Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Tiny dogs, pot pipes, and body art

...Otherwise known as "research." While the books I write aren't research intensive like historical fiction, I still like to get things right. Sometimes the research is dry, like reading all I can about the California gubernatorial election process. A bit of a yawn, but necessary.

Other times, it's much more fun. A quick glance at my laptop's history folder would reveal some interesting searches:

--Sailing / pirate terminology (Arr!)

--What breed of dog might fit inside a trench coat pocket?

--Jim Jones/ Kool-Aid/ Hale-Bopp comet cult

--Narcissistic personality, symptoms of. (No, not me.)

--Tattoo parlors in Venice, CA. (There are lots.)

--Is it possible to make a bong out of a kazoo? (Answer: yes, and this young man will demonstrate.)

Ah, I love the internet.

Have you run across any weird facts while researching a project?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Revision Cafe, table for one

My agent has given me a lot to chew on with regards to my shiny new manuscript, and Moonrat's recent post on the importance of the first page is a good reminder as I re-work my opening.

Anyone care to babysit? The (wonderful! supportive!) hubs has taken the girls out all day*, but since he can't exactly leave his job that pays, yanno, actual bills, I foresee a bit of Wii in my kids' future.

How's your writing these days?

*Related aside: I've been sitting here revising for so long, I fear my butt is square.

Monday, June 21, 2010

We have a winner!

If your name is Vicki Lane and you entered the query contest with the entry below CONGRATS to you! You will be contacted by someone who is not me shortly.

Vicki said...
I'd love to be entered in this contest. Congrats on your book and your query
is awesome!!

And a huge THANK YOU to everyone who entered!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A crisis of hair

Remember way back in March when I cheated on my hairdresser and paid a dear price? To recap, an emergency cut before a big party resulted in stylish bangs like these:

The back was too long as well, and it looked almost...almost...mullet-y. Zut alors!

It took me until June to work up the courage, and the length, to go back and admit my transgression to my regular stylist, B.

B was not amused, blog friends. Not one little bit.

B: "Ah, I zhe how you ahhre. You come in wits zhis mess and you want B to fix, yes?" (B is from Aix-en-Provence, and if my rendition of his (very awesome) accent is off, well, it's zhe best I could do.)

Moi: "Yes. (bows head) I'm sorry. If if makes you feel any better, I had to go to a black-tie event with terrible hair, so I've learned my lesson."

B: "It does NAUGHT. (picks up strands) Ugh. She cut zhis wits a RAAZORRRRE, didn't she? Your HAAAIIIIRREE is too FIIIIINE for zhat! I 'ave told you!"

Moi: (weeps) I don't remember if she used a razor.

B: (crosses arms) She did. I can see. I 'ave eyyes.

Moi: Maybe you are right.

B: Of causse I am. (takes my head in his hands) No more! No more of zhat! Oh-kay?

Moi: Never.

B: Oh-kay zhen. I will fix.

Whew! So we are back together. And we didn't even need a counselor. I love B -- he can sure dish it out, but he can also take it. Plus, I look like myself again.

How about you? Have you had to admit a mistake lately?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Camp Mom

Ahh, summertime. No school, no alarm clocks, no commitments, no...time to write.

That's right. My kids are out of school now and, although they are doing a couple of planned activities here and there (most notably a week of Space Camp), most of the summer will be a lot of hanging out. And we all know what that means:

"Mooooo-ooom, what are we going to do today?"

Oh, I dunno, you can watch me write?

Yeah, they aren't so excited about that one.

Luckily, my manuscript is in wait mode at the moment, so I have loads of time to dedicate to my two little preciouses. Let's just review what we've done since school ended, shall we?

Strawberry picking
A Dave & Busters headache inducing lunch and arcade-ing
Times Square-tourist-dodging
Sag Harbor pier fried-clam-eating
Big Olaf ice cream-consuming while enormous yacht-watching
Beach frisbee-throwing and frigid wave-jumping
Lame, girly football-tossing
Nature center-hiking
Shorts and t-shirt-shopping
Chase-around-the-yard-with-a-garden-hose spraying

Whew! I'm tired already. Did you notice any "time for mom" on that list? No, no, you did not. Oh well. Don't get me wrong--I'm not complaining.

How's your summer going? Any big plans?

Friday, June 11, 2010

A rant about the Gulf Coast

The STAY query critique contest has been extended for another week! Allie's being linked in some other blogs and we agreed to keep 'er open. Thanks for your patience, entrants. Mwah! More exposure for STAY = good.

Now, I don't know about you, but I can't seem to pry my eyes away from the oil depress-a-thon that is the Gulf coast. Just ask my husband--I won't shut up about it. Gawd. How awful/frustrating/infuriating/horrifying. I think the worst part is that, with a few exceptions, we all seem to be a bit underutilized, waiting for BP to do what's right. And they just won't.

I even got disgusted enough to email the White House and all the state volunteer registration sites. I told to them I'm *very* good at organizing volunteers, and I can work down there all summer, for free. I've organized for many a benefit and I would love, LOVE to do it for something non-fancy-party related. If they take me up on it, I'll let you know. I'll totally go! It would at least give me some new and exciting blog topics.

I bet I'm not the only person with something to give. Maybe not weeks of free labor, but something, right?

I know not everyone can take off work and fly down to the coast, but if you could do something, what would you do? Wash that bird up there? Hold a fundraiser for oystermen? Lay some boom?

Are you as pissed off as I am?

Monday, June 7, 2010



Listen up! STAY by Allie Larkin is coming out this week! How cute is that cover? Love.

To honor this momentous event, we've strongarmed amazing agent Rebecca Strauss of McIntosh & Otis into a query contest! (Actually, she was happy to do it.) Wondering of you have an effective query? Allie will choose one winner at random for a private critique by Rebecca. Just leave a comment below and let me know if you'd like to be entered. To up your chances, you can also visit Allie and Corinne Bowen (one comment per blog, please.)

ETA: The winner will be selected by Allie FRIDAY at NOON and contacted shortly thereafter.

Here's a little about Rebecca:

An Agent at McIntosh & Otis, Inc., Rebecca is eager to work with both debut and established authors. She is looking to add to her list of diverse and compelling projects and is particularly seeking non-fiction, literary and commercial fiction, women's fiction, mysteries, memoirs, humor and pop culture. As the Director of Subsidiary Rights, she continues to build on her prior experience with Trident Media Group, as well as her time at Sony Pictures where she was a book scout and development assistant. Rebecca earned her degree in English Literature from Duke University.

So what's this STAY all about?

From PW: Twenty-something Van Leone, fresh from serving as maid of honor at the wedding of her childhood best friend and the man Van's been in love with since college, impulsively buys a German shepherd puppy on the Internet while drowning her sorrows in vodka and a late-night Rin Tin Tin marathon. Van's surprised to discover, however, that the little ball of fuzz she's expecting is an enormous Slovakian police dog that she names Joe.

Sounds like something I might've done in my 20s.

Lucky me, I already have my copy and I can tell you that it's great--so witty and funny. Allie was nice enough to answer a few questions for us:

I know you have 2 dogs--one of which made the cover of your novel. What's the craziest thing your dogs have done?

They are both German Shepherds, so they play hard. It’s somewhat reminiscent of a nature documentary. They bark and growl and roll around on the ground together (sometimes in the yard and sometimes in the living room).Their teeth gnash, but their tales wag the whole time. They play until they are completely exhausted. Sometimes, Argo lets Stella tackle him, and it’s hysterical. Stella is small for a German Shepherd, and Argo has about 35 pounds on her, but he’ll throw himself on the ground like she’s knocked him over, when she clearly doesn’t have the heft to.He’s very dramatic.

How did you find your agent?

I found Rebecca Strauss’s listing on and thought she might be a good fit for my book. I sent her a query letter, sample pages, and a synopsis, and she picked my query out of the slush pile. I know a lot of writers fear that things like that don’t happen and it’s all about who you know. I had a few contacts who were generous with their help, but ultimately what worked for me was sending a query through the traditional submission lines.Rebecca and I had no previous connections.

Who would you cast in the movie version of STAY, if you had a choice?

J and I joke about casting choices all the time. I'm on a Buffy/Angel kick right now, so the current joke is James Marsters in every role.

What led you to writing?

When I started college, I was a theatre major. I loved my acting classes. We worked on developing characters, taking apart scenes, and figuring out the intentions behind the characters in the scenes. I was less enthralled with that whole getting up and performing on stage part of things, which is not really ideal when you’re a theatre major. I dropped out of school for several years. When I finally went back, as a Communications major, I had a few professors who really made a point of letting me know that writing was something I should consider pursuing. I am so thankful for that. I added some creative writing classes to my course schedule in future semesters. When I started writing fiction, I felt like things began to click for me.

Under what circumstances are you at your most creative?

I come up with a lot of story ideas and solve a lot of issues that are holding me up in a story when I’m doing something active. I realized Van needed a dog while I was raking leaves in the backyard. I worked out some difficult Van/Peter dialogue while hiking with Argo. So much of my creative process happens while I’m not writing, and then when I sit down to write, I know what I need to do.

What sort of themes do you find come up in your writing?

I’m very interested in how complex friendships can be. Some are both delicate and durable at the same time. And even though there is a simplicity to some aspects of love, the way we love people and the reasons we love people are not simple concepts.

Thanks, Allie!

Well, what are you waiting for? Leave a comment and go visit Allie and Corinne!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Using Quotes

I'm usually not a lover of famous quotes as a chapter opener. In fact, if the quote is too long, I've been known to skip right over it (shhh, don't tell the author) and get right in to the meat of the story. But a few months ago, I stumbled across the world's most appropriate quote for my current manuscript. I'm obsessed with it! Could not be more perfect!

Apparently there are all sorts of legal wranglings for using quotes in your novel. It has to fall under "fair use" and there are rules about determining if that's the case. I know I'm getting ahead of myself here, as usual, but I guess I'm just wondering if it's even worth pursuing. (I realize there are people who deal with this sort of thing--I'm just taking a poll.)

What do you all think about famous quotes in novels. And by "quotes," I don't mean, "As Julius Caesar once said, "Et tu, Brute?" but something more like this:

Chapter 1

Blah blah blah blah. Blah!
--Willie Nelson

Tell me. Do you read them? Are you impressed by the author's mad quoting skillz? Or do you skim and skip?