October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

©Joyce Stevens, 2006
Happy Halloween!
From: Free Pecan Pie and Other Chick Stories:

Wanda, the Wicked Writer of the Northwest
by Janelle Meraz Hooper

Wanda never went to the mailbox without her baseball bat. For every rejection she found, she gave the box one whack. Of course, this scared the bats that lived in the box’s belfry silly, but Wanda was always so angry that she didn’t notice.
Back inside her house, Wanda meticulously filed away each rejection. The rejected stories about gardening she kept neatly stacked under a leaky flowerpot. The children’s stories she filed in the bottom of her bird’s cage, and the novel rejections she filled at the bottom of her cat’s litter box.
Wanda was especially chagrined at the rejection of her latest 500,000-word novel. What were they thinking? It had a plot and everything! Actually, it had several plots—it was about a gravedigger who was afraid of dirt.
Other stories were rejected because they didn’t follow required format. Format, smormat! So what if the stories weren’t double-spaced? So what if she used the Rave font instead of Times Roman? So what if she didn’t include a SASE? One story was returned because she didn’t put any postage on it. The nerve.
They had to be punished. The whole lot. Publishers. Agents. Newspaper editors. All of them.
The ticked witch went to her kitchen and whipped up a batch of special candy for the rejectors. She’d show them to have a little respect. She filled her black kettle with a recipe of special hard candies that turned into wiggling slugs when they were sucked on.
After the candies were wrapped in Halloween paper, she put them into a tote bag and took off for New York. Thanks to her new 300 high-speed broom, she was able to zip in and out of each office without being seen.
Back home, Wanda poured a glass of wine and lit the candle in her Halloween pumpkin. Then she turned on CNN and waited patiently for the story to break. Soon, all over the city there were reports of people in the writing businesses choking on slugs. Oh, they just choked a little—they didn’t die. And how those slugs loved to sing! When they were spat out, they stood up and sang in a perfect imitation of Aretha Franklin: R-E-S-P-E-C-T! (Find out what it means to me…take care of TCB!)
Wanda put out the cat and turned out the lights. Tomorrow, she’d start a new novel. This one would be really big.

Custer and His Naked Ladies- Order now from your favorite bookstore! Distributed by Ingram, Baker & Taylor and others…

Quote du jour:
“Where there is no imagination there is no horror.”
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, courtesy of Halloween Sayings.com

October 28, 2007

Who was King Ubu?

©Joyce Stevens, 2006
Two days left until Halloween!
10-28-07- Custer and His Naked Ladies is in! Order your copy today at your favorite Internet or walk-in bookstore!
Email* me your name and address and I'll send you an autographed bookmark! *JanelleMHooper@comcast.net
Writing tips-
Files- when I was in high school and college, I used to keep cards on each book that I read with the idea that I could refer back to them years later and use the notes for research. I found that stack of cards tonight at the bottom of a desk drawer. The list of books that I read was impressive for an Oklahoma hick, but, alas, my notes turned out to be childish and useless. But you try it. You’ll be better at it than I was, for sure. But me, I’m still strying to figure out why I wrote six cards on a book called King Ubu. And how could I have read so many books and still not had a clue about what was bothering the main character in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises?
Green writing- Save yourself! Get the artificial air fresheners out of your office. they are unhealthy, and goodness knows, writers seem to be sick enough without any extra help.
Who knew?- I learned a lot from BBC this weekend. I’ve been a fan of the Internet and computers for years. I do a lot of my research on the Internet. I play. I communicate. But this weekend, I learned how magical the Internet is. My Space? Utube? Phish…they’re small potatoes.
The BBC says that the Internet has given tortured people all over the world a way to instantly notify the world of their unjust treatment.
No one can stop the Internet. No permission is needed to use it. It’s free. Now, stonings in Iran are no longer a secret. The government can deny them all they want, but the film is there for all of us to see. Atrocities in Darfur are posted around the globe in real time. Anything that happens in Afghanistan is front screen news.
Where are the people in these mostly poor nations getting computers? They don’t need laptops—they are using their cell phones. Think of it: sending world-changing evidence in text and film with a tiny cell phone. In our prayers for peace and justice, did we ever dream that the answer to our prayers would be delivered by a cell phone just like the one we forget to charge half the time?
I still don’t know how some of these people are charging their batteries, but maybe the BBC will tell us that next week.
Quote du jour:
"Do not wait for leaders. Do it alone. Person to person." Mother Teresa

October 26, 2007

Writers, trained seals, and clowns

©Joyce Stevens, 2006
Four days until Halloween!
10-26-07- Custer and His Naked Ladies is available now on my book website from the publisher. I have no books of my own yet—it could be weeks. Those of you who have pre-ordered will get an autographed copy that should bring you more money when you resell it on Ebay! Someone told me once that bids were up to $60.00 on Ebay for my first novel, A Three-Turtle Summer ( I never saw it myself). How strange is that? To whoever bought that book I have one thing to say: www.JanelleMerazHooper.com ! Geez!
Writing tip- Talk less, listen more.

