Monday, January 28, 2008

How Long Has This Been Going On?

Mood: Quiet
Category: You and Writing

Currently on my IPOD:
I Am Not My Hair: India Arie (Girlfriends....go listen to this song right now. It is my theme song for life.)

Quote of the Week:

"So complex is the human spirit that it can itself scarce discern the deep springs which impel it to action."

The White Company

~Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Dear Friends, Kids, Fans and Space Aliens,

First off, I have to apologize for not posting in a few days. Well, I should have posted on Tuesday as was my intent, but now it is Monday and I am tardy. I am usually tardy. But that's okay, I have lived with myself this long, so why not continue to be me. And then I ask, how long has this been going on? This. I'm talking about the me that I am talking about now. Between health, failing health, kids, life, and now to add to the mix my writing, I have to ask that question. This weekend rounds the two and a half year mark of when I started writing. It feels like much longer...

Just like with many good things, it always feels as though you have been doing it all your life.

So,I have to reflect on how I got here. Hmmm, out of boredom? Nope. I have to say that I am one of those people who like to go people watching. I need an Audubon Society Field Guide to Western Region Human Beings... Maybe that should be my next book...I got here for a number of reasons, but it all stemmed from one desire. To get it all down. I was reading a book that was absolutely terrible and I said...I CAN DO THAT! I can probably even do it better than that. And this book had come to me as highly recommended!

I had that driving need to define the undefinable, to put into words the what, who, how, why, and when of human nature. There are some people that come into your life that give you more of a push off the writing cliff than others. There are some people you meet and say, Wow...I wonder what the hell it is that makes them tick. But then there are others that you meet and say, they're different...And not in a good way, they're different in a way that you want to keep them at a distance and then write about them later as the man your character meets in the back of an alley and gets mugged. I saw one of those yesterday walking down the street in Santa Barbara. There was a man, seemingly disheveled and indigent who was walking down the street with his dog, and his cat and his rat. A motley crew to say the least.

But the dog had the cat on his back and the rat sat beneath the cat, probably for warmth. Later on in this parade of different types of beings (nicely put) the rat was draped around the cat's neck as if it was a trophy or prize or shawl for being that weird cat who rides upon the dog's back. I also have to add to this that the cat nor the rat were tied down or in any type of harness. They were content to be themselves. As they should be. They obviously had not read the book that all the other cats and dogs and rats have read that says that this mix of species should not get along, at least not in this capacity. It was a very warped Dr. Seuss book in the making. I am sure that a story will come out of this moment at some point when I have the time.

But there are moments in life that define who we are. It is because of these moments, I write. Why be quiet with what you are doing. Why be cold, calloused and shy when it comes to your passion. I am not. Those who know me, know that I am the total opposite of this. So, I go and watch and know that in any given moment, someone else's life is being defined by that second of that day. What I failed to mention is that this man with the cat, dog and rat was talking to a policewoman. Seconds before I took notice of the animal train, I noticed that there was another indigent individual who was badgering him, swearing at him and generally making his life very unpleasant. He was just panhandling for money with his animals. Not something I generally am okay with, but hey, it's his life.

Regardless, I write because I am interested in the human condition. What makes us tick, why are there certain moments that we react to more strongly than others, what is it that conditions the spirit to love, to lie, to continue living the life we are living or to change it up and throw in a little excitement.

I believe that is why most writers write. To get it all down. If we don't write it down as we see it, then something one day might be missed. I entered Smith Magazine's 6 word Memoir contest...

This pretty much sums my writing up: "Rewriting history as I see it."

Why do you write? What is it that makes you do the things you do? I would love to hear from my readers...I get a few comments here and there, but lets make this a discussion. Tell me. Sit down and have a cup of joe and tell me your story. How did you get to where you are right now?

This is what it's all about.

Yours in Humanness, Hands On The Keys and Hanging On Until I Find Success,


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

And Now...A Word From Our Sponsor

Mood: Awake

Currently on my IPOD: Rachmaninoff 2nd Piano Concerto

Quote of the Week: You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been.

