Carrie Harris | Young Adult Author

Friday, May 29, 2009

Twilight Parody: The Merpire Bowling League

Has it really been almost a month since I posted some Twilight parody? How have we lived this long? Why didn't someone tell me? There should have been rioting in the streets, and a line of picketers outside my house with signs like, "More Merpires, Less Other Assorted Crap!" and "Your Twilight parody rocks my socks off... or it would if you remembered to write more of it."

You're slacking, people.

Anyway, this edition of my "Twilarious" parody is called The Merpire Bowling League.

Ellba was cleaning off her truck when Ward fell on top of the cab with a heavy, wet sounding thump. He slid off the side and fell smack into a puddle.

"Ward!"

She rushed to him, heart pounding at the thought that something bad might happen to him and then she'd be stalker free. It wasn't the kind of existence she wanted to ponder. She needed to be stalked like most people need to eat, although she wasn't going to deep fry Ward and eat him with a nice jalapeno tartar sauce.

Not for lack of trying, anyway.

"I'm fine," he said, irritably rubbing his head. "I guess I should have remembered to put my legs on before I jumped." He concentrated for a moment until his scales shimmered ochrely and then split into two well-defined legs. He stood up. Ellba tried not to stare, tried to forget about the tartar sauce in her back pocket. It wasn't working.

"Are you drooling?" he asked.

She shook her head wordlessly, not trusting herself to speak.

"Whatever. Anyway, I came over in such a hurry because I want you to meet my family."

"You do?" she squeaked.

"Yes. We're bowling tonight. I want you to come."

"Bowling doesn't seem very merpire-ish," said Ellba skeptically. "Are you sure this isn't a joke?"

He grinned, and the effect was so glorious that she swooned. But when she came to, he said, "No, my beautiful Ellba. I don't joke about bowling. Now let's go."

She was a little confused when, instead of heading to the Spork Bowling Center, they took the back roads out of town and into the wilderness. They drove for a long time. He was silent, and she was too busy trying to surreptitiously wipe the drool off her chin to keep up a decent conversation.

When they pulled into the clearing and he turned off the car, she said, "Uh, Ward? How are you going to bowl HERE?"

"Watch and learn, my little love guppy. This isn't your average bowling. This is merpire style."

He grinned again. She swooned again too, but that's getting a little repetitive, so you just fill in all the blanks, okay? Every time Ward talks, you just imagine Ellba doing her little swoony thing. Thanks.

When she followed him out onto the grass, she noticed a long line of Slip n' Slides stretching out into the dim yonder, at least two football fields away. Ward's sister Ali came up to survey the field, linking her cold arm with Ellba's.

"This is going to be so kewl!" she said, her pixie-like face glowing with anticipation. "I'm so glad you came, Ellba. You can be the scorekeeper." She handed over a little bowling card and a tiny golf pencil. "I'd do it, but with my crazy merpire strength, I keep breaking the pencils. That one started off normal sized before I pulverized one end. Merpires invented golf pencils; did you know that?"

"Uh... no."

"Don't mind Ali," said Ward easily. "She doesn't make very much sense."

"And Ward's a big boobie. But don't mind that. Just call them like you see them, Ellba."

"Uh... okay," said Ellba uncertainly.

"You don't mind if I fin up first, do you, Ali?" Ward asked. And before Ali could reply, he took a few giant steps backwards and winked at Ellba before running full speed at the Slip N' Slide. He moved so fast that he was a blur; his legs shifting into those beautiful ochre fins that haunted Ellba's dreams. His fishy body rocketed down the wet plastic, sending up sprays of water, and then there was the faint crack of contact coming from the other side of the clearing.

"Well?" said Ali, looking at Ellba.

"Well what?"

"You're supposed to call it like you see it."

Ellba squinted into the dim distance. "I can't see a freaking thing."

"Well, it was a strike." Ali snatched the scorekeeping materials away from Ellba, crushing the pencil into dust in the process. "Damnit. Now we can't keep score. You wanna be the ball? That might be fun."

"Only if I can be a sparkly ball," replied Ellba. "Sparkle sparkle sparkle."

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Yep. I'm the Bimbo.

I was reading this post the other day on Lady Glamis' blog about how she usually has a romantic affair with her books but was contemplating a divorce. From her current book, sillies, not from her lovely sword-wielding husband.

Anyway, it got me to thinking. So many people talk about falling in love with their books, like writing a book is like a romcom. I don't do that. My relationship with my books is more like a horror film. Actually, that's not entirely accurate: I write like a slasher film. I'm talking about the kind of book in which everyone gets chopped up into kibble except the one cheerleader, who decides to go out searching for her friends in the dead of night even though there's so much blood on the floor that no one could ever survive, and she's wearing only a baby doll nightie and no shoes. In the woods. As she's going out the door, she remembers that there's a bad guy out there and decides she'd better arm herself. With a ruler.

And you're sitting there on the couch (I always watch these kinds of movies on the couch because then I can heckle them. Loudly.) yelling, "Go back into the cabin, you bimbo! What're you going to do with a RULER? Measure the guy before he kills you? Put some fricking clothes on and call the police!" Only of course she doesn't, and then she ends up standing in the middle of a big field, looking around wildly for the bad guy who is standing right behind her, waving his big pointy knife around to get her attention.

Yeah, that's what my writing process is like. And in case you haven't figured it out, I'm the bimbo.

