Saturday, July 31, 2010

Question of the Day #632

Every SCBWI international conference begins with a faculty introduction in which the esteemed presenters are to come up with their "word" for the weekend.

Ellen Hopkins, best selling author of raw YA novels in verse, spelled out "B A N N E D."

Tracy Adams of Adams Literary added "hope."

Action and adventure children's book author Chris Eboch said, "Cliffhanger."

Ken Wright, agent at Writers House was "thrilled."

Erica Silverman, author and librarian said ""

Kathleen Duey has published over 70 books for all ages. She suggested we "stretch."

"Cocktails!" said author and Publisher of Grosset & Dunlap and Price Stern Sloan, Francesco Sedita.

Clearly, everyone has their own vision for the weekend.

My word for the weekend is "absorb." What's yours?


Friday, July 30, 2010

Question of the Day #631

Last night, I re-read my manuscript. I hadn't looked at in three weeks so I was able to read it the way I'd read a book for fun. I didn't pick at it (too much) and decided that overall, it's a good book. Is it perfect? Of course not. Everything can always be improved. But I'm leaving for the SCBWI conference this morning feeling confident in my work and that's what is important.

What are you feeling confident about?


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Question of the Day #630

Today's question is also brought to you by Kristen. She writes, "What's your next trip or vacation? (Weekends count.)"

Mine is a "staycation." Or is it work? Or is it both? Who cares? I'm super psyched because this weekend is the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) Summer Conference and I'm going! I'll meet up with my writer buddies, face to face with some I only know through the blogosphere, find out what's cookin' in the industry and suck up all the writing mojo I can.

I'm psyched. So what about you? What's your next stay/vacation?


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Question of the Day #629

After yesterday's sad, zero of a question, Kristen, one of my fave QOTD commenters, emailed me with question ideas. Love it! No brain racking for me this morning! Here's some of her genius:

What are 10 inventions you'd like to thank God (or the Universe or whoever it is that you give thanks to) for?

A few of her examples, which I completely agree with, are high heels, Chapstick and wine. I'd like to add computers (can you imagine writing a manuscript longhand?), books, airplanes, cars, BBQs/grills, metal handled calphalon pans and sunblock to the list.

What about you? What inventions are you crazy thankful for?


BTW - If you have question ideas, feel free to insert them in the comments or email me. I can always use a little help from my friends.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Question of the Day #628

I've been pondering a question for the last two hours. In search of a trigger, I went to Facebook, read some news, checked out a couple blogs and, really, I've got nothing. Zero. Zilch.

When I'm not feeling inspired, I usually go for a walk, but believe it or not, it's still cloudy and chilly and frankly, that doesn't exactly lure me into my sneakers.

So I'm stumped at keyboard. What do you do when you come up empty?


Monday, July 26, 2010

Question of the Day #627

While traveling last week, I searched the bookstore for a YA novel. An author I didn't recognize had four titles on the shelf, which at an airport bookstore, is a lot. So I picked one up, read great reviews on the back, one comparing this author (who shall remain nameless) to my favorite YA author and after reading the opening pages which grabbed me, I bought it.

Now that I'm halfway through, I'm amazed that this book was published.

The dialogue feels forced. The author "tells" the entire story. Very few scenes feel active. The chapters don't end with hooks. I'm not sure what the plot is. The MC pops up with all sorts of stuff out of the blue - like we discover a serious hobby which is probably supposed to have metaphorical value 80 pages in. And it's very difficult to believe that the MC would make the choices or really feel the way she does.

As a writer, I'm completely puzzled. If I took this novel to my critique group they'd pound me with revisions. How did a book that feels to me like an early draft get published when my writer friends and I have written manuscripts that dazzle way beyond this?

I just don't get it. What "art" have you seen that you just don't "get"?


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Question of the Day #626

If you could have any car on the planet, what would it be?


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Question of the Day #625

The other day, Lisa D's little one sang, "I kicked a girl and I liked it. To take her cherry chapstick."

