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Finger on the pulse, and other observations from last month.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I bought the October Vanity Fair back in, well, October. It's the one where Lindsay Lohan is on the cover looking all Talented Mr. Ripley and talking about how she was totes recovered and stuff, how things were A-OK, SPORTS FANS, like the black bandy thing on her leg was a hot retro anklet! Shortly after, Lindsay checked into Betty Ford, where she allegedly scaled the wall while attempting to get a Diet Coke. I get that, by the way. We must let nothing stand between us and those sweet brown dew drops. One love, LiLo.

nataliedee.com
Relapse aside, my goal was to read the mag cover-to-cover on a flight from Florida to Michigan. For this same excursion, I had also packed serious smarty pants books about the degradation of feminism and stuff, plus sticky notes to make intellectual notes in the pages, and pads of paper to jot down thoughts on the world, ruminations on life, ideas for short stories -- the splashes of creativity that only come when cruising at 39,000 feet on luxurious Spirit Airlines, slogan "Enjoy A Diet Coke For A Small Fee On Your Visa Or Mastercard," a.k.a., "Betty Ford Has Nothing On Us."

But what transpired instead? I played solitaire on my phone. And that game where you flick a ball of paper into a wastebasket against the windy peril of an enemy desk fan. And I slept with my mouth open. And I ate about a trillion candied pecans out of my purse, because airlines are in such a state nowadays that you have to smuggle your OWN NUT PRODUCTS ON BOARD. Forget the TSA kerfuffle. I want my snacks restored!

I've since cracked the Vanity Fair. I'm past photos from the Jessica Seinfeld party in the Hamptons, but not yet to the think piece on the NEW ESTABLISHMENT 2010 (I predict Snooki).


I did come across a great John Heilpern interview with Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner, and wanted to share this quote with the rest of you writers who live for the craft but would just assume eat purse peanuts until your stomach bleeds than pick up a pen some days.

John Heilpern: "Do you agree that writers are world-class avoiders of writing?"

Tony Kushner: "I could run rings around anyone! Gardening is a great diversion. I have a terrace, and I'll suddenly decide even in the dead of winter to go out and wrap pots in burlap. I shop. I shop for books and more books. There's so much that's really good to watch on TV, too - most recently Breaking Bad. I also have a fountain pen fetish."

So, there you have it. Burlap pots. Makes me feel like a machine. Thanks, Tony!

The terror continues.

Me and Jennifer Weiner, sitting in a tree. Uh... wait. Not like that.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Oh, hey, speaking of my undying girl crush for Jennifer Weiner, I thought I should share this with you. This is me getting my book signed by Jennifer at the Poynter Institute in 2009. I'm such a dorky fan girl. JUST LOOK AT THE CRAZY IN MY EYES.  Also, my chest is about to free itself to glory, but I clearly don't care. High moment in life.

Women writers helping women writers (and other warm fuzzies)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Here's a total must read from Sarah Pekkanen about marketing. I know, I know. Marketing. How cold and blah, right? We are ARTEESTS, after all, and needed be bothered with such corporate schlock.

False.

I've heard from a few different published folks about how hard it is to promote your stuff once it actually gets released. You may have the most genius book in history, but if no one knows about it, it doesn't do much good other than to hold down the book shelf (clue -- it holds itself down because it's WOOD). It's super scary that once you get past the high hurdles of being published in the first place, it's still hard as stale cookies to get noticed.

Fortunately, the Internet works in mysterious, connective tissue ways and totally aids in this process. And Sarah, whose book I read when it came out, lays it all out. She was a first time author doing all she could to promote The Opposite of Me. That's when she came upon some serendipity in the form of Jennifer Weiner, who agreed to give out autographed copies of her own hit books for people who pre-ordered Sarah's. Just read the essay, she tells it better than this girl (currently on the couch in a pasta coma picking mascara off my eyes).

She speaks the truth, by the way. I only found out about Sarah's book through Jen Weiner's blog. Color me a statistic. But it's a good lesson. A really good lesson. And it's nice to see a little network of authors helping each other out.

Kumbaya, betches. Let's hug.

Give me the cupcakes and nobody gets hurt

Friday, October 29, 2010

How to make your agent love you, from Michael Erard:

HINT: IT INVOLVES BAKED GOODS.

