Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Riddler, The Joker and The Juggler

Remember the Riddler from Batman? Not the Jim Carrey version but the campy Adam West version. The middle-aged man in a tight suit version. The completely inane riddle version…

A few of the riddles at our house… "What's for dinner?" Please note, there is no correct answer; someone will always be unhappy… "I hate fill-in-the-blank! We always have what she wants." Or, the ever popular, "Mom, where are my socks/cleats/shoes/shin guards? Where is my coat/backpack/money/school uniform?" Apparently, "wherever you left it," is not an acceptable answer. Divining the location of lost items is an overlooked aspect of my job description. I frequently hear, "Will you take me to the movies? And pay for it? And pick me up?" Or, the ever popular, "Why do you let her get away with everything?" This question is accompanied by the editorial comment – "It's so unfair!!!" Of course, I cannot forget, "Who drank all the juice? Who ate all the cookies? Who took my i-touch?"

I have a few questions…How do dirty socks end up in the couch? Who put the empty milk carton back in the frig? Where did that awful t-shirt come from? (I never bought it!) Why can no one feed the dog without being prompted at least four times? What is a roll of pink duct tape doing on the steps? For that matter, why do we have hot pink duct tape? ZOUNDS!

Current word count – 19,594

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


I had a brilliant idea for a blog post – witty, charming, urbane – the Cary Grant of blog posts. But, I got distracted by this bit of craziness. Jacqueline Howett named her book The Greek Seaman. The title alone should alert you to the high wackadoo quotient. Enjoy.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Sheik

In the name of research I read The Sheik this weekend. Written in 1919 by Edith Hull, the novel spent two years on the best-seller list.

Oh my.

To summarize - Diana Mayo, a beautiful, spoiled head-strong girl who has been raised by a much older brother decides to trek across the desert with native guides. She is kidnapped by The Sheik. He rapes her. Repeatedly.

Even with all the fight in her delicate body, she can't hold the brute off. She cries, she begs, she fights, she pleads for mercy - all to no avail. The Sheik holds her prisoner in a desert camp. One day she escapes, racing across the desert on a stolen horse. The Sheik shoots her horse out from under her, gathers her into his strong arms, rides her back to camp and as she is imprisoned in the circle of those arms, she discovers she loves him.

What the hell?

Now, I know women's societal roles in 1920s society were changing. They had jobs. They had money. They went on dates with men instead of sitting on the front porch swing. Still, according to Ms Hull, women wanted to be dominated.

Oh my.

The dominated Miss Mayo is kidnapped AGAIN by the Sheik's arch-enemy. Unlike the Sheik – think Rudolph Valentino (after all, the role made him famous) – the arch-enemy is dirty and fat and smells. Like the Sheik, he plans on raping Diana. The Sheik rescues her and murders the arch-enemy. Unfortunately, one of the enemy's henchmen knifes the Sheik in the back. Diana nurses him back to health. The Sheik, who has raped and abused her for months, discovers he loves her too. And because he loves her he decides to let her go (think that incredibly sappy poem – if you love something, set if it free…). Only, Diana doesn't want to be free. She cries, she begs, she fights, she pleads for mercy – all to no avail. And finally, when she realizes that he intends to send her away and nothing she can say or do will change his mind, she tries to shoot herself in the head.

Oh my.

The Sheik, who by the way is the son of an English earl (don't even ask), relents and the two live happily ever after. Or in romance novel terms HEA.

Oh my.


Friday, March 25, 2011

The Internet Millionairess

Of late, I have been fascinated with Amanda Hocking. Never heard of her? Until December I hadn't either. My dreamy husband gave me a Nook for Christmas and I eagerly shopped around Barnes and Noble's online store. There are multiple ways to search for your next good read – search your favorite author, or by title or by best-seller or by Deals. That is where I found Amanda Hocking.

I remember noticing the covers of her books and the prices and wondering how bad a $0.99 book must be. I bought something else that day (and on many other days).

