Is there no end to the number of people who want to screw authors?
I came across this article about a potential "farm team" system for publishing. The fact that it's on MSN/Newsweek feed, made me cringe. Because whether we know we're doing it or not, when we read about something that sounds like "hope" for those aspiring to be published from a reputable source, we tend to think it's a good thing...even when it feels awfully shady.
In a nutshell, Chronicle will now refer rejected manuscripts from its slush pile to self-publishing company, Blurb. The two toot their horns about this great new venture because now Blurb gets a cache of authors to pay for their services, who may otherwise, once rejected by Chronicle, move on to the next traditional publisher.
If you can ignore the fact that the author then goes on to pay for everything from editing to promo (possibly ending up having to sell an eighty-page book for $30) and may not even get an ISBN for their financial investment it's a "win-win" for everyone.
Everyone except the author!
Chronicle gets a kick back for the referrals who end up actually "signing" with Blurb. And of course Blurb is making money hand over fast for doing little more than ushering the author through the POD process.
Look, I get it. America was built on people making money off of hopes and dreams. But it's ridiculous to tout this venture as a "win-win," when the author so obviously is getting the screws put to them.
There are plenty of other POD and self-publishing companies that will not only offer more "services" than Blurb but will do so cheaper.
There's no doubt that at some point, the self-publishing paradigm and the traditional publishing method will find a way to merge into a hybrid. But I shudder to think this will be it.
What is Chronicle getting paid for exactly? For sending a list of names to Blurb? For reading the first 10-50 pages of a manuscript and deciding it's not right for them, but is right to collect a "residual" from as long as the author is willing to dish out the cash?
It's disheartening. As a society sworn to capitalistic indulgences, I get that Chronicle has found a new revenue stream. But it's infuriating that they've found one that doesn't seem to benefit the author at all.
The article is positioned as if they're giving a potential E. Lynn Harris a chance to be heard. But again, there are less expensive companies out there willing to do the same.
If this were a venture that were about giving voice to the unheard, they would have partnered with a company whose services were broader and priced closer to "market value."
If I read this wrong or am misinterpreting the venture, someone please...let me know.
Edited to add: Sarah Williams at Chronicle Books reports that "the information in the Newsweek article was incorrect... Chronicle Books will not receive a referral fee for recommending Blurb.com to aspiring authors or artists.
"Chronicle will provide a landing page from our website to which our editors may refer authors or artists whose works they feel are a good match for Blurb.com. For their part, Blurb.com will offer us discoveries they might make in terms of online trends, notably how consumers are finding books online. There are many self-publishing options in the marketplace, though far fewer for illustrated book authors and artists. As an independent illustrated book publisher in San Francisco, Chronicle Books felt an affinity for the locally-based Blurb.com and the quality of the product it is offering the public."
Note, a "writing" day does not necessarily have anything at all to do with the act of writing. I simply mean, today's a tough author day. Bad and good writing days are my version of the answer to the question, "How was your day at the office, dear?"
In truth, from a writing standpoint, it's been a good month.
But if writing were all I had to do as an author...well that would be cool, first of all - but, it would eliminate a heck of a lot of my peaks and valleys.
Disclaimer: I love writing. It's the one profession I enjoy despite it's cons. And I write because I'm compelled to. So I don't feel I have much choice in the matter.
However, some days I'm bothered by how quiet things are. There's no immediate gratification to writing. There's barely any delayed gratification. Royalty statements come out twice a year and that's about all there is.
In between those statements, you have no idea how well book sales are going. Which only serves to frustrate you because everyone who knows you're a writer will inevitably ask, "So how's the book doing?"
I swear, the next time I hear that question I may just say, "Oh, well you know it was a little colicky last night. I was up all night." Then just let them look at me like I've lost my mind...which, by the way, I'm not so sure is not fact.
The flip side to this delayed gratification are the emails from readers and people who see you and tell you they enjoyed it. Those are great. I'm still a newbie, so those too are far and few between. But much appreciated all the same.
At least you know someone besides you and your editor read the book.
I think my irritation stems from being a pop culture fanatic. It's tough to hear ratings for TV shows, box office numbers for films and chart ratings for singles but yet have no whisperings about how well any book outside of the New York Times list is doing.
The solution, may be to stop consuming so much pop culture info. But since we know that ain't gonna happen, I'll just chalk today up as one of those days and hope tomorrow is better.
And I don't mean the rap group. I'm talking about Princess A's clique.
The hubster and I let her host her 13th birthday party at the house, over the weekend, and nearly 60 kids invaded the palace. Yes, I said 60!
