Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Question of the Day #601

Have I mentioned how cloudy it's been? Have I complained about how cold I am? Have I made it clear that this has been the coldest, cloudiest, most depressing Spring ever?

In case I haven't whined about it enough, May Gray and June Gloom have gone too far. It's almost July and still, LA is dark and dreary. I mean, seriously, does the beach in the picture look fun to you?

It drizzled Monday morning. (If you've ever lived here you probably just gasped.)

And I met with my critique group Monday. Their comments combined with my beta readers' comments prove that I have a whole lotta revising to do. Which is good, but I'm so dark and cloudy and low that I don't even want to go for a walk to get my creative wheels churning.

Waa waa waa. I know.

What's got you down?


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Question of the Day #600

My friend Nate is crossing a dream off his bucketlist by through hiking the Appalachian Trail. 100 days ago, he started hiking in Georgia and today, he's in the Empire State.

His blog has an interactive tracking map on it so friends and family can see where he is. He posts often, detailing the hikers he's met, the mileage of the day and what he's learned along the way.

His adventure is pretty amazing. And the fact that he's blogging and recording the details is supercool.

What's on your bucketlist?


Monday, June 28, 2010

Question of the Day #599

After the game, while chatting with Amy, from Denver, she described her BFF by saying, "I don't remember ever not knowing her."

That struck me. Is there someone in your life you don't remember not knowing?


Sunday, June 27, 2010

Question of the Day #598

So I'm a little late, but today I'm going to my first baseball game of the season. Dodgers vs. Yankees at Dodger Stadium and I am psyched! I love the crack of the bat, the roar of the crowd, Dodger dogs, cold beer, bright lights, the green field and of course, good company.

How about you? How do you feel about baseball?


Saturday, June 26, 2010

Question of the Day #597

Yvonne, The Organic Writer, is hosting the Festival of Trees. In the past, we've discussed our favorite tree, so in honor of my favorite tree, I thought I'd write a poem about it.

It’s like this
I tuck the paperback in my shorts
Flex my keds
And reach up for the second wooden “step”
I pull up, swat one knee until it finds footing on the lowest two by four
Pull up
Step up
The leaves below move farther away
Pull up
Step up
At the fork
I twist and climb the ladder snaking up the trunk’s back
Through the trap door, I pop my head
On the battered wooden floor of my treehouse
Although it’s not really mine
Just a hand me down
From neighborhood boys who grew to cool to care
I settle into my corner spot
Rest against a sturdy branch
Back to my unpredictable household
And turn to yesterday’s last page
Its telltale folded corner begging me to finish
Someone else’s story

As a kid, I used to devour books in my treehouse. My all time favorite reading spot.

What's your favorite place to read?


Friday, June 25, 2010

Question of the Day #596

A friend of mine posted this FB status last night: Best advice I've heard tonight from a very drunk European woman with a stodgy-looking husband: "Never marry a man who won't give you a piggyback ride."

Great advice. If he's not willing to haul me around on his back once in a while, he's not ready for me.

If I were to dole out such advice, I would say, "Never marry someone who doesn't read your work."

May sound trite, but I have had more than one boyfriend who didn't want to read my writing. (Obviously, they're exes.)

How would you complete the following sentence?

"Never marry someone who ______________."


Thursday, June 24, 2010

Question of the Day #595

After taking her to yoga, having the most amazing breakfast sandwich ever and taking a fabulous walk on a finally sunny beach, I took my visiting Jersey Girl to see a psychic yesterday.

There's a big fork in J's life road and after pulling a devil card, the psychic firmly told her which way to go. After predicting some upcoming events, J and the psychic discussed whch business ideas would be a good fit for her.

She left feeling confident and ready to kick butt.

A few months ago, I went to get a reading from the same person. She echoed a theme I've been hearing since the first time I visited a psychic when I was 17. And she told me to hurry and finish my WIP.

Yes Ma'am. I'm no fool. I'm finishing it.

How do you feel about visiting psychics?


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Question of the Day #594

J, one of my Jersey Girls, added a day to her business trip to LA, so last night we went out and had dinner at the beach. She's a fantastic excuse for me to take a mini mid-week vacation!

Are you expecting visitors this summer?


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Question of the Day #593

Supercool blogger, Dawn, sent me a link to The Crow's Nest. The agent posted about a writing assignment she gave in a Master's Program. She included a bunch of questions for students to use as the "base rock" for writing for young adults. One of them was:

In what way did your upbringing seem totally different than that of your peers?

