Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ronald McDonald will never be cool

I'm in marketing. I'm sure you know that if you've read me for awhile. And well, I'm a writer and we have to be in marketing. But my day job is also in marketing. One of my Facebook friends posted the dumbest thing I've seen in marketing in awhile. Ronald McDonald's Millennial Makeover.

The new Ronald McDonald will be wearing yellow cargo pants.

The new Ronald McDonald will be wearing a spiffy yellow vest with red piping.

The new Ronald McDonald will be wearing a white and red striped rugby shirt.


There is still some things seriously wrong with this picture.

Ronald McDonald is still wearing yellow with red piping.

Ronald McDonald's name is still Ronald McDonald.

Ronald McDonald's hair is still an unnatural color of red.

Ronald McDonald has unusually large feet.

Ronald McDonald is a clown.

Maybe instead of changing Ronald McDonald's wardrobe you should just go ahead and change Ronald McDonald. Does anyone really like him anyway? No one really likes clowns, do they?

Here is the original picture from the announcement.

First maybe we should change the color of his outfit because...well...I've done a lot of research on color one likes the color yellow.

How about a nice blue. Everyone's favorite color is blue.

Okay, that's a little better, but his hands and feet are still freakish. I think we should update them and make them a little more normal. What do you think?

Yeah, I know, the shoes are cool, he's got regular hands, but he's still a freaky ass clown. Hmmmm...Okay, can't he be a good looking red head, like one of these below?

And since we're giving him a full blown make over, the name Ronald McDonald isn't cool. How about Finn Flanagan or Brady Burns or Cody Collins.

Now I would buy a burger and fries from these guys even if their clothes were still a little "off." What about you?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's Earth Day Motherf*ckers!!

Yes, it's Earth Day and I happen to enjoy the Earth, but there are some strange
things about the Earth that you may not know (yes, stranger than this picture to the right).

  • We're the only planet not named after a god. Dafuq?
  • Some people think we had a sister planet, Theia (also named after a God(dess) and our Earth absorbed it after they collided 4.5 billion years ago and the rest of Theia is now our moon. O.o Sounds legit.
  • The Earth isn't really round. It's geoid, meaning it has love handles.
  • The pull of gravity differs across the globe, meaning, you are technically lighter or heavier in certain locations on Earth. I'm going to assume I live where we weigh heavier.
  • This:
  • The Earth has tectonic plates, which allow the crust to recycle itself, and is the only planet to have them.
  • We're getting jilted out of our days. The Earth actually takes about 23 hours, 56 minutes and 4.091to rotate around its axis.
  • 400 billion gallons of water is used every day across the globe. Sheesuz.
  • Asia has too much mass and too many people. Okay, that's not exactly what the stat said, but it was more funny.
  • 100 pounds on Earth would weigh 30 on Mars. We should all move to mars and eat pizza.
  • The coldest temperature ever recorded on Earth was in Antarctica. It was minus 128.6 degrees. No thanks.
  • The hottest temp ever recorded was in El Azizia, Libya, where it hit 136 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Quakes on the moon can affect our tides here on Earth.
  • Coral reefs are the longest living structures on Earth, which creeps me out a little.
  • Humans can only survive unprotected in space for 2 minutes. So don't leave the Earth. It's good to you and you should be kind in return.
There you have it. Happy Earth Day. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Bike or Walk to work, plant a tree or some flowers. Do something nice for Mother Nature today. Don't be this asshole kid on the right.

Monday, April 21, 2014

These Vines Have Sour Grapes

I have been hanging out a little bit at the writer's forums at the Amazon
Breakthrough Novel Award Contest (which I said I wouldn't do) and let me tell you, just like every year, things have turned ugly since the quarter final cuts.

People aren't happy. They are complaining about their reviews about Amazon's Vine reviewers not being professionals so they have no business judging the competition etc.

Like I said, it happens every year. I believe this is the 7th year of the contest and I've entered 6. Of those 6 times, I have made it to the quarter finals twice, the first year and this year. Did I have sour grapes? Honestly, I don't remember. It's possible, but as a veteran and seeing it happen, I would say probably not. I would say I probably got my reviews, maybe bitched a little and went back to improving my manuscript.

