Several stories in the works.

The status of my story pipeline.

Kittygirl: short story. outlined, needs title. This will be fun, Kittygirl is so adorable. I have to make sure the ice cream guy does not sound like John Glutt. I had called him the Brain Freezer, except the cartoon Johnny Test already used that, and used it wonderfully. I wonder if I can use Kittygirl? Not a big deal to change names. So far.

Super Sleeping Beauty: short story. Needs title. The draft is still pretty rough. Read some at an open mic tonight, it was a bit rough because the draft was rough. The moment I was done reading, I sat down in the coffee shop and cut out a redundant paragraph. One French kiss per story is plenty. The ending is shaping up nicely. I look forward to performing that. Holly goes from furious to tearful and to loving. Cal goes from apprehensive to heartbroken to joyful.

Super Bad Hair Day: Short story. The story is now in first person point of view and is done, done, done. But I need a description and the other items that I must enter when posting on Kindle and Smashwords. You know, the stuff that helps people stumble across the story and maybe buy the darn thing. This story really needs to be shoved online and off my plate. Maybe this should be on the top of this list. I really need another button you can click on to buy a Holly story.

Super-mansplaining: Short story. This is the story with the Karate Queen, based on Tina Gibson (black belt in karate, really!) from my writing club. Needs a rewrite so it will not be rejected by anyone ever again. Rewrite into First Person, although I will shift from Holly to Cal point of view at story end. It will actually be an easy shift.

The Comic Book Code: Novel. Remember that story? The novel that started this whole mess? I need to get back to work on it. I might try to cut down the outline again. And rewrite the prologue as per feedback from several good writers.

I’ll see how far I get in the next few days.

A little hero: Kittygirl?

As per my previous post, about the little girls in the audience:

I have not finished my latest short story, working title “Super Sleeping Beauty,” where the point of view character is Cal the Intellectual. I need to put final edits into my old barber story, which I rewrote to be in first person. And yet, I have started another story.

Kittygirl is a little girl with cat powers. I think she would be great for a short story. I imagine her saving Holly and others from an evil ice cream maker, the Brain Freezer (his evil laugh involves chattering teeth). Kittygirl could be immune to Brain Freezer’s ice cream due to her being lactose intolerant. The story is barely an outline right now. But I think Kittygirl might start using my brain as a scratching post.

Now I have to figure out her costume. I have written her wearing cat ears and gloves with authentic claws. But perhaps claws and cat ears would become part of her natural self after she gets powers, and thus she would not have a costume (maybe just a cape she can put on in a hurry). The main thing is that Kittygirl is a cute, sweet, and very brave little girl. One of the ladies in a critique group said she loved Kittygirl, “she’s such a cliche!” I wanted an adorable little girl who becomes Holly’s biggest fan.

I know my story will be better that the Catwoman movie. But Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels would be better also.

Little girls need superheroines!

Last week at the comic book shop, a tall handsome young man has his cute little daughter in tow. A polite, quiet girl with intelligent eyes. Her father said she had gotten good grades, and was getting some comic books as a reward.

But it was not easy. He had thought about some Wonder Woman comics, but the ones on the shelves were not really for little girls. Yes, he did the peoper thing and screened the comics for his little girl. There were some My Little Pony comics on some shelves near the front (it seems she asked about those). Along with several other more kid-friendly comics. But the vast majority of the comics in the shop were aimed at old farts like me!

Ms._Marvel_Vol_3_2_Molina_Variant_TextlessI should have pointed out another comic book from Marvel: Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan is a teenage girl who gets superpowers and tries to deal with them while hiding them from her jovial father and strict mother. It is one of my fave comics: funny and very down-to-Earth. Also written by a woman. That helps.

We need more supers for kids; someday, old guys like me will kick the bucket and we will need younger comic buyers. I’ll do my part. My superheroine Holly might help, but Holly is all grown up at about 25. (No, Hollywood, I will NOT turn Holly into a teenager, so if you ever discover Holly, don’t ask!) I have another character, Kitty Girl, who is an adorable little girl with cat powers, and is the leader of Holly’s fan club. But my stories are not comics, they are just text. For now.

P.S. The man and the girl were African-American. I know of no African-American little girls in comics, maybe some grown-up ones in grown-up comics that her daddy would likely screen out, and he’d probably be right. My Kitty Girl is no particular color for now, although a couple lady writers suggested asian. I hear the latest Annie in the movies will be black, but she won’t have superpowers! I want little girls to have superheroines!

The Rejection Generator!

At the San Mateo Country Fair Literary Arts Stage last Saturday, I went through the Rejection Generator. This software generates a rejection for the story you have not even written yet. See below:

“Dear Writer, And for your next trick, you’ll … what? Make a human turd turn into an ursine one? Create a maggot-vomiting cat? Do tell. We expect wonders. The Editors.”

How can I not love a rejection with cats, maggot, and vomit? Wow.