I keep getting myself into these seemingly unsolvable corners in my mannie. Outlining doesn't solve this problem, because I inevitably come up with a really kewl idea that totally blows the whole outline out of the water, so the whole thing is just a waste of time. Anyway, I end up blindly groping around for a solution kind of like the bimbo, only with more appropriate clothing. The solution, of course, is often blazingly obvious. It's not standing behind me waving around a big pointy knife, but it might as well be.

So much for feeling superior to the bimbo. I promise not to heckle you any more. Much.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Query Ninja - Freakshows Forgotten

It's time for another edition of Query Ninja! Did you miss the wonderfulness last week? Go here for an explanation of what we're doing and here to see the first installment. Don't worry. We'll wait. I'm also trying something a little different here; I'm italicizing the words that I replaced to see if that makes it easier for you to read. Let me know if it makes a difference.

This Query Ninja has been made possible by Humongously Awesome Hollan, or HAH! for short. A big round of applause to HAH! for having the nerve to submit her query for all to see. Please remember to refer to her by her full name or acronym in the comments, and as always, be nice. Like I need to tell you that; I know. I'm just obsessive compulsive.

And here's the query, MadLibbified.

Dear Agent,

Bigfoot, 14, thinks he’s going insane. After the move to a new house a chipmunk no one else can see follows him, a sparkly door appears, and he slips farther from his family until the day they can’t remember him at all.

Then he meets Britney Spears, a girl whose family forgot her a hundred years before, and learns the world of the freakshows has claimed them both. Armed only with a map and pursued by werefairies who want to steal their memories, Bigfoot and Britney must cross the forgotten world and find a couch-jumping man called Zom Cruise, the only one who can help them find a way back to their world.

Bigfoot and Britney track Zom through a bobblehead factory, ancient ruins and the couch rodeo circuit, but the farther they go the more their memories slip away. If they don’t find Zom soon they will forget themselves and be lost in the world of the freakshows forever.

FREAKSHOWS FORGOTTEN is an upper MG novel (HAH! notes that sometimes she calls it YA, depending on the agent), and it is complete at 59,000 words. It is similar in nature to L. Frank Baum’s ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and Garth Nix’s ‘Key’s to the Kingdom’ series.

Thank you very much for your time and consideration. Sample chapters or the snarfabulous manuscript are available upon request. I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,
HAH! (Humongously Awesome Hollan)

So I've discovered an unexpected benefit of Query Ninja. MadLibbing this query just gave me an awesome idea for a short story. And no, it's not some shady poaching of Freakshows Forgotten; it has couches in it. I think there's a shortage of good couch stories in the world. So I owe an especially big debt of gratitude to HAH! for sending this one in.

Anyway. I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce a new rule of querydom. Let's call it the Church Lady Rule. Everyone remembers the Church Lady, right?

Well, isn't that special?

The Church Lady has the right idea here. Think about what makes your book special, what makes it stand out from all the other books like it. If you have a sparkly vampire love story, what's different about your book compared to all of the other sparkly vampire love stories out there? If you have a book about Big Foot and Britney on a quest, what makes it different from the thousands of pop-star-plus-random-supernatural-creature-quest books on the market?

Whatever that element is, it deserves as much space as you can give it without making your query completely nonsensical. If your distinguishing characteristic is the compelling voice of the rabid werehamster protagonist named Mr. Spunky, then sprinkle that query with phrases from Mr. Spunky's dialogue. If your plot twist in which we find out that Mr. Spunky is really a televangelist in disguise is what sets you apart from the masses, then play that element up as much as you can. Remember, the goal is not necessarily to communicate your plot in sequential order, but to catch their attention with your idea and MAKE THEM REQUEST PAGES.

This query had a lot of story elements in it, many of which were mega intriguing, but there was so much going on that I felt overwhelmed. Anyone else feel this way? I think that applying the Church Lady Rule and making it a little more focused will do a better job of highlighting the awesomeness that is your book. For me, this element was the whole idea of memories being lost. There are plenty of books in which characters journey through strange lands, and yes, I think we need a taste of the dangers they'll face there, but there's something different at stake here. Play it up!

So how would you do that without making it ridiculously long? I'd read through phrase by phrase. All the while, ask whether or not each phrase adds something essential. Does it contribute to the voice or tell something essential about the plot? Does it highlight your Church Lady element? Or can it go? In this query, phrases like "armed only with a map," "a sparkly door appears," and the "bobblehead factory, ancient ruins, and couch jumping rodeo circuit" could be cut or shortened, to name a few. Again, the question is what they add. Do we need to know they have a map to understand the basic idea? (And technically, a map isn't a weapon, so you couldn't be armed with it.) Why mention the door in the first paragraph and not bring it up again? And so on. This would make space for the massive awesomeness that is the memory stealing werefairies and the risk of Bigfoot and Britney losing themselves forever.

And personally, I would really miss Bigfoot.

Then it's time to see where you need to add more of your Church Lady element. In this query, a whole lot happens very quickly in the first paragraph, and the bit about the family forgetting Bigfoot, which is pretty essential to the story, is told very quickly. Do they forget him because he's not around, or are they "drifting away" emotionally? I'm not sure what that means. I'm also curious to know about what exactly Zom Cruise is supposed to do. Bigfoot's family has forgotten him already, so getting back to their world is only the beginning. Does Zom have the ability to return their memories so Bigfoot can go back?

