Friday, April 30, 2010

Question of the Day #541

For lunch, S is taking me out for a birthday burger at The Counter. It's a build your own burger heaven. This is a brilliant idea because I love cheeseburgers. Definitely my favorite food.

If someone were to take you out for a birthday lunch, what would you order?


Thursday, April 29, 2010

Question of the Day #540

Okay, let's have a lightening round:

1. What website did you visit before you came to The Question of the Day?

2. What color hair do you have?

3. What did you have for dinner last night?

4. Who is the last person you spoke to?

5. What is your goal for today?

(I'll answer in the comments.)


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Question of the Day #539

Who would enjoy a happy thought or two? I sure would! I'll start.

A plot is forming. YAY!!!

How about you? What slice o' happy would you like to share today?


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Question of the Day #538

I just read an article about a 3 hour Espresso Enthusiast Class. I'm not a coffee drinker, but it sounds like an awesome class for coffee fans.

Most of the classes I've taken were writing classes. And unless I could find a one on one, meeting daily with an instructor who pounded the plot out of me, I'm not too interested in another writing class right now.

But I think I'd enjoy a gardening class. I know some great gardening strategies, but there's tons more to learn. And getting my hands in the dirt and eating the delicious results of hard work would be really fun.

If you were to take a class, what kind of class would it be?


Monday, April 26, 2010

Question of the Day #537

So Saturday, at the LA Times Festival of Books, Meg Cabot said her books are always lighthearted, like The Princess Diaries, about a girl who's dying for her BFF's brother to notice her and who also happens to be a princess.

Or the series Airhead, about an evil corporation that's giving gorgeous model-like girls brain transplants, about which she kept saying, "It could happen people. It. Could. Happen."

"I'm never going to write about heavy, depressing topics because my childhood was heavy and depressing," she said. "My father was an alcoholic and constantly said stuff like, 'you're stupid.' For me, reading was an escape."

Reading was for me, and still is, an escape. Did you read as a kid? Why or why not?


Sunday, April 25, 2010

Question of the Day #536

One of the coolest parts about blogging is getting to know people from around the world. There's Keats the Sunshine Girl in Malaysia. Jim Danielson and Kelly Polark are writers from the midwest United States. And Grammilou does some serious gardening in Alberta, Canada.

And we're all blogging buddies - regardless of the miles between us.

Where do you live?


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Question of the Day #535

I'm so excited! The LA Times Festival of Books takes place this weekend. It's Book Paradise. Tons of author panels, a cooking stage for cookbook authors, book signings, book euphoria!

Some of my writergirls and I are attending a panel starring the hilarious Cecil Castellucci, author of Boy Proof, and The Princess Diaries author Meg Cabot. Then we're stoked to hear what Kate DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux) will share this afternoon.

Yay for the Festival of Books!

What event do you look forward to every year?


Friday, April 23, 2010

Question of the Day #534

Last night I met a girl who is getting her Masters Degree in Social Work and Public Policy.

"Wow. That's amazing. You should be proud. You're going to change the world," I said.

"No, I'm not," she replied. "There are so many people out there with problems. If I save one person, there's just going to be somebody else with more problems right behind them."

"Okay, I can imagine it's overwhelming," I said. "But don't you believe that by positively impacting one person's life, they can positively impact another?"

"I don't know," she replied.

"If you don't know, you're in the wrong line of work," I said.

I woke up thinking about her. I've heard a similar theory regarding gang problems in LA. It's been compared to that arcade game "Whack a Mole." Put a gangster away and another pops up. I can see how it might feel that way for a social worker too.

But what if we applied that theory to everything? What if I didn't bother to recycle or use cloth bags to grocery shop because I figured my actions won't impact a global issue?

What if I decided it wasn't worth writing my stories because kids wouldn't learn something from them?

What do you think? Do you believe in a trickle down theory? Can we change the Earth, one reusable water bottle at a time? Can we make youth think, one story at a time?


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Question of the Day #533

I am starting to think I am a very shallow person.

In light of Earth Day, I decided to search my blog for the following words:

Green (Sure it appeared, but all about the color)
Earth (Um, "Earth Girls Are Easy" came up)
Energy (Oh, it popped up, but more like crazy good energy and prayerlike energy)
Energy Star

And none of them came up. Have I really asked 500 questions and not pondered ways to be kind to our Earth?

