Sunday, September 18, 2011

Word

Posted by Melanie Bennett at 7:23 AM 26 comments
I am developing an irrational hatred for the phrase "at the end of the day." Maybe I just hear it too often lately, mainly from reality show bottom feeders. I hope that's all it is, and not something more insidious, like that my editing brain has now crept into my real life and is mentally rewriting what people say. "That's a cliche. Find a new way to say it."

My editing brain ruins many, many books for me now. That's bad. Good in the sense that I love the good books even better, but bad in the sense that I'm less patient with books than I used to be. But anyway, editing brain, you are hereby ordered to leave Real Life alone.

And now back to words/phrases people hate. I've bumped into a survey in a couple of different places that says the word Americans hate most is: MOIST.

MOIST! MOIST! MOIST!

Raise your hand if you cringed.

I didn't. That word doesn't bother me. It bounced off of me like I was a MOIST-deflecting Superman. Or something.

I can't think of a specific word I hate. But I can think of lots of words that I hate hearing pronounced the wrong way, and by wrong way I mean not how *I* say it. For example, there is no Z in resource. So why is suddenly everyone saying it like there is? If you are one of these people, are you Canadian? Is this why this is happening?

Anyway, back to the editing brain and the sound of words: last night I was reading a novel (self-published, sadly) that was making me angry. It contained this fraction from a sentence: "treated with careful care by Carol." I think it was not on purpose. And so when I read that aloud to my husband, he gently took the book from me, held it up and looked at the cover, and then calmly punched it.

I love him.

Friday, September 16, 2011

White Noise

Posted by Melanie Bennett at 1:52 AM 8 comments
It's a flood, man. The constant barrage of tweets and FB updates: buy my book, it's awesome, blah blah blah.

I try to follow back anyone on Twitter who follows me unless they're obviously a spammer. But sometimes the spamming is subtle. For example, there's one fairly successful YA writer who ONLY retweets nice stuff people say about her books. After a month of her in my feed, I've learned nothing about her as a person. Not a thing. So I unfollowed her.

And when random writers add me on Facebook, if their first three updates are nothing but marketing ploys, then I immediately hide them.

I get really tired of the Twitter folks who use it is as nothing but a marketing tool. IT WON'T WORK LIKE THAT, DUMMY.

And yet I think Twitter and even Facebook can be incredibly effective for marketing. For example, there are authors whose books I've bought that I wouldn't have otherwise picked up because I've followed them on Twitter for a while and I have a feeling that I'll enjoy their writing voice. I have never once bought a book from someone who tweets nothing but stuff about their own books or about someone else's self-pubbed book because they think the favor will be returned. It all comes off as a smokescreen to me.

And then there's the in-between, the writers who tweet about nothing but writing. I like to talk shop, too. But I need more than that connection point to really click with someone, even at a social media level. So the ones who wear me out with nothing but boring writing updates . . . unfollowed or hidden.

I think I react this way because I'm a classic extrovert, meaning I recharge by interacting with other people. People who don't offer real connection points . . . they just want something from me. In the circles I run in, they mainly want me to buy their book. In real life if you had a friend who always needed something from you without offering anything in return, that would be a toxic friend and ultimately, you'd probably let that friendship wither.

So that's what I do with social media relationships. The ones that don't offer some insight beyond the billboard of a writer's projects, I let those fade.

And amazingly, as many of those as I've let fall by the wayside, I still find some really fun connections.

Maybe that's why blogging is still my favorite thing. It forces more real reciprocity than "like" and "retweet" buttons do.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Research

Posted by Melanie Bennett at 8:40 PM 16 comments
I hate it.

Dang, I picked the wrong job.

I hate it but I do it.

Maybe I don't hate all research. Sometimes it's funny to me. I've had to explore floor plans for Antebellum homes, take a virtual tour of the Space Needle, and study diagrams of marionettes. I've definitely collected some bizarre bits of knowledge.

What surprises me most is that minutiae I have to research that doesn't have much to do with my story. I've spent an hour reading about the origins of steampunk to get a single, non-plot dependent sentence right.

But it pays off. I wrote an entire novel set in Seattle. I never even visited there until after I finished the novel, but I was amazed to discover that the result of all that research was that I walked around the parts of the city I had described and realized I got it right. Surreal.

Here's a top ten list of odd things I've learned while researching:

1. The homes in Audubon Place in New Orleans were protected by Blackwater operatives during the Hurricane Katrina chaos.
2. There are not a lot of spices that make great names for boys.
3. There are a lot of delicious-sounding places to eat in Seattle.
4. It's amazing how much money things will sell for in a New Orleans antique auction.
5. A surprising number of people skirt the foster system in New Orleans.
6. It's hard to research region-specific slang.
7. The cars that teens find cool are totally different between California and Louisiana
8. Any era you search between the 1960s and now, Converse All-Stars are always considered cool
9. The bad parts of Washington DC are among the worst in the country
10. The best research: sitting on Huntington Beach pier while your husband explains why the surfers are doing what they're doing.

What is the weirdest thing you've ever had to research?

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Drum Roll, Please!

Posted by Melanie Bennett at 9:02 AM 1 comments
I just plugged in Ye Olde Numbre Generator and then . . .

I did a drum roll sound, but then . . .

The one I was doing with my fingertips on the coffee table wasn't dramatic enough, so . . .

I STOOD on the coffee table and did a drum roll with my feet like you do in high school football bleachers, and that was much better, but . . .

