Emmy Nominations

American Horror Story is my pick for Outstanding Miniseries Or Movie….Photo Source Amazon.com

 

I’m marking my calendar for September 23rd because that’s the Emmy Awards!

Below are the nominees, and my picks are the ones with a *** next to them:

Outstanding Comedy Series:

Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Girls (HBO)

30 Rock (NBC)

Veep (HBO)

Modern Family (ABC)

***The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Oustanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series:

Zooey Deschanel (New Girl)

Lena Dunham (Girls)

Edie Falco (Nurse Jackie)

Amy Poehler (Parks And Recreation)

Tina Fey (30 Rock)

***Julia Louis-Dreyfus (Veep)

Melissa McCarthy (Mike &Molly)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series:

Larry David (Curb Your Enthusiasm)

Jon Cryer (Two And A Half Men)

Louis C. K. (Louie)

***Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory)

Don Cheadle (House of Lies)

Alec Baldwin (30 Rock)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series:

***Mayim Bialik (The Big Bang Theory)

Merritt Wever (Nurse Jackie)

Julie Bowen (Modern Family)

Kristen Wiig (Saturday Night Live)

Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)

Kathryn Joosten (Desperate Housewives)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series:

Ed O’Neill (Modern Family)

Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family)

Ty Burrell (Modern Family)

***Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)

Bill Hader (Saturday Night Live)

Max Greenfield (New Girl)

Oustanding Drama Series:

Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Breaking Bad (AMC)

Downton Abbey (PBS)

Mad Men (AMC)

Homeland (Showtime)

***Game of Thrones (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series:

Julianna Margulies (The Good Wife)

***Michelle Dockery (Downton Abbey)

Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men)

Kathy Bates (Harry’s Law)

Claire Danes (Homeland)

Glenn Close (Damages)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama:

Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire)

Michael C. Hall (Dexter)

Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)

***Hugh Bonneville (Downton Abbey)

Jon Hamm (Mad Men)

Damian Lewis (Homeland)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series:

Archie Panjabi (The Good Wife)

Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad)

***Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey)

Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey)

Christina Hendricks (Mad Men)

Christine Baranski (The Good Wife)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series:

Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad)

Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad)

Brendan Coyle (Downton Abbey)

Jim Carter (Downton Abbey)

Jared Harris (Mad Men)

***Peter Dinklage (Game of Thrones)

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie:

Game Change (HBO)

***American Horror Story (FX)

Hemingway & Gellhorn (HBO)

Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia (Masterpiece) (PBS)

Luther (BBC America)

Hatfields & McCoys (HISTORY)

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie:

Julianne Moore (Game Change)

***Connie Britton (American Horror Story)

Nicole Kidman (Hemingway & Gellhorn)

Emma Thompson (The Song of Lunch – Masterpiece)

Ashley Judd (Missing)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie:

Woody Harrelson (Game Change)

Clive Owen (Hemingway & Gellhorn)

***Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia – Masterpiece)

Idris Elba (Luther)

Kevin Costner (Hatfields & McCoys)

Bill Paxton (Hatfields & McCoys)

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie:

Sarah Paulson (Game Change)

Frances Conroy (American Horror Story)

***Jessica Lange (American Horror Story)

Judy Davis (Page Eight – Masterpiece)

Mare Winningham (Hatfields & McCoys)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie:

Ed Harris (Game Change)

***Dennis O’Hare (American Horror Story)

David Strathairn (Hemingway & Gellhorn)

Martin Freeman (Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia – Masterpiece)

Tom Berenger (Hatfields & McCoys)

Outstanding Variety Series:

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)

The Colbert Report (Comedy Central)

Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)

***Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Jimmy Kimmel Live (ABC)

Late Night With Jimmy Fallon (NBC)

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program:

So You Think You Can Dance (FOX)

The Amazing Race (CBS)

Dancing With The Stars (ABC)

Top Chef (Bravo)

Project Runway (Lifetime)

***The Voice (NBC)

Outstanding Host For A Reality-Competition Program:

Cat Deeley (So You Think You Can Dance)

Phil Keoghan (The Amazing Race)

Ryan Seacrest (American Idol)

***Betty White (Betty White’s Off Their Rockers)

Tom Bergeron (Dancing With The Stars)

 

 

 

 

 

Rejection Review

One literary agent recently tweeted about how some authors she rejected for representation have emailed her about how successful they are despite her having rejected them.

Can you say unprofessional?

Rejection is hard.  Very, very, very hard.  Take it from someone who has gotten A LOT of rejection letters from agents.  Back when I wrote my first manuscript, I even harbored a secret desire to do what those unprofessional writers did and to email those agents who rejected me.

But I didn’t.

Even when an agent rejects Halfling in my quest for representation, I don’t hold a grudge against them or tweet about how that specific agent rejected me as I’ve seen other aspiring writers do.  It’s not just about not being rude.   It’s about being professional.