Shame on me. (Plus I really feel like I have. Because I remember you bloggers leaving great ideas in the comments. But whatevs. Maybe I'm going senile.)

Anyhoo, it's Earth Day. So...what are some great ways in which you go "green"?


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Question of the Day #532

During a recent Oprahsode, Tina Fey asked Oprah, "If you could have dinner with any one person, dead or alive, what would you order?"

Oprah laughed and even though she wasn't asked who she'd eat with, she responded, "I guess I'd invite Jesus over for some fried chicken."

I'd take Granny out for a cheeseburger.

So, if you could have dinner with one person, dead or alive, what would you order?


Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Question of the Day #531

Sooo...once again, the concensus is that my manuscript is not working. I've got great characters, a weak plot and flimsy structure. Which is usually my problem.

But it's interesting, because S, one of my supercool critique group members, usually develops strong plots first and brings characters to life when revising. On her last manuscript, J did the same thing. Although with her previous work, strong characters came to J first and they helped her build plot later.

This got me thinking about how different people have different methods of getting from A to B. It could be something as simple as my roommates microwaving food when I never touch that machine. Or it could be the crazy way S divides a dinner check, somehow backing into it and zig zagging from A to Z before she gets back to B. And H and I would rather just split it down the middle.

It's all about the approach. And while my characters first, plot later approach is frustrating now, it'll all work out. For me, anyway.

Do you feel you approach things differently than others? If so, how? If not, why not?


Monday, April 19, 2010

Question of the Day #530

My critique group meets tonight. I've been ploughing through my WIP and I'm really looking forward to get their insights on what is and what is not working.

Thank god for this reliable team of genius writers.

Who do you turn to when you need some constructive criticism?


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Question of the Day #529

I don't eat olives.

Back in high school, I ate a whole can of black olives and then threw them up. Ever since, I have been unabe to eat olives.

I don't like the texture of sea urchin. So I don't eat that either.

What foods do you not eat?


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Question of the Day #528

Yesterday, some of you commented about technology and the not so great parts about it, like texting instead of talking or being addicted to electronic communication. And I agree, those are lousy aspects of how technology has changed our lives.

But what are some ways in which technology has made your life better?

My favorite is picking someone up at the airport. I have no idea how I ever found my arrivals without a cell phone.

What about you? How has technology improved your life?


Friday, April 16, 2010

Question of the Day #527

On Facebook, Simply V. posted the following status update: misses the days when gum was just something to chew on, not change your life.

So how about a fill in the blank?

I'll start. Suzanne misses the days when gas was $1.50 a gallon.

How would you finish this sentence? __________ misses the days when _________________ .


Thursday, April 15, 2010

Question of the Day #526

So last night, H, Little J and I talked about how in high school, people are put into social categories. For example, The Breakfast Club illustrated those stereotypes eloquently by personifying The Brain, The Athlete, The Basketcase, The Princess and The Criminal.

We discussed how years later, some people hold on to those stereotypes, trying to break out and prove that they're not the dork they were in high school. Or they might dispel The Princess mojo by rockin' independence as an adult.

In high school, I tightroped a lot of those lines and blurred out somewhere between a Basketcase and a Princess. Sometimes I can still relate to the Basketcase in me, but that princess is looong gone.

How about you? Did you fit into a certain category as a kid? And how does that or doesn't that relate to your adult life?


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Question of the Day #525

I'm having trouble plotting.

I wrote my first novel in serial fashion. One cliffhangered chapter at a time. I had no idea where the story was going. I just let my characters run with it. But when I was done, the novel had more plotholes then LA after El Nino. (Potholes/plotholes? You know what I mean.)

The second novel writing process was similar, but initially I had a much clearer idea of where the story was headed. Still, I let my characters run with the story and then went back and filled in all the plotholes.

And when it came time to develop the third novel, I knew exactly what should happen. I plotted first and constructed an outline. Then I wrote and revised. But it still wasn't quite right, so after getting some amazing advice from my guru, Nancy Lamb, I replotted and revised.

This time, I really don't know where the story is going, so it's tough to outline. I'm tempted to use the let my main character run with it method because I don't seem to have another choice.

So, I'm looking for a little genius brainstorming here. How do you plot? Any suggestions?


