Welcome to whatever is on my mind!

Some people use the term "nonsense" but I prefer to use the phrase "uncommonly sensed" because it's more reflective of creative types.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How To Ensure That Your Children Will Need Therapy

My kids are probably already going to need therapy so I figure that I might as well make it interesting for the therapist.  Here’s an example:
Child: Do I really have to eat my vegetables in order to get dessert? I don’t like peas.
Me: What is it that you don’t like about them?
Child: Everything.
(I look at the child’s plate to study the peas carefully.)
Me: I see what you mean.  They do sort of look like tiny, shriveled martian eyeballs.
The odd part is that the kid now eats peas without complaining.  He’s also learned that stuffed peppers are not really stewed monkey heads, but he eats them anyway.
Sounds like a classic win-win-win situation for everybody.
Win #1: I got the kid to eat his food.
Win #2 : Kid thinks he’s getting something extraordinary and exciting that he can tell his friends about at school.
Win #3: Therapist will die laughing one day and look forward to appointments with my son.
I think I may write a book on parenting...

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

More Advice on Becoming an Author: Approaching Agents and Publishers

Agent and publishers are flooded with manuscripts daily.  Remember this when you approach them.  In order to stand out you need to convince them that you are not a waste of their time, so the very first thing you need is a completed and polished manuscript.  Yes, finding an agent or publisher can take months or years, but you will be immediately disqualified if they ask for your book and it hasn’t met the minimum criteria.  They will throw it away.
I would also recommend hiring an editor to look at it before submitting it.  You may be under the impression that you can delegate the editing of your book to the publisher’s editors.  This is a mistake.   Here ‘s why: Because, as I said earlier, you need to convince the agent or publisher that you are not a waste of their time.  If a book hasn’t already been through preliminary editing it may take months to get it ready for printing.  A book that is already in good shape will go to market sooner and therefore is worth their time. Submitting a manuscript that needs work is the same thing as letting them know that you’re not ready to be published.  Your manuscript will be on the discard pile faster than you can say “edit.” 
Whether or not you decide to pay a freelance editor, I strongly recommend that you find someone other than yourself to edit your manuscript.  Never assume that you will catch all your own typos and mistakes no matter how good a writer you may be.  I have successfully edited books by other authors and I still can’t catch all of my own typos. The problem is that when you’re the writer you’re too close to the ideas in your head and you may even be reading the prose the way you correctly imagine it to be inside your mind, rather than the way your hands have typed it.  A second pair of eyes is a good investment.  If you can afford to pay for experienced eyes, it’s an even better investment.
So before writing a query letter, make sure that your manuscript is in excellent form.  Yes, the publisher will have an editor go through it again and there may be more changes.  But most of professional writing is rewriting and it’s a process.  The deadlines for new drafts only help to make it more exciting (Writing humor.  Just laugh.).
A great resource is the Editorial Freelancers Association where you can find freelance editors and other information, such as a guide to current fees so you can get an idea of how much this work will cost you.  Remember that the number of hours it will take to edit your manuscript is dependent upon the strength of your writing skills.  Manuscripts with more mistakes take longer to edit and therefore will cost more.  It’s a good idea to go through your manuscript several times yourself before sending it to the editor.  This can save you money in the long run. Also note that editing and proofreading are not the same thing.  Proofreaders are cheaper, but they will not address any content, plot discontinuities, or style issues.  They will only correct spelling, punctuation, and grammatical mistakes.  Finally, make sure that any editor you hire is familiar with your genre. The styles of editing for different genres are not the same and getting the right editor can make a huge difference in the quality of your manuscript.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How to Deal with Mondays