Writing green- Think green whenever you purchase carpets and furniture for yur office. There’s a carpet company now that will take back its carpet tiles and recycle them when you get tired of them. How cool is that? New hardwood floors? Think bamboo…it’s very eco-friendly and economical.
Quote du jour:
“Writers are a little below clowns and a little above trained seals.” John Steinbeck

October 22, 2007

"Shall we dance?"

© Joyce Stevens, 2006
8 Days until Halloween!

10-19-07- We don’t celebrate Halloween like we used to. Kids don’t stop by anymore because the schools and malls have organized events with enough candy to make Willie Wonka envious. It’s just as well. It’s a lot safer. But I do miss the little tykes.

Custer and His Naked Ladies- I noticed over the weekend that my new novel is listed at the iUniverse bookstore. All of the information isn’t up yet, but the book can be ordered, I think. It’ll take a month or so before it gets listed on the other sites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.).

Writing tips- Don’t worry so much about getting published—first, concentrate on writing the very best book you can. Write it…then rewrite it. Then, sit on it awhile and rewrite it again.

Writing green- I heard over the weekend that Duracell has a rechargable battery system now. I’ve been leery about trusting some of my equipment to the other brands. I’ll look into Duracell’s product. Everything I have (cameras, camcorders, audio equipment, computer mouse) uses batteries.

Quote du jour:
“Shall we dance?” Anna, from the movie The King and I
Deborah Kerr 1921-2007 Thanks, Deborah.

October 18, 2007

"I like your mask!"

©Joyce Stevens, 2006
12 days until Halloween!

10-18-07- I’m expecting high winds to shut me down today, so I’m writing fast!

Writers’ Tips-

1. The standard page setup for story submissions to magazines is 12 pt. Times or Times Roman, double-spaced, with one-inch margins. Unless you are asked to do otherwise, use these guidelines. Resist using a cool font. Your submission will end up in the round file (garbage!).

2. Check each story for "which" and "that." A lot of sentences that use "which" should be changed to "that."

3. If you’re using historical information from the library for your research, scan the important parts before you turn the materials back in. I learned this the hard way. When I went to my library to check out an old book that I'd decided I wasn’t done with, It was gone. It had been stolen!

Writing green-

Make a habit of turning your equipment off at the end of your day.

Recycle paper as much as possible.

I know, this is boring stuff, but it will help!

Quote du jour:
“I like your mask!” A little kid said to my mother---she wasn’t wearing one!

October 17, 2007

Halloween countdown: 13 days away

© Joyce Stevens
13 days until Halloween!
10-17-07- My friend, Joyce, made the Wheelchair Witch for me. She is really an artist. The faces on her sculptures are priceless!
Custer and His Naked Ladies- It's about two weeks away, from what I hear.
Writing tips-
Christmas projects- If you’re planning on doing a writing project for Christmas gifts, the time to start was three weeks ago—get on it!
Are you writing in email?- Email shortcuts can creep into your formal writing if you’re not careful. What may be acceptible in an email could be totally inappropriate in a formal letter.
Green writer- I like to edit on paper, as my eyesight is poor. That can mean a lot of printouts over the course of a book. Lately, I’ve been printing in draft. There’s not that much difference in appearance, and think of the ink I’m saving! Oh! Don’t forget to change the settings back to normal before you do the final print-out! Hey! With the news about printing inks being unhealthy to breathe, the draft setting may even be better for you. I just had a thought: How many of us run our printer while a child is in the room? Maybe it’s time to rethink that practice. And open a window!
Quote du jour:

“Men get pearls from oysters; women get diamonds from nuts.” The Cowboy and the Girl , song from old movie, unknown (I'm researching it).

October 16, 2007

More writing tips...

Another one of my ponchos, JMH
10-16-07- I can't remember now which ponchos I've posted, and which ones I haven't. I'll go back and look.

Writer tips- Do you want to write? Really? Having the desire to write involves setting aside time to do it, and not being sidetracked by what's on TV, your friends, or the mall. Notice, I didn't add children to this list--that's because I firmly believe that our children are our most important product, and the little angels require a lot of time. It helps if they understand what you're doing and support your endeavors. Get them, and your husband, on board when you make out your writing schedule.

Green writer- It is not necessary to print out every message you're sent--make a folder and back it up on CD. Now they're saying that breathing the air around some printers while it is printing isn't even healthy, and can be as bad as secondhand smoke.

