Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wednesday Willies

No, not that kind of willies. Get your mind out of the gutter.

On second thought, don't. Gutter-minded people are so entertaining. Let's all play with "willies"!

Here, I'll start:

There once was a discussion of willies--
Boy howdy, were there ever some dillies!
We all got to giggling
To think of them wiggling,
And came down with a case of the sillies!

Your turn. Got a willy story, joke, or poem for me? Leave it in the comments! Just try to keep it to the shallow end of the gutter. ;)

*AHEM*  Now that we have that out of our systems, what I really meant was the kind of willies you get when something creeps you out.


Cockroaches -- Especially that pest control commercial where a human-sized cockroach is a woman's "date" at a dinner table. When its v-shaped pincers stroke her, it makes me shudder every time.

Spiders -- Really, who doesn't get the willies from spiders? 

Other people's snot -- I mean, eeuuww. Yuck. (Mine I can handle. Well, not handle handle, but deal with.)

Wet public bathroom floors -- This one I sometimes have nightmares about. Ones where I'm barefoot. *cringes* 

Shark eyes -- They look so...dead. And like they'd love you to join them.

Television evangelists -- I think it's the hair. 

That cup people who chew tobacco carry around with them to spit into -- Gag. 

High bridges -- Especially if they're too long for me to hold my breath as I cross them. 

The sound of the phone ringing in the middle of the night -- Because who calls you with good news in the middle of the night? The best you can hope for is a wrong number. 

Christopher Walken in most of his roles -- Nothing against him personally. I mean, I've never met the man. He could be a perfect sweetie-pie. But, whoa. In the movies? Creep out time.

So, what gives you the willies? Don't worry. I won't use it against you. (Much.)

P.S. I was going to use pictures to illustrate this post, but yeah....the thought of it gave me the willies. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

Everyone should have a pocket agent

[First, a note to readers about my Intense Debate commenting difficulties: I'm trying to work things out. The latest "glitch" is disappearing comments. As in, all of the comments under the Intense Debate system decided to take a hike. Still not sure why. Anyway, I decided to enable the regular Blogger comments while I figure out the problem. If your comment got eaten, my apologies. Please bear with me.]

And now back to my regularly scheduled post:

So, I finally got to meet my agent -- the fabulous Michelle Wolfson -- in person over the weekend. She was at a writers conference near where my daughter lives, so I decided to kill two birds with one stone and combine a visit to DD with meeting Michelle.

Now, I had always heard Michelle was a little on the, um, little side, but it's tough to picture just how tiny she is until you meet her. Granted, at 5'9", I'm on the tall side (hello? Viking ancestors), so perhaps it was only from my perspective...nah. She's itsy-bitsy by any standard.

But, wow, there is a lot of pure go-get-it-iveness power in that diminutive frame! (This is an excellent quality in an agent, as I have reason to know. :)

My daughter and I met Michelle in the hotel lobby, and the gab-fest began. We discussed business, of course, bouncing ideas around like ping-pong balls. Peppered throughout, we talked kids and family and food -- just whatever popped into our heads.

Finally, we decided we were hungry enough for dinner, and headed over to a nearby restaurant. It was, I thought, pretty crowded, but Michelle said compared to what she was used to in New York it was nothing. We decided tough out the expected hour-long wait in the bar.

(I know. Harsh conditions. But the three of us, strong women that we all are, were up for it.)

Using her finely honed go-get-iveness, Michelle immediately zeroed in on the one vacant seat at the bar, and snagged it for us. She insisted I take it. I demurred, complaining that even sitting, I was still a head taller than her, and it would look funny in the picture I wanted DD to take of us. I finally gave in, because, really, who can argue with that kind of power?

BUT I figured, since she's my agent, she was entitled to fifteen percent of the barstool:

Isn't she adorable? I just wanted to put her in my pocket and carry her around with me everywhere, like my agency sistah, Kimberly Poppins, suggested on Twitter. My very own Pocket Agent. Doesn't that sound like a great resource?

Sadly, I figured my fellow Wolf Pack members might object, not to mention Michelle, who *cough* might have some objection of her own to taking up residence in my pocket. So I didn't.

