Saturday, November 25, 2006

The downside of being friends with an editor

I'm not sure how much editors get paid, but maybe it's not the pay that they're interested in anyway. I think people become editors because they secretly wanted to be movie stars.

When my editor at Penguin, Tim Travaglini, came out to the SCBWI event in Arizona I told him, offhandedly, that we'd sit together for lunch. Big mistake. After his talk he was surrounded by people who wanted to meet him. One would leave, we would take a step towards the food table, and someone else would come up and gush about how much they enjoyed his presentation--and would he be interested in a story about insecure porcupines? And would it help their submission chances if they taped dollar bills onto page two? And did he know how extremely handsome he was? A Brad Pitt double, in fact.

No wonder the man thinks he's always right. He could have said his shoes were made of cheese and had three people volunteer to eat them.

Anyway, twenty minutes later when we'd moved approximately two feet, I realized what a bad idea it is to eat with an editor. I nearly starved to death. Next conference, I'm pretending I don't know who he is.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Attack of the Wall Street Journal

Those of you who aren't avid Wall Street Journal readers may have missed the article they ran on July 7th called, Literary Losers.

Now normally you'd have to read a book before you can review it effectively, but those folks at the WSJ are so erudite they managed to review an entire list of recommended summer reading novels while only reading the one sentence description blurbs. Not surprisingly, they found the whole list lacking. It was formula fiction. It was no better than the back of cereal boxes, and All's Fair in Love, War, and High School was obviously trash because it was about a cheerleader.

Everyone knows cheerleaders aren't actual people.

Children, the article urged, should only read the classics.

Thus proving that no one at the Wall Street Journal has children. Hello, there is a reason why you never see kids fighting over Ivanhoe. And just because something was written 75 years ago doesn't make it better than the stuff that's rolling off the presses now. Today's authors have a lot of advantages that help make our writing better. We've got computers, we've got tons of books on writing, and we've got editors that cut all the three paragraph descriptions of purple tinted mountains.

Admittedly there are some great classics. My favorite book is Pride and Prejudice. I also love Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh, great children's classics. But I know that if you gave children nothing but classics to read, you would not have a generation of literate and well refined kids. You would have a generation of kids that hated reading.

Let kids read what they want. After they discover a love of books in all their varieties, they'll love the classics too. But they'll still love the newer stuff and that's fine. Today's cereal-box fiction is tomorrow's classic.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Blond Characters

Someone just commented on the fact that my books have a lot of blond main characters. I guess this is true. Samantha in All's Fair in Love, War, and High School, Cami in Life, Love, and the Pursuit of Free Throws, Jessica in Fame, Glory, and Other Things on My To Do List, and although it's not done being written yet--Chelsea in Revenge of the Cheerleaders--all have blond hair.

It's not that I have anything for or against blonds. True, I married one and now (despite what my biology teacher told me about dominant genes) four out of my five children are blond.

When I'm out with them I sort of feel like Midge, Barbie and Ken's token brunette friend.

But my family doesn't have anything to do with why I write blond characters. It's a habit I first picked up when I started writing. I was afraid my old high school friends would read my books, shake their heads at my main character and say, "It's really Janette. And we still remember all of those stupid things she said and did."

See this way I've disguised all my main characters as blonds so people won't recognize me. Now when they read my stories (assuming any of them ever have or will read my stories) They'll all think, "That sure is an amusing character. It can't possibly be Janette though, because Janette's a brunette."

Writing blond characters is like being incognito.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Revision Heck

Okay, I know the title sounds silly, but I don't swear. Doing revisions tempt me, however. A lot.

I would like to take this opportunity to represent oppressed authors everywhere and just scream at the top of my lungs. Cover your ears because I'm going to do it in all capital letters.


Is my editor insane? Does he hear voices instructing him to make all of these little comments? Or is he just trying to drive me crazy? Maybe insanity is like misery and it loves company.

Well, somebody had better get out the extra place settings because I'll be arriving shortly.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The joy of revisions

My editor just sent me the third set of revisions for upcoming (June 2007) How to Take the Ex Out of Ex-Boyfriend. I got the package yesterday and coincidentally decided to give up writing and raise ponies instead. It would be easier. Funner. And don't tell me that funner isn't a real word. I'll use it if I want to . . . oh sorry, for a moment there I was having a flashback.

Anyway, one day and approximately half a pound of chocolate later, I am tackling the project. Okay, I'm actually checking email and writing this blog, but I'm going to go back and work on it just as soon as I finish my 100 Grand bar. It is the closest I'll ever come to the big money while writing.

I bet you'd I'd make more money raising ponies . . . they can't be harder than kids and they're probably cleaner too . . .

Friday, November 17, 2006

New York City--Pro's and Con's

Hello Blogworld!

I'm back from my trip to New York. I went to drop off my 18 year old daughter to an internship at Putnam. (You can see her blog here) Now she's off all by herself--well I mean she's not technically by herself, since there are approximately a gazillion other people living in New York, many of whom sing karaoke songs in the subway terminals and ask you for money. Some of those singers, by the way, are darn good which I think should be worrisome for all those people who go to New York to make it in Broadway musicals. Listen up guys, you're just one bad audition away from singing in the subway.

But I digress, here are my thoughts on New York City.

The cool parts:

1) Madame Tussauds wax museum where my daughter took multiple pictures of me snuggling up to George Clooney until she finally said, Mom, would you let go of George. You're obsessing over him.

Yeah, so?

2) Meeting my editors and all of the cool publishing people. After getting hopelessly lost on the subway system, I took a quick tour of Putnam and met a legion of marketing people. I suggested that they rough up any bookstore owners who wouldn't stock large quantities of my novel.

The next day I went out to breakfast with Walker people and got a tour of that office. One of the editors had brought her dog with her to work. How nice is that? If I ever get a real job I want one where I can bring my dog with me.

3) Riding the subway is oddly like being on an amusement park ride. I always had to stifle the urge to raise my hands and yell, "Wahoo!" (My daughter had already informed me to stop acting like a tourist.)

Bad things:

1) Mile after mile of skyscrapers. It reminded me of being in one of those corn mazes, but without the refreshing smell of corn, and with a whole bunch of aggressive, angry drivers.

2) Crossing the streets. For some unknown reason no one in New York pays any attention to traffic signals. Crossing the street is like having a death wish, really.

3) New York seems to have an overabundance of strange people living there. I met several of them, like the guy who wore a napkin on his head in our first restaurant, the woman who for no apparent reason yelled, "What's wrong with you people?" while we walked past her, and the guy in the airport who cornered me and tried to convince me that George Bush had personally taken explosives to the twin towers and blown them up. I wanted to tell him that, No it couldn't have been George Bush because I know for a fact that it was aliens. But I thought he might believe me.

All in all a fun trip, and suddenly that scene from Disney's Hercules makes perfect sense