Monday, April 29, 2013

Your Social Networking Balance Sheet

I have a list of ELEW post topics as long as my arm (which is long; I'm an Amazon and have long arms, yo), high among them is getting back to Editing 101 with Mama Bitchstress and our fab discussion on rape culture in fiction.

But I got sidetracked this week.

Inspired in part by a post by our Bad Horse Lilith Saintcrow about how The Hard Sell Doesn't Work and a conversation with the Gothic Goddess, let's talk about social networking for a sec.

Message vs. noise.

I'm not even going to get into this; Monica Valentinelli had a recent post about that which sums it up: 
  • If everybody’s shouting different things, then no one is heard.
  • If everybody’s demanding a unique reaction, then no one will give them the one they want.
  • If everybody’s screaming “Help me!” “Fix this!” “You owe me that!” — then no one gives.
  • If you get bombarded with “Buy me!” “Review me!” “Share me!” from multiple people at the same time, then those acts turn into a chore and an obligation.
  • If you’re fully vested in what people do for you, especially in a social media context, then you get upset by the actions other people take online, jumping to the worst sorts of conclusions.
  • If everybody’s shouting, then they’re all competing. And that, my friends, can be very bad for the craft of writing and reading in general.
Anyone who spends any amount of time on Twitter knows this: the more everyone is talking about their shit rather than engaging with other people, the more it turns into noise and the less of their message is heard.

Pretty simple. And for those who object and think they MUST advertise whatever is it they have for sale daily, or @ people directly on Twitter asking them to buy, please answer me this: how many books do you buy this way?

Me? I buy none that way. I tune it out. Much like when I’m trying to shop and people zoom in, pushing products on me, I walk away. And if your potential audience is tuning out, they are less likely to hear it when you have something important to say (like a NEW release). 

To quote Lili's post on how The Hard Sell Doesn't Work:
The hard sell is filling the airwaves with your self-promotion. It’s consistently talking over other people to get your idea heard. It’s bringing the discussion around to you and your work every time you open your big mouth. It’s being so “cool” you literally don’t care about anyone who doesn’t register on your celebrity radar. 
It’s annoying. And it will lose you so many friends and opportunities it’s not even funny.

Also consider this for a moment: if someone is, say, following you on Twitter...that wasn't an accident. They had to click a button to do so. This means they know who you are and, chances are, know already what you're selling. You don't need to remind them all the time.

How do you know if your message is lost among the noise? You do math.

Now, writers, don't you get all "Math is haaaarrddd!" Barbie on me. Not with the amount of time I know you spend analyzing your fucking Amazon ranking, daily word counts, and time spent procrastinating watching cat videos. You know simple math.

You get ONE promo tweet for every NINE tweets.

That's 10% of your tweets. Maximum.

Having trouble understanding why this matters? Tolerance for self-promotion varies but you need to always be aiming for the MINIMUM people will tolerate, not the maximum (unless you don't care if everyone labels you a spammer; if that's the case, have at it). And an easy way to think about it is to realize your non-promo tweets are currency.

Each time you tell someone to buy your book, you've just used up nine non-spam tweets. You "bought" that promo tweet. You want to stay in the black, not the red.

"But Mama Bitchstress, now we can't talk about ourselves? Does that mean no word count updates? No picture of my cats?"

It means vary what you talk about and make an effort to a) engage with those you follow (and if someone @'s you), and b) pay it forward and talk about other things.

Here are some suggestions.

1.     Reply to other people when they talk (DUH).
2.     Talk about other people's books you enjoy.
3.     Or share entertaining anecdotes about something.
4.     Promote important issues or charities (careful, this can turn into noise as well).
5.     Tell us what TV shows you enjoy.
6.     Solicit your followers' opinions on certain subjects.
7.     Mention the hobo midget living under the bridge in front of your building.
8.     Cupcakes.

See? You're interesting. You have a fulfilling, busy life full of awesome things you can talk about that don't involve the words "like my book on Kindle" or "see my latest review."

