Monday, March 14, 2011

21 (Or So) Unsubtle Hints & Tips for Aspiring Authors

Having just returned from another in-person event, it's time to share some long-overdue behavior tips for those enthusiastic aspiring authors out there who have unintentionally danced on my last nerve. I say all of what follows with love, because I truly believe, in my heart of hearts, that you don't intend to come across as horrible, grasping, remora-like vampires, trying to suck my brains, life and energy away so that you can steal it all for yourselves.

So, in an effort to help you redeem yourselves and come across as the lovely, witty, intelligent, fascinating and literary people that you actually are, I present the following:

1. My genuine interest in YOU does NOT translate into genuine interest in whatever it is you're writing. I'm not an agent.
1a. Nor do I want to BE an agent. Stop suggesting it, like you think that I'm going to have that light bulb moment and not only decide, on the spot, to become a literary agent, but that, as my first act, I'll sign you, right there. What a story we'll have to tell! No, actually, we won't. Because I don't want to be an agent. Because agents actually have to read your work, and, because I'm not one, I don't.
2. No, I really don't want to hear about the books you've written, are writing, or want to write. I barely want to hear about my fellow published authors' next epic tomes. I certainly don't want to hear about yours. When it's on the shelves and I can hold it in my hot little hands, then I'll want to read it, and not a moment before.
3. No, your idea is not unique. At all. It doesn't matter, because it's HOW you write it that will make or break you, but truly, no more sharing of the GREAT idea you have, because I lecture frequently (and so I hear this a lot) and if I have to bite on my tongue too much more, it's going to become unattached to my mouth.
4. Yes, I give great advice. It's why they asked me to attend and speak. Yes, I give it freely AT THE EVENT. No, my great advice is not yours for the asking at any time of the day or night. I have a crit group. You're not in it. If you were, I'd be rooming with you. Not rooming with you? Not in my crit group.
5. Yes, I'm a fun girl, with a nice rack, sparkling wit, and an easy way around men. No, I'm not wearing my wedding ring. Because I don't want to lose it and my husband is fully aware that if I were going to cheat on him, the only men who would be likely to score are major Hollywood actors and/or rock stars. Are you a major Hollywood actor or a rock star? No? Then stop hitting on me. It's not endearing, it's rarely as flattering as you think it is, and it causes those who are helping me to pass the "dangerous stalker alert" sign amongst themselves.
6. No, I don't want to be your mentor. Also, you suggesting it like it would be a GREAT opportunity for ME is both hilarious and annoying. I do mentor people. I CHOOSE who I mentor, of course. Carefully. Over time. Not at the drop of a hat. And I don't mentor strangers, which is what you are -- a stranger I've met at an event.
7. No, your meeting an agent and getting his or her card does NOT mean you now have representation. It really doesn't. It also doesn't mean said agent will remember you 10 seconds after you left his or her sight. It also doesn't impress ME that an agent talked to you. Agents talk to me all the time. One, in particular, usually to say, "Are you meeting your deadline?"
8. No, you don't get to know the name of my agent. However, if I slip up and mention it, should you actually contact my agent and pretend I referred you, I will hunt you down and torture you slowly. I have friends in all the places, particularly the low ones -- don't take the risk, you won't like the result.
9. You're thrilled I gave you such good advice freely and with enthusiasm? Awesome! Pay me back by buying my books. Immediately, if not sooner.
10. You got my contact info and have followed up after the event. Bully for you! This shows great initiative, I'm proud of you. However, if the FIRST SENTENCES in that email don't include the information that you've bought my books and are reading/have read them, truly, don't expect me to be excited about replying.
11. If you haven't bought or read my books, why do you want my help? Maybe, if you read my books, you'd think I was a literary genius, and therefore would prostrate yourself to get any additional words of my wisdom. Or maybe you'd think my writing sucked. However will you know unless you buy and read my books? What an adventure awaits you!
12. If you read my books and did not like them, we can surely remain cordial, perhaps even friends if we really hit it off (in MY mind as well as in yours), but please don't ask me for advice, because if you don't like my writing, then my how to's and so forth are unlikely to apply to you. (See how much time you'll save by buying and reading my books? I do it all for you. Truly.)
13. No one is interested in the plot of your books. Or your characters. We're really not interested in you monopolizing the conversation to tell us about the fabulousness that is your unpubbed manuscript that no one is buying. Trust me, we don't want to know about it. It's as boring as someone telling us their dream, only worse, because your book is longer.
