Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A liberal environmentalist vegetarian memoir

There's been a discussion going in the MuseConference Yahoo! group about the tastefulness of this humorous story by Ben Greenman, "My Holocaust Memoir." Greenman's poking fun at all the hacks who are trying to cash in on the "fact" that holocaust memoirs are trendy. (Something I was not aware of.) In the discussion, my friend, Tanja Cilia commented: Ah, yes, but to grab our attention he chose the Holocaust, and not the mating habits of the lesser-spotted crested pink frog of Filfla...

...which, of course, inspired my own memoir. (Click on the link and read at least the first couple of paragraphs before reading mine.):

I was born in Seattle in 1989. Shortly afterward, in 1971, my entire family was rounded up by Greenpeace and sent to the Seakitten camp, along with tens of other liberal environmental vegetarians for world peace, who hailed principally from Southern California, Oregon and the Latte belt of Washington State, in order to study the mating habits of the lesser-spotted crested pink frog of Filfla. The first few days there, separated from civilization and McDonalds, denied even the most basic Value Meal, I was in a state of shock. I could hardly eat or sleep, and, to make matters worse, I had witnessed the actual mating ritual. I felt screwed. (This would not be the first time that a metaphor appeared in time to help make sense of a difficult situation.) As a teen in Chicago, I spoke about the ritual to everyone. Few understood my plight. Then I met a hot emo named Amalie. She was deathly ill-looking, but I could tell from her pierced eyes that she was kind, and the next week my appraisal was confirmed when she handed me a package wrapped in Kleenex.

It was a set of razor blades. Gillette, the best a man can get.

Whaddya think? Shall I finish it and send it to the New Yorker?

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Making Negative Press Positive

I have a book blog, VirtualBookTourdeNet, where I post a cover and short summary of books. I occasionally do interviews and reviews, but in general, it's just a simple way for folks to get their book out in the blogsphere, and for me to return the favor when someone posts about one of my books. It's drawn the attention of some publicity firms, so sometimes I get some pretty high-level books, too, which is neat.
This week, I toured "You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence, but You Can't Make Him Think" by Ray Comfort. In addition to the standard info, Ray provided a excerpt from his book, too. The next day, the blog got a comment linking to a video of Ray's "banana proof."

At first, I thought about deleting it--it really was kind of mean-spirited in its approach, and the video is obviously edited for parody--but instead, I passed it on to his publicist to see if Ray wanted to reply. A couple of days later, Ray (through his publicist) posted a very enlightening explanation about "That Dumb Video."

Regardless of your spiritual beliefs--or even what you think of Mr. Comfort's proofs, it's an excellent example of how negative press can actually become positive. Ray has given me permission to reprint that comment here:

For years I have held a coke can in one hand and a banana in the other, and compared the two (I have done this in Yale and other universities when I have spoken on the subject of atheism). Both have a tab at the top. The banana has a wrapper with perforations, is biodegradable, has outward indicators of inward contents--green too early, yellow, just right, black--too late, etc. It was a parody; the point being, if someone designed the coke can then obviously Someone designed the banana.

I put it into a booklet form ("The Atheist Test") and sold over a million copies. Then Kirk Cameron and I put it into our TV program. However, atheists removed the coke can, and sent the clip all over the Internet, saying "Ray Comfort believes that the banana is proof of God's existence." They really made a monkey out of me. I became the laughingstock of atheists all over the atheist world . It was very embarrassing. The below is typical (PZ Myers is a biologist/atheist):

"The banana man thinks he's got atheists on the run. Category: Creationism • Kooks: Ray Comfort has a new site, It's a series of short pages which consist mainly of plugs for some bad books he is peddling, with a few paragraphs in which he announces a few of his misconceptions about atheism, with the air of one who has trounced every objection. It really is as bad as his pathetic blog."

But here's the amazing irony. Atheists have unwittingly given me a huge international platform. I was interviewed more than 80 times about my new book--including the BBC (worldwide) and The Alan Colmes Show. You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can't Make Him Think, rocketed up the rankings on its first day of release, moving from No. 69,572 to No. 38 in 24 hours. The book was also the No. 1 book in the categories of religion and atheism on “Darwin Day,” bumping Richard Dawkin’s famous book. Secular radio stations have been extending the length of their interviews because there was such interest in the shows. I have started a daily column for a secular site called ( in which I am called their "National Creation Examiner." They have thousands of "Examiners" but it seems that (for some unknown reason) quite a few are interested in my column. In the first week, the national average page views for all the Examiners was 2,141. My column was viewed an incredible 12,125 times! So this is a wonderful opportunity to take the gospel to those who normally wouldn't darken the door of a church. Each time the column is viewed, one penny is donated to Children's Hunger Fund (I had them donate it to them). Please feel free to check it out regularly, and at the same time help to feed a hungry child.

I never thought that I would have ever thank God for that dumb banana video, but I truly do. What was intended by atheists for evil, God has turned out for the good.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Novel's Journey: the Little ReWrite That Grew

2009 has been a flurry of conferences, outside opportunities (i.e. non-writing work), sick family members and things I keep forgetting. I find myself dreaming of an author's getaway. A little hotel room. No internet, no kids, nothing but me and my current WIP. Unfortunately, neither my finances nor my life are suited for such luxuries.

