Monthly Archives: October 2008

Happy Halloween

Everybody be safe and have fun this Halloween, whatever that entails for you. I’m excited about my plans.

And tomorrow, NaNoWriMo begins, so get ready…

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Phenomena

What does it mean that I keep thinking it’s 2009 already?

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The opening of fiction as seduction

Once again, Toni has a great writing post over at Murderati. This one is all about how to write the opening of a book, thinking of it as a seduction… Dammit (but also thank you).

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Worried and sad

I’m horrified to read about Jennifer Hudson’s mother and brother. Hoping for the safe return of her nephew, Julian King.

[10.28.08 Update: Sadly, I just learned that Julian King was found dead yesterday. My thoughts are with Jennifer Hudson and her family.]

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Voting, NaNoWriMo and extraneous fun

On the very precipice of NaNoWriMo (Nov. 1st) and the all-important vote (Nov. 4th), I’m finally writing again. Not that I haven’t had things to say, but it seems like I haven’t stood still long enough to say them lately.

First – very excited about the kick off of NaNoWriMo ONE WEEK from today. I still haven’t decided if I’m going to participate fully and officially by writing something new or if I’m going to try to use the crazy in-built propulsion of NaNoWriMo to do the rest of the new writing I need for TCB. If you want to keep track of my new words and be my novelling buddy, here is my NaNoWriMo profile. I will say that it’s important for me to participate in some way this year as last year was my first year and saved my life and/or my writing. Seriously. No hyperbole here. I’ve written “seriously” (my definition) since I was 10 years old and after 7 steady years of studying creative writing, I’d forgotten how fun writing could be, how much joy there was there for me. I had a memory of what it was like to want to write more than anything else, to enjoy it, and I desperately wanted that feeling back. NaNoWriMo helped give that back to me last year and I think I need a booster shot. Sign up and be my buddy. Commit to 50,000 words in one month – shoot for the stars. Even if you don’t achieve 50,000 words, you will have achieved something you never would’ve thought is possible – even if it’s 5 words you wouldn’t have written, 50, 500, 5,000.

And while I’m encouraging participation, it is ESSENTIAL that everybody vote. No matter how you vote (though I think everybody knows how I’d prefer this one to go), we MUST remember how much the power to vote means, how hard so many people fought for the right. And it is a right and a responsibility. We owe it to ourselves to do our part and speak up. Up until yesterday, I wasn’t entirely certain if I’d remembered to register to vote in Nola and I can’t tell you how pleased I was to learn that not only had I done my civic duty and registered appropriately, but I can WALK to the polls on my day off. That’s going to make it a very fun activity for me. Everybody vote – you won’t have any right to complain unless you do because you wouldn’t have done the bare minimum we can do as citizens to affect change.

Now that the advertisement and public service announcement are over, here’s some links to things I’ve been paying attention to:

Hannah Tinti’s new book and a tiny tidbit more on the humorously, pointlessly heated YA/adult fiction schism (from GalleyCat). [REALLY folks, WHY is it so necessary to define the difference as if both aren’t as difficult, as valid and as if they don’t crossover as much as they certainly do?]

WHOA – Christopher Buckley. Good for you. Also from GalleyCat.

Jewel of Medina’s only sold 3,000 copies, probably cause people are having trouble finding it. And a link from the above piece on Borders’ book buying. Both from GalleyCat.

I feel like there’s so much more I’m forgetting to say and to link to. That’s what happens when I don’t keep up with my interests and thoughts diligently, religiously. 🙂 Am very excited and conflicted about the multitude of amazing Halloween shows (Zydepunks and the New Orleans Bingo! Show. In one night! And this is even without trick-or-treating and costumes. Oh man.) Speaking of costumes, I love that I keep seeing people randomly walking around in them. Loving the cool weather, but not looking forward to retiring my flip-flops and being conscientious about sleeves. I’m not good at that stuff – am in serious denial. Maybe I can find some furry flip-flops and get away with just a scarf… I think I seriously need to consider buying a coat. Sigh.