Quote du jour:
"Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind." Rudyard Kipling, courtesy of The Quote Geek

October 15, 2007

Be a green writer

Alaskan native cemetary, JMH

10-15-07-I've never been the type of Halloween enthusiast who relished the gore of the celebration. This photo is much more my style. Of course, you know that the ground is frozen in the winter, so burial is above ground sometimes. Some natives used to stuff the deceased relatives with straw, dress them, and prop them up in the corner of their home until they could be buried. I think it has been years since this practice was prevalent. I used a similar idea in my newest book, Custer and His Naked Ladies, except I didn't use real bodies.

Tips on writing- I'm often asked how to be a novelist and make a million bucks. Well, they don't really say the million bucks part, but that's what most of them are thinking. And who can blame them? A few really talented writers--I call them members of The Cussler Club--really do make millions. But let's assume most of us will be very good, but not richly rewarded writers. What about us?

1. Don't quit your day job. Having a regular paycheck coming in every payday is a great stress reliever. Nothing kills the creative urge more than hearing a stomach growl. Especially if it isn't yours.

2. Read everything that applies to your favorite subjects.

3. Learn to love rewriting. Few of us get it right the first time.

4. Stay in shape. Do what you can do (ask your doctor about this). It takes a lot of energy to write, a fact that is not largely known.

More to come...

Green writer-You may think there is not much a writer can do to be green. Interestingly enough, you may already be doing some of it--for instance, if your morning commute is to your office that is really one of the bedrooms of your home, you're already green!

The biggie: Please, please, recycle your computer in an environmentally safe manner. Each area has its approved system. Check it out.

More to come...

Quote du jour:

"Garbage in, garbage out." Computer saying,anonymous.

October 11, 2007

A writer in the house, part 4

photo by JMH

Spiders-I have issues with spiders. The photo above was taken in the mountains with an Instamatic years ago. I have no issues with him--he was cool. He's blurry because I kept my distance! I do love his black and white legs.
The spiders I have issues with are the ones in my house. Like the one who crawled into my laptop recently to keep warm and left a pile of questionable material on my keyboard. I preferred to think they were eggs, but I wasn't sure. Then there was the spider that bit me in the middle of the night. I think he was a Shakespeare lover because he definitely took a pound of flesh. No kidding, the bite swelled to the size of a slice of bacon. This event happened on June 11th, and I still have a lump the size of a marble under my skin.
Even though I never saw him, I got on the net to see just what kind of spiders we have here in Washington State. Answer: too many! Now, I was supposed to be writing but I indulged myself because I thought it could be a matter of life and death, and I'd always planned to have a classier exit from this planet...like maybe being run over by a truck carrying my new best-selling novel to our local Borders. (now that's a run-on sentence to take to show and tell).
As it turns out, all of the experts (they have a fancy name, but we won't go there) who write sites about spiders are nuts. One actually said that capturing the spider and releasing it outdoors may not be the best thing for the spider. Oh. He might prefer a flushing toilet? The bottom of my shoe? Just what was I supposed to do with this spider if I ever caught him, offer him a nice warm pocket in one of my winter coats? What?
What's next?- Speaking of novels, readers are wondering what's next? Well, Custer was my last novel set in the Southwest. I'm now working on a story set in the Northwest, where I live now. It's funny. It's sexy. And I have no idea how I'm going to break it to my husband that I've gone over to the smooch side. I predict he'll be appalled. I'll try to explain to him that my characters stopped following my outline and went on their own Yellow Brick Road to a place called, Get Real, Lady. It's time for me to grow up. My readers have.
I'm out of time. No time to edit. Feel free to make up your own quote and email it to me! (janellemhooper@comcast.net).

October 08, 2007

Stag 1-writer 0

©Janelle Meraz Hooper
10-08-07- I am a writer, part three. As a small niche writer (no agent, no advance, no mainstream publisher*) I do it all myself. I do my own research, develop my own plots, write my books (no co-authors here—don’t you hate it when you buy a book and find out it was co-authored? I do.), and market them. The marketing is labor intensive because I do my own letterhead, labels, business cards, bookmarks, etc. Everything, except the cover. This time I got smart and let Reflection Studios in Puyallup do the cover. It was a good choice. The cover is gorgeous! I’ve been asked why there are flowers on the cover and what does that have to do with naked ladies? Well…there’s more than one kind of naked lady. * What I do have is several very nice fiction awards.
My deer trap- My stag deer was never tempted by my red apple. I guess he is busy with his ladies down the street. This photo is from last year. I’m sure the rack has grown by now.
Quote du jour-
"Yes, it's hard to write, but it's harder not to." Carl Van Doren

