Horror Block Unboxing and Review July 2014

One could say that I’m becoming a little bit obsessed with these subscription boxes, and one would probably be correct. But I was actually not going to bother trying this particular subscription box at first. Being a box for “horror” fans, it seemed like something my husband might enjoy more than me, and since I haven’t been having what I would call “a lot of luck” with the other versions of Nerd Block, I initially said “screw it” to the Horror Block.

But then I spent almost a full month thinking about how July’s Horror Block was going to include a Sharknado item, and on the very last day before block sales close I found myself signing up. Guess what? I’m glad I did. Please check out my unboxing video first:

Did I seem a little excited about the Sharknado Funko? I may have been a little excited.

So here’s the breakdown:

Sharknado Funko Pop figure: $12
NIghtmare Before Christmas series 1 trading figure: I couldn’t find a single figure for sale, only the completed sets. The set of 6 is going for about $25 on some sites, so we’ll just say that a single fig is worth about $4
“Frog Brothers Vampire Hunters” shirt: pretty sure this is another Nerd Block exclusive (does anyone know if they only do exclusive shirts?), but it seems to be really nice quality, so I’m giving it $20
Zumbies “Walking Thread” doll: there seems to be some discrepancy over the value of these, so I’m averaging out to about $7
Aliens pins: could not find these anywhere, so I’m going to go with $1 per pin, for a total of $4
Rue Morgue magazine: $10

Total approximate value  of box: $57
Total cost to me: $33

So right off the bat, the value isn’t too bad. Personally I would never pay $10 for that magazine, but even if you knock it down to what I would pay for a magazine, I still got about 160% value in the box. As you may have been able to tell from the video, the Funko was what sealed it for me, but some of the other stuff was pretty cool too. None of it is stuff that I would ever purchase for myself, but I don’t mind that I got them. Jack Skellington is now hanging out on my shelf, and I’m trying to figure out what to do with the Zumbie doll that won’t be likely to wind up with the chain broken. The Aliens pins might end up on my large luggage as a cute way to distinguish it in the airport, but I’m not sure yet.

All in all, I totally thought this Horror Block was worth getting, and I’m happy that I did. I just hope that the awesomeness continues!

Inevitable Rejection

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

60. Attitude after rejection

This is a key factor, I think, in whether or not someone is destined to become a published writer, because make no mistakes, you will be rejected. Statistically, the odds that the first publisher you submit to makes you an offer are astronomically small. There are so many factors that many writers don’t think about. For instance, has it ever occurred to you that a publisher might really like your manuscript but still reject it? It happens. You know why? Current popular culture. You might write a kick-ass old-timey Western novel, but if everyone is currently into space travel and aliens the publisher is going to look at your manuscript and think, “There just isn’t a market for this right now.” A publisher’s primary concern, after all, is selling books and making money. That isn’t to say that you shouldn’t write and submit your kick-ass, old-timey Western…just be aware that it might be that much more difficult to get published.

So back to rejection… You know it’s inevitable so how are you going to react? Are you going to curl up into a ball and weep for a week? Or are you going to push on and submit to a different publisher? Are you going to get all angry and frustrated and declare that the publisher doesn’t know what they’re talking about, or are you going to diligently go back and revise your manuscript to better fit suggestions they’ve made to you?

I haven’t dealt with this myself, not yet. I talk a big talk, but maybe I’m full of hot air. Maybe when I receive my first rejection I’ll get all choked up, tear the letter into a million pieces, and refuse to write anything for a year. I certainly hope not, but one never knows how one will react to such a thing as rejection. But for that inevitability I have a little security blanket I like to hold on to, and that’s Google. Do a Google search right now for famous author rejection letters and see what you find. You’ll find, for instance, that J.K. Rowling received 12 rejections for the first Harry Potter before the owner of Bloomsbury’s daughter read her submission and demanded the rest of the book. William Goldings, author of Lord of the Flies also received 20 rejections and was told that his book was “an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull”. And did you know that C.S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia received 800 rejections before publishing a single piece of work?

Some writers might find that depressing an discouraging, but I find it warm and comforting. Yes, it reinforces the fact that I will be rejected, but it also gives me hope that if I work hard and stay stubborn, I’ll eventually get an acceptance. An in that way I’m almost looking forward to my first rejection letter, because on that day I will be one rejection closer to acceptance.

Internally Inspirational

A reminder: This post courtesy of Julie Jarnagin’s 101 Blog Post Ideas for Writers.

40. Where to find inspiration

Ah, inspiration…that elusive elixir of writer-juice. Did I seriously just say “writer-juice”? That is a lack of inspiration right there, if ever there was one.

If there’s one thing that’s as hard to get a grasp on as motivation, it’s inspiration. How many times has a writer sat down in front of a blank piece of paper or an unsullied word processor file and just stared, dumbstruck, unable to produce words? I’d be willing to stake my reputation (such as it is) that for every word that made it on to the page, a hundred went unwritten simply because the writer couldn’t grasp the inspiration required to create.

There’s an old adage that one should “write what you know”. On one hand, I disagree with this concept. If we all only wrote what we “know”, the world of literature would be a pretty boring place, since everything would have to be based on facts and the physical reality of this world. We would never have books about magic and dragons, alien worlds and alternate realities, creatures of the night and immortal gods of the universe. If we write only what we “know” we find ourselves trapped in reality, and while that is fine for some books, it cuts our possibilities by a vast, positively immense number.

On the other hand, writing what we “know” can be excellent inspiration. Look at the world around you. Some of the people we see every day can make excellent characters for our books if we just tweak them a little bit. Look at their habits and mannerisms, their quirks and unique personalities. Some of my favorite characters are based on people I know in real life, and many popular, successful authors have admitted to doing the same.

Similarly, sometimes we only have to look as far as our own pasts to find nuggets of inspiration for our stories. Two years ago for NaNoWriMo I decided to write a supernatural romance (don’t judge me) and was having a difficult time with the setting. I already had an idea of who my characters were going to be and I knew I wanted them to get trapped together, but I was having a hard time with how they would meet and why they would get trapped there. I wanted my idea to be at least marginally original, since much of my story was likely to follow along the lines of the ever-expending world of soft-core vampire porn (what did I say about judging me?!). I thought about it for a while before I came up with a great idea. My female character would work in a paper mill. It was a great idea for several reasons. One: I worked in a paper mill, so I could describe it realistically. Two: I know what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated field, so I could express my character realistically. Three: it gave a believable explanation  for my characters to be trapped there together…see, my male character was a werewolf being hunted by other werewolves, and since a paper mill is rife with the smells of steam, pulp, and chemicals, it’s reasonable to believe that the other werewolves wouldn’t be able to track his scent from there.

Of course, inspiration can come from many other sources: dreams, other forms of media (remember, nothing is truly original anymore), world experience such as traveling, and not to mention good old fashioned research. Inspiration can really be found anywhere if you’re just willing to look for it. But I do truly believe that most of the time all we have to do is look at ourselves, our own lives and experiences, the people and places we’ve known or seen, the things that interest and amuse us. Sit back and think for a minute, and then…write.