Your Baby Is Ugly

We all think our own babies are beautiful. Our extended families do, too. Perhaps they—and we—see something beyond the physical. Perhaps we add the preparation and labor to our overall vision of this baby and, because of all that went into having the baby, we think it must be beautiful. We could not imagine a world where all that work resulted in something . . . if not downright ugly, possibly subpar, or at best average.

Why are we talking about this? you wonder. Because your manuscript is your baby. And, sweetie, it’s ugly.

At least, it’s ugly when it first comes out. Then it gets cleaned up a bit, and looks a little better. Once you start really caring for it, your baby might not be model material, but at least it no longer looks like an alien. It looks, you know, babylike.

For all of you birthing novels during NaNoWriMo, keep this in mind. Your first draft is ugly. That doesn’t mean you can’t show it to anyone. You don’t have to throw a blanket over your baby’s head and hide it from the world. Actually, what you should do is show it only to people you trust. People you know will tell you the truth about it—but gently. By which I mean, find a critique group. They’re a “parenting group for writers.” Some of them have experience because they have a lot of children themselves. Some don’t. But they’re all there to support you.

And if you’re a member of one of these groups, remember to first compliment the baby! “She has beautiful eyes,” you might say. “Look how blue!” Do that before pointing out, “But her feet are deformed. You might want to do something about that.”

(I’ll admit, coming from an editing background I sometimes forget to do the complimenting part. But I do try to remember!)

Bottom line: every baby is born ugly. They get cuter as they grow. Just be sure to take good care of it, and seek advice from other book parents as needed.

Remakes Blogfest

So the point of this blogfest, as conceived of by Alex J. Cavanaugh and Heather M. Gardner, is to blog about a favorite remake. This means movie, song, whatever. Is there any time a remake is as good as—maybe even better?—than the original? Of course, that’s a matter of opinion. So FWIW, here’s mine.

My favorite remakes tend to be songs. Two in particular spring to mind. I really like Sheryl Crow’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Mississippi.” To be fair, I heard Crow’s version first, so I had no preconceived notions of the song going in. I think we often prefer the first version we see or hear of something because that’s the one that makes the lasting impression. We can appreciate other renditions, but it’s not the same.

The second cover I particularly enjoy is Rob Thomas’ [gasp! you’re so surprised, I know!] version of Smashing Pumpkins’ “1979.”

Here’s the original, which is a great song in its own right:

You can listen to Rob’s version on iTunes here.

I was never into Smashing Pumpkins much, so I think my love of the remake is probably rooted in my love for Rob and his music. Matchbox Twenty did a really haunting version of Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again,” too, which I adore. You can listen to that here. Compare it to the relatively upbeat original here. I do really admire artists who can take something and completely transform it.

A Funny Thing Happened…

I started re-reading Henry Jenkins’ Textual Poachers yesterday, and that prompted me to look up fanzines online. I was curious, really, whether anyone still publishes hard copy fanzines, or if it’s all just FanFiction.net and that kind of thing now. I guess I was just feeling a bit nostalgic. I started out as a fanfic author, after all, and a young one at that—I would turn up as a guest at cons and no one would believe I was who I said I was. (Remember, they couldn’t just look me up online back then. Yes, I’m old.)

Anyway, one zine I was published in was called Texas Revelations, though it only had about four issues. And I stumbled on this Wiki site and, well, I was floored. I don’t know why. It’s not like anyone did a page about me specifically, but hey, I got a mention.

Perhaps I should mention that I used to be A.C. Langlinais. Back in the day.

Not only that, but someone made a separate entry for my undergraduate thesis project, which was an X-Files spec script called “The Bane.” There’s a photo of it. How did they even get a copy?! (To be clear, I wrote a short story version of “The Bane,” which is the one published in Texas Revelations. The story started as a back-and-forth writing project between me and my best friend Tara.)

I’m weirdly flattered. And a little freaked out. But mostly flattered. I was definitely more successful as a fanfic author, if by “success” one means “widely read and praised.” I didn’t make any money, of course, but I was asked to conventions and got a lot of great fan mail. Ah, those were the days.

Moving on, let’s not forget today’s WIPjoy:

18. Share a line you absolutely love.

I think the opening line to the novel is wonderful (and many others have said so, too), but here’s another little exchange I love:

All sweetness left my mother’s face. “I loved him, too.”
“Clearly, since you went and got another one just like him.”

WIPjoy #17

17. If ___ liked my book, I’d die happy.

Oooh. I don’t know. School librarians, maybe? I’d love to see my book shelved in libraries and/or recommended by teachers. (Not as a substitute for the actual Hamlet, of course, but as something to enjoy in addition to Shakespeare’s work.)

