Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Signing Things

I signed my book contract last week!  It was kind of surreal.  I sign my name all day long, but it’s usually just giving Mastercard permission to come take my firstborn child if I don’t pay 19% or 56% or who knows, maybe  83% interest on whatever I’m buying.   But a real contract with a real publisher! Yikes!!!
I’ve only signed a handful of important things in my life.  I guess my marriage certificate was probably fairly important.  The deed to my house.  Maybe my kids’ birth certificates, but after that, I’m drawing a blank.  Unless of course the waiver at that bouncy house place was really as crucial as they pretended it was, which I don’t believe for one second.  (And as if I’m not suing if I break my collarbone anyway…)
Here's what it looks like.

Looking at it, I realize:
1.        I have the signature of a 15-year old.  I want it to be messy and artsy and worldly, but it’s not.  You can read all the letters, and if I intentionally scribble in the middle it just looks like I had a mini seizure.  Note the second signature.
2.       My name is confusing.  Am I Hispanic?  I wish.  I only know four or five words in Spanish and they can all be found on the Taco Bell menu.   I just married well.  (Side note on the confusing—I had my first child in Miami and every single doctor or nurse coming through the delivery room door did so talking to me in Spanish.  I was ready to throw a cup of ice chips at the next person who said Senora Martinez, como esta?  As it turns out, me+pain=shocking intolerance.)
VIRTUOSITY’s tentative release date is for October 2011, which means I have about 13 months to get a cool signature, on the off chance I get asked to sign a book.  Maybe a tube of red lipstick would be a better idea and I can just kiss every book I see, whether I wrote it or not.  Wait, I just pictured myself getting kicked out of Barnes and Noble for making out with all the books.  Beautiful.

Speaking of signatures, I found this the other day.  It was stuffed into an old book.

I can’t believe I’m posting this.  No, that’s not my maiden name—Wilson is the last name of a guy I really liked, and no, I’m not saying when.  Fine.  It was in COLLEGE, and I didn’t even date the guy!  We hung out for about a month one summer, and from that I extrapolated my new name, our wedding colors, the names of four children, and the decorating scheme for our house.   So again, WHY AM I POSTING THIS?  Because apparently, I have no shame.  And also, finding it slammed me back into my teenage years, which for a YA writer is a good.   I like to think I haven’t really matured much beyond 19 anyway, but occasionally I get a good reminder of the crazy optimism that I love about this age, which makes me want to go work on my next novel. 
Random and Unrelated Portion of This Post:
Who wants naked stick figures?  I know, you’re thinking I’m a liar.  In the manifesto (a few posts back) I said no nudity, but actually what I said was limited nudity.  I found this on the back of a shopping list while looking for my son’s social security number this week.  I thought, “Why is this shopping list from forever ago in my son’s file folder?” and I almost threw it out.  Then I saw it.
His first stick figure.  He was the kid who would rather eat a crayon than put it to paper, so I remember being amazed when he actually did this.  And then I looked closer.  Are all the vital parts there?  Sort of.  A head, no arms, but 2 legs, and what’s that?  Oh yes.  Everything is accounted for.  The fundamental man.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

What's that again?

I never re-read books. It's not a policy or something I'm actually advocating, but at any given time I feel like there are at least thirty books I want to be/should be reading, so re-reading doesn't even occur to me. This week, however, I'm throwing caution into the wind.

The showdown: Anne of Green Gables vs. Handmaid's Tale.  It's not really a showdown--I'm not comparing them. That would be stupid.  I am, however, alternating chapters just for pure shock value.  It's like going back and forth between hot chocolate and a Slurpee.  That hurts my teeth just thinking about it.  I'm reading them both as research for the novel I'm working on.  (I know, if you've read both of these books you're thinking "what the?" and honestly, so am I right now.)

It's been about 20 years since I read Anne, and 10 since Handmaid, so it's kind of a relief to still be loving them both. I'll recant if that changes, but for now it's nice being able to tell myself I have to be reading both of these books.  Makes me have warm fuzzy thoughts about being a writer.

See the Zhu Zhu Pet? After totally alienating the animal-loving population in my first post (probably not smart), I decided to show my soft and cuddly side. I got these for my kids and they rule. The kids love them, and they barely even know they aren't alive. Best part: they don't poop every five seconds like the real guinea pig we used to have but had to give away because the smell was driving me insane.  See?  I'm not a terrible person.  There's room in my heart for a chirping, battery-operated  friend with an "off" switch.  Next week I'll post pictures of the plants I'm intentionally killing right now.  They're just so freaking needy...