My mom said, "Well are you sure she knew everyone? Were there a lot of friends of friends?"
Uhhh...no. 1 I knew she knew everyone because I had her hand out wristbands, so we could easily identify every kid as a welcome party goer vs. a crasher. 2 She greeted everyone as if they were her best friend. 3 Everyone there seemed to know everyone there. I.E. they're an extended clique.
Not saying they're all BFFs, but based on watching them throughout the night, it was clear that they were tight enough that hanging out on a Friday night was as natural as them all sitting in the lunch room together.
So I've come to realize - Myspace, AIM and chat rooms have changed the way teens make friends. Or maybe, it's simply changed the way friendships progress.
Back in the stone ages of my teen years, we had the telephone. And unless your parents were the uber progessive type to have a three-way calling, you were ::gasp:: only going to be talking to one person at a time!
Oh, the horror!
That meant you probably had five or six tight friends (I did) and then another 5-10 that was a part of your extended circle (close friends). Come party time, in middle school I may have known a total of 20 kids (close friends) to invite. That doubled, maybe tripled in high school - but even still, they weren't 40-60 kids I just HAD to have come or my life was over.
According to my daughter, her guest list could be no less than 60 because all of these were her "close" friends.
Sixty close friends?!
But it's because at any given day Princess A is on Myspace leaving comments on several people's pages, while IM'ing with five other people at the same time and talking to another three on the phone. They're constantly connected to one another in groups.
It's quite an amazing thing to see that virtual friendship circle come to life.
As a parent, you want your kid hanging out with a "good bunch" of kids. And since they're different outside of your eyesight, you never really know which ones are really okay and which ones are just sneaky as hell.
But, these kids were respectful (only one make-out break out session and my house not only survived but had very little trash as evidence of a party), not a bit unruly (considering how many, that was nothing short of a miracle), and very much content to flow from circle to circle all night, talking, dancing and being teens.
I'd definitely label them a "good bunch."
So we survived the bash of '07 and I've come to respect that the internet is not always necessarily isolating us from one another, as the news reports continue to blare. Friday night proved to me that, while we may spend a good deal of time talking via email, IM and text - in many cases it serves to make us feel closer to those we exchange conversation with, not further away.
I missed the first seventeen minutes of Gossip Girl, last night. But somehow I don't think it hurt much.
So, let's see...here are my thoughts:
What's in the NYC water?! These prep school teens look like grown folk. Is that how they're growing 'em in the Big Apple these days? The only girl who looked like an actual high schooler was the frosh, chick (forgive me I didn't learn names). Did casting go out of their way to hire 25 year olds?
Pilots suck I have never liked watching pilots. I wish we could just skip to the first actual show. Pilots are stitled and over done. I watched the pilot of K-ville the other day and it looked like Princess Bea had edited it. The action always came out of the blue smacking me in the face.
I drink like a sailer, but don't ask me to have sex Did no one else feel a total disconnect to this "tender" first time moment between Blair and Nate (I think that's his name)? I mean, they show her in a hotel bar drinking a martini, then suddenly she's in lingerie, her eyes eager yet frightened as she anxiously awaits her and Nate's first time. Hmm...not saying all teens who drink have sex, but...well, let's just say, you can't make 'em all grown in one scene and then innocent and pure the next.
Take out the Eurotrash Lord, Chuck gave me a headache. Him and his ascot or scarf or whatever it was. Princess A kept asking me was he Asian. I don't think so. He was just trying way too hard to be a male socialite a**hole. He looked like he'd just flown in from strolling the Champs. Blegh! His was the most contrived character of them all.
Going to boarding school is the modern day version of the vapors So let me get this straight, Serena ran away to boarding school b/c she had sex with her BFF's BF? Really? I mean, that's why? She wasn't pregnant with his love child? She didn't lose her mind and get all whacked out because she did something wrong and was secretly in a mental insitution?
No? Okay. She was simply a drunken skank with her best friend's boyfriend? Dude, it's called fessing up and letting the shit hit the fan. Who runs to boarding school for that?! That's not just melodramatic it's Scarlet O'Hara, I think I'm going to faint feminine nonsense.
How old is the frosh chick's brother?! Maybe this was covered in the first seventeen minutes. ::shrug:: But the frosh chick's brother who Serena went out with to avoid going to the Kiss n' Tell party or whatever it was called - how old is he? 1) He completely kirked out and hid when Serena came in...more 13 y.o. action than 18. 2) Baby sis mentioned something about him having liked Serena since 9th grade. Umm...but baby sis is currently in 9th grade. How would she know what her older brother did or didn't do in his 9th grade year? Wouldn't she have been in like 5th grade or 6th? 3) Eurotrash Chuck did not know big brother. But doesn't big bro go to school with them? Or has he graduated?
