Quote of the day

"I didn't get a hug today, jerk." - The Boy


Why they pay me the big bucks

Other editor: Is there a way on Microsoft Word to get an "e" with an accent mark over it?
Me: Usually I just write "cafe" and hit enter.
Other editor: Get out of town! That's hot!!
Me: I'm sure there's an easier way.



I wonder if Golden Delicious apples are part pear.


Welcome back to work

Yes, I know. It's hard to go back to work after a holiday. But cheer up: It's a short week, and then you get a three-day weekend again. Not bad, eh?

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. I sure did.

Thought for today

Too many cooks
spoil the book



Special holiday newsflash.

My stepmother revealed that she was walking past the house of the goat the other day (the goat in question is a goat that lives by my dad & stepmother's house) and she asked its owner what the goat's name is.

You may or may not recall that two summers ago, I told my half-sis, who's 13, that I'd give her $20 if she found out the name of the goat by the end of the summer.

I now know the goat's name.

It is...

It is...

tell ya tomorrow.

No, just kidding.

It's "Spooky."

Because it's a black goat.

OK, then.


Happy holidays

Blogging will probably be suspended over the next few days because of the holidays. And because I feel like it.

Happy holidays!!

Here's a Forbes article about the top-earning authors (I'm not in it; sorry.)


Notice the musical similarities?

Christmas carol:

Oh come all ye FAITHful
Joyful and triUMphant...

Twisted Sister:

We're not gonna TAKE it
No, we ain't gonna TAKE it...

Dee Snyder must notice. He performed the former this morning on the radio, and it definitely sounded like the latter. I never woulda known!


Blog entry

Okay, going to try to fire off a quick entry before I go to work.

I'm on some Yahoo newsgroups (listserves) about writing, and sometimes a "guest agent" will appear and answer questions from the writers who are on the loop. One time, a woman who was working on a novel for teens asked a question about the plot of her book, which involved a teen traveling through time to another decade. The agent responded that if a book is about time travel, it's usually a sign that it's done by an amateur.

I was surprised, as I'd never heard this. Luckily, I am not writing a book about time travel. But hmmm, who comes up with all these little rules in publishing?

Of course, there are exceptions - I guarantee that if this woman's book was really great, it would sell. Any great book that keeps us rivited will sell. But if her book is less than great, there are so many hurdles to get through. Having a plot that agents consider overused is just one more.

It's also said that a chick lit book about a guy is flat-out not going to sell. 80 percent of book-buyers are women. Guys don't buy. But books like "High Fidelity" will sell because even though they're written by a guy and about a guy, they could appeal to women.

The funny thing about some of these rules, though -- they vary from agent to agent. I've heard agents contradict each other on some of them. What one agent or publisher may see as a drawback, others may love.

Ultimately, a great book will sell no matter what. If it's anything less than great, it has to have a readymade market.

But you already knew that publishing was complicated, didn't you?



Sorry. I was a bad blogger today. Very busy, plus, I forgot.

Superagent is willing to look at my book project early next year, so right now I have to finish getting it into shape.

Priority is, of course, the Boy. Don't worry, schnookums.


Playing on the rug

It's rare these days that I wake up on a Saturday or Sunday morning with nothing to do. But occasionally I do. And when I do, I flash back to the days in elementary school when a Saturday or Sunday with nothing to do meant I would roll onto my rug and spend the day happily creating.

One day I remember especially was when I was maybe 10 or 11. The sky was sheer white, frozen, and flurries fell outside my window the entire day. There was a corner of my room left open, between my dresser and the wall, and I pulled a box up to it and sat behind it, in the corner. The box became my "desk" and the corner was my office. I spent the day drawing magazines, watching the flurries outside the window that was to my left.

My younger brother sat in his room next to mine and did the same thing. All day, we went to each other's offices and traded magazines. I drew some that I knew he'd go for -- "Pac Mag," about Pac-Man, and the "Tush Times," which included tushey world records and comic strips about a family of buttocks.

I had a tape dispenser on my desk and a little cup of pens, and I was completely happy.

Sometimes I miss such unfettered creativity, knowing I didn't have to worry about being published, that I could just draw whatever I wanted.


To-Do List

More Stuff
More Stuff
More Stuff
More Stuff

I will write something more thoughtful soon.



Tomorrow night is Hannukah. The festival of lights.

I have nothing much to write today, so go wash your tights.



I'm behind on e-mails and pretty busy this week, so I apologize if you sent me something and I didn't respond yet. If it's really important and I somehow overlooked it, please feel free to e-mail me again. Otherwise, I'll catch up, I promise! I'm whittling down my in box.

Here's the aforementioned roast pig (he's the one in sunglasses).

It kind of tasted like turkey (maybe it was the seasoning.)



Roast. Suckling. Pig.



I. Eating

I'm trying to get back on a bout of healthy eating after being tempted by so many delicious holiday treats, but that won't stop me from trying the ROAST SUCKLING PIG at my office holiday party this year. I've never had a RSP (Roast Suckling Pig) and I am very excited about it.

II. Titles

During my monthly visit to my writing group last week, some people said they liked the title of my writing project-in-progress, and some really didn't. It reminded me of when I started writing a kids' book in college called The Run of the Hills. The main character, Justin, was 10 and lived in Vermont and was pleased to run through the mountains. When I passed out part of the book in class, one person wrote next to the title, "Cliche." The title is NOT a cliche, though! Run of the MILL is, not run of the hills. The phrase itself only appears 50 times on the internet, in different contexts (and for the internet, 50 times on any phrase is pretty low.)

Just goes to show, you have to pay attention to criticism but still filter it through your net of experience and instincts.

III. This Is Not Chick Lit

Finally got ahold of the book This Is NOT Chick Lit. I'm really enjoying the stories so far. I'm not offended by the title or the intro or really much else about it; the intro even says good things about chick lit. I'll write more after I get further into it.

I'm glad that it got published. I doubt that chick lit was obscuring womens' literary fiction, but I think we can all stand to have both types of fiction on the shelves.



I just got back from my monthly writers' group meeting, where I had my first and last glass of eggnog for the year. I love eggnog, but it has to be saved for special occasions. This was "light" eggnog, but probably still not very light. I have also enjoyed soy nog.

I have met many people who do not like eggnog. Sorry, you are missing out!

Oh, by the way, no, there wasn't alcohol in it. I like it by itself.


More author snark

Gawker has a periodic feature that makes fun of publishing. Two days ago, they listed some types of authors. They included this paragraph:

Type 1: Her favorite author is Bridget Jones. Oh! She totally means Helen Fielding. (Giggle)
Type 2: Please don't assume I'm like all the other chick lit writers. I'm just doing this for the money. I went to an Ivy League school, you know. I'm smarter than this.

Heh heh.

I wonder if I ever gave anyone that impression...I really am truly grateful to be part of the trend. Very grateful. I've said in the past that my book is different from other books out there, but it's an important part of marketing to show why your book is different and fresh. Hopefully every book I write is different from other people's books.

Still pretty funny.

In other news, I came across this fiesty paragraph in the Nov. 27 entry of Jennifer Weiner's blog and had to share...

"...the Observer points out that Flanagan’s much-ballyhooed TO HELL WITH ALL THAT sold a grand total of 8.700 copies. 8,700 copies would be a disappointing performance for a literary novel that was acquired for ten thousand dollars, written by a clubfooted, mute troll, and received zero review attention or publicity. For a book that was undoubtedly acquired for much more money, that was reviewed in the New York Times and the L.A. Times and the Wall Street Journal, and practically every other newspaper of note, whose media-savvy, witty, telegenic author was profiled in Elle and appeared everywhere from “The Today Show” to “The Colbert Report,” it’s flat-out shocking."

In other news...

I saw "Annie" last night at MSG and it was great, especially the scenery.

It's cold out. Please wear your hat and gloves today.


From bad to worse

I was curious if people have started coming up with Taco Bell jokes, so I went on a Google search.

After these were the first two items that came up, I wished I hadn't.

The following is not suitable for those under 18 or over 65 (or, come to think of it in between.)

Update: PHOTO TWO HAS BEEN DELETED because it is degrading to Chihuahuas.

There are more important things to talk about - like "Annie!"


Writing update

I'm still waiting to hear back from editors on both of my book projects - one for teens, one for adults. I finished both of them in August, my agent sent them out in September, and I'm still waiting to hear from the majority of editors on them. Yes, it DOES take this long!

Part of the reason is this: It takes a long time to read piles of manuscripts, and certainly a long time for publishers to decide whether to invest $10K and a year or more to publish someone. We writers always do have to anticipate months of waiting.

Of course, some books have sold in a matter of days. It's the exception rather than the rule, but it happens.

I want to give my agent the many-years-in-progress book soon, but I really should wait until I finish hearing about these other things.

Here is a nice summary on Saturday's chick lit panel, appearing on Galleycat.com. Thanks to Ron Hogan for writing about us.

Also thanks to my friends who turned out, especially the Boy for being so supportive, and even a few of the cupcake panel people for staying late.


Classic edition

Woke up,
Put on clothes,

I know, I know. "Too much information." Right?


The hills are alive

For all of those wondering, the Sound of Music will air this year on ABC on Dec. 23. They're not allowed to cut it the way they used to, because now it's in some sort of historic film registry. So you get the full four hours, and all of screenwriter Ernest Lehman's funny asides.

On MAD TV last week, they aired a parody of "extras" from the 40th anniv DVD, with alternate endings. Warning: May not be suitable to watch at work.


In other holiday-special news, Rudolph is on this Friday at 8 p.m. I always want the Misfit Toys to be rescued, and they do. Hooray!

Thanks to all who attended my panel on Saturday. It was great fun.


Good morning! Here's your itinerary

Okay, maybe not, but here's the address for today's panel. If you come, please try to be positive so we can keep our hungry authors selling their books!

December 2 & 3, Independent and Small Press Book Fair hosts over 100 top-notch presses & leading authors from Nation Books, PEN American & New York's literary & political scene, including: Relentless Aaron, Dore Ashton, Amiri Baraka, Jennifer Baumgardner, Colin Channer, T. Cooper, Michael Cunningham, Luis Francia, Steve Freeman, Matthea Harvey, C*ren Lis*ner, Joe Meno, Jonas Mekas, Mark Crispin Miller, Eileen Myles, Sara Nelson, Greg Palast, Rachel Pine, Peter Plate, Katha Pollitt, Eyal Press, Paul Robeson, Jr., Martha Southgate, David Levi Strauss, Anne Waldman and much more.

(*yes, I added asterisks to make it harder to Google this blog. But I am on the list...)

Free Admission ($1 suggested donation). The address is 20 West 44th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenues, Manhattan. Tel: 212/764-7021.

Hours: 10am to 6pm on Saturday and 11am to 5pm on Sunday. For a complete list of panels and events please click here.

Events at the Book FairSaturday, December 2
11:00 am to 12:45 pm - Readings from selected small press authors
11: 00 am to 12:00 pm - Here’s lookin’ at you, cupcake
12:00 pm to 1:00 pm - Chick Lit: More than just Bridget and Blahniks
1:00 pm to 2:00 - Partner with your publisher: How not to feel @#%*!ed whenyour book comes out...


Jumping through hOOps

When I applied to graduate schools (a long time ago, and no, I didn't go), I was incensed by the fact that each school expected me to get three recommendations from former professors. I'd been out of college for seven years, and I didn't think my freshman year English seminar professor would remember me, nor would my junior year political science prof who'd had 400 people in class.

It's okay to get recommendations while you're still an undergrad if you're planning to apply to grad school right after graduation, but if you've been out of school for a while and gathering real-world experience, it's a terrible burden to put on both applicants and professors. Especially if you're applying to a lot of schools.

And now, I'm finding something else irksome - having to write the recommendations. Three people have asked me to write them recommendation letters for grad school in writing or journalism. I am *HAPPY* to do it, as they are all good people. But some of these schools required me to attach their own form to the recommendation letter. So I have had to continually check off things like whether the applicant is, as compared with others I've known:

Academically _in the top 1 percent, _in the top 5 percent, _ in the top 20 percent
Good-smelling _in the top 1 percent, _top 5 percent, _top 20 percent
Sexiness _in the top 1 percent, _top 5 percent, _top 47.8 percent

etc. If these people were applying to one school only, it wouldn't be so hard. But some are applying to 10+ schools. Which I guess these schools would like to discourage, but hey, you have to give people options, right? Especially when they need to compare financial aid offers, etc.

The other hard thing is writing recommendations for each person and having to dig up exactly when the person was hired, and other specifics. So I left those parts blank and e-mailed the letters to the applicants I'm writing letters for, so they could fill in the details. Then they e-mailed my letters back to me. You may say, "Well, then you're giving the applicants an unfair advantage because they see what you're writing," but I'm sure there are other applicants getting far bigger boosts out there. And they are competing with my applicants.

Anyway, maybe I'm just whining, but I wish grad schools would keep it simple when asking for letters of recommendation. Otherwise it's an unfair burden on the applicant, as well as the professional person he or she asks to recommend him or her.

I never realized how hard it was to bug my professors and bosses to take time to sit down and write me a rec - and I felt bad doing it as it was.