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I’m in love…again…

I have reunited with my love, The Magnetic Fields, and come away from the event with my love renewed and amplified and electrified. Sigh. Drove 1,000 miles in 48 hours in order to catch them in Atlanta at the Woodruff Arts Center, picking up my sister and nephew on the way. We got stuck in really gross traffic (road work, accidents, rain), which made the trip into Atlanta, delivering my nephew to Grammy and getting ready take at least twice as long as it would’ve normally. But, we listened to “69 Love Songs,” “Get Lost,” and “The Charm of the Highway Strip” all the way from her house in Alabama to Atlanta (deliriously following a combination of MapQuest and sweetly surly Woodruff operator directions to the parking garage off of Peachtree Street (“JUST Peachtree Street, after you cross over West Peachtree Street…” – thank GAWD I grew up in Atlanta, thank GAWD I’m used to driving in a city) on 16th. The whole way, Me was blissfully “Not Mommy at the Moment,” throwing up her hands with her charming, pleased-to-be-out-even-if-we’re-not-there-yet smile. 🙂

Demonically exhausted and residually sick, I sat with Me in the 2nd row, to the left of the stage (if you’re facing it) and lapped up every sound, every second of the event. It’s the first time I’ve seen them live, after all. First, we watched Michael Hearst, their opening act, who was amusing and interesting and, best of all, a producer for Cassette from My Ex, which I discovered recently and adore. On the way back from dropping Me and the kid off, I got one of my typical “road trip brainstorms” for what, I realize now, is essentially Cassette from My Ex. Ooops. Good idea. ;”)

I was blissfully happy while The Magnetic Fields were playing and dismayed when they weren’t. They didn’t play either of my two utter favorites, but they did play some songs I hadn’t heard and some of the lovely familiar ones. Here’s a set list from a show earlier this year that was pretty similar (though, yes, different, so be warned).

One of my favorite moments was Stephin’s introduction to “California Girls,” “This is a song about media literacy. (decent length pause) And feminism.” He didn’t speak much, but was very funny when he did. It doesn’t matter what he says or sings, his voice is astounding. He’s one of the few people who embodies that saying, “he could read me the phone book,” which brings to mind “The Book of Love” lyrics, “I love it when you read to me and you can read me anything” and later, “I love it when you sing to me and you can sing me anything.” Really Stephin, those lyrics embody my feelings for your voice. On top of the “he could say/sing anything” sentiment is a ever-present thrill at how intelligent, witty and canny his lyrics and delivery are. I know I’m raving about Stephin Merritt and there are many other gorgeous vocals on their songs – Claudia Gonson and Shirley Simms. They deserve miles of appreciation for their vocals, it’s just that I don’t want to marry their voices like I want to marry Stephin’s. 🙂 Oh Stephin, you brilliant, funny, human Eyeore “Something bad will happen to them anyway,” he says about children on Good Day Atlanta, his persona underscoring the inanity of the newscaster’s. Priceless. I was amused, but not surprised, to read recently that ABBA is Stephin’s favorite band and whenever Shirley Simms sings, I have little flashes of Fleetwood Mac (in the best possible way). My other favorite moment was hearing “This Little Ukulele” for the first time. You can see it in Pt. 2 of this interview here (and here’s Pt. 1 for you, too).

In other things-I’m-interested-in, read this and watch the two SNL clips featuring Fey as Palin, Palin as Palin and a whole lot of can-you-name-what’s-wrong here. (Vising my parents’ home on my whirlwind Atlanta 48 hours, I was HORRIFIED to see my parents sandwiched in my McCain-Palin yard signs. There goes the cul-de-sac.)

Congrats to all the National Book Award Finalists, but especially E. Lockhart for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (via Publishers Lunch).

And: Oct 16 marks the 250th birth anniversary of Noah Webster (1758-1843), lexicographer extraordinaire, who compiled the American Dictionary of the English Language (1828), the first authoritative lexicon of American English.” The word of the day that day (via Wordsmith) was epeolatry, which is the worship of words. Hmmm. Maybe that’s my religion. I could really get into that. What would the appropriate church be? Perhaps Cheers, as everyone here is the loving-words type. Well everyone I talk to.

Did I say how good it is to be back? It feels like weeks and months since I got to lounge at Cheers. And whoa, somebody or other even made an appearance today, right on cue, all the way from NYC. Great timing SOO (as your nickname is anagrammed).

My coughing fit (yes, still coughing) is disturbing the others and I have a casserole dish full of Mamma Mia!’s world-famous, belly-infamous tuna casserole to enjoy. So, I now depart Cheers, stage right.