I'm all lost on that one.
BFFs who Bicker, okay. BFFs who backstab, hate that Here's P's ruling: If your best friend slept with your boyfriend, you weren't best friends. I don't care if she was drunk. I don't care if she was vulnerable. Best friends don't put themselves in a position to sleep with their girl's boyfriend.
That being said, a best friend fight in my eyes is usually something that's over a misunderstanding. Real best friends can get over that.
You slept with my boyfriend i.e. didn't care about our friendship at the time, means we weren't as close as I thought we were. And we never will be. So let's stop calling Serena and Blair best friends! Apparently, they were very close friends. But no more.
Hip never tried so hard So we had mentions of popping viagra, drinking martinis in a public bar, fixing grilled cheese sandwichs with truffle oil and high school parties ripped right out of the Manhattan club scene. I get it, they're rich and can do whatever they want.
But, I'm always annoyed with the teen who's shown living this practically adult-free lifestyle, yet seems to flip out when a real adult decision has to be made. Yeah, it happens in real life. But I'd like to feel a little more balance there. If you can make decisions to drink, have sex blah, blah, don't turn around and try to get audience sympathy when those decisions go bad. Make the characters reaction to the consequences a little less dramatic so it doesn't feel so contrived.
Second, as far as the hip factor. I'm hoping it's just the pilot effect. Maybe the hipness can be made a little less blatant. There's a way to say "this is their lifestyle" without saying THIS IS THEIR LIFESTYLE SEE WE SAID VIAGRA.
The Hills has managed to do this. These young 20-somethings drive expensive cars, have expensive gadgets, eat out a lot, the guys never mention their work (if they have a job) and they seem to answer to no one. But I've never felt the wealth or the supposed priviliges of their wealth were a character in the shows.
The GG books, IMO, has always suffered from that - wealth as a character, issue. It's one of the reasons I'm not a fan of them.
If the show can dilute that and yet still capture the essence of freedom that wealth brings, it could be a good time filler as I wait for Project Runway to come on at 10.
What kind of pop cultist would I be if I did not watch tonight's pilot of Gossip Girls?
No, I'm not a fan of the books (oh, they're really crying over losing my one sale, huh?).
Yes, I think that whole rich girls in the city thing has reached its zenith, crossed over and come back in a few new forms since GG hit the shelves in 2002.
And, yes, I do wonder where all the black people are in books like Gossip Girls. What? Are there NO nouveaux rich, African Americans on the Upper East side of Manhattan?
Still, I'll be watching because Gossip Girls represents one of the series that breathed new life into YA fiction. While Harry Potter has been credited with literally keeping the children's literary genre healthy for the past ten years, Gossip Girls is a literary celeb in its own right. It earned its spot in pop culture by having the cojones to reflect that sometimes teens do naughty things without their world crashing in on them.
Dealing with sex, drugs, drinking and cattiness in a way that no teen book dare, at the time, Gossip Girls divided the literary community. Half believe GG is the devil incarnate, while others take it for what it is, a fun, commercial read that portrays a glimpse into the underbelly of the world of young Paris Hiltons in training.
So, yeah, I'll be watching tonight, hoping to hate it but knowing that my addiction to trashy TV may just snare me into yet another mindless must-watch show.
And hell, they knew they were going to snag me. It's lead in is America's Next Top Model - the fashion world train wreck I can't get enough of.
Early last spring, my editor called and the conversation went something like this:
"Hey, can you send me a synop of the mss you're working on?"
Silence and the whispering of the wind on my end.
HER: Hello, P, you still there?
ME: Un-huh. Whew, for a minute there I thought you asked me for a synopsis. (nervous laugh)
Confused silence on her end then "Uhh...yeah, I did."
ME: A synopsis, synopsis? The kind where I summarize the entire book for you synopsis?
HER: Yes, unless you know of a new definition. Is that going to be a problem? I thought you were currently in the middle of writing it now?
ME: I am...but I have no idea...I mean, yeah so when do you need it?
I'm fairly certain she thought I was a complete loon. Or, that she was talking to an alien who was occupying my body and using my voice.
A synopsis is a basic writing tool. Everyone uses them. Come on, it's cool.