Related: This cupcake dress (well, it's technically a blouse, but who has time for pants these days?) from Etsy is what I really wanted to wear for Halloween this year. Unforch, I couldn't convince my boyfriend to go as a wax candle. Men. Can't live with 'em...

Etsy.com, devaniweaver

"It looks like a small nose," and other navel gazing

Monday, October 25, 2010

Just read a good blog from Miriam Goderich at Dystel and Goderich Literary about the influx of queries she sees for less than stellar memoirs:

Simply being the victim of physical or psychological abuse, real or perceived, doesn’t do it. Well crafted prose that lovingly explores the contents of one’s navel doesn’t either. Exotic experiences involving travel or bizarre encounters don’t guarantee a good read.

I relate to this as a journalist. So many people have crazy, complicated lives, but it's our job to find what amounts to an actual meaningful story and not just rambling, unfocused navel gazing. It can be tough.

Are you writing a memoir? Check it.

Blooooooog.

Speaking of navels... HAVE YOU SEEN THE ONE ON JOHN STAMOS? "It looks like a small nose," he once told Conan O'Brien. Beloved Uncle Jesse has a deformed stomach! It almost makes him more charming. Maybe. Actually, I'm not sure. Oh, just watch for yourself.

The Internet is really, really great... for porn.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Writing break for meandering thoughts...

Is it weird that I associate certain sentences with certain places? Like, I wrote a line about Christmas sweaters and holiday cards at Lonnis in St. Petersburg, so I will always think of Lonnis when I read that sentence. Is that a... what? Photographic memory? Sentencegraphic memory? Sandwichgraphic memory?  Is the power of Lonni's Sunny Bird wrap (turkey, French dressing, cream cheese, sunflower seeds, slice of AMAZING) just so powerful that it reacts with the words to sear them in my brain for all eternity?

Whatever.  I need to go to sleep.

OH, but not before I tell you something! I was in Borders cafe (a.k.a., my office) writing last night, and I glanced up from my computer and.... and... There was a dude just STRAIGHT UP LOOKING AT PORN. I'd write exactly what he was looking at, but that would make my fingers feel dirty. Let's just say the headline involved a word you should never call a lady. I've heard of people looking at porn in libraries before, but this was new to me. I mean, there was a table of old ladies right behind him making beaded jewelry, for the love of Moses! The funny thing is, when he walked in I immediately thought, "This looks like a guy who would look at porn in the coffee shop." He had those sandals that aren't really sandals because the toes are partially closed. Public porn shoes, right? Am I right? Then I chided myself for making a snap judgment about someone I didn't know. Then... porn.

Moral of the story? Snap judgments might sort of work.

I'll leave you with this song about porn. Night night!

Blogs climbin' in your window, snatchin your people up.

Monday, September 20, 2010

New blog alert from my HOMEGIRL SARA. Well, it's not new, but it's new to me. Betsy Lerner gives advice and venting space to writers. She says, and I quote, "Answering basic questions such as how to write an effective query letter to more complex issues involving writers' personalities, especially but not limited to their self-destructive proclivities." PERFECT.

Betsy Lerner

And here is my HOMEGIRL SARA'S BLOG.

And here is the BED INTRUDER SONG. Just because.

Buy my friends' books, plz. Kthx.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quick plug for two friends who just released new books. Buy them! Trust me! I went to a book signing at Haslam's in St. Pete yesterday and got my autographed copies from both fellas.

FIRST BOOK TO BUY, YOUS GUYS:

Pulitzer Prize winner Tom French presents the masterful Zoo Story: Life in the Garden of Captives. The book, based on years of reporting inside Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo, wrestles with uncomfortable questions of freedom, of whether or not animals are better off in captivity. I had the pleasure of helping to proofread it before it came out, which, for this nerd, was so exciting. Zoo Story is heartbreaking and honest and funny and suspenseful. It features a tiger who loves Obsession perfume and a chimp who flirts with blonds in tank tops. What else do you need? I mean, COME ON.

Here's a USA Today review. And here's Tom on the Colbert Report last week!