And now for the totally random part of this post:

I saw this ad for Disney auditions in the newspaper today, and my knee jerk reaction was, "Yay!  Now I can be a Disney Princess!  This is the best part about living in Orlando!"

It took me a few seconds to remember:

A.  There are a whole bunch of Disney Princesses and I don't look ANYTHING like ANY of them.  No self-esteem interventions please, I like myself just fine, but seriously, no resemblance.  I'm probably closest to looking like Mulan, and I'm not even Asian.  I just have similar shaped eyes and am much more likely to be able to disguise myself as a man than as Ariel.  If you know what I mean.

B.  I'm not looking for a job!  I feel like I've got way too much on my plate right now, and I'm already dropping the ball in more than a few area.  Today's example:  I forgot that Wednesday was early day and wasn't there to pick up my brand new little kindergartner from the bus drop off.  That's right.  Worst mother ever.  One of the other mothers in our neighborhood walked him home for me, and I'm so embarrassed I want to curl up into a ball and read Anne of Green Gables without the electric cattle prod effect of Handmaid's Tale.  Who forgets their five year old on his first week of school ever?  In my defense, it was MY first early day too and next Wednesday I'll be extra special early.  The other mothers on my block are probably planning some kind of intervention for me right now.

I guess my take home lesson is it's probably not wise to go auditioning for Disney Princess gigs yet. Also, now that my kids have schedules, I should really start using my planner.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What My Dove Chocolate Just Told Me
I was thinking about motivation this morning, so I decided to turn to the geniuses at Dove for some wisdom.  That was probably a mistake.

Chocolate #1
Keep moving forward; don't look back.—Sally, Griffin, IN
My Analysis:
Pretty stupid.  Moving forward is only good advice if you’re going in the right direction, which you can’t really know unless you look back occasionally.  That said, I'm kind of amazed at the correct semicolon usage.  So, I guess, kudos to you, Sally.

Chocolate #2
Live from your heart.  It will never steer you wrong.—Sherry, Conway, AZ
My Analysis:
Wrong.  Five minutes of the Maury Povich show will tell you that there are a whole lot of people in America “living from the heart” and definitely not on course.  Unless needing multiple paternity tests for all eight of your children is on course. 

Chocolate #3
You go girl!  You deserve this! –Teresa, Arlington, KY
My Analysis:
I liked this one at first.  I do deserve this!  But then I started thinking: it’s only my third chocolate, but would I really deserve it if it was my thirtieth?  Or if I’d just kicked my neighbor’s dog?  I haven’t, but I’m just saying Teresa has no clue. 

Chocolate #4
If you can imagine then you can achieve.  –Colleen, Cherry Hill, NJ
My Analysis:
Too bland to even comment on.  I mean maybe, but so what?

Chocolate #5
Wear that perfect dress tonight. –Lisa, Morristown, NJ
My Analysis:
Best one yet.  It’s something I can actually do, and it might even make my life slightly better.  Now I just have to clean the chocolate off my face and go buy a new dress.

Slightly More Serious Thoughts On Motivation:
I had two violin teachers growing up.  The first one was a screamer.  I was just a little girl (age 4-11), but there were threats, insults, crying at my lessons, the whole crazy deal.  I worked my butt off to avoid getting in trouble, but sometimes crap got dealt out anyway.  Aside from being completely mental, she was an amazing violin teacher—worth toughing  it out.  But it was personality forming to say the least, and to this day I’m a little afraid of perfectly nice people who happen to have Polish accents.
The second teacher was the opposite.  I was older (age 11-18) and cared about impressing him, which was hard to do.  But he was never mean.  Every single week I worked like a maniac, which of course was way harder than I ever worked for the crazy lady.
It’s not rocket science.  Fear bad, positive reinforcement good, right?
Except now, as a writer, I could use a good dose of teacher number one from time to time.  Trying to impress my agent/editor/readers/family/etc. is kind of an amorphous concept, and impressing myself is even harder.  So if anyone wants to call me up on Wednesday afternoons (is it weird that I remember my exact lesson time over twenty years later?) and scream at me in broken English, I just know it would give my writing a boost.  I might even dedicate book #2 to you.  Also appreciated: any motivational tips that don’t involve me eating another entire bag of Dove Dark Chocolates. 