But the issue of currency usage with your tweets doesn't end there. Remember my post about Negative Nancy being Douchey McDouchealot? The same principle applies.

No one wants to listen to someone bitch constantly.

A healthy rant is great and no one has to be cheerful 24/7. I'm not saying that. But, once again, when you're talking publicly, it's a 9:1 ratio. It takes nine positive tweets to buy one negative one. (You should know this from getting reviews; negativity stays with you more than the positives, so you need a lot more positive to balance it out if you're constantly bitching about shit).

Your close friends and family can handle a little more negativity from you but those in the outer sphere of your acquaintance? The readers you’re trying to attract? They have far less patience. Yes, you suffer from whatever malady; yes, life is hard; yes, woe is you. Shut down the damn computer and take a walk and stop inflicting your negativity on your fans. It is not their job to reassure you nor are they your therapist.

Yes, you have to be yourself on social networks, but if you're a professional writer then be professional

Tweet, blog, Facebook, etc with care. Do the math. STAY IN THE BLACK.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Finding Your Zen

Breathe, relax, breathe...listen to the sound of water falling gently over your career.

It's been this sort of a month. The sort that has me thinking a lot about bad behavior and what drives people to thoroughly forget how not to be a douchebag, author-wise or not. Usually I blame lack of parenting, but that's probably because I'm a parent and, considering the prevalence of blatant rudeness today, I suspect not every jackass on the street was raised in an orphanage. Some of them must have had parents who told them to say please and thank you, to respect others and to treat people the way they wanted to be treated.

So where did it go wrong? In an effort to not sound totally hypocritical, I looked at my own behavior, good and bad, and it seems to me that most nastiness (yes, I have a lot of it) is the direct product of stress, pressure, other words, badly managed anxiety. Basically, when I get all "yell-y" it's because I need to get my Zen on. Breathe....and exhale.

Trying to get published, sell books, write books, write more books is a seriously stressful process. I'm not justifying bad behavior, nor am I going to advise rushing out to take a meditation class, buy some crystals and go on a retreat (okay, I like all those things, but this is not the place for it.) Since I like to believe that people are inherently trying their best, it helps me sleep easier at night to think that the douche-y-ness is accidental. With that in mind, I do think a little relax and breathe might go a long way toward combating bad behavior. In fact, I'd wager a deep breath can diffuse a lot of unpleasantness, and related to writer's business, I can think of a few tips to keep things calm and friendly-like.

1- Kill the pressure. The world will not end if you don't become a famous writer today. Your world won't even end. If your story gets rejected, if no one buys the book, if no one reads the book, or even the next book, nothing significantly horrid is going to happen. (I have to remind myself this when I'm trying to finish a book. If it doesn't happen, there will be no flooding and destruction, honest.)

2- Refuse self-imposed deadlines. There is and always will be another chance tomorrow. And the next day, and really, pretty much every day you have in your future. Nothing ever has to happen "this second."

3- Engage perspective. We all love books, reading, writing, publishing, story-telling. It's awesome, yes. But if we get honest, it's not life and death. It's not really, honestly all that important. That might rile up a lot of folks who love books, and I do too, but if the meteor was on its way and we were looking at our last few moments, I seriously hope you'd all rush to be with loved ones and family, not pick up a good book and kick back. Okay, maybe you would. I'm not judging, but any way you slice it, keeping your perspective helps attitude. This is fun. It's art. It is not survival, love, family, etc.

4-Eliminate Should. A therapist taught me this, so it has to be true, right? Should is an evil word. Taking it out of your vocabulary, in particular your self-dialogue, makes for a lot happier existence. Should has a tendency to carry implied shame with it. I should have been done already. I should have sold more copies. They should have accepted that. I should be farther along by now. Nothing that starts with "I should" can do you much good. (Unless it's, I should stop now and go get a big ol bowl of chocolate ice cream.)

5-Your navel might be the center of the universe, but so is mine. I like to ponder this just to freak myself out, in particular when I'm feeling very important. Go someplace really crowded and look around. Every single one of the people you see FEELS exactly as significant as you do. Their lives feel equally important to them. Their worries, their joys, their experience. When you deal with anyone, editors, readers other authors, reviewers, etc. remember that. Their opinion, to them, has the same weight that yours does. In fact, in their universe, they are the central player. You can't be the main character in someone else's story.

Personally, I wouldn't want to. I have enough trouble breathing through my own anxiety. The point is, relax about it. Relax about everything. Just relax. You'll probably be nicer, better behaved, and maybe a little healthier and happier too.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Series Post: Ask Dr. Dina - Sprains and Strains

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. I do not hold a current medical license or certification (I let them lapse because I no longer work in the medical field and don't intend to ever again). What I do have is an extensive medical background in various fields. Everything you read here is the result of either education, training, research and interpretation, or personal experience. The information in this post is not to be taken as a substitute for professional medical advice or examination. Seriously, if you're having an immediate medical problem and you're reading this blog for help, get off the damned computer and call an ambulance! 

Welcome back, Evil Readers! Or rather, welcome back, Gothic Goddess (that would be me)! Yes, I've been away the last few posts, but it's not because I don't love you.

Oh, wait. I don’t love you. Oh, well! Never mind then.

Anyway! Today we continue our "Ask Dr. Dina" series with sprains and strains. You may remember last time we talked about breaking stuff, so I thought it only fair to give soft tissue injuries their say.

Now, there are various kinds of soft tissue injuries – bruises (these have varying degrees and names, so this will be a fun post to write!), pulled muscles, "stitches" (the kind in your side you get when you run, not sutures used for cuts), sprains, strains, and many more.

Each kind of injury will probably get its own post of a sort, so today we're going to concentrate on sprains and strains.

There's a vast difference between them, but you'll hear people say, "I sprained my ankle." Chances are, no, they didn't. If you can walk on it afterward, you didn't sprain it. You twisted it and strained the tendon, but most likely did not "sprain" it, and I'll tell you why.

Which is which? Well, remember it like this: ligaments LINK bone to bone. Tendons JOIN muscle and bone. Easy mnemonic. Ligaments LINK. Tendons JOIN.

Also, spraIn = lIgament, sTrain = Tendon.

Also, sprains tend to be caused by trauma (sports injuries, kicks, body blows, falls) whereas strains are generally overuse/repetitive motion injuries (running, working out, taking the stairs instead of the elevator). 

Sprains hurt like a mother and take a longer time to heal. There's usually tearing and popping and sometimes (more often than not, actually) surgery is needed to repair the damage a sprain does. You've heard of athletes tearing their ACL? That's medical speak for "you fucked up your knee." I mean, "you tore the anterior cruciate ligament" (which is located beneath your kneecap and connects to your tibia).

Strains usually make a muscle twitch, or feel weak (because you strained it, remember), but you can still move it without too much pain or effort. For instance, if your wobbly ankle feels a little better after a few minutes and you're able to bear weight/walk on it, it's NOT sprained. It's "strained."

Sprains, you ain't goin' anywhere fast. There's usually swelling, bruising, and lots and lots of pain and you can't poke it let alone put any pressure on it without it hurting. It's more than weak; it's non-functional. You've seen athletes being carried off the field because they can't walk? Now you know a little more about what's possibly going on.

Don't feel bad if you've misused the term before, either in real life or in fiction. Even doctors use the terms wrongly, unless they specialize in orthopedics. Common use of "sprained ankle" just adds to the problem, but this is why we have blog posts like these, so you can avoid the misnomer. 

And so you can avoid potential misdiagnosis should you ever be in this situation yourself. Remember, strain = stretched (sometimes torn)/tendon, sprain = (usually torn) ligament. Sprains are usually worse than strains, though both (depending on location and severity) can take months of physical therapy to rehabilitate.

Now, surgery and physical therapy aside, the treatment for both a mild sprain and a moderate strain are the same – rest the affected area, ice, compression, elevation (if possible – kind of hard to elevate a low back strain). With both types of injuries there's going to be pain, swelling, and BOTH should be seen by a doctor.

