On submissions

Some people find this interesting, some don’t. I’d like to discuss the whole “I wrote a book, how do I get it published” deal. Every publisher has a different way of working. Some tell prospective authors to send the whole manuscript and other only want the first chapter or two.

I found a fantastic, small, e-publishing company that only wanted a blurb, synopsis, author info, and first two chapters. If they like it and want more, then they contact you, asking for the rest of the manuscript.

I thought I was fine. Most of these places take 6 to 8 weeks to respond. I was polishing up the first in my Dylan Lakewood mystery series, and figured that I should I send in the first two chapters. It would take a month or two before I hear back, in the rare case that they said yes, but I could finish up by then. Well, I sent in all my info and the first two chapters and within days I heard back that they wanted the rest of it.

What could a guy do? I got the e-mail at 5 that they wanted the rest of it, so I worked from then until midnight. They wanted a different file format, so I copied and pasted it, and it came out all wrong. Wonderful. Thanks technology, you’re the best!

At one in the morning, I had to spend an hour going through the file, fixing tabs and font sizes. Cool.

So I finally sent the right file with all the info after an entire day of working. I figured that was it and I’d never hear back from it. And then what happened a few days later? I got a contract! They loved it and decided to publish me.

So my words of wisdom are this: do not submit a manuscript unless it’s done! I had to swim, enjoy my family, watch Law and Order, and get it all done while polishing up a book. This worked out for me, yes, but in the hundred thousand cases that it doesn’t work out, you’d never hear about it.

Sadly, only success stories get published. I’d love to publish all of my unsuccessful stories. Maybe I will. That would be a great blog. Get drunk, bitch about life, publish blog, and sleep. Guaranteed success.

This has been A. E. Cross wishing you the smarts to avoid razor blade candy bars this Halloween. Yummy!

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On erotica vs. romance

I recently learned the difference between erotica and romance! Most people probably confuse the two, and as it turns out, there’s even a third category: erotic romance. Who knew?

For those interested and hanging in there, romance involves characters falling in love and having sweet moments. The characters can have sex, but it’s usually offscreen so to speak, or only hinted at.

Erotic romance involves characters really into each other, dreaming of white picket fences and adopting Chinese kids, and that whole nine yards. But in addition, things get kind of steamy. Wow! Not crazy intercourse steamy, though; that would be insane.

Then there’s porn. That’s a whole other category. Apparently the difference is porn has no plot. Or such incidental plot that no one notices it or cares.

For those keeping tabs, that means porn plus plot equals erotica. Slight erotica plus plot plus love equals romance. And romance plus mildly detailed screwing equals erotic romance.

Phew. This has been Professor Cross reminding you there will be a quiz at the end of the semester.

On debates

Why must Romney and Obama insist on the old “I’ve recently met a woman from X town in the great state of Y?” approach. Does anyone really go, “Hey, they just mentioned a specific town I just heard of, and I don’t care that they’re talking about a supporter at one of their rallies, now I want to vote for him!” No, we don’t care. Stick to the issues.

What? The issues? That’s crazy talk, Elliot. Isn’t it easier to just attack the other guy? For just once, I want the candidate to stay positive, tell us what he’d do differently, then bow, and maybe give us a humorous moment or two. That’s it. People would love it. And by humorous moment, I don’t mean using a “The 80’s called and they want (insert joke here) back.” Looking at you Obama.

Instead, we wade through dogshit. Cool. I’d love for there to be a moderator onstage fact-checking them as they go along. That would shut those arrogant egotists up. I don’t care who you’re rooting for, you have to admit that both of them lie through their teeth. Wouldn’t it be crazy if Americans elected a politician who stood for something again? And who told it as it was? If you feel that way, you’d vote Gary Johnson. What’s that, equality for everyone and a smart fiscal plan? Crazy.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross saying I’m leaving on a jet plane tomorrow, wish me luck and I’m on my way. Peace 🙂

On restaurants

I’m wondering how to get a chain restaurant’s shirt. I went to one recently (for ambiguity’s sake we’ll call it Orangecee’s) and realized it would be a lot of fun to show up in the whole outfit (emblazoned polo with black pants and possible black apron) and act completely normal. They’d assume I’m from corporate and give me a fantastic meal. If asked, I’d just say I like to fit in with the natives wherever I go.