Mary Shelley

HEY YOU GUYS!!!!!!!!!!

ISSUE 7 of Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens is out. Read it. Love it. Laugh your ass off. And if you don't laugh your ass off or any other part of your body for that matter, then this issue comes with a money back guarantee. (***DISCLAIMER: Only half of money will be refunded if you spit milk or any other liquid out your nose while reading***)

It is free. It is online. It is a PDF. It begins with a letter from a dog and ends with a bag of gold. It is very good.

Read it and find the answers to life's many questions. The same questions that keep you awake all night long, wondering...

What would a dog say to a cat before he gets put to sleep?

What ingredients do you need in order to find true love?

What would the Illuminati family do to your daughter if you screwed up their dry cleaning?

And more importantly...why are the people who cross your lawn wearing gas masks?

Issue 7 includes stories (Rhys Hughes, D. Harlan Wilson, John Edward Lawson, Sean Kilpatrick, Mike Young, Corey Mesler, Andersen Prunty, Cameron Pierce, Amelia Gray, Caleb Ross, Forrest Armstrong, Stefani Nellen, Erik Williams, Jason M. Heim, and Matt Doyle), books reviews (John Edward Lawson's Discouraging At Best and Jeremy C. Shipp's Vacation), and cover art (Jase Daniels).

We're talking cover art so good you might want to use it as your screensaver, next year's Christmas cards and probably a template for your next wall mural, maybe in the kitchen...

Not to mention that it's free.

And to add to that...

It's FREE.

Just think... All the bathroom reading, plane reading and sitting in a doctor's office waiting for your flu shot reading combined into one fabulous issue!

We're also selling the last print issue (number 6) for half price. THAT'S RIGHT PEOPLE!!! BLUE LIGHT SPECIAL ON BUST DOWN THE DOOR AND EAT ALL THE CHICKENS! (don't all get up at once and run to the little blue might cause a scene!)

And guess what?







Here:Bust Down the Door and Eat All the Chickens

Here's another sponsor of my writing life: Writing Coach Lisa Gates, is also having a sale of sorts. She offers group telecoaching for newbies. You can take her for a test drive and find out just what she does for people. Not only can she help you get to the bottom of your writing,and not in a writing sort of way, but in a why you are doing this sort of reason and what is stopping you from reaching your full potential and smoothing the speed bumps out along the way type of gal...(and she helps more than writers, all creative types are welcome at her pad. So, stop on by and clean out your mental stumbling blocks with Lisa.

Oh, and don't forget to pay a visit over to the Cracklefactory

My editor, Ian Wood is working on his site and it should be completed very soon. It's worth it! Especially if you need a good editor or one who will bring your story to life. I promise, he will not let you down. Check it out and tell him Cicily sent you.

And then check out my pal, Travis. His side-splitting antics involve a bad history as a mall Santa, some tips on writing and a few words regarding a plundered booty. For dessert, you may want to try out my friend Alex's Blog.

Alex includes a wide variety of fun and games, including world knowledge for later days when you are on or in Jeopardy , writing resources and skill mastery and maybe a few words regarding how to revive a dead girl in the desert.


Here are some thingamajiggs I have had posted on various sites. They include fiction, reviews, interviews and more!

Underground Voices

My Interview with Mike Neff on Eclectica
You can find his site at Webdelsol. This interview is all about his new book, Year of the Rhinoceros, which not only has an ultra cool film trailer to advertise the book but you can also go to this site and find out how to make your book into a film teaser trailer as well, all located at Net Pix. The book should be available soon through Red Hen Press.

My Review of We Swallow(ed) Spiders In Our Sleep
. This is available through Pudding House Chap Book Series and you can find Zach's Blog here.

And if you missed it when it first came out...make sure you check out JD's Whirligigzine! Wheeee!! I love to say that name. If I had a dog, I would name him whirligig.