When Amanda's name started popping up on the blogs I read, I revisited the Deals Page. She had seven books – all priced at $0.99 (for the first in a series) or $2.99 (for subsequent books). I bought one. It wasn't bad. I bought another. Again, not bad. She's not J.K. Rowlings or Suzanne Collins but she spins a good YA yarn.

In less than a year, the 26-year old girl who describes herself as unicorn enthusiast (I swear I'm not making that up – check out her blog) has earned more than $1 million. What's more, she just signed a $2 million deal with St. Martins for a paranormal YA series called Watersong.

It all makes me wonder if she's been wishing on pediddles.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011


When I was fifteen and wanted to believe in wishes (against my better judgement and despite the fact that a '67 Mustang convertible never appeared in my garage), my friend Jane and I wished on cars with one headlight. "Pediddle!" we'd scream like...well, like teenage girls. An argument would ensue over who'd seen the pediddle, who'd called it first and whose wish would be coming true based on the unknown driver's faulty equipment.

Falling stars, four-leaf clovers, peddidles... I'll wish on anything tonight. I have the list of editors to whom Prairie Gothic has been submitted.

Need I say that I have googled them all? Or, that I have looked up every deal they've closed in the past twelve months?

By-the-by, 1,250 words a day is almost impossible when combined with a job, mothering and a host of other commitments. Word count for the current WIP is 16,855. I'll keep you updated.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I continue to peruse Lawrence Block's excellent book, Telling Lies for Fun and Profit. I am awed by his commitment to write five pages a day. Five pages, 1250 words. Discipline.

Five pages, 1250 words, make the beds, what's for dinner?, Mom, I need a ride to fill-in-the-blank,do the laundry, walk the dog, do the dishes, go to that pesky but beloved full-time job, tuck in kiddos, kiss dreamy husband, rinse and repeat.

By the way, current WIP count is 15,945. We'll see if tomorrow dawns with a count of 17,195.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Home again, home again

At home in my favorite chair ignoring a basketball game. Temple and San Diego State? Even if I'd filled out a tourney bracket, I wouldn't care.

I've been reading Telling Lies for Fun and Profit - I actually had a whole hour to read yeasterday while the dreamy one took the girls out in a canoe. Lawrence Block eschews giving advice on flabby adverbs and the passive voice (e.g. Mom was tired v. Mom sank into her favorite with a grateful sigh. Her eyelids felt weighted and Bryant Gumbel's voice sounded like a lullaby). Instead he suggests writing a set amount every day and this gem, "Don't begin at the beginning."

So much to think about.

Oooh San Diego won. Still don't care. Probably something about those weighted eyelids.

Sweet dreams

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I have a dream

My dream vacation - I wake up to delicious hot coffee brought to me by my dreamy husband. Next up a leisurely walk by the lake/beach. And then, a few productive hours spent working while dreamy husband golfs or goes for a run or tries to catch a fish. Lunch on a sunlit terrace cooled by a refreshing breeze. A nap by the pool. A romantic dinner. Repeat.

My real vacation - I wake up and make coffee. The darling daughters inform me of the schedule for the day. Paddle boating, volleyball, mini-golf, biking... Their schedules do not include taking anything at a leisurely pace. Nor do they include romantic dinners or their mother working.

I wouldn't trade a minute of these days with my family but they'd be very different if I got to be cruise director.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


We’re on vacation with two i-pods, two i-touches, one Nook and one laptop. Incredible beauty, flora, fauna, wild birds and certain someones are playing Angry Birds.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

What lurks in the cracks

Imagine a thirteen year old-girl in full whine mode. Why? Because the nefarious cleaning people have stolen both her i-touch and her camera.

My assertion that the cleaning people had NOT stolen anything and maybe she should clean up her room was met with the derision it deserved. No one can sneer like a teenager.

Last night, after a month of complaints, I offered to help her find her missing electronics. We looked in messy drawers, we searched under the bed and we shook down her little sister. Nothing.

"See. I told you. They stole it."

"Have you looked in the couch?" I queried.