Without the proper training, you generally can't tell from looking whether your injury is a sprain or a strain. Pain is always bad and both injuries hurt, and if something hurts you should see your health care professional as soon as possible. Sure, they might just tell you "go home, rest, take some ibuprofen, put some ice on it," but that's better than needing cruciate repair surgery and not getting it done because you were too stubborn to let someone look at your hurt knee. So go see someone for both, especially if you've done all of the above and things aren't getting any better.

Remember these things for your characters, too. If you're going to injure your character, remember that some injuries, even if they seem mild, can take months to heal.

Next time we'll talk about cuts, scrapes, and bruises!

Questions about medical issues with your writing? Leave them in the comments below and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. (THESE MUST APPLY TO FICTIONAL SITUATIONS ONLY. I AM NOT YOUR DOCTOR, NOR A SUBSTITUTE FOR ONE.)

Oh, and the winner of our Andrew Shaffer ELEW Anniversary Giveaway is Shannon Ginther! Shannon, I'll be contacting you shortly!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Highway to the Danger Zone...

I'm trying to decide if I should enter a novella I wrote in a contest...  For those of you paying attention, Contests = Danger Zone in the title of the post.

I'm just not too sure about contests. I never have been. I don't particularly like being judged. So hey, I'm human after all, it appears.

So there's the part of me that doesn't want to enter because:
1. I'll be judged;
2. What if I don't do well?  That means my novella sucks, right?
3. It would take work to get it ready for the contest;
4. What if they hate me?!?

But there are a lot of good reasons to enter a contest too...
1. It builds character
2. Working on your WIP to shine it up for a contest is a good thing
3. You get someone's different perspective on it (and they're unlikely to be super harsh)
4. Uh, I'm awesome, so clearly I'm going to win.

Obviously, fear will hold you back, but stepping out of your comfort zone is a good thing, in general. Sure, it might feel sucky at first, but you'll grow as a person. If nothing else, it'll give you another experience to help create more believable characters.

Alright, alright. You guys have talked me into it. I'm going to enter the contest.

Damn. If only I hadn't gotten that Kenny Loggins song stuck in my head.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Editing Is Like...Selling Your House

For those who don't know, we're getting ready to move across the state. That means putting our house up for sale, which means making it look all nice and shiny. Our realtor actually paid for a walk-through with a staging know, a house-editor.

She came through and pointed out...everything. A lot of it is simple stuff: rearranging the furniture, putting a bunch of stuff from the closets in storage, blah blah blah. This is the line edit stage. Now, I don't know about you, but I like line edits. They're pretty straight-forward even if they take a decent amount of work, and it's rare that cuts/tweaks here are of the painful variety. Same with the house. There's a lot of this level stuff and it all takes time, but it's easy enough.

Then there's the prettifying stuff that we're hiring the stager to actually take care of: putting the right kind of art on the walls, the little jars and candles and stuff that make the house look like a model home rather than like people here. This is the copyedit stage. Even less painful than line edits. Basically this is the smile and nod part of the job. You trust the person in charge for the most part to make things as pretty as possible.

So...the hard part? Content edits--this is pretty literal with regard to home staging too. Four rooms had to be repainted because of decorating choices. Countertops have to be replaced with granite. Carpets all have to be cleaned (and some stretched). Powerwashing the outside. Painting the door and trim. Now some of this stuff is fine. It's work, but that's it. Other's like killing your darlings. For example, today I spent the entire day tearing wallpaper off a single I can repaint it tomorrow. A lot of work for one room that may or may not make a difference in the reality of selling. The granite? It's going to cost quite a bit more than we estimated. Will it really matter? And do we have to go with the boring beige?

Those changes are harder to make. They hurt more. But...

