Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Two for Tuesday

1. Just finished Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen. I know I'm a little late in joining the wow parade on this one, but let me just say - WOW! Loved it. It's not a perfect book - I was pretty sure how it was going to end - but the getting there was amazing. Gruen's circus details are so specific and memorable as her Depression era setting. Jacob is a delightful and multi-faceted protagonist that I could root for and the minor characters are all fully developed. Started it on the trip to Portland, but it was more than just airplane reading. It was definitely something I'll page through again.
2. Getting the butterflies for SCBWI in LA. Will I bring the right clothes, meet the people I'm hoping to meet, find people I'm supposed to find, go to the workshops that are best for me, find people to hang with Thursday night even though I'm getting in well after everyone seems to be going to dinner... And most of all- will I finish these revisions before I have to pack?

Til next time...

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Me and Lewis and Clark

Back from Portland, OR. Well, hello fantastic place to live! Although certainly the fact that it rarely crawled out of the 50's - in July!- making it 40 to 50 degrees cooler than Houston, was a pleasant shock to my bod! Stayed with a dear friend from high school. Actually she was my very first friend in h.s. We'd moved over the summer and I was forced into the dreaded march o' high school death where you walk in the first day and everyone knows each other... except you. So when I realized that Marjorie was in almost all my classes and lived a few blocks away and even had a brother who was in junior high with my brother and best of all shared my wacky sense of humor, well, the friendship didn't take long to solidify - and it's stayed that way even with me in Houston, her in Utah and now OR.

Anyway, in no particular order, here are Joy's reasons why you should visit Portland if you've never been:
  • Self-service gas stations are against the law. Someone comes out and fills your tank. Can you imagine??
  • You are surrounded by mountains. Mt. Hood. Mt. St. Helens. (okay, it could erupt, but whatever). You can ski and snowboard on Mt. Hood in July.
  • You can go hiking at Multanomah Falls near the Columbia Gorge. It is amazingly beautiful.
  • In 90 minutes you can drive to the coast. Check out Haystack Rock. But go while the tide is low.
  • Powell's Books!
  • Coffee People coffee!
  • Farmer's Market and the Pearl District
  • Great light rail
  • Trilogy Videos - a video store that mostly stocks indie films!
  • Tons of shops and restaurants and Oregon wines and beers. Like a mini Napa with more social consciousness.
  • The Portland Rose Garden. Acres of roses since 1912. All for the public to enjoy.
  • Pittock Mansion and grounds. Great view of everything. (okay, mostly the mountains kept hiding) But they'd peek out now and again.
  • And did I say coffee? The entire city enabled my already raving caffeine habit.
  • No sales tax.
  • Portland airport had a pianist, wine tasting, and a I bought a tall coffee plus a bottle of water all for $3.50. In the airport!

So, if you are the outdoorsy/coffee/organic type, Portland is for you. I would go back tomorrow.

Til next time...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Instead of revising, I

  • got a free coffee for getting down to "Play that Funky Music" with the baristas (okay, they got down; i mostly watched, but they still gave me the gratis tall coffee)
  • put $ in the tip jar for the above
  • got my roots touched up so they are no longer screaming, "Color me!"
  • got a trim while we were at it
  • caught up on summer sex tips in Cosmo while the hair dye was doing its thing
  • ditto in Glamour
  • Mulled over the above
  • Flipped through fan mags and wondered about the whole A Rod and Madonna thing.
  • Wondered about it some more. Decided i just don't get it.
  • Am now back at computer, getting back to work, all coffeed up and with really pretty hair!

Til next time...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Tuesday tidbits

Still immersed in SPARK revisions. Don't see myself getting out of there any time soon. Have one more plot element to tidy up and then it should be smoother sailing. Crossing my fingers... and toes.

Prodigal son returneth this weekend for a friend's wedding. How he can already have friends who are getting married is freaking me out. But football buddy Kevin is 21 and tying the knot and registered for gifts at Pottery Barn. Last time I looked up he was cross dressing for the annual Homecoming pep rally where the senior guys all dress up like Homecoming Queen candidates. Now he'll walk down the aisle. (okay, in between he's gotten a college education and played some more football and fallen in love...) In any case, the kid is spending the weekend and I'm thrilled.

And finally this morning I'm getting jazzed up about SCBWI LA. I have never been. And I've never been to LA, either. Squeeee!!!

Til next time...

Friday, July 11, 2008

Get a life!

Okay, I need to get one, too, but between revision land and mother in law rehab land (me: Can I run a vacuum in here for you. Her: No. Me: I can do it. Really. I do it at home all the time. (okay I was lying, but I know what one is and I can plug it in, I'm positive) Her: I'll have to think about it. Me: Think about what? Her: All of this is making my head hurt.), I don't have time for much these days.

