Thursday, September 29, 2005

James Dean RIP

It's the anniversary of James Dean's death, which reminds me of all those oldies songs that romanticized death. It's ironic when you consider how psychotic some parents are about gothic imagery, as if it were somehow new.

Of course I suppose you could say the same about Eartha Kitt songs and sex. Do you listen to Eartha? I'm a fan.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Deadly Sins

I'm at Whole Foods last night, and the checkout clerk has tattooed onto her arm spider webs and stars, each star labeled with one of the 7 deadly sins. I could see "lust" and "sloth" from my angle.

It kind of got me thinking about lust and sloth, and whether people could have both at once. It seems like lust would motivate you beyond sloth. But if it didn't, I suppose that would be tragic.

I have no idea what normal people think about.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Use A Paper Towel To Open The Bathroom Door

Pretty low-key day here. I had lunch with a promising new YA/adult writer at Z Tejas. Then GLS and I headed to Central Market to grocery shop. Halibut tonight! Or maybe shrimp.

Spooky Link

Women's Hands Are Cleaner Than Men's: 90 percent of women wash up after using restroom, survey confirms. ("The worst offenders were at an Atlanta Braves game.")

"Desperate" Marathon

GLS and I watched "Desperate Housewives" season 1 eps all day today in preparation for tonight's season 2 premier, which wasn't quite we might've hoped. That said, the Rex funeral/tie scene was kind And I'm intrigued by whatever's going on in the Applewhite's basement.

Beyond that, I knocked out another three pages on F&M, which has been fun and fluid so far.

But I'm most jazzed that KH suggested something about my being WW in disguise. Flattered really. Giddy actually.

The post-Rita scene is mellowing out. Houstonites seem headed home, if not today then Monday.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Another Indie Gone

It looks like GLS and I won't be signing in McKinney, Texas next weekend because the indie bookstore where we were scheduled to appear is closing.

We're pretty much holed up this weekend, watching "Desperate Housewives" season one on DVD. After figuring out how much it would cost us to rent all the discs, we decided to just go ahead and make the investment. It's a good activity as the roads are all packed this weekend.

Wrote 3 pages of F&M today and have tons O notes for tomorrow.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Back In The Saddle

I started my first draft of F&M today. I did the statutory two pages, which, given the chapter head spacing, ended up at about 400 words. Perhaps you thinking, But wait, Cyn, didn't you already finish a rough draft of F&M last winter?

The answer is, yes, careful reader. But self-punishing thing that I am, I routinely throw out the first draft that is keyed out (no great loss to humanity, I promise) and start over, taking what sticks with me and heightening everything.

At this rate, I'll probably have a new, complete draft by the end of January, depending on any unanticipated schedule fluctuations. From that, I hope to have a workable version of the mss that will eventually go to my agent. My spring is as lightly scheduled this year as fall is packed.

Driving up Exposition (should be renamed "McMansion Avenue") today, I noticed tons of cars and trucks lining both sides of the street near O. Henry Middle School. I'm guessing it's one of the evacuee shelters, which explains why that Randall's off Lake Austin was so bought out yesterday. GLS told me we have something like 40,000 Rita-related visitors in shelters, in addition to everyone staying with friends family, and the 65,000 ACL crowd. Put mildly, the roads are crowded, but beyond that, the city plan seems to be working. (Really heartening when you think about it). Right now, you can still get premium gas here, but that's it.

In other local news, L&S are planning a free bash to "thank Austin for its support of his athletic feats and his charitable endeavors." The couple is paying for the whole show. That's so gracious, don't you think? Congrats to them both on the engagement, too!

Out of the Cone

What a difference a couple of days makes. Austin was originally directly in line with the incoming eye of Rita, but now that she's swung so far north, we may not even get rain. My thoughts are still with those northeast.

Crit group last night was big fun (featuring pizza). Congrats to AB on all her good news, SP for his admission to VC, and TC for launching his new mss.

Spooky Links

Thanks to KGL for blinking (blog+linking) to spookycyn.

Study: Half of All Teens Have Had Oral Sex by Laura Sessions Step from the Washington Post. September 16, 2005. Of interest because of its heightened inclusion in YA literature of late, both more and less controversial. Or perhaps it's a function of marketing.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


Rita is apparently upswinging to Galveston/Houston, which population-wise is awful.

I stopped by Randall's today, and there's no more water left. It's not a panic or anything, just prudence. Austin is no longer in the eye zone as predicted yesterday, but the city is still telling people to be ready for a blackout, flooding, etc., for a couple of days. There are still lots of options, though. People can always go to The Container Store or a camping store and just fill up jugs.

