Rogue Novels

About a year ago, we hired a company to clean our carpets.

The gentleman who arrived at our door looked like someone who would be, perhaps, even better suited to perform at a bachelorette party.

But Therefore I opened the door wide for him and spent the next few hours pretending to write as he cleaned my carpets.

When he finished, and I handed him my Visa, he smiled. “You know, Mrs. Callender, cleaning carpets is just my day job.”

“Oh?” Suddenly I felt uncomfortable.

He reached for his back pocket, pulled out his wallet and slipped a business card into my hand. “I’m a writer. And an actor.”

“Ah,” I said. “Got it.”

“This card is for my new movie . . . check it out if you want.”

I read the card aloud. “Rogue Saints: The greatest church, diamond heist, romance, comedy, drama, adventure you’ve ever seen.” I smiled. “Wow. All those things in one movie!”

When my husband got home that night, I held up the business card, moving it around as if tantalizing him with a treat. “Not sure you want to commit to just one genre?” I murmured, my voice sultry. “Try Rogue Saints: The greatest church, diamond heist, romance, comedy, drama, adventure you’ve ever seen.”

Who would fund a film that clearly had such major identity issues? Who would write a screenplay that was such a blatant, unapologetic salmagundi?

Well, my friends, the Mocker is now the Mocked as it seems I, too, have managed to write a genre-straddler of a novel. [Read more…]


You Can Get (Almost) Anything on EBay

As I write this post, EBay has sixty active listings for “full suit of armor.”

Some are shiny silver, others are bronze. Some have gaudy feathers on the helmet, others offer chain mail accents. A few promise a complimentary battle axe. The prices range from $10-$9,650, and twenty listings offer free shipping.

But as long as mine is a full suit of armor, a head-to-toe get-up that will protect my tender heart, my fragile ego, my flighty muse from all writerly rejection, I’ll be a happy customer.

So what size armor am I? If it’s too big or too small, will a tailor be able to alter the suit to fit my 5’4”, short-waisted self?  Oh, and I am prone to heat rash . . . and armor, I assume, lacks the breathability of cotton.

Shoot. I just did some research and learned that even chain mail, which would provide a bit more ventilation on warm summer days, is heavy. Clangy too. How can I possibly sneak up on people when I’m so clangy? Will librarians allow me to enter the library with such a noisy ensemble? Shhhh! They will say. SHHHH, Knight-Writer!

Still, I desperately want to protect my sensitive self from the many forms of rejection that are hurled at me, sometimes when I am prepared, and other times, when I have left my shield and safety goggles at home, right there on the counter beside my grocery list and the overdue library books.

Make no mistake; we writers will be rejected. Agents will not want to represent our work. Editors will not want to purchase our manuscript. Our sincere blog posts will be mocked. We will get one-star ratings on Amazon and Good Reads.

We writers will be rejected in productive ways (“I adored your protagonist, but the second half of the story felt predictable, even when she punched the priest, then ran off with the Best Man. “) and unproductive ways, (“Your book sucked. I don’t know how it got published. It was worse than barf.”)

In this era of the Internet, unproductive feedback abounds. Jaron Lanier, author of You Are Not a Gadget, explains that the anonymity we find on the Web can too easily turn people into trolls, “anonymous [people] who [are] abusive in an online environment.”

Even when a reader or critic makes his identity known, he can still hide in the internet’s vast ethersphere, saying whatever he wants in whatever unproductive language he chooses.

And it will hurt. We writers tend to have an abundance of sensors and feelers. Our porous skin absorbs everything. Our brains are wrapped in fly paper. Everything—every review or comment or rejection—sticks.

So what do we do? [Read more…]


Imagine Saving a Life: An Indie Bookstore Pledge

I’ve never really considered myself hero material. I don’t have the right footwear. I need at least 7.5 hours of sleep a night. When I stand up too fast, I get a little dizzy and have to bend over for about five seconds until the blood rushes to all the right places.

My most unheroic trait, however, is this: I am a shirker of responsibility.

To illustrate my point, the Puget Sound Blood Center has been calling me, hoping I will set up an appointment for another blood donation.

I said they could call me; I just said I needed a full year to recover from the panic attack I had there last summer (they still gave me the juice and cookies). My year must be up because I see their number appear on the Caller ID: PSBC Predictive, calling to remind me that donating blood equals saving a life.

I let it go to voicemail. Superman wouldn’t let it go to voicemail.

Another realm of my shirkdom, one that’s far more humiliating to admit to my writer friends: I have bought many, many books on Amazon. Please know my head is low and my cheeks are red as I admit this to you.

Of course I’ve long known that writers should support indie bookstores. But still, I didn’t. I had become lazy and cheap, two traits to which Amazon caters.

In writing this post, however, I realized the magnitude of my stupidity. Realizing the magnitude of my stupidity made me want to reduce the magnitude of my stupidity. The result? I vowed that I would no longer allow my desire for convenience and my love of a good bargain to rule my book buying decisions.

I would do my part to save the lives of independent bookstores. And in doing so, I would become something of a hero. A third tier hero, sure, but a hero nonetheless.

And today, so can you.

But why should you? Why should your friends and family care about saving the lives of independent bookstores? [Read more…]