The odds of publication…

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Today i spent my early morning procrastination watching this youtube video, in which Lev decides to write a book. I laughed, because I understand the problem he stumbled across, but it also made me think.

Are the odds of publication really that bad? (Yeah I know, the movie has nothing to do with publication and everything to do with writer’s block, but that’s what it got me thinking on. So there!)

We all read articles about rejection, but let’s take a minute and really think this over. Out of 7 billion people on the planet, about 7 billion have a story they want to tell. That’s a lot of competition, right? Maybe. Except for the fact that 25% of them are illiterate.

Whew! Just by the fact that you’re reading this, you’ve already managed to erase over a billion people from the publication race. Not bad eh?

Bur A.M. Kuska! I hear you cry, what about the remaining 5.25 billion people who can read? Well ask yourself this. How many of those 5 billion will ever pick up a pencil? How many will complete a rough draft? How many will submit to a critique circle? How many will admit their rough draft is somewhat less than perfect and rewrite? How many people actually send their manuscript out at all? Send it again when it’s rejected?

*crickets chirp*

I thought so. Even if we say an agent receives 100,000 query letters every year, it’s probably safe to assume some of those are badly formatted. Some were poorly worded. (Sorta like “The Family” from earlier, but less cool.) I’m sure one or two were addressed to Mrs. Bob, and some are rejected because their YA novel is 300,000 words long. When you cut out all these things…the odds start looking good.

The reality is, there aren’t enough manuscripts out there with good writing, good plot, and good editing. ^^ Yay!

Seriously though, while we can’t track these things, we do know that there are very few agents closed to submissions, which means there are still gaps to be filled.

Perspectives: California

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I knew I was missing my homestate when I found myself remenescing over wildfires. Fire season spans across most of the year down there, and most of us don’t blink when we hear about a fire burning 30,000 acres. Even if there are three fires each burning 30,000 spread out in a line headed toward you. (Unless of course, you are unlucky enough to live in the hills instead of somewhere safe such as a valley. Then I imagine you are running to pack your bags and hope that huge swath of naked earth surrounding your house is a big enough fire barrier.)

California has its own unique personality, which I did not notice until my (then future) husband came down to visit me. He was awed by our attitude toward cops, and also to our speed limits. (I found out much to my horror that Washington speed limits are 5-10 miles slower everywhere.)

“When we [meaning Washingtonians] see a cop with someone pulled over, we slow down. You guys just keep going. It’s like you think since he’s got one he’s too busy to get you too.”

Well it isn’t exactly like that. It’s more like, “if you’re not the fastest person and you’re not the slowest person, and you don’t have an eye catching sports car, you’re unlikely to be the one who gets the ticket.”

That being said, I am the model of good behavior here in Washington. Even though the speed limits suck, and that kid on the tricycle is passing me. He’s going to be the one with the ticket. Right? Of course right.

Something that also really stood out for me when I first moved was the street names. We use actual names, with a theme to them where I grew up in California. Here, all the streets are numbered. Instead of Christine street, Karen Street and Vanessa street in one section, we have 176th, 175th, and 174th.

>.<

My dad actually noticed the other difference between these two states, that I think defines their personalities. When he came up for my wedding this past June, he seemed very flustered as we drove around the streets. Eventually, he brought this up to my Mother-In-Law.

“I have a question for you,” he said to her, not quite making eye contact. We all stared at him, because he isn’t generally that shade of red when he talks.

“Where ever I drive here, I see all these little pink stands by the side of the road, and the women in them are almost naked. What are they–um—selling?”

We stared at him for a moment, minds frantically racing to figure out where these naked people were. I was the first to burst out laughing, cause I’d figured it out.

“Coffee stands,” I told him between gasps for air. “Those are coffee stands!”

He thought they were selling–well–never mind. Washington is defined by its coffee, as you probably know, and also by the amount of clothing on the ladies who serve it. 😛

Those are the only differences that really strike me, weather aside. Despite what Bella will tell you, by the way, the weather doesn’t actually suck. I admit to staring at the sky the first time it snowed, and my first dumbfounded thought was something along the lines of, “Dandruff!” But it does snow in California. Somewhere. Just not where I lived. It doesn’t actually rain here in Washington every day. It’s just cloudy every single day. You don’t even notice after the first couple months, promise! ^^

That’s it for now! If you’d like to share your own perspective with other writers, please drop me a line at sskid2000 AT hotmail DOT com. Thanks all!

Perspectives: Judo

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Despite that line in “Blame It” by Jamie Foxx, Judo is not a kicking sport. Judo practitioners do not wander around smashing their heads through concrete blocks or practice moves that involve hitting something with a big stick. In fact, pretty much all of judo involves smashing an opponent into the mat at high velocities, with a sprinkling of chokes, armlocks, and hold-downs thrown in.

You can find out everything you need to know about the history, what the moves look like, and how tournaments work by doing a little bit of research. Here’s what the research doesn’t tell you:

  • Every dojo teaches the name of the throw being taught in Japanese. This way should you compete in a country not your own, you can still fight. You may not understand anything else, but you will know when the fight stops/starts and whether you won or lost.
  • Yes, that little girl can mop the ground with you, if she’s trained and you’re not. Yes, that blind person can whip you in a fair fight, especially if you try to be nice. Yes, that one-legged guy will drag you to the ground, flip you on your back, and sit on you till the match is over.
  • The easiest move for a beginner to use effectively would be O-Soto-Gari. It essentially involves sticking your leg out behind the legs of your opponent, and giving him/her a good push.
  • While classic movie throws like the Seoi Nage (Shoulder Throw) and Tomo Nage (stomach throw) look cool, beginners don’t always pull them off that well. Typical problems with shoulder throw involve standing up too straight (you have to load them on your back for that spring-board action toss) and for stomach throws, not knowing when to sit down and do it. (Tip: If you fall on your butt and your opponent is still coming down toward you, it’s a good time.)
  • Girls: Short hair and shorter nails are critical for this sport. Your nails will get caught on someone elses shirt and torn off. Your hair will get stepped on.
  • Short people rejoice! This sport is advantageous for you. Your center of balance is naturally lower than everyone elses, making it harder for them to throw you, and easier for you to throw them.
  • One of the three judo maxims translates to, “Mutual Benefit.” Judoka are never against each other in training. A fight is essentially meant to be free form exercise, not trying to kill the hated enemy.  

If your character is a martial artist, doing research on their particular form will help fights seem more realistic. Google and Youtube judo for details on how to perform the motions.

Writers = Cannibals

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In 2007, an aspiring horror novelist was arrested on suspision of murder. Police found portions of his girlfriend all over his house, and a manuscript entitled, “Cannibalistic Instincts.”

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m not that dedicated in my research. If my character is going to rob a bank, I’ll stick to watching movies like Swordfish. I’m pretty proud of my ability to keep my diabolical plots where they belong: in fiction.

Unfortunately, I’m not so proud of myself when misfortune strikes those around me. If you show up on my doorstep, bleeding, I’ll pass out the band-aids and the comfort, along with a few questions.

“Stabbed yourself did you? With what? How bad does it hurt? What does it hurt like? Burning? Throbbing? Can you feel the flesh sliding around? What does that feel like? No don’t just say it hurts, tell me in detail. Oh, yeah. Doctor. Let me get my notebook–I mean the phone. Let me get my phone.”

I can’t be the only one who hugs a friend while simultaneously pondering how to put his/her emotional torment into word form. Time to fess up. Do you do it too?