Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Common Sense Isn't So Common Anymore

What I'm Listening To: The Fray - Little House (Interesting note; this song inspired a really important plot point in Eden.)

What I'm Doing: Dying. TAT *headache* and getting ready to go to bed.

I randomly wandered over to blogger while wasting time (haven't written a thing today! DD8 I'm slipping!) and started reading through my watchlist, to see if anything interesting had been posted, and through a series of "So and so posted a fantastic article on such and such over at this blog today!" I found Alexander Field's blog. Two entries in, and I knew I had to follow him; he's very insightful and well spoken.

In the first post I found, he listed ten things NOT to do in your query letter, and while I was commenting on them, I said that when I first saw his list, I was afraid that I had/would commit most of them, but upon actually reading it, I realised that they were mostly common sense.

That's where the title of this post comes from; have you ever really looked around and noticed that these days? Common sense. Good ideas or thoughts or actions that are supposed to be common knowledge, such as looking both ways before crossing a street.

Yet I continually see the kids out front simply run back and forth with no regard to oncoming vehicles.

I'm sorry, I weigh less than three hundred pounds (by quite a large margin; you'll never get my true weight out me, however.) Those cars are upwards of one or two tons or more. They outweigh me by several thousand pounds and while the human body can take quite a lot of trauma, I'm rather inclined to keep it the way it is, thank you very much. I can also maneuver a little bit quicker than they can; if we don't see each other until they're almost on top of me, then it's quite a lot easier for me to fling myself backwards than it is for the car to fling itself backwards. But this may be just the way I was raised, which includes taking your hat off when you enter a building, and holding doors for people, which, while not common sense, belong to the equally rare and endangered category of common decency.

But I see a lot of the same axioms, maxims, and proverbs in my research for writing, as well as a hell of a lot of good advice. Three people tell me that a query letter isn't a post-it to your best friend on the fridge, it is a business letter. I think of it this way; if you won't go to a job interview in ripped jeans and a bikini top, don't be rude to the people you're trying to do business with. Their first impression of you is the query letter, and while there's pressure to make it good, it doesn't have to be a work of literary genius in and of itself. Tell them about your book. That's it. Make it interesting. That's it. Remain formal, and you're cool. The very idea that someone would write a lazy query (as in, "Sup dawg, so I wanchu to check out this piece of shit that I wrote last night when I was high.") is abhorrent to me. As is the fact that these people often send angry letters when they're rejected.

Dear agent,
I would like to submit for your perusing joy my novel A GIRL AND HER DOG.
It's about Little Lucy Lemon and her dog Snoopy.

And of course, any self respecting agent stops there and sends a form rejection, to which Little Lucy Lemon replies

ACK. GASP. SLDKGJ. That's like calling up the place you just interviewed with and telling them that you're going to blow the place up because they don't know what sort of fantastic worker they just turned down in favour of someone a little more sane.

Most people wouldn't do that. They wouldn't walk away from an interview in which they were rejected, then call them up and scream profanities at them. So it's completely beyond me why people would do that to agents. I think agents should have BOLOs for these sorts of people. Like, a whole interconnecting agent-link to which they can post "DO NOT ACCEPT A GIRL AND HER DOG FROM LUCY LEMON." and save themselves a whole lot of stress and trouble and angry tweeting.

Wow, I'm off-topic. XD I'm (in)famous for that on certain websites, in which 'off topic chatter' is unaccepted in the forums. This was originally meant to be a post about notable blogs I've found useful.

And this is in my head, so I can't possibly not say anything about it. I don't know who said this (I want to say Janet Reid at the Query Shark, but I don't know for sure.) about agents wanting something a touch personal in their queries and not To Whom It May Concern. They'll even take "Dear Reptilian Agent Standing Between Me And Fame" which just tickles me pink. And horrifies me at the same time.

What sort of maniacs out there saw that, and then promptly rewrote their query letter to say Dear Reptilian Agent...?

Anywho, onto the links!

Alexandra Sokoloff - I know I linked to her in my last post, but now you're honour-bound to check out her blog. She's the author of The Unseen, The Harrowing, and The Price, three horror/suspense novels, one of which won the Bram Stoker Award. I don't even have to know what they're about to be interested in them, just on the covers alone, but what really interests me are her posts on screenwriting tips for authors. Very, extraordinarily helpful collection of information there.

Editorial Anonymous - Editors seem to be more reclusive than agents, or maybe I'm just not looking hard enough. Anyway, the anonymous editor here generally posts helpful questions submitted to her as well as their answers, which can be a great help.