Who’s on first? Who’s on third? The reader should be, that’s who!

As in First Person instead of Third Person. As in writing, “My head hurt,” instead of, “Holly’s head hurt.” Which one makes you feel Holly’s pain? Question: Which one puts you in the driver’s seat? Answer: It hurts more if it is your head that hurts.

I have been working on my point of view (POV) in my writing. Point of view as in you see a novel chapter, or a short story, only from that character’s point of view. And I mean WORKING on it for the past several months. Last Saturday, I was at the San Mateo County Fair’s literary stage (check them out on Author Day on June 14 Saturday). I had some lady authors—Beth Barany, Laurel Anne Hill, and Sandra Saidak—briefly review the first chapter of my novel. Sandra laughed, Beth and Laurel were more serious. They were good critics. One big comment was that I should work on POV. For example, Laurel said, “Where is the narrator?” Beth said that we need Holly’s emotional reaction to a character’s artwork. (Alfred Hitchcock’s movies, Alfred said, were about evoking an emotional response. Strong POV is emotional.)

rivet-deep-povThe book “Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point Of View” by Jill Elizabeth Nelson discusses getting into the POV character’s head, even when you are writing third person. Lots of good advice in that book. It set me on the POV path.

But there is another way to get close POV. Write in first person. It forces you to get into the POV head and STAY THERE! So I will rewrite my short stories to be first person. Yes, even the bad hair day story, which really should have been on Amazon by now! I think the novel will still be in third person (as in close third, deep POV) because it will have more than one POV character. maybe I’ll write the novel chapters in first person, and then find and replace “I” with the name of the POV character.

Anyhow. I have been very bugged with how parts of my stories drifted out of the POV head and into the omniscient narrator cloud, and clouds don’t make for great reading. (Galactus was a cloud in the second Fantastic Four flick, and clouds make boring villains!) I want the first person trick to fasten me into the POV driver seat with thick seat belts. I want my readers to see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel, think, and get FURIOUS at what Holly does! (Or what Cal the Intellectual does, I have just started a new story with his POV.)

I am well into rewriting the bad hair day. I’ll see how it goes. (Yes, I saved the old copy!)

P.S. Tense? I use past tense. (Except for a few short sections in the novel, and that is for a very special reason.)

Is there room on the shelf for Holly?

author-training-manualI heard Nina Amir—motivational writing coach—speak at the South Bay Writers Club tonight. I bought her book, The Author Training Manual. Full of advice about finding the market for one’s book, creating a business plan, having a proper author attitude, and other stuff authors need to do other than write. Good advice for indie authors, I suspect.

But there was a time when I was not so sure. Years ago, at another writer get-together, Nina told me that if I want to write a book, I should decide on the market for the book. I had Bruce Campbell’s reaction, who said that “Writing movies for demographics is just Bulls**t!” I put it more politely, Nina being a nice lady.

But guess what. Nowadays, when I tell women that I am writing a superheroine, most tell me they love that idea, and a lot say they would love to see a Wonder Woman movie. (Which isn’t happening anytime soon.) I met a lady at a writer’s conference who was so starved for female heroes that they liked (SHUDDER!) the Catwoman movie. (But she did like the bit of a Holly story that she read, and gave me good writing advice.) Another woman at a writer’s panel at this year’s Baycon mentioned the movie Pacific Rim: she loved the female robot operator who gets only a couple of lines. Love in 30 seconds. And only 30 seconds.

The market has room for Holly. But I still ain’t changing Holly into a teenager. (Nina did not suggest that.)

The Wil Wheaton Project (or, I’m Sorry, Wesley!)


Wil Wheaton. Of The Big Bang Theory fame. And Stand by Me fame. And Just a Geek fame. And yes, Wesley Crusher fame. More on that last one later.

Wil has a new show: The Wil Wheaton Project, where he discusses (as in has a lot of geeky fun) with Sci-Fi, fantasy, and horror stuff. Watch it on SyFy. Or on your computer (not on my Hulu Plus yet, c’mon and get there already!).

Wil on the Dracula TV show making the first vampire an inventor: “I vant to light your bulbs!”

Wil used funky 70s porn music to spoof a scene of two Romans (or Greeks, or some guys taking off togas) bathing and saying the type of lines that Gore Vidal wrote in the 50s to imply guy-on-guy action when the camera panned away. I’ll have to take Wil’s word for that music, one of the many music genres I do not know. I assume the guys who made that movie (or TV?) scene now know what they are doing.

Will showed that the TV show Starcrossed did not understand how Walkie-Talkies work. Note to Hollywood’s teen-TV-show directors: when the guy you are talking to is less than three feet away, you do not use a Walkie-Talkie to talk to him.

