Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Tomorrow we leave for Christmas break, which will include a visit to the in-laws, a visit the parents, and then a ski trip to Colorado. Let me tell you how much I love skiing: not at all.
Monday, December 15, 2008
But. Apparently there IS some truth about knowing what kinds of clothes are flattering on your body. A really LOVELY picture of me ran in one of those local magazines, and now some people who haven't seen me in a while think I'm...
Can't imagine why. That puppy's going off to Goodwill, and I think I'll catch a few episodes of What Not to Wear.
And, sorry. I really couldn't think of anything better to blog about today.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
But. Perhaps this isn't the year to go on an on about the new 40 foot boat, or your husband's huge promotion, or all the time you are spending at your third country house. All that's nice and all, and I'm glad you are having a great time.
Just, you know, tone it down a little this year. And maybe pick up a newspaper.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The Park Avenue Tree Lighting was tonight, and despite the 25 degree weather and the blow-you-over winds, my husband and I suited up our daughters in their ski gear and went. I thought for certain there wouldn't be much of a crowd, but still, a thousand or so people showed up to shiver and sing. Everyone is invited, and lots of different types of people come--people of all faiths or of no faith at all. Whatever. You can grab a carol sheet and sing or just stand and watch them turn on the trees. The Park Avenue Memorial trees (lights in pines for Christmas, in cherry trees for Hanukkah) are dedicated to those who died in our country's wars.
The trees run down the mall, from 96th street to the Met Life building in midtown. Like so:
I didn't actually take this picture, but mine were terrible so I copied it off a travel site. Don't tell on me.
We stood in front of Brick Presbyterian Church:
I'm not the most sentimental person you will ever meet, but there's just something about caroling with a group of cold-but-happy people that makes me smile. And sing loudly. And badly.
Any special holiday traditions you'd like to share?
Friday, December 5, 2008
That's all been just lovely up until this fall--New Yorkers, despite all their faults, are a generous bunch, especially if a party is involved. But now everyone is cutting (slashing!) back. For good reason, I might add, what with all the job cuts and general crappiness in the economy. We're doing it, too.
However, things have been getting...testy...when I have to make an ask. Believe me when I say I'm softening the pitch, but still, I'm quickly becoming persona non grata. Soon people will be throwing tomatoes at me as I walk to pickup.
Ah well. At least my blogging friends will still like me. Right? Right? And I promise I won't ask you for anything.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Example #1, Everyone's a Buddy: Cocktail party at their house. Mom says, "Wendy, let me introduce you to Abby. We met her at the furniture store last week." She sold them their couch, so they invited her over. To see it in it's new habitat, I guess. This kind of thing happens frequently.
Example #2, Harass the Driver : When visiting us in Manhattan, my dad will try to engage every taxi driver in conversation, to varying degrees of success. What if the driver is hostile? What if he doesn't speak English? No matter! Keep going until you find a topic he likes: sports, politics, family, country of origin. There must be *something* he wants to talk about with the old white guy in the back seat, right?
Example #3, Dog Santa: On a recent trip to the pet store to pick up some Eukanuba, my dad chatted up the owner about their new (pain in the ass) Maltese puppy. After a few minutes of conversation, the owner asked my dad, who is a round and jolly-looking guy, to be the store Santa for an upcoming Christmas party for dogs. And, of course, he said "Sure!" So now it's all set. Ho ho ho. Let's hope he doesn't get bitten.
I consider myself a moderately friendly person. I'm not shy, and I'm generally happy to talk to anyone. I have friends (real ones!) and I'm polite. But other times I just can't be bothered. I'm baffled at how they have the energy, not to mention the inclination, to be so talkative *all* the time.
How about you? Are you as friendly as my parents?
Monday, December 1, 2008
I sometimes think of my fellow SWCers and how their writing is coming along. I only keep in touch with one other person from the group (and I won't say who because she's bashful), and she's doing very well. Are other people submitting? Revising? Did anyone give up? It was a craft workshop, so the majority of time was spent critiquing each other's first chapters and attending lectures. For 14 days, we were all serious writers. Jobs, kids, spouses--they all took a backseat for a short time. It was wonderful.
I hope they are all still writing.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
I'll be taking off tomorrow for Thanksgiving break and I doubt I'll have much time for blogging. We'll be visiting my parents, so I'm off the hook for cooking the Big Meal again this year.
