Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paranoia Pays Off

There's nothing a paranoid person loves so well as when something bad actually does happen, just so he can say, "Yes! I knew these last few years of tin foil hat-wearing would pay off big someday!"

What am I talking about? 

Total computer meltdown. Virusy mayhem. The sad, sorry badness visited upon my otherwise lily-white hard drive by casual, cyber-social intercourse.

You hear it all the time: back up your work. Without fail. And, you know, I heeded that advice so I have been spared Greek tragedy-level misery this week.

Of course, I backed up my stuff less because of a concern about a virus wreaking havoc and more because I've always feared my laptop being stolen, because, you know, I live in such a high-crime area. But still, one paranoid fear is as good as another.

But, seriously, I am ever so glad that I make a separate copy of all my work every day and keep it on a removeable drive because if I hadn't done that, I'd be cryin' in my pie* right about now.

(Actually, let's be real. It's not that I'm so good about following basic, common sense advice and more that I'm motivated by the fear of doing something painfully obvious that might have prevented a disastrous outcome. If I hadn't made a back-up and then whined about a virus laying my hard drive low, you know somebody would have said, "Well, did you back up your work?" And then I'd have to admit, no, I hadn't. Because I'm a blithe moron who deserves what I get.)

So just a friendly reminder to all of you out there. Make a back-up. Keep it separate from your computer. Do it every day. Wear your tin foil hat. Paranoia pays.

Oh, and let me just add that while it's incumbent upon all of us to take responsibility for protecting our precious files, I do hope whoever these people are who create these viruses someday enjoy a swim in the deep fat fryer of hell. They deserve it. Them and the people who don't pick up after their dogs and those ladies who tinkle on toilet seats in public restrooms and then look you in the eye as they exit the stall. You guys should all be turned into Satan's hushpuppies.

*Bogus Scottish expression. Feel free to use it. 

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Tuesday, October 18, 2011


I know at this point in my blogging career, readers have probably lost count of the number of things I’ve listed as literary pet peeves, but let me add this one: excessively quirky characters.

You know what I’m talking about:
Her name is Calliope and she’s a welder by day, an assassin by night. Her assassin’s weapon of choice? A spear gun! The darts of which have been dipped in radioactive curare! (Can curare be radioactive? I’ve never heard of that.) She loves mah-jongg, cranberry gelato, and dyes her hair a different color each day (Really? How does she have time to do that with all the assassinating and welding she’s doing?) She's on a mission to unearth the truth about her missing parents, both of whom were circus freaks/CPAs. (So they can, like, do my taxes while swallowing flaming swords or something? I'd actually pay extra for that, assuming they could get me a decent refund.)
Come on.

I think the reason for these sorts of over-the-top characterizations is that we authors are trying to avoid making obvious choices about what characters should be or act like.

I’m sympathetic. I am. Nobody likes to feel like they’re trotting out clich├ęs at every turn. There have been many times I’ve taken out references or changed direction plot-wise because I decided I was being too obvious (read: lazy) in my narrative choices.

So, yeah, obviously one should avoid being too obvious. But let’s not swing too far in the opposite direction either. I’m sure we can all count on one finger the number of people we know who are internationally-sought-after computer hackers and also accomplished flamenco dancers.

Have you ever created something—a plot twist, a relationship, a setting—and thought, “Hmm. No, that’s far too obvious.” What did you do about it?

And since no one says the word, “Obviously,” like Alan Rickman, I leave you with this:

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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Winner No. 2 of the BWB Blog Contest!

Here we go again! Another video for you to watch.

Keen observers will note that there's an uninstalled toilet in the corner of the room where this video was shot ... long story there ... one that involves a plumbing upgrade that's still in progress. But anyway, let's just get to that video, shall we?

There we have it! Thanks once again to everyone who entered. A big thank you to Molly Jaffa and Katie Grimm for doing the critiques. And, of course, it was a pleasure, as always, to work with my very own best writer-buddies, Renee Collins and Angelina Hansen! 

Oh, and speaking of Angelina, she'll have the last contest winner on Friday, 10/7. Don't forget to visit her blog to see if you won!

Monday, October 3, 2011

We've Got Our First BWB Contest Winner!

Here we go, folks! The first winner of the Best Writer-Buddy Blog Contest!

Go ahead and press play (this is the first video I've ever made for the blog so I hope it comes out OK):

Yay! Thank you to everyone who entered. What awesome stories you shared.

Don't forget, the second winner will be chosen (by video drawing again -- yes, I'm mad with power) on Wednesday., October 5! Then the final winner will be posted at Angelina's blog on Friday, October 7!