But I did glance at the Houston Chronicle yesterday. Article on toxic gulf fish problem. Accompanied by pic of preggers lady in bikini fishing in Galveston Bay. I'm assuming their connection was that preggers woman better not eat any of that tainted fish. Whatever. Today, enormous follow up article because of the spate of outraged crazies who were horrified, not by the fact that the water is f-ing polluted but because the Chron had the nerve to print the photo and according to one letter, "I couldn't enjoy my breakfast." Seriously folks. Give me a break! (bangs head on computer a few dozen times) I mean really. You wouldn't have seen me standing in the Bay fishing in a two piece when I was 7 months pregnant. But you wouldn't have seen me fishing before then either. Or after for that matter. I don't fish. But I'm not offended to the point of losing my Crispix and blueberries over it. Where do these people think babies come from? And don't they know that the guy I just pushed my cart by in Walmart wearing a sleeveless sweatshirt and a gimme cap while he packed his basket with Blue Bunny icecream and beef jerky was let me say for the record, far more offensive than woman with child?

Til next time...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Do tell

I admire so many writers that if I tried to actually post about them, I'd never get any work done today. I mean honestly, I keep meeting so many amazing artists, keep reading book after book that just blows me away, particularly in, but not limited to YA. And as I'm a tv watcher, I find my influences there, too. Movies, I think are another category entirely for me. I'm a film addict, but episodic television is closer to what I work with when I write novels, so I'll stick to that. So, in no particular order, and with the understanding that if I know you or you read this and you write and you're not on the list, it's not that you don't belong there, just that I'm giving this about two minutes!

  • Sarah Dessen and Anne Tyler absolutely rock for their creation of quirky, makeshift families of characters that never, ever leave me. If I can ever dip a pinky toe in their shoes it will an honor.
  • Holly Black made me love fairy lore even when I swore I'd never like it. Melissa Marr kept me there.
  • Joss Whedon turned the hero story on its ear with Buffy and I will honestly never forget the day -about three episodes into the series in its first year - when I gave it a chance and realized that this was storytelling I could (pun intended) stick my teeth into and never let go. I suspect there are many of us who owe some inspirations to the Whedonverse.
  • The Palladinos created Gilmore Girls. They taught me pacing and wit and dialogue and respected my brain and my addiction to pop culture
  • The writers of Friday Night Lights let me know that you could tell a Texas football story in ways that were true and real and that all stories, really, are about family.(see Dessen and Tyler, above)

I'll post more later this week, when I'm not so crazy busy. But now I'm throwing it out to you. Which writers of which genres simply blew your heads off and taught you some of things you really needed to learn?

Monday, July 7, 2008

Digging In

Still digging into SPARK editorial letter revisions. I love working on SPARK because I get to play with more than one narrative voice, since the book alternates the POV's of Anne, Ethan, and to a lesser degree (currently becoming more than lesser), Anastasia. Took a few days to chase KC Sweet from Sweet Dreams and Andy Meyers (my darling boy Andy) of CUT BACK from my head. Honestly, I doubt they're really gone. And actually I'm pretty sure SPARK (soon to have a title change, btw) is stronger for them. SPARK is not only my debut novel, but the first novel length piece I'd ever written, so having marched my way through two other manuscripts in that waiting time between sale and revision is a good thing. Very good. But it's still been sweet to get back into this story. I suppose for me there will always be something exciting and pure about it - it was after all the first. And maybe other works may surpass it some day (which honestly is how I think this is all supposed to work; you're supposed to grow in your craft) but it will always be the first one - that part won't change. And as they say (whoever they are), you never forget your first.

And on that happy metaphor - (Yup, it turned into a metaphor, although imagine if you could go back to, um, other things and tinker around with the first time and make it really phenomenal rather than huh, it's all over, did I do this right?) - I shall get back to work.

Til next time...

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Revision cave

Entering revision cave... beware! Had great phone meeting with my ever so brilliant Sourcebooks editor, Lyron Bennett. So much food for thought that honestly, revision cave or not, I took the rest of the day off - swimming/laying around at neighborhood pool, followed by a delightful roasted veggie pizza and two really smooth glasses of Harp at the local faux Irish pub with spouse for our anniversary outing today. Faux in that we're in steamy Texas not Dublin but supposedly the bar is imported from Ireland. Whatever. The Harp was tasty. And hopefully former student who sat us on the patio did not instruct waiter to spit in my pizza. (I'm just saying...) Tomorrow, it's back into the cave with exits only for the ongoing adventure that is mother in law's rehab and eventual return home.

Anyway, I'm really jazzed about this next step. Feeling a little Velveteen Rabbitish - I'm a real author. Yup. Real.

Til next time...