SECOND BOOK TO BUY, YOU PEOPLE:

Tom's BFF Roy Peter Clark just released The Glamour of Grammar: A Guide to the Magic and Mystery of Practical English. Roy got a friggin' great review in the New York Times last week. Roy is a renowned writing coach, but his books don't make you want to claw your eyes out and jump off a roof to your bloody death. They're really entertaining and bright.

I'm also geeked out to report that I made the pages! At a Jennifer Weiner appearance last year at the Poynter Institute, Roy told me about his book and how he planned to use an item I wrote about... KELLIE PICKLER'S HAIR. Hur?


This narrative masterwork is basically me imagining Kellie getting caught in wind tunnel and doused with maple syrup. Hardly high-brow writing guide fodder. So I laughed at Roy and finished my wine and figured I'd believe it when I see it.

But I'll be damned. Page 207.  

Step Up 3D can teach us so much... if we only let it.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

You guys, I just saw Step Up 3D.


I TOTALLY DID. I can't even lie. I got invited, so I went. Who am I to turn down anything with the potential to be So-Bad-It's-Good (SBIG)? I'm also a sicko fan of So You Think You Can Dance, and this flick was all about the SYTYCD cameo. Joshua! Twitch! Legacy! That one girl who wore the bowler hats! I'm so happy they're getting work that's not, you know, making scantily-clad appearances at nightclubs for money and bottle service, or whathaveyou.

Anyway, SU3D was totally SBIG (not to be confused with SYTYCD, OK? 10-4? U2? LOL?). The 3D element was gratuitous. Bubbles? Splashing red cherry slushie drink? Jagged arm extensions in yo' face? There's more inventive use of the third dimension in that Muppets attraction at Disney.

Mostly, the movie reminded me of the daily struggle to avoid writing cliches. It's hard, so hard, and we all come up short (like when we write "come up short"). But like a magical Nike high-top to a lonely B-boy, it matters.

Say, for example, your main character is sitting on a ledge in New York City, gazing at the sunrise over the maybe-geographically-implausibly-placed famous bridge, and he sighs and says he comes up here to think because the traffic "makes me feel like I'm a part of something bigger." Well...

You lost me. I'm so done. I'm gonna sit there and enjoy my Diet Coke, and admire the enviable abdominals on screen, and decide I might download the soundtrack, and wish I'd stayed in dance class as a kid instead of switching nervously between Taekwondo and piano lessons, but... I'm not buying one more word the characters say. BECAUSE NO ONE IN REAL LIFE SAYS STUFF LIKE THAT. Traffic pisses people off! It makes them late to Yogalates! It makes them miss the last office donut except the coconut maple one nobody will touch! And I don't know many people who find their inner chi-zen-purpose by listening to horns and f-bombs and blown tires.

Cliches kill reality.

Other lines from Step Up 3D we must all band together and never repeat (somewhat paraphrased, since I don't have a script in front of me, dagnabit):

1. "He threw a battle... for a bet?"
2. "We can go anywhere. California, even!"
3. "It started as a lie... but what I felt for you was real!"
4. "Dancing is like breathing!"
5. Brother: "What about FAMILY?" Embattled sister, to ragtag dance troupe: "THIS is my FAMILY now!"

I'll leave you with this to think about.

There are holes where my teeth used to be.

Friday, July 23, 2010

nataliedee.com
After putting it off for five years, I finally got my wisdom teeth removed. Looking forward to far fewer headaches now. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I think my doctor was really pretty skillful. I wasn't nervous at all, though the teeny muscle relaxer they gave me to take at home pre-surgery may have helped. I didn't even say bye to Jim in the waiting room. I was just like, *shrug*, and I walked into the back. I COULD HAVE DIED. Well, probably not, but it still would have been good measure to, you know, shoot him some finger guns on the way in.

The journey to the car in the wheelchair (seriously) was a bit hazy, but the receptionist pushed me over a speedbump and made a fuss like it was Montu or something. I said, "WOO!" but Jim later told me that he could tell, even through the wackymeds, that I was humoring her.

Spent the next four days on my back eating pudding and watching the Food Network, desiring nothing more than, like, a peanut brittle fried chicken popcorn trail mix casserole. Or even a KFC Bowl. Sad business, watching Giada be all glowy when your own face looks like that of a Garbage Pail Kid. (Self portrait, at right.)