Except the 4th year, but I've already talked about that. And speaking of that, yes, sometimes you will get a person who is not a good reviewer and if you do that sucks. That's what happened to me that 4th year. And when I am talking about a someone who is not a good reviewer, I'm not talking about someone who didn't like my book. Shit happens move on. I'm talking about a person who:
  1. Says nothing at all about your writing in their review.
  2. Adds their biased opinions about ____________(fill in the blank, it could be homosexuals, the death penalty, drugs, whatever) and decides your book is no good because it includes it.
  3. Is obvious they didn't read your entry or openly say they didn't read it yet gave it low marks.
  4. Gives no constructive criticism whatsoever.
  5. Gives criticism in the form of insults, snark and sarcasm.
  6. Instead of encouraging you to work on your craft tells you to quit altogether or worse, kill yourself (yes, the latter has been done).
So, if you get a reviewer like this in the contest the only thing you can really do is
report them to Amazon and hope they never choose them for the contest again. Other than that, it's a done deal.

There are people on the forum bashing the contest, saying it's stupid and Viners shouldn't judge and they will never enter again. Okay. Those people have that right. I just had to point out a few things though:

  • ABNA is a free contest.
  • Amazon gives away 6 publishing contracts and advances in the amount of $125,000
  • It's Amazon's contest, who else are they going to get to judge the 500 excerpts but their own reviewers.
  • You can't judge the entirety of the contest on a couple bad reviewers.
  • Amazon states in the rules who is judging the contest and who they are.
  • It actually prepares you for the real publishing world as it is subjective and some people will hate your work and some people will like it and you will have to learn to deal with that.
I have gone far, I have been cut. I've received good reviews and I have probably
seen the worse review the contest has ever seen, but I will continued to enter because 1) It's free. 2) I'm still a Mid Lister 3) It's a good opportunity to meet other writers 4)I like getting the feedback on my work, which always helps me learn and grow as a writer.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Reviews of Girl in Motion

I wanted to share this yesterday, but I worked late, then there was some Good Friday after hour drinks to be had, a nap because I was going to a show in Seattle and then I didn't get home until like 1 am. BTW, if you like good music and like good country, like old country (because I'm not a country music fan, but I like me some classic stuff like Americana stuff) and some bluesy country and rock, you should check out Clear Plastic Masks and Hurray for the Riff Raff. Effingfantastic stuff.

Also, while you're there checking those out on Youtube, you should check out my latest vlog, Glamorous Life of a Midlist Author, Episode 3.

Okay, back to these reviews. In a word, they were pretty awesome. The first reviewer was not as glowing as the second and that's fine. I've not read the manuscript in a while and though I disagree in some respects (awkward sentences, it's more of a voice thing, but maybe if I rework them, I'll see the light), I'm sure others are spot on, so here is the first review:

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

The author uses good details that add to the emotion of the piece - like the moment when the narrator sees the undertakers rolling her mother out in a black plastic bag with the zipper down the front. The specificity of certain moments in the excerpt allow us to more clearly see and understand the characters. The description of the urn, how Chelsea straps it carefully into the front seat of the car before she leaves - all of these are the moments that make this book seem emotionally moving. I think the author could have more of these moments and further develop the ones s/he already has

What aspect needs the most work?

I think this text could use a couple rounds of editing. There are some awkward sentences, for example: "I slept when she finally died after just three months, and I was glad for it" and "I like how Idgie and Ruth stood up for what was right and by each other in the hardest of times."

I also feel that there are moments where the author doesn't fully develop the scene, character, or dialogue. Often the writing feels like a series of "and then this happened, and then this" without a lo of developed scenes. The strongest moment is when the George's come to take the body, because here we have an emotional scene that has good attention to detail. More moments like this.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

Overall I think this is a fairly strong premise and excerpt - I'm interested in Chelsea and her future with her unknown father. I think it could do well in the Young Adult genre. I do think it could benefit from some more (fairly substantial) editing to further develop the characters and scenes.
Review #2:

ABNA Expert Reviewer

What is the strongest aspect of this excerpt?

