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This kid is on so much Red Bull

How to become an author, HAR HAR HAR

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

If you've ever so much as pondered writing a book -- maybe in the shower while your deep conditioner is doing its two-minute soak, or on the middle of a road trip at 3 a.m. when everyone in the car is drooling and the road becomes a magical licorice highway and you start to consider the overwhelming insignificance of your life and everything in it -- do your self a solid and read this.

How to become an Author, in 5 Incredibly Difficult Steps, by Robert Brockway

My wiseacre brother, Jeremy, sent it to me today. Incidentally, Jeremy also gave me a book called THE COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO JOURNALISM for my birthday. I think these are his ways of saying he loves me, but the jury is perpetually out.

Brockway is exactly right about a trillion and a half times. Perhaps most searingly, it's when he talks about the amount of research books take, even if what you're writing is total malarkey fiction. And yes, I just said malarkey, and no, I'm not 87. I just roll elderly, aight?

If you give a damn about the quality of the work at all, every other sentence means a pause for research. You write the word "steel" and then you have to stop, and wonder: "Is steel strong enough to do this? Wouldn't they have something better than steel in the future? Where is the future of the steel industry heading?" Six hours later, you're Googling "hardened mesh weaves" and "nano-tubes" just to finish the sentence: "Biff Largeblaster's sculpted cyborg abs glistened in the afterglow of the imploding time-vortex like a gargantuan bunch of manly ____ grapes."

Supreme Robert Brockway then goes on to explain how, after you've done all that research, you begin to "edit," which basically means "strategically loathe yourself more than you already do." Then you delete everything you researched.

For OBITCHUARY, I spent about a week looking up breeds of exotic snakes and bugs, their values based on pigmentation, the various ways in which people smuggle them into the country, the consistency of baby snake eggs. I consulted experts and read price charts. If you need to know the street hustle for a Labyrinth Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus), I'm your chick!

AND THEN I CUT IT ALL OUT. No snakes. Whatsoever.

Oh, just read the essay.

Amazon Kindle makes books cute again

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Jim got me an Amazon Kindle for my birthday. It is helping me become less of an old lady.

Anne Taintor

The short review is, I love it. Here, in no particular order, are some more thoughts on it.
  • It's so cute!
  • I like holding it better than I like holding pages, I think. I've never been great page management, be it book or periodical, mostly because I have small Hobbit hands and thusly have trouble navigating things that are cumbersome and, you know, FLIPPY. Related: I have blond hair.
  • I still love real books and papers, though. My brother lent me his first edition Kurt Vonnegut Galapagos yesterday, and it certainly wouldn't feel right to read THAT on a Kindle.
  • It's white, and cute!
  • The screen looks remarkably like the page of a book, though I hate that I can't read in the dark. Not that actual books have light-up technology, either... but this seems like it should. It's MAGICAL after all. I think I'll buy a light for it, and a cover.
  • It's cute!
  • I'm reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett (geez, oh geez, loving it). The Kindle tells me I'm 49 percent through, which is useful, but I had no real concept of how thick the book actually is until I went into a bookstore yesterday (Haslam's!) and picked it up. Very strange, very space age.
  • I'm afraid I'm going to break it. I can't have nice things.
  • CUTE.
  • When I told a friend I got a Kindle, she said, "Awesome, want to share books?!" I don't know everything about the future of digital publishing, but I do know it's been a long time since anyone has been so enthusiastic to share books with me. Maybe never. I have to think THAT'S good, right?
  • omgcute.

This is your brain. This is your brain on beach.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Last weekend I went on a mini-break, as they say in London, to New Smyrna Beach. "Beach!" you cry. "You LIVE by the beach! You cad!" That's true. But New Smyrna (New Smirnoff, if you're tipsy) is on the other coast, about three hours away. The waves there are great, especially compared to the relatively waveless Gulf of Mexico. And there's something important about putting crap in the car and actually going somewhere that's not your home, even if your home is kind of like a vacation town anyway.

You hate me. OK. Anyway.

We stayed in my friend Emily's family beach house, which was amaze-face. It was not near the beach, not a mile from the beach. It was ON the beach like white on rice. Activities included this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

And this:

 And this:

What there was none of was writing. (Wow, what a miserable sentence.) Actually, although I posted that picture of majesty involving the Jackie Collins novels, there wasn't much reading, either. I basically turned my brain off, and I'm here to tell you IT IS THE WAY TO GO.

This week, having sent off my latest round of novel edits, I got to work on novel two, as yet unnamed. It felt weird to not be working on a book, and regardless of what happens to novel one, I'm going to need to write something else eventually. And here's what I've come to realize through the years about writing: IT'S SUPER FUN! I got about 2,000 words down in two days, and I'm really excited to keep going. I think I owe it all to being refreshed and doing a lot of this the weekend before:

Way. To. Go.

From agent to bookshelf (a.k.a., series of nervous breakdowns)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Remember how I said getting an agent is a huge but early step in the process, and how everything could still go horribly wrong and how I could end up homeless and despondent, eating the pages of my ill-fated manuscript and washing it down with Jack Daniels? It's a lot to explain to people in a way with more helpful detail than "homeless and despondent and Jack Daniels." But I came across this blog from a few years ago that explains the agent-to-bookshelf ordeal pretty well. In this context, I would be Herbert, the author having the nervous breakdown back home.


An Ex Publishing Insider Talks About What Editors Really Do

And, part 2