Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Scribblerati

The name has been chosen! Our identity is firm! Our designation is now permanent.

Once upon a time, we were known far and wide by the name: The Sparkleball Death Bunnies. Eventually, this frivolity displeased us, so then we switched to: These Precedes Knees. That name never quite caught on. After that, we lit upon more of a catch-all description: A Group Of Writers Who Want To Write Good And Get Published And Do Other Things Good As Well... or AGOWWWTWGAGPADOTGAW for short, but honestly, we found that nom de plume a tad unwieldy. We briefly considered Gonorrhea, but, due to society's apparently overwhelmingly bad associations, that name was tossed aside. I then lobbied the group for Council of Werewolves, but failed to convince them of its obvious and inherent awesomeness. In the end, we settled, somewhat uneasily I think, upon: The Scribblers. But somehow... it just wasn't right...

Now those days are done. The dark days are over and we emerge renewed, refreshed, and newly christened as a group. Our name has been chosen and a site has been picked. From hence forth and from now on, you may call us:

THE SCRIBBLERATI

And you may find us here

Friday, September 25, 2009

Plans

So yeah, I know I've already covered this a little bit when I told you all that my plan to pass the time during this damnable, seemingly interminable query process is, of course, to get back into the daily writing grind... starting Saturday... evening... most likely... hurrrm...

Anyway, a side question not nearly asked enough of me (never, so far) would be: Am I planning on doing anything else beside re-start my writing, watch and discuss Fringe, and also possibly watch Observe and Report because Anna Faris is hilarious?

The answer?

Yes! Yes, I am going to do something else! I am going to watch some Movies at a Movie Theatre!

YAY! MOVIES!

Yes, my plan is to take some time this coming week, and possibly Little Ms. Super-cute Fiancee, and go catch up on some of the films I have missed. So, in anticipation of this plan, I thought I'd provide you, my Gentle and Constant Readers, with the list of what I intend to see.

It's actually a pretty short list.

Ah, Fall movie time, not nearly as crappy as January... but close...

1. 9

This is a good illustration of how far behind I am. Long time readers will attest to the fact that I have been fairly excited about this movie. However, due to my busy schedule and general laziness, I have yet to make it. That's gonna change, folks, because despite some lukewarm reviews, I intend on hitting up this little flick sooner, rather than later. I'll let you know what I think.

2. Jennifer's Body

Another anticipated film, and one that was swamped right out of the gate with, what could only be refered to as, tepid at best reviews. However, and admittedly I haven't seen the film yet, the tone of most of those reviews seemed, to me, to be more mired in Diablo Cody hate and general misogyny then the film itself, which is gross.

Myself, I love Diablo Cody, I think she's great. Honestly, I don't understand what exactly it is that trips people up. Some of the catch-phrasey sayings? Okay, "honest to blog" sucks, but is it any worse than "You're fired" repeated ad nauseum? No. No, it is not. I mean, sure, sometimes she gets a little overly enamored with her own witty verbiage, but who am I to begrudge her that? There's a strange little side thing I've noticed and that is that most of these same people don't seem to fault Tarantino for having the same basic failings and for being less apologetic about it. Hmmm... strange...

So, no, in the end, I think that is just an excuse. I think there's just something about Diablo Cody that rubs some folks the wrong way. And you know what? That? That, I can get. I don't agree with it, but I can at least understand it.

What's weird is that most of the people who bag on Cody for her supposed "Diablo-speak" are obviously lying. They're lying and they flat out refuse to admit what is obviously going on, that the real problem is hidden due to a fear of being accused of being small minded. You see, the real problem is that these people just don't like the woman, they don't like her personality, they don't like her lack of shame for having once been a stripper, and they really don't like the fact that she managed to gain fame and unabashed celebrity off of it. This is all stuff that, in my opinion, should have no impact on her end product. After all, the proof is in the pudding. Juno was good. And yet... I bet we all know an idiot or two who claimed it's only because they found Juno to be "unrealistic."

"Uh, kids don't sound like that."

Fuck off, you stupid douche bag.

