The professor was staring at two pictures.
And the Punchy Lands.
(At least, someone’s interpretation of it.)
I was looking at these intently—seated at a table in Cashew City—when Schwarz Tauptinker sat down at the table.
“So ho-ho hi!” Schwarz announced expectantly.
What he was expecting, I’m not sure.
“Hello, Schwarz,” I said.
“Why are you staring at kiddy balls? Chickit.”
“No, no. These are pictures of planets.”
“I knew that.” Schwarz laughed.
And that’s when she sat down. She has short black hair, but it’s likely to change. As a matter of fact, everything about her is likely to change. But one thing changes more often than any other thing that changes–if that makes sense.
The professor wasn’t sure what to say.
“Aren’t you two going to greet me?” she asked.
“I don’t think so,” Schwarz answered.
“Everyone with me sends you greetings,” I said finally. “And…what’s your name today?”
“Today it’s Lottie,” she answered. “And that’s better than Ollie—which it was on my last assignment.”
I think I should explain.
Lottie, you see, is some sort of secret-agent. (I bet MM knows her somewhat. He was an agent at one time, I hear.) I think she’s worked with Mark Malone, and I think Mortimer Butterfield hires her quite frequently. When she’s about, it’s usually because she’s after something—or someone.
“And my name is Schwarzio.” Schwarz laughed at that one.
Lottie gave Schwarz the side-eye. (The look is scary, you know.)
But Schwarz didn’t mind.
“So…” the professor began. “What are you…what are you doing?”
“Well, professor…” And Lottie snatched up the two pictures I had been studying.
“You were just thieved on, dude,” Schwarz observed.
Lottie stood. “This second picture was produced by my current employer. You’re not allowed to have it. And I’ll want to know how you got it when I return.”
“When might that dadblamery occur?” I asked.
“You’ll never see me coming.”
Schwarz didn’t like that. “But I see you going?”
Lottie Ollie was gone.
“Oh dear,” I said.
And I made sure my katana was close.
Participants must comment on other Spring Query entries to pay it forward. If I notice someone not leaving comments, their query will get skipped.
Now to the fine print:
All query critiques are subjective. And rabbits don't come out of my hat, but I'll do my best. Objects in mirror may be closer than they appear. Buy one and I'll throw in a set of free steak knives, just pay separate shipping and handling fees. Plus, you know, I'm leaving pink comments in celebration of spring so you have to be able to tolerate pink.
As sent to me:
With my crazy comments:
Condense. Distill. Trim down to the crucial parts. Tell us what will happen if Merrick fails and what power the mask can grant.
The Bible has provided the inspiration for many a Hollywood movie, and the latest of these is Paramount’s Noah, which was released last month. I had the opportunity to review the movie novelization, and you can read on for my thoughts about the book.
back cover blurb
When he has a vision about a flood sent to destroy all life on earth, Noah knows what he must do. Together with his family, he must save two of every living animal. He must build an ark. Noah has to evade the many dangers that would see him fail and leave the world to ruin, and overcome his own struggles to fulfill his mission. This is the epic story of one man’s attempt to preserve life for a new world.
The story of Noah’s ark is often showcased in Children’s Bibles and storybooks, but when you really think about it, it’s not a G rated story. Mankind so corrupt and evil as to induce its Creator to wipe it out? Destruction so absolute the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami look like nothing in comparison? That’s hardly kiddie fare.
Indeed it’s a bleak world Morris lays out in his novel adaption of the recently released Noah movie (which, by the way, I have not yet seen). With the exception of Noah’s family and bad guy Tubal-Cain, humanity seems incapable of rational thought, let alone compassion. Their squalor, desperation, and hopelessness make this antediluvian past look more like an apocalyptic future. That atmosphere is heightened by environmental destruction on a massive scale. For Noah’s contemporaries, tzohar is the all-purpose energy source. It sparks fire, blows apart rocks, put animals into hibernation, and comprises the bodies of fallen heavenly beings. Of course, extracting it comes at a price, and the descriptions of polluted lands and denuded forests are a not so subtle commentary on our present-day efforts to secure energy.