(If you're not familiar with the song, the actual lyrics are "I kissed a girl and I liked it. The taste of her cherry chapstick.")

That made me giggle and think of my friend K.D. who, in sixth grade, went through a phase of mangling song lyrics.

She thought Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" was "Wake me up in Nova Scotia." When Lionel Richie's 80's classic "Oh, What a Feeling" came on the radio, she sang, "Oh, what a feeling when you're dancing in New Zealand."

Then there was "Hold me closer Tony Danza." And remember The Go Go's "Our Lips Are Sealed"? She thought that was a song about a girl named "Honest Cecile."

I could go on forever. But I won't.

What song lyrics have you or someone you know gotten totally wrong?


Friday, July 23, 2010

Question of the Day #624

How about another "would you rather" question?

If you were offered a free vacation and you had to leave tomorrow (and getting off work and other logistics were not a problem) would you opt to:

A. Take a two week guided tour of eight European cities.


B. Lie on a quiet beach somewhere in the tropics for 10 days.

A or B?


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Question of the Day #623

If you were given the option to do one of the following things this weekend, for free, which would you choose?

A. Attend a rockin' concert, first row, starring your favorite band, complete with a band meet and greet afterward. Then on the following evening, party like a rockstar with your new rockstar buddies.


B. Be a special guest at an exclusive spa resort and enjoy massages and other relaxing spa treatments while delighting in amazing gourmet food and plenty of pool time.

A or B?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Question of the Day #622

Last night, H and I went to the pub to meet up with a couple old friends who are visiting LA. Two girls joined us.

"Hi, I'm Alice," one said. I immediately thought "Go Ask Alice."

"And I'm Gabby," the other said. As we shook hands, I mentally renamed her Gabby Smith, a girl I went to high school with.

As we conversed, I never had to do that awful, "I'm sorry, I forgot your name. What was it again?" Instead, I thought "Go Ask Alice" and "Gabby Smith" every time I needed to refer to them by name.

Making memory links to retain first names is a little trick I use. What little tricks do you use in social situations?


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Question of the Day #621

My friend, Ara, entered a first line contest in which she submitted the totally awesome first line of her WIP. After sifting through many rounds of eliminations and asking entrants to add a line or two here and there, the agent picked 10 final entries. All of the openers are grabbers.

As I read them, I thought about how it cool it was that she entered the contest. I've never entered a writing contest (unless you consider applying for a grant a contest).

But recently I began entering other contests, like online sweepstakes. I also repeatedly fill out supermarket surveys for a chance to win a $100 gift card. And if I read about a contest on the Daily Candy, I'll take a shot at that too.

I figure if I don't enter, I can't win, right?

How about you? Do you enter contests? If so, what type?

P.S. - Good luck to Ara!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Question of the Day #620

While visiting my friends K & M the other night, their little girl, O, hung onto her mommy's legs and looked up at me with big brown eyes.

"Can you say hello to Sue?" K asked.

O hid behind K's leg.

"Oh c'mon," K said.

"Hi O," I cooed.

"Hi Zoo," O replied.

Zoo. Is that the cutest nickname ever?

What adorable nickname has a kid given you?


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Question of the Day #619

Newark Airport doesn't have free wifi. Snail-slow internet access costs $9.95.

What annoys you about air travel?


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Question of the Day #618

While shopping for an air conditioner with my parents today (I know, Jersey is very exciting, right?) we drove by an appliance store called UNEEDA.

Like UNEEDA dishwasher? UNEEDA a refrigerator? UNEEDA a microwave?

For the last hour I've been glancing sideways at my mom and my stepfather saying, "UNEEDA glass of water? UNEEDA sandwich?"

The giggles continue over that snappy store name. So the question is, what store's name entertains you?


Friday, July 16, 2010

Question of the Day #617

Um, so remember how I was complaining about how chilly and cloudy it's been in LA? Yeah. Well, so I'm visiting family in NJ, and while gardening today to prepare for my niece's first birthday party tomorrow, I found myself covered in sweat and bugs.

90 degrees and humid is far worse than 65 and cloudy.

When have you noticed that the grass is greener on your side of the fence?


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Question of the Day #616

Yesterday I went to visit C & C, who I've been friends with for more than 25 years. Their kids played in the basement as we ate lunch, read Tarot cards and caught up. We giggled, we cried, we remembered and planned.

One C commented that two years was too long to go without talking. We promised to get on the phone every couple months, update each other by email and even planned another get together in the fall.

It was a great day.

Who would you like to maintain better contact with?


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Question of the Day #615

My friends, K & M, have been kind enough to lend me their car while I'm visiting family. I got into their mini cooper last night, wondering how it would feel to drive a manual stick shift again. I slid it into first, rolled out of the driveway and then hit the road. Curvy, woodsy roads have never been so fun to drive!

After driving a manual car for the last four years, driving a stick shift was just like riding a bike. Two seconds and I was back in the saddle.

What activity have you found totally easy to do even after a long break from it?


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Question of the Day #614

My friend from high school, J, was one of our class officers, so she's working hard at organizing our 20th reunion. She and her team are contacting classmates through Facebook, gathering old pictures and artifacts and working on pulling it all together.

I'm excited to attend and reconnect with old friends.

How do you feel about high school reunions? Will you go? Have you gone?


Monday, July 12, 2010

Question of the Day #613

Big city. Big Lights. New York, after all these years still stuns me. The subway/pretzel/hot dog smell. Honking horns. Bustling crowds and dazzling lights.

What city dazzles you?


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Question of the Day #612

My senior year in high school, I became friends with H, a foreign exchange student from Sweden. We sang in choir together, attended lots of parties and took many endless drives around our tiny town blasting Madonna. We even Vogued.

Today, I'm going to see her again. After 20 years. Thanks to Facebook.

My friends J and T got reacquainted through Facebook and after many cross country excursions and one big move, they're getting married on Labor Day.

Crazy, huh?

What stories can you share about people who've reconnected on Facebook?


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Question of the Day #611

Last night, I went to the pub for a burger and some well deserved beer. Little J, H and I sat with Little J's mom, D. D got up to leave as a hunky guy in a blue flannel shirt that made his eyes pop sat down across the bar from us.

"Oh my," D said.

"What?" I asked.

"Maybe I won't go." She glanced over at handsome stranger dude.

"Oh?" I checked him out. "I think you should stay. And sit here." I got up and moved down a stool so she could sit right across from him.

Little J tugged at her mother's sweater.

"Mom, it's so hot in here. Take this off."

H and I giggled. D blushed, now in just her tank top.

"I feel like a 12 year old. This is ridiculous. I should leave," she said.

"I think you should go over there, give him your number and tell him that you're only in town a couple days but that you'd love to get together for a drink," I said.

"Are you crazy? I can't do that!"

"C'mon. Let's get Little J a new Daddy!" H said.

Little J, H and I cracked up.

Blue eyed guy across the way kept glancing in our direction. I'm not sure if he was interested in D or trying to figure out why the four of us oggled him.

"All right, then just sit here and look hot," Little J said.

"Maybe we should leave you alone," H suggested.

"I think you should go talk to him," I said.

"Yeah Mom, go get him!" Little J said.

D shriveled in embarrassment.

He finished his beer and left. Probably freaked out by the crazy girls across the way.

"That was hilarious," H said.

"Oh, that made my night," I said.

"I can't believe we did that to your mom," H said. "I could never bring my mom to a bar and encourage her to hit on men."

I pulled my notebook from my purse and scribbled.

What's your relationship with your mom like?


Friday, July 9, 2010

Question of the Day #610

I'm at the point where I'm not sure if I'm making my WIP better or worse. I've made so many changes that it almost feels like a totally different story. Made worse by the fact that last night, just before backing away from the computer, kink-necked and blurry eyed, I got an email from a beta reader saying how awesome my book is.

She meant the first version.

How do you know when you're going to far?


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Question of the Day #609

Yesterday I re-arranged scenes, deleted scenes, rewrote scenes, added scenes, cut dialogue and added dialogue. I took breaks to use the bathroom, eat soup, and go for a walk.

Somewhere before 7:00 PM, with my back hunched, my eyes crossed and my butt numb, I walked away from the computer.

Then I went to the supermarket and bought ice cream. Haagen-Dazs White Chocolate Raspberry Truffle. I ate 2/3 of the pint while watching Glee reruns and fell asleep.

A heavenly reward if you ask me.

What's your version of a heavenly reward for a hard day's work?


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Question of the Day #608

Yesterday I filled out a questionnaire about my main character, just to make sure I know her. (Thankfully, I do.) The idea was to answer questions from her POV. So for fun, why don't we answer a couple from our points of view?

1. What adjectives best sum you up? Hmm. (Hard to write about myself.) Strong. Direct. Driven. Kind (generally). Anxious. Reactive.

2. What trivial but annoying habit do you have? Cracking my knuckles.

3. If I met you for the first time, would I immediately know what you're like or would it take a while to get to know you? You would know. I'm a what you see is what you get type person.

How well do you know yourself? How would you answer the questions above?


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Question of the Day #607

  • Diet Coke √
  • Full belly √
  • Warm jammies √
  • Pages of notes from genius critique group and beta readers √
  • Line edits from genius critique group and beta readers √
  • The next 120 hours √
  • Courage √
  • Butt in chair √

Okay, looks like I've got all need to revise. The goal is to complete my revision and send it off to my agent before I leave to visit family this weekend.

The last item is always the toughest, since the anxiety sometimes prevents me from getting my butt in the chair. But my jammie covered, caffeinated, fully bellied, note inspired butt is in the chair.

It's ON.

What challenge are you facing off with?


Monday, July 5, 2010

Question of the Day #606

Yesterday, I attended a party on a roofdeck. The view of the Pacific was amazing. "The World Cup of Bags" (a game in which you toss a bag of beans through a hole in a wooden platform) was intense.

It was like a frat party. Flip Cup ruled another corner of the roofdeck. Girls danced in bikinis. And I swear I saw someone doing a beer bong.

Then my friend M said, "Do you ever feel like you're a little too old to be somewhere?"

"Like at this party?" I responded.

"Yep," she said.

She's 30. So if she felt old, I felt ancient. When was the last time you went somewhere that made you feel old?


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Question of the Day #605

Last year, on Independence Day, I attended a Cuatro de Julio fiesta. On my friends' Hollywood Hills roofdeck, we lit crazy long sparklers and took pictures of our initials on fire. From our perch, we watched fireworks all over the city. It was a great night.

Today I'm going to a party at a friend of a friend's house. From another roofdeck we'll check out fireworks, this time over the ocean.

I'm feeling very lucky to know people in high places.

How will you celebrate today?


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Question of the Day #604

If you could ask God (or whatever higher power you may believe in) a question, what would you want to know?


Friday, July 2, 2010

Question of the Day #603

Yesterday, I drove 40 miles east, with the top down, towards the desert until my car's thermometer read 91 degrees. I pulled into a Starbucks, made a few phone calls and broiled in the heat.

It was awesome.

As you know, I've been craving sunshine and heat and yesterday I went to extremes to get it.

What have you gone to extremes to get?


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Question of the Day #602

Author Carrie Harris, also agented by kt literary, has a cover. Check out her blog to see the awesome artwork. I would totally buy her book based on the cover and the title, Bad Taste in Boys. I mean, who hasn't, at some point, had bad taste in boys? But even better, once you open the book, her writing is totally suck-you-in fantastic.

I'm so excited for her. And also a tad bit envious. I mean, how cool would it be to see my book materializing? For it to have a cover? For me to know that soon it will be on bookshelves?

Very cool.

What dream are you eager to see materialize?