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Archive for April, 2010

Photo Courtesy of Rubberball Photos

Getting published sucks…or at least it seems that way.

So, many times over I have submitted, been rejected, submitted, been rejected, submitted again, been rejected again, then submitted once more and…WE LIKE YOU! SEND US MORE!

Yay! Now I wait, wait and wait some more…then, finally, in a flurry of excitement (and extreme nausea) I hold the returned manuscript in my hands (or behold the response in my e-mail).  Despite all of the fantastical, fabulous responses you and I have dreamed of and conceived, there will only ever be two responses at this point:

1. You suck. Your manuscript sucks. We hate you. We hope you die.

2. OMG. BEST. BOOK. EVER. WE WANT YOU. NOW.

Of course these are exaggerated (for everyone else that is, for me, this is exactly what happens). However, at their essence, this is what happens. Agencies receive such a gluttony of responses and material that once it has made a decision, the decision will be quick, precise and generally to the point. E.g., they will not waste time in the letter. You will either be told A. We want to represent you or B. Unfortunately, it is not for us.

As cruel as it may seem, do not fool yourself. If it is any response other than acceptance, the agency did not like it. Instead of believing what they write you and reading too far into it, ask yourself “Why didn’t they like me/my manuscript/my idea?” Now, don’t do this in a fling of self-pity, despair or drunkeness. That will get you nowhere. Instead, wait a couple of days or even a week (that is what I try to do), then give yourself and your manuscript a thorough self-examination to learn from your failure.  Or better still, politely and professionally ask the agent.

“But Mr. Rogue Imagineer! You said never to contact them after you’re rejected!”

True. But that was for a simple query/partial submission and rejection. If you have been asked for a manuscript and then get subsequently rejected, you have FAR more rights and capabilities than before. At this level, you DESERVE an explanation as to why they didn’t like you and/or your manuscript. I mean specifics too.

Now, most PROFESSIONAL agents/agencies will give you this information in the rejection letter. “Your novel had a strong voice, great exposition and interesting characters, but unfortunately the flow of the plot, specifically in the first half of the novel, and the tone of the novel were not as well developed as we were hoping for.”

This is a good thing. This gives you (and me) something to work with as well as explaining why the agency essentially wasted the last 2-3 months of your life (especially considering that more and more agencies are requiring exclusivity when considering manuscripts, a practice I believe should be done away with, but that is just my opinion). Take this information, ask some professionals or peers around you to analyze your work for these issues, then consider revising the manuscript.

However, situations arise where the agency does not send an explanation, or even a reply. If the agency did not send an explanation, send a polite and succint e-mail asking for one from the agent his/herself or call the agency directly (again, calm, polite and professional is key). If the agency sent no response at all (e.g. they still have your manuscript and the quoted period has passed), then call (DON’T E-MAIL) and politely ask for a status update from the agent him/herself. If you cannot get an update, cannot get through to the agency, and/or are getting the “run-around”, then do some research about the agency. A good source is a fabulous website called Preditors and Editors.com (http://www.pred-ed.com)

This website’s goal is to assist and protect new authors and writers from predatory agents/agencies and expose the ugly side of the publishing world, a side some want to stay buried. The site is so accurate and so cited, that the website and its owners have been hit with legal action as an attempt to keep these practices under wraps. However, the website also highlights agents/agencies/editors that are known to be helpful, professional and serious about what they do, not to mention ethical. If you have not received a response at all and have tried to recitfy the communication issue, then consider researching this website to see if your agent/editor has been classified as predatory. If they have, immediately contact them and demand your manuscript be returned (by law they either have to return or destroy it, any other action is considered a possible copyright violation). You may or may not get a response from this, but either way, make sure you document the request. It could be vital to protecting yourself.

By chance, though, if the agency has not been reported to Preditors & Editors, then consider reporting them so that future writers (and even publishers) are not taken by them. This is an unfortunate step, but one that is becoming all too common during the representation process.

Negatives notwithstanding, ultimately, getting your manuscript should be an exciting process regardless of the response. Rejoice if accepted, learn if rejected. Either way, you win. It just depends on the way you look at it.