At the end of the day, we have an expert telling us what to do to make our house the best it can be. It's just like trusting an editor with your book. Their job is to make it shine. There are battles worth fighting (both in staging and editing) but it's important to remember to pick and choose them carefully.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Our (Evilish) Thoughts Are with Those Involved in the Boston Marathon

In lieu of a post today, I just wanted to extend our thoughts, prayers, good vibes (or what have you) are with the runners, their families, the first responders and everyone involved today. One of our own, Adrienne Jones, has a sister (who was running in memorial for her son) and other relatives involved in the marathon. Thankfully they are all okay but the wait for information was no doubt agonizing, and there are still people checking in with loved ones.

Via Audry Taylor on Facebook, here are a collection of links, phone numbers, and other resources.

  • Twitter hashtag to search for is #BostonMarathon 
  • If events are triggering you, call Disaster Distress Line 1-800-985-5990. Twitter ID is @distressline & FB page is
  • Families in search of loved ones: 1-617-635-4520 
  • Information leading to an arrest: 1-800-494-TIPS
  • Google has created a Boston Marathon Explosion person finder 
  • Follow @BostonGlobe on Twitter for news updates.
  • Cell phone service may have been shut off in Boston to prevent remote detonations. The full police force is out on duty doing their job.
  • Confirm information before you share it. Do not share old information like "there's been another explosion" if it's several minutes old. Try to stick to most recent info. Turn off your social media if you need to. Take a break if you need to.

Also, writers, now is a *great* time to turn off scheduled promo tweets and the like. It can't always be helped but keep in mind that even when you aren't directly involved in something like this, I guarantee some of your followers are. If not somber, be respectful, please. There are always more important things going on than your promo. 

Remember, be gentle with people. Not just today but always. 

Love and hugs to Adrienne and her family. The ELEW are here if you need us. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Baby Evil Writers 101: Finding a Reputable Agent #2

Baby Evil Writers 101: Finding a Reputable Agent #2
Julie Butcher

Last time we talked about finding an agent, we decided that being a member of AAR was a good place to start. You can read that post here. But, there are tons of ways to research literary agents. Although AAR is a great place to start, other wonderful agents are out there just waiting to partner with you and bring out the best in your work.

Jennifer Laughran, a lovely agent and twitter friend, pointed this fact out to me. (You should follow her on twitter and read her blog.) 

From her blog:  Jennifer began her career in agenting after working as a long-time children's bookseller and buyer. She is also the founder of the extremely popular YA event series "Not Your Mother's Book Club". She joined Andrea Brown Literary Agency in 2007. Always on the lookout for sparkling YA and middle grade fiction with unusual and unforgettable characters and vivid settings, she is drawn to all kinds of books, whether realistic comedies or richly imagined magical adventures. However, the common thread in her favorite stories is an offbeat world-view. Jennifer adores simplicity, but she is not interested in the conventional, predictable, mechanical, gimmicky or ordinary. Jennifer loves funny books, thrilling books, romantic books, books that make her cry, and all-around un-put-downable books... and her true favorites are all of the above.

Now, since I know that Jennifer is an extremely successful literary agent (and awesome to boot) but not a member of AAR, we’re using her as an example on how to research to see if she is reputable.

The first thing you do is to go to Predators and Editors. Click on the agent and publishers link, and pick the first letter of the literary agent’s name. When I scrolled down, I found this.

Jennifer Etherton Literary Services: Not recommended. A literary agency.
Jennifer Flannery: A literary agent with Flannery Literary.
Jennifer Gates: $ An agent with Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.
Jennifer Jackson: $ AAR A literary agent (Literary, Adult) with Donald Maass Literary Agency.
Jennifer Jaeger: A literary agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Jennifer Joel: $ A literary agent with ICM.
Jennifer Laughran: A literary agent with Andrea Brown Literary Agency. <-SEE THIS IS GOOD

Clearly, there isn’t a *not recommended* warning next to her name. Predators and Editors keep on top of the scoundrels of publishing but they aren’t the be-all and end-all of your search. Next, look up her agency, Andrea Brown Literary Agency.

Andrea Barzvi: $ A literary agent with ICM.

