Thursday, June 30, 2005

Final Revision Response

Heard from my divine gothic YA editor, and she used the word "love" multiple times in response to my final revision of T. Apparently the protagonist internal dynamic is much clearer--don't you just love (speaking of the word) those unreliable first person narrators?! Other words: "deftly," "stunner," "got bite." In any case, we're to discuss marketing ideas in a couple of weeks, but she liked the initial one I pitched. Woo woo!

In other news, I'm just back from speaking at the ALA conference in Chicago, which you're welcome to read all about for the next few days on cynsations, and cutie pie CC sent me a full-blown margarita madness package from C&B in thanks for WF. What a sweetie!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Wild Thing

Sporting my nifty gifty earrings from TLS. One says "wild;" the other says "thing." Makes me think I should do something to live up to them.

Spooky Links

Tanya Lee Stone: Superb Children's Author from Learn about Tanya's upcoming novel, A Bad Boy Can Be Good For A Girl (Wendy Lamb Books, 2006).

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Batman Begins

--Spoiler Warning--

Just back from seeing "Batman Begins" with G at Barton Creek Square. Loved it.

I've always been a fan of Ra's Al Ghul (Ducard),* and enjoyed the depiction though I missed Talia. He's less fun without her, though she would've taken away from the Rachel character.

Rachel was gratuitous, and I couldn't get past seeing Katie Holmes as Joey, but it was charming to think that Bruce had someone like her in his life.

I've never particularly cared for the Scarecrow, but this rendition worked, and it was hands-down the best use of double Bat-baddies in a major motion picture.

Heavyweights Morgan Freeman as Lucius and Michael Cain as Alfred (along with Neesom's Ghul) brought credibility to the film, but really, Christian Bale was a solid Batman. The best since Michael Keaton.

Also the new car looks a lot better in the film than in the ads. The nods to the core legend were deft, informing outsiders while winking at insiders.

Color me impressed!

*if you couldn't figure that one out, you really don't know your Batman.

Spooky Links

kelcrocker is reading Rebel Angels by Libba Bray.

Friday, June 24, 2005

"Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman"

I'm watching "Lois & Clark" on DVD, and it strikes me that Dean Cain is seriously underrated as Superman. He comes off as smart and sexy and far more human than Christopher Reeve or Tom Welling on "Smallville," though that may be my GenX bias at work.

The series lost focus when it shifted away from Lex and went into a more "family friendly" time slot, but early on, it was pretty entertaining, especially Lane Smith as Perry White. L&C's John Shea is also a fun Lex, though I just adore Michael Rosenbaum from "Smallville."

I was sorry to hear that Lane Smith died June 13, 2005. My favorite role of his was D. A. Jim Trotter III in "My Cousin Vinney."

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mixed Emotions

Sent the pre-copyediting revision of T to DW. I rock. I roll. I other-cool/sweet-things-beginning-with-the-letter "R."

Celebrated by buying season one of "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" and "Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Dangerous," both on DVD. Have watched first two eps of L&C. G also took me to P.F. Chang's for dinner, and I picked up some Vampire cabernet at Wiggy's.

Came home, though, to a message from my cousin that my much loved great auntie, to whom I dedicated Jingle Dancer (Morrow, 2000), is likely not long for this world. Sad Cyn.

My Inner Brat

I should just send it. Attach, send. But on my last read, I fiddled a lot with that one problematic scene, and I want--no, deserve--the experience of reading clear through and ending satisfied.

So, I'm printing, having breakfast, and then retreating to the sunroom with a pitcher of iced tea. I'm going to read the whole manuscript in one setting, and I'm going to love it.

The theory is that you have to write to satisfy your own innner teen. Mine is apparently a passionate, wry, sensitive 17-year-old with a hyper awareness of weapons and marinara. My "inner brat," as I sometimes call her. She's the one who wants one more turn. I'll make sure she's satisfied.

Then I'll send it.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

In Or Out?

Okay, now I'm hitting the point with T where I'm just keying in and deleting the same lines over and over and/or moving them around. I think... It's time... To. Back. Away. From. The. Manuscript. Because, really!

Scoobies Forever

So, I'm reading through incoming review copy submissions, and one of the pitches insults Buffy.

Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.

And theoretically, professionally, it shouldn't matter.

But ya know, there is no way in the Hellmouth I'm reading that ARC.

(Yes, it's a self-published, preachy book about how girls should be weak. Yikes!)

The Road To Avalon

Last night, after proofing T (still stuck on that one Q-R scene), I read The Road To Avalon by Joan Wolf in one late-night sitting. It was divine--sweeping and romantic. An Arthurian story not grounded in magic but rather love and politics (is there a difference?). It struck me that it could've been cut in half and made into a lovely YA, but I'm more interested in stories of teens than grown-ups. In any case, I adored it.