My job is to pick up the turkey. The poor thing probably meets his death sometime today. He's been picked out at the turkey farm down the road from my parent's house. It's kind of sad to drive by and see the turkeys grow from cute little chicks into adult turkeys strutting around the yard, all full of confidence. Then one day--*poof*-- gone.
Don't worry, though, I've viewed the Sarah Palin Turkey Massacre and I know what to expect. It's almost enough to make you go vegan. Almost.
Have a happy Thanksgiving! Any big plans?
Sunday, November 23, 2008
I read about a book coming out soon called Free Range Kids--that pretty much describes my childhood. And somehow I survived.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
There are days when I walk around thinking I am a GREAT writer! Soon, fame and fortune will be mine...ALL MINE!* I even allow myself to think about who might be a good actress to play my MC in the movie version of my wildly-successful book. (If I can convince Phoebe Cates to come out of retirement, she'd be perfect. She runs a store down the street from me and she still looks fantastic.) I know that's not really how it works, but indulge me here.
And then there are the Why Bother days. Eeyore and I would be great pals (well, if he wasn't just a drawing.) No one cares! Get a real job!
Anyway, as many of you know, I'm in the process of trying to get an agent. Which is not so easy, turns out. I'm happy with my query letter and it's received a good response. My query letter stats are impressive. I have some partials and fulls out, some with agents I would kill to have represent me. But all that means bupkis without an offer. Bupkis!
I guess all these wild ups and downs are still better than just the flat nothing of not trying. And you all will come visit me in the institution, right?
*I'm exaggerating a little here, if that's not clear. My ego is not quite that large.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
And just try to read it aloud without crying. I dare you.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I went e-shopping last night and bought 17 books. I thought it would be easy--you know, the one stop shopping experience and all. But selecting just the right books were more difficult than I anticipated. Instead of picking a scarf or gloves (again!) I actually had to think about everyone's preferences. For example, Eminem's autobiography might not be the best selection for my literature-loving mother-in-law. And my dad might not adore Chuck Palahniuk's Choke.
But I think I found just the perfect book for everyone, and it gave me the opportunity to really sit and consider what it is that makes all my loved ones tick.
Books. Get ya some.
Monday, November 10, 2008
And, as always, I'm reading. I recently started The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski because I heard it was a modern take on Hamlet. And, hey, I like Hamlet, so why not? The writing is elegant--poetic, actually, but it's a little slow to start. To be fair, I'm only about 40 pages in and it seems like it's starting to pick up.
What are you reading (or writing) at the moment?
Friday, November 7, 2008
Luckily for the school, one of the current parents is a Big Movie Mogul and he always arranges for a premiere screening in a local theater. (And by premiere, I mean the movie isn't completely finished yet, so NO ONE has seen it. It doesn't even have a release date.) The movie starred Forrest Whittaker and was great--everyone cheered at the end. Hooray! Then the crowd moved on to a seated dinner for 300, whereupon I drank a little too much wine and am paying for it today.
Anyway, that's over, so now I can concentrate on novel-sort-of-in-progress #2 that has been neglected and is screaming for attention. I've finally named my MC, and I'm going to spend some time with her today, trying to figure out exactly what she wants and what is stopping her from getting it. I usually start stories with a character in mind, or sometimes a setting or plot, but this time I started with an idea for a climax and now have to fill in the rest. It feels odd for me. How do you usually start?
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Did you vote? How'd it go for you?
Oh, and if you are in the hellish querying process like me, be sure to check out Jessica Faust's blog entry today.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
I live on the Upper East Side in an area called Carnegie Hill, which is very residential. And, since there seem to be roughly 10,000 schools in a 20-block area, it's also full of families. The traffic isn't bad, but at certain times of the day we have stroller gridlock.
So yeah, Halloween. Most people live in apartment buildings. Often the staff puts on parties in the lobby and the residents sign up if they want to give out candy as well. All the trick-or-treaters get a list and go apartment to apartment, taking the elevator to the top and working down. Sometimes the halls are decorated (I spent about 2 hours yesterday doing mine.) All well and good, but I'd rather go outside. So we did.