You ever get stuck with a bored waitress and realize that you would have had fantastic service just one table over? We were right on the edge of Anita’s section and Kyle’s. Anita spoke monotonously, didn’t check on us often, spoke to me like I should know what I wanted to eat at the drop of a hat, and didn’t bring the food out in the order we asked. Then there was Kyle. Friendly with a charming story and peeking in randomly on his customers. He wasn’t cute, but had that normal guy look you find in movies, like a Shia LaBeouf before he got those starring roles and made a good ‘best friend.’ I longed to transfer to Kyle’s section, yet I knew it impossible.

And Anita from Orangecee’s, if you’re reading this, don’t apologize for not serving my delicious steak and garlic potatoes on a skillet. I rejoiced that I had a plate. I don’t want the cookware. Why would you give sizzling cookware to a customer? Food is prepared in pots and pans, then placed on a plate and delivered. Age old system.

My favorite part of red wine is how diseased it makes your mouth look.

This is Elliot Arthur Cross reminding you that a safety pin can all too quickly turn into a danger pin.

On dialogue

Get your dialogue right, people. This kills me, it really does. I don’t care how great your characters and plot and setting are. If everyone talks like robots, then your story will suck. Sorry. I bought an e-book the other day to see how the publisher’s quality is. I like the publisher, I like the story, but the dialogue sucks. It totally pulls me out of the story and makes me aware that a 40 year old is writing about at 20 year old’s plights, almost like a middle-aged Mormon woman writing as Bella Swan, an inexperienced, clumsy teenage girl. I’d hate to hurt anyone’s feelings and mention the story, so this guy should consider himself lucky. And I hope I banked karma points with the universe 🙂

I have always gotten a lot of praise on my dialogue, for years on various stories. Otherwise, I would be self-conscious about it. If you don’t get constant praise on your dialogue, then it’s probably not good.

Here’s some simple tips to help you out:

1.) Read it out loud! That will catch/fix 90 percent of stuff.

2.) Pretend you’re watching the characters talk on TV. If you’re having a problem visualizing the conversation, then the flow is probably off.

3.) Respond yourself. Read a question, like “How’s the weather?” If your character says, “I find that it is warm out today” and you would reply, “Pretty hot out, I guess” then write that. People use contractions. People add little qualifiers. People speak differently than grammar dictates.

4.) People are weird. Some characters should say messed up things. I was working a few years back and I had to spend a few hours training someone. This girl was pretty funny, and we started talking about reading and writing. She said to me: “I’m just saying that I’m probably a better writer than you” completely out of the blue. What a brilliant sentence to write. No one in his or her right mind would say something like that. A co-worker/friend was there and she looked scandalized. I had to bite my lip from laughing. Two years later and I’m a published author with several stories in the pipeline and she’s still writing weird poetry in a notebook. But keep in mind that when you create stories, the people who inhabit them might be weird.

5.) People aren’t all witty and capable of coming up with nice amounts of examples. Sometimes they stop at four. I’ve been criticized for my characters sounding too intelligent. Keep in mind that there are different levels of smarts spread across the general populace.

I wish I could only write dialogue form here on out. That would be fantastic. Just pages and pages of people talking to each other. You’d read it, you’d laugh, and then I’d make a living somehow.

Also, I’d like to make a living writing regardless of dialogue or anything. Oh well. This has been Elliot Arthurt Cross saying long life and prosperity to you all… No, that sounds derivative of some sci-fi show… Bye.