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Question of the Day #524

Last night, right before sleep, I had an awesome idea for a Question of the Day. Whatever it was.

My friend R, a songwriter, keeps a little recorder in his car and when he has an idea for a melody or a lyric, he sings into it. If he's not in his car, he calls his voicemail and leaves himself a message.

When I'm not in bed and have an "Ah ha" moment, I usually take notes. But there's something about those moments before sleep and right when I wake up that are packed with seemingly genius ideas that I never keep track of.

What about you? How do you hold on to great ideas?


Monday, April 12, 2010

Question of the Day #523

At Saturday's SCBWI event, I attended a session on virtual book tours. A virtual book tour is a series of scheduled blog or website stops an author can make to discuss their book. Just like an author will physically show up at a book store for a reading and question and answer session, an author will do that online.

Step one was to start a blog. Check.

Step two was to ask five blog friends if they will host a visit.

At that point, I felt very lucky. I've met so many writers through blogging. There's Kelly, the blogosphere's favorite rockerwriter chick. Rena, author of A New Job for Dilly. Jim Danielson, a middle grade fiction writer from the midwest. Ara, an awesome YA writer in San Diego. Tricia J. O'Brien, who couples great photography with her online scribbles.

And they are just the beginning. I've gained a huge network of writer friends through blogging. They provide ideas, tips and encouragement, jokes and a kick in the writerpants when needed.

Most of all, they create a community. Many stops to be made on a virtual book tour, ringing with cheers, every blog along the way.

What do you enjoy about blogging?


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Question of the Day #522

Yesterday, the hilarious, self-proclaimed vixen, Libba Bray, spoke at SCBWI's So Cal Writer's Day. She mused about the writing process, her non-linear thinking, and gave us a list of 10 things to remember when writing. This is my favorite:

"If it doesn't scare you at least a little bit to write your story, there are no stakes. If there are no stakes, it's not worth writing."

An audience member then asked if she was referring to stakes for the main character or stakes for the writer. She answered, "both."

That hit me my right in my (bursting with reasons to procrastinate) forehead. My main character is in a lot of pain. She's a well-guarded, defensive, wounded girl. And it's scary for me, as a writer, to knock down her walls and get to her raw center. Scary, because I'll have to feel the emotions she's having and also scary because in some ways, I don't want to hurt her.

A few years ago, at SCBWI's winter conference in New York, I had the privilege of attending a presentation by Katherine Paterson, author of one of my favorite books as a child, Bridge to Terabithia. (Spoiler Alert! If you have not read this book and would like to, stop reading.) She said that when it was time to write the scene in which Leslie Burke dies, she scrubbed the kitchen floors, washed all the bedding in her home, reorganized closets and did everything she possibly could to avoid feeling that pain.

She, the amazing Katherine Paterson, was afraid to write.

That makes me feel a little better. Because there are days when the stakes feel so high that all I can do is clean the house.

But today, after being reminded that two great authors are indeed, great, because they faced their fears, I will finish this post, turn to page 36 of my work in progress and write.

What high stakes do you need to hurdle?


Saturday, April 10, 2010

Question of the Day #521

Today I'm attending SCBWI's So. Cal Writer's Day. This year's guests include Rachel Abrams, Assistant Editor, HarperCollins Children's Books, Jill Corcoran, Agent, Herman Agency, picture book author Lisa Wheeler, middle grade series author Kathleen O'Dell, and Young Adult author Libba Bray. Also, Professional Forum speaker author Nancy I. Sanders will detail how to create a Virtual Book Tour.

I'm excited to hear what everyone has to say, but most of all, I'm psyched to soak up the crazy energy writers create when we all get together.

What kinds of events vibrate good energy for you?


Friday, April 9, 2010

Question of the Day #520

I'm stealing this question from a FB friend who posted it as her status update. (I figured I should admit it.)

Which celebrity would you most want to interview?

I would interview my favorite YA writer, Sarah Dessen.

Who would you like to interview?


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Question of the Day #519

This morning I dreamed that Andy Garcia and I were in love. I felt that safe, yet excited awesome lovey feeling. We had been in love a long time.

It was about to get cold wherever we were, so we poured water over the pipes (huh?) and the goat in the room eagerly lapped it up. Some of my clothes got wet, but thankfully, Andy saved my giant granny panties before they got soaked.

Weird stuff, right?

Blogger buddy, Rena Jones, has been dreaming about grizzly bears. And I'm clearly dreaming nutty stuff. What have you been dreaming about lately?


Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Question of the Day #518

Yesterday, one of my friends posted a warning on Facebook about It's a "phone book" which when I typed my name in, provided the road I used to live on, the number of people in my household, my marital status, hobbies, my home's approximate worth, my approxinate income, and other personal things. For a few extra dollars, users could search for my exact address, phone number and even my credit score.


I clicked on the privacy link at the bottom of the page and removed my listing, but this service gathers its information from other sources on the web and uses the various information to compile comprehensive "reports" on unaware inidivduals like us. So I may have removed myself from this one resource, but the information is still out there.

So, let's take today to share information about information we may not want weird websites to share. (Got that?) Spokeo is definitely something I feel I should warn you about. What do you think you should warn others about?


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Question of the Day #517

Ooo. You guys gave some awesome one hit wonder answers. And a lot of them seemed to be from the 80's and 90's, so that made me curious.

What was your favorite band when you were growing up?

Mine was U2. My mother loved it when I wrote the words to "Bad" on my bedroom wall.


Monday, April 5, 2010

Question of the Day #516

After our delicious feast last night, H put on a music video channel (I didn't even know there still was a channel that played videos.) and a One Hit Wonder show came on.

This prompted Stahcie and K to do the running man during Marky Mark's "Good Vibrations." Everyone joined in for a dramatic sing along to Bonnie Tyler's "Total Eclipse of the Heart." And K's hilarious Lisa Loeb impersonation, glasses and all, during "Stay" produced mass howling.

Who knew One Hit Wonders could be so entertaining?

I waited, unrequited, for my fave, T'Pau's "Heart and Soul." When I hear that song, I'm instantly 15, belting that song out in front of my mirror.

What's your favorite One Hit Wonder?


Sunday, April 4, 2010

Question of the Day #515

I'm very excited to spend the day with my friends. And even more excited that the Easter Bunny is coming and is ready to hold our annual Easter Beer Hunt.

It's the most ridiculous tradition. Hilarious to watch a bunch of 40 year olds poking under furniture and searching closets for hidden beer. It creates belly rolling laughs and that's exactly what everybody needs today.

What do you need today?


Saturday, April 3, 2010

Question of the Day #514

H and I are going to the farmers' market to pick out veggies for tomorrow's Easter feast. This got me thinking about how some people like certain veggies and others don't.

For example, when Nicolean Dynamite was here, I discovered she doesn't like asparagus. Another friend of mine wouldn't eat Granny's Stew because it contains peas. And my ex-boyfriend was not a big fan of brussel sprouts.

I never met a vegetable I didn't like. How about you? How do you feel about vegetables?


Friday, April 2, 2010

Question of the Day #513

Yesterday, my sister in law and I weeded a flowerbed. (Getting my hands in the dirt always makes me feel better.) Daffodils have popped up around the neighborhood and forsythia blazes yellow in every other yard, but other than that, it's kind of bloomless.

We contemplated what we'd plant today.

"The deer don't eat zinnias," she said.

The deer? Right. The deer. I don't have to worry about deer when gardening in LA. Although I did have some munchy critter snatch cucumbers and jalapenos off the vine in my last garden. But what's a few veggies? These people have to deal with bloom-eating vultures!

Okay, not vultures. Deer. Whatevs. Same thing.

What animals do you have to consider when landscaping/gardening around your home?


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Question of the Day #512

I'd like to thank Greg C. for inspiring me to focus on the positive. Every week, he posts Thankful Thursdays and lists what he's thankful for.

I'm not feeling well today, so focusing on the good stuff is a great idea. Here's what I'm thankful for:

1. My fairy goddaughter and her parents, who give really good hugs.
2. My friends, who never waffle when it comes to how they feel about me.
3. H, who would never leave me without an airport pickup.
4. Sunday's upcoming Easter dinner.
5. Tally's story and the fact that she's finally emerging.
6. Work. And hopefully more work.
7. The many walks on the beach I'll be taking.
8. My roommate, for tolerating my soon to be ever-presence.
9. Resilience.
10. The strength to get up. Again.

Anybody want to join me on the Thankful Thursday train?