Andrea Brown Literary Agency, Inc.: $ Recommended. A literary agency. (Literary, Children's) Accepts queries through email only.  <-SEE THIS IS GREAT

A recommended agency would not have a shyster as an agent. In publishing, reputation is everything. So right now we’re saying, “Hey, she looks awesome!” Hey there are still more ways that we can check on her reputation.

Next we head over to Absolute Write and check out the forums. Read what other writers say about the agent you’re researching. Here we find that Jennifer was a guest agent at the water cooler. She’s looking better and better. After this, we check her out on Publisher’s Marketplace.

If you have a membership at Publisher’s Marketplace ($20 a month) You can see what every deal reported says. If you can’t afford the fee, google Jennifer Laughran + publishers marketplace+ dealmaker and you can see page after page of registered sales.

Then you go and read her blog and check her twitter stream. You find articles where she is mentioned and check all of the boxes. THEN YOU QUERY.

Since I’ve done all of the research for you, you can query Jennifer here.

You need to research every single agent you query with at least this many steps. Got it?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Are We There Yet?

So many new authors rush. I know this because, of course, I did. Hurry, hurry, I finished a book finally. Send it out, out, out. I hope I learned my lesson on that count, but you know, I still get that jittery, anxious flutter to be submitting.
A few weeks ago I ran into something of the opposite problem, and it caught me by surprise. Considering that I'm a low on patience kind of gal, it hadn't really occurred to me that someone could have too much of the stuff.

I've been doing writer's workshops and also a lot of beta reads for friends and other authors that I've met. We have an active writer's group, and our goal is always on getting the work ready to go out. Out, into the wide, blue world where the readers live.

But at this last writer's workshop I had the pleasure of critting for gentlemen whose stories I've done a few times now, and who always entertains the shit out of me. He writes well. Sure, he has a few errors here and there and we always find something to critique...that's what crit groups are for. Still, I just assumed he was taking the feedback, applying it to the story, fixing it all up and sending it on its merry way...out, into get it.

Except he's not. He's putting them aside and trying again. He asked me the oddest question too, and the thing is still nibbling away at me. He said, "when do you know you're ready to start subbing?"

My answer was terribly in-eloquent. I think I choked on my coffee and sputtered, "you're not subbing?!!"

He isn't, and despite my charming response, I don't think he has any plans to in the future. But....but...he's so good. Also, he's professional, polite, and cares about his craft. He is focused on improving and can take feedback.

And I have to ask myself, why is it that the authors you want to work with are hesitant and the ones who are rude, impatient and convinced of their own brilliance don't even question if the should be sending out their work? They send send send. But this person, who writes a brilliant tale, has a drawer full of stories I'd want people to read that will not get sent out because there were some comma glitches? Egad!

Now I feel like banging my head on desk. I want to inject him with confidence serum or something, but of course, I know he's not alone. I know intellectually that you have to believe in yourself enough and your story enough to jump off that cliff--and it's not easy (it shouldn't be). But the idea of that drawer of stories still haunts me.

Be brave, authors. Certainly be humble too, tread professionally and without a sense of entitlement, yes. Work on your craft. Read the how not to be a douchebag articles, etc. But please go forward! Save your stories, repair them, shine them up and SHARE them with the world.  Or try, at least. It cannot hurt to try.

It will hurt to find that drawer years later and wish you'd been a little braver. It hurts me now, just thinking about it. If you're getting the feedback (not from Mom, sorry) that you're stories are worth them a favor and share them.

No lost stories. (putting that on a T-shirt or something)

Friday, April 5, 2013

What the #$&@! is this post about?


Obviously, many parents will tell their children that swearing is evil, and thus, it is the perfect thing to discuss here. Mind you, this warning usually only has effect until said children reach high school age and want to rebel, so they do so by doing exactly what generations of pissed off teenagers have always done: swear.

Cursing, swearing, cussing, and being blasphemous: How do you feel about it?

