Monday, December 19, 2011

Experiment in Sleep Deprivation or How To Ruin Christmas For the Whole Family

Final Update: He's sick.

Update December 21, 10:00 am:

He did it! This morning marked the end of his experiment and he is now sound asleep. We have yet to determine what is left of his brain after 72 hours of no sleep and video game overload. So far, the rest of the family is intact, and as far as sickness...we'll need a few days to see how that goes.

He hasn't been home during most of the event, just last night. (Hence the dim glow from the family room all night.) These next few days will tell all in terms of the aftermath.

Special thanks to Heather Bready for providing the giant, green-tinted TV for the video game all-nighters. Stuart said, "Please can we keep it?"

Quote of the Day: "I'm not going to get sick!" ~my son

My son, who is a senior in high school, has worked out some weird extra credit arrangement with his AP Psychology teacher. He gets 25 extra points if he does a sleep deprivation experiment for 72 hours and records how it affects him. I find serious flaws in this plan.

Today marks 24 hours of no sleep for him.

When I called him this morning to see how things went last night, he told me he and his friends were waiting outside for Deseret Industries Thrift Store to open so they could buy more TVs for their stay-awake-all-night-gaming strategy. (Let me also say that he seems a little put-out that we won't just let him take the new 56" flat-screen TV over to his friend's house. Go figure.)

I don't think this brilliant psychology teacher took into account how the sleep deprivation of the teenager would affect the rest of the family.

I predict that in the very near future the following events will occur:
  • the sleep deprived child will get into a heap of trouble for attitude problems.
  • anger management will drop to an all time low.
  • he will be sick for Christmas.
  • one or more of his siblings will be massacred in a fit of uncontrollable emotional overload.
  • we will have a record number of door slammings, possibly requiring some repair work to the moldings.
  • by the end, we will be the first to witness a real live zombie.
Only 48 more hours to go. Stay tuned for the updates!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Self Publishing...Or Not...Again

Quote of the Day: "Do you know what would be sad? If there was a zombie apocalypse and we got infected and ate our pets." ~Overheard 13-year-old say to 10-year-old while doing dishes.

There's been some sparks flying--again--on the whole To Self Publish or Not debate. So, I'm chiming in with my two cents.

Here is a great quote by Edan Lepucki (The Millions) from an interesting article about her reasons for not self publishing. I agree with with much of what she has to say, but not all.

I found this especially in line with my own thoughts:
Readers themselves rarely complain that there isn’t enough of a selection on Amazon or in their local superstore; they’re more likely to ask for help in narrowing down their choices. So for anyone who has, however briefly, played that reviled gatekeeper role, a darker question arises: What happens once the self-publishing revolution really gets going, when all of those previously rejected manuscripts hit the marketplace, en masse, in print and e-book form, swelling the ranks of 99-cent Kindle and iBook offerings by the millions? Is the public prepared to meet the slush pile?

Is the public ready to meet the slush pile? I'm not. And as more kids are getting e-readers, parents have to be doubly vigilant to ensure their kids aren't downloading anything worse than just a poorly written book.

But, as she points out, blogs and other forms of reviews are already popping up to help readers wade through the slush.

My personal reasons for going with a traditional publisher are similar to Ms. Lepucki. Mainly, I want my manuscript to be its best. I want an editor telling me what's working and what's not. I want that stack of revisions to make the story better.

I recently started reading a self-published book with at least FIVE editing errors on THE FIRST PAGE! I don't want that to be me. I had to put the book down.

I have nothing against self-publishing whatsoever. It's just not for me--at least right now.

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Can You Guess My Main Character's Age?

**Update: Thanks everyone for your feedback, but I decided not to enter the final contest. 

Here's some info on another great contest by Brenda Drake:

Here's how it's going down ...

Post the first 250 words of your finished, or not quite finished, manuscript (any genre) to your blogs. This contest is about voice--whether or not your character's voice matches his or her's age. So if you mention the age or school grade in the first 250 words, please edit it out or block it out for this contest. Don't list the genre or title on your posts. If your 250 words falls in the middle of a sentence, continue to the end of the sentence.

For official rules and to enter, see her blog, here.

And here is my entry:

Bronwyn placed the tip of her crutch carefully on the jagged rocks. She planted her feet and steadied herself before gazing across the chasm that separated her from the rest of the village. If her mother saw her perched this close to the ravine, she would scold. Her father, had he lived, would be perched beside her. 
Tomorrow she turned (xxxx.) For most girls, that meant old enough to marry. For her, well, who would want a crippled wife?
A gust of wind whipped her dress and pushed her toward the edge. Bronwyn leaned onto her crutch, relying on the sturdy wooden limb to restore her balance. 
“Come away, Child!” called her mother, her hands cupped round her mouth. “You’ll fall to your death. There’s a storm moving in and the geese are out.”
“I’m coming,” she said, though her mother could not have heard over the moaning of the wind. 
Bronwyn stepped back, casting one last glance toward the village. The first day of summer approached, and the festival of Calan Mai. She rolled her eyes. Wonderful. Another year of watching while other girls danced around the maypole. No dancing for her. Not now or ever. 

Thanks for stopping by, and if you comment or follow me, rest assured I will return the favor!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dios ex Machina

I don't know why I've been thinking about this lately, but I have.

Dios ex machina: According to wikipedia -
"god out of the machine"; is a plot device whereby a seemingly inextricable problem is suddenly and abruptly solved with the contrived and unexpected intervention of some new event, character, ability, or object.

I guess it comes from those ancient Greek plays where a god is suddenly introduced to resolve the plot.

Some authors have used this and it has worked out okay for them. Examples: Lord of the Flies, when the wild kids are somewhat randomly rescued by the Naval Officer. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, when the Phoenix swoops in and saves them from the collapsing basilisk chamber. Or perhaps the most famous, The Return of the King, when the eagles fly in and rescue Sam and Frodo from the burning mountainside.

Sometimes it works, usually it doesn't. Who hasn't wondered why Frodo didn't simply fly on an eagle and drop the ring into Mt. Doom in the first place and cut out 9/10ths of the book(s)?

Most often it's called "Writer Cop Out."

Anyway, it gives us writers pause to make sure everything that happens in our story happens for a reason and doesn't feel contrived. All plot points must flow in a logical chain of events that makes sense based on our characters and their reasoning and choices.

The guy over at Moody Writing has written a few good posts on this lately: here and here.

Any other good examples of this?
Any good tips on avoiding it?