Happy Hallowe’en, Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve, Harvest Fest

After a bout with stomach discomfort yesterday, I’m awake late and planning the havoc to wreak on the hordes of trick-or-treaters we’re going to have tonight. Already have the candy and toys sorted into the “stick your hand into the black void” bin. This should be fun!

The scariest thing I could dress as would be . . . a literary agent. But the kids wouldn’t get that. So I’m waffling between two choices that’ll make more sense to them.

Hope you get lots of candy. Remember, if no one sees you eat it, the calories don’t count!

Thursday Text-cerpt

It occurred to me that I’ve never posted any snippets from SONG FROM THE HEART here, and it might be that some of you would be curious about the thing, seeing as how I’ve blathered on about its entry into that contest deal. And seeing as how the pace is deliberately quicker than my usual style. So I’m putting the first few paragraphs here, under the cut.

Just for fun.

As always, comments are a good thing!
The Hideous Blather

a day for remembering

At 10 AM today, it will have been 33 years since my daddy crossed to the Other Side. He went suddenly. The last thing he said to my mother (when she came into the bedroom to wake him for work, where he had meetings starting at noon) was, “Is it that time already?” She said, “Yes.” I’ve always thought he was talking to the angel, not to her. And that her “yes” was somehow taken as permission to go.

We didn’t mean to give that permission, but oh well. Here we are in the year 2009 . . . that alone is mind-boggling to a child of the 1960s/1970s who thought we’d be living like the Jetsons by now. I hope that Daddy looks down now and then to marvel at what our semi-rural neighborhood has become, and at the technological advances that would have fascinated and engaged him, and at what we’re all doing now (just for fun). I think he’d love to visit again just to see what all has changed and how profoundly. He always liked that kind of thing (a professor, after all).

I’m up early and I’m going to take Mama out to the mall or somewhere so she won’t be thinking about this all day. We’ve lost touch with all my relatives on that side of the family (the last one we were in touch with went to assisted living and has apparently moved to another place without telling us . . . and Mama hadn’t been keeping up with the cousins . . . and I had been relying on her to keep up). It’s all rather sobering. Maybe we need to get drunk?

Anyway . . . today’s a day of remembering. And of trying not to remember.

Preparing for NaNo-NaNo 2009

I think I’m all set for National Novel Writing Month. I figure I’ll be scribblin’ anyway, so why not play? I won’t necessarily go crazy posting statistics and such, but I’ve got a new “play” book to work on.

I’m “ShalannaCollins” over there, if anyone else who’s playing wants to friend up. “Friend up!” What a hoot. I think they call it a “buddy list” there.

I’ve got a rudimentary outline. I do need to figure out a couple of things–such as, my character needs to betray a friend, but not in a “can’t undo” sort of way, and it has to be sort of accidental. Any suggestions? That’s a toughie to figure out. But if it were EASY . . . (chorusing) EVERYBODY’D be doing it. Oh, wait . . . they seem to be.

One good question for NaNo is: Why are you writing THIS book, instead of some other one?

This year’s inspirational how-to-write book is _Chapter After Chapter_ by Heather Sellers. It’s a cute purse-sized tome with short chapters that suggest exercises and so forth. It shares space with the _Save the Cat Goes to the Movies_ that I picked up earlier. I’ll use them to procrastinate–er, to get inspiration, of course!

I’ve started posting chapters again for SONG FROM THE HEART over on the *mumble* contest site, even though it’s only to make my readers happy. Then again, why are we doing this at all unless it’s to make readers happy? Only a couple more days until that one wraps up.

Try again, fail better. Or fail even worse. Spectacularly!

So someone else HAS noticed

“…[W]ith book publishing in free fall and everyone trying to figure out how to fix it, maybe some of the larger NY houses can stop acquiring flash-in-the-pan projects that will only clog up shelves in sad used bookstores that people who like reading avoid, where cheap people buy birthday gifts on the way to the party, sitting in their cars erasing the price written in pencil inside the book.”

I just love that blog.

And the school library with no books but with a great coffeehouse? At a prep school? Splendid! Or is that “splenda” . . . “splenkiferous” . . . does this coffeepot have a dickshunnaree. . . .

Inscribed over the stacks at the Library of Alexandria (tradition teaches us) was the phrase, “The place of the cure of the soul.”

They got the library at Alexandria. (The barbarians torched it. That’s why we don’t have far more of the Greek plays and other ancient writings.) They’re not getting mine.

I’m also watching with interest as the retail book biz seems to be imploding. Perhaps soon we’ll have a new paradigm to beat with sticks. Wonder what kind of conga drum it will make? Babalu!

Publicity is one thing–but this? Is it proper?

A friend who is also competing in The Contest Which Must Not Be Named clued me in on what’s happening on Twitter: some of the contestants are offering to donate a dollar for every vote that they get. What??

I am thinking that this teeters just on the brink of . . . well, if not unethical, then bribery or something. Shouldn’t people only give a vote of confidence (which is what voting thumbs-up over there means) if they really like the book and find it gripping, interesting, and readable? Should it really be something that you do in order to win a prize or have a donation made?

Here’s the link my friend shared:
http://twitter.com/#search?q=textnovel

It really floored me when I first heard. I knew that many authors were offering prizes on their blogs (to the tune of, if you vote for me and my friends, we’ll enter you in a drawing for a new Porsche, and the like), and I thought that might be a little iffy, but I chalked it up to my jealousy and envy. But THIS . . . is it really OK, and I’m just overreacting?

Maybe all’s fair in love and war. Maybe the rule is “whatever works, do it.”

Perhaps a charitable donation should be had at any cost. I don’t know. I just live here.

I suppose I ought to at LEAST mention on Twitter that I do have an entry up. I’ve pretty much given up all hope, though, because now I’d have to gain fifty or a hundred votes before Nov. 1 in order to place twentieth, and I simply don’t have the time to devote to begging people. It’s a carrot on a stick. If I actually had a book on the shelves, you can bet I would jump through hoops or pose nekkid on top of Reunion Tower’s golf ball, but hey, that would be for something concrete. This is a pie-in-the-sky thing, and I have a life to attend to. I don’t know where the other people find the time!

I mean, they are constantly changing their taglines on the contest site, as well. Here’s how I see the types of taglines that ask for votes:

Acceptable:
This is a Dorchester contest entry. If you liked it, especially if it made coffee spew out of your nose, please click on thumbs up and the cell phone icon!

Borderline:
The next 100 votes will be matched dollar for dollar in donations to [name of charity]

Facepalm:
If you vote for all of the novels on the following list and subscribe to all of them, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win prizes!

I swear all of these lines have appeared on the site recently. I am completely failing at attracting votes now that it’s forbidden to send messages to the other authors on the site to ask them to take a look and vote IF THEY LIKE MY STUFF. (A new rule went into effect a couple of weeks ago that prohibits this.) But we knew I was not one of the Popular Girls and that I find the Popular Stuff uninteresting, so it’s not a surprise. I think I’m out of the running for the contest. I still don’t believe that this means my novel is not as “good” (whatever that means) as their novels. I still don’t believe that they are more worthy of getting the contract than my book is. But I do believe in the tooth fairy, Santa, and doing the right thing just because! What a dreamer. “What a fool!” as Bokonon (among others) would say.

I guess I’ll revert to the old-fashioned way of submitting the manuscript to Dorchester through their normal channels as described in their guidelines . . . Venus (or a Venusian) struggling to rise out of the slush. What’s another year of wasted time waiting compared to the time I’m wasting typing all that out?