Friday, October 31, 2008

Too Much of a Good Thing Can Be Wonderful

Mae West had that right. But too much of mediocre things?

First off - I know how hard authors hustle to promote their books, and I know why they do it, but...

Today alone, I've seen 11 promos from a certain writer for her new novel. Granted, that's spread across six lists, but that means almost two posts per list just since 7AM today. Looking back three days, there are 33 promos from her for the same novel on the same lists. For the past week, that number jumps to well over 80. And it's the same damn message every time.

I am Sooooooo not ever reading that book.

BTW - my reading at Hustler Hollywood went great last night. It has a better space than I expected. Another big surprise - their coffee bar is really integrated into the community. People were out on the patio that overlooks Sunset Boulevard smoking a hookah and drinking their lattes, and other people were hanging out inside like it was Starbucks. (I didn't drink the coffee, so I can't vouch for the quality, but the scenery is certainly more interesting.) Down the street is the famous Whiskey A Go Go, and a little bit past that is the (infamous) Viper Room. Today will be the big festivities in West Hollywood, but I did see Dracula last night. He was parallel parking a Chevy Metro at a red curb. So know you know what the undead drive. And what those red curbs are for (reserved parking for vamps).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Practicing For A Reading

I have a reading at In The Flesh LA this Thursday at Hustler Hollywood, so if you're in town, please stop by.

Readings don't just happen. I mean, you usually have to hustle your butt off to get one, but sometimes they fall in your lap, like this one did. But that doesn't mean you just show up, crack open your book, and start reading. Oh no. This is a performance.

Even if you're reading from a specific story or novel, choose your passage wisely. With novels, the first chapter is a good idea, but you won't have time to read it all unless it's a very short opening chapter. The same is true of short stories. The story I'm reading Thursday was only 3500 words, but there was no way I can read the entire thing in fifteen minutes.

Or can I?

First thing I do to prepare for a reading is to read through the entire story to check how long it runs. My reading rate aloud is about 150 words a minute. Given 15 minutes, that's almost 2500 words. My choices are to leave the audience hanging somewhere mid-story or to cheat edit it down to bare bones. I chose to edit because I wanted to read the final page of the story to the audience. The theme Thursday is Fear, and the end is where the audience will make the connection to that.

After four tries, I pared the story down to 2300 words without sacrificing much. Read aloud, that's 13 minutes. The extra time gives me space for a short intro to the piece (Really short. Like one sentence. Amie Evans and Toni Amato would be proud that I learned so much from their reading seminar at Saints and Sinners) and time to pause for audience reaction. I learned that at the first reading I did. People laughed for a long time at passages that I thought were only a little funny. Maybe it's my delivery.

So now after reading through it four times, my voice is ready to give out, but I know I can do it in the allotted time. Tomorrow I'll practice it twice and then I won't read it again until I'm in front of the crowd. The last thing I'll do is print it out in bold, large font with a few stage directions. (Again, it's a performance. Nothing too dramatic, but movement is important. That deer in the headlights look is no good in front of a crowd.) Now if I could only figure out how to stop from blushing madly, I'd be set.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Beware, Vampie Dudes

Just in time for Halloween, we're trying out a new recipe here at the hovel that calls for 40 cloves of garlic. That's 3 heads, in case you're wondering. With half an hour left to go before G-Day, the place is starting to smell delicious, and definitely NOT vampire safe.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

A Million Ways To Avoid Work

Every writer I know is a champion procrastinator. I (humbly) include myself in this group.

It goes something like:

Sit down at computer with determination to finish rewrite of two scenes.

Check e-mails.

Go back to MS (manuscript)

Notice dishes in the sink.

Wash dishes.

Go back to computer.

Feed cat.

Go back to computer.

Sweep kitchen floor.

Go back to computer.

Swear up and down I'll only do one sudoku puzzle.

That one didn't count.

Either did that one.

Close down web browser and give self a stern lecture.

Give into temptation to answer an e-mail with a smart-assed quip.

Close e-mail.

Open MS.

Check clock.

How can it be 11AM already?

But as I promised Shawn I'd go through the edits on my YA novel by Sunday, I'm really serious about stopping this bad habit of procrastination and getting right to it.

...As soon as I finish this blog entry.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

I Have No One to Blame Except Myself

A couple weeks ago, I told a friend that I had something scheduled every weekend between now and the middle of December. Unfortunately, that wasn't stretching the truth.

For some reason, a bunch of anthologies I wanted to submit to had October 15th deadlines. As I struggled with stories for each of them, I realized I had to give up on most of them. One polished story going out is so much better than five half-assed ones. So I went with my strongest tale and grudgingly gave up on the others. I'm still not happy about it. Three more anthologies I'm interested in have mid-November deadlines. I hope to make all three, but I have a feeling it's going to come down to priorities again. (For the very dear fan who wrote and asked for more Ophir and Chris stories, I promise that the plan is to make one of these stories about them)

Last weekend was family. Big family party on Saturday, followed by a day at The Land (Disneyland) on Sunday. I'm the only non-Disney geek in the clan, so after twelve hours, I was ready to go. Luckily (this is the only time I'll say this about my job) I have to be at work 6:30 AM. That's a valid excuse to leave before the fireworks. Yay!

That should have been the end of that, but oh no.