So that's what I think. You've obviously got an idea that intrigues the bleep out of me, and that's rocking good. I think it's just a matter of tweaking and tightening the query to make the most out of that element. But that's enough of my yammering. What does everyone else think? Am I totally out of my mind and you disagree entirely, or did I actually say a few things that made sense? Humongously Awesome Hollan could use your feedback. And applause. She deserves a lot of that.

And may the power of the Church Lady be with you.

Oh, and one last thing: those of you who are taking the big query plunge should check out Fabulous Agent Kate's blog. She just did a week's worth of awesome query feedback, and she's smarter than me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Read 50 Books in 2009 Wrapup

Holy bleepification. I've actually finished the Read 50 Books in 2009 Challenge, courtesy of the fabulousness that is PJ Hoover. Now what will I do with my time? I might have to, like, write my own book for a change.

Actually, I've been trying not to go too fast lest I give Fabulous Agent Kate a massive coronary. But that's beside the point. Let's get to the remainder of the haiku reviews, and then we'll discuss the lessons that I learned.

The Warded Man
A guy fights demons
Using magical tattoos
Hell's angel, indeed

Emily the Strange
My high hopes were dashed
A few moments of funny
But there's not enough

Eclipse
Yes, I did love it
Like I love things that are
Funny by mistake

Midnight Nation
Now, THIS is awesome
Mondo good graphic novel
It should be a film

Reader and Raelynx
How disappointing
Is it when a series just
Peters out? Le sigh.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
It's no big surprise
That I am starring this book
I snarfed out my nose

Thus endeth the 50 Books Challenge, and lo, was it made of awesome. But seriously, I have to ask. Did anyone pick up a book that was mentioned here? I'm trying to decide if the haiku reviews are worth continuing.

As for what I learned? That's easy. I learned that I read too frigging much.

Stay tuned tomorrow for another episode of Query Ninja. Humongously Awesome Hollan has volunteered to have her query MadLibbified.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Things That Make Me Snarf - The Dark Knight and Superman

Happy Memorial Day! I'm at a picnic today, but I leave you with this week's Thing That Makes Me Snarf.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Fun with FACEinHOLE

Now that I am famous, I'm sure it's only a matter of time before I'm contacted by Hollywood to star in the film adaptation of my Twilight parody. I hope I can bring the necessary gravitas to the character of Ellba. Luckily, I look really good with my legs swathed in Saran Wrap. I checked.

I pride myself on being prepared, so I decided to get ready for the inevitable merpire photo shoots. I made this:


Create your own FACEinHOLE

Awesome, huh? And then I was struck by the bolt of inspiration. Remember how we were listing film characters that were tailor made for Richard Simmons? Now I have proof.

I give you... Richard Simmons as Rambo.


Create your own FACEinHOLE

The awesomeness is undeniable. What about Richard Simmons as Malfoy?


Create your own FACEinHOLE

Scary, ain't it? I'm rather partial to Richard Simmons as the Terminator.


Create your own FACEinHOLE

But Richard Simmons as Chewbacca made me snarf Diet Dr. Pepper out my nose.


Create your own FACEinHOLE

Wow, I'm easily amused.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

My Thank You Speech

Imagine my surprise when I received the latest newsletter from School Library Journal, and I was IN it. Underneath an awesome vampire Barbie unearthed (not literally) by Fabulous Agent Kate, no less. I'm not sure it gets any better than that. Snarfalicious supernatural creatures and librarians are two of my favorite things. If anyone knows any snarfalicious supernatural librarians, my birthday is in November.

In honor of this momentous newslettery occasion, I'd like to say a few words for posterity's sake.

I owe my success to a lot of people, some of whom are even REAL, or at least I'm pretty sure they are. But then again, I firmly believe that zombie piranha are the epitomy of kewl, so it's probably not wise to trust in my perception of reality. If you think you should be on this list and you are in fact a real person, consider yourself thanked. If you think you should be on this list but are not in fact a real person, please blow yourself up because cyborgs really creep me out.

Unless they are played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in which case they make me laugh.

Anyway, now I am feeling all important and kewl, so I think I'll need to reflect that here at The Wonder That Is My Blog. So from now on, Carrie shall refer to herself in third person.

Nah. Not impressive enough. Maybe we shall start using the royal "we" to refer to ourselves.

Booooring. How about this? From now on, I shall be known as She Who Follows Vampire Barbies (and Occasionally Librarians). Only not like a stalker. More like an admiring person who skulks a lot.

Wow, this just keeps getting worse and worse. How about you forget everything I just said and replace it with: "Holy bleep! I'm in the School Library Journal newsletter! That rocks!"

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Things That Make Me Snarf - Tai Kwon Leap

This is a long video, so I'll let it speak for itself.



Romantic, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Query Ninja - Die Tinky Winky!

For those of you that missed Da Rulz for Query Ninja, please check them out here. Otherwise, you may very well wonder if I haven't lost my mind entirely.

More entirely than usual, anyway.

And now for our first MadLibbed query, courtesy of Super-Brave Mercedes. Remember, the query is hers; most of the silly nouns are mine.

Dear Lucky Agent,

Tinky Winky is the kind of Teletubby who gets murdered. From an early age, he is forced to sidestep the bodies of other Teletubbies who fall around him, hapless victims in a land where even the very sparkly terrain cries for his blood. When Tinky Winky befriends a door-to-door eyebrow salesman, a mini hot dog juggler, and a stalker dressed like Richard Simmons, he believes that he is truly experiencing his life, not realizing that he is, in fact, hastening his own demise.

