Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Conundrums, Quandries and Puzzles

There are rules for everything; driving, eating, behaving, even blogging.  Writer's Digest featured an article about blogging and one of the tips they gave is that if you're a writer, you blog about writing. Seems straightforward enough. I'm a writer, I can do that.

When Sirenz was pubbed, we were advised by our editor and others in the business to have a blog. We did, Okay, things were going well.

Then we were told not to harp on our book or just writing because we could alienate people who may like to read, but don't want to hear about writing.

So now what do I do? Listen the the bible of writing, which has given me so much wonderful, applicable and honest advice, or listen to people in the publishing world, in contact with literally, thousands.

What a conundrum.

I think the answer is... both. Because life is never black and white (unless it's one of those half black, half white cookies).  When I have a topic on writing, I'll post on that. Sorry friends who aren't interested in writing, the publishing world, and all things related, but I am a writer after all. It's my passion, my driving force. If you know me, you know this (because I bore you talking about books, writing, my projects). This will make Writer's Digest happy that I've read and used their advice.

But even I run out of 'writerly' stuff. Or get bored with it. Or have a rant (I've done several of those) that I need to get out. This occasional little digression keeps things lively, placates those who don't want anything to do with writing, or entertains the casual peruser. Those who don't know me will get to know me a little better through these types of posts. Anyone who is acquainted with me will snort and say yeah, typical Charlotte.

So, you won't always see writing tidbits, or whining complaints, or amusing musings. Blogging, like life, has rules and sometimes those rules don't fit. Don't speed is a rule- but when you're ready to have that baby, cops will overlook and even assist you in speeding. You should wait half an hour after eating before swimming- experts now say that isn't necessary. Never use incomplete sentences. Huh. See? Three rules amended, thrown out, or ignored.

So quandry solved. Rules aren't absolute. Let's hope the police officer buys that if I get pulled over.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I'm Not Laughing

On the news today: murder plot on FaceBook by 19 year old single mom, rapper murdered and body torched in New Jersey, Democrats and Republicans continue name calling, U.S. economy sinking further into debt... and that's just in America, out in the world it's even WORSE. This is a perfect time for a little humor to lighten our depressed moods, help us see that life can be good, and to re-energize us for the work to be done.

But too many people don't take humor seriously.

The world is obsessed with End of The World (dystopian)  and worst case "What If..." scenarios like massive hunger, plague, apocalypses, zombies. And then we (and I have my moments too) get caught up in books and movies about lost love, losing love, dying love, bad love, not enough love. It seems we are determined to wallow in despair.

What's wrong with a good laugh? I'll admit sales for our book Sirenz are a little slow and that's part of what prompted this post. Another nudge was a really vicious, uncalled for and way too personal review by someone who seems to have a vested interested in eviscerating us from afar and from behind. Whoa! I understand humor is subjective and not everyone's going to find Sirenz funny. Heck, I can sit through David Letterman, Conan, and a lot of other comedian routines and not even crack a smile. Don't remember if I ever thought the Three Stooges were funny. A lot of cartoons I shake my head at and wonder how my 11 year old can giggle but that may have to do with age more than anything (Drake & Josh and iCarly are funny so I can relate somewhat.). People who write, paint, sing, act or put creative works out there realize that we are going to have our critics (sniff!) but that's okay, we're playing to the audience who will love us.

If you look at humorous authors like Libba Bray, Meg Cabot, Allie Carter, Sarah Mlynowski, John Greene (Disclaimer: I haven't read all their works) reviewers say how funny and enjoyable the reads were (we got lots of 'I thought this was so funny!' reviews and Katelyn at [I think that's how to tag it] said she'd like to invite Nat and me to an 'Author Block Party' because we're goofballs)  but then they gush over the fearful, wrenching, scary, depressing books more. Even the American Library Association, which rates the top books for young adults (YA for those not in the pub business) doesn't have a separate category for humor. They have adventure, forbidden romance, geek and bullying but no humor? Geez, I'd think since the world is in such a freaking mess and not likely to get any better in the foreseeable future that they would have a comedic designation as a public mental health service.

Let me ask: when you get together with your friends and family, do you sit around and get depressed? (Well, maybe, but that's not the intent.) Don't you invite the neighbors over for a cold one and laugh over stupid stuff someone's doing? (If you have lousy neighbors I guess not, but you have friends, right?.) Do you meet up with Phi Mu sorority sisters to contemplate the downfall of society? (It'll happen eventually, history has proven this, stop thinking about it.) Would you go to a bar, restaurant, water park, or show looking to be reflective and moody? (If so, you may have deeper problems than you realize.) No-you go to have FUN.

Someone once said (okay, it was my aunt) that I should have been a stand up comedian. I can't imagine trying to be funny every night for years, it's hard enough doing it for 280 pages. And that's the point- comedy is hard work; can YOU be consistently funny? Nat and I try our schtick on each other (but really, she's a pushover) and then refine, rework, remove or rethink the humor of the Sirenz books. It would be way easier to wax morosely on a serious subject. So don't dismiss humor as 'fluff', not literary and worst of all, NOT WORTHY. (I mean seriously, a lot of the Nobel Prizes are soooo full of despair, angst, pain and suffering I don't know how the writers aren't on anti-depressants or maybe they are...).