Research has shown us that more heart attacks take place on Monday mornings than any other day of the week.  But we don’t need research to tell us that Mondays are dangerous.  We already know that this day of the week packs more bad luck and  unbridled evil than any other day of the week.  So what can we do about it?  I have a few suggestions to get this discussion started.
1. Name the next Bond Villain “Monday” to immortalize the evil nature of this day in film.   This doesn’t solve anything, but it will make us feel better when Bond eventually blows him up.
2. Develop a vaccine against Mondays to prevent them from erupting every week.
3. Sell “Monday Insurance” to help guarantee an uneventful Monday.  For each Monday that goes poorly the insured person would collect a payment of $5k.  Of course, Mondays would still suck... but we’d never have to work again.
4. Launder Mondays and distribute them to drug dealers in third world countries. They won’t know what they have until it’s too late.  Then the Monday overload will cause their operations to crumble and we have the added bonus of solving the drug problem.
5. Mail them to Antarctica.  The cold air will freeze them and prevent them from doing harm or multiplying.  Plus, this strategy benefits the U.S. Postal system, which desperately needs our business.  Mondays tend to be very heavy, and thus, very profitable.
6. Sentence convicted Wall Street Investors to live all our Mondays for us while we get to watch.  Make it a reality show.  The advertising dollars can go to support Social Security before it goes bankrupt.
7. Put all the Mondays in a padded cell, force their eyes open with toothpicks, and make them watch American Idol auditions so that these Mondays can get a sample of the pain they cause us.
The list is endless.  I only know that Mondays are hell.  It’s time we put Mondays in hell.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Nutcracker Safety

During this past holiday season there have been a number of fires and other household accidents in the news.  So while you’re packing up your decorations and getting them stored for next year I thought I’d remind everyone about nutcracker safety.  Why am I covering this just as the holidays are coming to a close?  Because, as you will see below,  storing your nutcracker properly is one of the best things you can do.
Rule 1: Location, Location, Location
When decorating your home, be sure you place your nutcracker in the proper location.  In a home where both parents work, some unsupervised nutcrackers may become bored and form gangs.  This is particularly troublesome if you have a collection and gangs form between nutcrackers in different areas of you house.  For example, kitchen nutcrackers often try to snuff out nutcrackers in other rooms.  The kitchen heat makes them territorial.  With this in mind, also keep all nutcrackers away from fireplaces or heating vents to avoid inflaming their tempers.  This rule also applies to the storage of nutcrackers after the season.
Rule 2: A Nutcracker Mind is a Terrible Thing To Waste
Unsupervised and neglected nutcrackers often become bored and restless.  This can result in the nutcrackers puling trash out of the bin and then using their powerful jaws to drag rotting food remnants or other things into hard to find locations.  Why?  Nutcracker boredom.  These guys were made to crack nuts.  This is what their brains were designed to do and when you prevent them from fulfilling that purpose you risk disaster.  It’s part of the natural order.  So if you’re not going to allow your nutcracker to crack nuts, then please find a suitable occupation for their minds during the holiday season, such as developing financial models to predict the performance of your favorite stocks during the next year (the little guys love to make money).
Rule 3: The Language of the Holidays
Be careful what you say in front of your nutcracker because they often repeat what they hear.  Avoid all cussing and foul language because these words stick with them and are very difficult to remove from their vocabularies.  Don’t even say, “Aunt Martha’s butt looks as wide as the Pacific in that blue skirt” because the nutcrackers will repeat it.  Often. In fact, they may start singing it in four part harmony to the tune of a familiar carol just as Aunt Martha is admiring your collection of nutcrackers.
Rule 4: To Sleep, Per Chance to Dream
Nutcrackers need a good 10 to 11 months of rest during the year.  Therefore, absolutely DO NOT leave your nutcracker on display throughout the year.  This can cause disorientation, confusion, and a whole host of other problems.  Aside from the issues above, your nutcracker may become cranky and start whining right in the middle of your favorite TV show.  In addition, you may find yourself having to explain things that no nutcracker should ever know.  Such as “What is summer vacation and why don’t I get one?”
Rule 5: The Truth Will Set You Free
Under no circumstances should you ever show the Nutcracker Ballet to your nutcracker.  It makes them egotistical and power hungry.  If for some reason your nutcracker has seen the ballet, I strongly recommend that you also show him any “making of” footage on your DVD.  This will help your nutcracker to see that the ballet is all make believe and that he wasn’t destined to rule the world as a prince.  Flowers don’t dance, sugar plum fairies only eat sugar substitute so that they can still fit into their costumes, and nutcrackers are free men only at the holidays.  The rest of the year they are stored safely away from heat, matches, and any other nutcrackers with whom they might want to pick a fight.
Be safe this year.  Store your nutcrackers properly.