Monday, October 30, 2006


Byline: Chelle LaFleur -- Typos

All right, all right. Leave me alone already.

Over the past few days and don't ask my fat ass to count them, people, I've gotten more e-mail from you readers than I have in the past six months combined. And you're all whining about two stupid mistakes.

I'll own up to one of them. I forgot to add the letter S on the end of the magazine title the other day. But can you blame a girl? I was all caught up in that picture -- it is still, at this moment, making me fan myself with a funeral fan I found in the bottom of my desk. Thank God for funerals, boys and girls! And so what if I decided that this issue of guitar gods ought to be about one and only?

As for the capital letters, don't be blaming me for that. I read guitar gods magazine every quarter. I know darn well they have this thing for lower case letters.

No. If you want to blame that on someone, you go blame it on my copy editor, who now has about three back issues featuring guys I never liked anyway, like that tribute to Jim Shields once he finally gave in to the AIDS, sitting on her desk, teaching her that screwing up like she did just makes old Chelle even nastier than usual.

Speaking of nasty, who's the smarty-artie who sent me that nasty t-shirt last week?

You heard it first, you heard it here, and this time, you heard it right. guitar god magazine featuring the very godlike Mitchell Voss. On sale in two more days.

Can you stand it?

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Sunday, October 29, 2006


Music talk: A quick get-well

Just wanted to wish a public get-well to Jason Newsted, who has long been one of my musical heroes and who I will probably always think of as one of the world's most photogenic men.

You can find the details in the last two paragraphs of the Blabbermouth article I've linked to in my headline.

Jason, as you recover, how about firing up the Chophouse again and exposing us to more brilliant stuff?

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Friday, October 27, 2006


Don't be a fool!

I know that lots of us are out there, looking for literary agents. I know that a lot of times, it feels like we're competing against each other for the same person's time and energy (not to mention attention and hand-holding).

But I firmly believe that we're all in this together, folks. We all have our own slice of audience that'll be completely unique to each of us.

And because I believe that, I think we need to stick together when the scammers raise their ugly heads.

This time, it's in the form of the The International Independent Literary Agents Association (IILAA). I'm not going to post a link directly to them 'cause that'll just give them one more link at places like Technorati, and who wants to help out a bunch of scammers? (My link goes to Victoria Strauss, who I'll mention later on, so keep reading)

This is what steams me about them:
1. They claim that charging a reading fee is normal and good business practice. Yes, they sort-of have a point in that you often pay a lawyer a retainer.

BUT... not ALL lawyers ask for retainers. Many work the same way reputable agents do: They take a cut of what you win in court (granted, agents take a cut of what you earn, but you see my point). Many just send you a bill.

2. If this The International Independent Literary Agents Association (IILAA) is to be believed, there are ten agents they recommend. That's fine. But... who's number 10? They only list nine on their site.

Yes, counting to ten may be math, but it's not higher math. My kids could both do it before they were two. Most of us have ten fingers and ten toes for the express purpose of using two of the four (YOU get my higher math, right?) appendages for counting to ten.

3. They make a BIG STINK of denouncing Preditors and Editors, Writer Beware, Miss Snark, and other sites that many of us rely on for information.

4. As they denounce these people, they can't be bothered to spell some of these places properly. Hello? You're a LITERARY agency. A little show of your own LITERATE capabilities would be nice. (And let's not get into how nice it was of them, in their literary worldliness, to point out that a group called The International Independent Literary Agents Association is composed of Independent agents.)

Yeah, yeah. We all make typos. See my own post from yesterday, which invites you to capitalize on one I made. But c'mon, folks. If you're going to cut someone down, do it the right way. Those last two examples aren't even as amusing as "be a retainer," which also appears on their site, in the bit about why fees are acceptable.

If all those sites are so disreputable, why do so many of us hold what they say to be canonical? Because we're stupid? Or because we're smart enough to do the research that backs us up. Look at some blogging agents. My favorites are Agent Kristin, Lit Soup, The Rejecter, and Dystel and Goderich Literary Management. Miss Snark goes without saying.

What do these agents have in common?
1. They support the efforts of Ann, Victoria, and all the rest who are out there, keeping us abreast and warned of the scammers.
2. They're NOT on Writer Beware's list of 20 Worst Agents.
3. They don't charge fees.
4. They are careful about their typos and the way they present themselves. That many mistakes... c'mon. Would you want THEM to represent you? What would happen if they offered you a contract for a book you didn't write? You wrote Under a Blood Red Sky, not Over a Bloody Die. That doesn't even make sense, unless you play craps!

Think about it. An agent represents you. They are your face to the publishing world, at least initially. They are your advocate, your business partner.

Do your research before you commit to any agent, even the ones I listed here as the blogging agents I particularly like. This is your career, people. I've already had one bad agent in my life. I can tell you, firsthand, what a frustrating time-suck it is. And he wasn't even a fee charger. He didn't ask me to BE a retainer.

Be smart, folks. Writing is a craft, an art form, yes. But there's also a business end to it. Please don't ignore that.

/rant over

(by the way, if I've offended you and you want me to take this post down, you'll have to go through my lawyer to get me to do so. Don't say you weren't warned.)

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Thursday, October 26, 2006


Have a say in Susan's fictional world

Karen! found a typo in my previous post, so now I'm going to show my appreciation to my loyal groupies by letting you raise your voice.

Is the magazine named Guitar God or Guitar Gods, with an s?

One god, or many? (and no, don't turn this into a religious rant. I'm Jewish. There's only one God. And if you want to go all Kabbalistic, God is everything and everything is God, and that's just how it is, so deal)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Byline: Chelle LaFleur -- Autumn Leaves

Any you girls ready for a drool-fest? I've got a picture here that'll be on the cover of the November Guitar Gods magazine featuring the one and only, totally drool-icious Mitchell Voss.

And girls, this ain't no posed picture. This is the Handsome Man himself, outside, playing in the autumn leaves. I've never been sorry I don't live somewhere where the leaves change colors until I saw this picture, let me tell you. I'm ready to up and move my fat ass to Vermont, or wherever they had to go to get leaves this color so early in the season. I'm not just ready. Oh, no. This puppy's got me packed and on the road. It's that hot.

My friend Mitchell is wearing a hoody that's a pumpkin-orange, and he's actually -- can you believe this? Write this one down for posterity -- laughing. That's right. You read that right. The man can laugh. I know that's been widely speculated about and even I had doubts about it, but apparently, even if they had to stick an ice cube down the front of those delicously tight jeans, the man can at least act like he's doing it long enough for the camera to snap.

I hear from a reliable source that there's plenty more inside, including pictures of Mrs. Mitchell herself, the low-key but very famous Kerri Voss, and -- don't pass out on me now, girls -- their boys. I haven't been priveleged enough to see the rest of the spread yet, but I hear it's a doozy.

Boys, I don't know what to tell you 'cause I don't have an inkling of what's inside, or why they're running this now, during a quiet period for the band. It doesn't matter. It's ShapeShifter, and we're all missing that thunder they call music.

Start saving your pennies now. Flood the newstands; I'm told the on-sale date is November 1. Let's make this be the next in a long series of Guitar God magazines that sell out their print run. Funny, but a little bit of research tells me that of their top-ten best-selling covers, four of them have included ShapeShifter's god-like frontman. The #2 seller, Terry Fantillo, only has two in that same top ten. Seven wives, but only two covers.

Remember the on-sale date and check out that picture. I told you here, and I told you first.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006


Back at it

Trevor's Song is back on the market again.

Just thought I'd let you all know... cross your fingers, wish me luck, keep on stopping in, and tell your friends to do the same.

Look for some content changes at the website coming soon. Nothing major. Some streamlining, the new query letter, and changes to the Cast of Character pages that I think you'll like.

I'm always open to suggestions to how to make the website better. And yes, a new picture of me is in the works. But I just had my hair cut and so far, I'm not liking it. :(

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Thursday, October 19, 2006


Unpublished novelist? Take heart in this:

My book club tonight is going to discuss Jacqueline Park's The Secret Book of Grazia Dei Rossi, a historical fiction (that's utterly fascinating) based on two letters Ms. Park found about a woman named Pacienza Pontremoli and her love for a Catholic man.

Ms. Park was 72 when she published this book, her debut.

I'm not 72 yet. Many of you aspiring authors, like myself, who read this blog aren't 72 yet.

There's still time for us.

(an interesting aside -- in reading Naomi Ragen's The Ghost of Hannah Mendes, we came across a character named Grazia Dei Rossi. I haven't had time to reasearch this, but was there an actual Grazia? What's going on, that two fictional women who are very different bear the same name?)

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Sunday, October 15, 2006


The first of many

Check out Working Stiffs today for a bit of a personal blog about me...

And while you're there, bookmark it and come back often. This is quite the interesting collection of people!

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Thursday, October 12, 2006


Fiction Outtake: Quitting (the early days)

Trevor cradled his head in his arms and stared at the clouds. It was one of those days that was warm and the sun felt so good that he swore he could feel it reaching inside him and working on all those old broken bones, the ones the doctors said had healed but that hurt every now and then, anyway.

If he closed his eyes, he could imagine his body trying to repair itself. Eighteen was way too fucking young to be stuck with the scars from broken ribs, arms, and legs. Not to mention his nose; good thing Mitchell's dad knew someone who'd been able to save it from looking and acting like a mashed potato. So fucking what if it had a hook and looked like a bird's beak? It worked, it didn't hurt, and hopefully no one would break it again.

The only thing he needed to make this scene down by the river even better was a girl, soothing other parts of him. Maybe even more than one. Maybe one part per girl. Trevor had a lot of parts.

When the shadow fell over him, he knew better than to hope some higher being had agreed with his plan. It had to be Mitchell, and not just because the big idiot was probably the only other person who knew about this spot. Trevor had been waiting for Mitchell to get the news and show up. Mitchell was dependable like that.

"Why'd you do it?" Mitchell asked with a sigh before Trevor even opened his eyes.

For a second, Trevor thought about pretending to be asleep, letting Mitchell rant until he got so frustrated with Trevor's lack of response that he left. But it wouldn't be out of the blue if Mitchell tried to kick him awake, either, and wasn't he feeling some healing going on?

"I had a point to make," he finally said.

"Which was?" Mitchell sat down beside him. Trevor could picture him stretching out his legs and crossing them at the ankle, leaning back on his elbows and turning his face to the sun.

"That if people don't wake up and fucking think for themselves, they'll never get anywhere in life."

"Maybe they're right. That you can't get anywhere without a high school diploma."

"Dude," Trevor said, opening his eyes and turning his head so he could look at Mitchell -- who was, predictably, stretched out just like Trevor had imagined. "We're in a band. We've got tour dates booked. We're going places. What do we need the lies they feed us in that joint for?"

"Just in case."

Trevor snorted, making Mitchell open his left eye, the one that was now looking right at Trev. "If things are broke, you ought to fix them," he insisted.

"So fix it," Mitchell said. "Don't go running off in a huff and expect everyone to fucking get it just 'cause you tell them to."

"If you don't shake things up, no one fixes shit. You know that as well as I do."

"Maybe they don't see a problem."

Trevor shook his head. Of course he didn't expect Mitchell to get it. People liked Mitchell. And he was a Voss. If he came to school with a fresh black eye every week, no one would sit his ass down and tell him that he should take lots of shop classes because that was going to be the best he would do for himself in life.

"I don't need a fucking piece of paper to prove I'm worth something," Trevor insisted.

"So shut up and just go and be something already."

Trevor jumped to his feet. "I'm fucking trying!" he screamed. "I'm the one getting out there and lining up gigs for us! I'm the one kissing ass and trying to figure out the fucking contracts and all that other happy shit that goes along with this! The way you three pussies act, I'm the only one who cares about this band!"

"That's because you're the only one of us without a fall-back plan," Mitchell said mildly.

"That's because I'm the only smart one around here," Trevor shot back. "I'm the one with all the faith Eric's always preaching about. Where's his? Where's yours? If I weren't up all your asses, you'd all be perfectly happy to sit around in your mom's basement and make music all day."

"Nothing wrong with that."

"There will be," Trevor said, jumping up and searching his pockets for a cigarette. "When she shakes things up and throws you out of her house and on your ass. Admit it. You won't do shit until she does."

Mitchell shrugged. "Maybe."

Trevor stomped a foot and dropped his lighter. "And that's my point!" He stabbed the air with his cigarette. "People don't do shit unless they're forced to. I'm not sitting around, waiting for you three to stop being scared of leaving town. I'm not wasting any more time in that fucking school. And I'm not putting up with any more shit! I want to fucking live already! Do shit I can tell my kids about one day! Live, motherfucker. I know I'm not the only one here who wants to."

Mitchell handed his lighter back. "Making another scene, or is this the one you didn't get to make in the office at school?"

"Fuck you, M," Trevor snarled and turned his back on his best friend. He'd known Mitchell wouldn't get it. Coddled little brothers like him didn't know how to scrap for shit. Well, he'd show him, Trevor would. He'd make their stupid little band into the biggest thing to come out of Riverview, or he'd die trying.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Speaking of CBGBs...

Check out this book! It was just published on the first of October; how's this for timely?

The Heebie-Jeebies at CBGBs: A Secret History of Jewish Punk, by Steven Lee Beeber.

I've got to get my hands on this puppy!

(added note: apologies to Steven, whose name was apparently misspelled in the source I'd found it in.)

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006


You in Pittsburgh?

If you're in the Pittsburgh area come Friday night -- yep, the thirteenth -- you might want to stop by the beautiful Southside Works and, in particular, Joseph Beth Books, where my new friend Rebecca Drake will be doing a reading in support of her new book, Don't Be Afraid.

Buy a copy. Have her autograph it. Take a picture with it, her, and you. Send me said picture and when I recover from BAFAB, maybe I'll send you a goodie.

If you're not in Pittsburgh, well, maybe you should reconsider that fact. Or at the very least, keep an eye on Rebecca's website and maybe she'll be doing a signing near you. She's cool. It'll be time worth spent and crowds well worth pushing through.

Btw, you should also be keeping an eye on Working Stiffs. If you go to Rebecca's readings along the way and tell her you're a Working Stiffs reader, she just might have a goodie for you.

Hey, it's October. This month is all about goodies, especially with the Steelers and Pens not giving us many. Yet.

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Monday, October 09, 2006


Sad end of an era

I heard today that Sunday the fifteeenth will end the 33-year-run of the legendary bar known as CBGB. Having been inside, myself, I join thousands upon thousands who mourn the loss of this iconic, narrow, skanky joint.

The owner says he'll reopen in Vegas with as much of the original stuff as possible but sorry. It can't be the same.

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Sunday, October 08, 2006


The End of the Week

Whew. What a week, properly accompanied by an inordinate amount of running around, chaos, heartbreak, and hopes.

Before we close out Buy a Friend a Book Week, let me say the following things...

1. I had a blast reading all of your entries and the things you had to say about music. I hope you'll invite your friends over here to hang with us and get to know my fictional crew. Not just because it'll sell more books when Trevor's Song comes out, but because I do this -- write books, blog, create fiction non-stop -- so that I can share it with people. While I dream of a huge publishing deal, I think I'd be happy with anything that would allow me to share my world with you.

2. I've made friends with some of the other BAFAB contest hosts. Be sure to check them out; I'll leave the links up at the bottom of this page for a bit. Tell them you proudly come from West of Mars.

3. Even though my friend Penina never sent an official entry, she's done so much for me over the years, in so many ways, that I picked up a second copy of This Monster Lives just for her. So while she's not an official winner and I can't tell you how I will never forget her story of trying really hard not to yell the now-defunct and perhaps forgotten refrain of "Die, Die, Die" during Metallica's Creeping Death during her VERY observant Passover seder, I bought her a book, anyway.

And when you get down to it, that's the spirit of BAFAB week.

We'll do it again in a few months. In the meantime, stay tuned. I have planned a fun fall outtake from the newly introduced Chelle LaFleur for your reading pleasure. Once I get back from the post office, expect to see it...

Once again, thanks for making my first BAFAB contest so successful. You guys are important around here.

Remember that, now.

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Friday, October 06, 2006


Buy A Friend a Book Week -- five and six; here we go.

Sorry to keep you all waiting, but it was worth it. The Pens look amazing this year. I hope they keep it up.

One question: One of our new defensemen is named LeTang. Is that what a French astronaut drinks?

Now. Onto our fifth winner, with no further ado.

It's Karen!, she who appears in my comments more than maybe anyone else. (What are the rest of you waiting for? Don't let her get away with that!) She wrote me the greatest story about being attracted to the bad boy... how many of us have been there, done that? Even though her bad boy was into rap and all that icky stuff, she conjures up all the memories that I need. Man, I can't wait to get to work on a bad boy or two...

Partly as a joke, due to another story, I'm giving Karen a book I just loved. Bel Canto is one of the few award-winning books that I didn't shy away from, and I can still close my eyes and recall the mental picture I created while reading the scenes of Roxanne singing, standing beside the piano...

Now, the joke is the whole opera angle. Apparently, our friend Karen! used to argue with her sister in a rather operatic way... I'll let her tell you the story if she so desires. Or maybe I'll just write it; complete with the flowery lyrics, it could make for a great scene.

So Congratulations to Karen!

And now, for our next winner of the day... This one's a bit unorthodox, as her entry neither hit my inbox, nor did it make the deadline. Rather, it appeared in the comments about an earlier winner.

That's right. I'm sort of blindsiding her with this, but that's what friends are for, right? Marci, you done good, woman. Like some of our other friends this week, you connected me to my radio because you yourself connected to your radio.

For that, I'm sending you a copy of one of my favorite graphic novels of all time: Lyrical Life, a story told entirely in song lyrics. If this baby doesn't have you singing along, you're hopeless.

One last note about Lyrical Life: the e-mail on their website has been deactivated, so I can't ask how the sequel is coming. Let's hope it's still in the making.