Written in a cheery, fanciful voice, my 51,000 word YA novel Die! Tinky Winky: A Novel of Murder and Whimsy is a modern day fairytale of black joy and beautiful tragedy.

I obtained my degree in Merpire Studies and General Lunacy from Carrie Harris University. I have been published in several venues, such as Snarftastic Stories, The Pansy Review, All Randomness All the Time, and I was a Really Important Award Winner. A complete list of credits can be found at tinkywinkymustdie.wordpress.com.

I chose to query you because of your interest in unique and slightly offbeat projects. Die! Tinky Winky, although technically YA with its young characters and fast pace, can easily cross over to due to its lyrical language and mature themes. Thank you for your time.

All my best,

Super-Brave Mercedes

I really think someone needs to write a book with lyrical language and mature themes about killing Teletubbies. Am I alone on this one? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

I think this is a great opportunity to talk a little about query structure, because there are a lot of different opinions on this. My philosophy is pretty simple: I write queries like I play Euchre, which means that I try to stack the deck in my favor. I'm focused on WINNING, people, and in this case, winning means getting a manuscript request.

So please keep that in mind while you read my opinions. And if we're ever playing Euchre, I suggest that you tell me not to cheat. I'll respect that.

So the first thing that I noticed about this query is that it devotes as much space to author background and marketing ideas as it does to the book itself. I would suggest reducing the background and beefing up the book related schtuff. Why? The goal of the query is simple: you want to convince an agent that you are in possession of the Teletubby Book of Awesomeness (TBA), because of course you are. You need to prove that you have a great idea and can write the Po out of it.

(Yeah, I'm back to using Teletubby names as swear words. It seemed fitting.)

I understand wanting to show a little of your personality, and listing an award or two is great. But I'd cut the rest and devote as much space as possible to showcasing the TBA, because your goal here is to MAKE THEM REQUEST PAGES! Soon you'll be talking to agents on the phone who can't wait to hear all about your degree in Merpire Studies before they make their offer to represent you. You can also talk about where to position the book in the marketplace at that time, because that's their area of expertise and they may have strong thoughts on that. I'd keep it to a minimum here.

I think devoting more space to the book would help clear up some of the confusion I'm feeling. The first line is made of awesome, but then I get a little foozled. For me, there's a bit of a disconnect between Tinky Winky is cannon fodder and everyone else starts dying. How are these facts connected? Is someone killing the friends to get to Tinky Winky? Is Tinky Winky a radioactive mutant whose very presence kills off all of his friends (in which case it's kind of understandable that he might get offed)? I think we need some hints about why Teletubbies are dropping like flies and why even the ground wants to grind Tinky Winky into kibble.

Not that I'd mind a little Teletubby murder. I wouldn't mind that AT ALL.

So we know that Teletubbies are getting murdered, and Tinky Winky meets a bunch of wackos. You've hinted that the wackos are somehow involved in Tinky Winky's demise. What does Tinky Winky do while everyone around him is croaking? Is he just trying to survive? Does he go all Rambo and try to save his friends? (Rambo Teletubby. SNARF.) What I think you’re lacking here is a statement that ties this all together and clearly defines where your story will go. It could be something like:
Tinky Winky needs help, but that requires figuring out which one of his new friends to trust.

Or…

Tinky Winky and his new friends will need to act quickly to stop the murders, but it’ll take more than eyebrows and hot dogs to stop this killer.

The idea here is to take the seemingly disparate plot elements that you’ve already brought up in the query, tie them together, and add a conflict that shows where your book will go. It's a simple way to structure a query: set the stage by describing the major characters or plot devices in a compelling voice, and then tie those elements together with the major conflict. Without that overall conflict, it feels more like a bunch of disjointed bits and less like the great story I know it is.

One last thing that stood out for me is summary phrases like "written in a cheery, fanciful voice." I think this is a good time to remember the cardinal rule of writing:

Sparkles plus supernaturally gifted stalkers equals major romance.

Er... wait a tick. That's not it.

Show, don't tell.

Read the query again. I’d argue that you’ve worked hard to showcase your fabulous, quirky voice. Do you need to tell us that it's quirky and fabulous? The list of kooky characters that Tinky Winky hooks up with (and trust me, they were kooky BEFORE I MadLibbed the La La out of them) already hints that your book is a little off-beat. I think that if you expand the summary of the book and make sure every blinking sentence continues to showcase your unique way of looking at the world, you won't need to tell us that your voice is fanciful. We'll already know. I think you're well on your way with that already.

So these are my general thoughts. What about the rest of you? Who agrees with me/disagrees with me/thinks I'm rat-in-a-coffee-can insane? And what do you think of Query Ninja? Does the MadLibbing make it tough for you to give feedback? Are we having fun yet?

And a super-big round of applause to Super-Brave Mercedes, for letting me make her query super-ridiculous and giving us the opportunity to talk a little bit about query structure. You rock.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Query Ninja - Da Rulz

Welcome to the awesomeness that is Query Ninja. (See how modest I am?) There are plenty of people out there in the webverse that are giving free query assistance, and I think it's pretty safe to say that most if not all are better qualified than me. But, and this is a big BUT, I think there's one thing that I can bring to the table that most people don't. And it's this:

Queries can be fun.