Of course, our leading man Noah stands for everything corrupt humanity is not. Unfortunately, he comes off more as an uber-militant vegan than God’s agent of change. In the second chapter, he defends an animal from three starving hunters. He kills the men without compunction but gives the mortally wounded animal a funeral. For Noah, killing and eating animals is a worse crime than murder. It’s ironic that the back cover touts the story as “One man’s quest to save mankind.” When he realizes that a flood is coming, his concern is solely for the animals, forget about his fellow man.
Noah’s point of view is somewhat understandable at first given his father’s tragic end, but he becomes increasingly unsympathetic as the story progresses. In the biblical account, God speaks to Noah in almost painfully detailed terms, but in this novel he’s silent. The only communications Noah receives are nightmarish prophetic visions. However, none of these visions are so specific as to say, “The ark must have these dimensions,” or “Bring two of each animal,” and Noah’s inclination is to use the harshest interpretation possible. He’s all divine wrath and judgment, and while he goes on (and on and on) about humanity’s evils, he hypocritically withholds mercy from even the members of his family.
As for those family members, they’re a rather flat bunch. Ham is the strongest personality, but he acts and speaks more like an eight-year-old than a fifteen-year-old. Japheth has hardly any presence, and Shem’s only purpose is to be Ila’s husband. As for Ila, she, not Noah, seems to be the remaining righteous person in the world, but she’s too much a victim, just as Ham is too overtly the family’s rebel.
Perhaps to make up for its less than compelling character development, the novel’s packed with action. As if a planetwide flood wasn’t epic enough, the story includes a battle for the ark, followed by fistfights at sea. Unfortunately, while ruthless warlords, tzohar pipe guns, six-armed stone giants, and the worst storm ever probably serve up a visual feast when rendered in CG, it gets a bit tedious and repetitive in print.
Not surprisingly, Noah takes liberties with the original biblical account. The addition of gross environmental destruction to mankind’s corruption provides an interesting vision of the antediluvian world, but the underlying premise that violence against animals and ecosystem is man’s greatest evil is a bit harder to swallow. While Noah does stand apart from the rest of fallen humanity, his own misanthropic self-righteousness make him a less than inspiring figure.
First published at The Fandom Post.
We live in a very, very accessible world.
In a few keystrokes or with a couple clicks of a mouse we can see what nearly anybody thinks about nearly anything, anyone or anyplace. Online reviews are a great way to get a feel for a place before you visit, or help you get an idea of what you might, or might not, be getting into. Reviews usually come with a healthy mix of the local fans and those who will never have a good experience at any place – ever. You have to read through and find the happy medium. Sites like Trip Advisor actually let you search for reviews on destinations based on activities similar to your own. You can see family reviews, honeymoon reviews, snowbird reviews etc. This can be a big help in giving you a more accurate picture.
Online forums, reviews and social media have become a trough of feedback from consumers. People rave and vent freely on these sites and companies pay tons of money to try and engage people to keep things controlled. It’s a difficult game to play, and I’m guilty of jumping to social media to rant. However, a recent experience at McDonald’s got me thinking about how trigger happy I was to jump to Twitter with bad experiences.
Social media platforms for companies are often run by third party marketing firms. Incident specific complaints are hard for them to nail down and resolve. In more than one occasion my poor experience with a specific service was grievanced online. It usually leads to some conversation, but no real concrete resolution. In a recent visit to McDonald’s locally I was sent away from the drive through missing one of my burgers. I had ordered a large meal for the family and didn’t have the chance to check the order before getting home. My gut response was to tweet about it, lambasting the franchise for (again) screwing up the order. However my wife suggested I call the restaurant and see if they can do something.
Sure enough a courteous shift manager apologized for the issue and corrected it by having the correct burger ready for me when I returned. She even gave me a few other items free off the menu for my troubles. In all honesty I would not have gotten this level of resolution from the McDonald’s twitter account. It led to a bit of a revelation as far as how I the consumer could allow companies to remedy issues, and what is a better way to go about airing issues.
