Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Ideas

            I made two big decisions today. Well, sort of today. It was actually in that in-between time, somewhere between 2 o'clock & 3 o'clock am. You know, where it’s tomorrow but it’s not really tomorrow because you haven’t slept because you have meds-induced insomnia? Yeah, then.
            Anywho, the first big decision was not to enter the next Paramourtal contest. There are several reasons behind this, but the main ones are my current medical issues (which wreak havoc on a deadline), and the fact that the idea I have concocted could turn out to be a fantastic novel. Or fantastic series of novels. And I want to develop that more fully than a short story would allow. Which leads me to my next decision.
            I have found the subject matter for my next paranormal novel. Well, I say “next” because I have one finished already that I’m marketing to agents, but it would really be the “first” since no one has picked me up yet. I digress.
            I’m not going to tell you the actual subject, because I wholeheartedly believe in the Universal Consciousness, and this idea is MINE. *ahem* Also, I haven’t fully developed the story arc, which both excites me and terrifies me.
            The basis of it comes quite a bit from my real life, and there is so much room for artistic license it makes me giddy. I do worry about having started it without the storyline in place, because generally if I do that the characters abscond with my plot and twist it all up into what they wanted it to be. Hell, they do that anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter.
            So wish me luck. I’m off to poke my muse in the ribs and tell her it’s time to go back to work.

Sometimes, insomnia can be a good thing.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Writer's Block and Other Problems...

        Before I start this particular rant, it has come to my attention that unless you already have a Blogger account, it is insanely difficult to leave me a comment here. While I know you all adore me already, if you have something specific to say about the awesomeness that is me, you can leave it on my facebook page instead to make things easier. You're welcome. ;0)


        So like I said in my last blog, I have about 457 irons in the fire right now. I have no idea if it’s the fact there’s so many, if it’s the post-surgery drugs they have me on, or if it’s just plain ol’ writer’s block, but nothin’s brewing over at the Rebecca Ranch.
         I have finally decided that my next entry (should my muse get off her ass and help me out sometime soon) for the Paramourtal 2 anthology will not be another installment bridging between my short story and my novel. For one, there’s no convincing “love story” between the two, because Aurelius is clearly still in love with Eleia in my novel, even after a century. The only story arc that I could submit is the romantic (and I use that term loosely here) history of Aurelius and Isadora, which is really more of a kinky, regrettable, torrid affair kind of thing. Not that it wouldn’t be awesome, because it would. It’s already awesome in my head. Trust.
         But it’s not what they are looking for, and I’m sad to say that people are sick to death of vampires now. Even I glance over the book racks at grocery stores and the like and think, “Dear gods, really? Another one?” What I have been trying (and obviously failing) to get agents to understand is that my novel is not a typical “paranormal romance” novel where the girl gets all flushy when the big, strapping vampire man comes around. Nor are there any sparkles. Anywhere. Period. That shit is just wrong.
         No, mine is more about the politics of the Vampire Realm, and the repercussions of hasty action. Yeah, there’s some sex thrown in there, because who over the age of 16 wants to read a story without sex? I mean, really. But I have strayed yet again from what I was writing about. What was I writing about…? Ah yes. My enormous slice of writer’s block.
         So after I dismissed the ‘interim’ piece for a submission, I thought about taking a chapter or two of what I have already done on “What We Hear”. However, the submission guidelines specify that the romance is to be between one male and one female. I’m not even going there with that, but I think it’s kinda wrong and limiting. Either way, that puts my lesbian medium story out of the running.
         So now what?
         I don’t want to write about other vampires – there are already too many of them running loose in my head, and I have trouble keeping up with them as it is. I don’t want to write about mediums or ghosts, because that belongs to said lesbian characters. And I really don’t want to do any zombie/lycanthrope/shapeshifter/overdone literary adaptation thing, either.
         What’s a girl to do?
         I think I’m simply going to have to create a new paranormal category, or write about an already existing but obscure one.

“Bigfoot Love”, anyone?


Didn’t think so. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A few questions for you all...ANSWER THEM!!! Um, please. ;0)

Hey! How’ve you been?