The friendly guy ahead of me in line said that he'd just driven in from Galveston at about 4 miles per hour. I heard on the radio that people were running out of gas on the highway, so the governor is having it delivered to them. Traffic here is pretty intense though because of evacuees.

So far the city/state officials seem to be on top of things, and people are heeding all warnings.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Inland Update

Now the news is saying that Travis County is too far inland to be hit with hurricane force, which we kind of figured. That will level off a county or two east--sort of around the A ranch, for those of you who went to that series of Austin-Brazos Valley SCBWI conferences there. KA is already vacated, though. No worries.

Still, we'll have weather. Because the terrace doesn't drain properly (at least by 2005) standards, we picked up some bags of soil to protect the doors into the sun room.

Usually in Texas "Rita" Is A Good Thing

Apparently the news is that the Gulf coast is getting slammed with a category 5 hurricane. For context, I just heard on the radio that Texas has never had a category 5. Galveston was a 4.

The incoming highway from Houston is packed. Supposedly, there's not a hotel room left for miles. The Texas A&M-Texas State game was rescheduled for Thursday.

Austin is fairly inland, and they're still talking that Rita may be category 1-2 by the time she hits here. I'm guessing our biggest role will be taking more evacuees. I heard the Louisiana folks were heading to Arkansas.

GLS and I did the responsible thing, though--stocked up with the necessities (plus chocolate) and the refill for Bashi's inhaler. But again, we're fairly inland.

Here's sending out prayers to everyone from but hopefully not still on the coast.

But as of now, by the way, the Austin City Limits Festival is still on. It's expected to attract 65,000 fans.

Hanging Up

You remember "Hanging Up"--Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, Lisa Kudrow, Walter Matthau (2000)? Marketed as a comedy. The clips in the ads were funny. Actually, they were the only funny moments from the movie. A lot of people ended up hating a not-bad film because it wasn't what they'd expected.

Seems like more cover art is this way. Looks like comedy or even chick lit, but isn't so much. Clearly, the marketing idea is to sell via mass appeal, but I wonder about word of mouth (and reviews) thereafter.

Not that this is a sign of the apocalypse. But like most folks, I pick up my next read based on the mood I'm in and whether it's a match. Hm. Maybe content-consistent cover art doesn't matter for splash, but I bet it does for legs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"The Wonderful"

According to VJ's blog, he's making "The Wonderful" an official part of my name.

I like that.

I'm going to pitch it to GLS and the cats at dinner, see what happens.

Monday, September 19, 2005

So, if I'm buried somewhere, does that make it an "Indian burial ground?"

I think so. I'm not sure whether I get to haunt it. However, I'm almost positive federal funds can't be used to build a highway over the property. A small victory, I suppose.

Spooky News & Links

New teen books stir up vampires, witches and sex by Kellye Carter Crocker from The Des Moines Register.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Hi, Bob

You know the shetland-pony-sized lizard in the back yard?

Have decided to name him "Bob."

Spooky News & Links

Pssst! Where the devil is the exorcist meeting? Pope greets convention members, urges them to continue good work from Reuters. I saw that movie! Yikes.

Death Becomes Him: Tim Burton's gorgeous nightmares, plus penguin love by David Edelstein from reel time.

S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!

GLS and I were honored and thrilled to join YA author/columnist RP and friends for her party at home in celebration of her past 10 years cancer free!

Then we continued on to South Congress for the opening bash for Bo Salon. Color it THE new hip, hot, fabu Austin place to be for folicle fashion. Catering by Vespaio.

Spooky Links

Both Sides Now by Ruth Pennebaker (Laurel Leaf, 2002). Read an excerpt.

The Changing American Family from MSN Lifestyle. Because the new reality is as diverse as it is beautiful. Or should I say "bo?" Or "beaux?"

Friday, September 16, 2005

Something About September

One and a half VC packets read and one letter sent out. I would've made more progress, but there's something about September.

School has started up again, and I'm literally swamped with correspondence from event planners--upwards of 40 emails this week alone.

In each case, we're headlining their event of the season or the year whereas they're one of our many, which makes none any less an honor or priority, but nevertheless, I've been busy, busy, busy with replying, filing, staying on top of details.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


VC MFA packets came today, and I did my fourth semester student first. I plan to write the letter in the a.m., but the notes are all there.

Was reading DT's blog about dedications.

I dedicated Jingle Dancer (Morrow/Harper, 2000) to my great-aunt Anne. She's a great lady unto herself and in many ways stepped in for my Grandpa Ray, who died the year I was born, before I was born. They grew up together at the Indian school, and she was able to tell me about him as a child. Anyway, I love her, and it was the right first person.

Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) was dedicated to my cousin Liz (Cousin Liz in Jingle Dancer is named after her). She's a filmmaker and a teacher, raised in Oklahoma and Texas but making it in NYC and I'm so proud of her. Also the good decision.

Indian Shoes (HarperCollins, 2002) was dedicated to my grandparents, living and dead, biological and step. Because it's a collection of grandparent/grandchild stories, that felt true.

As for the next two under contract, I already know, but I'm not ready to share yet. No big surprises, I suspect, except maybe that authors/illustrators put far more thought into such things than most people would imagine.

Spooky Links

Thanks to HB for her congrats on my HWA full-member status! Thanks to LZ and DMF for their comments (I'm not sure I am getting your e's DMF?!), and, yes, to all who've wondered, I do read my LJ syndication comments, though not every day, and appreciate them all!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Anyone from L.A.?

Go see the film "Happy Is Not Hard To Be," directed by YA author and filmaker Cecil Castellucci, YA author of Boy Proof (Candlewick, 2005). It's playing at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Egyptian Theater, 6712 Hollywood Boulevard. General admission tickets are $9.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Green Light on PB

Spent much of the morning awaiting the arrival of the dishwasher repair person, who did not come. When I called, it took much computer searching to find my request, and I was told said person would arrive tomorrow afternoon instead. Big sigh.

I also sent DL his interview questions and poured through the first section of my Web site (beta version; not yet live), which is in the process of being redesigned by LF. Exciting, but tedious, detail-type work. I'm expecting VC packets on Thursday, though, so I need to get as much done as possible before they arrive.

Best news O the day: our Dutton editor is happy with the pb rewrites, so we're done and the rest of our advance should arrive any day. Yay!

Spooky Link

Thanks to az-ang for writing in about Froot Loops.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Do I Seem Spookier Today Than Usual?

I'm pleased to report that in light of the sale and completion of T, I'm now officially a full member of the Horror Writers Association.


Paved With Good Intentions

Today I had every intention of putting together questions for my interview with DL for YALSA's quarterly print journal, but this afternoon, planners for two of my fall gigs were ready to talk admin details and my web designer sent me the beta version of my site redesign.

On the upside, I'm really jazzed about those two fall events, both of the small-town Texas variety, and I'm completely wowed by my site redesign in progress. LF is a wonder woman. I can't hardly wait until it's all done and ready to go live!

Also, I have a draft of my T essay. It still needs work, but I'll bring it and my multicult essay to group on the 22nd. Five minds are better than one!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

La-Ti-Da Snack Rec

Austinites: try the 7-grain French bread at Central Market on N. Lamar with micro-heated Brie. You'll be glad you did. Also, if you are a serious Froot Loops fan, write me now or forever hold your peace.

Rainy Day

Children's/YA writers often are criticized for showing reality that's not all fuzzy bunnies and sunshine. Why, though? Really, why?

To protect kids from the books? That doesn't even make sense. If they can't handle crisis from the safety of a book, then daily life will incapacitate them.

I think that's just a smokescreen, that the real reason is that these critics don't want to take responsibility for the part they play (if only through omission) in making the world this way--the good, the bad, the in-between. They feel guilty, maybe, for letting down the generation who'll inherit it all.

So rather than deal with truth--even through fiction--they condemn its telling.

Spooky Links

Dream Dictionary from MSN Astrology. "Your guide to interpreting your dreams."

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Goodbye, JB!

After hearing EK speak at the Austin SCBWI meeting, GLS and I joined JL and JB for lunch at Macaroni Grill. JB is moving back to Michigan. She'll be missed in Central Texas.

Then I dropped off GLS at home to do law stuff and went shopping. Picked up new pillows for the daybed in the sunroom and a ribbon skirt that looks very much like those sometimes worn by Southeast Indian ladies--when did we become the cutting edge of mainstream fashion?

It also appears that brown is the new black (or maybe that was last year; I can't keep up).

Friday, September 09, 2005

The U.T. Club

DS-B joined GLS and I out to lunch at the U.T. Club today to celebrate her signing with RS and her recent sale to S&S. DS-B is a Middle Eastern Studies and Art History prof at the U, and her first pb was The History of Counting, illustrated by Michael Hays (Morrow, 1999).

We all went for the buffet, so I had a salad with blue cheese, blue cheese dressing (hey, I love blue cheese), and sunflower seeds, broccoli, artichoke-stuffed chicken, strawberries, and so on. GLS had prime rib and chocolate cake, among other delights.

I made some hefty progress on the D-to-T article, especially with regard to gender roles of the Victorian age (hey, I sound like LB!). Anyway, I still need to address the need for and fuction of gothic fantasy in the close, but I should have a draft done before my packets arrive.

No progress on the fiction front, though I suppose it's all still background, but I may just wait to hit it hard after I'm done grading. October is a low-travel month with perfect ambience. I fully intend to have a workable draft by the end of December.

Attention Austinites: the Louisiana-born owner of an East Austin soul food restaurant, Lola Stephens, and her family and friends are organizing a party starting at 1:00 p.m. Sun. Sept. 11, at her restaurant Nubian Queen Lo-La's Cajun, Soul Food, and BBQ Kitchen, at 1815 Rosewood (corner of Chicon). Lola wants to welcome fellow Louisianians to her new home state by offering them the chance to stage their own musical benefit to raise funds for their resettlement. Every penny raised will go directly to the performers who are currently staying at the Convention Center. -- Source: Texas Folklife Resources.

Suddenly, I'm Amish

My CD player died yesterday--moment of silence--and so I headed to Target for a replacement. Apparently, you can no longer just buy a CD player for your precious Shania, Cher, and Xanadu albums. You must instead buy something that also plays MP3s. I don't even know what an MP3 is, but according to GLS, it can fit a bagillion songs on something the size of a credit card. Too small, too many songs, I'm not interested. Ick. Perhaps I will ask SP to explain it to me.

Plus, I surrendered on my T-to-D essay, only to realize--gasp!--the problem was my topic was too broad. A very snafu I've pointed out to other folks time and time again and yet, here I am, victim to it. I will narrow in the morn.

On the upside, Kerbey Lane Cafe (on Kerbey Lane of course!) has changed its menu since my last visit. I highly recommend the hummus and pitas.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fiction anyone?

On the writing front, I have a draft of my U. press essay and four pages of a draft on the T essay. On the latter, I just need to include a section on gender sensibility, then piece together the conclusion.

It's starting to really bug me that I'm not working on F&M. I came up with a decent first line today, though, so maybe the enforced break is a gift in disguise.

In other news, still no sign of the marked-up mss on H either. But (deep breath) no hurries. If it doesn't come soon, I'll just give him a hard copy and red pen once he hits Casa L-S in October. (Bahahahaha).

Spooky Links

Congrats to LZ on her new home!


Tenderfeet actually.

So, I'm having a great morning. I was awakened by Boo kitty chewing on my hair (that is not the great part), checked my email, worked out (treadmill, Shania Twain), formatted an upcoming interview on cynsations with KWH, and got ready to have lunch with GB at ZTejas on 6th.

For some insane reason, I decide to (a) wear my 3 inch wedges and (b) walk down the steep side of Castle Hill via the asphalt-paved street. It's a big hill. A Hillcountry hill. People from San Francisco would say, "Hey, that's a hill!"

About half way down, it became clear I was going to wipe out. So, I take off my shoes and walk babysteps down the rest of the gravely, glass-ridden alley street in my bare feet. In Texas. In the summer. On asphalt. Can we say "ouch"?

On the upside, GB was lovely company and ZTejas is running this special chili menu. Try the green chili chicken soup.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Blood In The Mail

Today I sent in my documentation in support of my membership in the Horror Writers Association. Proof that my advance and royalties were at a certain level and that my manuscript contains an element of horror. Basically, copies of excerpts from my contract and the second half of my advance for T.

It's much harder for a children's/YA writer to become a full member of the HWA than, say, SCBWI. Among other things, there's a word minimum for manuscripts to qualify, and some YAs, most middle grades, and all picture books would be shorter. T is an upper (14-up) YA though.

I also sent postcards for GLS announcing Tofu and T. rex (Little Brown, 2005). I'm such the devoted wife, I know.

Spooky Links

Angel and Apostle by Deborah Noyes (Unbridled Books, 2005); debut novel from the anthologist of Gothic! Ten Original Dark Tales (Candlewick, 2004).

Thanks to AS for the cyber anniversary card!

Monday, September 05, 2005

Remembering Rehnquist

I was saddened this weekend to hear that Chief Justice Rehnquist had died. Given his status in the history of American law, it's somewhat remarkable and tragic that there's so much bad news at the moment that this isn't still the lead story.

Anniversary Retreat

Just back from two days and nights with GLS at the Hillcountry Hyatt in celebration of our 11th anniversary. (We cancelled our 10th anniversary trip last year after my dad died, so...).

The Hyatt is a golf/spa resort just outside of San Antonio--particularly suited to family vacations (maybe more so than couples). Overall, it's a great destination, though the service is occasionally uneven. The crowd was mixed, but mostly middle class, Anglos/Mexican Americans (lots of mixed families), and ready to soak in the last weekend of the summer.

Pros: the faux river for inner tube rafting, a very hillcountry activity; Viceroy butterflies; waterfall in the hot tub; private feel to rooms; well-behaved child guests en masse; loooong copper bar; throwing peanut shells on the floor (you're supposed to); peeking in on the Laredo/Oregon wedding crowd.

GLS and I also watched "The Incredibles," which I recommend (compare to "Spy Kids"--"TI" was better written but its focus more on the adult than kid characters) and "Bewitched," which I do not recommend (as GLS said, "Nicole Kidman playing Melanie Griffith playing..."....who's being marketed as a 20something "dumb blonde" these days? And when will that stereotype finally die out?).

Back to reality and, so, Katrina. Austin SCBWI is donating children's books to shelters housing survivors locally, so I'm pulling titles today.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Happy Anniversary, GLS!

GLS and I were married eleven years ago on Sept. 4th in Kansas City, Missouri. I'm going to take off the rest of the holiday weekend to celebrate.

To all of you spookycyn readers, play and travel safe.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Opening Doors

I just got a note from my law school ('94) saying that we'd open our doors to visiting students from Loyola of New Orleans and Tulane Law School, which I suspect any number of schools are doing. The Tulane site, for example, has been moved this week over to Emory. My transcript reflects a summer of credits from Tulane, as they co-sponsored the classes I took at the University of Paris after my 1L year. GLS and I went on our honeymoon in New Orleans. We stayed at the Fairmont, which was just outside the Quarter, and paid for it with money we got at the wedding. It's our 11th anniversary this weekend. I'm just free associating, I know. Just sad.

Manuscript Tips Circa 1927

I had brunch this a.m. with FH at the South Congress Cafe, which is much improved, food-quality-wise, since the first time I tried it with DL. GLS had already told me this as he'd had lunch there with AL during WF, but it was my first time back. Have the Mexican omlette with green chili sauce. Yum.

Went on to shop in great detail, which is the only way to do it, down the street at Uncommon Objects. FH found a (Thai?) puppet, a wooden mushroom, and tiny dolls. I picked up a very 1970s-esque embroidered black jacket and How To Prepare Manuscripts by George Milburn (Little Blue Book No. 1143, edited by E. Haldeman-Julius (Haldeman-Julius Publications, 1927), published in Girard, Kansas.

Some manuscript observations/tips circa 1927:

"...I saw the editors' mail cascade from strong cloth sacks. If there is any more disheartening spectacle in the world, I do not care to witness it while I'm young."

"...the amateur writer was the most chld-like, the most gullible, the most addlepated creature in the world."

"They are simply chasing a vain illusion that writing is a soft short-cut to Fame and Japanese valets." (Cyn note: Japanese valets?)

"Typewriters are accessible to almost everyone nowadays."

"Editors for established publishing houses are not likely to be untrustworthy, and the writer can generally depend on them for an honest evaluation of the work."

"It is seldom necessary to accompany your manuscript with a letter to the editor. Often, too often, such a letter is a serious detriment."

"Don't send the same manuscript to different editors at the same time. Suppose both of them should accept it--an uncomfortable situation."

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Call Me "Lois Lane"

I heard from my CW editor that I should be getting copyedits on T in about 2 weeks. Can't wait!

In the meantime, I'm going to work on a related article(s). Or at least get started. I try to do a couple of articles a year that spring from my own writing. They've been published in such venues as Book Links, Library Talk, The Horn Book, and the Journal of Children's Literature in addition to more mainstream outlets like Better Homes & Garden and Career World magazine.

I enjoy being part of the dialogue within the industry and raising awareness of it beyond. Plus, as a trained journalist, I appreciate the opportunity to put that hat back on every now and again. It also raises awareness of my name and work, I suppose, which may increase the odds of receiving event invitations or interview requests.

The 4th is my 11th wedding anniversary, and so I fully intend to take some time off this weekend to play with GLS. This reminds me, if you don't read cynsations (and why not?), there are new online interviews with him here and here (scroll for update).

Comic O The Week: Wonder Woman #220 (guest starring Batman).