Getting published is a real be-yatch! Hear about my ups, downs and a few random rants in between.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

O No, The Fight's Out

When I read about Fifty Cent putting Oprah on blast because of the lack of rap acts on her show, I laughed. Surely Fiddy had more important things to do than worry about getting time on a show that caters primarily to women who, I'll take a wild guess and say, aren't buying hip hop in record numbers.

But now Ice Cube has thrown his mic in the ring.

I'm taking the issue more seriously, now.

Sorry, Fifty. You're just one of many rappers who experienced wild success with your debut - but you haven't proven your staying power enough for me. Oprah having him on her show would be nothing more than hyping up an already hyped up, yet still relatively young (in the game, at least) rapper/actor.

Cube is another story, for longevity alone. Fiddy, holler at a sister when you've had as long in the rap and/or movie biz.

Fifty and
Ludacris have gone on record to say the O ignores the success and grind of hip hop's finest, while embracing more, ahem, mainstream black entertainers.

First, mad props to them for taking on the most powerful media mogul in the world. Even if Oprah isn't paying much attention to hip hop, overall, it's a risky thing to take her on. Television and print media are her playground. Everyone else is just a kid trying to get some time on the monkey bars.

But does hip hop have a point?

First, let's get this out of the way - it's her show and she can have on who the hell she wants. I know, I know.

But, hip hop is a viable and lucrative genre of music. How can she turn a blind eye to it? Surely there are some issues within hip hop Oprah could take on and bring a little mainstream validation.

Or does hip hop want that?

See, it's confusing. Hip hop prides itself on being counter culture. At least it was one time. Why would the streets care if Oprah shouts them out?

When Cube came out with NWA, back in the day, they would have been labeled straight up sell-outs if they ended up on Oprah's coach crying about growing up in Compton. "See Oprah, there were these drive-bys and...wait, I need a second."

Cue Oprah handing Cube a tissue.

O'Shea Jackson actually isn't a product of the hood. He grew up in a middle class burb of LA. Which is actually another reason I'd think Oprah would be more interested in his story.

If she's trying to avoid the blood and guts of hip hop, there are automatically some acts she'll take a pass on (that's you, Fiddy). But spurning Ice Cube during the promotion of Barbershop? That's a head scratcher.

Another head scratcher, Oprah having Karrine Steffans, a self-proclaimed video ho - maybe she doesn't call herself that but that's her claim to fame - on one of her shows about self-esteem. See how prominently Oprah's name is on the front page of Karrine's website?

The power of O!

But, ummm...Oprah? Did you read Karrine's book? The only time her self-esteem suffered was when some dude who she...ah...served, refused to pay her rent. She wasn't one bit worried about self-esteem or pride when she was out pleasuring hip hop glitterati and getting jewels, trips and furs for it.

Karrine was repping hip hop while promoting the book, Superhead, because hip hop was what fed her, paid her rent and had her jet-setting the world.

Why that image of hip hop on Oprah and not a successful, multi-platinum rap artist/writer,actor and producer of a very successful movie series?

I don't get it either. But hey, who am I to question the O?

She doesn't book YA authors on her show or promote them in any significant way, either. Guess me and Fiddy gotta find another way to push units.

Friday, May 26, 2006

I'm an Anti-listite, But...

I enjoy reading lists. Like Top 10 movies of all times or 20 best horror novels, whatever. I'll read them all day.

But when someone says "What's your favorite..." fill-in-the-blank, I draw a blank! Dammit, don't people realize that some people's tastes are so wide and long reaching that choosing a favorite is like a parent choosing which child they love best?

The answer is - you love them both the same.

I feel that way about movies, songs, books, TV shows. Some might call me fickle because I'll use the word "love" to describe this show or that. I'll gush over one song and turn right around and claim another as my favorite.

P, you might say, you can't LOVE everything.

Yes, I can. And if you don't let me I'm taking my ball and going home.

So, being an anti-listite, i.e. someone who refuses to make lists of her favorites unless forced to, mine is an unlikely site to find a listing, comprehensive or otherwise, of anything.

But I'm compelled to post this List, because I think the success of a writer's journey is moderately (or immensely, depending on your own resources) dependent upon the experience of others.

I have a great agent (hi Jen). And I'm not afraid to share her name, (Jen Carlson of Dunow, Carlson & Lerner). Though I found out on some other list that she's not taking any new clients, right now.