I'm evil, so one would think that I frequently swear. I don't, though. I have no problem with it, don't find it offensive, and often think swear words to myself. I do, however, use them in sudden, startling, or painful situations.

But I don't just casually throw them into normal conversation. To be blunt, I don't see the fucking point. (see what I did there?) To me, swearing has become utterly mainstream - so often used that it's become neither shocking nor effective, in my book. If every other word you use is a curse word, then those words just become regular words.

I want something that stands out and explains just how much pain I am in when I drop a hammer on my freaking toe! If you use them all the time, then what do you say when you when you really need to express something like that? I don't want the words losing their effectiveness, just when I need it!

So I save the swearing for such important situations, to give swear words the gravitas that they deserve.

What about you? Swearing yay or nay?

More importantly, how do you feel about swearing in books?  I don't mind it, if it serves a purpose, and it often does. But just adding cursing to spice up a character? It's not going to work. I'm of a generation where swearing doesn't spice things up. In fact, it's generally more shocking when someone doesn't swear. So know your character and know what they're going to say.

I have a good friend, Sonja, who runs the insanely popular website The Pintester, which involves a lot of swearing. In fact, it's even in the tagline. It's funny, because when she first started, she was worried about the reception of her blog because of the naughty language. But these days, that language is what appeals to her readers/viewers. So she's made that work for her (although who knows what her mother has to say!) :)

And that's my point. Whatever you do, swearing or not (and I'm talking about in your writing as well as in your personal life), do what works for you. If you fucking think that fucking putting some goddamn swear words in your (or your character's) speech works, then hell yeah! Go for it. But don't do it just because everyone else is.

Oh, and I think that hell and damn are so commonplace that they shouldn't be even counted as swear words any more. But that's probably a discussion for another day...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Feeling Too Evil to Blog

Happy Anniversary, Evil League of Evil Writers!

I'd love to join the celebration whole-heartedly, but I'm sick and going through a bunch of madness right now. So, instead of getting all woe-is-me, I'm going to share some evil from another source. My friend Greg Crafts is a playwright and actor and all sorts of entertainment awesome out in LA. This is from his first musical, Super Sidekick. I was lucky enough to read a draft of this in its early stages. It's a ton of fun, and if you ever get the chance to pop by Theatre Unleashed in Los Angeles for this show or any other, make sure you tell him I said "Hi!"

For now... I give you Slurm's Soliloquy ;-)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Evil Interview (Special Anniversary Edition!): Andrew Shaffer

Here we are in 2013.

It is the Year of Eviltry.

Today, April 1, 2013, marks the second anniversary of the Evil League of Evil Writers. Most of our regular readers know that we here at the ELEW have occasional interviews and giveaways, but always do something special for our anniversary.

No, this is NOT an April Fools' Day joke. The ELEW was officially founded on April 1, 2011.

For this year's anniversary celebration, we have a very special interview and giveaway.

Our evil guest is Andrew Shaffer.

Alter ego: EVIL WYLIE.

Come on. Evil is right there in his name.

We asked the wonderfully evil Andrew our standard set of interview questions. Below are his answers.

1) Let’s start things off right: What’s your zombie survival plan?

My zombie survival plan is to become a zombie. If I'm a zombie, I won't have to worry about my cholesterol or watch what I eat. I think I'd make a good zombie.

2) You've given some brilliant advice to aspiring authors, and as this website is dedicated to keeping writers from being douchebags, I'd like to ask you what you feel would be the requisites for a successful writer's group/beta reader/crit partner?

There are four kinds of beta readers/critique partners: Those who praise everything you write, those who correct your grammar and spelling, those who offer constructive advice and spark your creativity, and those who call you on your bullshit. Since you're not likely to find all four characteristics in one person, it's a good idea to have more than one beta reader/critique partner to cover your bases. Constructive criticism is great, but it's nice to have someone who will massage your ego. These people are usually called "family."

3) Writers tend to be a little on the physically unhealthy side, what with the constant sitting, and the mentally unhealthy side, what with the suffering for their art. What are your top writer self-care tips?

