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Wednesday, February 29, 2012 26 comments

Got Green? Blog O'Hop

Hangs proudly on our wall :)

I wanted to announce the Linky Link for the Got Green? Blog O'Hop is now open - for a special, limited, preview time only (he gasped, breathlessly on the dark and stormy night...)

OK, I sound like a Sears or Kohls commercial, but if you must know the truth, I am soo *not* a techie that I was terrified that Linky wouldn't work on the scheduled first day (March 12.)

It wasn't Linky I was worried about - it was me.... I have the uncanny ability to burn water, crack diamonds and trip over sky hooks.

The link will remain open until March 16, and everyone is invited to O'Hop around on St. Patrick's Day (March 17) and share some great "Oirish" memories, or just tell a tall tale (under 333 words:)

Some examples below (but feel free to write whatever you like, as long as its O'PG :)

What does St. Paddy's Day mean to you!

I'd LOVE to hear your Irish stories.

What are your traditions on Paddy's Day?

What do you cook?

What are your favorite memories, or future plans to visit the Emerald Isle?

Flash Fiction is more than welcome... I mean, seriously, we're only here for a pint and a laugh.

(DISCLAIMER: This Blog O'Hop will not solve the world's problems, only lighten the load of those living in it.)

Word Count total is 333 (say it in an "Oirish" accent, it makes more sense :)

Thanks to all those who have already helped promote the O'Hop, and I'd much appreciate anyone else who wants to join in the fun.

Please feel free to grab the button here, or above the link. (Many thanks to the  fahbuhlouss Leigh Covington for her designing skills :)

(So far) prizes  include a:

Regular Size Box of Lucky Charms

Family Size Box of Lucky Charms (gasp!)

One query critique

One three chapter edit

Grand prize consisting of a $25 AMAZON Gift Card :) (*Was $30... Couldn't find a $30 card!!)

I'll be O'hopping around on the 17th - and hope you can join me in doing the same :)

(If you don't normally post on Saturdays, but want to add in your three cents, why not consider scheduling a post. Shure, ye can't win it, if you're not in it :)

Winners will be notified by March 24.

Slainte (to be shure, to be shure.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012 15 comments



Oppression is here - no it's OK, aliens haven't taken over the M&M factory in West Virginia!

Today is the official release of OPPRESSION, which is Book One of debut author, Jessica Therrien's YA paranormal romance/adventure series, CHILDREN OF THE GODS.

Jessica graduated from San Diego State University, and I've had the pleasure of spending a little time with her at back-to-back area writers' conferences.

The first time I met Jessica, in 2011, she was an aspiring author, and only two weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing her chat to fans and sign copies of OPPRESSION at the 2012 Southern California Writers' Conference.

It is so awesome to see an aspiring author shake off her aspiring-ness and bloom into a published author!

Do yourself a favor (TBR has room for one more, seriously) pick up a copy of OPPRESSION today, and please join me in wishing Jessica (and some guy called Alex) only the very, very best with today's respective book launches.

For full information, hop on over to the blog of published author, Jessica Therrien.

(Gosh, it is so cool saying "published author" You go Jessica, with your big, bad self :)
Book details as follows:)

$0.99 E-Book
Amazon Kindle Edition (UK, France, Germany)
$12.99 Paperback
Amazon (US)
Barnes & Noble (US) - on sale for $7.79
Amazon (UK, France, Germany, Japan)
Monday, February 27, 2012 24 comments

Top 8 Finalist in Janet Reid Contest & More :)

I was in the middle of collating So You Know You’re a Parent When… (#7) when I opened an email from the irrefutable Sarah Pearson and her subject line of “Not Bad.”
Oh, crikey, what did you do now?
Sarah wrote, “Congratulations on being a finalist in Janet Reid's latest competition! Looks like you came really close too - you rock :-)”
First thing I did, of course, was to pull down the front of my laptop to make sure it was mine, and that yes, Sarah was addressing me.
Wow. Noooo way, dude.
I trundled over (they say “walking” is so ‘80s) to Ms. Reid’s blog, and there I was, one of eight (of 155 entrants) finalists.
Bloody hell, dude, that’s like awesome!
(Does a real gurly swoon…)
Gets up, brushes Lucky Charms off knees … I'm a finalist… wonders if VistaPrint can crank out 250 free business cards in 24 hours...
I have to tell you, I nearly awarded myself a RockStar accolade, but I only have two left and Costco said they won’t get another delivery until the Blogmen strike in Long Island is resolved. Seriously?
I can’t make this stuff up.
Yes, you can – you’re a bloody writer.
Whatever dude, shush, the Blogmen said they had taken care of your snippets.
My snippets – ouch that hurts to even think about.
Anyway, it was great to have gotten so far… I don’t think I’ll be able to write “eight” (of 155) without adding (of 15-…ohh…) for at least a few days.