But there are many writers out there struggling to get their foot in the door of a good agent. Sometimes, anxious to launch their career, they make foolhardy decisions. They don't heed the warnings of those saying never pay an agent up front, always research an agent's recent sales to test compatiability and credibility and a host of other Don'ts.

So, if one person avoids a scam because of a simple list...well, I might just change my outlook on the whole affair.

I'll start simple though.

P's list of her fave ice cream

3. Cookie Dough
2. Vanilla (so sue me, I'm a simple chick)
1. Mint chocolate chip

And I don't need a list for this one, the best writing advice I ever heard:

Don't pay to get published, get paid being published!!

Avoid the scammers!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Slush You Very Much

Was I complaining in my last post about edits and my veritable fear of perfecting my mss for my editor?

Just smack me! Because photos like this...

And this...

Remind me just how friggin' hard it is to become an...ahem, author.

And that's just ONE publisher's slush, TOR's to be exact. Multiply that by a dozen or so other NY houses that accept unsolicited manuscripts and that mountain you're climbing ain't Everest it's Mt. Slushamanjaro.

Mad love to all the writer's out there trying to do their thing. Don't let the slush get you down.

And just in case you don't have enough blogs to keep you from your writing, check out this post about rejection: SlushKiller

BTW, the edits are moving along. Just thought I'd check in on the b-l-o-g before checking out for the night.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fire in the Hole!

I've been on the low-low this week.

My Editorial Letter - that document your editor sends that says "Dear Writer, We love change that!" - arrived last Friday. I've been waist deep in manuscript edits ever since.

Naturally, blogging has taken a back seat. One, I'm simply unable to channel my creative juices into both the blog and tightening up the book.

Two, and most importantly, I'm scared to death my eddy will check the blog. She'll wander by, notice I'm still posting regularly and promptly email this:

Yeah, uh, Miss...err..P or whatever you're calling yourself these days, get your blogging behind back to work. And that's ten extra pages of back story for slacking.

So, why am I risking the wrath of my eddy with this post?

Because she's not the boss of me. I'm grown.

Hee-hee. Just jokes, Stacey.

No, honestly, I wanted to share something.

In a span of six days I've gone from hyperventilating-inducing panic to fire-burning passion for my manuscript. What started out as a healthy dose of imposter's syndrome - who ever told me I was a writer, needs to be flogged - has now eased into an affair with my first labor of love.

But the journey wasn't pretty.

Friday afternoon
Editor calls to let me know "The" letter is coming at me via email and to look out for the mss, arriving the next day. I spend the next three hours staring at the email too scared to download the attachment.

Friday evening
With Princess A and Bea downstairs pumping up the volume on Pitbull's Rombe - the beat is kind of hot - I decide to open the letter. This is a calculated move since I've got to drop Princess A off at a sleep over in less than 15 minutes. Crafty eh?

After a quick scan, I see there's no major overhauls required. Whew! I gather up the girls and let the information marinate.

Saturday morning
I arise at the crack of dawn and give the letter the reading it deserves complete with highlighter pen, in hand. I then proceed to spend the rest of the morning on the road with the fam doing some much needed spring shopping.

Saturday late morning
I get back to the palace and realize that I've missed the Fed Ex guy by seven friggin mintutes! Either I wait until Monday to see the mss or drive damn near to Baltimore to pick it up later that afternoon.

We make a road trip of it and head to Charm City.

Saturday afternoon
Let's play a game. After rescuing the mss from the Fed Ex warehouse I:

A. Rip it open and read hungrily
B. Place it on my lap and make small talk with my husband about the art of package delivery
C. Toss it in the back with the Princesses

If you chose B, you win! Five minutes into my wonderment - just how does a package travel across the nation so quickly - my husband says, "So, what, you scared to open it?" He's not so slick. I hear the "I dare you" in his voice. Never one to punk out from a dare, I rip it open. First few pages free of comments. From there it's a sea of red.

Stupid dare!

The mss remains atop my counter, untouched, 90% of the day. It's Mommy's Day, after all. I had to visit my mom, my husband's mom and then of course, take my annual Don't-even-think-of-interrupting-me soak in the whirlpool tub.

Sunday night
I crack open the mss and concentrate. It's been eight months since I've been intimate with these characters. They feel like strangers.

With every page I think, Who are these people? And why did I ever care about them?

Dazed, I stare at the mss and letter like they're alien objects from Saturn. Where the hell do I start?

