Blog Topics

I recently read a book by one of my favorite authors, John Scalzi, called “Your Hate Mail Will be Graded.” The book contains a decade of blogs (1998-2008) from Scalzi’s Whatever site. Scalzi writes about whatever is on his mind and he doesn’t care about other people’s opinions. The blog is all about what he thinks and it can be funny, poignant, scary, or angry according to the topic. If you have very strong opinions about things and are easily offended then don’t read it. He pushed my buttons a couple of times but even on those topics he made me think. I always gravitate toward humor because I enjoy laughing. However, an author who can make me laugh and think deeply is one I will read over and over and over. Scalzi doesn’t arrange his blogs in numerical order. The years are mixed up. You can read a blog from 2004 and it may be followed by one from 1998. What surprised me so much was being reminded of what was happening in the country during those years. It wasn’t that long ago but it’s amazing what I had forgotten about current events back then. It was also fun to see what he speculated the outcome would be about events when I knew what the outcome actually was. There were some blogs on writing, but not that many. The ones he had were excellent, especially the one on advice to young writers.  But for the most part, the topics covered a wide range. It made me wonder if I had the nerve to open my blog up to...

Sending Queries

My agent retired at the end of the year so I’m sending out queries again trying to find a new one. I had to give myself a pep talk in order to start a new round of querying. I know I’m in store for a lot of rejection. If I added up the number of agents I’ve queried since I started writing (35 years ago) I’d be in triple digits, easily. I really hate having to start this all over again. Hence, the pep talk. “If you want other people to enjoy your writing, Anna-Maria, you need to show it to them.” Why can’t agents and editors find me while I’m holed up in my writing cave? Shouldn’t my brilliance attract them, like magnets to iron ore? I’ve got three novels I’m querying on so I had to write three query letters. One is bad enough, but three? Ugh. Synopses and queries are my least favorite thing to write. Needed another pep talk. “Once you get these done, Anna-Maria, you can use them over and over… and over (thinking of all the rejections headed my way) with just minor tweaks to personalize the query letter.” Just grin and bear it and get it done. So I did. (Actually, they came together fairly smoothly. I stressed about nothing. Or else I’m finally getting better at writing these things. I’ve had a lot of practice, after all.) Next, I put together a list of agents. I had done some research on agents about a month ago, so I dug that out. Then I added some agents who had given me some...

Historical Research in the Future

I was going through some boxes of family stuff over the weekend. Most of it was legal documents and letters. Lots of letters. So many letters that I doubt I will ever read them all. But the one thing that came through very clearly in the ones I did read was a picture of the times. Casual references to popular songs, news items, things bought or made. They painted a picture for me. My great aunt talked of all the canned fruit she and her mother (my great grandmother) had just put up. This was in the 40s, during WWII. She mentioned that she wanted to put up some pears, too, but that they were too expensive. It would be interesting to look up the price of pears back then to see how much they cost, which I could probably find out with a bit of Google searching. Dad mentioned a new song he liked by Xavier Cugat. A note from my great grandmother worried about Dad being posted overseas during the war—”What could he have possibly learned in a month of training that would make him qualified to fight a war?” My great grandmother died before I was born, but I felt I got to know her a little bit through these letters. All of my letter reading made me wonder what people in the future will do to discover us since people don’t write letters anymore. How will great granddaughters learn about their ancestors? Blogs have kind of taken over from diary writing. How will these musings be preserved? Will descendents go through a box of old...

Too Complicated?

I saw the animated film “Epic” last Friday. The one review I saw said it was a bit complicated. Sometimes I wonder if I see the same movie as critics. The plot wasn’t complicated. In fact it was pretty straightforward. It had some depth and character growth and maybe that was the problem for the reviewer. It wasn’t shallow, one-dimensional. The characters were fun and the artwork was AMAZING. See it in 3-D. It’s an experience. I thank God that the computer is now a tool for the animator/artist. It allows the filmmakers to create scenes that couldn’t be done with hand animation. The drama created by the way the camera moves through a scene is all thanks to the computer. Plus the ability to create multiple crowd scene images also depends on the computer. The “complication” the computer allows the director to add to those scenes multiplies the emotion created by the images. I wonder if reviewers think a children’s movie has to be simple for the audience? They couldn’t be more wrong. Simple movies don’t become classics. Simple movies that lack dimensional characters and plots that matter to the characters, aren’t memorable. Epic is memorable because it offers emotional depth, characters you understand and empathize with, and imagery that takes your breath away. Go see...