Friday, September 29, 2006

Giant Storm

Everyone should have a whimsical grocery store story to tell. You know, the kind where people say, "I was at the grocery store one day and in walks the Dalai Lama..."

I'm not sure where people with these type of stories shop. The most exciting thing that has ever happened to me at the grocery store was when Turkey Hill ice cream was buy one, get one free.

I know, I'm so easy to please!

Okay, well I finally have a grocery story to tell. Not sure how whimsical it is though.

Last night, me and the fam stopped by Giant (local Maryland-based chain). My intent was to quickly score two cases of Deer Park water. I'm a Fiji chick when given a choice - it's hands down the most pure, spring water I've ever had. But Deer Park was on sale for $3.99 a case.

I know, right! I had to snag me some.

The hubster double parks and I roll inside only to discover, Deer Park! It's all gone.

I had just been there the night before and they had a ton. I shushed the voice nagging me that I should have picked up some the day before, reminding it that I didn't because I had been on my way to cheer practice. I didn't have time to deal with dinner time lines at the grocery store.

So, I go back out the car and tell the hubster that there were none near the front.

He volunteered to head back inside and check the water aisle.

Shortly after he goes inside, Princess A points out how quickly the clouds above are rolling overhead. Not unusual. I figured the storm was pushing itself out.

Uhhh, no.

Two seconds later the truck begins rocking. Yes, rocking!!

We have a heavy Expedition. So note how strong the winds must be to rock that bad boy!!

Suddenly, things that have no business being airborne are: the trash can next to our truck, the overhead ports that protect the grocery carts from the weather, trees!

For the first time in my life I was in the midst of a tornado!

It was single-handedly the Scariest.Experience.Ever.

Princess A and I are scared shitless. We're staring out of the windows at things flying across the parking lot and I'm wondering if the truck is going to completely flip over.

Princess Bea, who had just seconds before pitched a fit to get out of her carseat was now running back to the carseat as fast as her two-year-old legs could carry her.

Okay, I can't lie. That was funny.

She was being such a brat before about wanting to get out that I let her, to quiet her down. But that car seat was suddenly safety for her.

Too bad I didn't have anywhere to run. All I could do was keep an eye out for anything that might be ready to smash into our windows.

Luckily, it was all over in about sixty seconds.

Shaken up but unharmed, Princess A and I stuck our hands out in front of us to see who was shaking harder.

When the hubster emerged from the store about two minutes later, there was a crowd in front of the store assessing the damage.

Maryland is fairly natural disaster neutral. You can imagine how exciting (scary as hell) this is.

Marylanders close schools when there's more than an inch of snow on the ground.

We arrogantly thumb our nose at Tornado and Hurricane warnings because 9.5 times out of 10, by the time it reaches us, it's nothing more than heavy rain and wind.

We're spoiled.

But Mother Nature bitch slapped us into reality last night.

None of the meteorologists had called this. As a matter of fact, they didn't begin using the words Tornado Watch until the damn thing had already touched down in two areas!

Un-huh, watch that sucker rip through your yard.

I'm a Maryland native. So yes, I'll admit to taking storm warnings rather lightly.

I laugh out-loud at people who run to the grocery store during winter storm warnings. It's ridiculous. I mean, honestly. If you can't make it to the store to pick up your TP and milk in two inches of snow you deserve to be ass out of food during the "storm."

But, man, Twisters ain't no joke.

New respect for Mother Nature? You betcha.

Mother Nature - 1
Maryland - 0

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Very well, thank you

Day one of the SKR went very well.

I'm prevented from using the word "excellent" because my a.m. workout was interrupted twice - both because of a potty incident.

Since I swore to myself I would not tell potty stories on the blog, I won't go there.

Let's just say, I couldn't keep my heart rate up because of disruptions.

However, the reading and writing thing are totally on track.

I got in four hours of writing and a little more than two hours of reading.

I don't know what it is. This isn't brain surgery. I haven't run across any secret formula. Yet, I feel less stress about getting my writing in.

Writing shouldn't be a chore. But, when author, Melissa Marr described how much writing is a regular part of her day it hit me that if it's a natural part of your day it's not a chore.

I believe, what I've done by putting myself on the SKR is given myself permission to write.

What's different about now versus other times I've tried...other times I'd get all freaked out when I didn't write. So then I'd think I'd have to do double the next day. God forbid a few days pass without me writing (which happened often) and then I'd be staring this huge deficit in the face.

Worst, I always felt like I had to carve out this ginormous amount of time to write straight through. Once I'm in the zone, I hate stopping.

All the while I'd be moaning about how busy I was and how I deserved to sit on my lovely buns and watch M*A*S*H reruns with the few minutes of downtime I had.

It was a mess!

Now, I look at my day in total and think - If I cannot find 4 hours within 24 to write, I have issues.

And I can't admit to having issues, because I don't have time to go to therapy!

The most liberating part of this regiment is that I no longer feel the need to write for four, five or ten hours straight. If I do an hour and need to move on to something else - say cook dinner - I do.

No worries. I'll complete the other three hours later.

Another thing, I call it quits at 1:00 a.m. no matter what!

How this regiment will be impacted when I hit my next round of edits? Meh, I'll cross that bridge when I burn it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Master, thy name is Editor

Whenever my editor would send an email saying - Hey, your Ed letter and my editorial notes are on their way - I'd go into this low-grade panic that worked its way up to the screaming meme's by the time the Fed Ex arrived the next day.

The panic was, in part, due to the fact that I am somewhat of a control freak.

Shut up everyone who knows me and knows that "somewhat" is a gross understatement!

As I was saying, I have a few control issues. Yet, I found the editorial process to be an enlightening and humbling one. With each new page of insight I was astounded by my editor's level of detail.

My editor indicated that my manuscript was neither the manuscript that took up the most of her time nor the one that took up the least.

We got the edits done in two rounds, amounting to about six weeks.

So it was relatively painless.

I've come away from the process with the utmost respect for editors. And tonight, as I settled in for my required reading (ya know as part of the SKR), I also realized that editors absolutely must have an unending pool of love for books. They'd have to, to subject themselves to some of the inevitable not ready for prime time manuscripts that comes across their desks.

Call it an occupational hazard. But for every diamond in the rough there must be hundreds of really bad manuscripts.

There is nothing more distracting than...amateurish writing. And I'm only reading for pleasure.

I chose "amateurish" as opposed to "bad," because I think good and bad are subjective. But amateurish isn't quite as debatable.

You might be thinking - she acts like she's never read a bad book before. And the truth is, I haven't.

I've read books I didn't like before. But it's never been because the basics of writing were absent.

Usually I'm a loyalist. I have about a dozen or so authors that I read religioulsy. In addition, I try to read as many YA books by authors I've met in my Internet travels.

But the last six months I've ventured out. I've tried to broaden my horizons.

