Category Archives: Monkey Miscellany

Monkey Malfunction

Gah! If you follow this blog and just received an utterly random post from me, my sincerest simian sorry. That was an ages-old post that somehow made its way from Rubbish to Published as I conduct a little blog maintenance, and I did not mean to toss it into your inboxes again. I’m not even quite sure what it says and am a little scared to look.

But, apparently, I’m not the only sock monkey with issues:

šŸ˜‰


State of the Zoo-nion Address 2015

Image from cafepress.com

Image from cafepress.com

Greetings, my fellow Simians.
Perhaps I’ve been binge-watching too much Homeland lately, but today, I am compelled to once again brief you on my current state of affairs as your faithful Primate President, as well as a Reader, Writer, and Editor.

First, I’d like to make a motion that we conduct our US zoological elections more like they do in the UK, with primary–I mean,Ā primate–election campaigning limited to four months instead of an absurd two years. It’s enough that they’ve entrusted our species with the great responsibility of protecting their limited freedoms within our limited abilities (we’re all in cages, after all, so there’s only so much we can do, am I right?). But from the lion’s den to the penguin sanctuary, animals zoo-wide are crying (or roaring, or squawking, or squeaking, or spitting–looking at you, lamas) for us to waste less time throwing our feces and bribing each other with bananas and spend more on addressing the primate–I mean,Ā primary–issues we all face. For instance, zoo opening hours have been extended to far too late, and really? Stringing up the zoo with fairy lights in winter means we can’t get the holidays off now, either? Humans have become too handsy with our habitats as well, reaching between our bars, fingerprinting our plexiglass, and throwing too much inedible waste our way. We must also battle against the discrimination still plaguing our gift shops and wall murals, in which the same animals are represented over and over again. We monkeys have had more than our fair share of the limelight, and the tigers, elephants, giraffes, and flamingos have grown increasingly vocal in their frustration, too, with the paparazzi attention such exposure continually wreaks upon them. But we must acknowledge the joys, too, in what we have taken for granted, so I want the more obscure species among us to exalt in that recognition as well someday. The crowned lemurs, the Inca terns, the Sichuan takins–they, oh yes, they will have their day to shine. Maybe even literally, if they can get onto one of those glow-stick thingies the shops are selling now, you know, with the LED lights and thingamabobs sticking out and spinning around for no other purpose than looking really cool in the dark and getting kids to stop crying. All this and more lies before us as achievable realities, not mere cow-pie-in-the-sky fancies.

In other current events, as of this week I have the honor of beta-reading the English translation of author Ellen Dunne‘s manuscript. Ellen was one of my very first blog buddies when The Fallen Monkey was instituted in 2010, and it’s been amazing to follow each others’ writing journeys, celebrating successes and persevering through challenges. She has since published two novels (both in German but hopefully translated soon!) and the English-language short story “Cigarette Break,” which I’ve read and highly recommend. In the pipeline are two more novel-length manuscripts (also translated), one of which I’ve got loaded on my Kindle, ready to go! I also recently read an ARC of Shani Struther’s The Return (book three in The Runaway Series, though it works well as a standalone), which was released today and also comes with my recommendations.

As for my own schtuff, I am not as prolific as the talented and creative Ellen and Shani, but I’m of course thrilled to have a debut novel and novelette see the light of day in the past year. And after much (much,Ā much) revision and querying, Manuscript #1 is finally finding acceptance out there. So in the coming weeks, I’ll be weighing my options. Meanwhile, I’m querying a novelette-length urban fantasy, too, and am writing my next novel-length romance of sorts.

On the editing front, I’ve reached a blessed standstill. After a year of reviewing roughly fifty manuscripts in an acquisitions capacity, I’m now back to concentrating on developmental editing—but at a pace that I can better balance with my writing and other life obligations. Last year was very intense for both personal and professional reasons, so 2015 finds me in a state closer to equilibrium. Here’s to a brighter year for you, too. šŸ™‚

*waves and steps down from behind the exhibit information plaque serving as podium*

 


NaNo Nuh-Uh

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!

Whoa, boy. What’s going on. Has the Monkey finally lost it? Did she ever have it to begin with?

Never fear, my resounding guffaw is simply me laughing in the face of my past self who actually thought she’d be doing NaNoWriMo this year. What? Really? HAHAHAHAHAHAAA! Who did you think you were kidding, girl?

Sad but true, I had to opt out. Again. And it’s killin’ me. But editing duty calls, and I am fully realizing the curse that is the otherwise-blessing of being both a writer and editor. Were I still in finance, shifting from numbers to writing after the workday would’ve been an easy enough if not hugely therapeutic way to decompress (I wish I did write back then). Were I still a teacher, I would admittedly still struggle to balance writing with the day-job like I do now since that’s an occupation where the work never ends, even after that last-period bell has rung. But I still dappled in freewriting and such back then as, again, a therapeutic way to shift gears and do what I love.

But as an editor…I spend all day every day troubleshooting story issues and thinking through different ways to rephrase sentences for other people’s manuscripts, so it’s not exactly a welcome relief to then jump into troubleshooting and thinking through mine. I need a break. I need to get away from the computer. I need to not brainstorm story ideas and sort out developmental stumbling blocks. Often, I don’t even want to read an already-published book because the activity is still too similar to what I do all day—and as it is, what I curl up with at night is usually just another raw manuscript that I’m reading on the Kindle and taking notes on so I can brainstorm its future plan of attack. Yes, that, after working on another story at the computer all day. So the most writing I do these days is in my head while I’m doing something else. It’s just kinda how it has to be, at least for now when I’m up against dueling deadlines.

Anyway. I didn’t mean to make this whole post a primate pity party. I’m so, so lucky to have the work that I do and to still have the ideas and drive to write my own stuff. And if I haven’t been writing anything new, I’ve actually been making good progress revising my original Manuscript #1 this month. And editing other people’s work is always a great way to hedge against mine sucking. I can still live vicariously through other writers’ talent. šŸ™‚

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, huzzah! Bravo! Keep it up! Don’t lose steam! You’re over halfway there, and crossing the finish line is so sweet. Good job, and write on.

 


crA-Z at A-Z

APRIL-CALENDAR [2014]

Hey there, Woodchuck Chuckers! It’s the Monk-monk Monkey, reporting back to duty after a loooong spell. I’ve actually been the opposite of inactive lately. First of all, due to the impending release of my debut novel, my social media energies have been focused on building my pen name’s brand.

But because I was such a slackass over at that blog, too, I decided to hop on board the April 2014 A to Z Challenge to build some momentum. So if you’d like to join me over there, Rumer’s been ruminating all month over the A to Zs of 1920s slang:

rumerhaven.blogspot.com

A2Z-BADGE [2014] - Support - small

Aside from that, things have finally gotten rolling on the editing front. Due to scheduling conflicts, my original editor had to reassign my manuscript to someone else, whom I’m just as pleased to have help me strengthen and polish my story. If all goes to plan, we should see the final result in August this year.

And where editing other authors’ work goes, it’s still been full-steam ahead. Piping hot steam, in fact, as I keep chug-a-chuggin’ through a stream of submissions. In the next month or two, I’ll be answering questions over at Nicki Elson’s Not-So-Deep Thoughts blog for her next “Ask an Editor” installment, so I’ll keep you posted. And if you have any additional questions not answered there, I’m more than glad to field them here.

Meanwhile, I’ve been saying it for a long time, but I’m still thinking about returning to my writing prompt roots at this blog since a lot of my writing experience will be logged over at Rumer Has It instead. I really need the kick in the primate pants to write some fresh fiction, much as I did when I created this blog in the first place. So we’ll see if I hold myself to that…

…After all, one of those writing prompts led to a short story that first featured here and at the Real Bloggers United blog (RIP to that one; it was fun while it lasted) but has since been published in Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s 2013 Beyond the Pillars fantasy anthology:

“She Who is Milk White”

CKWagner_She Who is Milk White

I also just found out this weekend that my contest-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” has been accepted for publication. More on that as details develop…

So what have you kiddos been up to? I’ve missed you! Please do swing by and catch me up on your happenings, and call on dear Rumer, too, at her humble abode.

*Monkey Mmwah!*


The Raiders Strike Back

Shirt Woot!

This leaves me screechless as one of the best things I have EVER. SEEN.


Slap Happy


To be mid-thirties and still getting toys for Christmas…magic.

(Thanks, Mom! :))

And that video is what I’m feeling like in these young months of 2013. In a good way. Slappy…but happy.