I bought a treadmill desk, which is one of the best investments I've made in my career. I don't write at it every day, but I try! If you're sitting down, it's a good idea to stretch your legs every hour or two — it probably helps the mind as well. On the mental side, I would say: take care of yourself. We've seen too many martyrs. I recently wrote about this for The Huffington Post

4) I'm not going to ask you the typical "how did you get published" question. What I will ask you is "how did you know you wanted to write?" Was it always something you wanted to do?

Ever since I learned to read, I wrote. I read books as a kid, and thought the natural response was to write your own books. One of the first things I ever wrote was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan fiction, published in my elementary school's monthly newsletter. I also wrote and illustrated a parody of Pee-Wee's Playhouse called "Pee-Wee Penguin's Igloo" in the second grade.

5) Which character of yours speaks to you the loudest? This can be either the most insistent character or the one that just wants things their own way all the time. Answer can be the same for both!

Earl Grey in Fifty Shames of Earl Grey was the most fun character to write. He has unlimited amounts of money, so can do whatever he wants—including cloning dinosaurs and combining their DNA with kittens to make them extra cute. I just thought, what would I do if I had all the money in the world? Jurassic Fucking Park, that's what.

6) When discussing our own evil idols, the name Andrew Shaffer popped up as one we universally agreed is a writer of the evillest kind. Who is the evillest writer you can think of, one whose evil you aspire to yourself?

Thank you for acknowledging my evilness. The evilest writer I know is Bret Easton Ellis, who was brilliant in Less Than Zero and American Psycho and now uses his considerable powers of prose to cause havoc in 140-character bites on Twitter (@breteastonellis). I profiled him in Literary Rogues, though unfortunately did not interview him. It's probably best we hold our idols at arm's length though, isn't it?

7) What is the evillest thing you feel you've done in one of your books? What is the evillest thing others have claimed you've done?

In Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, I was pretty mercilous to E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey. I've had some readers tell me they found my parody boring and tedious, to which I can only say: Thank you—I succeeded in mimicking James' writing style! 

8) You've had a bad day and head to YouTube to watch adorable animal videos. Kittens, puppies, pandas, or other: which do you pick first? This has absolutely zero effect on your evilness, of course, unless you pick human babies.

Clears throat, and says in the voice of The World's Most Interesting Man: "I don't watch adorable animal videos, but when I do, it's teacup piggies."

9) Have you ever shot a man in Reno just to watch him die?

I've never shot a man or woman. To do so, I would need to have fired a gun, which I haven't really done. I touched a gun once at a police station, and that was quite enough for me.

10) We’re going to give a random commenter an Andrew Shaffer book of their choice. Pretending they’re an AS virgin, which would you recommend for them?

My books are like children: You can't ask me to choose my favorite! My parody, Fifty Shames of Earl Grey, is my best-known and most humorous work, but Literary Rogues: A Scandalous History of Wayward Authors might be closest to my heart because it was such a labor of love. Those are, uh, both my favorites? My first book, Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love, is also quite funny and melancholy, but she's already moved out of the house and gone on to college so I forget about her. So, to wrap up and answer the question, I would recommend Literary Rogues, because that's the one I'm out pimping on tour right now. She's the one whose baby picture I'm showing off at the moment.

Thank you, Andrew, for taking the time to bestow your evil upon us and our readership!

Each year on the ELEW's anniversary, our Evil Interviewee is canonized. Andrew Shaffer is now recognized among the Evil League of Evil Writers as our Patron Saint of Snarkdom.

If you would like to declare your allegiance and swear fealty to our Patron Saint of Snarkdom, he can be found via the following:

Twitter: @andrewtshaffer

Now for the giveaway part!

Want to read an Andrew Shaffer book? Of course you do. We're going to buy your choice of a paperback copy of any of his books from the Book Depository  and send it your way.

To enter, include the words "Andrew is Evil" in your comment, and you'll go in a random draw. Winner will be chosen on Monday and announced with my ELEW blog post.

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