See? I can be big. (Heh-heh.) I can share.

(Huh. Here I am at the end of the post, and me without the obligatory comment-generating question to ask my readers., what's your favorite color? And, seriously, isn't my agent cute?)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Does this post make my "but" look big?

Okay, I've been using this Intense Debate commenting system for a while now, and I'm trying to figure out whether I want to keep it or not.

I do like how I can reply to individual comments with it, and how the comments are threaded, which makes it easier to follow the flow of different conversations.

BUT (and, as you can see, it's a BIG but. Speaking of big butts, I want these chairs:
I think they'd be great conversation pieces.)

*Ahem* As I was saying, BUT there are some problems with Intense Debate. I've heard from some friends that it won't let them leave a comment. And sometimes when I reply to a comment, my reply vanishes in a poof of cyber-smoke.

BUT (yeah, another one), when I reply again, to make up for the ones that disappear, my original replies will sometimes return, making me look like an blind idiot for double-replying.

Okay, granted. My intermittent idiocy may have already been apparent, even before the Intense Debate difficulties. Still, I don't need my lily gilded.

So, here's my question for you:

Should I keep trying to work out the kinks with Intense Debate, or should I just go back to the old Blogger commenting system?

Um, it occurs to me that those of you who are unable to leave a comment, due to I.D. glitches, may have trouble weighing in. If that happens to you, could you do me a special favor and email me at linda(dot)grimes(at)gmail(dot)com and let me know?

Thanks for your help in my decision-making process!

And may I just add that your but(t) is looking especially fine today? Uh-huh. Yeah. Bet you didn't know I could see that, did you? ;)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wednesday is for Waiting

For those of you in the writing biz, you already know there is an awful lot of waiting involved. My friends and I affectionately refer to this as "Waiting Hell." There's a certain camaraderie that develops in Waiting Hell. It's full of "Hang in there!" and "Don't worry, it'll work out!" and "Be patient -- your time will come!"

Patient? Yeah, right. Ha-ha-ha! Writers are just full of patience. But don't worry (hee!), if you are not patient by nature, patience will be thrust upon you.

But back to waiting. It's pretty much unavoidable, mainly because -- and this is shocker, I know, but it's a good old-fashioned home truth, so you might as well get used to it -- we are not the only writers in the publishing universe. The agents, editors, and publishers have a lot of writers to contend with, and while we, of course, are (or are destined to be) their favorites, they still have to make time for all those others. Fair is fair.

*sigh* I know. Home truths are so annoying.

Fact is, you will be waiting, for one thing or another, from the time you take up the pen.

~Waiting for "inspiration." 

~Waiting to hear back from agents about your queries.

~Waiting for revision suggestions, once you have an agent.

~Waiting, while on submission, to hear if an editor wants to buy your book.

~Waiting for edit letters, once an editor does acquire your book.

~Waiting until your book comes out.

~Waiting to hear if your next book will sell.

And on...and on...and on... Not really anybody's fault; it's just the nature of the business.

Now, to kill waiting time, you can always stare at the clock until you you warp it from your brainpower alone...

...which, while pretty cool if you can pull it off, probably isn't very productive in the long run.

Or, you DO what you CAN do, instead of obsessing about the stuff you have no control over.


1. Work on your next project. Trust me, you'll be glad you have something banked when the time comes.

2. READ something. One of the biggest perks to being a writer (whether already published or not) is that reading is not only allowed, but a necessity. Think about it. Guilt-free reading time. It's like somebody telling me not to fill up on veggies, that I MUST save room for chocolate.

3. Hone your social networking skills. Again with the guilt-free. You're not "wasting time" with your incessant twittering and blog-reading. You're building your platform!

4. Stockpile some blog posts. (Okay, I'll admit -- I could be waaay better at this one. We all have our weak spots.)

5. Bake cookies and send them to your favorite bloggers. (On a totally unrelated topic, chocolate chip cookies are great, aren't they?)

Any other suggestions? How are those of you who are waiting for something filling your time? Melting clocks, or perhaps something slightly more productive?

Monday, March 21, 2011

More Monday Meanness, aka How Rotten Can I Be?