The townhouses in the neighborhood go nuts with decorations -- on some blocks, every townhouse is covered with ghouls and spiderwebs. I took my kids up Madison (the stores all give out candy) and we wound our way up several of the better side streets, hitting the townhouses and buildings one by one. HUNDREDS of kids were out, many of whom we knew. Some streets blocked off traffic. One of the owners was holding a giant bag of candy and asked her how many she had to buy. "About thirty," she said.
We went home after about 2 1/2 hours of non-stop candy-grubbing.
How was your Halloween?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Now, don't get me wrong here. I don't like Sarah Palin (I guess I shouldn't put it that way...maybe she's a nice person. But I don't *support* her.) I don't want her to ever be president, or VP for that matter. Ever. Never ever. She's not my cuppa. Clear?
Treatment like this by the press both annoys and offends me as a woman. As a human being, for that matter. (If the link doesn't work, it's a Yahoo! News/Reuters article about a Vegas strip club that hosted a "Sarah Palin Lookalike Strip-off.")
So effing sexist.
I have no problem with the stip club having their fun. That's what they do. Fine. But for a news organization to report it nationally (along with some T&A pics, of course!) is just un.freaking.believeable. No wonder we Americans are so ill-informed. Syria? Who cares? Unrest in Congo? Zimbabwe collapsing? Huh? Whatever! Let's see some boobies!
So I shot an email off to Yahoo saying this:
How disappointing to see this sexist article on Yahoo News. I'm not a fan of Gov. Palin, but neither am I a fan of this kind of "reporting."
and got this reply:
...Please note, Yahoo! News does not write or edit any of the news on our site. If you have comments about the tone, angle, accuracy, or coverage of a story, please address them to the news provider directly.To identify the provider of a story, look at the upper-right corner of the page where you read the story. You'll see a graphic identifying the provider.
What? As if they have no responsibility to what gets on the news pages ON THEIR SITE? No way to edit or select topics? Just tell that to the users of Yahoo China.
Argh! I'm so sick of the inherent sexism in our news. Just like this. There are many reasons to mock Gov. Palin. No shortage! But her sexuality is not one of them.
Rant over. Whew, I feel better.
Monday, October 27, 2008
<---Lookie over here, and down. Under "Writer's Resources." This section is in need of an update. Yeah, sure, these are helpful sites, but I think I need a few more. And some blogs I visit every day aren't even listed. So what writerly sites get you going? Two blogs I read every single morning while drinking my cup of coffee are by literary agents Kristin Nelson and Jessica Faust. I love that they update every weekday, and it's always about something interesting and insightful--plus both blogs just have a great tone.
Writer's Digest and Poets & Writers have fantastic articles, but they don't update enough to warrant a visit every day.
I also enjoy:
Absolute Write (of course!)
And even though I don't write for the Christian market, I like Rachelle Gardner's blog.
I recently found The Writer's Edge as well. It's a group blog, and the posts are informative, albeit a cold, hard reality check about the state of publishing today.
But I'm sure I'm missing some great blogs. What are your recommendations?
Thursday, October 23, 2008
They were racing along and laughing when I heard someone shout out of nowhere, “GET YOUR KIDS OUT OF HERE! GET OUT! GET OUT!” and on and on. A man stood up, wild-eyed, dirty, and obviously crazy. He ranted about 9/11, the police, aliens, and God knows what else.
I can be a bit of a bitch sometimes and my first instinct was to shout back at him—who was he to be ordering people around?!--but since my kids were with me, we just ignored him and moved along. Swiftly. Much safer that way.
“Why was he yelling at us?” my daughters asked. I opened my mouth to tell them that he was crazy, that he had no right to scream those things, to forget all about him.
But then I remembered how I harp on them about being compassionate. Hadn’t I just lectured them about considering other people’s feelings? I guess that’s easy enough for me to say.
So instead I talked to them about what that man’s life must be like. He was obviously in need of help. What happens to people when they lack the skills to take care of themselves even in the most basic ways and they have no family for support? New York City offers services for the homeless, (in fact, in NYC, everyone has a *right* to housing) but they can’t MAKE anyone go to a shelter. If we called the police, that guy probably would just end up in jail.
I assured them that they weren’t doing anything wrong, but that in addition to feeling compassion for others, it’s also important to judge when to get the heck out of dodge.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about that guy a lot lately. Especially now that it’s getting cold.