Okay. I'm off to get some work done for the first time in days. I have a huge stack of books here to mail. Maybe I'll even wrap and address them first. *wink*

Happy Buy a Friend a Book Week, everyone. I hope you've been having as much fun as me.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006


Buy A Friend a Book Week -- winner delayed?

Whoops. Been a long, unproductive day and tonight's the home opener!!

Two winners posted tomorrow. Promise.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Buy a Friend a Book Week -- our fourth winner!

Before I post about our winner, I'd like to take a minute and publicly thank all of you guys. I'm having a great time with this stuff. I hope you are, too.

And a HUGE public thank you to my favorite witch and her husband. They know why. I feel my sanity returning and part of my path clearing.

Okay. Now that I've let you in on more of my personal life than I ever have before, let's move on to our fourth winner.

It's Musie, of course. AmericanMuse is her screenname, and it's an apt one. This woman could be my muse, except she talks to me via computer and not in scenes. She talks to me of awakenings, to music, to guys-as-hot-things. She talks to me of obsessions: flying out to see shows (NOTHING I've ever done. I swear!), meeting guys in bands, calling radio stations to win tickets.

And of getting behind an otherwise unheard-of band, and mourning their demise. (Five Bolt Main had better not follow that path!)

For all of this, Musie wins something from MY musical obsession: a Copy of This Monster Lives, the inside look at the making of Metallica's 2004 documentary, Some Kind of Monster. An added bonus to this book is the inside look at how movies are made, which is almost more fascinating than the subject itself. (yeah, yeah, revoke my MetClub card.)

Oh, and for me, meeting Bruce Sinofsky, one of the directors, was sort of like musie's story of being outside the club. Unexpectedly, you're talking to a really neat person and man, if there was only more time...

Congrats, musie.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Buy a Friend a Book Week -- our third winner!

Tonight's winner told me a really cool story of turning 18 on the 18th and going to see (she actually admitted this!) Bryan Adams in concert!!!

What inspired me was the innocence of her story, the air of expectation she had about Mr. Adams, and the promise of magic on your birthday. I'll let you draw your own conclusions about what all that means, but all of you used to Trevor and his whiles need to reference the first noun of the first sentence in this paragraph... Innocence. I know, I know. There's no innocence when you're around Trevor, unless you're Mitchell, but keep wondering what I'm talking about, at least until we find Trevor's Song a home.

Jebbie wins a book of poetry by an author who has always struck me as having that same air of innocence and hope about her: Jewel. Yes, Jewel, the Alaskan singer with the fresh, innocent and hopeful voice. I almost didn't let this one go; I think I'd like to get a copy for my own shelf and make the time to re-read it the right way -- nice and slow, with lots of time to savor and be inspired.

Congrats, Jebbie!

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Monday, October 02, 2006


Buy a Friend a Book Week -- our second winner!

Monday, October 2. Day two of Buy a Friend a Book Week reminds us of the importance of the independents -- radio, especially.

This one goes to Nimrodiel, as she's known online. She'd like us to check out and support WEFT 90.1 FM radio (although I'll never argue if you also check out and support an independent radio station whose airwaves touch my precious Martian ears: WYEP.

Nim's entry is especially important, not just because of the impact that independent radio made on her -- and her father -- but because when Trevor's Song gets published and on the shelves, it'll be time to turn our attention to my follow-up. Right now, that's the story of Boomer, THE DJ at KRVR in Riverview, and her fight to help keep her independent radio station on the air.

Perfect timing, Nim, 'cause I've been editing like mad the past few days, while I wait for the good word from my trusted reader.

And for her efforts, she wins a copy of... (I have to decide between two!) Cowboys are My Weakness, by one of my favorite authors, Pam Houston.

Yeah, Yeah. I can hear you thinking, "But that's a story collection about outdoorspeople and relationships. What's it got to do with music?"

Well. The very first story, "How to Talk to a Hunter" quotes that independent lady herself, Janis Joplin. "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

It was the first time I'd ever heard that lyric.

Long live independent radio.

Congrats, Nimrodiel.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006


Buy a Friend a Book Week -- our first winner!

I'm proud to announce that we have our first winner of the Buy a Groupie a Book Week contest!

It is our last and final entrant (how's THAT for timing?), Russell Morse, who inspired me with the simple reminder of the positive feelings that music often leaves us with.

Big Congrats to Russell, who wins a copy of Tom Perrotta's The Wishbones, a book I read many years ago and can still recall the texture and mood of.

Enjoy it, Russell, and thanks for being my groupie!

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