14. Stop sharing your ideas with the world. Mostly because we don't care, but additionally because if you actually happen to have hit upon a GOOD one, we're gonna steal it. Sorry, but that's how creativity rolls. Want to ensure no one grabs that "great idea"? Keep it to yourself.
15. Other than buying my books, the greatest thing you can do for me is to buy me a drink. Doesn't even have to be alcoholic. But buy me a beverage. If I'm sipping, I'm a lot more interested in whoever I'm sitting with.
15a. Grabbing something that's being given out free and handing it to me like you "got" it for me is not the same thing as sitting down and buying me a drink. I may seem incredibly distracted at times, but trust me, I'm hyper-aware of some things, and that's one of them.
16. Am I talking to an actual fan? Someone holding my book, telling me how they loved my book, squealing with joy because they're meeting me, any combination thereof? Am I selling the wonders of my book to a potential new fan who hasn't had the joy of reading my unique wit yet? I am? Then stand aside and wait your turn. My fans come first. People who read and do not write come before aspiring authors. Why? Fans and readers are why I write. Other authors are who I hang out with when not writing.
16a. Are you a fan? Who also aspires to publication? Awesome, go to the head of the line. But still, remember, while I love you so much more than the others, you still need to learn the rules. Because it hurts me to not love one of my fans. And if you do all the don'ts, it will make me not want to love you. And that would make me very sad.
17. No matter what you did or didn't pay to attend, it's not all about you and your books. If you're asking questions, please remember that no one else in the room cares about whatever specific plot, writing, or publishing challenge you're having. Broad, general interest questions are great. Specifics to your current WIPs are not.
17a. Remember #15? There is no better way to score an author's undivided attention than to offer to buy them a drink. Preferably at a nice bar or coffee shop, where they can sit down and relax while chatting with you about your literary aspirations. Buy them a meal and they'll be happy to go over details with you.
18. Don't ask me to read your story. My answer will always be no. Sometimes it might be a very kind no, but not always. I'm busy writing my own books and reading my crit partner's books. I have no time for your books, and it's unlikely that I ever will. Plus, every author knows someone with the "they stole my idea!" horror story, and I refuse to go there.
18a. Don't tell me, while shoving your story that I don't want to read at me, that you know I'll enjoy it. I know I won't. How do I know? Because those writing stories I want to read don't need to shove their stuff at me. I'm usually emailing them, asking when their next book is out, dammit, and/or I'm buying their books at the event bookstore. Is your book coming out or at the bookstore? No? Then I don't want to read it.
18b. If I actually WANT to read your book, you'll know, because I'll suggest you send it to me. If I don't ask, please don't offer.
19. You can give me all your contact info, phone number included, but I'm not calling you (unless my car's broken down in your neighborhood). I'm not writing TO you, either. You can contact me (see #s 9-12 above), but I'm never going to initiate the conversation. I don't initiate the conversation to my mum, my mother-in-law, my cousin, my sisters-in-law, my closest girlfriends, or anyone else, really. I'm a terrible correspondent and a very busy girl. My friends and family are used to it. I initiate conversations with my husband, my daughter, my agent, my editor, and my crit partner. Are you one of them? No? Then don't count on me initiating with you.
20. Personal hygiene is your friend. Extra deodorant is always a good idea. So is mouthwash. So is dental floss. Ladies, this applies to you as well.
21. When I or another published author are speaking, particularly if we are answering a question of yours, or are making a comment about how to write and/or get published -- PARTICULARLY if we're leading a panel, teaching a class, are at the bar, or at dinner -- please shut the hell up and let us talk. That goes double if it's an editor or an agent speaking. You interrupting us to tell us how we're wrong, how we're right, about your book, about your characters, who you've subbed to, or to crack an inappropriate and/or unfunny joke does not endear you to any of us. No one likes a boor, those of us who know what that word means especially.
21a. The quickest way to make me regret speaking to you is to keep on talking to me when I want to listen to someone else. This is worse if we're in a presentation that someone else is doing. Exponentially worse if it's a presentation being done by someone I admire and/or happen to be friends with. Worse to infinity if I have to tell you more than once to hush up until the presentation is over.
21b. Silence is truly golden. Ask your question, shut up, let us talk, don't interrupt, laugh at the appropriate times, nod, take notes, etc., and you'll be amazed at how much we enjoy having you around.

