The Oscars Are a Sham

oscars suck

Let me qualify that statement. My major in college was film, debating between screenwriting as my career path or production (either in art or assistant directing). I worked on a few student projects and one feature film before deciding I liked having a social life and hobbies and gave that stuff up.

You see, the thing is, the glamor in making movies is saying that you make movies. That’s it. Love 16-hour days, bratty diva actors/actresses, and barely getting home in time to fall into bed before you have to get out of it again and go work on a movie? Then this is the career for you.

That’s not to say I completely hate it. Making movies is hard work, but it’s a lot of fun, too. It’s just that becomes your whole life. Period. And a Jae needed a little more time to breathe creative air elsewhere.

So I should love the Oscars, right? Those are my peeps. Well, sort of. It’s not really the grips, gaffers, PAs, 1st ADs and art babies that get under my skin. It’s the self-absorbed set-dressing plastic people they calls stars that bother me, and all the attitude that comes with them.


Let me ‘splain something that some of you probably didn’t know. Why is the Oscars the most prestigious award show you can think of? No really. Why is that? Because it’s glamorous? Because all the stars are there? Because you want to see who wins what for best what?

Who decides on all of that? You? Ha! Not hardly. Trust me when I say a large chunk of Hollywood-ites can hardly stand the thought you exist. (I’m included in this mix, so we can feel insulted together). Perhaps ticket sales? Nope. Once again, you’ve got to take Y-O-U completely out of the equation. Well, then who does decide?


This guy. And this girl. And that lady. And him. And that other guy. They decide. They vote on each other and each other’s movies. Movie-going audiences never play into it. If you’ve ever come away from an Oscars wondering how such-and-such won best picture, it’s because these divas picked it—often for personal agendas, favors paid back or political agendas.

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Win the War? Wait, There’s More!


So let’s look over everything we’ve accomplished in the series so far:

  • Proper manuscript formatting is important.
  • Let your manuscript get cold before diving into major editing.
  • Read aloud to edit, read backward, switch fonts—change it up so you can see the errors.
  • Word economize!
  • Let other people read it. Friends, family, beta readers, writers groups, conferences. Get as much feedback as you can.
  • Get thick skin. Respond with dignity and grace to feedback.
  • You’ll probably have to rewrite. Accept that as part of the process.
  • Get some cred by entering contests. Also get some professional feedback this way.
  • When it’s time, consider working with an editor—especially if you’re self-publishing.

It always kills me when published authors say, “Hey, I get paid to make stuff up.” As though that’s all that goes into it. I guess they’re smiling at what they get to do for a living. But make no mistake, as I’m certain those of you who’ve been through this process already, writing is hard work. It’s some of the hardest work you can do. It’s an emotional rollercoaster ride of chaos. It’s probably like giving birth and then raising the kid to maturity. There will be moments of joy and moments of pure hell. But in the end, it’s worth it.


Suppose you’ve done all this and then some. Now what? Well, if you’ve really been through tons of drafts and had multiple people look at it, it’s time to get this thing published.

Self-pub. If you’re self-publishing, it’s time to study other self-published authors and see how they became successful. It’s also time to learn all you can about marketing your book to bring it the most success possible. It’s going to take a ton of work, so please don’t think uploading a novel to Amazon will score you instant success. You’ll have to get the word out. But plenty have done it and been successful, so learn from them.

Traditional. For those sticking to the traditional route. Now comes the fun bit we call querying.

Oh, Luke! How’d you get in here?

Anyway, if you thought all this stuff was hard, wait until you get into querying. It’s not unlike novel editing, only more intense because you have to be clever on one page instead of several.

But there are places that can help you out. Visit Janet Reid’s Query Shark blog to see the good, the bad, and the ugly—often the ugly. Learn what not to do so you do it right in your own.

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Going Pro: Creds & Eds

Welcome to the sixth post in the How to Edit Your Novel series. Now that you’ve put your novel through the ringer, and likely gone through rewrites, it’s time to look at a few options: contests, conferences, and editors.


books clip artNovels. While entering novel contests can be good exposure for your book, take caution in which contests you enter. Some may take exclusive publishing rights (like Amazon’s recent break through novel contest). Be certain you know what you’re getting into before you enter.

The contests I hope you’ll seek in particular are critique or feedback based contests. Even if it’s only the first few hundred words or first two chapters. For example, awhile back I won a first chapter critique from Aimee Salter. Her feedback was immensely helpful, and it’s something she does professionally.

I know I keep mentioning Pitch Wars, but I got a lot of great feedback from it too, especially from my mentor Marieke. And recently I entered the Cupid’s Literary Connection contest. I didn’t win, but I got helpful feedback there too–especially on my query. Feedback can be just as valuable as a win. Plus you can see how your novel stacks up among the works of your peers.

Short Stories. Whenever you need a break from the novel, or need to put it in cold storage, it’s the perfect opportunity to write something else–flash fiction, short stories, novellas, etc. This is where the creds part comes in. Winning a contest where your work is published in something gives you credentials for your query letter. It’s no guarantee, obviously, but anything you can do to stand out in the submission pile and catch an agent’s eye is worth the effort.

Even if you plan to self-pub, never hurts to be able to say “winner of the…” whether on your book or in your bio. You want to catch that reader’s eye.

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Edit Wars: Rewrites Strike Back

star wars meme editingWelcome to the fifth post in the How to Edit Your Novel series. Let’s see… At this point you’ve had beta readers, you’ve edited, and then the realization hits. This thing needs improvement. Not just typo fixes and quick word re-arranging. I mean substantial restructuring!


Seriously, that’s how it can feel sometimes. What about all that work I’ve already done? I’ve already spent months/years on this thing! Ugh, I want to be published yesterday. Etc. Etc.

But the thing is, how dedicated are you to your story? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to make it the best it can be? Really?

I remember coming back from a conference totally deflated. I’d been through a Donald Maass workshop, and I knew my novel needed work—a lot of work. Could I really go through all that? Did I really want to? It took me a few weeks of mulling things over, but I decided it had to be done. So I spent the summer rewriting.

And you know what? I had a much better story. Much better.

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Don’t Fear the Feedback

Just change the word reaper to feedback and let that play as a soundtrack for you mind. Don’t Fear the Feedback—the fourth installment of the How to Edit Your Novel series.


closetYou may get your feedback face to face or you may get it in an email, but the most important thing when receiving feedback is to receive it with dignity and grace. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. Whoever is telling you what they think is wrong with your story took the time to read the thing. Even if you think they are 100% wrong (unlikely) they deserve your thanks for making the effort.

So at the very least, I want you to memorize this phrase: Thank you for your feedback. You’ve given me a lot to think about.

Your first reaction may be to explain why you wrote it the way you did. Don’t. You may feel like you need to defend your work. Don’t. You may even be inclined to tell them why they don’t know what they’re talking about. Definitely don’t.

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