So as usual I was skulking around the What The Fuck Was That Editor Smoking? blog and read the post on writer’s conferences where the suggestion of Simon Cowell creating a show where people would pitch or submit their writing for review was postulated.
So I got to thinking…in my deeply dark and disturbed (and alliterated) way; what might those submissions look like? Just how bad would something have to be to spray Cowell-esque brain matter across the page? Well I submit for your enjoyment:
A LIST OF SIMON COWELL’S WORST NIGHTMARE SUBMISSIONS:
Advice on Writing Young Adult Novels:
- Write Y.A. – How Hard Can It Be?
- More Sarcasm, Please
- “Like” – The New “Aloha”: A Guide to Writing Convincing Teen Dialogue
- Every Gal Needs A Sassy Gay Friend!—Your Guide to Writing Believable Foils
Advice on Writing Books for Children:
- Ideas Are Everywhere! Plot Templates from the Good People at MadLibs.
- Know Your Market: Observations from Behind the Swing Set
- Burp, Fart, and Puke—101 Essential Kid’s Book Chestnuts
- One Illustrator’s Dream is Another’s Sweatshop: The Dark Side of Elementary School Art Class.
Advice on Writing Romance:
- Why it’s Not Rape: A Writer’s Guide to Romantic Overtures: Forward by Stephanie Meyer
- So Your Heroine’s a Serf?—Tips on Making Indentured Servitude Sexy
- What Matters is that YOU like it, dear: How Your Mom Can Get You Published.
- Creative, Interesting, and Fine: Your Guide to Passive-Aggressive Critiquing.
- One Step Too Far – Career Advice from a Fan Fiction Slash Writer
- When No means No
- Write Your Own Restraining Order: The Five Boroughs Edition
- Walking a Fine Line: When Research Becomes Stalking
- Copyright Now!—How Agent’s REALLY Make Their Money
- Say It With Adverbs!
- Bad Prose and the Writers Who Love It
- How to Write a Revision-Free First Draft
- No one actually reads Hemingway, so what’s the harm?–Playing the Odds of Plagarism
- The Magic, The Mystery, The Muse: Ke$ha – A Collection of “Haiku-like” Poetry
- Every Line Needs to Rhyme: This and Other Poetry Secrets the Publishing Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know
One of the perks of having a blog is that no one gets to see you. Recently I’ve discovered that quite a few people think I’m a dude. Nope. I’m a chick.
Don’t feel bad if you were one of those people. I think it’s awesome. My kids call me “Tinkerbell in biker boots” since I’m only 4’11″ but can tune a carburetor. So far I’m liking the perceived testosterone. Now I’ll tell you why.
When I was about eight years-old I had a living, breathing Barbie Doll for a baby sitter. Michelle was thirteen but could easy pull off twenty. Besides being tall, blonde and leggy she was, and to this day still is, the sweetest person I’ve ever met. AND on top of all that she was already well on her way to becoming a prima ballerina.
Michelle’s mother, a former Russian ballerina herself, ran her own dance studio. My broke ass family couldn’t afford lessons so everyday after school Michelle would spend hours teaching me how to dance. It took a while but eventually I got pretty good. By the time I was thirteen all I wanted was to be a ballerina like Michelle. Before she left home for dance school Michelle begged her mother to let me into one of the studio’s dance programs for free, saying I had what it took to be a ballerina like her. Her mother said she’d only let me in after she saw me dance.
So I danced while Michelle and her mother watched. To this day I remember Michelle’s face clearly, smiling as I danced, impressed with the skills she taught me. When I was finished Michelle whispered in my ear that my performance was the best she’d ever seen. Michelle’s mother said something else. “Yes dahling, you are perfectly lovely. Just like a Barbie Doll. Well…not a Barbie doll, you are like one of those dolls your government forces its companies to produce for dark-haired children that no one really wants. Your eyes are too big for your head. Too distracting. Your teets are too big, your ass is too big, everything else…(looks me over)…too small. For these reasons and more, you will never be a dancer.”
Yes, I’m paraphrasing but it was damn close; especially the crack about the eyes. That moment set me on the path the rest of my life would follow. A path that led to motorcycles and tattooed boys and rock music. Then something strange happened. I wrote a book.
A book about motorcycles and tattooed boys and rock music (I did throw a ballerina in there who, now that I think of it, suspiciously resembles Michelle). You know what happened? Instead of a Russian dance instructor my ears rang with the voices of critique group members. “Yes dahling, your writing is perfectly lovely. But unless you throw in a vampire or make your protagonist a teenage girl no one will publish your novel. EVER.”
Once again I had a choice to make; believe in myself and what I knew I wanted to accomplish or cave and write a novel that the “experts” believed the market would accept. The sad truth is that the critique group is right. If I don’t write to what the market wants I won’t get published. No hard feelings, Big Six. I completely understand. But that’s not why I write.
