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From Lori Perkins blog, http://agentinthemiddle.blogspot.com/2009_11_22_archive.html#335403721534032281
However, it's become increasingly difficult to sell any genre fiction from a male protagonist's perspective, unless he's really hot. But even if he's a really hot teen vampire, it's better to tell the story from a female point of view. If you have a male character, I'd almost suggest that you change the gender of your main character to sell a novel in this climate.

So if this advice is to be believed, if you didn't write a story with a female protagonist, even if the story is good you might be SOL trying to get an agent to read it.
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Excuuuse me, princess!

Hulu is, apparently, on a mission to upload every cartoon I loved as a kid.

When I was like 8 or something, I used to watch the live-action Super Mario. Bros Show because occasionally they would show The Legend of Zelda cartoon instead of the usual Mario cartoon. Even then, I thought the live action show was boring and cheesy but I would suffer through it in the hopes of watching a Zelda cartoon. I was usually disappointed :(

But now, thanks to the power of the internet, I can finally watch these damned episodes whenever I want to!
(Of course, now they no longer hold the same wonder they used to....the scripts and voice acting are terrible. But I swear, I'm watching them all to appease the inner child in me). And in doing so, I can notice all the adult humor that was snuck in...like how the first episode opens with Link looking down Zelda's shirt.....

I was also a big He-Man fanatic when I was little (like 4-6). I don't remember any episodes of She-Ra ever airing, but I did watch the crossover movie.

I really liked The Littles. I think it was one of the first American produced cartoons to have an actual storyline. Sadly, where I lived it only aired on Sundays. I ended up reading several of the books because of the cartoon.

Inspector Gadget needs no introduction.

Voltron was another love; I still have a ton of the toys I bought at garage sales. It used to play on the USA Network but they aired the episodes out of order so it was impossible to follow along.

Now they just need to upload The Raccoons, The Real Ghostbusters, Thundercats, The Muppet Show, and Fraggle Rock. Then my attempts to revisit my childhood will be complete.

But please, no Jem and the Holograms.  I hated that show so much because they would air it between the shows I actually liked and to this day I have an irrational hatred of all things related to girlie pop singing.
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Education in the United States

Last night I watched the documentary film The War on Kids. I've long been a supporter of youth rights and I considered producing a documentary about the subject (I've even filmed some footage) but these guys beat me to it; and I'm glad. They did a fantastic job.

One thing that really hit home for me is the information about the poor quality of education because of misguided State regulations. The emphasis on learning to pass a specific test doesn't really teach anyone about the subject. For example, you supposedly study "American history" but you don't really learn American history; what you learn instead are snippets (many of which, such as Paul Revere's ride and the roots of Thanksgiving, sometimes include more myth than fact) that may be a few hundred years apart.

Many classes even have questionable value; when I was in the 9th grade I had a class called "Internet Explorer". This was a program about researching a country and writing about an imaginary vacation there, complete with the "make-a-poster-with-magazine-clippings" project. For some reason this was considered a high school level class rather than, you know, grade school.

I can completely relate to the frustrations of the kids interviewed in the documentary. Rather than purchase new books (In 1999, we were using half-torn textbooks from the 70s) my school district decided to cut down every tree on high school property and erect a giant fence around the buildings to, "Deter smokers".

Just about every other week our principal had drug dogs sniffing the lockers, and he searched the pockets of many of my friends after lunch break (which never produced anything-- if you smoked, you had the good sense to leave your stuff at someone's nearby house). And I can never forget the supposed "ADHD" kids hopped up on Ritalin that would go from being perky to apathetic (and occasionally suicidal). There were kids expelled for all kinds of silly things, like band T-shirts (Metallica and Snoop Dogg was against the dress code. So was short skirts, tank tops, and wallet chains).

I was looking forward to wood shop because it was a common project to build your own engraved hunting rifle stock and I thought that was pretty cool. Yet, our principal brought the hammer down and even though you can't shoot anyone with a wooden stock (no moving parts, ya know?), by the time I got to high school making anything beyond a small bookshelf was cause for expulsion.

I ended up dropping out of high school in the 9th grade, getting a GED and enlisting into the Army (a year before 9/11 went down). Oddly enough, it's only because I enlisted that I discovered I was smarter than I realized. In public school, I was a C and F student-- but I had very good GED scores. My ASVAB (the test you take to get into the military) was also high enough for Military Intelligence.

Five years later, when I went to college I took the COMPASS placement test and got a perfect score in Reading and Writing.