There you have it. How to go from obnoxious to charming in 21 (or so) easy steps. Please memorize this list before my next in-person event. We'll both be happier if you do.


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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Movie Review: The A-Team

Let me start by saying that I'm a huge fan of "The A-Team" TV show, so this is going to be part review and part comparison. Which, if you're making a movie from a TV show, you'd better be prepared to have happen.

When I say that I loved the original A-Team, I'm not exaggerating. My friends and I had our own A-Team GANG. (I was Face, because even then, we all believed in truth in advertising.) I own seasons 1 & 2 on DVD, and I watched the show all 5 seasons it was on. Well, I watched it religiously for seasons 1 & 2, hopefully for seasons 3 & 4, and then backed away when the show jumped not only the shark but all of Sea World in the last know, when suddenly the team was "working for the government" and added on a semi-cute Hispanic guy to bring in absolutely no viewers? Yeah, I've tried to block that season out, too.

One of the great things about the TV show, at least its first two seasons, was that there was a girl in the mix, and she was, while pretty, a normal person. The way everyone acts, you'd think that only the male half of the population were watching the show, but that's not reality -- women and girls liked this show, too. In part because of the Amy character.

Somewhere in contract negotiations for season 3, apparently the producers decided cute and normal had to go, and dumped Melinda Culea (who every female viewer was attached to) for some chick whose name I cannot recall. New Chick was very curvy and sexy and was possibly my first introduction to the concept of why the "hottie" chicks are hard to buy as brilliant. She stank up the place, and I can't recall now if she even lasted the full season, but by season 4 it was just all dudes.

All dudes was okay, but it wasn't the SAME.

Which brings me to the movie. (I know, finally. Well, I did warn you.)

The casting for the movie was great, and I'm grateful for it. Liam Neeson isn't George Peppard, but he channels Peppard as Hannibal, while updating the character to make him a lot more badass (I know! But yes, it's possible!) and a lot less campy (trust me, that was definitely possible).

Bradley Cooper isn't Dirk Benedict, but in the 80's they never let Dirk take his shirt off, and in the new millennium teens we get to see Bradley's most awesome pecs and abs...not once, not twice, but at least three times. This movie was in the "win" column for that alone. But I digress...

Bradley does a fine job as Face. True we don't see him do a lot of what Face does best -- con people -- but he does enough, and the storyline didn't allow for more. Maybe in A-Team 2.

Sharlto Copley was epic as Howling Mad Murdoch. I really wasn't sure that someone could hang in Dwight Schultz's crazy tennies, but Sharlto came through big time. His cute little accent wasn't a distraction, either, because, hey, he's crazy, and Murdoch used accents all the time in the TV show.

The one casting decision I wasn't worried about from Day 1 was Quinton "Rampage" Jackson as B.A. Baracus. He's no Mr. T -- but then again, who IS? (and, yes, I agree, Mr. T looks like he's been in a cryogenic chamber for 20 years, and considering the health issues the man fought through and survived, there's your real life hero) -- but he did a great job in the role as I'd known he would.

And now, to the chick. What the movie people apparently "get" that the TV people forgot is that women like a character they can relate to. Jessica Biel did a fine job, possibly my fave role of hers yet. I'm not thrilled with the implications that Face's ex-but-really-we-want-to-be-TOGETHER-girlfriend will be "the" chick for the movie series, but I'll take her over no chick at all. And she's given a position of authority -- she's an Army Captain (then demoted, then promoted again!) working for the Department of Defense.

As for the plot -- stuff blows up real good! Which is true, but somewhat unfair. We get an origin story for how the team formed, we get to see them together and see the bond. In the show, while Hannibal and Face had the father/son thing, B.A. and Hannibal were more like pals, equals despite the differences in rank, and Murdoch was the crazy aunt in the basement. In the movie, Hannibal's a father figure to the other three, and I liked that a lot. It was vital to the storyline, but it also makes the characters a little more real to me -- for B.A. and Murdoch in particular, until they run across Hannibal, their lives aren't going where they want. With Hannibal leading them, they really become a team and therefore a family. My Three Kickbutt Sons, if you will.