Not to sound like a Jewish mother or anything, but you don’t call…you don’t write… 

What’s that? Oh, that’s me. I see. In that case, let’s get on with it…

I have been in somewhat of a ‘creatively manic’ state lately. I’m not sure if it’s the fact I’ve been locked in the house with two small children day after day (Dear sweet baby Jesus, can you please make school start a week early? Sincerely, Rebecca), or if it’s the alternately groovy/soul-sucking meds they keep changing around on me. Either way, I have children’s books in the works, still shopping my novel Of Blood and Wine, still writing on What We Hear to turn it into a novel, have decided to start a darkly humored memoir, and am now considering yet another project.

Those of you who read this (and I love all four of you) are aware of my short story Of Fate and Fire that appeared in Paramourtal. It is what launched me into this writing hell career. Now it seems they have a new open call for submissions for Paramourtal 2, and I am seriously considering entering the fray.

Being that my novel includes the characters from the short story – albeit around 100 years later – I think I have decided to write an additional short story that tells something about the time between the two. If you didn’t follow that, don’t worry – I’ll make a diagram at the bottom. Actually, I’m lying. I can’t draw for shit. You’re on your own.

In addition to it being awesome because I’m writing it, the new story will explain a little about the tension between two main characters in the novel. So here’s my question for you folks… Should I do this as an ‘interim’ piece between the two I already have? Or should I go for something completely different this time?

 Your opinions are very valued, so please let me know what you think. Unless your opinion is stupid and doesn’t match mine, in which case I will pretend you were never born. And now back to me…

The thing I’m really excited about right now is the memoir project. I don’t even know if I should call it that, really. Memoir brings to mind pleasant memories, nostalgia, and making peace with what life has given you. Guys, I was a lesbian raised in the South by a Southern Baptist, right-wing family heavily involved in conservative politics. Ain’t none of that gooshy shit in there. It’s more the ‘laughing through the tears cuz’ damn your life was screwed up but you just made a joke about being dick-slapped by a monkey’ type of thing.

So here’s my other question… What should I call this new tome? The history of? The life and times of? Don’t try this shit at home? I’m open to suggestions on this one. No, really. I mean it this time. Okay, I kind of mean it.

Physically I am getting stronger every day. I have graduated to only using a quad cane most of the time, and my partner gleefully tells me I look like a giant toddler when I walk. Kind of makes me want to shit my pants just to prove a point, but let’s face it – we all know I’d be the one to clean that up.

I am still taking an exorbitant amount of meds which the docs keep changing weekly so that I feel a little like a monkey in a lab, which makes me want to throw said poo from said pants to prove another point. But I digress…

The important thing is that I am continuing to get better, and there are lots of surprises in store for me and for you guys just around the corner.

We’re talking life-changing shit here people. So please, hold the poo.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Well. That took longer than expected!

            April 11th, 2011.

            That was supposed to be a crazy, jacked up day of back surgery, leading to an equally jacked up (and painful) week of recovery and then a nice stroll back into normal life. Instead, that day threw my normal life on the ground, stomped the shit out of it, lit it on fire, and blew the ashes out the window.
            The first thing I remember after surgery is hearing someone screaming really, really loud. It was frickin annoying, and I kept trying to tell the nurses around me to shut her up, but I would pass out before I could get their attention. After a few rounds of this, I finally realized it was ME that was screaming. So much for a nice wake up call.

            It took them three hours to get my pain managed after I began waking up before they could move me out of the back recovery area (a.k.a The Place No One Can Hear You Scream) into the regular recovery area. At that point I was so exhausted and doped up, I don’t really remember much else until they moved me to a room.

            I was excited about this because it meant privacy and someplace people could visit me, but that excitement was tempered quickly by the realization that they put me in the completely wrong building in the wrong department on a floor where no one knew what to do with a spinal cord patient. So then my partner, my folks, and my doctor tore transport a new one, and I got another new room – this time in the right building.

