Thursday, December 31, 2009

2010 Anti-Resolutions

Today is officially the last day of the year 2009. Some people are pulling out the party hats, hanging streamers and balloons, and maybe setting up some fireworks. Of course, I can't leave out the resolutions. I always make a few for the year and rarely ever keep them. So, I'm joining in the fun (as I hope you will to) and flipping the switch. Here are my anti-resolutions for the year 2010:

  • I will not fall in to the pit of social peer pressure or rejoice in the fad of jumping off of bridges for the sport of it.

  • I will not hire a man name Frankie Knuckles to retrieve the money my brother borrowed and refused to pay back.

  • I will not reconsider hiring Frankie Knuckles every time my brother talks his way back in to our house after being too lazy to live with yet another one of his friends.

  • I will not toss my 100 + book collection out the window to free up shelf space for my Precious Moments shrine.

  • I will not purchase a baseball bat via the internet to teach some people the vital lesson of noise pollution.

  • I will not stalk every yard sale in the city in an effort to find the prize object which will bring the annoyance and aggravation of a ghost moocher to my home just to have something personal to blog about.

  • I will not indulge in the simple mindedness of our neighbors who are banking on our dachshund impregnating theirs for their monetary pleasure.

  • I will not develop a marketing plan to sell our nine feet of snow to those few who have never seen a flake of it.

  • I will not indulge in tweeting every nanosecond of my new desk chairs existence for the mere fact he's just not that in to me and is here against his will.

  • I will not contemplate world domination just to prove to the Brain how four seasons of partnership with Pinky hurt his chances for success.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Year 2009 Review

2009 is coming to a fast close. Time to review my yearly progress. I have to say I did better than I thought I would.

Challenges: This year I participated in several writing/reading challenges.

Page-a-Day - this was a goal/challenge I set out to complete this year. The goal was to write a page-a-day everyday (except for one allotted day of rest) for the entire year. I recorded each day I wrote and it all added up to 159 days, a little over half a year. I guess that's better than nothing but will shoot for a full year in 2010.

AbDWriMo - February marked the month long Nano-like writing challenge for the website Authors By Design. The goal was to write 15,000 words in 28 days. I ended the month with 14,288.

Read 12 Books in 2009 - the purpose was to read 12 books cover to cover in the year 2009, signed up in February, and mine ended with 13 thanks to a book review I was asked to write (my reading list).

NaNoEdMo - With March came National Novel Editing Month. I finished surpassing the 50 hour requirement. Managed to edit four (finishing three) short stories: The Not Known, The List, Love and Lost, and A Tale of Two Sisters.

2nd AbDWriMo - this challenge was much like the first except half of it was writing and the other was editing. I wrote 14,605 words for the first half and didn't complete the editing portion. The site went down around this time and felt it didn't really matter, although it should have.

Website - Before Nano began, I updated my website. There are several features I haven't added yet but got the ball rolling in October.

NaBloPoMo - This challenge coincided with Nano. Post to your blog everyday for the entire month for a chance to win a prize. I set up my first Nano blog, Sinister Tales, and posted excerpts from my writing project everyday. Didn't win anything but still felt I accomplished something.

NaNoWriMo - This was the last challenge of the year and considered the biggest. 50K in 30 days. Completed with 53,736, especially proud of that.

Submissions/Rejections/Withdrawals/Contests: Not as many as I should have had

- I submitted three short shorts to Tweet the Meat. All ended in rejection. I also submitted to their contest and lost.

- Submitted a short story The Boy in the Book to Authors By Design Twisted Fairytale contest. Also didn't win.

- Submitted Blood Diary in December 2008 to Pseudopod and received a rejection in February.

- Withdrew Phantom House from a project Janrae Frank started Things are Not What They Seem Anthology after two years in limbo. I waited through all the ups and downs with this project but ultimately felt my little story wasn't getting anywhere.

- Submitted Sealed With Anguish to Fear and Trembling Mag. Ended in rejection.

-This acceptance was received last year but I received the finish project and my first writing "pay check" in January for Phantom House and Dark Sunset in the Authors By Design anthology.