Okay, after my post last week about Mr. Meaners, I got to thinking. There must be some way I can be nasty to my characters without imbibing spirits. Because as much as I enjoy a good cocktail or glass of wine, I really don't indulge early in the day.* Since I do the majority of my writing pre-5 o'clock, this can prove awkward.

Then I remembered I'm not just a writer. I'm also an (ex-)actress. So I had the brilliant idea of casting myself in the role of Murphy. You know...

Murphy's Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. 

...that Murphy.

Now, every new page I turn as I'm writing, I ask myself, "Linda, what can possibly go wrong?"

(Yes, I always use my name when I'm talking to myself. It's slightly less weird than me calling me "honey" or "sweetie.")

And then I--er, I mean, Murphy makes it happen. Bwah-ha-hah! *rubs hands together gleefully*

I'm kind of getting into it. I've recently done some downright horrible things to my poor MC. It's gotten to the point where she's giving me dirty looks whenever she pops up in my imagination.

In fact, I'm starting to fear that in some parallel universe (like I talked about in this post) -- one where she's the writer and I'm the character -- she's plotting serious payback.

Uh, sorry about that, Parallel Universe Self. Better you than me!

So, to the writers among you, have you come up with any creative ways to be mean to your characters?

To the non-writers, please feel free to share ways to be mean to real people. I'm sure I could find a way to apply it to my fiction. ;)

*Unless I'm on vacation. In that case, a Bloody Mary on the beach at 11 a.m. is perfectly acceptable, as is a Mimosa at Sunday brunch. Oh, and a beer with pizza for lunch.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friday Factoids from the Zoo

Last Monday was a gorgeous day, so TG and I went to the zoo. 

Some National Zoo things you may or may not already know:

1. An agitated zebra sounds remarkably like a growling donkey -- a really fearsome braying noise. Was quite surprised to hear this for myself at the zoo on Monday.

2. There was a time when the National Zoo actually served lion meat in a restaurant right there at the zoo. As far as I know, their cheeseburgers are now made with 100 % beef.

3. No matter which way you walk at the National Zoo, it will be uphill.

4. Admission to the National Zoo is free. However, they make up for it with the $15 parking fee and the $10 burger combo meals.

5. Orangutan hair feels quite wiry, kind of like a horse's tail, only stiffer.

6. No matter how nice they make the animal enclosures -- and some are quite deluxe -- I can't help but feel it's still a prison. (That's a tiger lounging by the water. He seemed bored.)

7. Emus are weird-looking, and they can kill you with a well-placed kick. They have very sharp toenails. Never stand behind an emu.

Yeah, that's it for my Friday post. Our heat pump is busted, and I'm waiting for the repairman to come out and flabbergast me with the cost of the repair. Puts me kind of a ...

...*cough* fowl mood.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

More for the Verifictionary, aka Desperate for a Blog Topic

Remember the verifictionary

Well, I've been continuing to make the blog rounds, so I've come across more security "words" in those annoying* boxes that pop up to make sure you are, indeed, a human being and not a spam-bot.

Recently Found: 

ovenato -- A roasted tomato.

ovadu-- What a book is when you don't return it to the library on time. 

muledg -- How many miles you get per bale of hay with your mule.

fulti --What Dolly Parton's undershirt is.

oppeat -- When you have to do the op over again. 

pitysin -- What a bad boy does when he feels sorry for you.

expolo --Something that is no longer a popular men's fragrance. 

exilk -- Someone who used to be of a certain ilk, but is no longer. 

swoodium -- Little known member of the Periodic Table of Elements. Being in its presence makes people first stiffen like a board, and then faint.

irings--What your iPhone does.

bimander -- A salamander that swings both ways.

inona -- What you are with a joke when you know about it and somebody else doesn't.

Have you guys been playing the game, too? Come across any good ones?

*Yes, I know why people use them. They serve a very useful purpose. Spam is a nasty thing, and nobody likes to deal with it. Those anti-spam words guard the gate. Kind of like parents with their children. Doesn't mean they're not annoying. Some useful things are very annoying. Kind of like parents with...yeah.**

**(Yes, I'm footnoting my footnote. Tres outrageous of me, yes?) See, I do remember what it was like to be a teenager. Vaguely.

