Sunday, September 30, 2007

Attack of the Carnies, part 1 or Purrburrs and Tooth Decay

So there are two rides set up already for the county fair.

I work at a little neighborhood bar called the Fairview Inn. There's a lot of tradition involved in the place--it was established the day Prohibition ended, before that it was an old-fashioned mom and pop grocery store, the coolers behind the bar are the original mahogany glass-front cabinets that held the perishables and 'the stick' that we bartenders use as a weapon of last (or in my case first) resort came from the cop who walked the beat on this street on the first legal drinking day. He'd used the billy club numerous times when busting the illegal still in the cellar, and thought that it would be an appropriate gift to the no-longer-in-danger-of-being-arrested-owner.

Yep. Decades of DNA.

At any rate, one of the charms of the Fairview Inn is the view of the fair. (Sorry--just had to do it) The fairgrounds are across the street. It's a meticulously preserved turn-of-the-century fairgrounds, complete with grandstands and livestock barns and fabulous little green cupolas atop whitewashed wooden buildings. Just behind the fairgrounds is 'Mount Pleasant.' Coming from a state with REAL mountains, this particular hunk of rock seems more like a hill to me than a mountain. But, *shrug* that's what the locals call it.

So work last night was very busy. Not only was there an Ohio State football game on TV but the carnies are starting to trickle in for this, their last scheduled stop of the season.

Now I can spot a carnie from a mile away. It's almost like the childcatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. A whole group of them came in at around 1 a.m.

How do I know they are carnies you ask?


First, the mullet. Not just guy mullets, mind you, but girl mullets.

Second, they always enter the bar like they're sneaking into a private club.

Third, I had to remind them ad nauseam that Ohio has banned smoking in all public places.

Fourth, significant dental issues en masse.

And fifth, they were wearing shirts with their company logo.

Let me recreate the scene for you:

The group stood in a huddle near the door, looking around with trepidation at the drunken Ohio State fans lurching about the room. After a moment's conference, they designated one poor soul to approach the bartender (who was cranky.)

"Miss, have you already called last call?"

*my internal dialogue---what an idiot! who in their right mind would call me a miss???*

"No, sir. We're open until 2:30. What can I get for you?"

"I need three purrburrs and a jack."

"Three what?" *my internal dialogue--I must not have heard that right.*


Now, as a cat lover I get a strange mental picture when confronted by the term 'purrburr.' What is a purrburr? How does one find a purrburr? Does a purrburr hurt? And, even beyond that, is it possible for a bar to provide a purrburr? I was mightily confused.

"Um...a purrburr? Is that a shot?" *my internal dialogue--I'll just make something up. They'll never know*

The carnie laughed at me. I noticed when he did so that he was missing a significant number of teeth. "A purrburr is a beer."

A beer. I pride myself on being fairly up-to-date on the latest ale trends. This was totally new to me. So, I made a judgement call.

"Sir, I don't think we have Purrburr beer." *my internal dialogue--is it still a freaking full moon or something?*

The carnie lifted one long arm and pointed at the antique glass-front coolers with a grease-stained finger. "What are you talking about? There's a whole row of them right there."

When I turned to see what he was staring at, I nearly lost it. A 'purrbuur' is a Pabst Blue Ribbon, or, as people with full sets of teeth pronounce it--pee bee are. I pulled out the three beers meekly and then nearly ran for the bottle of Jack Daniels. If I were incorrect and the 'jack' he wanted wasn't whiskey, I'd have to run out to the car and get the tire jack out of the trunk.

*my internal dialogue--damn all carnies!*

Carnies 1, Celina 0.

But it ain't over yet. I'll win this war--I swear it!

Saturday, September 29, 2007


Oh my gosh! It's THAT time of year again.

Yep. The carnies are coming.

Last year, you guys got to hear a lot about the carnies. Carnies are probably the only fringe benefit involved at the bar where I work, which is conveniently located across the street from the city Fairgrounds. (hence the name--the Fairview) Last year, the onslaught of the carnies was chronicled in detail by me and if you look at the post for October, 2006 you can see how the battles went.

The fair in Lancaster is the last fair of the year. Most of the carnies leave here and go off to their winter bases in Florida, their campers bouncing behind their trunks. But since this IS the last county fair we get the creme de la creme of the carnies. It's a very busy week.

