Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Whup That Trick!

Remember, this, there are only two constants in life:

1. Change is inevitable

2. It's never TOO early to start talking smack when University of Miami (The U) and Florida State University are involved.

I am a rabid Miami fan. My husband is a die-hard FSU fan.

Yes, it makes for interesting times in the Hyman household. And this weekend will be more interesting than most, because the annual 'Canes vs. 'Noles football game is played on Labor Day.

Rivalries are what makes college sports (heck, any sport) more fun. And The U/FSU rivalry is college football's most fierce. In the face of this matchup, there may as well be no other games this least none that matters!

This is THE game.

The only thing I hate is how early it's played.

The game used to be mid-season, when a win or loss really impacted our standings in the BCS (that's Bowl Championship Series, for those of you whose eyes glaze over at the mention of sports).

Now, no matter who loses, both teams have plenty of time to make up for it and secure a bid to a Bowl - Fiesta, Sugar, Rose etc...

But the 'Canes/'Noles games is not about BCS standings or glory. It's about pride!

We're coming off a loss. So, pardon my french, but our balls are against the wall this year. Miami has gotta win!

In a wack twist of fate, Miami lost last season's game because of a field goal.

Why a twist of fate? Historically, the botched field goals are FSU's department, having lost to Miami FIVE times because of a field goal kicked Wide Right or Wide Left.

So my boys from The U need to whup that azz this season!

In honor of the game, I've ordered this...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Why girlfriends rock

Today is the first day of school.

Can I get a Yaaay!?

But this post isn't about why it's so nice to get the kiddies back inside the halls of wisdom. It's about friendship.

I myself, am a friend fanatic. It's probably fallout from being an only child.

Over the years, I've made some great friends. And I continue to meet and grow close to those I've met through my writing.

But it's even more fun to watch Princess A develop friendships. She's a 'tween and friendships are always so life and death at that age. You either really heart someone or really hate them. And that can change daily. Still, she has a solid group of girlfriends.

This morning, two of them came to pick her up, so they could all walk to the bus stop together. They shared an exchange that reminded me why it's such a cool thing to have girlfriends:

* Your self-esteem needs a cheering section.

Princess A had an involuntary hair cut yesterday. Her hair was breaking and damaged in the back, so it's way shorter than she'd ever willingly go. But it's cute on her. I've told her so, the King has told her and so had grandma. But what do we know? We're just parents.

Well, when the new 'do made it's debut, her two girlfriends went:

"GASP! Your hair."

Princess A: I know. It's so short.

Girlfriend 1: But, girl, you are rocking it!

Girlfriend 2: My hair is really short too without my braids. I had to get it cut because the ends were split.

I was in awe that at age 11 and 12 they already know the girlfriend code - always cheer on a fellow sister when she's doubting her image/self-worth/abilities.

* Having your girls, by your side, makes just about any situation bare-able

The Princess hasn't been looking forward to school. By middle school you're painfully aware how short summer really is AND just how badly you need the downtime. Even for the social outlet school provides, you're not really hot to get back.

But, when I announced that her two friends were en route to the house, she immediately perked up. You could see her attitude change from begrudging to "hot damn!"

* When you're around your girls, the rat race of popularity and being cool ceases to exist

It was almost like they had an invisible bubble surrounding them, this morning. I could see how comfortable just being with one another made them. If they had any anxieties about starting a new year, being the middle child of school (7th graders) or whether they had chosen the proper outfit - the mere presence of their clique squashed them.

* You never have to explain yourself

When it's someone that's truly your girl, things like your mom popping into your room in pajamas singing "Good morning, girls. Ready for school?" does not faze you. Because, you know your girls understand that when they've made the choice to love you - they love all of you, wacky parents, new 'do, weird quirks and all.

Monday, August 28, 2006

All in the family

The first two years, after jumping back into writing, I pretty much went it without joining any writer's groups. I wasn't being anti-social. I was simply hyper-focused on pitching editors with freelance ideas and then the novel came about.

But once I ventured out, I discovered quickly how supportive the YA community is. I'm sure adult writers are supportive as well. But YA authors are almost Stepford wife-like in their enthusiasm to embrace other writers.

And I love it. The friendliness forces you to come up for air from your latest project; to emerge from your office, shed your pajamas and throw on real clothes and use very non-YA language.

Maybe the reason YA authors are especially warm is because we have to grin and bear innocent comments from people who think writing YA or children's book is a good "start," to a writing career. As if we do so, solely as a step toward breaking into adult fiction.