But those kinds of meaningful things are implied, because more than anything what the A-Team name promises and this film delivers is action. It's almost nonstop and it's good. I could buy even the ludicrous because, hey, they're all Army Rangers, and so happy to BE Rangers that they all have the badass Ranger tattoo on their arms. So I could suspend the ol' disbelief and I enjoyed it all. Except for one thing.

Standard Handheld Camera For Action/Fight Scenes Rant: Really, Hollywood, can someone there get it through their thick heads that we want to SEE who is hitting who and what is blowing up WITHOUT getting seasick at the same time? Good lord, when will this trend end? EVER?

The movie has an intricate plot that's still easy to follow, satisfying bad guys and situations set up to ensure that our heroes are going to HAVE to escape to the Los Angeles Underground where, hopefully soon, someone will have a problem that no one else can help with and they'll find and hire the A-Team. And also hopefully, Face will be naked or semi-naked several times again, just 'cause.

A note about the cameos: First off, Mr. T is not in it, so don't even hope for that. He's not in it because his passion really IS protecting children. The TV show set that up and kept that up -- not only did you know that B.A. was a big grizzly who'd turn into a teddy bear at the sight of a kid, and then right back to grizzly to protect said kid, but the violence was all 'safe'. The A-Team really was a live-action cartoon (and I say that with love, because, let's remember, I watched said live-action cartoon). Cars flipped, bombs exploded, bullets flew, and the most that ever happened was a flesh wound to B.A. that happened off-screen. No one ever got hurt, and the most "action" any of the guys saw was a semi-tongue kiss.

Not so with this movie. People die, as they should when that many bullets are flying about. There isn't a lot of sex, though there is a lot of sexual tension between Face and D.O.D. Chick. But there is pain and injury and death. It's fine for the movie, after all, thing are different 20+ years later, but I can see why Mr. T opted out.

Before I get to the other cameos TV show fans care about, there were two cameos I particularly enjoyed. Henry Czerny, who played the C.I.A. boss in "Mission: Impossible" (the first movie) was here as the D.O.D. boss. If that was supposed to be an in-joke that he's the boss of two agencies in two movies made from two TV shows, I got it. If not, I still enjoyed his presence. LOL.

Jon Hamm of "Mad Men" fame is also in there as a C.I.A. operative, and I suspect he'll be back for the next movies, at least I hope so.

Now, onto what the TV fans care about, cameos-wise. George Peppard has, of course, been acting on the heavenly stage for many years now. But Dirk Benedict and Dwight Schulz had cameos. If you want to see them, sit through the credits, because that's where they are.

Now, before you get righteously wrathed, you can tell from the scenes that they were shot to be IN the movie. And once you see them, you'll thank God the director put them after the credits.

Why? Well, yes, Dirk looks old. Dirk IS old, and he had a lot of health issues he fought through (this show had a lot of illness related to it), and the miles are showing, but still, it's not that. Dwight was almost unrecognizable -- he's actually aged well, but his face has somehow become almost rectangular. He still SOUNDS like Murdoch, but he sure doesn't look like him any more.

Both their scenes were funny. BUT...both their scenes would have ruined the movie. Why? Because they instantly pulled me out of the film. Instantly. I wasn't thinking, "Oh, wonder what's coming now." I was thinking, "My God, is that Dirk Benedict? How old IS he? That old? Well, looking good for that old, I guess. Hell, which one is Dwight Schultz? That can't be him. That IS him!" And so on. This kind of audience reaction does not a successful film make. And everyone still there at the end of the credits was having it.

I'm sure both actors are disappointed to be after the credits (but their scenes ARE worth waiting for), but it was the right choice. The movie has to stand on its own, with the new actors interpreting the roles. In my opinion, it does a great job, and is a success. I'll be buying the DVD as soon as it comes out.

Just hoping there's a "Bradley Cooper's Naked Outtakes" section.


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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Movie Review: Hamlet 2

A friend of mine, Amber (of The Amber Scott Project fame), has been insisting to me for ages that I had to watch "Hamlet 2". I hadn't felt the need when this flashed in and out of theaters, but since it's on DVD and, since Amber brought it to me, and also since you don't hold onto your pals' fave DVDs without watching them, I so watched.

And. Oh. My. God.

It's hilarious.

Now, it's probably not the best movie ever made, though it's certainly the funniest one made about people in Tucson. The movie stars Steve Coogan, he of the Ben Stiller Gang, aka the Director in "Tropic Thunder", the Roman General in the "Night at the Museum" movies, and so on. And he's brilliant. But so is the rest of it.