Credit: My Better Half :)
Especially as my topic for the 100-word flash fiction was about my trusty brown office chair, which is a bizarre topic, but it worked :)
PS… If your children are having trouble sleeping,  you can read the original entry on my blog here.
PPS… Dear Regular Readers, would you stop by Mandi Thomson’s blog and show her some writers’ love by saying hi and following her.
(After reading my post for the Janet Reid contest, Mandi was inspired to write a just-for-fun post of her own. (She also has the *coolest* “about me” page – evah.)
The point of all this is to share the joy I felt at having my work recognized. I promise I am *not* bragging or trying to inflate my ego, but I *do* want anyone submitting a query/book proposal/mss/ to read this and know that sucess is also a part of who we are and what we do.
(Sure I didn't win, but I got recognition for my efforts, and guess who is all pumped up again :)
I was *so* in awe of Mandi for stepping up to the plate and writing something because she was inspired by my entry.
And, do you know why?
No, but here it comes, right?
And why?
Because last week at the SCWC, I was inspired by a young author called Lacey Impellizerri who wrote a 250-word story for our writers' conference.
Her story was so wonderful that when I later walked past my old, brown office chair, I instantly knew it had a story :)
PPS… Rach’s Fourth Campaign is well under way, and I wanted to say THANK YOU!!! to the dozens of peeps who’ve left comments of support and encouragement.
Has anyone noticed the Word Verification Codes have eased off a little… The darkground seems to have disappeared into the yonder wilderness from whence it came.
Was it Rach’s Fourth Challenge, or was it the Blogmen who watch and wait for protesting writers who say it is right to not split infinitives?
Friday, February 24, 2012 18 comments

Janet Reid Contest Entry: "Empty"

If you haven’t heard of the flash fiction contests hosted by renowned literary agent, Janet Reid, you should check out her blog.
The current contest opens at noon (EST) Friday (2/24) and closes at 6 p.m. (EST) Saturday (2/25). Winner receives an ARC of INSURGENT by Veronica Roth, the sequel to DIVERGENT, which was voted “Best Book of the Year” by the readers at Goodreads.com (among many other honors!)
Usual rules apply: write a story with 100 or fewer words. Post in the comment column of [her] blog post. (Comments closed until the contest opens). If you need a mulligan, delete your entry and enter again. Only ONE entry per person will be considered for the contest.
Use these words in your entry:
Here’s my entry:

Alone in the dark.
Lights on.
Striding by without a glance, your allegiance is always elsewhere.
Because I wear no leather, and can’t rock or roll anymore?
Won’t you please sit?
I heard you may destroy me – is there no other choice?
I helped feed your first, the sequel and now all three boys. I fed you when needed.
Puked, sat and farted on, I never gave up – you left me!
Sports coat on – the one I wore – you’re moving onward and upward.
Lights off.
I was your first risk.
I’ll wait forever.
Your old, brown fabric office chair.
What Does Leather Have That I Don't?


There's no voting or liking, but just thought I'd share:)

PS.... Wanted to give a super Star Wars Shout Out to Leigh Covington for including me in her "redo" of Star Wars in Two Minutes. (David Powers King and Cassie Mae are in this one, too :)
Watch it here  - and may the Farce be With you
Tuesday, February 21, 2012 39 comments