I know it’s been a looong time, and if you’re still with me, I love you for your loyalty. Thanks for havin’ a monkey’s back. And now I hate to inundate you with a laundry list of all I’ve been up to, but we’ve got some catching up to do since my last post.

First of all, I discontinued my writing services as a web content writer. This isn’t to say I wouldn’t take on new projects, just that I’m done with the old and not presently soliciting new. Should any fall in my lap with no douchebag-SEO-guy strings attached and the content requested sounds meaningful and fun, awesome.

Second of all, I’ve since then thrown myself into my editing work and recommenced my querying process—for my first manuscript, yes, but also some short stories I’ve had lying around and collecting dust on my hard-drive. It’s been a much more pleasant process since my discovery of Duotrope. Why in hell has it taken me this long to know about it? If I’m at least still one step ahead of you, allow me to expound my new-found knowledge: the site allows you to filter through a comprehensive listing of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry markets (~4,500 of ’em) based on your criteria (e.g., genre, word count, etc.).

In any case, it’s been a lovely time getting reacquainted with my shorter pieces of fiction, but, alas, I haven’t been doing much new writing lately. For shame, I know, but I’ve been editing multiple manuscripts back-to-back. My workload in this respect has significantly increased since agreeing to assist with editorial direction on fresh acceptances as well, which is much quicker turnaround apiece but still a crapload of reading, analyzing, and plan writing.

I don’t know, maybe I kill myself too much over them, but I care, gol’ damn it. I know it’s not my name that’ll be attached to a book in the end and that it’s usually very different from my own writing, but I strike up lovely little synergies with these authors, and, in the end, a lil’ piece of me is in that book. I’m there in spirit, existing in the syntax and idea development. I might be the reason a description really enhances a setting or character, or that POV is third-person limited and not omniscient. I might be why that villain exhibits vulnerability rather than a caricature of evil intent. I might be the one blasting a hose of cold water on the fiery libidos of two love interests, asking them to please keep it in their pants until at least the next chapter. Or I might be why lush summer gardens fade to blustery winter landscapes when the original time frame doesn’t sync. And perhaps I’ll be why an adult paranormal novel becomes new-adult contemporary, as I reduce characters’ ages to something commensurate with their behavior and situations…and save the world from one merman story at a time.

And I will always be why a writer feels good about his or her work in the end. Because for as much grunt work as I can take credit for, it ultimately has to stay in keeping with the author’s vision and style. They are the ones who provide the clay to work with. As two of them recently emailed me:

“[T]hank you so much for the kind words. As someone with the fragile writer’s ego, I appreciate them!”

“Just wanted to thank you for all the wonderfully encouraging comments and smiley faces. Ā As a writer […] there have been many moments when I reread my own stuff and thought, ‘this is terrible.’ I can’t tell you how gratifying and inspiring it is to view the parts you particularly enjoyed as I revise.”

It’s such a special collaboration to be a part of, and I look forward to (hope for) the opportunity to experience this process from the other side someday.

As for someone who already has walked that wild side of publication for her second time now, I’d be remiss not to close on the very happy news of my sister’s latest book! Divine Temptationa paranormal romance and Nicki Elson‘s second novel—is fresh off the presses as of last week:

Maggie Brock has everything under controlā€¦until an angel shows up in her bedroom.

God speed to this good read!

And now—with a *slap* *slap* to both of my cheeks—time to happily get on with my work. šŸ™‚


Do not attempt to adjust your television – er, computer monitor…

* * BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP * *

This blog is currently on hiatus.

The Primate has been on loan to a zoo overseas for the past month and is going ape-sh*t over other commitments.

Please stay tuned for The Fallen Monkey’s winter season line-up, though, when it returns to its irregular schedule.

Same Monkey Time. Same Monkey Channel.

*


What the World Needs Now is More Awesome Asian Bad Guys


This blog first and foremost exists as an outlet for my ramblings on writing and editing and very, very rarely for promotion. I do, however, like to give shout-outs now and then to my writer friends and their achievements—especially when I find they’re friends in need. And today, that friend is one who I affectionately and very offensively know as Jaundice, just as he endearingly calls me White Devil.

