Sunday, November 29, 2009

Hoarders on A&E

Welcome back to real life (at least for the next three weeks) - hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving and didn't gain more than the pumpkin-turtle pie was worth.

After the family togetherness and eating (and some online shopping - I hate crowds), I spent the free time catching up on Tivo'd episodes of Hoarders on A&E. No matter how many times I see stories on compulsive hoarding, they never fail to break my heart. There was one episode in particular that left me shaken in Hoarders, Patty/Bill in season one. If you haven't seen it, they have a very short clip if you click on the link, click on the 1 next to the word Season and then choose Patty/Bill (for some reason, the link won't go right to the episode). Listen carefully to Patty as she is talking about the house - you'll hear the phrase that made me sit up and take notice. In the other story in the episode (which they don't show in the clip), Bill has a daughter who lives in a spotless bedroom in the middle of the hoarded home - exactly like my character Lucy in Dirty Little Secrets. His daughter was so much like my character it was scary.

I'm glad that I wrote the book in late 2007, because otherwise I'd be accused of blatantly ripping off episodes of this series. There are so many details that are in Hoarders that are in the book that it is really astounding. Its amazing that so many people who have no contact with each other, behave in such similar ways.

On this date: In 1948 Kukla, Fran and Ollie debuted.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fake Book Sightings

What's this? A hardcover copy of Dirty Little Secrets? Well...sort of. It's a copy of Brooke Taylor's Undone with a brand new actual-size jacket of DLS folded on top of it. Looks good though, doesn't it? Maybe I have too much time on my hands...

New Book Word Count: 5539
Line of the Day: The only thing even a little bit English about him was the faint trace of an accent that drifted in and out as he spoke.

The book is going along pretty well, although I've lost about a day because I have to go back over the previous 20 pages and make some changes. One of my crit partners brought up some character questions about my main character (thanks Nat) and I've incorporated some additional characteristics that will change a lot of the beginning. It's funny how these things reveal themselves to you as you go. I was thinking that it was her sister who was really into structure and disliked spontaneity, but it turns out it was my main character after all. This actually happens a lot and is part of the process of getting to know the characters, but it often involves a substantial amount of revising as you go. I know a lot of people would just leave it be, keep on truckin' and then go back and change it later, but I can't work that way. The before has to be right before I can go on. I guess that's my own character issue ;)

On this date: In 1936, the first issue of Life magazine was published.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Changing Names

Word Count: 4,473
Line of the Day:I pressed my handkerchief and small book into the waiting hands of my lady, whose silent weeping was escalating into what I feared would be a noisy crescendo.

So the book is coming along well, although it looks like it's going to be pretty long if I'm to judge by the first two chapters. A few people have mentioned that Dirty Little Secrets is short (I think the hardback is going to be 242 pages) so I guess that's not such a bad thing . As I was writing today, I realized how important the first glimpse of the love-interest is. Is he friendly or distant? Unattainable or kind of goofy? How you introduce him will set the tone for the relationship throughout the rest of the book. Apparently, first impressions do count.

I'm also considering some name changes. I totally forgot that the awesome debut book The Mark by cyber-friend and publisher-cousin Jen Nadol has a Cassie as the main character and Darius just isn't working for me. Not that you can't have the same name as another book, but it just feels a little too close. I do have a couple of other ideas, but I'm going to let the characters try them on for a chapter or two before I decide.

Even though Thanksgiving and the (ugh) holidays are coming up, I'm going to try to stick to the 1k per day schedule until it's done. I don't have to finish the whole thing before I send it to Agent E, just a few chapters and a synopsis, but I'd like to get a first draft done before DLS hits the streets at the end of January. If my math is right, it can be done ;)

The hubs got Indian food from my most favorite restaurant in the world and the smell of samosas is driving me nuts - time to eat!

On this date: In 1962, Jodie Foster was born.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Book, Day 2

Word Count: 2,308 (not too bad considering I just now remembered a series of 5 articles I promised to get written by tomorrow)

Okay. The file is open - and named Untitled, so if anyone can think of a sexy/intriguing/awe-inspiring title, let me know. Of course, I can't tell you what the book is about, so it's more of a shot in the dark at this point. Sat at the kitchen counter last night and cranked out about 1200 words, despite the constant interruptions. I have discovered that there is very little I hate more than writing fiction with someone looking over my shoulder. Very little. Got the other 1k in this afternoon with nobody bothering me. So far, we're still on chapter one, which seems to be going on for a fairly long time. One thing I think I know - this book will be longer than Dirty Little Secrets, which came out to about 200 manuscript pages (about 60,000 words). Maybe I've just learned how to take my time in getting from point A to point B. Or maybe I'm just leaving myself a lot of room to cut when I revise the thing. It's my turn in critique group today, so I might just torture them all and turn in the pages I just wrote. In general, it's not fair to anyone to send out such a rough, rough draft, but it's either that or a series of articles on job descriptions for online degrees.

I don't usually comment on blogs, but I couldn't help myself over at agent Kristin Nelson's blog Pubrants. Apparently, Harlequin books has opened up a vanity press for those authors who get rejected by their traditional publishing arm. Pay a ton of money and you can self-publish your book under the Harlequin umbrella. There is a LOT of fallout over this on so many levels. You might guess that I have VERY strong opinions on self-publishing in general (unless you are pubbing a family cookbook to give out to the folks at the holidays - then it's fine). As in, don't do it. Bad for you, bad for books and bad for readers. Just my .02.

On this date: In 1978, the Jonestown mass suicides.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Laptop Confessional

I've done all the procrastinating I can do and still look at myself in the mirror. I have several notebook pages full of notes on the Tudors, the Tower of London and philosophy by Edgar Cayce. I have a printed map of the Tower of London with little Xs by things that are important to the story, several snapshots of the graffiti that is in the Beauchamp Tower and recently spent 15 minutes watching a home movie of a Tower of London tour (I've been there, but it's been almost 10 years - thanks YouTube). I also have one fairly good character sketch for my MC (main character), and not much of one for anyone else. I know where the book is going to start, a few scenes in my head along the way and a vague idea of how it is going to end. I have the MC's name (Cassandra, Cass to her friends), the name of another important character (Darius) and pretty much nobody else. The book is either going to be mainly set in San Francisco or Santa Barbara-I'll know for sure when it's time.

What I don't have is a title. Or a detailed outline. But that's okay - that's pretty much how things work around here. I often refer to the E.L. Doctorow quote at the way, way bottom of the blog - hopefully I can see enough to get by.

I'm about ready to put my first words into the freshly created computer file, and wanted to invite anyone along who is interested in how the process works. I've had several people ask me how a book gets from vague idea to printed up book - now's the chance for us to find out together. As you've no doubt seen if you've kept up with the blog, there can be some false starts when it comes to new book, but this one doesn't feel that way. It feels like an amazing story that is waiting to be uncovered with some great characters and unique elements.

If you'd rather keep the mystery of how books get written, then step away from the blog and don't mind that man behind the curtain.


On this date: In 1558, the Elizabethan Age begins (kismet or what?).

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wicked Sunday

Sundays are usually quiet on the email front, but I got a lot of cool stuff in the old inbox today. My first fan email from a real-live teen reader (love that!), two preview reviews which were both awesome (although I think if someone doesn't like the book, they're not going to send me the review in advance-those things are best left as a surprise) and the link to a fabulous interview by wunderkind author Kody Keplinger.

Not only that, but we took the kids to see their first big show - Wicked in San Francisco. They absolutely loved it (what's not to love?), and T said that now he's annoyed with Dorothy. He also said that it's given him more inspiration to become an actor, which was an ulterior motive on our part.

Hope everyone's Sunday was special.

On this date: In 1956, Love Me Tender, Elvis' first film opens.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

We Don't Need No Education...

T (doing homework): Mom, cursive is so wrong. It makes boy letters look like girl letters.

Can't argue with that.

On this date: In 1954, Ellis Island closed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

What I'm Working On Now...

Can you tell from some of my research books what the new YA is going to be about? No? Good, 'cause it's a secret.

After a long talk with my agent, we've decided to shelve the race-based YA that I was working on. It's an older book (the first one I ever wrote actually), and I'm too close to it to give it the total pull-apart service that it really needs. That thought horrifies some people, but I'm actually okay with it. Mostly because I'm working on something that really excites me.

The new book has everything - action, romance, humor, great characters and (dare I say it - me who said she'd NEVER write one of these) some paranormal elements. I've finished the 9 point plotting outline for the book (I think my next post will be how to do that - in the meantime, here's my take on it over at Kay Cassidy's blog back in August) and am researching some of the historical elements that need to be actually accurate. So far, the ideas have been coming fast and furious and I love getting back to it every day. Stay tuned!

On this date: In 196X, my BFF Karen was born. Happy Birthday Karen!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Cybils Nominee

I just found out that When It's Six O'clock in San Francisco has been nominated for a Cybils award (thanks to Olugbemisola Amusashonubi-Perkovich for the shout out)! This is an award that is put out by the kidlit blogging community from people who know their stuff. The list is long and full of great books including crit-group partners Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Wink: The Ninja Who Wanted to be Noticed by J. C. Phillipps and I'm just honored to be included.

Finalists are announced on January 1st, so stay tuned!

On this date: In 1860, Abraham Lincoln is elected President.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Photos on the Website

Thanks to the fabulous Madiera James of Xuni, the creator and host of my website, we now have photos on the site. I'm going to put them in albums - so far I only have two: one for the book party for When It's Six O'clock in San Francisco and one for author types that I know/have met/stalk a little. As I get out and about more and we get closer to the launch of Dirty Little Secrets in February, I hope to put more pics up.

Click on the Events section up there on the right and enjoy!

On this date: In 1922, the entrance to King Tut's tomb is discovered.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Cool Stuff I Saw Last Week

I'm usually one to stay at home - don't go to movies much anymore (totally spoiled by Netflix - you can't curl up with a nice glass of wine at your local Cineplex) and I can count on one hand the number of times I've gone to an evening "event" in the past year. This week was an exception - I went to three, count 'em three, different things.

First up was the Where the Wild Things Are movie. Went with both kids and while they loved it, they agreed with me that it's really not a little kid movie. It can be debated whether the book is really a kid's book, but that's another post. Creepy, dark, creative, sepia and a little sad (one kid who shall remain nameless had tears in his eyes when Max sails back home) it is a great movie but best keep the little kids at home, not so much because it's scary (although it is a little bit scary) but because there's just not much there for the little ones. One comment for filmmakers though - both boys commented that the entire time Max was gone, he didn't eat anything or go to the bathroom (although I argued that the two things might be connected). Kids notice this stuff.

Last Thursday, I went with my date (thanks Jill) to see David Sedaris read some new material. I am totally in love with this man, despite the fact that I'm married, he's gay (and has a Hugh) and quite a bit shorter than I am. Every time we go on a road trip, DH and I listen to his audio books and I've read everything he's ever done several times over. His appearance still blew me away - I don't think I've laughed so hard in years. Was it worth it to wait in line for two hours to meet him? Youbetcha. Did I come up with anything witty to say? Nope, although I did come up with a killer line about an hour after we'd driven away. I was totally fangirled out. I consider it a win that I didn't say anything stupid or spill water on him. He didn't even seem phased when Jill asked if she could have one of his unopened waters, because she was parched and anyway, he didn't want to drink too much water if he was going to bed soon. He just said "sure" and gave her one. Did I mention I love this man?

Lastly, I took T to see This Is It, the big Michael Jackson movie yesterday. I was a so-so Michael Jackson fan growing up, but I knew T would love it. He was glued to the screen the entire time and has been talking about it since. If you're any kind of fan, you'll really like it. If you're a big fan, bring your own tissues. The lady behind us cried all the way through, occasionally letting out a little, high-pitched "Oh Michael" before blowing her nose.

Hope you had a good weekend!

On this date: In 1983, the Martin Luther King Jr. federal holiday was declared.