Get Your Cliches from Hell Here!
Yesterday, I read this:
The Top Ten Storytelling Cliches that Need to Disappear Forever
Did you read it? Or did you skip to here? If you skipped, that’s okay. Who’s gonna know? But the rest of this post will make more sense if you click on the link and at least skim the list of cliches, m’kay?
Now: Here’s what I think about that post:
“I agree! And I’m dancing with glee!”
“Huh?” you say. “How can you agree that a writer shouldn’t use this list of cliches? For fuck’s sake, Hyperlink from Hell is loaded with them!”
To which I say: “You bet it is! It’s front-end loaded! It’s satire, remember? I can’t begin to say how thrilled I am to have hit the bullseye on 7 out of 10 of these!”
But listen: Hyperlink isn’t JUST satire. It isn’t just Pinocchio, poking his little (and sometimes not-so-little) nose into society’s blowhole to see where the bloated whale of our culture springs a leak. I took great pains to make sure he’s also a real boy — a real story about real(ish), crazy people. And I know some of you readers REALLY get that. And I love you for it.
But I’ve also realized that for other readers to get that, they need the other two books in the series, like, NOW. And they aren’t finished. So maybe I should have waited ’til they were done before publishing the first book, but live and learn — and I’ve learned so much from this last year and met so many wonderful readers and other writers, that I wouldn’t go back and change a thing…
Except one. I will soon be uploading a new version of the ebook, with a preview of the second book plopped on the end. Yes, you will soon learn if there’s a body in the tunnel! You won’t have to wait. And after I make those changes, I will make the book free for a while.
Then, after the troll anthology is out, I will write my fingers off to get those other two books out as soon as I can.
Now, about those cliches… Let’s have some fun with them!
1. Characters describing themselves in mirrors: Yes, Jimmie does, just once, stare at his face in the mirror and describe what he sees. But since his appearance keeps changing at Al’s Almighty whim, how else would he know what he looks like at any given time? It’s a win-win!
3. Blaming bad behavior on bad parenting: The whole book is a satirical look at this one. ‘Nuff said.
4. Too many inside jokes/references: All part of the satirical experience, at no extra charge.
5. The chosen one: Bullseye!
6. Countdown clocks: I am practically orgasmic that they included this one on the list!
7. Veiling your message in a dream: Or three! Weeeeeeee!!!
10. Knocking characters unconscious for plot convenience: Poor Jimmie! I did this countless times to him! And all on purpose! (I am a fucking genius!)
Now, I know what you’re thinking:
“What about numbers 2 (Broadcasting an upcoming plot twist), 8 (Using sex as wish fulfillment) and 9 (Magical Negroes and Noble Savages)?”
Well, I’ll do my best to squeeze 2 and 8 into books 2 and 3, but as for 9? No fucking way. I will simply have to admit defeat on that one — wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot Polish person — but you know, my own list of Cliches from Hell…
Is just getting started!
Grant E. Hamilton’s 1885 political cartoon for the “The Judge” magazine.
Who Gives a Crap?
(Please bear with me; there’s a method to my “psychic shit” madness!)
Some of you know that I jokingly fancy myself a media psychic. That is, some strange, very specific things have happened on TV, online or on the radio not long after I thought or dreamed of them. Truth is, I’m almost 100% sure that they are coincidences — but they are freaky, nonetheless. I’m not claiming causation in either direction — just correlation.
Here’s one example: I had a nightmare, in which I was walking behind some friends in a supposedly haunted house. They were all spooked, but of course I was whining about not believing in ghosts and how stupid it all was, when I was grabbed by the clothes on the middle of my back — as if by a giant hand or maybe a grappling hook — and yanked backwards, twenty or thirty feet across the room. This scared the living shit out of me and I woke up.
That evening I was washing dishes and decided to turn the TV to a channel I never watched. I went back to the sink, but turned to look at a commercial — which was a scene from a new movie: the scene from my dream, exactly.
Oftentimes, I wake up with a strange word or sentence in my head, and that turns out to be meaningful during the day. Remember Quid Pro Ho? But these days, since I injured my arm and sleep with it in a sling, I wake up thinking “Careful… careful…careful.” Because, if I move just wrong trying to get out of bed, the pain is faintingly sharp.