Monday, October 20, 2008
“Stop by the 3rd Floor for Club Libby Lu! It’s just for girls!” the perky salesgirl said as we walked in, shoving a flyer into my hand. Take my advice: don’t--unless, by chance, your 3-12 year-old girl is in dire need of a cheesy makeover. Seriously. Look at these girls. All lined up like mail order brides. I don’t know if it was the sight of four-year-olds putting on makeup and hair extensions or kindergarteners getting manicures that did it, but my daughter and I ran screaming from Club Libby Lu. (She's a tomboy. My six-year-old wasn't with us--she'd be much more interested.)
Of couse, they had lots of Halloween costumes, so your daughter can look like this:
Or perhaps this:
Hot stuff! Isn't that just adorable! Let's dress them up like sexpots!
Thankfully, her friend prefers Legos. No problem.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
I used to think that YA wasn’t my thing. I’m a 37-year-old woman, for God’s sake. Why would I want to read about teenagers? I’ve had to eat a little crow because two of my favorite books this year fall under the category of YA: The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, and, most recently, Stop Me if You’ve Heard This One Before by David Yoo. Maybe I just like stories about misfits? I dunno, but both of these books resonated with me and they were both desperately funny.
The book trailer above does a great job of summarizing the plot (and I think book trailers are very cool—but that’s the topic of a different post.) The story is about Albert Kim, teenage eccentric and intentional loser, and his very unlikely love affair with the most popular girl in school, Mia. When Mia’s super-jock ex-boyfriend is diagnosed with cancer and uses that as an excuse to win her back, Albert finds that the whole school (the whole community!) is against his relationship with Mia.
There were enough late 80s/early 90s references for me to feel like I wasn’t reading about a different generation entirely, but the story is still relevant to high school students today.
Although they might wonder what are these things called “pay phones?”
Check it out. It’s hilarious
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
As the stock markets were collapsing (and recovering!) here in New York, I've been in Boston with the family doing some sightseeing and brother-in-law visiting. The weather has been glorious, and the trees in New England are beautiful right now.
So Boston is a lovely city--who knew? I'd only been through it a couple of times, but had never spent a day there. For anyone interested, they have a great science museum overlooking the Charles River--you can also catch the Duck Tours there for an overview of the city. We saw lots of interesting Revolutionary War-related sites, but my daughters were most fascinated by the following:
Salem Witch Trials
Salem is only about 40 minutes away from downtown Boston and worth the trip, especially in October. Several museums have renactments of the trials and the kiddos were transfixed with the whole story, especially the hangings. My youngest is giving a show and tell presentation on it this week. Hopefully she'll skip the part about the dude who was crushed by stones.
Boston Ghosts and Gravestones Tour
This riding/walking tour took us through some of the city's burial grounds (at night) and recalls ghoulish events, murders, and ghost stories like the molasses disaster , a haunted hotel , and hauntings at a library where they have a book bound in human skin. Yuck.
When my daughters' teachers ask what they saw in Boston, I hope that they mention the Freedom Trail and Paul Revere's house, but most likely they will talk about the Boston Strangler and what happens when an executioner uses more or less than 13 knots in a hangman's noose (you don't want to know.)
Okay, so yeah. My daughters like creepy stories.
I'm half expecting a call from the school today.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Hopefully there won't be any Great Floods of Molasses while we are there.
See you next week!
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
My family and I got our lazy butts out of bed on Sunday and actually made it to church for the first time in weeks. Despite having to shush my daughter 400 times, I’m glad we went because there was a very interesting speaker after the service.
Dr. James H. Cone spoke on the topic of Black Liberation Theology. An offbeat choice for an Upper East Side Episcopalian church with lots of Old New York names on the roster, that’s for sure. When I heard he was Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s teacher, my first reaction was to close off. Like a lot of people, I didn’t love what Rev. Wright said about AIDS and 9/11 and all those roosting chickens. And I didn’t particularly want to hear the rehashing of old YouTube clips.
But I’m glad I stayed around. I won’t go too much into his speech, because I wouldn’t be doing it justice, but Dr. Cone lived through the days of Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and the Jim Crow South, and most of his viewpoints about Christianity were formed in that environment. This was a time when the public meaning of Christianity was white, even within the black community itself. A time when theologians ignored white supremacy and the black struggle against it. He drew parallels between the Cross and the lynching tree. It was a shocking and painful but heartfelt speech on a subject most people try to forget (lynching as well as crucifixion.)