So whether you’re on your own quest for representation, or already have representation, or have just happened to stumble upon this blog post, here are my rejection DOs and DON’Ts:

DON’T be surprised if you’ve queried a particular agent/agency for one project and they said no, that they’ll say no again to a different project you query.

DON’T email, call, direct message the specific agent/agency that rejected you.  As the saying goes, no means no.

DON’T tweet, Facebook, use any other social media tool where you call-out the specific agent/agency for rejecting you.  I’m coming to realize from my growing Twitter-obsession that there are many, many reasons why they might reject you, some of which are completely out of your control.

DON’T think that just because your book becomes popular, that the agents/agencies that rejected you are regretting their decision not to represent your work.  Some might, but they all have their own authors they’re looking out for and you’re not one of them.

DO keep track of your rejections for your own records.  If you’re really trying to get an agent, then chances are that you’ve sent out a lot of queries; knowing who you sent queries out to and who said no will help for the next time you may seek representation (see the first DON’T).  It will also help you from being paranoid that they’ve all said no when you might be still be waiting to hear back from quite a few.

DO your research and learn from those who rejected you.  Follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their blogs, just stay connected because they are valuable resources regarding getting published and getting an agent.  You’ll also better understand where they’re coming from, and how they read queries and book proposals.

DO know your options.  All queried out and no one was interested?  Don’t let that get you down.  The publishing industry is quickly changing to allow writers greater opportunity to self-publish their work. Amazon Kindle, NOOK ePub, and CreateSpace all allow writers to publish their work electronically.  You can have your book available for purchase in minutes.

DO be professional!  In other words, don’t act like the little kid no one picked for their team.  Publishing is an industry, and by wanting to get published you’re trying to get into the industry.  Don’t sabotage your chances by acting petty.

My Query Do-Over

When I started sending out queries last month,  I thought my query was pretty good.  Now after being on Twitter and reading literary agents’ blogs and tweets, I’m rethinking how good I thought it was.

*KICKS SELF IN LEG FOR NOT REVISING QUERY EARLIER*

I read agents’ blogs about queries they receive and what they’re looking for in a stand-out query in terms of plot description, and I immediately think about the mistakes I made in mine and slap myself in the forehead.

The following is the original I sent to agents with my comments on how I could improve it.

Strange things have been brewing in the shadows of Salem, Massachusetts for years and they are about to come out in the open.

Eden Sera has spent her life with her head down trying to get through high school as painlessly as possible.  But when she starts to hear voices she realizes she isn’t that girl anymore.  She’s a Halfling, a person with angel or demon bloodlines.  Every Halfling has different powers; some can teleport while others are clairvoyant.  Watching over the Halflings are Guardians, older Halflings born to protect and guide the younger generation.

COMMENTS: How is her hearing voices relevant to her finding out she’s a Halfling?  Why are these voices important?

Soon Eden realizes she lives in a world she never knew existed.  A world of magic and supernatural creatures that roam the streets seemingly unnoticed by humans.  Eden learns that she’s different from anyone else in this world, more different than any other Halfling because she has two bloodlines: one angel and one demon.  Not just any demon either: a succubus.

COMMENTS: How are these supernatural creatures able to go unnoticed?  How does her being half-angel and half-demon make her unique from other Halflings?  Why is it important, and is there significance to her being a succubus?

As Eden struggles to gain control over her new abilities and adjust to her new life, a teacher is found murdered with demon blood in his office.  Now Eden and her friends are on a mission to uncover the mystery behind the murder.  What they don’t realize is that they’re about to dig up the secrets hiding in the town.  Secrets involving a demon named Wishmaker, a portal to hell, and Eden.

CONCLUDING COMMENTS: The query could use with some more meaty description to make this more of a stand-out.

That in mind, I revised the description to the following:

Eden Sera realized her seventeenth birthday would be different the moment her English teacher turned into a demon and sparks flew out of Eden’s fingers.

On her seventeenth birthday, Eden not only finds out that she’s adopted but that she’s a Halfling, a person with angel or demon bloodlines.  Most Halflings have one parent who is an angel or a demon, and one human parent.  Every Halfling has different powers; some can teleport while others can invade dreams.  Watching over Halflings are Guardians, older Halflings born to protect and guide the younger generation.  After Eden’s English teacher incident, Paul Sprig, the school’s guidance counselor, reveals he’s her Guardian sent to take her to live with other Halflings in Salem.

Soon Eden realizes she lives in a world she never knew existed.  A world of magic and supernatural creatures that roam the streets protected by glamour, a magic that allows them to hide their true selves.  Eden learns that she’s different from anyone else in this world, more different than any other Halfling because her father is an angel and her mother a demon.  Being half-angel and half-demon gives Eden more power and also attracts individuals with supernatural abilities, “supes”, to her, curious that an angel-demon Halfling exists when most are thought dead.