The baby girl was distracted and wanted to try, so I let her, and that was by far the cutest, so that seemed for sure like the best drum roll and SOOOOO . . . I clicked

GENERATE

and I got

#47

Which is Sheridan at Enjoy Birth (she's THE chief birth blogger on the Interwebz, btw) because LisAway (bless her) chimed in just a tidge after the deadline, and so YAY!!! Sheridan gets a book! And I know her in real life! WHICH MEANS I DON'T HAVE TO PAY SHIPPING!!!!!!!

Sheridan, I will have it for you, SIGNED, at the book launch on Sept. 22! Whoohoo!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Win my new book--Awesome August Blog Hop!

Posted by Melanie Jacobson at 8:29 PM 50 comments
You want something from me, right? That's why you're here from the Awesome August blog hop?


And it's a good thing I have something to give you! One of the very first giveaway copies of my new book Not My Type! Whoohoo!


It's super easy to win.

1. Become a follower of this blog
2. Leave a comment telling me one thing you're thankful for

Why option #2? Well, Not My Type is about a hardheaded girl named Pepper who is forced to write a thank you note every week as sort of a "life therapy," and so she does it . . . with a grumble. But the thank you notes work an interesting magic and before she knows it, she's in the middle of a brand new life adventure even though she was sure she was over the hill at twenty-three. (You can read the first chapter HERE). Since each chapter opens with a thank you note, I thought it would be fun for everyone to drop off their thank yous, silly or serious, here in the comment box. Voila, you're entered. Suh-weet.

This blog hop runs through Wednesday night at midnight, so be sure to enter before then! The winner will be notified by e-mail.

Now that you've entered my contest, come meet all my other blog friends and see what fun things they are offering!




Awesome August Blog Hop Participants

1. Tristi Pinkston, LDS Author
2. Karen Hoover
3. Michael Young
4. Kristy Tate
5. cindy Hogan
6. Julie Bellon
7. Margot Hovley
8. Laurie Lewis
9. Mandi Slack
10. Melanie Jacobson
11. Joyce DiPastena
12. Renae Mackley
13. Debbi Weitzell
14. Donna Hatch
15. Carolyn Frank
16. Marsha Ward
17. Stacy Coles
18. Bonnie Harris
19. Danyelle Ferguson aka Queen of the Clan
20. Diony George
21. Lisa Asanuma
22. Susan Dayley
23. Christine Bryant @ Day Dreamer
24. Stephanie Humphreys
25. Ranee` Clark
26. Tamera Westhoff
27. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
28. Heather Justesen
29. Rebecca Talley
30. Jennifer Hurst
31. Aimee Brown
32. Cheryl Christensen
33. Rachelle Christensen
34. Imaginary Reads
35. Andrea Pearson

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crazy, Stupid Good

Posted by Melanie Jacobson at 7:55 PM 17 comments
The fun of being a movie goer is that if you sit through enough mediocre movies, you'll stumble into one that's worth the price of admission. Or even the price of popcorn. Which is what Crazy, Stupid Love is. Totally worth it, I mean. Even the popcorn. It might even be worth the cost of the babysitter, popcorn and admission.

I'm saying it was good.

As a movie goer, I loved the acting. Ladies, I'm going to show incredible restraint and out of respect to my husband, I will limit my Ryan Gosling comments to this: he can say so much with the tiniest quirk of an eyebrow. Steve Carrell is in his Dan in Real Life groove here, which I love. And the babysitter is awesome. And Julianne Moore is as good as always. I didn't love the oldest kid, but beyond that, actors=great. Emma Stone: exceptional.

But as a writer, I especially loved this movie because the characters are so well-developed. One of my biggest pet peeves in storytelling is when characters are forced to do something that makes no sense for their personality so that the author can ratchet up tension or complicate the story. But if it's not something the character will actually do, it's super distracting to me. Example: I'm a highly skilled international jewel thief in the middle of a major heist. Oops--forget to turn the cell phone off and now it's ringing. Trouble!

*Facepalm.*

Grrr.  Of course a character can make mistakes; it just drives me nuts when they act against type. The character and writer both lose credibility with me and I lose the pleasure of escapism.

One of the things that I loved about this film is that even though at one point the characters are thrown into a situation that would never, ever happen, it didn't distract me at all because the characters were so consistent. I believed their reactions even though I didn't buy the premise, if that makes any sense at all.

To sum up: Go see Crazy, Stupid Love. I kinda think I might want to go see it again. That's a good movie.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Brain dump

Posted by Melanie Bennett at 11:20 PM 10 comments
And here's how you know you're a writer. I went on vacation and wrote TWICE as much as I usually do in a day. And I count that as a GOOD vacation.

Why, yes, I am a barrel of laughs and an amusing travel companion. Assuming you're not married to me. And that if you are, you WANTED to take care of our three kids way more than usual.

Assuming that, I'm a vacation delight.

I read lots on vacation. When I think back on all the uninterrupted reading I got to do, the feeling I get is the one I think the pirates mean when they talk about their timbers getting shivered.

I had three fights with my sister today. I'm wrong every time and I still get in there and swing. I wish someone could explain our dynamic because I don't understand it. It baffles my husband. My brother, in one of the middle of our squabbles today, said to my sister about me at one point, "She's being passive aggressive. Ignore her." And also about me at another point, "She's being a nerd. Let it go." But she wouldn't. Which I'm sure is exactly why I kept it up. I think I'll have no choice but to write soon about siblings who behave like this so maybe I can figure it out.

Finally, name a great movie or TV series about a writer. I'm in the mood for one all of a sudden. My favorite is Stranger Than Fiction but I'm open to other ideas.


 

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