Except, I am a complete and total pantster. Not just, oh I have a loose outline all "up here" in my head and I'm following it along. No, no. When I do something, I do it all the way. I'm a pantster as in - I don't know what's going to happen in the next chapter until I sit down and write it!
My scenes often come to me out of order. When they do, I work backwards from there. Other times they come in total order and I get on a hot streak really seeing the story. But I haven't been able to write a synopsis for a book (before it's finished) since my first.
Now, luckily, when my editor requested that synop it was April and she didn't need it until June. Well the book was done by then. So I finished the book, wrote the synop and sent her both in a nice tidy email.
Am I a freak of nature?
Does anyone else out there do this?
It's scary as hell to be a seat-of-the-pants writer. But understand, I didn't choose to write this way. I've tried outlines. I've even written a complete one, once or twice. But never has my story ever stayed on the path of the outline. Sometimes its strays so far as to make you wonder if I might not have been smoking crack when I wrote it.
Just seems, when I write, the story progresses as I'm writing. There are still scenes, dialogue etc...that I have to come back and fix. Not saying the story flows perfectly instantly. But direction wise, once I put it out there, it's fairly fixed.
There are plenty of pros and cons to this style. But the one con is self-editing major revisions. It's near impossible.
I have this manuscript I wrote two years ago. I loved the story. But my agent saw some issues and asked me to fix them. It would have involved changing the POV from three characters down to two. Well because the story was written organically (which is what I prefer to call pantsing) going back to fix it was akin to watching a show like Lost mid-season. Huh? Who did what now and why?
The characters and their motivations were foreign to me. After two years of trying to fix it, I decided to start the daggone thing over, a few weeks ago. The existing story felt like white noise and clutter.
So, to my editor, I actually do know what a synop is...but if I give you one too early you'll look at the finished mss like, "Okay, now what happened to the flying cow and the magic pen you mentioned in the synop?"
I confess, the above title has nothing to do with today's post. It was running through my mind last night, for no apparent reason (yes, my mind is a scary place) and I felt compelled to capture it.
I barely recall what that ep of What's Happening! was even about, except at some point, Roger and Rerun's neighbors protested and chanted, "No Roger, No Rerun, No Rent!" in a mock strike.
Welcome to my world, where random pop culture bites rule. Since you're here, stay awhile. Because today, I'm listing some things that amaze me:
* How much Jonny Fairplay (that dude from Survivor who lied about his grandmother dying to win a reward challenge. Pret-ty sneaky, sis) looks like an out-of-work 70's porn star.
* That I actually watch something on the Country Music Television channel (Ty Murray's Bull Riding Challenge and Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader Tryouts - Making da' Team - like making da' band, only with no singing and less clothing).
* How flippin' old John Elway looks. Seriously, if that's what the altitude in Denver does to a person, I will not be visiting.
* Reggie Bush's pecs and six-pack. Yum! Please, please NFL, can he play without a shirt on?
* The career of Sherri Shepard. New permanent host on The View. Look, she could walk by you on the street and you likely wouldn't even recognize her. But this chick keeps a job and I ain't mad.
* The term "Reality TV Star." The world's going to hell for sure for allowing that little acting niche to flourish.
* My absolute fascination with trashy tv.
* How my youngest child will bypass the hubster in the kitchen, come upstairs to my office and ask for something to drink.
* How kids can be both genuinely naive yet quite savvy. You don't know whether to smack 'em upside the head or hug 'em.
* My inability to lose this extra 25 lbs I've carried since having my oldest 13 years ago! Oh, I've lost it before, but it keeps finding me.
* That I didn't gain any extra weight with my second child. Yay!
* Sixteen year old guys with grown men bodies. Mmm, mmm, mmm
* Thirty year old mean with a sixteen year old's maturity. ::sigh::
Not only did he throw a hissy backstage after not winning any of the five VMAs he was nominated for, but he's saying that MTV - going for scandal over quality performances - wrongly went with Britany Spears instead of him.
He's also mad because he was relegated to hosting a suite party rather than perform on the main stage.
Oh, and he's also pissed because Justin Timberlake, who also hosted a suite party, ended up on the mainstage to close the show.
Note: I missed that performance because I'd turned off the hot mess that was the VMAs after the Incredible Hulk, errr, I mean Dr. Dre presented somebody with an award. That's right, I forget who. It was that unimportant to me.
In light of all these injustices, Kanye has "squashed" the "beef" (which, for the record, Fifty started, not Kanye) between him and Fiddy because he feels there's greater good in them unifying against the evils of MTV.