I will be back here in a few days with a writing blog. If you haven't read some of my archives or if you are new to the site, then feel free to peruse and use.

Hope you have a wonderful week!

Yours in Chickens, Cleaning the Mental House and Clearing the Path Towards the Cracklefactory,


Monday, January 7, 2008

Editro, woh neesd an eidtor?

Mood: Just Breathing

Currently on my IPOD
: Sweetest Goodbye, Maroon 5

Quote of the Week: To get the right word in the right place is a rare achievement. To condense the diffused light of a page of thought into the luminous flash of a single sentence, is worthy to rank as a prize composition just by itself...Anybody can have ideas--the difficulty is to express them without squandering a quire of paper on an idea that ought to be reduced to one glittering paragraph.

- Letter to Emeline Beach, 2/10/1868
~Mark Twain

(Alright Travis. You win. I am actually blogging here first and not on myspace. Happy?)

Hello, it's me. Did you expect anyone different? Time for the new blog, new year, new me, well...not so new me. It's just the old me with a different date stamp and some fancy new PJ's, a few books I've been wanting and a lot of left over candy canes. Oh, and with a bit of new advice: Egg Nog flavored candy is never a good idea.

Onward and upward to more important things. Writing. I wanted to start off this year with a post on writing and let you know that 99% of the posts from this point on are going to be about writing. And when you get sick of it, I will more than likely change things up a bit and do some more writing about writing.

A fresh page. A new start. A new year. Right? Wrong. Let's talk about editing and revision and what you need to get started.

I have been justifiably accused of sending out my materials too soon. But, what I have learned is that premature submissions can be and most likely are the reason for rejection from magazines, pub. houses, your mother, etc other than poor writing in general. Well, I am sure your mother likes your work regardless of what it sounds like or what the topic is are talking about things she said to you as a child and how it has driven you into years of therapy and caused a mountain of debt to build up and how ultimately it is her fault so she should be the one paying not only your therapy bills but all the bills for your food, seeing as you overeat under extreme stress and how you tend to go buy new shoes everytime your therapists suggests calling your mother, so in reality she should be taking care of the whole damn credit card bill. (And this my friend, is why America is in such bad debt. Just a theory. Remind me at a later date to give you my theory on the war.) Otherwise, no worries on your part if you're trying to only impress family members.

Medical experts say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Same goes for writing. There is no use in sending out your MASTERPIECE without a good once over by someone other than yourself. This act of revision alone might save you years, okay, I exaggerate, days or possibly weeks of binge sessions with onion rings and fried cheese burgers at Denny's over a particularly harsh rejection letter. Actually, I think if you do this too many times and you will need to not only take in my advice, but also the doctor's advice as well.

Onward. I believe a good revision and edit of your book is kind of like one of those new-age hippy-chic-get-to-know-yourself-guru-docs, who are dressed in feathers and what not, waving incense and chanting for your soul. It gives you time to sort out who you are as a writer and on the way teaches you a few important lessons before you screw it all up!

The revision stage is not only the fun stage of writing but it is a chance for you to redeem yourself before anyone even knows you need to redeem yourself. It is like starting a whole new page of your book or even in some cases, a whole new story.

This stage gives you the opportunity to get to know your characters a little bit better. For when you start out a book, unless you have spent years developing your character sketches before writing a word of the book, you hardly know them, right? Now you intimately know the characters, where they started out from and where they are going. So liven up the party a little. Let them loose on the page, see what happens. But take caution all the while.

Revision, of course, is also a time for contemplation. Is your plot going where it needs to go by the middle of the book? Or do you pile it all on the reader's conscious by the first third and then play puppeteer with your characters until the big climactic scene at the end? Contemplate some of your sub-plots. Do they actually work in moving the main problem along or is the French maid story where the protagonist finally finds love, even though this is an epic war novel about the Care Bears,worthy of its own book or worthy of the trash can because the French maid wasn't in any of the chapters leading up to her "subplot."