I write because I’ve spent my life surrounded by broke ass kids just like me. And no one writes books for us. Because we’re not the book buying public. Because we’re broke. So yeah, I get it. But I wrote the book anyway. For her. The daughter who looks just like me. The one who refused to be a ballerina for Halloween and demanded to be a pirate instead. And I let her.
A Conversation with my mother the day I told her I finished my novel.
ME: “Well Mom, it’s done. I finally finished it.”
MOM: “Finished what?”
ME: “Uh…my novel. The one I’ve been working on for the past year. Yeah, it’s done.”
MOM: “I had no idea you were writing a book! What is it about?”
ME: (sighs) “It’s a young adult novel about a teenager named Sawyer Hayden who–”
MOM: “Sawyer? Oh I don’t like that name.”
ME: ”Well it’s too late to change it now. ANYWAY…he wants a basketball scholarship so he–”
MOM: “Basketball? But you don’t play basketball! And why are you writing about boys anyway? You’re a woman who lives in New Hampshire! I know what you should do. Join a writing group and try to make friends with that woman writer there…
ME: Please don’t say Jodi Picoult.
MOM: …the one who writes all those nice cancer books. You know who I mean.”
ME: (sigh 2x) “Her name’s Jodi Picoult, mom.”
MOM: “No, that’s not it. Well, whoever she is I hear her books are very popular.”
ME: “FINE! WHATEVER! JUST LISTEN!” (deep breath) “In my book Sawyer asks his brother River to help–”
MOM: “RIVER? Oh I don’t like that name either. Why did you pick such ugly American names? With so many nice names in our family to choose from you–”
ME: “HOW ABOUT RAPHAEL? THAT’S WHAT I NAMED THE DAD SO HOW ABOUT THAT!”
MOM: “Finally a name I like! It’s about time you remembered you’re Italian.”
ME: “Ok…but just so you know, I made the dad Spanish.”
MOM: (appalled) “NOW WHY DID YOU DO THAT?! WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST MAKE HIM ITALIAN? HOW AM I GOING TO TELL THE FAMILY IN ITALY THAT MY DAUGHTER WROTE A BOOK ABOUT SPANIARDS AND NOT ITALIANS?!”
ME: “I’M IRISH TOO, MOM! WHY DON’T I JUST MAKE HIM IRISH LIKE MY DAD, HUH? HOW’S THAT SOUND?”
MOM: “Spanish is fine.”
ME: “CAN WE FOCUS NOW? PLEASE?!”
MOM: “Yes, yes. Continue.”
ME: (sighs, molto frustrato) “So SAWYER leaves his father and moves to Nebraska–”
MOM: Bites lip.
ME: “NOW what’s wrong?”
MOM: “Well…why does he have to live in Nebraska? It’s a land locked state.”
ME: (rubbing temples) “What does Nebraska being a land locked state have to do with anything?”
MOM: “I don’t trust the seafood in land locked states. It’s too expensive. What you’re really paying for is the truck to have it delivered. They don’t fool me.”
ME: “Fine. You know what? I’ll change it to a coastal state–”
MOM: “OOH! You should make it Hawaii! I’ve always wanted to go there. You know they filmed that show LOST in Hawaii. But then you couldn’t use the name Sawyer. Hey! Now you can change that too! I always liked that doctor Jack–”
ME: “MOM! It can’t be Hawaii because Raphael is a long haul truck driver and that’s how Sawyer gets to Nebraska to live with his grandfather so he can get a basketball scholarship.”
MOM: “Well why does he even need a scholarship? With the price of seafood nowadays the father should have no problem paying for–”
ME: “You know what? Forget it. I didn’t write a book. I made a quilt.”
MOM: “Oh don’t be so sensitive. Tell me what the grandfather’s name is. Something good I hope.”
MOM: (flinches, thinks and then says) “So SAYWER leaves a man named RAPHAEL to live with a man named GUS?”
ME: “Yes but mom, Gus is awesome. He’s a biker and a southern rock roadie with…bad…ass…tattoos…”
MOM: (near tears) “What happened to my dainty daughter who used to love to read books and write stories and listen to music?!”
ME: “She changed her name to Sawyer.”
I must have been high when I wrote it because there’s no other explanation I can give for my 123,000 word upper YA novel where the only noun I used more than “boner” was “blood.” It goes without saying that I’m self-published. I didn’t even try to submit it traditionally. Can you just imagine the poor agent who gets my query letter?
“My novel, THE GODS OF ASPHALT is complete at 123,000 words and is the first in a series of five books that for some reason I’ve decided to write out-of-order. Each one is told from the point of view of a teenage male protagonist who has exactly zero supernatural powers (unless you consider perpetual erections a superpower). Oh, and it also has Spanish subtitles.”
On the good side, if you’re like me and are just a little too into music, motorcycles and all around badassery this is the book for you. If you’re not, I’m sure Jodi Picoult’s got a blog somewhere. You can find the opening to chapter one at the top of the page under the tab “Book One” and you can find my book on line at: