send these special little letters to.
A) Literary agents
B) Small publishing houses

They both have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on what you want to do with your book. I won't go into what they are, because you can do that on your own time. I'm also going to try to avoid stuff you should already know. (Like all the stuff you can find just about anywhere, from Writer's Market to Agentquery.com.) I will give you some helpful advice over the next few days on what to put in your query letters. We'll go with the assumption you're sending it to agents (since most of us want to see our books published by big houses), so that's the default recipient I'll be using.

First and foremost (and this deserves its own line, because it is that important):


I shouldn't even have to tell you this, but you would be surprised how many people just don't do it. The bottom line here is that agents get hundreds of query letters every week. They're looking for an excuse to reject you and move on so they can get through them. If you can't even follow simple directions, you are not going to be easy to work with. Rejection.

Next: Never, ever, ever, ever, ever send the same query out to multiple agents at the same time. You want to make agents feel as though a) they're your dream agent (even if they're not) and b) you've done your research and tweaked your query letter just for them. They're not stupid. They know you're not writing a completely original letter for each agent. But they do want to know that there's a reason you picked them out of all the agents out there. And it had better be a good one too. Maybe you read his name on the acknowledgments page of a similar author. Maybe you looked him up on agentquery.com and saw he handled your kind of work. Whatever it is, put it in there. Let him know why you picked him. And please, please, please, don't address them as "Dear Agent".

Next: Always remember, the story is what they care the most about. That should be the main part of your query. The current trend is to actually start out with the story, screw introductions, and get to what I call the "nuts and bolts" of the query after that.

Next: Avoid anything cliched. Again, agents get hundreds of queries a week. Why should he want to read your stuff instead of the other stuff itching for his attention? You want to make your query stand out. And don't do this by using some kind of gimmick. Whatever you thought up is probably lame and has probably been done before anyhow. Be professional, but unique. (And whatever you do, don't write your query as your main character.)

Next: Keep it short and sweet. Get in, tell him what's going on, why you picked him, why he should pick you, and get out. That should be self-evident, but you don't know how many 2-page query letters I've seen.

And last (for now, at least): EDIT EDIT EDIT EDIT EDIT EDIT.
Just like your manuscript, you want to edit the shit out of this puppy. Get friends to critique it for you. If they're friends that have written successful queries, or friends in the business, even better.

That's all for now. I'm going to be posting examples of good queries and bad queries to show my points.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tuesday night/wednesday morning bonus post

Okay, so this has little to nothing to do with Query Week, but it's a really great idea anyhow. (As opposed to a very similar idea called NaNoWriMo, which I just couldn't get behind.)

I read about it on a great blog called Editorial Ass. (Check it out, writers.)
Here's the deal. National Write Your Ass Off Day! ...or is that weekend? Or week? For what it's worth, I will definitely be participating the next day The Wife has off, so I won't need to leave the house driving or anything and can concentrate solely on writing.

How about it, writers? Anyone want to write their asses off with me?
(For details, check out JEN's comments here.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Tale of Two Queries part 2

This will be the first post I put a disclaimer on.

Disclaimer: Do not, under any circumstances, take this story as sound "agent-getting" advice. It is not, and in most circumstances it will make sure that the agent in question never, ever works with you. And I'm not sure how in-touch these guys are with each other, but from what I've heard it's not uncommon for them to share stories. Don't get black-listed by trying something crazy like this.

Okay, now that that's out of the way, it's query week here at My Brain Hurts. Last post, I told the story of how my agent and I started working together. Which is a pretty out-of-the-ordinary story. If you think that's odd, though, wait until you see this next one. I cannot recommend following this man's example, but it worked for him and I'm happy for him. Here it is.

The Craziest Man On Earth - or - How One Lunatic Got Himself a Top Notch Agent

Greg (his name isn't really Greg, I've changed it to protect the innoc--er, guilty) was a writer. A very good writer. He had recently finished his second book (the first hiding safely in his drawer, where it will stay forever more) and decided he needed an agent to help him get it out there. And of course to make money in the process. A writer's gotta eat.

He bought the latest volume of Writer's Market, he joined all the websites, he even sent a query to the wonderful blog Ms. Janet Reid started called Query Shark to have it ripped apart so he could put it back together again.

Unfortunately, he was met with rejection. It was all very nice rejection, mostly personal, telling him it was really good, but just not right for the agent, and could Greg please send anything else he has when it is ready? Which was cool, but definitely not as cool as getting an agent would have been.

So Greg decided to step it up a notch. In the writing world, this next notch is known as "Conference-Mania." Greg took out his trusty Writer's Market and looked up every conference in his price-range (which wasn't very many, as Greg's "day job" consisted of cleaning up bathrooms at the local middle school). Luckily, one was coming up right in his city next week. What luck!

Greg attended the conference, five copies of his manuscript printed out and weighing down his messenger bag like he'd packed a cinder block for lunch. He also had 10 flash drives with the manuscript in it. He was GOING to get himself an agent today. No matter what.

So, after what he considered a very unsuccessful event (most of the agents had had similar reactions to the ones he queried, i.e. want to see other, different work by him) Greg was convinced no one could see the genius he had produced. (And after having read Greg's book, I agree - those guys were crazy not to scoop him up.) Greg then resigned himself to the hotel bar and proceeded to get drunker than he had ever been in his life.

Two hours into his bender, a very famous agent, one who had given a panel at the conference earlier (we'll call him Mr. Fancy Pants for the purposes of this story) walked into the bar, also drunk. Greg recognized him and, drunk as he was, decided he would let a little steam out on Mr. Fancy Pants.

"You suck, you know that? You suck so bad." Greg tells him. (This would be about the time I tell you not to follow in Greg's footsteps."

"Yeah. I know," says Mr. Fancy Pants. "My wife pretty much said the same thing not five minutes ago."

"Yeah, well, apparently I also suck."

"Well, since we both suck so much, why don't I buy my fellow sucker a drink?" Mr. Fancy Pants orders Greg another round of what he was drinking. (Which is triple shots of Jameson, if you're wondering. Greg has something of a drinking problem.)

The two of them get to talking, Greg tells Mr. Fancy Pants he heard him speak and maybe he didn't suck too badly.

"Hey, do you like hookers?" says Mr. Fancy Pants.

You can see where this is going. I won't give you the gory details; suffice to say that Greg and Mr. Fancy Pants spent the rest of the night looking for hookers and not finding them. They part company around dawn the next day as friends, saying they will get together and drink whenever Mr. Fancy Pants is in town.

The next monday, Greg gets a call. It's Mr. Fancy Pants.

"Hey, I assume it was no mistake you left your manuscript in my car. Well, I read it. Holy shit. Let's get this published."

And Greg had himself an agent.

See? There are happy endings even without hookers.