I think we, especially as writers, but also as citizens, are always enriched when we hear things from another point of view. His speech doesn’t necessarily change my opinion on Rev. Wright, but I do feel that I’ve gained some insight as to where all that anger was coming from. Parishioners after the speech were talking to each other about social justice, and my husband and I debated it as well. (That’s actually a big theme in our family—that and the broader theme of kindness—we have ongoing discussions with our daughters on these topics.)
Seeing things from another perspective is a good thing, as Martha would say.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
I was in a yoga class this week and I heard my BlackBerry go off (I forgot to silence it--honest! I'm not that woman.) It just beeps once for incoming email, so I didn't have to sheepishly run over and shut it up. But what did I think about for the entire remainder of the class? I wonder if that's a response to a query or partial. Not exactly very zen, right? I'm sure you know what it was, by the way... f&#^$ing spam.
I need to practice what I preach and get going on my next WIP. It's all plotted out and ready to go. I just need to focus. Ohhhmmm.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I'm probably being more than a little deluded here (the total chicken count is 12, even though they haven't yet hatched) but I've been thinking lately about the possible fallout if my book is ever actually available for purchase by people I know in real life.
There's nothing in there that will offend anyone *personally,* since none of my characters are based on anyone in particular, but I do have some slightly disturbing scenes tucked away. Including:
--A twelve-year-old girl who posts a naked video on the internet. (It's actually a little worse than that, but I'll just leave that part unsaid for now.)
--Two affairs, one written into a scene.
--A scene in which a little girl witnesses a violent crime.Ok, so yeah. I don't particularly want my young daughters reading this content. It's not really all that illicit, but there's just enough there to know what's going on.
I also have the fear that people might think my MC's viewpoint is the way I see the world. It's only partially that way. I made up a character based on a tiny little sliver of me--a fear of mine, actually-- then exaggerated it and shaped it into an entire person. But her mom is dreadful (my mom is nothing like that), her husband clueless (I adore my husband), her best friend turns on her (mine's great), and she has it out with her daughter's slightly bitchy school headmistress (my daughter's headmistress is lovely).
I'm getting way ahead of myself, but these are the things I tend to obsess about.
Anyone else worried about unintentionally pissing anyone off with your writing?
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I'm not sure when the winners are announced or what all is involved, but it feels great even to be nominated!
I'm using a lot of exclamation points today!
Sunday, September 28, 2008
We pitched four editors. The first really seemed enthusiastic about my pitch and wants to read my manuscript (hooray!). She didn’t have anything negative to say. The pitch, at least, totally clicked for her. She would be my dream editor, so let’s hope the writing does, too.
Two editors liked elements of my pitch, but when they asked further questions, it was obvious to me that I should have presented the same story in a completely different way.
With one editor, it was just so not her thing.
The funny thing is that I researched all four editors and had them pegged completely backwards. Based on the books the last woman edited, I thought it would be perfect for her. AND I thought the first editor wouldn’t be in to my kind of book at all.
So where do I stand now? I’m working on *two* versions of a query letter, at the recommendation of my workshop teacher. My “commercial version” is polished and ready. Now I need a more “literary version” in the hopes that I can be smart enough to match the right letter to the right agent. I’ve been told that my writing is literary and my plot screams commercial, so maybe two versions is the right way to go.
Ay yi yi...I'm all befuddled.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
So, Melanie asked in the comments yesterday about finding comparable books. Over on Absolute Write, it seems that evoking other authors in a query letter is taboo, but I have to say, it was HUGELY important at this conference. Maybe the difference is that we are pitching editors directly--I don’t know--but we spent a lot of time finding good ones in preparation for the pitch and several of the editors have commented about having them to market a book.
I am by no means an expert on the subject, but I can share with you what I learned:
--Make sure your comps match the tone of your pitch (or, I guess, letter.) My pitch was making my novel seem a bit more breezy than it is. Partially because of the setting, but partially because of my word choice. My comps at first were The Position by Meg Wolitzer (because of the whole multi-POV, family dynamic thing) and Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates because I’ve been told my novel is similar to that, but not quite as bleak. Revolutionary Road seemed to throw everyone. It’s a very literary, very dark book and my pitch just didn’t feel heavy. So I tweaked the pitch to be a bit more serious and switched both comps to sound like this:
In the style of The Ten Year Nap by Meg Wolitzer and Little Children by Tom Perotta, Up from Drowning explores the mother / daughter dynamic and idea of accepting the imperfections of the people we love.