In September, I joined the Erotica Readers and Writers association review staff. For November's entry, I had two companion books to read instead of the usual one. Then, of course, I have my ongoing commitment to Erotica Revealed. So that was three anthologies to read and then review. I sent off the last review last night.


October 30th, I have a reading at In The Flesh L.A. at the Hustler Hollywood store. If you're in town, please come. I have yet to start practicing for that reading. And yes, you have to practice for a reading. It's a performance after all. That means timing myself on several read throughs and smoothing out any sections that are tongue traps. If I don' t have time to do the whole story, I have to choose which part will have the most impact, or I have to condense it. Either way, it will take me at least three evenings to prep for it.

But wait, there's more. There's always more. And for this, I only have myself to blame.

My editor has been waiting patiently for a week to see my edits on a YA novel. That I'm starting tomorrow. (I promise Shawn, I really do.) Once I get stared, it usually goes fairly fast. I'm not the type to argue of most edits. However, I know I'm going to have to re-write one scene that includes a blow job. As a writer, my editor doesn't want to change the scene as written because it's a rather raw and honest, but we both understand the realities of the market and know it simply won't fly as written. It would seem easy enough to rewrite, but there are some heavy emotional buttons being pushed in that scene and I have to substitute the unacceptable part with something that's acceptable but that still has the same impact on the characters. I have an inkling of how I can get around this, but until I'm submerged back into it, I'm not sure if it will work. The sad thing about our society is that the casual brutality in the story is perfectly acceptable, but a blow job? Egads.

And then there's...

I agreed to be a judge for the EPPIES again this year. I did eight or ten books last year. This year I'm reading 15. I think I've found the upper limit on the number of books I can read in the given time period. Yes, I read the entire book. Every word. Just the same as when I do a review. That's a lot of words to absorb. But it makes me grateful for the differing styles of writers, and the way storytellers can, from the first sentence of their work, make something fresh. Plus I always end up judging categories I don't usually read much of, so I get exposed to some cool reads I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own.

Okay. So that gets me through mid-November. I think I'm working a soccer tournament the weekend after that, plus there's Thanksgiving, and a trip to Las Vegas at the beginning of December. Then I'm free and clear. Right? Please say right. Oh crap, I forgot about the edits on my other novel that are coming in December. *flips through calender* How far away is Saints and Sinners? I think I need some serious decompression time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Dust Bunny Cometh

Actually, it's my relatives who are descending on me next weekend.

My theory of house keeping has always been that if I didn't make the mess, I'm not the most qualified person to clean it up. Obviously, the person I live with doesn't feel the same way.

Once upon a time, I worked two jobs so that I could have a housekeeper once a week. When I started writing again, I gave up the weekend job and the housekeeper. We didn't fool ourselves into believing either one of us would take up the slack. The bathroom and kitchen were the focus of any real cleaning energy. Everything else got sporadic attention.

But now, as I said, the relatives are descending upon us. A glance around the hovel makes it clear we've been shirking our housekeeping. If I had any guts, I'd leave it as is and just ignore the horrified looks from my father who used to wake me at 7AM every Saturday morning with my marching orders for the day. Deep down, I'd be thrilled if he turned on his heel and refused to stay another second. But I'm gritting my teeth and playing nice, so by the time the relatives come over, the place will warrant a Sanitized For Your Protection sash across the doorway.
Aside from the teetering stack of smut next to my computer, there's also an aggressive dust bunny clinging to the underside of our fridge. Don't even get me started on the confused jumble that is our combined shoe collection. At about the fourth hour of cleaning today, we joked about renting an apartment down the street and pretending we'd moved. Six hours into a cleaning frenzy that's made the hovel actually look worse than it did before, the SO is taking a long deserved break. He's wistfully looking through the apartment ads. With only four days to go to R-Day though, I think the wiser choice would be to throw a circus tent over the hovel, claim we're being fumigated for termites, and take a suite at the marina Hilton. After all - they have a bar downstairs. And daily maid service.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

In The Flesh

I'll be reading at Hustler Hollywood October 30th at the In The Flesh L.A. reading series. The topic is Fear. While I'd read my Mr. Simmons story, it was deemed "too disturbing" by a horror magazine (a rejection I bear proudly, BTW), so I'm going to read Chill from Best Women's Erotica 2007, which is just as creepy and disturbing in it's own way. Toe tags and spooge. Come say hi if you're there.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

October Already

This month, I join the Erotica Readers and Writer's Association staff as a reviewer. I covered Leathermen: Gay Erotic Tales this month. Read my review here. ERWA is the best writer's community on the Internet, in any genre, and I was very flattered to be asked to do reviews for them.

I'm still with Erotica Revealed. I covered Madder Love for ER this month. Read it here.

And this is crossing pen name lines, but who reads this blog that doesn't know I'm also Jay Lygon? So I have two stories coming out at Torquere this month. I have a story in Toy Box: Everyday Items. (A Small Sphere of Influence) Think of all the kinky possibilities of everyday objects around your house. The one I used was a small red rubber ball, and I used it as a sex toy three different ways. You'll have to read it to find out how.

I also have a Halloween short coming out toward the end of the month for Torquere's annual Halloween Sip Blitz. Last year it was Vampires! In Space! (Feed) This year it's Pan and a faun seducing a human in the French Quarter (The Bewitching Hour), inspired by a go-go dancer I saw dancing on top of the bar at Oz a couple years ago.