Friday, December 27, 2013

The end... of 2013

As we draw to the close of another fabulous year of procrastination and productivity. I tried to finish my book during NaNoWriMo and I made great progress, but find that I just can't work on a project without rewriting along the way. My inner editor got the best of me and so I didn't finish; but I still like the concept and decided to try to treat every month like it's NaNoWriMo, and write "a book in a month," because as a writer, it seems like a healthy lifestyle. I can say that more of my young adult novel is completed than not and who knows, I might finish a rough draft of it in January. I'm certainly going to aim for that. But the bottom line is... I'm enjoying what I'm writing, I think it's good and I'm telling a story that I would want to read and hopefully many others will like it too.

 I want to wish you all a happy New Year and remind you that there's only a few days left to finish that book, screenplay, graphic novel, novella, short story, comic strip, poem that you intended on writing this year. So get going, post haste.

Personally, in addition to the YA novel, there are a few writing competitions I will be working on entries for. I don't want to say which because I'll jinx it and yes, I believe in such things... some people have a year of magical thinking, I make that work for me on a daily basis. I'm also planning on sending two recently finished picture books out there into the wild blue yonder, as soon as the editors all get back into their offices from their lavish vacations. Hopefully, everyone will come back sated and happy and ready to publish.

I also will make much more of an effort to post more often, sharing more of the fun things that keep me from writing like this little ditty called "18 Weird Things Writer's Do" (it's remarkably accurate).

Happy New Year Everyone... now get back to work!


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Moleskine... The Book of Champions

A talented writer friend recently posted on her Facebook page about the challenges of pronouncing Moleskine, the fancy schmancy pocket notebook for professional writers. She went on to say she thought it was pronounced mole skin and dabbled with the theory that it could have been made from moles (something I myself had wondered, so it's not that ridiculous a thought). I too used to call it Mole skin... in fact, I probably will continue to call it that thanks to a rebellious gene that I share with my father, who for years insisted on mispronouncing famous actor's names. My father would kvell about his favorite show "Steinfeld" all the time (sometimes he called it "The Steinfeld," if he was feeling proper). When I'd correct him, he told me he didn't care, he liked "Steinfeld" and so it was. Thus, mole skin sounds cool to me.

So cool that I drool over the Moleskine display at Staples whenever I pass, thinking I really should break down and get one. I'm a professional writer, after all... I need one. I deliberate over sizes, small enough to fit in my purse, or big enough to write a whole book while waiting in LA traffic? Tiffany blue for that Audrey Hepburn/Truman Capote feel, or basic black for simple, gritty, Cormac McCarthy-like prose? Sometimes I've even gone so far as to put one of the precious Moleskines into my shopping cart, only to replace it back on the shelf when I realize that part of being a professional writer is acknowledging that $12 or $16 bucks is way too much to be spending on an itty bitty blank notebook, when a .99 cent notepad will work just the same. Truth be told, I can barely read my own handwriting; thus if I were to pen my next novel by hand a la Hemingway, I probably would never be able to read what I wrote, so it's a pointless item for me anyway.

However, it is a writer's staple. A tool of the trade. The status of which says "You have a Moleskine notebook, therefore, you are a real writer."

Much like the way real writers own Mont Blanc pens. I was once given an authentic Mont Blanc pen many years ago. I treasured the pen because it was the most expensive writing instrument I had ever owned and a luxury I would never have spent on myself, especially since it wasn't something I could wear to a cocktail party or jazzy soiree. Still, it was cool.  This is a pen of a successful author. A pen to sign one's name at book signings with. I loved that pen. No one was allowed to use that pen and truth be told, I never used it either. It didn't write as good as my two dollar, disposable Uniball Visions (which I love... I can almost read my writing with a Uniball fine vision pen... almost). And so, the Mont Blanc, or Monty as I sometimes called it in private, was my pen to save for special occasions. My famous author pen for when I made it big. Monty was on standby, that was until the day my beloved toy poodle somehow got her grubby paws on him and took a big bite out of his plastic exterior. I don't know to this day how the dog got Monty, or what happened to that piece of him that may very well have found its way to my little dog's intestines (such are the tough stuff NYC toy poodles are made of). I held on to the remnants of Monty, the glossy black plastic shrapnell holding a smooth flowing, non-clog ink barrel. It would have worked just fine I'm sure. But my symbol of victory was marred. Flawed. I stuck it in a drawer and have never seen it since. It probably got tossed in the garbage for all I know, which is just as well.

I pass the Mont Blanc display and every now and then think of replacing it. But I don't. Buying it for myself now feels much like buying myself a dozen roses. It's cheating. Besides, I don't need a special pen to say I'm gonna make it. Or a Moleskine book, no matter how you pronounce it.

I use my laptop to take notes, or I write on scraps of anything I find in my bag at the time if I'm on the go... the yellowed backs of receipt stubs, envelope scraps... sometimes the notes make their way into my stories. Other times they get swept up into the great compost of thought. And when you see me at a book signing, I'll be using my $2 Uniball Vision. You might even be able to read the signature.


PS  Here's a cool video on how others pronounce Moleskine. I still don't really know how to say it.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Busy Making Other Plans

You know the John Lennon lyric "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans" (from the song Beautiful Boy, if you ever wondered)? Well, I've actually been doing both writing and planning on writing (and procrastinating, of course).

If you Google my name, you'll find I've been busy writing thousands... and I mean thousands... of articles on everything under the sun from "How to Teach Your Toddler to Brush his Teeth" to "The Advantages of Taekwondo" to "Preventing Foot Pain in Ice Skating." It seems like you name something and I've written an article on it; even things like "How to Buy Baby Calves Online" (which I do kind of feel guilty about, I mean, I didn't stop to think of what people would do with the poor baby calves, once they followed the steps to buy 'em. Before you judge me, stop and think -- maybe they're buying calves for humanitarian reasons... like to give as gifts to rich kids who need a petting zoo. Maybe the lives of those baby calves will be even happier, more joyful and more fulfilling than mine, once they're purchased. You never know).

My personal favorite of these was written a few years ago, when I first started this non-fiction pay for play type of prose... "How to Kill Mosquitoes in a Car." I kid you not. Someone assigned me this to write based on the fact that supposedly numerous people were Googling this burning query. Every now and then, I wonder what sort of person Googles the steps to mosquito persecution when sequestered in an automobile. I have, on occasion had to follow my own steps to get rid of a bug, usually a bee and the stop the car and run out screaming until it flies away method seems to work best for me. Still I keep picturing that lone wolf hunting down the perfect method to mosquito-in-car extinction. Truth be told, I couldn't keep a straight face while writing those particular words of wisdom, though the task was to write it without humor. That's the only problem with these little ditties, for the most part, the clients I write for specifically do not want my questionably "sophisticated" brand of Bluesy humor. Never mind that it's taken me years of honing this writing style to a finely tuned barbed machine of wit and whimsy. Forget all of those classes at UC Berkeley I had to take in comedy to become "a professional" (okay, so it was one class in comedy, and it turned out to be a snoozefest, as I recall. But hey, it was an easy "A").

So there you have it. I haven't been blogging because I've been writing. Some of that writing has been on my books, to which at this point, I am working on two fiction YA books (three if you count the one I start and stop with a dear buddy, when the stars align and we manage to carve time out between coming up with excuses why not to write the darn thing... that's what happens when you get two professional procrastinators in a room. Still, you never know, we could surprise ourselves and finish it one day). Aside from my two (or three) fabulous young adult fiction books, I've also managed to write and complete a really witty, fun picture book (but don't get too excited, the illustrations aren't done yet... and I am illustrating this one by myself). I'm also writing a biography of a really cool martial arts master.

And in between all this writing, writing, writing... and planning... and playing with my kids... and trying to make sure they grow up to be smart, responsible, funny people that add to society in some outstanding way (nurture, nurture, nurture)... in between all the dog walks, plant waters, and hours spent battling cellulite on an elliptical road to nowhere soul sucking machine; among the hours spent staring into the vast ocean and picking sand out of uncomfortable places; between all the great books read (see my Goodreads list if you don't believe me); between all the shlepping and shopping and hours spent playing with Spotify;

There's the Summer Moviewatching (so far, Pacific Rim and Man of Steel have both been loud and fun). And, of course, ample TV watching... so many shows, so little time:

Now for what you really want: This Summer's TV Watch

So far, I've been enjoying: Orange is the New Black (well worth a months subscription of Netflix), "The Killing," "True Blood" (still but honestly, it's getting a little boring lately), "The Newsroom" (I'm an Aaron Sorkin junkie, am I alone with this addiction? I wonder), Dexter (still fabulous in it's final stand, Charlotte Rampling rocks, though I do not trust her for a nanosecond... in fact, she and Jonathan Lithgow's character seem to have something in common), Ray Donovan, Continuum (my time machine sci fi fix), Stephen King's Under the Dome (my SK fix), Falling Skies, The Bridge, Royal Pains, Suits, Necessary Roughness (Nico, make a move already; who knew Jonathan Stamos could be cool to watch again), Covert Affairs (I'm thrilled that Annie and Auggie are together but I kinda miss the cheesy That Girl animation and upbeat music from the old intro), Mistresses (Don't judge me, it's summer), Switched at Birth (Come on... Angelo..  need I say more?), The Fall, Longmire (a new addition, I'm catching up on last season with Netflix, along with missed episodes of The Walking Dead and Supernatural... yes, I'm behind, okay? There's just not enough procrastinating hours in a day/week to keep on top of these things). I'm probably missing stuff. I'm looking forward to Breaking Bad again, although since I know it's the last season... I'm sad already that it's only for a short while before it's gone for good. Sniff. I miss Mad Men already, and it's only been a few weeks. Here's a recap from that last great episode of the season:

Until next time... Go, Make other plans, I dare you. The Universe waits for no one.

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