I went back to work in the middle of the week, and that was touch-and-go. For such a simple procedure, there's a lot of crap to deal with. The meds totally screwed with my stomach and pain radiated through my lower teeth. When I went back to the doctor, he said something about "bumping a nerve" and "normal" and "will go away." Then he yelled at me for asking about Diet Coke. FML.

I'm back in biz, though. Worked hard and early this week, wrote a bunch, and now I'm paralyzed on the couch watching a 20/20 rerun from 1999 or somesuch. Eating pudding. Oh, the irony. Also, working on non-novel-book-project-to-be-announced-one-day-maybe. Yeah.

Oh-oh! And we're planning to buy couches this weekend! Thank GOD, because my current ones look salvaged from the set of Weekend at Bernie's 2. And not in a cool, hipster way. In a stank way.

 

ALSO FUN: Have you seen Slush Pile Hell? Amazeballs. Almost as good as Query Shark. Musings of a grumpy lit agent who actually gets queries like this:

This book, with its intense subplots and characters, will appeal to fans of Tom Clancy, J.K. Rowling, and Nelson DeMille. Its copious, subtle allusions will likely delight fans of Orwell, Shakespeare, Dante, and others.

Remind me never to... you know... do that.

Vacation over, whip crack-a-lacking.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

I've been on vacation for two weeks, and boy are my arms tired. Wait, that's now how that goes...

I went to Michigan to visit Jim's family and Ohio to visit mine. It was pretty much non-stop family time, which is wonderful in its own way, but also busy-making. I basically visited people and ate carbohydrates nonstop -- my grandma's chicken paprikash, red velvet cheesecake, sweet potato fries the size of my leg. I topped it all off with a peanut butter and banana cream cheese sandwich from Melt, a legendary grilled cheese place near Cleveland that once made me ill for four days in a row. I mean, SERIOUSLY. You try eating that much cheese and see what happens. This time I felt better, as evidenced below.


Anyway, great trip. Love my family. But unlike the two weeks I took off last year to work on my novel, this wasn't the kind of vacation full of leisurely laptop days and ruminating on literary shiz. Apart from answering a few e-mails, I got NONE work done on any projects. And when I got home, I slept. And then I watched Weeds. And, fine, MAYBE one episode of Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami. And then I... organized my shoes.


So, again... NONE work done.

Tomorrow I go back to work, back to long days of cramming projects into slivers of time, writing at lunch, writing FOR work, writing after work. And while my continued closet organization will have to wait, I think I'm looking forward to once again turning my brain on. Wait, that sounded wrong.  Oh hell, I'm going to bed.

Kim Kardashian got her beach body how?

Friday, June 4, 2010

While I'm not voracious like some of my friends, I do love reading books. I usually have at least one book going at any given time, especially since I started attempting to write them. I've learned how vital reading is to making me better. To be eloquent, it's really important to see the way other people do crap. Right now, I'm just pages away from finishing Carl Hiaasen's Skinny Dip. Pages, I tell you! And I'm really into it. Good news all around, right?

So why then did I stop everything and throw this into my grocery basket yesterday?



Being intelligent is great, but the old noggin needs a break sometimes. Between writing all day at work and writing all night at home, I... I just needed to stop for a minute and see how LC gets her abs. 

Besides, it's still reading. LeVar Burton was never tooooo specific. Take a look... it's in a tabloid glossy...

On writing.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today I stared at a blinking cursor.

Tonight I will have ice cream for dinner.

Hate on me, haters.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Good essay about jealousy. Hating on other books too much just encourages snobbiness. No one likes a snob. There's room for everything. And PLEASE BELIEVE this girl loves some trashy Tyra Banks books as much as the fancy literary stuff. Dreckitude!

All writing conference and no play makes Steph... better?

Monday, May 17, 2010

I went to a writing conference this weekend, the Storytellers' Summit at the University of Florida. My goal was to A) get inspired, B) network, C) have fun and D) discover my husband, Jack, is a typewriting murderer.


Friday
Arrived with my friend Alex at luxurious Holiday Inn after a full day's work at the newspaper in St. Pete. We changed into cute dresses and walked five blocks to the conference cocktail party, then climbed stairs into a big party room where, naturally, all the sticky heat followed. We bee-lined for the buffalo chicken on the buffet, which may not have been the wisest move in history. I tried to schmooze with best-selling author Michael Connelly while sweat pooled on my upper lip and trickled down my back, while buffalo chicken residue surfaced on my fingers, while regret filled the air.

Friend Emily arrived later. Went to "dinner," which meant chips, margaritas and a huge bowl of GUAC, YO. Felt immediately crusty and elderly when college hotties started streaming in for the night. Seriously, I have NEVER seen so many glossy blonds in one place at one time. It was all legs and boobs and tan and body shimmer and cute dresses. In a move of desperation, I scrounged a palate (palette/pallet?) of lip gloss from the bottom of my purse and passed it to my colleagues in crust. It was our only option. Friend Hillary informed us that the upscale taco joint we picked at random was the most egregious of hottie magnets on campus. THAT WOULD FIGURE. So we moved to a place that played 90s music. When's the last time you heard King of Wishful Thinking in a social setting? That's what I thought. Thanks to Go West, we instantly felt young(er) again. That is, until I tripped on a suitcase back in the room and hit my face on the wall. I'm happy to report I'm robust and fine.  Say it with me: "College is over for a reason."

Saturday
Showered off cocktail party buffalo sweat and drove to first day of sessions. Unfortunately the streets in Gainesville are designed to ruin lives. I made a left at a green arrow, then continued. What I didn't realize was, the right lane had ended in some sort of short, stumpy fashion a ways back. As we drove down the street pondering, "Is this one way?", a cop pulled me over. He wasn't trying to hear that I was from out of town and confused. He wrote me the craziest ticket on the face of the universe. The debacle not only sent me to the poor house (OK, I already live there), it made us miss the first speaker. And who was that, you ask???

MICHAEL CONNELLY.

What I'm saying is, I failed at getting to know Michael Connelly.

I made it to a session with superstar agent Jane Dystel. She is fabulous. She gave so many great tips to aspiring authors, the foremost of which was "DO NOT GIVE UP." I really appreciated the session and encouragement, and I know everyone else did, too.

Next, we all filed into the auditorium to hear Pulitzer winner Rick Bragg, a lovable southern genius. He sat on a stool and talked in a lullaby meter and told great stories. Then, when you least expected, he was all BAM, I'MA DROP A LESSON ON YOU. And then you felt like you learned something, kind of accidentally.

Next, something REALLY COOL happened, but I'm not going to tell you right now.

After the really cool thing, I went into a session with chick lit author Kristen Harmel, she of many titles. She was the perkiest, most-adorable person ever. If you have an idea, she said, think about it for a couple weeks, and if you can't stop thinking about it, you should probably write it. That's good advice for journalists and novelists. I asked if publishers are still buying chick lit, and she said it's picking back up, but it's best to call it "women's fiction" in a query. The market got so oversaturated with subpar chick lit that it fell off. But commercial women's fiction -- stuff that goes a little deeper -- is hot now.

We had dinner at The Swamp. SO DELISH. I was so starving I ate all food in sight. I'm not kidding. I was on that food like whoa. We went upstairs to the second night schmoozing summit cocktail party and hung out with more cool writers. When it ended, we partied like rock stars! (Translation: We got frozen yogurt and read the student newspaper). On the way back, we stopped at a gas station where I accidentally left my phone and camera. Fail. Went back to the room, and tried to have a glass of red wine to relax, but my glass was CRACKED and wine went all over the sheets (sorry, Holiday Inn). Fail.

Sunday
Had nourishing breakfast of McDonalds and Diet Coke (this was not a weight loss trip), and made it in time for the first session with Tom French. Tom described snippets from his book, Zoo Story (which I have read and found equally enjoyable and poignant, buy it in July!).  He reminded us that even if the medium changes, there will always be a human thirst for stories.

After Tom, we heard biographers William McKeen, John Capouya and Ellis Amburn. It was a really fun session, full of salacious tidbits about celebrities. They talked about "the big get," that interview that changes the game. I've wanted to read Gorgeous George since I saw John speak at the St. Pete Times last year. Now, I really want to.

David Finkel had the entire room captivated with his talk on the Good Soldiers. Seriously. Wow. I. Need. To. Read. This. Book.  I tried to buy it a couple times since Christmas, and it always seems to be sold out. I ran immediately ran upstairs to buy it after his session, but it happened again. Fail. (Notice a theme to the weekend?) David reinforced the fact that sometimes you need to wait until the story shows itself. Patience, childruns, patience.

America's sweetheart Lane DeGregory (assisted by Deal Divas contributor Tucker) gave her talk on 20 tips for finding stories. I've had the pleasure of sitting in on the talk before, but it doesn't get old. Hearing Lane talk about her stories always makes me want to be better. Roy Peter Clark from the Poynter Institute ended the weekend with a benediction and practical tips for writing, including placing your best words in "hot spots" of a sentence, and burying attribution in the middle. Example: "The queen, my lord, is dead." Or in my case, "MY FACE, YOU GUYS, IT HURTS."

We stocked up on salty pumpkin seeds, Doritos, Gatorade and Diet Coke and came back to Tampa. We gabbed about a lot of stuff on the ride, but spent most of the time talking about stories. That tells me the weekend was a success.

Betty White inspires writers to total world domination

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday mood lifter. Agent Sarah LaPolla tells us why writers should be like Betty White here.

Shake Weight proves point about editing

Saturday, May 8, 2010

They apparently took all the women out of the Shake Weight commercial. See what I said about alwayz be editin?

A.B.E. -- Alwayz be editin'

Friday, May 7, 2010

I'm all about this advice on the Editoral Ass blog today. I reached a turning point yesterday over Diet Coke, a bright spot of hope and confidence for a glimmery and renewed future in which I made a decision to keep editing my book until my fingers bleed. It can only get better while I'm waiting in a stew of torturous four-to-six week rounds to hear from agents.  Edit, edit, edit. Then edit some more. Then, uh, edit again.

Here's the blog.

Spa weekend + Hoarders? Yesplz.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lately I'm realizing that distance is a good thing. (Long distance running? No. Long distance relationship? No. Long distance shot put? Maybe, if my delts are in good shape.)

But really, I think it's periodically good to take a mini-break from writing and do some non-writing things. Go to the beach! Buy a dress you don't need! Watch Intervention for six hours straight while eating nothing but honey chicken and fortune cookies from China Garden!

When you're soooo very absorbed in something for so long, all the sentences start to blur together and look like German. Sentenceschlagen. You either A) mistakenly think you've created brilliance yet unmatched by modern man, or B) bust a blood vessel and pass out on your keyboard until someone finds you and takes you to the hospital. Or C) both.

I was at stage C, so I took a little break. As a result, I'm seeing things I didn't see before. That sentence that took three hours to rewrite and still didn't make sense? A week later, the fix is simple. You just delete and write it again using your old friend subject-verb agreement! The clarity that comes with, you know, sleeping, is astonishingly sexy.

This happens to me occasionally with newspaper stories. I'll go back and read them, and I'm all, "WHY did I WRITE THAT? ZOMINGF()CY)*TC CH)*Q^CT(G!!! I BLOW!" You know? Only in that case, I can't fix it. What's done is done. With the life-suck process of writing a book, there is ample time to repair your stupid. I'm now a proponent of taking advantage of it.

On a related note: I am currently caught up on the Office, Community, 30 Rock, Intervention, Hoarders and all my gossip websites. I have a pedicure (see?), a pair of new black wedges and a teal mini-dress (see?). And my sentences are better for it.

*finger snaps quote of the day*

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Kate Braverman: “Writing is like hunting. There are brutally cold afternoons with nothing in sight, only the wind and your breaking heart. Then the moment when you bag something big. The entire process is beyond intoxicating.”

Something Borrowed. A bathing suit, maybe?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saw a pic today of Ginnifer Goodwin arriving on set at Something Borrowed, the film version of Emily Giffin's book. I love Something Borrowed, and I have the sequel ready and waiting if I can ever FINISH the OTHER 18 BOOKS I STARTED. (Actually, it's only two, but 18 sounds sexier). Anyway, can't wait to see the movie and live vicariously through Emily Giffin. Here are paparazzi pics of Ginnifer on set. Granted, they're not supa saucy, mostly Earth shoes and various shades of gray. But then again, my standards for celebrity photos are incredibly low.