I sure could us it, though. Discovery is giving me fits. I have made one important discovery with it: re-writing a NaNoWriMo draft is not as easy as it looks.

I loved this story when I wrote it in the flurry of a November. I still love the idea, and some of the scenes are terrific. However, I'm finding that there's waaaay too much talking, explaining, rehashing... A couple of the characters have told me their motivations, but like bad actors, appear cardboard in the text.

So the process has literally been write a great scene, rip out a bad one. In four months, I've only progressed 10,000 words. (Consider my usual modus operandi is to write a complete novel in 6 weeks.) I approach the document with dread and moan or snarl as I read the stuff I thought was so clever only three years ago.

So why am I bothering? Why put off my DragonEye novels (GapMan, and Damsels and Knights) to do this? Because there's a story in there--a great story. A story about finding love that transcends romance and living a good life that does more than follow the rules. Sister Rita and James, Chris and Andy, Sister Ann and Sister Tommie are wonderful characters. I want to tell their story.

Wish I could get them all alone in a hotel for a week so we could hammer it out. But it looks like I'll just have to take it one scene at a time.

Magic, Mensa and Mayhem update: Got the colored in cover art. Vern is the wrong color, so I sent a picture of the shades I imagined.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

True Love--Faerie and Mundane Style

In honor of Valentine's day, I have two stories to share.

For True Love, Faerie Style, I wrote a funny little story about Cupid's "rampage" on the Los Lagos Mall. Please go on over to DragonEye, PI and check it out!

For True Love--Mundane, I'd like to share this story: Scientists: True love can last a lifetime. Rob and I certainly believe this!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Conventions and Cover art

The Catholic Writers Conference Online was a spectacular success! We had 283 attendees, 48 one-hour chat presentations, 12 week-long forum workshops, 37 pitches given to six publishers and more kudos than I counted. Here's what some folks said:

This is a great conference. It's easy to navigate and your detailed instructions are the best. The downloadable handouts and docs are so easy also. The workshops I've been in are packed with such useful information. I give it an A+.
---Karen Coiff

Great job to all who put this together. The exposure to fellow writers and pros in the field has been immensely positive and helpful to me! I've been amazed at the wealth of information and knowledge available. And to think I didn't have to leave my home! I look forward to next time. Thank you so very much and may God bless you all.
---Katherine Shine

Congratulations on this year's conference. I thought it was very well done. A lot of worthwhile information. You are providing a wonderful service for many, many people.
---Jackie Lindsey, Our Sunday Visitor

We're already hard at work on the Catholic Writers Conference--Live! set for August 5-7. The 2010 CWCO will be Feb 22-27.

Roe has sent the cover sketch for Magic, Mensa and Mayhem! Isn't it a hoot?

I'm still not totally happy with Vern's face, but I think it's the angle more than anything. Roe certainly listened to my concerns about Coyote-what a difference! He's inking now. I'm dying to see the finished product! The back will have an endorsement from Jody Lynn Nye and a quip from the Publisher's Weekly review. (More on that later; publisher asked me to hold it until late Feb.)

Monday, February 09, 2009

More workshop fun

An update: Got the cover sketch from Roe. I am soooo excited! It's a fun cover--basically the characters gathered for a group shot in front of the Citrus Stars hotel. It was just an outline sketch, though, so I'm not posting it, though.

Last day of the conference is today. I've ahd a terrific time, but am suffering from BICHOK. (Butt in chair, hands on keyboard) Last night, I actually sat on an ice pack, that's how sore I am from sitting. If I ever have to do a story with a character on bedrest, I can now relate.I'm actually reclined on the couch today. Thursday, I'll try to give you some stats of the conference.

Devon's Dialogue workshop was, once again, one of the most fun for me. I used it to work on some scenes for the next DragonEye story, GapMan! Here's a snippet:

Ronnie set his elbows on the railing beside him. The scaffolding creaked at the change in weight, but he ignored it, intent on the scene below.

Captain Infinity had delivered the usual lines of "You fiend! You won't get away with this" and received the obligatory punch in the gut from a stocky dwarf minion--Kent, Ronnie realized. Hawgin threw back his head and laughed.

His voice rose. "Show him what awaits his secret beloved!" The minion fangirls bowed and rushed off, stage left. Moments later, a squad of pixies flew in. Ronnie squinted at them.

"Are they glowing?"

Goldleaf's sigh was half groan. "That's the Tweet Troupe. Studied Mundane method acting. Graduates of the 'They Were Discovered' Complete Video Course for the Aspiring Thespian."

"Is the glowing magic, then?"

"Uh, no. Radioactivity."

"For real?"

Goldleaf shrugged. "They snuck through the reactor in Los Lagos. Don't ask me how. They take their art very seriously."