"It's not there."

"How do you know if you haven't looked?"

"I just know."

Despite her absolute certainty, I moved dreamy husband and crazy dog (who isn't supposed to be on the couch anyway). Cushions were removed and sleeves pushed up.

The couch yielded $3.87 in change, six pens, seven ponytail holders, eight pens, candy wrappers galore, one camera and one i-touch.

I handed over the goods and gently pointed out that accusing perfectly nice women of theft when she couldn't put away her belongings might not be the best policy. This was met with an eye-roll of epic proportions. Imagine that.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Round Table

The WIP is set in 1922. As a result, I've learned a great deal about speakeasies, hem lengths, cloche hats and the Algonquin Round Table.

The next time someone asks me which three famous people I'd invite to dinner, I'm going to tell them that I'd prefer to travel back in time and have lunch with the vicious circle.

Bob Benchley said, "You have no idea how many problems an author has to face during those feverish days when he is building a novel, and you have no idea how he solves them. Neither has he."

I might just post that above my desk.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Waiting Game

This time next week Prairie Gothic will be on sub. Then, the waiting begins. Yuck.

Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice and her father sent it off to a publisher. It was rejected. Quickly. True - no waiting, but, ouch. So, she worked on Sense and Sensibilty. She sent it off to a publisher and waited. And, while she was waiting, she re-wrote Pride and Prejudice. The rest is history.

It's comforting to know that Jane Austen faced the same demons as today's authors. Queries and rejections and waiting 'til you go mad. I cannot imagine re-writing or editing a hand-written manuscript. It seems infinitely more daunting than using Word.

Really, imagine your life without spellcheck, the ability to cut and paste, and (my favorite) the delete button.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fingers crossed

Prairie Gothic is with the agent extraordinaire. It feels a little bit like sending a toddler to pre-school for the first time. Will the other kids like him? Will he fit in? And what about mom? What will I do with all that extra time?

Actually, I know the answer. Write. Otherwise, the waiting and wondering will drive me nuts.

Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Another step

It's the kind of cough that bends you in half, makes your eyes fill with tears, keeps everyone up all night. It's the kind of cough that requires Delsym by the quart. It's the kind of cough that makes you miss a deadline.

I HATE missing deadlines. Hate it. I wrote for a weekly for too long. And now, I am a day behind in getting my MS to my agent. She is wonderful, tells me to take my time, make sure it's perfect...cough, cough...

She doesn't realize I'm not sleeping...cough, cough... and that maybe changing the ending while running a low-grade fever is a bad idea. I can always change it back. Right?

Somehow, no matter how familiar I am with reality, my dream of being a writer ...cough, cough... resembles a fantasy. I'd sit at a roomy desk, positioned in the center of a charming room, filled with pretty things that inspired me. In my dream sunlight pours through the windows. Or, in wintertime, snowflakes drift past. My dream also features a clean house, folded laundry, a delicious and healthy dinner on the table and constant inspiration. Yeah, right. Oh, and I'd be thin and fabulous, too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

I'm so tired...

For men of a certain age, there are five or six indispensable movies. I call them movies and not films on purpose.. because Animal House is a movie. Same with The Blues Brothers, The Man with Two Brains, Young Frankenstein, History of the World Part I, Caddyshack and Blazing Saddles.

Men have memorized their favorite lines (It's good to be king...Cinderalla story....Damn glad to meet you...). At our house, if one of the above mentioned movies in on television, we watch it. No matter that we own DVDs of all of them.

I have seen Blazing Saddles 57 times - and counting. Today I feel like Lilly Von Schtupp. I'm tired. So tired. NOT of my dreamy husband, NOT of adorable children, NOT of the crazy dog that occupies a special place in my heart. Today I am tired of the things that take me away from writing - laundry and carpool and volunteer commitments and what's for dinner (really that last one is a question not a statement). The next novel is being written on scraps of paper in scraps of time.

Also, I'm tired. Need-a-nap tired. Oh well. No rest for the wicked or mothers.