Quit laughing at me, because I'm quite serious. You argue that queries are a whole heckload of work, and this is true, but so's writing a book. And if you're crazy enough to think THAT is fun, then you're only a Froot Loop away from enjoying the wonder that is querydom. That's where Query Ninja comes in. Starting tomorrow, we're going to critique queries submitted by readers of The Wonder That Is My Blog. The first one will be from Super-Brave Mercedes (and you must refer to her by her full name if you mention her in the comments). However, in the interest of FUN, I've MadLibbed the query. The structure of the letter is the same; I didn't change sentence structure or add or remove anything. But I did replace a bunch of nouns and adjectives that describe her book and background. In other words, do not think she is insane for writing a YA book about Teletubbies, because I replaced all those words to make it silly. We're going to be critiquing the structure of the query itself and not the topic of the book.

And I know I don't have to say this, but I'm going to be thorough: laughing at queries does not translate to poking fun at the people who have put their all into writing them. In no way do I intend any insult to Super-Brave Mercedes or anyone else nutso enough to submit a query for Query Ninja. I'm just trying to have a little fun with it. Furthermore, I have never deleted a comment on this blog (except for blog spam), but I will if someone insults our Ukes (although I know you won't).

Uke = training partner in ninja-speak. So Super-Brave Mercedes will be the first Uke for Query Ninja.

And if you're not a writer? I still hope you'll read and chime in on the conversation. Writing queries uses a lot of the same skills as writing a cover letter for a resume, and that's something you'll need to do eventually unless you plan on moving to a commune and selling yak butter for a living, in which case you won't need a cover letter and could probably get away with not bathing ever again too. You can't say, "I am awesome; buy my book!" in a query; nor can you say, "I am awesome; hire me!" in a cover letter.

Well, you COULD, but I doubt anyone would actually do it.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Guaranteed Way to Warp Your Children

On occasion (okay, frequently), people ask me how I turned out the way that I did. I went from a fairly intelligent, halfway normal band geek to a lunatic writer whose random obsessions include afroed exercise gurus, superhero eyebrows, anything sparkly and/or undead, and potatoes.

Hey, I like potatoes. One year, Slayer got me a bunch of Christmas gifts with the theme Things Carrie Likes. They included a book of poetry, a calendar with dancing cats on it, sparkly lip gloss (not undead, though), and a potato. I spent days trying to figure out what that lumpy thing under the tree was.

Anyway, how did I end up like this? I did my junior high science project with one of the guys who helped build the atom bomb. (True story.) I'm a statistician, for god's sake. I've been thinking about it a lot, and finally, I think I figured it out.

My entire personality, all of it, can be traced back to one thing. I feel compelled to prepare you for this thing, because it may be emotionally scarring. Do not drink anything while looking at this thing. This thing may give you nightmares. Contact your doctor immediately if you exhibit any strange symptoms while looking at this thing.

Are you ready?

*

*

*

*



My mother did that to me. ON PURPOSE.

The teeth are bad enough, but orthodontics have been kind to me. That haircut, however, is unforgivable. It made me the woman I am today. So to all you parents out there: DO NOT give your children horrible haircuts unless you want to screw them up so badly that they accidentally run over things with the lawn mower because they are too busy making up zombie haiku. Take them to the hairdresser. You won't regret it.

Just looking at those bangs traumatizes me anew. I think I need to go lie down. Maybe I'll make up some zombie limericks this time to soothe my troubled soul.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Preliminary Merpire - You Make Me Want to Slosh

You've been waiting for it for weeks, people. That's right, it's Preliminary Merpire's first album cover, courtesy of the awesome talent that is Natalie.


You can't beat the vampire guppies, Punktuations. Don't even try. Just sit around, mope, and make air quotes with your hands in a vain attempt to make yourselves feel better.

I'll have you know that I can't even write that without laughing.

And if that's not enough, here is the latest Preliminary Merpire single. It's to be sung to the tune of this:



I Love It When You Slosh
by Preliminary Merpire

Slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh.
There's nothing you can't do with just one fin.
Nothing you can do; you're made of win.
Nothing you can say but you can play in my baby pool.
It's easy.
There's nothing you can bite that can't be bit.
I wouldn't mind that not a whit.
Nothing you can do but make me a merpire too
in time - It's easy.

I love it when you slosh, I love it when you slosh,
I love it when you slosh, slosh, slosh all over me.
Slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh, slosh.
I love it when you slosh, I love it when you slosh,
I love it when you slosh, slosh, slosh all over me.
There's nothing you can do to scare me off.
Nothing you can do but make me scoff.
Nowhere you can be without me stalking you all the time.
It's easy.

I love it when you slosh, I love it when you slosh,
I love it when you slosh, slosh, slosh all over me.
I love it when you slosh (all around me now)
I love it when you slosh (all the merpires)
I love it when you slosh, slosh, slosh all over me.

Those Punktuations are going DOWN, baby, down.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Things That Make Me Snarf - Wolverine in 30 Seconds

Here it is, the new Wolverine film in 30 seconds. And don't worry; there aren't any spoilers if you haven't seen it yet.



In other news, I shall indeed do a Query Ninja clinic. And in the interest of protecting your fabulous ideas, I shall replace every proper noun in your query. Which does indeed mean that your chick lit book about a girl finding love at a coffee shop could end up being a book about a ninja finding Richard Simmons at Denny's. Any valiant takers can email me to discuss how it would work, because I don't exactly know yet.

Looking for something to read? Try one of these babies on for size, complete with haiku reviews.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Some awesome zombies
Awesomely being awesome
And it's so awesome

In case you can't tell, I loved it. I don't care if you read YA or not, this is one awesome zombie book. It gets a big ol' star from me.