As Eden struggles to gain control over her new abilities and adjust to her new life, a teacher is found murdered with demon blood in his office.  Now Eden and her friends are on a mission to uncover the mystery behind the murder.  What they don’t realize is that they’re about to dig up the secrets hiding in the town.  Secrets involving a wish-granting demon, a portal to hell, and Eden.

July Summer Reading

The books I’ve read so far in July:

Danse Macabre by Laurell K. Hamilton…Photo Source Wikipedia

 

I’m currently reading this book, the 14th in the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, as part of my 2012 New Year’s resolution that I would read the Anita Blake series until I’m caught up with the most recent one.  I have a feeling this resolution will carry over into 2013 given the rate I read these books.  See my dilemma with the Anita Blake books is that while I love them, they are very long and I am kind of a slow reader.  They are also books that I can’t read in sprints; if I’m going to read one of them I need to set aside a few days and commit to finishing it or else it falls into my To-Read shelf on Goodreads, AKA the why-aren’t-you-reading-more shelf.

 

Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gatlin…Photo Source amazon.com

 

Yes, that is the actual title of the book.  I decided to read the book after I found out that the book-inspired show, GCB, wouldn’t be returning for a second season.  I loved the show, so I read the book to try not to dwell on how the show got the axe.

I realized early into the book that while the book provided inspiration for the show, the show is not based on the actual events of the book for the most part.  I’d say the show was very loosely based on the book.  The show not only changed most of the characters’ names, but also their stories and personalities.

Changes aside, I really liked the book.  It’s a nice summer beach read or lazy afternoon read.  I’m not embarrassed to say that I like Jane Austen, but what I like most about Austen’s works are the social politics especially between the female characters.  What I liked most about Good Christian Bitches was that it reminded me of a modern-day Texas Jane Austen novel.

 

Bared to You by Sylvia Day…Photo Source barnesandnoble.com

 

When you open the front cover of Bared to You, you see a couple pages of praise for the book in the form of quotes from different people.  A number of these quotes reference how on the surface the plot is very similar to Fifty Shades of Grey but is in fact much darker and more intriguing.  I read the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, and I can see the similarities between the two.  Both involve a recent college grad entering into their first entry-level job post-college.  Both first-person female narrators quickly become involved with billionaire dark and seemingly dangerous type CEOs with control issues.  Both have multiple graphic scenes.

Bared to You is not, however, the same as Fifty Shades of Grey.  The narrator, Eva, in Bared to You, is a lot darker and more damaged than Anastasia having *SPOILER* been repeatedly raped by her stepbrother when she was younger.  She’s a character with issues and that makes her more complex than Anastasia.  I also like that Eva isn’t afraid to call Gideon out when he’s out of line whereas Anastasia is a little too submissive, no pun intended.  There’s also more of a sense of struggle for Eva and Gideon to maintain their relationship given their pasts, and seeing the pair struggle to overcome those obstacles makes this an addictive book.

Bad-Mouthing Books

Some want to ban this book… Photo Source Wikipedia

I follow Sherman Alexie on Twitter, and I read his tweet about how some parents are trying to ban his book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.  He cites articles written by Ann Bowdan at WLKY.com and Peggy Aulisio at SouthCoastToday.com that explain why parents are outraged at his book.  He also rightly calls out the reporters for writing articles that don’t mention the actual content of the book in response to the parents’ perceptions of the book.

I read both articles.  I think Bowdan and Aulisio need to go back to Journalism 101 because their articles do not read as though written by unbiased reporters.  Both focus much of the articles explaining how this book has upset parents, but Bowdan and Aulisio do not highlight the opposing side of the argument enough nor do they appear to find out if any of the claims about the book are true.  Even if they didn’t want to pick up the book and read it, all they had to do was some thorough Internet research to realize the claims are not an accurate portrayal of the book’s content.  As a result, both articles read more like neighborhood gossip columns than actual news stories.

One of my personal favorite quotes from the Aulisio article is from Ms. Elliott who states “‘There’s a lot of books like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ that would generate some worthy discussion and have literary merit.’”  One, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian has won several major literary awards enough that yeah, I think it qualifies as having “literary merit.”  Two, what’s her definition of “worthy discussion”?

Now before I get to three, I have to mention that The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian did make ALA’s list of the Top Ten Most Frequently Challenged Books of 2011.  But what else made that list?  Well, what do you know?  To Kill a Mockingbird is on that list too!

I can’t stand it when people try to keep books like The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian out of the classroom.  Books that not only deserve to be there but need to be read.  I work in schools and the reasons behind the hesitation to include such books – “offensive language,” “insensitivity,” “racism” – I find ridiculous.  If individuals who want to ban books actually bothered to spend time around students and immerse themselves in student culture, they’d realize that books are not going to plant “offensive language” or “racism” because those things already exist in students’ minds and they did not come from the books they read.  Instead these books are going to get students to think because these books are ones that students actually want to read and want to talk about in class.