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Photo Courtesy of Hitfix.com

Long held have been the rumors of a new Alien movie, with speculation flying as to what the film would be about and perhaps more interestingly, when the film would take place. However, it was not until today that Ridley Scott announced he would once again helm the franchise that launched his Oscar-laden career and bring forth from Hollywood the only respectable Alien film since James Cameron’s Aliens. Let the drooling begin…

During a press junket today promoting his new film “Robin Hood”, Ridley Scott finally confirmed and released the first set of official details surrounding the new film, which he confirms will indeed be a prequel set 30 years before the Nostromo crew ever landed on LV-426:

“It’s set in 2085, about 30 years before Sigourney [Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley]. It’s fundamentally about going out to find out ‘Who the hell was that Space Jockey?’ The guy who was sitting in the chair in the alien vehicle — there was a giant fellow sitting in a seat on what looked to be either a piece of technology or an astronomer’s chair … Our man [Tom Skerritt as Captain Dallas] climbs up and says “There’s been an explosion in his chest from the inside out — what was that?” I’m basically explaining who that Space Jockey — we call him the Space Jockey — I’m explaining who the space jockeys were … [The film] is about the discussion of terraforming — taking planets and planetoids and balls of earth and trying to terraform, seed them with the possibilities of future life.”
The geek inside of me just jizzed in his pants. Of course, the rumors concerning the possible space jockey storyline have been bouncing around the internet since Scott first mentioned the prequel about a year ago in a comment made at the San Diego Comic-Con. That news is practically prehistoric now, and if what Scott is saying is true, then the possibility of the Alien prequel beginning to shoot before the year is out is looking like an excellent possibility, if not a downright certainty.

Photo Courtesy of Hitfix.com

It’s good to hear that the creator is returning to his creation, but Scott didn’t stop there, he apparently has been in talks with original Alien designer H.R. Giger to come up with something different, sighting that while the now iconic Xenomorph is the original, “The alien in a sense, as a shape, is worn out.” I would have to agree. The Xenomorph does not hold the terror it once held purely out of exhaustion of the creature (4 films, 2 AVP films, countless video games, comics, etc.).  But a new alien? Can it be that will not see the beloved and feared Xenomorph in Scott’s new film?

Possibly. But with Scott at the helm and Giger at the drawing board, it seems the dream team is back. The biggest hurdle? Inserting an organic twist into the prequel that matches the genius of the Ash storyline. If Scott can pull that off, he may just reboot the franchise for generations to come. If not, then the only thing audiences will be saying is:”Game over man, Game over”.

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Photo Courtesy of ABC Television

Back in 2006, a color-saturated comedy struck the newly HD crazy television screen of the western world. The show, based on a decades old, wildly successful telenovella that had been reproduced several times over in Spanish-speaking countries across the globe, premiered on ABC as part of their response to the Thursday night crime drama domination sucking in ratings at CBS. The show featured a cast of relatively unknowns, with its only anchor coming in the form of bad guy super vixen Wilhelmina Slater, played by Vanessa Williams. Its premise: a young, optimistic Latino woman from Queens applies for a position at communications behemoth Meade Publications only to be thrust into the volatile and cut-throat world of high-fashion at the masochistic, vogue-esque Mode magazine. Chaos, day-saving, underdog inspirational fun ensued.

© ABC Television

The show? The same name it was given across the world: UGLY BETTY.  Of course, the titular title was part of the appeal of the show as “Ugly” Betty was actually the only beautiful person out of the lot of self-absorbed, self-medicating characters inhabiting the circular walls of Mode magazine. To put it mildly, the show was a raging success. Appealing across demographics due to its quick editing, vibrant production design and underdog story of success. Not to mention the show had some of the best original characters seen on television in years, the best of which were not even the main characters. Every single episode of the wildly popular season 1 and season 2 was stolen by the imposing evil mastermind Wilhelmina Slater (Vanessa Williams), her brown-nosing, flamboyant assistant Marc St. James (Michael Urie) and his resident bestie, receptionist Amanda Tannen (Becki Newton). This trio brought the lines and the laughs of almost every episode. Flank them sporadically with the hysterically drunk mother of the Meade empire Claire Meade (Judith Light) and Scottish seamstress/closet manager Christina McKinney (Ashley Jensen), and the show was a comedic, melodramatic juggernaut that at the time seemed unstoppable.

How, then, did it fail?

One word: laziness.

The show was never quite the same following the writers strike in late 2007 early 2008, a silly, not wholly productive industry-wide strike that ultimately proved more damaging than helpful to even its most hearty proponents. However, to say that this was the reason behind Ugly Betty’s decline and eventual cancellation would be wrong. The honest truth is that the show started to suck long before the strike began at the beginning of season 3. But what was the cause of the suckiness?