CHALLENGE entry: Word Verification Code

It’s time for Rach Writes Fourth Campaigner Challenge. Here’s the rules:
Write a short story/flash fiction story in 200 words or less, excluding the title. Any format, including a poem. Begin with, “Shadows crept across the wall”. These five words will be included in the word count. An added challenge (optional), do one or more of these:
·         end with the words: "everything faded." (included in the word count.)
·         include the word "orange"
·         write in the same genre you normally write
·         make your story 200 words exactly!
Here’s my 200 word count entry:
Bloggur Word Verification
Shadows crept across the wall.
I sat down with a hiss.
Their computer screen lit up and mocked me.
The two, black works were Canal geshaltr,  I was positive. That’s why I typed CANAL (space) geshaltr.
Click. Enter.
The screen changed.
I didn't prove I wasn’t a robot.
My resolve weakened.
I Clicked the orange “B.” Had Bloggur changed its Word Verification Codes?
Had a non-writer re-written the Codes to fix what wasn’t broken?
In my head, the WVC chuckled and spat out bull shoot
The near illegible word was BlackWhite’d and wrapped around a gloomy darkground – like my mood – considering I wanted only to post “Great writing – thanks for sharing."
I typed the truth: bull sheet.
Again. No proof. I was still a robot.
I quit comments. Why bother, it’s too hard.
Noise outside. Close.
Two pencils of light swam underneath the rattling door.
“Stop, or we will delete!”
The square, red desk phone rang once.

Can you hear the roar?
Scanning the grey, undisturbed office, I lingered on a happy family unit framed forever in the past.
Clicking the hibernate button, I grabbed the pen and Ream of Paper.
Thus, we were armed.
We would be heard.
The familiar roar – everything faded.
If you enjoyed this, please vote by liking it here. (I'm # 86:)

Monday, February 20, 2012 14 comments

Writers' Conference Update & Yahhy for Oppression :)

Book Launches Feb. 28, 2012 :)
I attended the 26th Southern California Writers' Conference this past weekend, and this is the first time I’ve opened my computer… in three days. That felt weird… but not bad:)
Oh my gash, dahlings, I simply must tell you how the weekend went!
But first, let's hop back in time to the 2011 SCWC, shall we? Come along now, lets stick close together.
...Morgan and Leigh, stop straggling and catch up.

Alex! Are you commenting on another blog? Hurry on with yourself. I know CassaFire is launching next week, too, but you simply must stop staring at the CassaFire button over there on the right hand side.

Lordy Lords, where is that child, Cassie Mae? Where did she wander off to now? And has anyone seen my can of Mountain Dew?
Sorry, where wa-, ah yes. There we were, on that first day of last year's conference, a small group of writers together for a seminar given by a wonderful editor called Jean Jenkins.
The Amazing Jessica Therrien (and some bald dude.)
In our small group was Jessica Therrien, an aspiring author from San Diego.
Quick! Jump in the DeLorean… whoooooosh!
Fast forward to this past weekend, and look :) There's Jessica - the author - signing copies of her new book, Oppression.

Published by Zova books, Oppression officially launches February 28.
That's like, next week! How exciting must that be for her :)
Catching up with Jessica was fun, but it was great seeing her at a table with a diminishing pile of books – her books – in front of her!
Hello, people, this thing, this dream, this goal of ours... it does happen!
(…We interrupt this regularly scheduled post to allow for one (1) quick Electric Slide and a shortened version of the White Man Can’t Dance Shuffle...
Thank you.
We return you now to our scheduled programming.)
Thanks, Jessica for being there, and making “it” real. Congrats again, and you go, girl :)
Folks, please check out her blog, and hit her up with some awesomeness and good wishes for the release of Oppression, which officially launches February 28th.
Dude, you like said that already….
What… can’t one be happy, thrilled even, for another writer’s success, especially when you met them when they, too were looking to find an agent and/or a publisher?
Well, OK, then.
Good, thank you.
That’s how my weekend started. This might sound obvious, like, but if you’re serious about moving your writing forward, you have to – you have to – figure a way to attend one of these conferences.
Write On!
I mean, I know I don’t evah share my feelings or thoughts with y’all…
Whatevah, dude.

But I gotsta tell you, the mental batteries are charged, the pages are ready to be written, and I'm so friggin’ excited that the guys who monitor Major League Baseball stars would probably suspend me for a season - I am that PUMPED up.
(A steroid is something you listen to music with, right?)

My plan is to write another post and share some of the tools I picked up while at SCWC... I just need to get some sleep:)

For now, here are several rarely asked questions I thought might help:
Mark, I don’t live near a Writers' Conference…whaggh...
It’s OK; they have these things called aero-planes now. They will get you there.
But Mark, conferences are too expensive.
It’s OK. Start saving and stop writing in Starbucks – go to McDonald’s. Bring your own coffee.
But Mark, wha-
Enough with the whining.

