Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bad reputation

Okay people. I did a bad thing. Karma bit me in the butt about it, too. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I...I cheated on my hairdresser.

I know! Terrible! But my long bangs had gone from "stylish" to "sheepdog" and I was away from the New York AND I have this Big FancyPants Party to go to next week and I just couldn't get to him in time. So just a trim from someone new would be okay, right? Follow the lines that are already there? How hard could it be?

This would be awesome if it were 1981.

Actually, it's way worse that ol' Joan's hair here. Picture the bangs much shorter. Nearly Mamie Eisenhower short, but with the all-over layers that look just amazing with my fine, flat hair. Yeah.

This is probably more accurate.
Bring it, Mrs. Brady.

So what do I do with this now? Curl it? Own it? Rock it?

What do you do with a bad situation?

Monday, March 22, 2010

In which I explain my undying love of paper books

I critiqued the opening to a friend's novel the other day, and during a little back-and-forth via email, she referenced the first two paragraphs of Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner. That's not right, I thought, her book starts out much more global--I'm going to look that up. So I head over to my trusty bookshelves to prove her wrong*:

Only it wasn't there. Oh, that's right. I read Best Friends Forever on my Kindle. I powered her up and flipped through my 3 pages of book choices and until found the title.

That got me thinking. What's my plan, here? Am I going to have my whole library stored in a little device?

Sure, e-readers are convenient. My library branch smells like old shoes and body odor, so I'm disinclined to borrow books. And the Kindle is especially great for traveling. No lugging suitcases that weigh like they are filled with rocks. I can zap a couple of books for the trip and I'm good to go. The screen reads nicely, and I love the built-in dictionary, especially for reading The Road. (What the hell is a "travois?" Click. Oh.)

But for regular use, for me, it's just too ephemeral. How long do I plan to keep those books there? Forever? I have books on my shelf I bought in high school. It's been a while since I read Animal Farm, but in case I feel the need, there it is. My old Norton Anthology of Poetry sits on my shelf, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" still highlighted in pink (always pink!)

And what's my other choice--to have the Kindle books vanish into the ether?

I dunno. I'm just not loving it as much as I thought. What do you think? Do you have an e-reader? Do you want one?

*She was right.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Yeah, um, about that main character...

I do quite a lot of reading and critiquing other writer's manuscripts--sometimes online, for real-life friends, or for my Most Awesome Critique Group. I like reading for others and it's essential for my own work to hear the opinion of trusted fellow writers to tell me what works, what's dragging, and if my main character is coming across as clever and witty (good!), or just a bitch (not so much good.)

I've critiqued Middle Grade, Young Adult, Sci-Fi, Paranormal, Poetry, Short Stories (many) Thriller, literary fiction, and LOADS of women's fiction. I'm genre-promiscuous. The one thing I have a tougher time ripping apart so the author can put it back together is memoir, or thinly-veiled fiction about the author.

Now, most of the time I can do it. I can find issues with pacing, or characterization, or whatever.

But this one time.

This one time, I just did NOT like the main character at all. At ALL.* She was vain and mean! And did terrible things other people's expense! And didn't change a whit throughout the story! And it was So. Clearly. Her.

Gawd. What do you do then? "Hey, the story was fine, but I didn't really like,"

I gave her kind of a half-assed critique, but was too chicken to come right out and say what I was thinking. I know--to each her own. Other people might dig it.

What would you do? Tell her your real thoughts? Or dance all around it?

*If I've critted for you and you are reading this thinking OMG SHE'S TALKING ABOUT ME, don't worry, I'm not. I guarantee the author doesn't read this blog.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

At the risk of sounding like a Puritan...

I consider myself fairly internet savvy. I mean, I have a blog, I tweet, I Facebook, all that stuff. I know about Nigerian princes and have a good idea of how people act when they are anonymous (dreadfully.)

My kids' school held an internet safety seminar last week held by the good people at Let's just say I'm now ready to move my family to a yurt in rural Nepal.

My kids are not online yet. They've played a few games, but mostly screen time is limited to weekends, and between fencing and tournaments and blah blah blah, our weekends are overscheduled (which is a completely different problem.) But. See it, right there on the horizon? It's coming.

Popular with the tween set is Addicting Games, I can see why. Hundreds of games from which to choose, and all free! And it's run by Nickelodeon, so great, right? Sure! Unless you walk in the room and, what's this? Cartoon naked ladies? Why, it's Perry the Perv! A hero for all young lads! Here's a description:

"There are some luscious landscapes to view, but don't get caught or it's a fist in the mouth. Can you help this pervert catch some lurid looks at the ladies?"

Oh nice. Thanks Nickelodeon, where a kid can be a kid. Or a perv. Whatever.

Also on a few fun gaming sites are banner ads for Chatroulette, which is, of course, entirely kid friendly, what with the penises and all. Come on in to my home! Check out my kid!

For research purposes, of course I had to check it out. And, well, I was curious. Unsolicited advice for those wondering about Chatroulette: don't. Just...don't. Here are the Cliff's Notes version, so you don't need to have these images taking up space in your brain. Ew.

Things I saw on Chatroulette:

--Boobs (Big ones!)
--Hairy moobs*
--A person of questionable gender wearing a Mardi Gras mask.
--Men diddling with their pants off (several.)
--A tween girl (Where are your parents, young lady?)
--More boobs.
--Couples making out (again, several. What the hey?)
--A skinhead with a rebel flag behind him, flipping me the bird.


Not my thing.

So now I'm trying to come up with some ground rules for my daughters. Rules I know they will break and see all this stuff anyway. Oh boy.

What are your thoughts on all this? If you have kids, are they online? How do you handle it in your house? And, is it possible to get a manicure in Kathmandu?

*Click on the pronunciation button to hear someone who sounds very much like Colin Firth saying "moobs." I giggle at this stuff because I am immature.

ETA: @PauloCamposInk forwarded me Jon Stewart's take on Chatroulette. Yep, that's about it!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

This is just so, so wrong

If you've been around for a while, you know how much I enjoy making fun of my mom, but sometimes I wonder if this is really fair. I mean, she really is a good person. Honestly. She's friendly and talkative (even to surly taxi drivers with limited English--no matter! just keep on chatting!) She's kind and loving. She'll do just about anything for you.


She's one of Those People.

You know the ones.

The ones who commit such crimes as BUYING SUNGLASSES FOR DOGS.

Does this dog look happy to you?

And that's not all. Oh no. Not even close. This tiny armoire is BRIMMING with DOG CLOTHES.
See that little flapper get-up in front? That's her dog's EASTER DRESS. Yes. Have I even thought of what my own human children will be wearing for Easter Sunday yet? No, I have not. What's more, this dog has her own LUGGAGE. I suppose it's for when she jets off to the French Riviera.

This all reminds me of something...hmm, what was it? Oh yes, Pets Who Want to Kill Themselves.

I can see why.

Do you know anyone like this? For the dogs' sake, I hope not. Think of the animals, people.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Loner? Or Butterfly?

I'll admit it. I'm one of those people who bow the gods of peer pressure. Like when my friends Jennifer and Tracie said I should join the gymnastics team with them in 4th grade, I signed up even though I SO CLEARLY had no real ability. And by that I mean not only am I, ahem, rather uncoordinated, I'm also terrified of falling. ( fall a LOT in gymnastics. Hello broken arm, wrist, dislocated shoulder. Fun.)

Sometimes, though, it's worked to my advantage. My roommate in college was thankfully quite the grind, so I learned quickly how much more time I put into studying when everyone around me was doing the same thing. Yes, I was one of those weird late-night library people, toiling away at the shared tables and occasionally stealing peeks at the male versions of my species.

Now that I'm a (semi) responsible adult, one might think I'd be beyond all that and could motivate myself without anyone kicking my butt. Sometimes I can, but more often than not I sit down to bang out a chapter and it goes more like this:

type type type type hmmm, this passage reminds me of Kathy. I wonder what she's up to? type type type type Is that my BlackBerry going off? I wonder if it's important? (Hint: it won't be.) type type type Maybe I should check that type type type type type Is the mail here yet? type type Better go check.
While I'm up, I'll check the BlackBerry. And Facebook. And Twitter. Hey, any new comments on the blog? What's up on AW?

Get my drift?

I'm really not meant to be a loner. I can deal with it, having been raised an only child, but I'm a social animal. Hence all the social network checking.

Luckily for me, I've recently been getting together with a writing partner. Add one other person typing away in a room and viola! I want to do it, too! Productivity! This also works well when I go to Paragraph.

How about you? Are you a loner, or do you need a push from a friend?