Monday, June 29, 2009

Sad Sack

I don't know if it's this crappy New York weather, or being outside of the city or what, but man! I've kind of let myself go in the last few weeks. I'm not typically a fashionista by any stretch, but at least at home I feel compelled to put myself together every day. Out here at the beach? Pffbbtt! I've left that all behind. I need the peer pressure. If you saw me right now, you would be appalled. Trust me. 

I always have such high hopes for summer as I walk by little boutiques. Flirty little dresses and chic sandals--they beckon. Or perhaps something like this:
That's me and my fashionable pretend friends, just out for a day of shopping, some lattes, and maybe a pedicure.

But after a few weeks of writing solo and the schleppery that is my life, I usually end up more along the lines of this:
Okay, well maybe not THAT bad, but it captures how I felt showing up for tennis camp pickup in my dirty running shorts just to meet my daughter's adorable Brazilian coach. And all his Brazilian friends. Oh yeah, hi. I'm frumpy. Nice to meet you. 

I mean, I'm not going to dress up next time for them or anything. That's a little too Mrs. Robinson. But jeez. I need some maintenance work.

That's it. I'm calling for a haircut tomorrow. 

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you

I've been kicking around a bunch of new concepts for a novel recently (eight, in fact) and my mind couldn't settle on just one. All eight seed ideas had to do with family drama and controversy, something I've been led to believe I write well. I'm not sure exactly what that says about me, but I'm running with it anyway.

I typically start with a character with whom I would like to spend a great deal of time. He or she can be complicated and flawed, but must posses something interesting. Problem was, all my MC ladies were in a huge catfight for my brainspace. The aging ex-Playboy bunny knocked the over-stressed ad exec and the rest of them on their asses for a while, but now she's taken a back seat. Maybe she'll have her day, but for now she's filed under "Brainstorming.doc."

My agent gave me some sage advice, and with her help, I think I've picked a winner. The plot's pretty much down, so now for my favorite part--fleshing the MC out. Love this. It's like getting to know a cool new roommate, but you have a say in who she is and won't get stuck with a clunker. I'm fanatical about getting to know my characters before I write anything. She has her own dossier and I'm forming her style. After she simmers for a few more days, I'll get going. Can't wait.

How do you get started on something new?

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I don't know about you, but I can't stop watching the news of the Iranian election fallout. Just amazing. Jezebel posted an interesting piece on the role of women in the protests, old and young, rich and poor. They also have the "Neda" footage, which is terribly graphic and sad, but you don't have to click the video to read the article if you can't stomach it. 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

More Animal Drama

So the snails haven't been at it again, at least as far as I can tell. I can't blame them for their celibacy after being pried apart with a giant spoon and all. Kinda kills the mood. 

But we do have something new to fret about just outside the back door--a wren has some baby birds in a birdhouse. Not a problem, except for the fact that the birdhouse is old and rickety and just about to fall completely apart and plunge to the ground. Certain death. It's hanging by ONE NAIL. The roof pulls open a little more every day and now we can see all the babies inside. Oh no!

Compounding this problem is the fact we have four, count 'em, FOUR cats here at Casa Cebula, who are wise to all this and sit patiently waiting, mouths open, for breakfast to fall from the sky. 

Now, most Darwinists might say to leave them be, but no, not us. This has become a family project. SAVE THE BIRDS. I built a net contraption out of pieces of  old trellis and torn-up soccer goals and hung is just below the branch. It's very pretty. But at least it will break their fall. Then my dad hooked twine around the bottom of the house and tied it off on an opposite limb. Whew. It looked like the babies were safe. Success!

Until today when it started pouring. THEY'RE GETTING WET! POOR THINGS! MOMMY! 
So there I was, climbing a tree in a rainstorm, so that I could hook an umbrella to the branch above. I froze and nearly killed myself, but those freaking birds are dry. 

These are the kinds of things I worry about. I just came in from checking on the birds for the 40th time today.

This might be a sign from the gods to go out and get a real job.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Congrats to Jamie!

Friend of the blog Jamie Mason has found a (truly amazing) agent! She's keeping the details at the moment on the down low, on the Q T, say no more say no more. But hop on over and congratulate her! She's a fantastic writer and has a great blog.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Snail Drama

So yeah, remember how I said it was impossible to get anything done with my kids around? Here's a little example of that:

This morning I was upstairs on the computer when I heard shrieking and sobbing from the floor below. Oh no! I rushed down to find my younger daughter, Charlotte, hovered over her pet snails. (Yes, snails. And they are big and gross.)

"THEY ARE EATING EACH OTHER!" she was yelling, and sure enough, one of the snails seemed to be consuming the other in its shell. Foam dripped out the side. Worse yet, the victim was alive! Gah! Snail homicide!

So I grabbed the pair and tried to pull them apart. The aggressor held tight, jerk that she was. She wasn't giving up easily. So I ran them both under the faucet. Still she clung. That bitch. At this time, my mom ran in. ""Knock on the shell! Make her stop!' Clack clack clack I went. 

By now my daughter was red-faced and drenched with tears. "SAVE HONEY! SAVE HONEY!" (Honey was the victim, Daisy the perpetrator.) I was getting those damn snails apart no matter what it took. I put them on the table and began prying one snail from the other with a spoon, hoping to save that poor nearly-eaten smaller one. 

Finally, Daisy retreated, but it looked like the carnage was done. Thank God, after a few seconds, Honey began to move. Hooray! I'd saved her! I'd saved the day!

"Um, mom?" my nine-year-old said from the top of the stairs, "Maybe they were just mating."



Probably so.

Friday, June 5, 2009

School's Out!

Today was the last day of school for my daughters. One would think a horde of girls would burst out of the schoolhouse, all WAHOO and YIPPEE because the have three whole months of no more uniforms, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks! But no. Tears aplenty. All the kids actually seemed sad to be out of school for the summer. This does not compute in my mind. No matter how much I liked school, I was thrilled to get the heck out of dodge every June (see WAHOO and YIPEE above.) 

So now that the long, looooooong summer spreads out ahead of me (have you seen how late Labor Day falls? Gah!) it will be much more of a challenge to find time to write*. And I'm itching to start my next novel. Itching! Problem is, even when my kids are happy playing and I can physically sit down to tap away, half of my mind is just listening for something bad to happen. Someone will fall. Or bicker. Or need something. Or step on the dog. You get the idea. It's tough to concentrate on a scene, to say the least. 

How about you? What keeps you from either writing or doing whatever it is you want/need to do? Kids? A loud neighbor? Lack of sleep?

*I realize there are people out there who have actual full time jobs who find the time to write, so maybe you don't feel so sorry for me. But just roll with it, okay?