Editorial Ass - That's 'ass-istant', and she goes by the pseudonym Moonrat. Hysterically funny at times, she also posts words of wisdom as well as gems she finds in her inbox, and stories from her homelife. The most astonishing thing about Moonrat is that she's not much older than me; twenty four, twenty five at most. I had assumed she was at least in her thirties, possibly fourties. Very good reads in here, and she's very relatable-to. ... (hush, that's a word because I say it is.)

Miss Snark's First Victim - I'll be frank; she really intimidated me when I first found her blog. I'd heard rumours of Miss Snark, but I came onto the writing scene a couple of years after she stopped blogging, so I was never subjected to her full furious wrath. Not to mention she was posting contest-like things, Drop the Needle and the Secret Agent submissions. But Twitter and Facebook helped me out a lot, and now I recognise her blog for what it really is; a truly helpful tool, whose 'contests' (I realise they're not really, but I have a pounding headache in addition to it being one thirty in the morning, so excuse my lack of brain power for now.) are extraordinarily useful. Okay, so she tells funny stories, too. I may have a blogger-'type'.

The Query Shark - Is there anything more horrifying than the thought of someone ripping your query to pieces? Maybe someone ripping your novel to pieces. But also think about this from the agent's POV; she's got to sit and read through this crap every day. This is a fabulous, brave woman, who clearly has the patience of a saint to not be stark raving mad by now, dealing with the things she does. Some of the comments are amusing, and of course, the whole thing is geared towards helping you to write a better query.

The Blood-Red Pencil - This is one of the blogs I check religiously. I deliberately seek them out in my list, rather than just skimming the whole 'all blogs' thing. Absolutely amazing hints, tips, and tricks, with a healthy smattering of funny stories.

The Literary Lab - Another one I check religiously, for much of the same reasons as the Blood-Red Pencil. They're also full of really cool guest bloggers, who offer insights and insider's knowledge and general opinions not found anywhere else. Absolutely love this blog.

The Mystery and the Magic - Just found this one tonight; he's the one who prompted this whole blog post. I haven't read very far into his archives, but what I've seen so far, he promises to be just as inspiring and helpful as the others that I've listed here.

Okay. Now, I'm going to take seven or eight more aspirin and go to bed. TAT I have a small mouth anyway, and all my normal teeth plus four wisdom teeth (two on each side.) Since I don't have any sort of dental insurance, I have no way of taking care of this problem, and frequently, my teeth start shifting around as the wisdom teeth come in further, or move around, and this causes extreme pain that nothing but aspirin will take care of. Earlier, it hurt in three places; the bottom, near the front, the top near the front, and the top near the back. This meant that not only did my mouth hurt, but my chin, cheek, temple, and forehead hurt as well. Some unknown amount of aspirin later (I take them, they work, the pain comes back, I take more...) and I've got a pounding headache.

Also. We have three bearded dragons. (Really cute little lizards.) We feed them crickets at times.

They do not always eat all of the crickets at once.

There is one. ONE. cricket remaining, and it is silent all day. As soon as everyone else goes to bed, this fscker starts cricking as LOUDLY AS IS FREAKIN' POSSIBLE, and is NOT HELPING MY HEADACHE.

In a funnier story, we always assumed that we had two boys and a girl. They're all in separate terrariums, because the two boys would fight, and obviously, the girl couldn't be kept in with either of the boys because they would mate, and the girl came from the same clutch as one of the boys (making them essentially siblings. Inbred dragons. Can you imagine? XD)

Today, I noticed something strange in one of their cages (they are, in order from biggest to smallest, Draco, a boy, Gizmo, and Saphira, the girl.) It was in Gizmo's cage, and I happened to be walking past to do laundry.

There were several little white things littering the floor of the terrarium, so I waited until my stepmother came out of her room, and asked, "What's in Gizmo's cage?" and proceeded on my duty of laundry-switching.

I came out of the garage (where our dryer is) and she pointed at Gizmo's cage and shouted, "WE THOUGHT YOU WERE A BOY."

Gizmo laid eggs.

They're unfertilized, so we're not having baby dragons (but I still get to say we've got dragon eggs in our house. XD) but still. Our supposedly male dragon laid eggs. She/he acts like a male in all other respects; same mannerisms as Draco, although more mild, less inclined to asshattery (Draco is a pain in the BUTT. If anyone ever tells me 'lizards have no personality' I'm going to laugh in their faces. Our three have more personality than our dogs.)

Okay, anywho. Aspirin. Bed. Good night, all. ♥

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