On URLs

“Hey, Elliot, what do you do?”

“I’m a writer.”

“Cool. Can you spell your own name right?”

“Apparently not!”

I just realized I set up the URL (for the lay person, that stands for… uh, the address you type to go to a web site) for this blog with a random T after Arthur. So my middle name is now Arthurt. A fantastic start to my blogging life. I guess I could pay to get a non WordPress address, and fix it in the process, but it doesn’t seem worth it. I won’t try out a sign-off as this doesn’t count as a full on post, and I can’t think of one right now.

P.S. if anyone knows how to change a WordPress URL, feel free to pass on the info. Thanks.

On penpals

I thought it would be fun to make a Penpal (e-mail pal should be the term now, although who says “pal” anymore besides characters from the first three Child’s Play films?), especially in another country. I made a quick profile, telling people that I’m looking to make friends anywhere around the world. I wrote a little about me and said that I would like to chat with anyone around my age who is fine with gay people (don’t want to have to come out to a stranger on-line, I’ve come out to enough people already damn it) and that was that.

My first reply was from a Polish guy who said he wanted to learn English and thought I sounded fun. I responded that I’d love to learn more about Poland and thought we could be e-mail friends. I never heard back from him. Okay, on to the next response. That one was an European woman who came on to me. Apparently she didn’t read anything I wrote.

Then came the third response: “HI, Iam Xinro a 21 college student from china.of course, i am a gay.I want to make a friend in other country who can live with me and take care each other.Err,by the way, my english is not good,so do not laugh at please.if you get my news,please contact me by this emil address:xxxxxxxxxx waiting for your repeat’

So yeah, probably going to take down my penpal profile. Xinro is probably a Nigerian scammer, as were my Polish and female responses.

I tried a few other sites and happened across a whole world I never thought of: Prison Penpals! There are a lot of benefits to befriending a prisoner.

A.) He has nothing better to do than write you back, so he won’t ignore or avoid your letter.
B.) You can easily check on-line all of his crimes so it’s not like he’s hiding his secrets from you.
C.) He can’t stalk you and murder your cat for at least 5 to 9.

I checked out a lot of prisoners on 3 different sites. The best site actually aped Facebook’s look, complete with profile pages, what they are in jail for, and pictures and poetry tabs. A black widow actually had near nude pics and a posting that she’s looking to find the right older gentleman to take care of her upon her release or parole. Pretty sure she’s in jail for seducing and murdering old men… guess she’s learned a lot being incarcerated.

When looking for a prisonpal, it’s best to check out what he or she is in jail for. Sure there’s the death row inmates, but there’s very little future in that friendship. Then there’s the sexual abusers. Probably best to stay away from them. I found the sweetest guy’s profile about having a troubled life and realizing he really wanted to change and fix things and learning and growing from his time in prison. Then I checked out what he was in for and it was aggravated sexual abuse of a minor under 13 or something like that. I immediately left his page.

Then there’s the low level criminals. These are guys in for a handful of years, for robbery or forgery or whatever. For some reason I gravitate toward the non-violent offenders. I found one inmate from the midwest with the cutest pictures posted from Family Visit Day.

What I gathered is Family Visit Day consists of hauling in a greenscreen to take pleasant photographs of the inmates with their family, and then they photoshop serene images in the background. This one used a nice forest scene. The parents wore fancy clothes and smiles. Their 28 year old son wore his orange overalls with his prison number on it. And if you didn’t know better, you’d swear they posed while they helped him escape jail in the middle of a brilliant afternoon day.

After settling on sending this guy a letter, I realized he’d get my home address since I don’t have a PO box. Then I decided a prisonpal might not be an ideal choice.

Long story longer, I have no penpal. And that’s why I created this blog. This is Elliot Arthur Cross wishing you… uh… still haven’t come up with a good sign off catchphrase. This is Elliot Cross’ing off another post? That’s horrible. Peace.