I promise you that during those five years I was in the Army, I did very little writing and the bulk of my reading entailed field manuals (Army literature is notorious for having typos on every single page).

I'm not sure if this says something about me (I do consider myself a self-taught writer) or it says something about how irrelevant the public education system is. My younger brother also had trouble in public school; he barely passed and had to attend summer school.

However, like me, he also did amazingly well on his ASVAB (unlike me, he did go into Military Intelligence. Where he was top of his class and has rapidly risen through ranks...I'll just leave it at that).

It makes me wonder if, perhaps, the public school educators are mistaken about the very subjects they teach and they find faults when there is none?
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Cosplayers: The Movie is now available for free viewing on Crunchyroll.com

I'm glad that (so far) the comments have been positive. This was such a difficult film to complete-- everything that could go wrong, did go wrong and I had such a small budget to work with.

A DVD copy is also available for sale on Amazon
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Inkpop: So far, so good

I've done about 40 critiques on Inkpop so far and most have been pretty detailed.

Some trends:

-I've noticed common mistakes and occasionally find myself having to copy and paste an explanation; for example, when I notice someone has written a synopsis for their long pitch, I point out the specific mistakes and paste in an explanation of what a pitch should be about.

-The most common genres so far are contemporary humor and dark urban fantasy.

-I've noticed few male users on the site.

Twilight Chronicles was at rank 35 a few days ago, but is dropping to the forties. I'm losing out to the users that spam all the new users to vote for them. I'm trying to refrain from doing that because I've decided to give detailed critiques to those who read my novel, but I think their tactic might be superior to mine.
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When did I know I was a writer?

I guess I've always known.

My first stories were not written; they were acted out when I was a child. I think a lot of people forget the stories they invented when they played with their toys or ran around outside with their friends; I still remember some of the make-believe adventures I went on. And when I played with my action figures, my characters went on epic adventures that would span weeks and months. Most of them centered around a Voltron castle and the generations of heroes that protected it from the forces of spooky doom.

When I was in grade school, I used to make my own hand-written books with line paper and staples. I actually still have some of them. I had a series of short stories about 'Super Rabbit', which was an imitation of Super-Man so terrible that it could be considered a juvenile parody.

I used to be a big Star Trek fan and I wrote fanfiction about "Star Trek: The Next Crew" which took place after "ST: The Next Generation". This was years before the internet was available to the masses and a decade before fanfiction.net existed. I typed up the stories on my school's Macintosh 128K. I used to have a floppy disk with them all on it but I have no idea where it is now.

I also used to write stories in notebooks; somewhere I have a big box of notebooks that contain a couple novellas. Most of it was epic fantasy.
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Where did I get the idea for my book?

Several years ago (when I was in the Army) I was sitting in a guard shack with an M16. While trying hard to stay awake on my 12 hour shift, the image of a patchwork teddy bear with a handkerchief cape and a top hat popped into my head. He met a young boy in a forest and said, "I'm not really a teddy bear, ya know?"

So you could say I came up with some crucial elements of my story while suffering from sleep exhaustion.
  
A year or so later, after I had my first rough draft of the story finished (which was a short story), I was reviewing Final Fantasy 4 & 5 for an online game site and came upon a realization: the end-game bosses of RPGs are probably the most powerful beings in the universe since it always takes about four to twelve of the strongest fighters in the world to defeat them-- and only after they get help from some legendary magic artifacts.

So I said to myself, "Why don't I make the main character a demon king and the antagonist a crazy goddess of light? But how do I go about that since he's actually a normal human boy from another world? Maybe he could be possessed by a demon king who was defeated and banished to another world? Don't they sometimes get banished at the end of a game because they are too powerful to perma-kill?"

Everything just sorta went from there.
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Time to Change

Journalist Jesse Kornbluth wrote an article at Publishers Weekly about how publisher and author responsibilities are changing places. 

I think it raises some very interesting points. I'm not convinced mainstream book publishers are the best at marketing books.

Just look at your average book cover to see what I mean.

BTW- Jesse runs Head Butler, a great site for finding midlist gems.
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I came across this sffworld.com interview with author Barry Nugent, who talks about his experiences self-publishing a superhero novel.

The work he put into marketing-- ranging from hiring voice actors for an audio trailer to printing special editions of the book for conventions-- shows just how difficult it is for a self-published author to penetrate the market.

If interested, you can order the book from Lulu.com
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Critiquing

From an Inkpop thread,

“You mean writing style as in voice? Oh gosh no, I agree that it should not be tampered with.