This morning, my first thought after “Careful… careful…careful” was about toilet paper. That’s not so surprising; after all, what do you do first when you get up? Pee. But today, sitting there, I started pitying the forests of the world, and wondering if there was a really sensible alternative to toilet paper — one that wouldn’t use more precious resources, such as water, or cause worse environmental and public health problems. I wished Turkish plumbing was better, so we could flush toilet paper instead of it ending up in landfills. There, poor people are exposed to the unspeakable as they try to salvage something to sell to recyclers — thus spreading filth, and possibly disease, far and wide. So I started wondering if composting toilets compost the toilet paper, too, and next thing you know I’m off the john and online to look it up. “But first let’s just check facebook…”
where we find this, the original sit-in, for “Who Gives a Crap” toilet paper:
So, do I think these coincidences happen for a reason? No. Can I make them meaningful? Yes. For example, I can pledge to give all my 2014 profits from the paperback version of “Hyperlink from Hell” to the charity that “Who Gives a Crap” toilet paper supports with 50% of their profits: WaterAid. Their mission is to “promote and secure poor people’s rights and access to safe water, improved hygiene and sanitation”, worldwide. What better charity could my toilet-obsessed ghosts support? What other books have parts dedicated to poo? (remember Part Two: Shit with Wings?) I’ll also set it up so that anyone who buys the paperback in 2014 gets the ebook for a discount (for free, if I can manage that).
For those who don’t live in the US, here’s the global page for Wateraid, which will take you where you need to go, in case you’d like to make a direct deposit. For the holidays.
If you are lucky enough to live in Australia, you can do even more. You can really give a crap, because “Who Gives a Crap” toilet paper can be delivered to your door.
Quid Pro HoHoHo!
What does someone do with the time someone intended to spend putting up decorations, cooking, etc., when one has a bum arm and is forbidden to do any of the above? (Put up a tree? I can’t open a f&cking tuna can! I can’t yank the Band-aids off my own ass, the ones covering my two-a-day injection sites!)
Someone finally joins Quora, and contemplates the secrets of the universe in question and answer form. (Someone also gets her husband to open the f&cking tuna. The tree? Ha ha ha ha ha… And the Band-aids will fall off eventually. Probably into the toilet. Clogging it up. You think Band-aids can’t clog up a toilet? We once had a plumber accuse us of flushing so much dental floss that it clogged the pipes. We did not flush dental floss. Not even a single strand. Someone did, though. But who? When? And did they cackle maniacally while they did so? Could they see the future, or know what damage that floss would wrought? We will never know.)
So, I probably won’t be asking or answering a lot of questions over at Quora, because this is the kind of question I want to ask:
“Who flushed all the f&cking dental floss, and why do I care that the plumber believes it was me?”
Mostly, I will be skulking around Quora like a one-armed, Band-aid-buttocked Bandit. It is my way. But I wonder how the inhabitants of planet Quora would answer Jimmie’s Secrets-of-the-universe questions, in Hyperlink from Hell. Remember this? It’s Jimmie’s lament that, given the opportunity to ask God anything he wanted, he’d wasted that golden moment:
I’d blown my chance to ask Al some gritty, secrets-of-the-universe type questions, like “Why do flies always buzz around the center of a room?” or “How can blind people tell when they’re done wiping?”
Well, You can’t just ask them, can You?
I’m deadly serious. Wipe that smile off your face. And while you’re at it, I could use some help in the bathroom.
No, no; not that.
I can’t floss my f&cking teeth.
Someone wrote a post, somewhere,
Where it was, I do not care.
I wasn’t in my underwear,
(Because I do not wear it)
The post was asking everyone
The favorite line they’d writ, bar none,
But I was lazy; I said “Screw it.”
(“I’d much rather talk ’bout Pooh lit.)
There. Now that it’s perfectly obvious that a poet I shall never be… How about that Winnie the Pooh? Huh? Am I right? After all these years, I’m still lovin’ the Pooh, which rhymes with Who, which reminds me that Doctor Who just turned 50 (the special’s tonight!) — but like The Doctor himself, that’s neither here nor there.
So, here’s the thing I‘m gonna ask in a post somewhere:
“What’s your comfort book?”