Said revelation is this: try resolving the issue locally first, in the franchise or location where the issue occurred. If it’s an online store call the customer service line first. Many companies, particularly franchised locations, are eager and willing to deal with issues if the customer brings them up (and you have to be courteous about it). Give them a chance to fix it here before you start spreading manure about the company as a whole on the public forum of the internet. Dealing with it locally gives the opportunity for the issue to be addressed and resolved nearly instantly, much faster than it would online.
Reward those who listen
I made sure to call the franchise owner and McDonald’s customer service after my experience. I intentionally remembered the name of the girl who served me so I could pass on how well she handled the situation. Anybody who has worked with customers before – probably all of us – knows how frustrating and annoying customers who have been miffed are. They rarely speak nicely and they’re almost always demanding. It takes a smart manager to have enabled this girl to resolve the situation how she did and a true professional to take the call and immediately offer resolution. If all you deal with are demanding, thankless people, we might quickly become jaded and less enthusiastic in our resolution to problems.
Being grateful is a great way to encourage that person or company to keep doing it. Public recognition may also drive more people to be polite and professional in their approach to airing grievances. If anything, a grateful attitude is a wonderful anecdote to the astonishing sense of entitlement we have developed as consumers (that’s for another rant). Thank the person in person or on twitter – wherever the resolution occurred. Do so immediately and genuinely. Then take it a step further and thank their superior and commend the person you dealt with. People by nature look for “whats in it for me” when they do things – make it worth their while to correct a mistake. Shockingly they actually don’t have to do anything. We as consumers aren’t very good at the boycotting thing.
Tweet respectfully strong
If all else fails, and there is a legitimate grievance, use the power of social media to try and get attention to it. Even so, don’t sound like an entitled bratty 3 year old when you do it. Angry posts often offend or belittle an issue whereas terse courtesy conveys the true weight of the grievance. Just whining online isn’t fun for the company or the people who follow you. Take it from me, someone who’ll jump to twitter before giving someone a chance to set the record strait. It’s a tough habit to break.
It's the home stretch! And it's going very well so far. Good luck to everyone!
Emotionally unavailable men make the task difficult for women because, even though they are available on the dating scene, their http://www.wikipedia.org preferences aren't clear. They are present physically but their mental and emotional presence is celine trapeze much missed.
Emotionally unavailable men can celine clasp shoulder bag be easily differentiated from others. They will mostly have had a number of relationships (they fall in love at the drop of a hat) and in fact may even have more than one or two casual relationships at the same time.
These men tend to be a confused lot, not knowing what they really want. Even when it comes to women, these men celine doctor handbag continue to be lost and don't take their partners seriously. If you are in love with such a man, it is a wise thing not to pursue a relationship with him. Such men tend to be highly unreliable and no matter what he says, there is a good chance that he'll get over you soon.
You may also be tempted to think that you have what is takes to change him. However, this happens to be a big mistake. You will try to pamper and spoil him to make him fall in line with you but this will only make him take you more for granted. His insensitivity and lack of compassion will make him believe that celine luggage bag you are ready to put up with anything just for him.
You will gladly undergo this process for a while until you reach a breaking point. Unfortunately, by then, you will be too emotionally attached to him and may even think of putting yourself celine boston luggage through the worst, just to be with him. However, even this won't last for long and ultimately, you will go through immense pain and disappointment.
With such men, the best way is to maintain a distance. Initially, it will be difficult but if you think of the long-term suffering associated with such a relationship, your mind will start accepting your decision more easily. Get yourself involved in other things and activities like sports, hobby classes, music and celine clutch pouch likewise. For all you know, this kind of behavior from you may actually make him long for you. If he comes looking for you, don't be too excited because it may not last too long.
Your best way of dealing with emotionally unavailable men Celine Outlet is just to take yourself away. No matter what you do, there is little possibility that they will ever change. Even if the man changes for a while, don't take your hopes too high because sooner than you know, they will come crashing down when he gets back to his actual insensitive self.
2013 marked the first time in almost nine decades when not a single reported sighting of the Loch Ness Monster came to light. Just as it seemed that the legendary creature had begun to fade from public attention, a new photo has surfaced — from Apple’s satellite maps app — showing an incredible monster-like shape beneath the infamous lake.