Yesterday, I received the most marvellous present from CC! A bath ball thingie (with tiny stars inside), soap, and purple body glitter.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tanya on WF 05

Surf over to Tanya Lee Stone's blog for her WF report. Was she ever a fabu royal! Whip smart! Everyone was talking about this critique queen and wow-za writer! What an honor to have her in our company!

Greg on Writefest 05

Surf over to GregLSblog to read his WF report.

P.S. I love (and am blessed by) my gnome!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sharp As A Vampire's Tooth

FH and BY swung by yesterday bearing kitty and genius gifts and to help rearrange the furniture post WF. They stayed on for Mangia pizza and great talk. Most appreciated!

Earlier, I picked up Hippolyte's Dracula: Book 1 (Based on the novel by Bram Stoker)(Heavy Metal, 2005) at Dragon's Lair. Absolutely magnificient graphic novel. A must-buy for any true Drac fan, and not a bad Quick Pick choice (hint to the universe).

I'm getting ready for mine and G's talk tomorrow at TSU, and I do hope to be back to work on T before the end of the day.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Kreative Kitty

where they tear out the trees and name the streets after them."
-- bumper sticker at Brava House

G and I took SC to lunch at Katz's today and then dropped her off at the airport. Our last WF participant homeward bound!

To fellow writing kitty fans, I also wanted to mention a marvy gift I got from AB this week: Kreative Kitty. "This four footed muse brings the gifts of creativity, inspiration, and the ability to think outside the cat box."

Perhaps you need one, too?

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Closing Ceremonies

After pastries, FB spoke on "finishing the novel," and then we dived into our last one-one-one breakout sessions.

Closing ceremonies were comprised of the pages' and speakers' thank-you gifts, followed by the ritual toast.

I could say more, so much more.

But I'll leave that to the discretion of the departing royals.

The Par-tay

"Yeah, I've gotta great rack."
--Cyn, WriteFest 05

Gulf shrimp, ham-and-brie sandwiches, chicken satay, many and varied fancy quesadillas, rustic frommage, veggie plate, dark-chocolate-covered strawberries, and any other number of yummy delights I'm too tired to specify right now. Also wine. A really whole hell of a lot of--as in, you can't begin to imagine how much--wine.

Floral garnishes.

Plus, wardrobe.

Sure, there are things I could tell you. About good luck and bad. About wizards and immortals and cheerleaders and Mary Anne Gone Bad. About Wolverine and men in boobs and women dressed as men who'd never dress as women. About Hawai'ian girls and really odd plastic armor lap dances and ghosts in a family way. The Pope, Death (cap D), and The Tin Man. Big brains, bad-ass motorcycle mamas, soccer dudes, Goth chicks, and the walking wounded. There's a whole lot I could tell you about them and more.

But ya know...

Sometimes, ya just gotta be there.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Party Prep

Everyone is out of the house except me and G. (Kitties are here though, too, and holding up quite stoically). The WFers are shopping, resting, whatever.

We encouraged them to hydrate.

Awards have now all been announced.

The award for best praise of hosts went to MeredithD in the short division and KD in the long division--both wrote poems. MD's was more of a haiku.

The awards for best use of a cat in a manuscript went to FH and CC, and the sad-cat award went to BY.

MD will be back shortly to help G fetch the catering for the party at Central Market.

My makeup is on and dangly red-and-silver earrings are in.

Planning to augment with previously mentioned apparel with matching necklace and Steve Madden rhinestone spiked heels.

Set up and dinner first, though!

Party at 6:30 p.m.!

Spooky News

Rumor has it that a 10-foot-long python was spotted this week in Shoal Creek. Leash your dogs and toddlers accordingly!

Siesta Cyn

Following the mushroom/spinach quiche, LR's morning talk on "writing the hard scenes" was a great success as was the reading of last night's homework, especially SP's.

G ran to LID with AL, one of our pages (our other page is Stephanie Marshall), at lunch. But I just gave the speakers lunch money and snuck off by myself for a few blessed moments of solitude/down time/siesta at Whole Foods (brown rice spicy sushi and bottled water).

This afternoon, I look forward to the final group discussions and ongoing breakout sessions.

Then, tonight.

The party.

I'm thinking I'll wear my black-and-red lace bustier with black pants, my cat ears and tail, and carry my red-jewel eyed, demon wolf staff. Am somewhat worried that the bustier will accidentally spring off my body.