I think I had a semi-productive writing year. All the challenges kept me writing/reading but didn't do as well when I was on my own. Along with the lack of submissions, I'm hoping to improve for 2010. Finish updating my website. Make out a list of magazines/ezines/anthologies/contests I want to submit to. Edit the pile of short stories I have laying around. Really get my stuff out there. Hopefully when December 2010 comes around, I will have more to show for it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Ghosts of Lone Jack - Review

Spinning Moon Press, April 2009
Paperback, 255 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9800369-0-9
Tweens 12 and up
Author Interview - Coming Soon
Ordering Information: | Time Bandit Books

What do you get when you mix a piece of American history, ghosts and children? The Ghosts of Lone Jack By: Lance Lee Noel.

Jared Milhouse spends what seems like a quiet summer at his grandfather’s farm in Lone Jack, Missouri. A chance encounter with a female spirit during the tail end of a baseball game changes his life forever. With the aid of his acquired new friends of the Crossroads Club, his dad, grandfather, two town eccentrics and a couple of amateur ghost hunters, he explores the story of one of the bloodiest battles in the Civil War and looks for the key to release the town from a decades old curse.

The Battle of Lone Jack was a very real conflict that took place on August 16, 1862. This being one of the most appealing aspects of this story. Another being the actual battlefield is reportedly haunted: phantom campfires, smells, voices and apparitions of Union/Rebel soldiers. I admire the author’s intentions with this novel. Use a real piece of history within a fictional plot as a teaching tool for kids. I liked the story premise. The protagonist, Jared, is a character kids can relate to. I think one of the major problems I had with it was the story structure. It could be a lot tighter than it is. It starts off a little slow. The descriptions are a little hit or miss at times. Slows the pacing of the story. When some of the characters go in to details about the battle, the regional dialect tends to get lost at times. I want to hear the story but have it sound like it’s actually coming from that character and not a historian.

Another problem is all the point of view transitions. The big action scene towards the end is all over the place. Definitely on the verge of confusion. One or two point of views would have been better than like five. Then there were the rookie mistakes: spelling, grammar, scene blocking, etc. All of which should have been taken care of during the editing phase. I think if the author took a bit more time with editing he could have made it so much better. The Battle of Lone Jack is a story worth telling but how you tell it is just as important, especially in this case as some of the proceeds are being donated to the Lone Jack Civil War Battlefield, Museum & Soldier’s Cemetery.

All in all, this is a book worth the purchase. Perhaps not written in the best of the author’s ability. But one kids will enjoy for the fruits of a ghost story and a history lesson blended together for their entertainment.

Monday, December 07, 2009

I'm Back...I think

So, I took the month off for National Novel Writing Month...sort of. I posted my write-ups via Write Anything. But let's face it. Four blogs is one too many especially when you're trying to keep up with the daily 1,667 word goal with the use of pen and paper. So here's the month in review:

Wrote. Wrote. Wrote. Slept an hour or two. Wrote some more. Pulled out a few handfuls of hair. Wrote again. Thought about tossing something out the window, leaned towards the novel. Wrote. Called off the "sacrificing computer" ceremony. Ultimately finished out the month with 53,736 words. Another successful Nano to add my belt.

Now in to December, I have a bit of good news and bad news. I'll hit you with the bad news first. My cat Garfield, the little monster...I mean angel of my life for the last seven or eight years, died early morning on December 1st. He had been sick for the last month or so. Didn't want him to die but I'm glad he isn't suffering anymore. Rest in Peace, old friend...

Now on to the good news. Despite saying they were going to stay for only a week, my brother and his girlfriend are moving out of our house several months after the fact. Finally, peace and quiet. Though I doubt it will last long. They'll screw up or run out of money and be back here sooner or later. There's always a reason. However, I'm going to enjoy the quiet for as long as I can.

Next, the wet news. Yes, I said wet. Early this morning, I had the pleasure of walking in on a little "spill" in the kitchen. I'm not exactly sure what happened but a leak was sprung in the kitchen. I stepped ankle deep in the pond rapidly forming on the tile. And one of our mats tried to make a break for it. Of course, I had to notify the warden of the situation and he was moved to a secure location for the time being. The water turned off under the sink and the pond sucked dry. Crisis adverted until it could be properly evaluated. I'll keep you updated when more details become available.

Last but most exciting, I'm hosting a contest at my other blog Ghost Stories. Offer up your opinion and you will be in the running for a $25 Amazon Gift Certificate! Check out the details.