Man, I wish I'd never done that.

I've had several books on my shelf waiting to be read for a few months. I haven't made the time to read them until now.

But if I'm going to stay on the SKR, I'll need plenty of books. I read fast and can go through a book in a day if given the peace and quiet.

The book I'm reading, right now, would probably not be so bad if it had been picked and sliced apart then put back together again by a good editor.

A few key "writer do not's," consistently pop up within the writers, editors and agent blogs I frequent. But until tonight I'd never run across any of these "Do not's," in a book, because of that whole loyalist thing.

The writers I read are polished veterans.

Needless to say I've been spoiled!!!

This book has nearly every "Do not," mentioned. Which says two things:

One, one of the reasons there's such a vehement divide on the to self-pub or not self-pub issue, is because there are still too many self-published books on the market that need real work (my current reading included).

Those books take away from self-pubbed books that are as polished as any traditionally published novel. Self-publication does not and should not mean that you skimp on editorial services.

And for the record, this is not a POD book.

Two, there are still writers out there who are not following the fundamentals. So they bare repeating...

1) Just "Say" it stupid. By tagging dialogue with a simple "said," the tags almost disappear to the reader. When every other tag is a synoym for "said," its hella distracting.

2) Show me don't...let's say it together, tell me. It is tiring when a reader is told how characters are reacting to their world. At least it is for me. I need to be engaged and I can't be if the author is going to spell out every single emotion. For every "ly" (i.e. sadly, happily, peevishly) there's a more descriptive way to showcase emotions.

3) Listen up and then hear me. Redundant descrptions such as "whispered softly" or "stood up" aren't necessary. But they are distracting.

4) Leave the soliloquies to Shakespeare. There's this thing called backstory. We're allowed to use it to give the reader insight into how a character arrived, emotionally or physically, to the current point. When an entire backstory is explained in paragraph-long dialogue it brings us back to #2.

5) Learn the rules before you break them. When writing, if you're purposely breaking the basic rules of writing because you're a creative rebel or it's just your "style," remember your reader. A reader wants a good story. Period.

The basics aren't there to hinder your creativity. Embrace them.

And if you can't, by God find a good editor that will force you to!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Taking a shot at the SKR

Remember when being spontaneous was like, cool?

Okay, well when you have a family, work a full-time job, write on a semi full-time basis, and coach a cheer squad, spontaneity is only allowed when it's on the agenda.

But I've reached a fork in the road where my schedule feels completely and thoroughly out of control. I am no longer managing my schedule, it's managing me.

And finding the energy to write is becoming a chore.

I still enjoy writing, but dragging myself into the office to focus on it is becoming as hard to do as exercising.


Well, earlier today, I read some background on Stephen King and he was quoted as saying that, in order to be a good writer one should write four hours a day and read four hours a day.

Easy for him to say.

But I respect King, as a storyteller and fafillionaire author.

So, I've decided that I'm going to really, really...really, really make an effort to do what he suggests. I call it the Reading, Writing, Exercise diet AKA The Stephen King Regiment (The SKR).

Starting today I've inflicted a self-imposed boot camp type schedule on myself to ensure that I get in four hours of writing, two hours of reading (Sorry Steve. Some of us just aren't afforded four hours of that much quiet and alone time) and an hour of exercise.

Now, King said nothing about exercise and how it impacts one's ability to spin a yarn. But, I already knew I needed to get back to working out. So I threw that in for good measure.

I can't wait to see if I can actually do this.

Seriously, it will be a challenge of nearly epic proportions.

And honestly, in order to succeed, the only thing I can even think to cut out is sleep.

But I'm going to give it a serious try. If I can get myself in the frame of mind...and better yet, if I can get my family to understand that when I'm in the office I'm not just putzing around the Internet running off at the lips (fingers), these things could become as routine as eating and breathing.

We'll see.

Today, I managed two and half hours of writing and two hours of reading. Not bad considering today was a cheer practice day and I'm usually brain dead afterwards.

BTW, within that four hours of writing I'm allowing one hour for blogging and/or "free" writing, while the other three must be on WIPs or books on deadline.

Okay, folks, roll up those sleeves. This should be good.

I want my happy ending!

You know you're getting older when you:

*Cry at happy endings.

*Want everything to have a happy ending.

Cold Case and Without A Trace premiered, last night.

While Cold Case was sufficiently depressing - about rampage killers - Without A Trace had me hoping that everything would be all peaches and cream at the end. Or as peaches and cream a show can be when the topic at hand is missing children.

If you've ever watched Without A Trace, you know that happy endings aren't guaranteed and are, in fact, damn rare.

I realize that my need for happy endings won't be fulfilled very often watching shows like this. But I enjoy procedurals.

I know, I'm an enigma.

Lucky for me, Without A Trace did end in a happy ending. A double happy ending, no less. Both missing children were returned home and my eyes leaked with tears of joy.

I know it can't always be that way. Happy endings have their place.

That's why my sweet YA novels are happy ending incarnate. Because it feels like the right place for happy endings.

That doesn't mean that the endings are dripping with sickeningly sweet "they lived happy ever after" sentiments. But I believe in leaving things on an up beat.

It's good ju-ju.

Nothing's wrong with books revolved around serious, heavy and/or realistic subject matter. Those type of stories just aren't where my head is at, right now.

Besides, any author who's ever seen Misery thinks twice before killing off or badly maiming (literally or figuratively) a beloved character.

Imagine Kathy Bates standing over your bed calling you a pooty-poo or some such bizarre curseword with her sledghammer cocked to smash your ankles.

No thank you!

But I'd like the record to show that us happy ending lovers are not wusses. I prefer to think of us as...wish fulfillers. And, there's a difference between a happy ending and a fairy tale ending - thank you very much.

At the end of the day, I want my young readers to sigh dreamily and think, "Ahh, I wish that was me."

Simply put, reality is forever. Escaping into a world where there's a happy ending at the end of the rainbow is for only a short while.

Here's to everything being alright.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Myspace Creeps

I'm as free-spirited as the next guy when it comes to Myspace. Despite how creepy I first felt when friending a young person that might like my books, I think Myspace has potential to be a sweet networking tool.

Yet, it still gives me the creeps now and then.

Admitededly, it has flaws. Among them, the fact that bulletins are primarily used to spread eons old urban myths or wacky hoaxes.

Today, Princess A got a bulletin announcing that Ben Savage - the actor from that show, Boy Meets World, had died of a fatal accident.

When she told me, I thought it strange. I'm an entertainment junkie. I figured I would have seen it on Yahoo headlines or something. I read the bulletin over her shoulder - two things struck me as odd:

1) It said he died Sept. 16th. Well today is the 24th. By now, if it were true some media source would have confirmed it.

2) It said "fatal accident" but not specifically a car, bungee jumping or eaten by his pet spider type of accident. Just seemed too vague.