Much better, and more clear.
--Don’t use a book everyone else would use (“It’s the new Harry Potter!” It’s just like the Da Vinci Code!”), but don’t use a book that no one knows, either. Try to pick a recent book that sold well.
--Be careful how you word why your novel compares. Use phrases like “With the honesty of ______.” Or “With the intimate voice of ____.” Think about HOW your novel compares and WHY you are using that book. It doesn’t have to be *just* like it. I’m not writing about an affair between a stay-at-home mom and a stay-at-home dad, but Tom Perotta writes about families well, and I have a similar style and pace. The Wolitzer book is set in Manhattan and is all about mothers, plus she uses more than one POV and touches on mother/daughter relationships.
--Actually read the book before you use it as a comp.
--Amazon is a great way to find comps. I looked up a book I thought might work, and magically Amazon suggested two more that actually worked better.
Friday, September 26, 2008
And yes, my husband has been doing a fabulous job picking up the kids and getting them where they need to be. Yay him. Now he just needs to get them to soccer and fencing and he's all finished.
At the conference yesterday, we broke into small groups based on genre and worked on our pitches. Then worked on our pitches some more. I think my butt is going to be completely flat and about three feet wide after this is over, because there is a lot of sitting and listening and working. Whatever it takes, I say, flat butt be damned if it the result is a strong pitch. Our teacher has been fantastic and really knows how to focus on the compelling part of a story to make it interesting.
So today I pitched my first editor, and it went very well. Surprisingly, she didn't have claws and fangs and she didn't say things like "Terrible!" and "What were you thinking?!" She was actually a nice person with good insight and suggestions. I'm feeling more confident after meeting her.
The conference is held in a dance/actor studio in midtown. I think people are trying out for Guys and Dolls and various other Broadway shows. Every once in awhile I take my flat butt out into the hall and see actors stretching and warming up their voices. During the pitch session today, we could hear la-la-LA-LA-la-la-la coming from another studio, and someone screaming like he'd been shot. Maybe I'll put on my jazz hands and go tryout, while I'm there and everything. Or maybe not.
Two more editors tomorrow, and one the day after.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I know this is probably more of a reflection on ME than it is on him. The girls will be thrilled that dad is picking them up from school. Other parents might wonder if he just got laid off, but that's okay. Everyone will be happy and healthy. Yet, I'm sure I'll be sitting at the conference, checking my watch around 3 pm, wondering if he got there. I'm ridiculous. The root of the problem is that I'm a control freak. Is there some sort of AA program or rehab for people like me?
Monday, September 22, 2008
It ended up being a good thing. I'm now thinking about my novel in a more precise way, and when people ask me what I'm writing about, I can tell them without too many "uhhs" or "umms." I have a background in marketing, so one would think a plan for selling would come easily, but it's tough when it's your own work and you've been obsessing over every little detail for the past year or more.
The first day of the conference is devoted to perfecting your pitch and making sure your novel has all the elements for commercial fiction. I've heard that the workshops can be tough and blunt, but that approach works for me. The 3 days that follow are devoted to pitching your story to editors. I'm slightly nervous there, but I think it will be fine.
I'll be sure to blog and tell you how it went!
Thursday, September 18, 2008
And with good reason. A good 70% of the parents in my kids' classes are related, somehow, to the financial markets. New York City is not a one-industry town by any means, especially compared to where we last lived (Los Angeles), where all anyone could talk about was movies, movies, movies. I worked in advertising back then, and I always got the distinct impression that many of my colleagues would rather work for the film industry. But still, Wall Street is HUGE here, and it impacts lots of other kinds of jobs.
Like, oh, trying to raise money for non-profits, which is what I do when I'm not writing. I'm expecting fundraising to be slim this year. That's just my opinion and I hope not, because it *directly* relates to the programs we can run for disadvantaged kids.
Also, overheard on Madison Ave: a woman haggling with a pedicab driver. "15 bucks to go 12 blocks?! Have you SEEN the stock market today?" Anyway, I noticed the Dow was up today. Let's hope it holds.
On a lighter note, my dog has an enormous wart on his face and it's growing exponentially every day. It's bigger than a marble! I'm taking him to the vet tomorrow to see if we can cut that sucker off.