Anyone familiar with descriptions of the Loch Ness Monster will no doubt spot the two flipper-like paddles on either side of the object — a classic feature in Nessie lore. Skeptics will rightly point out that pareidolia may be at work here. Harder to discount, though, is the lack of a boat which could have created the kind of wake necessary to produce such a bizarre image.
According to one estimation, the shape is 100 feet in length — far larger than anything known to inhabit Loch Ness, and it also makes the possibility of a floating log that much more unlikely. Then again, simple undersea currents might be the culprit — although no definitive explanation has come forward. Until then, this image remains another tantalizing piece of the Nessie puzzle.Tagged: Anomalies and Alternative Science, cryptozoology, Loch Ness Monster, Nessie
And that’s my fault for not being clear. When I tell you to read a book in your chosen genre, I don’t mean do it so you can learn how those authors did it.
If you haven’t heard of our next gust, you soon will. Mr. Øivind Kristian Stavik hails from Norway and is the founder of an independent recording group called Jenny’s Vision Project. They mostly have a 80s Pop/Rock sound and have had their music featured all over the world. Many musicians and vocalists perform with them and helped the JVP with their goal of producing music of the highest quality. Musicians who wish to join the worldwide project are more than welcome to; however, they must keep in that the JVP expects those who wish to join to have high standards of quality as well. After all, the JVP was inspired by a beloved woman who died of cancer. Click here to check out the full story at Club1506.
I will add more as I go along.
I am on the last chapter of a book with the working title of Chronicles of Rachel Drake. This novel takes place on New Mexico Rt 666 and has Rachel investigating various legends and demons.
I am also finishing a novella with the working title of There Was A Chocolate Man. This story takes place in Rachel's hometown and involves a paranormal investigation and a serial killer.
Interview with Y.R. Jones - Winner of the April Fools' Query Contest!
A Tale of Questions, Answers, and Analysis
Hello, everyone! Hope you all had an awesome weekend and took a break from your query so you can get out of your writer cave, feel the sun on your face and go de-stress! Getting bombarded with criticism (constructive or no) can be stressful, and all of you guys deserve a pat on the back for putting your work out there to the public for review. Thank you again for being a part of my contest!
Miss Y.R. Jones was nice enough to take time out of her day to answer some questions for me. Without further ado, enjoy this interview with the winner:
1) Are you a pantser or a plotter?
You know, I was in denial for a long time about my Type A personality. I thought I could attempt my first ever MS writing on a whim – until it turned out garbage. So, I started writing as the true me—a plotter. It keeps me from rambling and creating scenes that don’t belong.
True dat! Plots are difficult things to control. I often wonder if other writers have as many issues with plotting as I do! It’s good to hear that I’m not alone.
2) Where did you get the idea for your novel?
Whew! (Breathe, Von) Let me see how I can make this short. I drew the idea of the MCs and the setting (college campus) from my first MS (based on events of my past). I truly believed a story was there; I just didn’t tell it well [at all] the first time. Then, I figured it needed a challenge (time travel), and the rest just came as I wrote new words.
3) How long did it take you to finish the first draft?
I’m almost done. :) But it’s taken me almost a year. I have an annoying habit of line-editing as I write, which takes me longer to churn out a first draft than it should.
I am the same way! Do you feel like you can’t move on to another scene if the first one isn’t almost perfect? I’m so jealous of people who can pump out a whole novel in three months!
4) How do you handle writer’s block?
I wait it out; I often develop writer’s block because my brain needs the break. Eventually, something in my life will inspire me again. I often tell myself, “There is no rush.” So far, it works.
5) Are you published anywhere?
Not anymore (self-publishing project gone wrong :: bangs head on keyboard :: ).
It happens. :)
6) What are your three favorite books and why?
“The Color Purple” is my #1. I’ve read it quite a few times. It gives me everything I need in one book—emotion (from sadness and pain to joy and pride), voice, and historical imagery. I draw some inspiration from “The Time Traveler’s Wife” (and no, not because it’s about time travel…lol) and Audrey Niffenegger’s ability to make me feel, see, and love her [flawed] characters. Hm, I don’t have a 3rd favorite, but I must say I love Ann Patchett’s writing style and her talent to evoke emotion. (In case you have noticed, I have a thing for emotional books. lol)
Flawed characters are the best characters, I think. It makes them so much more real.
7) What’s next for you? Have you started the querying process?
I plan to finish my first draft by the end of the month with full editing to begin immediately after. I hope to begin querying this summer, but it depends on how satisfied I am with the final product. (Note: I’m never totally satisfied.)
8) How do you handle harsh criticism?
Well, I prove them wrong, of course. Just kidding. Once the sting of the criticism wears off, I consider the comments with an open mind. Most of the time, the comments are spot on, and I ALWAYS aim to correct and do better. (The query and first 250 entered into this contest were actually improved due to the critiques I received from my first contest.) It may take me a while to get there (I struggle with accepting someone else’s opinion of me; who doesn’t, right?), but eventually, it gets done.
That’s a great attitude!
9) What keeps you from giving up when you’re feeling discouraged?
My children. When they start to drive me bonkers, I’m reminded that I’m not doing this just for me. They look up to me, and being their hero, I refuse to let them down.
10) Do you have a “soundtrack” for your novel?
Absolutely. Poor Ed Sheeran (his “+” album) is tired of playing on repeat, but his lyrics and rhythms allow me to connect with my MS and its characters – instead of typing just to meet a word count.
11) How was your experience in this contest? Anything you’d like to say to the other contestants?
It’s been pleasant and educational. I was able to learn from the feedback I received as well as learn from what the participants had to say about the other entries; it taught me what also appealed to readers that I didn’t include in my own query/work. I actually found myself liking stories that I, before the contest, would’ve never gravitated towards in a bookstore. The contest granted me the chance to explore outside of my genre, my comfort zone. So, thank you!
To my fellow contestants, remember that there are so many different styles of writing and a wide range of creative plots that appeal to all types of readers. Don’t let the criticism discourage you and your story. The contest was about HOW you present that story, and we all want to present our best. Keep working. Do NOT give up. Believe it or not, we ALL won from this contest, and I congratulate you all!
Great advice, Yvonne! Thank you for sharing with us! I am looking forward to reading your first three chapters. Good luck to you in the editing and querying phase.
The winning query and first 250 words:
Within the cold walls of his institute, Dr. Vincent Douvrey dedicated years to his innovations but none to his devoted wife. He never said “I love you”, and until her fatal car accident, he had no desire to say “I’m sorry”. Guilt-ridden and eager to deliver that apology in person, and even more eager to receive his next accolade in science, Vincent attempts his most recent innovation—transitory time travel by liquid ingestion.
But the tonic doesn’t transport him to three years prior. Instead, he awakens almost fifteen years into the past in a University of South Florida dorm room with passé décor. Thanks to Lacunar amnesia, Vincent doesn’t remember any moment or anyone he befriended his first time as a college student. However, an even greater obstacle plagues him: how to return to the future.
Vincent turns to the campus library for guidance, but his research leads him to meet Carmen, a junior student who is not his wife. Carmen is immediately smitten by his Grenadian accent and unfamiliar charm and he by her stunning beauty and unselfishness. Their magnetic passion brews a sultry love affair. Meanwhile, the thirty-five-year old man she believes is twenty-one continues to seek a reverse transport solution.
However, Vincent’s hope of returning home to his acclaimed work dwindles, forcing him to relive his past while loving a woman he knows he doesn’t marry. But when he makes a shocking discovery as to Carmen’s true identity, Vincent hastens to find a way to return to his rightful decade to learn the truth about his repressed past and her role in his future.