"Girl in Motion" is an excellent portrait of a sixteen year old girl confronting the death of one parent and her attempted reconnection with her noncustodial parent. Having lost my father when I was seventeen gave me greater insight into this topic and to the emotions expressed in the excerpt. The author's depiction of Chelsea's reaction to the undertakers is exacting and could only have been written by someone who has experienced a similar event or who is extraordinarily empathetic.

What aspect needs the most work?

"Girl in Motion" was another excerpt that I found so compelling that I was unable to find any significant weakness needing additional work. The author captured the characters' attitudes and emotions quite well. Individuals' reactions to various challenges and conflicts were genuine and were those most would also experience. If one thing might add to the piece, it would be helpful to know the cause of Chelsea's parents' divorce and the reason for her lack of contact with her father.

What is your overall opinion of this excerpt?

I thought "Girl in Motion" was an excellent piece of writing that promises to develop into a fine work of young adult fiction. The situations in this piece are ones many teens confront; the reactions true to life; and the outcome uncertain - as in life. The characters are relatable and appealing. Their resilience is part of the story and their eventual triumph is something the reader hopes will occur. 
 Needless to say, I'm very happy with these reviews I've received. You can now
go read and review my excerpt of Girl In Motion here, and I would love if you did because I believe they are taken into some kind of account during the contest.
Next step: Top 25 (Semi-Finalists) announced June 13th at ABNA. The Semi-Finalists will be determined by ranking each Quarter Finalist Entry based on the average Judging Criteria score given to each Quarter Finalist Entry by Publishers Weekly. We reserve the right to advance fewer than 5 Entries from each Category to the Semi-Finals if, in our sole discretion, we do not receive a sufficient number of eligible and qualified Entries.
There you have it. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award Contest

So, I don't even know if I mentioned that I entered this contest again. This is the...wait, I need to count...1,2,3,4,5...6th time I've entered the ABNA contest. The first time I went to to the semi-finals. After the first year, they changed the way they did things drastically. The 2-4 time I got past the pitch phase. If you make it that far, you received reviews from the first round of reviewers, I think in the 2nd year it was Publisher's Weekly, but since, it's been Amazon Vine reviewers. The 5th year, I didn't make it anywhere.

I was trying to locate the reviews I received, but alas, could not, except for the scathing one I received in year 4. You see, although I was ousted in year 2, both my reviews were good. Year 3, the reviewers like my writing, but not the subject matter (school shooting, graphic violence, meh).

However, year 4...oy. I don't even remember my 2nd review (though I think it was pretty good) because this one blew my mind. If there was every a person that didn't "get" my writing, or the voice, it was this guy. And I only say guy because that's the vibe I got from the review. I will add that the reviewer though I was a teenager,
which I take as a compliment to the voice of my character being spot on, although he didn't get that.  But this is also a sad statement because if I had been a teenager, this person probably would have made me quit writing forever. The following is not constructive criticism. It is an attack and would do no writer any good. I will also add that by the time I entered this contest, I already had my book contract for Never Eighteen.

 Here are a few of my favorite lines from that review.

"Unfortunately you have failed to pay attention in the one class required to be able to write well - English."

Um, really? I think Houghton Mifflin Harcourt would disagree.

"It's a shame that you didn't write anything that hasn't been written hundreds of times already this year."

Yes, because in 2010 I'd seen tons of book out there about girls who wanted to play high school football to gain the attention of their estranged father. O.o

"If this was a school paper, I'd have to give it an 'F'."

Well thank god it wasn't!

"It is way too easy today for people to get published and sincerely hope you do not see that as an option. Frankly this is no where good enough to be called a "book" and you to be called an "author.""

First of all, really? It's too easy to get published today? What alternate reality are you living in? And um, you think I'm like 16 and you're going to say something like that to me. Yeah, way to dash the hopes and dreams of tomorrow's future. I'll think I'll go shave my head, put on some black clothing, read some Plath and cut into my thighs. Sheesh.

In a word, this guy(woman, whatever) was a douche. I've learned to handle bad
reviews and criticism, but I was like, bewildered. *Blink Blink* Did I really just read that?

So anyway, I digress. The point of writing this blog was to tell you that I have made it to the quarter finals of the ABNA contest for the first time since the first year I entered and with the same book I entered that received this scathing review.  Girl in Motion - football book. So, there you have it.