Monday, July 31, 2006

Foodie Bloggie Fun

My friend, baker extraordinaire and princess of preserves, "Tam", furnished me with a list of cool food blogs a while back. I started reading What's For Lunch, Honey? and I'm now taking part in this cool blog postcard exchange. Tomorrow I will post my postcard and then mail it. If I was in England, I would've had to say, "post it". At the post office.

Eventually I will share some of the other food blogs too. Or maybe T. will start her own blog. (Nudge, nudge.)

iPod Shuffle, be mine

I think this is a very smart way to market a book. Why, yes, I will plug your book for the chance at an iPod. Do unto others, right?

Win free stuff!
Love freebies? Love books? Love YA?
Read on.




(1) Your choice of either an iPod Shuffle, OR a fifty dollar gift certificate
(2) An autographed copy of REALITY CHICK by Lauren Barnholdt
(3) A copy of the August issue of Teen People, which lists REALITY CHICK as a Can't-Miss Pick for August
(4) Free tuition to a session of Lauren's YA writing class


STEP ONE: Simply copy and paste this whole message (including the info about the contest) into any blog, message board, email list, myspace bulletin, or anywhere a lot of people will see it!

REALITY CHICK by Lauren Barnholdt is NOW IN STORES!

Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless of
course your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world to
watch. On uncensored cable.

Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking up
on In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As if
school isn't panic-inducing enough!) The cameras stalk her like
paparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, old
crushes, and learning to live on your own.

Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares?
Ally's got bigger issues -- like how her long-distance bf can watch her
loopy late-night "episode" with a certain housemate...

Freshman year on film.
It's outrageous.
It's juicy.
And like all good reality TV, it's impossible to turn off.


Check out Lauren on the web at or on her myspace at

STEP TWO -- Email Lauren at lauren (at) and let her know you've posted about the contest and the book, and you'll be entered to win the prize pack! The winner will be picked at random on September 1st. The more places you post, the more entries you get. Have fun and good luck!!!

Saturday, July 29, 2006

"Utterly Useless Writing Advice"

That's not my title, that John Scalzi's. Scalzi is a science fiction writer. I've never read his work. I found his Utterly Useless Writing Advice on his blog while surfing.

I haven't actually finished reading his advice. It's a long post. Also, I've already made several choices contradictory to his advice. Still, it's worth taking a look at if you hope to write for money... one day.

Friday, July 28, 2006

What I'm Reading

Finished the third of the "Maisie Dobbs" books last night. It's called Pardonable Lies. It was the best so far.

Jacqueline Winspear, the author, has a beautiful essay on her website, called Skylarks Above No Man's Land that describes her visits to the battlefields of WWI. I recommend it.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Leaps and Bounds

If you've logged onto Yahoo today, you've probably already seen this headline, but I had to share it. I've always wished that sidewalks could be made of wood like they appear in frontier town recreations. They'd be so much easier on the feet - and on the shoes! So the installation of rubber sidewalks in cities across the U.S. is exciting news.

I have time limits for my high heeled shoes. For example, some of my heels are "four hour shoes", some are "six hour". That denotes the maximum time I can walk and stand in them comfortably - for example, shoes for work need to be "eight hour", shoes for an evening out can vary.

Get it?

But rubber sidewalks extend the timeframe on everything. You could salsa for hours and totter home in comfort!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Spare Some Words?

I was working on Book 1 last night, when I realized I was missing a chapter. I knew I'd written it, but where had it gone?
I went through my other files and realized I had 30 more pages written in another file (titled naturally "New Beginning"). I had re-written a beginning to my novel and then conveniently forgotten about it.

I need that one chapter, but I don't know if I really need the rest. This is where having a real editor look at it would be handy. Funny or senile that I can write 6000 words and forget about them? I guess it means they're not critical to the story, but the background might be helpful to the reader. Time will tell.

Corporate Shilling

Even though I don't work there anymore, I get emails from Starbucks. Right now they're promoting a sweepstake to go see Corinne Bailey Rae on her European tour. So I click on through and end up (like a good marketing follower) signing up for a 3-day free trial of XM Radio - their satellite radio service. That's what I'm listening to. It's pretty awesome. I can't really afford to really subscribe ($13/mo), but the options are great, and the layout is really simple. Worth checking out the free trial, if only to remind yourself of all the music that's out there that you've forgotten you enjoy.

I am readin Sol Stein's two books:
How to Grow a Novel
Stein on Writing

They're harsh. I'm not reading either straight through - I'm picking bits here and there. The advice is excellent so far, but it is aimed at writing literary fiction.

I'm writing genre. Did I mention that before? Now you know.

I could still apply all of his advice, but I'm wondering if it would be counter-productive, since my goal (with this book) is just to churn it out as fast as possible.

Alrighty, it's coffee time. More soon.

Book the Second

So now what?

Well, besides having too much fun shopping and dining with my sister today, I've been working on book #2.

I started it almost at the same time I started Book the First, but I haven't worked on it much till now.
Beginning word count: around 13 000 words

Am I so confident that book #1 will sell?
No! But what I've culled from all the writerly advice I've read is: send stuff out and keep writing.
Besides, if an editor decides she likes your book and wants to work with you, she'll be even happier to hear you're already working on another.

I'm also starting to research literary agents. It's funny how agents are the least frightening people ever until you need one.

So, book one is under revision (by me).
Book two (draft one) is progressing very slowly.
Book three (that I started three years ago) is staying in its current dormant state till further notice.

Tomorrow I hope to see Harmony Trowbridge sing at The Drake Hotel. You come too.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

You Heard it Here First!

When I was in L.A. I frequently, er, frequented a store on Sunset called "Book Soup". Now, behind Book Soup is another store called, Mystery Pier. If my memory serves, it was housed in little cottage-type building. It specializes in first editions and rare books. It was heaven.

I couldn't afford anything in it, though I was tempted to buy some old Travis McGee books with fantastic covers for my sister.

Anyhow, the owner informed me that he and his son had just been to England (I think to the London Book Fair) where he'd been sold a book. The bookseller told him that if he was not OVERWHELMED by the book, he would not only refund his money, but double it.

He bought two copies. Both he and his son were OVERWHELMED.

He told me that it was not yet available in the States or Canada, but that it would be released here in the Fall.

I just noticed that it is now available for pre-order on It is called The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.

Consider me your harbinger of buzz.

If you have connections in the U.K. and have read it, no spoilers please!

Friday, July 21, 2006

Insomnia Can Be Useful (Draft #1)

Oh, yeah. Here it is. The post you've been waiting for.

I'm finished my first draft! Hurrah!

It is currently 53 813 words and 239 pages long. (Or, 46 187 words too short.)

Anyhow, I've stayed up all night to alternately whine and write. (And eat Junior Mints.)

So I'm a little bit nutty at the moment, but happy. 'Cause once it was done, I had to print it out, of course.

Do you know what 239 pages looks like in a big 3-ring binder? It looks like I haven't wasted the last eight months of my life!

I know it needs a lot of work. I know it is only a first draft. But I'm happy.

Now, how do I get back to that ol' "sleeping at night and working during the day" Circadian rhythms thing?

Also, how long should a second draft take?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shuffling Along

First things first:
My sister (in Jerusalem) is fine and I am grateful.

This is not a political blog, so you won't get much political ranting from me. (Not here, anyway.) I know, I know, it's really difficult to find that on the web.

So, you ask, what have I been doing since I haven't been blogging? I shall tell you.

Escapism, writing, living.

Escapism consisted of:

In Her Shoes, School of Rock, 1/2 of Sunset Boulevard, and none of Grizzly Man.

Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs, Birds of a Feather, and James Ellroy's Clandestine. (As previously mentioned.) All three are quite good. 'Maisie Dobbs' is a new British sleuth - a young woman setting up her P.I. practice in the years after WWI. Very interesting, with some unexpected character traits.

I am at over 50 000 words and 218 pages. Hooray. Hooray-ish?

Two chapters to go. I may have said that before, but I keep adding chapters. These last two chapters are the most difficult. Maybe because if I finish, I have to start (ugh, cough cough, whine) REVISING. Blech.

As for living, well... news to watch, bills to pay, jobs to contemplate (heh), etc.

More soon. Hopefully a completed (and too-short-by-half) first draft!
Are you ready?! I didn't think so...

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Home. Haven't written all that much since I've been back. I wrote a bit.

Toronto is so lovely. So many people on the streets. So much going on. Street festivals and play festivals and literary festivals, oh my! It's very festive!

Good to see friends, too.

Not that L.A. doesn't have it's perks - they're just two very different cities.

I'm currently reading Clandestine by James Ellroy. I've never read him before. I opened it up in the bookstore, and the story hooked me right away. The book is helping me see Los Angeles as a literary place. Perhaps I'm more comfortable in a place when I've trod through it 'fictionally' first.

I found the book at Balfour Books on College Street. I don't know how I missed this bookstore for the last eleven years. I've been on that block of College Street a hundred times and never noticed it before. I can't imagine how much money I've saved by simply not knowing it was there! I'd heard of "Balfour" before, but I always thought it was on Harbord or Queen. I also bought two early Atwoods and a collection of stories by Guy de Maupassant.

Don't sass me about it. I almost bought a dictionary, a pulp novel, and the whole hardcover set of the Little House books! See, I have some restraint!

Two little links to leave you with:
(1) The red paper clip guy got a house!
(2) Toronto aerospace guy flies ornithopter! I didn't even know that that flappy plane was called an ornithopter.

See? You do learn things here. Occasionally.