Under normal circumstances, I'd say something like Shut and Up. But here's the thing...
Kanye's just saying what lots of artists probably feel, anyway. As much as Kanye can come off as a very spoiled, whiny, self-important man-diva, the fact is, at their core, many creative people are (divas, that is)- at least where their projects (book, movie, CD) are concerned.
I'll put myself out there, as an example - obviously I feel my product (So Not The Drama) is as good as any other YA book on the market. When someone else's book gets a big boost, special honor, recognition etc...it's not unheard of for me to think - Hmm...why not my book?
However, I rarely air that publicly. It's pointless.
And, to date, I've not gone on any rants about how on earth my book could have been overlooked on this or that state's "best" lists or as a Booksense Pick or B&N Featured book. Not getting those honors are as much of the business as getting on those lists are.
You wonder. You wish for similiar success. You move on.
I, am the norm.
Kanye is in the minority. And because he's in the minority, it's easy to believe that he's alone in feeling his work deserves certain accolades.
I doubt, very seriously, he is.
No one writes books or sings songs for awards and honors. But because awards and honors are part of the package, there is definitely a certain expectation that your product will one day snag them.
Truth is, it's crass to ask for recognition. Another truth is, sometimes because of stunts like the one MTV pulled (the Britany mess) an artist has to sometimes be willing to look like an a**hole to remind people - it should always be about quality!!!
Books, music, movies are supposed to stand on their own. But the reality is, each and every one of these arenas is highly political. And Kanye knows this. He knows that sensationalism will win over a high-powered performance, because it makes for better next day buzz.
I mean, Britany was a hot, hot mess! And I won't waste another word on that.
But I will say, in principal, I agree with Kanye.
The VMAs is a huge venue. Artists who open the show typically are either "now" because of their chart topping single or hot because of a multi-plat CD. Britany is neither now nor has out a CD. And for the record, the single she sang is not fire! MTV put her on so people would talk.
For an artist who did bother to put some blood, sweat and tears into their album; did bother to sacrifice sleep and maybe quality time with fam to lay down the best tracks and does have something on the line in the way of sales for an album that dropped two days after the VMAs...for an artist like that to play second fiddle to a confused, damn near washed up twenty-five year old who seems to have lost her dance swagger on top of multiple missed cues in her lip syncing?
Well, I can see Kanye's point.
Ratings. Sales. Moving Units. They're king.
But when the very venues meant to help an artist move those units and bring attention to their hard work moves their focus to pop culture white noise, artists better speak out or at least be glad artists like Kanye are willing to.
Ten Questions That Rock: GCC Style - Bev Rosenbaum
What? Did I win the lottery or something? For the second week in a row, I'm chillaxing in the Clique Lounge with one of favorite gal pals. My second CL two-timer.
Okay, serioulsy, I need a better phrase for Clique Lounge vets. Oh...wait, that's it, Clique Lounge Vets!
Bev Katz Rosenbaum is back to talk about the sequel, Beyond Cool, to her debut, I Was A Teenage Popsicle.
Hmm...all this talk about popsicles is making me hungry. Bev, take the reigns while I go chow down.
Psst, don't tell Bev, I told you. But she also does profesional manuscript critiques. I'm not saying she's good, but after she critiqued my manuscript for So Not The Drama, I snagged an agent. Coincidence? Only if you believe in that sort of thing over good sound advice.
I'm just saying.
TCL: What protag would you want on your Celeb Deathmatch tag team and why?
BKR: I figure my two protags--fearless skater girl Floe Ryan, and her boyfriend Taz Taber, a star smashball player (yeah, you'll have to read Beyond Cool to find out what smashball is)--would make a totally awesome team...when they're not on a 'break', that is.
TCL: Shoes say a lot about a person. What type of shoe girl are you?
BKR: I'm a fashion sneak kinda gal. You know, the cool Puma types with flat soles and cool criss-crossing straps. (Paula, what does that say about me???)
TCL Says: Err..that you love to look good while you're getting fit? Fit fashion, me likey.
TCL: What type of writer are you: plot-driven or character-driven?
BKR: I'm betting most people would guess plot driven after reading I Was a Teenage Popsicle or Beyond Cool, but the truth is, I struggle with plot--have to nail my characters first. I love having them talk about their childhoods and their feelings and all that stuff.
TCL: Word association time. What do you think when I say:
Chick lit-Confessions of a Shopaholic Best seller-Ditto Best Band Ever-Rolling Stones Most rockin' author-Laurie Halse Anderson
TCL: Name the top 3 books on your To Be Read (TBR) list.
Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse. I think I'm the only person on the planet who hasn't read this series.
TCL Says: Ummm...nope. But it's possible we are the only two!
TCL: If you had anything to do with it, what would the next hot lit trend be?
BKR: Angsty books about teens dealing with family problems. (Can you tell what kind of book I'm writing now?!)
TCL Says: Oh, I'm all about the angsty teen novel.
TCL: What celeb would you love to see play your MC on the big or small screen and why?
BKR: Amber Tamblyn would be the perfect Floe. She's not overly girly, and could do the dry, witty thing really well.
TCL: Whether it's because you admire their work or adore them, who's your author crush?
BKR: Laurie Halse Anderson, the author of Speak, which is the only book I reread over and over again, and who inspired me to try writing a different kind of book from what I've been writing.
TCL: What TV show do you watch that you're ashamed to admit liking?
BKR: 6teen. It's an, erm, cartoon for kids. (But soooo great!)
SSP: Tell the cliquesters why your book should be in their TBR list.
Hot guys! Fashion predictions for the future! Fun music and pop culture references! Plus, I could really use your royalty $$!
Un-ah, did she just say hot guys?! Well, 'nuff said. Cop that joint.
Why do I constantly run away from exercise when I know it centers me?
Am I really that hard headed and stubborn? Or could it be that seriously, there are simply not enough hours in the day to everything I need to do, want to do and have to do.
I've found it especially hard to exercise when I'm on deadline for a book. It would seem the two have nothing in common, but they do. It's that whole only 24 hours in a day, thing.
24 hours in a day and mine breaks down to something like this:
2 hours prep for school/work
30 minutes commute/school drop off
7-8 hours FTJ
30 minutes commute/school drop off
1 hour misc/prep for practice
2.5 hours cheer practice
1 hour prep for kiddie's bedtime
3 hours Fill-in-the blank/DIY
6-8 hours sleep
Ummm...if you do the math, that's already more than 24 hours. Note, there is no mention of housecleaning, dinner cooking or husband canoodling in there. And weekends are an entirely other animal that I won't bother to cover!
So you see my dilemma. Now, full disclosure, there are three days a week without cheerleading...so I buy back 2 hours several times a week...which isn't a big deal considering I'm already running at a deficit, above.
Basically, writing and exercise must fit into either that early prep time in the morning or those 3 DIY hours at the end of the day. Or perhaps be banned to weekends only.
I am NOT going to exercise at 9 p.m. I'd be up all night - completely throwing off my perfect system. (Don't laugh!) So that leaves only morning to work out and night to write.
Don't think I don't attempt to meld them both into my daily routine, though. I worked out this morning (Billy Blanks is still the bomb trainer) and am feeling very energetic and focused. That should translate into a decent writing day (when I get the time to do it).
Now, tomorrow, I will wake up with every intention of exercising. But likely I'll also feel the tug of my deadline and have to choose. So here's the deal...
Who do I commission to get the day increased to 30 hours?!
In an effortt o cool up the VMA's, they moved the show to Vegas and turned it into a two-hour party. But they forgot, a party's only fun for the people there. And tonight's show proved that over and over.
Showing us what we missed during commerials is like saying, "Hey, Loser, wish you were here?"
The only way to see 90% of the performances in their entirety was to head to MTV.com AFTER the show. Yeah, cause I have all this time on my hands to re-watch footage I thought I was tuning in for.
Why invest two hours watching it on TV?
Watching snippets of Justin Timberlake jamming with Timbaland in the Southern Hospitality Suite and Kanye West chilling in the Good Life Suite only served to annoy me.
And I thought Timbaland was MC'ing...or maestroing, whatever they want to call it.
What happened to that?
MTV is nearly thirty. A fact they like to keep on the dl because it's not hip to age. When the truth is, aging is cool when done gracefully. So while reconstructing the VMAs isn't a bad idea, an hour in they'd only shown one - count it - one full performance.
That's more of a WTF? than a face lift.
Here's the kicker. MTV wants viewers to vote for their favorite VMA moment. Later they're going to remix those moments and create VMA 2.0 and air it.
In other words, the whole point of tonight was to provide footage to show the "real" VMAs tomorrow. Or whenever they plan to show it.
Where they rope you in is, you have to go to MTV.com to see any moments at all. Because the moments shown, tonight, amounted to little more than a few awards presented/accepted and twenty-second performance clips. Hell, they show more music on The Leak, in between regular programming.
So far, the moments I'm voting for are Justin Timberlake's two pleas to MTV to start showing videos again.