Dust of 100 Dogs
Reincarnated
Dog-slash-pirate goes hunting
To get fun booty

Dark Moon Defender
It's comfort reading
A known quantity; bring on
Another sequel

Silver Phoenix
Classic adventure
Meets mondo cool Asian myth
That makes me hungry

Legacies
Embarrassed to say
That I'm a big sci-fi geek
But have not read this

Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side
He may not sparkle
But Lucius is a total
Merpire in training

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Title of My Next Book

It was inevitable, really. I'm reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I am not permitted to consume any food or drink whilst reading said book, because I am quite sure it will come out of my nose.

Seriously. If you think I am even semi-sorta-funny, you will love this book. This book rocks the casbah of funny. It puts the "LAR" in hilarious. It gets the Gold Star of Snarfishness. Or it would if such a thing existed.

And before you ask, I am all over his next book about Lincoln the vampire hunter. I hope it's got sparkles in it.

I think this just goes to show that there are indeed no new ideas, and really the only way to stand out from the crowd is to put together two old ideas in a way that no one ever thought of before. And pretty soon, all of THOSE ideas will be used up, so then you'll have to put together THREE old ideas in order to get something sellable.

For example, you might combine the Smurfs, unicorns, and Alice in Wonderland to get Unismurfs in Wonderland.

But then, all of THOSE three-fer ideas will get used up, and you'll have to put FOUR things together. Like the Smurfs, unicorns, Alice in Wonderland, and Star Wars. And you'd end up with Unismurfs in Wookieland.

You know what's coming next. FIVE story elements: Smurfs, unicorns, Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars, and Twilight. And you'd end up with Sparkly, Brooding, and Sexy Unismurfs in Wookieland.

I'd be remiss if I forgot the ninja. So let's make it SIX story elements: Smurfs, unicorns, Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars, Twilight, and ninjas. The new title: Sparkly, Brooding, and Sexy Unismurfs with Shuriken in Wookieland.

But now my other obsession is feeling left out. SEVEN story elements: Smurfs, unicorns, Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars, Twilight, ninjas, and zombies. The new title: Sparkly, Brooding, and Sexy Unismurfs with Shuriken in Zombierific Wookieland.

Wait. One last thing. I think EIGHT is the magic number: Smurfs, unicorns, Alice in Wonderland, Star Wars, Twilight, ninjas, zombies, and (you guessed it) Richard Simmons. The final title for my best seller: Sparkly, Brooding, and Sexy Unismurf Richard Simmons Clones with Shuriken in Zombierific Wookieland.

No new ideas my ass.

Monday, May 11, 2009

NDO Alert

It's the first day back from vacation; I'm running late, and I have no ideas. Fair warning that you should expect randomness with a capital NDO today.

Ever have one of those friends that always messes up the lyrics to songs in ways so ridiculous that you suspect that are in fact joking? I had one in college. I used to teach water aerobics, which is an exercise in self-confidence. (Seriously. I'd like to see YOU standing on the edge of a pool in your bathing suit with a bunch of people staring at you while you do froggie jumps in slo-mo.) Anyway, I used to make my own tapes to use during class, because the tapes they provided were horrible. My cool down tape had Careless Whisper by Wham! on it, because I am just that kewl. One day, I heard her singing, "Guilty feelings, hot diddle diddle."

Yeah, instead of "Guilty feet have got no rhythm." It still cracks me up. Hot diddle diddle to you too!

This is the same friend who I convinced that the line to the Toto song was "I left my brains down in Africa," instead of "I guess it rains down in Africa." I guess I was showing my zombie-rific tendencies back then too.

BRAAAINS!

In other news, Best Friend and her husband, the Electric Lovitz, had their second baby this weekend, and I got to be there and help out, which is beyond kewl. My only problem is what to call the baby. Best Lovitz is probably my best bet, because Electric Friend sounds a little pervy. Anyway, congrats are due to them.

And lastly, I've been having a lot of people (well, not HORDES, but enough to make me stop and pay attention) suggest that I should run a query letter clinic here at the Wonder That Is My Blog. For those of you who don't know, I'm the Query Ninja. I wander around the cybersphere with my virtual ninja garb on, pouncing on unexpected bloggers like Aaron and KC and critiquing their queries. I actually like to write queries, and I'm a nitpicker. These two things go together like pickles and shuriken. (And actually, I'd argue that pickles and shuriken go together in the List of Things I Think Are Kewl, so that isn't a totally ludicrous remark.) I'd be happy to do one, although I think there are plenty of peeps out there who are more qualified to do this kind of thing than silly ol' me. My question is whether there are enough of you out there in Query Land who would participate-slash-benefit.

So are there?

Friday, May 8, 2009

Kinda Like Chunky Monkey But Not Really

We're back from our flash vacation. Trips with Slayer are always an exercise in memorability. Yesterday, we spent about 30 minutes driving around in circles and finally ended up at a dinner about 3 minutes from our hotel. The guy sitting directly behind me deserved the title of King Tool, but I nicknamed him Larry the Spunky Dry Cleaner instead. He spent the whole time talking about how to get girls into bed. The best part was that he couldn't see my expression, so I got to make monkey faces every time he spoke, and Slayer had to keep a straight face.

Sometimes I crack myself up. Because really, monkeys are funny. Especially monkeys named Larry the Spunky Dry Cleaner. He's a spunky little monkey.