And I’d certainly be happy to see my book in the hands of just about any modern Shakespearean actor. I’d hope they’d get a kick out of it.

WIPjoy #14

14. Who is the MC’s best friend?

Bea Polley, of course.

The Polleys live next door—well, as close to “next door” as one can be to a huge estate—to the Deys. Nerissa grew up in Beverly Hills, but she spent her summers in England, and so she’s known Bea (short for Beatrice) since childhood. Even though the actual amount of time they’ve spent together is relatively small, they’re in constant contact. To Nerissa, Bea feels “real” in comparison to all the other girls at her boarding school.

Bea is of mixed race and has hair she can’t do anything with, which is why she prefers to style Nerissa’s. Bea has real talent in that area. Bea is also sane and acts as Nissa’s conscience and voice of reason.

In short, Bea is Nerissa’s Horatio.

All Hallows Write

The Rules:

#1 – Provide a BRIEF description of your novel before starting.
#2 – Don’t use the same character for more than 3 answers.

Okay, so here is my brief description of my novel:

Sixteen-year-old Nerissa Dey must do her father’s ghost’s bidding by bringing his murderers to justice.

More of a log line, but whatever.

The Questions:

1. It’s Halloween night! What is your protagonist dressed up as?

Probably something she could just pull out of her closet. She’s not the type to have planned ahead and bought a costume. She might put on a gown and some makeup and be a starlet, or just wear a lot of black and go goth for the night.

2. Who in your cast refuses to dress up and shows up at the Halloween party without a costume?

Well, if that’s an option, probably Nerissa.

3. Which character wears the most outrageous costume, and what would it be?

Nerissa’s mother Ophelia. She loves attention. So she’d definitely be in something slinky and eye catching. Maybe the Queen of Hearts.

4. On Halloween, werewolves, vampires, and zombies are on the prowl. Which of your characters gets caught in their clutches, and which creature do they subsequently turn into?

Poor Gwendolyn. This might be her fate. She’d be a werewolf, but a very cute and sweet one.

5. Who wins the contest for best costume?

Rosalind? Probably Rosalind.

6. Who hands out toothbrushes to the trick and treaters?

This is unintentionally funny (you’ll see why when you read the book). Um, Uncle Eoin. Cuz he sucks.

7. Which two of your characters decide to pair up and do an angel/devil costume together?

Rosalind and Gwendolyn would do this. Rosalind as the devil, of course, and Gwendolyn as the angel.

8. Someone is too scared to even attend the Halloween party. Who is it?

This could also be Gwendolyn.

9. Who overdoses on Halloween candy and ends up sick?

Liam? He’s kind of big and dumb and

10. Which character is most likely to place a curse/hex on someone and who would they curse?

Ophelia (Nissa’s mom) is nasty enough to do it. But I don’t think she’d curse Nerissa since she (Ophelia) is very aware of appearances. So she’d curse Nissa’s best friend Bea, just to get at Nerissa, or possibly to drive them apart.

Your turn! You can grab the rules and questions from this Tumblr page. #AllHallowsWrite

WIPjoy #12

12. Song/s on your MC’s playlist.

She would never admit to this, but she likes some of the music her dad listens—or listened—to. Like Fleetwood Mac and Elton John and The Police and (very, deeply secretly) Jim Croce. And the usuals from that period, too, like Pink Floyd and Queen. Maybe a bit of Moody Blues. Classic rock, basically, and while she probably wouldn’t be teased for it, Nissa errs on the side of caution and doesn’t really talk about her taste in music. Her friends can blare the latest radio pop star and she’ll just nod.

Playlist would include:

“Friends” by Elton John
“A Kind of Magic” by Queen
“Operator” by Jim Croce
“Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2
“Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac
“In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel
“Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic” by The Police*
“The Road and the Sky” by Jackson Browne
“Breathe” by Pink Floyd

*This is the one Nerissa dances to in her room when no one else is around.

WIPjoy #10

10. Describe your MC with a phrase for each of the 5 senses.

Nerissa’s skin is smooth, but her attitude is rough around the edges. Marc Jacobs’ Daisy wafts from the swing of her hair. Her tongue—her very voice—is the cracking of a whip. “I wish I could tan,” she says, “but I’m so pale, I practically glow at night.” Her words tend to be bitter, but at the core she’s sweet.

WIPjoy #9

9. How would your MC use Twitter?

Actually, I think she avoids Twitter, and I’ll tell you why. Her dad is famous. If Nerissa tries to go on Twitter, all she gets are requests for pics of her dad, questions about her dad, etc. Even if she makes up a name and identity, she gets ferreted out. Her dad advises against bothering with most social media, so Niss mostly texts and Skypes or FaceTimes her friends and that’s about it.

She might have Instagram though.