Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks

is an absolutely amazing book that is going to stick with me for a long time. Thank you E. Lockhart for this treasure.

Frankie Landau-Banks' family thinks of her as Bunny Rabbit. Her old boyfriend Porter thought of her as someone he could cheat on. New boyfriend Matthew does not see her as secret worthy. Her friend Trish just doesn't really understand her. And Frankie? Well Frankie wants to be somebody. She wants power. She wants to be a force of nature. But she's trapped in the male-dominated hierarchy of Alabaster, her boarding school. The good old boy system is alive and well and smiling its well-heeled smiles in the Bassetts, the boy only secret society that Frankie decides she must infiltrate. And the results well - I won't give things away, but let us say that a happily ever after is not exactly possible for the indomitable Frankie Landau-Banks. Frankie wants to lose her distruntled state; she wants to be, as she says when she quotes from P.G. Wodehouse, "gruntled." But it just might not work out the way she hopes. If you are a smart girl, you will love this book. If you love words, you will adore this book. If you sometimes think the way the world runs sort of sucks, you will want to read this book. If you've ever been willing to lose the battle to win the war, read "The Disreputable History..." It will stay with you for a long time. As for me, well, since I was once, not too many years ago, told, "I don't care how smart you are, you just need to be nicer," Frankie is my girl.

Til next time...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The World owes you nothing

Up late, late. Working. Thinking. Having that glass of red wine cause it's oh so medicinal. (My story and sticking to it) Went to delightful Brazos Valley SCBWI conference this past Saturday, and it was Pippin's Emily van Beek - oh so very smart and witty and precise in all the ways I will never ever be - who reminded me of this post's title. It's part of Pippin's mantra, if you will. And it's harsh but true. The world owes us nothing. We owe the world - our hard work, our best efforts, our best stories, our everything. But there are no guarantees. I can whine all I like about how someone didn't like my work or asked for yet another revision or told me that my conflict isn't fully evident and my minor character is taking over the story. But if I want success, I have to fix it. It's an uncomfortable lesson. We do so much that's the opposite - trophies in YMCA sports even if your kid has sat on the grass picking clover every game; inflating grades; enabling in oh so many ways. I've done it. You've done it. Hey! Don't lie. You've done it. Or it's been done on your behalf.

Interesting to think about on this late, late night.
And on the brighter side, it's Wednesday. So that meant an hour of Bones. Ahhh. David Boreanaz solving a mystery on a plane. The world may owe me nothing, but sometimes it coughs up something nice.

Til next time...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Go Ask Alice

We are - so everyone says - in the new golden age of young adult literature. And hey, as someone whose YA book is coming out next year and who hopes to sell more of the same, who am I to argue with that assessment. So many brilliant books out there by brilliant writers :: cough - hey, check out the Class of 2k9 website !!:: that I barely have time to read them all or comment on them, much as I try.

But there's one book that just keeps on ticking with teen audiences that wasn't written recently. And that's Go Ask Alice by Anonymous. Read it when I was in high school and found it compelling. MC's downward spiral into drugs and sex and general horridness grabbed then and re-grabs me whenever I pick it up. It's that first person diary narrative. When I was fourteen, I felt like she was talking to me directly. (not that I was doing the things that she was doing exactly, but just that they were definitely available and this was certainly a cautionary tale with a quite unhappy ending. And hey, I came from depressed Russian stock. The people who gave us Anna Karenina and The Brothers Karamazov. My genetic idea of a happy ending was more along the lines of "And then she threw herself in front of the train. But before she did, she made sure to cook dinner for her eight children so at least they shouldn't be hungry at the funeral.")

So here's my discovery lately while the 10th graders have been presenting their book talks this 9 weeks. Go Ask Alice still gets great word of mouth. Kids still dive in and can't put it down. Amidst the Twilight craziness and the talk of whether werewolves or possibly historical fiction will be the next best YA thing (I'm voting for the historical, obviously, since SPARK is a retelling of the Anastasia Romanov's disappearance, but I digress for shameless self promotion except honestly, isn't that why I write this blog?), teens are still picking up that black covered book and telling each other to do the same. They no longer get the song reference of the title, for the most part, and for the most part I waffle about sharing my drug reference knowledge, (it's pills, kiddies, and it's also a reference to Alice in Wonderland and that nasty old Lewis Carroll) but they love the book.

So there you go.

Til next time...

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Revision Dominoes

So here's the thing about revising. You can't just fix one thing. Let's for example - and this purely hypothetical :cough - no it's not: that you add a conversation/argument between your MC and his best friend Dan and now they're really uneasy with each other. And then, the MC goes home and lo and behold, you realize that he's going to end up having this heart to heart with his little sister whereas that particular interchange didn't ever exist before in this part of the book. So now, there you are, guzzling English Breakfast tea and trying to thread the continuity of this throughout everything else that occurs in the rest of the book. And keep the pacing going.

That's all hypothetical, of course. Right?

And you know what else is hypothetical? The possibility that while you'd spent most of the day doing this - in between grocery shopping, cleaning the bathrooms, a nice little trip with the husband to Starbucks where you drank a totally delightful Chai Latte and sat outside and talked about nothing in particular and okay, an hour watching Amazing Race because you had to see what happened to Dandrew and phew they came in 5th and are still in the race and Andrew himself yelled hello to you over the phone just now while he was at your son's condo and then the preview for next week indicated that Dan and Andrew are going to fight, which you're not that worried about since you saw them having fun on Mill Street in Tempe just a couple weeks ago when you were there - that you'd completely neglected that thing called lesson plans for the coming week and you're feeling a bit guilty and stressed right now.

Which, of course, you're solving by posting this blog entry.

Til next time...

Monday, November 3, 2008


See title. Do it. Tomorrow. Have a voice.

Til next time...

And on a lighter note - the three best lines of television I've heard in awhile, courtesy of tonight's Gossip Girl: "I have a credit card. I want Bacardi and a boy. This body's open for business." Whoever wrote those - I bow in supplication. xoxo to you.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Revise. Revise. Rinse. Repeat. Revise.

I'd say that I'd been revising one book or another for what seems like forever, except I think that describes this election year. Okay, maybe it describes both things. And by Tuesday, we'll have a new president, but I'll still be revising CUT BACK. Which is honestly okay although my NaNoWriMo goals have now turned into finish my revision goals and will probably be joined by the finish my line edit goals. And Sweet Dreams will continue waiting a few more weeks. Maybe for me it'll be NaNoWriMo times 2. We'll see how it goes. But I'm feeling sassy and happy because tonight is my absolute favorite night of the year since we push the clocks back and get that extra hour. (except where the kid lives in AZ, where - maverick run state that they are - they don't ever change the clocks and now I have remember that he's only one hour behind us now and back on Mountain time rather than two hours behind us on Pacific time. That'll screw with your head.)

Anyway, back to the revision process. Lots of ways I've gone about it. What worked for me this time was to make a bullet point outline of the main moments/beats in the novel. And then use the comment function on Word to re-plan/add/subtract/write myself notes about what needs to be done/what agent suggested/what I now realize should happen/ what's needed for the character and plot arcs. And now I'm going from there. Slowly. But happy with the results.

We'll see how far I get tomorrow. But the goal is to be done by the end of the month and I think with a little luck that just might happen.

Til next time...