(Sound effects: my voice goes Jack Nicholson Joker.) Where does Wil find those wonderful toys, I mean, those goofy cheap Sci-Fi movie clips? Like a tentacle rising out of a toilet and touching a guy in a bathroom, making the guy explode? Or a cell phone blue-lightning-zapping a guy in a church, making the guy explode? Or having a mob boss fire his handgun several times, then a batman-ripoff guys’s fist punches the boss from just off camera and from about two feet from the boss’s face, making his head explode? Okay, that mob boss did not explode, but he must have the worst aim in the entire multi-verse. Wil said, “That fist came from the same place that people are watching this film: nowhere.”

Wil raised his hand when he showed a clip of a woman from The Talk asking the geeks in her audience, “Would you have sex with a robot?” Wil then said, well, maybe third base. I would have said, is it a Tyra-Banks-Bot?

Wil knows geek stuff. Wil loves the good stuff and laughs at the bad stuff. Wil respects geeks. God, I love this guy. I am as gay for him as a straight white male geek can get. So I have to say something that I should have said years ago.

Wil, remember when I was chuckling nastily when both Captain Picard and Wil Riker said in unison to you (as Wesley Crusher), “Shut up, Wesley!” And do you remember years ago, when I paid a good comic book artist to draw a character based on you being punched out of the story by a Mr. Spock ripoff, and my Seven of Nine ripoff also used the shut up line, in my comic book story Strom Trek? (Which I still have not published anywhere, what’s wrong with me?) I say this now, I say it loud, and I say it from the bottom of my heart:

I’m sorry. (Sound effects: my voice goes Rudyard Kipling.) Tho’ I’ve belted you and flayed you, by the living gawd that made you, you’re a better geek than I am, Wil Wheaton!


My First Professional Rejection!

My story to Fault Zone was rejected. Harumph! Harumph! Harumph!

The Fault Zone editors gave a quick critique of my rejected story. That is much, much, MUCH better than empty silence! I hope they keep doing that. And I hope they do not mind that I critiqued their critique. I consider this my first professional rejection, and it is worth writing about.

The Hook.
Supply a hook at the start of the story? That’s good advice. I can supply a better taste of what is to come: a storyline about the irritations of mansplaining. That would be better than “The black and the blue raced to the rescue!”

We Want Information. Information. INFORMATION!
Let readers figure out on their own that this is a fruit-named computer company instead of saying it outright? That’s not so good advice, in my opinion. I want the time and location known immediately, so my first paragraph is “SEASIDE CITY, CALIFORNIA. THE APRICOT COMPUTER CAMPUS. THE PRESENTATION THEATER. A FRIDAY. 3:17 P.M.” Naturally, I will describe the location when my POV (point of view) character sees it. Alfred Hitchcock said his movies were not mysteries, which were about withholding information from the audience, but about giving information, as in there’s a bomb under the table. Also, this banner adds a comic book and cartoon flavor to my story. Others get it: at a workshop last Saturday, editor Charlotte Cook read the start of my story in the louder, slightly pompous tone that I adopt when I have read the banner-type opening of my stories at open mics. She GOT what I was doing.

Disjointed Prose.
They (or “I”) “found the prose disjointed and difficult to follow,” and then they did not say why? At Saturday’s workshop, a writer next to me read some of my story and liked it, but she pointed out exactly where she was confused about who was speaking and what was taking place. Them not giving an example of the problem made me wonder if they just did not like my style.

Sound Effects.
Forced sound effects should only be used in graphic presentations? No, I want a goofy comic book feel, an Adam West Batman sound. Sound effects words are words, why not use them in a prose story? Of course, a POW, THOOM, or SHUSH-SPLUT-SKAAAH (last one stolen from Don Martin) should not be overused, but sprinkled like a spice. And it had better be the right spice, cinnamon in spaghetti sauce would taste weird. Who knows, maybe I’ll change my mind later. But not today.

More Critique at a Writing Workshop
I printed and brought the story to a writing workshop last Saturday. Charlotte Cook, editor and former publisher, gave me some good advice when she read my story aloud to the workshop (she read several). I have been working on third person deep point of view. Charlotte mentioned close third person, and where I was not using it and thus pushing the reader away from the story. Telling instead of showing is generally a BIG NO-NO. She also pointed out my sentences that ran on too long. Readers should not gasp for air when they read. And she pointed out leading dependent clauses, which I should avoid. Like “Her red cape flapping, Holly flew over Cal and the charging ninjas.” Make the flapping cape its own sentence.

I am feeling better about my first professional rejection. I’ll wear it like a badge of honor. Or a T-shirt or underpants? I remember Isaac Asimov telling how he was with some writer friends, and he asked one of them how he handled rejection. The guy hemmed and hawed, and said he did not know, he had never had a rejection. Isaac said that it was only that this guy was a really nice guy that they did not kill him where he stood.

P.S. I still see myself as an indie author (Amazon, Smashwords, etc.), I do not ever see myself going to a New York publisher. I have thought about Sand Hill Press, or other small publishing house. I’ll see how the novel goes. For now, I get my short stories professionally polished and then I put them out for sale. Or for twisting in the wind.