Snarkling Clean

Snarkling Clean- because you don't have to cuss to make fun of stuff. Two dedicated readers discuss romance novels- from what made us weep with joy to what made us want to poke pencils through our eyeballs.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

My Image Is Ruined

Both of my kids are in advanced math classes.

They didn't get it from me, I assure you. I can manage to keep the checkbook mostly balanced and I can double or half a recipe, but that's the extent of my mathematical talents.

Trouble is, they both have homework. Homework they need help with.


I live in mortal fear of the call from the kitchen table:

"MOM! I don't get this!"

Like I do?

Language arts- I'm there. Social studies- encyclopedia is my middle name. Music, art, computers? Yes, honey, I'll be right with you.

Science? Well, besides that one project that went wrong...

But math is undermining my status as The Woman Who Knows Everything. I'm convinced that the wonderful parental relationship I have with my kids is due to their belief that I am omniscient. Mommy Sees All.

How else can I insure safe behavior? I know what you do when you get around the corner. How else do I garner respect? You better not say what you're thinking. How else do I instill the proper awe? (said from a portion of the house where darling knows I can't see him/her come down the stairs) Just turn right around and go put on a decent shirt.

Mathematics is teaching my children one thing, and one thing only.

Mommy don't know jack 'bout numbers. But she can put in a pretty good bluff when she needs to.

Friday, February 24, 2006

I Can See Up Your Nose If It's In The Air

Bernita's post made me think today- is there an unbreakable rule that says e-zine stories don't count?

After all, it was only a few years ago that e-books were considered the red headed stepchild of publishing; a short hop away from a vanity press. Now look at them. More and authors are submitting, more and more agents and editors are taking e-book credits seriously, and Ellora's Cave started an entire, though hotly debated, romance genre. Like erotica or not, you can't deny their success. E-publishers themselves are more demanding, with better editing and better results.

Why should e-zines be any different? There's not a big readership, true; but it isn't as if print mediums don't suffer from that as well. I myself had a story under consideration with Arabella, and had to find out on a Harlequin message board that they'd gone belly up.

Part of me says to think of your career. Don't waste time on things that won't advance it, and no editor or agent will take you seriously if all your credits are from e-zines. But is that necessarily so? Are e-zines on the cusp of breaking through to respectability? Someone with more industry know-how than I will have to answer that one.

The other part of me says who cares? Just write. Articles and novellas work well for me and my writing style. I just don't do well with large word counts, and I'm sparing with details. I get impatient or worse, bored, with endless description. Just tell me the house is filled with trinkets; I don't need to know where every single doily is placed. Writing shorts is very fun and challenging for me. If I want to really flesh out a character, I'll do a series.

What about you? Do you consider e-zines less than worthy? Print may be the end all for snobs, but I've read enough print books and articles that made a satisfying thunk when hitting the wall to know that paper is no guarantee of greatness.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The Wrongest Covers in the History of Wrongness

With our special guest snarker, Sharon, we bring you the latest in our series of cringe inducing covers. These aren’t the usual cover clinches, however. These are just…wrong.

Breakfast With Santa

Robyn: Ten to one this is the creepy neighbor who seemed polite and kept to himself.

Missie: "You smell like beef and cheese! You're not the real Santa!"

Sharon: Yeah, I got fired. But you know, I hate #&*%^$ kids. I thought you should know before I marry your mom and all.

Bushwhacked Groom

Robyn: Homicide is the new foreplay.

Missie: This cover is so bad, it makes me want to find a good vein and a serrated edge.

Sharon: Personally, I'm rooting for her to shoot him. Anything to wipe that god awful, s**t eating grin off his face.

Getting it Right!

Robyn: Quit hitting me over the head. I GET it.

Missie: Uhmm, I don't get it.....Ooohhhh! Never mind.

Sharon: Ok really, that cover conjures some interesting thoughts on my part, but I can't share them and keep with the image of snarkling "clean." But with a cover like that, who needs the hero anyway? I'm thinking this woman is pretty, uh, self sufficient in the O department.

Tempting a Texan

Robyn: Eeeeeeewwwwww. Another example of how the art department has no idea what the book’s about. Or, apparently, the title.

Missie: I'm tempted not to read this book.

Sharon: Hmm he likes em young, I guess.

The Enchanted Land

Robyn: The enchanted land looks like it’s on fire. And hey, lady, tell your husband to save it for later. Your kid needs you.

Missie: "With him she crossed a wilderness, and for him she became a woman"...Implying she wasn't a woman before? And what's with the creepy looking clip-on monkey kid?

Sharon: Look buddy. Those ta tas are mine.

The Rana Look

Robyn: Nurse Bobby Jean knew if she brought back the eighties Dynasty look, she’d snag one of the residents of the Old Millionaire’s Retirement Center.

Missie: Rapunzel, Rapunzel...let me fix that wedgie for you.

Sharon: The Rana Look: The next exciting installment in the Electra series.

Up next: There are wolves about!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

From Our Snarky Hearts to Yours!

We here at Snarkling Clean strive for a level of literary excellence seldom found elsewhere on the Internet. We tirelessly research in order to present you with high quality, masterfully crafted pieces that are sure to bring meaning to your poor, beforeusSnarkless lives. That being said, let us now reveal...The Redneck Valentine Poem.

Collards is green, my dog's name is "Blue"
and I'm so lucky to have a sweet thang like you.
Yore hair is like cornsilk, a-flapping in the breeze.
Softer than Blue's, and without all them fleas.
You move like the bass, which excite me in May.
You ain't got no scales, but I luv you anyway.
Yore as satisfy'n as okry, jist a-fry'n in the pan.
Yore as fragrant as "snuff", right out of the can.
You have some'a yore teeth, for which I am proud;
I hold my head high when we're in a crowd.

On special occasions when you shave under yore arms,
well, I'm in hawg heaven, and awed by yore charms.
Still them fellers at work, they all want to know,
what I did to deserve such a purdy, young doe.
Like a good roll of duct tape, yore there fer yore man,
to patch up life's troubles and fix what you can.
Yore as cute as a junebug, a-buzzin' overhead.
You ain't mean like those far ants I found in my bed.
Cut from the best cloth like a plaid flannel shirt,
you spark up my life more than a fresh load of dirt.

When you hold me real tight like a padded gunrack,
my life is complete; Ain't nuttin' I lack.
Yore complexion, it's perfection, like the best vinyl sidin'.
Despite all them years, yore age, it keeps hidin'.
Me 'n' you's like a Moon Pie with a RC cold drank,
we go together like a skunk goes with stank.
Some men, they buy chocolate for Valentine's Day.
They git it at Wal-Mart, it's romantic that way.
Some men git roses on that special day
from the cooler at Kroger. “That's impressive," I say.

Some men buy fine diamonds from a flea market booth.
"Diamonds are forever," they explain, suave and couth.
But for this man, honey, these just won't do.
Cause yore too special, you sweet little thang, you.
I got you a gift without taste nor odor,
More useful than's a new troll'n motor!!

No need to thank us. It's just part of the service.
May your day be filled with love, happiness, and diamonds from the flea market.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

When It Rains...

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection B:
If your washing machine is going to break down after thirteen long years of faithful service, it is going to do it when the tub is full. Of water. And jeans.

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection B, Addendum 1:
If your washing machine is going to break down after thirteen long years of faithful service, and you cannot get another one right away, the first thing your seven month old daughter is going to do is a Scientology-inspired colon cleansing ritual. A big one. A big sticky one that gets all over her clothing. Clothing that you can’t wash because your washing machine broke down after thirteen long years of faithful service.

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection B, Addendum 2:

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection B, Addendum 3:
After you buy the used washing machine that Sears said was just like new and get it home, unload it from your pickup using just your husband’s brawny brawn and your worthless wimpy strength ohmygoodness this is too heavy I am going to drop it hurry up honey, hook it up, and put the same soaking load of jeans in it that was in the old washer the same morning, and the used washing machine (which shall hereby be referred to as TOOL OF THE DEVIL) fills up with water, the tool of the devil will then make strange noises, and quit…WITH THE TUB FULL OF WATER AGAIN. AGAIN! And make your house smell like burnt high school boy gym shoes.

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection C
(because this deserves a subsection all its own):
When the tool of the devil breaks down after you have used it for a grand total of 10 minutes, resoaking your clothes and smelling up your house, and you call Sears and speak to the girl who JUST SOLD YOU THE FREAKING MACHINE LESS THAN AN HOUR AGO, HI, WE WERE THE COUPLE WITH THE ADORABLE BABY YOU KEPT COMPLIMENTING US ON, the salesperson will actually say these words, “Um…well, what did you want us to do about it?”

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection C, Addendum 1:
After calling the store stupidly thinking they will help you resolve your problem in a prompt and professional manner but finding out that NO, just the opposite is true because why should they feel any responsibility for a machine they just sold you an hour ago, you will calmly turn to your husband and ask him if he will bring the children to see you in prison for the next five to ten, where you are serving out your sentence for killing an extremely stupid salesperson by choking her with a pair of wet jeans.

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection D:
People are stupid.

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection D, Addendum 1:
People are stupid, and people who are supposed to not be as stupid as other people because they have titles like Manager, Assistant Manager, and Grand Poobah in charge of Washing Machines and other Tools of the Devil, are even more stupid than the stupid people they are supposed to stupidly be in charge of. Stupid…

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection D, Addendum 2:
After stupid Poobahs tell you to contact the Service department, and you find out Service can come out SIX DAYS FROM NOW, and you call back Stupid Poobah to inform him that this is not acceptable, Stupid Poobah can actually get something done if you threaten to call the Poobah in charge of him, whose title is Grand Exalted Poobah over Stupid Salespeople.

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection D, Addendum 3:
You will, for the second time in about five hours, have to empty soapy cold water from another washing machine tub using your Mr. Coffee Ice Tea Maker pitcher because it’s the only thing that will fit down into the sides of the tub.

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection D, Addendum 4:
You will, for the second time in about five hours, have to wring out an entire load of jeans, plop them into your Dutch oven, and cart them to your bathtub where they will wait until later when you have time to hand wash the stupid things BECAUSE YOUR WASHING MACHINE HAS QUIT AFTER 13 LONG YEARS OF FAITHFUL SERVICE and the tool of the devil you bought to replace it quit after 10 minutes of stupidstupidstupid service!!

Missie’s Law #7923.62 Subsection E:
You will finally get Sears to come get the tool of the devil and Poobah will agree to let you have a brand new washing machine for $100 less than the list price, but you will still be mad. Because…please refer to #7923.62 Subsection D:
People are stupid.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

If I See Another Lace Trimmed Heart I Will Puke

I hate Valentine's Day.

Honestly, what is it? Just another occasion for single people to get depressed, poor couples to feel sad because they can't afford to get anything or go out, and men to obsess over whether or not their pitiful offering will be enough to convince their ladies for tea and crumpets that evening.

Granted, I'm probably not the best person to talk to about this. I've spent the past few days wrestling WalMartians so I could restock the card collection, which I have to straighten three times an hour because people think its okay to gather twelve cards from our 24 foot section of the store and dump them in the frozen foods later.

But the selection is what gets me- Valentines both TO and FROM your dog and cat??? If I ever gave my grandparents Valentines, it was from the box of 40 small ones that I got for the school party. No aunts, uncles, or cousins that I can recall. But Hallmark? Every single person in your life can get a beautiful glittery card. (And btw, that glitter? I'll find it in the middle of my forehead two days later. You CANNOT wash that stuff off.)

One thing that thoroughly confuses me: Valentine money holders. What?? You get money for Valentine's Day? Not once in my entire life did I receive money on Feb. 14th. Birthdays and Christmas were the only correct occasions; Easter was marginally acceptable as long as you put some of it in the offering plate at church that morning. But this lady today was moaning that we had no money holders. I kindly pointed them out, smiling at her even though she caused me to lose my place in front of the Mother section where I working to a business woman in black stiletto boots who carried a ginormous black leather briefcase. I couldn't get back there for twenty minutes. I was scared to try; she looked like she knew how to use those spiked heels.

So the woman, rather than being grateful that I had smiled and helpfully showed her exactly where they were instead of glaring at her and pointing- the correct retail worker customer service posture these days- she goes all Shouty MacYellerson on me because we only had two! Lady, I wanted to say. You don't have to give money on Valentine's Day anyway, but all of our cards? COME WITH ENVELOPES. The money's not gonna fall out.