Did you see some of the mess they're calling new programming this fall? All I can say is, A to the men, JT.
Look, MTV, here's what Justin and I are trying to say: When all else fails, go back to what made you a pop culture mainstay, in the first place.
P's VMA WTF Moments
* Chris Brown NOT performing my joint, Kiss, Kiss. T-Pain was in the building, so wha' happened?
* How bored the audience in the "main" room looked. I felt their pain. The only person having fun was Jamie Foxx and thank God. His clowning was the highlight of the night.
* That whole showing performances from their mid-points. I kept waiting for the little announcer voice to say, "We now join your regularly scheduled program, already in progress."
* Fifty tryna play all hard when he and Kanye presented. It's selling records, Fif, lighten up!
* Alicia Keys awkward opening. Was it me or was she off beat?
* Mary J. Blige rambling. "Ladies and gentleman, stand on your feet." As opposed to standing on their hands?
* MJB intro'ing Dr. Dre in a grand (though rambling) fashion merely to have him announce an award. Huh? Can we say, working too hard to build a moment. I thought the man was getting some kind of vanguard award or something.
It's a favorite past time of writers to ask and answer the question: So, who would you like to see play your MC in a movie?
Some refuse to answer, claiming they haven't really thought about it. coughcoughlie. Others have a clear picture which of today's hot young actors can bring their MCs to life. And others still (me) honestly don't have a clue.
There aren't a great many movies or TV shows revolved around young African American actors. I know, shocker considering the vast number of contemporary books featuring them.
Oh wait...vast is a tad bit stretching it.
But you get my point. Unless you're really in tune to every young face that's played a supporting or bit role on TV, it's easy to be ignorant to the young black talent out there.
Right now, the "faces" are Raven - a really good comedic actress, but a bit long in the tooth to play my fourteen year old MC - and Kyla Pratt (Proud Family and One-on-One), also now too old.
So I've always answered the question by saying - So Not The Drama is ripe for some new unknown to make their own.
Then, I watched Akeelah & The Bee, last night. You know I rarely catch a movie in the theatre and we haven't been Hollywood Videoing lately. So I've been a Molly come lately to a lot of films.
Anyway, Akeelah & The Bee was sweet (syrupy even in a few spots). But honestly, how wrong can a movie go when you pair Angela Bassett and Laurence Fishburne? Not very!
KeKe's adorable. And she's the same brown sugar complexion, about the right height and build of Mina. Weird! I know what Mina looks like in my head. And she'll look different to everyone who reads So Not The Drama. But I can totally see KeKe rocking Mina's cheer pony in a cheerleading uniform and all the other girly things Mina loves to wear. She's really quite the typical cute, blossoming teen girl (KeKe, that is).
2) Her fragile strength
As Akeelah, KeKe had to walk a fine line. She was in middle school, after all, a period of great identity hunting. She easily morphed from nonplussed around her best friend, respectful around her mom and intelligently defiant to her teacher.
Mina is nothing if not an amalgam of emotions. Some spilling over constantly, others tightly bottled until she loses control. This is a character who musters the bollocks to stand up to the book's antagonist, Jessica, yet shamelessly runs to the comfort of her friends afterward for reassurance. Mina has a quiet courage that sometimes comes off bossy and others as bravado.
KeKe could pull that off.
3) Can we say "franchise" project?
KeKe and Mina can do for each other what Raven had with the Cheetah Girls. What the Proud Family did for Kyla. And of course, what HP is doing for Daniel Radcliffe. Yes, the ever elusive franchise product that supplies a young actor with steady work and ahem, brings the books a little attention to boot.
4) Hurry, Disney, the Cheetah Girls are becoming Cheetah Women!
The girls are outgrowing their cheetah skins and I'm sure mulling life after Disney, as we speak. That means the Mouse should be looking for a new t(w)een friendly movie project that fits into their magic formula.
Well, here it is: A young star who rocked her debut (KeKe) + A multi-culti YA series that's fun and hip in its earnestness (uh, So No The Drama).
Smells like a small screen success waiting to happen.
5) She's still "new" enough
We know how quickly Hollywood moves on. Akeelah came out in 2006. That means KeKe Palmer is walking the line between trying to cash in on her debut and finding that "break out" role. No doubt, a toughie, especially with those pesky HSM kids lapping up all the spotlight. I swear Zac Efron's eyes are hypnotizing!
But with books like So Not The Drama waiting for Hollywood to adapt it, KeKe could soon be a very busy young lady.