Also, maybe what bonds us is that on average (okay, now I said on average) we're not paid as handsomely as adult fiction writers out of the gate. There are plenty of exceptions to this rule. I even know some of them. Nonetheless, we're not making as much scrilla as first timers.

Could be that we're so in tune to our inner-child/teen that no one else knows how to communicate with us but us.

No idea.

But, when a community shows you love, you're inclined to show it back. So the Clique Lounge page of my website will be dedicated to featuring YA authors that I've met along the way (and a few I haven't).

Hopefully, it'll shine some publicity their way. But mostly, I just like hanging out with other YA authors. And the Clique Lounge is a fun way to do that, while also showing another side to the author. Because in the lounge, we're never serious. So, no adult questions allowed. It's all about kicking it.

Don't ask me how I've decided who to feature. The only two "rules," if you can call them that, are they're authors I've met (in person or online) and books I've read.

Other not-so definitive rules are - When I have time to make up new questions, when the author I've chosen has time to answer them, when I've read a good book and think the author would be interesting...who knows. Whatever tickles my fancy.

I just hope people enjoy the TQTR (Ten Questions That Rock).

First up, Lauren Barnholdt, author of Reality Chick.

Racey Survivor

I haven't watched Survivor in many, many least not a full-season.

A few times I peeked in on a few eps or I caught the last two including the finale. But watching it from start to finish? I think the last one I saw was about seven seasons ago.

Now, Surivor has decided to pit race against race, this season. There will be a team of African Americans, Asian-Americans, Hispanic Americans and White Americans.

Yeah, yeah it's politically incorrect as hell. Yet, I can't wait to watch. Here's why:

* As superficial as it may end up being, I'll give Survivor producers a little dap for not shying away from the issue of race. There's an element of tip-toeing around racial issues in our country that some will deny and others exxagerate.

No matter what side you fall on, the fact is, for every person who wants to scream "What difference does race make? Why do we keep talking about it?!" there are many examples that proves the "playing field" is not balanced and race still matters.

So, I'm interested to see how having people with at least one very general commonality, working together as a tribe will mainfest itself into drama. And, no doubt, there will be drama.

* At least the start of the season will be interesting. Once the tribes merge, it will be the same old game of Survivor.

Let's be real, there's only one original. Since the first season, all the other seasons have been the same cycle of allegiances, back-stabbing, lying etc... ::yawn::

And let's get the obvious out of the way - this isn't sociological experimentation. People are people. There will be plenty of inner tribal disputes and fighting. Sharing a race line has nothing to do with how pissed you'll get when someone on the island doesn't pull their weight.

Also, the tribes are "American." If it were authentically steeped in race, the Asian tribe would originate from China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam etc... I'm sure this will most likely be a generic panel of American contestants who have some Asian roots.

Same goes for the Hispanic tribe. After all, it didn't announce an El Salvadoran tribe or Mexican tribe or Puerto Rican tribe.

Is this a cheap production trick on the part of Survivor? Absolutely.

Can it be fun to watch? Maybe.

Is it another small reminder that race is and always will be a part of our social fabric that requires our attention? I hope so.

Because whether you watch it or not, like the idea or hate it, if it gets you thinking about race for a minute and/or talking about it, I can't find the bad in that.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

In, Carbs, I Trust

Okay, so I might make some enemies over this post. But I don't believe in a carb-less diet.

I love Carbs! They're good and that's that.

Put me on a carb-less diet and I'll show you one angry, sistah ready to rip someone's head off.

People who are willing to strip carbs from their daily diet are in a cult. Run as far away from them as possible.

You've been warned!

However, although I look upon the Atkins diet and anything like it with an evil eye, I am willing to make peace with reducing the amount of carbs in a diet.

I don't need a lecture about carbs. I know all about them. I know what havoc they wreak when you're trying to lose weight (boy, do I know). But I also know that if given a choice between a big ol' pot of baked macaroni and cheese and a thick juicy steak, I'd choose the mac, everytime!

And I LOVE steak!!!

Carbs are just so addicting.

But I'm nothing if not a reasonable person (okay, no laughing out there). And recently, I've attempted to REDUCE some of my carb intake, in an effort to drop some lbs. Granted, my reduction in carbs and the average person's reduction in carbs is probably very different.

Still, yesterday, I had a grilled pork chop and a side of brocolli for dinner. Believe it or not, no potatoes, rice, or pasta AND no bread.