This reminds me. Last season on Big Love, on that kind of janky episode where the family went off campus and took an awkward road trip and Bill made everyone pray (as usual), Margene (Ginnifer) rocked a red and white two-piece bathing suit that had scalloped trim and corseting up the back. When I saw said bathing suit, I fell instantly and everlastingly in love. I required the suit to keep living, you feel me? But as the sand through the hour glass, as the cookie dough through the spoon, it was gone in a flash. I searched around on some message boards for clues, and the consensus was that Betsey Johnson made the suit. Which would make sense, because not only is BJ my favorite designer, I, as a rule, can't afford her. You can see my suit of dreams here. It's a smoochy polygamy hotel scene, so be sure to call the kids around the monitor first (sarcasm).

This is a long way of saying that, Ginnifer, if you're out there and have a Google alert set up for your name or whatever, can you plz send me your bathing suit with no questions asked? It's summer and all. Kthx. And, uh, best of luck on the new movie.

Rejection doesn't mean everyone hates your guts

That deal is MAY-JAH!

Friday, April 23, 2010

I flicked away the tiny little miser who lives on my shoulder (he wears his pants really high and wags his finger at the kids blaring hip hop music, see left), and subscribed to Publishers Marketplace. So far, it has been worth the $20. It's really useful. You can watch big fancy book deals go down as you sit at home transferring money from the savings bond you got when you were 12 to your checking account so you can have air conditioning this month.

But seriously. It's good, because you can see what deals the agents you're querying have made recently. You can find out which agents represent which authors. And you can learn all the insider speak (you know, words other than "book" and "write" and "PLEASE I'LL DO ANYTHING").

Also, it cleared something up for me. In my web travels, I kept coming across the verbiage "good deal," or "nice deal" or "very nice deal" and so on. I thought this was just agents being sweet. Like, "Check out my super-neat deal, flowers and rainbows, yay!" But apparently, those words stand for cold hard cash. Publishers Marketplace explains:

Nice deal = $1 - $49,000    
Very nice deal = $50,000 - $99,000
Good deal = $100,000 - $250,000
Significant deal = $251,000 - $499,000   
Major deal = $500,000 and up

So you see, next time you hear an agent or writer say "major," they are not just fond of Victoria Beckham (though, I can't imagine why they wouldn't be). They are HAPPY. SRSLY HAPPY.

A love letter to my netbook

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

After I finished the book and edited the crap out of it and sent it out to the first round of agents, I took a little breather. I deserve that, right? It felt really weird to spend my lunch just... eating. My salad felt so alone, so cold. I avoided my favorite Subway, because without something to work on, I would just be... sitting in Subway. Which is kind of creepy, isn't it? I can't very well just sit there nibbling Sun Chips and leering at people eating five dolla foot longs. Don't they arrest people for that sort of thing?

It's been a week and a half of fiction detox. Today, I decided to take another jab at editing, maybe even start a scene in the new book that's swirling my head. (Neuroses? Maybe). I went to Evos (free shake day!) and got bizzy with my best friend, the thing that makes working on this crazeballs hustle so much easier.

My netbook!


That's me with the netbook on the day it arrived in the mail. LOOK HOW HAPPY SHE MAKES ME! We are so in love.

For the first month or so of writing, I lugged a full-size laptop everywhere. It was heavy and clunky. It gave me scoliosis. It died after an hour unplugged, forcing me to tackle bitches en route to the last open electrical outlet in Starbucks. It was making me a bad person.

I decided to pony up $300 for this (PINK) Asus Eee netbook with an 8.5 hour battery. I got a supercrazeballs deal online at buy.com, but you can get them for a little more money at Best Buy and the like. There's a bunch of other brands out there, too, that I'm sure are great.

It totally changed my writing game. It is so light, so long lasting (does this sound like a lip gloss/tampon/deck sealant commercial?). I can take it anywhere, and it feels like carrying a book rather than the entire contents of the Microsoft warehouse. Waiting in the doctor's office? Type a few words! Layover in the airport? Type a few words! Bored with your family at dinner? Type a few words!