Ugly Betty’s popularity and devout following was created by the strength and consistency of its characters. Consequently, it died when the writers stopped caring about them.

So what, specifically, killed Betty?

© ABC Television

1. The softening of Wilhelmina Slater. As far as I’m concerned, a good versus evil story is only as good its villain and Vanessa Williams played one unlike any other…that is, until the writers stopped giving her good material and started trying to make her character slowly revert from her ways. E.g. they turned a villain into a reformation project and the result was a flat, boring character that ended up being just as painful to watch as I’m certain it was to play.

2. The axing of David Blue, the only respectable love interest Marc ever had. He was funny, dorky, chubby…everything Marc is not. The idea was simple, but genius. A sort of Beauty and the Geek for gays. For some reason though, the writers took their own brilliant idea and wrote it out of the script within weeks. BAD MOVE.

3. Betty’s loss of innocence. This one was just stupid. The writers took the title character’s main quality delineating her from the rest of the pack and slowly started picking away at it in the interest of spicing up the character due to the show’s dwindling ratings. What they failed to realize was that Betty was not the problem, it was everyone else. Betty wasn’t losing her innocence, the supporting cast was losing their villainy/ignorance/need for Betty. The character was effectively rendered useless.

4. Disappearance of Selma Hayek’s character. She was mean, her plot was interesting and she should have gone up against Slater for the head of Meade Publications. Instead, she came, she burned bright, she turned evil, then like so many other good characters on the show, she just disappeared.

Reason, after reason, after reason, all centered around the Characters. Ugly Betty was named after a character, lived by its characters and died by its characters. Here’s hoping that if an Ugly Betty movie is indeed on the way, the producers take the hint and seriously re-think the franchise before they screw up the film too.

These are just three reasons, but they have been the talk of fans and IMDB boards for two years now. Simply put, Ugly Betty was a great show that died at the hands of ignorant writers and complacent producers. What a shame…

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© Warner Bros./ NBC-Universal

Hollywood is always fashion forward and apparently the new must have film has switched from vampires and “green” films to the century old Land of Oz. According to a report by Hitfix.com, there are currently four Oz movies in active production, the most promising of which seems to be an adaption of the script “Brick” by Oscar Award winning director Sam Mendes, starring the oh-so-hot-right-now box office juggernaut that is Robert Downey Jr. Downey is rumored at this point to be playing the title role in the film, which is none other than the Wizard himself.

Photo Courtesy of Comingsoon.Net

MTV Movies Blog released that the film is to be a prequel to the original Warner Bros. 1939 film, following the life of the 30-something-ish Wizard as he, like Dorothy, is suddenly whisked off to Oz where he meets some comical, helpful and dangerous characters that help him as he becomes the somewhat misnomered “Wonderful Wizard of Oz”. Of course, nowadays simply the mention of Sam Mendes and Robert Downey Jr. is enough to make theater goers drool. So, what then are the other three films?

Two of the four are tightly lipped projects in development at Warner Bros. about which information is scarce except to say that one of them may possibly feature Dorothy Gale’s daughter as the main protagonist, pitting her against an imposing evil threat/villain in the Land of Oz (vis-a-vi Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland mixed with Return to Oz). The last of the four, and the one with the most potential for impressive box office numbers, is the Universal adaptation of Wicked, based on the gleefully light-hearted musical by Stephen Schwartz and the dark, violent novel by Gregory Maguire. For all those who have been living under a rock, Wicked is a prequel to the Wizard of Oz chronicling the life and relationships of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch of the North, their meeting, rivalry, friendship, fallout and (in Maguire’s book, the more accurate version in the Oz universe) the death of the Wicked Witch at the hands of Dorothy Gale.

The ideas sound solid enough, but is the Oz frenzy just getting started? Are we going to see a renaissance of L. Frank Baum’s tales and ideas? Or will these trips down the yellow brick road get stuck in developmental hell?

Sources:

5 Prequels Besides ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’ On Their Way

Is Robert Downey Jr. heading to ‘Oz’ for Sam Mendes?