It's your standard "teacher inspires" movie crossed with "Fame" and with a hearty helping of "Midsummer Night's Dream", and, of course, "Hamlet", and a lot of scatological and sacrilegious humor tossed in -- then turned on its ear and pulled inside out. (Those in the creative arts will particularly find a lot of relatability to the characters, embarrassingly so.) It takes shots at racism, fundamentalism, arts funding cuts that have removed any and all arts from schools, the ACLU, and more, all while managing to show that the power of dreams will ultimately win out.

Like the "teacher inspires" movies it's poking fun at, Coogan is a drama teacher. Unlike those other movies, he's rather pathetic and the one in need of saving. Like "A Midsummer Night's Dream", the truly hilarious portion is at the end, when the play that our intrepid drama teacher and his class of misfits are trying to put on actually hits the stage. But all the 3/4 of the movie prior is not only funny, it's all necessary to get the full pee-your-pants laughs out of the last 1/4.

The kids are mostly unknowns, the adults include Coogan, Catherine Keener (bravely being a total, completely believable, emasculating bitch), David Arquette (and, just asking, but can David really be as stupid in real life as he acts on the DVD extras? I say no, that he's just wise to his typecasting and doesn't want anyone to ever think he's actually bright so that he continues to work steadily), and Elisabeth Shue. Shue deserves some sort of award for clearly being the celebrity most willing to make fun of herself. She sort of made the movie for me, just because every scene it was like, "I can't BELIEVE she let them do or say that about her, OMG, she said it herself!" sort of thing.

I could describe the movie's plot, but why? This is truly one where you have to watch it and commit to watching it the whole way through. The payoff is worth the time.

And I defy you to not watch the cast perform "Rock Me, Sexy Jesus" and NOT wonder why these kids aren't the stars of "Glee". Or at least their ghetto rivals.


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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Fun Times With Stupid People

I was out to lunch with my daughter the other day and was sharply reminded that stupid people come in all sizes, shapes, colors and ages.

There were two well-over-55-years-old women in front of us at the restaurant. They were staring at the hostess stand as if they'd never seen one before. They stood well back from it, lest the hostess leap over and attack. My daughter waited a bit, then moved around them and put our name in. Then and only then did the women approach the hostess to put their names in. They did it in clear English, so they weren't foreign visitors.

Okay, I know what you're thinking -- they just weren't sure if they wanted to eat there, right? That's what I thought. I mean, they looked like any other set of older ladies, and they didn't have a handler with them, so one assumes they dressed themselves and drove themselves to the restaurant.

I didn't give them another thought...until I went to the bathroom.

While on my way, I passed one of the women. The restaurant owners have pictures of famous and semi-famous people who've eaten there on the walls. The woman was looking at them. I walked right by her, and she looked straight at me, and the ONLY place I could go once past her was either the women's room or the men's. Period. The pictures are literally outside the bathrooms. One step away from the pictures puts you at the restroom doors.

There were two stalls, one was occupied, I took the other. Said woman wanders in after me.

NOW. She's SEEN me go past, so she KNOWS at least one person is in here. But we're being rather quiet. So she sort of pushes on the doors. They don't budge. At this point, a normal person says to themselves, "Both taken, I'll wait. Or look under the doors for feet. Or listen for the sound of flushing." But not this woman.

Another woman comes in, and the woman says to her, "I can't tell if there are any stalls here." She's standing in front of them, mind you, and has already pushed on the doors. The new occupant shares that, look, there are stalls. Mrs. Idiot then says, "Well, there's no sounds and the doors won't open." The other woman shares that, perhaps, just maybe, there are women IN the stalls already and they aren't having gastrointestinal problems so are being quiet. Mrs. Idiot replies, "Oh, I don't know how that could be."

Really? It must be nice to live in a world where you never have to wait for a bathroom stall, EVER. I don't live there, but apparently on Planet Stupido, they have a no waiting policy.

At this point, the other toilet flushes, and shortly thereafter, the occupant leaves. At which point Mrs. Idiot says, "Oh! Is there only one stall and it just fills the whole place?"

Keep in mind, this woman SAW ME GO IN and had NOT seen me go OUT. I'm fairly positive my doppelganger wasn't in the next stall and, sadly, I'm not some tiny wisp of a thing no one would ever notice. Therefore, why would she assume there was only one stall? Where did I go, where was I? France? In the plumbing? Lurking at the back of the "extendo-stall" she apparently decided this was? In the men's room? I'm clearly a girl, so that one's out, too.

