Tuesday, August 30, 2011


This week is so warp speed, it's plaid, so apologies for the lack of posts. I will resume intelligent (ish) blogging on Thursday, once the little yellow rocket has left the bus stop.

In the mean time three things I found cool:

1) People spend too much time in the office:
French office workers are communicating from building to building using post-it notes as pixels.
A Swiss political party wants to ban Powerpoint, which is a shame because I rock pie charts

Started watching Torchwood: Miracle Day while folding laundry. Am now obsessed. Have been reading episode synopsis into the wee hours.

3)Wordplay - great podcast, terrible name.
Nathan Bransford, James Dashner and J. Scott Savage have launched a weekly podcast. Talk about a powerhouse team. Bransford and Dashner I'm firm fans of and now I want to read Savage, as my three year old says, very much a lot. But Wordplay is a terrible name. Makes me think of Will Shortz.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sparkfest #2 - Inspiration is Weird

Yesterday, as part of Sparkfest, I posted about how Angela Carter sparked my desire to be a writer.
Today, I'm going to tell you what sparked the idea for my current (currently in revision hell) wip.

It's really the fault of Jasper Fforde, Jane Austen, Harriet Walter and the Garden State Parkway.

If you haven't read anything by Jasper Fforde, I feel bad for you. Go out and remedy that at once. Start with the Eyre Affair. One of the premise of Fforde's books is that book characters are real. Sure, they live in another universe (books) but that doesn't make them unreal. I love these books and I guess the idea of real and unreal has been percolating in my mind for a while. (PS, his books are damn funny. My wip is short on larfs.)

So, I was driving on the Garden State Parkway to visit my mom in law and I started thinking about Harriet Walter, what an awesome actress she is and how she's often cast in period dramas as hard, unlikable characters. Fanny Dashwood came to mind. Evil character that she is, she gets her garters crossed good and proper at the end of Sense and Sensibility. Edward marries Elenor despite her machinations. She probably feels that she's the victim in the story, that she's been treated badly.

And then it happened. I imagined a regency era Fanny walking over a grassy knoll up to a gate. A teenaged boy was by the gate and he opened it for her. She starts talking to him about how important she really is, how he should respect his betters. He laughs and leads her to the door of his farm house. Behind the farmhouse is a great big recycling factory. He just keeps leading her, gently, into the farmhouse. He shuts the door and says, "They all think they're real!"

That's it, the seed of an idea. As I played with that scene in my head, sometimes it was Willoughby being high and mighty. But the teenaged kid, he thought it was funny because he knew that they were all only characters in books.

Talk about a spark. I don't know how that little daydream turned into a 300 page conflagration, but it did.

How did your wip get it's spark?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Too Much Information - The Underwear Meme LIVES!

I remember Underoos fondly. Along with white bread, a cool lunchbox, and neon orange legwarmers, these were on the long list of things that I desperately wanted but couldn’t have.

I don’t think my parents were being cruel when they said no, they were just being foreign. Some of those things were just expensive, but the other ones were just impractical, so why would I want them.

Underoos, I imagine, my mother thought was weird. I think having faces on underpants freaked her out.

A while ago, Jen Burke threw her panties at me. Well, she threw the Too Much Information Underwear Meme at me, same thing. I was busy with Write On Con so haven’t had the chance to respond properly. Since I’m currently wearing both long and short underwear, I guess now’s as good a time as ever.

Do you have any commonly used nicknames for them?
For a while, while living in London, confusion reigned supreme. I would say something innocent to a co-worker like “I like your pants.” And they would say “You can see my pants!!?” Eventually figured out that ‘pants’ are undies and ‘trousers’ are pants. I use the following terms: Undies, panties, underpants, bombacha (Spanish) and undermapants.

Have you ever had that supposedly common dream of being in a crowded place in only your bloomers?
Nope. I’m astounded at how little I dream about underclothes.

What is the worst thing you can think of to make long johns out of?
 Barbed wire.

If you were a pair of small clothes, what color would you be, and WHY?
 Viridian. Because it sounds like several colors at once.

Have you ever thrown your bloomers at a rock star or other celebrity? If so, which one(s)? If not, which one(s) WOULD you throw your bloomers at, given the opportunity?

No. Throwing panties and burning bras is so last century. I just don’t think that undergarments have as much power to shock anymore. I see under wear all the time, peeking out of low slung pants (trousers). Throwing them in public is kind of a big yawn.

You’re out of clean drawers. What do you do?
 Wash some? Put on yoga pants and a cute dress? Bathing suit bottoms? Depends on where I have to be.

Are you old enough to remember Underoos? If so, did you have any? Which ones?
 See above.

Abandon all hope ye who enter here…
 Should be written across a pair of Victoria’s Secret sweat pants instead of ‘Pink’ or “Hottie.” Those I’d buy in a nano second.

How many bloggers does it take to put small clothes on a goat?
 You mean before said goat eats them? Like the owl in the Tootsie Roll Pop commercial, I’ll say, THREE.

Now, I’m going to throw my (pink with purple polka-dot) undies at:
Laura Campbell
An Alleged Author
and Misha at My First Book

Friday, August 19, 2011

Write On Con - Day 3 Highlights

I'm guest blogging over at Misha's My First Book blog. Check it out here.

WriteOnCon was EPIC. 
I'm so sad it's over, but an awesomeness so massive could not be sustained for long.
PLUS - I got a partial request from an agent out of it, so YAY!

(and keep in mind, these are only events the ones that I found most useful. All of the con is available (as well as last year's con content) on the site. Support Write On Con, if you can. So we can all attend again next year!)

Natalie Fischer, Anici Rissi, and Kathleen Ortiz Pro Panel - Fun and informative. I never knew agents were so snack fixated. This is a good thing as I'm all about the snacks.

A cute post on dialogue (and how not to do it) by Tina Wexler. She pretty much lifted the dialogue from, like, all my first drafts...

And I have to shout out the R-E-S-P-E-C-T post by Kiersten White. First, because she brings down Avada Kedavra on people who disrespect and secondly because I'm smack in the middle of Supernaturally and really enjoying it (like want to take it into the bath with me but won't because it's a library book).

Hope you guys all had as much fun as I did - did you? What did you enjoy the most? What was the most surprising aspect?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Write On Con - Day 2 Highlights

From Rise of The Planet of the Apes
I had a bit of a break down today. Somehow, with a combination of sixth sense/telepathy and an uncanny sense of smell, my husband knew I was at a loooow ebb and came home from work early. Took the kids to the pool and sent me off by myself. God bless that man.

I saw Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It's good, see it. I only have two things to say: Andy Serkis needs an Oscar or three and Tom Felton needs to stop playing bad guys. If you thought Draco was an ass, imagine Draco being mean to animals.

All this is a long winded way of saying, didn't get to delve into Write On Con as much as I wanted today. But the beauty of this conference is that it's always there. You can 'attend' by reading the post/transcript or watching the vlog. And the magic that happens in the forum is priceless.

I do have to give a special shout out to the Barbara Poelle/Holly Root agent panel. In addition to query/agent/writing gold that you've come to expect from the fab agents on Write On Con there was: Red Velvet Cake and chocolate pudding; martinis; leeches and aaaaardvarks. It was hard to explain to my kids why I was barking with laughter alone in my office. "Are you watching a good cartoon, mommy?" 

Do yourself a favor and check it out.

Also, there's a great vlog by agent Kate Testerman. She outlines the check list you must have ready before you query. CHECK YOURSELF BEFORE YOU WRECK YOURSELF. You can't jump into the query fray until you have done everything on the list.

Tomorrow, when I catch up, I'm going to check out:

PLUS all the new stuff for tomorrow. I'm feeling faint. But in a good way. 

Write On Con: Day 1 Highlights

Before I delve into highlights from WriteOnCon, I wanted to let you know that I'm guest blogging on Misha's My First Book blog this friday. Hope you can check it out!

I know I touted the benefits of attending Write On Con in my last post. And it's true, attending barefoot in pjs is definitely a bonus. But I didn't really believe, in my greedy little heart, that it would be as robust as attending a conference in person.

Wrong. My head is spinning from all the information. I feel that same running-to-stand-still feeling I felt at my first (in person) con. It's blink and you'll miss it, chock FULL of info. Those Write On Con ladies are GENIUSES! Send them some love.

Here are my fave parts of day 1:
1) Live chat with Sara Megibow on Author Platform building.
Sara not only talked about what an unpublished author should do and when (answer: NOW!
), she also gave examples of sites that work, whether it's a simple author site, a blog or both. Great advice and lots of sites to bookmark.

2) Don't Give Up by Beth Revis.
This vlog was sweet and to the point. Beth got a whole lot of rejection before she got Across the Universe  published (and I love that book). What was even more interesting was how much revision she did on the soon to be released sequel, A Million Suns. Three (or more) revisions with only about 20% from the original making it to the final. If that doesn't make you take heart, I don't know what will.

3) Live Forum Event with Agent Jessica Sinsheimer
I will admit I didn't love the format, I found forums difficult to manage for a live chat BUT! This chat was awesome. First, Jessica started answering questions, out of the goodness of her heart, 24 hours before the live event. Second, among the pearls of wisdom (lots of them, believe me) she talked about eating and snacking. Can I say how much I appreciate snackiness and general food love in an agent? Won't say it's a deal breaker, but it would make for a friendlier relationship if we could include food.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Write On Con - Get Ready for Awesome

So, writers conferences are cool, right? But they can be exhausting. First you have to wear clothes. Not just any old thing you have to hand, but actual clothes that don't make people stand away from you. And, as if clothes weren't bad enough, you need to wear shoes. Probably pointy or uncomfortable. If you are slightly girly you might even have to slap on some make up. All this ON TOP OF being brilliant, erudite, attractive to agents and coherent.


But Write On Con is the wonderful exception to the rule. It's completely, 100%, come-as-you-are online.

A combination of blog posts, live chat events, forum events and contests, it's all the good conference stuff and none of the bad. Except for the excuse to rent a bad movie in your hotel room. I would never have seen Beastly if it wasn't for that last writing con.

I can't wait to for Beth Revis on Don't Give Up (Tues 4pm) - One, because I loved loved loved Across the Universe and two because I need a talented stranger to tell me not to give up.

Also looking forward to Panel with agents Holly Root and Barbara Poelle (little girl crush on Barbara, if you hadn't noticed before)

Here's the link to the full schedule for the next three days. What are you looking forward to the most?

Friday, August 12, 2011

The First Cut is the Deepest

Here's what I did after I got my first rejection at 8:42AM 
1) Said, "Huh."
2) Made pancakes.
3) Sighed heavily. (repeat)
4) Drank two cups of coffee with milk and sugar forgetting that I don't take milk and sugar.
5) Talked to my husband about cutting the lawn without telling him about the rejection.
6) Watched My Little Pony movie with kids while sighing.
7) Waited until my husband left for work to email him about the rejection.
8) Didn't want to answer the phone when he called a nano-second later.
9) Talked to my mother in law about ice cream and not about rejection.
10) Talked to my neighbor about Radiohead and not about rejection.

In a nutshell, I am trying to micro-manage rejection. As if it's something that I can lessen the blow of, if handled the right way. I'm processing it, going through the Kubler-Ross stages. But I ain't liking it.

It's not like I thought it wouldn't happen, I knew it would. I was weirdly looking forward to it because it means I'm really doing it, really putting my work out there. But I still feel decimated.

I believe in my book. See? I just said that because, right this second, I don't believe in my book. Right this second I believe that if even one person rejects it, it must be terrible. That's the crazy bull s**t I believe right now.

I want to believe in my book. I want to find the damn horse and get back on it. But for today (I swear, just today) I'm going to wallow.

Anyone know good wallowing tunes?

Below is the form rejection I got.

Thank you for being so patient while I reviewed BOOKEND for possible representation. 
Unfortunately I don't feel it is quite right for my list. 

Please don't take this rejection as a comment on your writing ability, because it isn't
intended to be one. Because of my intimate list of clients, I must regrettably decline
to take on projects other than those I feel I can represent with a certainty of success.
I wish you every success with this and all your literary endeavors. As a result of the
volume of queries and submissions I receive, I'm unable to provide a personal 
evaluation and/or further explanation of my decision.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


First, I wrote to my friend, Rachel, who lives in North London. When she emailed that she's  in Germany for work, I was so relieved. All my other friends from when I lived in London don't live there anymore. Lynn's in Carlise, Jack and Dan and their girls are in Devon. Chris and his family are in the Isle of Wight. Makes it a nightmare to try to visit them all, but now I'm so glad they're no where near Tooting SW17.

It's weird how distance and history can magnify a tragedy. When horrible things happen right in my city or state, it's easier to ignore, or at least feel jaded about it. But there's something about seeing London burning that brings me to tears. I follow the Google map, watch the cell phone footage, think and think and think, how did this happen to my London?

I know it's not true, that it's arrogance to say it, but I feel like I created London, at least my own London, when I lived there. It's probably more accurate to say that it created me. No other city (not even NYC) has messed with my DNA the way London has. I would go back, live there forever, in a heartbeat, if other things were not tying me to where I am. I dream about London, still, even though it's been nearly 12 years since I lived there.

So seeing kids rioting outside Clapham Junction, ripping TV's out of a Ladbrooks in Tooting, tossing burning molotov cocktails, breaks my heart. I wish I was there, weirdly, that I could help. On twitter, there's a boots-on-the-ground movement (#riotcleanup) to help neighborhoods clean up. I can only hope that the anger and spleen being vented on the city is countered by enough of the opposite - community, kindness and solidarity.

Watching this video of the #riotclean up that happened yesterday in Clapham brought on the waterworks AGAIN, but at least in a good way.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Welcome to My Nightmare

I joined a rather exclusive club this week. I don't know if you are able to join, I'll have to check with management. I joined the Club of Unholy Anxiety (Writers Branch.) Sure, I already belong to the CUA, Parenting Branch, but I share that membership with my husband, so I can share the load.

The only requirement to belong to the CUA (WB) is to have submitted either a query or a request (or both) to an agent. If you are a writer and you have not put yourself out there to be rejected by a total stranger than, I'm sorry, you cannot gain admittance. If you HAVE done so and are not experiencing hot flashes, shortness of breath and/or nightmares, then I have a question for you: What are you on and where can I get some?

Ten days ago I emailed Kathleen Ortiz a partial she requested. That was exactly long enough to ferment serious, ridiculous anxiety because last night I dreamt that she sent me a rejection (almost said 'rejected me'; got to keep it in perspective.) The rejection was in the form of a Powerpoint Presentation. When I launched the presentation it looked like the screen on Minority Report, all techy with multi-layered levels of information on it. This rejection included, in depth, what was wrong with my first 100 pages, what was right with it, what books I should be reading (with a cool graphic of book covers).

In my dream I was frantically searching for a pen with which to write some of this awesome and terrible information down, because I knew that when the presentation ended, it would self-destruct. In the end I found one of those stubby golf pencils and tried to write with it on my hand (no paper around.) By the way, this is all taking place in the offices of Nancy Coffey Literary and agents are looking on in pity as I scramble. I finally start reading the feedback so I can write down some pearls of wisdom and, to my horror, realize I had sent her pages for the wrong book. Completely wrong, she doesn't even represent that kind of book. The book I sent her (which I have not written, but am considering it now) was non-fiction and about zebras.

When I told my husband about the dream this morning he said, "Ah. Here comes the anxiety train."
He should know, he's been on the train before. He published a non-fiction book on art/design in 2009. It's an awesome book (mostly for graphic designers and artists, but interesting for everyone, Sketchbook, by Timothy O'Donnell.) But he spent most of 2008 in a state of near constant panic because he'd sold the publisher on the proposal and now he had to deliver. He did deliver, just as I was delivering our littlest sprog, and he did a great job. But it took a long time to get him completely off the anxiety train. He's still an honorary member of CUA (WB) because he's working on another book project.

So, are you a member? If so, how do you battle the craziness? What's the weirdest manifestation it's taken?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Hiatus - A Visitor from Uruguay

I'm going off 'blog' for a week to be with my mom, who is visiting from Uruguay. She's making homemade sauce, gnocci and empanadas. The least I can do is ply her with coffee and gossip with her. She's also helping me potty train the littlest tadpole. Aren't moms awesome? See you all next week!

In the meantime, two interesting links:
YA author Livia Blackburne has an interesting exchange on the value of writers blogging

Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities. When I read this Guardian literary spotlight on the city, I wanted to hop a plane asap.
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