It's only going to get worse. I'm coming down with some kind of cooties. My only consolation is that if I breathe really hard on the worst WalMartian offenders, they'll be too stuffed up for Valentine night tonsil swabs.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Little Foxes Spoil My Vine

Sorry it's been so long in between posts, gang, but Valentine's Day is the Christmas of Hallmark. I've been pulling a lot of hours which will only get longer until Feb. 15, but I will try to update. Aside: did anyone see that Fabio ad in the Superbowl? Hilarious.

So I read Jayne Ann Krentz' Falling Awake.

I love JAK. I know a lot of people like to snark on her; so do I, but I can't deny it. I fall in love with every one of her heroes. They tend to be alphas that are brainy, charismatic but not male models. And her heroines are smart, self-sufficient, and usually have small fronts and big backs, if you catch my drift. Attractive, but not gorgeous. I do like that dose of reality.

JAK does corporate stuff pretty well, and I like her suspense. I don't happen to mind that she concentrates on the romance and the intrigue doesn't get going until well into the book. Unlike the conventional suspense wisdom, I don't need to trip over a body on the first page.

So after being a dedicated fan for *coughtwentycough* years, I've noticed that she seems a little...I don't know. Tired might be the best term. All her regular devices and characters and plot points are there, but the spark is missing. (I know people accuse her of writing the same book every time, but guess what? So does almost every other author. You heard it here first.)

In Falling Awake, Jayne introduces us to the concept of level five lucid dreaming. It's a state where certain gifted people can direct their dreams, tapping into the observations we've stored in our minds during waking hours but to which we've paid no attention.

I don't really have time to review the whole book here, but suffice it to say it's definitely a good library read. I would have been disappointed if I'd paid $24.95, though.

Good plot, plausible paranormal element, (though if you want paranormal Gift of Gold is much better) fairly good twist at the end. I like the hero, the heroine, and supporting cast. But sometimes little things authors do bug me. I get distracted by them, and it interferes with my enjoyment of the book.

Authors, even single title successful ones, must have to pad their word counts. How do I know? Because no one really speaks like romance heroines. Generic example- in the middle of an action scene, what woman utters, "Oh my goodness. I really hadn't considered the ramifications of what we did by breaking into the Abraham Lincoln Memorial."

In this book, the heroine works for The Belvedere Center for Sleep Research. It is called that, every word of it, every single time it is referenced. Never the sleep research center, never the center, never even the Belvedere. It is always The Belvedere Center for Sleep Research. I can say it in my sleep after reading it 20,000 times. It became a PnL (point and laugh) moment for me- I could almost hear the sitcom version. Every time the actors get ready to say it, the studio audience joins in and- cue laughter. Right now I had to really think to remember the heroine's name, but had no trouble at all recalling The Belvedere Center for Sleep Research.

Another thing. JAK's books have always made the attempt to be mature. The heroines are almost always business owners with previous love lives, even if they've never had one with the cosmos like they do with the hero. They are vegetarian, herbal tea snobs, (JAK has a bit of an agenda, methinks) and wine fanatics. They live in America, but drink wine with dinner every single night. I'm okay with that, just don't know any American who does it. Drink some water once in awhile, okay, Jayne? I digress.

One scene in particular blew the chances of this one being a keeper. The day after our heroine has had spectacular tea and crumpets with the hero, she's having lunch when her ex stops by. As they talk, she shows a somewhat unnatural interest in the pickle that came with her sandwich. For two pages, we get to read about her delight in wrapping her mouth around the large, long, firm, broad tipped pickle. I GET IT, JAYNE. I'm 41 years old, not fourteen. Her ex is staring in horrified fascination, as is the hero. After the ex leaves, the hero remarks on her enjoyment of her lunch. She's surprised.

"Oh, I guess it does sort of resemble-"

"Yes, it does."

I needed that explanation, thank you. I was waiting for another pickle description in a romantic scene which thankfully never came, but come on. Is JAK trying to win a teenybopper audience or what? Not that I'm a bastion of maturity myself; thanks to Jayne I have found that I could not be anywhere near a pickle for a week without laughing.

What about you? Are there any author tics that ruin an otherwise good read?