Revision can be about following your theme. Does everything in this story follow the theme of your novel? Can you even name the theme of your novel? Hmmm...these are all questions you should have asked yourself before you started writing. But then again, if you are a compulsive writer like I am and tend to write thousands of words in a sitting, only to listen to your editor later on that night say, hey this is pretty good and you are thinking, wow..I wrote something pretty good and he is talking about two lines and you were talking about the entire chapter...I digress. You may be trying to get it all out before you run out of steam in the first draft stage and during the revision stage you will go back and begin to address issues of theme. But more often than not, I hunker down and find that even during my first draft, I am writing towards the main theme of the book. But this is because I knew my theme before I started. But this doesn't mean that you won't find areas of the book that are completely irrelevant to theme and plot and characterization of your characters throughout when you get to the end.

And not to mention that the revision stage gives you ample opportunity to correct things like por spellnig ;:" overuse of" , comma's and punctuation!, in, as much. as your poor terrible no good, very bad grammar. This is where a good LINE EDIT (Line edit, v.: Where such said editor runs through your MS line by line and says things like, hey NO MORE COMMA SPLICES, YOU DO IT AGAIN AND I WILL COME AFTER YOUR FAMILY! and then follows it up by, did you mean to misspell the word, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious for the twentieth time on this page or is it just me?) should help. And you can go ahead and try to do a good line edit by yourself but this is a case of trying to do Lasik surgery on your own eyes. If you could see your cornea and your retina then none of us would need corrective eye surgery. As a matter of fact, we would probably also have super powers if we could all do this and writing would then suddenly be irrelevant. And if you care to know, my super-hero power would be the ability to write a perfect first draft every time and don't anyone else try to claim this. I get it first! Ninny-Ninny boo-boo.

Line edits can be tedious and terrible. But where a good editor comes in and stays in is well before the line-edit. So, go buy a bottle of extra strength Excedrin and sit down while reading the rest of this.

There are several different types of editors. There are book doctors who may or may not be after your money. Like this one: Words R U and this one: Writing 2 Sell. And as we all know, writers are super duper wealthy people, so go ahead, spend all that chump-change you have lying around. I once had a friend say that the site looked legitimate and the people were awfully nice to her. But in the end they still did a shoddy job of editing her MS and gave her very poor advice, not to mention the $1000 she was out by the end. Otherwise, Google the hell out of your choice, then go to this site: BEWARE OF BOOK DOCTORS and then ask a few other writers and then when you are done with that, contact the BBB.

Then there is another type of editor. The good guy. The one who actually wants to see you do a good job and has experience with critique, (real crit., not the pat you on the head and tell you its going to be alright type.) Ian Wood.

I am sure there are others like him out there, but I wouldn't know where to find one. Ian came by personal recommendation through my life and writing coach, Lisa Gates, who deserves her own shout out and will get it soon enough in this blog.

What Ian does for me is an enormous amount of work for an extremely reasonable price. Not only is he there for me with the obvious stuff, like my poor grammatical choices and sometimes atrocious sentence structure, he is there for me from A-Z. Or A to THE END, the real end, not the end that you think is the end.

He asks questions that provoke thought regarding my overall plotting, my structure and my characters. He questions my turns of phrase, and *BONUS* without putting me on the defense about my writing. Ian makes sure that I am conveying, in the best possible way, the story that I feel is important. And then when the first draft is done, he starts the process all over again until it is sparkles and reeks of greatness, even if this journey takes a while to complete. And of course he includes the all-mighty line edit when it is time.

But what a lot of writers do not realize is how very important this service is. To use my analogy yet again, it is like trying to see and operate on your own eye. Bottom line, this is your baby, treat it with tender loving care. Feed it. Nurture it. Allow it to grow in its own right and then throw it out to someone else to finish off the job. But don't throw it out to the sharks too soon. It might become fish bait without having learned to swim.

As always, thank you for reading.

Yours in Editors, Exceptional MS Standards and Expressing Yourself,