A. Yes, some of them do. And regardless, and most importantly, the characters do. The film's world they inhabit establishes that fact early, firmly, and consistently. B. Teen does not equate stupid. C. This is Diablo's voice, either accept it or fuck right off. And finally, D. Accuracy? Accuracy? What the hell does that mean? Jennifer's Body is the story of a girl, who gets sacrificed to Satan by an evil Emo band (is there another kind?), who then comes back and seduces boys so that she can eat them, meanwhile her best friend/enemy has to stop her... and you found it... an "inaccurate" portrayal of teen life, did you?

Like those wads who call SLC Punk inaccurate... What are you saying: That it was an inaccurate portrayal of poser punk rockers in Salt Lake City in 1984...? Or that the poser label hit a little too close to home... hmmm? But I digress... anyway, I plan on going to Jennifer's Body.




Hello, ladies!

3. The Informant!

I've begun to suspect that Soderberg has been making the same basic movie for years now and this film will either make or break that theory. I'm hoping for break. I mean, Out of Sight is a fun film, but I thought it was better the first time I saw it. I like Matt Damon, though. He's always been pretty alright, but ever since he made fun of Sarah Palin, I've been a big-time Damon fan, so I'll usually check out what he appears in.

Apparently, I'm not alone in that either. Did you know Matt Damon has the biggest return per dollar spent on him by the studios? I read a number break down awhile back and it put him at number 1 over all the big names. Basically, for every dollar the studios spend on him, he returns, like, thirty. The studios must love him.

So yeah, MOVIES!

Tell your friends.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Updates in the wake of Q Day

I got my first rejection for Gunslingers of the Apocalypse today.

It was a very quick turn-around and a bit of a sad moment for me, but mostly it was a little anti-climatic and unremarkable... much like Q Day itself was. After three years both of these long awaited events turned out to be more Pop than Bang, you know?

Anyway, the rejection itself was just your standard run-of-the-mill form rejection e-mail, a single paragrapgh quickly churned out and amounting to little more than "Sorry, Charlie, over and out," so there isn't much going on there for me to mine any kind of funny anecdotal type stuff out of. It does contain a line apologizing for the impersonal nature of the form letter and assures me that they did actually read my Query letter, which was nice. I have consoled myself with the belief that this particular Query was rejected only because the Agent in question didn't allow themselves the opportunity to be dazzled by my story, since they only request a Query Letter initially. Oh well, I'm sure this is but the first of many small bumps on the road to publication. In the end, there's nothing to be done about it, except move on. So, since I have decided to have five out at a time, I immediately sent out a new Query to take that ones place and continue to maintain faith in the Agents still to respond. Bright side, folks, bright side.

So there's that...

Looking forward! This weekend I intend to return to work on Bastard out of Minnesota, which will most likely be limited, at first, to just re-reading and re-acquainting myself with what has already been done up to this point. I'm kind of excited at how fresh my eyes might be. Who knows what could grow out of that situation. Plus, it'll be nice to roll up my sleeves, flex my fingers, and get back into the down and dirty everyday business of actually writing. It's been too long and I am ready to go.

Besides, Lord knows, I could use the distraction, something to keep me from compulsively checking and re-checking my e-mail every hour or so (or five minutes), both praying for a response and dreading one at the same time.

Ugh...

Also, I need to get in contact with artist, blog follower, and documented baby-maker, your friend and mine, Marshal Banana. Did I tell you folks about this? No? Yes? ANSWER ME! Ahem... anyway, all's quiet on the Conspiracy front of late, however, rather than lament the passing of possible creative projects, Mr. Banana and I have decided to start practicing this comic book thing together. He has some slapped together scripts of mine and, the last time I talked with him, was busy scribbling away at them. We planned on getting together and commencing with the chatting and the looking and the la-dee-dah-ing once I finally began to get my queries off, so now that I've done that, I'll need to start setting this stuff in motion.

And finally...