            The trouble with all this moving was that I was still in excruciating pain – which was no meager feat, considering the amount of narcotics they had pumping through me would fell an elephant. Also, I couldn’t really breathe when I moved (later we would find out that was because I had pneumonia), and I was just starting to realize there was something funny going on with my legs.

            When I finally got to the Neuro Ward, they had to move me AGAIN, even after tearful begging and attempted bribery of the nurses on my part. Pain knows no shame, folks. So I let out a series of screams fit to bring down the house as they switched me to my new (and final, thank the gods) bed, shrieking that I couldn’t breathe once I had let all my air out. One of the more sarcastic nurses – who later was my favorite – informed me that if I truly could not breathe I would not be able to inform her that I could not breathe, so please just lie down and be quiet for a moment.

            Once I got settled, I began to try and get comfy, letting myself come out of the blissful narcotic haze for a bit. It was then that I realized there really was something very, very wrong with my body. I could not feel anything from mid-chest down, and I could move very little. Also, I had no idea where my feet or legs were unless I was looking right at them.

            That’s right – I was paralyzed. An “incomplete injury” they call it. Went in for spinal cord surgery to remove a small, benign tumor, and came out a paraplegic. That was SO not on my to-do list.

            The next few weeks were spent trying to cope with what had happened, dealing with horrible catheter and other medically necessary crap, an entire IV services department who couldn’t hit the broad side of a vein, and everyone around me crying when they thought I wasn’t looking.

            Eventually, I began to have some movement in my legs and feet, although not much feeling at all, and got transferred to a rehab facility. (Physical rehab, not Amy Winehouse rehab.) It was there I got stronger, mentally and physically, and there that I was surrounded by people who had it so much worse than I did.

There’s no better cure for self-pity than meeting an 18-year-old girl who had just lost complete use of her lower body for the rest of her life with no hope of recovering any part of it. From that viewpoint, things weren’t so bad in my corner.

            I went through Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Aquatic Therapy, Neuropsychological Therapy, and Recreational Therapy. They taught me how to live and work and cook and eat and just BE from ‘chair level’. That is how I went home, and how I remain at this moment.

            I will not sully my experience by telling you I’m doing just fine, because I’m not. I’m still angry, I’m still frustrated, and I’m still sad.

            But I’m also thankful. I can still hold my children. I can still sing them to sleep. My brain and wit and candor are all unaffected, if not improved. I know now whom I can trust as my friend and whom I cannot. I am reminded of just how very much my parents love and cherish me, and how everything small falls away in the face of something this big.

            And I am beyond grateful to have a partner that is willing to stick by me, to go and grow through this with me. Who is okay with loading up a wheelchair and two children every time we have to go somewhere; who is okay with having to switch roles and take on so much more than she ever expected; who is okay with realizing this could be for the rest of our lives. Or if she is not okay with it, she loves me enough to push through anyway, and that is even better.

            I have complete control of my upper body and my mind, and therefore am going to be right back on the writing as of now. I thank anyone who is reading this, and I hope to be providing much funnier and wittier stuff to you very soon.

            And by the way, if there is something unsaid or undone between you and someone you love, do it now. Say it now. Now may be all you have – trust me on this.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Rejection 101

  There is nothing in the world that can boost an author’s self-esteem like the 30-Second-Rejection Letter. Oh, you’re not familiar with it? Well, then. Let me educate you.

  You see, once you have spent well over a year of your time, blood, sweat, tears, and more bottles of wine than you can count finalizing a novel, it’s time to query. This involves looking up literary agents via painfully out-of-date databases on the web, researching their particular query requirements and/or methods, reformulating your query letter and/or manuscript to fit said definitions, and then submitting your stuff. Then you just sit back and wait for someone to email you back and say, “Oh my gods! You are so incredible! Really, the most intuitive and attention-grabbing author we have ever come across. We MUST have you!” Except that’s not what happens.

  Instead, you receive an infinite number of letters in return, all stating much the same thing – sorry, this just isn’t right for our agency right now, but best of luck to you. Now, most of these terribly uplifting letters come within days or weeks of submitting. Some never come at all, which leaves you to wonder whether they hated your story so much they couldn’t even bring themselves to answer the query, or they just simply overlooked it. I know the latter is probably never the case, but I always submit again. And again. (Nothing like stalker behavior to really get their attention!)