For example, if a person likes angsty voices, it's not helpful for that person to pull someone else down for writing in a light, breezy sort of voice. Your voice is your signature, and although it can be developed, it wouldn't work to try to write in a style that is not your own.


Writing style is a catch-all term for the way one writes.

This includes everything from the 'voice' of the writer to what narrative modes they use to what recurring themes appear in their work.

Style can also include trademark choices the writer has made; for example, because I write humor I intentionally make my writing have a 'cartoon-y' feel. Part of this feel is the use of exclamation points and adverbs. Another part is the use of tildes to represent 'sing-song' voices (common in netspeak, but unheard of in professional writing).

I don't comment on style unless I think some of the choices are detracting from the intent of the writer (for example, you probably wouldn't want to use a lot of adverbs in a gritty crime novel because it would detract from the gloom you want to aim for).

When I critique, I focus on five main things:

1) Proper use of tense (I don't care if you write past or present tense, just be consistent).

2) Narrative mode (If you're writing third person limited, unless the protagonist has psychic powers they shouldn't know what others are feeling-- they can only assume what others are feeling based on cues they are given by that individual).

3) Spelling and grammar errors.

4) Incorrect use of words. (i.e. saying a person is irritably calm)

5) Being redundant. (i.e. saying Bob is Mary's friend after they went shopping together at the mall. We know they are friends; that was implied through their interactions).

6) Large amounts of telling when showing would be more effective (I'm not saying exposition is bad. I'm saying you have to know how and when to use it). In most cases it is better to gradually expose information by having the reader observe the interactions of characters with other characters / the environment.
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Adverbs, again!

I came across a great post discussing adverbs and how silly American authors are for being afraid of them. 

Okay, maybe not all Americans. I'm an American and I love adverbs. Then again, I'm not a silly American editor, either.
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My Grand Inkpop Experiment

So today I asked about 1,000 users to read Twilight Chronicles in exchange for a critique from me about their work.

Why 1,000 users?

I thought it was a good number.

I'm curious as to whether my perspective on the agent query process will change if I go through a slush pile of my own.

Namely, will I start hating question hooks, prologues, and stories that begin with characters waking up?

I doubt it, but we'll see.

That said, I figure only about 200 people will actually look at my book.

We'll see how this works out.

My dominant hand is tired of clicky-clicky right now, so I'm gonna chill and get to critiquing in an hour or so.
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What Tokyopop.com should have been!

HarperCollins has released an Authonomy site specifically for children and YA writers called Inkpop.

I decided to upload Twilight Chronicles: DAWN to this site because I felt the story might do better among its target audience.

For those familiar with Authonomy, there is one important difference between Inkpop and its predecessor: users can only back one book every 24 hours! This means it is much harder to move up to the editors desk. Is this better or worse? I can't provide that answer (although I do think it means people have less incentive to read new works).

Anyway, I've only been on the site for two days now, but the book is doing pretty good. It has jumped 2,345 ranks to reach the #91 spot!

I've been pretty active on the forums. Many of the users are young writers, so they aren't quite as well informed about this crazy publishing industry; I've been trying to give as much useful information as I can. I've also been leaving fairly detailed critiques of uploaded work in the hopes that it helps them polish their skill. When I first started writing I didn't have anyone willing to help me polish my writing, so I hope I can impart some of what I've learned to others. Since I'm not yet published I can't claim to be a zen master of writing, but I do have a strong grasp of the basics.

We shall see how this goes.
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Some good news

 Reposted from my other blog.
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My film company's first release, Cosplayers: The Movie is available for order on Amazon.com, but soon it will also be available for free viewing on Crunchyroll.com (you'll have to watch some ads though). In the meantime you can watch a trailer for the film on my Youtube account.

On Authonomy, my YA fantasy Twilight Chronicles: DAWN is now in the top 200 rankings! Based on feedback I've received about the prologue, I have re-written it, but I'm unsure if it is better or worse. Given the number of people who have said "I never read prologues", I've decided to stop submitting the prologue to agents.

I cannot possibly fathom why people hate prologues; to me, saying you don't read the prologue is as rational as saying, "I never read Chapter Two". Why would you not read the story? Sheesh!

As for the publishing industry, the following picture illustrates how successful my attempt to get an agent / publisher has been going:

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About me

I'm a writer, game designer and indie film-maker (I specialize in comedy films and documentaries).

This account is just a way for me to read and comment on other blogger journals.

My actual blog is at http://jfreedan.livejournal.com/
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