Fringe

I'm just about caught up on the episodes that I had pretty much already caught (the first five) and tomorrow, I will be moving into uncharted territory. As a result, my impression at this point is generally still the same. It's a "good" show that teeters on the edge of maybe being "great." The ideas are cool and intriguing, the cast is pretty good at their jobs, even though the lead actress, Anna Torv, sometimes looks like a Gelfling. The overall chemistry really works well and there's definitely no complaint when it comes to Production Values. Now, admittedly, sometimes I'm not that big a big fan of some of the storyline execution, but all in all, knowing what I do and having re-visited the show's beginning, right now, I'm going to have to go ahead and give the show a thumbs up.

Is anyone else attempting this with me? Do I need to talk about the specific story points yet? Go episode by episode? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Q Day

5 Queries sent.

And now we wait...

Friday, September 18, 2009

I intend to watch Fringe...


Just a little FYI for all of you out there, in case you think you might want to join me.

A little backstory to 'splain:

Fringe is a show created by a list of people, who's products I generally do not enjoy, who are responsible for the TV show Alias (stupid) and movies Cloverfield (really stupid) and the latest Star Trek (thumbs up), and the show's somewhat broad and a bit unfair elevator-pitch is: X-files meets the Twilight Zone with a splash of comic books.

So, when Fringe's first season played last year, I was excited by the concept, intrigued by some of the rumors, and apathetic for reasons that, if you know me and those references above, should be patently obvious. I watched the first... lets say five episodes, but I'm really bad about catching things on TV regularly these days, unless they play alot, like say Cops or Jail or those day-time Judge shows, so eventually, I missed a few episodes and then... well... it's supposed to be a continuity based show and I really hate missing parts of the story, so I just quit watching.

Also, while I did generally like what I saw, which was basically some good, weird sci-fi, that was backed by some very slickly produced, but not overly flashy action and FX, and populated with a couple of good characters and concepts, I was still more than a little concerned by the small, but very detectable odor of a possible X-files type of storytelling going on. This specific show type is, of course, the classic: All questions, no answers... forever and ever. Kind of like the way they started out with Lost. All tricks and sleight of hand, no substance. All show, no go, you know?

Anyway, I definitely didn't want any part of that. Also, there's only so many Monster-of-the-week episodes I can take in a row before I walk away. I like the long continuity, you see. That's why I show up. I like having to pay attention to stuff and remember it for later. That's what I like. It's what interests me. That's why I never watch Law and Order or CSI: wherever. I like the big, involved story and the slow character development over time. I like the Novel, not the short story, and in those first few episodes, Fringe seemed like it could go either way. So, I've been waiting.

Finally, the DVD set was just recently released and I read this among the various bits of press out there: Beware Spoilers

And now... well... now I am suddenly very interested.

The reason I'm telling you all this, as I stated above, is because I intend to watch the DVD set and then come here and talk about the show. This is my plan. If you want to join in... get to watchin'.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Red Zone

"It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you're in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't." - Josh Olson, screenwriter, History of Violence, in the Village Voice, Wednesday 9/9/09

I realized yesterday that I hadn't actually blogged anything at all, so far, for the entire month of September and being that it is now the month's half-way point, well... I felt a little guilty. I mean, that's not fair of me, right? It's not fair of me to force you, my legions of devoted followers and number one super-fans, of the one thing you love most above all else, is it?

No. No, it is not.

So, here I am, blogging without course or rudder, and all for you, my gentle and constant readers. Where will this blog lead us? I don't know. However, I'm sure you can't help but wonder: "What the hell does that quote got to do with you not blogging, Jon?"

The short answer: Nothing.

The long answer: Noooooooooooooooothing.

(Ha! See what I did there? Ah... comedy...)

Anyway, for serious now, the real answer, honestly, is that I pasted it up there, got distracted and had to go do some stuff, then I came back and started typing and promptly forgot to mention it. And at this point, well, I'm rambling a bit and I'm well into it and I can' be bothered erasing it all and starting over, SOOOOOOO... I'm circling back. Slowly. I'll get there again eventually...

UPDATES!