Friends and former coworkers from a past life in financial consulting, both of us eventually pulled a 180 in our careers—as I left our company to become an English teacher, he left to join an independent film company. One night back in our Chicago days, we were sipping (tossing back) whiskey somewhere on Lincoln Ave. and discussing story ideas. I told him about one I’d thought of but never developed for a grad class. He liked it, and I gave him my full blessing to take the concept and flesh it out into a film script. Which he did. And went on to win the Tribeca Film Festival award for best screenplay. He had kept my original title, and I’d even let this dude read my high school diary as insight for the protagonist. I received the journal back filled with Post-It notes. Clearly, he’d been thorough. Clearly, I have zero pride left.

Anyway, my dear JaundiceĀ is presently reddening that yellowish pallor of his in super excitement over a prospective webseries he’s written and which has drawn known talent. The remaining issue at hand, unfortunately—which must oh-so often be the case in that biz—is funding. I’ll paste his message below to tell you the rest:

The National Film Society are these guys I know that have a deal with PBSĀ and they came to me with a great idea for a webseries called Awesome AsianĀ Bad Guys.Ā  It’s a take on all those Asian Bad Guys from 80s and 90s films toĀ bring them together.Ā  I wrote the script and am also producing it.

And we actually have a bunch of those Asian actors including Al Leong (DieĀ Hard, Lethal Weapon, Bill & Ted’s), Yuji Okumoto (Karate Kid 2), TamlynĀ Tomita (Karate Kid 2 and Joy Luck Club).Ā  We also have Randall Park who hasĀ a stint on The Office this season:

http://www.nbc.com/the-office/video/dwight-meets-asian-jim/1419665

… and Aaron Takahashi who’s in a bunch of commercials.

We’ve started a Kickstarter to raise $50,000.Ā  This is a lot of money, butĀ it’s for 5 episodes so we can do a complete series with real productionĀ values, plus there is the cost of the Kickstarter rewards (which are prettyĀ cool).

Thanks to over 400 backers, we’ve raised almost $32,000 so far. However, we stillĀ need about $18k to reach the $50K goal by October 11th. If we don’t hit itĀ in time, no one’s credit card will be charged, and we won’t get any of theĀ money.

Raising $18K in the next 3 days might sound impossible, but most KickstarterĀ projects actually raise most of their funds within the last week. YouTube,Ā Tribeca, Ain’t It Cool News and IndieWire have promoted us, and other peopleĀ have done the same.

I was just profiled in Angry Asian Man (which is appropriate — and I talkedĀ about my Mom):

http://blog.angryasianman.com/2012/10/angry-reader-of-week-milton-liu.html

Yuji just made a video on his own for us:

http://youtu.be/NDNyUwcQq9E

Please take a look at the Kickstarter page, and anything you can give wouldĀ be appreciated.Ā  Seriously, even $1 helps the momentum with onlineĀ influencers and bloggers.

http://kck.st/OnEVwR

And if you can share the link on your Facebook and/or Twitter, that would beĀ great.

Thanks!Ā  We’re looking forward to making this in January and wouldĀ love for you to be a part of this.

So, if anyone’s keen to give a dollar to help fuel a fellow writer’s goals, check out the Kickstarter site and/or share it with others you think would like to help an Asian brutha’ out. [cue heartrending Sarah McClachlan music in background] With your sponsorship, one less Awesome Asian Bad Guy in the world has to senselessly die too soon in an action movie.

Hi-YAH! Judo CHOP!!

*


Pathetic Much?

Books to be returned...

(Photo credit: hashmil)

Go figure my last post on “productivity” should date back to over a month ago. Hm. Sure, we writers don’t have to write every day, but maybe we bloggers should post more frequently than every six weeks. Sorry, folks. Thanks for sticking with me if you’re still out there. šŸ™‚

As per usual, I’m full of excuses, excuses. Back-to-back writing and editing projects have proven more of a workload than I’d anticipated, and my personal writing projects have suffered for it. And summer is not proving helpful so far as hosting and traveling has predictably kicked into high gear. One unanticipated trip I recently took was home to Chicago—a force larger than myself compelled me to go, I think, as I couldn’t stop dreaming night after night about going there and hugging my family. Waking up was never so tragic. So thank you, frequent flyer miles.