Few more minutes of staring. Ponder, ponder, ponder...I decide to go micro (small edits, page-by-page) vs. macro (broad characterization and time line issues).

A few pages in, the thought that this is probably not the best way to start creeps in. But I shut that voice out and keep going.

Five hours later, still feeling a little like a Peeping Tom in the nabe of characters that used to live in my head 24-7.

I spend seven hours on edits. I am bored to tears!! However, finally, some of the old familiarity and comfort with my characters returns. I slowly begin to drift away from the real world and into the world of my MC.

Can't take another day of micro edits! Let's get to it already.

I email my eddy - any suggestions on the most linear way to do this? She suggests I go for the macro edits, first. Hmm...probably should have emailed her BEFORE I started...two days ago!

Too late now. Gotta take a break and focus on my um...real job.

Suddenly, scenes are flashing in my head at a frightening pace. It figures. While in a meeting, a scene that will help me flesh out one of the characters plants itself in my brain refusing to leave so that I can focus on what my boss is saying. Drat!

Walking to the car, another scene bubbles over. My hands are full and I can't find my notebook to capture it.

Hot damn! I'm back.

The thing is, I see the merits of starting macro. But not choosing that route wasn't so much an organizational decision as it was a testament to my genetic make-up.

Something about the way my brain is wired wouldn't allow me to start big. It wasn't that I wouldn't, I couldn't. The characters had been too far from my heart for too long.

Until I sent this mss off to my agent in September 2005, I had been in it every day for nearly two and a half years. The characters of DRAMA were as close to me as my real, living and breathing family.

If for some bizarre reason I was away from my girls and husband that long, I'm pretty sure the first time I saw them it would be all hugs and love. No awkward pauses or shyness.

So, I thought reading the mss for the first time after eight months would be like slipping on a well-worn sweatshirt - cozy and comforting. But it was more like trying on a new swim suit and realizing I'd gained ten pounds - horribly uncomfortable.

It's impossible to start tweaking character flaws when you're wandering through the manuscript like a student abroad lost in the countryside of France. "Ou je suis?!"

But now that I'm over the initial shyness, the old fire in the belly is burning strong. And it really is like having a good friend, one you haven't seen in ages, pop over for a surprise visit.

It's ironic. I used to hate how I couldn't stop thinking about my mss. It's so rude to have full conversations with people and not really hear a word they're saying. And amazingly frustrating to be in a deep sleep and suddenly have the climax to your novel blaze across your brain forcing you out of bed and into the office at 3 a.m.

But I'm slowly coming to terms with the fact that those are occupational hazards. I can't shut off my muse anymore than I can stop paying bills...I mean, without them evicting my butt.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Oh no she di'int

Yes, I did. Yah know I love me some B-Brown. And I know his voice is a bit...shall we say, worn, from his years of recreational use of pharmaceutical substances. But he's still my man.

The consummate entertainer, Bobby is well aware of his limitations. You don't see him trying to move like he used to and he's not reaching for notes he knows he hasn't hit since he had washboard abs.

B-Brown, you my man 50 grand, flaws and all.

Get your grown man on, boy!

Video courtesy of YouTube & Rich over at Fourfour: Learning is for suckas

Powerful People

The other day, while perusing my fave blogs, I ran across an entry from Mahogany Girl about the Senate voting on a bill (S.1955) that would eliminate guaranteed insurance coverage for mammograms and other life-saving benefits for cancer screening and care.

After reading the information provided by the American Cancer Society, I used their auto-email form to send my State Senators a letter encouraging them to vote against it. I then proceeded to post the link on Verla Kay's a writer's board I frequent (probably way too much, if I'm honest).

This morning, the ACS sent a form thank you to all those who had gone through their site, informing us that the bill had failed to pass, just barely though.

Want to see how your Senator voted?

There are obviously two issues at hand, I can touch:

- The fact that our bonehead government, at a time when some Americans don't even have healthcare, would pass bills decreasing the amount of screenings insurance is required to cover.

- The power of the Internet and electronic communication.

For the time being, I'll stay on the positive tip. ACS' Cancer Action Network was the vehicle behind spreading the word about the vote. And in two weeks, their volunteers:

• Sent 167.000 emails
• Made 8,600 phone calls
• Held nearly two dozen media events and rallies

Thanks to that effort, bloggers and others were able to also inform readers. I rarely read blogs for heavy information. But I'm glad that my entertainment is often broken up with essential points of fact, many times revolved around issues I not only care about but am willing to act upon.