Friday, August 13, 2010


Welcome to my blog!  Here's the plan:

The Manifesto

  • No taking myself too seriously.  I fully intend to be professional on my official website (once it's up and running), but not here.  If I feel like posting a picture of myself riding a unicycle, then by golly, I'll do it.
  • Plenty of freaking out about the big scary world of publishing, because it's exciting and I have no idea what I'm doing yet, so why not invite an audience?  At some point I hope to be savvy enough to not wet my pants every time I get an email from my agent or editor, but until then, you'll be hearing about it here.
  • No pictures of cute little animals.  Unless they're feral and I'm chasing them out of my house with a hockey stick.  Please don't hate me animal lovers--we can still be friends. 
  • No nudity.  Scratch that.  Limited nudity.  If someone walks by me sporting some plumber crack, and I just happen to have my camera on me, it's going to end up on this blog.  You're welcome.

Yes, those are goggles.  I wish I had a good explanation as to why I'm wearing them to write.  I don't.  I'm just trying to prove to my husband that they are totally worth the $15 I paid for them at Target--see, I can wear them for work and play!  He thinks I got ripped off because he got a pair for $4 at T.J.Maxx.

Side note: I'm persona non grata at the Maxx after a certain three-year-old friend of mine peed her pants when I said no to a new Dora Backpack. 

What I'm Working On:


Okay, so I'm not actually working on it right now, because it sold to Simon Pulse in May!  It's about a teenage violin prodigy who falls in love with her biggest competitor.  I should be embarrassed to admit this, but I'm sort of in love with my characters and their story.  I was actually sad for a while when I finished writing it because I missed them.  Umm, delusional?  Maybe.  I'm even looking forward to getting my revisions letter from my editor so I'll get to hang out with my "friends" Carmen and Jeremy again.  (Caution: this is what happens to people who wear goggles while they write.)  I'll be sure to post pictures of me opening my revisions letter, sobbing, setting myself on fire, etc.  Just kidding. 

Book #2: ???

Ah yes, my little title-less baby.  I'm writing away, falling in love with a new batch of "friends," this novel to be published by Simon Pulse in fall of 2012.  People keep asking me what it's about, and truthfully, I'd rather answer embarrassingly personal medical questions.  So if you're curious, just ask about the inner workings of my GI instead please.  Any time I cave and attempt to give details I hear the plot coming out of my mouth and think, Oh no!  This is garbage!  How did I ever think this was a good idea?  What am I going to do?  I should probably scrap it and start writing a paranormal dystopian romance between a leprechaun and a gargoyle instead. Then I have to talk myself off the ledge and remind myself that it's actually a good idea, and I do really love my story.  Frankly, it's exhausting.  So if you're not my agent or editor, go ahead and ask, but please don't feel bad when I mumble and change the subject.  And if you are my agent or editor, you should probably yell at me for not having a better response.  I totally deserve it.

What I Read In Canada:

I just got back from a six-week trip to the motherland.  Every summer I go to Canada when Florida gets so unbearably hot and humid that I start fantasizing about curling up in the freezer and closing the door behind me.  I got to read some stuff I've been meaning to for a while, some YA, some not.  This isn't everything, but the stuff I feel like I can recommend:

I need to make a confession.  I started and stopped reading two award-winning YA novels, both after about 50 pages and both for different reasons.  They will remain nameless because I'm a wuss and don't want to make enemies in this business before I've even made friends.  The first was nearly without plot (and I even like character-driven fiction, but this was toooo muuuuch) and the second suffered from forced dialogue.  I could hear the adult trying to sound like a teenager and I just couldn't make myself suffer through.

So, I guess my point is I don't always agree with the people giving those awards.  Unless they're giving one to me.  Then they're geniuses.

In Closing:

This is one mighty long first post, but I feel like I should finish off by explaining why cute little animals are not my friends.  This has nothing to do with writing.
This swam up my toilet.  My three-year-old daughter spotted it first.  We tried to catch it, but it swam back down, so I flushed the toilet about thirty times as if that was going to fix the problem.  Now, if that frog can swim up, what's stopping a snake, or a tiny gator, or a whole army frogs?  According to google, NOTHING!

Same frog in my daughter's closet ?  I don't know.  Looks bigger to me.  On the same day we also had a long black snake coiled up by our front door.  Sorry, no picture.  Far too much freaking out for that.

This gator lives in the lake behind our cul-de-sac.  I took the picture to impress my Canadian relatives, and they thought it was moderately cool, but not as scary as a grizzly.  As if they have grizzlies living right in their backyards.

Animal kingdom, what did I ever do to you?