I am knee deep in a very busy time right now, cats and kittens, slogging through the morass toward my goal, which is one part of the reason for my extreme lack of blogging of late. Long time readers will also know, of course, that the other part is due to an overwhelming sense of general laziness on my part. (General Laziness... salute.) But mainly, it is my main focus at the moment, people, my priority Numero Uno, if you will, that is keeping me from spending time with you here. I got a new game going on and the name of that game is Queries.

Yes, it is true, finally, the long and winding road has begun to wind down and, as a result, Q-Day is in the Final Countdown. I'm talking single digit territory here, folks. This is an undiscovered country, one I have never even set eyes on before, let alone foot, so as I'm moving forward, it is with extra caution and care. I am checking and double checking, arranging and rearranging, preparing and re-preparing, and, as a result, anything that can be set aside for the moment, has been... momentarily.

I shall return to the daily grind soon, of course, but for the immediate future, I intend to finish my Query Letter on my end tonight, and then have a last perusal done from a separate pair of eyes or two. And while I'm waiting for that to boom-a-rang on back, I will busy myself with hammering my synopsis back into fighting shape. This is not a chore I am looking forward to, but it is a necessary one. Once those are done, and with my sample chapters completed, my intent is, baring any unforeseen difficulties, that I will be sending the first batch of queries off sometime late Sunday night/early Monday morning and then it begins... and after that...

Well, we'll just see, won't we?

Yes. Yes, we will.

So where does that quote come in then? Well, besides linking to a pretty funny article about an awkward situation, something that even us unpublished writers encounter now and again, and the hilarious amount of Internet slap-fighting that takes place in the comments section that you can peruse for your reading enjoyment, (Can you spot the ones where the truth might have hurt a bit? I bet you can...) I find the quote to be completely and unequivocally 100% right.

Now, on that article's comment section and on a myriad of other writing blogs and forums out there, you'll find some folks, usually people who are bad writers, bad story-tellers, or both, and also, often smell like pee (I assume)
, claiming: "You need to read X amount in order to understand what I'm doing!"

And that is just complete bullshit. It is. It's bullshit. It's complete bullshit and if you disagree, then you too, are bullshit. Here is why...

A. First off, I think the majority of these people are getting Good writing/story-telling mistaken for the general definition of plot. You may need to read a bit in order to figure out a story's plot, true, but I can still tell in the first sentence whether or not you write like a slope-foreheaded, mouth-breather.

And B. A boring first chapter is a boring first chapter, just admit it. If everybody keeps telling you that they're struggling with it, accept it. Rewrite it. Trash it. Write something else. Many people claim to adhere to the old adage of "kill your darlings," but in actuality, the majority of them are lying, flat out lying, and believe their first draft to be sacrosanct. They're bullshit. These are the people that make the classes so tedious, the ones who don't actually want a critique, they want a hug. F U, you effer. If you can't tell this oh-so-needed and all-important information in a way that is somewhat exciting or at least spread out in a way that doesn't bore your reader to tears, then either your story sucks or you do, choose.

I mean, your first page doesn't have to be the literary equivalent of boobs and explosions and car chases soaked in 100% pure adrenaline, but it does have to be interesting. I don't understand why these hacks think they can even fight this... with the sheer number of wanna-bes out there today, their submissions stacked in teetering columns on Agents' and Editors' desks the world over, one page is all you get. One page. It is down to you, and only you, to make them want to read on and if you think you need 15 pages to get going, for people to understand, then guess what? You are a black hole of unpublished suck.

I ranted a little bit there, but in a nutshell: One page. Accept it. Prepare for it.

And I've tried. I've really, really tried.

But...

But... Also, riding shotgun with all of this, swirling around and around in my head, is that little nagging voice... the one that reminds me: I'm about to send it out. I'm about to enter the game. Time to put up or shut up. And that... that is intimidating. What if I suck? I hope I don't suck. I don't think I suck, but what if...? What if I suck...

There's nothing to be done about it now, of course, like Joe Cabot said: "Only one thing to do in that situation... shit your pants, jump in, and swim." But still... I stand on this precipice and I look down upon a storm tossed sea of hopefuls, their dreams dashed against the rocks... and it is intimidating.

Single digits, people. Single digits.

Fingers crossed.

I'm about to jump.