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Why I love Workshops

By far the most popular part of the Catholic Writers Conference Online has been the chats. We have experts from all areas of publishing come and chat for an hour, giving mini-lessons and taking questions. I usually end up transcribing them for our e-book. (BTW--If you couldn't make the conference and want to purchase the e-book, it's available for a $20 donation to the CWCO. CWCO is part of CWG, a non-profit, so you can count it as a charity or as a business expense!)

For me, however, the week-long workshops are far more useful. I love being able to put the learning into practice, and I always come away with great stuff. Monday, I shared a scene I came up with in Devon Ellington's Dialog class. Today, I want to show you the difference a few tips from Kim Richards made to a scene in Discovery that I truly hated:

OLD: James managed to make it to the auditorium as the last of the stragglers were coming in. About half of the researchers had decided to come to the briefing. Some wanted to see the images of the alien ship again. Some were curious to see the miner's reactions. He noticed that they all took spots opposite the Rocky Flat's team, who had taken position in a lopsided semi-circle around Hayden and his senior staff, forming their own island of humanity among the dark, empty seats.

Hayden sat in the front row, Captain Addiman to his left and Andy to his right; then Sister Ann, Sister Thomas, and Rita. After Rita, the row sat empty, as did the seats behind her. He watched as she gave the empty seats a seemingly incurious look. He knew she recognized the barrier.

She knows all about barriers
, he thought, surprised at the bitterness of his inner voice. Then again, she'd put a barrier between them half the size of the solar system. Why couldn't she just tell me?

NEW: James managed to make it to the auditorium as the last of the stragglers were coming in. The fifteen or so researchers that crowded together at one side. Some leaned forward, hungry eyes on the blank viewscreen. More were nudging each other and looking at the Rocky Flats mining team. The miners had created their own island of humanity on the opposite side of the auditorium, chattering amongst themselves, ignoring the researchers. Hayden, his senior staff and the Rescue Sisters stretched between the groups like an incomplete bridge.

Rita formed the last bit of that bridge. She gave the empty seats around her an incurious look, but James knew she recognized the invisible barrier they formed.

She knows all about barriers,
he thought, surprised at the bitterness of his inner voice. Then again, she'd put a barrier between them half the size of the solar system. Why couldn't she just tell me?

I hope some of you will be able to make it to an writers conference, on- or off-line. They really are worth the time.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

CWCO: Workshop assignment

What a day yesterday was at the Catholic Writers Conference Online! Eleven hours of informative chats on everything from generating ideas to polishing manuscripts. We have seven more to go!

I was up until 1:30 working on the homework in the forums workshops. Those really are my fave, because I get to practice my skills. Devon Ellington always has a fun dialogue workshop. I'm using it to generate ideas for the next DragonEye, PI novel, GapMan! Thought you'd like the snippet:

Assignment: Two characters are traveling. As they do, they discuss a situation, and a third person.

With a moan and an arthritic grinding of gears, the conveyor belt started moving. The gaps and hills made by the rollers beneath her caused her to bump up and down.
Kitty tugged and pulled at the cords that held her bound. She kicked her legs, trying to pull free of the bond that held her ankles together, and caught her heel on the rubber of the conveyor belt. She snarled in frustration, went back to twisting her hands--

"Would you stop? You're poking my back!"

She turned her head to snarl at her fellow captive. "Well, do something, GapMan! Snap the bonds. Fly us out of here. Something!"

"You think I haven't tried? I can't. The bonds are made of Faeriemet."

"Like kryptonite. Great!" Kitty groaned with despair, then with pain as she threw her head back, whacking the back of his. "Who thinks to make a cable out of Faeriemet?"

"I dunno--maybe someone who's read your interview? I thought that was off the record."

"Oh, so this is my fault now?'

"Now that you mention it."

"Look! I was just doing my job--"

"Gee, me, too. Look where that got us."

She dug her heels into the rubber and tried to pull herself forward against the motion of the conveyor. The ropes dug into her chest as the weight behind her didn't budge.

"Help me!"

"What do you think I was trying to do! But would you follow me to safety? 'Just a few more minutes. Let's see what's behind that door.'" His voice went high and twisty in a nasty parody of hers. "Any more brilliant suggestions?"

"I don't think you're properly motivated!"

GapMan barked a most unheroic laugh. "Motivated? Who's the one facing the incinerator? What else did you write?"


"What else did you write? Am I going to find a picture of myself in Faerie-Mundane Quarterly? The sequel to 'I dated a Faerie Dragon'?"

"Could we talk about this another time?"

An increase in pitch in the engines.

"It's speeding up!" Her voice wobbled in time with the bumping of her tailbone on the belt. She twisted and pulled, trying to drag him with her. They wobbled toward the edge.

"Stop it! That's a 30-foot drop!"

"Better than burning to death!"

"He was right about you, you know!"


"Vern!" his shout echoed across the abandoned factory.

Hers was nearly as loud. "You've been talking to me about Vern?"

"No, you idiot! I'm calling for help. Vern! Help us!"

"NO! Not him, not!" She twisted, caught a glimpse of the glowing Destination of Death, shrieked through her teeth. Slamming her heels against the conveyor belt more in tantrum in terror, she screwed up her face and screamed, "Vern!"