Sunday, November 30, 2008

It is done!

Dear Bratty friends,

The deed is done.

While Ken was making turkey meatballs in the kitchen, I uploaded and verified my 50,850 words of total crap on the NaNoWriMo site and won NaNoWriMo '08. Here's my cool badge:

Isn't that just swank?



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How's your NaNo going?

Dear Bratty Friends,

It is now the 25th of November and I have just 5- count 'em - 5 more days left to reach 50,000 words to complete 2008 NaNoWriMo. Will I make it? I say yes, but not with one entire novel intact.

So far, I have 30,111 words but not all of them relate well to each other. I think I have starts and fits of three different story ideas in there. The first one I managed to write about 31 pages worth before I realized a serious plot defect while standing in the shower. Not all epiphanies are spiritual ...

Then, I gave it a twist and another go for about 8 pages before plot conundrums snuck up on me again. Why is it so damn difficult to get characters to meet, collide, and do all those others things they need to do? Why can't compelling and logical reasons for them to do so - thus helping to further the plot along - just jump out at you instead of seeming so trite and silly and backwards when you try to write them?


Now I've got another 12 pages written of a paranormal romance that I vowed I'd never write, complete with superhuman characters - no, not vampires! - and a Byronic hero. Why oh why does this all seem so much simpler somehow? I wish it didn't.

But I still must soldier on.


Monday, November 10, 2008

Review: Exile by Denise Mina

Dear Bratty friends,

Am I the only person on Earth who found it impossible to read this book? Or maybe others did as well but are just too afraid to say so for fear of looking uncool? I have no way to know for sure. I only know that I couldn't, I just couldn't make it through this book. I tried, I really did!

I happened to pick up Exile at the library and took it home without realizing it was the 2nd in a series (more about 2nd books later), a mistake I appear to make quite often. Heck, I even buy books out of order. But you would think, wouldn't you, that the author would be kind enough to clue you in - somewhere - about the characters and their basic information. Sheesh! Not Denise Mina. I had to sneak peek ahead to Chapter 21 to find out that she's only 24 and her boyfriend, Vik is black. You think she would have included that very important information in previous chapter, just to orient the poor reader, wouldn't you? Anyways, at that point, I just chucked the book across the room and gave up. Why? For one, because it just didn't ring true to me at all. The main character, Maureen, acts, thinks, and talks like she's a depressed 40-something woman, not a 24 year old. The dialogue honestly, just didn't seem like anything a 24 year old would say, and her demeanor, well, it was pretty depressed for a person with such a short life behind her.

And speaking of depressing, that book is terribly depressing. All the characters are depressed, they smoke a lot, they drink non-stop, they do drugs, etc. Can any of them stop taking themselves so seriously? I guess not.

In addition, I found the plot so pushed to the back of the book and the character's personal problems so in-your-face that there basically was no plot. Ergo, there was no real reason for the book!

Lastly the "style" of the writer left me confused, under-impressed, and cold. What is up with that? Why would anyone read a book where one of the clever tricks the writer uses is to start a chapter and wait till you are a couple of pages into it before you find out which character is talking? I guess it's arty to some. Not to me!

Here, if anyone is interested, is my review of the book's so-called plot.....

Chapter One
Maureen gets out of bed and smokes a fag. She gets a letter from Angus and feels depressed.
Chapter Two
A man named David finds Ann's body at the river.
Chapter Three
Maureen has a run-in with her mother Winnie. They talk about Michael and how unhappy she is about what he did to her. She muses about Douglas' death and the 15k lbs he gave her.
Chapter Four
Maureen obsesses about the run-in with Winnie and Douglas' face. She goes to her social work job and she hates it. She hates the office, the people, her clients, etc. She smokes some more. She sees Leslie and they talk about Ann's disappearance.

*About here, I'm wondering: Uh, what about the body?

Chapter Five
Maureen and Leslie look at pictures of Anna and smoke. Maureen and Leslie go out to eat but Maureen secretly wants to be alone with her bottle of whiskey and the t.v. It rains. Maureen considers letting herself fall off the bike.
Chapter Six
Maureen recalls how she and Leslie met at a wedding and how she's changed since she got the boyfriend named Cammy. Maureen remembers her nervous breakdown. She thinks about her brother Liam. She worried her friendship with Leslie was dying.

*About here, I'm wondering: Uh, what about the body?

Chapter Seven
Maureen and Leslie go out to eat and Leslie sends Maureen off to go see Jimmy.
Chapter Eight
Maureen goes to see Jimmy and finds him living in squalid conditions. He's depressed and she's depressed she makes him tea and they talk about Ann. Maureen feels guilty that she has money and Jimmy doesn't, and has kids to raise.
Chapter Nine
Back at the restaurant Maureen and Leslie fight and they get kicked out by the barman. Maureen walks home and feels lonely - but puts money into Jimmy's letterbox (unseen).

*About here, I'm wondering: Uh, what about the body?

Chapter Ten
Maureen had nightmares about her father. The police come to harass her and she throws them out. Her mother leaves a snippy message on her answering machine. Maureen wants to get drunk and stay drunk.

Okay. That's about it. I kind of quit reading after that because I was looking through the book to find where the plot went. Where did it go? I never did figure that out. Honest.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Call for Erotic short stories and novels!

Ravenous Romance, a new online ebook and audiobook publisher of erotic romance, is acquiring 365 novels and 365 short stories per year, in all categories. We are looking for great writing and compelling stories from both previously-published and new writers. We’ve signed novels from many award-winning writers and their protegees, and have aggressive plans to market their work online as well as sell print and translation rights. Our novels are 50,000-60,000 words, and our short stories are 1,500-5,000 words. Visit <> to download our submission guidelines.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Orwell's "Why I write" 1946

Dear Bratty friends,

On this, the third full day of NaNoWriMo, I am reminded of George Orwell's essay from 1946 title, "Why I write." It was published in Volume 1 of the Collected Essays, Journalism, and Letters of George Orwell published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, NewYork in 1968, and edited by Sonia Orwell and Ian Angus. Here's the quote:

"Putting aside the need to earn a living, I think there are four great motives for writing, at any rate for writing prose. They exist in different degrees in every writer, and in any one writer the proportions will vary from time to time, according to the atmosphere in which he is living. They are:

1. Sheer egoism: Desire to seem clever, to be talked about, to be remembered after death, to get our own back on grown-ups who snubbed you in childhood, etc etc. It is humbug to pretend that this is not a motive, and a strong one. Writers share this characteristic with scientists, artists, politicians, lawyers, soldiers, successful businessmen - in short, with the whole top crust of humanity.... Serious writers, I should say, are on the whole more vain and self-centered than journalists, though less interested in money."

Orwell goes on to list "Aesthetic enthusiasm," "Historical impulse," and "Political purpose," as the other three motives for writers, although in the last paragraph of the essay he again touches on ego:

"All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives there lies a mystery. Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."

And that, folks, is what this mysterious thing called writing is all about! (In case you wondered).