Makes sense, right? Books for every occasion…
Feeling happy? (Any book for you)
Feeling grievous? (Harry Potter, read two)
Feeling angry? (Catch-22)
Feeling anxious? (Only Pooh will do)
Need convincing? Read this, from The House at Pooh Corner, wherein Piglet asks:
“Supposing a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?”
“Supposing it didn’t,” said Pooh after careful thought.
Anyone out there unfamiliar with the real Pooh? If your experience is limited to Disney, or indeed any cartoon version, I pity you. (Take one Pooh, and call me in the morning.)
I, myself, have two tattered volumes from my childhood: The House at Pooh Corner and When We Were Very Young. I borrowed them from my folks’ house and never took them back. Like Pooh with a honey pot, I was greedy and couldn’t bear to share. Not sure why I didn’t grab the lot. Maybe I couldn’t find the others. Maybe my greed would only take me so far down the path of petty criminality. Maybe I just got stuck in the door on the way out.
Oh, bother! Why did I tell you that? (I’ll chalk it up to Pooh Confessions.)
Well, if we’re talking Pooh confessions:
If you’re feeling fretful, too,
Cuz you can’t go to the loo,
Do what I do, read some Pooh,
(Yup, just grin and bear it.)
The truth about the John L. Monk steroid scandal
I hope you read the whole thing, because it’s hilarious. And I really hope John will compile some of his story-posts into a book, or a graphic novel. I’ll keep nagging him about it…
If I get sued for using Oprah’s picture, I’ll be quite peeved, since John did it! It was John! I told him to use a giraffe!
Against the wishes of my family and my attorney, my priest and my neighbor Tony and his kids, Wanda and Monique, and some of their friends at school, I’ve decided it was time to come clean about the so-called “steroid” scandal that has been circulating in the media about me this week.
When I started writing Kick, the competition was quite fierce in the rankings on Amazon. Every day, someone on top came hurtling down, only to be clawed to pieces by up-and-coming indie authors like Carol Ervin and Lindy Moone. Fortunes were eradicated over night, families broken up, economies toppled, and empires reduced to rubble. These young authors were like the Huns against the helpless farmers in Medieval Europe. Who wants to read tame stuff like “Kick” ($2.99 on Amazon while supplies last) when they can fry their brains on Hyperlink from Hell or lose their…
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NaNoWriMo and Dino Porn (probably) Suck!
Something is going on, and it isn’t pretty. Make that two things. Two nasty, filthy things.
Oh, no! NANOWRIMO!
Indie Authors go into writing despair mode from time to time, usually right before National Novel Writing Month. Why? Because NaNoWriMo has potential for great good, but also for great evil — like Superman on Red Kryptonite.
All year long, we Indies have been positive whirlwinds, with every last element of our writing careers on our own shoulders (plus others’ career’s, too, because, hey, we’re trying to be supportive and protective, like push-up bras and jock straps for our collective sagging egos). And now, to reward ourselves: let’s write a whole frakking novel in a month already chock-full of Thanksgiving and holiday shopping!
Or we could stop being so hard on ourselves. We are amazing. But we are not super-human.
I get that some of us came late to the novel-writing party. We want to use our remaining Earth-years fruitfully, and NaNoWriMo seems like a great jump-start. But nature itself rests for months; it doesn’t take one weekend off — say, the last week in December, and then start pushing up healthy shoots.
We should give ourselves time; we have accomplished so much! And even if NaNoWriMo is a good idea, who’s to say that our NaNoWriMo must be November? Pick another month, if need be. January? February? We can rename the month of our choosing “MyNoWriMo.”
I think I’ll spend November making up alternate universe acronyms:
NaNoWriMo…NoMo! (National Novel Writing Month… No More!) or NaNoWriMo…OWri (This sounds like the Irish version to me, and stands for: National Novel Writers’ Moratorium On Writing.) Add the “N” and it becomes a sandwich: NaNoWriMo…OnWri.
Maybe the problem’s not November, anyway. Maybe we need to reexamine why we are writing our dystopian / speculative / historical / romance. Is it because we love the genre/s, and can’t wait to make our mark in it/them? Because we relish the challenge? Because our story built up inside and is busting its alien-baby way out, no matter what? Or because Hugh Howey raked in the bucks?
(Love you, Hugh, big hug!)