So while you are worried of the potential collapse of the economy, keep poor Truman in your thoughts as well.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
This crisis did prompt a discussion about the priorities in our lives. Number one by a wide margin: family. As much as we love living in Manhattan, we could be happy most anywhere, doing most anything. Just saying that out loud made me feel better--much more secure. Everything else can fall into place after that.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Some of my favorite movies are One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Annie Hall. if I told you I liked The Clockwork Orange as a teenager, you'd think I was some sort of violent weirdo, so I'll leave that out.
In the late 1970s, I was busy peddling my bike round and round our cul-de-sac while my mom baked casseroles inside or ranch-style house. Pretty boring upbringing. So what's up with my fixation on the grit and sexuality of the 70s? Hmmm...best not to think about that too long.
What were you doing in the 70s? Were you even born? Or were you, as my mom would say "in the milk river?"
Monday, September 8, 2008
So now when someone googles my name, someone like, oh, A POTENTIAL AGENT, that's one of the hits. Big ladies doing naughty things. Please, please, please, don't think that's me, agent person.
I've already had that experience before. When I was in college, one of my dorm-mates had a dirty magazine and one of the featured women looked EXACTLY like me. (Well, not exactly, she was a bit more...bodacious. But exactly like me in the face.) So what does he do? Why, he makes copies and plasters them all over the hall, that's what.
How nice of him. Thanks, guy!
And, to be clear. That is NOT how I paid tuition.
Friday, September 5, 2008
New York may be a lot of things, but there is NO shortage of people around who are just a little "off." Or a lot "off." And I am drawn to people like that. Many of them are characters in my stories. Like there is this old woman who sits in a lawn chair on the toniest part of Madison Avenue, watching the people go by. She sits right on the sidewalk, pretty much in everyone's way, directly in front of the Carolina Herrera store. And she's all dolled up--dress, jewelry, makeup. She's there every day. I say "hi" to her, and I wonder What's her story?
She's next on the list.
Or there's the homeless dude who plays the harmonica around the corner from my building. He plays loudly. Badly. Apparently, that's his angle. But, he's a super nice guy. And he's made it into my novel. I'm considering giving him a copy once it's published (confidence! make it so!), but I'm afraid I'll hurt his feelings about the bad harmonica playing. Is it possible he thinks he's good?
Or, really, I can just take my notebook and sit outside if I am lacking ideas.
What inspires you?
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
If anyone would like to point and laugh at my feeble attempt at query writing, I've posted it for all to mock here on SYW. There's a reason they call it Query Hell, but hopefully a pretty polished query will rise up from the ashes.
Happy Tuesday, everyone.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Monday, August 25, 2008
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
Friday, August 8, 2008
Monday, August 4, 2008
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Friday, July 25, 2008
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Monday, July 21, 2008
Friday, July 18, 2008
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Friday, June 27, 2008
Monday, June 23, 2008
A-Attached or Single? Attached. I've been married for 13 years this October. Good God. 13 years.
B-Best Friend? My husband, my mom, and my friend Jennifer.
C-Cake or Pie? Cake. Cupcakes from a bakery called Two Little Ren Hens, if I get a choice.
D-Day of Choice? A BlackBerry-free Saturday.
E-Essential Items? BlackBerry, laptop, my favorite boots
F-Favorite Color? Cobalt blue.
G-Gummy Bears or Worms? Bears. The worms look gross hanging out of my kids' mouths.
H-Hometown? Springfield, MO, although I was born in St. Louis.
J-January or July? July. At the beach.
K-Kids? Two girls named Naomi and Charlotte
L-Life isn’t complete without…travel. I love to travel. To anywhere, really.
M-Marriage Date? October 21, 1995 in Los Angeles
N-Number of Siblings? None! Only brat.
O-Oranges or Apples? Oranges. Apples don't do it for me. Unless they are baked in cinnamon.
P-Phobias or Fears? Sharks. I'm terrified of them.
Q-Quote? "If you haven't got anything nice to say about anyone...come sit here by me."
R-Reason to Smile? My crazy daughters.
S-Superman or Wonder Woman? Easy. Wonder Woman.