Although it doesn't really measure up to the trip Slayer and I took to look for our first apartment. He accidentally broke in to the "high security" garage at the first place, which pretty much blew their sales pitch out the the water. The second place had mounds of police tape all over the place, because there was a murder right near our supposed apartment to be. The guy put his girlfriend in a trash can and left him on the porch. Yeah, that's the kind of place I want to live. The third place wouldn't even let us in. I think our reputation proceeded us. And the last place?

Well, I kept pushing the buzzer to get into the building, and nothing happened. So finally Slayer says, "Let me do it," because apparently this buzzer only responds to macho pushing. So he pushed the button, held it in, and got a response. So then, he starts pushing the button EVERY time he spoke, thinking it activated the speaker. Only it didn't.

Finally, the leasing guy lets us in, and immediately cuts Slayer off from the button pushing. Every time he pushed the button, a buzzer with the approximate volume of a klaxon went off in an office the approximate size of a postage stamp. Slayer probably pushed that button for about five minutes total. I'm surprised the guy's eardrums didn't leap out of his head and run for cover.

We didn't end up living at any of those places, either.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted!

I'm on vacation today! But in my absence, I leave you this absolutely awesome Thing That Makes Me Snarf. I feel compelled to warn you, however, that there are LOTS of bad words in it. But it's just so funny that I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Google-Fu Inspiration

Here's some more proof that I am not the only lunatic inhabiting this planet. Here are searches that led people to my blog in the last two weeks. Imagine what a whole year of this insanity would look like. Although I have to admit that I suspect some people (and you know who you are) are screwing around with my data. I'm a statistician, people. Screwing around with my data is a good way to get me to climb a clock tower with a squirt gun.

Filled with glitter glue.

So without further ado, here are my areas of expertise, if you trust the art of Google-Fu.
  • Silly Batman sayings
  • Baby sniffing sounds
  • Batman foot fetish
  • Sparkle vamp
  • Snoop Dogg shizzle me
  • Tadpoles is the winner
  • Girls chesticals
  • Eyebrows make me look scary
  • Hilarious things snarf
  • Ninja love parody
  • My dad is a zombie killer
  • Why teachers are like babies
  • What to say to unreasonable requests
  • Attracting weird people
  • Richard Simmons lunging
  • Shakespeare zombie stories
  • The universe loves me
  • Review of Twilight sparkle pire
  • Patrician cheekbones
  • Man snarf
  • Zombe vs warwolf games (sic)
  • Zombies sweater vest
  • Paranoia will destroy
  • Evil eyebrows
  • Nacid peepul
  • Job where people shoot chickens out of cannons at airplane windows

No, I'm not making that last one up. If you are the person who searched for that item, please leave a comment. I want to shake your hand, virtually speaking.

And here's a story using those items, because I am just that masochistic.

Once upon a time, about a week ago, Richard Simmons was lunging around his living room. He was beginning to develop a complex; a man with evil eyebrows had been following him around for the past few weeks, and Richard wanted to be sure he could protect himself if it came down to it. Luckily, the man always wore a zombie sweater vest, so he was easy to spot. That was one good thing about attracting weird people: they were always easy to spot because they were, well, WEIRD.

Still, the whole situation was interfering with Richard's mojo, and that was not a good thing. "The universe loves me; the universe loves me," chanted Richard.

Then, the Voice of the Universe boomed around him, shaking the walls and knocking the sparkle vamp painting off the mantle.

"Actually," said the Universe, "I love Shakespeare zombie stories. I like you, though."

"Well, duh. They're hilarious things. Snarf."

"Snarf indeed. Man snarf."

"Universe Dude? You make no sense whatsoever." Richard stroked his patrician cheekbones thoughtfully. "Can I ask you a question, though?"

"My eyebrows make me look scary too."

"That wasn't what I was going to ask!"

"Oh. Sorry." The Universe sounded sheepish. "Batman does have a foot fetish. Is that what you wanted to know?"

"No!"

"Well, what is it, then?" The Universe started to make sniffing sounds, like a baby. "I just can't keep up with all these unreasonable requests. I never know what to say, and I'm afraid I'm going to get fired, and then my wife is just going to nag nag nag me all the time--"

"Universe!" Richard interrupted. "Paranoia will destroy..."

"What? Paranoia will destroy what?"

"Um... I forget. I was too busy reading this review of a Twilight sparkle pire in the newspaper. I'm not sure what a pire is, but evidently it's sparkly."

"I don't know what it is either."

"Well, do you know what the bleep 'nacid peepul' is? Because I have no freaking clue."

"Me either. I'm such a failure as a universe. People are constantly writing to me and asking things. Like 'Do I suck?' or 'Why are teachers like babies?' And I never know what to say. I think I need to start looking for a new job."

"Well, Snoop Dogg shizzle me, I don't know either. Let me think." Richard lunged thoughtfully for a few minutes. Suddenly, he blinked. "I know! My dad is a zombie killer. You might be good at that."

"Nuh uh. The smell of rotting flesh makes me gag. I'm a failure!" the Universe wailed.

"Don't be silly!" chirped Richard, his desire to motivate people kicking in. "There are a million jobs you could do. You could write silly Batman sayings! Measure girls chesticals for brassieres. Write ninja love parodies. Or zombe vs warwolf games."

"What's that?"

"I dunno, but the world really needs one."

"I guess..."

"Or maybe... YES! I've got it!" Richard lunged triumphantly. "You could get a job shooting chickens out of cannons at airplane windows."

"You know; you're right!"