The fair starts October 7. Last night I ran by the bar to drop a few things off and noticed THAT THE FIRST CARNIES ARE ALREADY HERE.

What is this? Some sort of insidious sneak attack? I have the feeling that the carnies are plotting against me. The necklace of garlic cloves seemed to work last year; maybe this year I should try something stronger. Oh, well. The busiest week of the year at the Fairview is a week away. Monday and Tuesday of this week will see most of the carnies showing up. And in the end, I'm not sure which is scarier: the carnies or the people of the area who come to the Fairview to WATCH the carnies like they're in some sort of zoo.

I think I like the carnies better.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Mscelina's Lexicon of Rules For Young Writers

I've been running into a lot of young writers on the web lately and I've noticed an interesting trend. Back when I was a kid...

okay. shut up. Quit snickering.

... I didn't know of ANY people my age who locked themselves in their rooms to write. My writing was always kind of hush-hush (unless it was a contest) because the 'weird' label is one a high school girl doesn't want to attract. While all of the other kids were running the streets and wreaking havoc, I was pounding away on an old manual typewriter churning out horrible stories and dreaming of becoming a 'real' author.

Now it's not so unusual to find kids who are already published before they even go to college. What in the heck happened? Neither of my girls are huge on writing, although they both are voracious readers so I can't attribute this trend to some sort of strange contagion. I personally know of a fourteen year old who is giving out grammar advice on a major writers' forum.

So when did writing become cool?

Once upon a time, the only kids that wrote poetry with Goth kids who transcribed their social alienation into escapist art. I was an oddity for producing a full-length manuscript at 17 and a full-length play at 22. I mean, sure--I can see getting a short story or a poem published in a literary magazine run by an educational organization but these kids are ambitious and driven and are pushing themselves to succeed despite all of the conventional wisdom that tells them they are too young.

So, in honor of that, welcome to mscelina's lexicon of rules for young writers.

(1) Those people that tell you you're too young are WRONG. You're not too young.

(2) However, there is a lot of truth to the concept that you need life experiences in order to write compelling, realistic fiction. Live a lot. By that, I mean that a good writer is a good observer. You may not have experienced enough in your day-to-day life to write about a realistic situation BUT if you are a good observer you can learn a lot. For example: the cafeteria lady is obviously having a bad day. How do you know? Her eyes are red-rimmed, she's slamming food onto the tray, she's not maintaining eye contact with anyone. What else do you see about her? What other clues can you find to let you know how she's feeling?

(3) You can never read too much. And you know all those classics of literature they force you to read in English class? DO NOT get the Cliff's notes. READ them. Regardless of how boring they are (and I believe you they are--I still can't abide Hemingway) they will teach you as much or more about the inner workings of a story, about how to develop a character, and how to resolve conflicts. Reading good books--and lots of them--is your training ground.

(4) Grammar is your friend. Yep, all those pesky dangling participles and split infinitives are a pain in the wazoo, but do you want to end up like me? I'm still fighting my comma addiction. Don't let grammar slip through your fingertips. JUST SAY NO.

(5) Read your stories aloud. You'd be surprized how much you can find out about your writing just by HEARING it.

(6) So your friends think you're weird for writing? Screw 'em.

(7) Learn to take criticism. One of the natures of this beastly business is that everyone is a critic--and everyone gets criticized. Accept the fact that there are people who know a hell of a lot more than you and consider what they tell you. And yes...I have to remind myself of this one every day. This piece of advice works for adult writers as well as it does for young ones.

(8) Get used to rejection. We ALL get rejected. Some of us get rejected more than others. It's not get you. Every rejection, however, is a stepping stone on the path to acceptance. Once you start getting personalized rejection letters you'll know you're getting close.

(9) There's no such thing as a perfect first draft. It doesn't matter who are you, you have to rewrite. This is the one that stalled me out for over a decade. And your primary editor is YOU. Don't rely on other people to do that for you. Critique boards are nice, but you should already have rewritten anything you submit to a crit board once or twice before you allow anyone else to look at it.

(10) Omniscience is boring--and irritating. Especially self-proclaimed omniscience. Writing is a business as much as it is a craft. You DON'T know everything. You actually don't know anything. Accept that and move on. Research everything. Ask questions. Learn--as all writers learn--and store that knowledge to help you along the path.