Monday, March 14, 2011

High Grimes and Mister Meaners (Go ahead. Groan. You know you want to.)

It may not have escaped your notice that I enjoy a cocktail from time to time. Recreationally, for the most part, but sometimes I might visit the *cough* spiritual world to exorcise my writerly inhibitions.

(Stop laughing. I do have inhibitions. I just happen to hide them well.)

I exorcise them because -- and this is a terrible thing for a badass writer to admit -- I sometimes have difficulty being mean to my characters. I have an embarrassing tendency to want to give them a life full of rainbows and puppies.

What can I say? I'm a marshmallow*. And marshmallows are BORING.

Since the last thing I want is to produce boring books, I have to find a way to release my inner meanie. My alter ego, the antithesis of ME:

Mr. Meaners.

Mr. Meaners is much nastier than I am. He'll** happily toss my characters into painfully embarrassing and downright dangerous situations that I, with my achingly gentle heart, could never do.

After Mr. Meaners has done the dirty work, I come back in and do my thing. I call it Marshmallow Time -- you know, when it's time to fix the messes, to kiss and make up, to have a moment or two of perfect bliss. None of which would be nearly as satisfying if Mr. Meaners hadn't first laid the bumpy groundwork.

Novels are generally chock-full of a sadistic kind of foreplay, aren't they? Something bad happens...then something else bad happens...oh, look! something worse!...OMG, the WORST!!!

...and then everything is hunky dory. If you write light and funny, like I do, anyway. If you write deep, dark, and serious, then you might not wind up at hunky dory. You still get "hunky" -- if you're lucky ;) -- but not necessarily dory.

The point is, all that sadistic foreplay is what makes the ending fulfilling. In real life we love smooth sailing. Being happy all the time is not boring to us. (Now, our friends and neighbors might be more entertained if we provided some melodrama, but that's because, like readers, they are observers. Observers need more stimulation than participants. Something to do with the distance from the action, I suppose. It's like trying to scratch an itch through corduroy -- you have to press harder to get any satisfaction.)

When you really think about it, though, I'm being altruistic when I have a cocktail and release Mr. Meaners on my characters. It's all in the name of building a better book.

Yes, I do it for the readers. What can I say? I'm a giver.

*But a BADASS marshmallow.

**Of course he's a guy -- otherwise he couldn't be my total antithesis, could he?

Friday, March 11, 2011

A BRIDE at last! (Hmm. Wonder if I can get away with wearing white...)

[First of all, to my kids: Relax. You're not bastards. It's a metaphor.]

So, I was flipping through the channels and happened upon 27 Dresses -- the Katherine Heigl movie about a woman who's been in 27 weddings but never her own. (Why, yes, TG was at work and our son was out -- how'd you guess?) Somewhere around the time she was modeling her third or fourth dress it occurred to me

I'm finally going to be the bride.

Let me explain. I have, in the past, had the privilege of being included on the acknowledgment pages of quite a few of my writer friends, including Joanna Bourne, author of award-winning historical romances, and Vicki Pettersson, best-selling urban fantasy author of the Zodiac series.

And, hey, I knew them when. Way back when they were struggling schlubs just like the rest of us.

(Um...sorry, Jo and Vic. "Schlubs" is just an expression. I've never met two less schlubby people in my life. In fact, really you're the anti-schlubs. Please don't hit me.)

I even somehow wound up in the ACKs of A Breath of Snow and Ashes (Book 6 of the Outlander series), by the ever gracious Diana Gabaldon. Here's what that one says:

"Linda Grimes, for betting me that I couldn't write an appealing scene about nose-picking. That one is all her fault."

Yes, it can now be revealed. I am THAT Linda Grimes. Forever tied in print to picking noses. Hope you can stand the excitement of knowing me. ;)

And Diana blamed me for her nose-picking. *beams* Not many can make that claim.

We'd been having a discussion about whether there were things you just shouldn't have a character do if you wanted the readers to like him/her. And, yannoh, not go eeeeuuuwww! I speculated that nose-picking was likely unattractive enough to put a character out of the running as a possible heartthrob.