Because of stupid chain letters and dozens of forwards a day, I'm sure I'm not the only one that tunes out pleas for help on this cause or that. And even when I followed the link from Mahogany Girl's blog, I did all I could to make sure the bill, the link, and the email campaign were real.

That's how skeptical I am of Internet info. I checked and double-checked the CAN site, hoping it wasn't some well-reproduced fake by some stupid hacker trying to get my IP address and email and phone number and on and on.

I was satisifed it was real. And I acted. And obviously some of my fellow message boarders did as well.

It's easily forgotten that when a product is genuine, the Internet gives us a powerful collective voice to promote it. Too bad we have to swim through Penis Enhancement ads and long-ass forwards of the same lame jokes to find the pearls.

Damn, you'd think by now people would learn to cut out some of the emails within those forwarded messages.

Just so you know, when I get a forward I don't open it half the time. If for some odd reason I do and there are still a babillon forwards before the actual "meat" of the email - delete becomes my best friend.

But I digress. I'm in awe of the Internet and email when it works for the good and I'm disgusted when it works for the bad (scams!!!!).

Now about our beloved Senate - it's bad enough you have to review your insurance coverage with a microscope to identify what preventive care is covered and how often you're allowed to take advantage of them.

For example - I didn't find out until after the Princesses' physical that hearing exams aren't covered. WTF?!

No, they would rather pay for a hearing aid or testing to see why she's deaf than a simple preventive exam to make sure her hearing is on track. I had to pay for that portion of their well-child check-up myself.

This is the type of stupid shit we deal with daily when it comes to insurance. So the fact that S.1955 had the potential to cut out or decrease the amount of coverage allowed for paps, mammaograms and other cancer screenings hit a button.

I joked, to a colleague, that if Jeb Bush became President I'd pack up and head to Canada.

But, I swear, moving to Canada sounds more and more appealing everyday. Healthcare for all and decreased crime, what's to hate?!

Politics aside - because most times I don't get the decisions made by pols - mad shout out to the bloggers that truly keep it real, passing genuine information that touches beyond whatever little commonalities and interests that bring people to their spot, daily.

It's easy to become a slave to your blog - posting info because you think your readers will enjoy it. Trying to keep the flavor and voice of your blog entertaining enough for others to stop by.

Now and then, it's not about any of those things. Simply passing the word so someone else can is enough. And when that pass-it-on mentality results in something that impacts folks nationwide, it reminds me that the Internet was once called the Information Superhighway. Even though that highway is sometimes clogged by bad information and lots of porn, some of the real stuff still gets through.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Wanna Rip It Up?

Everytime the clueless skater dude from the Domino's XLP commercial utters that line, I crack up.

The whole commercial is funny. Part of it, is him riding a big ass scooter in the hallway of an apartment building wearing a bike helmet. The other part is his ultra skater-dude vernacular.

Even, I - the very unskater-like Queen of Cliqueness - knows that ripping it up is a term used in extreme sports to reference getting your skate on. But skater dude's voice came to me very clearly as I was lying in bed watching The Apprentice, Monday night.

With hubby watching something else downstairs and Princess A on the PC myspacing, I had no one to talk to. Most times watching television by my lonely is okay. When viewing Medium, Cold Case and Law & Order: CI - it's mandatory. Momma's only "me" time.

But reality TV is a communal viewing experience. You need someone there, by your side, to dissect the stupidity of the contestants, tear them a new butt hole when idiotic decisions quickly become the order of the day, and gripe about the ones you love to hate.

Shout out to Jade! Here's to hating ya, Boo.

In other words, reality tv ain't jack without someone to help you rip it up, literally.

I came to this realization only last week as I was reading ANTM updates on various blogs. When I was done, I had visited no less than three sites. The meaner the blog in ripping the show apart the more gleeful, was I - think giggling, laughing and co-signing with every entry.

Now, in all honesty, this could very well be a sickness. I mean, how healthy is it mentally to feel good about digging into a person's public missteps? Or, getting a joyful release from calling them names when they don't get "it" right - it being anything you disagree with.

I'm thinking not very.

Still, it's RTV, a genre that will and has taken itself to the lowest lows to catch a rating.

Temptation Island, anyone?

Even the shows that have a shred of dignity left...wait? Which ones are those?