  But in some instances, you press the “Send” button, and mere seconds later a new email pops up in your inbox. “What’s this?” you say. Did I get the email address wrong? Do they employ psychics that already know how awesome I am and they’re offering me a deal on the spot? Sadly, no, little readers. What it is, in fact, is a 30-Second-Rejection Letter.

  That email that you agonized over, sweating over the verbiage and content – that traitorous little email ran smack into their server, hooked a left and came right back to you, picking up a rejection along the way. Never mind the fact that you spent an entire day writing and re-writing one sentence to make sure it conveyed the message you wanted. And forget all those nights that bled into morning while you fretted over the name for the housekeeper that only appears in one scene, or constructing the history of a character just so you can get their tone right. Thirty measly seconds is all they needed to know that you were not worth their time. 

  Here’s my problem with all that – most of these rejection letters have something in the body of the email alluding to the fact that my project looked interesting, or they enjoyed the chance to review it, etc. Now tell me, sweet readers, who the hell can enjoy anything in 30 seconds? (Okay, there are some things, but this isn’t one of those blogs.)

  This is my point – if you are going to reject me out of hand, without even seeing my proposal, then please use the appropriate wording in your letter. Something along the lines of, “We hated your name so much we didn’t even bother to open the email.” Or perhaps, “We only open five emails a day, and today wasn’t your day. Best of luck for tomorrow.” Or maybe even, “The name for your book already tells me what’s inside even though I have no idea what it’s really about and I’m going to just assume I do so I don’t have to actually read it.” And we all know what assuming does, don’t we little readers?

  I know these places are busy. I cannot imagine the amount of queries they have to go through on a daily basis. But if you’re going to turn around and brush me off in mere seconds, why not just say you’re not accepting queries at this moment? Honestly, I’d rather be slapped with a rotting monkey carcass than continue to receive these things. It’s terribly upsetting and a huge blow to my self-esteem. Luckily, I carry extra around because I’m so freakin’ awesome, so the low doesn’t last long.

  I have heard that Stephen King received more than 2,000 rejection letters before someone picked him up. Now, that both gives me hope and makes me want to choke my own self out. Because on the one hand, obviously it is a horribly tough industry to get your foot into, and if Stephen King had such a hard time, I should be patient and understand that’s just the business. On the other hand if STEPHEN-FRICKIN-KING got 2,000 rejection letters before getting picked up, I might need to get a day job. I mean, seriously – I’m good, but really? At least when he queried there wasn’t any email to worry about, meaning he never had to deal with the 30-Second-Rejection letter. Gotcha there, Steve-O.

  So here I sit, begging someone to see the awesomeness that is me and my writing, and offer me the world on a platter, millions of dollars, a movie deal, and a summer house in Greece.

  Or maybe, just a request for a manuscript review. Beggars can't be choosers. Even the awesome ones.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Cleaning Conundrum