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Vote or shut yo’ mouth!

Becks just sent me this link. I especially love the campaign slogan, “Vota o quedate calla’o” — “Vote or keep your mouth shut.” I think we need our American version to be, “Vote or SHUT YO’ MOUTH!”

Today’s horoscope (Tarot.com): Thursday, Oct 9th, 2008 — Today you may get a glimpse of the intense times that lay ahead for you. This little “fast forward” can be instrumental as you try to figure out what you want to do next. But don’t try to make any important decisions yet, for you haven’t had sufficient time to explore the different paths. Instead, remain open to wherever you are led; you’ll have time later to make a more educated choice.

So sad and so true, 2008 is particularly bad (and that’s SAYING something!) for post-MFA graduates trying to find jobs. And I thought I had it rough last year. Well, I suppose I’m still technically a post-MFA looking for a job. Ish.

And in the MOST EXCITING NEWS EVER (E-V-A-H!), I just bought tickets to see The Magnetic Fields, one of my favorite bands if not THE favorite, in Atlanta next weekend. Whoooo hooooo!! Here’s a pretty cool video someone did of their song “Busby Berkeley Dreams”:

And another that Martin sent me that’s just cool (NOT Magnetic Fields):

And one I found that I really like:

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HOW could a whole week have gone by already??

I have even less context telling me WHERE I’m at (BR or Nola) than usual lately. Which has kind of kept me spinning, kept me from blogging and from writing much. Not much to confess for last week’s ‘Fess Up Friday. I’m working, but not so much in terms of word count. Thinking, editing and adding slowly but surely (only about 185 new words last night, but BOY are they brilliant).

Via After the MFA, a great quote from thank-goodness-for Junot Diaz:

What I learned was that to write a book you have to first become the person you need to be to write that book. I had to, like, literally change. I had to become a new person. I had to grow the f— up.

Here’s something I like. My most recent fortune cookie: Your present plans are going to succeed within the year. Since the only plan I currently have is to finish the novel (and I hope to finish it by the end of the year), I’m taking this as an EXTREMELY good sign. We’ll have words if you don’t take it that way too (and maybe we can count them and I can add them to my ‘Fess Up Friday tally…).

Today’s horoscope (from Tarot.com): Wednesday, Oct 8th, 2008 — Your key planet Saturn is locked in a tense dance with healer Chiron today and it’s up to you to figure out how to take this uncomfortable energy and turn it into a positive expression. You have the potential for grace in your life now, but you must be able to forgive someone or even yourself. The realization that no one is to blame can free you to process an old wound and move on with your life. (This one, I’m thinking might not have so much to do with my writing as my personal life, though since my writing is personal and a part of me, I’m sure it relates, also).

The Louisiana Book Festival this past weekend was awesome. WORLDS more organized and slick than it was during the first one, which I volunteered for (they were actually pretty organized for that one too, which just goes to show how far they’ve come). It was nice to catch up with a lot of my BR writing peeps at the author party I attended with Toni the night before, mostly former teachers and always mentors. Toni was kick-ass during her talk and it was a VERY pretty day, so perfect for an outdoor festival in Southern Louisiana.

The best part, though? (Sorry Toni…) ZYDEPUNKS!!! Whoooooo hoooo!! I missed their cd release party cause I went to GA after Gustav and then I missed the show they had the night before, Friday, cause I was in BR for the author party (DAMN you, Nick Fox for that little snippet you sampled for me over the cell phone. LOL). So, I got to catch their action for the first time in a long while AND snap up the new cd Finisterre, which is only available in Louisiana at the moment, until the 21st. I linked to cdbaby.com, though Finisterre isn’t available there yet simply because it’s the BEST cd-buying experience one can have online. Anyways, as soon as I had the new cd in my hot little hands, I ripped open the shrink wrap on my way to the car and shoved the sucker in immediately, listening to it all the way back home to Nola. Sooooooo good, so perfect for my long-deprived ears. How can you not like a band that’s a little bit punk and a lot zydeco and every bit delicious?