The Apprentice? Does anyone even play that silly "Beat The Trump" contest? It screams of copying Deal or No Deal's pick the case with the 10K, only much much stupider!

Survivor? True, they're still holding on. But the last four seasons I've skipped the middle and watched the last two eps. Even with this season's twist, the solo banishment for a night, wasn't enough to picque my interest.

Side note: Did you know Survivor is on season 12? How scary is that?

The mother of RTV, the Real World? Please! First, it's NOTHING like the real world, at all. At least it used to be a little more realistic-ish, before they started choosing candidates whose only goal in life was to make it on Real World.

Yikes! Now that is some scary insight into our future leaders, there.

Being among the original demographic of Real World back in the early 90's, I stayed tune for a long time. But now the show is a walking cliche - hot tub shots, streaking, boob flashing and drunken nights on the town. None of that ish is interesting for longer than 60 seconds.

Ay, Real World, do us all a favor and put yourself out to pasture, already.

Maybe dignity isn't a good word to use to describe the traits of any RTV show. My original point was, good RTV or bad, watching it alone is like watching bad porn by yourself - it just ain't fun.

Watching it solo gives it too much power. Pushes it too far up on your priority list as if it's actually more worthy of your time than the million and one other important things you could be doing like exercising, washing your hair or de-linting your cat.

I can justify blowing off writing for an hour to watch Law & Order: CI because it's a good, edge-of-your-seat, procedural.

But, unless I can lump spending some quality time with the fam in there, watching The Apprentice should not be a gotta watch event.

Yet, I watched both it and
America's Next Top Model alone, this week. And now I feel all shallow and self-absorbed.

So here's my solution: next week I'll trick the fam into watching it with me. I haven't worked out the deets yet...but I'll find something.

Now, just in case I can't sweet talk, cajole, or threaten them into it, I'm gonna need the following bloggers to promise to post about ANTM immediately after the show:
Fourfour:Learning is for suckas

Shoot, I gotta have somebody to rip it up with me!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

DRAMA Gets A Sneak Prev

So I'm sitting at work, yesterday, and my eddy emails me.

The email was pretty innocently titled "Kids in Chicago." I thought maybe she was sending me an infobite of some sort. But I open it and it says something to this effect:

TO: My Newest Greatest Writer

FROM: The Best Darn Editor in the World

RE: No big deal but...what are the best parts of the book to showcase

Hey, my boss is attending a meeting in Chicago. Some dignitaries are probably going to be along for the ride and there will be readers in your target age group to get a little preview of our new line. Thoughts on chaps you think would go over big with the kiddies.

What?! No pomp? No circumstance?

We're talking about the "Book" here. ::cue celestial sounds of harps and choir::

A little respect for my baby girl when she's about to be given a sneak peek. Ha, ha!

Well of course I zip through the book and locate the chapters that test readers enjoyed and list them for her. Then back to my mundane duties of transportation marketing. Yippee!

Very un-cool day job aside, every little step of the pre-pub phase has its excitement. Well, at least for me.

But I love how casual my editor is about stuff. It's a sign that she's worked with writers long enough to know how we get. We hear what we want to hear. She has to temper what she says to me because she knows - give a writer an inch she'll take ten miles. Give us one ordinary statement of fact to work with and we'll spin that baby into the best little yarn this side of Shakespeare.

Think not?

Just for shits and giggles, let's break down her email, shall we?

What she said
"Hey, my boss is attending a meeting in Chicago."

What I heard
"The President of the Company is going to a huge, important meeting. It may even involve a plane ride." No one takes a plane if it's not important.

She Said
"Some dignitaries are probably going to be along for the ride"

I Heard
"The Governor of Illinois, Mayor of Chicago and possibly President Bush will be in attendance." Better dress my baby girl up in her Sunday best!

She said
"And there will be readers there."

I Heard
"Every kid from the Chicago school system is attending. Matter-of-fact, they're declaring it a city-wide holiday and closing schools."

She Said
"Thoughts on chaps you think would go over big with the kiddies."

I Heard
"Nevermind, we'll just read the whole book. They'll love it!"

I'm thrilled that SO NOT THE DRAMA will be getting some ear-time with potential readers. Thrilled! But I think I'm equally excited about taking one step closer to production of the book.

I spend a lot of time in deafening silence, awaiting emails or calls from my editor to prove that indeed I was offered a book deal. So every time it's reinforced it's a good day.

Ay, Chi-town, DRAMA's coming at ya, baby.