Well, the whole thing morphed into a contest over at the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum. Various members wrote scenes in which nose-picking was involved, and I judged whether or not I was too grossed out to be properly engaged as a reader.

Diana, of course, nailed it, as you know if you've ever read A Breath of Snow and Ashes -- and she liked the scene well enough to include it in the book, which I think is pretty cool.

I'm always proud as all get-out to be included in anyone's acknowledgments. It's an honor I don't take lightly, and never will. But after a few times, you start to feel -- and, I dunnoh, this might be a horrible admission, but hey, I'm human -- a little like a perpetual bridesmaid.

Not that there's anything wrong with being a bridesmaid. *blink* (Try not to think about the dresses.)

Anyway, you know the saying I'm talking about, right? "Always a bridesmaid, never a bride." 

I was getting to the point where I thought that might apply to my writing. That I might make it to the ACKs page, but never be the one to do the acknowledging.

So it's no wonder the first thing I thought of (once I could think beyond OMFG!! Squeeee...!!!) was that now I'd finally get to officially thank a lot of people who have helped me with my books.

Because a book is never just one person's project. Support from family and friends, input from crit partners, beta readers, and, later, agents and editors -- it all goes into the great big book stew-pot. And I'm really looking forward to acknowledging, in print, the folks who've been there for me. 

(Er, presupposing I get an ACKs page. I sure hope so!)

So, who wants to catch the bouquet? :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hump Day, and I'm not in Hawaii...*sighs*

So, ever have one of those lazy days? The kind where you can think of all sorts of things you could be doing...that you should be doing...and yet you just sort of...

And then maybe you...

And you know you really should get motivated, because...

...the road ahead could be a little challenging?

But all you can obsess about...dwell on...think about, is that you're not, yannoh, IN HAWAII, sucking on a coconut, like your crit partner is!!! Or even JUST BACK FROM HAWAII, like your other crit partner!!!

(Y'all know who you are.)

You ever have one of those days? *sigh*

Yeah, *cough* me neither.

Don't mind me. I'll just be over here in the corner, not sucking rum out of a coconut.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday musings on unrelated, seemingly silly, yet penetrating, questions...

So, I was pondering deep philosophical questions over the weekend. (Yes *cough* alcohol may have been involved. It was the weekend.)

Here. I'll share them with you, and give you my carefully considered answers. Then maybe you can give me yours, in the comments. Just for grins and giggles.

*ahem* Are you ready? Here goes:

1. If you had to be turned into a vampire, a zombie, a werewolf, or a ghost, which would you choose?

For me, it's ghost all the way. I just don't think I could get into drinking blood or eating brains, and the monthly transformation process for werewolves sounds like it would be excruciating. I'm not into pain, either.

But a ghost? Once you get past that whole non-corporeal thing, it might be kind of cool. Plus, you wouldn't have to fear dying anymore, right? And you'd get to haunt people.  Anybody really tick you off? Go scare the living crap out of them! Think how much fun that could be!

2. If you had to come back in your next life as a plant, what plant would you be? 

This was a toughie. I mean, the possibilities are ginormous! Tree? Shrub? Flower? Vegetable?

Hmm. I think I'd have to go with a flower of some sort. An annual. Something short-lived, because seriously? Who in the heck wants to be a plant? Best to get that whole lifetime over as quickly as possible.

Or, hmm...maybe one of those Venus Flytrap things. Then I could move, after a fashion, and eat. Because that whole photosynthesis thing? Not gonna do it for me. Sunlight just doesn't sound filling enough.

3. If you were a painting, what type would you be? 

Well, not a Picasso, that's for sure. I like my nose in the center of my face. Nor a Dali. Too melty.

Maybe a nice da Vinci. I could get into being mysterious, like the Mona Lisa. 

4. Let's get elemental. You're fire. Are you: A) a conflagration, huge and bright, but quickly extinguished, or B) a banked and smoldering ember, not giving off a lot of light, but sticking around and providing warmth for a while? 

Me, I'd opt for B. That whole conflagration thing, while exciting and impressive, sounds exhausting.

5. When it comes to cleaning up life's emotional messes, are you a broom (sweep them aside), a mop (wash them away with water; i.e., tears), or a vacuum cleaner (suck them all up until you find a convenient time and place to empty out)? 