A group of students read both Old Man and the Sea and The Hunger Games this year as part of an English class.  They hated The Old Man and the Sea, finding the story dull and pointless.  When they had to write a paper about it, the paper became like a dementor.  But they loved The Hunger Games to the point where they didn’t have to be told to read because they had finished the book and were moving onto the next.  I didn’t see an ounce of resilience when it came time to write the paper or do any related assignment.

If people are so hung up on banning books because there’s swearing or teenage sexuality or some other reason, then they need to go back to school themselves if that’s the first thing that enters their minds.  Students are lot smarter and a lot more aware of the world than most people think.  Give them some credit and let them read in peace.

In Quest of Representation

Lately I’ve been feeling like I need a brown paper bag to hyperventilate into.  In terms of agents I queried for Halfling, I’ve heard back from about half and am still waiting to hear back from the other half. 

Now that I’m at the halfway mark with agent responses, I’m starting to freak out.  BIG TIME.

See, here’s the thing I hate about queries: queries are supposed to be short summaries of what the book is about.  The right summary is crucial to a query with pertinent information about not only the synopsis of the story but also what makes it interesting.  Summary, however, has never been one of my strengths.

I’ve recently become addicted to the blog SlushPileTales.  I love reading the QueryDice section where each week an author’s query is critiqued minus any identifying information.  The QueryDice comments are extremely helpful, need-to-keep-in-mind insights into how an agent reads a query.  I suggest anyone trying to get an agent to represent their work should check out this blog.

Although I love the blog, QueryDice kind of makes me paranoid about my own query.  I’m instinctively critical of all my work, Halfling query included.  Reading the comments on other people’s queries makes me wonder if this agent will think similar thoughts when they read mine.  Will they think I didn’t explain the world I set the story in enough for them to request more material?  Will they be wondering why it’s so important that this Eden character is half-angel and half-demon?  And the biggest question of all: will they ask to see more material or will they reject?  *I really hope they don’t reject*

I can only wait at this point.  Wait and pray and cross my fingers.  Lots of praying and finger crossing.

Summer is for Supernatural (Shows)

I love summer with the weather, food, beach, and the sun not setting until late.  But I also love summer for the television.  Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like networks love to fill time slots with shows, new or returning, that have some sort of supernatural/sci-fi/fantasy element to them.

Last summer came the premiere of Teen Wolf on MTV, Alphas on Syfy, Falling Skies on TNT, and The Nine Lives of Chloe King on ABC Family.  In summer 2010, The Gates premiered on ABC and Haven on Syfy.  Before that were other summer-born shows such as Kyle XY (2006), Fear Itself (2006), Nightmares and Dreamscapes (2006), and Warehouse 13 (2009).

Just like characters in a horror movie, not all the shows survived.  The Gates lasted only one season, probably partly due to the overextended, somewhat repetitious, story lines.  The premise was intriguing: a gated community catered to supernatural individuals.  There were vampires, werewolves, witches, and a succubus!  I enjoyed the show, but by the end of the season I was hoping for more development in terms of the characters and the plot.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King was another show to get the axe according to my Google search.  This was another show I liked, especially because Skylar Samuels (who played the succubus Andie on The Gates the summer before) was cast as Chloe King.  I enjoy seeing how actors go from one supernatural character to the next, and I thought Samuels did a great job so I wasn’t sitting there watching Nine Lives thinking Chloe is Andie 2.0.  Acting aside, I enjoyed watching the show for the story and when the last episode aired, it was clear there was potential for a second season.  When I found out there wasn’t going to be a second season, I was disappointed.  You just don’t end a series with a bunch of people lying on the floor and you don’t know if they’re dead or alive.

As for the shows that survived their first season of summer camp, I’d recommend checking them out because they’re worth a watch.  One of the summer babies I’m addicted to is Teen Wolf.  Ignore the title because it’s not based off the cheesy 1980s movie with the same name.  Instead, it’s a dark, edgy teen drama about a boy, Scott, who gets bitten by a werewolf and consequently becomes one.  The first season highlighted Scott trying to deal with his transition as well as navigating his relationship with new girl Allison whose family happens to hunt monsters, including werewolves.  The show is currently in the second season which focuses on Scott and Allison struggling to keep their relationship together when her family has basically declared war against werewolves.  The other characters are also dealing with the fallout from the events of the first season as well as the introduction of a new shape-shifter.

Whether you’re looking for a new show to get into, or missing one of the ones that won’t be returning, this summer is shaping up to be one for the supes.

The Gates closed its doors after only one season…Photo Source Wikipedia

Nine Lives ended too soon…Photo Source ABC Family