I grew up in a tiny town in NJ during the 70's and 80's and for a looong time, I was the only kid in school with divorced parents. Silly as that may sound in today's world, back then, it was a big deal.

I actually remember people saying, "Her parents are divorced." Like that meant my family had a disease.

And when my parents remarried, things got crazier with a stepmother, a stepfather and a stepbrother and a stepsister.

Although my upbringing was unique, it was good. But I definitely grew up very differently than the other kids around me. And a lot of that is reflected in Fingerprints, my YA novel that is currently out on submissions.

What about you? In what way did your upbringing seem totally different than that of your peers?


Monday, June 21, 2010

Question of the Day #593

Tally, my main character is a dancer. So in addition to watching Center Stage, Save the Last Dance, Flashdance and every other dance movie I could, I decided to re-read one of my childhood favorite novels, Flowers in the Attic.

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews is a tale of four children, one a ballet dancer, who get locked away in a bedroom in a behemoth mansion with only an attic to play in, while their mother waits for her father to die so she can inherit millions.

Great hook. And as a kid, I loved this book. As an adult, rereading it, well, the writing isn't so fabulous.

What childhood favorite book have you reread as an adult that left you less than dazzled?


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Question of the Day #592

My favorite part about revising (Wait, there's a favorite part?) is that once a scene is written, it's easily moved from one part of the story to another.

For example, my MC currently opens her story by dancing on the kitchen island during a party.

But my awesome writer and reader friend, Ara, thinks the story should open at Chapter 3. So I can pluck the important dance out of Chapter 1 and insert in Chapter 9 during another party.

It's like moving puzzle pieces around to see where they fit.

Payoff for dumping all the words on the page during the rollercoaster first draft.

What is your favorite part about revising?


Saturday, June 19, 2010

Question of the Day #591

So I worked on a new beginning and I think overall, I have a solid draft. But, it's just a draft. I know it will grow and change and morph into something different by the time it's ready to go to my agent.

To get it there, I need beta readers. And since a lot of you bloggers are writers and all of you are readers, I thought I'd put it out there.

Is anyone interested in reading a racy Young Adult novel and providing feedback on what works and what could be improved?


Friday, June 18, 2010

Question of the Day #590

Yesterday I printed out my WIP and read through it. I've read it, section by section many times, but reading the whole thing from start to finish made me realize one thing.

The opening is slow.

So I'm off to the chopping block.

The funny thing is, I've been so worried about coming up with an ending that it didn't occur to me that the beginning could be the weak spot.

What situation proved to be opposite for you lately?


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Question of the Day #589

I've blogged about how my WIP needs an ending. This morning, blogger Lisa D came to the rescue! Here's what she emailed me:

btw... I was going to suggest the following ending for your book:

There is a quiver at the core of the Earth. The quiver quickly escalates to a sway, to a tremor, to a violent convulsing of the ground. Tally screams, "to the rocket ship girls!" As the girls jump into the rocket ship made from old keg barrels, smoke and debris cloud Tally's backyard. The girls zoom up to the safety of the moon as the world explodes.

Just a suggestion.

Ohhh...that made me laugh. It's still making me laugh. I'll probably laugh over it all day.

What funny person brightens up your life?


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Question of the Day #588

The first time I saw Fatal Attraction, I was in high school, in my parents' basement with a friend of mine. Every creepy scene inched us closer and closer on the couch. I screamed at the rabbit in the pot. We jumped when Alex jumped back to life in the bathtub.

The other night, I got sucked into Fatal Attraction again. Twenty years later, the tension was just as strong and the craziness was totally authentic. And just like I did at 16, I jumped when Alex jumped back to life in the bathtub.

What movie was done so well that it still freaks you out?


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Question of the Day #587

Great news! Yesterday, I was informed that I won a scholarship to the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators 2010 Summer Conference (SCBWI). Woohoo!

Apparently, my sneaky Regional Advisors Claudia Harrington and Edie Pagliasotti nominated me (unbeknownst to me) and President Stephen Mooser and Executive Director Lin Oliver have so kindly granted me the scholarship.

About 1,000 writers, illustrators, agents and editors attend the SCBWI Summer Conference each year. Attendees enjoy workshops, critiques, keynote speakers and endless networking opportunities. But best of all is leaving there buzzing with that feeling like anything is possible.

I have been unable to attend the last two years, but since I've finally gotten my groove back while writing my current WIP, I really wanted to go and soak up all the awesome writing mojo. And now I can!

I'm so excited and honored that my Regional Advisors thought of me and that Stephen and Lin agreed. I'm feeling pretty darn special today.

Thank you SCBWI!

What super kind thing has someone done for you lately?


Monday, June 14, 2010

Question of the Day #586

My draft has a beginning and a middle. Crazy conflict erupts. Drama oozes. Just when you think things can't get worse for my main character, they do.

Of course it's just a draft and I'll need to revise, but the story is strong.

All I need is an ending.

Wrapping up a story without wrapping it up too tightly or too happily is so hard. And it's totally making me anxious.

What challenging thing do you have to tackle this week?


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Question of the Day #585

Today, H and I will go out for lunch to watch the Australia versus Germany game with our friends B and K.

B is German. K is Australian. The rivalry should keep things lively.

But my favorite rivalry is Yankees / Red Sox. What's yours?


Saturday, June 12, 2010

Question of the Day #584

People are going kookoo for the World Cup! How do you feel about the world's most popular sport?


Friday, June 11, 2010

Question of the Day #583

It's dark and cloudy again today. Which is probably a good thing because I have a big scene to write. But it's a total bummer that Summer came and forgot to bring the sun.

Ho hum.
What's the weather like where you are? Has the Summer sun come out to play with you?


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Question of the Day #582

Today is National Iced Tea Day (in the U.S.).

What is the dumbest holiday you've heard of?


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Question of the Day #581

I've been missing out. On earthquakes.

Apparently, there was a bit of a shaker on Sunday night / Monday morning, sometime around 3:00 AM. It didn't wake me or anyone else in my house.

Then around 5:00 PM on Monday, another little earthquake hit followed by a series of tremblers. I didn't feel them either. (Who knew my WIP could be so gripping?)

When earthquakes arrive in bunches, they're called "swarms." What new term have you recently learned of?


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Question of the Day #580

Tally, the main character in my WIP, is a dancer. As I stated in yesterday's post, I am as balanced as a seesaw. So writing scenes in which she dances is hard.

I've talked with dance subject matter experts. I've struggled through Dancing With the Stars. Yesterday, I watched Flashdance. I've also recently seen Save the Last Dance, Center Stage and every other teen dance movie I can find.

How do you research whatever you're working on?


Monday, June 7, 2010

Question of the Day #579

Let's clear up the mystery around yesterday's post.

1. Over the years, I have had over 40 roommates. TRUE. I had six roommates in college and then at least another 35 at Mansfield and in my other abodes in LA. Heck, I've still got 'em now.

2. I am an avid surfer and won the Women's title of the Huntington Beach Surf City Competition in 2006. FALSE. And clearly, I wasn't fooling any of you. I'm about as balanced as a seesaw.

3. My pupils are not round. They are shaped like upside down tear drops causing people on many occasions to scream, "Oh my god! You have cat eyes!" TRUE. They look like the picture below. Although those are not my eyes. Mine are brown. I lost the cord to download pics from my camera so I found this picture online.

4. My Great, Great, Great Grandfather was President of the Dominican Republic. TRUE. Ulises Espaillat served as President of the Dominican Republic from April 29, 1876 - October 5, 1876. His goal was to establish morality in a corrupt government. He was well supported by the public, but disliked by government officials (whose salaries and perks he cut) and he eventually asked to be relieved of office. Not sure what the real story was there.

5. I used to be buddies with Ryan Seacrest. TRUE. My roommates and I were buddies with him and his roommates. At the time, Ryan was a DJ at an LA radio station. He always worked Saturday nights, and unfortunately missed all our parties. So at party time, he would call the house and say, "What's happening now?" We'd give an update and he'd play it on the radio. He'd hype it up like "Ten girls in Hollywood are having a bash. Let's in check in." People kept calling the radio station asking, "Where's the party?" He'd never tell.

6. I have driven across the United States five times. TRUE. When you're from the East Coast but live on the West Coast, the cross country drive is a rite of passage. I love to roadtrip, so I've sizzled in Santa Fe hot springs, partied in New Orleans, visited a former roommie in Atlanta, watched Gator kiss a stranger on Cape Fear, broken down in Albuquerque, taken in the view at the Grand Canyon, camped in Arkansas, soul searched in Navajo territory, waded in the Smokey River and been stunned at the border in El Paso.

From this exercise, I've learned that coming up with true extreme facts about myself is not easy. What strange fact about yourself would you like to share?


Sunday, June 6, 2010

Question of the Day #578

1. Over the years, I have had over 40 roommates.

2. I am an avid surfer and won the Women's title of the Huntington Beach Surf City Competition in 2006.

3. My pupils are not round. They are shaped like upside down tear drops causing people on many occasions to scream, "Oh my god! You have cat eyes!"

4. My Great, Great, Great Grandfather was President of the Dominican Republic.

5. I used to be buddies with Ryan Seacrest.

6. I have driven across the United States five times.

Which of the above statements about me is a lie? (There's only one.)


Saturday, June 5, 2010

Question of the Day #577

I'm in full hermit mode. Don't call me. I'm writing. Don't knock on my door 'cause I won't answer. If you don't hear from me, don't get offended. It's not you, it's me.

I'm writing. And that's my writing mode.

Do you have a one of kind mode? What's it like?


Friday, June 4, 2010

Question of the Day #576

After I queried my agent, she asked for a partial. Then a full. Then she suggested some revisions. So I revised and revised. But nothing worked. The timing and pacing were off and what should have been a very dramatic, creepy story sort of fell flat.

I had no idea how to fix it.

So I attended the Big Sur Children's Writing Workshop. (Which is an amazing workshop - especially if you're agent hunting because it's run by the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.) My first critique group leader was Nancy Lamb, author of 43 books and an amazing editor.

I read the first few pages aloud. She loved the voice and the characters.

"But how is it structured?" she asked.


"What does she want and what's preventing her from getting it?"

"Huh?" I repeated.

"You need to set up the conflict immediately. What happens in this story?" She waited as I fumbled through a meandering synopsis.

Thankfully, she waved a hand in front of me. I stopped babbling.

"Go to the scene after that big night. Write it out in present tense. Flashback to what happened before that night and then rewrite that critical scene and continue the story in present tense."

"I don't know how to do that," I said. I wasn't even sure what she'd told me to do much less how to do it.

"You're going to need this book." She handed me a copy of The Writer's Guide to Crafting Children's Stories (which BTW, she wrote).

As the other writers shared their work, my brain went wild. She wanted me to open with a prologue in the present tense. Write the "before" story in the past tense and the "after" story in the present tense. What? Write a manuscript in all those tenses and add a taboo prologue? That woman was crazy.

But desperate to get the manuscript back to the agent I hoped to partner with, I went back to my cabin, read Nancy's chapter on how to write flashbacks and wrote and wrote and wrote. By morning I had a new opening, a solid framework and a desperate need for coffee.

It was good. And my agent thought so too.

Nancy Lamb saved my manuscript. So I'm pleased to let you know that she just finished a new website and a new blog. The blog provides writing tips and posts about writing life. She aso offers editing services in case any of you also have WIPs that need saving.

So please go to, leave a comment on her blog and enjoy all that she has to share.

I consider Nancy a mentor, not only regarding writing, but life. Who are your mentors?


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Question of the Day #575

Recently, Dustin answered a QOTD so I checked out his blog and discovered that he's a 15 year old writer.

I immediately wondered what it would have been like to be able to blog when I was 15. Probably a little scary, because as a kid, I tended to offer up too much information. But, I've never journaled and blogging is the closest I've come to documenting any period of my life. And I think that if the technology had been available when I was a teenager I might have a better record of all those precious thoughts and feelings now.

So cheers to Dustin for blogging and writing at such a young age. If you have a chance check out his blog.

What technology that's available now do you wish you had access to as a kid?


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Question of the Day #574

The Critique Group verdict is in:

My pacing is off. My timing is off. And (surprisingly) my main character isn't quite slutty enough.

But my voice and dialogue are fabulous and over all, the manuscript sucks the reader in.

Voice, dialogue and sucking readers in are my strong points. I don't ever worry about that stuff. It's the mechanics that always trip me up.

What are your "given" strong points? (And we're not just talking writing here.)


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Question of the Day #573

Tonight I meet with my critique group to discuss the first half of my WIP. I'm excited to get their opinions and hopefully gain confirmation that I'm on the right track.

What kind of confirmation are you in need of?