Enjoy a fun read. Check out these authors. Give humor writers the love and attention you give other writers. If you help Nat and I become bestselling authors, I promise we will do three things for comedy writers: create an award of some type to bring needed attention to the genre, talk up debut authors struggling to make it, and keep writing our funny stuff. The fate of humor in America may just be sitting on your shoulders (not that I'm trying to pressure you or anything.)

And for goodness sake, lighten up!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Now You've Made Me Angry...

Somethings just make me sooooo angry. I have a list. (Doesn't everyone?)
Why do kids in high school (they should know better) NOT defend the kid that's picked on? I mean really, so you stand up for someone and the 'popular' crowd might turn their back on you. So? Is it really such a loss? People who bully are contemptible and I don't care WHO they are. Yes, I was NOT a member of the popular crowd. Once you get out of high school, who cares about them? Forge your own way.

Next on my list: drivers who are jerks. I think we can all relate. If you get to your destination 4 seconds sooner, having run someone off the road, or scared 10 years off the life of a mother driving her kids, is that a win? Yes, it's a win in the "A-hole" category for you. Karma will NOT be kind to you, so remember that next time you drive.

Words as weapons. We all criticize, and I must admit, I'm not the most ahem, gentle of critics. But I don't go for the jugular. Some people will stop at nothing more than total destruction of a person's character. I am grown up enough to realize not everyone will like my book Sirenz (written with best gal pal Natalie Zaman- have to give her credit too!), or my own works, whether articles, books, editorials, blogs, yada. Or me personally. Hey, I don't like everyone I meet either. But I don't shove in the knife and twist. I believe in 'Turn the other cheek' AND 'Karma's gonna catch up with you.' If you have to be that nasty, I really feel sorry for you; you must be one miserable person.

Laziness/Incompetence. Ah, the lazy days of summer. It's a phrase about relaxing, taking a break. It does not mean not doing your job, then giving people grief because you couldn't care less about the job or others. I've worked at McDonald's, Burger King, prestigious law firms, restaurants, business offices, newspapers. I tried to give it my best. Sometimes it wasn't a good fit for one or both of us. But no one can accuse me of not trying or not caring. It's not the job- it's the person in the job that determines success.

Abusive people. I think it's almost a universal given that people who harm children, innocent people, animals and the environment are a waste of cytoplasm. No excuses can justify it.

Bad grammar. I mean, I know I'm an uptight English fanatic, but everyone should know the difference between affect (verb) and effect (noun). The same with how to make plurals and possessives (it's means it is, its mean it possesses. Spelling- people, there's Spellcheck. It's there for a reason. Please don't ignore it. Our school system bypassed grammar & spelling for a number of years in favor of some stupid 'whole language' program (I'm being critical here), and we have scores of kids who write so poorly, I'm spending THOUSANDS of dollars on private tutoring to help my son score well on the SAT's and be a better writer. I tolerate bad spelling from Nat a) because we're partners and she picks up my mistakes b) I don't know if she can help herself c) gives me something to gloat over and d) I'm saving (hopefully) millions of readers English angst when they read her/our stuff.

Air conditioning. Really. Hubby cranks it so high I NEED A BLANKET IN A HEAT WAVE. Hate it, hate it, hate it. I'm one of those people who revel in 85+ degree weather. Humidity? Oh stop complaining, it's good for the skin. Bunch of babies. Rather have this weather than freeze my freckles off in winter. I am so moving to St. Thomas when I'm rich. You can keep your cold, damp weather. I'll come back for Christmas snow, then see ya in the spring.

Over-done technology. Do we really need so much junk on our phones? Twitter? Facebook? Apps? I'm drowning in trying to keep up with all this stuff. By the time I learn it, it's old. Gone. Useless. And the changes aren't for the better; Twitter 'unfollows' people I want to follow. Facebook gives out personal info I haven't authorized. Vista (enough said). Takes me so long to get to contacts on my phone because I have to go through so much junk! I miss my Razor phone... My brain is burning out. All I want to do is type some stuff on the social media, and write books. I do not want an advanced degree in computers, social networking, Java, Microsoft, Droid...

Spam. I do not want to hear about Male/Female/Asian/Over 50/Black/etc. singles. One husband is enough, thank you. And I would not trust anyone I do not know to fix me up anyway. And I do not want insurance, cars, vacations, psychic readings, info about Viagra lawsuits, or ANY of that stuff in my spam folder. Go Away.

Continuing on the technology theme, I do not want to authorize strangers from any company, utility, store, credit company, mortgage/bank company to take money from my account. We've had our credit card 'compromised' three times, and our bank account once. (Luckily it all worked out, no losses.) I would rather write the check, even though I have to drop the mail in the post office to prevent mail thefts. (Yeah, that's happened too.) Stop asking me to sign up for direct payment. And STOP with the junk mail in the bills! (See spam above.)

I feel better knowing that I've shared with you, friends and strangers, what makes me angry. It may help you navigate our friendship or meeting to avoid these things. Although this is only a partial list, I've spent all my angst and feel too chipper/relieved to continue. (And there are more. I don't want to scare you or temperance forbids me to rant & rave overmuch.)

So have a pleasant day without any of the above mentioned anger-inducing scenarios, and talk to ya later!