I got another cd at the festival, too. My good friend, Randolph, was kind enough to give me his band Flatbed Honeymoon‘s cd (self-titled). I listened to it the same day and was very, very pleased and proud. I forgot several times that I know 2/3 the band from my English Dept. days and just felt like I was luxuriating in some classic, tried-and-true tunes I’d loved forever. Especially “Constantly Insecure,” “The Electrician,” and “The Moon is Blue.” You can listen to “The Electrician” and some of the other songs from the cd on their MySpace page.

So I had a glut of amazing music, all in one day and I’ve been compulsively re-listening ever since. Also been listening to Kerli’s Love is Dead pretty intensely. And got wowed by Linda Ronstadt’s “We Will Rock You,” which is short but delightfully sweet and creepy.

Caught the first episode of The Ex-List online yesterday and very thoroughly enjoyed it. It was funny and I hope the show’s given a decent chance cause I’d like to see where it goes. Elizabeth Reaser is hysterical, but I like that they’re making it more of an ensemble with her sister and friends/housemates (DO they all live together in that house? Seems like it.) Kinda reminded me a bit of my soft spot show Quarterlife, which I believe can only be found online now (SUCH a good show, hope a DVD comes out soon). And also kinda reminds me of Friends and How I Met Your Mother a bit – in the sense of a group of young friends living together (or near each other) and trying to figure life out. That’s a really sappy description, but you get my drift, I hope.

Speaking of How I Met Your Mother, it’s been VERY good so far this season.

I think that’s pretty much all I have to say at the moment. Till next time…

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Nibbled to death by ducks

Via my emailed Publisher’s Lunch from a few days ago, I find that Scotland Yard has foiled a terrorist attempt on the life of The Jewel of Medina’s UK publisher. Here’s the link PL sent. The next day (yesterday), PL included this snipet:

Managing director of Compass (the sales company for the UK’s Gibson Square) Alan Jessop tells the Bookseller that Martin Rynja “has put publication [of THE JEWEL OF MEDINA] in suspended animation while he reflects and takes advice on what the best foot forward is.” The book was supposed to be published in the UK on October 15. Jessop added, “Everyone is going to have to be patient. This requires some careful thinking.”

That report follows author Sherry Jones’s agent Natasha Kern telling the NYT that Gibson Square “is planning to go ahead with the book, as are other publishers worldwide, despite this shocking attack.”

President of Beaufort Books Eric Kampmann indicates to the AP “that there were no immediate worries about safety” in the US and his company is proceeding with publication.”

I’m not liking the direction that all of this is taking – terrorism and censorship. The news about the terrorist attempt begs a chicken or egg question: did the terrorists get the idea to target the publisher of this controversial book from the NEWS reporting that terrorists might react negatively to it? Which came first? The speculation about terrorism or the idea on the part of the terrorists to terrorize?

Some speculation about Donna Tartt changing houses, via GalleyCat.

It feels wrong to speculate about terrorism and censorship in one breath and then talk about the more frivolous things I want to talk about, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

From Becks, a photograph of the world’s largest cupcake. That makes me happy.

In more sugar-related happiness news, I got to tour the Hubig’s Pies bakery today with a friend who works there. The private tour was complete with fresh (fresh!) off the press (?) apple pies and a beautiful mandatory hairnet. Too bad there’s no pictures of that – Emilie in a hairnet eating an apple Hubig’s pie. They don’t really advertise, but I bet they would’ve used that one and really moved some pies. LOL.

And to end on a not-frivolous, but still fun and touching note, read about Ruthie the Duck Lady.

(The nibbled to death by ducks comes from Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, which I’m listening to in the car.)

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Feeling good for October

Today is one of the prettiest I’ve seen in a long time. I’m in Nola, there’s a cool breeze and good things are happening. Groovy.

What good things, you ask?

My volleyball team won 2 of our 3 games last night. My serves improved, even if my communication hasn’t improved much yet. The team rocked and I was very proud of all of them, to be a part of them.

A few days ago, I finished Part I of TCB and barreled straight on through a good portion of the first chapter in Part II. Perhaps I’m being overly optimistic, but it feels like the rest of the book could come faster now because a significant portion of the new material is in Part I. I have a lot of new material left, but it feels like the rest of the book is more a matter of finessing and editing that creating from scratch. Almost all of Part I was brand spanking new. Maybe about 75% at least.

Looking forward to the Louisiana Book Festival this weekend. Hope the weather continues to be so pretty.

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