  I want a maid. No, not for any sexy-time straight man fantasy play. I want a maid for MY greatest fantasy – someone to clean my friggin house. As I have noted before, housekeeping is not my forte. It’s not even my pianissimo. To say I don’t care for cleaning would be like saying the Radical Right gets a little fussy about gay marriage. I abhor it. I loathe it. I would rather be beaten about the face with by rotten-banana-wielding carrier monkeys. But alas, as my poor wife works terribly long hours and the children are even worse at cleaning than I am, the job falls to me. Which could be why it looks this way in my house all the time.
  In any case, I think someone should donate free house cleaning to me. Why? Because I’m awesome. I am a creative, wonderingly wonderful free spirit who cannot be contained by such horrid domesticity! Okay, okay. Because I’m broke. And I suck at cleaning. And I have one Melissa, two children and six animals to pick up after, which would give even Martha-frickin-Stewart a psychotic break. You’ve read my blog about the pop-tart incident, yes? Oh, you haven’t. Okay, then. Search the history. I’ll wait. No really – go read it. Yes, now. [insert Jeopardy music here]
  Oh, you’re back. Good. So now you see what I’m up against. Not only do my children leave little presents in the form of nose-nuggets on my walls, but my own partner (who I used to think was on my side) can drop an entire pop-tart into the couch cushions and not wonder where it went or if she should go after it.
  And to make matters worse, we have company coming to stay in two short weeks. I know that seems like plenty of time to get a house in order. But when you have nine living beings going right behind you to eff it all up, it becomes a circular task of the worst kind. Thankfully, the imminent visitor is an animal lover, and a multiple-animal owner, so she will undoubtedly understand if there is still fur on the furniture or a random hairball that we somehow missed because it blended with the carpet color. However, she does not have children, and I fear that the mess they create may send her screaming down the sidewalk and running to the nearest drug store for the Plan B pill, lesbian or not.
  My only hope is that I can find a way to restrain *ahem* distract the children long enough to get the bulk of the cleaning done, and then somehow locate the energy (read: coffee mainline) to run directly behind them for a few days and pick up everything they drop/wipe/cough up.
  Which brings me to the next issue compounding my distress – next week is Spring Break. I know this phrase is supposed to conjure wonderful, freeing, party pictures of college students drinking on the beach. But when you are a parent, all it conjures is whining, griping, begging, sibling rivalry, larger grocery bills, and an exponential increase in wall-wipings and laundry. Adding that to the imperative cleaning efforts honestly makes me want to give up and drown myself in a bathtub full of red wine.
  But as I mentioned, I am woefully, starving-artist-broke. So unless I want to lay face down in a shallow bowl of red wine (which would be all I could afford), I’m going to have to put on my big girl britches and deal with it. And in all reality, I would probably fail in my drowning efforts and end up spilling the shit all over the place, just making one more mess for me to clean up. I really don’t need that. Besides, wasting wine is an even graver sin than a dirty house around here.
  So remember me, little readers, when you come home to your quiet houses with their clean floors, tidy kitchens, and booger-free walls. And if any of you are feeling like you need to be giving to those less fortunate, I have a wonderful way for you to channel that energy. So grab some Zyrtec, a gas-mask, and a vial of penicillin. 
  I’ll be waiting for your call.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Following Folly

  So today I was showing a friend how to set up and use Twitter. Not the hardest thing, so while he was building his profile, I was reviewing and managing my own account on my computer. I scrolled through my “follows” and “following”, and then looked down to see what was listed today under “Who to Follow”.
  Usually this is someone really cool – a celebrity of some sort, perhaps, or an especially snarky blogger. But today? Oh, today, little reader. Today what was under that illustrious heading was…drum roll please………Weight Watchers.
  That’s right, even my Twitter thinks I could do with a few less donuts. Now as I have said before, I’m not the skinniest thing in the world. I could possibly even eat the skinniest thing in the world and not worry about indigestion. But neither am I stuck-in-the-house-cuz-I-can’t-get-my-fat-ass-out-the-door fat. Or even help-I-need-a-wench-to-get-in-my-car fat. I am medium build, with a little extra fluff – a voluptuous goddess. And I’m cool with it. Mostly because I like food, hate exercise, and my wife loves me just like I am. Oh, and pizza. There’s always pizza. But I digress.
  At first I was disheartened by this suggestion to follow the Leader of Less Poundage. Are there little Twitter gremlins staring out at me while I type? Watching me finish off that bag of Doritos? Do they know I went to Taco Bell twice in one day, simply because the children were in school and I could? I never dreamt the government would go this far.
  But then as I calmed down (with a bag of chips, no less), I realized that there probably were no little Twitter gremlins. That this was just some unhappy accident of randomness, and no one was watching me sneak the last bag of the children’s fruit snacks while they slept. Things do happen that way, of course, with no real pattern. Like teen pregnancy or reality television. I choose to believe that this was one of those occurrences, and just brush it off.
  But I’ll tell you right now, if there are any little Twitter gremlins lurking, chuckling as I reach for that pint of Ben & Jerry’s – I have a message for you…
  I am not afraid of you. And I bet you’re quite tasty with ranch. Bring it.