LIKE YESTERDAY is commercial fiction and complete at 90,000 words.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Dr. Douvrey possessed a keen talent to ignore. He ignored the resounding proclamation that time travel didn’t exist. He ignored his wife who loved him more than her nursing shoes worn to its last shred of rubber. He ignored his mother who told him that he wouldn’t succeed without her international clout. But this talent was often tested by his incompetent assistant of seven years, whom he observed from his chamber as she mixed and spilled chemicals onto his laminate lab table, incinerating it layer by layer. It was only the eleventh table he had to replace because of her; one more was sure to be tainted within the year. Dim smoke smothered her face, obstructing her view of the doctor’s narrowed eyes and furrowed brows. She owned a brilliant mind, but the doctor found it challenging each new day to ignore her fumbles, destructions, and blabbering. After four long breaths and a silent prayer for strength not to kill her, Dr. Douvrey turned his back towards the window and continued to shield himself within the glass room of toxic fumes, a poor attempt to escape her recurrent interferences and to maintain his state of being alone.
The chamber upheld its purpose of providing security and safety as well as being aesthetically pleasing to his eyes. Upon each entry of the room, the doctor often admired the stainless steel upon the ceiling and parts of the walls and the extensive counter space of which he performed all testing of his formulas.
Read this interview on my blog: http://thequeryfaeri...-query-contest/
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Thanks for reading!
Voice is hard to describe yet it's very obvious when it's there ... and when it's not.
I like reading a wide variety of different Voices. I definitely enjoy some Voices I could never emulate or create. I remember reading Erma Bombeck's hilarious accounts of her real life when I was in elementary school. Love her stuff but it's not a style/voice I could ever write.
I like the flowing fantasy style of Tolkien, the literary loveliness of LMM Montgomery, the darkness of so many dystopian writers.
But would my Voice be able to pull off any of these? Nope.
Maybe some day.
What about you? Do you enjoy reading Voices that are very different from your own?
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<p><strong>Quick writing update from Jean Oram:</strong> I have finished the first Summer Sisters book, <em>Love and Rumors</em>, and it is out for critiques before another editing pass by me and then going out for professional edits. This book will be released this summer. Book 2 is almost a third written and will also be out this summer as well. Wahoo!</p>
<p><strong>Have you read the Blueberry Springs series? Are you in NEED of a signed paperback of <em>Champagne and Lemon Drops</em>?</strong></p>
<p>Check this out!</p>
<p>This Sunday on Facebook, the woman who made the beautiful keychains and other one-of-a-kind Blueberry Springs items for my launch parties is holding a Lupus fundraiser.</p>
<div id="attachment_708" style="width: 486px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="http://www.jeanoram....ush).</p></div>
<p>You can help Denise spread the word about Lupus as well as with her fundraiser by joining the party on Facebook: <a title="Join the party for a chance to win!" href="https://www.facebook...2877627996/</a> or by purchasing a <a title="Beautiful Lupus t-shirt. Help the cuase and look good!" href="http://www.tfund.com/deniselupusevent" target="_blank">beautiful t-shirt here</a>.</p>
<p>Please note, I will also be donating a signed paperback of Champagne and Lemon Drops during the party! So be sure to pop by. (Open internationally.)</p>
<h4>Blueberry Springs Fan Art</h4>
<p><iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/oQucOJv6S0Q" height="315" width="420" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0"></iframe></p>
<p>This video was made for me by June Foster as a thank you for supporting Denise’s party mentioned above. Thank you June!! It’s wonderful.</p>
<div id="attachment_707" style="width: 702px" class="wp-caption aligncenter"><a href="http://www.jeanoram.... A.B.</p></div>
<p>Welcome to Blueberry Springs! A special thank you to Jane A. Bowen for creating this fun Blueberry Springs image. I love the population sign.</p>
<p><em><strong>Do you have Blueberry Springs fan art you’d like to share? A poem? Drawing? Image? Favourite quote? Video? Share it with me and be featured on my blog!</strong> <strong>Thanks for reading.</strong></em></p>
<p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Note:</strong> </span>For those waiting for <em>Rum and Raindrops</em> on iTunes…yeah, I broke something BIG at iTunes this time. My book is currently set at the highest priority for fixing the mystery problem…and so we wait. My apologies for breaking iTunes and creating a delay. I’ll let you know when the book is out on iTunes. Thank you for your patience. In the meantime, <a title="Rum and Raindrops" href="http://www.jeanoram....tforms</a>.</p>
<p>The post <a rel="nofollow" href="http://www.jeanoram....n Oram</a>.</p>
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