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It is just a little less than two months until Universal Orlando unveils the drooled over and dreamed about Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Now, I have been following this attraction literally since day one, long before an official announcement was ever made and my excitement grew to such a dorkishly palpable level that for this Christmas I asked for money to go the grand opening (No, not an iPod, blu-ray player or  TV, I asked for Harry Potter world…I apologize for nothing…). So far, the progress has been incredible. Hogwarts? In-FREAKING-credible.  Hogsmeade? HOLY CRAP. Aesthetics? WORLD CLASS (considering that one of the main designers was Production Designer Stuart Craig, the original production designer on the films, I am not surprised). What could possibly be wrong then? In short: A LOT.

Now, (I seem to like that word today) I should note that this information is not confirmed and I am completely speculating with what I am about to rip to shreds,  and dear God, please, please let me be wrong…but if the footage released by Universal today is in fact the on-ride footage fromHarry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, then Universal needs to take a heaping dose of Veritaserum, because the truth is that what they have created looks like a cheap DVD menu…NOT a multi-million dollar world class attraction.

Don’t believe me? See it for yourself:

Okay, so let’s state the obvious: A) I have not experienced the attraction (as far as I know no one has beyond Universal/Warner Brothers Executives, creative teams, etc.) B) The footage pictured may be purely promotional and have nothing to do with the ride itself C) The footage may not have yet been finished D) The appearance of the film could be changed drastically by atmosphere and special effects.  I must concede these points for the sake of being fair. Plus, I should give credit where it is deserved and very, very rarely has Universal sunk so much money into a project only to have it fail (although the Hollywood Rockit! is still pretty much a disaster).

However, I still have an Ellen Ripley-esque bad feeling about the Forbidden Journey, for the rest of the Wizarding World I am almost 100% confident of  “Magic” being created, but if my gut is right and Universal somehow manages to screw up the flagship ride of the island it could prove catastrophic for Universal’s reputation and bottom line. For a park, Islands of Adventure, that has not added a new attraction almost since its opening in 1999, this is an attraction that could finally solidify Universal Orlando as the ultimate competitor to the Walt Disney World Resort behemoth just 20 mins. away, but as it stands now, if the footage we are seeing IS indeed from the Forbidden Journey, then Universal may be headed to a “Whomping Willow” of trouble.

Let us pray “Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey”, doesn’t become “The-ride-that-must-not-be-named”.

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A Love Letter

To the one I love, and anyone who has ever loved another,

Why is it that we always love what we cannot have?

So simple it would be to love the one that is close to us, the one that knows us, the one that cares for us…but for me this is not the case.

I am in love, for the first time in my life, I am in love, and yet, I cannot speak of it, cannot express, cannot tell the one I love that I love them.

Now it seems sickeningly cliche to call such a love forbidden, and yet in my case, the phrase is all too true. Why do we not love what is easy? Why do we wait, and pray, and hope, and dream of just such a love, only for it to find us and be out of our reach?

My heart breaks silently. I press forward with friends, school, life, work, God, but only in a state of half-being. I am not really there, even the simplest of things makes me want to cry, God is my only ear, my only refuge. The only father I have to run to, and now more than ever, I feel the warmth of his embrace, and yet it is him that I fear to disappoint most. If love is true and Yaweh is Love, then it would be a contradiction for him to be against it, but I know better. He gave me intelligence, and knowledge, and understanding, I know better than to superimpose such basic human ideas onto him, yet, I still have doubt. Is it steadfast law? Is it a matter of interpretation? Or is it simple society?

I don’t know. I will never know. It plagues me. But a bigger part of me takes over: I don’t care about such trivial items. When I seek God, this is the response I seem to get, that such thinking is trivial. To love and be one with Christ, a child of God, is like to be water to an ocean. Inseparable and when separated, catastrophic. Then why does my heart ache?

It is the one I love. Not easy was the discovery. Like love happens so frequently, it came without warning, without cause and with who and when I least expected it. My love is calloused and crass, crude and loud, blatant and outrageous, but it all is just a mask. The truth is, I have seen glimmers of the real person, and it is kind, and gentle, and loving, and hurting. The eyes gave them away. They were so gentle, so soft and yet I could barely stand to look at them. Even when the voice scolded or heckled me in jest, the eyes radiated something from deep within. My brain tells me such interpretation is the construct of my own mind, but my heart says that the teasing and joking and playful disagreements were the only way of expressing the love back, the truth clouded by fear and convention.

I understand. I am the same. I clean, I cook, I spend, I text and I pray to express my love for you. All more pleasant, but all the same in the end. No truth, no honesty, just fear.

I, however, know one thing that is for certain, and that is God does not desire for any of his creations to live in fear. So live in fear I will not.