I thought it would kill me to not have something starchy. But I was really okay with it. Most importantly, I left the table feeling full and satisfied.

In the past, when I've tried to cut down on carbs I've still felt hungry after a carb-less meal.

Oh, and last Saturday, when we went and got McDonald's for Princess Bea I passed on french fries. Trust, these are huge steps for me.

When the no-carb craze was out of control, I laughed in the face of that dietary fad as I scarfed down a small loaf of warm bread over dinner.

The truth is, I've always seen the benefit in carb moderation. But the no-carb thing was such a huge, intrusive, blatant fad that I went out of my way to distance myself from it.

Now, the fury has died and I'm able to admit that I can give up a few carbs each week. But, know this, on the day I'm allowing myself to indulge never go for the last warm roll over me. I'll have to cut ya.

Friday, August 25, 2006

I've decided to cheat

Kids, do not try this at home. Leave cheating to the professionals.

I know the saying goes, cheaters never win. But I believe I'll be the exception to that rule.

For the sake of my sanity and in the name of time management, I have decided that I will have to cross-post between my two blogs, Myspace and my LJ. Yes, that's cheating, because, each outlet has a different audience. And my goal should be to develop original content across the board for each of those audiences.

But alas, I am only human!

The way I calculated it, if I were to develop original content for all four sites, my day would look something like:

7 a.m. Rise and greet my day - "Hello, world"

7:15 Blog about my late-night edits on Paula's Jort

7:30 Brush teeth etc... so as not to offend

7:45 Blog about new Danity Kane CD on Paula's JORT Too (I know you're loving it Britt, but ah...yeah, I'm not)

8:00 Forgot I had kids to get ready for school, immediately wake them up and rush Princess A out the door...crap, she's missed the bus. Make her dress little sister while I get dressed and then drop her off to school on my way to work

8:30 Drop Princess Bea off to daycare

8:35 Think about what to blog for Myspace

8:50 Arrive to work, make small talk

9:00 Blog about how weird it is that your hands prune under water and somehow connect this to promoting the book

9:20 Oh right, I'm at work! Get to work!!!

10 - 4:15 In between working, obsess over what next blog entries will be

4:30 Leave office and ponder blog entries more...half way home, remember that I have books to write and switch gears to character development

5:00 Arrive home, kiss hubby and kids, sit for two seconds then either A) start dinner or B) Head to cheer practice

8:00 Shower

8:15 Watch some TV. Some people have Miller Time, P has TV Time

9:00 Shoo the kids off to bed (now that I can do ON TIME)

10:00 Shoo hubby off to bed

10:15 Go into office, make loud declarations about how it's so nice that everyone else can sleep while I still have work to do

10:30 Pretend to do book edits while reading my fave blogs

11:00 Book edits/creation/tweaks

1:00 Not tired but figure if I don't sleep now, I never will

1:15 Tell my brain to shut up as it continues to think about book edits

1:30 Drifting off then suddenly have great idea for tomorrow's blog entry, run to office, write it down then drag self back to bed

SLEEP, Wake up, start over!!!!

Okay, so now, if I cross-post between the blogs, I can get Princess A off to school in time AND think about pop culture junk on my way to work. See, that saves me a whole 50 minutes.

I should teach a class in time management. I've got this stuff down pat!


I can't believe it. My book is nearing BLURB stage.

I write it in caps because it feels like a word you should say really loud, like OMG and LOL. Some words deserve caps.

I know all of you writers know what a BLURB is. But for those scratching your head, thinking maybe I'm off my meds, BLURBS are those quotes on an author's book from other authors much more famous than the author who wrote the book.

BLURBS usually say really nice things like "I laughed until I wet my pants. How did we survive without Author, Shining Star?"

I have no idea if having a BLURB pushes more units or not.

I think they can. I've picked up a few horror books because Stephen King blurbed them. I mean, if Stephen King says that another horror writer scared the hell out of him, the ish must be scary! And P loves a good horror novel.

Still, I doubt there's any scientific formula to gauge just how many more books you'll sell because Famous Author A, B or C BLURBS it. But man are they cool.

All writers are author groupies to a certain degree, and having an author who has actually reached some degree of status in the publishing world say nice things about your book puts you one degree separated from them.

It's like meeting someone over the internet, talking to them regularly and suddenly referring to them as your "friend" or saying you "know" them. You may have never met them in person - but your feelings toward them are genuine.

Well, if Famous Author A,B or C says something nice about your book, they're saying something nice about you. I assume that means, should you happen to be in the same vicinity as Famous Author A,B or C, they wouldn't call the cops on the creepy little woman making goo-goo eyes at them from across the room.

They'd be relieved when you went to intro youself and say, "Hey, I'm Author, Shining Star, you liked my book."

Another reason BLURB stage is exciting? It means galleys will soon be available for DRAMA, pushing my baby girl one step closer to being on the shelves.

Okay, but here's the scary thing about BLURBS: someone other than the people who love the book (my eddy and agent) has to read it.

Well, of course they do, P, you're saying.

But think about it - someone who has absolutely no vested interest in whether my book sells or not must read it and ::gulp:: give it the ol' Ebert & Roper thumbs up or down. That is scary!

Has a book ever reached BLURB stage and Famous Author A, B, or C sent the book back to a writer's agent stamped BURN THIS, IMMEDIATELY?

Meh, if you have a good enough publicist they can take that and make it sound good. Imagine this on the cover of the book:

"Judy Blume says Author, Shining Star's book is so hot it'll burst into flames after you read it."

Okay, so the publicist would have to take a little creative liberty. But when you're hot, you're hot. haha!!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Hot(tie) List

There's an episode of Friends - it's one of the older ones - where the gang creates a list of celebs they'd date, if given the chance. The key of the episode was that your significant other - boyfriend, husband, wife, whatever - would have to let your have a tryst with this celeb if the circumstances allowed. But only if the celeb was on your List.

It's one of those scenarios that any clique of friends can relate to. Who doesn't sit around and talk about the movie, film or music stars they'd love to have a little fling-a-ding-ding with?

So, of course after the episode, me and my friends were prompted to try it.

There were only three rules:

1) Only five celebs per list
2) No updating the List just because one of your celebs fell from grace (i.e. gained a thousand pounds and lost their hotness)
3) You had to explain why that person made your list. General hotness wasn't explanation enough.

Believe it or not, I could only find three guys for my list as did my girl, Le. We take our celeb crushes very seriously. You can't just go around crushing willy-nilly.

My husband and my friend, D, however filled their lists immediately! Seriously, they actually have a wait list.

We have yet to discuss exactly how you swap in a new celeb. I'm guessing the person on the list may have to die to be replaced. ::shrug::

Since I have some open slots I've been mulling over what hotties I want to fill them. And it's tougher than you think.

I mean, if by some odd chance I'm able to swing an episode with someone on my list I don't want to live to regret my choices.

We did this about 7 or 8 years ago and I still stand by my list!

My husband and D, on the other hand, have changed theirs several times, verbally. And yes, that's against the rules. But, you know how guys cheat.

Alright, so here's my current list:

1) Chris Webber
2) Allen Iverson
3) LL Cool J

Yes, there's somewhat of a pattern to my picks. My hubby would say it's 'cause I like thugs. Which is also the reason, according to him, that I'm a huge Miami University football fan.

The actual pattern is that I love athletic guys. I'll watch Sportscenter for the sheer athletcism of the players in the highlights. It's hot! BTW, I love The U football because they will smash any team in front of them!!

I've been a fan of Webber and Iverson since they were in college. Shout to University of Michigan and Georgetown U!

I nearly lost my mind when C-Webb was traded to the 76ers, putting him and A.I. on the same team. Woo-hoo!

It's their basketball skill that's hot to me, not necessarily how they look. Though Webber and that cutie smile of his is easy on the eyes.

And LL...well, do I really need to explain that choice? Have you seen his pecs?!?!

Alas, C-Webb has been injured quite a bit over the years. Not many seasons left on the hardwood. Same with Alley I. My Top 2 crushes are about to leave the building...and I think that is cause for updating the list, no?

I'll discuss it with the clique, this weekend.

Meanwhile, I've been noodling on a new list. Here are some of my candidates:

Young Jeezy. OMG, okay, Jeezy's voice drives me nuts. It's low and raspy like he's blowing smoke. Not normally an attractive feature. But his voice, man...whenever I hear a song with that "AY! Yeeee-uuhhhhh! ha-haa" I'm like, "Jeee-zayyy!" The man could make a whole CD with just those three words and I'd buy several copies.

Jay-Z. Beyonce's man has mad lyrical flow. Like I said, this list isn't about looks. Not saying Jigga is ugly or anything. But his lyrical swagger is crazy! He and Jeezy are featured on several tracks together and between Jeezy's voice and Jay-Z's flow the songs daggone near put me in a coma!

Daniel Dae Kim (Jin from Lost). Did you see the ep when Jin had his shirt off?! I was like, Day-um, Jin is hot!

Carmello Anthony. Another basketball hottie with sick skills and a cute smile. And also, another one who I watched when he was in college. Go Orangemen! Oh and Mello's from Charm City -that's Baltimore, if you don't know.

See what I mean? Four, is all I can come up with.

Sure, there are plenty of hot celebrity guys on this earth. But, I told you the list is permanent, right? A girl's gotta be discerning about these things.

So, who's on your Hot(tie) List?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Thank you, sir, may I have another?

Few things make me appreciate writing like my full-time job (FTJ).

For those who don't know, I'm the resident flack for the Naptown Express. Translation: I'm the public relations contact for a small transit system.

Being a civil servant is not about the warm and fuzzies. But the FTJ is necessary to pay the bills until writing makes me a gazillionaire...okay, I'll settle for a bazillionaire, but nothing less!

The cliche, "the customer is always right," is taken to extremes when you're a civil servant. It then becomes, I can heap as much abuse on you as I want because MY taxes pay YOUR salary.

So no matter what happens, no matter if the customer is totally wrong or if there is reasonable explanation for the thing they're spouting off about, it's my job to smile and do nothing, which is the same as having someone spit on you and your saying, "Thank you, sir, may I have another."

Last night we had a lynching, er, public hearing about the Naptown Express. And for two solid hours I was in "Thank you, sir" mode.

Audience: You guys suck!

Us: Thank you, sir, may I have another?

Audience: Your service blows chunks!

Us: Thank you, sir, may I have another?

Audience: Trained monkeys would be more competent than you guys.

Us: Thank you, sir, may I have another and another and another?!?!?!!?

Now, anyone who knows me, knows that:

1) My poker face sucks. When I pledged in college, my big sisters always gave me hell for rolling my eyes at them or giving them P's famous, "you're an idiot and I can't believe we breathe the same air" look. Trust, without a poker face, pledging is hella hard.

2) Not being able to respond is worse than shoving bamboo shoots under my nails. I'm a communicator, people! If I can't verbalize or write my thoughts you may as well be deprving me of air.

So last night was pretty much my version of hell. But two very important things came out of Hell Night...

I realized that I'm capable of facing a verbal firing squad without so much as flinching. Who knows when that little skill may come in handy.

And, writing is a piece of cake in comparison to being a cog in the municipal wheel. My love for writing has intensified times ten!!

Three-week turnaround for a novel.

Psshh...can do it blindfolded.

400-pages with editorial notes in the margins & a seven-page editorial letter.

Thank you, sir, may I have another?

I'm serious. And if I ever complain about the trials of being a writer, may someone shove bamboo shoots up my fingernails.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Teen Choice - The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Not for nothing, the world needs no more award shows. But there are still a few that actually offer some entertainment. The Teen Choice Awards, among them.

The Good

Two hours is all she wrote. Yes, the show only runs two hours. Do you really need more? How much bad teleprompter reading can one person take beyond that? By the time I was starting to lose interest, the show was over. Yay!

Orlando Bloom won the Teen Choice Hottie Award! Or-lan-dooooooo!!! Why is it that practically all British accents annoy me, except his?

Pirates of the Caribbean won the Action Movie Award and I got to see Orlando AND Johnny "I haven't washed my hair in two days and I still look hot" Depp on stage together. Gah!! Love them.

Quick shot of my boy Mello shooting three-pointers. Go team USA!

When Nick Lachey won for Best Love Song. Wasn't he gracious? Don't lie. If it were you and your ex was the host of the show, would you not have made a total ass of yourself and been like - "Ha, ha Jessica I WON. You didn't win Teen Choice Hottie but I WON! Take that!"

You wouldn't have? Hmmm...maybe it's just me.

Fall Out Boy winning for Best Rock Band. Dance, Dance is my jam!

The Bad

Sorry, Luda, I'm not feeling the new cut. I know Ludacris is trying to step up his acting game. And no doubt, having corn rows could have possibly stunted any future growth. But the rows or when he wore the crazy 'fro made him look more interesting. Now, his five-head stands out more than ever. Guess the low-cut just has to grow on me.

Brooke Hogan's LONG-ass never ending speech. Seriously! First of all, she won for Best Grill. Over Paul Wall?! Whatever. Then she proceeded to give a speech as if there were actually any other people to thank (besides Paul Wall who customized her grill). Why? Why didn't the music start playing to shut her up?

Yet, when the cast for High School Musical were accepting their award the music started playing to shuttle them off stage after a mere 45 seconds. WTH!?!?

The Ugly

K-Fed's performance!!!! His song - wack. His style - wack. The fact that Mr. Britney Spears was the show closer - WACK!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

You take the good, You take the bad

"You take them both and there you have, the facts of life. The facts of life."

Sorry. 80's television flashback.

But speaking of The Facts of Life, I bet no one knew that the show's theme song was co-written by Alan Thicke who is the father of Robin Thicke - oh he of the Pharrell produced joint, Wanna Love U Girl.

So I guess songwriting runs in the fam.

MTV Jams forced me to like Wanna Love U Girl. Literally, they played it like every half hour over the winter. Since I couldn't run from the song I ended up liking it, especially the remix with Busta Rhymes.

Okay, so that has nothing to do with today's blog post. But, you never know when you'll need such mindless trivia.

Fair warning, you will need such puffery if you ever come by my house and challenge me to a game of Trivial Pursuit Pop Culture. I am the Queen! of non-essential information.

No, what this post is about are the good and bad days of a writer.

Today was a good day. And not a moment too soon. I'm on a deadline.

Deadlines, by the way, are a double-edged sword for me. Without one, I'll ponder and lollygag all day long i.e. won't write. But once under one, the pressure to produce quality writing always sends me into a panic.

Yes, I know, I should seek therapy. But that's a post for another day.

About my good writing day...

It started Friday morning when I had a breakthrough. After six days of stumbling in darkness in the land of the Del Rio Bay Clique, I was finally able to see where the storyline for DON'T GET IT TWISTED needed to go.

Contrary to popular belief, breakthrough moments rarely happen out of the blue. Well, not for me, anyway. I poke, prod and cajole such moments out of myself by writing LOTS of bad passages.

Once you've decided that writing is how you're going to make your living, only writing when the muse hits or when you've had a breakthrough moment are great ways to end up starving or homeless.

Writers must produce more regularly than a muse will allow, which is why it takes a crapload of bad writing to get to the good. Consider it a necessary evil.

Once you come to terms with that, your life becomes much easier...well, truthfully it doesn't. It still pains me to read over something and know it's bad. But bad writing is better than a blank page.

You can usually fix bad writing. You can't fix nothing.

Up until Friday, I was writing passages I knew would not see the light of day beyond my own PC monitor.

But thanks to that exercise I finally shoveled my way out of a pile of mediocre scribblings to see exactly where the character was heading.

I know, to call it an "exercise" makes it seem deliberate. As if I sit down and say to myself - "You know this is going to be bad, but write it anyway."

It's definitely not deliberate. I sit down attempting to write publishable passages. They just don't always end up that way without my muse whispering in the background.

Writing without my muse or a clear direction is hard. I practically get the shakes when I sit down to write blind. Which is my point.

For me, writing blind is the bad. Writing when Miss Thing-Thing, the muse, decides to show up, the good.

Writing drivel, some days, is the only path to a better story. I don't like it, but those are the facts of life.

Gah! I couldn't resist!

Friday, August 18, 2006

I'm being stalked...

By me.

Help, I can't STOP looking at the statcounter for my web page!

Oh, I tell myself I won't look at it. But everyday, my fingers, totally in on the whole conspiracy, begin typing in the URL for statcounter and next thing I know I'm gazing at the numbers.

The stats aren't bad at all. But I'm greedy - I want more. More, I say!

The problem isn't my new habit of stalking myself. I have a strange feeling it will only get worse once the book is out. When it's on the shelves I'll have Amazon to stalk and lots of book stores!

No, it's what's leading me to stalk myself that's the problem. It's a little depressing that I'm having to start from scratch. So I'm obsessed with beefing up the viewership of the new blog.

I had some regulars over at the original JORT. And while it's been a bit neglected, this week, it still lives.

But I've got to help JORT Too along.

Time to go back to pimping myself for eyeballs.

It feels like I'm holding a sign along the side of the information highway - Will write for web visitors!

Short of playing the cymbals with my knees while strumming a ukulele, I'm doing about all I can to make sure I get the new blog URL out there.

Problem #2 - I'm torn.

I don't have time to maintain two blogs, and a live journal (my assignment for my Class of 2K7 membership).

Do I abandon the original JORT, folding it into this one?

The original audience for JORT One were writers. The audience here, potential young readers of my books and, as always, fellow writers.

Or do I keep both alive and become a slave to the world of interactive journals?

I'm telling you, it's bad.

Between checking stats for the blog and the web site AND writing TWISTED (oh yes, the books. I still have books to write)I barely have time to watch M*A*S*H re-runs, late at night.

Us writers and our tough decisions!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Get out of my head and onto the page!

Rough writing day.

My characters are blabbing inside of my head. But when I sit down to write...zilch. Goose egg! Blank page!

Now, let me note that a bad day of writing beats a good day at my full-time job, everytime. But bad writing days are rough on the ol'noodle.

I can't stand looking back on the day only to realize that after six or eight hours I've only produced a few pages. Today, few = five pages.

It makes my head hurt.


It's the numbers game. And you can't write by the numbers. If you could we'd take Mathlish or Englith or some other funky hybrid of Math and English, in school.

Because helping aspiring writers is the aim of my blog - along with a few mindless rambles about my fave pop culture issues - let me share some advice. When having a rough writing day, the following have been found to be ineffective in producing good material:

* Crying

* Screaming

* Crying and screaming

* Chanting "get out of my head" to the tune of Old McDonald Had a Farm

* Sacrificing a small farm animal

* Pleading to a higher being and pronouncing all the things you're willing to give up if only the story would flow like the river Jordan

* Dancing naked to Ciara's "Get up"

* Bribing your ten year-old neighbor with leftover Halloween candy

Since I've tested these methods and know for sure they don't work, save yourself the trouble. Try a more productive approach, like...let the words flow from your fingers no matter how bad the drivel.

You can always fix it later.

La-dee-da-dee Pilates

Why am I finding out about Pilates so late?

No, I mean I knew they existed. Knew that, about three years ago, celebs were raving about how Pilates helped give them firm buns and titanium tight arms. I knew all that.

What I didn't know?

Pilates really is the shiznet!

Usually I'm quick to try out a new exercise craze.

I was first in line when they launched Hip Hop aerobics (still love that when I can find a class). Nearly broke my butt in Spinning classes (OW!). And kicked butt and got my butt kicked in Cardio Kickboxing. I even tried the Belly dancing aerobics(the jury's still out on that one).

The only thing I haven't tried is this stripper pole dancing aerobic thing.

Otherwise, if it's new and follws the no pain, no gain theory of getting in shape, I'm there!

But I always thought Pilates was like Yoga. And I DO NOT like Yoga. Un-ah, no down facing dog poses for me.

Most of the poses make my muscles tremble. They are not humanly possible and I do not find being twisted into a braided pretzel relaxing.

When Yoga made a comeback, I plugged my fingers in my ears and tried to ignore it until it went away. But it's still here! So I work around it.

When people talk about yoga and its benefits I nod, smile and pretend that I definitely must stop into their class and try it.

Uh, yeah right!

I figured Pilates was just a new twist on Yoga and thus a sneaky way to get me to try it.

But one day, while flipping through the Comcast On-Demand programming (always researching, ya know) I thought - Ooh look, they offer exercise programs.

So I tried the Pilates and LOVED it!

So now I'm taking a class at the gym.

I'm still a hard core high impact aerobic person. If I'm not gasping for breath and praying to the Gods to get me through the class, it's just not a workout.

Pilates is low impact but intense.

What's not to love about an exercise that demands that you call on every single muscle in your stomach, thighs and arms just to roll up from the floor?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Model TV

I'm an admitted TV junkie. Some days my writing definitely gets in the way of my TV viewing, err….research. So I do a lot of DVR'ing.

The one show that kept my digital recorder busy was Ms. Original Super Model's show, the Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency.

Yes, she looks like a living ad for botox.

Yup, she's a walking contradiction - screaming at a fashion show director, "My models aren't strippers, Nikki." Then, in the next episode, yelling at the models to "sex it up."

And, mos' definitely, her passion to hold on to her runway days and the spotlight, sometimes interferes with the aspiring mannequins she represents.

I bet working for her is a real be-yatch. But boy is Janice D. fun to watch.

Okay, but here's what I don't get about people who go on reality TV shows…

Why are there always a few who simply refuse to go along?

Why, after going through a string of auditions, braving long lines and a heap of waivers that signs their rights away into infinity do they get in front of all of America and suddenly grow a conscience?

What?! You mean you won't get naked or eat cow's balls or whatever?

Dude, have they ever seen these shows?

You're always going to have to do something that makes you question your sanity…but um, none of us would watch if you weren't willing to totally embarrass yourself on national television!

So please, if you ever get on a reality show (especially one about fashion or modeling) follow P's guide to surviving reality TV:

- Let them cut your hair. Please no more ANTM eps where the girl freaks out over cutting a few inches of her mane.

- Understand that, in the end, YES it is a contest and game. Stop being surprised when one of your fellow contestants stabs you in the back simply because they're…um, Trying.To.Win.

- Admit you're not perfect. If you had exactly what it took you wouldn't need a reality TV show to discover you!

- And for God's sake, smile with your eyes! Anyone can take a decent photograph. But, even as hokey as Tyra's "smile with your eyes" bit is ::here, I'm not smiling with my eyes…now I am. See the difference?::: The truth is, if you're going to rise to the next level of modeling, have more than ONE look!

Hip Lit, Hooray!

I call what I write, Hip Lit. And yes, I know, making up my own literary genre is arrogant in a Michael Jackson, self-proclaimed King of Pop way.

But I didn’t make it up to be arrogant. Honest.

My novels just feel like Hip Lit to me.

Apparently, the publishing industry has this burning need to categorize everything. Teen Lit, Chick Lit, Urban Lit, Gangsta Lit etc... So, when I started SO NOT THE DRAMA it didn’t seem to have a true home among the already established “lits.”

Yeah, it’s Teen Lit. But even within categories there guessed it, more categories.

I have lots of author friends who write Chick Lit. But if I go by the “definition” of Chick Lit, my book doesn't fit. So, I decided to call what I write, Hip Lit. It’s a nod to Hip Hop. The culture, not the music.

Hip-Hop is lots of things to many people. And I’m not trying to start a war on what it is or isn’t. What it is to me, is a culture of fashion, music, slang and style that has bridged a very large gap between a thousand other cultural differences. Basically, Hip-Hop brought the urbz to the ‘burbs.

Surfer white dude blasting T.I. from his car. Hip-Hop.

Black dude leaning and rocking in his stunna shades. Hip-Hop.

Asian dude sporting corn rows. Oh, mos’ definitely Hip-Hop.

Young girls singing Cherish's Do it To It into air mics, holding up the A-town symbol (even though they’re from like Boise, Idaho)…right, Hip-Hop.

The characters in DRAMA are the result of Hip-Hop’s impact worldwide. Because multi-culti is very hot. And it’s not weird anymore (as weird) to see teens of all races slingin’ the same slang and bumpin’ the same music.

That’s Hip-Hop and that’s Hip Lit!

Monday, August 14, 2006

What's a JORT?

Ahhh...I thought you'd never ask.

Okay, well you didn't ask. But I know you're thinking it!

I could tell you what a JORT is...but what fun would that be?

I'll take random guesses. Go ahead, comment me. What do you think a JORT is?

For those who read my writer's blog, no telling!!

And when you've exhausted every possible answer, find out what a JORT is in the excerpt from SO NOT THE DRAMA.

Yo, bring that beat back

Confession: "Pullin' me back" by Chingy is on crazy repeat mode on my iPod! Out of hundreds of songs on my player, I keep listening to that one.

First of all, Tyrese's voice is chocolate sexy. If something leaves you muttering Mmm! Mmm! Mmm! it's chocolate sexy.

Remember, that's different from Mmph, mmph, mmph which means you've just seen something so totally jacked up, you're without words.

I'm not a big fan of Tyrese's acting. Not even his relatively decent turn in 2 Fast 2 Furious can erase the image of his awful acting in Baby Boy from my brain.

"Momma! Momma, you gon' pick him over me?! Your son!"

Sorry, Baby Boy flashback!

Over-acting aside, Tyrese's vocals, so smooth and delish are like...Mmm, Mmm, Mmm.

Then there's Chingy. His voice is kind of quirky and he has a good flow for a young 'un.

But probably what really has the joint on repeat, is that it samples "Rain" by SWV. I had to research that little infobit, BTW. I knew the sample was familiar but could never put a name to it.

I'm guessing I must have liked "Rain" when it was a hot single...but for the life of me I can't remember how it goes.

Anyway, I think Chingy has a hit on his hands.

What track do you have on repeat?