T-Tag 5 people. Melanie http://melanieavila.blogspot.com/, Janna http://somethingshewrote.blogspot.com/, Ed http://edpahule.blogspot.com/, and Polenth http://polenth.blogspot.com/
W-Worst Habit? Complaining, especially when it's hot outside.
X-Ray or Ultrasound? Um, what?
Y-Your Favorite Food? BBQ potato chips
Z-Zodiac Sign? Capricorn
Saturday, June 21, 2008
So yeah, most of my characters tend to be women between the ages of 25 and 45. None of them are me, but all of them are me-esque, at least when it comes to voice. (Not their actions! I promise!) My next short story that I’ve plotted out is about an oversexed, insecure man in his late 60s, so I hope he doesn’t sound like he’s had a strong dose of estrogen.
Do you have a certain type of character you rely on? Is it anything like you? Or do you easily crawl into someone else’s psyche?
Thursday, June 19, 2008
I did get some comments back on my WIP. LOTS of comments. But good ones, and I'm excited to read them. And get to work. Tonight. How's your WIP coming along?
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Happy Father's Day to all the dads! I'm off to whip together a breakfast for my dear husband before we give him his gifts, then I'll see my own dad later today. Yes, I know it's a made up, Hallmark holiday. But still. I have some great dads in my life and they deserve some handmade cards and token gifts. What are your plans for Father's Day? Do you celebrate?
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Conditions must be perfect for me to write. Quiet house, full stomach, green genmaicha tea at the ready on my right hand side (in my favorite mug, the one that's not too big nor too small.) So one could imagine how much writing I've been doing since my kids have been out of school. Zippo!
I admire people who can make it all work, and often I feel like a spoiled princess when I hear about people writing with seven kids running around and a house to clean, or working 50 hours per week at a stressful job and coming home to write late into the night. Maybe I could do it if I had to, but it's more likely that they are just made from a hardier stock. So are you one of those people who make me look like a wimp? What's your writing routine?
Friday, June 6, 2008
Thursday, June 5, 2008
Sunday, June 1, 2008
I so rarely get a chance to just out-and-out brag about my own accomplishments, so dammit, I’m gonna do it today. Yay me.
Let us all be narcissistic today! Please share a brag about yourself
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
It did get me thinking about the whole blogging thing—how much is too much to share, and how would I handle it if people started criticizing me publicly?
Truth? I’d hate it. I have a decently thick skin when it comes to constructive criticism about my writing, but if someone doesn’t like how I live my life, they can shove it. Which, of course, begs the question as to why I’m keeping a blog in the first place.
I’d love to hear about other people’s experiences with trolls, nasty comments, or oversharing, so if you have any, lay it on me.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Joyce Carol Oates
Yes, I know she’s dark. Her books are not a pick-me-up. But who better can face hideousness head-on, unflinching, using just the right verb to make you feel it, too? I struggle with writing uncomfortable scenes, and I always read a few pages of JCO before tackling something ugly. If she can confront it, I can, too, and I shouldn’t worry about what my mother will think.
And I’ll have to add Jhumpa Lahiri here as well, since they both can capture a perfect jewel of a story with just the right bittersweet ending. Plus I’m partial to short stories.
The queen of brevity.
So I’ve shown you mine. Now show me yours.
Saturday, May 17, 2008
Well, NOW what? Have a baby? Not a third, thank you very much. Go back to work? Hm, doing what? Not advertising again, I’d be a friggin dinosaur compared to everyone else. Go get your Master’s in something….Well, maybe.
As it so happens my friend Dee Dee had arranged for a book luncheon for about 20 or so of us. Her friend Karen Quinn had authored The Ivy Chronicles and agreed to talk to the gathering about her book, her life, and the publishing business. Karen was just so cute and bubbly and she made it seem so…easy. She quit her job and created a book suitable for publication within a few months. Just set your mind to it and *presto,* a book appears.
Isn’t that how it works? I mean, I was an English major and had written stories before—I might have been a little rusty, but it shouldn’t be so hard, right?
We shall see. I wrote a short story for The Missouri Review, a well-regarded literary magazine that just happens to be published by my alma mater. They would print it, of course. Except…no. Neither would Ploughshares. Nor Mid American Review. Nor many, many others. What the! What's going on here?
I have actually had a couple of things published (under My Writing) and I’m nearly finished with my novel. Turns out, I don’t have 1/10th the energy of Karen. But I’m plugging along.
Hey, how’d you get started?