August 31, 2010 | By: Tracy

Hiatus Haiku

Okay, there won’t really be a haiku, because though it’s been explained to me before I have no idea how they work. I don’t understand (nor have I wasted much time thinking about it, if I’m being honest) the difference between a haiku, a limerick and a standard poem. BUT it sounded good in the title, so I’m sticking with it.

I owe you all an apology. I just have not been able to keep up with my blog the past month or so (leaning heavily toward the so part of that statement). And while I realize it’s my blog to do with as I choose, I still have issues with doing a half-assed job. That includes checking and responding to comments as well as getting around to everyone else’s blog on a regular basis. It’s how I roll, but lately my tires have gone flat.

Things have been so crazy I literally haven’t even had a chance to peek at my blog since the last time I posted. So, with that being said, I’m going to take a page out of my good buddy Justine’s book (her blogging book, not a book book) and put myself in a timeout.

That’s right, I’m taking a blog hiatus until 9/20 (less than three weeks, so it’s more like a hiat really).

By then the baseball season will be winding down (at least for the Orioles, thank God), the day job will be settling down a bit more, and the mild family issues I’ve been dealing with should be significantly calmer. Consequently, that’s also the time I’ll be jumping back into the query game again…so I’ll be more energized (frantic) all the way around.

I’m still available by email if anyone has any good news to pass along, or seeks my wisdom (no one ever does that, which is so sad). And they’ll have to pry Twitter out of my cold, dead hands, so you can always keep up with me there.

Otherwise, I’ll see you all in a few weeks! I bid thee all a wonderful end of summer!!

August 12, 2010 | By: Tracy

E-books Rule and Paper Books Drool

Now, before anyone jumps all up in my shiznit, understand that I plan to post the flip side of the coin tomorrow, K?

Help me out by suggesting any ideas I've left out. I think it would be fun to add the results of both to my sidebar.. cuz, you know, I’m a party animal like that.

So, here’s a list of the reasons why I think e-books are better than the traditional paper version:

Reading while working out on the treadmill no longer requires painful hand cramps and contortionist twisting to try to find the best light.

- If someone suggests a good book I can buy it in less than a minute. Even the worse case of ADHD can’t stop me! I may forget to read it later, but that’s not the point.

- Just holding one makes me look smarter to the passer-by. They have no way of knowing that I’m reading Justin Bieber’s authorized biography instead of Geoffrey Chaucer.

- Nightstand tables can once again hold boxes of tissues, glasses of water, television remotes, furry handcuffs (don’t judge), etc. The copious “To Be Read” stacks are now carefully tucked away on the e-reader.

- I never again have to worry about a bookmark falling out and accidentally stumbling across a “reveal” passage while browsing through the pages trying to remember where I left off.

- Thanks to all the trees being saved by my e-books, the tiny woodland creatures come out to greet me in thanks. Forget you, Sleeping Beauty, I’m Snow White!

- No one can tell when you’re reading erotica in public … unless you begin to act inappropriately.

- In case of a fire, I can grab all my favorite books in one quick motion and still have enough time to save my pets and family (probably in that order too).

So, that’s my off-the-top-of-my-head-list. Got anything to add to the list?
August 10, 2010 | By: Tracy

Vampires with Surfboards

It’s no secret that I tend to love me some vampires. From the first time I watched Lost Boys I was hooked. Whether they’re the good guys or the bad guys, teenaged or decrepit, full-vamp or half-human… I love them all. That doesn’t mean I love every story/movie I’ve come across, however, and now I’m more concerned than ever for the future of my beloved creatures of the night.

This weekend they taped the Teen Choice Awards and the YA crowd has spoken. They still love their vampires too! (Before you ask, no I didn’t vote. I’m no longer eligible…you know, since I stopped being a teenager last year *wink, wink*)

The Twilight crew won 12 – yes that’s right, 12 – awards!! They were far and away the favorite in every category they were nominated in.

As if that wasn’t enough vamp lovin’ -- The “Vampire Diaries” (which I love, love, love by the way. Damon Salvatore is my idea of the perfect lovable villain. A bad guy with the occasional soft spot, but still a bad guy) …. Anyway, the CW network’s show collected 7 awards of its own.

So between two crews of vampires, they brought home 19 Surfboards -- it's a Teen Choice thing. That’s crazy!

On the one hand, this makes me happy, because it means that editors and agents will have to realize that this vampire craze isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. At least not in YA land it isn’t. That means more choices for those of us who will openly admit that Anne Rice’s Lestat was our first love – and we all know that once you go fang you can never go back.

But I have a MAJOR concern that the markets (literary, television, etc) will continue to be flooded by people who write about vampires not because they love them, but because they see potential fame and dollar signs behind it.

All of this leaves me wondering what other wonderful things are being way overdone in literature and television that I just never realized because they didn’t resonate with me? Except for police dramas. What is that about??? There are far too many of those shows on television these days. Though, Criminal Minds is da bomb – so maybe I should shut up.
August 6, 2010 | By: Tracy

Time to get Twitterpaited, pt 2.

Happy Friday, All. It’s been another busy week, but it looks like we made it through. Hoo-hah!

Okay. So the other day I offered tips on what I believe to be good Twittering. Now I’ll follow up with what I believe to be a decent list of things NOT to do.

Twitter Don’ts

Please don’t treat us to a litany of the food you eat on a daily basis: Yes, we’re all very proud of how well you’ve been doing on that new diet of yours, but unless we ASK you what you’re eating. We. Honestly. Don’t. Care. The occasional self-indulgent pat-on-the-back is fine, but remember: food tweets are like calories, less is almost always better!

Don’t become a serial tweeter: It's not good form to get into the habit of posting more than 2-3 tweets in a row. Seriously, if you’ve got that much to say why aren’t you blogging it instead? If we see this we'll totally skim right over your tweets. (This rule does not apply to you if you happen to be a celebrity. I mean, duh, you’re famous so obvious we really want to know what you’re thinking every second of the day!)

Tweeting solely for “marketing” is annoying: That isn’t to say you can’t update about your upcoming book, album, blog post, strip-o-gram services, etc. It just means we aren’t stupid. If it’s the ONLY thing you ever update about your tweets will receive the same amount of attention from us as the spam in our email inboxes. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot, okie?

Don’t pull out Tweet Deck while you’re drunk: Trust me, we WILL -- especially if we’re your “friends” -- Re-tweet your various BOOTY CALL attempts to our follower lists, just to make sure you don’t forget about them when you’re sober. (Actually, this one is kind of fun. Please disregard.)

And lastly…

Stop bitching all the time: We all need a good vent every now and again, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you use Twitter as your own personal form of therapy rather than telling your boss, sister, boyfriend, baby daddy, etc., how you really feel – the only thing you’ll succeed in doing is to become an annoying downer. It’s not the right place to constantly release your displeasure onto the world, do us all a favor, stop being cheap and get a shrink!

Have a happy weekend all!!
August 4, 2010 | By: Tracy

Don't Kill the Dog!

I was planning to post my “Twitter Don’ts” list today, but that will have to wait until tomorrow, because this morning I read something in the paper that got me so riled up I’ve been in a tizzy all day!

Last night, in the very county I live in, an off-duty federal police officer shot and killed a dog at one of the local dog parks. Allegedly the husky (named Bear-Bear) and the officer’s german shepherd got into a fight. The officer then shot Bear-Bear before the owner had a chance to do anything. For this officer, his first line of thinking was to shoot the dog. Never mind that they were in a confined area, the dog wasn’t a direct threat to him or any other person, it’s not clear the dogs were actually FIGHTING, or there were adults and children all over the rest of the park and surrounding homes. (Here’s the story for those interested in reading)

Originally I was incensed, because the police weren’t even going to investigate the officer. Thankfully, a city official has come forward to voice his concern that there needs to be a full investigation. So at least that has calmed me a little.