I told her to google it. And of course, it was a hoax.

So, yes, my number one Myspace pet peeve are the friggin' hoaxes. It's as if the thought to use the bulletins to spread real info like - Dude, party at my house in an hour - never crossed people's mind.

But the hoaxes are annoying, not creepy.

What can be, for me, is not knowing who to trust when approving a friend.

Myspace is pretty anonymous. Most of my friends are fellow writers and potential readers. I love networking with other writers. But the downside to this is that sharing the craft of writing in common is not necessarily enough, sometimes.

I'm an author of YA fiction and many of my Myspace friends are young girls. I can't just friend anyone and open my friend list to potential pervs and wackos.

If even half the people on Myspace are like me, they'll likely approve someone if they see that person on a trusted friend's page.

Ahhh...see what I'm getting at?

I once had this dude who had written a book in German friend me. On the surface, not a big deal. But ahh...if his book is in German how do I know what it's saying? It could be saying - Kill all the black writers whose name begin with P.

Boy would I look stupid being pal-sy with him.

I'm also frequently approached by writers of erotica. Some of them have tame sites. But some of them are damn near porn!

Again, for the sake of my young Myspace friends, I'm not comfortable at all with this.

And I know that most times, my friends are buried deep enough within my pages of fellow Myspacers that it may not make a difference. But, tweens and teens have way more time on their hands than I do.

If they have nothing else to do but peruse a few pages of friends, they could happen across some weird shit.

I'm especially creeped out by men who friend me. Not ALL men. But really random guys. It's obvious from my page that I'm 1) a writer and 2) a writer of girly YA.

So when some random guy friends me who isn't a fellow writer or the occasional band (since I'm listed under the bands) it freaks me out.

The ones I'm especially leery of are the men who are writers (or claim to be) and yet, from their page I can't really tell they're writers.

Let's keep it real, writers on Myspace are all about talking about their latest work, latest trial or trib in the biz or inquiring about how to go about getting published. So we're not hard to identify.

I'm totally not a prude.

I'm a fairly liberal parent. Neither Myspace, television or the radio are raising my kids. Me and the hubster are. So I don't freak about what Princess A may encounter. I'm there to help explain the scary, inappropriate and sometimes, just plain bizarre things she may come across in her web travels.

But, something about how casually people friend one another gets me.

Yes, yes, it's about networking.

Still, if you're an erotica author and your page has photos of a guy with his abs all oiled up and his hands down his you really think I want any of my cliquesters to come across your page through mine?

The answer would be, NO!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sucksville, Population: Me

My agent called with some not so good news today. Not of the manuscript rejection variety but not so good news that can negatively impact my immediate future.

Not so good news that makes me realize how little control writers have over the publishing process.

These kind of things can't be helped or avoided. It's part of the business.

The only good is that I have an agent that can guide me through.

But the situation reinforces:

* Being shy about promoting and marketing your book is walking the line of career suicide. Yes, I realize how strong a reference that is. But too much can happen during a book's journey from concept to book store, if you're not going to be your book's most vocal champion don't expect anyone else to be.

* You can do everything "right" as a writer: get a good agent, stay active in the process, educate yourself about publishing and promotion, make your story tight, etc...and still, shit happens.

* Worrying about the shit that can inevitably happen is counterproductive.

* A good agent is priceless. For those who are skeptical of an agent solely because they don't like the idea of parting with 15% forever and ever amen, find another reason. Good agents earn that 15% plus some.

Later (tomorrow, next week, two months from now...who knows)I'll look back on today as another footnote in the chapter of my debut. Today, I've got a pity party to own.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can I get some?

Diddy, Diddy, Diddy. Man, I want to be like you when I grow up.

That whole multi-million dollar hip hop empire is a good look. But that's not why I want to be like you.

I want people to blow smoke up my ass and tell me how great my books are even if in the back of their mind they're thinking - Chick is trippin'. This book is not all that!

I mean what do I care if my books are any good as long as people buy them. Right?

Note the sarcasm.

I have a serious love/hate thing going with Diddy. He's a young-ish (he's my age and I cringe at still referring to my thirty-something self as young) hip-hop entrepreneur doing his thing.

He created Bad Boy and Sean John, turned them into internationally known brands and has now branched off to fragrances.

And while he didn't create the re-mix, he certainly was the originator of both hollering "This is the re-mix," and heavily sampling hot tracks to make a newer hot track.

To boot, Diddy has had some serious talent in his stable. Biggie, Craig Mack, Total, Mase - all hit makers. Longevity? No. And I blame that primarily on Diddy. But that's a rant for a different post.

Despite their short-lived success, all of them spun a hot track into the musicsphere(or in Biggie's case a few dozen) under Diddy's tutelage.

Diddy's contributions to pop culture and his abilities to put the flash in an artists' track aren't up for debate, here. The quality of his music AND the mysterious motivation behind VJs and DJs alike to blow up a Diddy track, despite the music's solid mediocreness, is.

No matter how hard I try to blow it off, I can't help being annoyed when people overstate the quality of Diddy's music.

Are they getting his music confused with his prowess for producing hot tracks for others? Are they taking it easy on him because his golden touch extends beyond music and thus it's best to tip-toe around the things he doesn't do quite as well?

What am I missing?

Let's sketch out the facts:

Diddy's never claimed to be a vocalist...or even a rapper. He knows better.

His claim to musical fame is making people dance.

Okay, I'm with it, so far. I've shaken my butt to a few Diddy tracks. Come to Me, off his latest CD, Press Play, isn't bad. Rump shaker-worthy, no doubt.

Here's where I get lost...I've heard a few other joints off the CD and I'm telling you - it's not all that. Is one hot dance track enough to send a CD platinum or gold?

If so, I'm telling you, I have chosen the wrong profession!

Hear what I'm saying - I am not blaming people for buying Diddy's CDs. To each his own and all that blah. If you like Diddy's music enough to buy it, cool.

My beef is with the industry people. The tastemakers as it were. VJs, and DJs who beat their chops about who's hot and who's not.

We all know how subjective hotness is. But we're also more likely to take a closer look at a product if someone we "trust" gives it their hotness stamp.

Why P, are you ranting? Poor Diddy is just trying to build some buzz and move some units when the album drops.

But, I can't help it. This morning, Diddy was in the studio with Donnie Simpson of WPGC and Donnie was blowing Diddy up like his stuff was golden.

No, I don't expect Donnie to be like, Dude, this track is wack. But did he have to gush?

And I swear, I'm not hating. I told you, I'm from the live and let live school when it comes to music. But I hate when radio (or TV) forces something to be what it's not.

WPGC played three tracks and Donnie ramped up his review with every single. It went from "that's hot," to "Man, that last track was amazing."

The track with Christina Aguilera - generic and not a butt-moving groove at all. Even Xtina's sultry vocals didn't boost the song's playability.

Track 12, Something Special, was aiight, mainly because it samples Prince. But it wasn't "amazing".

On one hand, I can't be mad at Diddy. This is his fifth or sixth album in ten years. He's doing something right.

On the other hand, with the sea of aspiring music artists ever swelling, it's always hard to watch one boat sail so successfully while so many others sink into the abyss.

The publishing industry is no different.

Some of us writers will sail comfortably in a private Bay of loyal readers. Some of us will sink to the depths of Davey Jones' locker and some of us will find a readership as vast as the ocean is deep.

Ain't art a bitch?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Studio 60...I likes, I likes!

Any show that starts out with a rant from Judd Hirsch (loved Taxi!) and a spotlight on writers (even though they’re not novelists –darnit, when do we get our break?) is alright with me.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip was pretty good. And I usually hate watching pilots.

I make it a point to miss the pilot of just about any show. They’re never as good as the show’s potential. Half the time I wish they’d can the pilot and start from the fifth episode. But I enjoyed Studio 60.

Maybe because it’s about thirty-somethings mid-career. Not like I can relate…okay, I can totally relate!

I watch a lot of programming where the average age of the actor is about 23. So yeah, it’s cool seeing a show where the actors involved may actually remember when Saturday Night Live (the type of show Studio 60 is based on) was hilarious and not just begging for laughs and inconsistently funny.

Matthew Perry, thanks to a half dozen or so mediocre movies like Fools Rush In and The Whole Nine Yards, is quite believable in a drama. Or is it a dramedy? These days it’s hard to tell.

His face is post-rehab doughy and slightly distracting. Remember how spooky skinny he got after going into rehab that last season or so of Friends? Well, not anymore. Outside of that, I’m totally buying him as a struggling writer looking for break-through success.

Amanda Peet as the new network President is a nice twist. Female prez, doing her thing. Though…someone help me out. If she’s the President and Steven Weber was the Chairman, how come he seemed not even slightly powerful?

My favorite line, and the one which made me question Weber's strength, was Amanda Peet's response to Weber's "It's my balls on the line."

HER: "I can count on one hand the number of people here who are even slightly interested in your balls."

Oh sure, his comeback was something along the lines of "Yeah well...I'm the there!"

Okay, so he didn't say that. But his response was equally as weak.

They wrestled back and forth for the upper hand, the entire ep, and he never had a chance!

Face it, she de-balled him. Unless he cracks some serious whip, he's a figurehaed in my eyes from here on in.

I’m definitely tuning in next week.

Oh, but for the record – I’m not happy at all about Medium being moved. It was moved because of Studio 60, which is enough reason for me to hold a grudge against the show.

I could. But I won’t.

Obviously, NBC is trying hard to make a comeback and become relevant to television again. They’ve finally figured out that Celebrity Fear Factor is not the way to bring in huge numbers!

They've moved Medium to Sundays and me no likey!

In case anyone at NBC is listening – my Tuesdays are booked with Dancing with the Stars and Nip/Tuck; Wednesdays will be completely absorbed by America’s Next Top Model and Project Runway, which leaves Thursday.

Yes, Thursdays look good if you wanna reconsider sticking Medium there.

Permission granted!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Mad respect to 24

I've never seen it. But I hear that 24 is a great show. I've been meaning to watch it and Prison Break. I just haven't gotten around to it.

However, I know enough about the show to know that crazy mad action takes place in a 24-hour period.

Which, by the way, is insanity.

It's also the epitome of action adventure - cars blowing up, people being kidnapped, and the world on the brink of war all before breakfast. If the life of a secret service person were truly like that we'd have to pay them millions of dollars a year. And the career span of individuals in the SS would be like, a month!

The merits of the show's action adventurism isn't what amazes me. The tiny details that the show's producers and writers must tend to does.

Keeping in mind that Jack Bauer is going through all of these trials in one day, how in the world do they keep the wardrobe fresh? Or pay attention to things like time of day or season. After all, they aren't actually filming it all in one day.

As I go over my copy edits, the reality of managing the details of 24 comes to mind.

Man, I have A LOT of little details that must be kept consistent from DRAMA to TWISTED. More than I realized.

There's the name of the school's concession stand. True, it may not make another appearance until book three or thirty-five...but I still need to call it the same thing and describe it the same way.

There are the names of several incrdibly minor charcters who round out the student body.

The name and description of one character, who was minor in DRAMA but may play a larger role in TWISTED.

There are catchphrases and little inside jokes between the best friends that I made up on the fly and now need to incorporate to keep their clique-language unique to them.

Oh my God. What was I thinking?

24 has a whole staff of people to keep them straight. But, it's just me trying to keep up with the details of the DRB.

If someone mistakenly puts Keifer Sutherland in a blue plaid shirt for a scene, despite the fact that the entire season he's been wearing blue and white gingham...heehee...the thought of Keifer in gingham cracks me up.

Anyway, but I'm saying, that's a huge mistake. But how many people are in wardrobe to catch such a thing before the man walks on set? And if they happen to miss it (they'll get fired) someone in production will catch it.

Hell, Keifer might even say, "Dude, where's the gingham shirt?"

Who, I ask you? Who will catch my series' faux pas? And my editor and the copy editor at Kensington don't count. I meant before the mss gets that far!

Creating a pretend world with not so pretend details is a challenge. I have a newfound respect for shows like 24 that make it look easy.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Still hot for DRAMA

There was a point where the love affair was over. Where reading another version of So Not The Drama was unbearable.

At one point, I wondered how I'd muddle through school visits or author panels and still talk about the book as if I loved it.

How can you do that when you're so over something?

But reading through the copy edited version of DRAMA, I realize I still love this story and this book very much.

I know I'm supposed to be paying attention to the editing marks and keeping an eye out for any typos/errors - as if I could catch something the CE didn't. So far the edits are thorough - but I find myself getting caught up in the story.

It's not vanity or any delusions that I'm the greatest writer since...well, fill-in-the-blank. I just really like this story.

Now that the major edits are over and I'm able to read it without fear of running into one of my editor's commands to "STOP! doing that," I'm enjoying what DRAMA has become.

It's funny to see its growth.

It's not perfect. Nothing as subjective as writing ever could be, in my opionin. Yet, this last and final version is so different from its first or even its tenth.

Knowing where it came from, I'm pleased with where the characters are going and what they're saying. Even more fulfilling, seeing how my editor's insight helped enhance the direction and the characters' personalities.

On one hand, I'm shy about admitting so publicly how in love I am with the story. Inevitiably, there are going to be critics. They may look at this blog entry and think me foolish for loving this or that about the book.

Maybe I am.

Then again, what person in love isn't a fool?

Friday, September 15, 2006

Let there be light!

I just received my manuscript with copy edits (CEs).

Man, the size of this baby never ceases to amaze me. I'm still somewhat dumbfounded about how this big pile of pages will one day become a small book under twenty pounds!

Ahh, but anyway...last week, the discussion of Series Bibles arose.

And no, I haven't added any new, ahem, scripture to mine. During that discussion, Bev Katz Rosenbaum, author of I was a Teenage Popsicle, got my hopes high. She said, that when she received her CEs a tiny packet came along that outlined all of her characters, different locations, nicknames etc...

I thought, Ooooo I want one!!

Well, I got one!!!


Sorry. Got a little bananas with the exclamation points.

Apparently, Copy Editors are like Organizational Gods. They take all the minutae that writers create (then run away from, as soon as we finish writing)and put it in a neat little format to tell you when throughout the mss those things are mentioned.


Do you understand how long I've been putting off doing such a thing?

I wrote So Not The Drama in 2003. Three years later, as far as my sketch of the world of Del Rio Bay has gone is to include the names of the characters, the nabe they were from, their parents name, parents occupations and a small blurb on the plot line they were involved.

I wrote the book and yet, when I was doing revisions I still had to pause - hell, who am I kidding?

Not just pause. I had to scan the mss to find out the answer to things like the color of one of the main character's eyes or to remember what I named the street another character lived.

I'll spare the whining about how hard keeping track of all that is. But, I'll openly admit I've been slacking on this very necessary task.

So, it goes without saying that my editor is the shiggity. I mean, who else besides her and my agent would deal with my neuroses?

But, I've learned something new: Copy Editors Rock!

Sequels vs. Series

Don't laugh. It was only in February that I realized there was a difference between a series of books and books that are merely sequels.

If you're reading this like, Huh?, then you're probably like me.

A) It never really crossed my mind that there was a difference until I attended Francine Pascal's, How to Write A Series workshop.

B) Anytime a book has the same characters, I call it a series. Even if there are only three books in that series.

To me, a series is a minimum of two books revolved around the same characters. Granted, it's a mini series...but a series of two books, all the same.

I knew Sweet Valley High was a series. But I wasn't aware that Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants isn't. It's a book with two sequels.

Or would that be a sequel and a trequel?


I've always thought of my Del Rio Bay Clique books as a series. True, only two of them exist right now. But, in my mind I envision many. Heck, even following the kids to college, maybe. Who knows!

It seems by Francine Pascal's definition, my books are a series:

*A series must be many books

*The books must always have the same characters living in the same fictional "world" but may not necessarily revolve around the same two main characters each book

*Must weave in information and characters from past books

*Should pick up where the last book left off - that my books are a series.

Well, mine fits except that many books thing.

Wait. It gets more confusing.

She also said that while Sisterhood wasn't a series (because there are only three? not sure) that Harry Potter could be defined as one...but not necessarily so.

Isn't HP four books? Or is it five? That's definitely a series to me.

Oy Vey!

The truth is, the lines are completely blurred.

Being that Francine Pascal is just about the Queen of the teen lit series book, I ain't arguing with her definition. But, I think her definition hinges largely upon intention.

Pascal writes propsals that outline every aspect of the characters, the setting and the various storylines. She then sells this comprehensive outline (not a book, but an outline) to a publisher/book packager.

So right out of the gate, there are plans for 10-100 books or however many in the series.

Where, with my own books, Kensington purchased two. Hopefully they'll buy many more. But for now, we know there's an original and a sequel.

It seems that the distinction between series and sequels may be more grounded in business than the creative end of writing.

As authors, we're conditioned to focus on that first book and get it done. It's okay to keep the phrase, "And I believe there's potential for a series with this book," at the ready. But most first-timers are discouraged from being married to the series case it isn't bought.

I learned, at this workshop, that since the days of Sweet Valley, Francine Pascal has primarily focused on proposing and selling concepts for series. She didn't say definitively how many of the books she writes herself. But I got the impression that she may only write the first (if any) in the series and that's it.

Her forte is coming up with great series ideas which are then authored by ghostwriters.

Good thing. What writer could churn out a book a month or three times a year without going absolutely nutsy fagen?

Gossip Girls, A-List and The Clique are also intentional series.

But all series aren't necessarily intentional are they?

Don't some books end up being a series because the original or second took off and the publisher ordered up more?

Isn't that how HP was born?

These are the parts of the industry I'm still learning.

Until I'm certain, maybe I need to just think about my books being an original, a sequel, trequel, fourquel, fivequel and so on...

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Wanna Make Something of It?

Alright look, I love Jesse McCartney's new single, Right where you want me.

I liked it immediately the first time I heard it, a few weeks ago. As I was nodding my head to it, I said to Princess A, "Who is that? Aaron Carter?"

Princess A: (obligatory roll of the eyes): Jesse McCartney, ma.

ME: Whatever. They're the same to me.

Princess A: (sucking her teeth): Oh my God, Aaron Carter hasn't had a song in so long.

Keeping in mind that in an 11 year-old's mind, "so long" could be six months, I let the convo go.

Aaron, Jesse, whatever, I love this joint!

The accoustic guitar and pop-y vocals have me dancing and singing along like no one's looking. And you know you really like a song when you don't mind shouting into your air mic in front of people.

The reason the blog title is so defensive is because I could get my Music Lover card stripped for this. People are hard on pop music. Be it pop rock, pop hip hop or pop R&B, some people hate the very existence of pop because its mass production goes against music purists' vision of "real" music.

But pop exists in every genre. It ain't going nowhere!

I like pop music.

What of it?

I like all genres of music, as my Totally iPodable list shows.

I don't bother to understand why I like a song. When it touches me, I just go with it. Chalk it up to growing up on MTV circa 1983 when all the channel showed were rock vids and eventually pop videos.

Hip Hop didn't make its debut on MTV until my senior year in high school. By then I already had a soft spot in my heart for pop music.

I mean, it's music. If it moves your butt, makes you tap your foot, or has you belting out the hook even though you know your voice sends the neighborhood dogs into a frenzy - then it's good music to YOU.

And yes, there are some songs I'm hard on. I'm not a fan of anything by Ashanti. Ashanti fans, don't bother to defend her. My mind's made up.

Her voice is thin and she has no real identity. Some songs she looks and sounds like Aaliyah. Some it's Alicia Keys. Some it's Beyonce. Find a style and go with it, for crimminisakes!

Oh and she's dating my boy, Nelly. Yes, I'm hatin'!

Still, for the most part, I'm from the live and let live school.

I stay away from music I don't like and keep the ones I do on crazy repeat mode on the iPod.

Anyone else wanna admit they love the delicious taste of a little bubble gum pop?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Twisted Sister

Okay, how many people thought this post referred to my mental state?

Well, you'd be...wrong! I'm talking about the sister to So Not The Drama, Don't Get it Twisted.

Now that my eddy has said the first two chapters are aiight, I need to ::gulp:: finish the rest. So, after a few weeks of shushing them, I'm letting the voices in my head speak freely. Letting my mind wander as I drive (on the whole, I don't recommend this). In other words, I'm preparing for a freefall back into the world of Del Rio Bay.

Have I ever said before that each time I sit down to write, it's like the first time? Because it is. It so is.

When I discovered, what I'll call Blank Page Syndrome (BPS), it dismayed me. I thought once I'd tapped into my creative senses they'd remain on a steady boil at my beck and call whenever I needed a steaming cup of inspiration.

Come to find Wish they'd told me that in the brochure on "Becoming a Writer." I might have reconsidered and tried out for American Idol instead. Well, except I can't sing.

Now, when I'm tasked with a new book - or in the case of TWISTED - major story overhaul of Mina's plot points, I'm finding myself having to literally talk myself back into the world of my characters. It is NOT as easy as just sitting down and writing.

Oh, wait, correction. It is that easy if I'm okay with writing crap!

But since Kensington is not likely to be intersted in a bunch of wandering drivel, my mind needs to be in a certain place to write well.

I know. I know. You're thinking, stop yer whining P. It's not like the pages are totally blank. You have a full mss to go off of.

And that's true.

But once upon a time, not so long ago, I was afraid I wouldn't sell what I wrote. Now, I'm afraid I can't write what they've bought.


On second thought, Twisted Sister does describe my mental state. Pardon me, while I go insane.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

CONTEST: Schools in...let the Drama begin!

P has shared her inner most secrets, desires and random thoughts all over the 'net.

Now, it's your turn!

Were you dumped? Did a teacher embarrass you? Were you benched right before an important game because of grades? Whatever it was, let me (and my blog readers) in on your drama.

If school is good for nothing (besides education) it's good for juicy drama-bits. Well, share. Share!

Whenever you see a Paula's Jort TOO or P's Myspace blog post titled:

CONTEST: School's In...let the drama begin!

post your most drama-filled school story in the comment section of the blog. My fave story will be that week's winner!

A few minor details, or as some call them, contest rules:

* It has to be true! It's the honor system, so I'm trusting you'll feed me your best REAL-life drama stories.

*Keep your story to 250 words or less.

*The contest will run more than once. So, remember, anytime you see the blog post CONTEST: School's In...let the drama begin!, share your drama in the comments section of that post.

*Enter as many drama stories as you want...I might take pity on you and choose you as winner just 'cause you have the most drama in your life.

*If you post as anonymous, put some sort of name at the end of your comment. That way if you win, I can call you out for you to send me your email addy.

It's a contest, so of course there are prizes!

I can't win, but I'll go first.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Amazon, my Amazon

Guess what?!

SO NOT THE DRAMA is available for pre-order on Amazon. Do you know what this means? Yes, yes, it means you can BUY SO NOT THE DRAMA today! And yes, it means that March is nearing.

But what it really means is...I'm now able to obsess over something new: my Amazon ranking!!

Who cares if the ranking is hard to understand? That it makes no sense since it ebbs and flows whether you have a single sale or a thousand?

DRAMA has taken yet another step on its way to bookstores and I can add one more thing to the list of things I can check, worry about or otherwise waste time over instead of writing. Oops, did I say that out-loud?

Shout-out to Laurel for the Amazon link sighting! Good looking out, girl.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Horror wha?

You know the old joke - the reason black people aren't in horror movies is because we never stop to check out "what was that?" if we hear a loud noise or ask, "dude, who is that?" when we see a stranger chasing us with an axe.

Basically, the movie would be over in like ten minutes because all that "investigating" would not occur!

The sterotype is funny (well, to me) because, there's a little truth in it.

Seriously, as a kid (and my daughter's friends are the same way) in my nabe, if someone started running you started running too. You didn't stop to ask what you were running from until you were out of breath and a safe distance away from the supposed danger.

Yet, if I were around a group of mostly white friends and the exact same thing happened, I'd be half way down the street after the first person started running while the rest of my friends were standing there kibbitzing about "what's wrong? what is it?"

But, all good sterotypes must come to an end (some we wish would end sooner than others). And as life would have it, color lines are blurring all over the place as pop culture brings the generations and races together. Yay!

I've been invited to screen Holla, an urban horror film. It hits theatres December 1st.

The trailer is campy. But um...aren't most horror movies?

I'm psyched for this. Because, truthfully, what will be more fun than watching the filmmaker turn the stereotype of how black people react to danger around, play with it, exxagerate it and poke fun at it?

And just so you know, to this day, if you start running I'm right on your heels. We can talk about why you're running later!

I'm working...I swear!

Okay, so I haven't written any major passages for TWISTED in...two weeks. I was waiting on my editor's feedback.

FYI, I'm never one to work harder vs. smarter. When there's feedback in the wings, it makes no sense to create passages that could very well change based on her input.

Or so I tell myself.

Still, even without new books to write or old books to revise, I'm fast learning that there's always work to be done related to the book(s). This week, I've written a synopsis for TWISTED, created my author's page for Amazon and started things rolling with my virtual street team.

What's fascinating is that if I go into the office and get on the PC, unless I say explicitly that I'm writing - everyone assumes I'm goofing off. And if I'm goofing off, well then it must be okay for the Princesses to have a shouting match right outside of my door or for the hubster to holler upstairs "what ya' doing? how come you're not down here?"

Don't get me wrong. I do my fair share of slacking. I stop past my favorite blogs. I check into the writers' forums to see if there's any good industry scoop or helpful writing hints. And I shoot off a few personal emails. All things which qualify as "goofing" off in some respect because each diverts my attention, if only for a few minutes, from writing.

But its like a person taking a 10 minute break to talk to a co-worker, nothing more.

Blog entries and myspace housecleaning - not goofing off. Gotta promote the book some kind of way don't I?

Checking the 2K7 Yahoo group or forum- not goofing off. We're off to a good start and it takes lots of touching base to keep 25 debut authors on the same page (no pun intended).

Answering emails from my editor, agent or webmaster - not goofing off. These three ladies are at the core of my progress.

Paying bills and balancing the checkbook - definitely not goofing off.

It happens that I'm a multi-tasker. So I mix those five things in with the goofing off. So it may be hard for the untrained eye to distinguish.

But now, I can announce to the household "I'm writing!" because my eddy just got back to me with the sweetest email this side of "SOLD!"

The heading said "TWISTED Chapter" and the email body said simply, "was the bomb!"

See, I told you. I must have gotten some work done at some point. So there!

Now, off to make these other chapters equally as bomb-tastic.

Keep your fingers crossed, light a candle and send up a prayer. These things don't happen on their own.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


The Nip/Tuck season premiere was tonight!

And the show never ceases to shock me.

Each season, I marvel at what F/X gets away with. The soft-core sex scenes, the cursing, the over-the-top scenarios. Free TV can't get more outrageous than this show. Pushing the limits is the name of their game.

I've missed it! God help me, I've missed it.

One of the reasons I jumped off the Will & Grace bandwagon was their guest star revoling door. The show became so focused on what celeb would wind up stumbling and bumbling with the W&G cast that it was distracting.

Oh, and I hated the whole Harry Connick Jr. marries Grace thing.

Well, Nip/Tuck began the guest star rhumba about a season and a half ago. When I saw that they were having not one but two celeb appearances, tonight, I foolishly muttered, If they keep this up, I'm not watching this season.

I should have known better.

Nip/Tuck isn't like most shows. Guest stars are usually a cosmetic surgery patient. So it's not like Will & Grace where the whole point of the show is to breathlessly await the guests' appearance.

Nip/Tuck guests are often in need of the most wacky surgeries - last season, Joan Rivers requested a face transplant (I think) and Larry Hagman wanted new...errr...gonads.

The surgey storylines get you so caught up, you almost forget the patient is a, famous in a previous life actor.

All I can say about tonight's guests is:

Wow, Kathleen Turner has gained a lot of weight!

Larry Hagman was looking old as dirt.

And Sanaa Lathan was a breath of fresh air. Boo on the show's summary for not mentioning her appearance.

Tonight was promising. I'm ready for the wild ride.

Series Bible...Amen

As I was strolling through my regular blog reads today, a mention of the series bible on Diana Peterfreund's blog caught my eye and got me thinking (watch out!).

From the start I've felt the need for a series bible to help me keep track of all the Del Rio Bay Clique tid bits, plot points etc... While I have a very thin outline of sorts, it is no way even close to a bible.

At this year's SCBWI Mid-Winter, there was a workshop on Writing The Series. The speaker was Francine Pascal, Queen of the YA series and creator of Sweet Valley High. I and many of the participants, that day, thought Francine was going to talk about the actual writing of series books - techniques, tricks of the trade. Instead, she focused more on writing a proposal for a series and how to sell a series idea to an editor.

It wasn't exactly what we came for, but interesting all the same.

She talked about the importance of a series bible and had her Sweet Valley High bible along for show n' tell. Needless to say, this bad boy was thick!

I really, NEED a series bible. The world of Del Rio Bay has way more details than my head can maintain. From the color of a character's eyes to their general personality traits, a bible should cover A to Z what makes this world and its characters tick.

But I must confess, organizing, filing and listing are my downfall.

Rather than file, I keep things in piles around my desks. To the hubster's utter annoyance!

I have a file cabinet. And there are files in it. But there are also dozens of files around it.

I'm not unorganized. Quite the opposite. But I tend to keep a lot of my details in my head vs. in written format.

I'll start lists and never finish them. Or, I'll write the thought down as it hits me and forget which of my two notebooks I placed it. God forbid it's not in the notebook at all, but on some scrap sheet of paper.

I'm exasperated with myself. I'm so much more organized mentally than I am physically.

A bible is the perfect tool for a Type A creature like myself. But I'm very un-Type A when it comes to getting it done. I'm more likely to pay someone to do this for me, a method someone on Diana's blog mentioned. I really like that idea.

My real weakness, and why I've yet to sit down to create a true series bible, is I become bored with things, quickly.

I outlined the characters of my series, before I ever wrote a sentence. But the book has grown so much since then and I haven't updated that outline, yet.

I've attempted the series bible...but the second I have to do the research (review the manuscript to match details and info) I'm like - Okay, I'll get back to that...I need to do blah, blah, blah right now.

There's always a million other things that need my attention. It's not hard to find something else that legimately requires my immediate action.

So the bible remains a few pages of scattered info about each character with essential meat missing from its skeleton.

Of course, Diana's mention of the bible has pushed me to the guilt phase. That's where I obsess over what I should be doing rather than actually doing the damn thing.

Who knows, maybe I'll get some done this week....except, I have a few edits due on TWISTED.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Go 'Canes!!

It's Game DAY!!!!!!

The hubster and I have been very calm, all day. But as eight o' clock nears, the fangs are coming out. We're talking a little more trash with every second.

Although the 'Noles have not beat Miami at Miami in a good six years or more, I'm still nervous.

But this will not stop me from motoring off at the mouth these next two hours.

Let's go 'Canes!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

When good BLURBS go bad

First of all, I didn't buy Scott Smith's The Ruins because of a blurb. So in no way am I claiming to have been misled into a hardback purchase because the Master of Horror, himself, indicated that The Ruins was "your basic long scream of horror."

Ooooo...hold up. Had to dab at the drool. I love the prospect of a good horror story.

But those words weren't were what prompted me to get Smith's book. It was a very small, easily missed mention in Elle magazine, on one of those Top 10 lists or Things that are Hot. Amazing how a few lines can turn your head.

I believe it was a whole 10 word sentence that said something to the effect "American tourists vist Mexican ruins and everything goes to hell." Or someththing like that. It really picqued my interest.

My mind was made up. I was getting the book.

When I caressed my copy and saw King had blurbed The Ruins, my enthusiasm was reinforced. I consumed the book in 24-hours. Actually less. And...well, it was a good book. But it didn't live up to the hype of the blurbs.

This concerns me for two reasons:

1. What if something like this happens to me?!?! What if some really cool author blurbs my book. Then someone picks it up because of said blurb, reads DRAMA and is like, wasn't all that.

The disappointment I feel, right now, in The Ruins has me feeling more than a wee bit self-conscious.

2. Dang it, I was really really hoping The Ruins would live up to the blurbs! I was seriously hyped for it to rock me.

I walked away feeling like I do when I see a movie based on a book, slightly let down. I kept waiting for the chills or the ecstasy that comes with having a blurb fulfilled.

Although, I think The Ruins may be one of the few books that easily can become a super cool movie. In particular here are the portions of the blurbs that built my expectation and inevitably left me empty (spoiler alert: content below may reveal plot points):

King said "Smith intends to scare the bejabbers out of you, and succeeds."

JMO, but I felt like the story took too long to get to the scaring my bejabbers away. And, if I'm being brutally honest...well, it never did.

King said, "It does for Mexican vacations what Jaws did for New England beaches..." That movie Open Water? Now THAT, does for island vacations what Jaws did for N.E. beaches. But, in Smith's book, the people's vacation was actually going pretty durn smoothly until they left for the ruins. And it's not like they went on some innocent hike and things went all crazy, which can happen to anyone and is a scary thought. No, the characters went pretty far out of their way before trouble struck. How many of us plan to do that on vacation?

Carol Memmott, of USA Today said, "What Stephen King did for cars with Christine and for dogs with Cujo, Smith does for creepy foliage." see, there was the line that really had me salivating. I've ready 99% of King's work, Christine and Cujo among them. And let me tell you, King is the master of taking the most innocent person, place or thing and turning it into something that can send you screaming into the night.

So, that line by Memmott was the clincher for me, and ultimately why I ended up so disappointed.

King has this way of weaving a story together full of plenty of backstory. The reader is rarely left wondering "why?" the evil person, place or thing was evil.

Cujo caught rabies from a cave ful of bats. Christine was owned by a pedophile or some such sick bastard.

It's the backstory that pulls you in and allows you to read the rest of a King horror with a sense of satisfaction that you know something the characters don't. And, yeah, it's a little sick, but you take some perverse joy in knowing why they're being terrorized.

Smith never, ever tells us the origin of the evil foliage. And damn if it didn't leave me angry.

Where had these strange vines come from? Why did they enjoy feasting on people? How come they were so darn smart? How, honestly, were they contained to this one large hill in the middle of nowhere?

I kept waiting and waiting for this nugget of info to be revealed. The closest Smith ever got amounted to about a paragraph of dialogue, which revealed nothing since the characters had no way of knowing how the vines came to be the man-eating creatures they were.

I'm not hating on this book. I wanted it to be a thrill ride. I wanted to be scared. I wanted to walk away with a new author in my arsenal of "Must read, do not pass go when their next book comes out."

And, to clear the record, I'm not comparing Smith to King.

I like for authors to stand on their own and not mimic another author. I didn't want Smith to be King. However, having been nurtured on King's horror, I'm hard to please...I suddenly realize.

No bitterness on my part. How one feels about a book is subjective. King and I just have to agree to disagree on The Ruins.

I just wish I could get rid of this sense of longing for the answers. Someone give me backstory on these vines so I can sleep at night!

Saturday, September 02, 2006

It's my party...and I'll read if I want to!

Today's my birthday.

Please, no need to fawn over me. I'm a Virgo. We're mild mannered celebrants, who neither demand or even much like for people to make over our birthdays. Seriously. I know quite a few Virgos of the same mind.

We're not like a certain zodiac sign, which shall remain nameless, who will announce to the heavens, "My birthday's coming! Everyone stop and pay homage to me." To which, you'll look at the calendar like, "Dude, it's still two months away."

On my birthday, all I've ever wanted (and asked for) is peace, quiet and alone time. Oh and a delish cut of an expensive steak accompanied by copious amounts of fermented grapes.

Upon reflection, the request for peace and quiet, may stem more from me being a lonely only than a Virgo. Nonetheless, I rarely get said time alone and figure my birthday is the perfect time to demand it. At least it's the only time I may actually get it.

So, in honor of the P'sters bon anniversaire, I went out and purchased three books. The Ruins by Scott Smith, Queen of Cool by Cecil Castellucci and Adios to my old life by Caridad Ferrar. The original plan involved purchasing four books. But Ally Carter's book, I'd Tell You I love You...wasn't in stock (go Ally!).

As Ernesto knocks down my door (well he's come and gone now), I plan to cuddle with my books and read myself into a cocoon of make-believe.

It may seem like a pretty boring way to spend a birthday, to some. For me, it's bliss.

I'm chomping at the bit to read The Ruins. And once I crack that baby open, all bets are off. I may not come up for air until I finish.

Hmm...pretty cool way to lose weight, come to think of it. A 48-hour reading fast.

A fast that actually cannot begin until after my very expensive steak dinner.

Happy birthday, to me!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Growing up MTV

Scary is the world where Christina Aguilera is fully dressed and Britney Spears is chasing after her juvenile delinquent infant for the sake of a skit (foreshadowing?).

Yes, world, MTV is ::gasp:: growing up.

The pop stars it revolved its success are married with children and MTV's original loyal viewers, those who grew up consuming it hungrily each day, are nearing forty.

Scary, but true.

MTV quietly turned twenty-five years old, a few weeks ago. The milestone arrived without the network's normal fanfare, because it's attempting to avoid aging like I'm waging war with my gray, plucking at the pesky white hairs that refuse to stop popping up.

Guess what?

Me and MTV are both losing our battles.

The only difference is, I've made peace with getting older AND I make it look good. Anyone daring to speak otherwise better be ready to throw bows if I catch 'em.

This year's VMA's, stilted, gimmicky and rife with weird production glitches, were akin to my first sign of gray - visible evidence that you cannot avoid the inevitable.

But, seriously, it's nothing to panic over.

MTV is getting older. The sooner they accept this, the faster they can get over it and move on. And the faster they'll get back to innovating.

Last night, it felt like MTV was working so hard to be the cool kid, they ended up coming off sweaty, awkward and reeking of the sort of desperation that comes when a person is trying too hard to draw attention to themselves.

If MTV has to work to stay relevant to young people, it'll fail. But as long as the network continues to feature today's hottest music, it will be relevant to young people and...hold your hats, some not so young.

The VMAs were especially disappointing because they've been a part of my regular viewing pool for a long time. VMAs are always either on or very near my birthday. It signals the end of summer and the dawn of a new school year.

Me, the King and Princess A were all excited about watching the awards. And that's cool that MTV and music, in general, serves to bridge a gap between Gen X (that's me and the hubster) and Gen M (my daughter).

But the jokes that fell flat (and there were many!), the odd silences that often followed between the introduction of an act and the actual performance and the lack of rabid fan noise which usually overshadows the winners' thank you's made for one of the most painful viewing experiences ever.

Where was the spontaneity? The scandalous? The genuine moments of coolness?

I mean other than the last five minutes, when the crazy dude swiped the mic before Panic at the Disco could give their acceptance speech?

I refuse to believe that old age is setting in, making MTV an old fogey.

Getting older doesn't have to mean out of touch and boring. What it should mean is having enough experience to know what works, what doesn't and what would be out-of-the-box enough to wow both the old school and the nu.

Look, I'm going to blame the lackluster three and a half hours solely on who ever put this year's VMA's together. Maybe they need to retire.

I'm willing to wait, patiently, for next year's show when MTV better get back to pioneering great moments in award show history.

Hey, MTV! Stop worrying about the gray hairs. It's nothing a little swagger and some hair dye won't remedy.

Sidenote: it wasn't all bad...

The Good

* The show was back in NYC

* Uncle L (Cool J, that is) presenting. Mmmmm! His dimples will never go out of style.

* The The OK Go performance was cool. Don't be mad at the lip syncing. You try hop scotching on a moving treadmill!

* BEP for winning Hip Hop Video. Usually the Black Eyed Peas aren't considered Hip Hop and pfffttt on everyone who wants to narrowly define the genre.

* K-Fed didn't perform.

* Hype Williams getting his grown man on (no more dreads)and getting the Vanguard award

* Beyonce's performance (B has mad flexibility).

* Panic at the Disco's performance (that's my joint).

* The behind-the-scenes available online. I logged in halfway through the show and found the B-T-S footage more interesting!