I will say what I need to say, I will express what I must express and I will do what I feel should be done, for I cannot live, I can’t breathe unless you do this with me.

I love you, with all my heart, I love you.

I go to bed thinking about you, I wake up hoping you will be there next to me, the dream of my loneliness having only been a simple phantom unto the night. Yet, you are not there and all the day you linger in the back of my mind, haunting my heart, stealing away my peace, not because you mean to, but simply because you are not here. You can’t be though, my mind tells me so, but I would love for my heart to get the message, for every time you leave, I feel my heart pound and my soul longs for you to be near. Not embracing, not touching, not even talking, just near to one another. That is how I know I love you. Truly, deeply, love you. For lovers love with sex, adulterers love with secrets, whores piddle love away and the irrational love at the drop of a hat, but I want none of these things. I don’t want you to change. I will never try to force you to be something you’re not. All I want is for you to be near me, to stand beside me, to walk with me, to sleep where I can hear you breathe (like in the Aerosmtih, romantic-world-coming-to-an-end, sort of way. Not the creepy, I’m-gonna-kill-ya, sort of way.)

I just want you, all of you, forever and ever.

I love you.

-Andrew

This is a bit different from the normally humor-ridden articles I write, not to mention sounding like something from an emo-chick’s diary (**shudders at the thought**), but this is something I needed to write for a long time. I am sharing it with the world in hopes that all those who love, have loved or will love read it and know that they are not alone. I bare my soul in it, something I rarely do to anyone, anywhere, for any reason. Yet, good writing needs it, nay, it demands it. So I hope you are encouraged and that you will seek your own answers, for if you are truly, TRULY, seeking the truth, the answer will always find you.

-AAV

P.s. No, I am not going to jump off a bridge or dive into a pit of sharpened q-tips. I’m good… struggling, but then who the hell isn’t? Life is good. The way I see it, I am blessed to have this problem. At least I love. There are countless people who go through countless relationships, marriage(s) and friendships in their lives and never once do they love or are loved in return. My pain is a downright blessing, and I am grateful for it.

Leave a comment- I am listening. (Really I am paranoid that no one reads these, the stats don’t look so hot, so post something… just not your naked body…GAG…)

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Photo Courtesy of Rubberball Photos

Getting Published Sucks.

At least some of the time…

So now, you have written the query, waited, gotten rejected, re-written it, re-submited it, waited some more, had a cup of tea, waited again, got a “nibble” and THEN….nuthin’.

This definitely sucks. Waiting? Okay. Replies? Patience, my young padawan. Nuthin’? YOU DO NOT YET KNOW THE POWER OF THE DARKSIDE!

How do you know it’s bad? Well, hearing an asthmatic James Earl Jones monologue in your head is a bad sign.  However, if you start trying to shoot lightning out of your fingers at the agent in question then you KNOW it’s bad.

Let’s get serious for a second. You have done all this work, gotten a faint glimmer of hope, and now, after all that excitement, you have a big steaming pile of nada.  Welcome to publishing! I’m Satan, nice to meet you…

The honest to god truth is that this period of waiting for your manuscript to be reviewed is truly one of the most excruciantingly exciting and simultaneously torturous waiting periods in your publishing process. Unlike waiting for a response from a query, which, especially with e-mail submissions, warrants a response very quickly, the manuscript submission can take weeks,  many times even months, to receive a response.

Why? Simple, agents are busy. Really busy. You just can’t possibly imagine how incredibly, durastically, ridiculously busy they are. Also, what you probably don’t realize is that they are just as excited about finding a new client as your are about finding an agent. What does this mean?

Well…don’t freak out. It generally means that if an agent likes your manuscript enough to offer you representation, that agent will seek you out VERY QUICKLY. Ergo, if an agent gives you a response time of 6-8 weeks for your manuscript, the likelihood of representation decreases exponentially after you move past the half-way point of the outer time bound. E.g. 4 weeks for the above.

That is not to say it won’t still happen, agents are people too and they are just as strange as you and me. It is perfectly conceivable for an agent who loves your short 40,000 word novella to take 3 months to offer you represenation. They may be busy, they may read like molasses in winter, they may just like to sit on manuscripts and read them all at once in a singular week of masochism. Who knows! The point is you still have a chance, it’s just not a good one.

Nuthin’ sucks! But keep your head up! Perseverance, perseverance, perseverance…

Leave me a comment! Just say anything, let me know you read!

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