Make it happen.
Your writing will thank you.
‘Nuff said.
I gotta go sleep write :)
Friday, February 17, 2012 12 comments

Guest Post: Erik Bork


This weekend, I’m attending the Southern California Writer's Conference in San Diego, so here is a Guest Post from an amazing writer-producer I met at SCWC last year.

Erik Bork is a professional screenwriter and producer best known for his work on the HBO miniseries BAND OF BROTHERS and FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON.

(Erik wrote multiple episodes, and won two Emmy and two Golden Globe Awards for helping to produce the above projects.)

Thanks, Erik, the floor is all yours:

When I work with writers giving feedback and guidance on their material and career paths -- which I do a lot of these days -- I am often asked for help with access to agents, managers, and producers (which I don't provide directly, but do give advice about).

Writers often tend to have questions about how important "who you know" is, and struggle with getting "the industry" to pay attention to them. Even professionals go through this. (I know I sometimes still do.)

After all, you can have the greatest script in the world, and if nobody in the industry will read it, because they don't know you, and you weren't referred to them by someone they trust, nothing will come of it, right?
Erik Bork

True enough. However, this statement misses one key part of the equation: the industry is desperately hungry for marketable material and writers. And it always is.

No matter how few paid writing jobs or script sales there might be compared to the number of people who would like to have them (and that will forever be an outrageous ratio), the fact remains that the "development" side of the business is always on the lookout for more "stuff they can sell".

How desperate are they?

I recently met a very legitimate, big time manager of working screenwriters at a writing conference, and asked him the best way for writers to "get access" to him, and others of his kind.

Here's what he said:

Send him an e-mail.

There are multiple sources where you can find e-mail addresses for managers (and agents, though they be a bit harder to get the attention of), as well as producers. The directories at www.hcdonline.com are one resource that I know of for this.

In the e-mail to an individual manager (or producer), this manager recommends that you provide the logline and genre of your script, and a paragraph or two synopsis of the story (not a tease, but a real synopsis).

Below that, you might include any important contests you've won, or other impressive writing background you might have -- though that is strictly optional.

He said he gets about 100 such query e-mails a week.

And he asks to read the script for about 80 of them.

That's right, 80 out of 100.

Another high-end manager I met at the same conference confirmed this process works, and said she also gets about 100 a week, but she only asks to read about 10 of the scripts. She's tougher on the loglines and synopses than he is.

But here's what they both agreed on: out of the ones they do read (or have people read for them), they have continuing interest in less than one script a week -- and maybe as few as a handful each year.

In other words, the script almost always fails to impress them as something they could do something with, in the business (or the writer as one they could "sell").

And so the big challenge -- and this is something I've always believed -- is not getting your material in front of the professionals who can help you. It's making sure that what you put in front of them will really impress them, when you do.

This is the hard part. And this is what is rare, highly valued, and highly sought after.

Of course, we all know this, on some level. But writers often seem to think that the "access issue" is at least 25%, or even 50%, of what determines whether a screenwriter gets their work sold and produced. And they put a lot of time and energy into trying to "crack the code" of getting their work to the right people in the right way.

But that's really not hard. It requires a little research and diligence (and a thick skin), but getting your logline and premise or synopsis in front of these people is fairly simple.

But delivering with a logline/synopsis (and ultimately a script) that they will think has a chance is a whole other thing.

I guess it depends on your viewpoint whether this is "good news" or "bad news." But I will tell you that it's what people inside the industry all tend to believe. They're not trying to keep out marketable writing and writers. They are just so bombarded by material that isn't marketable, in their view, that they have to put up somewhat of a wall, to allow them to focus on serving their existing clients -- which, trust me, is a very full-time job.

But these walls are not as solid as you might think. And they all want what you pitch and send to them to be something they think could sell, and get produced. They're really on your side in that. The tough part is creating such a thing. I know, because I grapple with this challenge myself, as a working writer, every day.

Thanks, Erik!

For more information, or to read his "Ten Key Principles Successful Writers Understand," please visit Erik's website here.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012 7 comments

Cassie is Interviewing me :)


I'm on my way to the Southern California Writer's Conference in San Diego, so instead of a regularly scheduled post, I have the honor of being interviewed by none other than Cassie Mae :)

The Awesome Cassie Mae
If you don't know - or haven't felt the tornadic, ZoomMeister-ish presence of Cassie Mae, please brighten your day by heading over and following her here.

Thanks, Cass. You're a RockStar and a real friend here on the Blog O'Fear :)
Tuesday, February 14, 2012 3 comments

Guest Posting over at Jenna's Blog


Happy Valentine's Day:)

I normally don't show up on Tuesdays, but am guest posting over at Jenna's blog, Meandering in a Field of Dreams.

Normally, Jenna posts from a little village in southwestern France on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. However, she is about to give birth to her new baby, so is a little busy, as you can imagine.

Please hop on over to give her a little love!

And guys... speaking of LOVE, don't forget to stop and buy some flowers on the way home :)
Monday, February 13, 2012 26 comments

ORIGINS Hop - How I Became a Journalist

Today's hop, Origins, is the brain child of DL Hammons at Cruising Altitude,
Alex J. Cavanaugh is a co-sponsor, along with Katie Mills aka Creepy Query Girl and Matthew MacNish at The QQQE.

The question is: How did we all begin?

I was sitting on the potty when my life changed in the spring of 2005.
(If there’s anyone left reading this who’s not related by blood or marriage – bear with me, there is a point:)
Having just moved to Central Florida and the Space Coast, my wife and I were in the newly wed phase.
Work wise though, I was a mess, after months working in a local credit union, I was looking – searching – for a change. I knew the teller position was temporary, but couldn’t figure what I was transitioning toward.
My First Edition
Every Friday, the local weekly newspaper, The Hometown News, appeared in our front yard. Sure, it was free, but it had interesting stuff about our neck of the woods. I enjoyed reading it.
So there I was, still on the potty, and I looked over the classified section only to read:
Staff Reporter position available. Bachelor’s degree in journalism and two years of experience required. Must know AP style. Should include clips with resume. Send resume to…
Hmmm, I did a mental inventory:
Journalism degree… no
Two years of experience… no
Knows AP style…no
Clips… ah yes, I do have one clip, but clips… no
Sheesh, I was the perfect candidate!
My resume was impressive (if you wanted a restaurant guy with fifteen years of experience that included time spent as a cowboy in Paris and a clown in Ibiza.)
Needing back up, I spent two days perfecting the one-page cover letter, to be sent alongside the dodgy-looking interesting resume.
I couldn’t find a hard copy (it’s on a hard-drive that’s hardly working) so to paraphrase, parts of the letter said:
I may not have the degree you require – but I have more heart than another interviewee who does.
I may not have the experience you want, but I’ll work harder than anyone else on your team
I closed along the lines of:
I may be new to the world of writing, but I’m hungry to succeed, and given the chance I promise not to let you down, or make you regret your decision to hire me.

Emailing it over, I settled back, hopeful of a response in a couple of weeks.

Twenty-four hours later, my future boss (she just didn’t realize it) called to ask if I’d come in for an interview.
“Uh, OK, I suppose…”
This was not my response, but I did do the Electric Slide for the first time, as well as the White Man Can’t Dance Shuffle.
I later sat across from a no-nonsense, company vice president by the name of Tammy Raits, and one of the first things she said was:
“That was probably the best cover letter I have ever read.”
Well, it’s because my resume sucks, I thought… but did not say :)
My First Clip - evah!
We spoke for about an hour, and I explained how I got my first clip via a 2003 published article in a then-new magazine.
Tammy  forwarded me over to the publisher, Steve Erlanger, who offered me the job – after he gave me The Speech that culminates in him making sure I’d put in a minimum of 150 percent of effort.
Soon after I started, and it was such a buzz (it still is) to see my byline for the first time – above the fold – on Friday the 13th of May, 2005.
While it wasn’t easy – I worked Monday to Friday from 4 a.m. to 10 p.m. and the weekends as needed for several weeks – I taught myself how to take a story from idea to publication.
Look Ma, I'm in the paper (and it's not the Police Blotter)
While I’m super excited to co-write the memoir about Donald Braswell, the opera singer who lost his voice, I shall never forget the time spent learning and honing my skills as a beat reporter for a local newspaper.

It was a fantastic experience, and one I’d recommend to anyone breaking into the business of writing. Remember, you don’t need a degree or experience, you just need to believe in yourself.

So that’s my origins… how did you end up here,  reading this post? :)
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