Caution points: My boyfriend, who is six-foot-two and has man hands, can't type on the tiny beast. Also, it's not the greatest for browsing the web, but if you're trying to write a novel in little windows of time, you don't need to be all up on Lohan gossip sites anyway.

I really believe this itty bitty machine enabled me to write a book in six months. It's been my greatest investment, other than Diet Coke, of course.

Incidentally, my netbook DIED at Evos today, because I neglected to charge it during my detox. I promptly left Evos, because I didn't want to stare at people eating air fries. I'm happy to report she's fully charged again, so I hope I won't stare at anyone eating for the rest of the week.

UPDATE: Someone asked me what I use to store my writing. Good question! I use a thumb drive, and also back it up on the netbook hard drive and the hard drive of my computer at home. And sometimes, when I get a good amount written, I e-mail it to myself. You can never be too safe when backing up your word magic. Plus, thumb drives tend to break and disappear. I killed my first one when I DROPPED the computer on the ground and bent the poor thumb drive, which was minding it's own biz sticking out of the side. And I can't tell you how many nights I've spent searching couch cushions for the little thing. Back it up, people. Back it up!

Other people fail, too. And then they win!

Monday, April 19, 2010

When I'm having a bad day, I like to read this. Over and over and over.

Process is a four-letter word (well, seven, but you get the point)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Had lunch last week with my writer friend, Angel (whose name I ALWAYS WRITE as "Angle." Why do my fingers do that?)

Anyway, we talked about process, and, HAHA what's that? Are there really writers who sit down with a fully-sketched outline of plot arch and character development and finely-selected places to insert symbolism? Do people DO that?

Here is my "process."

1) Sit down, preferably in coffee shop or book store where there is no opportunity to chuck writing to the side and watch 16 and Pregnant marathon instead.

2) Write whatever comes into my brain. Hope it sounds like English.

3) Get latte. Tweet about weird people sitting in coffee shop.

4) Write a scene based completely around a bad 80s song that pops into my head.

5) Get stuck, because scene is based solely on bad 80s song.

6) Quit. Schedule lunch with parents/friends/strangers. Explain plot dilemma. Hope they say, "Well, what if you..." Hope idea is brilliant. Usually, it is.

7) Write with renewed direction, destined for greatness.

8) Get stuck again, attempt outline, settle for crumpled piece of notebook paper scrawled with things like, "DON'T FORGET TO FINISH BOOK."

9) Have a million friends read over me, point out inconsistencies, use manuscript as parakeet cage liner.

10) Write blog about lack of process.

Angle (SEE?) gave me a good tip over lunch, though, one that I think I might actually use. She writes note cards for her characters, listing their names, ages, jobs, traits, likes, dislikes. That way, you just refer to the cards to stay consistent. It helps you avoid a mental breakdown after you send your book out to ten agents only to realize you have made the main character 12 different ages and heights.

Good idea, right? Talking to other people is the only process that really matters, I think.

First book, first post, WHOANOW

Friday, April 16, 2010

Good gravy, you guys. I wrote a book.

Put my ass-in-chair for sixth months on lunch breaks and weekends and late nights and typed out mounds of garbage until it kind of looked like a body. Then I threw myself a mental ticker tape parade, complete with a full brass section and kettle korn. Then I re-read the mound so many times that I hated myself more than ever. Then I took out the -ing verbs and the suddenlys and hated myself a little less. I like myself again, but the day is young.

Now's when I try to get it published (in other words, now is when I spiral deep and fast into paralyzing fear and self-loathing). I'll let you know how that develops.

I really love reading publishing blogs, blogs by authors, blogs by agents and geeks-at-large. Seriously, at times it's the only thing that gets me through. If you've ever written anything other than a check, you know what I mean. Your eyes are crusty and bloodshot, your Diet Coke is GONE, your confidence is GONER, and all you can do to feel better is frantically Google "people + still + like + chick + lit + don't + they + ?"

Right?

That's why I'm writing my thoughts here. If you have stumbled across this, you are either an acquaintance I have forced at knifepoint into my world, or you are a writer in bed with your meta-lifemate the laptop, crying into an empty box of Wheat Thins, looking for a friend.

Let's hug, OK?