The price I paid for that, though, was the hectic situation that was returning just before taking in another visitor, a former student of mine whom I’d taught as a freshman in high school and will now be a sophomore in college. But it was so special to have that time together and introduce her to the literary and historical wonders of London, and we experienced a phenomenal performance of Les Miserables last night. As she departs for Chicago today, I leave for Paris tomorrow for a week-long working holiday—or “worliday,” as one journalist so obnoxiously put it, considering that, to me, the concept of “working holiday” is obnoxious in itself. Yet, alas, often necessary. At the very least, my husband and I will finally have an easy enough getaway for just the two of us (perhaps sipping a little absinthe in a few old Hemingway haunts) while still keeping on top of real life.

And THEN we return to the Olympics. Tickets to volleyball, basketball, and track & field, two of which my in-laws are coming in town to view as well. After a week hosting them in London, we’ll travel with them a week in Istanbul. Another worliday, I expect. Then two weeks after that this selfish bastard finally caters to someone other than herself by volunteering a few days in southern England for Honeypot, a children’s charity that provides respite breaks for child carers—i.e., gives some semblance of childhood to those who’ve had to grow up too fast. I’m also initiating the process for a potential return to the classroom this fall as an English teacher, short or long-term TBD. Well, all of it TBD, really. Just exploring options.

Amidst all of this, I can’t determine when. To. Write. It’s awful, I know, and maybe I should have my “writer” membership card revoked. But you know what I’ve been escaping to in the meantime, whenever IĀ can catch a break? Books. I’ve been reading again and reading often and reinforcing if not rediscovering my love of it. It helps me as a writer, sure, as reading does for us all, but it’s also become a source of great comfort in view of that challenging writing and publication process. As long as reading books still gives me joy, I won’t despair if I myself never publish one. As long as I can appreciate the talent of other writers, I won’t lament if my own talent never develops to their calibre. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying—oh, HELL no! IĀ love writing, and I still have characters and situations swarming around in my head that need a place on the page. I’m set to begin querying again on manuscript #1 and hope I can get manuscript #2 ready for it, too, by autumn. My writing life goes on, that’s for sure; I’m simply saying it won’t die an agonizing death if doesn’t go beyond my computer.

On a side note, the small publisher I edit for has just seen one of its titles make the New York Times Best Seller list and another climb to an #11 Amazon rank in its category on Kindle (#23 for the print book), which is exciting and promising for the joy I reap from editing as well!

“So long as books are open, minds can never be closed,” Ronald Reagan once said, and so long as my mind is open and life full, there will always be ideas for what to write next.


Ahhh…Thanks. I Needed That.

Two little gems found their way into my Inbox today. Rather than me paraphrase their marvelously refreshing perspectives (no time), I’ll leave it to their words. But, really, as a writer, professional, and human being, if you value your time, priorities, and sanity in the least bit, please do follow these links to read both articles.

Because honestly, in the midst of a hectic week, I am shouting from the rooftops a big huge freaking THANK YOU for someone just effing saying what I’ve long insisted to myself yet have dismissed as lazy excuses. Amidst the humming neuroses of others, let’s fight the good fight to keep it real.

Real Writers Write Every Day – from The Editor’s Blog

Excerpt:

You do not need to write every day to be a real writer.

Pilots donā€™t turn into non-pilots if they donā€™t fly for a day or a week. Surgeons are still surgeons after a weekā€™s vacation.

Thereā€™s nothing magical about writing daily that endows the titleĀ writerĀ yet takes it away if a writer doesnā€™t put pen to paper during a 24-hour period. Writers may be different from other folk, but writing is no wooey-wacky profession. You donā€™t have to give more to it than is required to do the job, to fulfill the contract, to finish the manuscript.

Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning – from the Harvard Business Review Blog Network

Excerpt:

[W]e try to speed up to match the pace of the action around us. We stay up until 3 am trying to answer all our emails. We twitter, we facebook, and we link-in. We scan news websites wanting to make sure we stay up to date on the latest updates. And we salivate each time we hear the beep or vibration of a new text message.

The speed with which information hurtles towards us is unavoidable (and it’s getting worse). But trying to catch it all is counterproductive. The faster the waves come, the more deliberately we need to navigate. Otherwise we’ll get tossed around like so many particles of sand, scattered to oblivion. Never before has it been so important to be grounded and intentional and to know what’s important.

Never before has it been so important to say “No.”

Hear, hear! Now I can exhale a bit.


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