If it’s the last (which I don’t believe for a second, not you!), we should write dino porn instead. It may not be pretty, but it’s pretty lucrative. (What an unbelievably disgusting thing our society is. Which is fascinating, in itself. I can’t say I’m not curious, in a rubber-necking sort of way, as to what all the fuss is about. But I will not enrich the dino-pornographers with my hard-earned $$ just to gasp, cringe, giggle, and then feel guilty for giggling because it is, after all, a sneaky way to profit from rape fantasy. The feminist in me is too demoralized to be outraged, anymore.)
Time to rewatch the Neil Gaiman commencement speech?
Too sweet? Too uplifting? (Too much of a push-up bra?) Then check out The Oatmeal’s take on Dino Porn. (Warning: it is not for the squeamish or for kids. I mean it.)
Rest. Recuperate. Make Good Art. Rinse and Repeat.
And do NaNoWriMo, or just make yourself a sandwich.
Do you suffer from Premature E-Publication?
Now, if you’ve read Hyperlink from Hell, you might be saying, “No way! It’s awesome!” Which is your prerogative. I can’t stop you. I also can’t stop you from tweeting it to the galaxy or liking my facebook page or checking out my website or…
But there’s more than one kind of Premature E-Publication. Naturally, there are a lot of indie publishing horror stories out there, books rushed-to-publish — unrevised, unedited, even un-spellchecked, for Godzilla’s sake. That’s the most common form of the condition, but I have the other one.
Here’s my particular affliction: I published the first book in a series, when the others weren’t ready to go.
I know what you’re thinking: “So what? Ever hear of Harry Potter? 7 years, 7 books?”
But I’m not JK Rowling, and The After Ward isn’t a children’s book or YA. And book two in The After Ward series, Riding the Bull, has me firmly impaled on the horns of its dilemma. It’s taking longer to finish than I’d thought, and I’ve got all the symptoms to show for it. I’ve got Sequel Sores on my butt… Traumatic Head Drama… Marketing Melancholia… Amazon Angst.
I’m working through the pain. Really, I am. Riding the Bull will not buck me off!
As far as Hyperlink goes, it works just fine as a stand-alone novel, because I planned it that way. Even so, some folks are itching to find out just what is — or isn’t — in that tunnel.
I hope it will be worth the wait. Because in book three, the Three Wize Monkies are already plotting to stuff me into their barrel.
Review: “Bottling Farts,” by Donald Rump
Yay! Book reviews are back! It’s The Instant Review Challenge, book 9!
A reminder: The Instant Review Challenge is just me, downloading ebooks, reading them, and writing reviews for Amazon — all in less than an hour. But not just any ebooks. I’m reviewing the books written for J.A. Konrath’s challenge to write, edit, format and publish a story, complete with author-generated cover… in 8 hours. And while I’m explaining things: Did you guys know that so many of the Challenge books would be erotica? I’m too em-bare-assed to review that, so I’m not gonna. (Sorry.) Is it getting hot in here?
Here’s the cover for today’s featured book, which is $.99 at the time of posting,
and my review:
Flat-out Flatulent Frivolity!
I must admit to being disappointed, at least at first. Despite its no-nonsense title and serious cover, Bottling Farts utterly fails as a self-help book for chemical warfare aficionados of the survivalist persuasion. Between me and you, there’s just not enough “How to.”
But then, maybe the world doesn’t need another How to Weaponize Your Farts manual. So it’s a good thing. A nasty, smelly, naughty, not-for-kids good thing. I suspect the author, Donald Rump, is all of those things, too.
So if it’s not a how-to guide, what is Bottling Farts?
If you think a story about farts-as-mind-control is funny, it’s flat-out flatulent frivolity.
If you’ve got the urge to see a naughty kid give an odiferous adult a whiff of his own medicine, it’s the gas.
The ending stinks. Also the middle.
Stinks so good.
(5 smelly stars)
Quid Pro Ho, reprise.
Today’s a good day to reprise this post from last month, because I need a little reminder:
Woke up with these words reverbing through my brain:
Quid. Pro. Ho.
Just that, nothing more. No clue as to what my trickster mind meant by it — but I could almost hear her snickering behind her tiny trickster hand. Always the naughty little scamp, my trickster mind likes riddles, and she loves poking fun at me. Someday I hope to squash her, like one of the fairies in Lady Cottington’s Pressed Fairy Book.