As an animal lover and dog owner, who’s been to the “puppy park” – as we call it in my household – I was sick over the very idea. By all reports Bear-Bear was non-aggressive… and anyone who has dogs knows that sometimes even the best behaved ones can have skirmishes with one another. It’s a risk you take in going to a dog park that not everyone is going to get along, but there are plenty of ways to break things up that don’t involve guns. And don’t even get me started on my concerns over a man who is PAID to carry a gun who reacts in such an extreme manner!

But I digress.

The point of my post (well, sort of) is this … I once read advice somewhere -- wish I could recall the article/post -- where an editor said you can do many vile and despicable things in your story. You can kill adults left and right, and in lesser situations your story can even survive the death of a child. But if you kill the dog you’ve killed the story. As readers, we often can’t get past the outrage over a senseless death to a pet.

At the time I thought that statement was a little over dramatic, but after the reaction I had to the story about Bear-Bear , I realize this editor may have been right on the mark. When I read that after he was shot Bear-Bear didn’t whine or bark, he quietly lay down and bled heavily -- my heart broke into a thousand tiny pieces for him and his owner. Granted this was a true story, but I’m pretty sure if it had been a scene in a book I would have been too raw to want to keep reading. It would likely be a scene I wouldn’t be able to get beyond.
August 3, 2010 | By: Tracy

Time to get Twitterpaited

Since I have a lack of all-things-writing to post about and have been witness to some grave misuses of my beloved Twitter lately, I’m dedicating my next two posts to the Do’s and Don’ts of Twittering for those not already in the know.

** Disclaimer: These notes are based on fictional tweets; therefore the owner of this blog is released from any wrongdoing or hurt feelings caused as a result of any similarities to a reader’s tweets - real or imagined**

Before getting started, I want to stress that -- despite what you may have been told elsewhere -- Twitter is meant to be used as a form of entertainment! People who take it too seriously just don’t “get the point”. Okay, so here we go.

Twitter DO’s

- Take the time to tweet about the humorous, frustrating, embarrassing, scary, etc. things that happen when no one else is around to share in it. The more “You’re not going to believe what I just saw (heard/ran across)” type tweets you post, the more entertaining others are likely to find you.

- Pictures! We luvs pictures! Stumbled across a really bad cross-dresser in Starbucks? A FedEx worker signing for a UPS package? A highway sign for “Cocksville” that makes you giggle like a middle schooler? Snap a picture and tweet. Give someone else the chuckle you’ve just had.

- Keep your tweets as free of TEXT SPEAK as possible. I know you only get 140 characters at a time, but constantly seeing UR instead of Your, or 4evr instead of Forever are … well, they’re annoying as hell. Seriously. Don’t do it.

- Mix it up and keep it fresh. Think of that friend you have that always talks about the same thing every single time you see him/her. Gets annoying, right? Avoid being THAT friend on Twitter. Update about all different sorts of things. If you only ever talk about what you had for breakfast, pretty soon people are going to start skipping your tweets or worse *gasp* stop following you!

- Use the # (hash tag) at times to make it easier for others who enjoy the same thing to find you. “#AmericanIdol hasn’t been the same since that crazy Paula left” or “To hell with what everyone else thinks, #VanillaIce was cool. Dammit." (#iamwriting is a popular one amongst our kind).

- Let other tweeters know you’re reading, by responding from time to time. If their tweet makes you want to say something to them, just hit “reply” and do it! (That being said please don’t become a celebrity stalker. There is no excuse for sending a “Hi, I’m having a wonderful morning today. How about you?” message to Nicholas Sparks, every day, because he was nice enough to respond to you once when you complimented his latest story.)

So there we go. By no means is this a comprehensive list of successful DO’s on Twitter. But if you’re a full out newbie, or otherwise miserably lost, it will at least get you started in the right direction. ;o)