(11) And finally, a writer's life is a lonely life. For a portion of each day, you must immerse yourself in a world that no one else can share. Solitude is your friend. Make it your ally as well.

Personally, I'm very encouraged by the sheer volume of young writers I'm running into. I think it's a great trend, particularly in a world where the arts are being downplayed in favor of the sciences. Keep writing--write something every day--and keep dreaming those great dreams. Young writers now have tools available to them that a generation earlier would have killed for. It's a world where reading is once again fashionable for our adolescents (oh thankyouthankyouthankyou JK Rowling!) and as a result writing is as well. Don't get discouraged.

Oh, and go out and buy my book. Just kidding. It was the only way I could think of to insert another shameless plug for The Reckoning of Asphodel (available now at without looking like an idiot. *grin*


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Another Day of Internet Activity

Back on the promo bandwagon again! It's not as if I have anything else to do, save for lying here and staring at the ceiling or watching REALLY bad TV. The husband is out of town on a business trip, the brat is 'at work'...or whatever qualifies as that in this day and age...and it's just me, the cats, and Google search.

If I make it through all this and actually gain some measure of success, I'm going to write a book for the rest of you debut writers and make my fortune. Then I can buy a house in the woods and kill some more Elves.

That is the goal, after all.

I did start a new story last night. Originally, I thought it was going to be a short story but now it's starting to look like *SHOCK!* another novel. *sigh* Why can't I write SHORT for god's sake? Is it because as I go along, I keep jotting down more plot information and then realize I can't possibly implement all of it under 90K words? And I'll thank you all not to mention the words 'verbose', 'windy', or 'idiot' thank you very much.

What makes this new story interesting is that it has all the hallmarks of dark urban fantasy which is normally NOT my forte. We shall see if I can get rolling on it.

Asphodel 2 rewrites are over halfway done. I expect to have them finished within two weeks, which will help me reach my self-proclaimed deadline. Darkshifters is stalled--I have to decide the final culmination of the plot. My original intention won't work.


Oh well! Back to the grind! If you get a minute, go check out Fantasy Book Spot. The owner Damon left a very nice comment on my previous post and his website is kick-ass. There are a lot of great reviews and the site is well-organized and fun to cruise around. Good forums too.


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Trolling, trolling, trolling...

Okay, since my latest little procedure on my back will keep me prone for three days, I've been spending my time scouring the web for fantasy novel review sites.

Do you know how annoying that is?

Any time I find one, I have to research it. Is it a scam site? How are their reviews? Are they are FABULOUS books or all they all HORRIBLE books? Which ones carry crediblity? Which ones are a front for people looking to resell ARCs or e-books after they 'review' your novel?

How irritating! I've probably looked at well over two hundred sites and have only submitted Asphodel to fifteen of them. Granted, some of them don't accept e-pubs or small press. Almost all of them have expressed a serioius disdain for vanity published or PODs. And a few don't even have guidelines for submission.

Anyone out there have any ideas? Suggestions? Valium? *anybody want to write me a nice raving little plug that I can use instead?*

I'm hoping that eventually this will all pay off. I already received one review request and my fingers are getting crossed. Now I'll see if I can get ANY of my medicine to work so I can get some sleep.

Another odd note: I was so distracted (euphemism for drugged with anesthesia) that I watched Manchester United play Chelsea in soccer (sorry, Brits--football) this afternoon. Interesting game.

But I still like American football better. Oh well! Back to trolling.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Wow, I missed you guys!

So, my laptop blew up.

This is the second one in a year that bit the big one on me, but THIS one was under warranty. So I take it and its blue crash screen that read "IRQL not equal" to the nearest service provider. He kept it a week and returned it 'running just fine.'

Until I was on the internet for ten minutes and it crashed again. With the same IRQL message. So, back it went.

I think Toshiba will be buying my a new laptop. *sigh*

At any rate, Asphodel was doing great in sales for a while. It did hit number one at Fictionwise, and how cool is it to be able to say "number one bestseller in Fantasy at!"

You're right, way cool. My second wave of promotion starts this week so we'll see how that goes.

Tomorrow I'm chatting all day at LoveRomances E-Cafe. The owner, Dawn Roberto, is a great friend of mine and a fabulous writer in her own right. It should be fun, and I should be giving some stuff away....hmmm.....

I'll blog more later. You guys have fun.