But on the upside, if so, there will be plenty of cameras ready and LB promises to blog about it.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

"What Exactly Is A Chicken-Fried Steak?"

Just back from the original Threadgills, where the Mahalo Combo was playing.

Today was a sparkling success!

Franny Billingsley spoke on fantasy, using Owl In Love by Patrice Kindl and her own books, Well Wished and The Folk Keeper as springboards. Then we read homework, discussed six manuscripts with the whole group, and had our first breakout session.

G and I did lunch with FB, CC, and PageK at Z Tejas.

And after the field trip, we were off to dinner. Some folks went to Amy's later, but we were done for the night. The speakers have homework, after all.

Post BBQ Coma

And what a day it was! Opening ceremonies featured a table presentation of crowns and tiaras, introductions, and a champagne toast.

Then Victoria Eugenia, Queen of Spain (AKA Laura Ruby) opened with an inspiring talk on antagonists, and she read from Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell (Hyperion, 2003); Holes by Louis Sachar (FSG, 1998), and Feed by M.T. Anderson (Candlewick, 2002).

Initial group discussions went well, followed by a field trip, and dinner at County Line on the Lake.

Participant Roster and Code Names:

Franny Billingsley: Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India

Libba Bray: Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsarina of Russia

Anne Bustard: Alice, Grand Duchess of Hesse and By the Rhine

Carolyn Crimi: Helena, Princess of Schleswig-Holstein

Tim Crow: Prince Albert of Saxe Coburg Gotha

Shutta Crum: Elisabeth, Grand Duchess of Russia

Katie Davis: Beatrice, Princess of Battenberg

Meredith Davis: Louise, Duchess of Argyll

Frances Hill: Sophie, Queen of Greece

Page Koehlert: Margaret, Crown Princess of Sweden

Kimberley Griffiths Little: Victoria, Empress of Germany

Sean Petrie: Edward VII, King of Great Britain and Ireland, Emperor of India

Laura Ruby: Victoria Eugenia, Queen of Spain

Tanya Lee Stone: Charlotte, Duchess of Saxe-Meiningen

Brian Yansky: Wilhelm II, Kaiser of Germany

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Calm Before The Storm

G is walking at the lake with Victoria Eugenia, Queen of Spain, while Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, continues to sleep on the daybed in the sunroom. We took the Victorias out for a smashing dinner last night at Green Pastures. Peacock viewings: 1.

So far, the one crisis was that Alexandra Feodorovna, Tsarina of Russia came down with a sore throat on the airplane yesterday, but the pages saw to it that she got some antibios and was safely delivered to her B&B.

We ran into DHA, picking up Beatrice, Princess of Battenberg, and a page, picking up Helena, Princess of Schleswig-Holstein, yesterday at the airport, which is fine because the mss have already been read.

Pretty much all that's left at this point is to ensconce the cats and finish set-up. We start at 1 p.m.!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Writefest 2005

Writefest (WF) is an invitation-only private workshop for novelists: (a) who're well published in other areas (picture books, poetry, short stories) and working on a novel manuscript; (b) who've finished a master's program in writing for children and young adults; and/or (c) who've published one-to-three children's/YA novels. It's held at my house. G and I run it with the help of two assistants, both of whom meet the participant criteria.

The initial inspiration was to offer a craft-oriented program for skilled writers who're still relatively new to publishing novels. A preference is given to writers from "the middle"--central and mountain time zones--because we are underrepresented on the national publisher lists.

I'm always sort of scouting potential WF invitees because some turnover is important, alumni hit that fourth novel, and there are just so many infinitely cool new voices out there. But I have only 15 chairs.

The idea is to challenge writers to complete a draft by a specific deadline, break them out of their traditional comfort zones (and critique groups), nuture new professional relationships, show off sunny Austin, and have fun.

The writers have each received partials of all participants' manuscripts (up to 3,000 words) and two manuscripts in full. The partials will be discussed by the group as a whole and the full manuscripts in one-on-one breakout sessions.

G and I read all 15 manuscripts in full and prepare comments for all of them.

For the prepatory reading/preparing critique phase, the manuscripts are marked with code names. This is so that the reputation of the author or lack thereof doesn't influence the readers. No one knows who else is coming until they arrive.

This year's code names are royals, i.e., Edward VII, King of Great Britain and Ireland, Emperor of India; Beatrice, Princess of Battenberg. You get the idea.

There are also in-class writing assignments, homework, and what we've termed "field trips."

This is the second year of WF. We begin Wednesday. I can't tell you who's coming yet because of course then I would have to kill you.

But I am pleased to report that Sophie, Queen of Greece and Wilhelm II, Kaiser of Germany came over Sunday afternoon to help with set-up. One of the pages came over last night to review the program. This afternoon, G and I pick up the speakers: Victoria, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India; and Victoria Eugenia, Queen of Spain. The tables are set. The folders are stuffed. Anticipation is running high!

Spooky Links

G is reading The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry by Brad Miner (Spence, 2004).

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Salon Bloom & "Babysitting"

I have a new salon, which is even--gasp--more expensive than my previous one, though I intend to reserve the latter for spa-related activities. My hair now has low-lights, which are reddish, and make me feel much in tune with my underdiscussed Celtic/Gaelic heritage.

On a completely unrelated note, it vexes me when fathers are referred to as "babysitting" their own children when mothers doing the same are merely considered to be being mothers. As in: "I couldn't possibly ask my husband to babysit this weekend."

Saturday, June 11, 2005


"We all got together last week, us guys, and we had a meeting and we agreed to stop sucking sometime in the near or not too distant future."
--Mark Raxton, Ultimate Spider-Man #78

Am too upset by the MJ/Peter breakup in Ultimate Spider-Man to blog today, but I will say it's a resonate look at high-school relationship aftershocks.

I myself have cried in many an institutional bathroom stall.

In other news, enjoyed a lovely lunch at Katz's yesterday with DL, educator/author/publisher/librarian. How many hats can one woman wear? And look so good in all of them, too!

I'm blogging lately on cynsations about advice for beginning writers/authors.

Friday, June 10, 2005


"Close the window and come back to bed.
There's an old
'Sex In The City' scenario I've been dying to try out."
-- Lois Lane, Superman #218

Last night, at Central Market north, I picked up Phobias: Knowledge Cards: A Charles Harrington Elster Word Deck (from Pomegranate Communications, Inc.).

I'm fascinated by phobias, and as I've mentioned before, I have a fear of lettuce. You think that's weird? Check the deck. It's nada.

Those that were most mysterious to me:

lepidophobia: fear of butterflies (Mothra?);

dinosauriaphobia: fear of dinosaurs (saw Jurassic Park one too many times?);

levophobia: fear of (things to) the left (needs to turn off Fox News?);

aulophobia: fear of flutes (bad breakup with Pied Piper?);

papyrophobia: fear of paper (must be a writers' ailment).

Spooky Links

Author Interview: Cecil Castellucci on Boy Proof from cynsations.

Take a peek at VVV's The Book of Mordred; coming in August!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Isis and The Fanged

"Ankh if you love Isis."
--bumper sticker on Dodge Caravan,
headed north on Lamar at 24th

Spent part of yesterday afternoon keying in changes on T. Overall, I'm pleased with it. There's one lingering question, though, that I'll ask myself again when I sit down to read after WF.

Speaking of WF, preparations are in shockingly good shape. I have to key up the program today, but overall, I'm exceedingly pleased with status. Too busy though so far to read last week's comics and still haven't picked up this week's--a definite sign of overload.

Off for a sneak peek at the new ACK cover!

Spooky News & Links

Two spooky books, Vampire High by Douglas Reese (Delacorte) and Vampire Kisses by Ellen Schreiber (Katherine Tegan), were named among IRA Young Adult Choices 2005 (a PDF file).

IT’s Alive @ the Library! (Horror and Gothic Fantasy) Bibliography Suggestions compiled by Hawaii State Public Library System Young Adult Librarians.

Apologies and much groveling to LZ for misspelling her name on cynsations yesterday. Rest assured that I've made the correction and it will not happen again. Bad Cyn!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Mutterings From The Heat Stricken

"Apocalypse soon! So hurry up and vote!"
--flyer posted on a dumpster at 12th and Eason in Austin, Texas

"Be the love that you are looking for."
--carved into the cement sidewalk at 1503 12th St. in Austin, Texas

"You ain't nobody until you do what you want!"
--The Fonz

I decided mid-day in million-degree heat to walk to Nau's Pharmacy, a local dine-in institution, to purchase rubbing alcohol for my infected ear. It's a cool place, forever lingering in the 1950s. I keep expecting to see Fonzie and Richie waltz in.

Speaking of The Fonz, does anybody really remember why he and Pinky Tuscadero broke up?

Am I the only person who thinks about these things?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"Sixteen Candles:" Jake Ryan

G was kind enough to print and bring in for me a Feb. 14, 2004 article from The Washington Post, "Real Men Can't Hold A Match To Jake Ryan of 'Sixteen Candles'" by Hank Stuever. It is obviously the obligatory Valentine's Day fluff piece. As a one-time teen girl of the 80s, I was intrigued.

For those of you who (gasp!) never saw it, "Sixteen Candles" is a John Hughes classic. The story of Samantha Baker (played by Molly Ringwald) whose family forgets her birthday amid preparations for her older sister's wedding while she suffers a series of embarrassments until the day is redeemed by our hero and her love interest--you guessed it--Jake Ryan (played by Michael Schoeffling.)

The point of the article*--and here comes the spooky part--is that Jake Ryan could never exist but nevertheless essentially ruined women my age (and those up to ten years younger) for other men.

I have a series of random, quasi related thoughts:

Mr. Schoeffling apparently lives in PA, where he's married, has two teenage kids, and a' la "Sex In The City's" Aiden Shaw/pre-Han Solo Harrison Ford, makes hand-crafted furniture, which--let's face it--is more hunky than acting. He had a few small parts in eight movies following "Sixteen Candles," and was called by GQ magazine "the Salinger of male model/actors."

Why is it so unthinkable that a cute, popular guy would (as the article suggests) automatically prefer a bitchy Fox-News-spokesmodel-looking blond** over Samantha? Molly Ringwald is really cute, and she had those lips well before they became the rage. Is our definition of beauty really so narrow? Hm. Maybe so, in light of the aforementioned Fox News spokesmodels (I have this theory that they are stamped out in an underground factory in New Jersey).

Maybe it is unlikely that any guy could solve all of your problems on your birthday. But then again, maybe more should try.

Yes, LLD is the quintessential example of laughing at rather than laughing with when it comes to race and comedy, something that many fans of "Sixteen Candles" seem to have missed and/or developed amnesia about. This phenomenon is closely related to the Mickey Rooney character in "Breakfast at Tiffany's." That said, you could say the same thing about the film as related to elders, the disabled, "ethnic whites," etc.

Anthony Michael Hall is flat-out fabulous, though of course I adore geeks (pon-pons aside) having once been one myself.

Though Mr. Schoeffling's Jake is rather dishy, I much prefer Keanu and Hugh Jackman. No neither "Constantine" nor "Van Helsing" changed my opinion, though I don't need to see either of those movies twice. (For actual acting ability, my faves are Tony Shalhoub and James Cromwell).

Allegedly, many women in the target range have named their babies "Jake" or "Ryan." As it happens, my best friend from high school just had a baby and named him "Jake."

A coincidence, I'm sure.

*you allegedly have to register at The Washington Post but registration is free. That said, I was able to get the whole article just by Googling and hitting the applicable link.

**yes, I have friends who're blond, beautiful, and brilliant, too, but you know what I'm talking about.

Spooky Link

If you are a devotee, apparently, you can buy a Jake Ryan T-shirt online.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Hike 'N' Bike

G walked with me this a.m. along the hike-and-bike trail along Town Lake, both for the exercise and so I could revisit the setting for a scene in T. It was hugely crowded today, but of course after reading the book, the uber fit people will cower from it. Well, hopefully not, but I did manage to scare myself.

I do that. I live in this fantasy otherworld, and it it sort of blends into my perception of reality. I'm almost certain that if I weren't a writer, I'd be an excellent candidate for institutionalization.

That said, I'm going to read T today with yesterday's edits and see if it does all I need it to do. It's remarkable how easy it was to slip back in (but then again, as I just said, I never really leave).

By the way, the park along the lake was set aside as a project of Miss LB's.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

It's Biker Weekend

Seriously, as in the Republic of Texas Bike Rally (more than 40,000 participants). Currently impossible to drive downtown in a car. Or even an SUV. Leather garment sales on Sixth Street are way up, I'm sure.

Me? I'm holed up at home working on my final revision, which is mostly a chance for me to have one more pass before copyediting. The letter was pretty much praise (my fave part: voice is "dead on"), and a request to look at a couple of reactions, clarify a bit of protagonist psychology, and reconsider the pre-climax pacing. The first two were a matter of fiddling. On the last, I tightened and simplified, perhaps not to "the bone," but suffiicently so as to maintain the upward arc.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

My Teeth Are Starting To Itch Again

Three pages of scribbling notes. Can't reenter T officially until I read my last WF manuscript (hopefully today); must write up comments on another first.

That said, I'm having great fun with the mss. I swear, I have the most brill friends.

Spooky Link

Every Writer Should Be A Scaredy Cat by Sharon A. Soffe from Out of My Mind.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Oasis Burns

Sounds apocalyptic, doesn't it? But true. The Oasis, my fave place to go for an amazing view, mediocre food, and overpriced drinks burned down last night. The owners say they will rebuild, but still... Sob. I was just there last weekend!