The other occupant says, "No, there are two stalls. Two doors, two stalls." Mrs. Idiot says, "Oh, but I didn't hear anything and I couldn't open either one." The other occupant says, "Yes. Because people were and are in them." She chose not to deal with the sound comment -- I was awed by her restraint.

Mrs. Idiot is still remarking on this phenomenon as she enters the stall, I flush mine, and so forth The woman waiting for my stall gave me the universal look for, "what an idiot" and waggled her eyebrows at the other stall. I nodded. No words needed to be said.

But, here's my question. How do you reach AARP age in a big city in the USA without understanding the basic concepts of hostess stands and bathrooms while at the same time having no apparent major learning disorders?

Has this woman's life been SO charmed that she has never, EVER, had to wait for something, not even a bathroom stall? Has the concept of telling someone you'd like to be seated never been one she's had to pay attention to? She didn't look like some former celebrity, if she's part of any royal family they need to stop inbreeding immediately, and no one was acting like her picture needed to be added onto the Wall of Fame by the bathrooms.

Which leaves me with this conclusion: I'm really glad I was in the stalls BEFORE her and got out before she did whatever it is that she does that would alert the world to her stall being occupied.

It's the little things you cherish, after all.


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Monday, December 7, 2009

The Gift That Keeps on Giving...and Giving and...

As the holidays bear down upon us, my thoughts turn, as they so often do, to things I never, ever want to receive again.

This list is, as you can imagine, quite long by now. I've been on the planet a few decades and I've gotten a lot of crap I never need to see again. A bouffant-sized shower cap (I have fine hair and wash it every day, and I've never in my life worn it up in a bouffant), a sea otter ashtray (I do not now, nor as an asthmatic have I ever or will I ever, smoke), overpowering-smelling shower gel (I'm also scent allergic and I also don't like to smell like an old-fashioned whorehouse), and so on. But the worst gift ever was the so-called gift of Amish Friendship Bread.

For those few who have somehow managed to avoid this exercise in bacteria, the Amish Friendship Bread has supposedly been around for centuries. The way it works is that a "friend" gives you a plastic cup half filled with some semi-viscous substance that through the magic of yeast and some Amish black magic (trust me on this one) doubles in size overnight.

The idea is that you divide the "half cup" you get and give your "extra" off to a friend. And the thing that makes this a quaint and special gift is that, supposedly, you still have some molecules of the original Friendship Bread from however many centuries ago, when the first Amish housewife decided to get back at everyone she knew in a really nasty and yet totally Christian way.

This is a great plan in theory. The bread is, despite or perhaps because of the centuries of bacteria and God alone knows what else in it, quite delicious. It makes a hefty loaf, too.

Which is awesome for Octomom and those horrible Gosselin people (who, let's be honest, might not actually have friends to obtain Friendship Bread from...but I digress...) and anyone else who has an army to feed on a nightly basis. But for those of us with smaller families, baking a huge loaf of bread a day gets a little ridiculous.

Yes, you have to bake a loaf a day. Or you end up with far more than just one "extra" bread-ick-in-a-cup to hand out. You end up with tons. Because that stuff really does double in size overnight. Each portion doubles overnight. Every night.

Oh sure, at first it sounds great. Home-baked bread, a gift out of nowhere for your friends, what's not to like? But it never ends. First you take it into work, but by the 3rd day, everyone at work has some and is trying to pass it back to everyone else. Then you start getting to know your neighbors. Then your entire zip code. Then your entire state. No matter who you are, no one, not even Oprah, can get rid of all the Friendship Bread one single half-cup can create in less than two weeks. It takes on a life of its own. You spend all your time trying to give the Friendship Bread away. The homeless are too smart to take it, and after two or three weeks, everyone else in the world shuns you. It's evil, pure and simple.

My BBFF got some Friendship Bread a couple of weeks ago. She loves to cook (I know, what am I doing with a BBFF like that?) and was all excited about it. I merely laughed, probably the same low, evil laugh that original Amish housewife gave when she handed off the first set of this stuff. Because I knew what was going to happen, despite my BBFF's protests that she would keep it going forever.