Richard grabbed his lucky tadpole off the dining room table and took it for a victory lap. Of lunges. "Tadpoles! Tadpoles is the winner!"

The Universe said, "I quit! It's airplane windoes and chickens from here on out!"

And then everything winked out of existence.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Ramrod Versus Demons

I've been doing a little reading on demonology for my latest book. And really, when you're learning about supernatural creatures, there's one question you've got to ask yourself: How would I protect myself if a bunch of these freakos invaded my house?

For example, our Merpire Invasion Plan (MIP!) is fairly simple. I grab the kids while Slayer stakes the merpires with frozen fishsticks. Our Vampire Invasion Plan (VIP!) is just as easy: I grab the kids while Slayer impales the bloodsuckers with a lawn flamingo.

I'm actually a little upset about these plans, because Slayer gets to do all the fun stuff. But I figure he'll let me have a little flamingo-slash-fishstick action once the real danger is over and done with, so I guess that's okay.

But I've run into a problem re: demons. Because when one is fighting a demon, it's handy to have a holy object, right? And the only holy object I own is Ramrod the Holy Toaster.

This is a problem.

See, I'm totally safe when it comes to an attack by demonic Pop Tarts. I'm your girl when the Evil Bread comes to take your soul. Beezelbub's Bagels aren't frightening to me; I'll toast the bleep out of them. But when it comes to an attack of the non-grain-based demons, I'm kind of in trouble. I guess I could throw Ramrod at them. I could swing him around by his cord and use him as a holy, crumb-covered flail.

But that would probably crush Ramrod, and then what would I do if a Luciferian Eggo attacked?

Monday, May 4, 2009

Things That Make Me Snarf - Young Girl Talking About Herself

I think the funniest thing about this video is that I should be in it. Except I'm not so young. However, I feel compelled to point out that the last time I went rollerskating, they refused to return my shoes until my mom got there. I was in my late twenties.

Yeah, Slayer will never let me live that down.



This video makes me think of a problem I've got. A serious problem. See, I occasionally do freelance work that does not involve zombies, ninjas, or Richard Simmons (oh my!). Don't believe me? I helped discover a new disease. Go me! I even understand what the article says, which is good because I helped write it.

Anyway. I've noticed a disturbing trend in my technical writing lately. It looks something like this:

Histopathological and immunohistochemical analyses revealed that the brain (BRAAAAINS!) samples all carry a distinct lesion profile, that's like totally different from that previously described in the literature. OMG. If you squint at the slides just right, they totally look like Zom Cruise (See Figure 1).

Although really? Now that I think about it, all scientific journals should publish in that style of writing. People might actually read them.

Speaking of reading, want to read some of my fiction? My story Nosferatu and the Nancy Boys is now available at Flashes in the Dark. And yes, it has sparkly vampires in it. (Obligatory warning: story is rated PG-13 for violence. It's sparkly violence, but it's still violence.)

Sparkle sparkle sparkle.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Twilight Parody - Fishman to the Rescue

It's time for more Twilight parody. Because really, forget world peace, financial stability, and new music by Michael Jackson; what the world needs more than anything right now is MORE TWILIGHT PARODY.

I'm just sayin.

Twilight parody edition 8: Fishman to the Rescue
Ward got out of the car and walked around to open Ellba's door like the part-piscine gentleman he truly was. She followed him up the puddle-strewn walk toward Spork High School, Home of the Fighting Utensils. As she reached the front step, her vision faded to sudden blackness, and she collapsed into Ward's hard, fishy arms.

"What happened?" said New Miketon, dashing over and shooting a nasty look at Ward. His thumb was still heavily bandaged from when they thumb wrestled over Ellba, and he was holding a grudge over it.

"I think it's a sudden narcoleptic fit," replied Ward, worry creasing his beautiful face. "Either she's really sick or has fallen victim to another damned flashback. Forget the swine flu; they need to make an anti-flashback vaccine."

New rolled his eyes but helped Ward carry Ellba into the nurse's office. Ellba didn't notice. She was too busy flashing back.

It was raining in town, but Ellba didn't mind. She'd ditched Chessica at the dress shop so she could go to do some in-depth research at the comic book store. Unfortunately, they'd just sold their last copy of The Fishman: Preludes and Fishsticks.

Oh well.

She slogged through puddles lit from above by the streetlights. Their beauty captured her attention and made her breathless. They reminded her of Ward.

Slosh slosh slosh, sparkle sparkle sparkle, she thought.

She was so busy staring at the puddles that she didn't notice the gang of young toughs fanning out to surround her on the dimly lit and secluded street.

"Hey, sugar," one of them said, a menacing leer on his face.

"I was just looking at the puddles," she said. "Do you mind?"

"I was just going to ravage you," he replied. "Do you mind?"

She had a moment to be frightened, one moment where he stepped closer, beer-soaked breath bathing her face. And then a large carp smacked him on the side of the head.

"Leave her alone," said Ward, his eyes glinting dangerously. He hefted the carp and brandished it at them. "Or I'll hit you again."

Five pairs of eyes flicked from the fish to the merpire and back again. Something about the way he stood there, the way he handled the fish like he knew how to use it, frightened them. They scattered, fleeing for their lives.

"Distract me," said Ward, taking an unwitting step as if to follow.

"What?"

"Distract me, or I'll go out there and bludgeon them to death with this bottom-feeder." He turned to her, white-faced. "Please. You don't know what they were thinking."

"They were probably thinking that I smell like meatballs," she replied primly. "I've heard that once or twice before."
 


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