October 05, 2007

I am a writer, part two

My deer trap
10-05-07-So, as I was saying yesterday, I'm a writer. More to the point, I'm a small niche writer. To those of you who don't know what a small niche writer is, it means I write for the love of telling stories, not for the huge advance. Not that I'd turn money down (I'm not dumb!), but when I looked in my mailbox and saw that it was empty over ten years ago, I decided to write anyway. I've never stopped.
I seldom go out because for me to leave the house and find a parking spot anywhere, I have to give up three hours of my day. That's another thing I'm not: I'm not one of those writers who can stay up all night and write. All I've turned out late at night is a bunch of stuff a bird wouldn't read if it were on the bottom of its cage. Nope, right around nine, I'm in bed. I write from about 8-12 PM, then I eat lunch, do other writing chores, and visit with friends.
So you're wondering, so what is the photo of the apple tree about? I'm ready to tell you: because I work at home I have a lot of time to play, and I have a very whimsical personality.
The apple tree is one of my tricks to get a good picture of the big stag that lives near my pasture. Every year, he eats the apples off my tree and every year I try to catch him at it so I can get his picture. The one red apple was left in just the right spot to get a good photo of the rack on this guy...I hope.
Another thing I do for fun is to set up book titles around the house and wait for someone in the family to spot them. They never do. What are they thinking? Once, I had a ceramic tortoise and a wooden hare on the mantel of my woodstove for weeks and no one ever noticed.
Speaking of being whimsical, the part in my new book, Custer and His Naked Ladies where someone puts a lifsize Elvis cutout in my room is based on a real incident. Once, my Aunt Norah and I had the keys to Donna's (a family member) house when she was away so we could feed her cats. When shopping that day, we found a lifesize cardboard cutout of Billy Ray Cyrus and we took it to Donna's and put it right inside her door with a big welcome home sign on it. My Aunt Norah and I used to have so much fun. the story about her in Custer about the Chinese restaurant is true.
Well, I'd better get back to work. This afternoon, I have to figure out why my fonts on my Tripod website jump around in size. I'm sure it is what my husband calls "Pilot error" (he was a pilot in the Army). That's another thing I'm not: I am not a techie! When something goes wrong with my Warrior, I call my Computer Guru.
Quote du jour:
"In real life, I assure you, there is no such thing as algebra." Fran Lebowitz

October 04, 2007

The 12-step program for CZs

Another one of my ponchos

10-04-07- I’m a writer- No, not one of those writers seen on TV shows who are either drunk or neurotic—or both—half the time or more. I’m a normal person to everyone except my UPS delivery man, who has often seen me come to the door in peach-colored sweats and jewelry heavily encrusted with CZs. I always wear jewelry when I write my novels. It’s a celebration and I want to look the part. The sweats are because it’s cold here in the Northwest. So if I ever die unexpectedly, I hope one of you will explain my strange attire to the 911 men. Maybe you’re thinking that wearing sparkly jewelry with sweats is neurotic, but I look at it this way: I’m not hurting anyone or anything. As far as I know, there is no 12-step program for wearing fake diamonds before noon.
On my bed table- Not much. My husband’s got the good stuff. Can’t wait for him to go out of town…
Quote du jour:
“This is the sixth book I’ve written, which isn’t bad for a guy who’s only read two.” George Burns

October 01, 2007

A novelist must make choices...

©Janelle Meraz Hooper

10-01-07-I have a collection of ceramics that I call ponchos. Two of them are above. I've never known what to call them, but some people call them sleeping Mexicans. I just call them ponchos because that's what my mother called the one on her mantle.

Custer and His Naked Ladies- I’m still waiting for notice that it is finished and ready for purchase. Any day now…I’m starting to feel like that woman on the Mervyn commercials a few years ago who, in the middle of the night, kept looking in the window, saying, “Open…open…open!
Choices- When working on a novel, every writer has to make choices. For me, the choice is: am I writing fiction or non-fiction? Does it help my story to load it down with all of the research I’ve gathered—fascinating as it is—or am I just indulging my love of natural history? With Custer and His Naked Ladies, I added just enough research to propel the story. I'm sure that any of you who have an interest in The Permian Sea won’t look in a novel for enlightenment anyway. Still…it is a fascinating topic.
Presidential candidates- When the presidential candidates jumped the gun and started campaigning early, I called them all small potatoes and asserted that what we needed now were Idaho baking potatoes. Later on, I became impatient and labeled them all Tater Tots. I take most of it back. It turns out there are a few bakers in the bunch. I haven’t picked one yet. I’ll wait and see if The Big Daddy of All Bakers joins the campaign. Then, we’ll have a race!
Quote du jour:
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Albert Einstein, Einstein, His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson