Thursday, April 27, 2006

Cut Ellipsis

Hooray! I just emailed my editor my first pass notes for Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). They consist of a few style questions--"Homo sapiens" in italics? "web site" or "website?"--a few corrected key-in glitches, a few clarifications, a wee bit of normal neurotic author fiddling, and--cough--the cutting of no less than 102 (if I counted correctly) ellipses. 102!

Some are snipped to periods, others changed to dashes or commas, and a few floaters just zipped right out. And it's so funny and embarassing because I remember a note on the copy edits gently hinting something about the multitude of ellipses, and I just couldn't see it, but wow!

In the typeset version, it not only looks like overuse or an affectation but a literal swarm. They're everywhere! It's a horror novel unto itself!

I found a couple of other funny affections, one for 7 A.M. or 7 P.M. as a time reference and even more oddly, one for 2:43 P.M. (used twice to indicate different days in the space of two pages).

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Coldwater Creek

Unless you wear women's clothes, this may not be the post for you. But I just thought I'd mention that the Coldwater Creek online outlet is offering 50 to 80% off everything right now. I like Coldwater Creek for a lot of reasons. One is that, so far as I can tell, they are curvy-friendly. Also, they sell a lot of acetate-spandex travel knit, which frankly, is a godsend if you're living in a hot climate like Texas or spead a lot of time on the road or, like me, both. If you spend quality time the floors of convention centers for teacher-librarian conferences, I suggest you stock up, and I also suggest you kiss goodbye your four-inch heels for those venues due to the ouch factor.

First-pages reading for Tantalize (Candlwick, 2007) is ongoing.

Sending smooches to SM! Thanks for the amazing card; I'll write back soon!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Six Feet Under RIP

I watched the series finale of "Six Feet Under" this weekend, and I was struck again by the theme that everyone, everything ends. There's such a tendency to deny mortality or to find it depressing, but I don't. If I could live forever, why would I need to focus on any particular story now? Mortality is a gift. In any case, the episode was strong, inspiring, and I'm glad I watched the entire series.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Eastside Poets

I gratefully handed off F&M to my supportive critique group last night, and I have no intention of looking at it again until I hear back from them next month. We served both deep dish (spinach and cheese) and thin crust (sausage and mushroom on whole wheat) pizza from Mangia for dinner. I had a Greek salad, which I'm sure paled by comparison.

Comments on the chapter of F&M that I read included: much laughter; a couple of suggested jokes, both of which I'll try to work in; "I like the international flavor;" "I like the traditional mixed in;" "a total riot;" and "I love T. He rocks. He rules."

Today, after I worked out this afternoon, I started reading my first pages for Tantalize (Candlewick, 2007). I'm sure this will be my primary preoccupation for the weekend. So far, I have spotted a ridiculous overuse of the ellipses.

Tonight, though, GLS and I had dinner with RK (author interview) and his wife (a retired immigration attorney; she had this fabulous turquoise thing going on) at Eastside (had the mushroom, chicken avocado soup), followed by a drink at the Driskill. They're in town from L.A. for a poetry event.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Micah by Laurell K. Hamilton

Production is ongoing for Tantalize (Candlewick, March 2007). I received my first pages on Tuesday. They look like book pages! What is it about professionally typesetting text that makes it read so much better?

In any case, this is my last chance to make major changes before it will cost the publishing company money (translation: put on the thinking cap now). I have critique group tonight and a dinner tomorrow, so it'll be a focus of this weekend.

Last night I read Micah by Laurell K. Hamilton (Jove Books, 2006), and I think it came out only in paperback because it's more like a really long short story--sort of a slice-of-life piece on the Micah-Anita relationship. The upshot is that Micah is a quality guy who's been through a lot and is devoted to Anita. It looks like Danse Macabre (Berkley Books, July 2006) will be a more traditional blockbuster. I look forward to it.

In other news, I had a lovely lunch yesterday with JW (author interview) at Enoteca Vespaio on South Congress. Try any of the salads. I have a brunch today at Magnolia on Lake Austin Boulevard.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Sea of Monsters

GLS and I attended RR's signing at BookPeople tonight. His latest is The Sea of Monsters (Hyperion/Miramax, 2006). Great reading, great turnout. Excellent event. Had big fun chatting up some goddesses (Athena, Hera, and even Zeus, King O the Gods--really) from Matthews Elementary in Clarksville.

While at the store, I also picked up The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed by Karen Elizabeth Gordon (Pantheon, 1993) and Micah by Laurell K. Hamilton (Jove Books, 2006). By the way, did the latter come out in hardcover and, if so, why didn't I see it earlier?

Monday, April 17, 2006

First Bite

GLS, as usual, was my first reader on F&M. He didn't seem to find any major structural or character issues, which at this stage is possibly as unsettling as validating. We did brainstorm on a few treatments of specific plot points, though, and I'll key in changes accordingly.

Two members of my crit group are teachers, so I'm not even going to consider tossing it their way until I get the all-clear on their schedules. But I will share one of the new scenes at group later this month.

Now, what I really need to do is let it sit, sit, sit. The next couple of weeks will be mostly devoted to writing a talk and a couple of articles. Or maybe writing a couple of articles, one of which will be a talk. Once I'm "in" a novel, not working on it is almost painful. Big drama-queen sigh.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Happy 80th, JW

Took my fabu new 'do from Bo Salon (2004 S. Congress) to JW's 80th b-day party in Buda this weekend at the Manchaca Firehouse Cafe. Luminaries in attendance included: AB (author interview), FH, BY, DHA (author interview) and TS. The family served fried fish, french fries, hushpuppies, cole slaw, and cakes decorated to look like JW's cover art. JW is the author of Earthscapes and The World According to Rock.

GLS and I passed Easter Sunday quietly, watching "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe," which seemed appropriate enough. He made shrimp creole for dinner.

I've had a sort of rough weekend. My eye was bothering me again, though it's better now. I'd also like to thank TLS (author interview), NW (author interview), LB (author interview), EB, CPK, SP, LG, FB (author interview) for their words O wisdom and LR (author interview) for that and the extra TLC. Most appreciated.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Thinking Ahead

Oh, how I love royalty checks! I'm not so organized as to know when they are coming, so from my perspective, they appear as if by magic with an untold amount of money. This time around I'm earmarking a healthy chunk of the earnings to pay for my publicist for Santa Knows (Dutton, 2006). I consider it an investment in the future.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Cornish Game Hen and Shrimp

In 2001, GLS and I took my advance from Rain Is Not My Indian Name (HarperCollins, 2001) and, after ALA-Chicago, flew to Paris. To the George V Four Seasons, to be precise. We still bask in memories of the experience.

At the hotel restaurant, we had the most divine chicken-and-lobster dish, which GLS replicated for me (using shrimp instead of lobster and Cornish game hen instead of chicken) tonight using a recipe from Chubby Hubby: One Pot Meal: Musings on Food, Wine, and Marriage.

I'm now halfway through grading VC packets and, going through the mail, found a lovely thank-you note from DCR (author interview). I had a chance to chat with NJO at KWH's signing at BookPeople yesterday, and NJO mentioned how much she loved DCR's workshop in conjunction with Austin SCBWI. I've heard great things about this event from a lot of the participants. DCR is a gem!

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Gregory, Shrimp, Shrimp, Sushi, and Six Feet Under

AB (author interview) invited us to the U.T. Club for a Friday shrimp siesta.

Then on Saturday, GLS and I hit KWH's signing of Waiting for Gregory, illustrated by GS (Henry Holt, 2006) at BookPeople (author interview). We three had sushi and so forth afterward at Musashino.

We had an interesting conversation about voice, about whether it can be taught. I think it's a matter of courage, that we all have voice worth hearing within us, but sometimes it's a struggle to find the courage to let our voice (as manifested in character) be heard.

I was sorry to miss MM's talk on non-fic at Austin SCBWI today, but the schedule had already filled.

Grading is ongoing. Tonight we're also beginning to watch the final season of "Six Feet Under" on Netflix.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Dead Lines

Deadlines. Dead Lines. Lines of the Dead. Hm, beware of gothic fantasy authors on deadline and where their minds may go.

My students' packets are due this weekend, so my self-imposed deadline for finishing my second first draft of F&M was today. I'm happy to say that all (known) scenes are written. I was going to read it tonight and key in, but real life intruded. It'll have to wait until I'm done grading, and then I'll let it sit for two weeks. During that time I'll prepare a talk and hopefully write two articles.

Call it a plan!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Scrumptious Signing

Tonight GLS and I attended the first signing of debut YA fantasy author JW (author interview) at Barnes & Noble Sunset Valley. It was quite the event! JW went all out, offering chocolates, raffle prizes, and a cookie cake to her guests. It was JW's first-ever author signing, and she handled it with great grace and charm. Luminaries in the audience included VJ and JL.

This afternoon I got one scene written on F&M and then, though I had time to try another, found the well dry. The setting for the next one up is particularly impressive, so I did some online research to try to trigger my imagination. GLS suggested an alternative that may accomplish the same goals for the scene without the complication/diversion. On the theory that sometimes the least complicated solution is the most effective, I'm going to try that first.

Postal Purgatory

Did I say I had three scenes to go on this draft of F&M yesterday? Funny, I wrote a four-page scene today, and when I was done, I still had three to go. Hm. How did that happen?

Today I also had a Stephen-King-esque post office experience. It was the line that would not end, peopled by people with whom I did not want to spend eternity. One postal worker, four empty registers at the main desk. There was a cranky factor.

Forty-five minutes later, I climbed into the Olds, turned on the ignition, and looked behind me just in time to see two cars behind me crash into one another. Needless to say, my quick trip to the P.O. took longer than anticipated.

On the upside FH and BY came by tonight with lovely flowers and red wine to chat writing, reading, and life for a while.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Three To Go

GLS and I took a break last night, and I tried a cup of the shrimp gumbo at the Shoal Creek Saloon on North Lamar. It's a tad pricey at $5.25, but the shrimp are huge, fresh, and worth it.

I spent this morning formatting a couple of incoming author interviews on Cynsations and then keying in the last of of the changes from the read-through. This afternoon I wrote one of the four last scenes--three to go!

Dinner tonight at P.F. Chang's, largely because DHA stuck it in my head at her signing this past weekend. Kung Pao shrimp with peanuts on brown rice.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Spike Versus Dracula

I've finished reading through F&M, and I believe that I have four scenes (that I know of) to write. I still need to key in my notes from this time through, but I'm going to try to have the new stuff written before I receive VC packets on Friday.

By the way, I was reading over at AL's blog that her 18-year-old son thinks she's vain for hosting a website about herself. She takes it in stride, but I suggest Spookcyn readers surf over to offer some TLC (especially any of you who've ever been criticized by a teenager, whether you were one yourself at the time or not).

Also, am I the only one who thinks clocks that automatically switch to Daylight Savings Time are creepy?

Comic O the Week: a hard-fought battle. Runners-up were Batman: Legends of the Dark Knift #202 and Ultimate Spider-Man #92 (could anyone with a magnifying glass please tell me what Kitty says to Peter when they are reunited to prove she's her?); but the winner is: Spike Versus Dracula #2!

Comic Observation O the Week: any superhero whose code name ends with "lad" has a short future.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

I See Imaginary People

"My life may be weird, but at least it's not boring."
--spotted on a bumper sticker at Dragon's Lair

GLS and I were crusing home from Dragon's Lair tonight after an afternoon of novel writing. I'm reading over my WIP up to this point, fact-checking and preparing to address the skipped scenes.

Anyway, we're passing the Johnson Creek Greenbelt and my mind's eye produces my first clear image of my co-protagonists. I could "see" them standing side by side in the darkness. They're that real to me now. Finally. Hooray! And whew.

Today's scribbles in the Chicago journal from ERC include a note about T's wardrobe and the weather as he and D leave her place.

An Egg Is Quiet

Today's highlight was DHA's signing at BookPeople. Her latest titles include: An Egg Is Quiet, illustrated by SL (Chronicle, 2006), which has garned stars from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus; Mama Outside, Mama Inside, illustrated by SG (Henry Holt, 2006); and Mama's Wild Child/Papa's Wild Child, illustrated by NH (Charlesbridge, 2006). Find out more about DHA.

DHA read from her books and showed fans real-live eggs, large and small.

It was a star-studded turnout! Luminaries include GB, BXD, FH, JL (author interview), AL (author interview), MM (author interview), JP, LL (author interview), LGS, DT (illustrator interview), and JW.

Afterward JW and her husband Rodger joined GLS and I for lunch at ZTejas. I had the chicken artichoke stack ("[a]rtichoke-mushroom stuffing layered between grilled chicken breasts with soy mustard cream").

In other good news, GLS is finally getting a haircut this afternoon. Right now he looks like a member of The Monkees (as they did, ya know, back in the day; see The Monkees now).