Note: The multi-culti teen ensemble movie audience has been officially, OHfficially tapped by HSM, marking it hot, now.
So KeKe, have your people call my people. Let's do lunch.
So Not The Drama has headed off to college via my god daughter (Hey A!), who recently entered her Freshman year at [college name redacted to protect the innocent]. Apparently, she's passing her copy of So Not The Drama around and her dorm mates are loving it.
Well, I'm pleased as punch! The thing is, when I wrote the book, I didn't actively think, "this book will be great for ages blah, blah, blah." I figured the ideal reader was a middle schooler who wanted to read what high school might be like -or- an older teen/adult who wanted to relive an extreme, yet reality-based POV of high school.
That there description of my ideal reader is a marketer's nightmare!
P, they're saying, you can't have it both ways.
Ahh, but I can. Because A isn't the first (ex) high schooler to let me know the story appeals to them. Far from it.
Obviously I haven't touched every reader of the book, but anecdotally I've spoken to enough to know the age range of young uns who have read and liked it starts at 9 and ends at about 58.
The moral of this story is:
As much as we bally around the word "subjective" in the publishing industry - because it is a very subjective business - sometimes as authors and people in the book biz, we forget to apply that when discussing who our ideal reader is. That there is no way to truly identify what story will touch a certain some one.
I've never consciously worked to write toward a target audience, because I know there's a whole team of people at my publisher who will work that out once they receive a finished product. And thank God for 'em.
But, it's easy to lose sight of the fact that the true definition of the word "reader" is someone who reads. And usually those kind of people read anything that captures their attention.
To say I'm the Queen of Multi-tasking is putting it lightly, most days.
There was a time I was really proud of my ability to juggle so many things. But lately, it's more a burden/curse than skill or talent. So, for the last year and a half I've been working on cutting back.
Sometimes literally - saying no to some new thing someone would like me to helm or assist with and other times, more indirectly, like refusing to angst or stress over some detail that would only bring me more work.
Well, I'm on deadline for book four in the Del Rio Bay Clique series, Who You Wit'? And the truth is, I'm simply incapable of stretching my creative bandwidth to encompass fiction and witty blogging.
Some might argue that during the summer, when I was taking a break from fiction, my blogging wasn't so witty. ::shrug::
So while I plan to stop in at least weekly to post something insightful, fun or just vent-worthy, I'm not saddling myself with a promise that I'll do so. Just one of the ways I sort of trick myself and avoid stress.
As I'm away in Del Rio Bay, I leave you with this, one of my favorite commercials. Maybe it's just me, but this thing cracked me up!
Shout out to Li, Ti, Aryn and Kenni - people who I know found this thing as funny as I did.
Who do I speak to about getting the first of September changed to the official first day of Fall? Because I don't care what anyone says, once September arrives it's fall, as far as I'm concerned.
I used to despise the arrival of fall. But not anymore.
Is that a list I smell?
Why yes, it is.
Top Five Reasons I love September
Crazy, Sexy Cool Weather For the last two days we've had the window "hished" up as the old folks used to say. After a summer locked down inside AC, the flow of natural air, very feng shui, isn't just nice but necessary. The light breeze flowing through the house has been absolutely invigorating.
24..46..32...Hike, Hike, Hike That's right, football seasons here. Now, as much as I love basketball, there's nothing like a chilly Friday night game or warm, autumnal Saturday afternoon game. The colors, the sounds, the feeling that days like that are truly meant for football. And I can't forget Saturday's spent catching my boys from The U on TV.
FYI, we have a new coach and are in a re-building year. I'll reserve my smack talk til mid-season.
Bon Anniversaire My birthday is in September. I'm not one to make a big deal of these things. But I do enjoy having that one day to hold over my fam's head as the one and ONLY day I should be able to do whatever I want...including booting them out of the house for the day if I so choose.
Lazy Weekends Now, truth is, few of our weekends are free, between football games, cheer competitions, book events and family gatherings. Still, on that rare occasion that I have nothing to do but curl up with a book while the Princesses occupy themselves and the hubster watches sports...it's glorious.
Boot Scootin' Thats' right, by the end of the month I will - I repeat - I will be busting out my boots. Any month where wearing a boot is allowable is alright with me.
Noticeably missing from my list
- School's In: The return of the kids to school, while not a bad thing, usually means the start of a busy routine. Can't honestly say I look forward to that.
- Fall TV season: I don't know whose great idea it was to start the fall season later and later, but I hate them. Waiting until October to catch shows I've been waiting nearly four months for irks me to no end.