Hmm. Another tough one. It takes a helluva lot to make me cry, so probably not mop. I might suck small traumas inside, and hold them there until I can get a handle on them, so maybe a vacuum. Sometimes, anyway. But I definitely tend to sweep things aside with humor whenever I can get away with it, so I guess I'd have to say broom.

6. If you could remotely program other people's cell phones with a special ringtone to let them know it was you calling, what would it be? 

My first thought was a long, drawn-out, and embarrassingly loud fa--er, raspberry. Because can you imagine the high-larity that would ensue when that noise started emanating from pockets in public places? It would be tough to restrain myself from calling over and over again...

OTOH, I really don't want people thinking, damn, that stinks whenever I call. So I guess I'd go with something a bit more innocuous, like Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Well, not the whole thing. Just the good part. The crescendo. Because I like it.

Okay, I showed you mine. Now show me yours. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Why Not Winner!

Last Friday I had a little contest in which the contestants were asked to give their best answer to the burning quesion:

Why not? 

The person who gave the best answer (as determined by my subjective opinion) was to win a *PRIZE!* selected by me. Said prize was to be silly and/or edible.

I think I have hit upon a good combo of silly and edible. First, this charming green pen, suitable for tackling those REALLY BIG writing projects, like novels:

(Silver pen and 8" x 11" piece of paper are there to show the scale; not included in prize package.)

Next up, help for those days you really have to push yourself to get started: 

If that's not enough, you can add oomph with some Bolt Cola (jelly beans):

It even comes with its own bottle opener:

And finally, a laser projector... remind you that you'll be a star one day:

(Look closely. That's really a star it's projecting, I promise.)

The WINNER of these fabulous prizes:

Abby Mumford!!!

Abby's answer: 

"WHY NOT? Because in a parallel universe, someone is asking why? and in a different universe, someone is getting an answer, the very answer you seek. And then if you come back around to here, you're still asking the question why not instead of realizing you already know the answer.

Yeah, that's why not." 

I thought that really captured the existential nature of the question. Plus, it references parallel universes, and we all know from my recent post on the subject, I dig parallel universe theory.

Abby, if you'll email me you address at linda(dot)grimes(at)gmail(dot)com, I'll send you you prizes. 

Everyone else: Great answers! And please stay tuned for future inane contests with silly prizes. :)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

When my books sold, I thought I would dye!

It all started with Kiersten White. She's the one who went and made a pact with the universe that she'd dye a wacky stripe in her hair if our agent, the amazing Michelle Wolfson, sold her book. (Paranormalcy. If you haven't heard of it, you must have been living under a rock.)

Michelle did; Kiersten held up her end of the bargain.

Then another of Michelle's clients, the fantastically funny Tawna Fenske, got into the act when her hilarious trio of romantic comedies sold. (Look for the first, Making Waves, this coming August. I've read it -- trust me, you do not want to miss it.)

I'm still waiting for Kimberly Sabatini's post with photographic proof that she's following the Wolf Pack tradition. ;)

In the meantime, I'm making good on my vow. Being such a badass risk-taker (ha!), I decided I could easily do it myself. All I would need:

Okay, what really happened: the lady who cuts my hair said it was light enough that the part to be colored wouldn't have to be bleached first, and it would be super easy to do myself. So I got myself this bottle of "Raw Color" hair dye from Hot Topic.

The young man who waited on me there (kind of half-Goth, with a moderate number of piercings -- has anyone else noticed how nice and polite Goth kids are?) thought that since my agency sistahs had gone with purple, I should go with fuchsia, just to mix it up a little.

Plus, "Fuchsia Fatale"? Who could resist? I mean, it's just so ME!

The result:

If I look backwards (hey, no cracks!) it's because I was taking my own picture in the mirror, since I waited until I was alone to attempt this. Naturally. Who wants an audience for this kind of thing? (Er, the hair-dying, not the self-picture-taking. Though, come to think of it, who wants an audience for that kind of thing either?)

I kind of like it. I'm thinking of going with neon green next time Michelle sells one of my books.

So, have you ever done something kind of wacky and out of character? Did you have a good reason, or was it a what-the-hell moment?