Needless to say, when she was talking me today about her Christmas baking, the Amish bread didn't come up. When I asked about it, she said, "Oh, I said screw it and threw that crap away. It's a pain in the ass." I was the bigger person and only said, "I told you so," a few times.

Of course, the issue with something that keeps on doubling is that you can toss it into the garbage, but it's STILL going to double. So, when the Christmas Blob comes down the chimney, you'll know who to thank.

Not me, of course. But if you're looking for a bouffant-sized shower cap, drop me a line and you could find it under the tree. Nestled there right next to your Amish Friendship Bread Starter Set that you got from "Santa".



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Monday, October 5, 2009

Movie Review: Zombieland

As many of you may know, I'm not much of a girl for horror movies. They scare me much more than just a little. (Because I believe them, but that's a whole 'nother blog in and of itself.)

So it came as something of a shock to my husband when I asked, nay demanded, to see 'Zombieland' this weekend. Because I did so demand. Loudly and with great insistence.

You see, 'Zombieland' isn't so much a horror movie as it is an action comedy. And I love me some action and comedy. And 'Zombieland' did not disappoint. Point blank, I loved this movie.

First off, let me say that the trailers actually do this movie justice. They show you exactly what it is without revealing all the big moments or all the belly laughs. If you like the trailer, you'll love the movie.

Next is the cast. No one does 'wacked out, good ol' boy with more savvy than you realize' better than Woody Harrelson. This may be my favorite role of his, ever. The rest of the cast are great, too. And there's a surprise cameo that a room full of zombies couldn't get me to 'spoil', but it's both perfect and hilarious. Easily the best cameo since Billy Zane, that cool dude, announced it was a walk-off. (Waves to other 'Zoolander' fans out there. I guess I like 'Z' movies.)

The storyline is presented in a fresh and funny way, and the stunts are way cool. I'm sure the movie's making some kind of social commentary, but I didn't bother to try to find it or figure it out -- it was enough fun that I didn't have to.

Now, for the zombies. They're gross and scary while managing to be funny at the same time. I consider that a hard trick to pull off. Someone compared this movie to 'An American Werewolf in London', but I think 'Zombieland' is far better. I hated AAWIL, for starters, and I loved 'Zombieland'. I also think 'Zombieland' has a real chance of standing the test of time without becoming hilariously dated. Time, of course, will tell, but my money's always on the funny.

Even my husband, Mr. Contrary, enjoyed it. He said he didn't feel the need to see it again, but he really liked it in the theater.

Well, when it comes out on DVD, he doesn't have to watch it with me, now, does he?


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Young Writer Scholarship Opportunity

An agent friend of mine has a great scholarship opportunity that I'd like to publicize. It's centered around the Society of Southwestern Author's conference in Tucson at the end of September, 2009, however you don't have to be a Tucson resident to apply or win, you just need to be able to get to Tucson and attend the conference.

Details below...

I would like to introduce a scholarship opportunity to a high school-aged young writer in the Tucson area for the Wrangling with Writing Conference in September 2009. First, let me tell you a little about our program, so you have an idea about the organization that is offering this opportunity.

I am the president and founder of Capitol City Young Writers (CCYW), a national non-profit organization dedicated to the education and inspiration of young writers. CCYW’s goal is to educate members on the art and craft of writing and to provide opportunities for young writers to pursue their writing and literary dreams.

CCYW provides career exploration, writing workshops, scholarships, internships and leadership opportunities. Members discover the skills necessary to enter literary related careers such as editing, journalism or broadcast radio. From fiction and non-fiction, to poetry, screenwriting, songwriting and broadcast radio, students are supported through workshops bringing professionals and mentors together in local communities through online tutorials, annual conferences, a youth run literary journal, writing and audio competitions, and mentoring.

Because I believe in the power of community, I attempt to bring as many opportunities to local young writers in the form of scholarships to local writers’ conferences. The Society of Southwestern Authors has provided CCYW with two scholarships to their writers’ conference from September 25th-27th. The scholarship provides tuition only and not the cost of travel, lodging or meals. Scholarships are open to high school students only and a parent must accompany the member. Scholarships are only available to CCYW members. For more information about the conference, please visit

For more information about the organization or membership, please visit the CCYW website,

Feel free to contact me with any questions.

Thank you,
Verna Dreisbach

Founder and President of CCYW
Verna's the greatest and the CCYW is a wonderful organization, and I encourage anyone who fits the requirements to try for this scholarship.


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