But not until I squeeze the truth out of her.
See, the thing is, my trickster mind is a little bit psychic. Or psycho. Or a bit of both. Take what happened later that day, the day I woke up to her shouting “Quid Pro Ho”: I started reading Chuck Wendig’s 500 Ways to be a Better Writer. And what did I find right in the middle of the book, there? Actually, not there, no, no, a little to the left — on page 47% of an ebook with no table of contents, so I couldn’t have known ahead of time — under a chapter called 25 Things You Should Know about Social Media:
11: Be An Escort, Not A Whore (and)
12: Just Say No To Quid Pro Quo.
Before I speculate on what this means to me, much less you, let me say I don’t believe in fairies, or dragons, or astrology, or deities of any kind except in fiction — where all these things surely exist. If there is such a thing as precognition, there is a scientific reason for it. Probably some “Doctor-Who-wibbly-wobbly-timey-wimey” universal reason that, when revealed, will make all humankind smack its collectively unconscious forehead and utter a resounding “duh.”
On to the speculation. After reminding writers to vary their online content and avoid participating in “pissy Internet rumpuses,” Chuck says in Be An Escort, Not A Whore:
“Speaking of self-promo… the reality of the modern writer’s existence is that self-promotion is inescapable. Whether you’re published by the Big Six or published by your buddy Steve out of his mother’s basement, you’re going to have to serve up some self-promo. Social media is your online channel for this. It has to be. And it isn’t a dirty word — if I follow a writer, I want to know that their new book is out because I may have missed that news. I just don’t want to hear it 72 times a day. And there’s the key to self-promotion — like with all things ([Chuck lists a few here]), everything in moderation.”
and in Just Say No To Quid Pro Quo:
“Controversial notion: do not re-share something purely as a favor to someone else. [….] The thing is, if one is to assume you are a writer to trust, then those who listen to your social media broadcasts want to know that the information you share is, in a way, pure.”
I guess what Chuck’s trying to tell me is that it’s all too easy to get caught up in link-love, in the mutual scratching of backs… even though, yeah, we might sell more books… but all that scratching has to mean something. We have to really like the back… back.
So now I’m pissed. How dare my fairy bitch trickster mind accuse me of link-lust, of click-counting, of slut-sharing?! And Chuck, Chuck… I love your novels, but I don’t know you, and you don’t know me. Did I not just make fun of My Major Award? Did I not just not spread that chain letter link — which might have gotten me some “hits” and sold me some books? Did I not just use a whole bunch of double negatives? Huh?
No, you and my tiny mind don’t know me. Or do you? Could it be that you know a potential future me, one I would not be proud of? One with, say, psychic dinosaurs on the payroll?
So, note to self: “Psychic or no, don’t be a Quid Pro Ho.”
“And buy a fairy flyswatter.”
I can has ROCK.
This post is not about cave-women and their preferred tokens of engagement, or even their methods of becoming engaged. It’s about:
Recessive Obsessive Compulsive (Kidding? I think not!) disorder.
ROCK, for short.
I just made that up. But I’ve got it. I think. I’m pretty sure. Well, what would you call it when…?
- You think about pulling your hair out, but seldom do it. Otherwise you’d be bald or at least really, really patchy up there.
- Small, pointy objects and ears. You just say no. But what made you think of it? WHAT?
- You get up once to check all the door’s are locked. Once. I said once.
- You don’t wonder if you left the stove on until you are halfway, or more, to a date with a summer blockbuster. You don’t go back home, but you wonder: will there be a smoking concrete shell where your house was when you do return, humming the theme song? Just to clarify: if you lived in an apartment, or in a wooden house in a neighborhood of wooden houses, or just in the woods, you would have gone back. You would have missed the movie. The stove would not have been on.
- Sometimes, after a meaty meal, you brush with both an electric and regular toothbrush, before flossing. Sometimes (chicken or fish), it’s just the one toothbrush and you don’t even floss. But you fret about it, once you’re cuddled up in bed. Just not enough to get up and do it.
Okay, maybe there is no such thing as ROCK. Maybe I’m just lazy. That’s it! I can’t even get Obsessive Compulsive Disorder right, cuz I’m just too damn lazy!
I wish everyone was too lazy to have OCD. I really do. Especially this guy: